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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why Christians are weird

My wife and I had a long conversation over dinner with a business acquaintance who, as it turns out, is a Buddhist. We discussed various philosophical and scientific subjects and also branched out into history and comparative religion. The dinner stretched out for hours.

At the end of the evening, my friend said this: "You two are the most intelligent Bible literalists I have met." I guess that is kind of like saying you don't sweat much for a fat girl. But he and I are friends and I know he meant it as a compliment and we took it as such. But you see, non-Christians think of Bible literalists as ignorant and brain-washed.

It has happened many times, that people have asked me how I can take some of the stands I do. Because I don't seem like a hayseed or an imbecile, they have a hard time understanding how I can believe the Bible is true. It carries over into the discussions on this blog. My last post, for instance, presented some historical evidence for the existence of man and dinosaur at the same time. The response has been general ridicule and/or wonderment that I could actually believe such things.

I have to say that from my point of view, the responses to my posts on this particular subject have been pretty weak. The literary assertions are old news and seem to me like a very lame attempt to dismiss hundreds of years of historical documentation. The references to Behemoth and Leviathan are from people who are not terribly familiar with the subject. In that particular case I didn't expect a lot since the people who are commenting for the most part don't believe the Bible is a valid source anyway and their heart may not be in it. But really, make fun if you will be all of those historical reports will remain and isn't it kind of whistling past the graveyard when all you can do is make fun because there is no other way?

How can someone be weird enough to believe that the Bible is true?

As a Christian, I have to say that for me it is intellectually dishonest for me to depend on one part of the book and dismiss other sections. I know quite well that some of the Bible is prophetic and some is allegorical. I know which parts those are. I know some of it is historical narrative. I recognize the allegorical for what it is and depend on the historical for being accurate. Bible scholars know how to differentiate between allegory and history based on various traits of the text - author, subject, audience, tone, language, time of writing - and have understood this for many centuries. The Bible is accurate in the original language. One has to keep an eye on translations to be sure one is following the text correctly. God didn't inspire the King James Bible even if the effort to compile it was remarkable. The New International Version is not a new Word from on high, just an attempt to translate the meaning in a more modern-friendly form.

The Bible asserts that it is the Word of God, that it was all inspired, that is that God inspired the individual men to write the words on parchment and whatever else they had at hand. It states that all of the scripture is profitable for correction and for doctrine and for learning. If you know the whole Bible, and it fits together quite nicely, then you have to compromise in some way to not accept it at face value if you are indeed a Christian.

I believe a God capable of creating all material things including the forces and time itself is quite capable of giving us a communication from Him for us to study. It is a matter of faith. This is faith, and either you have it or you don't.

Some who come here have faith in science that may be as deep and abiding as my faith in God. I respect the knowledge of many of you, even when I completely disagree. There are intelligent and dedicated people who comment here and I do appreciate them. To some extent they cannot understand my positions but then again we don't usually go there. Of course there are also Christians who comment who do agree with me and will also email me now and again and I do appreciate that.

To make it clear, that my position is (and seems unshakable) that the Bible is reliable as the Word of God and that we will find that the sum of the evidence we find in the fossil records and in organisms and also in outer space and the study of physics that eventually the position I take, now largely unpopular, will become the accepted position. I am not just saying I believe because I believe. I am saying the facts, to me, better represent my beliefs. It is a well reasoned position to take, based on the evidence I see and the world view I have.

Tomorrow, I will present a challenge to those on the other side of the fence. I am giving some specific examples of evidences of man and dinosaur together and will make it easy for you to refute or agree with them. At least, it is my hope that I can present these evidences in such a way that you will be able to address them clearly and individually.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

33 comments:

highboy said...

I definitely agree that if you take one part of the Bible out, you may as well throw it all away in the trash can. Many believe that all you need is the NT, but what about the OT? That Jesus Christ existed is a fact. (Other than the one case over in Italy, where someone is actually challenging that) But it is accepted by historians Christian and secular alike that Jesus was real, and that His teachings were real, if not the miracles. Two things on that subject:

1. It has been proven that the NT was written hundreds of years after the OT.

2. It has been proven that Jesus existed, and is accepted by historians from all walks of life that He was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, traveled throughout Judea and Galilee preaching, and was crucified. Only His divinity and miracles are up for grabs.

3. That the OT contains prophecies about a Messiah is fact.

4. That Jesus is the only man in recorded history to fulfill each prophecy in the OT is a fact, concerning the Messiah. Even his transportation into Jerusalem (donkey's colt) was told of hundreds of years before His existence.

To take it further, Jesus is recorded to have refered to Himself as the Messiah and the Son of God. (Eventually) So

1. That Jesus' teachings inspired billions for the last 2 thousand years is a fact.

2. It is accepted that Jesus DID in fact preach these wise teachings.

3. That Jesus claimed to be the Messiah is a fact.

So Jesus was

1. Crazy
2. A liar
3. The Messiah

It is not altogether concievable that a crazy person would teach what Jesus taught. A liar would gain nothing from claiming to be the Messiah, in fact Jesus knew He would die. Usually people don't lie about themselves in order to be killed. That leaves one option. Well, that's my sermon for the day. Sorry radar. Good post.

highboy said...

I lied, that was a lot more than two things. What can I say? I love Jesus.

Anonymous said...

"I definitely agree that if you take one part of the Bible out, you may as well throw it all away in the trash can."

Unicorns are real? (although maybe that's a translation issue . . .) And who says take out?

highboy lists more than two things:

1) Yes.

2) I'll go with this. I don't know if all the details are quite as secure, and some folks argue with the very first premise, but sounds good enough . . .

3) Yes.

4) Well, the folks (in the broad sense) who came up with those prophecies don't actually agree with this. Heck, some of us are still waiting for the Messiah. And as it is said, "If you are planting a tree and you hear that Messiah has come, finish planting the tree, then go and inquire." [Found interesting article randomly googling that quote: "What to Do Until the Messiah Comes: On Jewish Worldliness].

And of course, accounts written down some time after the fact are never altered - even entirely unconsiously and unintentionally - to fit with beliefs, expectations, desires . . . . jeez, just read some of the research on memory - if it's correct, forget about the literal truth of the Bible, we can't even count on the literal truth of our own recollections!

The second half of this point will be distinctly underwhelming for anyone who was ever misquoted.

. . . so . . .
1) Yep.

2) Could be. Seems reasonable enough.

3) It's an assertion. A fact? We can't be sure.

"So Jesus was . ." .

Ah, the good old "Lord, Liar or Lunatic" argument! One response

" . . . In either case, this argument is flawed. First, it relies for impact on a premise which is is both ambiguous and controversial, which is the question of just what "Jesus' claims" were. Second, it makes unwarranted extrapolations from the general idea of saying something known not to be literally true to the worst sort of malicious lying, and from believing something which is not true to raving lunacy. This second point is dependent upon the first, as the degree to which one can validly make such extrapolations depends on what the claims in question are, but on a reasonable view they go too far in any case . . . "

" A liar would gain nothing from claiming to be the Messiah"

Oddly enough, a good number of people have done so throughout history. It seems quite possisble at least some of them were liars.

" in fact Jesus knew He would die"
Well, that's an assertion. One vital for a great deal of Christianity, but an assertion none of the less.

"I lied, that was a lot more than two things. What can I say? I love Jesus."

That's pretty funny.

Radar:
" But you see, non-Christians think of Bible literalists as ignorant and brain-washed."

Some Christians too? (And there are other explanations . . . )

"they have a hard time understanding how I can believe the Bible is true"
Well, some might have a hard time understanding how you can believe the Bible is all literally true (except for the bits you know aren't. . .)

"The response has been general ridicule and/or wonderment that I could actually believe such things."

Why do you think this is?

"The references to Behemoth and Leviathan are from people who are not terribly familiar with the subject"
Guilty as charged. It's been an education.

Didn't you say that your faith in God didn't depend on the literal truth of the Bible?

-Dan S., a poached egg . . .

highboy said...

"And of course, accounts written down some time after the fact are never altered - even entirely unconsiously and unintentionally - to fit with beliefs, expectations, desires . . . . jeez, just read some of the research on memory - if it's correct, forget about the literal truth of the Bible, we can't even count on the literal truth of our own recollections!"

That response has always baffled me. There is not one valid shred of evidence to suggest they have been altered, but unbelievers claim they just HAD to have been altered at some point in time. In that case, how do we know any history hasn't been altered?

"3) It's an assertion. A fact? We can't be sure."

No, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. (John 4:25-26)

"In either case, this argument is flawed. First, it relies for impact on a premise which is is both ambiguous and controversial, which is the question of just what "Jesus' claims" were"

He claimed to be the Messiah. It is recorded in the Bible and there is not evidence to refute it.

" A liar would gain nothing from claiming to be the Messiah"

Oddly enough, a good number of people have done so throughout history. It seems quite possisble at least some of them were liars."

You know what I meant. You are a master of word salad, so I'll be as specific as possible: No one living in Galilee under the ancient Roman empire would gain anything but persecution and sufferng by claiming to be the Messiah.

" in fact Jesus knew He would die"
Well, that's an assertion. One vital for a great deal of Christianity, but an assertion none of the less."

Actually, Jesus predicts His death a few times in the Gospels, refering to the death of the "Son Of Man", who, when looking at OT prophecy, is said to be the Messiah, and since Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, He predicted His own death.

The Bible is all literal. Every precious word.

-Tim., going to gouge out his right eye and cut off his left hand.







"Exactly what Jesus claimed is not known. The gospels are the closest thing we have to an account of his claims, and there is no explicit claim of divinity by Jesus in the gospels, let alone an unambiguous theological statement of what precisely it might mean for a man to claim to be God."

See again John 4:25-26.

Kerwin said...

It sounds like some people are well indoctrinated by governmental propaganda masked as science. Despite the lies the government tells, you can not test history and so history has to be taken on fact. Much of Evolution is historic events that have been interpreted by atheist and/ or agnostics. They are hardly unbiased since they admit that they have removed God from the equation. The Government has also used the ideal of separation of church and state to remove God from consideration in politics. Too many people have chosen to follow the government and not God.

Anonymous said...

" but unbelievers claim they just HAD to have been altered at some point in time."

One might say that people not bound by certain specific religious claims.attitudes are more willing to consider that they might have been altered?

Aditionally, the general response is the obvious one. More or less, if someone says: either a, b, or c, then it makes sense to point out that maybe d, e, f . . .z, y, z . . .

"In that case, how do we know any history hasn't been altered?"

That can be a problem, actually, both on the individual (see above comment on memory) and societal level. It some cases it may be pretty much impossible, at least with available evidence, to reconstruct the reality behind (all sorts of) historical claims. Nevertheless, there are some decent rules of thumb . . .


"there is not evidence to refute it"
That's a fairly weak standard . . .

"You are a master of word salad"
Wow.
with Italic dressing, too?

"-Tim., going to gouge out his right eye and cut off his left hand. "

The sacrifices we make for ironic comedy! " )

* * *

"Why Christians are weird"

Radar, you're being a little tricky in the post, implicitly implying that non-literalists = non-Christians, and skating over the fact that biblical literalism does not = Christianity, but is only one interpretation of/approach to it. Nevertheless, you do more or less acknowledge ("If you know the whole Bible, and it fits together quite nicely, then you have to compromise in some way to not accept it at face value if you are indeed a Christian ") that many Christians do not believe the Bible should be read entirely literally in this fashion - and some even accept the evidence for evolution!

Now, if I hated Christianity and wanted to weaken or destoy it, I would make sure that the albatross of all-or-nothing biblical literalism was hung undetachably around its neck, on the grounds (let's say) that as humanity's advancing knowledge continues to render supernatural or mythical explanations of natural phenomena superfluous - as it has up to this point - such rejected claims would drag the rest of the religion down with it. A growing (educated, considered culturally 'elite,' powerful and influentual) percentage of the population would increasingly turn away from Christian beliefs, an attitude that would trickle down to other sections of society.

Of course, one might argue that various aspects of human nature will render this unlikely - that claims of human superiority and resentment of elites would maintain or even boost Christianity among less-advantaged sections of society; that other Christian teachings are so powerful and of such worth that people would nevertheless reject/marginalize this view, and power a religious revitalization, another Great Awakening; that these ridiculously simplistic and hyperbolic scenarios are useless because they completely misdiagnose human nature . . .

(or, of course, that my prediction re: scientific findings might prove incorrect, as you expect)

But still . . .

-Dan S., master of word salad!

cranky old fart said...

Highboy,

"That Jesus is the only man in recorded history to fulfill each prophecy in the OT is a fact"

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

I mean, come on. How hard is it to Fulfill OT prophetic requirements x,y,z when you use the OT writings as a template for writing the NT.

"So Jesus was

1. Crazy
2. A liar
3. The Messiah"

Are these really the only choices? How about;

4. A misguided rabbi who thought he was the Messiah.

highboy said...

"4. A misguided rabbi who thought he was the Messiah."

Is there evidence to suggest that Jesus was in fact a Jewish Rabbi?

"I mean, come on. How hard is it to Fulfill OT prophetic requirements x,y,z when you use the OT writings as a template for writing the NT."

Evidence?

"-Tim., going to gouge out his right eye and cut off his left hand. "

The sacrifices we make for ironic comedy! " )"

Hey, I thought you of all people would appreciate that!

" A growing (educated, considered culturally 'elite,' powerful and influentual) percentage of the population would increasingly turn away from Christian beliefs, an attitude that would trickle down to other sections of society."

The Bible has prophecy regarding that very thing. Interesting.

A Hermit said...

The arrogance of the literalist approach is evident in this post. You assume that someone who doesn't share your literalist interpretation of the Bible must be unfamiliar with it and unable to understand your belief.

Well, as someone who at one time seriously considered taking his father's advice and studying to become a minister in the General Conference Mennonite Church, who has spent half a lifetime in private study of scripture, and in study groups, done voluntary church service in his youth and wrestled with these ideas since childhood I would like to disabuse you of those misconceptions. I do understand your opinions, because mine used to be very much the same.

You complain that responses to your Young Earth litaeralism are "weak", but you give no reason to accept your assertions of the Bible's alleged historical veracity, or its "accuracy" in the original language. (Early in my journey I had quite a debate with a mathematician friend about my use of the word "accurate" in a similar context. I know what you're trying to say here, but "accurate" and "true" don't mean the same thing.)

If you want to believe in the Bible's literal, historical veracity as a matter of faith, that's fine. If you want to convince anyone else (especially anyone truly familiar with it's innacuracies and internal contradictions) that it is more historically accurate than, say, the Baghavad Gita or Homer's Iliad you'll have to do better than telling us it's true because it says it's true. In an honest open debate I'm not going to give the Bible special treatment just because it's the Bible; I'm going to subject it to the same critiques I would apply to any other text.

You say "Some who come here have faith in science that may be as deep and abiding as my faith in God." This tells me that you are the one who really doesn't understand the other point of view. Reliance on reason is not equivalent to faith. The approach taken to knowledge, and the process of deciding whether or not to accept the veracity of any assertion is very different (and far more rigorous) in the sciences and in scholarly disciplines like history than it is in literalist theology. (I feel can say this with some confidence, having tried both paths). I can point you to any number of Biblical scholars, by the way, who reject the literalist interpretation, and would scoff louder even than I have at your suggestion of real fire-breathing dinosaurs in the Bible, or a literal six day creation six thousand years ago. That line "between allegory and history" as you put it, is not as clear, nor does it necessarily lie where you think it does.

highboy said...

"The arrogance of the literalist approach is evident in this post. You assume that someone who doesn't share your literalist interpretation of the Bible must be unfamiliar with it and unable to understand your belief."

You'll have to point to the statement you consider to be arrogant. All I read was this:

"There are intelligent and dedicated people who comment here and I do appreciate them. To some extent they cannot understand my positions but then again we don't usually go there."

Its not arrogant. Its a fact. The commentors who disagree with Radar have wondered many times how he can take his positions. It is hardly appropriate to call someone a literalist for taking some parts of the Bible literally, (like Genesis) and some parts as allegorical. Every Christian, even those who don't believe in a 6 day Creation are guilty then of being literalist.

"Well, as someone who at one time seriously considered taking his father's advice and studying to become a minister in the General Conference Mennonite Church, who has spent half a lifetime in private study of scripture, and in study groups, done voluntary church service in his youth and wrestled with these ideas since childhood I would like to disabuse you of those misconceptions. I do understand your opinions, because mine used to be very much the same."

That does little to qualify you. I'm surrounded by some of the smartest Biblical experts in North America, and have access to a 2 story library with thousands of books and commentaries and articles by history's most prominent and credible scholars. That doesn't validate my position.

"You complain that responses to your Young Earth litaeralism are "weak", but you give no reason to accept your assertions of the Bible's alleged historical veracity, or its "accuracy" in the original language."

I, for one, have not been totally sold on either a young earth or an old earth. However, as I pointed out in a previous post I've seen more evidence and logic posted by radar than any commentor on this site, who usually counter radar's YEC biased sources with one or two evolutionist biased sources and claim to objective.

"In an honest open debate I'm not going to give the Bible special treatment just because it's the Bible; I'm going to subject it to the same critiques I would apply to any other text."

That's good. Historians and scholars from all walks of life have been doing it for years, and have been unable to dispute its historical veracity.

"You say "Some who come here have faith in science that may be as deep and abiding as my faith in God." This tells me that you are the one who really doesn't understand the other point of view. Reliance on reason is not equivalent to faith."

Reason is entirely subjective. Everyone has different ways of reasoning, logic, and critical thinking. My reliance on reason led me to Christ. There is no way to prove fault in that line of reasoning.

"I can point you to any number of Biblical scholars, by the way, who reject the literalist interpretation, and would scoff louder even than I have at your suggestion of real fire-breathing dinosaurs in the Bible, or a literal six day creation six thousand years ago."

Very true. However, I don't remember radar claiming that wasn't possible. All I've discerned from his post is his particular position, and well thought, well researched posts as explanations. I don't remember him questioning anyone's reasoning, intelligence, or even Christianity for holding a different position. If one looks at the comments on this site, that tactic has been stacked in the column of those who disagree with radar.

radar said...

Dan - "Didn't you say that your faith in God didn't depend on the literal truth of the Bible?"

No, but I did say that my faith in God did not depend on YEC being literally true. I believe I said at that time that I would have to revise how I viewed the literal versus allegorical in my understanding of the Book of Genesis at the very least.

"many Christians do not believe the Bible should be read entirely literally in this fashion - and some even accept the evidence for evolution!"

Yes, many do. But I was explaining my personal viewpoint as a Bible literalist. Not all Christians are literalists. Heck, not all Christians agree in a lot of ways. To me, a Christian is a believer who has accepted Christ as Savior, thus having a personal relationship with God. There is tremedous variability in attendant beliefs within the Christian "kind". :-)

"If you want to believe in the Bible's literal, historical veracity as a matter of faith, that's fine. If you want to convince anyone else (especially anyone truly familiar with it's innacuracies and internal contradictions) that it is more historically accurate than, say, the Baghavad Gita or Homer's Iliad you'll have to do better than telling us it's true because it says it's true. In an honest open debate I'm not going to give the Bible special treatment just because it's the Bible; I'm going to subject it to the same critiques I would apply to any other text."

I know of no "internal contradictions" that have not been explained. But really anyone who tries to study the Bible without the guidance of the Spirit of God will find it either frustrating or boring, or both.

Example - Proverbs 26:4-5
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.


Contradiction? Or wisdom? I understand it and I bet a lot of people do. This is one of the contradictions people yammer about...


You say "Some who come here have faith in science that may be as deep and abiding as my faith in God." This tells me that you are the one who really doesn't understand the other point of view. Reliance on reason is not equivalent to faith. The approach taken to knowledge, and the process of deciding whether or not to accept the veracity of any assertion is very different (and far more rigorous) in the sciences and in scholarly disciplines like history than it is in literalist theology. (I feel can say this with some confidence, having tried both paths). I can point you to any number of Biblical scholars, by the way, who reject the literalist interpretation, and would scoff louder even than I have at your suggestion of real fire-breathing dinosaurs in the Bible, or a literal six day creation six thousand years ago. That line "between allegory and history" as you put it, is not as clear, nor does it necessarily lie where you think it does."

You make my point just as you argue against it. You are identifying yourself as a naturalist/materialist who values reason and discounts faith. I come to the Bible with faith and the expectation that there is Truth therein to be found. We are foundationally different in how we see the Bible because we come from different worldviews.

But you are so wrong, my friend, when you say that "Reliance on reason is not equivalent to faith".
Oh, yes it is! You have your faith in your power to reason. I have faith that a greater reasoning power than mine exists. You put all of your eggs in the basket of human intellect and I put mine in the basket of God. Everyone has faith in something or someone - their own reasoning, God, the FSM.....Just because many people you know think as you and depend upon their reasoning doesn't make that viewpoint factual. It is still a faith.

I did identify the posting as being personal. I was explaining my stand and the reasoning behind my stand. I did not say that all Christians believe as I do. Every man has his own path to follow and is responsible for that path. I was sharing my view of the path.

By the way, just because Jesus knew the OT prophecies He would be fulfilling didn't make it easy or someone else would have done it. I would say that being born of a virgin was one of the hard parts and naturally He could not have been directly responsible for that. (No, the word for "virgin" should not be translated "young woman", in case you were gonna say it...)

I would also say that the miracles He performed would be hard to fake.

You know, we base our calendar on the birth of Jesus. His existence was an accepted fact during the time of his life and immediately thereafter. Latecomers to the party, 2,000 years later, try to scoff and say that the evidence is sketchy. But the evidence for Christ is better than the evidence for anyone else living in Judea in the first century AD. Want to try to prove that there were no inhabitants in the land back then? Of course not!

A Hermit said...

"You'll have to point to the statement you consider to be arrogant."

The arrogance is inherent in Radar's assumption that those who disagree with him must be ignorant of the Scriptures. I'm a little rusty, and I probably couldn't quote you chapter and verse like I used to but the suggestion that I can't possibly understand radar's position because of a lack of familiarity with the subject strikes as as a little smug to say the least.


"I'm surrounded by some of the smartest Biblical experts in North America, and have access to a 2 story library with thousands of books and commentaries and articles by history's most prominent and credible scholars. That doesn't validate my position."

Of course not. You still ahve to make your arguments yourself, and back them up. My point was that I am not as ignorant of the subject matter as Radar seems to assume. He appears to want to be able to dismiss disagreement with his opinions as being the product of ignorance; I'm pointing out that this is not the case.


"Historians and scholars from all walks of life have been doing it for years, and have been unable to dispute its historical veracity."

You're behind the curve here, I'm afraid. See Finkelstein and Silberman on the Exodus, or G. A. Wells on the historicity of Christ, for starters, to name just two of the better known examples.

"Reason is entirely subjective."

A certain amount of subjectivity enters into any debate, to be sure, but the point of taking a rational, reasoned approach is to eliminate as much subjectivity as possible.

"Everyone has different ways of reasoning, logic, and critical thinking."

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts" as the saying goes. There is a way of doing things which works in the real world; I wouldn't walk across a bridge or fly in an airplane built by someone who relied on a "subjective" form of reasoning to calculate the loads and engineer the structure, nor would I rely on a "subjective" approach to reason when deciding what to believe about the historical accuracy of any text, or the actual, historical existence of Radar's fire-breathing dinosaurs walking the Earth with the authors of the Pentateuch.

"My reliance on reason led me to Christ. There is no way to prove fault in that line of reasoning."

I'd have to see the reasoning before commenting. My own journey went in the other direction. I'd be interested to hear you reasoning; truth is I've yet to hear a conversion story that didn't ultimately turn on an emotional experience or at least an appeal to some sort of gnostic revalation at some point. But being a fan of reason and a true agnostic I'm always open to having my mind changed if the evidence and the argument are compelling enough...;-)

"All I've discerned from his post is his particular position, and well thought, well researched posts as explanations."

The fact that he's obviously missed a lot of the information about the particular specimen he was criticizing in his earlier post, coupled with an unwillingness to acknowledge validity of many of the couter-arguments presented leads me to question the "well thought" assertion, and the ability to cut and paste lengthy excerpts from some website does not constitute "well researched" in my experience.

"I don't remember him questioning anyone's reasoning, intelligence, or even Christianity for holding a different position."

His reaction to criticism is to dismiss it as "weak" and "lame" (without explaining why), and to suggest that there are those who disagree with him only do so because they are ignorant of the subject matter. He does make the right noises about respecting his critics, but real respect entails an honest examination of the criticism, not knee-jerk dismissal and assumptions of ignorance.

But perhaps I'm being too hard on him on that point; I will say Radar does seem to at least want to appear to be reasonable, and I knw my own writing style makes me come off as a pompous jerk sometimes (I suspect I'll be wincing when I re-read this comment later), but that's the nature of internet debates. We'll see how it goes....;-)

creeper said...

"I have to say that from my point of view, the responses to my posts on this particular subject have been pretty weak."

A fair observation, Radar. I can tell you that the notion of dinosaurs in the middle ages is a relatively new one to me. I don't see how it would be possible to prove a negative in this case, as Dan already pointed out, nor do I know enough about Bill Cooper's sources in this scenario. It's a fascinating thought, I'll admit, to think about knights and peasants squaring off against a T Rex.

I do hope you understand the difference between, on the one hand, the pseudo-scientific way in which you've approached this so far (speculation about Biblical verses referring to specific dinosaurs being said to have "established" that that's what they are) and the standard of proof you demand of speculative drawings on a subject you don't like on the other. Highboy has a similar thing going with his "nobody's refuted that Jesus claimed he was the Messiah". How could one? Would such a method be useful?

Another thought: Dinosaurs being alive in historic times - and after the alleged flood, no less - leaves us with the question as to why we don't find brachiosaurs in layers after the Jurassic period - or before that period, for that matter. We should find them in very, very recent layers, actually, long after the flood. Heck, given the sheer size of them and the recentness of their demise (600 years?), we should be practically tripping over them in England and Western Europe.

xiangtao said...

Not to mention the startling lack of fossilized human remains right along with them. If the entire world population minus eight were annhilated by this flood, you'd think we would be finding a few of those people, no? But they are quite obviously absent from the fossil record.

creeper said...

"However, as I pointed out in a previous post I've seen more evidence and logic posted by radar than any commentor on this site, who usually counter radar's YEC biased sources with one or two evolutionist biased sources and claim to objective."

Radar has evaded quite a number of questions and chosen not to respond to quite a number of rebuttals, as you may have noticed. As for logic, there are some real problems he has avoided, such as explaining how it is possible for life to exist at all if the 2nd law of thermodynamics meant what he said it meant, or to post or link to the equation and assumptions behind horse evolution that he accused us of altering. These are just some isolated examples, but Radar's "logical" response more than once has been to change the subject and then pretend he answered the question.

Not that I mind this lurching style of proceeding through the annals of pseudo-science - it's rather like being shown around a very peculiar museum with a highly enthusiastic yet slightly shifty guide - but when he leaves behind such a trail of unanswered questions and rebuttals, he's not building the consistent case he thinks he is.

Lpeajaz.

creeper said...

Incidentally...

"It has been proven that Jesus existed"

Where and how was this accomplished?

A Hermit said...

"I know of no "internal contradictions" that have not been explained."

I've seen them all rationalized and talked around, but never really explained. I'm not sure we want to get bogged down in long list of examples, but if you want to, it's your blog...;-) If you want to go theological we could start with whether or not God lies, or if you want to stick to the historical/scientific veracity (probably better to keep things focused) we could start with the geneology of Christ, or chronolgy of the crucifiction story...

"But really anyone who tries to study the Bible without the guidance of the Spirit of God will find it either frustrating or boring, or both."

Ah yes, the old Spiritual Guidance dodge...I used to use that one too. You're sure bringing back the memories...;-) Maybe you don't even realize you're doing it, but that's really just a nice, subtle way of saying the person you're debating is too stupid to see the obvious. You'll try to pretty it up, but that's basically what you're saying. Do you think that when I was a Bible believer that I didn't pray for such guidance, and study in a spirit of submissin and openness to the working of the Holy Spirit? Tell me Radar, were my prayers inadequate? Was I somehow unworthy of being granted the same sublime wisdom bestowed on you? Too selfish or proud or evil-minded to take advantage of it? Which excuse do you offer for me? Sorry but you'll have a hard time making that proposition into anything more than the sneaky ad-hominem attack it truly is.

"But you are so wrong, my friend, when you say that "Reliance on reason is not equivalent to faith".
Oh, yes it is! You have your faith in your power to reason. I have faith that a greater reasoning power than mine exists."


OK, here's a challenge. Let's both design a bridge. I'll design my bridge using logic, reason and sound engineering principles, and you can pray for God to reveal the loading solutions to you. Which one would you drive a busload of schoolchildren accross?

I don't prefer math in that case because I have "faith" in it, but because I can observe the utility of the approach, test it, replicate and rely on it to consistently produce reliable results. Even so, engineers build in a "safety factor" to every design, because they know they are not infallible. That's reasonable...;-)

Don't mistake that example as meaning that I take some sort of cold, calculating approach to life, however. It's a simple illustration, and like our dinosaur illustration is intending to represent, in a quick, clear manner, a much larger point. I'll trust you to be abe to extrapolate alittle...

We're not arguing (or at least we didn't start out arguing) about the existence of God(s), or heaven and hell or any such metaphysical considerations; we were arguing about the possible co-existence of dinosaurs and humans, the legitimacty of one illustration and , indirectly, about the validity of biological evolution. Those are factual, objective questions, the answers to which are most reliably answered by examining the factual evidence and applying a consistent, rational method to describe them. To bring faith to bear on such questions isn't really useful; and to insist, as many of your co-religionists do, that public schools must be forced to give primary consideration to your own admittedly subjective faith when examining matters of an objective, observable is even worse, since it imposes subjective religious beliefs on those who may not share that belief.

-------------

"By the way, just because Jesus knew the OT prophecies He would be fulfilling didn't make it easy or someone else would have done it. I would say that being born of a virgin was one of the hard parts and naturally He could not have been directly responsible for that. (No, the word for "virgin" should not be translated "young woman", in case you were gonna say it...)"

Well, they say Caesar was born of a virgin, and so was Alexander and the Buddha, if we acceppt their stories as true. So either it's not that unusual, or it's possible for old myths to not be true. Why is the Jesus story more reliable than those others? We have alot more historical evidence for the existence of Julius and Alexander than we do for Jesus, by the way. Doesn't mean every story told about them is literaly true.

"I would also say that the miracles He performed would be hard to fake."

Oh, I don't know, I've seen some pretty impressive magic tricks in my day...If they happened at all as the stories say they did. Remember there are no contemporary eyewitnesses, the earliest gospel being written at least forty years after the (alleged) fact.

"You know, we base our calendar on the birth of Jesus."

And we name the months and days of the week for pagan Greek, Roman and Norse Gods. Do you believe in them too?

"His existence was an accepted fact during the time of his life and immediately thereafter."

Accepted by whom? Assertions alone don't prove anything.

"...the evidence for Christ is better than the evidence for anyone else living in Judea in the first century AD."

I'd be interested in seeing this new evidence. I spent half a lifetime looking for it; perhaps you've discovered something I missed...There's lots of extra-biblical evidence for characters like Herod and Pilate (althought the dates in the non-biblical accounts don't always wrok with the biblical chronologies), but precious little for Jesus. And what there is in Jesus case is often of very dubious origin, having been inserted into translations by fourth century monks, or in the form of third hand references to stories told by Christians a hundred years later.

"Want to try to prove that there were no inhabitants in the land back then? Of course not!"

That would be silly. What's your point?

A Hermit said...

xiangtao said...

"Not to mention the startling lack of fossilized human remains right along with them. If the entire world population minus eight were annhilated by this flood, you'd think we would be finding a few of those people, no? But they are quite obviously absent from the fossil record."

I guess you never heard of Onyate Man!

Oh. wait...never mind...

radar said...

Hermit,

I was getting ready to leave and saw your last post. I don't have long, but allow me to address a couple of things...

I am in no way implying anyone is stupid concerning reading the Bible. It is not that, but rather that to read it without the accompanying wisdom from God's Spirit is to miss much of what is there:

II Peter 1:20-1 - "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

"Sorry but you'll have a hard time making that proposition into anything more than the sneaky ad-hominem attack it truly is."

Hermit, honestly, I didn't mean it that way or see it that way. I am way dumber than God and I am just taking Him at His word. Maybe I have an easier time trusting the unknown...and keep in mind I was a disbeliever until I was, what, 27 years old.

~
Much of the New Testament is written by men who knew Jesus or were contemporaries. Also we have Josephus, Tactitanus, Origen, Julius Africanus, Pliny as additional historians referencing Jesus Christ.

I include the Bible Books as sources that document the historical Christ. They were eyewitness and contemporaneous and the later dates given for them are not settled. I can see, for instance, that Luke may have been written before 40 AD and Christ was crucified in 33 AD by that same scale. Many liberal scholars just throw an extra twenty or thirty years on the books, particularly Revelation. I cannot imagine that any of the books were written after 70 AD, that is, after the fall of Jerusalem since that event is not mentioned in any books and would be a huge elephant in the room were it ignored. Dates in the 40-60 AD range make more sense.

The bridge-building thing is not comparable. God didn't come into the world to build bridges nor did He tell his disciples to pray for bridges to be built. An engineer doesn't become a Christian and suddenly ignore his discipline in favor of praying for revelation.

It kind of boils down to faith. Faith isn't about intelligence or ability. You and I both had faith in our reasoning ability to understand the world around us. I still depend on my reason, but I have placed the ability of God above my own. I made a decision to do it. I don't know how to bottle that and pass it around. Believe me, Hermit, if I could I would. I do wish that everyone could believe in God and have a relationship with Him.

To some extent that is true of Jesus. I know that an investigative reporter named Lee Strobel decided to systematically disprove the historical Jesus and in the attempt, became (to his surprise) a believer instead. He is now a well-known author of such books as a "The Case For Christ" and "The Case For Faith" in which he explains his methodology and how it happened that his mind and heart was changed.

But in closing, Hermit, and I am now leaving and will be gone at least this evening and tomorrow morning, I meant no disrespect to you nor did I
cast aspersions on your intellect. Hope you receive this in the spirit in which it is written...

highboy said...

Until some reknowned scholars are historians can adequatley prove Jesus did not exist, I'm afraid those who claim He didn't are always going to be in the minority. It has even been tried in courts of law, in case you haven't paid attention, without any success. Much like your assertions that mainstream science accepts evolution as fact, therefore the burden of proof is on Creationsits to refute it, the same for the fact that it is generally accepted by expert historians, scholars, that Jesus existed, and the burden in on you to disprove it.

"Ah yes, the old Spiritual Guidance dodge...I used to use that one too. You're sure bringing back the memories...;-) Maybe you don't even realize you're doing it, but that's really just a nice, subtle way of saying the person you're debating is too stupid to see the obvious."

Its not a dodge, nor an insult to you, rather a foundational belief in Christian doctrine, which you would know if you studied Christianity the way you say you have. The Holy Spirit is need to reveal the truth of God's Word, and by acknowledging that belief as a Christian, it is actually more accurate to say the I'm refering to myself as the idiot who can't understand it without divine help.

"We're not arguing (or at least we didn't start out arguing) about the existence of God(s), or heaven and hell or any such metaphysical considerations; we were arguing about the possible co-existence of dinosaurs and humans, the legitimacty of one illustration and , indirectly, about the validity of biological evolution."

As for myself, I cannot attempt to argue one way or another scientifically. (Dinos and humans coed.) What I can argue is that the Bible does indeed discuss dinosaurs, which as I said previously poses the obvious problem of how they knew of dinos when none existed at the time?

"Remember there are no contemporary eyewitnesses, the earliest gospel being written at least forty years after the (alleged) fact."

Totally irrelevant. The same arguments some make to deny Jesus' physical existence are similiar to that of people who deny the Holocaust. Looking at the evidence for the holocaust, we rely on witness testimony, and documentation. The video stills of prison camps only prove that there were prison camps, and the orders for shipments of poison only prove that the Nazis used poison for something. No evidence has been found on any of the bodies found to suggest they were gassed to death. Some assert that it was impossible. Not that I deny the Holocaust, you understand, but we use much of the same type of evidence to support history of this nature as we do that Jesus did in fact exist. Again, the burden of proof is on those who do not believe existed to provide sufficient evidence for us to believe otherwise. Although many have tried, this has not been successfully accomplished. The person to prove that Jesus did not exist would be the richest human ever in history.

A Hermit said...

"I am in no way implying anyone is stupid concerning reading the Bible. It is not that, but rather that to read it without the accompanying wisdom from God's Spirit is to miss much of what is there..."

Yeah, I get that Radar; you say you were an unbeliever until you were 27; well I was a believer until I was about that same age; I grew up on this stuff, there's nothing you've said here that I haven't heard (or said myself, for that matter) at some point in the past.

You're kinda missing my point there (or maybe I expressed it badly). I didn't think you were calling me stupid. In fact, it's far worse than that! You believe that your interpretation and understanding of scripture is better than mine because you are guided by the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what I used to believe, yet I still had questions which I felt needed to be answered. I can assure that I pursued my scriptural studies with devotion, humility and a deep desire to be led by the spirit, so my question for is why do you think God would grant you some special understanding of scriptural meaning which he denied to me?

Now you can assume, I suppose, that I'm lying, that I wasn't sincere, that I was somehow unworthy of the blessing of God's Spirit of understanding, but there's really no way to make that case without attacking me as a person.

On the other hand; if you accept that I am not in some way deficient and undeserving of being led by the Spirit as you say you have been, you're left with the problem of explaining why God would deny to me this special understanding of scripture that you say he has granted to you. Does God play favourites? Does He send His Spirit to lead on some random or arbitrary basis; granting it to some and denying it to others on some cosmic roll of the dice? If so, how is that belief any better than believing an impersonal naturally occuring universe?

In other words, if, as you suggest, I am incapable of understanding scripture in the same way you do because I am not led by the spirit, it is either becasue of some flaw in my character or becasue of some arbitrary decision of God's. Which do you think it is? Or do you think maybe it's just possible that my understanding is at least as good as yours?

A lot of Christians make that argument, as you just did, without realizing how insulting it actually is to an honest truth seeker like myself, or taking time to consider the deeper implications for their own perception of God's character. I hope you'll take that into consideration in the future.

Might see you tomorrow, I should try to get some paying work done..., but I do still find all of this stuff really interesting...it's been a long journey for me, and I'm sure it's not over yet.

And I'll have a thing or two to say about Lee Strobel's alleged evidence...not a new name to me at all....;-)

creeper said...

"Until some reknowned scholars are historians can adequatley prove Jesus did not exist, I'm afraid those who claim He didn't are always going to be in the minority."

Ah, but that is a very different thing from your previous claim that "it has been proven that Jesus existed".

Perhaps a more truthful statement would be: "it is generally accepted that Jesus existed".

If you disagree and want to stick by the previous claim, then I'll ask again: Where and how was this accomplished?

"Much like your assertions that mainstream science accepts evolution as fact,"

Mainstream science does accept common descent as being so well supported that it is considered a virtual fact - that is what the "fact of evolution" refers to; it is not a claim that the theory of evolution is a fact.

"therefore the burden of proof is on Creationsits to refute it,"

If YECs want to refute common descent, then yes, the burden is on them to falsify it and/or present a theory of equal predictive value as regards the evidence. This isn't singling out YECs unfairly; any rivalry between hypotheses/theories is handled like this.

"the same for the fact that it is generally accepted by expert historians, scholars, that Jesus existed, and the burden in on you to disprove it."

I didn't dispute that Jesus's existence is generally accepted by historians, scholars, etc. You claimed that it was proven that Jesus existed. That's a pretty high standard that I very much doubt has been met, and you have not yet backed up this claim in any way.

creeper said...

"I can see, for instance, that Luke may have been written before 40 AD and Christ was crucified in 33 AD by that same scale."

Not sure I have the same Luke here - is this Luke the evangelist?

According to historical sources, the evangelist Luke was born in Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria, and died in Thebes (Greece) at age 84, around anno Domini (A.D.) 150.

A Hermit said...

Greetings Highboy!

I have to address a few of your comments. You said:

"Much like your assertions that mainstream science accepts evolution as fact, therefore the burden of proof is on Creationsits to refute it, the same for the fact that it is generally accepted by expert historians, scholars, that Jesus existed, and the burden in on you to disprove it."

Excuse me? When did I ever make such a silly assertion? It is not up to Creationists to disprove evolution, it is up to them to prove their own claims. It's up to biologists, geolgists, paleontologists etc to back up their hypotheses about evolution and the age of the Earth, and they do it with whole lifetimes of research, cold hard facts, good research methods and constant review and critique of the work, both their own and others. If Creationists want to have a different theory accepted as factual and historical they'll have to do the same kind of work. They'll also have to actually have the facts on their side, of course, and so far that's just not the case.

As for Jesus, well, it works the same way. If you want me to accept, first of all , that Jesus existed as an actual historical figure you'll have to show me actual historical evidence. AS far as I'm concerned the jury is still out. I'd say it's a good possibility that a teacher like Jesus existed, but the Bible's account, (apart from being for the most part written down at least 100 years after the fact and heavily revised, edited and excised by various religious councils over the centuries) seems to me to be too disjointed and self contradictory to be of much value as an historical document, especially since it is mostly uncorroborated by contemporary primary sources.

That's not to dismiss its possible value as a spiritual guide; in fact my own ethical beliefs are greatly informed by the teachings of Christ, but that's a different debate.

Of course, even if you proved to me that Jesus existed as a historical figure you'd still have the burden of proving to me that he was a god, if you want me to believe it. But let's start with history, that's a big enough challenge for you right now, I think.

"Its not a dodge, nor an insult to you, rather a foundational belief in Christian doctrine, which you would know if you studied Christianity the way you say you have..."

On that subject I'll refer you to my reply to Radar, above. Like I said to him, you can choose to believe that I'm a liar if it makes you feel better, there's really nothing I can do about that. Doesn't change what is.



"As for myself, I cannot attempt to argue one way or another scientifically. (Dinos and humans coed.) What I can argue is that the Bible does indeed discuss dinosaurs, which as I said previously poses the obvious problem of how they knew of dinos when none existed at the time?"


I guess the question is, why do you think that they must be referring to dinosaurs, and not to whales or elephants? Or making an allegory using a mythical beast? Or exagerating? Early European explorers described the Rhinoceros as a Unicorn and mistook Manatees for Mermaids. Do you believe in Mermaids and Unicorns too?

Remember, also, we know about dinosaurs, even though there aren't any around here. (My dinosaur repellent must really work...;-)...). Our ancestors weren't idiots, and they lived close to the land. It's not unreasonable to assume that they may have occasionally stumbled across fossil remains of giant dinosaurs, and, their imaginations fired by the discovery, they would have conjectured about the nature of those beasts, and woven them into their stories, their poetry and even their religion. Makes perfect sense to me, and it's consistent with the physical evidence, science and history.


"Totally irrelevant. The same arguments some make to deny Jesus' physical existence are similiar to that of people who deny the Holocaust."

Nonsense. There are living survivors, I even have an uncle who was with the British/Canadian forces who liberated Belsen; we have photographs, films, signed primary documents, signed confessions, living eyewitnessess, recorded eyewitness testimony, and yes, contrary to what you have apparently been told, all kinds of physical evidence, including chemical residue, which prove the case.

If someone showed me that kind of evidence for the historical existence of Jesus I would have no problem accepting it whatsoever. But such evidence does not exist, at least not that I'm aware of. Maybe you know of something I've missed, if so I'd love to see it.

And please be careful about tossing out comparisons to Nazi sympathizers. I've butted heads with too many of them to have much patience for that nonsense. If you really want to go down that route I would argue that it's the anti-evolutionists who stoop to the kind of tactics employed by Holocaust deniers; they ignore evidence, misinterpret evidence, invent contrary evidence, claim that "gaps" or incompleteness in one part of the evidence completely invalidates the whle theory, pretend that there's a conspiracy among main stream researchers to keep the truth from being known etc. etc. It's a familiar old tune...

"Again, the burden of proof is on those who do not believe existed to provide sufficient evidence for us to believe otherwise."

Nonsense. I'm not interested in disproving anything.I don't believe in Zeus, fairies or Unicorns either. Do I have to disprove their existence before it's reasonable to not believe in them? Of course not. The burden of proof rests with the person making the existential claim. You want me to believe in the co-existence of dinosaurs and humans show me proof. If you want me to believe that a historical Jesus existed, show me some proof.

If you wnat to convince me Jesus was a god, well that's a diferent thing altogether. When it comes to matters of faith I haven't lived your life, had your experiences, seen what you've seen, so maybe you know something I don't, or have been granted some grace so far denied to me, so I'm not really interested in trying to disprove your faith. But your faith and your experiences don't trump my own understanding or my own life experiences when it comes to me deciding what I believe, so don't expect me, or anyone else, to accept your faith as fact just because you believe it.

But when it comes to science we are on the same playing field. There are common, observable facts which are available to all of us. It is those observable, objective facts, examined with a consistent, rigourous, public methodolgy which should be the basis for any conclusions we might come to about something like the existence and nature of Dinosaurs, or the age of the Earth. Like I said before, we're all entitled to our own opinions (or faith), but we're not entitled to our own facts.

Cheers.

Hermit

A Hermit said...

Oh, in case you're interested, Highboy, here's an excellent resource on the Holocaust:

Nizkor.org

A Hermit said...

Radar said:

"The bridge-building thing is not comparable. God didn't come into the world to build bridges nor did He tell his disciples to pray for bridges to be built. An engineer doesn't become a Christian and suddenly ignore his discipline in favor of praying for revelation."

Exactly my point. You wouldn't ignore an engineer's expert opinion in favour of a biblical interpretation. (Pi = 3 according to the Bible; I'd hate to see someone try to design an arch using that in their equations!)

So why do you think we should ignore the discipline of biologists, geologists or paleontologists when considering the appearance, age or evolution of dinosaurs and substitute your subjective interpretation of scripture? Same thing, isn't it?

Hermit

A Hermit said...

OK. one more:

"Much of the New Testament is written by men who knew Jesus or were contemporaries. Also we have Josephus, Tactitanus, Origen, Julius Africanus, Pliny as additional historians referencing Jesus Christ."

So much to cover here, I'll just make one or two quick quick points.

I'm assuming by "Tacticanus" you mean "Tacitus". Now,Tacitus wrote his histories nearly 100 years after the Crucifixion is supposed to have occurred, and he makes reference to disturbances created by the followers of "Chrestus. This is at best a third hand reference, almost a century after later, and not to Jesus himself but to people calling themselves followers of Chrestus. Not what I'd call a contemporary eyewitness at all.

Origen lived in the third century, as did Julius Africanus, so they can hardly be considered sources contemporary to Jesus. Even Josephus wasn't born until after the crucifixion, and the references to Christ in his work look to many scholars like a later interpolation, inserted by Eusebius in the fourth century. (Origen doesn't mention the passage, even though he discuss Josephus at length.) It's interesting at best, but hardly conclusive.

Pliny was also born thirty years too late to be considered a contemporary of Christ, and while, like Tacitus, he does talk about Christians in his letters to the Emperor that is only evidence of the existence of Christians, and is no more proof of a historical Christ than the existence of Vikings is proof of the existence of a historical Odin.

As for the Gospels, there is really no good reason to accept the assertion that they were actually written by men who knew Jesus, or were his contemporaries. In any case, it is a matter of great dispute and much conjecture, not the settled historical fact you seem to think it is. The earliest surviving gospel documents are reliably dated at no more earlier than 125 CE, and those are only fragments. Now, it's possible, I suppose, that the stories about Christ's life were first told by his disciples and then accurately passed on for a century or two after his death before being preserved in writing, but there's really no documentary evidence to support that hypothesis, and anyone who's ever played the old game of "telephone" knows how a story can change after it's been passed down the line a few times...

It is incorrect to say, as you do, that "liberal scholars just throw an extra twenty or thirty years on the books". First, the use of "Liberal" as a pejorative term is just gratuitous; second no honest scholar just tacks on an extra decade or two without having some basis for doing so. Once again you are making an ad hominem argument, attacking the character of these nameless "Liberal" scholars to avoid addressing the facts. Sorry, but you won't score any points with me that way. The truth is, those scholars are just being objective, and treating the biblical texts like they would any other. The fact that their learned conclusions don't fit your preconceptions doesn't make them wrong, but it might make you want to rethink a few things.

Luke, by the way, actually does mention the destruction of Jerusalem by the Gentiles; although I'm sure you would claim that this is prophetic, but an honest assessment would have to at least consider the possibility that it is in there because Luke was written after the siege of 70CE.

Regards

Hermit

highboy said...

"As for Jesus, well, it works the same way. If you want me to accept, first of all , that Jesus existed as an actual historical figure you'll have to show me actual historical evidence. AS far as I'm concerned the jury is still out."

Excuse me? Boy did you turn that around! The jury may be out in your mind, but in the mind of mainstream history and in the scholar community it is not. Therefore, those that think He did not exist are the ones with the problem.

"But let's start with history, that's a big enough challenge for you right now, I think."

Wrong. As has been shown to you already, it is generally accepted by the majority of hisotorians and scholars that Jesus did in fact exist.

"And please be careful about tossing out comparisons to Nazi sympathizers. I've butted heads with too many of them to have much patience for that nonsense. If you really want to go down that route I would argue that it's the anti-evolutionists who stoop to the kind of tactics employed by Holocaust deniers; they ignore evidence, misinterpret evidence, invent contrary evidence, claim that "gaps" or incompleteness in one part of the evidence completely invalidates the whle theory, pretend that there's a conspiracy among main stream researchers to keep the truth from being known etc. etc. It's a familiar old tune..."

Lose patience all you want. I didn't compare anyone to Nazi sympathizers, merely compared the evidence. If I didn't believe in the Holocaust, I wouldn't compare its evidence to that used to support the existence of Jesus. You have an insecurity problem perhaps. That's the second time you've jumped to the conclusion you were being insulted from reading to much into stuff.

"Nonsense. I'm not interested in disproving anything.I don't believe in Zeus, fairies or Unicorns either. Do I have to disprove their existence before it's reasonable to not believe in them? Of course not. The burden of proof rests with the person making the existential claim."

The support of the majority of the historian community should be enough, since the majority of the scientific community seems to be enough for you to believe in evolution. Sorry, does't work the way you want it to. Attempts to prove Jesus did not exist has even been tried in court, and failed. He is taught about as a real historic figure. If you claim He didn't exist, you need to provide proof. Until then, Jesus existed. Pay attention: "As the Gospels were not written immediately after his death and there is little external documentation, a SMALL MINORITY of scholars question the historical existence of Jesus.[3]" (emphasis mine)


"Now, it's possible, I suppose, that the stories about Christ's life were first told by his disciples and then accurately passed on for a century or two after his death before being preserved in writing, but there's really no documentary evidence to support that hypothesis, and anyone who's ever played the old game of "telephone" knows how a story can change after it's been passed down the line a few times..."

No, sorry, it doesn't work that way. Until there is evidence to suggest that the story has been changed, it is not valid to say it has been. Especially considering the import of the documents to the people copying it. None of the conspiracy theories concerning the Gospels have held water at all.

"The fact that their learned conclusions don't fit your preconceptions doesn't make them wrong, but it might make you want to rethink a few things."

When they prove their claims then I'll consider it.

"Luke, by the way, actually does mention the destruction of Jerusalem by the Gentiles;"

Where? Not in his Gospel, or the Book of Acts.

A Hermit said...

Luke 21:20-28

20 When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.

21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.

22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written.

23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.

24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

radar said...

Hermit,

I am now posting a reply, of sorts, to what you assert here.

Yes, I am attacking the liberal scholars, late-comers to the party of Biblical scholarship (1800's and later) who I believe came to the Bible with an agenda and now believe they have fulfilled a mission to discredit the Bible. I vehemently disagree!

Furthermore, the passage you quote in Luke, having been written before 70 AD, simply gives credence to Jesus as Christ, in my opinion.

Yeah, I keep doing that, calling Tacitus Tacitanus. Duh.

creeper said...

Radar,

is the Luke you refer to the same Luke the evangelist I mention in my comment above?

"According to historical sources, the evangelist Luke was born in Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria, and died in Thebes (Greece) at age 84, around anno Domini (A.D.) 150."

highboy said...

"Furthermore, the passage you quote in Luke, having been written before 70 AD, simply gives credence to Jesus as Christ, in my opinion."

I agree. It is also a rather long stretch to say that it is anything more than prophetic, especially since the "time of the Gentiles" is not over.

A Hermit said...

"Yes, I am attacking the liberal scholars, late-comers to the party of Biblical scholarship (1800's and later) who I believe came to the Bible with an agenda and now believe they have fulfilled a mission to discredit the Bible. I vehemently disagree!"

I would like to know why you believe they came to this with a bias, (ie on what what evidence do you base this belief,apart from your own very evident bias against all things "liberal") and why you think they are likely to be more biased than scholars who begin with a firm belief and seek to confirm it. Sticking a big red letter L for liberal on something so you can dismiss it out of hand isn't a very convincing approach. The search for truth sometimes leads to uncomfortable territory. At that point you can take the ad-hominem approach and dismiss those taking part in that search as having "an agenda to discredit the Bible", or you can have the courage to take an honest, unbiased look at the facts. I'm dissapointed to see you taking the easy way out.

You're right that there is a problem of bias around this issue, but I think any honest observer would have to agree that the bias on the side of the believer has to be at least as strong, if not more so, than that of the unbeliever. Like I said before I don't doubt there was a teacher like Jesus, possibky even named Jesus, whose followers at some point, probably after his death, came to believe he was the Christ. The evidece makes that seem likely to me. But that's a far cry from granting historical valididty to every "jot and tittle" of the story, as they say.

The truth is, it's been only recently that its been possible to take a truly objective look at this whole question. Christian orthodoxy has never looked favourably on objective questioning of its foundational beliefs. Even for those biased to believe in the historicity of the Gospel stories there is great debate (and has been for some time) as to the actual, historical nature of Jesus. That's why I say "the jury is still out".

"Furthermore, the passage you quote in Luke, having been written before 70 AD, simply gives credence to Jesus as Christ, in my opinion."

Except that prophecy is always easier in hindsight, and since the earliest written fragment identifiable as coming from the Gospel of Luke dates to the late second century at the earliest (a time when the Church was beginning to establish its authority through a combination of violent repression and "pious frauds" there is every reason to remain at least somewhat skeptical).

But thank for heping me correct Highboy's error on the point of it being mentioned at all in Luke...;-)

Highboy, you also need to read your own references; from your wikipedia link (and I'll forego the question of relying on Wikipedia for the last word on anything....)

"The Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution brought skepticism regarding the historical accuracy of these texts. Although some critical scholars, including archeologists, continue to use them as points of reference in the study of ancient Near Eastern history[31] others have come to view the texts as cultural and literary documents, generally regarding them as part of the genre of literature called hagiography, an account of a holy person regarded as representing a moral and divine ideal. Hagiography has a principal aim of the glorification of the religion itself and of the example set by the perfect holy person represented as its central focus."

Hagiography is not history. Like I said before, I don't accept the stories about Caesar or Alexander being born of virgins on the basis of their hagiographies, why should I make an exception for Jesus?)

"Most modern Biblical scholars hold that the works describing Jesus were initially communicated by oral tradition, and were not committed to writing until several decades after Jesus' crucifixion. The earliest extant texts which refer to Jesus are Paul's letters, which are usually dated from the mid-1st century."

So even the earliest texts are not contemproary to the events, and Paul, of course, never claimed to have witnessed any of Jesus life himself.

And of course, the bit that Highboy lifts about "a SMALL MINORITY of scholars question the historical existence of Jesus" is not the final word on the scale of the debate. Even following the wikipedia links should make that clear, as they give us references to a much broader debate than suggested in his comment.

We have those like Wells, Doherty and Price who reject the existence of a historical Jesus, others like Kautsky, Voltaire and Strauss who "did not absolutely deny Jesus's existence, but they believed the miraculous aspects of the Gospel accounts to be mythical and that Jesus' life story had been heavily manipulated to fit Messianic prophesy." (that would be closer to my own view, by the way).

The whole question is not nearly as clear cut as you might like to think.