« Most Parents Aren't Ready to Train Their Own Kids, So Let Us Help You! | Main | Never Read a Press Release Headline »

October 12, 2013

Comments

100% spot on, brother J, and I would add the claim that the Gospels are unreliable because of "un-reasonable" evidence highlights the double standard that is in place when it comes to assessing the validity of the Gospels.

In other words, the Bible has proven itself reliable and accurate in a plethora of other areas; even more so than most historical documents we study today. However, for those other historical documents, we are so apt to give them the benefit of the doubt on things we're not quite sure of on the basis of the documents having established a "good track record", therefore they are a "reliable" source.

Yet when it comes to the Bible, apparently nothing less than absolute, total convincing proof will suffice to be able to call it a reliable document. This really amounts to intellectual dishonesty, and is reminiscent of Jesus' words to the Pharisees, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign..."

Skeptics and critics of Christianity reject the mere possibility of the virgin conception because their philosophical naturalism

When I call myself a skeptic, I just mean that I withhold belief in the absence of sufficient evidence. That goes for philosophical naturalism too. I do believe in the natural world. But the claim that that's all there is is another thing. As for naturalism: it seems like, were there something more, there would be some sign of it and there isn't - to my knowledge.

A virgin conception? OK. Show me the evidence.

Some of the skeptics believe that, given enough time, frogs turn into princes. To each their fairy tale.

It would restore my faith in humanity if just one Christian would reply to this post explaining why "it's possible, therefore it's reasonable" is not an argument Christians should use.

Some of the skeptics believe that, given enough time, frogs turn into princes.
Francesco,

Is this meant to respond to my comment?

I guess by 'frogs turn into princes' you are referring to common descent?

There is a lot of very good evidence for common descent.

It's enough to convince many who would call themselves scientific skeptics.

It's enough to convince many who would call themselves skeptics of Christianity.

And it's also enough to convince many Christians - like John Polkinghorne, Francis Collins and Micheal Behe.


"Naturalism Accepts At Least One “Extra-Natural” Event Most of us already accept the reasonable reality of at least one “extra-natural” (aka “miraculous”) event. The Standard Cosmological Model of naturalism is still the “Big Bang Theory,” a hypothesis that proposes that all space, time and matter (all the elements of the natural universe) had a beginning (a “cosmological singularity”). Whatever the cause was, it could not have been something from the natural realm, as this realm was what resulted from the “singularity.” - See more at: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2013/10/does-the-unreasonable-nature-of-the-virgin-conception-invalidate-the-story-of-jesus.html#comments"

This is a weak point. If you posit a "beginning" you must posit a "before-the-beginning". If I hold that reality has always existed, I circumvent the already borderline non-sequitur of this argument.

Daniel

Daniel

" If I hold that reality has always existed, I circumvent the already borderline non-sequitur of this argument."

Reality is comprised of content in some form or other. Science tells us that the reality that is this universe did not always exist and all its contents also did not exist until they began to exist. So, what caused the universe to exist had to exist outside it and prior to it. The only question here is identifying the reality of that cause.

BTW- I think you have a point that reality existed prior, but on my view that reality is the eternal creator as the adequate cause for the effect of the universe.

RonH

Although I am skeptical of common descent, I will grant it for the sake of discussion.

The materialist, however, has two "miracles" for which they have no answer or evidence. One has been mentioned already, the beginning of the material universe.

The other is the origin of life (OOL). There is no coherent naturalistic mechanism to explain it.

I would argue that the same Mind that created life can also cause a virgin to conceive. What say you?

Hi John P & Louis Kuhelj,

Big Bang cosmology contains no theory nor any observation of nothing.

The same can be said for the rest of physics.

There is no physics of nothing.

No matter how many times William Lane Craig says it, Big Bang cosmology is not evidence for creation from nothing.

Here is a coherent explanation for the origin of life: chemical evolution.

It's not detailed, but it is coherent.

RonH

Some of the skeptics believe that, given enough time, frogs turn into princes. To each their fairy tale.

No one believes this*=. You demonstrate your ignorance of evolution and common descent by stating this.

Frogs and people share a common ancestor. No frog will EVER become a homo sapien.

And, unlike the virgin birth, there is abundant evidence that this is true.

One has been mentioned already, the beginning of the material universe.

Many cosmologists reject the idea of a Big Bang and support the idea of an oscillatory universe in which the universe previously contracted and then "bounced" back to form our universe. No beginning is implied in this model. The universe has always existed. Just like god, but at least we can detect the universe. Unlike god.

The other is the origin of life (OOL). There is no coherent naturalistic mechanism to explain it.

And "God did it!" is coherent? It says nothing.

The RNA World hypothesis is certainly coherent and has evidence to support it or something like it. Nucleotides have self-assembled themselves in the lab from building blocks. Once the process is started, natural selection takes over and the ramp in complexity is probably inevitable.

Science tells us that the reality that is this universe did not always exist and all its contents also did not exist until they began to exist.

Some scientists may believe this (although I strongly suspect that you are straw-manning their arguments) but not all scientists believe this. The great thing about science is that you must provide evidence to support your claims unlike religion where dogma rules without evidence.

Although I am skeptical of common descent...

It's good to be skeptical of arguments that conflict with what we perceive to be the way the world works. Have you actually investigated the very strong evidence (mainly from genetics) that supports common descent, or is your skepticism based upon that you just don't like the conclusion?

If you are really interested in the scientific evidence for common descent, I can point you to several popular science books. Most Christians will admit that no evidence, no matter how strong, will ever convince them that evolution by means of natural selection could be true. That's not skepticism. That's fanaticism.

In other words, the Bible has proven itself reliable and accurate in a plethora of other areas; even more so than most historical documents we study today.

How so? There is ZERO archaeological evidence for the Exodus, for example. Other archaeological evidence indicates that the ruins of Ai and Jericho were separated by about 500 years. There is no physical evidence of a Great Flood. There is no evidence that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were anything like those described in the bible. It seems that the only history of the bible that can be confirmed concerns the existence of the great empires of the time (Assyria, Babylonia, Rome).

Yet when it comes to the Bible, apparently nothing less than absolute, total convincing proof will suffice to be able to call it a reliable document

If a document claims to be the very revelation of a perfect and all-powerful god, shouldn't it be subjected to a more rigorous standard than The Iliad, for example?

The unreasonable nature of the "Virgin Conception" doesn't invalidate Matt & Luke's stories, Isaiah 7 itself invalidates them: ...it has nothing to do with either a virginal conception or with a messiah. This was known at the outset and 2000 years of Christian apologetic still appeals virtually only to people who already believe (inculcated as children) or who entered into Christianity profoundly ignorant of the Bible. (This includes Jewish converts to Christianity.)


My great-great grandmother was a virgin. She conceived and delivered a male child and she actually did call him by the name of "Immanuel." Not by some other theophoric name that carried a similar sense, she actually name him "Immanuel." As per prophecy: Immanuel. Period. So my great grandfather fulfilled Isa 7:14 better than Jesus did.


I'm really, really glad that Matt was placed first in the New Testament. More than anything else, Matt, in his very first story – (and which Luke obliges by doing again with his) – announces in neon, up front, that any time an author of the Gospels claims or implies that an event in the life or death of Jesus is a fulfillment of Hebrew scripture the honest, reader should ask:

1. Did the event really even happen at all?
2. How is the author using that verse of Hebrew scripture and why?
3. Does the Hebrew verse supposedly "fulfilled" really even apply? Does it make sense as fulfillment? Is it really even messianic?
4. Or has it been ripped totally out of context and given a brand-new interpretation or application with the express purpose of making Jesus "appear" to be the Jewish messiah to pagans and other people ignorant of Hebrew scripture?

(For instance, if Jesus fulfilled Isa 7:14 then he must have also fulfilled vss. 15-16, too. Of course, satisfactory for the believer, there's an apologetic for those verses but it's even more lame than what's used for 14.)


It's hard to miss the obvious: ...Paul certainly believed Jesus was the Jewish messiah and fulfillment of Hebrew scripture but he provided no story, no narrative. He presented his own personal theology and his own interpretation of scripture that, as often as not, was opaque and hard to understand, idiosyncratic, or downright wrong or strange. And he could sell it only to the relatively educated pagan Greeks and only in rather limited numbers.

Years later, when all of the principals were dead or gone, the Gospels wrote STORY, not history. And still, significantly for an increasingly Greek audience. But STORY that was easier to transmit and understand and remember than Paul's theology. (And which, of course, included the invention of an "empty tomb" and literal, bodily appearances to make more concrete the original BELIEF that, in some *SPIRITUAL* sense, Jesus had been resurrected.)

They *USED* Hebrew scripture to create "fulfillment story." They invented stories from scratch because they had found a scripture they could attach to it and claim "Fulfillment!" Or they attached non-messianic and even nonsense verses to actual events, re-interpreted them as messianic, and claimed "Fulfillment!"


Without being Jewish and without even believing the Bible is the word of a god it's still easy to see that the "Old Testament" and Judaism and the rabbis make a much, much stronger case against Jesus, and against Christianity and the New Testament, than the latter make for themselves or for Jesus. The “Virgin Conception” is only one example and a great place to start. It’s appropriate that the New Testament begins with it.


The invention of the "Christ Myth" from out of the Jewish life and Roman death of Jesus of Nazareth was simply the conversion of a dead, false, failed Jewish messiah into a living, true, successful Christian messiah thru the creative use of Jewish scripture. And it can be very powerful and seductive – for people ignorant of Jewish scripture & messianism.

It began with the hope and belief, while Jesus was alive, that he was the Jewish messiah and the *BELIEF*, after he was dead, that he had been spiritually "resurrected." That original belief had no more to do with an empty tomb than Jesus' birth had to do with a virgin conceiving.

Great story, though.

RonH does AJG speak for you regarding the RNA hypothesis of OOL? Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU has this to say of the RNA theory: "Picture a gorilla at an immense keyboard [that] contains not only the symbols used in English and European languages but also…from every other known language and all of the symbol sets stored in a typical computer. The chances [of functional RNA molecules forming by themselves] can be compared to those of the gorilla composing, in English, a coherent recipe for the preparation of chili con carne…the spontaneous appearance of RNA chains on the lifeless Earth would have been a near miracle.”

Doesn't sound very coherent to me. Any other ideas on OOL?

John P,

You and I and the professor all agree that life on Earth is probably not the result a single event that, although ridiculously improbable, happened anyway.

You can tell that, like all those who offer such analogies, Shapiro is attacking a straw man. Just imagine an origin of life researcher beginning a presentation

Picture a gorilla at an immense keyboard...
Nobody is proposing anything like this.


John P,

Did you just go Googling to find the first credentialed person to support your claim? I have no idea who Robert Shapiro is or what his credentials are for stating that. The RNA world hypothesis is just one of several. I strongly suspect that within the next decade that science will demonstrate at least one pathway to life from non-life. Once that happens, the work is done.

Regardless of how unlikely it was, life happened. Now, what's the best explanation for how it occurred: (1) God did it or (2) natural chemical processes?

BTW, I'm still waiting for you to state why you are skeptical of common descent. Is it just because it makes you uncomfortable or do you have justifiable reasons for your skepticism. Other than it contradicts the Genesis account, of course.

AJG:
Wiki entry on Robert Shapiro:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Shapiro_(chemist)
No, I didn't Google for the results, although I did do some research. RS is not the only credentialed skeptic of the RNA workd hypothesis. Perhaps you're familiar with a gentleman named Richard Dawkins? (Does he count as credentialed?) “I watch from the sidelines with engaged curiosity, and I shall not be surprised if within the next few years, chemists report that they have successfully midwifed a new origin of life in the laboratory.” – The God Delusion, 2006, p. 165.
It seems that Richard and yourself are of the same faith. He does seem a little more optimistic though. (Or maybe not, you were more specific while "a few years" is subjective, really.)
His current position, as far as I know is that life was seeded on earth by aliens- www.youtube.com/watch?v=t09Pzg9MSZ8‎

You say "The RNA world hypothesis is just one of several. I strongly suspect that within the next decade that science will demonstrate at least one pathway to life from non-life. Once that happens, the work is done." One of several and none of them really come anywhere close to proposing the actuak path from chemicals to a living organism by naturalistic processes. However, I commend your strongly held faith in science. Admittedly, my own faith sometimes wavers.

Why I am skeptical about common descent: Maybe I'm just ignorant. Maybe you can help? How would a single celled organism (for which naturalistic processes cannot account for) develop into a multi-celled organism? Are there any studies/laboratory experiments that show this process?

RonH,
What are your thoughts on OOL? Do you favor any of the current paradigms?

(BTW to STR: I intensely dislike your CATCHA system for posting!!)

Nope, not a one.

Not one Christian reader of this site is willing to step forward and explain why "it's possible therefore it's plausible" is not an argument apologists should use.

Staircaseghost-
Besides you who has made the claim "it's possible therefore it's plausible"?

I am arguing the opposite on the origin of life by purely naturalistic means. It is neither possible nor plausible.

What are your views on OOL?

Staircaseghost-

You may be stating someone's version of the Ontological Argument. It reads thus:

(OA1) It’s possible that an all-surpassingly great being exists (i.e. a being greater than which nothing can be conceived). In other words, an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world.

(OA2) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

(OA3) If an all-surpassingly great being in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world (since the actual world is clearly a possible world).

(OA4) If an all-surpassingly great being exists in the actual world, then an all-surpassingly great being actually exists.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/ontological-argument-for-the-existence-of-god#ixzz2hnhMdHWM

I don't personally use this as a point of discussion, however it does have its merits, especially with those who hold to a "many worlds" or "many universes" form of explaining the origin of our own universe (to try to counteract the design apparent in our universe).

John P,

I am arguing the opposite on the origin of life by purely naturalistic means. It is neither possible nor plausible.

You are not arguing.

You can't argue that something is implausible.

Plausibility is subjective.

But to show that something is impossible, you must have an argument .

Did you make such an argument?

If you really look for an argument that abiogenesis is impossible you will fail and (if you are honest with yourself) immediately abandon the claim.

If you try merely to calculate the probability of abiogenesis (properly) you will soon see it is hopeless.

I encourage you to take these two projects on - in order.

It will give you a basis upon which to evaluate statements like Shapiro's.


Why I am skeptical about common descent: Maybe I'm just ignorant. Maybe you can help? How would a single celled organism (for which naturalistic processes cannot account for) develop into a multi-celled organism? Are there any studies/laboratory experiments that show this process?

Read this book if you're interested in how eukaryotic life may have arisen from prokaryotes.

http://www.amazon.com/Power-Sex-Suicide-Mitochondria-Meaning/dp/0199205647

Actually, anything written by Nick Lane will help you to get from there to here.

"Besides you who has made the claim 'it's possible therefore it's plausible'?"

Am I the only person here who actually read Wallace's post? That is his entire argument.

It is possible that supernatural events occur.

Therefore it is plausible that mammalian parthenogenesis occurred in the case of Jesus's mom.

Just as it is not unreasonable that Allah will turn you into a cucumber if you vote Republican, and it is not unreasonable that AIDS is caused by witchcraft. After all, if at least one miracle occurred once, it is reasonable to believe any report of any miracle ever...

Unless you can explain cutting edge theories of quantum gravity to me and recreate the origin of life in a test tube before my very eyes, I refuse to admit that I am being unreasonable when I warn you that Allah will turn you into a cucumber if you vote Republican.

Perhaps you're familiar with a gentleman named Richard Dawkins? (Does he count as credentialed?)

Actually, no. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist not a biochemist. He does not have the educational background to make informed hypotheses about abiogenesis and I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you such a thing.

Am I the only person here who actually read Wallace's post? That is his entire argument.

I read it. His other argument is that at least two miraculous processes occurred. To JWW, "miraculous process" means "I don't understand how it could have happened, ergo God...." Therefore since one miracle happened according to his bizarre definition of miracle, other miracles like the virgin birth could have occurred too. At that point, anything goes.

AJG: on mitochondria and the endosymbiotic event-
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/01/on_the_origin_o054891.html
Summary and Conclusion

While we find examples of similarity between eukaryotic mitochondria and bacterial cells, other cases also reveal stark differences. In addition, the sheer lack of a mechanistic basis for mitochondrial endosymbiotic assimilation ought to -- at the very least -- give us reason for caution and the expectation of some fairly spectacular evidence for the claim being made. At present, however, such evidence does not exist -- and justifiably gives one cause for skepticism.

Staircaseghost:
How many times do I have to vote republican before I am turned into a cucumber?

Care to answer my question on OOL?


RonH: You still haven't given me your thoughts on life arising by purely naturalistic processes.

possible vs. impossible: Is it possible or impossible for a virgin to conceive? If it is not possible you must have an argument. If it is possible how would you calculate the probability?

Shapiro's statement: I agree the statement was rhetoric and not science. I merely point out that here is a materialist who studied OOL from a purely naturalistic process and obviously didn't think much of RNA world hypothesis.

For a comprehensive rebuttal try Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell.

Admittedly I'm no kind of scientist, mathemetician, or philosopher. So you guys can run circles around me all day with your rules of argumentation and etc.

However I can read. I can look at the evidence for and against a subject like OOL from purely naturalistic processes and decide that it's absurd based on the evidence we have before us. Any reasonable person can do the same. Thank you for your patience with my lack of philosophical training.

AJG: Do you have anything better for me than "We'll know about OOL within a decade?"

Keep the faith guys.

"How many times do I have to vote republican before I am turned into a cucumber?"

As many times as hominid females have required insemination to become pregnant.

The we'll have a real apples to apples reasonableness fight.

So, apparently no one (including the original author) wants to say, "yes this post puts forward a valid argument". Nor does anyone sympathetic to its conclusion want to say, "there are better arguments, but I wish apologists wouldn't make ones like these". What conclusions do you suppose lurkers are currently forming in light of these developments?

Is it possible or impossible for a virgin to conceive?

Yes! It happens naturally in other species.

But given a story about it happening to a human, the most likely explanation is clearly that the story is fiction. Since we all know fiction exists we don't have to introduce anything new to understand virgin conception as fiction. You'd agree with me were you not otherwise committed.

You still haven't given me your thoughts on life arising by purely naturalistic processes.

I think you want me to say something like None of the 'current paradigms' explains it.

Ok, here you go. None of the 'current paradigms' explains explains it.

Then again, none of them are meant to (completely) explain it.

AJG: Do you have anything better for me than "We'll know about OOL within a decade?" Keep the faith guys.

I doubt know if AJG is right about that. We will have more. But I don't think we'll have the complete answer.

RE: Signature in the Cell

Colloquially, 'information' has everything to do with 'meaning'.

The word 'information' is also in the name of a branch of math called 'information theory'.

The 'information' in 'information theory' has nothing to do with 'meaning'; there is no concept of 'meaning' nor anything like it in 'information theory'.

Fun fact: You can use some aspects of 'information theory' to talk - not terribly usefully - about the chemistry of DNA, RNA, and proteins.

For some reason, Stephen C. Meyer thinks this is profound.

He thinks it must mean that DNA has the the other kind of information - the one that is about meaning and hence 'requires a mind'.

Actually, I think Stephen C. Meyer knows better; he almost says he does.

But then he writes the book anyway. Maybe he just thinks some readers are willing to buy the idea that the gap between the two informations is really bridged.

In any case, you get Signature in the Cell.

Having established how brilliant he is by talking about information theory and having realized that information theory doesn't serve his purpose, he discards it.

In the end, he bridges the gap (or jumps the shark) between the two informations with the pseudo-scientific term, 'specified complexity' - thus three parents (the two informations plus Steve) conceive a third information: creationist information.

I'll take on "it's possible, therefore plausible." Not sure anyone really claims that. The author states that it is reasonable (possible) that a virgin birth could occur. The real question, I think, is did Jesus resurrect from the dead or not? If such an event was historical, then we could also claim the virgin birth is historical. If God created a new immortal body for Jesus and brought Jesus back from death, then Luke's account of the virgin birth is historical.

Here is the issue behind what you are saying: epistemology. I'll bet you are a positivist (we only know what sense experience says--I call it like I see it). Unfortunately, this is not the way we experience reality and determine if something is real or not. Since in the determination of knowledge, there is a knower, and a receiver, the perceptions of the knower come into play, and we are not birds-eye viewers, but are involved in the process of knowing. Also, deconstruction is impossible, because there is, in fact, something being known. Thus, the correct epistemology is called "critical realism", an epistemology that takes into account the knower and that which is being known.

By using such an epistemology, we come to know what is reality. For instance, if I lived in San Diego and my mother called to tell me that a lion, tiger, and bear were walking down her street, I would not believe her (this is outside my experience). But if I had picked up the paper that morning and read that the San Diego zoo had issue and the animals had escaped, I might believe her statement was serious and is fact. Through logical give and take, we come to know reality.

Thus, with drastic claims that are outside of our experience, we must use an epistemology of critical realism to evaluate whether this is historically true or not (please note that this is not a science experiment, but history). Such an evaluation, at least for me, reveals that there are some important facts that we can regard as historical, such as Jesus' crucifixion, the empty tomb, and his resurrection. I think by proxy, I can confidently make the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and this is historical fact.

If you would like to know more about this, you might want to try reading N.T. Wrights "Jesus and the Victory of God" and "The Resurrection of the Son of God." These two books would give you an idea of why so many believe that the resurrection, and consequently other books in the gospels, are historical facts. You likely disagree because such events go so far outside your sense experience. But carefully examining historical evidence gets us to a historical resurrection of the person of Jesus.

"The author states that it is reasonable (possible) that a virgin birth could occur.

There.

Right there.

You just did what you said "no one" was doing, equating possibility with reasonableness.

"I don't think anyone is arguing that all conservatives are racists. I'm just saying that conservatives (racists) have lots of bad policies."

Wallace argues, apparently with a straight face, that if you cannot explain "why there is something instead of nothing", then you are not allowed to say that Allah turning someone into a cucumber is an unreasonable belief. Leaving one to wonder exactly what would count as being unreasonable under such a method.

If you believe it's possible for God to work miracles, then it is never unreasonable to believe any miracle anyone ever claims he might have done...

Staircaseghost-
I've voted republican many more times than the limit you have chosen, and hey- I'm still not a cucumber. Whattaya know.

Still dodging the OOL question I see. Stay on those cucumbers- they're doing wonders for you.

RonH-
So your faith isn't as strong as Dawkins or AJG. We'll know more but we won't have a complete answer. Matbe you should read more Dawkins to strengthen your faith.

I brought up Meyer in the context of RNA world. He does a thorough job in his book of dismantling the hypothesis, not using "meaningless" information but established science.

However as far as the information in a cell goes, I'm not sure what you mean when you say the information in a cell/DNA has no "meaning". However allow me to show my ignorance without doing a whole search and read on the subject.

A cell is filled with machinery. Similar to a computer, it has hardware and software. A computer is just a hunk of junk without computer code. A cell is just a small lump of whatever without DNA code. The simplest cell uses the DNA code to carry out the functions of life, and they are many and complicated beyond comprehension.

Now the code in DNA may mean nothing to you, but it means everything to the cell in question. So it sounds to me like the meaning you are talking about is subjective. Maybe that's just my ignorance talking.

JBerr-
Well said.

Staircaseghost, I think you've missed the point of the post. Jim isn't trying to prove the virgin birth happened in this post (i.e., "it's possible therefore it's plausible," as you put it). Instead, he's making the very modest claim that you can't automatically rule it (and all of Christianity because of it) out as unreasonable. To do so would basically be circular reasoning: i.e., "We know this virgin birth couldn't have happened because we know supernatural events don't happen because no supernatural thing has ever happened." No amount of evidence can get past that. If you're trying to discover whether or not something supernatural happened, you can't begin with the assumption that nothing supernatural ever happened.

It's a step past this one to determine whether or not it's likely.

John Pennell,

However as far as the information in a cell goes, I'm not sure what you mean when you say the information in a cell/DNA has no "meaning"

Hm.

Now the code in DNA may mean nothing to you, but it means everything to the cell in question. So it sounds to me like the meaning you are talking about is subjective. Maybe that's just my ignorance talking.
Did you read the Meyer's book?

John, you asked if I 'favor any of the current paradigms'.

This sounds like you think the whole field can be described as a set of alternatives, each a complete solution to the problem in itself and each contradicting all others.

Since we don't have a complete solution, all are 'failures'.

I'd encourage you not to think this way.

The ideas have all been proposed for reasons.

So, think of them as potential contributors to a solution instead of grading them all 'F' because they fail to solve the whole problem.


RonH, People in the field seem to disagree with you. I've read several articles by scientists in the OOL field that seem to say they're nowhere even close to any kind of solution. Most of the paradigms don't work together but actually cancel each other out. I'm not the one grading the F, the scientists doing the work are.

Let me take a moment to apologize. I have been overly "snarky" in my commenting and you have been patient and polite. I've been convicted by your evenhanded attitude. (The stuff about cucumbers unduly upset me I guess haha).

I haven't read the whole book, just parts here and there. So many books, so little time!

But what I said about the cell still makes sense to me. Can you point out the fault in my thinking?

"I think you've missed the point of the post. Jim isn't trying to prove the virgin birth happened in this post (i.e., "it's possible therefore it's plausible," as you put it).

I am at a loss to understand how anyone could confuse

1) X happened
2) Even if false, you are not being unreasonable if you believe X happened
3) It is a naked logical possibility that X happened.

And yet, here we are again.

Wallace argues that it is not unreasonable to believe X happened. His sole argument in this post is that it is possible that it happened.

Don't you agree (as I assure you many supernaturalist, Bible-believing disappointed lurkers agree) that the general possibility of a miracle-working god doesn't mean that any and every miracle claim ever, up to and including hurricanes to punish gay days at Disneyworld and TM-levitators is a completely reasonable stance to take?

Are you really going to bite the bullet and say that unless you can explain (to a non-physicist's satisfaction!) "why there is something instead of nothing", and predict the outcome of OOL research decades in the future (to a non-biologist's satisfaction!), then you wouldn't ever dare to say someone is being unreasonable when they say Dear Leader Kim Jong Il shot a 38-under par round on North Korea's only golf course, including 11 holes-in-one, the first time he ever picked up a golf club? (Not making this one up - this is actually believed by millions of actual people)

Now, there are other arguments you might put forward as to why belief in virgin births is reasonable. Some of them might even be right! But what I am looking for is someone to either defend the actual, specific argument, as given in the original post, or admit that it's really not very good.

It's not like admitting that someone gave a bad argument for a true conclusion is some sort of shame! But I have to tell you, on behalf of all the lurkers who are where I once was, a Christian doubter looking to apologetics for answers (isn't that what this site's ministry is all about?) the persistent failure of apologists to admit any errors was the number one driver of my deconversion.

No Ron, my comment about frogs and princes was just my reaction to the original post.

I don't see a problem with the virgin birth. The mind that created the genetic code could have easily arranged a little change in the matrix.

I wonder instead about the astounding creative power of random mutations.

Possible and reasonable are not the same thing. Just because something is possible does not mean it is reasonable. Is it possible that a 10 year old boy will beat Lebron James at a game of one on one basketball? Yes it could happen, say, if Lebron let him win or if he got injured or something like that. But it's not reasonable to assume that would happen. Using logic to determine if something is reasonable is different from determining if it is possible. As far as the virgin birth goes, you likely will not think that historical unless you believe the resurrection is historical. But since the resurrection is historical fact, a belief in the virgin birth is neither impossible nor unreasonable. If you don't believe Jesus' resurrection is historical fact, though, then it might be reasonable for you to assume that the virgin birth is unreasonable and impossible.

We can determine that the resurrection is historical fact in the same way we determine that Caesar crossed the Rubicon. We can't do a scientific experiment on historical facts, but yet we accept them all the time (the holocaust occurred). The main reason people reject something like the resurrection of the dead is because it is outside their experience. We know by nature that the dead don't come back to life. However, upon examining the data carefully as historians, the data shows that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, enough data to take it as historical fact. Of course, the atheist here will disagree.

I would like to respond to the post by Shelama. The problem that you have, Shelama, is that you don't understand second temple Judaism. If the disciples of Jesus were going to concoct a story about him, the last thing they would have done is to come up with the story they came up with (your post sounds something like Edward Schilbeeckx, can't ever spell his name right). They wouldn't have said that one person physically resurrected from the dead. In fact, this idea was so weird that whenever Jewish Christians would explain this to their counterparts, Jews couldn't wrap their heads around it. Resurrection was supposed to be an apocalyptic event where God returns to the earth and ends the results of sin and destroys the pagans' power. One person resurrected from the dead and is now immortal? "So what?" a Jew would have said. There is no such thing as spiritual resurrection, Shelema, that is complete nonsense. Existentialist philosophy won't come around for another few centuries. Resurrection in first temple Judaism is the physical resurrection of a body that thereby becomes immortal. Jewish Christians also had a hard time dealing with this and had to go back and rethink Old Testament scripture completely. That's what Matthew is doing. But usually, if you'll read carefully (like reading the passage quoted in context), you'll find that there is more to Matthew's point than just the scripture quoted.

"Possible and reasonable are not the same thing. Just because something is possible does not mean it is reasonable."

My faith in humanity is restored. Someone agrees with me that JWW's argument as stated is a failure.

You cannot defend the reasonableness of a virgin birth simply by convincing someone that miracles (like the allegedly miraculous origin of the universe) are possible.

Anyone can easily see this for themselves by trying to come up with even a single example of a claim that could be considered unreasonable if this methodology were adopted.

"Spontaneous remissions from cancer do in fact occur -- they're possible -- so I don't see why I'm being unreasonable if I refuse to seek medical treatment for my cancer..."

"Supernatural events do occur -- after all, why is there something instead of nothing? -- so I don't see why I'm being unreasonable when I say AIDS isn't caused by HIV, it's caused by witchcraft..."

The comments to this entry are closed.