8 Lessons Learned from the Minimal Facts Argument (2 of 2)

In the aftermath of our analysis of Gary Habermas’s minimal facts argument from The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, here are the final lessons learned. (Read part 1 here).

5. Follow the facts. Don’t start with your religious presuppositions.

Habermas makes this error many times. For example:

The laws of nature would be no match for an omnipotent God who chooses to act by superseding those laws (p. 141).

Yes, if we assume God first, we can imagine him having his good reasons. For example, why is there evil? (God has his reasons; don’t worry your pretty little head about it.) Why is God so hidden? (God is way smarter that you and must be hidden for a good reason.) Doesn’t science reject miracles? (Bending the laws of nature would be easy for the god who made them.)

If you start with your presuppositions, you can select and arrange the facts to support them, but no thoughtful person argues this way. This is the hypothetical god fallacy. What makes a powerful argument is showing that starting with the agreed-to facts, an objective observer would come to a conclusion.

Never start with your presuppositions and then show how the facts can be rearranged to support them. That’s backwards.

Habermas says that the resurrection “accounts for all five [minimal] facts very nicely” (p. 76). Okay, but so does the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Show me how the Flying Spaghetti Monster can’t explain any aspect of the gospel story and I’ll show you how you underestimate the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

The apologist can say that we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, that God is always smart enough to stay ahead of science and clever atheist arguments. But that puts the burden of proof on the wrong shoulders. If you can’t support the burden of proof, then stop making extraordinary claims.

6. Failure to acknowledge the magnitude of your claim

Habermas wants to win by default. He says: here are the secular claims; they’re all wrong; therefore, I win. For example:

We have observed that all opposing theories to Jesus’ resurrection are extremely improbable, if not practically impossible (p. 188).

Why bother weighing Habermas’s claim when he’s the only one left standing? What he fails to acknowledge is that his might be the most remarkable claim ever: that the universe was created by a supernatural being, that this being created humans on the dust speck we call Earth, that he appeared on Earth as a man to provide a loophole in a rule that he created himself so that we can get into heaven, and that this claim is for real, despite looking very similar to a thousand other manmade religions. I don’t remember a single word from Habermas acknowledging the complete insanity of the claim.

Maybe Habermas’s supernatural claim is correct, but he must acknowledge the enormity of the claim he’s making and the correspondingly enormous quality of evidence necessary to support that claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Habermas must make the positive case, not just attack his opponents.

(And I can’t let Habermas’s bold claim stand unchallenged: “all opposing theories … are extremely improbable” is completely unfounded. At best, the powder-puff arguments that Habermas attacked are improbable. Read the full critique from a few days ago for more.)

7. Evaluate similar claims with a similar bar of evidence

Apologists should test their arguments by imagining an equivalent argument from someone in another religion. Would they be convincing to you? If not, why imagine that yours will be to me?

8. The consensus of New Testament scholars says so

While a poll would be easier and more reliable, Habermas prefers to infer the scholarly consensus from published articles, and this creates problems. Since Habermas won’t show his database to anyone, we don’t know how comprehensive or unbiased it is. Not everyone who has an opinion on gospel questions (Was there an empty tomb? Was there a resurrection?) will be equally motivated to write a paper and try to get it published. Most importantly, his sample is surely under-represented by historians and over-represented by Christians.

This was more thoroughly debunked in the first post in this series.

Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down

Like Weebles, the roly-poly toys that won’t fall down, the individual claims in Habermas’s minimal facts argument will bounce back up. They’re immune to contrary evidence because they’re not the result of an unbiased following of the evidence.

Perhaps they can at least provide examples of what to avoid.

Continue with “So How Does An ATHEIST Explain the Resurrection Story?

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

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/3/14.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

 

"I don't know what the fuck you are even talking about now. I know I ..."

The Bible Defeats Its Own Resurrection ..."
"keep clinging to your version of reality (I always knew the religious had this, it ..."

The Bible Defeats Its Own Resurrection ..."
"And as usual, you have nothing.Plus a video.You can't answer my question."

God Is Love—Does That Make Any ..."
"What you don't fucking understand about atheism because you are brainwashed: none of us think ..."

God is Always the Worst Explanation: ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • RichardSRussell

    “all opposing theories … are extremely improbable”

    Like the hypothesis (not theory) that somebody made it up? Doesn’t seem even remotely improbable to me. Evidence that people make things up arrives daily from the White House.

    • eric

      Aside, but even if all opposing theories were extremely improbable, that would mean very little. For two reasons

      1. Consider there’s a million possible explanations. One has the probability 0.001%, the others have the probability 0.000000001% each. Hey look, all the “opposing theories” are much less probable than the leading theory! But does that mean the leading theory is probably right? No. It’s still very very likely to be wrong. The correct calculus, then, is whether the divine miracle hypothesis is more probable than all other possible explanations combined, not whether it’s more probable than any specific alternative explanation.

      2. Philosophically, there are always an infinite number of potential explanations, which really makes that sort of a priori estimation impossible (or nothing more than a personal opinion). That’s the reason science requires positive evidence for a specific hypothesis before it will be tenatively accepted; because negative evidence of some other hypothesis is theoretically consistent with an infinite or near-infinite number of contradictory ideas….therefore, negative evidence can never really be used to select an alternative. Only to reject the current idea in favor of “I don’t know.”

      • skl

        “The correct calculus, then, is whether the divine miracle
        hypothesis is more probable than all other possible explanations combined, not
        whether it’s more probable than any specific alternative explanation.”

        That’s not making sense to me. I don’t think the other
        possible explanations can be combined. Some could be mutually exclusive of
        others, and in any case, their probabilities are not additive.

        • Greg G.

          If 100,000,000 people buy one lottery ticket each and I buy 1,000 lottery tickets, my odds are 1,000 times better than any other individual person but it is 100,000 times more likely that one of them will win than it is for me to win.

          It’s kind of like the Monty Hall Problem.

        • skl

          I don’t see how that’s relevant for two reasons.

          First, in the case of the lottery, we assume someone will
          naturally win, while in the other case, we do not assume someone will naturally “win” (e.g. unnaturally resurrect).
          Second, in the case of the lottery, the others’ probabilities of winning are additive, while in the other case, they’re not.

        • Susan

          First, in the case of the lottery, we assume someone will
          naturally win,

          We know what the rules are and that someone will eventually win. Also, we have repeated cases of people winning, statistically based on those rules.

          in the other case, we do not assume someone will naturally win.

          while in the other case, they’re not.

          So, there is nothing left ut special pleading.

          Unless someone dishonest shifts the burden and demands that we disprove whatever made-up stuff they believe.

          But there is no reason to bother.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Greg G.

          First, in the case of the lottery, we assume someone will
          naturally win, while in the other case, we do not assume someone will naturally “win” (e.g. unnaturally resurrect).

          You can make the lottery draw from a billion integers if you like. The chance of of me winning is still 1000 times greater than any other individual but is still unlikely to win, but if there is a winner, it is more likely to be the field than me.

          Second, in the case of the lottery, the others’ probabilities of winning are additive, while in the other case, they’re not.

          If it is possible but unlikely for someone to resurrect, the greater the field of dead people, the greater the chance that one will resurrect. If it is impossible for someone to resurrect, then nobody ever will.

          We have evidence that people have been buried on the assumption they were dead but when the body was exhumed, the inside of the casket was torn and their fingers were broken. Did they resurrect or was death misdiagnosed? AIUI, that is why many societies have wakes before the burial, to make sure they are dead. Makes one wonder about death rituals where the dead are buried or cremated the same day.

          But remember that the story of the resurrection comes from a book where the Jesus character met Moses and Elijah on a mountain top, That whole scene appears to be modeled on Moses’ mountain top scene in Exodus. The story also has several miracles that are copies of the miracles of Elijah, Elisha, Hermes, and Vespasian. Elijah seems to have been a sun god reduced to a human for monotheism, Elisha seems to have been a moon god. Hermes was thought to be the planet we call Mercury. Vespasian needed propaganda that he was accepted by the gods so he would be accepted by the superstitiousness of Rome. The whole story is fiction. Does that reduce your estimation that the resurrection story has any truth value?

        • skl

          “… but if there is a winner, it is more likely to be the field than me.”

          Yes, because in the case of the lottery, the others’ probabilities of winning are additive, while in the other case, they’re not.

          “If it is possible but unlikely for someone to resurrect, the greater the field of dead people, the greater the chance that one will resurrect.”

          It seems to me that that would be true only if it is natural, though rare, for someone to resurrect. But that is not the case. Whereas it is the case that someone will naturally win the lottery, or be born with two heads.

          “If it is impossible for someone to resurrect, then nobody ever will.”

          I don’t think science says resurrection, or anything else, is impossible. It would say it’s highly improbable or that it currently sees no way that it could happen.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, because in the case of the lottery, the others’ probabilities of winning are additive, while in the other case, they’re not.

          In a spread of probabilities of alternatives, each has a percentage of the probabilities. The total of all the chances add up to 100%. If it doesn’t, it may be rounding errors but if it is not rounding errors, your percentages are wrong. The chances are always additive.

          It seems to me that that would be true only if it is natural, though rare, for someone to resurrect. But that is not the case. Whereas it is the case that someone will naturally win the lottery, or be born with two heads.

          If the supernatural can be tested and found to interact at a predictable rate, then you can put it into your probabilities. If not, you may be able to put it in some range. Since it has never been demonstrated, it will be near zero.

          I don’t think science says resurrection, or anything else, is impossible. It would say it’s highly improbable or that it currently sees no way that it could happen.

          Death used to be defined as when you stopped breathing. Then medicine learned how to save someone and get them breathing again so death was defined as when the heart stopped beating. Now medicine can restart a heartbeat so death was defined as a certain time that the brain was without oxygen but now there are ways to prevent some of the cell death due to oxygen deprivation and that a chilled body can be revived after longer periods. So death is not well-defined or absolute. Death is a process that can be reversed. But there is damage that cannot be undone when proteins become denatured. It is possible that all the molecules could go back to the proper structure by chance in the same way an electron can make a quantum leap or a coffee cup could materialize inside you microwave but it is unlikely to happen anywhere in the universe for trillions of years.

          There are faith healers who claim to bring people back from the dead but they have never been able to prove the person was dead. We have more evidence that they are fake than they have that they are legitimate.

        • eric

          If you are doing a head-to-head analysis of two explanations, then comparing probabilities may sometimes be okay. But if you’re asking whether a single explanation in a large set of possible explanations is worth committing to, then it’s rational to ask “is it more likely that explanation is right or wrong?” If the answer is “wrong”, then probably the best thing you can conclude is “I don’t know.” In a set of explanations where the most probable in the set has only a 0.001% chance of being right, you don’t know.

          Greg’s lottery example is spot on. If you want to ask whether Alice (bought 10 tickets) or Bob (bought 1 ticket) is more likely to win, comparing # of tickets bought is a decent first step. But if you just want to ask whether you are justified in believing Alice will win, you need to compare Alice’s overall chance of winning (10 combinations) to her overall chance of losing (millions of combinations). You are not justified in believing she will win. And in that case, bringing Bob into the discussion is just a red herring.

          As an aside, for the record I don’t agree with Habermas’ claim that all other considered explanations are less probable than resurrection. But my point is that even if that were true, it would not necessarily be a rational reason for believing in it.

        • skl

          “Greg’s lottery example is spot on.”

          Yes, for a lottery. But not for this case.

    • Michael Neville

      Due to the inconsistencies in the gospels, the lack of corroborating evidence, and the improbability of resurrection, I think “somebody made it up” has a high probability. It’s not a hypothesis that Habermas likes but it does answer a lot of questions about the Resurrection.

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

        It’s truly mind boggling that he dismisses the natural explanations like Legend so easily when his suggestion is bent-over-laughing ridiculous. I don’t know if he’s just closed minded or if he’s lying for Jesus.

        • Ficino

          I think he might reply that the Legend hypothesis fails to account for what he’ll say is the explosive spread of Christianity in the first century. Then there are the apostles’ martyrdoms, suffered while they maintained their resurrection faith.

          That reply rests on assumptions about the two historical claims, i.e. explosive spread in 1st cent and witness during execution.

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

          If you want explosive spread, consider Sathya Sai Baba d. 2011), an Indian guru who had millions of followers in his own lifetime. That’s explosive. In the case of Jesus, they barely had 100 people to consider as candidates when they wanted to find a replacement for Judas.

          I’ve written about “who would die for a lie?” (look up that phrase if you want the post).

        • Michael Neville

          Sathya Sai Baba prophesied that he would die at age 96. He missed the mark by 12 years, dying at age 84. Some of his followers claim he’s not dead but merely resting or perhaps pining for the fjords.

        • Greg G.

          A few days ago you mentioned the Library of Caesarea. I can’t find the post so I’ll stick one here. I was thinking that Origen may have kickstarted the library by bequeathing his library to the city when he died. I stumbled across this while looking for something else:

          Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima

          It says:

          O’Connor says of this library, “The tradition of scholarship … was continued by Pamphilius (d. 309). By adding to the manuscript collection of Origen he created a library second only to that of Alexandria; in 630 it had 30,000 volumes.”

    • Ctharrot

      We have even more analogous examples in the literally countless supernatural claims advanced in human communities throughout history, which I’m sure Habermas summarily dismisses as acts of the imagination. Marvelous accounts of Osiris, Coyote, Persephone, dragons, centaurs, trolls, giants, spirits, floods, demigods, transformations, prophecies, resurrections, signs and wonders and on and on and on. Making this sort of stuff up isn’t just probable–it’s what we do.

      • Michael Neville

        Loki, who’s otherwise depicted as male, gave birth to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir (the father was the stallion Svaðilfar). That’s much more impressive than a mere virginal conception and birth.

        • Ctharrot

          Let’s see if my wife still thinks Tom Hiddleston is sexy after that.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Loki was in the form of a mare at the time, it’s worth noting.

        • Greg G.

          In the form of an anatomically correct mare, obviously.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Obviously.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Naturally!

        • Michael Neville

          Being transsexual through willpower is more awesome than a virgin birth.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          More interesting also (at least to me).

    • shkwiver

      Has anyone mentioned Matthew 28:11-16? Even the gospel writers felt compelled to yell “fake news” about that opposing theory–that the guards only were saying “the disciples came and stole the body” because the Jews paid them off to say so—the guards’ explanation being so obviously, extremely, PROBABLE that of course they had to go all Alex Jones about it.
      Just the fact that Matt went out of his way to include this whiny objection seals the deal for me. I’m late and see some 700 comments so I just wondered if anyone else feels similar?

      • https://www.jonmorgan.info Jon Morgan

        Matthew’s account is filled with the miraculous. One of my theories is that Matthew needed the guards so that his angel could make a suitably impressive entrance (not present in Mark). In fact, Matthew is the only one that had guards. He then needed an explanation for why those guards hadn’t done anything with their story.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Matthew has what poker players call a “tell.” When Matthew writes that He did X in order to fulfill a prophesy… you know that he is telling a whopper.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Bob, do you ever get tired of this? Christianity is so ridiculous that debunking it is like taking candy from a baby. It would be better for the baby if you took away his candy to save his teeth and prevent diabetes later in life, but somehow everyone thinks you’re the bad guy for doing it.

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

      I’m open to creative responses to your challenge. Anyone else?

      I’m working on a new book that repurposes some of the blog material here into a nonfiction book. At least this keeps me off the street, and I keep hoping that one of my projects will get some traction. But hey–I’m always looking for good ideas.

    • Rudy R

      You have to ween the baby off candy one piece at a time. I didn’t convert to atheism from a “aha” moment. It happened over time, re-evaluating everything I was taught, piece by piece, bit by bit, until I could no longer hold the belief. I suspect that’s what’s happening to the theists reading this blog and others.

      • Scooter

        “I suspect that’s what’s happening to the theists reading this blog and others.”
        Not so Rudy. Actually I find that blogs such as this one do theists and those who want to know whether or not to believe a favor. The Christian tradition has always taught that faith needs to be tested by reason. Even some of Jesus’ greatest sayings came in response to criticism. Tertullian wrote, “The blood of martyrs is the seedbed of the church.” I would add that intellectual criticism can be the showers that make those seeds grow.

        • Rudy R

          Forgive me. I should have said some theists reading this blog and others. I’m an example and I know of other theists who converted to atheism reading atheist blogs.

        • epeeist

          Tertullian wrote

          He also wrote:

          The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
          And the Son of God died: it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.
          And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.

          This definitely looks like the closest of reasoning…

        • Otto

          I seriously commend you and other theists for reading and considering arguments against your religion regardless of your conclusions.

        • Scooter

          Thanks Otto-there’s much to learn from these discussions.

        • Greg G.

          Here is the reasoning Irenaeus used to decide that there should be precisely four gospels:

          The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘.* For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle,** making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.

          * Psalm 80:1
          ** Ezekiel 1:10; 10:14

        • Otto

          Using that logic shouldn’t the Trinity be a Quadintry or something?

        • Greg G.

          Yes. David Cromie replied to me yesterday about Satan being God’s alter-ego so I said that Satan was part of the Quadrinity. That would eliminate the contradiciton in 2 Samuel 24/1 Chronicles 21 where 2 Samuel says the angel of the Lord incited David to take a census and 1 Chronicles 21 says Satan incited him to do it. God throws a temper tantrum and sends a plague that kills thousands until David bought the temple mount from a shepherd and built an altar.

        • Otto

          Ok I can see that….seems legit

        • Michael Neville

          But there’s a Trinity because matter has three phases, solid, liquid and vapor; shamrocks have three leaves; Moties have three hands; and men have three names, Tom, Dick and Harry.

          Motie from Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hUA8aNEjGHw/T14Nvza6EBI/AAAAAAAAAQs/nEiwW1Lr_pI/s1600/Motie+pen+sketch+.jpg

        • GubbaBumpkin

          I’m sure he has a similar speech lined up about the number three.

        • TheNuszAbides

          It’s downright depressing that out of the not-entirely-pathetic field of human ingenuity, so many people pat ~Church Doctors~ on the head to this day for an entirely banal level of pattern-seeking, and call it “inspired”.

  • eric

    The apologist can say that we can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, that
    God is always smart enough to stay ahead of science and clever atheist
    arguments

    But that brings up the question of motivation, love, mercy, etc. I mean sure, as a nonbeliever I’ll admit there are many God concepts reasonably and fully consistent with the world we see around us. However those all tend to be deceptive or or noninterventionist. It’s not the omnipotence+omniscience on their own that makes God inconsistent with observation; it’s combining those things with his supposed honesty and love for humanity that kills it.

    • Chuck Johnson

      That’s the problem of evil or the problem of suffering. – – – It just won’t go away.

      • Michael Neville

        None of the remedies to the problems of evil and suffering work very well. Free will ignores the free will desires of the victims not to be victimized. Mysterious ways is an excuse, not a fix.

        Some theists, Christian Scientists are the best known example, deny that evil exists and suffering is an illusion. A child starving to death is not illusionary to my mind. Besides, the problems of evil and suffering can be recast into why does God allow the “illusion” of suffering and why doesn’t he stop the illusion?

        Alvin Plantinga’s “demons” theory needs a bit of explanation. It’s an extension of the free will argument by suggesting the logical possibility of “mighty non-human spirits” (non-god supernatural beings and fallen angels) whose free will is responsible for “natural evils”, including earthquakes, floods, and virulent diseases. Many theologians and philosophers agree that Plantinga’s free will of non-human spirits (demons) argument successfully solves the logical problem of evil, showing that God and evil are logically compatible. I agree with Michael Tooley that Plantinga’s theory is implausible because suffering from natural evil is localized, rational causes and cures for diseases have been found, and it is unclear why anyone, including a supernatural being who God created, would choose to inflict localized evil and suffering and why God fails to stop such suffering.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Some theists, Christian Scientists are the best known example, deny that evil exists and suffering is an illusion.-Michael

          Thanks.
          It sounds like ISIS may have stumbled onto this same miraculous solution to evil and suffering.

        • Chuck Johnson

          . . . and it is unclear why anyone, including a supernatural being who God created, would choose to inflict localized evil and suffering and why God fails to stop such suffering.-Michael

          This is a typical strategy of the apologists.
          When a simple, direct religious explanation fails, they then must construct a Rube Goldberg contraption of sophistry.

          This is more convincing to the gullible, the ignorant, and the unwary.

        • Greg G.

          At http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-god-exist-1 , William Lane Craig says,

          “Alvin Plantinga, one of the world’s leading philosophers, has laid out two dozen or so arguments for God’s existence. Together these constitute a powerful cumulative case for the existence of God.”

          If there was one successful argument for God’s existence, Craig would tout that one. It seems to me that the cumulative weight of the failures of the two dozen or so best arguments for the existence of God is a powerful case for the non-existence of God.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Time marches on.
          God-ideas are a fish out of water.

        • Ficino

          I am so f-cking sick of hearing of Plantinga’s arguments about the logical possibility of this, that or the other POS.

          I forget, does Plantinga acknowledge that God wills all things, both substances and accidents and events, since there is no potentiality or composition in God? Or does Plantinga promote a finite, struggling God? If the first, contradiction; if the second, fuggedaboudit.

          OK, now that this is settled, carry on.

        • Michael Neville

          The first time I ever heard of Alvin Plantinga was when PZ Myers critiqued his argument against naturalism. Myers, who was a biology professor, showed that Plantinga was attacking a strawman version of evolution and misusing statistics. As a result, I was unimpressed by Plantinga. Nothing I’ve ever read by him has improved my opinion.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          … was when PZ Myers critiqued his argument against naturalism.

          Yes, anyone with actual training in biology who has heard Plantinga’s EAAN knows he is biologying without a license. Which is ironic if you ever came across his criticisms of Dawkins’ The God Delusion, in which he is unkind to Dawkins’ philosophical prowess.

        • epeeist

          Nothing I’ve ever read by him has improved my opinion.

          He is supposedly good on modal logic. However when he uses it in his apologetics he inevitably uses the cheap and cheerful version rather than the more rigorous ones.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          His use of modal logic inspired some of my warning examples for my students.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I thought Plantinga was a Calvinist too. So what’s all this “free will” talk?

        • MNb

          His parents were Dutch (more precise: Frisian). Dutch calvinists abandoned determinism a long time ago.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Oh. I wonder about Scottish Presbyterians. That was my background. However those in the US are so liberal they’re not even Calvinist it seems.

        • MNb

          With a few exceptions (even within the fringe group of hardcore calvinists they are fringe) Dutch calvinists are even more liberal than the American ones. Few or none of them for instance accept Craig’s Divine Command Theory.
          Though the Remonstrants lost in the early 17th Century regarding predestination Dutch calvinism has gradually become remonstrant.

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

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I guess that makes sense with the liberal reputation the Dutch have.

        • Pofarmer

          Free will ignores the free will desires of the victims not to be victimized.

          Yep, in the Free Will scenario evil pretty much always wins.

        • Greg G.

          It’s like everybody gets enough free will to get a reason to be sent to hell.

        • TheNuszAbides

          just enough rope to hang God’s Image.

        • Ficino

          I was going to highlight this, but you already did. A good point. Why do Plantinga’s demons get a pass to exercise their free massively torturing other creatures, whose free will is being violated?

          I guess it’s the aggressors who get a pass in Christianity. Despite parts of the myth. Doesn’t surprise me how evangelicals are totally down with Trump exercising his free will at someone else’s expense.

        • Kevin K

          And, of course, a god who allows/permits/cannot stop demons from acting in the world is NOT ALL POWERFUL!!!!

          I honest-to-no-Christ cannot figure out why Pantinga is held up as an example of a great thinker.

        • Michael Neville

          Even though Plantinga is a Protestant he was a full professor of religious philosophy at a Catholic university. That says he should know what he’s talking and writing about when he discusses Christianity. However nothing and I mean nothing that I’ve ever read or heard from him has struck me as being more than sophomoric.

          His arguments against naturalism are fallacious, based on strawman, incredulity and special pleading. His 20+ “proofs of God” are same-old same-old apologetics. His argument concerning the problem of evil is a house of cards, easily knocked down. If Plantinga is a great thinker that doesn’t say much for the rest of the philosophers.

        • Kevin K

          I totally agree. Everything I see from him is … awful. And yet, he’s touted as some sort of great thinker. I think it’s more of an indication that he can made wordy words sound wordy.

    • Pofarmer

      Mysterious ways man, mysterious ways. And the Fall.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    I lost all confidence in Jahweh, when he didn’t pay up on the Flood insurance. Once bitten, twice shy.

  • epicurus

    So much of Habermas’ method seems to require a culture saturated with Christian history and assumptions, and that people already deep down believe the gospel stories and just need a gentle nudge. He’s really arguing (or should be) to liberal Christians who may dispute a few supernatural elements here and there in the gospel stories, but overall believe pretty much everything else. I wonder if a lot of his ideas come from 19th Century apologists who were probably indeed arguing against the up and coming textual criticism – I assume much of it done by liberal Christians.
    I really can’t see Habermas’ approach getting any traction in a culture with no Christian background, just as it gets none with sceptics and atheists who don’t accept the gospel accounts as true just because they exist.
    Protestants don’t accept sightings of Mary, no matter how well attested or how much evidence, and if the Habermas’ style of reasoning and evidence were put forward by another religion, I’m pretty sure he would quickly reject it, seeing the obvious problems. His skills as a philosophy professor would kick in, in a most rigorous fashion, I’m sure.

    • eric

      He’s really arguing (or should be) to liberal Christians who may dispute a few supernatural elements here and there in the gospel stories, but overall believe pretty much everything else.

      I think that’s pretty much true of most modern apologetics; the intended audience is Christians somewhat unsure of their faith, not nonbelievers. Even if folks like Habermas claim otherwise, I’d bet that the vast, vast majority of people buying and reading his books are Christians.

      • epicurus

        I mostly agree – the vast majority of people reading Habermas and others like Craig, Mcdowell, Licona etc are Christians. And I’m sure those authors are aware of that. And I’m sure they also hope the books will help those unsure of their faith. But I’m not sure if those authors really consider the intended audience to be Christians unsure of their faith. I think that’s something we non believers – sceptics, atheists etc. assume, because we consider the arguments put forward by Habermas etc to be so lame that only those who already believe would consider them good. But having read all the aforementioned authors over the years I got the impression they really were written with an intended audience of non believers who are western and familiar with the basic tenants of Christianity. This is never spelled out, so it’s not something I know for sure, it’s just my impression having read them all over the years.

    • smrnda

      I agree totally. My family is Jewish and I grew up in Taiwan. Christian apologetics always seemed like this weird American thing to me, much how a number of “Traditional Chinese Medicine” nonsense is uniquely Chinese and built in assumptions nobody outside of that culture would be making. Why Jesus? Why not any number of other religion founding figures?

  • Greg G.

    If there is a god, let him prove himself. If he completely blots out the sun for two and a half minutes on August 26, 2017 anywhere in the United States, I will believe.

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

      You’re setting yourself up for a humiliating failure by being so precise.

      • Greg G.

        Good point. I will give him today or tomorrow (August 19 or 20 in 2017) to blot out the sun during the day anywhere in the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii.

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

          There’s still a few hours of daylight left in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands.

        • Greg G.

          God blotted out the sun on August 21, not on the 19th or the 20th. That proves he doesn’t exist.

        • Kodie

          I had this discussion with my dad – the sun is completely blotted out every single day for several hours. How could we have missed this sign.

        • TheNuszAbides

          right under our very noses!

    • Otto

      Since that is my anniversary, if that happens I will take it as a sign my wife is the Antichrist and I will deal with her accordingly…

      • Greg G.

        If once upon a time you were falling in love but now you’re only falling apart and there’s nothing you can say, that’s a different kind of eclipse.

        • Otto

          Total Eclipse of the Heart?

        • Otto

          Actually she is great, 22 years and going strong.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      If he completely blots out the sun for two and a half minutes on August 26, 2017 anywhere in the United States, I will believe.

      Psst – He will do that. It’s called “night”.

      • Greg G.

        Dammit, I had “during the day” in the sentence at some point but apparently lost it in an edit.

        If there is a God, I’m pretty sure he will keep the sky lit up all night and all day to keep me from believing in him judging by all the evidence I have received over the years.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          in most cities the sky IS lit up all night long. Astronomers all over the world HATE light pollution.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I had “during the day” in the sentence at some point but

          “day” can always be equivocated too.

    • Kevin K

      That’s Quetzalcoatl!

    • Sophia Sadek

      Joey Gibson hopes to plunge San Francisco into the abyss of his own ignorance on that exact day.

  • Pofarmer

    This redesign-

    Still sucks balls.

    That is all.

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Agreed, there is NO way to see what blogs have new content other than clicking you faves.. FFS, the ONE feature that made patheos a decent site was tossed in the trash.

      • Pofarmer

        More clicks equals more dollars I imagine.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Wait, you mean they do this for MONEY? whodafunk it (; Srlsy though, the new design has many problems but eliminating the ability to tell who has new posts is just a complete fail.

        • Greg G.

          but eliminating the ability to tell who has new posts is just a complete fail.

          Here is a Recent Comments page. Go forth and multi bookmark.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/recent-comments/

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Think you misunderstood. I’m talking about ability to see which blogs have new entries.

        • Greg G.

          I see now.

        • Pofarmer

          You can’t even see the full title of the articles. You can’t tell how old they are. They trashed comments functionality by not being able to see recent comments.

        • Greg G.
      • Otto

        Exactly my complaint…it should be easy to fix but we will see.

      • Ficino

        Exactly. Now I only click on blogs I’m used to clicking on.

        • Greg G.

          Me, too. I have this blog bookmarked and I always jumped to the others from the links above the Recent Comments, then would follow the links to the more recent articles.

    • Kevin K

      Completely and totally agree. Their traffic has to be way, way, way down. I know I’m not nearly as active as I used to be. I can’t be the only one.