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Monday, November 20, 2006

God versus Science part two

Now continues the blogging of the November 13th cover story of Time Magazine.

TIME: Professor Dawkins, if one truly understands science, is God then a delusion, as your book title suggests?

DAWKINS: The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.


Ah, the naturalist is given a leading question. He cannot perceive God by naturalistic methods, with a worldview that cannot see the supernatural, so it is no surprise he wants to assert that there is no God.

TIME: Dr. Collins, you believe that science is compatible with Christian faith.

COLLINS: Yes. God's existence is either true or not. But calling it a scientific question implies that the tools of science can provide the answer. From my perspective, God cannot be completely contained within nature, and therefore God's existence is outside of science's ability to really weigh in.


Good answer. Science cannot either prove or disprove the existence of God, nor is it supposed to do so. Unfortunately people like Darwin and Dawkins have tried to use science to eliminate the concept of God and many laymen have been so deceived.

TIME: Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard paleontologist, famously argued that religion and science can coexist, because they occupy separate, airtight boxes. You both seem to disagree.

COLLINS: Gould sets up an artificial wall between the two worldviews that doesn't exist in my life. Because I do believe in God's creative power in having brought it all into being in the first place, I find that studying the natural world is an opportunity to observe the majesty, the elegance, the intricacy of God's creation.

DAWKINS: I think that Gould's separate compartments was a purely political ploy to win middle-of-the-road religious people to the science camp. But it's a very empty idea. There are plenty of places where religion does not keep off the scientific turf. Any belief in miracles is flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science.


So Dawkins asserts here that there are no miracles. Hmmm. He must believe that the miracles performed by Jesus didn't happen. The problem is that even the non-Christian Jews, who considered Jesus to be a problem, recorded that He had performed miracles. There were hundreds of witnesses to most of the miracles of Jesus and just because they are all dead now doesn't change things. Dawkins wants us to ignore the New Testament scriptures and hundreds of witnesses and the witness of the non-believing Jews and claim that miracles are "flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science."

TIME: Professor Dawkins, you think Darwin's theory of evolution does more than simply contradict the Genesis story.

DAWKINS: Yes. For centuries the most powerful argument for God's existence from the physical world was the so-called argument from design: Living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer. But Darwin provided a simpler explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from very simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection. Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest. It should warn us against ever again assuming that because something is complicated, God must have done it.


Darwin provided a simpler explanation largely because he had no concept of how complex life really is. Early 19th century scientists had just begun to absorb the work of pioneers like the Pasteurs, just begun to see that the makeup of living organisms consisted of far more complexity than previously imagined.

I have posted many times about a multitude of problems with Darwinian theory, and the ID argument is just one of them. There is no evidence of macroevolution ever being observed, by the way, so Dawkins is speaking of things that are speculative and not observed or proven.

COLLINS: I don't see that Professor Dawkins' basic account of evolution is incompatible with God's having designed it.


ALARM! DIVEDIVEDIVE! Now here comes yet another problem with this article. I believe I have established that the author of this piece is predisposed to take the Darwin side of the question. But now we discover that the scientist he has chosen to take the Creation side isn't acutally a pure Creationist! We aren't being presented with black versus white, but rather as I feared it is black versus off-white.


TIME: When would this have occurred?

COLLINS: By being outside of nature, God is also outside of space and time. Hence, at the moment of the creation of the universe, God could also have activated evolution, with full knowledge of how it would turn out, perhaps even including our having this conversation. The idea that he could both foresee the future and also give us spirit and free will to carry out our own desires becomes entirely acceptable.

DAWKINS: I think that's a tremendous cop-out. If God wanted to create life and create humans, it would be slightly odd that he should choose the extraordinarily roundabout way of waiting for 10 billion years before life got started and then waiting for another 4 billion years until you got human beings capable of worshipping and sinning and all the other things religious people are interested in.


Oh boy. Now I find myself agreeing with Richard Dawkins! I agree that such a view is a cop-out indeed. Collins runs away from the argument entirely.

COLLINS: Who are we to say that that was an odd way to do it? I don't think that it is God's purpose to make his intention absolutely obvious to us. If it suits him to be a deity that we must seek without being forced to, would it not have been sensible for him to use the mechanism of evolution without posting obvious road signs to reveal his role in creation?

Come on! Why would God come up with a way to bring about all current living things by producing untold generations of organisms dying and failing and struggling to adapt to a cruel world? That is a loving God? Plus, if the Genesis account of the Bible is not reliable, then doesn't that mean that the Bible itself is unreliable? If we cannot believe that the Bible reveals God, then what good is it and how do we then know what God wants us to know?

TIME: Both your books suggest that if the universal constants, the six or more characteristics of our universe, had varied at all, it would have made life impossible. Dr. Collins, can you provide an example?

COLLINS: The gravitational constant, if it were off by one part in a hundred million million, then the expansion of the universe after the Big Bang would not have occurred in the fashion that was necessary for life to occur. When you look at that evidence, it is very difficult to adopt the view that this was just chance. But if you are willing to consider the possibility of a designer, this becomes a rather plausible explanation for what is otherwise an exceedingly improbable event--namely, our existence.

Weak example. Dr. Hugh Ross lists 154 examples of the incredibly narrow parameters required to allow life on Earth alone, as I have listed previously, and the list grows when you consider requirements for the existence of the Universe.

That Dr. Collins is a Big-Banger and also that he allows for evolution being driven by God means that he really doesn't make a good debate opponent for Dawkins. Dr. Ken Ham is one of many hundreds of far better candidates. Alas, we have what we have for now.

DAWKINS: People who believe in God conclude there must have been a divine knob twiddler who twiddled the knobs of these half-dozen constants to get them exactly right. The problem is that this says, because something is vastly improbable, we need a God to explain it. But that God himself would be even more improbable. Physicists have come up with other explanations. One is to say that these six constants are not free to vary. Some unified theory will eventually show that they are as locked in as the circumference and the diameter of a circle. That reduces the odds of them all independently just happening to fit the bill. The other way is the multiverse way. That says that maybe the universe we are in is one of a very large number of universes. The vast majority will not contain life because they have the wrong gravitational constant or the wrong this constant or that constant. But as the number of universes climbs, the odds mount that a tiny minority of universes will have the right fine-tuning.

I am curious as to why Dawkins can assert that the existence of God is improbable and that statement goes unchallenged? The rules of logic dictate that the simplest explanation is the best and the existence of a Creator God is far and away the simplest explanation for the Universe and all of life having come about. You must being bringing in corrolary assumptions when you dismiss God. Dawkins in this case is counting on those 300 billion universes or whatever the theory is this week. Is there any real evidence for this, or was it thought up just out of necessity?

COLLINS: This is an interesting choice. Barring a theoretical resolution, which I think is unlikely, you either have to say there are zillions of parallel universes out there that we can't observe at present or you have to say there was a plan. I actually find the argument of the existence of a God who did the planning more compelling than the bubbling of all these multiverses. So Occam's razor--Occam says you should choose the explanation that is most simple and straightforward--leads me more to believe in God than in the multiverse, which seems quite a stretch of the imagination.

Yeah. Like I said. So why, Francis, not apply Occam's to the evolution versus Creation question, too?

DAWKINS: I accept that there may be things far grander and more incomprehensible than we can possibly imagine. What I can't understand is why you invoke improbability and yet you will not admit that you're shooting yourself in the foot by postulating something just as improbable, magicking into existence the word God.

Gee, Dawk old boy, the idea of God was around a long time before either you or Collins were born. No "magicking" was involved. God was the first explanation for our existence, and the simplest and most logical. You simply can't grok.

COLLINS: My God is not improbable to me. He has no need of a creation story for himself or to be fine-tuned by something else. God is the answer to all of those "How must it have come to be" questions.

DAWKINS: I think that's the mother and father of all cop-outs. It's an honest scientific quest to discover where this apparent improbability comes from. Now Dr. Collins says, "Well, God did it. And God needs no explanation because God is outside all this." Well, what an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don't do that. Scientists say, "We're working on it. We're struggling to understand."


Ah, but when Creation is the logical explanation, and more so as we learn more about life, then to me those who deny God are the ones who are doing the evading. Dawkins comes from the "ohnonotGod" school of thought, wherein God cannot be the answer no matter what. Meanwhile, believing scientists study to learn more about life without being hindered by such a prejudice.

COLLINS: Certainly science should continue to see whether we can find evidence for multiverses that might explain why our own universe seems to be so finely tuned. But I do object to the assumption that anything that might be outside of nature is ruled out of the conversation. That's an impoverished view of the kinds of questions we humans can ask, such as "Why am I here?", "What happens after we die?", "Is there a God?" If you refuse to acknowledge their appropriateness, you end up with a zero probability of God after examining the natural world because it doesn't convince you on a proof basis. But if your mind is open about whether God might exist, you can point to aspects of the universe that are consistent with that conclusion.

Hey, go ahead and study anything and everything that interests you! We all benefit from good research. Collin's belief in God, which Dawkins sees as anti-science, has led to several great achievements. I quote from the National Human Genome Research Institute site: His research has led to the identification of genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease and Hutchison-Gilford progeria syndrome.

Dawkins has been credited with discoveries advancing the study of evolution, primarily. He is so hostile to God that it pretty well exhudes from his very pores. Allow me to give you an example:

Standing in the pulpit of the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Richard Dawkins introduced his “sermon” this way:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

The 600 people in attendance laughed and applauded, clearly excited to hear the author read from his new book, The God Delusion.

Dr. Dawkins has come to America to promote his book and expand the ranks of the “new atheists”—those who unashamedly “come out of the closet” to proclaim their atheism. According to Wired magazine’s Gary Wolf, they are “a band of intellectual brothers … mounting a crusade against belief in God.”


In my estimation, Collins has done more for mankind than Dawkins despite his "handicap" of belief. Stay tuned for part three!

24 comments:

creeper said...

I agree with Collins' stance at the beginning of your blog post.

"Unfortunately people like Darwin and Dawkins have tried to use science to eliminate the concept of God and many laymen have been so deceived."

Where did Darwin do this? He used science to explore nature and find natural explanation for the world around us. That in itself is not eliminating the concept of God.

Collins: "Because I do believe in God's creative power in having brought it all into being in the first place, I find that studying the natural world is an opportunity to observe the majesty, the elegance, the intricacy of God's creation."

Well said.

"He must believe that the miracles performed by Jesus didn't happen. The problem is that even the non-Christian Jews, who considered Jesus to be a problem, recorded that He had performed miracles. There were hundreds of witnesses to most of the miracles of Jesus and just because they are all dead now doesn't change things."

I thought it was only the gospels that recorded Jesus's miracles, and those were written down by Jesus's disciples. The only other historical reference to Jesus is decades later, reflecting the stories that were spreading by hearsay at that point. The hundreds of witnesses you mention left behind no record of what they saw to either confirm or deny the accounts in the gospels.

"There is no evidence of macroevolution ever being observed, by the way"

Do you mean "macroevolution being observed within a human lifetime", "macroevolution being observed in recorded history", "macroevolution being observed in the fossil record" or "macroevolution being observed as being caused by natural selection"? Please elaborate, because your statement as it stands is simply wrong. Macroevolution occurring has been observed in the fossil record.

"But now we discover that the scientist he has chosen to take the Creation side isn't acutally a pure Creationist!"

Seeing a TIME cover story about "Creationists vs. Science" would have been quite entertaining, but this one is actually called "God vs. Science". Creationism and a belief in God are not one and the same. What makes you so certain that God didn't use (or design, if you prefer) the mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift etc. in order to create the world we see around us?

"Why would God come up with a way to bring about all current living things by producing untold generations of organisms dying and failing and struggling to adapt to a cruel world? That is a loving God?"

I've had some people who claimed to be Christians point out to me that God is not necessarily loving and can be quite cruel. That, and that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Are these now non-operative?

Come on, whenever I bring up the contradiction of a loving God and the large-scale death of innocents, I'm told that God gave us free will. Now all of a sudden a loving God is supposed to stand in the way of the large-scale death of innocents? This is supposed to be an argument against evolution?

"Plus, if the Genesis account of the Bible is not reliable, then doesn't that mean that the Bible itself is unreliable?"

Not at all. Unreliable doesn't need to come into it. What about "not literally true, but true in other ways"? Myths and allegories do reveal truths about the world without being literally true.

"The rules of logic dictate that the simplest explanation is the best and the existence of a Creator God is far and away the simplest explanation for the Universe and all of life having come about."

If you mean Occam's Razor, then no, the rules of logic don't dictate that the simplest explanation is the best. The explanations being compared need to have equal explanatory value, and one should not add unnecessary layers of explanation.

If we go on the assumption that the world around us is not an illusion, then an explanation that derives from mechanisms in that world is a simpler one than any explanation that derives from that world and adds a vaguely defined supernatural being and any number of unexplained mechanisms. Adding God to the equation may seem to simplify things since it's a shorter, simpler sentence, but what it actually does is take away explanatory value.

"Collin's belief in God, which Dawkins sees as anti-science, has led to several great achievements. I quote from the National Human Genome Research Institute site: His research has led to the identification of genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease and Hutchison-Gilford progeria syndrome."

Actually, it was his scientific research, using a naturalistic approach to science, that led to his scientific achievements. His belief in God may well have inspired him, but I'm not aware of him crediting his belief in God in that way. Could you provide a link?

Collins is an excellent example of a naturalistic approach to science being more than compatible with a belief in God.

I disagree with Dawkins that science is anti-God and that a belief in God is necessarily anti-science, although there are plenty of religious folk who are hoodwinked into being anti-science on account of a belief in the literal truth of all parts of the Bible (a fallacy of composition).

Juggling Mother said...

I think creeper has pretty much covered my comment;-)

xiangtao said...

"So Dawkins asserts here that there are no miracles. Hmmm. He must believe that the miracles performed by Jesus didn't happen. The problem is that even the non-Christian Jews, who considered Jesus to be a problem, recorded that He had performed miracles. There were hundreds of witnesses to most of the miracles of Jesus and just because they are all dead now doesn't change things. Dawkins wants us to ignore the New Testament scriptures and hundreds of witnesses and the witness of the non-believing Jews and claim that miracles are "flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science."

There are other eyewitness accounts of these miracles from people other than those who were promoting his ideologies? Please show me where I can find them. The gospels are a biased source and there fore not credible as proof.

"But now we discover that the scientist he has chosen to take the Creation side isn't acutally a pure Creationist! We aren't being presented with black versus white, but rather as I feared it is black versus off-white."

That's because all of the "pure creationists" have BS (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science) degrees from diploma mills and are not credible scientists.

radar said...

"all of the "pure creationists" have BS (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science) degrees from diploma mills and are not credible scientists."

I previously refuted the above ridiculous statement with several examples of creation scientists with advanced degrees and having won major awards and plaudits. Those who have read this blog for awhile have seen this. Shame on you xiangtao, trying to promulgate deliberate falsehoods!

radar said...

"Unfortunately people like Darwin and Dawkins have tried to use science to eliminate the concept of God and many laymen have been so deceived."

Where did Darwin do this? He used science to explore nature and find natural explanation for the world around us. That in itself is not eliminating the concept of God.

Come on, I posted the facts behind that statement in a previous posting. We have proof that Darwin was throwing ideas against the wall to see what would stick. He didn't use observation to come up with a theory, he used his anti-Christian attitude to fuel a quest to try to disprove God, eliminate the need for God. Darwin tried out differing ideas in the attempt to find one that people would buy as an alternative to creation, and the one he settled on finally found success.

~~~~~~~
Creeper-

There are very few sources other than the New Testament, Jewish records and Josephus that record miracles of Jesus. At the time of the miracles, those records would have been refuted and laughably condemned as fiction, but instead they were accepted as historical documentation. The time for skeptics to try to claim Jesus did not perform those miracles was within the first hundred years of their happening. So the burden of proof now shifts to the naysayers. Have you good proof from the first century that Jesus DIDN'T perform the miracles and DIDN'T raise from the dead???

radar said...

Come on, whenever I bring up the contradiction of a loving God and the large-scale death of innocents, I'm told that God gave us free will. Now all of a sudden a loving God is supposed to stand in the way of the large-scale death of innocents? This is supposed to be an argument against evolution?

This is very simple. The Bible teaches that death came from sin, and mankind brought sin into the world. Man had domain over the earth and he blew it. However, this is the teaching of the same Bible that states emphatically that God created.

The Bible teaches that death is from sin, but all living things other than man simply expire at the end of their days, with no judgement to come, whereas man does face judgement one way or the other. This is the primary reason, I believe, that Darwin and those who came after him are so dedicated to try to eliminate the very idea of God. Atheists don't want life to come with responsibility to anyone other than themselves.

Evolution involves millions of years of death with no first causation. Death in the Darwin line of thinking is just part of the process.

radar said...

Do you mean "macroevolution being observed within a human lifetime", "macroevolution being observed in recorded history", "macroevolution being observed in the fossil record" or "macroevolution being observed as being caused by natural selection"? Please elaborate, because your statement as it stands is simply wrong. Macroevolution occurring has been observed in the fossil record.

The fossil record does no such thing! I've posted many times on so many problems that the fossil records pose for evolution, like consistent evidence of mass water-related burial and the sudden switch from one kind of creature to another with very few, if any, transitional forms. I believe that the fossil record is a problem for macroevolution and only the loud repetition of unproved assertions to those who have not actually observed much of the fossil record continues to keep those problems under wraps.

xiangtao said...

You have given examples of credible scientists that believe in a literal six day creation 6000 years ago? I seem to have missed that one. No deliberate misrepresentation here. If you have other evidence, by all means, point the way.

As for evidence that Jesus performed miracles, you said that there were hundreds of eyewitnesses that prove Jesus did these things. all we're asking for is some of these eywitness accounts. These supposed happenings were allegedly going on in the midst of a culture that REALLY liked to write things down. For there to be no record of these events except from those who were following Jesus and promoting his ideas is, at the very least, strange.

radar said...

You have given examples of credible scientists that believe in a literal six day creation 6000 years ago? I seem to have missed that one. No deliberate misrepresentation here. If you have other evidence, by all means, point the way.

As for evidence that Jesus performed miracles, you said that there were hundreds of eyewitnesses that prove Jesus did these things. all we're asking for is some of these eywitness accounts. These supposed happenings were allegedly going on in the midst of a culture that REALLY liked to write things down. For there to be no record of these events except from those who were following Jesus and promoting his ideas is, at the very least, strange.


These are both repeat questions, previously answered. Have no new topics? The Miracles of Christ were accepted at the time and 2000 years later I doubt you can find any new information to discredit them. Since they were not discredited at the time you must accept them at face value or just decide that first century doubting thomases were incredibly inept and pretend that the miracles could not have happened.

Also, I covered that whole scientist issue in depth previously and you were part of the discussion and in that series I listed a few creation-believing scientists of modern times, including recent award winners. I wonder if 6-8 months is short term or long term memory loss???

xiangtao said...

All I'm asking for here Radar is a link to the discussion or for you to rename them. Call it a bad memory on my part, something I've always had. If you really did give us this before then that should be no problem.

As for the miracles of Jesus, my evidence against them is that no one but his followers took any notice of them. You say that hundreds of people saw these things happen and yet not one ever wrote about it. I find this to be extremely unlikely. Consider if someone were to walk around the streets of Chicago healing the incurable, raising the dead, feeding the homeless from nothing... If people saw it happen, there would be news reports, letters sent (Dear mom, you'll never believe what I saw today), diary entries, etc. None of these things exist for the miracles of Jesus and that is highly suspicious.

creeper said...

xiangtao: "You have given examples of credible scientists that believe in a literal six day creation 6000 years ago? I seem to have missed that one. No deliberate misrepresentation here."

radar: "I listed a few creation-believing scientists of modern times, including recent award winners."


Did they believe in a literal six day creation 6000 years ago, and which awards did they win?

"Since they [the miracles of Jesus] were not discredited at the time you must accept them at face value"

If they didn't happen or were exaggerations, years after the fact, of actual events, then why do you think we should expect to see contemporaneous discreditations?

There are NO contemporaneous accounts of Jesus's miracles, NOT ONE, hence no one alive at the time would be expected to confirm or deny them. This whole strand of logic doesn't stand up at all, Radar.

"So the burden of proof now shifts to the naysayers. Have you good proof from the first century that Jesus DIDN'T perform the miracles and DIDN'T raise from the dead???"

1. Accounts written a generation or more after the fact, at a time when information didn't exactly travel at great speed (not only no Internet, but not even a printing press...), not being met with protests by eyewitnesses is supposed to count as sufficient evidence for those miracles to have taken place? Pull the other one.

2. What would you say proof that Jesus didn't perform the miracles would look like? Proving a negative and all that.

"problems that the fossil records pose for evolution, like consistent evidence of mass water-related burial and the sudden switch from one kind of creature to another with very few, if any, transitional forms."

The subject of transitional forms has been covered quite extensively - there are more than a few, with that cool fish thing not so long ago being an excellent example. What's especially fascinating about transitional forms and the fossil record in general is that scientists can predict what kind of fossils are likely or not likely to be found in specific layers - something that according to YEC should simply be impossible.

"consistent evidence of mass water-related burial"

Floods happened. Finding evidence of one doesn't contradict evolution or an old Earth, nor is it evidence of a global flood.

"the sudden switch from one kind of creature to another with very few, if any, transitional forms"

When you say "sudden", are you talking about a matter of minutes, years, decades or millions and millions of years?

"[Darwin] used his anti-Christian attitude to fuel a quest to try to disprove God, eliminate the need for God"

If that is so, then he failed miserably: the theory of evolution completely fails to disprove God.

highboy said...

"As for the miracles of Jesus, my evidence against them is that no one but his followers took any notice of them."

Other than Luke the historian, so you're half right. He did quite extensive research, and talked to people all over the region that witnessed the happenings. Sir Walter Ramsay, an all time great in the world of research into ancient history who set out to discredit the Gospel of Luke was forced to conclude that "Sir William Ramsay, all time great historian himself who set out to discredit Lukes’ account, stated “Luke is a historian of the first rank” and “should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

And its not "evidence" to conclude that no one but his followers took any notice of them. That is a conclusion based on...what exactly?

highboy said...

Also:

"Most scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion."

So the Gospels are considered to be historically accurate concerning the life of Jesus of Nazareth. All that is in dispute are His miracles and resurrection. You guys have been claiming that because the accounts were written generation or so after the fact that they are not reliable, at least as far as recording the miracles is concerned. So please explain to me how it is then that the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the historical accuracy of the Gospels, yet you somehow feel they are not reliable?

creeper said...

"So please explain to me how it is then that the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the historical accuracy of the Gospels, yet you somehow feel they are not reliable?"

That's just it, Highboy - they don't agree on the Gospels being accurate in their entirety. They just agree on the parts you mentioned above. So even historians feel that parts of the Gospels are not reliable.

To use the fact that some parts of the Gospels are considered likely to be historically true as an indication that the accounts of the miracles etc. must also be true is a simple fallacy of composition.


Radar tries to use the fact that as far as we know today nobody denounced the stories of the miracles around the time they occurred as supposed evidence that they must be true, but has completely failed to demonstrate that these stories were even spread at the time for them to be denounced. We certainly have no indication that this was the case.

highboy said...

"Radar tries to use the fact that as far as we know today nobody denounced the stories of the miracles around the time they occurred as supposed evidence that they must be true, but has completely failed to demonstrate that these stories were even spread at the time for them to be denounced."

So you believe that the parts of the Gospel that historians buy were passed around at the time, but not the miracles?

highboy said...

Did my last question even make sense to anyone but me?

creeper said...

”So you believe that the parts of the Gospel that historians buy were passed around at the time, but not the miracles?”

Didn't I just say in the comment above that there is no indication that these stories were widely spread around the time they actually occurred?

I think the events of and stories about Jesus’s life were passed on orally and embellished along the way, as well as combined with other existing myths (e.g. turning water into wine, which appears in an earlier myth). From what we know, nothing about Jesus was spread around at the time. There are NO contemporaneous accounts of Jesus.

highboy said...

"From what we know, nothing about Jesus was spread around at the time."

Then what makes historians conclude that the Gospels give an accurate account of Jesus' history?

creeper said...

"Then what makes historians conclude that the Gospels give an accurate account of Jesus' history?"

Good question. Which historians make such a claim, and on what do they base that claim?

I'm not aware of any consensus among historians that everything in the Gospels (especially the more miraculous events, some of which are also reflected in other myths) is literally true.

highboy said...

"'m not aware of any consensus among historians that everything in the Gospels (especially the more miraculous events, some of which are also reflected in other myths) is literally true."

I didn't say that. What I've been saying is that the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the Gospels accuracy in recording Jesus' life, as the link I provided above stated:

"Most scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion."

the general simplification.

creeper said...

I think it's misleading to say that "the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the Gospels accuracy in recording Jesus' life", since the Gospels include a number of things (miracles, mostly) which historians AFAIK don't agree as being historically accurate.

Not sure if I'm reading too much into your comment, but just thought I'd point that out.

It's still an interesting question how they come to agree on the specific items/areas you mention.

highboy said...

"I think it's misleading to say that "the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the Gospels accuracy in recording Jesus' life", since the Gospels include a number of things (miracles, mostly) which historians AFAIK don't agree as being historically accurate."

That was Wikipedia. Not me. What is also interesting is the fact that many attempt to discredit the miracles of Jesus by stating that there are no records of His existence or His miracles outside the Gospels, yet as was stated, most historians agree that Jesus did in fact exist, walk, talk, and preach before being crucified at the hands of the Romans. But the only account of even this is in the Gospels. It is selective to claim the Gospels accuracy in the life of Jesus but not the miracles.

creeper said...

"That was Wikipedia. Not me."

No, that was very clearly you, not Wikipedia.

Highboy at 4:58 above: "the majority of the scholar/historian community agree on the Gospels accuracy in recording Jesus' life"

The quote from Wikipedia is much more specific and not as sweeping a statement.

As for how historians know whether Jesus existed - they don't. They think it's likely, but they don't know for sure.

I don't know how historians arrive at such conclusions, but "that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion" appears to be an explanation that takes in the Gospel accounts and attempts to identify the material at its base. Since the accounts were orally transmitted for such a long time and show evidence of including aspects of other hagiographies, it is reasonable to assume that Jesus was an inspiring figure to whose life story other aspects, including those borrowed from existing myths, were attached over time.

IAMB said...

Going back to something earlier Radar... where did you show that Darwin's motivation was an anti-Christian attitude and a desire to eliminate God? I can't say that I've seen anything in Darwin's writings that supports this. However, if you could point me toward it I'll cheerfully go back to lurking again...