Who Would Die for a Lie? (Another Weak Christian Argument) (2 of 2)

Who Would Die for a Lie? (Another Weak Christian Argument) (2 of 2) January 23, 2015

The “Who would die for a lie?” apologetic lies in tatters at our feet. The claim that almost all of the apostles died as martyrs is too weakly attested in history to support much of anything. Not only can no historical consensus emerge from the blizzard of contradicting claims about how they died, we have scant evidence—even if the apostles were executed or murdered—that these were martyrdoms. (See Part 1 for more.)

And on this, apologists want to support what may be the biggest claim possible: that the universe has a supernatural creator, and he came to earth 2000 years ago.

Consider option 1: disciples didn’t know the lie

Let’s move on to pursue a few other aspects of this argument. A story could be a lie in two ways. First, it could be a false story that was either false from the start or (more likely) grew with time. The adherents wouldn’t know that it was false. Most of us would put the 9/11 hijackers in this category—their views of the afterlife were wrong, but they honestly believed them. Or those who drank the Kool-Aid in Jonestown. Or who burned to death with David Koresh.

We must distinguish between two categories of disciples. Those mentioned in the Bible and in the summary of Hippolytus are potentially legendary. We can say nothing with confidence of their work; we can’t even say for certain if any were historical figures.

The second category includes those disciples who actually did the work to proselytize early Christianity. Someone helped spread the word, so we can be sure that they existed. They would likely have been, like the 9/11 hijackers, true believers who believed a story but didn’t witness the history claimed to back it up.

Consider option 2: disciples did know

Now consider the other way a story could be a lie. Can someone die for something that they know is false? Sure—consider captured soldiers or spies who maintain a false story to their deaths.

Robert Price gives the example of the second-century philosopher Proteus Peregrinus, “a charlatan prophet, [who] immolated himself because he could not resist such a grandstanding opportunity.”

The 19th-century Millerites, while not faced with loss of life, were faced with their own difficult challenge. They were a Christian sect that expected the end of the world on a particular day in 1844. Many made themselves right with God by selling all their possessions. When Jesus didn’t show up as expected, this event became known as the Great Disappointment.

So the thousands of members of this sect who had very clearly backed the wrong horse walked away poorer but wiser, right? Of course not—some couldn’t admit the lie to themselves and doubled down on prophetic religion, and the Seventh-Day Adventist church was one result. Though no one died for a lie, they drastically rearranged their lives for what they had been given ample evidence was a lie.

Joseph Smith and Mormonism

The most significant example of someone who died for a lie might be Joseph Smith. Not surprisingly, I don’t accept the Mormon claim that the angel Moroni showed Smith a set of golden plates that he translated from “reformed Egyptian” into English using a seer stone. Rather, I think he was a treasure hunter and con man who either took advantage of or was caught up in the Second Great Awakening and created a new religion.

Mormonism was the invention of one man, and that man died for it. Of course, it’s possible that Joseph Smith gradually came to believe his own PR. But either way, he died for what he should’ve known was a lie, exactly what Christians deny is possible.

Compare Joseph Smith with the supposedly martyred apostles. Modern apologists would have us believe that the apostles (1) saw the earliest days of the Christian church and so were in a position to know whether the gospel story was correct or not, (2) were killed because of their faith, and (3) never recanted.

Bingo—that’s Joseph Smith. He (1) knew all details of the founding of the Mormon religion, (2) was killed in the middle of religious controversies brought on by his faith, and (3) never recanted.

Does Joseph Smith’s death show that Mormonism is correct? If not, then why is the equivalent argument trotted out to show that Christianity is?

And note how much stronger the Mormon case is. (More here.) The gospels are simply snapshots of the Jesus story at different places and times. They are the result of decades of oral history that evolved within a credulous prescientific culture. They are legends. But there are no decades of oral history in the Mormon case. No one argues that Joseph Smith didn’t exist or that his story grew with the retelling because he documented the story himself.

Were disciples given a chance to recant?

One final problem with the “die for a lie” argument is that it suggests the ridiculous notion that a doomed man could recant his beliefs and be set free. This kind of exchange comes to mind:

Judge: “You have been found guilty of sedition and are sentenced to die by stoning. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Condemned Man: “Okay, okay—I’ll admit it! That whole Jesus thing—it was just made up!”

Judge: “Well, that wasn’t so hard now, was it? You could’ve saved us all a lot of bother by admitting that earlier. Very well—case dismissed.”

From what capital charges are you released by admitting that Jesus isn’t divine? Sedition? Incitement to riot? Treason? Offending a powerful person? General rabble rousing?

“Why would they die for a lie?” fails because it pretends that rejecting Jesus would have gotten the apostles released from capital charges, because we have negligible evidence that they were martyred, because there’s little reason to suppose that the stories of the original apostles are more than legend, and because the earliest actual missionaries were probably just like today’s—earnest believers who were converted by a community rather than by being eyewitnesses to history.

Inquiry is fatal to certainty
— Will Durant, historian

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/10/12.)

Image credit: André Koehne, Wikimedia, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • MNb

    If I recall correctly Roman investigation more went like this.

    Prosecutor: “Show me you’re willing to sacrifice to Jupiter.”
    Suspect: “I refuse to do so.”
    Prosecutor: “Then you’re guilty of atheism. You can prove me wrong by sacrificing to Jupiter.”
    Suspect: “I refuse to do so.”
    Prosecutor: “Then you’re condemned to the arena with the wild beasts. You can prove me wrong by sacrificing to Jupiter.”
    Suspect: “I refuse to do so.”
    Prosecutor: “Arrest this person. I will repeat this interrogation tomorrow and the days after; he is scheduled for the arena next week. Let’s see how stubborn he/she is.”

    “it pretends that rejecting Jesus would have gotten the apostles released from capital charges”
    The Roman demand was not rejecting Jesus, but accepting Jupiter (or some Roman emperor who had passed away).

    • Rare Bat

      Yeah, that was about it. Later on it was the emperor they were asked to sacrifice to. Nowadays we have kind of the same thing, what with making witnesses swear their oaths on a Bible (ironic in and of itself).

    • Sophia Sadek

      During the process of “Christianizing” Rome, aristocratic families abandoned the priesthood of Sol Invictus, joined the Christian priesthood, and established their own loyalty oath. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      Romans did not become Christians: Christianity was Romanized.

    • James

      Hum, your analogy sounds curiously like the usual “unbelievers send themselves to Hell” apologetic. I guess that makes us martyrs to the truth for refusing to believe what seems to us impossible to believe… It also simply isn’t true that believers could save themselves by recanting – in most cases, non-citizens didn’t even merit a trial.

      • TheNuszAbides

        either you have an uncommonly good nose, or … there was nothing even remotely resembling an analogy in MNb’s comment.

        • James

          I’m sure whatever it is you meant to say sounded very coherent in your head

        • TheNuszAbides

          … or you could ask nicely and i could use smaller words for you.
          but what the hell, here you go:

          what analogy?

        • Kodie

          The Romans?

        • TheNuszAbides

          but… if persecution in general and apostles in particular are referenced in the article, then aren’t Romans already in play by default/extension? it looks more like a correction than a comparison, more like a point of clarification than an analogy , to me anyway. which is why i thought my nose might just not be very sharp. still not seeing/smelling it, though. seems like MNb is referring to general procedure in a fairly specific time and place to make a point about that specific time and place, not an illustration from which to extrapolate or generalize.

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t seem that important.

        • TheNuszAbides

          wouldn’t be the first time i overthought pedantry… won’t likely be the last!

      • Neko

        Just no. Though this obviously doesn’t have to do with apostles.

        Pliny the Younger was governor of Pontus and Bithynia from 111-113 CE. We have a whole set of exchanges of his letters with the emperor Trajan on a variety of administrative political matters. These two letters are the most famous, in which Pliny the Younger encounters Christianity for the first time.

        http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/pliny.html

  • Sophia Sadek

    Galileo knew that the penalty for honesty before the Vatican Inquisition was death. That is why he lied when he claimed that he did not believe that the Earth moves. Had he told the truth, he would have been burned at the stake like Giordano Bruno. It pays to lie to the Inquisition.

    • MNb

      Actually he didn’t know that, though he was threatened with torture. Giordano Bruno was burned for heresy, not for heliocentrism.
      Not that it’s relevant – there is a time gap of about 10 centuries between the Inquisition and the Roman persecutions.

      • RichardSRussell

        Heliocentrism was the heresy.

        • MNb

          1. Nope. Bruno was not burned for heliocentrism.

          http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/brunolinks.html
          http://www.irtiqa-blog.com/2008/09/why-was-giordano-bruno-burnt.html

          2. Heliocentrism was acceptable for the RCC until Galilei declared it a dogma. For instance

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Albrecht_Widmannstetter

          was totally not burned.

          Atheist propganda isn’t any better than religious versions. Or you’re just ignorant.

        • Sophia Sadek

          The Copernican paradigm was acceptable in an academic context. It was not acceptable for the secret to be allowed outside of the ivory tower. The notion that Galileo declared anything dogma is absurd. There is nothing in his writing that comes across as dogma.

        • RichardSRussell

          I beg your pardon? Did you even read the very links you provided? Heliocentrism was part and parcel of the much grander (non-Earth-centered) cosmology that Bruno advocated, and that’s what was anathema to the Catholic Church, as revealed in the specifics of the heresy charges they brot against him. They threw in some collateral shit as well, but clearly it was his views on the nature of the universe that they were really after.

        • Dys

          Heliocentrism was initially a curiosity to the RCC when Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter delivered his lectures on Copernicus’s theory of heliocentrism in 1533. However, 14 popes later in 1616, the Roman Inquisition determined that heliocentrism was essentially only allowable as a hypothetical mathematical idea, but that suggesting it might be true in an actual physical sense was heretical. And religious attitudes towards heliocentrism were not favourable because it clearly contradicts literal readings of the bible which were in vogue at the time.

          Bruno certainly wasn’t persecuted for heliocentrism per se, but it was a component of the rest of his heretical views on Catholic dogma.

          Galileo got in trouble for daring to state that the evidence favoured his model and was most likely true, and that scripture could be interpreted in such a way that his findings didn’t contradict it. And of course he didn’t help himself by pissing off the pope at the time, Urban VIII, by authoring a book where the churches preferred position was advocated by a character named Simplicio.

          So it’s not incorrect at all to state that heliocentrism was heretical – the Roman Inquisition declared it was “foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it
          explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          “14 popes later”
          i love using the pope as a unit of measurement.
          does an anti-pope count as -1? what about double- and triple-pope times?

      • Sophia Sadek

        I did not intend to imply that Bruno’s only heresy was advocating the Copernican paradigm. He made positive statements about the divine. That is not something that Galileo did.

  • Greg G.

    There’s also the possibility that the disciples died for beliefs that were not what the Bible ascribes to them. Maybe they were Gnostic. Paul tells us he and Peter had disagreements and Paul didn’t respect James and John much either but Acts has them as buddies.

    • Kodie

      Did they keep in touch? Could one suppose that the real legend was the first martyrdom, and the rest earnestly martyred themselves because they’d heard that the first guy did? Maybe they were all on the fence until they got word, and then they were positively convinced.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Martyrs’ Club

  • Trent Horn

    “From what capital charges are you released by admitting that Jesus isn’t divine”

    Emperor Trajan’s letter to Pliny the Younger shows it was customary to release Christians who recanted. He writes, “These people are not to be
    sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be punished; but
    with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it
    plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so
    formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance.”

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      “… and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods…”

      Note how “Christian” is qualified by not worshipping their gods. If any other group or religion was also known for not worshiping their gods, the text would be same save replacement of “Christian”. In this case “Christian” is like a mcguffin (the thing itself doesn’t matter at all).

    • Pardon from what? What is the crime, and what is the punishment?

      • Guest

        The crime is being a part of a dangerous superstition and not worshipping the gods of Rome. The punishment for that is death. Pliny makes this clear in his initial letter to Trajan.

        He writes, “I
        asked them whether they were Christians or not. If they confessed that they
        were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings
        with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to
        be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort
        whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished.”

        Bob, this seems to be clear evidence that in ancient Rome if someone was arrested for being a Christian they were given multiple opportunities to recant and if they did not they would be executed. Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Royce_Benjamin

          The problem is we don’t know if this applied to any of the alleged disciples. Even assuming they all existed and really were executed by the state despite no solid evidence they were, we have no way of knowing what crimes they were actually charged with. Therefore no one can say with any certainty that anyone who might have been in a position to know the truth was actually martyred. Just because several decades later once Christians had begun making a nuisance of themselves they were given the opportunity to recant and avoid the death penalty doesn’t mean anything as far as the disciples were concerned. The best a Christian apologist could say, assuming they are honest, is that because some Christians later on were given the choice of recanting or dying for their faith, it is conceivable that the disciples may have faced similar circumstances, but we can’t be sure because we have no reliable records of how or why they died. Therefore Jesus . . . maybe.

        • No. I’ve heard questions about whether our copy of Pliny is a Christian interpolation, but let’s set that aside. At best this says that Trajan (who ruled 98 – 117CE) at some time during his rule killed Christians. And even that’s unclear, since this appears to be Pliny’s interpretation of the rules.

          Since all the early disciples were dead by Trajan’s day, this doesn’t help us with the original question.

        • Neko

          You wrote:

          I’ve heard questions about whether our copy of Pliny is a Christian interpolation.

          Interpolation always comes up. I’m curious whether interpolation in this case has strong support from historians of Roman antiquity?

      • Trent Horn

        The crime is being a part of a dangerous superstition and not worshipping the gods of Rome. The punishment for that is death. Pliny makes this clear in his initial letter to Trajan.

        He writes, “I asked them whether they were Christians or not. If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished.”

        Bob, this seems to be clear evidence that in ancient Rome if someone was arrested for being a Christian they were given multiple opportunities to recant and if they did not they would be executed.

        • Greg G.

          But could they recant in private after they were sentenced? They may have been reluctant to be less obstinate while their followers or brothers were watching during the trial.

        • Barry Visser

          Romans were masters of killing people with as much pain as possible, think eaten alive by lions, crucifixion, disembowelment. So you’re saying that in order not to be embarrassed in front of their friends, they would choose one of those instead? Really!?

        • Greg G.

          Not if they could recant in private or expected to. But that is for the sake of the argument. Those who did refuse to recant believed a lie. The accounts of the martyrdom of the apostles are lies. We can tell the second century Christians were telling lies about the martyrdom of apostles because there are multiple accounts. A person can’t be martyred more than once.

        • Kodie

          How is it different than any other honor code in the history of male egos?

        • Barry Visser

          It wasn’t just men who were voluntarily being put to death for being a Christian just after Christs crucifiction. Many Christians, male and female, were arrested by Nero and thrown to the wild beasts in
          the circus, or they were crucified. Many of them were also burned to
          death at night, serving as ‘lighting’ in Nero’s gardens. Being put to death in such a gruesome way just to satisfy their egos is reaching, to say the least.

        • Kodie

          Seppuku isn’t gruesome?

        • Barry Visser

          There’s a world of difference between a warrior dying for a cause or honour, and a fisherman and his wife being given the choice to either go home to make supper and put the kids to bed, or to be used as a human torch in some sadists garden. And then they choose torch???

          What atheists seem to miss is that the most Roman leaders got really fed up with executing all their tax payers, it was fun for them in the beginning but then they tired of it rather quickly and starting the whole “we’ll give you 3 chances and all you have to say is screw Christianity and you’re free to go home.” simple as that! No torture, no further imprisonment, nudda, zilch, zippo, go home and be free.

          These are people that have the same IQ as you, living in a metropolitan empire, not some cave dwelling, superstitious neanderthals that are amazed by the magic of the wheel. They would have needed some serious proof that Jesus was Lord and not just some crackpot teacher. Put yourself in their shoes, would you volunteer to be eaten alive by a starving lion, just because, you heard a rumor from a friend of a friend that when the lion eventually poops you out you’ll be a magical flying leprechaun?

        • What crimes does “OK, Jesus wasn’t an actual god” get you released from? And show us that this bizarre “Get out of a capital crime free” card could be played in the years just after the crucifixion.

          The 9/11 hijackers killed people and themselves for the belief in an afterlife. It’s not hard then to believe that someone who believed they’d have a great afterlife after getting eaten by a lion might go for it.

        • Susan

          These are people that have the same IQ as you, living in a metropolitan empire, not some cave dwelling, superstitious neanderthals that are amazed by the magic of the wheel.

          If they were convinced that they would burn for eternity if they caved to earthly fears, that would be enough. Nothing like eternal fire to ensure loyalty.

          Also, the Romans persecuted the bejeezus out of everyone. What was so special about Jesus cultists?

        • Kodie

          Your attempts to make it seem different in some way are failing, “Barry Visser”. They would need no more proof than you do.

        • TheNuszAbides

          noted that whether or not an “honorable” ritual suicide is performed by a ~warrior~ specifically has extra significance. what a romantic!

        • Greg G.

          What atheists seem to miss is that the most Roman leaders got really fed up with executing all their tax payers, it was fun for them in the beginning but then they tired of it rather quickly and starting the whole “we’ll give you 3 chances and all you have to say is screw Christianity and you’re free to go home.” simple as that! No torture, no further imprisonment, nudda, zilch, zippo, go home and be free.

          That’s sort of close. The strategy was to be a hard ass when first reaching office and eliminating your political enemies while you are at it, then mellow out so you seem like a wise leader.

        • Neko

          I’m sympathetic with many of your assertions, but “they would have needed some serious proof that Jesus was Lord and not just some crackpot teacher”? Like what kind of proof?

    • Neko

      Ah! You beat me to it.

  • Jesus appears to have told his twelve buddies that they would rule the Earth with him when he returned in his glory (Matthew 19:28 etc). It’s always seemed to me they’d be prepared to die, if necessary, for a promise like that. None of the other later invention (the resurrection, Paul’s salvation formula) is really necessary to explain their enthusiasm for shouting about JC coming back when they thought they’d be top-dog once he did.

    • Kodie

      If they believe Jesus resurrected or even would come back to life sometime later after he died, did they believe they would too? And let’s put it another easy way – if Jesus believed he was god in person, wouldn’t the people who followed him and hung on his every word just be gullible enough to believe that? Jesus doesn’t seem to be that different than any other preacher, politician, or news commentator you see, on tv or otherwise, who has enough conviction in their beliefs to persuade an audience, using many logical fallacies, lies, and misdirections, to give up their senses and argue for bullshit. Maybe they wouldn’t be willing to die for it, maybe they would, but they’d be willing to pour the money out of their wallets for it, and wasting their lives getting angry about the wrong things. In order for any religion to sell, you have to have the right customers, and Jesus had the right customers.

      • Skeptical Calvanist

        They arguably believed Jesus would return before they died, though they revised their understanding as it became clear that this wasn’t going to happen.

        • James

          Yep. Indicating that their original understanding was wrong. i.e. pretty good evidence that Jesus wasn’t who or what they assumed he was.

    • That would be a pretty cool reward. Maybe like Mormon men getting their own planet.

    • James

      As Bart Ehrman pointed out, one of those twelve buddies was his eventual betrayer, Judas Iscariot. It seems Jesus was not so omniscient as his followers presume. It’s also why Mattias was later elevated to the ranks of the disciples to replace him: when confronted by bad PR, religion always resorts to spin doctoring.

  • Charles Carz

    Two things quickly: Jonestown and Branch Davidian died for their belief. So it meant it must be true?

    • Greg G.

      Three things: add Heaven’s Gate (the comet chasers).

      • Pofarmer

        Captain Cassidy talks about a cult just down the road from the Branch Davidians that also were ready to fight. What about the Cathars? Jonestown?

        • AFBooks

          What about Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Caligula? All atheists

        • Pofarmer

          You seem to be a broken record that can’t distinguish what a comment is even about.

        • AFBooks

          Profarmer, irrationalism is your strong suit, and your comment fails to address the atheist killers.

        • The connection you’re struggling for is not atheism but mustaches.

          Men with mustaches killed how many people in the 20th century? When will society wake up to this obvious correlation?!

        • AFBooks

          So says 2nd grade. irrational thought, Mr. Bob.

        • Greg G.

          You must not have passed second grade, then.

        • AFBooks

          Rabbit trail. The article, the article.

        • Greg G.

          It’s your rabbit trail. You have only demonstrated that you do not understand the article.

        • Snap! What can I say in response? I got nuthin’. You’re just too dang smart for me.

        • Greg G.

          So says 2nd grade. irrational thought, Mr. Bob.

          It seems that FloydAT is trying to achieve a new personal record for getting hit on the head with the ban hammer.

        • Maybe we should leave Floyd around for MNb to make chum of.

        • James

          Hitler was a Christian, or later in life perhaps a neo-Pagan.
          Mao, like all the Chinese emperors before him, was an atheist. He also was a communist; it was his communism that motivated his policies, not his atheism.
          Caligula was a pagan. His biography was also written by his enemies, so his supposedly more egregious acts should be taken with a grain of salt.
          Stalin was a communist; again, his policies were motivated by his communism, not his atheism. He also was trained as an Eastern Orthodox priest.
          You’ve given us two ad hominems and four faulty analogies.

        • TheNuszAbides

          as if anybody has a clue what Caligula actually believed or didn’t believe.

        • Neko

          Caligula thought he was himself a god. Hitler officially had nothing to do with atheism. Stalin and Mao were primarily motivated by political ideology (though they suppressed religion).

          Give it up, man. Anyway, isn’t it kind of gruesome to be number crunching this way? Can’t we just agree that totalitarian dictatorships are responsible for spilling oceans of blood and leave it at that?

    • AFBooks

      Faulty syllogism

      • $46617944

        It is not faulty. Anyways, there are also many other actual real religions besides Christianity that people were willing to die for. Does that make it true?

      • RichardSRussell

        Perfectly accurate analogy. And appropriate, too.

      • Greg G.

        It is modeled on the Christian argument that the apostles wouldn’t die for a lie. The fault is not with Charles Carz. But it is a fact that people died in Jonestown and in Waco as a result of their beliefs. The main difference is that the accounts of the martyrdoms of the apostles appear to be lies made up during the second century. Multiple accounts of martyrdom for some of the apostles tells us there are fictional accounts.

  • RichardSRussell

    For my money, the classic example of a guy who died for his beliefs was Adolf Hitler.

    In any event, martyrdom may be evidence of sincerity, but — given the emotional trauma of the occasion — it’s the last place you’d look for accuracy.

    • AFBooks

      No, Hitler died for power and also had a deadly sexually transmitted disease. Hew as crazy not believing.

      • RichardSRussell

        I think Hitler was perfectly sincere in his belief that Jews, gypsies, Poles, Russians, etc. were inferior to his beloved Aryan race, if not outright vermin. And he probably carried that heartfelt opinion to his final, doubly bitter cyanide banquet in his bunker. The fact that he held to it so firmly in the face of lots of people who quite vehemently disagreed with him is what led to his ultimate downfall. No beginning racist brain parasite, no Nazi Party, no Nuremberg rallies, no WW2, no ignominious defeat, no suicidal end.

        You bet it was his beliefs that he died for.

        • MichaelNewsham

          As did Mr and Mrs Goebbels, who not only committed suicide to avoid living in a world without Hitler, but also poisoned their six children as well.

        • James

          Excellent point. And the majority of Hitler’s disciples joined him in death. No major Nazi ever recanted either.

  • Royce_Benjamin

    I always think it’s fun when a Christian apologist makes arguments like these, to grant them far more of their facts than is reasonable and see if their conclusion is still as inevitable as they claim. So in this case I’d grant for the sake of argument that the disciples were real, they were in a position to know with certainty exactly what happened, they preached exactly what modern Christians claim, they faced a choice between recanting and execution, and they chose execution. Even granting all that, it is still possible they died for a lie. One possible explanation is that they never expected things to go as far as they did. They may have started a cult so they could be financially supported by their followers and not have to work anymore. They were living far easier lives than the average fisherman with far more prestige to go with it. Even if their cult were small and filled with the lowest classes of society, it was still more than they had before. Just look at pastors of small ultra-right-wing churches today. 99% of the country, including Christians, might think they are crazy, but the fawning adoration of their small flock more than makes up for it. But as time went on for the disciples things may have gotten out of hand. The lie went further than they ever imagined, and they started to attract negative attention from authorities. But at this point they were pot committed. They were old and had no desire, or even the ability, to go back to a life of manual labor. Better to die a hero in the eyes of their devoted followers than go back to being a nobody for the few years they had left. It’s not like society at large was going to accept them with open arms anyway.
    This may not be all that probable. I certainly don’t think it is. But the point is that even if we grant apologists all their alleged facts, scenarios like this are still far more likely than the resurrection.

    • Kodie

      I think they had no more information than the modern Christian does. They were closer, that’s all. Everyone is following Fool Zero over the railing of the bridge.

      • RichardSRussell

        “Fool Zero”. What a clever turn of phrase. I shall steal it. 8^D

    • Wisdom from pirates! The Christian view is so crazy that even imagining a handful of rabbinical students writing up the gospels as an early version of The Onion is far more likely.

    • Greg G.

      They may have started a cult so they could be financially supported by their followers and not have to work anymore.

      Or they may have started a cult for fun and people started handing them so much money to tell it again, they couldn’t afford to stop.

      • primenumbers

        Or because they liked telling stories, and as we know people can be rather gullible and believe such stories, and then those that told the stories told more and came up with a number of rationalizations to save face. There’s lots of ways a religion can get started without even looking at the LRH or Joseph Smith type greedy routes. And all of them more plausible and probable than the religion actually being true….

    • Pofarmer

      Well, one other thing. I don’t think people at that time valued life in the same way we do. The Romans executed people for just about any crime. Human sacrifice certainly wasn’t unheard of, even sacrificing children. The Jews had laws to stone people to dearh for any number of crimes. Candida Moss writes about one roman Governor,i think it was Tacitus, who had so many people ahow up to he martyred for some percieved slight, that he told them all to just go home. Dying meant you were going to your God.

      • AFBooks

        Atheists like Stalin murdered his own people. The atheist Hitler murdered tens of millions. Atheist Mao murdered even more. Your argument comes back to bite you.

        • $46617944

          They did these things in “the name of no God or no Religion” or they did these things while simply being atheist?

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe Bob has done a post on Hitler, but, Hitler didn’t consider himself an Atheist. Hitler was acting in accord with Luther, and the support of the Catholic bloc is what brought him to power. Stalin and Mao were acting in the name of Communism. So, there you go.

        • Or not. Abigail is correct: you can’t point to one person killed in the name of atheism. Stalin happened to be an atheist. Hitler wasn’t one … but he was a vegetarian. Can we then blame the Holocaust on vegetarianism?

        • smrnda

          On killing, we also have to take into account the technology. Keep in mind that WWI was the first war when combat fatalities were greater than ones due to hunger or disease.

        • James

          Whiping out the Hitler red herring are you? The sure sign of an apologist who is not making his case logically… Hitler was a Catholic and he despised atheism. You’d know that if you bothered to read anything Hitler wrote or said in public.

        • Neko

          HItler was a non-practicing Catholic, viewed the Church as a competing authority and sought to neutralize its power. Pope Pius XII supported HItler initially, but German Catholics, particularly clergy, were nonetheless subject to persecution after the Nazi takeover. Eventually Pius XII turned against Hitler. Of course his papacy is highly controversial–it’s a sordid and complicated story.

          Hitler’s public denouncements of atheism were propagandistic, since the Nazis wanted to forge a nationalist religion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Nationalist Socialist Party proffered “Progressive Christianity”.

          The National Socialist Party program, officially published in February 1920, included a section on Christianity. Point 24 of the 25-point program stated:

          We demand freedom for all religious denominations in the State so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the customs and morality of the German Volk. The Party as such stands for Positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular denomination. It fights the spirit of Jewish materialism within and outside of our ranks and is convinced our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: “Common welfare comes before individual welfare.”

          There is no reason to deny the Nazi version of Christianity a place among the 38,000+ other flavour’s.

          Hector Avalos writes a great essay on this in ” The Christian Delusion ” entitled “Atheism was not the cause of the holocaust”, or people can read this article by The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Schwartz.

          http://www.wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/articles/NSChristianity.html

        • Neko

          I certainly wouldn’t and didn’t deny Nazi Christianity, and I obviously don’t characterize Nazi beliefs as “atheist.” I merely pointed out Hitler’s ambivalence toward Catholicism politically.

          But thanks for the link.

    • RichardSRussell

      Yet another reason to be grateful for Social Security.

    • Neko

      The resurrection didn’t have to happen, just belief in the resurrection.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Something Christians struggle with.

  • AFBooks

    Unfortunately for atheists, they live in the land of speculation and accusing others of lying while they cannot even give evidence for their own position. The four horsemen of atheism still have not been able to give a position for atheism. They, like the writer of this article, simply tell what they are against, and then they criticize and find amusement in their criticism. That does not cut it.

    • Pofarmer

      The “position” for atheism is “your evidence for a deity is unconvincing”. That’s it. Maybe you have some earth shattering convincing evidence?

      • AFBooks

        Pofarmer, thanks for proving my point. I like it when atheists pull out their parrot and say, “You too, you too” and mimic human language without thinking. You fell for that one as have many atheists I have encountered. Even if I gave you strong evidence, you would stare it in the face like a deer in headlights and through your lens and faith in God does not exist, you would deny it. Apparently, you are not widely read in Christian apologetics or for that matter science.

        So, go back and think up another excuse. The one you gave is tired and old, having been used hundreds of times without success.

        Unfortunately, all you did is raise a non sequitur, a rabbit trail, by failing to address what I wrote. Yawn. You know where rabbits live? In holes. Is it dark in there?

        • You’re clearly out of our league. I wonder why you bother.

          No atheist here is saying, “you, too” since you haven’t actually said anything. Here’s how it works: I write a post (or someone makes an argument in a comment) and then you respond, by agreeing or showing a flaw.

          Even if I gave you strong evidence

          Uh, yeah, but you have no evidence. That’s the one tiny weakness in your position.

        • AFBooks

          “Here’s how it works…” Where did you learn English? you are missing an antecedent. You also show your lack of reason and reading skill.

          Your last conclusion has no premises. Therefore, you have a faulty syllogism. Return when you learn how to write, read, and reason.

        • Greg G.

          The “it” refers to what follows. Language can be complicated. You provide more evidence to support Bob’s first sentence.

        • AFBooks

          Hahahaha. You certainly do not understand grammar.

        • Dys

          And you don’t understand atheism. Or logic. Or how to make a rational argument.

        • Rudy R

          It takes Christian gall to give someone conditions to write on their own blog.

        • AFBooks

          Another red herring

        • Kodie

          You’re just stringing together smart words you heard and complaining. Are you performing another one of your fake psychological researches? What fake findings are you going to share?

          Pofarmer only said “we are not convinced by the evidence” and you go off on 20 separate contentless rants. You expect to be taken seriously?

        • AFBooks

          Another fallacy…conclusions without premises, giving a faulty syllogism. Got anymore irrational statements you wish to make?

        • I applaud your bravado, sir. You’ve got absolutely no argument, but you say it with such enthusiasm and confidence that it almost looks like you’ve got something useful to say.

        • AFBooks

          False again…a conclusion without premises, which makes a faulty syllogism.

        • Susan

          makes a faulty syllogism.

          Bob was not attempting to construct a syllogism. You might as well say he wrote a faulty song.

          Do you know what a syllogism is?

        • Kodie

          Floyd is a guy who is bored at his donut job.

        • AFBooks

          Do you know what a syllogism is? From your statement, it is apparent you do not know.

          Conclusions derive from premises. Bob drew conclusions without premises. Therefore, whether he was trying to construct a syllogism or not, he did, and they were faulty. You are wrong.

        • Kodie

          So your whole problem is that atheists poke holes in your beliefs? You want to throw around words like “syllogism”, your conclusion is that you don’t like atheists, on the premise that we can point out that there’s no good reason to fall for that old marketing line “who would die for a lie?” If you’re the sucker that went, “ayup, good enough for me!” then own it.

        • AFBooks

          You are on ignore youngster because unfortunately for you, you cannot write anything that is not a personal attack. Such immaturity.

        • Kodie

          I’m not surprised you have to pretend to hide your incompetence behind threats to ignore me, but we all know it’s there.

        • Susan

          Do you know what a syllogism is? From your statement, it is apparent that you do not know.

          As far as I’ve ever known, a syllogism is a specific type of logical argument used in deductive reasoning.

          Bob was not using deductive reasoning. Most conclusions don’t rely on deductive reasoning.

          whether he was trying to construct a syllogism or not, he did

          No. He didn’t.

          You are wrong.

          Explain what a syllogism is and show me how I’m wrong.

        • AFBooks

          I gave you one. We all draw conclusions, mostly deductive ones. Unless conclusions have support from premises, they have none at all. Besides, most of the conclusions many in this discussion have draw were personal attacks. They don’t count.

        • Susan

          I gave you one.

          I’m assuming you meant that you gave me an explanation. If you had, I wouldn’t still be asking for one.

          We all draw conclusions, mostly deductive ones.

          Explain how we draw mostly deductive conclusions and how Bob was constructing a syllogism.

          Besides, most of the conclusions many in this discussion have draw were personal attacks.

          Most? Really? That’s not what I’ve observed. You haven’t exactly been a peach, yourself. But it’s irrelevant.

          You see, that is a red herring designed to distract us from the fact that you don’t actually know what a syllogism is. Here is where you could go look it up and learn something before you accuse someone of constructing a false one again.

          FYI, the personal attacks weren’t syllogisms either.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, conclusions can also have support from evidence.

        • Susan

          Yes. Those are inductive conclusions and there’s plenty of evidence to support the conclusion that Floyd doesn’t have an argument to make nor any evidence to provide.

          I’m not telling you that, just hoping that Floyd might read this and look up the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, rather than throwing magic apologist words at us, thinking they will disarm us and he will win the imaginary battle.

        • Pofarmer

          Apologists and theologians love deductive arguments because they can set their priors any way they want to come up with the conclusion they want. William Lane Craig is a champion of this, and Scott Clifton, aka Theoretical Bullshit on Youtube, takes him to task for it by showing how inductive reasoning, aka evidence, can take a poor deductive argument apart.

        • Kodie

          What is it about Christians who learn one smart term, poorly, and then use it like it’s a silver bullet against all criticism?

        • AFBooks

          Your rhetorical question has too many faulty assumptions and is a complex question fallacy and therefore doesn’t warrant an answer.

        • Kodie

          too many faulty assumptions

          Name any.

          You’re just hiding behind grand douchery, you can’t keep up.

        • James

          I’m beginning to think that Floyd is a Sye-clone: all bluster, no substance. And a grade school understanding of logical fallacies.

        • Just knowing the names of a few fallacies seems to be all that some Christians need.

        • James

          Some of my philosopher friends refer to it as the “fallacy list fallacy.” Fallacious arguments are demonstrated, clearly and specifically, to actually be fallacious and not just assumed to be fallacious on the basis of an often-contorted superficial resemblance to a particular logical fallacy. As you said, just knowing the names of a few fallacies is all some Christians seem to need. My question is: who is he trying to convince? It certainly isn’t any of us, for reasons that we’ve already well explained. We want evidence, not just more excuses for why he doesn’t have it and oblique insults to our intelligence.

        • Pofarmer

          Sounds like an Allen Jackson song.

        • Your point is that Christians can be assholes? You make it very well.

          Get useful or get banned. Address something interesting in the post or with atheist or Christian arguments.

        • AFBooks

          More ad hominem. Is that your take after my analysis of your article? No scholarship and no rebuttal. Lack of wide reading on 1st to 3rd century literature. Assumptions, innuendos, and logical fallacies. Not surprising. Your article was very poorly written and offered no support for any of your premises. Besides, name-calling is so mature of you, the maturity of a 2nd grader. I gave a lengthy discussion on it, but I suppose you did not read that either. You may delete this, but I do not care. I tire of the uneducated responses and your article. It is unfortunate that you do not want to learn anything, and more unfortunate that you are uneducated and do not know how to support your historical analysis of the apostles. I see no historical scholarly source. Oh, by the way, I am not the one making the claims, so I do not have to defend anything. You atheists always have this claim assault backwards. I gave you resources, and if you are not too afraid and lazy to read them, then remain ignorant and uneducated. By the way, grow up. I didn’t waste my time, I exposed your fraudulent writing and character. You lack the credentials to write on the subject. BYE.

        • You gave a thorough analysis of my post? I must’ve missed it among all your schoolyard taunts.

          I’m not sure I’ve seen so much Christian hatred and rage in such a short amount of time. New meds? You sound very much like your god.

          I tire of the uneducated responses and your article. BYE.

          One wonders why you wasted your time. Bye.

        • Susan

          Uh, yeah, but you have no evidence. That’s the one tiny weakness in your position.

          Typical slippery atheist response.

          Technibloodycalities.

        • $46617944

          It never occurred to you folks that proving God exists is not a “win” on your part? Think critically.

          You have other questions to address and other claims to prove on your part.

        • AFBooks

          Tea, support your claims. Betcha can’t

        • RichardSRussell

          Even if I gave you strong evidence

          It’s just a tiny little word, only 2 letters, but it makes all the difference. IF you had provided us with strong evidence (or, heck, even weak evidence, or any evidence at all), we’d have reason to take you seriously and consider it. But you haven’t. Just a never-ending stream of hackneyed, unsupported assertions. Therefore you are just a big bag of wind blowing a horn that somebody else gave you that you’ve never noticed is badly out of tune.

        • AFBooks

          Richard, your conclusion is non sequitur. Thanks again for proving my point. You final statement is ad hominem. So much for a theistic rational thought. Oh, you don’t think.

        • Greg G.

          An ad hominem is a fallacy of addressing the person instead of the argument.

          Your argument has been addressed ad nauseum. So, he is merely insulting you.

        • AFBooks

          Greg, in that case, he committed two logical fallacies: ad hominem and the fallacy of ridicule. Both are the same: attacking the person instead of the argument. Where did you learn logic? Your argument is also flawed. You atheists simply don’t know how to think and go off topic very easily, showing that you are incapable of following an argument and staying on topic.

        • Greg G.

          He refuted your argument so he did not commit an ad hominem. Your claim of “strong evidence” is ridiculous and deserves ridicule.

        • AFBooks

          False

        • adam

          ??

        • RichardSRussell

          For someone who sees only as far as from A to B, hearing a report back from D or E probably does seem to you like a non sequitur. But au contraire, Pierre. My conclusion follows directly from the abundant evidence of your big-bag-of-windiness. I can support it with direct facts. Including your just-delivered evidence-less, reasoning-free bald assertion that I have somehow or other “proved your point”. Not the same thing as having your biases reinforced.

        • AFBooks

          Non sequitur…quit taking rabbit trails. I addressed the article. I do not take rabbit trails. Either address what I said or go away, because you show you have nothing to contribute except personal assaults. You atheists are really irrational. You are ignored from now on until you can address how I responded to the article. Have fun talking to yourself in your meandering diatribes.

        • RichardSRussell

          I will gladly address what you said right here, without having to head back in history or go down any rabbit trails. I have replied directly to you, criticizing your own lack of evidence and reasoning. You, OTOH, O master of logic, have referred to me as “you atheists”. Go look that one up in your Big Book of Logical Fallacies.

        • AFBooks

          Evidence for what? What claim have I made to which to refer for evidence? Tell me, then, are you an atheist? You still have not replied to my original post but continue to take rabbit trails. So you have not replied to it directly without personal assaults and logical fallacies. I don’t have time for such irrationalism.

        • Greg G.

          Tell me, then, are you an atheist? If you are not an atheist, why are you in this atheist discussion?

        • RichardSRussell

          Tell me, then, are you an atheist?

          Yes.

          You still have not replied to my original post …

          As I stated quite clearly 4 sentences above the quoted remark from you, I was responding to what you had just finished saying in the here and now, about 5 minutes before me, and most specifically not going back in history to some ur-argument of yours. It’s really easy to do that, you know, since pretty much everything you write provides ample evidence of vacuity and blatant misunderstanding of the logical process, so I can just dive in anywhere to pick my examples.

          And you keep saying you don’t have time for this and you’re cutting me off and blah blah blah, but yet here you are, back again, with more of the same. Gasbag. Can’t keep your own resolution for more than half an hour.

        • AFBooks

          Still not directed to my original post. Wrong again.

        • Kodie

          This is your claim:

          Unfortunately for atheists, they live in the land of speculation and

          accusing others of lying while they cannot even give evidence for their
          own position.

          The four horsemen of atheism still have not been able to
          give a position for atheism. They, like the writer of this article,
          simply tell what they are against, and then they criticize and find
          amusement in their criticism.

          That does not cut it.

          That’s 4 claims, no refutations, no evidence to support claims against atheism or for Christianity. Nothing but evasion and tantrums.

        • AFBooks

          Option #1 & #2 are speculation.

          In each option the article accused Christians of believing a lie without any evidence.

          The four horsemen book titles are against Christianity and not for atheism:

          Hitchens:

          “Is Christianity Good for the World” (Attack book)
          “God is Not Great” (Attack book”

          Dawkins:

          “The God Delusion” (Attack book)

          Sam Harris”

          “Letter to a Christian Nation” (Attack book)
          “The End of Faith…” (Attack book)

          Daniel Dennett:

          “Breaking the Spell” (Attack book)

          There have been numerous refutations of their books that include the following, given for Christian faith and against atheism:

          “Why Science Does Not Disprove God,” Azcel
          “Does God Exist?” Craig
          “Come Let Us Reason,” Craig & Copan, et al
          “God is Good, God is Great,” Craig
          “On Guard…,” Craig
          “The Last Superstition,” Feser
          “Illogical Atheism,” Bo Jinn
          “New Proofs for the Existence of God,” Spitzer
          “Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong,” Markham
          “Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins Case Against God,” Wiker and Hahn
          “The Case Against Atheism: The Failure of Disbelief,” Dobbins

          And these are just starters. I dare you to read the above books.

          By the way, I never made claims for Christianity or against atheism in this discussion. You statement is a red herring fallacy. The response supports all my claims. Therefore, you are WRONG again and your assaults are ad hominem. And since you continue to attack, you disqualify yourself from any further discussion. I do not say you cannot write anymore, but anything else you write is untrustworthy. Now raise your parrot and allow him to say, “You too.” You are on ignore.

        • Kodie

          And the response that gave you such a tantrum in the butthurt was

          The “position” for atheism is “your evidence for a deity is
          unconvincing”. That’s it. Maybe you have some earth shattering
          convincing evidence?

          The argument Christians use, “who would die for a lie?” is being analyzed in this article, and you have said nothing about that. You did made arguments against atheism in this discussion, you said, it was all speculation and they write nothing for atheism (given your misunderstanding, which Pofarmer corrected you), and all against Christianity, which is the claim with the terrible evidence that nevertheless persuades millions of people. Why shouldn’t these terrible Christian arguments be criticized? Did you read what this blog is about? And yet you come in here with your tantrum poo-flinging and have the fucking nerve to say criticizing your asshole behavior is “ad hominem”. Easy, stop being such a douche and make an intelligent argument. Otherwise, you’re transparently vacant of anything important to say, and that’s why we can dismiss you.

        • Susan

          Which books on that list have you read?

        • AFBooks

          More than half. I have them in my library.

        • Susan

          Not how many?

          Which ones?

          I’m interested in your arguments. If you are just going to call one list “attack books” and then type out a list of books that disagree, we’ll get nowhere.

          Have you read all the “attack books”? Pick one and explain how its arguments are nothing but attacks.

          From the other list, pick the best arguments and please bring them up here (or at least somewhere on this site. I don’t know the rules here for going off topic and the article is just about the terrible and fallacy-ridden “Christians wouldn’t die for a lie.” argument.)

          But if you have a good argument for whatever it is you’re cranky about, please produce it.

        • Pofarmer

          Bob is pretty forgiving in the comments and will generally let it run.

        • Susan

          Thanks Pofarmer. That’s what I’ve generally observed when I’ve been here but I didn’t want to suggest it without being certain.

          I didn’t want to lead Floyd to a dead end. I’m a bit of a rookie at this site. I appreciate the clarification.

        • Pofarmer

          Floyd will lead himself to a dead end if he keeps it up. Dudes got nothing so far.

        • Susan

          Floyd will lead himself to a dead end if he keeps it up.

          So far, he seems to be in the woods without a flashlight. I would be happy to support that if he takes issue with it.

          Dudes got nothing so far.

          So far, not a thing. I wonder what he’s trying to accomplish.

        • Pofarmer

          Make himself look smart by using big words with no actual argument?

        • Kodie

          If “it’s just speculation” is his most devastating argument, that’s basically the Christian-created standoff of “well you can’t prove they did die for a lie, so my beliefs remain valid.” But more plausible scenarios are not supposed to prove anything – the article only demonstrates the weakness of the Christian reasoning that it must be true because that’s the only conclusion. That’s a weak argument! It’s misdirection, it’s putting the mark in a different scenario, where they are not immersed in foolishness, and telling them they’re not foolish enough to get into trouble over something they know is not true.

          There are a lot of modern scenarios of people risking or taking a fall for someone they know is guilty of a crime. Sometimes they will admit that it was a crime, but sometimes they will alter the facts in their mind to file it as not a crime so their actions can feel righteous.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘lead’? ‘if’? he hasn’t taken a single step out of his contempt-echo-chamber. the advantages of Floyd’s “lalalalalala” tactic of shooting everything down with a complete absence of analysis is that there’s no need to (a) make any coherent defense of a point, (b) establish awareness of any definitions, or (c) ever let up (other than to eat or sleep or something).

          EDIT: oh, of course his next post downthread actually starts to venture into specifics! too bad it’s just namedropping and “countering” (cough, cough) Bob’s ‘sweeping assertions’ with Floyd’s sweeping assertions.

        • AFBooks

          I will not be sidetracked. If you want to engage in the discussion about the books I listed, then start another discussion, but read the books first. My criticism was about Bob’s article and its failure for him to make his case. You are diverting from that discussion with still another rabbit trail with no rebuttal, because you have none. I am not interested in rabbit trails. If you want to know their arguments, buy the books and read them. I do not engage in hand holding you through their arguments. Or are you afraid that their arguments would be too much for you and way over your head?

          The other problem with Bob’s article is that he shows he is not well read in scholarship. A good article will cite both sides, build a case for one, and refute the other through citations of scholarly works. Bob fails to do this and deserves an F for his failure.

          There is a whole host of biblical and archeological scholarship refuting his speculations and assumptions about the Bible, the apostles, Jesus, and so on. He misses WF Albright. FF Bruce, Darrell Bock, Joel B. Green, Harold Hoehner, and so many others who are experts in their fields of the New Testament. They make Bob look foolish in his assumptions. In other words Bob, you, and the others here are way over your head. And yes, I have read them, too.

          The following statement from Bob demonstrates his ignorance of scholarship:

          “The claim that almost all of the apostles died as martyrs is too weakly attested in history to support much of anything. Not only can no historical consensus emerge from the blizzard of contradicting claims about how they died, we have scant evidence—even if the apostles were executed or murdered—that these were martyrdoms.”

          What are his sources? He has none. Just pure assumptions without support. Beside, what he says is false. History does not support what he states.

          So unless you are willing to read on your own from experts in their fields, you show you have no interest in learning, and you have no defense for your ignorance just as Bob has no defense for his sloppy article.

          Hitchens, Dawkins, and the rest have no defense for their ignorance and for ranting in their books without having read scholarship, which they have not done. They just like to rant.

          NOW GO READ. I will not be your baby sitter to guide you. Otherwise, all of your assertions are without merit, because you are not well read and are uneducated in scholarship.

        • Kodie

          My criticism was about Bob’s article and its failure for him to make his case.

          What case do you think Bob was attempting to make?

          I think it’s fair to assume your reading comprehension isn’t great, and that if you had learned anything from what you claim to have read, you would happily discuss it instead of being a tacky piece of shit evasive arrogant Christian who wants to win all his arguments by acting like he’s too smart to care, and too busy to do our homework for us. Then you have no content, your posts are just opinions, and if you don’t have the time to back them up, then you don’t have the time to post your lengthy diatribes about how you have no interest in having this discussion. Because you can’t.

        • Susan

          I will not be sidetracked. If you want to engage in the discussion about the books I listed, then start another discussion, but read the books first.

          I’ve read many of them. Give me a reason to read the rest. Show me that you have a modicum of understanding of any of the arguments that are dealt with in those books. If you can’t do that, you’re the sidetracker.

          In the mean time, read The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy (all five books), everything Nietzche ever wrote and The Black Hole Wars: My Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics.

          They all disprove your god! (See how easy it is to bullshit without having to make an argument?)

          Seriously, Floyd. Make an argument. The cheapest thing in the world is to cite books without demonstrating that you are familiar with their content.

          More importantly, address the article. Do you think “Christians wouldn’t die for a lie.” is a good case for the existence of whatever claim you haven’t actually made yet or is convincing evidence that atheists are a bunch of poo poo heads?

          Otherwise, all of your assertions are without merit, because you are not well read and are uneducated in scholarship.

          Try me. Raise an argument from any of those books.

          Better yet, address the very clear argument from Bob Seidensticker’s article.

          You’ve been here a while and haven’t done that.

          I’ll make it simple. Some christians claim “It is impossible that christians would die for a lie.”

          Bob explains: “Not really. That doesn’t make any sense.”

        • adam

          re: I will not be sidetracked

        • Paul B. Lot

          Just an fyi “uneducated in scholarship” is redundant.

          I’m not trying to be a jerk, it’s just that you want to sound erudite so badly; I thought I’d throw you a bone.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “I will not be sidetracked.”

          dream on, genius.

        • Kodie

          All I know is you’ve possibly read some books and your take away is that, instead of learning something and having the competence of your subject to discuss the relevant arguments with us, it gives you permission to be a contentless little asshole who dares people to read your list of bullshit manuals.

        • Pofarmer

          Thats a pretty inconclusive list of those Authors titles.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but… Floyd’s got his Very Own Library!!

        • Pofarmer

          So, no arguments, just list Authors? That could go on a while.

        • James

          Good point. I also somehow doubt he’ll recognize that the books he mentioned are making the case for antitheism, not atheism in general.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, and those books are just a very small portion of the Authors works. He’s just flailing away at a strawman, and not a very artfully constructed one.

        • TheNuszAbides

          more like a formless heap of moldy straw that he’s pissing onto while he plays with it.

        • adam

          …..

        • Paul B. Lot

          Oh god, please no.

          Spitzer is such a bad writer.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “I do not say you cannot write anymore…”

          what a relief! really dodged a bullet there…

        • adam

          Atheism

        • Kodie

          Conclusions that you are pointless little windbag? That’s not ad hominem, you’re not being attacked, you’re being a little know-nothing shit and it’s supported by the evidence of your posting excuses instead of evidence, PLUS WHINING.

        • AFBooks

          ad hominem…doesn’t deserve a reply

        • Kodie

          Like your replies are worth anything.

        • AFBooks

          So you resurrected your parrot with a “You too.” Thought you would. Another conclusion without premises, making still another faulty syllogism. Must embarrass you.

        • Kodie

          Oh goody, you’re compelled to say something.

        • Kodie

          And that is not “you too” – You’re the one who thinks your replies are worth something, and pretending I’m punished that you don’t have a thoughtful response. Clue: You’re a fake, you don’t know shit, you are all bluster and no content.

        • AFBooks

          attack such immaturity

        • Kodie

          Where’s the content?

        • Susan

          your conclusion is non sequitir.

          It doesn’t follow that someone who provides no evidence or argument but just a never-ending stream of hackneyed, unsupported assertions is just being a big bag of wind?

          Of course it follows. Look up non sequitir.

          Your final statement is ad hominem.

          Please look up ad hominem and any other terms you’re going to use out of context (e.g. red herring, syllogism).

          You’re not helping your cause nor are you impressing anyone.

          You don’t seem interested in making any sort of case or furthering understanding. You seem to have come here to tell atheists they are a bunch of poo poo heads. If that makes you feel better, help yourself.

          What are you trying to accomplish? Calm down, organize your approach and make your case.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course the dolt could be just ten years of age…certainly comments as such.

        • Dys

          You don’t have a point. You’re apparently just here because you read a book on logical fallacies, and imagine you know what they mean. Richard is correct – you haven’t backed up your comments, and you’re effectively running away from having to do so.

          Oh, and you’ve failed miserably in discerning the difference between an insult and an ad hominem. Stop patting yourself on the back…you’re not arguing rationally or logically. You’re merely another arrogant (and poor) religious apologist.

        • Susan

          You’re apparently just here because you read a book on logical fallacies, and imagine you know what they mean.

          Reading a book, I think is a stretch. I think he’s just drunk on apologetic terms. He was convinced when people uttered those words so he expects they will have power if he uses them here.

          They don’t. This makes him mad.

          Therefore, atheists are poo poo heads.

          Actually, wait. Atheists were poo poo heads when he got here, so someone who uttered those terms he’s drunk on also gave him a bad impression about atheists.

          Or he’s just a sock puppet and this is Groundhog Day.

          I’m pretty sure I’ve hit my limit for responses to a troll for a semi-lurker. Thanks everyone for being so patient.

          Playing Whack-a-Gish is gauche. Sorry about that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Floyd would make a great addition to Q.Quine’s troll petting zoo.

        • Susan

          Q.Quine’s troll petting zoo.

          Darn it. I wish I knew where to look for that link.

          Any chance you can access it, IA?

          Don’t make me send out the Q signal.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not sure it ever got past the concept stage over at RDFRS….

          http://old.richarddawkins.net/comments/864586

        • Susan

          That’s the one. 🙂

          Thanks, Amos.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “because you read a book on logical fallacies”

          i’m guessing it was more like glancing at a basic webpage, or staring at enough internet arguments to pick up a primitive rhythm.

        • James

          No one could be this hypocritical and illogical. You’re a troll.

        • TheNuszAbides

          although if he really were that hypocritical and illogical, he might as well be a troll… a tasteless hybrid of Poe and distinction-without-difference.

        • adam

          ….

        • Nox

          “Unfortunately for atheists, they live in the land of speculation and accusing others of lying while they cannot even give evidence for their own position.”

          …(1 hour later on same thread)…

          “Even if I gave you strong evidence, you would stare it in the face like a deer in headlights and through your lens and faith in God does not exist, you would deny it.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          heh. poor embattled Floyd, he just can’t win – hey, wait, that means he wins!
          or something.

        • Greg G.

          Is this a new sock for stnwlksn, hammerhead, etc?

          Even if I gave you strong evidence, you would stare it in the face like a deer in headlights and through your lens and faith in God does not exist, you would deny it.

          How do you know this? Nobody has ever tried it. Theists only give weak claims and non-sequitur arguments.

        • AFBooks

          Talking about weakness. Support your claim. Again you failed to address what I wrote. Your atheists are more irrational than I thought.

        • Greg G.

          All you have to do is show the strong evidence you claim exists. You come here under name after name and support my point with every damn comment you post.

        • AFBooks

          Greg, wrong! I never made a claim. I contested the author of the article’s claim. Apparently, you can’t read. The person writing the article made a claim. It is not up to me to support his claim. It is the other way around. Now return to the main idea and quit going off on rabbit trails and saying, “You too,” like a parrot. I will not follow your asinine rabbit trails. The author’s claim is faulty for several reasons:

          1. He fails to define “lie”
          2. He fails to show that Christians follow a lie
          3. He fails to show that Christians will die for a lie
          4. He fails to make a distinction between dying for something and murder
          5. He gives false analogies of the Branch Davidian and Jonestown. Those were murders, someone forced to die and not one dying for their faith. Yours is a failure to understand, to reason, and to think for yourself. You parrot the same old tired arguments those atheists before you have, thoughtless and irrational.

          You still prove my point as do all of the others who have responded to me by failing to give an argument for atheism as I claimed you could not do. I made that claim, and so far you and the rest of your atheist group are proving it for me.

          THANK YOU

          You are wrong with your faulty reasoning as is the author of the article. Now, go away until you learn how to think.

        • Greg G.

          Greg, wrong! I never made a claim.

          You made the claim:

          Even if I gave you strong evidence, you would stare it in the face like a
          deer in headlights and through your lens and faith in God does not
          exist, you would deny it.

          1. He is not using a non-standard definition of “lie”.
          2. He shows there are multiple accounts of martyrdom for some apostles. A person cannot be martyred twice. That proves that second century Christians were telling lies about martyrdom. Christians still repeat those lies.
          3. He’s not trying to show that Christians will die for a lie. Christians say that those people did die for a lie.
          4. A murder can be a martyrdom. There is not necessarily a difference.
          5. Being willing to die for a belief, by allowing oneself to be murdered or by committing suicide, can be a martyrdom. The Jonestown and Waco events had people who were willing to die, willing to kill, and willing to let others die for their beliefs, even if some were less fervent. Those who died in those situations were either committed or held hostage.

          The argument for atheism is the lack of convincing evidence for any gods. There are hundreds of things in this room and I am convinced that they are real. My standard for evidence for existence is obviously not impossible to meet nor even difficult to meet.

          I gave an argument for why we should consider that the concept of god is contrived. The original concept of gods were to explain things observed by ancient people but they turned out to be natural processes. But the concept of gods were entrenched so the concept became contrived so vaguely and malleable as to be undisprovable. We can see the evolution of the concept right in the Bible and in history. So we have evidence that the concept of god is contrived. We have no evidence that any god exists outside of contrived evidence.

        • AFBooks

          “The argument for atheism is the lack of convincing evidence for any gods.”

          NOPE. That is an against argument. Too bad you do not understand the difference. You failed again

        • adam

          Atheism

        • Susan

          He fails to define “lie”.

          In the the opening paragraphs under options 1 and 2 in the article, Bob clearly defines “lie” as a “false story”.

          He fails to show that Christians follow a lie.

          The point of the article is that the argument “Christians wouldn’t die for a lie.” is a terrible argument. He doesn’t have to prove that they did, just that it’s entirely unreasonable to assert that they couldn’t have.

          He gives false analogies of the Branch Davidian and Jonestown. Those were murders, someone forced to die and not one dying for their faith.

          Are you seriously suggesting that in both cases the individual cult leaders singlehandedly murdered all those people? That there were no followers going along with it?

          Even if that were the case, you still have Koresh and Jones who quite definitely died for a lie. So, no. They are not false analogies.

          You parrot the same old tired arguments those atheists before you have, thoughtless and irrational.

          Yes. It gets old and tired for all of us to ask christians for evidence to support their claims and to be given insulting arguments like “Christians wouldn’t die for a lie.”

          So people like Bob have to painstakingly explain why it’s a terrible argument.

          Do you think it’s a good argument? You haven’t addressed that yet.

        • AFBooks

          You are wrong on all counts. On the “lie” assertion, you did not consider context and sentence structure. He wrote, “A story could be a lie in two ways.” That is not a definition, but a condition statement and assumption that leaves open options. He then began to speculate from his assumptions. Speculation, assumption, innuendo, and conditional statements are NOT definitions. You are wrong.

          One your second point, you failed to understand it as speculation and false assumption. He assumes something to be a lie, and speculates about it without evidence. He fails to prove his point.

          One your third, you still fail to understand the difference between murder (and suicide is murder) and dying for what one believes (someone executing you as the ISIS does). Bob falsely assumes that Christians believe a lie. I can turn that argument around. It is a false attribution fallacy. And his analogies remain false. You and Bob are wrong again.

          As for your last statement, it is non sequitur. I have already given numerous reasons in this discussion why Bob has not made his case. To say I have not addressed your question shows you have not read what I have written. One is because his premises are false and unsupported. I have already stated that many many times. I will not repeat myself. On that argument alone, his entire argument falls. It is terrible writing based on too many assumptions, innuendos, and speculations without any scholastic historical support. In fact what he says flies in the face of historical record, which you nor he have ever read. I can give plenty of historical references, if you wish.

          I would give the article a C- or D+.

        • Kodie

          You can call things wrong and false and speculation, but you failed to demonstrate that your opinion is all we need, and that asking you to be coherent is out of line for his majesty’s grading system.

        • Susan

          On the “lie” assertion, you did not consider context and sentence structure.

          On the lie definition I did consider context and sentence structure. Bob clearly defined lie as “false story”. Here is where you should retract your assertion that Bob did not define lie. He did.

          The rest of your comment can easily be dealt with.

          There is an argument that christians make that “Christians would not die for a lie.” i.e. that it is impossible for Christians to die for a lie.

          Bob made the case that it is not impossible. It’s perfectly likely. He does not have to prove that they did die for a lie, nor did he attempt to.

          He simply has to show that the claim that they could not or would not die for a lie is not a solid one. He did show that.

          Do you think it’s impossible that people could die for a lie? If you do, then Hitler, Koresh, and countless other examples should give you pause.

          If you don’t, then if christians have a special claim, it is not well served by this argument.

          “Speculation” is perfectly legitimate when someone claims something is impossible. One simply has to give examples where it is perfectly possible. Bob did that
          .

          I would give the article a C- or D+.

          If you were qualified to mark Bob’s work, you would first have to demonstrate that you understand what Bob’s argument is (you haven’t), and show where he lost marks in making his argument. You haven’t.

          And you are not qualified. I haven’t honestly seen you put two thoughts together since you got here. It’s disqus so maybe I missed that. Feel free to point me somewhere where you have.

        • AFBooks

          Blah, blah, blah, you understand nothing, and you are ignorant in so much more, especially English grammar.

        • Kodie

          Why do you boast?

        • Susan

          Blah, blah, blah, you understand nothing, and you are ignorant in so much more, especially English grammar.

          Oh my. Your perfectly constructed sentence has certainly put me in my place.

          Your clearly defined and well supported assertions are a clinic in reasoned discussion.

          I give.

          Somebody get me a fainting couch.

        • Dys

          Come on Susan…don’t tell me you’re surprised Floyd turned out to be a complete hypocrite? 😉

        • Susan

          don’t tell me you’re surprised Floyd turned out to be a complete hypocrite?

          Shocked, I tell you.

          Plus, this corset is a little tight.

        • James

          His puny little mind won’t grasp satire. He’s likely to think he’s really convinced you 😉

        • Ignorant Amos

          Turned out to be an ignorant knobhead.

        • Ignorant Amos

          British soldiers died because of a lie. The Prime Minister Tony Blair cited a “dodgy” dossier to persuade the British public that going to war was justified.

          If modern governments can be duped by documented lies, what chance did uneducated first century Palestinians?

          But according to Floyd, no one would be so gullible.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “And you are not qualified. I haven’t honestly seen you put two thoughts together since you got here. It’s disqus so maybe I missed that. Feel free to point me somewhere where you have.”

          Susan, yet again you bring a smile to my face.

          Well done. I award you full marks 🙂

        • Susan

          yet again you bring a smile to my face

          Thanks. That makes it a good day. And there I was giving myself heck for responding to troll bait. (I was right, though. I should’ve known better.)

          I miss your regular and brilliant contributions on the internet battlefields. Most of them were on the Site that must not be Named.

          Nice to see you anywhere. 🙂

        • MNb

          “I was giving myself heck for responding to troll bait”
          Why? I never have bought “don’t feed the troll”. Smash them, I say and you did that pretty well.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Thanks Susan, these were kind words!

          I’ve spent some more time recently reading over at E.N. and I’m getting confused. What’s going on with this Loreen Lee character? Seems to be a lot of odd stream-of-consciousness rambling, which no one comments on or about.

        • Susan

          What’s going on with this Loreen Lee character?

          I have my thoughts about that but I’m fairly certain this is not the place to talk about it. I used to have a soft spot for her that I’m not sure was well-placed. She comes from SN and still posts there regularly. People mostly ignored her. That’s why I had a soft spot.

          Bottom line. I think she likes attention but doesn’t want to ground her thinking anywhere. She just likes to make references without showing any critical thinking about them. She is play acting.

          Honestly, I’m not qualified. She might have some psychological issues that I have no training to diagnose.

          There really is no place to have a discussion about that.
          She really bogs up the discussion. On the good side, the contributors there are deft enough to carry on substantial disussions around her.

          Caravelle (very sweetly, but possibly mistakenly) took her comments seriously and that sent her into a tizzy (scores now of disconnected and ungrounded references) that would put a post-modernist generator to shame.

          I’m relying on Bob’s patience to let me sneak this one in but it’s off-topic and off-site and I’m not sure we’ll be able to resolve anything. This will be my only comment here on the subject.

          Really, she reminds me of a few people I know who are attention-seeking control freaks who want to be front and centre without doing any hard work.

          Just my opinion. It very well could be wrong.

          I miss your comments in general. They were always so good. I look forward to more of them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There was me thinking that I was the only one who couldn’t see the emperor’s new threads. Thank feck for that, am not as daft on that count as I first imagine.

          Once LL started quoting all those philosophers, I lost it. Perhaps why she has lost it, too many competing philosophies in a single head that has not got the capability to handle them. Meltdown is ensuing.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Yeah, I know this was off-topic here…I just didn’t want to say anything directly to her until I had a better idea of what was up.

          I don’t want to add any unnecessary burdens to someone who might have more on their plate than I’m aware of.

        • Not a problem.

          Can I ask what these blogs/forums are? Not that I have the time, but I am always curious about the many useful blogs out there that I don’t know about.

        • Susan

          Can I ask what these blogs/forums are?

          Sorry. I just saw this now.

          Thank you for your indulgence.

          “SN” refers to strangenotions.com, a site advertised as being a place for reasoned dialogue between atheists and catholics. Really, it’s just a place for proselytization and career advancement for Brandon Vogt.

          It was a disturbing experience but that’s actually how I found your site. They posted your very gentle “Say Nay to the Naysayers Argument” and that led me here. It was one of a handful of articles by atheists compared to hundreds by catholic apologists.

          I commented there for a couple of years and watched as atheist after atheist was banned for “snark”. They were not warned (though Vogt insisted they were). Eventually, there was an event where most of the prominent atheist commenters were banned overnight, without warning, and a month’s worth of their comments were deleted. Vogt claimed the deletions were “disqus glitches” and continued to lie about the whole thing, making disparaging remarks about the banned.

          Estranged Notions was set up as a response, where discussions of the articles could be continued and where the month’s worth of comments were recovered and stored.

          (That is my restrained explanation. Hope it was restrained enough.)

          I encourage anyone interested here to engage with the catlicks at SN (at least until they get banned) and to drop over to EN if they have a chance. It’s a great place.

          There’s a Loreen problem right now, as mentioned, but that can be sidestepped.

        • Interesting, thanks. I do read the occasional post from there. The Catholic take is a refreshing kind of insanity since most of the Christian stuff I read is on the fundamentalist side.

          Since a blog/site is owned by someone, they can do whatever they want, but it’s pretty frustrating when the owner is pretty clearly purging discouraging words when an honest discussion wouldn’t support their BS. There are Catholic blogs here at Patheos notorious for deleting comments that are insufficiently sycophantic.

        • Susan

          There are Catholic blogs here at Patheos notorious for deleting comments that are insufficiently sycophantic.

          It’s progress. Insufficiently sycophantic types used to be burned at the stake, thrown into Magdalene Laundries (enslaved) and all kinds of unsavoury things.

          Now, they just ban us, lie about it, delete our comments and say nasty things about us when we’re not there to defend ourselves.

          Thank goodness for progress. I sincerely mean that. It gives me hope.

        • Good point. That’s a refreshing attitude.

        • Kodie

          You were asked for your amazing evidence, full stop. Yammering on about how we would discredit it because you just don’t like that we can is not helping you seem intelligent or logical.

        • James

          Atheists are asking you for evidence and you present none. When called on your irrational thinking, you lash out. Try presenting some actual evidence for your claims.

        • adam

          Talking about weakness.

        • Kodie

          “Read it again and this time, try to be stupider and less realistic” is not a good argument. There’s no “deer in the headlights,” it’s “grown-ups believe this?????”

          You have no evidence, you know you have no evidence, you know your evidence looks like bullshit, so you can make any excuses that please you, it’s all cognitive dissonance, not just the little part where you believe what grown-ups shouldn’t have to argue with you about.

        • AFBooks

          ad hominem

        • Kodie

          That actually means something else.

        • Bruce Gorton

          Yes, yes your argument is an ad-hominem. You rely on insulting the other party rather than presenting evidence or logic. That is the very definition of an ad-hominem attack.

        • James

          I suspect the irony is lost on poor Floyd.

        • Dys

          Nothing in your comment had anything to do with science. And your attempt at a “gotcha” moment was more than a bit pathetic.

          All you did was make excuses for yourself, and acting like you’ve successfully shown up those gosh darn atheists. You haven’t. You’re just acting like every other poor religious apologist who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, but pretending they have some authority to dictate things. It’s the same failed nonsense we’ve seen before.

        • James

          Just curious, do you apply the “even if you had evidence you’d still doubt” line of “reasoning” to everything else? My guess is no. This brand of apologetics is just a slightly more arrogant take on “the dog stole my homework” excuse. Atheists want evidence to support beliefs – not excuses for why you don’t have any.

        • adam

          Apparently, you are not widely read in leprechan apologetics or for that matter science.

        • evodevo

          So … where is your evidence?

    • Helpful information, Floyd. That does provide food for thought.

      … oh, wait a minute. This is just an empty drive-by. Did you mean to provide any actual evidence or arguments, either against the points here or in favor of the Christian claims?

    • $46617944

      And unfortunately some live in a silly land where they think proving God exists or accepting God exists automatically proves a specific religion is right.

      • James

        Yep. Every “proof” for the existence of god works equally well for every religion, to the extent that the “proof” works at all. Arguments that prove everything proves nothing.

    • MNb

      Unfortunately for you my compatriot Herman Philipse totally did.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_the_Age_of_Science%3F

      Next goof.

      • Pofarmer

        I would really like to read that book, but for now I’ll be content with Victor Stenger.

    • Dys

      The fact that FloydAT feels like he can condescend to people on the site after this mindless dribble of a comment is more than a bit funny. The position for atheism is not believing in gods. You know, the definition of the term.

      • Susan

        The position for atheism is not believing in gods. You know, the definition of the term.

        It’s certainly my definition of the term and the definition of many others here.

        What’s short for “I don’t believe Yahwehjesus claims about realtiy or any other deity claims”?. If he’d like to call me an igtheist, I would be fine (even better) with that.

        I don’t have to defend terminology. I don’t believe Yahwehjesus claims.

        Call that whatever you like.

        Then, he has to tell me why he does and why I should.

    • davewarnock

      I don’t believe in a god. That’s the position. Um, what evidence can one give for what they don’t believe in? I don’t believe in unicorns or leprechauns. I don’t have evidence for not believing in them either. Do you? What’s unfortunate is that you fail to understand what atheism even means.

    • James

      “Speculating” about not believing strong claims made without equally compelling evidence? That’s some really twisted “logic” there Floyd.

    • adam

      “Unfortunately for aleprechanist, they live in the land of speculation and
      accusing others of lying while they cannot even give evidence for their
      own position”

  • $46617944

    People were also willing to die and be tortured for many other non christian faiths. Christians think they are soo unique and their faith is soo superior but it is not.

  • ShawnMackinson

    “Those [apostles] mentioned in the Bible and in the summary of Hippolytus are potentially legendary. We can say nothing with confidence of their work; we can’t even say for certain if any were historical figures.” “there’s little reason to suppose that the stories of the original apostles are more than legend”

    Bob, you’re wrong. The apostles of Jesus most certainly existed. The earliest Church fathers and Apostolic fathers had direct communication with the Apostles of Jesus, forming a direct, unbroken line from Jesus to the leaders of the Church today. That’s how we can be sure that Jesus and the Apostles existed, as recorded in the Bible, and that the Church carries out Jesus’ teachings to this day.

    • RichardSRussell

      [Here insert eye roll]

      Bob, you’re the guy who signed up to take on crap like “the unbroken line of apostolic succession” as if there (a) were one or (b) were only one. Go get ‘im.

    • Pofarmer

      I think the evidence for this line is highly suspect. But, go ahead and show it.

      • Susan

        go ahead and show it.

        (Crickets.)

        It’s been 10 hours. That doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t have it. It IS the internet.

        But he sounds like a catholic. The church teaches it and it is therefore, true. It would be nice if he showed up to support it.

        It rarely happens and so far, I have seen no good evidence even when they do.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems like I’ve asked for this before on the Catholic Channel. Maybe I will have to look up to see exactly what the Chuch says again, but I think it primarily comes down to “because people said so a long time ago and a long time ago people dodn’t make things up to bolster their positions.”

        • Joe

          Well most history is based on because people say so. If you want video of say Polycarp or Ignatious of Antioch shaking hands with John then you will be disappointed. Of course such evidence has never been the historical standard.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, but there ARE historical standards, and much of what Christians claim for evidence is of the very lowest order. Maybe you could explain why the Catholic Church’s position on this falls outside the consensus of modern scholarship?

        • Joe

          Catholic Church’s position on what? Some of the Catholic Churches position is within consensus of modern Scholarship. Such as that Jesus was a real person.

          I think there is a consensus in modern scholarship to grant that the early Christians were putting themselves at some level of risk for practicing the faith. That is in accord with the Catholic Churches position.

          I think most scholars tend to put more credibility on claims made which would put people at risk of death with no clear benefit.

        • I’ll bet the Catholic Church makes a lot more interesting claims than “Jesus was a real person.”

        • Pofarmer

          So then, you find Joseph Smith’s claims credible? Sayeth Sai baba? How about Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire? Or Islamists flying planes into buildings?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The difference being that the believed is living their lives based on the dubious say so of who ta fuck knows.

          Go ahead and fill yer boots, just stop forcing your pish, stuff, and nonsense, down the necks of the rest of us. That goes for all the other fucked up peoples “say so” out there, which I’m sure you will agree is bullshit.

          Take the Outsider Test for Faith, then get back to me bubba.

        • Kodie

          Let’s say this meeting occurred – who cares. We have no burden placed upon ourselves if this is historical meeting or characters in a story. Can you really not tell the difference between real and fantasy? Normal and supernatural? People don’t resurrect very often, so I assume this singular event is the only thing that matters, and whether it’s true or not is important, AS IS whether you believe it or not. That’s some heavy shit. Do you believe it because it’s true, or just because it’s so heavy that you better off to believe it than not?

          It’s just like Jesus. Some people believe he was a real guy, and others a complete fabrication. It doesn’t matter – there were people then. So it’s not a problem if a person existed. If you claim that person did some magical freaky shit based on a possible fact that he existed, then I also did some magical freaky shit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          John who? Which John?

          Who said Polycarp shook John’s hand, Papias? Really?

          This Papias?

          Judas did not die by hanging[45] but lived on, having been cut down before he choked to death. Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles makes this clear: Falling headlong he burst open in the middle and his intestines spilled out.[46] Papias, the disciple of John, recounts this more clearly in the fourth book of theExposition of the Sayings of the Lord, as follows:

          Judas was a terrible, walking example of ungodliness in this world, his flesh so bloated that he was not able to pass through a place where a wagon passes easily, not even his bloated head by itself. For his eyelids, they say, were so swollen that he could not see the light at all, and his eyes could not be seen, even by a doctor using an optical instrument, so far had they sunk below the outer surface. His genitals appeared more loathsome and larger than anyone else’s, and when he relieved himself there passed through it pus and worms from every part of his body, much to his shame. After much agony and punishment, they say, he finally died in his own place, and because of the stench the area is deserted and uninhabitable even now; in fact, to this day one cannot pass that place without holding one’s nose, so great was the discharge from his body, and so far did it spread over the ground.

          The Pious Papias wouldn’t make shit up, would he?

          Eusebius, despite his own views on Papias, knew that Irenaeus believed Papias to be a reliable witness to original apostolic traditions. Later scholars have been questioning of Papias’ reliability. Much discussion of Papias’s comments about the Gospel of Mark and Gospel of Matthew is concerned with assessing Papias’ reliability as evidence for the origins of these Gospels or with emphasizing the apologetic character of the Gospels in order to discredit their reliability. Casey argued that Papias was indeed reliable, but reliable about a Hebrew collection of sayings by the Apostle Matthew which had nothing to do with the Greek Gospel of Matthew, either incorrectly ascribed to Matthew or written by another Matthias. Concerning the Gospel of Mark, many modern scholars have dismissed Papias’ reliability regarding this Gospel due to the purpose of Papias in vindicating the apostolicity of Mark’s Gospel.

          Ancient writers made stuff up all the time. It is well documented. Biased ancient writers even more so.

          Ignatius of Antioch? Says he was a pupil of John? Which John? Not the John of gospel writing fame surely? Since no one knows who the authors of that gospel were. Yes, authors and were…plural.

          Ever hear of the 4th century BC Greek historian Herodotus? An ancient historian claiming to be an historian and doing history.

          Herodotus of Halicarnassus, his Researches are set down to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements of both the Greeks and the Barbarians; and more particularly, to show how they came into conflict.

          Although Herodotus considered his “inquiries” a serious pursuit of knowledge, he was not above relating entertaining tales derived from the collective body of myth, but he did so judiciously with regard for his historical method, by corroborating the stories through enquiry and testing their probability.[93] While the gods never make personal appearances in his account of human events, Herodotus states emphatically that “many things prove to me that the gods take part in the affairs of man” (IX, 100).

          Even bona fide ancient historians made things up to suit their agenda…all of them…so it isn’t much of a leap to assume new cult leaders would do the same, and we know they definitely did, and some admit to doing so.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, it’s been 10 days. I assume my evidence isn’t forthcoming.

        • adam

          Better to remain silent and be thought a fool……

    • I don’t share your certainty that these guys even existed, but that’s not the point. My point was that legend attached to the stories about the people, even if they were real people.

      No, the record of the early church fathers isn’t especially convincing. There are big time gaps, and out best copies are quite old.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Do you know what an apostle is? One who is a messenger, envoy.

      Paul was an apostle, but he never met Jesus, probably because Jesus didn’t exist, but anyway, Paul only claims to have knowledge of Jesus through revelation and the scriptures. He never claims to have met with anyone who knew Jesus, everyone he mentions as fellow church members are also apostles and their knowledge of Jesus is the same as for Paul’s, revelation and scripture.

      For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

      —1 Corinthians 15:3-8

      That is the one and only time the number twelve is mentioned anywhere in the Pauline corpus, and he doesn’t restrict the title apostle to just twelve, whom he doesn’t name.

      There is some disagreement among Biblical scholars as to who exactly should be counted as an apostle. Paul of Tarsus called himself an apostle. He was active in the early Christian church but did not meet Jesus while he was alive – but Paul argued that he received revelation from the risen Jesus directly. Mary Magdalene, a female follower of Jesus, is often referred to as a disciple. She is also sometimes called the apostles’ apostle.

      The idea of disciples, or students/pupils of Jesus, comes much later on, in the gospels. The gospels contradict each other on exactly who all these disciples were.

      So…

      Church fathers and Apostolic fathers had direct communication with the Apostles of Jesus, forming a direct, unbroken line from Jesus to the leaders of the Church today. That’s how we can be sure that Jesus and the Apostles existed, as recorded in the Bible, and that the Church carries out Jesus’ teachings to this day.

      …is a load of tosh.

      • Joe

        You quote Paul saying over 500 people were eyewitnesses including people he claims to have met, like Peter and James, and then say:

        “He never claims to have met with anyone who knew Jesus, everyone he mentions as fellow church members are also apostles and their knowledge of Jesus is the same as for Paul’s, revelation and scripture.”

        I really don’t understand.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, you conflate “seen” with “eyewitness”.

          Paul claims to have “seen” Jesus in a vision, but he was not an “eyewitness” to the risen Jesus.

          Think of a charlatan psychic who claims to have “seen” your dead Grandma, they are not ,”eyewitnesses ” to your Grandma risen.

          See the difference?

  • James

    A perfect analogy for the life of Jesus was The Bab, Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází http://www.bahai.org/the-bab/life-the-bab

    He had a messiah complex, he had many followers, he converted some of his enemies; he was given opportunities to recant, both before and after his imprisonment. He and a follower willingly embraced martyrdom, as did later followers, and were executed together. And according to atheists and Christians alike, he and his followers died for lies.

    • TheNuszAbides

      “according to atheists and Christians alike,”

      mmm… the bitter taste of common ground.
      and of course, *crickets* from Floyd ‘My Library’ AT.

  • Ozark

    before we even discuss who these 12 were who died for a lie…

    Well, we first need to figure out exactly who the 12 were.

    The Gospel (canonical lists) are irreconcilable. They simply agree there should be 12 of them.

    That should be your first red flag. Now, how many are fleshed out characters with some kind of significant attestation elsewhere?

    Peter. Or Cephas. Or Simon Peter. Great. So the guy who seems most certain has 3 names? Oh well. He was in Galations under a different name, at the middle of a controversy, which I suppose might be real due to some kind of embarrassment criterion.

    Who was he with? James! That guy must be real. He was the “brother of the lord”. Look at the non-canonical sources, and he’s there too – and in Josephus! (well, maybe – ok maybe like 50% chance this is who we think it is).

    So he’s one of the 12, right? well not according the gospels. He didn’t believe in his own brother/half-brother according to the gospels, synoptic or otherwise. Heck, he’s even playing the heel in Galatians, but he’s popular in the gospel of the Hebrews.

    Then you’ve got a bunch of cookie cutter guys who are perfect for fleshing out to give apostolic authority to your movement. Our gospel (that doesn’t think James was an apostle) was founded by John! No, not that John. Yes, the other one. No, not that one. The other one. Nope, still the wrong John.

    Get the picture?

    at best only the thinnest wisp of historicity exists here, pretty much making any imaginary martyrdoms of various imaginary characters irrelevant for the purposes of “who would die for a lie” as a live argument.

    • I’m always amused how they have to pull nuggets if biography from different books. If you were reading just Mark, you’d think that the family of Jesus (including James) thought he was nuts. That’s it–no mention of reconciliation. And then in the book of James, we read that James was the leader of the Jerusalem church–no mention of earlier friction within the family.

      But they serve the conservative position (the obvious response, that the books are contradictory and therefore suspect, can’t be correct), then they’ll go for it.

      • Ignorant Amos

        It could be worse Bob, the rhubarbs could be pulling biographical nuggets from the New Testament Apocrypha Gospels…that’s if they even know about them…

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament_apocrypha

        • TheNuszAbides

          I was a big fan of Tobit, back in middle school.

      • primenumbers

        It’s as if multiple writers heard a story told in different ways, and decided to write it down not just to tell the story as they heard it, but to correct / alter the other tellings they knew about, cribbing where necessary and inserting other stories as if they were part of the main story when they obviously have very different roots. Believers see this as multiple independent (obviously not) tellings of the same story, but a more objective look shows it to be the mess that it is, and with no necessary link to any kind of historical truth behind the events.

    • Neko

      The James in Josephus is probably not James, “the brother of the Lord,” but James, the brother of Jesus bar Damneus.

  • Ignorant Amos

    some interesting questions addressed here…

    https://plus.google.com/events/crgkguf0g6hf23260mhnf9a3fks

    • Nice. Are there MP3 versions of these presentations? I’d like to iPod this.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I dare say it won’t be long before it is up on youtube.

        It only broadcast on Sunday morning in the States.

        • I did find it on youtube, along with some of the others (search ftbcon3). I encouraged them to make MP3s available, and someone said they’d consider that.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HBsKYik4T4

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sound effort Sir..a hope they keep their promise,.keep spreading the word.

  • Joe

    “We must distinguish between two categories of disciples. Those mentioned in the Bible and in the summary of Hippolytus are potentially legendary. We can say nothing with confidence of their work; we can’t even say for certain if any were historical figures.

    The second category includes those disciples who actually did the work to proselytize early Christianity. Someone helped spread the word, so we can be sure that they existed. They would likely have been, like the 9/11 hijackers, true believers who believed a story but didn’t witness the history claimed to back it up.”

    Lots of speculation here. Bible accounts are all just legend. The people in them were not even historical? Why do you say the early proselytizers were likely not witnesses? Can you give a source for this claim?

    • Pofarmer

      The source of the claim is Paul himself. Paul says that he saw Jesus through “revelations” and “scripture” and say that that is the same way the other apostles in Jerusalem saw him. Paul never mentions disciples, except for a spurious mention of “the twelve”. The disciples don’t show up until the Gospels, which were written late. Possibly even early first century.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Possibly even early first century.

        I think you meant 2nd century.

        Certainly John seems to be 90–100 AD at the earliest.

        John is cited by Justin Martyr, which puts authorship around 160 CE at the latest. Of course, since the John gospel is made up of three individual

        Some scholars point to Rylands p52 which is the earliest piece of NT scripture in existence, for dating the gospel early. A credit card sized bit of papyri with Johannine scripture on both sides which has been loosely dated to as early as the year 90, but that is contested by competing scholarship. Some who place it late 2nd century.

        Although some notable New Testament scholars affirm traditional Johannine scholarship, the majority do not believe that John or one of the Apostles wrote it, and trace it instead to a “Johannine community” which traced its traditions to John; the gospel itself shows signs of having been composed in three “layers”, reaching its final form about 90–100 AD.

        While the other three synoptic Gospels are earlier, the first, Mark, is still late in the first century.

        All, said and done, the gospels offer no support to trueandreasonable’s position.

        • Pofarmer

          “I think you meant 2nd century.”

          Yep.

        • Joe

          We can argue about when the Gospels were written and whether they may have used even earlier material such as Q. And what these unknown materials may have contained. But it is not only the Gospels. Paul also talks of witnesses.
          1st Corinthians 15
          “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

          This letter is often dated 53-58 ad so about 20-25 years after Christs death.

        • 500 eyewitnesses? Been there, slapped that one silly.

        • Joe

          Whether or not your “slapped that one silly” is debatable.
          But it should not be debatable that at least Paul *claims* to have met witnesses. Would you agree?

        • But it should not be debatable that the word “hot” has the letter o in it.

          I applaud any search for common ground, but this seems to be a change in subject to show that your argument hasn’t been completely eroded. Let’s focus on one thing at a time–you raised the topic, after all.

          it should not be debatable that at least Paul *claims* to have met witnesses. Would you agree?

          Nope. Read the passage again. Paul is simply passing along juicy gossip. There’s not even a first-hand claim here.

        • Joe

          You deny that Paul claims to have seen Peter?

        • I deny Paul claims to have met eyewitnesses in 1 cor. 15:3-8, the passage that has the “500 eyewitnesses” claim.

          I don’t know my epistles well enough to have an opinion about Paul and Peter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul spent three years running about evangelising after his try pad to Damascus epiphany before ending up in Jerusalem where he met a Peter. This Peter he met doesn’t seem to have filled Paul in on the extraordinary details we are offered in the much later gospel accounts of Jesus. Somewhat strange methinks.

          Seems probable that Paul spoke with a fellow apostle called Peter in the big smoke, a fellow alleged “seer” who later became elevated to “thee” Peter of important gospel fame.

        • So much of the story is suspect. Take his early history, for example, when he was prosecuting Christians. It’s not inconceivable that his evil was magnified with the retelling so that his conversion was even more magnificent.

        • MR

          That would explain the different versions of his conversion. Dude couldn’t keep his story straight.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed. What Paul says about himself is all we have. Why folk can’t believe he would make shit up is beyond me, it was all the rage back then, as it is now.

        • Paul could’ve indeed made up shit to make his own story cooler. Or he could’ve honestly told it wrong, given how bad our own memories are. Or later Christians could’ve embellished the story. Or the oral story could’ve gotten embellished with the retelling, with no deliberate deception.

          Or some combination of the above. The result is a soggy argument that won’t support any interesting conclusion with certainty.

        • MR

          It’s like a history test where you have five plausible choices for “How Scotland gained independence from England” and one giveaway answer the professor throws in as a joke, and they choose:

          f) The Loch Ness Sea Monster devoured the English army

        • Joe

          Yes Paul claimed to have met Peter in his epistles. You see Peter mentioned as Cephas in this passage. Did you know Peter is Cephas?

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+1%3A18-20&version=NIV

          Paul claimed to see both Peter and James both are specifically mentioned in your passage.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We all know Peter is Cephas…like I’m Paul in English, Pablo in Spanish, Paulos in Greek, Pavel in Russian and Pàl in Scots Gaelic…so what? Your point is?

          Paul claimed to see both Peter and James both are specifically mentioned in your passage.

          Yes he did. But he never says they “seen” Jesus any differently than how he did, via revelation. It is the gospels mention of Peter the disciple that is interpreted as the Cephas of Paul’s letter’s. There is nothing to associate the two other than wishful thing of the gospel writers. Nothing of the gospel Peter and his journey with the Jesus character in the gospels is mentioned in Paul, nothing, not a soundbite. Even when such data would support Paul’s mission, he knows nothing of Jesus’ alleged earthly mission described decades later in the gospels. Extraordinary in the extreme. There is no disciples in all of the Pauline corpus, either the genuine, or the forged, just apostles, again, strange don’t ya think?

        • Super. And the “500 eyewitnesses” claim still fails.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Peter who? Which Peter?

        • MNb

          Yes, like I claim to have met witnesses of the fairies in my backyard, tending the flowers. Would you agree?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…and I haven’t been to Bob’s link…YET.

          Paul doesn’t say the 500 hundred are witnesses.
          Read what he says…

          15 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,[a] of the good news[b] that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

          3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

          See that? He appeared to Cephas, then the twelve, then to 500, then to James, then to all apostles, whoever they may have been, then finally to the author, Paul…we know Paul was not an eyewitness to the risen Jesus, he says so many times throughout his letters….soooo, what differentiates Paul’s vision of Jesus and the alleged 500? Why one and not the rest, especially when the words are not there?

          Paul goes on to say…

          12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died[e] in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

          This is a major issue for the cult. Of course Paul did not mean an earthly Ressurection, but in the celestial realm, like many a demigod of antiquity, but by the time the gospel writers were inventing their yarns, the whole apocraphyl scenario was starting to unravel. The cult needed a man on earth figure, not the phantom of docetism, not a pie in the sky saviour, but something tangible that the minions could rally round. Do we get all the bell’s and whistle’s embellishments of the gospel writer’s in an attempt to place a ficticious character in the real world for full effect a la Romulus for example.

        • Pofarmer

          There is a range of datings on Mark. According to EarlyChristianwritings.com the accepted range is from 60-80 A.D. Obviously, apologists try to push it earlier, but most scholars accept that it was after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple.

        • MNb

          Yeah, like I talk about five hundred witnesses of the fairies in my backyard, tending the flowers there.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul never reference’s an earthly Christ. Something like six ambiguous statements by Paul in over 10,000 words are used to tie Paul down to an earth walking Jesus. But it is all the stuff Paul omitted that should be of concern to the apologist.

    • Why do you say the early proselytizers were likely not witnesses?

      The burden of proof is on the person making the claim that they’re eyewitnesses, and there’s very little to support that claim. It’s little more than tradition.

      • Joe

        Ok so you think someones failure to prove to you that they were witnesses gives your sufficient reason to claim the opposite. E.i. to say this:

        “[Early Prosylitizers] would likely have been, like the 9/11 hijackers, true believers who believed a story but didn’t witness the history claimed to back it up.”

        I believe you are falling for the fallacy of arguing from ignorance.

        http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/54-argument-from-ignorance

        Time and again I see people rely on this vague notion that other people need to shoulder some ill-defined intellectual “burden of proof” leads them to this fallacious way of thinking. I would encourage you to stop thinking that others have some vague philosophical burden of proof. I give my reasons here if you are interested:

        http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/26/the-burden-of-proof-versus-the-flying-spaghetti-monster-part-22/

        • Instead of the clear thinking lecture, point out errors.

          Could the gospels be eyewitness accounts? Could be. The burden is on the person making that claim.

          We don’t even know who wrote them. That’s a big pile of confusion to wade through for the Christian who confidently states that the authors were eyewitnesses.

        • Joe

          “The burden is on the person making that claim.”
          You realize this itself is a claim right? Its also a claim I dispute. There is no burden of proof. Perhaps you could not meet your burden and prove the quoted claim above.

        • Kodie

          Christians make a claim.
          Atheists do not believe this claim.
          Christians do not have evidence to support this claim.
          Atheists are not convinced by the Christians’ arguments.
          Christians say we must believe them anyway.
          Some Christians use threats.
          Many Christians say we have to follow biblical law as they interpret it.

          But we’re not convinced.
          The case is not compelling.
          How can we say there is a god if there is no proof? How can we be forced to follow these laws, or why must we be forced to go along even if we don’t believe? In your magical super dude invisible friend?

          You’re not picky about evidence, because you don’t have it. Your argument is you dismiss claims because they “just sound made up” to you. Guess what.

          If you want to die for a lie, then go ahead, but don’t argue that we must lower the standard of evidence to “some asshole on the internet boldly states these delusions and superstitions are true and reasonable?” If you have truth, then you know why it’s true; if you have reasonableness, then you have TO STATE YOUR REASONS. If you say you don’t, then we don’t believe your claims to truth or reasonableness on your claim. If you want us to believe you, guess what you have the burden of?

          If you don’t care if we believe you, that’s different, but then you’re just here blowing farts.

        • The burden of proof applies in situations where there can be no draw. I don’t see how your attempt at making the claim self-refuting works since this isn’t one of those situations.

          If you’re determined to reject the concept of the burden of proof, I guess there’s not much I can do. That’ll just make it harder for us to communicate.

          When someone has an incredible claim–say, “I just saw a unicorn”–are you saying that you respond any differently than I do? That you’re convinced (or not) any differently?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The gospels are not eyewitness accounts. They are not even accounts of accounts of accounts of eyewitnesses, nor do they claim to be.

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

          Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a leading scholar in his field, having written and edited over 25 books, including three college textbooks, and has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring five New York Times best sellers. Ehrman’s work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of early Christianity.

        • Joe

          I did not claim the gospel authors were eyewitnesses.

          As for Bart Ehrman’s views I am familiar with them as I listened to a couple of his courses and read several of his books. I am sorry I don’t have time to watch an hour and a half you tube video.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          I did not claim the gospel authors were eyewitnesses.

          Good. So who are these early Christian proselytizers that were convinced of Jesus existence enough to allow themselves to get persecuted and martyred?

          And what makes them any different from other religious adherents prepared to do the same? History is replete with examples, before and after Christianity. Why are you so defensive of your particular faith. What is it that you know that makes you certain that Christians were not martyred for believing a lie?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am sorry I don’t have time to watch an hour and a half you tube video.

          Not much to be said then. You just know you are right because you think you know you are right. With such arrogance, you are mentally screwed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve just been to your blog. Quite frankly, I don’t see your point.

          Basically, you are saying that everyone is entitled to believe what ever nonsense they deem fit and need not defend their hypothesis. This of course is true. But then there is no debate, so why are you here? It makes no sense. There isn’t an atheist I know who would contest a persons freedom to believe whatever batshit crazy notion that pops into the head. But if they want to assert those ridiculous notions in conversation, then they will need something more convincing than, “I believe it, and that is good enough”…to which the retort is, “Okay, then piss off with your nonsense, I have no reason to believe it based on my current knowledge”…just like you and the funky looking platypus you disregard.

          You wax lyrical about all sorts of stuff such as philosophy, logic, reason, etc., but I’m struggling to find any of it in your comments. I was flabbergasted when Kodie mentioned your profession as a lawyer. For someone with the position you take on evidence and proof, I wouldn’t want you in my corner.

          Prosecution: Your client is guilty.

          You: Why?

          Prosecution: Because I say so.

          You: Well that’s okay then.

          Judge: Take him down.

          You: Work away there…that was a quick and nice little earner…next!

          When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. An argument from ignorance occurs when either a proposition is assumed to be true because it has not yet been proved false or a proposition is assumed to be false because it has not yet been proved true. This has the effect of shifting the burden of proof to the person criticizing the proposition, but is not valid reasoning.

          This is not how you are defining the fallacy from ignorance which you are playing fast and loose with here.

          The philosophical burden of proof or onus (probandi) is the obligation on a party in an epistemic dispute to provide sufficient warrant for their position.

          That is the philosophical burden of proof that we are all playing by. If you want to make up your own definition in order to save your personal cognitive dissonance, or to redeem your confirmation bias, go ahead, but you will find it a struggle in rational discourse.

          While certain kinds of arguments, such as logical syllogisms, require mathematical or strictly logical proofs, the standard for evidence to meet the burden of proof is usually determined by context and community standards.

          The context and community standards in this case being, the more extraordinary the claim being made, the more extraordinary the evidence needed to satisfy the veracity of the assertion.

          Example:

          I drive a car to work = readily believable, not extraordinary at all. No particularly special skills required. Millions do it every day. No evidence necessary.

          I drive a Bugatti Veyron to work every day = questionable, somewhat extraordinary. Some special skills required to own a million dollar high performance sports car. Not all that many exist. Some mediocre evidence required.

          I drive an intergalactic time machine to work every day = hyper extraordinary, based on current knowledge, a batsht crazy assertion. No such thing as an intergalactic time machine is known to exist. Nothing short of a jaunt through time will be convincing enough evidence, therefore everyone is at liberty to consider that assertion as the musings of a lunatic requiring committal to an institute.

          That is how it works. We all use a built in sliding scale based on our knowledge of the world to decide what would suffice. If you choose not to play by the rules, then don’t expect anything short of disdain.

        • And your series of increasingly extraordinary commuting claims has a final one: God plops me at my desk by magic.

          A time machine is indeed an extraordinary claim, but it’s technology. We have myriad examples of technology that does cool stuff. Admittedly, we don’t have this particular piece of gear yet and indeed we may never have. But it’s just technology, a bin with which we’re quite familiar.

          The supernatural and magic, by contrast, has zero claims that are universally accepted as true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All very true Bob, but remember, I am talking to a mindset that finds nothing extraordinary about god claims.

          A god claim to a believer is as common as commuting to work in a compact, as they say in the states. No evidence required.

          Technology, or to be more precise, the science behind technology, really fucks them up.Science is to the believer as supernatural woo woo is to the rational thinker.

          How many times has it been explained to the holy roller that has dismissed the quantum world as science woo, that without it, the computer they use would not function? The average bat shit talking snake believer has no problem using technology, but the “mystery” behind how it operates really baffles them to the point the fingers go in the ears and the la la la tra la chorus begins.

          Don’t even get me started on the knuckle dragging scrapings at the bottom of the woo woo barrel that are the YEC and IDers.

          But, ultimately, for all the lurkers, “God plops me at my desk by magic” rounds the series of nicely, thanks.

        • 90Lew90

          There’s nothing “vague” or “ill-defined” about the burden of proof, which applies in law as well as in philosophy and science. It’s a very simple rule of fairness ensuring the integrity of a claim. An accused person is innocent until proven guilty. The accuser making the positive claim — “this happened” — must prove that was the case before the accused can be deemed guilty. Similarly with religious claims, the religious person saying “this happened” finds the burden of proof resting upon him. The discussion goes no farther until some evidence is advanced to support the claim. None has ever been forthcoming, so it is only reasonable for an impartial onlooker to reject the claim. It’s as simple as that. It’s not “vague”, “ill-defined” or in any way obscure. It’s a simple principle put into effect in all manner of disputes, major and minor, every single day.

  • Joe

    On the whole pretty few cases of people dying for a lie over the past 2000 years.

    Obviously spies who die rather than reveal who they are are not dying for the lie. They may be dying without telling simply because they know they will be killed either way. Not so with someone who is considering becoming Christian right after Christ was crucified.

    As for your last point I think you make a good case for the legitimacy of the beliefs. The fact that they could not just recant meant they would not become Christian without good evidence it was legitimate.

    • Pofarmer

      Are you kidding me? Allmthe Japanes soldiers who died needlessly because they thought the emperor was a God? All the Germans who died believing in the final solution? All the Rednecks killed or injured after muttering “Here, hold my beer!” Hell, I’d say it’s probably more likely than not you’ll die for a lie.

      • Joe

        These examples are pretty vague. Are you suggesting that every German who died in WW2 believed in the final solution?

        The second problem with your examples is that these people believed the lie. So they did not think they were dying for a lie. With early Christians close in time to the Crucifixion we would think that they would ask for more evidence of the resurrection since they were closer in time to the event.

        • adam

          Are you suggesting that no German who died in WW2 believed in the final solution?

          “The second problem with your examples is that these people believed the lie.”

          They STILL died for a LIE.

        • Joe

          No one disputes that people die for a lie. You miss the impact of the argument if you think that is all there is too it.

        • adam

          Truly I do miss the impact of the argument, explain it to me.

          Just because people have been deceived or self-deluded makes no difference in the lie.

        • Joe

          see what I said above in answer to philmonomer.

        • Philmonomer

          You miss the impact of the argument if you think that is all there is too it.

          I, too, am wondering what you mean by this.

          In any case, doesn’t the example of Mormonism refute “who would die for a lie,” 500 eyewitnesses, and it-must-have-been-true-based-on-the-earliest-disciples actions? All of the first converts to Mormonism were clearly believing lies, and yet it didn’t stop Mormonism. Mormonism now has about 15 million people. (Amazing growth too. Almost…supernatural?)

        • Joe

          I am not that familiar with the history of Mormonism. It is possible they might have an argument similar to this one here.

          The argument is simply that if a person has not much to gain from claiming something is true, and allot to lose by claiming something is true then we are more likely to find the claim credible.

          It doesn’t mean that these claims are always true. Whether it be Mormons or early Christians.

        • I’ve shown how the Mormon claims are far more plausible than Christianity’s here. Point is: if you reject Mormonism’s claims as being ridiculous (I certainly do), how can you accept Christianity’s historic claims when they’re so much weaker?

        • Joe

          I thought Mormons believed most everything in Christian scripture and then more. Logically that would seem harder to prove wouldn’t it?

        • They’ll wiggle out of problems somehow, but I’d imagine that they’d think that the conventional Bible was corrupted and that any errors or contradictions with the Book of Mormon was its fault.

          Anyway, consider the thought experiment of just the Mormon claims vs. the Christian gospel claims. The point is that the Mormon claims have far, far better evidential support. And yet they’re still bullshit. How then can someone reject Mormon’s claims but accept those of Christianity?

        • Philmonomer

          I am not that familiar with the history of Mormonism. It is possible they might have an argument similar to this one here.

          You should check out the history of Mormonism. (Who knows, maybe you’ll convert? 😉 )

          The argument is simply that if a person has not much to gain from claiming something is true, and allot to lose by claiming something is true then we are more likely to find the claim credible.

          Again, under this logic, Mormonism is pretty darn credible. More so than Christianity.

          It doesn’t mean that these claims are always true. Whether it be Mormons or early Christians.

          Yes. It is possible that both claims are true, one claim is true, or neither claim is true. Which seems the most likely to you? (I put my money on 3).

        • MNb

          Then your argument still fails. Those christians thought they had a lot to gain from claiming their belief system were true: a ticket to Heaven.

        • Kodie

          There are 3 ways:

          Something is true AND worth dying for.

          People believe something sincerely AND voluntarily die for it.

          Something isn’t true AND anyone with sense would back out if their life was on the line.

          You are conflating truth and sincere belief. If a person claims something is true, and are willing to die rather than recant, even if they don’t have anything to gain, how does that add credibility to the claim that that thing is true? The only conclusion we can make is that they probably were sincere in their belief that it is true, and we know from examples given that beliefs are easy.

        • MNb

          Unlike Phil underneath I am not wondering what you mean by this. The impact of the argument is based on the assumption that christianity is true, which makes the argument so powerful, which shows that christianity is true. Special pleading or circular argument, pick your choice. Perhaps both.

        • Pofarmer

          “With early Christians close in time to the Crucifixion we would think
          that they would ask for more evidence of the resurrection since they
          were closer in time to the event.”

          Actually not. Supernatural claims were common in that time and wouldn’t be any more possible to verify then than they are now. Getting information from even a moderate distance away would have been difficult. Richard Carrier deals with this extensively in “Not the impossible faith.”

          “Are you suggesting that every German who died in WW2 believed in the final solution?”

          I actually think that the Japanese are a better example. The Marines who took Iwo Jima reported that the Japanese were grenading themselves in their bunkers. They had not only been taught that the Americans were monsters, but that they had failed the Emperor, who was their God. You see, you don’t need to know it’s a lie for it to, nevertheless, be a lie.

        • Other extreme cases are the Japanese soldiers, cut off on remote islands. Some of the final holdouts were only captured/discovered in the 1970s.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_holdout

        • Joe

          Yes I am familiar with Richard Carrier and his endless energy at spitting out all sorts of anti-christian arguments. Not everything he says is without merit but I do not think even he makes an attempt to sort through whether they are good or bad arguments. If they support his over all case he will spit it out. What is the case that seems to drive his very being? Christianity is the worst thing in the world.

          “You see, you don’t need to know it’s a lie for it to, nevertheless, be a lie.”

          I agree, but that is not the issue. The question is whether people will die for what they know is a lie. The Japanese did not think their beliefs were lies. E.g., Peter would have known as would several other early Christians? How many? I don’t know. Paul says over 500 Christians saw the risen Jesus. But if you are not going to say his account is any evidence then I am not sure I will be able to give you anything you consider evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          “then I am not sure I will be able to give you anything you consider evidence.”

          And therein lies the problem. Maybe some time with Matthew Ferguson would clear some things up. https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/

        • Joe

          I skimmed through the lengthy finger pointing of who was rude to whom only to find an argument about the “ancient documents” rule. I am not sure what your point is.

        • Pofarmer

          The Ross Clifford post is irrelevant. What is relevant is that there is a wealth of information on there about historical sources and historical documents.

        • Joe

          Ok yes of course there is a wealth of information. Do you agree *some* of it is evidence for Christianity?

        • Pofarmer

          There is evidence OF Christianity. Not sure the evidence for Christianity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes I am familiar with Richard Carrier and his endless energy at spitting out all sorts of anti-christian arguments. Not everything he says is without merit but I do not think even he makes an attempt to sort through whether they are good or bad arguments. If they support his over all case he will spit it out. What is the case that seems to drive his very being? Christianity is the worst thing in the world.

          You can, of course, support those assertions and ad hominems with citation and evidence?

          Peter would have known as would several other early Christians?

          How would anyone have known? What other early Christian’s? Did Peter exist?

          How many? I don’t know.

          You just know it was some? Must’ve been.

          Ever hear about a guy called Ned Ludd? Or another geezer called John Frum?

          Early Muslims followed and died for Islam. They never met Mo or Allah or Jibril…they just believed they were real because someone told them so. Many still do.

          Paul says over 500 Christians saw the risen Jesus.

          And Paul wouldn’t make shit up, would he?

          Paul never says that 500 saw the risen Jesus in the flesh. He never mentions meeting anyone who knew Jesus personally or having seen Jesus other than he and the other apostles knew Jesus, through scripture and revelation.

          Paul was writing to the Galatians. He was writing to a church that had no way of verifying what he said. Was he using this ad populum approach to give credence to his own visions? He never gives a single name to even one of the 500. No, the 500, some of whom are still living, no names, seen the risen Jesus in the same manner as the other apostles, of which Paul is the last.

          Now here is the rub. No gospel mentions the 500, or even a 400, or a 300…nope…strange don’t ya think. I mean, such an extraordinary event does not warrant a single mention even though, had it been common knowledge, would have been massive.

          But let’s just say Paul did intend it to mean 500 folk saw the risen Jesus in the flesh. So what? Why should any credibility be given to his account? It is hearsay at best. Lies at worst. But it could also just be an interpolation to lend a bit of jazz to Paul’s letter by a later scribe.

          But if you are not going to say his account is any evidence then I am not sure I will be able to give you anything you consider evidence.

          Is it evidence though? Really? All sorts of things are possible, but what is the most probable, given a rational approach to all the data concerning the mysterious tale of the 500 witnesses?

          “To judge from the Gospels, it would seem that the activities of the risen Jesus during the forty days after he died included: one breakfast; one and a half dinners; one brief meeting in a cemetery (in fact with his clothes off); two walks through the countryside; at least seven conversations …

          “It is clear that the scriptural stories about this six-week period contradict one another egregiously with regard to the number and places of Jesus’ appearances, the people who were on hand for such events, and even the date and the location of the ascension into heaven.”

          – T. Sheehan (The First Coming, p95,7)

        • Joe

          “Did Peter exist?”

          I suppose that is an open question if you want to turn a blind eye to all the accounts various accounts from various authors that he did.

          “Paul never says that 500 saw the risen Jesus in the flesh. He never mentions meeting anyone who knew Jesus personally or having seen Jesus other than he and the other apostles knew Jesus, through scripture and revelation.”
          Paul mentions meeting people who knew Jesus like Peter. Why does the fact that Christians consider this account scripture somehow mean you have to give it no credibility? If we didn’t consider it scripture would it be evidence?

        • Pofarmer

          Which authors attest to Peters exostence? Paul talks about a Cephas and James. Neither one of them apparently personally knew Jesus. Paul says that Jesus was revealed to Cephas and James and the other apostles in the same way that he was revealed to Paul, aka, revelations and scripture. Theres no indications in Pauls wrotings anybody actually knew the in the flesh Jesus.

        • MNb

          “Are you suggesting that every German who died in WW2 believed in the final solution?”
          All SSers believed in racial superiority.
          Good job showing that your argument is based on special pleading. “Christians would ask for more evidence, but SSers not.”
          Yeah.

        • Joe

          Ok you know the beliefs of every SSer? Becoming an sser bestowed certain privileges.

        • MNb

          Do you know the beliefs of every single early christian? Becoming a christian bestowed certain advantages in the First Century.
          Sorry, Notsotrueandreasonable, everything you bring up against SSers I can bring up against early christians.
          Because they all believed in something that might very well have been a lie.
          So I’m not surprised you have neglected my comment underneath:

          Those christians thought they had a lot to gain from claiming their belief system were true: a ticket to Heaven.
          Just like those SSers had things to gain from their racism.

        • Kodie

          Why would you assume they had any more information than you do? You were given modern examples, dismissed them, and think there’s still some reason to validate your beliefs, yours are somehow “different”. Everyone else might die for a lie, but not yours.

          The second problem with your examples is that these people believed the lie.

          Now you’re starting to make sense, but I bet you still won’t see it.

        • Pofarmer

          Surely he’s not engaging in special pleading?

    • You’re not engaging with the argument. The only responses I have are already in the post.

      • Joe

        You say the fact that Christians might not be able to recant at the last minute to save their lives suggests that they might have become Christians even though they knew Christianity was a lie. I think it’s the opposite.

        The threat of death would have deterred them right from the start unless they had very good reason to accept Christianity.

        In short what you think is evidence of one thing I argue is evidence of an opposite conclusion.

        In any case the it is unclear factually how this was in the very early church. In later times in the Roman empire it seems Christians could recant and then save themselves. Some did and some didn’t. This is the how this issue of Donatism arose.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatism

        • Dys

          Plenty of cults start the exact same way. And when you get right down to it, Christianity started out as a Jewish cult.

          Dying for your beliefs has absolutely no bearing on whether those beliefs are true or not. Just as being persecuted for those beliefs provides no indication of their truth value. To insist otherwise inevitably leads to special pleading, where only one’s preferred religion is allowed, and any others are excluded (usually under the pretense of ‘well obviously those other religions are wrong).

        • Right. The Christian argument here is talking about the (supposed) first generation of disciples, the ones who got it from the mouth of Jesus, saw the miracles firsthand, and so on, but their existence is precisely what is under debate. Were there any eyewitnesses to Jesus miracles? We need a lot of proof of that remarkable claim.

          Obviously, there were early Christians who believed just like modern Christians believe–they were told amazing stories that they found compelling. Whether that was built on anything historical is the question at hand.

        • Dys

          Right I get that. But then they have the Mormon problem. Plenty of more recent witnesses, none of whom recanted. And they were definitely persecuted for those beliefs. It’s the same old problem where conviction of beliefs having nothing to do with whether those beliefs are true or not. And I don’t really see trueandreasonable dealing with the issue, but instead concentrating on persecution for belief as some type of litmus test.

        • adam

          It IS a litmus test to them, that is why they wallow in it.

          2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

          http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/the-evangelical-persecution-complex/375506/

        • Ignorant Amos

          2 Timothy is a forgery…or pseudonymous. But the holy roller won’t know that, so carry on Sir.

        • adam

          Much of the bible is a forgery….

        • Ignorant Amos

          Very true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This is also true.

        • Joe

          “We need a lot of proof of that remarkable claim.”

          By “we” you mean you and your other anti-theists. You see we are getting back to this ill-defined burden of proof you claim I have.

          How much evidence is “a lot”? Who knows? But I am sure you would like me to keep shooting at a moving target. Sorry I won’t do that.

          I can give you my reasons why I believe. You might not personally find them convincing. But unless you actually engage the reasoning I will not know whether your lack of conviction has more to do with your or the reasoning.

        • we are getting back to this ill-defined burden of proof you claim I have.

          You make the claim? You have the burden of proof.

          Defined well enough now?

          How much evidence is “a lot”? Who knows? But I am sure you would like me to keep shooting at a moving target. Sorry I won’t do that.

          Curses! As I was twirling my moustache here, I was hoping I could suck you into the neither-bottomless-nor-endless Evidence Vortex where you would provide some evidence for your claims. But you’re too darn smart for me.

          I can give you my reasons why I believe.

          We seem to be jumping around a lot, with you suggesting something, me and other commenters responding, and then you moving on to something else. But sure, hearing the top reason or two why you believe (or that you think would be convincing to an atheist) would be interesting.

        • Joe

          You haven’t defined the “burden of proof” at all. You just claimed I have it whatever it is.

          I write my reasons on my blog, if you are interested in reading them. Its fine if you are not.

          I agree it might be better to take one step at a time. Here are my reasons for thinking you are misguided in relying so heavily on a burden of proof in how you look at the world.

          http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/26/the-burden-of-proof-versus-the-flying-spaghetti-monster-part-22/

          That post not only gives my reasons but asks questions of those who propose there is a burden of proof. Maybe you could give me some answers. You after all raised this burden of proof issue.

        • If you want to talk about subtleties in the burden of proof that aren’t obvious, that’d be helpful. But it sounds like I’m bringing up this crazy idea from left field, and you’re condescending to allow me to continue. Perhaps I might amuse you.

          I’d have thought that we’d all be on the same page with where it applies.

          I’ll try to get to your post soon.

        • Joe

          The notion of a philosophical burden of proof is not as well established as many atheists like to think.
          If it were we would see allot more of them easily answering the questions in my post. And they would also answer them the same way. Instead we see that concept is very ill-defined and not so easy to defend.
          One of the main reasons I like to point that out is because I think it allows people to loosen their grip and think for themselves. I don’t have any burden to prove anything to you. You don’t have any burden to me. No one has anything to lose in just being rational. So why not just talk about these issues without pretending there is some sort of battle going on. I think once people drop the idea that they are shouldering some sort of “burden” they are less uptight about these issues. IMO that’s more than half the battle to getting people to think rationally.

        • The burden of proof is applicable in situations where there are no ties.

          I can’t even imagine that dropping the idea of burden of proof would get people to think rationally if they’re not motivated/able to do it otherwise.

        • Kodie

          This appears to be someone trying to prove uncertainty avoidance again, only this one claims to be a LAWYER. A lawyer who feels it’s only rational to let down the guard of demanding the claim be supported by evidence, it’s only the way to reach the “rational” conclusion that something that can’t be supported by evidence has to be true, or at least can be true anyway. It’s our stubborn way to demand evidence for something if it’s hard to believe. I just looooooove these Christians sneaking out of having to show something they don’t have. So creative. When will they understand this is strictly for dummies?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Lawyer my arse!

        • Susan

          Lawyer my arse!

          ‘T’s why I love ya, IA. 🙂

        • Kodie

          He could be a lawyer. Nothing against lawyers, but his blog uses all the weaselly arguments a lawyer might employ to defend their guilty client from a certain conviction by seeding emotional doubts to throw a jury off-balance. Jurors are not cold clinical analysts of the evidence, they are peers of the defendant, regular people, and lawyers are not in business to demonstrate the truth, they are in business to persuade people what they want them to think and win a case. Yet, he should be able to recognize, especially when it’s pointed out several times, the huge difference between something being true and someone being convinced that it is true, since that is his business.

          His standards do change depending on what is being presented – some things “just seem made up” and he is not going to believe it, so he is not going to bother requesting evidence for the claims. But we’re told our immortal souls are in peril and we need to obey laws of their superstition even if they seem made up to us. To a Christian, we’re just supposed to agree there’s a god like they want, without any reason to, just because they decided it’s best. When he dismisses a ridiculous claim, nobody is holding him hostage, and there are no social consequences of disbelieving them. There are no social consequences to him if he is not a Muslim, Mormon, or Buddhist, nor are there any if he disbelieves in Bigfoot or the multi-colored alien platypus or fairies. It seems like the predominant Christian belief is that their beliefs are harmless and nobody should criticize them if we don’t believe them. We can’t ask for more evidence because they’ve run out. They tried using the bible as a historical document, eyewitness testimony, and what more could we want???? If that’s not enough, they don’t have any more.

          On one of his blogs, he uses Islam for example – there’s more than zero evidence for Islam, but he has to choose one, so he chooses Christianity. He doesn’t have to choose any! If Islam has as much evidence as it takes Christianity to convince him of it but conflicts with it, then that’s evidence that they’re stories. If Islam can make up stories that one does not find as emotionally compelling as Christianity, then why would you assume Christianity is true instead of also made up? If doubt about Christianity can be sown among Muslims convincingly, then that is evidence that doubt can be sown, and you might hesitate to believe it. If the miracle stories in the bible are more evidence than zero, and offer the slightest credibility to the religion above those stories not existing, then contradictions just add more evidence to weigh regarding the truth of that religion. You can’t just choose evidence that supports it and ignore evidence that denies it, if you are honest.

          I’m not going to say he’s definitely not a lawyer yet.

        • Reminds me of a Cheech and Chong comedy bit where an inept lawyer concludes with “judge not lest ye be judged” to the jury.

        • Joe

          “He could be a lawyer. Nothing against lawyers, but his blog uses all the weaselly arguments a lawyer might employ…”

          You get an upvote for making me chuckle.

          Sadly I have to get back to lawyering.

          Ill just say my adoption of Christianity is not due to one thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well you must’ve hit it on the nail Kodie as he has upvoted your comment, which in and of itself is very interesting.

        • MNb

          “The notion of a philosophical burden of proof is not as well established as many atheists like to think.”
          Thanks. You just gave me permission to stick to the (immaterial) fairies in my backyard plus the Invisible Dragon in my garage plus Russell’s Teapot.

        • Joe

          Were you waiting for permission from me? You keep thinking I am saying the opposite of what I am actually saying. Your obligations in forming your own beliefs really has nothing to do with me.

          You are like the people who argue that if there is no morals everything is morally permitted. But that is not what moral error theorists say. They say nothing is morally permitted and nothing is morally prohibited.

        • Pofarmer

          What we see, is that you don’t think you should have to provide evidence for your beliefs.

        • Joe

          Right I don’t. I am entitled to my beliefs you are entitled to yours. You do not have to produce evidence to me of your beliefs.
          In what sense do you think I “have” to provide evidence for my beliefs?

          BTW: I do give reasons for my beliefs. I think its good to do that so that they can be examined and for other reasons. But saying I have to is a bit much.

        • Dys

          In what sense do you think I “have” to provide evidence for my beliefs?

          You don’t, as long as you’re not trying to convince anyone, or expect people to take you or your claims seriously.

          However, as soon as you start making claims, and then refuse to substantiate them, especially in this type of environment, it is implied that you are, in fact, making an argument in support of your claims Which necessarily levies a burden of proof on you. Otherwise, why did you bother?

        • Kodie

          It depends on if you need me to believe you. I’ve said this twice now, and others have as well- if you don’t care what anyone else believes, what is your purpose? Are you just another Christian offended by criticism of your beliefs? You’re tired of having to stand up for a fantasy, you just want to be left alone? Do you also stand up to Christians who would force their archaic and superstitious laws on us, whether we believe in god or not? Should they be able to without providing evidence of their god, or is it just enough that we should accept this lot of dummies’ say-so that we should obey their god just in case? If you’re not trying to convince anyone to believe in god, then you must have another reason for being here. If your purpose is defending the Christian privilege to be ridiculous and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, then you’re being quite dishonest, which is why I don’t doubt you’re a lawyer, unlike many Christians who claim to have some profession they’re clearly too irresponsible to have.

        • Pofarmer

          If you have given a reason for your beliefs here, I have apparently missed it. You don’t have to provide evidence of your beliefs at all unless you want me to accept them. “What is provided without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence.” So, if you expect me to take any of your claims seriously, evidence is a requirement.

        • Susan

          The notion of a philosophical burden of proof is not as well established as many atheists like to think.

          When did that happen?

          I read your blog article. Your first point uses the same strategy as “Can you provide evidence that demonstrates the requirement of evidence?”

          Your second point is a strawman that has nothing to do with the burden of proof.

          So, the burden of proof is not well established because you wrote an article about it? The article deserves a fisking and it’s not worth the energy.

          Make you case here if you can. I’ve read enough of your blog.

          No one has anything to lose in just being rational.

          What do you mean by rational? Please be specific.

          I think once people drop the idea that they are shouldering some sort of “burden” they are less uptight about these issues allowed to make any claim they like and expect it to be taken seriously.

        • Joe

          I ask if the notion of the burden of proof is self defeating. And so far it appears it is.

          I am not sure how you are numbering the various points I make so I have no clue where you think I make a strawman argument.

          I don’t think the burden of proof is well established because it is almost exclusively talked about in one area (atheist v theist) and has never been fully spelled out what exactly it means.

          I am not aware of much discussion of it until the 20th century in the philosophical literature. But if it was dealt with in any depth before then let me know.

          By rational I mean this:

          http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/05/true-and-rational/

        • Sure seems to me that “burden of proof” is a widely accepted concept through human interaction, not just in atheist vs. believer. But perhaps we travel in different circles.

        • Susan

          I ask if the burden of proof is self-defeating. And so far it appears it is.

          I take this is as seriously as I take your statements “On the whole, pretty few people dying for a lie over the last 2000 years.” and “I think most scholars agree that if making a claim is against your personal interests then it is given more credibility.”

          You’ve defended none of these statements.

          Why is the burden of proof self-defeating?

          I read your link about “rational”. You could certainly condense that into something that fits in a combox. I asked you to make your argument here. I’m not going to copy/paste excerpts from your blog in order to address them.

        • Dys

          Why is the burden of proof self-defeating?

          Because it’s much easier for him to just make assertions. Backing them up with anything substantial is too much a burden.

          On a related note, am I the only one slightly scared by the notion of a professed lawyer who has such an incredibly poor understanding of what the burden of proof entails?

        • Susan

          Because it’s much easier for him to just make assertions.

          I agree. If you can’t meet the burden, undermine its value.

          However, trueandreasonable claims it’s been undermined. I’m asking trueandreasonable to make that argument here in a combox and to support it.

          I’m not taking on extra work to increase trueandreasonable’s blog traffic.

          am I the only one slightly scared by the notion of a professed lawyer who has such an incredibly poor understanding of what the burden of proof entails?

          Or such a good understanding that they know the only way they can avoid having their case summarily dismissed is to convince themselves and others that the burden of proof isn’t relevant.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think you understand fallacious arguments-at all.

        • adam

          Though he does seem to put a lot into making them.

        • adam

          In conclusion:

          “Believing that you are somehow epistemologically justified in continuing to hold your beliefs so long as you decide some other person did not meet some imagined burden of
          proof is a poor way to go through life. ”

          Definition of EPISTEMOLOGY

          : the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity – Merriam Webster.

          So, if you study nature and our knowledge of it and find no cause to believe in the supernatural, THAT is a poor way to go through life?

          Are you kidding?
          We should rely on ‘wishful thinking’ to determine our world view and views of nature?

          “I think it is intellectually more healthy to place the burden on ourselves to investigate any sort of important question. Don’t try to pass that off on others.”
          http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/26/the-burden-of-proof-versus-the-flying-spaghetti-monster-part-22/

          What you seem to fail to realize that we have been intellectually healthy and investigated these questions and find them grossly wanting and lack of sufficient evidence to belief them to be true.

        • I read the post. I had a dozen complaints. Too much to write. Sorry I can’t offer a more helpful critique.

        • adam

          Are you sure it wasn’t 16 complaints?

        • Tom G. has a pretty sharp eye. I’m not sure I can keep up with him.

        • Joe

          Its true there are only so many hours in the day. But I was hoping you would be able to pop off at least a few answers to the questions I asked.
          I say this because it seems many atheists separate themselves from other philosophers and intellectuals due to this feeling that they are entitled to demand others spoon feed them the truth in a way they accept. First certain atheists claim there is no evidence. And then the evidence isn’t strong enough and then eventually they need “extraordinary evidence.” These busy days who has time for that?

        • We seem to have a different view of the burden of proof, how it works, and what it’s good for.

          It’s useful in domains where there is no tie. In courtrooms, there is either guilty or not; there is no tie. With claims for ghosts or leprechauns or Bigfoot, you it’s either (1) the case that you believe the evidence is compelling, or (2) that is not the case.

          Obviously, we can have an analog scale. Aliens and Bigfoot are unlikely, while poltergeists and leprechauns are very unlikely, say, but “Do you believe in X?” is a yes/no question.

          When someone claims that he has a unicorn in his garage, you might be curious enough to listen to his story. But the burden of proof is his. If he fails to support his burden of proof, you are obliged to reject his claim.

        • Joe

          You basically just explained that you live by the fallacy of arguing from ignorance.
          Just because one person does not prove something to me does not mean I am obligated to reject the claim. The fact that you do not convince me to be an atheist does not mean I am even justified in rejecting it, let alone obligated to reject it.

        • I’m guilty of a named fallacy?! I wonder if there’s any point in continuing …

          Just because one person does not prove something to me does not mean I am obligated to reject the claim.

          The null hypothesis rejects the extraordinary claim. We’re assuming, going into this, that you haven’t accepted the claim (if that’s not the case, why would someone be trying to convince you?). If you’re unconvinced (the burden of proof is not met) we fall back on the null hypothesis. You’re not only entitled to reject the unconvincing claim but obligated to.

          That does leave unaddressed the question of what the level of evidence is.

        • Joe

          I am not so sure extending the null hypothesis outside of statistics is a good idea. Nor do I think it supports “the burden of proof.” It says you should affirmatively think the perceived correspondence is random until proven otherwise. This seems like an affirmative claim to me.

          Not only is the question of the level of evidence left unclear regarding “the burden of proof” but so are questions about who needs to prove what to whom and what the supposed consequences of that person being able or unable to prove that to the other person.

          Lets say I can’t prove X to you. You say you are “obligated to reject X.” If that does not mean that you are to believe “not x” then what does that mean?

          When you would rationally act one way when X was true and another way if X was false are you obligated to act as though x were false? Or can you sometimes act as if X is false and sometimes as if its true? Or maybe no obligation at all?

          Let me suggest that you take a pragmatic approach. I suggest you weigh the harms/good that will come with falsely (or correctly) believing/acting one way against the harms/goods that will come from falsely (or correctly) believing the other.

          Once you start to incorporate this part of what it means to be rational into your thought process, you will suddenly stop having arbitrary ideas of whether this person met some imagined burden of proof.

          BTW I do not mean to come off as condescending. If you don’t mind please tell me where I come off that way so I can try to correct it.

        • I am not so sure extending the null hypothesis outside of statistics is a good idea.

          Proposition A = “unicorns exist.” What’s our default belief going into the conversation, A or not-A?

          If our antagonist gives poor evidence for unicorns (not zero, but also not compelling), what should we do? Are we justified in falling back on our default belief (dare I say: declare that the burden of proof hasn’t been met?) or do we conclude that some evidence is more than none so therefore unicorns exist?

          Not only is the question of the level of evidence left unclear regarding “the burden of proof” …

          True.

          … but so are questions about who needs to prove what to whom and what the supposed consequences of that person being able or unable to prove that to the other person.

          Let’s just talk about claims that are extraordinary, where the difference between the claim and the default assumption is dramatic. It’s not hard to distinguish between a remarkable claim (“astrology works!”) and the default (“nope—just another delusion”).

          Lets say I can’t prove X to you. You say you are “obligated to reject X.” If that does not mean that you are to believe “not x” then what does that mean?

          It is either the case that you accept that Nessie exists, or it is not. There are just two options.

          Of course, it makes sense to look at this on an analog scale and consider who certain our position is. But it is fair to demand, “Nessie exists: true or false?”

          I suggest you weigh the harms/good that will come with falsely (or correctly) believing/acting one way against the harms/goods that will come from falsely (or correctly) believing the other.

          Huh? What does the good/bad that will follow from a belief have to do with the truth of that belief? Useful and true are orthogonal.

        • Susan

          It says you should affirmatively think the perceived correspondence is random until proven otherwise.

          No. It doesn’t. It says your correspondence model has not distinguished itself from white noise. There are all kinds of models that do.

          It also asks that all fact claims be held to the same standard. Standards that have been very useful in distinguishing provisionally more accurate patterns about reality from “randomness”.

          I suggest you weigh the harms/good that will come with falsely (or correctly) believing/acting one way against the harms/goods that will come from falsely (or correctly) believing the other.

          How can I weigh real harms/goods if you want to remove a reliable tool for determining what’s real from what’s not real?

          That’s always how people really make a mess of things.

        • Kodie

          Another one who is poor at reading comprehension. You’re obliged to reject his claim if you don’t accept it. You’re not obligated to accept it even if you aren’t convinced, are you? Was the word “forever” uttered by Bob S? Do you practice law like it says on your blog? Do you encourage jurors to accept your argument when they are not fully convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt? Should we have you disbarred?

        • Pofarmer

          Argument from ignorance is asserting something is true because it can’t be proven false, which Christians do all the time, btw. I don’t see how Bob committed this fallacy. Perhaps you could enlighten us?

        • Dys

          You don’t appear to understand the fallacy of arguing from ignorance or how it relates to the burden of proof.

          Rejecting a claim due to a lack of compelling evidence is not a declaration that the claim is false. It is, instead, a statement that there is insufficient reason to accept the claim as true. “I do not believe x is true” is different than “I believe x is false”. So your insistence on the fallacy of arguing from ignorance is simply wrong.

          There also tends to be some confusion in these types of discussions in realizing that the aphorism “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” is not absolute. Because in many cases, absence of evidence is evidence of absence, depending on the claim being made and the evidence one would expect to find were that claim to be true.

        • Joe

          I tend to agree with much of what you said. But you have not really dealt with the problem I have with his way of thinking. He is basing his thinking on whether some other person meets some imagined burden of proof.

          “When someone claims that he has a unicorn in his garage, you might be curious enough to listen to his story. But the burden of proof is his. If *he* fails to support his burden of proof, you are obliged to reject his claim.”

          You see. My issue is that he is basing his belief on whether some other person met a burden of proof.

          Thats why I said:
          “Just because one person does not prove something to me does not mean I am obligated to reject the claim. The fact that you do not convince me to be an atheist does not mean I am even justified in rejecting it, let alone obligated to reject it.”

          Do you not agree?

          Now on to your point. I agree that absence of evidence might be evidence of absence in certain cases.

          But what happens is people tend to construct this “burden of proof” in their head (and again it is very ill defined unlike burdens in debates or court) and then start to feel justified in rejecting a belief just because it is not met.

          There is also a point which I tend to agree with Mr Seidensticker. Often there is no middle ground. If you reject one belief then you will be disposed to act as though that belief is false right? Now if you are think like me and W.V. Quine then that might essentially be the same thing as believing it is false.

          http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/09/do-you-belieeeeve/

          These issues get tricky. Even you do not agree with my conviction that “the burden of proof” should be shoved onto a scrapheap perhaps you could at least try to spell out a coherent system of how it works so people don’t start to think illogically.

        • adam

          “Just because one person does not prove something to me does not mean I am obligated to reject the claim. The fact that you do not convince me to be an atheist does not mean I am even justified in rejecting it, let alone obligated to reject it.”

          So unconvinced you are NOT even justified in rejecting it?

          that Kodie is Jesus Christ
          .
          .
          Leprechans, fairies and Invisible Pink Flying Unicorns…

          YOU are not making any sense.

        • Kodie

          So you are basically saying you may believe something even if there is no good reason to, because you’re not obligated to not believe it just because you’re not sure and you don’t have enough evidence to be sure. But you may reject claims at your own caprice. You are willing to call logic statements “sound” without enough information to prove the initial premise, because you feel like it. You are just playing skeevy lawyer tricks, you have no ability to reason soundly, nor should you continue to claim you do.

        • Dys

          You see. My issue is that he is basing his belief on whether some other person met a burden of proof.

          Then the problem is yours, not his, because that’s a perfectly rational approach. If someone tries to sell you on something, especially if it’s fantastical, the onus is on the person making the claim. It’s not imagined. You appear to be arguing that it’s not fair to reject the nutjob’s claim that he has a unicorn in his garage once he’s failed to substantiate it, but you don’t ever explain why.

          Or perhaps you’re mistakenly assuming that the claim is rejected based purely on whether a person making it has met their burden of proof? Because that’s not the case either – one draws from their own knowledge and understanding when evaluating claims, as well as the nature of the claim being made. Different claims have varying levels of evidence required to give them credence. Or to put it more simply, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          Just because one person does not prove something to me does not mean I am obligated to reject the claim.

          Claims are either accepted or rejected. Agnosticism is not a magical middle ground between acceptance or rejection of a claim. I can be agnostic (and am) on the notion of a god existing, yet still reject the claim that a god exists due to a lack of evidence. So once again, no, I don’t agree with you.

          Honestly, it looks like you’re trying to construct a giant semantic loophole to avoid having to back up theological assertions. So that when you’re confronted and told that you haven’t substantiated your claims, you can insist that you don’t have to. Which is fine, as long as you don’t expect your claims or arguments to be taken seriously.

        • adam

          “Honestly, it looks like you’re trying to construct a giant semantic loophole to avoid having to back up theological assertions. So that when you’re confronted and told that you haven’t substantiated your claims, you can insist that you don’t have to.”

          So honestly he is being DISHONEST and trying to be DECEPTIVE.

        • And it works both ways. TAR wants sloppy standards for thinking so he can feel justified in embracing his beliefs, but what happens when he’s trying to argue against the other guy with nutty beliefs? Is this live and let live? He can use sloppy thinking to embrace Christianity, and the Scientologist, Mormon, and Muslim can do the same?

        • Dys

          I blame post-modernism…it’s led to this bizarre notion that everyone is entitled to their own little world of personal truths encased in a magical bubble to ward off criticism.

        • But … conservative Christians are supposed to reject postmodern thinking …

        • Dys

          Another interesting contradiction is how incredibly liberal they tend to be when attacking things they don’t like. I’m personally a fan of how they liberalize their lofty concepts of ‘God’ and what worship entails in order to make extremely pathetic (and false) attempts to claim that atheists must worship something, or ‘are their own gods’.

        • Another contradiction: they hate big, intrusive Government … except when it’s out enforcing their moral code–no abortion, no gay marriage, and so on. Then, party on.

        • adam

          “perhaps you could at least try to spell out a coherent system of how it works so people don’t start to think illogically.”

          It is called the Scientific Method
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

        • Dys

          Actually, Matt Dillahunty at The Atheist Experience demonstrated the problem you’re having with the acceptance/rejection of a claim.

          Suppose one has a jar with an unknown number of gumballs. If someone makes the claim that there are an odd number of gumballs, it should be rejected unless it is substantiated by actually counting the gumballs. And the same goes for someone claiming there are an even number of gumballs.

          So even though the number of gumballs must necessarily be either even or odd, both individual claims are rejected based on insufficient evidence. Also note that it has no effect on remaining agnostic on the reality of whether there is an even or odd number.

          The rejection of those claims does not mean or imply that the number of gumballs is neither even nor odd. It means that a burden of proof has not been met to accept either proposition, and the claims are therefore rejected. The only claim that makes sense to accept is that the number of gumballs must necessarily be even or odd.

        • Kodie

          What if the jar contained a mutant gumball that was really two gumballs that got too close at the factory and merged together in one piece? For philosophical reasons, some would say that counts as two since you can see the shape of two gumballs coming together, and some would say it only counts as one because it’s a single piece of gum. Some strange people would say neither, since the shape of it is not a ball, as described in the name of the thing, just like you would discard a brightly colored marble from the count because it isn’t gum.

        • Dys

          Then there’s no choice but to form a religion around each differing viewpoint, and fight to the death. Good call Jesus 😉

        • Ignorant Amos

          What frightens me is that there are folk with the computational brain skills to practice law and use computers that don’t know all the things you are having to point out, sheeesh!

        • Kodie

          If your eternal soul is riding on it???? Make time!!! Seriously, you just employ a lot of logical fallacies that there is no really good reason to believe it without the kind of evidence a singular supernatural event demands. You’re willing to base your life now or eternally on someone else’s sincere beliefs, but there are so many to choose from! And yet you don’t seem the least bit paralyzed by indecision. Not exactly a ringing endorsement – your beliefs are based on hearsay, not on truth, not on reason, but on emotional arguments.

        • Joe

          I don’t think my eternal soul is riding on it. What logical fallacies am I employing?

        • Kodie
        • Kodie

          Nobody is asking to be spoon-fed, and if you don’t know the answers, you don’t have the truth. If you are just guessing and wishing and hoping, you are willing to die for a lie. You can’t expect the rest of us to be so foolish.

        • MNb

          Just one point you made on your blog, related to the point I made elsewhere on this page.

          “They are presumably material things that can be seen, captured, photographed, video recorded etc”
          Nope. The fairies that tend the flowers in my garden to make them blossom more beautifully are totally immaterial. I just defined them so. If you disagree according to your logic you have to show why. Good luck.

          “it seems many atheists separate themselves from other philosophers and intellectuals”
          I have read stuff from some philosophers of religion you never have heard of: Emmanuel Rutten, Jan Riemersma and Erik Buys.

        • Joe

          MNb quoted me saying this:

          “They are presumably material things that can be seen, captured, photographed, video recorded etc”
          and MNb says:
          “Nope. The fairies that tend the flowers in my garden to make them blossom more beautifully are totally immaterial. I just defined them so. If you disagree according to your logic you have to show why. Good luck.”

          My logic does not mean I have to show why. I can only think you haven’t read the whole blog post.

        • Kodie

          I read at least 3 of your posts. According to your logic, you never have to support your claims with evidence, and you can pick and choose what you believe arbitrarily. The conclusion follows that you can’t expect any of us to take you seriously.

        • adam

          I read it and it was just BS.

          In conclusion:

          “Believing that you are somehow epistemologically justified in continuing to hold your beliefs so long as you decide some other person did not meet some imagined burden of
          proof is a poor way to go through life. ”

          Definition of EPISTEMOLOGY

          : the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity – Merriam Webster.

          So, if you study nature and our knowledge of it and find no cause to believe in the supernatural, THAT is a poor way to go through life?

          Are you kidding?
          We should rely on ‘wishful thinking’ to determine our world view and views of nature?

          “I think it is intellectually more healthy to place the burden on ourselves to investigate any sort of important question. Don’t try to pass that off on others.”
          http://trueandreasonable.co/2014/01/26/the-burden-of-proof-versus-the-flying-spaghetti-monster-part-22/

          What you seem to fail to realize that we have been intellectually healthy and investigated these questions and find them grossly wanting and lack of sufficient evidence to belief them to be true.

        • MNb

          I have, but it’s not necessary for my point.
          At one hand you claim it’s not necessary for you to show why you believe in a god (you dispute the burden of proof on this very page as well).
          At the other hand you claim it’s not necessary for you to show why you don’t believe in the fairies in my backyard.
          You just have thrown all methodology out of your window. That’s not logic, that’s total randomness.

        • Kodie

          You’re free to die for a lie, too, if you want to. If you think I should be convinced to, you are going to have to do better than this lame shit.

        • Dys

          Those making the positive claim have the burden of proof. Run into someone who claims they saw a leprechaun? It is entirely on them to provide evidence for their claim.

          And your blog post on the topic is nothing more than a lame attempt at trying to shirk the burden of proof. And honestly demonstrates a rather poor understanding of the concept. You state that you follow the basic tenet when it comes to material things (Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, etc), yet for some reason you’re apparently uncomfortable with telling someone trying to convince you of their claim that they have a burden of proof. Maybe you just don’t like the words, but you’re going along with the concept. But exempting your religious beliefs from it, of course.

          Without there being a burden of proof to judge claims, you’re essentially admitting you don’t have any real method of determining what’s true and what isn’t, beyond your own personal preferences as to what you’d really like to be true. In the end, you’ve done nothing more than make excuses to believe whatever silly nonsense you’d like, and giving yourself an illogical (but easy) out when people point it out to you.

          If you don’t think you have a burden of proof, then every single one of your claims can be dismissed out of hand. Because you’re admitting that you don’t have any real interest in whether they’re actually true or not.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well said.

          He could have saved himself a lot of words and just wrote “special pleading”. It would also have saved him a lot of embarrassment too.

          Religion really does mess people up, no doubt about that. Compartmentalisation is a very strong psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance.

        • adam

          “I can give you my reasons why I believe.”

        • Kodie

          1. If you’re trying to convince people that something is true, then you do have the burden of proof.

          If you don’t care if we believe it or not, and understand that it’s reasonable to doubt the claims of Christianity, barring evidence of any supernatural occurrence, then you have nothing to talk about.

        • MR

          A recent study showed that people can be convinced they committed a crime they didn’t actually commit, even providing false memories not planted by the researchers, after only three 40 minute sessions! Talk about making a claim not in your own personal interest.

          Bob, didn’t you do a post on memory?

          Imagine a group of religious zealots telling and retelling stories that grow in size to the point where they no longer resemble the truth, but that they’ve come to convince themselves is the truth. Lord knows my mother has whipped up some tall tales that never happened that she absolutely believes. People end up believing their lies or mis-memories all the time. It’s not hard to imagine.

          My rule of thumb is, if I read this about some other obscure religion in some obscure ancient text, would I automatically believe it?

          I think not.

        • Re your penultimate paragraph: isn’t this John Loftus’s Outsider Test for Faith?

          Yes, I’ve posted on memory several times:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/09/human-memory-vivid-doesnt-mean-accurate/

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/11/fallible-memories-and-the-development-of-legend/

        • MR

          Not familiar with that, but maybe I came across a reference somewhere. Thanks for pointing it out.

          I relate it to having read Gilgamesh, the Atrahasis epic, etc. I obviously don’t believe those stories, yet they are older than the Bible stories. What makes the difference?

          Also influenced by legends I’d heard when living in Europe. People believed—some still believe—some crazy stuff. Why do I find them obviously not true and not my own beliefs? What made my belief in Christianity different than their belief in their legends or their religion? What made my belief in my brand of Christianity more true than what Jehovah Witnesses believe, or Mormons.

          One of my thought experiments is: If an alien came down and expressed an interest in religion and every religion sent a representative to explain why their religion is true, and you were the representative for your religion sitting in a room full of people from every other religion, all waiting their turn, what would you say that is going to convince an alien that your religion is one true religion?

          It also taps into the psychology/cognitive bias stuff I’ve been reading.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          Re your penultimate paragraph: isn’t this John Loftus’s Outsider Test for Faith?

          Yep…and believers are shit scared of it, particularly Christian believers.

        • MNb

          “Imagine a group of religious zealots”
          Especially
          in the time and place early christians lived.

        • Neko

          Magicians and wonder workers who could perform “miracles” were a type in Jesus’s time. Jewish tradition holds that Jesus was executed for “sorcery,” among other things (that Jesus existed is taken for granted). Interestingly, that tradition says nothing about a Roman crucifixion.

        • adam

          Romans crucified for sedition.
          Magicians and sorcerers were common at the time.

        • Neko

          Yes, I know.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Magicians and wonder workers who could perform “miracles” were a type in Jesus’s time.

          They have always been a “type”, even today, nothing has changed except we don’t put them to death musch these days. Although there are exceptions in places such as Africa. Mostly though, they are entertainers or extortionists.

          Jewish tradition holds that Jesus was executed for “sorcery,” among other things (that Jesus existed is taken for granted).

          Seriously? Which Jesus? When does Jesus first appear in Jewish writing? What evidence do these writings have for Jesus existence?

          The whole problem with the historical Jesus claim IS that it gets taken for granted. Why?

          Interestingly, that tradition says nothing about a Roman crucifixion.

          Neither did the earliest Christian traditions. Nowhere in Paul is a crucifixion by the Romans.

          What is interesting though, is some Jewish traditions places a Jesus figure a lot earlier than the gospels.

          The Kuzari by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi (c.1075- 1141),understood these references in Talmud as referring to Jesus of Nazareth and based on them believed that Jesus of Nazareth lived 130 years prior to the date that Christians believe he lived, contradicting the Gospels’ account regarding the chronology of Jesus. Profiat Duran’s anti-Christian polemic Kelimmat ha-Goyim (“Shame of the Gentiles”, 1397) makes it evident that Duran gave no credence to Yehiel of Paris’ theory of two Jesuses. In addition, the information cited from the Munich, Florence and other manuscripts in support of the identification are late comments written centuries after the original redaction of the Talmud, citing discrepancies between events mentioned in association with Yeshu and the time of Jesus’ life.[citation needed] According to some the oppression by King Janneus mentioned in the Talmud occurred about 87 BCE, which would put the events of the story about a century before Jesus. The Yeshu who taught Jacob of Sechania would have lived a century after Jesus. And differences between accounts of the deaths of Yeshu and Jesus. The forty day waiting period before execution is absent from the Christian tradition and moreover Jesus did not have connections with the government. Jesus was crucified not stoned. Jesus was executed in Jerusalem not Lod. Jesus did not burn his food in public and moreover the Yeshu who did this corresponds to Manasseh of Judah in the Shulkhan Arukh. Jesus did not make incisions in his flesh, nor was he caught by hidden observers.

          Jewish references to Jesus are all but useless, they are too late and highly ambiguous.

        • Neko

          You wrote:

          They have always been a “type”, even today, nothing has changed except we don’t put them to death musch these days.

          In the West this type has been supplanted by the medical profession and the priesthood. My point was that Jesus wasn’t some unique wonder worker, though he seems to have gained a reputation; not sure what your point is.

          Seriously? Which Jesus? When does Jesus first appear in Jewish writing? What evidence do these writings have for Jesus existence?

          Yeah, seriously. References to a person thought to be Jesus are preserved in the Talmud (they’re not very flattering). I didn’t offer this as evidence of a historical Jesus but merely noted that it’s assumed Jesus was a man.

          Neither did the earliest Christian traditions. Nowhere in Paul is a crucifixion by the Romans.

          Um, who else was crucifying in the 1st-century Roman empire?

          Yeah, I’m aware of the controversy over dates and read R. Joseph Hoffmann’s explanation of this which I may get around to quoting here.

          Jewish references to Jesus are all but useless, they are too late and highly ambiguous.

          It depends what your objective is. My objective was to bring up some interesting data that conflicts with the Christian narrative of Jesus’s crucifixion by the Romans.

        • Joe

          Well I think most scholars agree that if making a claim is against your personal interests then it is given more credibility.

        • Pofarmer

          They thought if they died in the name of the religion they went to heaven. So, you would have to define what their personal interest is. It wasn’t uncommon, according to Candida Moss, for early Christians to seek to be martyred.

        • Joe

          Early Christians wouldn’t have believed that if they thought everything Christians taught was a lie.

        • MNb

          That’s the point silly, and that’s why comparing with SSers is valid. Both early christians and SSers believed that they held the truth. That’s exactly why they were willing to die. But believing something is true doesn’t make it true yet. Or SSers believing in their racist doctrines and dying for it makes those racist doctrines true.

        • Pofarmer

          Look at all the soldiers who signed up for Joseph Smiths little army. They were certainly willing to die? You’ve got Paul, a dude having visions and seeing revelations in scripture, making a bunch of fantastic claims. You’ve got one deranged guy and a bunch of gullible followers. The movement is a lie, but nobody knows it.

        • Kodie

          As a lawyer, how can you not understand the difference between something being true and someone merely being convinced that it is true? Isn’t your whole job putting together whatever bullshit necessary to convince people you’re not lying vs. the other guy?

        • Dys

          Personal religious beliefs have a funny way of escaping the skepticism and scrutiny that people normally use for other claims. Special pleading based on strength of conviction helps allay the utter absence of evidence, I suppose.

        • Dys

          So what if they believed him? It doesn’t make any difference as to whether those beliefs were actually true.

        • MNb

          Then SS racism according to you is more credible. The death rate in SS divisions was considerably higher than in regular Wehrmacht, because SSers took more risks – against their personal interests.
          True and reasonable, you say? Rather you demonstrate that Dys is right.

        • Joe

          You don’t think SSers had any interest in taking risks (aka following orders) in WW2? You think every SS person acted solely for the sake of their racist beliefs?

        • MNb

          You don’t address my point. (Waffen) SSers took more risks than regular German soldiers, while given similar orders.
          The “following orders” argument fails, because nobody was forced to enter the SS. In fact German army leaders complained about the risks the SSers took, because of the high death rates. See, dead SSers had to be replaced too, something that costs time and money due to training.
          Yes, every SS soldier acted for the sake of their racist beliefs. That’s why they entered the SS. They volunteered. For instance no less than 20 000 Dutch young men enlisted from 1941 on.
          Now please answer my conclusion. According to you SS racism is more credible.
          Or I’ll have to conclude that you’re dishonest.

        • Dys

          All it demonstrates is conviction of belief, not the credibility of the belief itself.

        • Joe

          Maybe not to you but generally a statement against interest is considered more credible. Would you not agree that a statement that serves someone’s interests is less credible?

        • Kodie

          You don’t see the difference, do you.

          Sincere belief is not an indicator of credibility at all. That’s your conflation.

        • Dys

          No, it has nothing to do with me personally. What I said was a fact. Merely being convicted that something is true, even to the point where you’ll endure persecution for that conviction, does not provide any support as to whether that conviction is true or not.

          generally a statement against interest is considered more credible

          But martyrs don’t think they’re working against their interests. Like I said – it demonstrates conviction, not truth. There have been other cults where people have died for their beliefs, but I don’t see too many people running to declare their beliefs are credible. And even on a lighter not, none of the Mormon witnesses ever recanted their testimony, even when they split off from Joseph Smith and were excommunicated. Are we supposed to lend any credibility to their outlandish claims?

          Would you not agree that a statement that serves someone’s interests is less credible?

          No. Because there are far more factors to consider beyond possible bias. The simplistic “but they benefit from their position” is the same illogical mindset that nutjob conspiracy theorists like anti-vaxxers use to try and justify their outlandish claims.

        • Kodie

          It certain adds drama to the plot of a story.

        • adam

          So why have a Satan, if not to add drama to the plot of the story?

        • Joe

          Here come the propaganda pictures.

        • adam

          Yes, I understand that THAT IS the very best that YOUR ‘faith’ has prepared for you to respond.

          Satan IS a claim against YOUR ‘god’s personal interest, ACCORDING to YOU that should give it more credibility.

          But it is just to make the story interesting to make it more memorable for oral stories.

          Just like St Nick bringing back to life the chopped up boys in a pickle barrel.
          http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Orthodox/2000/12/Saints-Unpreserve-Us-St-Nicholas-Resurrects-Pickled-Boys.aspx

        • You say the fact that Christians might not be able to recant at the last minute to save their lives suggests that they might have become Christians even though they knew Christianity was a lie.

          No, I’m saying that the claim, “They were given a chance to recant their Christian beliefs and they didn’t! How cool is that?!” makes no sense.

          In any case the it is unclear factually how this was in the very early church.

          I’ll agree with you there. An easy error is to note something in the long history of the church and not realize that conditions were like that only during a certain period. How things were during the supposed times of these martyrdoms—50–70CE, say—is hard to pin down.

        • Joe

          Yes its pretty clear that different Emperors and then even different Governors varied in how they treated Christians.

          It seems to me though that at the time of Jesus death the powers that be around Jerusalem at least would not have taken kindly to being Christian. Why? Well if Christianity was not something that they would be punished for then why would people believe he was crucified to begin with? I mean if I started saying my brother was taken and killed by the governor of Illinois because he claimed to believe in Scientology people would not likely accept that claim easily. During the time that such evidence would exist they would probably expect to see some of it.

          But on the whole although I think we can say the early Christian’s likely took substantial risk, I don’t think we can say they all willingly would have died for the faith. Its somewhere in between. Some Christians probably recanted (or tried to) and even Paul (Author or our earliest Christian writings) says some stopped believing.

        • And the point of the post remains: the “Who would die for a lie?” argument fails.

        • adam

          You do realize that the Romans crucified people dont you?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

          The first persecution of Christians organised by the Roman government took place under the emperor Nero in 64 AD after the Great Fire of Rome;with the passage in 313 AD of the Edict of Milan, anti-Christian policies directed against Christians by the Roman government ceased.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Christian_policies_in_the_Roman_Empire

        • Ignorant Amos

          It seems to me though that at the time of Jesus death the powers that be around Jerusalem at least would not have taken kindly to being Christian. Why? Well if Christianity was not something that they would be punished for then why would people believe he was crucified to begin with?

          You are presuming too much ahead of time.

          First, you are presuming an historical Jesus.

          Then you are presuming a codified cult, Christianity.

          Then you are presuming the Romans would punish such a cult.

          None of your presumption’s are verifiable given the evidence.

          I mean if I started saying my brother was taken and killed by the governor of Illinois because he claimed to believe in Scientology people would not likely accept that claim easily.

          No, of course not. No more than you would accept the same claim of !e if I said the same claim of the mayor of Carrickfergus. You would demand evidence. Ramp it up 2000
          years and the evidence one would be satisfied with would need to be exponentially greater than what any reasonable Peron would expect for the Jesus myth. Just think about it.

          During the time that such evidence would exist they would probably expect to see some of it.

          Indeed. You would think so, wouldn’t ya? Yet it just isn’t there.

          But on the whole although I think we can say the early Christian’s likely took substantial risk, I don’t think we can say they all willingly would have died for the faith.

          Don’t be so naive. Some brave folk even give their lives for an enemy…Google Sargent Michael Willetts.

          Just because you won’t, doesn’t mean everyone is the same.

          You are fortunate enough to have been born in modern times. You are educated. You might follow a belief system, but you ate not so stupid as to not know where to draw the line. Not everyone in antiquity was so clever. I assume you use the advances of medical science for example? You do not rely on the power of prayer and faith when it comes to matters of health.

          Its somewhere in between. Some Christians probably recanted (or tried to)…

          No doubt, given the opportunity. Those that didn’t, or were no given the opportunity, died s martyrs death. It still doesn’ t mean that what they believed in, and died for, had any merit.

          …and even Paul (Author or our earliest Christian writings) says some stopped

          Some who stopped what?

        • Joe

          So you think there is no evidence of a Christian religion and no evidence that Rome persecuted Christians.

          You seem to assume that all the evidence people would have had 2000 years ago will still exist now.
          I suppose all the accounts from various authors of the bible are no evidence at all for you. I think most people do think they are some evidence. I am one of them. Reading accounts and counting them as evidence is not presumption. Discounting all the accounts from near the time and then making claims based on the fallacy of arguing from ignorance is presumption.

        • Kodie

          All religions have equally compelling accounts they consider historical, and so how do you find yours correct? Of course there is a Christian religion, is that how we decide it’s true? And that it started at some time? So all religions are true?

        • MR

          Exactly. Christians seem to want to work in a vacuum. They don’t see that they wouldn’t buy their own arguments if they were talking about some other religion.

        • Joe

          Ok I do not find the historical accounts of all religions equally compelling. I don’t know how anyone could unless they really never explored them.

        • MNb

          What’s your standard? What method do you use to decide that? See, the adherents of those other religions claim exactly the same. They don’t find the historical account of your religion any more compelling than you do theirs.

        • Kodie

          So tell us which ones you have explored and where they went wrong so you can reject them. Keep in mind you already cashed in your special pleading card.

        • Mormonism’s historical claims spank those of Christianity.

          Even if Christianity’s claims were the best evidenced, you must honestly evaluate the evidence on one side of the balance with the claims on the other.

          Imagine an equally compelling case for Religion X. You’d laugh at how poor the case was. I mean, seriously, you’ve got books from 2000 years ago that you wouldn’t believe if they were written yesterday, and even then you don’t have the originals! Who knows what they said.

          … and so on.

        • Philmonomer

          Ok I do not find the historical accounts of all religions equally compelling. I don’t know how anyone could unless they really never explored them.

          Ah, Christianity is true because the historical account of it is so compelling. This is utter nonsense. [But I think nonsense that trueandreasonable will never see–because he doesn’t want to see it.]

          As but one example (among many): the historical account of Islam is much, much more compelling. In this regard, history only requires one guy, alone in a cave, talking to God. And, boom, we have this amazing book, the Koran, to prove that it actually happened. No historical problems there.

          Christianity requires you to believe that Jesus Christ was actually God on Earth (huh? Oh, he kept the God part mostly hidden–WTF?), that Jesus was bodily resurrected on Earth, that this resurrected man actually walked around (huh? what did he eat? where did he sleep? sometimes he was recognized, sometimes he wasn’t–WTF?), that a bunch of other people were also resurrected (the “zombies”)–and yet no resurrection (either Jesus or the Zombies) was recorded by any historians at the time or subsequently.

          If Jesus (and a whole bunch of other people) were actually, literally, resurrected don’t you think the Roman authorities/Jewish authorities would have LOST THEIR SH-T? Holy cow. Talk about a way to convert a lot of people.

          Instead, we get these weird accounts of Jesus only appearing in hiding, or only to the disciples, or appearing as a vision. Frankly, the whole thing reads like something that did not really happen. Sure I suppose it is theoretically possible Jesus wanted to keep his resurrection quiet–but that makes no sense if you think about it for half a minute. Rather, the most logical conclusion is that it didn’t really happen. It sounds like an urban legend (and a lot of people believe urban legends, too).

        • Kodie

          I think it might work to ask the Christian what I would have to do to convince them that I was Jesus Christ.

        • Philmonomer

          What are you thinking? That they would want you to perform miracles?

        • Kodie

          I just think most of them would be more critical because they are close enough to see, but farther away, they’ll settle for taking someone’s word for it.

        • adam

          They PREFER taking someone else’s word for it.

          One of the properties of Reveal Religion TM

        • And that’s the crazy thing. They’d say (like anyone would), “Kodie is Jesus Christ? This should be easy to resolve–tell her to do a miracle.”

          Fair enough. So then we say the same thing to the Christian: let’s see a miracle. Not written in some book of unknown provenance, but now. Today. And then we get the excuses.

          The problem is “Kodie = Jesus” is a testable claim. It’s too testable. And “The NT is historically reliable” is poorly testable. Bizarrely, they see this as a plus (hides their beliefs from mean atheists who always want to test stuff) rather than a minus (their remarkable claims rest on a base of gossamer and so should be discarded).

        • Dys

          Nah…she has an easy out on the test. She can just refuse because the bible says you’re not supposed to test God. Then she can reprimand them for sinning by even proposing a test in the first place, lol.

          There’s no way around it…Kodie = Jesus. And if it appears that her actions don’t match the biblical portrayal, it’s obviously due to Mysterious Ways.

        • Kodieanity. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

        • Philmonomer

          There’s no way around it…Kodie = Jesus. And if it appears that her actions don’t match the biblical portrayal, it’s obviously due to Mysterious Ways.

          No, if her actions don’t match the biblical portrayal, it’s because people were expecting the wrong kind of portrayal. If you look at the portrayal again, afresh, you can see that Kodie is exactly like the Biblical portrayal, as promised.

        • Kodie

          There are a lot of problems with their method – I’d probably be ridiculed by these people instead of honored at my word, pending more information. They’re supposed to revere me, but they just know I’m not him, and insulted that I would claim to be so, insulted to the point of ridiculing or harassing me … ME! JESUS! Then they would put me through a lot of nonsense tests. Look, I just don’t perform on command, they know that. I’m their lord, not the other way around.

        • Like in the “Oh, God!” movie. God actually appears, but do the Christians (who totally say that he exists and could do something like that if he felt like it) embrace the claim? Nope.

          There’s a bit in Acts 12:12-15 where the disciples are praying for Peter’s release from prison. And then an angel comes and does exactly that. So Peter goes to the house where they were praying for him and knocks on the door. The disciples won’t believe the report that he’s there. These disciples, who believe prayer is answered, won’t believe that their prayer was actually answered.

        • adam

          My guess is that they would NEVER believe you to be Jesus Christ, unless you could get some ignorant sheep herder thousands of years ago to make the claim for you.

        • Joe

          Kodie:

          “All religions have equally compelling accounts they consider historical…”

          Philmonomer
          “As but one example (among many), the historical account of Islam is much, much more compelling. [than Christianity]”

          Kodie upvotes Philmonomer because contradictions are not important. What is important is that you are both anti-christian.

        • Philmonomer

          Kodie upvotes Philmonomer because contradictions are not important.

          You mean the (supposed) contradiction between my statement and Kodie’s, and yet Kodie still upvoted my comment. I think Kodie means that all people who follow a religion believe that their religion has a compelling historical account. I don’t see the contradiction.

          What is important is that you are both anti-christian.

          I don’t understand what you mean here, or what your point is. I am not specifically “anti-Christian” (I’m not even sure what that means)–but I do think Christianity isn’t true.

          I also find it odd that, rather the respond to the substance of my post (or Kodie’s), you find fault with her for upvoting a comment, and say what’s “important” is that we are both anti-Christian. How is that important/a meaningful response?

        • Kodie

          What’s important is that you flipped a coin to choose your religion.

        • adam

          Have you actually studied the historical accounts of other religions, or have you never really explored them?

        • MNb

          He doesn’t say that. Why do so many apologists lack reading comprehension skills? IA says that you make many assumptions without providing any evidence. That’s not the same.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe you should read some Candida Moss, who says that early martyrdom stories were greately overblown. You also need to figure out what an argument from ignorance is. You can’t use the Bible as proof of itself. That is circular reasoning, you have to confirm it from outside of it.

        • Kodie

          If it was true, why would they stop believing? I mean, you are taken in by if it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t have gone so far as to die for it, and apparently you think they were close enough to know for sure, and not just early cultists. If they were close enough to know for sure, you’re not taken in by those who stopped believing.

          The weird thing about this argument is maybe you just think it sounds all so crazy but dying for a lie is an emotional hook for so many Christians. Well, it’s crazy, but these guys were there! If they took the martyr route, even the craziest thing might be true. You make a lot of assumptions from a to z here. If you were honest, you would put equal weight on the argument that some were there and stopped believing.

        • Joe

          Why do you say I don’t give weight to the fact some people stopped believing? I am the one who brought it up right? I said that is why I think the truth about the evidence is likely somewhere in between.

        • Kodie

          You don’t sound like someone who is giving equal weight to those who stopped pretending to believe something they knew wasn’t true. The argument “who would die for a lie?” is based on the fact that if it weren’t true, they would actually have said so.

        • MNb

          “It seems to me though that at the time of Jesus death the powers that be around Jerusalem at least would not have taken kindly to being Christian.”
          You are wrong. Early christians were allowed to the Temple of Jerusalem.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are assuming that the Roman authorities, or Jewish for that matter, gave the early believers of Christianity the opportunity to recant, why would they?

    • MNb

      “On the whole pretty few cases of people dying for a lie over the past 2000 years.”
      From 1941 till 1945 millions and millions of people died at the Eastern Front, often in a brutal way totally comparable with with persecuted christians. At both sides of the Eastern Front many of them fought and died for a lie: the Bolshevik World Revolution or racial superiority.

    • Susan

      On the whole pretty few cases of people dying for a lie over the past 2000 years.

      What are your numbers?

  • John MacDonald

    I’m a little late to the game here, but I would definitely side with those who argue that it is plausible the original Christians died for a lie. As Richard Carrier says,

    “Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.”

    I just finished a blog post on this topic. Check it out: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2018/03/examining-easter-peering-behind-veil-of.html