A Defense of the Minimal Facts

Have the minimal facts been knocked down? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was recently sent an article by Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica where he attempts to knock down the minimal facts approach. Looking through the article, I am largely unimpressed. For those interested, it can be found here.

The minimal facts approach is the one offered by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona. The idea is to take facts that even liberal scholarship will acknowledge that are attested to early and argue from there that the best conclusion that can be reached from what we know is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Much of this is done to avoid going to the gospels. As Habermas has said in many talks, the gospels are by liberal standards 40-70 years afterwards. You can go that route, but it’s much more difficult. It’s also done this way to just avoid “The Bible says it happened, therefore it did,” approach, as Habermas and Licona take facts that have been held by non-Christian scholars in the field.

So looking at Ferguson, I have a problem right off with this sentence.

“When investigating virtually every other past event outside of the origins of Christianity, historians operate under the principle of methodological naturalism.”

He goes on to say that

“If they did not responsibly limit the historical method to a purely secular epistemology, as I have discussed before, supernatural events such as witchcraft at Salem in the late 17th century would be fair game for being considered “historical” and we would have far greater evidence to support such miracles than the resurrection of Jesus. We can all see the absurdity of the former example and yet apologists (who exercise the same skepticism towards supernatural events outside of their religion) consider it an unfair bias to bracket Jesus’ resurrection as a religious, rather than historical, matter.”

Actually, no. I don’t see the absurdity of the former. I happen to know people who have been involved in the occult and have no reason to discount a number of claims that I hear from them. Also, even if we had greater evidence for Salem, so what? That means the evidence for the resurrection is not reliable? Does any historical claim become false if we have more evidence for another claim along the same lines? If we have more evidence for Hitler, does that mean that Napoleon is a myth? If we have more evidence for Napoleon, does that mean Alexander the Great is a myth?

Ferguson also has this idea that we’re all anathema to miracles in other religions. Licona himself asked me about this once in discussing miracles and said “What about miracles outside of Christianity like Apollonius and Vespasian?” My reply was “What about them?” If these people did miracles, so what. Questions need to be asked.

“Is there any particular religious message that is to be conveyed if the miracle is true?”
“What is the evidence for the claim?”
“Who reports the claim?”
“How close to the time is it?”

Personally, I would in fact welcome a strong case for Vespasian or Apollonius doing miracles. Why? Because doing miracles is not anathema to my worldview but is so to a worldview that is rooted in naturalistic thinking. That just opens up even more the possibility that Jesus rose from the dead since we can say “We have clear evidence of a miracle in this case. Why not the other?”

Of course, there is also the fact that Craig Keener has written a massive tour de force demonstrating miracle claims going on today. These have eyewitness testimony and have often medical reports backing them. In the volume, Keener also includes numerous arguments against the position of Hume.

So if we have miracle claims going on today, why should we ipso facto disregard all of them? Let’s open them up. While most atheists tell me about how we shouldn’t let bias deal with the data, if any side will have bias here, it will be the atheistic side. If all of Keener’s miracles were shown to be false I’d think it was a shame, but it would not disprove either his argument against Hume or the resurrection of Jesus. If just one of the hundreds of miracles Keener writes about is an accurate account, then atheism needs to come up with a better explanation.

So at the start, I do not see a good reason to accept methodological naturalism. When I look at history, I want to know what really happened and I cannot do that if I rule out explanations that I disagree with right at the start. If a miraculous event happened in history, the only way we can know that is if we allow ourselves to be open to it, and if we are not open to it when a miracle had in fact occurred, then we can never know true history.

Ferguson goes on to say

“I have, on the other hand, met several apologists who converted for personal reasons and later sought rational and evidential justifications when they were trying to convert other people who do not share such personal experience.”

Of course, some people come to Christianity for various reasons and then when looking into their belief system, find there are rational reasons for believing it. There are many of us who would prefer that apologists not use personal experience as an argument. I cringe every time Bill Craig uses his fifth way for instance. It’s way too much like Mormonism.

On the other hand, there are some people who start out critical and investigate the evidence and come away Christians. Lee Strobel, J. Warner Wallace, and Frank Morison come to mind. What really matters is the evidence that each side presents. If one comes to Christianity first and finds the reasons later, they cannot help that. Their arguments should not be discounted for that reason.

Going on we are told

“Such apologists, seeking to hijack the field of ancient history, are desperate to slap the label “historical” onto the resurrection. This goal is derived in no sense whatsoever from legitimate academic concerns, but instead is one born purely out of the desire to evangelize. Once Jesus’ resurrection is considered “historical,” you just have to accept it and apologists can cram their religion down people’s throats. It was to avoid such non-academic agendas that historians bracketed such religious questions in the first place. I myself was originally content with letting the resurrection be a religious, rather than historical question, but apologists have fired the first shot in attempting to invade the field of ancient history. Since they are now targeting a lay audience with a variety of oversimplified slogans aimed at converting the public rather than seriously engaging historical issues, my duty here on Κέλσος is to correct their misconceptions.”

It is a wonder how Ferguson has this great insight into the mind of everyone who has written on the resurrection from an evangelical perspective. I, for instance, have no desire to shove religion down someone’s throat. Do I wish to share my view? Of course! Who doesn’t? Can I force someone to accept the resurrection? Not at all! I can present the evidence that I see and let them decide and if they disagree, let them disagree with me on historical grounds.

When one considers the last sentence, I hope that Ferguson in turn is going after the new atheists who are targeting the lay audience with simplified slogans and even worse, not doing real research into philosophy and theology at all! This is evidenced by P.Z. Myers’s “Courtier’s Reply.”

Furthermore, I do not see how he could look at a work like Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” which is actually Licona’s PH.D. with a few updates and say that that it has oversimplified slogans and does not seriously engage historical issues. Could he say the same about a work like N.T. Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God”?

To be fair, I will not dispute that there is much out there that is garbage. There are works by Christian apologists that I myself have taken to task for being so light and fluffy. One such work even had Wikipedia cited in the back.

Moving on we read

“One such slogan is the so-called “minimal facts” apologetic, spawned by the likes of Gary Habermas and William Craig.”

Right here, I can tell the study has not been done on this. Craig’s approach is not the minimal facts approach of Habermas. In fact, Habermas himself says that some of Craig’s material are not facts that he would use. Craig’s material relies on the gospels. Habermas’s (And Licona’s in turn) does not. Thus, I will be spending this work defending the real minimal facts approach. If something is not part of the minimal facts, I will not waste time with it.

Ferguson continues,

“This “minimal facts” apologetic attempts to provide a minimal case for believing in just one of Jesus’ miracles: the resurrection. First, I find it to be completely disingenuous for apologists to pretend that they are trying to convince you of “only one” miracle. What if I believed in the resurrection, but thought Jesus did it through sorcery or simply left open-ended the question of its religious significance?”

That’s fine. Go ahead. Habermas has even said in public talks that at the start, he’s not saying God raised Jesus from the dead. He’s saying that Jesus rose. You come up with your explanation. You want to say it was sorcery. Fine. Say it was sorcery. Just give a reason why you think it was and why you think my explanation that it was God who raised Him is lacking. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?

“Apologists would not accept this and would obviously want to convince me that Elohim had raised their Messiah. What apologists don’t tell you is that in the fine print of the “minimal facts” apologetic there is a clause stating that by accepting the free trial of the resurrection miracle, you are signing yourself up for a lifetime subscription to a fundamentalist, conservative Christian worldview.”

No you’re not. There. An assertion made without an argument can be dismissed just the same way. All you have to do is get that Jesus rose. Don’t want to believe the Bible is Inerrant? Sure. Go ahead. There are some Christian scholars who hold to the bodily resurrection and don’t think the Bible is inerrant. Want to believe in theistic evolution? Sure. Go ahead. There are some like that as well. There are Christians of all stripes who believe Jesus rose from the dead and do not hold to a “conservative and fundamentalist approach.”

Besides, if a fear of accepting such an approach is behind Ferguson, then could it not be said that his worldview is shaping his looking at the evidence instead of the other way around?

“But furthermore, the “minimal facts” apologetic is not rooted in facts to begin with, and when stated honestly boils down to the argument: “If you accept the Bible as factual, how can you deny the fact of Jesus’ resurrection?”

This is not the minimal facts argument. In fact, the minimal facts argument is done to AVOID such a statement. One can take a quite liberal approach to the Bible and still accept the minimal facts. This is simply a straw man on Fergusons’s part. Of course, if the facts are wrong, then they are wrong and that is problematic, but we will see if they are.

“This apologetic takes a variety of forms, but is most commonly represented in the following manner. Apologists claim that there are “four facts” about Jesus’ resurrection:

After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb.
On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.”

This is Craig’s list. It is not the approach of Habermas and Licona. For instance, Habermas and Licona do not use Joseph of Arimathea at all. In fact, they don’t even get to the gospels. Therefore, I will not be wasting my time dealing with any arguments concerning Joseph or the reliability of the gospels or anything along those lines.

“Apologists love to use the term “facts,” so that these issues are treated as non-negotiable [1]. Of course, where do we learn of the details of these “facts”? From ancient secular sources disinterested in proving a resurrection? Nope, from the New Testament, in the works of authors who had a religious agenda to spread belief in Jesus’ resurrection. I won’t dismiss the argument on the grounds of bias alone, however, and will further demonstrate how the first two “facts” are not facts at all, the third is poorly worded, and the fourth exaggerates and oversimplifies the early belief in the resurrection.”

The NT which is also in fact said to be the best source for the life of Jesus, even according to skeptics like Bart Ehrman. An exception to this could be found perhaps in John Dominic Crossan who uses sources like the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas or in other scholars in the Jesus Seminar who give much weight to Q, which would in reality be found in the NT anyway, but even these would not dispute that the NT contains historical information.

Also, did these people have a bias? Yep. You bet. So did everyone else who wrote anything historical. There was no such thing as uninterested historical writing. Writing was not done just because someone wanted to write something. Ferguson writes about this because he cares about it. I write in response because I care about the topic.

Ferguson also says the first is not a fact. Again, so what? Even if it isn’t, the minimal facts approach is untouched. He also says the second is not a fact, which is interesting as well since this is the one minimal fact that Habermas himself says is not as well attested as the others. What about the third and fourth? Well we’ll see when we get there.

So let’s move on to the empty tomb. Ferguson thinks that dispatching with the claim about Joseph of Arimathea’s burial of Jesus deals with the empty tomb. No. It would just mean one account of the burial was wrong. It would not mean that there was no burial and thus no empty tomb.

Ferguson writes about the women being at the tomb and how the argument is they were not allowed to testify in a court of law and due to the criterion of embarrassment, the gospel writers would not make up such an account. The problem is that this is irrelevant to the minimal facts approach. The minimal facts approach does not deal with women coming to the tomb. It simply deals with the reality of the tomb. We could come here for extra evidence if need be, but it is not necessary.

Therefore, after giving an explanation for why he thinks the writers would use women based largely on MacDonald’s thesis of Mark basing his work on Homer, Ferguson thinks he’s disproven the empty tomb. Not at all. The basis for the empty tomb in the minimal facts approach is 1 Cor. 15. There, we find that Christ was buried and that Christ was raised. The raising would mean that there was an empty tomb left behind. A Jew would not accept the fact of a resurrection that left behind a body. Resurrection was bodily.

So therefore, I do not see fact two dealt with according to the methodology of the minimal facts approach. Let’s look at what he says about point three, the appearances.

““Fact three” of this apologetic is poorly worded, but this one does have a kernel of historical truth. I don’t think any skeptic denies that the early Christians claimed to have experiences of Jesus risen from the dead.”

Ferguson claims that we have such stories today and there were claims of post-mortem appearances in the ancient world. Fair enough. In fact, I could grant some of them, but do we have any claims of other people in the ancient world being raised to life, especially in the Greco-Roman culture where they were clear that resurrection did not happen?

Ferguson goes on to say that

“Do we have anything better? Well, we do have the apostle Paul, who wasn’t an eye-witness of Jesus, but who claims to have had a vision of him. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) elsewhere claims that he was once raptured up to “third heaven” in a experience that is very similar to the ones told by crazed street preacher, Clarence “Bro” Cope, who likewise claims to have been raptured to heaven twice and to have had Jesus appear to him. Are we to trust the testimony of people who for all purposes appear to be schizophrenic?”

It is hardly a fair comparison to compare Paul to Clarence “Bro” Cope, and the link that Ferguson has is in a post loaded with argument from outrage. Even if this had been a hallucination on Paul’s part, that does not equate to him being schizophrenic. Ferguson should leave such psychological judgments to those who do study history.

Should we trust Paul as well? NT critics seem to think so! Paul is quite well accepted. I don’t know any NT scholar who looks at what Paul says and says “Paul was crazy! Therefore we don’t need to deal with what he says.” Paul shows himself to be a learned man, a scholar of his day, and someone we should take seriously. Is Ferguson also allowing his bias (What he condemns in others) to interpret the facts to say that this did not happen? Note that in 1 Cor. 15, this is not described as a vision but put alongside appearances to Peter, James, the twelve, and five hundred.

What Ferguson wants us to think then is that all these people conveniently had the same hallucinations, that a rare event like a mass hallucination (Something Licona and Habermas have both dealt with) happened (It can even be disputed that one has happened), that it was a resurrection they thought they saw and that they did not instead see Jesus in Abraham’s bosom vindicated, and this still would not answer the question of where the body was anyway!

Ferguson continues,

“Paul’s testimony is useful, however, since Paul is writing only a couple decades after Jesus and he claims to have known Peter and other eye-witnesses of Jesus. What does Paul relate in 1 Corinthians 15? Nothing about an empty tomb being discovered by women. It is not even clear that Paul believed Jesus had physically resurrected in the same body rather than a spiritual one [4]. Paul instead reports that Jesus ὤφθη (“appeared to him”). This is the passive form of the verb ὁράω (“to see”), which very often means “to be seen in visions.”

To begin with, even Dale Martin in “The Corinthian Body” argues that the body Paul speaks of was physical. The idea that spiritual was opposed to physical was put to the test best by Licona who examined the word translated as physical by translations such as the RSV. He looked at every instance of the word from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. Not once was it translated “physical.” Spiritual would in fact mean something along the lines of “animated by the spirit.”

Furthermore, Licona says about ὤφθη in its Pauline usage in “The Resurrection of Jesus” that there are 29 usages of it by Paul in the NT. 16 refer to physical sight, 12 have the meaning of behold, understand, etc. Only one refers to a vision. However, this is still a problem in that the creed is not Pauline language really but language Paul got from elsewhere.

Where can we go to see? We can consider Luke. Luke uses the word to describe Jesus’s body appearing and Jesus eating food. One could say that this did not happen, but Luke believes that it did and Luke believes in a bodily resurrection. He uses the language of something that can be seen with the eyes. If Paul also agrees that resurrection is what happens to a corpse, then it’s reasonable to say that he thinks these appearances were of a body that had been a corpse and resurrected and thus, physical. One can say Paul is wrong, but let us be clear on what he means.

“Paul, who describes his own visions of Jesus in no physical terms at all (e.g. Galatians 1:15-16) likewise uses the same vocabulary to describe the early disciples’ visions of Jesus. Accordingly, the early post-mortem sightings of Jesus could have been little more than hallucinations and visionary experiences, perfectly explicable in natural terms. This would not at all be surprising for an early apocalyptic cult, in light of of the psychological conditions we observe of cult members today.”

The translation of Galatians 1 this way might be appealing to some in the Carrier type school of thought, but it is problematic still. For one thing, the wording in Galatians is highly ambiguous and most likely will be driven by one’s view of the resurrection. It is not wise to build a case on an ambiguous passage.

These could have been hallucinations? Okay. I need to see evidence of that. Why would the apostles have come up with this? It would have been the most easily disprovable theory and ended up costing them everything, especially in the society of the time where they would have received ostracism and of course, be going against the covenant of YHWH which means they would face His judgment. Paul himself would be in no position to have such an experience. He was a persecutor of the church and the conversion accounts in Acts include objective phenomena which means that this was not something that just took place in Paul’s mind.

It will not work to just say “This case is a cult that has hallucinations, therefore another case is like that.” We need to examine what makes the groups different. In Christianity, the differences are vast in comparison to other movements.

“Stories, of course, change over time, which is why the later Gospel accounts describe the post-mortem appearances in more physical terms. Consider a diachronic analaysis of how the resurrection stories developed over time:

Paul, the earliest source, has no empty tomb and just “appearances” of Jesus.
Mark, half a century later, then has an empty tomb.
Matthew, after him, then has guards at the tomb to confirm it was empty.
Luke then has a Jesus who can teleport and is at first not recognizable to his followers.
Finally, John has Thomas be able to touch Jesus’ wounds.
If you go later into the Gospel of Peter, Jesus emerges as a giant from the tomb with giant angels accompanying him.”

As has been argued earlier, for Paul to have buried and then resurrection would mean that there was an empty tomb left behind. If that is the case, one could then say Mark downplayed what happened with Paul as he left out the appearances! Furthermore, a writer like Hurtado has written showing the earliest view of Jesus would have been him seen as the Lord. Hard to go up from that one!

Now we move on to the fourth fact.

“First off, the ancient Jews and the people around the wider Mediterranean did not have carbon copy beliefs. There were all sorts of strange religions and new beliefs floating around the region at the time. Often times new religions are started by deviating from previous expectations towards new and radical ones. This certainly has a higher probability for explaining the origins of Christianity than a magical resurrection.”

Ferguson is writing against the idea that Christians would have a crucified messiah as their savior. To be sure, there were new beliefs floating around. How having a more radical belief is more probable than a resurrection has not been shown. The term magical is just a bit of well poisoning on Ferguson’s part. Magic in the ancient world does not correspond to what we have in the resurrection.

“But belief in the resurrection need not even be unlikely. Kris Komarnitksy has written an excellent article about how “Cognitive Dissonance Theory” can explain the early Christian belief in the resurrection. This theory observes that among religious groups and cults, when something occurs that violates the adherents’ previous expectations and beliefs, rather than abandon their cherished religious beliefs, they instead invent new and radical ad hoc assumptions to rationalize the alarming information. Just look at liberal Christians today who are “evolution-friendly” and think that Christianity is compatible with Darwin’s theory, after thousands of years of Christianity teaching Six Day Creation and a century and a half of Christians battling evolutionary science. Rather than drop their warm and comforting beliefs about their religion, they merely invent new stories to explain away how utterly discredited it has been.”

Let’s look at the first part. Why should I be held accountable for what Christians did for a century and a half. I am not a theistic evolutionist, but I have no problem with evolution. I just leave it to the sciences. I could not argue for it. I could not argue against it. Furthermore, Ferguson does not realize that there have been a wide variety of accounts of the age of the Earth in church history. This was the case even before the rise of the information we have today.

In fact, if this is what counts for a liberal Christian, then Ferguson has discounted his own theory that believing in the minimal facts requires you be a conservative fundamentalist since I believe in the minimal facts and I have no problem with evolution and hold to an old Earth.

Cognitive dissonance does occur, but should I think it has here? In every single case in ancient history that I know of, when the would-be Messiah died, the movement died. Why was Jesus’s case different? Why again did they go the hard way with a physical resurrection? Why not just divine vindication? Why would Paul and James have converted? Paul was a persecutor. James was a skeptic. What would it take to make you convinced your dead brother was really the Messiah?

“So the early Christians, when their Messiah was crucified, instead of abandoning their faith, rationalized the story through ad hoc assumptions. “Perhaps Jesus had only temporarily died!” “Maybe he will return soon from Heaven and avenge his death!” Such rationalizations could have easily triggered some of the mentally unstable cult members to start having hallucinations and visionary experiences of Jesus. They could tell others, who would then have a prior expectation that triggers similar visions or who would simply delude themselves through placebo effects, and suddenly a new rumor starts circulating that Jesus has been raised from the dead as the “first fruits of the resurrection.” The cult regains its confidence with a new expectation: “Soon all the saints will resurrect!” “Soon Jesus will return in this very generation!” (cf. Mark 13:28-30; 1 John 2:18) tick tock tick tock … “Okay, well maybe we have to wait for a couple new signs, but then he will return!” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4) tick tock tick tock … And so every generation of Christians has had its expectations reversed and yet believers just keep inventing new ad hoc assumptions to rationalize a worldview that has consistently and repeatedly failed to deliver.”

This part is quite amusing for me since, as an orthodox Preterist, I do hold that Jesus’s coming did take place within a generation! Jesus was right on time! Yet Ferguson’s account relies on possibility after possibility and doesn’t explain more likely options nor does it explain what really happened to the body. Was it eaten by dogs as Crossan says? We’d need an argument for that. Why would Paul and James go for this placebo effect? What did they have to gain from it? This relies on simply psychological history, something that is laden with problems. It’s hard enough to do psychoanalysis when you have the patient right there and can ask him questions. It’s even harder to do it for ancient people.

“Furthermore, thinking that their Messiah had only temporarily suffered, but would soon return in an apocalypse is not even that odd of a new development. Historical Jesus studies have found that Jesus was most likely an apocalyptic prophet teaching that a new “Kingdom of God” would soon come about through divine intervention, but that the righteous for the present would have to endure hardships and wait for their future reward. Sure, if Jesus had been a military Messiah, then faith in him probably would have dissipated following his crucifixion. But Jesus was talking about suffering followed by divine intervention in the first place. Is it really that hard to create an ad hoc assumption that Jesus had only been crucified because of temporary suffering, but that he would be returning soon as the agent carrying out the divine intervention they were awaiting? Not at all. Of course, the divine intervention never happened, but it does explain how belief in the resurrection could emerge through cognitive dissonance, visions, and hallucinations, followed by later legendary developments of a physically resurrected Messiah interacting with his followers.”

Once again, as a Preterist, I say that yes, the divine intervention did happen and is in fact happening. Ferguson reads the Olivet Discourse I suspect the way that a conservative fundamentalist does. You remember them? Those are the people that were condemned earlier. Again, why would this belief have been invented? If anything, it would have most likely been a belief that Jesus would judge Rome as Israel hoped. It would not be that Jesus would judge Jerusalem, the holy city!

And of course, the apostles had nothing to gain from this! They received ostracism and were social pariahs. Paul describes what he had to gain from all of this in 2 Cor. 11. James we know was put to death for what he believed.

In his conclusion, Ferguson says

“The ironic thing about apologetic attempts to “prove” the resurrection is that if god really existed, we would not have to rely on such a fantastical historical quest to prove it. God could just provide miracles today making it clear that he exists and he could tell us that Christianity is the correct religion.”

This is more along the lines of “God must do my work for me.” If Keener is right, God is doing miracles today. Furthermore, much of this has been dealt with in my writing recently on the argument from locality, an argument I find full of problems. See here.

Looking at this from Ferguson, again the question is “Is Ferguson’s worldview shaping the evidence or is the evidence shaping his worldview?” This is an indication that it is the former that is taking place.

Of course, it is not surprising since Ferguson did not even get Habermas’s approach correct. Perhaps he will do better next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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45 Responses to “A Defense of the Minimal Facts”

  1. A Defense of the Minimal Facts | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM Says:

    […] To read on, click here: […]

  2. jayman777 Says:

    With the Salem witchcraft example, I think he is trying to say that if you don’t think witches really inhabited Salem then you shouldn’t think Jesus rose from the dead since the evidence for the former is better than the evidence for the latter. I address this claim here.

    Concerning evolution and Christianity, it can also be noted that there were Christians who accepted evolution in the 19th century. It’s not as if all Christians opposed evolution for 150 years and just recently “liberal” Christians have come to accept evolution.

  3. apologianick Says:

    Thanks!

  4. The “Minimal Facts” Apologetic Remains Toppled | Κέλσος Says:

    […] a Christian blogger named Nick Peters wrote a critical response (available here) to my article Knocking Out the Pillars of the Minimal Facts Apologetic. Having carefully read […]

  5. Peter Says:

    Matt responded to your article.

  6. apologianick Says:

    I saw. I could reply on Monday. That’s my thinking now. It depends on my schedule.

  7. Peter Says:

    You work with carm, correct?

  8. apologianick Says:

    I’ve written for them in the past, but I don’t work with them really. Why?

  9. Peter Says:

    I’ve sent them an email about this guy, so I was thinking that you got it that way.

  10. apologianick Says:

    Nope. I was told about it another way.

  11. Knocking Out the Pillars of the “Minimal Facts” Apologetic | Κέλσος Says:

    […] article received a critical response from a Christian blogger that can be read here. After reading the post, you can scroll back to this page and read my reply to the post […]

  12. Steve Pap Says:

    http://evaluatingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/why-the-minimal-facts-model-is-unpersuasive/

    This also seems interesting.

  13. Henry Says:

    http://evaluatingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/why-the-minimal-facts-model-is-unpersuasive/

    http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/48/

    I would love to see your response to these.

    • apologianick Says:

      I have seen the first one already. Someone else gave it to me. I also am aware that Ferguson has written a reply. I do plan on answering it. I have said maybe Monday. It depends. I do my show on Saturday and I take a break on Sunday and I still have book reviews to write.

  14. Henry Says:

    https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/48/

    That wasn’t Ferguson’s response, but a different post.

  15. Bill Says:

    You should do a review on “The Myth of Persecution”.

  16. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [Deeper Waters] So if we have miracle claims going on today, why should we ipso facto disregard all of them? Let’s open them up. While most atheists tell me about how we shouldn’t let bias deal with the data, if any side will have bias here, it will be the atheistic side. If all of Keener’s miracles were shown to be false I’d think it was a shame, but it would not disprove either his argument against Hume or the resurrection of Jesus. If just one of the hundreds of miracles Keener writes about is an accurate account, then atheism needs to come up with a better explanation. [eye-rolling inanity]
    Why not put it another way for your premise. If ALL miracles were proven false, what then would it require to re-examine your position against naturalism? It’s not WHO is providing the miracles, it’s the fact that they ALL don’t allow for very much scientific validity. Actually you present ANY miracle here as they truly should be believed, credulously (ie Apollonius & Vespasian).
    Sure, they’re are sublime miracles to be had in the universe. That is the beauty in ‘beauty’. But your premise begs the question… about these not-so-sublime miracles you prefer (blush).

  17. apologianick Says:

    Bunto: Why not put it another way for your premise. If ALL miracles were proven false, what then would it require to re-examine your position against naturalism?

    Reply: Miracles are only a part of my position. My position also rests on an independent strong case for theism. Furthermore, the fact is true. A lack of miracles would not demonstrate nature is all there is. It could be there is still a God who is waiting to do a miracle for some reason and will do so in the future. It could be deism is true.

    Bunto: It’s not WHO is providing the miracles, it’s the fact that they ALL don’t allow for very much scientific validity.

    Reply: Category fallacy. Miracles are a metaphysical question, not a scientific one. Furthermore, all of them? That’s a strong absolute question. Are you saying you’ve examined closely every single miracle case, including those documented by medical professionals?

    Bunto: Actually you present ANY miracle here as they truly should be believed, credulously (ie Apollonius & Vespasian).

    Reply: It would be nice to have an argument along with this assertion.

    Bunto: Sure, they’re are sublime miracles to be had in the universe. That is the beauty in ‘beauty’. But your premise begs the question… about these not-so-sublime miracles you prefer (blush).

    Reply: Which can bring us to the problem of pleasure. Why should there be beauty in an accidental universe? But no, my premise does not beg the question. It just says Ferguson hasn’t made his case and Keener’s work is testimony to that.

  18. Notch Says:

    Hello Nick. I am greatly looking forward to your reply to Mr. Ferguson.

    I would also like to ask what your take is on claims that John was martyred.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/3153885

    http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/lets-presuppose-that-miracles-happen-the-gospel-resurrection-stories-are-still-unworthy-of-belief/

    This seems like a repeat of David Hume (I think), with already refuted information, however just asking what your take is on this.

  19. apologianick Says:

    Hi Notch, I might get to a look at if John was martyred or not. Don’t know. It all depends on time constraints and such. I plan at this point in writing a reply on Monday. Since I do my show on Saturday, I don’t blog then, and Sunday is my day of rest. I don’t even interact with comments here, or debate on TheologyWeb and Facebook on Sunday.

  20. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    God as figment of the mind
    [Nick] “Miracles are only a part of my position. My position also rests on an independent strong case for theism. Furthermore, the fact is true. A lack of miracles would not demonstrate nature is all there is. It could be there is still a God who is waiting to do a miracle for some reason and will do so in the future. It could be deism is true.”
    So you are saying that supernatural agency is unnecessary/negligible in validating the very belief towards this supernatural agent? Your conclusion, “It could be that deism is true.” leads me to wonder if ‘true’ could ever be understood between us as something verifiable, evidential, having substance, determinable scientifically, etc.
    [Nick] “Miracles are a metaphysical question, not a scientific one.”
    I hope readers here will see how this statement confounds many naturalists. The believer insists on the ‘truthfulness’ of his god hypothesis… yet will not allow for scientific scrutiny of this deity that intercedes in our shared reality.
    Nick, many non-believers exist outside of your mind’s constraining delusion, and they are understandably critical about spreading the behavior IF it entails propagating a distorted reality (grin).
    Otherwise OK I guess, everybody has/can have an inner voice. But as a shared delusion?… obviously not desirable despite any perceived noble premise by the propagators.
    [Nick] “It just says Ferguson hasn’t made his case and Keener’s work is testimony to that.”
    If Keener’s work hasn’t been scrutinized by a consensus of medical professionals, of what validity is it then? How exactly does it set back Ferguson’s case (materialism) if it has no standing there as containing SOME substantive miracle facts? Books claiming miracle facts should be authenticated before acceptance as a ‘book of miracle facts’ that attests to a supernatural agency.
    thx bunto

  21. apologianick Says:

    Bunto: So you are saying that supernatural agency is unnecessary/negligible in validating the very belief towards this supernatural agent?

    Reply; No. I was only talking about the existence of something and not I use the term suprahuman. I do not hold to the silly idea of natural/supernatural distinctions.

    Also, I would happily admit that if there are no miracles, Christianity is false. Christianity depends on a miracle. However, the falsehood of Christianity does not entail that all theistic arguments fail.

    Bunto:Your conclusion, “It could be that deism is true.” leads me to wonder if ‘true’ could ever be understood between us as something verifiable, evidential, having substance, determinable scientifically, etc.

    Reply: I suspect you see many of those terms as synonymous in some way. I don’t. Is my position verifiable? Of course! It’s metaphysically verifiable! Is it evidential? Yep. My position starts with the knowledge of the five senses and works from there. Having substance? Well I think my arguments do have substance and lead to the primary substance, being itself. Determinable scientifically? No. Science cannot answer the God question with yes or no. Science can only tell you about the material world. It cannot tell you about immaterial truths. That’s why I also don’t use the first and second ways of Craig.

    Bunto:[Nick] “Miracles are a metaphysical question, not a scientific one.”
    I hope readers here will see how this statement confounds many naturalists. The believer insists on the ‘truthfulness’ of his god hypothesis… yet will not allow for scientific scrutiny of this deity that intercedes in our shared reality.

    REply; Yes. I know it confounds you because you don’t bother to understand metaphysics. I use the same approach that Aristotle used in seeking knowledge. Your statement depends on all truths being suspect to scientific scrutiny, a claim itself that is not suspect to scientific scrutiny.

    Bunto: Nick, many non-believers exist outside of your mind’s constraining delusion, and they are understandably critical about spreading the behavior IF it entails propagating a distorted reality (grin).

    Reply; Good! If they think Christianity is a delusion, let them argue that! No problem! I just want to see if they can back it! I can tell you if you really want to argue this, the place to go to is TheologyWeb.com. I have the Deeper Waters section there.

    Bunto: Otherwise OK I guess, everybody has/can have an inner voice. But as a shared delusion?… obviously not desirable despite any perceived noble premise by the propagators.

    Reply; I made no claim to an inner voice and have no need for modern pop theology. I cringe at many pastors talking about the leading of the HOly Spirit. Such leading in Scripture is about moral decisions, not personal secondary decisions. It is about following conviction.

    Bunto: If Keener’s work hasn’t been scrutinized by a consensus of medical professionals, of what validity is it then? How exactly does it set back Ferguson’s case (materialism) if it has no standing there as containing SOME substantive miracle facts? Books claiming miracle facts should be authenticated before acceptance as a ‘book of miracle facts’ that attests to a supernatural agency.
    thx bunto

    REply: Numerous miracles of Keener’s are in fact verified by medical professionals. Would it be ruled out by those who have a priori belief in naturalism? Not at all. Of course, you could just do something odd like, I don’t know, read the book yourself.

    I’m on pretty good grounds. If all miracles in there are still wrong, I still have the resurrection, but if even one or some are, my case is stronger. Your position has to reject all of them a priori.

    Seems to make me think someone was writing a post complaining about views that are biased. I wonder which one of us has the most bias in how we approach Keener.

  22. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [Nick] “I do not hold to the silly idea of natural/supernatural distinctions.”
    Now may the readers know why science is a consensus enterprise.
    [Nick] “Also, I would happily admit that if there are no miracles, Christianity is false. Christianity depends on a miracle. However, the falsehood of Christianity does not entail that all theistic arguments fail.”
    Hmm, interesting. If the train has no engine/no outside force to motivate it, how else can we agree that it is unable to move?… or should we just keep inventing different arguments that imply the train is actually moving relative to us? This is the cream of the jest for religion in toto.
    [Nick] “Good! If they think Christianity is a delusion, let them argue that! No problem! I just want to see if they can back it!”
    Easily done. Just as there are no unicorns or leprechauns in reality, they only exist within the mind of their believers. The consensus of science has PROVEN all delusions are unreal via the inability to detect & test for them…. time and time again, in different locations, with different instruments, etc.
    [Nick] “Numerous miracles of Keener’s are in fact verified by medical professionals.”
    Please. I questioned if they have been looked over by a CONSENSUS of medical professionals… say for example the AMA? Googling your assertion, I have found none with that critical proviso.
    [Nick] “I’m on pretty good grounds [not really]. If all miracles in there are still wrong, I still have the resurrection, but if even one or some are, my case is stronger [nope, sorry]. Your position has to reject all of them a priori [ridiculous assertion].
    Seems to make me think someone was writing a post complaining about views that are biased [huh?]. I wonder which one of us has the most bias in how we approach Keener [explanation given below].”
    To quote a popular Carl Sagan-ism “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. If bias is to be insinuated within this short axiom, one can suspect something already is amiss (grin).

  23. cornelll Says:

    Bunto “To quote a popular Carl Sagan-ism “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. If bias is to be insinuated within this short axiom, one can suspect something already is amiss (grin).”

    And this is exactly why Carl Sagan was a terrible philosopher:

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence ”

    This claim itself seems extraordinary, because it’s making a claim about truth. And it’s making a claim about every kind of truth that seems extraordinary, therefore the claim itself is extraordinary.

    This statement is not analytically true, so What extraordinary evidence is there to support this extraordinary claim.

    I would never in a million years go to Carl Sagan for advice on epistemology…

  24. apologianick Says:

    Replying for now. Won’t reply again until Monday. No debating on Sunday. Need to recharge.

    Bunto: [Nick] “I do not hold to the silly idea of natural/supernatural distinctions.”
    Now may the readers know why science is a consensus enterprise.

    Reply: I’m sure you think there’s some logical connection between those two, but there isn’t.

    Bunto:[Nick] “Also, I would happily admit that if there are no miracles, Christianity is false. Christianity depends on a miracle. However, the falsehood of Christianity does not entail that all theistic arguments fail.”
    Hmm, interesting. If the train has no engine/no outside force to motivate it, how else can we agree that it is unable to move?… or should we just keep inventing different arguments that imply the train is actually moving relative to us? This is the cream of the jest for religion in toto.

    Reply: Um. No. If theism is false, Christianity is false. That follows. If Christianity is false, that does not imply that theism is false. After all, Aristotle was a theist and his argument for God does not fail if Christianity is untrue.

    Bunto: [Nick] “Good! If they think Christianity is a delusion, let them argue that! No problem! I just want to see if they can back it!”
    Easily done. Just as there are no unicorns or leprechauns in reality, they only exist within the mind of their believers. The consensus of science has PROVEN all delusions are unreal via the inability to detect & test for them…. time and time again, in different locations, with different instruments, etc.

    Reply: This is not the area of science again. Science can make no statement yea or nay. Also, you’re comparing a fully transcendent reality with a limited spatial reality like a unicorn or leprechaun. Please. Deal with real theistic arguments sometimes.

    Bunto: [Nick] “Numerous miracles of Keener’s are in fact verified by medical professionals.”
    Please. I questioned if they have been looked over by a CONSENSUS of medical professionals… say for example the AMA? Googling your assertion, I have found none with that critical proviso.

    Reply: Medical professionals aren’t in the habit of reading works on biblical scholarship. Again, deal with what evidence Keener gives. Not complain about evidence you wish he’d given.

    Bunto: [Nick] “I’m on pretty good grounds [not really]. If all miracles in there are still wrong, I still have the resurrection, but if even one or some are, my case is stronger [nope, sorry]. Your position has to reject all of them a priori [ridiculous assertion].
    Seems to make me think someone was writing a post complaining about views that are biased [huh?]. I wonder which one of us has the most bias in how we approach Keener [explanation given below].”
    To quote a popular Carl Sagan-ism “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. If bias is to be insinuated within this short axiom, one can suspect something already is amiss (grin).

    Reply: Yeah. How exactly do you recognize this extraordinary evidence. Does it glow?

  25. cornelll Says:

    It appears that Ferguson didn’t post my last comment on his blog with respect to his response to Nick

    So I will post it here:

    Ferguson says “I provide a definition of what I would consider to be a miracle in another blog, just search “miracle”:

    http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/defining-theism-atheism-supernaturalism-and-naturalism/

    One main criterion is that miracles involve agency or intention, which nature does not exhibit. So they would not just be categorized under nature. “

    Me: Your link defines miracle as “Miracles are events caused by supernatural agencies that supersede the capabilities of non-teleological natural forces and agents derived from non-teleological natural forces.”

    It looks like we are in the same ballpark, I only asked this because IMO finding the right definition is where philosophers come into conflict, and I believe this right here can make or break a debate, only because of the potential strawmen that come about afterwards. The Latin miraculum, which is derived from mirari, is defined as “to wonder” thus the most general characterization of a miracle is as an event that provokes wonder.

    Augustine (City of God XXI.8.2) defined miracles as: “that a miracle is not contrary to nature, but only to our knowledge of nature; miracles are made possible by hidden potentialities in nature that are placed there by God.

    Thomas Aquinas ( Summa Contra Gentiles III:101) defined miracles as: “a miracle must go beyond the order usually observed in nature, though he insisted that a miracle is not contrary to nature in any absolute sense, since it is in the nature of all created things to be responsive to God’s will.

    Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, miracle section:

    David Hume stated miracles as: ““A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.”

    David Hume – ‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ L. A. Selby Bigge, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902), pp. 114

    My definition of ‘miracle’ comes from the Cambridge Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (2008):

    “An event (ultimately) caused by God that cannot be accounted for by the natural powers of natural substances alone. Conceived of this way, miracles don’t violate the laws of nature but rather involve the occurrence of events which cannot be explained by the powers of nature alone. When dead bodies come back to life it is a miracle because the molecules that make up the corpse lack the powers necessary to generate life.”

    ^This definition is very similar to the one used by Thomas Aquinas and G.W Leibniz.

    Ferguson says “That’s the problem. Someone like Jesus could do this in the present and we could observe the chemistry of the water and see it being changed. That would change our background knowledge about the possibility of one in the past. The problem is: no such events happen to day and we only learn of such things in the writings of bronze age myths. Hence why we have low prior probabilities for unobservable past claims of miracles.”

    Me: I only see a problem with Jesus being incapable of doing this act in the present. If Jesus is capable of turning water into wine, it doesn’t matter whether or not we call this act a miracle, all that matters is the event of water turning into wine happening. Though I think it is possible for this act to even be considered something natural, I still at this point in time believe that when water instantaneously turns into wine, one should label it a miracle, because water molecules do not have the power to change wine on their own. I could be wrong, as a scientist in 24,009AD will find a way, but I’m still epistemically justified right now to call this a miracle.

    You also say no such things happen today, well I have two points to make on that:

    I’d argue that it makes sense that God would increase the regularity of miracles during the life of the Jesus as a way of demonstrating the Messiahship of his Son. Therefore, God had a special reason for doing so.

    My second point is I think there are accounts of miracles being claimed in modern times, especially in academia. Now if we follow the last several decades you’d notice a recent explosion of interest in the supernatural in the Western academy.
    Here are sources:

    F.J Beckwith ‘David Hume’s Argument against Miracles: A critical analysis”

    J. Houston “Reported Miracles: A Critique of Hume” This was published by Cambridge University press

    R.A.H. Larmer “Water into Wine?: An Investigation of the Concept of Miracle”

    Richard Swinburne “The Concept of Miracle”

    T.C Williams “The idea of miraculous: The Challenge to Science and Religion”

    And of course Craig Keener’s book, though I haven’t read that one yet so I can’t vouch for it, however I’ve heard good things about it.

    We have some encounters coming from Western academics who have reported personal experiences that entail what most likely appears to be a supernatural explanation, in which cracked their naturalistic paradigm that forced them to conclude that there is more to reality than just nature and what science reports. Here are 2 anthropologists

    Larry Peters: Ecstasy and healing in Nepal: and ethnopsychiatric study of Tamang shamanism. (Other Realities, Vol. 4.) viii, 179 pp. Malibu, California: Undena Publications, 1981

    Edith Turner “Experiencing Ritual”
    Then we have testimonies from members of the Jesus seminar of all places:

    “I have no trouble believing in the plausibility of some events that to some of my fellow scholars simply seem impossible…Because of…{my} experiences with spiritual healing, I have no difficulty believing that Jesus actually healed people, and not just of psychosomatic diseases.”

    Walter Wink ‘Write what you see’ 6. From The Fourth R magazine (May/June 1994)

    So I think it’s pretty reasonable to assert that there are still miraculous claims being reported in recent times.

    Ferguson says “Look at my link above for my definition of naturalism. I did not say that miracles are impossible”

    Me: I never said you did, I was arguing about the low probability (which later on, I will show how I could even concede to this, but yet still rationally believe that miracles possess the better explanation for event X)

    This is what I said before: “Right, so now I can just argue against those who think the probability of miracles are low and state that they are arguing from ignorance.”

    Anyways,

    Ferguson says “but that there is currently no reasonable evidence to think that they occur outside of rumors and legends.”

    Me: But now we have some accounts from academia, this goes on top of Craig Keener’s work

    Ferguson says “We don’t have to know everything about nature to know that Santa Claus probably doesn’t exist. We draw reasonable inferences from the data that we have.”

    Me: Right, but I don’t think this is a good analogy since Santa and God possess two wholly different natures of being. God is a legitimate question that has greater implications on human existence if in fact he exists. God defined in common use is a necessary being that is the creator and sustainer of all contingent states of affairs, Santa Claus is not. If you want to make an analogy of Santa Claus, then I’m going to use his properties as they are used in common use, if you want to give him different properties then you can define him again.

    Ferguson says “Here is a good article from Richard Packham that discusses the standard of evidence and miracles:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_packham/heart.html”

    Me: And this point is where I disagree with him the most

    Packham states “So does an extraordinary event require extraordinary evidence? If “extraordinary evidence” means “clear and convincing” evidence or evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt,” then the answer is clearly “yes.”

    This claim itself seems extraordinary, because it’s making a claim about truth. And it’s making a claim about every kind of truth that seems extraordinary, therefore the claim itself is extraordinary.

    This statement is not analytically true, so What extraordinary evidence is there to support this extraordinary claim?

    Ferguson says “The whole Cartesian demon card can be played all day. I go off of the evidence I have, which is a purely natural world with no miracles.”

    Me: It can be played all day, and it goes to show that there are beliefs in which we have absolutely no empirical evidence for, but are rationally justified to believe in. Person A can be ask Person B to demonstrate the existence of the physical world and all B can do is either use the physical world to demonstrate it or admit to A that he takes the physical world to be self-evidently true. If B takes the former then B has therefore assumed the existence of the very thing B was asked to demonstrate from A. Science or any empirical justification ends up being absolutely powerless here, as it can never give a sliver of evidence for the fact of whether or not we reside in the Matrix.

    Of course if we say that we take the belief of the physical world as being self-evidently true this doesn’t make it the case that the physical world exists, but it does give us a good reason with respect to justification. Sometimes ‘reasons to believe’ are all we got to use as ‘evidence’.

    I’ll use Jaegwon Kim for support here:

    “The concept of evidence is inseparable from that of justification. When we talk of “evidence” in an epistemological sense we are talking about justification”

    – Jaegwon Kim

    Ferguson says “I take it you haven’t seen brain scans and cannot draw reasonable inferences from other people who for all purposes appear to have minds. “

    Me: I take it that you don’t see the circular reasoning here. You are presupposing these OTHER PEOPLE existing before you even make these reasonable inferences, therefore with this presupposition comes the vicious circularity, and you have not solved the problem of other minds. You basically just presuppose the thing that you are trying to give evidence for.

    Ferguson says “I do argue for why the a priori probability of a miracle occurring is low and I provide a link in my article to my writings about it:

    http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/history-probability-and-miracles/”

    Me: Ok, so how do you get past the problem of induction? Well I’ll get back to that, but let me address this:

    Ferguson says in his other link “No matter how strong the expected evidence might be, no matter how many rumors there are of the miracle happening, no many how many ancient sources claim it happened, there prior probability would still drag down the probability of the miracle to being infinitesimal. In such a circumstance, any non-miraculous hypothesis, no matter how intrinsically improbable, no matter how unattested, no matter how speculative, would still be a more probable hypothesis than the miracle.”

    Me: But you aren’t solving the problem here, even IF there is a low probability with respect to miracles that still doesn’t mean that a natural explanation for X would be a better explanation of X. I will cite an expert here on the subject for support, as he is a philosopher of historiography.

    Aviezer Tucker states “A low posterior probability of any hypothesis, including a miracle hypothesis, is not sufficient reason for rejecting it. It is rational to go on accepting and using a low-probability hypothesis as long as there is no better explanation of the evidence.”

    A. Tucker ‘Miracles, Historical Testimonies and Probabilities’ History and Theory 44 (2005) : 381.

    QED

    So I could easily just make an appeal to simplicity and state that even if miracle X has a low probability, it still could be used as an explanation that ends up being simpler than any natural explanation, that provides no good reasons to explain away the evidence.

    I’ll try and be back to answer your responses sometime this week…

    I noticed that this comment wasn’t in moderation anymore, but yet it wasn’t posted on his blog either.

    Bunto also wants to argue with me on Fergusons page, well I’m not going to have a debate with someone when I get censored, so if Bunto wants to argue here where I know my comments will actually go through, I’m game.

  26. The Minimal Facts Still Stand | Deeper Waters Says:

    […] against the minimal facts to see what I would have to say about it. My response can be found here. I posted my link on Ferguson’s blog in the comments section. While Ferguson initially said […]

  27. apologianick Says:

    http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/the-minimal-facts-still-stand/

  28. The Minimal Facts Still Stand by Nick Peters | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM Says:

    […] is written my friend Nick Peters. I previously posted his link called A Defense of the Minimal Facts. The author responded to Nick and Nick has responded […]

  29. cornelll Says:

    @Deconversionmovement

    So….We have another interlocutor who is making noise on a thread

    Let’s see if Deconversation can put his money where his mouth is and see if he can debate someone on a thread that doesn’t entail censorship.

    Let’s start with this:

    “Brain scans do not assume the existence of other minds; the existence of other minds is substantiated via brain scans.”

    So who is doing the brain scan? Am I doing it myself or is the other person that I presuppose existing do the brain scan?

    This doesn’t solve the problem of other minds, nor does it even pose the slightest problem. For all the solipsist knows he could just be imaging the event of the brain scanning.

    So you need to dig deeper.

    “Also, all minds aren’t normative; this is to say that there are clear structural, psychological and cognitive abnormalities. ”

    Sez who? Was this coming from the works of those people presupposed existing?

    “Brain scans show us the difference between the brains of a compulsive liar, a psychopath, and a normal individual. ”

    Begs the question that these types of people actually exist to the point where you can make a comparison, hence you have to presuppose that other liars, psychopaths and normal individuals exist, before you start making comparisons. The solipsist could just be imagining all of this and making up properties to go along with his imaginary people.

    The problem of other minds is still not solved.

    You then finish with an obvious self-refutation

    “Also, the existence of other minds is made obvious by such individuals. My mind manifests itself differently from theirs and that is made obvious by differences in behavior, speech, etc. ”

    I’m getting embarrassed for you now, your argument is circular. You are being asked to demonstrate the existence of other minds and you are trying to use other minds to demonstrate it. You’ve therefore assumed the existence of the very thing you are being asked to demonstrate.

    You end up in a circularity

    Now I won’t go into Popper and how he failed to refute the problem of induction, nor will I go into other claims, because I’m not sure if whether or not you will show up.

    But I will end this rebuttal by pointing out a blatant strawman on your part.

    “If so, aren’t we reduced to predetermined puppets on strings? If Mr.Ferguson’s mind can’t be empirically shown to exist, why are you worried about the conclusions stemming from his mind? ”

    First off if one is going to critique another person’s view they have an intellectual duty [if they wish to be taken seriously - and it's quite possible you do not want to be taken seriously] to get their view correct in their representation of it.

    Notice how I was talking about JUSTIFICATION, if you actually read what I said in my response instead of what you wanted me to say you’d notice this:

    “The concept of evidence is inseparable from that of justification. When we talk of “evidence” in an epistemological sense we are talking about justification.”

    Jaegwon Kim

    If you actually took the time and followed the debate you’d notice we were discussing what ‘reliable evidence’ entails

    I advised Ferguson that there are SOME beliefs in which we have 0 empirical evidence for, therefore I was only showing Ferguson that there are beliefs in which WE take to be rational, but yet have 0 empirical evidence used for as our justification for that belief, hence we take these beliefs to be SELF-EVIDENTLY true.

    This is epistemology 101, did your friends who post academic quotes ever demonstrate this to you? Or were you blowing them off, because they were posting quotes from academics in which therefore you took the approach of hand-waving the SUBSTANCE of what was being quoted from the academic, only because an apologist was quoting it?

    Well I’m really hoping you do show up, and I’ll even give you a few days to respond, so by all means take your time. You talk a big game, now let’s see how you do when someone is in your face to respond.

    ty

  30. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    There is no Spoon
    [Cornelll] “So who is doing the brain scan? Am I doing it myself or is the other person that I presuppose existing do the brain scan?”

    Quoting the late & great Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011 RIP)

    There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.

    1 down, 3 more to go :)

  31. cornelll Says:

    “There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.”

    My what a name drop Bunto, I see you’ve picked the perfect authority to discuss matters with respect to the philosophy of mind.

    Well if we look at Christopher Hitchens very small contributions to philosophy in general

    http://philpapers.org/advanced.html

    It makes a lot of sense to me now, why I only remember the hateful Hitchens for three things, one was his QED argument that he brought up in his debates.

    “Mother Theresa was a horrible woman, therefore God does not exist”

    And his ultimate slip up against William Lane Craig, a debate where Hitchens got smacked around like a foolish child (as atheist Luke Muehlhauser put it.) Hence I totally agree with Luke here:

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=1230

    Hitchens “How many religions in the world do you consider to be false”

    WLC ” I don’t know how many religions in the world they are”

    Hitchens “Sorry, I was clumsy in asking that question”

    And lastly, how his whole arsenal of debating consisted of overtone, and very little substance to hide his ignorance of topics relevant to the philosophy of religion, Bible scholarship and theology. I guess he needed comfort to deal with the absurdity of life, so he basically just angry at Christianity and built up an obsession of hate to give himself a subjective ‘meaning’ in which got him through his pointless existence in his purposeless universe that entailed no a priori telos for humanity.

    So…Bunto, do you have anything to add to Hitchens statement that actually provides more SUBSTANCE and less OVERTONE? Something I can work with here? I know Hitchens was obsessed with hating on Christianity, but that doesn’t magically make it the case that Christianity was true.

    Or do you go with the whole “Hitchens says so therefore Bunto buys into it, as it must be true”??????

  32. cornelll Says:

    http://philpapers.org/advanced.html

    ^Just plug in Hitchens’ name^

    Because I’m feeling charitable I will throw you a bone here Bunto

    You might be better off using Daniel Dennett as your authority here, hence he actually has a good number of scholarly works published on this subject (Philosophy of mind)

  33. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [cornell] “You might be better off using Daniel Dennett as your authority here, hence he actually has a good number of scholarly works published on this subject (Philosophy of mind)”.

    Alright. Which books of his have you read?

  34. cornelll Says:

    “but that doesn’t magically make it the case that Christianity is true….”

    Whoa, I read this over and I don’t think Bunto will get this as I was stating it a bit tongue in cheek. I meant it as Hitchens deep down knew Christianity was true, but he didn’t want to be accountable for his moral decisions that took place in his life so he needed a crutch, therefore he built up hate and figured this delusion on his end will wipe away the pain that came with the truth of being morally accountable for his actions.

    I could have meant it this way as well:

    “but that doesn’t magically make it the case that Christianity is false”

    Carry on

  35. cornelll Says:

    “Alright. Which books of his have you read?”

    ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life’

    The book where he made a false dichotomy between Theism and evolution, as if we had to choose. A book where Dennet tried to play theologian.

  36. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [cornell] ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life’

    The book where he made a false dichotomy between Theism and evolution, as if we had to choose. A book where Dennet tried to play theologian.

    Yeah. A lot of non-believers don’t know all the proper theology that makes up evolution. ‘Soulish’ animals anyone?

  37. cornelll Says:

    “soulish’ animals anyone?

    Begs the question that physical matter is all there is

    A hard materialist is like a man who places a camera inside a sealed box, takes pictures of the inside of the box, and concludes that nothing could possibly outside the box, based solely on the fact that his own limited and flawed system doesn’t take pictures anywhere but inside the box.

    The hard materialist is also engaging in blatant circular reasoning, which is a classic logical fallacy:

    1. Hard Materialism is correct. Therefore:

    2. Nothing exists outside the material universe. So:

    3. Hard Materialism is correct.

    It’s not only Theists who disagree with Dennett, here are non-theists that don’t hold to such a hard materialism and would argue against him.

    David Chalmers: ‘The Conscious Mind’

    The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series)

    The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series)

    Buy from Amazon

    John Searle” “The Rediscovery of the Mind”

    The Rediscovery of the Mind (Representation and Mind)

    The Rediscovery of the Mind (Representation and Mind)

    Buy from Amazon

    Jaegwon Kim “Physicalism, or Something Near Enough”

    Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)

    Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)

    Buy from Amazon

    Thomas Nagel “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False”

    Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

    Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

    Buy from Amazon

    And here is a more recent book that has many philosophers from academia (Theist and Non-Theist alike) who argue against Physicalism…at least in the hard materialist sense that philosophers like Dennett hold to.

    The Waning of Materialism

    The Waning of Materialism

    Buy from Amazon

    So as far as I’m concerned, nothing is settled on this issue. There is still a debate on this subject.

    Though I still Dennett is a good philosopher, to deny that would be silly.

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