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Christianity, morality, philosophy

Christian Morality

Where Do Christians Get Their Morality?

Figures from the Morality plays

Ask a random Christian where his morality comes from, and you are likely to get one answer out of a few that are commonly given. Many fundamentalists believe that God is the source of all morality. Without God, they say, humans would not know right from wrong, and we would be living in total moral chaos. More moderate Christians often offer a more deistic explanation. God created humans with an innate sense of right and wrong, and even without his direct intervention, we know what we ought to do because he has placed his moral laws in our hearts.

Some Christians believe that morality is absolute. There are things that are always wrong, and things that are always right. The ends do not justify the means in any case, and we ought to trust God to work things out when it appears that we are doing something harmful by “doing the right thing.” Even outside of Christianity, there is a prevalent belief that morality exists on some kind of higher philosophical plane, and that it is proof of humanity’s separation from the animal world. We are different in kind from the animals because we have morality.

I’d like to examine these claims in light of both philosophy and science to see if any of them hold any water. In the end, I hope to convince you that not only do Christians not have any means to derive a system of morality from their faith, they have every justification in the world to act immorally with impunity based only on their personal goals.

Morality Comes From God

Let us suppose that God is the source of all morality. For now, we will take the most extreme Christian view – that morality is impossible to derive from human wisdom, and that we must rely solely on the word of God to know what is right and what is wrong.If this is true, then it must be true that there is no logical reason to do what is right other than fear of God’s punishment or desire for God’s reward. If this conclusion seems odd, just consider the alternative. If we can think of any reason to do the morally correct thing, then we are basing morality on something natural. If it is right for me to feed my infant child because otherwise the child will die and that would cause me grief, then there is a natural reason for me to feed my infant child.

It doesn’t take much thought to realize that morality doesn’t derive solely from God. Virtually every day of our lives, we are faced with moral choices, and we reason out the best course of action. Our thought processes involve causes and effects, not calling to memory a set prescription from the Bible. If morality does come from God, it is not solely dependent on arbitrary dicta. There are unmistakable real world consequences to our actions, and we can judge their relative value based on individual situations.

For emphasis, let’s think of it another way. If God truly was the only source of morality in existence, then we should not be able to distinguish right from wrong except when it was specifically mentioned by God himself. When presented with a unique moral dilemma, we should be at a complete loss for any means of deriving the correct answer. This is obviously not so. As human civilization has advanced and technology has increased, we have created moral dilemmas that couldn’t have been conceived when the Bible was written. In many cases, we have established very clear ideas of what is right and what is wrong.  (It’s noteworthy that we’ve decided slavery is wrong despite the fact that the Bible condones it.)

There is only one thing we can do if we are to save the idea that God is the source of morality. We must admit that God has instilled in humans a conscience, and that man is able to reason out morality on his own without reference to an arbitrary set of rules.This is the position that most reasonably intelligent Christians take.  The exercise of a modicum of intelligence pretty much necessitates it.

Unfortunately, this position fails on several levels. Straight out of the gate, we must ask a crucial question.If God has instilled in humans the ability to judge right from wrong, what is the Bible good for? This question isn’t as flippant as it may appear. Pastors all over the world thump the Bible on their podiums while decrying Godless heathens who don’t act as it dictates. In heated debates over moral hot button issues, the Bible is used as a final arbiter. God says it. I believe it. That settles it. Anytime the Bible disagrees with our innate sense of morality, we ought to believe the Bible over our own conscience.

We are forced now to ask the question. What is the final arbiter of human morality? Is it God’s word or our conscience? If it is God’s word, then we are headed back towards where we started, only now we are in a worse position. We’ve admitted that our conscience is a real, God-given tool for determining the morality of a given situation, but now we’re also admitting that God’s word trumps our conscience. This is another way of saying that when God wants us to do something, it is good, regardless of what our conscience says.

While many Christians would happily agree with this statement, it leaves us with a horrible dilemma. There are, at present, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand denominations of Christianity, worldwide. Each one of them has different views on morality, ranging from the insignificant to issues of global human existence. We have two choices. Either there is one correct version of Christianity or there are multiple correct versions. If there is only one correct version, how are we supposed to identify it? Every denomination claims that it is the correct one (or at the very least, that it is one of the correct ones!) so we can’t rely on these claims to make our decisions.Each denomination interprets the Absolutely True Word of God Which Trumps Conscience in a way that makes sense to them.

Let me reiterate that last sentence, because it’s really important. Every denomination that believes the Bible trumps our conscience interprets the Bible in a way that makes sense to them. Did you catch the trap in this sentence?  They use their conscience to decide which interpretation of the Bible trumps the conscience!  Again, we are faced with a nasty choice. Either there is a correct interpretation of the Bible that doesn’t rely on conscience or logic to find, or we are right back to conscience and logic being the ultimate guide for morality.

If we assume that there is, in fact, a perfect interpretation of the Bible, we are at something of an impasse. Since logic and conscience can’t be our criteria for making the decision, we must rely on something else, but what? Divine revelation? Again, every denomination makes some claim of divine revelation, so which one is correct? How will we decide? What if none of them are correct? What if, after reading the Bible, you come to the conclusion that everybody’s got it wrong, and that you have the perfect interpretation. God has spoken directly to you, and you are certain you are correct. This is fine for you, but how am I to judge whether or not I believe you? You are now in exactly the same situation as the other fifteen thousand denominations. You must ask people to use either logic, conscience, or divine revelation to decide to believe you.

The sad truth is that if there is a true interpretation of the Bible that does not rely on human logic or conscience, then it is unknowable beyond individual interpretation,which is the same as saying that it’s entirely subjective.

Did you catch that last sentence? If the Christians are right, then morality is completely subjective. What is it that Christians always say about atheists? Aren’t they the ones who accuse atheists of having no basis for morality? According to them, the world would be ruled by anarchy and there would be no way to know right from wrong. Civilization would descend into self serving madness. The irony is that their very own doctrine, if true, leads inevitably to the very state they attribute to naturalism!

Now, we must backtrack. We have reached an absurd conclusion when we followed one line of reasoning. The other line must now be scrutinized. Perhaps there are multiple correct interpretations of the Bible.  Again, we’re faced with choices. Perhaps there are some things that are universally right and wrong, and some that are malleable according to individual situations. The other option is that all things are malleable and based on specific circumstances.

If we accept the former option, we are immediately forced to address the question of which things are universals, and which are subjective. Unfortunately, this is no easier than the dilemma we faced earlier. Either logic and reason can tell us the answer, or it must be found in the Bible, or through divine revelation. If it is found in the Bible, then where is it? Having read the bible myself, I can recall no such clear cut explanations of morality. Instead, I remember reading contradictory edicts from God himself. Don’t kill, unless God orders you to, or if it’s lawful to kill. Then again, turn the other cheek and repay evil with kindness. Then again, Jesus came to uphold the law. Then again, Jesus came to repeal the law. Then again, it is better to kill yourself than to cause a child to stray. Then again, suicide is an unpardonable sin. Then again, and again, and again, and again.(1)  (Have you ever stopped to think how odd it is that the Bible never addresses any of these dilemmas directly? Other than appealing to authority, there is no mention of any philosophy of morality we are aware of today.  Might it be that the authors were ignorant of them?)

The latter option leaves us in a real pickle. If all things are malleable and based on specific circumstances, then there is nothing set in stone. There are no absolutes, and God’s word is not the final arbiter over conscience. With no instance by instance definitive statement from God himself, there is no way to ascribe any absoluteness to any moral imperative, and we clearly have no such step by step guide.

If there are no absolutes, and God’s word is not the final judge of what is moral and immoral, how is a Christian to judge right from wrong?  Either the Christian can continue to use the Bible, or church doctrine, or some other source as a basis for morality, or they can admit that morality is ultimately judged by humans on a case to case basis, without any arbitrary intervention by God.

If some theist source is used, then the Christian is right back where we ended up earlier – arbitrary subjective morality. If it is admitted that morality is ultimately judged by humans, we have relegated God to irrelevance. Whether or not God created man with a conscience or the conscience evolved is a pointless distinction. If the conscience, or logic, or any other natural method is used to determine morality, then man can determine morality without God. The foundation of one of religion’s most ardent claims collapses. Man does not need God to live morally.

Morality By Plato

Having extracted God from the process of arbitrating morality, we must now address the question of morality as an absolute. Is there some kind of platonic model of morality that is universal to all humans? Are some things absolutely right and some absolutely wrong, or is morality subjective and arbitrary? Perhaps God created man and instilled in him an instinctive knowledge of the perfect good, much like Plato’s perfect conceptualizations of imperfect reality. If this is true, perhaps humans are always striving towards perfection but always falling short. Maybe this is the true nature of the biblical “Fall of Man.” In fact, maybe this is the difference between Christians and non-Christians. Maybe God gives Christians an extra “morality boost” and allows them to see a clearer image of the cave wall.

As we did with all the previous claims, lets assume this to be true and see where it leads us. Let us suppose that for every human interaction conceivable, there is a “perfect” morally good action for every individual to take. The first question we must ask is what scale is being used to judge perfection. Is perfection based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people? What about reduction of suffering? Perhaps equality is the ultimate measure. (But, if it is equality, in what sense do we mean equal? Equality of opportunity, or resources, or happiness, or what?) To say that there is a perfect morality is to admit to a scale. Perfect must be judged in relation to something, or the word has no meaning.

Perhaps now is a good time to explore a hypothetical situation to see if we can gain some real world insight into the possibility that there is such a thing as perfect morality. Suppose that there is a man who has a wife and family. He has a good job, with enough time to spend with his children and his wife, enough free time to avoid getting overworked, and enough money to pay all the bills. (Talk about a hypothetical situation!) One day, this man discovers that his boss is involved in a large scale fraud that, if allowed to continue, will cheat hundreds of thousands of people out of large amounts of money. Unfortunately, the fraud is so pervasive throughout the company that if the whistle is blown, the company will surely fail, and all the employees will not only lose their jobs, but many of them will be pulled into years of lawsuits, whether they were knowingly involved or not.

If you are like most people, you have decided that despite the personal loss and the potential problems for other employees, the only moral thing for the man to do is blow the whistle on his company. There are other jobs, and it’s selfish of him to hold onto his perfect little life knowing that it will cause great harm to so many people. Furthermore, “shit happens,” as the saying goes, and it’s unfortunate that many of the employees will be caught in the mess, but it’s just a case of bad luck. It can’t be helped.

Does this situation tell us anything about the concept of perfect morality? Let’s look at it from the perspective of the greater good. It is true that more people will be helped by blowing the whistle than not. In terms of financial success, the greater good will be served. However, in order to achieve the greater good, there must be lesser bad. Some people, including the whistle blower, will have to suffer financially. Where there is financial gain, there is also financial loss.

Mathematically, there is almost certainly an optimum financial solution to this problem. Perhaps there is a course of action that could minimize financial losses to employees as much as mathematically possible while maximizing the financial gain of those who will benefit from having the fraud exposed. We can say that in terms of financial good, there is a perfect solution to this problem. Maybe it involves a different employee blowing the whistle, or the boss having a fit of conscience and admitting his fraud. What the action is is irrelevant. The broader point is that there is a perfect solution.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. When I began discussing the greater good, I assumed that good to be financial. If we use another measure, we might find completely different results from taking the “perfect” moral action. Supposing that the fraud comes to an end in the best possible way financially, what can we say about the solution based on equality? For instance, if the investors who were going to be defrauded were all upper class and wealthy, the huge financial losses they would take might lower their status to upper middle class, where they would still be quite comfortable. On the other hand, the employees of the company might all be in the lower middle class, and the setbacks from losing their jobs might throw them squarely into poverty, even though the financial losses were minimized as much as possible.

If this were the case, could we then say that a greater good had been achieved? What if there were a total of five hundred children of employees, and as a result of their parents losing their jobs, four hundred of them ended up having to go to lesser schools with poor standards? Knowing that these children will grow up and have children of their own, and knowing that poverty tends to breed more poverty, can we really say that blowing the whistle accomplished a greater good?

We haven’t even begun to look at the measures of individual happiness or minimization of suffering. I’m sure there are at least a dozen other measures by which a moral action can be judged, and it’s entirely likely that in this very situation, each measure comes out differently on the grand scale of moral correctness.

Even so, our idea of platonic morality is not dead. Perhaps there is a set number of measures by which morality can be judged, and in any given situation, there is an action which is the perfect balance of all of the measures, such that there is no way for a better outcome. To help you think of this concept more clearly, let’s say that there are one hundred moral measures, and let us assign a value of zero to one hundred for each of them in any given situation. Few, if any, situations will allow an outcome of one hundred one hundreds. Every dilemma will have a number of solutions, each of which is better by some measures and worse by others.

If this is true, then we’re left with a puzzle. How do we decide which way to weight the scale? In other words, do we always pick the solution that has the highest aggregate score – the highest total number when we add up the score from all hundred measures? If that’s true, what if the solution to a particular problem includes a zero (meaning morally awful) in the category of “Preserving Human Life”? Do we weight “Preserving Human Life” more than “Promoting Individual Happiness”? If so, how do we determine the system by which we will achieve our perfect mathematical formula?

By now, it should be painfully obvious that there is a problem with the notion of Platonic moral perfection. People have different goals, and different needs, and when morality involves multiple people (as it almost always does) what’s good for one person will be less good for another, and with no way to say definitively which person should take precedence, most moral decisions will be ambiguous in some sense.

The Danger of Christian Morality

Before we explore what science says about human morality, I want to take a slight detour and explore some of the consequences of morality as described by Christians. The main point I wish to hammer home is that not only is the Christian model of morality wrong, it is decidedly harmful as well. Imagine a discussion with a believer that goes something like this:

Skeptic: Is it wrong to kill your own child?

Believer: Yes.

Skeptic: Is it always wrong?

Believer: Yes. God has told us that we shall not kill.

Skeptic: And this is absolute and universal. There is never any time when it is ok to kill your child?

Believer: (feeling a little twitchy… he suspects a trap.) Well, I suppose there are some instances. (Perhaps he remembers that God, in the Old Testament, demanded that disobedient children be stoned to death.) But except for really extraordinary circumstances, it’s wrong.

Skeptic: What if God told you to do it?

Believer: (Squirming noticeably in his seat.) God wouldn’t do that.

Skeptic: How do you know? He ordered people in the Old Testament to do it. He ordered Abraham to do it. Can God do anything he wants to do?

Believer: Erm… well… yes, he can, but he wouldn’t.

Skeptic: Well, you believe that he wouldn’t, but by your own admission, and by the words of the Holy Scriptures themselves, God has done it, and could very well do it again if it pleases him to do so. Stop squirming around this, and just answer the question. If God told you to kill your child, and you knew with 100% certainty that it was God telling you, would it be a good thing to kill your child?

Believer: Um… well… I don’t know if it would be good, exactly, but it would be God’s will, so um…

Skeptic: Wait a minute. You’re saying that God’s will can be evil?

Believer: No, that’s not what I said. I just said it wasn’t good.

Skeptic: So, it’s neutral? There are only three choices, right? Good, bad and neutral. Which is it?

Believer: Well, um… I don’t know, exactly…

Skeptic: Ok. Let’s get down to brass tacks. If you knew for certain that God wanted you to kill your own child, would you do it?

Believer: (scurries out of the room, making signs of the cross and genuflecting furiously)

From this little discussion, we can see that not only do Christians have nothing solid on which to hang their moral hats, they actually have a very dangerous excuse for doing vicious and horrible things and calling them good, or at worst, neutral. A brief look through history (some of it not particularly far in the past) shows us many examples of people doing horrible things in the name of religion and calling them good. I’m not suggesting that every evil act ever committed by a Christian has been because of this kind of justification, but surely there have been many people who have used it.

Lest I be accused of creating a strawman, I want to be clear on one thing. I’m not suggesting that people would not do evil except for Christianity, or that non-Christians haven’t done very horrible things. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that the Christian version of morality gives implicit and explicit permission for people to do evil and call it good. While it’s true that removing this system of morality from the public consciousness wouldn’t eradicate all evil in the world, it would most certainly eradicate some, and that, to me, seems a worthwhile endeavor.(2) In the words of the Nobel Prize winning physicist (and descendant of a holocaust survivor) Steven Weinberg, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

As I have hopefully made crystal clear, there simply is no basis for morality from God or scripture. At best we are left with a hopeless subjective conundrum and at worst, we have an excuse to do things that all sane people know to be wrong. Now that we have exposed Christian morality for what it really is, we can begin to delve into the questions from a more reasonable perspective. What does science say about morality? For that matter, what exactly is morality? If morality is not absolute, what is it? If it’s not completely subjective, how do we decide what is right and what is wrong?

These questions do not always have easy answers, but they do have answers.   Science has shown us in recent decades that what we think of as morality is not unique to humans.  Most — perhaps all — social animals have “forbidden actions” for which there is retribution, either from the group or the alpha.  What separates humans from animals is not the concept of right and wrong, but rather the ability to think about the concept of right and wrong.

For more reading on the evolution of morality — and thus, the nature of morality itself, I recommend these books:

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation by Matt Ridley

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley

Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved by Franz de Waal

(1)When faced with this fact, many Christians fall back to the assertion that careful reading of the Bible with an open and honest heart will reveal the “true” intent of the author. Of course, this fails for the same reason that all claims of revelation fail. They are necessarily subjective!

(2) I should mention the other side of the Christian morality argument. It is often suggested that despite the problems with Christians sometimes doing evil in the name of God, Christianity encourages people to do good that they would not ordinarily do.  It’s not within the scope of this entry, but psychology explains quite parsimoniously that this notion is bunk.  People of all religions (and non-religions) have always been inspired to acts of charity.   It is just divisive and exclusionary thinking to suggest otherwise.

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Discussion

292 thoughts on “Christian Morality

  1. People of all religions (and non-religions) have always been inspired to acts of charity. It is just divisive and exclusionary thinking to suggest otherwise.

    One thing I don’t understand is how you apply your logic here.

    Psychology shows that people find non-religious reasons to acts of charity therefore religion doesn’t increase charity, which is all well and good, but you seem to refuse to apply that logic the other way and say psychology shows that people find non-religious reason to act in evil.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 20, 2010, 5:49 pm
  2. Okay! Let’s look at this!

    To begin with, I would not start by asking a random Christian, but by asking learned Christians who know their faith well. For instance, I would begin the debate by speaking about Natural Law theory as understood throughout the centuries, such as what Antigone pointed to.

    Hamby: Some Christians believe that morality is absolute. There are things that are always wrong, and things that are always right. The ends do not justify the means in any case, and we ought to trust God to work things out when it appears that we are doing something harmful by “doing the right thing.”

    Reply: But this first part is just false. It is because morality is absolute that means can be justified. If there is no absolute morality, there is nothing to be justified. The only reason you justify something is because it appears to be wrong.

    Hamby: In the end, I hope to convince you that not only do Christians not have any means to derive a system of morality from their faith, they have every justification in the world to act immorally with impunity based only on their personal goals.

    Reply: But note that if you convince me of that, you convince me that I am right, because only on the basis of objective morality, can I act immorally. In fact, you even speak of this as if it would not be a good thing, which assumes objective morality.

    Hamby: Let us suppose that God is the source of all morality. For now, we will take the most extreme Christian view – that morality is impossible to derive from human wisdom, and that we must rely solely on the word of God to know what is right and what is wrong

    Reply: The problem with this view for a Christian is that the Bible itself argues against it. How else can we explain judgment on cities before the Bible was there? Even if the atheist thinks it’s a myth, which he does, the Christian doesn’t, and the Christian would have to ask how the Canaanites could know they were in the wrong unless they had a concept of the right they were to follow?

    Hamby: If this is true, then it must be true that there is no logical reason to do what is right other than fear of God’s punishment or desire for God’s reward.

    Reply: This also doesn’t follow. A person can do good also for the sake of goodness. They can do good because God says to be holy and they think it is good to do what God says. It is not because they think he will reward them or punish them if they don’t. It is because he says it.

    Hamby: If this conclusion seems odd, just consider the alternative. If we can think of any reason to do the morally correct thing, then we are basing morality on something natural. If it is right for me to feed my infant child because otherwise the child will die and that would cause me grief, then there is a natural reason for me to feed my infant child.

    Reply: And this is something that Scripture would uphold. The reason to do something is because it is right. It is also right independent of if it is said in Scripture or not. The reason to not do something is because it is wrong and the parallel follows.

    Hamby: If God truly was the only source of morality in existence, then we should not be able to distinguish right from wrong except when it was specifically mentioned by God himself.

    Reply: This does not follow and no natural law theorist holds to such a position. None of them say “The only way you can know good or evil is if you know of God.” The Bible itself doesn’t hold that position. The position is God has given us a will that desires the good and we seek the good. The problem is, we mistake things that are not good for the good or elevate a lesser good to a higher good. For instance, food is good, but too much and you’re a glutton. Giving money to the poor is good, but if I give so much that my family starves, that is not good.

    Hamby: Unfortunately, this position fails on several levels. Straight out of the gate, we must ask a crucial question.If God has instilled in humans the ability to judge right from wrong, what is the Bible good for?

    Reply: The Bible is about more than right and wrong Hamby. The Bible is also God’s revelation of what He did in His Son. Natural revelation could not tell us that God’s Son would be incarnate and die on a cross for our sins. It can tell us some things about God, but it can’t tell us all about God.

    Also, you could in fact argue why we have schools to teach Math. Leave someone alone long enough and they’ll figure out basic rules of mathematics on their own. It’s possible, but we also realize the best way to teach these is to give examples and good teachers. I would recommend you read “The Line Through The Heart” by J. Budziszewski. This is an objection he deals with.

    You also ask what is the final arbiter of morality. This is not however a case of conscience vs. the Bible. The final arbiter of morality is the same as the final arbiter of anything. That is reality itself. Two contradictory ideas of science exist. Who’s the final arbiter? It’s reality. Whichever one matches up with reality is the right one.

    And in this case, there must be a moral reality for it to match up to and if there is a moral reality, then there is absolute morality.

    Hamby: There are, at present, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand denominations of Christianity, worldwide. Each one of them has different views on morality, ranging from the insignificant to issues of global human existence.

    Reply: First off, I’d have to trust that you’re being fully honest in this, but without looking at any resources, I’d like you to name fifty denominations. After all, if there are 15,000, naming 50 should be no problem.

    The reality is that is an unsupported statement based on a myth. A denomination is pretty much seen as a self-governing institution. You could have two independent Baptist churches each governing itself with identical beliefs and each would be a denomination.

    Also, I find that by and large, I tend to agree with most Christians I meet on primary areas of morality. Yes. There are some principles of morality that you can not know and there are some that you can’t not know.

    Furthermore, I have friends who are Eastern Orthodox, friends who are Roman Catholic, and friends who are Protestant. We all acknowledge the same Lord.

    Hamby: What if, after reading the Bible, you come to the conclusion that everybody’s got it wrong, and that you have the perfect interpretation. God has spoken directly to you, and you are certain you are correct. This is fine for you, but how am I to judge whether or not I believe you? You are now in exactly the same situation as the other fifteen thousand denominations. You must ask people to use either logic, conscience, or divine revelation to decide to believe you.

    Reply: Well first off Hamby, I don’t use the Bible to argue morality with non-Christians. Why use what you don’t see as an authority. However, if we disagree on the text of the Bible, it’s obvious what the judge is. The text!

    Hamby. Do you believe the meaning of a text is in the text itself?

    Hamby: The sad truth is that if there is a true interpretation of the Bible that does not rely on human logic or conscience, then it is unknowable beyond individual interpretation,which is the same as saying that it’s entirely subjective.

    Reply: Hamby. This statement really makes no sense. There is no human logic. There is just logic. Also, of course the only way you can know what is in a text is by interpreting the text. There’s no basis for having it beamed to you. An interpretation is subjective, yes, but what it is interpreting is the objective.

    Hamby: Did you catch that last sentence? If the Christians are right, then morality is completely subjective. What is it that Christians always say about atheists? Aren’t they the ones who accuse atheists of having no basis for morality? According to them, the world would be ruled by anarchy and there would be no way to know right from wrong. Civilization would descend into self serving madness. The irony is that their very own doctrine, if true, leads inevitably to the very state they attribute to naturalism!

    Reply: Because atheists have no basis for morality, it does not follow they are immoral. As a Christian, I cannot say that even because I believe the Law is written on their hearts. However, your so-called dilemma works with anything else.

    There is only one reality, but are we monolithic on how we view it? Not at all! We have differing interpretations of reality, but you don’t look at that and say “Knowledge is subjective!” Your position would be epistemological relativism.

    Interpretations are subjective again, but what is being interpreted is not. Morality is objective, but our understanding of morality is subjective. The way we determine who is right is by discussing our differences.

    Hamby: If we accept the former option, we are immediately forced to address the question of which things are universals, and which are subjective. Unfortunately, this is no easier than the dilemma we faced earlier. Either logic and reason can tell us the answer, or it must be found in the Bible, or through divine revelation.

    Reply: And this is an either/or fallacy. It’s both. We can learn them through logic and reason, but we can also learn them by a source beyond us giving us the answers. Let’s look at what you say however.

    Hamby: If it is found in the Bible, then where is it? Having read the bible myself, I can recall no such clear cut explanations of morality. Instead, I remember reading contradictory edicts from God himself.

    Reply: I do not say that morality comes from the Bible but that the Bible is revelation of morality. There is a strong difference there.

    Hamby: Don’t kill, unless God orders you to, or if it’s lawful to kill.

    Reply: Hamby. You strike me with this as someone who didn’t look at the relevant commentaries. I try to give an author the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s not contradicting himself immediately. There are a number of different Hebrew words for kill. Which one is in the sixth commandment and what does it mean?

    Hamby: Then again, turn the other cheek and repay evil with kindness.

    Reply: Which is saying to not accelerate personal aggression. Be the better man. Leave dealing with evil to the proper authorities.

    Hamby: Then again, Jesus came to uphold the law. Then again, Jesus came to repeal the law.

    Reply: No. Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Jesus lived it out for us. The moral law however has not gone away. It was not introduced in Levitical code but included in it, and there’s a difference.

    Hamby: Then again, it is better to kill yourself than to cause a child to stray.

    Reply: Jewish thinking spoke in hyperbole.

    Hamby: Then again, suicide is an unpardonable sin.

    Reply: Verse?

    Hamby: Then again, and again, and again, and again.(1)

    Reply: as for 1, the way to find out what the text means is not pray for God to tell you. That’s asking God to compensate for your laziness. It’s to study it like any other text.

    Hamby: (Have you ever stopped to think how odd it is that the Bible never addresses any of these dilemmas directly? Other than appealing to authority, there is no mention of any philosophy of morality we are aware of today. Might it be that the authors were ignorant of them?)

    Reply: No. They were properly understood by the people so there was no need to say them. It was a high-context society.

    Hamby: The latter option leaves us in a real pickle. If all things are malleable and based on specific circumstances, then there is nothing set in stone. There are no absolutes, and God’s word is not the final arbiter over conscience. With no instance by instance definitive statement from God himself, there is no way to ascribe any absoluteness to any moral imperative, and we clearly have no such step by step guide.

    Reply: Natural Law theory does not hold we need a definitive word from God to know right from wrong. In fact, it denies that.

    Hamby: If there are no absolutes, and God’s word is not the final judge of what is moral and immoral, how is a Christian to judge right from wrong?

    Reply: If there are no absolutes, there is no right or wrong to judge…

    Hamby: If the conscience, or logic, or any other natural method is used to determine morality, then man can determine morality without God. The foundation of one of religion’s most ardent claims collapses. Man does not need God to live morally.

    Reply: This confuses the basis of our knowing with the source of what we know. Man does not need to know of God to know right from wrong. Man needs God however for right and wrong to have an ontological basis. If God exists, for instance, he exists whatever man thinks. He has ontological reality regardless. If one comes to God through special revelation, well and good. If through natural revelation, also well and good.

    Hamby: As we did with all the previous claims, lets assume this to be true and see where it leads us. Let us suppose that for every human interaction conceivable, there is a “perfect” morally good action for every individual to take. The first question we must ask is what scale is being used to judge perfection. Is perfection based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people? What about reduction of suffering? Perhaps equality is the ultimate measure. (But, if it is equality, in what sense do we mean equal? Equality of opportunity, or resources, or happiness, or what?) To say that there is a perfect morality is to admit to a scale. Perfect must be judged in relation to something, or the word has no meaning.

    Reply: I will say I will not use Plato’s scale. Plato was right in believing in The Good, but he did not have a basis for the good. I’m curious however if you’ve read Plato.

    As to your moral dilemma, I think you’re missing something. A moral dilemma only makes sense if there are objective moral values. If there is no objective morality, there is no dilemma because there’s no need to ask what is the best course of action? There’s simply courses of action.

    Hamby: Before we explore what science says about human morality, I want to take a slight detour and explore some of the consequences of morality as described by Christians. The main point I wish to hammer home is that not only is the Christian model of morality wrong, it is decidedly harmful as well. Imagine a discussion with a believer that goes something like this:

    Reply: But Hamby, the only way we can speak of something being harmful and therefore shouldn’t be done is if there IS objective morality. If there is no objective morality, who cares if it’s harmful?

    Hamby: Believer: Yes.
    Skeptic: Is it always wrong?
    Believer: Yes. God has told us that we shall not kill.
    Skeptic: And this is absolute and universal. There is never any time when it is ok to kill your child?
    Believer: (feeling a little twitchy… he suspects a trap.) Well, I suppose there are some instances. (Perhaps he remembers that God, in the Old Testament, demanded that disobedient children be stoned to death.) But except for really extraordinary circumstances, it’s wrong.

    Reply: To begin with, this is the fallacy of accident. Is it a good idea to return things to people you borrow them from when they ask? Yes. However, suppose I say to you “Hamby. You borrowed that knife from me a month or so ago. I want it back. My neighbor is being a jerk and I want to teach them a lesson!”

    It’s a good principle to return things when asked, but here you have a valid exception and your exception is based on objective morality.

    Also, as for the stoning, do you really know what’s going on in the passage?

    To begin with, the child is a glutton and a drunkard. That doesn’t happen with a little six year-old who doesn’t clean his room one time. This is an adult child.

    Second, in a society like that, your children were your future. They were extra hands to keep the family going, and especially sons since they would pass on your name. This is not an action that would be taken lightly.

    Thirdly, this was persistent rebellion in a theocratic society that would lead the people away from God. It was a last-ditch effort, much like the death penalty is today.

    Hamby: Skeptic: What if God told you to do it?
    Believer: (Squirming noticeably in his seat.) God wouldn’t do that.
    Skeptic: How do you know? He ordered people in the Old Testament to do it. He ordered Abraham to do it. Can God do anything he wants to do?
    Believer: Erm… well… yes, he can, but he wouldn’t.

    Reply: Questions Hamby. Did God let Abraham go through with it? Why did God order Abraham to do it? What is the real lesson we should learn from that? Do you really think it’s “God approves of child sacrifice.”?

    Hamby: Skeptic: Well, you believe that he wouldn’t, but by your own admission, and by the words of the Holy Scriptures themselves, God has done it, and could very well do it again if it pleases him to do so. Stop squirming around this, and just answer the question. If God told you to kill your child, and you knew with 100% certainty that it was God telling you, would it be a good thing to kill your child?

    Reply: My reply is that God never does tempt us to evil. He can test us, but not tempt. However, the reason you see this as a problem is because you believe in absolute morality.

    Hamby: From this little discussion, we can see that not only do Christians have nothing solid on which to hang their moral hats, they actually have a very dangerous excuse for doing vicious and horrible things and calling them good, or at worst, neutral. A brief look through history (some of it not particularly far in the past) shows us many examples of people doing horrible things in the name of religion and calling them good. I’m not suggesting that every evil act ever committed by a Christian has been because of this kind of justification, but surely there have been many people who have used it.

    Reply: No. You have not shown a lack of a basis. You haven’t touched Natural Law theory at all. Furthermore, you are speaking of horrible acts being done and called good, and I agree, the church has done horrible acts and called them good.

    I can say that those acts were horrible and we should not desire that to happen because I believe in objective morality. Your stance is saying “There is nothing that is ultimately good or evil and we should stop the Christian idea of morality because it leads to evil!”

    Hamby: However, I want to make it perfectly clear that the Christian version of morality gives implicit and explicit permission for people to do evil and call it good.

    Reply: You haven’t given a Christian version of morality. In fact, you’ve practically denied there is a valid one. However, the only way there can be good acts or evil acts is to say there is objective morality. In fact, you’re saying Christians can do something evil and call it good but they’re wrong. How can they be wrong if there is no morality to be wrong about?

    Hamby: What does science say about morality?

    Reply: Nothing. Science tells you about the natural world and things that are material. Matter does not have the properties of good or evil. Those are either based elsewhere or judgments you are imposing on matter.

    Hamby: For that matter, what exactly is morality?

    Reply: Shouldn’t this have been the first question?

    Hamby: If morality is not absolute, what is it?

    Reply: Subjective.

    Hamby: If it’s not completely subjective, how do we decide what is right and what is wrong?

    Reply: Reason as natural law theory states.

    Hamby. Overall, you haven’t really given much of an argument. I have no reason to think you’ve done any real reading on Natural Law thinking and I’m wondering if you’ve merely read some theories instead of reading the philosophers themselves.

    You have not argued against objective morality, but rather based your case on it. Science can also not create morality. It can only discover what is already there and to find what is already there, it has to have a reality independent of us. If it does, what is the basis for the existence of that?

    Posted by apologianick | October 20, 2010, 7:02 pm
  3. Excellent post Nick!!!

    Posted by Devin | October 20, 2010, 7:13 pm
  4. @Nick, that rambling reply made nearly no sense (so I’d like some clarification).

    If I understand your argument correctly (and please, I’m not anywhere near certain about this, as you seem to contradict yourself several times), you’re saying that the morality is absolute, and that it was revealed by the bible.

    That the bible is not open to interpretation, except by you and people who get the same messages from it as you. Any other messages gotten from the text are incorrect. You assume that this is obvious to any reader of the text? As stated by hamby (who cares how many denominations there are exactly) there are many denominations (i.e. interpretations of the scripture), so which one is correct and why?

    And that we innately know right from wrong because God instilled it in us. Since morality is not a physical thing, science cannot tell us anything about it (since it needs an independent reality????), but scripture (i.e. the word of God, I’m guessing this is your definition of an independent reality????) can.

    Please help me understand this better, as right now you’re not making a very good case as to why I should believe in your magic sky father as the final arbiter of right and wrong.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 21, 2010, 6:31 am
  5. Nick: very good post, I thought you gave an excellent argument against the assertion that Christians don’t have a solid basis for morality.

    However–we do not need God as an ontological basis for morality. Natural processes, such as those described by evolutionary psychology, do just fine on their own.

    And religion is still left with a dangerous excuse for immoral behavior; the quote from Steven Weinberg says it all. “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

    I would certainly not accuse you of using God as an excuse to justify selfish, exploitative behavior, but I am concerned about many people I know, who have a belief in the moral authority of their religious leaders which is quite frankly dangerous.

    Posted by Ian | October 21, 2010, 8:34 am
  6. Okay. I hope I do the tag system right. Apologies if I don’t.

    To Alex

    @Nick, that rambling reply made nearly no sense (so I’d like some clarification).

    I think it’d be interesting to see how. Anything I say could be found in most any book on Natural Law theory.

    If I understand your argument correctly (and please, I’m not anywhere near certain about this, as you seem to contradict yourself several times), you’re saying that the morality is absolute, and that it was revealed by the bible.

    False. I am saying morality is absolute first off of course. Second, I am saying that some moral revelation can be found in the Bible, but there is nothing that is morally true because the Bible says it is. It is the reverse. The Bible says something is moral or immoral because it is. I do not need the Bible to know moral truths. In fact, when I discuss morality with non-Christians, the only reason I bring up the Bible is my opponent does. If I was giving an argument to Hamby on morality, I would not bring up the Bible at all. It’s irrelevant to the discussion.

    That the bible is not open to interpretation, except by you and people who get the same messages from it as you.

    False. The Bible can be interpreted by everyone and must be interpreted by everyone. The text of the Bible however has a meaning instilled in it by the author and that is found in the text and our interpretations can be false. The meaning does not lie in us. It lies in the text.

    Any other messages gotten from the text are incorrect.

    Obviously, if I hold to an interpretation of Scripture, I hold it because I think it is correct. Because I think it is correct does not mean it is correct. What determines if I am correct or not is the text. If you say we cannot know who has the correct interpretation, then I say you are denying meaning being in the text and we’re into reader-response criticism.

    You assume that this is obvious to any reader of the text?

    If I assumed it was obvious, I would not have told Hamby to read some commentaries and study the various passages nor recommended it at the end as the way to know the text. The biblical text must be studied just like any other text.

    As stated by hamby (who cares how many denominations there are exactly) there are many denominations (i.e. interpretations of the scripture), so which one is correct and why?

    The differences between denominations are minimal. I can freely worship with my brothers and sisters who are RCC, EO, and other orthodox Protestant groups. Sure, we disagree on some matters, but we’re not required to agree on everything. We agree on that which is essential for Christianity. We agree on the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith.

    And that we innately know right from wrong because God instilled it in us.

    Not exactly. We are hard-wired as it were to recognize right from wrong. Notice I have not even said yet how it is we really know right from wrong. I have not because Hamby only went to one source in philosophy which makes me wonder how much reading he’s really done on the topic.

    Since morality is not a physical thing, science cannot tell us anything about it (since it needs an independent reality????),

    Not exactly. Science tells you about a certain kind of being. Physics tells you about material being in motion. Astronomy tells you about material being in the heavens. Biology tells you about living material being. Morality is not material in any way. Science can give data we can use in studying morality, but it is tangential to the subject itself. The real study of morality involves more of theology, ethics, and philosophy in general.

    but scripture (i.e. the word of God, I’m guessing this is your definition of an independent reality????) can.

    You guess wrong in part. Scripture can tell us this, but it is not essential for us to know it. The claim of Scripture in fact is that the primary laws of morality are known apart from Scripture. The only reason I included Scripture is because Hamby did and his doing so I believe shows a lack of understanding on his part of Natural Law theory. That is going to Joe Christian to refute Christian morality instead of Christian scholarship on the issue.

    Please help me understand this better, as right now you’re not making a very good case as to why I should believe in your magic sky father as the final arbiter of right and wrong.

    First off, I don’t have a magic sky father as he doesn’t dwell in the sky and He is not a Father in the wooden literal sense but in the paternal sense as He is my patron.

    Second, I did not state the second part of my case because I am waiting for Hamby to reply. I never defined such terms as “good” and “evil”, but neither did Hamby. I find it interesting my atheist opponents always seem hesitant to define those words.

    Posted by apologianick | October 21, 2010, 8:56 am
  7. Now for Ian

    Nick: very good post, I thought you gave an excellent argument against the assertion that Christians don’t have a solid basis for morality.

    Thank you.

    However–we do not need God as an ontological basis for morality. Natural processes, such as those described by evolutionary psychology, do just fine on their own.

    To begin with, this is just an assertion without any backing for it. Do you really think I’d read this and go “Oh darn! Guess I’d better apostasize!”

    One could say evolution could explain how we came about the knowledge of these moral truths, but it cannot be demonstrated that evolution brought about these moral truths. If there are moral laws, they exist independently of us and thus before evolution took place.

    If you speak of our progressive understanding of morality, then I would ask “Progressing to what?” There has to be some ideal. The modern idea is to say we have progressed to the goal, and the goal is wherever we are now.

    Evolution could tell me why I believe such and such is right or wrong. It cannot tell me if it is. That depends on the definitions of good and evil and those are not material properties of something. They are ideas. They either correspond to something, in which there really is a good, or they are just ideas that we have created and thrown onto reality. If they are the latter, we are not saying anything true of reality. We are speaking of our conception of it and how can we say one person’s conception is better than another’s? We cannot, because there is not a true conception other than the one that realizes good and evil are just illusions and so who really cares?

    And religion is still left with a dangerous excuse for immoral behavior;

    Really? Please do tell me where my Christianity excuses immoral behavior. Note I am speaking of Scripture here. I am not speaking of Christians trying to justify themselves. In fact, my Scriptures exhort me to live a holy and godly life more and more and tell me that any sin I commit is not justifiable. If you are asking about justification, note that it is sinners who are justified in Christianity. Sin never is and never can be.

    Also, the reason I bring up the Bible here is that this is a claim about my religion and not about morality per se.

    the quote from Steven Weinberg says it all. “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

    Weinberg is a physicist. He is not an ethicist or a philosopher or a theologian. He can comment on those topics, but he is not an authority.

    The reality is people do evil every day and what is the common factor that they all have? It’s that their human. Wanting to pin the blame on religion every time is a nice scapegoat, but we all know that there have been atheist societies that have been quite destructive.

    This would also depend on your definition of good and evil, but anyone can work on being good. No one can be holy apart from God, and His goal for me is not just goodness, but holiness.

    I would certainly not accuse you of using God as an excuse to justify selfish, exploitative behavior, but I am concerned about many people I know, who have a belief in the moral authority of their religious leaders which is quite frankly dangerous.

    So am I, because the authority I am to point to the most in a person is Christ. Now if you want to speak of the evil in other religions such as Islam, I will be right there with you. I see Christianity however as a strong force for good throughout its history.

    I also note that you have spoken of morality and immorality but you too have yet to really give an ontological basis and just throwing out evolution as a catch-answer does not explain it.

    Posted by apologianick | October 21, 2010, 9:06 am
  8. Nick: “We are speaking of our conception of [reality] and how can we say one person’s conception is better than another’s?”

    There is only one way–the conception works. It makes testable predictions.

    And this goes for you the same as it does for me. If you’re going to insist that good and evil are not defined by their consequences, and exist in some abstract sense removed from the natural world, then there is no basis by which anyone could challenge your conception of good and evil. You could literally declare anything you want to be good, and do whatever you feel like.

    You say God is the ontological basis for the physical and mathematical laws which describe the natural processes of evolution, and I say God has no value as an ontological explanation. He requires a great deal of explanation himself, and it’s not clear to me why you assume that you need give no explanation for why he is at large and able to serve as a one-size-fits-all explanation for everything we don’t understand.

    So as far as having a complete ontological explanation for the universe goes, which explains why there is something rather than nothing and why the laws of physics and logic exist, I’ll admit that I don’t have it.

    But you don’t have it either. The difference between us is that you’ve accepted an explanation which you can’t explain in order to explain things. And whereas in your case you have a rational conception of morality–I would say it is the same as mine, only you say “made by God” while I say “made by nature”–other Christians have used this unexplainable explanation to justify evil behavior.

    And what can you say to them?

    The reason why your morality is good is because you have a respect for rationality, objectivity, and the natural world. Not because you believe in God. Many wicked religious people also believe in God, and they believe he condones their unethical behavior. Can you take them to God and ask him clarify things? No, you can’t. You can, however, demonstrate that a belief is irrational, subjective, and has no basis in the natural world. That’s all you can do.

    I know you will still say, “here you are talking about morality, but you still haven’t explained the ontological basis of it,” however I reserve the right to be skeptical of explanations that come from ancient mythology and involve talking animals. I believe science and secular philosophy have explained the ontological basis of morality as far is it can be explained.

    If you want me to explain all that to you, well, good grief. That’s an awful lot for a comment in a blog! And anyway, I think it’s more important to argue for why science and secular philosophy have value. I know that nobody is going to apostasize over my comments, but they might after reading the books Hamby recommended. If they understand the value of rational skepticism and follow it to its logical conclusion, then they might.

    Posted by Ian | October 21, 2010, 12:13 pm
  9. One final thing, re: “we all know that there have been atheist societies that have been quite destructive.”

    Certainly atheists can be evil, but I do not know of any that were persuaded to it by religion.

    To clarify things, I’m not suggesting that religion is the root of all evil. What Hamby was saying, and I was echoing, is that the religious belief that divine authority is the ontological basis for morality gives religious authority too much power, which it is liable to abuse.

    Posted by Ian | October 21, 2010, 12:26 pm
  10. <blockquoteNick: “We are speaking of our conception of [reality] and how can we say one person’s conception is better than another’s?”
    There is only one way–the conception works. It makes testable predictions.

    This is just fine in science, but it is not in every area. For instance, suppose I want to know if my wife loves me. I’m not going to do an experiment. I’m going to look at the evidence. Your statement ends up with a pragmatic form of truth in that something is true because it works. Aristotle gave a different view of truth which has been stated in a way that can be said in one syllable words.

    If a man says of a thing that it is, and it is, or that is not, and it is not, then he speaks the truth. If he says of what is, that it is not, or what is not, that it is, then he does not speak the truth.

    And this goes for you the same as it does for me.

    That’s a good assertion, but I see no reason to believe it.

    If you’re going to insist that good and evil are not defined by their consequences, and exist in some abstract sense removed from the natural world, then there is no basis by which anyone could challenge your conception of good and evil.

    False. They could look at the actual world. The ontology of good and evil does not depend on the natural world but it does affect the natural world. Huge difference there.

    Are consequences a part of my moral system? Absolutely! They’re not the only part. There’s also the reason behind the action and the action itself. If consequences are all that matter consider this experiment.

    100 men and 20 women are trapped on an island. Having no prospect of being rescued, the men grow bored and decide they need something to do. They decide based on their having more power than the women that they will rape the women at their pleasure and take turns doing so so all men can enjoy their sexual delights.

    100 men are very happy about this. 20 are not. Based on the consequences, more good is produced than evil. (To which, you have to have some definition of good in order to recognize that a consequence falls under that category)

    Another example: One company comes up with a product and by promoting it and selling it, causes the job loss of thousands of people.

    Does this happen? Yep. The automobile industry did it with the horse industry. The refrigeration industry did it with the ice industry. Would you say those were good? The people in the horse and ice industry might disagree. Upon what grounds do you say they’re right and you’re wrong?

    You could literally declare anything you want to be good, and do whatever you feel like.

    This is an interesting thing to say especially since I haven’t given my reason yet for how to determine if something is good or not. This would also be news to someone like Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics.

    You say God is the ontological basis for the physical and mathematical laws which describe the natural processes of evolution, and I say God has no value as an ontological explanation. He requires a great deal of explanation himself, and it’s not clear to me why you assume that you need give no explanation for why he is at large and able to serve as a one-size-fits-all explanation for everything we don’t understand.

    Oh? I assume this? Really? You mean I just willy-nilly decided God is the first cause and never thought about something like Dawkins’s 747 argument?

    To begin with, if all things need an explanation, then we have an infinite regress.

    Second, God is not “large” if I understand what you mean. In fact, His ontology is simple. Epistemologically, He is beyond our comprehension, but in his make-up, He is simple. Dawkins does not see this because Dawkins is not a philosopher. He is a scientist who can only think about things in scientific terms and thus makes God a material being like anything else.

    For instance, suppose you were to grant the existence of the laws of logic and I asked “How much do those weigh? Where are they located? What color are they?” Those are nonsense questions because those are descriptions of material objects.

    God is not like that. God in fact is simple because he is not part this + part that + part that. He is not a composite being. He is the source of all existence and He does not have derived existence. Anything else is at least the essence of that something plus its existence. That makes it composite in that regards. We are the essence of our existence, plus the matter that individuates us, plus existence that actualizes both of those.

    To say I assume such is disingenuous and tells me you assume your opponent is uninformed. Frankly, I laugh when I hear Dawkins’s argument.

    So as far as having a complete ontological explanation for the universe goes, which explains why there is something rather than nothing and why the laws of physics and logic exist, I’ll admit that I don’t have it.

    Good call.

    But you don’t have it either.

    Wrong call and a bad assumption on your part.

    The difference between us is that you’ve accepted an explanation which you can’t explain in order to explain things.

    Suppose i could not entirely explain my explanation, which to a degree of course I can’t since God is beyond my comprehension. That does not make my explanation false. It does not work to say “I don’t understand God, therefore he doesn’t exist.”

    And whereas in your case you have a rational conception of morality–I would say it is the same as mine, only you say “made by God” while I say “made by nature”–

    Made by nature? Tell me if you can how matter working together can bring about realities that aren’t material. If you can’t, well I’m just going to figure you’re working with a naturalism-of-the-gaps approach.

    other Christians have used this unexplainable explanation to justify evil behavior.

    Yep. They have.

    And what can you say to them?

    Simple. I say they’re wrong and I argue that.

    The reason why your morality is good is because you have a respect for rationality, objectivity, and the natural world.

    It’s not my morality. It’s morality. Morality is good regardless of what I think and even when I don’t like it.

    Not because you believe in God.

    My belief or disbelief in God would not change what morality is. It can change my behavior but not morality.

    Many wicked religious people also believe in God, and they believe he condones their unethical behavior.

    I also think you’re using God as a catch-all for any religious belief. Allah and YHWH are not the same. Islam and Christianity both believe in a different idea of God. However, yeah. Many people do evil thinking they’re doing God a service. Jesus even said the same in his time.

    Can you take them to God and ask him clarify things? No, you can’t.

    Why should I? Is God under an obligation to be a cheat sheet for every moral dilemma?

    You can, however, demonstrate that a belief is irrational, subjective, and has no basis in the natural world. That’s all you can do.

    First, all beliefs are subjective. The truth content of those beliefs are not. If you tell me you don’t believe in God and I tell you I do, well we can’t argue that. I’m not going to say “Yes! You do believe in God!” You’re not going to argue with me “No! You don’t believe in God!” We each grant what the other believes.

    What we disagree on is the content. Truth is not subjective. Belief is.

    Second, not all bad conclusions I think are ipso facto irrational. I think some people are being rational when they believe things that are wrong. It could be they’re not being rational enough or sometimes emotions are kicking in at too high an extreme.

    I know you will still say, “here you are talking about morality, but you still haven’t explained the ontological basis of it,” however I reserve the right to be skeptical of explanations that come from ancient mythology and involve talking animals.

    How many times have I said it? I don’t need the Bible to demonstrate my case so I can say “Fine! I won’t go to any myths or use the Bible and I’ll prove my case!” I haven’t had to use those to make my case so your skepticism of my belief is unfounded. This is also a genetic fallacy. For instance, the Bible teaches many things we know to be true, such as for example, the existence of the Hittites. That’s been confirmed independent of Scripture. Are you going to say “Well I don’t believe in the Hittite library because the Bible has talking animals!” Are you going to say “I don’t believe in the existence of Troy because it was part of a Greek myth!”?

    I believe science and secular philosophy have explained the ontological basis of morality as far is it can be explained.

    I believe philosophy has and I do not need Christian philosophy. I just use philosophy and if that leads to conclusions consistent with Christianity, great! They’re not ipso facto false because they do. I notice that when Hamby went to philosophy, he only used one philosopher. It makes me wonder how much reading has been done in philosophy.

    If you want me to explain all that to you, well, good grief. That’s an awful lot for a comment in a blog!

    It didn’t stop me.

    And anyway, I think it’s more important to argue for why science and secular philosophy have value.

    Why? I have no disagreements with value coming from science or philosophy. I just think each field should stick to the subject of its study. I’m not going to debate the finer points of physics as a philosopher untrained in that area. Dawkins should not try the finer points of philosopher as a scientist untrained in that area.

    I know that nobody is going to apostasize over my comments, but they might after reading the books Hamby recommended. If they understand the value of rational skepticism and follow it to its logical conclusion, then they might.

    Here’s something you need to know about Christians like myself. We read those types of books for fun. We think they’re very amusing and we like how they are consistently unaware of the arguments we have for our worldview. Your giving me that sound bite from a physicist earlier shows me that he doesn’t understand my worldview, but the belief is that a soundbite will work. I also know that line since Stenger used it as well, and yes, Stenger also does not have a clue about the beliefs he argues against and in his study of the topic, he is a poor researcher.

    Posted by Nick | October 21, 2010, 12:45 pm
  11. Psychology shows that people find non-religious reasons to acts of charity therefore religion doesn’t increase charity, which is all well and good, but you seem to refuse to apply that logic the other way and say psychology shows that people find non-religious reason to act in evil.

    Do you just skip over the parts where I say this repeatedly? Did you not read the Steven Weinberg quote? Why is it so hard for you to just admit that I agree with you?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 21, 2010, 1:10 pm
  12. I would jump into the discussion between Nick and Ian, but I’d just be repeating things that have already been said. Good work, Ian.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 21, 2010, 1:11 pm
  13. Certainly atheists can be evil, but I do not know of any that were persuaded to it by religion.

    So much for the Weinberg quote, then.

    Posted by David | October 21, 2010, 1:16 pm
  14. Nick: very good post, I thought you gave an excellent argument against the assertion that Christians don’t have a solid basis for morality.

    Ian, I maintain that most Christians are good people. While I think that a couple of their moral dictates are wrong-headed and ultimately harmful, I still think that on balance, they’re fair, kind, and generally good to their fellow man. This is because — as Nick and I agree — a sense of right and wrong is instilled in humans. Clearly we disagree as to the source of morality, but not its existence.

    However, in espousing Weinberg’s position, I am also suggesting that a wrong-headed assumption of the source of morality can and does lead to well-meaning people doing wrong things and believing them right.

    Further, I believe that the open-ended justification for calling anything at all “good” is a HUGE temptation, not necessarily for blatant atrocity, which is relatively rare even in highly religious cultures, but for the day to day justification of our existing biases and fears. In a nutshell, I believe that True Believers are good not because of their system of morality, but in spite of it.

    Nick: I have been very open-minded about what you do or do not know. When I have been uncertain, as in the case of Dawkins, I have asked. I would appreciate the same courtesy from you. Your guesses about my level of familiarity with your beliefs are approaching insulting at times, and it’s hard for me to believe you aren’t trying to subtly portray me as too ignorant to be discussing these topics with you.

    In the future, if you believe I am unfamiliar with a concept, it would be better to avoid the rhetorical flourishes and simply explain what you think I don’t understand.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 21, 2010, 1:42 pm
  15. Ian, I maintain that most Christians are good people. While I think that a couple of their moral dictates are wrong-headed and ultimately harmful, I still think that on balance, they’re fair, kind, and generally good to their fellow man.

    But Hamby, this is an inconsistent position to take if you believe morality is subjective. If it isn’t subjective, then you need to explain the basis of morality.

    This is because — as Nick and I agree — a sense of right and wrong is instilled in humans. Clearly we disagree as to the source of morality, but not its existence.

    In your free-will essay however, you say morality is subjective. Here, you say it’s absolute. Which is it?

    However, in espousing Weinberg’s position, I am also suggesting that a wrong-headed assumption of the source of morality can and does lead to well-meaning people doing wrong things and believing them right.

    Does it? Or could it be that what leads them to do wrong is a problem with the will instead?

    Further, I believe that the open-ended justification for calling anything at all “good” is a HUGE temptation, not necessarily for blatant atrocity, which is relatively rare even in highly religious cultures, but for the day to day justification of our existing biases and fears. In a nutshell, I believe that True Believers are good not because of their system of morality, but in spite of it.

    You do know a Christian view condemns subjective morality. Right?

    Nick: I have been very open-minded about what you do or do not know. When I have been uncertain, as in the case of Dawkins, I have asked. I would appreciate the same courtesy from you. Your guesses about my level of familiarity with your beliefs are approaching insulting at times, and it’s hard for me to believe you aren’t trying to subtly portray me as too ignorant to be discussing these topics with you.

    I believe in going where the evidence leads and frankly Hamby, I don’t see familiarity with the material. I know the arguments that are made by Natural Law theorists and your pointing to the Bible repeatedly tells me you don’t know them. I also see when you went to Philosophy that you only covered one philosopher. I am justified in asking if you have read philosophy. I am also justified in asking your familiarity with biblical commentaries since you post problems with the text that good commentators deal with.

    The way to disprove me is to point to sources you used.

    In the future, if you believe I am unfamiliar with a concept, it would be better to avoid the rhetorical flourishes and simply explain what you think I don’t understand.

    If I am skeptical, I am skeptical and I point it out. I do not see any familiarity with Natural Law thinking and I think that hampers your case as you’re dealing with Joe Christian rather than Christian scholarship.

    Posted by Nick | October 21, 2010, 1:53 pm
  16. Do you just skip over the parts where I say this repeatedly?

    My concern was how you apply the logic.

    Basically, you argue that people do good for non-religious reasons to address the concern that people would do less good without religion.

    That’s all well and good, but you only apply the logic halfway. I was merely applying that same logic to the arguement that there will be less evil without religion. You fail to grasp that whenever I bring up the naughty things people do without religion.

    People do good things without religion therefore getting rid of religion will not reduce the good.

    People do bad religion therefore…………..

    Is that not the same logic?

    Get it? It had nothing to do with whether you agree or not that people do naughty things without religion, or what a Noble Prize winner in physics said.

    Did you not read the Steven Weinberg quote?

    Yes I read it. Aside from the fact it has nothing to do with my comment, I might as well address it anyway since you brought it up.

    First of religious beliefs are egocentric, ergo how can religion turn a good person into a bad person if they are using themselves as a reference?

    Now you may say “But Christianity creates unresolvable subjective morality!!” [See, I did read your article] the point is moot because how can religion make a good person do bad things if they project their own morality [good] onto religion?

    Second of all Wienberg and the atheist movement seem hesitent to give a number of how many theists who did bad things were bad in the first place, or how many were good and turned evil by evil religion let alone offer a method to distinguish between them.

    Third of all, that quote seems to serve as a replacement and subsitute to any and all empirical research into the subject.

    Why is it so hard for you to just admit that I agree with you?

    Because I don’t. You seem very insisnt that I do.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 21, 2010, 2:06 pm
  17. That’s all well and good, but you only apply the logic halfway. I was merely applying that same logic to the arguement that there will be less evil without religion. You fail to grasp that whenever I bring up the naughty things people do without religion.

    And you seem incapable of understanding the unique property of faith for justifying the otherwise unjustifiable. You just gloss over it as if it has no effect on the universe whatsoever. We’ve been through this exercise at least a half a dozen times, and every time, you end up admitting that some things are easier to justify with faith than without it.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 21, 2010, 3:24 pm
  18. We’ve been through this exercise at least a half a dozen times, and every time, you end up admitting that some things are easier to justify with faith than without it.

    and in those half a dozen times, I’ve pointed out that it your view only works if you assume that humans are rational. Can you name a single person that’s 100% rational 100% of the time? I’ve also brought up attribution bias at least half a dozen times etc….

    Your view basically breaks down to “people wouldn’t think the way they did if they didn’t think the way they did.”

    It’s like saying the running somebody over with an 18 ton truck is a good way to murder someone , therefore if we get rid of 18 ton trucks there will be less murder.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 21, 2010, 3:54 pm
  19. Alison, I hope you take this as a compliment: I’m not going to do this with you right now. Rather than pore over ancient comments and rehash the same argument, I’m going to devote my time to this influx of readers who are at much more serious loggerheads than you and I.

    If we never agree on this matter, that’ll be a shame, but it won’t be the worst thing that could happen. You and I agree on more than we disagree, and I’m going to let this rest for a while. It’s a larger meta-argument, and I have more basic things to do right now.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 21, 2010, 4:19 pm
  20. @Hamby: I think we agree on this. I only sympathize with Nick because he’s getting lumped into the same group as all the Christians who define morality in biblical terms rather than relating it to something reasonable. Nick is basically saying, “Whatever logic, conscience, and observation of the natural world tell us, that’s what’s true. But God created it.” I think that’s a solid enough basis, notwithstanding that he’s added an unnecessary element to the issue.

    @David: the gist of the Weinberg quote is that it takes religion to get a good person to do evil. I said that I didn’t know of an atheist who had ever been persuaded to evil by religion. I’m not sure what your objection is.

    @Nick: I’m using “at large” in the idiomatic sense, not to mean that God is “large” in some way. You said:

    “Here’s something you need to know about Christians like myself. We read those types of books for fun. We think they’re very amusing and we like how they are consistently unaware of the arguments we have for our worldview.”

    Yes, my definition of truth was overly restrictive. You made a good point there. But honestly, if you realized that we had actually considered your arguments, then maybe you would finally take a hard look at your central assumption: that any explanation, no matter how irrational and far removed from the real world it might be, is better than no explanation at all.

    Posted by Ian | October 21, 2010, 5:03 pm
  21. Hi Ian. I made a response where I answered false assumptions you have made about my beliefs.

    Would you like to address those?

    Posted by apologianick | October 21, 2010, 5:23 pm
  22. Nick: What false assumptions did I make about your beliefs?

    I’m going to try to address this quickly, as I have young kids and don’t have endless time for this. But here goes.

    “If there are moral laws, they exist independently of us and thus before evolution took place.”

    No. Morality has no meaning apart from a context in which it is meaningful. If you want to try to define it anyway, apart from its context, then you cannot constrain it to be one thing rather than another.

    I’m not making assumptions about your beliefs here, I’m disputing them.

    “God is not “large” if I understand what you mean.”

    You do not, as I stated above.

    “His ontology is simple. Epistemologically, He is beyond our comprehension, but in his make-up, He is simple…He is the source of all existence and He does not have derived existence.”

    You tell me these things about God, but you cannot demonstrate any of them. You have no evidence or explanatory theory for any of this. You say, “There are these natural laws. They must have a source. Therefore, God.” That doesn’t follow, and you are making a baseless assumption here. One which sounds an awful like ancient mythology.

    “First, all beliefs are subjective. The truth content of those beliefs are not.”

    I’m not being as formal as all that. This a comment in a blog, fer chrissake. What you did there was to nitpick over semantics rather than address my argument, which is that God is irrelevant in determining whether a thing is true or not, moral or not. You can, however, ask whether it is rational, objective, and supported by evidence.

    ” I don’t need the Bible to demonstrate my case so I can say “Fine! I won’t go to any myths or use the Bible and I’ll prove my case!” I haven’t had to use those to make my case so your skepticism of my belief is unfounded.”

    In this case you are correct; if I assumed wrong, and you do not believe the Biblical account of creation, then you have my deepest apologies.

    If not, then I think my skepticism of your belief is well founded. Whether or not other parts of the Bible or Iliad may be historical, if your explanation for the ontological basis of morality is an ancient creation myth with a talking snake in it, then you should expect me to be skeptical.

    “Suppose i could not entirely explain my explanation, which to a degree of course I can’t since God is beyond my comprehension. That does not make my explanation false. It does not work to say “I don’t understand God, therefore he doesn’t exist.”

    I’m not saying he doesn’t exist because I don’t understand him. There are many things which science can demonstrate to be true, and I don’t need to understand them to see that they work.

    What I’m asking for is evidence. Something demonstrable.

    “Is God under an obligation to be a cheat sheet for every moral dilemma?”

    I submit that morality is really colorful magic sneezed from the nose of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. She demands that everyone obey her morality, exactly as she sneezed it.

    What is that, you say? Which morality is the one true morality sneezed from her invisible nose? Impudence! She is under no obligation to a cheat sheet for every moral dilemma.

    “Made by nature? Tell me if you can how matter working together can bring about realities that aren’t material.”

    The natural world isn’t restricted to matter. As it happens, I believe that the qualia aspect of consciousness is a mystery, and may well be a fundamental phenomenon. You could call it immaterial, but that wouldn’t imply the existence of a creator with omni-max properties, manifested in three distinct hypostases.

    Posted by Ian | October 21, 2010, 7:00 pm
  23. You tell me these things about God, but you cannot demonstrate any of them. You have no evidence or explanatory theory for any of this. You say, “There are these natural laws. They must have a source. Therefore, God.” That doesn’t follow, and you are making a baseless assumption here. One which sounds an awful like ancient mythology.

    I am making no assumption. I will gladly make arguments for these positions just like Aristotle did and just like Aquinas did following him. Of course, I can’t repeat the Metaphysics of Aristotle or the Prima Pars of the Summa Theologica of Aquinas here, but I will say that God is the being who is pure actuality necessary for the first cause. Because of this, he cannot have any limiting principles nor can he have passive potential in His nature as that would make it possible for Him to change. Thus, when we reason, when we want to know what the first cause is, we have to know what separates the first cause from everything else. To do that, we look at what it means to be. The first cause does not participate in being or else it needs an explanation for its coming into being. It would have existence of the same kind as everything else also.

    Instead, God has an existence that is His very nature in that “That God is” is equal to “What God is.” His existence is His essence which means He alone does not have derived existence. He cannot change his mode of being for that would mean going from one grade of being to another and thus changing in His existence and making him participate in existence.

    I’m not being as formal as all that. This a comment in a blog, fer chrissake. What you did there was to nitpick over semantics rather than address my argument,

    Yes. I addressed semantics because I believe words have meaning and I watch carefully what I say and what others say.

    which is that God is irrelevant in determining whether a thing is true or not, moral or not.

    One does not need God-belief to epistemologically determine those things, correct. One does need God for those terms to have any meaning or basis ontologically.

    You can, however, ask whether it is rational, objective, and supported by evidence.

    Which is what I do with every belief I have.

    In this case you are correct; if I assumed wrong, and you do not believe the Biblical account of creation, then you have my deepest apologies.

    I believe in creation, though my understanding of Genesis 1 is more functional in basis than belief in a material origins, though I do attribute the material origins to God. How long ago it was? What scientists have determined. Not a problem. That is irrelevant. I do however believe in God. My belief on creation however is irrelevant to the truthfulness or falsity of my moral belief.

    If not, then I think my skepticism of your belief is well founded. Whether or not other parts of the Bible or Iliad may be historical, if your explanation for the ontological basis of morality is an ancient creation myth with a talking snake in it, then you should expect me to be skeptical.

    My basis for morality is God and if the Bible has errors in it, then oh well. That won’t change my position. I also don’t believe in a talking snake and I don’t believe you are understanding the passage. I think the being that was there was quite different.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t exist because I don’t understand him. There are many things which science can demonstrate to be true, and I don’t need to understand them to see that they work.

    Correct.

    What I’m asking for is evidence. Something demonstrable.

    Fine. I think that’s admirable. I don’t think God wants people to have blind faith in Him. I would ask you to simply explain how it is that everything is existing right now. What is the basis for being itself?

    I submit that morality is really colorful magic sneezed from the nose of the Invisible Pink Unicorn. She demands that everyone obey her morality, exactly as she sneezed it.

    Which to me is the fundamentalist atheist thinking I’m used to seeing. It’s the view condemned in Christians but the same mindset applied to atheism.

    What is that, you say? Which morality is the one true morality sneezed from her invisible nose? Impudence! She is under no obligation to a cheat sheet for every moral dilemma.

    This in on way addresses what I said.

    The natural world isn’t restricted to matter. As it happens, I believe that the qualia aspect of consciousness is a mystery, and may well be a fundamental phenomenon. You could call it immaterial, but that wouldn’t imply the existence of a creator with omni-max properties, manifested in three distinct hypostases.

    No. It wouldn’t. It would however imply that there is something beyond matter and we would have to ask about its being. Of course, I still look for an explanation from you for this. You can say you don’t accept mine, but you need to give yours.

    Posted by apologianick | October 21, 2010, 7:17 pm
  24. @Nick,

    Actually we don’t have to give our beliefs on what thing beyond matter or whatever to disbelieve yours.

    As you’ve described your beliefs, I don’t believe them. Doesn’t matter what mine are, I think yours are wrong. Or rather, I don’t think they’re provable to be right, and Hamby’s argument against them makes sense from this perspective. That’s why I’m agnostic (why ask unanswerable questions, science can answer a lot without any discussion on ‘God’).

    We could all be living in some simulation. In which case anyone with the appropriate access and skills outside that simulation could effectively be ‘God’ in any sense they wanted. Including yours, or (the total opposite, we’re the real world and their is no first cause, our universe is on some cosmic cycle that has always existed, period). It could be the damn spaghetti monster for fraks sake.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 22, 2010, 12:55 am
  25. Nick wrote: “I can’t repeat the Metaphysics of Aristotle or the Prima Pars of the Summa Theologica of Aquinas here, but I will say that God is the being who is pure actuality necessary for the first cause.”

    Aristotle also stated that an object’s speed of fall was proportional to the weight, which illustrates the danger inherent to deriving truth through pure reasoning.

    You say I need to give an explanation for being to counter yours, which is based on speculation by Aristotle and a medieval philosopher. Come on! Really?

    You are that confident that you’re right and I’m wrong. Your beliefs about the nature of existence belong to a mode of thought which predates science, and you find the skeptical arguments of atheists to be amusing?

    Now I’m not saying that Aristotle was wrong about everything–of course he wasn’t. But what we learned when the age of reason dawned was that if one makes a physical or metaphysical claim, that claim needs to be backed up by evidence. It needs to be demonstrable. Otherwise, you might as well be talking about flying spaghetti monsters and invisible pink unicorns.

    Alex is right. I don’t have to give my argument. This is what you don’t understand. This what you’re not hearing. It’s okay to be skeptical of a claim, to reject it based on it being a weak claim, and yet not counter it with a claim of your own. Which is the appropriate thing to do, rather than presume to know more than one does.

    Posted by Ian | October 22, 2010, 6:18 am
  26. @Ian.

    Aristotle also stated that an object’s speed of fall was proportional to the weight, which illustrates the danger inherent to deriving truth through pure reasoning.

    Perhaps it would do you well to read Kuhn on scientific revolutions and why Aristotle thought the way he did. I’m not saying all of Aristotle is right, but you’re bringing up how he was wrong in one area and then implying “Therefore, I don’t need to deal with this other area.”

    No. You deal with each argument in its own merit.

    You say I need to give an explanation for being to counter yours, which is based on speculation by Aristotle and a medieval philosopher. Come on! Really?

    Yes. Really. When someone puts forward an argument. It’s good to put forward a counter-position. Also, this is not based on speculation. They each gave reasons for what they believed. Even if they were wrong, they gave reasons.

    Of course, if you can’t, that’s fine. I figured you were a man of faith.

    You are that confident that you’re right and I’m wrong. Your beliefs about the nature of existence belong to a mode of thought which predates science, and you find the skeptical arguments of atheists to be amusing?

    On the contrary, science really began with the Greeks and Aristotle got much right in that area. Aquinas’s own teacher Albert Magus wrote often on science. Why was it not developed as much in that age however? People were more interested in survival and feeding their families and had a lack of leisure time. Therefore, when they studied science, they studied sciences that were more practical, such as medicine. Healing the sick was important to their living. Knowing the rotation of the planets was not. I’m not saying that knowledge of the heavens is unimportant, but they were a different society and technology had not developed yet to allow for leisure time and proper means of study.

    However, if you want the relationship of science and religion, I would suggest getting past anything that refers to Andrew Dickson White’s books on the topic. Much of history presented from the atheist perspective that I see is revisionist, such as the idea that the ancients and medievals believed the Earth was flat. There is not a shred of truth to that, but it’s evangelized as if it was common knowledge.

    Now I’m not saying that Aristotle was wrong about everything–of course he wasn’t. But what we learned when the age of reason dawned was that if one makes a physical or metaphysical claim, that claim needs to be backed up by evidence. It needs to be demonstrable.

    Seriously, have you ever read Aristotle? He backs his claims so much that it gets tedious. Honestly, he’s a major bore to read. (If you ever have insomnia one night, read something of his like the history of elephants and you’ll get the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had) Was he wrong? Yes. That does not mean he sought to demonstrate his claims. The same was done with ideas of Phlogiston and such. There were reasons to believe these claims at the time. There were reasons people believed the universe was eternal and then they believed in a steady-state theory. They were wrong, but they did their best to demonstrate this.

    Otherwise, you might as well be talking about flying spaghetti monsters and invisible pink unicorns.

    And I don’t know the Aristotle you’re talking about. The one I know of wrote profusely to back his claims.

    Alex is right. I don’t have to give my argument. This is what you don’t understand. This what you’re not hearing. It’s okay to be skeptical of a claim, to reject it based on it being a weak claim, and yet not counter it with a claim of your own. Which is the appropriate thing to do, rather than presume to know more than one does.

    That’s okay. I know you’re a man of faith.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 8:46 am
  27. I like the sly attempts at insults, but disbelieving you doesn’t say anything about what someone does believe. Calling someone who disbelieves what you say a person of faith is asinine. Faith is the belief in something that cannot be proven (kind of opposite disbelieving someone because they’ve failed to convince you).

    You seem convinced that disbelieving you implies some sort of belief in something else. This is sadly incorrect.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 22, 2010, 10:56 am
  28. @Alex.

    Alex. I believe when we read the Bible, we should use the words as they would be understood by the audience at the time.

    The Greek word for faith is pistis.

    Could you show me any authoritative source giving it the definition that you gave above?

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 10:59 am
  29. Nick, instead of continuing this tactic of alluding to special knowledge from your super secret Systematic Theology decoder ring, why don’t you just grab one of your books, type the definition you’d like us to work with into edit window, and hit “Submit Reply”?

    I was thinking a bit last night about the difference in your style of discussion and mine, and something occurred to me. You’ll notice that I don’t do a lot of name-dropping. That’s by design. You see, ideas are awesome that way. They are not dependent upon the author for truth value. One can simply dispense with the pretense of cliquishness and present the concepts alone. That way, whether or not someone cares to know the origin of an idea, he or she can grasp the idea quickly and easily.

    You’ve made repeated attempts to win the day by telling us that we don’t know what you’re talking about. There are two ways we could resolve this. First, we could each list every book we’ve ever read (making special note of authors with important sounding names). When it became obvious that both of us are very well read, but that the number of books on earth is too staggeringly large for either of us to have put a dent in it, we could wander away, resigned to the fact that we can never communicate with each other again for lack of common ground.

    Or alternatively, you could adopt the approach I use, which is to simply write out the concepts I’m talking about.

    You might counter by saying that they are far too complex to write out on a blog. And that point might have some validity. But in your science classes, you’ve surely been taught how to write an abstract. (I am told by reliable sources that they even do that at seminary.) Reduce the concept to its essence, and you might be surprised (or mortified?) to learn that we know exactly what you’re talking about, and that even if we haven’t read the particular sacred text you’re talking about, we’ve encountered the idea separate from its author.

    Because ideas do that. They leave the pages of the book in which they were written and take up residence in minds.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 12:32 pm
  30. @Nick, again, your attempts to sound more intelligent do not answer any questions.

    From wikipedia: As with trust, faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief “not resting on logical proof or material evidence.

    To me (with my feeble brain and complete lack of any deep understanding of theology beyond the actual bible as delivered to the massive number of Christians in america) “not resting on logical proof or material evidence” sounds strikingly similar to “a belief in something that cannot be proven”.

    I’ll stand by while you figure out how to prove something “not resting on logical proof or material evidence”.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 22, 2010, 1:58 pm
  31. @Hamby

    Nick, instead of continuing this tactic of alluding to special knowledge from your super secret Systematic Theology decoder ring, why don’t you just grab one of your books, type the definition you’d like us to work with into edit window, and hit “Submit Reply”?

    Why? Because I believe if people speak about something, they should know what they’re talking about. If they’re making a claim, that should be a true claim. Alex made a claim. Do you care about him giving justification for why he believes this claim is true? I do.

    Also, it’s not a decoder ring. It’s actually just research. Go to a library and get out the books. If you have a Seminary nearby, you can look up Greek lexicons and such and find the meaning of words.

    Dawkins gives a similar definition. So does Stenger. So does Harris. I’m just wondering where it comes from? If you don’t have any basis for thinking that’s what pistis means, then it seems that you have the faith that the new atheists condemn.

    I was thinking a bit last night about the difference in your style of discussion and mine, and something occurred to me. You’ll notice that I don’t do a lot of name-dropping. That’s by design. You see, ideas are awesome that way. They are not dependent upon the author for truth value. One can simply dispense with the pretense of cliquishness and present the concepts alone. That way, whether or not someone cares to know the origin of an idea, he or she can grasp the idea quickly and easily.

    Armchair philosophy doesn’t interest me. I want to know people have read the works of great minds that have come before or are at least attempting to read them. Why do I give names? Because I realize the people who came before me are smarter than I am and they could be the ones capable of beating me up and taking my lunch money. I think Plato was wrong for instance, but I also see him as a greater intellect.

    If you know the authors, you can give the names so people can see a more full outlook of where you come from. If it’s just you, I have no way of knowing what real research you did beforehand.

    You’ve made repeated attempts to win the day by telling us that we don’t know what you’re talking about. There are two ways we could resolve this. First, we could each list every book we’ve ever read (making special note of authors with important sounding names).

    No. You could just list some sources. I asked if you’d read any commentaries or systematic theologies. The reply would be to list the ones you’ve read. There was an inability to do so as if the remark got at pride.

    When it became obvious that both of us are very well read, but that the number of books on earth is too staggeringly large for either of us to have put a dent in it, we could wander away, resigned to the fact that we can never communicate with each other again for lack of common ground.

    No. Then we interact on the ideas that are held in common realizing we’ve both done proper homework. Right now, I see straw men with regards to Natural Law theory and whereas the Bible is concerned, questions that are really simple, such as the one about the sixth commandment. I also see I’ve told you before that a view is inaccurate. You could tell me why my objection is wrong, but instead, you go to another post and spout it off again.

    Or alternatively, you could adopt the approach I use, which is to simply write out the concepts I’m talking about.

    But without reference to great thinkers, it makes me think you’re just unfamiliar with them.

    You might counter by saying that they are far too complex to write out on a blog. And that point might have some validity.

    Complex ideas require more to explain, but giving a source helps make it clearer.

    But in your science classes, you’ve surely been taught how to write an abstract. (I am told by reliable sources that they even do that at seminary.)

    Actually, when I write in abstract on philosophy, I even then use sources. I keep in mind what the great thinkers said in memory so I can have them by my side when need be.

    Reduce the concept to its essence, and you might be surprised (or mortified?) to learn that we know exactly what you’re talking about, and that even if we haven’t read the particular sacred text you’re talking about, we’ve encountered the idea separate from its author.

    I haven’t referred to any sacred text. There’s only one way I can know if my opponents have done their homework. I look at what they say.

    Because ideas do that. They leave the pages of the book in which they were written and take up residence in minds.

    They do, and the good mind is one that refers to them regularly and realizes he is their disciple. They are not his.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 3:57 pm
  32. @Alex

    @Nick, again, your attempts to sound more intelligent do not answer any questions.

    Hmmm. Someone comes here pointing to the works of great thinkers and that’s seen as attempting to sound more intelligent.

    ooooooooooookay.

    From wikipedia: As with trust, faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief “not resting on logical proof or material evidence.

    Wikipedia is not a valid source and is in fact the worst source that could be cited. If you want to know what pistis means, you’re actually going to have to get out a few books on Greek and see what commentators and experts in the Greek language said.

    To me (with my feeble brain and complete lack of any deep understanding of theology beyond the actual bible as delivered to the massive number of Christians in america) “not resting on logical proof or material evidence” sounds strikingly similar to “a belief in something that cannot be proven”

    Neither one of those is a definition of faith.
    .

    I’ll stand by while you figure out how to prove something “not resting on logical proof or material evidence”.

    Don’t have to. I don’t have modern faith. I have biblical faith, a word you’re showing you don’t know the definition of.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 4:00 pm
  33. Nick, would you please use your words and give us a definition of “biblical faith” that suits you?

    I don’t know how else to ask this. Would you like to do a comprehensive review of Wittgenstein before I’ve sufficiently demonstrated to you that I understand the limits of language well enough to ask that you please do your best to communicate to me which concept the word “faith” refers to in your lexicon?

    I promise, if you write it out and I don’t understand it, I’ll ask you for more clarification. I promise. Really. I do.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 4:06 pm
  34. @Hamby.

    Nope. If someone makes a truth claim, I like them to back their truth claim. All it will require is a few minutes of doing research.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 4:08 pm
  35. Issue 1:

    Wow guys, really good debate. I admit I am not well read in this area but I do know a little bit about argument. Maybe, could you start your comments some agreed upon form? For example:

    My Claim: A comes before B.
    My Evidence: I know it because I was taught it in school or I have used it that way myself or I have these links/books that show A comes before B.

    Then maybe you can isolate what the differences and similarities are in your arguments.

    Issue 2:

    The theists are here because they are afraid for the atheist’s mortal souls. They want very much for God to use these words of this debate to melt your heart and for you to have a conversion experience and be transformed into a believer.

    The atheists are here because they are afraid of the destructive power of illogical beliefs and the massive power associated with the Christian Industrial Complex that leads to emotional bondage, oppression, violence and even death.

    You are all here out of a genuine love and concern for the wellbeing of people that you most likely you will never meet. That is really stunning and I hold all of you in the highest regards!

    So maybe agree on a form for debating particular issues and never lose sight of the honest intentions of your “opponents.”

    Posted by Fey Wyndom | October 22, 2010, 5:12 pm
  36. Oh, I also wanted to articulate that the theists are not only afraid for the atheists’ souls but want the atheist to have the same joy and peace in this life that they find through their salvation.

    Posted by Fey Wyndom | October 22, 2010, 5:20 pm
  37. Certainly atheists can be evil, but I do not know of any that were persuaded to it by religion.

    So much for the Weinberg quote, then.

    David, I am sorry I missed this comment. I would like for you to clarify if possible. The meaning of Weinberg’s quote is that there is a baseline of good and evil (and I’m using those words with a grain of salt, which you understand from my article on morality). Without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. So it makes sense that atheists would do some bad things. I don’t know anyone who’s ever denied that.

    The salient point is that religion adds a new catalyst to the equation, by which religious people have an added justification for doing evil and calling it good. (The justification, of course, comes from the claim that morality exists separate from its effect on people.) Thus, the only claim of any real significance in the quote is that religious people will do evil over and above what others do. It doesn’t even address the evil done by atheists.

    So… I’m a little confused as to why you think atheists doing evil invalidates the quote. Could you explain?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 5:40 pm
  38. Nick wrote: “I don’t have modern faith. I have biblical faith, a word you’re showing you don’t know the definition of.”

    How many Christians know the definition of it? Honestly, your beliefs are not at all representative of the Christians I grew up with. I suspect there are more atheists in the world than theists of your persuasion.

    Posted by Ian | October 22, 2010, 6:04 pm
  39. @Ian

    How many Christians know the definition of it?

    Too few. Looks like you don’t know it either. Doesn’t work to punt to others not knowing as justification. If you’re going to address faith, you need to know what the authors of Scripture meant by the term.

    Honestly, your beliefs are not at all representative of the Christians I grew up with. I suspect there are more atheists in the world than theists of your persuasion.

    And I’ll join you in that problem. Personally, you might think the new atheists rail against people in the church not knowing what they believe and not having a good reason to believe, but I rail against it more. (Not saying there is no good reason to believe, but most Christians don’t know those reasons to believe. They’re quite happy living with “warm fuzzies” or a “personal relationship” more than actual study and knowledge)

    Now do you have a definition of pistis yet?

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:08 pm
  40. Nick, I’ve been sitting on my definition of pistis since you mentioned it the first time. It’s right here in my Greek concordance, and I found multiple corroborating sources, both online and at the bookstore earlier today.

    By my count, it’s used 234 times in the New Testament, though I just added it in my head, so I may be off.

    Now, why don’t you use your words and give us your interpretation of what the word means. Because I’m looking it square in the face and it looks like I’ve pretty well covered this meaning in my treatment of faith.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 6:21 pm
  41. Nick wrote: “When someone puts forward an argument. It’s good to put forward a counter-position.”

    Eh? So if we’re out to test a hypothesis–sorry, I’m taking you on excursion from the ivory tower of philosophy here–if we want to test a hypothesis, we need to put forward a counter-hypothesis?

    This is one of the major differences between us; I rely on science for my information on the cosmos, and not so much on philosophy. Nothing against philosophy, but science has proved far more useful for discovering truth.

    However, if you must have a counter-position, allow me to refer you to Buddhist ontology. I’m not going to argue that with you, but if you don’t understand what a skeptical position is and must have an atheistic ontology as a counter to your position, then have at it. You’re welcome.

    “I figured you were a man of faith.”

    You’re confusing “faith” with “skepticism.” Might want to look into that.

    Posted by Ian | October 22, 2010, 6:24 pm
  42. @hamby

    Great! Then you can give the definition since you think you’ve got it and we can go from there.

    Also, a concordance won’t tell you what the word means really. Just how much it’s used.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:25 pm
  43. @Ian. Science is great for telling you about matter. Not so good for anything beyond that. The claim I’m making is not a material claim. It’s one about the nature of being rather than a type of being.

    As for being a man of faith, yes, using the definition that the new atheists put forward, I believe you are a man of faith. If I used the biblical definition, you wouldn’t fit it.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:27 pm
  44. Great! Then you can give the definition since you think you’ve got it and we can go from there.

    Also, a concordance won’t tell you what the word means really. Just how much it’s used.

    Damn, it sure feels like you’re insinuating that I’m stupid. Pardon me, Nick. I typed concordance instead of dictionary. Oh yeah, I have a concordance, too. Counted the usages in it. Some people might chalk that up to typing faster than thinking. But thank you for the basic definition of concordance.

    Just tell me what you have in your head that corresponds to the word “pistis.” Use your words and tell me what it means. Considering the fact that you disagree with just about every other Christian I’ve met, the odds aren’t good that the standard definition will suit you.

    In the time and words you’ve used to avoid just saying what you think it is, you could’ve written a chapter and a half of actual information so that I could evaluate YOUR beliefs, since it’s quite clear that you know with some sort of certainty (faith?) that I don’t understand them.

    Just to prove to you that I’m capable of opening a dictionary, here’s a cut and paste from Studylight.org that is close enough to my dictionary. Do you find this suitable? Are there any words in here you’d like to define further?

    conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

    relating to God
    the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
    relating to Christ
    a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

    the religious beliefs of Christians
    belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same

    fidelity, faithfulness
    the character of one who can be relied on

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 6:46 pm
  45. @Hamby. There you go! That wasn’t too hard! You gave a definition. None of those are “believing something without evidence.” In fact, when the Bible tells us to believe in Christ, what it really is telling us to say is “I do.” (As a newlywed, I can assure you saying “I do” is a very big deal!)

    Faith is best seen as trust in that which has proven itself to be reliable. If you spoke to someone in the ancient world about blind faith, they would have wondered what you were talking about.

    Excellent material on this can be found in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values.

    The definition that the new atheists use cannot be found in any Greek lexicon or in any word study books.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:51 pm
  46. Faith is best seen as trust in that which has proven itself to be reliable.

    What methodology did you use to establish the reliability of that which you believe on faith?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 6:54 pm
  47. Empirical means of course. I go where the evidence leads. That’s why I think Christianity is the best one to start. It rests on a positive historical claim and has the best end deal. If Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true. If not, then let’s forget it and move on.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:56 pm
  48. While I’m on the subject, would you please refer back to the definition you tacitly approved of, and highlight the part about proving reliability. I don’t see it in there.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 6:56 pm
  49. Hamby. This one would be the closest. It’s not the best however as it somehow seems to place faith after faith.

    belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same

    A fuller look can be found in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values and an excellent essay is available at Tektonics.org called “What is Faith?”

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 6:58 pm
  50. Empirical means of course. I go where the evidence leads. That’s why I think Christianity is the best one to start. It rests on a positive historical claim and has the best end deal. If Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true. If not, then let’s forget it and move on.

    I see. Clearly, we must have vastly different views of what the word “empiricism” means. Let’s put the ball in your court for a minute. When a scientist conducts an experiment, what must he do before he asserts that X phenomenon is caused by C?

    Thank you.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 7:04 pm
  51. That would matter if we were talking about science. We’re not. Science cannot prove or disprove the Christian faith. I’m talking about history and philosophy.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 7:06 pm
  52. Nick, I hate to break this to you, but history and philosophy are not the same as empiricism. I don’t see how you can have it both ways. You’re arbitrarily deciding that THIS fact of empirical reality — the resurrection of Jesus — gets to be proved by philosophy and history while leaving all the other facts of empirical reality to science.

    In the philosophy of logic, that’s called SPECIAL PLEADING, and it’s an indication of a faulty conclusion.

    Or… do you have a way to avoid using logic to justify exempting one event from empiricism?

    The thing is, Nick… And I hope I’m not going out too far on a limb here… No matter how many people tell me some dude came back from being dead three days, I won’t believe it. Empiricism and science have demonstrated way, way too conclusively that brain death is permanent. So… people’s word is just not good enough. I’m kind of shocked that you trust your entire life to an assertion by a very small number of people. Even allowing for the claim that the author of the first gospel and the author of the Pauline epistles were who they claimed to be — a dubious claim by many estimates — you’re still basing an entire ontological categorical statement on heresay.

    How in the world do you justify that?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 22, 2010, 7:18 pm
  53. @hamby

    Nick, I hate to break this to you, but history and philosophy are not the same as empiricism. I don’t see how you can have it both ways. You’re arbitrarily deciding that THIS fact of empirical reality — the resurrection of Jesus — gets to be proved by philosophy and history while leaving all the other facts of empirical reality to science.

    Not at all. I mean by empiricism what is meant in philosophical terms. I begin with sense experience and don’t hold to a priori ideas. Note that I did not say that we’re born knowing moral truths for instance, but hard-wired for them. To begin with, the resurrection is a historical claim. There is a philosophy behind the question of “Are miracles possible?” Science cannot answer that question.

    In the philosophy of logic, that’s called SPECIAL PLEADING, and it’s an indication of a faulty conclusion.

    I haven’t used special pleading at all. I do not assume miracles. I have reasons for believing in miracles.

    Or… do you have a way to avoid using logic to justify exempting one event from empiricism?

    I believe in the resurrection I have empirical evidence that God acted in space and time. That’s not violating empiricism. Relying on sense experience does not mean miracles are impossible.

    The thing is, Nick… And I hope I’m not going out too far on a limb here… No matter how many people tell me some dude came back from being dead three days, I won’t believe it.

    Good. I don’t want you believing it just because people tell you. That makes for weak disciples. I want you believing it because you looked at the evidence.

    Empiricism and science have demonstrated way, way too conclusively that brain death is permanent.

    Problem here. Brain death is naturally permanent. No one is making the claim that Jesus naturally rose from the dead. That would be silly. We are saying that someone acted in the space/time universe. It wasn’t a violation of the laws of nature either. The laws weren’t changed.

    For instance, gravity says things will fall basically, but if I catch a falling apple, I haven’t violated the law of gravity. The laws only tell you what happens assuming there is no outside interference.

    So… people’s word is just not good enough.

    That depends on whose word it is. If my wife tells me something, I will believe it. Same if David did.

    I’m kind of shocked that you trust your entire life to an assertion by a very small number of people.

    I don’t. I trust my life to the evidence that I find that includes testimony. That is what we have for history.

    Even allowing for the claim that the author of the first gospel and the author of the Pauline epistles were who they claimed to be — a dubious claim by many estimates —

    I don’t need the first gospel a bit. In fact, I don’t need any gospels. As for the Pauline epistles claim, 7 of the epistles will be granted by scholarship easily. Only the fringe will deny Paul wrote the following.

    Romans
    1 and 2 Corinthians
    Galatians
    Philippians
    1 Thessalonians
    Philemon

    To grant those is to go against the evidence.

    you’re still basing an entire ontological categorical statement on heresay.

    Nope. I’m basing it on evidence. It’s the way we examine historical material. We look at the testimony and then see the validity of that testimony.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 7:28 pm
  54. @Nick, you’re still arguing against people disbelieving you, instead of explaining your position better.

    If it takes you pages to reply to a few simple paragraphs, you’re doing it wrong.

    If Fey is right, and you’re actually hear to help us see the light, you’re sucking at it pretty hard.

    @Fey, the way you worded that part about melting atheists hearts is insulting, as it implies they don’t believe out of hard-hearted reasons, and not logical ones. This is the basis for why so many non-believers are disgusted with believers. We think you’re just a little misguided, but still trying. You think we’re monsters who’ve willfully decided to disbelieve. If not, please rethink how you said that and try again.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 22, 2010, 9:00 pm
  55. @Alex

    Nope. I don’t believe in fast food evangelism. You make a claim. I like to see it backed. You said faith was X. I wanted to see if you could back it.

    Posted by apologianick | October 22, 2010, 9:08 pm
  56. Alison, I hope you take this as a compliment: I’m not going to do this with you right now. Rather than pore over ancient comments and rehash the same argument, I’m going to devote my time to this influx of readers who are at much more serious loggerheads than you and I.

    If we never agree on this matter, that’ll be a shame, but it won’t be the worst thing that could happen. You and I agree on more than we disagree, and I’m going to let this rest for a while. It’s a larger meta-argument, and I have more basic things to do right now.

    I understand Hamby this blog is for your thoughts, not mine.

    For now, I will open a topic on RRS to try to wrap my head around this issue and will hopefully be able to return to it in the future with new ammo.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 23, 2010, 5:27 pm
  57. @Alex re: Fey
    I can only speculate, but I think I get what Fey was saying. You’re right that many believers seem to think we are non-believers for emotional, stubborn reasons. Many also believe that we believe but are stubbornly pretending not to so that we can pursue our own sinful path in life.

    That’s incorrect, of course, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they truly believe it. So when Fey talks about believers trying to melt the hearts of atheists, she seems to be talking about things from their perspective. If I take her point correctly, she’s encouraging everyone on both sides to remember to at least try to understand the worldview from which the other side is coming.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 24, 2010, 2:57 pm
  58. Nick, so my understanding of your position is that at least seven people from First Century Palestine sincerely believed that they were witnesses to a man coming back from the dead. And they wrote it down more or less independently. And that constitutes overwhelming proof that a magic deity decided to break the laws of the universe to prove how much he loves us.

    Have you considered, Nick, the number of cases of “miracles” corroborated by more than seven people throughout history in all cultures? You seem to be opening a pandora’s box by granting such an extraordinary claim on literally nothing more than a few people’s testimony… from two thousand years ago… before we knew anything at all about psychology, hallucinations, psychosis, confirmation bias, or… let’s see… anything else about the human mind.

    By the same reasoning, the Catholics are right and you are wrong. Have you considered that? Far more people have seen Mary than Jesus. What reasoning do you use to eliminate these claims from the same level of (chortle) “proof” that you use for Jesus, and throw them back into the realm of skeptical disbelief barring extraordinary evidence beyond eyewitness testimony?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 24, 2010, 3:03 pm
  59. @hamby

    Nick, so my understanding of your position is that at least seven people

    Who said anything about seven?

    from First Century Palestine sincerely believed that they were witnesses to a man coming back from the dead.

    Correct. It’s called eyewitness testimony.

    And they wrote it down more or less independently.

    I’m still wondering about these seven people. Where did you get that number from?

    And that constitutes overwhelming proof that a magic deity decided to break the laws of the universe to prove how much he loves us.

    Paging Dorothy. Straw man has been found.

    First off, you’re really understating my case and making it the final point. That’s not being said at all.

    Second, at this point, I don’t need to even argue for a deity. I just need to argue that a man came back from the dead. How did that happen? That is when we will get to the question of deity.

    Third, there’s not just that people thought they saw someone. There’s the point that he was crucified, a definitive fact of history, and that he was buried and that the tomb he was buried in was found empty.

    Fourth, the surrounding climate was also not friendly to resurrection. The Greeks were quite clear on the matter. It didn’t happen. Jewish thought was also clear. There was a resurrection, but that was at the end of the age and not right in the middle.

    Fifth, Christianity would not have got off the ground anyway without strong evidence behind it. As soon as Christians told someone that their deity was crucified, they would have lost the audience. Crucifixion was a mark of shame and there was no need to follow a crucified sage. He had God’s curse on him.

    Sixth, the eyewitness testimony is traced back at the most to within 3-5 years of the event, which is simply a blip in ancient history. It is far better than what we have for other figures in history that we do believe we have accurate accounts of.

    Seventh, there is nothing here about breaking the laws of nature. Laws of nature were no more broken than my catching a fallen apple breaks the law of gravity. The laws of nature only tell you what happens if nothing from the outside interferes.

    Have you considered, Nick, the number of cases of “miracles” corroborated by more than seven people throughout history in all cultures?

    Yes. I prefer looking at a case by case basis. I don’t dismiss any a priori. This is the only miracle I’m standing on. If all other miracle claims were shown false, that does not prove ipso facto that this one was.

    You seem to be opening a pandora’s box by granting such an extraordinary claim on literally nothing more than a few people’s testimony…

    Good thing I don’t base it on just that, but on the facts surrounding early Christianity as well.

    from two thousand years ago…

    I wasn’t aware a calendar determined truth.

    before we knew anything at all about psychology, hallucinations, psychosis, confirmation bias, or… let’s see… anything else about the human mind.

    False. Aristotle had written De Anima. Also, people knew about such things back then. You see Hamby, the reason they buried Jesus is, well, he was dead. They buried the dead because they knew good and well that dead people don’t come back to life.

    Now surely some people told others that they had seen the risen Christ and they didn’t believe. Why? Could it be maybe they said “You were seeing things!” Nah. Couldn’t be. People obviously didn’t know about hallucinations then.

    Also, hallucinations don’t work. The disciples were not in the mindset for a hallucination, nor does it explain the empty tomb, nor does it explain the group appearances. Furthermore, it does not explain the conversion of skeptics like Paul or James.

    By the same reasoning, the Catholics are right and you are wrong. Have you considered that?

    And if that’s the case, Jesus was still risen from the dead since they say the same thing.

    Far more people have seen Mary than Jesus. What reasoning do you use to eliminate these claims from the same level of (chortle) “proof” that you use for Jesus, and throw them back into the realm of skeptical disbelief barring extraordinary evidence beyond eyewitness testimony?

    I use historical reasoning just as anyone would. Do I throw these accounts out? Nope. It could be some people did see something. I’m not against that happening and it doesn’t destroy my worldview if they did. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have a problem anyway since the Papacy considers Protestants Christians.

    Sorry, but just credulity doesn’t count as a historical argument.

    Posted by apologianick | October 24, 2010, 3:23 pm
  60. Nick wrote:

    There’s the point that he was crucified, a definitive fact of history

    Last time I checked my book of Definitive Facts of History, the crucifixion of Jesus wasn’t listed.

    Note that just because you consider it a definitive fact, that doesn’t mean historians do. Historians tend to be generous with ancient history, since there is so little to go on, and in this case, the consensus runs along the lines of, “Okay, sure. No reason to suppose he wasn’t executed, as far as we know.”

    Or maybe I should call it the middle ground, rather than the consensus. Some say Jesus didn’t even exist.

    But Nick, you really are overstating the historical case for the resurrection. I mean, come on. Your source here is some stuff that four people wrote down two thousand years ago. We don’t know who it was that wrote this, or whether they were trustworthy.

    If you’re a skeptic, you’re gonna say, “Okay, these guys have a common source, but the embellishments each have added don’t entirely agree. Not nearly enough plausibility here to make me consider that a miracle occurred.”

    On the other hand, if you believe you can get eternal paradise by the story being true, well you’re not going to be very objective, are you? You’re going to say stuff like, “Oh but it had to be true! If the religious leader hadn’t miraculously come back from the dead after he was martyred, the religion never would have got started!”

    Perfect logic there.

    Posted by Ian | October 24, 2010, 6:53 pm
  61. Who said anything about seven?

    Pardon me. I thought I saw you gripe about someone else saying there were around four. I stand corrected. Does the existence of less alleged witnesses help your case?

    Correct. It’s called eyewitness testimony.

    I wonder, Nick, why eyewitness testimony is considered the least reliable source in court cases. You know… when any other evidence contradicts an eyewitness, we tend to go with the non-eyewitness account.

    What sort of empirical evidence, logic, or philosophy do you use to justify the eyewitness accounts of less than seven people, each of whom was part of a culture that still had magic spells in their holy documents? (Numbers 5:11-31.)

    Paging Dorothy. Straw man has been found.

    Do you just get to call it a strawman and make it so? Is it or is it not true that you believe that Jesus was a god who was resurrected, and that the resurrection proves that he loves you?

    Why don’t we just go with these questions first?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 25, 2010, 12:26 am
  62. So, now what gets written down is eyewitness testimony? I could swear you needed actual witnesses for that. What you have is a book, that you (nor anyone else alive, and very few other documents) cannot corroborate.

    Even if we grant they wrote what they believe happened, that doesn’t prove anything about what actually happened. Without an autopsy of the deceased, I’m more likely to believe they were wrong in thinking he was dead, than that he came back. That’s a simpler and more believable explanation.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 25, 2010, 6:31 am
  63. @Ian

    Last time I checked my book of Definitive Facts of History, the crucifixion of Jesus wasn’t listed.

    Sorry. I wasn’t referring to conservative Christians. I was referring to the Jesus Seminar. John Dominic Crossan? Yep. You can interview the NT historians all you want. It’s a sure fact that Jesus was crucified.

    Note that just because you consider it a definitive fact, that doesn’t mean historians do.

    Actually, they do. The testimony of Tacitus is that Jesus was crucified and Tacitus was one of the most reliable historians of the time if not the most reliable historian.

    Historians tend to be generous with ancient history, since there is so little to go on, and in this case, the consensus runs along the lines of, “Okay, sure. No reason to suppose he wasn’t executed, as far as we know.”

    False. The consensus is that he died and he died at a relatively younger age than would be expected and that that death came about by crucifixion. There is not a competing theory that Jesus never went to a cross, lived till about 70, and died of old age.

    Or maybe I should call it the middle ground, rather than the consensus. Some say Jesus didn’t even exist.

    No historian who has a clue will say Jesus didn’t exist. That is only on the fringe of scholarship and the Christ-myth crowd is not taken seriously at all.

    But Nick, you really are overstating the historical case for the resurrection. I mean, come on. Your source here is some stuff that four people wrote down two thousand years ago.

    I wasn’t aware that truth changed with a calendar.

    We don’t know who it was that wrote this, or whether they were trustworthy.

    Actually, we do. You go to 1 Corinthians and scholarship today agrees that that book was written by Paul. I don’t know of a competing theory of who wrote the Annals of Tacitus. How trustworthy were they? The material Paul has can be dated to within one year of the events, certainly not with time for embellishment while eyewitnesses were alive who could counter it. He also refers to the eyewitnesses knowing who they are as he knows some have fallen asleep by the time 1 Corinthians 15 was written but still says “You can go ask him. They saw him.”

    If you’re a skeptic, you’re gonna say, “Okay, these guys have a common source, but the embellishments each have added don’t entirely agree.

    What embellishments?

    Also, because there is disagreement on secondary issues does not mean there is no agreement on primary issues. We have two accounts of how Hannibal crossed the Alps. Livy wrote one. Polybius wrote the other. They hopelessly contradict. Does anyone doubt Hannibal crossed the Alps?

    Not nearly enough plausibility here to make me consider that a miracle occurred.”

    What would be enough plausibility? What standard would you use with ancient history?

    On the other hand, if you believe you can get eternal paradise by the story being true, well you’re not going to be very objective, are you?

    Actually, I will. Eternal paradise would only be true if the story was true and if this is something I really want, I want to be sure the story is true. Also, Paul was receiving no benefits in his testimony. We can look at 2 Corinthians 11 and see what all he went through as a result of his faith. Really nice fringe benefits huh?

    You’re going to say stuff like, “Oh but it had to be true! If the religious leader hadn’t miraculously come back from the dead after he was martyred, the religion never would have got started!”
    Perfect logic there.

    No. Not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if he hadn’t have come back, Christianity would not have got off the ground because it did not work with the social climate.

    First, Christianity was monotheistic. Because of that, it could not be accepted by the Romans as it denied the existence of their gods. The Romans tolerated the Jews, and did the Christians at first until they found the Christians were different. Then the persecution began.

    Second, Christianity had a shameful figure as its leader. No one wanting to start a religion would point to a crucified Messiah. The Jews would have said God’s Messiah would not be crucified. That places him under God’s curse. The Greeks would have scoffed at the idea as crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals. The Christians instead told both that this man was crucified and you had to trust in him for eternal salvation.

    Third, resurrection was not honored in the world at the time. The Greeks were clear that resurrections did not happen. Jews believed in a resurrection but not in the middle of history, but rather at the end.

    Fourth, unlike several mystery religions, Christianity denied wanton use of the pleasures of the flesh. Sexual abstinence until marriage was taught while other belief systems participated in orgies. There was much to gain by joining a belief system that involved Bacchic rites. There was only one gain in Christianity. If you wanted an early death, you increased your chances.

    Fifth, because of these beliefs, Christians would have been shamed in the marketplace. Shame was a leading reason to not be a Christian as it cut you off from society as a whole that granted you your identity.

    Your so-called remark about perfect logic ignores these and other points that are important to my argument.

    Posted by apologianick | October 25, 2010, 10:27 am
  64. @Hamby

    Pardon me. I thought I saw you gripe about someone else saying there were around four. I stand corrected.

    If you can show where, I’d love to see it.

    Does the existence of less alleged witnesses help your case?

    I would prefer to have few highly reliable witnesses than several unreliable ones. Of course, the only ones I will present are the ones I believe to be reliable.

    Correct. It’s called eyewitness testimony.
    I wonder, Nick, why eyewitness testimony is considered the least reliable source in court cases. You know… when any other evidence contradicts an eyewitness, we tend to go with the non-eyewitness account.

    Court cases are about gathering data in a situation where we can cross-examine the witnesses. Unfortunately with history, we can’t do that. If we want to learn about the Civil War in America for instance, we have to go to books. We can’t talk to an eyewitness. The court of law is not the same as the court of history. At this point still, all I am doing is gathering data and saying we need to infer to the best explanation.

    What sort of empirical evidence, logic, or philosophy do you use to justify the eyewitness accounts of less than seven people, each of whom was part of a culture that still had magic spells in their holy documents? (Numbers 5:11-31.)

    Numbers 5 is irrelevant. Whether you believe the book or not is useless to me. What matters is this data, and you don’t throw out this data based on another entirely separate account 1,000+ years earlier.

    What method do I use? I look at the event and see what is being claimed first. Then I ask if I have any reason to doubt that the disciples and others believed they saw the risen Jesus after the event that we call the resurrection. (For the sake of argument, I am not saying the resurrection as that would be circular, but referring to the time of the event we call the resurrection.) Then I look and see if I have any reason to doubt the empty tomb accounts either. I have no reason to doubt any and so then I say “What is the best possible explanation for these events?” I see the resurrection and I see that also based on the points I made earlier that were I believe seven in number and that several of which I just repeated to Ian.

    Do you just get to call it a strawman and make it so?

    Since I know my argument, yes. I happen to know when my argument is not being represented accurately.

    Is it or is it not true that you believe that Jesus was a god who was resurrected,

    Irrelevant. I’m dong the history first and then I will base my belief on the history. Furthermore, I wouldn’t believe Jesus was deity just because he was resurrected. If the thief on the cross had come back from the dead, the Jews would say “This is a strange universe we live in” but they would not say “He must be God and messiah!”

    and that the resurrection proves that he loves you?

    Appeals to emotion don’t work on me. Sorry, but I’m not an emotional Christian who just gets warm fuzzies thinking about the love of Christ.

    Why don’t we just go with these questions first?

    Is it because I asked questions of you and raised points to you that rather than address them we’d go a different route?

    Posted by apologianick | October 25, 2010, 10:34 am
  65. @Alex

    So, now what gets written down is eyewitness testimony? I could swear you needed actual witnesses for that. What you have is a book, that you (nor anyone else alive, and very few other documents) cannot corroborate.

    Yes. What is written down can be eyewitness testimony, though not necessarily so. When we look at history, we do accept written accounts because we believe that those accounts were written by eyewitnesses, such as accounts of wars that happened in American history. Because someone dies, they do not cease to be an eyewitness.

    Even if we grant they wrote what they believe happened, that doesn’t prove anything about what actually happened.

    Correct. All it proves is that they believed it was true and the question to ask is “Why did they believe it?”

    Without an autopsy of the deceased, I’m more likely to believe they were wrong in thinking he was dead, than that he came back. That’s a simpler and more believable explanation.

    Not at all. James Strauss put this theory to death a long time ago and this corpse is definitely dead. Had Jesus been crucified, when he appeared to his disciples, after undergoing the pain of crucifixion assuming he had somehow survived, they would not have seen him as the Lord of life who conquered death. They would have got him a doctor! Peter would not look at Jesus with hardly and skin and bleeding profusely and walking around as if he was about to die and said “Wow! I hope someday I get a body like that!”

    Also, Strauss was no friend to Christianity whatsoever.

    Furthermore, the Romans were experts at killing people. When they killed someone, they did it right! If he had not been dead, their lives would have been forfeit.

    Posted by apologianick | October 25, 2010, 10:39 am
  66. If John Dominic Crossan says it’s a sure fact that Jesus was crucified then it is… LOL.

    Posted by LM | October 25, 2010, 1:25 pm
  67. You can’t point to well known historical events and conflate the Jesus fable with them. There are equally numerous books for Hercules, Zeus, Hades, Vishnu, Thor, etc…

    Why don’t you believe any of them? Your argument still falls short of anything resembling more than justification for your beliefs.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 25, 2010, 1:43 pm
  68. Nick “False. The consensus is that he died and he died at a relatively younger age than would be expected and that that death came about by crucifixion. There is not a competing theory that Jesus never went to a cross, lived till about 70, and died of old age.”
    The consensus that Sisyphus kept rolling a boulder doesn’t make the story about sisyphus any truer.

    To the question, “We don’t know who it was that wrote this, or whether they were trustworthy”
    Nick answered: “Actually, we do. You go to 1 Corinthians and scholarship today agrees that that book was written by Paul. I don’t know of a competing theory of who wrote the Annals of Tacitus. How trustworthy were they? The material Paul has can be dated to within one year of the events, certainly not with time for embellishment while eyewitnesses were alive who could counter it. He also refers to the eyewitnesses knowing who they are as he knows some have fallen asleep by the time 1 Corinthians 15 was written but still says “You can go ask him. They saw him.””

    As if knowing that Paul is the author makes its content any truer. It wouldn’t be in Paul’s a self-serving interest to say what he wrote wasn’t the truth.

    Also, Tacitus reference is a non-start. He is just reporting what he was told either directly or indirectly from Christians living in his own times. Tacitus had no other sources. So his reference to the Christus in the Annals, if authentic, is to be taken under these plausible arguments. There is also a plausible argument that the word is “Christus” was changed from “chrestus”, which is the name found in Suetonius, a reference to a leader expelled.

    Reference: Suetonius, in his Life of Claudius, 25, has one, confusing, word about a Chrestus.
    “Because the Jews at Rome caused a continuous disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from the city.”

    http://carrington-arts.com/cliff/Nero.htm

    Posted by LM | October 25, 2010, 3:11 pm
  69. @Alex

    You can’t point to well known historical events and conflate the Jesus fable with them.

    Begging the question assuming that Jesus is a fable. The argument above assumed secondary contradictions rule out primary truth. Polybius and Livy disprove that. Right now, you’re just asserting “But the Jesus account isn’t history!”

    In doing such, you’re begging the question, and also dodging all the points I made earlier.

    There are equally numerous books for Hercules, Zeus, Hades, Vishnu, Thor, etc…
    Why don’t you believe any of them?

    Lack of corroborating evidence. Now you’re free to come and present the claims for each of these and why I should believe them, but I prefer to take matters on a case by case basis. That involves doing real historical research.

    Your argument still falls short of anything resembling more than justification for your beliefs.

    That’s what arguments do. They justify why someone should believe X.

    Are you wanting to try to defend the swoon theory again?

    Posted by apologianick | October 25, 2010, 3:34 pm
  70. @LM

    The consensus that Sisyphus kept rolling a boulder doesn’t make the story about sisyphus any truer.

    Your account is a consensus on the telling of a myth. NT scholars are making a consensus on historical events. The consensus is that it is a historical fact that Jesus was crucified.

    As if knowing that Paul is the author makes its content any truer.

    Paul’s not the author of the content. Paul is passing on the content. What he is passing on is an early Christian creed that is far too early for embellishment to take place. It indicates the earliest Christian belief is in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and bases itself on the testimony of those who saw him early.

    It wouldn’t be in Paul’s a self-serving interest to say what he wrote wasn’t the truth.

    This doesn’t interact with what I said about Paul’s statements in 2 Corinthians 11. If Paul was serving himself, he chose an odd way to do it considering all he suffered as a result and how he eventually died for his belief. It doesn’t make it true, but it tells us that he, a former skeptic was convinced it was true, and the question is”Why?”

    Also, Tacitus reference is a non-start. He is just reporting what he was told either directly or indirectly from Christians living in his own times. Tacitus had no other sources.

    False. Tacitus lived in Rome and had Roman records which would have information about the time of Pilate, whom Tacitus knew about, and he could confirm that Christ was crucified. The only reason to deny this is if one has an a priori objection to the content.

    So his reference to the Christus in the Annals, if authentic, is to be taken under these plausible arguments.

    There is no reason to doubt its authenticity. If you think so, please show the scholar of Tacitus who thinks so and why.

    There is also a plausible argument that the word is “Christus” was changed from “chrestus”, which is the name found in Suetonius, a reference to a leader expelled.
    Reference: Suetonius, in his Life of Claudius, 25, has one, confusing, word about a Chrestus.
    “Because the Jews at Rome caused a continuous disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from the city.”

    Yes. I know this reference. There’s no harm if Tacitus changed the name so people a century later could understand it. The referent is the same.

    If John Dominic Crossan says it’s a sure fact that Jesus was crucified then it is… LOL.

    Straw man. It’s not being said that this is true because Crossan believes it. It’s said that if critical scholars across the board believe that this happened even though they deny conservative beliefs about Christ and Scripture, they then have really good reasons for believing that that’s true.

    Posted by apologianick | October 25, 2010, 8:09 pm
  71. Again, you dismiss doubt as biased against your “facts”, when in reality that’s how science (even historical science) works.

    Just because you believe that Paul suffered, and thus had no reason to lie about what he wrote, does not make it the case. You get the evidence for what he suffered from the same book that he wrote. At least you believe he wrote it.

    And, the changing of the name is important, as if the name is different it cast doubt on who is being referred to. At least it would to anyone actually pretending to be critical.

    We’re all considering the Jesus thing a myth of the same class as the rest. With the same justifications (a few peoples accounts does not the truth make) as those for Greek mythology, we are simply applying the same standard across the board. You are not.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 6:53 am
  72. Nick: “The consensus is that it is a historical fact that Jesus was crucified”. There’s no proof that Jesus was real to begin with. That he was crucified is even more of a stretch. Show me the proof… oh wait, some historians agree with you.

    Nick: ” What he is passing on is an early Christian creed that is far too early for embellishment to take place.” How naive is that? A story can grow exponentially within months.

    Nick: ” If Paul was serving himself, he chose an odd way to do it considering all he suffered as a result and how he eventually died for his belief.” Paul’s death is nothing but a legend. We have no evidence of how he died, and even less that he died for his beliefs.

    Nick: “Tacitus lived in Rome and had Roman records which would have information about the time of Pilate, whom Tacitus knew about, and he could confirm that Christ was crucified. ” Preposterous. You would need to assume that Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded, no evidence of that. That he would take the trouble to send that documentation to Rome, no evidence of that. You need to assume that it was a common practice to record the execution of non-Roman citizens, no evidence of that. You would need to show why the emperor or the senate in Rome would interested in knowing the execution of non-roman citizens who were nothing but criminals, when the Romans conquered and subjugated them to their will with the strength of their army. So your assumption that Tacitus had records of Jesus execution is based on a string of assumptions, all of them baseless.

    Nick: “There’s no harm if Tacitus changed the name so people a century later could understand it.” The trouble here is that Suetonius speaks of a Chrestus that was expelled from Rome under the reign of Claudius. How does that square with Christus, supposedly crucified in Jerusalem???

    Nick: “It’s said that if critical scholars across the board believe that this happened even though they deny conservative beliefs about Christ and Scripture, they then have really good reasons for believing that that’s true.” Instead of hiding behind what scholars are saying, why don’t you spell out their reasons why they believe so. Are their findings behind reproach or critical examination? It seems you are desperately clinging to straws.

    Posted by LM | October 26, 2010, 7:43 am
  73. @Alex

    Again, you dismiss doubt as biased against your “facts”, when in reality that’s how science (even historical science) works.

    No. I dismiss doubt when it goes against what historians believe. You can count the number of historians who deny Jesus’s existence on one hand. For the rest of them, you might as well be telling geologists that the Earth is flat. Liberal, conservative, atheist, Christian, scholars agree Jesus existed.

    Just because you believe that Paul suffered, and thus had no reason to lie about what he wrote, does not make it the case. You get the evidence for what he suffered from the same book that he wrote. At least you believe he wrote it.

    It’s not just me. Again, it’s scholarship. If you deny Pauline authorship of 2 Corinthians, then you are on the fringe and NT historians and textual critics will not take you seriously.

    What Paul wrote is also in 1 Corinthians 15 is not original with him. It is a NT creed. Again, check the scholarship.

    And, the changing of the name is important, as if the name is different it cast doubt on who is being referred to. At least it would to anyone actually pretending to be critical.

    Not at all. If I find a writing in one language speaking of Yeshua and another in another language speaking of Jesus, I don’t have a problem. I don’t wonder if these are two different people. When you speak about Christus being crucified under Pontius Pilate and that a mischievous superstition broke out, it’s pretty obvious who he’s speaking about.

    We’re all considering the Jesus thing a myth of the same class as the rest. With the same justifications (a few peoples accounts does not the truth make) as those for Greek mythology, we are simply applying the same standard across the board. You are not.

    No. You’re applying a completely different standard. NT historians don’t throw out references to Jesus in the gospels a priori for instance just because there’s miracles in there. Take the Jesus Seminar for instance. They trace 18% or so of the words to Jesus in the gospels to the historical Jesus meaning they believe in a historical Jesus. We have the two references in Josephus. We have the reference in Pliny. We have Mara Bar Serapion. We have Thallus. We have the enemies of the church acknowledging Jesus existed, such as Celsus. We have the Talmud acknowledging he existed.

    Again, if you want to know this is what historians believe, you can even call up Bart Ehrman if you want or email him and ask him if NT historians believe this and he’ll tell you that they do. This is not a Christian position. This is a historical position.

    Of course, you could come and present those historians who disagree. That’d be amusing.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 9:46 am
  74. @LM

    . There’s no proof that Jesus was real to begin with. That he was crucified is even more of a stretch. Show me the proof… oh wait, some historians agree with you.

    No. The proof is you could easily say 99% of NT historians will grant you that, and that’s being very conservative. To talk to NT historians and say Jesus never existed is like going to a geological convention and telling them that the Earth is flat. You’ll get the same reaction.

    How naive is that? A story can grow exponentially within months.

    Are you familiar with the research of Vansina or Kenneth Bailey on the reliability of oral tradition, especially in ANE cultures?

    ” Paul’s death is nothing but a legend. We have no evidence of how he died, and even less that he died for his beliefs.

    False. He was beheaded most likely during the reign of Nero for being a Christian. The only way to not know these things is to not know history of the NT period.

    Preposterous. You would need to assume that Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded, no evidence of that. That he would take the trouble to send that documentation to Rome, no evidence of that. You need to assume that it was a common practice to record the execution of non-Roman citizens, no evidence of that. You would need to show why the emperor or the senate in Rome would interested in knowing the execution of non-roman citizens who were nothing but criminals, when the Romans conquered and subjugated them to their will with the strength of their army. So your assumption that Tacitus had records of Jesus execution is based on a string of assumptions, all of them baseless.

    How wrong can you be? Tacitus tells you the reason why he’s referring to Christ here. Nero started to put to death Christians and Tacitus tells you the basic history of the movement and how they got their start. Tacitus is also a careful historian. If he doesn’t believe something but is simply recording what other people believe, he’ll tell you. He’s also a very skeptical one who even double-checks on what his best friend Pliny tells him. The Romans did keep track of what went on in their kingdom as did all ancient societies.

    The trouble here is that Suetonius speaks of a Chrestus that was expelled from Rome under the reign of Claudius. How does that square with Christus, supposedly crucified in Jerusalem???

    Here’s what the quote says:

    As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.

    Note the term “them.” He does not say “him.” He says “them.” The Jews were expelled. Chrestus meanwhile is the Latin spelling of the Greek name of Christ. There’s not a problem with that. What happened was that there were uprisings taking place in Rome between Jews and Christians and it was because of debates around Christ. At that, Jews and Christians are expelled from Rome. This is also referred to in Acts 18.

    Instead of hiding behind what scholars are saying, why don’t you spell out their reasons why they believe so. Are their findings behind reproach or critical examination? It seems you are desperately clinging to straws.

    I have mentioned the sources above in my post to Alex.

    We have the four gospels that scholars don’t reject a priori but look for some historical evidence of.

    We have the epistles we know to be authentic.

    We have the writings of numerous non-Christians, more of whom refer to Jesus than those who refer to the emperor on the throne at the time.

    The enemies of the church acknowledged Jesus existed and simply attributed miracles to either sorcery or demonic activity.

    In fact, if all we had was the passage in Tacitus, we would have enough to acknowledge that Jesus existed.

    Does that say anything about him doing miracles? Nope. Does it say anything about him rising from the dead? Nope. It just gives the bare minimum. He existed.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 9:57 am
  75. @Nick, since you use Tacitus to prove your case, then this is relevant:

    Charles Guignebert argued “So long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus is merely echoing what Christians themselves were saying], the passage remains quite worthless”.

    Also, copies of copies do not historical records make. Hearsay is what we call that.

    When you want to present some actual evidence, let us know.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 10:16 am
  76. @Alex

    Wow. Going back to the 1930’s to look up an idea? Don’t you think we’ve learned something more about history since then?

    Sorry, but Tacitus did not get his information from Christians. His negative tone towards them shows that. Pliny would be a source and it’s noteworthy that he does not rely blindly either. Pliny was a friend but when he thought Pliny wrong, he stated it. No hint of that here.

    Tacitus also would not rely on just one source. He was a careful historian. What did he have at stake? His own reputation. He would not want to record something as history unless he had good reason to believe it was. When he thinks something is a myth or just what the people believe, he says so. He does not say that here.

    Maybe you should read some modern scholarship instead of just googling for something that will let you deny Tacitus.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 10:23 am
  77. Actually Tacitus just happened to come up when I was googling Jesus. I like how you think we’ve learned so much since 1930’s but you cite sources from thousands of years ago… If we had learned so much since then, I imagine I’d be able to find it via a quick google search. I’m sorry you only trust obscure sources that prove your point, instead of the dozens I could find that disagreed.

    If your point was so strong, I doubt I’d find it this easy to find so many things disputing it. You keep attesting to what people would have had at stake as if that makes a difference. He could have been a complete liar, or simply misinformed. Just because you consider someone a careful historian, does not in fact make what they say true. Corroborative sources do.

    Doubts I was easily able to find for believing in the historicity of Jesus (and these are all repeated by dozens of scholars according to dozens of links I was able to locate in minutes, not by searching for something to prove Jesus did not exist, but just by asking the question):

    There are no actual records from the time when he lived that mention him.

    The biblical accounts of him are written by people with no connection to an actual jesus (thus hearsay). They are also written well after his death.

    Several of the “gospels” are basically copies of the same works (in part).

    If these people all wrote their own accounts, then why are they so similar?

    Where the gospels do differ, they contradict each other.

    Why are there four gospels, when at least a dozen were written?

    These are just a few of the doubts found by anyone with access to a computer and a few minutes time to do some research. Those of us who aren’t already convinced will not be by simply saying these people who doubt are all wrong while those who agree are correct. We need something more (and the bible ain’t gonna cut it, as if Jesus wasn’t real then the bible is all completely made up gibberish).

    I apologize for the blunt tone, but you’re repeating yourself (not verbatim, but your point is being made ad nauseam) and not adding anything new to the discussion.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 10:46 am
  78. @Alex

    Actually Tacitus just happened to come up when I was googling Jesus.

    Somehow, I figured google was your source of information. I prefer books.

    I like how you think we’ve learned so much since 1930′s but you cite sources from thousands of years ago…

    Because those are primary sources. If I want to know what Plato thought, citing Plato is a primary source. Everything else is commentary on the primary source.

    If we had learned so much since then, I imagine I’d be able to find it via a quick google search. I’m sorry you only trust obscure sources that prove your point, instead of the dozens I could find that disagreed.

    Google is one of the worst sources to go to for serious researches. Instead, go to books. Go to peer-reviewed scholarly articles that write about Jesus. Read actual NT scholars.

    On the internet, you don’t know who wrote that piece that you’re reading. You don’t know their credentials.

    If your point was so strong, I doubt I’d find it this easy to find so many things disputing it.

    And you can find that many sources talking about Bacon writing Shakespeare and about being abducted by UFO’s. You’re being a great example of how NOT to do research. Try the same thing for a college paper and see what happens. Tell your professor you just want to use google as a source.

    You keep attesting to what people would have had at stake as if that makes a difference. He could have been a complete liar, or simply misinformed. Just because you consider someone a careful historian, does not in fact make what they say true. Corroborative sources do.

    Then look at what scholarship says. Try people like Grant, Syme, and Dudley. People who actually study Tacitus for their career.

    Doubts I was easily able to find for believing in the historicity of Jesus (and these are all repeated by dozens of scholars according to dozens of links I was able to locate in minutes, not by searching for something to prove Jesus did not exist, but just by asking the question):

    Do name these “scholars.” Note for instance that they need to be scholars in the relevant field. G.A. Wells for instance was a professor of the German language and not a historian. He doesn’t quality then.

    There are no actual records from the time when he lived that mention him.

    To begin with, the same applies to Alexander the Great. Should we question his existence also? We don’t even have biographies of him until 400 years after his death.

    Second, we have four gospels and the authentic Pauline epistles.

    Third, the same can nearly be said about the Caesar that reigned at the time of Christ. We have four sources and the one contemporary one is the least reliable one.

    The biblical accounts of him are written by people with no connection to an actual jesus (thus hearsay). They are also written well after his death.

    Simply false. Go read Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”

    Several of the “gospels” are basically copies of the same works (in part).

    If these people all wrote their own accounts, then why are they so similar?

    If four different people give an account of the same event, it’s going to be similar. That’s because they’re writing about historical events.

    Where the gospels do differ, they contradict each other.

    I claim the Titanic never sank!

    Why?

    We have eyewitnesses who said the ship went down whole.

    We have eyewitnesses who said the ship went down split in two.

    Obviously, since they contradict, we throw the whole thing out.

    I also claim Hannibal never crossed the Alps. Why?

    Polybius says the route he took went one way.

    Livy says he took a completely different way.

    Since they can’t agree on a historical event, it must be false.

    Why are there four gospels, when at least a dozen were written?

    The simple answer is to read the other gospels (Which I have). The gospels that were chosen were chosen because they had apostolic authority, they were seen as reliable transmitters of information about Jesus, and they were accepted by the church as a whole. You should also read something about canonicity.

    These are just a few of the doubts found by anyone with access to a computer and a few minutes time to do some research.

    I don’t use google as an authority when doing research. I read books instead.

    Those of us who aren’t already convinced will not be by simply saying these people who doubt are all wrong while those who agree are correct. We need something more (and the bible ain’t gonna cut it, as if Jesus wasn’t real then the bible is all completely made up gibberish).

    I don’t need the Bible to show Jesus existed. I simply go with the scholarship on the issue and not google scholarship.

    I apologize for the blunt tone, but you’re repeating yourself (not verbatim, but your point is being made ad nauseam) and not adding anything new to the discussion.

    Only because you’re not raising any valid objections that haven’t been answered a thousand times before.

    Again, go read some real historians, not google.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 10:59 am
  79. You’re being an idiot. Google is not a source. Google is like an index at the library. I’m sorry you’ve been so prejudiced against technology, but this is the 21st century and only an idiot would claim that google isn’t used in nearly every research paper written in modern times.

    I could make the exact same argument against your books as you’re making against google. Did you see any of these people write these books? How are you so sure who wrote them? It says so in their cover? Stop being asinine.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 11:15 am
  80. @Alex

    You’re being an idiot.

    If you want to play this game, let me know.

    Google is not a source. Google is like an index at the library.

    Major difference. At the library, you know who wrote the books and what their credentials are. At Google, you don’t. I asked for names of scholars. Will I get them?

    I’m sorry you’ve been so prejudiced against technology, but this is the 21st century and only an idiot would claim that google isn’t used in nearly every research paper written in modern times.

    That’s because people are lazy and don’t like to read books. I’m writing a research paper right now. I’m not using google. Instead, my references are all books by people who are credentialed in the field.

    I could make the exact same argument against your books as you’re making against google. Did you see any of these people write these books? How are you so sure who wrote them? It says so in their cover? Stop being asinine.

    We know by using the historical method. Scholars don’t doubt that Tacitus wrote the Annals nor do they doubt his research abilities. If you go to NT scholarship and say “I really don’t think Paul wrote 1 Corinthians”, they’ll laugh at you. The names weren’t usually on the covers of the books in the ancient world but they would be delivered to people and the community knew who wrote the books. That’s the way ancient history works.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 11:19 am
  81. Nick wrote: “Sorry, but Tacitus did not get his information from Christians. ” No proof, one more of your baseless assumptions.

    Nick wrote: “The proof is you could easily say 99% of NT historians will grant you that.”” How about naming your sources instead of flaunting how many agree with you. Besides 99% of zero is zero last time I checked.

    Nick wrote: “If you deny Pauline authorship of 2 Corinthians, then you are on the fringe and NT historians and textual critics will not take you seriously.” It looks like it has never occurred to you that quoting the gospels + epistles to prove that the gospels + epistles is true is circular reasoning.

    Nick wrote: “I have mentioned the sources above in my post to Alex.
    We have the four gospels that scholars don’t reject a priori but look for some historical evidence of.
    We have the epistles we know to be authentic.” Duh. more circular reasoning.

    In other words, your argument so far boils down to: believe the gospels + epistles because they’re true, and NT scholars agree with this. As one commentator above has already said: “(You’re) not adding anything new to the discussion.”

    Posted by LM | October 26, 2010, 11:23 am
  82. [quote]Major difference. At the library, you know who wrote the books and what their credentials are. At Google, you don’t. I asked for names of scholars. Will I get them?[/quote]

    Actually you won’t. At the library you have the same basis for trusting what you’re reading as I do when finding something via google. You as the librarian for help, or consult an index, then read a book. You trust that the book is an accurate copy of the original. I trust that the page I’m reading is an accurate copy of the original material. I fail to see the difference except that you’re prejudiced against the technology making it so much easier to disprove your point than to prove it.

    [quote]That’s because people are lazy and don’t like to read books. I’m writing a research paper right now. I’m not using google. Instead, my references are all books by people who are credentialed in the field.[/quote]

    And if those same books were digitized and found via google, somehow they would be less trustworthy to you?

    [quote]We know by using the historical method. Scholars don’t doubt that Tacitus wrote the Annals nor do they doubt his research abilities. If you go to NT scholarship and say “I really don’t think Paul wrote 1 Corinthians”, they’ll laugh at you. The names weren’t usually on the covers of the books in the ancient world but they would be delivered to people and the community knew who wrote the books. That’s the way ancient history works.[/quote]

    Actually I found several scholars who doubt that. They are cited via the pages I found on the internet. Saying otherwise doesn’t prove anything. Just because a bunch people believe something enough to laugh at the other side doesn’t make them right.

    I wasn’t speaking of ancient history, I was talking about right now. You trust that what you read in said books is accurate. You distrust what is found online (or on google as you so wrongly keep putting it). Just because you disagree with them, doesn’t mean they’re wrong…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 11:29 am
  83. @LM

    Nick wrote: “Sorry, but Tacitus did not get his information from Christians. ” No proof, one more of your baseless assumptions.

    Duly noted that you left out the point about the negative tone of Christians.

    Nick wrote: “The proof is you could easily say 99% of NT historians will grant you that.”” How about naming your sources instead of flaunting how many agree with you. Besides 99% of zero is zero last time I checked.

    I’ve named sources. I’ve named the Jesus Seminar. I’ve named Bart Ehrman. Check writers like Dunn, Hurtado, Bauckham, Keener, etc.

    Nick wrote: “If you deny Pauline authorship of 2 Corinthians, then you are on the fringe and NT historians and textual critics will not take you seriously.” It looks like it has never occurred to you that quoting the gospels + epistles to prove that the gospels + epistles is true is circular reasoning.

    I’m not stating this to prove that they are true. I’m stating it to show they were written by Paul. I haven’t even mentioned the authorship of the gospels. Try staying on topic.

    Nick wrote: “I have mentioned the sources above in my post to Alex.
    We have the four gospels that scholars don’t reject a priori but look for some historical evidence of.
    We have the epistles we know to be authentic.” Duh. more circular reasoning.

    Saying the gospels aren’t rejected a priori is not circular reasoning. It’s not using the gospels to prove the gospels. It’s treating the gospels as writings seen by scholars as references attempting to tell a history. Do some think there was embellishment? Absolutely! They don’t throw them out entirely however.

    In other words, your argument so far boils down to: believe the gospels + epistles because they’re true, and NT scholars agree with this. As one commentator above has already said: “(You’re) not adding anything new to the discussion.”

    I have not once stated that we should accept the gospels or epistles as perfect testimonies to truth. I have simply said that they should be accepted as records attempting to write a history which NT scholarship will agree with.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 11:32 am
  84. @Alex

    Actually you won’t. At the library you have the same basis for trusting what you’re reading as I do when finding something via google.

    False. You can look on most books and find relevant information about the author. If they claim to teach at an institution, you can go to that institution’s website then and just check and see if they do.

    You as the librarian for help, or consult an index, then read a book. You trust that the book is an accurate copy of the original. I trust that the page I’m reading is an accurate copy of the original material. I fail to see the difference except that you’re prejudiced against the technology making it so much easier to disprove your point than to prove it.

    It’s the content. What does it take to produce a web site? Anyone can do it. For all you know, you could be reading something by a high schooler with no credentials. When you read a book, you’re reading hopefully something by someone who knows what they’re talking about and who will back it up with numerous references.

    Are all books equal? No. There are some good web sites out there that can give good information. Not denying that. I’m denying that all web sites are equal and considering it’s easier to get information on a web site rather than in a book, they’re more prone to error.

    And if those same books were digitized and found via google, somehow they would be less trustworthy to you?

    Not at all. I have no problem with google books. I have a problem with Consider for instance this information put up in an article in The Atlantic asking if Google is making us stupid.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/

    Actually I found several scholars who doubt that. They are cited via the pages I found on the internet. Saying otherwise doesn’t prove anything. Just because a bunch people believe something enough to laugh at the other side doesn’t make them right.

    Again, internet scholarship is not impressive. If you want to dispute these, then tell me the names of these scholars and their references. I hope you’ll go back to the 1930’s again. That’ll be fun.

    I wasn’t speaking of ancient history, I was talking about right now. You trust that what you read in said books is accurate.

    Not blindly. I actually study the material myself. I don’t just read about Tacitus for instance. I’ve actually read Tacitus. I question the books I read when I think they’re wrong.

    You distrust what is found online (or on google as you so wrongly keep putting it). Just because you disagree with them, doesn’t mean they’re wrong…

    So my sources then are books that can be found in libraries by authors with credentials.

    You refer to a website that could have been put up by a high schooler with no credentials.

    Who will I trust?

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 11:41 am
  85. Nick: False. You can look on most books and find relevant information about the author. If they claim to teach at an institution, you can go to that institution’s website then and just check and see if they do.

    And you can do the same thing for websites. I fail to see your point in the difference. Any idiot can write a book and publish it. And again, you trust what it says (about who the author is), while not giving the same respect to a website, simply because of a prejudiced bias against the technology.

    Nick: It’s the content. What does it take to produce a web site? Anyone can do it. For all you know, you could be reading something by a high schooler with no credentials. When you read a book, you’re reading hopefully something by someone who knows what they’re talking about and who will back it up with numerous references.
    Are all books equal? No. There are some good web sites out there that can give good information. Not denying that. I’m denying that all web sites are equal and considering it’s easier to get information on a web site rather than in a book, they’re more prone to error.

    Again, any idiot can write a book and publish it. Any idiot can write up a website and publish it. Any website I used to generate the above comments cited sources.

    Nick: Not at all. I have no problem with google books. I have a problem with Consider for instance this information put up in an article in The Atlantic asking if Google is making us stupid.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/

    I saw that article and several others before. That seems to be a problem for those who didn’t grow up consuming vast quantities of information. I don’t have that problem and neither to any of my friends. Google isn’t making me stupid, and I’m sorry if it is doing that to you or someone you know. Maybe they’ll do some scientific research on it. I’m actually surprised (not really) that you’re even pointing to something of such dubious scientific merit. Well, since it proves your point, I’m not, but…eh…

    Nick: Again, internet scholarship is not impressive. If you want to dispute these, then tell me the names of these scholars and their references. I hope you’ll go back to the 1930′s again. That’ll be fun.

    Repeat, so we’ll just ignore.

    Nick: Not blindly. I actually study the material myself. I don’t just read about Tacitus for instance. I’ve actually read Tacitus. I question the books I read when I think they’re wrong.

    Actually, you’re read copies of Tacitus. Not the same thing, and not in any material way different from what I’ve done online. I’ve copies of what he wrote on dozens of sites.You claim that reading them on paper lends some sort of weight of authority to it that doesn’t logically hold true.

    Nick: So my sources then are books that can be found in libraries by authors with credentials.
    You refer to a website that could have been put up by a high schooler with no credentials.
    Who will I trust?

    So you trust what you’re told (books in libraries written you believe by authors with credentials that you also believe) because it agrees with what you’d like to believe. This is exactly what we’ve been saying all along. Thank you for finally admitting it. I don’t trust websites, I distrust what you’re saying because I find more information pointing it out as not true or at least suspect than otherwise.

    Again, when you get some evidence you’d like to present for why we should believe you, let me know. Evidence would be something that passes muster for more than those who already believe. Although, if you could do so, it would be an amazing breakthrough for the theologians, so I’d be glad to have helped you bring it to light. Until then, we’d all like to thank you for playing “Believe me because I say I’m right”.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 26, 2010, 12:01 pm
  86. Using Google or Wikipedia to find reliable information is like trying to find a diamond the size of a quarter in a mound of crap the size of the North American continent. Honestly, you might as well just tattoo “GULLIBLE MORON” onto your forehead and become a Scientologist.

    As for the interesting, i.e. wrong, pronouncements made on Jesus’ historicity and the veracity of Tacitus, et al. Whilst I generally find people who try to speak authoritatively on subjects vastly outside of their subject area hilarious, there comes a point where I have to wonder how people can be so out of touch with reality and still know how to function in a civilised society at all.

    Starting with Tacitus, Tacitus distinguishes between confirmed and hearsay accounts almost 70 times in his History. In the Annals, there are 30 instances where Tacitus uses specific phrases to verify a statement or to present an unverified statement he did not care to vouch for. If he felt this account of Jesus was only a rumor or folklore, he would have issued his usual disclaimer that this account was unverified. The mention of Christ must originate in some documentary source, since it contains no such word as ‘dicunt’ or ‘ferunt,’ which would authorise us to suppose that Tacitus is only relating gossip. Furthermore, in Books 11-16 of the Annals, Tacitus concerns himself with the evidence and source references to a greater extent than in the earlier books. He relies on other historians, a bronze inscription (11.14), reports or memoirs (15.16), personal testimonies (15.73), and physical evidence (15.42). There are indications of searches for first-hand (15.41) and written (12.67, 13.17) evidence. Therefore the reference to Jesus comes in the middle of one of Tacitus’ most carefully-documented works. Tacitus was also one of the most reliable historians to have ever lived: –

    “the prime quality of Cornelius Tacitus is distrust. It was needed if a man were to write about the Caesars.” Ronald Syme, Tacitus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 281-2

    “[Tacitus] was no stranger to industrious investigation.” Ronald Syme, Tacitus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 398

    “it may be said with some confidence that the view that Tacitus followed a single authority no longer commands support” Donald Dudley, The World of Tacitus (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1968), 29

    “[t]here is no doubt that [Tacitus] took a great deal of care in selecting his material” Michael Grant, Tacitus: The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Books, 1973), 20.

    “[Tacitus]… chose judiciously among his sources, totally dependent on none, and very often, at crucial points, ignored the consensus of his predecessors to impose his own viewpoint and his own judgement.” Herbert W. Benario, An Introduction to Tacitus (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1975), 87

    “for Tacitean scepticism was inescapable is not to be doubted.” G. E. F. Chilver, A Historical Commentary on Tacitus’ Histories I and II (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 24

    “[i]t is clear, then, that Tacitus read widely and that the idea he was an uncritical follower of a single source is quite untenable” Donald Martin, Tacitus (Berkley: University of California Press, 1981), 211

    “If research is the consultation and evaluation of sources, there can be little doubt that Tacitus engaged in serious research though it is not often apparent in the smooth flow of his narrative.” Ronald Mellor, Tacitus (New York: Routledge, 1993), 31-2

    “[Tacitus] was careful to contrast what had been handed down orally with the written tradition” Michael Grant, Greek and Roman Histories: Information and Misinformation (London: Routledge, 1995), 40-3

    Tacitus was highly critical even of trusted friends and sources:
    “So it is related by Caius Pliny. Handed down from whatever source, I had no intention of suppressing it, however absurd it may seem, either that Antonia should have lent her name at her life’s peril to a hopeless project, or that Piso, with his well-known affection for his wife, should have pledged himself to another marriage, but for the fact that the lust of dominion inflames the heart more than any other passion.” – Tacitus, Annals 15.53

    Lastly, the anti-Christian tone of the passage, the scapegoat motif, the Latin style, and the integration of the passage with the story prevent the passage from being an interpolation or forgery. The reference from Tacitus constitutes prima facie evidence for the historicity of Jesus. I could discuss up the other clear references to Jesus now, but I have university assignments to do, so maybe later.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 26, 2010, 12:49 pm
  87. Nick wrote in regard to Tacitus:”Duly noted that you left out the point about the negative tone of Christians”

    Duly noted that your assertion that Tacitus had records on Jesus crucifixion is based on the following:
    1)Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded.
    2)That he would take the trouble to send that documentation to Rome.
    3)You need to assume that it was a common practice to record the execution of non-Roman citizens.
    4)You would need to show why the emperor or the senate in Rome would interested in knowing the execution of non-roman citizens who were nothing but criminals, when the Romans conquered and subjugated non-Romans ordinary citizens, and exploiting them to the hilt.
    5) Tacitus did not get his information from Christians.

    You have provided no plausible argument for your position. It looks like your position borders on suspending disbelief.

    Nick wrote:”I have not once stated that we should accept the gospels or epistles as perfect testimonies to truth. I have simply said that they should be accepted as records attempting to write a history which NT scholarship will agree with.”

    This is like pleading that Homer’s illiad is book of history. No, the gospels + epistles are NOT history books in any sense.

    Posted by LM | October 26, 2010, 1:42 pm
  88. You refer to a website that could have been put up by a high schooler with no credentials.
    Who will I trust?

    The thing is, I’ve noticed something really interesting about the question of Jesus’ resurrection. There’s an overwhelming correlation with being a pre-existing Christian and espousing the position of historicity. Among non-Christian or non-theist historians, his resurrection is pretty much universally regarded as a myth.

    Could it be that so many historians from all over the world just happen to be deluded and unable to sufficiently perform in their trained field? Or is it more likely that Christians really just want to believe.

    Furthermore, there’s a pretty parsimonious reason for there being a relatively small number of books discussing why there was not a resurrection. For a non-Christian, it’s obvious that it’s selection bias. Nobody would bother to read the book because it’s not interesting to anyone who can easily recognize mythology.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 26, 2010, 3:01 pm
  89. @Alex

    And you can do the same thing for websites. I fail to see your point in the difference. Any idiot can write a book and publish it. And again, you trust what it says (about who the author is), while not giving the same respect to a website, simply because of a prejudiced bias against the technology.

    It’s not a problem with technology. It’s a problem with information. Not all books on the library shelf are equal. You said some authors can publish their own material. Agreed. That’s also a good reason to see who the publisher is. Publishers don’t want to publish books that are too far out there to embarrass their reputation. On the net, there’s no method of control and any Tom, Dick, or Harry can write a website and claim to be an authority.

    Sorry, but I just don’t unquestionably accept what I read on the net.

    Again, any idiot can write a book and publish it. Any idiot can write up a website and publish it. Any website I used to generate the above comments cited sources.

    See above. Again, you also have to check the quality of said sources. A source can misquote its reference or it can use outdated sources. That’s why good research is important and google just isn’t the place for that. Libraries are.

    I saw that article and several others before. That seems to be a problem for those who didn’t grow up consuming vast quantities of information. I don’t have that problem and neither to any of my friends. Google isn’t making me stupid, and I’m sorry if it is doing that to you or someone you know.

    Can’t do it to me since I don’t depend on it for serious research. You, however, are already believing something based on a google search and thinking that gives you some kind of authority. When you read a book on the topic, let me know.

    Maybe they’ll do some scientific research on it. I’m actually surprised (not really) that you’re even pointing to something of such dubious scientific merit. Well, since it proves your point, I’m not, but…eh…

    We’re discussing history. Not science. That’s a category fallacy. This might seem like a shock, but there are truths out there that aren’t scientific and there are methods of truth testing other than the scientific method.

    Repeat, so we’ll just ignore.

    Not ignoring. I’m just aware that we’ve learned a lot since the 1930’s. When you’re looking at scholarship, you want the most up-to-date material. Why did a source go back to the 1930’s to find agreement? It’s because that’s how far back you have to go to find someone who thinks like that.

    Actually, you’re read copies of Tacitus. Not the same thing, and not in any material way different from what I’ve done online. I’ve copies of what he wrote on dozens of sites.You claim that reading them on paper lends some sort of weight of authority to it that doesn’t logically hold true.

    Yes. And the copy that I have of Tacitus states what parts of the Annals we do have missing, but scholars don’t doubt that we have what Tacitus wrote. Now if you want to say the text has been changed, I’d like to know what you know about textual criticism and the way ancient documents are transmitted.

    So you trust what you’re told (books in libraries written you believe by authors with credentials that you also believe) because it agrees with what you’d like to believe.

    No. I believe it because I believe the data is reliable. For instance, I do agree with Crossan that Jesus was crucified. I disagree with him when he says Jesus’s body was buried to the dogs. I don’t find the historical evidence for such convincing. I make it a point to read the sources I disagree with so I can know what the other side is saying and make sure my belief is correct.

    This is exactly what we’ve been saying all along. Thank you for finally admitting it. I don’t trust websites, I distrust what you’re saying because I find more information pointing it out as not true or at least suspect than otherwise.

    I can just as easily say “Alex doesn’t trust books because then he’d actually have to do some hard research and it’s easier to just dismiss easily what anyone says by pointing to Joe Blow on the net rather than do actual work.”

    You show me a website with real credentials and real arguments and if I disagree with it, I’ll tell you why.

    Again, when you get some evidence you’d like to present for why we should believe you, let me know.

    Already done. Sorry if you think a google search is more reliable than actually doing research.

    Evidence would be something that passes muster for more than those who already believe.

    What I’ve presented is what NT historians will tell you as well. But hey, I know the atheist mindset is not open to evidence.

    Although, if you could do so, it would be an amazing breakthrough for the theologians, so I’d be glad to have helped you bring it to light. Until then, we’d all like to thank you for playing “Believe me because I say I’m right”.

    No. Believe me because I actually present evidence rather than just dismiss everything and believe me because I have scholarship on my side and don’t buy into the Jesus myth.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 3:34 pm
  90. @LM

    Nick wrote in regard to Tacitus:”Duly noted that you left out the point about the negative tone of Christians”
    Duly noted that your assertion that Tacitus had records on Jesus crucifixion is based on the following:
    1)Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded.

    Yes. Ancient societies actually kept records of what they did for legal matters.

    2)That he would take the trouble to send that documentation to Rome.

    Of course he would. Pilate was on thin ice with the Roman leaders. He would not do something to jeopardize that.

    3)You need to assume that it was a common practice to record the execution of non-Roman citizens.

    See #1

    4)You would need to show why the emperor or the senate in Rome would interested in knowing the execution of non-roman citizens who were nothing but criminals, when the Romans conquered and subjugated non-Romans ordinary citizens, and exploiting them to the hilt.

    Who said anything about the emperor or the Senate? I’m talking about one historian who incidental to his being a historian was a Senator.

    5) Tacitus did not get his information from Christians.
    You have provided no plausible argument for your position. It looks like your position borders on suspending disbelief.

    Tacitus told when he was getting his sources from testimony and when he did not believe his sources. He gave no caveat here. The evidence is enough for historians of the period.

    This is like pleading that Homer’s illiad is book of history. No, the gospels + epistles are NOT history books in any sense.

    False. Bart Ehrman would tell you the best information on the historical Jesus can be found in the gospels and he is not a Christ-myther by any means and thinks atheists are wasting their time by trying to prove Jesus never existed as it’s a flimsy position to hold.

    Also, the only way you can argue the gospels aren’t historical is to presuppose that they are automatically unhistorical. Upon what grounds?

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 3:38 pm
  91. @hamby

    The thing is, I’ve noticed something really interesting about the question of Jesus’ resurrection. There’s an overwhelming correlation with being a pre-existing Christian and espousing the position of historicity. Among non-Christian or non-theist historians, his resurrection is pretty much universally regarded as a myth.

    Ah Hamby. I’ve been wondering when you’d show up again. No reply to what I said. That’s fine. I’ve got used to it.

    So now we play the motive card. Sorry. It doesn’t wash with me. I’m not interested in seeing the possible motivations someone would have for believing or not believing. I’m interested in the data.

    Could it be that so many historians from all over the world just happen to be deluded and unable to sufficiently perform in their trained field? Or is it more likely that Christians really just want to believe.

    Or could it be that non-Christians don’t want to believe? We can play the motive day all day long and we’ll wind up arguing peoples’ motives rather than arguing the data. That’s what I’d prefer to argue. Psychoanalyzing doesn’t work.

    Furthermore, there’s a pretty parsimonious reason for there being a relatively small number of books discussing why there was not a resurrection. For a non-Christian, it’s obvious that it’s selection bias. Nobody would bother to read the book because it’s not interesting to anyone who can easily recognize mythology.

    NT historians may think there are mythical elements to the gospels, but they do not see the gospels as belonging to the genre of myths. That’s just the way NT scholarship is. There are also books out there discussing what really happened that deny Jesus rose again. This happens in the field of NT studies.

    The best way to find that out is to get off of google and read the literature.

    Posted by apologianick | October 26, 2010, 3:42 pm
  92. @LM
    “You have provided no plausible argument for your position. It looks like your position borders on suspending disbelief.”
    Sorry dum-dum, but you have provided no plausible arguments for YOUR position, whereas there is plenty of evidence for the opposite of your position. Your position relies on the following assumptions:
    1) Jesus’ crucifixion was not recorded
    2) That such records were unavailable to Tacitus
    3) That someone accused of sedition would be treated lightly by the Romans.
    4) The Romans would completely ignore someone accused of sedition on account of their being a non-Roman.
    5) That Tacitus uncritically accepted things at face value from Christians, whom he hated.

    As such, there is absolutely zero evidence to support your BS assertions, and a vast body of evidence to support the opposite case. See here: http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/christian-morality/#comment-3879

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 26, 2010, 3:45 pm
  93. Ah Hamby. I’ve been wondering when you’d show up again. No reply to what I said. That’s fine. I’ve got used to it.

    Nick, I tend to answer questions once, and not repeat myself. If I’m going to write on a new topic several times a week, I can’t simply repeat the same arguments. I understand that my responses haven’t been convincing to you, and that’s ok. I don’t expect to change your mind. But I’ve said what I wanted to say, and readers of our exchanges can choose which position they think makes the most sense.

    So now we play the motive card. Sorry. It doesn’t wash with me. I’m not interested in seeing the possible motivations someone would have for believing or not believing. I’m interested in the data.

    And here is my problem. Let me repeat this in case you didn’t see the problem in the first place. Pre-existing Christians overwhelmingly believe the resurrection is factual. Pre-existing belief is MOTIVATION, Nick. On the one hand, we have Christians, who overwhelmingly believe that history squares with their religion. On the other hand, we have Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Taoists, Deists, New Agers, Pantheists, Pagans, Wiccans, Hindus, Spiritualists, Confucionists, Unitarian Universalists, and a hundred other “ists” who don’t.

    As motivation goes, it appears that the ONLY motivation which makes people believe the resurrection is PRE-EXISTING BELIEF. That doesn’t wash, Nick.

    Or could it be that non-Christians don’t want to believe?

    Yes, Nick. It could be that there’s a gigantic conspiracy among everyone else in the world to intentionally fabricate, misrepresent, and propagate a history and philosophy of the world that makes your resurrection story look like a myth, because they don’t want to believe in eternal paradise and perfect happiness when they’re dead.

    Or, it might be that it’s a myth. So yeah, I think the motivation of the writers is crucially important. And it’s likely that everybody outside of Christianity thinks so, too. But then, that’s probably why you’re having such a hard time wrapping your brain around the simple idea that we non-believers don’t just automatically trust someone because they wrote a book.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 26, 2010, 4:20 pm
  94. Nick wrote:

    You can interview the NT historians all you want. It’s a sure fact that Jesus was crucified.

    They accept that his execution is historical.

    Allow me to reiterate that the standards we use to judge ancient history are pretty low; saying that we accept the crucifixion as being historical is not the same as saying that we accept the holocaust to be historical. You can certainly say that the holocaust is a sure fact. We’re not nearly so confident about the crucifixion.

    You can come up with a plausible explanation for the crucifixion being myth–for instance, let’s say the passage in the Talmud is accurate, and Jesus was hanged rather than crucified. Perhaps some folks misunderstood “hanging” to mean “hanged from a cross,” and the rest is…”history.”

    Can you come up with a plausible explanation for the holocaust being a myth? Not even close.

    Nick wrote:

    Sexual abstinence until marriage was taught while other belief systems participated in orgies.

    Orgies are overrated.

    Nick wrote:

    Your so-called remark about perfect logic ignores these and other points that are important to my argument.

    We’re in very speculative territory here though, aren’t we. This is different than saying, “Such and such document attests to the veracity of such and such a thing.” What we’re doing here is interpreting motivation based on cultural peculiarities specific to these people, while ignoring that the story might have universal appeal to human nature. Certainly, we can’t confine everyone at the time to the generalities we make about them two thousand years later.

    because there is disagreement on secondary issues does not mean there is no agreement on primary issues.

    You’re right. I’m just used to the all-or-nothing school of Biblical criticism; and if I must accept it all or throw it all away, I’ll happily toss out the whole bathroom. Your argument is much more interesting, and I appreciate the time you’ve taken to make it.

    Posted by Ian | October 26, 2010, 5:38 pm
  95. Nick: “Yes. Ancient societies actually kept records of what they did for legal matters. ” Sure they recorded plenty of stuff. But that is NOT an answer to the assumption that 1)Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded. There is no record of that. There is no mention anywhere that this was ever done. So again your assumption remains baseless.

    Nick wrote: “Of course he would. Pilate was on thin ice with the Roman leaders. He would not do something to jeopardize that.” More speculation on you’re part. Why would Pilate be on thin ice? He executed a nobody in the eyes of the Romans, a man who had no army, but a dozen apostles who went into hiding, if we take the bible at face value. In what way was the Roman empire in peril from a delusional man claiming to be the son of God?

    Nick wrote: “Tacitus told when he was getting his sources from testimony and when he did not believe his sources. He gave no caveat here. The evidence is enough for historians of the period.” There are thousands of tibits of information in the 15 volumes of the Annals. For the vast majority, Tacitus gives no evidence where he got his info. On rare occasions did stop his writing to indicate a possible
    source. But to theorize that he investigated every single data in the Annals is a baseless assumption.

    Nick wrote: “Bart Ehrman would tell you the best information on the historical Jesus can be found in the gospels and he is not a Christ-myther by any means and thinks atheists are wasting their time by trying to prove Jesus never existed as it’s a flimsy position to hold.” Citing one atheist who agrees with you does not give credence to your claim.

    Posted by LM | October 26, 2010, 7:12 pm
  96. Ian wrote: “Allow me to reiterate that the standards we use to judge ancient history are pretty low;”
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m sorry, but there is absolutely nothing that supports this baseless BS assertion. I can tell from this one statement alone that you have never studied history, and know absolutely nothing about the subject whatsoever. Either that, or you are being wilfully and blatantly dishonest so you can remain intoxicated in your myths as opposed to changing your belief in the face of evidence. No, the problem is that you suffer from dumbassery, the cure for which is not pills, but a good solid arsekicking.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 26, 2010, 7:29 pm
  97. Ironic that someone using the name “Rational Gaze” is namecalling.

    Posted by Joel Justiss | October 26, 2010, 10:34 pm
  98. @Nick,

    As it’s obviously extremely difficult for you to understand, and apparently for Rational Gaze as well, I don’t trust what I’ve found on the internet regarding this Jesus fable. I just don’t trust what you’ve said (or read) either. I personally take no hard position either way.

    Having said that, with regards to ancient history (anything prior to the invention of photographs and extensive documentation practices via news outlets and the ease provided by mass produced books and digital records) I am automatically dubious of any far-fetched claims. The Jesus myth is far-fetched. If it occurred in modern times, there would be thousands of scientists immediately vying for the slots to examine the body, burial ground, video footage or said execution, his miracles, etc…

    I’m sorry, but some guy wrote a book (or even some dozen guys writing some dozen books) about the mystical Jesus decades or even centuries after his death does not solid evidence make, at least for me. You give me hundreds of eyewitness accounts (as in the case of the holocaust for instance) and I’ll start to accept something I didn’t live through as fact. I mean, the pharaohs at least built pyramids, and they’re still around.

    Oh, as you and friends keep trying to indicate that Google and Wikipedia are some how inferior as tools to find the truth, you’re idiots. I’m sorry, but if you truly believe that anyone finding things via Google and Wikipedia is a moron, you’re just being plain stupid. The vast majority of what’s on Wikipedia passes more stringent validation than the stuff you believe. Oh, and Scientology is equally as believable with just as much actual evidence supporting it as your religion, so I’d watch my tone there.

    Lastly, can you please explain at least one other method for determining the truth than the scientific method (my understanding of the scientific method being question everything, believe what there is evidence for in relation to the strength of said evidence)?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 6:47 am
  99. @Rational Gaze, wow. Nice name calling there, but I’m pretty sure he’s being spot on. Stop being an asshole if you want to at all be taken seriously.

    I’m sorry, but there’s just nothing in what’s been said that is at all convincing. This is like someone saying I should believe in Hercules, or Thor, or the Titans, because they do and some ancient people (a tiny few of them) wrote about it and said it was true. When you can point to a material difference between the cases for any of these, let me know.

    And calling someone stupid for using the internet to find all points of view is just asinine and not helpful. We live in an age when most information is available online. Sorry your type (the type who would rather be able to control what information people have access to in order to “prove” their point easier because competing information would not be available) find that hard to accept, but there it is.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 6:56 am
  100. @Nick, sorry, couldn’t help myself, but where are those Roman records that Tacitus supposedly used to support this statements? Oh wait, that’s right we don’t require them because this is ancient history. So we’re still down to accepting hearsay as truth? Seem biased much?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 6:58 am
  101. “Oh, as you and friends keep trying to indicate that Google and Wikipedia are some how inferior as tools to find the truth, you’re idiots. I’m sorry, but if you truly believe that anyone finding things via Google and Wikipedia is a moron, you’re just being plain stupid. The vast majority of what’s on Wikipedia passes more stringent validation than the stuff you believe.”

    Hahahahahaha, blooming heck. Even the football fans on the BBC message board know that Wikipedia is not a realible source. The article on a footballer called Andreas Thom was edited once to say that his football skills led to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1990. It was a totally ridiculous comment and it stayed up there for ages until it was finally edited out.

    Fact is, anyone can go into wikipedia and change an article to say something. It could take ages for the stuff on wikipedia to be reviewed you know, they only have so much time available to do their checks.

    As for google, well it’s the internet and anybody can write stuff on the internet. By your own admission because you accept stuff written on the internet then you are being selective in your information choice because you won’t accept anything a Christian says to you over the internet. i.e. You’re not listening to Nick.

    I think you need a better way to find information. If you really want to talk about this subject then at the very least you should be buying books and reading them from scholars with credentials on this subject. Even the atheist scholars don’t take the Christ myth seriously.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 27, 2010, 7:41 am
  102. “And calling someone stupid for using the internet to find all points of view is just asinine and not helpful. We live in an age when most information is available online. Sorry your type (the type who would rather be able to control what information people have access to in order to “prove” their point easier because competing information would not be available) find that hard to accept, but there it is.”

    The point is you should be using REPUTABLE sources to find your information, not just some other guy who can write whatever the heck he wants to on his own private website.

    Using your own argument you would have to start reading Young Earth Creationist websites and take them seriously. And well, lets face it, you wouldn’t do that, would you? No you would say, and rightly so, “this stuff is not science, it’s unscientific”. So as a case in point then where would you find your science information? You wouldn’t ask credible scientists with degrees on the subject would you? Oh gosh, imagine that.

    In all honesty you hold to a bunch of double standards where you judge Christians for being unscientific and unschorlarly on one hand while you yourself don’t bother to do any scholarly research in concerns to the historicity behind Jesus but instead you just google it and take whatever trash is there written by anyone who you just so happen to agree with.

    Yeah, I can really see that you practice what you preach /sarcasm

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 27, 2010, 7:53 am
  103. Alex wrote: “Nice name calling there, but I’m pretty sure he’s being spot on. Stop being an asshole if you want to at all be taken seriously.”
    It is not my fault that you and he have a combined intelligence lower than the ankle socks of a particularly small beetle, standing in a ditch, in a quarry, in the low country. You should probably stop being an equally delusional moron, if you want to be taken seriously. Since neither you nor your fellow delusional brainless dimwits seem capable of providing any sort of evidence to back your assertions, yet seem intent to rely on groundless esoteric claptrap, I am perfectly free to insult you until you actually get round to proving some actual evidence to back your BS assertions.

    Refute, or concede defeat, your choice dum-dum:
    http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/christian-morality/#comment-3879

    Alex wrote: “When you can point to a material difference between the cases for any of these, let me know.”
    When you can point to material similarities between the cases for any of these, let me know. Seeing as you are incapable of providing any evidence for your BS assertions, and seeing as how, when you are hopelessly beaten and crushed like a bug, you feel the need to make sudden changes in subject and never quite get round to answering anything we have to say, I am going to continue mocking and deriding you and your quixotic self-delusions.

    Alex wrote: “Oh, as you and friends keep trying to indicate that Google and Wikipedia are some how inferior as tools to find the truth, you’re idiots. I’m sorry, but if you truly believe that anyone finding things via Google and Wikipedia is a moron, you’re just being plain stupid. The vast majority of what’s on Wikipedia passes more stringent validation than the stuff you believe.”
    This only just goes to show what a complete and utter retard you are. Items on Google and Wikipedia don’t pass any validation, whereas the scholarly material we have cited have passed vigourous peer review. There is a reason why citing Google and Wikipedia is not allowed at college and university, it is because they are not valid sources of research. If you were to cite either Google or I am amazed at how someone can be so out of touch with reality and still know how to use a computer.

    Look around you. Are the people nearby: –
    *Hyper-extending their arms.
    *Flapping their hands.
    *Using safety pencils.
    *Dribbling excessively.
    *Being supervised by people in white coats.

    I can already tell the answer is yes.

    “Oh, and Scientology is equally as believable with just as much actual evidence supporting it as your religion, so I’d watch my tone there.”
    No, there is zero supporting evidence for Scientology. Judging from your highly emotive response, I can tell I hit a nerve there. Face it, you’re as big a moron as Kent Hovind, et al.

    Alex wrote: “Lastly, can you please explain at least one other method for determining the truth than the scientific method (my understanding of the scientific method being question everything, believe what there is evidence for in relation to the strength of said evidence)?”
    That’s not the scientific method dumbass. What have you got in your head instead of brains, pretzels? The scientific method consists of:
    Collecting observable, empirical and measurable data from observatiion, experimentation and the formulating and testing of hypotheses.
    The hypothesis must be able to provide testable predictions, and must be potentially falsifiable.
    If there is enough evidence to support the hypothesis, and the hypothesis makes the best sense of the facts, it is upgraded to a theory, and testing, etc. continues.
    If later evidence turns up that contradicts the hypothesis or theory, it either updated, or abanadoned in favour of a better hypothesis or theory.

    However, the scientific method only applies to observable and repeatable phenomenon. The following are all completely unprovable by the scientific method:
    Logical truths. Science pre-supposes logic.
    Mathematical truths. Science pre-supposes Mathematics.
    Moral truths. What is good and evil cannot be gleaned from facts about how the physical world works.
    Aesthetic truths. What is beatiful and ugly cannot be gleaned from facts about how the physical world works.
    The scientific method itself. (Trying to prove the scientiic method with the scientific method would be circular reasoning.)

    “sorry, couldn’t help myself, but where are those Roman records that Tacitus supposedly used to support this statements? Oh wait, that’s right we don’t require them because this is ancient history. So we’re still down to accepting hearsay as truth? Seem biased much?”
    This only goes to show your monumental and egregious ignorance of history and the historic method. I would suggest you stop trying to speak authoritatively on subjects you know absolutely nothing about, but your continuing to do so serves as excellent evidence that atheism causes severe brain damage and mental retardation. We lack a considerable amount of transitional forms in the fossil record, yet we know they existed. We lack any writings from Socrates, yet we know he existed. We lack any first-hand reports on Alexander the Great, yet we know they (and he) existed. You should probably stop trying to psychologically project your inability to udnerstand or successfully utilise the historic method as the fault of historians. Rather, accept the fact you are ignorant and actually try to improve your understanding. Yet, seeing as though it seems you would rather remain intoxicated in your myths than change your beliefs in the face of evidence, this is highly unlikely.

    According to Alex:
    * All Christian scholars are biased liars. This rule holds even when the scholar in question has attained the unwavering trust and respect of the entire academic community.
    * All atheist scholars are honest and useful. This rule holds even when the scholar in question is useless and/or clearly a liar.
    * Watch out for any Christian in a position of academic authority, especially if they prove their sincerity innumerable times. They are probably plotting the demise of the world’s population in secret (at least when they can fit it into their busy schedule of betraying their country, sponsoring international terrorism, and stealing candy from small children) and will stab everyone in the back at the most inconvenient moment.
    * Be cautious of everyone you meet. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, anyone and everyone who is religious is just plain out to get you.
    * Unscholarly sources make excellent sources even though in the real world they are completely disregarded by the academic community.
    * Talk enthusiastically about how some fantastically ultimate argument would completely destroy Christianity. Oh, if only you heard it! However, once this argument is actually refuted — at great length, of course – dismiss said argument as yesterday’s news and instead start talking about some even more fantastically ultimate argument.
    * Any misdeed up to and including multiple genocide is forgivable, providing that they were carried out by atheists.
    * Include logical fallacies and internal contradictions glaringly obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence.
    * Compare God to representatives of all of the following: giant spiders, giant scorpions, giant snakes, giant beetles, wolves, squid, fish that float in midair, gargoyles, golems, carnivorous plants, chimeras, griffons, cockatrices, hydras, minotaurs, burrowing things with big claws, things that can paralyse you, things that can put you to sleep, things that can petrify you, at least twenty different creatures with poisonous tentacles, and dragons. Always dragons.

    Did I leave anything out? Come back when you have something productive to say, instead of just repeating things you don’t understand that you heard from an intellectually crippled BS peddlar as equally in the dark as yourself. Here’s a hint, if you and somone who is pursuing a professional career in history disagree about something regarding history, the chances are it is you that is wrong.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 27, 2010, 12:04 pm
  104. Joel wrote: “Ironic that someone using the name “Rational Gaze” is namecalling.”
    Nice move. Ignore all the evidence and instead focus on a tiny fraction of my posts. Another sign at how destitute, broken and intellectually bankrupt atheism and its delusional followers are. Still, let’s see what Alex, Ian, LM and other morons do instead of providing any form of evidence:
    Make bare assertions.
    Make sudden and rapid changes in subject when proven wrong on a certain point.
    Ignore the scholarly consensus whenever it disagrees with them (which is usually all of the time).
    Make absurd straw man arguments that don’t address anything the person they are talking to has said whatsoever.
    Make BS excuses for ignoring evidence.
    Repeat soundbites, esoteric crap with basis in reality and, when all else fails, make things up.

    Wow, sounds exactly like the sort of tactics young earth creationists try and pull. Kent Hovind would be proud.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 27, 2010, 12:13 pm
  105. @Rational Gaze, I’m the one who’s got hurt feelings? That entire post was nothing but vitriol because we don’t agree with you, and you haven’t got anything substantial to use to change our minds.

    You somehow believe that your woo (Christianity) is somehow more provable than their woo (Scientology). Glad to know. When you can prove it, be sure to claim the multitude of million dollar prizes floating around for proving it. There’s even a few for disproving FSM is actually God.

    Now, since you can’t be bothered to actually read what’s been said, or write anything resembling intelligent conversation, I’ll just be ignoring you. You’ll of course take this as some sort of victory, while the rest of the intelligent people in the room sadly realize how right they are to disbelieve your claptrap.

    I’m sorry you refuse to see anyone else’s point of view. It’s probably because you have your head so far up this position’s ass that it’s hard to see anything else. That’s the number one failure in most science books, being convinced of the truth.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 12:31 pm
  106. Note: reputable source = christian articles published by christian authors who studied at christian university.

    Posted by LM | October 27, 2010, 2:07 pm
  107. @LM, you forgot articles written by non-christians that prove the pre-determined point of view. Those are also reputable, of course.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 2:12 pm
  108. And of course, they have one or two or, maybe three, token non-christian authors which they keep repeating their names ad nauseum.

    Posted by LM | October 27, 2010, 2:29 pm
  109. @hamby

    Nick, I tend to answer questions once, and not repeat myself. If I’m going to write on a new topic several times a week, I can’t simply repeat the same arguments.

    Without paying due attention to the replies. For instance, I replied to you about the passage about stoning children. What do I see? No interaction with my comment, but you repeating it again in a later one. It tells me you’re not listening. Why? Afraid of losing a favorite point and that someone who actually studies the context of the book can pierce that bubble?

    I understand that my responses haven’t been convincing to you, and that’s ok. I don’t expect to change your mind.

    Your answers aren’t convincing to the scholarly community. Try taking the Christ-myth to some Roman historians or NT historians and argue for it. You might as well try to tell a team of geologists that the Earth is flat. The only place that such a theory can be propagated is if there was an area where opinions weren’t examined by those in authority and anyone could say anything and establish an area to do such. Hello internet!

    But I’ve said what I wanted to say, and readers of our exchanges can choose which position they think makes the most sense.

    I’m more interested in which position the scholars think makes sense. Appealing to the masses is not the way to determine truth. However, I think aware readers will know the scholarship is on my side.

    .

    And here is my problem. Let me repeat this in case you didn’t see the problem in the first place. Pre-existing Christians overwhelmingly believe the resurrection is factual.

    Apostate Christians don’t believe it is. Some non-Christians examine the evidence and become believers. This is all irrelevant. What’s relevant is “What does the data say?”

    Psychoanalysis is always easier than research though. Let’s question people’s motives for belief instead of the belief itself.

    Pre-existing belief is MOTIVATION, Nick.

    I don’t deny that. I just deny the motivation is relevant. What’s relevant is the data.

    And by the way, for the early church, there were no already Christians. People who did not believe in the resurrection came to believe it. Why? What convinced them?

    On the one hand, we have Christians, who overwhelmingly believe that history squares with their religion. On the other hand, we have Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Taoists, Deists, New Agers, Pantheists, Pagans, Wiccans, Hindus, Spiritualists, Confucionists, Unitarian Universalists, and a hundred other “ists” who don’t.

    And each group also believes its own interpretation of history is correct. For instance, the new atheists believe religion is a destructive force on society. Other religions don’t and in fact, the old atheists didn’t. Flew, Mackie, Nielsen, and others would readily admit the positive contributions of Christianity to society as a whole and simply disagreed with it as a thought system.

    As motivation goes, it appears that the ONLY motivation which makes people believe the resurrection is PRE-EXISTING BELIEF. That doesn’t wash, Nick.

    Assumption that it can’t be the evidence. Of course, whenever someone comes to atheism, there’s never going to be any motivation we need to look at. Those people are just looking at the facts.

    Again, dealing with motives is a way to not deal with data.

    Yes, Nick. It could be that there’s a gigantic conspiracy among everyone else in the world to intentionally fabricate, misrepresent, and propagate a history and philosophy of the world that makes your resurrection story look like a myth, because they don’t want to believe in eternal paradise and perfect happiness when they’re dead.

    Wow. Straw man much? Because someone doesn’t want to believe, it doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy. There are reasons individuals don’t want to believe, such as having to admit there is a God, having to give up lifestyles that Christianity has something to say about, etc. What was it Nagel said? “I don’t want there to be a God!”

    Or, it might be that it’s a myth.

    Or it might be some people believe for dumb reasons and some people disbelieve for dumb reasons but all we have to do is really look at the data.

    So yeah, I think the motivation of the writers is crucially important. And it’s likely that everybody outside of Christianity thinks so, too.

    I find it irrelevant. I care about the data that they present and not why they want to present that data.

    But then, that’s probably why you’re having such a hard time wrapping your brain around the simple idea that we non-believers don’t just automatically trust someone because they wrote a book.

    Neither do I. Of course, you all have no problem trusting wikipedia even though you don’t know who wrote that or what their motivation was, but hey, it keeps us from having to read real books and do real research.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 3:06 pm
  110. @Ian:

    They accept that his execution is historical.

    NT scholars and historians do. You know what that means? It means they know that he also existed. Once again, you don’t have to check conservatives. Ask the Jesus Seminar.

    Allow me to reiterate that the standards we use to judge ancient history are pretty low;

    Oh please. There are criteria that are set forth for an ancient text to gauge authenticity in its conduct. Do you know any of them?

    saying that we accept the crucifixion as being historical is not the same as saying that we accept the holocaust to be historical. You can certainly say that the holocaust is a sure fact. We’re not nearly so confident about the crucifixion.

    Actually, we are. Something is either historical or not historical. There might be degrees of information, but a fact is a fact. We may know more about the holocaust, but it doesn’t make sense to say it’s “more historical.”

    You can come up with a plausible explanation for the crucifixion being myth–for instance, let’s say the passage in the Talmud is accurate, and Jesus was hanged rather than crucified. Perhaps some folks misunderstood “hanging” to mean “hanged from a cross,” and the rest is…”history.”

    To hang meant crucifixion in the Roman period. The term is used in the New Testament and the authors knew he was crucified. That was how Romans did it.

    Can you come up with a plausible explanation for the holocaust being a myth? Not even close.

    Nor am I arguing that it was a myth, but some people are. I just accept historical sources properly without having to run like Dracula from a cross whenever any possible historical reference to Jesus shows up.

    Orgies are overrated.

    Oh my gosh. I can’t believe you actually said that. Yep. The Romans and Greeks would quickly give up their Bacchic rites with ritualistic sex to join a community where sexual abstinence was practiced.

    We’re in very speculative territory here though, aren’t we.

    Only if you’re ignorant of ancient history. This is the work the group of scholars known as the Context group have been presenting on how the ANE is an honor/shame agonistic culture rather than a modern individualistic one.

    This is different than saying, “Such and such document attests to the veracity of such and such a thing.” What we’re doing here is interpreting motivation based on cultural peculiarities specific to these people, while ignoring that the story might have universal appeal to human nature.

    And if it was just universal appeal, they would do the same they would do with any other story. “Hey! I like that story! I’m just not going to commit my life to this guy!” Liking a story doesn’t mean committing your life to it.

    Instead, what I’m doing is just going by what scholarship has been saying about the ancient world and the way it functioned. You’re reading your own modernist worldview into it.

    Certainly, we can’t confine everyone at the time to the generalities we make about them two thousand years later.

    No. We instead state what we have. Which scholarship do you have that shows the context group to be wrong? Wikipedia and google don’t count. You need actual books.

    You’re right. I’m just used to the all-or-nothing school of Biblical criticism; and if I must accept it all or throw it all away, I’ll happily toss out the whole bathroom. Your argument is much more interesting, and I appreciate the time you’ve taken to make it.

    All or nothing would throw out all of ancient history. It’d also throw out more recent events such as the sinking of the Titanic. There is disagreement in secondary details, including a huge secondary disagreement with eyewitnesses. Do we wish to deny the Titanic sunk then?

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 3:18 pm
  111. @LM

    Sure they recorded plenty of stuff. But that is NOT an answer to the assumption that 1)Pilate had the crucifixion of Jesus, a common criminal, recorded.

    Interesting what you think you know about a guy who you don’t think existed. First off, Jesus was not seen as a common criminal. He was seen as a traitor telling the Jews there was another king besides Caesar. Common criminals didn’t claim to have kingdoms.

    There is no record of that. There is no mention anywhere that this was ever done. So again your assumption remains baseless.

    Nor do we have any of the records that you speak of. Why? Because there was no need to copy such writings throughout history. Even ones we would want copied, we don’t have. Some ancient books are incomplete because we’ve lost parts of them. This includes the Annals of Tacitus. Also, we know Plato gave lectures and Aristotle wrote dialogues. We don’t have any of them however.

    More speculation on you’re part. Why would Pilate be on thin ice?

    You can read Josephus sometime and other ancient historians. Pilate had already caused an uproar in Judea by bringing the symbols of the Roman emperor into the temple area. The Jews raised a major outcry that went all the way to Caesar. He also was responsible for the murder of several Samaritans. You can read about in Josephus. Just go to Anquities. It’s sections 18.3 and 18.4.

    You’d know this if you read ancient history instead of relying on google.

    He executed a nobody in the eyes of the Romans, a man who had no army, but a dozen apostles who went into hiding, if we take the bible at face value.

    And if we take the Bible at face value, there was a crowd of 200 to arrest him. Why? Pilate would make sure of everything that went on in the area, especially since he didn’t want to cause a riot, which almost happened, and would give the full details of what happened.

    In what way was the Roman empire in peril from a delusional man claiming to be the son of God?

    Never said it was. Pilate was in peril however as he had already had to give an account to Rome for his actions.

    There are thousands of tibits of information in the 15 volumes of the Annals. For the vast majority, Tacitus gives no evidence where he got his info.

    In a high-context society, that’s not needed. People would know where it was coming from. That’s the way the ancient world was. Writings went to people already familiar with the background. For instance, you read the Federalist Papers and they start talking about Greek wars without describing the wars. Why? Because the average schoolboy knew the wars and didn’t need to be told.

    On rare occasions did stop his writing to indicate a possible
    source. But to theorize that he investigated every single data in the Annals is a baseless assumption.

    Rational Gaze has shown the scholars of Tacitus who show otherwise. I have no need to repeat what he said.

    Citing one atheist who agrees with you does not give credence to your claim.

    The Jesus Seminar gives credence. Gerd Ludemann gives credibility. Michael Goulder gives credibility. NT historians do not take the Christ myth seriously.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 3:29 pm
  112. @Alex

    As it’s obviously extremely difficult for you to understand, and apparently for Rational Gaze as well, I don’t trust what I’ve found on the internet regarding this Jesus fable.

    Oh we understand very well you prefer lazy research rather than actually going to libraries and reading scholars that will have their work examined by others.

    You see, I could find just about anything on the net. I just typed in “Proof of Miracles” and got 9,530 hits. By golly, there must be miracles! So many people have sites about them! I next got “I was abducted by aliens” and got 396,000 hits. Well I guess that settles it!

    Or could it be that anyone can put up a site like that and if I want to study miracles and/or aliens, I need to actually do research?

    I just don’t trust what you’ve said (or read) either. I personally take no hard position either way.

    Baloney. You take the Christ myth position. I’ve challenged you to take that position to NT scholarship and see what they say. You’ll be laughed at and for good reason.

    No. It’s easier to take Wikipedia, written by someone we don’t know and can’t check their credentials, rather than material that is out in the public area where scholars will be vociferously examining it for accuracy.

    Sorry, but when I do research, I use books. I’m working on a paper right now and did something amazing. I went to Amazon and I ordered books! I ordered people who I even know disagree with my belief. In fact, I can’t think of one I ordered where the person did agree. Why? Because I just don’t like to look at the worldview of the author as much as I like to look at their data. If anything, my favorite reading can often be atheistic literature. Modern atheists are just so funny!

    Having said that, with regards to ancient history (anything prior to the invention of photographs and extensive documentation practices via news outlets and the ease provided by mass produced books and digital records) I am automatically dubious of any far-fetched claims.

    I have no problem with being skeptical. I have a problem with being unreasonably skeptical.

    The Jesus myth is far-fetched.

    You bet it is. It is far-fetched to believe that Jesus never existed. It’s more realistic to believe he did. Believe it or not Alex and everyone else, many atheists do come to grips with the fact that Jesus existed and go on to live happy and meaningful lives! You can too!

    If it occurred in modern times, there would be thousands of scientists immediately vying for the slots to examine the body, burial ground, video footage or said execution, his miracles, etc…

    And you think there weren’t examinations going on back then? The world at the time was skeptical of resurrections as I’ve already pointed out.

    I’m sorry, but some guy wrote a book (or even some dozen guys writing some dozen books) about the mystical Jesus decades or even centuries after his death does not solid evidence make, at least for me.

    We have more witnesses to Jesus than the Caesar on the throne during his time. As for Alexander the Great, the first writings of his life come centuries after the events, but no one I know of is an Alex-myther, even though there were fantastic claims built around his life. Also, the information I’m pointing to is not decades after. It’s barely a year afterwards and in the ancient world, that is very powerful information.

    You give me hundreds of eyewitness accounts (as in the case of the holocaust for instance) and I’ll start to accept something I didn’t live through as fact. I mean, the pharaohs at least built pyramids, and they’re still around.

    And Christ built a church and lo and behold, it’s still around. I’ve given you more eyewitness accounts than for any other event in the ancient world. If you don’t believe Jesus existed, you cannot believe anything about ancient history.

    Oh, as you and friends keep trying to indicate that Google and Wikipedia are some how inferior as tools to find the truth, you’re idiots.

    I was very sorry to hear about the death of Sinbad. Oh. Wait. He’s still alive? But it was up on Wikipedia that he was dead!

    Or we could talk about the death-ray Israel invented that only kills non-Jews. I know it’s true because it was on Wikipedia.

    Did you know Tony Blair’s middle name was “whoop-dee-do” and as a teenager his wall had pictures of Adolf Hitler on it?

    These were all stories on Wiki. No one can check all the articles and edit them all nor can we assume that there’s enough people on Wikipedia knowledgable to check all of those. I even had someone on Wiki once cite my blog as a source and took my position and made it totally different.

    I’m sorry, but if you truly believe that anyone finding things via Google and Wikipedia is a moron, you’re just being plain stupid.

    No. I’m agreeing with college professors who accept serious research papers. I suppose you think academia is stupid? Well, I don’t need to suppose that….

    The vast majority of what’s on Wikipedia passes more stringent validation than the stuff you believe.

    Do tell me about this process. I’d love to hear it!

    Oh, and Scientology is equally as believable with just as much actual evidence supporting it as your religion, so I’d watch my tone there.

    Nonsense. Scientology does not rest on historical claims. Christianity always has and always will.

    Lastly, can you please explain at least one other method for determining the truth than the scientific method (my understanding of the scientific method being question everything, believe what there is evidence for in relation to the strength of said evidence)?

    That’s not the scientific method. (Maybe you should read something on science some day and you’ll learn it.) Rational Gaze presented you the scientific method and I agree with what he said it was. In fact, I agree with what you said. Question everything and believe based on the evidence. In fact, so does the Bible! 1 Thess. 5 tells us to test everything and hold on to what is true and the Bereans in Acts 17 were said to be more noble for checking up on what Paul was telling them. You see, we actually believe people should study their belief system and learn about it and not believe blindly. After all, we don’t want the blind faith of an atheist.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 3:48 pm
  113. LM: “There’s no proof that Jesus was real to begin with. That he was crucified is even more of a stretch. Show me the proof… oh wait, some historians agree with you.”

    I find this comment to be amazing. Do you know more than the historians? Are the historians not the experts on this topic? Is there something you know that they don’t? It just amazes me that anyone would dismiss the experts so quickly. That comment is akin to saying “Oh wait, some EXPERTS on the topic agree with you.”

    Posted by Steve007 | October 27, 2010, 3:51 pm
  114. Without paying due attention to the replies. For instance, I replied to you about the passage about stoning children. What do I see? No interaction with my comment, but you repeating it again in a later one.

    Well, Nick, you didn’t make an argument. You just stated an opinion about its relevance without justifying that opinion. Most of my readers know the difference between an objection and an argument, so I didn’t feel the need to point it out every time you did it. That would take quite a lot of my time.

    Your answers aren’t convincing to the scholarly community.

    By “scholarly community,” you must mean “Christian apologist community.” Because nobody outside of the Christian community takes the resurrection seriously as a historical event.

    Try taking the Christ-myth to some Roman historians or NT historians and argue for it.

    We’re talking about the resurrection. I don’t care if there was a dude named (or given the title) Jesus. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t. I’m not a Jesus-mythicist. Again, the resurrection is only taken seriously by Christians. (How many times am I going to repeat this argument before you address it?)

    Apostate Christians don’t believe it is. Some non-Christians examine the evidence and become believers. This is all irrelevant. What’s relevant is “What does the data say?”

    The data says that humans do not recover from brain death. In billions of recorded, medically supervised deaths, not a single instance of coming back from brain death. (I hope you aren’t going to confuse brain death and clinical death, are you?)

    Anecdotal stories of people becoming believers is interesting, but I think you’ll find (as in the case of Francis Collins) that when we get down to nuts and bolts, there are psychological motivations involved in these conversions — you know… because it’s humans we’re talking about. That’s why we don’t rely on authors or scientists, but the data (as you correctly pointed out). And the data says humans don’t come back from the dead.

    I don’t deny that. I just deny the motivation is relevant. What’s relevant is the data.

    Well, that’s where we’re at loggerheads. You ascribe motivation to non-believers. (You did it, what… yesterday?) By suggesting that non-Christians don’t want to believe you’re appealing to motivation. Then you deny the same bias’s relevance for your own “scholars.”

    And each group also believes its own interpretation of history is correct. For instance, the new atheists believe religion is a destructive force on society. Other religions don’t and in fact, the old atheists didn’t. Flew, Mackie, Nielsen, and others would readily admit the positive contributions of Christianity to society as a whole and simply disagreed with it as a thought system.

    We’re talking about the resurrection. Everyone except for Christian apologists believe that the evidence points to the resurrection as a myth. (Please don’t be a jerk and pull out one Buddhist or something inane like that. “Everyone” refers to “virtually everyone.”)

    Assumption that it can’t be the evidence. Of course, whenever someone comes to atheism, there’s never going to be any motivation we need to look at. Those people are just looking at the facts.

    Again, dealing with motives is a way to not deal with data.

    I can’t think of any other way to say this. As long as you use a double standard for the relevance of motivation, your argument is not credible. End of story.

    Neither do I. Of course, you all have no problem trusting wikipedia even though you don’t know who wrote that or what their motivation was, but hey, it keeps us from having to read real books and do real research.

    Nick, this is bordering on insulting again. I’m really sorry that I don’t take the time to type out every word of a concept when there’s a perfectly good quote — sometimes from Wikipedia — that accurately represents the facts of the matter. Unless you’re prepared to suggest that Wikipedia is always wrong, then I’m not going to take this seriously. A lot of my information comes straight from the University library down the street from my house, or from reputable peer review journals. Some of it comes from popular science books. As these journals are usually not published free online, I do not have the ability or permission to cut and paste from them. So when Wiki or some other online source has a suitable quote, I cut and paste it.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 27, 2010, 3:54 pm
  115. @hamby

    Well, Nick, you didn’t make an argument. You just stated an opinion about its relevance without justifying that opinion.

    Actually, I did. I stated the fact that in ancient societies, children were seen as means to produce income and a family was stronger if they had more sons helping them. Do you think this is inaccurate? Why or why not?

    I also stated that the text says the child was a glutton and a drunkard. Do you think that there are many six year-olds and such who are like that? Why or why not?

    I also stated that this was a last resort. Do you believe that’s accurate? Why or why not?

    You see, usually, when someone presents a challenging opinion, it’s good to give reasons why you think that’s false. Unless, of course, you just don’t have the resources to interact due to infamiliarity with the ANE. IN that case, you go on writing about it anyway. After all, who needs to study the field to know about it. Right?

    Most of my readers know the difference between an objection and an argument, so I didn’t feel the need to point it out every time you did it. That would take quite a lot of my time.

    It looks instead like most of them prefer wiki or google, which tells me that scholarly debate is not part of the mainstream.

    By “scholarly community,” you must mean “Christian apologist community.” Because nobody outside of the Christian community takes the resurrection seriously as a historical event.

    No. I mean the scholarly community. Even scholars who disagree with the resurrection don’t think that the scholars who agree with it are to be written off. Instead, they interact with their views. That’s the way things go in the scholarly community.

    Also, there’s a reason non-Christians don’t believe in the resurrection. If they believed in it, they would be Christians. You might as well say “I’d like to find some scholarly theists in the philosophical community who argue that there is no God” or “I’d like to find some scholarly atheists in the same community who argue that there is a God.”

    The difference is, in the scholarly community, the arguments center around data.

    We’re talking about the resurrection. I don’t care if there was a dude named (or given the title) Jesus. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t. I’m not a Jesus-mythicist. Again, the resurrection is only taken seriously by Christians. (How many times am I going to repeat this argument before you address it?)

    I’m talking about the Christ myth not being taken seriously by NT scholarship. Furthermore, not believing something is not the same as not taking it seriously. I don’t believe Islam, but when I study Islam, I take it seriously. I don’t believe Mormonism, but I seriously studied Mormonism.

    The data says that humans do not recover from brain death.

    Naturally? I agree. Guess what! So did the ancient world! They had a practice of burying their dead because when someone died, they just figured that person was staying dead.

    The argument assumes that no outside agents can intervene. That’s not a scientific position however or even a historical one. That’s a philosophical one.

    In billions of recorded, medically supervised deaths, not a single instance of coming back from brain death. (I hope you aren’t going to confuse brain death and clinical death, are you?)

    Not at all and nor would I except that people would come back. This is simply the fallacy of accident. The Christian apologist community even agrees that once someone is brain-dead, they’re dead.

    Anecdotal stories of people becoming believers is interesting, but I think you’ll find (as in the case of Francis Collins) that when we get down to nuts and bolts, there are psychological motivations involved in these conversions — you know… because it’s humans we’re talking about.

    Psssh. I don’t care about personal testimonies. They’re the most useless form of evangelism that there is. I care about the data.

    That’s why we don’t rely on authors or scientists, but the data (as you correctly pointed out). And the data says humans don’t come back from the dead.

    They don’t naturally come back. That’s not what I’m arguing however.

    Well, that’s where we’re at loggerheads. You ascribe motivation to non-believers. (You did it, what… yesterday?) By suggesting that non-Christians don’t want to believe you’re appealing to motivation.

    No. I was turning your own argument on you. You said some want to believe. I said some don’t want to believe. I don’t deny people have motivations for their beliefs and some people have bad motivations. I deny that the motivation is where to look. You want to make a big deal about motivations. I don’t care about them a bit.

    Then you deny the same bias’s relevance for your own “scholars.”

    Yes. Scholars like Crossan and Ludemann are clearly in the conservative Christian camp.

    We’re talking about the resurrection. Everyone except for Christian apologists believe that the evidence points to the resurrection as a myth.

    Everyone except non-theists believes the non-existence of God is false. Here’s the deal. The only ones who believe in the resurrection are Christians because that is what a Christian is. (Granted Pinchas Lapides as a possible exception)

    (Please don’t be a jerk and pull out one Buddhist or something inane like that. “Everyone” refers to “virtually everyone.”)

    Which I know.

    I can’t think of any other way to say this. As long as you use a double standard for the relevance of motivation, your argument is not credible. End of story.

    I don’t. I accept data from all positions.

    Nick, this is bordering on insulting again.

    And this said after you start a blog post mentioning me at the very beginning. Heh. Doesn’t offend me. I took it as a compliment. That’s something you can do when you’re not emotionally invested in an argument.

    I’m really sorry that I don’t take the time to type out every word of a concept when there’s a perfectly good quote — sometimes from Wikipedia — that accurately represents the facts of the matter. Unless you’re prepared to suggest that Wikipedia is always wrong, then I’m not going to take this seriously.

    What matters more to me is the research method.

    A lot of my information comes straight from the University library down the street from my house, or from reputable peer review journals. Some of it comes from popular science books. As these journals are usually not published free online, I do not have the ability or permission to cut and paste from them. So when Wiki or some other online source has a suitable quote, I cut and paste it.

    I haven’t seen any references to scholarly material. Maybe you will some day. Instead, I just know that there are constant links to Wiki.

    I give the same treatment by the way to Christians who use bad research and Wiki that I do to atheists.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 4:30 pm
  116. @darth obvious, and my point was that no one has anu idea what websites or sources I used (exceptin google to find them and wikipedia to vet the accepted positions), yet because they disagree with the content they are immediately dismissed as unreliable and not reputable. That is biased, obviously. Its nit a double standard, as im nit trying to prove anything. Im just pointing out that plenty of people find the “evidence” that has been presented less than convincing. And using goofle to find lots of sources saying so.

    Posted by alex hardman | October 27, 2010, 4:36 pm
  117. Alex wrote: “I’m the one who’s got hurt feelings?”
    That is the first step. Admitting you have a problem.

    Alex wrote: “That entire post was nothing but vitriol because we don’t agree with you,”
    False. Logic, reason and evidence are not vitriol. I suggest you remove your head from your backside or invest in a see-through abdomen.

    Alex wrote: “and you haven’t got anything substantial to use to change our minds.”
    Asserted, but not shown. I have provided multiple pieces of evidence that refute your fairy tale belief system. You have provided no evidence whatsoever. Damn, snap, pwned.

    Alex wrote: “You somehow believe that your woo (Christianity) is somehow more provable than their woo (Scientology). Glad to know. When you can prove it, be sure to claim the multitude of million dollar prizes floating around for proving it. There’s even a few for disproving FSM is actually God.”
    Already has been done. Of course, backward thinking fundamentalist anti-intellectuals such as yourself don’t accept valid evidence if it contradicts your pre-determined a priori held delusional fairy tale beliefs.

    Alex wrote: “Now, since you can’t be bothered to actually read what’s been said, or write anything resembling intelligent conversation, I’ll just be ignoring you.”
    This coming from the moron who has ignored all the evidence that I have provided that contradicts and refutes his quixotic self-delusions. Isn’t it amazing how often delusional spastics such as yourself develop super tunnel vision and then try and pass it off as if the other person is doing it.

    Alex wrote: “You’ll of course take this as some sort of victory,”
    Seeing as you are incapable of refuting anything I or anybody else have said, yes. You are incapable of providing any sort of evidence that backs anything you have said, and I have produced multiple pieces of evidence that refute your position. That means you lose, dum-dum.

    Alex wrote: “while the rest of the intelligent people in the room sadly realize how right they are to disbelieve your claptrap.”
    Sorry, but the only intelligent people here are, so far, Nick and myself. I’m sorry to see that you have such a blind and irrational hatred of people smarter and more educated than yourself.

    Alex wrote: “I’m sorry you refuse to see anyone else’s point of view.”
    I can see your point of view. I can see that it is false. Knowledge isn’t a democracy. We don’t have to pay credence to derelicts such as yourself, who posit all and any wild fantasy theories rather than change their beliefs in the face of evidence.

    Alex wrote: “It’s probably because you have your head so far up this position’s ass that it’s hard to see anything else.”
    No, it is because I am acquainted with the facts. You are not. Quite simple, really. It is sad you are unable to grasp the simple concept of providing evidence for your claims.

    Alex wrote: “That’s the number one failure in most science books, being convinced of the truth.”
    Ah, so your are an opponent of knowledge know. Nice save. I take it that means I have to toss all of my science books in the bin then, seeing as they are convinced of the truth contained within the books. No, the number one way to fail at science is believing in something before evaluating evidence and then keeping on believing in it even when the evidence contradicts it. Something you would be quite familiar with.

    In fact, it is almost if you are incapable of understanding things that contradict your pre-held beliefs.

    Alex: “What evidence do you have for x?”
    Intelligent person: “We have these.”
    Alex: “Where, behind those large books and reputable scholars?”
    Intelligent person: “The large books and reputable ARE the evidence.”
    Alex: “The evidence has the same name as these large books and reputable scholars? That’s a disturbing coincidence.”
    Intelligent person: “No no, listen to me. These large books contain primary sources, and evaluations of these sources. The scholars analysed the primary sources and wrote these books to explain the evidence.”
    Alex: “But what is the evidence?”
    Intelligent person: “These large books and reputable scholars!”
    Alex: “See, I can hear your speaking words, but its like they match up in a way that doesn’t make any sense. Did you have a stroke?”
    Intelligent person: “These large books and reputable scholars CONTAIN the evidence!”
    Alex: “That’s what I’m talking about, where are they?”
    Intelligent person: “Right here!”
    Alex: “So… they’re invisible?”
    Intelligent person 2: “I don’t think he’s physically capable of understanding what it is you’re telling him.”

    I find it incredibly how often atheists toss aside logic, reason, evidence and critical thinking whenever it comes to things that disprove their beliefs. LM is a prime example of this.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 27, 2010, 4:59 pm
  118. Nick wrote:

    There are criteria that are set forth for an ancient text to gauge authenticity in its conduct. Do you know any of them?

    In Criteria for Authenticity In Historical Jesus-research, by Stanley E. Porter, the author asks, “The major question here is whether any of these functions…is sufficient for determination of authenticity in an ancient text. Unlike with a modern text, the firm points of comparison in the context of culture for an ancient text are few and far between.” (p. 217)

    Something is either historical or not historical.

    On the contrary! I beg to differ with you very strongly on that point, sir. Something can be partly historical and partly mythical, as is the case with the Iliad. As is the case with the sutras detailing the life and ministry of the Buddha.

    Narratives like these exist in a twilight between myth and history. The border between our map of the known world, and the blank space where we write “Here be dragons.”

    Note how all manner of fantastic imaginings parade through the domain of myth, and how they are entirely absent once we enter the domain of history, and begin to require evidence of claims beyond the whims of fantasy.

    In the case of the New Testament, we are able to authenticate some of the mundane facts of the narrative–this religious leader lived, he died–but none of the miraculous claims. It should be obvious based on this that what is historical is the mundane, and what is mythical is the miraculous.

    The Romans and Greeks would quickly give up their Bacchic rites with ritualistic sex to join a community where sexual abstinence was practiced.

    I imagine there had to be a few who weren’t getting invited to the ritualistic sex rites.

    This really is a silly line of reasoning; anybody with actual involvement in the modern hedonistic orgy scene will tell you that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Plenty of people get disenchanted and leave it, and not all of them do it for religion.

    Consider that we didn’t become the dominate species on this planet by means of our libido, and being a wild sex-happy slut is far from intellectually satisfying.

    if it was just universal appeal, they would do the same they would do with any other story. “Hey! I like that story! I’m just not going to commit my life to this guy!”

    Ah, but this is the Greatest Story Ever Told. And the passionate evangelists telling it aren’t presenting it as a story. They’re claiming that it’s the gospel truth.

    This is the evolution of the monomyth into something that is alleged to be real and can give you eternal life. And it contains an enlightened ethical philosophy.

    I don’t think you understand the power of the good story. People’s lives were changed by The Lord of the Rings; and despite the fact that it is explicitly presented as fiction, and you can trace the author’s development of it, some folks (http://www.prlog.org/10019185-is-the-lord-of-the-rings-real-history.html) even go so far as to say that it’s real.

    You’re reading your own modernist worldview into it.

    I’m reading human nature into it. I can’t believe you really insist that your generalities apply to every single person in the Mediterranean, two thousand years ago. That’s almost as presumptuous as claiming to make coherent statements about the origin of existence.

    We instead state what we have. Which scholarship do you have that shows the context group to be wrong?

    How about the entire field of modern psychology, post-cognitive revolution? Just because these people lived two-thousand years ago doesn’t mean we can reduce every single one of them to obeying a few simple prejudices.

    All or nothing would throw out all of ancient history. It’d also throw out more recent events such as the sinking of the Titanic.

    I was talking about the Christians who insist that we accept all of the Bible, or we’re heretics. I appreciate your position far more, and despite being in sharp disagreement with you on so many points, I wish more Christians shared your views. Arguing with them is like banging your head on a wall of Bibles.

    Posted by Ian | October 27, 2010, 5:07 pm
  119. Messed up my tags again! Crap!

    Posted by Ian | October 27, 2010, 5:10 pm
  120. Alex wrote: “and my point was that no one has any idea what websites or sources I used (except google to find them and wikipedia to get the accepted positions), yet because they disagree with the content they are immediately dismissed as unreliable and not reputable.”
    Sorry, but if the information that you got was reputable and scholarly, you would name the sources/scholars so we could check it up outselves. The simple truth is that you just searched for stuff that confirmed your pre-held fairy tales, facts and scholarly standards be damned.

    Alex wrote: “That is biased, obviously.”
    No, it’s calling you out for your BS.

    Alex wrote: “Its not a double standard, as I’m not trying to prove anything.”
    Lies, lies from tiny eyes.

    Alex wrote: “I’m just pointing out that plenty of people find the “evidence” that has been presented less than convincing. And using google to find lots of sources saying so.”
    Yet they are plenty that find the evidence the convincing, and so become Christians. Duh. Why would an atheist who found the evidence for Christianity convincing remain an atheist? I have read a large number of reasons people have for not believing Christianity to be true, and they are all total crap.

    Post note: I took the opportunity to correct your hideous spelling errors. Boy have we gotten you riled up now!

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 27, 2010, 5:14 pm
  121. @ Alex

    These people are all fans of Holding. In case you don’t know this character, take a look at http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/03/few-links-about-james-p-holding.html?showComment=1236866340000#c3226383601793805984. You’ll understand where all this nonsense is coming from.

    Posted by LM | October 27, 2010, 5:17 pm
  122. @Ian

    In Criteria for Authenticity In Historical Jesus-research, by Stanley E. Porter, the author asks, “The major question here is whether any of these functions…is sufficient for determination of authenticity in an ancient text. Unlike with a modern text, the firm points of comparison in the context of culture for an ancient text are few and far between.” (p. 217)

    Dude. You’re not even discussing the accuracy of the content. We’re not talking about the accuracy of the translation. Whether the NT text is reliable or not is one thing. It could be entirely accurate in translation and entirely false in content.

    On the contrary! I beg to differ with you very strongly on that point, sir. Something can be partly historical and partly mythical, as is the case with the Iliad. As is the case with the sutras detailing the life and ministry of the Buddha.

    And which parts are historical? The parts that happened. Which parts are not? The ones that didn’t happen. It’s not an all-or-nothing game.

    Narratives like these exist in a twilight between myth and history. The border between our map of the known world, and the blank space where we write “Here be dragons.”

    Law of Excluded Middle. Something is either historical or not. We may not know if it is, but we know it’s one or the other.

    Note how all manner of fantastic imaginings parade through the domain of myth, and how they are entirely absent once we enter the domain of history, and begin to require evidence of claims beyond the whims of fantasy.

    Notice how I take claims on a case by case basis. I don’t throw out all miracles on an a priori basis. Of course, it’s easy to say all miraculous events are ahistorical if you come looking at them in advance saying “All miraculous events are ahistorical.”

    In the case of the New Testament, we are able to authenticate some of the mundane facts of the narrative–this religious leader lived, he died–but none of the miraculous claims. It should be obvious based on this that what is historical is the mundane, and what is mythical is the miraculous.

    That’s not determined by the history alone but by a priori objections. How is it known miracles never happened in history? Well because they never do. But here’s a claim of one! Well we know it’s false. How? Because miracles never happened.

    I imagine there had to be a few who weren’t getting invited to the ritualistic sex rites.

    Oh please. There was prostitution every where. It’s been said of Corinth that the great miracle was that there was even a church there since the city was so famous for prostitution.

    That’s not even counting all the other social stigmas.

    This really is a silly line of reasoning; anybody with actual involvement in the modern hedonistic orgy scene will tell you that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Plenty of people get disenchanted and leave it, and not all of them do it for religion.

    We’re not talking about the moderns silly. We’re talking about the ancients.

    Consider that we didn’t become the dominate species on this planet by means of our libido, and being a wild sex-happy slut is far from intellectually satisfying.

    Nor does being in those rites mean one is ipso facto a slut. The rites had very specific purposes and were seen as worship. Do you want to deny that sexuality is a powerful motivator for behavior in an environment?

    Ah, but this is the Greatest Story Ever Told. And the passionate evangelists telling it aren’t presenting it as a story. They’re claiming that it’s the gospel truth.

    To which someone could say the exact same thing.

    But hey, they’re presenting it as history. Hmmmm. One wonders why if they thought it was a myth. Could it be they really thought it happened?

    This is the evolution of the monomyth into something that is alleged to be real and can give you eternal life. And it contains an enlightened ethical philosophy.

    And like anyone could today, could be dismissed. Yet several people willingly believed a system that would put them in the target lens of the Roman Empire.

    I don’t think you understand the power of the good story. People’s lives were changed by The Lord of the Rings; and despite the fact that it is explicitly presented as fiction, and you can trace the author’s development of it, some folks (http://www.prlog.org/10019185-is-the-lord-of-the-rings-real-history.html) even go so far as to say that it’s real.

    I know several diehard LOTR fans. I know of no one who believes it’s real. I know that there are billions throughout time who have believed in the reality of Christ’s resurrection.

    Again, this isn’t about the power of a story. No one in the ancient world changed allegiance willy-nilly. You didn’t switch your patron for no reason.

    I’m reading human nature into it. I can’t believe you really insist that your generalities apply to every single person in the Mediterranean, two thousand years ago.

    I’m not. I’m studying the work of the context group. Maybe you should read some Pilch and Malina or other scholars in the context group and find out how ancient society was.

    That’s almost as presumptuous as claiming to make coherent statements about the origin of existence.

    What’s preposterous is assuming the rest of the world thinks like modern Americans. Our individualistic culture is the minority.

    How about the entire field of modern psychology, post-cognitive revolution? Just because these people lived two-thousand years ago doesn’t mean we can reduce every single one of them to obeying a few simple prejudices.

    Yes. Who cares what the scholars say about history. Let’s see what is said about modern humanity and assume they were just like us. Again, let me know when you have historical scholarship.

    I was talking about the Christians who insist that we accept all of the Bible, or we’re heretics. I appreciate your position far more, and despite being in sharp disagreement with you on so many points, I wish more Christians shared your views. Arguing with them is like banging your head on a wall of Bibles.

    I support inerrancy, but it is not an essential for salvation and I will not presume the Bible is inerrant in arguing with someone who thinks otherwise.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 5:20 pm
  123. I love how LM, incapable of providing any evidence or rational justification for his BS views, resorts to character assassination… yet, even more ironically, relies on John Loftus, one of the most notorious pathological liars alive. Good to see the beating we gave you on TWeb is still smarting. Not only are you obsessively leaving 1 star reviews on Holding’s books that don’t deal with anything in the book whatsoever, as well as repeatedly make false baseless assertions over and over again in threads all over TWeb, but you have to stalk TWeb members here too. Stil repeating the same lies and false baseless assertions. True to your typical style of ignoring all contradictory evidence, and repeating the same arguments over and over again, facts and logic be damned.

    Posted by Rational Gaze | October 27, 2010, 5:45 pm
  124. @LM, thank you for pointing out the repeated nature of these idiots. I see now what I’m dealing with, and am glad I’ve disengaged from the more retarded segment.

    I wonder how much evidence it would take for me to believe in the resurrection of this guy? How about any physical piece of evidence supporting the claims made about Jesus. Sort of like how we can find archeological evidence to support the evidence of Alexander the Great’s life, but none for Jesus’s.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 27, 2010, 6:08 pm
  125. Nick wrote:

    You’re not even discussing the accuracy of the content.

    I’m trying to go outside of scholarship methods used specifically for the Bible. As a skeptic, I’m concerned that theologians might invent criteria which they know the texts can meet simply to make their case look stronger, i.e., the Jesus Seminar using “Trust in God” as a criteria to judge authenticity.

    Would that be an example of the criteria you’re talking about? If not, then say what you mean.

    Law of Excluded Middle. Something is either historical or not.

    Is Troy historical or not? If we agree that it is, then is the fall of Troy historical or not? Obviously, it fell at some point. Does that mean it fell to a ruse devised by the crafty Odysseus?

    As the Iliad contains both myth and history, the work as a whole is neither one nor the other, but a mixture of both. It’s a type of narrative that exists in the past, in the twilight between myth and history, and in the present, when the folk tales of developing nations get caught in the twilight that precedes modern society.

    I don’t throw out all miracles on an a priori basis.

    Neither do I. I just think it’s strange that the only evidence we have for the existence of miracles is eyewitness testimony. If eyewitness testimony was the only evidence we had for Faraday’s law, then I wouldn’t believe in that either.

    As far as I know, there’s nothing to prevent a miracle from happening under reasonable experimental conditions. When it does, then perhaps I’ll be more credulous regarding the claims of these ancient texts. Until then, excuse me if I don’t go leaping to believe in the resurrection just because you have a preponderance of explanation for your few sources.

    We’re not talking about the moderns silly. We’re talking about the ancients.

    Actually, we’re not talking about either one. We’re talking about humans. Homo sapiens. I propose that we were the same then as we are now, and if we find the story spreads well today, we shouldn’t be astonished to find that it did two thousand years ago. Unless the Corinthians were the one culture in history immune to the charm of the Gospels?

    Do you want to deny that sexuality is a powerful motivator for behavior in an environment?

    You’re treating it as the only motivator.

    Could it be they really thought it happened?

    Paul didn’t see the resurrection, and we don’t know how reliable his source was. Likewise with the authors of the gospels. That they thought it happened isn’t very compelling evidence for the claim that a dead man came back to life.

    I know several diehard LOTR fans. I know of no one who believes it’s real.

    Follow the link. Read it. Done yet? ‘Kay. Now you do know of some who believe it’s real.

    Again, this isn’t about the power of a story. No one in the ancient world changed allegiance willy-nilly. You didn’t switch your patron for no reason.

    This is about the power of a story, however that might be inconvenient to your case.

    What’s preposterous is assuming the rest of the world thinks like modern Americans.

    We’re talking about the study of the human mind, across all cultures, not just America. What you’ve done is narrow your criteria for judging the behavior of early Christians down to a very narrow generalization, while ignoring the possibility that not every member of the culture going to be equally defined by it, and also that there is no reason to make culture the only factor which determines their behavior.

    Well, no reason that doesn’t involve protecting your belief from serious scrutiny.

    Posted by Ian | October 27, 2010, 7:45 pm
  126. @Ian

    I’m trying to go outside of scholarship methods used specifically for the Bible. As a skeptic, I’m concerned that theologians might invent criteria which they know the texts can meet simply to make their case look stronger, i.e., the Jesus Seminar using “Trust in God” as a criteria to judge authenticity.

    The Jesus Seminar actually used color beads and voted on things. Furthermore, to say you’re going outside of scholarship is saying you’re going outside peer-reviewed methods. Do you have a better method than the ones the scholars use to determine if an event is historical? If so, please state it. The scholarly world wants to know.

    Would that be an example of the criteria you’re talking about? If not, then say what you mean.

    No. I’m asking if you know the criteria used to determine if an event recorded in the text is deemed to be historical or not. Do you or do you not know? Yes or no?

    Is Troy historical or not? If we agree that it is, then is the fall of Troy historical or not? Obviously, it fell at some point. Does that mean it fell to a ruse devised by the crafty Odysseus?

    If it existed, it is historical. If it fell, it fell. That does not mean that the account in the Iliad has to be entirely true. It’s not an all-or-nothing game. When historians look at accounts, they can take some aspect of it as historical and some as non-historical.

    This is in fact the mistake Frank Zindler makes. He thinks he sees one mistake in a gospel for instance and then says we can throw out that whole gospel. No historian would do that.

    As the Iliad contains both myth and history, the work as a whole is neither one nor the other, but a mixture of both. It’s a type of narrative that exists in the past, in the twilight between myth and history, and in the present, when the folk tales of developing nations get caught in the twilight that precedes modern society.

    Here’s the question. Do you really think Homer wrote the Iliad to be a historical account? NT scholarship today says the gospels were written to be historical narrative. That doesn’t mean that scholars think all that is in them is historical, but that that is the genre they were written in. They are to be seen as biographies.

    Neither do I. I just think it’s strange that the only evidence we have for the existence of miracles is eyewitness testimony. If eyewitness testimony was the only evidence we had for Faraday’s law, then I wouldn’t believe in that either.

    Not much difference. We have people watching the universe and seeing that X happens repeatedly and formulating a law. Furthermore, the resurrection itself does not have eyewitness testimony. What has eyewitness testimony is the tomb was found empty and also that the disciples claimed to have eyewitness testimony of the risen Christ. (Note that I am not saying they had eyewitness testimony but they claimed to. The disciples claiming to have seen the risen Christ is a historical event. The question is if they did or not.)

    As far as I know, there’s nothing to prevent a miracle from happening under reasonable experimental conditions. When it does, then perhaps I’ll be more credulous regarding the claims of these ancient texts. Until then, excuse me if I don’t go leaping to believe in the resurrection just because you have a preponderance of explanation for your few sources.

    Why should a miracle happen under those conditions? Personally, I will gladly admit that I claim no eyewitness testimony to any miracle. I have heard claims of course and some from credible sources that make them believable, but I also treat them skeptically. To say “We have not seen a miracle today” is not an argument against a miracle in the past. Each claim must be studied on a case by case basis.

    Actually, we’re not talking about either one. We’re talking about humans. Homo sapiens. I propose that we were the same then as we are now, and if we find the story spreads well today, we shouldn’t be astonished to find that it did two thousand years ago. Unless the Corinthians were the one culture in history immune to the charm of the Gospels?

    We’re the same ontologically, but we’re not the same as to how we relate to society as a whole. Agonistic societies are quite different from ours. Again, my main point has not been dealt with. The people of the past could have just said “It’s a good story.” They could have liked it as a story. They would not have committed their lives to it however.

    And in fact, it’s quite likely that they wouldn’t since no one would follow a crucified “Messiah.”

    And yes, I do recognize Carrier’s argument here.

    You’re treating it as the only motivator.

    False. I’ve in fact listed five different factors that make it that the Christian faith would not spread and in fact listed them to you. I have not seen a response.

    Paul didn’t see the resurrection, and we don’t know how reliable his source was.

    Actually, I never claimed he saw the resurrection. No one did. What is claimed is that we have a source dating early to the events and it was part of oral tradition as well meaning that the Corinthians recognized it. It would have been part of the early Christian kerygma.

    Embellishments to accounts normally happen after the eyewitnesses had died in the ancient world. This account however is within a year of the event, which is hardly time for embellishment.

    Likewise with the authors of the gospels. That they thought it happened isn’t very compelling evidence for the claim that a dead man came back to life.

    I don’t even need the gospels at this point. They’re irrelevant to me to demonstrating that Christ rose from the dead.

    Follow the link. Read it. Done yet? ‘Kay. Now you do know of some who believe it’s real.

    Apples and oranges. Someone who writes a theory compared to several people of high intelligence who do believe something and actually put forward arguments for it.

    This is about the power of a story, however that might be inconvenient to your case.

    Again, no one in the ancient world changed their patron for just a story. It was a more monumental change than it is in modern society.

    Of course, if you’d read anything about agonistic societies, you’d know that.

    We’re talking about the study of the human mind, across all cultures, not just America. What you’ve done is narrow your criteria for judging the behavior of early Christians down to a very narrow generalization, while ignoring the possibility that not every member of the culture going to be equally defined by it, and also that there is no reason to make culture the only factor which determines their behavior.

    No. I’m simply going by what the scholarship says. If anyone went against the patronage system, they had nothing else to turn to. They would have been quickly ostracized.

    Well, no reason that doesn’t involve protecting your belief from serious scrutiny.

    Just scholarship, something the Christ-myth school lost sight of a long time ago.

    Posted by apologianick | October 27, 2010, 9:35 pm
  127. hambydammit wrote: “Again, the resurrection is only taken seriously by Christians. (How many times am I going to repeat this argument before you address it?)”

    I don’t understand why you think this is such a great argument. Christians believe in the resurrection, so your argument isn’t much different from this statement:
    “Again, the resurrection is only taken seriously by people who believe in the resurrection.”

    Assuming that the resurrection did occur, I wouldn’t expect a lot of people to make statements like “Yeah, I think the evidence shows that Jesus rose from the dead, but I’m still not a Christian.”

    Posted by Steve007 | October 28, 2010, 12:57 am
  128. @Steve, that’s a huge jump logically. To assume that people who decided to believe in the resurrection would automatically accept that the rest of the story is true.

    Assuming that it did occur, a lot of people would require some evidence for a claim that strong, and any evidence likely to persuade them is going to take some scientific form. From that, many would likely incorporate it into a pre-existing world view (i.e. my God did it, not this other mystery God, which explains the worship of Jesus by those outside Christianity).

    The simple truth is that the evidence for the resurrection is weak, at best. Nothing close to what would be required of the same claim made today. Nothing even resembling enough to consider seriously. However, because it supports the entire world view of Christians, it is accepted as fact by everyone with that world view and then attempted to be justified by everything they do from that point forward.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 3:50 am
  129. Nick wrote:

    to say you’re going outside of scholarship is saying you’re going outside peer-reviewed methods.

    What I said was: I’m trying to go outside of scholarship methods used —>specifically for the Bible<— As a skeptic, I’m concerned that theologians might invent criteria which they know the texts can meet simply to make their case look stronger.

    I’m asking if you know the criteria used to determine if an event recorded in the text is deemed to be historical or not. Do you or do you not know?

    Embarrassment, multiple attestation, ancientness, cultural congruency, linguistic criteria, and author’s agenda? That what you’re looking for?

    These tools aim to establish probability. Dr. James F. McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, states that, “They are guides indicating usual tendencies and trajectories in developing traditions. They are statements about what is normally the case, all other things being equal.”

    This is far from an assurance of historical fact.

    I’ve in fact listed five different factors that make it that the Christian faith would not spread and in fact listed them to you. I have not seen a response.

    1. A polytheistic people would not have adopted monotheism.

    This is an example of a falsifiable hypothesis. Okay, so you have reason to believe that they would not; the next step is to test the hypothesis.

    Guess what? It fails. Polytheistic peoples have converted to monotheistic religions on many occasions, in the case of both Christianity and Islam.

    2. Shameful figure

    All the more easy to identify with for the disenfranchised.

    3. Resurrection not honored at the time

    There is no claim that the vast, vast majority of converts witnessed a resurrection. By your logic, even if it did happen, the tale of it wouldn’t have been well received.

    4. Prudery of new religion

    Already covered that.

    5. Christians shamed in the marketplace

    Oppression can have the opposite of the intended effect, particularly when the oppressive authority is not well liked.

    This account however is within a year of the event, which is hardly time for embellishment.

    I thought I Corinthians was dated to around 55 AD? What’s your source dated to within a year of the event?

    If anyone went against the patronage system, they had nothing else to turn to. They would have been quickly ostracized.

    Well obviously they did go against it, and not because they all witnessed a miracle. I think you need to abandon your simplistic reduction of their behavior to cultural bias in favor of a more nuanced understanding of human nature.

    Posted by Ian | October 28, 2010, 6:24 am
  130. Alex Said: “@darth obvious, and my point was that no one has anu idea what websites or sources I used (exceptin google to find them and wikipedia to vet the accepted positions), yet because they disagree with the content they are immediately dismissed as unreliable and not reputable. ”

    Might be a good idea to let people know what sources you are using then. Might it. If you write something for University then they won’t let you use wiki, nor would they let you away with not even naming your sources. Your professor would give you a good ticking off for that. That exactly the kind of thing we are saying. We would like you to:

    1) Name the sources you use.

    2) Use credible sources from credible experts

    Alex Said: “That is biased, obviously. Its nit a double standard, as im nit trying to prove anything. Im just pointing out that plenty of people find the “evidence” that has been presented less than convincing. And using goofle to find lots of sources saying so.”

    Oh right, so you’re arguing “plenty of people agree with me, therefore I’m right” are you?

    Sorry thats a logical fallacy called appeal to popularity. I trust you can use wiki to find a definition for that can you?

    Come on, I thought you you guys were supossed to be logical.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 28, 2010, 8:12 am
  131. LM Said: “@Alex

    These people are all fans of Holding. In case you don’t know this character, take a look at http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/03/few-links-about-james-p-holding.html?showComment=1236866340000#c3226383601793805984. You’ll understand where all this nonsense is coming from.”

    Character Assassination?

    Oh that’s also a logical fallacy. Yep, nothing like a logical discussion with some people over the internet.

    You do realize that JP Holding has his own article on John Loftus and how dishonest he is, don’t you?

    I have personal experience with John Loftus myself and as far as I can tell the man is a serial liar. I didn’t need JPH to tell me that. I worked that one out for myself.

    Not to mention that I know a few atheists, agnostics or deists who don’t think too highly of the guy. Heck, the guy who owns the counter blog to Loftus’ is a deist and is no Christian. His blog is called Debunking Crap.

    All you need to do is check what Harry McCall (Although Harry McCall himself is no angel) said about Loftus to see what he is like. Harry McCall used to be a colleague of John’s who wrote articles for him but he got sick of John using him all the time, because that is what John Loftus is, he is a user, a liar, a manipulator and lets not forget about his adulterous past. He has made no attempt to make amends for any of this. If you read his website, all he cares about is selling his book, that’s all he wants to do and he does it as an obsession.

    John’s past is well documented in these links.

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/loftus01.html

    http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=97534

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 28, 2010, 8:29 am
  132. @Darth Obvious, again, you’re missing the point. I’m not arguing that we’re right. I’m arguing that you might not be correct. There’s a distinct difference. I don’t have to prove anything, other than that there are reasonable alternatives to your theory that are not addressed by your evidence, or that your evidence presents a weak case.

    How many times does it take for you guys to see that point?

    I’m not writing a paper to prove something didn’t occur. That would be impossible. There is no plausible way to prove that the resurrection did not occur. Prove fairies don’t exist, or unicorns, or the FSM. It’s not possible.

    Is that simple enough for you or are you going to continue expecting us to do the impossible just to doubt your fairy tales?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 9:29 am
  133. @Ian

    What I said was: I’m trying to go outside of scholarship methods used —>specifically for the Bible<— As a skeptic, I’m concerned that theologians might invent criteria which they know the texts can meet simply to make their case look stronger.

    Of course. Theologians like Ludemann or Crossan or Borg or Bultmann, etc. You do know there are several historians in the field who are non-Christians. Right?

    To say you’re stepping outside of their methods is to automatically assume that any scholarship in the field is dishonest and can’t be trusted.

    Odd position to take where you distrust all scholarship.

    Embarrassment, multiple attestation, ancientness, cultural congruency, linguistic criteria, and author’s agenda? That what you’re looking for?

    Those would be some of them. Yes. When historians review the gospels, that’s what they look for. Outside attestation also helps, such as non-Christian testimony, ECF testimony, and archaeological findings.

    These tools aim to establish probability. Dr. James F. McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, states that, “They are guides indicating usual tendencies and trajectories in developing traditions. They are statements about what is normally the case, all other things being equal.”

    This is far from an assurance of historical fact.

    You’re assuming history is like science. It isn’t. We can repeatedly test science in a lab. We can’t do the same with history. Are you absolutely certain that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492? How would you know? Could you prove it in a lab? Not at all. That doesn’t mean you go with historical relativism.

    This is an example of a falsifiable hypothesis. Okay, so you have reason to believe that they would not; the next step is to test the hypothesis.

    Guess what? It fails. Polytheistic peoples have converted to monotheistic religions on many occasions, in the case of both Christianity and Islam.

    This might be a valid argument if that was what I had said. I didn’t. Of course people switched from polytheism to monotheism, but Christian monotheism was dangerous to one’s health. The Romans tolerated the Jews. They “tolerated” them. However, all others were supposed to give acknowledgment to Caesar and view him as Lord. The Christians denied this. They said Jesus was Lord putting them in the line of fire of the Roman Empire.

    With Islam, the situation doesn’t apply. Being with Muhammad who was a brilliant military leader could merit one wealth and women when a caravan came through. It was also a convincing argument when Islam spread by the sword with a “convert or die” attitude.

    2. Shameful figure

    All the more easy to identify with for the disenfranchised.

    Even if that was true, it would not explain why they’d commit their lives to someone. They’d say it was a good story just like we do. To say “I believe in Jesus” would be akin to saying “I do” today at a wedding.

    To identify with him was also more than to relate to him. It was to take his identity as yours. It was to say “See that man on the cross up there? I want to be seen as him!”

    3. Resurrection not honored at the time

    There is no claim that the vast, vast majority of converts witnessed a resurrection. By your logic, even if it did happen, the tale of it wouldn’t have been well received.

    That’s not my claim. My claim is that the world at the time scoffed at resurrection. This is demonstrated very well by N.T. Wright in “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”

    4. Prudery of new religion

    Already covered that.

    No. Not at all. Christianity took on a view in a pagan environment totally contrary. So someone can take a religion that is acceptable by the Roman Empire and has ritualistic sex or one with strong abstinence that will get one prepared to be thrown to the lions.

    Decisions, decisions….

    Oppression can have the opposite of the intended effect, particularly when the oppressive authority is not well liked.

    And you’re assuming that this is just like American society. This would mean being cut off from friends and family. It would mean not being able to buy goods in the marketplace. This would mean being ostracized, which by the way was used as a punishment in Greece. Do you know what shame meant to an ANE person?

    I thought I Corinthians was dated to around 55 AD? What’s your source dated to within a year of the event?

    Which is why you need to pay attention to the scholarly data. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 is dated earlier. Paul is passing on something that he has received, the language of oral tradition. You can check with the non-Christian NT scholars on when the material dates to and it is within at most 3 years of the resurrection even. James Dunn even places it within a few months.

    Well obviously they did go against it, and not because they all witnessed a miracle. I think you need to abandon your simplistic reduction of their behavior to cultural bias in favor of a more nuanced understanding of human nature.

    No. They didn’t go against it. In fact, Christianity included the patronage system. It was the way the world worked. Do you even know what the patronage system was?

    I also never said that all converts saw a miracle. That would be ludicrous.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 10:23 am
  134. Nick wrote :”Yes. When historians review the gospels, that’s what they look for. Outside attestation also helps, such as non-Christian testimony, ECF testimony, and archaeological findings.”

    Which archaeological findings do you have for you to base your proof of Jesus’ resurrection?

    Posted by LM | October 28, 2010, 11:21 am
  135. @Nick, kindly provide some non-theologian scholars who corroborate these dates, as I’m unable to find any. I’m not even able to find a theologian who dates it as you do. Most sources I can locate place it between 53-57 CE, as stated by Ian.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:24 am
  136. @LM

    Which archaeological findings do you have for you to base your proof of Jesus’ resurrection?

    Note that I spoke of authenticity of accounts and not of events. We seek to see if an account is reliable and then look at the events in that account.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 11:40 am
  137. @Alex

    ick, kindly provide some non-theologian scholars who corroborate these dates, as I’m unable to find any. I’m not even able to find a theologian who dates it as you do. Most sources I can locate place it between 53-57 CE, as stated by Ian.

    Which demonstrates to me that you all haven’t done your background homework. No one is talking about 1 Corinthians itself. We’re talking about a part of 1 Corinthians. That’s the creed found in 1 Cor. 15:3-7. It’s an oral tradition that dates to within a few years of the resurrection event.

    Who are some scholars that are non-Christians that say this?

    Start with scholars like Gerd Ludemann and then Funk and the Jesus Seminar.

    Have you really ever done any research on this passage? (Remember, research means reading books. Not a google search.)

    This also tells me you’re not familiar with the counter-arguments out there. Actual study would help.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 11:45 am
  138. @Nick, so that’s another way of not answering the question? I’m going to go with “I don’t have any” as my interpretation. Proof otherwise?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:46 am
  139. @Nick, I’m sorry you don’t think using is a valid research tool. Again, you’re an idiot for thinking this, but that’s more than your right. Unless you’re prepared to say that I can’t find any sources you trust via Google, which is easily disproven.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:47 am
  140. That should say “think using Google is a valid” in the sentence above.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:48 am
  141. @Alex

    Nick, so that’s another way of not answering the question? I’m going to go with “I don’t have any” as my interpretation. Proof otherwise?

    If you mean LM’s assertion, I’ll gladly point to archaeological findings that confirm the NT.

    But his question is akin to asking “What archaeological evidence is there that Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered.”?

    If you meant my reply to you, then look up the writers I recommended first.

    That will of course require you visit a library.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 11:48 am
  142. @Alex

    Nick, I’m sorry you don’t think using is a valid research tool. Again, you’re an idiot for thinking this, but that’s more than your right. Unless you’re prepared to say that I can’t find any sources you trust via Google, which is easily disproven.

    Yes. Heaven forbid you actually read a book sometime. You might actually learn something that way.

    The best information is found in books. Wanting to just use google tells me you’re lazy.

    And yeah, it’s the idiot who prefers to get information from books written by people with credentials.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 11:51 am
  143. @Nick, it’s the idiots who believe that only information found in books is by credentialed people. Oh, and that somehow, books can’t be found online to be read.

    You keep referring to books as if they are magical things that make the information in them foolproof. If the information in them was so truthful, why can’t you point to some links where they’ve been published online? Oh wait, publishing things online means that the audience for criticism gets infinitely larger, and we wouldn’t want your precious point of view to have to put up with that, now would we?

    Heaven forbid you have to learn something new, like using a computer for real research. I mean, it can’t be done. Only books contain truthful information.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:55 am
  144. @Alex

    You keep referring to books as if they are magical things that make the information in them foolproof. If the information in them was so truthful, why can’t you point to some links where they’ve been published online? Oh wait, publishing things online means that the audience for criticism gets infinitely larger, and we wouldn’t want your precious point of view to have to put up with that, now would we?

    Nope. Books aren’t foolproof, but they’re more reliable. Authors review books and not web sites. Scholars review books and not web sites. The reason you don’t find everything on the net is because authors don’t put their books on there unless there’s some gain for them. Most of them would like their books bought.

    Heaven forbid you have to learn something new, like using a computer for real research. I mean, it can’t be done. Only books contain truthful information.

    Books are the best source for information. Google is for basic purposes but it’s not the end-all. Try turning in a research paper using only google and see what the professor says.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 11:58 am
  145. @Nick, the archeological evidence in question is in reference to the resurrection. If it happened, there’s a site where it happened. Where’s the tomb? It’s a valid question, and you’re dodging it. If all you have are a few eyewitness statements and hearsay, then it’s still a story.

    There’s archeological evidence for Columbus crossing the ocean. There’s archeological evidence for the existence of Alexander the Great. Same for Ceasar. Find me some for Jesus (ideally for his resurrection, but some for him existing at all would do for me).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 11:59 am
  146. @Nick, again, you’re comparing Google to a book, when Google is akin to the index system you use at the library. Try turning in a research paper using only the index at the library and see what the professor says. See how asinine that sounds?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 12:02 pm
  147. @Alex

    *Yawn*

    Go over to Israel. They’ll show you the tomb of Jesus. To expect archaeology showing the resurrection is nonsense however. It’s like asking for archaeological evidence that Caesar said “I came. I saw. I conquered.”

    However, there is archaeological evidence for the NT showing that it is tied to historical events and places and that the authors were sure to make sure their references were correct. I am not claiming archaeology for an event. That would be silly. I am claiming it for an account.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 12:02 pm
  148. @Alex

    I’m turning in a paper referencing books.

    You turn in one referencing just web sites and see what your professor says.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 12:04 pm
  149. LM:Which archaeological findings do you have for you to base your proof of Jesus’ resurrection?

    NICK responded: “Note that I spoke of authenticity of accounts and not of events. We seek to see if an account is reliable and then look at the events in that account.”

    So you can trace certain accounts to a certain historical date. So what? I’m interested in your proof about the claim that Jesus resurrected. Can you stop beating around the bush, and tell us what proof do you have of this extraordinary events, and saying that those who claimed to have witnessed it were willing to die for it doesn’t cut muster?

    Posted by LM | October 28, 2010, 12:05 pm
  150. @LM

    So you can trace certain accounts to a certain historical date. So what? I’m interested in your proof about the claim that Jesus resurrected. Can you stop beating around the bush, and tell us what proof do you have of this extraordinary events, and saying that those who claimed to have witnessed it were willing to die for it doesn’t cut muster?

    In other words, can you give any evidence other than, oh, the evidence? Sorry. I’ve given what I have to you and Ian and Alex and Hamby. I’m waiting for a refutation.

    Actually, I’m more waiting to see if there’s some inkling anyone here is actually familiar with the arguments. So far, it’s coming up no. (Anyone who affirms the Christ-myth and doubts his existence is in no position to talk about ancient history)

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 12:07 pm
  151. @Nick, If Ceasar said “I came. I saw. I conquered” in some historically recorded setting. I would expect to be able to find that location and do an archeological survey of the site and corroborate said account. Do the same for Jesus’s resurrection.

    p.s. I can go to Israel and see it. I can go to India and see it. I can go to Egypt and see it. Which one is the real one? Some serious archeological investigations might be required there (of course, the few that have been done are all controversial at this point).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 12:15 pm
  152. @Nick, it’s been done. Are you seriously claiming there’s no value to any website? That they are all useless? Are you really that dim?

    You have admitted to knowing that books can be found online, and constantly claim to be a scholar, so you do realize that when you cite a source, you don’t actually reference the specific physical book, but instead the ISBN number, which could just as easily be done via the web.

    I’m sorry if this is difficult for you to grasp, but information on the web and information in books is the same. You distrust sources found online, that’s your right, but not scholarly at all.

    If you have no information that is easily accessible to prove your point, you’re done here, as you can’t prove anything to anyone as no one can lookup anything you’re saying. Oh wait, unless they find the specific books you’re using (which you’re not quoting and citing either, so how would we know?).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 12:19 pm
  153. @Nick:

    In other words, can you give any evidence other than, oh, the evidence? Sorry. I’ve given what I have to you and Ian and Alex and Hamby. I’m waiting for a refutation.

    Actually, I’m more waiting to see if there’s some inkling anyone here is actually familiar with the arguments. So far, it’s coming up no. (Anyone who affirms the Christ-myth and doubts his existence is in no position to talk about ancient history)

    So you’re basically saying that you have no strong evidence other than a few eyewitness testimonies (that are suspect accounts and may or may not be true) and hearsay.

    Everything you’ve presented so far, amounts to that. And there’s no refutation needed to disbelieve an astronomically unlikely thing occurred based on such weak evidence.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 12:22 pm
  154. LM: So you can trace certain accounts to a certain historical date. So what? I’m interested in your proof about the claim that Jesus resurrected. Can you stop beating around the bush, and tell us what proof do you have of this extraordinary events, and saying that those who claimed to have witnessed it were willing to die for it doesn’t cut muster?

    Nick wrote: “In other words, can you give any evidence other than, oh, the evidence? Sorry. I’ve given what I have to you and Ian and Alex and Hamby. I’m waiting for a refutation.”

    I can’t refute the gospels since they are just hearsay. You win.

    Posted by LM | October 28, 2010, 1:04 pm
  155. Why is this about whether or not Jebus died or not?

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 28, 2010, 2:31 pm
  156. Why is this about whether or not Jebus died or not?

    Looks to me like it keeps getting deflected to Jesus existence or his death, both of which seem absolutely irrelevant to me. I’m still waiting for a reasonable explanation of why anyone would believe that someone came back from the dead based on dubious eyewitness testimony from 2000 years ago. Hell, I’d like to know why anyone would believe it if there was an absolutely clear original scroll from the same year it was supposed to have happened.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 28, 2010, 2:37 pm
  157. I can’t refute the gospels since they are just hearsay. You win.

    That’s the upshot of it, isn’t it? These folks believed — for whatever reason — that one particular ancient text is definitely true because… um…

    Actually, I haven’t seen anything other than claims of lots of evidence, but evidence for a man’s existence isn’t evidence that he came back from the dead, and that’s what this all hinges on. Who cares if Jesus lived? And what kind of sadistic god would insist that someone base their entire eternal existence on heresay? That’s awful!

    Posted by hambydammit | October 28, 2010, 2:40 pm
  158. @Hamby: “And what kind of sadistic god would insist that someone base their entire eternal existence on heresay? That’s awful!”

    And that’s why the idiotic, God is source for all morality, is asinine and actually pretty scary. If God is the source for all morality, we’ve really be misunderstanding the definition of “moral”. At least if someone this incapable of making himself understood is in charge.

    I’m gonna go with the Multiple Gods Theory, in which case our best defense against them (the obviously petty warring gods) is to stop believing in them (which seems to be the thing they want the most).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 3:08 pm
  159. That is the scary thing: if you accept that God exists then anything goes. Take for example the argument I heard lately from none other than Habermas: if you believe in God, then the Jesus resurrection is a possibility. My reaction to that is, why stop there? Perhaps God made Alexander the Great a demi-god, as it has been claimed, or Hitler’s mission to annihilate the Jews was from God, or the 500 witnesses that Paul claimed in his epistles to have seen the risen Christ was God’s made-up hallucination, or God ordered those guys to fly airplanes into buildings… basically any claim made in the name of God are possible once you go that road.

    Posted by LM | October 28, 2010, 3:26 pm
  160. Alex wrote: “Steve, that’s a huge jump logically. To assume that people who decided to believe in the resurrection would automatically accept that the rest of the story is true.”

    One doesn’t have to think that everything in the rest of the story is true. I don’t see how it’s a huge leap to believe that Jesus performed other miracles and made radical claims about himself that are true.

    Alex wrote: “Assuming that it did occur, a lot of people would require some evidence for a claim that strong, and any evidence likely to persuade them is going to take some scientific form. From that, many would likely incorporate it into a pre-existing world view (i.e. my God did it, not this other mystery God, which explains the worship of Jesus by those outside Christianity).”

    If you think this is true, then I’m not sure how you would explain the rise of Christianity.

    Alex wrote: “The simple truth is that the evidence for the resurrection is weak, at best. Nothing close to what would be required of the same claim made today. Nothing even resembling enough to consider seriously. However, because it supports the entire world view of Christians, it is accepted as fact by everyone with that world view and then attempted to be justified by everything they do from that point forward.”

    You’re just giving your opinion here. I think the evidence for the resurrection is very strong, and there are Christians that are Christians because they think the evidence for the resurrection (and for Christianity) is very strong.

    The evidence for the resurrection is actually not that difficult to believe. Claims like “Jesus was crucified,” and “There was an empty tomb” are very ordinary claims. There is nothing spectacular about them at all. Even if you believe the claim that the disciples thought they saw the risen Jesus, it doens’t mean you must believe in miracles or anything like that.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 28, 2010, 3:27 pm
  161. LM: That’s basically the whole point of the original post (which seems to have gotten lost in a maelstrom of arguments over Jesus existence and resurrection). It’s not that everyone will use the argument to justify atrocity, but for those who would, it’s a perfect justification. Irrefutable, untestable, and ultimately subjective.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 28, 2010, 3:29 pm
  162. Well, seeing as the other dissenters didn’t have anything to do with the topic, I might as well jump back in.

    LM, I find the “If God exists than anything goes” argument as convincing as the theist’s “If God doesn’t exist anything goes”.

    It’s the same [absurd] argument dressed up differently. For one it’s “If God exists, then I can get on his good side and do whatever I want and get away with it because your no longer accountable for your deeds” for the other it’s “If God doesn’t exist than you can do whatever you want and get away with it because you’re no longer accountable for your deeds.”

    As for the question of whether we would be better off without religion, due to recent discussions on the RRS board I have to ask what’s wrong with saying “I don’t know”? Why do we have to come up with these shaky arguments [that are often are 180s of Theists arguments]?

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 28, 2010, 3:43 pm
  163. @Alex

    So you’re basically saying that you have no strong evidence other than a few eyewitness testimonies (that are suspect accounts and may or may not be true) and hearsay.

    False. I gave the scholarly view of the facts agreed upon about what happened. I gave the social sciences evidence of why Christianity would not have survived. There is also the eyewitness testimony. Scholars take it seriously.

    Everything you’ve presented so far, amounts to that. And there’s no refutation needed to disbelieve an astronomically unlikely thing occurred based on such weak evidence.

    You haven’t dealt with what I’ve presented and you don’t know how historians do historiography.

    p.s. I can go to Israel and see it. I can go to India and see it. I can go to Egypt and see it. Which one is the real one? Some serious archeological investigations might be required there (of course, the few that have been done are all controversial at this point).

    Please reference the scholar who thinks Jesus’s tomb is in India or Egypt.

    You have admitted to knowing that books can be found online, and constantly claim to be a scholar, so you do realize that when you cite a source, you don’t actually reference the specific physical book, but instead the ISBN number, which could just as easily be done via the web.

    Show me where I claim to be a scholar. Also, some books can be found online, but not all.

    Also, when I do cite a source, yes, I do in fact cite the actual book.

    I see you also said this:

    @Nick, I’m having trouble finding any of these scholars who date 1 Cor. to within a few years of the death of Jesus. I’m finding plenty of sources that date it according to what Ian said. And those dates are for the writing of the letters themselves, not the collection as put together in the bible.

    Yes, I started with Wikipedia. If it’s so wrong, why don’t you go fix it and cite your source? As the dates in it are cited from this source: http://catholic-resources.org/, ala Fr. Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D. – Director of Biblical Education, Loyola Institute for Spirituality, Orange. Is he credentialed enough for you? Also, I could cite other sources, but as you’ll summarily dismiss them all, what’s the point.

    Let’s go back and see what I said!

    I actually said:

    Which demonstrates to me that you all haven’t done your background homework. No one is talking about 1 Corinthians itself. We’re talking about a part of 1 Corinthians. That’s the creed found in 1 Cor. 15:3-7. It’s an oral tradition that dates to within a few years of the resurrection event.

    Note that specifically. “No one is talking about 1 Cor. itself.” That means, no one is discussing the dating of 1 Corinthians. Within 53-57 A.D. is correct. What is being discussed is the origins of material that shows up in 1 Cor., namely the early church creed found in verses 3-7.

    You can check Ludemann. You can check Funk and the Jesus Seminary. I’ll be glad to give you other references or where specifically to find them if need be, though they are in those darn things called books again that actually make you have to get up to do research. Ludemann dates the material to within two years of Jesus. Funk and the Seminary to 2 to 3 years. Someone like James Dunn places it at just a few months after the event.

    Posted by apologianick | October 28, 2010, 4:24 pm
  164. I’m sorry, but the theist’s “If God doesn’t exist anything goes” argument is both valid and pointless. Yes, without their God, moral judgements are up to us, and yes someone could decide to do whatever they wanted, but we’d be in the same boat we’re in now in that case (dealing the with the consequences of our behavior as a society). Which makes it pointless as nothing has changed if God does or does not exist with regards to the ramifications for our earthly lives (which is the only one we get as far as anyone can prove).

    The flip side however is both on point and valid. With God’s permission (determined by me, untestable and unquestionable by anyone) I can do whatever I want and be completely justified. I can convince anyone stupid enough to believe in the authority of my God that I’m on the right side, and thus convince them to do things they would otherwise not be willing to do.

    Are we able to say for 100% certain the world would be better without religion, no. But I’m not 100% convinced of anything, so I’d rather do without the scientifically nonexistence “benefits” (charity and whatnot, which science has shown exists without and independent of religion) and hope that we’re better off (as the evidence points to strongly).

    That the evidence points so strongly is likely the reason behind the growth in non-theist of all types.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 5:40 pm
  165. @Steve, your points are again simply repeats without logical proof. Even proving that Jesus existed, and came back from the dead does not prove “God did it, and he was the son of God, and performed many miracles”. Each and every claim has to be proven, or it all falls apart as the wildly exponential number of other possibilities, none of which can be disproven any more than the “God” answer can, begs us for other explanations.

    Christianity rose due to it’s popularity. I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess as to why so many people would believe what was the only explanation for all the horrible things happening to them in the pre-modern era. I mean, why do we see the religion phenomena worldwide in that case? Because people want explanations and those were the best they had (bad as they were).

    If Christianity were the “right” answer, it would be the only answer. Give science another few thousand years, and I seriously doubt there will exist religion of it’s current form outside of the most uneducated portions of humanity. That would be the ultimate conclusion of the current declining trends of religious belief in favor of scientific explanations.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 28, 2010, 5:50 pm
  166. Christianity rose due to it’s popularity. I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess as to why so many people would believe what was the only explanation for all the horrible things happening to them in the pre-modern era.

    Stay tuned. Either tomorrow or Saturday, I’m going to be publishing a book review here and on Secular News Daily. The author attempts to give an answer to this question based on the idea of meme evolution. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 28, 2010, 6:06 pm
  167. The flip side however is both on point and valid. With God’s permission (determined by me, untestable and unquestionable by anyone) I can do whatever I want and be completely justified. I can convince anyone stupid enough to believe in the authority of my God that I’m on the right side, and thus convince them to do things they would otherwise not be willing to do.

    How is religion unique again? Did the experimenter in the Milgram expirements say he was God? No, he didn’t need to.

    (charity and whatnot, which science has shown exists without and independent of religion)

    And science hasn’t shown that evil deeds exist without and independent of religion? It’s the same objection I brought up in my first comment. You are only applying the logic halfway.

    and hope that we’re better off (as the evidence points to strongly).

    The scientific method would like to have a word with you? Are we not as critical thinkers to have something proven true before we adopt it?

    Stay tuned. Either tomorrow or Saturday, I’m going to be publishing a book review here and on Secular News Daily. The author attempts to give an answer to this question based on the idea of meme evolution. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

    I’m dripping in anticipation.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 28, 2010, 8:40 pm
  168. @ cptpineapple

    You interpret my “anything goes” in terms of moral truth, and I agree with you that whether or not God exists, then anything is possible in regard to morality. However, I meant not only anything goes with moral truth but also anything goes with truth in general. I gave an example: if God exists then it is possible that Alexander the Great was a demi-god. We can extend that possibility to fairies, leprechauns, angels, demons, ghosts, fire-breathing dragons, etc. And why stop there, if God can snap his fingers and create out of nothing anything, then why believe in the conservation of matter/energy. This kind of thinking goes completely against the core of scientific enquiry.

    In regard to morality, we choose it because of our survival and well-being. At one point we chose to obey certain rules in order to live together in society. In the initial stage in primitive societies, morality only applied to members of the tribe, which is very similar to certain species, like wolfes. They live in pack and this is beneficial to their survival. Similarly for humans. Also those rules of code being applied only to the members of the tribe, it was permitted to kill humans belonging to other tribes, enslaving them, and in some instances, eat them. It was much later in our evolutionary thinking that we extend the rules of conduct to everyone, equally. Note that our moral code is still a work in progress, and much is needed to be done.

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 3:03 am
  169. Alex Said: “@Darth Obvious, again, you’re missing the point. I’m not arguing that we’re right. I’m arguing that you might not be correct. There’s a distinct difference. I don’t have to prove anything, other than that there are reasonable alternatives to your theory that are not addressed by your evidence, or that your evidence presents a weak case.”

    Your case is not reasonable, that is the point. Arguing the Christ myth theory would mean putting most of history in the bin just to meet your ridiculous subjective standards. We have more evidence for Jesus than we do for countless other figures, even Tiberius Caeser. To say Jesus didn’t exist would mean we would have to put countless other people in the bin too.

    Alex Said: “How many times does it take for you guys to see that point?”

    You’re the one missing the point. Why should we bin all of history and ruin a profession just to meet you ridiculous and ignorant standards? Because that is what you’re doing, you’re arguing from a position of ignorance, exactly the way that Young Earth Creationists do. In essence you are just the atheist version of a YEC. You don’t need to look at the evidence, not when you can fabricate and manufacture your own.

    Alex Said “I’m not writing a paper to prove something didn’t occur. That would be impossible. There is no plausible way to prove that the resurrection did not occur. Prove fairies don’t exist, or unicorns, or the FSM. It’s not possible.”

    Perhaps it’s not possible because it actually happened. Oh wait, you didn’t think about that did you?

    The fact you don’t have any evidence for your side of the bargain is very telling. Notice how you don’t have any documents from someone who knew Jesus and said “I knew this guy but he didn’t do those things”. Funny how you don’t have that, because if you did then perhaps that would back up your position. Or how about the fact that people were willing to change their indoctrinated Jewish beliefs to become Christians despite the fact that they would have been tortured, persecuted and executed for it. Or how about the fact that the existence of the Christian church is based entirely upon the resurrection and without a resurrection then there would be no need for the Christian church.

    The new testament talks about events that happened in real places. So enough of your fairies, flying spaghetti monsters and such, because you have plenty of people who say they don’t exist and have never seen them. You however lack anybody from the time of Jesus who says that Jesus didn’t exist or anybody who says that they knew Jesus but he was just a normal guy. You don’t have anybody who says this whatsoever. Even those who disagreed with Jesus never even hinted at his non-existence. Even Celsus, who doubts the miracle claims never even said this.

    Alex Said: “Is that simple enough for you or are you going to continue expecting us to do the impossible just to doubt your fairy tales?”

    Funny how you say above that you’re not trying to prove anything conclusive but then you have the audacity to call my beliefs “fairy tales”. This pretty much demonstrates how much of a liar you are. If you can’t prove that my beliefs didn’t happen then what confidence can you say that they are fairy tales? Can you answer me that one? Or is it because you are a liar and that you are actually arguing that Christianity is false as a certainty.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 29, 2010, 8:08 am
  170. cptpineapple Said: “Well, seeing as the other dissenters didn’t have anything to do with the topic, I might as well jump back in.

    LM, I find the “If God exists than anything goes” argument as convincing as the theist’s “If God doesn’t exist anything goes”.

    It’s the same [absurd] argument dressed up differently. For one it’s “If God exists, then I can get on his good side and do whatever I want and get away with it because your no longer accountable for your deeds” for the other it’s “If God doesn’t exist than you can do whatever you want and get away with it because you’re no longer accountable for your deeds.”
    —————————————————————————-

    You don’t understand Christian theology. I’m not surprised, because you’re arguing against something you have not studied. No offence, that’s just the way it is. If I was to start arguing against a subject I didn’t know anything about then I would most likely be wrong quite often as well.

    Christianity says that we are all bad people who have done bad deeds at some point. The idea is seeking forgiveness for these bad deeds through Jesus Christ but you have to be really sorry about it. You can’t just lie and then kid on you have a get out of jail free card. It requires regret but also a willingness to change, even if you do fail. In other words, you need to at least try.

    This offer is open for anybody who wants it, but you have to accept it. It doesn’t get forced upon you. You can not seek forgiveness through Jesus if you don’t even believe he exists. The same way that you don’t win the lottery unless you participate. In all essence, you need to buy a ticket.

    If God doesn’t exist then “bad deeds” quite simply don’t exist. No God means that people themselves get to deicde what is right or wrong and as a collective any form of majority opinion on the subject is just an argument by popularity which means that something isn’t really right or wrong, it’s just that a majority of people just don’t like it. Funnily enough, these beliefs get indoctrinated into you in just the same way that you argue against religion. Christianity on the other hand went against indoctrinated beliefs at the time, so it’s hard to explain why it become so popular.

    For instance, you perhaps don’t like Sharia law. You would probably protest that lashing someone just because they have a bit of alcohol is extreme.

    However those who practice sharia law think it’s justified and think it needs to be implemented as a punishment.

    Who’s right? Are you really going to argue that if God doesn’t exist then your subjective opinion on this matter is better than theirs? You can’t really argue that it’s better, can you? How do you prove something like that? science doesn’t prove moral truths, it’s scope is to discover imperical truths.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 29, 2010, 8:31 am
  171. Darth Ovious wrote: “Notice how you don’t have any documents from someone who knew Jesus and said “I knew this guy but he didn’t do those things””.

    The oldest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark stop at the empty tomb claim, there’s no Roman guards at the tomb, the women appear to be so frightened that according to the author of Mark they never told anyone. Yet in Matthew the narrative is radically changed. Why? I think these early Christians were facing hostile opposition by the Jews; and they countered those claims by embellishing the story. It doesn’t even make sense to think the Jewish priests could have know Jesus was expected to rise on the third day, since not even his disciples knew this. The idea that the disciples never understood what Jesus’ destiny was, is articulated throughout the gospels; so the idea of Jewish priests somehow gleaning this information (which forms the basis of their request for guards) is out of place. Without guards at the tomb, the only thing we’re left wondering is how hard is to roll a round rock? We really do have two competing claims. The Jews (who were after all the only people situated to substantiate these claims if they were true) or the disciples?

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 8:50 am
  172. @LM

    The oldest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark stop at the empty tomb claim,

    Agree entirely.

    there’s no Roman guards at the tomb, the women appear to be so frightened that according to the author of Mark they never told anyone.

    Mark is also a writer of awe. He likes to shorten things down and let the readers wonder about what happened. It’s his writing style. Commentaries on Mark will point this out.

    Yet in Matthew the narrative is radically changed. Why?

    Just a little thing like a different writer writing to a different audience for a different purpose. Mark is telling the story from Peter’s view as indicated by the Inclusio. (See Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”) Aside from Jesus who the readers know Mark is not getting the account directly from, Peter is the first and last major character mentioned. Mark is also writing to Hellenistic Jews and thus does not emphasize tradition as much.

    Matthew is likely writing from a city with a high Jewish influence, probably Antioch or Jerusalem, and is writing to very orthodox Jews who know tradition and to show them that Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecies. Naturally, since he’s writing to Jews of this caliber, they will be familiar with counter-arguments already circulating so he deals with those.

    I think these early Christians were facing hostile opposition by the Jews; and they countered those claims by embellishing the story.

    We also have the Nazareth decree indicating that theft of a body in the area was going to be punishable by death. Furthermore, what embellishment? If you have a resurrection, there’s not much need to embellish beyond that. There are verses in Mark that speak of the resurrection like Mark 9:9 and 14:28 which means a reader would know what happened at the end.

    It doesn’t even make sense to think the Jewish priests could have know Jesus was expected to rise on the third day, since not even his disciples knew this.

    Why not? The Jewish priests were the ones learned in the Scriptures and Jesus did speak openly about his claims in this regard. His disciples are hardly seen as the most understanding lot of all in Scripture.

    The idea that the disciples never understood what Jesus’ destiny was, is articulated throughout the gospels; so the idea of Jewish priests somehow gleaning this information (which forms the basis of their request for guards) is out of place.

    Why?

    Without guards at the tomb, the only thing we’re left wondering is how hard is to roll a round rock?

    Very hard. Rocks on tombs were rolled down to block a tomb. It would take much manpower to lift it back up. The rocks would normally weigh around a ton or so.

    We really do have two competing claims. The Jews (who were after all the only people situated to substantiate these claims if they were true) or the disciples?

    And notice there’s no denial of the Jews that the tomb was empty. There’s also no denial of the Jews in the Talmud that Jesus existed and even that he worked miracles.

    This last paragraph is an either/or dilemma anyway.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 10:21 am
  173. Darth Obvious said, “Perhaps it’s not possible because it actually happened. Oh wait, you didn’t think about that did you?”

    Actually I did think of that. I’m just sorry that you fail to understand how insane this sounds to someone who’s not a believer. Some hearsay accounts of a “miracle” are not enough for me to believe it happened.

    Darth also said, “We have more evidence for Jesus than we do for countless other figures, even Tiberius Caeser.”

    That’s funny since there are archeologists who have found real actual physical evidence to corroborate the stories believed true babout him. Where’s the same thing for Jesus? And again, I’m not arguing that Jesus didn’t exist or that the resurrection didn’t happen, just that the amount of evidence presented for the case that he came back from the dead, is less compelling than would be required for any non-religious similarly impossible task.

    You dismiss that you can’t disprove fairies, unicorns, of the FSM, but wonder why I dismiss your fairy tales? It’s because it’s the same thing. I don’t have to disprove it happened to disbelieve it. That’s the default position for extraordinary claims without extraordinary proof.

    As to the topic, Darth Obvious said, “Who’s right? Are you really going to argue that if God doesn’t exist then your subjective opinion on this matter is better than theirs? You can’t really argue that it’s better, can you? How do you prove something like that? science doesn’t prove moral truths, it’s scope is to discover imperical truths.”

    Yes actually we can. Science can easily tell us what actions produce what results, and through analysis we can determine what results are best for us, our friends and families, and ultimately our species and world. That’s actually what we do today, at least when we do it right. The rest of the time, some of us like to decide what we want to be best, and then use a magical fairy tale to justify why others should do as we say.

    That’s why there are so many variations on Christianity and every other religion out there, everyone wants to do things their own way and can just as easily prove their God (or interpretation of his holy words) is correct, and who can prove them wrong? That’s the problem with religion, and why it will always, no matter how much good it manages to do, have the ultimate potential for doing evil.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 10:25 am
  174. LM Said: “The oldest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark stop at the empty tomb claim, there’s no Roman guards at the tomb, the women appear to be so frightened that according to the author of Mark they never told anyone. Yet in Matthew the narrative is radically changed. Why? I think these early Christians were facing hostile opposition by the Jews; and they countered those claims by embellishing the story. It doesn’t even make sense to think the Jewish priests could have know Jesus was expected to rise on the third day, since not even his disciples knew this. The idea that the disciples never understood what Jesus’ destiny was, is articulated throughout the gospels; so the idea of Jewish priests somehow gleaning this information (which forms the basis of their request for guards) is out of place. Without guards at the tomb, the only thing we’re left wondering is how hard is to roll a round rock? We really do have two competing claims. The Jews (who were after all the only people situated to substantiate these claims if they were true) or the disciples?”
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    The oldest manuscripts finish at Mark 16:8, but your objection is quite unwarranted because they actually finish mid sentence. It’s unreasonable to assume that the author just finished his work without actually finishing what he was going to say. It would be akin to me finishing a sentence on the word “because”. This is actually evidence to suggest that the original had more to it than that.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | October 29, 2010, 10:30 am
  175. And why stop there, if God can snap his fingers and create out of nothing anything, then why believe in the conservation of matter/energy. This kind of thinking goes completely against the core of scientific enquiry.

    I’m not saying Christianity isn’t against the core of scientific enquiry, I was arguing against the statement that “anything goes” view of Christian morality.

    For you example with Alexander, I think you would be hard pressed to find Christians that believe that. In other words, the Christian’s own innate morality, determine what God’s morality is. To say that just because the Christian believes in God, therefore why not believe, that Hitler was a demi-god and should be followed, is a bit of a stretch.

    In regard to morality, we choose it because of our survival and well-being. At one point we chose to obey certain rules in order to live together in society. In the initial stage in primitive societies, morality only applied to members of the tribe, which is very similar to certain species, like wolfes. They live in pack and this is beneficial to their survival. Similarly for humans. Also those rules of code being applied only to the members of the tribe, it was permitted to kill humans belonging to other tribes, enslaving them, and in some instances, eat them. It was much later in our evolutionary thinking that we extend the rules of conduct to everyone, equally. Note that our moral code is still a work in progress, and much is needed to be done.

    I agree that we need more work on morality, but I don’t think getting rid of religion would do it.

    You don’t understand Christian theology.

    Yes, I do, I was a devout Christian until university

    If God doesn’t exist then “bad deeds” quite simply don’t exist. No God means that people themselves get to deicde what is right or wrong and as a collective any form of majority opinion on the subject is just an argument by popularity which means that something isn’t really right or wrong, it’s just that a majority of people just don’t like it.

    This also ignores innate morality. If I won’t let others ignore it, why would I let you?

    Any look into a social psychology book will reveal things like reciprical altruism and in group cohesion.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 29, 2010, 12:36 pm
  176. So you’re arguing that we wouldn’t be better off without religion? And you’re basing that on what positive output that we wouldn’t otherwise have?

    The contrary position is supported by the numerous people stomping on civil rights with “God” as their justification. We can’t argue with that reasoning. With any reality based reason we can argue, but with “God told me to hate you because you’re gay” you’re just stuck.

    Let’s take slavery.

    Name any reason for slavery and there are pretty simple justifications for not condoning the practice (it’s indirectly harmful to society and directly harmful to the enslaved people). This uses innate morality.

    Use “God says it’s acceptable” and you can’t argue with that if you accept that God is in charge of what’s morally right and wrong. This uses God’s morality.

    Religion directly promotes “God’s morality” and is thus bad for society and people. Removal of religion would cease this. Would this stop people from doing evil things, no but it would stop them from having this justification for them. That’s the point.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 1:33 pm
  177. @cptpineapple

    While I disagree with your conclusions, you seem quite reasonable. The old atheists would be pleased and you match them a whole lot more. I can respect the old atheists. The new atheists? Not a bit.

    @Alex.

    Alex. Are you aware there are ways theists arrive at moral arguments other than the voluntaristic approach of “X is right because God says it’s right?”

    Whenever I argue objective morality, I argue for God as the ontological basis but I don’t argue “X is right or wrong because God says it is right or wrong.” I determine what goodness is first and then find how that relates to God. I don’t use God to define goodness. That’s circular,

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 1:44 pm
  178. @ Nick

    So far, your arguments that Jesus existed is extremely very weak. But let’s take at face value there was some preacher that roamed around in Judea circa 30 CE on which the gospel is loosely based. OTOH the claim that he was resurrected is bogus. The main argument from christian theists to support this is that the eye witnesses were ready to die for their beliefs, and that is not even close to be any proof. People make up stories. Even when their stories are debunked, because they’ve given up everything for their faith, they need to believe even more and cling to them since they have nothing left but their beliefs. How many mormon predictions failed to be realized, and yet that hasn’t slowed the growth of that religion.

    Take Peter and Paul who were supposed to have died as martyrs. Their death is not reported until 2nd century, years after their supposed death under Nero. Even if we take that at face value, they most likely died at the hands of Nero’s henchmen, there’s no indication they had the opportunity to recant or professed their undying belief in Jesus– it’s far more likely they were captured and summarily executed. So to say they die for their belief is a stretch. More likely they were swept by the storm that was Nero’s wrath.

    But that took place in the 60’s CE. Paul’s conversion was circa 30’s CE. He had no idea then that in some odd 30 years later he would die as a martyr. So his willingness to die as a martyr is anything but well established. Is it possible? Sure, but the arguments supporting it are weak.

    Also, his departure from Jerusalem in order to preach and convert the gentiles seem to indicate that the early Christians had little success with the Jews. And this turned out to be good fortune for Christianity. Had Peter prevailed, and Paul willing to submit to Peter’s will and leadership, this nascent religion would have been confined to Judea, solely for the Jews, and we can surmise that its membership would have been extremely limited. History was on Paul’s side, obviously the church has always recognized the merit of Paul’s decision to trump Peter, even though the latter had been designated as Jesus successor.

    But going back to Paul’s departure and the likely resistance of the Jews to the new religion, this fits in the data that we see in the storyline being embellished by the manuscripts that are found in later years.

    The main issue with Paul is his apparent habit of embellishment. For instance, his arrival in Corinth, apparently alone, which is fleshed out by the circumstances, his entry into Corinth is relatively obscure, he takes a job as a tent maker, then Aquila and Pricilla take him to synagogue where the local Jewish community, recently expelled from Italy, rejects him, even trying to bring him up on charges. He does have success, when he takes his message to the streets, and built a small but viable community of converts, but then he leaves for Ephesus with only Aquila and Pricilla. The issue with this story is it seems obvious Paul didn’t have hundreds of witnesses in tow, who were available to substantiate his claims. It seems more likely he heard the claim elsewhere, or maybe he embellished due to missionary zeal or in an effort to fight off counter-claims; but the important thing is that it seems apparent witnesses are never produced, and ultimately claims of numerous witnesses are abandoned by the Gospel authors, who turn to polemic to discredit detractors and predispose their followers to reject Jewish objections before actually evaluating their claims on the merits.

    Then Paul’s reference to Gamaliel seems out of line with what we know about him. In Christian literature he’s depicted as a Pharisee, while in Jewish literature he’s described as a leading member of the Sanhedrin. There’s probably good reason to question both accounts, but there is some consistency between them. Gamaliel is always described as kind and tolerant, and never the sort of man who would inspire Paul’s alleged murderous campaign against Christians. It seems that Paul made some loose references that were never substantiated, contemporaneous to the time Paul made them.

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 1:56 pm
  179. @Nick, somehow I doubt you’re the type to go out voting against people’s rights to live as they please. You’re not the typical Christian, as you’ve been told repeatedly.

    And yes, I am aware that there are other ways. How many times do you have to be told that people shouldn’t have to spell everything out for you? It’s kind of insulting the way you constantly assume that no one knows what they’re talking about except you. I understand quite well what a diverse community Christians are, it just wasn’t actually relevant to the point I was making (as you quite well know, but changing the topic is nice).

    However, you’re missing the point (again). No matter what reasoning you use to determine your moral rules, if you believe God is the ultimate source of morality (however you define that), then ultimately what’s morally good or evil is up to God. That’s bad for humans (when someone decides God wants them to do evil things, how do you prove them wrong?).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 2:00 pm
  180. @Alex

    Nick, somehow I doubt you’re the type to go out voting against people’s rights to live as they please. You’re not the typical Christian, as you’ve been told repeatedly.

    I will if I find it violates with the Natural Law. I’m a strong advocate that marriage really is something for instance.

    And yes, I am aware that there are other ways. How many times do you have to be told that people shouldn’t have to spell everything out for you?

    I haven’t seen good research methods so far nor do I see much interest in real Christian theology.

    It’s kind of insulting the way you constantly assume that no one knows what they’re talking about except you.

    I don’t assume. I make judgments based on the evidence I have.

    I understand quite well what a diverse community Christians are, it just wasn’t actually relevant to the point I was making (as you quite well know, but changing the topic is nice).

    Nope. No way of knowing that and a history of interaction with the same mindset tells me to cover my bases.

    However, you’re missing the point (again).

    It would be a first.

    No matter what reasoning you use to determine your moral rules, if you believe God is the ultimate source of morality (however you define that), then ultimately what’s morally good or evil is up to God.

    That’s voluntarism. It’s not my position. It’s not my belief that God arbitrarily decides moral standards. I think they are what they are based on the substances that exist. It also seems like you’re saying “Whatever method you use and whatever morality is, it won’t work.” That’s a hasty generalization. Since you’re sure you’re right though, feel free to tell me how I arrive at morality and why it doesn’t work.

    That’s bad for humans (when someone decides God wants them to do evil things, how do you prove them wrong?).

    Natural Law theory. It’s what I’d always argue. I can question very much if God wants someone to do something based on his nature. It’s having a background of theology and philosophy first.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 2:09 pm
  181. @LM

    So far, your arguments that Jesus existed is extremely very weak.

    No. You’re just extremely dense. Again, go check with the scholarship. Most of them don’t even mention Christ-myth theories because they’re so weak and if they do, it’s usually relegated to a footnote.

    But let’s take at face value there was some preacher that roamed around in Judea circa 30 CE on which the gospel is loosely based.

    Yes. Let’s take history at face value.

    OTOH the claim that he was resurrected is bogus.

    A priori?

    The main argument from christian theists to support this is that the eye witnesses were ready to die for their beliefs, and that is not even close to be any proof. People make up stories. Even when their stories are debunked, because they’ve given up everything for their faith, they need to believe even more and cling to them since they have nothing left but their beliefs. How many mormon predictions failed to be realized, and yet that hasn’t slowed the growth of that religion.

    Actually, Mormonism isn’t a religion of making prophecies as much, although Smith certainly made some. You’re thinking of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, I’d argue that the Watchtower has much to gain, such as money and power and if the testimony of Franz, an ex-witness, is to be believed, sex.

    The apostles on the other hand had nothing to gain. First off, they were going against their Jewish heritage supposedly which would mean being cut off from the community of YHWH if they were wrong. They were willing to say the law no longer mattered for salvation, that the Sabbath was on a Sunday, and that the temple was unnecessary. Their beliefs change drastically, something that didn’t happen easily for the Jews.

    Also, we have no record of any of them ever recanting. We have record of the witnesses to the golden plates of Mormonism recanting however. We also have that they took the hardest route possible. First off, they preached a physical resurrection. A spiritual one would have worked just fine. Second, they did it in Jerusalem first, the very area where it’d be easiest to disprove their claims. Third, they were willing to defy the Roman Empire when they could have returned to Judaism and received toleration. They didn’t.

    Take Peter and Paul who were supposed to have died as martyrs. Their death is not reported until 2nd century, years after their supposed death under Nero. Even if we take that at face value, they most likely died at the hands of Nero’s henchmen, there’s no indication they had the opportunity to recant or professed their undying belief in Jesus– it’s far more likely they were captured and summarily executed.

    Actually, we have testimony of the early church fathers, such as Irenaeus who was given a sentence only to be carried out later. The Romans took time with this. They were incredibly accurate in their legal system. Paul would have been beheaded being a Roman citizen. Peter according to testimony was crucified upside-down. You’re stating they were just captured and executed without a trial. Evidence of this please?

    So to say they die for their belief is a stretch. More likely they were swept by the storm that was Nero’s wrath.

    Evidence?

    But that took place in the 60′s CE. Paul’s conversion was circa 30′s CE. He had no idea then that in some odd 30 years later he would die as a martyr. So his willingness to die as a martyr is anything but well established. Is it possible? Sure, but the arguments supporting it are weak.

    Actually, they’re again enough to convince NT historians. However, we do know that Paul wrote 2 Corinthians and in 2 Corinthians 11, he describes all he underwent. At any time, he could have recanted his faith, and he didn’t. Why would he be out there preaching if it got him what he got in 2 Corinthians 11?

    Also, his departure from Jerusalem in order to preach and convert the gentiles seem to indicate that the early Christians had little success with the Jews. And this turned out to be good fortune for Christianity. Had Peter prevailed, and Paul willing to submit to Peter’s will and leadership, this nascent religion would have been confined to Judea, solely for the Jews, and we can surmise that its membership would have been extremely limited. History was on Paul’s side, obviously the church has always recognized the merit of Paul’s decision to trump Peter, even though the latter had been designated as Jesus successor.

    Tubingen anyone? You do know E.P. Sanders put to death back in the 70’s I believe the idea that Paul hijacked Christianity. Right? Oh wait. Probably not.

    But going back to Paul’s departure and the likely resistance of the Jews to the new religion, this fits in the data that we see in the storyline being embellished by the manuscripts that are found in later years.

    Yes. Because if the Jews thought it was nonsense before, throwing in other miracles would certainly make them think it less likely nonsense. “We don’t believe he was raised. Wait. There was an earthquake?! Okay! We’ll convert!”

    The main issue with Paul is his apparent habit of embellishment. For instance, his arrival in Corinth, apparently alone, which is fleshed out by the circumstances, his entry into Corinth is relatively obscure, he takes a job as a tent maker, then Aquila and Pricilla take him to synagogue where the local Jewish community, recently expelled from Italy, rejects him, even trying to bring him up on charges. He does have success, when he takes his message to the streets, and built a small but viable community of converts, but then he leaves for Ephesus with only Aquila and Pricilla. The issue with this story is it seems obvious Paul didn’t have hundreds of witnesses in tow, who were available to substantiate his claims. It seems more likely he heard the claim elsewhere, or maybe he embellished due to missionary zeal or in an effort to fight off counter-claims; but the important thing is that it seems apparent witnesses are never produced, and ultimately claims of numerous witnesses are abandoned by the Gospel authors, who turn to polemic to discredit detractors and predispose their followers to reject Jewish objections before actually evaluating their claims on the merits.

    You do know no one claims that Paul had 500 witnesses with him on his missionary journey. Right? Oh wait. You don’t.

    You do know that I have stated numerous times that Paul is referring to a tradition of an event that happened back in Judea that dates to early on in the history of the church. Right? Oh wait. You don’t.

    You do realize Paul was not saying that all of those people could go to Corinth, but rather those people would have been known to the early church and could be found. Right? Oh wait. You don’t.

    Then Paul’s reference to Gamaliel seems out of line with what we know about him.

    Please tell me the earliest Jewish reference to Gamaliel.

    In Christian literature he’s depicted as a Pharisee, while in Jewish literature he’s described as a leading member of the Sanhedrin.

    Let’s see. What does Christian literature say?

    Acts 5:27

    Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.

    And then what do we read later on after the apostles defy them?

    33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.

    Hmmm. I’m not seeing any inconsistency. Maybe you should read Christian literature.

    There’s probably good reason to question both accounts, but there is some consistency between them. Gamaliel is always described as kind and tolerant, and never the sort of man who would inspire Paul’s alleged murderous campaign against Christians.

    No one is saying he did. What’s being said is that when Paul was learning Judaism, he learned under Gamaliel. Are you saying that everything a student does after class he does under the direct inspiration and request of his teacher?

    It seems that Paul made some loose references that were never substantiated, contemporaneous to the time Paul made them.

    Do you know what these words mean?

    “high-context society.”

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 2:25 pm
  182. @Nick, and we’re back to the primary problem of all religions. Exactly how can you prove you know the mind of God (his nature as you put it)?

    And again, continuing to be insulting won’t help prove any of your points, it actually makes it even harder to take you seriously (I didn’t think that was possible, but there it is).

    Nick: “That’s voluntarism. It’s not my position. It’s not my belief that God arbitrarily decides moral standards. I think they are what they are based on the substances that exist.”

    1) No one said God arbitrarily decided anything. Maybe try reading what was said instead of hearing what you want.
    2) What substances that exist are you referring to? I’m not able to understand the meaning behind this sentence.

    Nick, “It also seems like you’re saying “Whatever method you use and whatever morality is, it won’t work.” That’s a hasty generalization. Since you’re sure you’re right though, feel free to tell me how I arrive at morality and why it doesn’t work.”

    Perhaps you should read what I wrote instead of hearing what you want. Again, if you believe that morality begins with God, then what God determines to be good is good, and evil is evil. Not according to us, but according to God.

    Nick, “My basis for morality is God and if the Bible has errors in it, then oh well. ”

    What else do I need to say? Your basis for morality is God, thus if you decided that God wanted you to kill your child, it would be (in your mind) the right thing to do. Somehow, I doubt that would be good for the kid, at least here on earth (which again, without proof of “another place” is the only place that matters).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 2:38 pm
  183. @Alex

    Nick, and we’re back to the primary problem of all religions. Exactly how can you prove you know the mind of God (his nature as you put it)?

    While I do believe Scripture does present his nature well, I also believe philosophy is a great tool, it is the handmaiden that gets us to the queen. If someone doesn’t accept Scripture, I use philosophy. As Aquinas would say, it is based on the reasons and arguments of the philosophers themselves.

    And again, continuing to be insulting won’t help prove any of your points, it actually makes it even harder to take you seriously (I didn’t think that was possible, but there it is).

    The irony in this section is hysterical.

    1) No one said God arbitrarily decided anything. Maybe try reading what was said instead of hearing what you want.

    I just read this:

    No matter what reasoning you use to determine your moral rules, if you believe God is the ultimate source of morality (however you define that), then ultimately what’s morally good or evil is up to God.

    If you don’t mean arbitrary judgment by saying it’s up to God, then do tell what you meant.

    2) What substances that exist are you referring to? I’m not able to understand the meaning behind this sentence.

    All substances. It’s based on the philosophy that I use.

    Perhaps you should read what I wrote instead of hearing what you want. Again, if you believe that morality begins with God, then what God determines to be good is good, and evil is evil. Not according to us, but according to God.

    That is voluntarism.

    Note however that I say that God is the ontological basis for morality. He is not however the epistemological basis for morality. If that were the case, one would have to know God to know good and evil. I don’t believe that. I argue that the existence of morality relies on God but our subjective knowledge of it does not. All the difference in the world.

    Nick, “My basis for morality is God and if the Bible has errors in it, then oh well. ”

    I never said anything about the Bible having errors in it.

    What else do I need to say? Your basis for morality is God, thus if you decided that God wanted you to kill your child, it would be (in your mind) the right thing to do. Somehow, I doubt that would be good for the kid, at least here on earth (which again, without proof of “another place” is the only place that matters).

    False. I could know that wasn’t what God wanted by natural law thinking. God expects me to use my brain, even with supposed revelations from Him, and that would be something I’d be very cautious of since I have no way of hearing His voice nor do I believe he is subjectively guiding my decisions. I again use Natural Law theory.

    And once again, you haven’t told me how I arrive at my moral views. You’re confusing ontology with epistemology.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 2:45 pm
  184. So you’re arguing that we wouldn’t be better off without religion? And you’re basing that on what positive output that we wouldn’t otherwise have?

    Who says it has to have a positive output for me to make that statement?

    The contrary position is supported by the numerous people stomping on civil rights with “God” as their justification. We can’t argue with that reasoning. With any reality based reason we can argue, but with “God told me to hate you because you’re gay” you’re just stuck.

    Because arguing with reality based reason is so much easier, just consult your local 9/11 conspiricay theorist, or local UFO abductee.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 29, 2010, 3:04 pm
  185. @Nick, “If you don’t mean arbitrary judgment by saying it’s up to God, then do tell what you meant.”

    I didn’t realize God’s judgement was arbitrary. My mistake. In that case, then yes it arbitrary. If it is up to God what is right and wrong, then yes, it is completely arbitrary.

    Nick, “I never said anything about the Bible having errors in it.”.

    Actually that is exactly what you wrote above. Search the page for the line and you will find it in your comments above. Here specifically. However the portion regarding the bible was not why I copied that (I just do not like copying something someone said without the entire sentence I’m referring to). I was referring to your statement about God being the basis for your morality. I’m not sure how you wanted it taken, but to me that means you believe that what is right and wrong is according to God. Please enlighten me if I’m wrong here.

    Nick, “False. I could know that wasn’t what God wanted by natural law thinking. God expects me to use my brain, even with supposed revelations from Him, and that would be something I’d be very cautious of since I have no way of hearing His voice nor do I believe he is subjectively guiding my decisions. I again use Natural Law theory.”

    False. You could not know what God wanted anymore than anyone else could. Unless you think you can, and in which case whatever someone decided was what God wanted you’d have no way of disproving them. I’m glad you’d be cautious of a revelation, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re open to the concept as a method of finding truth (as evidenced by the fact that you’d be cautious whereas someone closed to the idea would simply disregard such a thing as insane).

    Nick, “And once again, you haven’t told me how I arrive at my moral views. You’re confusing ontology with epistemology.”

    I don’t actually care how you arrive at your moral views, as it’s not actually relevant. What is relevant is where you think they gain their authority and what you think the basis for them is (you’ve said that’s God, remember?).

    That’s the problem. With such a basis for your moral views, no one can question them with any rational arguments, as you can simply say “I’ve got a better understanding of God’s will than you, and thus I’m right”.

    And remember, as much as you’d like, this isn’t about you specifically, but about religion in general and it’s affinity for abuse of this type. That’s why it’s unimportant what you use to guide your moral reasonings, but about what can be, and quite frequently is, done by other theists.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 3:10 pm
  186. Nick wrote: “The apostles on the other hand had nothing to gain. First off, they were going against their Jewish heritage supposedly which would mean being cut off from the community of YHWH if they were wrong.”

    Your assertion is a jab in the dark. Jesus recruited the apostles, who knew very little of him when they first met him, and renounced everything to follow him. This has also been witnessed in modern times with new cult arising every year. It’s a farfetch argument that they gave up everything. Some had nothing to give up, being poor, or living on the fringe of that society; others went along for a number of other reasons. Analysing the psychological makeup of individuals is hard to do, even harder of those from a society 2000 yrs removed from us.

    Nick wrote: “Paul would have been beheaded being a Roman citizen. Peter according to testimony was crucified upside-down. You’re stating they were just captured and executed without a trial.”

    It’s more likely there were no trials. Nero wanted to dispel the rumours he had personally ordered the burning of Rome. He acted swiftly and unscrupulously by putting the blame on the Christians. Lengthy trials would have risked showing his machinations. He had absolutely no motivation for any sort of trials.

    Nick wrote:” Because if the Jews thought it was nonsense before, throwing in other miracles would certainly make them think it less likely nonsense. “We don’t believe he was raised. Wait. There was an earthquake?! Okay! We’ll convert!””

    Matthew is later. Due to Paul’s work, the emphasis was towards the gentiles( more of them to convert than the resisting Jews). Throwing a few embellishments to make the story more convincing, more appealing is not much of a stretch.

    Nick wrote:”What’s being said is that when Paul was learning Judaism, he learned under Gamaliel.Are you saying that everything a student does after class he does under the direct inspiration and request of his teacher?”

    That’s not the point. Gamaliel is portrayed as gentle. It throws a shadow that Paul having studied under him would have gone on persecuting the Christians as he has claimed to have done before his conversion. But that’s not only this factor that makes him a questionable character, it’s the whole claim of 500 witnesses. It could be from oral tradition or he just made it up, we will never know. But certainly, Paul traveled alone, or accompanied with one or two people. Those 500 witnesses were never there in his traveling, and consider that a journey that would take us several hours would take several days in those times, I doubt very much many took the time off to travel to Jerusalem and investigated if they were 500 witnesses. Putting it all those factors, we can reasdonably say that Paul was stretching the fairy tale, and he was not the only one. You can put Matthew in that same category with his earthquakes and dead people rising in the aftermath of the crucifixion.

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 3:11 pm
  187. @cptpineapple, The point isn’t that there aren’t other nutcases we’d have to deal with. It’s that without religion, there is one less.

    Without any positive output, we’re automatically better off without something that does cause negative ones.

    If I’m hurting you and I stop you’re better off. If I’m hurting you, but it’s keeping you alive, that’s another story.

    Religion is hurting society, but not helping it in any measurable way. Without it, that hurt would not be happening (yes there would still be other hurting, but not this hurting).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 3:13 pm
  188. While I disagree with your conclusions, you seem quite reasonable. The old atheists would be pleased and you match them a whole lot more. I can respect the old atheists. The new atheists? Not a bit.

    What’s an old atheist? What’s a new atheist?

    @cptpineapple, The point isn’t that there aren’t other nutcases we’d have to deal with. It’s that without religion, there is one less.

    I have yet to see evidence of this. What you’re using is circular logic. We know that religion causes atrocity is because we see religious people doing atrocious things and we know religion caused it because religion causes atrocity.

    Also, you seem to brush off non-religious atrocities. As I’ve said in my first comment, everybody seems reluctant to offer a coherent method to distinguish between a bad person, and a good person turned evil by evil religion.

    For example, if Enver Hoxha was Christian, what do you think atheists would say caused the atrocities in Albania? It seems that only when the nutjob wasn’t religious we see actual inquiry into the cause of the actions. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

    Isn’t it better to have moral religious people, than immoral non-religious people?

    I’m not saying I want people to be religious, but I would rather get to the root of the immoral behaviour, than try to get rid of religion and hope that works.

    I would rather have religion end because it’s wrong, not because people throw out critical thinking and think it’s something that it’s not.

    Posted by cptpineapple | October 29, 2010, 3:25 pm
  189. @LM

    Your assertion is a jab in the dark. Jesus recruited the apostles, who knew very little of him when they first met him, and renounced everything to follow him.

    Which also would have been common. Jewish teachers had disciples that followed them, usually recording their teachers. None of this meant going against the standards of the Jewish community. The disciples at their joining had no idea that they would be starting a movement that would cause them to forsake Jewish teachings as non-essential. Acts indicates it took about a decade for Peter to learn this.

    This has also been witnessed in modern times with new cult arising every year. It’s a farfetch argument that they gave up everything.

    Modern cults don’t compare to ancient societies. Cults work great in an individualistic society. Not as much in an agonistic one. In cults today, you do have a system of fellowship that comes in and an identity given and normally nothing left behind.

    Some had nothing to give up, being poor, or living on the fringe of that society;

    We’re talking about the disciples. Which of them were poor and living on the fringes of society? Also, to be part of the Jewish community meant for them being in covenant with YHWH, which was hardly nothing to them.

    others went along for a number of other reasons. Analysing the psychological makeup of individuals is hard to do, even harder of those from a society 2000 yrs removed from us.

    But it doesn’t stop you from trying because by golly, it has to be that!

    It’s more likely there were no trials. Nero wanted to dispel the rumours he had personally ordered the burning of Rome. He acted swiftly and unscrupulously by putting the blame on the Christians. Lengthy trials would have risked showing his machinations. He had absolutely no motivation for any sort of trials.

    What mechinations? Everyone already knew Nero was a tyrant. He was already unliked. This wouldn’t have changed by having trials. However, for legal records, trials would be had. Of course, this is the time you’re allowed to just make assertions and those should float.

    Matthew is later. Due to Paul’s work, the emphasis was towards the gentiles( more of them to convert than the resisting Jews). Throwing a few embellishments to make the story more convincing, more appealing is not much of a stretch.

    Except again this doesn’t answer the point. If the resurrection is not believed, embellishments would not make it more believable. In fact, they’d make it less believable. Also, Matthew was writing to orthodox Jews and not to Gentiles.

    That’s not the point. Gamaliel is portrayed as gentle. It throws a shadow that Paul having studied under him would have gone on persecuting the Christians as he has claimed to have done before his conversion.

    Because all students have the same personality type as their teachers….

    But that’s not only this factor that makes him a questionable character, it’s the whole claim of 500 witnesses. It could be from oral tradition or he just made it up, we will never know.

    Actually, we do know. It’s oral tradition. It’s put in a creedal form that’s easy to memorize and as the scholarship says, the creed dates to within the first few years of the early church, even according to non-Christian scholars.

    But certainly, Paul traveled alone, or accompanied with one or two people. Those 500 witnesses were never there in his traveling,

    I know of no Christian scholar, apologist, historian, or theologian who argues that they were.

    and consider that a journey that would take us several hours would take several days in those times, I doubt very much many took the time off to travel to Jerusalem and investigated if they were 500 witnesses.

    Who said they all remained in Jerusalem?

    Putting it all those factors, we can reasdonably say that Paul was stretching the fairy tale, and he was not the only one.

    Sure. We can just ignore all the scholarship of the text, knock down a straw man argument, and then claim our position is rational. You’ve done a great job of that so far.

    You can put Matthew in that same category with his earthquakes and dead people rising in the aftermath of the crucifixion.

    Because if they failed to believe in one resurrection, they’ll believe if we talk of several resurrections!

    Noted also you didn’t contest me on your saying Christian literature misrepresented Gamaliel or tell me where he is first mentioned in Jewish literature.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 3:30 pm
  190. @Alex

    I didn’t realize God’s judgement was arbitrary. My mistake. In that case, then yes it arbitrary. If it is up to God what is right and wrong, then yes, it is completely arbitrary.

    Which is voluntarism. It’s not my stance.

    Nick, “I never said anything about the Bible having errors in it.”.

    Actually that is exactly what you wrote above. Search the page for the line and you will find it in your comments above. Here specifically. However the portion regarding the bible was not why I copied that (I just do not like copying something someone said without the entire sentence I’m referring to).

    Very well. I had been looking at my reply to you and could not find where I had said such a thing. An errant Bible would not change my view on morality however.

    I was referring to your statement about God being the basis for your morality. I’m not sure how you wanted it taken, but to me that means you believe that what is right and wrong is according to God. Please enlighten me if I’m wrong here.

    Not at all. I’m saying the concepts of good and evil make no sense without a basis in God as God is necessary for an ontology of goodness. If there is no God, there is no good and there is no evil.

    False. You could not know what God wanted anymore than anyone else could. Unless you think you can, and in which case whatever someone decided was what God wanted you’d have no way of disproving them.

    I can by special revelation already given us and by general revelation. If a command is given that violates Scripture, it’s not from God. For instance, if a man wants to divorce his wife without biblical grounds and he tells me God wants him to do this, I say “not a chance.”

    I’m glad you’d be cautious of a revelation, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re open to the concept as a method of finding truth (as evidenced by the fact that you’d be cautious whereas someone closed to the idea would simply disregard such a thing as insane).

    Of course because God can speak today, but it is not normative. However, if anything is said that contradicts prior revelation, I do not accept it.

    I don’t actually care how you arrive at your moral views, as it’s not actually relevant. What is relevant is where you think they gain their authority and what you think the basis for them is (you’ve said that’s God, remember?).

    Actually, it’s entirely relevant. By your system, I have a blind faith where I just say “God said it? Okay!” No. I don’t need the Bible to know right from wrong. In fact, that’s a position the Bible itself agrees with.

    That’s the problem. With such a basis for your moral views, no one can question them with any rational arguments, as you can simply say “I’ve got a better understanding of God’s will than you, and thus I’m right”.

    Which would be relevant if I ever made arguments such as “I have a better understanding of God’s will than you.” No. I don’t make such nonsense statements and I don’t believe in beating people with spirituality if logic doesn’t work.

    And remember, as much as you’d like, this isn’t about you specifically, but about religion in general and it’s affinity for abuse of this type. That’s why it’s unimportant what you use to guide your moral reasonings, but about what can be, and quite frequently is, done by other theists.

    If you want to take on a position, you take on the best that that side has to offer. You don’t take on Joe Average in it. You go to leading Christian thinkers past and present and argue against what they say.

    I am coming from Natural Law thinking.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 3:38 pm
  191. @cptpineapple, “I have yet to see evidence of this. What you’re using is circular logic. We know that religion causes atrocity is because we see religious people doing atrocious things and we know religion caused it because religion causes atrocity.”

    I’m not saying religion caused atrocity, I’m saying that people who have committed atrocities said they did so because of their religion (9/11, crusades, prop 8, etc…). Without religion, those people would not have had those reasons. Would they have come up with other reasons, quite possibly, but you can’t know that any more than I can.

    The fact that people have other reasons for doing horrible things in no way changes the facts when they use God as their reason. The children abused by their priests would not have been abused if there were no priests.

    cptpineapple, “I would rather have religion end because it’s wrong, not because people throw out critical thinking and think it’s something that it’s not.”

    I agree, we just disagree as to what exactly makes it wrong. I think it’s the complete lack of a reality check on what people can say is the “truth” because of the nature of “faith”.

    I think we’ll get along quite well (which is to say we’ll argue constantly and enjoy it immensely).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 3:51 pm
  192. Alex wrote: “@Steve, your points are again simply repeats without logical proof.”

    Huh? I don’t see a lot of logical proof in your responses, even when you give your own opinions.

    Alex wrote: “Even proving that Jesus existed, and came back from the dead does not prove “God did it, and he was the son of God, and performed many miracles”. Each and every claim has to be proven, or it all falls apart as the wildly exponential number of other possibilities, none of which can be disproven any more than the “God” answer can, begs us for other explanations.”

    What you’re really saying here is even if it was proven to you that Jesus rose from the dead, and even if it was proven to you that Jesus performed many other miracles, you still wouldn’t be a Christian. I find that to be extraordinary. If Jesus was really performing miracles, and I mean real miracles, and if those miracles were proven to be true, I think it’s very obvious that would set Christianity apart from every other religion out there, but you seem to disagree with this.

    You haven’t given a single good reason to take other possibilities seriously, and you haven’t even given any examples of those possibilities. Arguing that they can’t be disproven isn’t a good reason. Otherwise, we would have to take all sorts of strange things seriously. For example, it’s a possibility that when I talk to someone on the internet, I’m really talking to an alien, to the President of the United States, or to someone that was born in the distant future. I doubt you would be confident that you could disprove those possibilities. Does that mean I should take those possibilities seriously?

    Alex wrote: “Christianity rose due to it’s popularity. I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess as to why so many people would believe what was the only explanation for all the horrible things happening to them in the pre-modern era. I mean, why do we see the religion phenomena worldwide in that case? Because people want explanations and those were the best they had (bad as they were).”

    But it seems improbable that it would rise due to its popularity unless it was true. Earlier you said this:

    Alex wrote: “Assuming that it did occur, a lot of people would require some evidence for a claim that strong, and any evidence likely to persuade them is going to take some scientific form. From that, many would likely incorporate it into a pre-existing world view (i.e. my God did it, not this other mystery God, which explains the worship of Jesus by those outside Christianity).”

    Did a lot of people that required evidence actually get the evidence they were looking for?

    Alex wrote: “If Christianity were the “right” answer, it would be the only answer.”

    I’m not sure what you mean, and I don’t see any logical proof for this statement. Maybe Christianity is the right answer, and at the same time maybe we have a bunch of answers out there that are wrong. That’s certainly the conclusion people would get if they believe what is written in the Bible.

    Alex wrote: “Give science another few thousand years, and I seriously doubt there will exist religion of it’s current form outside of the most uneducated portions of humanity. That would be the ultimate conclusion of the current declining trends of religious belief in favor of scientific explanations.”

    I don’t see any logical proof for this (and I only bring this up because you said I didn’t show any logical proof for what I said). Also, looking ahead thousands of years is complete speculation. The best we can do is take incredibly wild guesses if we’re going to look ahead that far. It’s hard enough to predict what’s going to happen in a football game next Sunday.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 29, 2010, 3:54 pm
  193. @Nick, “If you want to take on a position, you take on the best that that side has to offer. You don’t take on Joe Average in it. You go to leading Christian thinkers past and present and argue against what they say.”

    Actually, when you’re taking on the position of those Joe Average people, you do. I’m sorry you think you’re so far above average that we need to convince you of something specifically, but it’s not your behavior I care about. It’s the millions of Christians who are told everyday that God hates faggots and they should too. Or the idiots who think killing and eating albino children in africa will cure them of their diseases. Or the assholes who beat their wives because the bible says it’s ok.

    Nick, “Actually, it’s entirely relevant. By your system, I have a blind faith where I just say “God said it? Okay!” No. I don’t need the Bible to know right from wrong. In fact, that’s a position the Bible itself agrees with.”

    Actually, again, it doesn’t matter how you get to your moral views. If you start with God, the rest is bogus.

    Nick, “Not at all. I’m saying the concepts of good and evil make no sense without a basis in God as God is necessary for an ontology of goodness. If there is no God, there is no good and there is no evil.”

    You’d be wrong. The concepts of good and evil make perfect sense without God. Good = good for me, my friends, and the human race. Evil = bad for me, my friends, and the human race.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 4:02 pm
  194. @Steve, “You haven’t given a single good reason to take other possibilities seriously, and you haven’t even given any examples of those possibilities. Arguing that they can’t be disproven isn’t a good reason. Otherwise, we would have to take all sorts of strange things seriously. For example, it’s a possibility that when I talk to someone on the internet, I’m really talking to an alien, to the President of the United States, or to someone that was born in the distant future. I doubt you would be confident that you could disprove those possibilities. Does that mean I should take those possibilities seriously?”

    Thank you for proving my point. You don’t take wild possibilities seriously. The wild possibility that some preacher came back from the dead thousands of years ago isn’t taken seriously by many of us, as it shouldn’t be without extraordinary proof, which has not yet been provided.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 4:06 pm
  195. @Alex

    Actually, when you’re taking on the position of those Joe Average people, you do.

    Oh. I see. You don’t want to go after real Christian thinkers. You’d prefer to stay on the uninformed level.

    This is why the new atheist material is so weak. It’s on the popular level instead of the scholarly level. The new atheists do not understand what they argue against, if they even mention it at all.

    I’m sorry you think you’re so far above average that we need to convince you of something specifically, but it’s not your behavior I care about.

    Sorry, but when I argue against a worldview, I want to take on the best that worldview has.

    Apparently, you don’t.

    Afraid your worldview wouldn’t last? Is that why you avoid scholarship?

    It’s the millions of Christians who are told everyday that God hates faggots and they should too.

    Westboro Baptist is not millions and you should know that Christians also stand up against the likes of Fred Phelps and his ilk.

    Or the idiots who think killing and eating albino children in africa will cure them of their diseases.

    Obviously a Christian group there. Really. You think that represents mainstream Christianity?

    Or the assholes who beat their wives because the bible says it’s ok.

    Reference where the Bible says that? I have a wife and if anyone ever touched her, they would end up getting a beating.

    However, I find it odd. The new atheists think religion is such a threat and what do they argue against most? Christianity. Never mind all the good Christianity has done. Why not go after Islam since that sparked the whole thing?

    Oh wait. Muslims might retaliate if you did that. We know those wicked and evil Christians won’t however.

    Actually, again, it doesn’t matter how you get to your moral views. If you start with God, the rest is bogus.

    Notice I even denied I start with God. I said God is not first epistemologically in figuring out morality. For instance, if I want to drive to another city, I need a map. The map is my epistemological basis for getting there, but I cannot get there unless the city has ontological reality.

    You’d be wrong. The concepts of good and evil make perfect sense without God. Good = good for me, my friends, and the human race. Evil = bad for me, my friends, and the human race.

    You just said that what is good is what is good which is a tautology. You used the word to describe itself. I can’t even say what “good for me” means because you haven’t defined good.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 4:09 pm
  196. Nick wrote: ” to be part of the Jewish community meant for them being in covenant with YHWH, which was hardly nothing to them.”

    I don’t recall Jesus asking his disciples to go against their Jewish heritage, and why would that mean being cut off from the community of YHWH if they were wrong? Now in Mark, we find that the pharisees are portrayed in antagonistic term, but that hardly constitute asking the discipples to go against their Jewish heritage.

    Nick wrote: “What mechinations? Everyone already knew Nero was a tyrant. He was already unliked. This wouldn’t have changed by having trials. However, for legal records, trials would be had.”

    Trials are a can of worms. Who knows who will show up and say what. All I’m saying is that during a purge, tyrants don’t make it a habit to have trials. If they do, they are swift and speedy. Nevertheless if all this is speculation, your claim that Paul and Peter would not have died for a lie is also just speculation. We don’t know, and we will never know.

    Nick wrote:” If the resurrection is not believed, embellishments would not make it more believable. In fact, they’d make it less believable.”

    I don’t know what to make of that. Are you saying that Matthew is correct, that they were dead people rising in the aftermath of the crucifixion? If you are, now we are not only to believe in Jesus resurrection but in multiple resurrections. In that case it is odd no one in Jerusalem, including the occupying Roman force did not record this fanstamagorical, extraordinary event. Yet by the same token, you insisted in an earlier post that Pilate had to record Jesus’ execution and sent that documentation to Rome. Yet, he would have failed on a most extraordinary event of multiple resurrections, living dead people walking all over the streets of Jerusalem!!!

    Nick wrote:”Actually, we do know. It’s oral tradition. It’s put in a creedal form that’s easy to memorize and as the scholarship says, the creed dates to within the first few years of the early church, even according to non-Christian scholars.”

    Or Paul just made it up.

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 4:21 pm
  197. @LM

    I don’t recall Jesus asking his disciples to go against their Jewish heritage, and why would that mean being cut off from the community of YHWH if they were wrong?

    Your identity was established by your actions. It’s the Semitic Totality concept. Being a member of the covenant of YHWH meant worshiping on Sunday, having animal sacrifices, following Jewish rituals, etc.

    They stopped doing all of that? That meant if they were wrong, they were cutting themselves off from YHWH and their entire heritage.

    Must’ve had some reason to be sure they were right….

    Now in Mark, we find that the pharisees are portrayed in antagonistic term, but that hardly constitute asking the discipples to go against their Jewish heritage.

    Um. We find that in Matthew and Luke also. Jesus never told the Pharisees to go against the law but against their traditions they’d added onto the law. I see no relevance of this to the discussion.

    Trials are a can of worms. Who knows who will show up and say what. All I’m saying is that during a purge, tyrants don’t make it a habit to have trials. If they do, they are swift and speedy.

    No problem with a swift and speedy trial. Just with your statement that there wasn’t one. Of course, this is where you’re allowed to make an assumption and have it stand.

    Nevertheless if all this is speculation, your claim that Paul and Peter would not have died for a lie is also just speculation. We don’t know, and we will never know.

    We have the testimony of the ECF on their deaths specifically. Do you have any a priori reason to think they were false?

    I don’t know what to make of that. Are you saying that Matthew is correct, that they were dead people rising in the aftermath of the crucifixion? If you are, now we are not only to believe in Jesus resurrection but in multiple resurrections.

    Haven’t decided yet. I think there’s good arguments on both sides. That’s not the point. My point is that if you don’t believe in resurrections, adding multiple resurrections will not make it more believable. If they didn’t believe Jesus rose, why believe because of a claim that others did as well?

    In that case it is odd no one in Jerusalem, including the occupying Roman force did not record this fanstamagorical, extraordinary event.

    And this event is irrelevant to me. I’m more interested in Christ’s resurrection.

    Yet by the same token, you insisted in an earlier post that Pilate had to record Jesus’ execution and sent that documentation to Rome. Yet, he would have failed on a most extraordinary event of multiple resurrections, living dead people walking all over the streets of Jerusalem!!!

    Which is a reason to be skeptical. Of course, one could argue that since this if it is literal happened after the resurrection, Pilate would have been skeptical of a claim if it ever would have even reached his ears. The Jews didn’t even enter Pilate’s residence.

    Or Paul just made it up.

    The only one I know who thinks it’s an interpolation is Bob Price. I know of no one else who thinks that, atheist or Christian or Jew or whatever.

    You can check the literature. It’s a creed.

    But then, reading scholarship would be a problem wouldn’t it?

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 4:30 pm
  198. Nick, “Oh. I see. You don’t want to go after real Christian thinkers. You’d prefer to stay on the uninformed level.

    This is why the new atheist material is so weak. It’s on the popular level instead of the scholarly level. The new atheists do not understand what they argue against, if they even mention it at all.”

    Actually, I prefer to stay in reality. You know, where Christians kill abortion doctors? Or Muslims blow up buildings with planes? See, I can hate on all the world’s crazy, not just your flavor.

    Nick, “Oh wait. Muslims might retaliate if you did that. We know those wicked and evil Christians won’t however.”

    You must have missed the constant stream of bigotry in America from Christians towards people they don’t like. Christians most certainly will retaliate.

    Nick, “Obviously a Christian group there. Really. You think that represents mainstream Christianity?”

    No, but it does represent Christianity at a specific level. Which was the point. There are people who use your worldview to justify horrible things without anyone able to disprove they are correct.

    I apologize for the beating your wife part (Islamic bastards, sorry hard to keep the crazy flavors distinct sometimes). How about hitting your kids instead? That one’s in there plenty.

    Nick, “Notice I even denied I start with God. I said God is not first epistemologically in figuring out morality. For instance, if I want to drive to another city, I need a map. The map is my epistemological basis for getting there, but I cannot get there unless the city has ontological reality.”

    And what is God in your metaphor above? The map maker?

    Nick, “Westboro Baptist is not millions and you should know that Christians also stand up against the likes of Fred Phelps and his ilk.”

    Yeah, but do they vote with him and his ilk or for equal rights? I’m sorry you think the word marriage is special to you, but once it got authorized by the gov’t, it became a secular term.

    Nick, “Afraid your worldview wouldn’t last? Is that why you avoid scholarship?”

    Actually I’m not since it’s older than yours, by…lets go with a conservative estimate of oh 1 million years. People have been not believing in your God for a lot longer than people have. And where did I claim to be an atheist? I just don’t believe what you believe. I don’t claim to know (or care) if there is a God (according to your definition or any other), since no one can prove it one way or another.

    I avoid your definition of scholarship because it’s biased towards only learning what’s available in your pre-approved selection of books. I prefer the freedom to learn whatever I want from whomever I want. Welcome to the digital age.

    Nick, “You just said that what is good is what is good which is a tautology. You used the word to describe itself. I can’t even say what “good for me” means because you haven’t defined good.”

    Actually I said Good (in the sense of morally acceptable) = good (in the sense of having benefit) for me, and Evil (again in the sense of morally unacceptable) = bad (in the sense of having negative consequence) for me.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 4:38 pm
  199. @Alex

    Actually, I prefer to stay in reality.

    Nice dodge to avoid admitting you don’t want to deal with scholarship.

    You know, where Christians kill abortion doctors?

    I can think of three incidences where that’s happened. What I can think of is how immediately the Christian community came out and decried the action. So do I. Murder is never the answer.

    You do know that’s also the illicit sample. Right?

    Or Muslims blow up buildings with planes? See, I can hate on all the world’s crazy, not just your flavor.

    Yes, which is directly in line with Islam based on the life of their prophet and on the Qu’ran.

    Of course, the new atheists prefer to go after the Christianity they don’t understand. They know Christians won’t try to kill them. If they really saw 9/11 as the problem, then Dawkins should have the courage to write “The Allah Delusion.”

    You must have missed the constant stream of bigotry in America from Christians towards people they don’t like. Christians most certainly will retaliate.

    I see disagreement but not bigotry. I also know that the way of Christ is non-violent excepting government affairs such as just wars or the death penalty or in cases of self-defense.

    No, but it does represent Christianity at a specific level.

    I could point to several atheist societies in the world. Which part of atheism does the Khmer Rouge represent?

    Which was the point. There are people who use your worldview to justify horrible things without anyone able to disprove they are correct.

    Sure we can. We’re not postmoderns. We believe the Scripture says something and the text means something. We also point to natural law ideas. This might sound odd, but Christians can discuss amongst themselves moral issues and tell one another why they’re wrong without saying “God told me.”

    I apologize for the beating your wife part (Islamic bastards, sorry hard to keep the crazy flavors distinct sometimes). How about hitting your kids instead? That one’s in there plenty.

    Reference?

    And what is God in your metaphor above? The map maker?

    No. God is the city. In reality, God is the good and to get to him, you need to know what goodness is first. Epistemology comes before ontology in order of knowing. Ontology comes first in order of being.

    Yeah, but do they vote with him and his ilk or for equal rights? I’m sorry you think the word marriage is special to you, but once it got authorized by the gov’t, it became a secular term.

    Actually, no. The government does not define marriage and never has. It describes marriage. I also do think marriage means something independent of government action. If the government allows homosexual marriage, that won’t make it marriage.

    Furthermore, homosexuals do have equal rights. They want different rights.

    Actually I’m not since it’s older than yours, by…lets go with a conservative estimate of oh 1 million years.

    Really? Show me the ancient society that consisted of atheists.

    People have been not believing in your God for a lot longer than people have. And where did I claim to be an atheist? I just don’t believe what you believe. I don’t claim to know (or care) if there is a God (according to your definition or any other), since no one can prove it one way or another.

    Fine. Show me one that’s agnostic. By the way, not believing in my theism does not equal agnosticism or atheism.

    I avoid your definition of scholarship because it’s biased towards only learning what’s available in your pre-approved selection of books.

    Straw man. I will show how.

    I prefer the freedom to learn whatever I want from whomever I want. Welcome to the digital age.

    I recently ordered several books for a research paper.

    AFAIK, not one was written by a Christian. In fact, I prefer non-Christian material in such a case. I haven’t given you a pre-approved list. I’ve given sources. That’s what you do when you refer to scholarship. Go to the library and do serious research. You don’t have to go to the authors I’ve recommended. Go to credentialed and peer-reviewed authors. See what they say.

    It seems that you are afraid of any scholarship however and think the digital age is safer since you can avoid that.

    Actually I said Good (in the sense of morally acceptable) = good (in the sense of having benefit) for me, and Evil (again in the sense of morally unacceptable) = bad (in the sense of having negative consequence) for me.

    Same problem. You have a value judgment in there. Furthermore, what is beneficial often conflicts. Was the invention of the car good? It was for the car industry. It wasn’t for the horse industry. Was the invention of refrigeration good? It was for the refrigeration industry. It wasn’t for the ice industry.

    Also, suppose someone does something considered to be a good deed for someone else entirely indifferent to you. How is that a good deed since it was not done for you?

    Defining goodness by yourself will mean that whatever anyone does for themselves is good.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 4:50 pm
  200. @Nick, “Yes, which is directly in line with Islam based on the life of their prophet and on the Qu’ran.”

    And there’s nothing about killing unbelievers in the bible…

    Nick, “Reference?”

    How about do your own research as you’re so fond of saying. Prove it’s not in there. I’m sitting on my copies of the bible and it’s in all of them.

    Nick, “Same problem. You have a value judgment in there. Furthermore, what is beneficial often conflicts. Was the invention of the car good? It was for the car industry. It wasn’t for the horse industry. Was the invention of refrigeration good? It was for the refrigeration industry. It wasn’t for the ice industry.

    Also, suppose someone does something considered to be a good deed for someone else entirely indifferent to you. How is that a good deed since it was not done for you?

    Defining goodness by yourself will mean that whatever anyone does for themselves is good.”

    Not my problem. You are correct in that whatever people do for themselves is good for them. Since we determine morality, we get to determine what is good and for who and whether we care. For me, Good = good for me, my family, my friends, the species, the planet, and the universe. In that order.

    I forgot you believe in absolute morality. Without a God, that system falls apart quickly, so I’m not willing to use it as a basis for my life. Morality is subjective is much easier to actually use for anything, you know back here in reality.

    Nick, “Furthermore, homosexuals do have equal rights. They want different rights.”

    Really? They can marry who they want to? They can visit the bedsides of their loved ones in the hospital? Make their medical decisions? Be on their health insurance? Oh wait, it’s different when it’s not your definition of marriage. When the gov’t says, you get “married” and get benefits X, but we’ll only allow you to marry who these people think is ok, that’s them defining marriage. Either get out of marriage completely and only authorize civil unions for everyone, or allow everyone marriage. That’s equal rights.

    I’m ignoring the rest since it’s off topic.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 5:06 pm
  201. Nick wrote”Your identity was established by your actions. It’s the Semitic Totality concept. Being a member of the covenant of YHWH meant worshiping on Sunday, having animal sacrifices, following Jewish rituals, etc.

    They stopped doing all of that? That meant if they were wrong, they were cutting themselves off from YHWH and their entire heritage.

    Must’ve had some reason to be sure they were right….”

    OTOH if they were wrong they could always go back. Jews are generally forgiving, and their families would have welcomed them back. Your point is that they had nothing to gain by becoming Christians. It is equally likely that they had little to lose.

    Nick wrote:”Haven’t decided yet. I think there’s good arguments on both sides. That’s not the point. My point is that if you don’t believe in resurrections, adding multiple resurrections will not make it more believable. If they didn’t believe Jesus rose, why believe because of a claim that others did as well?”

    But with this embellishment, it give credence that resurrections are possible, or that Jesus was the son Of God, and God was sending a signal to those who persecuted his son, heck any reasons could be made up. Anyway Craig in a recent debate balked at this and said, “I don’t know whether he(Matthew) means this to be apocalyptic imagery or if he means this to be taken literally.” So the jury is still out even by credible christian scholars like Craig.

    Nick wrote: “You do know that I have stated numerous times that Paul is referring to a tradition of an event that happened back in Judea that dates to early on in the history of the church. ”

    I’m not debating how the message was transmitted, orally or by other means, I’m looking at the content of the message. The 500 witnesses is most likely made up.

    Nick wrote: “Which is a reason to be skeptical. Of course, one could argue that since this if it is literal happened after the resurrection, Pilate would have been skeptical of a claim if it ever would have even reached his ears. The Jews didn’t even enter Pilate’s residence.”

    The jews didn’t entered his residence but his soldiers were patrolling the street. Strange they wouldn’t have noticed living deads walking around. Strange that Pilate would have documented Jesus execution but clueless at to the wherabouts of living deads scaring half the population in a town he was held responsible that he had to notify Rome of every incident taking place under his nose.

    Posted by LM | October 29, 2010, 6:10 pm
  202. @Alex

    And there’s nothing about killing unbelievers in the bible…

    Oh I know you’re talking about the so-called genocides of the OT. Let’s note some differences. First off, this was to a specific people. Second, it was for a specific time. Third, it was for a specific place. Fourth, it was for a specific reason. In fact, there is nothing in Scripture that says “Kill unbelievers because they’re unbelievers.”

    The Qu’ran is not like that. The Qu’ran sits right alongside Allah and the life of Muhammad is quite different from that of Jesus.

    How about do your own research as you’re so fond of saying. Prove it’s not in there. I’m sitting on my copies of the bible and it’s in all of them.

    The only reference I can think of is “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” In other words, you use discipline on your children unless you want them spoiled. I’m not against corporal punishment, but that’s a far cry from “beat your children.” In fact, parents are enjoined to show their children love.

    Not my problem. You are correct in that whatever people do for themselves is good for them. Since we determine morality, we get to determine what is good and for who and whether we care.

    Okay. If we determine morality, then I determine morality as its okay to say homosexuals can’t marry. I wonder if I should add in killing unbelievers. Are you going to tell me I’m wrong? How. I get to determine my morality and that’s what it is.

    Or we could go with the traditional view that cultures across history and around the world have believed. Some things are right and wrong independent of us, which is what the homosexual movement should hope is the case.

    For me, Good = good for me, my family, my friends, the species, the planet, and the universe. In that order.

    You’re still using the word good to define good.

    I forgot you believe in absolute morality. Without a God, that system falls apart quickly, so I’m not willing to use it as a basis for my life. Morality is subjective is much easier to actually use for anything, you know back here in reality.

    Amazing! First you decry actions as immoral and say they’re wrong, which I’d swear you were talking about something objective, then you say it’s all subjective.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re stating something about the actions themselves or else you’re just giving an opinion and no opinion is better than another and you can’t argue someone out of an opinion since there’s no truth content to the matter.

    Looks like your system does exactly what you think the problem with your straw man of my system is.

    Really? They can marry who they want to?

    No one has that right.

    They can visit the bedsides of their loved ones in the hospital? Make their medical decisions? Be on their health insurance?

    I have no problem with any of that. Let them do that. That doesn’t concern me.

    Oh wait, it’s different when it’s not your definition of marriage. When the gov’t says, you get “married” and get benefits X, but we’ll only allow you to marry who these people think is ok, that’s them defining marriage.

    No. I have no problem with granting what you mentioned above. I have a problem with calling it “marriage.”

    Either get out of marriage completely and only authorize civil unions for everyone, or allow everyone marriage.

    Everyone does have marriage. It’s a privilege however and not a right.

    That’s equal rights.
    I’m ignoring the rest since it’s off topic.

    Yes. How I establish moral standards is definitely off-topic when we’re talking about moral standards. How incredible.

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 6:52 pm
  203. @LM

    OTOH if they were wrong they could always go back. Jews are generally forgiving, and their families would have welcomed them back. Your point is that they had nothing to gain by becoming Christians. It is equally likely that they had little to lose.

    On the contrary, they had nothing to lose. While away, they were forsaking family and friends as well as the community and putting their eternities on the line with their decision. The strange thing is, we have no record of the leaders of the movement ever recanting or even a hint that they did.

    In fact, we have record that Jews en masse joined them in this. Why would they do that? Especially Jews who were so cautious about outside influence and pagan doctrines?

    But with this embellishment, it give credence that resurrections are possible,

    Matthew’s writing to Jews. Greeks disbelieved in resurrection. Jews didn’t. It wasn’t the possibility of resurrection that troubled Jews. It was the timing of it. The resurrection was to happen at the end.

    or that Jesus was the son Of God, and God was sending a signal to those who persecuted his son, heck any reasons could be made up.

    Again, if they did not believe the resurrection of a crucified Messiah, other resurrections would not convince them. That still isn’t sinking in is it?

    Anyway Craig in a recent debate balked at this and said, “I don’t know whether he(Matthew) means this to be apocalyptic imagery or if he means this to be taken literally.” So the jury is still out even by credible christian scholars like Craig.

    Correct. There is still disagreement on this issue among Christians and that’s fine.

    I’m not debating how the message was transmitted, orally or by other means, I’m looking at the content of the message.

    Yes you are. If Paul made it up, then he did not receive it.

    The 500 witnesses is most likely made up.

    Evidence of this? If you’re going to say “They weren’t with him” then that won’t fly. No scholar argues that Paul meant that.

    The jews didn’t entered his residence but his soldiers were patrolling the street. Strange they wouldn’t have noticed living deads walking around.

    Which if literal would also assume they’d look like zombies. I’m not certain it’s literal so to keep going on about Matthew 27:52-53 is not going to go anywhere. You can say “Here’s a lot of problems with it being literal!” I’ll just say “Okay.”

    Strange that Pilate would have documented Jesus execution but clueless at to the wherabouts of living deads scaring half the population in a town he was held responsible that he had to notify Rome of every incident taking place under his nose.

    See above.

    No reply yet about Gamaliel.

    Nothing about sources for him.

    Nothing about why Mark and Matthew are different.

    Do you just go silent when you can’t answer hoping I and others won’t notice?

    Posted by apologianick | October 29, 2010, 6:59 pm
  204. Nick, “You’re still using the word good to define good.”

    I like how you ignored where I explained how this worked. You’re either being dishonest or stupid, please explain which.

    Arguing against what you want is a lot easier than arguing against the truth.

    As to the rest about the gay marriage issue, you’re pretending we don’t have the right to marry who we want. We do. I can pick anyone I love (since I like women) and if she’s willing, we get married (subject to a few laws against marrying multiple people, again something I think should be legal if everyone is willing).

    If I’m gay, I cannot pick someone I love, simply because a few (million) people like you think it would be wrong. Getting married is a right as long as the gov’t authorizes them for some people.

    Nick, “Everyone does have marriage. It’s a privilege however and not a right.”

    Please explain to all the gay couples who can’t get married how they currently have marriage.

    Nick, “No. I have no problem with granting what you mentioned above. I have a problem with calling it “marriage.””

    Then you’re in agreement with me, the gov’t should not be in the business of granting marriages, to anyone. They should be granting civil unions to everyone, and leaving marriage up to the churches.

    As to your arguments about morality, you can’t stick to an honest debate, so what’s the point. Anything anyone says, you’ll simply quote what you want, misunderstand what they say, and call them ignorant of your position. All without making anything regarding your position any clearer.

    Hamby has quite adequately explained the human centric view of morality, you didn’t get it from him, there’s no way I can explain it better, so what’s the point in trying?

    The point though, that we’re all here because we agree with him. You’re not, so why are we trying to prove anything to you. Oh wait, that’s your point, to get people off topic and arguing with you instead of discussing the actual topic. Damn you’re good.

    Well played. I’m awarding you troll of the month.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 29, 2010, 9:03 pm
  205. Alex wrote: “Thank you for proving my point. You don’t take wild possibilities seriously.”

    Not quite. I implied that you shouldn’t take them seriously if you don’t have a single good reason to take them seriously. Assuming that it happened, the resurrection of Jesus would give us a good reason to take Christianity seriously. So would the statements made by Jesus. Other possibilities like “Jesus was an alien” or Jesus was a trickster god trying to fool us” are ad hoc, and we would have no good reason to believe them if the resurrection happened.

    Alex wrote: “The wild possibility that some preacher came back from the dead thousands of years ago isn’t taken seriously by many of us,”

    This is just an argument from incredulity. It’s also an appeal to popularity. You can’t refute an argument by showing that it’s unpopular and hard for many people to believe. Many people see evolution as a wild possibility, and many people don’t take it seriously. That doesn’t mean we should stop taking evolution seriously.

    Alex wrote: “as it shouldn’t be without extraordinary proof, which has not yet been provided.”

    We don’t need extraordinary proof. Darwin overturned the entire biological theory of creation by accumulating mundane facts in sufficient amount to bring about a belief in what now is considered to be scientific fact. Similarly, the biblical evidence is cumulative and therefore the biblical evidence must be considered on this basis and not on some knockdown piece of evidence that you believe hasn’t been provided.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 30, 2010, 2:53 am
  206. Nick wrote: “On the contrary, they had nothing to lose.”

    Well, here’s one thing we agree on.

    Nick wrote:”The strange thing is, we have no record of the leaders of the movement ever recanting or even a hint that they did.”

    Here’s another thing we agree: we have no record, and that’s why your position is extrremely weak.

    Nick wrote: “In fact, we have record that Jews en masse joined them in this. Why would they do that?”

    Can you be specific? Which record? And what kind og ballpark figure do you mean by “en masse”?

    Nick wrote: “Correct. There is still disagreement on this issue among Christians and that’s fine”

    Another thing we agree. And so that Matthew embellished is quite a possibility. I was wondering why this resistance on your part to admit that possibility. Could it be that once a christian opens the door then the next question will be from skeptics: “what else is an embellishment?” That is the position you find yourself when you are defending every single bit of the gospels, even if there are questionable or ridiculous claims.

    Nick wrote: :Yes you are. If Paul made it up, then he did not receive it.

    Evidence of this? If you’re going to say “They weren’t with him” then that won’t fly. No scholar argues that Paul meant that.”

    The whole thing behind this claim that they were 500 witnesses is that they are many holes. First, it sounds like a ballpark number, especially if you want to impress someone, and we know that Paul was out there traveling around to bring his message. So to impress an audience, then a rounded number of 500 would be that kind of thing to say. The question is: was it 498 or 503, was it exactly 500? Also, did Paul investigate personally how many were they? Did he take their names down? Did he question them where they were and when they witness the living Christ?

    Now you say it was given to him orally. That’s a possibility, but then the same questions would go to whoever told Paul about the 500 witnesses.

    And the more likelihood that Paul’s audience, when that number was recited, would not be in the position to question that number cannot be dismissed. That was a reality back then when transportation was much slower than today, and people were too busy with their lives just to survive and were not in the position to travel around to verify this kind of information. When Paul was preaching the audience was either attracted, or not, by the overall story.

    Nick wrote: “No reply yet about Gamaliel.”

    Gamaliel is a minor point. My focus is on Paul and the kind of man he would have been.

    Gamaliel holds a reputation in the Mishnah for being one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism. So on the Jewish side, a lot of positive feedback. We get the same from the Christian side, even that he might have been secretly a Christian. This has raised doubts about Paul claiming he had studied under him, the reason being that after his studies, Paul also claimed that he savagely persecuted the Christians. It is the juxtaposition of these two claims that puts a shadow over Paul. How could he have studied under a very gentle man and then turn to be full of hate towards the Christians? Could it be that he was exaggerating, again to impress his audience while he was traveling?

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 5:24 am
  207. Nick wrote:

    If the government allows homosexual marriage, that won’t make it marriage. Furthermore, homosexuals do have equal rights. They want different rights.

    What’s your position on intersexuals? People born with androgen insensitivity, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, genetic mosaicism, etc.?

    What’s the Biblical position on their rights? Can they enter into the institution of marriage, or would this be a “different right” which moral law does not permit them, due to the circumstances of their birth?

    Suppose I told you that I knew one. Born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and while an infant, the parents and doctors decided by surgery in favor of “she.”

    She grew up to be a lesbian. If they had opted for a different surgical procedure, then she would be heterosexual. Because of the surgery they chose in her case, does she not have the right to marry someone that she loves?

    It is an incontrovertible fact of modern medicine that gender is not just what’s between our legs, but also what’s between our ears. The brain is just as much a part of the body as any other organ, and in the same way that the reproductive system can be gender ambiguous, so can the brain.

    You can literally see this in a PET scan of a homosexual person’s brain (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617151845.htm). The symmetry resembles that of the opposite sex; it may inf fact be something of a misnomer to call them “homosexual.” It might be more accurate to call them “neurally interesexed,” and then distinguish between whether they are androphilic, gynephilic, or both.

    On what basis do we decide that such a person does not have the right to marry someone they are in love with and attracted to?

    Posted by Ian | October 30, 2010, 6:29 am
  208. @Steve,

    Not quite. I implied that you shouldn’t take them seriously if you don’t have a single good reason to take them seriously. Assuming that it happened, the resurrection of Jesus would give us a good reason to take Christianity seriously. So would the statements made by Jesus. Other possibilities like “Jesus was an alien” or Jesus was a trickster god trying to fool us” are ad hoc, and we would have no good reason to believe them if the resurrection happened.

    No, a single good reason, even a few dozen good reasons are not enough to believe something as incredible as the resurrection. You assume the resurrection happened because that proves the rest, which is wrong. I didn’t say Jesus was a trickster god or an alien. I simply don’t buy the incredible assertion that he rose from the dead.

    This is just an argument from incredulity. It’s also an appeal to popularity. You can’t refute an argument by showing that it’s unpopular and hard for many people to believe. Many people see evolution as a wild possibility, and many people don’t take it seriously. That doesn’t mean we should stop taking evolution seriously.

    No, actually you are making an argument from ignorance. There is no reason to believe in this because there is no evidence it actually happened.

    We don’t need extraordinary proof. Darwin overturned the entire biological theory of creation by accumulating mundane facts in sufficient amount to bring about a belief in what now is considered to be scientific fact. Similarly, the biblical evidence is cumulative and therefore the biblical evidence must be considered on this basis and not on some knockdown piece of evidence that you believe hasn’t been provided.

    We do need extraordinary proof for such an extraordinary claim as the resurrection. Darwin is not relevant to the discussion on morality or the resurrection (which is not relevant to the discussion on morality either, so why are we having it).

    Back to the topic we go, hi ho, hi ho, back to the topic we go.

    Which is to say, can anyone explain how hamby is wrong in asserting that either God is not relevant (as we determine our own morality) or actually harmful (as if God determines it, what’s moral about doing things harmful to other humans).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 7:04 am
  209. @Ian, excellent comment. I think it speaks to the contradictions caused by using an external source for morality that these types of problems (homosexual rights) even exist. As without an external reason to deny them the same rights as others, it wouldn’t matter and we’d not be discussing whether they can marry who they please.

    God’s version of morality – 0
    Human centric morality – 1

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 7:08 am
  210. Alex wrote: “The point though, that we’re all here because we agree with him. You’re not, so why are we trying to prove anything to you. Oh wait, that’s your point, to get people off topic and arguing with you instead of discussing the actual topic. Damn you’re good.

    Well played. I’m awarding you troll of the month”

    I second that.

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 8:59 am
  211. @Alex

    I like how you ignored where I explained how this worked. You’re either being dishonest or stupid, please explain which.

    Either/or fallacy anyone. Sorry Alex, but if you’re defining a word, you can’t use that word in the definition.

    Arguing against what you want is a lot easier than arguing against the truth.

    Yes. Must be why I see it consistently in your posts.

    As to the rest about the gay marriage issue, you’re pretending we don’t have the right to marry who we want. We do.

    Can you marry a close relative?

    Can you marry a pet?

    Can you marry a minor?

    I can pick anyone I love (since I like women) and if she’s willing, we get married (subject to a few laws against marrying multiple people, again something I think should be legal if everyone is willing).

    Why should marrying multiple people be legal? Note as soon as you give a should, you imply a moral standard as well.

    If I’m gay, I cannot pick someone I love, simply because a few (million) people like you think it would be wrong. Getting married is a right as long as the gov’t authorizes them for some people.

    If getting married is a right, then my single friends are going to start lining up wanting to know where their spouses are. They have a right! A right is a negative restriction placed on everyone else. You’re confusing a right with an entitlement.

    Also, no one said the definition of marriage is “The right to marry someone you love.” That’s in fact a very modern concept of marriage. No one has the right to marry someone just because they love them.

    Please explain to all the gay couples who can’t get married how they currently have marriage.

    A homosexual can marry anyone they want who is not a close relative and of age and is of the opposite sex. That’s the exact same right I have.

    “But we want to marry someone of the same sex!”

    Oh. I don’t have that right. You’re wanting a different right then.

    Then you’re in agreement with me, the gov’t should not be in the business of granting marriages, to anyone. They should be granting civil unions to everyone, and leaving marriage up to the churches.

    That would not be a big issue to me. Just don’t call it marriage. By the way, there are homosexuals that are against homosexual marriage based on what marriage is.

    http://www.gaysdefendmarriage.com/

    As to your arguments about morality, you can’t stick to an honest debate, so what’s the point. Anything anyone says, you’ll simply quote what you want, misunderstand what they say, and call them ignorant of your position. All without making anything regarding your position any clearer.

    False. I quote what you say entirely and then reply. The problem is, you don’t know what you’re saying really. You use the word good to define good. If you think I can’t debate morality, you can feel free to come to theologyweb and go to our advanced debate section where I have indeed had a number of debates on objective morality without once anyone thinking I don’t know how to debate it.

    Hamby has quite adequately explained the human centric view of morality, you didn’t get it from him, there’s no way I can explain it better, so what’s the point in trying?

    Oh I get it. I just think it’s entirely wrong. You’ve given me no reason to think otherwise and I’ve given you reasons to think otherwise that you haven’t responded to.

    The point though, that we’re all here because we agree with him. You’re not, so why are we trying to prove anything to you. Oh wait, that’s your point, to get people off topic and arguing with you instead of discussing the actual topic. Damn you’re good.

    Psssh. Hey. If we go to the resurrection of Jesus, I know the topic. If we go to history, I also can do that one. If you want to discuss objective morality, that’s fine with me. That’s the benefit of knowing what you believe instead of just saying what you want to be true.

    Well played. I’m awarding you troll of the month.

    From a Christ-myther who can’t even define goodness, I’ll take it as a compliment. You see, when you’re not emotionally invested in a subject and don’t have an ego on the line, you don’t have to worry about comments like this. In fact, it makes me laugh.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 10:09 am
  212. @LM

    Nick wrote: “On the contrary, they had nothing to lose.”

    Well, here’s one thing we agree on.

    Meh. Got a bit jumbled. My bad. I think you should know that my belief is they had everything to lose, but way to bank on someone misspeaking.

    Here’s another thing we agree: we have no record, and that’s why your position is extrremely weak.

    False. We have testimony from the early church that none deconverted and we have no record of any enemies saying that the apostles deconverted, something that the Jewish leaders would have gladly announced to society.

    Can you be specific? Which record? And what kind og ballpark figure do you mean by “en masse”?

    I am thinking of how Acts records thousands joining the church. The Jews would not abandon their heritage unless they saw some connection in the new movement to their heritage.

    Another thing we agree. And so that Matthew embellished is quite a possibility. I was wondering why this resistance on your part to admit that possibility. Could it be that once a christian opens the door then the next question will be from skeptics: “what else is an embellishment?” That is the position you find yourself when you are defending every single bit of the gospels, even if there are questionable or ridiculous claims.

    No. If not literal, it is not an embellishment either but an allusion the readers would have understood as referring to an event that happens at the death of a king. It would have been seen as apocalyptic and thus not to be taken literally.

    You really jump to embellishment first don’t you?

    Furthermore, even if it was an embellishment, I would not have a problem still. My case for the resurrection is not based on the gospels.

    The whole thing behind this claim that they were 500 witnesses is that they are many holes. First, it sounds like a ballpark number, especially if you want to impress someone, and we know that Paul was out there traveling around to bring his message. So to impress an audience, then a rounded number of 500 would be that kind of thing to say.

    Oh good grief. So I suppose we should fault the biblical account whenever it talks about soldiers being sent to war since it’s always an even thousand or the same for the number of horses. You’re going to make a big deal because it’s likely the number was rounded?

    The question is: was it 498 or 503, was it exactly 500? Also, did Paul investigate personally how many were they? Did he take their names down? Did he question them where they were and when they witness the living Christ?

    Irrelevant. What’s relevant is that Paul is passing on material of an event that was well-known. Paul did know some of them at least as he knew at the time that some had fallen asleep.

    Now you say it was given to him orally. That’s a possibility, but then the same questions would go to whoever told Paul about the 500 witnesses.

    An oral tradition would not last in a community where eyewitnesses were there to dispute the facts. As soon as the church began saying this, anyone could say “Hey! That’s not so! We know 500 never claimed to see him alive!”

    And the more likelihood that Paul’s audience, when that number was recited, would not be in the position to question that number cannot be dismissed. That was a reality back then when transportation was much slower than today, and people were too busy with their lives just to survive and were not in the position to travel around to verify this kind of information. When Paul was preaching the audience was either attracted, or not, by the overall story.

    People could get around if they wanted to. Everyone managed to if they had to when a census was called. Paul is just saying that if someone wants to check the claim, there are eyewitnesses. It is not Paul’s fault if they were not with him nor does it disprove the truth of the claim if no one checks on it. Furthermore, Paul also had another eyewitness, himself.

    Gamaliel is a minor point. My focus is on Paul and the kind of man he would have been.

    i.e. You don’t want to get embarrassed on the point of the first source of Gamaliel?

    Gamaliel holds a reputation in the Mishnah for being one of the greatest teachers in all the annals of Judaism. So on the Jewish side, a lot of positive feedback. We get the same from the Christian side, even that he might have been secretly a Christian. This has raised doubts about Paul claiming he had studied under him, the reason being that after his studies, Paul also claimed that he savagely persecuted the Christians.

    Please show the scholar who doubts Paul’s testimony in Philippians that he studied under Gamaliel.

    It is the juxtaposition of these two claims that puts a shadow over Paul. How could he have studied under a very gentle man and then turn to be full of hate towards the Christians? Could it be that he was exaggerating, again to impress his audience while he was traveling?

    Or could it be that students don’t always take after their teachers? Paul made claims in his letters that could have easily been checked on. Do you have some reason to automatically assume those must be false?

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 10:20 am
  213. @Ian

    What’s your position on intersexuals? People born with androgen insensitivity, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, genetic mosaicism, etc.?

    Not being a medical professional, I really can’t comment on such a thing. I would want to look at the issue more and talk to medical professionals and then decide.

    What’s the Biblical position on their rights? Can they enter into the institution of marriage, or would this be a “different right” which moral law does not permit them, due to the circumstances of their birth?

    Suppose I told you that I knew one. Born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and while an infant, the parents and doctors decided by surgery in favor of “she.”

    She grew up to be a lesbian. If they had opted for a different surgical procedure, then she would be heterosexual. Because of the surgery they chose in her case, does she not have the right to marry someone that she loves?

    See above.

    It is an incontrovertible fact of modern medicine that gender is not just what’s between our legs, but also what’s between our ears. The brain is just as much a part of the body as any other organ, and in the same way that the reproductive system can be gender ambiguous, so can the brain.

    I do agree that sex is just not between the legs. It’s throughout the whole individual and as a good anthropological dualist, I’d say it’s in our souls also.

    You can literally see this in a PET scan of a homosexual person’s brain (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617151845.htm). The symmetry resembles that of the opposite sex; it may inf fact be something of a misnomer to call them “homosexual.” It might be more accurate to call them “neurally interesexed,” and then distinguish between whether they are androphilic, gynephilic, or both.

    On what basis do we decide that such a person does not have the right to marry someone they are in love with and attracted to?

    On the basis of what marriage is. Marriage is an institution designed for the production and raising of children. The state does not give a darn if you and your spouse love one another. When my wife and I went to get our license, no one asked us “Now before you marry, do you love each other?” All they cared about is that we’re male, female, and of age. Why? Because that is how the state survives. Marriages take place and marriage is the habitat for the raising of children.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 10:24 am
  214. LM: “Can you be specific? Which record? And what kind of ballpark figure do you mean by “en masse”?

    Nick responded: “I am thinking of how Acts records thousands joining the church.”

    How about which verses in the Acts?

    Nick wrote:
    1. No. If not literal, it is not an embellishment either but an allusion the readers would have understood as referring to an event that happens at the death of a king. It would have been seen as apocalyptic and thus not to be taken literally.

    2. You really jump to embellishment first don’t you?
    Furthermore, even if it was an embellishment, I would not have a problem still. My case for the resurrection is not based on the gospels.”

    So 1. not literal, not embellishment, just an allusion.
    Or 2. If embellishment, no problem.

    Nice work. Continue like that, and I might convert. LOL.

    Nick wrote: ” What’s relevant is that Paul is passing on material of an event that was well-known.”

    Which Paul is that? Is it the one from Tarsus? Paul himself never says this. But Paul is also made to claim to be a “Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23.6) – which could not be true if Paul really was a Jew from the diaspora – there were no Pharisees in the diaspora!

    OTOH, Jerome (Commentaria in Epistolam ad Philemon 23.4) says Paul was from Galilee.

    OR, is it Paul the Roman citizen? Though Paul himself never claims this, but a zealously orthodox Jew meeting the civic requirements of Roman citizenship – such as honoring the state gods – is a most unlikely construct.

    OR, according to Epiphanius the Ebionites said that Paul had been the offspring of non-Jewish parents and had himself converted to Judaism while in Tarsus. He had never studied with Gamaliel or been a Pharisee but rather had attached himself to the Sadducee High Priest as some sort of henchman.

    Or, Paul who claimed to be a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, which reached decisions by voting: “I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” (Acts 26.10).

    So many Paul’s, so many to choose from!

    Nick wrote: “An oral tradition would not last in a community where eyewitnesses were there to dispute the facts. As soon as the “church” began saying this, anyone could say “Hey! That’s not so! We know 500 never claimed to see him alive!””

    But which church would that be? The one in Rome, nope, that one wasn’t established yet. The one in Corinth? Nope, that one was in the process of being established. The one in Ephesus? Neither that one. The one in Jerusalem? Was that already established? No one knows. If it was, was there a delegation following Paul to see if he was adhering to its teachings? Most likely not, and even it had, Paul had declared that his revelation from Christ put in above anyone of the original apostles, including Peter, the chosen leader by Jesus. So what is that church you are referring to?

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 1:13 pm
  215. @LM

    LM: “Can you be specific? Which record? And what kind of ballpark figure do you mean by “en masse”?

    Nick responded: “I am thinking of how Acts records thousands joining the church.”

    How about which verses in the Acts?

    Acts 2 mentions 3,000 joining in one day. The rest of the earlier chapters have more. Acts 5 speaks of the number being multiplied.

    Nick wrote:
    1. No. If not literal, it is not an embellishment either but an allusion the readers would have understood as referring to an event that happens at the death of a king. It would have been seen as apocalyptic and thus not to be taken literally.

    2. You really jump to embellishment first don’t you?
    Furthermore, even if it was an embellishment, I would not have a problem still. My case for the resurrection is not based on the gospels.”

    So 1. not literal, not embellishment, just an allusion.
    Or 2. If embellishment, no problem.

    Nice work. Continue like that, and I might convert. LOL.

    You brought it up. It’s a non-issue to me. I don’t need Matthew to prove my case. If Matthew is not inerrant, that doesn’t hurt the case for the resurrection.

    Which Paul is that? Is it the one from Tarsus? Paul himself never says this. But Paul is also made to claim to be a “Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23.6) – which could not be true if Paul really was a Jew from the diaspora – there were no Pharisees in the diaspora!

    OTOH, Jerome (Commentaria in Epistolam ad Philemon 23.4) says Paul was from Galilee.

    OR, is it Paul the Roman citizen? Though Paul himself never claims this, but a zealously orthodox Jew meeting the civic requirements of Roman citizenship – such as honoring the state gods – is a most unlikely construct.

    OR, according to Epiphanius the Ebionites said that Paul had been the offspring of non-Jewish parents and had himself converted to Judaism while in Tarsus. He had never studied with Gamaliel or been a Pharisee but rather had attached himself to the Sadducee High Priest as some sort of henchman.

    Or, Paul who claimed to be a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, which reached decisions by voting: “I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” (Acts 26.10).

    So many Paul’s, so many to choose from!

    Let me know when you’ve done your own thinking on the topic.

    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/endoftheline.html

    I don’t care for people who plagiarize like that. You’re simply using google instead of dealing with someone who has actually read the background material.

    But which church would that be? The one in Rome, nope, that one wasn’t established yet. The one in Corinth? Nope, that one was in the process of being established. The one in Ephesus? Neither that one. The one in Jerusalem? Was that already established? No one knows. If it was, was there a delegation following Paul to see if he was adhering to its teachings? Most likely not, and even it had, Paul had declared that his revelation from Christ put in above anyone of the original apostles, including Peter, the chosen leader by Jesus. So what is that church you are referring to?

    The term refers to the body of Christ and not to one particular church. In Galatians, Paul does state that he checked what he was saying to see if it was true with the apostles. He also never claimed to put himself above the apostles, including Peter.

    Again, let me know when you’ve done some reading on your own instead of just tossing out verbatim what Humphreys says.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 1:46 pm
  216. Nick wrote:” . I don’t need Matthew to prove my case.”

    Which case was that again? Oh wait, you don’t have a case, except to cherry-pick among the scant hearsays which ones conform to your presuppositions

    Nick wrote: ” I don’t care for people who plagiarize like that. You’re simply using google instead of dealing with someone who has actually read the background material.”

    The charges still stand, which Paul is it?

    And if you’re so steep into this subject, it wouldn’t take much for you to show your arguments in refuting the charges. Oh, wait, you don’t have any arguments. Or you’re just too lazy. Whichever, it doesn’t speak well for someone who portrays himself as someone so concerned about the truth.

    Nick wrote:”The term refers to the body of Christ and not to one particular church.”

    So using that in your previous post, it would now read:
    “As soon as the “the body of Christ” began saying this, anyone could say “Hey! That’s not so! We know 500 never claimed to see him alive!””

    Like all your posts so far, it makes real sense!!!

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 2:17 pm
  217. Nick wrote”Acts 2 mentions 3,000 joining in one day. The rest of the earlier chapters have more. Acts 5 speaks of the number being multiplied.”

    Which verses in Acts 2?

    >>Acts 5
    12 The apostles did many signs and miracles among the people. And they would all meet together on Solomon’s Porch.13 None of the others dared to join them, but all the people respected them.14 More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to the group of believers.15 The people placed their sick on beds and mats in the streets, hoping that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on them.16 Crowds came from all the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were bothered by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.<<

    This talks about healing, not conversions. Are you referring to other verses, which ones??

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 2:25 pm
  218. @LM

    Which case was that again? Oh wait, you don’t have a case, except to cherry-pick among the scant hearsays which ones conform to your presuppositions

    False. I have one based on scholarship, something Humphreys lost sight of a long time ago. When you’re ready to interact with real scholars, let me know.

    The charges still stand, which Paul is it?

    Show me you have any understanding whatsoever. I don’t dialogue on points I have no reason to think my opponent understands, especially since they’re so incompetent they have to peddle from someone else like it’s their own work.

    And if you’re so steep into this subject, it wouldn’t take much for you to show your arguments in refuting the charges. Oh, wait, you don’t have any arguments. Or you’re just too lazy. Whichever, it doesn’t speak well for someone who portrays himself as someone so concerned about the truth.

    Psssh. Humphreys doesn’t have an argument. He has to show a contradiction and so far, he hasn’t. It was not unheard of for someone outside of Rome to be born a Roman citizen.

    So using that in your previous post, it would now read:
    “As soon as the “the body of Christ” began saying this, anyone could say “Hey! That’s not so! We know 500 never claimed to see him alive!””
    Like all your posts so far, it makes real sense!!!

    No. Any member of the church is speaking on what the church believes and so anyone could contest the claim immediately.

    We have no attestation of someone denying that the apostles claimed to see the risen Christ.

    As for Acts, it was Acts 6 actually. Acts 5 speaks of great multitudes coming however. Acts 6 notes that some were even priests.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 2:39 pm
  219. Nick wrote:

    Marriage is an institution designed for the production and raising of children.

    Cop out.

    Posted by Ian | October 30, 2010, 4:44 pm
  220. @Ian.

    Excuse me. Saying just “cop out” doesn’t cut it. Some substance as to why you think such is needed.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 4:46 pm
  221. Nick wrote:” I have one based on scholarship, something Humphreys lost sight of a long time ago. When you’re ready to interact with real scholars, let me know.”

    That’s been your recurring answer, isn’t: you read real books from real scholars. It doesn’t seem to have helped you out tho’ as your pearls of wisdom have been totally absent so far.

    Nick wrote: ” I don’t dialogue on points I have no reason to think my opponent understands.”

    Suits yourself. Therefore we can conclude that Paul wasn’t a Roman citizen, wasn’t born in Tarsus, was the offspring of non-Jewish parents and had himself converted to Judaism while in Tarsus, had never studied with Gamaliel or been a Pharisee but rather had attached himself to the Sadducee High Priest as some sort of henchman, nevertheless was a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, persecuted savagely Christians, saw Jesus on his way to Damascusand converted to Christianity.

    Sounds like your idol, JP Holding, but I digress…

    Nick wrote:” As for Acts, it was Acts 6 actually. Acts 5 speaks of great multitudes coming however. Acts 6 notes that some were even priests.

    So it wasn’t act 2, neither act 5, but act 6. Do you ever get your facts straight?

    >>Acts 6

    1 The number of followers was growing.<>12 This upset the people, the elders, and the teachers of the law. They came and grabbed Stephen and brought him to a meeting of the leaders.

    13 They brought in some people to tell lies about Stephen, saying, “This man is always speaking against this holy place and the law of Moses.14 We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and that Jesus will change the customs Moses gave us.”

    51 Stephen continued speaking: “You stubborn people! You have not given your hearts to God, nor will you listen to him! You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you, just as your ancestors were.

    54 When the leaders heard this, they became furious. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at Stephen.

    58 They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him.<<

    So instead of thousands of Jews converting in Act 6, we have Jews so upset that Stephen wanted to convert them that they stoned him.

    Any other great idea you have?? BTW, brush up on your reading skills.

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 4:55 pm
  222. @LM

    That’s been your recurring answer, isn’t: you read real books from real scholars. It doesn’t seem to have helped you out tho’ as your pearls of wisdom have been totally absent so far.

    Sure has. Sent you scurrying so much you had to do a google search because you were too incompetent to think of an answer on your own. Obviously, no books nearby. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    Suits yourself. Therefore we can conclude that Paul wasn’t a Roman citizen, wasn’t born in Tarsus, was the offspring of non-Jewish parents and had himself converted to Judaism while in Tarsus, had never studied with Gamaliel or been a Pharisee but rather had attached himself to the Sadducee High Priest as some sort of henchman, nevertheless was a member of the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, persecuted savagely Christians, saw Jesus on his way to Damascusand converted to Christianity.

    Um. No. He who puts his armor on should not boast like one who takes it off. Sorry, but your only objection to Paul being a Roman citizen so far is “I don’t understand it!” You are aware someone or sometimes even towns could be granted citizenship based on a decision by the emperor, such as a heroic deed or some tribute?

    Sounds like your idol, JP Holding, but I digress…

    Nice try bub. JPH isn’t my avatar, but then, if you’re who I think you are, you were the one who made a dishonest review on Amazon and acted like it was someone else.

    And if I’m further right, you ran with your tail between your legs based on Aquinas and claim that logic can leads someone into error.

    So it wasn’t act 2, neither act 5, but act 6. Do you ever get your facts straight?

    Unlike you, when I make a mistake, I admit it. I haven’t seen you admit one on TWeb yet, and it’s the one I keep asking you about. I could put up that “valid argument” here and maybe your friends here might actually be able to convince you you don’t have a clue.

    So instead of thousands of Jews converting in Act 6, we have Jews so upset that Stephen wanted to convert them that they stoned him.

    Any other great idea you have?? BTW, brush up on your reading skills.

    Note that I said multitudes. The references in Acts talk about the great increase in the church. That’s the only point to be made.

    It’s amazing that we’ve gone this long and this is the only mistake you’ve managed to catch me on. Not surprised you want to throw a party at that one. Considering your track record so far, looks like you’ll take anything.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 5:02 pm
  223. Nick:

    Either/or fallacy anyone. Sorry Alex, but if you’re defining a word, you can’t use that word in the definition.

    Actually, you’re using the same word because you’re either dense or dishonest. Good != good. Morally good, not equal to beneficial. Morally good means acceptable under a moral framework, while morally bad means unacceptable under that same framework. Good (good, just capitalized here per proper grammar) means having some benefit or positive consequences, while bad means having negative consequences.

    Morally appropriate = good for me, my family, friends, etc…
    Morally inappropriate = bad for me, my family, friends, etc…

    You know, you’re probably the only person here who can’t understand that. I’m inclined to think it’s because you’re deliberately being dense because for you to use Natural Law to determine right from wrong you have to do the same equation. Please remember you said you didn’t need scripture to determine morality, that it was innate in us (put there by God, whatever that means and however it could possibly be determined or useful in any context). If you don’t use virtually the same formula for determining morally appropriate vs. inappropriate please enlighten us as to how you do so?

    Nick said,

    On the basis of what marriage is. Marriage is an institution designed for the production and raising of children.

    Then why is it legal to have children outside of marriage?

    Why is it legal to be married without having children?

    Why can’t homosexual couples simply adopt and raise children?

    I would simply disagree with your definition of marriage since legally it has nothing to do with children and everything to do with a legal contract between two parties and the gov’t making them effectively a single entity for several legal purposes (taxes, criminal and civil liability, medical decisions, etc…).

    Let’s be clear that I could care less what your definition of marriage is, I care about the legal definition in this context (since you disregarded my definition and substituted your own equally “personal” one).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 5:32 pm
  224. Nick said,

    Sure has. Sent you scurrying so much you had to do a google search because you were too incompetent to think of an answer on your own. Obviously, no books nearby. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    Wow, insulting much? Again, I’m surprised at the stupidity of this statement. Someone is incompetent for searching google but not for using a book? Neither represent your own knowledge.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 5:36 pm
  225. Nick wrote:

    Saying just “cop out” doesn’t cut it. Some substance as to why you think such is needed.

    Let’s see. You wrote:

    Marriages take place…

    Way to take a stand on a controversial issue, man.

    …and marriage is the habitat for the raising of children.

    Mmm-hmm. This habitat couldn’t involve two parents of the same sex, could it? Any particular reason why that wouldn’t be a possibility?

    Oh, because…

    Marriage is an institution designed for the production and raising of children.

    Designed by whom, might I ask? Whoever it might be–I can’t imagine–I don’t think He would mind so much about gay marriage. If the purpose He had in mind for it was producing and raising children, then considering that many straight couples cannot produce children together, and He’s fine with them getting hitched, I don’t understand what objection He would have to gay people getting married.

    Posted by Ian | October 30, 2010, 5:53 pm
  226. @Alex

    Actually, you’re using the same word because you’re either dense or dishonest.

    I am using the word, but I am not defining it by itself, which is what you’re doing.

    Good != good. Morally good, not equal to beneficial.

    Good = morally good.

    You don’t really see the problem here? I’m asking “What do you mean by the word “good”?

    “morally good.”

    “But you just used the word good to define itself. I want to know what it means in itself. Not types of good, but good itself.”

    Morally good means acceptable under a moral framework, while morally bad means unacceptable under that same framework.

    Which comes to the same problem. Why should I view something as acceptable? Why should I view it as unacceptable? Does good tell me something about the thing in itself or just an opinion of the thing?

    Good (good, just capitalized here per proper grammar) means having some benefit or positive consequences, while bad means having negative consequences.

    Again, when you use words like positive or negative, I’m still wondering what you mean for you’ve put in a value judgment once again.

    Morally appropriate = good for me, my family, friends, etc…
    Morally inappropriate = bad for me, my family, friends, etc…

    So the appropriate is the good and the good is the appropriate…

    You know, you’re probably the only person here who can’t understand that.

    Correct. I have a hard time understanding nonsense. I don’t understand defining words by using the words.

    I’m inclined to think it’s because you’re deliberately being dense because for you to use Natural Law to determine right from wrong you have to do the same equation.

    Um. No. I don’t define goodness by myself but by the objects instead.

    Please remember you said you didn’t need scripture to determine morality, that it was innate in us (put there by God, whatever that means and however it could possibly be determined or useful in any context).

    I don’t need Scripture, but at the same time I did not say morality is innate in us per se as if we know moral propositions right out, as I don’t believe in innate ideas, but we are hard-wired to recognize morality.

    If you don’t use virtually the same formula for determining morally appropriate vs. inappropriate please enlighten us as to how you do so?

    I start with Aristotle. Just read what he said at the start of the Nicomachean Ethics:

    “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.”

    This depends on substances having natures, a concept Aquinas later improved upon with his doctrine of being, something Aristotle sadly didn’t look at too much. Each thing aims for its own perfection based on its own nature and whatever helps it attain its nature is good.

    Of course, this would also mean that the final cause, the teleology has to be evoked. (Hence, a worldview that denies teleology has a hard time with morality) For Aristotle, the final cause for man was happiness, though he did not mean the modern idea. Happiness is not found in Prozac or Pleasure alone. (Nothing against medications for psychiatric reasons)

    For Aristotle, it meant finding the place you fit in the universe. He did not believe a child could be happy as a child does not have enough knowledge and wisdom. He also thought your happiness could be changed after you were dead (even though he denied an afterlife) seeing as you could have a descendant who would shame your honor. The ancients saw themselves as needing to fit themselves to the universe. Today, we believe in conforming the universe to us.

    Aristotle did think some aspects were important to happiness, such as pleasure and friendship (And friendship is the virtue he wrote on the most) and even some material goods. It also was not a feeling, although it could produce feelings.

    For Aquinas, the greatest good was the Beatific vision, seeing God, and then the doctrine of being comes in all the more. Each being seeks its own perfection and that which helps it reach its perfection is good. Hence, doing anything evil would not qualify so one could not go by a totally self-serving attitude as creatures are meant to be good and not evil. (Evil is not a substance but the lack of what is appropriate to a substance not being there)

    Since each being desires its own perfection, then it desires to be to the fullest of its ability and goodness is then equal to being. The greatest good of all would be that which is the most perfect in being, and this is what Aquinas is getting at in the fourth way, a way that applies only to the transcendentals, a point Dawkins failed to understand.

    Hence, when I look at goodness, I look at what a human being is and what a being is to be. I look at substances and how substances are to be used and how they are not to be used. (I do not mean drug substances. I am using Aristotlean terminology)

    I’ve said a mouthful so far so I will leave any clarification for the next post.

    Then why is it legal to have children outside of marriage?

    Personally, I think under ideal circumstances, a child should be raised by a mother and a father. Of course, we do not punish people for having sex outside of marriage. However, we do seek people to be responsible in their parenting and so we have child abuse laws. Unfortunately, we have more than enough evidence that children raised outside of a marriage are more likely to suffer later in life.

    Why is it legal to be married without having children?

    Because the state cannot force a couple to have children. Looking at marriage the way it is is to set what the main unit of society is to be regardless of whether or not that is fulfilled. My wife and I for instance are married and putting off having children until we’re more financially stable, such as when I have my Master’s.

    Why can’t homosexual couples simply adopt and raise children?

    Because mothers aren’t fathers and fathers aren’t mothers. Each brings something important to the parenting table. If one sex is going to be disregarded however, it’s going to be fathers. Men are being seen as more and more irrelevant and sadly, our growing prison population reflects the consequences of this. It is a tough society when young men don’t know who to call “Daddy” and have no male role models in their life other than those who ought not be role models.

    I would simply disagree with your definition of marriage since legally it has nothing to do with children and everything to do with a legal contract between two parties and the gov’t making them effectively a single entity for several legal purposes (taxes, criminal and civil liability, medical decisions, etc…).

    Legally, it has to do with recognizing the mother-father bond as the ideal state for raising children. (Again, sometimes tough things happen. I have a friend who is a widow for instance and thus a single mother and is an excellent mother to her children, though she would tell you it would definitely be better having a man around the house) But then, if you don’t think it’s good to have a man and a woman together, you tell me which parent you think is least necessary and we can dispose of.

    Let’s be clear that I could care less what your definition of marriage is, I care about the legal definition in this context (since you disregarded my definition and substituted your own equally “personal” one).

    Fine. Give a legal definition and your source for that. I am simply sticking with what we have found in numerous cultures. Thus far, I don’t know of any culture that does not have some rite like marriage and if there is one, it is definitely the exception.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 6:00 pm
  227. @Ian

    Mmm-hmm. This habitat couldn’t involve two parents of the same sex, could it? Any particular reason why that wouldn’t be a possibility?

    A very simple one. Men and women alone can’t make children. It takes a man and a woman both. Now if you want to say a man and a woman aren’t necessary to the parenting of a child, I have the same question for you as I do for Alex. Which sex is most disposable and why?

    Designed by whom, might I ask?

    That would be irrelevant. What is relevant at first is if it is designed. Does the word marriage have any metaphysical meaning to it? If so, then we dare not change it. If something is designed, it does not even matter whether we know what it is designed for or not. It is designed period. (And that is not just marriage. That is simply facts. If a thing is designed, it is designed and its being designed does not entail we know what it is designed for)

    Whoever it might be–I can’t imagine–I don’t think He would mind so much about gay marriage.

    And this conclusion is based on….?

    If the purpose He had in mind for it was producing and raising children, then considering that many straight couples cannot produce children together, and He’s fine with them getting hitched, I don’t understand what objection He would have to gay people getting married.

    Like this one couldn’t have been seen a mile away….

    The problem with infertile couples is a flaw that is within the system. If somehow that flaw could be fixed, the couple could have children. (Keep in mind, there was a day and age when it could not be known if someone was sterile) However, the problem with homosexual couples is that the system itself is flawed. No matter what you do with it, it won’t work. A man and a man and a woman and a woman can never produce children.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 6:04 pm
  228. Alex wrote: “No, a single good reason, even a few dozen good reasons are not enough to believe something as incredible as the resurrection.”

    Why not? The only reason you give the reject the resurrection here is that it’s too incredible for you to believe. But that’s just an argument from incredulity again. Atheists are always telling me that they value reason and logic. If I ever become an atheist, it’s not going to be because I fall for arguments from incredulity.

    Alex wrote: “You assume the resurrection happened because that proves the rest, which is wrong.”

    You’re putting words into my mouth. I made no assumption like that at all. If you disagree, then go ahead and demonstrate that I made that assumption.

    Alex wrote: “I didn’t say Jesus was a trickster god or an alien. I simply don’t buy the incredible assertion that he rose from the dead.”

    Ah, but you implied that those claims should be taken as seriously as the claims of Jesus if the resurrection really happened. Yet you gave no reason to think they should be taken seriously. I don’t take claims on blind faith. I need reasons to believe them.

    Alex wrote: “No”

    Actually, yes. Earlier you wrote this:

    Alex wrote: “The wild possibility that some preacher came back from the dead thousands of years ago isn’t taken seriously by many of us,”

    Where’s the argument? All you did was call it a wild possibility, and you said that many don’t take it seriously. That sure looks like an argument from incredulity and an appeal to popularity.

    Alex wrote: “actually you are making an argument from ignorance”

    But you haven’t given any reason to think that I made an argument from ignorance. You just asserted it. Should we just take your claims on blind faith? I need reasons to believe them.

    Alex wrote: “We do need extraordinary proof for such an extraordinary claim as the resurrection.”

    Why? Do you have any reasons at all, or are you just going to assert it? Should we take your claim on blind faith again? If you can’t give anyone a reason to believe this, then we should anyone believe you?

    Also, how do you define extraordinary proof?

    ”Darwin is not relevant to the discussion on morality or the resurrection”

    It is relevant when you bring up extraordinary evidence. Many would say that the evidence for evolution is extremely impressive in spite of the fact that all we have is ordinary evidence for it. We have no extraordinary evidence that evolution is true. But that’s fine because we don’t need extraordinary evidence in order to believe that evolution is a fact.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 30, 2010, 6:19 pm
  229. Nick wrote: “Sent you scurrying so much you had to do a google search because you were too incompetent to think of an answer on your own.”

    If you’re so competent on that subjet then present your arguments. And let the chips fall.

    Nick wrote :”Sorry, but your only objection to Paul being a Roman citizen so far is “I don’t understand it!”

    As far as I know, Paul never said he was a Roman citizen. If I’m wrong on this, show me a reference of his own writings where he stated that he was.

    Nick wrote:”You are aware someone or sometimes even towns could be granted citizenship based on a decision by the emperor, such as a heroic deed or some tribute?”

    Sure, but if that happened to Paul, where’s your source?

    Nick wrote:”Nice try bub. JPH isn’t my avatar, but then, if you’re who I think you are, you were the one who made a dishonest review on Amazon and acted like it was someone else.”

    I wish I knew what you are talking about. I wish YOU knew what you are talking about.

    Nick: “Unlike you, when I make a mistake, I admit it. I haven’t seen you admit one on TWeb yet, and it’s the one I keep asking you about. I could put up that “valid argument” here and maybe your friends here might actually be able to convince you you don’t have a clue.”

    Less you forget your mistake about Matthew and his living deads roaming around the streets of Jerusalem, and Pilate never heard of it, but he surely sent a document to Rome on the Jesus execution so that Tacitus could read it all about it 60 years after the facts.

    We can also add a third mistake in you contention that the 500 eye witnesses were always available. You wrote: “People could get around if they wanted to. Everyone managed to if they had to when a census was called. Paul is just saying that if someone wants to check the claim, there are eyewitnesses. It is not Paul’s fault if they were not with him nor does it disprove the truth of the claim if no one checks on it. ” Yet during Stephen’s trial, not one of your 500 eye witnesses showed up to defend their little friend. And this was taking place in Judea, in your 500 eye witnesses own backyard.

    Nick wrote:”It’s amazing that we’ve gone this long and this is the only mistake you’ve managed to catch me on.”

    No Nick, there are 3 mistakes so far you made. But whose counting? I’m not trying to get those gotcha’ moments. I’ve made my share of mistakes. But what I’m interested is the truth, and what you have to offer. Honestly you are disappointing after you declared a dozen posts before to Alex:”You take the Christ myth position. I’ve challenged you to take that position to NT scholarship and see what they say. You’ll be laughed at and for good reasons.” But so far you haven’t delivered. Perhaps you will do better from now on.

    Posted by LM | October 30, 2010, 6:45 pm
  230. @LM

    If you’re so competent on that subjet then present your arguments. And let the chips fall.

    Which I am doing, but I notice you do not deny the point. When you have nothing to say on your own, you go and you take another person’s *cough* work *cough* and act like it’s your own. It’s lazy and disingenuous not only to me, not only to Humphreys, but also to yourself.

    As far as I know, Paul never said he was a Roman citizen. If I’m wrong on this, show me a reference of his own writings where he stated that he was.

    The reference is in Acts. I don’t claim that Paul himself says it. However, I don’t know any scholar who thinks the Paul in Acts is different from the one who wrote the seven epistles attributed to him. The question of “Which Paul?” is nonsensical to them.

    Sure, but if that happened to Paul, where’s your source?

    I would be glad to do some digging at a library and see what I can find on the question. It is one that is debated amongst scholars, but you at this point can see that there is no necessary contradiction or falsehood involved.

    I wish I knew what you are talking about. I wish YOU knew what you are talking about.

    I know. If you’re not who I think you are, you’re awfully like him and your initials match.

    Less you forget your mistake about Matthew and his living deads roaming around the streets of Jerusalem, and Pilate never heard of it, but he surely sent a document to Rome on the Jesus execution so that Tacitus could read it all about it 60 years after the facts.

    Hard to call it a mistake since I never came down on any side on that issue. I still ponder if it was literal or apocalyptic. I think you presented valid points against it being literal. Good thing I never came down on either side.

    We can also add a third mistake in you contention that the 500 eye witnesses were always available. You wrote: “People could get around if they wanted to. Everyone managed to if they had to when a census was called. Paul is just saying that if someone wants to check the claim, there are eyewitnesses. It is not Paul’s fault if they were not with him nor does it disprove the truth of the claim if no one checks on it. ” Yet during Stephen’s trial, not one of your 500 eye witnesses showed up to defend their little friend. And this was taking place in Judea, in your 500 eye witnesses own backyard.

    Stephen was on trial for the charge of blasphemy. He was not on trial for believing in the resurrection nor is there any place I can think of except towards the end where he mentioned the resurrection and by then, since he had insulted the priests who were in charge, they stoned him.

    Having one of the witnesses there would do no good. After all, Stephen claimed to be a witness and they dismissed it. What makes you think another would make a difference to them?

    No Nick, there are 3 mistakes so far you made. But whose counting? I’m not trying to get those gotcha’ moments. I’ve made my share of mistakes. But what I’m interested is the truth, and what you have to offer. Honestly you are disappointing after you declared a dozen posts before to Alex:”You take the Christ myth position. I’ve challenged you to take that position to NT scholarship and see what they say. You’ll be laughed at and for good reasons.” But so far you haven’t delivered. Perhaps you will do better from now on.

    Nope. I’ve done great so far. I notice also you have not produced the NT scholars who do advocate the Christ-myth. Bultmann even, hardly a friend of Christianity, said that the doubt as to whether Jesus existed is unfounded and not worth refutation and no sane person would hold such a view.”

    You might as well tell geologists that the Earth is flat.

    Posted by apologianick | October 30, 2010, 6:54 pm
  231. Steve said,

    Why? Do you have any reasons at all, or are you just going to assert it? Should we take your claim on blind faith again? If you can’t give anyone a reason to believe this, then we should anyone believe you?

    Again, you’re being dense. I’m not making a claim, you are. You are asserting that thing X happened. Thing X has never been recorded in the history of humanity. It is, according to all known medical data, impossible. I’m simply saying that if you want me to believe something that has never been shown to be possible, you are required to prove it.

    You can replace X with anything and the requirements are the same. As to the rest of what you said, it’s extraneous and wrong.

    FYI, an argument from ignorance is based on not being able to disprove something and thus asserting that it must be true. That’s what you’re doing. You’re asserting that because I can’t disprove your premise, that it must be true. This is incorrect.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 7:51 pm
  232. @Nick, I’m not going to argue the merits of equal rights with someone obviously on the side of the bigots. Marriage was defined by law as between a man and a woman, and that definition was struck down by the court system as unconstitutional. Banning homosexuals from adopting has also been struck down as unconstitutional in several lower courts. Arguing against it is the same position “people” used to argue against freedom for slaves, equal rights for blacks, equal rights for women, etc…

    Every time there’s a new right to make sure everyone has, it’s the same groups saying no, I wonder why that is… But those groups have the best understanding of morality… Methinks there is something to be learned from this…

    As to the actual topic, perhaps that says everything about the morality of “God’s people” we need to say.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 9:31 pm
  233. Nick said,

    Nope. I’ve done great so far. I notice also you have not produced the NT scholars who do advocate the Christ-myth. Bultmann even, hardly a friend of Christianity, said that the doubt as to whether Jesus existed is unfounded and not worth refutation and no sane person would hold such a view.”

    You might as well tell geologists that the Earth is flat.

    Actually, there’s an ocean of difference between the two. The geologists can empirically prove the earth isn’t flat. When someone finds some physical evidence, you’ll be able to make this statement.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 30, 2010, 9:35 pm
  234. Alex wrote: “I’m not making a claim, you are.”

    You are making a claim. You claimed that we need extraordinary proof to beileve the resurrection. You made that claim more than once. I’ll quote you:

    Alex wrote: “The wild possibility that some preacher came back from the dead thousands of years ago isn’t taken seriously by many of us, as it shouldn’t be without extraordinary proof, which has not yet been provided.”

    Alex wrote: “We do need extraordinary proof for such an extraordinary claim as the resurrection.”

    I asked you why, and you didn’t give a single good reason why we need extraordinary proof. You also never defined it. What is extraordinary proof?

    Alex wrote: “I’m simply saying that if you want me to believe something that has never been shown to be possible, you are required to prove it.”

    Meh. You often won’t even give me a single reason to believe your baseless assertions.

    Alex wrote: “As to the rest of what you said, it’s extraneous and wrong.”

    Meh. It’s hard to take this comment seriously if you won’t even bother to show why you think it’s extraneous and wrong.

    Alex wrote: “FYI, an argument from ignorance is based on not being able to disprove something and thus asserting that it must be true. That’s what you’re doing. You’re asserting that because I can’t disprove your premise, that it must be true. This is incorrect.”

    I did not say that anywhere. If you’re so confident that I said that, then why didn’t you quote me where I said that? Your inability to back up your assertion with a quote speaks volumes.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 31, 2010, 1:14 am
  235. Nick wrote:”However, I don’t know any scholar who thinks the Paul in Acts is different from the one who wrote the seven epistles attributed to him. The question of “Which Paul?” is nonsensical to them.”

    I wasn’t debating if Paul in the Acts is the same guy who wrote the epistles or not. I brought up different info on Paul as it seems contradictory. Was he the son of a pharisee when there were no known pharisee in the diaspora, if he was from Tarsus? Did he actually cast a vote in the Sanhedrin? Did he really study under Gamaliel? Did he violently persecute the Christians before his conversion? Did he receive the Gospel not from any person, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ?

    Here’s more controversy:

    First visit to Jerusalem[Acts 9:26–27] “after many days” of Damascus conversion. However, first visit to Jerusalem[Gal. 1:18–20] three years after Damascus conversion[Gal. 1:17–18].

    Nick wrote:”Stephen was on trial for the charge of blasphemy. He was not on trial for believing in the resurrection nor is there any place I can think of except towards the end where he mentioned the resurrection and by then, since he had insulted the priests who were in charge, they stoned him.”

    Do you read your own stuff?
    >>Acts 6
    13 They brought in some people to tell lies about Stephen, saying, “This man is always speaking against this holy place and the law of Moses.14 We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and that Jesus will change the customs Moses gave us.”<<

    Stephen was clearly preaching Christian doctrine. You haven't made your case that Jews converted in your own words,"3000 in a single day. " In fact it looks like they, the people who were present at Jesus crucifixion, were resisting this new religion. It would make sense that Paul astutely read this situation and decided on his own to preach to the gentiles, as it turned out historically to have had more success. What's the old saying: A prophet is not recognized in his own land?

    Nick wrote:" I notice also you have not produced the NT scholars who do advocate the Christ-myth."

    I don't make it a habit to hang around with NT scholars. But there are plenty of people who have argued that Jesus is a composite figure of Joshua of Nun, John the Nazarene Prophet, James the Just, Simon Magus and various other literary characters. Mind you, the evidence for this is weak, but so is the evidence of the historicity of Jesus. According to traditional Church teaching the Gospels of John and Matthew were written by eyewitnesses, but a majority of modern critical biblical scholars no longer believe this is the case. Anothe major stumble, no archaeological findings to corrobate what's written in the gospels. So you're left with manuscripts of the gospels and the epistles, which are nothing more than hearsay.

    In the case of the resurrection… well, you have no case.

    Posted by LM | October 31, 2010, 5:39 am
  236. Steve said,

    You are making a claim. You claimed that we need extraordinary proof to beileve the resurrection. You made that claim more than once. I’ll quote you:

    I asked you why, and you didn’t give a single good reason why we need extraordinary proof. You also never defined it. What is extraordinary proof?

    Meh. You often won’t even give me a single reason to believe your baseless assertions.

    The position of disbelief is not a claim, thus there is no need to support it. It is the default position in science and logic. That is why I said you are being dense. When the relevant experts (medical in this case) have found enough evidence for something, I accept it.

    Until such time as we can point to instances of it having happened and having been appropriately recorded (well enough to be used as evidence in a court of law), I’m at liberty to treat the resurrection as a false claim, the same as the courts, or any scientist, would.

    Despite what you might like, this isn’t a claim of anything. Disbelief is not a claim. Asking for evidence for belief is not a claim. One doesn’t claim disbelief, one simply doesn’t hold belief. This is because it is fundamentally impossible to disprove the reality of activities (the resurrection).

    Oh, and as to the definition of argument from ignorance (from Wikipedia)
    Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or appeal to ignorance, is an informal logical fallacy. It asserts that a proposition is necessarily true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option: there is insufficient data and the proposition has not yet been proven to be either true or false.[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.

    Having said that, here is what you said:

    I did not say that anywhere. If you’re so confident that I said that, then why didn’t you quote me where I said that? Your inability to back up your assertion with a quote speaks volumes.

    Now, if you’re not attempting to argue the resurrection happened, you’re not doing this. But since you appear to be arguing that because we can’t disprove it, we should accept it as fact, we are led to believe you do accept it as fact and are arguing for that fact being true. Please state otherwise and we can clear this up as you simply being misunderstood as to how logic actually works and this just being a minor debate about that.

    Now, since this is unrelated to the actual topic of morality, I’m done arguing about the resurrection with you (either way). You believe it or not, I don’t. Since you’re not quite as good as Nick at dragging this off topic, he still takes the troll of the month award, but stick around and you might be able to out do him (depends on how many other people you can drag off topic).

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 31, 2010, 8:37 am
  237. Hi, LM,

    Does Acts say that Paul became a Pharisee in the Diaspora?

    Kind regards,

    FPV Pilot

    Posted by FPV Pilot | October 31, 2010, 9:15 am
  238. Nick wrote:

    if you want to say a man and a woman aren’t necessary to the parenting of a child, I have the same question for you as I do for Alex. Which sex is most disposable and why?

    That’s a classic example of Nick Logic. Here’s your line of reasoning:

    1. Both a man and woman aren’t necessary to the parenting of a child.
    2. ??????????
    3. One sex must be more disposable.

    Why on earth did you think of that? Why would that idea even occur to someone?

    What is relevant at first is if it is designed. Does the word marriage have any metaphysical meaning to it? If so, then we dare not change it.

    You’re abandoning your Natural Law theory here for fearful speculation. On what basis do we assign metaphysical meaning to marriage?

    And this conclusion is based on….?

    The reasons I outlined directly below my claim.

    However, the problem with homosexual couples is that the system itself is flawed.

    No. In both cases, the problem is that real life doesn’t fit the concept of marriage you’ve proposed. You say the production of children is a necessary aspect of marriage, but in the case of infertile and gay couples, the couple cannot produce children for the same reason: biology doesn’t allow it.

    Take for instance a hetero couple which cannot produce children because the wife is genetically XY with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, and has internal testes instead of ovaries.

    You’re fine with that marriage, I presume.

    The problem here, which I tried to explain to you already, is that you’re insisting upon gender as being an absolute determination of whether a marriage is valid or not, but gender doesn’t work that way in the real world.

    Posted by Ian | October 31, 2010, 9:24 am
  239. Ian said,

    The problem here, which I tried to explain to you already, is that you’re insisting upon gender as being an absolute determination of whether a marriage is valid or not, but gender doesn’t work that way in the real world.

    The same holds true for morality as well, hence the view that morality is subjective and must work under a framework here in the real world.

    Great comment Ian.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 31, 2010, 9:46 am
  240. FPV Pilot wrote:”Does Acts say that Paul became a Pharisee in the Diaspora?”

    In Acts 23:6, Paul, arrested and on trial before the Sanhedrin, admitted that he was a Pharisee and and his father was a pharisee.

    Posted by LM | October 31, 2010, 1:20 pm
  241. @FPV Pilot

    If Paul was born in Tarsus, and we don’t know if that is true, then he would be a pharisee born in the diaspora, and we know that there were no pharisee from the diaspora. However, some authors have said that Paul was born in Galilee, in this case he would not be born in the diaspora.

    Where Paul was born has been a guessing game from the beginning of the early church.

    Posted by LM | October 31, 2010, 1:27 pm
  242. Androgen insensitivity syndrome is a condition where receptors for androgens (masculinizing hormones) are either repressed or completely absent. It can occur in individuals with XX or XY, but it is especially relevant in XY individuals.

    Depending on the severity of receptor insensitivity, varying degrees of nebulous external masculine characteristics. In individuals with completely insensitive receptors, there is no masculinization at all. They go through puberty appearing indistinguishable from a female, with breasts, a “vaginal canal” (EDIT: Removed an aside here because it was wrong), and what appear to be ovaries, but are actually testes that never descended.
    Males with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

    The thing is, these are males. They have testes and XY chromosomes. But they look, feel, and act female. But they’re male.

    I’m curious why the god Jesus didn’t think to include a disclaimer warning us of androgen insensitivity syndrome and giving us instructions. Because under the law, these people cannot marry men because it would be gay marriage. But does that mean they have to marry women? If they’re functionally female, and just don’t have a uterus, wouldn’t that be like lesbianism?

    You would think the all-knowing creator of the universe could have given us a little more instructions, since male and female are not as clear cut as the Bible authors seemed to think

    Posted by hambydammit | October 31, 2010, 1:45 pm
  243. @Alex: Exactly. Thank you.

    @Hamby: It may soon be possible for a woman with CAIS to actually impregnate another woman. Since their testes are internal, the body temperature is ordinarily too high for sperm to survive, but science is working on a way around that snafu. I wonder what Systematic Theology would have to say about that?

    One nitpick: the vagina in a CAIS woman isn’t an inverted penis. We all start out with vaginas, but testosterone causes our labia to fuse together to form the scrotum (the penis is basically an enlarged clitoris).

    Posted by Ian | October 31, 2010, 7:54 pm
  244. One nitpick: the vagina in a CAIS woman isn’t an inverted penis. We all start out with vaginas, but testosterone causes our labia to fuse together to form the scrotum (the penis is basically an enlarged clitoris).

    You’re right. Thanks for catching my mistake.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 31, 2010, 8:02 pm
  245. Alex wrote: “The position of disbelief is not a claim, thus there is no need to support it. It is the default position in science and logic.”

    This helps me. I disbelieve the claim that we need extraordinary proof in order to believe extraordinary claims. Thus I have no need to support my position. The person making that claim that we need extraordinary proof is the one that needs to support their claim.

    Alex wrote: “Despite what you might like, this isn’t a claim of anything. Disbelief is not a claim. Asking for evidence for belief is not a claim. One doesn’t claim disbelief, one simply doesn’t hold belief.”

    When I said you made a claim, I wasn’t talking about your atheism or your agnosticism. I was talking about your claim that we need extraordinary proof in order to believe extraordinary claims. This is extremely obvious, so it surprises me that you have a hard time understanding this.

    Alex wrote: “Now, if you’re not attempting to argue the resurrection happened, you’re not doing this. ”

    Seriously, can you read? I’m not attempting to argue the resurrection happened. I was refuting your fallacious arguments. Even a skeptic could have made some of the same comments that I made.

    Alex wrote: “But since you appear to be arguing that because we can’t disprove it, we should accept it as fact, we are led to believe you do accept it as fact and are arguing for that fact being true.”

    It’s funny how I asked you to back up your claim with a quote, and you never provided a quote to back up what you are saying. The only quote you provided was a quote where I asked you to back up your claims with a quote. That speaks volumes. All you’re doing is making baseless assertions (again). It’s not my fault that you can’t support your assertions.

    Alex: “Since you’re not quite as good as Nick at dragging this off topic, he still takes the troll of the month award, but stick around and you might be able to out do him (depends on how many other people you can drag off topic).”

    No thanks. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked to a skeptic that had this much trouble understanding what I’m saying. No matter how hard I try to dumb it down for you, you still seem lost. I prefer to have a discussion with a skeptic that can read.

    Posted by Steve007 | October 31, 2010, 8:38 pm
  246. Steve said,

    This helps me. I disbelieve the claim that we need extraordinary proof in order to believe extraordinary claims. Thus I have no need to support my position. The person making that claim that we need extraordinary proof is the one that needs to support their claim.

    That’s good to know. We’re all done then. If you can’t see how insane this is, then I’m not sure what else to say.

    No thanks. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked to a skeptic that had this much trouble understanding what I’m saying. No matter how hard I try to dumb it down for you, you still seem lost. I prefer to have a discussion with a skeptic that can read.

    I apologize for being so dense. I just would never have guessed someone could say something as insane as not needing extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | October 31, 2010, 9:31 pm
  247. That’s good to know. We’re all done then. If you can’t see how insane this is, then I’m not sure what else to say.

    Yep. How can you even have a conversation when the foundations are this disparate? If you’ll believe anything I tell you so long as I have unconvincing evidence, then… well…

    Would you like to buy a bridge?

    Posted by hambydammit | October 31, 2010, 11:44 pm
  248. Hi, LM,

    I appreciate your responses. However, I still desire some clarification. Does Acts say that Paul became a Pharisee in the Diaspora? How do you know that no Pharisees lived in the Diaspora?

    Thanks,

    FPV Pilot

    Posted by FPV Pilot | November 1, 2010, 12:13 am
  249. Steve wrote:

    I disbelieve the claim that we need extraordinary proof in order to believe extraordinary claims.

    *rolls d20*

    You fail. Logic hits you for…yikes. How many hit points do you have?

    Posted by Ian | November 1, 2010, 5:37 am
  250. @FPV Pilot

    IF he was born in Tarsus, again let me emphasize that Paul did not make that claim, but most christians believed that he was born in that city, Tarsus was outside the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin from Judea. He couldn’t have been a pharisee voting in the Sanhedrin, a claim that Paul made. And this was controversial. It was Jerome in the 4th century that claimed Paul was born in Galilee, which if true would resolved the controversy, and it did for a while. But later on, it was pointed out that there is no source that we know of that would justify why Jerome made that claim.

    Posted by LM | November 1, 2010, 6:13 am
  251. cptpineapple said: “Yes, I do, I was a devout Christian until university”

    Doesn’t mean you understand Christian theology. Plenty of Chrisitians misunderstand Christian theology, heck even plenty of ministers and pastors misunderstand it never mind members of the congregation. Just look at Joel Osteen as an example.

    Cptpineapple said: “This also ignores innate morality. If I won’t let others ignore it, why would I let you?

    Any look into a social psychology book will reveal things like reciprical altruism and in group cohesion.”

    This doesn’t change my point however. Human beings themselves are the ones who decide morality if God doesn’t exist. Serial murderers still exist you know. This “reciprical altruism” that you talk about is just a genetic tendency and it doesn’t apply as a universial or objective standard.

    Somy point remains, any form of majority opinion on the subject is just an argument by popularity which means that something isn’t really right or wrong, it’s just that a majority of people just don’t like it.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 1, 2010, 8:41 am
  252. Ian Said: “*rolls d20*

    You fail. Logic hits you for…yikes. How many hit points do you have?”
    ———————————————————————————————————-

    Here is the thing about ECREE (Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence)

    How do you define what extraordinary evidence is?

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 1, 2010, 8:59 am
  253. FPV Pilot: “How do you know that no Pharisees lived in the Diaspora?”

    If Paul was born in the diaspora and was a pharisee, he would be the only one we know from the historical record. There are no other such cases.

    Posted by LM | November 1, 2010, 9:38 am
  254. Darth Obvious said,

    This doesn’t change my point however. Human beings themselves are the ones who decide morality if God doesn’t exist. Serial murderers still exist you know. This “reciprical altruism” that you talk about is just a genetic tendency and it doesn’t apply as a universial or objective standard.

    If God does exist, human beings are still the ones who decide morality, at least until you can show some proof that you have an understanding what his definition of morality is.

    There are no universal or objective standards. Name something that is universally “good” or “bad” and I can show a scenario where it’s the opposite.

    Darth Obvious said,

    Somy point remains, any form of majority opinion on the subject is just an argument by popularity which means that something isn’t really right or wrong, it’s just that a majority of people just don’t like it.

    And how do you define what is right or wrong then? Like is such an ineffective term. More appropriate would be whether is has benefit or cost to the majority of people. And whether the cost is outweighed by the benefit.

    All of this is based on subjective morality, which is the only system shown to actually work in the reality we live in. If you can show how objective morality works in our reality, please do so.

    Darth Obvious said,

    Here is the thing about ECREE (Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence)

    How do you define what extraordinary evidence is?

    It would depend on the extraordinary claim, but simply stated: The evidence for the claim must outweigh the evidence against.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 1, 2010, 9:43 am
  255. On an unrelated note (sorry, can’t help myself), Darth Obvious said,

    Doesn’t mean you understand Christian theology. Plenty of Chrisitians misunderstand Christian theology, heck even plenty of ministers and pastors misunderstand it never mind members of the congregation. Just look at Joel Osteen as an example.

    How do you determine who properly understands Christian theology? You can’t ask your god Jesus, so…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 1, 2010, 9:46 am
  256. Hi, LM,

    Thank you again for taking time to respond to my post. However, I still desire additional elaboration. Does Acts say that Paul became a Pharisee in the Diaspora?

    Also, I want to make certain that I understand your answer to my second question regarding how you know that no Pharisees dwelt in the Diaspora. Are you saying that no Pharisees could have dwelt in the Diaspora, because all Pharisees were always occupied with overseeing legal matters in Judea?

    In gratitude,

    FPV Pilot

    Posted by FPV Pilot | November 1, 2010, 11:31 am
  257. FPV Pilot wrote: “Thank you again for taking time to respond to my post. However, I still desire additional elaboration. Does Acts say that Paul became a Pharisee in the Diaspora?”

    Thanks, Paul only says that he was a pharisee, and his father was a pharisee. The controversy is about where he was born. No historian has been able to pinpoint that.

    FPV Pilot wrote: “Are you saying that no Pharisees could have dwelt in the Diaspora, because all Pharisees were always occupied with overseeing legal matters in Judea?”

    We have no historical record of anyone being a pharisee from the diaspora. And certainly, if Paul was part of the Sanhedrin, then you are correct, Paul would have had to present in Jerusalem to conduct legal, political and religious activities. Beside his controversial claim that he voted against christians in the Sanhedrin, we have no other detail of these activities that normally a pharisee would have conducted. That’s where the controversy lies.

    To put in contemporary terms. Say you were born in London, and then what is known of you is that you voted in the US senate on a certain matter. There should be details of your life about how you became a US citizen, how you became a senator, etc. We have similar problems with Paul.

    Posted by LM | November 1, 2010, 1:17 pm
  258. Alex Said: “If God does exist, human beings are still the ones who decide morality, at least until you can show some proof that you have an understanding what his definition of morality is.”

    Actually no. It’s about truth claims. Under objective morality it can made as a statement of being true. If God is creator and has created us for certain reasons/purposes, some of those being moral reasons/purposes, then those moral reasons/purposes would be true. i.e. If God created us with purpose that X is wrong, then it would be true that we were created for X to be wrong.

    Or quite simply, you cannot say that the author of reality is wrong about reality. Reality would exist as a matter of fact because the author of reality had his intentions for reality. Those intentions would be known as true intentions.

    Also your objection is unwarranted because it boils down as this in formal format.

    1) X is true only if humans know X is true
    2) Humans don’t know that X is true
    3) Therefore X is not true.

    Since when were humans the authors of any truth claims about the Universe? If humans decided that the Sun revolved around the Earth, would the Sun actually revolve around the Earth?

    “There are no universal or objective standards. Name something that is universally “good” or “bad” and I can show a scenario where it’s the opposite.”

    How about abortion? Apparently all the athiests say it is ok to have an abortion no matter the reason. Can you give me any circumstance to say that abortion is wrong?

    Funny how you atheists work. You say that there are no “universial” morals, of course you use your own defintion of this and not the Christians while you maintain that abortion is universially acceptable for whatever reason. Whoops.

    Also you don’t use our defintions as I said above. An objective standard for morality is a claim about morality that is a true statement. In other words it is a matter of a claim to truth rather than subjectivity.

    As for Universality, we mean that these claims apply to everyone under the same circumstances, we do not say that things are wrong despite circumstances.

    Even the Bible teaches situational ethics, and that includes the ten commandments. For instance the law thou shalt not commit adultery includes the situation that you are having sex with a woman you are not married to. See, situations are considered in moral ethics. Sorry but we don’t play using your false strwmen of our positions. We would rather that you represent them fairly.

    Alex Said “And how do you define what is right or wrong then? Like is such an ineffective term. More appropriate would be whether is has benefit or cost to the majority of people. And whether the cost is outweighed by the benefit.

    All of this is based on subjective morality, which is the only system shown to actually work in the reality we live in. If you can show how objective morality works in our reality, please do so.”

    Thanks, you confirmed what I just said. Humans decide their own moral issues without God. None of this actually challenges my statement.

    As for shown how objective morality works, well I explained that above. It’s about truth claims as to why we are here.

    Alex Said: “It would depend on the extraordinary claim, but simply stated: The evidence for the claim must outweigh the evidence against.”

    You haven’t answered my question here. I will restate it more clearly, perhaps I didn’t explain it enough.

    What type of evidence do you consider as “extraordinary evidence”? What does it look like?

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 1, 2010, 1:32 pm
  259. How do you define what extraordinary evidence is?

    That’s a good question. In science, there generally aren’t “extraordinary” claims that often. Occasionally, someone puts one forward in cosmology or theoretical physics. String theory, M theory, and things like that could probably be considered extraordinary. And they’ll be considered unproven until something remarkable happens, like observational verification of another universe.

    Similarly, a claim of something as extraordinary as a resurrection from complete brain death would require either a scientifically observed case of such a resurrection, or a new biological discovery that would change our understanding of the finality of brain death, or something like that.

    For a claim that a god does miracles, well… we’d have to see something that was miraculous.

    So that’s basically how it works. If you claim something extraordinary, you must provide something equally extraordinary, in the same category, as proof.

    Posted by hambydammit | November 1, 2010, 2:50 pm
  260. Darth Obvious, it’s becoming quite clear that you simply want to argue. You’re not making any rational arguments, only objections to whatever is said.

    I (and most others here) believe that making moral judgments using any external source is flawed and results in judgments that allow (or even encourage) harmful behavior to each other (gay bashing, slavery, abuse of children, emotional self torture, etc…). You either agree or disagree (I cannot tell as you go back and forth on what your definition of several key terms are).

    I will gladly debate your views when you can actually make them clear to the rest of us (and stick to them).

    FYI, your definition of objective morality is not clear (as to me it implies something like this, which I do not necessarily agree with. I disagree with such a position but do not necessarily have an issue with it (as it still implies human centric views on morality and would easily allow us to ignore whole handedly the bible and other such dogmatic systems of morality in favor of more scientifically determined frameworks).

    However, you give the impression that you believe something like this at times in your responses. I do not believe that absolutism is at all workable in reality. To hold such a view as absolutism usually requires reference to “God” or the like as the author of the moral framework.

    Personally, I believe in something along these lines as the best model for determining morality. It allows complete latitude until actual benefit/harm can be determined for any given action. This seems likely to be the most scientifically driven methodology for developing a moral framework.

    If you are arguing in favor of another methodology, please provide links to where I may review it (as it may very well be enlightening and lead to new trains of thought).

    The singular point I will make is in response to this (said by Darth Obvious):

    How about abortion? Apparently all the athiests say it is ok to have an abortion no matter the reason. Can you give me any circumstance to say that abortion is wrong?

    When the child can be delivered successfully. Up until that point, it is not a child but is an internal parasite.

    Funny how you atheists work. You say that there are no “universial” morals, of course you use your own defintion of this and not the Christians while you maintain that abortion is universially acceptable for whatever reason. Whoops.

    Firstly, I don’t remember anyone here claiming anything of the sort. Secondly, you should stick to what has actually been said if you’re going to try being insulting about it.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 1, 2010, 3:17 pm
  261. hambydammit wrote: “Yep. How can you even have a conversation when the foundations are this disparate? If you’ll believe anything I tell you so long as I have unconvincing evidence, then… well…

    Would you like to buy a bridge?”

    That doesn’t follow from what I said. I didn’t say that I only needed unconvincing evidence to believe in the resurrection.

    Posted by Steve007 | November 1, 2010, 6:31 pm
  262. Alex Said: “Darth Obvious, it’s becoming quite clear that you simply want to argue. You’re not making any rational arguments, only objections to whatever is said.

    Oh yeah, sorry I forgot that you guys claimed the patent on rationality years ago /sarcasm

    Since I’m being irrational perhaps you can tell me what rules of logic I am breaking and why.

    Alex Said: “I (and most others here) believe that making moral judgments using any external source is flawed and results in judgments that allow (or even encourage) harmful behavior to each other (gay bashing, slavery, abuse of children, emotional self torture, etc…). You either agree or disagree (I cannot tell as you go back and forth on what your definition of several key terms are).”

    Oh yeah of course, using your own subjective standard of morality must be the answer because that way if you do something bad you can always rational away your misbehaviour.

    Listen, do you really think that when people do something wrong they own up to it?

    Of course not because you change you own standards so you can’t be wrong. That’s why you never think you’re wrong.

    Alex Said: “I will gladly debate your views when you can actually make them clear to the rest of us (and stick to them).”

    In other words, what I’m telling you is going way over your head. Well I did warn you that this would happen when you debate things that you clearly haven’t studied and don’t understand.

    Alex Said “FYI, your definition of objective morality is not clear (as to me it implies something like this, which I do not necessarily agree with. I disagree with such a position but do not necessarily have an issue with it (as it still implies human centric views on morality and would easily allow us to ignore whole handedly the bible and other such dogmatic systems of morality in favor of more scientifically determined frameworks).

    However, you give the impression that you believe something like this at times in your responses. I do not believe that absolutism is at all workable in reality. To hold such a view as absolutism usually requires reference to “God” or the like as the author of the moral framework.”

    All this talk and you pretty much say nothing. I don’t think you actually understand what I am telling you. It’s quite simple really.

    Lets use Bill Gates and Windows as an example. Bill Gates creates Windows as an operating system for PC’s. Now if Bill Gates didn’t have this notion then Windows would not exist. at least until someone else does. The existence of Windows is solely in existence because of Bill Gates. He is the creator. As creator he has designed Windows with a purpose and he has lots of functions for Windows to perform. This purpose for WIndows is objective. It is a true statement to say that Windows is a PC operating system. It is the reason why it exists and a reason for existence is what is termed as a purpose.

    Now lets say that a crane company wanted to use Windows as a crane operating system and they slightly modified it so it would operate a crane only. Well this is a subjective purpose for Windows. It doesn’t matter what this crane company thinks, their prupose for this software will NOT change the fact that it exists. It has no outcome on it.

    Now lets say that this crane company then decide to evaluate a brand new software from scratch instead to operate their cranes, lets call this software Crane X. They have a decision to make in regards to wether they make this software or not. Their decision will decide if this software then exists or not. If they go ahead and make the software then they have given this software (Crane X) an objective purpose. A true reason for it’s existence that without it would not exist.

    Now if you replace Bill Gates with God and if you replace Windows with human beings then you have a comparable situation with the tems applied above. With atheism their is no intention for our creation and therefore we have no objective purpose. We only have subjective purposes that we think up ourselves.

    Alex Said: “Personally, I believe in something along these lines as the best model for determining morality. It allows complete latitude until actual benefit/harm can be determined for any given action. This seems likely to be the most scientifically driven methodology for developing a moral framework.”

    The trouble with the benefit and harm model is some instances can benefit some people while harming others.

    For instance, lets use the global market as an example. America is one of the richest nations in the world. However some other nations are quite poor with little to offer. Now money is a man made invention no matter what way you look at it but while some countries have the benefits to be able to provide their citizens with the goods and food they require, other nations will have trouble providing their citizens with their needs, even basic needs.

    Of course you have nothing against this system. After all you are currently benefiting from it. You however neglect the harm that it may cause others. Don’t get me wrong, I think that both of us are in the same boat here since we both belong to western socities, but it can’t be denied that we are reaping the benefits while others may suffer.

    Alex Said: “If you are arguing in favor of another methodology, please provide links to where I may review it (as it may very well be enlightening and lead to new trains of thought).”

    I would suggest perhaps some books by philosophers instead. Basically I am a believer in moral nihilism in the case if God doesn’t exist. I suppose the moral argument is one reason why I believe in God. My moral/purpose argument for God is a bit like a pascal wagers effort where I argue it is better for us to believe becauseit has the possibility of being true while without it I believe that morality cannot be true.

    You mentoned altruism earlier on. I am not a believer in that. Altruism did not exist 4000 years ago when tribes were killing each other on a regular basis. You may wish to include the Israelites in that if you want but God didn’t exactly have much to work with back then. Thats the reason for the moral progression from OT to NT. Remembering that God works in covenants then the peoples interests are always represented to some degree, since God is a God of free will he never forces people to accept his truth. He always offers them the opportunity to turn it down and he always works in agreements or covenants as they are known.

    Alex Said: “When the child can be delivered successfully. Up until that point, it is not a child but is an internal parasite.”

    So you believe it is universally OK to do this then? Yes?

    Also it not a parasite. That’s just plain ridiculous. Do you really want to argue that every thing that carry a child is carrying a parasite? So do dogs carry parasites?

    Actually some of your own atheists and agnostics argue against abortion. It is not a religious issue. Here is a paper from some of your own that demonstrates that a fetus is not a parasite.

    http://www.l4l.org/library/notparas.html

    Alex Said: “Firstly, I don’t remember anyone here claiming anything of the sort. Secondly, you should stick to what has actually been said if you’re going to try being insulting about it.”

    I was being funny/sarcastic actually. Not really insuling. I do however find it funny when you say “stick to what has actually been said” when for some reason you thought that I believed in a morality that didn’t change according to circumstances. Of course it changes according to circumstances and you can even find this in the Bible. Otherwise you can just change any circumstance you want.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 1, 2010, 6:44 pm
  263. @Ian

    Nick wrote:

    if you want to say a man and a woman aren’t necessary to the parenting of a child, I have the same question for you as I do for Alex. Which sex is most disposable and why?

    That’s a classic example of Nick Logic. Here’s your line of reasoning:

    1. Both a man and woman aren’t necessary to the parenting of a child.
    2. ??????????
    3. One sex must be more disposable.

    Nice straw man. My stance is that marriage is the building unit of society because marriage sets the idea of what is best for the raising of children. If you don’t think a mother and father is the best, then do tell which is. Do you want to go with Plato’s Republic system or something else?

    Why on earth did you think of that? Why would that idea even occur to someone?

    It already has. Why are there so many studies going on about the importance of fathers? The reason I know it’s going on is because I actually do pay attention to the debate and interact with both sides.

    You’re abandoning your Natural Law theory here for fearful speculation. On what basis do we assign metaphysical meaning to marriage?

    No abandonment of Natural Law. I have no idea how you got that because this is based on Natural Law. This is also not fearful speculation. What do we base this meaning on? We base it on reality. We see if marriage really is something or if it isn’t. If it isn’t, make it whatever you want. Marry your dog for all I care. If a family really is something, then we cannot change that no matter what. We may think we are, but we are simply working against reality.

    No. In both cases, the problem is that real life doesn’t fit the concept of marriage you’ve proposed. You say the production of children is a necessary aspect of marriage, but in the case of infertile and gay couples, the couple cannot produce children for the same reason: biology doesn’t allow it.

    No. I have never stated it is necessary for every marriage to have children to be a marriage. However, marriage is necessary for the raising of children. That’s the only point I’m claiming. The family is the basic unit of society and that is built on the idea of the man and woman coming together in a stable unit for the producing and raising a children. Even if they don’t raise children themselves, they are still recognizing the man-woman unit.

    Take for instance a hetero couple which cannot produce children because the wife is genetically XY with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, and has internal testes instead of ovaries.

    You’re fine with that marriage, I presume.

    I’m fine with a friend’s marriage where he got a vasectomy early on or prior to the marriage because they knew they didn’t want children, but they wanted to work together in ministry and build one another up that way.

    The problem here, which I tried to explain to you already, is that you’re insisting upon gender as being an absolute determination of whether a marriage is valid or not, but gender doesn’t work that way in the real world.

    Actually, sex does work that way in the real world. It’s been that way for thousands of years in societies and been proven by man and woman being the unit that fits together and can produce children.

    Posted by Nick | November 2, 2010, 6:55 pm
  264. Hi, LM,

    I think I completely understand what you are saying now. Your example regarding our time period was quite helpful, so thank you for supplying it. Do you think that Paul could have joined the Sanhedrin if he grew up as a Pharisee in Jerusalem?

    In gratitude,

    FPV Pilot

    Posted by FPV Pilot | November 2, 2010, 11:21 pm
  265. Nick said,

    No. I have never stated it is necessary for every marriage to have children to be a marriage. However, marriage is necessary for the raising of children. That’s the only point I’m claiming. The family is the basic unit of society and that is built on the idea of the man and woman coming together in a stable unit for the producing and raising a children. Even if they don’t raise children themselves, they are still recognizing the man-woman unit.

    If it’s not necessary for a marriage to produce children, then what is the problem with allowing homosexual couples to get “married”. What is the difference between a homosexual couple without children and a heterosexual couple without children (from a marriage is to produce and raise children point of view)?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 8:23 am
  266. FPV Pilot wrote: “Do you think that Paul could have joined the Sanhedrin if he grew up as a Pharisee in Jerusalem?”

    That is a very debatable thing. Whenever a member of the Sanhedrin is mentioned in the bible, it is very often accompanied by the attribute “elder”. For instances,

    -Go, and gather the elders of Israel together ((Ex 3: 16 )
    -Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence. ( Dt 19: 12 )

    And there are numerous of such quotations in the bible. According to what we can say from Paul’s writings, he would have been a youngster when he claimed that he casted a vote in the Sanhedrin presumably in the death sentence of St-Stephen, and that is very unlikely.

    Posted by LM | November 3, 2010, 8:52 am
  267. @Alex.

    Oh. I thought you weren’t talking to bigots. Last I recall, I wrote out a long post on how I arrive at my moral beliefs and you just said you weren’t talking to a bigot.

    So why is it that you refuse to answer me but I should suddenly answer you now even though you think I’m a “bigot”?

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 10:06 am
  268. @Nick, I’m hoping that given the chance, they will prove themselves not bigots. I guess I was wrong.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 12:08 pm
  269. @Alex

    And I always hoped that people who wanted to talk about evidence would reply when it was given and would be open to checking valid and scholarly resources. Of course, I’ve once again been given evidence that that’s not the case.

    Of course, bigotry is a good way to avoid examining a position. You can concentrate on the supposed attitude instead of the data presented. I’m guessing the homosexual blogger of “Gays Defend Marriage” is a bigot in your eyes as well.

    I also suppose that meanwhile, you’ll go out and tell others how we ought to be tolerant of those who disagree with us.

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 12:24 pm
  270. Nick said,

    And I always hoped that people who wanted to talk about evidence would reply when it was given and would be open to checking valid and scholarly resources. Of course, I’ve once again been given evidence that that’s not the case.

    I don’t feel like you presented any evidence that warranted further investigation. When you provide some, I will follow up with research on it.

    and,

    Of course, bigotry is a good way to avoid examining a position. You can concentrate on the supposed attitude instead of the data presented. I’m guessing the homosexual blogger of “Gays Defend Marriage” is a bigot in your eyes as well.

    I have examined your position. I just find it to be a position of bigotry. If not, please feel free to convince me otherwise by actually answering questions.

    and,

    I also suppose that meanwhile, you’ll go out and tell others how we ought to be tolerant of those who disagree with us.

    I will. I don’t wish to block you from speaking your mind, or in anyway reduce your ability to “preach” what you believe. I’m not sure how I’ve been intolerant of you.

    I apologize for the waste of your time. If you do not think I’ve researched your positions and evidence enough to warrant actually answering my questions, feel free to ignore me.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 1:01 pm
  271. @Alex

    I don’t feel like you presented any evidence that warranted further investigation. When you provide some, I will follow up with research on it.

    Translation: It doesn’t matter what every scholar of ancient history at a university says or that scholarly consensus in this field is that Jesus existed, there’s no reason to believe that he did.

    I have examined your position. I just find it to be a position of bigotry. If not, please feel free to convince me otherwise by actually answering questions.

    Which I did. I responded to a post asking how I determined right from wrong with a long argument based on Aristotle and Aquinas. The reply I got was that it’s not worth the time to dialogue with bigots.

    I will. I don’t wish to block you from speaking your mind, or in anyway reduce your ability to “preach” what you believe. I’m not sure how I’ve been intolerant of you.

    That’s right. Saying your opponent is a bigot just screams of tolerance.

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 1:14 pm
  272. Nick said,

    That’s right. Saying your opponent is a bigot just screams of tolerance.

    I tolerate your bigotry, which is more than bigots do to homosexuals. If you don’t like being called a bigot, stop being one and/or actually answer the question asked instead of deflecting.

    The question was,

    Nick said,

    No. I have never stated it is necessary for every marriage to have children to be a marriage. However, marriage is necessary for the raising of children. That’s the only point I’m claiming. The family is the basic unit of society and that is built on the idea of the man and woman coming together in a stable unit for the producing and raising a children. Even if they don’t raise children themselves, they are still recognizing the man-woman unit.

    If it’s not necessary for a marriage to produce children, then what is the problem with allowing homosexual couples to get “married”. What is the difference between a homosexual couple without children and a heterosexual couple without children (from a marriage is to produce and raise children point of view)?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 1:51 pm
  273. @Alex

    I tolerate your bigotry, which is more than bigots do to homosexuals. If you don’t like being called a bigot, stop being one and/or actually answer the question asked instead of deflecting.

    What is the evidence to Alex that I am a bigot towards homosexuals? It is because I don’t affirm homosexual marriage. By that standard, David Benkof, an open homosexual and the blogger behind “Gays Defend Marriage” is himself a bigot. After all, for Alex, the only reason one could be against homosexual marriage is because they hate homosexuals.

    On the contrary, I have no problem with homosexuals as people. I’ve had them as friends before and I do speak out against groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. Of course, it’s easier for you to debate an attitude rather than it is a position.

    My meaning is to preserve marriage because marriage is something, a building block of society. It has a metaphysical meaning in that we discover marriage rather than construct it. Now if marriage can be changed to mean whatever we want it to mean and it has no essential nature, why should the homosexual community want something like that? A marriage between a man and a man then is just as valid as that between a man and a dog. Does the word actually mean something or not?

    I have answered the question numerous times. The difference is that the heterosexual couple still falls within the standard of what is the foundation of society, the union of man and woman. It is that union that continues the society and while not producing children in their own right, they do realize the man-woman relationship is the foundational building block even if they don’t participate in bringing in children.

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 2:27 pm
  274. Nick, that’s a nice set of words, but it deflects from the baseline of why you’re a bigot. You believe homosexuals should be treated less than equal under the law.

    I honestly don’t care if you hate homosexuals or not. You advocate treating them as second class citizens. Might as well go ahead and tell me you have plenty of black friends, too. That didn’t work well for white people because it’s disingenuous. Your approach won’t work for you either.

    It’s easy to sit on your side of the fence and say your bigotry doesn’t harm anyone. Why would you think so? You’re straight, or at least pretending to be straight, and your beliefs are no threat to your own life. But it’s a little more difficult when you’re the one being discriminated against.

    So yeah, I get that you believe marriage is some metaphysical magical underpinning to society, but you’re in exactly the same position there as with your stance on morality. You can’t prove it, and the scientific model has a much more evidence-based explanation that disagrees with you.

    Posted by hambydammit | November 3, 2010, 2:56 pm
  275. Nick said,

    My meaning is to preserve marriage because marriage is something, a building block of society. It has a metaphysical meaning in that we discover marriage rather than construct it. Now if marriage can be changed to mean whatever we want it to mean and it has no essential nature, why should the homosexual community want something like that? A marriage between a man and a man then is just as valid as that between a man and a dog. Does the word actually mean something or not?

    Perhaps to you it has some special meaning, but to me (and the gov’t) marriage affords couples the right to file a joint tax return. The right to be at each other’s side in the hospital. The right o make medical decisions for each other.

    Why in the world would homosexual couples want that?

    It’s bigoted to deny them those rights just because you attach some special meaning to the word “marriage” and believe (but cannot show) that some sort of harm would come from it.

    If you’re arguing that the gov’t should authorize civil unions and abdicate the word “marriage”, then we’re in agreement. How about saying that, instead of denying homosexuals the right to secular marriages. Please state clearly you’re for this, and then let’s see some action on that front.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 3:06 pm
  276. @hamby

    Nick, that’s a nice set of words, but it deflects from the baseline of why you’re a bigot. You believe homosexuals should be treated less than equal under the law.

    To begin with, this is the same one who complained about me being near insulting and now decides to come right out and say I’m a bigot. Very nice. Hypocrisy is often amusing, especially from the tolerance crowd.

    However, I am not saying that homosexuals have unequal privileges. I stated this earlier. They have the same right as everyone else. A homosexual cannot marry someone of the same sex. Neither can I. A homosexual can marry someone of the same sex. That is a choice I already actualized.

    Remember, by your argument, the homosexual blogger I linked to earlier is a bigot as well.

    Of course, it’s easier to point to an attitude rather than an argument.

    I honestly don’t care if you hate homosexuals or not. You advocate treating them as second class citizens. Might as well go ahead and tell me you have plenty of black friends, too. That didn’t work well for white people because it’s disingenuous. Your approach won’t work for you either.

    Nope. They have the same rights as everyone else. They’re wanting a right that is different.

    Tell me Hamby. Do you think close cousins should be allowed to marry? If not, why are you a bigot?

    It’s easy to sit on your side of the fence and say your bigotry doesn’t harm anyone. Why would you think so? You’re straight, or at least pretending to be straight, and your beliefs are no threat to your own life. But it’s a little more difficult when you’re the one being discriminated against.

    Yuck! This water has poison in it!

    First off, I do discriminate. Everyone does. I think the boy scouts should consist of boys for instance. I think women’s groups should consist of women. I think the Evangelical Philosophical Society should consist of evangelicals. I think American Atheists should consist of atheists.

    I also discriminated when I married. I said that I’m going to be with one woman and no other. When we have children one day, I’m going to discriminate when I get a babysitter because not just anyone is going to be looking over my kids when we want to go out for an evening together.

    Not all discrimination is wrong. Some is. If I was acting like Fred Phelps and saying homosexuals are evil by virtue of being homosexuals, you’d be right. I’m not.

    So yeah, I get that you believe marriage is some metaphysical magical underpinning to society, but you’re in exactly the same position there as with your stance on morality. You can’t prove it, and the scientific model has a much more evidence-based explanation that disagrees with you.

    No. You mean to say you hope I can’t prove it. I laid out my case to Alex on how I make moral decisions based on Aristotlean and Thomistic thinking. It was not responded to.

    Now if you mean I can’t prove it in the scientific sense, sure. However, I also can’t prove my wife loves me in the scientific sense. I can’t prove my friends exist in the scientific sense. I can’t prove 2 + 2 = 4 in the scientific sense. Scientific data on human societies can help, but if marriage is something, it is that in a metaphysical sense and not a scientific sense. It’s simply the same error of scientism and using science where it does not apply.

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 3:06 pm
  277. @Alex

    Perhaps to you it has some special meaning, but to me (and the gov’t) marriage affords couples the right to file a joint tax return. The right to be at each other’s side in the hospital. The right o make medical decisions for each other.

    Why in the world would homosexual couples want that?

    Check earlier what I said to Ian. I have no problem with homosexuals having those things.

    It’s bigoted to deny them those rights just because you attach some special meaning to the word “marriage” and believe (but cannot show) that some sort of harm would come from it.

    I have not denied them that nor am I in favor of denying them that.

    If you’re arguing that the gov’t should authorize civil unions and abdicate the word “marriage”, then we’re in agreement. How about saying that, instead of denying homosexuals the right to secular marriages. Please state clearly you’re for this, and then let’s see some action on that front.

    Homosexuals can already form unions and I have no problem with having them file joint tax returns or be by one another’s side in a hospital situation. (Lovely assumption on your part btw. You decided to call me a bigot since you thought I hold a position I’d already denied and then admitted you didn’t know my position.)

    My stance however is that the building block of society is the man-woman monogamous relationship. This is the unit that’s capable of bringing children into the world and raising children with the benefit of a mother and a father, something children are benefited by.

    Posted by apologianick | November 3, 2010, 3:10 pm
  278. “However, I am not saying that homosexuals have unequal privileges. I stated this earlier. They have the same right as everyone else. A homosexual cannot marry someone of the same sex. Neither can I. A homosexual can marry someone of the same sex. That is a choice I already actualized.”

    Here in the US of Allah, we have freedom of religion. See you can choose to be a Sunni, a Shiite, or an atheist; just like I can. However, you can’t be a Christian, despite your desire to be one. That isn’t allowed. See, you have equal rights too.

    Posted by mkandefer | November 3, 2010, 3:22 pm
  279. Nick said,

    Check earlier what I said to Ian. I have no problem with homosexuals having those things.

    By denying them secular marriages you must, otherwise you would be for a redefinition of secular marriage rather than denying them their rights as couples.

    Nick said,

    I have not denied them that nor am I in favor of denying them that.

    By denying them secular marriages, you have actually.

    Nick said,

    Homosexuals can already form unions and I have no problem with having them file joint tax returns or be by one another’s side in a hospital situation. (Lovely assumption on your part btw. You decided to call me a bigot since you thought I hold a position I’d already denied and then admitted you didn’t know my position.)

    Again, perhaps you should work on being more clear with what you actually believe, because it comes across as being bigoted to anyone who is for equal rights under the law.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 3:28 pm
  280. Nick,

    Issues of there being two distinct sexes aside. What intrinsic qualities of a female do you think prevent a man from accomplishing what the female can in a successful family? What intrinsic qualities of a male do you think prevent a woman from accomplishing what the male can in a successful family?

    Posted by mkandefer | November 3, 2010, 3:34 pm
  281. @mkandefer, great post. I wonder how well that would go over as “equal” rights.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 3, 2010, 3:36 pm
  282. To begin with, this is the same one who complained about me being near insulting and now decides to come right out and say I’m a bigot. Very nice. Hypocrisy is often amusing, especially from the tolerance crowd.

    A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs. The predominant usage in modern American English refers to persons hostile to those of differing race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, various mental disorders, or religion.

    This is my usage of the word. You have displayed obstinate devotion to the principle that homosexuals have no right to marry, and that homosexual marriage is deviant from the metaphysical “rightness” of one man/one woman. That fits the definition.

    However, I am not saying that homosexuals have unequal privileges. I stated this earlier. They have the same right as everyone else. A homosexual cannot marry someone of the same sex. Neither can I. A homosexual can marry someone of the same sex. That is a choice I already actualized.

    Ah. That’s very clever. It really is. And I actually get where you’re coming from now. It’s actually quite elegant. Marriage is externally (by god) defined as between one woman and one man. It cannot be between a man and a man because then it wouldn’t be marriage, since marriage is externally defined as being between a man and a woman. So the right to marriage only applies to people who want to get married. Which can’t possibly be homosexuals, because it wouldn’t be marriage.

    Like I said, it’s elegant. And it works with your definition of marriage. Nick, I want to congratulate you. (I’m not being snarky. I’m quite serious.) This is the first thing you’ve explained to me that has given me a new understanding of what it’s like to be you. I get it.

    It’s a total crock of shit, and your definition is unprovable, but it’s very logical, and I totally get why you believe it.

    Posted by hambydammit | November 3, 2010, 3:47 pm
  283. Tell me Hamby. Do you think close cousins should be allowed to marry? If not, why are you a bigot?

    Heh… This is a good question. The answer is that I don’t know. That is, I don’t have a strong opinion on it one way or another. Here’s why.

    Unlike you, I believe that marriage is a legal representation of two people’s commitment to each other in whatever form they desire. I think it ought to be available to straights, gays, polygamists, intersex, and anything else you can think of so long as it’s consentual.

    I do not believe that marriage and bearing children are intrinsically linked. That is, people can raise children without marriage, and they can be married without having children. The primary objection to cousins marrying has been the risk of birth defects from the close genetic relationship. Curiously, there is some interesting data on inter-breeding that’s just come out in the last decade indicating that close relationship is not always a predictor of genetic defects. In fact, some kinds of groups actually weed out certain kinds of genetic anomalies by inbreeding. So it might be that inbreeding, in and of itself, is not nearly the bugaboo we used to think it was.

    But that’s kind of beside the point. Bearing children is different than getting married. If two people want to get married, I don’t think I can come up with a reason why they shouldn’t. If they are at high risk for genetic defects in their potential children, then they have an entirely different moral decision to make. That doesn’t just go for cousins. It goes for anyone who has the genetic markers which might lead to birth defects. (People with the gene for Downs syndrome, for example.)

    Posted by hambydammit | November 3, 2010, 4:51 pm
  284. As an addendum, I’d also like to say that I’m in favor of allowing churches to discriminate to their hearts content with regard to gay marriage. If your church believes it’s an abomination, then fine. Don’t let gays get married in your church. I think it’s your right to do so within the confines of a voluntary membership in your church.

    But the only way I’m ok with that is if marriage is allowed on a government level, and gays who want to get married need only go visit a justice of the peace, or a pastor from a more tolerant church.

    Posted by hambydammit | November 3, 2010, 4:57 pm
  285. Nick wrote:

    My stance is that marriage is the building unit of society because marriage sets the idea of what is best for the raising of children.

    You’ve got your work cut out for you citing evidence to support that stance.

    If you don’t think a mother and father is the best, then do tell which is.

    How about two mature, caring human beings?

    Why are there so many studies going on about the importance of fathers?

    Studies focusing on single mothers don’t have any relevance to gay marriage.

    Do you think close cousins should be allowed to marry? If not, why are you a bigot?

    Heh…they actually can marry. In Georgia, anyway.

    But the issue here is the measurable harm that might result from birth defects (which, as Hamby said, isn’t nearly as much a risk with first cousins as once was thought). Show me the measurable harm associated with gay marriage, and I’ll reconsider my position.

    We base it on reality. We see if marriage really is something or if it isn’t… If a family really is something, then we cannot change that no matter what.

    Meaningless. Want me to toss you a rope? You’re drowning there.

    However, marriage is necessary for the raising of children. That’s the only point I’m claiming. The family is the basic unit of society and that is built on the idea of the man and woman coming together in a stable unit for the producing and raising a children.

    So your argument is nothing more than saying, “This is the way it is. And we’ve got to keep things this way because that’s just how society works.”

    A Southern slaveowner could have used that argument to counter abolitionism.

    I’m fine with a friend’s marriage where he got a vasectomy early on or prior to the marriage because they knew they didn’t want children

    What about two intersexual people? Each of them possess both a penis and a vagina. Are you fine with them getting married?

    And whether you’re fine with that or not, why on earth should they need your approval to marry each other? I know that for practical purposes they do, but is that really any of your business?

    It has a metaphysical meaning in that we discover marriage rather than construct it.

    How is marriage “discovered?”

    They have the same right as everyone else. A homosexual cannot marry someone of the same sex. Neither can I. A homosexual can marry someone of the same sex. That is a choice I already actualized.

    Blacks have the same rights as everyone else. A black person cannot drink at a water fountain which is not designated for their race. Neither can I. A black person can ride in their section of the bus, and I can ride in mine.

    Posted by Ian | November 3, 2010, 5:46 pm
  286. Ian Said: “Heh…they actually can marry. In Georgia, anyway.

    But the issue here is the measurable harm that might result from birth defects (which, as Hamby said, isn’t nearly as much a risk with first cousins as once was thought). ”
    —————————————————————————————

    Why all the fuss? If they determine that the fetus has a high risk for brith defects then the woman can always have an abortion anyway. Remember?

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 4, 2010, 8:24 am
  287. Ian Said: “How is marriage “discovered?”

    =================================================

    When you wake up in Vegas one morning with a hangover and then realise that there is a ring on your finger. lol

    Just one question for you though. If marriage really isn’t necessary then why has pretty much every culture in the world, even those that were non-Christian practiced it and still do?

    I live in the UK. We have quite a few single mums over here but nobody can deny that it is the non ideal situation. Our government has to give benefits to single mums, not to mention that somebody needs to look after the baby, a single mum can’t just go to work every day and leave the baby by itself until she comes home.

    No offence, but this is a drain on the system. It really is and the government are really concerned about it. This is what people’s tax money goes to instead of other things.

    Single parant families are a cost, so it is not an ideal. Granted it is needed in some situations. For instance we can’t control when one partner dies and leaves a widow behind with a child, but when you have a society with a large amount of single parant families then something is wrong.

    Gentlemen, what is happening in the UK currently is your very future. Just keep that in mind.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 4, 2010, 8:40 am
  288. DarthObvious wrote:

    Why all the fuss? If they determine that the fetus has a high risk for brith defects then the woman can always have an abortion anyway.

    You’re misrepresenting the pro-choice position as being blasé about abortions. It’s about the right to choose.

    Aside from that, there was a case a few years back where a brother and sister (separated when they were very young, no Westermarck effect) were living as if they were married and had had a child together. The woman actually wanted to have more children with her brother, and they were making no effort to test for genetic defects.

    If marriage really isn’t necessary then why has pretty much every culture in the world, even those that were non-Christian practiced it and still do?

    Think about it for a minute. If the exact argument that you’re using against marriage polity could have been used against abolitionism, what does that tell you about your position?

    We have quite a few single mums over here but nobody can deny that it is the non ideal situation.

    How is that in any way relevant to marriage polity?

    Posted by Ian | November 4, 2010, 9:32 am
  289. I would suggest moving the discussion about marriage to the post on said topic.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 4, 2010, 9:55 am
  290. Ian Said: “You’re misrepresenting the pro-choice position as being blasé about abortions. It’s about the right to choose.”

    Why does it matter? Remember a fetus is not a baby, not according to you. If it’s just an inconveinence like a STD, then why not just get it sorted out? Get rid of it if it’s going to be a problem.

    Ian Said “Aside from that, there was a case a few years back where a brother and sister (separated when they were very young, no Westermarck effect) were living as if they were married and had had a child together. The woman actually wanted to have more children with her brother, and they were making no effort to test for genetic defects.”

    Really, gosh. What a shock. Who cares, right? They’re not exactly hurting anybody.

    Ian Said: “Think about it for a minute. If the exact argument that you’re using against marriage polity could have been used against abolitionism, what does that tell you about your position?”

    I made an argument? Perhaps you can show me where I argued this?

    Anyway, what you say here is irrevelant, because funnily enough marriage is not slavery. No matter how many men jokingly claim that it is, also not every culture practiced slavery.

    You mean before the Nazi’s got into power the Germans didn’t kill any Jews, but then Hitler got into power and started killing them. You mean, Germany had gone on long enough without killing Jews but then why stick to the old ways huh? Why should we stick to the customs we have practiced for years when we can invent new ones and have people killed in gas chambers.

    See how that works? You’re defence that laws should be evolving and changing can work both ways, it can also be used for bad. The issue is one of whether we should be keeping old laws or not. We shouldn’t automatically change things just because they are “old ways”.

    So I will ask the question again and this time I hope you actually answer it.

    If marriage really isn’t necessary then why has pretty much every culture in the world, even those that were non-Christian practiced it and still do?

    It’s a question so I expect an answer to that question not accusations from you that I made some argument that someone else in this blog made.

    Ian Said: “How is that in any way relevant to marriage polity?”

    You mean you don’t see how it is? I thought I made what I said pretty clear, so I’m wondering why I need to repeat myself here.

    I would have thought that single mums, being single and all are NOT married. I thn went on to explain why this was harmful to society as a whole, because it meant making payments to single mums in the form of benefits that they would not recieve if they were married and had a stable family unit earning income.

    The fact is, a married family unit is more stable, especially financially, for the upbringing of children.

    My friend is non-religious and he works at the benefits office in his area. He is sick of the amount of single mums he has coming in recieving payments for their children when they are single and they made NO EFFORT in trying to make any relationship they had last. He remembers one woman who had four children all with different fathers and she wasn’t ashamed in the slightest.

    Posted by Darth Ovious | November 4, 2010, 7:28 pm
  291. Darth Obvious said,

    I made an argument? Perhaps you can show me where I argued this?

    He also said,

    If marriage really isn’t necessary then why has pretty much every culture in the world, even those that were non-Christian practiced it and still do?

    That sounds like you’re arguing in favor of the statement: Since pretty much ever culture in the world practices marriage, marriage must be necessary. That same statement could be applied to slavery, as Ian pointed out.

    If you’re not, then everything else you said is meaningless social commentary and can be ignored.

    If you are, Hamby has answered this already (as I asked it for you on the post about marriage) in this comment. He more thoroughly answered it in this post.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | November 5, 2010, 7:46 am
  292. Awesome post.

    Posted by reddit porn | August 3, 2012, 4:40 am

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