Sunday, March 06, 2016

Cooking the books

Peter Grice
It seems that the likes of you and "Maul P." live in a kind of fantasy land where physicalists have no idea what physicalism is, and where "annihilationists" don't even define their basic terms like "life" and "death"—which must apparently include top Bible scholars like Richard Bauckham and I. Howard Marshall. 

Several issues:

i) I don't mind saying there are some impressive Bible scholars who espouse annihilationism (e.g. E. E. Ellis, R. T. France, I. H. Marshall, Anthony Thiselton, John Wenham, David Instone-Brewer). 

However, we need to distinguish between impressive scholars who happen to espouse annihilationism, and scholars who make an impressive case for annihilationism.

ii) Your argument from authority cuts both ways, inasmuch as there are equally impressive Bible scholars who reject annihilationism. So the appeal to authorities qua authority cancels out. 

iii) For that matter, there are liberal scholars who think all sides are both right and wrong. They think the Bible teaches diverse eschatologies and anthropologies. You can find annihilationism in the Bible, as well as univeralism, and traditionalism. So they think it's a mistake to shoehorn all the data into a single position.

iv) Finally, due to the era of specialization, a person can have great aptitude for Biblical scholarship, but little aptitude for philosophy. "Conditionalism" is an interdisciplinary field. It's quite possible for a top Bible scholar to have an incompetent grasp of physicalism and dualism. Indeed, It's quite possible for a "world class" Bible scholar to commit basic logical blunders. For instance:

I have few of the skills and little of the knowledge New Testament criticism requires…But I do know something about reasoning, and I have been simply amazed by some of the arguments employed by redaction critics. My first reaction to these arguments, written up a bit, could be put in these words: "I'm missing something here. These appear to be glaringly invalid arguments, employing methods transparently engineered to produce negative judgments of authenticity. But no one, however badly he might want to produce a given set of conclusions, would "cook" his methods to produce the desired results quite so transparently. These arguments must depend on tacit premises, premises the reaction critics regard as so obvious that they don't bother to mention them." Peter van Inwagen, "Do You Want us to Listen to You?" C. Bartholomew et al. eds. "Behind" the Text: History and Biblical Interpretation (Zondervan, 2003), 127.


  1. I think it's ironic that while many annihilationists insist that the clear and plain teaching of Scripture is conditionalism and that resisting that conclusion ignores the preponderance of the Biblical data; many of those same Conditionalists downplay the clearer and plainer evidence for dualism and a conscious intermediate state.

    In my nearly 30 years as a Christian I've been on both sides of both issues:

    1. Conditionalism vs. ECT,

    2. Physicalism and its attendant oblivion at death vs. Dualism and its attendant conscious intermediate state.

    In my opinion the case for dualism is much much stronger than the case for conditionalism. If that's true then that should have an influence on the plausibility of conditionalism inasmuch as physicalism better jibes with conditionalism. Conversely, it's more difficult to explain how dualism and conditionalism fit together.

    Yet, the most prominent Conditionalists tend to be physicalists. In fact, some moved from dualism to physicalism as a consequence of their conditionalist conclusions. Despite my claimed fact that dualism has better exegetical evidence for it than conditionalism. Might they have put the cart before the horse in terms of Biblical anthropology and eschatology?

  2. I don't know...I mean, I understand this is a serious doctrinal matter, but it was hard for me to take Date and Grief seriously in the original thread.

    The more steve and Maul pressed for straight, logical responses to the positions staked out, the more bizarre and prevaricating the replies became.

    I ended up being reminded of Pinocchio's "not lying" to Prince Charming when pressed about Shrek's whereabouts here.

    Fun for everyone!

    1. Sorry, "Grice", not "Grief".