Is Harry Potter True?

Can one dismiss the gospel accounts by pointing to the boy wizard? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’s amazing that the group that likes to call themselves freethinkers all seem to think exactly alike and follow the exact same thought patterns. One idea catches on in the group and those who make the most out of condemning gullibility are immediately shouting it from the rooftops unaware that a few minutes worth of research could have prevented them from making such blunders.

A major one going around today is to say that if you believe the stories of Jesus are true, what about the stories of Harry Potter?

Because we all know there’s just a one-to-one parallel right there.

If we are to say it’s because of fantastical elements, well nearly every ancient writing of the time had some fantastical elements. We would have to throw out all of ancient history by this. Of course, not all did this, but it was something common still.

For instance, biographies of Alexander the Great that we have and even consider authoritative state of him that he was virgin born. Do we throw them out? No. We just look and say “Well this is a late tradition with not much behind it and we should be skeptical.” A mistake many critics make is thinking that history is an all-or-nothing game. An account is totally reliable in everything or it’s totally false in everything.

Unfortunately, many Christians make the same mistake with Scripture.

For the sake of argument Christian, what would it mean to you if you found out that there was one error in the Bible? Would you pack everything up immediately, conclude Jesus didn’t rise from the dead and that you can’t know anything about Him, and then abandon your Christian faith?

If your answer is yes, then you have a problem.

For me, if it was true, I’d still have an incredibly strong case for the resurrection, but I would have to change my views on inspiration and inerrancy. My overall method of historiography however would remain unchanged. I would just say I’d been wrong in some usages of it.

Now the comparison going around the net just doesn’t work. It says that Harry Potter has stories in it that are magical and therefore, it is untrue. The gospels also have stories in them that are magical. If we were being consistent, we’d say the gospels are untrue.

To begin with, the objection assumes that such a thing as magic does not exist. We do not know that for sure. Now is it fine to be skeptical of such a claim. In fact, I encourage skepticism, but if your worldview automatically precludes such a thing, then you are reaching a decision before examining the evidence.

Furthermore, the Harry Potter novels are in fact written to be fiction. No one has any idea that Rowling considered herself to be writing an authentic account of events that were taking place. The gospels by contrast are Greco-Roman biographies. They are not hagiographies, those came later. They must be judged by what was there at the time and at the time, they were written as Greco-Roman Biographies, accounts written to be historical. (The only exception could be Luke which could be a historiography with Acts being part 2 of it.) Those wanting more information on this are encouraged to read Richard Burridge’s “What are the Gospels?”

Now if we are to say that the problem is the gospels contain miracles, we come to the same objection. Has it been shown that miracles cannot happen? In fact, given Craig Keener’s book “Miracles” we can have a strong case that miracles do in fact happen and are still abundantly claimed today.

“Yeah. Well you’ll accept miracles in Christianity, but what about those outside your Christian tradition?”

That’s simple. If you show me a miracle that has good evidence backing it, I will believe it happened. It doesn’t have to be within my Christian tradition at all. If you can show me there’s a strong case that Vespasian healed blind men for instance, I’ll be more than happy to say that he did even if I can’t explain it, but good luck doing that.

Incredulity is not an argument. You may think miracles are ridiculous. Fine. It doesn’t work against my worldview to say that your worldview is different. You will need to give me an argument for your own worldview.

In fact, whenever I see someone use the Harry Potter analogy to explain away the gospels, I already am certain that I am meeting someone who is unfamiliar with historiographical standards at all. To skeptics of the NT, I encourage you to get a better argument. Start by reading good scholarship on both sides. Maybe in the end you’ll still disagree with me, but I hope it will be an informed disagreement.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

76 Responses to “Is Harry Potter True?”

  1. David Says:

    The issue with skeptics like myself is that you do not seem to have a consistent criteria by which to deem ancient accounts of miracles true. You show judicious skepticism towards Vespasian, while presumably you swallow the claims of the gospel. Yet history has not bequeathed us with evidence of the latter; nothing beyond ancient hearsay. Ancient hearsay is simply not remotely sufficient to account for events that can easily be explained by ordinary human activity. It’s special pleading to grant miracles of the gospel (written by anonymous sources decades after the purported events) while maintaing skepticism towards all non-christian miracle claims.

  2. Professor VJ Duke Says:

    The professor is both impressed (with how well put this was) and overjoyed with the sentiments here. If one has been reached… Thanks for the great post!

  3. apologianick Says:

    Hi David,

    Let’s talk about historiography.

    First off, you claim that this is ancient hearsay. Do you have any evidence to back that up about the gospels? Have you gone through Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” or have you just dismissed it? Do you have a standard historiographically whereby you have shown that the gospels are both A) not eyewitness accounts and B) not written within the lifetime of witnesses.

    Second, you make a claim about the gospels being written decades later. Yes they were. So what? Most of ancient history is written at least a century after the events. Why should it be otherwise? Fewer people could read by far and the oral tradition was more reliable. In fact, the purpose of the written tradition was often to keep up with the oral tradition.

    Third, you make a claim about the gospels being anonymous. Would you care to tell me your methodology whereby you determine ancient authorship? For instance, you could say you know the account of Vespasian in Tacitus comes from Tacitus because Tacitus’s name is on it, but I can show you six Pauline epistles I doubt you accept as Pauline even though Paul’s name is on them. Also, there is no dispute that Plutarch wrote Plutarch. Do you know that they don’t have his name signed on them and our attestation that he wrote them comes a century later?

    Fourth, let’s look at the account of Vespasian. What do we find? Well here’s what Tacitus says.

    “Vespasian at first ridiculed these appeals and treated them with scorn; then, when the men persisted, he began at one moment to fear the discredit of failure, at another to be inspired with hopes of success by the appeals of the suppliants and the flattery of his courtiers: finally, he directed the physicians to give their opinion as to whether such blindness and infirmity could be overcome by human aid. Their reply treated the two cases differently: they said that in the first the power of sight had not been completely eaten away and it would return if the obstacles were removed; in the other, the joints had slipped and become displaced, but they could be restored if a healing pressure were applied to them.”

    The blind man was not wholly blind and the lame man not wholly lame. Note also that the healing was done in honor of Serapis, the patron deity of Alexandria, one of the first cities to declare in favor of Vespasian taking the throne, thus entitling them to benefits. There is a payoff there.

    For the miracles of the NT, these are not glamorous in nature. They do not often point to any one specific person or city. They would in fact be embarrassments because miracles were looked at as hucksters. Furthermore, I trust the gospels more because of the strong case from the epistles that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Finally, if you do have a competing miracle claim that you think has equal testimony to the gospels, then by all means present it and the evidence, I am open.

    And to the professor, thanks for the compliment.

    • David Says:

      Thanks for the reply. No time for detailed talk of historiography, but suffice it to say there is good reason to be skeptical of gospels as eyewitness accounts (such as the recording of private conversations and the clear borrowing of the synoptic gospels, which predate John). Even if I grant you that there is some evidence for your side, it’s hardly definitive. At most, one could grant a “well, maybe…”
      And even if they were eye-witnesses, that does NOTHING to prove miracles like the ascension or resurrection. There are all sorts of first hand accounts, even today, of miraculous healings in India. Naturally, we are skeptical without compelling evidence (meaning more than simple testimony; and certainly more than ancient hearsay). My contention stands that christians suspend their skepticism when it comes to the miraculous claims of the bible. History, comparative religion, anthropology, sociology and psychology show over and over and over the same mundane phenomena that produced and produces religion, like christianity. And it’s simply quite explainable without magic or miracles.
      As you surely know, the ancient middle east was full of superstition, so the miracles of christianty would blend right in. And no, not all miracles were embarrassing. There are accounts of faith healers and plenty of obscure sects. Anything was possible in that fervent environment, including the christian sect.
      I’m often asked what would persuade me- well, the following would NOT persuade me, but it would certainly lend more plausibility to the christian narrative:
      notice and records by contemporary historians;
      a huge following that would indicate something out of the ordinary happened (christianity’s numbers were very low in the first half century of its inception- hardly what we would expect if thousands witnessed dramatic unbelievable miracles…)
      Cheers,
      David

  4. Jeyna Grace Says:

    There is no error in the bible to even imagine if there is one. Haha. Even if someone tries to throw one at me, I doubt I would believe them. Maybe that’s me saying I won’t pack up my bags and leave.

    • David Says:

      You do not know who wrote the gospels. To assert they were eye-witnesses puts the burden of proof on you.
      You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.
      You wrongly characterize my view. You said “you reject the gospels because you believe them to be hearsay.” I am simply stating that ancient hearsay is not sufficient to prove miracles. I don’t “reject the gospels” whole-sale. I reject unlikely claims within that cannot be supported by evidence. Ditto for supernatural claims of, for example, Islam. I doubt you believe the accounts of Mohammad flying to outer space on a flying horse. Just as likely that Jesus did it (minus the horse, of course).
      I am not epistemologically closed to miracles, contrary to your characterization. I simply need evidence that outweighs other normal explanations. In the case of Jesus, there are plenty of other explanations that fit the few facts we have. The onus is on you since you claim that the NT miracles occurred, when nothing like Jesus’s miracles happen now- now that we have the technology to capture it. There are hundreds of millions of people and exactly none of them fly into space, defy death, or walk on water. Claiming otherwise necessitates strong evidence. It’s prudent to be skeptical of claims that defy the behavior of billions of beings.
      As to the religious demographics of the ancient m.e., it was far more religiously diverse than you characterize it. Yes, superstition was rampant. There was everything from ascetics to hedonists. You can argue proportion, but to deny religious/philosophical diversity indicates unfamiliarity with ancient religion.

      You ask why would you believe ancient contempory historians would write about Jesus? Because of the astonishing claims that you apparently believe! If somebody truly performed such miracles, there would be a remarkable wave of followers that would catch the attention of historians. Nothing written for decades. I’m NOT saying this disproves the gospels. Just saying that there’s insufficient evidence for the supernatural claims (because mundane explanations better fit the evidence).

  5. apologianick Says:

    David: Thanks for the reply. No time for detailed talk of historiography, but suffice it to say there is good reason to be skeptical of gospels as eyewitness accounts (such as the recording of private conversations and the clear borrowing of the synoptic gospels, which predate John).

    Reply: Until you give me those reasons or some good scholarly sources, then I suppose you will just want me to take this by faith? If so, then I don’t do that. I need some sort of argumentation for that.

    David: Even if I grant you that there is some evidence for your side,

    Reply: To say there isn’t is just a horrid position to take. It means that any conservative NT scholarship is just relying on nothing whatsoever?

    David: it’s hardly definitive. At most, one could grant a “well, maybe…”

    Reply: I’m expecting a reply to why someone like N.T. Wright can give a “Well, maybe.”

    David: And even if they were eye-witnesses, that does NOTHING to prove miracles like the ascension or resurrection.

    Reply: More on this next.

    David: There are all sorts of first hand accounts, even today, of miraculous healings in India. Naturally, we are skeptical without compelling evidence (meaning more than simple testimony; and certainly more than ancient hearsay).

    Reply: SO let’s see, you reject the gospels because you believe them to be hearsay. Now you speak of firsthand testimony of miracles and you reject those to. Therefore, the reason for the rejection of the gospels is not that they’re eyewitness or not (Most of ancient history isn’t) but because of their claim. Therefore, the case is decided on the nature of the claim prior to the evidence.

    Do you usually decide cases before viewing the evidence?

    David: My contention stands that christians suspend their skepticism when it comes to the miraculous claims of the bible.

    Reply: Your contention is wrong here. I had a Muslim man tell me a few months ago he was miraculously healed of prostate cancer. In fact, he didn’t tell me but I overheard it elsewhere. I had no reason to deny it. I figure most people know well about having cancer and about not having cancer. I have no bias.

    As Chesterton said, the theist believes in a miracle (Rightly or wrongly) because of the evidence. The skeptic disbelieves in a miracle (rightly or wrongly) because of a dogma against them.

    David: History, comparative religion, anthropology, sociology and psychology show over and over and over the same mundane phenomena that produced and produces religion, like christianity. And it’s simply quite explainable without magic or miracles.

    Reply: First, I suggest then that you go through Keener’s “Miracles” and give the explanations for why so many healings seem to suddenly take place after prayer in the name of Jesus, including resurrections.

    Second, I would like to hear what the benefit was that Christians gained from their teaching, especially when their teaching was socially unacceptable and had nothing going for it. No one wanted to believe in a crucified Messiah for instance.

    David: As you surely know, the ancient middle east was full of superstition,

    Reply: No it wasn’t. Philo tried to allegorize away many miracles in even the OT. There are only two characters well known in the intertestamental period in Judaism for doing miracles. Hanani and Honi-the Circle Drawer. Miracle workers were not common. When the early church wanted to compare Jesus to a miracle worker, they had to go back to people like Pythagoras.

    David: so the miracles of christianty would blend right in.

    Reply: No they wouldn’t. The Roman Empire was incredibly skeptical at the time.

    David: And no, not all miracles were embarrassing. There are accounts of faith healers and plenty of obscure sects.

    Reply: Yes, and they were often looked down on when they were there, yet Christianity instead grew among the middle to upper class very quickly, the ones that had the most to lose by joining.

    David: Anything was possible in that fervent environment, including the christian sect.

    Reply: Simply a statement of faith.

    David: I’m often asked what would persuade me- well, the following would NOT persuade me, but it would certainly lend more plausibility to the christian narrative:
    notice and records by contemporary historians;

    Reply: Why on Earth would I expect contemporary historians to say that much about Jesus? What amazes me is not that so few people mentioned him but that anyone at all did.

    David: a huge following that would indicate something out of the ordinary happened (christianity’s numbers were very low in the first half century of its inception- hardly what we would expect if thousands witnessed dramatic unbelievable miracles…)

    Reply: Yes it is. Just like then, people explained things away. When your Messiah figure gets crucified, you start finding other explanations.

  6. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [NPeters] “What amazes me is not that so few people mentioned him but that anyone at all did.”

    ‘Amazed’ like in the gospel narrative sense?… the pharisees were amazed, the people were amazed, Pilate was amazed, etc.

    When one reads the gospels and takes the numerous claims of the renown of Jesus at face value they are just missing the overall deeper meaning I guess.

    David, welcome to the ‘maze’.

    -b

    • David Says:

      You fail to provide hard evidence to back up extraordinary claims. That is all. Ancient accounts of miracles are not sufficient. People cannot fly. Claims to the contrary are ridiculous on their face unless bolstered by extraordinary evidence. You have none. History is replete with similarly incredible claims. They are likely false, barring sufficient evidence.

    • David Says:

      Brunto, sorry my reply to you was meant for apologianick. My mistake!

    • mike Says:

      You realize, Bunto. that not once in all your commenting on here have you ever added anything profitable. Not…even…once.

      • Bunto Skiffler Says:

        [Mark] “You realize, Bunto. that not once in all your commenting on here have you ever added anything profitable. Not…even…once.”

        Proverbs 12:1, NET

        The one who loves discipline loves knowledge,
        but the one who hates reproof is stupid.

        I’ll try easier commenting for you Mark 🙂

  7. apologianick Says:

    David: You do not know who wrote the gospels. To assert they were eye-witnesses puts the burden of proof on you.

    Reply: I’ll gladly take it. I have no problem with it. That’s why I said I was hoping I’d get a reply to Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”

    As for the authorship of the gospels, give me the methodology whereby you establish the authorship of an ancient document.

    David: You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.

    Reply: Oh that’s amusing. You go to Europe sometime to the bastions of NT scholarship. Everyone knows who N.T. Wright is. Everyone responds to him. You mention Richard Carrier and everyone says “Who?” They don’t know who he is. Carrier doesn’t have the pedigree that far far weightier scholars have.

    David: You wrongly characterize my view. You said “you reject the gospels because you believe them to be hearsay.”

    Reply: Oh? So you do believe them to be eyewitnesses? Which is it? If it doesn’t really matter which way, why bring it up?

    David: I am simply stating that ancient hearsay is not sufficient to prove miracles.

    Reply: This assumes all we have is hearsay. That is a claim you have not made. I am prepared to back the claim they are eyewitness accounts with historical methodology. Are you prepared to back the claim that they are hearsay? For me to not be able to back my claim does not demonstrate yours. For you to not be able to back your claim does not demonstrate mine. if you want me to back my claim, you back yours as well.

    David: I don’t “reject the gospels” whole-sale. I reject unlikely claims within that cannot be supported by evidence.

    REply: This assumes that there can be no evidence of a miraculous event. Why should I believe that?

    David: Ditto for supernatural claims of, for example, Islam. I doubt you believe the accounts of Mohammad flying to outer space on a flying horse. Just as likely that Jesus did it (minus the horse, of course).

    Reply: Tell you what. You give me the evidence taken seriously by non-Muslim scholars that fits with the claim that Muhammad flew on a horse. I’ll give you the evidence that fits with the resurrection accepted by non-Christian scholars. We’ll compare.

    David: I am not epistemologically closed to miracles, contrary to your characterization. I simply need evidence that outweighs other normal explanations.

    Reply: Then I suspect you’ll be rushing out immediately to check Keener’s claim.

    David: In the case of Jesus, there are plenty of other explanations that fit the few facts we have. The onus is on you since you claim that the NT miracles occurred, when nothing like Jesus’s miracles happen now- now that we have the technology to capture it.

    Reply: Begging the question. THis assumes miracles are not happening now. Keener’s claims argue otherwise. His accounts are largely of modern day events. For the case of the resurrection, I’d argue the resurrection best fits these facts.

    Jesus was crucified, a shameful death.
    Jesus’s tomb was found empty.
    His disciples claimed to see him after He was dead, often times in mass appearances.
    His brother, a skeptic, became a follower of His.
    Paul, a skeptic, became a follower.
    The Christian movement had everything going against it and nothing going for it and yet conquered the Roman Empire.

    David: There are hundreds of millions of people and exactly none of them fly into space, defy death, or walk on water. Claiming otherwise necessitates strong evidence.

    Reply: Yes it does. Gladly provided. Note one does not verify a claim by seeing how many other people don’t do that claim. They verify it or disprove it by looking at the evidence.

    David: It’s prudent to be skeptical of claims that defy the behavior of billions of beings.

    Reply: Yes. It’s also prudent to bend down and change your mind in the face of strong contrary evidence that goes beyond just probabilities and actually does real historiography.

    David: As to the religious demographics of the ancient m.e., it was far more religiously diverse than you characterize it.

    Reply: Good thing I never denied it being diverse.

    David: Yes, superstition was rampant.

    Reply: Repeating an untrue statement doesn’t make it more true.

    David: There was everything from ascetics to hedonists.

    Reply: Yes. The Stoics were ascetics largely. They held to something divine, but they were more pantheistic and would not have gone after miracle claims. The Epicureans were hedonists and did not take the question of God that seriously. They also would not have gone for miracle claims.

    David: You can argue proportion, but to deny religious/philosophical diversity indicates unfamiliarity with ancient religion.

    Reply: I never denied diversity. I denied gullibility.

    David: You ask why would you believe ancient contempory historians would write about Jesus? Because of the astonishing claims that you apparently believe! If somebody truly performed such miracles, there would be a remarkable wave of followers that would catch the attention of historians.

    Reply: And we have such claims today about faith healers and about Catholic cites that numerous historians ignore. If you’re a historian sitting in Rome and hearing about someone in Judea doing miracles, are you really going to go look or say “Oh boy. There are those crazy people again. Let’s talk about this economic situation we have going on now.?” No. People who did not witness the claims themselves would have been especially skeptical. I have written about this earlier: https://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/jesus-is-not-worth-talking-about/

    Jesus did not have political office. He did not travel widely. He did not wage any battles. He did not do anything really that would have made him noticeable by the pagans of the time.

    David: Nothing written for decades.

    Reply: The same for most everyone else in ancient history. You didn’t write as much back then. Why should you? At most about 10% of the population could read and the written word was not as valuable as the oral word. You can find out more about this in the book soon coming out, which I have read an advanced copy of, called “The Lost World of Scripture.”

    Take off the Gutenberg Galaxy glasses and see how the ancient world worked.

    David: I’m NOT saying this disproves the gospels. Just saying that there’s insufficient evidence for the supernatural claims (because mundane explanations better fit the evidence).

    Reply: Then by all means give the evidence that best fits the data. If you want to see a good refutation of the skeptical theories, there’s no better place to go than the skeptical scholars themselves. They often undermine one another’s arguments very well.

  8. David Says:

    You fail to provide hard evidence to back up extraordinary claims. That is all. Ancient accounts of miracles are not sufficient. People cannot fly. Claims to the contrary are ridiculous on their face unless bolstered by extraordinary evidence. You have none. History is replete with similarly incredible claims. They are likely false, barring sufficient evidence.

  9. apologianick Says:

    David. please come back here when you have a methodology and actual argumentation and scholarship. I’ll be glad to discuss the evidence then.

    • Bunto Skiffler Says:

      [NPeters] “David. please come back here when you have a methodology and actual argumentation and scholarship. I’ll be glad to discuss the evidence then.”

      Is that a promise? David, please check out Matthew Wade Ferguson’s site Celsusblog:

      http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/

      Then come back here and try again, David vs Goliath style or Mighty Yahweh v Puny Marduk style 🙂

      -bunto

      ps. thx Nick for the post

    • David Says:

      It’s revealing that you won’t reveal your evidence until I post an essay on historiography. If there’s evidence, why are you so coy about revealing it?? Sounds obvious to me.

  10. mike Says:

    “David: Nothing written for decades.” – this is contentious, we have a very good basis for presupposing the disciples (especially Matthew) would have taken notes (Earle Ellis presents this in “Making of the NT Documents”

    “David: You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.”- And I’ll raise you Donald Duck- the only people that would take this seriously are his enamored fanboys- I mean no offense, but people who actually do this stuff professionally (biblical and historical studies) find Carrier to be infuriating given the very poor quality of his work.

    • Bunto Skiffler Says:

      As he taught, Richard Carrier said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

    • David Says:

      Ad hominem is good enough for Mike, but not for me. I don’t say Wright is just a fundie quack, yet you do the same with Carrier. Sounds like you are frightened.
      As I said the gospels origins are contentious. You don’t even know who wrote them, yet you assert that they are eyewitnesses. It’s one thing to entertain a theory- quite another to assert that one is definitely true.

  11. DagoodS Says:

    If anyone is interested regarding the robust discussion regarding the genre of the Gospels, this blogger has written numerous posts interacting with scholarly approaches wrestling the topic.

    In (extreme) brief, while most scholars fall on the side of bios, this categorization is large enough, it may not provide enough refinement to make the classification useful. While not strictly novels, the gospels display enough characteristics of novels, and reliance upon the Tanakh, they don’t strictly fall within historical bios either.

    It is a complicated issue, not easily outlined in full. Indeed, if one pops over to the link, one will quickly ascertain there are books and books and books written on the topic.

    • Bunto Skiffler Says:

      The 1st thing that jumped into my thinking was that Vridar series as well. You are way ahead of the game D.

      Vridar ~ The Genre of the Gospels, How the Consensus Changed

    • Derek_M Says:

      The blogger you have linked to has some reservations but believes Burridge’s thesis stands. Check out what he wrote in the entry “Interacting with Tom Verenna (Rook Hawkins) on the Gospel Genre”:

      “I still think Burridge’s study on the overlapping features between the Gospels and Greco-Roman bioi stands.”

      As for Vridar, it is amazing in his opening statement of disagreement with Burridge ( http://vridar.org/2011/01/17/are-the-gospels-really-biographies-outlining-and-questioning-burridge/ ) how he can apparently read a book yet have no ability to comprehend it at a basic level. The complaints he raises of Mark not being “about a person” are answered clearly by Burridge.

      • Bunto Skiffler Says:

        [Derek]”..no ability to comprehend it at a basic level.”

        Please. His inability to comprehend it looks thorough enough… and this isn’t even his final post on the subject.

        -b

        ps. Do you know NG? I’ve had my run-ins with him, but never because of any insufficient capacity. (politics yes)
        pss. There’s that word “amazing” again. Is this the Gospel of Mark week or what?

  12. apologianick Says:

    Actually David, I did give my evidence to you. I listed claims that are agreed upon by NT scholars across the board. The only one somewhat questionable is the empty tomb, but the majority will readily grant the facts that I gave. Your only response was to say I have no evidence.

    And no, there’s no fear of Carrier. It’s just the hard facts. Carrier is popular among internet atheists and that’s it. N.T. Wright meanwhile is someone who is setting the standard in NT scholarship. Just do a simple test. Wait five years. See whose views are being interacted with more. Is it Wright or Carrier? See who has retracted more of their position than anyone else. Is it Wright or Carrier? She who has more books published by academic publishers and peer-reviewed articles. Is it Wright or Carrier?

    • Bunto Skiffler Says:

      [NPeters] “Now the comparison going around the net just doesn’t work. It says that Harry Potter has stories in it that are magical and therefore, it is untrue. The gospels also have stories in them that are magical. If we were being consistent, we’d say the gospels are untrue.

      To begin with, the objection assumes that such a thing as magic does not exist. We do not know that for sure. Now is it fine to be skeptical of such a claim. In fact, I encourage skepticism, but if your worldview automatically precludes such a thing, then you are reaching a decision before examining the evidence.”

      So Harry Potter really is true? I KNEW IT!! Nick this is your BEST POST EVAH!!

      -bunto

      ps. Here’s a thought… maybe if Harry Potter made an appearance in the Gospel Narratives?

    • David Says:

      Just claiming you gave evidence is not the same as actually giving evidence. You told me to read W.T. Wright. that’s a referral, not evidence.
      I’m sorry this confuses you, but you are claiming that a human/man-god rose from the dead and flew into outer space. Those, among many other miracle claims, defy everything we know about physics. If that indeed happened, it simply takes more than ancient hearsay- and even if I grant you the gospels as eyewitnesses (you have yet to prove your case on this thread), simple eyewitnesses testimony to such wildly improbable events is INSUFFICIENT. I’m sorry you are unfamiliar with the origins of other religions, even ones which don’t necessarily offer obvious gains to followers. It happens and has happened on all continents throughout history. The details vary, but the big picture is the same.

  13. apologianick Says:

    David: Just claiming you gave evidence is not the same as actually giving evidence.

    Reply: I gave facts that are accepted across the board by NT scholars. Liberal and conservative. Christian and non. These facts are multiply attested, early, and are in the case of the crucifixion, shameful meeting the criterion of embarrassment. One needs a reason to think the earliest sources are wrong in these claims that in themselves are non-miraculous.

    Here are some citations by real scholars.

    “The fact of the death of Jesus as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable, despite hypotheses of a pseudo-death or a deception which are sometimes put forward. It need not be discussed further here.” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” Page 17.)

    “The only thing that we can certainly say to be historical is that there were resurrection appearances in Galilee (and in Jerusalem) soon after Jesus’s death. These appearances cannot be denied” (Gerd Ludemann. .”What Really Happened To Jesus?” p. 81

    Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal. Indeed, the apostle Paul calls it the chief “stumbling block” for Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Where did the tradition come from? It must have actually happened. (Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition. pages 221-222)

    Jesus was executed by crucifixion, which was a common method of torture and execution used by the Romans. (Dale Martin, New Testament History and Literature. Page 181)

    That Jesus was executed because he or someone else was claiming that he was the king of the Jews seems to be historically accurate. (ibid. 186)

    Jesus’ execution is as historically certain as any ancient event can ever be but what about all those very specific details that fill out the story? (John Dominic Crossan http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-d…_b_847504.html)

    “We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.” (Bart Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, pg 230).

    “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.” (E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pg 280)

    “That the experiences did occur, even if they are explained in purely natural terms, is a fact upon which both believer and unbeliever can agree.” (Reginald H. Fuller, Foundations of New Testament Christology, 142)

    David: You told me to read W.T. Wright. that’s a referral, not evidence.

    Reply: No. I told you to read N.T. Wright. Get his name right. He’s only one of the top scholars in the world. Carrier meanwhile is someone not even being taken seriously in the academic world. If you think he is, show where his Christ-mythicism has passed peer-review. What academic publishers are publishing Christ-myth nonsense?

    David: I’m sorry this confuses you, but you are claiming that a human/man-god rose from the dead and flew into outer space.

    Reply: Gotta love these straw men. I am claiming a resurrection. I am not claiming anything about space. That it is nonsensical to your worldview does not mean it is to mine. Do you want to be an atheist presuppositionalist and argue that your worldview has the correct perspective without demonstrating it?

    David: Those, among many other miracle claims, defy everything we know about physics.

    Reply: You can believe in miracles and believe in science. There is no necessary contradiction between the two. If you think there is, you might want to check with people like John Polkinghorne.

    David: If that indeed happened, it simply takes more than ancient hearsay- and even if I grant you the gospels as eyewitnesses (you have yet to prove your case on this thread),

    Reply: I have referred you to Bauckham. I’m sorry if reading is too difficult for atheists to undertake, but oh well. I will give some evidence however. First off, the names in the gospels. Bauckham exhaustively shows that the names correspond to 1st century names in Judea at the time, something a later writer would not be able to do easily due to the destruction of Jerusalem. Bauckham also shows that named figures would be the eyewitness sources that were used. Furthermore, we also have the destruction of Jerusalem described accurately that took place in 70 A.D., which is assumed to be stated after the fact, but if it was after the fact, one would have indicated this most likely. Furthermore, the book of Acts ends without the deaths of Paul and Peter being mentioned or the destruction of Jerusalem. Acts is part 2 of Luke-Acts meaning Luke is prior and Matthew and Mark are before that if Luke used them. Also, an atheist like Crossley has even been arguing lately that Mark could be dated to within the 40’s. To point out further matters, Luke himself claims to have spoken to eyewitnesses and gathered a detailed account. Why believe he is lying?

    David: simple eyewitnesses testimony to such wildly improbable events is INSUFFICIENT.

    Reply: Good thing Keener is his work provides also medical references. However, why should eyewitness testimony be invalid for a miracle? Suppose I see someone with a missing leg and I see prayer done in the name of Jesus and see a leg grow back. Am I justified in believing a miracle has taken place or not?

    David: I’m sorry you are unfamiliar with the origins of other religions, even ones which don’t necessarily offer obvious gains to followers.

    Reply: I am. Perhaps you would like to explain such a religion that did not offer a gain of any sort for its followers. Reality is that they all did. The difference is Christianity made claims that were socially embarrassing at the time.

    David: It happens and has happened on all continents throughout history. The details vary, but the big picture is the same.

    Reply: This would be more convincing if it had evidence. Go ahead. I’ll wait while you look up what Richard Carrier says so you’ll know how to respond.

    • David Says:

      [sorry i’m trying to reply to apologianick, but it keeps sending me here]
      You’ve wasted paragraphs proving the crucifixion when i never denied it. That’s a straw man.

      Sorry if I misjudged you- you disbelieve the gospel “eye-witness” accounts of Jesus flying into outer space (aka the ascendance). I guess you pick and choose which wildly impossible accounts to declare reliable.

      You have no proof of the resurrection. I agree we have people who swear they saw Jesus, or a vision of Jesus. That’s not persuasive. Same thing often happens after people die (as with Elvis).

      Criterion from embarrassment is not as unlikely as miracles. As I said, there were plenty of sects. The cult of Attis, for example, required members to be castrated. That people would be willing to do so says nothing of the truth claims of the religion. The members of David Koresh’s cult in Texas were literally gunned down by the government- yet they remained adherents until death, and clearly felt some kind of belonging, despite the odds and common sense arguing against. People do strange things, and seeing visions of dead people- and believing they are really resurrected; all that is behavior thoroughly explored by phsychology. Not thoroughly explained, however; the brain is ridiculously complicated and far beyond full comprehension.

    • David Says:

      my reply was eroneously sent to Bunto.
      I just want to add that it’s fallacious to assert that christianity offered nothing but embarrassment to followers. Camraderie is a huge motivator. Feeling like you belong. Even when persecuted. History is full of examples of people joining groups that bring stigma or persecution. Similarly, the followers of Fallon Gong face persecution from the Chinese government. That says nothing about the truth claims of their religion. Humans do and believe all sorts of things and find whatever rationale to bolster it.

  14. apologianick Says:

    David: Sorry if I misjudged you- you disbelieve the gospel “eye-witness” accounts of Jesus flying into outer space (aka the ascendance). I guess you pick and choose which wildly impossible accounts to declare reliable.

    Reply: No. I accept the ascension. I just don’t accept flying into outer space. There is a difference.

    David: You have no proof of the resurrection.

    Reply: Keep repeating that dogma all you want. Maybe someday you’ll convince yourself. I’ve given you facts attested to by NT scholars. I await an actual reply.

    David: I agree we have people who swear they saw Jesus, or a vision of Jesus. That’s not persuasive. Same thing often happens after people die (as with Elvis).

    Reply: Yes. Hallucinations happen. Why should I believe these are hallucinations? For one thing, do we have reason to believe these people were in the mindset to hallucinate? Second, why would someone hallucinate their brother as deity? Third, why would a skeptic like Paul suddenly convert? Fourth, how would this explain the group appearances since hallucinations are individual events? Fifth, how does this explain all the other facts.

    David: Criterion from embarrassment is not as unlikely as miracles. As I said, there were plenty of sects. The cult of Attis, for example, required members to be castrated.

    Reply: Sure did.

    Do you see the cult of Attis around anywhere today? How long did that group last? That claim actually proves the point.

    David: That people would be willing to do so says nothing of the truth claims of the religion. The members of David Koresh’s cult in Texas were literally gunned down by the government- yet they remained adherents until death, and clearly felt some kind of belonging, despite the odds and common sense arguing against.

    Reply: Never said anything about what they were willing to do as proof. I just considered it part of the evidence. They were obviously convinced it was true. What got them convinced?

    David: People do strange things, and seeing visions of dead people- and believing they are really resurrected; all that is behavior thoroughly explored by phsychology. Not thoroughly explained, however; the brain is ridiculously complicated and far beyond full comprehension.

    Reply: Ah. Another statement of faith. It will be this. We just need to study it more. Well when you can explain all the data, I’ll be waiting. Until then, I don’t really need the theory of the month, especially when it doesn’t explain all the data, including the empty tomb.

    David: I just want to add that it’s fallacious to assert that christianity offered nothing but embarrassment to followers. Camraderie is a huge motivator. Feeling like you belong. Even when persecuted. History is full of examples of people joining groups that bring stigma or persecution. Similarly, the followers of Fallon Gong face persecution from the Chinese government. That says nothing about the truth claims of their religion. Humans do and believe all sorts of things and find whatever rationale to bolster it.

    Reply: Spoken like a true individualist. Actually, community would be a great reason to NOT join the Christian faith. By joining it, you set yourself out from society as a whole and allowed yourself to be shamed by the majority of the surrounding community. That seems small to a modern American, but it was monumental to an ancient near-eastern man. Now if you want to show the ancient parallel to Christianity, please do show it. I’ve been waiting for a long time for one.

    • David Says:

      If you accept the ascension, then you accept that a man flew up into the sky, up into “the heavens”. But now, in the 21st century, we know that up “in the heavens” is really up into outer space. You don’t like it, because such ascensions are obvious myths perpetuated long before Christianity, and in cultures beyond that of the judeo-christian. No amount of condescension can hide the fact that ancient testimony of such is ridiculously inadequate.
      I’m sorry you are so unfamiliar with psychology, history, and anthropology to the point of not conceding that it’s POSSIBLE that some people group hallucinate.
      You said a christianity couldnt have started because there were negatives. I point out a sect surviving for centuries (Attis cult) with even more prohibitive barriers- you change the subject by saying that since it only lasted a few centuries instead of 20 centuries it’s truth claims are proved false. That’s a logical fallacy. Christianity’s longevity, as with buddhism or hinduism, says NOTHING about the truth claims of their origins.

  15. apologianick Says:

    David: If you accept the ascension, then you accept that a man flew up into the sky, up into “the heavens”. But now, in the 21st century, we know that up “in the heavens” is really up into outer space.

    Reply: No. The Hebrews had three different heavens actually. The first would be to say the stratosphere and such. The second would be outer space. The third would be the dwelling of God. I see nothing about Jesus flying through outer space.

    David: You don’t like it, because such ascensions are obvious myths perpetuated long before Christianity, and in cultures beyond that of the judeo-christian.

    Reply: Psychologizing fail. No. I just don’t like it because I don’t like straw men.

    David: No amount of condescension can hide the fact that ancient testimony of such is ridiculously inadequate.

    Reply: Yes. I already know the atheistic mind is impervious to evidence. It’s easy to decide a case when you’ve already decided beforehand what the outcome would be. It’d be horrid to have to do actual study. No. Let’s just see what the sacred writings of Carrier say. Who cares about other scholarship?! This one agrees with us! It must be true!

    David: I’m sorry you are so unfamiliar with psychology, history, and anthropology to the point of not conceding that it’s POSSIBLE that some people group hallucinate.

    Reply: Then this must be the case for experts on hallucinations in the field of psychology who also argue against group hallucinations. There’s really very little literature on the topic out there. Why? Because valid examples are not found. People hallucinate. Yes. The ancients knew that just as well as we do. Do they group hallucinate? That needs evidence. In fact, if it’s so wildly improbable, not only do we have one group hallucination, we have a number of them testified to at the latest within five years of the event.

    David: You said a christianity couldnt have started because there were negatives.

    Reply: No. I said it wouldn’t have lasted. Note that these negatives were not personal negatives but social negatives. For instance, Christianity was a new religion. The Roman empire could tolerate a new religion, but only if it could blend into the Roman pantheon. Christianity couldn’t. Christianity denied the other gods meaning that they would be seen as social deviants. Christianity held to a strict moral code that required hard sacrifice of its followers. Christianity went directly against the Roman Empire by saying Caesar was not a deity. Christianity held to the resurrection of the body when other groups saw the body as a prison to escape. Christianity led to ostracism due to its having a crucified Messiah.

    David: I point out a sect surviving for centuries (Attis cult) with even more prohibitive barriers-

    Reply: Which applied to the priests. It wasn’t something for everyone.

    David: you change the subject by saying that since it only lasted a few centuries instead of 20 centuries it’s truth claims are proved false.

    Reply: No. I claimed that Christianity lasted when it should have died out. You brought out Attis which had a shameful practice….and died out. It demonstrates the example.

    David: That’s a logical fallacy. Christianity’s longevity, as with buddhism or hinduism, says NOTHING about the truth claims of their origins.

    Reply: Independently, it doesn’t, but that a shameful belief survived in the face of the strong persecution and shaming in an agonistic society speaks volumes. Had Christianity been a false cult like all the others, it would have also died out, but somehow, it didn’t.

    • David Says:

      Wow, you really can’t resist snark and rudeness against all atheists- I hope you realize that you come across not as a sincere and pious follower of Christ, but a vicious tribalist who gets nasty at those who challenge your beliefs.
      Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m NOT a Carrier acolyte, as you falsely claim. I was raised christian (methodist), fully active in church/youth group, then embraced an evangelical form of christianity as a young adult. It was there, when instructed that the bible was the inerrant word of god, that my doubts really began. I noticed far too many contradictions and inconsistencies within the bible. I studied history and was amazed to find out how, contrary to all my indoctrination, christianity was not really the unique faith I had been led to believe. I searched for and continue to search for evidence because I am interested in truth. So please put away your vitriol and save it for somebody else.

      As for the ascension, you are quibbling with the bible, not with me. it says clearly in the gospels and acts that he rose up (i.e. flew without machine) until clouds obscured him. This is mythological, no matter what you believe what happened beyond the cloud. People don’t fly. Heaven is not up there beyond the clouds. Outer-space is beyond the clouds. Do I really have to explain this to you? Are you that wedded to this mythical detail that you can’t call a spade a spade? Yet it’s an ancient myth that christians evidently adopted, as did Muslims. If you claim otherwise, you’ll need a mountain of evidence, not simple eye-witness testimony, and certainly not hearsay. You mockingly say I decide before evidence- false! I’m familiar with the ‘evidence’, and know for a fact that it is not remotely CONCLUSIVE to prove such a preposterous claim as ascension. the muslim tradition, among others, also tries to do this, and we all know that’s simply myth. Yet believers find ways to rationalize their beliefs. Nothing new here. You seem angry at me because your myths do not have adequate evidence to persuade those open to evidence. I’m quite open, but ancient witnesses are not sufficient when it comes to miraculous claims of that nature.

      What psychologist argues against group hallucinations?? That’s bupkis- we have people ALIVE TODAY who have group hallucinations. I’m sorry you are so unfamiliar with the literature you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

      Let me ask you- how many people saw post-crucifixion Jesus? How many first-hand accounts do we have for sure? We know there are hear-say accounts of thousands of witnesses. Unfortunately for christians, nearly none of them bothered to write down their miraculous visions, or maybe Jesus couldn’t be bothered to appear in front of just one guy who was literate..
      You rule it out and say it’s less likely than miracles. I repeat you are embarrassingly ignorant about psychology. Ask how many people “witnessed” Jim Morrison flashing his genitals at a concert? He actually kept his pants on, and told the crowd he was gonna do it, and eventually, they believed and many swore they saw him do it. But nope. The people on stage with him, his friends and bandmates, saw him do nothing but manipulate a gullible crowd. Nothing’s new under the sun. Should we believe the hundreds of eye-witnesses who swear they saw it? Perhaps, perhaps not. But if they claimed Jim Morrison flew up into heaven, we could dismiss such claims unless they bothered to present more evidence than their sincere testimony.

      Yes, christianity had social pressure against. So does Falong Gong. so what. You insist on bringing up irrelevant points that say nothing of the truth claims of each religion. I guess when you are grasping at straws, you’ll say anything.

      You still present NO conclusive evidence to support the wildly impossible claims of the NT (resurrection, ascension, the dead rising at jesus’s death on the cross (amazing how no single historian could be troubled to write about that little doozy), the sun stopping, etc). You just repeat “You are ignoring evidence” yet you cannot cite any beyond the gospels and epistles. That gets your foot in the door, but it’s nothing remotely persuasive since ordinary psychology/history/anthropology explains any and all of the magical accounts that form the basis for christianity.

      Fascinating, you still haven’t said who wrote the gospels! But you know they were eyewitnesses! Uh huh. Then why do the synaptic gospels copy each other about 80% of the time? How could they get so many things wrong? How come the earliest gospel is less fanciful than the last one (when that is absolutely in accord with normal human myth-making…)? How on earth could they get the geneology of Jesus wrong??! Ooops!
      If you don’t know who wrote the gospels, and cannot with reasonable certainty say anything about their character, then you most certainly cannot bet the house that they got the magic stuff correct. There are other elements involved, and if you lack the integrity to admit it, that’s on you, not me.

      I’m awaiting your sarcastic reply…

  16. apologianick Says:

    David: Wow, you really can’t resist snark and rudeness against all atheists-

    Reply: Must be news to the atheists I have as friends who we can have good conversations together since they interact with the evidence.

    Also, you get what you give. I consider it rude to claim someone believes without evidence and claim the person you’re talking to is ignorant of modern science and give straw men definitions of beliefs held as well as disregard the best scholarship in favor of Carrier.

    David: I hope you realize that you come across not as a sincere and pious follower of Christ, but a vicious tribalist who gets nasty at those who challenge your beliefs.

    Reply: Love it when people want to make image everything. It’s a good way to avoid the arguments. Go for an ad hom. That works!

    David: Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’m NOT a Carrier acolyte, as you falsely claim. I was raised christian (methodist), fully active in church/youth group, then embraced an evangelical form of christianity as a young adult. It was there, when instructed that the bible was the inerrant word of god, that my doubts really began. I noticed far too many contradictions and inconsistencies within the bible. I studied history and was amazed to find out how, contrary to all my indoctrination, christianity was not really the unique faith I had been led to believe. I searched for and continue to search for evidence because I am interested in truth. So please put away your vitriol and save it for somebody else.

    REply: Your first mention is Carrier. I have to go by what you give me. As for Inerrancy, sounds like you have the same methodology you had as a Christian. You just accepted what the church told you. Now you just accept what the atheists tell you. It’s why I don’t make a big deal out of Inerrancy. It’s a difficult term and most people don’t get it. I even consider the ICBI standard of Inerrancy in serious need of revision. Your best bet would be to read The Lost World of Scripture when it comes out where the authors explain modern problems with Inerrancy from an ancient context. Most moderns don’t bother to understand the ancient context at all. It’s a kind of modern-day bigotry actually.

    David: As for the ascension, you are quibbling with the bible, not with me. it says clearly in the gospels and acts that he rose up (i.e. flew without machine) until clouds obscured him.

    Reply: Yes it does. It does not say he flew through space as if whizzing past the asteroid belt or something.Of course, this gets into my view of how Heaven, Hell, and Earth all interact. It’s not the typical view you’ll get from most Christians.

    David: This is mythological, no matter what you believe what happened beyond the cloud. People don’t fly.

    Reply: People don’t naturally fly. Yep. My worldview accepts miracles. I’ve got great arguments in their favor, such as Keener’s book, and all I’ve got from you is an assertion. Why should I discount every testimony I have ever heard because of your dogma?

    David: Heaven is not up there beyond the clouds. Outer-space is beyond the clouds. Do I really have to explain this to you?

    Reply: Not a bit because I agree with you entirely. Heaven is not some realm in the sky beyond the clouds where we’ll go and see by and by.

    David: Are you that wedded to this mythical detail that you can’t call a spade a spade?

    Reply: No. My view of Heaven is much more nuanced than that. Had you read Wright, you would have learned some of that.

    David: Yet it’s an ancient myth that christians evidently adopted, as did Muslims. If you claim otherwise, you’ll need a mountain of evidence, not simple eye-witness testimony, and certainly not hearsay.

    Reply: Not here to argue for the ascension. Just arguing for the resurrection.

    David: You mockingly say I decide before evidence- false! I’m familiar with the ‘evidence’, and know for a fact that it is not remotely CONCLUSIVE to prove such a preposterous claim as ascension.

    Reply: Not arguing for that. Just the resurrection. You brought up the ascension. Not me.

    David: the muslim tradition, among others, also tries to do this, and we all know that’s simply myth. Yet believers find ways to rationalize their beliefs. Nothing new here.

    Reply; And atheists find ways to avoid dealing with the best scholarship. Someone truly open would go out there and read the best arguments against what they believe.

    David: You seem angry at me because your myths do not have adequate evidence to persuade those open to evidence. I’m quite open, but ancient witnesses are not sufficient when it comes to miraculous claims of that nature.

    Reply: Angry? Heh. Not at all. In fact, I find it all amusing. Why is it most skeptics I meet seem to be exactly alike? All refer to Carrier. All insist miracles are impossible without evidence. They don’t interact with NT scholarship. It’s the Jesus allergy.

    As for miracles, well you’ll need to give a good argument against them.

    David: What psychologist argues against group hallucinations?? That’s bupkis- we have people ALIVE TODAY who have group hallucinations. I’m sorry you are so unfamiliar with the literature you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

    Reply: Really? Care to give some examples? I’m suspecting I’ll be told about the dancing sun (Not a hallucination but an illusion) or the Marian apparitions. (Seen by children for the most part who later tell the adults without the adults themselves seeing anything.)

    Don’t confuse an illusion with a hallucination.

    And if you think there’s loads of literature out there in the psychological writings, feel free to show it.

    David: Let me ask you- how many people saw post-crucifixion Jesus?

    Reply: Exactly? How should I know? The largest mention we have is to over 500 at one time.

    David: How many first-hand accounts do we have for sure?

    Reply: We have the creed in 1 Cor. 15. Matthew would have been an eyewitness. John would have been one as well. (And Bauckham says the strongest case for eyewitness testimony is in John.) Mark relies on Peter for his information who was an eyewitness. Luke was not an eyewitness but followed proper historical protocol and interviewed eyewitnesses.

    How much eyewitness testimony do we have for Alexander the Great meanwhile?

    David: We know there are hear-say accounts of thousands of witnesses. Unfortunately for christians, nearly none of them bothered to write down their miraculous visions, or maybe Jesus couldn’t be bothered to appear in front of just one guy who was literate..

    Reply: There’s part of your problem. YOu live in the time of the Gutenberg Galaxy. In the modern age, it’s assumed that if you want to save information, you write it down. The ancients thought nothing of the sort. Writing was not as reliable as the oral tradition was. Why write, which would reach about 10% of the population at the most, when you could use oral testimony which would reach more? Even when people had the gospels, they STILL preferred to get the oral tradition. Again, the Lost World of Scripture will help with this.

    David: You rule it out and say it’s less likely than miracles. I repeat you are embarrassingly ignorant about psychology. Ask how many people “witnessed” Jim Morrison flashing his genitals at a concert? He actually kept his pants on, and told the crowd he was gonna do it, and eventually, they believed and many swore they saw him do it. But nope. The people on stage with him, his friends and bandmates, saw him do nothing but manipulate a gullible crowd. Nothing’s new under the sun. Should we believe the hundreds of eye-witnesses who swear they saw it? Perhaps, perhaps not. But if they claimed Jim Morrison flew up into heaven, we could dismiss such claims unless they bothered to present more evidence than their sincere testimony.

    Reply: What you talk about is an illusion. It is not a hallucination. I do not deny group illusions, magicians do them regularly. I deny group hallucinations. An illusion requires something being there that is not seen properly for whatever reason. With a hallucination, there is nothing there. That’s why they don’t happen in groups. Two people aren’t going to have the same subjective vision without an outside referent.

    David: Yes, christianity had social pressure against. So does Falong Gong. so what. You insist on bringing up irrelevant points that say nothing of the truth claims of each religion. I guess when you are grasping at straws, you’ll say anything.

    Reply: No. You insist they have nothing to do with it. You haven’t shown that. The belief you speak of is also a relatively new one. Give time and see what happens. See if it dies out. Christianity should have died out like every other Messiah movement when its leader was executed. It didn’t. What made it different?

    David: You still present NO conclusive evidence to support the wildly impossible claims of the NT (resurrection, ascension, the dead rising at jesus’s death on the cross (amazing how no single historian could be troubled to write about that little doozy), the sun stopping, etc).

    Reply: I’m not convinced the mass resurrection is historical, but let’s suppose it was. It would not have been mass really. Those in the tombs would have been a small number. Few people could afford tombs. Also, if you’re sitting in Rome again and you hear this claim, do you think you’re going to take it seriously? No. You’re much too skeptical for that. You disregard it.

    David: You just repeat “You are ignoring evidence” yet you cannot cite any beyond the gospels and epistles. That gets your foot in the door, but it’s nothing remotely persuasive since ordinary psychology/history/anthropology explains any and all of the magical accounts that form the basis for christianity.

    Reply: So far it hasn’t. I’ve seen assertions that it has, but no evidence.

    David: Fascinating, you still haven’t said who wrote the gospels! But you know they were eyewitnesses! Uh huh.

    Reply: Actually, I had asked you for the methodology whereby you determine authorship. You didn’t give it. You want to go the gospel route with who wrote them? Sure. Pick a gospel. Give the evidence against. I’ll give for.

    David: Then why do the synaptic gospels copy each other about 80% of the time?

    REply: Mark was using Peter. Peter was part of the inner circle so naturally Matthew would use him for events he was not aware of. Luke would use Matthew and Mark since both of them had eyewitness testimony. Come on! This is NT basics here!

    David: How could they get so many things wrong?

    REply: Give an example.

    David: How come the earliest gospel is less fanciful than the last one (when that is absolutely in accord with normal human myth-making…)?

    Reply: Again, scholars like Bauckham and Hurtado have shown the earliest Christology is the highest one and that begins way before the gospels and in fact even before the epistles.

    David: How on earth could they get the geneology of Jesus wrong??! Ooops!

    Reply: The early church had at least four different ways to view the genealogies.

    I assume you’ve written out a reply to each one. Please show it.

    David: If you don’t know who wrote the gospels, and cannot with reasonable certainty say anything about their character, then you most certainly cannot bet the house that they got the magic stuff correct.

    Reply: I’m quite sure of who wrote them. I’m waiting on you to tell how we even determine authorship so you can know that the church got it wrong in its thought on who wrote them. I just get crickets.

    David: There are other elements involved, and if you lack the integrity to admit it, that’s on you, not me.

    Reply: It’ll be nice when you stop making assumptions. I’m just going by leading scholarship here. Not my problem if you don’t think going to scholars in the field count as using valid methodology.

    David: I’m awaiting your sarcastic reply…

    Reply: Because there is absolutely no sarcasm here….

    • David Says:

      “As for miracles, well you’ll need to give a good argument against them.”
      I already did. I said nobody, out of 7+billion humans can rise from the dead after three days, and none can ascend to heaven. I base my argument from the billions of examples that support my case and the billions of examples that say your example is impossible. You apparently have nothing but unreliable gospels.
      You ask for example of unreliability and I gave it (Jesus geneology). In fact, that was the first one I stumbled upon, prompting my search into history, which led to my loss of faith. Then, as now, the apologist assured me that the text (of course, I checked the greek transliteration) doesn’t mean what the text says. That’s dishonest. I can read, and the text is erroneous.

      I see you pick and choose which miracles to deem likely, yet they come from the same “eyewitnesses.” You doubt the mass resurrection because why? I guess you are predisposed to disbelieve miracles. You doubt Mohammed’s ascension- why, because you a priori disbelieve miracles? Shame on you. People really believe it.

      Yes, your obsession with the subsequent success of christianity says nothing of the truth claims of the foundation. If you disagree, then you must grant truth to Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which predate christianty. It’s a red herring and a logical fallacy. Poor reasoning.

      You lie. You said I just accept what atheists tell me. My journey to disbelief followed from my own examination of the scriptures and readings of history. My only exposure to the writings of atheists (those that I was aware of) followed my de-conversion. I accept nothing on authority, when given time and opportunity to see for myself the evidence. My points stand on their own. I only cited Carrier after being told to read so-and-so apologist. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Please stop lying and try to engage me in good faith.

      You claim, without evidence, that the ancients were familiar with hallucinations and knew how to separate what was real and what was not. Cite your sources. Otherwise, it seems you are making stuff up. Medical science and modern psychology flourished centuries after Jesus. The uneducated masses would certainly have among them people susceptible to hallucinations AND illusions- I say this is a fact because ALL human populations contain such. For you to deny this as ONE FACTOR speaks to a mind impervious to evidence. We know from Acts and from the epistles that there was all sorts of visions happening, and speaking in tongues. Well, that happens today. We can see those churches for ourselves. i don’t doubt their sincerity. But I doubt that they experience the metaphysical things they would claim. Why? because I’m closed to evidence? on the contrary. because people from other cultures and compatible religions have similar religiously-inspired fits of ecstasy. It’s a common phenomena, and it’s a shame you can’t bring yourself to admit that MAYBE such phenomena occurred among the first christians.
      Fervent belief does not equal truth. But all you have is the second-hand witnesses (eye-witnesses will not say the exact same thing. The gospels have identical passages. Therefore they are obviously not eye-witness accounts. At best, you can argue they were written by eyewitnesses (you certainly haven’t proved it here) but added details from other eye-witnesses- not the same thing as ‘an eye-witness” account. More like an anthology.). Even if we had first-person accounts, that’s not enough. Why? Because I’m biased against miracles? No. Because I’m biased in favor of ordinary explanations unless EXTREMELY STRONG evidence indicates the ordinary was impossible.
      That has not remotely been demonstrated, nor can it ever be in this case because the historical record is too thin. And no, you cannot compare it to accounts of real historians like Herodotus, because nobody accepts their supernatural accounts either. It’s a straw man to ask about Alexander the Great’s sources, for the obvious reason that no serious person today believes any supernatural claims about Alexander.

      To summarize, you make extravagant claims without evidence. You cannot prove that hallucinations or illusions were not a factor among the first christians. It’s impossible to prove either way. I don’t insist that’s the explanation- I simply grant it possible and consonant with observable patterns of human behavior. For you to deny it is to make a claim beyond what the evidence shows.

      Interesting that you believe Jesus flies up to the clouds, but you won’t reveal what happened beyond. Was it a worm-hole? Spaceship? Magic Carpet? Pearly gates? Whatever it is, I’m sure you have lots of evidence for your sci-fi epistemology.

  17. apologianick Says:

    David: I already did. I said nobody, out of 7+billion humans can rise from the dead after three days, and none can ascend to heaven. I base my argument from the billions of examples that support my case and the billions of examples that say your example is impossible. You apparently have nothing but unreliable gospels.

    Reply: To begin with, no. You have asserted this. If you’re saying no one does this naturally, no one is arguing that, but if you want to go by probability, I can just as well say the moon landing is improbable because billions of people have not flown into space and billions of people have not walked on the moon. One must look at this on a case by case basis. Again, the starting place is to go with Keener’s “Miracles” but if you want to see another argument against a Humean position, then go through Earman’s “Hume’s Abject Failure” where he points out that Hume’s argument against miracles if followed consistently would kill science as well.

    Note also that Earman is an agnostic.

    David: You ask for example of unreliability and I gave it (Jesus geneology). In fact, that was the first one I stumbled upon, prompting my search into history, which led to my loss of faith. Then, as now, the apologist assured me that the text (of course, I checked the greek transliteration) doesn’t mean what the text says. That’s dishonest. I can read, and the text is erroneous.

    Reply: And did you look up the explanations that the early church gave? Let’s suppose even for the sake of argument that you’re right and the genealogies are unreliable. What follows then? Does that mean nothing in the gospels is reliable? Everything is to be looked at with suspicion? There is no other document in ancient history treated that way. Note also my case for the resurrection doesn’t even need the gospels anyway.

    David: I see you pick and choose which miracles to deem likely, yet they come from the same “eyewitnesses.”

    Reply; No. I use historiographical methodology. It’s not arbitrary.

    David: You doubt the mass resurrection because why?

    Reply: It would have been best to ask this question and wait for a reply instead of assuming one. In Greco-Roman biographies, of which the gospels are, when a great man died, there would often be strange phenomena that took place. This was a symbolic way of pointing to the death of a great king. Matthew is consistently presenting Jesus as the king of Israel. This would be a usage recognized by his readers.

    On the other hand, theologically, such an account is entirely plausible seeing as I am a theist on prior grounds who thus allows for miracles and the resurrection would be a small number and one that no skeptic of the time would consider worth even investigating. My research into this continues. That’s what a researcher does. They go out and read the best arguments. Btw, you’ll find also that even William Lane Craig sees this as apocalyptic, not that I endorse all that Craig argues. I don’t.

    David: I guess you are predisposed to disbelieve miracles. You doubt Mohammed’s ascension- why, because you a priori disbelieve miracles? Shame on you. People really believe it.

    Reply: No. I doubt it because there is very little in the Koran I can test historically. The only reference to this is Sura 17:1 and there is no mention of a horse. That is in the later hadiths which are centuries after the fact. Furthermore, the Koran states that Jesus was not crucified, which is certainly a false fact. It also describes the Trinity as mother Mary, the Son, and the Father. For the sake of argument, the Trinity could be wrong, but that is not the teaching of the Trinity.

    My case for the resurrection can be built on facts agreed upon by non-Christian scholars. What facts about Muhammad made by non-Muslim scholars can lead one to verify the Muhammad episode?

    David: Yes, your obsession with the subsequent success of christianity says nothing of the truth claims of the foundation. If you disagree, then you must grant truth to Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which predate christianty. It’s a red herring and a logical fallacy. Poor reasoning.

    Reply: Not at all. Hinduism is a belief system that grew up in an environment that is really much more open. We have no noted period of a long time of persecution of Hindus. This could have happened after the religion was well-established, but by then it is irrelevant. For Buddhism, Buddhists and Hindus didn’t get along, but Buddhism did not face persecution at the start the way that Christianity did. Christianity was persecuted right from the get-go and had nothing to go for it. It postulated embarrassing and shameful beliefs that would not have got off the ground if they were not seen as true, such as a crucified Messiah.

    David: You lie. You said I just accept what atheists tell me.

    Reply: You may say you think I’m wrong, but you may not say I’m lying. Why? Because I am fully convinced of that. I see it by your not being willing to interact with Wright and Keener and others but saying that Carrier counters them. N.T. Wright could run circles around Carrier in his sleep. Your arguments that you’re using are the exact same ones that I’ve seen over and over from atheists who think they’ve discovered a new and powerful argument. They haven’t.

    So which will I go with? Years of reading NT scholarship from all perspectives, or someone whose only source that has been cited is Richard Carrier? Decisions, decisions….

    David: My journey to disbelief followed from my own examination of the scriptures and readings of history. My only exposure to the writings of atheists (those that I was aware of) followed my de-conversion.

    Reply: I do not doubt that for a moment. Your viewpoint at the start though was fundamentalist. Your mindset is still there.

    David: I accept nothing on authority, when given time and opportunity to see for myself the evidence.

    Reply: Feel free then to cite the NT scholarship you’ve read that disagrees with your position.

    David: My points stand on their own. I only cited Carrier after being told to read so-and-so apologist. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Please stop lying and try to engage me in good faith.

    Reply: Oh I was until I saw someone trying to mock my position and just saying over and over “No evidence!” You can say the evidence is bad or the evidence is poor, but to say someone believes without evidence when they are clearly making a case is in fact an insult to that person and in fact to all NT scholarship that agrees with the resurrection.

    David: You claim, without evidence, that the ancients were familiar with hallucinations and knew how to separate what was real and what was not. Cite your sources. Otherwise, it seems you are making stuff up.

    Reply: Sure. N.T. Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”

    David: Medical science and modern psychology flourished centuries after Jesus. The uneducated masses would certainly have among them people susceptible to hallucinations AND illusions- I say this is a fact because ALL human populations contain such.

    Reply: Yes they did, but the bigoted assumption is that without modern science, these people were stupid. They weren’t. They had the basic rudiments that anyone can have. That’s even how they recognized a miracle. They knew that something happened that doesn’t naturally happen. Now if you want to present cases of group hallucinations, not group illusions or delusions, feel free to do so.

    David: For you to deny this as ONE FACTOR speaks to a mind impervious to evidence.

    Reply: I don’t. I just ask that a case be made for it. Is providing evidence and dealing with the counter-evidence that difficult? I can just as well say someone hesitant to read Wright and Keener shows a mind impervious to evidence.

    David: We know from Acts and from the epistles that there was all sorts of visions happening, and speaking in tongues.

    Reply: We also know that people thought often that these visions were not real meaning just seeing something was not enough to think what one was seeing was real. Thanks for undermining your own position with that.

    David: Well, that happens today. We can see those churches for ourselves.

    Reply: I don’t. I see the tongues as known languages for instance. I’ve never seen that happen in a church service. I have not seen reports of visions. I am not saying that these don’t happen, but I have not seen them.

    David: i don’t doubt their sincerity. But I doubt that they experience the metaphysical things they would claim. Why? because I’m closed to evidence? on the contrary. because people from other cultures and compatible religions have similar religiously-inspired fits of ecstasy. It’s a common phenomena, and it’s a shame you can’t bring yourself to admit that MAYBE such phenomena occurred among the first christians.

    Reply: Of course it’s common, but again, is this what happened with the Christians? For one thing, had they had a hallucination, they would not have gone the hard route and said Jesus was raised bodily. That’s the last thing they would have said. They would have said Jesus had been divinely vindicated and was at the right hand of God. Your theory would also have to explain the empty tomb. It would need to explain the conversion of Paul and the conversion of James. It would also need to explain why a crucified messiah would even be seen as the messiah and why Jesus’s movement didn’t just end when Jesus was crucified. These are all facts that need to be explained. None of them on the face are really miraculous, but can you explain them all without the resurrection?

    David: Fervent belief does not equal truth. But all you have is the second-hand witnesses (eye-witnesses will not say the exact same thing. The gospels have identical passages. Therefore they are obviously not eye-witness accounts.

    Reply: No. It just means that one writer used another, which is in the ancient world a way of honoring the other writer. It is a way of showing the source. So let’s see. When the writers agree with their wording, then they’re unreliable. When they disagree with their wording, they’re unreliable.

    Also, eyewitnesses do not say the exact same thing. Indeed they don’t! So why should it surprise us that the accounts are different?! Furthermore, that they are different shows this wasn’t just one source using another entirely. Each had their own perspective. Again, Bauckham addresses this kind of thing. I have pointed to the evidence Bauckham gives at a start. You have not responded to it.

    David: At best, you can argue they were written by eyewitnesses (you certainly haven’t proved it here) but added details from other eye-witnesses- not the same thing as ‘an eye-witness” account. More like an anthology.).

    Reply: Actually, that is still an eyewitness account. Matthew spoke of what he witnessed and what he didn’t witness, he got from Mark since Peter was part of the inner circle. As for demonstrating they’re eyewitnesses, I had said you’re free to pick a gospel. I’ll list the reasons why I think the traditional author wrote it. You list the reasons why not.

    David: Even if we had first-person accounts, that’s not enough. Why? Because I’m biased against miracles? No. Because I’m biased in favor of ordinary explanations unless EXTREMELY STRONG evidence indicates the ordinary was impossible.

    Reply: No problem with that, but if you don’t have that bias, then by all means go through Keener’s work on Miracles. Go through and see if Wright and Licona provide this strong evidence. If your viewpoint is right, what have you to fear? That’s exactly why I can read someone like Carrier. What reason do I have to fear? Although if you want to read skeptical scholarship, I’d much rather you read people who really know how to do sound methodology, such as Crossan, Borg, Martin, Ludemann, and even Ehrman. Too often when I check Carrier’s sources, I find they don’t say what he claims they say, or that he’s taken a fringe position and presented it as mainstream. For instance, consider his suggestion that Pervo shows Acts is not history. Scholarship has by and large not considered Pervo’s claims seriously. Yet still Carrier when speaking to a student group points straight to Pervo. If you don’t want to be a Christian, I would say at least be a more informed skeptic.

    David: That has not remotely been demonstrated, nor can it ever be in this case because the historical record is too thin. And no, you cannot compare it to accounts of real historians like Herodotus, because nobody accepts their supernatural accounts either.

    Reply: Then it’s a bias again. Note also that I did not point to Herodotus, although that is another passage Carrier misuses as well. I have pointed mainly to Keener.

    David: It’s a straw man to ask about Alexander the Great’s sources, for the obvious reason that no serious person today believes any supernatural claims about Alexander.

    Reply: No it’s not. You say that we need contemporary historians. With Alex, we have zip. Not a one! The man who conquers the world and no one thinks to write about it for 400+ years? Didn’t this guy have a staff under him so that one person could have written about it? Surely something as important as conquering the world would be mentioned. Maybe it was just a legend. After all, we have billions of people who have lived and very few of them have conquered the world.

    David: To summarize, you make extravagant claims without evidence. You cannot prove that hallucinations or illusions were not a factor among the first christians. It’s impossible to prove either way. I don’t insist that’s the explanation- I simply grant it possible and consonant with observable patterns of human behavior. For you to deny it is to make a claim beyond what the evidence shows.

    Reply: Oh it’s possible, but does it fit the evidence? I contend that it does not based on what I said earlier. I go by what the evidence says after all.

    David: Interesting that you believe Jesus flies up to the clouds, but you won’t reveal what happened beyond. Was it a worm-hole? Spaceship? Magic Carpet? Pearly gates? Whatever it is, I’m sure you have lots of evidence for your sci-fi epistemology.

    Reply: I won’t because I don’t know. My best guess would be one goes to the sky because had Jesus just burrowed underground, we would have a completely different view of God. The sky is a representation of God’s grandeur seeing as it is seemingly endless. No. My thinking is that Heaven is where God’s presence is made manifest. That will include this Earth some day as well. Earth does not go away. Heaven would in fact come to Earth, exactly what Revelation says. Hell will also be here. People who hate God and want nothing to do with Him and have been denying His truth all their lives will live in the presence of God. Unlike the believer, they will hate it and despite it.

    • David Says:

      “Does that mean nothing in the gospels is reliable? Everything is to be looked at with suspicion? There is no other document in ancient history treated that way.”
      Name one other ancient document about who’s miracle claims historians take seriously. HIstorians do not take ancient miracle claims seriously. It’s special pleading to say, “No, just in these documents the tall tales are really really true this time!” Not without evidence. Which you have not demonstrated. Referrals to your favorite apologists are not evidence.

      “For one thing, had they had a hallucination, they would not have gone the hard route and said Jesus was raised bodily. That’s the last thing they would have said. They would have said Jesus had been divinely vindicated and was at the right hand of God.”

      And this is the problem. You KNOW what they would or wouldn’t have said. You are not saying it’s probable, you simply know. With so few sources you simply do not have the authority. And neither does any historian. You cannot say with absolute certainty who wrote the gospels, how much they saw, how much they heard, etc. You don’t know that Luke “interviewed” anyone. You surmise and then take it as fact. You downplay, when downright denying, the same social forces that that emerge from occupation, apocalypse-fever, the brotherhood and resulting peer-pressure and group-think of small intimate social groups; the religious fervor of other examples of stigmatized groups like Falon Gong and Branch Dividian (the longevity is irrelevant to the principle of a group attracting adherents despite persecution. Said examples conclusively demonstrate that some people will do anything to remain in their preferred sect), etc.
      You claim certainty where history hasn’t bequeathed certainty. You want the miracles of the NT to be granted true while applying due skepticism to every other historical miracle claim. Special pleading.
      People do and see very strange things that do not always make sense to a rational, 21st century mind. For you to claim with certainty that ordinary non-magical explanations are less likely than the ascension and resurrection, then go ahead. You are fooling nobody (but the faithful) by pretending you have adequate evidence for such a sweeping elimination of tried-and-true examples of human behavior.

  18. apologianick Says:

    David: Name one other ancient document about who’s miracle claims historians take seriously. HIstorians do not take ancient miracle claims seriously. It’s special pleading to say, “No, just in these documents the tall tales are really really true this time!” Not without evidence. Which you have not demonstrated. Referrals to your favorite apologists are not evidence.

    Reply: I see that there was no answer given to this being an all-or-nothing game. My response to miracles in other writings? Take them on a case by case basis. If you can show me that a miracle in Plutarch or Herodotus or any other work is likely and have evidential support for it, I have no problem believing it.

    Also, I have not referred to favorite apologists. I have referred to NT scholars. To say that is invalid would mean that referring to Carrier is also invalid, but why would it be invalid to refer to the works of scholars?

    David: And this is the problem. You KNOW what they would or wouldn’t have said. You are not saying it’s probable, you simply know.

    Reply: Yep. Why? Because we know what happened with other groups and we know that by their action of saying Jesus is resurrected, they were publicly outing themselves to society and the Roman Empire and YHWH Himself. To say Jesus is raised meant if they were wrong, they were facing the eternal separation from YHWH and being put on the “To kill” list for the Roman Empire. Why would they risk such a thing? Surely they would check first to make sure they weren’t hallucinating.

    David: With so few sources you simply do not have the authority.

    Reply: We make pronouncements on history often with far far fewer sources than the ones I have. In reality, I don’t have few sources. You can look at any Messianic movement at the time and you can look at the social structure of Judaism.

    David: And neither does any historian.

    Reply: Any evidence you read them? Perhaps you should listen
    when I have Paul Maier come on my show at the end of the month to discuss how ancient historiography is done.

    David: You cannot say with absolute certainty who wrote the gospels, how much they saw, how much they heard, etc.

    Reply: Actually, I am quite certain about who wrote them. You haven’t presented any evidence against and the evidence I have for is quite strong. As for how much they saw and heard, the document is innocent until proven guilty.

    David: You don’t know that Luke “interviewed” anyone.

    Reply: Yes I do. Interviewing was standard procedure in historiography. The first thing you did was go and talk to the eyewitnesses. Why should I expect that Luke went completely contrary to practices at the time, especially considering his accuracy in a book such as Acts?

    David: You surmise and then take it as fact.

    Reply: No. I let the document and standard historiographical methodology speak for itself.

    David: You downplay, when downright denying, the same social forces that that emerge from occupation, apocalypse-fever, the brotherhood and resulting peer-pressure and group-think of small intimate social groups; the religious fervor of other examples of stigmatized groups like Falon Gong and Branch Dividian (the longevity is irrelevant to the principle of a group attracting adherents despite persecution. Said examples conclusively demonstrate that some people will do anything to remain in their preferred sect), etc.

    Reply: No. The Branch Davidians are pretty much dead. What will happen to Falon Gong remains to be seen. Christianity has not been like that. It had everything against it and was in fact systematically targeted and held beliefs in an agonistic society that were quite shameful, yet within three centuries it in fact reached the point of government. Why? Perhaps you should read a work like Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity.”

    David: You claim certainty where history hasn’t bequeathed certainty.

    Reply: No. History gives probability. We just speak in terms of knowledge. We do the same thing with science which is based on inductive reasoning rather than deductive. All I ask is you give a better explanation. You haven’t.

    David: You want the miracles of the NT to be granted true while applying due skepticism to every other historical miracle claim. Special pleading.

    Reply: No. Not at all. If I did to every other miracle claim, I would not point to Keener. I would also not have a problem with believing the testimony of a Muslim man that God healed him of cancer. I have also said to just show the evidence of another miracle. I gave reasons why we can be suspicious of Vespasian and they weren’t based on the nature of the claim but on the evidence of the claim.

    David: People do and see very strange things that do not always make sense to a rational, 21st century mind.

    Reply: Modern bigotry again.

    David: For you to claim with certainty that ordinary non-magical explanations are less likely than the ascension and resurrection, then go ahead. You are fooling nobody (but the faithful) by pretending you have adequate evidence for such a sweeping elimination of tried-and-true examples of human behavior.

    Reply: You know, if you keep saying this over and over, you still won’t be making a point. Feel free to interact with Wright, Keener, Licona, etc.

    I’ve read the scholarship that disagrees with me. You haven’t mentioned reading any that disagrees with you.

  19. David Says:

    You are revealingly coy about what nonbiblical ancient miracles you believe. You don’t believe any other ancient historical documents of dramatic supernatural accounts (I’m talking impossible like flying into space, not someone recovering from illness). Because you are also a “modern bigot” and know that we are indeed products of our environment (in addition to genetics), and the world-view of someone today in the west is quite different from someone born two thousand years ago in a small village in palestine. Calling me a bigot for recognizing unarguable cultural differences that ad hominem, not to mention sophomoric.

    Yes, Falong Gong perfectly demonstrates the PRINCIPLE THAT PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION. You cannot dispute that sentence, but you can’t stop yourself throwing up straw-men regarding Falong Gong’s brief existence. That’s fallacious since the sentence in bold caps above is demonstrably true. It’s true of a cult that lasts one day, or two hundred thousand years. Same in kind, different in extent. You claim the early christian belief would have to be true to gain followers– I repeatedly give you a modern example that shows you the opposite. You change subject. The principle is the principle. People do indeed join cults and other social movements despite persecution.

    Coy with your secret knowledge of the gospel authors!

    All your responses are built on special pleading. In no other case do you take ancient documents miraculous claims seriously except for the bible. You claim to be open to evidence, exactly like I am with christianity. You’ve provided nothing other than referrals and references to the NT. In no other case would you accept the holy sacred scriptures of a particular religion to validate the claims of wild miracles within. Special pleading. You can only prove me wrong by naming the non-judeo-christian religion who’s miraculous foundational claims you also believe to be true.

    I will repeat that “People do and see very strange things that do not always make sense to a rational, 21st century mind.” Since you say that’s bigotry, I am assuming you think it is false? Are you reflexively opposing me, or are you actually thinking about your responses?

    You don’t know for sure if Luke interviewed anyone. Please list other things the author Luke wrote that demonstrate him to be a historian on the level of Josephus.

    Every time I point out the scarcity of NT sources, you equate them to any other ancient historical person or event. Which actually is my point- in every other non-biblical case, we can safely dismiss the wild miraculous claims as myth, superstition, hagiography, exaggeration. And we all do so with all ancient documents- all of us, that is, except for the religious. They instead declare all other miracles not proven true but those within their holy books. Again, prove me wrong by listing the non-biblical holy books whose miraculous claims you believe.

    p.s. the Branch Davidians were exactly as fervently committed to their savior as ANY sect, including christianity. The members were killed by the FBI. Remember the principle: PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION. Therefore, early christianity’s success is not proof of the validity of the claims. It’s only yet another testament that PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION.

  20. apologianick Says:

    David: You are revealingly coy about what nonbiblical ancient miracles you believe.

    Reply: Actually, no. I just said find a well-evidenced one. If you present one and it has sufficient evidence for it, I would have no problem believing it. I’ve been waiting for you to do so. I figured since ancient accounts were supposedly loaded with miracles you’d find it easy. To give an example, I’d have no problem believing the account of Honi the Circle-Drawer.

    David: You don’t believe any other ancient historical documents of dramatic supernatural accounts (I’m talking impossible like flying into space, not someone recovering from illness). Because you are also a “modern bigot” and know that we are indeed products of our environment (in addition to genetics), and the world-view of someone today in the west is quite different from someone born two thousand years ago in a small village in palestine. Calling me a bigot for recognizing unarguable cultural differences that ad hominem, not to mention sophomoric.

    Reply: No. An ad hominem is an insult without an argument to back it. What I pointed to was a reality. Note also I did not deny a miracle. I just asked you to present a well-evidenced one. That you did not does not say anything about my belief system. It just says you didn’t. There are some that we can only be agnostic on. For instance, some miracles of Herodotus that we have no way of checking and they’d have no lasting social notice so we can’t say. The same could even apply to some miracles of Jesus. How could we test to see if water was turned to wine? The social significance of that event is done and it has no severe beliefs tied to it really.

    The resurrection of Jesus is different. Most scholars when they reach this point simply say “I don’t know.” Theories commonly shared on the internet are not as well held by the scholarly community. The problem with your approach is that you’ve ruled out miracles in advance by saying no amount of ancient testimony could establish it. Here’s why this is problematic.

    Suppose for the sake of argument I’m right and the resurrection happened. If your historical method cannot establish that by any means, then your method cannot establish what is true. If your method rules out what is true at the outset, then it is a bad method.

    In fact, there is such methodology. Charles Leslie produced it years ago. You can also read more about it in Tim McGrew’s article here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/miracles/

    Are we all products of our culture and time? Partly. That’s why we also read old books to see what blind spots we’re missing. Old books can speak outside our culture to us. If we assume our position is right then we will never learn, and that is in fact, what bigotry is. It’s assuming that you’re right by virtue of your position in society and that everyone else is wrong.

    And furthermore, I have extra reason to be open to miracles. I have metaphysical arguments independent of special revelation that I conclusively think establish theism. I also have the testimony of accounts like those found in Keener’s “Miracles” and I do not possess the pride to think that everyone else is either lying or wrong. I finally possess personal accounts from people who I know who have no reason to lie and are rational enough that I doubt they have been duped. I then have strong arguments against Humean arguments, such as the argument of Earman.

    David: Yes, Falong Gong perfectly demonstrates the PRINCIPLE THAT PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION. You cannot dispute that sentence, but you can’t stop yourself throwing up straw-men regarding Falong Gong’s brief existence.

    Reply: The claim is not people join groups despite persecution. They always have. The claim is that a belief like Christianity not only would not have been persecuted, but it would not have even been formed. In every other case, when a Messiah died, that was it. You went home or found a new Messiah. In fact, Jesus’s early followers could have easily done that in James. Here was the brother of the Lord who could have been presumed to be the Messiah to save themselves embarrassment. They never did. They went the most wildly improbable way they could. They claimed a man who was crucified by Rome and thus under YHWH’s curse was the Messiah, they claimed he was bodily raised and not just divinely vindicated, and they claimed this right in the very spot where it would have been most easily disproven. They took a belief that was shameful entirely thus essentially signing their death warrants just by starting.

    Now as for Falun Gong, we have to see how the beliefs are different and in what context. For instance, if the Chinese government persecutes all religions, to which they certainly are with Christianity, why is it a shock they persecute Falun Gong? That people will want to join a religion rather than be atheist is not a shock.

    Also, we have to look at the teachings of Falun Gong. Are they going against the teachings around them? From what I see, not really. What it is is largely a method of self-discipline that is in Buddhism and thus an off-shoot of Buddhism and designed to clear one’s mind and connect with an inner energy within. What great claims are they making? Christians meanwhile were going out with a message “Jesus is King and Caesar is not” and “If you want to be right with YHWH, it is only through Jesus.” Why risk with a message like that? Why not blend in their message and say “Jesus is part of the pantheon like Caesar” and “Jesus is one way to be right with YHWH. The Law is another fine way.”? They didn’t.

    David: That’s fallacious since the sentence in bold caps above is demonstrably true. It’s true of a cult that lasts one day, or two hundred thousand years. Same in kind, different in extent. You claim the early christian belief would have to be true to gain followers– I repeatedly give you a modern example that shows you the opposite. You change subject. The principle is the principle. People do indeed join cults and other social movements despite persecution.

    Reply: Which had not been my point. I never denied that one. I said that Christianity not only had persecution, it had shame and shameful beliefs that went against everything around them. The early Christians would form no friends. They would be outcasts and in a highly agonistic society, that would be extremely problematic. You are confusing persecution with shaming. The two are not identical. I also point out that this belief had everything against it and yet it lasted, unlike all the other belief systems. Why did this one last? Why not Attis or Mithraism or anything else? What made this one different?

    David: Coy with your secret knowledge of the gospel authors!

    Reply: Not at all coy. I simply asked you to name a gospel and list the arguments against traditional authorship and I’ll list the ones for. It’s not my fault if you didn’t want to take me up on that offer.

    David: All your responses are built on special pleading. In no other case do you take ancient documents miraculous claims seriously except for the bible.

    Reply: I asked you to show one. You did not. I have in fact shown that I have taken miracle claims outside of my own religion as serious and valid. You have not contested this. Since I have demonstrated by prior testimony that I can accept miracle claims outside my faith tradition, your claim of special pleading is false. Your inability to point to a miracle you think is well-evidenced is not my problem.

    David: You claim to be open to evidence, exactly like I am with christianity.

    Reply: A person who is open is more than happy to read the other side. You’ve pointed to no scholars you’ve read on the other side. I have pointed to scholars I have read on the other side.

    David: You’ve provided nothing other than referrals and references to the NT.

    Reply: Actually, I’ve pointed to the works of leading scholars and not all of them are Christian. Your claim is thus again, false.

    David: In no other case would you accept the holy sacred scriptures of a particular religion to validate the claims of wild miracles within. Special pleading.

    Reply: Little difference here. I’ve read those other Scriptures. For instance, the Koran. I’ve read it. There are not accounts of Muhammad working miracles. The early Muslims claimed he didn’t as the only miracle he gave supposedly was the Koran. It’s only in the Hadiths which show up at least 150+ years later and thus I view such claims with skepticism. The gospels meanwhile are much earlier and the epistles even earlier than that and even Jesus’s own opponents outside the NT never deny that he did miracles. The Jews never did. Celsus never did. They just said it was sorcery.

    The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine of Covenants and other Mormon writings I have no reason to give any credibility based on the nature of Joseph Smith and looking at his life and the lack of archaeological evidence of anything in the BOM. This is not true of Scripture where we have had archaeological findings that demonstrate a general historical accuracy of the accounts. We have found people and places and items that are referred to in the biblical record.

    So again, show me the Scripture outside in another religion with a miracle you think I should accept. If it’s well-evidenced, I will.

    David: You can only prove me wrong by naming the non-judeo-christian religion who’s miraculous foundational claims you also believe to be true.

    Reply: Well feel free to show one. We don’t know about the origins of Hinduism and miracles don’t make sense in a pantheistic society anyway. Buddha said the question of God was irrelevant and we should not have ties with the material world so why would he do a miracle to draw our attention to it? I have already spoken about why I don’t believe in Joseph Smith and my friends at the Mormon Research Ministry can say even more on that.

    I have shown that I accept miracle claims outside of my religious tradition. Your only reply to that would be to assert that I am lying, but on what basis? That you want my argument to be false? Then that is special pleading. Again, I have simply said that if you show me a miracle and give reasons why I should think the account is accurate, I will have no problem believing it. I have no predisposition against miracles. If you show me it and I see no reason to believe it but no reason to disbelieve it, I will remain agnostic on it. It could have happened but historically speaking, we can’t know.

    Note for all of these I’ve simply asked you to produce evidence and meet the challenges. If you cannot do that, that is not my problem.

    David: I will repeat that “People do and see very strange things that do not always make sense to a rational, 21st century mind.” Since you say that’s bigotry, I am assuming you think it is false? Are you reflexively opposing me, or are you actually thinking about your responses?

    Reply: Your problem is looking at the 21st century. Rational minds have always existed and there have always been things that didn’t make sense. That did not mean people were necessarily stupid or foolish, although stupid and foolish people have also always existed. Why should I care about the 21st century? I care about the nature of the arguments. If you want to say we know dead people don’t rise from the dead today, well they knew that also! That’s why they buried their dead! Jews expecting a resurrection said it would happen at the end of time.

    David: You don’t know for sure if Luke interviewed anyone. Please list other things the author Luke wrote that demonstrate him to be a historian on the level of Josephus.

    Reply: Sure. The book of Acts. That’s two books that he wrote and the history we have in them is excellent. Did he interview people? Of course he did. Every person writing a history, and Luke certainly is, interviewed eyewitnesses. It’s up to you if you want to say that he’s lying to demonstrate that.

    David: Every time I point out the scarcity of NT sources, you equate them to any other ancient historical person or event. Which actually is my point- in every other non-biblical case, we can safely dismiss the wild miraculous claims as myth, superstition, hagiography, exaggeration.

    Reply: Hagiography, we cannot. Hagiography didn’t even exist back then. It’s a subset of biography but a subset that was non-existent and it’s invalid and in fact unethical to say that these earlier works had these characteristics, therefore they must fit a later genre. A work cannot be included in a genre that did not exist at the time. This is a claim Carrier makes, but it is simply false.

    Note also that it depends also on the nature of the evidence. For the NT, every book can be dated to the 1st century in there, which is remarkable. The epistles of Paul deemed authentic, the only ones I need, can be dated the earliest of all. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 can be dated exceptionally early. All of these early documents make the same claim about the resurrection. Can you show me the parallel elsewhere in ancient history?

    David: And we all do so with all ancient documents- all of us, that is, except for the religious. They instead declare all other miracles not proven true but those within their holy books.

    Reply: Please show the miracle in the other holy books I should accept. Keep in mind, I’ve read those books.

    David: Again, prove me wrong by listing the non-biblical holy books whose miraculous claims you believe.

    Reply: Show them first.

    David: p.s. the Branch Davidians were exactly as fervently committed to their savior as ANY sect, including christianity.

    Reply: Yes, and the Branch Davidians lived in an individualistic society rather than an agonistic one. They lived in a society that by and large practiced tolerance rather than one that didn’t. They lived in a society that accepted new ideas instead of one that rejected them.

    David: The members were killed by the FBI. Remember the principle: PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION.

    Reply: Something I never denied.

    David: Therefore, early christianity’s success is not proof of the validity of the claims. It’s only yet another testament that PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION.

    Reply: It’s early success? Not at all. It’s lasting success? Indeed! This in fact in the face of the most severe persecution. These people went out proclaiming Caesar is not king and Jesus is. In the end, they survived against the Roman Empire which is dead and gone. How?

    • David Says:

      It’s hilarious that you insist I give you ancient non-biblical miracles with evidence when I do not believe there are any ancient accounts of miracles that have evidence. Keep waiting…
      Your insistence that I provide you with said evidence I do not believe confirms that you do not indeed believe any other non-biblical source of ancient miracles. Which was my my point. yes, that’s special pleading.
      a religion’s lasting success has no dependency on its truth claims (we’ve been through this before, see Hinduism and buddhism).You keep grasping at straws and waving red herrings. The principle stands- you cannot dispute that PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION. That principle is all that’s needed to explain Christianity. Persecution is not a barrier. Stigma is not a barrier. Sorry you don’t get it, or are afraid to admit it. People join cults despite persecution. No miracles necessary. There simply needs to be some kind of psychological benefit to the person involved. full stop. btw, christians were treated warmly by their fellow christians. It wasn’t all negatives! But even if it were all negatives, the principle stands that people join cults despite persecution. You cannot and have not refuted this. Changing the subject just damages your credibility and casts doubt that you are arguing in good faith.

      You presume too much. You seem, in this case, unaware of the limits of ancient history.
      You do not know exactly what would or wouldn’t work back then because our sources, even I granted them full credibility, are not strong enough to account for every opinion and belief. That’s just not how history works, yet in this one case, you argue that the ordinary causes of supernatural claims just don’t apply here based on very contentious sources; none of whom, including the author of Luke, bothering to identify himself and having non-biblical bonafides. Not a single contemporary source that has a reputation established unrelated to the claims of the NT. Zip. (Tangentially, it’s hard to imagine a worse plan for spreading the divine good news. I, imperfect and very limited in intelligence, can think of much better ways spreading the good news. Just doing a few years of spectacular magic in a relatively modest region in a relatively modest age is clearly not the result of the perfect plan of the perfect being (non-mythical celestial beings don’t have sons, but that’s yet another tangent)).
      Citing sacred texts to prove sacred texts is, how can I put this, not very persuasive. You actually cite Paul as a witnesses to the resurrection, but by Paul’s own account, it was in visions. And visions of dead people are quite common. Radical conversions are not uncommon. Mohammed probably had a similar experience. Doesn’t make it true! Fallacious reasoning. Bolsters my case, not yours.

      You keep falsely insisting i have not read anything from “your side”– that’s false. I grew up a believer and, as my doubts grew stronger as a young adult, I read plenty of apologists (this is pre-internet!). I’m still quite interested in belief and the many ways people rationalize their beliefs. That’s why I read several of your posts. Because I’m curious. Nobody, neither you nor I, has the time to run off to the library every single time an internet debating-parter mentions somebody (even if it’s somebody YOU really respect). Because you keep citing him, I watched about several minutes of NT Wright and saw him declare that the resurrection was totally not expected. So he, like you, asserts beyond what the evidence allows. Ancient texts can tell us what’s out there- they cannot show what is NOT out there. That’s fallacious. It ignores the unusual, and often irrational behavior that we see every single day in the news. It ignores the fact that most thoughts and words are not even recorded by history! It’s the hight of hubris to assert that christianity’s rise could only be through a miracle. That simply goes against the thousands of examples we have every week of people behaving apparently irrationally. People do all sorts of odd things. You know it’s true, but you apparently lack the ability to grant that the same was true in the ancient middle east.
      You and Wright appear to lack an imagination, and worse, appear to be unable to imagine that ancient people also had imaginations. It’s modern bigotry (btw, I did not say ancients were stupid- yet another straw-man you wasted time on) for you to assert ancient people couldn’t have rationalized any kooky belief. Have you heard of Masada?! Not exactly rational to our modern sensibility (the romans were occupiers, but group suicide is hardly a proportional response). People do this all the time, and no matter how many times you close your eyes and yell “impossible,” that won’t make it true.

      You cited no non-christian scholars who support the miracle claims of the gospels. As I said, you have nothing but the NT. Non-christian scholars affirm exactly none of the miracles that we’ve been debating. Why not? Because there is simply no strong evidence for the miracle claims. Believe because of faith. You have nothing but fallacies to bolster the idea that your belief rests on demonstrable history. You can never prove your case historically because there’s not enough evidence. eyewitess testimony is notoriously unreliable. And that’s today, when we’ve had decades of formal research on this and other matters of psychology. And hearsay is even weaker evidence, esp when we’re talking about ancient miracles that no single historian could be bothered to write about. (why should they, you asked in another post? Because people normally don’t rise from the dead, or ascend to heaven. Bodies of cemeteries don’t normally rise and talk to their families. The sun doesn’t normally go dark (but historians have certainly noted when eclipses happen…) The answer is obvious; if the christian claims were true instead of myths, then historians would have no choice but to note the unprecedentedly weird and impossible things happening. The gospels assert Jesus performed so many miracles that they would fill every book! If that was reliable, a contemporary historian would have noted this- or at least noticed the social upheaval caused by such undeniable, radical, scenes of impossibility! But nothing. zip. crickets. If it looks like a myth, sounds like a myth, tastes like a myth… )

      So yes, you have no evidence for supernatural claims but the gospels. Tell me who wrote Matthew Mark Luke and John. Tell us some biographical details of any of them. tell us a single non-biblical source so we can agree that they are not simply historians, but critical historians with a track record of fidelity…. I’m sure you know these things beyond doubt. Otherwise, we agree that skepticism should be applied in proportion to the unlikelihood of the claim.

  21. apologianick Says:

    David: It’s hilarious that you insist I give you ancient non-biblical miracles with evidence when I do not believe there are any ancient accounts of miracles that have evidence.

    Reply: No. I asked you for your best-evidenced one. Go ahead. Give one. Give a miracle case you think has equal epistemic status to the resurrection. Until then, your case about me doing special pleading is false. I have asked you to back your claim and you have not done so.

    David: Keep waiting…

    Reply: Yes. I think if someone makes a claim they should back it. I will wait.

    David: Your insistence that I provide you with said evidence I do not believe confirms that you do not indeed believe any other non-biblical source of ancient miracles. Which was my my point. yes, that’s special pleading.

    Reply: No. It confirms that you cannot find one that is as well-evidenced as the resurrection. I said present some miracles to me and the evidence for them and I’ll examine them and see what I think. I don’t believe all claims blindly but unlike what I see from you, I also don’t disbelieve all claims blindly.

    David: a religion’s lasting success has no dependency on its truth claims (we’ve been through this before, see Hinduism and buddhism).

    Reply: If that was the only factor, I agree. It is not. It is part of the factor. Can you demonstrate the strong shaming and persecution at the start of Hinduism and Buddhism?

    David: You keep grasping at straws and waving red herrings. The principle stands- you cannot dispute that PEOPLE JOIN CULTS DESPITE PERSECUTION.

    Reply: If you’d paid attention, I affirmed that last time. I never denied it. I don’t know why you insist on capping points I’ve already agreed with. You might as well say YOU CANNOT DENY 2 + 2 = 4!

    David: That principle is all that’s needed to explain Christianity. Persecution is not a barrier. Stigma is not a barrier.

    Reply: Actually, yes it is. In an agonistic society, shame is a huge barrier. Why would people join Christianity? They had everything they wanted in their own religions. Jews had a perfectly acceptable way to be right with God. Pagans weren’t really concerned about forgiveness. They did not want to hold beliefs that put them on the outs with society and gave them no equal benefit in return.

    David: Sorry you don’t get it, or are afraid to admit it. People join cults despite persecution.

    Reply: Oh. You mean I’m afraid to admit what I already admitted? That’s odd.

    David: No miracles necessary. There simply needs to be some kind of psychological benefit to the person involved.

    Reply: That works in an individualistic society but not an agonistic one. In fact, there would be a great psychological benefit if any in NOT being a Christian or even inventing Christianity. Why was it even invented? What did they have to gain? What did happen to Jesus? Why did Paul convert? Why did James?

    David: full stop. btw, christians were treated warmly by their fellow christians. It wasn’t all negatives!

    Reply: Never said it was, but why would you abandon being treated warmly by the majority for being treated warmly by a minority?

    David: But even if it were all negatives, the principle stands that people join cults despite persecution. You cannot and have not refuted this.

    Reply: Why would I refute what I’ve already affirmed. Here’s an idea. Take a break. Really READ what is being said to you and really learn the argument being presented.

    David: Changing the subject just damages your credibility and casts doubt that you are arguing in good faith.

    Reply: No. What damages credibility is arguing a point your opponent has already agreed to. It leads to wonder if you’re arguing in good faith.

    David: You presume too much. You seem, in this case, unaware of the limits of ancient history.

    Reply: No. I’m all too aware of them. I am because I read the scholarship. You have not presented anyone to read on the subject aside from Carrier, a highly unreliable source.

    David: You do not know exactly what would or wouldn’t work back then because our sources, even I granted them full credibility, are not strong enough to account for every opinion and belief.

    Reply: Actually, even non-Christian scholars like Ehrman admit the crucifixion is not something that would be made up and there are several items in the gospels that fall under the criterion of embarrassment.

    Again, you learn these kinds of things if you read the scholars.

    David: That’s just not how history works, yet in this one case, you argue that the ordinary causes of supernatural claims just don’t apply here based on very contentious sources; none of whom, including the author of Luke, bothering to identify himself and having non-biblical bonafides.

    Reply: Neither did the writer of Plutarch identify himself. So what? Ancient writers did not always do so in their writings. It was known to the audience by other means, such as a seal on the scroll or the messenger delivering it. Their sources would also be known by the names used in the gospel. Again, you could find this out if you read Bauckham.

    David: Not a single contemporary source that has a reputation established unrelated to the claims of the NT. Zip.

    Reply: This depends on what is meant by contemporary. Furthermore, why set the rule that something a document says is only viable if another source backs it?

    Furthermore, how many contemporary sources mention the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that destroyed two cities and killed a quarter of a million people?

    David: (Tangentially, it’s hard to imagine a worse plan for spreading the divine good news. I, imperfect and very limited in intelligence, can think of much better ways spreading the good news. Just doing a few years of spectacular magic in a relatively modest region in a relatively modest age is clearly not the result of the perfect plan of the perfect being (non-mythical celestial beings don’t have sons, but that’s yet another tangent)).

    Reply: Ah yes. The old “If I was God I would have done it differently.” Let’s see. 2,000 years later nearly and most of the world has got the message and believes it and you’re arguing it still today.

    Yep. Obviously a terrible way to get the word out. Clearly it’s failed miserably.

    David: Citing sacred texts to prove sacred texts is, how can I put this, not very persuasive.

    Reply: Citing Josephus to prove Josephus would not be persuasive either. We have several claims for which we have only one source in history to back them and they’re not questioned. Why treat Scripture differently?

    David: You actually cite Paul as a witnesses to the resurrection, but by Paul’s own account, it was in visions.

    Reply: No. It was not a vision. There was a word Paul could have used for vision and he did not use that. See Wright and Licona both on this one. I also trust that they know the Greek language far better than you or I do.

    David: And visions of dead people are quite common. Radical conversions are not uncommon.

    Reply: They are in the ancient world. Paul was advancing beyond his peers. He was on the good path as it were. If he had just had a vision, he was no idiot. He would have known that. He would have checked the claim first before risking abandoning everything he had.

    David: Mohammed probably had a similar experience. Doesn’t make it true! Fallacious reasoning. Bolsters my case, not yours.

    Reply: Muhammad also gained plenty from what happened. Lots of women, plenty of power, plenty of money. What perks did Paul get? Well he tells us about them in 2 Cor. 11, though none of them sound pleasant.

    David: You keep falsely insisting i have not read anything from “your side”– that’s false. I grew up a believer and, as my doubts grew stronger as a young adult, I read plenty of apologists (this is pre-internet!).

    Reply; Oh by all means give names, but don’t just read the apologists. I hardly read a work on apologetics any more. Too simplistic normally. Read the scholars! Which NT scholars have you read that are Christian?

    David: I’m still quite interested in belief and the many ways people rationalize their beliefs. That’s why I read several of your posts. Because I’m curious. Nobody, neither you nor I, has the time to run off to the library every single time an internet debating-parter mentions somebody (even if it’s somebody YOU really respect). Because you keep citing him, I watched about several minutes of NT Wright and saw him declare that the resurrection was totally not expected. So he, like you, asserts beyond what the evidence allows.

    Reply: Ooooh. There’s hard research. You watched several minutes. I do go to the library and to Amazon and do the best I can to get books by the other side. Does it require time? Yep. Does it require sacrifice? Yep. Difference is I can say I’m informed. You think watching a few minutes of N.T. Wright means you’re informed with the mass of thousands of pages he’s written? Please.

    David: Ancient texts can tell us what’s out there- they cannot show what is NOT out there. That’s fallacious. It ignores the unusual, and often irrational behavior that we see every single day in the news. It ignores the fact that most thoughts and words are not even recorded by history!

    Reply: No. It affirms it. That’s what I pointed out in my post on Jesus is not worth talking about.

    David: It’s the hight of hubris to assert that christianity’s rise could only be through a miracle. That simply goes against the thousands of examples we have every week of people behaving apparently irrationally.

    Reply: No. It’s just accepting the evidence. You’ve yet to give a counter-explanation and I see no familiarity with the concept of honor and shame in the NT world.

    David: People do all sorts of odd things. You know it’s true, but you apparently lack the ability to grant that the same was true in the ancient middle east.

    Reply: No. I affirm it. I just know that you can’t argue from a general to a particular. Each case must be treated on a case by case basis.

    David: You and Wright appear to lack an imagination, and worse, appear to be unable to imagine that ancient people also had imaginations.

    Reply: Amazing you can learn someone’s whole worldview from watching a few minutes of a video. Let’s compare. I read the books by the non-Christian scholars and even write reviews of them. You watch a few minutes of a video.

    Who’s best informed themselves on the other side?

    David: It’s modern bigotry (btw, I did not say ancients were stupid- yet another straw-man you wasted time on) for you to assert ancient people couldn’t have rationalized any kooky belief. Have you heard of Masada?!

    Reply: Yep. Sure have. That’s where Josephus came from. He changed his mind at the end.

    David: Not exactly rational to our modern sensibility (the romans were occupiers, but group suicide is hardly a proportional response). People do this all the time, and no matter how many times you close your eyes and yell “impossible,” that won’t make it true.

    Reply: It would be more honorable to die than to be taken and live in captivity in Rome. That’s what they thought. Honor was everything.

    David: You cited no non-christian scholars who support the miracle claims of the gospels.

    Reply: I cited non-Christians supporting the historical facts, but I will gladly give a non-Christian scholar then. Pinchas Lapides. Pinchas Lapides is a Jewish scholar who actually believes Jesus rose from the dead but is not the messiah.

    David: As I said, you have nothing but the NT. Non-christian scholars affirm exactly none of the miracles that we’ve been debating. Why not? Because there is simply no strong evidence for the miracle claims.

    Reply: Then again, you should consider Keener and also realize that many non-Christians like Borg are opening themselves up more and more to such claims.

    David: Believe because of faith.
    Reply: No. I prefer evidence. I don’t want to be like an atheist.

    David: You have nothing but fallacies to bolster the idea that your belief rests on demonstrable history. You can never prove your case historically because there’s not enough evidence. eyewitess testimony is notoriously unreliable.

    Reply: First you complain that the gospels are not eyewitnesses and are thus unreliable.

    Now you say that eyewitnesses are just unreliable.

    So you stack the deck where you can win either way. Nice!

    David: And that’s today, when we’ve had decades of formal research on this and other matters of psychology. And hearsay is even weaker evidence, esp when we’re talking about ancient miracles that no single historian could be bothered to write about.

    Reply: Sorry, but this is not hearsay. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 is not considered hearsay and why should others have written about miraculous claims when people were skeptical of such claims?

    David: (why should they, you asked in another post? Because people normally don’t rise from the dead, or ascend to heaven. Bodies of cemeteries don’t normally rise and talk to their families. The sun doesn’t normally go dark (but historians have certainly noted when eclipses happen…) The answer is obvious; if the christian claims were true instead of myths, then historians would have no choice but to note the unprecedentedly weird and impossible things happening.

    Reply: And how many of these historians were in Judea? Was Tacitus there? Was Josephus? Josephus is possible, but we don’t know and he would have been awfully young. Also, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and made to look like there had never been a city there so who knows what was lost.

    Again, the outside world would have looked with the same skepticism you do.

    David: The gospels assert Jesus performed so many miracles that they would fill every book! If that was reliable, a contemporary historian would have noted this- or at least noticed the social upheaval caused by such undeniable, radical, scenes of impossibility! But nothing. zip. crickets. If it looks like a myth, sounds like a myth, tastes like a myth… )

    Reply: The upheaval was noted, it’s just that the claims weren’t believed. Again, why should they be in an age of skepticism?

    David: So yes, you have no evidence for supernatural claims but the gospels.

    Reply: Again, no interaction with Keener. Nothing to explain away that even Jesus’s opponents never denied he did miracles.

    David: Tell me who wrote Matthew Mark Luke and John. Tell us some biographical details of any of them. tell us a single non-biblical source so we can agree that they are not simply historians, but critical historians with a track record of fidelity…. I’m sure you know these things beyond doubt.

    Reply: Choose one. That was my challenge. Pick one. Each one is an exhaustive topic on its own so choose one.

    David: Otherwise, we agree that skepticism should be applied in proportion to the unlikelihood of the claim.

    Reply: I in fact in this post said skepticism is fine. Extreme skepticism is not.

  22. David Says:

    That’s right. I will offer no historical evidence of miracles because there simply is no historical evidence for miracles. You confuse people claiming miracles happened to actual miracles happening. Such tenuous ‘testimony’ would absolutely not be sufficient to prove anything in a court of law, because these ancient sources leave plenty of room for reasonable doubt. It takes faith to pretend that you know with certainty that all the other normal factors didn’t occur here. In other words, special pleading.
    Shaming among hindu is irrelevant as to whether or not christianity happened with or without miracles. Red herring. History is replete with people joining groups against their own interest- to the point of death. It’s common throughout history and takes willing blindness and special pleading to assert such wasn’t a factor among early christians.

    you said: “Why would people join Christianity? They had everything they wanted in their own religions. Jews had a perfectly acceptable way to be right with God. Pagans weren’t really concerned about forgiveness. They did not want to hold beliefs that put them on the outs with society and gave them no equal benefit in return.”
    I addressed this. People do all sorts of things that go against their apparent interest. Ask branch Dividians why they isolated themselves with a charismatic follower to the point of being killed by feds. Same story, hundredth verse.
    Again, it takes special pleading to assert that these common human tendencies wouldn’t also occur among early christians.

    You say:”Why was it even invented? What did they have to gain? What did happen to Jesus? Why did Paul convert? Why did James?”
    I don’t know. I do know enough about history, psychology, anthropology, comparative religion, sociology to know that crazier things have happened. More unusual events have transpired. And all without magic. And we know that man has claimed magic when closer inspection yields a mundane answer. It’s simple. Unless you want to believe that you KNOW. That’s okay, you can have your faith and eat it too.

    You are reverting back to the crucifixion straw-man. Citing Bart Ehrman’s support is irrelevant because i’ve already told you I’m not disputing that.

    Yes, the christian narrative is an awful way to get the word out. It’s not rocket science that there are better ways; ways that would get a curious skeptic like myself to believe (I am certainly open to evidence. You’ve only presented evidence that people believed. Quite different, given the radical diversity of belief). Not to mention, ways that would ensure that everyone everywhere has heard the ‘good news’ in fewer than 16 centuries. A perfect god would also do away with this polytheistic idea (pure coincidence that sons of gods were not uncommon at that time) of having a son with a distinct will who will sit at the right hand of himself. A son who shows deference to the father (i.e. not the same celestial being i.e. polytheism). Yes, it takes very little imagination and frankly very little intelligence to improve upon that plan.
    I treat all historical documents the same way- the weirder the claim, the more evidence necessary to prove the claim. Ancient miracle claims are common and they are the product of superstition, imagination, wishful thinking, hallucinations, visions, dreams, manipulation– You have no proof to the contrary, other than references to holy scriptures. Not persuasive. You even falsely claim “the upheaval was noted” by contemporary historians. False. We have no accounts of christianity until decades after jesus’s death. We can surmise oral traditions, but nothing extant, and certainly no outsiders noticing the upheaval around the years of Jesus ministry. Dishonest.
    you said:”First you complain that the gospels are not eyewitnesses and are thus unreliable. Now you say that eyewitnesses are just unreliable.”
    I said the authorship of the gospels cannot be known with certainty. I pointed out an inconvenient truth, which is that eye witnesses ARE unreliable. I’m sorry you are unfamiliar with scholarship affirming such. (I actually think you are not unfamiliar with it, but your contentious nature might prompt you to declare that you don’t have to accept it unless I cite a source. That’s dishonest if you already know that it’s common knowledge (you do; don’t be dishonest!))

    1 Cor 15 absolutely contains hearsay- declaring that 500 people had a vision is a text-book example of hearsay. are you unaware of the definition, or did you think I wouldn’t look it up?
    With apologists like these….

  23. apologianick Says:

    David: That’s right. I will offer no historical evidence of miracles because there simply is no historical evidence for miracles.

    Reply: My request was for you to offer a miracle you think I should believe that has evidence that would be parallel. Apparently, you can offer none and still wish to say I deny all miracle claims. I have made no such claim. I have said show me the claim and I will examine the evidence for it. I could affirm it, deny it, or say “I don’t know.” I have no problem with skepticism but I have a problem with a skepticism that says “We can never affirm a miracle in history.” After all, that means that if miracles have happened, we can never know history and a methodology that does not allow us to know the truth is not a methodology I desire. I see no reason to hold a methodology that rules out outcomes prior in advance based on presuppositions that are not backed.

    David: You confuse people claiming miracles happened to actual miracles happening.

    Reply: No. If I did that, then I would believe every miracle claimed. I don’t. For instance, I don’t believe Muhammad flew on a horse and I gave my reasons for not believing it and none of them were “miracles don’t happen!”

    David: Such tenuous ‘testimony’ would absolutely not be sufficient to prove anything in a court of law, because these ancient sources leave plenty of room for reasonable doubt. It takes faith to pretend that you know with certainty that all the other normal factors didn’t occur here. In other words, special pleading.

    Reply: And yet it’s okay to assume that everything that happened was natural. This relies on the bogus natural/supernatural distinction which I don’t hold to. I simply believe in things that are evidenced and don’t make judgments beforehand based on worldview.

    David: Shaming among hindu is irrelevant as to whether or not christianity happened with or without miracles.

    Reply: No. Shame is quite relevant in an agonistic society. In fact, it is one of the most if not the most important aspect of it all.

    David: Red herring. History is replete with people joining groups against their own interest- to the point of death. It’s common throughout history and takes willing blindness and special pleading to assert such wasn’t a factor among early christians.

    Reply: Actually, this is false. The only reason anyone does anything is they perceive a good in it so there’s no one doing anything with zero self-interest. The question is not just joining the group, but why the movement even started to begin with.

    David: you said: “Why would people join Christianity? They had everything they wanted in their own religions. Jews had a perfectly acceptable way to be right with God. Pagans weren’t really concerned about forgiveness. They did not want to hold beliefs that put them on the outs with society and gave them no equal benefit in return.”
    I addressed this. People do all sorts of things that go against their apparent interest.

    Reply: Yes. People do. You never said why they did this one however. That’s important.

    David: Ask branch Dividians why they isolated themselves with a charismatic follower to the point of being killed by feds. Same story, hundredth verse.

    Reply: This is a story also that depended on Christian concepts prior such as a shameful figure. Furthermore, David Koresh’s events took place in an individualistic society with a tolerating live and let live attitude. The Roman Empire was not like that. The falsehood of the movement was also shown in that it died out soon thus proving Koresh’s claims to be false. Had the movement kept going and claimed Koresh had been physically resurrected and had people growing, you might have proved a point. In cases of cognitive dissonance, such as in “When Prophecy Fails” the movement dies out quickly. In the case of Christianity, it in fact grew. Why?

    David: Again, it takes special pleading to assert that these common human tendencies wouldn’t also occur among early christians.

    Reply: I’ve been shown no reason why in an agonistic society Christianity would even get off the ground or get started. The apostles had nothing to gain from forming the belief. Why do it?

    David: You say:”Why was it even invented? What did they have to gain? What did happen to Jesus? Why did Paul convert? Why did James?”
    I don’t know.

    Reply: It would have been best to stop at that point and say “Let me go read some different scholars and see what they say.”

    David: I do know enough about history, psychology, anthropology, comparative religion, sociology to know that crazier things have happened.

    Reply: Color me skeptical that I should consider your opinion authoritative in all those fields. I don’t. Your research methodology with N.T. Wright was revealing enough.

    David: More unusual events have transpired. And all without magic.

    Reply: Not magic. Miracles. Magic is man trying to control a power from within the universe. Miracles involve a power outside. I gave a list of arguments as to why I do not close the door on miracles. I have seen no replies.

    David: And we know that man has claimed magic when closer inspection yields a mundane answer. It’s simple. Unless you want to believe that you KNOW. That’s okay, you can have your faith and eat it too.

    Reply: Ah yes. Gotta love a naturalism of the gaps. Tell you what, until you find a natural explanation for what happened, I’ll go with the position I think is best evidenced. I think it best to go with the evidence we have. Not the evidence we don’t have.

    David: You are reverting back to the crucifixion straw-man. Citing Bart Ehrman’s support is irrelevant because i’ve already told you I’m not disputing that.

    Reply: Not at all. I’m saying it’s a shameful belief that would not have been made up and that fact is attested by Ehrman. If the Christians wanted to say Jesus was resurrected, why go with a crucified Messiah? That was an embarrassment with evangelism.

    David: Yes, the christian narrative is an awful way to get the word out. It’s not rocket science that there are better ways; ways that would get a curious skeptic like myself to believe (I am certainly open to evidence. You’ve only presented evidence that people believed. Quite different, given the radical diversity of belief). Not to mention, ways that would ensure that everyone everywhere has heard the ‘good news’ in fewer than 16 centuries. A perfect god would also do away with this polytheistic idea (pure coincidence that sons of gods were not uncommon at that time) of having a son with a distinct will who will sit at the right hand of himself.

    Reply: Why?Also, nothing polytheistic about it. It just shows you didn’t really pay attention to Christian theology.

    David: A son who shows deference to the father (i.e. not the same celestial being i.e. polytheism). Yes, it takes very little imagination and frankly very little intelligence to improve upon that plan.

    Reply: You’ve yet to give a better plan and it sure seems to have worked great! The church dominated throughout the Middle Ages. Don’t see why you think the plan failed so miserably, but then this is just a subjective opinion. Funny you can claim that you KNOW a perfect God would not act this way, though you couldn’t demonstrate it, but you mind other people making knowledge claims that you think they can’t demonstrate.

    David: I treat all historical documents the same way- the weirder the claim, the more evidence necessary to prove the claim.

    Reply: No problem. Deal with the evidence for this one. Read scholars like Licona and Wright and argue against them. Don’t just watch a YouTube video. Do the real heavy lifting. The only time I watch a video like that is if someone sends me a video wanting a respond. Other than that, I’m at the library or on Amazon getting books and reading them.

    David: Ancient miracle claims are common and they are the product of superstition, imagination, wishful thinking, hallucinations, visions, dreams, manipulation– You have no proof to the contrary, other than references to holy scriptures.

    Reply: Actually, my references are to Keener and to other leading scholars. You keep repeating this claim over and over and yet you’re not interacting at all with Keener and giving no argument against miracles. Why should I presume your worldview?

    David: Not persuasive. You even falsely claim “the upheaval was noted” by contemporary historians. False.

    Reply: Actually, my claim was that it was noted. Tacitus tells us about what happened. Pliny had his problems with Christians that were mentioned. As for decades after, of course not. Why should we? Again, you’re thinking in terms of the Gutenberg Galaxy. In a post-Gutenberg world writing is relatively cheap and easy and accessible to others. Most everyone can read. Pre-Gutenberg, this is not the case. The most that could read around the time of Christ would be about 10% (Although the church did change that). Writing was expensive. You had to produce the parchment for the writing, a costly and timely endeavor, you had to get the ink, and you often had to hire a scribe and no, there was no postal service like today. To even deliver the message was costly. If you wanted to get the word out, you used the spoken world. That’s the way an oral society works. People in such societies also have much better memories and much better means of checking information to make sure the story does not change drastically over time. Change in minor details is fine, but not change in the essential story.

    This is also why I asked about Vesuvius, a question you didn’t answer.

    David: We have no accounts of christianity until decades after jesus’s death. We can surmise oral traditions, but nothing extant, and certainly no outsiders noticing the upheaval around the years of Jesus ministry. Dishonest.

    Reply: Why should we expect such records during Jesus’s ministry? People didn’t write until decades after most often. We can also get to much of the oral tradition. However, you could consider the work of a scholar such as James Crossley who thinks Mark could be dated early, I think even around 42 A.D., which would place it around 10-15 years of the events, exceptionally early. There’s also the possibility that a first century copy of Mark has been found.

    David: I said the authorship of the gospels cannot be known with certainty. I pointed out an inconvenient truth, which is that eye witnesses ARE unreliable. I’m sorry you are unfamiliar with scholarship affirming such.

    Reply: I actually never entirely disagreed with you. I think all claims need to be tested. I just think it’s a double-standard to say that you want material that is firsthand being eyewitness and not hearsay, and then if you found out the gospels were eyewitnesses to say “Well eyewitnesses are unreliable.” To say something is an eyewitness does not mean 100% truth, but it does mean it is a different kind of evidence that could be granted more reliability. Again, there is no interaction with Bauckham here.

    David: (I actually think you are not unfamiliar with it, but your contentious nature might prompt you to declare that you don’t have to accept it unless I cite a source. That’s dishonest if you already know that it’s common knowledge (you do; don’t be dishonest!))

    Reply: Oh I could give a source. You might be thinking of someone like Elizabeth Loftus for example. Crossan refers to her as well. Never occurred to you did it that perhaps I have considered such claims and found why I don’t think they work in an ancient agonistic society? I don’t deny the eyewitness problem with modern testimony, but I do deny that ancients like us. Modern testimony relies on individual memory. Ancient societies had more of a group memory.

    David: 1 Cor 15 absolutely contains hearsay- declaring that 500 people had a vision

    Reply: It is not claimed to be a vision and is an account based on the firsthand experience. Scholars like Ludemann do not dismiss it that easily. Furthermore, to say it is a vision is problematic because for a vision, this would have to be an objective vision since 500 people would not have a subjective experience of a similar nature like this, therefore, there must have been something there. IN that case then, it is an illusion, not a hallucination, but you would need to say what they really saw.

    David: is a text-book example of hearsay. are you unaware of the definition, or did you think I wouldn’t look it up?

    Reply: Oh I am. I just prefer to go by what scholarship says and every scholar knows that this claim has to be taken seriously. I have problems with the hallucination hypothesis. Note also Paul had enemies in this church and to say that some of the 500 are still alive, it was essentially an invitation to go and interview them and ask them.

    David: With apologists like these….

    Reply: You mean ones that read the primary sources and the scholarship? Thank God for Richard Carrier. The more he gains prominence in the atheistic community, the more damage he’ll do in the long run.

    • David Says:

      All you have is special pleading. Cite your sources that show that nobody in the middle east could have thought of the things early christians thought of. There were no sociological surveys of these places so we know you have no solid evidence that accounts for everyone. That’s an absurd logical leap that takes faith.
      Criterion from embarrassment just doesn’t cut it. There should not have been so many mormons nor so much growth in mormonism, especially when Jo Smith’s claims to spiritual authority were so obviously fraudulent to outsiders. It’s very easy to do like you and make a rhetorical case why mormonism must be true- it’s success and persecution shows it!

      N.T. Wright is not worth my time. Anyone who speaks the way he does for five minutes is gullible when it comes to NT claims. No serious scholar should take Jesus quotes at face value. Not adequately sourced. I do not want to waste time or money reading hundreds of pages by gullible people. You mock Carrier, though I mentioned his name for 3 posts, yet the bit I’ve seen of Carrier is far more reasonable and restrained by acknowledging the limits of historical knowledge. Wright, nope. Not worth my time since he is so credulous on ancient claims of wild miracles.

      you said:”And yet it’s okay to assume that everything that happened was natural. This relies on the bogus natural/supernatural distinction which I don’t hold to. I simply believe in things that are evidenced and don’t make judgments beforehand based on worldview.”
      Uh, yes. we should always assume the natural unless overwhelming evidence shows that the ‘impossible’ happens. Otherwise, it’s gullibility. The natural/supernatural distinction is bogus?! Fascinating! I’m sure you’re quite the expert on the supernatura. I’ll believe it when I see it or see evidence for it. You’ve presented nothing but ancient hearsay; you have not demonstrated the authorship of any eyewitness, nor proved we have any eye-witness accounts. That aside, even if you had eye-witness accounts, history is replete with examples of people claiming crazy things. Nothing new.

      People do indeed do join groups that are so harmful to them that they die. david Koresh is an easy example. HIs followers died with him. Yet more testament that people will join anything, including sects that bring about harm or death.

      You are waiting in vain for me to provide a theory that perfectly answers all the questions about the birth of christianity. I’m here to inform you that, as with so so many historical events, we don’t really know what happened. That’s called epistemological modesty. You, however, pretend that unless i have the perfect theory, then magic (aka supernaturalism) wins. Fallacious logic and special pleading, since you are correctly skeptical with all other religions and ancient miracle claims (with one possible exception, out of thousands of counterexamples). Special pleading.

      You were not there in 1st century palestine, yet you insist that hallucinations/visions, group think, peer pressure, apocalyptic fervor, anti-occupation social unrest, class struggle, revolutionary fever, elements of paganism were not possible factors that contributed to the christianity’s birth- no, it’s just miracles! No, none of the other oft-observed phenomena that litter history! Magic, death-defying, flying, and the rest. Yet more special pleading. Modern bigotry.
      Why did early christians join the cult? Look around, read! If you have very little in life, it can be quite exciting to join a group that seems to have some magic to it. Especially if you are treated like family and are promised rewards in heaven. It’s a seductive message of hope. Bound to appeal to some people. But they were persecuted, you cry! I know, we covered this multiple times by replying with examples of other persecuted groups. Irrelevant.

      Sorry you didn’t know this, but actually god’s big plan didn’t turn out great. While indeed christianity was the religion of europe, most of the planet earth was not even known to christians for hundreds of years. I encourage you to read more on this subject.

      You criticize me for “the naturalism of the gaps?!” uh, yes. You obviously subscribe to “magic in the gaps.” We’ll agree to disagree. [actually, you also think like me outside of your christian paradigm]

      As to Keener, if I directed you to an atheist video, and in five minutes you witnessed several fallacious arguments, you would be correct to decide not to waste your time with such. If you have an argument to make, make it. I don’t intend to read him after seeing him speak multiple paragraphs based on fallacious premises. I get it that he’s all about pretending I am closed to the evidence because of an anti-supernatural worldview. In my case, that’s false. I just need evidence beyond eyewitness testimony or hearsay. Why? Because psychology has explained how easy it is for people to be deceived by their senses. Default assumption should be skepticism. In the NT case, we have few sources, and they are contentious. There’s so much we do not know.
      They are simply not adequate to eliminate all natural explanations. And certainly not sufficient to believe that a guy rose up into the clouds. I am not gullible. It takes more than ancient claims of magic (no, magic does not have only the one definition you gave it- it also denotes supernaturalism) to persuade me. Why? Because there are so many claims that we know are false, they fall into a long-trodden pattern of human behavior. exaggeration, wish-ful thinking, etc.

      Yes, you were false to claim “the upheaval was noted” because exactly nothing was noted for decades after Jesus’s death. At such time, those people would have no way of verifying miraculous claims- however, that too is irrelevant because there was certainly not a modern-day skeptical/scientific culture among rural palestinians. History is dead-silent when it mattered most. So what, you say? What did I expect! That’s just not good enough to validate miraculous claims, sorry. In NO OTHER CASE of ‘witness’ testimony decades later do we grant miraculous claims. Special pleading.
      Wow, you just dig in your heels when called out on falsehoods. Claiming five hundred people saw the resurrected Jesus is absolutely, inarguably, legally, technically, definitionally hearsay. It might make you feel better to just concede something instead denying the truth.

      You are in complete denial by asserting there is nothing polytheistic about the trinity. If god A said he is subservient to god B, then A does not equal B. A son is not the father. Holy Sacred Scripture assures us that even Jesus doesn’t know when the end of the world will be. That means he is distinct from Yahweh. That’s what the text says. Yes, over the centuries Christians developed a tedious metaphysics to square that little circle. But the text stands on its own, and while there are indeed contrary texts that seem to equate father and son, they simply don’t explain away the other texts. All the hallmarks of a patch-work religion, just like the rest.

  24. cornelll Says:

    David

    “N.T. Wright is not worth my time. Anyone who speaks the way he does for five minutes is gullible when it comes to NT claims.”

    You really shouldn’t be in the skeptical business because of your abject bias towards great interlocutors

    Just do a search on the Society of Biblical Literature website (which is very friendly to secular scholars) and you get 227 hits on NT Wright

    http://www.sbl-site.org/searchresults.aspx?cx=012028072752611992285%3A7gzu507oe6k&cof=FORID%3A10%3BNB%3A1&ie=UTF-8&q=NT+Wright

    HIs CV is also impressive and we shouldn’t leave this out

    (i) University of Oxford: Exeter College (from 1975, Merton College):

    In which he got his

    2000 D.D. (published work submitted, principally The New Testament and the People of God, The Climax of the Covenant and Jesus and the Victory of God)

    1981 D.Phil. (Thesis topic: ‘The Messiah and the People of God: A Study in Pauline Theology with Particular Reference to the Argument of the Epistle to the Romans’; supervisor: Prof. G.B. Caird)

    http://ntwrightpage.com/NTW_WebCV.htm

    You’ll notice that Wikipedia takes from this site and lists this:

    In addition to his Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University[9] he has also been awarded several honorary doctoral degrees,[10] including from Durham University in July 2007,[11] the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in April 2008,[12] the University of St Andrews in 2009,[13] Heythrop College, University of London in 2010, and the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in May 2012.

    David I’m not as nice as the others here, but you are quite the ignoramus who just waves his pom poms. Whether you like it or not NT Wright is an elite scholar respected by Christians and non-Christians alike, the moment you start hand-waving his work is the moment everyone on here should taking you seriously.

    Or maybe it’s because you’re much too lazy to look at NT Wright, or maybe you’re afraid either way you are not a skeptic so stop calling yourself one.

    ty

    • David Says:

      As I said, if I directed you to a prominent atheist, and you saw a lecture that contained several specious lines of argument, you are correct for deciding it’s an unwise use of time to read even more.
      It just goes to show the racket that’s called christian apologetics (or whatever title you prefer). I’m quite familiar with the source material- I’m quite familiar with the fact that authorship of said material is heavily disputed. So any new guy proclaiming they conclusively figured it out is assuming more than evidence allows, barring any new discovery of source material that was actually written in Jesus’s lifetime.

      I’m sorry to repeat what you really don’t like hearing, but your religion is based upon very flimsy findings which most certainly do not rule out alternative and actually-possible (as opposed to magical or supernatural) explanations– explanations perfectly consonant with observed and observable human behavior. Your dogmatic and arrogant personality prevents you from conceding as much- that’s okay, I used to be just like you. I even argued against atheists who dared challenge my faith! I also remember the temptation to dig in my heels even when I was over my head. So, I understand where you are coming from. It’s a bit embarrassing to have to defend people flying up into the clouds and rising from the dead, like a cheap zombie movie. But that’s the corner your faith has placed you. It’s irrational, but understandable, for religious faith does indeed provide comfort.

      Credentials mean nothing if they are not represented by people who understand the limits of ancient historical scholarship. Wright doesn’t; at least, not as far as the NT is concerned. He is actually gullible when it comes to the wild miraculous claims of the NT. That is not skeptical, critical scholarship, no matter the c.v. It’s sloppy thinking, and the fact that he’s your apparent champion just goes to show how thin your “evidence” is. You know you don’t got anything when you resort to using sacred scriptures to defend sacred scripture (your pathetically desperate comparison to using Josephus to defend Josephus gets to my point also- nobody believes any other ancient miracle claim by Josephus or any other ancient historian! Thanks for reinforcing my point!)
      And you’ve shown a serious lack of integrity by lying to my face (twice!) that ancient accounts of 500 people seeing visions do NOT constitute hearsay. That’s a bald-faced lie (or inexcusable ignorance, given my previous reply to your shoddy response), and further bolsters the notion that religion compels nice people to do bad things.

      You can get your jollies by calling me names, but that just shows how deeply un-christ-like you christians can be when challenged to defend your claims of historicity. I ask for evidence and you got nothing but the god-in-the-gaps arguments, which in the case of thinly sourced ancient history, is intellectually indefensible. Oh, and you consider references to cranks evidence. A crank with a nice degree is still a crank. I heard Wright say indefensible things. I’m not gullible, thanks. If you have an argument to make, make it. It’s lazy to just say, go read X. As I said, I’m familiar with the source material and quite familiar with the debate as to the authenticity and historicity. You turn uncertainty into certainty, as Jesus supposedly turned water to wine. Miraculous indeed.

  25. cornelll Says:

    Ummm no if you directed me to a prominent atheist in the field of Bible scholarship I’d use the principle of charity on him or her just because they are well respected and I like hearing what the BEST from the other side has to offer. So don’t try and tell me what I would or wouldn’t you dishonest ignoramus. You are not a skeptic, and your cocky attitude towards people you disagree with is why you just look like someone with a lot of bias. Try learning about mutual respect ty

  26. cornelll Says:

    Do me a favor you ignorant layman, take all of academia with respect to NT scholarship, find me experts that think NT Wright is gullibke garbage then match them up with experts who think he is good at what he does. Go ahead you ignorant layman, match your opinions with the professionals and let me know why I should take the word of some nobody like yourself over scholars in the field that you are crying about. This is a downfall of the internet IMO, because it’s when no name scrubs like yourself actually think their opinion is meaningful to what reality really is in academia.

    I hate to break it to you but NT Wright would run circles around you in scholarship. When you can snap back to reality and realize that there is a reason for Wright’s success let me know, otherwise keep waving those ignorant pom poms!

  27. cornelll Says:

    What the heck are you talking about when you say I lied to your face twice? My first comment on this thread was the one about NT Wright you abject ignoramus….

    I never said anything about Josephus either, or about most of what you said so that’s a strawman on your part.

  28. David Says:

    After so many exchanges with apologianick, I didn’t realize that you started writing. Apologies for confusing you with someone else.

  29. David Says:

    Obviously you like credentials. So do I. After hearing him speak I saw enough sloppy thinking to know that he is not worth my time. There are young-earthers with fancy credentials too. I don’t stop at credentials. I look for coherent thinking.

  30. cornelll Says:

    Young earthers is a bad analogy. No one takes young earthers seriously in science in the way NT Wright is taken seriously in NT scholarship.

    Therefore judging by his credentials (as I don’t know why having great credentials gimps his relevance as an expert on the subject) NT Wright is a heavy hitter whether you like him or not, and he isn’t just some scrub off the street that is gullible, because if he was then I don’t see why he would be so successful.

  31. apologianick Says:

    Cornell, you make an excellent point about how Wright is taken by his opponents and how many scholars interact with him and looking at his CV. Let’s take a look at what David said early on in this dialogue. You can do a search to find where he said this:

    David: You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.

    Well I did a search at SBL and typed in “Richard Carrier”

    What did I get?

    This

    http://www.sbl-site.org/searchresults.aspx?cx=012028072752611992285%3A7gzu507oe6k&cof=FORID%3A10%3BNB%3A1&ie=UTF-8&q=%22Richard+Carrier%22

    NO RESULTS.

    Any atheist should be embarrassed to cite Carrier. Give it a few years and most of them will be thoroughly embarrassed by it. Give it a few years and Carrier will be embarrassed by what he’s published thus far.

    Also, if I am told an atheistic Bible scholar to read, I will go out and read them and read the best works by them, the ones published by academic publishing houses.

    And as for the supposed unChristlikeness, I think David really means unlike an American Jesus. That’s fine. I prefer the Biblical Jesus anyway. It’s more of this Americentrism saying our time and culture is superior.

    • David Says:

      As I said, I’m all about substance. You guys apparently only care about credentials. I put a premium on substance, and less weight on credentials. Wright (I’ve subsequently read several papers by him at the website I link to below) assumes too much. Over and over he claims that it is impossible for the first christians to have arrived at their theology absent miracles. That’s nonsense, no matter the fancy degrees. One cannot prove that nobody could have thought X, especially when we are talking about people who lived 2000 years ago who left little or no writing! That’s poppycock, and I’m sorry you are unable to admit it. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, people throughout history and to this very day come up with the wildest stories, legends, theologies. It’s wishful thinking, special pleading, and modern bigotry to pretend the same forces couldn’t motivate the first christians. There’s just a huge data vacuum for the time, and the few sources we have are contentious and anonymous.

      Philosophically, the christ narrative is ludicrous on its face. A perfect god, even a pretty smart god, would not resort to polytheism by having a son who will sit up beside papa in heaven. That’s baldly polytheistic, no matter the tortured mess of the trinity that only emerged after a few hundred years of fighting about the incoherent scriptures. The whole notion of sacrifice is primitive and absurd. The idea that the ONLY way god could save us naughty humans was to have a son created to be murdered is entirely consistent with primitive cultures, and entirely inconsistent with the idea of an all-powerful god. the notion that the NT, with no definitive sources, is the best this god could come up with is quite revealing. Luke, the one NT author who at least tries to come across as a historian, is quite shoddy compared to real historians of his time. He never, for example, explains the nature of his sources; never indicates conflicting reports, never tells when or why he borrows from Mark, never explains why he deviates from Mark, never even tells us about himself; never names a single source; never indicates which data came from rumors, which from eyewitnesses. All things that a good historian of his time did. And that’s your best source??! An omnipotent god couldn’t even get a good historian?? An omnipotent god couldn’t even write down what he said so we could be certain (or at least more certain) that we have an accurate account of what he told us? Oh my, now I see why I get insulted for pointing out how thin your evidence is- it’s an embarrassment!

      So yes, I don’t care about credentials when I’ve investigated the guy and can see for myself what counts as sophisticated apologetics. It’s an embarrassment, and now your child-like resorts to insults make perfect sense.
      http://ntwrightpage.com/

  32. apologianick Says:

    David: As I said, I’m all about substance. You guys apparently only care about credentials.

    Reply: Not at all, but let us consider two people.

    One person has the CV of N.T. Wright and is recognized the world over by scholars of all persuasion.

    One person shows up at a blog citing only Richard Carrier.

    All things being equal, whose opinion should I take more seriously?

    David: I put a premium on substance, and less weight on credentials. Wright (I’ve subsequently read several papers by him at the website I link to below) assumes too much. Over and over he claims that it is impossible for the first christians to have arrived at their theology absent miracles. That’s nonsense, no matter the fancy degrees.

    Reply: There’s something absent from this. Oh yes! Substance!

    David: One cannot prove that nobody could have thought X, especially when we are talking about people who lived 2000 years ago who left little or no writing! That’s poppycock, and I’m sorry you are unable to admit it.

    Reply: You could, you know, actually read his books and demonstrate this. As it stands, you’ve just given a statement of faith. N.T. Wright meanwhile has interacted with the relevant historical material of the time.

    I suppose you think your authority is enough.

    David: As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, people throughout history and to this very day come up with the wildest stories, legends, theologies.

    Reply: Yes, such as the wild story that just anyone can comment with authority on history in the 1st century. Also, the wild theory that certain people have that Jesus never even existed but still are somehow treated as authorities.

    David: It’s wishful thinking, special pleading, and modern bigotry to pretend the same forces couldn’t motivate the first christians. There’s just a huge data vacuum for the time, and the few sources we have are contentious and anonymous.

    Reply: Actually, no. For instance, we know the Dead Sea Scrolls are by the Essenes. For the NT books, I guarantee you that Wright has his arguments as to why he thinks someone wrote a book and it’s not just a faith position. If you read any good commentary on any book of the NT, it will give you the reasons pro and con.

    David: Philosophically, the christ narrative is ludicrous on its face. A perfect god, even a pretty smart god, would not resort to polytheism by having a son who will sit up beside papa in heaven.

    Reply: Gotta love the literalistic interpretation. I’m sure also that David goes around saying that the problem with young-earthers is that they take the Bible literally.

    David: That’s baldly polytheistic, no matter the tortured mess of the trinity that only emerged after a few hundred years of fighting about the incoherent scriptures.

    Reply: No. The whole concept had all the seeds right there. It was well rooted in second temple Judaism. Perhaps you should consider what Philo said about the logos or consider how Wisdom was treated in works like the Wisdom of Solomon.

    David: The whole notion of sacrifice is primitive and absurd. The idea that the ONLY way god could save us naughty humans was to have a son created to be murdered is entirely consistent with primitive cultures, and entirely inconsistent with the idea of an all-powerful god.

    Reply: no argument. I guess I just have to take it on faith!

    David: the notion that the NT, with no definitive sources, is the best this god could come up with is quite revealing.

    Reply: Seems to have worked great so far. Let’s see, did you ever give a methodology to establish authorship of a document, or do you just make assertions about who wrote a document without doing proper research into it?

    David: Luke, the one NT author who at least tries to come across as a historian, is quite shoddy compared to real historians of his time. He never, for example, explains the nature of his sources; never indicates conflicting reports, never tells when or why he borrows from Mark, never explains why he deviates from Mark, never even tells us about himself; never names a single source; never indicates which data came from rumors, which from eyewitnesses. All things that a good historian of his time did. And that’s your best source??!

    Reply: Perhaps you could give some examples of this in the histories of the time. Perhaps also again you could interact with Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.” Then again, reading scholarship you disagree with might be too dangerous.

    David: An omnipotent god couldn’t even get a good historian??

    Reply: Add in reading Colin Hemer’s book on Acts to the mix.

    David: An omnipotent god couldn’t even write down what he said so we could be certain (or at least more certain) that we have an accurate account of what he told us? Oh my, now I see why I get insulted for pointing out how thin your evidence is- it’s an embarrassment!

    Reply: No. You get what you get because your position is ignorant of the ancient world. Writing was not seen as a valuable medium of communication. The oral tradition was much more valuable. Note also however that Crossley dates Mark to around possibly 42 A.D. That is far earlier than other ancient histories.

    David: So yes, I don’t care about credentials when I’ve investigated the guy and can see for myself what counts as sophisticated apologetics. It’s an embarrassment, and now your child-like resorts to insults make perfect sense.
    http://ntwrightpage.com/

    Reply: It’d be nice to see David actually try to write a review of Wright’s work using other scholarly sources.

    Well, it’d be nice if he’d actually read any….

    • David Says:

      You seem obsessed with credentials. You haven’t presented any argument that defends your position that Carrier is any more of a hack than Wright. For you, it’s a popularity contest- for me, it’s about the strength of argument. If you are obsessed with Carrier and insist on bringing him up (his arguments must really threaten you to provoke such hatred!), present actual arguments that show your case- it would be actually interesting if you cited hims on the things we’ve debated here, such as the resurrection- show me why he’s unreliable. My only exposure to Carrier was a 2-hour debate between him and WLC; I had read some of Craig before, so I was curious how he interacted with push-back. Very consistent with what I’ve seen here- nothing but smoke and mirrors to distract from the thin case upon which christianity lies (pun not intended), and an unwillingness to admit the limits and provisional nature of thinly-sourced historical knowledge.

      And yes, god made a rookie mistake by not having contemporary sources document all the amazing things that happened. But he made an even dumber move by not doing this after televsion was invented, but before CGI effects became realistic. Didn’t think of that! Doh! Nah, just do the miracles in one little provincial hick-town. If the message was so vitally important, why not share this fantastic, good news?! Really, 1,400 years before the discovery of the western hemisphere? Great plan, god! that’s brilliant! and don’t leave any solid evidence of your amazing miraces- just demonstrably flawed accounts written decades after the events- and make sure no established, influential, literate, and reliable historian gets this news; at least, not until decades have passed after the miraculous flying up into the clouds. Pure genius. but N.T. Wright says it’s true so there’s no imaginable way humans then could have acted like humans everywhere and created a religion the way they always have and continue to do… impossible!

  33. cornelll Says:

    “You seem obsessed with credentials. You haven’t presented any argument that defends your position that Carrier is any more of a hack than Wright.”

    Carrier needs to publish some works in scholarship, he needs to make a name for himself in ACADEMIA instead of layman internet folk like yourself so it is YOU who is gullible here.

    Tell your boy to put his money where his mouth is IMO

    “My only exposure to Carrier was a 2-hour debate between him and WLC; I had read some of Craig before, so I was curious how he interacted with push-bac”

    Oh you mean that debate in which Carrier admitted defeat and complained about the way Craig debated? SO what was that about SUBSTANCE again? My God you are bias!

    http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2009/03/craig-debate-wrap.html

    “As I said, I’m all about substance. You guys apparently only care about credentials. I put a premium on substance, and less weight on credentials. Wright (I’ve subsequently read several papers by him at the website I link to below) assumes too much. Over and over he claims that it is impossible for the first christians to have arrived at their theology absent miracles.”

    I’m calling BS, how about you give a quote from NT Wright and we will discuss it.

    “An omnipotent god couldn’t even get a good historian?? ”

    Define omnipotence, I’m going to laugh if you use a Bible-Belt fundy definition or a fluffy bunny Christianity definition.

    I’m going to give you some push back now, so lets see how you do Mr. Skeptic!

    • David Says:

      I already specifically listed an objection to Wright. sorry you can’t read well. You’ve posted nothing that demonstrates carrier is any more of a hack than wright. Carrier said he perhaps lost the debate on style, not substance. I don’t judge it by style- I actually watch and take careful note of the back-and-forth. When Carrier refuted points, WLC would simply repeat them without refuting carrier’s rebuttal! That’s shoddy thinking and perfectly in line with the exchange here.
      cornell, obviously you are upset that your perfect omnipotent (i’m sorry you don’t know the word- just type in the word in google and then read the definition- you can do it!) god is demonstrably incompetent. Can’t even offer proof of the miracles of his son/himself. whatever. You’re just another small, thin-skinned, simple-minded christian who hates people exposing the silliness of your beliefs.

      let’s be clear- the guys claiming zombies arose from the graves, magic heroes floating up in the air like superman, stopping the sun for three hours- yeah, those guys are the ones who need a massive boatload of evidence to support such wild claims. What do we get instead? Just contested accounts by anonymous authors DECADES after these amazing events. Hmmmm, if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck…
      the burden’s on you- put up or shut up. prove your miracles. you can’t, so you just insult. of course, you could just be quiet, but then pride compels you to defend your faith, even when you lack evidence! Just more insults and shoddy non sequitors… hilarious! Keep it up, smart guy.

  34. apologianick Says:

    David: You seem obsessed with credentials. You haven’t presented any argument that defends your position that Carrier is any more of a hack than Wright.

    Reply: Yes. Obviously numerous peer-reviewed papers and being recognized by authorities in the field worldwide from all camps and being published by academic publishing houses and having his education is no reason to think otherwise!

    David: For you, it’s a popularity contest- for me, it’s about the strength of argument.

    Reply: And we all know the best way to evaluate an argument is to watch it on YouTube! It’d be horrible to actually read the book.

    David: If you are obsessed with Carrier and insist on bringing him up (his arguments must really threaten you to provoke such hatred!),

    Reply: Yep. That has to be it. Then I guess the Bible must have great arguments that really threaten you since you rail so much against it. In fact, Cornell and I must have great arguments that threaten you since you’re doing the same thing here. Wow! Armchair psychology is fun!

    David: present actual arguments that show your case-

    Reply: You mean aside from the zero publications in SBL? Okay. Here’s something I wrote for another group elsewhere that’s just a start.

    I’d like to see in light of this which I consider outright dishonest why someone should consider Carrier a reliable source, on top of the fact that he gets the basic facts of Herodotus wrong.

    Look. Carrier is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

    Here, Carrier talks about Caesar crossing the Rubicon. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/rubicon.html

    This is Carrier’s statement:

    “Fourth, we have the story of the “Rubicon Crossing” in almost every historian of the period, including the most prominent scholars of the age: Suetonius, Appian, Cassius Dio, Plutarch.”

    Every historian of the period? Well Carrier responds to a claim that Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 B.C. Let’s take that date. If it’s not then, it’s close.

    Let’s look at the dates of when these other writers lived.

    Suetonius – Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c.71-c.135): Roman scholar and official, best-known as the author of the Lives of the Twelve Caesars.

    http://www.livius.org/su-sz/suetonius/suetonius.html

    Appian http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/appian/appian.html

    Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165): one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians, author of a Roman History. The part on the Civil Wars survives.

    Appian is even later!

    Dio – Cassius Dio (164-c.235): Roman senator of Greek descent, historian, author of a very important Roman History.

    http://www.livius.org/cao-caz/cassius/cassius_dio.html

    Cassius Dio wrote in the third century! This is around 250 years later!

    http://www.livius.org/pi-pm/plutarch/plutarch.htm

    Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.122): influential Greek philosopher and author, well known for his biographies and his moral treatises.

    Plutarch wrote largely in the second century!

    Carrier says every historian of the age wrote about what happened, but the historians he cites are greater than the distance between, say, Tacitus and Jesus. To make the claim that historians of the age wrote about what Caesar did when the ones he wrote about are around 150-250 years later is outright dishonest. He is betting you will never look up that fact, and I’m sure you never have.

    Meanwhile, here also is a show I did on the very topic of Carrier with someone who has researched him very well. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/grok558/2013/07/27/deeper-waters-messing-with-mythicists

    Keep in mind also Carrier promotes the idea that Jesus never even existed. It is for this reason Carrier will never have a teaching job anywhere. This idea will never get past peer-review. It’s on par with people who say the holocaust never happened. It is as big a joke in historical studies as flat earth thinking is to geologists.

    David: it would be actually interesting if you cited hims on the things we’ve debated here, such as the resurrection- show me why he’s unreliable.

    Reply: Done above. I’m also going through his book “Sense and Goodness Without God” and will be writing a review of it here. You see, I happen to think it’s important to read books.

    David: My only exposure to Carrier was a 2-hour debate between him and WLC;

    Reply: So let me get this straight. You had never heard of Wright before as indicated by your having to look up his arguments and even getting his name wrong, but you decided immediately that Carrier would answer him sufficiently based on only watching one debate?

    First-rate research right there.

    David: I had read some of Craig before, so I was curious how he interacted with push-back. Very consistent with what I’ve seen here- nothing but smoke and mirrors to distract from the thin case upon which christianity lies (pun not intended), and an unwillingness to admit the limits and provisional nature of thinly-sourced historical knowledge.

    Reply: No examples given. Just a statement of faith.

    David: And yes, god made a rookie mistake by not having contemporary sources document all the amazing things that happened.

    Reply: Oh please. I have made the argument that the gospels are contemporary accounts and those are disregarded. Keener’s reports of Miracles are contemporary accounts and you disregard those. If Crossley’s hypothesis is right and Mark is dated to 42 A.D., I see no reason why you’d accept it still. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 dates to within five years of the event and you don’t accept it.

    Meanwhile, how many contemporaries wrote about Mt. Vesuvius erupting in 79 A.D. and destroying two major cities and killing a quarter of a million people?

    It’s this silly Americentrism that says “We today in America value the written word the most! God should have written everything for us then because everything about our culture is obviously superior!”

    David: But he made an even dumber move by not doing this after televsion was invented, but before CGI effects became realistic. Didn’t think of that! Doh!

    Reply: Yeah. Because we know never in the history of television has something been able to be shown that wasn’t made up! That would convince everyone!

    David: Nah, just do the miracles in one little provincial hick-town. If the message was so vitally important, why not share this fantastic, good news?!

    Reply: They did. You’re discussing this good news that failed to be sent supposedly 2,000 years later in another culture, place, and language. This news has reached the majority of the world and the majority of the world believes it.

    David: Really, 1,400 years before the discovery of the western hemisphere?

    Reply: Because all of civilization revolves around the Western Hemisphere!

    David: Great plan, god! that’s brilliant! and don’t leave any solid evidence of your amazing miraces- just demonstrably flawed accounts written decades after the events-

    Reply: And what evidence would you like? Could you somehow test a piece of bread to see if it was multiplied? Would you like to have had a drop of wine preserved?

    David: and make sure no established, influential, literate, and reliable historian gets this news; at least, not until decades have passed after the miraculous flying up into the clouds.

    Reply: Gutenberg Galaxy again. Try to have a little bit less ignorance of the ancient society.

    David: Pure genius. but N.T. Wright says it’s true so there’s no imaginable way humans then could have acted like humans everywhere and created a religion the way they always have and continue to do… impossible!

    Reply: But Carrier has answered him and I know this because I watched one debate with him and I didn’t bother looking up any of his other positions but I know he has to be true because he agrees with my presuppositions, even though Wright is the one that is respected by all sides of Christian scholarship, is peer-reviewed, is published by academic publishers, and has extensive footnotes and bibliographies in each of his works!

    Thank God for Richard Carrier. No one is doing more to lower atheism today than he is!

  35. David Says:

    thanks for responding. you can’t prove a negative. yet your (and wright’s and the other hacks) entire case depends on insisting that ancient palestinians could not have thought of christianity any other way but through miracle. that’s a huge claim that is impossible to back up, even if you had multiple, reliable sources. you don’t, so you dissemble.
    Thanks for finally providing examples of carrier. as i said, it would have been relevant to cite him on the specifics we’re speaking about, but at least you finally offered evidence for SOMETHING! Fortunately for me, he is not my representative, nor do any arguments i’ve made here depend on him being infallible. i am not a fan-boy, the way you are with Wright and Keener.
    You’ve made no argument that gospels are contemporary accounts (yet you’ve repeatedly cited someone saying one was written in the 40s…). You’ve merely made the assertion. I’m sorry you can’t tell the difference.
    what you cannot do however, is prove your extraordinary claim that absent the gospel miracles, christianity wouldn’t have been invented. as i said, smoke and mirrors. people do wild and crazy things, and it’s modern bigotry to assume palestinians weren’t as inventive as anyone else.

    uh, yes, great defense of god’s masterplan vis-a-vis written history! “But writing wasn’t so big back then!” right. the omnipotent god probably would know that 2000 years later, ancient writings are the best thing we have.
    Cite one example of clearly documented hoaxes from 1900-1940 that were filmed with multiple cameras by independent media organizations. You won’t because you cannot. so yes, a moderately intelligent god would definitely do better than leaving his amazing revelation in the hands of illiterate peasants in the iron age. Brilliant, you smart god! and yes, we talk about it now just like we talk about buddhism now (you really like irrelevant detours). but if jesus had such good news, only sheer stupidity would overlook the fact that sharing the news at that time wouldn’t spread across the world for another 15 freaking centuries! That’s crazy stupid. If the news was so great and urgent, he simply would have either it looks like what it is- a provincial religion filled with the usual myths, or an inexcusably incompetent god who is definitely not worthy of worship. and we’re not even going to mention other obvious holes in this story. those suffice to show the whole christian notion is founded on half-baked incoherent compilations of competing sects. a pure man-made invention. not a single thing written 2000 years ago shows signs of supernaturally-gifted intelligence. just typical human yearning for meaning.
    While we’re at it, care to explain how jeebus is gonna sit on the right hand of himself in heaven? care to explain how the tripartite god can hide knowledge from himself, as jesus claimed that only the father knew certain things? a smart god would not have used the language of neighboring polytheists to unfold his plan. that’s not smart! that’s dumb. pagan gods have sons. the unmoved mover, nope. that’s nonsense and obvious syncretism.
    a smart competent god would not have to have a new message for his people- and don’t start with the nonsensical “well, they weren’t ready for it” bigotry. there were plenty of smart peoples and cultures centuries before christianity. as smart as we are. modern bigotry again!
    a smart competent god would not be stuck with old ideas about male-descendants- hence there would be no silly talk about the lineage of david. of course, a smart god would not have asserted such in a patrilineal society, since jesus allegedly wasn’t even the son of joseph! oops, more proof of cobbled-together nature of this religion.

    the evidence is clear- christianity is simply one of the hundreds of man-created religions. all the hall-marks are there. only the blind can’t see.

  36. David Says:

    [i don’t know how to edit here, so i’m going to complete a sentence above that i didn’t complete]
    “If the news was so great and urgent, he simply would…
    …have appeared to everybody. that way, everybody would, you know, get the message. Or at least have one appearance among different populations. Did god forget how isolated different populations were? did god forget that the western hemisphere would remain undiscovered for the next 1200+ years? Or was his message really not so important? Hmm, it looks EXACTLY what we would expect from a parochial man-made religion. a true religion? not remotely.

    you make the extraordinary claims, yet you offer the weakest evidence. It obviously causes you great distress to realize that I don’t even have to present evidence for my side- because I’m not making the extraordinary claims. My claim is people are people. Cultures produce hugely varying religions. You want to go a thousand steps beyond and claim that just one of those hundreds of religions is actually true, as are the concomitant wild miracle claims. Yet you have no wildly persuasive evidence. Just well-credentialed apologists who claim people in the past couldn’t act like everybody else and make stuff up. Which is stupid on its face because we don’t even have any solid uncontested biographical details on most (and certainly not all) of the people involved! Burden’s on you, sorry but that’s simply the way logic works! You sputter, but ancient history is full of inconclusive accounts! I reply (again) that that is precisely why we treat ancient miracle claims with skepticism… everybody except the fervently religious who actually believe ancient legends of people rising from the dead and flying into space. sigh.

  37. apologianick Says:

    David: thanks for responding. you can’t prove a negative.

    Reply: Actually, this is quite simply a bogus statement. Let’s consider the claim.

    A negative cannot be proven.

    Has this been proven? If it has been proven, then the negative that a negative cannot be proven has in fact been proven, thus refuting itself.

    If it has not been proven, then why are we making an absolute statement over what has not been proven? If it is not proven, then it should at least be considered possible that a negative could be proven and therefore should not make a statement that you cannot prove a negative.

    David:yet your (and wright’s and the other hacks) entire case depends on insisting that ancient palestinians could not have thought of christianity any other way but through miracle.

    Reply: Actually, no. My claim is that this is not what they would have invented. If this makes N.T. Wright a hack (Try getting the world of NT scholarship to buy into that one!) then it also makes Bart Ehrman a hack since he says the exact same thing.

    “Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal. Indeed, the apostle Paul calls it the chief “stumbling block” for Jews (1 Cor. 1:23). Where did the tradition come from? It must have actually happened. (Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition. pages 221-222)”

    This is not a fringe opinion. This is accepted across the board. Crucifixion is not something that would be made up since it is regarded as shameful entirely by the ancient world and was designed for that very purpose. A growing movement would want to avoid shame as much as possible.

    David: that’s a huge claim that is impossible to back up,

    Reply: This is a negative statement. Per your earlier claim, you cannot prove a negative, therefore you have given me a claim that cannot be proven and treated it as authoritative.

    David: even if you had multiple, reliable sources. you don’t, so you dissemble.

    Reply: Actually, we do. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 is early and the authentic Pauline epistles all speak about the resurrection. I’ll also show the gospels are early.

    David: Thanks for finally providing examples of carrier. as i said, it would have been relevant to cite him on the specifics we’re speaking about, but at least you finally offered evidence for SOMETHING! Fortunately for me, he is not my representative,

    Reply: But yes he is. As you said earlier.

    “You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.”

    You did not cite any arguments of Carrier. You did not give any book he has written or any paper. You just said his name. In other words, one champion against another. So yes, he was your representative. Now if he is not, feel free to give a NT scholar who you think has validity. If you cannot, then perhaps you should not be speaking on the nature of the NT without having scholarship.

    David: nor do any arguments i’ve made here depend on him being infallible.

    Reply: But he is the only one you have mentioned. If not him, then who else? If it is just your opinion without scholarly backing, well why should I care?

    David: i am not a fan-boy, the way you are with Wright and Keener.

    Reply: Well actually, I happen to be a fan of NT scholarship that is rigorous and peer-reviewed. I have presented Keener’s work “Miracles” and you have offered no response whatsoever. I suppose it is asking too much of you to actually read a book on a topic you want to argue. It’s much better to argue topics you have not read about obviously.

    Alas, I am sure you will disregard, but here are just ten examples of miracles Keener shows. There are hundreds more where these come from.

    “1. “a sudden disappearance of a child’s massive brain tumor after prayer, before any medical treatment could begin.” The tumor covered almost one-fourth of the girl’s brain, with MRI confirmation from both before and after (vol. 1, 428).

    2. An eight-year-old boy had two holes in his heart, a condition that also impaired his lungs. After prayer he was taken to surgery. But before and after tests showed that the holes that were there the previous day had now been healed. He did not need surgery and was cleared to play baseball just two days later (vol. 1, 431-432)!
    3. A physician related that a patient was “immediately cured from metastasized breast cancer after prayer” including before and after medical evidence (vol. 1, 435).

    4. Another physician confirmed that a woman with tuberculosis was healed after prayer. The physician could confirm that her cure was permanent, because they were later married and spent the rest of their lives together (vol. 1, 435)!

    5. While away from home at a Christian retreat, a man broke his ankle badly, and went to a hospital, where an orthopedist set the ankle in a cast. Upon arriving home the next day, several states away, he was sent by another physician to another hospital for X-rays. After studying them, the physician informed the man that his ankle was never broken, as indicated by the lack of a break or even tissue damage where the break had been. But the earlier X-rays were ordered and clearly confirmed the break. A set of the radiology reports were also sent to the author, Craig Keener (vol. 1, 440).

    6. A hospital physician reported watching as a ten-year-old girl’s club foot “straightened before my very eyes” while the girl was being prayed for (vol. 1, 463).

    7. A woman’s spleen was removed by surgery but when she was later examined, she had another spleen in its place (vol. 1, 491)!

    8. A baby was born without hip sockets or a ball at the end of her bone. It was determined that she would need a cast throughout her life. But the church prayed and, when she was examined again before being placed in the cast, contrary to the earlier X-rays, she now had both hip sockets and the ball at the end of the bone (vol. 1, 503).

    9. Forty physicians confirmed the specific case of a cure from Lourdes, France “of a medically incurable, quadriplegic postencephalitic idiot—a child who went from complete insensibility and lack of control to intelligent normalcy” (vol. 2, 680)!

    10. In another case, cancer had spread and the patient was given up by physicians, but was cured instantly with damaged organs reforming (vol. 2, 682, note 206).”

    David: You’ve made no argument that gospels are contemporary accounts (yet you’ve repeatedly cited someone saying one was written in the 40s…). You’ve merely made the assertion. I’m sorry you can’t tell the difference.

    Reply: Actually, citing the works of leading scholars is evidence. Wise people generally seek to go out and read such a view so they can learn if they are wrong or not. Still, since you are too lazy to read Bauckham on your own, then here are some points.

    First off, the names in the gospels. Bauckham shows that the names in the gospels fit the 1st century period in Palestine by comparing the other sources that we have and noticing that the distribution of names in the gospels is parallel to the distribution of names in other sources at the time. This is not a point a later writer would be able to duplicate so easily. More extensive information on this is found in Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”

    Second point to consider is that no one doubts that Acts is part two of the gospel of Luke. I see no reason also to think it is a different author. Acts has been shown to be highly meticulous in its accuracy with places, names, times, etc. Yet interesting about Acts is how it ends.

    There is no mention of the death of James in the 60’s. There is no mention of the death of Paul. There is no mention of the 70 A.D. war. There is no mention of the destruction of the temple?

    Why? The best reason would be these had not happened yet.

    If Acts is before those, then Luke is even earlier.

    If Luke is even earlier, then his sources, Matthew and Mark, are also earlier.

    Note also that the main reason for skepticism on the gospels is that they narrate well the destruction of Jerusalem, but this first off assumes that predictive prophecy cannot take place. Literary study cannot tell you that. Second, had it already happened, the writers would have had embarrassing claims in there that could have been easily misunderstood, such as the idea that Jesus would return at that time, though I do not think Jesus said that at all.

    In John 5, we have a description of a pool with porticoes around it. Dan Wallace, a conservative scholar and an expert on the Greek language writing books on how to teach Greek, has said that the language in John 5 indicates that the porticoes are at the time still standing, which they would not have been had Jerusalem been destroyed by then.

    Every account treats the temple as a present reality and does not mention its destruction as past. Not only would I say all of the gospels are 1st century documents, I think a case could be made that all of the NT is pre-70 A.D.

    Note also that we have manuscript evidence from the second century definitely placing the gospels earlier than that. If the manuscript of Mark is 1st century, that seals the deal. Crossley’s case is also worth looking at.

    David: what you cannot do however, is prove your extraordinary claim that absent the gospel miracles, christianity wouldn’t have been invented.

    Reply: You are saying that I cannot prove this negative claim, yet you are stating it as proven that this negative claim cannot be proven, again a contradiction of your opening remark.

    Actually, I think such a case can be made and has been made. Christianity had beliefs about it fundamentally that were shameful. A scholarly look at this can be found in David Instone-Brewer’s “The Jesus Scandals.” Top on the list would be a crucified Messiah. Anyone wanting to teach Jesus as Messiah would remove crucifixion. Crucifixion would seal the deal against Messiahship unless Jesus had been vindicated somehow, and the church chose the strongest route and the one that would be the least believable and most prone to disproof. They risked everything on that route. Why? Why would Paul and James convert as well? Where is the literature showing group hallucinations?

    David: as i said, smoke and mirrors. people do wild and crazy things, and it’s modern bigotry to assume palestinians weren’t as inventive as anyone else.

    Reply: To say they would not have invented this does not mean that they were not inventive. It just means that this is not the kind of thing they would invent.

    David: uh, yes, great defense of god’s masterplan vis-a-vis written history! “But writing wasn’t so big back then!” right. the omnipotent god probably would know that 2000 years later, ancient writings are the best thing we have.

    Reply: Oh it’s a statement of fact that writing wasn’t popular back then. Before the message can reach today, it has to reach then, and had it not reached then, what evidence is there the advance would get to our technology today? Technology was not exactly rapidly advancing and it didn’t until Christianity became foundational. (See “God’s Philosophers” by James Hannam. If you’re too lazy for that again, you can listen to my interview of him here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/grok558/2013/06/08/lighting-up-dark-ages-science)

    Another great source that shows the medieval period was a time of heightened advancement in science and technology is Tim O’Neill who can be found here:

    http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    Particularly amusing are some comments he makes about Carrier who holds to the Dark Ages myth.

    “As I note in my review of Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind or in my article on the movie Agora, non-“religionists” are just as capable of allowing their biases and beliefs to warp the analysis of history. That’s why I hope to write an article soon on the atheist pseudo historian Richard Carrier, who poses as an objective historian but is actually just another polemicist whose biases cause him to present a skewed and therefore inaccurate view of history.”

    “Several other amateurs and hobbyists, like Richard Carrier and R.G. Price, propose or support similar ideas, with several of them pushing this thesis at secptics’ conventions, in atheist gatherings and on atheistic and humanist online fora.” (On the Christ-myth hypothesis)

    David: Cite one example of clearly documented hoaxes from 1900-1940 that were filmed with multiple cameras by independent media organizations. You won’t because you cannot.

    Reply; Actually, I won’t because I haven’t really bothered to look for it. I just know that things can be just as much faked today and in fact, just as much disbelieved.

    David: so yes, a moderately intelligent god would definitely do better than leaving his amazing revelation in the hands of illiterate peasants in the iron age.

    Reply: There’s that bigotry. Who cares if they were illiterate? It does not mean that they were fools.

    David: Brilliant, you smart god! and yes, we talk about it now just like we talk about buddhism now (you really like irrelevant detours).

    Reply: Yes, and the historical information we have on Jesus is far far better than that that we have on Buddha.

    David: but if jesus had such good news, only sheer stupidity would overlook the fact that sharing the news at that time wouldn’t spread across the world for another 15 freaking centuries!

    Reply: Are you serious? It spread across the world immediately. Within a generation it had covered the Roman Empire. Sounds like pretty good success. Note also that either way, this does not show that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

    And again, you are behind on the times.I wrote about this several months ago. https://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/a-response-to-the-argument-from-locality/

    It’s amusing you actually think this is something no one has ever thought of.

    David: That’s crazy stupid. If the news was so great and urgent, he simply would have either it looks like what it is- a provincial religion filled with the usual myths, or an inexcusably incompetent god who is definitely not worthy of worship.

    Reply: Why should I think God would do what you are wanting? Do you have a theological argument to back that or is it a statement of faith?

    David: and we’re not even going to mention other obvious holes in this story. those suffice to show the whole christian notion is founded on half-baked incoherent compilations of competing sects. a pure man-made invention. not a single thing written 2000 years ago shows signs of supernaturally-gifted intelligence. just typical human yearning for meaning.

    Reply; Again, why should things have been written? Why should it be that the standards of 21st century Americans are the ones that should be appealed to the most?

    David: While we’re at it, care to explain how jeebus is gonna sit on the right hand of himself in heaven?

    Reply: He’s not. He sits at the right hand of the Father, which is not literal anyway. It’s a metaphor which means He is in the place of ruling. Again, you have the same mindset you had as a Christian. You interpret the text the same way. You believe authorities the same way. You have all or nothing thinking the same way. It’s only the allegiance that differs.

    David: care to explain how the tripartite god can hide knowledge from himself, as jesus claimed that only the father knew certain things?

    Reply: Yes. Jesus as God’s Wisdom willingly limited Himself and took on a role that He would only know things in His humanity that were relevant to the divine plan.

    David: a smart god would not have used the language of neighboring polytheists to unfold his plan. that’s not smart! that’s dumb.

    Reply: He didn’t. He used Jewish language and Second Temple Judaism. This is something that’s been pointed out more and more in the third quest for the historical Jesus.

    David: pagan gods have sons. the unmoved mover, nope. that’s nonsense and obvious syncretism.

    Reply: The NT nowhere makes the argument of the unmoved mover, though I hold to it because it is true. Note the OT speaks of the language of the Son of God as well, meaning it is a thoroughly Jewish idea.

    But pagans talked about gods having sons!

    Pagans also had families and raised children! So did Jews! Obvious copycatting!

    David: a smart competent god would not have to have a new message for his people- and don’t start with the nonsensical “well, they weren’t ready for it” bigotry.

    Reply: Any message not known would be new and in fact, the working of this was set in place thousands of years ago. It’s not as if Jesus just showed up in a vacuum and that could happen anywhere. Personally, I think it’s a mark of God’s brilliance that He did not use the geniuses, but chose the people despised and rejected in the world, which seems to be His modus operandi.

    David: there were plenty of smart peoples and cultures centuries before christianity. as smart as we are. modern bigotry again!

    Reply: I assume there’s a point to this?

    David: a smart competent god would not be stuck with old ideas about male-descendants- hence there would be no silly talk about the lineage of david.

    Reply: Any argument for this?

    David: of course, a smart god would not have asserted such in a patrilineal society, since jesus allegedly wasn’t even the son of joseph! oops, more proof of cobbled-together nature of this religion.

    Reply: Hmmm. You seem to assert that God would not use a society that held to a kind of paternal descent. Do you have an argument for that or is it just God would not do something you don’t like?

    David: the evidence is clear- christianity is simply one of the hundreds of man-created religions. all the hall-marks are there. only the blind can’t see.

    Reply: The evidence of scholarship is clear. Only the lazy will not read and learn. They’re too busy critiquing people based on YouTube videos.

  38. apologianick Says:

    Actually, no. I just offer the crucifixion as the key example. It would not have been made up and it would spell the death knell to any spreading of the gospel unless there was a basis for thinking Jesus had been vindicated.

  39. Michel Says:

    Hi there,

    David bears all the marks of a true fundamentalist:

    – the reference to Jesus as a Zombie for example:”let’s be clear- the guys claiming zombies arose from the graves, magic heroes floating up in the air like superman,[…]” so the only thing that is missing is the flying spaghetti monster.

    – “You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.” No person who is able to think critically would ever answer with a guy who uses blue butt monkeys as an analogy to prove that God doesn´t exist. So even the bare fact that he mentions Carrier should ring the alarm.

    – his repetitive lines like: “To summarize, you make extravagant claims without evidence.”
    “You have no proof of the resurrection”
    “So yes, you have no evidence for supernatural claims but the gospels.”

    – “I treat all historical documents the same way- the weirder the claim, the more evidence necessary to prove the claim.” = extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence…which ignores other important factores in probability theory.

    – his attitude to respected scholars like Wright: “N.T. Wright is not worth my time. ”

    – his unwillingness to read the other side: “It’s lazy to just say, go read X.”….not it´s not lazy, it´s necessary to understand the issue. It would be like having a discussion with someone about logic who doesn´t even know what a syllogism is.

    – his uncritical acceptance of statements like: ” you can’t prove a negative.” which is typical for internet atheists or fundamentalists.

    – his demand for skepticism: “My contention stands that christians suspend their skepticism when it comes to the miraculous claims of the bible” while not showing any sign of using it himself.

    So, it is wise to follow Davids own advice: “Hmmmm, if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck…”

    If it looks like a fundamentalist, smells like one… If that´s the case then it´s just a waste of time to argue with such a person.

    Just my two cents.

  40. David Says:

    michel, define fundamentalist. disdain is not an argument. prove your case. you’ve presented nothing. If you and apologianick think you have proof that it was impossible for the first christians to do what we’ve seen happen over and over (make up religion), prove it.
    Carrier is not my champion. none of my arguments depend on him. so keep chasing windmills! do whatever you gotta do to tell yourself that flying men and zombies are not absurd mythical inventions.
    do you have any reason to offer why the flying spaghetti monster is not an apt analogy for unprovable assertions? no, i thought not. more insults designed to hide the shoddy underpinnings of your pet myth.

  41. Michel Says:

    “michel, define fundamentalist. ”

    X is a fundamentalist iff:

    (1) he is only critical with other worldviews but not with his own.
    (2) his thinking is superficial,sloppy and uncritical.
    (3) has a misguided self-conception.

    There are more points (for example: is incompetent but thinks he knows what he´s talking about), but I think this points are important enough.

    “Carrier is not my champion. none of my arguments depend on him.”

    Even if I grant you that this is true…the bare fact that you even came up with this guy speaks for itself. “You cite W.T. Wright, I’ll answer with Richard Carrier.” is equivalent to “You cite John Mackie, I´ll answer with Joyce Meyer.” Only the small minded fall prey for persons like Carrier or Dawkins and the like.

    “do you have any reason to offer why the flying spaghetti monster is not an apt analogy for unprovable assertions? no, i thought not.”

    See? You didn´t even understand my point. I used your remarks as evidence for my assumption that you are a fundamentalist because this terminology is often used by people like Dawkins and co (who are fundamentalists imo), and not to argue that it is a bad analogy. So, the reasoning goes like this:

    (1) Group X is much known for using Y
    (2) David uses Y
    Therefore: It is likely that David belongs to Group X.

    But to give not the impression that I commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent, I should better state it this way:

    (1) If X uses the term Y, then it is likely that X belongs to group Z.
    (2) David uses the term Y
    Therefore: It is likely that David belongs to group Z.

    Your remark completely misses the point.

    It´s also funny that you just assume that I´m a christian because everything I said above is consistent with me being a Deist or agnostic etc. In fact, I´m a christian but that is besides the point. I would offer the same criticism to a christian who says something like: “Mackie is not worth my time” or “Atheism=In the beginning there was nothing, then nothing exploded and created everything. Makes perfect sense.” Such persons would of course also reason from this criticism that I must be a non-believer. The fact that you do the same just proves what Nick said above: You changed your worldview but your mentality is still the same.You are still in the desert. So, let´s look at my three points:

    (1) I think that this applies to you but you can prove me wrong: Give an argument against your own position and discuss it.

    (2) I think that your reply alone proves this point, besides everything you posted here.

    (3) You think you are a pretty smart and rational fellow, right?

    But I didn´t follow my own advice and replied to you, although I think it´s a waste of time, therefore this will be my last comment to you.

    • David Says:

      Heehe! as i’ve said 4 times now, carrier isn’t my champion and not a single one of my arguments depend on anything ever wrote or said! way to go, don quixote.
      as I said, and which you have not and cannot refute:
      the burden’s on you- put up or shut up. prove your miracles (referring me to keener is no more valid than me referring you to robert price). but nope. crickets. can’t make any arguments yourself? without your big boys you dont have much to do here, except, of course, tell me your big boys got it all figured out… yu huh. just like the muslim apologist or the mormon apologist- they insist if you only read this book or this book, then you’d see how all those silly things are actually true!
      a referral to NT Wright or any other crank who believes extraordinary things without extraordinary evidence is not sufficient. if you have proof, present it. obviously ya’ll got nothing, which is why you keep waving red herrings like carrier! ha!

      and yes, sorry that my plan is way better than your silly god who took more than 19 centuries to get out his urgent good news to the whole world! great job! it’s gotta hurt when anyone with a middle school education could think of better plans than your almighty god. hence the insults…

    • David Says:

      my epistemology is simple. extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. the NT is full of miraculous claims that are identical or similar in kind to hundreds of other mythical/religious traditions. therefore, it takes extraordinary evidence to support said claims. i fully investigated NT sources. They are insufficient to rule out secular alternatives- i.e. the miracle folk have yet to make a strong case.
      you can call me whatever you like to make you feel better about your kooky beliefs. you can pretend i’m a fundamentalist- which would mean you define it as anyone who doesn’t buy the 2000 year old claims of wild miracles. i call it being judicious and being aware of the limits of historical research. you haven’t presented a single sentence that justifies these ancient claims. pathetic, but completely predictable given the shoddy sources.
      my reasoning stands alone- you have not and cannot prove that early christian humans couldn’t invent stuff the way people have everywhere else…. it’s just not my problem! you make the claim, you back it up. put up or shut up. you seem to want me to make the case. for there NOT being miracles. that’s silly, and i’m quite certain (whether you admit it or deny it) you actually do not operate that way when you are talking with a muslim who believes mohammed and his horse pulled a jeebus and were whisked up into the sky… because that would be stupid. the burden of proof is on the guy asserting impossible, mythic, revolutionary events. it’s not rocket science. it’s common sense. the muslim apologist (i know from experience) will have plenty of books by credentialed experts you should read; explanations about the reliability of oral traditions; the fact that since it’s easily disprovable, then it must have happened, etc. sound familiar? yep. you cry, but the hadiths were written later than the gospels! yes. so they differ in degree, not kind. we got very similar extraordinary claims with similar lines of ‘reasoning’ that justify similar ridiculous claims. the burden is on the one spouting tales of the resurrected dead and flying horses. fundamentalist? no. just not gullible.

  42. cornelll Says:

    David

    “I already specifically listed an objection to Wright. sorry you can’t read well.”

    All I saw was that he was gullible, but you never really demonstrated your point, you just said he was gullible. so how is that an objection? Because David says so might work for a wannabee skeptic like yourself, but out here in the real world us REAL skeptics don’t fall for this garbage.

    “You’ve posted nothing that demonstrates carrier is any more of a hack than wright. ”

    Yes, I have. In history whether it be Bible scholarship or what have you authorities matter greatly, as do citations and peer-reviewed works. How else do we tell the difference between a good historian and a bad one?

    I already gave you a source that was secular friendly in which shows how much more well known and repsected NT Wright is with respect to Bible scholarship, and well this is the topic at hand, right? Carrier as Nick pointed out does not have ONE HIT on the SBL database, NOT ONE, so how in the world can you seriously tell me with a straight face that Carrier is in the same league as NT WRight?

    “Carrier said he perhaps lost the debate on style, not substance.”

    No he lost the debate with respect to the topic that was debated. Why the heck would someone say they lost a debate, because of style?

    Look at his excuse for losing

    “It always takes twice as much time to rebut an assertion as to make one, so the fact that both parties have equal time all but entails the affirmative position will always win on any technical measure.””

    “”As I had predicted, I didn’t win the debate.”

    Give me a break, this is a sorry excuse from a sore loser. And this is your hero? Please I can’t stop laughing at how you village atheists remind me so much of Bible-Belt fundy Christians.

    Since when do rebuttals *always* take more time than making an assertion? Carrier makes it like this is a black and white issue only to sucker in his fan base. Carrier should have known Craig’s style by previous debates, (I mean the intelligent thing to is STUDY your opponent, yes) so why did Carrier debate Craig in the first place?

    ” I don’t judge it by style- I actually watch and take careful note of the back-and-forth. When Carrier refuted points, WLC would simply repeat them without refuting carrier’s rebuttal! That’s shoddy thinking and perfectly in line with the exchange here.”

    What points did he refute? All I saw was Carrier changing the subject, he kept going from the reliability of the gospels to his BS that specific events in the NT, mirror those of certain events in the OT. oook, yeah and? What about the empty tomb? or the origin of Christianity? Carrier was stumped on those and I’m even surprised that he hardly put any effort in refuting Craigs points.

    Craig was on point when he pointed out Carrier’s changing of the goalposts and basically threw salt in the wounds. Carrier wasn’t prepared, was outclassed and too ignorant to go up against someone who actually studies this topic for a living.

    “cornell, obviously you are upset that your perfect omnipotent (i’m sorry you don’t know the word- just type in the word in google and then read the definition- you can do it!) god is demonstrably incompetent.”

    Which definition? Why are you evading the question? Just type out which definition YOU USE when you speak of omnipotence and stop dancing around.

    ” Can’t even offer proof of the miracles of his son/himself. whatever. You’re just another small, thin-skinned, simple-minded christian who hates people exposing the silliness of your beliefs.”

    Sure I can but I’m afraid it will take some effort on your part to get off your lazy butt and read up on some NT Wright, here is a book that was praised by the late Anthony Flew himself

    “Resurrection of the Son of God” NT Wright

    If you don’t like Bible Scholars then I suggest this philosopher who taught at Oxford

    “The Resurrection of God Incarnate” by Richard Swinburne

    Arguing points like this takes time, so if YOU EVER WANT TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF, I suggest you take a look at one of these books.

    “let’s be clear- the guys claiming zombies arose from the graves, magic heroes floating up in the air like superman, stopping the sun for three hours- yeah, those guys are the ones who need a massive boatload of evidence to support such wild claims. What do we get instead? Just contested accounts by anonymous authors DECADES after these amazing events. Hmmmm, if it looks like a duck, smells like a duck…”

    ahhh just as I suggested, your interpretation matches a ‘wooden literalist’ approach to reading the Bible, this speaks volumes, this is something I’d expect from one who holds to Pat Robertson theology LOL

    Anyways this is a strawman, because I don’t hold to what you think I’m holding to, and I like Nick’s father and law am agnostic of that text in Matthew, in fact I sway more to the belief that it was indeed apocalyptic.

    “the burden’s on you- put up or shut up. prove your miracles. you can’t, so you just insult. of course, you could just be quiet, but then pride compels you to defend your faith, even when you lack evidence! Just more insults and shoddy non sequitors… hilarious! Keep it up, smart guy.”

    This is just whining, what’s a matter you can’t argue your points when YOU are the one on the hot seat? You are the one coming in here with your chest puffed out telling us how omnipotent God’s should act (so where did you get this Divine Cambridge Companion on how God’s SHOULD Act from?) when in reality you are just making up a God to fit your personal preference, and that’s really all I see here.

    If God exists, should we expect him to know something we don’t about the reasons for the way things turned out?

    if God is “wrong” for doing things that don’t fit your personal preference, then by what standard is He wrong?

    What standard is greater than God, by which He can be judged by people such as yourself?

    You do realize then when you say Omnipotent God’s ought to do X you are making a reduction ad absurdum type of argument, right? So you have to give the Theist all he can work with to stop this so called absurdity that you are trying to raise, well please answer my 3 questions, because I am skeptical of how you came to your conclusions.

    By the way I’m not upset, I’m actually smiling right now at how bad the competition is getting in recent times, I mean is this the best you got?

  43. cornelll Says:

    “Wisdom. Because God was always and is merely a description.

    -b”

    Don’t know why this didn’t post yesterday, but that’s an interesting description of God you got there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: