Friday, April 04, 2008

A shout-out to the existence of Jesus

Just wanted to note that Dr. Bart Ehrman, apostate, skeptic, and NT scholar extraordinaire, has recently gone on record on the Infidel Guy show saying that he knows of not one historian who believes that Jesus Christ never existed.
The clip begins around minute 51:00 here (on the Narrow Mind web broadcast).
Source page.

It's actually a pretty entertaining exchange because it really does sound like Dr. Ehrman starts to get irritated with the IG's intentional ignorance. Worth a listen.

48 comments:

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

Ah can't edit my comments :( I commented while I was still listening to it, before the fun part. Man it's almost embarrassing.

John Morales said...

Interesting.

So, you respect Dr. Bart Ehrman's opinion? You're surely implying he knows whereof he speaks.

After all,
"Ehrman began studying the Bible and its original languages at the Moody Bible Institute and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his Ph.D and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. He currently serves as the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, and worked closely as an editor on a number of the Society's publications. Currently, he co-edits the series New Testament Tools and Studies."
he is an expert.

But then
"Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teen. His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and to textual criticism, which he attributes to undermining his faith in the Bible as the inerrant, unchanging word of God. He now considers himself an agnostic."
(source: Wikipedia)
he deconverted...

Alas, he engaged his critical faculties and thus partook from the fruit of knowledge.

"In God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer, Ehrman meditates upon how the Bible explains human suffering, why he finds the explanations unconvincing, and why he gave up on being a Christian."
Source

Rhology said...

Not at all, John.
It's an accommodation to the fawning that Dr Ehrman receives from all sides in skeptical circles, from atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens) to Muslims. It's answering an opponent on similar terms used by others on his side.

John Morales said...

Ah, OK.

I thought for a minute there that you respected his opinions when they agree with yours, but not otherwise.

I take you're not denying he's an expert, nor that he is respected by various churches. So why don't you respect him?

Rhology said...

I take it on others' word that his data-gathering as an NT scholar is quite good, so I respect that part of his work.
The inane conclusions he draws from that data are not worthy of respect, however.
OTOH I give him props for standing up to two-bit atheist webcasters like the Infidel Guy about the existence of Jesus.
OTOH he's an apostate from the truth. That's a toughie. Imagine how you'd feel if, say, Dick Dawkins suddenly converted and became a conservative 5-point Calvinist. You'd lose respect for his ideas too. Same here.

As for respecting opinions, I respect PEOPLE, yes, for the sake of the love Jesus has enjoined on me. Respecting opinions that are wrong is wrongheaded. You don't respect MY opinions, do you? (if you say you don't, it won't hurt my feelings ;-) )

Paul C said...

I think we just wondered why you would cite an evangelical scholar who, upon examining the evidence, decided that it wasn't strong enough to support the claims of Christianity and became an agnostic. It would seem to fly in the face of everything you've told us about what we can expect if we read the Bible with the right mindset.

However I agree that it's excellent that he socked it to whoever the guy in that show is. Not that I listened to the recording, I'll just take your word for it.

Ooops, leap of faith. *slaps wrist*

John Morales said...

What Paul C. said, Rhology.

And no, in regards to your morality and belief in witches and gods and demons and such, I don't respect your opinions inasmuch as I consider them ill-formed - but I grudgingly respect your feistines and commitment to your avocation.

Rhology said...

Hey guys,

I cite him to show that despite his apostasy and obvious, if not malice, then disagreement with evangelical Christianity, he still says that, at minimum, the fact that Jesus Christ existed is undisputed among those who are in a position to study such matters.
Heh, you have faith in ME? Bad move. ;-)

Haha, John, the respect for feistiness and tenacity runs both ways.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

As usual, I see a series of ad-hoc claims with no self-consistency.

I cite him to show that despite his apostasy and obvious, if not malice, then disagreement with evangelical Christianity, he still says that, at minimum, the fact that Jesus Christ existed is undisputed among those who are in a position to study such matters.

I take it on others' word that his data-gathering as an NT scholar is quite good, so I respect that part of his work.
The inane conclusions he draws from that data are not worthy of respect, however.


See, you've undermined the very basis for your first quote in that second quote.

When you cite an authority's conclusion as support for your claim, to further claim that very authority draws inane conclusions is self-defeating.

Kyle said...

John Morales said:
"When you cite an authority's conclusion as support for your claim, to further claim that very authority draws inane conclusions is self-defeating."

Not true. Rhology did not cite Bart Ehrman's conclusions but rather his summary of the opinions of historians who have studied the NT era. The point that is being made is that even theologically liberal scholars who are educated on the issue of Jesus Christ the historical figure, acknowledge he was a real man. Their religious opinions are an entirely separate matter. It is quite common to recognize that certain people are competent in some areas but not others. For example, Richard Gere could tell me many things about acting and directing that I would belief on his authority because I trust his experience, but I don't look to his Buddhist beliefs for spiritual guidance. If I denounce his spiritual beliefs, that does not decrease his competence in the first area.

So to reiterate, Bart Ehrman while denying the theological significance of Jesus, says that he knows of no historian who studied the times claims that there was not a Jewish man in the first century named Jesus whose followers considered him the Christ.

You lose no ground to acknowledge that Jesus lived. But it does remove the 'easy explanation' that many would like to use to dismiss Jesus' claims by saying he didn't exist.

John Morales said...

Well, Kyle, you may be right - belief, opinion, conclusion - who knows which is which... it's a battle of words*.

As far as I know, the historicity of Jesus is no more controversial than that of King Arthur, and possibly less so.

We do, however, know that Sai Baba exists.

"According to Sathya Sai Organization there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries world-wide. The number of Sathya Sai Baba adherents is estimated sometimes as around 6 million, and followers cite "50 to 100 million". He is considered by his followers to be an avatar and the reincarnation of the saint Sai Baba of Shirdi."

Apparently it's quite possible to sucker a whole lot of people with miraculous claims.

* apologies to Pink Floyd.

Kyle said...

John M,

You offered two examples which it seems to me are supposed to counter the two main arguments that Christians offer against 'fiction' status non-Christians ascribe to Jesus. King Arthur is a legend (like Jesus some non-Christians say) or if historical then a charlatan or misguided guru (like Sai Baba who has really cool hair in that wikipedia entry). Either way the case is done, cut, dry and over. Slam dunk, Christians are dumb. You are covered from having to bother with Jesus Christ who claimed to be the Judge of the world, who knows your thoughts, motives, and deeds. But... it is more complex. The facts (darn those facts) show that Jesus was widely known by his contemporaries who wrote about him within a short time of his death, even non-Christian writers. He spawned a religious movement based on his own resurrection that survived a bloody early persecution where the persecutors could have ended it all by displaying his tomb or his body if need be. Alas, there was no body. Of course, the eyewitness acounts of these events are in the Gospels. If you give them a chance to speak fully, and you hear the words Jesus taught, perhaps you will hear the truth in his words as billions others have as well.

I'm praying for your soul, friend.

John Morales said...

Kyle,
Of course, the eyewitness acounts of these events are in the Gospels.

Those and more. You believe them all?

I note Dr. Bart Ehrman, apostate, skeptic, and NT scholar extraordinaire, does not.

That you think your opinion is more correct than that of an expert says a lot about you.

Paul C said...

Either way the case is done, cut, dry and over. Slam dunk, Christians are dumb.

Nobody here is saying Christians are dumb. What we are saying is that Christians are human, and humans make mistakes.

Paul C said...

He spawned a religious movement based on his own resurrection that survived a bloody early persecution where the persecutors could have ended it all by displaying his tomb or his body if need be.

If I'm a Roman governor in (for example) Joppa, how on earth am I going to display either the tomb or the body? That's just a bizarre idea - it's like me asking you personally to prove man went to the moon by showing me a piece of moon rock.

Kyle said...

John M,

"Those and more. You believe them all?"

I believe the eyewitnesses because they are consistent with themselves, each other, and prophecy. I am not in the habit of believing supernatural accounts by anyone without seriously impressive credentials. The apostles were received by their contemporaries (many devout Jews) who accepted them as genuine miracle workers and becasue their testimony about Jesus was consistent with their scriptures about the Messiah.

But, Jesus' words were the biggest thing that convinced me. When he speaks about the sins in man's heart, it penetrates and reveals the self deception we all live with. My personal conversion was a result of discovering that despite my professed atheism and bold unbelief, I lived with the nearly unconscious belief that God was real and was constantly striving to convince myself he was not. Ever wonder why so many atheists are obsessed with disproving Christianity?

I believe Bart Ehrman is deceived about himself and therefore does not realize the truth in Jesus' words. We are all wretched sinners. God's plan is to make the wise look foolish because only those who have been humbled by seeing their sin can understand what Jesus' was saying.

Kyle said...

Paul C said:

"If I'm a Roman governor in (for example) Joppa, how on earth am I going to display either the tomb or the body?"

You wouldn't. That was not my point though. The epicenter of Christianity is Jerusalem where Jesus, preached, was crucified, and buried. Soon after his resurrection the disciples were publicly testifying about it in the streets of Jerusalem. The Jewish religious leadership and Romans in Jerusalem were opposed to this new faith which they considered a threat. In that time and place the fastest way to shut down this threat was to call attention to the grave where Jesus was buried (a carved stone cave). The body would have been on a table and would be visible if they removed the stone cover. Had they done so Christianity would have been defeated.

Paul C said...

Had they done so Christianity would have been defeated.

No it wouldn't. "Call attention to the grave" - how? Put up posters saying "come to see the grave, he's still dead"? Order people to visit it, even the ones you're hunting down? Would you be bring the whole city of Jerusalem to view the tomb, to make sure that there wasn't anybody who claimed you were trying to trick them? You wouldn't just have to show them the grave, but show them the bare corpse - thus desecrating the grave, a move guaranteed to win you lots of support. And for people who'd never seen Jesus close up - which would have been almost everybody - there's no guarantee they'd even recognise the body, especially if it had started to decompose. And if you subscribe to the "theft of the body" theory (which I don't, necessarily), then they'll only be able to show everybody an empty tomb - and confirming their suspicions.

This line of reasoning simply doesn't fit in with how things work in the real world - it's just a fantasy.

Paul C said...

I believe the eyewitnesses because they are consistent with themselves, each other, and prophecy.

There aren't any eyewitness accounts. There are only reports of eyewitnesses. If it was a criminal trial, it would be the equivalent of me appearing on the witness stand and saying "I know this guy who saw the whole thing, and this is what he saw..." You'd be laughed at.

Plus, the eyewitness accounts don't complement each other. Even the most cursory reading of the gospels show that they're at best fragmentary and at worst contradictory.

Ever wonder why so many atheists are obsessed with disproving Christianity?

I assume that by "obsessed with disproving", you mean "interested in discussing". I think there's two reasons. First, it's one of the most important themes in human history; second, because so many Christians are obsessed with telling atheists that they're amoral scum who are going to hell.

John Morales said...

Kyle, Rhology,

Once again I'll refer to Paul C. as to why atheists argue with Christians.
---
To sum up, it appears that most scholars believe in the historicity of Jesus; this point is not in dispute.

As I grant your honesty when declaring that you find the evidence of the Divinity of Jesus convincing, you should grant mine when I say I don't.

Generally, one expects the proponent of a position (Divinity of Someone) to provide convincing evidence - our disputations seem to center on the fact that pre-suppositionalism is considered by me (and others) to be begging the question.
---
Anyway, to wrap up this thread, the point is that, though Jesus' historicity is necessary, it is hardly sufficient to credit the Bible with verity. That the writers believed what they wrote is no reason to believe their belief reflected reality (cf. Sai Baba above).

Sai Baba lives now, and millions believe him Divine. They find the evidence convincing; you don't.

I really don't understand why you seem not to understand that I disbelieve Jesus' claimed divinity just as you and I disbelieve Sai Baba's, and for the same reason: we don't find the claims convincing.

PS you can substitute "we" for "I" in the above, for a large subset of atheists.

John Morales said...

Oops, forgot one point.

Kyle,

Referring to your earlier comment, I find Christians dumb (in general) only inasfar as you find Sai Baba devotees dumb.

You might as well judge me as you judge yourself regarding this issue.

Rhology said...

John Morales, Paul C is demonstrating why I made this post. This question IS controversial. Have you never heard of Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There"?

Kyle said...

Paul C-

"because so many Christians are obsessed with telling atheists that they're amoral scum who are going to hell."

2 things-
1) If atheists are FULLY convinced there is no Judge, then they can forget about religion and focus on things that make them happy in this world since this is all they've got. Many do not but continue trying to disprove Christianity and some even devote large quantities of time trying to debunk it (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/).

2) It may appear that we are calling you amoral scum but we believe this passage, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:17) The concept that Jesus taught is that EVERYONE is going to Hell without Him. We are hopeful that many, maybe even yourself will come to find Jesus as Savior so you can escape Hell's sentence and enjoy eternal life. Our message may be offensive, but our motive is to bring the ultimate good to you and others even if it makes us unpopular.

Kyle said...

Paul C-

"This line of reasoning simply doesn't fit in with how things work in the real world - it's just a fantasy."

The preaching of resurrection began immediately after the event. Would it not make sense that somebody would check to see if he was in the grave still, not even a peek? Within a few weeks or even months the body would be recognizable especialy with the wounds from crucifiction. The Gospel writers (except Luke who consulted the eyewitnesses) were THERE and they said that the Jewish leaders circulated the rumor that the body had been stolen. If there was a body, the leadership could have gotten many counter witnesses to tell others that the resurrection was a lie. This means that there was no body.

You can throw out the testimony of the witnesses but on what grounds? Supernatural is impossible and so you don't believe anyone who claims a supernatural event took place? I'm not talking about everyday miracle claims with no evedince. "I had back pain and slick preacher man slapped me in the head and I am healed!" I'm talking about once in the history of mankind, that God lived among men, revealed the way to heaven, and resurrected himself with many witnesses who immediately began testifying when others could have falsified it easily...if it was false.

Kyle said...

John M.,

"just as you and I disbelieve Sai Baba's, and for the same reason: we don't find the claims convincing."

After Sai Baba heals cripples publicly in a crowd of witnesses such that their polio deformed legs become strong and they walk or after he shows passages from well preserved ancient unambiguous texts that prophesy of his coming or after he promises to be resurrected, is crucified publicly, buried, and three days later begins making appearances...I'll give him a second look.

Paul C said...

The preaching of resurrection began immediately after the event. Would it not make sense that somebody would check to see if he was in the grave still, not even a peek?

It would make sense, but you're retrospectively applying your reasoning to people who might not have shared it. We have no idea if anybody did actually check - just because it isn't reported doesn't mean that it didn't happen - but any counter-testimonial wouldn't have gained much ground with believers, would it?

[Interesting conundrum: even if there is no body in the grave, it doesn't prove the resurrection; and if there is a body in the grave, it doesn't disprove the resurrection.]

The Gospel writers (except Luke who consulted the eyewitnesses) were THERE and they said that the Jewish leaders circulated the rumor that the body had been stolen.

My understanding of the synoptic gospels is that it is generally not believed they were written by eyewitnesses; nor do I see any evidence that they were based on direct testimony by eyewitnesses. Also, have you considered the possibility that the reason why the Jewish leaders "circulated a rumour" that the body had been stolen was because the body had been stolen?

If there was a body, the leadership could have gotten many counter witnesses to tell others that the resurrection was a lie.

If there wasn't a body - if it had been moved or stolen - then such an act would have been counter-productive. However even if the body was there, it wouldn't make any difference. Who would you take to prove that Jesus was still in the grave? His followers wouldn't accept testimony from anybody except one of their own (as you yourself will not), and since the authorities were busy persecuting those followers, it's extremely unlikely that a) they would have been persuaded to go with the authorities to visit the grave, or b) they would accept that the body they saw was Jesus. Even if they did both of those things, how would that individual or individuals persuade anybody else without taking them as well?

You can throw out the testimony of the witnesses but on what grounds?

I don't have the testimony of the witnesses. I have a series of books which report what the witnesses saw, but are clearly not in the words of the witnesses, and are not based on eyewitness reports from the authors - because they report events that they wouldn't have been present at (plus, I don't even know who the writers are for certain).

I'm not talking about everyday miracle claims with no evedince.

I realise that, but John Morales has already pointed you to a man whose believers firmly believe has carried out multiple miracles in front of many witnesses - including at least one resurrection. I don't believe these claims - but the point is that his followers do, and you would find it almost impossible to persuade them otherwise. This is in the modern age, where science is far more advanced and communications far more prevalent. If such superstitions can persist even in these circumstances, how much stronger would they have been in the time of the disciples?

I'm talking about once in the history of mankind, that God lived among men, revealed the way to heaven, and resurrected himself with many witnesses who immediately began testifying when others could have falsified it easily...if it was false.

I realise that I am as unlikely to persuade you that the resurrection story is highly unlikely to be true, any more than I could persuade a follower of Sai Baba that he is not a living saint; however please be assured that I do not find you stupid.

Rhology said...

Hi Paul C,

Looks like, despite your protestations, you ARE proffering an alternative hypothesis. Good for you - you're stepping up to the plate, which is more than I can say for some other recent interlocutors around here.

it is generally not believed they were written by eyewitnesses

Maybe, but WHY? Anti-supernatural bias counts as much as any other bias - not much.
And they CLAIM to be eyewitness accts and a collation of such (Luke). Again, we take historical accts like this as telling the truth until proven guilty.

do I see any evidence that they were based on direct testimony by eyewitnesses.

The personal anecdotes? The direct quotes? The telling of stories in quadruphonic harmony? The telescoping of events? The naming of governmental positions, locations, names? You mean besides all that? What are you looking for exactly?

have you considered the possibility that the reason why the Jewish leaders "circulated a rumour" that the body had been stolen was because the body had been stolen?

By whom? The wimpy disciples who had run away and were afraid for their lives?
So the Roman guard actually neglected their job? Their whole livelihoods (indeed their lives) didn't depend on keeping that tomb secure?

Who would you take to prove that Jesus was still in the grave?

Anyone who claimed to see it, their acct would have to be taken into consideration.
Exactly why do you think that these followers of Christ, whose dreams had been crushed, would then rise up alluvasudden and conquer the world thru suffering and death and persecution all for the sake of a LIE? That they knew was a lie?

unlikely...they would accept that the body they saw was Jesus.

B/c they already saw Jesus, risen. And it transformed them.
You're again running your head against the wall of fact - these guys DIED for this stuff and they would have known it was false.

but are clearly not in the words of the witnesses,

Argument?

I don't even know who the writers are for certain).

Argument?

but the point is that his followers do, and you would find it almost impossible to persuade them otherwise.

W/o looking into him too much since I don't have time, I want to see him predict his own death and resurrection and the timeframe of it, and then pull it off. Then he gets into the same neighborhood.


Peace,
Rhology

Kyle said...

[Interesting conundrum: even if there is no body in the grave, it doesn't prove the resurrection; and if there is a body in the grave, it doesn't disprove the resurrection.]

No body does not prove resurrection. Agreed. For that I would appeal to 1)Jesus' words since he is God and cannot lie and 2) As Rhology did, the disciples died for a LIE because the only extant historical counter explanation is disciples stole the body. Don't you think that after the 3rd or 4th flogging with 39 lashes they would have said, "OK, OK it was all a lie". I'm a wuss, if you whack me one time on my bare back with a whip, I'll fess up if I'm lying or even confess if I didn't do it, just so you stop. Not so with these "lying" disciples. They withstood inhumane beatings repeatedly and 10/11 were killed for this lie. It doesn't add up in my mind.

Body does disprove resurrection since the disciples claimed Jesus rose BODILY explicity in the same body that was crucified. If the actual crucified body of Jesus was found, KO Christianity.

Rintintin said...

"No body does not prove resurrection. Agreed. For that I would appeal to 1)Jesus' words since he is God and cannot lie and 2) As Rhology did, the disciples died for a LIE because the only extant historical counter explanation is disciples stole the body. Don't you think that after the 3rd or 4th flogging with 39 lashes they would have said, "OK, OK it was all a lie". I'm a wuss, if you whack me one time on my bare back with a whip, I'll fess up if I'm lying or even confess if I didn't do it, just so you stop. Not so with these "lying" disciples. They withstood inhumane beatings repeatedly and 10/11 were killed for this lie. It doesn't add up in my mind.

But as has been pointed out repeatedly, people are and have been willing to die for causes they could have either easily have found out to be a fantasy/lies, or are/have been wiling to delude themselves into accepting things as being true that are out of synch with reality/rely on obvious trickery. Furthermore, there are lots of examples of people who will endure all sorts of pain and suffering and will still not say what their interrogators want them to say.

As a simpler example, you've almost certainly spoken to people who were convinced that faith healers, magicians, psychics or tarot readers were actually performing supernatural feats despite the fact the a quick look on youtube or google would demonstrate that these things are just clever tricks - even when this is pointed out and explained to them, you still get people who are convinced what they saw was real!

Rhology said...

RTT,

That is still not the same as the disciples of Jesus knowing that they stole the body, that they had never actually seen Him resurrected, but then dying PAINFULLY and losing their whole livelihoods for the sake of holding to a deception even though they knew it was all farce. Because they pulled it off themselves.

When all they had to do was say "Kaiser Kurios" and be accepted in the pluralistic society that was Rome, they chose to turn the world upside down.

Rintintin said...

Again, I'm not trying to repeat myself, but there are several examples that have been given of almost exactly what you are talking about in various parts of the world both now and in the past, and the second part of my previous post was to point out that humans have a great capacity for continued self-delusion even when presented with evidence that demonstrates how the claims being made are false.

I mean, you can show people a Penn and Teller, Derren Brown or James Randi video explaining how these tricks are done or exposing the claims when a few simple controls are put in place, yet some people are still convinced these acts are real. For the most part these kind of things are fairly tame, but it's just really an amplification of that mindset that makes people believe guys like Koresh or Moon etc (and makes those same leaders believe their own nonsense). They know what they want to believe and self-deception takes over no matter the eventual cost to themselves.

All it takes is one person with a bit of charisma or public speaking ability and it is possible to convince huge numbers of people of just about anything - I mean look at the amount of rubbish the average politician spouts on a daily basis, yet people lap it up and in more extreme cases will happily go out to war and put themselves in the firing line for it.

Another scenario that often happens is that a normal person's abilities get exaggerated in the telling and retelling of a story as people want to show the character to be as impressive as he is reputed to be. There are a lot of mythological heroes or modern day instances where a similar sort of thinking gets applied.

Kyle said...

Rintintin,
Welcome to the conversation!

I am not sure that your anaylsis of the human psyche is so far reaching that you can look at a few examples such as David Koresh, etc and then derive principles that apply to all situations. It is a bit of a stretch. Something to consider that is terribly important about the disciples is their motives. They did not get rich like the false teachers today who say "send me $100 dollars and God will heal you". They lived in poverty, occasionally going without food. So let's narrow the scope of our analysis to the disciples themselves since we can actually learn about their individual personalities and lives in the Gospel and NT letters. They did not gain financially from their "lie", they KNEW they would receive no reward in the afterlife for their "lie" (so comparison to suicide bombers or other fanatics do not apply), so what could be the motive?

Rintintin said...

why would it matter if they gained financially or in some other material way or not? People don't necessarily need to be given handouts or the promise of eternal reward to feel they are gaining something from believing a cause no matter how little basis in reality it has - they just have to feel that the set of circumstances they are buying into is preferable to an alternative whether it actually is or not.

I just used Koresh as one example - a quick hunt around google also will bring up a barrel load of other scenarios much like that one just from the last 50 or 60 years never mind the last several thousand. Then you have other less extreme variants on these ideas - I am not arguing that all delusional activities are identical in scope, nor that it requires someone to be stupid or dangerous to engage in delusional activities, but I find it hard to see why someone would argue against the concept that large numbers of humans will convince themselves of things that are patently false, even when under extreme duress to do the opposite.

John Morales said...

Martyrdom is hardly a Christian monopoly.

Rhology said...

But martyrdom en masse when you KNOW YOU'RE DYING FOR A LIE THAT YOU PROPAGATED apparently is.

Kyle said...

Rintintin,

"but I find it hard to see why someone would argue against the concept that large numbers of humans will convince themselves of things that are patently false, even when under extreme duress to do the opposite."

Your confusion comes in because I am not arguing against the notion that people will continue to delude themselves because they want to believe something. They may have reasons to doubt, but they refuse to explore their doubts in order to hold to their belief. This is not controversial. For instance a typical Jehovah's Witness believes the Watchtower literature and refuses to read 'outside' material because it could be influenced by the devil. When they encounter a contradiction in the Watchtower lit. and the bible, rather than explore they may close their minds and avoid the conflict. This is patently different than the perpetrators of a lie.

"they just have to feel that the set of circumstances they are buying into is preferable to an alternative whether it actually is or not."

What I am arguing against is not a confused or delusional person but an intentional fraud perpetrated to advance a cause that was false for no APPARENT BENEFIT. What benefit could the disciples derive from stealing the body, faking the resurrection to promote a false god and then gain nothing materially or spiritually in addition to the numerous disincetives (beatings, rejection by peers, death, loss of property, imprisonment, etc)? Can you suggest a credible explanation of how the disciples could face these conditionsand consider them to be better than their previous lives?

Paul C said...

What benefit could the disciples derive from stealing the body, faking the resurrection to promote a false god and then gain nothing materially or spiritually in addition to the numerous disincetives (beatings, rejection by peers, death, loss of property, imprisonment, etc)?

I plan to post a longer response when I have the time, but for now I will limit myself to one observation. None of the non-Christians participating in this thread are making this argument, so for you to argue against it seems a little pointless.

Paul C said...

the disciples died for a LIE because the only extant historical counter explanation is disciples stole the body.

This seems to be the crux of the argument for both you and Rhology. Why is this the only counter explanation, exactly?

Paul C said...

they KNEW they would receive no reward in the afterlife for their "lie" (so comparison to suicide bombers or other fanatics do not apply), so what could be the motive?

They "knew" - as you do - that they would be rewarded by spending the rest of eternity at God's right hand (or something to that effect) and that those who didn't share their beliefs would not. If you don't think that qualifies as a reward, that seems a little strange to me.

Rhology said...

No, they WOULDN'T receive the reward in the afterlife either. that's just the thing.
The God of the Old Testament would reward liars who furthered the cause of a false prophet who died in a cursed manner (hung on a tree) and then lied again about His resurrection in order to bring in a bunch of followers?

So they ended up being flayed, persecuted, killed, and lost everything, in order that they could live on the run with some followers at risk of constant death, poor, mistreated, and forsaken by pretty much everyone, with only eternal condemnation awaiting them...

And RinTinTin is making precisely that argument, PaulC.

Paul C said...

No, they WOULDN'T receive the reward in the afterlife either. that's just the thing. The God of the Old Testament would reward liars who furthered the cause of a false prophet who died in a cursed manner (hung on a tree) and then lied again about His resurrection in order to bring in a bunch of followers?

No, you're getting ahead of yourself. We haven't yet established if they were actually lying (or if they thought they were lying, which is a slightly different thing). If they were not lying, then they would clearly believe they were going to heaven; and since you have not yet established that they were lying, it seems fairly reasonable that they believed what they were claiming.

Paul C said...

p.s. I don't think you understood the argument that Rintintin was trying to make.

Rintintin said...

Rhology, Paul is correct - I don't think I've stated anywhere that the disciples stole the body or anything like that, if that's what you thought I was saying.

Kyle said...

Paul C-

"Rhology, Paul is correct - I don't think I've stated anywhere that the disciples stole the body or anything like that, if that's what you thought I was saying."

What is your position on what happened to the body of Jesus after he was crucified? The disciples say he rose again. The Jewish Sanhedrin circulated a rumor the disciples stole the body. Do you have another historical record than the one we are going by (the Gospels) that would tell use what happened? If you deny resurrection, you could argue for the disciples stole the body conspiracy. Otherwise you ignore the only available historical documents of the events and you are left with pure speculation. Do you have a degree from an accredited university on Speculation, Mind Reading, and/or Historical Knowledge pulled out of your Ear? If not, you, like us are limited to the only information available. Would you mind please dealing with it? You could begin by reading the Gospels before forming an opinion.

Paul C said...

What is your position on what happened to the body of Jesus after he was crucified?

The short answer is, I don't know and I can't know. I have access to the same historical records that you do, and no others. The difference between us is that I treat those historical records in exactly the same way as I do other historical records. One of the ways in which I treat historical records is to recognise that a) not everybody tells the truth, and b) no historical record contains the full story. This is particularly true of the accounts contained in the New Testament, which are a) clearly incomplete and b) partly contradictory. They are insufficient to convince me that they are a wholly accurate record of events, either before or after Jesus' death. You are welcome to disagree as vigorously as you please, but if you want to persuade me, you will need to do it on common ground.

By the way, thanks for adopting such a smug, patronising tone - always a winner in these discussions.

Kyle said...

"By the way, thanks for adopting such a smug, patronising tone"

I apologize for the way I worded myself on that last post. I can see how that came across as patronising. I was going for a bit of humor with the degree in Mind Reading...to make the point that the Gospels are the only historical record of the resurrection. My intent was to focus the discussion on the Gospels but it didn't came across well. My main concern is that many unbelievers dismiss the Gospels as historical records and make a conclusion based on what others have said without carefully reading the sources for themselves. From my POV this is part of the Devil's deception to keep people ignorant of what the Bible teaches because he knows that people who read it looking for truth will find God there.

"The difference between us is that I treat those historical records in exactly the same way as I do other historical records."

Does this mean your anti-supernatural assumption determines that any person in history who claims a supernatural event took place is most likely a liar, deranged, deceived, etc. regardless of the evidence? Is there any amount of evidence that could overcome your assumptions?

Paul C said...

Does this mean your anti-supernatural assumption determines that any person in history who claims a supernatural event took place is most likely a liar, deranged, deceived, etc. regardless of the evidence? Is there any amount of evidence that could overcome your assumptions?

First, I don't have an "anti-supernatural assumption" - I simply have a much higher boundary of belief for supernatural events.

Second, broadly the answer is yes, because I have yet to see sufficient evidence for any of the phenomena labelled supernatural. However my assumption is not that people claiming supernatural experiences are liars, deranged or deceived; my assumption is simply that they are human.

Third, almost no amount of evidence could change my mind about historical claims of supernatural events, and I'm hard pressed to imagine what such evidence could be. Considerably less evidence could change my mind about a current claim of a supernatural event.