Friday, May 06, 2016

Bart's groupies

(Posted on behalf of Steve.)

After I reviewed the debate between Bart Ehrman and Tim McGrew on YouTube, I took a look at some of the comments. Village atheists swarmed the comment thread, so I interacted with some of them [here and here]. Their lack of rudimentary reasoning skills is something to behold. Here are some of my comments:

steve hays

Incidentally, it's funny how many commenters falsely accuse McGrew of intellectual evasion for refusing to debate inerrancy, when it was–in fact–Ehrman who was guilty of intellectual evasion by laboring to dodge the actual topic of the debate, regarding the historical reliability of the Gospel, by shifting discussion to the question of inerrancy.

steve hays
+Niall Walker

That's not an argument from authority–that's testimonial evidence. Learn the difference.

steve hays

He didn't appeal to authority. You're hearing McGrew through Ehrman's filter. You need to think for yourself. For instance, McGrew's reference to Hengel wasn't an appeal to authority, since Hengel has provided an extensive argument for the authenticity of the Gospel titles.

steve hays

You fail to explain how that would make him "incredibly extraordinary". You fail to explain how, if true, that would have been recorded "a lot better" than we see in the gospels. You're just telling us your state of mind rather than giving actual reasons for your reaction.

steve hays

So you're telling me that you can't remember your own statement. You used the phrase "incredibly extraordinary". That's what I quoted. That consists of a noun modified by an adjective.

You then respond to me by misquoting yourself, as if you only said "extraordinary" minus the adjective.

And, no, I didn't delete my comment. Do you have any other confusions to share?

steve hays

Sure it is. The author of Acts authored one of the Gospels. Acts has abundant archeological confirmation. That reflects on the accuracy of the author.

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

i) In the debate, he gave specific reasons for his position on the cleansing of the temple. You need to improve your listening skills.

ii) Likewise, he said Gospel writers sometimes rearrange the order of events for theological or narrative reasons. You're not listening. You need to pay attention to what people actually say. Because you suffer from knee-jerk hostility to Christian scholars, you subconsciously filter out what they say. Your prejudice acts as a subliminal screen.

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

Not surprisingly, you fail to interact with the arguments he gave.

He didn't take a firm position because both are possible, given the state of the documentary record.

Since inerrancy is consistent with either one or two temple cleansings, your comment is illogical. Even if he were an inerrantist, that wouldn't require him to defend two temple cleansings. Evidently, you haven't read inerrantist scholars on this passage (e.g. Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, Vern Poythress). Try not to make such uninformed comments. It just makes you look bad. Attitude is not a substitute for knowing what you're talking about.

You have this paranoid notion that he must be an inerrantist who's hiding his true convictions. There is, however, no reason to think he'd be a doctrinaire inerrantist. The historical reliability of the Gospels is defended by scholars who don't subscribe to the inerrancy of Scripture. Take Craig Evans. So your inference is fallacious.

You are captive to a pleasing narrative that you and others have concocted about inerrantists. A narrative that has no basis in fact.

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

All you've done is to reiterate your initial confusion. You have this conspiratorial notion that McGrew is a closet inerrantist. You imagine that he inclines to the belief that the temple was cleansed twice because to say it was only cleansed once would be somehow violate the inerrancy of the Gospels. But among other things, you fail to explain how that would impugn the inerrancy of the Gospels.

If, say, there was only one temple cleansing, and John resequenced the event, that would not be an error on his part. That would be a self-conscious editorial decision. Whether the temple was cleansed once or twice are both consistent with the inerrancy of the Gospels.

And in any case, that's a red herring. The debate was not about inerrancy.

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

Do you think there's no fact of the First Crusade, since that's only found in books? Do you think there's no fact that Henry VIII was king of England, since that's only found in books?

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

i) So now you're admitting that you do believe things written in old books.

ii) As far as sources from both sides of the conflict, ancient Christianity has that as well. For instance, consider how the Talmud bears witness to the existence of Jesus as well as his ability as a miracle-worker.

iii) The Gospel of John enjoys archeological confirmation, as do other books of the Bible.

iv) You fail to explain how labeling something "an extraordinary claim" is germane.

steve hays
+Robbie “H.B” Desiato

And what makes you think Christians automatically discount non-Christian miracles?

steve hays
+Topher S

You're oblivious to how Ehrman's presuppositions influence his conclusions. Take his claim that Jesus would be arrested and executed if he disrupted Temple business. But that only follows if Jesus was merely human. If, by contrast, he was the omnipotent Son of God, then no one could prevent him or stop him from disrupting Temple business unless he allowed them to.

steve hays
+Topher S

Your response is systematically confused:

i) The fact that he's a NT scholar does not entail methodological atheism. After all, many NT scholars do not espouse methodological atheism. So your statement is a non sequitur.

ii) Methodological atheism is a presupposition. Therefore, Ehrman is operating with his own presuppositions. His historiography is hardly neutral.

iii) The question at issue is not whether you affirm or deny the deity of Christ, but the fact that Ehrman's position on the cleansing of the temple requires a presupposition on his part. You need to follow the argument.

iv) You furnish no evidence for your contention that it's based on personal conviction rather than evidence. Your assertion is bereft of evidence.

v) To assert that it lies outside the bounds of historical inquiry is a presupposition on your part. Thanks for proving my point.

vi) There's nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence to establish a particular fact.

vii) Your entire comment consists of unsupported claims. You yourself exhibit ideological blinders.

You substitute rhetoric for reasons. Talking about evidence isn't evidence.

steve hays
+Topher S

I realize you're reluctant to get into an argument you'd lose. So much easier to make drive-by comments you can't defend.

steve hays

McGrew didn't say we lost all the evidence. You need to improve your listening skills.

steve hays
+Richard Earle

If you're really curious, why don't you read books on biblical inerrancy, viz. Craig Blomberg, Vern Poythress, Robert Stein. It's not my job to spoon feed you.

steve hays
+Joshua Jones

That wasn't the topic of the debate. Ehrman was attempting to change the topic of the debate. You need to acquire a modicum of intellectual discipline.

steve hays
+Joshua Jones

i) Confirmation bias is a two-way street. Funny how folks who accuse others of confirmation bias automatically exempt themselves. What about Ehrman's confirmation bias–or your own?

Ehrman himself has published a whole book entitled Lost Christianities. So both Ehrman and McGrew discuss how much evidence was lost. Do you think it's "mental gymnastics" when Ehrman does it? Or does your confirmation bias excuse Ehrman?

ii) You then make the same confused assertion as another commenter. Both Ehrman and McGrew are making truth-claims. Hence, both of them have a burden of proof. You need to develop critical thinking skills.

iii) Ehrman himself talks about events in his life 30+ years ago. So do you think that's unreliable? Or does your confirmation bias exempt Ehrman?

iv) Your statement about average life expectancy is confused. Yes, high childhood mortality drags down the mean. But of course, if people survived childhood, then many of them had a normal lifespan.

v) Your final sentence repeats a mistake I corrected you on. Not surprisingly, you have no counterargument.

vi) If you really wonder what evidence can be gleaned that any of these were actually firsthand accounts, then the solution is for you to study the relevant literature on the subject.

steve hays
+Joshua Jones

Sure you can. It's a collection of separate documents by multiple authors. That's no different in principle than using Gen. Grant's autobiography to corroborate Gen. Sherman's autobiography (or vice versa) regarding the Civil War.

steve hays
+Tony Inosencio

There are entire monographs on that topic. Take two examples:

Rex Gardner, Healing Miracles: A Doctor Investigates.

Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.

In addition, Keener has several YouTube presentations where he samples the evidence. That's a start.

steve hays
+Tony Inosencio

Since you obviously didn't have time to consult the sources I pointed you to, your claim that it's hardly evidence is uninformed. So you've demonstrated that you're a fideistic atheist. Your disbelief in miracles isn't an empirically defeasible position, but an unfalsifiable faith-commitment, immune to evidential disconfirmation.

Regarding your non sequitur, if we had reason to believe Gen. Grant was God Incarnate, then miracles attending his life would not be implausible. Therefore, your attempted comparison is vitiated by equivocation.

steve hays
+Tony Inosencio

"Really Steve?? You seem to be setting all the rules here now."

Someone needed to introduce a measure of rationality into the discussion. Since no one else did, I filled the gap.

"as opposed to actual facts, science, and reality."

Facts, science, and reality are what I gave you in the material I directed you to.

People like you use words like facts, science, and reality as a substitute for actual facts, science, and reality. You don't provide any evidence for your position. Indeed, you reject evidence out of hand.

"that you have to resort to some monographs written by other men about claims written by other men a couple of thousand years ago in a land far far away."

Since you didn't bother to read the supporting material I cited, even though that was in answer to your request, you're in no position to know the content of the material. Your default response is to make uninformed prejudgments.

As a matter of fact, the supporting material I cited is by no means confined to claims written by other men 2000 years ago. Much of it concerns modern miracles. Medically verified miracles.

It's funny how people like you think you can bluff your way through these debates without having to actually know anything about the issue at hand. But your ignorance shows.

You also have an irrationally dismissive attitude towards studies and monographs by other men. Do you take the same dismissive approach to a medical textbook? Most of what you believe is dependent on secondhand information.

"if you can't show it, you don't know it."

i) First of all, that's philosophically dubious. If someone can't show that Zeno's paradoxes are fallacious, does that mean locomotion is illusory?

ii) But let's measure you by your own yardstick. You imagine that you can just wing it. As a result, you suffer from self-reinforcing, uncorrectable ignorance.

I'm the one who did the showing–you didn't. I pointed you to evidence, which you studiously ignore–because you wish to protect your fideistic atheism from factual disproof.

Like most every other commenter here, you have nothing to offer but attitude and adjectives.

steve hays
+Tony Inosencio

i) You act as if I'm imposing on you. You forget how this exchange got started. You asked for evidence. I responded in kind. You've now proven that your request is disingenuous. Fine.

ii) Since Keener's 2011 monograph includes original research, you cannot have heard those particular "claims" for decades. Likewise, it's impossible for those particular "claims" to be debunked, years before the book was published.

Likewise, since you haven't read Rex Gardner's book, you're in no position to say that his examples have been debunked. Your reaction is a classic illustration of prejudice.

"If there were ANY merit to miracles there would be a prayer wing in every hospital, but we don't see that do we Steve?"

That's an illogical statement. Are you suggesting that answered prayer should operate with the mechanical uniformity of a vending machine?

One doesn't need evidence for lots of miracles to have evidence for some miracles. You don't need lots of four-leaf clovers to establish the existence of four-leaf clovers.

"You've read some monograms and that's Empirical evidence???"

Yes, just like science textbooks provide empirical evidence for botany, astronomy, zoology, geology, &c. Just like books on archeology provide empirical evidence for ancient civilizations.

"based on fallible human testimonies or hearsay, that's hard science to you???"

By that logic, you should dismiss medical science, which is based on fallible observers, fallible experimenters, fallible medical records, fallible diagnoses, fallible control groups, &c.

"Wrong again Steve, locomotion can be measured."

That doesn't begin to disprove Zeno's paradoxes. You have no grasp of the philosophical issues.

"Ok, Steve, now let's measure you by YOUR own yardstick. Show me where I have uncorrectable ignorance."

You've proven the point by your faith-based atheism. You refuse to consult evidence that would refute or undermine your prejudice. You're like the cardinals who refused to view the sky through Galileo's telescope for fear what they saw would undermine their prior opinions.

steve hays
+Tony Inosencio

i) So you're telling me that you have an unfalsifiable belief in physicalism. You have a faith-commitment to the proposition that the only entities are physical entities, and you refuse to consider any evidence that would disprove your faith-commitment.

ii) You're now admitting that your disbelief is socially conditioned by your childhood. A single personal anecdote about a nonevent.

steve hays
+Alan W

Your response is a non sequitur. The question at issue is whether, given a set of documents by different authors, it's possible for one to corroborate another. I gave an example. You don't refute my example. Indeed, you seem to concede the principle. Instead, you change the subject.

steve hays
+Alan W

You're repeating the same philosophical blunder. What normally happens to a corpse is irrelevant. That's what happens when nature takes its course, unimpeded by outside intervention. You don't even know how to properly frame the issue.

steve hays
+Alan W

I already indicated that in my reply to you. You need to distinguish the possibility/probability of something happening when nature takes its course, in contrast to when the natural order is bypassed by external agency. For instance, human agents frequently circumvent what would otherwise take place, if nature was left to its own devices. Divine intervention involves an analogous principle. Even atheist philosophers like Mackie grasp that distinction.

steve hays
+Seek Wisdom

Several issues:

i) Even if two people claim the same mode of perception, that hardly makes the claims equivalent. It's not as if we must either always believe what people say they saw, or never believe what people say they saw. If someone says they saw a lion at the zoo, and another person says they saw Bigfoot, the fact that both invoke physical vision hardly makes them equally credible.

ii) Paul had an overwhelming disincentive to lie. He had everything to lose. He was a rising star in Judaism. Well-connected. He burned his bridges when he became a Christian. Was ostracized by Jews. And got a chilly reception in the church due to his reputation as a zealous persecutor of Christians.

iii) By contrast, Joseph Smith had a lot to gain. Even before his "vision", he had a well-established reputation as a small-time con artist. As a boy, he was known to tell stories just like the stories that made their way into the Book of Mormon. This was long before his "vision".

The tales about the lost tribes of Israel in America were, in part, clearly inspired by local Indian mounds. He himself was an Indian grave-robber.

His "translation" of the Book of Abraham from an Egyptian text is demonstrably fraudulent.

We could go on and on. Your attempted analogy is vitiated by many critical disanalogies.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

How do you know that Paul never met Jesus?

Biographies written 30-40 years after the fact can easily be authored by someone who was a contemporary of the individual he writes about. Bart Ehrman is 60 years old. He often writes about people he knew 30-40 years ago. You need to work on your critical thinking skills.

You dismiss the accounts as allegedly "hearsay," yet you claim they were written 30-40 years after the fact. How did you come up with that figure? Your dating scheme is...hearsay.

You then make slapdash claims about "pagan motives". Did you mean pagan motifs?

You need to read some real scholars on the subject, viz. Edwin Yamauchi, Bruce Metzger.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"Paul wrote himself that he never met Jesus".

No he didn't.

"You are begging the question that the gospels are biographic. That is the point in question."

You're begging the question to say the gospels are not biographic. The "point in question" is a two-way street.

"I don't believe Joseph Smith…"

Joseph Smith claimed to be translating ancient documents written centuries before he was born. That's not even analogous to the Gospels.

"and the Mormons and they have contemporary eyewitness accounts of the miracles."

Present the evidence.

"I mean the accounts of Josephus and others about Jesus, those were hearsay."

So you wouldn't believe anything your parents told you about your grandparents because that's "hearsay".

"Except you think that any eyewitness could be living 93 AD and that Josephus actually searched for him or her."

Where did you come up with that figure?

In addition, you confuse the date of a publication with the date of the sources on which it's based. If a 21C presidential historian publishes a critical biography of Jefferson, he isn't using 21C sources, but late 18C-early 19C sources.

"history is not a science."

By that logic, science is not a science. Newton didn't invent a new telescope design, because that's "history," not "science".

"There is no extra Biblical contemporary text of Jesus or the early disciples, which makes me skeptical of the miracle claims of Jesus. I mean, if he was so exceptional, why was Jesus unnoticed?"

All you've done is to label contemporary texts about Jesus as "Biblical," then preemptively discount them.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"Paul never met Jesus."

You should try to avoid making uninformed claims. For a corrective, read Stanley Porter's recent monograph: When Paul Met Jesus (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

"the first time he saw Jesus was in a vision on the road to Damascus. And we know that it was a vision and not the physical Jesus, because the Damascus experience happened between AD 33–36, i.e. after Jesus crucification."

Your inference is fallacious:

i) You fail to draw an elementary distinction between subjective and objective "visions".

ii) A "vision" is not synonymous with a subjective mental state. It simply denotes Jesus appearing to Paul.

iii) Yes, it took place both after the crucifixion and after the Resurrection; hence: physical.

"And in his letters he wrote that what he is teaching was revealed to him, i.e. his visions and dreams."

Another blunder on your part. You're confusing three different things:

i) Did Paul see/hear Jesus during his public ministry?

ii) Did Paul see the Risen Christ?

iii) Paul's theological interpretation regarding the significance of Christ's mission was informed by personal revelation (as well as Messianic prophecy).

"But if I read something about angels and demons and signs from gods and oracles, etc. I assume it's a mythological text, because those are common themes of mythologies."

And if you read something about humans and animals and trees and cars and skyscrapers, you assume that's a fictional text, because those are common to novels and comics and movies?

"Why should I assume that the Iliad or Odysseus are biographies? Nobody would, because they talk of gods and giants and miracles."

i) That's simplistic. For one thing, the Greek gods are highly anthropomorphic. Humanoids with superpowers. That's hardly analogous to Biblical theism.

ii) For another: what makes you suppose the Iliad and Odyssey were even intentionally biographical–unlike the four Gospels?

"But nobody saw that happening. I would rather think that if a zombie apocalypse was happening, somebody would write about it."

i) Somebody did write about it: Matthew. That's why you know about it.

ii) Calling it a "zombie apocalypse" is an anachronistic classification based on Hollywood horror flicks. You need to learn how to exegete an ancient text on its own terms.

You then link to a Wikepedia article. But that very article says:

"All the witnesses were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. Cowdery, Page, and the five Whitmers were related by marriage."

So you need to demonstrates that the witnesses to the miracles of Christ were analogous to Joseph Smith's cronies.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

i) Where's your supporting argument for that assertion? You give no reason why I should believe that extraordinary claims (whatever that means) require extraordinary evidence (whatever that means). Parroting Sagan's slogan is not a given.

ii) Define "extraordinary claims"

iii) Define "extraordinary evidence"

"I wouldn't believe my parents if they told me that my grandpa resurrected 3 days after he died."

i) Now you're changing the subject. I replied to your blanket dismissal of "hearsay" evidence. Your comment is unresponsive. Do you automatically discount whatever your parents tell you about their parents because that's "hearsay"?

ii) The question is whether your grandpa is analogous to Jesus. If you think they are comparable, you need to defend your comparison.

"He was born after Jesus crucification, and he is the earliest source of Jesus Christians cite."

The NT records eyewitness testimony that antedates 93 AD.

BTW, Wikipedia is not a scholarly source.

"There are not even contemporary texts about Jesus. The gospels were written 30 to 40 years after the crucifixion."

You suffer from a confused definition of contemporaneity. For instance, I was a younger contemporary of my late grandmother. She was born in the late 19C. I was born in the mid-20C. I'm writing this in 2016. But our lives overlap. I knew her personally. And I recall many things about her from 30-40 years ago.

Bart Ehrman is 60. He constantly refers to personal experiences he had 30-40 years ago.

You folks need to stop mindlessly reciting his talking points and subject them to rational scrutiny.

"if he was so exceptional, why was Jesus unnoticed?"

Let's see: he was brought before the Procurator on a charge of sedition, and crucified. So I'd hardly say he went "unnoticed". He was "noticed" by the Jewish establishment and the local Roman establishment alike.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

You don't understand what is meant by the term "vision". I already explained that to you. You're using "vision" in a technical sense that doesn't correspond to Biblical usage, which is more varied.

"I don't believe in zombies or ghosts. Please demonstrate that those exists."

i) Actually, there is evidence that ghosts exist.

ii) You continue to equivocate over "zombies," which demonstrates that you're not intellectually serious.

"What should I demonstrate? They both claimed to witness the miracles."

So you're telling me that you don't know how to evaluate testimonial evidence. The fact that two people claim to witness X or Y doesn't make them equivalent. Do you really need me to spell that out for you?

"The gospels were not even written by the disciples, but are anonymous. We just call them 'The Gospel of John', etc. because of tradition, not because we know that John wrote it. Probably you not even know that."

You're assuming, w/o argument, that the titles are editorial additions. Two problems:

i) Do you think ancient authors didn't entitle their books?

ii) If they were originally anonymous, you can't account for the uniformity of the titles.

Martin Hengel has documented these issues at length. You need to educate yourself.

"But we don't find the zombie apocalypse in the gospel of Mark, because the authors of the Gospel of Matthew wanted to make Jesus more divine."

A complete non sequitur.

So you do or don't actually think claims that go against the "laws of nature" require "extraordinary evidence"? If yes, what's your justification for that demand?

To deny that the Bible is evidence begs the question.

You're not engaging the actual claim. The claim is that Jesus is God Incarnate. That's hardly analogous to your grandpa.

"Yes, and I wouldn't believe Bart if he wrote in his book that he saw angels and the risen Jesus when he was 30 years old. Why should I believe it?"

You're chronically confused. There are two distinct issues which you conflate:

i) Do you think reports 30-40 years later are ipso facto unreliable?

ii) Do you think reports of paranormal/supernatural phenomena are ipso facto unreliable?

From what I can tell, you don't really care about the time lapse. You'd preemptively discount reports of paranormal/supernatural phenomena even if the report was from last week.

"If Joseph Smith was really a prophet from God who had Golden Tablets, why then nobody cared about him and the newly formed cult of Mormons?"

What does that even mean? Many people did care about Joseph Smith. Both friends and enemies.

"And the exact same applies to Jesus and his disciples, except that we don't even know if Jesus really existed."

So you're a mythicist who's high on the swamp vapors of Richard Carrier. That explains a lot.

"Btw, Muhammad had way more impact as a factual historical person than Jesus, i.e. we have historical records of Muhammad actually doing something."

So your double standard comes into play as the credit the religious records of Islam.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"It's interesting that you don't even believe your own arguments. You stated point i), ii) and iii) only to make them irrelevant in the last paragraphs. And your last paragraphs clearly state the reason why I don't believe in Christianity, and so you shouldn't, too. It was your own paragraphs."

That's just as string of assertions, not a counterargument.

"And also we know and have the evidence how Paul and the early Christians created a Jesus story."

You haven't presented any evidence to that effect, not to mention that you ignore counterevidence.

"Those Christians are clearly inspired by pagan myths and the Hebrew myths."

Another empty assertion.

"The story of Jesus is also clearly fraudulent because there is nothing to collaborate it."

Even if it lacked corroboration (a question-begging assertion), your conclusion is logically invalid. If an account lacks corroboration, that hardly entails the fraudulence of the account. Think of how many private experiences you've had in your lifetime, Edwin. These are uncorroborated. Does that make them fraudulent?

You need to develop critical thinking skills rather than acting as a tape-recorder on playback for whatever Richard Carrier dictates.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

I notice that you failed to define "extraordinary evidence". You mention "objective evidence". Are you using that as a synonym for "extraordinary evidence"?

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

That response fails at several levels:

i) You continue to duck the question of how you define extraordinary evidence.

ii) Your assertion about objective evidence is an overgeneralization. How do I know that I have a toothache? Pain. That's my evidence for a toothache. However, that's subjective, not objective. Pain is a mental state. A self-presenting state.

iii) Finally, you have yet to justify your assertion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (whatever that means).

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

BTW, I let your definition of miracles slide while I gave you a chance to defend your other tendentious claims, but since you failed on that score, let's revisit your definition:

"Claims that go against the laws of nature as we know them."

i) You need to define a law of nature. For instance, do you think natural laws are descriptive or prescriptive?

ii) Why would it be extraordinary for God to circumvent a natural law if he so desired? Where's your argument?

iii) Your definition, which you cribbed from Hume, appears to be too narrow for your own purposes. For instance, suppose God orchestrates events so that I win the lottery whenever I buy scratch cards. On the face of it, that doesn't violate any laws of nature. So is that a miracle?

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"I don't feel like to play a game of definitions."

Having to define key terms is not a game. That's essential to clear analysis.

"Open a dictionary."

That's inept. The question at issue is not the definition of words, but the nature of concepts. When you talk about "extraordinary claims" and "extraordinary evidence," those are philosophical concepts. Looking up words in a dictionary won't expound or resolve philosophical issues. Do you think consulting a dictionary for "physics," "relativity," and "quantum mechanics" makes you a physicist?

"You would demand to see the car flying and to see that it runs on air."

How is seeing something extraordinary evidence? Isn't seeing something pretty ordinary evidence?

"So, if you read in the Bible that Jesus is God and he died and resurrected 3 days later and appeared to some people, that's extraordinary. So I would think at least, or do you claim that Jesus is just normal?"

You don't understand how arguments work. The question at issue is not whether I think Jesus is ordinary or the Resurrection is ordinary, but how you yourself conceptualize the categories you employ. I'm responding to you on your own terms. To make this about what I believe is another confusion on your part. Those are two separate issues.

"I put you in a brain scanner and see that you experience pain."

That's confused on several levels:

i) A brain scan doesn't show the experience of pain. A brain scan doesn't show phenomenal qualia. Your claim is philosophically jejune.

At best, a brain scan might show the source of pain or the effect of pain. But it does not and cannot directly show pain itself.

ii) Furthermore, your response misses the point. Even if a brain scan corroborates my claim to have a toothache, I don't need to have a brain scan to know that I'm in pain. I don't go to the dentist and say, "I have no idea whether I have a toothache or not. Can you order a brain scan to find out?"

No. Having a toothache is direct evidence for a toothache, even though that's subjective. Point being: a subjective experience can be probative evidence, depending on the nature of the phenomenon.

"But a toothache is not extraordinary."

You seem to have difficulty keeping more than one idea in your mind at a time. There are two different issues which you collapse:

i) What is the evidence for X?

ii) Is X extraordinary?

You said the only kind of evidence is "objective" evidence. I gave you an obvious counterexample.

"I don't need to. You are the one who is trying to convince me, and I'm telling you how to do it."

You misperceive your role in this debate. I was never attempting to convince you. You're just a foil. My replies are for the benefit lurkers who might read this thread.

"I'm not going to lower my standards for you."

You can't even articulate your "standards".

"Laws of nature are well tested observed patterns of nature."

How do "patterns of nature" create a presumption against miracles? Miracles presuppose external agency. It's a pattern of nature that water flows downhill. But if you build a pump, then water can move uphill.

"Begging the question that God exists."

Once again, you're unable to follow the argument. The question at issue isn't whether God exists, but whether it would be extraordinary for God to circumvent a law of nature if he did exist. Even an atheist needs to assume the opposing viewpoint for the sake of argument if he's going to claim the opposing viewpoint is inconsistent.

Given God's existence, would it be extraordinary for God to bypass a natural law? You can dispute God's existence, but that's a separate question from whether miracles are extraordinary in principle. For that's a value-laden characterization. Extraordinary in reference to what? Atheism or theism? Are miracles extraordinary if theism is the frame of reference? Or atheism? If the latter, then your statement hinges on the truth of atheism, and not the nature of miracles per se.

"It would violate the law of statistics."

Do loaded dice and stacked decks violate the law of statistics? Which is "the greater miracle"?

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"You are just playing word games."

That's another anti-intellectual response on your part. When you base your position on appeal to "extraordinary events" and "extraordinary evidence," it's hardly a word game to require you to unpack and defend your operating categories.

It didn't take you long to bottom out because all you had was catchphrases from Sagan and Hume. The moment your slogans are challenged, you have nothing to fall back on. You can't begin to defend, or even explicate, your key assumptions.

"I don't care about your experience, because it's in your head anyway, and doesn't affect me."

Which misses the point, as usual. Your definition of evidence was a hasty generalization.

"No. Miracles presuppose a supernatural agency."

False dichotomy. Moreover, I'm simply defining a miracle the same way atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie defines a miracle.

"I don't care about hypotheticals."

Which is yet another anti-intellectual response on your part. Hypotheticals are an essential feature of philosophical reasoning. You keep demonstrating that your denial of miracles is philosophically indefensible.

"Given a magical supernatural flying spaghetti monster's existence, would it be extraordinary for such spaghetti monster to bypass a natural law? No, since the very existence of the magical supernatural flying spaghetti monster would violate natural laws. You see, it's just a circular argument."

Actually, the FSM is not a supernatural entity, but a physical entity. That's hardly comparable to classical theism. So your attempted analogy is vitiated by fatal equivocation.

"Given that we play dice and you would win every time for your entire life, the greater miracle would be that the laws of statistics changed for your benefit. Hence it is much more likely that you play with loaded dice."

Which proves my point, because you just don't get it. Let's recast the issue in your terms. Which is more likely: that the dice are loaded, or that observers misperceive shooting dice?

By your logic, since consistently beating the odds at the craps table "violates the law of statistics," it's always more likely that eyewitnesses at the craps table misperceive the roll of the dice. But, of course, you don't believe that. Rather, you'd credit eyewitness testimony in that situation and attribute the gambler's improbable winning streak to loaded dice.

By parity of argument, when confronted with a well-attested miracle, we should credit the testimonial evidence and grant the occurrence of a miracle.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

You can't even follow the logic of your own argument. You made "violating a law of statistics" analogous to "violating a law of nature." So according to your own comparison, if there are eyewitness reports of a gambler who consistently beats the odds, it is more likely that the observers were either mistaken or lying than the gambler who consistently beats the odds. Cheating (loaded dice, stacked deck) would be the "greater miracle".

"That's funny, most philosophers are atheists."

Your response is confused. The question at issue the level of your own intellectual performance in this exchange.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"The law of statistics is a law of nature."

Actually, the odds are generally mathematical. So you're confounding nomological necessity, which is contingent, with mathematical necessity, which is absolute.

"Option b) and option c) are constantly confirmed, in science, in law, and also of so called "well-attested" miracles. There was never a case of option a)."

Funny how it doesn't occur to you that that's a reductio ad absurdum of your position. You are saying it's never justifiable to conclude that someone cheated the casino, because that would "violate a law of nature."

"Also, Hume argues to reject the greater miracle."

And by your analogy, cheating the casino is the greater miracle. So much for the The MIT Blackjack Team.

"Because if there is a God, then we either just some marionettes and our lives are meaningless…"

So your objection to miracles is emotional rather than evidential.

"because currently about a thousand children die every day of starvation and deceases. For God it wouldn't be a problem to miraculous appear food to feed the hungry and the poor, and to cure their deceases."

That would include children who grow up to be embezzlers, murderers, military dictators, &c.

steve hays
+Erwin Müller

"all natural laws are described mathematically."

Which doesn't make so-called natural laws lawlike in the mathematically necessary sense. Rather, it just means that if there is a particular law of nature (contingent fact), that can be described mathematically.

"you have a reading disorder. Where did I wrote that cheating is the greater miracle?"

You can't follow your own argument. As you've framed the issue, here's the analogy:

A law of statistics is a law of nature
A miracle breaks a law of nature
By parity of argument, cheating breaks a law of statistics
Violating a law of nature is the greater miracle
Therefore, it's always more likely that witnesses were liars or mistaken than the possibility a law of nature was broken.
By parity of argument, it's always more likely that witnesses were liars or mistaken than the possibility that a law of statistics was broken.
Just as there is no rational warrant to believe in miracles, there's no rational warrant to believe a gambler consistently beat the odds (by cheating).

"The greater miracle is that you are not cheating but that the laws of nature are violated to your benefit."

You take the Humean position that one is never rationally justified in believing in the "greater miracle" (i.e. a law of nature was violated).

By parity of argument, cheating would be the greater miracle, inasmuch as that violates a law of statistics. Therefore, one is never rationally justified in believing that a gambler consistently beat the odds.

That's your dilemma. If you think the best explanation for an apparent violation of a statistical law is that gamblers sometimes succeed in cheating the casino, then by analogy, the best explanation for an apparently violation of a natural law is that a miracle actually occurred.

Conversely, if you think admitting a miracle is never the best explanation, then admitting that gamblers successfully cheat is never the best explanation.

You've drawn a conclusion that's diametrically opposed to how you define your terms and cast the comparisons.

"no, my rejection of miracles is that there was never once a confirmed case."

What literature have you studied on the subject?

"children who grow up to be murderers is a failure of God, too. God could easily 'touch their hearths' or 'fill them with the holy spirit' or whatever."

According to you, that would violate their libertarian freedom, thereby reducing them to "marionettes" whose lives are meaningless.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

The topic of the debate wasn't inerrancy, but historical reliability. Ehrman tried to change the topic. Do you think something must be inerrant to be reliable?

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

McGrew responded to several objections. For you to assert that it's "demonstrably false" in the teeth of his counterarguments begs the question.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

You haven't demonstrated that the gospels contradict each other. You're just parroting Ehrman's assertions.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

You link to an unscholarly article that doesn't have a single footnote. Doesn't interact with any Biblical scholarship to the contrary. Nice to see faith-based atheism on full display.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"Saying I don't know until I see evidence equal to the claim requires faith?"

Your faith in one-sided, unscholarly articles from the Secular Web.

"When a book needs a full time dedicated schools devoted to nothing but trying to make excuses…"

A typically anti-intellectual response. Only an ethnocentric chauvinist labors under the delusion that he can jump right into a text from a very different time and place and understand it all without any background information.

Do you apply that logic to The Tale of Genji or the Divine Comedy?

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

i) I never suggested that Judas tripped on a rock.

ii) There's no antecedent reason some dude living in a 21C Western culture would automatically understand how ancient "genealogies" function. You're just assuming you know something you don't. You'd make a really lousy cultural anthropologist.

iii) Your ignorant comment about ritual purity is a case in point. You don't even have a rudimentary grasp of the operative categories. It's not about "curing" leprosy. Once again, you'd make a lousy cultural anthropologist.

Mind you, the OT does have some useful quarantine laws.

iv) As to how I made myself look, that's very funny coming from somebody who thinks human beings are just monkeys with big brains. Do you think monkeys are concerned about their dignity?

I appreciate that it didn't take long for you to max out when confronted with intellectual challenges to your fideistic atheism.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"I then posted a link to a bunch of direct contradictions for them to see for themselves."

You posted an unscholarly, one-sided article that makes no attempt to interact with the counterarguments.

"You then go on to imply that somehow that one person giving a different list of names than another can somehow be squared away with historical knowledge."

An example of your simplistic grasp of the issues. You fail to take the following factors into consideration:

i) The distinction between linear and segmented genealogies.

ii) The distinction between open and closed genealogies.

ii)i Use of numerology as a selection criterion. Matthew uses 14, Luke uses 77.

iv) Matthew's use of double entendres to evoke more than one individual.

v) The difference between a biological genealogy and a royal succession genealogy.

vi) Overlapping generations, where individuals of roughly the same age need not belong to the same generation. A person can descend twice from a common ancestor and yet have lineages of unequal length, several generations removed on one side, but fewer on the other side. A point documented by Gary Rendsburg in his Vetus Testamentum article.

"Oh no it makes a lot more sense viewed in that light."

That's contrary to what the text actually says. Have you even read Lev 14 for yourself? If so, you must be illiterate. If not, you are evidently dependent on some garbled thirdhand source.

Lev 14 doesn't say the ritual cured them. To the contrary, if you read what Lev 13-14 actually say, a person with a contagious skin disease is quarantined from the general population. If the condition resolves itself, the person then undergoes a purification ritual to readmit him to the community. The ritual doesn't heal him. Rather, the ritual won't take place unless and until he recovered on his own. That's the explicit sequence of events. There's no cause/effect relation. In fact, you have the order exactly backwards. What accounts for your blunder?

"Looks like the whole field if geology, paleontology and genetics need to get in contact with you ASAP."

Geology, paleontology, and genetics don't say monkeys have dignity.

"Fideism is when you hold something on faith independent of reason."

Which you illustrate in spades.

"I shall be expecting you to provide a long list of testable, repeatable, falsifiable evidence of a predictive nature that support the christian god from you now."

You can start with the literature on miracles that I referenced.

"I can provide such fact based evidence for evolution, and as saying 'i dont know"'is not holding a position on a claim its pretty obvious you just tried hard and failed."

Since you don't understand how arguments work, let me explain it to you. I didn't take a position one way or the other on evolution. Rather, I was responding to you on your own grounds. You attempt to shame Christians for their beliefs. That, however, is irrational if you think humans are just monkeys with big brains. In that event, why should a big-brained monkey feel ashamed? In the grand scheme of things, humans are just animals that temporarily exist for a few decades. From your standpoint, what's the big difference between Christian monkeys and atheist monkeys?

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"And you posted zero refutations to them."

That's because there are commentaries as well as entire monographs devoted to harmonizing these "contradictions". Paul Carlson made no effort to interact with the other side of the argument.

"Just how Judas can die two different ways will do."

He didn't die in two different ways. He died by hanging himself.

If the question is how the corpse was relocated, explanations are easy to propose. In that part of the world you have scavenger dogs on the prowl for carrion. They could yank his corpse off the flimsy, makeshift gibbet. If you've ever seen nature shows, scavengers go to great lengths.

"The refutation was pretty obvious, they are both written in the same style from the same time period."

Once again, that demonstrates your lack of critical thinking skills. The question at issue is not the interval between the two genealogies, but the interval between an ancient genealogy and a modern reader. Your knowledge of 21C Anglo-American culture doesn't automatically equip you to understand the ins and outs of ancient genres.

"After......AFTER....I did not say the birds blood cured them."

So you suffer from a failing memory. This is what you originally said: "rubbing a dead birds blood on your toes to cure leprosy."

I don't think it's asking too much that you keep track of your own statements.

"You were caught trying to imply that if monkeys don't have dignity then we could not have shared a common ancestor."

Which I never said. But thanks for giving us yet another illustration of your abysmal reading comprehension.

"You clearly have no clue what the terms testable, repeatable or falsifiable mean do you?"

The literature I mentioned references medically verified miracles. Sorry if your faith-based atheism can't withstand counterevidence from medical science.

"You have no shame, I am simply pointing it out. You are willing to accept the most detestable and immoral things as 'moral' providing you get you keep your invisible friend."

Actually, many secular philosophers espouse moral fictionalism, relativism, or nihilism. Therefore, you're in no position to allege that Christians accept "immoral" things. To even get off the ground, you'd need to demonstrate that atheism can underwrite moral realism, which many secular philosophers deny.

"Id like to say it was hard work but er, well people can read your posts for themselves."

Thoughtful readers can see that you are chronically unable to make an intelligent case for your position, which is why you operate at such a juvenile level. I do appreciate your manifest irrationality. I think it's truly wonderful when the fortunes of atheism are in the hands of spokesmen like yourself and other representatives on this thread.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

BTW, you suffer from an obsession with alleged discrepancies in NT narratives, but that demonstrates your inability to reason like a historian. Even if two (or more) historical sources contain discrepancies, that hardly vacates their historical value.

For instance, famous people sometimes get the dates wrong (or relative chronology) for events in their lives. Biographers make corrections. But that doesn't mean people can't remember the events. Knowing what happened, and knowing when it happened (e.g. a calendar date, relative chronology) are two different things.

Even if (ex hypothesi) the Gospels contain "contradictions," historical sources needn't be inerrant to be reliable sources of information about the past.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"But here is the kicker, that means at the very least one of these people is mistaken, wrong, or possibly even both."

That's a fallacious inference on your part. The eyewitness reports might differ between observers viewing the same accident from different angles or slightly different times (e.g. freeway pileup), or they might notice different details.

"This means the bible as a source itself is now in question as its clear the message is not original."

That's another fallacious inference. You just admitted that firsthand reports can differ, yet these are original. Logic is not your forte.

"If you cant be sure of any of it, why invest so much in it?"

Your statement is self-refuting inasmuch as you speak with great confidence about what was changed.

Moreover, your allegation is confused. This has reference to textual variants. Most of these are minor, viz. differences in spelling.

The few major examples (Long Ending of Mark, Pericope Adulterae, Comma Johanneum) are demonstrably scribal interpolations. None of that has any bearing on the general reliability of the Gospel texts.

"I am simply stating what is main stream biblical knowledge that can be demonstrated by those like Bart who read Greek, Hebrew and Coptic."

i) There are NT scholars far more conservative than Ehrman (e.g. Nicholas Perrin, Bruce Metzger, Simon Gathercole, Martin Hegel) who know Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic as well.

ii) For that matter, there were many very erudite NT scholars who have far more conservative views regarding the historical Jesus than Ehrman, viz. Craig Evans, Craig Keener, F. F. Bruce, Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, Paul Barnett.

iii) Knowledge of Coptic is only germane if you wish to read 4C apocryphal Gospels which were translated/edited into the Coptic language.

"I want to show good faith and that I am not a bad guy and try this once to save you from embarrassing yourself in the future."

Why should one monkey be embarrassed by what another monkey thinks of him?

"Lets take a classic point such as your 'monkeys have no dignity therefore evolution is false.'"

You suffer from a persistent inability to think logically. I didn't say "monkeys have no dignity, therefore evolution is false." That's your own invalid inference, which you mindlessly impute to me. But feel free to keep illustrating your chronic illogicality.

"Dignity is subjective and varies wildly from culture to culture. You may be perceived as very undignified slurping soup in France, but in Japan if you don't slurp your noodles loudly its considered at insult to the chef."

And you're too obtuse to realize that your cultural relativism just refuted your effort to embarrass Christians.

"You are either slow, or dishonest and counting on others being slow."

Counting on you to be slow is a safe bet.

"I can tell you I am thick as a brick."

That's one thing we agree one.

"From experience having pet dogs they can be very indignant when caught doing something they shouldn't be."

Dogs are amoral. There's nothing they should or shouldn't do.

"You can't tell whats moral without a god, another retarded thing to say."

Which I didn't say. That's yet another example of your incorrigible penchant for drawing illogical inferences.

Rather, I made the easily demonstrable observation that many secular philosophers deny moral realism.

"I am moral because I can make the right choices independent of an invisible man in the sky."

Whether an atheist can make the "right" choices assumes what you need to prove.

"For science backed evidence based reasons on how, people can do this, read Sam Harris's book 'The Moral Landscape.'"

Which was shredded by secular philosopher Massimo Pigliucci.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"Firstly you are aware that the Christian faith is not the only faith to have cited medical miracles don't you?"

If you have well-attested examples, provide the documentation.

"Are all of those fake but only the Christian ones real?"

It's funny how many atheists repeat the same ignorant objection. An illustration of secular groupthink.

Christian theology doesn't rule out non-Christian miracles. So you're burning a strawman.

"And no, miracles are not testable, repeatable or falsifiable evidence."

i) "Testable" as in medically verifiable.

ii) If you think repeatability is a necessary criterion to determine the occurrence of an event, then you just disproved your appeal to paleontology. The Pleistocene epoch is unrepeatable. The Cretaceous epoch is unrepeatable. The Devonian epoch is unrepeatable. The Cambrian epoch is unrepeatable. And so on and so forth.

"Also why does god only seem to cure things that have a chance of being cured on their own?"

Since you refuse to consult the documentation, how would you know?

"And it creates an even bigger problem, if god actually does heal people in the world that means he can and does have the power to do so."

Peruse the literature on theodicy.

"This is a person who is anti science and rejects evolution, the strongest theory in science."

In my exchanges with you, I didn't reject evolution. Rather, I pointed out a consequence of naturalistic evolution. (For all you know, I might subscribe to theistic evolution.)

"You are probably one of these retards who does not even know A) what evolution is B)"

Unlike the towering intellect that you are.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"So then the earth was populated via incest twice"

Apparently, you suffer from a sexual hangup about sibling incest, because you keep harping on that. Is sibling incest taboo for atheists? Does that account for your fixation?

"there where talking donkeys"

Maimonides thought it was a vision. After all, Balaam was a seer.


That simply means tall people.

"wizzards, warlocks and witches."

i) To begin with, there are real people who practice witchcraft. That happened in the ancient Near East. Happens in the Third World today. Happens in the West among contemporary Wiccans. So your objection is muddleheaded.

ii) Perhaps, in your confused way, what you deny is not the existence of witches, but the existence of occult power. If so, there's abundant evidence for the reality of occult power.

"There was a global flood and all of this is true."

Which ignores scholars like John Walton, Ronald Youngblood, and Arthur Custance who argue for a local flood. You need to educate yourself.

"You can though make testable, repeatable and falsifiable predictive statements on all of these."

You're doing a bait-n-switch. The question is whether the events are repeatable, got it?

"Thats how they found Tiktaalik."

According to Neil Shubin, they discovered it because in that part of the Arctic there are no trees, no soil, no dirt, no buildings. Whatever rock is there in the Arctic is actually exposed to the surface, which allowed them to find lots of fossils.

You need to get your facts straight.

BTW, young-earth creationists, old-earth creationists, and theistic evolutionists all grant the existence of fossils.

"...from people only being healed from things that have a chance of healing on there own is anybodies guess, but its not scientific thats for sure."

Another one of your fact-free assertions. Since you haven't studied the literature on miracles, your claim is willfully uninformed.

"For it to be science to demonstrate a mechanism, good luck with that."

Another unintelligent comment by you. Science needn't demonstrate a "mechanism" to show the healing was miraculous; rather, the absence of a natural mechanism will suffice.

Moreover, as McGrew pointed out, the search for "mechanisms" eventually bottoms out in direct causation. But I realize that sailed over your head.

"or defeating chariots of iron are a step too far."

So your grasp of Scripture is on the same level as Madalyn Murray O'Hair. That explains a lot.

"Anecdotal evidence is not science"

Since you're intellectually challenged, let's explain it to you. Anecdotal evidence is sufficient to prove the existence of something or occurrence of something. If you deny that miracles ever happen, it only takes one counterexample to disprove a universal negative. You need to develop some rudimentary thinking skills.

"Being able to repeat the same phenomena…"

Like repeating the Pleistocene epoch. Good luck with that.

"Then again suggesting evolution is falsified by monkeys not having dignity is gold."

The fact that you keep repeating the same invalid inference suggests that you are hopelessly dense.

"Was Jesus killed before or after passover."

As if scholars haven't provided answers.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"So you think scientists cannot test for the Pleistocene epoch again, and again, and again with falsifiable predictive results?"

You habitually confound repeatable experiments with repeatable events. You are hopelessly confused.

"Many prayed to different gods and their person got better also."

You're not giving any examples of the medical condition, the diagnosis, the prognosis, the witnesses, the timing of healing in relation to prayer.

You can't just postulate a parallel. You need to provide actual documentation. Specific case studies–like I've cited.

"They found Tiktaalik due to the same testable, repeatable means science is known for."

They found it because fossils lay exposed on the surface at that location.

"They know this is the period such a transitional animal should exist"

So you're claiming that according to evolutionary theory, transitional species only existed during the Devonian period.

"I know I know, its impossible to do this because the Devonian period only happened once. (I love how clueless you are to how demonstrably spastic this makes you sound)"

And I love how clueless you are. By parity of argument, we can demonstrate the occurrence of an unrepeatable miracle. Thanks for shooting yourself in the foot.

"Oh so there was actually witches, wizards, warlocks and talking animals and giants?"

Which evinces your chronic inability to understand or interact with what I actually wrote.

"You highlight my point exactly, religion can completely devoid people of morals."

Why should monkeys be moral?

"If prayer cures a person of cancer once, you repeat it again and again. If it does not get the same result each time you can get a more accurate picture of whats going on. This is science."

You fail to grasp the elementary difference between personal agency and natural processes. Left to their own devices, natural processes behave with uniform regularity. By contrast, personal agents can vary their behavior. Moreover, personal agents can change the course of nature.

"This would be one simple way to falsify miracles."

That illustrates your persistent lack of reason. To falsify miracles requires you to prove a universal negative.

"Hey kids, its only happened once, we therefore cant test for anything."

It's funny how you go on these tangents based on nothing I actually said. You draw a fallacious inference, then you proceed to attack your own fallacious reasoning. I do appreciate how often you unwittingly make a public fool of yourself. It's marvelous to have atheism represented by the likes of you.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

"You then claimed that the Pleistocene epoch was not science as it happened once."

Funny how you make things up out of thin air. Quote where I made that claim. You can't.

"Nor have you."

Actually, I have. Sorry if you can't keep up with the argument. Scroll up.

"Again I will let the readers decide if that is what I said."

So you have to backpedal from your original claim. No surprise.

"Which by pure definition makes it an unfalsifiable claim and hence not science."

You're too illogical to realize that your appeal to science is in itself an appeal to personal agency. That's what scientists are.

"Again I deal with only EXACTLY what you have said…"

To the contrary, you invent things I didn't say. That's because you can't refute what I actually say. I appreciate your intellectual impotence.

"I note you are very quite on the whole Asherah and Yahweh thing."

Since you offered no argument, there's nothing for me to respond to.

"Its as if you are clueless to actual documented Canaanite archaeology."

There's a good discussion of that in Israelite Religions by Richard Hess.

"The same tard who says the NT is without contradiction, yet has no clue of the miss interpretations of prophecy due to the writers not reading hebrew and trying to use the septuagint as a base for their stories."

If that's your clumsy allusion to Matthew, it's demonstrable that he knew the Hebrew OT.

steve hays
+MyJizz UrEye

Gratifying to see your confidence in peer-reviewed scholarship. Keep in mind that Faith and Philosophy is peer-reviewed. Philosophia Christi is peer-reviewed. The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society is peer-reviewed. The Journal of Creation is peer-reviewed. And so on and so forth.

steve hays

You're confused. Both Ehrman and McGrew are making truth-claims. Therefore, both have a burden of proof to discharge. Denying something to be the case is just as much of a claim as affirming it.

steve hays

Now you've changed your claim in mid-stream. Your initial claim was entirely general. When challenged, you switch to a specific example regarding external evidence. You're free to shift ground, but don't pretend that's what you originally said.

And you're ignoring the evidence he cited.

Furthermore, to deny that there's abundant external evidence is no less a truth-claim with its own burden of proof as the converse.

steve hays

You didn't begin with an example: you began with a blanket claim. You initially said: "the onus is on HIM, the claimant. In other words, he's the one who has to provide evidence, since he's the one making the affirmative claim."

By that logic, if I deny that chain-smoking cigarettes raises the risk of lung cancer, the onus is not on me to furnish any evidence for my denial since I'm not making an "affirmative claim" (but a negative claim).

And, yes, McGrew cited evidence for his claim. Ehrman disputed his evidence, and McGrew responded.

steve hays

So you've lost track of your own argument. Once again, we will have to walk you through your own argument. You said "the onus is on HIM, the claimant. In other words, he's the one who has to provide evidence, since he's the one making the affirmative claim."

I then gave you a counterexample: "By that logic, if I deny that chain-smoking cigarettes raises the risk of lung cancer, the onus is not on me to furnish any evidence for my denial since I'm not making an "affirmative claim" (but a negative claim)."

Strangely, you respond by saying: "If you make the claim that smoking increases the risk of getting cancer, you bet YOU'RE the one who has to pony up the evidence."

That's not what I said. Try again. The example I gave was: [by that logic] if I deny that chain-smoking cigarettes raises the risk of lung cancer, the onus is not on me to furnish any evidence for my denial since I'm not making an "affirmative claim" (but a negative claim).

Are you unable to tell the difference between affirming something and disaffirming something?

I'm responding to you on your own terms. The question at issue is whether I have to "pony up the evidence" for a negative claim–get it?

This is your dilemma: if you admit that both affirmative and negative claims have a burden of proof, then Ehrman has his own burden of proof.


  1. STEVE NO. Don't. YouTube comment section will drive you insane. 95% of atheists today are driven to atheism because of purely emotional rather than intellectual reasons. Or they hear some condescending rant against Christianity by some of the more popular anti-theist.

    Their foundation is irrational, ergo preaching with rationality won't work.

  2. Upon reading your comments I have to say the Lord has blessed Steve with wit and mastery of the English language. Absolutely smashed their parade.

  3. Even with Steve's invaluable contributions, the YouTube comments section is still a vast, terrible wasteland.

    Vaughn / Mathetes

  4. The Skepticutioner or "Steve of Destruction" (pun on "eve of destruction") Strikes Again!!!

    My quick comments.

    skeptic wrote: "Btw, Muhammad had way more impact as a factual historical person than Jesus, i.e. we have historical records of Muhammad actually doing something."

    The case for the historicity of Muhammad is not as clear as many people think. See this friendly debate between David Wood and Robert Spencer:

    Though, I would be careful in asserting the actual non-historicity of Muhammad since historical hyper-skepticism regarding Muhammad lends to (non-sequitur) historical hyper-skepticism regarding Jesus. Such skepticism doesn't follow logically, but that's enough psychologically to affect some folks negatively toward the Gospel.

    skeptic wrote: "Just how Judas can die two different ways will do."

    I recommend my blogpost: The Death of Judas Iscariot a Contradiction?

    Regarding Jesus' genealogies there are a number of ways to resolve the apparent problems. Two of which I've linked to in my blogposts:

    The Genealogy of Jesus Christ (According to Eusebius)

    A Possible Solution to the Problem of "The Curse of Jeconiah"

    There's also my blogposts on Gaps in Biblical genealogies:

    Gaps in Biblical Genealogies

    For more solutions to alleged contradictions, I recommend my blogpost:
    Resources for Dealing with Alleged Bible Contradictions, Discrepancies and Errors


    1. Steve wrote: Even if two (or more) historical sources contain discrepancies, that hardly vacates their historical value.

      Mike Licona often gives a great example. It's a known fact that eyewitnesses of the sinking of the Titanic disagree as to whether the ship broke in half and then sank or whether the ship sank whole/intact. The disagreement and discrepancies in the eyewitness reports doesn't in any way call into question whether the Titanic actually did sink or not. BTW, when the Titanic was eventually found on the ocean floor it was broken in two.

      Steve wrote: Is sibling incest taboo for atheists? Does that account for your fixation?

      One of my favorite Science Fiction authors is Robert A. Heinlein. I've read a number of his books and its really strange as to why many of them include incest. usually in a favorable light. I suspect that was on of Heinlein's way (and manifestation) of rebelling against the Judeo-Christian ethic and the Christian God.

      skeptic wrote: "or defeating chariots of iron are a step too far."

      Presumably this refers to Judges 1:19. I've addressed that in my blogpost:
      Can God Stop Iron Chariots

      skeptic wrote: "Was Jesus killed before or after passover."

      There are various ways conservative scholars resolve the apparent discrepancy. One way is to argue as Gleason L. Archer did when he wrote, " First, the word paraskeuē had already by the first century A.D. become a technical term for "Friday," since every Friday was the day of preparation for Saturday, that is, the Sabbath. In Modern Greek the word for "Friday" is paraskeuē."

      See my blogpost What Day Did Christ Die?

  5. Steve, could you perhaps provide a bit more information on the bit about the Talmud crediting Jesus with being a miracle worker?

    And if it's not too much, I'm also curious about Massimo Pigliucci's review of the Sam Harris book.

    Vaughn / Mathetes

    1. "Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, “He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it.” As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve." Tractate Sanhedrin (43a).

    2. Here are some articles from Pigliucci on Harris:


      scroll down to "Science and the Is/Ought Problem"