Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jesus Is Risen

http://www.1bbb.org.uk/amicus/images/easter-empty-tomb.jpg

All praise to the Risen One. Let the peoples look and be amazed.
He Is Risen Indeed!

46 comments:

Chris said...

Where am I meant to look ? When I see him, how will I tell this "risen one" has actually risen from somewhere ? What's going to be amazing about it ?

I got an sms once from a friend. Said he was at my front door but I wouldn't be able to see him because he was invisible. I opened my front door and couldn't see anything. A miracle! My friend is invisible! Just as he said.

Rhology said...

Chris,

I wish you the best on this eve of the most blessed of days.
If you're serious about this,
Step 1 - Disabuse yourself of the notion that naturalism is the default, or even correct, worldview.
Step 2 - Listen to this debate on Christ's Resurrection, and ask yourself if it's really plausible given that naturalism is not defensible as a worldview.

You can know He rose from somewhere b/c everyone who knows anythg about the issue believes that Christ really died.
It's amazing b/c it doesn't happen every day, or even every millennia, that someone will say they're going to die, say why, say they're going to come back from the dead, say when they're going to come back, and then come back. Fine, it's not amazing for the extremely docile and cynical of heart. To me it is! At the very least it's highly bizarre, unusual, and telling.

Wow, your friend is invisible. So what?

Anyway, all that is if you're serious. If you're not serious, then best of luck offering arguments against all this.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris said...

Thanks Rhology, I'm enjoying the long weekend. Relaxation, drinks with friends and some delicious chocolate eggs.
I hope you are too.

You can know He rose from somewhere b/c everyone who knows anythg about the issue believes that Christ really died.

I think it's likely you're self selecting "everyone who knows anything about the issue", when actually you mean "people who agree with me".

I know of people who know about the issue who disagree.
Not to mention the Jews themselves..

I've read the link, which successfully bamboozled me with equations. I've never known for certain that naturalism is correct. But I do think it's the default. What's the alternative? I've never been able to figure out what the suggested alternative is when people disagree with naturalism. Except for "believe in whatever you want and pretend it's true."

Of course it would be amazing if Jesus really existed and died and came back.
I also agree it's highly bizarre and unusual.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Rhology,

I hope the Easter Bunny has rewarded you with a generous complement of Easter Eggs.

I just wanted to throw my voice into this discussion.

First, you often like to charge naturalists with question beggary, which you did with me in our first interaction. However, the charge rings hollow when you, yourself, have a question-begging presupposition: namely, the Bible's inerrancy. My chief presupposition, which I term First Principle, has to do with the centrality of evidence in the discovery of truth. Your First Principle relates to the perfection of the Bible, a book written some 2000 years ago by ignorant primitives living during our species’ bawling infancy. Any charge of question beggary is being hurled from a glass house.

Second, William Lane Craig, who is a very talented debater, makes a crucial mistake in many of his interlocutions. He implies that his opponent is a presuppositional naturalist, who, by means of his worldview, walls himself off from all evidence and argument vis-à-vis the resurrection tale. I suppose there might be a few presuppositional naturalists out there, but most of us are not. We are open to convincing evidence that is contrary to naturalism; we simply are underwhelmed by the evidence presented for Jesus' resurrection. One needn't even be a naturalist to feel this way; even a supernaturalist, such as you are, needs to sift through which hocus-pocus he believes and which he discounts.

Honest question: If the Bible, in its entirety, somehow were lost to history, would there still be sufficient evidence to substantiate the resurrection tale?

Rhology said...

Hi Chris,

I was referring to NT scholars and such. Even the Jesus Seminar, liberals' liberals, say that it is beyond reasonable doubt that Christ existed and was crucified.
For more, I refer you to this debate.

You know of "the Jews" who think Christ didn't exist? Do you mean the contemporaries or modern Jews?
1) If contemporaries, what do you know about them and how do you know they'd never heard of Christ?
2) If moderns, why should that matter?
3) How would you explain the rise of the Xtian church if Christ didn't even exist?

I've never known for certain that naturalism is correct. But I do think it's the default. What's the alternative?

Well, that's the thing. People think naturalism is the default, but that's just b/c of poor edjamakation.
Believe me, it's the exact same for me! It's almost a daily struggle to NOT see things naturalistically. It's an untenable worldview in many ways.
The best alternative is theism. There are other untenable alternatives out there, but why go from a bad worldview to a bad worldview? What's wrong with a good one?

Except for "believe in whatever you want and pretend it's true."

Well, I hope that talking to me will be a breath of fresh air for you. That's just stupid talk.

Of course it would be amazing if Jesus really existed and died and came back.
I also agree it's highly bizarre and unusual.


Cool, at least we agree on that! :-)



JN,

I hope the Easter Bunny has rewarded you with a generous complement of Easter Eggs.

You couldn't know this but I actually despise that friggin bunny. But I wish you oodles of chocolatey goodness as well! :-)


However, the charge rings hollow when you, yourself, have a question-begging presupposition: namely, the Bible's inerrancy.

Yes, I know. The reason I do that is b/c naturalists often like to trumpet "We don't take ANYTHING on faith!" and stupidities like that. I'm pointing out that they (and if you're a naturalist, you) take many things on faith.


My chief presupposition, which I term First Principle, has to do with the centrality of evidence in the discovery of truth.

Then you have some problems on your hands, such as producing evidence that evidence is central to discovering truth. And then producing evidence to back that. And then producing evidence to back that up.
That's an infinite regress, which I thank God my worldview doesn't force me to swallow.
And 2ndarily, you have to deal with the fact that if you offer a fact, you have to interpret it in order to find out whether it's evidence for your worldview or not. But if 2 diff worldviews can acct for the same fact, you have to move on to other facts, during which process one will presumably find a fact that one worldview accts for and the other doesn't. Then you have EVIDENCE FOR YOUR WORLDVIEW. You don't have evidence for your worldview if the competing worldview can also acct for that fact.


Your First Principle relates to the perfection of the Bible

You mistake me, but that's probably my fault. Let me clarify.
My 1st principle is that The God of the Bible (TGOTB) exists. Related to that is that He communicates with mankind.
He has done so thru the Bible. So it's more like a Second Principle, but it's close, yeah.


a book written some 2000 years ago by ignorant primitives living during our species’ bawling infancy.

1) Given evolutionary history, that's not that long ago for humans. Humans have been around a lot longer on evolution than on Young Earth Creation, so why say infancy?
2) What's your argument that they were ignorant primitives? Just b/c they wrote things you disagree with?
3) Are you assuming that everyone or most everyone in ancient times was ignorant and superstitiously ready to believe anythg?


He implies that his opponent is a presuppositional naturalist

1) If he does so, I'd say it's mostly justified when the opponent offers all sorts of screamingly stupid alternatives to the Resurrection of Christ. They can't bring themselves to allow for a miracle.
2) The debate I linked to above is different, though - Ludemann is a theist so Craig discusses that several times in there. I'd encourage you to take a listen for that reason alone.


If the Bible, in its entirety, somehow were lost to history, would there still be sufficient evidence to substantiate the resurrection tale?

Hmmm, that's a good question.
1) Do I still get access to the church fathers, who cover more than 90% of the NT's content in their quotations of it?
2) Some of those guys, like Polycarp, were disciples of Jesus' eyewitness disciples. They still claim the resurrection.
3) The very existence of the Christian church has a lot to say about this as well, especially its beginning since the disciples would have known FOR SURE that Jesus didn't rise if He hadn't. And they died for that lie, that they knew 100% was a lie? I doubt it.
4) The OT looks fwd in many ways and places to the fulfillment of the NT including being face to face with God in resurrection.

So obviously the info is worse off w/o the Bible, but it's far from dead even if you remove that.

Peace,
Rhology

Rintintin said...

But if 2 diff worldviews can acct for the same fact, you have to move on to other facts, during which process one will presumably find a fact that one worldview accts for and the other doesn't. Then you have EVIDENCE FOR YOUR WORLDVIEW. You don't have evidence for your worldview if the competing worldview can also acct for that fact.

I was in the midst of writing a longer reply, but I just wanted to quickly make a point on this -

1. the problem with certain views or hypotheses regarding the state of the world is that they can be used to account for any and every observation (eg some people see the commonality of DNA as the heritable material of all living organisms as evidence for a common creator, yet would also see a variety of different heritable materials as evidence of independent special creation). Alternatively, the absence of an explanation is often seen as evidence for a certain worldview (this is at least partly how ID works), without the requirement to provide evidence for the alternative claim (eg you have said a few times that if no naturalistic explanation that you consider suitable for the rebirth of Jesus after crucifixion is offered, then therefore the tale should be accepted as true).

In both cases, there is no way to discern any correct explanation under those worldviews since they 'explain' absolutely anything and everything, whereas acceptance of various naturalistic theories (eg T.o. evolution) can only be correct if certain specific observations are met, whilst it will be falsified if others are observed. Furthermore, there is no way to distinguish one supernatural effector from any other - the idea that the Christian God is the effector of all we see is no more testable or supportable than Allah, the FSM or invisible and highly talented insects being the supernatural effector.

2. Taken purely as facts, yes different worldviews can account for the same thing - eg in the absence of any other knowledge a particular fossil is merely just another dead creature. It could be a product of evolution, it could be a product of special creation.

However, this is where the power of naturalistic methodology takes over - as a theory must have predictive power as to what should be discovered in nature if said theory is accurate, the ability to confirm predictions with the required findings that are necessary to validate the theory goes beyond mere luck considering the precision of the focus of the predictions.

eg if we make a prediction that 'for our theory and previous observations to be correct, we should find a fossil in rock type X, in geographical location Y, with physical features A, B, C and D', this can (and has) yield/ed positive findings in a number of disciplines and investigations, which would be impossible under various alternative views of the world.

Invoking the 'trick from the devil' argument (or similar) doesn't really work either, because again that means we cannot have trust in anything, whether it be scientific or biblical/religious as we have no means to know which is trickery and which is genuine. I think as with most of the non-religious posters on your blog, a naturalistic worldview always leaves the door open for doubt and flexibility - eg if we saw a man resurrected today, it would begin to give Jesus' return from the dead more credibility. I'm not expecting it to happen of course, but it would certainly give us food for thought if it did.

Rhology said...

Hey RTT,

you have said a few times that if no naturalistic explanation that you consider suitable for the rebirth of Jesus after crucifixion is offered, then therefore the tale should be accepted as trueM

Ummm, no, I don't know if I would say that. If I did, I might retract on further reflection. Can you quote me?
Closer to what I'd say is: The evidence makes it so plausible that no alternative explanations I've seen can acct for it. Throw out naturalism as the big barrier, where miracles JUST CAN'T HAPPEN AND THAT'S THAT, DANG IT and there's a great case to be made.
In fact, I think that discussing the resurrection is a really really good way to draw out the huge assumptions and leaps of faith that naturalists make.

there is no way to discern any correct explanation under those worldviews since they 'explain' absolutely anything and everything

That's just the thing, though. Naturalism fails to explain quite a lot and is internally inconsistent.

the idea that the Christian God is the effector of all we see is no more testable or supportable than Allah, the FSM or invisible and highly talented insects being the supernatural effector.

100% wrong - they are testable by running internal critiques. Allah and FSM both fail the test badly.

Invoking the 'trick from the devil' argument (or similar) doesn't really work either, because again that means we cannot have trust in anything

I don't invoke that, though. The mistakes that evolutionists and old-earthers make in assuming an old earth is that they take some data (leaving out other data) that they like that were gathered using limited instrumentation, limited knowledge, and limited methodology and try to correct the eyewitness to the event. It's like going to the scene of an auto accident 10 yrs after it happened with a CSI team to see if you can reconstruct it while there's a perfectly reliable eyewitness who saw it all and can tell you what happened. Times a million.
It's a trick of your own mind and biases.

a naturalistic worldview always leaves the door open for doubt and flexibility

Let the reader judge. I've seen more than enough out of naturalists to know that the opposite is true - naturalism leads to inflexibility, the inability to accept counter-evidence that would support theism. B/c, hey, naturalism is a good deal! Evolution really happened! You're just a freaky fundamentalist!

if we saw a man resurrected today, it would begin to give Jesus' return from the dead more credibility.

I don't believe that for one second. The arguments and evidence for Jesus' resurrection are way more than one could ask for.
It's just like Jesus Himself said: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Seriously. Repent of your sin, ask Jesus to forgive you. He will. Ask Him to help you believe. Let your cry be the same as mine and the guy in the Gospels who brought his kid to Jesus for healing - "I do believe, please help my unbelief!"


Peace,
Rhology

The Jolly Nihilist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Jolly Nihilist said...

Yes, I know. The reason I do that is b/c naturalists often like to trumpet "We don't take ANYTHING on faith!" and stupidities like that. I'm pointing out that they (and if you're a naturalist, you) take many things on faith.

I am not quite sure I agree with that. I consider myself an evidentialist more than anything; that is, I am a naturalist only because, to this point, I have seen no convincing evidence that the supernatural exists. If convincing evidence of the supernatural were presented, and I could not naturally account for it, I presumably would become a supernaturalist. My loyalty is to evidence, not dogmatic naturalism.



Then you have some problems on your hands, such as producing evidence that evidence is central to discovering truth. And then producing evidence to back that. And then producing evidence to back that up.
That's an infinite regress, which I thank God my worldview doesn't force me to swallow.


Surely, you are familiar with a First Principle, Rhology. One typically does not attempt to prove one’s First Principle; it is taken as an axiom, from which to argue. The very name First Principle implies it is not reducible: It is the starting point. And, please notice, from my First Principle, I could arrive at naturalism OR supernaturalism.



And 2ndarily, you have to deal with the fact that if you offer a fact, you have to interpret it in order to find out whether it's evidence for your worldview or not. But if 2 diff worldviews can acct for the same fact, you have to move on to other facts, during which process one will presumably find a fact that one worldview accts for and the other doesn't. Then you have EVIDENCE FOR YOUR WORLDVIEW. You don't have evidence for your worldview if the competing worldview can also acct for that fact.

I agree with this. I am not a supernaturalist because, to this point, I have seen no convincing evidence that the supernatural exists. If and when such evidence is presented, I will reevaluate my naturalism. Again, my loyalty is only to the centrality of evidence. If there were a preacher who, upon calling out for Jesus’ intervention, could reliably bring corpses back to life, I would have a difficult time remaining a naturalist. The evidentialist in me would push me toward supernaturalism (if not Christianity). Nothing so convincing has happened.



You mistake me, but that's probably my fault. Let me clarify.
My 1st principle is that The God of the Bible (TGOTB) exists. Related to that is that He communicates with mankind.
He has done so thru the Bible. So it's more like a Second Principle, but it's close, yeah.


Thank you for clarifying. I must say, I think my First Principle is objectively more fair than your own. My axiom, dealing with evidence’s centrality, could bring me to naturalism OR supernaturalism…atheism OR theism. It all depends where the evidence shakes out. Your First Principle, it seems, is analogous to beginning a race at the finish line: It’s not an axiom but, rather, a rigged game.



1) Given evolutionary history, that's not that long ago for humans. Humans have been around a lot longer on evolution than on Young Earth Creation, so why say infancy?

I should have said “bawling intellectual infancy” because you are quite right: Modern forms of Homo sapiens make their first appearance roughly 195,000 years ago. But, do not forget, for much of our evolutionary history, we were nomadic tribes, hunters and gatherers. Modern-day organized living is rather new.



2) What's your argument that they were ignorant primitives? Just b/c they wrote things you disagree with?

Well, they objectively knew less facts than we do today. People living in Jesus’ time did not have a germ theory of disease. They did not have a heliocentric model of the solar system. They did not have a full understanding of why earthquakes or hurricanes occur. They did not realize the age of the universe (about 13.73 billion years) or the number of planets therein (perhaps 50,000 billion billion). They knew objectively less; therefore, in comparison, they can be deemed ignorant.



3) Are you assuming that everyone or most everyone in ancient times was ignorant and superstitiously ready to believe anythg?

I know that, during Jesus’ time, there were several savior figures wandering about, many of whom professed the ability to perform miracles. That tends to support the contention that the population was superstitiously inclined. Also, do not forget the story I told you of the woman in 1595 who was tortured/executed for allegedly raising a thunderstorm by filling a hole with wine and stirring it about with a stick. This was about 1550 years after Jesus’ death, and people still were behaving like primitives.



1) Do I still get access to the church fathers, who cover more than 90% of the NT's content in their quotations of it?

Perhaps my question was phrased clumsily. I really mean to ask this: What non-biblical corroboration can be found in the annals of history? That is, were there any secular chroniclers, who lived simultaneously with Jesus, who mentioned his doings? Even a secular chronicler who snickers at the Jesus story would be notable, if he were alive simultaneous to Jesus.



2) Some of those guys, like Polycarp, were disciples of Jesus' eyewitness disciples. They still claim the resurrection.

I am not sure Polycarp is a great example. Nobody is certain which “John” he was associated with, and there is doubt whether the John the Apostle is the same as John the Evangelist. It is all quite muddled.



3) The very existence of the Christian church has a lot to say about this as well, especially its beginning since the disciples would have known FOR SURE that Jesus didn't rise if He hadn't. And they died for that lie, that they knew 100% was a lie? I doubt it.

Are you familiar with the cargo cult phenomenon, the most notable of which is the John Frum cult? Although the analogy is not perfect, it does go to show how quickly a fantasy can take root, its origin can disappear and genuine belief can spread among a primitive population. The John Frum masses do not deliberately adhere to a falsehood; they are simply primitives, susceptible to delusion. The phenomenon is quite fascinating.

I often hear the argument that Christianity’s success as a religion speaks to its truth. I judge this unconvincing, finding myself more persuaded by the notion that Christianity’s ubiquity has to do with luck. That is, some religions had to succeed, and Christianity happened to thrive best. If time were rewound, and events played out all over again, perhaps the world’s dominant religion would be Mithraism. Then again, maybe not. Maybe Christianity was cleverly designed to persist by appealing to human desires, needs and fears.

Evolutionary biology has relevance here. For reasons that are too complex to get into in a comment box, the appearance of many modern species, including our own, probably was dependent on the persistence of a creature called Pikaia gracilens, the earliest known ancestor of all chordates. By this I mean, if the clock were rewound, and Pikaia did not survive this time, our species (and all other vertebrates) might never have come to be. This illustrates the degree to which chance dictates how things turn out. Sometimes, it is just dumb luck.

Rintintin said...

Hi Rhology, hope you had an enjoyable weekend


Ummm, no, I don't know if I would say that. If I did, I might retract on further reflection. Can you quote me?
Closer to what I'd say is: The evidence makes it so plausible that no alternative explanations I've seen can acct for it. Throw out naturalism as the big barrier, where miracles JUST CAN'T HAPPEN AND THAT'S THAT, DANG IT and there's a great case to be made.
In fact, I think that discussing the resurrection is a really really good way to draw out the huge assumptions and leaps of faith that naturalists make.


http://rhoblogy.blogspot.com/2008/01/naturalism-as-alchemy.html - your quotes:

Going back to Christ's resurrection, when all naturalistic explanations fail and fail miserably, that's when it's time for science to say "OK, we're done here and have little to say about it, but we sure haven't found any naturalistic explanation" rather than continue stubbornly to put fwd already-refuted ideas.

But when a claim to supernatural activity exists and all naturalistic explanations fail miserably, as I said above...

theistic methodology

I've explained that already.
Where claims to the supernatural exist, esp for a non-irrational worldview (ie, not a polytheistic/pagan one), don't assume that the natural explanation is definitely the right one, though it's certainly cool to seek natural causes. But sometimes the natural explanations are totally insufficient, like in the case of Christ's resurrection.


All the above point to you supporting the claim that in the absence of a known and/or (in your opinion) plausible natural explanation therefore the supernatural claim wins out, particularly if it is a Chrisitian claim. i can fill any unknown with a logically consistent supernatural explanation, with absolutely no way to tell if it is true or not as there is no way to differentiate between one unverifiable supernatural claim and any other. there are no end of examples of this style of thinking prior to naturalistic explanations being put forward and becoming accepted e.g. Angels pushing planets around and demons causing diseases.

I'm not necessarily saying 100% that miracles can or can't happen (I dont think they do as there is no evidence for them). As an example, if someone told me they'd seen a cup fall upwards when they dropped it, I'd put that in the 'miraculous' bracket, given that to the best of my knowledge every test of gravity thus far has resulted in the drop downwards - however, I would be forced to remain skeptical until a few more independent observers and myself had witnessed the same thing under controlled circumstances (supernatural claims have the strange habit of not being able to happen under controlled circumstances).

That's just the thing, though. Naturalism fails to explain quite a lot and is internally inconsistent.

There are currently many many things as yet unexplained by natural methodology, both amongst the 'big questions' such as origin of the universe, as well as more mundane things that only a few people take any real interest in. However, as we've discussed before, the naturalistic approach has gradually answered many questions in a satisfactory and effective manner, where in the past supernatural guesswork filled the void (eg I was looking at a poster today detailing some of the major achievements in pharmacology in the past 100 years, some of which may well have been attributed to supernatural causation in centuries past). Is there a reason why this track record of progress will suddenly come to a grinding halt? Furthermore, methodological naturalism is the way we work out problems on a daily basis - as far as I know there is no supernatural methodology that would be distinguishable from a guess/made up version of events.


100% wrong - they are testable by running internal critiques. Allah and FSM both fail the test badly.

not really - even if we grant the premise that the Bible tells a consistent story from start to finish, with no internal contradictions, all you have is a well written story (or selective translations/document choice, which is apparently the case with the gospels, since there were far more than just 4 taken into consideration prior to the compilation of the bible. Easy to come up with a consistent story if you just choose what fits and ignore what doesn't). There are many books that are consistent but filled with fantastic tales that clearly aren't true. So as long as any book tells a coherent and consistent story, then under your terms it can be considered an accurate representation of the world.

The problem is when you apply any form of external critique to the ideas supporting a major religion (or the FSM, or fantsasy novel), the claims fall apart or become suspicious:

1. Are the claims of a similar nature to other fantastic but untrue tales written by humans? You'd have to answer yes.
2. Are there examples of impossible ideas of a similar nature that you reject purely because they are non-biblical/obviously a fiction (eg Dr Who has a tardis that is bigger inside than out - likewise the ark would have to be the same to house all the animals it was reported to). Again you'd have to say yes i feel.
3. Are there examples of people who have followers claiming their leader to be the one true messiah, much like Christianity - yes, numerous both past and present (eg David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, pretty much any ancient God/prophet you care to mention). Furthermore, have these people been willing to make all kinds of sacrifices for said leaders, regardless of the lack of truth in their claims? Again, yes.
4. Can you constrain the designer the way you can with human designers ie know about his method of making things (such as matter/energy - the Christian God has to be both a creator and designer), when he does these things, why he does them (eg in the case of strange/inefficient designs) etc? You'd have to say that there is simply no way to do this, so how can you distinguish your choice of God from a made up but logically coherent God or Gods exisiting in an untestable supernatural realm? Again, this is not possible.
6. Does the world tie in with what testable claims are made in the bible. A fairly resounding 'no' on that one on a variety of fronts, from the talking snake to the man in the whale's belly for 3 days to the talking burning etc etc.

etc etc


I don't invoke that, though. The mistakes that evolutionists and old-earthers make in assuming an old earth is that they take some data (leaving out other data) that they like that were gathered using limited instrumentation, limited knowledge, and limited methodology and try to correct the eyewitness to the event. It's like going to the scene of an auto accident 10 yrs after it happened with a CSI team to see if you can reconstruct it while there's a perfectly reliable eyewitness who saw it all and can tell you what happened. Times a million.
It's a trick of your own mind and biases.



Can you give me examples of data that has just been ignored as it doesn't fit the hypothesis/theory? It's all very well making assertions, but you need to provide facts to back them up. remember, explaining anomalous results is not the same as ignoring data (as ICR are wont to do for their 'young earth' model, or ID proponents do for their irreducible complexity - I will give some examples below). Yes intially any methodology is limited. However, methodology improves with time. However, as you reject various methods supporting science that disagrees with the bible, realistically you should be advocating that a large number of convicted murderers be realeased as the methodologies used to convict them are in your eyes unreliable. Likewise for custody awards based on DNA matching techniques. Do you reject that the heritable material of living organisms is DNA, or that the human genome is 3 billion base pairs in length, or that very distant stars actually exist - after all if methodology cannot be relied on, all these things are now fraught with major problems. If you don't agree with this, why not?

Some examples of creationist/ID lies:

Behe - In dover Michael Behe stated there were no publications on evolution of the immune system. He was then presented with 50+ articles and several textbooks on the subject. He declared them insufficient. He was then asked if he had read them, to which he replied 'No'. Is he telepathic or something?

Philip Johnson - http://www.talkreason.org/articles/honesty.cfm (this is written by a Christian and well worth a read in case you are concerened about 'atheistic bias')

Duane Gish - http://www.holysmoke.org/gishlies.htm

Kent Hovind - "The second law of thermodynamics says: everything tends toward disorder". No. it. doesn't.

and there are a hell of a more available if you want them...


You have actually invoked the 'trick from the devil' idea (or more accurately 'trick to condemn me to hell by the Christian God', which was awful strange considering he's apparently desperate for me to believe in him as well as being the definition of good and love!) once before in one of our discussions on evolution and the fossil record:

http://rhoblogy.blogspot.com/2008/01/flying-lizards-with-big-beaks-that-eat.html

RTTHow do you account in the fossil record for a gradual change in morphology linking 2 supposedly unrelated taxa, in sequential order (irrespective of rock ages or not)?

RhologyThe fossils were placed there by God, so that your heart, which is not inclined to submit to Him in thought and ask Him how it all went down (since He was there and since He told us explicitly in Genesis 1-3), would receive a lie rather than the love of the truth and further your condemnation.



Let the reader judge. I've seen more than enough out of naturalists to know that the opposite is true - naturalism leads to inflexibility, the inability to accept counter-evidence that would support theism. B/c, hey, naturalism is a good deal! Evolution really happened! You're just a freaky fundamentalist!

Well, not in my case - if I'm going to state that evidence is important, I have to be willing to accept things that go against my personal opinion or tastes if the evidence supports the idea! However, you state that in many cases evidence is unimportant - would you realistically be saying the same if you were falsely accused of a crime for example? You would presumably say that merely making a statement is not enough and mutltiple lines of corroborating evidence would be required?


I don't believe that for one second. The arguments and evidence for Jesus' resurrection are way more than one could ask for.
It's just like Jesus Himself said: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Seriously. Repent of your sin, ask Jesus to forgive you. He will. Ask Him to help you believe. Let your cry be the same as mine and the guy in the Gospels who brought his kid to Jesus for healing - "I do believe, please help my unbelief!"


As soon as God shows up to prove his existence, or we see phenomena that break natural laws and tested theories whilst favourably supporting the claims in the bible, I will happily accept that he does exist. Until then I'll remain a skeptic.

Rhology said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhology said...

Hey JN,

Good deal - we agree that you have a 1st Principle based on faith.
Bad news, though. My 1st Principle is that the God of the Bible has revealed Himself in the Bible. You say:
My loyalty is to evidence, not dogmatic naturalism.

Let's call you an evidence-loyalist, just so we don't mix anythg up.
See, I'm an an-evidence-loyalist. I'm a theist, you're an a-theist. You're an evidence-loyalist, I'm an an-evidence-loyalist.
So I'm going to have to ask you to prove your 1st Principle, just as you're asking me to do for mine.

I'm leaving open the possibility that you perceive this question to be diff from me asking you for evidence of it. Just go whichever direction you like.

Can't do it? 2 questions:
1) Why insist that I must do so for my own 1st Principle?
2) Where do we go from here?


Peace,
Rhology

Chris said...

Hi Rhology,

Things have moved on since my last post, and so I think I'll go from what I see here.

I said: Except for "believe in whatever you want and pretend it's true."

Rhology said: Well, I hope that talking to me will be a breath of fresh air for you. That's just stupid talk.


Unfortunately talking to you hasn't been a breath of fresh air at all. Your last post says:

My 1st Principle is that the God of the Bible has revealed Himself in the Bible.

I don't really know why I bothered arguing with you for so long on other matters. I've heard you say similar stuff before, or a very unconvincing "proof" of a theistic god.

Your first principle is where it all goes wrong. I think you're a very logical person on your derivations based on that first principle, and you've managed to very well fit your world view into that principle.

But, cmon... What a first principle. I really don't see the difference between that and "believe what you want".

Oh, and I did listen to that mp3 of the resurrection. It reminded me of online discussions about the inconsistencies in Star Trek, and people trying to fit them into the Star Trek universe without admitting that it's all make believe.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Good deal - we agree that you have a 1st Principle based on faith.

This is true but, when one thinks about it, all First Principles are based upon faith. FP is an axiom from which to argue: Attempting to “prove” one’s FP is to deny the concept’s nature. The most that can be said is that a FP is self-subsisting; that is, the principle can be used to support itself. A FP that is not self-subsisting is probably incoherent. For example, “Mathematics is the sole way of discovering truth” seems to fall into incoherency.



Bad news, though. My 1st Principle is that the God of the Bible has revealed Himself in the Bible.

Yes, and you take this FP on faith. However, I maintain that, objectively speaking, my FP is fairer than your own (insofar as my axiom could take me to an atheistic OR theistic conclusion). For an evidentialist, such matters are decided based upon how the evidence shakes out. For you, the issue is decided before the argument even commences. Suppose you challenge me to a coin toss and, further, lay claim to “heads.” Then, suppose you pull a quarter from your pocket and lay it, “heads” up, on a table. Would you be justified in saying you won the toss? No…you chose to begin the race at the finish line, as it were. By the dictates of your FP, you cannot be anything but a theist.



Let's call you an evidence-loyalist, just so we don't mix anythg up.
See, I'm an an-evidence-loyalist. I'm a theist, you're an a-theist. You're an evidence-loyalist, I'm an an-evidence-loyalist.
So I'm going to have to ask you to prove your 1st Principle, just as you're asking me to do for mine.


Technically, I am not asking you to prove your FP with respect to yourself. Rather, I am saying that, if you wish for me to become a Christian, you shall have to demonstrate the correctness of your religion by appealing to evidence, rather than dogmatic, presuppositional theism. Irrespective of whether you believe me, I can conceive of evidence that would push me toward theism. For example, in an instant, Yahweh could carve his name onto the surface of the moon, in huge letters clearly visible from Earth. Or, god could give some pastors the ability to raise corpses from the dead, simply by invoking Jesus’ name. I guarantee you that, if there were well-evidenced supernatural occurrences, I would become a supernaturalist; I go where the evidence leads me. With no good evidence of a supernatural world, I find myself in the naturalist camp.



1) Why insist that I must do so for my own 1st Principle?

Again, you need not prove your FP to yourself; it is your FP, after all. But, your FP is irrelevant to me, just as my evidentialist FP is irrelevant to you. If you want me to become a Christian, the only path I shall take is the one of evidence.



2) Where do we go from here?

I do not know this answer. As I already said, against any evidence or potential new developments, by the dictates of your FP, you cannot be anything but a theist. By the dictates of my FP, only evidence shall budge me in my views. Perhaps we are at an impasse but, at the least, we do understand each other.

Rintintin said...

Following on from what Chris and the JN have said - this is my problem with your worldview also:

1. facts, hypotheses, tests, methods and conclusions are an absolute irrelevance, since by (your) definition, anything that contradicts the bible (and there's a lot of things that do), cannot be factual

2. The principle as Chris has said is no different to believing any old thing - I can make up a God, or pick a God posited by any religion past or present, and denounce anything that contradicts whatever phenomena I attribute to it as bias/inadequacy of the researcher/a falsehood etc

John Morales said...

Summary:

JN's first principle is based on reason and evidence, Rhology's on theology (supernatural revelation and faith).

R: Good deal - we agree that you have a 1st Principle based on faith.

Not so. They're ontologically different categories of faith.
Though a "1st Principle" is by definition a belief basis, JN is prepared to consider and change his beliefs on access to convincing new evidence, but Rhology is not.

I've seen no evidence that Rhology groks how JN's basis encompasses his own, as JN has pointed out.
Or, to put it yet another way, were the evidence otherwise JN would be a theist too, with no change in his "1st Principle".

Equating JN's metaphysical foundation with his own faith is making a category error.

David Bryan said...

It's about three weeks ahead of the gun for me, but -- "Indeed, He is risen!"

Had a conversation (very cordial, btw) with a Unitarian-Universalist athiest today at school--went through the typical "Resurrection myth is drawn from the pagan incarnation/resurrection myths" arguments. If you go just shy of halfway through THIS, you'll hear basically what I told him.

The debate in your first comment, Rhology, is a good one. Chris: why are you intent on equating the Palestine of the New Testament with the 23rd Century Federation of Planets? Why would Jews of the real first century so eagerly ascribe to this (according to you) fabrication within their own community if they were so in sync with their own reality?

merkur said...

"Why would Jews of the real first century so eagerly ascribe to this (according to you) fabrication within their own community if they were so in sync with their own reality?"

Because they were hoping for the imminent return of the Messiah and their liberation from Roman rule, who knows? Humans have a colossal capacity for self-delusion, so why do you suspect that first-century Jews were so different from everybody else?

Chris said...

Chris: why are you intent on equating the Palestine of the New Testament with the 23rd Century Federation of Planets?

My point was regarding the mp3, in which the two debaters assumed many things about the bible being true, and debated about the resurrection withing the context of those assumptions. My point being that they weren't questioning those assumptions. They were trying to fit the confusing and contradictory information in the bible into a consistent story. I pointed out it was just what nerds do with their favourite science fiction. But it doesn't make Star Trek reality.

Why would Jews of the real first century so eagerly ascribe to this (according to you) fabrication within their own community if they were so in sync with their own reality?

I never claimed Jews were in sync with their own reality (I'm not even 100% sure what that means.) I think all religious people are at least slightly out of touch with reality. What's your point ?

Rintintin said...

If you go just shy of halfway through THIS, you'll hear basically what I told him.

I listened to the whole link, i didn't hear anything new, just some special pleading ie 'because it's our book telling the story, and its centred around a man rather than a god (and even then that's a debatable statement), it must therefore be true'

he then quoted a few selections from the bible to reinforce his point, as if somehow quoting the bible proves the story must be, as he asserted early on, 'historical fact' - 'historical fact' in this case actually meaning 'i believe it therefore it is true'.

David Bryan said...

All,

Thanks for the responses. My time is limited, as I'm a teacher with two babies, so I'm not able to engage you as often as Rhology might. I'd like to note, though, first off, that I've observed a phenomenon of sorts in your responses that intrigues me. Y'all (forgive the drawl) have asked for empirical evidence for the resurrection. None can be given, imo, as it was a one-time, historical event. Nor is there any guarantee of reliable resurrection, for we are not to test our God. He does what He will. For me that is sufficient, though I'm well aware it won't be for you. Such is not my purpose here. Said purpose, rather, is to treat the one-time resurrection of Christ as a historical event. As such, I have to wonder how such an event can be treated with such skepticism in light of the implausibility of any of the alternatives, historically speaking.

So, to restate my basic idea, I'm not so much interested in the evidence that could be provided by a miraculous suspension of the laws of nature as I am in the integrity of the idea that a man, recorded in history, died on a roman cross, and his followers went on to proclaim Him as risen, giving up their very lives for said message.

I agree that there was a messianic hope within judaism at that time, yet Jesus' claims were highly controversial and it would have been very easy (and highly advantageous) for them to disprove the resurrection as "make believe." The apostles stole the body while the guards slept? Well, those guards would have been put to death...not to mention the complete and total turnaround from three days prior on the part of the apostles. From running like scared rabbits to overtaking a regiment of Roman killing machines in three days. Not bad for a bunch of illiterate fishermen.

The apostles went to the wrong tomb on Easter morning? You can bet the Jewish leaders had a vested interest in remembering where it was. They could have gone and pointed out the right one.

The point is, the New Testament gospel accounts, while not 100% identical (differing accounts of what the sign above Christ's cross said, for example, do not detract, imo, from their overall reliability), nevertheless all attest to events set in real time, in a real, historical setting, with non-fictional characters. Their purpose was not to proclaim some ahistorical myth but rather to proclaim a real historical occurrance.

To those who would immediately say, "Well, what if I simply doubt the veracity of the gospel accounts?" I would ask you: what universally-accepted historical documents which were the contemporaries of the New Testament call into immediate question the resurrection or even the existence of Jesus Christ? While it's debatable that the Roman annals' record of a Jesus from Nazareth who was put to death by crucifixion was OUR Jesus, Josephus' attesting to His existence tends to back up the Passion accounts. Given this, what plausible alternative can you give, historically speaking, for why the followers of Jesus went from denying and abandoning Him one moment to storming a tomb surrounded by a Roman garrison, rolling a several-ton stone up an incline themselves in the middle of the night, stealing the body, proclaiming a known lie that Christ had risen, then persisted in this lie even under threat (made good!) of death, when history at that time had little or no guarantee that they would eventually receive a favorable, martyr's place therein?

I simply see the resurrection of a crucified Jesus as an unavoidable conclusion, and thus claims to total naturalism don't ever ring true. I applaud the appeal to evidence that is your first principle (and even concede that it is a sounder, much less circular and more resilient first principle than given theism), yet I would appeal to that same principle that you examine the evidence as laid out both in biased Christian and in unbiased non-Christian works of the first century and come to some reasonable conclusion based on said evidence as to how something other than a supernatural vivification of a human body could have taken place, given the historical fruit of the proposed event.

Forgive me for this excruciatingly long post.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

The point is, the New Testament gospel accounts, while not 100% identical (differing accounts of what the sign above Christ's cross said, for example, do not detract, imo, from their overall reliability), nevertheless all attest to events set in real time, in a real, historical setting, with non-fictional characters. Their purpose was not to proclaim some ahistorical myth but rather to proclaim a real historical occurrance.

And each of the gospels—Mark, Matthew, Luke and John—was written decades after the alleged “fact.” Most scholars would argue that Mark was written around 70 CE. Matthew (between 80 and 85 CE) and Luke (between 80 and 90 CE) came afterwards, and John probably did not come until 90 or 100 CE. In all probability, the gospel writers never met Jesus at all, and were simply regurgitating stories passed around through oral tradition. Combine that analysis with the primitive ignorance of the time, and you absolutely have legitimate doubt.



To those who would immediately say, "Well, what if I simply doubt the veracity of the gospel accounts?" I would ask you: what universally-accepted historical documents which were the contemporaries of the New Testament call into immediate question the resurrection or even the existence of Jesus Christ?

I have a better question: Which secular chroniclers of history, who were living simultaneously with Jesus, mentioned the man or any of his doings? I believe the answer is none. Secular chroniclers only mention Jesus decades after his death. Also, when the Bible contains stories involving talking nonhuman animals (serpents and donkeys, for instance) and people living to be older than 900 (Noah and Adam, for example), credibility problems infect the rest of the cobbled-together tome.



While it's debatable that the Roman annals' record of a Jesus from Nazareth who was put to death by crucifixion was OUR Jesus, Josephus' attesting to His existence tends to back up the Passion accounts. Given this, what plausible alternative can you give, historically speaking, for why the followers of Jesus went from denying and abandoning Him one moment to storming a tomb surrounded by a Roman garrison, rolling a several-ton stone up an incline themselves in the middle of the night, stealing the body, proclaiming a known lie that Christ had risen, then persisted in this lie even under threat (made good!) of death, when history at that time had little or no guarantee that they would eventually receive a favorable, martyr's place therein?

Frankly, we have no idea whether any of these things happened. If the entirety of the Bible somehow were lost to history, how much of the aforequoted could you independently back up (citing only secular, objective sources)? Probably none of it, because no secular chroniclers of history, living simultaneous to the events, made note of Jesus or his doings. Secular historians only address this stuff after the fact. [Josephus was not even born when Jesus supposedly was executed and resurrected, so his accounts are worth little; they likely comprise a repetition of a repetition…an embellishment of an embellishment…a revision of a revision.] Again, I have to cite the cargo cults, in particular the John Frum cult, which go to show how quickly a fantasy can take root, its origin can be muddied and genuine belief can spread among a primitive population. During our species’ bawling intellectual infancy, an elaborate fantasy could be turned into a convincing truth in mere decades.



I simply see the resurrection of a crucified Jesus as an unavoidable conclusion, and thus claims to total naturalism don't ever ring true. I applaud the appeal to evidence that is your first principle (and even concede that it is a sounder, much less circular and more resilient first principle than given theism), yet I would appeal to that same principle that you examine the evidence as laid out both in biased Christian and in unbiased non-Christian works of the first century and come to some reasonable conclusion based on said evidence as to how something other than a supernatural vivification of a human body could have taken place, given the historical fruit of the proposed event.

You seem to find testimony and “eyewitness accounts” far more convincing than I do. I subscribe to the notion that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary substantiation. I question whether “eyewitness accounts” ever could be considered extraordinary substantiation, given our species’ tendencies toward delusion, deception and confusion. Those tendencies are exacerbated by the rampant primitiveness and ignorance of the day. I told Rhology the story of a woman who, in 1595, was tortured and executed as a witch for having raised a thunderstorm by pouring wine in a hole and stirring it about with a stick. This was some 1550 years AFTER Jesus’ death, and people STILL were behaving as if they had not emerged from the dismal cave of ignorance.

Chalk it up to a superstitious and mildly lunatic population.

John Morales said...

The point is arguable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_historical_Jesus

John Morales said...

David, what about the resurrection of Lazarus?
(John 11:38-44)

Is that historical?
Shouldn't it be as miraculous and convincing as the second resurrection (Jesus)?

It brings to mind the old Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren", where McCoy prepares a serum and injects Captain Kirk and Spock with it to give them telekinetic powers.

It was never mentioned again, which is a shame, it would've come in handy.

A plot device, never used again.

Paul C said...

David (and others):

Arriving late to this discussion, it seems clear that a number of the contentions expresed by JN, JM and the rest have nothing to do with the veracity of the biblical accounts per se - although as John Morales has pointed out, there is a serious historical debate about that very issue, and the evidence is not as conclusive as some Christians believe.

When faced with the bible as a historical document, that's exactly the way that we view it - as a historical document, with no privileges attached to it. Given what we know about human psychology, the transmission of histories (particularly oral histories) and the particular milieu of that time, we can at the very least express serious doubt about whether accounts written some time after the fact - even if based on eyewitness testimony - can be taken on face value.

We know that human beings can be honestly mistaken about what they see and hear, particularly in times of emotional stress. Mass hysteria is a common phenomenon, as is the spreading of popular myths (such as the Angels of Mons). People have sacrificed themselves for their beliefs all over the world, yet that sacrifice is not proof of those beliefs (that "historical fruit"). If you go to the Middle East today - or any part of the world where large numbers of the population are not well-educated and lack access to a range of media sources - you will find numerous examples of stories that are taken as true but have no (or very limited) factual basis. In our culture, urban legends spread and stick very rapidly - and interestingly the internet has magnified this effect, suggesting that humans have a predisposition for believing the fantastic.

Given all these factors, a "reasonable conclusion... as to how something other than a supernatural vivification of a human body could have taken place" seems fairly obvious. There were a lot of people heavily invested in their leader, a lot of confusion around his death, a charged political atmosphere, information spread solely by personal communication, a pre-existing messianic tradition - the perfect environment for this sort of myth to spring up. I find that to be an entirely reasonable proposition - don't you?

Rhology said...

Paul C,

It wasn't the environment for the Messiah to spring up. Nobody expected the Messiah to come and die 1st. They expected him to conquer.

Question - who here thinks Socrates was a real person in time and space? Do you believe he lived approximately when historians have dated him to live? Do you believe he said the things he is reported to have said?

Paul C said...

Yes. On the other hand, nobody is claiming that Socrates rose from the dead. And nobody's claiming that if you don't believe in Socrates then you'll go straight to hell. And nobody's claiming that Socrates is the only basis for logic. And even if Socrates was a wholly fictional character, the philosophical arguments attributed to him would still have validity.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, I think.

Rhology said...

Fine, fine.
WHY do you believe that stuff about Socrates?
I'm asking these questions to meet you on your own terms, as you set out in the previous comment.

Rintintin said...

"Question - who here thinks Socrates was a real person in time and space? Do you believe he lived approximately when historians have dated him to live? Do you believe he said the things he is reported to have said?"

As far as I'm aware, noone is contending that Socrates was able to bend the laws of nature at will, nor are they backing up the events in the centuries leading up to his life with a series of stories that, to put it mildly, may contain a little artistic license. So, at the least, the saying that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' doesn't seem to apply here - no more than it would for a history of the life of Abe Lincoln or Adolf Hitler at least, since no such claims are being made.

However, most historians would happily acknowledge that even with this in mind, it is difficult to build a picture of Socrates life since he didn't leave any writings himself and many details of his life are unclear from the writings of the likes of Plato and Xenophon, who apparently held an idealised view of him.

Other philosophers like Aristotle touch on Socrates life, without the same reverence. The satirist Aristophanes wrote about Socrates, but from what I know historians regard that his views could be biased and/or exaggerated (or even just made up).

Similarly, it isn't unreasonable to accept that there may have been a man or men in Palestine around 2000 years ago resembling some of the characteristics of Jesus (eg a carpenter/preacher) - however, a lot of the sources regarding Socrates' life are acknowledged as potentially biased or misleading, whereas you are claiming absolute inerrancy and complete truth of the documents comprising the bible and the life of Jesus, despite a) similar problems faced by those wanting to know about Socrates' existence (such as conflicting documentation - eg from what I have read, several gospels beyond the 4 in the bible were considered) and b) claims that go well beyond the level of anything being argued for about Socrates' life, which is where the major difference lies.

Paul C said...

On the basis of limited contemporary sources, which is the same reason that I believe similar things about Jesus. rintintin makes a good point about the limits of that belief.

I think you might have missed my point, though. Perhaps you should read my post again, rather than ignoring it and ploughing on with a line of questioning that is largely irrelevant if you read my post.

Rhology said...

Hey RTT,

I was just wondering what you'd say about Socrates.
The main point at hand here is: Why dispute the Gospel accounts, beyond the fact that you (insert expression of awe: You mean, the almighty YOU?) think they're improbable?
There ARE 4 of them, you know. They corroborate each other. Their authors died for sthg they would have known for sure was a lie if they are a lie.

from what I know historians regard that his views could be biased and/or exaggerated

Alot of that is b/c the only accts of Soc were written multiple hundreds of yrs later, as opposed to the Gospels.

it isn't unreasonable to accept that there may have been a man or men in Palestine around 2000 years ago resembling some of the characteristics of Jesus

1) But not all.
2) Who predicted their own deaths?
3) And their own resurrections?
4) And fit hundreds of prophecies?

several gospels beyond the 4 in the bible were considered

You mean like the Gnostic Gospels, written a hundred years + after the events?
The ones that are clearly written with a Gnostic agenda?
The ones that contain bizarre language that sometimes makes ZERO sense?
What do you mean "considered"? By whom? When?
(Hint: The answer is not "a council voted on the Canon".)


Paul C,

And nobody's claiming that Socrates is the only basis for logic.

Well, if the Gospels are uncorroborated on the whole by any contemporary source, that touches that question not at all. You'd have to deal with the argument itself.

nobody is claiming that Socrates rose from the dead

But more than 5 sources are claiming that Jesus did. It seems that your main issue is that you just don't think it's plausible, but your reasoning seems to come down to your bias against that idea. These guys knew what happened, and they died for it. If it were a lie, why die for it? This is wholly different than today's jihadist murder-bombers, who don't KNOW that Islam is a deception. These disciples of Jesus would have KNOWN that they were the ones who'd removed the body, or hadn't really seen the risen Lord. You don't die, en masse, under torture, for lies like that.


Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

It seems that your main issue is that you just don't think it's plausible, but your reasoning seems to come down to your bias against that idea.

No, my reasoning comes down to the same argument that was first outlined by Hume in Part IX of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, "On Miracles".

These guys knew what happened, and they died for it. If it were a lie, why die for it?

There isn't a brute dichotomy between the disciples being entirely honest or entirely dishonest; there's an entire spectrum of "being human" in the middle.

There's also the problem that you're assuming the Bible accounts are entirely accurate in their description of the resurrection of Jesus. Since your belief in the resurrection of Jesus is the source of your assumption that the Bible is entirely accurate, you've painted yourself into a corner. This may be a firm basis for your belief - and that's fine - but it provides you with no basis whatsoever for persuading anybody else.

This is wholly different than today's jihadist murder-bombers, who don't KNOW that Islam is a deception.

What about the early Islamic martyrs, then, the ones who actually lived at the same time as Mohammed? Presumably they would have to have known that Islam was a deception - and yet they still died for it. How do they fit into your schema?

These disciples of Jesus would have KNOWN that they were the ones who'd removed the body, or hadn't really seen the risen Lord.

I haven't claimed that they were the ones who removed the body. We've already established that people sometimes see things that aren't there, or mistake some things for other things. We've already established that the gospels present a picture of a confused, desperate group of people in a highly charged emotional atmosphere with a lot at stake. Do I think they believed what they died for was true? Absolutely. Do I think that this is sufficient evidence for anybody else to believe? Absolutely not.

John Morales said...

Dave?

[crickets chirping]

Rhology said...

John,

David is a teacher and has 2 young children, and it's nearing the end of the school yr. I wouldn't expect him back here. Sorry. :-(

But I'll answer, if you want. Yes, the acct of Lazarus' resurrection is a historical acct. On the contrary, he IS mentioned again in the Gospels. See John 12.

But even for the sake of argument, what diff would it make that he were never mentioned again?




Paul C,
Good talking to you.

Ah yes, the good ol' "That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless..." from Hume.
Begs a few responses:
1) Base your response on Hume if you want, but I want to know for YOU: On what basis do you establish the a priori improbability of a miracle's occurring?
2) This illustrates the importance of presuppositions. You presuppose naturalism, so it's much more unlikely that a miracle occur. I presuppose that the God of the Bible lives, and TGOTB performs miracles from time to time and yet has established that miracles have specific meanings and signatory significance, so one should not necessarily expect them every day. They are surprising and unusual for a reason (if they were commonplace, they wouldn't be surprising!).
3) This also illustrates that you are not neutral in this. You have a position already. Naturalism is, however, total bunk. I suggest you find another worldview.
4) This is exactly what I was saying in the last comment, but I didn't say it quite like Hume. No biggie.

there's an entire spectrum of "being human" in the middle.

So, more than several dozen people were mistaken about investing all their messianic hopes in a guy, seeing those hopes dashed, then seeing the tomb empty and having Jesus appear to them, risen? And they all died for disparate memories like that, confessing, coincidentally, the same thing?

you're assuming the Bible accounts are entirely accurate in their description of the resurrection of Jesus.

1) Historians assume ALL historical accts innocent until proven guilty.
2) See the above acct - these guys had everythg to lose if this was wrong, and they DID lose it. For a lie or mistake, if what you're saying is true.


What about the early Islamic martyrs, then, the ones who actually lived at the same time as Mohammed?

They weren't in a position to KNOW that Mohammed wasn't receiving revelation from Allah. This is nothing alike!
Every counterexample you bring forth has served to make the distinction that much more pointed.

We've already established that people sometimes see things that aren't there, or mistake some things for other things.

By the dozens and hundreds, under pain of ostracisation, persecution, torture, and death? For sthg they would have KNOWN was a lie?

This is why I like talking about this. Every objection shows how desperately one has to be committed to naturalism to try to figure out how it could have happened. It cracks me up.


Peace,
Rhology

Rintintin said...

Hi, sorry, i'd forgotten about this thread and just noticed you'd posted a response:


I was just wondering what you'd say about Socrates.
The main point at hand here is: Why dispute the Gospel accounts, beyond the fact that you (insert expression of awe: You mean, the almighty YOU?) think they're improbable?
There ARE 4 of them, you know. They corroborate each other. Their authors died for sthg they would have known for sure was a lie if they are a lie.


I don't think they're improbable. I think they're impossible. Just like I think the nonsense claims of Uri Geller, psychics, tarot card readers, astrologers, dead-raisers and would be man-Gods in this day and age are impossible or fantasies. I posted before regarding other things that compare with some of the claims in the bible that you would no doubt agree are absolute fantasy. There is no reason to believe the fantastic claims of one group of people and not the others. So what if the stories corroborate - if you are just recycling a story via oral and written tradition, its not that unlikely that a few people are going to come up with the same thing, especially if you only pick the ones that support a particular viewpoint or are consistent.

People died for the likes of David Koresh and believed the rubbish he was telling them was truthful - there are lots of other examples of the same behaviour. Some people will believe anything Sun Myung Moon tells them, even though they are in a position to know that he is not the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. You'd agree Koresh and Moon are liars/fantasists I'd assume?

Alot of that is b/c the only accts of Soc were written multiple hundreds of yrs later, as opposed to the Gospels.

Apparently the gospels were written many years after the proposed time of Jesus' life/death. Some accounts of Socrates come from or around the proposed time of his life, not hundreds of years later, and I have acknowledged some may not be a completely fair account of him.

it isn't unreasonable to accept that there may have been a man or men in Palestine around 2000 years ago resembling some of the characteristics of Jesus

1) But not all.
2) Who predicted their own deaths?
3) And their own resurrections?
4) And fit hundreds of prophecies?


1. I would say that no, there was no man that fit all the proposed charateristics of Jesus. Some yes, all no. I think you can guess which ones I think 'No' for ;) .
2. Anyone can predict their own death - it isn't that hard to ensure it happens if someone really feels the need!
3. I can predict my own resurrection to occur after my eventual death - I would bet money that I'd be able to find a group of people even in this day and age that would believe and insist it actually happened whether it did or not.
4. it's not particularly difficult to bend a story so that a real person suddenly emodies or 'confirms' a lot of fictional events.

several gospels beyond the 4 in the bible were considered

You mean like the Gnostic Gospels, written a hundred years + after the events?
The ones that are clearly written with a Gnostic agenda?
The ones that contain bizarre language that sometimes makes ZERO sense?
What do you mean "considered"? By whom? When?
(Hint: The answer is not "a council voted on the Canon".)


As opposed to the 4 biblical gospels written with an agenda many years after the event? Where's the difference? From what I have read there were upwards of 30 considered, including alternative versions of the Gospel of Luke, as well as various Christian groups that put different emphasis on what writings regarding Jesus they considered important. I think there were a few people, such as Irenaeus about 2 centuries or so before any Catholic Council that advocated 4 gospels and 4 only.

John Morales said...

Fair enough Rhology, and I apologise to David.

Y'all (forgive the drawl) have asked for empirical evidence for the resurrection. None can be given, imo, as it was a one-time, historical event.

Well, not according to the Bible.

Paul C said...

On what basis do you establish the a priori improbability of a miracle's occurring?

A miracle is by definition improbable.

You presuppose naturalism, so it's much more unlikely that a miracle occur.

No, it isn't. If I subscribe to naturalism, it may be much more unlikely that I will expect a miracle to occur, but my expectations have no bearing on the likelihood of a miracle happening.

So, more than several dozen people were mistaken.... these guys had everythg to lose if this was wrong, and they DID lose it. For a lie or mistake, if what you're saying is true.

Are you disagreeing that people make mistakes, believe things that appear extremely unlikely, and are prepared to die for their beliefs?

(Note: Since their beliefs told them that they would be granted eternal life after death, they wouldn't have believed that they were losing anything.)

Historians assume ALL historical accts innocent until proven guilty.

No, it's the reverse. Historians seek to establish the authenticity of any source, but even if accepted as a genuine source, is not accepted without question. You yourself gave an example - our account of Socrates' life is by no means agreed to be entirely accurate, the sources that we draw on are acknowledged to be biased and many details are disputed.

They weren't in a position to KNOW that Mohammed wasn't receiving revelation from Allah. This is nothing alike!

Could you explain how the two are "nothing alike", since they appear to be - to all intents and purposes - indistinguishable?

"Every objection shows how desperately one has to be committed to naturalism to try to figure out how it could have happened.

My position is that people make mistakes, believe strange things and die for their beliefs - none of these observations require any commitment to naturalism, theism or any other philosophical approach. You can see examples of all three of these every single day just by stepping outside, so I'm not sure why you think this is a sign of desperation?

Rhology said...

John,

Lazarus was only raised one time. I would guess that's what David Bryan meant.


Paul C,

I didn't ask you WHETHER a miracle is improbable. Please answer the question.

Are you disagreeing that people make mistakes, believe things that appear extremely unlikely, and are prepared to die for their beliefs?

You keep misrepresenting the situation.
These are
1) many dozens of people
2) who had based their entire lives on this
3) only to see their hopes dashed
4) and watch their lives fall apart
5) with the prospect of being thrown out of the synagogue, around which their devotion to God revolved
6) and which would mean ostracisation from their community
7) perhaps facing execution themselves

and you think they just goofed? Whoops! Please.
They would have known it was a LIE. This is very different from the scenarios you keep tossing out.


Since their beliefs told them that they would be granted eternal life after death, they wouldn't have believed that they were losing anything

That must be why they all hid when Jesus was arrested and when He was crucified. Why Peter wouldn't even stand up to a servant girl. Why only one disciple attended the Crucifixion. Why none of the men even went to the tomb Pascha morning.

No, it's the reverse.

I'm very sorry, but you're just wrong on this. If you can't even get this right, I don't see what use any further discussion on this topic is.

even if accepted as a genuine source, is not accepted without question.

Which is not what you said. Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.
And I never said "without question". Please try to be more precise with your language.

many details are disputed.

Which is a good reason to treat it as suspect. But you don't GO INTO IT with the expectation that it will be wrong. You go into it with the expectation that it will be right.

Could you explain how the two are "nothing alike", since they appear to be - to all intents and purposes - indistinguishable?

B/c the disciples of Christ were claiming to have seen Him, risen, THEMSELVES. With their own two eyes.
The disciples of Moh had to take Moh's word for it that he was receiving revelation from God. He had alot to gain from lying about it. Moh's disciples were not in a position to know FOR SURE that he was lying.

You can see examples of all three of these every single day just by stepping outside, so I'm not sure why you think this is a sign of desperation?

The very fact that you keep misrepresenting the situation and shifting the goalposts is ample evidence of your desperation and commitment to naturalistic explanations.
Show me a hypothesis that takes into acct even most of the facts and I'll be duly impressed. You've got a ways to go here.

Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

I've noticed that your arguments tend to wander, so I will focus on some key issues. If I have left an issue out, that does not mean that I am conceding it, only that I think it is secondary to the discussion.

I didn't ask you WHETHER a miracle is improbable.

You asked me "On what basis do you establish the a priori improbability of a miracle's occurring?" The basis is that a miracle is by definition improbable.

and you think they just goofed? Whoops! Please.

You mischaracterise my position entirely. I say that people in general make mistakes (by which I do not mean they "goofed", only that they make errors in their thinking), believe things that appear extremely unlikely and are prepared to die for their beliefs. Do you deny that people frequently fall victim to these three things? If so, then we probably don't have any grounds for discussion, since you are not describing the world with which I am familiar. If you accept these three points, then it must raise questions about post-resurrection accounts.

They would have known it was a LIE. This is very different from the scenarios you keep tossing out.

You offer a false dichotomy between the disciples being entirely honest or entirely dishonest. I don't accept this dichotomy, and neither should you. Given the fallibility and fragility of the human mind - particularly in very stressful situations - it seems more likely that the disciples were at neither extreme. Many people in the United States genuinely believe that they have been kidnapped by aliens; I believe them to be mistaken, but that doesn't mean that they're lying, since they believe it to be the truth. Do you see the difference?

But you don't GO INTO IT with the expectation that it will be wrong. You go into it with the expectation that it will be right.

You expect that it will accurately reflect the beliefs of the author, but that does not mean that you expect it to accurately reflect what actually happened. Let me give you an example: Hitler's "Mein Kampf" plays a critical role in understanding twentieth-century history. It is an entirely genuine historical document - written by Hitler and reflecting his thoughts. However you would not read "Mein Kampf" expecting it to be an honest account of history - you must take into account the bias that Hitler brings to it.

The very fact that you keep misrepresenting the situation and shifting the goalposts is ample evidence of your desperation and commitment to naturalistic explanations.

Reading back my comments on this thread, I've not said anything specific about the situation - I've only raised points that non-Christians (and many Christians) have identified as weaknesses in the accuracy of the gospel accounts. I have said nothing about whether the gospel accounts are true or not, and I have not "misrepresented" the situation.

Show me a hypothesis that takes into acct even most of the facts and I'll be duly impressed.

Why must I provide you with a hypothesis? You're the one that is making a specific claim about an extraordinary event. In addition, you are calling things "facts" which have not yet been accepted as such - first of all you must persuade me that they are facts. Once you have done this, then we can discuss which hypothesis best explains those facts.

Rhology said...

Paul,

Sorry that I wander. I don't focus well, 'tis true. ADD much? Ritalin-boy? Maybe I need some.

So I ask you whether a miracle is improbable and you repeat yourself. OK, thanks, I guess.

Yes, people goof, but I mentioned several reasons why we should reasonably consider an error in this case to be improbable. ;-)

Do those alien-abductees go on crusades, leave behind everyone and everythg they've known, face persecution and death on a wide scale, for sthg they KNOW TO BE FALSE?
Once again this is not the same. They may really believe it happened. They don't KNOW it to be false, as the apostles would.
And don't give me any hallucination garbage. Hallucinations don't happen to 100s of people who weren't expecting anythg like what they hallucinated.

Mein Kampf is not a good example either - these guys are writing history. What happenED among them, the Jesus that they saw, touched, heard, walked with.

You should provide a hypothesis b/c, for one thing, your attacks on mine have no punch. What's your alternative?
Evilutionists ask ID-ers all the time for their alternative; fair's fair.

Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

So I ask you whether a miracle is improbable and you repeat yourself.

I'm repeating myself because that's the answer to your question. By definition, a miracle is an event for which there is an incredibly low probability of occurrence.

"Yes, people goof, but I mentioned several reasons why we should reasonably consider an error in this case to be improbable. ;-)"

Yes, but is the error more improbable than the event that the erorr concerns? I would suggest that it is more probable that people make mistakes than it is for people to rise from the dead. I suggest this because I know that people make mistakes all the time - I see it happen on a daily basis, including people believing things which I know to be in error - while I have never seen or heard of anybody rising from the dead. On the basis of my experience - and I would suggest your experience - it is much, much more probable that people make mistakes than that people rise from the dead.

"Do those alien-abductees go on crusades, leave behind everyone and everythg they've known, face persecution and death on a wide scale, for sthg they KNOW TO BE FALSE?"

Apart from Fox Mulder, probably not; but you're missing my point. They don't know that it's false. They're not lying; they've made a mistake. They've made exactly the same mistake as alien abductees have, but their mistake has a higher price. People are prepared to pay a very high price for what they believe, even when it is clear to others that what they believe is false - take Jonestown or Heaven's Gate, for example.

"Hallucinations don't happen to 100s of people who weren't expecting anythg like what they hallucinated."

Actually, yes they do. "When Millions Saw Mary" - http://www.zeitun-eg.org/pg0001.htm.

Zeitoun, Egypt, 1968-1971: From April 1968 to May 1971, more than 100,000 people reported observing Virgin Mary apparitions above a Coptic Orthodox Church at Zeitoun, Egypt... It appears that the Marian observers were predisposed by religious background and social expectation to interpreting the light displays as related to the Virgin Mary. (Sceptical Enquirer May 2000)

"Mein Kampf is not a good example either - these guys are writing history. What happenED among them, the Jesus that they saw, touched, heard, walked with."

I wasn't comparing the experience of the disciples to the book Mein Kampf - I was comparing the Bible as a historical document to Mein Kampf as a historical document. (I was not comparing the Bible to Mein Kampf in any other sense - I merely picked another clearly ideological document for comparison.)

"You should provide a hypothesis b/c, for one thing, your attacks on mine have no punch. What's your alternative?"

I don't believe that there is a body of facts substantial enough to build a hypothesis upon.

Rhology said...

I dispute the definition of miracle you offer. Rather, a miracle is an event that is out of touch with the normally in place operation of things.
It's neither probable nor improbable. There could be many miracles or few, so they might be UNUSUAL (which I'd certainly agree with), but that's not the same as improbable. You're projecting your inductive conclusion onto the future, whether it's probable that one or many would occur later, but induction doesn't really allow for strong statements like that.

Fine, YOU think it's more probable that people goof than Christ rises. But then it's incumbent upon you to explain how they could have goofed given all the counterexamples I've provided. You consistently refuse to do so.
You have to account for:
-the empty tomb
-the birth of the Christian church
-from people who were scared out of their wits only a few days before
-whose hopes were dashed
-who then later discarded so many social mores to evangelise Christ
-and then died for that belief
-by the dozens and hundreds
-the conversion of skeptics James and Paul
-the professed eyewitness accts numbering in the 100s.

There are your facts. Deal with them, if you please, or just admit you have no alternate explanation but your bias disallows you from accepting it.


They don't know that it's false.

Yes, exactly! And the disciples WOULD HAVE KNOWN it was false. That's why the two are so disanalogous.
You say they're mistaken, but they are in a position to know for sure either way. Alien abductees are not in groups, they're one or two people at most. They don't do what the early church did. They could have been hallucinating. They can't point to physical evidence like the empty tomb or 500 eyewitnesses.
Jonestown and H-Gate are disanalogous b/c the herds of people were not in a position to know FOR SURE this was bunk. Only the leaders were.

Mary

That's quite disputed.
Besides, what action did such lead to? Weren't they expecting to see her, in the worst way? The Resurrection doesn't fit those aspects.

You've got your facts to deal with. Get to work or just admit your bias.

Peace,
Rhology

Paul C said...

"I dispute the definition of miracle you offer. Rather, a miracle is an event that is out of touch with the normally in place operation of things."

Which is the same thing as saying it's improbable. We judge the "normally in place operation of things" on the basis of probability - this has happened like so in the past, therefore it is most probable that it will happen like so in the future. If a miracle happened every minute, then that would be the "normally in place operation of things" - and so they wouldn't be miracles.

"Fine, YOU think it's more probable that people goof than Christ rises."

No - I think it's more probable that people goof than that people rise from the dead. Who the specific person is, is not relevant to what you are asking me.

Paul C said...

"Jonestown and H-Gate are disanalogous b/c the herds of people were not in a position to know FOR SURE this was bunk. Only the leaders were."

And the leaders killed themselves as well. QED.

Paul C said...

"That's quite disputed. Besides, what action did such lead to? Weren't they expecting to see her, in the worst way? The Resurrection doesn't fit those aspects."

Who is it disputed by? And no, they weren't expecting to see her any more than the disciples were expecting to see Jesus - a man whose death was (according to Christians I've spoken to) foretold by prophecy; and who, before his death, told them he was coming back.

Mark 8:31: Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

They weren't expecting him? They were fully expecting him.

Paul C said...

"But then it's incumbent upon you to explain how they could have goofed given all the counterexamples I've provided. You consistently refuse to do so."

Finally: you haven't given me any counterexamples - everything that you have given me is consistent with what I know about the reasons why people make mistakes, and what I know about the way that history is (mis)reported.

Even by the reports offered in the Bible, not everybody saw the empty tomb, which means that at least some of the early believers were operating on second-hand reports. You have described the disciples in a manner which is entirely consistent with people who are traumatised and in a state highly receptive to the sorts of beliefs that they then professed. The earliest believers did not discard their "social mores" - they were observant Jews, which is why Paul represents a radical break. How many of those with direct experience of the resurrection died for their beliefs? And so on, and so forth.