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The blogosphere is not a place for the faint of heart. If you have something you feel you need to say, don’t expect everyone to agree with you. Indeed, expect a bit of backlash. Take for instance crsptch. He left a couple of comments on a blog, both were pretty banal. The first was

Your blog is shamelessly boring.

That’s it. The second wasn’t any better. From what he had to say (which was nothing) I have a good deal of pity for him. I mean, I can imagine the acne-faced kid typing away in his grandmother’s trailer and all…

See, that’s how you insult someone, crsptch. Innnuendo, wit. Even a ‘yo momma’ putdown would be far superior.

He’s blocked now, but not because of the weak attempt at insult. Nor do I take such action lightly. He’s blocked because he had nothing to contribute, positive or negative. I saw any further communication from him was going to be futile.

But I didn’t delete his comments.

Take this entry from The Christian Worldview’s blog entitled “Atheist Lies and Christian Truth”. With a title like that, how can I not read it? If I’m lying I would certainly like to know how I’m doing it without realizing it. I was shaken to my core that atheism wasn’t even mentioned- such blatant false advertising!

The whole blog was nothing more than an exercise in sophistry, but that’s not what pissed me off. What pisses me off is the author’s disingenuous response- delete the comment. I’m not writing this blog to complain. I’m writing to make sure my comment is heard. And there’s nothing nasty about it at all:

With a title like that, I just can’t help but play fundie whack-a-mole.

“Christianity and the story of Jesus is the truth and as a result have grown to be the only true international religion.”

Apart from Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.

“What else but the truth could have started 2000 years ago in a small town in Israel and grown worldwide to be accepted by more than a billion people”

A superstitious belief system. That’s what else it could be.

“There is an abundance of scientific evidence proving the existence of Jesus and the truth of the Holy Bible both in archeology and with historical facts that are ignored and under reported by the worldwide media.”

There is no scientific evidence for Jesus at all. If I’m wrong, refute it by listing this evidence. What evidence we have comes from textual criticism of the gospels and one small mention in Josephus and one in Tacitus (if the latter one isn’t a later forgery). Personally, I’m willing to accept that a historical Jesus existed, though it is far from certain. However, the Jesus of the bible is out.

I’m unsure how archeology can help your case. For instance, archeology refutes the exodus myth outright. The Massacre of the Innocents has no extrabiblical source, something rather unexpected if it did happen. The only census around the time of Jesus happened a good ten years after the death of Harod the Great. That’s one heck of a long pregnancy for Mary.

And just because places existed lends no credence to the stories just because they were said to take place there. For example, we can be fairly certain that Atlanta exists and that the Civil War happened. But this does not mean that Gone With the Wind was a biography of Scarlett O’Hara.

The gospels were written decades after Jesus’ supposed crucifixion and were based on stories kept alive through oral tradition. Not exactly a good way to maintain fidelity. Only John, the latest of the gospels written some 65 years after Jesus, claims Jesus’ divinity. Mark, Matthew and Luke never seem to think it important to mention that.

I’m always amazed by the statement that there are mounds of evidence for a biblical Jesus and the truth of the stories contained within the bible, yet the claimants seem incapable of listing said evidence.

“Tolerance of anything and everything except Christians is the governmental authoritarian order of the day and the western world governments are certainly doing their part. The Christian worldview, which clearly defines where we come from and our place in it with God at the center, is being replaced with tolerance for all and hatred for anything or anyone who is different.”

Pot calling kettle black. Secularism, upon which the US was founded, treats everyone equally and fairly. Fundamentalist Christians like you hate that. They see being unable to force their brand of belief on everyone else as an infringement on their rights.

I’ve got news for you. Not everyone believes what you do. Imagine that. But for some reason you are upset by that. Unlike you, I will defend your right to speak this nonsense. But don’t equate that with respecting what you’re saying, because I don’t.

The US is arguably the most religious of all western nations. It also has the dubious distinction of leading in a number of other categories as well, having the highest rates of nonviolent and non-lethal violent crime, homicide, adolescent suicide, teen pregnancy and teen STD transmission. But I’m sure your solution would be ‘more religion’ rather than doing something real to tackle these problems.

Is there anything egregious in what I said? I can back up every word, even if he can’t for his.

It’s his blog. He can do what he wants. But this is mine, and I can call out anyone who I see is intellectually dishonest and post the response that was deleted so people can see what an opposing view looks like. I don’t write a word that I can’t back up and when I’m wrong and can be shown to be wrong I thank that person. Fundies are incapable of that.

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18 Comments

  1. You are funny at the top.
    I am sorry I responded quickly on my blog without first getting a larger taste of your thoughts/education on yours.
    I am educated from a large secular university on the Bible and the New Testament so your arguments are not lost on me.
    Whoever’s blog you quote from has some problems with the arguments which you did deftly address especially their odd talk on tolerance and governments.

    I do think their is a wealth of evidence for Jesus though.

    1. The books of Luke and Acts, written by same author earlier than John, record the fleeing of the disciples. Then Christ’s resurrection and suddenly in Acts the disciples are willing to die and all eventually die a martyr’s death.
    This is the best proof of Christ existence and that people in Christ time believed He was God. That they scattered when threatened, only to return once seeing Him alive again and then go and preach till they were martyred. Would all these men (Paul, Stephen and others)go to death for a lie?
    This is compelling to me.
    Especially that Nero blamed the fire in Rome on the Christians and started widespread persecution in 64 AD, according to Tacitus. This is only 30 years after Christ’s death and the widespread Rome from Palestine confirms for me the existence of the early early church, which I see as a proof to the text of New Testament being accurate.

    2. We do not doubt the existence of Plato or Caesar, but we have less ancient writings about them than we do of Jesus Christ. (Biblical (Mark written 40-60 AD and the Josephus and Tacitus you mentioned, plus a library of Christian mentions about early church under 200 past death of Christ i.e. Ignatius, Clement, Origin, etc. )

    3. Invention of the entire genre of gospel/narrative that 4 different authors all in embraced is highly doubtful a mere human creation.

    These to me are the best hard evidence of the Biblical Jesus, based on the testimony of the lives of his followers who eventually took it to the grave.

    Also, the synoptic Gospels in numerous spots show Jesus as God:
    forgiving sins,
    being referred to as Son of God
    Son of Man( used in OT generally, but exclusively for Christ in NT)

    The evidence of Christ’s death in crucifixion by Jewish leaders lends to the evidence the Christ did indeed claim to be God and not back down, otherwise He would not have been crucified by the leaders claiming such offense.

    Some of this has come from this book, which was recently updated form Josh McDowell
    http://books.google.com/books?id=dIfkKmdh22MC&dq=more+than+a+carpenter&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=CVJvStzKEpOqswOv9dG0BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4

    Thanks for letting me post and I appreciate your open mindedness in the end of your post to others ideas. I listen and read yours as well.

    Justin
    http://lastinglewis.wordpress.com/

  2. You see, now this… THIS is a response. Love it! I will get back to it later as I am a bit busy at the moment.

  3. Okay. There’s a big problem with your point number 1. You are of the mind that the author of Luke and Acts was privy to first-hand information. This is simply not so. Remember, the authors of the gospels were working from oral tradition, not exactly a good source of info. So, their contents are already highly suspect. Luke is largely a copy of Mark (much is word-for-word, except where they differ in their theology, and in these places they differ greatly). This makes it extremely difficult to tease out what Jesus actually said.

    Also, he (or she, as some people think) wrote in Greek. This is an important point. These were upper class people with no association with Jesus or his disciples. They were almost certainly not even living in the same region. At best, they were working with fourth-hand information.

    Again, it is only in John (of the canonical gospels), the most removed of the gospels, where Jesus claims divinity.

    Later Christian writers have no claim to being independent sources.

    In point 2, I disagree that we have less info on Caesar. Plato, I’ll give you. So what? For Caesar we have contemporary historians writing about him (there are absolutely zero contemporary historians writing about Jesus); we have coinage and busts (the busts are especially interesting- the Romans didn’t believe in airbrushing images so they show how Caesar aged); we have archeological data confirming battles he was said to be in; we have triumphal inscriptions in monuments to his victories; and we have Caesar’s own words.

    But regardless of whether there is a historical Jesus, there is no reliable confirmation whatsoever of a biblical Jesus. This is a key distinction.

    Would all these men (Paul, Stephen and others)go to death for a lie?

    Sure they would, if they believed the lie. But this says absolutely nothing about the truth behind Christianity’s claims.

    The evidence of Christ’s death in crucifixion by Jewish leaders lends to the evidence the Christ did indeed claim to be God and not back down, otherwise He would not have been crucified by the leaders claiming such offense.

    I absolutely agree. So does Bart Ehrman. That is exactly why the Romans would crucify him. But then lots of people were making similar claims of being the Messiah at the time. But if this is so, why does Mark (and Luke and Matthewy) completely ignore this?

    I don’t even understand the point that is being made here-

    Invention of the entire genre of gospel/narrative that 4 different authors all in embraced is highly doubtful a mere human creation.

    One could say the same for Greek or Roman mythology. Egyptian mythology is especially rich, and just as vehemently followed. Maybe even more so than Christianity.

    Again, so what? Nor would I say that there were four independent authors. It is quite clear that Matthew, Luke and (less so) John had Mark open in front of them when they wrote their own tomes. All of them clearly believed that theirs and not the others were the be-all and end-all of any work about Jesus. Each of them would be completely shocked to find that they were included in a set of works of which none agreed upon in content!

    If I accept a historical Jesus, I also accept that Jesus was crucified. I’m not saying that Jesus existence is a certainty. I don’t feel all that compelled by the available evidence, but it isn’t too difficult to accept that there was a Jewish carpenter named Yeshua that started a ministry and was crucified because someone blabbed that he was claiming to be God in private. So I don’t argue the point. There are certainly some indications he really existed. Not much, but some.

    But the resurrection is a big issue and my level of evidence changes due to the extraordinary nature of the claim. None of the accounts agree and differ greatly, incompatibly so. And outside of the bible we do not have any sources for it. This is one of those things that just has to be taken on faith, and I don’t swing that way.

    This is only 30 years after Christ’s death and the widespread Rome from Palestine confirms for me the existence of the early early church, which I see as a proof to the text of New Testament being accurate.

    I don’t. Look how fast the myths that the JFK assassination was a plot. Or that there was a second shooter. These are very popular and spread like wildfire. I can give other examples, like Jews being tipped off about 9/11, Holocaust denial, etc. This is good evidence for the gullability of people and their desire to believe weird things, but Argumentum ad populum isn’t a good argument for the veracity of those beliefs.

  4. Shameless,

    In point one it is not wild to believe that it is second or third hand information as I recognize Luke was a Gentile physician and seems to intimately know Paul (who was consorting with first hand observers of Jesus aka Peter, James.) and probably the others as mentioned in Acts and Galatians. I know Greek and Luke/ Acts is exquisite. Jerusalem had experienced Hellenization and the Septuagint was the readily used as OT, so translation from Aramaic to Greek shouldn’t be a huge concern.
    I think oral tradition is much more reliable than you would think, if you hinged your whole life on it and had an oral society of memorization. Remember the Jewish disciples did have the Pentateuch as children, so great oral memory is not unquestionable.
    On the copying I misspoke on saying independently, I too think that Mark was first and Matthew and Luke worked from it in some regards. I am aware of the differences of theology, but I think they are cast in liberal scholarship in such a light that makes them difficult to be anything but inconsistent. I see them as an extension of more detailed truth. Take the woman who suffered from bleeding, I think the texts are trying to make different points out of the story and have clarity. Rather than Mark exposing Jesus as not God.

    Off the top of my head and without great detail, I would argue the OT quotes in Matthew of the Messiah show that Jesus was God. In Luke several stories including Jesus granting authority over the Devil and his claim to ‘have watched the Devil fall like lighting’ in Luke 10. I think it is concrete to say “Again, it is only in John (of the canonical gospels), the most removed of the gospels, where Jesus claims divinity. ” (sorry i am not great at making the good boxes like you).

    #2, good point of Caesar. The coins are a great example. But generally, my point is many historical characters we take as ‘true’ have less or about the same contemporary literature about them.

    Sorry point 3, was a little dense. It’s an argument about the language being used to refer to Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke identifying their claim for his divinity. Basically calling Jesus Son of Man and Son of God, was affirming to their belief that Jesus was God. The book of Daniel in chapter 7 explains the Son of Man connection.

    I am intimately familiar with the works of Mr. Ehrman of UNC. On the point of the Romans, I think the evidence would tip to the Jews wanting to crucify and telling/rioting the Romans to do so. Jesus had a significant following of people and was nonthreatening to Romans as He had no political agenda nor made threats nor had an army. But this would be very offensive to Jews as He acted with authority to forgive sins and alluded and said he was such. (I am aware you would debate this).

    Erhman’s has many good points in his work, but I do want you to read with the eyes of watching his intellectual pride as he writes…many times he elaborates in places that are not good scholarship and are self-gratifying.

    I think the genre argument shouldn’t be dismissed as so because of their uniqueness is unprecedented and all written within 50 years of one another, very similar narrative-truth-gospel. Genres are not easily invented.

    I see your beliefs on Jesus and Resurrection, but I would argue that the accounts aren’t incompatible that they could be different yet the same from various sources. Once again, I think the best evidence of resurrection is the complete character change of followers.

    I think your Argumentum ad populum argument is good, but it is flawed by the lack rapid communication available. There were simply too many eyewitnesses of events around in the ancient world for ‘legends’ to develop so quickly. Point of it was that the truth of Jesus was transferable and believable and already being practiced as Jesus being on par with God.

    I have read much of your blog and posted elsewhere, but my greatest argument for Christ, is the joy and peace He has brought to my life.
    I know you may look down on me for even saying such, but I do believe in Christ for the experiential and empirical evidence in my life in addition to the Bible.
    I love talking about such, but Dr. Tyson if I have your name correctly, much of the evidence is swung on how you look at things. I think Erhman’s loves feeling intellectually superior and doesn’t like the idea of not having answers which led him in his work. But the best way to see Gospel ‘contradictions’ is not to make up explanations or convenient to one’s thoughts answers, but let them be if we can’t have certainty. I dearly care for you though I don’t know who you are and fully respect your beliefs and your right to have them.

    Justin
    http://lastinglewis.wordpress.com/

    I will keep reading your stuff and commenting sometimes if that’s okay with you.

  5. In point one it is not wild to believe that it is second or third hand information…

    It is irrelevant. It is disqualified as being evidence because it is at best hearsay. Imagine what our court system would look like if we allowed this form of evidence. The prisons would be flooded more than they already are. Did you know that the US penal system is the highest percentage of population? Even way more than China’s. It’s appalling! From the discrepancies between Paul’s letters and Acts, I would also say that they did not in point of fact know each other personally at all, but the author of Luke knew of Paul and stories about him.

    I think oral tradition is much more reliable than you would think, if you hinged your whole life on it and had an oral society of memorization.

    You HAVE to be kidding. Thirty or more years of the telephone game? This is special pleading.

    Off the top of my head and without great detail, I would argue the OT quotes in Matthew of the Messiah show that Jesus was God.

    At best it would show that Matthew believe that Jesus was God. Not the same thing. I’d have to go back to see the quotes themselves. Mind you, he gets some of the quotes from the OT wrong.

    About the Son of Man thing, I’m not sure that Jesus was calling himself that, but that the Son of Man will come later on. I’ll have to check back on that. But even so, we’re back to the problem of what from the gospels we can take as, well, gospel.

    I am intimately familiar with the works of Mr. Ehrman of UNC. On the point of the Romans, I think the evidence would tip to the Jews wanting to crucify and telling/rioting the Romans to do so.

    Ehrman again agrees and that is what I meant to say. But to blame Jews for the whole incident is a bit harsh. It was men in power fearing that it would be usurped that persuaded the Romans. But don’t tell Mel Gibson.

    Ehrman is usually pretty careful to tell the reader when he’s treading on unsolid ground, like any good scholar will do. He is certainly careful to say that his is not the only view, or even the view that holds sway. But most of what he’s written is noncontroversial. Besides, what kind of scholar doesn’t believe his own work? Maybe that’s what you’re seeing in him. Maybe he really is an intellectual turd. I dunno. Ehrman is not my only source of biblical criticism, but I am certainly enjoying his latest book Jesus, Interrupted. Much better than Misquoting Jesus, since it is much broader in scope.

    I know you may look down on me for even saying such…

    No, I don’t, actually. You’ve put a lot of thought into your beliefs. We just don’t agree on what constitutes evidence. Those who don’t put thought into their belief or nonbelief and express it as a truth are those that I don’t have much respect for. Which brings me to this-

    …though I don’t know who you are and fully respect your beliefs and your right to have them.

    Now why can’t everyone be of like mind? I’m a secularist and that scares the heck out of right-wing fundamentalists. Why, I have no idea, other than the one I mention in my comment that was deleted from that blog. I would defend anyone’s right to speak their peace no matter how vehemently I disagree with them. (So much for atheists not believing in things.) And I would certainly never violate freedom of religion even though it is quite apparent that some would think nothing of doing the same to me.

    I think your Argumentum ad populum argument is good, but it is flawed by the lack rapid communication available. There were simply too many eyewitnesses of events around in the ancient world for ‘legends’ to develop so quickly.

    Ah, but then why didn’t the historians living in the region and at the time of Jesus’ life and crucifixion mention anything at all?

    But the best way to see Gospel ‘contradictions’ is not to make up explanations or convenient to one’s thoughts answers, but let them be if we can’t have certainty.

    Clearly, you are not of the bible inerrancy crowd. I think if one believes, this is the only way to go. Otherwise belief becomes extremely fragile.

    And, oooh! I’ve been outted! And don’t call me ‘Dr.’- Randy will suffice. I’m not Kent Hovind. LOL! ‘Doctor’ my ass. It gets even worse because I work in a medical college/hospital. Last thing I need is to be asked to diagnose something…

    I must say I am enjoying the exchange, but I foresee a point where we will agree to disagree.

  6. hey, for what it’s worth, I read your blog pretty frequently, and it’s far from boring. Keep up the good work.

    (BTW, my blog is getting over-run by fundie commentors, if you could drop by and land some knowledge on these people, I’d be much obliged.)

    • Well, so you’re the one who reads my blogs! LOL!

      Any tips on getting more action? I’ll stop by and give a hand at some point. I should really be working at work…

      • Currently, I get a TON of lurkers (close to 130 hits a day with no comments) and I really just do two things:

        (1. Comment a ton on blogs on similar tags (religion, atheism…etc)

        (2 Get on Twitter. I know it’s lame, but I installed two widgets on the bottom of my blog. One provides the RSS feed, and the other syncs my Twitter feed for TPD on the blog. I end up getting 10-20 hits from twitter just by that.

        The problem for me is getting people to comment. That’s the pain in my ass.

  7. Ummm… I also think we will have to agree to disagree and thank you for the mutual respect.

    Randy its been a pleasure having a little mental exercise.

    The telephone arguement I don’t think applies to my arguement earlier because I think Peter and Paul along with many of the disciples and other witnesses had direct contact with Gospel writers, since these men were still alive for most the Gospels being written.

    I actually am in the Biblical inspiration and innerrancy group, I just believe that the small differences are meant to be their in the Gospels. That each Gospel is meant to be a bit different. For example:
    Mark is fast paced, high action drama of Christ’s life and has the basics and is the shortest.
    Matthew is he more comprehensive and written for a Jewish audience.
    Luke is a larger, orderly and favorite of mine, because he writes as an outsider for outsiders in society and gentiles. Chapter 15 is amazing.
    John is the masterpiece of drawing it all together and showing the over-arching metaphyiscal impact and heart level diagnosis of what all has happened.

    So I believe they are purposefully different and to me lke looking at God’s great love letter to humanity.

    So that’s how I view it and see textual criticism.

    Thanks for engaging with me.

    All the best Randy,

    Justin

    • The telephone arguement I don’t think applies to my arguement earlier because I think Peter and Paul along with many of the disciples and other witnesses had direct contact with Gospel writers, since these men were still alive for most the Gospels being written.

      Whether they were alive or not at the same time is only one criterion. The gospel authors were of completely different social class, language and geography. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that they ever met and every indication to suggest that they did not. The reasoning you are employing here is difficult to distinguish from wishful thinking. Certainly, John could have known none of them. They were dead by his time.

      I see the differences of the gospels as being due to the authors’ being members of vastly differing theological groups. They had very different views on who Jesus was and each author would be shocked and appalled by current Christian theology.

      Indeed, I see the gospels and all books contained within the bible as being written by (mostly) men inspired by their religion, as science inspires me. But there is no need whatsoever to invoke the supernatural in regards to the bible or its contents. Any naturalistic explanation, no matter how remotely probable, is infinitely more probable than a miracle.

      But it has been interesting. If nothing else we have reaffirmed each others beliefs and the mutual respect is appreciated.

  8. Shamelessly,

    I don’t delete comments on my blog. If a commenter makes a terribly vile comment, I might (perhaps) delete it, but I probably won’t. It lets anyone reading the blog, see what type of person that individual is.

    And if I make a mistake, or misstate something, I’ll thank the person for bringing it to my attention. That just happened this week. I thought an individual was name-calling, but turns out it he didn’t. I just thanked him for explaining it.

    Now, secondly, your accusation.

    “Secularism … treats everyone equally and fairly. Fundamentalist Christians like you hate that. They see being unable to force their brand of belief on everyone else as an infringement on their rights.”

    Not true. I do not want to force ANYONE to believe. God gives everyone free will 🙂 (a topic for later, I know). God gives everyone a choice.

    Let me explain it.

    You are like an individual in the middle of the ocean who is about to drown. And Jesus Christ is giving you the FREE GIFT of lifeline. All you have to do is accept it. Take it. If you do, you are saved. If not, that was your decision.

    • I think you misunderstand my position. I have no problems with belief. As a secularist I acknowledge the right of every individual to their belief. And I respect that you respect my right to disbelief.

      Sure, I get annoyed that you claim that skepticism has a bias without acknowledging your own bias of accepting beliefs as being true without evidence, but you’re an intelligent guy. crsptch is not.

      Ironically, I would have been far more impressed with him if he could come up with a better insult. From his blogs it is clear that he is a bigot. You are neither a bigot nor one to erect the all-to-oft raised straw man of an atheist, and I appreciate that. Let me be clear- you are not like crsptch, though I think you do lean to a bias that atheists are rejecting the existence of God simply because we want to. That’s simply not the case.

      I’m not making generalizations about religious bloggers, just that one. As I said, the reason that I blocked crsptch because his comments were devoid of content and I didn’t foresee that he would provide

      As for my secularist tendencies, my problem is when the state begins to promote a particular belief system. For instance, prayer in school. I am not advocating that children in families that practice Christianity do not pray in school. Nor does any secularist. This is a common propaganda tactic of the religious right. It is institutionalized prayer, where a teacher is paid by the state to lead everyone in prayer without regard for anyone’s family’s belief system, which was correctly removed. Secularism is not to be equated with atheism.

      Or the placement of the Ten Commandments in a court building, particularly since western legal systems owe far more to Roman and Greek legal traditions.

      Or that a political candidate’s religious belief actually has anything to do with their ability to fulfill the duties of the office they are running for. (You folks south of the border could learn a thing or two from us Canucks on that score.)

      It is this erosion of the wall separating church and state which is frightening. Once that wall is gone, nothing stops the slide into theocracy. The scariest part is that Canada doesn’t have that wall at all.

      I disagree that there is anything free about this gift in your implied Wager. People that promote the Wager get it all wrong. If I’m wrong, I will spend an eternity in torment. If that is the case, I would not worship that kind of god anyway. If you are wrong, you will have lived your whole (I presume) single existence based on a lie. Since we only know in the verified sense about this one life, I can only draw the conclusion that I should live my life for this life, if you know what I mean. Promises of an afterlife are empty when there is no evidence for it.

      Oh, sure, there are reports of NDEs, but those can be induced in a centrifuge. Some of the stories pilots in training come out of a centrifuge are pretty intense experiences. I have no reason to accept that NDEs are real when I have a vastly more probable natural explanation.

      Could I be wrong? Sure. Do I think I am wrong? Not on my life. Evidence is key for me, and we are lacking any of it even though an extraordinary claim is being made. Thus I attach no confidence to the claim.

      As for free will…. There are far too many problems with the traditional dualist contra-causal free will (which I presume you are speaking of). But, even if I accept contra-causal free will, I see no need for there to be a deity that supplies it. But I am a compatibilist, so the point is moot.

      Anyway, I’m ravinous and on a diet to lose 10 lbs, so I’m off to get some sushi.

  9. “Sure, I get annoyed that you claim that skepticism has a bias without acknowledging your own bias of accepting beliefs as being true without evidence, but you’re an intelligent guy. crsptch is not.”

    Of course, I accept my own bias of accepting the Bible by faith. There is a great deal of evidence of the truth of the Bible. LastingLewis did a wonderful job pointing them out. But it eventually, gets down to faith.

    But yes, I am biased. And I believe the Bible. And yes I reason in a circle, because I take it on its authority.

    My point concerning empiricism and skepticism and materialism, is to point out the circular nature of the reasoning, the presuppositions, and the unprovable premises. 🙂

    • Okay. That comment ended up in spam because you mentioned crsptch. Sorry about that.

      The difference is that we can demonstrate to a high degree that naturalism (there are some small but key differences between naturalism and materialism, and I prefer naturalism) works. It’s as simple as that. I have no need to show that it is the only possibility simply because no other epistemology can show that it works, let alone works as well as naturalism. Faith of the kind you are talking about does nothing for me. So, regardless that I can’t prove that naturalism is true, the fact (yes, FACT) that there is no other explanation for observable phenomena (I refute that a supernatural agent is an explanation since it provides no mechanism for producing said phenomenon and is thus simply a substitute for our ignorance).

      It is this ability to demonstrate that naturalism is successful that places it in a completely different category from faith.

      Skepticism? EVERYBODY should be a skeptic! Indeed, everyone IS a skeptic about the things they reject. If you accept one claim without evidence, why not homeopathy? Iridology? Astrology? Unless you are fickle in your beliefs, you have to have some reason for what you do not accept. That’s skepticism. And, as I said before, I am indeed skeptical about skepticism. And the conclusion that I have come to is that skepticism is a valid point of view.

      I certainly have no problem with an inability to prove anything about them. They work. Nothing else has been demonstrated to work, let alone as well. Good enough for me.

      I must admit, the more I study textual criticism the more I feel justified in rejecting Christianity. A lot of what LastingLewis said was wishful thinking that textual criticism does not support. For instance, the author of Luke interacting with any of the apostles. There’s simply no evidence for it. Nor is there evidence prior to the Gospel of John that Jesus ever claimed divinity, evidence of an evolving theology. The terms ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’ that are used in earlier gospels do not have anything about divinity attached to them.

  10. I pulled up a quote that you wrote in the past:

    “If atheists such as myself are wrong, I will simply stand before my maker (please do not quote mine me hear, making it look as if I actually believe this nonsense – this is just a hypothetical argument, remember), accept responsibility for being wrong and say what Bertrand Russell would say: “Not enough evidence!” If believers are wrong, their belief will have cheated from them the one life they get. In essence, contrary to what most believers claim with Pascal’s Wager, they lose everything.”

    You also wrote today:
    “If I’m wrong, I will spend an eternity in torment. If that is the case, I would not worship that kind of god anyway. If you are wrong, you will have lived your whole (I presume) single existence based on a lie.”

    If you’re willing to risk going to hell 🙂 then I’m willing to happy and content living my life based on a lie. Unless, you want to argue I’m not happy. So, I don’t see much merit in your anti-wager.

  11. “It is this ability to demonstrate that naturalism is successful that places it in a completely different category from faith.”

    Pragmatism? What works?

    Instead of repeating myself, my reply is here.

    http://pullmanwainfoaboutjesuschrist.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/the-empiricist-reasons-in-a-circle/

  12. If you’re willing to risk going to hell then I’m willing to happy and content living my life based on a lie. Unless, you want to argue I’m not happy. So, I don’t see much merit in your anti-wager.

    I’m only pointing to one of a number of serious flaws in the Wager that is usually overlooked. I’m not using it as an argument for my position.

    Nor do I consider hell (an invention of later Christianity and wasn’t even around at the time of Jesus) any risk at all. I mention the possibility of my being wrong only to maintain intellectual honesty, not because I think there is any risk.

    I was going to say ‘pragmatic’ but for some reason didn’t. But, yes. And really, to simply call it pragmatic does a disservice to the immense success of naturalism and empiricism that I don’t think can be disputed.

    Again, I have no need to prove that empiricism is the only way to knowledge about or that naturalism is the only explanation for phenomena. It is the only way that science has found which can be shown to work and it is thus a conclusion of science, not an a priori assumption. It is indeed inductive, but so what?

    Operationally I have to use what works. If some other epistemology came along that could be demonstrated to work I would accept it. So far this has not been the case, nor is it likely to occur any time soon. And contrary to what William Lane Craig has to say, verification is paramount. Science would get into all sorts of woo if this was not the case.

    If we can’t observe a phenomenon in some way, either with our senses or using instrumentation, how do we know it is there? How can we intelligibly speak about it, or its very existence? You can say revelation, but I see no way to distinguish revelation from a wild guess or the ravings of a lunatic in the absence of empirical evidence. You either believe it or you don’t. That’s not good enough.

    If you consider that arguing in a circle, well, so be it. I’m comfortable with that. But the fact that naturalistic explanations based on empirical observations can be demonstrated does indeed place the two in a completely different category. Revelation, by its very nature can not be demonstrated to be correct or, just as importantly, incorrect. I don’t equate the value of the two situations in the least.

  13. “If you consider that arguing in a circle, well, so be it. I’m comfortable with that.”

    Good enough for me. 🙂

    “But the fact that naturalistic explanations based on empirical observations can be demonstrated does indeed place the two in a completely different category. Revelation, by its very nature can not be demonstrated to be correct or, just as importantly, incorrect. I don’t equate the value of the two situations in the least.

    Just part of your a priori commitment that concepts must be demonstrated empirically.

    Like I said to you on my blog,

    Your argument is that we should trust only a methodology of verification (empiricism) because we can verify it (pragmatism).

    I only trust a methodology of faith because I believe it. 🙂

    You said: “I don’t equate the value of the two situations in the least.”

    It’s hard to justify that your circular reasoning is better than mine. Because, the issue is epistemology. You reject faith in revelation. I accept empiricism in the physical realm, but realize it’s insufficient for metaphysical questions. Never shall the twain meet. 🙂


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