Lessons From A Cut

What big lessons can be learned from little annoyances? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A couple of days ago, my wife wasn’t feeling the best and asked me to help prepare her a can of soup. Okay. I can do that. Yet shortly after that was done, I realized I had a cut on one of my fingers that had turned into quite a bit of a bleeding problem. Since it was on my right hand, I asked Allie come and help me bandage it properly. No big deal.

Until the next day it comes loose and we have to do it again as the bleeding starts once more.

Then that evening the bandage is coming loose one more time and so I look and it looks like the cut is healed up as I tend to be a fast healer. No big deal. I just take it off and figure I don’t have to worry about it any more. I can just go on with my dinner.

Until I see that blood on my finger again piling up.

So I go to the bathroom again to wash my hands and put on another bandage. I interrupt my reading of G.K. Chesterton to go and while in there, I notice that a drop of blood has fallen on my shirt. No big deal. I can just go into the bedroom and change. I can do that.

Why yes. Yes I can do that.

Light bulb.

There are times that a simple event happens that opens you up to a great reality you’ve been missing. I don’t doubt that it is largely because I was reading Chesterton that this happened. Chesterton encourages me to look at the world differently.

My insight came that I can go straight into the bedroom and change because Allie does accept me physically entirely. As readers of this blog might know, I am by all physical requirements I could think of, a weakling. I weigh about 120 pounds an I’m extremely skinny. (Although Allie does say I’m building up some muscle thanks to the gym.)

And yet I have no fear of acceptance around my wife. She accepts me as I am. Something I find incredible.

It struck me then what a marvel that we all live with. Bodies are some of the most common sights we see everyday. If you turn on the TV or go to the store or do most anything, you will encounter other humans in some way or another which will often entail seeing other bodies. (Even on social media like Facebook, the most common image you’ll probably see for someone is an image of themselves somehow.)

Those bodies are common, and yet they are sacred. Many people in this area see my wife on a regular basis. However, I am the only one who truly “sees” her in the full sense. Aside from medical professionals under specific circumstances, others do not really get that privilege. There is also the possibility of perhaps women changing with one another at a party at one of their houses or showering at a club like the Y. The general principle is that the whole body is not shared with just anyone and certainly not just anyone of the opposite sex. (Allie would only see a female gynecologist and dermatologist. For a similar treatment by me, I would only go see a guy.)

Our bodies are extremely common, but they’re also sacred and we guard them especially. If any guy tried to see my Princess in a way not allowable I can think that I’d be like the husband in Proverbs who would refuse to take a bribe no matter how great it was. That’s sacred territory meant only for she and I together and no one else has a right to that.

And isn’t that just something fascinating? One of the objects that is most common to us is also the most sacred. It is the human being. It is the image of God in this world. It is the very aspect of reality that was assumed in the incarnation. It was the greatest wonder that the Son of God Himself took on a body and indeed, still has that body. One of the great hopes of the Christian church is the resurrection of the body. We are not gnostics. We firmly hold to material reality and hold that it is good. We are not meant to become angels. We are meant to be humans.

I was also stunned by the fact that yes, I can change in here because I do in fact trust Allie. Why shouldn’t I? She loves me. This I find to be a simply astounding claim. There is actually a female in this world who loves me, desires me, and wants to be with me. She wants all of those so much that she agreed to be with me until death do us part.

I find that utterly amazing and I even told her that last night. She was curious why and I said “Because I know who I am!” What is there about me that Allie should desire me at all? I can think of Boaz who told Ruth that she did not run after the younger men. (As might be known, I am nearly 10 years older than my wife)

This is a claim that is hard to believe and it could be because those of us who are nerds rarely expect something like this to happen. (Women. Please learn this. If you want to get a husband that is totally devoted to you, you cannot go wrong with a nerd. Nerds will spend the rest of their lives in devotion to you generally.)

This claim is hard to believe and why is it? It is not because there is a lack of evidence. Oh one could surely point from time to time to mistakes that we all make and say “See? There is no love here,” yet that is going with the exceptions rather than the rule. If you look on the whole of matters, the evidence is overwhelming on the proposition that my Mrs. deeply loves her husband. (And might I add, respects as well. We are going through “Love and Respect” now after all.)

If the claim is not hard to believe because of lack of evidence, then what could make it hard to believe? The only other aspect left is the nature of the claim seems so out of touch with ordinary every day experience. It has been my common experience to not get this kind of devotion from women. It has been my common experience to think there is nothing special about me in that sense to warrant that kind of devotion. Nevertheless, that devotion is there!

It is just like the case for miracles. I do not think it really is a lack of evidence. There is plenty of evidence for miracles. Just see Keener’s book. If we treated the NT gospels and epistles the same way we treat other ancient works of history, we’d fully accept that Jesus rose from the dead, but these are rejected, and most often not even looked at. I know few people who have really bothered to go through Keener’s book for instance. In fact, some have even said “Well Keener might have some things, but you don’t see someone rising from the dead three days later in an imperishable body.”

So because it doesn’t have the miracle you want to see, no account of a miracle is trustworthy….

The evidence is out there, but the claim is so contrary to what most people experience, and indeed we can all understand that part. Miracles are not part of our every day experience. If they were, we would not call them miracles. They are extraordinary and rare events where God especially breaks into the sphere of our world. I can understand skepticism of such a thing since they are so rare, but skepticism can be unwarranted when it makes demands that are far too high. If I demanded perfection from my own spouse as proof of her love for me, I can rest assured I would never know for sure about it.

And it is an interesting parallel to tie it in with miracles as I can certainly say that the fact that someone such as myself found a spouse who complements me so well and likes all of my little quirks and such that most people find annoying is indeed a miracle. Two people on the spectrum with Asperger’s coming together like this? It reminds me of when I watched Mozart and the Whale at Allie’s house before we got married and while we were engaged. When her folks asked me about it I said I thought it was unrealistic. They were puzzled and asked why. I simply told them it’s a story about two people with Asperger’s getting married. When does something like that ever happen?

This got a laugh from them as it should as that great rarity was about to be lived out right before their eyes. If any event in my life can lead to that great marvel of a public demonstration of God’s grace, it is that of finding Allie.

In fact, as I was telling her last night about all these great insights and how things were coming together so incredibly, she said “Since it started with a drop of blood, you could even tie that into the blood of Christ.”

And indeed, she is right.

Blood itself is common as well, and yet it is sacred. We do not worry if we see sweat on our bodies. We normally expect that. We do wonder what has happened if we see blood and we seek to take care of the problem immediately. We want to wash our hands thoroughly as we don’t want to eat anything with our own blood in it. When it comes to transfusions now, they’re all checked thoroughly because blood could just as easily lead to death.

And yet this common object is the basis of our salvation. When we take Communion, we think about the body and blood of Jesus. (Common objects once again used to express divine truths) Do we really stop to think about what we are doing? We are recognizing the offering of blood for us. Someone poured out their life so that we could live.

Skeptics of the NT will often describe such an event as hideous and disgusting. They’re right! The death of Jesus is a hideous and disgusting event! It is because in fact the sin that led to Jesus being on the cross is hideous and disgusting. What could be more hideous and disgusting than realizing that it is because of human sin that the most righteous one of all chose to face a death that He did not deserve? (In fact, despite what they say about Jesus, I cannot at this moment think of one skeptic who has told me that Jesus deserved to be crucified. Most every religion tries to fit Jesus into itself and even atheists today often look at many of Jesus’s teachings as moral in nature.)

The death of Jesus is ugly because sin is ugly.

Now I am sure I could extend this line of thought further and who knows? Maybe I will someday, but I can say that last night became utterly amazing as one simple little action based on what was an annoyance at first led to a great realization of simple little truths I had overlooked and yet were around me every day.

I hope in turn what I have written has opened you up to such truths as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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37 Responses to “Lessons From A Cut”

  1. David Says:

    “If we treated the NT gospels and epistles the same way we treat other ancient works of history, we’d fully accept that Jesus rose from the dead”

    Not true at all- in fact this is completely false. You see, nobody believes the miracle claims of ancient works of history as actual events. Therefore, we indeed DO treat NT miracle claims the EXACT same way we treat all other miracle claims in ancient historical documents- as fabrications based on either well-intentioned delusion or dishonest myth-making.

    But Keener says miracles happen! Even if every single on of his miracles happened, that says absolutely NOTHING about whether or not ancient documents written decades after the fact are sufficient to A) rule out all normal (and quite common) sources of miracle claims and B) demonstrate that wild miracles happened 2000 years ago.

    Special pleading and wishful thinking are not sufficient to reject conventional explanations of myth-making.

  2. apologianick Says:

    David: Not true at all- in fact this is completely false. You see, nobody believes the miracle claims of ancient works of history as actual events.

    Reply: No one? First off, I see no reason to think you’ve really done any reading in ancient history or scholarship around ancient history, so upon what grounds could you make such a claim?

    Second, could there be reasons for such skepticism? For instance, Herodotus tells us that a hare gave birth to a mare. Source on this? Just Herodotus? Any other mention? Nope. Any specific name tied to it? Nope. Meanwhile, with the NT, we have miracles multiply attested to, we have them spoken of in the gospels and epistles, and we have them even acknowledged by the opponents of Christianity. Not one of the early opponents ever denied that Jesus did miracles.

    David: Therefore, we indeed DO treat NT miracle claims the EXACT same way we treat all other miracle claims in ancient historical documents- as fabrications based on either well-intentioned delusion or dishonest myth-making.

    Reply: And an argument against miracles is?….Oh wait. None has been given. Why should I accept a theory that says miracles cannot happen and have not happened when it has not been shown and is simply question-begging?

    David: But Keener says miracles happen! Even if every single on of his miracles happened, that says absolutely NOTHING about whether or not ancient documents written decades after the fact are sufficient to A) rule out all normal (and quite common) sources of miracle claims and B) demonstrate that wild miracles happened 2000 years ago.

    Reply: Actually, it does say something. For one thing, if miracles are shown to be present today, we have to be open to them in the past. Second, these miracles are often tied in with the Christian tradition, such as healing in the name of Jesus, which should tell us to look at the Jesus tradition much more closely. (You’d know this if you’d actually read his book instead of speaking about something you haven’t read on.)

    Second, the old idea of decades after would rule out all ancient history. I showed this when I linked to Tim O’Neill’s statements on this on his blog. As he says:

    “Take the initial heuristic process, for example. I’ve come across many atheists who don’t accept that a historical Jesus existed on the grounds that “there are no contemporary references to him and all references to him are later hearsay” or even that “there are no eyewitness accounts of his career”. So they rule out any evidence we do have referring to him on the basis that it is not contemporary and/or from eyewitnesses. But if we ruled out any reference to an ancient, medieval or pre-modern person or event on these grounds, we’d effectively have to abandon the study of early history: we don’t have contemporary evidence for most people and events in the ancient world, so this would make almost all of our sources invalid, which is clearly absurd. Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous. No historian of the ancient world would regard this as a valid historical heuristic.”

    http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    And as for wild miracles, what constitutes a wild miracle exactly? I in fact argue mainly for only one, the resurrection of Jesus.

    David: Special pleading and wishful thinking are not sufficient to reject conventional explanations of myth-making.

    Reply: special pleading must be a code word for “I don’t know the relevant scholarship therefore I’ll just throw out something and hope it sticks.”

    It doesn’t.

  3. David Says:

    “Meanwhile, with the NT, we have miracles multiply attested to, we have them spoken of in the gospels and epistles, and we have them even acknowledged by the opponents of Christianity. Not one of the early opponents ever denied that Jesus did miracles.”

    False. We do not. The gospels are of disputed authorship (no scholarly consensus), and regularly and without explanation borrow from one another. They are demonstrably unreliable on details that indicate these were written decades AFTER the purported events. We have ZERO accounts written at the time, therefore we have ZERO accounts that are multiply attested to. Early christianity created such a non-event that contemporary historians took decades to note their presence.

    Once again, you falsely claim that I state miracles cannot and have never happened. Straw man- i made no such claim.

    No, miracles today tell us nothing about the veracity of legendary accounts of flying horses and rising men/gods. Sorry, that’s shoddy reasoning. Someone with rapidly cured cancer is simply no evidence at all that ancient hearsay accounts of Jesus or mohammed flew up into space. This is grasping at straws.

    “the old idea of decades after would rule out all ancient history.”
    yet more special pleading. You see, we’re not challenging every claim in the gospel because of their non-contemporary nature. we simply do not accept wild miracle claims without proof that ordinary non-miraculous factors were impossible.

    You seem confused about different kinds of miracles. Let me help you; if an event is physically possible (e.g. recovering from illness, scoring an unlikely goal at a sports event), however unlikely, that is an event of improbability. If an event is physically impossible, like Jesus flying up into the clouds (like soooo many other legends, going up to outer space (i.e. the ancients were so ignorant about the cosmos they, including the first christians, just assumed heaven was up above their heads!) or rising from the dead after three days, or mohammed rising up to space on a flying horse, or jesus walking on water- these are what I would call wild miracle claims. They are not just improbable, they are physically impossible. No coincidence can explain such, as opposed to “ordinary” miracles of people getting better from sickness.

    Nobody, except for the gullible, accept wild miracle claims of ancient texts. There’s simply insufficient evidence to rule out ordinary explanations. sorry this is hard for you to accept.

  4. apologianick Says:

    In comes David once again!

    David: False. We do not. The gospels are of disputed authorship (no scholarly consensus),

    Reply: Of course there’s debate on it, but what matters is what are the arguments? Consider these points.

    For the four gospels, there is no other claim about who wrote them other than the people traditionally said to be their authors by the early church. No one questions who wrote the synoptics. With John, it is only if it is John the Elder or John the apostle.

    With the synoptics also, these are not major names in the story that wrote the gospels. Who is Matthew? Matthew is a tax collector, hardly someone that would be seen as the ideal character to write a gospel since tax collectors were seen as villains. He plays no major role in the gospels and only appears in one story in Matthew and one in Luke.

    Mark? Who is he? He’s the guy who deserted Paul and Barnabas. He is said to write the memoirs of Peter. It’s noteworthy that not one time is the gospel said to be the gospel of Peter, which the early church could have done easily if it was just wanting to tag a name to the gospel. Instead, it is called the gospel of Mark.

    Luke? Who is he? He’s a Gentile that shows up briefly in Paul’s letters and would not have been known to the early church aside from the gospel and Acts and those letters. Luke could also have been a Gentile, certainly not someone who would win acclaim to the Jews.

    The only one who is somewhat noteworthy is John.

    Again, the external evidence is undivided. These people wrote the gospels. The authorship for such works as Plutarch which is undisputed is far flimsier than that.

    Now do you have an argument AGAINST traditional authorship?

    David: and regularly and without explanation borrow from one another.

    Reply: Of course they did. Mark if written first is the account of Peter. Matthew would use Mark because Peter was one of the inner circle of Jesus’s ministry while Matthew was not. Peter would have then witnessed matters that Matthew did not. Luke was not a witness at all but gathered his accounts from eyewitness testimony. He says he used written and oral sources so why not use Matthew and Mark both? That’s what a good researcher does.

    David: They are demonstrably unreliable on details that indicate these were written decades AFTER the purported events.

    Reply: Oh. They were written decades after. So was everything else in the ancient world because writing was deemed less valuable at the time and the best way to pass on the teachings of a great teacher was through the oral tradition. You also say there were demonstrably unreliable. It’s too bad you gave no examples. I guess you just want me to take it on faith.

    David: We have ZERO accounts written at the time, therefore we have ZERO accounts that are multiply attested to.

    Reply: Congratulations! You have thrown out ALL of ancient history! Is this what it takes to avoid the gospels as history? You’re willing to sacrifice ALL of ancient history for that?

    Again, consider what Tim O’Neill says in this regard:

    ” I’ve come across many atheists who don’t accept that a historical Jesus existed on the grounds that “there are no contemporary references to him and all references to him are later hearsay” or even that “there are no eyewitness accounts of his career”. So they rule out any evidence we do have referring to him on the basis that it is not contemporary and/or from eyewitnesses. But if we ruled out any reference to an ancient, medieval or pre-modern person or event on these grounds, we’d effectively have to abandon the study of early history: we don’t have contemporary evidence for most people and events in the ancient world, so this would make almost all of our sources invalid, which is clearly absurd. Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous. No historian of the ancient world would regard this as a valid historical heuristic.”

    http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2013/11/why-history-isnt-scientific-and-why-it.html

    You’re using a rule ancient historians do not use. Do tell please why you know their craft better than they do.

    David: Early christianity created such a non-event that contemporary historians took decades to note their presence.

    Reply: No. Contemporary historians were just as skeptical as you are. If you are sitting in Rome and hear that a guy in Judea who was a preacher and was crucified was raised from the dead, you’re not even going to bother to go and look. You’re just going to mark it down as another delusion from these crazy people. Why should someone take the claim seriously?

    David: Once again, you falsely claim that I state miracles cannot and have never happened. Straw man- i made no such claim.

    Reply: Then if you were consistent, you’d be open to miracles. Instead, you don’t even bother to consider Keener’s work and when I list a number of miracles from his book, there is no argument against them.

    Gotta love naturalism of the gaps!

    David: No, miracles today tell us nothing about the veracity of legendary accounts of flying horses and rising men/gods. Sorry, that’s shoddy reasoning. Someone with rapidly cured cancer is simply no evidence at all that ancient hearsay accounts of Jesus or mohammed flew up into space. This is grasping at straws.

    Reply: Oh yes. It’s just purely “coincidence” that these accounts in Keener happen so often when the name of Jesus is used in prayer. That’s just “coincidence.”

    Keep trying to convince yourself. I find you rather amusing. The problem again with so many skeptics is they’re skeptical of everything but their own worldview. They believe everything they read that can agree with them there.

    David: “the old idea of decades after would rule out all ancient history.”
    yet more special pleading.

    Reply: No. It’s just history. For instance, you say that Jesus was not noticed. Okay. Here’s something to consider.

    In 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius erupted killing 250,000 people at least and destroying two major cities.

    How many contemporary historians wrote about this event?

    How many contemporary historians wrote about Hannibal?

    David: You see, we’re not challenging every claim in the gospel because of their non-contemporary nature. we simply do not accept wild miracle claims without proof that ordinary non-miraculous factors were impossible.

    Reply: As showed earlier, the gospels are multiply attested and even if the authorship wasn’t as valid, no one thinks the same person wrote all of them. Each of them have their own independent sources and each of them attest to miracles. Furthermore, even the enemies of Christianity attested to miracles. Celsus and others never denied that Jesus did miracles.

    David: You seem confused about different kinds of miracles. Let me help you; if an event is physically possible (e.g. recovering from illness, scoring an unlikely goal at a sports event), however unlikely, that is an event of improbability.

    Reply: No. That would be called a second-class miracle often when a natural means is used at an opportune time. It is the timing that makes it miraculous.

    David: If an event is physically impossible, like Jesus flying up into the clouds (like soooo many other legends, going up to outer space

    Reply: You mean naturally impossible. It’s naturally impossible for my book to fly through the air, but it is physically possible when I pick it up and throw it. What you call a miracle is simply God, who holds all other things in existence, putting a little bit more juice in the machine at times. Unless you can show that cannot happen, there is no argument against it.

    David: (i.e. the ancients were so ignorant about the cosmos they, including the first christians, just assumed heaven was up above their heads!)

    Reply: Or is it the case that moderns are so ignorant of ancient terminology that they interpret matters in a wooden literal sense? This is a mistake of classic dispensationalism that so many fundy atheists still hold to.

    David: or rising from the dead after three days, or mohammed rising up to space on a flying horse, or jesus walking on water- these are what I would call wild miracle claims. They are not just improbable, they are physically impossible. No coincidence can explain such, as opposed to “ordinary” miracles of people getting better from sickness.

    Reply: And the only one I’ve argued for is the resurrection. SO far, I haven’t seen an argument against it other than “That doesn’t happen!” which is begging the question.

    David: Nobody, except for the gullible, accept wild miracle claims of ancient texts. There’s simply insufficient evidence to rule out ordinary explanations. sorry this is hard for you to accept.

    Reply: Nah. I just don’t accept arguments that are made on insufficient evidence. Your claims against the resurrection are not strong enough no matter how incredible you think they are. Your dismissal of N.T. Wright is an example. Even Newsweek calls him “The World’s Leading New Testament Scholar.”

    And you cited Carrier in response to him.

    Please go write Newsweek and explain to them they passed up Carrier when they should have had him instead.

    • David Says:

      You’re response perfectly illustrates my point. You don’t know anything about the authors of the bible. You speculate and sometimes fabricate (how do you KNOW Mark got anything from Peter…).
      You actually ask for demonstrations of inaccuracies?? You are either lying (because you are aware of them) or inexcusably ignorant. That’s okay, I’ll assume you know better and are just being dishonest. But here’s one that’s been debated since the 4th century: the irreconcilable geneologies of jesus, your lord and savior. ooh, but oral traditions were better than written accounts! obviously not.

      you’re really embarrassing yourself with this Tim O’Neil quote. For starters, he is so poor at reasoning that he actually says “Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous.” This is abysmally stupid because he believes Jesus is the Savior of Mankind, an event of infinite significance! So yes, we WOULD expect a bit more from the son of god (but not really the son…). We might expect, for instance, evidence! Or anything that shows that Jesus was indeed more than just another charismatic preacher! The knots christians tie themselves with to justify their unreasonable faith- quite amusing!
      You still seem to be unable (or unwilling) to understand the difference between ancient historical claims and ancient miracle claims. that’s your problem, not mine. miraculous claims should be treated with extra skepticism, especially in an age of incredibly ignorant, gullible yokels who, according to Luke, mistook some apostles for greek gods*! Talk about a culture ripe for disinformation! These were primitive people who, like Jesus, thought demons were responsible for sickness. And you swallow anything they said- at least, about Jesus! I’m sorry that you don’t understand the difference between accounts of a volcano erupting (physically possible) and accounts of people rising from the dead or flying into space (physicaly impossible). Different category of claims; each meriting different degrees of evidence to support said claim.

      Wow, I keep waiting for a limit to your rhetorical excesses, but each post outdoes the previous one. Contemporary historians would have noted the extraordinary events described in the gospels, such as the sun stopping for hours, earthquakes, people rising from the dead, the huge social turmoil generated by finally an AUTHENTIC miracle worker who actually turns up alive after execution! Such events, according to christians, were unprecedented; therefore, judicious historians would have noted the difference between those rumors and the rest (not to mention the sun stopping/darkening, earthquake, and rising dead)… so if your wild miracles happened, SOME historian would have noticed. Or the bible is like the rest- myth built on normal human stuff.
      You want it both ways- the miracles happened, but just like the other rumors of false miracles, contemporary historians don’t notice… right.

      miracles done under the name Jesus don’t work any better than placebo. Sorry you are unaware of the research. your god, like baal, can’t be bothered to help people when scientists are watching… again, that’s your problem, not mine.

      It’s irrelevant as to the historicity of magical claims what people wrote about christianity decades after jesus died. citing celsus is dumb. he couldn’t possibly determine which miracles happened or not. he could only determine whether people believed them. Big difference, sorry you cant see it.
      typical fundamentalist logic- you assert that nothing is impossible because god, and then you say the burden of proof is on me to disprove your wild claims. i know you hate hearing it, but it’s truth is unassailable- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. if god can lift people up and shoot them to space, let’s see you demonstrate it. the burden’s on you! It’s ALMOST unbelievable that you try to pull that one, but now I recall from a previous post that you actually asserted that christianity “spread across the world” quickly after Jesus’s death! and when called on it, you are silent! no apology for such a grossly inaccurate/dishonest, historically ignorant statement. no clarification. just the same changing of the subject and insisting that i have the burden of proof, when YOU are the one asserting people rising from the dead and flying into space. integrity? no. so i’m not dealing with a rational actor here. just a guy who uses rhetoric to justify his unreasonable beliefs.
      You and other believers are exactly backwards- you claim the resurrection happened (you also believe other nonsense miracles, like the ascension, but on this post, you are only defending the ressurection) and say it’s up to me to disprove it! That’s logical nonsense. but reason is much weaker than the tribal chains that bind believers to religion. me? no, i simply go where the evidence points me. and since there’s no good, reliable evidence justifying ancient miracles, i have no reason to believe them.

      You are still playing the Wright vs Carrier game when I”ve repeated over 5 times that NONE OF MY ARGUMENTS DEPEND ON CARRIER. did you catch that? None. i don’t care how many followers of jeebus think wright is awesome, or how many christian scholars think he’s the second coming- he uses shoddy reasoning that i’ve personally witnessed. he is not worthy of my time! he is a crank who takes ancient miracle claims at face value, and worse- claims far more than the sources allow (that ordinary myth-making is less likely than wild miracles… too dumb for words). that’s silly and unworthy of serious study. he’s a fundie who deserves scorn, not blind worship. NO MATTER THE DEGREE, logic impresses me, with or without a degree. a degree without logic is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Wright is indeed a crank, and i judge him by his words, not his rep. he’s no better than carrier. he is older though, and he certainly enjoys his role as the go-to crank for fundie apologists.

      *at this point i expect you will be tempted to use your cliched “modern bigotry.” unfortunately, that does nothing to disprove that these ancient people indeed harbored beliefs that most people today would consider silly superstition. worldviews do indeed change, and you cannot demonstrate otherwise- certainly not by yelling “bigot” and running away with your hands pressed against your ears…

      • mike Says:

        David: “You …sometimes fabricate”

        Wanna back that up?

        David: “You actually ask for demonstrations of inaccuracies?? You are either lying (because you are aware of them) or inexcusably ignorant. That’s okay, I’ll assume you know better and are just being dishonest. But here’s one that’s been debated since the 4th century: the irreconcilable geneologies of jesus, your lord and savior.”

        I’m assuming you’ve refuted every single harmonization that has been put forth in the past two thousand years or so. That’s quite impressive my friend.

        David: “For starters, he is so poor at reasoning that he actually says “Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous.” This is abysmally stupid because he believes Jesus is the Savior of Mankind, an event of infinite significance!”

        Note: It does not matter what O’Neil believes, the OTHER people he is talking about did not, they thought he was just a peasant from a rural land who got crucified. Here’s a tip, when you are calling someone else inept, make sure you don’t screw up this badly right afterward, you only end up pwning yourself.

        David: “I’m sorry that you don’t understand the difference between accounts of a volcano erupting (physically possible) and accounts of people rising from the dead or flying into space (physicaly impossible). Different category of claims; each meriting different degrees of evidence to support said claim.”

        And I’m sorry whatever elementary school you attended decided to let you go onward. The point is to illustrate why an argument from silence is very poor, miracles have nothing to do with this.

        David:”Contemporary historians would have noted the extraordinary events described in the gospels, such as the sun stopping for hours,”

        Did you literally just say this? Please tell me you are referring to the darkness at the crucifixion and not confusing events of the OT with the NT.

        David: “ou are still playing the Wright vs Carrier game when I”ve repeated over 5 times that NONE OF MY ARGUMENTS DEPEND ON CARRIER. did you catch that? None. i don’t care how many followers of jeebus think wright is awesome, or how many christian scholars think he’s the second coming- he uses shoddy reasoning that i’ve personally witnessed. he is not worthy of my time! he is a crank who takes ancient miracle claims at face value, and worse- claims far more than the sources allow (that ordinary myth-making is less likely than wild miracles… too dumb for words). that’s silly and unworthy of serious study. he’s a fundie who deserves scorn, not blind worship. NO MATTER THE DEGREE, logic impresses me, with or without a degree. a degree without logic is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Wright is indeed a crank, and i judge him by his words, not his rep. he’s no better than carrier. he is older though, and he certainly enjoys his role as the go-to crank for fundie apologists.”

        I really have nothing else to say about this other than you should be ashamed of yourself.

      • David Says:

        “I’m assuming you’ve refuted every single harmonization that has been put forth in the past two thousand years or so.”

        I simply read the text in all available english translations and transliterations. As a christian, i heard the pathetic attempts of harmonization. They are patently absurd attempts to get around the obvious, inconvenient, yet EXPLICIT contradiction that no amount of ‘harmonizing’ can ignore. Are you going to pull a Bill Clinton and assert that the text doesn’t mean what the text means (x, son of x, son of x, versus x, father of x, father of x)? Why don’t you just concede the obvious and at least give the veneer of intellectual honesty? The gospels do indeed contain factual errors, including some that give lie to the notion that oral accounts are reliable!

        O’Neil is defending historicity. Yet he does it by claiming nobody should expect extraordinary sourcing for the son of god, through whom and only through whom can man attain salvation! so yes, his reasoning is embarrassing to your side.

        “Did you literally just say this? Please tell me you are referring to the darkness at the crucifixion and not confusing events of the OT with the NT.”
        I stand corrected, my bad (see, it’s not that hard to admit a mistake). I’m sorry for confusing the ludicrous myths of the OT with the equally ludicrous myths of the NT. I meant that no historian noted the alleged miracles, such as the son going dark, or the earth shaking, the rising of the dead (both jesus and “many” others, according to holy scripture)… my point stands. no contemporary historian said a peep. argument from silence does not help your case when you are talking about people flying into space and rising from the dead… given the extraordinary nature of such claims, you ought to be deeply embarrassed about the perfectly ordinary johnny-come-lately sources with their dubious authorship. Such is all you got, and such is EXACTLY what we expect and see in other such wild claims.

        I’m sorry you have nothing to say when I tell you that a degree ALONE is insufficient to impress me. I’m sorry you are stunned into silence when confronted with a nonbeliever who values logic over degree.
        fwiw I’m still shocked you have the nerve to stand by your assertion that the good news, this vitally soul-saving, game-changing, existentially incredible message of jesus christ “rapidly spread around the world” soon after christianity’s formation… when in the real, non-mythical, actual world, god’s ‘wonderful’ plan was so poorly executed that most of the world remained ignorant of this great news for nearly 2000 years (while the new world was discovered in 1492, most of africa and the west remained unexplored (and therefore closed to missionaries) until 19th and 20th centuries…).

        believers will do and say ANYTHING to score rhetorical points- truth be damned. it’s all a tribal contest in which no rules of logic apply.
        “the truth shall set you free”

      • stormcenter5 Says:

        //”You are still playing the Wright vs Carrier game when I”ve repeated over 5 times that NONE OF MY ARGUMENTS DEPEND ON CARRIER. did you catch that? None. i don’t care how many followers of jeebus think wright is awesome, or how many christian scholars think he’s the second coming- he uses shoddy reasoning that i’ve personally witnessed. he is not worthy of my time! he is a crank who takes ancient miracle claims at face value, and worse- claims far more than the sources allow (that ordinary myth-making is less likely than wild miracles… too dumb for words). that’s silly and unworthy of serious study. he’s a fundie who deserves scorn, not blind worship. NO MATTER THE DEGREE, logic impresses me, with or without a degree. a degree without logic is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Wright is indeed a crank, and i judge him by his words, not his rep. he’s no better than carrier. he is older though, and he certainly enjoys his role as the go-to crank for fundie apologists. “//

        I have a REALLY hard time believing that you’ve actually read any of Dr. Wright’s works before. If you had, you wouldn’t be calling him a “fundy” or the “go-to apologist” for “fundies”. In fact, if you read his works, a lot of what he has said is more in line with Christian progressivism than any type of American fundamentalism [which, I may remind you, is an American phenomenon, so I don’t see how you could classify Wright as a “fundy” in the first place]. In fact, Wright’s logic is IMPECCABLE, and worth considering far more than Carrier’s, who tries to rule out the historical existence of Jesus just on mere mathematics.

        The fact that “none of your arguments” depend on Carrier doesn’t matter; you still use the same flawed arguments that Carrier uses, who bases his arguments off of extremely flawed 19th-century and 20th century German Lutheran scholars! That’s exactly what Wright has been counter-acting in his work in the “NPP” and the new wave of studies regarding Jesus.

        BTW, using “insults” certainly doesn’t help your own case at all; there is little point in calling a Christian a follower of “jeebus” if you were intending on carrying out rational conversation. Apparently, you were not.

        However, if you think Wright is a crank, please tell me how Wright is a world-renowned scholar and Carrier is not? LOL Wright has actually earned his place as a top NT scholar; why? Because Wright has actually immersed himself in the world of Second-Temple Judaism and its interaction with pagan cultures. Carrier has not; Carrier’s expertise is in the classical Roman periods. I would place a far higher credence in Wright’s interpretations just based upon this fact alone, given the preponderance of the New Testament on the Jewish Scriptures, and the apocryphal literature of the Second-Temple period. So while Carrier has probably done a great job in the field of Roman history and studying its culture, he’s not going to have that same understanding of the New Testament, because Carrier views the New Testament as a product of Roman culture and its interaction with a Hellenized-cult known as Christianity. Wright views early Christianity as a Jewish-sectarian group, and its interactions with pagan culture. There is a HUGE difference there; Wright starts from the vantage point of early Christianity having primary Jewish origins. Carrier views Christianity as having major Hellenistic/Greek origins.

        All this shows is that Carrier is more of an atheist-apologist than Wright is an apologist for Christianity; Wright is more importantly interested in the worldviews of the authors behind the text, which will then influence how we reconstruct the history of the early Christian movement; Carrier does not. Like I said before, Carrier is focusing on Christianity as a Graeco-Roman cultural phenomena. Carrier is intent on showing that early Christianity is wrong in his eyes; Wright is more interested in detailing the history of early Christianity, because he knows that whatever history tells us about Christianity is truly what Christianity is based upon, and not abstract ideals.

        But like I said before, I find it hard to believe that you have actually read any of Wright’s works, because if you had, you would recognize the degree of scholarship that has been put into it; there is a reason why Wright is considered one of the top-NT scholars of the contemporary period. And there is also a reason why Carrier is hardly recognized in academics around the globe.

      • David Says:

        [this is intended for stormcenter, and i’m having trouble getting the option to respond to each post]

        you can trash carrier all day long, it won’t affect a single word i said (in fact, carry on! it’s amusing to see ya’ll swinging at windmills). and you can sing the praises of wright all night long, and it won’t change the fact that he asserts far more than what the limited sources can tell us about ancient history. please see my numerous posts about credentials if you need more.
        if you have an actual argument to make, make it. as i said, i simply listened to a lecture by wright and read a few essays and see that he is indeed a crank with nice diplomas. i base this off his words, not on reputation. i’m sorry that bothers you. i suspect what really bothers you is that you worship an omnipotent god who couldn’t even leave strong evidence of his incarnation on earth! a god who’s allegedly vital message wouldn’t even get spread over the world for nearly 2000 years (despite some hillbilly’s embarrassing assertion to the contrary on this sophisticated apologist website!). a god who on one hand insists on monotheism and another uses the in-vogue polytheistic language of the day to create a ‘son’ in order to perform a primitive provincial ceremony of human sacrifice. yes, you have plenty to be annoyed about, defending that sect. exactly what we’d expect from man; nothing divine about it.

      • stormcenter5 Says:

        David: you can trash carrier all day long, it won’t affect a single word i said (in fact, carry on! it’s amusing to see ya’ll swinging at windmills).

        Reply: I didn’t trash Carrier in the least. All I stated was that Carrier’s expertise is not in early Christianity, nor in Second-Temple Judaism. Wright’s expertise IS. At least I didn’t make the same ignorant insults about Carrier as you did to Wright [ironic for someone who only cares about the “arguments” and not the “reputation”].

        David: and you can sing the praises of wright all night long, and it won’t change the fact that he asserts far more than what the limited sources can tell us about ancient history. please see my numerous posts about credentials if you need more.

        Reply: Or so you claim. I didn’t say I agree with Wright on everything. Some things I do believe Wright needs to explain a little more. HOWEVER, if you had read the very first book of his series, he clearly explains his historical methodology and how he would approach the interpretation of the text. I actually did read the New Testament and the People of God, and it explained quite thoroughly why Wright makes the assumptions that he does.

        [Note: that’s why its never good to read a book if you haven’t read the previous books in the sequel. 😉 ]

        However, if Wright is making so many “baseless” assertions, what about Carrier’s? What about your inane assertions about this or that being required for evidence of Jesus “being Savior of all mankind”? That’s far more baseless than Wright’s methodology.

        David: if you have an actual argument to make, make it. as i said, i simply listened to a lecture by wright and read a few essays and see that he is indeed a crank with nice diplomas. i base this off his words, not on reputation. i’m sorry that bothers you.

        Reply: It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t know where you are getting that idea from. Just as I don’t reject theism just because Dr. Lawrence Krauss does, I also don’t accept what Wright says just because Wright is the top NT scholar. I accept Wright’s argument because it makes sense in the context of ancient history.

        And you didn’t ask me to make an actual argument. And you haven’t made an argument in the first place, so why should I? All you’ve done is asserted that we should have loads of evidence for Jesus if he really was the “Savior of mankind”. I don’t see any reason why that should be true at all.

        //i simply listened to a lecture by wright and read a few essays and see that he is indeed a crank with nice diplomas. //

        This is what really bothers me, because its clear to me that you haven’t. There are quite a few scholars who disagree with Wright, but none of them regard him as a “crank” or something along those lines just because they didn’t agree with a few articles of his. However, I’m still having trouble actually believing that you have in fact read Wright’s’ works [and again, the same could be said of your precious atheist apologists like Carrier]. His essays are indeed well-thought out, and if you would like to critique Wright, you’d do better to actually give rational reasons as to why you think he is a “crank” rather than just merely asserting that that is so.

        David: i suspect what really bothers you is that you worship an omnipotent god who couldn’t even leave strong evidence of his incarnation on earth!

        Reply: I’m not bothered at all. The problem is that you are expecting evidence that is unreasonable. You expect that history should “prove itself”, when really, such a school of historical methodology was abandoned long ago. And yet, you are hypocritical in the same regard. You said earlier that Wright makes unwarranted assertions about history from the few historical texts that we have, yet you go on to assert that we should be able to “prove” something about the incarnation.

        First of all, you merely claim that there isn’t “evidence”. That’s not a good enough reason for rejecting anything; that might be good reason to not be concerned, or to have no knowledge of the issue, but certainly not a good enough reason to ward off belief.

        Secondly, you don’t even know what type of evidence you’d be looking for in the first place, let alone actually getting this “enormous pile of evidence” that you seem to be looking for. But the fact of the matter remains that what you are asking for is not possible, regardless of whether or not Jesus actually was the incarnation of God or not.

        David: a god who’s allegedly vital message wouldn’t even get spread over the world for nearly 2000 years (despite some hillbilly’s embarrassing assertion to the contrary on this sophisticated apologist website!). a god who on one hand insists on monotheism and another uses the in-vogue polytheistic language of the day to create a ‘son’ in order to perform a primitive provincial ceremony of human sacrifice. yes, you have plenty to be annoyed about, defending that sect. exactly what we’d expect from man; nothing divine about it.

        Reply: Only assertion after assertion. It’s ridiculous actually. And I have nothing to be “annoyed” about. I don’t know why you keep insisting that I am “annoyed” about something.

        First, the Christian gospel HAS been spread all around the world in the last 200 years; and I don’t see how this would affect the truth of it either, or the power of this god that I worship.

        Secondly, I don’t see how “son of God” implies polytheism at all. Or at least it didn’t with the culture that Paul and the early Christians were interacting with. In fact, “son of God” was used of Jesus from the very early beginning of Christianity, yet it was never interpreted as polytheistic; in fact, many Romans accused the early Christians of being atheistic! “Son of God” was always understood as a title for a divine ruler or emperor. More than likely, it was an anti-imperial title used of Jesus over and against Caesar as the “son of a god”.

        And lastly, your last statement is fallacious as well; we KNOW that Christianity is “from man” in the sense that it started because a group of men and women believed that their cult-leader, Jesus of Nazareth, had been risen from the dead by the power of Israel’s god. However, this doesn’t say anything about its “divine” origins. You are assuming a very deistic model, where “men” and “divine” are separated by an enormous gulf. This is not true; in Christian-belief, we believe that the divine [God] acts in mysterious, hidden, and sometimes open ways, even though God is continually active in this world; in this sense, when we say that the Bible was written by God, we mean that the Bible was written through men, because of God’s interaction with man. The same could be said of Christianity’s origins.

        Although, if you feel more comfortable with your atheism and your poor justification for it, be my guest.

      • David Says:

        “…your precious Carrier” okay, you’ve demonstrated you cannot read. he’s not my champion and not a single one of my arguments rest upon him, so keep at your delusional rebuttals, smart guy.

        “I don’t see how “son of God” implies polytheism at all. Or at least it didn’t with the culture that Paul and the early Christians were interacting with.”
        It’s okay that you are ignorant of language and religion. You see, son of X implies that the son is NOT X. I know it’s complicated. And no, the culture Paul and Co were interacting it was polytheistic. so, yes, this notion of son of god was firmly established in the minds of gentiles. judaism, especially after exile to persia, also, borrowed some of these polytheistic notions. It was only at the council of Nicea that the official ideology of the trinity emerged, after dealing with sects who indeed thought more polytheistically, that jesus was of the similar substance of god, but not quite god… sigh…

        I see you are a Wright fan-boy and can’t take any criticism of your leader. well, I’m not. i just know what i see and hear, and he’s a crank by asserting beyond what the evidence allows. Too bad for you.

        “All you’ve done is asserted that we should have loads of evidence for Jesus if he really was the “Savior of mankind”. I don’t see any reason why that should be true at all.”
        Nope. I’ve simply pointed out that you have no extraordinary evidence to bolster claims of wild miracles. It’s not that hard. And it’s rational to expect the earth-shattering, unbelievably universe-shaking revelation of Jesus Christ might leave a bit of evidence. and might have indeed have caused one (not even one?!) established contemporary historian to note the marvelous NT events, had they happened. It’s the logical progression from the NT’s wacky assertions. If god were perfect and actually concerned about getting out his good news, then no reasonable person would expect what followed. christianity affected a tiny portion of the earth for hundreds of years after its invention. sorry, it’s not inane to note the obvious- it’s called applying logic and common sense to test the theory of a sect. I know, it’s foreign to your psyche, but that’s what skeptical thinkers do. you boast that your religion has spread around the world in the past 200 years- well, congrats! you’re omnipotent god couldn’t get it up for 1800 years. you claim with a presumably straight face that we shouldn’t expect otherwise. If it were a man-made religion- then you’re right- we should not expect better. however, worshippers actually think god is omnipotent! and jesus was part of an amazing plan for salvation and the key to a personal relationship with the big guy- if that were the case, we would most certainly expect better. we might expect competency, for instance. or how about undisputed historical sources to confirm what exactly jesus did or didn’t say? or better yet, footage of him (before CGI). if there were really good news to share, your god is horrible at it. no matter how you try to downplay it, 1800 years is ridiculously slow for an omnipotent god. it’s slow for a medium-powered god. it’s perfectly consonant with the religion being spread by no god. hmm, which best fits the evidence? a universal savior of mankind who emerges (of course, without contemporary mention of historians) out of a provincial corner of the globe, whose vital message would remain hidden from the bulk of humanity for 1500+ years- or just another sect made and spread by man like every one before. it’s a no-brainer. choice B makes sense. Choice A makes no sense.
        I know, you christians bristle when we point out the obvious holes in this story- you assert that our little minds couldn’t possibly figure out god’s awesome plan! problem is, some of us actually listen to your religion, and we take your claims seriously before rejecting them. it seems like you assert an omnipotent god had a baby (but really, we’re monotheists!), this baby came to planet earth and did incredible wonders all for the salvation of pitiful humanity, and He really wants this good news spread to all men. Yet you scoff when we actually do the thought experiment to see if history seems to confirm this master plan. It doesn’t. It, in fact, wreaks of the same ol’ fabrications that characterize all ancient miracle claims born of civil strife. it simply doesn’t make logical sense, and while you assert god is beyond my comprehension, the evidence suggests you simply don’t have any facts to go with your story. hence the outrage directed towards those pointing out how nonsensical and irrational the NT plan is, given its objectives of redeeming humanity. now, if you asserted that jesus was sent from heaven just to save some gentiles in the roman world, then you’d have a far stronger case. Because within a few hundred years, it certainly accomplished that (still, far longer than an omnipotent god could do it…). But 1800+ years? that’s not remotely the hallmark of an omnipotent god. that’s man, baby.

      • TimONeill Says:

        I’m slightly baffled as to why my article on how history is studied is being used to justify belief in miracles. That is not implied in anything I said and I find the whole idea of miracles absurd – both now and in the ancient past.

        I’m equally baffled by this statement:

        “you’re really embarrassing yourself with this Tim O’Neil quote. For starters, he is so poor at reasoning that he actually says “Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous.” This is abysmally stupid because he believes Jesus is the Savior of Mankind, an event of infinite significance!”

        Ummm, buddy- I’m an atheist. So no, I don’t believe “Jesus is the Savior of Mankind”. If you’re going to comment on what I said, maybe you should have actually read the article in question, which made my atheism pretty clear.

        I’ll now let you two get back to whatever it is you’re arguing about. Neither of you seem to have understood a thing I said, though at least one of you actually read my article.

      • David Says:

        I’m sorry Tim. No excuse, but an explanation. I was responding to someone who quoted you in order to justify his belief that there were ancient miracles, even though source material is thin. Since he used your quote, I assumed he was citing someone who would actually help his argument; therefore, I assumed that you were a believer. My mistake. I didn’t even read the link because the same guy who posted it also declared that christianity spread “rapidly across the whole world” shortly after christianity’s inception- which anyone with a fifth-grade education knows is patently false. Yet the believer, when presented with the opportunity to withdraw the statement, actually did the opposite- just dug in his heels. so, it’s hard for me to take apologists in good faith. but even if I’m arguing with disingenuous apologists, i still shouldn’t be so lazy before tarring anyone’s reputation. with NT Wright, at least, I’ve become familiar enough to have an opinion. Not with you, so my apologies.

  5. apologianick Says:

    David: You’re response perfectly illustrates my point. You don’t know anything about the authors of the bible. You speculate and sometimes fabricate (how do you KNOW Mark got anything from Peter…).

    Reply: How do you know Plutarch wrote Plutarch? How do you know Plato wrote his dialogues? How do you know Aristotle wrote the Metaphysics?

    Okay. Maybe the church just made it up! They decided they didn’t want to have a gospel of Peter, even though Peter is the shining star of the apostles, so they decided to create a figure that abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their missions and said “Hey! We’ll attribute the gospel to this guy! That’ll give it respect!”

    You know, it would help if you came up with an argument that was really against my position instead of “Well what if?” argument. I used the methods used by ancient historiographers in similar situations. We look at external and internal evidence. For now, I focused on external. You presented zero to the contrary.

    David: You actually ask for demonstrations of inaccuracies??

    Reply: Yes I did. Why? Are you not used to being challenged?

    David: You are either lying (because you are aware of them) or inexcusably ignorant. That’s okay, I’ll assume you know better and are just being dishonest. But here’s one that’s been debated since the 4th century: the irreconcilable geneologies of jesus, your lord and savior. ooh, but oral traditions were better than written accounts! obviously not.

    Reply: And as I said earlier, there were at least four answers from the early church as to that. Have you looked at all of them and refuted all of them? In fact, this is one reason why Ben Witherington will be my guest on my show on December 7th in order to help explain this. In fact, I recommend you remember what one author said about his own work.

    “If what I say anywhere in this book appears to contradict, directly or indirectly, something else I say here, the principle of interpretive charity should be applied: assume you are misreading the meaning of what I said in each or either case. Whatever interpretation would eliminate the contradiction and produce agreement is probably correct. So you are encouraged in every problem that may trouble you to find that interpretation.”

    Who said that?

    Richard Carrier on pp. 5-6 of Sense and Goodness Without God, which is his own book.

    Have you followed that principle? Have you looked at the explanations the early church gave? Have you read any scholarship on the issue?

    Here for instance is a massive link that goes through some of the difficulties and issues a response. http://christianthinktank.com/fabprof4.html

    Before you say something is an absolute contradiction, you need to explain the explanations.

    And if there is a contradiction, so what? I am not arguing for Inerrancy. I am arguing for general reliability. One mistake does not mean someone is generally unreliable. Go to any court case and you will not find a perfect witness.

    David: you’re really embarrassing yourself with this Tim O’Neil quote. For starters, he is so poor at reasoning that he actually says “Given that we have no eyewitness or contemporary sources for far more prominent figures, such as Hannibal, expecting them for a peasant preacher like Jesus is clearly ridiculous.” This is abysmally stupid because he believes Jesus is the Savior of Mankind, an event of infinite significance!

    Reply: Thank you so much for embarrassing yourself big time with this one! Let’s see how Tim O’Neill describes himself on his blog.

    “Wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, occasionally arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard.”

    Wow! He’s an atheist who believes Jesus is the savior of mankind! Is this a new movement in atheism?

    http://www.blogger.com/profile/00292944444808847980

    This is more of David’s excellent research capabilities! He can’t even see what’s on the front page, but trust him to do valid research into N.T. Wright!

    And look at what he says on the blog post I linked to.

    “I should begin, however, by pointing out that I am an atheist. I have been an atheist for my entire adult life, am a paid up member of several atheist and sceptical organisations and have a 21 year online record of posting to discussions as an unbeliever. I note this because I’ve found that when I begin to criticise my fellow atheists and their grasp of history or historiography, people tend to assume I must be some kind of theist apologist (which doesn’t follow at all, but this happens all the time anyway).”

    Besides, either way, Christians believed Jesus was the savior of the world. Good for them. Why should anyone else? The Romans had Caesar. Why would they write about another supposed savior of the world.

    David: So yes, we WOULD expect a bit more from the son of god (but not really the son…). We might expect, for instance, evidence!

    Reply: Which we have. NT scholarship the world over will tell you numerous things we know about Jesus for certain.

    David: Or anything that shows that Jesus was indeed more than just another charismatic preacher! The knots christians tie themselves with to justify their unreasonable faith- quite amusing!
    You still seem to be unable (or unwilling) to understand the difference between ancient historical claims and ancient miracle claims. that’s your problem, not mine. miraculous claims should be treated with extra skepticism, especially in an age of incredibly ignorant, gullible yokels who, according to Luke, mistook some apostles for greek gods*!

    Reply: What’s that smell? Oh yes! Carrier! You’re talking about the Acts 14 passage. Okay. Here’s what happens.

    Luke and Barnabas come to a town where there is a man there who has been lame from birth. This is also a town where there is a story that some Greek gods came in human form one time and they appeared as poor people. The town despised them except for two elderly citizens who in turn got richly blessed. The people decided they didn’t want to make that mistake again.

    So what happens? Here is this man with this lifelong debilitating condition that is not something cured through psychosomatic means and by a word in the account, the man gets healed by Paul.

    Now let’s grant that the event happened that way, which we have to. It won’t work to say “Well the miracle obviously didn’t happen, but the townspeople just decided Paul and Barnabas were gods for no reason!”

    These people just saw something. They were trying to come up with an explanation for what they saw. What do they reason? “Well this seems like something gods can do. Obviously, these people are gods.”

    This reasoning is really quite sound, but it’s just wrong because they had their theology wrong. It is not gullible to see someone healed of a debilitating lifelong condition right before your eyes and think that a miracle has taken place. That is not gullible at all.

    The same happens in Acts 28. Paul is bit by a snake that is poisonous. The people expect him to die or show some adverse reaction. He doesn’t. They have to explain it somehow and reason that Paul must be a god.

    That is not gullibility. That’s just not correct reasoning.

    And by the way, if you were there and saw it, you’d have to come up with an explanation as well.

    I have no problem with greater skepticism of miracles. I have a problem with unreasonable skepticism. If you saw as you have that there cannot be enough evidence, then you would be incapable of finding out the truth if it was indeed a miracle. Why trust a method that eliminates what could be a true explanation from the start?

    David: Talk about a culture ripe for disinformation! These were primitive people who, like Jesus, thought demons were responsible for sickness.

    Reply: Do you have evidence that in the history of the world demonic presences have never caused sicknesses? Not every sickness in the ancient world is attributed to a demon, not even in the NT. Yet on what grounds do you say that they never were because of demonic activity?

    I recommend you talk to some people who have had involvement in occultic activity. You could change your mind if you’re actually open to such claims.

    Once again, here are some claims in Keener:

    1. A South African psychology professor and department head at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University explained that he was formerly possessed by another personality. He was institutionalized, but that proved ineffective, until the demon was exorcised by a Christian (vol. 2, 815).
    2. A well-known US psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck (whose work on exorcisms was even cited positively by Marcus Borg), documented several cases where exorcisms were the only solution to some severe psychiatric health problems. Peck stated later that there are enough empirical cases “to make demonology a respected field of research and study” (cited by Keener, Vol. 2, 838-839).
    3. A professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, William P. Wilson, described several of his cases that he encountered. In one, a woman would be thrown violently to the ground, followed by two male voices that would speak through her in another language that was not her own. After an exorcism, she “regained normalcy immediately, and remained healthy during the year of follow up” (vol. 2, 839).
    4. Keener cites several cases where an exorcism at one location resulted in physical healings of family members in other locations (vol. 2, 839-840).
    5. Keener spends significant time documenting many “power encounters,” where Christians are involved in face-to-face confrontations with others who were not believers, including witch doctors, voodoo priests, shamans, and so on. A few of these are reminiscient of biblical examples, like the confrontation between Peter and Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24). In Keener’s cases:
    a. Sometimes the healed person became a believer afterwards (vol. 2, 847).
    b. A witch doctor in Java, who had never before known anything about Christianity or Christians, became a believer after she saw a supernatural vision of Jesus (vol. 2, 851).
    c. After a confrontation with a Maasai Christian, a “witch doctor fell to the ground and was converted” (vol. 2. 851).
    d. An influential shaman in Viljoenskroon who witnessed the power of a Christian evangelist fell to the ground and was semi-conscious for more than five minutes, after which this shaman “quickly became a public follower of Christ” (vol. 2, 851).
    e. A West African witch converted to Christianity, afterwards destroying his witchcraft utensils. He “experienced greater spiritual power” than he had had before, including using this power to “deliver others from witchcraft” (vol. 2, 851).
    f. During an evangelistic meeting in Nigeria, a pagan priestess was healed immediately of “long-standing ailments” and then converted to Christianity (vol. 2, 852).
    g. A Borneo witch doctor was converted after experiencing a dream, afterwards burning his charms (vol. 2, 852).
    h. After being unable to harm a Cuban evangelist, an occult group leader converted to Christ publically (vol. 2, 852).
    i. When Indian priests employing witchcraft discovered that they could not harm an Indian Christian, they became Christians (vol. 2, 852).
    j. An Indian priestess became completely paralyzed from her neck down and remained that way for three years. But after an Indian Christian prayed for her, she was healed instantly, after which she converted to Christianity and began running through the village, praising the Christian God. Many others present also became believers (vol. 2, 852).
    k. A shaman from Yanomamo came to the conclusion that God the Creator, of whom Christians taught, was more powerful than all of the other spirits (vol. 2, 843, note 381).

    l. In a related sort of “power encounter,” just as in various places in the Gospels, some departing evil spirits who possessed people knew of Jesus’ identity and power, such as:

    m. In China, some spirits “knew Jesus as divine and feared him” (vol. 2, 800).

    n. Also in China, several believers were praying for a seriously ailing woman, and as they did so, two other voices began speaking through her. The voices wanted the believers to leave them alone and reported that they could not stand hearing anything else about Jesus (vol. 2, 815)!

    o. Keener especially notes that, “missiologists collecting field data today have sometimes reported a strong success rate for exorcisms conducted in Jesus’s name in various cultures.” (vol. 2, 843)

    David: And you swallow anything they said- at least, about Jesus!

    Reply: Actually, I can make a historiographical case for the general reliability of the gospels. That’s all I go by.

    David: I’m sorry that you don’t understand the difference between accounts of a volcano erupting (physically possible)

    Reply: Ah! So contemporary historians chose to not talk about a volcano that erupted killing a quarter of a million people and burying two cities because that’s physically possible! Got it! Therefore, they must have only spent their time writing about impossible things!

    David: and accounts of people rising from the dead or flying into space (physicaly impossible). Different category of claims; each meriting different degrees of evidence to support said claim.

    Reply: And also having a different degree of skepticism. You’ve given me no reason why contemporary historians should think that the accounts of Jesus were not just myths.

    Furthermore, with all great teachers, the main ones who write about them are their students. This is so with the rabbis, with Socrates, with Buddha, with Muhammad, etc.

    David: Wow, I keep waiting for a limit to your rhetorical excesses, but each post outdoes the previous one. Contemporary historians would have noted the extraordinary events described in the gospels, such as the sun stopping for hours,

    Reply: This does not happen in the gospels.

    David: earthquakes,

    Reply: Physically possible and common occurrences. If they did not write about Vesuvius, why mention an earthquake?

    David: people rising from the dead,

    Reply: Why should they take the claim seriously?

    David: the huge social turmoil generated by finally an AUTHENTIC miracle worker who actually turns up alive after execution!

    Reply; Again, why should they take the claim seriously? You condemn the ancients on one hand for being gullible. If they were gullible, they would have recorded every such claim! The problem is they were skeptical, and then you condemn them for being skeptical because they should have talked about these events!

    Darned if they do. Darned if they don’t.

    David: Such events, according to christians, were unprecedented; therefore, judicious historians would have noted the difference between those rumors and the rest (not to mention the sun stopping/darkening, earthquake, and rising dead)… so if your wild miracles happened, SOME historian would have noticed. Or the bible is like the rest- myth built on normal human stuff.

    Reply: See above. Arguments from silence are among the weakest arguments that are out there

    David: You want it both ways- the miracles happened, but just like the other rumors of false miracles, contemporary historians don’t notice… right.

    Reply: Got it! Ancient historians did not pay much attention to miracle claims. It was an age of skepticism. A rare exception would be Lucian who sought to disprove them. Jesus would be seen much like a televangelist is today.

    David: miracles done under the name Jesus don’t work any better than placebo. Sorry you are unaware of the research.

    Reply: Okay. So when Jesus raises the dead in a gospel, that’s placebo. When blindness and paralysis are healed, that’s placebo.

    Please show the accounts where placebo medicines have done this.

    David: your god, like baal, can’t be bothered to help people when scientists are watching… again, that’s your problem, not mine.

    Reply: Except Keener does list miracles with medical documentation> if the miracle happens in a hospital, it’s attributed to the medicine. If it doesn’t, it’s obviously just a false account since it can’t be verified. Again, darned if you do. Darned if you don’t.

    David: It’s irrelevant as to the historicity of magical claims what people wrote about christianity decades after jesus died. citing celsus is dumb. he couldn’t possibly determine which miracles happened or not.

    Reply: Then again, throw out ancient history since most accounts came later. How much later is it that we have an account of Alexander the Great?

    David: he could only determine whether people believed them. Big difference, sorry you cant see it.

    Reply: Keep trying to tell yourself that. Celsus never disputed the miracles. Why not?

    David: typical fundamentalist logic- you assert that nothing is impossible because god,

    Reply: No I didn’t. There are many things impossible. Anything that involves a logical contradiction is impossible. Miracles do not involve that.

    David: and then you say the burden of proof is on me to disprove your wild claims.

    Reply: No. I just said you need to offer an argument that miracles cannot happen. If you cannot give that, then you should be open to such claims. Unless your position is a position of faith.

    David: i know you hate hearing it, but it’s truth is unassailable- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Reply: No. I don’t hate hearing it. I’ve read Sagan in fact. He’s a wonderful writer, unlike you. For the claim of the resurrection, I do claim extraordinary evidence as testified by leading scholars. I claim my explanation has the best explanatory scope of all the known facts.

    David: if god can lift people up and shoot them to space, let’s see you demonstrate it.

    Reply: How on Earth could I? That God can do it does not mean that I can.

    David: the burden’s on you! It’s ALMOST unbelievable that you try to pull that one,

    Reply; Yes. You might actually have to back a claim for once.

    David: but now I recall from a previous post that you actually asserted that christianity “spread across the world” quickly after Jesus’s death! and when called on it, you are silent!

    Reply; No. It did. Tacitus wrote about what Nero did to the Christians. They had reached the Roman empire. No one disputes Paul wrote Romans and already in Rome, there is a large number of Christians present when he writes his letter. Claudius expelled all of the Jews from there along with some Christians around 52 A.D. or so according to Suetonius.

    You’d know this if you’d read ancient history.

    David: no apology for such a grossly inaccurate/dishonest, historically ignorant statement. no clarification.

    Reply: There is never a need to apologize for the truth.

    David: just the same changing of the subject and insisting that i have the burden of proof, when YOU are the one asserting people rising from the dead and flying into space.

    Reply: I have given my evidence for miracles. What evidence have you given against? NONE.

    David: integrity? no. so i’m not dealing with a rational actor here. just a guy who uses rhetoric to justify his unreasonable beliefs.
    You and other believers are exactly backwards- you claim the resurrection happened (you also believe other nonsense miracles, like the ascension, but on this post, you are only defending the ressurection) and say it’s up to me to disprove it!

    Reply: No. I’ve actually made a case for the resurrection based on the known facts about Jesus as attested to by leading scholarship and I’ve asked you to give a better explanation.

    David: That’s logical nonsense. but reason is much weaker than the tribal chains that bind believers to religion. me? no, i simply go where the evidence points me.

    Reply: This would only work if you were really looking for evidence. As it is, you are only looking at that which already agrees with you. I read what disagrees with me. I see no evidence you do likewise and all evidence against. For instance, instead of reading Wright, you just watched a YouTube video.

    David: and since there’s no good, reliable evidence justifying ancient miracles, i have no reason to believe them.

    Reply: And the big question begged again!

    David: You are still playing the Wright vs Carrier game when I”ve repeated over 5 times that NONE OF MY ARGUMENTS DEPEND ON CARRIER.

    Reply: Then why bring him up? In your first reply to a rejoinder, you said that I cited Wright and you’d respond with Carrier. I’ve seen no other source mentioned from you.

    David: did you catch that? None. i don’t care how many followers of jeebus think wright is awesome,

    Reply: This is non-Christian scholarship as well. All scholars have to respond to Wright. He’s that high up in the field.

    They don’t respond to Carrier. He’s not worth it.

    David: or how many christian scholars think he’s the second coming- he uses shoddy reasoning that i’ve personally witnessed.

    Reply: Based on a YouTube video. No attempt to actually pick up his books and see his documented resources and footnotes and bibliography. Can’t do that. That requires “thinking” and “research.” You can’t do that and have a position of faith.

    David: he is not worthy of my time! he is a crank who takes ancient miracle claims at face value, and worse- claims far more than the sources allow (that ordinary myth-making is less likely than wild miracles… too dumb for words). that’s silly and unworthy of serious study. he’s a fundie who deserves scorn, not blind worship. NO MATTER THE DEGREE, logic impresses me, with or without a degree. a degree without logic is worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Wright is indeed a crank, and i judge him by his words, not his rep. he’s no better than carrier. he is older though, and he certainly enjoys his role as the go-to crank for fundie apologists.

    Reply: This could well be the most ignorant statement ever posted on my blog.

    David: *at this point i expect you will be tempted to use your cliched “modern bigotry.” unfortunately, that does nothing to disprove that these ancient people indeed harbored beliefs that most people today would consider silly superstition. worldviews do indeed change, and you cannot demonstrate otherwise- certainly not by yelling “bigot” and running away with your hands pressed against your ears…

    Reply: Oh fundie atheists are just so cute.

    • David Says:

      [i responded to Mike thinking it was you; sorry to both of you!]
      No, you keep confusing yourself. Christianity did NOT spread around the world for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years! I’m so sorry to tell you this, but the roman empire did not encompass the entire world. You see, there is a rather large ocean separating the western and eastern hemispheres, and people on the eastern hemisphere, like the provincial christians, were completely unaware of vast tracts of this planet. Only in after the 15 centuries did missionaries begin contact with the americas. Furthermore, the interior of africa remained impenetrable to most europeans/asians until major explorations centuries after columbus. Why do you insist on a laughably refutable lie? Must be that pride talking. You could have saved yourself the shame by reading any 5th grade history book. Maybe even a 2nd grade coloring book.

      You’ve presented referrals (more hearsay) to bolster your case that miracles happen- which i won’t even challenge here, but you have presented no actual evidence to prove the miraculous claims of the NT. And yes, scientists have studied the efficacy of prayer, and it fails to outperform placebo. sorry, your god is pretty easily frightened when it comes to offering evidence of himself. if god were real, if god answered prayers as asserted in the NT, then it should be clear that god’s power is here on earth. But nope. In an age of millions and MILLIONS of cameras, the good lord can’t even pull off a single undisputed miracle on film. reminds me of a crappy movie in which a man claims to have the ability to turn invisible- but only so long as he’s not observed! Your god sounds awfully similar.

      Oh dear, you are citing Carrier again! Please refer to the multiple times I state that NOTHING he says affects my arguments. I referred to him once when an ignorant poster declined to offer an argument, and instead quipped “read NT Wright.” To such a non-argument, I responded, “you cite Wright, I’ll cite Carrier.” One crank is as good as another. And yes, I take Wright at his word. If he can’t make coherent arguments a lecture, I won’t waste a second on his silly books defending the historicity of the rising dead…. i’m simply not gullible.

      “You’ve given me no reason why contemporary historians should think that the accounts of Jesus were not just myths.”
      That nicely sums up why we know they are myths- if the miracles happened, then surely the social unrest would be of a different order of magnitude from ordinary miracle claims. Instead, it unfolded precisely as it would were it all the miracle claims fabrications. Thanks!

      “Keep trying to tell yourself that. Celsus never disputed the miracles. Why not? ” the same reason muslims never disputed the claims that mo and a horse flew to space. twas an age of suckers, not skeptics. Sure there was an educated elite that was more skeptical, but cults and sects were springing up all over, both pagan and jewish. Each one introduced a new angle and in hindsight might appear unlikely. christianity was just another one that, eventually, became quite prolific. But not at first. and the perfect omnipotent god couldn’t even get one established, reputed scholar to note ANYTHING about those zany miracles. Luke is the best you have, and he was certainly not an established, reputed scholar. we only know of him through the sacred scriptures! work of man or god? that’s easy; man. did god not predict that skeptics would ask for real evidence in the future? obviously not. yet i would be open to evidence if there were any beyond the dubious NT sources we have now. There’s just zip to go on beyond ancient hearsay and demonstrably unreliable scripture.

      No, I don’t need to disprove that demons do anything. You, however, must prove demons exist. then prove that they interact with the real world. you cant, so once again, you pretend that the skeptic has the burden of proof! Hilariously convoluted thinking.

      “So when Jesus raises the dead in a gospel, that’s placebo.”

      No, when Jesus raises the dead, that’s an unsupported and UNVERIFIABLE assertion made by primitive people who believed in silly things like demons and an impending apocolypse. Same for Mo and his flying horse.

      “I’ve actually made a case for the resurrection based on the known facts about Jesus as attested to by leading scholarship and I’ve asked you to give a better explanation.”
      No, you’ve made unsupported and unverifiable assertions. They are not the same thing. That you’ve ignored my repeated explanations do not demonstrate that I’ve not given better ones than miracles. I’ll do so again: humans make stuff up and when occupied by foreign powers, tend to get a little crazier and make up more things. Hence around the rise of christianity, there are dozens of sects we know about, just jewish ones. each one being hostile to another, and each asserting the truth. there were pagan influences. people in general are prone to groupthink; people have and believe hallucinations/visions; people make stuff up. add it up, and voila, a perfectly normal explanation. You haven’t disputed any of this. you have asserted that certain beliefs were impossible, but you most certainly haven’t demonstrated nor proved it! Cause you cannot! There’s simply not enough source material to tell us what people COULD not believe. At best, we can guess. And when our knowledge about a culture is so spotty, it’s foolish to fill in the gaps with silly mythical claims of flying men and rising dead. that’s gullible. the burden’s on you, no matter how mad it makes you to hear it.

      • derekhowardm Says:

        David, do you seriously want to discuss these issues or are you just having a laugh? You could start by dropping the Mo and Jeebus nonsense, it isn’t funny or clever, it just makes you look bad. Want to join the adults?

  6. apologianick Says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for visiting. I referred to your writing not because of miracles but because of your statement that no historian would use the idea that only contemporary sources are reliable in ancient history. I know you don’t agree with me on miracles. I just didn’t state your worldview at the start since I was sure David would assume I was quoting another Christian. The only point was to show that even if the gospels were not contemporary, that does not mean they are ipso facto unreliable. They could be reliable on other grounds. Also, because contemporary historians do not say something about Jesus, that does not mean it is not historical. I’m still of the strong contention they wouldn’t even bother mentioning Jesus as those who were writers would also be skeptical of miracles.

    And to make a quick point to David since I’m heading out for Thanksgiving and can’t say more, when I say world, I mean it in the more common biblical sense. That was the Roman Empire at the time. Of course Christianity had not spread to America. It was after the time of Paul that it spread to places like England, Ireland, and eventually to the Vikings, etc.

    • David Says:

      Wow, now that you have a notable guest reading the forum, you all of a sudden clarify that when you said “the whole world” you did not in fact mean “the whole world.” even though I very very specifically pointed out that you were dead wrong. Better late than never, but you’ve already shown that you will say anything in order to score rhetorical points- truth be damned.

      I never said that non-contemporary sources are completely unreliable. However, you are defending ancient claims of wild miracles. In that case (as opposed to mundane, normal, physics-conforming events), then the farther from the alleged event, the more skepticism is warranted. And certainly if you are claiming your omnipotent god unleashed his amazing grand plan for the salvation of humanity, having at least one established historian note this amazing event would be orders of magnitude smarter and more competent than entrusting this vital, soul-preserving news to illiterate hillbillies. If said news was really vital for our eternal salvation, any competent god would make sure that all of humanity got the message within a generation. Unless, of course, it’s not really a universal message from the creator of the universe, but rather just another parochial sect from a people that wouldn’t even know the existence of the western hemisphere for 15 centuries. Hmm, which fits the evidence? Tough call…

      • Derek_M Says:

        David, do you have any methodological guidelines that you use or do you just make up your criteria as you go along?

      • David Says:

        Derek, i am not a professional historian. i am nothing more than a life-long bibliophile. i use common sense. i read broadly. i have interests and am pretty well-read in religion, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, literature, classical music. Alas, I am only an expert in the latter.
        i haven’t seen anyone here, including you, outline their methodology- why should i have to? i make arguments and i make counter-arguments. if these are insufficient for you, it’s not my problem.
        i’m dealing with disingenuous apologists who don’t even seem to care about truth, but are more concerned with rhetorically propping up undefendable assertions- i’m still flabbergasted from the outrageous suggestion (only recently corrected after a notable guest chimed in…) that christianity rapidly spread across “the whole world” shortly after its inception… and you ask ME for methodology! That’s rich!

        why do you ask me for a methodology but don’t state yours? why distract from the debate? if my reasoning is wrong, show me. if you can PROVE that the early christians couldn’t have fabricated/imagined christianity without magic, prove it! Certainly nobody here has done it. Just special pleading to hide the fact that humans throughout history have been very inventive when it comes to religion, and christianity is no exception.

      • Derek_M Says:

        “Derek, i am not a professional historian. i am nothing more than a life-long bibliophile. i use common sense.”

        Common sense is useful in getting through your daily life without injury, it is often deceptive in matters of truth. Common sense tells us that the Earth is flat.

        “i read broadly. i have interests and am pretty well-read in religion, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, literature, classical music. Alas, I am only an expert in the latter.”

        That is great, I read broadly as well. Reading broadly however is irrelevant to whether you have read quality material. You can read very broadly in alternative history, does that mean you have read anything of value? I doubt it.

        “i haven’t seen anyone here, including you, outline their methodology- why should i have to? i make arguments and i make counter-arguments. if these are insufficient for you, it’s not my problem.”

        Without proper methodology the arguments are almost always inherently flawed. What if someone decided to tear apart everything you know about Western music theory based on his incorrect assumption that George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Theory is true because it makes common sense to him? What if he was given a piano by the person he learned from that had been tuned to C Lydian on the white keys so he was well within his common sense to assume that the Major scale has an F# in it? This person could use his common sense to drive every proper music theorist up the wall and it would all be based on his own misunderstanding of the common methodology.

        You are challenging the author of the blog who has written a lot of things which rely on his methodology which you disagree with, yet others (such as myself) find his methodology agreeable in a lot of areas. Nick makes his method clear in his writing and you will see that most of the arguments in these comments have been based on the fact that you seem unable to free your mind of the universe being a closed system.

        “i’m dealing with disingenuous apologists who don’t even seem to care about truth, but are more concerned with rhetorically propping up undefendable assertions- i’m still flabbergasted from the outrageous suggestion (only recently corrected after a notable guest chimed in…) that christianity rapidly spread across “the whole world” shortly after its inception… and you ask ME for methodology! That’s rich!”

        How you know Nick or anyone else here doesn’t seem to care about the truth is beyond me. Do you have access to the personal psychology of the people you are insulting?

        Anyone “broadly read” in ancient history would know that the claim of the “whole world” in reference to Christianity was the known world. This is a common assumption that shows perhaps your broad reading has not been very useful.

        “why do you ask me for a methodology but don’t state yours? why distract from the debate? if my reasoning is wrong, show me. if you can PROVE that the early christians couldn’t have fabricated/imagined christianity without magic, prove it! Certainly nobody here has done it. Just special pleading to hide the fact that humans throughout history have been very inventive when it comes to religion, and christianity is no exception.”

        I am happy to state my methodology when necessary but since you have come in here swinging like a drunken sailor at everything in sight it would seem that you stating yours would be a great starting point.

        It seems to me that nobody has claimed that Christianity “couldn’t” have spread by fabrication, just that it is highly unlikely. History does not deal with deductive certainty so your choice of absolute language is troubling.

      • David Says:

        “How you know Nick or anyone else here doesn’t seem to care about the truth is beyond me. ”
        I know because I can read. Nick asserted that christianity spread across the whole world. I challenged him on this and pointed out how completely false those words were. At that point, if he were honest and arguing in good faith, he would have immediately clarified that he was using an anachronistic, provincial, Roman-centric expression that went out of vogue 2000 years ago, and that he in fact didn’t mean to communicate what his spoken words literally meant. But no- he showed his true colors by responding with, “False. Christianity in fact did spread across the whole world….” just like that, by ignoring the fact that i was taking his words literally (and not of course interpreting them in the provincial, ignorant way the ancients might have…) and giving him a chance to clarify, he instead showed that he is dishonest and disingenuous, more interested in “proving” me wrong than in aspiring to truth. It’s blind obstinancy, obsessively unwilling to make a concession to a perceived enemy. Typical tribalism and pride prompting a rhetorical defense against anything I say, simply because I’m not in the right tribe. Truth has nothing to do with it, apparently. Revealingly, he only corrected himself (but not to me (!)) when Tim O’Neil popped in. so he showed that he indeed knows his words were inaccurate in the context of the actual discussion. Why not be forthcoming with me? It’s clear. It’s because truth is not what he’s after- he’s wants dominance, regardless of how he gets it. It’s a very human, common tendency. Sorry you can’t admit the obvious.

        as I thought- you ask for my methodology and continue to decline to state yours. And no, Nick never outlined his methodology either. you depict me as coming here like a drunken sailor; I’m sorry if asking for actual evidence bothers your ilk so much. That’s all i’ve done- just ask for evidence to back up claims of wild miracles. Ya’ll can’t muster up anything other than ancient hearsay and spotty sourcing, which, when talking about mundane historical events may indeed be sufficient. But when talking about flying men and rising dead, that’s simply insufficient.
        Oh, you sometimes talk probability, but not when it’s against your side. Such as the probability that an omnipotent god would leave his vital message of salvation in the hands of illiterate peasants and keep most of the entire world (I’m using this phrase literally, not as ignorant ancients might) ignorant of the message for more than sixteen centuries, versus the more likely scenario of christianity being just another religion like all the rest; made and spread by man.
        Nobody here has proved it unlikely that ancients couldn’t have invented christianity. Nobody. just because you assert it, doesn’t make it so. and certainly nobody proved that less likely than men flying into space or rising from the dead, walking on water, etc… Not remotely! Not when we know that people from all cultures and epochs have invented every imaginable belief. Not when we know that ancient occupied palestine was a hot-bed of evolving, competing sects, of civil unrest and revolutionary/apocolyptical fever; factors quite favorable to produce the seeds of christianity. Not when we know and now better understand the psychological underpinnings of hallucinations/visions, group-think, the power of charismatic leaders over certain followers. Not that sociology has provided decades of research that shows how sects can indeed give comfort and offer advantages to the in-group, even when society at large disapproves or even persecutes.
        And your ilk throws it all out and simply asserts the magical, mythical tales of supermen are more likely. Without even demonstrating that the other non-magical elements couldn’t produce christianity. But no, I am the one who is asked for methodology! Even though I’m merely asserting that the probability is on the normal, simplest explanation- that man did what he always did and made something up.
        Belief in orthodox christianity simply necessates belief beyond what evidence can show (i.e. faith). Another example nobody can honestly defend is the notion that Jesus never sinned. Just how could anyone prove such? Really, there’s no amount of testimony that could EVER prove such, since we can sin with thought.
        special pleading is what you’re left with. Just call it faith and accept it.

      • Derek_M Says:

        My drunken sailor hypothesis grows in strength with every reply. David, how is it possible for someone like yourself to be so blind to your own errors while accusing others of the same thing?

        You speak of tribalism and then repeatedly use tribal language to refer to apologists (which you seem to define as any Christian who has the audacity to disagree with you). You condemn anachronism yet wish to apply your rudimentary understanding of sociological models and psychological diagnostic methods to the ancient world. You have proven my point about ignorance of methodology much better than I could.

        As for the “whole world” business, you appear to have fetishized that comment and are unable to see that Nick referred to you, not Tim, when he replied. You need to get off your high hobby horse and stop reading coloring books.

      • David Says:

        Okay Derek, you have offered no evidence for your side, but instead choose to attack me personally. Nor did you refute anything.
        I guess when your side lacks evidence for wild miraculous claims of flying men and death-defying man-gods, you quickly resort to insult.

      • David Says:

        Oh and further evidence of nick’s dishonesty comes from his own words addressed to Tim:
        “I know you don’t agree with me on miracles. I just didn’t state your worldview at the start since I was sure David would assume I was quoting another Christian”

        You see that? Nick is admitting that he deliberately misled me! Intellectual honesty? nope. arguing in good faith? nope. A sign of integrity or yet another clue to its absence? The latter.

        I just re-read Nick’s reply to Tim and see that he indeed directed his confession of inaccuracy (the “whole world” silliness) to me: my apologies for wrongly asserting that he directed it to Tim.
        Doesn’t change the record, however, which is that Nick used a literally false phrase to describe christianity- when challenged on it, however, instead of clarifying (i.e. admitting his words were indeed inaccurate since we are having a debate here in the 21st century…), he chose to dig in his heels and repeat his dishonesty. That’s shamefully dishonest. Just goes to show his true colors when challenged on wacky beliefs.

  7. cornelll Says:

    “And certainly if you are claiming your omnipotent god unleashed his amazing grand plan for the salvation of humanity, having at least one established historian note this amazing event would be orders of magnitude smarter and more competent than entrusting this vital, soul-preserving news to illiterate hillbillies.”

    And what exactly is an omnipotent God supposed to act like a posteriori? Seems like you just make up stuff as you go along including your own gods, oh wait Derek already said that….

    • David Says:

      As stated, minimal competence is what we’d expect from an omnipotent god. leaving the vital message for humanity in the hands of illiterate peasants who’s descendants would not even be aware of the western hemisphere for one thousand five hundred and sixty years has every hallmark of man-made religion and zero hallmarks of a divine essential message from an omnipotent god. Do you believe or do you not believe that Jesus preached a vital message of human salvation? If so, you won’t even use common sense and concede there are obviously better, faster, more reliable ways of getting out this important message?! Logic bears this out. You are left with special pleading.
      of course you object to my pointing out these flaws- they are an embarrassment to anyone claiming omnipotency and a universal message of salvation. Not to mention the glaring omission of ensuring that we know what Jesus really said. Not one message from omnipotent Jesus himself- not one word from any established, reliable historian. The work of man? yes. the work of a masterful god? clearly, emphatically, no. God is incompetent or not really that interested in spreading his word. History is unambiguous. Christianity was not a global message (despite the repeated, shockingly (and revealingly) dishonest claim here by apologianick) until serious exploration in the 18-20th centuries. It was provincial.* Eventually it spread, as did Islam and Mormonism. But it’s origins are unmistakably provincial and have all the hall-marks of man-made religion.

      *that it indeed spread throughout the roman world does not change the fact that most of humanity was unaware of it for centuries- most of africa, asia, australia and the eastern islands, and all of the americas, of course constitute far more land/cultures than the roman world.

  8. cornelll Says:

    “As stated, minimal competence is what we’d expect from an omnipotent god. leaving the vital message for humanity in the hands of illiterate peasants who’s descendants would not even be aware of the western hemisphere for one thousand five hundred and sixty years has every hallmark of man-made religion and zero hallmarks of a divine essential message from an omnipotent god. Do you believe or do you not believe that Jesus preached a vital message of human salvation? If so, you won’t even use common sense and concede there are obviously better, faster, more reliable ways of getting out this important message?! Logic bears this out. You are left with special pleading.”

    Really why is an omnipotence God OBLIGATED to make his message his known without the use of illiterate peasants? Why is God is even obligated to make his message be heard in the first place?

    Logic actually tells us that this is just silly on your part, and that you are an non-omnipotent being trying to tell an omnipotent being how to do his job.

    I don’t see humans as being in a good position to assess with confidence the probability that God lacks sufficient reasons for this scenario.

    According to William Alston There are 6 cognitive limitations that impair our judgments here:

    Lack of data,
    complexity greater than we can handle,
    difficulty in knowing what is metaphysically possible,
    ignorance of the range of possibilities,
    ignorance of the range of values,
    and limits of our capacity to make well-considered value judgments.

    You not only have a problem giving good reasons for WHY God is obligated to what you want him to do in the first place, but how you can possibly know what God ‘ought’ do to if a God existed.

    “of course you object to my pointing out these flaws- they are an embarrassment to anyone claiming omnipotency and a universal message of salvation. Not to mention the glaring omission of ensuring that we know what Jesus really said. Not one message from omnipotent Jesus himself- not one word from any established, reliable historian. The work of man? yes. the work of a masterful god? clearly, emphatically, no. God is incompetent or not really that interested in spreading his word. History is unambiguous. Christianity was not a global message (despite the repeated, shockingly (and revealingly) dishonest claim here by apologianick) until serious exploration in the 18-20th centuries. It was provincial.* Eventually it spread, as did Islam and Mormonism. But it’s origins are unmistakably provincial and have all the hall-marks of man-made religion.”

    So you admit that we can discern an incompetent God from a competent one, well which competent God’s are you using to make this observation? I personally think that it is virtually impossible to establish what a God is supposed to do a posteriori and how a God if a God existed should do his job.

    Sure we can argue God’s attributes, but telling a God how to do the job of a God is virtually impossible from our position.

    I just find it funny how people assume the position of omniscience/omnipotence to argue against an omniscient/omnipotent being..

    Oh and I think I’ve asked you 4 times now, how are you defining omnipotence?

    • David Says:

      as i said: Do you believe or do you not believe that Jesus preached a vital message of human salvation? If so, you won’t even use common sense and concede there are obviously better, faster, more reliable ways of getting out this important message?! Logic bears this out.

      I encourage you to actually think about what is alleged to have happened in the gospels, and then ask to what end. Then put on your thinking cap and imagine if there are better, more reliable, more efficient ways of spreading this amazing news of spiritual salvation…
      did god just not care about americans? or australians? most of sub-saharan africa? the inuit? northern europeans? or the people in east asia? if the omnipotent god decided that those people were fine without hearing about all the trouble he put his son/self through for their own salvation, what are we to make of that? your solution is to not ask questions, because god did it. well, sorry, some of us are curious, inquisitive, and yes, skeptical. So we don’t just say, “oh, that guy said god’s just so smart that we can’t figure it out!” Nope, that’s not sufficient at all to inquisitive people.

      Or dare we use occam’s razor and concede the obvious- christianity was made and spread by man just like every other religion. History leaves no choice but to conclude that no divine, omnipotent (or even pretty-potent) being was interested in or capable of spreading this message of ultimate importance for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. Those are the facts. If god wanted all people to know that He took the trouble of having a son be tortured to death for their sake, he most certainly didn’t lift an omnipotent finger for centuries. Facts. “But the plan is far beyond your comprehension,” you sputter. Right. and your proof is what? the fact that even a sixth grader could dream up better plans-of-salvation (while we’re at it, an omnipotent god could probably imagine a way to salvation that didn’t involve human sacrifice. that this god did not means he is either not too smart, not benevolent, or not that powerful. You choose.)?

      Of course you won’t do the thought experiment and imagine a better way of spreading the gospel, nor will you apply occam’s razor- you apparently have invested too much in the religion to concede the obvious. That’s okay, i remember feeling the same as a believer.

      I’m sorry you are so bothered by the fact that it’s laughably easy (child’s play, in fact) to show how shoddy god’s plan was to spread the gospel. i’m sorry it hurts your feelings to point out that there are far superior ways; ways that would in fact ensure that we all know the true words of jesus. your feeble protestations about my not being able to fathom god’s superior plan is simply more special pleading. You seem to say common sense doesn’t apply to god. faith. that’s what you’ve got. a lot of faith. at the expense of logic, reason, and common sense.

      omnipotent= all powerful. happy? i showed you mine- now you tell me your definition.

  9. cornelll Says:

    “as i said: Do you believe or do you not believe that Jesus preached a vital message of human salvation? If so, you won’t even use common sense and concede there are obviously better, faster, more reliable ways of getting out this important message?! Logic bears this out. ”

    Give me one better, faster, more reliable way of getting out this important message that doesn’t violate a forced choice into choosing Christianity, and that gives me every contingent fact from 2,000 years ago until now, as if you are trying to predict every chain event occurring to it’s most perfect conclusion.

    “I encourage you to actually think about what is alleged to have happened in the gospels, and then ask to what end. Then put on your thinking cap and imagine if there are better, more reliable, more efficient ways of spreading this amazing news of spiritual salvation…”

    You’re stalling, go ahead David, try playing God and tell us how a God is supposed to do it’s job. We will watch and give you moral support! You can do it David! (Uhhh actually I think it’s virtually impossible as a finite imperfect being, but you seem to know it all)

    “did god just not care about americans? or australians? most of sub-saharan africa? the inuit? northern europeans? or the people in east asia? if the omnipotent god decided that those people were fine without hearing about all the trouble he put his son/self through for their own salvation, what are we to make of that? your solution is to not ask questions, because god did it. well, sorry, some of us are curious, inquisitive, and yes, skeptical. So we don’t just say, “oh, that guy said god’s just so smart that we can’t figure it out!” Nope, that’s not sufficient at all to inquisitive people.”

    YEs and I’m skeptical of why God is obligated to do all these things that you are advising him to do, but I guess it’s all a matter of preference for you, right? So how was God supposed to do it, see my first response, I want every contingent fact as if you can predict the ripple effect of every human decision from 2,000 years ago until today. Go for it!!!!

    “Or dare we use occam’s razor and concede the obvious- christianity was made and spread by man just like every other religion. History leaves no choice but to conclude that no divine, omnipotent (or even pretty-potent) being was interested in or capable of spreading this message of ultimate importance for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. Those are the facts.”

    Doesn’t explain the origin of Christianity, why would someone follow a religion that posits an important testimony from a WOMAN of all people, in a time where women where viewed as second class citizens. I mean if Christianity is supposed to be BS, why in the world did they go against the norm and have so many embarrassing features to it? I mean Jesus was deceived by his own disciple, who the heck would want to follow a religion like that? Cmon man use some skepticism for once.

    “If god wanted all people to know that He took the trouble of having a son be tortured to death for their sake, he most certainly didn’t lift an omnipotent finger for centuries. Facts. “But the plan is far beyond your comprehension,” you sputter. Right. and your proof is what? the fact that even a sixth grader could dream up better plans-of-salvation (while we’re at it, an omnipotent god could probably imagine a way to salvation that didn’t involve human sacrifice. that this god did not means he is either not too smart, not benevolent, or not that powerful. You choose.)? ”

    Why should he? Don’t you think God values free-will? Would you rather God just force us all to believe in him? Well why not just make robots? Did you ever think for one second that maybe, just maybe God values a free decision over a forced decision to believe in him over a forced decision? If not do you honestly think that it is logically possible to force someone into freely doing something? Makes no sense, I thought you were a skeptic?

    “Of course you won’t do the thought experiment and imagine a better way of spreading the gospel, nor will you apply occam’s razor- you apparently have invested too much in the religion to concede the obvious. That’s okay, i remember feeling the same as a believer. ”

    Why do I have to do it? You’re the one playing God here, not me. I’m skeptical of the fact that we are in a position to know how a God would act down to a T, especially aposteriori, but you supposedly as a finite being have it all figured out, so please stop stalling and tell us how God should have done it, instead of trying to move the burden to me with your BS “cmon man can’t you see it’s common sense’ If it’s common sense then I should have seen a few reasons by now, but all I’ve seen so far is ‘David says it, therefore it must be true’ and that’s not really an argument, so please try harder.

    “I’m sorry you are so bothered by the fact that it’s laughably easy (child’s play, in fact) to show how shoddy god’s plan was to spread the gospel. i’m sorry it hurts your feelings to point out that there are far superior ways; ways that would in fact ensure that we all know the true words of jesus. your feeble protestations about my not being able to fathom god’s superior plan is simply more special pleading. You seem to say common sense doesn’t apply to god. faith. that’s what you’ve got. a lot of faith. at the expense of logic, reason, and common sense.”

    Wow all overtone and no substance, this long-winded response can easily be rebutted by just saying ‘NOU’

    “omnipotent= all powerful. happy? i showed you mine- now you tell me your definition”

    Ok so and can he do anything, or just do what’s logically possible?

    I think once you answer this, you’ll start to understand why you’re just dead wrong, and why you aren’t cut out to be a theologian.

    David’s theology is pretty entertaining though so far!

    • David Says:

      “Give me one better, faster, more reliable way of getting out this important message that doesn’t violate a forced choice into choosing Christianity, and that gives me every contingent fact from 2,000 years ago until now, as if you are trying to predict every chain event occurring to it’s most perfect conclusion.”

      Oh dear, you haven’t read your bible. You see, even in the gospels, plenty of people witnessed Jesus perform his wild miracles yet were not forced into choosing christianity. You imply that those who witnessed the amazing events of the gospel had no choice. But that’s simply false. I would encourage you to read the bible before commenting upon it.
      Therefore everything that flows from your first paragraph is nonsense, since it rests upon a false premise. If Jesus could do crazy things in front of people and they still had a choice, then obviously he could ensure people like me have proof of his magic and still I could have a choice.
      “Don’t you think God values free-will? Would you rather God just force us all to believe in him? Well why not just make robots? Did you ever think for one second that maybe, just maybe God values a free decision over a forced decision to believe in him over a forced decision?”
      As stated above, this is a false choice. Jesus alleged miracles on earth didn’t force anyone to believe.
      Why not make robots? great question, implying that only living in a life without real evidence of god do we have a choice to believe. Nonsense, as already stated, at least, if we can believe the gospels!
      Oh, as for life being perfect the way it is to give us a choice, that’s also easy to imagine a superior method that would eliminate actual, needless suffering. The creators of star trek are apparently much smarter than your god, since they imagine technology that SIMULATES real life, being indistinguishable to the real thing. God, had he been smarter, would have put us in one of those things to let our choices be free without SUFFERING! Yes, it’s child’s play showing how inept your god is.

      As to christianity’s embarrassing beginnings, i’m sorrry you are vastly ignorant of so many kooky beliefs in man; beliefs that span the spectrum, from radical pacifism to suicidal terrorism. Nothing is impossible for man to imagine; there are plenty of other non-rational belief systems that even surpass christianity. So the argument from embarrrassment most certainly not leave wild miracles the most likely explanation. Please read broadly and you’ll see a pattern… Of course, you’re eyes will have to be open, though.

  10. cornelll Says:

    “Oh dear, you haven’t read your bible. You see, even in the gospels, plenty of people witnessed Jesus perform his wild miracles yet were not forced into choosing christianity. You imply that those who witnessed the amazing events of the gospel had no choice. But that’s simply false. I would encourage you to read the bible before commenting upon it.”

    OK let’s see how this Bible interpretation works for you

    I mean I did read the Bible, but I don’t see how this helps your case.

    You didn’t answer my question, you might think that you did because of your tunnel vision, but I highly advise that you use some of your skepticism against your own claims.

    First off you commit a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy

    You assume that just because miracles worked then for Jesus, therefore it should always work. Well not only is this a post hock fallacy, but I see major problems here that you failed to acknowledge.

    First off, if miracles kept occurring by Jesus whilst in the process of trying to spread the message, then miracles ultimately become the norm and lose there meaning. Therefore why continue even calling it a miracle after a certain point, and where in this 2,000 year time period do we place the cut-off to which miracles lose its flavor?

    Also if God did miracles more often how do we know that these acts wouldn’t have ultimately changed the past leading to a ripple effect which ultimately undermines Christianity? So bye bye message

    Can you and your intelligence trace back every situation in the past 2,000 years and come up with a guideline that consistently shows us how if something changed in the past due to a miracle used to spread the message had the consequence of effecting the future for worse? Please by all means play God and go ahead, if you fail to do this then it looks like this child’s game as you call it isn’t really cut out for you and perhaps you should play with the infants.

    “Therefore everything that flows from your first paragraph is nonsense, since it rests upon a false premise. If Jesus could do crazy things in front of people and they still had a choice, then obviously he could ensure people like me have proof of his magic and still I could have a choice.”

    See above, all you do here is another post hoc ergo propter hoc

    “As stated above, this is a false choice. Jesus alleged miracles on earth didn’t force anyone to believe.”

    Miracles might be seen as something too easy to aid humans into believing, therefore it used sparingly. As far as not making the choice for us goes, maybe it doesn’t per se’ but it would be pretty strange to witness a miracle and then come out not believing the source of the miracle.

    I mean just imagine a naturalist watching his limb growing back, but yet coming out of as a naturalist. Sure it might not be forced, but it comes pretty close.

    You say “Why not make robots? great question, implying that only living in a life without real evidence of god do we have a choice to believe. ”

    Then you say “Nonsense, as already stated, at least, if we can believe the gospels!”

    Are you arguing with yourself?

    “Oh, as for life being perfect the way it is to give us a choice, that’s also easy to imagine a superior method that would eliminate actual, needless suffering.”

    What makes something needless suffering? Your opinion?

    ” The creators of star trek are apparently much smarter than your god, since they imagine technology that SIMULATES real life, being indistinguishable to the real thing. God, had he been smarter, would have put us in one of those things to let our choices be free without SUFFERING! Yes, it’s child’s play showing how inept your god is.”

    This is silly, why can’t suffering be necessary for achieving a greater good? When I go to the dentist I have no choice but to suffer, though the end result comes off good. So you have no argument here.

    “As to christianity’s embarrassing beginnings, i’m sorrry you are vastly ignorant of so many kooky beliefs in man; beliefs that span the spectrum, from radical pacifism to suicidal terrorism.”

    Can you give me an example, or do I just take your word for it?

    “Nothing is impossible for man to imagine;”

    Is it impossible to imagine this being false?

    ” there are plenty of other non-rational belief systems that even surpass christianity.”

    Such as? Complaints don’t equal arguments you know

    ” So the argument from embarrrassment most certainly not leave wild miracles the most likely explanation. Please read broadly and you’ll see a pattern… Of course, you’re eyes will have to be open, though.”

    It’s not an argument from embarrassment you abject ignoramus, it’s called the CRITERION of embarrassment which is used in the historical method, must I constantly hold you hand?

    Good luck with your cooky beliefs in thinking that an imperfect, finite being such as yourself can play God!

    • David Says:

      “You assume that just because miracles worked then for Jesus, therefore it should always work.”
      What are you talking about? I didn’t say that. Please quote me.

      “if miracles kept occurring by Jesus whilst in the process of trying to spread the message, then miracles ultimately become the norm and lose there meaning. Therefore why continue even calling it a miracle after a certain point, and where in this 2,000 year time period do we place the cut-off to which miracles lose its flavor?”
      Oh, but miracles still happen all the time! Please see Keener…

      “if God did miracles more often how do we know that these acts wouldn’t have ultimately changed the past leading to a ripple effect which ultimately undermines Christianity?”
      Because god’s omnipotent. He can do what he wants.

      “As far as not making the choice for us goes, maybe it doesn’t per se’ but it would be pretty strange to witness a miracle and then come out not believing the source of the miracle.”
      There’s plenty of evidence from the NT that suggests otherwise. Please re-read the NT.

      “What makes something needless suffering? Your opinion?” That’s right, both of us are offering our opinions here. Welcome to online forums. A child being raped in front of her parents being tortured, over years. That’s needless suffering. A child dying from bone cancer. Needless suffering. Earthquakes. Malaria. Typhoons. needless suffering. You can’t justify such other than saying “all part of a perfect plan that i can’t see the sense of either- but i have faith so end of discussion. and if you disagree i’ll call you ignoramus!” Unpersuasive, sorry.

      Suffering is part of the greater good? right okay. the millions killed by nazis so germany would have a good economy in the future and so that Israel would more likely become a nation. gotcha. it all happens for a reason (god’s pan). Which undermines free will… that debate never ended and we’ll never end it either.

      “Can you give me an example, or do I just take your word for it?”
      You are actually asking for examples of man’s kooky beliefs? oh dear, you really need to read more! Look up Heaven’s Gate cult. that’s one tiny example out of thousands and thousands and thousands…

      “why can’t suffering be necessary for achieving a greater good?”
      on human terms, it can be. if god cared about suffering, he could achieve greater good without so much of it (remember what omnipotent means?)

      “Good luck with your cooky beliefs in thinking that an imperfect, finite being such as yourself can play God!”
      I don’t play god. I simply look at the claims of the NT, and evaluate whether or not god could have done better at A) ensuring that everybody heard his vital message of salvation and B) ensuring that his message was accurately preserved for posterity. It’s called common sense. I encourage you to cultivate it.

  11. cornelll Says:

    “What are you talking about? I didn’t say that. Please quote me.”

    I asked you for this better way of God making his message known to everyone and this is what you responded with.

    “Oh dear, you haven’t read your bible. You see, even in the gospels, plenty of people witnessed Jesus perform his wild miracles yet were not forced into choosing christianity.”

    Do you even realize what you’re saying or are too caught up in your own BS that you can’t keep up with lies for the unconscious, purposeless, impersonal, unintelligent nature?

    “Oh, but miracles still happen all the time! Please see Keener…”

    How is that ‘all the time’ all the time means 100% of the time, Keener wasn’t arguing for that. Keep note of how many people there are on Earth, then look at how many miracles Kenner lists in the book, according to your logic everyone on Earth has witnessed a miracle. Please learn good semantics

    “Because god’s omnipotent. He can do what he wants.”

    I don’t agree to that definition, but let’s use it on your other responses, then maybe you’ll see why hardly any Theistic philosophers ever use it.

    “There’s plenty of evidence from the NT that suggests otherwise. Please re-read the NT.”

    If there is so much evidence that suggests otherwise then I would have expected a response from WITH AN EXAMPLE, that DEMONSTRATES your point. Are you that lazy, or are just full of it? Pick one

    “That’s right, both of us are offering our opinions here.”

    So then you agree that everything is all subjective, I can just reject this then.

    While we talking about subjective beliefs, what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? I ask because this is just as significant as your ‘opinion’ on what pointless suffering actually entails. Your argument only means something if you can point to OBJECTIVE pointless (or gratuitous) suffering.

    ” Welcome to online forums. A child being raped in front of her parents being tortured, over years. That’s needless suffering.”

    But if that results in better laws against rapists that ultimately stops many future rapes from happened, why is it needless suffering? Are you all for more rapes or something?

    ” A child dying from bone cancer. Needless suffering.”

    Sez who? Perhaps it gives more motivation for a doctor to find a cure, with this motivation doesn’t entail needless suffering, so you really need to try and be skeptical of your own position.

    ” Earthquakes. Malaria. Typhoons. needless suffering. ”

    That’s simple, don’t live in areas that have Earthquakes, not God’s fault. Do you blame God when a branch falls on your head too? The natural evil objection is just as bad as the moral evil objection. So are Earthquakes ‘evil’ if they happen and kill no one? Or do they just become ‘evil’ if they happen and many? I’m guessing the former right? BUt this means that there is nothing ‘evil’ in itself about Earthquakes, therefore your objection fails.

    You can’t justify such other than saying “all part of a perfect plan that i can’t see the sense of either- but i have faith so end of discussion. and if you disagree i’ll call you ignoramus!” Unpersuasive, sorry.”

    I do disagree see about, this is all part of a perfect plan, even if it wasn’t you have to argue for why God is OBLIGATED to create the best

    “Suffering is part of the greater good? right okay. the millions killed by nazis so germany would have a good economy in the future and so that Israel would more likely become a nation. gotcha. it all happens for a reason (god’s pan).”

    So what would you have liked? God to hold the Nazi’s hand and just say ‘stop’ ? If he has to do it for the Nazi’s then he might as well do it for everyone else, so why then would it be valuable for someone to do a bad act? The problem of evil is a garbage objection to God

    ” Which undermines free will… that debate never ended and we’ll never end it either.”

    it’s not just free will that causes a problem for the problem of evil, but the OBJECTIVENESS of this supposed evil, if it is indeed objective.

    Greg Koukl knocks this down

    ‘The more I learn about the Problem of Evil, it looks more to me a problem for the atheist than the theist.

    To a relativist: On one hand atheists want to make value judgements like God was wrong to this to Job, slavery was abhorrent and we have improved morally over that barbaric culture, the Nazi’s were wrong but then on the other hand on the other side of their mouth they are affirming moral relativism they have no transcedant anchor for these values, and hence they are lost in a sea of socio-culture relativism.

    To one who believes in Objective values, but no God:

    If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist
    Evil Exists
    Therefore objective values do exist, (some things are really evil)
    Therefore God exists

    Paradoxically…Without God, there are no foundations for “calling” anything Evil.

    Anyways,

    As C.S Lewis once stated: “I wouldn’t know what crooked was, unless I knew what straight was.”

    When people raise the problem of Evil, I simply ask them

    What do you mean by Evil? I want a definition.

    Evil seems like things that aren’t “ought to be”. They aren’t good like they should be, but they departed from good. So it turns out that Evil is a departure from good.

    Now keep in mind that the objection for Evil is based on the existence of Evil as a real feature of the world, not just a difference of opinion, peoples subjective preferences with morality. It is a matter of dealing with the real problem of Evil with the world, so that means when someone raises the objection to this problem of evil that means there must be some transcendent standard of Good, in which the Evil departs from.
    So what exactly are these foundations then? I can think of something above us in power that would set these foundations, can you?’

    QED

    Bye bye problem of evil

    “You are actually asking for examples of man’s kooky beliefs? oh dear, you really need to read more! Look up Heaven’s Gate cult. that’s one tiny example out of thousands and thousands and thousands… ”

    Are you telling me something about the way the universe is, and explaining something objective, or is this another one of your subjective opinions that really just boils down to a pointless, purposeless conglomeration such as yourself doing nothing but ’emoting’?

    “on human terms, it can be. if god cared about suffering, he could achieve greater good without so much of it (remember what omnipotent means?) ”

    This is special pleading, what you’re saying is it can work on human terms but not God, my oh my you really just make all this garbage as you go along don’t you?

    Anyways didn’t you say that God can do anything? Well if we use your naïve definition then this anything applies TO THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AS GOD CAN LET EVIL HAPPEN BUT YET STILL BE GOOD, so your own ignorance gets the better of you here.

    “I don’t play god. I simply look at the claims of the NT, and evaluate whether or not god could have done better at A) ensuring that everybody heard his vital message of salvation and B) ensuring that his message was accurately preserved for posterity. It’s called common sense. I encourage you to cultivate it.”

    I still see a lot of subjective thinking involved here, at least now you are starting to backpedal a bit with respect to you thinking you can play God.

  12. cornelll Says:

    David

    Now let me knock down your ignorance to the ground even further

    You said ‘God can do anything’

    But you don’t apply this to the problem of evil

    So you’re just being inconsistent only because you fail to be skeptical of your own position and that you argue with EMOTION rather than INTELLIGENCE.

    Let me spell this out for you if we use your layman definition of omnipotence you have absolutely no argument against God via the use of the Problem of evil.

    Here is why, if God can do anything THEN HE CAN DO CONTRADICTIONS

    Therefore,

    If God can perform contradictions, then God can allow all manner of evil while being perfectly good. Any atheist who likes the problem of evil as an argument against theism would do well to avoid the rock problem, since it gives theists a very quick and easy response to the problem of evil.

    You just happen to be that abject ignoramus who fails at theology and now it has come back to bite you. So please have fun with your layman definitions and come back when you actually learn something.

    David you seriously remind me of some Bible-Belt Fundy Westboro Baptist member playing devil’s advocate against his own beliefs.

    You really should be more skeptical of your own arguments and ditch this herp derpery that you call argumentation.

    ty

  13. cornelll Says:

    edit for above comment

    *Any atheist who likes the problem of evil as an argument against theism would do well to avoid the definition of omnipotence that entails ‘God can do anything”

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