Christian NT Scholar and Apologist Michael Licona Loses Job After Questioning Matthew 27

As reported by Christianity Today (see here), New Testament scholar Michael Licona has apparently lost both his job as research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary and been ousted as apologetics coordinator for the North America Mission Board (NAMB).

Why? In his 700-page book defending the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, Licona proposed that the story of the resurrection of the saints described in Matthew 27 might be metaphorical rather than literal history. Why is this a problem? As a result of Licona’s questioning of Matthew 27, apparently some evangelical scholars, most notably Norman Geisler, accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of the Bible. Other evangelical scholars, including Paul Copan and Craig Blomberg, however, rallied to Licona’s defense.

Since this blog is primarily for and about metaphysical naturalism, why am I reporting on this incident here? Several reasons.

1. The incident casts doubt on the role of “history” vs. “inerrancy” in defenses of Jesus’ resurrection. As the co-editor of the leading skeptical anthology on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, I have read several apologetics for the resurrection of Jesus, including (so far) about half of Licona’s massive book. One common theme of such books is that one does not need to presuppose the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy in order to establish the historicity of the resurrection. And here we have a rather public case of one prominent evangelical NT scholar (Licona) losing his job because he allegedly questioned the full inerrancy of the Bible.

I can understand why, from an Evangelical perspective, doctrinal purity or consistency is important, but I have to admit this incident has me scratching my head. Not that any Evangelicals would ever come to me for strategic advice on how to handle an in-house issue like this, but if I had been consulted during this, I would have recommended they find a better way to handle this. For example, where was due process in all of this? Does Licona agree that he stopped affirming the “full inerrancy of the Bible”? Was he offered some finite probationary period to consider arguments by Geisler and others in favor of Matthew 27? If the Christianity Today story is accurate (and I have no reason to doubt it), the entire incident comes across as entirely hasty and reactionary.

2. The incident casts doubt on the ability of Evangelical scholars, qua Evangelicals, to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. To his credit, Licona apparently questioned the literal historicity of Matthew 27, without letting the perceived implications of his commitment to Biblical inerrancy get in the way. At the same time, however, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that apparently many Christian scholars were unwilling to publicly defend Licona, presumably because they were afraid they might lose their jobs, too. It is precisely because of this sort of mentality that I have previously questioned whether evangelical Christians can consistently affirm the ethics of belief required by freethought.

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    "As a result of Licona's questioning of Matthew 27, apparently some evangelical scholars, most notably Norman Geisler, accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of the Bible."

    But wait, we New Atheist rubes are always being told that no one really holds to biblical inerrancy – certainly not biblical scholars.

    I'm confused.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    ALL Scholars have a problem with following the Evidence where it leads. The trouble is, most refuse to admit their biases to hold them back.

    As for the story, its not too surprising. I’ve seen similar idiocy in Academia and not just from Evangelicals. While many places let you have Free Reign with your Ideas, many don’t, and if you work for a place with an Institutional Bias, even if it is Secular, then regardless of even if its official policy, you can be out the door for going against it.

    EG, The University Of Colorado is notoriously Liberal. I know that many Universities are considered as such, like UC Berkeley, but the University of Colorado is singled out because Berkley does not tend to punish Students or Faculty for being Republicans. A while back the U of Colorado actually accused someone of Racism and suspended them for simply calling Obama a Socialist. That was overreacting, and I can’t Imagine that happening in New York. (OK, that one may happen in Berkley though…)

    On other Political matters, look at Nate Hentoff. He is a Liberal, but was fired from the place he worked as a Writer and Advocate ( Can’t recall which publication it was) simply because he is Pro-Life. This went against the commonly held beliefs of where he worked, and irrespective of Journalistic Liberty, the Freedom of Though they endorsed, or the fact that there was no stated Policy that he had to be pro-Choice ( It was not an Abortion Advocacy Group) He was Fired. Go Figure.

    Some places will Fire you for merely questioning if Sexual Orientation I Innate and if Homosexuality is really a fixed Trait, irrespective of your evidence and without any regard for the Evidence you present.

    It’s all the same as this blokes Ills, only the issue and political bent has Changed.

    The trouble is, he ran afoul of the collective Groupthink. They see things one way and one way only, and want everyone else to conform. But again, that’s not an Evangelical Christian problem, that’s a Human one.

    But fear not! He will do what most wronged Academics and Publuished Authors have done… He will write a boomk on it and live well off the sales.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Chris, I think you overstate the Case. I have never seen an Argument in which it is claimed that no one holds to Biblical Inerrancy. I have seen cases in which Biblical Inerrancy covers only the Original manuscripts and not all Subsequent Translations, and I have seen cases in which Biblical Inerrancy is stated not to mean that everything is entirely Literal, to which Atheists are often seen counter accusing that this means they pick and choose what’s in the Bible regardless of what they actually mean by this, but I’ve never seen anyone say “No one believes in Biblical Inerrancy”.

    I think this is a misrepresentation of the Ideas.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    I'm assuming you are being sarcastic. On a serious note, I'm probably more charitable than some atheists in being willing to recognize evangelicals as scholars. The problem with making claims like, "no reputable scholar believes X," is that one then has to define a "reputable scholar." Apart from excluding people who have engaged in demonstrable academic dishonesty (i.e., plagiarism), I have very little interest in defining "reputable scholar" and then trying to justify a claim that person X is not a "reputable scholar."

    On a related note, I will sometimes read references to "mainstream scholars." This substitutes the problem of defining "reputable" with defining "mainstream" and then justifying that definition in a non-question-begging way.

    Again, I have very little interest in trying to categorize people into groups like "reputable", "mainstream", "rational", etc. I am much more interested in evaluating arguments and evidence. Regardless of how one characterizes, in this case, Licona, I do think the historicity of Matthew 27 is an interesting question. (As an aside, I do think the passage does present a problem for inerrantists, but I have zero desire to defend that claim here.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Well said, Mr. Lowder. I also agree we should not discuss our own views on Mathew 27 and Inerrancy, but I do think it Germane to discuss Mr. Licona’s. I may have seemed rather dismissive, though that was not my intent, of his predicament. I simply think that sometimes Atheists leap onto things like this as if its proof that Christianity restricts Intellectual Freedom, when its an Isolated Case amongst only a small percent of Christians. Globally there are more Orthodox than Evangelicals. More Anglicans. More Mainliners. Indeed, the Catholic Church swamps them all. Even if all Evangelicals could be judged based on this case, its hardly indicative of all Christians.

    Still, in regards to what I wrote ( I am not sure if you meant Chris or me in your last reply but it is of no consequence) I do think that it is a flagrant illustration of Academic Bias, but I’ve seen this before, and even been subjected to it as a Victim, all from people who are not Evangelical Christians. The Soviet Union did the same thing only far, far worse when it insisted on Dialectic Materialism and later rejected Genetics in favour of Lysenkoism. Universities do the same thing, too even if Secular in regards to unpopular opinions. So this is nothing new, and sadly to be expected.

    Still, I do myself find it an affront to Academic Freedom.

    But that said, I don’t think Dr. Licona’s views are all that out of line with Biblical inerrancy. If the Empty Tombs is meant to simply indicate that Jesus had Harrowed Hell and given Eternal Life to the Dead who Slumbered, albeit in Heaven and not in Earth, then the Bible is not really in error by saying the Tombs were opened or that they walked the Earth again. Its simply using poetic Devices.

    I can see why some would think it a dangerous proposition though, as it can lead to others making different Interpretations on other Passages of Scripture that may effect actual Doctrines and Principles.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    If only there was somebody who was willing to make a film about people being EXPELLED from academic positions for their views.

    But who would ever make such a film?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    mR. cARR, GIVE ME 660'000 dOLLARS AND THE fiLM ILL BE YOURS!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05479935991883138999 M. A. Rodriguez

    Jeff: You're back on the internet promoting skepticism. How much free time do you have? Enough to debate Steve Hays, say?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Ha! Unfortunately, I do no have enough free time to commit to a debate.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05479935991883138999 M. A. Rodriguez

    Fair enough. It'd be quite an event, though!

    Mike Licona would be another good match for ya, should your schedule develop some space sometime.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Thanks. Although I have co-edited a book on Jesus' resurrection and think myself of as a student of the literature on that topic, I do not consider myself a Biblical scholar as such. So even if I had the time, I can't imagine myself participating in a debate dedicated to the resurrection. Whenever I do debate again, I think the topic will need to be either the existence of God or morality with/without God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11967707883565162538 cipher

    I can understand why, from an Evangelical perspective, doctrinal purity or consistency is important, but I have to admit this incident has me scratching my head.

    It's easy to understand. Anyone who challenges their comfortable worldview, who forces them to confront evidence that threatens the fragile house of cards upon which their belief system is founded, becomes the enemy and has to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible.

    Also, the seminary is probably concerned about donations decreasing if he's allowed to remain. What good Christian fundie is going to give his God-endorsed dollars (each one emblazoned with "In God We Trust") to an institution that employs a man who tells his kid that the Bible isn't completely, literally "true" (i.e., historically accurate) from stem to stern?

    The really pathetic thing is that he caved under pressure:

    Licona replied to Geisler that additional research has led him to re-examine his position. "At present I am just as inclined to understand the narrative … as a report of a factual (i.e., literal) event as I am to view it as an apocalyptic symbol," Licona wrote.

    yet they fired him anyway. They're operating at the cognitive and developmental level of children.

    And what the hell is an "apologetics coordinator"? "Okay, you believe this, while you believe that"?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    I was being sarcastic, because I do see Christians, particularly on Catholic blogs, asserting that they do not believe in biblical inerrancy. Spend a little time on Dangerous Idea or Edward Feser's blog and you will see this many times. And it's not just an assertion – it is the official doctrine of the Catholic Church that the bible is not inerrant – that is why the Church is necessary to provide correct doctrine. Of course, these are Protestants here, who are much more likely to be biblical literalists/inerrantists. But certainly many Protestants, scholarly or otherwise, also look down their noses at inerrancy.

    It's one of the common accusations against so-called New Atheists that they hold to a hare-brained, fundamentalist, literalist view of the bible against the sophisticated theologians and scholars who know better. And yet here we have a scholar terminated and publicly rebuked for not accepting biblical inerrancy. Hence my sarcasm.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND THE Catholic position. The Catholic Church actually does assert Biblical Inerrancy, it just understands the Bible differently than an Evangelical Christian would. The Catholic Church states that the Bible is inerrant in matters of Faith and Doctrine, but does not believe in Naive Literalism. The catholic Church also makes room for the possibility of Human Error in Minor transmission details or the possibility of slight variation.

    Also, it is not because the Bible contains errors that the Catholic Church is needed, even with an Inerrant Bible that is 100% Literally True. ( something no Fundamentalist believes either, or even professes to believe… I mean come on they know parables aren’t literal Truth.)

    Even if you accept the Bible is 100% Literal in its meaning and 100% Right that does not mean the reader of the Bible will come to the correct Interpretation of Scriptures. The reason the Catholic Church is needed is to provide thee correct Understanding of the Text. That role is not effected if the Bible contains no errors, and the catholic Church is not only necessary because the Bible is in error.

    Besides, there is also the Sacrifice of the mass and the performance of the Sacraments.

    Catholicism follows more Augustinian Thinking though. Augustine said the Bible was always true, but not always meant to be taken at face Value. For example, while Augustine stated that everything in the Bible had a Literal Truth, such as creation, Augustine was not a Creationist like we think of today. He viewed the days in genesis as Allegorical, yet still said the genesis story was Literally True. This is because the Literal Meaning was that God created the World. The Ancients were use to Hyperbole, Analogy, metaphor, and Allegory representing Literal Truth and Augustine’s approach was to see the Bible as presenting Meaning, not flat facts, but always containing some Literal truth even as we see it.

    In the Middle Ages, which regrettably many still see as “The dark Ages” and I’ve seen numerous Atheists say Fundamentalist Christianity ran rampant, Allegorical Exegesis was the most common.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    Your explication of the Catholic position sounds right; however, in regards to this story, Licona was fired for suggesting that the story of the saints being raised from the dead and walking about was not *literal* but was instead metaphorical. He was accused of denying *inerrancy*. So exactly what 'inerrancy' means is unclear. In fact, the article linked to says:

    "The theological war of words, spurred by high-profile open letters and retorts on the Internet, has raised questions about the meaning of biblical inerrancy."

    Personally, I think inerrancy is an impossible position to maintain in practice, if not theory, given that there are so many different biblical interpretations and no genuine method for 'inerrantly' distinguishing between them. Human beings themselves are quite 'errant', so how would we even know what is 'inerrant'? Inerrancy is simply a doctrinal, i.e., authoritarian, assertion. Sort of like the 'infallible pope'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    This discussion suggests a sort of two-level framework for thinking about beliefs about the Bible as they relate to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.

    Let us define a "first-order Biblical belief" as a belief about what a given Biblical passage means and how it should be interpreted. For example, "The story in Matthew 27 about the resurrection of the saints is properly interpreted as literal history," would be a first-order Biblical belief. A "second-order Biblical belief" is a belief about or some or all first-level Biblical beliefs. For example, "The belief that 'the story in Matthew 27 about the resurrection of the saints is properly interpreted as literal history' is false," would be a second-order belief.

    I'm not sure how useful this distinction is, but it seems like there is something to it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    "Let us define a "first-order Biblical belief" as a belief about what a given Biblical passage means and how it should be interpreted."

    Wouldn't what a passage means be a separate thing from how it is interpreted? Interpretation, which includes saying something is 'literal history', is what determines the meaning, but is not (necessarily) the meaning itself. Your example of "The story in Matthew 27 about the resurrection of the saints is properly interpreted as literal history" doesn't tell us what Matthew 27 'means'. (not trying to pick nits, just to clarify)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16641266062186767500 Keith Parsons

    The standard distinction I have heard, as played out in the battles among conservative Protestants, is between "inerrant" and "infallible." The inerrantist affirms the scientific, historical, geographical, etc. accuracy of the Bible–or at least of the original texts. Hence, in addition to moral and theological authority, the inerrantist thinks that the Genesis chronology is correct (six to ten thousand year old earth), that Sampson's girlfriend did give him a haircut, that Balaam's ass spoke, that Methuselah lived 900+ years, and that Jonah was, in fact, swallowed by a "great fish" (though some of the more liberal ones concede that it might have been a whale). Infallibilists, on the other hand, might admit that the Biblical chronology is off (maybe by six orders of magnitude) and maybe even that Noah's ark was a fable. They hold that the Bible is infallible in the sense that it will not misguide in matters of faith or morals. The infallibilist position therefore sounds like the Catholic view of scripture cited by Zarove. If so, this similarity would make the infallibilist position even more repugnant to the really hidebound inerrantists.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00936835034592200336 semidemiurge

    Zarove,
    I am unaware of the suspension of anyone at CU due to calling Obama a socialist. Can you please give a reference.

    CU Alum and Colorado resident

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Chris — Good point. So we would either need to revise the hierarchy of Bible beliefs with three levels or bracket off either the belief about meaning or the belief about interpretation. I'm not sure.

    From a generic perspective, I like the idea of treating "second-order beliefs," regardless of the topic of first-order beliefs, as beliefs about first-order beliefs. So is a belief about the interpretation of a verse a belief about a belief about the meaning of a verse? That doesn't seem right to me. Hmmm….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Mr. Lowder, I think I can answer your quandary. As I have studied Theology, I also know the History of the Evangelical Movement, and Inerrancy.

    First off, inerrancy has always meant the same thing to everyone, that the Bible is without Error. However, what is meant by this? If you follow the Medieval Theologians, they were less concerned about whether or not the Bible accurately recorded history than they were about its Spiritual meaning. While they believed the events described generally happened ( with a few exceptions like Job or perhaps even a Literal creation) they believed the manner of the retelling was often more about highlighting a spiritual or moral lesson, so that facts could be rearranged, distorted, or even contrived just to make that point. In this model, that would no more be wrong than Shakespeare writing his plays, the majority of which were based on real history but all of which contain vast dramatic License. It’d also make the “error” only one of Morals or Spiritual Authority. Only the basic historical outlines would matter in terms of “did they happen”. This is again not to say the Bible was not True in a Literal Sense at all, only that the Literal Truth was subordinate to its overall Meaning.

    Evangelicals are largely a Modern Group. Evangelical Christianity as we see it didn’t really get started till the 1850’s, and are far removed from Medieval Theologians. They have also borrowed form the much Maligned but really not that bad Fundamentalists. While not Fundamentalists themselves, the Contemporary Idea of Biblical inerrancy was really engrained, but not started, with them, in the 20th Century. But it has earlier roots, notably during the series of Revivals in the early 19th Century, which brought with it, in addition to a new Zeal, a weakening of Denominational Separation, and a host of Changes to Theological Concepts. Primitivism, or Restorationism, came in vogue and part of that was used to influence the Stone Campbell Movement, the Mormons, and the Evangelicals to some extent or another. A Foundation for this is that Human Traditions had corrupted our Understanding of the Bible, so we had to read it afresh without the distorting tints of Philosophers and Theologians. But, how do you go about that? It was decided to simply Read it at the plain level and accept it word for word unless its clear it’s a Parable or metaphor. From thence it became rather common for people to simply Read the Bible and take its passages at Face Value.

    In the 20th Century, Fundamentalism codified this by making it a Central Tenet of Christianity as a whole and for the most part a Theological concept in its own Right. The Plain Reading of the Text became venerated above any other mean of studying the Bible in certain Groups and what flowed form that is our Situation today.

    Basically, Evangelicals interpret the Bible supposedly base don a Plain Reading. Of course the Reality is that this is not possible with any work as we bring in our own perceptions and biases to anything, and lo and behold Evangelicals bring their own Theological Ideas with them despite themselves, and often use the Bible as a Proof Text in much the same way people use the US Constitution.

    To Be Continued.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Fundamentalism got started not a s a movement of Zealots who hated those of other faiths, and most actual Fundamentalists are simply not that Venomous, but rather as a Reaction to Modernity. Modern Churches had Modern Ideas, and the fear was that the Gospel would be lost to compromise to the world, so some Churches dug in their Heels and began to fall back onto what they knew and a Plain Reading of the Biblical Text enabled them a Grounding they otherwise would have lacked.

    But Chris is Right, Inerrancy and Biblical Literalism are not the same thing, its just become conflated in the Minds of Evangelicals, Baptists, and a few others that if you think something is not Literally True, it is not True at all. It’s a byproduct of the “Plain Reading” mentality. As Fundamentalism developed as a Reaction to Modernism, and as Biblical Innerancy as we see today was resurrected and refined by the Fundamentalists, they see the world in a sort of Binary way when it comes to Theology. ( And again, I do nto think actual Fundamentalists, or Evangelicals, do this on all Topics.) It is either that you affirm the Bible is True, or you reject it as False. Some 19th Century Atheists in the Freethought movement did the same thing and continue to irritate on the internet via their later devotees. It’s the sort of all or nothing approach that forces one into picking a side.

    It also hinders any sort of ability to look backwards. The people who wrote the Gospels were Roman Citesens from a Jewish Culture, not Contemporary Americans, and the way they used words or described their world would be different from us. In fact, the way 19th Century people spoke and thought differs from us. The biggest problem with the Plain Reading of the Text is most people arent’ familiar enough with First Century Palestine to know how these people spoke thus interpret their words as if they are Modern Westerners. But I digress…

    I just think the Biblical Inerrancy debate is best understood in its own Historical context. They fear that if a passage in Mathew 27 can be interpreted metaphorically it leaves the door open for interpreting other events metaphorically, even important ones like the Resurrection. Its just seen as a Liberalising act that leads eventually to rejecting the Bibles Authority in total.

    Its rather like how Ken Ham thinks being an Evolutionist leads inevitably to Atheism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    SD- I had to look it up as I drew it from memory but, basically, the U of C fired a History teacher and a proffessor Curchill, and it was said to be over the conservative views they held, but it also appears the University denied this and claims it was for Academic standards not beign met or personal misconduct.

    http://www.kdvr.com/news/sns-ap-co–cu-facultygroup,0,5882316.story

    So be it as it is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that there are any scholars who actually think that saints rose from the graves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    ZAROVE: If you think Ward Churchill was a conservative, you've misread that article. The history professor, Phil Mitchell, whose contract was not renewed, was the one who allegedly "came under fire for his conservative religious and political convictions." Churchill was at the extreme opposite of the political spectrum.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Mr. Lippard, thank you for the correction. though in myown defence I had not msread the article, just applied the wrong name abscent mindedly.

    Still, it was a bluinder that required correction.

    Kel, you prove my poitn in an earleir thread abotu Fre Thinkers. If you arn't able to arrive at a conclusion that rests otuside of a specified limit, your thoughts are nto really Free. There are real Scolars who beelive in Ressurection, and one need not reject Miracles to be Scholarly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove,

    I believe Kel's point was more like this:

    If a massively miraculous event was witnessed by a great many people (the Saints wondering through Jerusalem) and this was not reported by any contemporary sources or referenced by anyone in the world outside of the Gospel of Matthew, then it is not particularly scholarly to accept a supernatural claim of this magnitude without any evidence other than a presuppositional, evangelising text. Carl Sagan's extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence springs to mind.

    If a great proportion of New York saw a host of angels last week, and no one said anything / recorded anything until 40 years + after the event, and even then it was only in one source, you would scarcely believe it as an academic historian.

    A good scholar should reject this passage.

    Therefore, Kel is on the money, though far more concise than me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny, one of the problems with being educated in Theology, or Psychology for that matter, is that when I speak I often sound insane. A lot of suppositions held in common parlance are actually wrong. In another thread I mentioned how Christianity, for instance, doesn’t necessarily require belief in the Supernatural. Whenever I say this I am called a fool, but tis True. Its also True, though not commonly understood, that Medieval, or even Early Modern Theologians tended to not us the word at all, or when they did applied it only to God. Angels, Spirits, and even Satan himself were never understood to be Supernatural. Today we describe them as Supernatural beings though.

    But I am classically educated so I shall be a bit hard to follow. Nevertheless…

    To Be Continued. Bloody Blogger won't accept text.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Continued…


    I believe Kel's point was more like this:

    If a massively miraculous event was witnessed by a great many people (the Saints wondering through Jerusalem) and this was not reported by any contemporary sources or referenced by anyone in the world outside of the Gospel of Matthew, then it is not particularly scholarly to accept a supernatural claim of this magnitude without any evidence other than a presuppositional, evangelising text.

    The event wasn’t itself necessarily Supernatural. The event could have been caused by a natural but not well understood phenomenon; even if God personally directed such.

    That out of the way, we don’t apply this same standard to anything else. Oftentimes we have only a singular account for even massively important events. How many accounts are there of Hannibal trying to invade Rome with Elephants? How many accounts contemporary do we have of Alexander the Great?

    We have exactly one source for the massacre at Mesada, and that is Josephus. No one doubts its Historical nature though.

    My question is thus this: If some other rather important figures of History had their deeds recorded by only one Source, and some rather noticeable events in Antiquity were only recounted by a single source that has survived to us, why is it so peculiar to have but one source for this event?

    It just doesn’t work as an argument if you know that Ancient History is spotty already. Why should I think it strange that we don’t have a plethora of accounts of the resurrection of the Saints when I don’t find it odd that there aren’t numerous mentions of the Battle between Pompeii and Julius Caesar?

    In order for this argument to work, then either we’d have to discount all events that would be Historically significant but are covered by only one or two sources, or else we’d have to fond a Reason why this account is singled out.

    We both know that this event is singled out only because its “Supernatural’, and you work on a Naturalist Bias. But that no more proves the text unreliable than someone like me saying that Miracles can be Natural and still Miracles makes me a nutter.


    Carl Sagan's extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence springs to mind.

    Carl Sagan was wrong. Extraordinary claims do not require Extraordinary proof; they require only the normal proof.

    To illustrate, if I tell you I have a new dog, and he is in the Garage, and invite you over to see him, you’d not consider this an Extraordinary claim. You would come to my House though and see the Dog by merely going into my garage.

    Now, what if I instead told you that I had a Space Alien, one of the legendary Greys, in my Garage which I had rescued after a Saucer crash? My guess is that this would be seen by you as an Extraordinary Claim. However, the Evidence for the claim is the same as for the Dog, I invite you over to meet him. You open the door, and go in, and see the Alien. There is no actual difference between the Evidence, only the claim differs.

    The same applies to if I told you I had amazing Psychic powers and could Read Minds, or if I told you that I was able to heal the Sick with my hands. Both are extraordinary claims but, if true, they do not require Extraordinary Evidence.

    One More, To Be COntinued.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    In Our Last Chapter, I had an Alein in my Garage…


    If a great proportion of New York saw a host of angels last week, and no one said anything / recorded anything until 40 years + after the event, and even then it was only in one source, you would scarcely believe it as an academic historian.

    You know, this is the sort of claim I grow tied of. By this same Logic we can safely conclude that Hannibal never tried to invade Rome, Alexander did not Conquer the Known world, and build the thitherto largest Empire the world had ever known, Caesar did not beat Pompeii in Battle, Constantine never did march on Rome, and Socratese never existed at all, much less taught Plato.

    Most sources from Antiquity are from only one or two sources and the vast majority of them are from far longer removed periods than the Gospels. 40 Years lapse is a newsflash for a written record in this Period. No one bothers to write about Hannibal until 100 years later. I mean, really, your comparative to New York is remarkably short sighted and presumes that we have a tonne of extant historical writings for events in Antiquity we don’t question and that they come form a variety of courses.

    If we have to reject a claim because it was made by only one written source 40 years after the fact, then we have to abandon between 80 and 90 per cent of all Ancient History as unreliable and untrustworthy.


    A good scholar should reject this passage.

    Based on what? Criterion we don’t use for any other Historical Literature from Antiquity? On what basis? Or do we have a special Rule about texts that would d later appear in the Bible?


    Therefore, Kel is on the money, though far more concise than me.

    So do you believe Caesar was killed in the Senate beneath the Statue of Pompeii, or not?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030669424412573308 Chris

    Zarove, your analogy between the alien and the dog doesn't really work, since more evidence would be required to verify that the alien is really one and not, say, a rubber model or, if 'living,' a person dressed up in an alien costume, an advanced robot with a prosthetic suit, etc. Genetic testing, autopsy, etc., might be required – thus extraordinary efforts not analogous to meeting a dog.

    **

    Given what seems like your classical theism and the idea that even God is not necessarily supernatural, can you then also be a naturalist, since even immateriality can therefore be subject to natural laws?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove,
    I appreciate the time taken to make your comments. When I get the chance later, I will hopefully show that they are grossly inadequate (with all due respect).

    regards

    Johno

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Firstly, I am sure you are a wonderfully well-trained theologian, but the authority you espouse from this is neither here nor there. It is not a theological point, but one of historical methodology. I could wow you with my qualifications, but it is not warranted. The substance, certainly in your philosophical and epistemological approach, seems somewhat weak and that is not a theological point.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Your problem here is that it is not a mantra designed to be talking about primary evidence. Primary evidence is the best evidence (usually, assuming sound of mind and not hallucinating etc). Your analogy fails because you are saying “If you could see both things with your bear eyes, then you would see they are both true.” However, this is a false analogy since we are talking about the standards of secondary and tertiary evidence.

    Hence, we are evaluating the extraordinary claim that resurrected hordes of saints paraded through a municipal city. This went unrecorded or unreferenced by everyone until some half a century or so later, by an evangeliser with an agenda.

    Thus, since this is unverified and not independently attested, even on historical grounds, this is poor evidence. It is also wildly supernatural claim that, as far as we know, has never happened and cannot happen, except in the claims of the bible. However, you would, I imagine, deny all other supernatural claims from religions outside of the bible. On what grounds? I would posit that it would actually be on special pleaded naturalistic grounds, thus employing double standards, though I could be wrong.

    If I told you tomorrow these two things:

    1) I ate 2 apples yesterday
    2) I swam the English channel with my hands and feet tied yesterday in 2 hours

    You would believe 1) on my simple testimony. You would not believe 2) on my simple testimony alone.

    Therefore, extraordinary claims do indeed need extraordinary evidence.

    Let’s expand this for clarity:

    Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc.

    You can claim all you like about extraordinary evidence, and apologists often do, but they get it wrong. You simply cannot deny either of the examples above. That is sceptical human nature. Fact. Thus the Matthew 27 account is less well attested than a particular Hindu miracle: “An incident concerning Raghavendra Swami and Sir Thomas Munro has been recorded in the Madras Districts Gazetteer. In 1801, while serving as the Collector of Bellary, Sir Thomas Munro, who later served as the Governor of Madras is believed to have come across an apparition of Raghavendra Swami who had died almost two centuries back.” yet none of us believe this.

    Matthew 27, at the very least, needs some kind of recognition that what must be thousands of people would have seen this. Yet only one foreign writer, writing in a different country at least 50 years later, seems to be the only person to have recorded this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Your point on naturalism has some merit in that naturalism is difficult to define. Once it was called materialism, as in deriving from matter. However, the electromagnetic force was discovered which didn’t fit the bill of matter, so physicalism was born. For naturalism, we are probably better to assign the term physicalism.

    It seems you might be espousing a New Mysterian approach where we discover new dimensions or states, but assimilate them into what we know (of natural law).

    However, the distinction, to me at least, seems to be that they adhere to natural law. The position of theists is that God can bypass this. Thus, these are supernatural events. Without the interference of God – his intercessory powers – these events would not and could not come to pass.

    Matthew 27 is one of these events, surely. Unless you stretch plausibility by saying it ‘could’ happen naturalistically. Well, yes, and pigs ‘could’ fly. But they don’t. And there has been no accepted accounts of individual, let alone mass, resurrections. Unless you accept individual religions’ claims of their own religious miraculous resurrections. In which case, are you special pleading for Christianity?

    Other than that, the burden of proof is on you to claim that these events could happen naturalistically, otherwise the floodgates open and you have no epistemological method for sorting and evaluating knowledge.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "You know, this is the sort of claim I grow tied of. By this same Logic we can safely conclude that Hannibal never tried to invade Rome, Alexander did not Conquer the Known world, and build the thitherto largest Empire the world had ever known, Caesar did not beat Pompeii in Battle, Constantine never did march on Rome, and Socratese never existed at all, much less taught Plato.

    Most sources from Antiquity are from only one or two sources and the vast majority of them are from far longer removed periods than the Gospels. 40 Years lapse is a newsflash for a written record in this Period. No one bothers to write about Hannibal until 100 years later. I mean, really, your comparative to New York is remarkably short sighted and presumes that we have a tonne of extant historical writings for events in Antiquity we don’t question and that they come form a variety of courses.

    If we have to reject a claim because it was made by only one written source 40 years after the fact, then we have to abandon between 80 and 90 per cent of all Ancient History as unreliable and untrustworthy."

    People can and have ridden elephants. The people of Carthage had access to elephants. We have evidence of war elephants being used in India and by Pyrrhus of Epirus, The Persians at battles such as Guagemala, as well as by Hannibal.

    As for historical attestation to Hannibal, see Livy's books 21 and books 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of the World History by Polybius of Megalopolis. Both make excellent reading. Additional information can be found in Appian's Roman history.

    Then there are inscriptions and busts, artwork etc.

    What really puts your analogy in the doghouse is information such as this:

    “We know that before he left Hannibal put on record what he and his army had achieved since setting out from Iberia to confound the majesty of Rome well-nigh 16 years ago. The record, written in Punic and in Greek, the international language in Hannibal’s day, was set up in the temple of Hera Lacinia on the cliff edge of the Lacinian promontory 12km south of Kroton, his final headquarters. A generation later the inscription was seen and read by Polybios.” (Hannibal, Nic Field, Peter Dennis)

    Both Polybius and Appian have him as returning with 37, and having some 80 at the battle.

    Thus all of this evidence corroborates what is, in fact, an utterly naturalistic claim, and one which has many precedents.

    The point may tire you, but I would do it the justice it deserves, at least.

    Regards

    Johnny

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15536547131562840293 Wired For Sound

    "If we have to reject a claim because it was made by only one written source 40 years after the fact, then we have to abandon between 80 and 90 per cent of all Ancient History as unreliable and untrustworthy."

    True. Except the nature of the claim counts for a lot. Multiple contemporary attestations of a supernatural event are worth a lot less than a single attestation of a mundane event 200 years removed from its occurrence.
    That is the difference here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09902568587446268437 articulett

    Zarove,
    What sort of evidence would you need to conclude the Mormon gold plates were real? How about Mohummed's horse flight?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Chris, my analogy between the Dog and the Alien does work. I doubt you’d need DNA testing to believe that it’s an Alien, is the creature moved about, spoke, and sowed obvious signs of life, and if you could touch him like you do the dog. You’d also readily know that its not a Machine or a man in a rubber suit.

    While this wouldn’t rule out, say, a very oddly shaped man due to birth defect who passes himself off as an Alien, you’d likely be convinced right off.

    Johnny, as to History you make a mistake on reading. You still only cite two sources and neither were actually contemporary to the event. Mist events in Ancient History are that way. Mist are not written in accounts that survive to our Times by Eye Witnesses, or even those living at the Time of the events. Neither of the two sources you wrote are specifically contemporary either.

    Even if they wee, that solves only Hannibal, not Mesada, nor most other Historical events. My point remains unchanged, mist Ancient historical texts we have today, even of Mundane affairs of State or of the Lives of Philosophers, are bereft of multiple attestation and the majority were written a Generation or so after the fact.

    That really only leaves your presumption of a world where Miracles can’t happen. I really don’t think the argument that says “there is only one source, and an event like this should be noted by several” works irrespective of that though, because on its own it leaves outmost of History.

    That was what I was refuting.

    As for Naturalism and Supernaturalism, one can posit God as Natural. There are two ways to do this. One can presuppose that, while God is free to manipulate the world and has supreme Power, he is himself bound by Natural Laws, or is perhaps synonymous with said Laws. In that case, while God can do anything that is physically possible, he cannot break the Laws of Physics. This may contradict what you think of as “Classical Theism” or “Christian Theism” but it was created by Christian Theologians working from Augustine (Though Augustine himself did not espouse this specific view.)

    In that Model, God can simply do all things that are mechanically possible and has unlimited Power with which to do them, but cannot do that which Natural Law won’t allow for. EG, God cannot make a Round Square, or in this case cannot Travel faster than the Speed of Light (Presuming we are correct on that assertion. Neutrinos aside for not.)

    But the second and more common way is that God, as the Source and Principal Author of Nature, should be seen as Natural. While God can suspend, Alter, or even Abolish the Laws that Govern our Universe, since God was the origin of said Law to begin with such an amendment to our existence would not be seen as “Unnatural”.

    God would be thus envisioned as simply that which defines Nature and Natural law, and is thus himself the supreme Embodiment of Nature, not a separate, Supernatural being set apart from it. As Nature flows from God the supreme Natural Law is God’s Will.

    Keep in mind also that I am not arguing for or against a specific position, I am merely discussing what is presented. If You present that Mathew 27 should not be believed by any Scholar, you are asserting that al Scholars must understand Miracles as impossible, and operate on the same Methodological Naturalism you do. I simply don’t think that this is necessary in order to be a Scholar.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Art, it doesn’t matter hat evidence would convince me, the question I was addressing was whether one can be a Scholar and accept Mathew 27. He can. One can be a Scholar and accept Mormonism and the Gold Plates too, or a Scholar and accept Muhammad’s Night Flight, which isn’t even needful to accept to be a Muslim. I just don’t find people automatically Irrational for such beliefs, it doesn’t mean I share them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    '"If we have to reject a claim because it was made by only one written source 40 years after the fact, then we have to abandon between 80 and 90 per cent of all Ancient History as unreliable and untrustworthy."'

    And also reject reports of a second gunman shooting JFK, and aliens landing at Roswell as unreliable and untrustworthy.

    Where would historians be without unprovenanced anonymous works which are full of the same frauds and lies that seem to attend the birth of all religions?

    I can see a new slogan for Christian T-shirts.

    'Christianity – it's history now, ancient history'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove,

    You haven't engaged at all with my examples or analogies.

    On your methodology it would take no more quality of secondary evidence to believe claim 5 over claim 1. If this is the case, then you are woefully misguided and you need to convince me why this is the case. If not, then your position is refuted.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    You seem to be using some odd methodology to establish your point, a classic approach that many Christians try: if I can invalidate the existence of a ‘known’ historical figure based on historical methodology, I can explain the paucity of evidence for Jesus claims.

    First of all, Appian and Polybius were historians. The author of Matthew is anonymous. He also has a clear evangelising agenda. This is not the case with the two historians. They may have had minor agendas of sorts, but nothing in the same league as an anonymous, non-historian, religious evangeliser. You are comparing apples and rock.

    Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, Hannibal created an inscription – primary evidence – which Polybius accessed. Polybius' books are a near contemporary account of the war, and he spoke to eye-witnesses of the Second Punic War from both sides. He also had access to documents that no longer exist, such as treaties between Rome and Carthage and Scipio's letter to Philip of Macedon where he detailed his capture of New Carthage. He also went to the places and locations of the war, going so far as following Hannibal's route through the Alps.

    Polybius made use of other historians contemporary with the period, such as Q. Fabius Pictor who was a Roman senator who traveled to the Oracle of Delphi to seek advice after the disaster of Cannae, and Sosylus of Sparta – a Greek teacher who accompanied Hannibal on his march along with Silenos of Kaleakte, another follower of Hannibal's. He made use of L. Cincius Amlimentus too, who was a praetor who had been captured by Hannibal.

    We have some great detail of the war elephants and where they were positioned on the battlefield. This is not some one-off random appearance of supernatural hordes. This is a claim which is corroborated by further claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    We also know, for example, that coinage hordes show that the 2nd Punic War almost bankrupted Rome, as well as coins showing the binding oath of Rome’s allies during Hannibal’s invasion. I don’t recall any such evidence supporting the hordes of angelic saints! It’s not just the accounts, but the consequences of his existence which need to be taken into account, such that:

    “On the other hand, the evidence on the existence of notable military & political figures (like Hannibal Barca) across literate eras (like the Classical antiquity) is usually extremely strong.

    Of course, no historical evidence is ever absolute; a priori, it is possible that we all may be living in the matrix Universe.

    However, the likelihood of any alternative explanation is objectively so low that it would be grossly the equivalent to accepting nowadays the popular conspiracy theory that the humans never reached the Moon.

    In the working hypothesis that Hannibal Barca existed, literally thousands of textual references from myriad authors of the most diverse background are available on the facts that someone with that name did acquire a notable military reputation.
    There is also some significant archaeological evidence available.
    In general terms, the available textual evidence is of excellent quality for the standards of ancient History (e.g., it includes several professional historians that tend to quote their original sources) and it is extremely coherent among quite diverse sources.
    And of course, first-hand accounts are available.

    Falsely portraying the existence of any individual can be explained by essentially just three mechanisms:
    - Mistake,
    - Fraud, or
    - Fiction.
    The possibility of the latter two on a global scale relative to the existence of Hannibal Barca is simply utterly absurd.
    The likelihood of any mistake (so many diverse and often unrelated authors simultaneously mistakenly believing the false biography and myriad facts of a non-existent Hannibal Barca) is so exponentially infinitesimally low that it hardly requires any additional consideration.

    Besides, Hannibal Barca was a momentous figure; the consequences of his life and activities were immense for the Classical (ergo, the universal) History.
    Any alternative hypothesis that would try to explain such consequences in the absence of his existence is simply extremely far fetched, essentially absurd to the Nth degree.

    To summarize: in the absence of any even remotely valid alternative explanation on the historical evidence backing the existence of Hannibal Barca, the historicity of the latter must be fully accepted until any strong opposite evidence may appear.”

    There are Roman busts and Carthiginian coins (see Patrick Hunt, Alpine Archaeology, 2007).

    One of the major points you seem to have overlooked are that all of Hannibal’s sources are enemy attestation. All of Jesus’ attestations are from evangelisers – pro-Jesus sources. Straight away this should make you suspicious.

    We also have the fact that Carthage was flattened to the ground. If Hannibal had not existed, there is no plausible reason for this happening. Moreover, there is archaeological evidence from the Scipios camps in Spain.

    Then add to this the fact that if near-contemporary Roman historians had claimed to the Roman publics that thousands of Romans had been killed by Hannibal, and this had not happened, then the readers and Roman public would have laughed them off. The fact that this was accepted by everyone at the time as fact show that it was, in all probability, fact.

    So please, if you are making sweeping historical claims, please treat your claims, and the evidence, like a historian. Don’t just look at the historians writing, but all the other evidence, circumstantial and otherwise, that fit together like a jigsaw.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny, when you say something like this…

    “You seem to be using some odd methodology to establish your point, a classic approach that many Christians try: if I can invalidate the existence of a ‘known’ historical figure based on historical methodology, I can explain the paucity of evidence for Jesus claims.”

    … You make any discussion impossible. While I am a Christian, I had not stated as such till now, and its not all together obvious from my earlier posts here. My methodology is the Historical one. No Historian, for example, thinks the Paucity of material on Jesus is all that Unusual. In fact, we have a near Universal Consensus that Jesus was a Real Man and the outline of his Life was reflected in the Gospels. Even those ho reject Miracle Claims and think the Gospels contain interpolations, distortions, and exaggerations do not deny the basic outline of an Itinerate Rabbi who travelled about and got crucified. Bart Ehrman even says that any such claims of Jesus not existing at all are rubbish and he’s an Atheist.

    The Truth is that we have far more information on Jesus than any other Historical Figure who was not an Emperor or General. Why on Earth would we deny this Evidence when we don’t for similar figures?

    At the same Time, I’m not trying to invalidate the existence of other Historical Figures, I’m rather trying to show you how Historical, as opposed to Scientific, Methods work. I’m not actually trying to prove Socrates didn’t exist, I’m simply saying that we have less on him than on Jesus so if one is to deny Jesus or specific claims about Jesus we should be consistent and do the same for Socrates.

    To Be Continued.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Now, on with the show.

    This brings me to…

    “First of all, Appian and Polybius were historians.”

    Which is my point. They were not contemporary to Hannibal. Your specific allegation about Jesus was that the Material was written some 40 years later. How many years later did Appian pr Polybius write? Your comment on Mathew being Anonymous is really not a refutation of the central point I raised. Your specific objection was that Mathews Gospel was written 40 years after the fact, so unless Apian or Polybius were writing during Hannibal’s Lifetime and were contemporary to the events, not writing decades later, you have no real grounds for dismissing the point I raised.

    Then there’s this…

    “ He also has a clear evangelising agenda. This is not the case with the two historians. They may have had minor agendas of sorts, but nothing in the same league as an anonymous, non-historian, religious evangeliser. You are comparing apples and rock.”

    So if they had an Agenda its more minor because they weren’t Religiously motivated. Right. And since Glenn Beck is a Historian whose books are Secular we should Trust him…

    I’m sorry but once you introduce even the possibility that an author may be Biased you have no grounds for claiming this Agenda is somehow less significant than someone else’s Agenda, and this is especially True in the Ancient World when Impartiality AND OBJECTIVE Analysis of History was unheard of.

    The Truth is, you are simply approaching this with your own Bias that favours any source other than a Christian one and that seeks to invalidate it. The Gospel of Mathew is unreliable to you from the get go simply because it’s the Gospel of Mathew in the Bible. That is not Historical methodology, that’s simply you imputing your own sentiment onto History in order to justify it.

    “Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, Hannibal created an inscription – primary evidence – which Polybius accessed. “

    And Early Christian writers saw thigns like the Nails that affixed Jesus to the Cross and could Visit the Empty Tomb…

    .,.. if we follow the “Logical and Rational” approach you do, I’d bet we’d see those Nails as fake and not really evidence, but would never dream of the possibility that someone else came along and created the Inscription to kept he Hannibal Myth alive.

    It’s still a double standard.

    Especially as we don’t have the inscription today.

    TBC…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Continued From The Above.

    “Polybius' books are a near contemporary account of the war, and he spoke to eye-witnesses of the Second Punic War from both sides.”

    Luke’s Gospel was written based on interviews of Eyewitnesses as well. I still bet you reject it.

    “He also had access to documents that no longer exist, such as treaties between Rome and Carthage and Scipio's letter to Philip of Macedon where he detailed his capture of New Carthage. He also went to the places and locations of the war, going so far as following Hannibal's route through the Alps.”

    Mathew also had access to texts that no longer exist and that he could access, such as extant Roman Records and direct personal interviews.

    But his reports are unreliable according to you.

    “Polybius made use of other historians contemporary with the period, such as Q. Fabius Pictor who was a Roman senator who traveled to the Oracle of Delphi to seek advice after the disaster of Cannae, and Sosylus of Sparta – a Greek teacher who accompanied Hannibal on his march along with Silenos of Kaleakte, another follower of Hannibal's. He made use of L. Cincius Amlimentus too, who was a praetor who had been captured by Hannibal.”

    And, Mathew did not have any firsthand experience… we know because you said so. He could not have asked anyone who was there…we know because you said so. He did not have any access to any materials we don’t have today, we know because you said so.

    I’m sorry but all I see here is you making excuses for rejecting Mathew in total that are nto applied to other texts. Miracles, or “Supernatural events” as you still put them, are also recounted as fact by Polybius, yet Polybuis is accurate and Mathew is not?

    Come on, the Truth is, Mathew is only seen as unreliable because it’s a Gospel in the Bible, not because its more Rational to reject it whilst accepting Polybius. This is an excuse, not an argument.

    “We have some great detail of the war elephants and where they were positioned on the battlefield. This is not some one-off random appearance of supernatural hordes. This is a claim which is corroborated by further claims.”

    The same can be said of Mathew. Its not like he wrote nothing else of Jesus, the Gospel is a biography, and its even backed by three other Biographies, which even if you use Mark and Q theory, Johns is still independent. You also have Paul, and the Earliest Church Fathers, all of which are far more contemporary than most or al of what we have of Hannibal. Again, its simply because it’s the Bible that you reject its credibility, not because of Historical Methodology.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Now that I have discussed that…

    “We also know, for example, that coinage hordes show that the 2nd Punic War almost bankrupted Rome, as well as coins showing the binding oath of Rome’s allies during Hannibal’s invasion. I don’t recall any such evidence supporting the hordes of angelic saints! It’s not just the accounts, but the consequences of his existence which need to be taken into account, such that:”

    Er, the Saints were not described as “Angelic”, only resurrected. And just how many were there? And how long did they stay? If there were, say, 30, and they remained for a week, the long term consequences wouldn’t be as sweeping.

    The problem with your assessment is that it is irrational to assume that even a remarkable event such as the Resurrection of the Dead would necessarily lead to some sort of massive Change. But the sort of Political Changes that occurred due to the Punic Wars is not really evidence against such a claim as the Resurrection of the Saints in Mathew 27, simply because the latter was never depicted as an Empire Wide event that should have any economic impact.

    But using the same Historical Standards you employ to discredit Mathew, both Appian and Polybius are discredited since both speak of Miracles as real events thus invalidating their whole work, and neither Truly wrote contemporaneously to the events.

    You ask me to treat my Historian claims like a Historian. I am. But, as you already noted, some people deny the Moon Landing. Its just as silly to me to do that as it is to deny Hannibal, but tis equally silly to deny Jesus ever existed, and some people do that as well.

    All I am saying is that your standard of evidence is not base don Historical Methodology, you instead try to claim it is in order to bolster legitimacy for your claim. The fact remains that if Mathew cannot be Trusted because its only a singular source, rewritten decades later, then neither can any other claim that’s singular, and written a significant amount of Time later. That isn’t just Hannibal, that includes Mesada. Josephus Alone mentions the Massacre at Mesada in surviving Literature. Josephus was not an eye witness and did not write at the time of Mesada’s Massacre, but decades later. By the same Logic you use on Mathew, since Josephus is a singular source, and since he wrote decades later, his account is unreliable.

    My point is that you can’t use the fact that Mathews text is singular in referencing this, and the fact that it was written 40 years later somehow makes the claim invalid, but we don’t Treat any other Historical Event that way. Its obvious its just an excuse.

    It also suffers form several other fatal flaws. For instance, we don’t know when Mathew was written, so what if we are wrong about it being written 40 years later and it was actually written ten years after the fact like the Church claimed in the first few Centuries? What if the whole idea that Mark was written first with Q is wrong? We don’t, after all, know for certain.

    What we do know is that it was written before the close of the First Century, as its quoted by then.

    What this really boils down to is, it’s the Bible so must not b as reliable as other sources.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "If you arn't able to arrive at a conclusion that rests otuside of a specified limit, your thoughts are nto really Free. There are real Scolars who beelive in Ressurection, and one need not reject Miracles to be Scholarly."
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I'm not dismissing a priori the possibility of miracles, but that an earthquake releasing zombies into Jerusalem should not be held by any reasonable person based on the historical evidence.

    That scholars can believing in a zombie uprising on the basis of one account says more about the scholars than the scholarship. That's the point I was trying to make, Zarove.

    If you want to take issue with my characterisation of how we should view evidence, do you accept any account? There are people who swear that they either know a psychic, or are psychic themselves. Thus if someone says they met a psychic, should you believe that psychics exist? If not, why is the account in Matthew of a zombie uprising more plausible?

    As a quick justification of the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If two hunters came home and one claimed to have saw a bear and the other a bigfoot, the weight of each testimony is not the same. The difference is the background information, bears are known to exist while bigfoot are not. The likelihood that either account is true differs even though they're both the same kind of testimony. Background information matters. Otherwise we have no ability to assess any claim on its merits. A man claims to have rolled a die and it comes up 6 isn't so extraordinary, a man claims to have rolled 100 dice and they all come up 6 is. Purely because we know that there's a random probability distribution and the chance of rolling 100 dice is 1 in 6.5×10^77.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "If You present that Mathew 27 should not be believed by any Scholar, you are asserting that al Scholars must understand Miracles as impossible, and operate on the same Methodological Naturalism you do."
    My account doesn't rest on miracles being impossible. Even if you take miracles as possible, it doesn't mean we should accept any account claiming a miracle. To illustrate this, take the earthquake that preceded the zombie uprising. We know that earthquakes do happen, so they're not impossible. But an earthquake happening in Jerusalem in ~30CE has no support outside the bible from accounts nor physical evidence. Thus the claim that there was an earthquake is unlikely to be true. Earthquakes violate nothing about how we know the world to work, but that claim of an earthquake doesn't stand up to the evidence we would normally expect. Thus it is reasonable to reject.

    So when it comes to something that violates how we know the world to work, it doesn't mean it's rejected out of hand, but it needs more than just someone claiming it happened. It would be absurd to think that zombies walking around can be established by a single account, and thus it doesn't take thinking that zombies are impossible to reject that it did happen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    Zarove, I hope in the future you won't go off half-cocked and be more cautious when you reach for the insults. My account required no commitment to naturalism, just that claims against how we know the world to work need more than someone's word for it.

    I have a claim for you. My grandfather was rescued in world war 2 from a Japanese bombing attack by a Chinese dragon. This story was confirmed to me by his war buddies. Do you accept this claim? If not, why not?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, for someone who claims I issued insults, calling the resurrection of the Saints in Mathew 27 “Zombies” is really out of bounds.

    Of course, that’s the point. Atheists nowadays are somehow permitted to use Childish Insults on the net and yet when these are challenged its insulting.

    Mathew 27 doesn’t really describe a Zombie uprising. There is a difference, whether you believe either are possible, between resurrection the dead and raising up Zombies and the mere use of the word “Zombie” only further solidifies my own point that you do have an A Priori Assumption that you work from, and that this is not entirely based on neutral observation and pure Logic and Reason. How can I say that when you bandy about the word “Zombie”? It’s like “Sky Daddy”, it’s meaningless. It’s just a juvenile insult that doesn’t really address what someone else believes in, and is just designed to make the belief look stupid without real discussion.

    I’ll answer your comment son evidence when you stop showing how ignorant and foolish you are. Which means, address what the text of Mathew really says. At no point does Mathew describe Zombies.

    A question we can out before you is, why should we Trust your claims about Mathew not being real evidence if you are biased and already show a willingness to try to discredit the text beforehand by lying about its content?

    Doesn't repeatedly callign Mathew 27's accoutn a "Zombie uprising" instantaniously discredit you since you misrepresent whatt he texct even says in a transparent attempt to depict it as wrong?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    It's got nothing to do with Natural bias, but inductive inference about how the world works. If someone claimed to levitate, dismissing it doesn't mean that we're not open to the possibility of gravity being wrong, but that the claim has to be taken in light of our experience of that going against how the world works. There are plenty of people who claim levitation – I've even seen video of it – but how else are we meant to assess such a claim except in light of relevant facts about what we know?

    Same goes for the accounts themselves. We know that people have faulty memories, interpret experiences in light of cultural explanations, lie, embellish and conflate accounts, etc. So if we're placing a claim of levitation up against knowing that things don't levitate and that eyewitness accounts are flawed, surely that's good reason against thinking that there's actual levitation going on.

    Take Uri Geller as an example. It is claimed that Uri Geller has psychic powers. He has amply demonstrated his powers to audiences around the world, and even on television in front of live audiences. With all those accounts, and even hard evidence of him in action, that we should accept that Uri Geller has psychic powers? Is it Natural bias to claim otherwise?

    Come on, Zarove, you're arguing for a zombie uprising as history. By the same token, I could say that your supernatural bias is showing, and that a supernatural bias is unfounded given the overwhelming success of methodological naturalism. But I'm not doing that, you're the one accusing me of having a natural bias, meanwhile I'm not arguing anything other than accounts that violate how we know the world to work (our background information) require evidence to overcome that incredulity. 250 years ago, it was claimed that washing one's hands before surgery would help. Back then, such a claim violated the notions of the cause of disease. It was an extraordinary claim, and the evidence showed that it worked. Likewise, the claim that neutrino particles can travel faster than the speed of light goes against established knowledge and needs further investigation before it can be established.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Kel, for someone who claims I issued insults, calling the resurrection of the Saints in Mathew 27 “Zombies” is really out of bounds."
    Zombie – a dead body that has been brought back to life by a supernatural force.

    Zombie might be a crude way to describe it, but it's not inaccurate. When I say zombie, people know I'm talking about the dead coming back to life…

    "Of course, that’s the point. Atheists nowadays are somehow permitted to use Childish Insults on the net and yet when these are challenged its insulting."
    How was it an insult? You having a go at my ability to think is an insult, describing the dead rising from their graves as zombies is not.

    "I’ll answer your comment son evidence when you stop showing how ignorant and foolish you are. "
    Again, an insult. And on top of that, condescension. I've tried providing arguments, and the best you've got is to take exception over characterising the dead coming back to life as zombies. Yet I'm showing myself ignorant and foolish? I've made arguments, yet where am I being ignorant and foolish?

    " At no point does Mathew describe Zombies. "
    27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
    27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
    27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

    "A question we can out before you is, why should we Trust your claims about Mathew not being real evidence if you are biased and already show a willingness to try to discredit the text beforehand by lying about its content?"
    Firstly, I'm not lying about its context. What you're getting up in arms over is me characterising the saints rising from their grave as being zombies. That's not lying. Secondly, the validity of Matthew not being real evidence has nothing to do with my testimony of it. It has everything to do with the content of Matthew. If I argued that Osama Bin Laden as a terrorist, it's not my account that makes Bin Laden a terrorist – it's those terrorist acts that he masterminded.

    "Doesn't repeatedly callign Mathew 27's accoutn a "Zombie uprising" instantaniously discredit you since you misrepresent whatt he texct even says in a transparent attempt to depict it as wrong?"
    Whether or not it discredits me, it doesn't discredit my point – the point I've went to pains to argue. If you don't want me to use the word "zombies" as shorthand for "dead saints rising from the graves", then replace every use of "zombies" with "dead saints rising from their graves" and reread it again. Tell me how that I used the word zombies means that my explanation of the nature of testimony to establish the extraordinary is discredited… because nothing in my argument relies on whether or not its fair to label dead saints rising from the grave as zombies, and everything to do with the claim that dead saints arose from the grave!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, you are wrong, and what’s worse, you are wrong in such a way as to prove that you are Irrational. You not only use the word “Zombie:” to try to belittle the text in the hopes of making it seem foolish to believe it, you are persistent in the use even after being told how ridiculous it makes you and even defended the use based on a bad definition.

    The only thing that stops your definition from describing anyone resituated form Death at Hospitals is the “Supernatural force” claim, which if you bothered to read my earlier posts you’d realise doesn’t even necessarily include Jesus as the very concept of the Supernatural is a much later appellation.

    By the way, a Zombie is not a dead person brought to life by a Supernatural force; a Zombie is defined as an animated corpse. This means that for Mathew 27 to be describing a Zombie uprising you’d have to envision them as still dead. Its clear from the text that they aren’t meant to be seen as reanimated corpses, still rotting away.

    No, Kel, they were not Zombies.

    Here is the actual definition.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/zombie

    noun
    1.(in voodoo)
    a.the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
    b.the supernatural force itself.
    2.Informal.
    a.a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton.
    b.an eccentric or peculiar person.
    3.a snake god worshiped in West Indian and Brazilian religious practices of African origin.
    4.a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.
    5.CanadianSlang. an army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.

    So, no, Mathew 27 don’t mention Zombies.

    The resurrected Saints were not reanimated corpses, but alive. They were not reanimated corpses but living regular Human persons.

    But you have shown yourself once again to be so incredibly biased as to not be credible yourself. If you start with the A Priori Assumption that you must refute the Bible, and then resort to these sorts of falsifications in order to belittle the texts of the Bible, then it is safe to conclude that you are not rejecting the Mathew 27 narrative based only on Reason and because it violates the way the world works. You reject the story because you want to prove Mathew 27, and by extension at least a part of Christianity, wrong to vindicate your own Religious beliefs.

    Further, your employment of such terminology, and defence of it, does undermine your original point. Its clear that you, personally don’t care about the Truth, and only want to promote your own vision of things whilst discrediting Christianity. This may not prove the text of Mathew 27 is in fact reliable, but it does prove that you, Kel, are unreliable in determining it. You start with the conclusion that its wrong, then try to cast the text in the worst or most demeaning Light possible.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Oh, and Kl, its best not to say I have a Supernatural Bias again if I say that I follow Classical Theology. keep in mind that Classical Theology doens't deal in the Supernatural.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    One last, I'm not accusign yiou of havign a Natural Bias, I am acusing you of havign an Anti-Christian Bias, and havign a modern Secularist Bias.

    That is not the same as a natural Bias.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    That I labelled the dead coming back to life at zombies is utterly irrelevant to my argument. I explained what I meant by zombie, and I said I was happy if you took zombie to mean "dead saints rising from the grave", so why you are persisting with my use of the word zombies is beyond me.

    As I said in my last post: "nothing in my argument relies on whether or not its fair to label dead saints rising from the grave as zombies, and everything to do with the claim that dead saints arose from the grave!" [emphasis added]

    "This may not prove the text of Mathew 27 is in fact reliable, but it does prove that you, Kel, are unreliable in determining it."
    An account has the dead coming back to life, yet that I called that a zombie uprising discredits me? Hah!

    "start with the conclusion that its wrong, then try to cast the text in the worst or most demeaning Light possible."
    What conclusion? I've stated that what I meant by zombie was the dead coming back to life, and that's what it says. Using the word zombie or talking about the dead being alive again doesn't change my point one iota! Zarove, can you read what I'm writing instead of getting hung up on the word zombie? My account doesn't hinge at all on whether they were technically zombies, because zombies are imaginary! Zombie, in the way that I used it, was the characterisation of the dead rising from the graves. If that's an unfair characterisation, then I'll be happy to use a different word. But my point didn't rest on them being literal zombies (again, zombies are imaginary) but that there's an account of the dead coming back to life.

    Could you actually read what I'm writing instead of getting outraged over my use of the word zombie? I've explained what I meant my zombie and said I'd be happy to drop it, yet you're arguing a straw man against my position on the basis of what you think zombie ought to mean… Again, I've explained that by zombie I meant the dead rising from the grave, and it's completely irrelevant to my account. Could you please stop arguing over whether my use of zombie was accurate and address the arguments? That you attack my argument as if it somehow rests on their literally being zombie saints wandering Jerusalem is arguing a straw man.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel-

    That I labelled the dead coming back to life at zombies is utterly irrelevant to my argument. I explained what I meant by zombie, and I said I was happy if you took zombie to mean "dead saints rising from the grave", so why you are persisting with my use of the word zombies is beyond me.

    Because its not irrelevant to my point, which you seem not to be able to bring yourself to address, much less consider.

    My point is that people bring their biases into the discussion. The original Objections to Mathew as a Reliable History was questioned based on Criterion that we don’t ascribe to other texts. Instead of admitting this, the initial response is to try to show how those other texts differ, but they are still written later and by non-eyewitnesses.

    So now you jump to “It’s a supernatural event so different”, and of course the idiot word “Zombie” which you think makes you seem more cleaver.

    The use of the word “Zombie” wasn’t just to mean “Dead people who came back”, it was meant to depict the event in Mathew 27 as something silly to believe in. We both know it. We both know that you used the word “Zombie” to create a sort of mental connection that makes the story seem absurd. We also both know that the horror movie cliché’s weren’t rising form their graves and shambling around. But we also both know that this clichéd image is what you intentionally go for in calling them zombies.

    The bottom line is, you won’t take the topic seriously. Your mind is made up and further you drive joy in actually attacking Christianity.

    There can never be an argument which satisfies you because you will simply distort all evidence in favour of your own Biases.

    Now stop pretending your use of the word Zombies was justifiable or innocent, it wasn’t. You used it to create a mental image of shambling corpses and thus to undermine the narratives credibility, and know full well your depiction is wrong.

    Your argument may not hinge on this, but the fact is, no argument of mien in rebuttal will matter. Once you say “Zombie uprising” you also say “ I am an idiot who will refuse to listen to anyone who doesn’t already agree with me”.

    That’s all I hear now from you. That is how you come across with your “Cute” “Zombie uprising” caricature. You admit that you aren’t interested in discussion, only in baseless ridicule. You don’t care about the Truth, only upholding your own Religious views.

    I’m also not arguing a Straw Man, I’m using you to illustrate my point about Biases. Why should I think any argument other than “Yup, the story si clearly fictional” will be given any leeway from you base don you’re a Priori Assumptions?

    Even if we had 10’000 accounts of this event, from separate Authors, you’d still not believe it. You’d not believe it because it contradicts your base assumptions about Reality. It’s really not because the Historical Method dictates it, but because your view on how the world works dictates it.

    Why waste my Time on the actual text further if you will just cintrive another cheap, childish insult and pretend you made a valid argument?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "So now you jump to “It’s a supernatural event so different”, and of course the idiot word “Zombie” which you think makes you seem more cleaver."
    I explained this above, my account doesn't rely on it being supernatural – merely that it goes against how we know the world to work. Can you read my argument please?

    "The use of the word “Zombie” wasn’t just to mean “Dead people who came back”, it was meant to depict the event in Mathew 27 as something silly to believe in."
    Actually, I find it sillier the way you put it. Did the corpses of the saints stay preserved with no cellular decay, or when God raised them did he restore the bodies to their previous state? I do find it silly, but it's got nothing to do with the source. Anyone claiming that the dead have risen I'd treat with scepticism, as my argument explains why.

    "We both know it. We both know that you used the word “Zombie” to create a sort of mental connection that makes the story seem absurd."
    My contention is that the story is absurd already, as my argument explains why. If you're not going to address my argument, then psychologising my motives is going to be inevitably flawed.

    "The bottom line is, you won’t take the topic seriously. Your mind is made up and further you drive joy in actually attacking Christianity."
    I'm taking it seriously enough to engage in conversation about it. And as I've said many times, I'm happy to drop the word zombie. From my perspective, what you're saying is more absurd than how I characterised it.

    "Your argument may not hinge on this, but the fact is, no argument of mien in rebuttal will matter. Once you say “Zombie uprising” you also say “ I am an idiot who will refuse to listen to anyone who doesn’t already agree with me”."
    You're spending a lot of time talking about my underlying motivations (and doing a ham-fisted job of it), but you're still not addressing my argument. I don't think you're an idiot, though I do think that you'd do well to read my comments again and try to see what I've meant, because you spending time trying to dissect my psychology while leaving my arguments untouched is very intellectually dishonest. All you're doing is engaging in character assassination, meanwhile I'm bringing forth arguments. Could you please, pretty pretty please, stop trying to psychologise my argument and address its rational merit?

    "That’s all I hear now from you. That is how you come across with your “Cute” “Zombie uprising” caricature. You admit that you aren’t interested in discussion, only in baseless ridicule. You don’t care about the Truth, only upholding your own Religious views."
    And what religious views are those?

    "I’m also not arguing a Straw Man, I’m using you to illustrate my point about Biases. Why should I think any argument other than “Yup, the story si clearly fictional” will be given any leeway from you base don you’re a Priori Assumptions?"
    What are my a priori assumptions? Go on, you've spent enough time trying to deconstruct the psychology of my argument. Tell me what my a priori assumptions are…

    "Even if we had 10’000 accounts of this event, from separate Authors, you’d still not believe it."
    I wouldn't?

    "Why waste my Time on the actual text further if you will just cintrive another cheap, childish insult and pretend you made a valid argument?"
    How can you say that I haven't made a valid argument when you haven't addressed it? Again, I've made an argument as to why I hold the position I do. It doesn't exclude anything a priori, nor does it say that I wouldn't accept an account if there was sufficient evidence for it. As I said: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". That's proportioning belief to the availability of evidence, not saying that no evidence could suffice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Well I am a psycologist… that said, the big part you missed was, I have no actual reason to bother explainign anythign else but your motives. Once you brought up "Zombie uprising", whether or not you are now willign to drop it, ypu vindicated my argument. My argument was that a real Scholar can take the text as reliable, and its only a predetermined Bias that would stop someone else based on the objections secifically raised. You didn't just show the Bias, which I don't think is nessisarily wrogn in itself, but show the Bias amplified by a personal arrogance that allows you to demean others and their views to feel important.

    Consider that this is not a topic about whther or not Mathew 27 is a factual account, and then consider that my argument was about the inherant bias in ones perspective in how one treats information handed to us from Antiquity and you arrive at the conclusion that, while textually Mathews Gospel is not really different from other Anceint texts, it is treated differently dependant upon yoru perspective.

    Im yoru case, you simply want Christianity to be proven wrong, so make childish caricatures your starting point.

    Thats both the topic and my point.

    I'm really uninterested in discussing anythign else, especially given your propensity for beign Childish and dismissive.

    I did ask also Why I should waste my Time? We both know yoru mind is made up on the matter.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Im yoru case, you simply want Christianity to be proven wrong, so make childish caricatures your starting point."
    Again, zombie uprising is not my starting point. Could you please read my argument?

    "I'm really uninterested in discussing anythign else, especially given your propensity for beign Childish and dismissive."
    Wait, I've given arguments to my position and you've insulted me and desconstructed my psychology, yet I'm the one being childish and dismissive?

    "I did ask also Why I should waste my Time? We both know yoru mind is made up on the matter."
    So my argument is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so instead of giving me that evidence you tell me it's a waste of time?

    And what does it matter if my mind is made up or not? (I'd contend that I'd change my mind if sufficient evidence is presented, but not presenting it and trying to talk about my psychological state doesn't do anything to endear me to your assessment) I'm not the only person reading this. What about onlookers? On one hand, we've got someone making an argument. And on the other, someone who thinks it's a waste of time to make an argument and is engaging in nothing more than character assassination because I used the zombie to describe the dead coming back to life.

    Why is it a waste of time to actually substantiate the case, but not a waste of time to spend several posts talking about my underlying motivations? Especially in that bold condescending way of accusing me of being deliberately deceptive? Zarove, the only person being childish here is you. You're personally insulting me, and having no troubles assessing my psychology based on the use of a single word, yet my argument has gone unanswered. As far as I can tell, there is no good account for saints rising from the grave, and there is good reason to think that such events are a fiction. I've made this argument, you've felt it appropriate to respond on my apparent psychological motivations.

    If you can't respond to an argument because it's a waste of time, then why bother to have any rational argument at all? The rational case needs to be made irrespective of the participants. I could just as easily say that you choose to make up stories about my psychology because you don't have a reasonable counter to my case, and that your attempts to character assassinate me are because you're a coward who clings to their faith as a crutch. But I don't say that, I try to make the case because trying to think rationally on these things is the best we can do.

    I've taken this seriously enough to put forward an argument for my position, so when are you going to take it seriously? The evidence should stand irrespective of my ability to accept it, but if you don't show me the evidence then all I can think is that the evidence doesn't exist. You insulting me, you arguing my psychology, your persistent digs at atheists – they're not things someone who takes the argument seriously would do. It's incredibly intellectually dishonest!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    I seem to have lost a post in reply to much of what you have said. I will try to start again.

    "… You make any discussion impossible. While I am a Christian, I had not stated as such till now, and its not all together obvious from my earlier posts here. My methodology is the Historical one. No Historian, for example, thinks the Paucity of material on Jesus is all that Unusual. In fact, we have a near Universal Consensus that Jesus was a Real Man and the outline of his Life was reflected in the Gospels. Even those ho reject Miracle Claims and think the Gospels contain interpolations, distortions, and exaggerations do not deny the basic outline of an Itinerate Rabbi who travelled about and got crucified. Bart Ehrman even says that any such claims of Jesus not existing at all are rubbish and he’s an Atheist."

    Your methodology was quite an obvious Christian tactic that i have seen several times – in this guise, and in the JP Holding Caesar crossing the Rubicon guise (refuted by Carrier). The problem is,. on the veneer, it seems potentially passable. However, as pointed out, it is a false analogy.

    What do you have for Matt 27? Well, an anonymous non-eyewitness text written at least 50 years later in a different country by an evangeliser with an agenda. It is also not independently attested. Is this good enough evidence for a claim along the same lines as Claim 6 above? It is also non-verifiable in exactly the same way Carrier goes at length to explain of Luke in Not The Impossible Faith. Most importantly, Matt does not indicate who his sources were, or supply any information about his methodology.

    What do we have for Hannibal? Well, we have multiple attestation using primary witnesses (such as Antiochus of Syria and the aforementioned inscription). Access to all the Roman generals would have been easy since they would have still been alive, and at least the sources lived in the right country!!!

    We have coinage and busts which fit. We have a bankruptcy at the time of the Second Punic War. We have war camps in Scipio. We have historical precedent for war elephants. We have acceptance from other historians and the rest of contemporary society. We have enemy attestation (since this was a gross embarrassment to the Romans). Etc Etc. The problem is, if you take Hannibal out of history, you have to rewrite and explain HUGE swathes of history in utterly ad hoc fashion.

    However, if you take Matt 27 out of history, what happens? Nothing, since most historians and many theologians recognise it as fiction, and it has no historical consequence for existing or not.

    They really aren't in the same league. I was merely pointing out the falsity in your analogy.

    Secondly, you have not addresses the ECREE mantra. This is NOT a methodology about primary 'viewing' evidence, so there is no need to build up this straw man. This is a requirement for secondary and tertiary evidence. You need to look at claims 1-6 above.

    If you believe Matt 27 then you are applying different standards of acceptance of evidence than you would to other holy texts.

    Please
    a) deal with the claims 1-6 above and tell me what level of evidence you would accept (we are not talking about primary evidence here, so no straw men please)
    b) accept or deny Matt 27. If you accept it, on what basis do you do so given the standard of evidence? If you do not, on what basis do you not accept it, but accept other biblical passages so to deny the accusation of cherry picking.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, in any discussion good faith has to be assumed. You obviously lack it, and I’ve elaborated on why I am uninterested in further discussion with you owing to that.

    When you can have a rational discussion like a civilised adult, we will talk. Until I am convinced of that, go play with your Zombies.

    Johnny-

    I seem to have lost a post in reply to much of what you have said. I will try to start again.

    The discussion was remarkably simple. I’m actually discussing if a Scholar can hold specific views, whilst someone else is trying to attack Christianity in the guise of arguing a specific point which is for the most part tertiary.

    "… You make any discussion impossible. While I am a Christian, I had not stated as such till now, and its not all together obvious from my earlier posts here. My methodology is the Historical one. No Historian, for example, thinks the Paucity of material on Jesus is all that Unusual. In fact, we have a near Universal Consensus that Jesus was a Real Man and the outline of his Life was reflected in the Gospels. Even those ho reject Miracle Claims and think the Gospels contain interpolations, distortions, and exaggerations do not deny the basic outline of an Itinerate Rabbi who travelled about and got crucified. Bart Ehrman even says that any such claims of Jesus not existing at all are rubbish and he’s an Atheist."

    Your methodology was quite an obvious Christian tactic that i have seen several times – in this guise, and in the JP Holding Caesar crossing the Rubicon guise (refuted by Carrier). The problem is,. on the veneer, it seems potentially passable. However, as pointed out, it is a false analogy.

    I’ve seen Atheists use the same argument.

    By the way, Holding once told me I should stick to Joel Osteen, whom I never have listened to. I am not getting this from holding.

    Carrier is equally dubious though, and why should I really trust Carriers refutation of Holding? What makes carrier seem more Rational? While I can’t really address his rebuttal, not having read it, I have read several other articles by carrier and was never very impressed by them. EG, his “why do we have Brains if we have Souls” argument, if memory serves that is him, is poor.

    What do you have for Matt 27? Well, an anonymous non-eyewitness text written at least 50 years later in a different country by an evangeliser with an agenda.

    Even using the mark Q theory, this is inaccurate.

    1: it is 40, not 50 years later.

    2: it was written likely in Palistine, which s the same country.

    Really I do hate these sorts of dubious comments, and saying you have the same for most Ancient history. This is what we have for the bulk of the Roman Empire, for example. Almost all Literature was written with an Agenda and nearly all of it by those who did not witness the events.

    And this assumes Mark Q Theory is correct. There are rival theories, and the Church originally claimed that Mathew was written only ten years later. What if they were Right? It’d not be the first Time, you know. R what of they were wrong but it was still written only 20 years later? If the Author is Anonymous, how do you know the Author was not an Eye Witness? How do you know what sources said Author used?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    All of that is supposition.


    It is also not independently attested. Is this good enough evidence for a claim along the same lines as Claim 6 above? It is also non-verifiable in exactly the same way Carrier goes at length to explain of Luke in Not The Impossible Faith. Most importantly, Matt does not indicate who his sources were, or supply any information about his methodology.

    Which is still like most Ancient Literature such as the Life of Appolonius, or even Biographies of Julius Caesar.

    If we treat Mathew like we do other Ancient texts, then the basis for rejecting it that you specifically used is really not a good one.

    It’s one thing if you simply admit that you approach this with a Bias base don your own religious beliefs that says Miracles cannot happen, and thus seek an alternative, but fundamentally flawed to say that you seek that alternative because Mathew itself somehow fails the Test of Evidence when its exactly the same Kind of text we see elsewhere. Which is all I am arguing.


    What do we have for Hannibal? Well, we have multiple attestation using primary witnesses (such as Antiochus of Syria and the aforementioned inscription). Access to all the Roman generals would have been easy since they would have still been alive, and at least the sources lived in the right country!!!

    So did Mathew. He lived in Palestine.

    That said, we have multiple attestation to Jesus, as the Dour Gospels alone were four separate works. If you insist only on Mathew 27, then I have to ask, what about specific events in Hannibals Life mentioned by only one author and not any other?

    You cannot compare Hannibals entire Life with one piece of Jesus’, since we have multiple attestation to Jesus, and in some cases only a single reference to Hannibal performing specific deeds.

    If you want to find fault, look a little deeper. Should I name specific examples?

    We have coinage and busts which fit. We have a bankruptcy at the time of the Second Punic War. We have war camps in Scipio. We have historical precedent for war elephants. We have acceptance from other historians and the rest of contemporary society. We have enemy attestation (since this was a gross embarrassment to the Romans). Etc Etc. The problem is, if you take Hannibal out of history, you have to rewrite and explain HUGE swathes of history in utterly ad hoc fashion.

    However, if you take Matt 27 out of history, what happens? Nothing, since most historians and many theologians recognise it as fiction, and it has no historical consequence for existing or not.

    But for Jesus we have four Canonical Gospels and some 30 odd letters, 10 additional romance Gospels, and several other fragmented sources.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    While we have differing sources of Hannibal, we have only Livy who mentioned Hannibal using Vinegar and Fire to overcome a Rockfall in order to arrive at Rome. We really shouldn’t compare Hannibal’s existence as a whole to one isolated event in the Gospel of Mathew, and if you Truly want to refute the point, you should take that also into consideration. I had of course hoped to avoid such fine Details but, alas, we can’t.

    So I will recount it. According to Livy, Hannibal had a good deal fo difficulty getting to Rome and needed to use his Ingenuity to get around several severe obstacles, including a Rockfall others said was impassable. He used Vinegar and Fire to dislodge the obstacle though. This account is only mentioned in Livy who was not an Eye Witness and who did not live in the same region. That is more comparable to Mathew 27.

    See, that’s the problem with your argument, and likely carriers if he addressed only Mathew 27.

    You aren’t comparing Jesus to Hannibal, you are comparing all of Hannibal’s life to one episode in the Life of Jesus in which he did not even directly participate. We even have a parallel event in Hannibal’s Life, we have something mentioned by only one Author.

    Why should we Trust the story of the Rockfall in Hannibal’s Life if only Livy mentions it? How is that different?

    I can also bring up episodes in Julius Caesars life in which he Healed the Sick or communed with the gods. I doubt that you believe those stories but I’d wager you’d not dismiss them on the same evidence standard you do for Mathew 27, and my actual argument is that you don’t use a consistent Evidence standard.

    “They really aren't in the same league. I was merely pointing out the falsity in your analogy.”

    But, Hannibal, as in his entire life, is substantially different than a one off Resurrection of the Saints as well.

    “Secondly, you have not addresses the ECREE mantra. This is NOT a methodology about primary 'viewing' evidence, so there is no need to build up this straw man. This is a requirement for secondary and tertiary evidence. You need to look at claims 1-6 above.”

    Historical Methodology doesn’t really work that way, and several Atheist proffessors I know agree on that note.

    All history is Documentary in Nature, and any Document is considered a Source. Whether its dubious or not is largely interpretive as we can’t go back in Time and ask.

    “If you believe Matt 27 then you are applying different standards of acceptance of evidence than you would to other holy texts.”

    Isn’t this also presumptive?

    You don’t even know how I interpret Mathew 27, much less how I view other Holy Texts. I really do hate it when people assume I find all holy Books absurd but the Bible.

    It’s a rather ridiculous argument as its based on nothing.

    “Please
    a) deal with the claims 1-6 above and tell me what level of evidence you would accept (we are not talking about primary evidence here, so no straw men please)
    b) accept or deny Matt 27. If you accept it, on what basis do you do so given the standard of evidence? If you do not, on what basis do you not accept it, but accept other biblical passages so to deny the accusation of cherry picking.”

    But was I even discussing that? I was discussing the fact that one can be a Scholar and accept it, which is possible if ones Religious Views are not the same as a Materialist who denies Miracles. If one allows for Miracles to occur, then the events description does not Contradict the way we would know the world to work.

    It is only when we approach the world via a Materialist Religious view that the story becomes implausible. However, that deals in Interpretation of History, not History proper, and thereby enters the field of Philosophy. But our Philosophies always influence what we believe from the Texts and how we interpret them.

    This is not obfuscation; it is the Heart of this particular discussion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Kel, in any discussion good faith has to be assumed. You obviously lack it, and I’ve elaborated on why I am uninterested in further discussion with you owing to that."
    You saw fit to insult me with your first comment, before I had even mentioned zombies. Yet I'm the one not arguing in good faith?

    Again, I've made my argument as to my position. You've insulted, misrepresented me, and tried to dissolve my criticism through arguing your interpretation of my psychological motivations. The only person not arguing in good faith is you!

    "When you can have a rational discussion like a civilised adult, we will talk. Until I am convinced of that, go play with your Zombies."
    My first comment: "I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that there are any scholars who actually think that saints rose from the graves."

    Your reply: "Kel, you prove my poitn in an earleir thread abotu Fre Thinkers. If you arn't able to arrive at a conclusion that rests otuside of a specified limit, your thoughts are nto really Free."

    I've said multiple times that I'm happy to drop the use of the word zombies, yet you're the one who is dragging it on. I've made my argument, you've done everything you can to avoid my argument. All I can assume at this stage is you have no argument, and your continual characterising of me not taking it seriously based on the use of a word that I've said I'm happy to drop shows you to be the one not arguing in good faith.

    Zarove, I've made my argument, and the point of outrage on which you've based your entire psychological assessment of my argument on is a point I said I'm happy to drop. How is it me not arguing in good faith? This faux outrage over the use of a word I've said I'm happy to drop is showing yourself as the petulant one. If you can't respond to my argument, then all I can assume is that you don't have a case – and focusing on a word that I said I was happy to drop is your "get out of jail free" card so you don't have to take my point seriously.

    You've felt it fine to insult me before I used the word zombies, you've felt it fine to misrepresent me and dismiss me after I said I was happy to drop the word – by all indications it is you who is not arguing in good faith.

    I've made my argument, you've mischaracterised my argument, dismissed my argument on irrelevant grounds, and tried to dissolve my argument away with a ham-fisted account of the underlying psychological motivations. The only reasonable thing to take away from this is that you don't have a case – otherwise you'd show me up on intellectual grounds. That you don't means that you probably can't…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, I did not insult you from my first comment to you, any more so than using the term “Freethinker” to describe an essentially Atheistic position is itself insulting to those who are not Atheists. My observation was integral to the criticism I made, and thus my argument, and was not a personal attack on you. One thing I tire of is the inability to critisise Modern Atheistic Ideas because you will be told how insulting you are.

    You’re simply shifting the blame now though. Saying that being an Atheist is not really the same thing as being a freethinker, and those who call themselves Freethinkers today because of accepting Humanist ideas are not truly free in thought, is actually a legitimate criticism, not something you should take as an insult.

    So when you say this…

    “Again, I've made my argument as to my position. You've insulted, misrepresented me, and tried to dissolve my criticism through arguing your interpretation of my psychological motivations. The only person not arguing in good faith is you!”

    … you are mistaken.

    I have not insulted you, I have criticised a position you held. I have also not misrepresented you and you haven’t even presented a claim specifically stating I had, neither have I tried to dissolve your criticism through arguing my interpretation of your Psychological motives, but rather psychological motives are the basis of this discussion. We are going to discuss Psychological motives if we are going to discuss the Minds of Scholars and what they accept.

    Also, as to this…

    I've said multiple times that I'm happy to drop the use of the word zombies, yet you're the one who is dragging it on.

    because mere use of the word “Zombies” is not the real issue, is it? Surly you know that it’s the underlying motivation in calling the resurrection of the Saints a Zombie uprising, not the mere terms themselves, that I found objectionable. While the words are needed to convey your contempt for the passage, and to help you create the image of it as cartoonish and thus absurd, the specific insult you chose was unimportant. All that I required was evidence that you aren’t going to be intellectually honest and present a case in good Faith. That I got with your “Zombie uprising”, a terminology you specifically defended using, and which only proves how little sense there is in discussing such matters with you in the First place.

    It didn’t have to specifically be “Zombie uprising” though, it could have been calling Miracles Magic, or making an argument by Talking Snake, or calling God Sky Daddy.

    The point would remain the same.

    I've made my argument, you've done everything you can to avoid my argument. All I can assume at this stage is you have no argument, and your continual characterising of me not taking it seriously based on the use of a word that I've said I'm happy to drop shows you to be the one not arguing in good faith.

    Then you are a fool. I have explained why I won’t engage you, and its not because I don’t have an argument.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    I won’t be goaded into anything either.

    Zarove, I've made my argument, and the point of outrage on which you've based your entire psychological assessment of my argument on is a point I said I'm happy to drop.

    Do you even understand why my “outrage’ was given?

    By the way, I get often people telling me how enraged I am and how I must be red in the face with anger, but I’m actually calm. I’m not so much outraged as bored by the Childishness of your thought processes.


    How is it me not arguing in good faith?

    Because you have demonstrated a propensity to distort the scripture and cast it in the worst possible Light, even if this requires you present an inaccurate caricature. If your aim is only to insist the Bible is foolish and can never be used by any Rational person, and you will refuse to bother to even examine why someone would disagree without calling them irrational or relying on such twisting of the Scripture to depict it as worse than it really is, then there really is no actual reason to think that merely not saying the word “Zombie” any longer has changed that underlying premise of thought and there is no real reason to carry on any sort of discussion with you.

    I’m not focusing on the word “Zombie”, but your thought processes that lead you to use the term in the first place and what that tells me about your approach.

    I’m, sorry you seem incapable of understanding that.

    You've felt it fine to insult me before I used the word zombies, you've felt it fine to misrepresent me and dismiss me after I said I was happy to drop the word – by all indications it is you who is not arguing in good faith.

    I have neither insulted you not have I misrepresented you. In fact, if I am not arguing against your point as you said, then I can’t misrepresent you.


    I've made my argument, you've mischaracterised my argument, dismissed my argument on irrelevant grounds, and tried to dissolve my argument away with a ham-fisted account of the underlying psychological motivations. The only reasonable thing to take away from this is that you don't have a case – otherwise you'd show me up on intellectual grounds. That you don't means that you probably can't…

    Or you could take from it what I’ve said. That is, I don’t believe that you are willing to consider anyone else’s perspective and won’t discuss any other possibilities and simply want to argue against the texts of the Bible.

    I don’t have to facilitate that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    Zarove, in the time that it took you to write that, you could have written a substantive refutation of my point and shown me to be the intellectual fool. Instead you still go on about what the word zombie shows about my psychology motivations, yet if you would read my argument then you'd see why it doesn't matter.

    You don't know me, you don't know how I came to my position, and basing your assessment of me off that one word is the hight of intellectual dishonesty.

    "Because you have demonstrated a propensity to distort the scripture and cast it in the worst possible Light, even if this requires you present an inaccurate caricature."
    From my perspective, zombie is no more or less absurd than reliving dead. The important point to focus on is the claim that the dead came back to life, and again I'M HAPPY TO NOT USE THE WORD ZOMBIE. I don't know how many more times I can say this, you're continuing to say I'm being dishonest even when I'm trying to drop the point of contention.

    "I’m, sorry you seem incapable of understanding that."
    Again, stop this. You cannot accurately represent a complex system like a brain based off a single data point. You don't know me, you don't know how it is I came to form my current beliefs, yet you have no trouble telling me just what underlies my argument.

    And the sad thing in this is that for an intellectual discussion, it's completely irrelevant. What matters is if the argument holds. I understand your argument, I reject your approach on the grounds of it being purely speculative and reliant on a point I was happy to drop.

    Zarove, I've made my argument, and no matter how many ways you say you won't engage my argument, the fact that you're willing to engage my psychology over the use of the word zombie (zombies are no more or less unreasonable than dead saints brought back to life – either way it still goes against what we know about death) shows that you're the one arguing in bad faith.

    Again, I was happy to drop the use of the word zombie, you're not happy to argue on anything else that my psychological motivations. How would you feel if I did the same to you – that you attack my psychology because you're afraid that your beliefs don't stand up to scrutiny, that you have to make an assault on my person rather than the argument because you know full well that the dead coming back to life is an unreasonable thing to be – be it zombies or the dead brought back to life (do you know anything about biology? The difference between life and death is a matter of structure).

    That you're willing to still chastise me over the use of a word that I've said I'd drop only shows that you're arguing in bad faith. I rescinded the use of the word zombie, yet you still persist with it. Honestly, Zarove, if this is how you treat others, then I don't know how you can call yourself a Christian. You are dishonest, and for what? The time that you've spent deconstructing the psychology of my arguments would have been more than ample time to refute me if you could. But you can't!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Then you are a fool. I have explained why I won’t engage you, and its not because I don’t have an argument."
    Yes, you have explained why. And in the time it took you to explain you could have just shown me up and that would have been the end of it. So all I can assume is that you don't have an argument, and that's what I'll be walking away with.

    Saints rising from their graves is absurd nonsense whether you call it zombies or not. And if you believe that it happened on the basis of it being in the Gospel of Matthew, then I can only take from that you are a gullible idiot.

    Goodbye Zarove, I've learnt my lesson for the future. If you're going to argue over made-up nonsense, people who believe in made-up nonsense are going to take the greatest offence if you don't get that made-up nonsense just right. Saints rising from the grave? Hah!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, you really should get to know me. I am very verbose and these sorts of long posts are normal for me.

    That said, I've explained why I don't care to refute your pouints. it wasn't even material to the actual topic of this thread.

    You are also upset that I won't capitulate and you can't force me to play along. Sorry, I told you I won't be goaded.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Sorry, I told you I won't be goaded."
    It's not about goading you, I accept that you won't respond to my argument. My goal has been to keep highlighting how unreasonable you are being in your assessment of me and my position.

    But, honestly, it doesn't matter to me whether you reply to my arguments or not. The fact of the matter is that the claims in Mt.27:51-53 are so extraordinary and against how we know the world to work that only a fool would think of them as history. If you think I'm being unreasonable in saying so, so be it. I think it's unreasonable to believe it, as my argument explains why. By not addressing my argument, my grounds for calling it unreasonable go unrefuted.

    I'm happy for you not to respond and respect your decision not to, I just wish that you'd stop trying to argue my psychology, misrepresenting where I'm coming from, and saying that I'm arguing in bad faith over a point that I've conceded. That's not very Christian of you…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove

    You made a remarkable effort at evading every point you've been called out on. Kel's zombie point is on the money, I don't see why you don't answer it.

    You've also refused to answer my point about the quality of evidence to 'prove' claims 1 to 6 above. I will repeat:

    If you believe Matt 27 then you are applying different standards of acceptance of evidence than you would to other holy texts.

    Please

    a) deal with the claims 1-6 above and tell me what level of evidence you would accept (we are not talking about primary evidence here, so no straw men please)

    b) accept or deny Matt 27. If you accept it, on what basis do you do so given the standard of evidence? If you do not, on what basis do you not accept it, but accept other biblical passages so to deny the accusation of cherry picking.

    Until you do this, you are not dealing with the points. Don't run away from them please.

    We can talk about all the other stuff after, but for now, just deal with what you have been asked to for the third time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    As a proof that aliens exist, providing a live specimen in your garage that we can examine would be extraordinary evidence, far better that any evidence for aliens that has been offered so far.

    So the saying "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" still holds.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny-

    You made a remarkable effort at evading every point you've been called out on. Kel's zombie point is on the money, I don't see why you don't answer it.

    I’m not evading the point. The point of this thread is scholarship, not Mathew 27. All I said was that actual Scholars can hold that the event is true, which can be demonstrated.

    Also, Kel’s Zombie comment is not on the Money, it’s a misrepresentation. Mathew 27 does not describe zombies coming from their graves, it describes living people who were formerly dead. Zombies are not anyone who is restored to life after being dead, and Kel’s argument is obviously based around the mentality that he can belittle something until it becomes ridiculous to believe.

    If you consider that valid, then you are in the same position Kel is, no longer interested in an honest exchange and willing to outright lie about the text to try to support your own position. That is how lawyers argue in court, that is not how Scholarship is done.

    Can you honestly not see why I wouldn’t be that interested in discussing the matter further with someone who says “Zombie uprising” to describe Mathew 27? Do you honestly fail to see why its not accurate to call resurrected Saints Zombies?


    You've also refused to answer my point about the quality of evidence to 'prove' claims 1 to 6 above. I will repeat:

    That’s because I rejected the premise in favour of actual historical method and was only refuting the specific complaints you made. When you admit that you were wrogn aboty the specific allegations, or prove me wrong aout my claim, then we can talk about that.

    If, that is, I really think you don’t believe Kel’s Zombie comment is “on the money’.

    I really don’t mind being called Irrational, provided I am actually Rational enough to know that such a discussion wastes my Time.


    If you believe Matt 27 then you are applying different standards of acceptance of evidence than you would to other holy texts.

    No, I am not. You haven’t really demonstrated this either.

    I’ve already told you that I don’t dismiss other Holy Texts out of hand and now, having to repeat that statement, I feel insulted that you persist in assuming that I see all Holy texts as absurd unless they are in the Bible. That has never been my position.

    For instance, I do not claim that a Muslim who is a Scholar is absurd for believing in the Koran, and do not treat the Koran itself differently than the Bible, or any other ancient text. When the Koran describes events in Muhammad’s own Lifetime or close to it, I accept it as Historical documentation even if it is the Only source. It’s then up to individuals who read the text to determine if they think the event is true or not, or if a mix of Truth and legend.

    But I don’t say “it’s the Koran so its not True”.

    I actually find great value in studying Buddhist literature as well, and even the Veda’s used by Hindu’s.

    So no, I do not apply a different standards to other holy Texts than I do for Mathee w or others in the Biblical cannon.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny-

    You made a remarkable effort at evading every point you've been called out on. Kel's zombie point is on the money, I don't see why you don't answer it.

    I’m not evading the point. The point of this thread is scholarship, not Mathew 27. All I said was that actual Scholars can hold that the event is true, which can be demonstrated.

    Also, Kel’s Zombie comment is not on the Money, it’s a misrepresentation. Mathew 27 does not describe zombies coming from their graves, it describes living people who were formerly dead. Zombies are not anyone who is restored to life after being dead, and Kel’s argument is obviously based around the mentality that he can belittle something until it becomes ridiculous to believe.

    If you consider that valid, then you are in the same position Kel is, no longer interested in an honest exchange and willing to outright lie about the text to try to support your own position. That is how lawyers argue in court, that is not how Scholarship is done.

    Can you honestly not see why I wouldn’t be that interested in discussing the matter further with someone who says “Zombie uprising” to describe Mathew 27? Do you honestly fail to see why its not accurate to call resurrected Saints Zombies?


    You've also refused to answer my point about the quality of evidence to 'prove' claims 1 to 6 above. I will repeat:

    That’s because I rejected the premise in favour of actual historical method and was only refuting the specific complaints you made. When you admit that you were wrogn aboty the specific allegations, or prove me wrong aout my claim, then we can talk about that.

    If, that is, I really think you don’t believe Kel’s Zombie comment is “on the money’.

    I really don’t mind being called Irrational, provided I am actually Rational enough to know that such a discussion wastes my Time.


    If you believe Matt 27 then you are applying different standards of acceptance of evidence than you would to other holy texts.

    No, I am not. You haven’t really demonstrated this either.

    I’ve already told you that I don’t dismiss other Holy Texts out of hand and now, having to repeat that statement, I feel insulted that you persist in assuming that I see all Holy texts as absurd unless they are in the Bible. That has never been my position.

    For instance, I do not claim that a Muslim who is a Scholar is absurd for believing in the Koran, and do not treat the Koran itself differently than the Bible, or any other ancient text. When the Koran describes events in Muhammad’s own Lifetime or close to it, I accept it as Historical documentation even if it is the Only source. It’s then up to individuals who read the text to determine if they think the event is true or not, or if a mix of Truth and legend.

    But I don’t say “it’s the Koran so its not True”.

    I actually find great value in studying Buddhist literature as well, and even the Veda’s used by Hindu’s.

    So no, I do not apply a different standards to other holy Texts than I do for Mathee w or others in the Biblical cannon.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Please don’t make this ridiculous assertion again,


    Please

    a) deal with the claims 1-6 above and tell me what level of evidence you would accept (we are not talking about primary evidence here, so no straw men please)

    We are dealing with whether or not a Text is considered Historical, and my objection was that you aid it cannot be used as reliable because its only a single account. You also claimed it was written after even the most liberal dating said it was, and in another country which is not True.

    Mathew was written in the First Century within living memory of the events by someone who may have witnessed them. The assumption you use of course is that he was not an eye witness, but you cannot verify that.

    Of course Livy did not personally witness Hannibal using Vinegar and fire to dislodge a rockfall either, but you don’t dismiss this.

    When it comes to history, all we have is the Documentary evidence, and the reason you find this episode unbelievable and not credible rests mainly on your own presumptions on how the world works.


    b) accept or deny Matt 27. If you accept it, on what basis do you do so given the standard of evidence? If you do not, on what basis do you not accept it, but accept other biblical passages so to deny the accusation of cherry picking.

    As I said, that is immaterial to what I said earlier. I simply pointed out that it being only one text is not unusual in History and your personal objections to using it as history are false. I’ve already stated that this is not a discussion on whether the text is True, only that we can’t dismiss it based on the grounds you offered.

    I like to keep conversations on their actual point.

    Until you do this, you are not dealing with the points. Don't run away from them please.

    I am dealing with the only point I made, and if you Truly think kel’s Zombie comment is on the money, please explain tome what part of Mathew 27 said those who rose from their Graves were reanimated corpses and not living persons.

    We can talk about all the other stuff after, but for now, just deal with what you have been asked to for the third time.

    Why? No one even addresses my questions or points.

    Can you admit that the initial grounds that you used to reject Mathew were both based on inaccurate information and on a standard that is not truly applied to other texts?

    The bits about it being an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence was added later, and is still disputed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, I realise that Carl Sagan was highly respected, and his phrase “Extraordinary claims require Extraordinary Evidence’ itself has gained enormous amount of clout and is seen itself as an axiom of Great Truth, but we should not try to salvage something just because we are attached to it.

    While we may describe the event of meeting an Alien as Extraordinary, the actual tools of analysis for the Alien would not differ one wit from that we use for a Dog or Cat or other Human. We do not find drawing blood or taking DNA samples particularly extraordinary, nor do we describe them as such even if what we are looking at is itself Extraordinary. The methods are actually routine and thus ordinary.

    If we use ordinary methods we are well familiar with, then the evidence is not Extraordinary by definition.

    If I had an Alien in my garage, and you met the Alien, the meeting itself may be seen as Extraordinary, but not the manner in which you meet the alien. Its all too mundane. If the Alien is then swept into a Laboratory for Scientific testing, the methods will still be the usual ones. There will be no Extraordinary evidence, only ordinary evidence.

    Again, realise how attached people get to the truisms they hold to, but you can’t make Carl Sagans claim right by twisting the meaning of Extraordinary. We’d use normal, ordinary evidence to verify my Alien, not extraordinary ones.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Zombies are not anyone who is restored to life after being dead, and Kel’s argument is obviously based around the mentality that he can belittle something until it becomes ridiculous to believe."
    From my perspective, zombies makes it no more absurd. What's absurd is the claim that dead saints rose up out of their graves and walked around – whether or not that counts as zombies is a matter of semantics, not trying to add absurdity. It's already absurd!

    Zarove, this has gotten beyond childish. Dead saints rose from their graves and walked around Jerusalem – that's what I find absurd. If you think that's perfectly acceptable so long as they're not labelled zombies, then I question your grip on reality. It's absurd no matter what you call it, and that you think zombies somehow makes it worse than it already is shows just how woo-soaked your brain is.

    You really are a petulant child, Zarove. If you think that the dead walking among the living is only made absurd by calling them zombies, then you're a fool.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove

    Yet again you have evaded the point. The point I originally raised was that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You denied this. I set you a challenge. You have done everything possible to evade answering the challenge. You actively denied the mantra and yet refuse to deal with the substantive aspect of it when challenged.

    I'm sorry, but you seem to be all smoke an mirrors.

    As I have said, I will not deal with any other matter until you honestly deal with how you would evaluate claims 1 through 6.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Kel, even if Resurrection was as absurd as Zombies, it is still illogical to say they are the same thing. It is false equivocation. And again it’s not just the use of the word Zombies but the whole mentality. If you are going to simply ridicule anything that doesn’t fit what you already believe, then there is no actual purpose in discussion.

    Johnny, you claim that I apply a different standard to Mathew, or by extension any book of the Bible, than I do other Holy texts. You’ve stated this twice, once even after I told you this wasn’t the case. You said Kel’s Zombie remark was “Right on the Money’ even though it obviously is not. You really think that I’m evading a point though? Not really.

    The point I raised was simple: The reason you find Mathew less plausible than other Historical records is simply because it’s the Bible. Its not because it’s a singular reference to the Resurrection of the Saints that’s not cohoberated, as there are numerous other single episodes that aren’t so challenged. Its not because it was not written by an eye witness either, for in addition to not really knowing if Mathew was an eye witness or not, you Trust Livy who was not an Eye Witness to Hannibal.

    The thing is, the modern “Sceptic” community got started off the Enlightenment and later Freethought movement. Its become its own self referential Religion with its own mythologies and mentalities, and a large part of that is excess Criticism of Christianity above all other Religions. It also operates under a specific Bias that precludes Miracles as possible. It wouldn’t matter if all Four Gospels recounted the event; they are all “The Bible”. It’d also not matter if 10’000 texts recounted the event, as it contradicts how you think the world works so you’d find a reason to dismiss them.

    I see no substantial difference between that and a Christian who accepts the Text point blank simply because it is the Bible and he does accept that Miracles happen.

    That is what I am discussing. I never was discussing whether or not Mathew 27 was itself True. That is a diversion to the original point. I simply do not find that a real Scholar must, because he is a Scholar, reject it.

    I’m not only uninterested in this topic in any attempt to attack the plausibility of the Narrative nor in supporting it, but I still fail to see why I should be expected to amidst people who will simply reject any argument in the texts Favour because its part of their own Base assumptions that it must be wrong. If you argue from a premise that the Text must not be telling the Truth here, then nothing I say will actually convince you anyway.

    Further, if the mentality is such that Childish misrepresentations re seen as Valid points, then this takes it past a string bias, and into the real of irrational refusal and to pursue such would simply lead me down the rabbit hole of never ending argument and recrimination, which leads no where that gains profit for any party.

    If you want to see that as smoke and mirrors, go ahead. However, my point was only that Scholars have taken the text seriously and even believed in it, and it is not a prerequisite to scholarship or Rationality to reject it.

    To discuss anything beyond that is simply irrelevant to the topic and again, unprofitable given the mentality displayed.

    Take that for what you will, but if you won’t discuss anything else, then we are at an Impasse and cannot continue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Oh, one more thing Kel, the story in Mathew 27 doesn’t describe the dead walking among the living. Again, its not just the word “Zombies’, its what the word means to you. You have just proven that “Zombie” is not “Someone who came back from the dead” , but that a Zombie is still dead.

    The story in Mathew 27 actually recounts resurrection. Those who walked around Jerusalem who had been dead were are the Time, no Alive. The story is not about the dead mingling with the living, but about the living mingling with the living. Those Saints were no longer Dead.

    If you persist in saying tis the dead walking amongst the living thn you really have no place in calling anyone a petulant Child.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    "While we may describe the event of meeting an Alien as Extraordinary [...]"

    I'm glad that you admit that meeting an a living alien (and being able to examine it) would be extraordinary evidence.

    Zar wrote: "[...]the actual tools of analysis for the Alien would not differ one wit from that we use for a Dog or Cat or other Human."

    Agreed.

    What you don't seem to realize is, that presenting your dog and allowing me to examine its DNA *is* extraordinary evidence for the claim that you have a dog. It hardly gets any better.

    If you claim that you have a dog, I would normally believe you without any more proof than just your word for it. It's a plausible claim. A photograph of you and your dog would be even better. Presenting your dog and letting me verify that he indeed has dog-DNA is far more evidence than needed for the modest claim that you have a dog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    Zar wrote: "Larkus, I realise that Carl Sagan was highly respected, and his phrase 'Extraordinary claims require Extraordinary Evidence' itself has gained enormous amount of clout and is seen itself as an axiom of Great Truth,[...]"

    And rightly so! It is a comprehensive formulation of the fact that claims with a low a priory probability need better evidence than claims with a high a priory probability to achieve the same degree of believability.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, if I actually had an Alien in my garage, and you came over to my house and met said alien, you would not need DNA tests to confirm that its an Alien. You would believe your eyes and perhaps hands.

    And that’s the point; the extraordinary claim that I have an Alien in my garage still only requires regular evidence, not extraordinary evidence.

    Even with DNA testing, tats no more extraordinary than for a rare or hitherto undiscovered Animal species.

    The point is, its not really extraordinary evidence. It’s mundane evidence.

    That's why Sagans Axiom is mroe popular in the world than in Academia.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "Larkus, if I actually had an Alien in my garage, and you came over to my house and met said alien, you would not need DNA tests to confirm that its an Alien. You would believe your eyes and perhaps hands."

    For goodness sake, Zarove, this is a straw man of the ECREE as ?i have said before!!!! We are not talking about whether we can verify claims with our own eyes, for Pete's sake!! How would that be remotely possible with accounts like Matt 27??!!! You seem not to understand Sagan's point, wilfully, and then give us bluster accusing us of something or another. This is a notion dealing with secondary or tertiary evidence. Stop talking about seeing things with our own eyes. I cannot go back 2000 years!!! So we have to evaluate secondary evidence. What secondary evidence is of good enough quality to evaluate Matt 27 as true? Certainly not a single, uncorroborated anonymous account!

    So so you believe the present day miracle claims of Sathya Sai Baba? As one fellow poster has said: "There are literally hundreds of living eye-witnesses who will attest to miracles performed by Sai Baba which are every bit as outlandish as those attributed to Jesus. They claim to have seen him fly, to have walked on water, etc. They believe he is a living God. And, I should say, he has about 10 million followers, so he's hardly a fringe element in religion. Throughout histroy there have been first hand accounts of so many miracles attributed to so many individuals that an honest and reasonable person should be led to ask what makes Jesus' miracles so special. After all, Sai Baba doesn't even merit 30 minutes on the Discovery channel, whereas half the people in the world are organizing their lives around the reported miracles of Christ in the first-century. Now, if we are willing to dismiss these other miracle stories as mere fancy, then what critical stance can we take in respect to Jesus' miracles? Are they also just fancy? Or is there something we can discern about these eyewitnesses to Jesus' miracles that will assure us that it would be a greater miracle for them to have reported a falsehood than that nature's laws should be abrogated? The author seems to attach unusual validity to a bunch of accounts of miracles when history would tell him that these miracle stories are no different than the countless others that history and contemporaneity can produce. If first-hand testimony is "the highest form of historiography" as another reviewer claims, then maybe he should also tell us why the miracles stories of countless other individuals can be dismissed as fancy without much ado. By the way, as any experienced police officer will tell you, first-hand accounts of events are incredibly inconsistent and unreliable. If we must also give equal credence to all the other reports of miracles throughout history (because they are based on eyewitness accounts) then it will remain for the Christian to explain to us what makes Jesus so special"

    You simply don't get Sagan's claim, but misrepresent it as a straw man.

    As others have said, it's largely about probability. You are claiming what can only be described as the least probable explanation of reported events based on the poorest quality of evidence.

    Please tell me how Matt 27 provides a quality of evidence good enough to make your interpretation of Matt 27 (akin to Claim 6) most probable.

    Again, you have ducked and dived the issue. If my examples of methodology in claims 1 to 6 above are meaningless, then you would be able to refute them. However, all you do is admit your inability to do so by refusing to answer the question. It's a little embarrassing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "You would believe your eyes and perhaps hands.

    And that’s the point; the extraordinary claim that I have an Alien in my garage still only requires regular evidence, not extraordinary evidence."

    I think you also miss the point that, in comparison to a written claim from 2000 years ago,which is anonymous and uncorroborated, a personal viewing is, to you, extraordinary evidence.

    As another internet poster has declared:

    "most "ordinary" claims are already backed by extraordinary evidence that you don’t think about. When we say “extraordinary claims”, what we actually mean are claims that do not already have evidence supporting them, or sometimes claims that have extraordinary evidence against them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence because they usually contradict claims that are backed by extraordinary evidence. The evidence for the extraordinary claim must support the new claim as well as explain why the old claims that are now being abandoned, previously appeared to be correct. The extraordinary evidence must account for the abandoned claim, while also explaining the new one."

    So, as Larkus has said, your viewing, and even touching, are extraordinary evidences in comparison to the biblical evidence. They are leagues above. If you then had independent attesters AND DNA, then the evidence would be awesome.

    But no, you have a very old book making an amazing claim. And you have no other way of proving it. As I said, if you don't believe Baba's miracles, even though he had and still has FAR MORE contemporary adherents and eyewitnesses than Jesus EVER had, then on what basis to you superiorise Jesus' evidence?

    I can only think that you are employing double standards.

    Otherwise, just on the eyewitness claims (which are better evidence than MAtthew's – he was no eyewitness) you SHOULD believe the claims of Baba and his followers.

    But you don't. Hmmm. Suspect.

    I imagine you'll ignore this (because it's difficult to justify) by more obfuscation and evasion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "You would believe your eyes and perhaps hands.

    And that’s the point; the extraordinary claim that I have an Alien in my garage still only requires regular evidence, not extraordinary evidence."

    I think you also miss the point that, in comparison to a written claim from 2000 years ago,which is anonymous and uncorroborated, a personal viewing is, to you, extraordinary evidence.

    As another internet poster has declared:

    "most "ordinary" claims are already backed by extraordinary evidence that you don’t think about. When we say “extraordinary claims”, what we actually mean are claims that do not already have evidence supporting them, or sometimes claims that have extraordinary evidence against them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence because they usually contradict claims that are backed by extraordinary evidence. The evidence for the extraordinary claim must support the new claim as well as explain why the old claims that are now being abandoned, previously appeared to be correct. The extraordinary evidence must account for the abandoned claim, while also explaining the new one."

    So, as Larkus has said, your viewing, and even touching, are extraordinary evidences in comparison to the biblical evidence. They are leagues above. If you then had independent attesters AND DNA, then the evidence would be awesome.

    But no, you have a very old book making an amazing claim. And you have no other way of proving it. As I said, if you don't believe Baba's miracles, even though he had and still has FAR MORE contemporary adherents and eyewitnesses than Jesus EVER had, then on what basis to you superiorise Jesus' evidence?

    I can only think that you are employing double standards.

    Otherwise, just on the eyewitness claims (which are better evidence than MAtthew's – he was no eyewitness) you SHOULD believe the claims of Baba and his followers.

    But you don't. Hmmm. Suspect.

    I imagine you'll ignore this (because it's difficult to justify) by more obfuscation and evasion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    http://www.saibaba.ws/miracles.htm

    for a list of some 300 or so Baba miracles.

    Dang, that evidence is ordinary. I might just convert to a Baba-ist.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny, the problem is not that I don’t get Sagan, its that I do and he was wrong, but some people are not willing to admit this.

    His statement about Extraordinary Claims requiring Extraordinary Evidence was not made regarding text and History, but claims like Alien life or Psychics in our present world. Saying it doesn’t fit with Mathew 27 and that I thus misrepresent it is therefore entirely meaningless. I am not misrepresenting the Axiom, I am saying its not really True. I used an example to show this.

    As for the rest, its up to the individual as I said. Whether you believe Jesus’ Miracles are real or not, or conversely whether or not you believe in Sai Baba, will in the end depend on who you are personally and what you believed beforehand, and what evidence you are shown, and how you interpret that Evidence. I’d not cal someone Irrational for believing in Sai Baba though.

    I also don’t really think that the idea that Jesus’ Miracles weren’t Unique makes much difference. Jesus performed Miracles to confirm he was of God, not to show himself unique. After all, others before him had worked Miracles, such as Moses or Elijah, or At least the Core audience accepted that they had.

    As for probability, that too depends on your starting point. What makes the Miracles of Jesus or Sai Baba improbable? I would put forward the idea that they are Improbable to you because they contradict how you think the world works. But what if you are mistaken? If so, then rather than the Miracle claims being improbable yoru own assessment becomes Improbable.

    It’s the measure of Probability that you use that determines this.

    And as I said, Mathew is not Poor Evidence. It’s the same evidence we use for all other sources in Antiquity. What makes Mathew 27’s account of the Resurrected Saints worse that Livy’s account of Hannibal clearing the rockslide? Livy is the only on who reports this, just like Mathew is alone in his report. Livy is biased and presenting Roman Propaganda, which differs form n Evangelist only in our modern minds due to a distinction between Religion and Politics that didn’t exist in Livy’s own Time or Mathews. It was written long after the original events, longer in fact than Mathews account. If Livy is seen as reliable, even when he alone speaks of an episode, then saying that Mathew is the poorest Quality source is really tenuous.

    Why is Mathew not credible to you? Other than the false assumptions you presented earlier that got its date wrong and that ascribe to it qualities that are not questionable elsewhere in History, you have no actual reason presented.

    We both know that Mathew is seen as poor evidence simply because it’s the Bible and makes a claim you do not like as it contradicts the Paradigm you use in how you understand the world; but we have no viable reason to suggest that paradigm is actually itself accurate. Its simply presumed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Oh my God. More evasion.

    You simply can't admit that claim 6 in my examples requires a greater quality of evidence than claim 1. You won't even admit it. It makes me cringe.

    And Livy is enemy attestation, so straight away it is of better quality for the supposition of Hannibal's existence than Matt 27 is of the resurrected horde. That and the fact that we have no precedent for resurrected hordes, but we do for military leaders.

    Matthew's evidence is poor, not because it is in the bible, but because it is making an incredibly improbable claim based on the fact that it is an anonymous non-eyewitness text written at least 50 years later in a different country by an evangeliser with an agenda. It is also not independently attested. Is this good enough evidence for a claim along the same lines as Claim 6 above?

    Answer me this. If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?

    Please, bloody please, answer one of my direct questions. It's getting pathetic and makes you look ever more disingenuous. Cognitive dissonance at its greatest.

    Go back and read this whole thread. You will find you have been wilfully evasive and unwilling to answer the points.

    An example: "Sagan didn't mean it like that so I won't answer your point".

    i couldn't give a toss if Sagan was talking about cauliflowers. *I* mean it like that and *I* want you to answer the point. Stop putting up smokescreens.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    It seems that I haven't explained my points clearly enough for you:

    You can always offer better (more extraordinary) evidence than what would be necessary to convince people of the truth of some proposition. (for example letting me take a sample of your dog's DNA to confirm that your dog exists).

    This doesn't change the fact, that you need better (more extraordinary) evidence to confirm a claim with a lower prior probability than to confirm a claim with a high prior probability *to achieve the same degree of believability*. You need more *minmum* effort to pass the hurdle of believability. That's what Sagan's saying's about.

    The claim that you have a dog in your garage has a very low hurdle. Of course providing your dog along with a DNA-sample gets you over the hurdle. It would be like pole vaulting 6 meters to cross a one foot fence.

    The claim that you have an alien in your garage has a much higher hurdle. Pole vaulting might get you over it. An ordinary one-foot-something hop would not suffice in this case, but it would in the former case.

    And for the record. No. Simply looking at an alien or maybe touching it would not necessarily convince me. I would want to make sure that it's not some rare or hitherto undiscovered animal. There are all kinds of strange deep sea creatures. Apart from that I would want to exclude, that I am hallucinating, so I would want to be around multiple reliable witnesses, preferably astrobiologists.

    All of that brings us back to JohnnyP's 6 examples:

    Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc.

    What would be *your* minimum standard of evidence for each of the above six claims respectively?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    JohnnyP wrote: "Answer me this. If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?"

    And if yes, please explain why, too.

    I would really like to hear your answer, too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, you will forgive me I hope but, I don’t think me showing you an Alien would lead you to immediate doubt. I base this on actual human reaction, not suppositional behaviour based on what we think we’d do based on how we think we are.

    I am also not the first to question, or outright deny, Sagans Axiom. The thing is, its become such a truism that its defended irrespective of those complaints, sort of like its a Scriptural quote in its own right.

    But it still has to be reinterpreted in the face of such challenges in order to withstand the criticism levied against it.

    Johnny, I just have to ask one question.

    Suppose you believed Miracles were possible. Supposing this, would the event in Mathew 27 be implausible?

    I still say it depends upon your staring assumptions.

    And this still has not proven that Matthew is of lower evidence than other Ancient texts.

    I can respect an Atheist, and can even respect the position that the story in Mathew 27 is not True, but I do not respect efforts to show it irrational to believe Mathew 27 is not True that rests on criticism of Mathew that do not find themselves applied to other sources. All that I want from you is an admission that you do not accept Mathew 27 because you do not think those sorts of events are possible, while admitting that the text itself is a Historical one about like most others in Antiquity, the vast majority of which reported Miracles performed by great men.

    By the way, in case you had not notices, I am not comparing the existence of Hannibal with the Resurrection of the Saints, I am comparing his deeds, and now specifically his clearing of the rockfall, with the resurrection of the Saints.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    Please let the goalposts where they are. I never said that I would *immediately* doubt my experience if I were able to see and touch an alien in your garage. But of course I would have to exclude rivaling hypotheses, depending on the circumstances. See my post above (it's an elaborate hoax, I am hallucinating, etc.).

    Anyway, even you admitted, that meeting an alien (plus requisite tests) would be extraordinary evidence. Meeting your dog (plus the same tests) would be extraordinary (and unneccessary) evidence. But I wrote about all that already in my last post.

    The same goes for "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", I already explained it in my last comment. Read my explanation again. If you disagree with my explanation, or don't understand it, please point out what you disagree with resp. what you don't understand.

    But, of course, an example might be more illuminating:

    "All of that brings us back to JohnnyP's 6 examples:

    Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc."

    By pointing out what minimum quality and quantity of evidence *you* would need to accept each claim respectively, you will (hopefully) understand that claims with a lower a priory probability need better evidence than claims with a higher a priory probability to achieve the respective minimum threshold of believability. My prediction is: You will require increasingly better evidence for each successive claim in JohnnyP's list. Go ahead. Try it. It will make the matter (hopefully) more clear for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    Zar wrote: "Johnny, I just have to ask one question.

    Suppose you believed Miracles were possible. Supposing this, would the event in Mathew 27 be implausible?"

    Why don't you just adress JohnnyP's straightforward question, before posing yet another question of your own. And no, it is not necessary to answer this question, you could just answer JohnnyP's question instead:

    JohnnyP wrote: "Answer me this. If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Laekus, Im not moving goalposts, but do tire of the phrase, as well as Strawman. They are ocerused, and mainly now excuses used themselves to dodge oints.

    The reason I didnt address Johmnny's straightforward question is because he never addressed mine. The reason you see him as the sensible one and me as nort is because of yourown Biases that favour his conclusions.

    Still, the real topic is scholarship. If you demand all Scholars treat miracles as impossible, then you are just as guilty as those who demand Licona stand behidn a pre-existign Evangelical beelif on what Mathew 27 states.

    I also already answered Johnny's point abotu Livy when he mentioend I don't reat mathew liek other Holy Texts.

    I treat all texts from Antiquity the same way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "If you are going to simply ridicule anything that doesn’t fit what you already believe, then there is no actual purpose in discussion."
    Ridicule is an important tool in the fight against absurd propositions, but I did leave the door open for its possibility. This was explained in my argument.

    Why should ridiculous propositions not be ridiculed? My argument explains why I find them ridiculous. By not addressing my argument, you are giving me no reason to change my assessment. From my perspective, I'm sick of hearing grand claims about events and reality on no more basis than to take someone's word for it. You complain about my mentality, but what does it say about yours that you take such a claim seriously? I gave a way to change my mind: show me the evidence. What would change yours?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    " If you demand all Scholars treat miracles as impossible, then you are just as guilty as those who demand Licona stand behidn a pre-existign Evangelical beelif on what Mathew 27 states."
    No-one is demanding scholars treat it as impossible!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean. Anyway, I'm trying to explain to you, why Carl Sagan's aphorism is a good one, because it reflects reality in an elegant way. I'd like you to actually answer the question resp. do the task, that I asked you to answer resp. to do. It will help you (hopefully) to make the question at hand more clear. If you don't wan't to do it for JohnnyP, do it for me.

    I)"Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc."

    Please point out what minimum quality and quantity of evidence *you* would need to accept each claim respectively.

    II)"If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, I will at least thank you for remaining more civil. That said, I don’t find his turn of Phrase a good one and have explained why. In order to make it useful and not self evidently wrong you have to take it past what he meant when he said it. He was discussing Faith Healing, Psychic Powers, and other suchlike, and he did not mean it in the later defined systematic way.

    I also think we try too hard to make our catchphrases valid even if the original object has been disproven, so we can still wear them like we do our familiar clothing.

    And the whole point I am making at this stage demands I not address the question. You see, I’ve told you all repeatedly that it is irrelevant whether or not Mathew 27 is True, or seen as true, or what I believe about it. The point is, people can be both Rational and Scholarly and accept it.

    The topic of the Bog Post was Licona being fired for his own views which were interpreted as a Threat to Evangelical Christianity. Why should I see an Atheistic and modernist Bias as any different? If you demand conformity to your own conclusions, you can’t be any better.

    By the way my answer shouldn’t be too difficult to discern as I’ve given it out in pieces above. But as I said, my views are unimportant.

    Now, Kel, if you aren’t demanding all Scholars to not take this seriously then you can’t ay you can’t be a Scholar and accept Mathew 27. But somehow you did just that earlier.

    Also, Ridicule is not really a valid and useful tool in attacking absurd ideas, and it becomes less useful when you make the claim seem ridiculous by lying about it.

    You specifically said Mathew 27 depicts a Zombie uprising, and this is false. Resurrected Saints are not Zombies. Your ridicule is thus unfounded. If you use Ridicule only to depict something as ridiculous by false representation, how useful is it?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    "Now, Kel, if you aren’t demanding all Scholars to not take this seriously then you can’t ay you can’t be a Scholar and accept Mathew 27. But somehow you did just that earlier."
    But I didn't say that. What I said was: "I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that there are any scholars who actually think that saints rose from the graves."

    As you can see, I'm not demanding anything of scholars, merely pointing out my incredulity of the notion that scholars take it seriously. Maybe there are good reasons to take it seriously, but that case would need to be establish. Again, this is outlined in my argument.

    "Also, Ridicule is not really a valid and useful tool in attacking absurd ideas, and it becomes less useful when you make the claim seem ridiculous by lying about it."
    I didn't lie about anything. I explained my use of the word, and there was no attempt at dishonesty at all. Again, whether or not we call the dead rising from the graves zombies is a matter of semantics – not any attempt to misrepresent the case. And like I've said multiple times, I'm happy to drop the word and just focus on the claim rather than the label. Again, calling them zombies makes it no more or less absurd to me, as my argument explains why.

    "You specifically said Mathew 27 depicts a Zombie uprising, and this is false. Resurrected Saints are not Zombies. Your ridicule is thus unfounded."
    If you read my first post, you would see that the ridicule was on the idea that "saints rose from the graves" – which should have set the context. It's not that there was a zombie uprising I'm ridiculing, it's the idea that people can take that "saints rose from the graves" as being a serious historical question.

    "If you use Ridicule only to depict something as ridiculous by false representation, how useful is it?"
    Again, you're not understanding anything I've written. You haven't accurately represented any of my points or arguments, you've falsely asserted my position and gone off arguing straw men, all the while focusing on a word as if any of my criticism was relevant on whether you call "saints rose from the graves" zombies or something else. That is utterly irrelevant.

    I don't know how you can keep making me out to saying something I'm not, and enthusiastically attacking elaborate straw men caricatures of my position. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please take the time to go back and read what I've written. Because your continual misrepresentations of my writings is making me think that you're deliberately doing so. You could read what I've written and see what my position is, but it seems you want to continue your outrage of "saints rose from the graves" being called a zombie uprising.

    Again, "saints rose from the graves" <- this is the bit I find absurd. Whether to call that a zombie uprising is arguing semantics, not absurdity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    Zar wrote: "Larkus, I will at least thank you for remaining more civil."
    Is that a compliment or an insult? More civil than who or what?

    Zar wrote: "That said, I don’t find his turn of Phrase a good one and have explained why."
    And I didn't find your explanation a good one and have explained why. In fact, I provided a counter to your argument.

    Zar wrote: "In order to make it [Sagan's 'turn of phrase': 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'.] useful and not self evidently wrong [...]"
    Please speak for yourself. It may be self-evident to you (for whatever reason). That doesn't mean that it is self-evident simpliciter.

    Zar wrote: "[...] you have to take it past what he meant when he said it."

    1. You agree that Sagan's "turn of phrase" is a) useful and b) not self-evidently wrong, if taken "past what he meant when he said it".
    2. In this discussion (about text and historicity) Sagan's aphorism is taken "past what he meant when he said it". (Zar wrote: "His statement about Extraordinary Claims requiring Extraordinary Evidence was not made regarding text and History."
    3. Therefore, in this discussion (about text and historicity) Sagan's "turn of phrase" is a) useful and b) not self-evidently wrong.

    Zar wrote: "He was discussing Faith Healing, Psychic Powers, and other suchlike, and he did not mean it in the later defined systematic way."
    How do you know in what way he meant it? Do you have a source for your claim or do you have psychic powers?

    Zar wrote: "I also think we try too hard to make our catchphrases valid even if the original object has been disproven, so we can still wear them like we do our familiar clothing."
    Again, speak for yourself.

    Zar wrote: "And the whole point I am making at this stage demands I not address the question. [...]"

    You know, charity demands you answer questions in a debate, especially if they pertain to a point that you have argued. Not answering them is usually percieved as rude. Or as chickening out. Or as both.

    Zar wrote: "By the way my answer shouldn’t be too difficult to discern as I’ve given it out in pieces above."

    I'm afraid it is too difficult to discern, since you have given it out piecemeal. So I ask you again. Would you please answer my questions:

    I)"Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc."

    Please point out what minimum quality and quantity of evidence *you* would need to accept each claim respectively.

    II)"If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?"

    Zar wrote: "But as I said, my views are unimportant."
    Let's hear them anyway.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08500837155446550672 Lothair Of Lorraine

    Here I am, highly critical of secular institutions burning Christians and here I sit eating crow.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Lothair, it’s a human problem, nor one between Secularists and Christians.

    Secularists want to promote their Religion, though we don’t call it that or look at it that way. As a result, those who contradict the doctrines they have established are systematically weeded out. Well, the same happens with Christian Institutions.

    Its not because Christianity is somehow evil or oppressive, but because Humanity tends to operate socially and the communities that are formed want to regulate that community into a sort of uniformity that backs up its own vi wont he world.

    So, this is nothing unusual for me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "and he did not mean it in the later defined systematic way."

    As I have said, it matters not a jot what Sagan used it for. It matters what we use it for, and that is to demand a methodology of evaluating evidence.

    What you have here is a situation whereby there is an extraordinary claim. Let's call that an improbable claim. Let's then ascribe an arbitrary number to it to show it's improbability. Thus Matt 27, for the sake of argument is 80% improbable (I am being generous). My claim that Livy had a dog is 10% improbable. Ie, if he claimed it, it's fairly probable.

    Now let's look at standards of evidence. Both claims have a written claim, uncorroborated, that is unverifiable, and 2000 years old.

    This standard of evidence is a 10% standard.

    Thus the 10% standard is good enough for the dog claim, since the evidence is adequate for the claim. There is a 10% match.

    But hang on, there is a 70% lack in evidence quality for the much more improbable claim of Matt 27. So, in order for you to find Matt 27 probable, what do you fill the missing 70% with?

    And this is the problem. You fill that, not with other supporting evidence, but with faith. Thus, looking at quality of evidence, Matt 27 falls short in comparison to Livy having a dog. They have the same evidence, but the probability of Saints rising from the dead, parading around Jerusalem, and no one else in the world recording this, is highly improbable.

    But the 70% must get filled somehow for you to find the explanation of Matt 27, being that the claims actually happened as reported, as probable. The missing factor is faith, my friend. Not quality of evidence.

    Here endeth the lesson (which you seem to be wilfully choosing to ignore).

    Oh, and stop constantly evading the issue. Three of us have now asked you to evaluate claims 1-6 and you have come up with dubious excuses time and again. You are coming across pretty disingenuous here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    My last post is directed at you. I'm looking forward to your answers to my questions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, I did not mean it as an insult, and do not know why you think being told you are more civil than other participants would be insulting. If it is I apologise and will promptly call you Childish and Rude.

    Sagan’s claim was first made in his book “Cosmos”, which I have read. His claim was discussing actual things people did now, not Historical texts.

    It has still been highly criticised, and evades my own central point.

    I do not think it is irrational to view the Saints Resurrecting as Legendary and not actually True. If you are an Atheist who presupposes that Miracles cannot happen, then an account of a Miracle is not sufficient to prove such occurred. Such a person should need also evidence that Miracles themselves can occur. However, it is also not Irrational, if you accept the proposition that Miracles occur, to accept the Text as True.

    Both Positions on Mathew 27’s account of the Resurrecting of the Saints relies upon a belief outside of, and independent of, the Text itself. Both are a Bias which guides ones interpretation of the Text.

    Provided we are honest, we can admit that and work from there.

    However, to try to add to this the idea that Mathews text is unreliable by finding further problems with believing the account that simply aren’t’ employed by the Historical Method for any other Text is excess, and simply an attempt at bolstering an already Legitimate position to make it seem like it’s more Rational than it really is, or even that its the only Rational Conclusion.

    That’s what I am complaining about.

    We do not say of any other text that, if it alone reports an incident, and was written some 30 or 40 years later, that it cannot be admissible as Evidence. Since most primary records from Antiquity have been lost, and considering that we have only a sparse documentary trail for anything before the printing Press, its simply not a good argument. Even if we accept that Miraculous claims require more evidence than other such events, the fact remains that the specific objection to Mathew 27’s account is deeply flawed simply because it is based on a false assumption.

    That’s what I’m driving at.

    We should not reject Mathew based on the fact that it alone reports the event and as written 40 years later.

    And that’s playing nice and assuming it was written 40 years later, which itself has not been proven. Some Scholars, including secular ones, have proposed earlier dates for it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny, you really can’t calculate probability outside of the base assumptions you make. You claim that giving the resurrection 20% probability is generous, but why should I accept that? What If I said that there’s an 80% probability that it did happen?

    How do you really refute this?

    The basis of probability rests on your assumptions on how the world works, not on any real evidence. That’s a major problem.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    I was actually asking these questions:

    I)"Claim 1: I have a dog.
    Nothing more than verbal testimony needed.

    Claim 2: I have a dog which is in the bath
    As above, with one eyebrow raised

    Claim 3: I have a dog in the bath wearing a dress
    I would probably need a photo of this to believe you

    Claim 4: I have a dress-wearing dog in the bath with a skunk wearing a SCUBA outfit
    I would need some video evidence at the least

    Claim 5: I have the above in the bath, but the bath water is boiling and the animals are happy
    I would need video and independent attestation that the video was not doctored and this is what appeared to be happening.

    Claim 6: All of the above, but the dog has a fire-breathing dragon on it’s shoulder and the skunk is dancing with a live unicorn
    Well screw me, I’ll need video, plus video of the video, plus independent attestation from multiple recognisably reliable sources, and assessment and evaluation by technological experts and biological experts, plus a psychological evaluation of the claimant etc."

    What minimum quality and quantity of evidence would *you* need to accept each of the above six claims respectively.

    II)"If you read claim 6 in Livy, would you believe it? If not, why not?"

    What's your answer to the above questions?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    Regarding Sagan's "claim"(presumable his famous quote "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."): From your own words follows, that Sagan's "claim" is a) useful and b) not self-evidently wrong in a debate about text and historicity, which is a debate, that we are having in this thread.

    So hopefully, you will no longer complain about using Sagan's "claim" in this discussion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus, sagans claim is often used to simply dismiss something because only egualr evidenxe is presented, not "Extraordinary".

    Its essentially just a way to avoid problems.

    Also, you shoudl knolw by now I'm stickign to the central topic, so I'm not goign to address those questions here. I've told this numerosu Times now.

    its not ebcause I can't argue thm, but because it has nothign to do with my own point.

    Why woudl i want to subsume my point so that it slips into obscurity by addressing a side issue that will int he end satisfy nothing?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Oh dear, Zarove, you really are getting yourself in a muddle here. Webs of evasion. You see, I only claimed to use those figures "for sake of argument". Actually, the point is that you can work out relative probability as in more or less probable than.

    So it seems that from yet another attempted slippery eel answer that you rate Livy having a dog as the same probability as Saints resurrecting and parading around Jerusalem and no one documenting them apart from someone some decades later in a different country.

    Just from statistics in the UK, I can tell you that in the last year something like 7 million people owned a dog. 0 people saw a resurrection. Thus, we simply KNOW through stats that the probability of seeing a resurrection is far less than owning a dog.

    I assume, even if the resurrection did happen, the prior probability was still in favour of the dog in Livy's time. grossly so.

    So you have epically failed. This is exactly the point of dealing with claims 1-6: to show that the probability of these events requires differing standards of evidence.

    It's hilarious that you are debating the admitted "for the sake of argument" 80% when that was an utter red herring. The fact is, it is still much more improbable than Livy owning a dog.

    So you still haven't answered the point.like you haven't answered any damn point anyone has put to you.

    Simply put, and this is not an ad hom since it is, in my opinion, fairly obvious observational fact from this thread, you are being intellectually dishonest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    Zar wrote: "Larkus, sagans claim is often used to simply dismiss something because only egualr evidenxe is presented, not'Extraordinary'."

    And rightly so. Since extraordinary claims *do* need extraordinary evidence.

    If you would answer the questions that I posed to you, you would realize that. Why don't you just give it a try? Come on. It doesn't take that much time.

    My prediction is: You will require increasingly better evidence for each successive claim in the list. Go ahead. Try it. It will make the matter (hopefully) more clear for you.

    What am I going to think about your refusal to answer the questions. First you ignored them, then you didn't want to answer them, because JohnnyP didn't answer a question of yours, then I asked you to answer the question instead for me and you answered on the one hand, that the questions are off-topic and on the other hand, that I could put together your answer from pieces, that you had already posted.

    That seems more and more like a whole lot excuses and leaves the impression with me (and others) that you realize that answering the questions would lead to a direct refutation of your point regarding Sagan's claim.

    As long as you dispute the validity of the principle "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", the questions remain relevant to the debate.

    So, again, please answer the questions, that I posed in my post before my last post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Zarove, let's look at your first comment:

    "ALL Scholars have a problem with following the Evidence where it leads."

    So we then looked at the evidence. We asked, is this evidence of good enough quality to lead us to the conclusion that Matt 27 happened as reported.

    I cannot see how this is off the point. This is EXACTLY the point that you yourself, and then Jeff Lowder continued to talk about – the historicity of Matt 27 based on the evidence. Do we have enough evidence to accept an incredibly improbable event.

    The definition of miracle:

    "1. A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.
    2. A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment."

    Surprising and highly improbable. By definition. You really have no bases to argue against the point we are making.

    You see, the only reason you dodge and swerve the point is because you know full well that we are right. You know full well that it does take different standards of evidence to establish different claims.

    Let's see what Pierre-Simon Laplace (a man who featured quite a bit in my first book) said: "The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness."

    And Marcello Truzzi: "In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded."

    And of course Hume: "A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence"

    So you can nitpick all you like about Sagan, but he was actually using previous usages of the phrase which were, indeed, referring directly to miracles.

    Then you have the audacity to claim you are not answering my questions because I have not answered yours. How many times did we ask you before you even asked your question!? Come on, we're not on a playground.

    You said, "Can you admit that the initial grounds that you used to reject Mathew were both based on inaccurate information and on a standard that is not truly applied to other texts?"

    This is entirely our point. The grounds used to reject Matthew are that we should remain skeptical of highly improbable claims in light of poor quality evidence. The believability of a claim depends on the ration of probability against quality of evidence.

    You can't seem to see that I have actually answered your questions a hundred times over. This point is EXACTLY the answer to your question.

    You have an improbable claim with poor evidence. Therefore, I am skeptical of its veracity. Such that if you claimed Claim 6 above and only gave me a verbal testimony, I would also remain skeptical.

    If you answered our questions, you would understand this.

    As for Hannibal's use of vinegar and fire, I am agnostic. As I should be based on the evidence. We have Livy mentioning it, and Polybius not. Polybius is seen as trustworthy and credible as a historian and he does not mention the method (though he does mention clearing of rocks). If it happened like Livy said, Polybius would probably have mentioned it.

    On the other hand, there is good reason to believe it happened too. Thus I find evidence for and against, and remain agnostic. It is physically possible, at least, and repeatable. Importantly, though, I can take it on the merits of the evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "But the story is not without substance for several reasons. First, armies often carried wine for both drinking consumption and secondary medical or pain-relieving purposes, and wine traveling in the ancient world often easily turned to vinegar. Second, like many acids including low concentration hydrochloric acid used by field geologists everywhere, vinegar (acetic acid) reacts on carbonate rock, which can effervesce or even dissolve under acid applications, and this effect would be accelerated with the application of heat that would itself cause the rock to expand too rapidly and possibly split, especially because this rock was very cold to begin with in early winter when snow had already fallen in the pass. Applying the different coefficients for vinegar and rock of thermal expansion and contraction, if the vinegar penetrated the rock, the rock's own thermal expansion by the heating and compounded by the added expansion of the vinegar converting to steam inside the rock could easily cause the rock to shatter in massive exfoliations, but also expanding greatly because the rock was also being heated from the fire below. This differential of thermal contraction and expansion and reaction to boiling vinegar and heating and burning by fire would also work similarly on silicate rock or low grade metamorphic schists, but most likely to a lesser extent depending on mineral content and initial friabilty. Because the treeline was likely higher in 218 BCE due to warmer climate – what is known as the RWP or Roman Warm Period by paleoclimatologists (Hohlhauser, Magny and Zumbuhl, 2005) – and because ancient armies carried embers for nightly cooking fires, providing both fuel timber from the western (now French) ascent and adequate fire-starting materials would have been fairly easy, as discussed in our 2006 History Channel production. Third, our Stanford Alpine Archaeology teams have identified several such possible contexts on the Clapier descent into Italy in 1996, 2004 and 2006, awaiting scientific confirmation this summer. The avalanche locus and potential ancient carbonization and its dating has also been described elsewhere by this author, including at the Roman Archaeology Conference-Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference in London in March, 2007 (Hunt, 2007b) and prior lectures at Stanford University. Radiocarbon dating is just one possible method to date carbonized stone; others include stone weathering processes delineated by this author elsewhere (Hunt, 1991:253 ff) and include lichenology studies (Hunt, 2007a:15-6). Nonetheless, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that our team has found not just one but several potential carbonized loci considerably far apart. Lichen growth in some of these alpine contexts is enriched by the ash there. The story is typically enhanced by Livy's colorful detail, which may or may not be true, or enhanced by borrowing from other sources. Nonetheless, when one views the Clapier descent and the rock blockages and avalanches that have taken place there over millennia that our team has long documented, such Alpine blockages are not at all unreasonable, however addressed by Hannibal's army engineers wherever this could have happened as described by his ancient sources."

    Stanford University
    copyright © 2007 Patrick Hunt

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    Footnotes for the above post:

    Notes:

    The History Channel series broadcast, "Engineering an Empire: Carthage", was produced at KPITV, New York and filmed in various other locations, in June, 2006 and aired in November, 2006. Patrick Hunt was one of the featured scholars.

    Hanspeter Hohlhauser, Michel Magny and Heinz Zumbuhl. "Glacier and lake-level variations in west-Central Europe over the last 3500 years" The Holocene 15.6 (2005) 789-801.

    Patrick Hunt. Provenance, Weathering and Technology of Selected Archaeological Basalts and Andesites. Ph.D. Dissertation, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, University of London, 1991. Chapter 8, 253-98.

    Patrick Hunt. Alpine Archaeology. New York: Ariel Books, 2007a.

    Patrick Hunt. RAC-TRAC Abstracts, London University College London, March 2007b. Seventh Roman Archaeology Conference and Seventeenth Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, March 29-April 1, 2007, pp. 17-18.

    Serge Lancel. Hannibal. London: Blackwells, 1998 (previously in French and released in Paris, 1995).

    Gaetano de Sanctis. Storia de Romani. Torino, 1917, vols. III.2 & IV.1, 77 ff.

    The author was a graduate student intern at the Radiocarbon Lab of USGS, Menlo Park in the late 1980's under Dr. Stephen Robinson.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Larkus-


    Zar wrote: "Larkus, sagans claim is often used to simply dismiss something because only egualr evidenxe is presented, not'Extraordinary'."

    And rightly so. Since extraordinary claims *do* need extraordinary evidence.

    No, they don’t. All claims require only normal evidence. No claim requires Extraordinary evidence. Besides, what is and is not “Extraordinary’ itself is highly subjective. While today we may say me having an Alien in my Garage is extraordinary, that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely came by.

    Both what is meant by “Extraordinary claim’ and “Extraordinary evidence” is subjective, and dependant upon the observer. You cannot divorce the observer from the base assumptions they make.

    Sagans axiom is still wrong.


    If you would answer the questions that I posed to you, you would realize that. Why don't you just give it a try? Come on. It doesn't take that much time.

    No I wouldn’t. If I were the typical Christian expected here, all that’d happen is more endless arguing and the usual accusations about how stupid it is to believe X. No ones minds would be changed and no one would be convinced. I’ve demonstrated above with Kel that he already decided what eh wants to believe and will now simply use Childish mockery a a substitute for real argument, what makes you think that substantial differences are he’d by anyone else here?

    It not only would resolve nothing but it would serve as a platform for egotistical browbeating and posturing oneself as superior. It would not address the issue with Licona, though, which is the real point of this discussion.


    My prediction is: You will require increasingly better evidence for each successive claim in the list. Go ahead. Try it. It will make the matter (hopefully) more clear for you.

    I really hate being condescended to, and its this attitude of what you think I will “Discover” that really puts me off to the so-called “Sceptics’.

    If you honestly assume I have never subjected anything I believe to any critical analysis and this is some profound new test for me, then you only highlight my other point about the arrogancy or presumption.


    What am I going to think about your refusal to answer the questions. First you ignored them, then you didn't want to answer them, because JohnnyP didn't answer a question of yours, then I asked you to answer the question instead for me and you answered on the one hand, that the questions are off-topic and on the other hand, that I could put together your answer from pieces, that you had already posted.

    Not exactly. I flat told Johnny I wouldn’t answer the questions, so I’m not ignoring them, I’m following through with what I said. I am really only interested in the actual topic. But given the Historical method I’ve outlined you should be able to put together my answer.


    That seems more and more like a whole lot excuses and leaves the impression with me (and others) that you realize that answering the questions would lead to a direct refutation of your point regarding Sagan's claim.

    But that too is only because of your own Biases. Its not really implied in what I’ve said. What I’ve said is that the probability of the event rests on the assumptions you make about the world, and the reliability of the text is not determined merely by how far removed it is from the original situation. It is as most Ancient sources.


    As long as you dispute the validity of the principle "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", the questions remain relevant to the debate.

    Not really, since we aren’t even debating Sagans Axiom.


    So, again, please answer the questions, that I posed in my post before my last post.

    Why?

    Other than for you to think something else of me than you do now? I also see a High probability of that being also negative, and still distracting from my own point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Johnny, I will say this. Improbable events have happened before that we do not dispute. America winning its Revolutionary War was improbable, but it happened. Napoleon becoming Emperor was improbable, but it too happened. It was improbable that Albert Einstein would become famous or make something of himself, but he did.

    Also, the exact nature of Improbable needs to be really defined. You are defining the event as Improbable not because its out of the ordinary, but because Theism itself is seen by you are Improbable. As an Atheist you do not believe the event took place simply because you deny the possibility, and Theism itself has to be proven first. But if someone already accepts God’s existence, the event becomes far more probable.

    Probability itself needs o be defined in the discussion.

    If you approach the text with different assumptions about the world, then naturally you will come to a different conclusion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "No, they don’t. All claims require only normal evidence. No claim requires Extraordinary evidence. Besides, what is and is not “Extraordinary’ itself is highly subjective. While today we may say me having an Alien in my Garage is extraordinary, that wouldn’t be the case if they routinely came by.

    Both what is meant by “Extraordinary claim’ and “Extraordinary evidence” is subjective, and dependant upon the observer. You cannot divorce the observer from the base assumptions they make."

    This just shows you don't understand it. If it happened routinely, then it wouldn't be an extraordinary claim. A claim's probability is derived from the context. It is improbable that I will swim the channel without the use of my legs. However, if I am a fundraiser for an amputee charity and have myself lost my legs, then the act becomes greatly more probable. This is obvious. The context defines the probability. Thus if aliens routinely came by, it wouldn't be an extraordinary claim, and you wouldn't need extraordinary evidence.

    That is schoolboy logic. It's not subjective, per se, it is taking into account a knowledge of the context and the probability.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09902568587446268437 articulett

    ZAROVE,
    What sort of evidence would you require to believe the Mormon gold plates are real? What sort of evidence would you require to believe that Mohummed flew on a horse? What sort of evidence would you require to believe Xenu exists?

    Surely you'd require the type of evidence that an outsider to your faith should require to accept Matthew 27, right?

    Unless someone imagines themselves saved for believing such things (or damned for doubt)then we should be skeptical of all supernatural/far fetched claims, shouldn't we? We have no method for telling a true unfalsifiable claim from a false one.

    It's not like people can make themselves ACTUALLY believe crazy things because they fear bad things will happen if they don't believe. You can force believers to SAY they believe Matthew 27, but that doesn't mean anyone really thinks that dead people walked around. What became of those undead– did they re-die? Ascend as bodily zombies out of of eye sight and into a magical undetectable realm? Or are the still walking around? How is their resurrection less important than Jesus'? What happened to their purported souls? Did the dead people have their souls swiped from heaven so they could be earthly beings again? Wouldn't that piss them off? If souls were just an illusion of human material brains, would you want to know? Or would you just want to keep believing whatever it is you believe?

    Matt 27 makes no sense; it's insane to force people to say they believe this stuff. Of course, 3-in-1 montotheistic gods (who become their own son) make no sense either. So I guess believers can claim all the nonsense is part of the mystery that is beyond human understanding, eh? Unless it's part of somebody else's crazy religion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "But that too is only because of your own Biases. "

    Don't you realise this has little to do with biases! It is about probability as a ratio against quality of evidence. That's it. Simple.

    We can just as easily use a highly improbable naturalistic claim for Claim 6 and it would still be valid. Thus your remonstrations are utterly meaningless.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

    ". Improbable events have happened before that we do not dispute. America winning its Revolutionary War was improbable, but it happened. Napoleon becoming Emperor was improbable, but it too happened. It was improbable that Albert Einstein would become famous or make something of himself, but he did."

    YES YES YES.

    They are all supported by extraordinary quantity and quality of evidence. That is why they are believed!!!!!!! They may have been improbable, but they are extraordinarily well evidenced. Thanks for agreeing with us finally.

    in science (particle physics), this is measured in sigmas. This allows one to be certain of seemingly highly improbable claims.

    You are seriously digging yourself a hole here from which you cannot get out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "You are defining the event as Improbable not because its out of the ordinary, but because Theism itself is seen by you are Improbable. "

    No, I am defining miracles not as a priori impossible, but as highly improbable, which is the orthodox definition as shown above, and agreed by everyone. Otherwise, they'd be happening all the time. When was the last time you saw a horde of resurrected saints? I would imagine you haven't, and nor has anyone alive. Simply on that basis alone, they are statistically very improbable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    I have answered your question. Pray, answer mine.

    Would you believe claim 6 on verbal testimony alone?

    I'll answer for you. No one would. If you met someone down the pub, and they told you Claim 6 was true, you wouldn't believe them. No one would.

    But if they told you they owned a dog, you wouldn't doubt it.

    This is flaming bloody obvious, but you seem too obstinate to agree. Everyone I have ever met agrees this. You can't agree with it because it means that different claims are justified by different qualities of evidence. Your pride would be dented.

    QED.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Zar

    I didn't want to come off as condescending. I just wanted to get across a point:

    For any claim that X exists, providing an example of X for examination *is* extraordinary evidence. Why? Because the evidence hardly gets any better. It doesn't matter whether X is your dog, an alien, or a skunk dancing with a live unicorn.

    While examining a dog is an ordinary event (vets examine dogs every day all around the world), using ordinary methods (X-raying and DNA-testing is used every day all around the world), it is still extraordinary evidence for the claim that this dog exists. Why? Because the evidence hardly gets any better.

    You are right that examining an alien with the same methods for examining a dog would yield the same quality of evidence (conditions being comparable), you are wrong that this evidence would be ordinary. It would be extraordinary evidence for the claim that an alien exists. Why? Because the evidence hardly gets any better.

    For this reason your objection against the principle "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" fails.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    Given that Sagan's maxim is a restatement of what many have argued and substantiated throughout history, in particular David Hume's Of Miracles, it seems really disingenuous to dismiss its application on historical questions purely on the basis of where Sagan applied it. Hume most definitely meant such criteria to history, and gave reasons as to its validity.

    Yet even if Sagan did not mean to apply it to history (that's a dubious claim), it doesn't mean te claim ought not to be applied to history. On what grounds do we think historical claims are exempt from claims we would not accept today? The difference, as far as we can see, isn't that the universe operated under different rules back then, but that people back then had a different way of explaining the world.

    Quite simply, there's good reason to treat extraordinary claims of the past as we would extraordinary claims of today, and there's no good reason not to. The burden of proof is on those claiming the extraordinary, and if that burden is not met then there is very reason to reject such claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    "Not really, since we aren’t even debating Sagans Axiom"

    We are debating it. It is entirely relevant to your first quote:

    "ALL Scholars have a problem with following the Evidence where it leads."

    Because it calls into question the quality of the evidence in relation to the claim of Matt 27. So, actually, this is the right thread, and it is the right place to be having this debate.

    But if you still think this is not the right place, then you name the place, and we'll be there. We'll copy and paste the repeated demands for you to answer the questions we put to you, and I am positive that you will still deny us the answers.

    The axiom undermines your position, which is why you won't answer it. You are being more dishonest to yourself than to us, since we can see through the smokescreens.

    Would you accept the naturalistic but improbable claim that I ran the 100m in world record time last night on my verbal testimony alone? Or that I saw a monkey riding a gorilla which was on the back of a zebra, in an African national park last year, on verbal testimony alone? Or that I built an entire aeroplane out of matchsticks whilst standing on my head, and with one hand tied behind my back whilst singing for the entire leagth of the time, on verbal testimony alone? Or that I climber all 7 tallest peaks of the world without anyone knowing inside of a month with only my left eye open, and my left hand strapped to my leg, on my verbal testimony alone?

    I did all of these things.

    There, you should believe me. I am more contemporary evidence than Matthew, and all of these things are naturalistically possible and require no extra explanatory layers (Ockham's Razor) and I am the primary source.

    This evidence is better than Matt 27, so you should believe me. If I phoned the local news, I BET YOU $10,000 that they would demand a better quality of evidence. And so would you. And so SHOULD you.

    Yet if I phoned them and said "I own a dog", they would say, "I believe you.So what." It's an ordinary claim, supported by and believed by the SAME LEVEL OF EVIDENCE.

    You simply cannot disagree with this. You are on a hiding to nothing.

    Please deal with the substance. This will have an effect on the debate we are having on how Matt 27 should be evaluated. Which then has an effect on whether it is right to slam someone for not believing the literal meaning of a passage that is supported by a poor level of evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    @Johnny P

    I guess, Zar could say something like that:

    If multiple independent camera teams film you running a new 100 meter world record, then that would be still ordinary evidence. Lots of events are filmed by multiple independent camera teams (political events, sports events), so that's ordinary. The methods used are ordinary, too – film exists since more than 100 years.
    If the methods are ordinary, then the evidence is ordinary.

    Of course, that reasoning is fallacious. Zar treats "extraordinary" as referring to the methods of gathering the evidence, instead of as referring to the quality and quantity resp. the level of evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    He could say that. But he'd be wrong!

    Of course, as we know, that rates, on a relative scale of evidence, as pretty extraordinary evidence. Remember, we are going on a scale from "a rumour I heard down the pub" through "something I read in an unverified account from 2000 years ago" to "something written 2000 years ago and corroborated by several other independent and "reliable sources" right through to testable and verifiable multiple independent video and eyewitness accounts, certified by relevant experts" and so on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12460075520187803334 Kel

    Yeah, there's that equivocation going on in Zarove's interpretation of Sagan's maxim. I can't see where Zarove is going with it, the best I can figure is that he's trying to dissolve the criticism as if getting rid of Sagan's maxim allows eyewitness claims to be enough to establish the dead rising from their graves and wandering around Jerusalem.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00422596746771378835 Larkus

    So Zar seems to have abandoned this thread. I guess he realized that he hasn't any good answers, then.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14281228447185474180 Johnny P

    It seems a shame, though it is fairly obvious he didn't have a leg to stand on. It was so common sensically true what we were saying.

    Pretty much everything he said was refuted:

    1) that Sagan's axiom cannot be used here since it was originally used to deal with the paranormal – a non sequitur, and irrelevant since the axiom was originally used in EXACTLY this context.

    2) that Matt 27 is equivalent to the claim that Hannnibal tried to invade Rome with elephants. We showed that the sources for Hannibal were of better quality and attested by other sources and evidence – archaeological, consequential and so forth.

    3) Zar then tried to claim that he actually meant to compare the fire and vinegar story as equivalent, not Hannibal as a whole. This is incorrect as per his own words.

    4) Zar claimed the axiom was not relevant to his argument or there thread. it is directly relevant to the first sentence he said. Check for yourself. It is also relevant to the thread. Mike Licona obviously recognises the quality of the evidence so that he finds the need to reassess the account as a symbolic / poetic tract.

    5) Zar continuously refuses to answer a simple question, making his approach look guilty. Time and again. And again. And again.

    Etc ETc


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