500 Eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ? 9 Reasons Why It’s Not Likely.

1 Corinthians Paul epistle 500 eyewitnessesThe apostle Paul throws down the gauntlet in 1 Cor. 15:6, and many apologists see it as powerful evidence in favor of the resurrection story. Paul in effect dares his readers to go check out his claim if they want. Who would make a claim like this, making himself vulnerable to readers catching him in a lie (or at least an embarrassing error), if he didn’t know it were true?

[Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have [died]. (1 Cor. 15:6).

Paul’s number has a default credibility like Joe McCarthy’s numbers of Soviet spies did. Who would say a number if it weren’t correct, right?

But this confident defense of the resurrection wilts under scrutiny.

Let’s think this through. Imagine that we’re in that church in Corinth and we have just received Paul’s letter.

1. What does “appeared” mean? Jesus “appeared” to Paul as a vision (Acts 9:3–9), but Paul uses the same verb to refer the appearance of Jesus to Peter, James, and the 500 as well as to Paul. Could Paul think that the appearance to everyone was as a vision?

2. Who are these 500 eyewitnesses? Names and addresses, please? To find out, someone would need to send a letter back to Paul, at that moment 200 miles across the Aegean Sea in Ephesus. If a church member had the money, time, and guts to write this letter, why would Paul have deigned to reply?

Even if Paul had witnessed Jesus in front of the 500 (he hadn’t), it’s possible he wouldn’t have known a single person in that crowd. And even if Paul thought the number were accurate, “500 eyewitnesses” might be all he had heard, and he wouldn’t have been able to back it up with any evidence.

3. How many will still be around? Paul wrote this epistle in about 55CE about a supposed event that occurred over 20 years earlier. Of the 500 eyewitnesses, how many are still alive and still in Jerusalem, ready to be questioned?

4. Who could make this trip? Jerusalem is 800 miles away, and getting there would involve a long, dangerous, and expensive trip.

5. How many candidates for this trip? Paul had only started the church in Corinth a couple of years earlier. There would probably have been less than 100 members.* Would even one have the means and motivation to make the big trip to Jerusalem?

6. Who would challenge Paul? If the founder of the church says something, who’s likely to question it? There might well have been people who were unimpressed by Paul’s message, but these would never have joined the church. Others within the church might have become disappointed and left. Even if these people had wanted to embarrass Paul, they wouldn’t have been in the church community to learn of the claim.

7. What did the eyewitnesses actually see? Let’s imagine that we have the money and daring to make the trip, we have a plan for whom to interview in Jerusalem, and we’re rebellious enough to spit in the face of our church’s founder to see if he’s a liar.

After many adventures, we reach Jerusalem. What will the eyewitnesses say? At best they’ll say that, over 20 years ago, they saw a man. Big deal—that’s uninteresting unless they saw him dead before. Had they been close enough to the movement to be certain that they recognized Jesus? Human memory is notoriously inaccurate. There’s a big difference between the certainty one has in a memory and its accuracy—these don’t always go together.

8. So what? Suppose all these unlikely things happen: we make the long trip, we search for eyewitnesses, and we conclude that Paul’s story is nonsense. If we successfully make the long trip back, what difference will this make? Even if we had the guts to tell everyone that Paul’s story was wrong, so what? Who would believe us over the church’s founder? We’d be labeled as bad apples, we’d be expelled from the church, the church would proceed as before, and Paul’s letter would still be copied through the centuries for us to read today!

9. Why is this even compelling evidence? No gospel uses this anecdote as evidence. For whatever reason—that they’d never heard it or that they had and felt that it was uninteresting—the gospels argue that this is unconvincing evidence. Why should we think otherwise?

In my post on the Shroud of Turin, I noted that our very first historical record of the Shroud is a letter stating that the shroud was a fake. That’s done nothing to steer people away from a belief they want to hold. As with the Naysayer Hypothesis, apologists imagine that this argument is far stronger than it is.

Who would imagine that a supernatural claim written two thousand years ago would be compelling when we wouldn’t find it compelling if written two minutes ago?

Let’s consider two possible conclusions about this verse.

1. The resurrection happened supernaturally as the gospels describe it. (Let’s pretend that the gospels all tell the same story.)

2. Tales circulated orally in the years after the crucifixion among Jesus’s followers, with the number of eyewitnesses to the risen Christ growing with time.

Why imagine a supernatural story when a natural story explains the facts?

If you can’t be a good example, 
then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.
— Catherine Aird

Photo credit: University of Michigan

* Prof. Philip Harland’s “Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean” podcast #1.5 (“Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 2”) argues that each Greek house church would’ve only had dozens of members.

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 12/21/11.)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Castilliano

    The fact he uses the same verb for Jesus appearing to him as to them seems very telling. There are two ways Jesus appeared to Paul: in a vision & in revelation (likely through the OT). In context of the millions of visions & revelations throughout history for other religions & superstitions, neither type of “appearance” is worthwhile evidence for Jesus.
    It’s just another woo story, just as dismissible.
    Of course, maybe there was a lack of word options to discriminate the meanings.

    But, I do think Paul might have been telling the truth (as unverifiable and unquestionable as it was). Which is to say perhaps Paul was numbering the Christian population at that time at 500, that 500 people had experienced visions/revelations of Jesus and became believers too.
    My 2 c.p.
    Cheers

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Interesting thought. That might’ve been the origin of Paul’s statement.

      But the difficulty for the Christian remains. If they want to crow about Paul throwing down the gauntlet with a bold, defensible statement, they must face the fact that the gospel writers, to a man, did not share that idea.

    • Greg G.

      Or that he is saying there were 500 believers before James and himself.

      I think the “appeared to” has assumed more significance than the author intended. At the end of Romans he talks about revelation from the scripture, among other places. Paul makes a reference to Jesus about every three verses but only gives about a dozen facts about him and each of facts can be found in explicit verses or out of context.

  • MNb

    We don’t have 500 witnesses. We have one account that there were 500 witnesses.

  • Pofarmer

    Yeah, but here’s the thing, for all we know, some people did check up on it, and kept on keeping on. They didn’t write any letters that were kept saying “Heh, we found out this was a crock of shit.” But at the end of the day, those who wantex to believe believed, regardless of evidence, and those who didn’t, well, didn’t.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      This is the hilariously bad argument that I’ve seen some apologists make: that they have positive evidence. If I have none (that is, actual evidence dating back to the 1st century, that refutes their evidence dating back to the 1st century) then they win.

      I wonder what other nutty ideas they’d be obliged to accept as true if they were consistent with this thinking.

      • Nemo

        We have plenty of stuff written about Socrates by people who we know were alive along with him. Yet not only does nobody believe any of the supernatural claims made of the man, but there are some scholars who question whether he even said everything that his student Plato said that he did (I personally can’t see the great gadfly promoting “philosopher kings”).

        • TheNuszAbides

          IMO, too many people underestimate (if they even think to question) both Plato’s self-interest and Augustine’s craving for his mother’s approval. but the church fathers had such fun with their neoplatonism it’s no surprise Da Church passed that perspective along while it dominated academe (or at least until Aquinas).

  • MGreen

    Ive seen rabbis claim that “millions” witnessed Moses get the Torah from Yahweh. The Christian writers didn’t have enough imagination. Must have been a low budget script.

    • Pofarmer

      Well, yeah, and the priest at my wife’s church last Sunday said that ” the ressurection was historically true.” People can say whatever they want, especially religious people, apparently.

      • Kodie

        You give someone the authority to just say stuff, and people will believe it. Even i, from nowhere near a church my entire life, assumed Jesus was a historical figure. They talk about him like he existed, even on the news. There is no stop and check, “can that actually happen?” I think most people go through life figuring this or that person must know what he’s talking about since he’s up there talking (went to school, read all the books) and I’m just some dummy. Questioning authority seems to me like sort of a new habit in the US. Certain people have jobs because of their expertise, or else they would be fired, right? Teachers, police officers, newscasters, etc., and clergy personnel. It falls in where you have a dick of a god threatening you with immediate death any day if you don’t have your shit in order with him, then you’re probably not going to be trained to come up with questions to challenge your priest or pastor. You’re just going to sit there with your mouth shut and listen because he has the funny hat and you don’t – what do you know?

        And this turns into where they say atheists just haven’t read the bible, well, we see now that is incorrect. Plenty of atheists know the bible inside and out. I don’t actually, but I really don’t think there’s anything in there that can change my mind or clarify something I don’t understand. It’s been said that perhaps most Christians have never read the entire bible either, but plenty who have are still not convincing me that I’m wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          My Bible background is weak as well. What I’m amazed to find, however, is that every time I study a passage or story in context, I almost always learn yet more cool stuff about the Bible’s weak foundation. It’s never the other way around.

        • MNb

          Ah, that’s because you’re prejudiced because of your lack of faith. Now if only you would read a book on sophisticated theology once a month ….
          …. you would be lost for christianity forever.

        • MNb

          “I really don’t think there’s anything in there that can change my mind.”
          You might be mistaken. Since I began to read the Bible – the Skeptic Annotated Bible is an excellent guide – my atheism has become more radical. At beforehand it was hard to imagine for me how much the OT and several of the letters in NT sucked.
          Try Colossians chapter 3 for instance:

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/col/3.html

          Make sure you have a bucket at hand in case you need to puke. You’ll also understand better what Libby Anne writes about.
          The Gospels are far from perfect, but a beacon of light compared to this dreck and also compared to the Quran. The OT though is worst of them all. Check how women get punished for male shenanigans:

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/20.html#18

          You will dislike this too:

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/lev/12.html

          You’re welcome now that your day has been ruined for a few minutes.

        • wtfwjtd

          ” “I really don’t think there’s anything in there that can change my mind.”

          You might be mistaken. Since I began to read the Bible… my atheism has become more radical. ”

          This is explains my experience exactly. I was pretty familiar with the Bible, with my fundie background, but I find as I re-visit the material now, I see it in a whole new way. It reminds me of a line from Weird Al’s song “Jerry Springer”–“it’s like a bad check, it’s like a train wreck, don’t want to stare but you can’t look away…” Come to think of it, the whole damn book seems a lot like the Jerry Springer show now.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s actually kind of fun to read the bible now, in, I guess, kind of a twisted sort of way, It’s interesting to look at passages and go, “Ah ha, I know why that’s in there”. Or, “Ah, ha, that’s ancient Apologetics written in the second century.” It’s fun to go back and read Revelations imagining laying on your back gazing at the stars as an Ancient astrologer, and go, “Ah, ha, I get it now. “

        • wtfwjtd

          I share Greg G’s fascination with “getting to the bottom of it”, so to speak. I’ve been familiar with this stuff for a good part of my life, and much of it didn’t make sense to me. Going back for a second look is helping me to make more sense of it; for you it’s Revelations, for me it’s more around the gospels and Paul’s stuff, and of course their’s plenty to criticize in the OT for everyone. I was re-reading that story of Jesus and his disciples in the grain field the other day, and thinking, “man, what shitty reply from Jesus”. But as Ian McDonald and others are showing us, it’s all just a cleverly constructed story, with the wit, wisdom and one-liners of Jesus being provided by writings of the day. That’s the basic structure of the story–use the disciples, Pharisees, and a few other people as set-up props for Jesus to dispense the witty sayings and bits of wisdom of the day. Only, I now realize there isn’t anything new or original in what Jesus says, he’s just a puppet in the story teller’s tale. As such, it begins to make a lot more sense.

        • Pofarmer

          I think many/most people get so emotionally invested in religion that they can’t/don’t/won’t question it. They aren’t worried if the doctrine of Original Sin actually explains anything. That’s what they’ve been taught and that’s what they view the world by. The world And the people in it are essentially broken, to them, and the only way to get right is to continually seek God’s glory. It’s a powerful theology that is entirely bullshit. Everything that they read or see is wrapped up into that theology. You see it here all the time. Make a cogent argument against some point and believers will pray for yo that you “get it”. Never mind that you actually just got it. And people are afraid. They’ve been taught their whole lives that if they don’t believe, and believe in the correct way, that they’re going to hell, which I understand is supposed to be not nice. Look at the little story about the priest at my son’s school the other day. The kid wasn’t abondoning Christianity, he was just going to be Baptist instead of Catholic. BAM, going to hell. If they read something in the bible that is wrong or doesn’t make sense, well then you just reread it in light of the correct theology. And there’s a whoe community of people who believe. Churches are also a social club. Your friends and neighbors are there, and they believe too, right? So you get supported. In the end, they just view everything through the lens they’re given. When I dumped all that it was like a light turned on. It was like I had been looking through some of the world through a glass coated in Grease, blurry and unclear.

        • Greg G.

          “they’re going to hell, which I understand is supposed to be not nice.”

          Are you sure you aren’t exaggerating that threat? LOL

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, look. I commented on a Catholic blog about conversion and here is one of the replies I nearly instantly got.

          “”bad emotional reasons”I know Jennifer Fulwiler, Pofarmer.
          She’s a pretty smart cookie. Perhaps God has touched her heart; we will
          pray that He touches yours, as we’

          Same old, same old. They know that it’s an emotional decision, not a rational one.

        • wtfwjtd

          Must be the kinder, gentler brand of Christianity Pofarmer is thinking of.

        • Kodie

          What they’re being told in church and the way they’re told resonates. This is their evidence. Opposite to your perspective, they think we see in black and white and they are seeing everything in colors.

          Aside from your children’s immersive experience or the tales you tell from their school, imagine just 90 minutes a week, going to a lecture, voluntarily, all about the world and everything in it and the guy who made it that way. People want to know why everything is the way it is and that it’s all going to be ok. I haven’t gone to church, but I assume they tie in some biblical stuff with what’s going on outside in the world, to make it like hands tightly clasped. And if you think that guy knows better than you, it’s going to be so much clearer to you now. Ah, that does seem correct.

          I keep saying this is how converts prove it to themselves. “God” or “whatever” is all around, it’s evident in everything they see, once they are taught to look for it. It’s not just religion. Once you learn there is sugar in a lot of foods, you start to see it everywhere. Once a fashion magazine tells you what the trends are, you start to see it everywhere. When I was taking calculus in high school, after it clicked, I started to see it everywhere. What is the equation for the volume of a chair spindle? It’s a weird shape. Politics plays this, the news heads telling you how and when to get outraged and threaten to riot. Plant a seed of fear and suddenly you are stockpiling your bunker. It’s all you see. Conspiracy theorists, truthers, et al.They’re watching the same news as you and me, and rather than take it at face value, they are looking for signs of pre-production, like how people look for continuity flaws or boom mikes in the frame when they’re watching movies. Going to church every week teaches you how to look for the god in everything.

          This world is made of intertwined elements and probably overstimulating if you don’t pick out a way to see it. In that way, I can assume religion provides a way for some people to organize themselves and simplify things. It’s not the only way, it just sets itself apart with that claim. I think people rather easily find something to base their seeing off of and a lot of their way of seeing comes from that cause.

          You’re right that the community helps support them because they’re in agreement, they’re talking to someone who doesn’t need the long explanation. Just for example, pretend you are a great gossip. Instead of god, that’s your way of seeing. Now, you are talking to some new people and you are trying to break the ice with some juicy gossip, but you find people who find it nasty to talk about other people or just nod like you’re boring because they don’t care. These are not your tribe. You need to find other gossips, you’re not going to take advice from non-gossips and stop looking for things to talk about with other gossips. It’s the same way at church, maybe including gossip – they have a built-in topic of conversation. The difference between having a good time or a bad time at a social event with a lot of people you don’t know is how awkward it is to find a true connection. That’s why guys are supposed to cultivate an interest in major league sports, and women I guess talk about their kids or something. It’s another form of small talk. That’s why alcohol and music are introduced. You find a real connection with a person and talking to them is as easy as breathing, and no less fun than drinking and dancing, but it’s difficult to get through the ice, so drinking and dancing makes everyone have a good time.

        • wtfwjtd

          “I think many/most people get so emotionally invested in religion that they can’t/don’t/won’t question it.”

          It seems like as people get older, they have a tendency to double-down because they really do feel like it’s an investment. Take someone around my age–you’ve been around for about 5 decades more or less, you’ve been following this same bullshit for that entire time, you just can’t throw it away now, can you? Who wants to “start over” when you’re around 50? Besides, all your friends and family are doing it, and if you don’t, they just might disown you…
          I prefer to see life as a journey, and choose the path that I wish to take. Life is hard enough without making up a bunch of pointless rules and adding some crude Bronze-age book requirements to make it even harder.
          And yes, I agree, dumping the nonsense entirely is very, very liberating and enlightening.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I go visit my wifes family, and the majority of what the sisters talk about is Church, What’s going on with Church, Going on “Chirp” retreats, which Sacrament the kids are up to, blah, blah, blah. Their whole world is literally centered around Church. It wasn’t obvious to me when they, and I, were younger, but it sure as hell is now. I had never experienced that sort of thing growing up, really couldn’t even fathom that it could exist to this degree.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, that’s part of the “total immersion” that’s typical with religious families. What’s ironic here, as my family has gotten considerably less religious over the years, some of our more extended family has went head-over-heels-nuts over religion. Remember awhile back you said that some of the posters on that Catholic site were worth six or seven figures? Some of that extended family I’m talking about falls in this category. It seems to me that they have taken up religion in their later years as an attempt at taking their success with them, so to speak. All the evidence around them points to the end of life when we die, but they think that somehow they can preserve their success that they’ve achieved in this life with religion, with its promise of a “next life”. Just a theory of mine.

        • Pofarmer

          It may go both ways. People who don’t do well in this life are told that if they just worship the right way, everything will be great in the next life. Christianity, especially, is a chameleon. That is one of it’s powers. It can literally be everything to everyone and successfully hide it’s contradictions.

        • wtfwjtd

          So true–and it’s had 2k years to perfect the dodges and convincing arguments. Lucky us–only in the last 20-30 years or so have people actually been able to discuss its’ flaws and contradictions more or less in the open. This is a privilege only a few lucky people in history have been able to wrangle in Christianity’s long, bloody history.

        • smrnda

          I think that’s the old ‘sunk cost fallacy.’ If you’ve been a Mormon for 60 years, you kind of don’t want to admit you’d thrown away your life following the dictates of some 19th century con man. Then, as you said, is the social damage.

  • hector_jones

    Given that we don’t have the letters that Paul actually wrote, only later copies, it’s also very possible that Paul never wrote ‘500’. He might have written ‘5’. He might even have written nothing at all and the passage about witnesses could be an interpolation.

    I’m not saying we have conclusive evidence that the passage has been altered or interpolated (though I believe it has been argued), just that without good evidence that it wasn’t, there’s not a lot there on which to believe that there were 500 witnesses to anything.

  • wtfwjtd

    A couple of minor points: My NIV Bible just says that “he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…” no mention of “sisters”. I also find the “at the same time” reference interesting. This would either have to be a staged appearance, such as a congregational meeting, or maybe he “appeared to” these 500 simultaneously in a dream? Either way, the story is outright falsified by the gospels(NO mention of any staged appearance), or no evidence at all(dream).

  • Cyril Jones-Kellett

    But why is Paul even preaching any of this? He admits he persecuted the church. What happened to him? He somehow went from being a zealous persecuter of other people to a man who preached love (Just a few paragraphs before the part you quote, he writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”) And as a preacher of love he suffered persecution himself and died for what he believed.
    He is not writing to people who are fools and need proofs. He is writing to people who have, like him, given their lives to this Christian ideal of love even though it puts them at odds with Roman authority. He is just reminding them, as he says, not trying to convince them. Something amazing happened to these people. You miss the point if you leave out the part about love, and how love transformed early Christian lives bringing slaves and rulers together in homes to celebrate Sunday Eucharist.

    The Resurrection of Jesus was understood as a vindication of love. God’s love triumphs. This is the key thing, and it should not be overlooked when trying to understand the evidence given by early Christians.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      But why is Paul even preaching any of this? He admits he persecuted the church.

      Or at least that’s his story. It makes a great story for his personal mission—whatever you were, I was worse than you, and look what Jesus did for me! That doesn’t make it history. And even if it were accurate history, we have lots of enthusiastic supporters of religions. It’s not hard to see that happening to someone.

      he suffered persecution himself and died for what he believed.

      Did he? Why was he arrested, and why was he killed?

      Wikipedia says, “Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred.” Sounds like legend.

      He is just reminding them, as he says, not trying to convince them.

      Agreed. Since this isn’t trying to be evidence, it’s hard to make much of a case, 2000 years later, that it’s compelling evidence. It’s a creed.

      Something amazing happened to these people.

      In the story, yes. Doesn’t make it history.

      You miss the point if you leave out the part about love

      Then why bring in the crazy supernatural stuff? If your point is love, go ahead and make that point. Everyone is already halfway on the same page as you before you even start. When you bring in the supernatural stuff, you lose people.

      • Cyril

        Paul talks about the crazy supernatural stuff because he believes it is true. And, according to his own testimony, he believes it is true because he saw the risen Jesus. And when he spoke about the risen Jesus, many people accepted his teaching. When they accepted his teaching, they began to live in a new way, a way that was unthinkable to most of their contemporaries.

        • Castilliano

          What “new way” do you think was “unthinkable”?
          And why?

        • Pofarmer

          Beat me to it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes–he saw the risen Jesus via revelation–or in a vision. Seeing Jesus in his own mind is a far, far different thing than seeing an actual human being raised from the dead–he never saw this. Sure, Paul was a persuasive preacher, but history is replete with these. It doesn’t vouch for the veracity of the supernatural, or make it even remotely likely to have actually happened.

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize at that time, people believed all sorts of crazy supernatural stuff was true?

      • Nemo

        I’ve asked this before, but on whose authority did Paul persecute Christians? Did the Romans allow random Jewish fanatics to run around killing heretics or dragging them off in chains?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I thought he claimed that it was the high priest in Jerusalem. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a random vigilante.

          Perhaps others who know the NT better than I can comment.

        • Greg G.

          In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul tells how he was a Jew and a Pharisee and that his persecution was zeal.

          In Galatians 1:13-14, Paul says he “was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.” He tells us he was advanced in Judaism beyond people his own age. It sounds like he may have pulled adolescent pranks but then his father was sent to Syria and Tarsus right after he became a Christian, that is, the label for the Jewish sect that led to Christianity.

          A high priest would come from the tribe of Levi but Paul says he was from the tribe of Benjamin. I don’t think he mentions being in Jerusalem before visiting Cephas but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t.

          I discount the stories about him in Acts in favor of first hand accounts but even those can be exaggerated.

        • wtfwjtd

          Robert Price, in “Shrinking Son of Man”, says that the Sanhedrin did not have the authority that Paul claims they granted him to go into the surrounding countryside dragging people in for alleged religious misconduct. This part of the story, at least, appears to be a fabrication.

      • TheNuszAbides

        i can see the logic of fear + false confidence: that if you practice what you preach in the peace&love department, the violence&terror agents can still wipe you out… unless peace&love is a divine mandate, backed by eternal righteousness and [after]life everlasting!

    • Pofarmer

      It’s really no more amazing than heavens Gate or Moonies or Scientology. Richard Carrier argues that one of the things that made early Christianity popular was that chrisitians helped each other. It gave a mutual means of support. Strip the supernatural away, and you had a community movement. But people at this time thought of nearly everything in terms of the supernatural. Jettison the supernatural and concentrate on the helping others and you could have a huge movement again.

      • TheNuszAbides

        No doubt. Look at all the (even grudging) compliments given the latest pope by people who weren’t in the habit of good-mouthing religious bosses (let alone catholics (let alone popes!)), just for lip service and the occasional gesture. i’ve been meaning to dig up the reactions to john paul ii’s apologies, too.

    • MNb

      “He is just reminding them, as he says, not trying to convince them.”
      Exactly this should make us skeptical towards historical claims.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Off topic: I just came across an enthusiastic endorsement of Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science: A Critique of Religious Reason.

        Didn’t you mention this one before?

        • MNb

          Now I think of it, I might have dropped this title once or twice. Yeah, it’s one of the two things JAC and I agree on (he has banned me and I can’t blame him).

    • smrnda

      As someone whose ancestors were on the receiving end of much of this Christian ‘love’ throughout history in the form of pogroms and whatnot (and antisemitism has a long history in Christianity) let’s not sugar-coat the real nature of Christianity or Christians.

      I could see him as giving a pep talk to the home crowd, but I’d still be skeptical the same way I’d be skeptical of a politician talking about how with polls unskewed, they would be winning.

    • The Thinking Commenter

      The Resurrection of Jesus was understood as a vindication of love. God’s love triumphs.

      Triumphs what? He has unlimited powers. Turns water to wine. *yawn* Raises self from dead. *yawn, piece of cake* Creates universe. *yawn* Big deal. Nothing to triumph. Nothing to battle. Jumping out of the sky and getting crucified doesn’t do anything to help people. Helping people helps people. So help people instead of stupid crap 2000 years ago that causes people to be skeptical. And so what if they are skeptical? What the hell crime is that anyway? So someone doesn’t believe it. Big deal. Do something about it instead of being mean and punishing everyone. Duh. Not believing other religions and outrageous claims is wonderful and good, but not believing your religion and outrageous claims is bad and evil. That makes exactly zero sense.

    • primenumbers

      Why did LRH go from criticizing religion as a money-making scam to starting a religion that is a money-making scam?

      Why did Joseph Smith not just give up on his Mormonism lies when he found himself persecuted with death threats (and eventually his own death)?

      There’s plenty of reasons why Paul could have written as he did. It’s like how some modern day apologists claim that they were atheists in their conversion stories that are just apologetic works where being a former atheist fits into their narrative to appear to have investigated Christianity without positive bias, yet their description of their former “atheist life” demonstrates they actually believed in God to some extent.

      What we have to remember is that it’s not what caused Paul to convert to Christianity, but what caused Paul to write that he’d converted to Christianity. There’s a subtle, but important difference there!

    • Plutosdad

      “He is just reminding them, as he says, not trying to convince them.”

      You are telling the wrong people. You need to tell this to all the apologetics book writers. They are the ones claiming this is proof and these people are witnesses. Bob is responding to them.

  • Rudy R

    The same Christians who take it on faith that there were 500 witnesses, would probably not find this as evidence in a modern-day court of law. I can see the jury’s disbelief as the defendant pleas with them that there are 500 people that could provide him with an alibi, only if he had their identifications.

  • Nemo

    Quite often, I’ve found that cranks of all types will challenge you to look something up, completely unaware that you’ll quickly find that doing so debunks their claims.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, this is a lesson I’ve observed repeatedly. Claims of fulfilled prophecy, axioms like “all the disciples but one was martyred for his faith,” or “the gospels were written by eyewitnesses,” and so on often crumble under scrutiny.

      If something turns out to be well-founded, fine. But few Christians know what grounds the platitude they so easily toss off (if anything). Just because it’s widely accepted doesn’t mean that the evidence is remotely good.

      • primenumbers

        A basic understanding of psychology will tell us that believers will not seek out disconfirming evidence, and if they come across disconfirming evidence they will rationalize it away. In the case of the Millerites it took 4 failed prophecies in the space of a few years to finally break the cognitive dissonance in favour of reality, but even then they spawned off a religious movement that exists to this day.

        We have no reason to believe that humans were any different psychologically back then, even if they lacked the understanding we have now.

  • Mick

    You quoted 1 Corinthians 15:6.

    In the previous verse Paul had written:

    …he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:5)

    You’d think that at least one of the 500 witnesses would have said, “Hang on a minute Paul, you’re wrong about that number. Judas was dead before the resurrection so there were only eleven apostles to whom JC could appear after his return to life.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Right you are. Christians love to point to 1 Cor. 15 as early evidence of belief in the resurrection, but it is embarrassing when analyzed skeptically.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      An isn’t Cephas (Peter) one of the twelve? I suppose it might be a sloppy way of saying “He appeared to Cephas and then the rest of the twelve”

      Either way, it’s interesting that he seems to not know about Judas. Since 1 Corinthians predates Mark, perhaps Judas had not been worked into the narrative yet?

      • hector_jones

        What I find strange is that in verse 5 Paul writes “He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” as you point out, but then two verses later (verse 7) Paul says “then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles”. Paul seems to be saying that ‘the twelve’ and ‘the apostles’ are two different groups of people.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        You’ve got a nice story going with the twelve apostles. Jesus said, “At the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).

        The Traitor story upsets this, and 12 becomes 11. It’s an uneasy result when the two stories are forced to coexist.

      • wtfwjtd

        Good point. Paul also makes a mistake in Acts 26:23 when he asserts that “the Christ…was the first to rise from the dead…” Of course, this is just a story *about* Paul, maybe the storyteller who made up the book of Acts goofed? When you start mashing several made-up tales together, several irreconcilable mistakes are bound to occur eventually.

        • OverlappingMagisteria

          I assume you are contrasting this with the account in Matthew where the saints rise from their tombs when Jesus dies on Friday and walk into Jerusalem afterward? Or is there another one?

          Yea.. Acts is written by the same guy as Luke, so although he is not contradicting his own account, he is contradicting Matthew’s. This is why it makes much more sense to see the different books of the bible as separate works rather than trying to mash them together as so many Christians try to.

        • wtfwjtd

          Actually, it’s true that it contradicts Matthew’s zombie apocalypse, but it also contradicts his own account. In Luke chapters 7 and 8 there are two dead-raisings, and there may be more later in the book. Probably a case of editor’s fatigue, after a while it gets harder and harder to make made-up stories mesh with each other. The hallmarks of deliberate fiction are on display here, not historical writing.

  • busterggi

    I’m pretty sure that toast had been invented in Paul’s time even if grilled cheese sandwiches hadn’t.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Atheist toast:

      • wtfwjtd

        Do I spot a black hole? Or maybe a white dwarf? Ebay, here we come!

  • C.J. O’Brien

    No gospel uses this anecdote as evidence. For whatever reason—that
    they’d never heard it or that they had and felt that it was
    uninteresting—the gospels argue that this is unconvincing evidence.

    I’ve never been able to understand why more scholars don’t identify this event, whatever it was, with Pentecost as narrated in Acts.

    But however that may be, I think it’s important to consider the possibility that these “appearances” are the foundational events of the movement that became Christianity, not any actual crucifixion or supposed resurrection in the form of a missing corpse. Paul’s Christ is a cosmic figure, apprehended through scripturally inspired prophesy and “present” only as here: a vision or avatar of a heavenly being.

  • Albert

    The article states, “Paul’s number has a default credibility like Joe McCarthy’s numbers of Soviet spies did. Who would say a number if it weren’t correct, right?”

    These are two different situations. Paul’s claims have nothing to do with Joe’s spies. There is no reason to believe that because Joe could not produce the evidence, that Paul was in the same boat.

    Question: If the default credibility is skepticism, what do you do in situations where you can not verify those numbers?

    When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, was it really a legion that crossed?
    Do we take the default credibility of skepticism and say that this could not possibly be right?
    Is it absurd to think that Julius Caesar was lying about the number of men, or valid to be skeptical?
    Should we say that Julius Caesar’s numbers have a default credibility like Joe McCarthy’s?

    Could I offer up another option?

    Could it be reasonable to believe that numbers were used when they knew the numbers and generalizations were used when they were not sure?

    For example, in the feeding of the 5000(MATT. 14:13-21; MARK 6:33-44; LUKE 9:11-17; JOHN 6:2-14)

    – Matthew, Luke and John simply mentions there were 5000 men, and Matthew adds this little bit “besides woman and children”.

    – Mark mentions “There were 5000 men who ate the loaves” But then before that remark it says that Jesus commanded them to sit down in groups of 100’s and of 50’s.

    – Luke also mentions Jesus telling them to sit down in groups of 50.

    – John mentions Jesus telling them to have them sit down, but does not say in groups of 100’s or 50’s. And then says they were in number about 5000.

    So some might think of this and say, this is a contradiction or something. But it really isn’t. It’s just four accounts from different perspectives. And from all four accounts, we can see that there are ways for them to know if there were 5000. So lets see, if those groups were in groups of 100’s or 50’s, and these men being fishermen, I would think they could count and get a pretty good idea that they had 5000 men there.

    So it could be possible that Paul also was able to know that 500 people saw the risen Jesus all at once.

    Does this give additional proof that the author of this article is wanting? Well, no, not really, I guess.
    But I think it does show that it’s not unreasonable for a group as large as 500 to sit and listen to Jesus speak all at once.

    You also have to ask, why would Paul lie about such a thing?
    What does Paul gain from lying? I think that is probably the biggest difference between Joe McCarthy and Paul in their situations.

    Joe was seeking political power by discrediting his critics. I doubt he would have died defending his so called list. Paul, on the other hand, didn’t gain anything, from what I can tell. And he was willing to die for this claim.

    I would put more credibility on Paul in comparison to Joe.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      These are two different situations.

      Yes, but they both used specific numbers. That was the only similarity. I’m not trying to say that because Joe was a fraud that Paul must’ve been, too.

      Could it be reasonable to believe that numbers were used when they knew the numbers and generalizations were used when they were not sure?

      Could’ve been. The use of a specific number wasn’t one of the larger points I was making.

      So it could be possible that Paul also was able to know that 500 people saw the risen Jesus all at once.

      Possible. That the gospels give the story a thumbs-down doesn’t help.

      You also have to ask, why would Paul lie about such a thing?

      Who says he was lying? Of course, his lying is way, way more likely to be true than some dude rose from the dead and was seen by 500 people who knew him beforehand and saw him die!

      Maybe he heard it from someone, thought it added to his story, and passed it along.

      And he was willing to die for this claim.

      Tell me more. What did Paul do that got him executed?

      • Albert

        You said, ” That the gospels give the story a thumbs-down doesn’t help.”

        What do you mean by that?

        You said, “Who says he was lying? Of course, his lying is way, way more likely to be true than some dude rose from the dead and was seen by 500 people who knew him beforehand and saw him die!”

        I’m guessing because dead men don’t come back to life, right?

        Isn’t that exactly the thing that Paul was saying happened? I miracle? I supernatural event? Something that doesn’t happen everyday? This was the reason he was preaching that Jesus was who he said he was, wasn’t it? Because dead men don’t come back to life. But, if they did, then wouldn’t that be something to talk about?

        you continued, “Maybe he heard it from someone, thought it added to his story, and passed it along.””

        Maybe, but then you would have to show how you come to that conclusion based on what we know from the text or other documents, wouldn’t you?

        The fact is, we could say a lot of things about what we speculate could have happened. But we only have the documents that we have found to go by. And from what we read, Paul wasn’t causally walking along and then BAM! decided to change religions. He was killing those he became. And then not only that, he suffered many things to bring the message of this account to the masses. Even to the point that he died saying he knew what he saw.

        People do die for what they believe. But people do not die for what they know is a lie.

        Paul wasn’t a second or third hand believer that believed because of what others said they saw. He believed because what he said he saw. If he was lying, then he not only quit killing those he knew were lying before hand, but then he took on the lie and died for it as well.

        You said, “Tell me more. What did Paul do that got him executed?”

        Aw yes….you are correct. We have no real record, that I know of, that tells us specifically how Paul died. Tradition says that he was beheaded. The fact that he wrote so much and then it stopped would lead us to believe something happened to him. But, if martyrdom doesn’t sit well with you, that’s fine. It doesn’t change what we do have documented, does it?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Paul wasn’t causally walking along and then BAM! decided to change religions.”

          Uh, yeah, actually, this is exactly what he did: read Acts 9:3-19.

        • Albert

          I’m not sure Paul causally changed his mind at that event. It seems it took something rather spectacular to help him change his mind9also recorded at that part in Acts).

          When I said casually, I was meaning more like me picking between two shirts to wear. Religions, world views and the like are not normally exchanged with such a cavalier attitude, would you agree?

        • Kodie

          Maybe it was strategic, how do you certainly assert that it was not? Just about all the Christians I have heard say their experience was something like an emotional sensation, one said he spontaneously got up out of his chair and took a bible off the shelf, and it opened to a certain page, and from then on, he believed. He said he was not even thinking of it, and thinks the whole event was planned and directed by god, and whatever page the bible opened to (probably a well-worn section, as books tend to open), it spooked him. It was too coincidental for this person, so it must have been all about god. This is why all the theists are about telling us we have to figure it out for ourselves, we have to submit to being lazy in the brain and not so analytical and just let the Jesus wash over us, they can’t share any evidence with us, but it seems to go about like that – coincidences an idiot can’t find a reason for, predisposed to attribute to a particular deity, and after that, an excuse-maker like you:

          We can’t prove it didn’t happen exactly as written, so you are willing to give Paul the benefit of the doubt unlike anyone throughout all history who has made a claim and had emotion wash over them, converted to one belief or another for emotional reasons, not rational reasons. Cat Stevens, remember him? He is not called that anymore since his conversion to Islam. He was nearly washed out to sea in a riptide and bargained with Allah to save him. You are doing the same thing.

        • wtfwjtd

          Did you actually read that Acts 9 story? v 1 says that Paul was “breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”. He was travelling down the road on his way to make good on those murderous threats. Then “BAM!” he had a vision of Jesus, and immediately changed his mind. What’s so hard to understand about that?

        • hector_jones

          Do keep in mind that what Acts says about Paul and what Paul says in his own letters are two different things.

          But in keeping with Albert’s own method of textual analysis whereby we are required to accept all ancient texts and their claims at face value, you have indeed shown that Albert is hoist with his own petard.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh yes, I agree, Acts is just as historical as the gospels, which is to say it’s not. But, in keeping with Albert’s insistence of analyzing the story at face value, I’ll play along.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What do you mean by that?

          That the gospels didn’t use the 500-eyewitnesses story. Either they hadn’t heard of it or they had and didn’t consider it compelling evidence for whatever reason. That’s worrisome for supporters of Paul’s story.

          I’m guessing because dead men don’t come back to life, right?

          They might, but we have no good reasons to think so.

          Isn’t that exactly the thing that Paul was saying happened? I miracle?

          Yes, Paul was pointing to a miracle. That’s one reason why I’m skeptical.

          if they did, then wouldn’t that be something to talk about?

          Sure. But I have very scant evidence to see that that happened.

          Maybe, but then you would have to show how you come to that conclusion based on what we know from the text or other documents, wouldn’t you?

          Nope. The facts we have in front of us are 1 Cor. 15. We’re just trying to find the best explanation for them. I see no need to reach for a supernatural one. Natural explanations do just fine.

          The fact is, we could say a lot of things about what we speculate could have happened.

          Yes, we could. And every remotely plausible natural explanation beats the supernatural one.

          But we only have the documents that we have found to go by. And from what we read, Paul wasn’t causally walking along and then BAM! decided to change religions.

          You only use the ancient document? You can’t use common sense?

          Here’s an ancient document for you: the one about King Arthur that said that Merlin the magician was a shape shifter. There are no contemporary documents saying Merlin wasn’t a shape shifter. Are you forced to conclude that he was?

          He was killing those he became.

          It’s just a story. Just words on paper. That’s not much on which to build a supernatural claim.

          Paul wasn’t a second or third hand believer that believed because of what others said they saw. He believed because what he said he saw. If he was lying…

          I only hear apologists suggesting that Paul was lying. I don’t.

          You know how stories grow with time? You know how people hear a religious story and become believers? Happens all the time. Why does some combination of this not explain Paul’s story.

          Aw yes….you are correct. We have no real record, that I know of, that tells us specifically how Paul died. Tradition says that he was beheaded.

          For what? Show me that Paul could’ve gotten released from whatever charge he was convicted under by saying, “OK—I’ll admit it. Jesus wasn’t God.”

          The fact that he wrote so much and then it stopped would lead us to believe something happened to him.

          Huh? How do you know it stopped? Just because our very scanty historic record has no more epistles from Paul? It’s a frikkin’ miracle we have as much as we do. And, of course, huge amounts of the New Testament are pseudepigraphs, including half of the “Pauline” corpus. You need to be quite skeptical of our ability to look back to the life of Jesus with any confidence.

          I’ve written more here.

        • Albert

          “That the gospels didn’t use the 500-eyewitnesses story. Either they
          hadn’t heard of it or they had and didn’t consider it compelling
          evidence for whatever reason.”

          Those are definitely two possibilities to consider. The question though, are they the more reasonable ones to consider?

          We could come up with a million different possibilities as to why something was or wasn’t written; but we are not the authors of those books, and we are not omniscient to be able to know why they did or didn’t write about something, are we?

          We have to go by what they did write, not what we presume they should’ve wrote.

          As far as it is “worrisome for supporters of Paul’s
          story”, I’m not sure that is true. You would have to show that your two conclusions are the ones we should be considering over what was actually written.

          How do you show that the Gospel writers didn’t hear of the 500 people seeing Jesus after he was resurrected?

          How do you show that the Gospel writers didn’t consider it compelling evidence enough to write about it?

          You said, “They might, but we have no good reasons to think so.”

          Just wondering, what would you consider would be a good reason to think so?

          You said, “Yes, Paul was pointing to a miracle. That’s one reason why I’m skeptical.”

          Why are you skeptical just because Paul is pointing to a miracle?
          I’m sure you can’t prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist, right?
          Couldn’t this be the proof you are needing to know it does exist?

          You said, “Sure. But I have very scant evidence to see that that happened.”

          How much evidence do you need? Be specific, what is missing? A body perhaps?

          You said, “Nope. The facts we have in front of us are 1 Cor. 15. We’re just trying to find the best explanation for them. I see no need to reach for a supernatural one. Natural explanations do just fine.”

          And what natural explanation is it that you have?

          You said, “You only use the ancient document? You can’t use common sense?”

          Come now, of course common sense. But not just that, logic, reasoning and critical thinking. But to do that, we can’t make up things. We have to base it on the evidence at hand. All the possible reasons we can come up with doesn’t do us any good if it doesn’t align with what the text says, does it?All we are doing, when we infer ideas into the text is we are not taking the text as it is written. we are changing the text to reflect what we think should of happened. That is not a reasonable thing to do.

          You added, “Here’s an ancient document for you: the one about King Arthur that said that Merlin the magician was a shape shifter. There are no contemporary documents saying Merlin wasn’t a shape shifter. Are you forced to conclude that he was?”

          No one is ever forced to conclude anything. that would be a silly thing to do, wouldn’t it?

          But, you have to based that account on it’s own merits. The fact that Merlin the Magician might turn out to be legend based on a historical war leader named, Ambrosius Aurelianus, has no bearing on the accounts of Jesus or the apostles, does it?

          I think the main question here would be, is the Bible legend, mythology and something else? If so, how do you come to that conclusion?

          You said, “It’s just a story. Just words on paper. That’s not much on which to build a supernatural claim.”, in regards to me saying, “He was killing those he became.”

          You are basing this on what, your evidence that the supernatural doesn’t exist?To say something is “just a story” is one thing. To prove that it is, is another thing all together. You have to provide evidence for your claim and show us why we should take your view over that of what the person wrote.

          This isn’t Harry Potter, or Spiderman, where the authors never intended us to take them as anything more than fiction. The men that wrote the 27 books in the Bible blatantly made it clear that these were real events that happened in history.
          So we can’t just dismiss them by saying they are “just a story”, unless we can show proof that they are just a story.

          Paul wasn’t a second or third hand believer that believed
          because of what others said they saw. He believed because what he said
          he saw. If he was lying…

          You said, “You know how stories grow with time?”

          I completely agree that stories can grow over time. But do you see that in the manuscript evidence for the books in the Bible?

          You continued, “You know how people hear a religious story and become believers? Happens all the time. Why does some combination of this not explain Paul’s story.”

          I agree that it does happen all the time. The question though is, did it happen this time for Paul?

          It seems to me that “yes” would not be a reasonable answer to that question as Paul was killing Christians up until his conversion. Whatever turned him, had to be more compelling than a story he heard, don’t you think? heck, read the one Stephen said before Paul stoned him to death. Paul believed it was blasphemy.

          You said, “For what? Show me that Paul could’ve gotten released from whatever charge he was convicted under by saying, “OK—I’ll admit it. Jesus wasn’t God.”

          Pliny the Younger and his letters with Trajan seems to indicate that Pliny understood how to deal with Christian’s as he was ordered to, but was concerned about those that recanted their belief. Trajan’s responses never really answered that question but indicated that the charge of someone being a Christian had to be must be proved and that anonymous accusations should be rejected.

          Weather they held to their belief or recanted, was never part of the judgement from what we can tell. Was this the case for Paul? Not sure.

          But I did find a reference in from Irenaeus, in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 12, somewhere around 110CE, he declared that Paul was martyred.
          http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.ii.xii.html

          You said, “Huh? How do you know it stopped?”

          You are correct. I don’t know it stopped. If it continued, we don’t have those documents. Is that better?

          You said, “You need to be quite skeptical of our ability to look back to the life of Jesus with any confidence.”

          I guess that would fit for all of history then, wouldn’t it?

          From what I have seen from the amount of evidence we do have of historical events from the 1st century, the account of Jesus seems to be well more documented than anything else we have from that time period.
          Even Tiberius doesn’t have as many documents attributed to him. And only one of those is contemporary.

          And to have four documents outlining parts of this man’s life on earth seems to be rather amazing compared to the documents we have of other people from that time period.

          Thanks for the link. I will check that out as well.

        • Kodie

          Do you use the same methods for determining the truth of the claims of other religion’s documents? They’re written in words, meant to be taken seriously, and you have no way of determining that none of them are true. That’s what you’re saying. You’re saying we have to take the bible at face value, then we have to be fair. Are you fair, or are you biased?

        • Albert

          You asked, “Do you use the same methods for determining the truth of the claims of other religion’s documents?”

          I do.

          you said, “They’re written in words, meant to be taken seriously, and you have no way of determining that none of them are true.”

          I wouldn’t say we have no way of determining that they are true or not. We would use the same methods that we do for any historical document that we find lying around. Textual criticism, forensics, geography and so on.

          You said, “That’s what you’re saying. You’re saying we have to take the bible at face value, then we have to be fair.”

          I am saying that. You should evaluate the Bible just like you do any other document of antiquity. If it fairs well, then you consider it for what it is. If it doesn’t then you mark it a fake and move on. Where is the harm in doing that?

          But what normally happens is people tend to take their presupposition, that the supernatural does not exist, and first apply that before any real research is done. This basically kills the research because the context of the documents includes supernatural events. If you start with a false presumption, you will fail it every time.

          You asked, ” Are you fair, or are you biased?””

          I do everything I can to be fair in any assessments that I do. The point is getting to the truth, right?

          And even Paul stated, that if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, then his faith was in vain. Why would I want to believe in a God that was not real? No, I believe the evidence is clear, but it has to be looked at objectively.

          So far, though, I have to be honest, I find that most people are not willing to get passed the whole supernatural thing.

        • Kodie

          You say you want to be objective, but you aren’t. People don’t start with the presupposition that the supernatural does not exist – it hasn’t been shown to exist. It has been shown to be a story, a fiction, an imaginary cause to real events. You aren’t fairly assessing every religion to find the right one.

          And even Paul stated, that if Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, then his
          faith was in vain. Why would I want to believe in a God that was not
          real? No, I believe the evidence is clear, but it has to be looked at
          objectively.

          So what if he said that? So what if he really believed that? How does that make the leap to objectivity for you? I just gave you a handful of examples of people who essentially waste their lives fighting for a cause that is based on nothing, and very often killing people in the process, and/or dying for their cause. From your point of view, a Kamikaze, for example, is not a good comparison, because Kamikazes are bad! They should be dead, their death is not in vain because, for us, the bad guy ends up dead! So what if he was wrong?

          You cannot be objective, you can say you are looking at the evidence objectively and fairly, but it’s true that you give your beliefs a huge pass and make logical leaps just to get to your preconceived notions, but you put the pressure on other assertions, like you say you examine them and find them to be lacking.

        • hector_jones

          It’s simply astounding the mental contortions that people like Albert put themselves through in order to keep believing this stuff.

          The idea that Christianity is true because Paul wouldn’t die for a lie is such a spectacularly dishonest ploy, so easily rebutted by examples of other people dying for things that Christians don’t believe in, and by the fact that the manner of Paul’s death is pure legend without a shred of historical evidence to support it, that it’s just sad to see someone trying and failing to keep an argument for it going.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Albert will likely make the distinction between believing something that turns out to be false (the 9/11 bombers, for example, were taught the beliefs second-hand) and believing something that you’re in a position to verify.

          Problem is, his “who would die for a lie?” assumes that the martyr has the option to recant and be let off from his crime. What’s the evidence that this applies to Paul?

        • Kodie

          As for 9/11, many people are swept up in the truther movement. It wasn’t Islamic fanatics at all. They’ve been shown the evidence and they think we’re crazy and naive to ignore it. We don’t put them in a position to let them martyr themselves, but wouldn’t they? They wouldn’t recant. They don’t have it in their minds to acknowledge that they were fooled, because they sincerely believe we’re the ones who were fooled. Nobody who sincerely believes something will admit that it’s all a lie because they don’t think it is. People lie to save their lives though. Not everyone dies for their beliefs, if they are forced to choose, plenty of people will be forced to admit something they don’t agree with to save themselves or their families, for example. How is torture supposed to work against people who adamantly believe something? How are they supposed to admit anything other than what they think they know?

          And another thing is that every Christian or theist that I’ve heard has sincere beliefs, they believe they have the evidence for themselves. This Paul story can be persuasive, but nobody is going to believe Christianity just because Paul did. They all “prove it” to themselves and believe they all have firsthand experience and testimony.

        • wtfwjtd

          “This Paul story can be persuasive, but nobody is going to believe Christianity just because Paul did. They all “prove it” to themselves and believe they all have firsthand experience and testimony.”

          Definitely, and I’m sure that Paul was a very persuasive guy. But like Pofarmer and others have said, and you are saying here, it’s an emotional decision to believe, not a rational one. Of course, some folks (like Paul, and others), throw in visions and things to “prove” their faith to themselves as part of their firsthand experience and testimony. Which of course, means absolutely nothing to people like you and me, it’s just more claims without evidence.

        • hector_jones

          That’s an odd distinction given that Paul never met Jesus while he was alive. He was no more in a position to verify a resurrected Jesus than I am.

        • wtfwjtd

          Albert also seems to be under the impression that Paul actually saw Jesus in person, something that lots of Christians assume without actually reading what Paul’s letters and even Acts actually say. That Paul had never saw Jesus, except as a vision, and knew little if anything about him, in fact acts as if he never even heard of him as a person, comes as a shock. As you know, a great shock is many times accompanied by denial.

        • Kodie

          All the little details they have to pull together to call this a historical account – the intent of writing the scriptures or the gospels or whatever, people definitely did not intend it to be a story like Harry Potter. The stuff in this book is taken as a historical account, and as such, we should take it literally and not doubt Paul’s testimony. Why is Paul’s testimony any more substantial than Albert’s? I love that people justify their beliefs by saying Paul was there, Paul was the first one, there was nothing influencing him to convert like there is now. If it was good enough for Paul, then I’m sold!

        • MNb

          If you do use the same methods for determining the truth of the claims of other documents indeed BobS’ question becomes relevant again:

          “Here’s an ancient document for you: the one about King Arthur that said that Merlin the magician was a shape shifter. There are no contemporary documents saying Merlin wasn’t a shape shifter. Are you forced to conclude that he was?”
          You answered no. Now consider this.

          “He was killing those he became.”
          We only have Paulus’ word for it. There are no contempary documents saying Paulus did not kill off early christians. Suddenly you conclude he was. That’s not consistent.

          It all boils down to Testis Unus Testis Nullus. Then the scientific approach is this.

          http://www.livius.org/theory/testis-unus-testis-nullus/

          “Another criterion may be plausibility.”
          For this we can turn to natural sciences. Shapeshifting is highly implausible. So are resurrections.
          Your case is build on quicksand.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We could come up with a million different possibilities as to why something was or wasn’t written; but we are not the authors of those books, and we are not omniscient to be able to know why they did or didn’t write about something, are we?

          No, we’re not omniscient. We just do the best we can with the evidence we have. If you have any other plausible explanations than (1) a gospel writer didn’t know about the 500 or (2) he did know and considered it poor evidence (insufficient to waste paper on, anyway), let me know.

          How do you show that the Gospel writers didn’t hear of the 500 people seeing Jesus after he was resurrected?

          I don’t. All we know is that that story isn’t in the gospels. That it’s strong evidence isn’t looking too likely given this.

          Just wondering, what would you consider would be a good reason to think so?

          I would think that resurrecting from the dead is something that happens when science reaches a consensus that it has happened in the past.

          I’m sure you can’t prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist, right?

          I’m sure you can’t prove that unicorns don’t exist. No one cares. The question is: where does the evidence point?

          How much evidence do you need? Be specific, what is missing? A body perhaps?

          Science saying that it happens.

          And what natural explanation is it that you have?

          Seriously? You’re at a loss to explain an ancient claim of miracles except to take it at face value?

          But to do that, we can’t make up things. We have to base it on the evidence at hand. All the possible reasons we can come up with doesn’t do us any good if it doesn’t align with what the text says, does it?

          Ah, so then you do believe that Merlin was a shape shifter.

          But, you have to based that account on it’s own merits. The fact that Merlin the Magician might turn out to be legend based on a historical war leader named, Ambrosius Aurelianus, has no bearing on the accounts of Jesus or the apostles, does it?

          So you’re happy to be skeptical of the Merlin story, but there are different rules for Jesus.

          I think the main question here would be, is the Bible legend, mythology and something else? If so, how do you come to that conclusion?

          What does it look like? It looks like legend + mythology.

          To say something is “just a story” is one thing. To prove that it is, is another thing all together.

          The burden of proof for the remarkable claim that Jesus rose from the dead rests on your broad shoulders. Don’t shirk your obligation, please.

          The men that wrote the 27 books in the Bible blatantly made it clear that these were real events that happened in history.

          So you believe every holy book you read? Must be confusing in there.

          So we can’t just dismiss them by saying they are “just a story”, unless we can show proof that they are just a story.

          We start with: it’s a story. Is it history? OK—give the evidence for that claim. A fantastic story of miracles is going to default as “not history,” I’m afraid.

          Paul wasn’t a second or third hand believer that believed

          because of what others said they saw. He believed because what he said

          he saw. If he was lying…

          No one says he was lying. (Except apologists, of course, so they can knock down that straw man.) You do know that people adopt new religions all the time, right? That stories grow with the retelling? That people have believed false things?

          I completely agree that stories can grow over time. But do you see that in the manuscript evidence for the books in the Bible?

          Yep. Wrote several posts on that.

          Whatever turned him, had to be more compelling than a story he heard, don’t you think? heck, read the one Stephen said before Paul stoned him to death. Paul believed it was blasphemy.

          Just words on paper. It’s just a story. People write weird stuff for lots of reasons. That is very little on which to build support for your supernatural claims.

          Pliny the Younger and his letters with Trajan …

          How does this answer the question of Paul’s crime and execution? Sounds like you have little evidence that Paul died for his beliefs (that is: he would’ve been released if he’d recanted). Irenaeus writes 60 years later? Hmm … sounds like plenty of time for legend to develop.

          I guess that would fit for all of history then, wouldn’t it?

          Sure. (1) Not much hangs on the specifics of the life of Alexander. (2) Historians scrub out miracle claims from the lives of people from history.

          Leaning on history doesn’t help your position.

          Even Tiberius doesn’t have as many documents attributed to him.

          (1) Who cares about Tiberius? (2) No one cares about miracle claims made about him.

        • Albert

          You said, “I would think that resurrecting from the dead is something that happens when science reaches a consensus that it has happened in the past.”

          Why science? Science doesn’t dictate what is true or false; it simply displays the data and says, you come to your conclusion based on what is presented. You still need to use logic and reason(outside of science) to come to what is true.

          And we already know that science states that dead men don’t rise from the dead, don’t we? If so, then this could be evidence for a supernatural event. Something you all seem to what evidence for, but are unwilling to see it for what it is, or could be. If fact, you don’t even entertain the idea that it could be supernatural. Which is funny to me.

          You said, “I’m sure you can’t prove that unicorns don’t exist. No one cares. The question is: where does the evidence point?”

          And when you read what Paul and the others wrote, it seems that the evidence points to a supernatural event happened when Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead to be seen by Paul and 500 others, at least.

          You said, “Seriously? You’re at a loss to explain an ancient claim of miracles except to take it at face value?”

          Okay, so here you have to be reasonable. We can not prove that the supernatural does not exist. So, what we do, when looking at an event in history, is see if we can explain them using naturalistic methods. If we can’t, then we either don’t know, or there is a option we are not looking at.

          The context of the Bible does not leave out the option for the supernatural. It is flowing throughout all of the documents we have in regards to it. Even extra-biblical sources from Roman historian’s mention the existence of supernatural “things” going on. So that context of the Bible has the supernatural as an option we need to consider. If we can’t prove it doesn’t exist, and the context shows indicates that it is present int he account, and the account fits reality, in as much as we can determine(Paul was historical and is claiming to be an eye witness), then the supernatural could be a possible answer. To dismiss it, without considering it, would be to be dishonest as we can not prove it does not exist.

          We don’t have natural explanations for a dead man coming back from the dead. I personally don’t have any explanation other than it was a miracle. My reasoning why that is, is because of all the scientific information I know of, dead men don’t come back from being dead three days.

          With no natural explanation, and the context presenting supernatural events, then there is a possibility that the event did happen through supernatural means.

          You said, “Ah, so then you do believe that Merlin was a shape shifter.”

          Did I say that? I said that story has to be determined true or false on it’s own merits. You are not reading what I’m writing, you are inferring things as you want. How about you read what I type, instead of make them up as you go?

          You said, “So you’re happy to be skeptical of the Merlin story, but there are different rules for Jesus.”

          The rules are the same. I said that too, which I think you missed. We have more reason to believe Jesus existed in history than we do Merlin. We have earlier attestation for Jesus than we do for Merlin. We have eye witness accounts for Jesus, where for Merlin, I don’t know of any.

          Does this make Merlin false and Jesus true? Not at all. As I said, you have to determine them both on their own merits.

          You said, “What does it look like? It looks like legend + mythology.”

          How do you come to that conclusion? What is your basis for this claim?

          You said, “The burden of proof for the remarkable claim that Jesus rose from the dead rests on your broad shoulders. Don’t shirk your obligation, please.”

          I didn’t make the claim. Paul and the other writers of the Bible did, remember?

          My obligation, if any, would be to question wrong thinking when it comes to examining evidence. I have no reason to prove to you the Bible is true or not. But, I can point out faults in your assessment from your claim(the article).

          You are indicating that the Bible is wrong, false, untrue. That is your claim. That means the burden shifted from the writers of the Bible, to you.

          Why should we take your view over that of those that wrote the Bible? What makes your view more compelling that we should consider your view over theirs? They claimed to be there; you are 2000+ years separated from the events. Surely you have very reasoned and logical information as to what we should not take what Paul said as Gospel?

          Because quite honestly, I didn’t even get to your point #1 and I found a flaw with your logic.

          You said, “So you believe every holy book you read? Must be confusing in there.”

          Personal attacks? Really? What I believe or not has no bearing on what the men that wrote that Bible believe, does it?

          You said, “No one says he was lying. (Except apologists, of course, so they can knock down that straw man.)”

          I’m confused; because it seems your article is leaning towards not believing that Paul was telling the truth. Are you saying you believe Paul when he says that 500 people saw Jesus after he rose from the dead?

          You said, ” You do know that people adopt new religions all the time, right?”

          Agreed. What’s your point?

          You said, “That stories grow with the retelling?”

          Agreed. Can you show how Paul’s story grew over time?

          You said, “That people have believed false things?”

          Agreed. You have to show that Paul was believing that he didn’t really see Jesus in physical form. Because his claim is that Jesus was in bodily form.

          You shared a link, “Yep. Wrote several posts on that.”

          I can address those point there on that thread in regards to the data you have in your article.

          For the sake if this discussion, I saw nothing you presented there shows that it “grew”, simply that some groups used some books and others used different books.

          To show something grew, you would have to show that the story changed. But even the earliest manuscripts we have don’t say that Jesus was just a man. His Resurrection was the story from the start.

          You said, “Just words on paper. It’s just a story. People write weird stuff for lots of reasons. That is very little on which to build support for your supernatural claims.”

          It is true that people write all sorts of weird stuff. Your task would be to show this is what Paul did. I asserting it, doesn’t cut it. I could do that for all the writers of Tiberius. What then?

          You said, “How does this answer the question of Paul’s crime and execution? Sounds like you have little evidence that Paul died for his beliefs (that is: he would’ve been released if he’d recanted). Irenaeus writes 60 years
          later? Hmm … sounds like plenty of time for legend to develop.”

          How do you determine that he would’ve been release if he recanted? Pliny’s whole concern was that issue. He seemed to think if they recanted they were not real Christians, but it didn’t seem that if they recanted they were released, rather they were still treated as Christian’s.

          I guess legend could develop in 60 years. Though you would have to show that legend did develop, wouldn’t you. To simply say it did, and not base it on anything is nothing more than asserting an empty claim.

          You said, “Sure. (1) Not much hangs on the specifics of the life of Alexander. (2) Historians scrub out miracle claims from the lives of people from history.”

          (1) Not sure your point with that one. (2) Based on what? Everyone seems to say there is no evidence for the supernatural and yet here you are admitting that you scrub it out of history. Sounds like a cover up to me.

          You said, “(1) Who cares about Tiberius? (2) No one cares about miracle claims made about him.”

          You could very well be right that no one cares about Tiberius. He was simply used as a comparison of someone I’m sure you don’t doubt existed or that the documents written about him were historical.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Whew! We’ve got to stop writing such long comments to each other. Tongues will wag.

          Science doesn’t dictate what is true or false

          No; it’s simply the best vehicle we have on finding it.

          And we already know that science states that dead men don’t rise from the dead, don’t we?

          Science is always tentative. It says nothing for certain.

          you don’t even entertain the idea that it could be supernatural.

          The last 10,000 claims for the supernatural have been shown to likely be false. I’m not holding my breath.

          And when you read what Paul and the others wrote, it seem s that the evidence points to a supernatural event happened when Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead to be seen by Paul and 500 others, at least.

          So your strategy when confronted by an argument is to just ignore it?

          (1) The gospel authors say that the 500-eyewitnesses claim is weak.

          (2) It’s just a frikkin’ story. You believe everything you read?

          Okay, so here you have to be reasonable. We can not prove that the supernatural does not exist.

          I don’t ask you to. I simply ask you to acknowledge the skepticism that you have for all the other nutty claims in life—UFO abductions, conspiracy theories, fairies, etc.

          So, what we do, when looking at an event in history, is see if we can explain them using naturalistic methods. If we can’t, then we either don’t know, or there is a option we are not look ing at.

          Yes.

          The context of the Bible does not leave out the option for the supernatural. It is flowing throughout all of the documents we have in regards to it.

          Ditto for dozens of other ancient books of non-Christian mythology.

          To dismiss it, without considering it, would be to be dishonest as we can not prove it does not exist.

          I don’t! (How many times … ?)

          We don’t have natural explanations for a dead man coming back from the dead. I personally don’t have any explanation other than it was a miracle.

          Huh? What we have is a story of a dead man coming back. You truly are at a loss for explaining a supernatural tale in a story besides taking it at face value?

          With no natural explanation, and the context presenting supernatural events, then there is a possibility that the event did happen through supernatural means.

          Sure, but why (aside from a predisposition to a Christian worldview) would the natural explanations be insufficient??

          Did I say that?

          What else can I assume? You have evidence arguing that Merlin was a shape shifter and no contemporary evidence that he was not. You do evaluate things consistently, right?

          We have more reason to believe Jesus existed in history than we do Merlin. We have earlier attestation for Jesus than we do for Merlin. We have eye witness accounts for Jesus, where for Merlin, I don’t know of any.

          Yes, we have earlier attestations for Jesus—hardly enough to carry the day for so incredible an argument. No, we don’t have eyewitnesses. (You say we do? Show me.)

          I think the argument for Merlin being magical is laughably weak. Ditto for the argument for Jesus (though the latter is admittedly much more complicated).

          you have to determine them both on their own merits.

          Then why the hilarious demand for contemporary evidence contradicting the gospel claims?

          How do you come to that conclusion? What is your basis for this claim?

          You judge things differently? What bin do you put Zeus, Quetzalcoatl, and Shiva? How about Merlin and Paul Bunyan? How about the Wizard of Oz and Tales of Narnia? I’m guessing you said: religion/mythology, legend/mythology, and fiction (or something close to that). If so, then perhaps our ways of evaluating things are not so different after all.

          I didn’t make the claim. Paul and the other writers of the Bible did, remember?

          Huh? You’re not claiming that Jesus rose from the dead? I thought you were.

          My obligation, if any, would be to question wrong thinking when it comes to examining evidence.

          And to correct any errors in your own thinking, I’m guessing?

          Why should we take your view over t hat of those that wrote the Bible?

          Or the writers of Gilgamesh? Or the Enuma Elish? Are they all correct?

          What makes your view more compelling that we should consider your view over theirs?

          I make specific arguments. Rebut them if you can.

          They claimed to be there

          There’s a lot of that going around. I’m surprised that this counts for much. It’s written down so you just believe it?

          Surely you have very reasoned and logical information as to what we should not take what Paul said as Gospel?

          I wrote a post on that. This one, in fact.

          Because quite honestly, I didn’t even get to your point #1 and I found a flaw with your logic.

          It’s been a long time. I forgot what you said. And I missed the corrections on the other 8 points.

          What I believe or not has no bearing on what the men that wrote that Bible believe, does it?

          What the men who wrote the Bible believed isn’t the issue. It’s: what is true?

          I’m confused; because it seems your article is leaning towards not believing that Paul was telling the truth.

          Paul could’ve been mistaken. He doesn’t have to have been lying.

          Are you saying you believe Paul when he says that 500 people saw Jesus after he rose from the dead?

          Surely we’ve exchanged enough words to know the answer to this.

          Can you show how Paul’s story grew over time?

          You hassle me for misunderstanding you, and then you come out with this. My job isn’t to prove that Paul’s story grew. I’m simply observing that it could. The burden of proof is with the remarkable claim.

          You have to show that Paul was believing that he didn’t really see Jesus in physical form. Because his claim is that Jesus was in bodily form.

          I’m pretty sure he claimed to have seen Jesus in a vision. That’s rather different from what the gospels record about how the 12 disciples saw Jesus.

          To show something grew, you would have to show that the story changed.

          I show that the story could’ve changed. That’s all I need to show to undercut the supernatural claim.

          But even the earliest manuscripts we have don’t say that Jesus was just a man.

          You’re aware of Adoptionism? That’s the story told in Mark: Jesus was a man who became the Christ on baptism.

          It is true that people write all sorts of weird stuff. Your task would be to show this is what Paul did.

          My task is to show that Paul might’ve written something that wasn’t history.

          I could do that for all the writers of Tiberius. What then?

          Then, nothing. No one cares about Tiberius except a dozen historians. Jesus, on the other hand, is more interesting. If we treat the gospel story like we do any other history, we’d scrub the supernatural elements out of it.

          Let’s be consistent.

          How do you determine that he would’ve been release if he recanted?

          Here’s a tip: if it’s sedition or murder or rabble rousing or most other charges, “Just kidding! Jesus really wasn’t God” won’t get you off.

          And I don’t believe you’ve even told me what he was executed for.

          I guess legend could develop in 60 years. Though you would have to show that legend did develop, wouldn’t you. To simply say it did, and not base it on anything is nothing more than asserting an empty claim.

          We’ve been over this. The burden of proof is on the remarkable gospel claim. Could legend develop in 60 years? Yup.

          If the supernatural story rests on, “Well, it might’ve happened this way,” then we have very little reason to accept that story.

          Based on what? Everyone seems to say there is no evidence for th e supernatural and yet here you are admitting that you scrub it out of history. Sounds like a cover up to me.

          Am I talking to a child here?

          Look in the consensus view of historians on any subject. You will find zero supernatural events.

          You want to play in the domain of History, and yet you refuse to accept the rules of History. Show me a precedent for the supernatural claims of the gospel story. There are none, which means that it doesn’t fit into “history.”

          If your point is that we should be open minded, I’m happy to be open minded. Are you saying that historians are closed minded when they reject supernatural claims about Caesar Augustus or Alexander?

        • wtfwjtd

          “How do you show that the Gospel writers didn’t hear of the 500 people seeing Jesus after he was resurrected?”

          By looking at the gospels, that’s how. Did they write about it? No, they did not. If they really believed this compelling evidence was true, then *of course* they would have wrote it into their narratives, it’s too important. Because it isn’t there, they either hadn’t heard of it–unlikely, since Paul’s epistles were written before the gospels were–or they didn’t believe it, and left it out. It’s the only logical assumption, given what we know. The gospels were written “so that you may believe”, we are told over and over and over in them. Leaving out evidence that’s far more compelling than some things they did include would not have happened.

        • Albert

          You said, “By looking at the gospels, that’s how. Did they write about it? No, they did not.”

          This does nothing to show that the Gospel writers didn’t hear of the 500 people at all. I’m sure they saw and heard and experienced a lot of things that they didn’t write about. Just because they didn’t write about them, didn’t mean they didn’t happen.

          You said, “If they really believed this compelling evidence was true, then *of
          course* they would have wrote it into their narratives, it’s too
          important.”

          That’s not true. Perhaps you could say if YOU were one of those writers, this sort of thing would have been compelling enough evidence for you to want to write about it, but you can’t answer for what some other writer might want to write about. This is simply inferring your thoughts and desires on someone else.

          You said, “Because it isn’t there, they either hadn’t heard of it–unlikely, since
          Paul’s epistles were written before the gospels were–or they didn’t
          believe it, and left it out. It’s the only logical assumption, given
          what we know.”

          This is not logical at all. It’s inferring what the writers felt was important to write or not write. For all we know, they saw it in Paul’s epistles and decided since he mentioned it, there was no reason for them to do so.
          Plus, their narrative was of a different nature than what Paul’s epistles were. So they addressed a different time of Jesus being here on earth.

          You said, “The gospels were written “so that you may believe”, we are told over and
          over and over in them. Leaving out evidence that’s far more compelling
          than some things they did include would not have happened.”

          Again, you are simply inferring what YOU would have written about if you were in their shoes. But it’s simply nothing more than speculation and bad logic.

          Based on what most of you think, the logical thing for them to do would have been to leave the supernatural out of their writings altogether if they wanted you to believe them.

          The interesting thing that none of you seem to consider is they just wrote what they saw and experienced. But again, that would make too much sense, right?

        • hector_jones

          The interesting thing that none of you seem to consider is they just wrote what they saw and experienced. But again, that would make too much sense, right?

          If the gospel writers just wrote what they saw and experienced how do you explain that 3 of the 4 gospels copy entire passages from one another (Mark generally thought to be the earliest of the 3) and that the gospels are dated to about 66 CE at the earliest by experts (3 decades after Jesus is said to have died)?

          So no your explanation doesn’t make all that much sense. It’s almost as if you know absolutely nothing about the history of the gospels.

        • wtfwjtd

          Please, Albert, listen to yourself. You believe a man is supernaturally brought back from the dead, 500 people saw it, you know this, and yet you don’t write it into your account which has the sole purpose of convincing people this supernatural event happened? Do you know how lame that sounds? Instead, the best you can come up with are a few women finding an empty tomb, maybe a few of his close buddies, and then think, “yea, that’s enough, I wouldn’t want to present evidence that’s much more credible and believable than this!” Sorry, but that’s just crazy, and takes a lot more faith to believe than just admitting the obvious: they didn’t know about it or didn’t believe it.
          Or, maybe, just maybe, they took Paul at his word, when he said that Christ “appeared to” these 500 the same way he said that Christ had “appeared to” Paul–in a revelation, or a dream. Makes a lot more sense.
          BTW, the anonymous writers of the gospels, whoever they were, just copied Mark and then added their own bits to the story, decades after the alleged events took place. True eyewitness accounts would be written in a much more independent style, without all the plagiarism.

        • Albert

          You said, “Please, Albert, listen to yourself. You believe a man is supernaturally brought back from the dead, 500 people saw it, you know this, and yet you don’t write it into your account which has the sole purpose of convincing people this supernatural event happened?”

          What is funny is that Paul did mention it and none of you believe he saw it. So how would the other writers writing it make a difference to you?

          And yes, there are indications that there was references of Mark’s writing. But for some reason I’m guessing you would claim plagiarism if they all wrote about the 500 people too. And since they didn’t write about it, now it’s not independent accounts either. You are basically saying they can’t win regardless what they did because you are choosing not to believe any of it whatsoever. Makes me wonder why you even bother to make any comments at all.

        • wtfwjtd

          “What is funny is that Paul did mention it and none of you believe he saw it. So how would the other writers writing it make a difference to you?”

          Oh, Paul believes Jesus “appeared to” 500 all right, just as Jesus “appeared to” Paul on the road to Damascus. Do I believe that Paul believes this? Yes, I do. But that don’t mean it actually happened.

          If the gospel writers would have mentioned a similar incident, it would make it seem as though Paul’s report was the sighting of an actual person, not just a vision. The fact that they didn’t means they believed how I believe Paul and the 500 saw Jesus–in a vision.

          “there are indications that there was references of Mark’s writing.”

          References? How about direct, word-for-word copying? Matthew contains 90 percent of Mark, much of it verbatim, and Luke has 50 percent much the same way. Don’t that make you think just a little bit, that maybe Matthew’s tale is just an improvement of Mark’s story, and Luke was also aiming to further improve on both Matthew and Luke?

        • Albert

          Believing Paul believes he saw Jesus and believing Paul saw Jesus are two completely different things. You wrote all of that and missed the point.

          If the Gospel’s mentioned the 500, you wouldn’t believe any more than you do now. If fact, you would probably just add another percent to the totals you brought in on your next comment, right?

          Your comment about Matthew and Luke containing Mark verbatim is almost an exact quote of what many others have said to me. Does this mean that what you said is not true?
          Do you ever discount news stories because they contain exactly the same content as other news casts?

        • wtfwjtd

          “If the Gospel’s mentioned the 500, you wouldn’t believe any more than you do now.”

          Come on Albert, now you’re just grasping straws. This is a convenient excuse for you to cling to your false belief that there’s no amount of evidence that would convince the skeptic. You’re willing to believe the resurrection story because you want to believe it, not because there’s a strong case built on solid evidence for it. Unlike you, I’d happily change my mind if the evidence warranted it. For you, there’s no amount of, or lack of, evidence that would change your mind–your mind is already made up.
          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Here, we don’t even have a basic minimum of evidence for an ordinary claim, must less something as fantastic and bizarre as a bodily resurrection.
          If I read 3 or 4 news stories that had copied from one another claiming something as fantastic as a resurrection of a dead body, would I be skeptical? Of course I would. Would I require more evidence than just these 3 or 4 stories to believe such an incredible claim? Of course I would, and if you would be honest, so would you. But since its religion and its dogmatic beliefs we are talking about, for some reason you are willing to set aside your normal, and perfectly reasonable, demands for more substantial evidence. I know the feeling buddy, I was once there too. Maybe someday, you’ll allow yourself the freedom to examine these things with the critical eye that they deserve.

        • Kodie

          There was a girl about 75 years ago or more. She said she walked and walked all day to find her way home. She was going to run away because a mean old neighbor lady took her dog.

          There were witches, munchkins, talking scarecrow, tin woodsman (wtf is a tin woodsman?), cowardly lion, and flying monkeys. It was in full color as if her real life at home was actually in black and white, and yet she had knowledge of rainbows. There wasn’t a wizard though. He couldn’t give her friends the gifts they desired, but only tokens of confidence. He tried to send her home in a hot-air balloon, but that didn’t work. It turned out, even though she had a concussion, she could at any time click her heels together on her fancy red shoes and go home any time she wanted to. But anyway, what’s really weird is she thought she had gone to another place after a tornado lifted her house.

          What’s really weird is that they never resolved the issue and presumably the neighbor was still coming to take her dog away. She had a hard time telling what was reality and what was fantasy because when she came to, and she recognized the farmhands as her friends from the dream, but she didn’t recognize her friends in the dream as the farmhands from her Uncle Henry’s farm. And a fortune-telling traveling guy who was obviously bunk, whom she had met briefly only hours before made 3 separate characters in her dream, although it was filled out with many more strangers in Munchkinland and Emerald City. Of course the bad witch was the mean neighbor and she killed her in the dream – she says she didn’t mean to, but as long as she could bring the broom to the wizard, it didn’t weigh heavily on her as it might have.

          You know when you’re watching this story on the tv, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’re supposed to suspend your disbelief and just go with it. If I tried to tell you all that really happened, you would easily point out a lot of logical errors in the story, even though from beginning to end, it is a realistic story. A realistic girl has a realistic problem and getting caught in the wrong place to be during a tornado, gets hit on the head and falls unconscious. The fantastical elements were contained inside of a dream, something that comes from the imagination, and can be so rich and wide that it seems real even upon waking that she could swear it happened, and that all the farmhands and the fortuneteller were there helping her. Of course everyone comes by to see if she’s ok and they laugh it off, because they’re glad she came to. Even she doesn’t persist for very long, the bottom line is that she got home. THE END.

          Let’s go over this again – she ran away, but she did go home. That’s where she got injured and almost died. She was willing to endanger herself for her dog. In her dream, she was also willing to die for her dog, and to kill for her dog. She wasn’t going home any way she could without that dog. But she was already home, all she needed to do was wake up. The neighbor missed a great chance to come by and take her dog while she was unattendant.
          That’s how it’s written. An author can make anyone willing to die for a cause.

        • Albert

          That is true. But the author of the Wizard of Oz never suggested this was a real live historical account. If the author did, then there would be reason to evaluate this book as we should any other book or document that claims to be historical.

          The Bible, on the other hand does claim to be historical. So you can’t simply dismiss it because there are things in there that sound outlandish. You have to evaluate them based on historical standards.

        • Kodie

          Why not?

        • Albert

          Why not, what?

        • Kodie

          Yeah, why not simply dismiss things that claim a supernatural event? Isn’t that exactly why you reject the claims of other religions?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This does nothing to show that the Gospel writers didn’t hear of the 500 people at all. I’m sure they saw and heard and experienced a lot of things that they didn’t write about. Just because they didn’t write about them, didn’t mean they didn’t happen.

          Your argument has devolved into: “Well, you can’t prove that the gospel writers hadn’t heard of the 500 or didn’t find it compelling. You can’t read their minds. Maybe there was a good reason.”

          Uh, OK. Maybe there’s a reason (or 4 reasons) for why the writers saw this as great evidence but just didn’t put it in. But that’s not where the evidence points.

          Plus, their narrative was of a different nature than what Paul’s epistles were. So they addressed a different time of Jesus being here on earth.

          Right. The gospels have boatloads of commentary about his life and what he did. That’s where you go for evidence to back up the Jesus story. The one exception where Paul actually has the evidence is the story of the 500. Don’t tell us that they had no use for evidence.

          Based on what most of you think, the logical thing for them to do would have been to leave the supernatural out of their writings altogether if they wanted you to believe them.

          ?? Let’s take as a given that they wanted to share the Good News. Here’s some “evidence” they didn’t put in. That’s the point.

          The interesting thing that none of you seem to consider is they just wrote what they saw and experienced. But again, that would make too much sense, right?

          Tell yourself that, pal. They clearly didn’t think much of the 500 story to put in. If anyone was at the front lines to see this, it would’ve been them. And yet they didn’t put it in. That says that Paul’s claim is weak—or that this is simply part of a creed, stuff that they just believed, regardless of the evidence.

        • Albert

          You said, “Your argument has devolved into: “Well, you can’t prove that the gospel writers hadn’t heard of the 500 or didn’t find it compelling. You can’t read their minds. Maybe there was a good reason.”

          It’s not devolved. It’s called logic.

          It doesn’t logically follow that someone didn’t hear about something, or didn’t consider it compelling evidence, simply because they never wrote about it.

          And logic also states that we can not read their minds.

          It’s not like calling up Stan Lee and asking him what he had Spiderman do such and such in comic book #3 of last year. The author could tell you why he did what he did. This doesn’t work for any document where the author is dead. We can only go off of what they wrote or what people wrote about them.

          This is a standard method of dealing with documents of the past. You don’t read into it what you want, you read them for what they say.

          You said, “Uh, OK. Maybe there’s a reason (or 4 reasons) for why the writers saw this as great evidence but just didn’t put it in. But that’s not where the evidence points.”

          The evidence points to they didn’t write about it. I don’t see how you can infer more than that from it.

          Did they know about the 500? Maybe, maybe not. It has no bearing on it either way. You have to conclude that they just didn’t write about it; nothing more.

          You said, “Right. The gospels have boatloads of commentary about his life and what he did. That’s where you go for evidence to back up the Jesus story. The one exception where Paul actually has the evidence is the story of the 500. Don’t tell us that they had no use for evidence.”

          I’m saying that they must have felt that what they wrote was enough evidence to convey what they wanted to convey.

          Was it enough evidence to convince you? Obviously not. Would them adding in a mention of 500 people seeing Jesus alive make a difference in convincing you? I’m guessing it wouldn’t; but I could be wrong.

          Read Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21. Each of these give accounts of the empty tomb and Jesus rising from the dead. John describes Jesus’ appearance at the Sea of Galilee. Luke writes about the road to Emmaus. Mark and Matthew records the women and the 11 disciples seeing him.

          It seems this was enough for what they wanted to convey. They wanted to say he rose from the dead. And then they carried out what Jesus told them to do..

          Seems to me, these are compelling accounts on their own. And when you add in Paul’s account this is corroborating that Jesus rose from the dead.

          You said, “?? Let’s take as a given that they wanted to share the Good News. Here’s some “evidence” they didn’t put in. That’s the point.”

          That’s not much of a point.

          Paul gave us the evidence. Now what?

          You said, “Tell yourself that, pal. They clearly didn’t think much of the 500 story to put in. If anyone was at the front lines to see this, it would’ve been them. And yet they didn’t put it in. That says that Paul’s claim is weak—or that this is simply part of a creed, stuff that they just believed, regardless of the evidence.”

          You are inferring importance based on your own feelings. It’s all speculation based on what you would have done if you were in their shoes.

          Would it have made Paul’s claim stronger to be in more than one source? Perhaps.
          But look at how you all handle Mark being copied in Matthew and Luke. You scream plagiarism.
          Why would you not do the same if they had included the account of the 500 people seeing Jesus?
          After all, the Gospels were written after Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians, right?

          I agree that it would have been nice to have one other source mentioning the 500.
          Yes, I think that would have made that account stronger. But just because it’s the only source does not mean it isn’t credible or true.

          You have to look at the sources as a whole. Pieces to a puzzle. Look at the documents from the perspective of a cold case forensics.
          Try to see what the writers were intending to convey, not make it up as you go. Only base your assertions on what is written, not what you think they should have written.

          Matthew, for instance, seemed to be more focused on a Jewish audience. Luke had one person in mind. Mark, according to Papias, was simply following Peter around and recording what he heard, omitting nothing.

          according to Papias,
          according to Papias,
          according to Papias,They each had a particular perspective in mind and an intended audience. You can see that in their writings alone. Did they share some of the information? Sure, but they also added in their own perspectives or information from view that were not yet recorded.
          John even seems to decide he has said enough when it adds at the end of his Gospel, “there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”(John 21:25).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It doesn’t logically follow that someone didn’t hear about something, or didn’t consider it compelling e vidence, simply because they never wrote about it.

          You mean that we can’t be certain about this? Obviously. But that’s where the evidence points.

          (But I repeat myself.)

          This is a standard method of dealing with documents of the past. You don’t read into it what you want, you read them for what they say.

          Thanks for the education.

          Ask the average person what logically follows from an author not including compelling evidence in his essay. My guess: a tossup between (1) he didn’t know and (2) it wasn’t compelling.

          The evidence points to they didn’t write about it. I don’t see how you can infer more than that from it.

          Getting a little close for comfort are we? Maybe we should drop this one if it’s making you anxious.

          My only demand is that you be consistent. Since making any inference or speculation isn’t warranted here, never do it anywhere else in biblical exegesis.

          Did they know about the 500? Maybe, maybe not. It has no bearing on it either way. You have to conclude that they just didn’t write about it; nothing more.

          And so we have the odd situation of (1) Paul’s use of the 500 is extremely compelling evidence and (2) the gospel authors simply didn’t choose to include that factoid (for some reason that we’re not allowed to speculate about). OK, got it.

          But if I may, it looks like you’ve got your conclusion, and you’re simply adjusting the evidence to support it. I’ll be that in different situations, you’re happy to follow the evidence to make a conclusion. When it leads to the wrong conclusion, however, you’re not going there. And I’m now allowed to go there either, apparently.

          Was it enough evidence to convince you? Obviously not.

          ?? You’re changing the subject.

          Would it have made Paul’s claim stronger to be in more than one source? Perhaps.

          “Perhaps”? You just finished rambling on about the four fantabulous accounts in the gospel stories. Why have 4? Would the claims have been any less strong with just 1? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

          But look at how you all handle Mark being copied in Matthew and Luke. You scream plagiarism.

          Why would you not do the same if they had included the account of t he 500 people seeing Jesus?

          You hope that attacking another point will make us miss the elephant in the room, I guess. If you don’t want to talk about what the gospels’ silence says about the weakness of the 500 story, just say so.

          I agree that it would have been nice to have one other source mentioning the 500.

          But it doesn’t count a whit against the story without that source. Cool—heads you win, and tails I lose!

          Love it! Now I see why Christians say that God grounds all logic.

          Yes, I think that would have made that account stronger. But just because it’s the only source does not mean it isn’t credible or true.

          And, once again, we’re back to square one. No, the gospel omission doesn’t prove that Paul was lying or mistaken. However, it does point in that direction.

          I’m just followin’ the evidence.

          Look at the documents from the perspective of a cold case forensics.

          Try to see what the writers were intending to convey, not make it up as you go.

          Ah, it’s me who’s got the agenda. OK, cool. Good to know.

          according to Papias,

          according to Papias,

          according to Papias,

          Papias ain’t much of a historian (search “Papias” on this blog for more).

        • MNb

          “The fact that Merlin the Magician might turn out to be legend based on a historical war leader named, Ambrosius Aurelianus, has no bearing on the accounts of Jesus or the apostles, does it?”
          Indirectly it does. It’s a matter of methodology. If a methodology goes wrong in the case Arthur and Merlin we cannot trust it regarding Jesus and Paulus.

        • Albert

          Can you show me an example of how that would work?

        • MNb

          BobS’ Merlin being a shapeshifter example.

        • Albert

          No, I mean step through the methodology you are speaking about. Feel free to use Merlin as the example if you want. But walk through the methodology you are suggesting.

        • MNb

          Does your memory fail you? BobS made it clear already.
          Document A claims X. X is a non-natural event (ie contradicting the natural sciences). There are no contemporary documents claiming not-X. Hence X must be true.
          Now substitute for X “Merlin was a shapeshifter” and “Jesus rose from death” respectively.
          If this methodology is wrong for Merlin it’s wrong for Jesus too.

          There is more to it if we delve a bit deeper. One of the basic assumptions of science is that the Universe is consistent. This means we have a problem if one branch of science – in this case History of Antiquity – contradicts others – in this case the natural sciences. That’s why most historians of Antiquity only accept theories which don’t contradict natural science. That works very well; there are several examples of History of Antiquity and Physics fruitfully cooperating. Archimedes’ fire-mirrors is a fine example.
          But let’s assume for the sake of argument that historical research is capable of refuting the claims of the natural sciences. The Resurrection took place. Then the event has become part of our natural universe and as such can be subjected to the scientific method. So you have to provide a theory of biology, with consequences for chemics and physics as well, that accurately describes how people can be resurrected.
          You can’t have it two ways: using the scientific method to back up the claim of the Resurrection and then throw the scientific method in the dustbin when the natural sciences want to get involved. Now of course many Americans (continental Europeans not so much) deny history is a science. You can predict how we atheists will react of course: shrug, come back as soon as you do apply the scientific method.
          I think I mentioned this point to BobS once already: if you accept the scientific method you have to walk the whole nine yards. Using the scientific method means rejecting miracles (David Hume) such as resurrections and shapeshifting a priori.
          Saying the Resurrection was a miracle, ie an example of a god intervening with nature, possible because said god (and hence is son) are not restricted by natural law, means rejecting the scientific method.
          Yup – the way you look at the historical data is antiscientific, because any way you look at them rejects the scientific method in the particular case of the Resurrection. That again explains the apologist tendency of going ad hoc. This means we are back at where I started: you have a serious methodological problem.

          PS @BobS: see, this is what philosophy (of science) can do for you.

        • MNb

          “People do die for what they believe.”
          Yes and no. A lot of Germans died at the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945. About the first two years they died because they believed. Afterwards less and less.
          Now what?

        • Albert

          I’m not understanding what you are getting at. Can you explain a little more?

        • Kodie

          Do you really think Joe McCarthy was lying, or more likely paranoid. You are only considering that people who sincerely believe something are always telling the truth or that they are lying. How about blinded by what they think is actually true too much to see that it’s not true? You are taking someone’s insistent belief as a signal that what they believe is true. Can’t someone be mistaken? Joe McCarthy whipped up a panic, and many people went along with it – were they willing to die? Maybe! You are not counting on what someone believes strongly to be a total mistake on their part or someone else’s. You are completely ignoring that people die for what they truly believe when it turns out to be false. They are not aware that it’s false, so they are not lying, or they are ignoring people who tell them it’s false because they really believe it.

          You are saying that someone’s willingness to die for something ought to point us toward the truth, that if they are dying for something, it must be true. You have two sides to every war, and even if you pick a side, the other side is passionately shooting at us and willing to die for what they believe, which is in direct opposition to what this side is dying that they really believe. Why would they do that if they were wrong? You don’t even ask yourself, and are given an example and quickly confused. Kamikazes and Islamic terror bombers do it all the time. It’s often that they are manipulated, and dying is a dare on their honor. People can die for what they truly believe for a lot of reasons and you can’t agree that all of them are correct.

        • Kodie

          Then there is the little bit of the other side – what are people willing to kill for? Maybe killing is less intense than dying but not by much. If someone was willing to kill Paul for what he truly believed, they must have believed the opposite. If it came down to it, it is kill or be killed. They would have died for their beliefs if it came down that way instead. How many people did the Crusades kill because they would rather die than convert?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You are saying that someone’s willingness to die for something ought to point us toward the truth, that if they are dying for something, it must be true.

          Heck, Joseph Smith died for his religion way more than Paul did. If Joseph Smith had said, “OK, yeah, I made it all up; sorry,” he might’ve not been gunned down. What could Paul have been charged with for which he would’ve been released if he’d told the Romans that Jesus wasn’t for real?

        • Albert

          You said, “Do you really think Joe McCarthy was lying, or more likely paranoid.”

          I honestly don’t know if he lied. But he didn’t have the evidence to back up his claims. All he had to do was produce that list and why he believed people were communists and he would have been done. But he didn’t.

          You said, “You are only considering that people who sincerely believe something are always telling the truth or that they are lying. ”

          That isn’t really true. There are many people out there that are sincere in their belief’s. But that in no way means they are telling the truth, or even that what they are believing in is true.

          You said, “How about blinded by what they think is actually true too much to see that it’s not true?”

          That is a very good possibility.

          You said, “You are taking someone’s insistent belief as a signal that what they believe is true.”

          Not quite. That is only a part of the whole. Paul wasn’t the only one that made this claim. And Paul’s insistent belief wasn’t based on belief, but on first person knowledge.

          Again, he changed from killing Christian’s to becoming one, knowing that the Jews he worked for would then come after him as well. Why would he do that? What would motivate someone to do that?

          You said, ” Can’t someone be mistaken?”

          Yes.

          You said, “Joe McCarthy whipped up a panic, and many people went along with it – were they willing to die? Maybe!”

          I agree. But then you have to ask, if those people that got all whipped up in a panic were shown it was all a lie, would they be willing to die then?

          You said, “You are not counting on what someone believes strongly to be a total mistake on their part or someone else’s.”

          Yes I am.

          You said, “You are completely ignoring that people die for what they truly believe when it turns out to be false.”

          No, I’m not. I’m acknowledging that.

          You said, “They are not aware that it’s false, so they are not lying, or they are ignoring people who tell them it’s false because they really believe it.”
          Again, this hinges on believing, not knowing.

          You said, “You are saying that someone’s willingness to die for something ought to point us toward the truth, that if they are dying for something, it must be true.”

          No, that isn’t what I’m saying at all.

          You said, “You have two sides to every war, and even if you pick a side, the other side is passionately shooting at us and willing to die for what they believe, which is in direct opposition to what this side is dying that they really believe. Why would they do that if they were wrong?”

          I don’t know.

          You said, “You don’t even ask yourself, and are given an example and quickly confused.”

          Huh? I’m not sure what you are meaning by this comment.

          You said, “Kamikazes and Islamic terror bombers do it all the time. It’s often that they are manipulated, and dying is a dare on their honor.”

          So you are suggesting that Paul was a Kamikaze?

          You said, “People can die for what they truly believe for a lot of reasons and you can’t agree that all of them are correct.”

          Yes, I agree 100%. But people do not die for what the know to be a lie.

        • Kodie

          You don’t understand how first-hand (if we are going with this story) experience can be faulty? You seem to understand but then you don’t. Paul’s story is exceptional to you, but you are skeptical that anyone else takes their beliefs seriously enough to die for them. Every Christian I’ve ever heard has emotional sensations that they attribute to their Christianity, to a god telegraphing their brain directly to prompt those emotions. It’s silly, but that’s how people trick themselves. Paul’s testimony is no different. No believer of any religion’s testimony is any different.

        • MNb

          Paulus didn’t have the evidence to back up his claim either.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think that MNb is trying to point out that people, sometimes millions of them, die for fanatical causes all the time. People are deceived–and deceive themselves–into believing in false and even immoral causes all the time. Just because they are willing to die for a cause, however, doesn’t make that cause a just one or a true one.

        • Albert

          And if that is the point, I agree with that 100%. But Paul didn’t say he believed that Jesus rose from the dead. He said he SAW him raised from the dead. That means he was an eye witness. That means he just didn’t believe this happened, he would have known it happened, if it was true.

          This puts him into a different category than someone that just believes. Because now, he knows weather it was a lie or not. And people don’t die for what they know is a lie.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He said he SAW him raised from the dead. That means he was an eye witness.

          He saw Jesus as a vision. That’s not quite “eyewitness,” and that doesn’t put him in the same category as the disciples. Paul’s insistence that it does, however, makes one wonder if Paul thought that their experience of Jesus was visionary, just like his own.

          And people don’t die for what they know is a lie.

          Which is irrelevant to this topic since you’ve stated that we don’t know that Paul died for his beliefs (that is, recanting would’ve gotten him let off).

        • Kodie

          I am not going to say it was Paul, but I am thinking of a person who saw something strange, a hallucination, or whatever, and asked if everyone else saw it too. Sometimes people say they saw it too, if they don’t want to look like the stupid one.

          Also, I can get “visions” rather easily. If I stare at the ceiling or a blank wall or close my eyes, I start to see faint outlines forming and then morphing a lot. It is kind of like Magic Eye, where I am relaxed and staring at a point at a different distance than the surface. I have no control over what shapes are formed, but it’s kind of neat, and often people, children, and monsters. I have no reason to think, at best, Paul had a “vision” and associated the vision with Jesus, just like seeing the lord on a pancake griddle.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh yes, Paul had a vision of Jesus all right, and depending on which version you are reading(there are 3 different accounts of it in Acts, all irreconcilably different), this vision spoke to him as well. Remember, this is from Acts, which are stories about Paul in much the same way as the gospels are stories about Jesus. But I’m just playing along with Albert and critiquing the stories as written, without contesting their veracity.

          In Paul’s actual writings, he does report visions all the time, so it’s something that is consistent with his own stories.

        • Kodie

          I don’t say Paul didn’t have visions. People’s assessment of “visions” seems to put a lot of stock in what those visions reveal, that these people have their full faculties and more. People can be taken in by any such spiritual guide – take a look at all the people who go see a psychic. They themselves can’t contact the dead or see into the future, but some people have “the gift”, and I don’t doubt that many psychics believe sincerely in their “gift” and do not realize or acknowledge a scam, it’s more of a trick, a skill they have, and that’s in the behavior that may or may not be enhanced for their line of work. I think of people who join cults, at least in popular culture, how their demeanor changes to align with the rest of the group, and that difference is what attracts new members – because they act all enlightened and stuff. Western people are taken in by the mystique of Eastern mythologies, that’s not a pretend act, it’s a cultural difference in behaviors. I think Paul, if not someone else, had to toot Jesus’s horn. I don’t know who Paul was, it seems like from what I’m reading, that he inserted himself into the story and made anyone who would listen, listen to him tell of his visions. It was relevant to the group. Sometimes I think he sounds like someone who was bummed that he never got to meet Jesus and all these other dudes were his friends. It’s like, maybe you had an idol when you were younger, and it would send you to the moon to have met him. Whenever a celebrity dies, that’s what I think – when they are old and haven’t been in anything for a long time, they might as well have been dead this whole time, but then you always thought you’d have time to meet them (right?). Some die young and still relevant, I am just thinking like Paul heard about this Jesus and wanted to prove it to himself, but he was too late. Instead, he conjured up a vision and took his visions too seriously.

          A person couldn’t have a vision of something that never happened, right? A person couldn’t picture, like you might do when you’re reading a novel, what characters look like and what they’re doing in the actions, nobody pictures exactly that when they put these stories on film with real actors. It’s when you purport yourself to be a visionary and rely on these “visions” to know things you were not present to know. I could right now have a vision of Jesus resurrecting from the dead and ascending to heaven, and talking to me.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Sometimes I think he sounds like someone who was bummed that he never got to meet Jesus and all these other dudes were his friends. ”

          Paul seems to think he knows just as much about Jesus as his buddies Peter and the other apostles, which seems weird if he thought these guys actually got to pal around with Jesus in real life and he didn’t. It’s kinda like in “Toy Story” when the two Buzz Lightyears get into an argument over who’s the “real” Buzz Lightyear–“I’m Buzz–no I”M the REAL Buzz, and I’M in charge of this detachment”. Paul was always bickering with and criticizing the other apostles, telling stories about how he had suffered more than they had for the cause of Jesus, etc. Like he just has to lay claim to the title “greatest apostle” and then pretending he isn’t playing these kind of power games.

          So yeah, you’re right, he seemed to think his visions of Jesus were way cooler than anybody else’s, and they are what give him real authority as an apostle in the Jesus movement.

        • Kodie

          One time, I saw in a vision a dead body being rolled into a mass grave. How does someone’s vision make them an eyewitness?

        • Albert

          Well, Paul says in other places that Jesus was seen bodily. He refers to Kind Daivd as seeing decay and Jesus not seeing decay. There is also the Apostles that were written about of the likes of doubting Thomas put his hands in the wounds to believe. This is a little more than a “vision”.

          Plus something that is not explained is what they really mean by vision as the men around Paul also hear the voice.

        • wtfwjtd

          Acts 9:7– “The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.”

          Acts 26:19–“…I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven…”
          referring to , uh, well, the vision from heaven reported in Acts ch 9.

        • MNb

          Why do you rule out
          1) self deceit?
          2) that Paulus died a natural death?

          “He said he SAW him raised from the dead.”
          The Germans who went to the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1943 said they SAW that the German race was superior to the jews and the Slavs. They were willing to die for what they saw. And people don’t die for what they know is a lie.
          Same difference.

        • Albert

          I am not ruling out anything. I’m simply saying that from what we know of what is written, this is not the impression we have of Paul.

          “self deceit” doesn’t seem to fit what he was doing. He went from killing Christian’s to converting to one. What rationalization do you think he might have made to make that change?

          “that Paulus died a natural death” – Suppose he did. That doesn’t change all the things that he wrote about that he experienced, or what others wrote about him.

          You said, “The Germans who went to the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1943 said they SAW that the German race was superior to the jews and the Slavs. They were willing to die for what they saw. And people don’t die for what they know is a lie.Same difference.”

          Well I’m not sure you are using the word SAW correctly in this instance.
          One reason to consider why is because a view that one group of people over another is subjective thought and not empirical; but seeing a person in bodily form in front of you would be empirical. I’m not sure your example works well for this comparison.

        • MNb

          I just would like to know what this means for you, especially compared to

          “People do die for what they believe. But people do not die for what they know is a lie.”

        • Albert

          I’m not sure how to answer you because I’m not sure what you are referring to. Are you talking about Germans that were part of Hitler’s army or something else?

        • The Thinking Commenter

          But, if martyrdom doesn’t sit well with you, that’s fine.

          So you can’t imagine other martyrs for other causes and you can’t imagine what Paul could possibly have to gain by anything. Any other obvious things you can’t imagine? Those hokey books where you got those arguments from deliberately avoid the simplest self critical analysis. They just want to have a bunch of words to type and couldn’t care less.

        • Albert

          I think you are putting words into my mouth. I never said there couldn’t be martyrs for other causes.

          What do you think Paul gained for switching from his Jewish religion over to Christianity?

        • The Thinking Commenter

          Well for one thing he’s the most famous Christian ever! That’s not exactly chopped liver. It’s gotta count for something lol. He wouldn’t be famous if he wasn’t a self-promoter. Obvioulsy he was ambitious if he was both a high ranking Jew and then a high ranking Christian. (Or if he at least makes the claims of being mister high ranking important dude.)

        • Albert

          Right. And this power and prestige goes well with the life he seemed to have lead after converting. Seems to me, when you compare how the Jewish elite lived and the Christian elite lived, he would have been better off being a Jew.

        • The Thinking Commenter

          Okay yeah Jesus is the magic “poof” God of the universe then. 😀 Okay you got me.

        • Kodie

          Power and influence? Getting in on the ground floor of something that’s bound to be huge? Nobody ever sticks to their guns for money and fame, they always give it up and admit they’re lying in front of everyone. Let’s ask Pat Robertson how much torture he’s willing to endure before he gives in and says it’s all about the money.

        • Albert

          You said, “Power and influence? Getting in on the ground floor of something that’s bound to be huge?”

          How did they suppose this would grow as it did? Their leader died on a cross, remember? I guess him coming back to life does make a different in that sense. But if he didn’t, then how would they expect it to grow by such leaps and bounds?

          And it seemed Paul had Power and influence in his current religion before converting.

          You said, “Nobody ever sticks to their guns for money and fame, they always give it up and admit they’re lying in front of everyone.”

          And from all we know about Paul, he endured a lot for holding to this religion, and I’m not seeing anywhere that he recanted or said he was lying even going through all he did.

          You said, “Let’s ask Pat Robertson how much torture he’s willing to endure before he gives in and says it’s all about the money.”

          My bet, probably not a lot. But Pat wasn’t Paul.

        • wtfwjtd

          “You said, “Nobody ever sticks to their guns for money and fame, they always give it up and admit they’re lying in front of everyone.”

          And from all we know about Paul, he endured a lot for holding to this religion, and I’m not seeing anywhere that he recanted or said he was lying even going through all he did.”

          Have you ever heard of sarcasm Albert?

        • Albert

          I have. But when I get almost 21 responses, I’m just trying to answer them as they come.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OMG, Paul changed his religion! Who would do that if that religion weren’t certainly true?

        • Kodie

          People convert out of Christianity all the time, I wonder what their testimony is like.

        • Pofarmer

          You really should read Richard Carriers “Not the impossible Faith.” Yes he’s and Atheist and a mythicist, but he answers your questions in great length and great detail.

        • wtfwjtd

          “What do you think Paul gained for switching from his Jewish religion over to Christianity?”

          Lots of Gentile friends, for starters! And most of them happened to believe like he did, so that must have been some motivation.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s like he’s never heard of someone converting to a new religion before. I’m pretty sure it happens all the time.

        • Albert

          I have heard of people converting before. But not to one that would put them into a position like Paul was in. Most people don’t convert to a religion where they know they are being hunted and stoned to death. Especially since Paul, himself, just finished stoning Stephen not to long before that.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually that’s really not right. People tend to like movements where there is risk, and purpose, and they have to believe something outlandish to belng.

        • Albert

          You mean like atheism? :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you reject stories of Christian martyrs today? These stories of stalwart defenders of Christianity who say what must be said, even at their own peril–this is just poppycock?

        • Albert

          Right, as opposed to the Jewish friends he had, right? Plus, it seemed like he was climbing the Jewish ladder already. this would have given him prestige and power. Plus he wouldn’t be hunted down by the Jews he was hanging with that were killing Christians.

          Seems he had more to lose from converting then he did if he stayed where he was.

        • wtfwjtd

          Read Acts 9 again. Jesus was giving Paul an ultimatum…convert or else. It doesn’t sound like he had much choice to me.

        • Albert

          That very well may be. But then you would have to admit that he saw Jesus there. And I’m sure you are not wanting to do that, are you?

        • Castilliano

          I don’t think anybody minds saying Paul saw Jesus…in a hallucination. Paul only needs to believe he saw Jesus in order to feel coerced by “Jesus”.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh, he saw Jesus all right…who was safe and sound, up in heaven. People see Jesus like this all the time.

        • Albert

          Perhaps; but that isn’t what the text indicates.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re right Albert, I stand corrected. Acts 9:3–“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

          So on this occasion, he didn’t see Jesus at all; he just heard a voice, who he assumed was Jesus.

        • Kodie

          See they were willing to kill for their beliefs. I’m not willing to kill you, Albert, just to prove a point.

        • Albert

          Good to know.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s just a story. We know Paul was a Pharisee because he told us so.

        • Albert

          That’s very good reasoning Bob.

          I guess we can ignore all the other things he said about converting to Christianity, right?

        • Pofarmer

          It’s pretty obvious Paul converted to Christianity. It’s less clear whether any of his backstory is even plausible. Were the Roman O.K. with Vigilantes going around persecuting others of their citizens? I dunno, but I kinda doubt it.

        • The Thinking Commenter

          How the heck is Paul supposed to know all the invisible goings on in the universe anyway? It’s all guessing. So he’s full of baloney anyway since he makes it sound like he’s for certain about everything, even if he did see something. Paul sees vision, then knows all the invisible goings on in the universe. Yeah right.

        • Albert

          You said, “How the heck is Paul supposed to know all the invisible goings on in the universe anyway? It’s all guessing.”

          I’m not sure what you are referring to. Where does Paul imply to know all of this invisible goings on you are talking about?

          You said, “So he’s full of baloney anyway since he makes it sound like he’s for certain about everything, even if he did see something.”

          Or he really did know what he saw.

          You said, “Paul sees vision, then knows all the invisible goings on in the universe. Yeah right.”

          What sort of vision are you suggesting he had considering that there were other men around him who also hear the same voice he did?

    • MNb

      “When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, was it really a legion that crossed?”
      Good question. Nobody has been able to locate the Rubicon thus far, so how the hell does anyone know what he exactly meant?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Are you sure? Wikipedia says that it’s a river in NE Italy.

        • MNb

          I am never sure, because I was typing out of memory without checking first and my memory is like a colander. And sure enough things are different than I remembered.

          http://www.livius.org/ro-rz/rubico/rubico.html

          “the identification of the Rubico is contested.”
          At least I’m not totally wrong.

  • Peter J Shepherd

    Paul said that if Christ had not risen from the dead, our faith is vain, we have been preaching and teaching a lie, and we are of all men, most miserable. Paul was beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead, and ultimately beheaded. Why? Because of preaching the resurrection. Andrew was crucified on an X-Shaped Cross for preaching the resurrection. Thomas, the skeptic, travelled across the Himalayas and was tortured and killed for preaching the resurrection of Christ. Peter, who denied His Lord, embraced the resurrection and was crucified on an X-Shaped Cross. John was boiled in oil. Need I go on?

    If Christ had not raised, these men would have KNOWN that it was a lie, and would hardly have willingly suffered such horrendous persecution for a fraud. Any of these men could have easily stopped the persecution by admitting that it was a lie, but they didn’t. The grave is empty. He is risen indeed.

    • Kodie

      Maybe your faith is in vain? Nobody is asking you to die for it. Jesus died for a lie too. Jesus was deluded and he persuaded a bunch of people to hop on the crazy train to crazy town with him. They were swept up in propaganda just like you are. Were they not convinced over superficial emotional reasoning and faulty logic just like you? They all died in vain, but one thing I know, they stayed dead.

      • Peter J Shepherd

        It’s obvious that you have not even taken 20 hours to examine the evidence, because if you had, you’d come to the same conclusion so many other skeptics have come to… Jesus is Risen, and He is Lord.

        • Kodie

          What evidence.

        • Peter J Shepherd

          Starting with the empty tomb.

        • Kodie

          That’s evidence of what? A ghost story? The hook was on the car door! We don’t have a statue of a clown in our bedroom.

        • Peter J Shepherd

          You obviously are in delusion an denial, and, unlike a good historian, have never taken a good look. To start, watch this video WITH AN OPEN MIND. Look at the historical facts, that are agreed upon by virtually all. http://leestrobel.com/videoserver/video.php?clip=strobelT1184

        • Kodie

          You’re so persuasive. An empty tomb and a hypocrite cashing in on his conversion story. These are such fascinating evidence you have. Of course you are not stupid. If you were wrong, your faith would be in vain, and it’s not in vain because you have durr.

        • Peter J Shepherd

          Yes, Lee Strobel studied law and used the rules of evidence on the resurrection. But, the man in the video IS a historian. If I’m wrong, I have lost nothing. If you’re wrong, you have lost everything. Enough said. Why don’t you take a few hours and read “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” and really do some REAL investigation. I seriously doubted my faith years ago, but looked into it, knowing that all of Christianity hangs on the resurrection. I investigated all the theories for the empty tomb. The only one that made sense to me was the resurrection.

          Do yourself a favor, and, with an open mind, truly investigate the matter. If you don’t, I have lost nothing.

          Check out “Cold Case Christianity” at http://PleaseConvinceMe.com, where an atheist who was also a Cold Case Homicide Detective was challenged to investigate the resurrection using the “rules of evidence.”
          He came to the same conclusion that C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Gene Scott, Lee Strobel, Thomas, and I did. Jesus rose from the dead, and He is Who He said He was. My Lord, and my God.

        • hector_jones

          No he didn’t use the ‘rules of evidence’. The rules of evidence would dismiss the entire bible as hearsay. And apart from the bible there isn’t a single piece of physical evidence for a cold case homicide detective to use. You have been completely bamboozled by nonsense.

        • Paul G

          You are simply wrong.

          “The following are not excluded by the rule against hearsay, regardless of whether the declarant is available as a witness:


          (16) Statements in Ancient Documents. A statement in a document that is at least 20 years old and whose authenticity is established.
          …”

          http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_803

        • hector_jones

          “whose authenticity is established”

          Sorry, but your guy just assumes authenticity. It is far from established.

          Also these are rules of US federal evidence, which wouldn’t apply to the vast majority of murder cases in the US, or anywhere else.

          Note this comment by the committee “In a hearsay situation, the declarant is, of course, a witness, and neither this rule nor Rule 804 dispenses with the requirement of firsthand knowledge.” This means the gospels are entirely inadmissble. Not only are their authors anonymous or pseudonymous, but biblical scholars agree that the gospels cannot constitute ‘firsthand’ knowledge of the information contained within them. Show me one example of a document as ancient and badly sourced as the gospels that made it into evidence in a federal trial because of this rule. Hint: Don’t waste your time since you won’t be able to find one.

          Additionally, notice this point – “age affords assurance that the writing antedates the present controversy.” In other words, the ancient document exception is considered sound because the age of the document means it wasn’t written as phoney evidence in light of the present controversy. The gospels and Paul’s letters completely fail this requirement, because they post-date the controversy, i.e. they were all written after the death of Jesus, i.e. the controversy, by authors who knew that the facts surrounding Jesus’s death and alleged resurrection were the subject of a major controversy.

        • Paul G

          This is not a murder trial. You strictly mentioned “rules of evidence” and I demonstrated you were wrong.

          Actually there are a number of Biblical scholars who argue that the gospels clearly are firsthand. They get so much right from geography to first name usage.

          “Badly sourced” you should probably clarify what you mean by that. Your undocumented pejorative remarks may demonstrate your prejudice but they do not help discussion. There is no ancient document that is better sourced.

        • hector_jones

          Peter Shepherd mentioned ‘rules of evidence’ and a ‘cold case homicide detective’. That’s what I was originally responding to. Please try to keep up.

          A gospel author gets some fact of geography right and that proves what? That he was a first hand witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus? Are you high? The only scholars who claim the gospels are first hand accounts are christian apologists. But I don’t just dismiss them out of hand. I have read the gospels and plenty of literature about them, and the claim that they are first hand accounts cannot be maintained on the evidence.

          Badly sourced, i.e. written by anonymous/pseudonymous authors decades after the fact with no mention of their own sources. There are plenty of ancient documents that are better sourced. It’s not my fault that you aren’t aware of any. That’s just your own prejudice at work, which alas isn’t helpful to this discussion.

          I wasn’t referring to the manuscript tradition when I said ‘badly sourced’. But now that you mention it, demonstrate that the ancient document hearsay exception can apply not just to an original ‘authentic’ document, but to a copy of a copy of a copy of a document that no longer exists and whose authenticity cannot therefore be established.

          What about my other points?

        • Paul G

          Some of the facts the gospel author’s get right show a decades later theory of authorship is highly unlikely. Can you cite some ancient documents that are better sourced?

          Authenticity can be established to a high degree but you would have to start analyzing lines of transmission and how they corroborate one another which is probably beyond this discussion.

        • hector_jones

          Can you cite some ancient documents that are better sourced?

          You mean some ancient documents that aren’t anonymous and that cite their sources or that are demonstrably first hand accounts? You can’t think of a single one on your own?

        • Paul G

          Should I take that as a “no”?

        • hector_jones

          It’s just my way of expressing astonishment at your complete lack of knowledge about any ancient document that isn’t the bible. Your point is so obviously false to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the ancient world that I couldn’t be bothered to address it further.

        • Paul G

          So enlighten me. I would like to examine the comparison you are making.

          I understood your sarcasm perfectly.

        • wtfwjtd

          Take a closer look at the gospel stories yourself Paul, if you have the courage to do so honestly. There are striking parallels between Mark and Homer’s Odyssey, for starters. Much of what Jesus says and does is taken straight from this ancient narrative; Mark also puts a generous portion of Old Testament sayings and stories into Jesus’ mouth and life, very clearly. There are plenty of good works out there on this subject, from author Ian McDonald to Robert Price to Bart Ehrmann, to name a few.

          I don’t need to bother addressing Matthew or Luke, as they just took Mark’s narrative and “improved” it with their own made-up bits and corrections of Mark’s errors. If you want to really get to the bottom of gospel origins honestly, your first focus has to be Mark.

        • Paul G

          Do you mean Dennis MacDonald? I am not sure you can take Price seriously. Certainly given that you say you try to track scholarly consensus that rules out those two. Ehrman I am familiar with and he is unconvincing.

          It is a theory that Matthew and Luke copied Mark although it can neither be proven or disproven. They could have all copied another source Q, or they could have based their accounts on oral traditions.

        • wtfwjtd

          “It is a theory that Matthew and Luke copied Mark although it can neither be proven or disproven.”

          You’re joking, right? When something is copied word-for-word, we call that plagiarism, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if they copied from Mark’s work or the source of his work, they still obviously copied it.
          And here’s where that guy above that mentioned “Cold Case Christianity” really went off the rails, by claiming the gospels look just like eye witness accounts that would stand up in court. Seriously? They are anonymous (1) plagiarized(2) biased(3), and contain inaccuracies and errors (4). Disqualified on at least 4 counts from being evidence, much less eyewitness accounts, and I haven’t even gotten started yet. In any reasonable court of law these would be thrown out immediately.
          I’m sure the guy that wrote that book is a nice man, and probably even a very good (present day) detective, but it’s quite obvious that when it comes to his religious faith he starts off with a conclusion, fits in a few bits of evidence that supports his conclusion, and discards any evidence that disproves it.

        • MNb

          Plagiarism is an anachronism – it doesn’t apply to the First Century. Your argument means the Gospels aren’t independent testimonies and thus count as one witness. Every single lawyer would point this out in court.

        • wtfwjtd

          Very true MNb, my point was that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and so aren’t independent. As for Mark, even if you are generous and say he didn’t copy (too much) from other works, he’s still disqualified as a witness on multiple grounds.

        • MNb

          Well, it’s here that scientists (and I do maintain that historical research is a branch of science) has a bit more room than lawyers. As long as you can formulate a consistent and coherent theory that explain all the relevant data scientists are satisfied.

        • MNb

          Text analysis is a serious and well respected branch of science.

          http://www.livius.org/theory/textual-criticism/

        • Paul G

          Yawn. Because a discipline makes use of tools from science does not make it a branch of science.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Thanks for confirming my antitheist bias: you too only accept science when it suits you.

        • Paul G

          Dude. You need some serious help.

          Science is great, but it is by definition limited.

        • MNb

          Yup. Unfortunately it is also the only thing we have. Thanks for admitting that your claims are founded on faith and nothing else.

        • Kodie

          If the supernatural exists in the way that you assume it does, it has to have some detectable effect on the natural material world that science explores. There may be things we can’t explain yet, but you are asserting that miracles, the opposite of physically possible, happen. If a scientist could go back in time and witness what really happened, you still wouldn’t believe them unless they reported what you want to hear. You would find fault with any investigation. There are things science can’t do, but if a scientist did witness a supernatural resurrection, it would have to be detected and then able to be investigated, and be found to have a natural cause. It’s fairly convenient for you that nobody can travel back in time and rub your nose in your wrongness.

          What we are able to do is analyze stories and find common themes about the claims of founders of religions. What we are able to do is draw a realistic plausible picture. You have your conclusion drawn and it involves ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts now? Do you believe god enacts miracles now? Aren’t these able to be investigated by scientists, if they are acting on the natural world?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Whatever–Luke copied someone. That’s the point.

          We’re a lo-o-o-ong way from Jimmy Olsen with a “Press” card stuck in his fedora writing a first-hand account and dashing back to the Daily Planet to publish his scoop.

          Even if we did have a claimed first-hand account of a first-century miracle written hours after the event, would that be believable?

        • hector_jones

          Who did Luke copy? Obi-wan-kenobi.

        • Pofarmer

          Remsberg’s “The Christ” is good, and free. Randal Helms “Gospel Fictions” is excellent.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A fascinating (if long) article on this is “Ancient Historical Writing Compared to the Gospels of the New Testament.” It documents how very much not like ancient historical writings the gospels are.

          The author gives a number of examples of ancient historians giving their sources, evaluating those sources’ reliability, and so on.

          Contrast that with the gospels …

        • hector_jones

          I think a big problem with apologists like Paul is that they have no real knowledge of any ancient work aside from the bible. (They are of course heavily misled by professional apologists like the execrable WLC). So they think they are on solid ground when they insist that the Gospels are ‘first hand’ accounts, or the products of good historians.. But even by ancient standards the gospels are fables.

        • Paul G

          Thanks for that. I shall read that this evening. Of course one question pops up in my head what sources would primary sources cite? Wouldn’t they then cease to be primary sources?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He talks about that. In one example, a historian is writing about a battle that he took part in. That’s one source, but he also consults others.

          Historians are only rarely primary sources, I think.

        • Pofarmer

          “Some of the facts the gospel author’s get right show a decades later theory of authorship is highly unlikely.”

          Are you actually arguing that people can’t know things that happened in the past?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Actually there are a number of Biblical scholars who argue that the gospels clearly are firsthand.”

          The only scholars that argue this are apologists with an agenda. The overwhelming consensus of scholarship is that the gospels are anonymous works, written decades after the events they purport.

          “They get so much right from geography to first name usage.”

          This claim is laughable, but since so many people seem to take it seriously I won’t. From Mark’s obvious unfamiliarity with Palestinian geography, to Matthew’s blundering through his misinterpretation of the Septuagint, the gospels are riddled with errors and problems of discontinuity that show whoever wrote them were writing stories about other people, from a rather distant location, long after the supposed events occurred.

          As for the sourcing, Matthew and Luke copy Mark verbatim for much of their material, and just embellish the narrative with their own bits to “improve” the story and correct some of Mark’s errors. John also relies on Mark somewhat, but adds his own Gnostic spin on things, and writes from a third person point of view, so that the reader “may believe”. Hardly an unbiased or first hand account, and written much later than the other gospels to boot.

          “There is no ancient document that is better sourced.”

          Yes and no, depending on your point of view. Mark uses Homer’s Odyssey as a template, and virtually everything that Jesus says or does is taken from this and other common literature of the day, as well as Old Testament bits being woven in. A historical account based on this? Hardly; just an entertaining story based on well-known literature of the day.

        • Paul G

          So when scholars say something that you disagree with they are apologists. Lol.

          “Laughable”. Perhaps you could be gracious enough to ask for an example rather simply ridiculing me. One example is the existence of the Pool of Siloam. If your theory was true then the author of John would not have known of it. See WM Ramsey’s assessment of Luke as a historian.

        • hector_jones

          I have to laugh at how you turned on a dime from referring to a gospel writer as a ‘first hand witness’ to calling him an ‘historian’. Then you site a modern scholar’s assessment of Luke as an ‘historian’ and think this proves your earlier claim that the gospel writers are ‘first hand witnesses’? Such dishonesty.

          The Pool of Siloam? You’re going to have to do better than just mentioning it to prove that ‘the author of John’ (thank you for conceding that we don’t really know who wrote John) couldn’t possibly have known about it unless he was a first hand witness to the life of Jesus.

        • Paul G

          “Pool of Siloam” sorry I assumed you would be familiar with this one. It used to be one of the reasons that skeptic dismissed the gospels as historical until of course they found it. Also the author would have to have known something of Jerusalem before it’s destruction in AD70.

          The use of the word “historian” is in reference to WM Ramsey who placed Luke “among the historians of the first rank”. I am not suggesting that proves my contention but offering up lines of investigation to substantiate my claim. Internet forums are not really a place where you can prove much of anything.

        • hector_jones

          So what you are saying is no one knew for a time where this Pool was, so skeptics said this disproved John, but now that the pool has been found (or at least a reconstruction of the pool) this proves the entire truth of the Gospel of John? All because he couldn’t possibly have known about the pool after it was destroyed in 70AD? That’s like arguing that now that the Twin Towers have been destroyed, no one born after 9/11 could possibly know what they were.

          I don’t really care what WM Ramsey says about Luke as an ‘historian’ since my and wtfwjd’s point of disagreement with you is whether he was a ‘first hand witness’ not on whether he can be called an ‘historian’.

        • Paul G

          A small pool in a city is hardly comparable to the Twin Towers.You would do better to make apples to apples comparisons.

          I didn’t claim that he was a firsthand witness to the events in the gospels (book of Acts he was). But it is easier to believe he had access to firsthand witnesses than to postulate his gospel was written decades after the events.

        • hector_jones

          A small pool in a city? No, It was a small pool that was given an actual name, located in the holiest of places to the Jewish people, and referred to more than once in the Old Testament. Furthermore, it wasn’t destroyed until 70AD, decades after the crucifixion, and it is pure conjecture on your part to assume that following its destruction no one would have remembered anything about it. My analogy with the Twin Towers is apt.

          You are not doing a very good job of proving that the pool couldn’t possibly be known to a gospel writer unless he was also an eyewitness to the life of Jesus. And now you suddenly say you didn’t claim that he was a firsthand witness to the events of the gospel anyway, even though that was entirely the point you needed to make to squeeze the gospels in under the ancient documents hearsay exception, which was your whole argument in the first place. I see little point in continuing this line of discussion given your goal-post-shifting style of argumentation.

        • Paul G

          Sorry let me explain. I have no evidence that Luke was an eyewitness. But he had access to eyewitnesses and so had firsthand knowledge.

        • hector_jones

          That’s not what ‘firsthand knowledge’ means. First hand knowledge means you are an eyewitness so some event or events, not that you have access to someone who was an eyewitness. That would be second hand knowledge.

          You really should have taken a moment to figure that out before insisting that the gospels are admissible in a modern court room under the ancient documents exception to the rule against hearsay.

        • Paul G

          I had assumed you had gone. Almost no history is written by the actual eyewitnesses. As history they are primary sources and not secondary sources. Almost no ancient document is firsthand by your definition. So a property title deed would be inadmissible because it was typed up by a clerk in city hall, and not by someone involved in the transaction?

        • hector_jones

          A work of history almost certainly would never be admitted under the ancient document exception. What we call ‘a work of history’ is generally speaking a ‘secondary’ source. We do call ancient works of history ‘primary’ sources only because today they are our primary sources, the primary sources of the ancient historians themselves having mostly been lost. But they are not primary sources as the law would see it. It’s important to understand this distinction.

          A property title deed is admissible under specific exceptions to hearsay rules that apply to property title deeds. So that’s the short answer.

          But let’s assume for the sake of argument that that’s not the case. Deeds could be admissible as ancient documents, but a number of factors would have to be established to authenticate the document, for example the signatures of the parties to the transaction, comparison with other property deeds of that time period to establish that laws or customs of the time were followed, the document’s provenance, i.e. a chain of custody – where has this document been all these years? maybe even the evidence of experts regarding the ink and paper, if necessary, that kind of thing. Who typed it up is pretty much irrelevant, although in the case of a manuscript deed, the handwriting might be useful evidence of authenticity. So there’s a lot that would be needed to prove authenticity.

          In practice though, the law has other rules for dealing with problems arising from ancient property deeds not worth getting into right now.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sure, this all makes sense. But one wonders what grounding you claim to offer for the biggest claim possible.

          “Well, most historical accounts aren’t first hand.” I agree, but your evidence is no better than that for any supernatural story from the past.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Well, yeah. Luke says that he consulted eyewitnesses. That’s good enough for me.

          Of course, all that copying from Mark is a little odd. And all that stuff that Luke and Matthew share in common (either Q or Luke copied from Matthew).

          But aside from that, I’m on board!

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, you don’t have evidence of that, either.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why is Luke so fabulous a historian? Because he tracks Josephus so well.

          (Hmm … maybe he copied from Josephus?)

        • Paul G

          Actually Josephus copied Luke.

        • hector_jones

          LOL

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve heard the reverse, but if we’re entertaining the possibility of copying in either direction, that explains the close comparison.

          Wasn’t this what Ramsey was referring to? If so, what makes Luke so great a historian?

        • Pofarmer

          Josephus, in two volumes covering thousands of pages, copied Lukes book consisting of a few dozen pages and obviously plagiarizing phrases that it is widely agreed Josephus invented? Plus, Luke gets the historical facts of the Josephus encounters wrong? How would Josephus have copied Lukes incorrect account but got it more correct? Geemonelly this is stupid.

        • wtfwjtd

          I do try and follow scholarly consensus. But of course, since most biblical scholars are Christians I’d say right off that we’re already dealing with a rather biased group, wouldn’t you agree? Nonetheless, groups of scholars, such as the Jesus Seminar, have concluded that the gospels contain at most around 18 per cent actual history, with the rest being material taken from the literature of the time. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the idea of an eyewitness account, and this from a group of men who mostly claim to be Christians. On top of the fact that Matthew copies 90 per cent of Mark verbatim, and Luke about 50 per cent. Throw in anonymous authorship, written decades after the fact, with the sole purpose of being written “so that you may believe”, as both Luke and John remind us over and over, and the gospels look a lot more like creative fiction than actual history, let alone the extraordinary claim of being eyewitness accounts.
          As a side note, good fiction weaves bits of verifiable places and details into its pages. Just because a story takes place in a verifiable place doesn’t make the story true. Ever read Paul Bunyan? How much actual history do you think it contains?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I do try and follow scholarly consensus. But of course, since most biblical scholars are Christians I’d say right off that we’re already dealing with a rather biased group, wouldn’t you agree?

          There is no consensus of theologians. That’s why the qualify it “New Testament scholars,” for example.

          Muslim theologians spend years in study, just like Christian ones. Muslim theologians have no problem with the supernatural, and they accept Jesus. But what fraction will reject the claim that Jesus rose from the dead? Pretty much 100%.

        • MNb

          “we’re already dealing with a rather biased group, wouldn’t you agree”
          You realize that this argument also applies to Jesusmythologists, don’t you?
          Like BobS wrote above the geographical errors make clear that none of the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses. Plus as it’s Antiquity we are dealing with we can be 100% that they contain a lot of fiction. Finally they have an agenda and we totally know which one.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That gospel authors get the geography and history of the times accurate is the least we demand. That gets them to the starting line; it’s hardly evidence that the story overall (including the supernatural elements) is accurate.

        • Paul G

          How would you expect one to prove the supernatural elements? There are only ever going to be a limited number of elements of any account that you can test.

        • MNb

          “How would you expect one to prove the supernatural elements?”
          Excellent question. This means you can’t use the scientific method to prove the Resurrection. History being a branch of science you trying to argue scientifically (by using methodology of historical research) are a walking contradiction.
          Now we have established this the question becomes: what’s your methodolgy of researching the Resurrection and how do you know it provides positive results? Because as far as I can see your methodology is founded on faith and that is notoriously unreliable when trying to figure out facts.
          In short: you should answer that question yourself.

        • Paul G

          History is not a branch of science. You can prove very little historically scientifically.

        • MNb

          We Europeans think it is and in fact I can give you several successful examples of historians cooperating with physicists. But never mind.
          The way you do historical research is not scientific, you just admitted. Well, that’s our point. Come back as soon as you are ready to use the scientific method.

          http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/04/the_slog_throug.html

          Not using the scientific method still means your claims are founded on faith and the lack thereof is exactly what defines atheism. It only becomes more urgent to answer my question:

          “what’s your methodolgy of researching the Resurrection and how do you know it provides positive results?”
          I’m waiting.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          History is not the Christian’s friend. History scrubs the supernatural out of history.

          Yes, Suetonius wrote that a spirit urged Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon. But it didn’t actually happen.

          The Bible isn’t cataloged in the History section in the library. Good thing for you–the Bible would be treated by History like a paper shredder.

        • Paul G

          Assertions do not constitute evidence. Modern historiography may attempt to scrub out the supernatural but that does not make it right.

        • MNb

          Applies to islam, hinduism, buddhism, confucianism, the Olympic gods, pastafarianism and the Azteque religion as well. I’d still like to know what criteria you use to reject their supernatural claims but accept the christian ones.
          Besides personal taste of course.

        • Paul G

          I do not rule out any supernatural claims.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How do you evaluate them?

          Or do you evaluate them? Maybe you’re just content with your Christian worldview and haven’t investigated what the Muslims, Hindus, or Shintoists say.

        • MNb

          You accept them all? I’m pretty sure one of the Ten Commandments has something to say about it.
          But OK, basically you say you don’t have a methodology. The advantage is that you never can be wrong. The disadvantage is that you never will be right. So we here can safely reject anything you postulate about the Resurrection.
          Thanks.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Agree with me then: history is no friend of the Christian. Demanding that the skeptic follow historical methods will not lead him to the Christian worldview since history has no place for the supernatural.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and history has no place for the supernatural because there is no compelling evidence for it, plain and simple.

        • Paul G

          Absolutely not. Skeptical historiography maybe but then why would you want to presuppose out a possibility rather than study the facts. The true study of historical events will always be a friend to Christianity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m obviously confused by your position now. (1) You agree that historians scrub out the supernatural, but you’re not necessarily on board with that philosophy. (2) You say that if a skeptic like me applies rigorous historical principles to the ancient claims (say, those of Christianity and those of Islam), I’ll find that only the Christian ones stand in the end.

          Or maybe I’ve misunderstood.

        • Paul G

          Are you inhaling questionable substances? Where did I mention Islam?

        • wtfwjtd

          Paul G: “I do not rule out any supernatural claims.”

          But you just said above that you consider the supernatural claims of Islam, and every other religion, to be as valid as those of Christianity, right? And if not, on what basis do you dismiss the supernatural claims of other religions and only accept the supernatural claims of Christianity?

        • MNb

          Ah, the no true study of historical events fallacy.

          “rather than study the facts.”
          But underneath you wrote

          “I do not rule out any supernatural claims.”
          ie no methodology, no criteria (I asked you to provide them). Without methodology, without criteria it is impossible to study anything. You admit here that “study” means for you “make up stuff I like”.

        • wtfwjtd

          For one thing, Christianity makes the bold claim that the supernatural elements are a sign of the true believer, and are therefore easily duplicated–Mark 16:17 tells us that “these signs will accompany those who believe: …when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all…”
          Christianity falsifies it own claims of the supernatural, since it cannot duplicate it on demand as it promises to. And since Christianity is based on the supernatural, a reasonable person concludes that it is false on these grounds alone.

        • Paul G

          Actually no it does not make that claim. The passage that you cite from Mark is probably not original. You are also confusing the supernatural with the natural. God may chose not to reproduce the miracle you expect.

        • wtfwjtd

          So now you are picking and choosing the parts of the Bible to accept and reject? What criteria do you use for this?

        • MNb

          Every single christian I have ever met, whether the seasoned scholar or the simple believer in daily life, does so. No theologian ever has been able to formulate such criteria as far as I know.
          I would gladly to be shown mistaken.

        • Paul G

          You like Ehrman so you should be fully aware of this and the answer to this last question.

        • MNb

          And that’s where all apologists end: evading the hard questions. We are not interested in Ehrman’s criteria; we are interested in yours. Moreover I haven’t read Ehrman and don’t plan to. So could you be so kind to give your criteria, explain your methodology and show how it provides positive results?

        • wtfwjtd

          Paul G: “Ehrman I am familiar with and he is unconvincing.”

          Ah yes, except when he *is* convincing, based entirely on your personal taste, I suppose. I’m not sure you really want to go there, but whatever.

          All right, I’ll play along, I’ll agree with you and say that scholars reject the long ending of Mark as spurious and not original. What are we left with? Mark 16:8–“Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

          So suddenly your “eye witness” has just told us in third person narrative style that the women at the tomb never saw Jesus, and they never told anyone even about the “young man” they had seen at the tomb. So how are we to even know about this? The story seems to end right there, with no Jesus in sight.

          Since Matthew and Luke can be eliminated as witnesses because they simply copied from Mark, suddenly your resurrection story is looking mighty shaky. We are now left to depend solely on John, and by itself his narrative is on similarly shaky ground.
          Even accepting the gospels at face value, they just don’t hold up under any kind of scrutiny.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s a good question. What would it take for you to accept the supernatural claims from another religion?

          For example, do you know of Sathya Sai Baba? He died a few years ago with millions of followers. He could make stuff appear out of thin air, he could be in two places at once, and he could raise the dead. That story is far more compelling than the Jesus story, and yet I’m guessing you reject it.

        • wtfwjtd

          More to the point, hundreds if not *thousands* of people would swear to be eyewitnesses to these miraculous events. Why should we reject the testimonies of these witnesses and accept those piddling few that we have of the gospel stories?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And these are people you could interview today, in a language spoken today. Contrast that with stories written decades after the fact within a different culture than the original events.

        • Paul G

          Actually I have no opinion. I have no difficulty with supernatural things happening. SSB makes no claims on me so I do not really have an interest.

        • MNb

          “I have no difficulty with supernatural things happening.”
          Then the next question is David Hume’s. How do you decide which supernatural claims to accept and which ones to reject?

          “I do not really have an interest”
          Sounds like personaly taste. Sorry, you won’t convince me that whiskey is delicious either.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          SSB’s story spanks the gospel story. Are you saying that all roads lead to God? If not, then I wonder how you can accept the less-well-evidenced story.

        • Jim Jones

          There are railway lines connecting London, England to Scotland. I still don’t expect to visit Hogwarts any time soon.

        • wtfwjtd

          And after you get to London, you still have to find platform 9 1/2, which a bugger even for our intrepid heros of the story sometimes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          9 3/4

        • wtfwjtd

          Of course! (Oops)

        • Jim Jones

          Every piece of evidence confirms that gospel Jesus never existed.

          The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

          Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.

          Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

          Philo of Alexandria was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

          He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place — when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

          From “The Christ” — John E. Remsberg

          BTW, there’s also nothing about Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls — and there could have been.

        • Pofarmer

          Love Remsberg.

        • Pofarmer

          Which Biblical scholars?

        • Discordia

          They get so much right from geography to first name usage.

          Yeah, writers of historical fiction get their names and landmarks and geography right as well but that doesn’t mean their stories are true.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, but The Wizard of Oz gets Kansas right. You don’t mean … ?

        • kso721

          using one source to prove the one source…. I see. hmmm not suspect at all.

        • wtfwjtd

          “If I’m wrong, I have lost nothing. If you’re wrong, you have lost everything.”

          Pascal’s wager applies equally to both of us. What if we both get to the end of our lives, and discover that of all people the Scientologists had it right all along? Or Mohammed? Or maybe one of the 40,000+ other Christian movements had it right and we just didn’t have quite the right doctrinal spin? It’ll suck to be us, eh? There’s as much evidence that says they are right as says you are right–which is none, so I guess we’re both kinda in the same boat here. The only real difference between you and me is, I’ve taken my atheism one god further. Cheer up though, you’re almost there.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (My bit on Pascal was redundant above. Nice response.)

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks to you for helping me formulate it!

        • Peter J Shepherd

          I present this for your consideration:

          “I lost my faith, in college. I lost it because of a subtle psychological pressure. It was all right to believe in Jesus as a “good and wise” teacher, and elevate Him on an equal plane with Mohammed, who founded the Islamic faith, with Gautama Buddha, who was a prince of India and founded Buddhism, with Confucius of China (more of a political philosopher, really) whose sayings affect so much of that portion of the world – in short, with any respectable founder of a religion.”

          “I could put Jesus in that category, dispense with Him as a “good and wise teacher,” be accepted and get my intellectual wings. But to hold to the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and thus super-natural was simply not acceptable. ”
          http://www.christiansanity.org/index.htm

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Are you looking for a reaction?

          From this snippet, I don’t have much sympathy for the Christian view. So college can be hard on one’s faith. OK. If free speech rights are threatened or someone is indoctrinated or threatened at a state-supported school, I would argue against that.

          On the other hand, apparently that’s what you pay for at a Christian college, so I guess it’s OK there.

        • wtfwjtd

          “I could put Jesus in that category, dispense with Him as a “good and wise teacher,”

          Are you kidding me? Have you actually read the gospels? Jesus: “don’t think I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword”; “he who does not hate his father and mother and sister and brother, …is not worthy of me”; “take no thought for tomorrow, what you will eat or drink, or wear…”
          Good and wise? That’s some of the most awful, unethical, downright stupid “advice” I’ve ever heard. and I’m just getting started…maybe you need to reconsider your definition of what is “good and wise”, because they sure don’t match up to the way most people would define them.

        • Peter J Shepherd

          Apparently none of you have gone to the link. You would have read how he got his faith back, and developed one of the most powerful arguments for the Resurrection I have ever seen. Here’s the video to the same basic message.

          https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=63A28BAD99D7E2C2!22581&authkey=!APLZS9ej_d91Pyw&ithint=video%2c.wmv

        • wtfwjtd

          Actually Peter, I did go to that link, and didn’t really see anything convincing. Going through his “facts” argument point by point:
          1)Jesus lived– Yes, he did;
          2)He was crucified–Yes, he was;
          3) He died–absolutely; in fact, I’ll go one better–he died and stayed dead;
          4)He was buried in a known, accessible tomb–Okay, now we are heading off into story book land. Only the gospel stories tell us this. Victims of crucifixion were almost never buried, and we’ve no compelling reason or evidence to believe Jesus buried in a tomb was either. The victim’s body was left on the cross to rot–the whole point of crucifixion was deterrence.
          5)He was preached raised–this must be a fine theological point, and has no bearing on the outcome, as even the gospel stories don’t talk of any “preaching” at this point in the story.
          6)The Jewish leaders wanted to disprove the resurrection–Why? Jesus was dead–and he stayed that way. Only wild conspiracy theorists imagine the crazy body-snatching tales of the gospel writer Matthew’s fevered imagination. Once again, zero evidence for this claim.
          7)The disciples were persecuted–That’s what the bible stories say–and no one else. Besides, the tired old “who would die for a lie?” has been debunked over and over.
          8)The tomb was empty–What tomb? Believers just don’t think this through. If this would have been an actual event, the actual tomb location would have been a huge deal, as it’s the central piece of physical evidence to the story. Instead, the “empty tomb” only exists in believer’s imagination, and the absence of this critical piece of evidence alone renders the resurrection claim false.
          As I said, I am not impressed at all by this.

        • Pofarmer

          Hold on, you didn’t immediately reconvert? I was almost scared to watch such a powerful message. Ever notice how all of these have an emotional core message?

        • wtfwjtd

          Lol! Yes, it’s all an obvious appeal to emotion, not rationality. That’s the crux of the argument, and it’s not convincing to any but the already convinced believer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Uh, yeah. I’m going to watch an hour-long video?

          Sorry. If there is a compelling argument, however, I’ll read a short summary.

        • Kodie

          Losing your religion because of peer pressure is a stupid and weak reason, but if it works, hey. Someone feels bad because his faith is considered stupid at the collegiate level? Well, that’s probably because it is. You want to use reasoning that does not interact with the real world, you don’t belong in it, so go home and don’t try to learn what you don’t want to know.

        • hector_jones

          I lost my faith, in college. I lost it because of a subtle psychological pressure.

          Obviously this guy wasn’t a very good christian. Christians are supposed to welcome these tests of their faith. What a great opportunity to stand up and proclaim one’s faith before the non-believers, and to witness on behalf of Christ!

          Instead, this guy buckled at the first application of ‘subtle’ psychological pressure. It’s sad to see just how weak his faith really was, isn’t it?

        • Kodie

          You open your mind too much, your brains fall out.

          If I’m wrong, I have lost nothing. If you’re wrong, you have lost everything.

          Earlier, you said

          Paul said that if Christ had not risen from the dead, our faith is vain,
          we have been preaching and teaching a lie, and we are of all men, most
          miserable.

          Which is it?

        • MNb

          You’re sharp; I had missed this.

        • Greg G.

          Brilliant! The passage from 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 is an excellent response to Pascal’s Wager, especially:

          1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV)
          If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Pascal’s Wager isn’t convincing. (Have you considered all the religions you are on the wrong side of? I fear for your Buddhist soul, my friend. And for your Muslim soul. And …)

          What would it take for you to change your mind on the truth of the resurrection story?

          I’m well aware of J. Warner Wallace’s story. I listen to his podcast, and I’ve written a few posts here rebutting his stuff. Look it up.

        • Pofarmer

          Try “excavating the empty tomb” by TruthSurge on youtube.

        • Pofarmer

          Cold Case Christianity is simply a horrible book. If you think it is authoritative, you don’t know anything about biblical scholarship, at all.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I haven’t read it, but my guess from the podcast and blog is that it’ll be pretty simple. That’s certainly true for Lee Strobel.

          (Which raises the question: are there challenging and thought-provoking apologetic arguments that aren’t simply smoke screens?)

        • Pofarmer

          I read enough of it when it was brought up on another thread to know that the authors “scholarship” is laughable. Things like calling the Gospels eyewitness accounts, and it goes downhill from there. I’ve been engaging wita Catholic apologist who is using Aquinas philosophy of intelligibility. It might have been a convincing argument 800 years ago. It’s a good demonstration that while philosophy may not be useless, you can “prove” anything you like if you set your priors correctly.

        • MNb

          “unlike a good historian,”
          Ah – the no good historian fallacy. Since when is Lee Strobel a historian btw? According to Wikipedia he studied law.

          Another question: apparently you have an open mind. So what kind of evidence would you accept that shows, how did you put it above, “Jesus is Risen, and He is Lord” is wrong? Nothing? Then you have closed your mind for this option.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Peter, I think most of us are beyond the Lee Strobel level.

        • MNb

          Which empty tomb? The one mentioned in the NT?
          Testis Unus Testis Nullus. There is no evidence of an empty tomb.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it interesting that there is no evidence of an empty tomb until Constantine declared one?

        • Shirley Fuller

          fine lets start there…………where is it????

        • mausium

          “skeptics”

          I don’t think you understand that word. Belief is fine and understandable, but it is in the absence of tangible “evidence”.

        • Shirley Fuller

          20 hours……….it wont take 20 seconds outside your fairytale book there is no evidence…………pleased point me to the contemporary evidence for zombies coming out of their graves and walking into town…………hmmmmmmmmmmm….everybody else at the time seemed to be oblivious to it…

    • MNb

      I never had faith and certainly am not miserable. Paulus is a judgmental jerk and as such contradicting his own hero – Matth 7:1.

      “would hardly have willingly suffered”
      German soldiers, especially those from the Waffen-SS, were totally willing to suffer at the Eastern Front. According to your logic they wouldn’t have wanted it if nazi-ideology were a lie.

      “Any of these men could have easily stopped the persecution by admitting that it was a lie.”
      Charlemagne in the Saxon Wars killed off many pagans. These pagan Saxons easily could have avoided death by converting.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitulatio_de_partibus_Saxoniae
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_court_of_Verden

      Saxon paganry according to you is the true religion. You should reconvert if you believe yourself what you write. Because we have actual accounts that those Saxons were ready to die for their religion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Paul was beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead, and ultimately beheaded.

      What’s the evidence? And what crime was he executed for? Show me that recanting Christian belief would’ve gotten him let off.

      Andrew was crucified on an X-Shaped Cross for preaching the resurrection. Thomas, the skeptic, travelled across the Himalayas and was tortured and killed for preaching the resurrection of Christ. Peter, who denied His Lord, embraced the resurrection and was crucified on an X-Shaped Cross. John was boiled in oil. Need I go on?

      No, you need to show why these traditional beliefs are actually history. Look up “who would die for a lie?” on this blog for my research on this.

    • Pupienus

      The grave is empty because there never was a Jesus to put in it.

    • decathelite

      “If Christ had not raised, these men could be deluded into thinking that he was, in the exact same way Hindus are deluded about the miracles of their gurus, or Muslims are deluded about the miracles of Mohammed, and would willingly suffer such horrendous persecution for a fraud that they were ignorant about.”

      Fixed That For You

    • Greg G.

      First of all, the stories about the martyrs appear to be made up. Second, every deed attributed to Jesus in Mark can be shown to have happened to somebody else in the literature of the day, and the other gospels rely on those fictional accounts. The early epistles don’t tell about a first century Jesus. Paul mentions Jesus about once for every three verses but only gives about a dozen facts about him, which can all be found in the Old Testament.

      The earliest Christians believed the Messiah had been crucified at sometime in the distant past. They did not know the gospel Jesus. The later Christians died for the gospel Christianity, they died for a lie but believed it was true.

  • Albert

    “1. What does “appeared” mean? Jesus “appeared” to Paul
    as a vision (Acts 9:3–9), but Paul uses the same verb to refer the
    appearance of Jesus to Peter, James, and the 500 as well as to Paul.
    Could Paul think that the appearance to everyone was as a vision?”

    Firstly, Acts 9:3-9, does not have the word ‘vision’ anywhere in there. You have to reference a different passage to get that word as part of the description. All this passage states it hat there was a “light from heaven” that surrounded Paul.

    To conclude that all Paul thought was this was simply a ‘vision’ then you would have to remove the other references where Paul explains that Jesus rose from the dead.

    1 Corithians 15:11-13, Paul makes the argument that if there was no Resurrection, then even Jesus was not raised from the dead.

    1 Corinthians 15:17 “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

    Acts 13:36-37 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.”

    There is no way that Paul did not consider that Jesus physically rose from the dead. This argument would simply be from cherry picking from one or two verses and not looking at Paul’s over all message he was trying to convey.

    “2. Who are these 500 eyewitnesses? Names and addresses, please? ”

    We don’t know who they were. Paul never mentions them by name.

    “Even if Paul had witnessed Jesus in front of the 500 (he hadn’t),
    it’s possible he wouldn’t have known a single person in that crowd.”

    That is true that it could be possible that Paul could not have known anyone in the crowd. My answer would be, “And?”

    The point is not that Paul knew 500 people that saw Jesus risen from the grave, but that 500 people at once, saw Jesus risen from the dead.

    **Side note: Adding the (he hadn’t) in your sentence is a claim and would require you to provide evidence that he did not see 500 people witness Jesus risen from the grave.

    “And even if Paul thought the number were accurate, “500 eyewitnesses” might be all he had heard, and he wouldn’t have been able to back it up with any evidence.”

    This is nothing but conjecture.

    We have no recorded accounts of people questioning Paul and this claim of his. We have no recorded accounts of Paul providing evidence to back up this claim. All we have is the assertion.We have other accounts where groups of 4000 and 5000 gathers in one place to listen to Jesus preach. If 5000 people could gather to listen to Jesus at one time, it seems rather reasonable that 500 people could do the same.

    “3. How many will still be around? Paul wrote this epistle in about 55CE about a supposed event that occurred over 20 years earlier. Of the 500 eyewitnesses, how many are still alive and still in Jerusalem, ready to be questioned?”

    Simple answer: When Paul wrote this, we don’t know. Today, none of them.

    “4. Who could make this trip? Jerusalem is 800 miles away, and getting there would involve a long, dangerous, and expensive trip.”

    I’m sort of not sure why this is being asked. I’m thinking a lot of people probably made this trek.

    Is this to suggest that because Paul was mentioning this here in Corinth he could have lied without worry of people traveling back to Jerusalem to confirm what Paul said?

    This is speculative at best.

    “5. How many candidates for this trip? Paul had only started the church in Corinth a couple of years earlier. There would probably have been less than 100 members.* Would even one have the means and motivation to make the big trip to Jerusalem?”

    Can’t answer this. There is no record of who there people were.

    “6. Who would challenge Paul? If the founder of the church says something, who’s likely to question it? There might well have been people who were unimpressed by Paul’s message, but these would never have joined the church. Others within the church might have become disappointed and left. Even if these people had wanted to embarrass Paul, they wouldn’t have been in the church
    community to learn of the claim.”

    This is speculation again. I’m sure there were people in Corinth that didn’t convert to Christianity. Even if I just went by your mentioned that the church would have started off small(like 100 people), it seems that in a city the size of Corinth, there would have been people that didn’t believe Paul. I’m guessing they probably wouldn’t have needed to travel to Jerusalem to decide not to convert through.

    The importance you apply to these 500 witnesses seems extreme to me. IMO.

    “7. What did the eyewitnesses actually see?”

    According to Paul’s account, they saw Jesus.

    “After many adventures, we reach Jerusalem. What will the eyewitnesses say?”

    Maybe they would said, “I saw Jesus risen from the dead.”

    “Had they been close enough to the movement to be certain that they recognized Jesus?”

    Don’t know.

    “Human memory is notoriously inaccurate.”

    It can be, yes. But it is not notoriously always inaccurate. We remember things from our childhood. We remember things that stand out to us as big events in our lives. 9/11 for example. Seeing a man risen from the dead, seems like an event that was probably remembered.

    “There’s a big difference between the certainty one has in a memory and its accuracy—these don’t always go together.”

    That is true.

    “8. So what? Suppose all these unlikely things happen: we make the long trip, we search for eyewitnesses, and we conclude that Paul’s story is nonsense. If we successfully make the long trip back, what difference will this make? Even if we had the guts to tell everyone that Paul’s story was wrong, so what? Who would believe us over the church’s founder? We’d be labeled as bad apples, we’d be expelled from the church, the church would proceed as before, and Paul’s letter would still be copied through the centuries for us to read today!”

    Defeatist mentality on this one. Lots of speculation that has not bases in reality. This seems to be saying that no matter what anyone thought, Paul had enough power to make “his truth” the truth that people were to follow and the Corinthians were helpless to do so.

    The only problem is, it doesn’t fit the account in the Bible. It might fit it in your head, but not the account in the Bible.

    .

    “9. Why is this even compelling evidence? No gospel uses this anecdote as evidence. For whatever reason—that they’d never heard it or that they had and felt that it was uninteresting—the gospels argue that this is unconvincing evidence. Why should we think otherwise?”

    You infer a lot with this comment.

    The gospels don’t argue that this is unconvincing, they don’t mention it at all one way or the other. Silence on a subject does not give acceptance or denial; It’s simply silent.

    There is no assessment that those that wrote the Gospels felt this point of the 500 witnesses was either false or uninteresting enough for them to include it. Mere speculation on your part.

    The fact that you would have thought this was a point that was important enough

    to put into a Gospel you were writing has no actual bearing on a writing that someone else chose to write. The writers of the Gospels decided what they wanted to include and wrote what they wanted.

    On to your conclusion:

    “Let’s consider two possible conclusions about this verse.
    1. The resurrection happened supernaturally as the gospels describe it. (Let’s pretend that the gospels all tell the same story.)
    2. Tales circulated orally in the years after the crucifixion among Jesus’s followers, with the number of eyewitnesses to the risen Christ growing with time.

    Why imagine a supernatural story when a natural story explains the facts?”

    For one, your not presenting a natural story, you are asking questions about the one verse out of the whole Bible. to provide a natural story, you need to explain a lot more than just if Paul really did see 500 people witness Jesus after he rose from the dead.

    I do agree that we should not look for a supernatural reason when a natural one will do the job.
    But I don’t know any natural explanations for a severely beaten and crucified man coming back to life three days later in perfect condition except for scares of the wounds inflicted on him from the nails and the spear through his side. If you know of an explanation for this, I’m more than happy to consider it.
    I don’t know of any natural explanation for an empty tomb that was guarded by a group of Roman soldiers that knew their job and would not have let anyone take the body to the best of their ability.
    I don’t know of a natural explanation for 11 men that were down trodden and hurt that they saw their King die on a cross to all of a sudden be rejoicing and spreading the news that their King was alive. Even defying orders to stop preaching this news from the very same Jews they were originally afraid of.

    I could be wrong about all of this. I am, after all, human and prone to mistakes. But I believe there is enough compelling evidence to show that not only did Paul know that he saw Jesus risen from the dead, but the original disciples saw, long with James and the crowd of 500.

    • wtfwjtd

      “We have no recorded accounts of people questioning Paul and this claim of his. We have no recorded accounts of Paul providing evidence to back up this claim. All we have is the assertion.”

      At last Albert, something we can both agree on. I say it isn’t convincing, you find it totally convincing. Enough said.

      • Pofarmer

        Actually, we kinda do have recorded accounts of people questioning Christianity, if not Paul, but they are only extant as snippets in the copies of Religious tracts “refuting” them.

        • wtfwjtd

          You mean like Selsus? Apparently he had some pretty good refutations, but it got “purged”, unfortunately. At least some of his work survives though.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, Ehrman posted about it on his blog a while back. I don’t believe he was talking about Selsus, but someone else. Ehrman goes pretty in depth into some things on his blog, and I think it makes a good sounding board for him because people can actually ask questions, and he will answer, unlike a lot of other major names. I haven’t been on it too much lately.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s cool for him to do that, I’ll have to check his blog out sometime. He’s got a couple of books that look like a pretty good read too.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s pay per view for the “members only” content. It’s the only thing on the innerwebs that I pay to access.

    • Pupienus

      Or we could apply Occam’s razor and say none of that shit ever happened.

      • Albert

        We know something happened. Even far left skeptic scholars would all agree that Paul experienced something on the Damacus rod and that the apostles believed what they said the saw. So we can’t conclude that this never happened without simply ignoring the facts we do have.

        Occam’s Razor is a kind of general principle that entities ought not be multiplies in explanations, at least none beyond what is necessary for the explanation.

        The supernatural seems to be what everyone denies in these instances because there is this notion that naturalism explains the universe completely, so then God and the supernatural are not necessary.

        The problem is that naturalism can’t account for sightings of a man walking around that used to be dead. There is no way to explain this in natural terms But this is where the supernatural does have explanatory power. And a God, or supernatural power, would explain how a dead man can come back from the grave.

        Occam’s Razor advises us to keep explanations simple. But it also guides us to multiply entities necessary to explain a phenomenon.

        Naturalism is too simple because it fails to explain all that needs explanation. But the supernatural does explain this.

        The simple answer, using Occam’s Razor, would be that Jesus coming back from the dead is a supernatural occurrence.

        • Pofarmer

          We can account for sightings of a man that used to be dead in other ways. The first way is that it was entirely made up. The problem with invoking the supernatural, is that it has never been shown to actually, ya know, exist. And if supernatural events were happening, we could prove them, because there would be, ya know, evidence of them occuring.

          “We know something happened. Even far left skeptic scholars would all agree that Paul experienced something on the Damacus rod and that the apostles believed what they said the saw”

          It’s interesting that Paul only ever mentions two other Apostles. Peter and James, and says that they both got their information about Jesus the same way that he did.

        • Pupienus

          We do not know “something happened”. While even skeptical scholars – who may be of any political stripe – agree that there likely was a Paul who had a vision that’s about all we can say we know. The tavongs of a madman are not evidence of history. The sources are unreliable. We have no eyewitness accounts. We have no original documents. Even those unreliable copies of copies of copies do not claim to have been attestations of eyewitnesses. The idea that hundreds of people saw a dead man walking and NO ONE SAID DICK ABOUT IT is laughable. Invoking the supernatural to explain an urban legend is equally laughable. Trying to justify it via Occam’s razor is pathetic.

        • Kodie

          I see where you are trying to come from here. You are adamant in the belief that a ghost of Jesus walked around and people did see him. The only explanation for that would have to be supernatural, since that would not be a natural event. You are reaching your conclusion by supposing that what’s on the page is what actually happened and you have no room to doubt that it did. You are confounded, because how could that happen otherwise? You say “god did it”. You have no other explanation.

          Nature can explain what’s on the page. The simplest solution is that it didn’t happen.

          Where most of y’all theists make the mistake with Occam’s Razor is that for sure, the easiest conclusion when you don’t know how something happens and you can’t figure it out is to invent another world and a being in that other world, and that other being in that other world controls or effects events in this world. There could be no other explanation for events that don’t make sense in our natural world. Are you freaking kidding me. God has never been the final answer for anything people used to use god to explain. You are bypassing human history of inventing and imagining other worlds and beings who control this world from there. That is the simplest explanation.

        • Pofarmer

          You would think Pontius Pilate would have filed a report, or something.

        • Albert

          Kodie, Not a ghost. That doesn’t fit the text. Paul and the others did not claim they saw a ghost, they claimed they saw Jesus back from the dead.

          You said, “You are reaching your conclusion by supposing that what’s on the page is
          what actually happened and you have no room to doubt that it did.”

          I do have room to doubt it. Offer me up a naturalistic explanation for a man being beaten to shreds, crucified and then dying, coming back as if nothing happened 3 days later and interacting with the people around him. If that could be done, I would have no reason to consider these accounts as supernaturally valid.

          You said, “Nature can explain what’s on the page. The simplest solution is that it didn’t happen.”

          To explain that, you would have to show that was true. Historically, this does not seem probable.

          But we have these nine secular sources, Josephus
          (Jewish historian), Tacitus (Roman historian), Pliny the Younger (Roman
          politician), Phlegon (freed slave who wrote histories), Lucian (Greek
          satirist), Celsus (Roman philosopher), Mara Bar Serapion (prisoner
          awaiting execution), Suetonius, and Thallus, that mention something you are stating didn’t happen.

          That doesn’t include the 20 early Christian writers outside the New Testament that either journeyed with the apostles or Paul or were 3rd generation and walked with those that walked with the apostles and or Paul.

          The body of evidence is a lot to explain away for an event you say simply didn’t happen.

          You said, “Where most of y’all theists make the mistake with Occam’s Razor is that
          for sure, the easiest conclusion when you don’t know how something
          happens and you can’t figure it out is to invent another world and a
          being in that other world, and that other being in that other world
          controls or effects events in this world.”

          Except I didn’t invent this other world, I’m merely suggesting that the information in the Bible fits with what we do know about in this world. Science does not have an answer for how all of this started. All they can say is that the evidence they have points to a beginning. The Bible says that we know how it began. And how it began fits what we know today. This collection of books were written before they understood that time had a beginning point. This collection of books were written before some concept of the universe expanding was even thought about. And yet, it still fits what we know today. It doesn’t contradict what we know scientifically, it fits with it.

          We also know that those people in the Bible were real people that interacted in history with people you do believe existed. Paul existed in history. The apostles existed in history. The nine secular writers existed in history. And all of them in one form or another point to this Jesus existing in history. To deny that Jesus ever existed is to be intellectually dishonest. Even if you dismiss his deity, which many, many far left scholars do, they do not ever say that Jesus wasn’t real and that he didn’t die on a cross. And most, if not all will also agree that Paul experienced something on that road to Damascus in order for him to convert from Judaism to Christinity as he did. Do they dismiss the deity of Jesus? Sure. But they would never say these events didn’t happen. They would say they do not know how to explain what happened.

          What I’m suggesting is that Occam’s Razor, in light of the texts and what we do know, suggests that the simplest answer is that what was written is true. It might not be liked or accepted, but it does fit the explanation in the most simplest way.

          To simply say this never happened isn’t a simple solution, it’s called dismissing the evidence that we do have to hold on to a world view that philosophically denies the existence of the supernatural, not from proving it doesn’t exist, but simply as a presupposition.

        • Kodie

          Wow, you are dense.

          You didn’t “invent” this story, but you believe the explanation you’re given. You explained Occam’s Razor as “Occam’s Razor is a kind of general principle that entities ought not be
          multiplies in explanations, at least none beyond what is necessary for
          the explanation.”

          I would say inventing a supernatural explanation like I described is the opposite of that. You are certain that a ghost walked around or a zombie or something, you are certain that he was dead and that people saw him walking around all well after he was dead. I’m not certain. I don’t agree with your evidence. I think it is long-winded and reaching for something to explain something that could not have happened. If it could have happened, it could be examined scientifically, and it would have a natural explanation. But that is not the simplest explanation. The simplest explanation is that no such thing happened. For it to have happened violates Occam’s Razor. “God did it” is just the laziest explanation, it’s not the simplest.

        • Albert

          You said, “You didn’t “invent” this story, but you believe the explanation you’re
          given.”

          Is there reason not to believe it?If so, what reason is that?

          You said, “I would say inventing a supernatural explanation like I described is the opposite of that. You are certain that a ghost walked around or a zombie or something, you are certain that he was dead and that people saw him walking around all well after he was dead.”

          Again, you are not reading the accounts in the Bible if you are suggesting that it was a ghost walking about. Paul and the apostles did not consider Jesus raised from the dead as a ghost. He was flesh and blood, same as you and me. You can not understand the accounts if you are misinterpreting what they are saying. He wasn’t a zombie would be someone that is a dead person who is able to move because of magic. Jesus was not dead, he was resurrected. Two completely different things.

          And yes, I’m convinced that the accounts that Paul and the others have offered best fit the explanation that Jesus did die and came back from the dead. Is it a outrageous claim? Sure. But being outrageous only means it is not normally expected; it doesn’t make it false.

          You said, “I’m not certain. I don’t agree with your evidence. I think it is long-winded and reaching for something to explain something that could not have happened.”

          I can tell you are not certain. And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be certain. I did that too. But to be certain of anything you can’t allow presuppositions lead you away from where the truth my point, would you agree? If so, then any evidence you ever look at will be geared, not by truth, but by a philosophical world view. And from the looks of your next comment, this is exactly what you are doing.

          Here, I’ll show you what I am meaning:

          Here is your next statement: “If it could have happened, it could be examined scientifically, and it would have a natural explanation.”

          This is a philosophical world view that we can only know things through science or the scientific method.

          But the statement itself is made, not using science or the scientific method; but it is intended to be absolutely true. It commits suicide just by making the statement.

          If the only way we can know truth is with science or the scientific method, then the statement has to use science or the scientific method to show it to be true.

          What it is actually doing is forming a philosophical view called Scientism; where we can only know things are true through science or the scientific method.

          The supernatural, by definition, doesn’t fit that world view because it, by definition, is an event that happens by the suspension of the natural laws.

          Example: The natural laws state that dead men can not be brought back to life.

          A suspension of those natural laws would be a man coming back to life after being dead.

          There for, science, being limited to the natural world, can not be used to prove either one of those points, for starters, but it is also limited to only being able to be used to determine things that respond in the natural world. A suspension of natural laws, though it can effect our natural world, can not be tested by science. So we have to test the effects from this suspension of natural laws. This is why Paul’s response to this event on the road to Damascus is important to look at critically. He didn’t change religions, like someone changing shirts; it was something outrageous that happened. And anything that is a suspension of our natural laws should be considered outrageous. But again, outrageous doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It was a very convincing event, enough to make Paul change from killing others to being willing to be killed himself.

          The long-windedness of this is to hopefully make the information clear.

          You said, “”God did it” is just the laziest explanation, it’s not the simplest.”

          I don’t agree. When we review what is written, it’s not lazy to conclude that “God did it.” It is taking what is written and determining if it holds any water. Your presupposition that the supernatural doesn’t exist(something you can’t prove) is what makes you feel that this is lazy. But the fact is, the context of the text indicates supernatural events. A man coming back from the dead is not natural, you said so yourself. So if they changed their lives completely because of this event, there should be consideration that there is some validity to it.

          I think it is more lazy to just say that it didn’t happen, when clearly, these men and many of people around them, responded in a manor that shows that something happened.

        • Pofarmer

          “The testimonium flavinium is very widely considered to be a later edition. Especially because the early Church Fathers who had access to Josephus work didn’t quote it. ”

          The rest are all too late to really be of any use.

          Here is a link to a Truth Surge video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKcEz42MEmI

          In short, you really got nothing, there.

        • Pofarmer

          “That doesn’t include the 20 early Christian writers outside the New
          Testament that either journeyed with the apostles or Paul or were 3rd
          generation and walked with those that walked with the apostles and or
          Paul.”

          Eh?

        • Pofarmer

          “What I’m suggesting is that Occam’s Razor, in light of the texts and
          what we do know, suggests that the simplest answer is that what was
          written is true. It might not be liked or accepted, but it does fit the
          explanation in the most simplest way.

          To simply say this never
          happened isn’t a simple solution, it’s called dismissing the evidence
          that we do have to hold on to a world view that philosophically denies
          the existence of the supernatural, not from proving it doesn’t exist,
          but simply as a presupposition.”

          Actually, that’s pretty much entirely wrong. The problem isn’t the evidence we do have, it’s the lack of the evidence we should have.

        • CodyGirl824

          Pofarmer,

          Have you ever served on a jury in a criminal trial? If so, certainly you know that if you do not find there to be sufficient evidence to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt, that you must acquit. Well, your verdict is acquittal, but for every Christian living today and throughout history, there is sufficient evidence to convince us beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus was resurrected. I am convinced by the evidence. You are not. We merely have a different “take” on the evidence, that’s all. Since we are peers on this jury, you are under no obligation to convince me of the truth of your verdict nor am I obligated to convince you of the truth of mine. So be it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And “God did it” is the worst explanation possible. It does indeed explain the facts. In fact, it can explain any fact. “God did it in ways (or for reasons) that your tiny brain can’t understand. So there.”

          It’s unfalsifiable. That makes it a useless explanation.

        • hector_jones

          Invoking Occam’s Razor in support of the resurrection is pure comedy gold.

        • Albert

          How does it not supporting it?

        • hector_jones

          Because you are ignoring the simplest and most obvious naturalist explanation of them all – that the gospels are fiction.

          Do you believe that Muhammed flew around on a horse too? That Zeus imprisoned the Titans inside the earth?

        • Albert

          What Muhammad or Zeus did would have to be examined on their own. If they are true or false they have no bearing on the accounts of Jesus and the Bible. So there is no reason to include them into the conversation.

          You said, “Because you are ignoring the simplest and most obvious naturalist explanation of them all – that the gospels are fiction.”

          And if the Gospels were only including naturalist accounts, it would make sense to do that. But they don’t. They are making supernatural claims. They are saying that a man died at the hands of the Roman’s and then came back to life 3 days later. This is not a naturalistic account.

          Your presupposition that the supernatural does not exist is what is limiting you, actually it is forcing you to not allow other explanations. The problem with your presupposition is that you can not prove the supernatural does not exist. And in fact, when an account, such as the one I mentioned above, happens, you can’t do anything but say, “I don’t believe it.” Because you would have to change your world view and you are too comfortable in your shell to want to come out and follow the evidence where it leads.

        • hector_jones

          My question is do you believe these things?

          If you are so concerned about knowing the truth about God, it seems to me you owe it to yourself to investigate whether Muhammed flew around on a horse. If he did, wouldn’t that be a miracle? Or do horses fly naturally? If it’s a true miracle, then you owe it to yourself to look into the possibility that Islam is the true faith. Blithely dismissing it with ‘it would have to be examined on its own’ seems like a big risk to take for someone concerned about his mortal soul. Why aren’t you busy examining it?

          I don’t presuppose that the supernatural does not exist. I follow the evidence, which tells me that the supernatural has nothing to support it.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t forget Joseph Smith and the Golden plates.

        • hector_jones

          I’ve been trying to forget Joseph Smith and the Golden plates, damn you!

          I felt it was best to keep the list short for now so as not to overwhelm Albert. I know he’s just dying to investigate the truth of supernatural claims, because his own methodology tells him that all such claims should be taken at face value until proven false. So of course he’s going to investigate them all, eventually, in his search for truth, right?

        • Pofarmer

          Of course, I’m sure that’s exactly what he’ll do. Presuppositionalism seems to be the hot new buzzword with apologists.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, hell, what about Bushido? An awful lot of Japanese were willing to die for the divine emporer.

        • wtfwjtd

          Didn’t he also have a magic hat?

        • Pofarmer

          Not sure about the magic hat. He had a magic rock, I think.

        • Greg G.
        • CodyGirl824

          So, hector, in the great trial by a jury of peers of the “God, yes or no?” your verdict based on the evidence is no. Why should we believers in God who are your peers on this jury give your verdict any more weight or credibility than our own since we all have the same evidence available to us?

        • hector_jones

          What credibility you give to my ‘verdict’ is hardly the issue here.

          Why do you give the Gospels any more weight or credibility than you give the Koran or the Book of Mormon, or a thousand other claims about God and the supernatural? Why do you give them any credibility at all? That’s the question that needs to be answered. So let’s hear it. Can you do any better than your boyfriend?

        • CodyGirl824

          Your asking questions about the Koran and the Book of Mormon are a red herring argument. We are talking specifically here about St. Paul’s accounts of the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Stick to the topic.

          As for the credibility of the gospels as testimony, I highly recommend this book; Simon Greenleaf (1874). The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics (1995).

          I also see that someone earlier recommended Jim Warner Wallace’s book “Cold Case Christianity.”

        • Kodie

          Your asking questions about the Koran and the Book of Mormon are a red
          herring argument. We are talking specifically here about St. Paul’s
          accounts of the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Stick to the
          topic.

          The topic is “how do you accept this story but you reject another one?” Answer it and stop being an evasive Christian.

          We’ll wait for your very good answer of why your god is real and your method for rejecting all the other evidence for other gods.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          Are you the official monitor of the thread? Is this your official role? I do not feel at all compelled to follow the scent of yet anotherred herring.

        • Kodie

          You’re the one who is demanding that other people stick to what you imagined was the topic. I am just helping you out. You don’t want to answer the question, then I will just assume you don’t have any logical justification for believing your religion over any others.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why would I have to justify my religion over others?

        • hector_jones

          You came here to this thread. No one forced you to (except maybe Albert). So why are you here if not to justify your religion over others? This is an odd, and frankly hypocritical, question from you considering how you expected me in another comment to justify my verdict that the gospels are fiction.

        • CodyGirl824

          Did I ask you to justify why you claim that the gospels are fiction? I don’t recall having done so. Are you telling me that whatever the topic of the blog is, if a Christian comes on here to comment, we are expected to explain why we are not followers of …X, Y, or Z religion? Who made this rule?

        • hector_jones

          You asked why you should accept my verdict. If that’s not asking me to justify my claim, then I don’t know what is.

        • CodyGirl824

          I asked why you think that your verdict should carry more weight or have more credibility than my own. Is your “claim” the same as your verdict, which is, if I got it right, that the gospels are fiction. Is this also your verdict or claim about the Pauline letters, the ones under discussion here?

        • hector_jones

          No my verdict isn’t that the Pauline letters are fiction.

          So now what? Do you feel like addressing any of my questions about your methodology and how it relates to your non-belief in other religions?

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, please, Kodie. Certainly you know that Christians are monotheists. We don’t believe in the gods of polytheism any more than you do. I encourage you to answer your question about whether or not God (with a capital G to indicate the God of monotheism) is real by examining what monotheism deifies.

        • hector_jones

          Saying you reject other gods because christians are monotheists doesn’t tell me WHY you are a christian.

          Why do you reject other gods but accept the christian god? You admit you haven’t even looked into the Koran. How did you decide, then, that rejecting Allah was the right move?

          If you are trying to convince me to become a christian, first tell me why I shouldn’t become a muslim, because there are muslims out there telling me that I should reject christianity and become a muslim, and they use the very same type of arguments as you do. Why should I believe you over them? Sell it to me, Cody. Come on.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, I point out that Islam is a monotheistic religion. So are Judaism and Christianity. All of these religions reject polytheism because we believe there is only one God. So, there is no Christian God or Muslim God or Jewish God. There is only God. Allah is simply the name that Muslims give to God, as there are many names for God in Judaism, but because there is only One God, the names given to God in any language, culture or religious tradition are all names for the One and Only God.

          If/since you are an atheist, you reject all monotheistic religions equally. I as a Christian would never attempt to “sell” Christianity to you (witness to you about my Christianity) by talking about Islam or trying to convince you to reject Islam and accept Christianity. If you were to have a devout Muslim explain his/her faith to you, I’m sure this would be a great blessing to you, so go for it, if you have the opportunity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Monotheistic? Well, Islam and Judaism certainly are.

          Musims don’t agree that Christians are, and with good reason. But that’s a tangent.

        • Kodie

          It sounds like you picked one at random and then affirmed your belief, in that order.

        • Greg G.

          Then why are you a monotheist? With Christianity, you have Satan, angels, demons, saints, and the Trinity which would count as gods in polytheism, so saying that Christianity is monotheistic is a false statement, yet it is a foundation of Christianity.

        • hector_jones

          No it’s not a red herring argument it at all. My questions about the Koran and other books go specifically to Albert’s methodology whereby he says he accepts miracle claims found in ancient books until he has reason to believe they are false. This is the entire basis for his argument – he has no reason to doubt the gospels, so WE have to prove them wrong.

          So I ask about these other books because Albert’s methodology forces him to accept all the claims of other religions to be as true as the claims of christianity until he has found a reason not to believe the claims of these other religions.

          So I ask you and Albert, have you rejected the claims of these other religions yet? If so, what reasons have you found for rejecting them? If not, why are you a christian only and not a believer in Zeus, Apollo, Allah and all the other gods that appear in ancient books? Albert’s methodology says he must believe in them until he can prove he shouldn’t. But he never talks about them, and you consider their mention a red herring. Odd.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Albert’s “methodology” does not force him to accept anything. Albert’s methodology is the same one as any juror in any trial applies: a critical analysis of the evidence to arrive at a verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.

        • hector_jones

          No it’s not. Albert’s methodology is to accept evidence that would never make it before a jury in any modern day court room. Drop this foolish court room analogy and address the issues.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re the one who’s talking about evidence. I have given you two excellent books that approach the gospels from the point of view of methodologies for analyzing evidence. The gospels are testimony, the testimony of the apostles and their companions and the followers of Jesus who witnessed the events they tell us about. Testimony of witnesses is at the core of our system of justice. To claim that these witnesses testimony would be inadmissible in a court of law today is to simply in error. Again, I recommend Jim Warner Wallace’s account in “Cold Case Christianity” of how he approached the gospels’ evidence using the methodology of a cold case detective, and converted from atheism to Christianity as a result.

          So what is it that you think is “the issue” on this thread if not the credibility of the testimony of St. Paul in his letters, which is the Blogger’s discussion of why we shouldn’t believe Paul?

        • hector_jones

          I’ve seen the evidence, Cody. I reject it.

          So are we done?

        • CodyGirl824

          I guess so. You’ve reached your verdict and you’re stickin’ to it.

        • hector_jones

          Looks like you just weren’t very persuasive, Cody. Maybe I’ll become a Muslim. You haven’t given me any reason why I shouldn’t.

        • hector_jones

          As have you. Take care.

        • Kodie

          Sells a lot of books. What I don’t really get is why, if you already are convinced of something, you read another book that confirms your biases? You’re not going to see the flaws in this “cold case” detective’s methodologies, and the basic assumptions he throws down just to get over the facts. Religious authors and lecturers do this a lot and you have to be skeptical to notice it, but the main parlor trick is that he will get to what would ordinarily be a logical impasse, and handwave it with an “everyone knows this so let’s move on” or “let’s assume that the bible is true and inerrant and go from there”. We cannot assume such things and it is irrational to go on from a premise that is not logically established except for the intended audience – the fools who already believe that premise.

          The second trick is using academic language of whatever, in this case, using courtroom lingo or forensics talk to establish his authority over your base knowledge. You can’t tell the difference, you’re an idiot – I’m not saying this because I think so but because you think so, i.e., you know you are not a forensics expert and he purports to be – and get taken in like a gullible dilettante. To nobody else does this resemble a police investigation or a court trial. Christianity is never on trial in this book, it is a biased account presented in an academic way to lend intellectual credence to a foolish belief.

          Then we get to the part where you think you’re so much smarter because you read a book – a book you are not smart enough to detect the logical flaws in. A book that tells you what you want to believe, what you already believe, and then think we have to give you intellect points for using it to support your claims. Nope.

        • Kodie

          Albert’s methodology is to convince himself of Christianity and ignore all the other claims that other religions have that claim to be true. The question he has answered is “is Christianity true or false?” with his answer, “true”. He does not apply that methodology to any other religions and rejects them simply because he has picked one and affirmed it for himself, using the barest of reason: Paul saw a living corpse!

          How are we supposed to rationalize this event? We can’t, so Christianity is true, but only if you believe the story happened exactly as it was printed in a book. He does not examine similar supernatural claims made by other religions. Albert has shown his bias. He is “forced” to accept a supernatural explanation because he insists that the event occurred. It’s a miracle described to him and he is not suspicious or skeptical of its source, he is not open to other explanations for a story emerging or a lack of contemporary corroboration. Why would Paul convert? The same reason you converted, the same reason Albert converted. But his life was endangered! That never stops the delusional from sallying forth. You see how the Branch Davidians ended. David Koresh was not lying. He went down with the rest of his cult. How do you or Albert explain the 4 ATF agents who died in that siege, if they were willing to die for a lie or not? They are at cross-purposes.

          You talk like a silly deluded person talking about your hallucinations. Your one and only true god. Albert insists that there is no natural explanation for Jesus’s appearance to Paul after Jesus had been crucified, and this should convince us, but we tell him all evidence points to it being a story that copies other stories, and he says we have to go back in time and prove it. He doesn’t have to go back in time to prove it really happened, because it says so on the page.

          Take this methodology and apply it to other religious claims and see where your biases are. His bias is in favor of accepting supernatural events and explanations if it supports his beliefs, but quickly becomes more rational when examining the supernatural claims of other beliefs. He can speculate with the best of us and see the flaws right away, but not in his own favorite story. It fits in with everything we see and know today! Except when it doesn’t. He says nature can’t explain everything! Nature can’t explain a dead body walking around and talking to Paul! That’s his methodology – believe the story is true and then reach for a supernatural explanation. He does not apply this methodology to anything else.

        • Pofarmer

          See but you aren’t doing a “critical analysis” of the evidence. You are taking obvious religiuous tracts at face value.

        • Greg G.

          Albert’s methodology is to accept the book of Acts uncritically without comparing what Paul writes about himself with what the author of Acts writes. For example, he accepts the three versions of the Damascus Road incident which are exaggerations of what Paul said. Incorporating false information into an analysis is guarantee of arriving at an incorrect verdict.

        • Pofarmer

          Albert could also look to see if the records of say, Agrippa’s court reporter include the records of the trial of Paul. Which, of course, they don’t. He could look to see if any other sources cover Herods slaughter of the innocents, which, of course, they don’t. He could look to see if any Astronomers of the time recorded anything like the Star, which, of course, they don’t. He could look to understand why the Gospels rely in the interpretations of the Greek Septuagint instead of the Hebrew Talmud, which is just ine reaskn why they most likely weren’t oral stories but Greek literature written in Greek. He could show interest in any of these things, just for starters.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if you think any (or rather every) juror in any(/every) trial does any such thing, you are astoundingly naive.

        • Greg G.

          What evidence do you find compelling? For God, all we have are excuses for why God never shows up. For Jesus, there is no contemporary evidence, the extrabiblical evidence tells us no more than that there were people who believed there had been a first century Jesus, the gospels are drawn from literature of the day, and the early epistles say nothing about Jesus that doesn’t come from Old Testament verses about somebody else. Do you know about any other evidence?

        • CodyGirl824

          Greg,

          What you have given us is your opinion about the evidence, based on some rather lame notions about the origins of the gospels. Why do you ask for “other evidence” when you must admit that the existing evidence is sufficient for 2.3 billion Christians living today and billions more throughout the history of Christianity?

        • Kodie

          A lot of people are silly, but that can happen. You have a logical fallacy in your post, can you find it?

        • CodyGirl824

          Now we’re playing guessing games?

        • hector_jones

          What about the existing evidence of the Koran that’s sufficient for billions of Muslims living today? It’s not the red herring you claim, it’s right on point. Why should I believe your bible when I know you don’t believe in the Koran, for the very same reasons I don’t believe in your bible?

        • CodyGirl824

          Perhaps you do not believe in the Koran for the same reason that you don’t believe in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. Is it because you don’t believe in God? It is most certainly not surprising either that followers of any religion believe in their religion’s holy scriptures. So what is your point?

        • hector_jones

          I am consistent in my methodology. I reject the Koran for the very same reasons that I reject the Bible.

          Why don’t YOU believe in the Koran, cody? Are you capable of giving an honest answer to a question? I still haven’t seen one. You are obviously just dodging the issue because you know you have no principled methodology for rejecting the Koran while accepting the Bible and you will do anything to avoid admitting that.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you mean by to “believe in” the Koran. Certainly you’re not asking me as a Christian if I believe in the Koran as the holy scriptures of Christianity. Obviously, I do not. In fact, I know very little about the Koran and am not informed enough about it to form an opinion about what religious and spiritual truths it may contain. Yes, I can accept that you are consistent in your methodology: You reject the holy scriptures of all world religions equally and completely. This is consistent with your denial of the gospels.

        • hector_jones

          Obviously, you do not believe in the Koran. Why not? Telling me you don’t believe in the Koran because you are a Christian tells me nothing.

          You aren’t informed about the Koran? Why not? Why are you not the least bit concerned that your refusal to witness the testimony of the Koran might send you to hell?

        • CodyGirl824

          You have some very bizarre notions about religious diversity.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Telling me you don’t believe in the Koran because you are a Christian tells me nothing.”

          on the contrary, it told you (albeit implicitly) that she doesn’t dare ~break the rules~ (at least not for the purposes of conversing with a mere atheist) and can’t imagine there being a point to even undertake a suitable thought experiment (if we could even have reached the point where she established that she could even grasp the concept of a thought experiment involving ideas that conflict with her personal “determination” (or neglect, if you will) of reality.)

        • Greg G.

          I explained why the evidence that is taken for granted by 2.3 billion Christians is weak in a reply to Albert. It’s rather long. Would you like me to copy it for you?

        • MNb

          “What Muhammad or Zeus did would have to be examined on their own. If they are true or false they have no bearing on the accounts of Jesus and the Bible.”
          They do. I already told you so: matter of methodology. Using your method to “prove” a supernatural claim for the Resurrection also “proves” Hector’s claims about Mohammed and Zeus. Or Intelligent Falling. Or, like Pofarmer writes underneath, the Golden Plates.

        • CodyGirl824

          Albert,

          You are right on!

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, he does make more effort (and even sense, occasionally) in a single comment than you ever did in an entire thread.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector,

          To speculate that the gospels are fiction is not a “naturalist explanation.” It is simply denial of the testimony they give us. Denial is not an argument and it most certainly is not evidence.

        • hector_jones

          When you reject the Koran or the Book of Mormon as fiction, do you call that ‘speculation’? Isn’t it simple denial of the testimony they give us? Your denial of the Koran and the Book of Mormon is not an argument and certainly is not evidence.

          Or are you a Christian-Muslim-Mormon the way your methodology requires you to be?

        • MNb

          “The problem is that naturalism can’t account for sightings of a man walking around that used to be dead. There is no way to explain this in natural terms.”
          Prove that naturalism a priori can’t account and explain this. I wrote it before: if historical research definitely shows that Jesus has come back from the death you’re not done yet – you have to provide an explanation in biological terms. “God did it” is and remains a god of the gaps.
          This is why you are running around in circles. You assume a priori that a supernatural explanation is possible and then claim without any justification that in one particular case a supernatural occurrence is the simple answer. It’s not any better than

          http://www.theonion.com/articles/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-int,1778/
          That’s also the simple answer compared to all those pesky formula’s we have to learn in physics class.

        • CodyGirl824

          MNb,

          You are IMO missing Albert’s point. If you reject a supernatural, metaphysical cause of/for Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and appearance to many hundreds of people after his death, then you have no explanation. That’s simply the reality of atheism.

        • Greg G.

          If you read the Bible critically and closely along with the literature the authors had, you see that there is no real evidence or reliable oral tradition presented.

        • CodyGirl824

          Merely your opinion.

        • Greg G.

          Then present the reliable evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          Where are the accounts from the many hundreds? Where are the contemporary accounts? Read Remsberg’s ” the christ” to get a clue.

        • Greg G.

          We know something happened. Even far left skeptic scholars would all
          agree that Paul experienced something on the Damacus rod and that the
          apostles believed what they said the saw. So we can’t conclude that this
          never happened without simply ignoring the facts we do have.

          The facts we have about the Damascus Road incident come from three contradictory accounts in Acts but nothing about it from the horse’s mouth. Acts is a fictional drama. Occam says it is not historical.

        • MNb

          Everything we write was thought out more than 250 years ago:

          http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/hume-miracles.asp

          “When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened.”
          You reject the first option a priori, but only in this particular case.

        • CodyGirl824

          Albert,

          I am enjoying your posts. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Naturalism is too simple because it fails to explain all that needs explanation. But the supernatural does explain this.

          Oh? What doesn’t have a natural explanation?

        • Guest

          huzzah for another 50-cent typo! “tavongs of a madman” will be my next short story title. :)

    • MNb

      “The point is not that Paul knew 500 people that saw Jesus risen from the grave, but that 500 people at once, saw Jesus risen from the dead.
      Two years ago I saw a hand high up in the sky with a finger pointing at me. I heard a voice: “there is no god.” Five hundred people saw it with me. According to my account they saw the hand and heard the voice. I won’t give you a record of who these people were.
      You are totally going to buy my claim, don’t you? If not, why accept Paulus’ claim?

      • Albert

        Your claim would have to be determined true or false on it’s own merits. If your claim is false, this has no bearing on Paul’s account as they are completely separate events.

        If what you wrote in your comment the only evidence you have for your claim? If so, then there is not much to go on.

        In the case of Paul’s claim, there are other writers and documents that indicate that Jesus came back from the dead. There are other writers that have indicated that Jesus was seen by others besides Paul. So there is context and corroboration. So even if Paul is the only one that wrote about the 500 people seeing Jesus at once, this isn’t a solitary incident.

        • MNb

          “There are other writers that have indicated that Jesus was seen by others besides Paul.”
          None of them independent. This context and corroboration is as useless as me bringing up my son and some close friends to confirm vaguely my claim.

        • Albert

          What do you mean by “None of them independent”?

        • MNb

          That all writers you referred to knew each other.

        • Greg G.

          Mark used Paul as a source. Mark’s information about Jesus comes from other literature that is not about Jesus. The other gospels used Mark’s fictional accounts. The early epistles may have been independent but they tell nothing about Jesus except what they got from the scriptures about someone else and some of that was out of context.

        • Albert

          You said, “Mark used Paul as a source.”

          How do you come to this conclusion?

          You said, “Mark’s information about Jesus comes from other literature that is not about Jesus.”

          How do you show this to be true?

          You said, “The other gospels used Mark’s fictional accounts.”

          It is true that Matthew and Luke did you a lot of Mark’s Gospel for portions of their own Gospel’s, but this doesn’t show it to be not true.

          You said,
          The early epistles may have been independent but they tell nothing about Jesus except what they got from the scriptures about someone else and some of that was out of context.

          This again, has to be proven. How do you conclude that Paul got his information from scripture when he claims to be an eye witness?
          What do you mean that some of that was out of context?

        • hector_jones

          You’ve been using Paul as a source. Why would Mark have not done likewise?

        • Albert

          You’re correct; I have been using Paul as a source. The key there is that Paul’s letters exist.

          It is my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, but Mark’s Gospel was written before any of Paul’s letters were, right?

          Unlike Matthew and Luke using Mark, where you can point to passages and see the text verbatim, I’m not thinking you can do that with Mark in reference to Paul’s writings, can you?

          Plus the content of what the books were about is quite different, where Matthew, Mark and Luke follow the same sort of subject line.

          It’s sort of like three people writing about a specific player of a soccer team and one other writer writing about the games this player played. They could cover some of the same information, but the perspective of those writings might be different.

        • hector_jones

          It is my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, but Mark’s Gospel was written before any of Paul’s letters were, right?

          Wrong. Consider yourself corrected.

        • Albert

          Saying I”m wrong is not correcting me. Explaining HOW I am wrong is how you correct me.

          Is it your contention that Paul’s letters were written before Mark’s Gospel? If so, this would be the first time EVER that I have heard that. What information do you have that I don’t?

        • wtfwjtd

          You don’t have to take our word for this Albert, look it up for yourself. Nearly all scholars put the date of Paul’s letters, the genuine ones, in the 40-55 AD range, and the earliest gospel, Mark, in the 75 AD range. Matthew and Luke are dated 80-100, and John is a little later than this, around 100-120.

        • hector_jones

          Some scholars put Mark as early as 66 CE. That seems to be about the earliest that anyone has been able to argue for with any plausibility.

          Scholars like Robert Price argue for much later dates and say that arguments for early dates are motivated more by a need to link the gospels to the alleged oral tradition than to sound arguments about dating.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is it your contention that Paul’s letters were written before Mark’s Gospel? If so, this would be the first time EVER that I have heard that. What information do you have that I don’t?

          Uh … Wikipedia?

        • Albert

          Bob. I stand corrected. It has been a long time since I have looked at when the books were written and I guess my memory is not as good as it used to be. :O)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No, Paul probably preceded Mark. (Just in case this hasn’t been answered yet.)

        • Albert

          Yes, I agree. I was wrong in my remembering when these books were written.

        • Pofarmer

          You said, “Mark’s information about Jesus comes from other literature that is not about Jesus.”

          How do you show this to be true?

          Randal Helms Gospel Fictions for a start. There is also book comparing the Gospels to Homer that is compelling. Remember, we are talking Greek literature with th Gospels. They are written and conceptualized in Greek terms. They are not translated from or originating from Hebrew or Aramaic.

        • Greg G.

          You said, “Mark used Paul as a source.”

          How do you come to this conclusion?

          Mark 12:31 quotes Leviticus 19:18 in a similar way that Paul uses it in Romans 13:9-10 and Galatians 5:14, except that Paul calls it the sum of the law while Mark has it as the second greatest commandment. That is opposite to how James 2:8-10 explains it.

          Mark 7:1-19 draws on the argument between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2 with Jesus taking Paul’s side and Peter’s side being represented by the Pharisees. If Mark 7 was true, why would Paul be pointing out Peter’s error? Mark 7:15, 18-19 comes from Romans 14:14, 20.

          Paul laments in 1 Corinthians 1:22 that the Jews demand signs while Jesus complains about the same thing in Mark 8:12.

          The phrase “Abba, Father” makes no sense in Mark 14:36 as it is just saying “Father, Father” in Aramaic and Greek which wouldn’t be something a non-Greek would have said in a prayer. How would anyone know what he said? Would he have been shouting out all that as they dragged him away? Mark uses that along with explaining Bartimaeus’ name so that the observant Greek readers will understand that the name Barabbas would be “son of the Father” in Aramaic to set up the scapegoat scenario. Anyway, he borrowed the unusual phrase from Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15.

          In 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, Paul is explaining Jewish law to the Corinthians who are not under the law. When he says “not I but the Lord”, he is saying that Deuteronomy 24:1-4 does not provide a way for the wife to divorce from the husband, even though Paul recognizes that women can divorce under Roman law. In Mark 10:11-12, Jesus says the same thing to his disciples but that makes no sense saying it to those who would be under the Jewish law. Matthew 5:31-32 and Luke 16:18 both recognized and omitted that gaffe.

          Then there are the three pillars that Paul talks about in Galatians – Peter, James, and John. Those happen to be the three main sidekicks for Jesus in Mark. Andrew gets a second mention and Judas plays a small role but no other disciple gets mention after being introduced. In Galatians, Paul says Peter fears the men sent by James and Mark has him being afraid to admit he knew Jesus to anyone. James and John are “pillars of the community” in Galatians where Paul expresses disdain for their position and in Mark, after the transfiguration, they want to sit on either hand in glory.

          You said, “Mark’s information about Jesus comes from other literature that is not about Jesus.”

          How do you show this to be true?

          In New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash, Robert M. Price collected scholarly studies, mostly from those who believe in a historical Jesus, that independently show the sources in the Old Testament, the Deuterocanon, and Greek literature. Combined, they eliminate every deed attributed to Jesus in Mark by showing that he did nothing that hadn’t been done by other characters in the literature.

          You said, “The other gospels used Mark’s fictional accounts.”

          It is true that Matthew and Luke did you a lot of Mark’s Gospel for portions of their own Gospel’s, but this doesn’t show it to be not true.

          Independently, it wouldn’t show that it is not true, but when Mark is based on fiction, the other gospels, including John, are based on fiction.

          You said,
          The early epistles may have been independent but they tell nothing about Jesus except what they got from the scriptures about someone else and some of that was out of context.

          This again, has to be proven. How do you conclude that Paul got his information from scripture when he claims to be an eye witness?
          What do you mean that some of that was out of context?

          In Galatians 1:11-12 and Galatians 1:15-16, Paul says that he did not receive his knowledge about Jesus from any human sources but it came from God through revelation. In Romans 16:25-26, he says the revelation of the mystery comes from the prophetic writings, and in 1 Corinthians 2:9, he quotes Isaiah 64:4, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

          Paul speaks of Jesus hundreds of times but seldom tells us anything about him. Below is everything he tells us.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3 > 2 Samuel 7:12

          Made of woman, made under the law > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Deuteronomy 27:26

          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3 > Psalm 69:9

          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9

          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13 > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23

          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9

          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5

          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will return > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8

          What do you mean that some of that was out of context?

          Some of those are clear prophecies about the Messiah such as 2 Samuel 7:12 and Paul thinks Jesus was going to be that Messiah, so that would be in context. The Isaiah 53 quotes are not about the Messiah, but are taken out of context. If they were explicit, they would be “long hidden mysteries”. Paul seems to think this new method of reading verses out of context is a way to discover that the Messiah had come at some time in Paul’s distant past, but was coming again soon. The fact that theses mysteries were being revealed to his generation was an indication to him that the Messiah was coming soon. It’s not like that was the first generation to think that, nor the last.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Paul is the only source for the “500 eyewitnesses” claim.

    • Pofarmer

      Supposedly , 10,000 catholics, or therabouts saw the Sun wobble in the sky and the leaves move on a tree indicating Maries presence among them at medjugorjia(sp), do you believe that too?

      • Albert

        Never heard of this. Do you have a resource?

        • Pofarmer
        • Albert

          Seems for Fatima, there are several naturalistic explanations that would fit some of what was encountered there. Did they really see the sun dancing? Not sure. It doesn’t sound natural, that’s for sure. But this is definitely a different scenario that what is reported for the disciples and for Paul.

          The people went there with some sort of expectation. When Jesus appeared to Paul and the disciples, there was no expectation of anything happening, so the idea of this happening was not in their minds. No power of suggestion as it could have been at the Fatima sighting.
          I don’t know of any naturalistic explanations for a man that was beaten to shreds, crucified, and died being able to come back to life and interact with people as if nothing happened, just 3 days later.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know of any naturalistic explanations for a man that was beaten
          to shreds, crucified, and died being able to come back to life and
          interact with people as if nothing happened, just 3 days later.

          Me either.

        • Albert

          Which is why it is considered a supernatural occurrence.

        • Kodie

          No, just a supernatural explanation.

        • Albert

          Which would be evidence for a supernatural event.

          You don’t want to allow the supernatural to exist because it would remove your philosophical world views presupposition that it does not exist and you can’t have that happen. It would mess up your comfort zone and you can’t have that, can you?

          I have shown you here that there is reason to consider that the supernatural does exist.
          There is no naturalistic explanation for a man beaten, crucified who died and came back to life three days later as if nothing happened, which you agreed with; but yet, you will not allow the supernatural to be the answer for this sort of thing happening.

          Why is that?
          You can’t prove it doesn’t exist; the context of the accounts fits a supernatural occurrence. It even presents itself as evidence for the supernatural.

          So why dismiss it other than you just don’t want to accept it?

        • Kodie

          It even presents itself as evidence for the supernatural.

          What is your explanation that Superman could fly?

        • Kodie

          Yeah, why not simply dismiss things that claim a supernatural event?
          Isn’t that exactly why you reject the claims of other religions?

          You never answered this very short, direct question.

        • hector_jones

          His answer will be that he doesn’t dismiss the claims of other religions, he just hasn’t looked into them.

          What he will leave out is that he has no intention of ever looking into them because he’s not really seeking the truth about god and religion, he’s instead seeking to rationalize christian beliefs that he’s already accepted for other reasons.

        • hector_jones

          They never answer this question. Ever. As predicted, Cody is now giving the “I haven’t investigated the Koran” as the dodge for not believing in it. She won’t come out and admit that she doesn’t accept its claims and doesn’t even care what they are.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, hector, I ask: What does it mean for someone to “believe in” the Koran when one is a Christian? I simply think that it is rather obvious that Christians don’t “believe in” the holy books of other religions like they do in the Holy Bible and why. And again, I state that I doubt that the reasons you have for not believing in the Holy Bible or the Koran or the holy scriptures of any religion are the same reasons I have for not “believing in” the holy books of any religion other than Christianity.

        • hector_jones

          To believe in it the way a Muslim believes in it. There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet, as they say. Did you really have to have that clarified? Seriously?

          I don’t believe in the Koran because its claims do not convince me. What reasons do you have for not believing in it?

        • CodyGirl824

          Knowing as I do that Allah is the name Muslims give to the One and Only God of monotheism, I believe that there is only One God, whatever He is called. I am open to the possibility that Muhammed is a prophet, but as I stated before, I have not studied the Koran sufficiently to form an opinion. When you say that someone else (me, in this case) doesn’t believe the “claims” of other religions, you are reasonably expected to be specific about what those claims are.

        • hector_jones

          Why do you believe in only one god? Prove to me that Zeus and Apollo don’t exist.

          How do you know this one god you believe in is the same god that the Muslims call Allah? Is that in the bible somewhere?

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, monotheism is the belief in one God and only one God. Islam is monotheism. The Muslims actually have about 100 names for God, as does Judaism. The study of the names of/for God is very enlightening. I recommend Nathan Stone’s book, “Names of God” (2010) that explores 12 names of God from the Bible. Also, Karen Armstrong’s
          “History of God” has lots to say on this subject.

        • hector_jones

          I know what monotheism is. So what? Your point is circular. You believe in one god because you only believe in one god. That’s all you are saying.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, that is not what I am saying. I am trying to point out, perhaps without success, that references to the gods of polytheism are irrelevant in a discussion of monotheism. You need to think carefully about what monotheism deifies. We both agree that Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, does not exist but I’m sure that both you and I agree that rain exists. Discussions of whether or not the God of monotheism (what monotheism deifies) exists are really nonsensical, but atheists have a really hard time accepting this fact.

        • hector_jones

          I am trying to point out that you don’t have a principled reason for disbelieving in Zeus or Apollo. You just don’t, because you are a christian. That’s all you’ve got. It’s arguments like this that make you intensely dislikable. I don’t need to think carefully about what monotheism deifies as I’m not a monotheist. You are so full of yourself it’s appalling.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course I have a principled reason for not believing in the deities and idols of ancient and now defunct polytheistic religions.I don’t believe in the deification of singular natural phenomena and/or human characteristics. I deify the Creator of the universe, in all His unity and entirety, as did the ancient Hebrews, as they state in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Monotheism is more “principled” than polytheism. I am not a monotheist because I am a Christian. I am a Christian because I am a monotheist. Surely you can see the difference.

        • hector_jones

          This isn’t principled. This is just a statement of what you believe and quoting scripture. I’m sorry that you cannot fathom why a non-christian finds this completely unconvincing.

        • CodyGirl824

          I can and I do fathom why non-Christians find religion unconvincing. Atheism is clear and convincing evidence of free will.

        • Kodie

          I can and I do fathom why non-Christians find religion unconvincing. Atheism is clear and convincing evidence of free will.

          That is leaping to a conclusion. If that is what you find clear and convincing evidence of a god’s blanket issue of “free will” it means you already believe in free will and then you go looking for things that resemble that conclusion and use your conclusion to back up your assumptions. Backwards. If you didn’t know any religion or god, imagine yourself totally neutral and uninformed, and you saw some people believed in your god (the god you believe in outside of this scenario) and some people believed in another god and some people believed in no god at all, how would the existence of atheism point you to your god? How would the existence of a competing religion compel you towards the god you end up with?

          It doesn’t.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah the way Cody tossed in free will like that had me laughing. Christians really get to have their cake and eat it too on that one, don’t they? God wants us to have free will. Moreover he needs to prove to us for some reason that it exists, not merely by giving it to us, but by demonstrating that it exists in other people via Atheism. Hence Atheism, i.e. the existence of people who don’t believe in God, is proof of God! But on the other hand, the shear number of Christians vs Atheists is also proof of God! Zowie. If everyone on earth was a Christian, THEN Cody would have to doubt the existence of her god.

        • Kodie

          But god is the established explanation for everything. If god were not real, how would you explain the existence of atheists?

        • Kodie

          Nobody finds that difference significant or interesting. You made your beliefs from emotional reasoning. You were persuaded because you are gullible to the marketing. It’s all marketing, and you were scammed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Monotheism is more “principled” than
          polytheism.

          So “monotheistic” Christians are more principled than polytheistic Hindus? How does that work?

        • wtfwjtd

          Good heavens Cody, where did you get the idea that Christianity is monotheistic? Christianity is clearly polytheistic; you have God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and for some Christians, throw in Mary, some saints, et al. If monotheism is what you want, you need to upgrade your religion to Islam.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is nonsense! You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • wtfwjtd

          What?! Who does Jesus pray to, himself? The gospels tell us he prayed to his Father in heaven. Or don’t you accept that part of the gospels?

        • CodyGirl824

          You are referring to the theology of the Incarnation. Incarnation poses no challenge to monotheism.

        • wtfwjtd

          Wha?! So you are saying then that Jesus did pray to himself? Is that correct?

        • CodyGirl824

          I refer you to the Lord’s Prayer, in which Jesus taught us to pray together to “Our Father, which art in Heaven…” How does this conflict with monotheism?

        • hector_jones

          It conflicts with monotheism because there is a god who is the father, and a god who is the son. See the problem? Muslims certainly do. Only you christians are blind to it, thinking you have solved it with the trinity.

        • CodyGirl824

          Muslims don’t understand the theology of the Trinity. This is one point of theological difference between Christianity and Islam. But, of course, these differences are all meaningless to atheists anyone since they/you don’t believe in the God of monotheism, however He is symbolized or represented.

        • hector_jones

          No one understands the theology of the Trinity. But as a christian you don’t have to understand it, you just have to accept that it solves the problem of the Incarnation.

          You still haven’t answered my question asking you to disprove Zeus and Apollo. All you said was you don’t believe in them. So what? I already knew that. Convince me that they aren’t real.

        • CodyGirl824

          You can’t be serious! You are asking me to disprove the existence of Zeus and Apollo? After I have told you numerous times that I am not a polytheist? This might be a much more fruitful discussion. I believe that God is whatever/whoever caused the Big Bang. Now can you disprove that a cause of/for the Big Bang exists?

        • hector_jones

          WTF? If you were a polytheist I would ask you to PROVE Zeus and Apollo, not disprove them. What are you talking about?

          I’ll make it easier. Tell me why I shouldn’t believe in Zeus and Apollo. And please don’t tell me it’s because you are a monotheist.

          At first I found you obnoxious but now I just find you ridiculous.

        • CodyGirl824

          You need to understand what deification means. Look it up. I’m so sorry to learn of my downward trajectory in our conversation. What I have learned from you is that you don’t really have much of a grasp on what religion is, most especially Christianity, so It’s not very troubling to me that you reject it.

        • hector_jones

          All god beliefs, including monotheism, are just deifications of natural phenomena. The concept of deification doesn’t destroy polytheism and save monotheism. It destroys both.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector,

          What you fail to recognize is what monotheism deifies and how that destroys atheists’ claim that God does not exist.

        • CodyGirl824

          All deification is of existing natural phenomena. Yes. Now you’re getting it. That’s why debating whether or not the God of monotheism exists or not is nonsense.

        • hector_jones

          Belief in your god can just as easily be characterized as a deification of existing phenomena. But this hardly matters. You prove absolutely nothing about the existence of your god through arguments about deification or by insisting that debating your god’s existence is nonsense. Where did you get this silly idea that the concept of deification has such power in this debate?

        • CodyGirl824

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

        • Kodie

          So all your crying about how people were changing the subject before was we were changing your topic? We weren’t submitting to you controlling the conversation and that upset you. What an asshole you are.

        • hector_jones

          What an arrogant comment. Too bad you didn’t quickly dispense with the matter by offering any, you know, evidence that your god exists, just assertion.

          I’ve already dispensed with your nonsense that ‘deification’ proves anything about your imaginary god. It’s not essential to any understanding of christianity whatsoever. Got anything else?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s
          why debating whether or not the God of monotheism exists or not is nonsense.

          Perhaps you’ve already covered this, but I have no idea what this means. Because God = Reality or something?

        • Kodie

          Religion is a multi-level marketing scheme. I get that you feel sincerely about it, and I get that you don’t like being made to feel foolish about it, but you are.

        • hector_jones

          Cody seems to think that the magic word ‘deification’ solves everything. Deification is, basically, the idea of creating gods to represent abstract concepts like love, war, etc. It’s rather obvious that the pre-christian polytheists of Greece and Rome liked to engage in deification, but Cody seems to believe that that’s ALL that polytheism is about, so their gods can easily be dismissed as ‘imaginary’. But it’s not. Polytheists have creator gods, ruler gods, law-giving gods, etc. In short, they have plenty of gods who are not simplistic deifications of abstract concepts.

          There is really nothing about monotheism that is intellectually superior or more advanced than polytheism. This is purely a conceit that christians and non-christians even have accepted because of 2000 years of christians telling us so. And this in spite of the fact, as wtfwjd and Greg have pointed out, that the monotheism of Christianity is honored more in the breach than the observance.

          Fundamentally, all Cody is arguing is that polytheistic gods are ‘proven’ to be imaginary via deification. But her own god is just as imaginary. If Christians want to insist that polytheists deify and Christians don’t (as if this is a distinction that means anything), I can just as easily argue that the god of christianity is a deification of the concept of ‘reality’, or ‘everything’, or ‘the universe’, etc. I see christians stating these kinds of things all the time. God is Love! God is Deification.

          And then I just noticed that in one comment to me she made the bizarre claim that even talking about the existence of the monotheistic god is just nonsense. So we get, once again, the christian assertion that the existence of their god is a given, or something that is proven by mere logic and reason, somehow. No empirical evidence necessary, which is a position I firmly reject.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, I gave you an opportunity to discuss God’s existence. I explained that I believe that God is whatever/whoever caused the Big Bang. Now please prove to me that no cause of the Big Bang exists. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a reply, I promise.

        • hector_jones

          Oh how gracious of you, you gave me a chance to discuss God’s existence! So what?

          I don’t know what caused or didn’t cause the big bang. Neither do you.

        • CodyGirl824

          True. Neither of us know, but you appear to believe, as I do and as cosmologists do, that the Big Bang had a cause, which they are still trying to discover.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you’re saying that because maybe the big bang had a cause, therefore the Christian God? How did you make this leap? Couldn’t have just as plausibly have been some other god that man hasn’t invented yet?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Do they? Lots of quantum events don’t have causes. Maybe the Big Bang (also a quantum event) didn’t either.

        • Greg G.

          If God existed before the Big Bang, it would be impossible for him to cause the Big Bang because a cause acting on nothing has no effect.

          If the Big Bang was a self-caused quantum event, then no God is necessary for it to happen.

          Your concept of God seems to be the deification of the Big Bang, which is the basis you use to dismiss polytheistic gods, so you should dismiss your own beliefs on that basis.

        • Kodie

          Clearly you are too dense to get the conundrum. You don’t believe in other gods because you believe in one god. You don’t believe in them because you just don’t. That’s not enough here. You are misunderstanding the questions as asked. Other people find these other gods compelling and real as you find your god. You find your god so compelling that we should too. You are fine with us rejecting all the same gods you simply reject because you believe in one god. But we have a problem with your system of choosing your god over the other possible gods.

          Look, I get that you don’t think this is like baseball where there’s a league, and you live near a big city or moved from somewhere, so you have your favorite team, but you acknowledge the other teams exist or else your team would have no one to play against. You are as if your team were the only one and there is no need for other teams. Other people may think there are teams in their city, but you never consider them at all.

          But to an atheist, there is no more compelling evidence for your god than any other god claimed to exist. None. It is all fiction and easily compared and explained in the context of world religions and myths. Earlier, you used a large number and I called you on your logical fallacy – more people on earth believe something other than Christianity is true. They don’t all believe they same thing, and they are just as certain as you are that they’re correct.

          You can’t just stamp your big foot around and say we don’t understand what monotheism is. We get it. Try to look at it like we do – the people of the world claim many gods are true, and we do not have any reason to set your god apart from them as you do. Your god falls in the same category as all the other claimed gods do, just like looking at the category of baseball teams and wondering how to choose one to root for. But you reject and don’t even consider the other gods gods. You have to consider them as claimed and explain your method of dismissing evidence that they exist.

          Right now it seems you looked at one claim, you followed along with the doctrine, and now you have found your god at the end of the rainbow. You don’t care what the other religions claim for god or evidence. So you can’t really use “evidence” as a reason we should believe your god exists and still be consistent with your methods.

          DO YOU UNDERSTAND YET OR SHOULD WE KEEP GOING AROUND AND AROUND AND YOU ARE HARD OF READING COMPREHENSION?

        • wtfwjtd

          Ok, I gather from this example you are saying that Jesus wasn’t God then? Good, you are in agreement with Islam on this point then.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are playing semantic games that are meaningless. Do you understand the theology of the Incarnation? Do you acknowledge that Incarnation is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity? A yes or no will suffice.

        • wtfwjtd

          I understand that theology of Incarnation are magic words that Christians recite in an attempt to dodge acknowledging that Christianity is polytheistic. BTW, where can I find this theology of Incarnation in the Bible?

        • CodyGirl824

          Christianity is not polytheism, no matter how many times you say otherwise. Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

          For the theology of Incarnation, see the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

        • hector_jones

          Christianity is not monotheism, no matter how many times you say otherwise. Assertion. See how that works?

        • CodyGirl824

          No one here has made the case for Christianity being polytheism.

        • wtfwjtd

          I have! Christians worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and some Christians also worship Mary. Nice, huh?

        • CodyGirl824

          By that definition Islam is not monotheism because Muslims worship Allah and Mohammed. And Judaism is not monotheism because Jews worship God and the Torah. No, you have not made your case.

        • hector_jones

          And this helps your argument how?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Whaaa … ? Muslims certainly do not worship Mohammed. And I can’t imagine that Jews worship the Torah.

          You’re not adding a lot of clarity to this discussion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the incessant play-acting as though she could even function as an arbiter in her own mind would’ve been cute if there had ever been the slightest indication that she was doing it for entertainment purposes.

        • asmondius

          Snipe.

        • Greg G.

          I have! The Satan of Christianity is more powerful than most of the gods of polytheism. Just because your religion doesn’t call him a god doesn’t make your religion monotheistic. Throw in all the angels and demons that are as powerful as most polytheistic gods, plus all the powers of saints some sects add, and Christianity is full-blown polytheism without even considering the Trinity insanity.

        • wtfwjtd

          CodyGirl, please, can we stay on topic here? We’re talking about Christianity, that verse from Deuteronomy is referring to Judaism. I still would like to know where I can find the theology of Incarnation in the Bible…

        • CodyGirl824

          In case you don’t know, the Old Testament, which includes the Book of Deuteronomy, is sacred text for Christians. I made this reference in a conversation about Christianity as monotheism.

        • wtfwjtd

          Of course the Old Testament is sacred text for Christians, but when that verse was written it was for Jews practicing Judaism, correct? What about the theology of Incarnation? Is that in the Old Testament, or the New Testament?

        • CodyGirl824

          Both. Examine the OT regarding the messiah for starters.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes. I need some references please, It’s not my intent to create theology from scratch.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do your own homework. It is you who says you do not to understand the theology of Incarnation.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you’re admitting you can’t name a single verse of scripture from which theology of Incarnation originates? Yet above, you said that this is a central doctrine of Christianity. Are you sure you are really a Christian?

        • CodyGirl824

          Are you sure you know what Christianity is if you can’t find any verses in the four canonical gospels (the Gospel) that explain the Incarnation?

        • wtfwjtd

          Geez CodyGirl, are you trying to convince me that you’re a Christian, or yourself? All I asked you for is a simple Bible reference to what you described as a central doctrine to your faith, and all you give me is a dodge. I guess if you can’t back up your theology of Incarnation with scripture, I have to assume you just made it up to try and avoid admitting that Christianity is polytheism. Is that right?

        • Kodie

          You were asked where in the bible is the theology of Incarnation. Are you sure you know what Christianity is if you can’t fucking answer a direct question? You say it’s in both. You don’t specify. You dictate to us to do homework. I don’t think you know. Nobody here is motivated to do your homework for you.

        • wtfwjtd

          We can drop the charade now CodyGirl. You and I both know that you can’t refer me to any scriptural references to the theology of Incarnation, because there aren’t any. I was just waiting to see if you had the humility and honesty just to admit it, but alas, no. You’ve managed in one stroke to confirm the stereotype of Christians being arrogant and dishonest, while also confirming one of the many reasons I was forced to abandon my own Christian beliefs. Congratulations! You came here, with all of your presuppositions about your moral superiority to a bunch of godless heathens, and yet it is you who has been shown to be the one with a lack of ethics, honesty and integrity.
          I’ll let you in on a little secret: most atheists know more about Christianity than most Christians do. You want to convince yourself that atheists are atheists because of their ignorance of your beliefs, but in fact just the opposite is true. I know that it’s hard for people like you to accept, but you might keep it in mind the next time you want to talk about your Christianity with atheists. Do your homework first, learn more about your own beliefs and their history. It might surprise you what you could learn if you are willing to do so with an open mind.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A scientific approach would be good as well. Good scientists will try to find the holes in their new theories themselves first, so there’s less chance of looking stupid when someone else does it for them.

          Ditto the thoughtful Christian seeker. That person will want to learn about all those things atheists find embarrassing in the Bible and doctrine.

        • Kodie

          Oh fuck off if you don’t even know a chapter and a verse. You are unhelpful and don’t tell me how to talk to you anymore. You’re a hostile piece of shit and nobody has to respect your beliefs just because you have them.

        • hector_jones

          I hate to use the word ‘delusional’ when talking about Christians because I don’t think Christianity is a mental illness, just a cognitive error. But when I encounter people like Cody I wonder if maybe ‘delusional’ isn’t the right word after all. I definitely feel like I’m talking to someone from another planet when I read her comments.

        • Kodie

          I just love how little one has to know to act like a know-it-all.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (She uses good grammar. That’s refreshing.)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you’re even a modest scholar of the Bible, you’ll know that the concepts have evolved over time. There is no fixed idea of God in the OT.

        • hector_jones

          There’s a topic here? It seems to me like it’s just the random assertions of a christian now.

        • Greg G.

          Mark seems more like an adoptionist theology. Matthew and Luke conflict while John doesn’t say much about how Jesus came to be incarnated, only that the Word became flesh.

        • wtfwjtd

          Cody seemed to be laboring under the misapprehension that her theology of incarnation somehow fully explained the Trinity doctrine. She was trying to use it as a dodge to avoid answering questions regarding evidence confirming Christianity’s polytheism.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, you can find verses that say God is one. Before this point, Judaism was polytheistic. Long after this point, you have Christianity, which was determined to keep monotheism while also adding Jesus and the Holy Spirit (whoever the heck that guy is) to the pantheon.

          I don’t know what the big deal is. Just call yourself polytheistic. You might even get points for being more honest.

        • Kodie

          What I think she is trying to say is she doesn’t understand what polytheism is and defines it as her god is one among many other gods to choose from, like a baseball team*. She doesn’t acknowledge the other teams in the league. A polytheist in her definition isn’t someone who has a religion that is operated by a team of players, but one who acknowledges that all the gods of all the religions exist and only follow their god. She follows her god because to her it is the only god, therefore there are no other gods, and doesn’t have to consider their outlandish claims, only her god’s.

          *A better example might be countries or even planets. If every country were a god, as we live in the world now, we would all acknowledge (as we take my one quick source at face value) 195 gods exist. I live in the god called “United States” but some live in the god named “United Kingdom”, “Japan”, or “Venezuela”, to name a few. In the United States, we have one “god” and 50 elements of that god. These 50 elements are further broken down into counties and cities and towns and neighborhoods, but it is all one “god”. It is not polytheistic in this analogy to have one god contain any multiple of separate elements.

          In codygirl’s system only her “god” exists, maybe that is the US (extremely probable), and the other gods do not exist on the earth, no matter how many people live and work in each one, no matter how many people travel from one to another, etc. It would be polytheistic to acknowledge other countries, but she doesn’t have to acknowledge them because she is monotheistic. She can deny them at will.

        • wtfwjtd

          Maybe you’re right Kodie, kind of like a “god buffet” where you pick the one you like and ignore the rest. I’m beginning to wonder if she really is a Christian though, she informed me above that the theology of Incarnation is a central doctrine of Christianity, and yet she can’t cite a single Bible verse in support of this central doctrine. Odd. It makes me think, is she trying to convince us that she’s a really a Christian,or is she trying to convince herself?

        • Kodie

          I think it is more like a prix fixe. This is what we’re serving tonight. It’s delicious, it’s atrocious, it’s everything you could want in a god. You want choices, go to Burger King and have it your way.

        • CodyGirl824

          I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t pretend to be saying anything about what I mean when giving your own opinion.

        • Kodie

          At this point, it’s really up for guessing. You have been repeating yourself and defending your position without making that in clear language. I am trying to translate your gibberish into English, and if I did a bad job, it was better than yours.

          You’re a monotheist because there aren’t any other gods according to you, but you still don’t tell us how you reject the claims of other gods which you must acknowledge that the claims of them exist. The claim of yours also exists. We don’t deny that there’s a Christian god claimed. When people ask you a question they really want to know the answer, not get a lot of attitude about how we don’t understand.

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, if you go back and reqd the old testament, they certainly believed other gods existed.

        • hector_jones

          When I was young, I read the NT first, then I read the OT. My immediate reaction to the OT after I got past Genesis was ‘wow, why didn’t christianity just chuck this part away? It’s an embarrassment.’ It was painfully obvious to me even then that the god in the OT was nothing like the God they had told me about in church and sunday school.

          How does a christian deal with this? I suppose one way is to just ignore the OT and read a lot of apologetics.

        • Pofarmer

          To be fair, they needed a creation account and a history, or it would just look like another Emperors cult.

        • wtfwjtd

          “How does a christian deal with this?”

          Most of them pick and choose through the OT, buffet-style. Like me, you can’t tolerate this kind of dishonesty, it’s one of the many reasons we aren’t believers.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s what Marcion said. He wanted to discard the OT.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • hector_jones

          Calling Christianity ‘monotheism’ is playing semantic games that are meaningless.

        • Kodie

          Is Jesus praying to his father or to himself? If Jesus is a man on earth saying our father is in heaven, then who is he talking about or to? Nobody gets to the father except through me. Does he have dissociative identity disorder? You want us to refer to the bible for the theology of incarnation, but it’s not very helpful so far.

        • hector_jones

          Muslims disagree with you. And they consider themselves monotheists.

        • CodyGirl824

          And your point is…? There are many points of theology and doctrine that Judaism, Christianity and Islam disagree on, but they are all monotheistic religions.

        • hector_jones

          My point is that Muslims, who are monotheists, consider the Incarnation an absurdity for monotheism. Why should I believe you over them?

          What does this even mean? It’s not a ‘challenge’ for monotheism? It’s not a challenge for polytheism either. Or for science fiction writers. So what? To me it’s just nonsense.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay, I get it. For you it’s all nonsense. So why do you spend so much time talking about it?

        • hector_jones

          Because I’m tired of people who believe this nonsense attempting to control the laws and society in which I live. Plus it truly makes me sad to see large numbers of my fellow human beings believing such nonsense, even if it were harmless.

        • CodyGirl824

          So you merely want the world to know your low and negative opinion of/about belief in God and religion because of politics?

        • hector_jones

          Only if you consider clergyman raping children and advocating for the unchecked spread of AIDS in Africa because your god hates condoms ‘politics’. And only if you entirely missed the second sentence in my comment.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, you inform us that you have a self-righteous and condescending opinion of other people’s beliefs and feel saddened by our beliefs in what you personally consider to be “nonsense.” What wisdom or charity toward others is there in this? Are we supposed to be impressed or threatened by your opinion? Why should it matter to us?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you are here fighting so hard to be heard and understood. If some people don’t believe in god, why should it bother you enough to be so defensive?

        • CodyGirl824

          Defensive? hector has told us how much he abhors belief in nonsense. That’s exactly how I feel about atheism, so we share the same perspective on false beliefs.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, you’re acting like you have a giant chip on your shoulder just to deign to talk to us. Meanwhile, I don’t remember inviting you, you came voluntarily, and with an attitude as if you have something to prove and some reason that it bothers you there are atheists having a conversation on an atheist blog about how stupid you are, not Christians, you personally. But at least you admit you’re a hypocrite.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do you call me a hypocrite since, obviously, you accurately understood my perceptions of atheists’ beliefs?

        • Kodie

          Okay, I get it. For you it’s all nonsense. So why do you spend so much time talking about it?

          Try not to forget the things you say.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll bet hector has strong reasons for that tentative conclusion of his. If you also have good reasons, perhaps we’ll hear of them in due course.

        • hector_jones

          Look into a mirror and read this comment out loud to yourself.

        • Kodie

          Merely?

        • Kodie

          The people who believe it are real, and they would like it if we could all be as wrong as they are by formal policy.

        • Greg G.

          Beliefs inform our actions. Wrong beliefs lead to wrong actions. The US has Dominionists infiltrating the government. They look forward to Jesus returning so much they would start a war to make the Rapture happen. They talk about God and Christians vote for them like they are being led by the Pied Piper. These people are crazy.

          Then there are the foundational beliefs of Christianity that deems the use of condoms worse than AIDS. Christians have lied in Africa that condoms cause AIDS.

          They want to teach abstinence in schools despite its failures.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, sure. God can talk to himself. That’s not a sign of insanity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Lots of non-Christians think that the idea of the Trinity is contradictory nonsense. (Probably lots of Christians, too.)

          You can pretend that the polytheism problem has been put to bed, but I think you’re kidding yourself.

        • Kodie

          You’re saying you don’t acknowledge them at all? You won’t even consider the piles and piles of evidence? Your beliefs seem like kind of a random joke to me. I guess it’s because you believe there’s a god.

        • wtfwjtd

          “I guess it’s because you believe there’s a god.”

          Yes, but which god? That’s what I’m trying to find out, but as you can imagine it’s apparently a very delicate and mysterious subject.

        • Kodie

          It’s obvious that you already filled that slot with something and no longer interested in what your other options are, or why they might deliver the same kinds of evidence or wisdom or whatever you go looking for when you went shopping for a religion.

        • CodyGirl824

          For monotheists there is no “other option.” You either believe in the One God of the Universe or you are an atheist (or agnostic if you haven’t decided yet). Your notion of “shopping for a religion” is rather odd. Is that what atheists think a commitment to a religion is all about? I am a Christian (by choice) because I believe that Christianity is Truth.

        • Kodie

          You are inconsistent about your approach. I do not really argue what monotheists believe. That means there is one god. How you choose that god among many is the other question. How you and Albert are here lecturing us on what the fantastic evidence there is for Christianity is inconsistent with just choosing randomly and repeating what the doctrine says to believe. That is what we’re looking at from you, from your words. There is just as fantastic evidence for all the other religions. The only method you use to reject them is you’re all set, thanks.

        • Albert

          hector_jones, I answered it. Did you see my response somewhere on here? If not, I would be glad to respond again if you would like?

        • hector_jones

          Yes i saw it. It was superficial and unimpressive.

        • Albert

          Did you respond to it? I have not see your arguments as to how it was superficial and unimpressive.

        • hector_jones

          I didn’t respond to it.

        • Kodie

          You were right. Albert never answered the question. Codygirl never answered the question but she thinks she did. Clearly we don’t understand monotheism, that’s how!

        • Albert

          You said, “Isn’t that exactly why you reject the claims of other religions?”

          That is not correct. I reject other religions because they do not fit reality.

          Islam for instance. They hold that the Qur’an is the Word of God and his all authority over anything else. The Qur’an indicates that Muhammad is a prophet supposedly conveying God’s revelations to the masses. If you read through the Qur’an and what it says about Jesus, then you will see that it is confirming that Jesus was who he claimed to be in the canonical Bible.
          If this is true, why would I follow a prophet who is dead and still in his grave, instead of Jesus who both the Bible and the Qur’an say is still alive and well?

          Or Hinduism; the Hindu concept of Maya contradicts the idea one can have knowledge of Maya, rendering Hinduism incoherent and therefore not epistemically defensible. Basically, if all were illusion, how could we know it?

          Something similar might be said of Buddhism in that it denies a durable self.

          At some point, when you look through all of these, they falter in one aspect or another.

          The same can not be said about Christianity.

        • Kodie

          At some point, when you look through all of these, they falter in one aspect or another.

          When you scrutinize their claims with an objective critical eye…

          The same can not be said about Christianity.

          FTFY.

        • Albert

          FTFY – Acronym for “fixed that for you.”
          Often used sarcastically – not to fix an honest mistake, but to sarcastically disagree with someone.

          So then scrutinize their claims. Isn’t that why we are here?

          You, yourself, agreed there were no naturalistic explanation that you know of for a beaten man, crucified and dead to come back 3 days later as if nothing happened.

          So what is your bases for saying that Christianity is false as well?

          You can’t prove the supernatural does not exist, so to assert that it doesn’t is intellectually dishonest.
          You would have to explain what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus that would be strong enough to change his convictions.
          You would have to explain why disciples of the crucified King would go from hiding from the Jews to suddenly be bold and preaching that this King was no longer dead.
          You would have to explain the 9 secular references that mention the Christian’s and Jesus specifically.
          There is a lot to explain away if none of this happened.

          Are you able to do that?

        • Kodie

          You would have to explain what ever person experiences when they arrive at a religious belief, be it Christianity or otherwise. Something must have happened, but why are they all so different?

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’T your statement that someone can’t prove the supernatural doesn’t exist, a tacit admission that you can’t prove that it does?

        • CodyGirl824

          Albert,

          Great response!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I reject other religions because they do not fit
          reality.

          And yet you accept Christianity? (Spoiler: the punch line is that some dude rose from the dead.)

        • Pofarmer

          You don’t seem to understand what constitutes evidence.

        • CodyGirl824

          Pofarmer,

          It is you who doesn’t understand what constitutes evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          How so?

        • Albert

          How do come to that conclusion?

        • Pofarmer

          Because asserting that an event happened,mdoes not provide evidence for that event. Evidence would be something that corroborates thay record from outside ofmthe record advocating the event.

        • hector_jones

          Did you see Cody’s statement that she likes to get the question of her god’s existence out of the way at the start of any debate with an atheist by asserting that her god exists? It was stunning in its arrogance and presumption. Albert’s a piker by comparison.

        • Pofarmer

          Missed that one. Life interrupts my blog life.

        • hector_jones

          I hear you. But it has to be seen to be believed.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are always free to try to convince me that no cause of the Big Bang exists.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe you didn’t read the Remsberg quote.

          “I don’t know of any naturalistic explanations for a man that was beaten
          to shreds, crucified, and died being able to come back to life and
          interact with people as if nothing happened, just 3 days later.”

          If this actually happened, why didn’t someone like Philo of Alexandria, who was at court at the time and writing about things, report it? Why didn’t Josephus say something about it in one of his writings, when he writes about other minor Jewish sects? There is a very easy naturalistic explanation, you just don’t want to comprehend it. Once again, “TruthSurge” on You tube has an excellent series called “Excavating the empty tomb” that is excellent on this.

        • Albert

          You said, “why didn’t someone like Philo of Alexandria, who was at court at the time and writing about things, report it?”

          Um… I don’t know.

          Does the fact that Philo didn’t write about something mean it never happened?

          That’s rather bad logic don’t you think? I bet there is tons of things we could read in other books outside of the Bible during that time that Philo didn’t write about. But based on your logic, none of that happened either, right?

          You said, “Why didn’t Josephus say something about it in one of his writings, when he writes about other minor Jewish sects?”

          You are meaning Flavius Josephus, right? If not, who are you meaning specifically?

          If yes, then he actually does speak about Jesus.

          “And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus… Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned” [ Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 Text at Wikisource ]

          As far as your Youtube video, I’m going to have to look at it later. I have no ability to do that at this time.

        • Pofarmer

          That josephusassage is pretty widely viewed as an interpolation. Josephus was an observant Jew his whole life, for starters.

        • Pofarmer

          The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

           
          Josephus
          Philo-Judaeus
          Seneca
          Pliny the Elder
          Suetonius
          Juvenal
          Martial
          Persius
          Plutarch
          Justus of Tiberius
          Apollonius
          Pliny the Younger
          Tacitus
          Quintilian
          Lucanus
          Epictetus
          Silius Italicus
          Statius
          Ptolemy
          Hermogones
          Valerius Maximus

          Arrian
          Petronius
          Dion Pruseus
          Paterculus
          Appian
          Theon of Smyrna
          Phlegon
          Pompon Mela
          Quintius Curtius
          Lucian
          Pausanias
          Valerius Flaccus
          Florus Lucius
          Favorinus
          Phaedrus
          Damis
          Aulus Gellius
          Columella
          Dio Chrysostom
          Lysias
          Appion of Alexandria

           
          Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

          Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place — when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

        • Pofarmer

          Now apply that skepticism to your own story. It’s “The outsiders test for Faith” formalized by John Loftus.

        • hector_jones

          Pofarmer, I try this kind of argument on Christians all the time, trying to get them to see that they apply one set of standards to all faiths other than their own (more or less the same standards we atheists apply to all of them), but apply no critical standards at all to their own faith. They never seem to understand this problem at all.

        • Albert

          What is this critical standard you are speaking of?

          Are you meaning that you first start with the presupposition that the supernatural doesn’t exist?

        • hector_jones

          Notice how right now Albert’s friend Cody is doing exactly this – being asked to apply the outsider test for faith and refusing to do so by claiming it’s all a red herring. The cognitive impairment is extreme with this one!

        • Kodie

          And the snotty attitude! I love when Christians dictate what the topic is and what it isn’t so they can jump out of the way and not confront the questions.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah, she was an especially obnoxious breed of Christian, that’s for sure. The term ‘self-righteous’ was tailor-made for her.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why are you speaking about me in the past tense?

        • hector_jones

          Because I asked you in a comment ‘so are we done?’ and you said yes. But stick around if you want to. It’s not up to me.

        • CodyGirl824

          I thought that Bob Seidensticker is the one who dictates the topic here. Not so? “500 witnesses to the risen Christ: 9 reasons why it’s not likely.” Isn’t that the topic? Now I learn that any Christian who comments here is to expect to be required to “pass” the John Loftus Insider-Outsider Test of Faith. Who made this rule?

        • MNb

          Tsssk – strawman. If you want to convince us that there is any reason to prefer christianity to any other religion, ie show us that your arguments pro christianity are valid, then you have to pass the JLIO Test indeed. If you don’t want to do so we shrug you off, like we shrug Sparkling Moon off.

        • hector_jones

          I’ve shrugged off Sparkling Moon so well that I only recently realized he’s a Muslim not a Christian 😀

        • Kodie

          I think you ought to take a look at where you started and why we are commenting you at this point in the conversation. You never addressed the topic at all. If that is your strict rule, then you ought to shut up or get all the way back to the OP. Otherwise, stop telling me what kinds of questions I’m allowed to ask you.

        • Pofarmer

          Yup.

        • CodyGirl824

          I highly recommend Chapter 6 of the book “True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism” edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer (2013). It is by David Marshall and is titled John Loftus and the Insider_outsider Test for Faith. Marshall points out on p. 77 how the OTF is based on “…a fundamental misconception of how Christians understand other faiths.” This is exactly what I see operating here in your questions to me.

          However, we have made headway in your statement that you don’t believe that the Pauline letters are fiction.

        • hector_jones

          So how do you understand other faiths? Until now you’ve called it nothing but a red herring to even consider this question.

          John Loftus was for a long time a devout evangelic christian. I doubt he has a ‘fundamental’ misconception of how christians understand other faiths. He knew very well how christians understand other faiths when he developed his challenge.

          Saying that I don’t believe the Pauline letters are fiction doesn’t mean I think they prove the truth of Christianity. I don’t think your posts in this thread fall into the genre of ‘fiction’ either, but they don’t persuade me of anything.

        • CodyGirl824

          As I said, hector, I don’t expect you to be persuaded of anything. I consider your acknowledgement of that the fact that the Apostle Paul’s letters are not fiction to be a step forward since this opens up the possibility of examining Paul’s letters as testimony, which is on topic. Why do you think Paul would lie about his knowing about 500 living witnesses to the risen Christ? Why would Paul risk his reputation with the newly forming Christian communities of faith by making a claim that could easily be checked out among his contemporaries? Which of the 9 reasons that Bob gives for doubting Paul’s testimony do you find most convincing, assuming that you doubt that Paul was telling the truth?

        • hector_jones

          Except that we have been examining Paul’s letters as testimony this whole time without branding them fiction. I don’t know why you would think otherwise seeing as how Paul’s letters come up in these threads on a daily basis.

          It’s the gospels that I brand as pure fiction. Not all atheists agree with me though. Some are willing to go as high as 18% truth within the gospels. Impressive, wouldn’t you say?

        • MNb

          If this 18% is calculated in terms of verses it seems pretty high to me.

        • hector_jones

          It’s kind of a joke reference to a conference of biblical scholars that once held a vote that resulted in a finding that 18% of the gospels can be considered historical. I don’t know the exact details and I could be wrong about the 18% figure. I think there are other regs here who do know the details though.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          18% of the quotes of Jesus are authentic, as calculated by the Jesus Seminar? Perhaps something like that?

        • Greg G.

          That would be the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar organized by Funk, et al. There may have been three seminars. In one, they voted on passages describing the acts of Jesus. In another, they voted on which of the sayings of Jesus were likely to be authentic. One scored 16% and the other scored 18%.

          One that they deemed to be authentic was Mark 2:23-28, where Pharisees pop up in a grain field (John Meierwrote that it sounded like something from a Broadway musical) to challenge Jesus and his disciple for doing something on the Sabbath, as if Pharisees had nothing better to do on the Sabbath. Jesus then gives an example of David going into a tabernacle and eating the showbread on the Sabbath from 1 Samuel 21. However, Jesus has completely misread the passage as Jesus did not have companions to share it with, he didn’t enter the tabernacle, the bread had already been removed, and it doesn’t say David was there on the Sabbath, either. Furthermore, the Pharisees would have pointed out that the incident resulted in God allowing the whole village being slaughtered in the next chapter. To me, it seems like one of the most absurd stories in the gospels. It seems more likely that Mark misread the 1 Samuel passage and invented the story.

        • wtfwjtd

          This was a group of around 100 Christian scholars, wasn’t it? And even among this group historical material in the gospels was voted at no more than 18 per cent.

        • Greg G.

          I think RM Price was on it so I don’t think they were all Christian, at least that wasn’t a requirement.

        • wtfwjtd

          I thought I recalled Price being part of that. IIRC, he thought that 18 per cent was too generous, and thought the number should be somewhat lower. I’m reading his “Shrinking Son of Man” (2003) now, and he’s already discounted much of what goes on between Jesus and John the Baptist as later Christian revisionism. Fascinating stuff.

        • Greg G.

          TISSoM arrived in the mail yesterday. Though I was aware of the title for a long time, I had never seen the book. The bits I have scanned look interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s a great, well-researched, and thorough resource, I know you will enjoy your journey through it.

        • CodyGirl824

          This comment illustrates the real challenge of atheism. You have to accept that the Apostle Paul’s letters are not fiction, as well as that the establishment of Christianity is not a fiction, while claiming that the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection are fiction. This is a really difficult balancing act because the people to whom Paul wrote his letters believed both Paul and the gospels.

        • hector_jones

          I find it the easiest thing in the world to accept the letters of Paul as not fiction while not believing in Jesus’s resurrection.

          Just as you and I both find it the easiest thing in the world to not believe in the Thetans of Scientology, even though we know that L Ron Hubbard existed and even wrote letters to people who believed in him and in Dianetics.

        • CodyGirl824

          The real issue here is this: Why did the recipients of the Pauline letters find Paul and the gospels believable? If they hadn’t, they would not have become or remained Christians, especially when facing or enduring persecution.

        • hector_jones

          You consider this the ‘real’ issue? This is an admission that you don’t find the letters of Paul or the Gospels that persuasive on their own. You are basically saying there were people back then who believed, so that helps you to believe. Belief by proxy. The resurrection isn’t so convincing after all huh?

        • CodyGirl824

          No, I have not said this. You have said that Paul’s letters are not fiction but you claim that the gospels are fiction. I’m asking you to tell me why YOU think that the communities of faith that Paul wrote his letters believed in what Paul said and what the gospels say. But you realize, of course, that if the early Christian church communities had not believed in and practiced Christianity when and where they did, there would be no Christianity today. I believe in the Resurrection based on my analysis of the evidence that comes to us through the testimony in/of the New Testament.

        • hector_jones

          You seem to believe that the letters of Paul were written to people who had already read the gospels as we have them. All scholarship today concludes that the gospels were written some time after the letters of Paul. I don’t see where this line of questioning is supposed to get us.

          I also stated quite clearly that though I do not consider the letters of Paul to be fiction, I do not believe his claims about Jesus either. Why is this so hard for you to grasp?

          I believe that there were early christians who believed this stuff at the time of Paul’s letters. So what?

        • CodyGirl824

          Here I see a glaring mistake on your part. “Reading the gospels” requires a written text. Hearing the gospels through their strong and vibrant oral transmission is quite another. Yes, the communities that Paul wrote to may not have had a written text of the gospel, but if/since they were Christian communities, they knew the Gospel (with a capital G) and based their faith on the Gospel.

          So what? So explain why they became Christians. Explain Christianity in light of your rejection of the truth of the Gospel/gospels. I recognize, of course, that this is no small task.

        • wtfwjtd

          “since they were Christian communities, they knew the Gospel (with a capital G) and based their faith on the Gospel.”

          How is this possible? An overwhelming majority of scholars date Paul’s letters in the 40-55 AD range, and the first Gospel, Mark, wasn’t written until 70. How could Paul’s churches have seen these Gospels?

        • CodyGirl824

          I pointed out the difference between gospels that were “seen” and “read” versus the Gospel being heard. Surely you understand that the manuscripts of what is now the four canonical gospels were transmitted orally among the early Christians. What’s the problem here? How can the early Christian churches that Paul wrote to have been Christian without knowing the Gospel? This is a complete oxymoron.

        • wtfwjtd

          “How can the early Christian churches that Paul wrote to have been Christian without knowing the Gospel? This is a complete oxymoron.”

          Well, you said it, not me.

        • hector_jones

          Surely you understand that the manuscripts of what is now the four canonical gospels were transmitted orally among the early Christians.

          This point is heavily disputed today. At one time the ‘oral tradition’ view of the gospels was very much in vogue, but it’s been crumbling away over the years as better analysis and understanding reveals the essential literary, not oral, character of the gospels we have, and shows that previously accepted theories of how oral transmission might have worked are wrong.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t accept this statement as an accurate representation of any biblical research but it requires that you explain why there were active Christian communities such as the ones to whom Paul directed his letters in the pre-textual gospels years? How did these communities learn about Jesus Christ if not through oral accounts? There is ample evidence of a strong and vibrant oral tradition in Judaism. Again, see the book True Reason.

        • hector_jones

          Your mistake is assuming that the oral accounts circulating among early christians are THE accounts that wound up in the gospels that we have today. You can’t assume it, you need to prove it. Go ahead.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, I assume that the gospels that were recounted in the gospels are the same accounts because that is the oral tradition of Judaism, with careful attention to accuracy and fidelity to the oral and later, written, text. Of course this cannot be proven since we don’t have any recordings of oral transmissions and recitations of the gospels to compare to the written text. Who says we can’t assume this based on the significance and process of oral transmission of sacred text in Judaism?

        • hector_jones

          I know you assume it. And you are wrong to do so. You assume far too much, in everything you say. You basically just assume you are right about everything you believe.

          What process of oral transmission of sacred texts in Judaism? You just admitted you have no evidence of what this process was or how it works. And as I pointed out in another comment, the theory of how it works that was most widely accepted in New Testament studies has fallen on hard times. This is due to many studies that have been done by researchers studying oral transmission in other contexts, which show that the process is nothing like what you imagine it to be, as well as scholarly work that is proving quite convincingly that the gospels we have are purely literary creations and not based on oral originals at all. You reject that. Why should I care?

          I’m glad to read in one of your other comments that you deplore nonsensical beliefs as much as I do. It’s too bad you have a worthless methodology for distinguishing a nonsensical belief from a sound one.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you mean by a “purely literary creation”? I don’t know what scholars you are talking about. I am basing my understanding of the oral tradition of the gospels in part on the work of Randall Hardman, Chapter 16 of the book True Reason: Confronting the irrationality of the New Atheism edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, pp. 225-254. This chapter has 71 footnotes and references to other scholars as well.

          You have provided no evidence or reasoned arguments to support your claim that my Christian beliefs are nonsense.

        • hector_jones

          I am overwhelmed by your Christian humility. It’s really quite touching.

        • CodyGirl824

          How is Christian humility different from atheist humility? A question of existence, perhaps?

        • Kodie

          It’s in your fucking doctrine:
          http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Humility

          We don’t have a doctrine.

        • CodyGirl824

          …and so you resort to profanity to make up for it.

        • Kodie

          No, you behave in a hostile manner, so I treat you as hostile. You are also stupid and presumptuous.

        • Kodie

          How could I forget: arrogant. Let’s stick to the topic.

        • CodyGirl824

          Now after a string of insults peppered with profanity, you want to return to the topic? And you call me hostile? Obviously, ours is not a model of a cordial ecumenical relationship.

        • Kodie

          That flew right over your head. Weren’t we just talking about Christian humility and how you have none? I gave you 66 chapters and verses.

        • wtfwjtd

          But CodyGirl, you don’t even seem to know what those Christian beliefs are. You do seem to know a little about what you believe, but can’t seem to tell us why you believe it. Once again, are you trying to convince us that you are really a Christian, or are you trying to convince yourself?

        • CodyGirl824

          Whatever do you mean in saying that I “don’t seem to know what those Christian beliefs are”? I have told you what I believe in: Christianity as the Truth, and why I believe it: based on my analysis of the evidence. I suppose you just have to take my word for it that I’m a Christian. What’s your problem with this?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Whatever do you mean in saying that I “don’t seem to know what those Christian beliefs are”?

          Above, I asked you a simple question about providing scriptural backing for what you called a central doctrine of Christianity, the theology of Incarnation, and you can’t give me a single reference. I can only assume from this that you just hadn’t realized that Christianity is polytheistic after all, and just can’t bring yourself to admit it?

        • Pofarmer

          You need to read something other than apologists telling you want to hear. Don’t read the rebuttal, read the author.

        • Greg G.

          What do you mean by a “purely literary creation”?

          I have provided biblical evidence that Paul got everything he knew about Jesus from scripture and have provided the Old Testament verses that has the information he tells us about Jesus. Paul explicitly tells us he didn’t get anything from “oral tradition”. As Albert pointed out in his initial post that Paul uses the same word for his “appeared to” that he uses for Cephas and the 500 and James, so I agree with Albert that Paul doesn’t think their “appeared to” was any different than his own but I reject the Damascus Road story from Acts in favor of the description from Paul himself. So that means Cephas was the first to read about Jesus in the scriptures as the revelation of long hidden mysteries which means he was not an illiterate fisherman.

          I have provided a link that combines the work of various scholars that each show that certain passages in Mark are derived from the literature of the day. Combined, they show that everything Mark says Jesus did was done by someone else in the literature. I have shown several correspondences between Paul’s writings and Mark that shows Mark’s dependence on Paul.

          Since Mark created the deeds of Jesus from literature and the other gospels repeat those deeds, they also must be based on literary creation.

        • hector_jones

          What I specifically meant by ‘purely literary creation’ isn’t that the gospels are fiction (though I believe they are) but that they were composed in the way that all literary works of the time were composed – by someone sitting down at a desk with scroll or papyrus and stylus, or perhaps a helpful slave to take dictation, and wrote the work down as an original work, as the term ‘original’ would have been understood at that time, using a combination of other literary works, acquired knowledge, literary conventions of style and structure, and creative imagination, as sources for a work that was intended by the author to be read as something new.

          This is to contrast it from the ‘oral tradition’ idea which is basically that the author just sat down and copied out verbatim an oral account that he had heard elsewhere and memorized, with a few changes here and there perhaps, to spruce things up.

        • CodyGirl824

          You seem to be really confused about how the gospels, separately and individually, came about. It really doesn’t matter though, since this is a fact: the gospels are the testimony of people who knew the living breathing Jesus as to what they personally experienced of his life, his ministry, his trial and execution, and his resurrection from the dead. All your theorizing about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John “sitting down at a desk” to “compose” the holy scriptures of Christianity is meaningless.

        • hector_jones

          Your beliefs are meaningless, Cody.

        • CodyGirl824

          To you at least.

        • hector_jones

          To everyone except you.

        • CodyGirl824

          How do you claim to know this? Are you omniscient?

        • hector_jones

          I read.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the gospels are the testimony of people who knew the living breathing Jesus

          That’s a very bold claim. I need evidence.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This is interesting. Is this hypothesis that oral transmission isn’t really (or exclusively) how the gospels evolved in the early days summarized somewhere? So this assumes more early gospels, like Q but unknown?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Especially since we have evidence that the early accounts were not always the bits that survived to become the Christianity we know today. I’m thinking of the Marcionites, Ebionites, and Gnostics. One theory is that proto-orthodox Christianity (Bart Ehrman’s term for the strand that eventually won out) was not an early concept but was actually cobbled together in the second century.

        • wtfwjtd

          “How did these communities learn about Jesus Christ if not through oral accounts?”

          Uh, through Paul, maybe?

        • hector_jones

          You have no idea what the early Christians had for a gospel or what they knew. The glaring mistake is on your part.

        • CodyGirl824

          Hey, if you don’t even believe that the communities of faith that we call the early Christian churches were really Christian (i.e., believers in Jesus Christ), then who was the Apostle Paul writing letters to?

        • hector_jones

          I never said that the early communities of faith that we call the early christian churches weren’t believers in Jesus Christ. Where on earth did you get that idea?

          I’m really baffled, but admittedly highly amused, by your need to assert the point that early christians were christians. What do you think is at stake over this point?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          i.e., believers in Jesus Christ

          Aside: that’s quite a broad definition of “Christian.” It doesn’t bother me, but some Protestants wouldn’t like pulling the Mormons into the fold, as this definition would.

        • Albert

          hector, I completely agree with you on this point. That isn’t the real issue here. Paul made a claim. And that claim was that 500 people saw Jesus at the same time. Regardless if people believed him or not, that doesn’t change the claim or it’s validity.
          The validity of that claim, I believe, is what is being discussed here. Would you agree?

        • hector_jones

          Yes the validity of the claim is what’s being discussed. Do you have anything to add to your dozens of comments about the validity of Paul’s claim? If not why are we still discussing this?

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, and there is zilch to indicate that claim is valid.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t suppose you’ve read Richard Carriers”not the impossible faith”? He deals with all that in great detail.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s like you can’t imagine anyone converted to a new religion.

          How do you think new religions form?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why is this a difficult balancing act? Seems trivial to imagine stories developing in an oral culture over time. No one’s lying, but they’re all mistaken. Then the story that comes out the other end gets written down. It continues to change, and different gospels record different snapshots at different times and places.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, “different snapshots at different times and places” is the nature of testimony, which is what the gospels are. But they are all testimony “snapshots” of the life, teachings, death, resurrection of the living, breathing Jesus.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, but I was responding to your claim that atheism has a tough challenge in explaining the epistles and the gospels.

          Sounds like we’re now on the same page.

        • CodyGirl824

          My comment still stands. Why is it that the people (the early Christians) who Paul wrote his letters to believed Paul and believed the gospels and atheists do not?

        • Kodie

          Someone has a double-standard.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I dunno. Why does anyone find a religious argument convincing? There’s a lot of ’em out there, so whatever explains the Scientologist’s belief might well answer your question.

          The interesting thing here is your “the real challenge of atheism” comment. This is an Achilles heel of sorts? I’m completely missing it. What is this thing that is nearly impossible to explain with natural explanations?

        • wtfwjtd

          Why did the citizens of Germany find the message of Hitler so compelling? Why did people of other countries find the message of Nazi Germany abhorrent? Differing points of view perhaps, or something deeper?

        • MNb

          Even more interesting: why did Ludwig Assner, Josef Römer, Helmut Mylius, Erich Kordt, Georg Elser and Erwin von Witzleben (all Germans) think Hitler’s message abhorrent?

        • MNb

          “Why do you think Paul would lie about his knowing about 500 living witnesses to the risen Christ?”
          Selfinterest – to make his case stronger and himself more important.
          Selfdeceit – he convinced himself it happened.
          Hallucination.

          “Why would Paul risk his reputation ….”
          Begging the question. Show that he risked his reputation, especially in a community that was totally used to all kind of supernatural claims.

          “Which of the 9 reasons ….”
          All of them.

        • hector_jones

          Succinct.

        • CodyGirl824

          All 9 reasons? Now there’s an astounding depth of analysis: I’m sure Bob Seidensticker is pleased with this.

          Why do you assume that the communities of faith that Paul wrote his letters to did not need to be convinced of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection? This is a rather strange thing to assume since they themselves were not witnesses to the resurrected Christ. They had to take Paul’s word for it, so his credibility was at the core of the matter.

        • hector_jones

          So you aren’t going to answer my question of how you understand other faiths? Ok then.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul could lie about 500 witnesses because there wasn’t any real way for anyone to check. They were 100’s of miles from the events and 20-40 years extant in time. And why would it matter if some did check? Those who are going to believe are going to believe and those that won’t, well, won’t.

        • Greg G.

          There may have been 500 or so people who became Christians before James and Paul. The problem is that Christians read the three contradictory Acts appearances as what Paul meant by “appeared to” when it was more likely they were just having a Eureka moment that some out of context verses could be read as “long hidden mysteries”.

        • hector_jones

          Exactly. This could really be all that Paul means when he talks about the 500.

        • Pofarmer

          Truth surge thinks that the phrase the 500 and the 12 is a later addition, and originally it just reads appeared to Cephas and James. It sort of makes sense because it’s the only passage that mentions other apostlez.

        • wtfwjtd

          Robert Price makes a similar case, saying it’s a cobbled together laundry list to satisfy various factions of Christianity in an attempt at unity.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah I’ve argued elsewhere that it could be interpolation or an emendation for a much lower number. Only when reading with Christian Goggles(TM) on can one even begin to believe that it proves a resurrection.

        • wtfwjtd

          And as we have so laboriously pointed out, even the gospel writers themselves didn’t think it was persuasive information, so why should anybody else?

        • Greg G.

          I mentioned to BobS that the crowd that formed in Capernaum in Mark 2:1-2 could be a representation of the 500. Hector’s point that it could have been a smaller number is good but it could also have been a vague number like a crowd. Just speculating out loud, not making an argument for that case.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The arguments from apologists that this section appears different and therefore could’ve been an early oral creed inserted can also backfire, as you suggest.

          If it looks out of place, maybe that’s cuz it was added later.

        • wtfwjtd

          While they were all gathered together speaking in tongues, perhaps? Have you ever been around any of this? Wow, talk about crazy…

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why do you think Paul would lie about his knowing about 500 living witnesses to the risen Christ?

          Are those the only two options? (1) There were 500 eyewitnesses and (2) Paul said that there were 500 eyewitnesses, but he ways lying.

          Others come to mind for me …

        • Pofarmer

          The problem you have here, is that many of us are ex chriatians.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and many of us are trying to confront the irrationality of Christianity.

        • hector_jones

          I take comfort knowing that the numbers of christians are dwindling each day, though I take no credit for that. It would be nice if someone were to tell me that my arguments somewhere helped that person abandon christianity but that has never happened to me and I don’t expect it ever will.

          Some day I think there will come a tipping point where it will be seen as more embarrassing than not to admit publicly to a belief in christianity, much like we have seen with racism and are seeing with homophobia. I don’t know whether I will live to see it, however.

        • CodyGirl824

          Your wish to see any person abandon his/her Christianity is diabolical.

        • hector_jones

          I would expect no other reaction from a religious lunatic like yourself. It’s of no concern to me. At least you didn’t use any profanity. That might have sent me to the fainting couch, clutching my pearls.

          I’ve read far too many accounts from former christians turned atheist who are nothing but thrilled with having escaped from the shackles of christianity, to consider my wish anything but humanitarian.

        • CodyGirl824

          hector, your arrogance is showing! What makes you think that you know what is right and true for other people in this most personal and intimate component of their lives, their religious/spiritual faith? If you choose atheism for yourself, so be it, but to seek to destroy another person’s faith in God is, as I said, diabolical.

        • hector_jones

          I didn’t choose atheism. It’s where the evidence took me.

          It’s not diabolical to free people from their chains. It’s essential. But if you want to remain shackled, I will never seek to force you out of your chains against your will.

        • CodyGirl824

          What we have here is merely your opinion of/about Christianity, not its truth. And of course you chose atheism, of your own free will.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you searching for truth, or are you just attempting to shore up what you believe? Because you’re not listing the correct authors to be actually searching.

        • hector_jones

          Again, go look in a mirror Cody, and read your comment out loud.

        • hector_jones

          What do you think your repeated assertion that I chose atheism of my own free will proves? You seem to think it’s important enough that you had to repeat it, as if you know anything about how I became an atheist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or as if she could define ‘free will’ to save her life (even people who aren’t hampered by superstition can’t come up with much).

        • MNb

          You’re right. We atheists are diabolical, ie incarnations of the devil.
          And you are a polytheist.

        • Pofarmer

          Me, me, me!!!!!!

        • Peace

          Quite the opposite. We atheists rejoice when a new brother or sister joins us by casting off the shackles of religion.

          I hope reason one day reaches you, before you realize how much of your life was wasted on a lie.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is so pompous, arrogant and self-righteous. “The shackles of religion” you say? You merely express your condescending and uninformed opinion and snobbery toward other people’s way of life and worldview, while not offering anything rational or coherent since atheism is, as many atheists declare, simply a lack.

        • Peace

          You imply atheists lack a way of life and a worldview, where this is simply not the case. One does not need a religion to have either of these things.

          Christianity damages and warps (these are apt terms, open any history book and the damage religion can cause and justify is appalling) ones worldview and way of life into something it wants, but it does not do so out of nothing. Hence when christianity is removed, a worldview and way of life remain. It is just no linger based on christianity but based on the person.

          You also say “condescending and uninformed opinion”. Neither of these is accurate. I do not view my worldview as superior, though I do view it as less harmful to society. I am also far from uninformed on the subject of religion, and my statements is not an opinion, but derived from looking at history and readying hundreds upon hundreds of testimonies of people who had religion destroy their lives or the lives of people close to them.

          “shackles of religion” is an accurate phrase. Like shackles, religion holds back progress and limits the potential of so many people. It reduces mankind as a whole to the status of a slave, and when those of us who have figured out how to take off these shackles see people like you who not only wear them but wear them with pride and try to convince others to wear them, it causes us pain because we have empathy and want to see you freed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When someone has cholera, modern medicine doesn’t replace it with something else; it removes the disease. It’s simply a lack.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well-stated Peace! This mirrors my feelings as an ex-believer perfectly.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Because you never encourage people to change their beliefs?

        • Pofarmer

          Well it’s already happened in much of Europe. I mean. Look at that hellhole of Switzerland with 2% church attendance.

        • wtfwjtd

          Don’t underestimate yourself Hector, you never know how or when exploring the truth might have a positive effect on someone’s thinking. De-conversion is a process that takes time, sometimes years; it’s not something that happens overnight, normally. As a non-believers, we are merely facilitators of the truth, we can’t really persuade anyone to give up their faith. Rather, Christianity itself is what ultimately de-converts people, as people learn the truth about its history, origins, and false promises.

        • hector_jones

          Oh I know. I’ve never expected someone to de-convert on the spot just because of something I said. I’m just hoping that something I said might have helped them along the way, but I have no way of knowing that it did.

          I read a comment over at Ed Brayton’s place a little while ago that I found interesting. One commenter who is a mental health practitioner in the deep south said that he has long noticed that when he really gets into it with his patients, they admit to a far far higher level of agnosticism and atheism than is reflected in the statistics. I think this highlights that the real goal of atheists has to be not the de-conversion of zealots like Cody, but to show the silent fence sitters that it’s perfectly safe to admit to yourself that Christianity is nonsense and you can abandon it. This is how we will finally reach the tipping point where enough people will realize that they don’t have to hand over any power to people like Cody.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve heard that too, there’s a poster here who’s handle is Ozark I believe that is also a MHP and has said largely the same thing. Like Pofarmer has said, I look to Europe for inspiration, and even our neighbors to the north, Canada, have shown us that once a “tipping point” is reached, more and more people get less and less afraid to admit their lack of faith, and this can happen in a relatively short period of time. We can only hope, anyway…

        • hector_jones

          You know what? I think Ozark is the person I am talking about. Though I’m pretty sure the comment I read was at Ed Brayton’s blog. It would make sense that he posted similar comments here, but I just haven’t seen them.

          I actually live in Canada, so I can confirm that the situation is indeed different here. But I lived for a time in the US and have friends and family there, and the overall power of the US in the world causes me a lot of concern about the domination of US politics by christian interests.

          Also, Canadian conservatives have a very bad tendency to absorb any bad right wing ideas that they can get their hands on from the US. For instance right now the Canadian government is starting to obsess over the issue of ‘voter fraud’ even though it has never been an issue in this country before, and there is no evidence that anything has changed that should make it a concern now. BUT it has become a big concern among conservatives in the US for purely partisan political reasons that have nothing to do with Canada. And now Canadian conservatives are making it an issue here. So it concerns me a great deal just how much religion matters in US politics. I want to keep it out of this country.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was looking at some polling data awhile back, and noticed now that those who identify as “Christian” has dropped below the 50 per cent mark in Canada, which I thought was fabulous. And, it happened in relatively short period of time, going from something like 59 per cent to 45 percent in less than 10 years. Hope!

          “Canadian conservatives have a very bad tendency to absorb any bad right wing ideas that they can get their hands on from the US.”

          Yeah, sorry about that, there are fanatics who do their best to export the US brand of crazy to the rest of the world, and Canada because of its close proximity comes in for more than its fair share, I’m sure.

        • Pofarmer

          If you read Eric Hoffers book, you’ll kind of see how the Evangelical crazy is so attractive.

        • wtfwjtd

          I know all too well from personal experience, obsessive-compulsive people are drawn to religion like moth to a flame. The worse the OC behavior, the more radical the dogma they seem to seek out. It’s a frightening thing to behold when it’s up close and personal.

        • Greg G.

          Some of the laws and rituals for the priests in the Old Testament look like they were written to justify OC behavior.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a good point Greg, and thinking of Catholicism with its “Hail Mary” stuff, that’s tailor-made for the OC types. Protestantism has its own substitutes, but it is usually manifested in controlling some kind of behavior, like alcohol consumption or sex.

        • Kodie

          And to justify themselves, they must create neuroses in everyone. We’re the crazy ones, not them, see? I love how they think that feeling of guilt comes from god, letting you know you’re being immoral, but they are outright informing people of things they need to feel guilty about, extraordinarily guilty and not just a little twinge – panicked! That means it’s working, god is real, god doesn’t like these behaviors!

        • hector_jones

          I once read a comment from an atheist in the US who was saying as he was growing up, his grandfather, a retired minister, lived with him and his parents. He said the grandfather, in spite of his long, respected life as a minister, lived in constant fear of going to hell. He spent his childhood watching this man slowly drive himself insane with his constant fretting over the possibility that one small slip up might send him off to the firey regions for eternity, even though by any objective standard he’d been a decent man. It was clearly an important lesson to him as a child about the harm that religion does.

        • Greg G.

          I recall reading that too.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, it wasn’t me that said it originally, but I lived a similar experience watching my father die some years ago. That man could out-Jesus anyone alive, and yet, as he was dying it all seemingly meant nothing to him. In fact, he was tormented by the fact that he felt he just never quite measured up, and now at his death he wouldn’t be able to ever make it right. This is astounding to me, I fully believe this mental anguish caused by his religion was fully as great as, if not greater, than the horrible physical pain he was enduring. It was a horrific spectacle that has haunted me day and night since.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m really sorry to hear that. My wifes family, Catholic, does the same thing. And it’s encouraged to feel guilty and unsure. You should always be questioning, always be praying, always be asking for Gods forgiveness and Mary’s guidance. It’s a horrible way to live and I’ve tried to explain to my wife why I’m opposed to it, but she doesn’t quite get it. But, let me give you an example here. My neice is 19. She is going to Junior college. It’s about 20 minutes or so from where she lives. While in class or going to class, she had an allergic reaction to Cashews. Puffed up like nothing you ever saw. What does she do? Calls her Mom. Her mom comes, 20 minutes, and they are trying to decide what to do. Someone in a health class sees them and says , ” you need to go to the clinic.” The fucking health clinic is right across the fucking street from where they are, and it’s free for students for routine stuff. And I’m thinking , what the fuck, you’re 19, in college, and can’t make the decision alone to walk across the fucking street? Behavior like that is taught, and it’s so clearlt detrimental.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, that story is a good illustration of your point about dependency. Any sane person would have been getting her to a clinic ASAP, not later, but *now*.
          I would only add, from my personal experience, this piece of advice: always try and be yourself in life. Drop the pretenses, and the games, as much as possible, and try and live as transparently and as honestly as you can.

        • MNb

          Holy shit (the catholic version), Nietzsche was right saying that christianity is slave morals. My son was 16 and could make harder decisions on his own. I recommended him to continue studying Spanish; after carefully listening to me he rejected it and too a course economy instead (I still think I was right).

        • CodyGirl824

          And of course atheists feel no anguish about not measuring up to an articulated moral standard because they have nothing to measure up to.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s easy for you to say Cody, because you’ve never been there. Try walking a mile in someone else’s shoes before denigrating them too much. You never know, you might learn to actually become…well, more Jesus-like, if that’s at all important to you.

        • hector_jones

          It’s just the standard ‘morality only comes from God’ argument. It’s been debunked about a million times. Not worth engaging.

        • CodyGirl824

          Apparently you have not understood the argument regarding morality. Atheists themselves define atheism as simply a lack of belief in God/god/gods. What paradigm for moral reasoning stems from a lack of belief in God?

        • MNb

          Yawn. I have read the “you don’t understand” rebuttal only a gazillion times before. Never mind it’s a logical fallacy (poisoning the well). Your very question shows you are the one who doesn’t understand.
          Jeremy Bentham
          Peter Singer.

        • Kodie

          There is no comparison with religion. You simply misunderstand atheism as if there is a doctrine. You have a doctrine. A lot of the morality you follow comes from plain human empathy, and a lot of it comes from someone’s ass and is arbitrary. We get ours from regular human empathy as well, and don’t have any bullshit doctrine to dictate to us arbitrary rules. People who aren’t psychopaths (like, say, need a doctrine to know right from wrong) can tell when we’ve made someone mad or predict that what we must do will make them sad and take a gentler approach. People who need a doctrine are without god as if they would go straight to behaving like a wild beast. If you can’t control yourself without god, that means you’re already a wild beast. How do the rest of us contain ourselves? We’re not psychopaths.

        • Greg G.

          Ethics and morality come from a desire to live in a better world. That requires a personal responsibility to do one’s part to make it a better world. Humans are not the only social animals that have an innate sense of fairness. So when others trust us to help make a better world for them, they will help make a better world for us.

          Christianity is bad for this as it removes personal responsibility, relies on a moral system that is two or three thousand years out of date, and pretends that prayer helps.

        • Pofarmer

          Morality is an evolutionary feature coupled with human emotions and intellect. Humans have an emotion called empathy which means that we can guess what other people are feeling and feel it to. Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. It’s the core of morality, and it’s much older than the bible. The scary thing is when religion, or another mass movement shuts it off, as you have with your atheist bogeyman. Morality is very much a human created institution.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What paradigm for moral reasoning stems from a lack of belief in God?

          Bingo! That’s why I hate chemistry–it gives no basis for moral reasoning. And as you observe, atheism has no definition of morality, and atheists must go elsewhere for their morality (secular humanism, for example).

          And don’t get me started about the nonexistent economic policy and fashion recommendations that one gets from atheism …

        • MNb

          Do you know what I like so much about christians like you? I never have to wait too long before you start to confirm my prejudices. See, until now I didn’t have an opinion about your lack of intellectual honesty, simply because I didn’t know you well enough. But look! Only a few minutes after I read your defense against wtfwjdt’s accusation you confirm he is right.

          “because they have nothing to measure up to.”
          That’s simply a lie. Just look up Jeremy Bentham, and Peter Singer.

        • CodyGirl824

          Please point me in the direction of an official articulated moral code and paradigm for moral reasoning of atheism.

        • MNb

          Aren’t you capable of comprehensive reading or aren’t you capable of googling?
          Jeremy Bentham.
          Peter Singer.
          Look them up.
          Wherever.
          They have not only pointed in that direction, but actually walked the entire road.
          Sorry, I don’t feel like discussing atheist ethics today. Perhaps another time, another place.

        • CodyGirl824

          It’s okay that you don’t feel like discussing atheist ethics because there’s no such thing to discuss. Are the authors you list the official atheist statement of morality and ethics for atheists?

        • MNb

          Are you malevolent or just stupid? I guess both.

          “because”
          A non-sequitur you immediately confirm yourself by talking about “atheist statement of morality and ethics”, something only possible because you recognize that there actually is atheist ethics. The word “official” is as meaningless as your god and your entire belief system, because atheists unlike you are capable of thinking for themselves and hence don’t need officials. They read, think and decide for themselves.

        • CodyGirl824

          In other words, atheists have no reference point for moral decision-making other than themselves. This is why the concept of “atheist ethics” is so problematic.

        • hector_jones

          Christians are on no firmer footing – their god is imaginary and their holy books are the work of deeply flawed men. Indeed Christianity is on an even weaker footing, because it refuses to self-examine and to change as new information and understanding emerges. It clings to the misunderstandings of its ancient, flawed founders.

          I find arguments about the superiority of christian morality boring. Even as a child I realized that christianity didn’t have a monopoly over questions of right and wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Not only is this supposed source of objective morality not objective (witness the 42,000 denominations within Christianity), but the Bible is full of support for things (slavery, genocide) that Christians today proudly admit are bad. Weird.

        • wtfwjtd

          Is this just willful ignorance on your part? Atheists get their morals from the same place you do–from the society around them, and the shared experiences of mankind. Empathy-based ethics is on far firmer ground than any imaginary “absolute morality” that Christians claim, and they never can demonstrate where this “absolute morality” comes from.

        • Kodie

          Ourselves and other people. There is no doctrine of “atheist ethics,” i.e. because I’m an atheist, I do this when that happens. It’s none of it from atheism, so get that stupid thought out of your head. It is 100% from human empathy. So problem solved. Easy enough for you? Or are you still confused by simple things?

        • MNb

          Ah, this is much better. You’re even right. I never said the concept of “atheist ethics” is easy; I claimed that smarter people than I have thought about it and written books. Though it’s possible to expand the “no reference point ….. other than themselves” a bit: there are 7 billion other people on Earth besides me. Realizing that is called humanism. Now I’m not exactly a humanist, but it is a starting point.

        • Kodie

          You seem to persist in the misapprehension that atheism follows a prescribed set of beliefs, or without a set of beliefs, we have no source of morality. You don’t know where empathy comes from so you repeat idiotic bullshit from your own faulty doctrine. Is that how nice you are to others? Is that how you learned from your god and your doctrine how to treat other people?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s okay that you don’t feel like discussing
          atheist ethics because there’s no such thing to discuss.

          … and yet atheists have ethics.

          This seems to be a new revelation that there is no central atheist doctrine of ethics. I’m surprised (I’m surprised that this would be new to you or that you’d think that you were showing us something new), but I’m glad we’ve been able to share that at least with you.

        • Kodie

          That would be a doctrine, you idiot. If you are so impulsive that you think god keeps you tamed and nothing else, then the world is probably better off that you are a believer. The rest of us don’t need a doctrine to learn how to behave well with others. You are a child.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Richard Dawkins is our pope. What more do we need?

        • Kodie

          We have no doctrine to measure up to. We still have to live in this world and get along with others. It’s called “empathy” – even other animals besides humans have it.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know what, that’s just beyond the pale, and abjectly uninformed and stupid. Do you have any idea what percentage of convicted criminals are atheists? Do you have any idea of holding YOURSELF to a high moral standard?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is there an objective moral standard? I’ve seen zero evidence. What is confused for an objective moral standard is, it seems to me, a shared moral standard (shared since we’re all the same species).

        • CodyGirl824

          Religion doesn’t cause pain. Religion is an abstraction, a belief system. This man suffered pain due to his understanding or interpretation of religious teachings.

        • wtfwjtd

          The spectacle of your complete and utter lack of empathy is really nauseating, but hardly surprising, and something I have unfortunately come to expect from many “Christians” like you. I repeat, try walking a mile in someone else’s shoes before heaping your righteous condemnation on them. The person you end up “saving” just might be you.

        • hector_jones

          Cody has really done a piss-poor job of spreading her religion around here. It’s not just the weak and bizarre arguments, but the utterly repulsive personality that she presents here that destroys her credibility as a witness for christianity. She has all the charm and compassion of a member of the Afghan Taliban.

          I’d almost chalk her up for a POE if it weren’t for the fact that the bizarreness of some of her points could only stem from an excessive reading of christian apologetics.

        • CodyGirl824

          You resort to ad hominem rather than address my arguments. You seem to think that it is a lack of compassion to question whether or not a person’s pain is caused by his religion rather than a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his religion. I really don’t think that this blog’s purpose is to invite people to “spread religion” but to attack and denigrate people of faith. My purpose is to demonstrate the irrationality of atheism, which has not shown itself to be a balm to the soul of people who suffer from a misunderstanding of Christianity and prejudiced attitudes toward Christians.

        • hector_jones

          “You resort to ad hominem rather than address my arguments” – ah, the hallowed cry of the internet debater who no one can take seriously!

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s just it, you have no arguments. You come here, and start talking about your central doctrines, get asked about them, and then dodge the questions. That’s a prime reason most of us here are atheists, because we grew tired of those kind of intellectually dishonest games.

        • CodyGirl824

          Intellectual dishonest games? Asking you to read the Bible to discover the meaning of a central doctrine of Christianity? Perhaps what you are describing is simply your aversion to tackling theological questions. Why don’t you just summarize your interpretation or understanding of the theology of Incarnation? That could be a departure point for further discussion.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re a regular comedian Cody! I have read the Bible, obviously a lot more than you have. Like I said, you can drop the charade, I know the games you are playing to avoid having to answer the hard questions about Christianity, because you know you can’t answer them. Been there, done that.

        • Kodie

          Asking someone to read the whole bible to discover a segment of it that you brought up and you hope to gain leverage in the discussion IS THE DEFINITION OF INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST. You brought up a central doctrine, you were asked where in the bible to find this central doctrine, your answer is “the whole thing”. Good golly, you don’t know, you’ve never read the damn thing.

        • Kodie

          You’re doing a piss-poor job of demonstrating the irrationality of atheism, and condescending to people who have arrived at atheism after rejecting the claims of your religion, among others, but usually the prominent one, which is yours. It’s abusive nonsense. Your measure of the effectiveness of your religion is that it helps a lot of people feel happier, and that it may, but not because there is a god. You are making that conclusion based on no premise. Many people are also made miserable by the effects of clinging to your religion and you take no steps to address that other than to blame other people. If people can become happier by believing in a god, they can also be made more miserable by believing in a god. That is not a misunderstanding. If you are as much of an asshole as you are and you don’t feel guilty, and you’re preaching to us about our sense of ethics? If that is the religion that makes people happier, then I don’t know who is better off with it really. You’re a psychopath if that’s your sense of ethics.

        • hector_jones

          Definitely. If Christians like Cody are going to argue that Atheists should be cutting them some slack not because their religion is true but because christians enjoy it, then they absolutely must address the problem of people whose lives have been harmed by it. They cannot simply dismiss the harm as incorrect religious views. This is like arguing for the legality of heroin by saying ‘but so many people enjoy it! anyone who ODs didn’t die from heroin but from misuse!’ I’d love to see a christian make that argument.

        • Kodie

          Good parallel. I’ve heard some great things about heroin.

        • wtfwjtd

          “My purpose is to demonstrate the irrationality of atheism”

          I guess she thought she could demonstrate this by shitting all over dead people’s graves and denigrating the loved ones they left behind. As well as, of course, dodging questions about her faith when they got a little uncomfortable. Yea, mission accomplished, atheism sure looks irrational next to CodyGirl’s Christianity, doesn’t it?

        • CodyGirl824

          How much do people usually pay you for your psychiatric services, Kodie?

        • Kodie

          You resort to ad hominem rather than address my arguments.

        • hector_jones

          Why? You in the market for a shrink?

        • Kodie

          We’re satisfying her goal of completing her persecution badge this weekend.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          😀

        • Kodie

          And you continue to exacerbate the pain. Your lack of kind morality from your doctrine is noted. You care more about yourself and how much better you are than this poor old man who died, inflicted with the guilt placed on him by religion. You are a turd in the pool of humanity.

        • CodyGirl824

          Obviously his grandfather did not understand or believe in the Christian doctrine of salvation. This is not religion’s fault.

        • hector_jones

          If only you’d been there to save his grandfather from himself, Cody! His grandfather was a retired minister btw. I get the distinct impression that the only person who really understands anything about anything is CodyGirl824.

        • CodyGirl824

          Where do you get this idea? I think it is tragic when someone misunderstands their religion, which the person her or himself has chosen, so that it is a source of pain and anguish rather than a source of joy, comfort, peace and freedom. Billions of people find their faith in God and their religious/spiritual lives to be a pathway to happiness and personal fulfillment. I most certainly do, so why are you surprised when I share your concerns about someone who doesn’t? I do not believe that you can say that if this man had been an atheist, he would have had a happier, more fulfilling life.

        • MNb

          What Hecor Jones means, but formulates politely, because he is not a nasty guy like me, is that you’re an arrogant bitch to claim you understand that minister’s belief system better than that minister himself, someone who had a good education, has read the Bible his entire life and earned his money with it. Moreover you’re a lousy hypocrite for wasting your time here instead of going out on internet offering your help to your cobelievers who actually still are afraid of hell. That’s not an ad hominem because I thoroughly have backed up my accusations.

        • hector_jones

          You weren’t sharing your concerns about the poor man’s fate. You were trying to score a point against me personally by insisting that it was a mere misunderstanding that was to blame for his situation, not religion. You were defending your religion, not expressing concern for the man. You are disgusting.

        • Kodie

          Billions of people are crippled with the belief that they need a crutch to lean on – that doesn’t mean it’s not a lie.

        • hector_jones

          Or that the crutch they’ve chosen isn’t made of rubber.

        • Greg G.

          Or that religion doesn’t break your leg so you need the crutch. They invent the concept of a soul, the concept of hell, plus an imaginary cure for the imaginary broken leg.

        • wtfwjtd

          ” No true Scotsman! He was a minister his whole life but he didn’t really believe! If only he’d been as good as I am, then…” Holy Fucking Shit, I’d like to say I’m surprised, but sadly I’m not.

        • MNb

          Then you have work to do. Why do you waste your time here? Nobody of us atheists is afraid of hell, I can assure you.
          Just google “fear of hell”, “afraid of hell” and “scared of hell” and you’ll be busy for a while.
          I wish you good luck.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Obviously his grandfather did not understand or believe

          So you’ve got it all figured out? Apparently this man (and perhaps his denomination of millions of people) disagree with you.

          You’ve got an ambiguous holy book. Seems a bit presumptuous to say that you’re the final arbiter.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, this is a tragic anecdote about a man who was tormented by his interpretation or understanding of hell. There are billions upon billions of Christians who are not tormented in this way by the concept of hell. This kind of psychological and emotional reaction to a religious concept appears to be to be pathological. It cannot be the doctrine itself that causes this since such cases are unusual, an abnormality or psychosis. This man was in need of healing, not atheism. I am not a “final arbiter” of anything here. I’m simply using common sense, something I highly recommend that you try sometime.

        • Kodie

          There are billions upon billions of Christians who are not tormented in this way by the concept of hell.

          Are you omniscient? Your perception and lack of personal responsibility here are disgusting. You say there’s a real god and he wants us to be joyful and disgusting like you?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bob, this is a tragic anecdote about a man who was tormented by his interpretation or understanding of hell.

          Oh, I get it. Christianity can cause mental anguish—yep, I totally get it.

          There are billions upon billions of Christians who are not tormented in this way by the concept of hell.

          Some fantasies cause torment, and some don’t. Yes, again we’re on the same page.

          It cannot be the doctrine itself that causes this since such cases are unusual, an abnormality or psychosis.

          Huh? I have no idea how you can get from this case to the conclusion that he must’ve simply had the incorrect view of your religion.

          This man was in need of healing, not atheism.

          Ah, the proper false belief is the answer, not no false beliefs. OK, got it.

          I am not a “final arbiter” of anything here.

          Good to hear that we agree. I wonder then why it seems like you’re saying that you’ve figured out that your view of hell is correct while this man’s was not. Couldn’t be the other way around?

          I’m simply using common sense

          You’ll have to highlight this in the future. Maybe with an asterisk or something. I haven’t seen much.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Interesting. The stories I more often here are of children growing up with hell just around the corner, freaked out when they’re startled awake by a noise, thinking that Armageddon has started and they’re stuck back on earth.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh yes, fear is an ever-controlling factor, religion has learned to cultivate and use it quite effectively. When you keep people feeling guilty and ashamed, it’s a way to keep them coming back for more. And yet, people like Cody have a superiority complex, they think they are far superior morally to us godless heathens, simply because of their beliefs. I found it ironic, in the end it was her, and not us, that resorted to deceit and intellectual dishonesty in pursuit of making a point. It was a graphic reminder to me of one of the reasons why I abandoned my faith, I got tired of the unethical charades and dishonesty, for starters.

        • CodyGirl824

          What “deceit and intellectual dishonesty in pursuit of making a point” are you talking about? Surely you recognize this as an ad hominem fallacy since you attack my character rather than address (or even specify) my arguments.

        • wtfwjtd

          Keep reading Cody, I responded in the part where we were “discussing” the theology of Incarnation, or rather, where you refused to discuss it. If you can’t find it let me know and I’ll re-state it for you.

        • CodyGirl824

          As I remember the conversation, I suggested that the claim that Christianity is polytheism is based on a misunderstanding of the theology of Incarnation. You asked me for specific Bible passages that articulate this theology. I suggested that if you don’t know the theology of Incarnation (which I think could be the cause of your thinking that Christianity is polytheism) then you should read the 4 gospels, i.e., do your own homework. Is this what you call a “refusal” to discuss the theology of Incarnation?

        • hector_jones

          Satan, angels, saints, Mary – the christian claim that it is a monotheistic religion has more against it than just the problem of the incarnation.

          What’s funny is that none of this matters to atheism. It rejects polytheism too. It’s only within the febrile imagination of the christian that monotheism is deemed to be a superior form of religious belief over polytheism, so the label must be clung to at all costs, the facts be damned. I just sit back and laugh.

        • CodyGirl824

          Atheists who argue that they reject monotheism for the same reason that they reject polytheism leave Christians scratching our heads, having drawn the inevitable conclusion that atheists don’t understand monotheism so they reject what they don’t understand. It is not so much about monotheism being a “superior religion” (which we think it is: It is the interpretation of the prohibitions against idolatry in monotheism that concern us, and the fact that we share common ground with atheists in rejecting polytheism, a possible departure point for some fruitful discussions.

        • hector_jones

          You come across as someone whose head has been scratched right down to the nub.

        • Kodie

          You don’t need to dabble in idolatry to answer the original question which was how do you methodically reject the claims made by other religions? Your method is you already picked one. THE END.

          That’s a silly way to pick from all the evidence, but we understand you completely.

        • hector_jones

          Crucifixes, ikons, statues of of the virgin mary that allegedly weep real tears – don’t tell me that christians don’t indulge in idolatry.

        • Kodie

          I never try to mix them up but you’re correct. If a cross or a monument or a plaque is taken down, it’s like killing someone. I mean, seriously, we can erase all signs of Christianity and they should be satisfied that they still have their one and only true relationship with the lord. That’s what the 1st commandment is about, it’s not about a statue so the rest of us have to look at it in school.

          But I meant more like, she doesn’t have to believe Shiva or whatever is a real god to tell us what about Hinduism was not convincing. She doesn’t have to believe in any gods outside of Christianity to tell us her method for determining the evidence is insufficient compared to the evidence she has for Christianity. She doesn’t have a method. Every believer in the whole world that believes something other than Christianity, which is the majority of theists, must have some reason they feel secure as she does in their beliefs. Instead,

          Codygirl’s method is following one doctrine until she gets to the emotional transition that affirms that the path was correct. Once you think you know god, you don’t need to turn back and try the others, I get it. But then you have no platform to suggest your evidence is better than anyone else’s. They feel the same way about their gods and they think the evidence for Christianity is insufficient.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course some Christians “indulge in” idolatry. That’s why it’s prohibited.

        • hector_jones

          Some christians? Every christian church I’ve been to has at least one crucifix. That’s some prohibition you got there. Think before you post.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, explain to me what you think idolatry is and why idol worship is bad in God’s eyes, as expressed in the Ten Commandments.

        • hector_jones

          You’re the christian. You tell me. See if you can make it interesting.

        • Kodie

          Idolatry is not only worshiping another god, it seems to be acknowledging that they exist, even as claims of believers for the sole intellectual purpose of comparison. Just comparing the claims is against your religious beliefs of monotheism.

          It can also be that one is fixated on the 10 commandments statue itself, and needs to have it placed here and there to remind the heathens who is really in charge – not god, no, but the Christians themselves. They worship political power over god. God says this is a no-no, but they rationalize it away. Your god is a possessive god, and how they prove their monotheism is aggrandizing themselves in political power.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s easy–’cause God said he’d strike you dead for doing it, right? And why? Just ’cause, that’s why. His words, not mine.

        • Greg G.
        • CodyGirl824

          Would you rather discuss theology with someone who is still “shopping around” for a religion? Then perhaps you should go to a Religion Shopping Mall website.

        • Kodie

          I would rather you answer a question, I would rather any Christian, when asked a question, not to make it such a chore for the person asking the question. You picked a god out of a hat and settled for its doctrine. What is there for us to discover that differs from the claims of every other religion on earth? How about that question?

          You will not be able to distinguish your beliefs from other beliefs, nor the claims, nor the amount or the quality of the “evidence”, nor the resulting happiness, not one thing.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, I repeat, monotheism is the deification and worship of the One and Only God. The One and Only God is not just some god among many to be picked out of a hat. The “claims” made about God (the One and Only) are statements of human’s diverse and sometimes conflicting but always limited understandings of the One and Only God. It’s really not such a difficult concept to grasp.

        • Kodie

          Diverse and sometimes conflicting but always limited and it’s not so difficult to grasp. Gotcha.

        • hector_jones

          I’d be more impressed if I thought you had actually shopped around before making your purchase, instead of just driving around in the car your parents bought for you and yelling at all of us that it’s the best car ever and we are fools for not taking your word for it.

        • Kodie

          You’re the one who brought it up, asshole. If you think you’re being helpful by telling people to hunt for passages all over the bible, you’re mistaken. Nobody needs to read that shit – you made a claim and now you are lying your ass off to avoid answering a question. It’s not anyone’s “homework” except yours.

        • CodyGirl824

          Am I incorrect in assuming that atheists who engage in discussions of Christian theology have read the New Testament for themselves and don’t need for me to point out relevant passages? This is also a question for wtfjtd.

        • Kodie

          Non sequitur, intellectual dishonesty. You brought it up. You were asked to cite just one passage that directs us to the right place. Not hundreds, not the whole book. Back up your claims, you silly nitwit. I haven’t read the bible, but other atheists have read the whole bible thoroughly – that is beside the point. You can’t back up your claim so you make it our responsibility to look into providing evidence for your goddamned claim by telling us to read thousands of pages..

          Can’t you tell what an asshole you are? I mean, Jesus must be the only one who loves you.

        • CodyGirl824

          What claim do you think I am making? Let me clarify. I and every Christian I know of do/does not consider Christianity to be polytheism. Christianity is monotheism. The theology of Incarnation is at the core of Christianity. There is not just one passage of the NT on which the theology of Incarnation rests or resides. The entire ministry of Jesus Christ and the reasons why Christians believe that he is the Messiah must be understood through the theology of the Incarnation. If you don’t want to or haven’t read the NT, then just look it up on Wikipedia!

        • Kodie

          Why should I look it up when you’re here not answering questions you should know the answers to if it’s so important for you to bring it up?

          You weren’t asked for every passage, you were asked for a place to begin. You were actually asked to introduce somebody to learn what you’re talking about and then you treat us like a problem you don’t have time to solve. I don’t care what you or every Christian think of multitheism or whatever. I don’t have an issue with that concept. I have an issue with you being an asshole to people who did ask you to follow up on something you introduced to the conversation, and maybe you could be less of a Christian about it and hop to forthwith. It’s your doctrine, your claim, your belief, back it up.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, the theology of Incarnation is not my claim. It is a claim of Christianity. That’s why I refer you to the authoritative source, not just my interpretation.

        • Kodie

          It was your claim. You are Christ’s representative, and I think if Jesus were here, he would pick out the pertinent passages. That seems like what he would do. You are acting like the moody OT god, who would just as soon strike us all dead than answer a question.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The theology of Incarnation is at the core of Christianity. ”

          And yet you claim to be a Christian and can’t provide one single verse to to substantiate it. Some Christian you are.

        • CodyGirl824

          John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

          Now, do you think this one verse gives you the theology of the Incarnation? This is why I have asked for a summary of your understanding of this theological concept.

        • wtfwjtd

          Good for you Cody, you finally Googled it! Still the theology of Incarnation does nothing for your assertion that Christianity isn’t polytheism, even in John 1:14 we have the Father and the Son from the Father. That’s two separate gods right there, and we haven’t even talked about the Holy Spirit and Mary yet.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is not what Christians believe. See for example, the Nicene Creed: “…And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” One substance = one God.

        • Greg G.

          But the epistles say that he didn’t become the son of God until he was resurrected.

          Romans 1:4 (NIV)
          and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

          Paul seems to have gotten the idea from Psalm 2:7.

          Mark 1:11 seems to think Jesus became the son of God when he got baptised and Mark also quotes part of Psalm 2:7.

          How are we supposed to get your point when we don’t know which parts you ignore to develop your opinion? You have to point out which parts of the Bible you are emphasizing.

        • CodyGirl824

          You do understand the difference between the Pauline letters and the four canonical gospels, right? And you do seem to get the connection between the OT and the NT since you claim that Mark and Paul based their theological understanding of the Messiah in the OT. These are important relationships.

        • Greg G.

          I think Paul’s theology is based on the OT for two reasons: he says it is and everything he says about it can be found in the OT.

          I am not so sure about Mark. I think he may have been writing an allegorical story about the reason Jerusalem was crushed. He borrowed from Jewish and Christian sources. Paul was one of his Christian sources. Mark didn’t seem to understand some of the stories in the literature. If you carefully compare Mark 2:23-28 with 1 Samuel 21:1-9, Mark has Jesus completely misunderstanding the story. David did not have companions to share the bread with, David did not enter the tabernacle, and it probably wasn’t the sabbath. It would have been a poor example for disobeying the sabbath because the incident resulted in the death of 85 priests and everyone else in the village.

        • Greg G.

          The theology of Incarnation is at the core of Christianity.

          I don’t think that is right. The core of Christianity is the Resurrection.

          1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NRSV)
          12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

        • CodyGirl824

          Read carefully. I said “at the core,” not the core.

        • Greg G.

          If it is at the core, then it is the core. If it is not the core, it is outside of the core. I can’t read what you meant unless you type what you meant.

        • CodyGirl824

          Here is a short list of theological constructs that are at the core of Christian theology: Incarnation, Salvation,
          Redemption, Repentance, Forgiveness, Suffering & the Cross, Resurrection, Eternal Life.

        • wtfwjtd

          Real helpful Cody, thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe there is a really big core

        • Greg G.

          As it turns out, it was a big core. She thinks all of Christianity comes from Incarnation and that anybody would get that from reading the gospels. It’s not uncommon for Chritians to think their personal beliefs (or what has been brainwashed into them) is the one true Christianity. They don’t realize that the church down the street says something else.

          When she finally cited John as the basis for that, I cited Romans and Mark to show that Paul and the Synoptics have different theologies than her reading and that she was ignoring those.

          One of the other parts of the core is Salvation. Here’s what that is about:

        • Kodie

          The entire ministry of Jesus Christ and the reasons why Christians
          believe that he is the Messiah must be understood through the theology
          of the Incarnation.

          That’s what you said.

        • CodyGirl824

          There is a relationship between the Resurrection and the Incarnation embedded in the theology of Incarnation. But then, Kodie are you really interested since on another thread you expressed you rejection of theology as “all made up” so why bother asking?

        • Kodie

          Right, he was sent to earth and then he got called back to his home planet. That doesn’t make him the same person as god.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I and every Christian I know of do/does not consider Christianity to be polytheism. Christianity is monotheism.

          Obviously. We’re simply giving you a gentle challenge by noting that many non-Christians think that that is bullshit.

          One but three? Three but one? You seriously expect us to treat that as precious and noble doctrine? At least the honest Christians spin it that it’s a mystery, they don’t understand, and they’re eager to do so in heaven.

        • CodyGirl824

          Apparently you have a problem with certain symbolic and metaphorical representations of God. Why should this concern Christians in the least?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          My bad. I thought Christians were trying to evangelize their message. I was giving you feedback on that project, but if that’s not a project of yours, then my critique is indeed irrelevant.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, you are incorrect. You bring up the doctrine, you provide at least a verse or two of scripture to back it up. Simple, no?

        • Pofarmer

          It’s kind of common courtesy to point put passages or sources which you are using to make your point.

        • MNb

          Wtwjtd is not arguing with you here, hence he doesn’t address your arguments, hence he doesn’t use an ad hominem. He uses his impression of you to illustrate a point. Whether it’s a good illustration is another point. To me that doesn’t matter too much, because I have met such intellectual dishonest morally superior christians in abundance myself.

        • Kodie

          Ad hominem is not simply insulting another person. Your arguments, the deceit and intellectual dishonesty, have been called out elsewhere, or can you not read? This is just a fact, a relevant fact. If he had said you’re wrong because you’re ugly or even wrong because you’re a mean old asshole, that would be ad hominem.

        • MNb

          It seems to me that organized religion started that way – as an instrument to keep large populations in control, especially in cities. In small tribes of hunters/gatherers it’s more check and balances – the priest and chief controlling each other.

        • wtfwjtd

          “It seems to me that organized religion started that way – as an instrument to keep large populations in control”

          Yes, it’s very effective for that, especially when you can use the government to throw in coercion and violence against those who question or disagree with it.

        • hector_jones

          I think this is probably true, though it may have started earlier even under tribes and bands.

          Every group of people has within it people who think they should be in charge and that things should be done their way. It’s probably natural for people who feel that way and who also believe in gods to start thinking of their personal drive for power as the gods speaking to them or urging them on. So they declare themselves prophets and insist that their demand for control is really a demand from the gods. You wouldn’t disobey the gods would you? And so organized religion is born.

        • Kodie

          Religion: how one man’s pet peeves become the law of god.

        • MNb

          Someone should look systematically at it, but it is my impression that evangelical priests far more often refer to the OT than old-timey catholic and protestant priests do.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh, Evangelical preachers love the OT all right,…at least, the bits that they get to pick and choose.

        • hector_jones

          That’s my impression as well.

        • Pofarmer

          Catholics have their special Catechism to teach from. They only give lip service to the bible, really. When you have your church doctrine, that is longer than the bible, you might be a bit OC oriented.

        • wtfwjtd

          “You might be religiously OC oriented if…”

        • hector_jones

          There are some religions out there where the entire religion seems based in OC behavior. I can’t remember the details offhand because I haven’t studied them in a long time, but iirc there have been Indian religions that put so much emphasis on the precise details of performing a ritual that even the tiniest mistake meant that the ritual had failed to do its magic and had to be started all over again. God is a stickler.

        • wtfwjtd

          The devil is in the details, as they say…er, I mean, as god says.

        • Greg G.

          Didn’t the monks who were Bible copyists have rules like that at some point?

        • hector_jones

          You mean regarding copy errors? Perhaps some did, but I think it varied a lot depending on the circumstances. We do have plenty of ancient manuscripts that have minor corrections that were plainly done in the hand of the original copiest, and I vaguely recall one where modern scholars realized that a fancy bit of artwork at the top had some unusual features because it was partially designed to cover up a mistake in the text. I wish I could remember the details of that so I could refer you to more information, but I’m afraid I can’t remember enough about it right now.

          I do recall that even the Romans had some rituals that were considered so important that they had to be started over again if something was done incorrectly, but this wasn’t common and was mostly the case for state rituals that applied to things like declaring war and the like. Again, I wish my memory of this was better. If I can find a source to point you to I’ll let you know.

        • MNb

          That’s fabulous indeed; in The Netherlands that percentage was 46% in 2009 (plus 10% others), while in 1998 it was 51% (plus 9% others). The percentage of atheists and agnosts has been stable for the last 40 years or so: each 14%. The gap consists of “ietsists” (explained on Wikipedia).

          “export the US brand of crazy to the rest of the world”
          Yeah, it has flooded into Suriname as well. Fortunately – especially for me as an open atheist – the people seem remarkably unreceptive.

          http://abengcentral.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/klaaskreek-school-in-suriname-closed-over-church-dispute/

          Not all Full Gospel Churchs are that extreme, but my ex-wife has lost a brother suffering from diabetes due to evangelicalist faith healing.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, think about something. The last person officially executed for heresy by the Church was, I think, in the 1850’s. They ran the magdalene laundries with impunity into the late 19 fucking 90’s. That is lot of power. The Church, in it’s various iterations, has held not only the theological, but the actual power of life and death. Catholics still teach heresy and apostasy and believe me, they would punish for it if they could. I just hope we can make progress. My biggest concern is that we need to come up with a moral and social code to replace religious dogma.

        • wtfwjtd

          I only recently learned of the laundry slave ring, I was kinda blown away that this abuse was ongoing until so recently. Maybe it’s still going on somewhere, who knows? Yes, we do need a replacement for the dogma, but other societies are doing it so we know it can be done.

        • Pofarmer

          Sinead Oconnor was in one. She has an appearance on sat night live where she rips up a picture of the pope. The song is called “war”. It’s powerful, and it got here pretty much blacklisted.

        • wtfwjtd

          I had no idea. But in the Church’s twisted world of ethics, she’s the bad person huh? Yes, shoot the messenger, ignore the message, that fits right in with Church dogma.

        • hector_jones

          Thing is, I doubt the Church had much to do with her blacklisting in the US. It was surely the doing of weak-kneed media bosses who just didn’t want to have to deal with the controversy – an example of how religion receives a ridiculous level of deference even by non-believers and agnostics that it hasn’t earned on the merits.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s on youtube.. but yes, how could she be so horrible to tear a picture of the Holy fucking father.

        • wtfwjtd

          hector, I was listening to this old REO tune a few years ago, and realized that it described how I felt about “breaking up” with Christianity perfectly:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o51baQWH5Ec

          Especially the 2nd verse: You said we’d work it out, you said that you had no doubt, and that deep down we were really in love
          Oh, but I’m tired of holding on to a feeling I know is gone, I do believe that I’ve had enough….

        • hector_jones

          I’ve had it easy. For me christianity was like a girl that I went out with on a couple of dates – we both soon realized that we didn’t have much in common or much of an attraction to one another, so no one was the least bit upset when we stopped calling each other.

        • wtfwjtd

          Lucky you! One advantage I did gain from the experience though, at least I knew early on where I didn’t want to go in life.

        • CodyGirl824

          “…hand over power to people like Cody”? What power is it that you think I have, pray tell? “Fence sitting” in any person’s spiritual life is merely an unwillingness to make a commitment. People who are Christians have made a commitment to a religious/spiritual discipline and practice of worship within a community of faith. Atheists’ need to dissuade people from such a commitment is inane and based purely on their own bigotry and arrogance, much of which is an expression of cultural snobbery.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Atheists’ need to dissuade people from such a commitment is inane and based purely on their own bigotry and arrogance

          (1) Lots of atheists just don’t care.

          (2) There’s no symmetry here? Christians’ carrying out the Great Commission® is not inane? You’ll have to explain that to me.

        • hector_jones

          I said people ‘like’ you. I feel that far too many people who are like you have power. I never said a word about you having any power. You really are a liar or a fucking idiot.

        • Kodie

          Hard of reading comprehension and self-absorbed. Who has cultural snobbery?

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator.

        • CodyGirl824

          I have yet to see any atheist posting here take up the challenge to talk about what monotheism deifies.

        • Kodie

          Nobody cares? You have a stated mission to learn nothing and behave as if you know everything. Monotheism deifies everything and makes you stupider than you would otherwise be and say wrong things. Are we done here yet?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is this interesting? Sounds like a boring homework assignment.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I take comfort knowing that the numbers of christians are dwindling each day

          Well, in the West anyway. Still, I take comfort in that fact as well.

        • nakedanthropologist

          You helped me finally leave Christianity with your thoughtful and nuanced commentary of bob’s articles . I waffled for a long time, but reading about the actual history of Christianity, the bible, and christian apologetics/rebuttals has helped me immeasurably to see a clearer picture of what is. I thank you and all the other thoughtful and impassioned commentators on this blog for that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s great to hear of someone who was able to move beyond Christianity. Has there been any downside? Any backsliding?

          An ex-Christian friend of mine was just telling me how he still feels drawn, as if by instinct, to prayer.

        • nakedanthropologist

          I think for me the hardest thing was moving past the fear of hell/divine punishment and telling my mother, who is a devout Catholic (though socially liberal). I’m 30 years old (soon to be 31) and my parents insist that atheism is just “a phase” because “I haven’t lived enough”. In their minds, because I am not married and do not have children, there is no way I can truly comprehend God’s grace. It’s very condescending, not just because of my age, but because I’ve also dealt with a potentially terminal illness since I was two. I’ve been blind, experienced chemotherapy for 15 years, and have had plenty of life experiences besides. I’m not a child. I think that’s been the most frustrating thing for me – dealing with the typical atheist via christian stereotypes: that I’m just in denial or being arrogant. My transition from theist to atheist was excrutiating – I agonized over it for months. It was a realization that I came to lightly – and I was so afraid! But gradually, my fear lessened, and by reading apologetic arguments, more science articles, and so on my ease with my own atheistic position grew. I’m still a newbie to all of this, but I must say, after the fear phase, my awe, wonder, and sense of freedom in the universe intensified to the point of euphoria. While painful at times, my deconvertion has been a positive change in my life. Although, for the first few months I had to stop myself from making the sign of the cross when something startled me while driving!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–that’s quite a story. Yet another case study showing the harm of Christianity.

          It seems to me that your experiences gives you more authority to speak about meaning in life than most people of your parents’ generation.

          If you listen to podcasts, Bob Price’s “The Human Bible” is a great source of the background of the Bible and Christianity. For more depth, Price’s “Bible Geek,” Mark Goodacre’s “NT Pod” and “Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean” might be interesting.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Thank you for the recommendations! I’m a cultural anthropologist, and I love learning about people, religions, and history. I would also like to express my appreciation for your blog and your book, Bob. I have found both to be very helpful and informative – and thank you for your kind words. Things have been tense between my family and I lately, but I’m hoping that it will pass (hopefully sooner rathr than later).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Cultural anthropologist as a hobby or as a profession? Either way, sounds interesting.

          Thanks for the positive feedback! Authors don’t get much of that.

          Best of luck with the family dynamics (that’s useful fodder for an anthropologist, perhaps?). It may simply be a matter of everyone knowing what topics to avoid at the Thanksgiving table.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Profession – I work with domestic and sexually abused youth, and study the dynamics and implications of their (various) realities. The family thing is weird, and my anthropology-fu can only take me so far ;-).

        • Pofarmer

          Good luck. You say your Mom is a devout Catholic. A lot of Catholics tend to wrap up everything they are into their faith. They are a Catholic first. I still can’t understand that mindset, but it’s very prevalent. I’m sure you already know this.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Yes, it can be difficult – especially since there’s such a strong cultural component with most Catholics. My mom’s Catholicism is very much I twined with her ethnic and family identity, and my father converted to Catholicism for her and us (the kids). Once I started having serious doubts about the veracity of my own faith, I also began to realize just how much of daily life and experience was filtered through the “god glasses”. I know it’s jarring and difficult for them to understand, and I’m trying to be as patient and gentle with them as I can.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you have siblings? Where are they on this issue, and are you out as an atheist to them?

        • nakedanthropologist

          I have one younger brother who identifies as an agnostic. It’s pretty disappointing to my parents, now that we both identify as non-theistic.

        • nakedanthropologist

          My brother is agnostic – he’s very much into “not picking a side” even though he doesn’t believe in god(s) either

        • Pofarmer

          Hey. FWIW, I’m a fairly recent deconvert as well. Just started really feeling comfortable thinking of myself as an Atheist, although I have probably functionally been one for a couple of years. My wife is a devout Catholic so to say that is has caused some stress is an understatement. Be glad you don’t have that added in. Just be the best person you can be, and let your actions speak for themselves.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Thank you, Porfarmer. Accepting the atheist label has been hard for me as well. Not because it’s a bad thing – I know that growing up in the Bible Belt there’s a certain cultural bias against even the idea of not believing in god, and even more so concerning the word “atheist”. It just took me a while to realize that that’s what I am.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you seen Julia Sweeney’s “Letting Go of God”? It’s on the net and available on DVD. It’s about 2 hours long. Her journey was quite different from and more anguish-inducing than my own, so it was instructive for me. It would probably be closer to home for you, since she was a Catholic.

          I mention it only in that it might be a deconversion story that, eventually, your mom might find instructive. Sweeney takes a lighthearted approach to a difficult process.

        • nakedanthropologist

          I just listened to it a few days ago, actually (and loved it). Sweeney’s search for truth closely mirrors my own – I kept looking deeper and deeper into the god question because I took it so seriously. I hadn’t thought about giving my mom a copy (I have the iTunes audiobook) but that may be a good way to do things; Sweeney is gentle and humorous when discussing both faith and doubt, so it would be a good choice for my parents, who can be defensive when it comes to faith and belief in god. Thank you for the suggestion, Bob.

        • Pofarmer

          “An ex-Christian friend of mine was just telling me how he still feels drawn, as if by instinct, to prayer.”

          I’ll agree with that.

        • hector_jones

          Thank you for telling me this. I appreciate it enormously. And welcome aboard!

        • nakedanthropologist

          Thanks!

        • CodyGirl824

          Those who call themselves “ex-Christians” remind me of those divorced guys who just can’t seem to stop bad-mouthing their exes.

        • MNb

          I am not even baptized, hence I never have been a christian or ever adhered any religion. Still I can’t stop bad-mouthing bigot christians like you.

        • Pofarmer

          Is there a gentler term you would prefer for someone who was christian but now considers themself Atheist or Agnostic? Perhaps you prefer Apostate or Heretic?

        • CodyGirl824

          It’s not the label I object to. It’s their blaming Christianity for their decision to abandon the faith and reject God.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no God to reject. We embraced rationality. Thinking like adults in 2014 instead of 1214.

        • CodyGirl824

          What rationality? I have yet to see a bit of it in atheism.

        • hector_jones

          You just have to look. Take off the blinders.

        • Pofarmer

          What the fuck are you babbling about?

        • wtfwjtd

          The incoherent gibberish of Christian doctrine, and of course interacting with self-righteous people like you, made abandoning Christianity the only course of action a sane,logical person could take.

        • CodyGirl824

          wtfwktd, if I found Christian doctrine to be “incoherent gibberish” I wouldn’t be a Christian either.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, you find it so clear and understandable that you dodge any hard question with “read the bible yourself”. Real impressive.

        • hector_jones

          baby steps …

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Cody: Do you hang out at the Thinking Christian blog? I hope to soon get out a response to Tom Gilson’s new apologetic argument.

        • CodyGirl824

          So you observe that there are self-righteous Christians, a defect of character that we all abhor, only you have much less of it than the rest of us.

        • hector_jones

          Self-righteousness is a defect you abhor? You better start praying.

        • wtfwjtd

          I can honestly say Cody, of all the people who I have seen post here, you win the self-righteousness trophy by a mile. Hope that makes you feel good.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t blame Christianity. It showed me that all other faiths were wrong, including other Christianities. Then I realized that my own Christianity was just as wrong. I was angry that I had been lied to but got over it years ago.

          You should adopt reality, too. It’s better in the long run.

        • hector_jones

          I dunno Greg. I seriously doubt that reality can give anyone that puffed-up sense of self-importance that Cody enjoys.

        • Albert

          Greg, What was it that showed you it was wrong?

        • Greg G.

          It was pretty much a complete undoing over several months. It took so long because I was resisting it. I really wanted to maintain my belief. I think it started when I read Isaiah 45:7 about God creating evil and the lame explanations I got from my mentors.

          I had always been amused by the creationist quotes of scientists that appeared to show they were saying one thing but meaning something else. I wanted to see if I could find some to add to the list. Instead I found a couple in context, and the meaning was clearly not what was implied by the quote removed from context, which seemed to be a dishonest way of quoting. Also, I began to realize that the evolutionists arguments made more sense than the versions the creationists presented. Then when I heard preachers speaking against evolution, saying things that were wrong and could be verified that they were wrong, how could I trust what they said about religion that could not be verified?

          We had a weekly meeting and one thing was to give our testimony of an experience from the past week that proved God was working for us. One guy actually said he found his keys after he prayed.

          I was invited to a church that had a faith healer that week. His spiel was that if you don’t get healed, it’s because your faith is too weak.

          Everything required that you believe really hard that it is true despite the fact that it is obviously not true.

          When my faith was strong, I came up with Pascal’s Wager on my own, though I only knew Pascal from physics. Then I came up with the problem of evil on my own not knowing the Epicureans had come up with it 2500 years before.

          This was nearly 40 years ago, so I don’t recall every instance of things that eroded every foundation of faith.

          The last one was when I went to the church I went to when I first got saved to try to rejuvenate it. The preacher’s sermon was given with the same authoritative voice as always. He said that people use the Lord’s name in vain because there was POWER in the name. (The emphasis here emulates the vocal emphasis.) I thought “Bullshit! Oh, there is the same power in that word, too!”

          Those sorts of things made it clear that so much of it was absurd but when delivered from the pulpit, people swallowed it uncritically. Religion is a house of cards held together by confirmation bias.

        • CodyGirl824

          What amazes me about stories such as your is why you seem to assume that what didn’t work for you can’t possibly work for anyone else.

          I highly recommend this great book: James
          W. Fowler (1981). “Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.” New York: HarperCollins.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t assume that religion “can’t possibly work for anyone else.” We have thousands of religions which shows that they can be said to work but it also shows that there are thousands of ways to be wrong and still make it work. That does not show that any are right, however. They are each wrong for their own individual reasons and they are each wrong for the same reason. That single reason is their reliance on faith which rejects reason.

          Fowler’s six stages are:

          Stage 1 – Intuitive-Projective Faith
          Stage 2 – Mythic Literal Faith
          Stage 3 – Synthetic-Conventional Faith
          Stage 4 – Individuative-Reflective Faith
          Stage 5 – Conjunctive Faith
          Stage 6 – Universalizing Faith

          Stage 1 suggests naive gullibility and Stage 6 suggests complete gullibility.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks. I was unfamiliar with this. Here’s the Wikipedia article.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you for that link. Real Life priorities limited my research time so I replied to Cody with my initial impressions without developing my thoughts.

          From that article, I’m not sure that “faith” is the right word. Stage 0 is identifying oneself as a separate entity from a non-solipsistic view of the non-self. Stage 1 would be a learning phase about the environment. Stage 2 is where creationists are stuck. Stage 3 is where apologists struggle to remain.

          I think I explained my own Stage 4 to Albert in these comments somewhere but I came out without faith. Stage 5 is not necessarily a stage of faith as the “multidimensional, interdependent ‘truth'” doesn’t have to involve holding a position to a degree that is stronger than the evidence supports. It is reasonable to hold a position according to the strength of the evidence, anything beyond that is faith.

          Stage 7 sounds like the goal of Buddhism. I think I reached that stage 30 years ago through a mystical-like Eureka moment. I was still pondering “the meaning of life” as if it was some teleological thing, a left-over from religion, and I began to wonder about time as the fourth dimension. One night, I was momentarily able to twist 3-space in my mind and was able to see objects as the paths the seem to take, but they existed at each point in time at those positions simultaneously. They interacted like spaghetti noodles, Ramen. Yet I could see the cosmic scale, too. Our lives and feelings didn’t go away when we finished experiencing them, they still existed in 4-space. Though I was unaware of them at the time, when I now read modern Buddhists, ancient Buddhists, and ancient Egyptian mystics, it seems they are describing something similar to my experience. A couple of months later, I was able to duplicate the experience on a different subject but I was able to prove that insight was wrong, so I don’t take this enlightenment experience as a reliable path to truth, nor do I think any personal experience that cannot be independently verified should be taken all that seriously. I had a sense of compassion for others before the experience but it seems to have been heightened. OTOH, if I had been a sociopath before, the experience may have reinforced those traits.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you read any non-apologetic literature?

        • wtfwjtd

          Do you really have to ask? :) Oh, I get it, rhetorical…

        • Kodie

          What amazes me about stories such as yours is why you seem to assume nobody can live, function, comprehend anything without faith to filter it through. Why do you highly recommend a book to a functional and content human being in an attempt to suck them back in to the bullshit lies he just thoroughly explained to you?

          Of course! it “works” for other people. Nobody asserted that it doesn’t. It’s not a testament to its veracity, either.

        • Kodie

          Christianity is a false premise. They feel better because they are not building their lives on a lie. Why do you take it personally?

        • CodyGirl824

          Atheism is a lie. If you are concerned about people who build their lives on a lie, there’s the first place for you to look.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe atheism is a lie but it’s the most reasonable position considering the lack of evidence for any deities and the excuses offered by believers for the lack of evidence.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course you realize that all of evidence the ancient Hebrews needed for their belief is stated in Genesis 1:1 “…the heavens and the earth.” What more evidence do you need or expect?

        • hector_jones

          Stuff exists, therefore God. If it was good enough for the ancient Hebrews it should be good enough for you. Yeah we’ve heard this before. Not convinced.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’ve got it backwards. God exists, therefore stuff, including us.

        • Kodie

          Your ancient Hebrew logic got it backwards.

        • hector_jones

          An argument goes ‘premise, premise … conclusion’. Look it up.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve got it backwards. Cody says so, therefore God.

          I recommend more evidence. Assertions aren’t compelling.

        • CodyGirl824

          What is your explanation as to why there is “stuff” rather than no “stuff”? Whatever evidence you have as a basis for your explanation is evidence of/for God.

        • Kodie

          Let’s talk about grandiose claims again!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve addressed Leibniz’s “why is there something rather than nothing?” here.

          No, I don’t see why there’s any evidence for God here.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang. All the evidence we have that the Big Bang happened and had a cause is evidence of/for what we name and label as “God.” You tell me what you mean by the term “God” for which you find no evidence and then we can talk.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bob, I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang.

          Any evidence to back up that conclusion? Or is it just wishful thinking?

          All the evidence we have that the Big Bang happened and had a cause is evidence of/for what we name and label as “God.”

          (1) Not all things have causes. Maybe the universe is one of those things.

          (2) If you take something that I accept, draw a circle around it, and call it “God,” then I guess I believe in God. But I don’t think that’s useful for our conversation.

          You tell me what you mean by the term “God” for which you find no evidence and then we can talk.

          The face-value interpretation of this request makes no sense, so I must misunderstand the question. There really is some ambiguity about who the Christians say created the universe?

        • CodyGirl824

          Why is it Bob that there is sufficient evidence of God to convince 90% of the world’s population but not for the 10% that are self-identified atheists? My theory is that when atheists talk about God and believers talk about God, we are not talking about the same thing. Opinion polls, which is what beliefs and non-beliefs are, on God’s existence don’t make God exist or cease to exit.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why is it Bob that there is sufficient evidence of God to convince 90% of the world’s population but not for the 10% that are self-identified atheists?

          You don’t strike me as an all-roads-lead-to-God kind of person. The Hindus, Mormons, and Shintoists all believe in the same guy?

          My theory is that when atheists talk about God and believers talk about God, we are not talking about the same thing.

          My theory is that when some Christians talk about God, they’re not talking about the same thing as other Christians.

          Opinion polls, which is what beliefs and non-beliefs are, on God’s existence don’t make God exist or cease to exit.

          You’re right. Maybe we should talk instead about the good evidence that exists to convince the open-minded person that the Christian god exists. I’ve not seen any.

        • Kodie

          This has less to do with the evidence being convincing and more to do with what humans are like. It’s funny that such a huge mistake can be missed by so many perfect, chosen, people. If you combine Judaism, all forms of Christianity, and Islam, believers in your god are a little over 50%, spread over 3 major religions and tens of thousands of sects. Why aren’t you catholic? or Muslim? Islam comprises the largest set of believers in your particular allah.

          We asked you what method you use to disregard (not merely dismiss) the evidence others find compelling for their gods that you don’t even acknowledge the believers exist. Now you want to claim 90% in any meaningful way – shows what a liar you are, or an idiot for interpreting the data so poorly to weigh in your favor, or what sources are you reading that compile the data for you that you take as gospel and don’t check.

          http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/mysticism/World_religions_pie_chart.png

        • Kodie

          Just last week, a Muslim told us that came from an ancient Bedouin as evidence for Allah.

        • hector_jones

          I remember that. Camel dung. Fun times.

        • Greg G.

          I accept ideas according to the strength of the evidence. I would need to know their evidence and how they evaluated it. They thought the sky was a solid dome. I wouldn’t trust their insights for the nature of the cosmos nor their belief in their gods.

          If your notions of evidence are naive enough to base your whole worldview on a culture that thought the earth was flat, why should anyone listen to you?

        • hector_jones

          Cody posted a comment in the Carefree Christian Dinghy thread excusing the ancient Hebrews for not knowing modern physics. Here she argues that we should be persuaded by the fact that the ancient Hebrews believed stuff. Wow.

        • wtfwjtd

          I saw that–yeah, brilliant.

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder if Cody has any idea of the actual breadth and depth of stuff that ancient Hebrews believed? Actually no, I don’t wonder at all.

        • Pofarmer

          let’s see. Thought the earth was flat. Thought flies came from Carrion. Thought the planets were Gods. Thought Angels hid the sun behind a mountain at night. Thought frogs came from mud, Thought Comets and meteors were flung by God as symbols of his wrath. Thought eclipses, both lunar and solar foretold great calamity and misfortune. Thought sperm was a “seed” that grew in a womans womb. Thought rabbits were cud chewers. Thought it rained when God opened up the dome of the heavens. Should I go on?

        • wtfwjtd

          Lightning! Don’t forget lightning! And tornadoes, and floods, and…oh yeah. And thought the phoenix was an actual bird, with a 500-year life span.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t forget Cockatrices, and, shit, what was that other thing that could kill you by staring at you?

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, there was the basilisk in Harry Potter, is that what you were thinking of?

        • Pofarmer

          Nope, nope, it was the Griffon!!!!

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, you guys are right. I had forgotten about those things. They were a lot more savvy than I gave them credit for. I’m convinced. I’m on Cody’s side now.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The errors in the KJV probably shouldn’t count against the Good Book (though if you’re looking at KJV errors, there’s the mention of the unicorn).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Don’t forget the fantastic beasts: Rahab, Leviathan, Behemoth.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you’re a Jew then?

        • CodyGirl824

          What makes you ask that question? No, I’m a Christian and an Episcopalian. Are you forgetting that Jesus was a Jew?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Jesus was a Jew. Yes, I’ve got it. One wonders why Christians thought it made sense to create a new religion.

          Indeed, your emphatic quoting of Gen. 1:1 made me think that you were coming at this from a Jewish standpoint.

        • CodyGirl824

          Is belief in God a “Jewish standpoint”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Huh? You do know that we’re talking about two religions, right? You’re the one who celebrated the ancient Hebrews’ belief coming from Gen. 1:1.

        • Kodie

          Prove there’s a god then. Prove that there’s not no god.

        • hector_jones

          Many atheists argue that atheism is not a positive claim about the existence or non existence of gods, simply a finding that the evidence so far isn’t persuasive. Therefore atheism cannot be a lie since it makes no positive claims.

          Personally, I am more than comfortable claiming that your god does not exist, not merely that I am not persuaded that he does exist. If I’m lying, your all powerful god can prove me wrong in a second … waiting

        • Kodie

          You are right. Atheism is an argument against the claims of theism. Without theism, we would not need a label.

        • CodyGirl824

          On this we agree.

        • Kodie

          I find that unlikely as you are hard of reading comprehension for starters. Additionally, you start in with the premise that atheists are wrong, you don’t present evidence that you are right, you just abuse everybody and act like you’re doing us a favor by chatting with us. You don’t understand what atheism is, since your religion forbids you from comparing ideas with anyone else.

        • CodyGirl824

          I know several atheists personally who God has proven wrong, most particularly my late husband: It didn’t take just a second, but above all, it took a willing and open heart to receive God’s grace.

        • hector_jones

          Why does it take an open and willing heart? Why does it take more than a second? That’s a pretty weak god you’ve got there. Some creator of the universe.

          That’s a very touching story, btw. But how is it supposed to convince the rest of us? I’m supposed to take your word for it that some other people got evidence that god exists. Ok, show me that evidence.

        • CodyGirl824

          Weak God? How so? All the evidence for God that anyone needs is available to each one of us in our immediate environment and experience. It is not something that I or anyone else needs to show you. All you need to do is take your atheist blinders off and look.

        • hector_jones

          Look where? At the trees? Muslims look and see evidence for Islam. Buddhists look and see evidence for Buddhism. Scientologists look and see evidence for Scientology.

          I’m sorry that I’m not convinced. You’ll just have to live with it. It’s not bothering me in the least.

        • Pofarmer

          “All you need to do is take your atheist blinders off and look.”

          That’s some funny shit right there.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Well, I’m looking around. I see plenty of evidence, and it all points to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          Sorry–your guy loses.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          You seem to be obsessed with winning and losing. Whose keeping score?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s not really where my focus is. I’m eager to find the truth.

        • wtfwjtd

          If an example of the Christian God’s grace is sending people like you to atheists to show them what he does to people after they believe in him, in an attempt to get them to do the same…he is one, evil, sadistic, and sick dude. Thanks, but no thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, an emotional response. That’s all ya got.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Proven to him, perhaps. That’s no proof that anyone else will find value in.

        • CodyGirl824

          It matters not in the least whether or not anyone finds my late husband’s testimony to be of any value.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK. I misunderstood your point. I thought you were giving this as an example that would be relevant to other atheists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Atheism is a lie.

          Show me.

        • hector_jones

          They’re just proving free will, Cody. Stop whining.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m not whining. I believe that free will is a marvelous thing. Without free will, there is no love.

        • hector_jones

          And without peace there is no war. Without war there is no peace. Deepities. How deep do they go?

        • Kodie

          Non sequitur.

        • wtfwjtd

          Much more like the abused spouse who finally realized what was going on and got out.

        • Kodie

          Put it in your mind that it’s more like the divorced guy who won’t stop bad-mouthing his ex because she won’t move out and still orders him around. And because I’m really talking about the country, we shouldn’t have to be the ones to move since 1st amendment rights should clearly allow you to have no more control over the government than anyone else, and nobody can tell you to stop believing, but you had to cross the line and try to make us follow your arbitrary and hateful laws. We don’t have a problem co-existing, but you’re taking more than your share of our personal space.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Even atheists can get sucked down by their pasts. Some atheists were pretty badly handled by Christianity and need years to recover.

          A local atheist ex-pastor has had PTSD for years because of it. To answer the question I think you asked earlier, yes, becoming an atheist can be a very liberating, freeing experience.

        • Albert

          I did apply that same skepticism. You did see that part where I said, “I don’t know of any naturalistic explanations for a man that was beaten to shreds, crucified, and died being able to come back to life and interact with people as if nothing happened, just 3 days later.” ??

          This would be looking at this skeptically.

        • hector_jones

          You don’t know of any explanations because you don’t want to know of any. I’m sure you’ve been a believer in the resurrection since long before you gave any serious thought to the evidence for it.

          You are simply incapable of seeing the possibility that the resurrection never happened as a simpler explanation for the story we have, than that it did happen. Which explanation is simpler to you? That Muhammed rode a flying horse, or that it’s just a story? See the problem with your methodology? No, of course you don’t.

          Your approach is odd because many christians have argued that it is the implausibility of the resurrection that makes it believable. I reject that argument but at least those christians realize that the implausibility of the story is a serious problem. You think resurrection is the most plausible explanation, which I find more and more laughable every time I read the gospels. So I question your skepticism.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. Looking at it skeptically requires looking at it with the same skepticism, as, say, the navajo indian creation story, or the Mayan sacrifice rituals.

        • CodyGirl824

          With what kind of “skepticism” do you analyze allegory, myth and ritual?

        • wtfwjtd

          The same kind of skepticism with which I analyze the Christian story.

        • CodyGirl824

          Then I know that you have not bothered to examine the different literary genre used to tell the story, their structure, imagery, language and communicative purpose. This doesn’t demonstrate a high level of critical analysis.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, shit, do you really want to go there?

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re a real comedian Cody, you know that? You refuse to even look at who the real authors of the gospels were, when they were wrote, their sources, contexts and audiences, and you accuse me of your lack of analysis? MNb is right, you are a liar.

        • MNb

          The kind of skepticism David Hume expressed when writing “On Miracles”.
          More interesting: with what kind of skepticism do you analyze my claims that fairies tend the flowers in my backyard and demons run my computer? The hindu claim of reincarnation? The confucianistic claim of ancestor worship?

        • Pofarmer

          You might be mak

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We have no naturalistic explanation for a resurrection, but we do for a story about a resurrection (which is the fact laid before us).

        • Albert

          You said it’s a fact that it is simply a story.

          The problem is that Paul and the others did not write these books as if it was just a story. We don’t see their lives lived out after these events as if they were just telling a story.

          It is true that people will die for many things that they believe. But I don’t know anyone that would die to protect something they knew to be a lie.

          It is true that these events sound unusual, but that doesn’t mean they never happened.

          It is true that people change religions all the time. This too doesn’t mean these events never happened. Paul did not seem to gain anything from this conversion.

          Bob, it has been nice talking with you. I believe I have given you a lot of information and I hope that you look at it objectively. As I believe, as Anthony Flew did, later on in his life, that if we seek out the truth, we have to follow where it leads us, even if we do not like where it leads.

          I personally do not see any reason to believe the supernatural does not exist. Have we proven that it does not exist? No. Do we have evidence that it does? Well, that depends on what you are looking for. Someone coming back from the dead, as Jesus is said to have done, to me, is evidence for the supernatural. Can we prove it happened? Not with a 100% certainty.
          But I believe there is enough evidence already to 1) determine that Paul and the apostles were real and they believed that this Jesus, existed, lived, was crucified and died. And when we look at the changes in these men, we can see that Jesus came back from the dead just as he said he would. I’m sure you don’t see it that way. I hope that changes. Thanks again for the conversation. I enjoyed it. I have too many other things I’m doing at the moment. I will have to revisit this thread at some other time. Good day.

        • Pofarmer

          “The problem is that Paul and the others did not write these books as if
          it was just a story. We don’t see their lives lived out after these
          events as if they were just telling a story.”

          We have zip, zero, nada idea how the Gospel writers lived after they wrote the Gospels. We don’t even have a good idea who they were.

          “It is true that people will die for many things that they believe. But I don’t know anyone that would die to protect something they knew to be a lie.”

          This is a strawman argument. He probably very well believed what he wrote. Doesn’t mean it was true. People believed all sorts of things as matter of course in Antiquity that weren’t true, but they sincerely believed them.

          “It is true that these events sound unusual, but that doesn’t mean they never happened.”

          Extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence.

          “Paul did not seem to gain anything from this conversion”

          He apparently traveled extensively promoting his newfound religion, and got paid for it. But, even without that, sometimes a different outlook can be very powerful. I would recomend Eric Hoffers book “True Believers” for an idea on how Mass Movements work and why people join and promot them. Here’s a hint, it doesn’t have much to do with any “truth” that the movement possesses.

          “But I believe there is enough evidence already to 1) determine that Paul and the apostles were real”

          Paul was real. Cephas and James were probably real. The rest are actually a mystery.

          “And when we look at the changes in these men,”

          What changes? The truth is that we know very, very little about what they did after, and no, Acts is in no way historical or trustworthy.

          “Can we prove it happened? Not with a 100% certainty.”

          If you are going to base YOUR life on a story where God had impregnated a virgin with himself to make himself a sacrifice to himself for sin that he created. You damn well should be close to 100% sure.

        • CodyGirl824

          Please keep in mind that the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ were personally acquainted with Jesus’ mother Mary and had the benefit of her testimony about her son’s conception and birth.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, hell, he gave her to one of them. Too bad Paul didn’t go visit her to get the real scoop when he was close by? Maybe when he went to Jerusalem he could have visited the spot of the crucifixion, or visited the tomb? But, we got nuthin. He just went to visit Cephus and James who also seem to have information about Jesus the same way he does.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Well, hell, he gave her to one of them.

          Which is crazy. Jesus told John to take care of Mary. But Christians celebrate that James, the brother of Jesus, was later the head of the Jerusalem church.

          What sense does it make to have John take care of Mary when her own son James could do it??

        • CodyGirl824

          What sense does it make for a dying man, in excruciating pain, moments from his demise, to charge his trusted friend and companion with the care of his beloved mother, who he knew was in deep grief? Think of the poignant humanity of this act! I most certainly do.

        • wtfwjtd

          Why couldn’t his brother James do it? Oh yeah…

        • wtfwjtd

          …’cause HE thought Jesus was crazy too(Mark 3:21).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re changing the subject, which is: Christians must be careful that they don’t cobble together a story with an anecdote from this gospel and a fragment from that epistle.

          When these books are mutually contradictory, let’s recognize that fact and ask what it means.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. It’s your blog. You get to dictate the topic. However, I don’t see where you have established that there really is any meaningful or substantive contradiction in the New Testament. If contradictions do exist, then a simple and straightforward answer as to why is that they are the testimony and writings of different people (witnesses) with their own vantage points who observed and recorded different details, just like what happens in a trial. Jurors are capable of and expected to sort this out in arriving that their/our verdict.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This isn’t hard. When (1) John indicates that Jesus had no brothers but tradition (or possibly James?) says that James was his brother or (2) Mark says that his family thought he was crazy but elsewhere we find that James was on board, we don’t paper that over but investigate to see whether our methods are correct. This is a record-scratch moment.

        • Pofarmer

          The really wild thing to me is that she completely dissapears from the story.

        • wtfwjtd

          …until the Catholic church “resurrected” her. Ugh!

        • CodyGirl824

          “…he gave her to one of them.” This is a bizarre (and insulting) interpretation of Jesus’ words spoken from the cross! Besides, at the time of the crucifixion, Paul was a persecutor of Christians. He would not have had a cordial relationship with Mary. See how we are talking about real living, breathing human beings here?

        • Pofarmer

          He wasn’t a persecutor when he visited cephas and jamez in Jerusalem.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ were personally acquainted with Jesus’ mother Mary

          Good point. And we know that because it’s written in a story.

        • CodyGirl824

          We know this because this is their testimony, written in the gospels.

        • Pofarmer

          When were the Gospels named and accumulated. How do we know who wrote them?

        • MNb

          My testimony is that you robbed the bank in my village yesterday. You haven’t any problem with supernatural claims, so we don’t have to address the issue how you got here and left. I write the testimony down and call it gospel.
          Now you know this.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re simply being silly. The gospels are not just one person’s testimony.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          My dear, the authors of the Gospel were familiar with each other. That’s what the hypothesis of the Q-document is about.
          So they count as one testimony.
          But thanks for telling us what your triple standard is.
          Supernatural claim nr. 1: I like it, so I accept it.
          Supernatural claim nr. 2: I don’t like it, so it’s silly.
          Yeah, that works.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re running your ignorance up a flagpole again Cody, nice job.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But why believe it? Because you have a prior commitment to the truth of the NT? Because you’ve subjected the NT to rigorous examination to show that it’s reliable? What?

        • Kodie

          Why do you automatically decide that it is testimony and not a story? How do you deal with testimony that does not support your beliefs?

        • wtfwjtd

          …and Mary’s testimony about Jesus was that he was crazy (Mark 3:20-21). Or haven’t you read that part of the gospels yet?

        • CodyGirl824

          A perfect example of taking a Bible verse out of context!

        • wtfwjtd

          How so?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The problem is that Paul and the others did not write these books as if it was just a story.

          They don’t tell it as if it’s just a yarn or tall tale. Yes, I understand that. But lots of books from antiquity do the same thing, and you don’t believe those for an instant. Why give the gospel story any more credence?

          We don’t see their lives lived out after these events as if they were just telling a story.

          What?? That’s part of the story!

          We all agree that Christianity started. Your (very large) challenge is to show that the supernatural claims made in this story are historical fact.

          I don’t know anyone that would die to protect s omething they knew to be a lie.

          It happens, but I see no evidence of this in this story. Search “die for a lie” above for more on this.

          It is true that these events sound unusual, but that doesn’t mean they never happened.

          I don’t claim to have proven they didn’t. The burden of proof for this unbelievable story is yours.

          Paul did not seem to gain anything from this conversion.

          It’s a story, remember? Who knows what actually happened?

          as Anthony Flew did, later on in his life, that if we seek out the truth, we have to follow where it leads us, even if we do not like where it leads.

          I don’t find Antony Flew’s example compelling. (Search “Antony Flew” for more.)

          I personally do not see any reason to believe the supernatural does not exist.

          Is that how you do it? You assume the supernatural and then look for disconfirming evidence? For me, it’s the other way around: there is no evidence for the supernatural, so I don’t accept it (though I’m happy to consider new evidence).

          Someone coming back from the dead, as Jesus is said to have done, to me, is evidence for the supernatural.

          That would be evidence for me, too. That we have a story that it happened is really, really unconvincing.

          And when we look at the changes in these men, we can see that Jesus came back from the dead just as he said he would.

          You mean the changes documented in the story?

          Thanks again for the conversation. I enjoyed it.

          I hope you stop by again. We need more thoughtful Christians around here. You might want to sign up for email notification.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you assume that it is Albert’s job to convince you that supernatural events that he personally was not a witness to 2,000 years ago actually occurred?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Because that’s what evangelists do. If Albert isn’t evangelizing then that is indeed not his job.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t that kinda the whole point?

        • Kodie

          Both Albert and Cody seem to be pinning their arguments down to ‘atheists can’t prove it didn’t happen’.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, that’s usually where it ultimately ends up.

        • Albert

          Actually, what I’m suggesting is that we need to base the claims from where they are at. These are not my claims.

          The claims belong to those that wrote the documents.

          But, how do we determine if claims that were written long ago are valid or not? What makes those writings from Julius Caesar valid claims or not?
          What makes a claim invalid? That is what I’m here to do is to see if we can look at the evidence objectively. And not simply dismiss it because of some presupposition.

          My biggest issue is, if you can not prove that the supernatural does not exist, then you can not use that(the supernatural does not exist) as your reason for dismissing an account unless you can provide a reason to not consider it valid.
          Providing a naturalistic explanation is first and foremost for any of these discussions. If you can’t find one, that doesn’t automatically mean we jump to the supernatural as the answer. That would be a God-in-the-gaps argument. We don’t want to do that.
          But, on the flip side of that coin, we also don’t want to do a naturalism-in-the-gaps argument either; seeing as we can’t prove the supernatural does not exist.

          So we look at the context of the events. Is there a naturalistic explanation? If not, then we need to see if there is reason to consider the supernatural by seeing if it exists in the context of the account. In the case of the Bible, a man coming back from the dead is such an example of something supernatural being in the context. So the supernatural could be a possible answer. But we can’t simply go with that unless it really fits the context of everything around that event. And for the Bible, it fit really well.
          Jesus came back from the dead and many people’s lives change because of it, Paul and the apostles suffered and some died for this claim that the event happened. Other’s outside of the Bible wrote about the follows and their hard fact convictions for this man and what happened to him. At some point, you have to make a conclusion for yourself if the evidence is strong enough for you to consider it as valid.

          If not, then point out where it is lacking. But, again, this can’t be because you don’t believe the supernatural doesn’t exist. You would first have to show it doesn’t exist before you can remove it from the table as a possible answer.

        • MNb

          “if you can not prove that the supernatural does not exist, then you can not use that”
          Which means you reject the scientific method; which means we will shrug off everything you write as the convenient (for you) bias it is. It is as valid as my claim that fairies tend the flowers in my backyard. Reason: your method (we may assume the supernatural if we can’t prove there is no supernatural element) proves everything, hence nothing.
          Which I have told you before.

        • CodyGirl824

          MNb, the scientific method cannot rule out the supernatural because the scientific method does not address the supernatural. Just because something cannot be studied through science does not mean that this something does not exist. Just because science cannot study an unrepeatable event does not rule out the possibility or fact that the event occurred.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you are admitting that the supernatural is purely conjecture then?

        • CodyGirl824

          No. The supernatural is experienced and we have credible testimony from those who experience(d) it. This is not conjecture.

        • Kodie

          You’re right, it’s not conjecture, it’s the rambling of crazy people. Thank you for clarifying.

        • MNb

          Great! So according to you my claims that fairies tend the flowers in my backyard and that undetectable demons run my computer are as valid as the Resurrection.
          I totally agree.

        • Kodie

          Because you are just being a hypocrite again, how do you deal with all claims of supernatural events that do not support your beliefs?

        • Albert

          You said, “Which means you reject the scientific method; which means we will shrug off everything you write.”

          How does that mean I reject the scientific method? This makes no sense whatsoever.

          You said, “It is as valid as my claim that fairies tend the flowers in my backyard. Reason: your method (we may assume the supernatural if we can’t prove there is no supernatural element) proves everything, hence nothing.”

          Wrong.It’s not assuming the supernatural. If you never said anything to me about fairies tending to your flowers, I would have no reason to assume that is how they are growing so nicely.
          But, if you tell me that, then now I have context that brings the supernatural into the issue. Does this make it so? Of course not. We would then have to evaluate if this stands on it’s own merit based on the evidence you would provide for your claim.

          But as I explained, we don’t jump to the supernatural, we first remove naturalistic explanations prior to exploring the idea of the supernatural.

          The fact is, your rejection of the bodily Resurrection, and the miracle accounts in the Bible, is a naturalistic worldview that rejects supernatural claims a priori, before consideration of the facts.

          I’ve said it more than once here. I’m willing to look at all possible answers, naturalistic or not, for the answer to the Resurrection. But you, on the other hand, remove the supernatural before any consideration is ever done.

        • MNb

          “How does that mean I reject the scientific method? This makes no sense whatsoever.”
          Of course it does. You can’t use the scientific method to investigate supernatural claims. One of its presuppositions is that phenomena have natural explanations. That’s why it’s called methodological naturalism. Hence you reject it – perhaps not in general, but certainly in the particular case of the Resurrection. Cody understands that as well.

          “I would have no reason to assume that is how they are growing so nicely.”
          You have – my claim. Just like the claims of the authors of the Gospels.

          “if this stands on it’s own merit based on the evidence”
          What’s your standard of evidence? All you brought up up to now belongs to the domain of science. But science rejects supernatural claims (see above) hence you’re inconsistent. All that’s left for you are stories written down in the Gospels by authors who were familiar with each other.
          I provided you with a story about fairies tending the flowers in my backyard. That’s just as valid.

          “you, on the other hand, remove the supernatural before any consideration is ever done.”
          Yup. That’s what the scientific method tells me to do. Here you admit you reject it. But you keep on refusing to tell us why you reject it in one case (my fairies) and accept it in the other (the Resurrection).

          “we first remove naturalistic explanations prior to exploring the idea of the supernatural.”
          Well, there are good naturalistic explanations for the Resurrection story, so this is settled.
          In the second place this is a god of the gaps. There are no naturalistic explanations for superconductivity at relatively high temperatures, hence we see god (or fairies or whatever) at work. Until we have found a naturalistic explanation of course.
          You don’t make sense.

        • 90Lew90

          Before any consideration is ever done? That’s outrageous. If anything has been “considered”, picked-over, contemplated, examined, turned upside down and inside out, argued over, looked at through every possible lens, it is the claims made in the Christian faith. Hume? Kant? Diderot? None of them, among many other very sophisticated thinkers mainly from the 18th Century but there were many long before, were working from a “naturalistic” viewpoint. All rejected miracles, which would include bodily Resurrection, which is in any case utterly daft. What way is “up” for a start? Towards the firmament, presumably?

        • wtfwjtd

          “What makes those writings from Julius Caesar valid claims or not?”

          Julius Caesar conquered Rome, with or without the supernatural events attributed to his life.
          Jesus? Take away the supernatural claims and the whole story falls apart at the seams. Christianity is literally based on the supernatural; it was founded on it, and still claims to be able to summons it on demand today. The fact that it can’t, is irrefutable proof that the premise of the supernatural that Christianity is based on, is simply false.

        • Albert

          You said, “Julius Caesar conquered Rome, with or without the supernatural events attributed to his life”

          You’re right, he did. So?

          You said, “Jesus? Take away the supernatural claims and the whole story falls apart at the seams.”

          Yes. Again, so?

          You are presuming that the supernatural does not exist. Which, if you read what I wrote, you would find that these arguments are moot.

          You said, “Christianity is literally based on the supernatural; it was founded on it, and still claims to be able to summons it on demand today.”

          Where does it claim to summons it on demand today? Reference please?

          You said, “The fact that it can’t, is irrefutable proof that the premise of the supernatural that Christianity is based on, is simply false.”

          Can’t or Don’t see it? Those are two different things.

          Your claim is that because you have not experienced the supernatural for yourself so therefore it must not exist.

          This is faulty reasoning.

          I never experienced the Civil war, so therefore it never happened. This is the same reasoning you are using.

        • wtfwjtd

          “You said, “Jesus? Take away the supernatural claims and the whole story falls apart at the seams.”

          Yes. Again, so?”

          My response exactly Albert; we’re in total agreement that we can dismiss the whole Jesus story.

          “Where does it claim to summons it on demand today? Reference please?”

          Here you go: John 14:12 :”Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

          and Mark 16:17-18:“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

          Care to drink a cup of Draino to prove the truth of Christianity? Didn’t think so.

          “I never experienced the Civil war, so therefore it never happened. This is the same reasoning you are using.”

          I don’t think you want to go there Albert. You can find thousands of witness accounts, hundreds if not thousands of museums full of CW artifacts, and dozens of battlefields to confirm that 4 year conflict, for starters.
          What have we to attest for the veracity of the resurrection? One anonymous account, written decades after the fact, in a dead language. See the difference?

        • Kodie

          The way you are presenting what you believe to be facts is not “Jesus rose from the dead”. If the beginning and the end of the story you were told was “Jesus rose from the dead”, would you be inclined to believe it?

          I think you are skeptical. I think if the implication is there, in the story, that Jesus died for your sins and to give you eternal life in heaven, you would want that very much, and then, beyond reason, start hunting for details to add to the story that would make you feel more sure.

          I don’t know if you know what I am saying. I could put it in another story. Let’s pretend you like candy since I don’t want to assume you do. I like candy. So, anyway, instead of salvation, I am going to promise you candy. You can’t have it yet, you have to do stuff first. Well, right here, we have some things I think we can all agree on – I am real, and candy is real. That is something I could promise to give you and you may doubt that I will give you candy at the end of the bargain, but you would agree that it would not be impossible for me to do so. Since you can buy your own candy, doing stuff for me for a reward of candy may or may not be a good bargain for you, but as it stands, it seems like a regular business deal.

          So I promise you I will forgive you all your sins and eternal life and candy. That’s one better than god. Now imagine this offer attracts you because there’s one better than what your current promise is. How can I demonstrate that I mean to deliver on this promise? Because you’re already a Christian, you are hesitant, but you are intrigued. You are hesitant because you have satisfied your requirement for evidence in the details of the story about Jesus, and you have no details about me. How do you know I’m not lying? How do you know I can physically deliver you a one-better promise than Jesus? You are intrigued by the promise so you bolster your confidence in me by asking around. I have written a manifesto and you read it, and I am surprisingly wise. I have developed a small following, and they write articles about my life. You want to meet me in person to get a sense of my earnestness, and write to inquire, but you get a letter back explaining that I’d died.

          Now, some say that I came back to life and told them things. Some very close to me wrote it on the internet, and it became a viral meme on youtube and instagram and vine. Video and photographic evidence of a miracle. Remember, you’re a Christian. You believe your 2000-year-old tales if you want. This Kodie promises to forgive all my sins, give me eternal life, and candy. That’s one better. But people died for Jesus. But video evidence. But Paul had a vision. But video evidence. More than 5,000,000 views.

          What will your answer to that be?

        • CodyGirl824

          …and in addition, they/you can’t impeach the credibility of the witnesses who tell us that it happened.

        • wtfwjtd

          What witnesses? You mean the anonymous authors of the gospels who wrote their accounts decades after the alleged events?

        • MNb

          Who were familiar with each other.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s the whole point. Objectively your witnesses have no credibility. For another classic try Thomas Paines, “The age of reason.”

        • CodyGirl824

          All Albert or any other evangelist can do is to explain why they/we believe the testimony of the witnesses to these events. At the heart of the matter is whether or not those who testify are credible witnesses.

          I highly recommend this book on this topic. It’s a classic.

          Simon Greenleaf (1874). The Testimony of the Evangelists:
          The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics (1995).

        • MNb

          “whether or not those who testify are credible witnesses.”
          Exactly. There you have the first problem: they weren’t direct witnesses, their information is second hand at best. A very strong case can be made for several parts of the testimonies that they are fictional (the infanticide, Jesus killing off pigs), so we don’t have any reason to assume a priori their testimonies regarding the Resurrection are credible. Moreover the testimonies aren’t independent. You have only one testimony (that’s what the hypothesis of the Q-document is about).
          Your second problem is that you haven’t developed (and neither has Albert) a reliable methodology regarding supernatural claims.
          As for thos “rules of evidence” you wrote something yourself about it and admitted double sets of standards, so thanks, I don’t need to read that book.

        • CodyGirl824

          Since you “don’t need to read that book” (Professor Greenleaf) then I must conclude that you are not really interested in examining the credibility of the four evangelists’ testimony based on the rules of evidence accepted in common law. So I can safely dismiss any criticisms (objections) you have of their credibility because these have no factual or legal basis on which to impeach them.

        • Kodie

          Since you are a hypocrite, then I must conclude that you are not really interested in examining the credibility for the testimony that does not support your beliefs, based on the rules of evidence accepted in common law. So I can safely dismiss any blather you have of the credibility of yours, because, as I said, you are a hypocrite and no factual or legal basis on which to impeach them.

        • Pofarmer

          Obviously, we do have a factual basis, which you handwave away.

        • CodyGirl824

          Obviously no, you do not. You have tossed around lots of theories but have given no facts that can impeach the testimony of the four canonical gospels. This is really not surprising since the testimony has withstood the test of time for over 2,000 years now, so a few atheist upstarts in the 21st century don’t pose much of a threat. What Professor Greenleaf wrote in 1874 is as true today as it was then.

        • Pofarmer

          Thomas Paine knew 100 years before what the Gospels are. The scholarly consensus today is that they are anonymously authored, probably far from Palestine, after 70 CE. They are religious tracts, not witness testimony. This is pretty much common knowledge and generally unasailable. Not at all controversial. That we can’t even agree on this, says a lot

          What Professor Greenleaf wrote in 1874 is as true today as it was then…”

          Good point, wasn’t true then, isn’t true now.

        • MNb

          The facts are that
          1) christianity was recognized as an independent religious movement after 100 CE;
          2) the earliest saved fragments of the Gospels are all from after 100 CE.
          3) Suetonius had problems distinguishing christians from jews.
          The rest is extrapolation. That is OK; I already wrote that stemmatics is a scientific hence reliable method.

          “then I must conclude”
          Conclude what you want. I care as little as my dogs do. I notice that you don’t provide a reliable methodology to separate correct supernatural claims from incorrect ones; you claim you base your arguments on Professor Greenleaf, so until you provide something positive it’s safe to conclude that he doesn’t provide such a reliable methodology either. Hence I have no interest.
          Christians love to provide lists of “must read for atheists” books. Sorry, my salary of 700 USD a month is not high enough to buy them all; my lifetime is not long enough to read them all. A recommendation from a biased believer like you (“I see no rationalism in atheism”) is far from enough.
          Oh, just in case: I apply this to atheist stuff as well. I never have read any book from Harris or Dennett; neither do I plan to, for similar reasons.

        • wtfwjtd

          Here’s a nice write-up of your beloved fellow Episcopalian, Simon Greenleaf:

          http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/2010/10/simon-greenleaf.html

          An already convinced Christian writing pablum for a sympathetic audience. Real convincing.

        • Pofarmer

          Remsberg “the Christ” 1909. A classic.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Oh, so Albert is an evangelist. I wonder then why I got my hand slapped for thinking that Albert was motivated to convince me that these supernatural events actually happened.

          I’ve not read that book. In that category, I have read A Lawyer’s Case for God and Religion on Trial. I’ve also read John W. Montgomery’s Tractatus Logico-Theologicus and attended his 2-week Apologetics Academy.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t know whether or not Albert self-identifies as an evangelist.

        • 90Lew90

          Is it not incumbent on all Christians to “spread the [allegedly] good news”?

        • Kodie

          How do you decide the testimony that does not support your beliefs is not credible?

        • Albert

          What other books from antiquity are you talking about?

          You said, “What?? That’s part of the story!”

          Oh, so you are now saying that the writers were very clever to get many details right over many years from book to book, right? It was all a ruse, right?

          All of the Christian’s that came after Paul and the apostles were just following along, all knowing it was a just a story, right?

          Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, Hippolytus, and Titian were all in on the story, and then they too decided to write their own books to help keep the story going, right?

          Justin Martyr, just made up all those accounts of people being killed for the sake of the story, right?

          All of these people were simply fooled by Paul, John, Peter and the rest, right?

          All the writings we have that span over 2 centuries from that they claimed to be there and those that followed them were simply created to keep the story going.

          Is that your claim?

          You said, “We all agree that Christianity started. Your (very large) challenge is to show that the supernatural claims made in this story are historical fact.”

          It’s not my claim. The claim belongs to those that wrote the books. The are making the claim that these events happened.

          The fact that you are calling it a story and not true, is a claim. That means the burden is on you to show why we should take your claim that it is not true and simply a story over the views of the ones that claimed to be there and that wrote about what they said they saw.

          So it’s your challenge, not mine.

          And to say it is just a story is not evidence; it’s simply opinion.

          And the arguments you presented in your article are mostly strawman arguments with no basis other than you don’t believe it’s true.

          You said, “It happens, but I see no evidence of this in this story. Search “die for a lie” above for more on this.”

          What are you suggesting I will find? Might help narrow down what you are thinking I’m going to get from this.

          And it is seen. Stephen was stoned to death(Acts 7:54-8:2) For his faith. Paul was there and attests to doing these things in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10.

          Acts 12:2 Tells that King Herod “had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.”

          There are some references; but of course, none of this means anything to you if your first presupposition is to simply say it is a story.

          You said, “I don’t claim to have proven they didn’t. The burden of proof for this unbelievable story is yours.”

          You’re right; you haven’t proven that they didn’t happen. You simply choose to not believe they did.

          The proof is not mine as I didn’t make the claims.

          You said, “It’s a story, remember? Who knows what actually happened?”

          And here is your claim. You must first show that it is “just a story” before you can claim it as such.

          Your claim that it is just a story is contradictory to what the writers claimed. Therefore, you are disagreeing with what the writers said and must show why your view should be taken over their view.

          What I’m amazed at is that if you really believe this is just a story, why you are so hard pressed to claim it is just a story. I don’t see anybody going after Harry Potter like that. Do you have any articles stating that the Three Little Pigs is just a story too?

          You said, “I don’t find Antony Flew’s example compelling. (Search “Antony Flew” for more.)”

          So? Your opinion of Antony Flew is simply that, your opinion. The fact remains that Antony chose to follow where he saw the truth lead him even though it was contrary to the world view he held. This was a life changing moment for him. That was all I was saying.

          You said, “Is that how you do it? You assume the supernatural and then look for disconfirming evidence? For me, it’s the other way around: there is no evidence for the supernatural, so I don’t accept it (though I’m happy to consider new evidence).”

          Actually no. that is what you would like for me to agree to.

          And no; you will not entertain any new evidence because all you have done is simply dismissed the evidence at hand by claiming it’s “just a story”. A claim, I might add, that is based on opinion only.

          The reality is, I didn’t look for the supernatural before anything. I have looked for naturalistic explanations.

          When someone suggested that Paul had a hallucination, I looked at what we know about hallucinations and found that when someone has one, others around them do not join in on the hallucinations. The text specifically states that the men around Paul also heard the voice. So this ruled out a hallucination for me. I have had someone else suggest epilepsy. But again, the men around Paul would not have been effected by such a reason. I was even suggested that it was all power of suggestion. But the problem was those, like in the Fatima incident, need to be in expectation of something happening(hence the power of suggestion part), but this too does not fit the account we have in writing.

          In regards to Jesus dying, there are those that have suggested he was not really dead. But this does not explain how he could be up and walking around in 3 days like nothing happened. Even if he didn’t die, he wouldn’t have been able to move much considering what he has been through. No, he was dead.

          So, no, I have not run straight to the supernatural to get to where I’m at. I’m willing to listen to any naturalistic suggestions you have, but so far, those that I have gotten have not pasted the mustard.

          I have even asked for anyone to offer up a naturalistic explanation for a man who has been beaten, crucified, dead for three day and then come back to life as if nothing happened, on this thread.

          But look what I get… I get you telling me it’s “just a story”, or someone else telling me, “it never happened”.

          Those are not naturalistic explanations; those are dismissals of writings that we can hold in our hands from people that wrote them at one time telling us that these events happened. Dismissing them without giving us reason to believe they didn’t happen is simply opinion.

          And you can dismiss them all you want; you can hold your opinion that they are just stories. But you can’t hold those views and make them known to others unless you are willing to back them up with evidence and reasons why we should believe you over those that wrote the books closer to the time of the events.

          You see, your opinion, as much as it means to you, doesn’t amount to anything for anyone else.

          What does matter are facts. And if these men wrote these documents and declared them as actual events, then to say they never happened, you have to show that it’s just a story or that they never happened; or all you are doing is throwing around an opinion that means nothing to anyone except for yourself. And if all you have to offer is opinion, I have no reason to listen to you.

          You said, “That would be evidence for me, too. That we have a story that it happened is really, really unconvincing.”

          What would be convincing to you then?

          You said, “You mean the changes documented in the story?”

          Proof it was just a story please.

          You said, “I hope you stop by again. We need more thoughtful Christians around here. You might want to sign up for email notification.”

          I guess I’m getting pulled back in, huh? :)
          I might consider the emails. thanks,

        • wtfwjtd

          “Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, Hippolytus, and Titian were all in on the story, and then they too decided to write their own books to help keep the story going, right?”

          Are you talking about Clement of Rome? Now there’s some good stuff in that book. My favorite part is where he tells us why we should believe the resurrection story. Why, you ask? His example was the Phoenix: a bird that lives 500 years, then dies; its flesh turns to worms, that sprout wings, and fly back to altars in Egypt, there to be re-born again. I’m convinced, I’m tellin’ ya! Must’ve all happened, ’cause Clement said so!

        • Albert

          No one should be convinced because one person says anything. this isn’t a believe your favorite prophet. It’s looking at the whole of the message being put forth.

          If you dismiss Paul’s writings simply because Clement said something you disagree with, then you are not being very honest with the information you have gathers. You are simply looking for a reason to dismiss it all.

          I choose to consider what is true, not what I want to be true.
          So far, I believe Christianity shows to be true. I could be wrong, and therefore I’m willing to look to other things to see how they might fair better. But so far, I haven’t found anything. And for someone to suggest that we shouldn’t consider the supernatural because they don’t believe it exists, would be no different than your suggesting that we dismiss it all because of one thing Clement said.

        • MNb

          You can’t make up your mind, can you?

          “No one should be convinced because one person says anything.”
          This is part of the scientific method. So you use it when it suits you and reject it (regarding the supernatural) when it doesn’t.

        • wtfwjtd

          Don’t misunderstand Albert, I think it’s a great story. The fact that the story is still around, obviously means that lots of other people like it too. It’s just that some of us don’t take it nearly as literally as others. Besides, are you saying that you find the story of the Phoenix as told by Clement to be as believable the resurrection story of Jesus? If not, why would you accept one as true and not the other? What criteria would you use to make the distinction?

        • Albert

          You said, “Besides, are you saying that you find the story of the Phoenix as told
          by Clement to be as believable the resurrection story of Jesus?”

          Nowhere in my reply to you did I say that I believe the story of the Phoenix. You are inferring that.

          The Phoenix account would have to stand on it’s own merit. To dismiss the Resurrection account, because you found the Phoenix account to be false, would not be a fair assessment to the Resurrection; and vice vi.

          1) I have never really looked into the Phoenix account to know if it is true or not. A reference for that in Clements writings would be helpful if you got it.

          2) I’m basing what I know on the Resurrection account on many different documents. Not only from the Bible, but from extra-biblical sources, 1st and 2nd century writings from the church fathers and so on. There is a lot of data there that corroborates this event as a real historical event.
          I would say that the criteria is always the same regardless the account:
          Multiple independent sources, testimony attested to by multiple independent witnesses is usually considered stronger than the testimony of one witness. Affirmation by a neutral or hostile source is usually considered stronger than affermation from a friendly source, since bias in favor of the person or position is absent. People usually don’t make up details regarding a story that would tend to weaken their position. Eyewitness testimony is usually considered strong than testimony heard from a second- or third hand source. And early testimony from very close to the event in question is usually considered more reliable than one received years after the event. Any archaelological evidence usually supports the events by placing them at a certain time frame or reference based on where it’s found. It can also support geographical references from the writing.

        • wtfwjtd

          Not only from the Bible, but from extra-biblical sources, 1st and 2nd century writings from the church fathers and so on.

          What extra biblical references confirm the resurrection account of Jesus? I wasn’t aware that there were any.

          As for the late first and second century church father’s writings, wouldn’t you say that they are already just repeating what they’ve been told? They couldn’t have been eye witnesses to any of the resurrection events.

        • Albert

          You said, “What extra biblical references confirm the resurrection account of Jesus? I wasn’t aware that there were any.”

          First of all, read what I posted; I didn’t say there were extra-biblical references that confirm the Resurrection .

          I said, “I’m basing what I know on the Resurrection account on many different documents. Not only from the Bible, but from extra-biblical sources, 1st and 2nd century writings from the church fathers and so on.”

          This is different. I say that because we have many extra-biblical accounts that explain how Christian’s were treated or how they acted.
          There are extra-biblical accounts that we do have that actually mention the Resurrection. Those are all from some of the church fathers.
          And yes, you are correct, they were not eye witnesses. But that doesn’t make their accounts any less true; simply not as trustworthy as eye witness accounts.

          Any sources that you are expecting to confirm that Resurrection would be from those that believe.
          I see no reason to look for documents from someone that didn’t believe in Jesus to confirm the Resurrection directly. We do have several hostile references that call the things that Jesus did as sorcery. So though they don’t confirm his deity, they also do not deny his ability to do magical things.

        • MNb

          What 1st Century writings from which church fathers tell about the Resurrection?
          2nd Century writings do not count as independent testimonies as they are based on the Gospels.

        • Albert

          You said, “What 1st Century writings from which church fathers tell about the Resurrection?”

          Clement or Rome affirms the Resurrection, Gospels and that Jesus was sent to earth by God to take away our sins. – This is throughout his writings.

          Ignatius of Antioch – Disciple of the apostles Peter, Paul, and John, who was martyred for his faith in Jesus. He was obviously convinced that Jesus really had lived and that Jesus was all that the apostles has said He was.

          Quadratus, Bishop of Athens and a disciple of the apostles. Church historian Eusebius has preserved the only work that we have from Quadratus.

          “The deeds of our Savior were always before you, for they were true miracles; those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only whilst our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived in our times.”

          Eusebius, IV, III – Epostle of Barnabas – Mentions the Resurrection, miracles, content of the Gospels and the crucifixion of Jesus.

          Justin Martyr – Regarded as one of the greatest early Christian apologists. He mentions as facts many things about Jesus and Christianity.

          You said, “2nd Century writings do not count as independent testimonies as they are based on the Gospels.”

          Says who? I agree they are not eye witness testimony, but they do account for those that grew up around those that were eye witnesses. And why is the fact that they are not around those that were eye witnesses, means they couldn’t capture valid information?
          Even today, we are trying to determine that validity of events in our past. Are we to conclude that because we were not there or are not eye witnesses, that we can’t determine what is true? If so, then we can’t know anything beyond our life time.
          I think this is a faulty argument at best.

        • Greg G.

          Did Clement quote Mathew and Luke or just the Gospel of Thomas?

          Was Ignatius there or did he get his knowledge from the gospels?

          We know there were Christians in the late first century. The diversity of their beliefs were greater than the diversity of today’s Christianities. The question is what they believed and how did they know it. If their beliefs were based on the Gospel of Mark or the derivative gospels, then their beliefs were different than the beliefs of the early first century Christians.

        • Albert

          I’m very puzzled by this whole copying view.

          Did Clement quote Matthew and the rest? Perhaps. So? What does this prove?

          Do you all quote Sam Harris or Dawkins or Hitchens? If so, does that automatically mean what they said is false?

          You said, “We know there were Christians in the late first century. The diversity
          of their beliefs were greater than the diversity of today’s
          Christianities. The question is what they believed and how did they know it. If their
          beliefs were based on the Gospel of Mark or the derivative gospels, then
          their beliefs were different than the beliefs of the early first
          century Christians.”

          In what way were they different?

        • Greg G.

          I’m very puzzled by this whole copying view.

          Did Clement quote Matthew and the rest? Perhaps. So? What does this prove?

          Do you all quote Sam Harris or Dawkins or Hitchens? If so, does that automatically mean what they said is false?

          It just depends on whether the source being quoted is true. If it is, then every quote of it is true and vice versa.

          Matthew is heavily dependent on Mark but we can see that Mark relies on material that is not about Jesus to create stories about Jesus, so Mark is fiction and if Clement quotes Matthew quoting Mark, then they are all false. See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash for a taste of the gospel sources.

          In what way were they different?

          I think the early first century Christians thought Jesus had come long before their time but after the destruction of Jerusalem, later Christians thought Jesus had been recent. Of those, some thought Jesus was a human who was adopted by God as in Mark, some thought Jesus was just a spirit, some thought he was a spirit that occupied Jesus’ body and left him when the going got tough, some thought God was trying to repair the damage Yahweh had done as they didn’t think the OT God and the NT God could be the same. There were Gnostics who thought the key to heaven was acquiring the right knowledge to get in. Bart Ehrman wrote a book about them called Lost Christianities.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Any sources that you are expecting to confirm that Resurrection would be from those that believe.”

          Isn’t this kinda biased? I mean, there are plenty of Joseph Smith’s followers who attest that he is the awesomest prophet of god ever, do you believe them? If not, why not?

        • Albert

          Since when does bias make things wrong? If that was the case, then Bob’s article that we are commenting on would be dismissed as invalid just on the point alone, right? And so would all of your comments.

          No, we don’t deem things false because the source is biased; we deem it false because the information shows it to be false.

          And any views on Mormonism would be looked at in the same way.

        • Greg G.

          Since when does bias make things wrong?

          When the bias is the cause for selecting poor evidence while rejecting strong evidence to the contrary, for starters.

        • wtfwjtd

          Bias don’t necessarily render a reported event wrong, just unconfirmable. In the case of the Jesus story, we don’t merely have a normal claim, we have an extraordinary one. You have stated above there is no other source outside the gospels to confirm the resurrection story, and I agree. So, it’s down to the writers of the gospels; how do they fare as witnesses? Not very well, it turns out. For one, we don’t even know who wrote them; names weren’t attached to them until the second century or later. Further, they were written decades after the events they report; stories can and do get embellished over time. And finally, Mark was the first gospel, and modern scholarship has conclusively demonstrated that the other three gospel writers copied from Mark. So, we are now down to one unknown author, writing a story decades later, who also happens to be a believer, making an extraordinary claim. In light of this, don’t you think skepticism in accepting the story at face value is not only justifiable, but mandatory?

        • MNb

          Then again: what is your method? Why reject the story of the Phoenix and accept the Resurrection?

        • Albert

          I guess you are not fond of reading what I posted, huh? I never said I reject the account of the Phoenix. I have never looked into this account to give view one way or the other.

        • MNb

          What I’m fond of or not is irrelevant here. OK.
          What about the fairies in my backyard tending flowers? Demons running my computer? Do you reject them? If yes, why? If not, what supernatural claim do you reject and why? In short: what is your method?

        • Albert

          You said, “What I’m fond of or not is irrelevant here. OK.”

          Actually, it’s not irrelevant. Because if you read what I posted, you wouldn’t have to ask your questions.

          You said, “What about the fairies in my backyard tending flowers”

          What about them?

          You said, “Demons running my computer? Do you reject them? If yes, why? If not,
          what supernatural claim do you reject and why? In short: what is your
          method?”

          Are you claiming that there are demons running your computer?
          Can you provide evidence for these demons?

          The fact is, I have no reason to reject any claims of the supernatural unless they can be explained away by naturalistic explanations.

          My method is to take each claim and base them all on their own merits.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The fact is, I have no reason to reject any claims of the supernatural unless they can be explained away by naturalistic explanations.

          That’s your approach? Every supernatural claim is plausibly true and you’ll investigate it as if it has, say, a 1% or better chance of being true?

          (To old timers: I think Karl Udy was claiming this approach a while back.)

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, Karl Udy. Good times.

        • Albert

          You said, “That’s your approach? Every supernatural claim is plausibly true and
          you’ll investigate it as if it has, say, a 1% or better chance of being
          true?”

          Nope. Context is required for supernatural claims to be plausible.

          If someone’s dad died and then a week later people started calling the guy and telling them they saw his dad at the mall, that might not be plausible at all. Investigation would have to be done, of course. But if the dad, before he died, told the son I will be at the mall in a week, then a week after he died people were calling the guy saying they saw his dad at the mall, the plausibility does go up a bit, doesn’t it?

          I have no reason to believe that wftwjtd as fairies in his garden tending his flowers. But, if he said, they showed up on Saturday and now are there every night at 8:00. Then I have some context. I have a reason to consider it plausible. However unlikely it might be, there is no reason to dismiss the idea that it’s true. That is, until you explain it away by naturalistic terms. And yes, he could just be making up a story. But if he claims he is not, then why not consider it true and see what follows?
          After all, we can not prove the supernatural does not exist. So then leave it on the table where context gives reason to do so.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But if the dad, before he died, told the son I will be at the mall in a week, then a week after he died people were calling the guy saying they saw his dad at the mall, the plausibility does go up a bit, doesn’t it?

          You think that’s a parallel to the gospel story? Show me.

          And yes, he could just be making up a story. But if he claims he is not, then why not conside r it tru e and see what follows?

          Is this a trick question? Because there simply isn’t enough time to give every insane claim the benefit of the doubt and track it down to verify.

          Which religious claims are true, which are false, and how do you know the difference?

        • Albert

          The parallel is that Jesus is mentioned telling the disciples that he would going to die and be raised up 3 days later. The whole temple confusion issue, remember?
          Plus he speaks about him dying at the last supper.

          You won’t see it that way because it was all just written into the story, so the plot was fabricated before he happened.

          You said, “Is this a trick question? Because there simply isn’t enough time to give every insane claim the benefit of the doubt and track it down to verify.”

          Not a trick question at all. I do this all the time with claims from people, such as yourself, make. I give the claim the benefit of the doubt, consider it true, and see what follows.

          Does the logic flow correctly, or do I find fault in the logic?

          For example. If someone said, “All religions are basically the same.”

          We could give that claim the benefit of the doubt and see if logic follows from that claim.

          God may be one according to the Abrahamic religions, but even how the Abrahamic religions see God is different between them all. Buddhists believe in no god, and many Hindus believe in 330,000. This isn’t even considering the differences in the characters of these divinities.
          Is God a warrior like Hinduism’s Kali or a mild-mannered pacifist like the Quakers’ Jesus?

          When you take this statement to its logical end, we see it is fallacious.

          Why not do that with everything?

          In regards to time, many of these become apparent rather quickly and require very little time to come to a conclusion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The parallel is that Jesus is mentioned telling the disciples that he would going to die and be raised up 3 days later.

          A comment never starts out well if I’m having to explain the other guy’s anecdote to him.

          (1) Dad predicts that he’ll be at the mall in a week, then he dies, then he’s documented alive and well at the mall, right on schedule.

          (2) Some dude in the first century writes down a story that has Jesus predicting his resurrection and then dying and then appearing to his peeps. When it’s a story, the characters will do whatever you want them to.

          I do this all the time with claims from people, such as yourself, make.

          I don’t doubt it. What you don’t do is treat every single stinking supernatural claim in the entire world as plausible and then track them down to see if they hold up.

          There’s a large section in the library titled “Mythology.” You can search fanciful stories and miracle claims on the internet. I’m surprised you’ve got time to waste with me when there are so many supernatural claims to track down. You’re an open-minded guy—maybe this Christianity thing is nonsense. Given the enormous number of religions, it would be inconceivable that the correct religion would just happen to be the one of your own culture (I assume this is the case for you?). You’re way too relaxed given all the work ahead of you and how unlikely you are to be correct right now.

          On a related topic, give me the algorithm you use to separate true supernatural claims from false ones.

        • MNb

          “Can you provide evidence for these demons?”
          The same evidence you provide for the Resurrection.

          “I have no reason to reject any claims of the supernatural unless they can be explained away by naturalistic explanations.”
          The Resurrection can be explained away by naturalistic explanations.

          “base them all on their own merits.”
          Ie ad hoc.
          Thanks. You have made perfectly clear why we can reject the Resurrections as a supernatural phenomenon.

        • Kodie

          The fact is, I have no reason to reject any claims of the
          supernatural unless they can be explained away by naturalistic
          explanations.

          ‘Explained away’, or ‘proven to have a naturalistic cause beyond any shred of doubt’? Because you are applying a double-standard here and you admit it.

          My method is to take each claim and base them all on their own merits.

          Your method is to cling beyond reason to supernatural explanations that support your belief and deny naturalistic explanations waving them away.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Seriously? You’re actually going to investigate the Phoenix story because there’s a decent chance that it must just be true?

        • MNb

          He should so. Plus the story of the fairies in my garden and the story of the demons running my computer.

        • Albert

          You keep talking about these fairies in your garden, but when I asked you if this is your claim, you never reply. Why is that?

          Are there fairies in your garden? If so, where is your evidence for this claim?
          Are there demons in your computer? If so, where is your evidence for this claim?

        • Pofarmer

          If you have Windows 8, the Demon thing might be the most beleivable.

        • Albert

          Why not? Why should we dismiss information because it doesn’t fit with our world view from the start?

          What’s the worst that can happen? I learn a little more about something from history, right? I learn that it is true or false. Isn’t that the whole point about learning?

          Wouldn’t it be better to spend a little time investigating it to confirm the conclusion you have already came to? Isn’t it better to approach things with an open mind with a zeal to learn?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why not? Why should we dismiss information because it doesn’t fit with our world view from the start?

          Why indeed? Who knows if that next breath is safe? Who knows if that next step is solid? Sure, you’ve walked down this sidewalk a thousand times before, but who’s to say that things are still safe?

          No one said anything about dismissing anything. I’m talking about using the past as a quick winnowing tool for new claims.

          The Phoenix? That looks like it would fit nicely with the 10,000 other claims in the “Mythology” bin.

          The next piece of concrete in the sidewalk is actually a portal to another dimension? That looks like the other fears in the “Now you’re just being silly” bin.

          I’ll bet, like all the rest of us, you use these tools as well. You might try them on supernatural claims.

          As for your zeal to learn, do you have a stack of books of the various religions past and present that you’re going through to see if you find any that are more true than your current Christianity? Or are you just living out the religion of your environment?

        • Albert

          As I think I said before. I don’t know enough about the account to give much input. Without reading more of it. I see no reason to continue discussing it until I learned more.

          I have some from the major ones that are popular today. I don’t have all of them, that’s for sure.

        • Kodie

          When you return from your research into the Phoenix, please tell us how you came to conclude that it was not real.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          There are lots of supernatural claims, most of them non-Christian. What do you think of them? Do you accept them all? Skeptical? Don’t know?

          I’m thinking that you may be about as skeptical as I am about the supernatural claims of the Mormon or Scientologist or Hindu. What do you think?

        • Albert

          “There are lots of supernatural claims, most of them non-Christian. What
          do you think of them? Do you accept them all? Skeptical? Don’t know?”

          I examine every claim on it’s own merit. Do I accept them all? Of course not. Many, like the mention of Fatima, show themselves to be false.

          You said, “I’m thinking that you may be about as skeptical as I am about the supernatural claims of the Mormon or Scientologist or Hindu. What do you think?”

          I’m not sure. How skeptical are you?

        • wtfwjtd

          What criteria do you use to determine if you think a claim is true? How did you determine that, for example, the mention of the Fatima was false?

        • Albert

          I was using science and medical research to dismiss Fatima.

          There is this thing called Crowd psychology that could explain away what happened there. I’m not saying it explains it all away, but it gives credence to consider some of the claims as a type of Crowd psychosis. Mind you this is not with any in-depth consideration. This is merely a quick survey of the incident.

        • wtfwjtd

          “I was using science and medical research to dismiss Fatima.”

          That’s a good place to start Albert, and a healthy way to get a more accurate take on the world around you. And if you can get to the point where you can apply those same criteria to all supernatural claims, you can better understand why a skeptic has difficulty in accepting them, no matter where they originate from.

        • CodyGirl824

          And I’ll bet that many skeptics are people who have not experienced a miracle in their own lives so that they can identify miraculous elements in the testimony of others.

        • wtfwjtd

          Hence the requirement of skeptics that testimonies that claim miraculous events be attested to by multiple sources from multiple angles. If I tell you I have a car parked in my garage, that’s a rather ordinary thing and easy enough to accept. If I tell you I have a nuclear missile in my garage, that’s a much more extraordinary claim that would require more than just my say-so. That is, unless you enjoy being made a fool of.

        • MNb

          Still I’d rather believe you have a missile in your garage than an unobservable dragon. Cody’s god falls in the second category.
          Until she provides a reliable method to separate correct supernatural claims from incorrect ones, of course. But I have been asking for a while now and didn’t exactly received an answer besides “you’re silly”, which she has retracted as a methodology.

        • MNb

          Define miracle. Is superconductivity at relatively high temperature a miracle? Hint: it breaks all the natural laws (specifically Nobelprice winning BCS theory) we know.
          Thing is I have experienced “miracles”: clairvoyance, telepathy, out of body experience, hearing voices when nobody was there. Thing is that almost all of these experiences sooner or later (and in the case of hearing voices I had to wait a few decades) received naturalistic explanations. There are a few left, but my bet is that there are naturalistic explanations for them as well. Assuming there are not is in the end just a supernatural stuff of the gaps.

        • Pofarmer

          I believe in invisible pink unicorns. I know they are invisible because I’ve never seen one, I know they are pink because of faith.

        • Kodie

          So you came up with a naturalistic explanation you can’t prove and dismissed a supernatural claim. Quickly.

        • Kodie

          Would you believe Christianity were true even if there were no reward in it?

        • Albert

          Yes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (I was about to say that this was just a story and that we can’t take it as history without showing that it is indeed history, but Albert would jump all over me …)

        • Albert

          That’s not true Bob. As long as you show how you come to the conclusion that it is a story not based on any priori that the supernatural does not exist. :)

        • Pofarmer

          Randal helms “Gospel Fictions” got me started. Then Robert g. Price. “The Gospel of Mark as Allegory” (free online). Robert M. Price had an influence. “New Testament Stories as Old testament Midrash”. The Homeric odsysey and the similarities in the Gospel of Mark. Bart Ehrman in various ways pointing out the differences in the four Gospels, that they are basically four different theologies, and Bart Ehrman and Richarx Carrier both pointing out that the NT stories, for various reasons, are Greek stories and not originally Aramaic or Hebrew. Bruce Malinas tideas on Revelations as Ancient Astrology just cemented it.. There is simply too much contradiction and reliance on earlier works in the NT. In there falls Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, and who knows how many other authors both published and unpublished. Oh, heck, forgot Hitchens, Harris,Dennet, and Dawkins.

        • Albert

          “There is simply too much contradiction and reliance on earlier works in the NT.”

          What contradictions?

        • Greg G.

          The Resurrection is the most important part of Christianity but the Gospels cannot be reconciled when you look at all the details. Bob did an article on that around Easter.

          Is the birth Narrative important? Try reconciling those accounts.

          Was Jesus from Nazareth or Capernaum? Mark seems to think he was from Capernaum, according to Mark 2:1-2, Mark 3:19-21, and Mark 9:33. Matthew strains to reconcile those with prophecies, one of which is absurd and the other is imaginary.

        • CodyGirl824

          “…cannot be reconciled when you look at all the details”? When four different witnesses testify in a criminal case, one may say that the killer was wearing a purple shirt and another say that he was wearing a blue shirt. Yet another may say that he was wearing a jacket. Do we acquit him based on these “irreconcilable differences” in the detail of the witnesses’s testimony. You should read what many eminent New Testament scholars have to say about Bart Ehrman’s analysis of the details of the gospel accounts of the resurrection. Then also read Jim Warner Wallace’s book, “Cold Case Christianity.”

          As for prophesy, the important question, and really the only question is this: Was/is Jesus the Messiah that God promised us?

        • MNb

          You’re using the scientific method, ie methodological naturalism to investigate a supernatural event, namely the Resurrection. I thought that was verboten according by you.

        • Greg G.

          When four different witnesses testify in a criminal case, one may say that the killer was wearing a purple shirt and another say that he was wearing a blue shirt. Yet another may say that he was wearing a jacket. Do we acquit him based on these “irreconcilable differences” in the detail of the witnesses’s testimony.

          No, the case would be dismissed when you see the discrepancies were due to theological reasons, that the basic facts come from novels. not only is there no body and the reason given is it magically disappeared, and there is no evidence that there actually was a person in the first place.

          As for prophesy, the important question, and really the only question is this: Was/is Jesus the Messiah that God promised us?

          That presumes that there was a Jesus.

        • CodyGirl824

          Are you familiar with the geography of that region of Israel? Have you considered the possibility that Capernaum is the name of the region around the Sea of Galilee and not just the city of Capernaum, which is very close to Nazareth. Nazareth is a very small village, considered in Jesus’ time to be a real “backwater town.” Another possibility is that Mark may have been concerned about pumping up Jesus’ demographic credentials by claiming that he was “from” the more important city of Capernaum. So how does this cast into doubt whether Jesus was the promised Messiah to the Israelites? You really are grasping at geographical straws.

        • Greg G.

          Are you familiar with the geography of that region of Israel? Have you considered the possibility that Capernaum is the name of the region around the Sea of Galilee and not just the city of Capernaum, which is very close to Nazareth.

          If Nazareth was in a region called Capernaum, why would Matthew 4:13-16 have him moving there from Nazareth to fulfill something he calls a prophecy that he would be from Galilee? Matthew 2:23 has Matthew making up a prophecy to give a reason for them moving to Nazareth in the first place. Capernaum would have been about 30 miles from Nazareth if there was a Nazareth at the time. That would be a day’s travel with an early start.

          Nazareth is a very small village, considered in Jesus’ time to be a real “backwater town.”

          They assume Nazareth was very small because they have tried very hard to locate it but have found zero evidence that it existed in the early first century.

          Another possibility is that Mark may have been concerned about pumping up Jesus’ demographic credentials by claiming that he was “from” the more important city of Capernaum.

          Or he didn’t care much at all what city Jesus came from and just picked one.

          So how does this cast into doubt whether Jesus was the promised Messiah to the Israelites?

          The question was “What contradictions?”

          You really are grasping at geographical straws.

          Projection. I am pointing out what the gospels actually say. “Capernaum is the name of the region around the Sea of Galilee” is a geographical straw. “Nazareth is a very small village” is a geographical straw. “Pumping up Jesus’ demographic credentials” is a geographical straw.

        • Pofarmer

          galilee was the equivalent of a county. capernaum was not. This really is amatuer hour.

        • Kodie

          Another possibility is that Mark may have been concerned about pumping
          up Jesus’ demographic credentials by claiming that he was “from” the
          more important city of Capernaum. So how does this cast into doubt
          whether Jesus was the promised Messiah to the Israelites?

          So you are willing to overlook/accept that Mark might have been lying about Jesus to make him seem more impressive? You are really grasping at… I mean, you are really forgiving of liars for Jesus. No wonder you identify with the story.

        • CodyGirl824

          You didn’t read carefully and thoroughly. (Reading comprehension issues.) My best guess is that Nazareth is a small town in the region (state) of Capernaum so Mark was identifying the region by name. I have visited this region in Israel and understand its geography. This is just another example of how much you love to accuse people of lying. Nonetheless, this does not rise to the level of a contradiction in the testimony.

        • Kodie

          I read that part. What interested me more was you justifying and accepting a lie in the testimony for the purposes of enhancing Jesus’s image. Did you forget that you said that? Do you think that’s not important? I don’t give a shit about Capernaum or where it is or that you were there, 2000 years later.

          Why is it ok to speculate on the misinformation in the testimony for you but not for us? Why is it ok for you to come up with plausible scenarios why the information is contradictory (such as “maybe Mark lied”) if you can’t prove it, but we can’t suggest it was cobbled together from regional folk tales in a less than careful manner, which is even more plausible than Mark lying? Where is your objective source of ethics that you feel lying is ok?

          What you are doing is redirecting. You fucked up and you hope I won’t remember and follow your lead and talk about anything else, or as you often put it “the real issue” or “what’s really important”. You really are most egotistical if you think we’re here to talk about just what you want to talk about. What about the cross-examination? I thought you favored the courtroom analogy, and you are a terrible witness. You are lying on the stand. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Reading comprehension issues.

          You got that right. I read the Wikipedia article, and it mentioned only the town. Show me the part about it also being the name of a region.

        • Pofarmer

          Is preproggramed apologetics the best you can do? You have 4 different birth accounts, 4 varying trial crucifixion and ressurection accounts. Did Jesus speak at the trial or did he stay silent? Acts contradicts Paul in various places. Paul and Timothy contradict Paul on the place of women in the Church. Paul, Cephas, and James all disagree on points of theology, for starters. I know this is what you’ve been trained to hone in on, and I know your excuses, but that’s not anywhere near the important stuff.

        • Albert

          Oh, so what you are saying is they should be more like all written verbatim, right? No wait, then you would consider them to be plagiarized, right?

          Isn’t it possible that they were written a bit different from each other because different people are giving the accounts from their own view?

          After all, not everyone sees things the same way, right?

          But, they do have the main points the same, Jesus was on trial, he was beaten and crucified on a cross, died and then was seen alive and well after 3 days. Sounds like eye witness accounts from different people to me.

        • Pofarmer

          No. Read ths four Gospels seperately. They aren’t 4 different accounts of the same events. They are 4 different theologies. How did 3 out of the four Gospel writers miss a multi hour eclipse, earthquake, and rising of the Saints? Better yet, read mark, then Matthew, then Luke, then John, and watch the changes in the story.

        • wtfwjtd

          Here’s a good one for you Albert: In Acts 26:23, Paul states that “the Christ was the first to rise from the dead.”
          Now, we know from reading Luke’s own account and the other gospels that Jesus raised several people from the dead, as well as Matthew reporting a zombie apocalypse in ch 27:53. If Paul really knew of all the gospel stories of Jesus, surely he could not have made such an obvious and blatant error.
          It’s not any one error or contradiction that makes the gospel stories unbelievable, but the accumulation of multiple errors that brings the veracity of the stories in question. Also, nearly everything that Mark writes about can be found in the literature of the day, from Homer to the Old Testament. And you don’t have to take our word for this, you can research it and verify for yourself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like eye witness accounts from different people to me.

          So we take incompatible stories, keep the parts where they pretty much agree, and bingo! We have a coherent story.

          I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works in history.

          But more importantly, you don’t go from “these stories fit fairly well together” to “they’re eyewitness testimony!”

        • Albert

          You said, “So we take incompatible stories, keep the parts where they pretty much agree, and bingo! We have a coherent story.”

          I’m suggesting that some of the details in one account are added because this is what that person that wrote that account, or the person they interviewed, saw themselves.

          It would be no different than two witnesses to a burglary.
          Maybe on guy saw a man in his late 30’s with a red shirt and a jacket running from the scene with a gun in his hand. And a different person saw only a man in his mid 20’s running from the scene with a jacket on and carrying a bag.

          Does that mean these are two different burglaries? Of course not. The man that saw the color of the shirt could have been watching the whole thing from the perspective where the man running from the scene was
          heading towards him and the other guy that witnessed it was watching it as the man ran away from him. So he didn’t see the shirt color, he only saw the jacket. There was no gun mentioned because maybe the direction he was running, the gun was in front of him. So he only mentioned the bag he was carrying. The other guy didn’t mention the bag because perhaps he was running too fast and was only able to see the gun and the shirt color.

          There is nothing that would conclude they were looking at two different burglaries. And the same can be said about the Resurrection accounts either.

          We also have to consider that the audiences for these books were different. Mark, seems to be for the Romans, Matthew for the Jews, John seems to be written to a Gentile audience and Luke to one person.

          These differences could give reason why some of the things that are mentioned are different.

          I never write my resume for web design the same if I’m looking for a job that is more database focused. The skill set would not fit the audience. The same here.

          You said, “But more importantly, you don’t go from “these stories fit fairly well together” to “they’re eyewitness testimony!””

          Okay; the fact that I said they “fit fairly well together” has not bearing on them being eye witness testimony or not.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The difference between the burglary stories and the gospel stories is that only one of them makes supernatural claims. That’s an issue for me.

          I imagine that you’re in general skeptical of supernatural claims as well.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, is there anywhere other than in relationship to religion and the sacred texts of religions where we encounter what you call supernatural claims? Or at least ones that aren’t easily discounted through the usual methods of inquiry and research? I see no problem with skepticism about supernatural claims. I do have a problem with the complete denial and rejection of all supernatural claims on the basis of a belief that they are impossible. I even agree with scientists who say that science does not preclude the supernatural (what I prefer to term, the metaphysical). It simply is beyond the scope and capacity of science to study the supernatural or supernatural events (miracles).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          is there anywhere other than in relationship to religion and the sacred texts of religions where we encounter what you call supernatural claims?

          Ghosts and other spirits might be one category; fairies and other intelligent magical beings might be another. Wouldn’t you call these supernatural?

          I do have a problem with the complete denial and rejection of all supernatural claims on the basis of a belief that they are impossible.

          That’s not me.

          And let me ask you what I just asked Albert: what algorithm do you use to separate correct supernatural claims from bogus ones?

        • Greg G.

          Here’s another:

          John 5:31 If I bear witness (martyreō) of myself, my witness (martyria) is not true (alēthēs).

          John 8:31 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record (martyreō) of myself, yet my record (martyria) is true (alēthēs): for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

          The Greek words are the same but the English translation uses different words, possibly to obscure the contradiction.

        • Greg G.

          Read MacDonald’s The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark then reread Helm’s Gospel Fictions. Then when Helms’ refers to “oral traditions”, you see them in a different light.

        • Pofarmer

          But isn’t the proper assumption, given that in 800 or so years of the scientific method the supernatural has never been shown to exist, that it doesn’t? Out of all the countless experiments run, all the results honed, all the observations, not once. And that says nothing to yoj?

        • Albert

          If that was the case, then we would still believe the earth to be flat, right?

          Since when is there a limitation on discovery? Plus, for the scientific method to find the supernatural, it would first not remove it, priori, as it does.

          Science is a philosophy first. And that philosophy removes the supernatural before science can even take place.

        • wtfwjtd

          Science is simply a method of deriving truth. We rely on it so heavily in modern society because it has been shown to be by far the most reliable method of discovering the truth we seek.
          There has never once in the history of mankind been an event that has occurred that was explained naturally, only to be later shown to occur supernaturally. It’s always the other way round: things we thought were supernatural end up having a perfectly natural cause. Things like lightning, tornadoes, disease, famine, etc. were all at one time thought to be cause by the supernatural, only to be shown to have a predictable and very natural cause after all.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are making a claim about which you cannot possibly be possession of all the evidence for making. Ex post facto explanations of events do not eliminate the possibility that an occurrence was miraculous. And what about those minor “miracles” of healing, comfort and serendipity and spiritual experiences that occur in the lives of ordinary people that possibly they and only a few loved ones know about, or shared in experiencing? You are talking from a very narrow and remote data base considering the way God interacts with ordinary human beings all the time, not just in history.

        • wtfwjtd

          No, I can make such a bold claim because that’s exactly where all the evidence points. Period. You think differently? Then back it up with evidence. A “Cody says so” just won’t cut it.
          Evidence, you understand? That’s all I care about. As for those “minor miracles”, once again, just “because Cody says so” don ‘t cut it. Evidence is what the skeptic and rational mind demands, not emotional claims or speculation.

        • CodyGirl824

          This “Cody says so” business is silly. If you were really sincere about discovering the truth about miracles, you would ask a practicing Christian who you know and respect to do what we call “witnessing” with/for you. Listen to what s/he has to say about minor “miracles” and spiritual experiences. Examine his or her credibility. Does s/he live a life of peace, joy, comfort, charity, love and self-discipline? Does s/he describe how God has transformed his/her life or brought healing in some way, as in overcoming addiction or finding a way to save a failing marriage? People of faith are ordinary, everyday people, just like the family of Jesus and the disciples and apostles, who through their association with Jesus accomplished amazing things that changed the world. Please, don’t believe it just because Cody says so.

        • wtfwjtd

          Why should I care about “minor miracles?” I want confirmation of the big stuff. I’m very familiar with all the emotional claims of Christianity and plenty of Christians. What I want and demand is evidence for the extraordinary claims that Christianity is based on.
          You seem to be beholden to the mistaken belief that people are always free to choose their beliefs. Do you choose to believe in gravity, or not? Do you choose to fly or not? Do you choose to be left- or right-handed? I can no more choose to believe in your god than you can choose not to believe in gravity. BTW, why did you choose Christianity? What made it so appealing to you?

        • Kodie

          If this is your way of determining veracity of Christianity, you ought to try listening to atheists when we talk to you. Because none of those things requires a theistic explanation or leads a rational person to a theistic conclusion. How they describe how “god” works through them does nothing to settle the question. Their beliefs are real as Dumbo thought he could fly because he was holding a feather in his trunk – superstition. As for respecting Christians to let them witness to us:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you were really sincere about discovering the truth about miracles …

          Why should I be sincere about discovering the truth about miracles? You’re not.

          Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps you’ve done a serious study of miracle claims in other religions and have interviewed many believers who’ve experienced non-Christian miracles.

        • MNb

          Same for you as for Albert.

          “do not eliminate the possibility that an occurrence was miraculous”
          Your methodology of researching such claims is
          1. if I like it I accept it.
          2. if I don’t like it it’s silly.
          Shall I repeat my story of how you robbed our local bank yesterday? It’s not any more miraculous than the examples you provided.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, this is not the “methodology” for determining that an event was/is miraculous. It has nothing to do with the verb “to like.”

        • MNb

          Well, you were the one who dismissed my story of how you robbed our local bank, arrived and left by supernatural means (Rowling describes it in her Harry Potter series; I’m too lazy to look it up now and the movie Jumper has something similar) with “you’re silly”.
          But despite being a nasty guy I’m always willing to give you another chance. Why dismiss my story about you but not the Resurrection? At least I don’t claim you died and came back to life.

        • Kodie

          What about “minor miracles”? You mean things that have natural explanations that you attribute to the intervention of a supernatural deity by mistake? Do you not understand probability? Do you not understand human biology or psychology? This is your question? How do we explain all the “minor miracles”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ex post facto explanations of events do not eliminate the possibility that an occurrence was miraculous.

          Agreed. So what?

          Is your argument, “You can’t prove that my belief is wrong, so therefore I’m justified in holding it”?

          And what about those minor “miracles” of healing, comfort and serendipity

          Only God’s existence can explain these?

        • CodyGirl824

          I find the whole notion of someone proving someone else’s belief wrong to be rather strange. Why would anyone do this, if not because the person who wants to “disprove” someone else’s belief is threatened in some way by what other person believes. Yes, there are events and occurrences that can only be explained if/since God exists. That’s the definition of a miracle. And of course, if miracles never happened, we would not be able to put a linguistic and conceptual (cognitive) label to them. Miracles are evidence of God. That’s why they give atheists fits.

        • Pofarmer

          “if miracles never happened, we would not be able to put a linguistic and
          conceptual (cognitive) label to them. Miracles are evidence of God.”

          This is just so incredibly stupid. It used to be believed that the Sun rising and setting was a miracle. That the tides were a miracle. That rain was a miracle. That someone not dying of a disease was a miracle.

          Does it mean, if you don’t understand something, and the community of
          physicists don’t understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you
          want to play this game? Because if it is, here’s a list of things in the
          past that the physicists at the time didn’t understand [and now we do
          understand] […]. If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for
          God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s
          getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on – so just be
          ready for that to happen, if that’s how you want to come at the problem.
          “The Moon, the Tides and why Neil DeGrasse Tyson is Colbert’s God”. © 2007-2011 The Science Network. January 20, 2011.

        • 90Lew90

          GUFFAW! Read Hume. Basically you’re saying: “If there were no miracles, we wouldn’t have a word for them.” I know you’re not a fundy (or at least you say you’re not), but that’s one for “Fundies Say the Darndest Things” for sure. That’s just about the daftest thing I’ve heard in months.

          So everything ever conceived of and given a label must necessarily exist? That’s a pretty good mangling of the already flawed transcendental argument you’ve given there. Leave it to you, eh?

          “A little learning is a dangerous thing.
          Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
          There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
          and drinking largely sobers us again.”
          — Alexander Pope

        • Kodie

          You need to learn about statistics and probability. I think that might be one subject you haven’t covered in your quest to learn all about how “god’s creation” works. You have never witnessed an actual natural impossibility. If it happened, then it must be naturally possible, and if it is naturally possible, the cause can be researched by the scientific method. You are also relying too much on what you call “minor miracles” where you elevate the naturally possible and often not as rare and special as you think to the classification of “miracle” or “due to god’s intervention”.

          healing, comfort and serendipity and spiritual experiences

          You mean, getting better, feeling better, coincidence, and neurological occurrences. That all happens because god? You see what you want to see, hallucinations and religious delusions are also real and not caused by god. What are the real miracles? “Miracle” is a term used by humans to describe something they don’t understand had a natural cause. Because you don’t understand how language works either.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i was lucky enough to get a rhetoric workshop in my 5th grade english class. i think some grounding in semiotics should be similarly early in any mandatory education system.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I find the whole notion of someone proving someone else’s belief wrong to be rather strange. Why would anyone do this, if not because the person who wants to “disprove” someone else’s belief is threatened in some way by what other person believes.

          Ah! So that’s why I’m mean to Christians. Thank you, doc. Do I just pay on the way out?

          Every political or policy or even sports team argument is because the two people are threatened by the ideas in the other person’s head? In some cases, I suggest that the other ideas are simply seen as wrong. Sometimes, those wrong ideas have consequences (Christianity comes to mind).

          Yes, there are events and occurrences that can only be explained if/since God exists.

          There are certainly stories of such things. That so many have natural explanations suggests that maybe the few puzzlers will also have natural explanations.

          Miracles are evidence of God. That’s why they give atheists fits.

          We don’t have miracles. We have stories of miracles. That’s what gives Christian fits.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Bob, we have miracles. Miracles are not just stories. They are experiences. You can try to discredit stories of about miracles, but you cannot convince another person that s/he or they did not experience what s/he or they experienced. You can attempt to get the person to interpret or express their report of their experience in different terms to satisfy your feelings of threat from the way they interpret and describe their experience, but this is just an exercise in trying to get someone else to use your “algorithm” for interpreting their experience. Keep in mind that many miracles are experienced by many people simultaneously, so forget about arguing that miracles are merely “subjective.” Interpretations may be subjective even when experiences are not.

        • Kodie

          Here is another example of your reading comprehension. People experience something they can’t explain – nobody is saying they didn’t have the experience. The term at dispute is ‘miracle’ – was the cause of the experience from a sentient spirit from a meta-physical realm? You seem to think that’s what having an experience you can’t explain means, to everybody. It just means the person can’t explain and you can’t explain. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a natural explanation. It only means that people disregard or do not seek natural explanations if they can easily attribute it to the intervention of a spirit.

          You haven’t said anything was a miracle except a list of things that are possible in the natural world and naturally explained by statistics and human emotion. Just because you don’t like those explanations doesn’t mean there is no other way than a “miracle” to explain them. You take people at their word that they experienced something, and then you are quick to agree with their ignorant explanation for it. That is your interpretation, that is not anything that’s really there. You posted 3 scientific (? I couldn’t read them online) studies of the brain having what a person would describe a “religious experience” to see what happens in the brain. How hard is it for you to understand that that isn’t “evidence”, as you’ve been misusing it, for a spiritual being causing those experiences.

        • CodyGirl824

          Several of these studies are of Buddhist monks, clergy from various Christian denominations and Catholic nuns scanning their brain activity during meditation. These research subjects who are volunteer participants in the studies who are in the process of “getting in touch with” the spiritual reality, however they define or describe that reality linguistically and conceptually and cognitively. The research subjects themselves define what THEY mean by the spiritual that they sense during meditation. The researchers do not. The evidence that the researchers collect and analyze is brain activity. That’s what they define as evidence. They never consulted me or you about what constitutes evidence and they never will.

        • Kodie

          No, you add “theological implications” to a study that researched brain activity. I still don’t think you understand anything I or anyone says. I don’t know why you posted the studies, what point you were trying to make with it, and I asked you then, and you didn’t answer me then. You seem to think it’s showing something we should find compelling.

        • CodyGirl824

          I have made it clear that there is the science, which is free of any discussion or interpretations based on religious or spiritual beliefs, and there are theological implications of the science. I do not “add” theological implications to a methodologically sound research study. I discover them through analysis and interpretation. This is how it works. As I thought we both agreed, science itself is silent on “The God Question” as it must be.

        • Kodie

          Right, science studied the brain experience. That’s all they found – experiences are real and where in the brain they occur.

          Implications are added if they are not found in the study. You posted the studies… why? Hoping that we would intuit the theological implications? Was this a point in favor of theology being implied? Was theology implied? Science found no such thing, probably because it’s not there. Theology is the only one that thinks so. It’s added. You sought out these theological implications on your own perhaps? I would categorize that as “adding” because theology is an unnecessary scope of the study and stands on the results of the study to make shit up about what it means. That’s all theology is. The rest of us don’t need to filter scientific findings through theology to understand things of add any “implications” that are not found in the results. A person can have a religious belief (you do) and a religious experience (you have) and that experience can show up on a brain scan (I don’t think you were subjected to the study, be can extrapolate from the data that your brain probably behaves like the other Christian subjects). That’s it!

          Your implication adds “they had a spiritual communique with a sentient being in another realm”. There was no evidence for that in the study AND the study was not evidence of that conclusion. It is conjecture, interpolation – made up to enhance the theology (which is useless to all fields of study outside of itself). You seem to have a problem comprehending that.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry Kodie, but I’m afraid the stupid is just too strong with this one. Add Occam s razor to the things she’s apparently not aware of.

        • Kodie

          Let’s give her a fancy title, like ‘willfully ignorant’.

        • Pofarmer

          Culturally cognitively impaired”

        • hector_jones

          ‘Christian Troll’ works for me.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m about to give her the troll cold shoulder.

        • CodyGirl824

          These words that you quote here in this last paragraph are not mine, so why do put quotation marks around them. I agree that these studies cannot and did not detect “a sentient being in another realm.” However, this may be what the research subjects themselves reported. Who are you to say they are wrong?

        • 90Lew90

          That’s called paraphrasing. What are you studying and where? Micky Mouse-ology at Disney?

        • CodyGirl824

          Since I don’t know where the “paraphrasing” comes from and they are not my words, I need not explain them. If Kodie wants to get back to me on this, she will. You might ask her about Micky Mouse-ology at Disney. I wonder what scientific methodology they would use in this study since scanning Micky’s brain is not going to show much. Just goes to show you that you can find some foundation somewhere to fund almost any kind of nonsensical research study.

        • Kodie

          1. I don’t have 100% perfect grammar when I write. Everyone so far has been too polite to point it out to me, but I know anyway.

          2. It’s a paraphrase of things you’ve said. You’ve said things like that, and I summarized it to distinguish what you said amounts to “words inside of a pair of quotation marks” as “things you had talked about”. I am setting up and then exposing “a neat summary of what you believe the data evidenced” even though those weren’t “your exact words”.

          3. Your reading comprehension sucks way worse than my grammar.

        • Kodie

          It’s more like talking to a dog, so Intermediate Goofy would be my guess.

        • Kodie

          It’s your implication. The subjects reported they were having conversations with someone they believe is there. I believe that was the intent of the study, to research true believers. That is not data. That’s opinion. Why can’t you tell the difference when we are talking about believers and when we are talking about what’s real? Of course believers believe it’s real, or they wouldn’t be believers. Whether the object of their belief exists is a different thing. They are not credible witnesses to what is actually there. They are only credible witnesses to what they personally believe.

          I don’t expect you to be able to spot the differences in those sentences, but it’s pretty important to atheists that you do. Atheists are not mad at god, we’re not in denial that god exists. God is a figment in the minds of believers. We do of course acknowledge the existence of believers, and some of them, based on a fallacious emotion, do dangerous things because of it. It seems so real, it is sorry, like a psychosis. Most believers will not go that far, but they go too far. They vote against things because it says it in a book and god wants it. It’s not because god wants something and I don’t want it. It’s because the people are delusional.

          I told you, it is persuasive marketing. Your faith feels like it’s strongly tied to something like an anchor, but it’s not there. It’s not shown to be there, because it isn’t, not because science can’t detect it. If it was there, science would be able to detect it. It only detects what happens in the brain because that’s where your beliefs originate and live and grow and expand, not because there is something else out there communicating with you or any of the subjects. Why is your god hiding from science? How does that even make sense to you?

        • Pofarmer

          You are reading things into these studies that clearly aren’t there. When Christians pray, typically, it activates the centers of the brain that are concerned with speech, because Christians typically “Talk” to God. And the brain remembers these as real conversations. It’s the voice in your head. When Buddhists pray, it centers in an area of the brain concerned with spatial recognition. I can’t recall right now which part of the brain is active with Atheists. What this indicates to me, and I would think most researchers, Is that when we pray, we are, indeed, using parts of our brain, and our brain is recording the experience and sometimes giving us emotions and feelings based on it. It in no way indicates that there is some “outside metaphysical” that the brain is connecting to in these situations. Exactly the opposite, actually.

        • CodyGirl824

          What you do, Pofarmer, is to start out with a valid analysis of the methodology of these studies that I agree with. Then you say that the study(ies) “in no way indicates that there is some “outside metaphysical” that the brain in connecting to…” You are correct in that the study’s data cannot and do not indicate a connection within the brain to anything “outside metaphysical.” But this cannot be ruled out because this is what the research subject themselves report. In fact, it is what they are working to achieve through meditation and prayer. These studies cannot indicate “exactly the opposite” of a metaphysical connection because the methodology cannot detect such one way or another. The studies are silent on this question. The participants in the study are not.

        • Pofarmer

          “These studies cannot indicate “exactly the opposite” of a metaphysical
          connection because the methodology cannot detect such one way or
          another.”

          I wish you were kidding, but I know you’re not, unfortunately. If our brain were communicating with someone or something else, then yes, scientific methodology could, would, detect it. This is just. So. Stupid.

          Of course the participants in the studies think they are conversing with some other realm, that’s rather why they are doing it. As Richard Fenynman said, “You shouldn’t fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        • CodyGirl824

          Scientific methodology cannot detect God (spirit) but human beings can and do. Why conduct research on prayer and meditation if scientists believe that all of the brain activity they observe is simply self-induced? BTW, they have found that when they study the brain activity involved in “meditation”, they find very different patterns of activation of areas of the brain than with mocks and nuns. How do explain that scientific finding?

        • Pofarmer

          How do buddhists meditate vs atheists meditate vs christians praying..?

        • CodyGirl824

          As you will notice, I put the term “meditation” in quotation marks because I can’t recall if it was called this in the study(ies). As I recall, the researchers relied on the atheist participants to define their “spiritual” activity or reflection or whatever that they saw as equivalent to meditation for themselves.The self-selected method of meditation employed by the research subjects in these studies showed no different brain activities patterns between Buddhist monks, Christian clergy and nuns, but differences between atheists and the other groups. I’m trying to find if I have a URL for this/these studies in my files but this research was reported in a program on the Science channel. That’s where I heard about it.

        • Pofarmer

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGCe36hR40c

          Starting at about the 36 minute marks talks about results of brain scans.

        • CodyGirl824

          That was it!Thanks. You will see that I have previously referenced two books that Andrew Newberg has co-authored about this research.

        • Pofarmer

          Then you weren’t paying attention. When Christians pray, it lights up the language areas of the brain. When Buddhists pray/meditate, it lights up the spatial awareness areas of the brain. When atheists “meditate” they found no difference from a normal rest state. But, you need to know the differences in technique’s to know why. Which is also talked about. Christians pray as if they are talking to God, and the brain records it as a real conversation. Buddhists meditate on different things. I have heard of Buddhists concentrating on a color, red seems to be popular. Atheists just typically try to “clear the mind.” See what’s going on here? Newberg isn’t drawing any conclusions in this video, but it’s quite a stretch to transfer “How we pray affects how our brain reacts” to, “Praying reaches a meta-physical something or other.” In fact, what it says to me, is that praying is entirely a physical affair. Our brains are not that hard to fool.

        • 90Lew90

          What goes on in meditation is in most cases different from what is going on in prayer. The former produces tangible changes in the brain in conjunction with breathing techniques, which also affect heart-rate and CNS activity. The latter, by and large, produces sweet nothing.

          There have been many studies carried out on people meditating which show how brainwave activity is slowed down, again producing tangible physical results, often beneficial to the meditator. You don’t have to be a religious observer to be able to achieve a beneficial level of proficiency in meditation. Anyone can do it.

          A claim not made for meditation is however made for prayer, which is that the praying individual is in some way “communing” or “communicating” with the god in question. Meditation is not said to be “intercessory” in the way that prayer is.

          So we can (and do) observe physiological changes in the brain self-induced in the meditator, we cannot observe anything to substantiate the claim of the praying person that they’re engaged in intercession with their god. Most likely because they’re just not. Apart from that, prayer produces nothing like the effects that meditation does. The two practices are chalk and cheese.

          The only possibility of prayer having a similar affect to meditation is when “prayers” — for example the Rosary — are used like a mantra, and mantras are used specifically to remove distractions from the practitioner, to the extent that even the mantra itself fades away into insignificance.

          You could use “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pale of water” as a mantra and it would be just as effective as “Hail Mary, full of grace…”.

        • CodyGirl824

          What is called “prayer” is not just one single thing or type of activity and “intercessory prayer” is only one type of prayer, more defined by its content than its process. I also recommend William P. Alston (1991). Perceiving God: The epistemology of religious experience. Alston provides a comprehensive analysis of the practice of Christian mysticism, which is both prayer and meditation.

          Did you miss the part of the Through the Wormhole where Dr. Newberg explains that for people who believe in God, the brain activity during prayer is in the same area of the brain that is activated during conversation with another person? You are correct that science is incapable of detecting what/who the person praying is conversing with. We have to rely on self-reporting to know this.

        • 90Lew90

          The answer is simple. It’s their imaginary friend. I’d recommend to you The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, because I’m willing to bet James has already done the job and done it better.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, this is not the answer. Talking to an imaginary friend is called hallucinating, which is pathological. There is nothing in this research to indicate that the research subjects are/were hallucinating when they prayed and meditated. Prayer and meditation are normal activities, and, as these studies show as well as our general knowledge of religious and spiritual practice that produce states of well-being and wisdom that are much sought after by ordinary people through rigorous discipline and engagement in rituals. etc. You may wish to dismiss God and the reality of humans’ relationship with God by calling Him “imaginary” but this is merely your atheistic point of view. This opinion is worthless to those of us who have a relationship with God, of which prayer and meditation are a part.

        • 90Lew90

          “Talking to an imaginary friend is called hallucinating, which is pathological.”

          No, it’s called talking to an imaginary friend. Lots of kids do it, and they’re not suffering from any pathology.

          “There is nothing in this research to indicate that the research subjects are/were hallucinating when they prayed and meditated.”

          Now you’re running away with the hallucination line you’ve confected. It won’t wash. Nobody said they were hallucinating but you. You have a habit of doing this in response.

          You’re also continuing to conflate prayer with meditation. They are two wholly different practices, as I’ve already made clear. There is no evidence whatsoever that prayer produces anything like the same effect on the practitioner as meditation. That is because they are manifestly different.

          “You may wish to dismiss God and the reality of humans’ relationship with God by calling Him “imaginary” but this is merely your atheistic point of view. This opinion is worthless to those of us who have a relationship with God, of which prayer and meditation are a part.”

          Subjective experience does not equal “reality”. Being a scholar, I thought you might know that.

          Whatever of that, what about those questions of mine that you conveniently ignored/ran a mile from. How do you discern which bits of the Bible are fact and which are metaphor? And how does your god, who occupies the immaterial realm, outside of the universe, nonetheless interact with the material realm, particularly with individuals, since he is said to constantly be on the end of the line for intercession, for instance in prayer?

          Answers please. These are important questions which naturally arise from claims you’ve made about both your god and about the Bible.

        • CodyGirl824

          First, as to your distinction between prayer and meditation. I agree with you. They are not the same thing. This is why I cited Alston’s book because he studies Christian mysticism, which is a combined practice of prayer and meditation and is therefore more encompassing of real-life religious/spiritual practices where the lines between prayer and meditation are frequently blurred in the lives of practicing mystics.

          You are straying from the conversation about these studies with your remark about “subjective experience.” These brain activity studies are not about “subjective experience.” That’s what makes them legitimate and IMO, very informative and enlightening. The subjects in these studies are people who discipline their minds (and bodies) in order to have spiritual experiences, however they “language” about those experiences. They themselves report that these experiences are real. The researchers do not question that they are real either since they can show that physiological changes and processes are happening in these subjects’ brains. You, as an atheist claim that what these people (or at least the believers in the study) are doing is like a child “talking to an imaginary friend.” This is not what the research subjects say is going on or how they describe their experiences.

          You are playing word games here. Saying that “subjective experiences do not equal ‘reality’ is to imply that subjective (by the subject) reports of what a person experiences are not ‘reality’. How do you claim to know this? Are you raising the issue of how reliable our sensory and cognitive abilities and processes are in representing reality? The researchers address this issue in the books that I cited.

          As for your other questions, several of these I’ve already answered elsewhere and several are framed based on and with embedded assumptions that do apply. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to address these, but thanks for the interesting conversation about the brain research.

        • 90Lew90

          I draw the distinction between meditation and prayer because, while it may well be that Christian mystics exhibit similar physiological responses in the brain (I don’t know, I’m taking your word on that, however foolishly), what mystics practice and the common-or-garden prayer done by the average Joe Believer are also two very different things. Meditation, on the other hand, will constantly produce certain brain patterns and the main difference is that meditators are not “praying” to some supposed being outside of themselves. Experienced meditators are able to undergo surgery without anaesthetic. I doubt that even the Pope could manage that while saying his Rosary.

          As has been mentioned, the part of the brain that becomes active when average Joe Believer is praying is the same as that which lights up when one is in conversation.

          Why do I call reported experience from individuals subjective when they say they are “talking to [their] god” when they pray? Because it is subjective! That’s why! LOL! And subjective experience is not “reality” no matter how “real” it may seem to the subject. That’s not “word games”. I find myself wondering what you’re studying since you have the nerve to call yourself a scholar, when you have the critical skills of a gnat and you don’t seem to have even the most basic knowledge of scholarly process.

          As for my other questions, you’re avoiding them like the plague. You keep making claims that the Bible is part metaphor and you must believe that it is part fact. Once again, how do you tell which is which? If there was an answer to that it would be straightforward. It doesn’t take exegesis. It should have a pretty simple answer. You don’t have it. At least have the intellectual honesty to admit that.

          In a similar vein, you keep making claims about prayer and the intercession of immaterial “God” with the material universe and material “man”. At what point does the intercession take place between the material and the immaterial. I would expect any attempt to answer that to be rather more esoteric, and I’m glad you haven’t tried because not even Descartes dared to try that one. You don’t have an answer for that either. So not only are we asked on these important issues to adopt your faith in your god, we are also asked to have faith in what you say about your god.

          Which brings me back to my theme: Subjective experience does not equal reality. This is not word games, this is taking what you’ve said and putting to you the questions that naturally arise from your baseless claims. A good priest would offer some prattle about “joyful mysteries” and how it’s more admirable in the eyes of [his] god to just believe. Faith is pleasing to [his] god. Well, I’m afraid that just won’t do.

          Now I’m sure you’re feeling bullied, and I admit I’m deliberately not treating you with kid-gloves. But what you must understand is that I wouldn’t care what you believe if your beliefs were yours alone and without consequence. That isn’t the case. The presence of the Christian religion has implications for me, and its incoherence and special pleading and just-plain-daftness infuriate me. I make these points because it effects my life personally and because I firmly believe it has a negative impact on my fellow human beings and on the world we have to share. Otherwise I wouldn’t give a shit.

        • CodyGirl824

          90Lew90,

          I must admit, I have not read through this entire message since I really, truly am limited in the time I can devote to posting here, which is, as you may suspect, sometimes not altogether pleasant or rewarding. But allow me to inform you about the main source of my knowledge and information about the practice of meditation in Buddhism: it is my son, who is an ordained Buddhism priest and Zen Master who teaches meditation in his Buddhist community here in the metropolitan area where we reside. Yes, he explains to me that while is it true that Buddhist meditators “&