Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why Trust Jon Curry?

Jon Curry decided to use a recent discussion about James White, Tom Ascol, and the Caners as an opportunity to repeat some of his arguments that have been refuted in other discussions. He ignores much of what's already been written in response to him, misrepresents his opponents' arguments, and offers no documentation for his dubious historical claims. He writes:

"As we learned from Jason Engwer during our discussion on Eusebius and dishonesty, Eusebius at specific places in his writings actually talks about truth and how it is important. He talks about other virtues as well. Clearly anybody that speaks highly of honesty and truth could never be guilty of dishonesty."

Did I say that Eusebius "could never be guilty of dishonesty"? Here's what I wrote on this subject in a recent thread, one that Jon Curry participated in:

"There's a lot of Eusebius' material that I haven't read. And he surely was dishonest to some degree or another at times in his life, perhaps in some places in his writings. You've probably heard of Bob Woodward's recent book on the Bush administration and the situation in Iraq, and the people responding to that book and the issues surrounding it have been making accusations back and forth about the motives and accuracy of both sides. I saw a member of the Bush administration interviewed on television this morning, and he didn't want to accuse Woodward of lying or even of 'having an agenda', but he did suggest that Woodward had some bias and wasn't as careful as he should have been. People will make accusations back and forth about differing degrees of bias, carelessness, dishonesty, etc. on both sides of the dispute. But it's doubtful that many people, if any, from either side will accuse the other side of publicly advocating the practice of lying. That's the charge that's been brought against Eusebius. Supposedly, he publicly advocated lying in book 12 of The Preparation Of The Gospel."

Not only did I not argue that Eusebius "could never be guilty of dishonesty", but, to the contrary, I said that he "surely was dishonest to some degree or another at times in his life". Why is it that Jon Curry is so careless in representing the positions of the people he's interacting with, even after he's been corrected? Maybe dishonesty is more his problem than a problem with Eusebius.

Jon continues:

"In my discussions with Jason he's argued that early Christians were men of high moral standards, and thus we can trust them with regards to certain claims (such as Irenaeus claims about the authorship of the gospels) though not other claims for some reason (such as that Jesus lived to his 50's or Papias claim that Judas head swelled to the width of a wagon trail). I see no reason to believe that early Christians had high moral standards. Jason points to their statements extolling the virtues of truth, honesty, and so forth. You will find similar statements from the Caner's I'm sure. It means nothing....If these men can be dishonest, all the while extolling virtuous concepts, then extolling virtuous concepts does not show you to be honest. Hence we should not assume that the early Christians had high moral standards."

Jon acts as though he doesn't know why I accept some claims of a source like Irenaeus while rejecting others. I've given him an explanation repeatedly, but he keeps ignoring what he's been told. I've also given him documentation for my belief that the earliest Christians had high moral standards, and I gave him more than "their statements extolling the virtues of truth, honesty, and so forth". See the discussions here and here, for example.

As I've explained to Jon repeatedly, he himself accepts some of the claims of a source like Irenaeus while rejecting others. He'll accept what Irenaeus reports about the authorship of a Pauline document while rejecting what he reports about the authorship of John's gospel, for example. (To see how poorly Jon has interacted with the evidence for John's authorship of the fourth gospel, see here.) No historian I'm aware of would argue that we must either accept everything a source reports or reject everything that source reports. We have to give reasons to justify accepting one piece of data while rejecting another, and I've repeatedly done that, though Jon often ignores it, but it is reasonable to accept only some portions of what a source reports. As I told Jon in another thread, one of the many threads he left without responding to what others had written to him:

"Your comment that I reject something like Irenaeus' belief in Jesus' old age because it 'makes the Bible wrong' is misleading. Irenaeus' view isn't just rejected by Christians, but by scholarship across the board. Irenaeus isn't just contradicted by the Bible, but also by many other sources. Even if the Bible was the only source we had by which to evaluate Irenaeus' claim, the Biblical authors wrote in circumstances in which they had better access to the truth. There would be reason to trust the Biblical authors over Irenaeus, even without believing in the inspiration of the Bible. I can give good reasons for rejecting something like Irenaeus' view of Jesus' age. You, on the other hand, repeatedly reject what the early sources report (Jesus' existence, the authorship of the gospels, etc.) for no good reason. Both of us accept some of what a source like Irenaeus reports while rejecting other things he reports. The difference is that I have far better justification for what I accept and reject than you have for what you accept and reject."

Jon writes:

"And I think it's pretty obvious that they weren't, with rampant forging of documents, rampant modification of copies of canonical texts for theological motives, and later improvements on the gospel story from Mark to Matthew, Luke, and John."

Jon is repeating, once again without documentation, claims that have already been addressed. He ignores the evidence offered in response to his claims and he leaves the threads where his assertions are discussed, then he repeats the arguments later, as if they weren't addressed previously. See the threads here and here for some examples of Jon's claims being addressed. He'll make false claims, ignore the refutations, then repeat the false claims in another thread.

10 comments:

  1. hostus twinkius10/11/2006 9:50 AM

    reeee rrrrr reeee rrrrr

    Jason,

    That's the sound of a door turning on it's somewhat squeaky hinges (personified by Jon Curry). Back and forth, never coming to the knowledge of the truth...

    reee rrrrr reeee rrrrr

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did I say that Eusebius "could never be guilty of dishonesty"? Here's what I wrote on this subject in a recent thread, one that Jon Curry participated in:

    And here is what you said immediately after that.

    Below are some comments Eusebius made about honesty. Many of these comments are made in the context of discussing whether it's likely that Jesus' disciples would have lied about Him. Note how he refers to the evil nature of lying, how God cannot lie, etc. Notice that the second quote below comes from the same work in which Eusebius supposedly advocated lying.

    What I'm saying is, it makes no difference to the Caner's that they speak about virtuous things and how lying is evil. They still engage in dishonesty. I'm making a simple point. Your argument doesn't prove anything.

    As I've explained to Jon repeatedly, he himself accepts some of the claims of a source like Irenaeus while rejecting others. He'll accept what Irenaeus reports about the authorship of a Pauline document while rejecting what he reports about the authorship of John's gospel, for example.

    Why do you say this? Why do you think I accept Pauline authorship an the basis of Irenaeus testimony? I don't. Irenaeus is untrustworthy, as is Papias. I am consistent on this point. You however exhibit a strong correlation between acceptance of those supposed apostolic traditions that support your arguments or don't harm your arguments and rejection of those that do damage to your arguments. Whatever your reasons, the correlation is still their. Of course correlation isn't causation and it could be that this is simply a result of an objective look at the facts. But it sure is a strong correlation. I think an objective observer would find that curious.

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  3. hostus twinkius10/11/2006 10:20 AM

    reee rrrrr reeee rrrrr
    reeee rrrrr reeee rrrrr

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's a question: Why trust Triablogue?


    (all you can hear is the faint sound of crickets in the distance seeking mates in the dead of night)


    Ah the silence...

    ReplyDelete
  5. hostus twinkius10/11/2006 11:38 AM

    Wow Ted, I think you should stick with your customary *YAWN*. Otherwise, you just make yourself look stupid....

    ReplyDelete
  6. HT: "Wow Ted, I think you should stick with your customary *YAWN*. Otherwise, you just make yourself look stupid...."

    Well, cupcake, you're helping me make my point. You don't list one reason why we should trust Triablogue. Your input is most appreciated.

    The silence is pervasive.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why not, laddie?

    After all, they seem to have enjoyed more sleep than you.

    But that is beside the point.

    Personally I trust them because I have no pressing reason not to.

    ReplyDelete
  8. hostus twinkius10/11/2006 2:47 PM

    Well Ted, I'd have to take your question seriously to offer a reason. Sorry...

    ReplyDelete
  9. So there you have it: no positive reasons are offered for trusting Triablogue. Instead, all we get is snobbish attitude. That's what Christians are known best for, so they're right on queue.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jon Curry said:

    "What I'm saying is, it makes no difference to the Caner's that they speak about virtuous things and how lying is evil. They still engage in dishonesty. I'm making a simple point. Your argument doesn't prove anything."

    You didn't just say that people can profess to be opposed to dishonesty, yet still be dishonest. Who would disagree? Rather, you also claimed that I argued that "Clearly anybody that speaks highly of honesty and truth could never be guilty of dishonesty." I didn't make that argument. You were misrepresenting what I said. Now that you've been corrected, you're dishonestly acting as if you were just making the "simple point" you describe above.

    You write:

    "Why do you say this? Why do you think I accept Pauline authorship an the basis of Irenaeus testimony? I don't."

    Irenaeus doesn't have to be the only source who comments on Pauline authorship in order for you to accept his testimony on the issue. Similarly, Irenaeus isn't the only source to comment on the authorship of the fourth gospel, yet you criticize me for accepting his testimony on the subject.

    As I've explained to you repeatedly, the concept that we have to either accept every claim made by a source or reject every claim made by that source is ridiculous. Do you apply the same standard to Josephus, Suetonius, and other non-Christian sources? Should we apply the standard to you? Since you've been shown to have been wrong on some issues, should we dismiss everything else you say on that basis? I believe that you've been wrong on many issues, yet I accept your testimony on other subjects (that you're married, that you have children, your age, etc.). Should I reject your testimony on every issue, since I reject it on some?

    You write:

    "Irenaeus is untrustworthy, as is Papias. I am consistent on this point."

    No, you aren't consistent. You've repeatedly accepted the testimony of people you've categorized as untrustworthy on one issue or another. Your recent argument about Serapion and the canon of scripture, for example, depends on the testimony of Eusebius, yet you've argued that Eusebius is untrustworthy. And are we to believe that you reject everything Papias and Irenaeus report? When Papias reports that he received information from an elder by the name of John or Irenaeus reports where he (Irenaeus) lived, for example, you reject their testimony? You don't accept their testimony about anything? If so, then you're once again placing yourself to the left of the Jesus Seminar and to the left of nearly everybody else.

    If you reject the testimony of sources like Papias and Irenaeus, then who are the trustworthy sources whose testimony you do accept? Whose testimony do you accept in order to arrive at your conclusions about the Pauline documents? Give us their names, so that we can see what other authorship attributions those sources advocate and see if you accept their testimony on those other authorship attributions. After all, if they're untrustworthy on the other authorship attributions, how could you accept their testimony on the Pauline documents? Name these trustworthy sources. For example, you reject the existence of Jesus. If somebody thought that Jesus existed, that would not only be an error, but also a highly significant one. How could you accept the testimony of somebody who committed such an error? So, who are these sources who either rejected Jesus' existence or didn't comment on the subject and gave us reliable testimony about the authorship of the Pauline documents?

    You write:

    "You however exhibit a strong correlation between acceptance of those supposed apostolic traditions that support your arguments or don't harm your arguments and rejection of those that do damage to your arguments. Whatever your reasons, the correlation is still their."

    I've already addressed that charge elsewhere, and you didn't respond to what I wrote.

    ReplyDelete