William Lane Craig Replies to My Attack on Faith Statements (2 of 3)

silly person

William Lane Craig (WLC) has responded to my attack on faith statements (or “doctrinal statements”) in “A Call for Honesty in Christian Scholarship.” See part 1 for WLC’s claim that they help create community.

Let’s continue with more of WLC’s concerns.

Cause and effect

WLC moves on to misunderstand the problem. He says that a doctrinal statement doesn’t determine a scholar’s views; rather, scholars will have formed their views beforehand and only then seek an institution that fits with their views.

That’s correct, as far as it goes. When you join, the doctrinal statement fits you like a just-right sweater since you picked an institution that shared your views. The problem comes when you change, and the sweater then becomes a straightjacket.

WLC is confident that this won’t be a problem—for him, at least:

Thus, it is naïve on your part to imagine that [Houston Baptist University’s] doctrinal statement, for example, imposes some sort of restraint upon me with respect to belief in the virgin birth or the deity of Christ or the resurrection of Jesus. I held these beliefs long before affiliating with HBU, and I would believe them no matter where I taught.

Craig tells us that if he hasn’t felt constrained by a doctrinal statement, then it’s all good.

But he isn’t completely clueless, and he can imagine the problem—though his solution is rather harsh.

It can happen that one’s doctrinal views can change in the course of one’s career, with the result that one can no longer sign the doctrinal statement in good faith. In that case, the professor should seek employment elsewhere.

Oh, so it’s as easy as that? If you’ve grown so that you can’t accept the outmoded doctrinal statement, just quit.

This gets back to the original problem. Sure, you can quit your job. Maybe you’ll lose your tenure or even your career, depending on how far your views have changed. But you might have other obligations than that to the university. Can you quit if there’s a family to feed? Or do you convince yourself to muddle through by not thinking about the problem much?

We can humanize this issue by moving from an abstract hypothetical to the concrete problems of hundreds of actual Christian clergy with failing faith by looking at the Clergy Project. Some of these clergy members have walked away from their careers in the church as atheists, while others keep their head down as long as they can, preferring an uncomfortable present to an unknown future.

WLC seems to appreciate the problem, but Christian compassion isn’t where he goes for an answer:

The danger is that because such a move can be so gut-wrenching, the professor may be tempted to continue in his present position, even though he no longer believes the doctrinal statement. In that case, he compromises his own integrity and the integrity of the institution. If the institution does not take the difficult step of dismissing him, the seed of corruption is planted which may derail the institution in coming generations.

In other words, it’s the scholar’s fault that the straightjacket is too tight. I’m sure that’s comforting.

And “the seed of corruption”? Really? Christian scholars’ views are so uncompromising that they can’t tolerate any challenges?

People change. Doctrinal statements are too brittle to accept this, but this is the fault of the institutions that demand them, not that of the people.

Consequences of a doctrinal statement

It is false, then, as you allege, that by signing a doctrinal statement [that includes the claim that Jesus was born of a virgin], “a professor has publicly stated, ‘I promise to never conclude that the virgin birth was just a myth’.” He has made no such promise.

He has. Your point is simply that he can break his promise. Yes, he can, but the original point stands: we can’t treat his conclusions at his Christian college as useful new information when he was bound to reach them. (I clarify this statement in part 3 below.)

You say that he can just quit? Sure, but why have this cumbersome and punitive policy? Harvard isn’t bothered by what its scholars conclude. What does it say that Harvard’s view of academic freedom wouldn’t tolerate doctrinal statements?

Mike Licona’s crime

In my original post, I discussed one cautionary tale: “Might the scholar simply have come to an unbiased conclusion? That’s possible, but how would we know? Mike Licona is a Christian scholar who found out the hard way that faith statements have teeth. In 2011, he lost two jobs because, in a 700-page book, he questioned the inerrancy of a single Bible verse.” WLC responded:

The case of Mike Licona is a good example. Licona has never denied biblical inerrancy, nor was he fired because of it.

The point about Licona is that he’s an example of someone who ran afoul of a doctrinal statement and lost his job. I don’t want to split hairs over the theological validity of the charges against him, but let me respond to the two points WLC made.

In one of his public attacks on Licona at the time, Norm Geisler wrote an article titled, “Mike Licona on Inerrancy: It’s Worse than We Originally Thought.” You’re free to disagree with Geisler’s conclusion, but, yeah, it’s about inerrancy.

And I didn’t say that Licona was fired from his jobs, just that he lost them.

WLC’s point was to vaguely defend Licona against the charges and note that he’s still “a member in good standing of the Evangelical Theological Society.” That’s nice, but it still turned the guy’s life upside down. Can he still want to ignore the collateral damage of faith statements?

I agree with WLC on one important point in the conclusion in part 3. 

All those who persistently reject Jesus Christ in the present life

shall be raised from the dead and throughout eternity
exist in the state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment of anguish.
— Biola doctrinal statement that WLC has signed

Image credit: Kimberly Vardeman, flickr, CC

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  • RichardSRussell

    All those who persistently reject Jesus Christ in the present life shall be raised from the dead and throughout eternity exist in the state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment of anguish.

    IOW, our god is way nastier than your god, so you should believe in our god if you know what’s good for you. Isn’t that the same line of reasoning the Mafia uses?

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

      “That’s a nice butthole you’ve got. I’d sure hate to see a red-hot poker shoved up it.”

      • Robert Templeton

        Oh, you’ve been reading up on the Spanish Inquisition?

        • epicurus

          Be careful, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”

    • Jim Jones

      “Agree with us or find an angel’s head in your bed.

    • Doubting Thomas

      It makes you wonder what kind of people they’re looking to attract when they require torture to be a key belief of anyone wanting to attend.

      • Robert Templeton

        Carrot and stick. Forceful coersion. If all that you can promise is some elusive amazing pot of gold at the end of the life, most people would be skeptical of devoting so much to the system without some evidence. Include a promise of very real pain, torture, and suffering if you don’t, most people might feel a need to devote something to avoid the assumed consequences. It is a horrible tactic – and it takes a long time to shake this form of mental anguish indoctrination.

    • aikidaves
    • Greg G.

      Also, “that’s a nice soul you have there. It’d be a shame if something was to happen to it.”

  • Tony D’Arcy

    Rather than being “raised from the dead” my individual atoms will be recycled by nature into other forms than me. Immortality of a kind I suppose ? Certainly no anguish, nor any boiling in Jesus’ fiery lake for me.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      Hell, that’s even happening while we are alive. Something like every 7 years we are living ships of Theseus.

      • Michael Neville

        I took a dump earlier today. The bacteria in the sewage treatment plant will be eating well.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And the bacteria in your own personal sewage treatment plant have already feasted.

    • Greg G.

      I’m taking my atoms with me.

      • TheNuszAbides

        there’s an incredibly (literally) lucrative black market for atoms in Afterlifelandia.

    • TheNuszAbides

      i’ve been working on more verbose ways of calling atomic dispersal our closest thing to ‘practical immortality’ and remembrance our closest thing to ‘functional immortality’.

  • Joe

    All those who persistently reject Jesus Christ in the present life
    shall be raised from the dead and throughout eternity
    exist in the state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment of anguish.

    So, bodily resurrection? Otherwise what is going to be existing, and what are they going to torture?

    • Michael Neville

      The same people who tell us about “God’s mercy” and “Jesus’ love” certainly seem to be enthralled by the concept of eternal torture.

  • LeekSoup

    Referencing the clergy project widens this issue. When I finally sat down with my church pastor and said I couldn’t carry on preaching any more he a) said how this showed I had integrity, and b) said that I was fortunate because I had a non-church job and that many people can’t be honest about disbelieving if their livelihood depends on it. I really don’t know what he was implying there.

  • Rudy R

    All those who persistently reject Jesus Christ in the present life shall be raised from the dead and throughout eternity exist in the state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment of anguish.

    Anyone who agrees with this doctrinal statement is a vindictive asshole.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I hope they keep their faith statements. It shows just how intellectually dogmatic these institutions are and reminds sane people everywhere to never take anything they publish seriously.

    • TheNuszAbides

      yep, it’s a lot like the latest kerfuffles with the Stormfront-babies: I’d rather they were obvious, as long as they aren’t actually translating their rotten thoughts into society-violating action.

  • MR

    It’s a weird form of coercion. It’s not just “If you want to work here, this is how you should behave,” it’s “If you want to work here, this is what you must believe.” Thought police.

    My house my rules. Sign here: You hereby agree to the 11 o’clock curfew, You acknowledge the existence of the invisible dragon in the garage, No TV on Sundays….

  • Otto

    All those who persistently reject Jesus Christ in the present life
    shall be raised from the dead and throughout eternity
    exist in the state of conscious, unutterable, endless torment of anguish.
    — Biola doctrinal statement that WLC has signed

    Well at least I have that going for me…

    • Greg G.

      The Dalai Lama said you would receive total consciousness on your deathbed.

      • Otto

        If I remember correctly his exact words were ‘Gunga, Gugunga Lunga’…

  • skl

    This could be like an atheist organization kicking out a
    member who became a Muslim, or a football coach cutting a player who wouldn’t
    follow his game plan. Some degree of upheaval results for one or both parties.
    That’s just the way it is.

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

      True, though that doesn’t address the problems I’ve pointed out with faith statements.

      • skl

        I don’t see the problem. The atheist organization has a “faith
        statement”, the football coach has a “faith statement”, every official group
        has a “faith statement”. If a member or teammate no longer abides by the “faith statement”, he should move out. He can then form a group and “faith statement” he likes.

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

          It’s simple. Read the posts and see the concerns I raise. If you have any rebuttals, share them. Your random bloviating isn’t helpful. Please focus on what’s been said.

          If you have read the posts and still see no problem, thanks for playing.

        • MNb

          Please tell me what the “faith statement” is of the chess club I joined recently. They have failed to tell me and it’s not on their website either.
          But you look so wise, almost as omniscient as your god, so I am sure you can tell me.

        • Grigori Schmidt

          If you start playing checkers, you will be forced out :^)

        • Michael Neville

          How do you know this? Perhaps there’s a discussion in the club about games derived from chess, checkers is mentioned, and someone unfamiliar with that game asks to have it demonstrated.

        • MNb

          “How do you know this?”
          By faith, of course.

        • Grigori Schmidt

          Heavenly Grossmeister has revealed this to me

        • skl

          I would imagine your chess club’s “faith statement”, written
          or implied, is that all members will abide by the rules of chess in their play, show up on time for matches, conduct themselves appropriately and without disruption. Things like that.

        • Greg G.

          Those types of rules are not included in faith statements. You would be fired from a college for plagiarism but that is covered elsewhere, not in a faith statement. Your analogy flopped. Get over it.

        • skl

          “Those types of rules are not included in faith statements.”

          But they might be covered in “faith statements”.

        • Greg G.

          You are conflating ethics clauses with faith statements.

        • skl

          You may have missed the quotation marks I placed around “faith
          statements”.

          I mean “faith statements” as in institutional
          faith statements, mission statements, bylaws, rules, etc.

        • Max Doubt

          “You may have missed the quotation marks I placed around “faith statements”.”

          What you’re doing is called equivocation. It’s dishonest.

          “I mean “faith statements” as in institutional faith statements, mission statements, bylaws, rules, etc.”

          You mean you’d like to redefine the term so you don’t have to admit you’ve made an unsubstantiated assertion. You’re being dishonest. And that’s a shitty way to treat all these other people in the conversation. Knock it off.

        • MNb

          “all members will abide by the rules of chess in their play”
          So law is faith?

          https://www.fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=171&view=article

          I’m so confused, oh wise Skl.
          Especially given the fact that some chessplayers apparently don’t have “chess faith”.
          A famous (infamous) example:

          https://www.chess.com/blog/love_romance13/is-garry-kasparov-cheater

          If the World Champion does not have faith, how can a simple amateur like me have it?
          Also: every chessplayer knows what should happen if we don’t show “chess faith” – and usually it happens too. That’s what arbiters are for.
          I haven’t had any christian faith for at least 40 years, but thus far nothing has happened to me.

        • skl

          “So law is faith?”

          They can be related in this context, in the sense that the member of the group effectively pledges his faith that the group’s law is just and/or will be followed.

        • MNb

          Weird. I cannot remember making any pledge when entering the chessclub.
          As for me personally, I don’t have faith that the Laws of Chess are just. In fact that’s up to me to decide. If I think them unjust I can quit the club or try to change the law. Neither do I have faith that they will be followed. I trust the arbiter (every chess club has one) to enforce it. If not I can quit again.
          Does that work the same way with faith in the divine? If I think divine law unjust, can I try to change it? No? Then you have ceased to make sense.

        • adam
        • adam

          “They can be related in this context,”

          Apologetic dishonesty.

          When you HAVE to REDEFINE ordinary words to mean that which they do not mean, to apologize that the bible doesnt mean what it says or say what it means.

        • Max Doubt

          “They can be related in this context, in the sense that the member of the group effectively pledges his faith that the group’s law is just and/or will be followed.”

          You’re being kind of a dick. Knock off the equivocation.

        • Max Doubt

          “I would imagine your chess club’s “faith statement”, written or implied, is that all members will abide by the rules of chess in their play, show up on time for matches, conduct themselves appropriately and without disruption. Things like that.”

          There is nothing in the rules or bylaws of a chess club that might even remotely be described as a “faith statement”. You started by making a silly unsupportable assertion, and rather than admit it when you got busted, you doubled down. Now you’ve moved past any gray area and fully into what we call lying. You’re objectively dishonest, which is bad enough, but trying to defend your dishonesty is making you look like an asshole, too.

        • RichardSRussell

          I don’t see the problem.

          Yeah, we know.

    • Halbe

      Just to help you along a bit so that you can maybe add something meaningful to the discussion: Think about the difference between universities and the examples you mention. And think about the differences between scientific research and football. And think about Bob’s actual point: that scientific research should not be constrained by pre-determined “truths”.

      • skl

        “And think about Bob’s actual point: that scientific
        research should not be constrained by pre-determined “truths”.”

        Think about ‘Apples and Aardvarks’, with MNb nearby.

    • Kevin K

      Michael Behe is a tenured professor of biochemistry … and a creationist anti-evolutionist of some note. His institution did not fire him for not adhering to the facts of evolution instead of his fairy stories. They did, however, post a statement affirming their disagreement with him.

      Therein lies the difference. So…no, that’s not “just the way it is.”

      • skl

        As I understand it, it’s pretty difficult to fire a tenured professor.

        • Kevin K

          NOT IF THEY’RE FORCED TO SIGN A STATEMENT LIKE CRAIG SIGNED AT HIS INSTITUTION.

          Your creationism is showing again. Run away, troll.

        • skl

          Normally, it’s pretty difficult to fire a tenured professor. But tenure is just a creation of academia, and can be un-created. Regardless, if an institution really wants a member gone, for
          failing to abide by the “faith statement” of the institution, it can usually
          find a way.

        • Kevin K

          Please do fuck off. You’re tiresome.

        • Otto

          But…but…skl is a skeptic…

          …hey…quit laughing

    • eric

      An atheist organization ‘does’ atheism as it’s primary raison d’etre. A football team ‘does’ football the same way. So it seems to me that for your analogy to hold, you have to admit that (for example) Biola University’s raison d’etre is to churn out doctrinally pure Christians, not to teach critical thinking or give an education. Because if their primary purpose is those things, that would be like a Football team requiring a doctrinal purity test of a player – nonsensical and irrelevant to the point of the organization.

      • skl

        The point here, as I see it, is not the specific content of the “faith statement” of the atheist organization, or of the football team, or of Biola University, etc.

        The point is that each has a “faith statement” of sorts and,
        if you don’t like it, leave.

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

          You’re determined to not get it. You’re doing great!

        • eric

          The same could be said of any sort of discriminatory hiring or employment policy. Don’t like our rule forbidding Christians? Leave! Don’t like our policy of firing republicans? Leave!

          While private organizations are given a lot of leeway in terms of such rules, I think most people see job criteria that are unrelated to actually doing the job to be arbitrary, ethically suspect, and strong evidence of an ulterior motive. Just as it makes no sense to require a chemistry professor to be a democrat, it makes just as little sense to require a chemistry professor to be a certain flavor of christian. Can a private school make such a requirement? Well yes. Will outsiders see it as a good idea? Will outsiders think that school is truly putting education first? No, probably not.

    • Otto

      I am really not aware of any secular organizations that require people believe anything specific. I think you are grasping here. My local atheist organization has Christian members.

  • eric

    He says that a doctrinal statement doesn’t determine a scholar’s views; rather, scholars will have formed their views beforehand and only then seek an institution that fits with their views.That’s correct, as far as it goes. When you join, the doctrinal statement fits you like a just-right sweater since you picked an institution that shared your views.

    Actually it’s only sort of correct. Academia has been in an over-supply, high demand situation for probably at least 30 years. There are probably lots of newly minted Ph.D.s and post-docs in the humanities who would at least think seriously about taking a good paying, tenure-track position at a major university even if it required agreeing to a doctrinal statement they don’t believe in. All the factors you cite as applying to a question of quitting, Bob, also apply to the question of original hiring. I.e. what if they have a family to support? What if it’s the only academic offer you got and so it’s a matter of career? What if your beliefs are close and so you’re thinking you can live with it? And so on.

    Sure, they hypothetical ideal solution to this issue is that these academics put their intellectual integrity over having a good job. But even if 99% of academics do that, there are probably thousands of such positions (i.e. academic, governed by doctrinal statements, etc..). That would imply at least tens of such people. So my guess is WLC is wrong in claiming scholars will only seek an institution that fits their views.

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

      Yes, good point.

  • Chuck Johnson

    The real conflict here is about the narrowness or breadth of allowed doctrine at these religious institutions.
    Also, the question “Whose opinion matters at such an institution?”

    When allowed doctrine is narrowly defined, and the people who define this doctrine are very small in number, then you get an education which is traditional and authoritarian to the point of being stale and dead.

    With or without the criticisms of Seidensticker and others, these institutions are on their way out.
    Superstition-based philosophies are on their way out. Superstition and authoritarianism go hand in hand.

    • Robert Templeton

      Which is precisely why we are seeing more authoritarianism (Trump, Duterte, Erdogan, Putin, et al). I simply wish that they were on their way out!

  • Grimlock

    Let’s not forget how subconscious bias is also a thing. If holding a position is important for me, it seems reasonable to assume that my subconsciousness will be working overtime to “protect” me.

  • ham salad

    William signed that mean crappy statement? What is he, a three year old?

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

      I imagine that it helps cement the fact that he’s on the inside, going to the Good Place. Someone else will burn in hell? Well, at least he’s going to the Good Place.

    • Kevin K

      Makes you wonder just how … uncurious … someone must be to accept a premise that every human body that ever lived-and-died, which includes infants dying in childbirth, people who died in fires, those lost at sea, and the multitudes of others, will be bodily resurrected and then “judged”. The victims of the Titanic … are they going to walk to shore? How does that work, specifically? And how about those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were turned into a fine radioactive dust by the atom bombs? Will they glow in the dark while they’re being “judged”?

      It’s just the most unimaginably idiotic nonsense possible.

      • TheNuszAbides

        and it raises the half-baked ‘golden rule’ stakes for fundagelicals: “if I were a godless heathen I’d want the Eternity Club to fight for the fate of MY soul!”

  • Grigori Schmidt

    I am just curious: Why make researches if you already have an answer in your backpocket?

    It reminds me this:

    Lesson in the religious school. The priest decides to check how good imagination do children have and ask a question:
    -Children, what is this? Small, ginger, jumps from branch to branch, has big furry tail and eats nuts
    Nobody answers
    -So children, do not you know?
    Small boy from the backbench answers:
    -I know that the right answer is “Jesus Christ”, but it it very similar to a squirrel

    • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

      North Americans, I suspect, would be a little confused by the “ginger” descriptor – all their squirrels are grey or dark brown.

      As a European expat living in the US, I miss red squirrels… and European robins (the American type aren’t nearly as cute).

      • Grigori Schmidt

        Because it was russian joke. I simply translated it

        • RichardSRussell

          It’s a good joke. Thank you.

      • Ficino

        Is this why I see tourists in Central Park photographing squirrels all the time?

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

        There’s the American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), which (to my eye) is the native species where I live near Seattle. They’re a bit brownish.

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4a/American_squirrel_eating_nut%2C_13_Jun_2013.JPG/170px-American_squirrel_eating_nut%2C_13_Jun_2013.JPG

        • Kevin K

          Where I grew up, the local squirrels were a red variety that were HUGE and muscular as all get-out. You could definitely see why they might be considered delicious. In New York, the predominant species is gray, and it’s a scrawny little thing, not enough to make a meal. No wonder they’re everywhere … not worth hunting.

          I currently live in an area with a good proportion of albinistic (white) squirrels. They’re not true albinos, but are almost all white with a little brown patch. In San Diego last week, I saw the opposite — squirrels that were almost completely black.

          Somehow, I don’t think fur color is a trait that confers a survival benefit in squirrels. Darwin could probably devote a chapter to them.

        • Greg G.

          White squirrels have an evolutionary advantage when it snows and it takes longer to dig up hidden nuts. I bet you have never even see a Polar Abominable Snowsquirrel.

        • Otto

          I bet I want to see one!

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

    “Can you quit if there’s a family to feed?”

    Sure, that’s a factor for those of us who aren’t multi-millionaires, but somehow I don’t think it’s a consideration for someone like WLC, who has a net worth of 41 million dollars. I suspect that it’s a rare person indeed who has been wealthy for some time, but can still conceive of the problems of needing an income.

    • Grimlock

      Is that net worth the result of an inheritance or his commercial apologetics?

      • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

        Hard to tell. WLC’s net worth is a bit hard to pin down, and the way he made it would require a lot more digging than I’m willing to do. I suspect it’s a combination of the two – truly “self-made” people are about as rare as a snowstorm in July.

        • Kevin K

          Religion is the best grift, though. If you’re going to be “self made”, then religion is the grift to get into. Look at all of the TV personalities. They’re all loaded. Because GAWD wants to bless you with riches, and all you need to do is send us $1000 and next week, you’ll get 10-fold back!!

        • Greg G.

          Plus, God makes the income tax-free.

        • Kevin K

          Not quite…income taxes are still a “thing”, but you get a “parsonage allowance” and you don’t pay any taxes on any church property used for worship services.

          Friend of mine’s wife is a rabbi, and they counted on that parsonage allowance. But she was still subject to ordinary income tax.

        • Greg G.

          But the church can own a jet and a limousine and God lets you use them all you want. I think that is how the tax dodge works. It is not your mansion, it’s your tax-free church’s mansion.

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, I’m not sure of the intricacies of that … you could be right. IANAA.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Special Creation?

        • TheNuszAbides

          … in the northern hemisphere. 😉

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

      I never thought to wonder how much WLC is worth. Do you have a link to this information?

  • Kevin K

    I can never get past the fact that this is a grown man who fervently believes fairy stories are real.

    • Scooter
      • Greg G.

        The early epistles never speak of Jesus as a first century person. Everything they tell about Jesus appears to be derived from the Old Testament and Paul says he got his information from the prophetic scriptures. It’s not like the people Paul wrote to knew the story already. He has to demonstrate to the Galatians again how he knows Jesus was crucified and it is just quoting Old Testament verses, instead of telling them to ask James and Peter who they apparently knew. Paul loved to name-drop “Jesus”, “Christ”, or either combination, mentioning him once for every five verses, not counting pronouns and the ambiguous “Lord”.

        Paul also insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles”, so he knows they got their knowledge the same way he did, by reinterpreting Old Testament verses. They seem to have read the metaphor of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 as a real historical person from Isaiah’s time and Zechariah 3 as a supplement that gave them the name “Jesus”.

        So the epistle writers had a fairy tale. The gospels made the fairy tale anachronistic to the epistle beliefs.

        • Kevin K

          I blocked “Scooter” long ago as a boring Christianist troll. I wasn’t aware that they could read my posts and at least attempt to reply.

          You’re absolutely on-point in your reply. There is no evidence whatsoever that the person called “Jesus” actually existed at that time-and-place as a single human doing the things claimed of him — even the non-miracle claims are completely unverified and unverifiable. Even so, if there were contemporaneous eyewitness verification of the person and the non-miracle claims, that would not make the miracle claims any more credible — as Hitchens once said “All your work is still in front of you”.

          But I was also referring to the OT fairy stories, including the talking snake with legs, the talking donkey, humans surviving being thrown into a fiery furnace, and all the rest. Myths, legends, highly revisionist Jewish history, and dietary guidelines for people without ice. My favorite verse — “There is no god”. My second favorite verse — “I create evil.”

        • Ficino

          My third favorite verse: “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” (Lev. 19:19).

          Have to keep boundaries distinct and categories fall apart.

        • Kevin K

          Roy Moore’s favorite verse —

          “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” — Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

        • TheNuszAbides

          after all, if that offense were included in the “stone to death” category, there wouldn’t be enough aggressive scumbags around to raise an army to slaughter the neighbors!

        • Greg G.

          Having a wife who hates you but you cannot divorce might be a motive to join an army just to get out of the house.

        • TheNuszAbides

          upvoted for tragicomedy of the Prime Material.

        • Greg G.

          All blocking someone does is allow you to skip over their posts without actually having to scroll and stops you from knowing they replied to you.

          I was mainly replying to Scooter’s reply with the link.

          There are seventeen OT “there is no god” verses, one in the NT, and eight in the Apocrypha.

        • Kevin K

          This is the first time I’ve seen that someone I’ve blocked did reply to me. Boring troll is boring, and I really cannot be bothered with PRATs.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I wasn’t aware that they could read my posts and at least attempt to reply.

          yep, blocking on Disqus is basically an “ignore”, only limiting the blocker’s options – though of course, that is usually sufficient when one doesn’t want to waste energy responding to or reading doctrinaire brick walls. See Noevo of the Boasted Banned-Width was my first blockee. But I don’t begrudge anyone else the effort of shooting down his tripe, for the sake of fence-sitters, lurkers etc.

        • Kevin K

          I recently unblocked him … but only because I wanted to use the attached meme. Every time I see him post. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/220f674cbc127fd18ecc9bff0aa91bc2d67026531cef1903f2b079408a8f1355.png

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

          Hmm. A useful gift idea for those assholes on my Christmas list. Thanks!

        • Greg G.

          Tony D’Annunzio: Another Rob Roy, Bishop?
          Bishop: You never ask a navy man if he’ll have another drink, because it’s nobody’s goddamned business how much he’s had already.
          Judge Smails: Wrong, you’re drinking too much your Excellency.
          Bishop: Excellency, fiddlesticks, my name’s Fred and I’m a man, same as you.
          Judge Smails: You’re not a man, you’re a bishop, for God’s sakes.
          Bishop: There is no God…

        • MR

          God: Why, I’ll show you!
          Bishop: Rat Farts!

      • Grigori Schmidt

        It is. And it was never proven that Jesus was real

        Lets have a look on usual tactics, which is used by “Jesus was real” supporters:

        1)The PHD argument:

        Look, how many people with PHDs agree that Jesus was real, therefore Jesus surely existed

        2)Argument from unauthority (argument from minority, “Show your papers, kook”
        argument):

        Those who deny that Jesus existed are in minority and they do
        not have suitable degree to decide if Jesus was real or not. What
        counts like a sutable degree will be of course decided by Jesus-was-real
        supporter. Therefore Jesus was real for sure

        3) The Gnostic argument:

        You need some special knowledge to dive into NT studies.
        People without this knowledge, even if they are historians can not
        decide if Jesus was real or not. What this special knowledge is knows
        only God and Jesus-was-real supporter.

        4)Divine striptease argument:

        Lets strip Jesus from his divinity and postulate
        that there obviosly was a human prototype (or a bunch of them) deep
        under the image of Gospel Jesus.

        5)Non sequitur argument. Take correct premises and make wrong conclusion:

        a) People exist

        b) Preachers exist

        c) Name “Jesus” exists

        ==>>Therefore Jesus was usual preacher from Judea

        • Greg G.

          The best evidence for Jesus is the consensus of Bible scholars where scholar is defined as someone who subscribes to the historical Jesus theory. When I ask for the evidence the consensus is based on, it is the consensus itself.

          The extrabiblical evidence is good evidence for Christians who are too young to have known an early first century Jesus. Half the gospels can be tossed because of the implausibilities and that they appear to be drawn from OT passages and Greek literature, but even the plausible parts can be tossed for the latter reason. That leaves the early epistles which don’t know anything about Jesus that couldn’t be derived from the OT books that are most often quoted in the epistles, and the OT cannot be evidence for a first century person.

          That leaves the Goldilocks Jesus who was not well-known enough to be written about during his life but famous enough to influence the world a generation later.

        • Grigori Schmidt

          Yea. I have met this kind of reasoning before. On Quora for example.
          PHD (or consensus) argument is the first, which historicist will thow at you

        • TheNuszAbides

          Cesare B.Goldilocks H. Christ! reporting for Mormon retcon in 5 … 4 …

      • MNb

        Everything that contains the word “Christ” is a fairy story.

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

        Expand on that. Tell us how that video makes your point.

        Are you quibbling with “fairy”? That is, you’re agreeing that it’s superstitious nonsense but just not fairy nonsense?

        • Scooter

          If you are truly serious about finding that evidence that you’re always talking about you would take the opportunity to watch the interviews on this video for yourself.

        • adam

          If you are truly serious that this is actual evidence, you would take the opportunity to file it and collect your Nobel Prize.

        • Max Doubt

          “If you are truly serious about finding that evidence that you’re always talking about you would take the opportunity to watch the interviews on this video for yourself.”

          So you admit you hold a position you can’t defend. Gotchya.

        • Max Doubt

          “If you are truly serious about finding that evidence that you’re always talking about you would take the opportunity to watch the interviews on this video for yourself.”

          Let’s start with what we can agree on. You can’t objectively distinguish between what you think of as a god and any other figment of your imagination. Gods fit the criteria we normally associate with characters from fiction. Gods in the tales typically have magical powers, hence “fairy stories” is an apt and honest description. As long as your gods can’t do anything outside the stories or outside the imaginations of those who believe they’re real, this will remain true.

          Remember, and I’m sure with a bit of objective reflection you’ll also agree, there is nothing your god can do out here in the real world that I can’t do, too. And there are several things I can do that your god seems quite incapable of doing. When we’re talking about reality, outside of fairy stories and imaginations, as far as we can objectively determine, I am more powerful than your god.

        • Philmonomer

          Scooter, Do you know why the episode expires in 4 hours (from when I type this)? I certainly cannot watch it in the next 4 hours. Is there some other way to see it? Or do you have something else that you recommend?

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

          You just aren’t serious to seek out the Truth.

        • Philmonomer

          This made me laugh out loud. (I’ve been accused of being mind-numblingly-boringly-serious my whole life.)

        • Scooter

          Sorry but this 9 episode series was aired last week and today was the extra episode. Each episode ran for 24 hours. It’s available to purchase however.

        • Max Doubt

          “It’s available to purchase however.”

          It seems more important for you to cling to your beliefs than to understand what is true.

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

          I was on the mailing list, and I got notices of each episode. It looked like yet more Christian drivel–same old, same old.

          I’d ask you if you could share some highlights, but I fear that I’ll just get scolded for asking.

        • Philmonomer

          Thank you.

        • MNb

          Buy it for me, send it to me and I promise you to watch it.
          I mean, if it’s so good and so convincing, then surely you will make that investment, don’t you?

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

          Based on past experience, there’s a 1% chance that I will find enough interesting new material to repay my watching this. I could either simply ignore your link (what I apparently should’ve done) or I could ask for you to make it worth my while and give me a paragraph or two of the greatest hits.

        • Otto

          Give one good bulletpoint that was not included in The Case for Christ…

      • TheNuszAbides

        Should it indeed?

      • rationalobservations?

        Your linked recycled propaganda fails to include a single shred of authentic and original, 1st century originated historical evidence for the existence of “Jesus” or in support of the confused and contradictory legends appearing in the diverse and significantly different versions of bibles fabricated by men since the oldest / first christian bibles appeared in the late 4th century a few decades after the Roman religion they called “christianity” was cobbled together from mostly pagan components and exclusively pagan feast days, festivals and the pagan day of sun-god worship.

        Your fairy stories remain debunked bunkum.

        http://markhumphrys.com/Images/1051.jpg

        https://shepherddauid.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/cesare.jpg?w=1040

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=hcPiUGGd25s

        • Scooter

          Did you actually watch the 9 part documentary? I suspect not.

        • rationalobservations?

          If you have found any historical evidence that Jesus existed – present it here and prove your claims.

        • Scooter

          Well, to answer your question I would first like to ask you if you believe other ancient historical characters existed whether Roman or Greek? I’ve noted that those who would deny the existence of Jesus would readily believe in the existence of other historical characters. So to prove Jesus’ existence I would begin by looking to the manuscripts, even comparing the Biblical records to the other historical records. What I’ve found is that there is really no comparison. The strongest case is made when many manuscripts are available, as close in time to the original autographs as possible. Wide geographical distribution of the copies and their textual families are likewise crucial. Of course, having complete texts is essential.
          Gary Habermas points out that “in light of these criteria, the New Testament is the best attested work from the ancient world. First, it has by far the greatest number of existing manuscripts. Ancient classical works are attested to by very few full or partial manuscripts-usually less than ten. In comparison, over five thousand full or partial Greek manuscripts of the New Testament exist. Thousands of additional texts exist in other languages, especially Latin.”
          This overwhelming number of copies yields a much stronger base for establishing the original text. This alone of course doesn’t prove Jesus existed but it should present a solid foundation to continue exploring the question.

        • Michael Neville

          I would first like to ask you if you believe other ancient historical characters existed whether Roman or Greek?

          Nice strawman you’re trying to prop up. The question is not whether Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great were real people. The question is whether or not Jesus of Nazareth existed. Since the ONLY source we have of this Jesus’ existence is the Bible and the Bible is a very dubious source, it’s reasonable to conclude that Jesus is a fictional character. It entirely possible that an itinerant preacher named Yeshua bin Yosef was wandering around Palestine in the first part of the 1st Century CE. It’s quite unlikely that a miracle working Son o’ God who was executed and resurrected to redeem mankind was an actual real person.

          Who gives a rat’s ass about how many copies of the Bible existed? None of them date from earlier than the 3rd Century, which means they’re not contemporary with Jesus or any of the apostles and none of them are original autographs. Besides, which Bible are you talking about? There’s the Catholic Bible, the Protestant Bible, the Eastern Orthodox Bible, the Oriental Bible and the Coptic Bible.

        • Scooter

          “Since the ONLY source we have of this Jesus’ existence is the Bible…”

          Both Christian and non-Christian scholars disagree with you.

          Scholar Gary Habermas points to at least 17 non-Christian sources which record more than 50 details concerning the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus, plus details of the earliest church. Interestingly, Jesus’ death is recorded the most by 12 sources. These secular sources are dated approximately 20 to 150 years after Jesus’ death which is very early by the standards of ancient record keeping.

          Who were these writers? Ancient historians such as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Thallus. jewish sources include Josephus and the Talmud. Government officials such as Pliny the Younger and even Roman Caesars Trajan and hadrian describe early Christian beliefs and practices. Greek historian and satirist Lucian and Syrian Mara Bar-Serapion provide other details. Several nonorthodox, Gnostic writings speak about Jesus in a more theological manner.

          What did these writers say about this so-called fictional character? That Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, performed miracles, led disciples, and that many thought he was deity. These sources call him a good teacher or a philosopher and state that his message included conversion, denial of the gods, fellowship, and immortality. Further, they claim he was crucified for blasphemy but rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples, who were themselves transformed into bold preachers.

          A number of early Christian sources also report numerous details concerning the historical Jesus. Some, such as the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp, date from A.D. 95-110, or just ten years after the last New Testament book.

          Habermas and even other non-Christian scholars admit that there is no doubt the Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. You may disagree about his deity and you’re free to deny his existence but you stand against a serious amount of historical evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          Gary Habermas is lying through his teeth if he claims that there’s any other sources about Jesus besides the Bible. The Testamonium Flavium is a 4th Century forgery, Tacitus and Pliny were reporting on the Christians’ beliefs, and Suetonius was talking about Jews, not Christians. The other sources like Polycarp and Ignatius are secondary and tertiary reporters describing what Pliny and Tacitus wrote. Please don’t give me bullshit and lies about “sources for Jesus”, I know better.

          As I said before, it’s entirely possible there was a Palestinian preacher named Yeshua ben Yosef, it’s almost impossible that a miracle working, resurrected Jesus is anything but a fictional character.

        • rationalobservations?

          Not one single word written by the people you name exists today.

          Forged and interpolated texts written by anonymous scribes several /many centuries after the deaths of those to whom they are merely attributed are not evidence of anything but the dishonesty of the 4th century founders of “christianity” and the duped and duplicitous beneficiaries of the ever more powerful and obscenely wealthy politico corporate businesses and institutions of the fraudulent religion of “Jesus”.

          There is no historical evidence of the existence of Jesus or of any of the events written in legends that first appear many centuries after the time in which they are merely set.

          Other answers to your bunkum indicate wide awareness of the propaganda you guilelessly recycle but the origin and fraudulent nature of which you are ignorant.

          Please stop repeating these fraudulent claims based only upon propaganda and legends that first appear in the late 3rd century and a religion that was founded in the 4th century. It’s embarrassing to see you continually humiliated like this, Scoot.

        • adam
        • rationalobservations?

          You missed out the oldest extant bibles that are so very different in content to those that followed.

          Codex Sinaiticus – written by a team of 4 scribes toward the end of the 4th century.

          Codex Vaticanus – written by men within 2 or 3 decades of Sinaiticus also in the 4th century.

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

          The strongest case is made when many manuscripts are available

          And there was motivation to copy religious documents. So therefore, religions tend to be correct?

          The Bible’s claim to accuracy for the number of manuscripts fails as an apologetic argument (you do know how distant they were from the events, right?).

        • rationalobservations?

          Few among the indoctrinated are aware of the origins of their fraudulent religions and human authored books of barbarity and nonsense.

          #Codexsinaiticus
          #Codexvaticanus

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

          And fortunately, if you stay within a Christian bubble, you don’t have to worry about such things!

        • rationalobservations?

          True. Fortunately the bubble appears to be getting smaller and ever more fragile.

        • rationalobservations?

          Oh dear. This attempt to divert away from the total, absolute and complete absence of a single shred of evidence that “Jesus” existed from any time within centuries of the first appearance of the confused and contradictory legends of Jesus always fails. When will you religionist denialists learn

          Then you could apply material forensic tests to any reports of the person in question. In the case of “Jesus” the oldest first texts that even mention that name date from well over a century after the time in which the legends written centuries after that are back dated to and merely set.

          Then you could apply the modern forensic test of “text typing” to compare the content of individual documents to evaluate the likelihood of integral veracity. All texts written by anonymous scribes centuries after the dates in which those to whom those texts are merely attributed show clear and distinct signs of interpolation (later added forged content) as is the case with the ridiculously inconsistent and randomly placed paragraph within the works attributed to Flavius Josephus who lived from about 37 to 100 CE. In Josephus’s “Antiquities of the Jews” there appears the notorious passage regarding Christ called the “Testimonium Flavianum” (“TF”). This was widely claimed to be the ONLY 1st century reference to “Jesus” but that claim is extensively and comprehensively rebutted and since no trace of any original and authenticated texts written by Josephus exist and the oldest text claimed to be a “copy” of his work dates from at least 6 centuries after his death – again the claims of religionists are debunked.

          There are millions of confused internally contradictory texts relating to the apparently fictional “Jesus”. But no single shred of historical evidence supports any of them.

          If the quantity of texts could be considered to be evidence of the veracity of any human books – I suppose you may consider that Robin Hood and Harry Potter should be considered to be non-fictional historical characters from their best selling books, games, comics, feature films etc?

          Your final line sums up the debunking of your bunkum:

          “This alone of course doesn’t prove Jesus existed but it should present a solid foundation to continue exploring the question.”.

          The question has been “explored” for around 1600 years since the first prototype legends of “Jesus” were written by teams of creative and imaginative men. They were rejected by huge numbers of people when they first appeared in the 4th century but those who refused to accept what they considered heretical nonsense and a new god-man were ultimately given the choice to accept the then new “Jesus” based religion – or die. As their most holy artifacts and their temples were systematically destroyed, no one knows how many were murdered for there refusal to convert to a fraudulent religion invented in the 4th century.

          It’s hard for anyone indoctrinated into believing a lie to recognise that fact. You may or may not but in either case – you have my sincere sympathy and best wishes.

          https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8xHZhM8Yfl8/WKyHQD1B5MI/AAAAAAABkrw/rdO-4kBLCa41Oz4lHeZZwQt-kYTijezJgCLcB/s640/z%2Bpractice%2Bof%2Breligion.jpg

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          The extrabiblical evidence is too late and appears to be based on the gospels. The Testimonium Flavianum is forged by Eusebius. The Gospels and the Epistles are different stories. One is about a miracle working preacher/teacher doing deeds found in the literature of the day performed by others. The other doesn’t have a miracle working preacher/teacher but everything the early epistles say about him can be found in Old Testament passages with no first century accounts.

          It is not just the lack of evidence for Jesus but the evidence of the story being invented from older writings.

      • rationalobservations?

        Further to my previous rebuttal:

        I’ll see your propaganda and raise you some scholarly researched information:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcPiUGGd25s