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February 04, 2016

Comments

The challenger isn't saying all truth is subjective, but he's just saying nobody can really know the one objective truth. He says all religion is just conjecture.

If he's right that nobody really knows, then his statement isn't self-defeating at all.

Knowledge is like this on all fronts. Scientism is painfully incoherent, so much so that even Non-Theists are giving up on it, which forces upon us [Physics + Something] such that the door into reasoning, logic, and meta-physics is "necessarily" open -- which lands all of us -- Christian, Theist, Non-Theist, or whatever, in the arena of Pure Abstraction.

And the fate thereof.

The problem with the challenge or concern is the same problem as is found in Mr. Moore's reply. It mistakes this uncanny yet inescapable feature of or nature of Knowledge period for being "present" only in religious truth predicates rather than in all truth predicates whatsoever.

It's very myopic. Imprecise. Inaccurate.

Sloppy.

In a com-box at E. Feser's blog, “DNW” states this, which is of relevance here:

Quote:

You said, “Isn't the problem of justification always going to be a shell game? You can always find where I'm dropping a premise, taking something for granted without arguing for it ..."

I'm not accusing you of "dropping a premise" or taking something for granted without arguing for it. I am accusing you of something worse: deliberate intellectual fraud.

I am accusing you of persistently deploying universal terms which have been rendered entirely problematical on your own account, as if they still meant what they once did in a moral universe populated by natural kinds and furnished with teleologically derived normative standards.

It's just all too precious.

Now, I understand, S., as the relative newcomers here might not always, that the nihilist dance routine, and the refrain that it is better to huckster the crowd than to pester about the ultimate, is in fact your operating premise. But, and it's a big ugly but as they say, if you took your own claim of epistemic humility seriously, you would keep this truth about your method at the forefront, and refuse to engage in pseudo-arguments which are in principle incapable of any kind of resolution because of the built-in problems of equivocation; problems of which you are perfectly aware, and have in fact placed there.

Thus, when you launch off on these rhetorical diversions, one can only conclude that these speech acts of yours are base and cynical attempts to simply exhaust those who don't quite get the meta-narrative which lies behind and informs and shapes your surface efforts.

What you need to do, in order to be "truly authentic", is to admit to yourself and to everyone else, why that kind of consistent honesty is so dangerous to those taking your stance; and why, unless relentlessly pressed, you seek to avoid it.

.....By the way, and for what it is worth; I don't wish to leave the impression that I imagine there is some functional equivalence between the concept of a tautology and a spandrel. I was – probably obviously – implying the prosaic image of a cluster of tautological statements giving an appearance of a meaningful structure or system when stacked and leaned up against each other at various angles ... the resultant spaces providing the necessary illusion for pattern projecting subjects to go on to ... etc ...

You know S., and in adverting to the paragraph two above, there is in fact, something profoundly "metaphysical" in that diversionary, dissembling tactic. Something, as you have I believe yourself admitted as anti-logocentric. Something which at the deepest and most profound level takes deceit, and manipulation, to be at the very heart of a "life strategy".

It almost reminds me of ... well ... the paradigm or myth escapes me at the moment. But I am sure it will come to me eventually ...

Till then.

End quote.


It's such an honest and simple question, but that fact it cannot be answered without dodges or accusations of "self-refutation" is such a huge red flag.

The author, Tim, is correct that contradictory objective religious claims cannot all be objectively true. He is also correct that claims based solely on subjective conjecture is not grounds for validating objective truth.

However, for anyone who has stepped foot in a church or talked to people of various non-Christian faiths it is overwhelmingly common for people to give only subjective reasons when asked why they believe their religions to be true. Mormons claim the vague "inner witness of the Holy Spirit" that the LDS is the only true church. Muslims will claim the supposed "perfect inspiration" of the Quran speaks to their hearts that Islam is the one true faith. Christians also make similar claims to the Bible and emotional experiences. In daily life in the real world subjective claims dominates most of these discussions about religion.

There are many different religions in the world; if one what's to claim why theirs is the only true faith that is fine but they than need to back it up with objective evidence. If the claimant cannot provide good reasons or some kind of objective methodology to determine false religious claims from true ones than why should anyone takes such a claim seriously?

It's just common sense. Why attack the person who asks such a reasonable question?

A.J.,

It's not clear that there is an attack.

Rather, there's an examination of premises.

It is a reasonable question presuming "I feel" is the end of it (like the silliness of evolutionary morality being "objective").

Evidence is certainly necessary, as you rightly alluded to.

Your statement:

The Quran teaches that Judas Iscariot was made to look like Jesus and the Romans actually crucified Judas.

Is factually wrong.

Drawn from the Encyclopedia Britannica On-line:

In Muslim polemic literature, Judas ceases to be a traitor; instead, he supposedly lied to the Jews in order to defend Jesus (who was not crucified). The 14th-century cosmographer al-Dimashqī maintains that Judas assumed Jesus' likeness and was crucified in his place.

If not sourced from the Quran, it is core Muslim belief.

DGFisher:

In Muslim polemic literature, Judas ceases to be a traitor; instead, he supposedly lied to the Jews in order to defend Jesus (who was not crucified). The 14th-century cosmographer al-Dimashqī maintains that Judas assumed Jesus' likeness and was crucified in his place. If not sourced from the Quran, it is core Muslim belief.


Yes, that is exactly my point: the Qur'an does not state that Judas was crucified in the place of Jesus. Hence, Tim Barnett should be more careful when writing an article in his blog. Making such an obvious mistake greatly reduces the credibility of the posting.

BTW, I am not sure that we can call it a "core" Muslim belief. The majority of the Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified, but give a variety of explanations (conjectures) of how this supposedly happened.

Its likely Jesus was crucified, highly likely, but now and then you hear of other possibilities and not just from Muslim sources.

One thing that is sometimes pointed out is why Judas had to identify Jesus? Here was someone who was drawing large crowds and disrupting Jerusalem, doing miracles, triumphant entry, etc. So the theory goes Judas pointed out someone other than Jesus and thus a substitute was crucified. Which would also explain why Jesus was seen after the crucification, according to this low probability theory.

I think PBS did a TV show along similar grounds. They may have taken the position that Jesus survived the crucifixion, I don't remember, but then they gave theories as to where Jesus went after the cross since he wouldn't have wanted to hang in the area as he would be discovered and then actually crucified or crucified again, whatever the case may have been.

Michael,

One thing that is sometimes pointed out is why Judas had to identify Jesus? Here was someone who was drawing large crowds and disrupting Jerusalem, doing miracles, triumphant entry, etc. So the theory goes Judas pointed out someone other than Jesus and thus a substitute was crucified. Which would also explain why Jesus was seen after the crucification, according to this low probability theory.

This is incoherent. The first part suggests that Jesus was readily recognizable, so Judas shouldn't have needed to identify Jesus. The second part suggests that Jesus was so unrecognizable that no one would have noticed him misidentifying Jesus.

^ You've got to be kidding... Seriously didn't mean to screw up those block quotes. Anyway...

AmazingJ,

It looks like Tim is responding directly to a challenge he received. It's not Tim's fault that the person presenting the challenge did so in such a sloppy manner.

It's true that a lot of theists don't give much reason for their beliefs beyond their subjective experience. But there are arguments for Christian theism which rely on objective evidence. So the person who pretends that there is only subjective evidence for Christianity is just as ignorant as the person only appeals to subjective evidence for Christianity.

"All religious claims are conjecture"

What does the entire distinction between religious and non-religious claims come down to?

  1. Is every claim either religious or non-religious?
  2. Is the conjunction ("A and B") of any two religious claims itself a religious claim?
  3. Is the denial ("It is not the case that A") of a religious claim itself a religious claim?
  4. Is anything logically equivalent to a religious claim also a religious claim?
  5. Are the answers to questions 2-4 for non-religious claims the same?
We're tempted to answer "yes" to all questions.

I mean, on item-1, you have to answer "yes". Otherwise how do you even say there is a category of religious claims? It seems that as soon as you say there is a category of religious claims there is also a second category that includes every other proposition...these are the non-religious claims.

And, on item-2, what are you going to say? "God exists" is religious, "Satan exists" is religious, but "Both God and Satan exist" might not be? Absurd.

Likewise, on item-3, "God does not exist" seems to be a religious claim. What else would it be? A claim about the weather?

I'm sure that this recognition, that "God does not exist" is itself a religious claim, is why many atheists endeavor to say that they do not affirm that claim. Instead, they say, it's just that they don't affirm "God does exist". They don't want to accept the proposition that atheism is a religion.

I'm not here criticizing that strategy, I'm merely pointing out that even atheists seem to agree that "God does not exist" is a religious claim. This is because, in general, to deny a religious claim seems to be the making of a different religious claim.

What is more, suppose that you said that the denial of a religious claim need not be religious. So would its denial, then, be a claim that isn't conjecture...but the claim itself is? That also seems ridiculous.

As for item-4, logically equivalent claims are claims that mutually imply each other. The following two claims are logically equivalent:

  • God exists and His name is YHWH
  • YHWH is God, and YHWH exists.
Could the first be religious and the second not be? Again, that sort of situation seems ridiculous.

The funny thing is, though, that all these items that we want to say are all true, are actually logically incompatible. It is logically impossible for them all to be true.

This is a quite general result. If you assume that the set of all propositions can be split into two non-overlapping types, and each type is 'closed' under conjunction, negation and logical equivalence, you are contradicting yourself. There will always be ways of using conjunction and negation to combine the claims within one of the two types to give you something equivalent to a claim that belongs under the other type.

But if there is no real distinction between religious and non-religious claims, then all this talk about religious claims all being anything, be it conjecture, or subjective or whatever you like, turns out to be nonsense.

Many efforts to divide claims into two non-overlapping, but exhaustive types (often with the aim of de-valuing one of the two types), are similarly doomed to fail.

The same, for example, goes for propositions that are matters of conjecture, and propositions that are not matters of conjecture. There is no such distinction.

You just have to live with the fact that what there are are claims...they don't easily split up into type-T and non-type-T, and so you can't use such distinctions to turn one or the other into second-class citizens in the kingdom of claims.

Henri, thanks for the heads-up. The correction has been made now.

" This is incoherent. The first part suggests that Jesus was readily recognizable, so Judas shouldn't have needed to identify Jesus. The second part suggests that Jesus was so unrecognizable that no one would have noticed him misidentifying Jesus. "

Yeah, it is incoherent. I am likely missing some needed details; I was recollecting what I saw on TV or read some time ago. I probably left some important details out; sorry I should be more careful.

Anyhow, the gospel account lacks harmony as well. Jesus had just finished riding into Jerusalem with everyone yelling “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…” and throughout his three years of ministry crowds followed him around so how could the Romans not figure out 1) how to find him and 2) how to identify him? Even Jesus after Judas kisses him says something like “ I was with you every day teaching in the temple “ (something like that, not going to look it up).

So maybe the TV story was that Jesus wasn’t really as well known or popular as the gospels make out thus someone had to point him and thus allowing for an intentional substitution.

"One thing that is sometimes pointed out is why Judas had to identify Jesus?"

It was dark.

"So the theory goes Judas pointed out someone other than Jesus and thus a substitute was crucified."

Something that would have become readily apparent the moment he was in torchlight before the High Priest...long before He was scourged into an unrecognizable pulp.

You think Jesus' enemies would have blithely gone forward killing a patsy?

I can see how killing a patsy might have served Jesus' interest, but I can see no way that it would serve the interests of the priests.

"One thing that is sometimes pointed out is why Judas had to identify Jesus?" It was dark.
One other important matter, WL, the authorities had no clue where Jesus could be found and taken without a general complaint from the Galilean contingent that had come down to the Passover.

Judas' betrayal was not so much identification as to reveal where Jesus could be captured without difficulty.

I think the discussion happening here outlines really well about how much conjecture and speculation are involved in some of these claims. What was Judas's motivations? Why did he need to identify Jesus before he was captured? How do we attempt to verify or disprove the Christian and Islamic versions of the crucifixion?

In a sense these are simply historical claims and we can just evaluate them as we do with all historical claims.

But the problems start arising when the only available evidence are religious texts written decades after the events in societies with low levels of literacy and education. Compounding the problems are the uncertainties in where, when and by whom these texts are written.

We can debate interpretations of these texts all we want, but if we have no way of validating the various claims the results become highly speculative. If something can't be verified to a high level of certainty isn't the honest position to say "My best guess is this probably happened this way, but we really can't say for sure."

What level of historical evidence is enough to justify belief in a miraculous claim?

Is it appropriate to claim "absolute truth" for a proposition that can never be independently validated?

"Judas' betrayal was not so much identification as to reveal where Jesus could be captured without difficulty."

To be sure, DGF, but I supposed that the follow-up would be "Why the Judas-Kiss?" That was because it was dark.

"What was Judas's motivations?"

Thirty pieces of silver.

"Why did he need to identify Jesus before he was captured?"

It was dark.

"But the problems start arising when the only available evidence are religious texts written decades after the events in societies with low levels of literacy and education."

What does the literacy rate have to do with the accuracy of the texts? My knee-jerk answer is "Not a blessed thing".

How do you know that the earliest documents were written decades after the events? The earliest copies we have are decades after the events.

"How do we attempt to verify or disprove the Christian and Islamic versions of the crucifixion?"

The account in the Gospels is supposed to somehow be problemetized by the Islamic account...floated centuries after the events.

Let's begin in our methodology for verifying historical claims with the rule of consistency.

It is utterly obvious why Judas had to identify Jesus. If this is conjecture, then everything is conjecture.

If the claimant cannot provide good reasons or some kind of objective methodology to determine false religious claims from true ones than why should anyone takes such a claim seriously?

It's just common sense. Why attack the person who asks such a reasonable question?

I'm sorry, but who attacked anyone because they asked for evidence of religious claims?

Tim, in fact, offered some evidence. He even offered to come personally explain it to you at your church.

Is answering the question a form of attack?

Maybe "attack" is too harsh a word. But I think to call such a reasonable questions "self-refuting" seems to be attempting to ridicule what appears to be a very fair point. The initial question/comment that was addressed was as below:

"I believe in some type of god/gods, but I choose not to associate that belief with any specific religious teachings, because I've never felt qualified to refute the equally unprovable beliefs of other cultures"

If the claims are in fact un-provable than it is indeed impossible to prove or disprove them. If that is the case it than does seem weird to claim one religious tradition as the "one true religion" as opposed to any other.

This is neither self-refuting nor should be considered uncontroversial.

"You can’t claim anyone’s beliefs to be “right” or “wrong” when it’s all based on conjecture."

Again, if the only evidence offered is conjecture than there is nothing "self-refuting" about the objection.

While we need to talk about specific claims to seem if they are provable or un-provable, many common religious claims fall into this category. For instance:

- What will a person experience after death
- What is the nature and thoughts of a God who exists outside or "beyond" the Universe
- What actions will God take towards mankind in the distance future

If there is an objective way to discover the answers to the above questions I would love to hear them. While I can't speak for any one else I know that I lack the ability to reach beyond space and time so I am unqualified to investigate. I also have yet to hear of a safe method to experience the afterlife prior to dying a permanent death.

Very true.

That there is nothing inherently self-refuting in "T.O.E. #78", so to speak, isn't the whole affair.

In that sense, inherently self-negating T.O.E.'s, such as naturalism / materialism, can at least be brushed off the table of plausible alternatives.

Now, we may not "know" which of the remaining alternatives are true.

But "inherently coherent" is at least still alive with what remains. It's not *all* of what matters. But it is certainly a *part* of what matters.

Of course, when we get right down to it, there just *aren't* that many plausible T.O.E.'s on the table.

Once one has a summary of remaining plausible T.O.E.'s, one then continues employing the sane (same) methodological approach.

Plausible Q&A's narrow fairly rapidly.

Then, on ultimate ends of life after death, or whatever, we repeat the process.

We reach our horizon at some seam somewhere.

Which is predicted, expected.

It fits.

Horizons necessarily fail to be *problematic*, so long as one's methodological approach up to said horizon has been faithful.

Running the race, and running it faithfully, is the sum and substance of the Christian's methodological approach.

That's the beauty of Christianity.

One casually goes about assimilating new information as it arrives, embracing reason, rejecting absurdity, spying reality's contours, following the evidence wherever it goes, loving the unloved, feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, caring for the widow, pouring out one's own Self for one's wife, employing the hard sciences, mastering and subduing physicality and temporal becoming, and reality-testing *all* data points in the collocation of the whole.

Of course, we fail at all points.

But then, Reason and Faith are fully justified in Hope, in pressing forward, in the midst of said failure. Faithfully.

"But I think to call such a reasonable questions "self-refuting" seems to be attempting to ridicule what appears to be a very fair point."

Time didn't call the request for evidence self-refuting.

He said that the claim

You can’t claim anyone’s (religious) beliefs to be “right” or “wrong” when it’s all based on conjecture.
That's not a request for evidence. That's the assertion that all religious claims are conjecture. It's asserted as if it is supposed to be self-evident, proven, or part of the universal experience of humanity.

It is nothing of the sort...indeed, as there are plenty of religious beliefs that are utterly provable...even to most atheists it's actually a laughably false claim.

Here's an example of a major tenet of many of the world's religions that is also accepted as provably true by most atheists

Evil exists

The claim that all religious belief is conjecture may very well be self-refuting as well, I guess that depends on whether the claim "All religious claims are conjecture" is itself a religious claim.

Then there is this, as I noted above in my long comment, this whole distinction between religious claims and non-religious ones really comes to nothing. There are just claims.

Are all claims conjecture?

That really is a self-refuting claim.

If, and I repeat if, there is any truth to the idea that Judas actually identified someone other than Jesus then it follows that the gospel account is not reliable and thus you cannot argue “because it was dark” because the story as written in the gospels would not be historically accurate.

There are other hints that the unknown writer of the story was creating literature and not history because in the Gospel of Matthew he quotes Jeremiah as his source for the 30 pieces of silver story when in fact it was Zechariah.

>> ... in the Gospel of Matthew he quotes Jeremiah as his source for the 30 pieces of silver story when in fact it was Zechariah

Common misconception. In the episode of Judas' death (solely from Matthew, Mt. 27: 3-10) the citations of verses nine and ten intertwines two prophets, Zech. 11: 12, 13 (The weighing out of thirty pieces, the casting in the Temple to a potter) and Jer. 32: 6-9 (the Lord's commission to Jeremiah to purchase a field in the waning days of Judah's history, a legal matter performed simply because "as the Lord commanded me."

Zachariah is usually remembered due to the specifics of the thirty pieces and the potter, but Jeremiah mentions the purchase of the field. As the origin of the acquisition of the field of blood is the focus of this portion of the story, Matthew focuses on the Jeremiah prophecy.

Perhaps an actual cut and paste for the verses would help. Here is Matt 27:6 -10

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.8That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then what was spoken by *Jeremiah* the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”a

Now here is what *Zack* says

So it was broken on that day, and thus the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of the LORD. 12I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13Then the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.…

Now here is what *Jeremy* says

And Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’ 8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD. 9 So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who wasin Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver.

What is it that Bible literalists are always crying out, “context, context, and context.” Jeremy’s verses aren’t even close to pretending to predict the future nor does it fit well with Matt’s rendition. Zack's writing probably are not prophecy either so truth be told neither works but to deny that Matt messed up is a spin to say the least.

Tom Gilson looks at Matthew’s apparent mistake in quoting from Jeremiah in an interesting….. wait for it…… context.

The com-box that follows T. Gilson's OP (opening piece) has a comment which raises a relevant issue:

Quote:

I take particular notice of this remark of yours since IMO, it strikes at the very core of the polemics that atheists generate around the Bible, most particularly the Old Testament.

TG: “I wonder how many skeptics who insist on a contemporary Western reading of the Bible would also insist on the importance of diversity: recognizing, appreciating, and learning from the differences between cultures, and not foisting our grid falsely upon others.”


There is, undeniably, a large dose of what CS Lewis calls “chronological snobbery” as well as cultural snobbery in atheists’ critique of the Bible, and therefore, of the ancient Hebrews’ and everyone else’s understanding of God. Their message is that “You are all wrong about God” since they deny God’s “existence” as the basis for their view of the Bible. Beale and Carson’s work will help clarify the need for understanding context in studying and interpreting the Bible.

End quote.

There is much we are still learning about ancient genres. One would suppose that one would dig for insight rather than blindly infuse our own writing technique into cultures which time, circumstance, and mindsets distance us from.

Fortunately technology has helped, well, everyone in data gathering and concept-testing in the science of historicity.


"If, and I repeat if, there is any truth to the idea that Judas actually identified someone other than Jesus"

But there isn't, so that's OK.

How would that go anyway? Unless you think Jesus had a twin brother in hiding somewhere, wouldn't the priests know that Judas was trying to con them?

I doubt that Matthew himself got anything wrong on the money or on the quotation. But let's suppose he did. Why does that make you think "was creating literature and not history". That makes no sense whatsoever. Doesn't it just mean he sourced something wrong?

BTW, nice try smuggling in the nonsense that Matthew didn't write Matthew.

All the earliest writers say he did. So sorry, no sale there.

Scb,

Because someone recognizes the Bible has errors, contradictions and mythologizes doesn't mean they are atheist. The critics of the Bible are a mixed bag of beliefs.

Regarding Matthew, Zack and Jermey if you read the verses in question from OT books they are talking about events that happened not predicting the future. Just read them yourself, you don't need to be a sheep and be herded into a mental pen.

There is much more to be said but I'm going out to dinner now and family is waiting for me.

Oh, regarding the rabbinic tradition of quoting the least applicable verse I'll need to research that, it sounds fishy to me.

Wisdom Lover,

Give me your very, very, very best source for Matthew, not just any Matthew but the Apostle Matthew writing the Gospel of Matthew and we shall see

Michael,

Odd, but nothing you said was relevant to your initial objection regarding the Matt. quote.

Wisdomlover made some statements earlier that I just now saw and would like to comment.

"How do you know that the earliest documents were written decades after the events? The earliest copies we have are decades after the events."

The earliest copies we have are not decades after the events; there are CENTURIES after the events. The vast majority of surviving full manuscripts actually come from the middle ages, and barring very tiny scraps the earliest documents we have are from the 3rd century onward.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Testament_papyri

However, even though we don't have any original manuscripts scholars can use techniques to estimate when the originals were written.

Jesus is presumed to have been crucified sometime around 30-33 AD. New Testament scholars consider Mark to be the earliest gospel account and the most conservative estimates are that it was written no earlier than the late 50s or early 60s, although many scholars consider Mark to be written later than AD 70. Even given the most conservative estimates Mark was written around 30 years after the events it recorded.

That the earliest gospel accounts were written decades after the events they record is recognized as a fact by even conservative bible believing Christian scholars and apologists. It is not a controversial statement to make.


The lack of any contemporary sources (people writing at the time and places Jesus was presumed to be teaching and traveling) unfortunately means most, if not all, of those events that were recorded cannot be independently verified. So barring some radical new discovery I think it is fair to say much of those events will simply remain a mystery to us.

We can investigate to the best of our ability and make guesses as to whether the recorded events are plausible or reasonable but in they end are no more than our best guesses.

Scb,

Thank you for concise and easy to follow post.

I would like it to be noted that I hate doing this, that is hassling you guys. I like much of Christianity but I don't like Christian apologetics. It appears to be that you start with the answer and work backwards to build an equation, a pseudo-equation, that verifies the answer you want. The process doesn't appear to be for the purpose of discovering truth.

Regarding a reply to your post about my post about Jeremy vs. Zach thing... your linked article was very good, thanks for the info. I have answers but I'm sleepy and want to go to bed. I worked all day today so I'm done for tonight. If I try to type out a reply I'll probably makes some blunders so it will need to wait.

Have a good Super Bowl Sunday, after you get back from church of course.

AJ-

Even on the list given in Wikipedia, there are one or two fragments that date less than a century after the events. I did not mean that we have entire copies...sorry if that's the way it read.

And there is debate about the dating of many of those fragments. Some being dated much earlier by some scholars. You think all the minority opinions are false?

"However, even though we don't have any original manuscripts scholars can use techniques to estimate when the originals were written."

I doubt very much that they really can do this.

And in all events, my main point stands...the accounts of the New Testament cannot be problematized by Islamic suggestions dating from the 7th century.

Michael-

Papias.

Michael(Papias)

I'm interested in expanding on some of the points you made.

"And there is debate about the dating of many of those fragments. Some being dated much earlier by some scholars. You think all the minority opinions are false?"

I would have to see what the arguments are for earlier dating, but one powerful argument is that the apostle Paul, writing to Christian churches as early as 55 AD, never mentions the existence of the written gospel accounts. This silence I find compelling and is one reason why very few people believe the canonical gospels were written and/or circulated before 55 AD.

But you are correct, it is certainly possible that minority opinions, though lacking compelling evidence, could still be true. This means the evidence is not conclusive enough to have a high degree of certainty either way. In other words, all we can say is "We don't know",

This is something I think is really important; historical analysis of events that took place very far (thousands of years) in the past in pre-industrial and pre-printing press societies is not a hard science. It relies on estimates and assumptions of many unknown factors.

"And in all events, my main point stands...the accounts of the New Testament cannot be problematized by Islamic suggestions dating from the 7th century."

Why not? If it is true that Muhammad was a prophet and received his revelation from God it wouldn't matter what earlier texts said.

Muslims say only the Quran is the authoritative and divinely inspired word of God. STR claims that only the 66 books included in popular modern protestant bibles are the only authoritative and divinely inspired word of God.

Are these claims provable with objective evidence? Or are they based on personal opinions that can't be verified?

This is the whole problem involved in claiming one religious tradition as true and all others false.

A.J.

Your entire approach here is unscientific.

Therefore you’ve not established that your demands are even valid demands given the nature of reality-testing truth claims.

Since we know Naturalism / Materialism is self-refuting, and have taken such off of the table of plausible T.O.E.'s., moving forward is somewhat more streamlined.

As for really old manuscripts of whatever flavor, there's an entire science for that. The umbrella term is historicity. Since you seem unfamiliar with it, perhaps you should read up on it.

You seem to approach reality with a kind of "just this slice" mentality, as if one data point is to be examined at the exclusion of all data points.

How unscientific of you. In this thread you tend to reduce a claim about X to a bizarre methodology of looking at ONE DATA POINT.

Why not allow all data points to impact your analysis? Why not allow all data points to inform all data points?

Do you always approach "studying reality" that way? Or only the slices of reality you don't care for?

There are professionals out there who can help you learn how to study historicity, physics, the philosophy of mind, chemistry, metaphysical approaches, genre, and so on. That is, if you think you have anything to learn.

You know, like......

Genre, linguistics, historicity, first century Gentile psychology and fact checking, first century travel and fact checking, first century Jewish psychology and fact checking, legend evolution, specifics peculiar to ancient biography --- to name a few.

Please give a detailed account of the pro/con weighted evidence in all of those, and show us both where and how the irrational ensues. Don't bother wasting our time appealing to the magical thinking composed of “one data point” which excludes all other data points.

You set yourself up in that charmed location where you can invent just any claim you want and then proceed forward with said claim all tucked in, insulated from reality, constituted of one and only one data point, magically separated from all other data points.

Do you approach physics by only looking at biology? Your method here implies that you do. Do you approach metaphysical claims on reality by only looking at documents/historicity? Your method here implies that you do. Do you approach documents/historicity in a vacuum as well without looking at all other data points? Your method here implies that you do.

I hate to break this to you about truth claims, science, and reality-testing one’s premises: Reality just doesn’t work that way.

Just because your method is flawed, that does not constitute a burden to satisfy your request about objectivity. The umbrella of historicity as an isolated data point is well in hand and favors the Christian – by far given what we have relative to….. wait for it…… ancient “non”-religious documents.

This is you: Objectivity of truth claims is “Historicity – Full Stop”.

But that’s a flawed method – and so your request that we approach objectivity by that (flawed) path is rejected.

And besides, relative to... wait for it.... "non"-religious documents of said eras, the science favors the Christian.

As for the “one data point” of historicity – why you would ever allow “that” to be the “only data point” to “weigh in” on truth claims? That is akin to allowing “only” biology to “weigh in” on truth claims about Physics. That is simply irrational. As for that one data point among thousands of other data points, again, since you seem unaware, the obvious:

It's a whole science. That science even has a name. Fortunately today's technological advances have helped the proliferation of said science.

A painfully tedious book, Richard Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” is a tome of over 500 pages.

“………Part of Bauckham’s intention is to show that the old form-critical ways of looking at Gospel traditions were wrong. According to classic form criticism (the basis of the work of the Jesus Seminar), early Christian traditions circulated anonymously in communities that were viewed as if they were faceless collectives (for example, the “Q community”). Bauckham thinks this theory is deeply flawed and suggests instead that there were personal links from the Jesus tradition to known and named tradents (carriers of tradition) throughout the period of transmission right down to when these traditions were included in the Gospels. Bauckham is quite right to insist that analogies with modern folklore to explain how ancient Gospel traditions were handled are simply wrong and anachronistic. The period between the time of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels is relatively short (between 30 and 60-some years, depending on the Gospel), and during that entire time there were still eyewitnesses who could act as checks and balances to the formation of the early Christian tradition. The “period between the ?historical’ Jesus and the Gospels was actually spanned, not by anonymous community transmission, but by the continuing presence and testimony of eyewitnesses, who remained the authoritative sources of their traditions until their deaths,” Bauckham writes.””

At over 500 pages it’s dense. The kindle version is nice for “searching” key words and so on.

In short:

There may be good reasons to discount claim A or B or C, and, there may be good reasons to find such claims credible, just as there are *bad* reasons to reject/embrace claims.

The point is that one must employ a process which looks at all data points and then give a reasoned response which is itself tediously tied to all such data points whether pro or con.

The *absence* of that sort of all data-points-included method of reality-testing is just a flawed "methodology", and, therefore any demands it makes are of no consequence.

BTW: We understand why the Non-Theist does not like to reality-test his premises by allowing each and every data-point to be informed by all other data points.

scbrownlhrm,

"Therefore you’ve not established that your demands are even valid demands given the nature of reality-testing truth claims."

When someone presents a claim about the divine origins of some particular theology, I only make the following "demands":

1. Is this a claim that we can show to objectively true/false or is it just someone's speculative guess?

2. Why should I accept it has true? How can we know if it is true or false?

3. Is the burden of proof high enough that it can disqualify competing claims?


That's it. Do you think my "demands" are unreasonable?

I'm open to arguments from historicity or any other kind of solid methodology.


So scbrownlhrm, what do you believe? Do you have religious beliefs that you want me to share?

If you have compelling reasons why I should join your religion I am totally open to hearing them. My only follow up question is how can I know what you claim is true or not?

A.J.,

It's unclear what you are asking.

Are you asking, "On what terms within chemistry and chemical bonds is the first hundred years of eye-witness psychology approached from?"

Or what?

What data points are you asking about?

"It's unclear what you are asking. Are you asking, "On what terms within chemistry and chemical bonds is the first hundred years of eye-witness psychology approached from?" Or what? What data points are you asking about?"

We can't talk about data points or standards of evidence until we first identify want the claim is.

scbrownlhrm, are you some kind of Christian? Do you believe your particular denomination is or sect is the one true religious tradition?

A.J.,

On the single, isolated data point of "historicity", the NT "collocation of data" is better than other.... wait for it.... "non"-religious documents of similar time/circumstance.

That's fine as far as it goes.

But the Christian is not happy stopping with just that one data point (actually historicity and first century fact-checking among Jewish/Gentile mindsets, first century travel, and so on, is a collection of hundreds of data points under one umbrella....).

Whereas you seem to think the whole show rests on "that".

Well, if the "whole show" of "decision" rested on "that one data point" then we would be "rationally justified" to accept the testimony of said documents.

But that's not how reality-testing works.

The Christian is not content with "just that".

Whereas you seem to think "that" is the "stopping point" of all data points.

How unscientific.

There's thousands of *other* data points which we still need to "allow in" to inform all *other* data points.

So your question is still not clear.

What data point are you asking about?

"So your question is still not clear.

What data point are you asking about?"

Alright let's start really simple.

I am assuming you are some kind of Christian, am I correct in this assumption?

What kind of Christian are you? What are the core beliefs of your religion that you would like to promote or defend?

A.J.,

Who cares.

There's lots.

You're the one trying to reduce reality testing into "non" religious and "re"ligious claims upon reality.

Reality, knowledge, science, and metaphysics just don't interface that way.

Until we straighten out that bizarre and unscientific methodological approach to reality there's no hope for sane progress.

"A.J.,

Who cares."

I care. If I am going to seriously consider committing to a religion I do in fact care if the claims it makes are true or not.

"There's lots."

Exactly. With such numerous and contradictory religious traditions we need some way to determine what theological views, if any, are true.

A.J.,

Indeed, there are many conflicting claims.

How to proceed?

Just stop doing science?

A.J.,

Having been brought up to employ the scientific process, disagreement never was an "issue" for me.

A.J.,

As in, employ the process and let the evidence lead, etc.....

Pretty simple.

A.J.,

One narrow slice of reality may help you see the need for pulling in *all* data points.

Stopping at just a few data points can be misleading.

Scientifically speaking, syntax of the form, "X brought Y back to life" is coherent with observational reality, with the physical sciences, and with Christianity's metaphysical landscape.

However, none of that matters *if* we just inexplicably *stop* our inventory there.

Far more is needed.

Even more than Historicity's (favorable) data points.

So nothing is decided "there" so far.

Science, reality, knowledge, metaphysics, presuppositions, and reality testing premises has to cast a wide net and eliminate the implausible, explore the plausible, reject any reductio ad absurdums, assimilate new information as it arrives, and so on.

It's not clear that you're asking anything of relevance because you're sort of asking: Explain all of reality in 5 bullet points.

Science isn't like that.

Why?

Because knowledge and reality don't interface that way.

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