questions on and reflections about debate with Comfort

Lance
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questions on and reflections about debate with Comfort

My post is centered around a few issue which arose from the debate which the RRS had with Comfort and Cameron. Before starting, I'd like to initially point out that I didn't watch every second of the debate, so I apologize if I misrepresent the RRS. With that said, I did watch nearly all of the debate which the RRS took part in. (I skipped nearly all of Comfort and Cameron's arguments and points out of sheer embarassment, and I'm a theist! Those guys simply aren't debaters.) I have four points or issues to discuss: agnostic or atheist?; defining 'science' and its relevance to the current issue; the cosmological argument; Josephus on Jesus.

To begin, I think that Sapien is mistaken when he claims that the non-belief in the existenc of God entails atheism. Now, he seesm to hint at this in the debate by conflating the two concepts, which caused me to think that this is his view. Yet I'm know sure of it after having read his discussion of it here. Agnosticism, as traditional held, claims that one does not hold a belief in God. Atheism, on the other hand, has been traditionally viewed as the beleif that God doesn't exist. Although Sapien insists that the two are same, he is mistaken on this account. For any propostion, P, one can take any of three positions towards it: belief that P; belief that not-P; witholding of belief that P or that not-P. Regarding the proposition 'God exists', the first corresponds to theism, the second atheism, and the third agnosticism. This is a basic fact about propositinal attitudes which, I believe, one can find in any introductory textbook on epistemology (i.e., the theory of knowledge). Now, I could give a clear and decisive counterexample to any claim that not believing 'God exists' is equivalent to believing that God doesn't exist, but I'll do so only if someone needs it to understand this fact about propositional attitudes. (I'm really tired right now.) The importance of this is that being an atheist is a much stronger claim than being an agnostic, and there is more of a burden on the atheist. The atheist needs to present arguments that God doesn't exist, rather than simply purporting that there is no evidence that God does exist. This will only get one to agnosticism.

Secondly, I'm curious about the RRS's view and usage of 'science' in regards to this debate. The female (sorry, I forgot her name) seems to argue that science only deals with repeatable instances. It's that which we can observe and see if it's true (contrasted with God' s universe creating factory). My first question relates to the pertinence of defining science is a debate about God's existence. I have a feeling that the RRS is adhering to some version of scientism, that is, that science is are only means of acquiring truth. One reason a suspect this or something similar is that, besides for the debate, the RRS page asks for theists to give their "scientific" reasons for God's existence. If I'm right about this persepctive, it should be noted that such a posiiton is self-refuting. Why? Because it sets up truth conditions which it cannot itself meet. A propostion isn't scientifically testable. One can't put it in a testube and see if it comes out a certain way. To the point, either the RRS adheres to scientism which is self-refuting, or it's demanding the standards of scientism for a theist, which it can't itself hold. Now, to her definition itself. Science clearly isn't simply about observable entities that can be seen again and again. I'll cite two examples that counter such a claim: black holes and the big bang theory. Neither of these would meet such a criteria, yet both are scientific.

Thirdly, Sapien seems to misunderstand the cosmological argument for the existence of God, at least the cosmological version of it. The argument, formally stated, is as follows:

1) Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence.

2)The universe began to exist.

3)Therefore, the universe has a cause for it existence.

I know of no one who makes the claim that everything must have a cause for its existence, and this is certainly not what this argument is saying. (It may be, however, that Comfort misstated the argument.)

Fourthly, I'd like to briefly mention points related to the position that Jesus didn't exist, particularly Sapient's claim that Josephus never mentions Jesus. The claim that Josephus never mentions Jesus is simply not true; he does so in two different spots. Sapien makes the claim that these are forgeries. Well, this maybe true depending on what he means. If he's claiming that there is reference to Jesus that is a forgery, then he's right. If he's claiming that every refernce to Jesus withing Josephus' writing, then he is mistaken. Of the two texts referring to Jesus, one has later Christian interpolations, but two points can be made about this. First, the interpolations are only a minor portion of the text. Second, there is another reference to Jesus. Granted, the one with the interpolation is the main text, but it still isn't completely forged. Moreover, the onus is on someone like Sapien to argue for this radical claim, for nearly all scholars hold this position. Here's a quote from one of the foremost New Testment scholars of the last several decades, Raymond Brown, in the first volume of his "The Death of the Messiah":

"Even if few scholars today would argue that Josephus wrote the whole passage as quoted, most would contend that Josephus wrote a basic text to which Christians made additions. In vocabulary and style large parts of it are plausibly from the hand of Josephus . . . . Although some statments in the Testimonium are fulsome and fit a Christian pen, other statements would scarcely have originated (in the 2d cent. or later) with those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God, e.g., 'a wise man' seems an understatement. . . Moreover, we have no evidence of Christians in the 1st cent. referring to themselves as a tribe or clan. The Testimonium is found in all mss. of Ant. and was cited in full in the early 4th cent. by Eusebius. . . It may have been known in some form in the early 3d cent. by Origen, who discussed the fact that Josephus mentioned Jesus without believing that he was Messiah. . . . The partial interpolation or gloss theory finds support also among Jewish scholars." 

Sorry for the length, but I simply wanted to point out the mistakeness of Sapien's view on this issue. He's the one in minority on this position, and it seems to speak of a lack of sincere desire to acquire truth. They seem to be simply interested finding and arguing agaisnt theism, particularly Christianity, at all cost.

With all that stated, I'd like to briefly point out what seems to me to be a philosophical error that hides withing some of the RRS's reasoning. The error relates to the field of epistemology and is this: one needn't be able to argue, show, or "prove" that a propostion is true for one to justifiably believe it or know it. This seems to be the view of some of the RRS squad and it's a mistake, and one which can be found in just about any introductory textbook on epistemology. Why, you may ask? Well, simply put, if that's the requirement for knowledge, then no one can know anything. Why? Because one would have to show, give reasons for, "prove" any belief to be true before it would be justified, but this would have to be applied to reason given, and so on, and so on. We'd have an infinite regress on our hands.

Well, this is all I have to say. I hope for some interesting and fruitful discussion from members of the RRS or anyone for that matter.

Thanks!

Lance


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I should point out that

I should point out that simply adding the word called could make Josephus' statement true. Atheists as far as I know don't have any proof that this is not the truth. Also if Josephus was hiding his Christianity from everyone, this could be a suptle hint that he thinks Jesus was really the Christ. THere is another version of Joesphus which does say was called Christ in this spot.

Also some Jewish websites make a difference between Christ and the Christ. As in there are many Christs but only one the Christ.


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Before using Josephus as a

Before using Josephus as a reference, you may want to read this.

FYI, it's Sapient, not Sapien and the lady's name is Kelly. 

 

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It should be noted that

It should be noted that Josephus was a Pharisee and no one has offered any proof that the passage is a forgery. There are still other possibilities. Also the New Testament is considered Contempary by the majority of scholars. The fact that the documents were not collect for hundreds of years after they were written adds to the fact that they should be counted individually as support for Jesus. So the post imediately denies contempary documents which exist (The NT). As well as other documents that could still be second person accounts. (at most information learned from someone's grandfather.

My next question is how old does a document have to be before it is considered to old to be historically reliable. The NT is by far closer to the events descibed then many documents we claim are history. 


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I'm sorry, but did you just

I'm sorry, but did you just say the New Testament is contemporary evidence of the New Testament?

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Krehlic wrote: I'm sorry,

Krehlic wrote:
I'm sorry, but did you just say the New Testament is contemporary evidence of the New Testament?
Contemporary evedence for Jesus, not for itself.


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Quote: Secondly, I'm

Quote:
Secondly, I'm curious about the RRS's view and usage of 'science' in regards to this debate. The female (sorry, I forgot her name) seems to argue that science only deals with repeatable instances. It's that which we can observe and see if it's true (contrasted with God' s universe creating factory). My first question relates to the pertinence of defining science is a debate about God's existence. I have a feeling that the RRS is adhering to some version of scientism, that is, that science is are only means of acquiring truth. One reason a suspect this or something similar is that, besides for the debate, the RRS page asks for theists to give their "scientific" reasons for God's existence. If I'm right about this persepctive, it should be noted that such a posiiton is self-refuting. Why? Because it sets up truth conditions which it cannot itself meet. A propostion isn't scientifically testable. One can't put it in a testube and see if it comes out a certain way. To the point, either the RRS adheres to scientism which is self-refuting, or it's demanding the standards of scientism for a theist, which it can't itself hold. Now, to her definition itself. Science clearly isn't simply about observable entities that can be seen again and again. I'll cite two examples that counter such a claim: black holes and the big bang theory. Neither of these would meet such a criteria, yet both are scientific.

I'll have to watch the debate again to be sure, but I don't think Kelly was implying that science is based on repeating, observable instances. I do remember the universe factory comment and Sapient's analogy of talking to builders and such, but I believe they were insinuating that there is no evidence in, hopefully, a simpler way. As far as science being our only way of finding truth; I'm curious, are you suggesting that faith is another way? Empirical inquiry and observable reality go pretty far in the way of finding truth, but they haven't revealed a god. And to demand that a theist offer evidence of their god is not self-refuting (I don't see how you could come to that conclusion). It's a good way to demonstrate that their religion is based on nothing but faith.

Quote:

Thirdly, Sapien seems to misunderstand the cosmological argument for the existence of God, at least the cosmological version of it. The argument, formally stated, is as follows:

1) Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence.

2)The universe began to exist.

3)Therefore, the universe has a cause for it existence.

I know of no one who makes the claim that everything must have a cause for its existence, and this is certainly not what this argument is saying. (It may be, however, that Comfort misstated the argument.)

If I remember correctly (and I think I do), Sapient argued for an eternal universe. I don't think he meant a static universe, but eternal matter. This universe had a beginning. That is, we don't know what kind of a state matter was in prior to the big bang. 

But, on the cosmological argument: If you believe in a personal god -- one that you believe you know about through some kind of revelation through someone at some time in the past -- then the argument may seem very compelling to you. But let’s say you get past theism and believe, rather, in the possibility of a non-personal god who only needed to create the universe. At that point, no longer believing in any kind of revelation, you should realize that the idea of a god is purely man-made. Any deist or agnostic should realize this. God is a fantastic idea, dreamt up by man, to which you need apply no boundaries that can explain whatever you want it to.
Or, you can say, "I don't know." There are gaps and things that we may never know. But to just make up an entity to explain the gaps is not at all scientific. And that entity almost certainly doesn't have any roots in truth.

Yes, the big bang needed a cause. That singularity didn't just expand for no reason. But why should we invoke intelligence there? We have barely scratched the surface in our understanding of the universe. The unknown may be unknowable now, and it may always be unknowable. But, then again, we may figure it out in the future.

 

Quote:

Fourthly, I'd like to briefly mention points related to the position that Jesus didn't exist, particularly Sapient's claim that Josephus never mentions Jesus. The claim that Josephus never mentions Jesus is simply not true; he does so in two different spots. Sapien makes the claim that these are forgeries. Well, this maybe true depending on what he means. If he's claiming that there is reference to Jesus that is a forgery, then he's right. If he's claiming that every refernce to Jesus withing Josephus' writing, then he is mistaken. Of the two texts referring to Jesus, one has later Christian interpolations, but two points can be made about this. First, the interpolations are only a minor portion of the text. Second, there is another reference to Jesus. Granted, the one with the interpolation is the main text, but it still isn't completely forged. Moreover, the onus is on someone like Sapien to argue for this radical claim, for nearly all scholars hold this position. Here's a quote from one of the foremost New Testment scholars of the last several decades, Raymond Brown, in the first volume of his "The Death of the Messiah":

"Even if few scholars today would argue that Josephus wrote the whole passage as quoted, most would contend that Josephus wrote a basic text to which Christians made additions. In vocabulary and style large parts of it are plausibly from the hand of Josephus . . . . Although some statments in the Testimonium are fulsome and fit a Christian pen, other statements would scarcely have originated (in the 2d cent. or later) with those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God, e.g., 'a wise man' seems an understatement. . . Moreover, we have no evidence of Christians in the 1st cent. referring to themselves as a tribe or clan. The Testimonium is found in all mss. of Ant. and was cited in full in the early 4th cent. by Eusebius. . . It may have been known in some form in the early 3d cent. by Origen, who discussed the fact that Josephus mentioned Jesus without believing that he was Messiah. . . . The partial interpolation or gloss theory finds support also among Jewish scholars." 

Sorry for the length, but I simply wanted to point out the mistakeness of Sapien's view on this issue. He's the one in minority on this position, and it seems to speak of a lack of sincere desire to acquire truth. They seem to be simply interested finding and arguing agaisnt theism, particularly Christianity, at all cost.

So, you are arguing that "maybe" Josephus wrote something about Jesus and then Christians edited his work? But you admit that there is obvious forgery? So, your argument is "Josephus may or may not be evidence?" But either way, he still wasn't a contemporary of Jesus. Hell, he was born some fifteen years after Jesus' alleged death. 

Now, I don't know about the claim that the majority of scholars believe that there was no historical Jesus. Amongst secular scholars, I'm sure there is a good portion who think that. I myself would go as far to say that there may have been a man that the stories are loosely based on. Perhaps a cult of followers of this guy that eventually got around to legendizing him in stories. But in those stories, there are events that are directly linked to Jesus that should have shown up on some historians’ radar that didn't, especially things like Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem.

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The question is would a

The question is would a historian record the killing of say ten children by someone who killed people on a regular basis? Was bethlehem big enough to matter? (I think at least most Christian historians would say no) Could it also be that no one cared what happened in a Jewish town. Does a non Jewish historian ever mention a Jewish town or anything about Jewish people? Especially an event that woldn't be a major event for the non-Jewish people.


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simple theist

simple theist wrote:
Krehlic wrote:
I'm sorry, but did you just say the New Testament is contemporary evidence of the New Testament?
Contemporary evedence for Jesus, not for itself.

Well, considering the New Testament is based on Jesus, I'd say that's what it adds up to.

You've got the gospels and a bunch of epistles that are either written by Paul, Jude, James or anonymous (and maybe John), all based on the gospels. Paul never met Jesus, nor does he ever write about anything prior to his death on the cross. We don't know who Jude is. We don't know who James is (most people claim that he was Jesus' brother, but he does not identify himself as such and the apostle James is supposed to be dead at this time. James was a common name). The author of John 1, 2 and 3 does not identify himself but the style of writing is very similar to the gospel of John (which was written long after the alleged death of Jesus and after the synoptic gospels).

Do I really need to comment on Acts and Revelation? 

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simple theist wrote:The

simple theist wrote:
The question is would a historian record the killing of say ten children by someone who killed people on a regular basis? Was bethlehem big enough to matter? (I think at least most Christian historians would say no) Could it also be that no one cared what happened in a Jewish town. Does a non Jewish historian ever mention a Jewish town or anything about Jewish people? Especially an event that woldn't be a major event for the non-Jewish people.

You mean just like somehow forgetting to record even the slightest notice of a person who:

- Is "renowned far and wide"?

- Makes the blind see again?

- Casts demons out of humans?

- Performs amazing feats of magic and healing?

- Was somehow born of a virgin?

- Is reported to be the very offspring of the almighty monotheistic god.

- Raises a man from the dead in front of witnesses?

- Is crucified as the entire earth shakes?

- Is raised from the dead himself and and walks again?

- Causes the dead (zombies) to rise up from their grave and wander about appearing to relatives.?

Sure, who'd notice that?  Ever get the feeling that you're trying way too hard to make a square peg fit into a round hole ?

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AmericanIdle wrote: simple

AmericanIdle wrote:

simple theist wrote:
The question is would a historian record the killing of say ten children by someone who killed people on a regular basis? Was bethlehem big enough to matter? (I think at least most Christian historians would say no) Could it also be that no one cared what happened in a Jewish town. Does a non Jewish historian ever mention a Jewish town or anything about Jewish people? Especially an event that woldn't be a major event for the non-Jewish people.

You mean just like somehow forgetting to record even the slightest notice of a person who:

- Is "renowned far and wide"?

- Makes the blind see again?

- Casts demons out of humans?

- Performs amazing feats of magic and healing?

- Was somehow born of a virgin?

- Is reported to be the very offspring of the almighty monotheistic god.

- Raises a man from the dead in front of witnesses?

- Is crucified as the entire earth shakes?

- Is raised from the dead himself and and walks again?

- Causes the dead (zombies) to rise up from their grave and wander about appearing to relatives.?

Sure, who'd notice that? Ever get the feeling that you're trying way too hard to make a square peg fit into a round hole ?

I was simply talking about babies getting killed in Bethlehem. None of the above applies to that. Once again, my questions stand, and so far unanswered. The entire point is did any non-Jewish historian ever write about any Jewish person (excluding any major event that was important to that historian becaus it involved his own people? Can you show proof that a historian would even investigate the claims the Jews made about Jesus or simply write the claims off as obvious lies since they came from a Jew?


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Krehlic wrote: simple

Krehlic wrote:

simple theist wrote:
Krehlic wrote:
I'm sorry, but did you just say the New Testament is contemporary evidence of the New Testament?
Contemporary evedence for Jesus, not for itself.

Well, considering the New Testament is based on Jesus, I'd say that's what it adds up to.

You've got the gospels and a bunch of epistles that are either written by Paul, Jude, James or anonymous (and maybe John), all based on the gospels. Paul never met Jesus, nor does he ever write about anything prior to his death on the cross. We don't know who Jude is. We don't know who James is (most people claim that he was Jesus' brother, but he does not identify himself as such and the apostle James is supposed to be dead at this time. James was a common name). The author of John 1, 2 and 3 does not identify himself but the style of writing is very similar to the gospel of John (which was written long after the alleged death of Jesus and after the synoptic gospels).

Do I really need to comment on Acts and Revelation?

You have no proof of anything you just said. You have no proof Paul never met Jesus. Paul also never writes about any other false Messiah, so no one should expect Paul to write about Jesus before he believed Jesus was the Messiah. You also have no proof that Paul didn't write about Jesus before the cross and those documents are simply lost (who would preserve documents that were clearly no longer true). You have also not showed how any of these documents are fake or not contemperary.


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Krehlic wrote:

[MOD EDIT - duplicate post removed]

 


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Before responding to some

Before responding to some comments, I'd to note my appreciation for the amiable responses I've received; their intelligent and interesting. I'd hope that I wouldn't simply recieive insults, and I surely haven't.

Krehlic, I appreciate your detailed response, and I'll try my best to clarify what I'm saying and answer your questions. My computer is giving me a fit, so I'll probably respond to your comments with several posts.

You Wrote:

As far as science being our only way of finding truth; I'm curious, are you suggesting that faith is another way? Empirical inquiry and observable reality go pretty far in the way of finding truth, but they haven't revealed a god. And to demand that a theist offer evidence of their god is not self-refuting (I don't see how you could come to that conclusion).

Actually, all I stated was that the belief that truth can only be acquired through science is literally self-refuting. It can't be true. I made no mention to faith in any of the post. The problem with holding to a belief that science is our only means to truth is that the beleif itself is not scientific. If it were true, then it'd be false because it can't meet it's own truth conditons by being itself scientific.

You make a further claim that to demand that a theist offer proof for God's isn't self-refuting. I happily agree, and I'm puzzled as to why you think I would hold such a view. Throughout my post, I made virtually no references to belief in God or the such. I don't think I mentioned faith or that accepting God is rational. Again, what I said was that scientism, the belief that truth can only be acquired through science, is self-refuting. Maybe I need to clarify some more, but I think you need to explain how you derived such a view from the above post.


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simple theist wrote: I was

simple theist wrote:
I was simply talking about babies getting killed in Bethlehem. None of the above applies to that. Once again, my questions stand, and so far unanswered. The entire point is did any non-Jewish historian ever write about any Jewish person (excluding any major event that was important to that historian becaus it involved his own people? Can you show proof that a historian would even investigate the claims the Jews made about Jesus or simply write the claims off as obvious lies since they came from a Jew?

I'm going to have to turn that question over to someone who knows more about the historians of the time. Maybe Rook will happen by it. But it seems to me that if most non-Jewish historians disliked the Jews, they would have jumped on such an act as their king having all the babies of a city slaughtered. And the city was supposedly crowded because the Roman's were taxing the people, so there should have been quite a few babies to kill.

And that's another thing to look at by the way. There is no record of that taxing. There are other instances of taxing on roman record, but not one around that time. And especially not one that required people to trace their lineage back to an ancestor from over a thousand years earlier. This would be absurd for the Jews to do, but it’s even more ridiculous to think that the Romans would do such a thing. Why would they care?

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Krehlic wrote:   I'm

Krehlic wrote:

 

I'm going to have to turn that question over to someone who knows more about the historians of the time. Maybe Rook will happen by it. But it seems to me that if most non-Jewish historians disliked the Jews, they would have jumped on such an act as their king having all the babies of a city slaughtered. And the city was supposedly crowded because the Roman's were taxing the people, so there should have been quite a few babies to kill.

 

It depends on if the non-Jewish historians would have actually known about the event. Paper wasn't cheap, and the Roman Empire was old. If a Historian was only writing about Herald, then maybe one should excpect him to include the infants being killed in Bethlehem, but if he was writing about the entire history of the Roman Empire, one should not expect him to mention some trival matter like babies getting killed. (Trival only in comparison to how many times a Roman Emperor ordered someone dead..Murder of course is not trival).

As for the city being crowded, it depends on how big the city was. Also you assume that the people who had to go to Bethlehem would actually have brought their children with them. This would be unlikely unless the whole family had to go to Bethlehem. If the father was the only one required to go, then for the majority of people one could assume they left their children home. Also I don't think the census is mentioned as the exact cause of the over crowding.

The rest I'll have to post about later, and yea I agree Rook would probably be the best person to have answered the questions I've made. 


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Before moving to the next

Before moving to the next section of your response, I'd like to note that I do agree with you that "Empirical inquiry and observable reality go pretty far in the way of finding truth." But I should note that it presupposes a notion of what truth is, which isn't a scientific issue. Sure, science does, has, and will continue to give us knowledge; I don't dispute this.

You wrote:

Sapient argued for an eternal universe. I don't think he meant a static universe, but eternal matter. This universe had a beginning. That is, we don't know what kind of a state matter was in prior to the big bang. 

As I remember, this sounds right concerning what Sapient said. However, my comment dealt more with his discussion of the cosmological argument as formally wrote in the original post, not with Sapient's view of the universe, etc. My problem with what he said is that either Comfort made a gross error (which is surely possible; remember, I bypassed much of what he said) or Sapient caricatured the argument by stating that it consisted of the premise "everything has a cause."

 

You Wrote:

So, you are arguing that "maybe" Josephus wrote something about Jesus and then Christians edited his work? But you admit that there is obvious forgery? So, your argument is "Josephus may or may not be evidence?" But either way, he still wasn't a contemporary of Jesus. Hell, he was born some fifteen years after Jesus' alleged death

Now, I don't know about the claim that the majority of scholars believe that there was no historical Jesus. Amongst secular scholars, I'm sure there is a good portion who think that. I myself would go as far to say that there may have been a man that the stories are loosely based on. Perhaps a cult of followers of this guy that eventually got around to legendizing him in stories. But in those stories, there are events that are directly linked to Jesus that should have shown up on some historians’ radar that didn't, especially things like Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem.

I think that there are some points you bring up here that engender the need for me to elucidate further what I was saying. The whole issue surrounding Josephus could have been made clearer if I had included the various quotes from he and noted what I thought about them, but the post was so long anyway, and I didn't want to spend the time to write out the quote. Now, to your question, yes, I'm stating that Josephus refers to Jesus AND there was later Christian forgery. Before proceeding further, though, I like to point out that I said nothing about whether Jesus existed or not, and neither did the quote from Raymond Brown. I was simply discussing what Josephus said about Jesus. (By the way, it's not the case that secular scholars doubt the existence of Jesus. This is a radical claim that nearly no one accepts, and I'll make mention of the link which Susan referenced below. Actually, the dominate position in scholarship would be something near to your own position.) Also, I made no claim about the date of Josephus' writing either. Furthermore, in the post, I make no claim of Josephus being evidence for anything. I want for that to be clear, for right now I'm simply dealing with what Josephus said. Josephus mentions Jesus in two separate spots within his "Antiquities", and within one of these refernces, there are some later Christian forgeries. The reference is a very large one, and there are some explicitly Christianized sayings within it which most scholars think, as do I, that Josephus didn't write. However, the rest of this lengthy reference to Jesus was penned by Josephus. If you're wondering, "Why assume that any of it was writtin by him if some was forged," then I'd first recommend that you reread the quote by Raymond Brown; he give excellent reasons for holding this view. Also, I'd like to point out that nearly no scholars hold to the view that this is (larger) reference to Jesus is a complete forgery. As I noted, the burden is on anyone who would make such a claim; it's indeed a minority opinion.

In order to clarify further my reason for refering to Josephus, I should make it explicit that this discussion was more targeted at the comments Sapient made in the than it is to anything else. Comfort references Josephus as someone who notes Jesus and Sapient responds: "But it's a forgery." My problem with this, as I stated in the original post, is that this statement is true only if he's saying that there is a forgery within Josephus' writings that refers to Jesus. It's false if he's claiming that Josephus didn't mention Jesus. The problem I had with this is that it seems to evince a desire to simply show one can win in a debate against a theist.

Regarding your refernce to the killings at Bethlehem, briefly seeing "Simple Theists" response, I think that I'd agree with him. Such an incident would have only included a handful, at most 10-12 babies, so it wouldn't have been a grandiose event. But I'm not going to deal with something specific like this further because I see it as a red herring concernig the issues we've been discussing. Maybe another post.

I use another post on this thread to respond to Susan's link.


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Lance wrote: Before

Lance wrote:

Before responding to some comments, I'd to note my appreciation for the amiable responses I've received; their intelligent and interesting. I'd hope that I wouldn't simply recieive insults, and I surely haven't.

Krehlic, I appreciate your detailed response, and I'll try my best to clarify what I'm saying and answer your questions. My computer is giving me a fit, so I'll probably respond to your comments with several posts.

You Wrote:

As far as science being our only way of finding truth; I'm curious, are you suggesting that faith is another way? Empirical inquiry and observable reality go pretty far in the way of finding truth, but they haven't revealed a god. And to demand that a theist offer evidence of their god is not self-refuting (I don't see how you could come to that conclusion).

Actually, all I stated was that the belief that truth can only be acquired through science is literally self-refuting. It can't be true. I made no mention to faith in any of the post. The problem with holding to a belief that science is our only means to truth is that the beleif itself is not scientific. If it were true, then it'd be false because it can't meet it's own truth conditons by being itself scientific.

You make a further claim that to demand that a theist offer proof for God's isn't self-refuting. I happily agree, and I'm puzzled as to why you think I would hold such a view. Throughout my post, I made virtually no references to belief in God or the such. I don't think I mentioned faith or that accepting God is rational. Again, what I said was that scientism, the belief that truth can only be acquired through science, is self-refuting. Maybe I need to clarify some more, but I think you need to explain how you derived such a view from the above post.

Alright, I think I read your post with the presupposition that you were arguing for the existence of god after seeing the theist tag under your name. Which, you may be, but I see now that you never stated such.

As for my question about faith; I realize you didn't say anything about faith, I was just curious if that is your alternative way of looking at things. What better, or alternative, way can you give to finding truth other than the scientific method? Perhaps you feel truth in your gut like Stephen Colbert? I understand what you're getting at about scientism, but I'm going to leave the question where it is until tomorrow or to someone else.

And about demanding proof from theists; I misread that part of your post. I was a bit perplexed myself as to how you could come to that conclusion. But, since you didn't, I guess it's ok. 

 

I hope I'm making sense. I was sleepy when I started posting here and I'm even sleepier now.

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Susan, I'd like to make a

Susan, I'd like to make a (hopefully) brief response to what I read from your link. (If anyone is interested, check out the link yourselves.) To begin, I'd want to point out that the work done is quite disingenous and radical. It so radical and off base that I'm wondering if the author is in any sense attempting to be rational or reflective about his views, and I hope you'll see what I'm talking about by the end of this post. I'll admit that I didn't read every bit of it, but I read enough to get a feel for what is was about and realized that it wasn't worth my time to read all of it. (I have plenty of reading material that I find worthy to keep me busy.)

Now, I'll discuss some of the content of this page. To begin, I noted three contemporary authors which he quotes quite appovingly:Dan Barker; John Remsberg; Earl Doherty. I decided to check into the credential of these three, and it's not very impressive. (My source for this was Wikipedia, so if someone knows more about these people, feel free to correct me.) Well, Barker has a B.A in religion and this is it. Remberg, so far as I could tell, has no college degrees. Doherty has a B.A in Ancient History and Classical languages. Now, it should be keenly noted that none of these individuals even have a master's in any area, not to mention that only one has an undergrad in something relevant. It's quite suspect that he doesn't reference a single scholar who works in the area. Someone who is an expert in this time period and who would give credibility to such claims. My suspicion is that he'd be unable to find anyone claiming such radical claims as he makes on his post. And this raises a further question: Why, if it's just "so obvious" that there is no evidence for Jesus' existence, are there no scholars who are experts in this field who adhere to this view? The author makes much of the stunningness of silence, well, that's some silence that is quite stunning if his claims are so clearly true.

I'd like to briefly mention a few more things. First, on his page he claims that Origen has no knowledge of Josephus' reference to Jesus. This is simply not true. Look at the quote from Raymond Brown. Origen metions Josephus' quote. Brown notes where it can be found: Contra Celsum 1.47; also Comm. in Matt. 10.17 on 13:55. Here's another point of discussion. The author claims: "Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclispes (i.e., such as those found in Matthew)." I'm not at all interested in what Pliny said, but in the methodology which this author is using. He seems throughout this page to be putting a lot of emphasis on the lack of "contemporary" testimony, but then, when it comes to something that "refutes" a Biblical claim, he no longer uses this standard. This clearly shows a desire to adhere to some position at all cost. Lastly, most of the argument is simply a non sequitor. What I mean by this is that the premisses (reasons) given don't entail or the conclusion (i.e., no reason to think Jesus existed). He makes a lot of noise about the lack of refernces within historical sources to the more miraculous events in the Gospels. From this, he doesn't just infer that these events didn't happen, but infers that Jesus must not have existed or that every thing recorded in the gospels is false. WOW! If we could infer that everything a historical source said is either false or should not be trusted because of the probability that the source has erred (even if it's erred several times) I'm not what we'd be able to garner from historians. He needs to make an argument for whay the entirety of the these accounts are unreliable. At best, his arguments could give one reason to think that the gospel stories are fabrications. 

I've noted several glaring problems with the presentation of this page. Maybe, Susan, you find this cogent and persuasive or maybe you find it at least deserving to be perused throughout. I just don't find either of these to be true, but am open to being persuaded.

 


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Lance wrote: Susan, I'd

Lance wrote:

Susan, I'd like to make a (hopefully) brief response to what I read from your link. (If anyone is interested, check out the link yourselves.) To begin, I'd want to point out that the work done is quite disingenous and radical. It so radical and off base that I'm wondering if the author is in any sense attempting to be rational or reflective about his views, and I hope you'll see what I'm talking about by the end of this post. I'll admit that I didn't read every bit of it, but I read enough to get a feel for what is was about and realized that it wasn't worth my time to read all of it. (I have plenty of reading material that I find worthy to keep me busy.)

Now, I'll discuss some of the content of this page. To begin, I noted three contemporary authors which he quotes quite appovingly:Dan Barker; John Remsberg; Earl Doherty. I decided to check into the credential of these three, and it's not very impressive. (My source for this was Wikipedia, so if someone knows more about these people, feel free to correct me.) Well, Barker has a B.A in religion and this is it. Remberg, so far as I could tell, has no college degrees. Doherty has a B.A in Ancient History and Classical languages. Now, it should be keenly noted that none of these individuals even have a master's in any area, not to mention that only one has an undergrad in something relevant. It's quite suspect that he doesn't reference a single scholar who works in the area. Someone who is an expert in this time period and who would give credibility to such claims. My suspicion is that he'd be unable to find anyone claiming such radical claims as he makes on his post. And this raises a further question: Why, if it's just "so obvious" that there is no evidence for Jesus' existence, are there no scholars who are experts in this field who adhere to this view? The author makes much of the stunningness of silence, well, that's some silence that is quite stunning if his claims are so clearly true.

I'd like to briefly mention a few more things. First, on his page he claims that Origen has no knowledge of Josephus' reference to Jesus. This is simply not true. Look at the quote from Raymond Brown. Origen metions Josephus' quote. Brown notes where it can be found: Contra Celsum 1.47; also Comm. in Matt. 10.17 on 13:55. Here's another point of discussion. The author claims: "Pliny also provides us with a direct refutation of the Gospel claims of earthquakes and eclispes (i.e., such as those found in Matthew)." I'm not at all interested in what Pliny said, but in the methodology which this author is using. He seems throughout this page to be putting a lot of emphasis on the lack of "contemporary" testimony, but then, when it comes to something that "refutes" a Biblical claim, he no longer uses this standard. This clearly shows a desire to adhere to some position at all cost. Lastly, most of the argument is simply a non sequitor. What I mean by this is that the premisses (reasons) given don't entail or the conclusion (i.e., no reason to think Jesus existed). He makes a lot of noise about the lack of refernces within historical sources to the more miraculous events in the Gospels. From this, he doesn't just infer that these events didn't happen, but infers that Jesus must not have existed or that every thing recorded in the gospels is false. WOW! If we could infer that everything a historical source said is either false or should not be trusted because of the probability that the source has erred (even if it's erred several times) I'm not what we'd be able to garner from historians. He needs to make an argument for whay the entirety of the these accounts are unreliable. At best, his arguments could give one reason to think that the gospel stories are fabrications.

I've noted several glaring problems with the presentation of this page. Maybe, Susan, you find this cogent and persuasive or maybe you find it at least deserving to be perused throughout. I just don't find either of these to be true, but am open to being persuaded.

 

At least you made it past the first paragraph. I started reading it and quickly realized that it was pointless.


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simple theist wrote: You

simple theist wrote:
You have no proof of anything you just said. You have no proof Paul never met Jesus. Paul also never writes about any other false Messiah, so no one should expect Paul to write about Jesus before he believed Jesus was the Messiah. You also have no proof that Paul didn't write about Jesus before the cross and those documents are simply lost (who would preserve documents that were clearly no longer true). You have also not showed how any of these documents are fake or not contemperary.

 

I have proof of everything I just said. 

Paul never did meet Jesus. Point out the verse where he does and I'll concede. If he had met him, I'm sure he would tell about it. I don't know what you're getting at about Paul writing about Jesus before he converted to Christianity. I simply said Paul never mentions any part of the Jesus story other than the death, burial and resurrection. And if Paul wrote anything about Jesus' life before his crucifixion that was lost; how does that help you're argument? I could just as well say Josephus might have written that Jesus never existed, but that it was lost. And I'm not going to get into the gospels and their authorship here. There is just way too much to cover and it's not going to happen in a paragraph (perhaps a lengthy essay). None of the writers of the epistles, nor any of the writers of the gospels for that matter, claim to have met or seen Jesus. Luke was not an apostle, nor did he ever see Jesus. Matthew, Mark and John are anonymous.

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At best, his arguments

At best, his arguments could give one reason to think that the gospel stories are fabrications. 

 

This should have said:

At best, his arguments could give one reason to thnk that the gospel stories have fabricatons.


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Krehlic wrote:

Krehlic wrote:

simple theist wrote:
You have no proof of anything you just said. You have no proof Paul never met Jesus. Paul also never writes about any other false Messiah, so no one should expect Paul to write about Jesus before he believed Jesus was the Messiah. You also have no proof that Paul didn't write about Jesus before the cross and those documents are simply lost (who would preserve documents that were clearly no longer true). You have also not showed how any of these documents are fake or not contemperary.

 

I have proof of everything I just said.

Paul never did meet Jesus. Point out the verse where he does and I'll concede. If he had met him, I'm sure he would tell about it. I don't know what you're getting at about Paul writing about Jesus before he converted to Christianity. I simply said Paul never mentions any part of the Jesus story other than the death, burial and resurrection. And if Paul wrote anything about Jesus' life before his crucifixion that was lost; how does that help you're argument? I could just as well say Josephus might have written that Jesus never existed, but that it was lost. And I'm not going to get into the gospels and their authorship here. There is just way too much to cover and it's not going to happen in a paragraph (perhaps a lengthy essay). None of the writers of the epistles, nor any of the writers of the gospels for that matter, claim to have met or seen Jesus. Luke was not an apostle, nor did he ever see Jesus. Matthew, Mark and John are anonymous.

Just because the New Testament doesn't mention Paul having never met Jesus (while Jesus is alive), is not proof that he did not meet Jesus. You can not go one way of the other. There is also the issue of Paul's seeing Jesus on Damascus Road.

Once again, you have no proof that the New Testament is not Contempary. Your obviously going to say a bunch of people say one date, and then I'm going to say a bunch of people say a different date. 

Paul was also alive the same time Jesus was. 


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quote=simple theist]

simple theist wrote:

Just because the New Testament doesn't mention Paul having never met Jesus (while Jesus is alive), is not proof that he did not meet Jesus. You can not go one way of the other. There is also the issue of Paul's seeing Jesus on Damascus Road.

Once again, you have no proof that the New Testament is not Contempary. Your obviously going to say a bunch of people say one date, and then I'm going to say a bunch of people say a different date.

Paul was also alive the same time Jesus was.

I'm not contesting that some authors of the New Testament (esp. Paul) were contemporaries of Jesus. I'm contesting that the New Testament can be considered evidence. Now, if you want to argue that the mere existence of the New Testament and the existence of a Christian cult in the first place is evidence of the man Jesus (in an historical, non-biblical sense), I'll agree with you. I mean, its no secret that Christians existed or what they believed. There's a good bet their cult was started by the man they came to legendize and revere. Hell, maybe he was even crucified (not unlikely). I already stated in a post to Lance above that I think there was a man that the stories in the gospels are loosely based on. I find this to be evidenced by nothing other than the existence of Christians and their book. If you want to argue with a Jesus mythicist, you've got the wrong guy. It seems like you think you are. But I would say that the lack of contemporary evidence should demonstrate that the man wasn't as great or well known, by any means, as the Jesus in the bible (and certainly not magical).

As for Paul; I think you misunderstand. I am not saying that because he never says he met Jesus, he didn't. I only pointed out that he never said he did and that if he had, it is likely that he would have mentioned it on more than one occasion. But you cannot say that because he might have met Jesus we should assume that he did, or that we cannot sway either way on the possibility. Sure, you could say that there is a small chance that he did meet Jesus and chose not to write about it later on or that the writing in question was lost. But it is far more likely that he never did meet him. But my only point on this subject above -- in response to you -- was that even if there were at one time writing where Paul

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