Thursday, January 05, 2006

The confutation of atheism-11

Dave continues to play the same broken record, so only a few comments are necessary:


Common ground that includes specific parallels such as sons of gods being born in unique fashion, virgin births, resurrections and ascensions. Justin just isn't sufficiently stupid to create parallels where his Greek audience would know none exist. THIS is why you have to deal with the parallels he cites seriously, instead of just waving them off never thinking about how ridiculous Justin and his audience would be if in fact the parallels weren't as close as the ones he cited.

Because the points of similarity are specific enough to require borrowing from one to the other, and hence are not outweighed by the differences. You can't just say it's mere coincidence that pre-Christian Greeks thought Perseus was born of a virgin. Do you agree that virgin-birth was nothing unique to Christianity, yes or no?

Irrelevant, the chances of two different savior gods being said to be born of virgins, by sheer chance and without any borrowing from one to the other, given Christianity's existence in the middle of such paganism, are almost zero. The parallels need explaining, where did the idea of virgin-birth come from? Hint, the tale of Perseus is older than the first century, as pointed out by Justin's desperate resort to retro-active word of demons in popularizing Christ-concepts before Jesus was born, to make him seem less great to the populace.

Second, the whole idea of gods impregnating woman was known before Christianity, and therefore, whether God the Father became flesh and took away Mary's virginity so as to concieve Jesus, or some other way which left her viginity intact, god's impregnating woman were a common motif. Your attempts to water down the parallels to "general statements" doesn't work.

All that need be established is that Jesus fits the motif and that at least SOME of the parallels to jesus, existed BEFORE Jesus did, which is what Justin does for us when he cites retro-active demon activity before Christ to explain why Christ, coming later, looks so much like them. He would hardly refer to the activity of demons BEFORE THE BIRTH OF JESUS, in creating those parallels, if it is true, as apologists say, that the pagan stories mimicking Jesus only came AFTER Christianity.

I cited Justin who referred to myths predating the first-century (as seen from his appeal to demon activity in OT days to mimic Jesus before Jesus was born).

Source it however you wish, but as i argued earlier, it's too stupid to suggest that Jesus was said, by sheer conicidence, to be born of a virgin, when that story originates in a place where the virgin-born men and other similar god-men are commonplace stories.

Celsus also says the virgin-birth of Christian stories they stole from the earlier legend about Danae.

The fact that the chances are too low that they came up with a virgin-born god-man with no borrowing from such motifs that were common in first century Palestine and Greece. If I come up with a truck that is a stick shift, what evidence do you have that I borrowed the concept? See how stupid that is?


1.Justin and Celsus are not authorities on what Greeks believed before the time of Christ. They are only authorities on what Greeks of their acquaintance believed in the 2C AD.

They are in no position to know when or where a given Greek myth arose.

What Dave needs to supply are primary source materials from the period in question which witness to the Greek belief before the time of Christ.

2.That is just one preliminary step. Another preliminary step is to establish a spatial coordinate alongside the temporal coordinate. He has to show that Matthew and Luke were in a position to be in contact with this tradition.

3.That is just one more preliminary step. A further preliminary step is to show that Matthew and Luke were actually influenced by this tradition.

For example, both Philo and Josephus are in contact with Greek ideas. But that does not cause them to import Greek mythology into their theology.

4.Dave hangs his whole case on a secondary source which, in turn, refers to a single Greek myth.

And the myth of Danae, the mother of Perseus, is not a virgin birth. The fact that Zeus assumes the form of a gold shower to gain access to her chamber does not mean that he impregnates her in that same form. He assumed that form because the chamber was otherwise inaccessible. But having chosen that modality to gain access to Danae, we would expect Zeus to reassume the normal form in which he deflowers young maidens.

At the very least, the account is completely ambiguous at precisely the point where we need it to be quite specific to establish a parallel.

5.In the meantime, Dave continues to disregard the OT precedents.

6.Dave also makes a vague reference to “resurrections” and ascensions.” No specifics are given.

Likewise, he refers in passing to “savior gods.” Again, no specifics are given.

I’d refer the reader back to the online materials by Metzger and Yamauchi which I’ve already cited.

7.The concept of divine sonship is already present in the OT. It is first employed as an adoptive metaphor for God’s election of Israel. From there it becomes a metaphor for God’s selection and coronation of David. Then the Davidic expectation receives further elaboration.

8.Dave tries to weasel out of the ad hominem nature of Justin’s appeal by pretending to wax indignant at the very suggestion.

Yet that doesn’t prevent Dave from referring to Justin’s “retroactive” explanation as a “desperate” expedient.

But if Justin was prepared to resort to desperate expedients to make his case, then what is so unreasonable about Gene and Jason and myself pointing out that Justin’s appeal to comparative mythology is an ad hominem argument?

9.We do have one demonstrably pre-Christian witness to a virgin birth. And that is the LXX rendering of Isa 7:14. This represents a pre-Christian Jewish understanding of that particular prophecy.

10.There are also, as Gene and I have pointed out, other Jewish heroes whose conception was attended by supernatural circumstances.

11.Yes, there are many examples in pagan literature of gods impregnating women. And none of these amounts to a virginal conception. So you have a “parallel” without a parallel to the specific feature of the virgin birth.

12.Dave also has a habit of padding his case by repeatedly speaking in the plural. But the only concrete example he gives is the myth of Danae. Dave is a one-trick pony with a busted limb.


Why does Justin have to exegete scripture in order to justify his parallels-cites?


Because, before you resort to generic parallels, you need to study the documents under comparison and see, in terms of literary allusions and the cultural background of the authors, what their sources, if any, would be.


Wrong, I'm asking you how you know Matthew and Luke's account of Mary's virgin-birth is true, and you simply trust the accounts without reason. Sorry, but if somebody says their wife is prenant by God, and not because of her infidelity, I'm gonna need a hell of lot more proof than a mere two letters from two of her friends who solemnly testify in favor of her version of events. How about you?

Fallacy of false dilema; there is a third option, namely, the burden of proof is on me to show that Matthew and Luke do not constitute "evidence". Do you believe it every time a woman claims her pregnancy is from god and not normal sexual relations? Why not? You trust Mary's two friends Matthew and Luke, so it appears you don't need more than the least bit of assertion on the point to convince you, right?


i) The accounts of the virgin birth represent the fulfillment of type and prophecy.

ii) But even apart from (i), faith in Scripture isn’t based on having specific and independent corroboration of everything Scripture says, anymore than faith in my best friend is based on having specific and independent corroboration of everything he says.

Just as my faith in my best friend is based on my knowledge of his general character, our faith in Scripture is, among other things, based on our knowledge of its general character.


False, I proved that this principle of uniformity has no apparant flaws that would require one to be a naturalist before they would accept it, and I proved that even Christians like you accept it implicitly in your day-to-day life.


No, he did nothing of the sort. All he’s done is to assert the principle of uniformity, which he shores up with circular arguments and disguised descriptions, as well as willfully disregarding the difference between uniformity and providence.


quit wasting my time with unsupported assertions. You only deny repeatability to the method of historiography because you know all your miracles in the bible will vaporize if you Do accept it. You will never quote any historian who doesn't subject history to repeatability tests, because they don't exist. Your single solitary reason for dumping all over repeatability and uniformity is because it would cause miracles to be most probably false, certainly not because you demonstrated that repeatability is somehow itself flawed as a tool of historical reconstruction.


i) If Dave thinks that we’re wasting his time, he’s more than welcome to go elsewhere. He was the one who chose to pick a fight over at one Christian blog, and then continue his fight over here.

ii) Dave is in no position to assign motives to Gene or Jason or me. Many Christians, myself included, are adult converts to the faith.

iii) This is the second time he’s appealed to historians, as well as scientists (see below). This appeal was stupid before, and is just as stupid on the second round since, as I’ve already pointed out, many distinguished scientists and historians (as well as philosophers) are Christian.


Strawman, I don't say miracles are unusal, I say the contradict scientific laws, because the laws wouldn't be "laws" if there possibility of suspending their effect on reality. When we see something that LOOKS like it suspends physical laws, do we automatically say "must be true miracle"? Or "probably something deceptive/false is going on here"?

If somebody told you they taught a pig how to grow wings and fly like a bird, would you just believe everything you hear, or would your tendancy toward naturalist historiography rear it's ugly head?


i) Like an ox hitched up to a rice mill, Dave can never see himself free of his circular rut. All he ever does is to plod around the same well-trodden groove.

ii) To take a mundane example, left to their own accord we expect rocks to roll downhill rather than uphill. But sometimes rocks roll uphill. That can happen in an earthquake or volcanic eruption, or when a team of men rolls a rock uphill.

All other things being equal, we expect dead men to stay dead. But Jesus was not an ordinary man. The Resurrection is not a freak event.

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is the framework within which the Resurrection occurs: Jesus is God Incarnate. Jesus becomes incarnate to redeem sinners from the power and penalty of sin. He comes in fulfillment of OT type and prophecy. Death is not a natural event, but a penal sanction. The atonement involves the vicarious death and resurrection of the Redeemer.

Within this framework we would not expect ordinary providence to obtain. To constantly compare it to flying pigs is hopelessly obtuse.

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