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Author Topic:   The Tension of Faith
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


(1)
Message 616 of 1243 (823600)
11-13-2017 1:26 PM
Reply to: Message 610 by Faith
11-13-2017 11:49 AM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
Faith writes:

Sorry, it's you against millions of Christians for two thousand years. You lose.

Gee, the "50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong" fallacy pops up yet again.

If you divide the world into two categories, "Christian" and "other", "Christians" are outnumbered.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 610 by Faith, posted 11-13-2017 11:49 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 631 by Faith, posted 11-14-2017 1:19 PM Percy has responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 617 of 1243 (823601)
11-13-2017 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 607 by Faith
11-13-2017 10:19 AM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
Faith writes:

No, because it's basically the same problem, your effort to pretend they aren't about real historical events just because they refer to people and events you prefer to call "religious."

I think pretty much everyone agrees the Bible is a religious book and that people like Noah and Moses and Job and Jesus and Paul were religious. "Religious" is not a term of denigration.

{What makes a miracle "religious?"

You're really asking this question? You just finished arguing a few messages ago that John described the miracles so that people would be convinced of the truth of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and so be brought to salvation and eventual reunion with God in Heaven, and you're asking what makes a miracle religious? Seriously?

After his death Jesus appeared in a glorified body that could walk through walls, what's "religious" about that observed historical event that occurred in real time?

It's religious because it's a miracle recounted in your religious book, the Bible. It's also unevidenced and fantastical.

Calling these things "religious" is just a way of pretending they didn't happen.

Calling them religious is simply accurate terminology.

I'm not pretending they didn't happen. I'm calling them unevidenced, and they contain much that calls their credibility into question, such as fallacies, internal and external contradictions, and impossibilities.

They happened, there's nothing religious about them, they are simply real events that happened in real time.

There's no existing evidence of these events.

Kbertsche is right that even with "religious content" they don't lose their historicity, but I don't even want to agree with him about religious content, because that's just terminology designed to discredit their real historical existence in the end anyway.

Don't worry so much about terminology. A work of history by any other name would still be a work of history. The Gospels are not works of history. Perhaps a good term for them would be religious biography.

Also to say they are examples of a literary genre of biography, as KB does, implies that the fishermen who followed Jesus would have been familiar with that genre, which is ridiculous.

If the genre was common and familiar at the time, why wouldn't they have written in a style they were familiar with? The quality of writing in the Gospels varies but is pretty good overall. Whoever the Gospel authors were, even fishermen, by the time they penned the Gospels they had acquired a fair amount of literary talent and would certainly have been familiar with common biographical approaches.

No, they are simple descriptive accounts of events that they witnessed or knew about in the real world, most concerning Jesus' miraculous acts, which makes them "historical" by any definition.

That's one opinion. Another is that they're religious works carefully researched using prior works and crafted to serve as the central religious books to various early Christian communities.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 607 by Faith, posted 11-13-2017 10:19 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 632 by Faith, posted 11-14-2017 1:22 PM Percy has responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 13365
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


(1)
Message 618 of 1243 (823602)
11-13-2017 2:36 PM
Reply to: Message 615 by Percy
11-13-2017 1:05 PM


Re: The Evidence Of 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
quote:

I'm not ignoring written accounts. I'm arguing that written accounts are not evidence. The original claim that began this subdiscussion was that the Bible contains the evidence of its own truth and accuracy, and of course this isn't true. No writing contains the evidence of its own truth and accuracy. The point I'm arguing is not that written accounts should be ignored, but that they are not evidence.

You are certainly ignoring written accounts as evidence and that is wrong. A written account may even have features that are - limited - evidence of reliability, although those are notably lacking in the Bible.

It would be fairer to say that written accounts - without corroborating evidence - are often very poor evidence for the events that they recount.

Consider, where can we find names but in written documents ? Records of astronomical events are used to establish chronologies. The Amarna letters tell us of the dealings of the Egyptians with their neighbours. Josephus gives us a good - if heavily biased account of the Jewish revolt.

quote:

I'm not saying that anything in particular in the Bible is "complete fiction" and should be ignored.

You are certainly suggesting that the “appearances” of 1 Corinthians could be complete fiction. And “could be” is the wording I used.

quote:

Consider a couple newspaper articles as an example, one from Breitbart News, the other from The New York Times. The two articles disagree on some point. Neither article contains evidence, of course. The articles can be about and can describe evidence, but they cannot contain evidence or be evidence. To settle the disagreement between the two articles you must go back to the evidence. Resolution of the disagreement definitely does not reside in deeper analysis of the articles with arguments like "they wouldn't say it that way if it weren't true" and "this isn't convincing because it doesn't contain enough detail."

That the articles do not contain sufficient evidence to resolve their dispute does not mean that they are not evidence at all. You may reject the considerations we use to determine reliability - I suppose you have to to maintain your position - but that does not mean you are right to do so. There may well be points of agreement, for instance that are likely true.

quote:

I think making inferences from available information is a fine way to argue, but inferences are only as good as the information they're based upon, and if the information is not an accurate reflection of the original evidence then the inferences are, well, garbage-in/garbage out. That's what's wrong with the way you're arguing - you have no idea of the quality of the information you're working with.

That might be a sensible argument if I was uncritically accepting the claims. However, simply dismissing my evaluation does not make it go away. I am not uncritically accepting the claims, I have reasons to think them largely reliable - in what little they actually say (in part because it is so little).

quote:

I wasn't expressing doubt that they hate Clinton. I was merely echoing your own words when I said, "That they hate Clinton to the point of irrationality is your unevidenced argument.

And you completely missed the point. The evidence is readily available - and well known enough that it hardly needs repeating when it is not even the subject of discussion. That is the point. Simply because - for the sake of time - I did not produce the evidence in my post doesn’t mean that it does not exist and I am sure that you know it exists.

quote:

Your explanation is mundane, but that anything like it ever happened is unevidenced. Paraphrasing your line of argument, "We can accept the Biblical passages as correct because it is always possible to invent mundane explanations for anything fantastical." For all you know you're inventing mundane explanations for complete fictions.

That is somewhat distorted. I am not inventing explanations - I am pointing to known phenomena that adequately fit the description given. And let us note that you ARE resorting to the “could be fiction” argument to disregard the text.

quote:

That it's all made up is just one of the possibilities I added to your list, not my conclusion. What I actually think is that the claims are unevidenced and that there are many reasons for questioning their credibility (meaning the degree to which they conform with the original evidence, were it to still exist after all this time), such as internal and external contradictions and inconsistencies, as well as impossibilities. A story in which someone rises from the dead, makes a number of appearances, then ascends to heaven, isn't one that lends a lot of confidence in the truth or accuracy of the other details.

Of course, 1 Corinthians doesn’t mention Jesus rising to heaven.

However, isn’t it reasonable to say that 1 Corinthians 15 is evidence that early Christians believed that Jesus had died and been resurrected ? And that the appearances are cited as evidence of that resurrection ? And that the appearances - because they are so feeble as evidence of that - could easily be things that actually happened and explain why Jesus’ followers came to believe in a resurrection ?

quote:

One more time, writing isn't evidence.

The only evidence that lets you tell that the Flood story in the Bible is derive£ from the Flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh is there in the writing. Just chanting “writing isn’t evidence” like a mantra doesn’t change that fact.

quote:

But more importantly, parsimony isn't related to my argument about the relationship between writing and the extent to which it is based on evidence.

Then that would be a clear mistake on your part. Parsimony is an important criterion - and departing from it is necessarily going beyond the evidence.

quote:

But I don't feel confused about evidence. The confusion seems to lie on the other foot. You can have all the parsimony in the world, but parsimony based on unevidenced information of unknown credibility isn't worth much.

But in fact it is clearly credible that the early Christians believed in the appearances. And - given that there are highly likely events that could be described as such - it is credible that something of the sort happened.

quote:

Because you're trying to extract history from a religious book where one of the possibilities for some or all of the events is that nothing ever happened. For example, some or all of the miracles, rather than being naturalistic events that actually took place but that were misinterpreted as miracles, may never have happened at all, may simply have been invented because people found miracles convincing.

If the naturalistic explanations were unlikely or inadequate I would tend to agree. But when they are likely and adequate and offer an explaination of why the resurrection belief came to be then - unless there are other factors that count against - it is entirely reasonable to take the account as evidence that events did work out that way. Not proof, but evidence can and often does fall far short of proof.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 615 by Percy, posted 11-13-2017 1:05 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 626 by Percy, posted 11-14-2017 10:06 AM PaulK has responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 619 of 1243 (823603)
11-13-2017 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 612 by PaulK
11-13-2017 11:55 AM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
PaulK writes:

That may be because low-grade apologists are drowning out the respectable voices.

See this for a better view of the issues.

Ah, thanks, very interesting. Too long to read through the whole thing, but I got the general idea after a few pages.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 612 by PaulK, posted 11-13-2017 11:55 AM PaulK has not yet responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4365
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 620 of 1243 (823604)
11-13-2017 3:27 PM
Reply to: Message 566 by PaulK
11-10-2017 3:00 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
PaulK writes:

It’s funny that you forget to mention that according to Paul’s own account he was converted by a visionary experience and not by evidence.

Good point, but his conversion didn't mention resurrection, but just that some how or other Jesus still existed, and He wanted Paul to stop persecuting His followers. Presumably Paul's understanding of the resurrection came from the accounts of Jesus followers and the evidence that they presented.

PaulK writes:

Moreover presuming that the first Christians had good evidence rather than being convinced for other reasons is hardly warranted. That they were convinced cannot tells us what convinced them. After all, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are still going despite the continued failure of their end-of-the-world predictions (already more than a century late), the Mormons survived some pretty serious problems, Scientology - an even bigger fraud than the Mormons - somehow goes on.

My point wasn't about why the first Christians should hold the beliefs outlined in the Gospel accounts, but why we should consider them credible today.

However, there must have been some good reason for them to believe and live as they did.

PaulK writes:

Why assume that the early Christians were more rational than the followers of those failures ?

It is more of a belief than an assumption. I would add that the leaders of those various groups can in general be shown to have a motive for what they instituted. As near as I can tell there is no discernible motive for the NT authors. I certainly don't deny though in later years there were many Christians, who in spite of the Gospel message, benefited greatly from their misuse of the Christian message. In the last few decades we only have to look at the lavish life styles of the televangelists.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 566 by PaulK, posted 11-10-2017 3:00 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 622 by PaulK, posted 11-13-2017 3:51 PM GDR has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4365
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 621 of 1243 (823605)
11-13-2017 3:44 PM
Reply to: Message 569 by Percy
11-10-2017 3:35 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
Percy writes:

I couldn't make sense of this paragraph, but let me take another stab at it by rephrasing it. Would it be an accurate paraphrase to say, "I think your argument disproves itself. What you call information is evidence. If the information wasn't evidence then there would no longer be the need to look for further information to verify the original information."

I'm not really sure why this is more clear than what I wrote but I'm fine with it put that way.

Percy writes:

What in this passage resembles evidence to you? For example, what is the evidence of the "five hundred of the bothers and sisters"? Where is the evidence that tells us it was 500, not 400 or 600, and definitely not made up? What form would that evidence take? In a similar situation when Trump claimed the largest inaugural crowd in history, the evidence that he was wrong was made through the estimates of park police and photographs.

For another example, where is the evidence that "he appeared to Cephas"? It's just a statement of something that may or may not have happened. And if the earlier part of the story about Jesus is true, that he died on the cross, then most certainly the statement that after his death "he appeared to Cephas" must be false. Anyway, the Gospels disagree that Cephas (Peter) was the first to see the risen Jesus.

I don't have to go through each part of the passages to show that it is just describing a series of events without including a single bit of evidence. Stories are not evidence. This particular story contains a number of details (information) that are, at this point in time and even when Paul wrote them, unverifiable, and given their supernatural nature and religious connection, unlikely in the extreme to be true.

I disagree. What you are looking for is further evidence to either confirm or question the reliability of the original evidence.

GDR writes:

There were numerous messianic movements in the 200 year period after the Maccabees and all of them, failed when their leaders were put to death. Some of those failed messiahs had achieved some military success. Nobody later assumed that their messianic movement should continue. In Jesus we see a messiah who not only didn't achieve any military success but suffered the most shameful, humiliating death possible at the hands of not only the Romans but His own people. Paul is very aware of that by saying that he is not ashamed to preach a crucified messiah.

Percy writes:

Again, you keep expressing this sentiment. We get it. You're saying, "What nut in his right mind would begin a religious movement by saying their leader had been humiliatingly crucified by the Romans." My own understanding of Paul's message, and I thought it was a common one, was that a return of the kingdom meant a kingdom not of armies and territory but of the spirit, and that the first victory was when Jesus overwhelmed the Roman's mere crucifixion by returning to life, reassuring and reinvigorating his followers, and then ascending to heaven. It seems a great and very effective story, not an unlikely one that proves itself true by its very unlikelihood, which seems to be your position.

GDR writes:

Obviously something happened post resurrection, otherwise there is no reasonable explanation for the rise of the church.

Percy writes:

What happened post-resurrection (a resurrection for which there is no evidence) is that Paul began his ministry with his message of a victory of the spirit over armies.


I agree with your understanding of Paul's message. I only mentioned the military succeses of the failed messianic movements because the Jews of that era predominately believed that the messiah would lead them militarily against their enemies. Jesus, as you say preached a message of loving your neighbour, and your enemy for that matter, and that ultimately love is all that defeats evil.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 569 by Percy, posted 11-10-2017 3:35 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 627 by Percy, posted 11-14-2017 10:21 AM GDR has not yet responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 13365
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 622 of 1243 (823606)
11-13-2017 3:51 PM
Reply to: Message 620 by GDR
11-13-2017 3:27 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
quote:

My point wasn't about why the first Christians should hold the beliefs outlined in the Gospel accounts, but why we should consider them credible today.

However, there must have been some good reason for them to believe and live as they did.


I don’t think that they needed any better reasons than the people who followed Frank Taze Russell or Joseph Smith.

quote:

It is more of a belief than an assumption

What would be the distinction ?

quote:

I would add that the leaders of those various groups can in general be shown to have a motive for what they instituted. As near as I can tell there is no discernible motive for the NT authors.

We know very little about the NT authors, moreover they were not the ones that started Christianity (except, perhaps, Paul). So really that isn’t much of an argument. Even then, the Gospel authors rather obviously had a motivation to promote their religion for one thing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 620 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 3:27 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 623 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 5:32 PM PaulK has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4365
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 623 of 1243 (823607)
11-13-2017 5:32 PM
Reply to: Message 622 by PaulK
11-13-2017 3:51 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
PaulK writes:

I don’t think that they needed any better reasons than the people who followed Frank Taze Russell or Joseph Smith.

They kinda did. Early Christians had a lot of enemies and many died because of their faith. (I also think you meant Charles Russel. There was a Frank as well but he was second string.)

PaulK writes:

What would be the distinction ?

Pretty fine line eh. I make plans for next week assuming I'll still be alive. I believe I'll still be alive based on past experience. However, I agree that there is very little difference.

PaulK writes:


I would add that the leaders of those various groups can in general be shown to have a motive for what they instituted. As near as I can tell there is no discernible motive for the NT authors.

Of course we don't know who the authors were but here is an account of what happened to the twelve apostles from National Geographic.

PaulK writes:

We know very little about the NT authors, moreover they were not the ones that started Christianity (except, perhaps, Paul). So really that isn’t much of an argument. Even then, the Gospel authors rather obviously had a motivation to promote their religion for one thing.

How Did the Apostles Die

It is one thing to promote the Gospels today but it was dangerous business then.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 622 by PaulK, posted 11-13-2017 3:51 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 625 by PaulK, posted 11-14-2017 12:20 AM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 628 by Percy, posted 11-14-2017 10:32 AM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 630 by ringo, posted 11-14-2017 11:01 AM GDR has not yet responded

    
kbertsche
Member
Posts: 1424
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007
Member Rating: 2.1


(1)
Message 624 of 1243 (823610)
11-13-2017 10:15 PM
Reply to: Message 593 by Percy
11-12-2017 1:07 PM


Re: ting Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
Percy writes:

kbertsche writes:


In the creed, Jesus' burial is presented as evidence that he really had died, and his appearances are presented as evidence that he had risen from the dead. Yes, there is certainly evidence presented in this early creed.


Where is there any evidence that Jesus existed, let alone that he was dead and buried and arose and appeared to many? Where you see evidence I see only words. If words are evidence then, "Jesus never existed, the miracles never took place, and Christianity is the invention of Paul," is evidence contradicting your claims.

The evidence presented in the creed is Jesus' burial and appearances, as I said above. When the creed was written, just a few years after the events, Jesus' burial and appearances would have been known and verifiable.

But as you say, things are different today. Our main evidence today for Jesus' burial and appearances is in the biblical text. So we need to determine whether or not the text is historically reliable and accurate.

However, doubting the existence of Jesus is just as ridiculous as doubting the existence of the holocaust. You'll find a few fringe agenda-driven "historians" who doubt both, but their arguments are flawed.

Edited by kbertsche, : No reason given.


"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." – Albert Einstein

“I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.” – Erwin Schroedinger


This message is a reply to:
 Message 593 by Percy, posted 11-12-2017 1:07 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 629 by Percy, posted 11-14-2017 10:48 AM kbertsche has not yet responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 13365
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 625 of 1243 (823611)
11-14-2017 12:20 AM
Reply to: Message 623 by GDR
11-13-2017 5:32 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
quote:

They kinda did. Early Christians had a lot of enemies and many died because of their faith.

It’s actually not clear just how bad it was. But we do know that the Mormons faced some serious persecution.

quote:

Of course we don't know who the authors were but here is an account of what happened to the twelve apostles from National Geographic.

And even a cursory glance tells me that they are telling us what is supposed to have happened, according to stories which may or may not be true.

quote:

It is one thing to promote the Gospels today but it was dangerous business then

Allegedly. Some of the stories may well be fictional, and persecution seems to have been quite sporadic. The Biblical accounts don’t have records of many being killed at all.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 623 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 5:32 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 626 of 1243 (823612)
11-14-2017 10:06 AM
Reply to: Message 618 by PaulK
11-13-2017 2:36 PM


Re: The Evidence Of 1 Corinthians 15:5-8
PaulK writes:

You are certainly ignoring written accounts as evidence and that is wrong.

It isn't that I'm "ignoring written accounts as evidence." It's that I'm pointing out that they *aren't* evidence. When we write we're recording our thoughts, but those thoughts could be about anything, from real accounts to complete fictions, from fully accurate to full of mistakes. At best writing represents an effort to create an accurate description of evidence from the real world.

Here's a brief example. George Papadopoulous made false statements to the FBI for which he was later arrested. But had Comey pledged loyalty to Trump and not been fired then Mueller would never have been appointed special counsel and there would never have been an investigation that uncovered Papadopoulos' false statements. So Papadopoulos' false statements would be on record at the FBI as...what? Not evidence, because they're not true statements, not accurate reflections of the real world. But we wouldn't know they're false. To find out what really happened you have to go back to the evidence, which is what the FBI did.

It would be fairer to say that written accounts - without corroborating evidence - are often very poor evidence for the events that they recount.

So poor that they shouldn't be considered evidence at all. While oral and written statements can be invaluable aids to ferreting out the truth, for instance by telling you where to look for evidence or relating the sequence of events, they are not themselves evidence. Evidence is a result of things that happen. Or put another way, things that happen leave evidence behind. Someone relating what they saw or heard is not evidence left behind by something that happened.

Consider, where can we find names but in written documents ? Records of astronomical events are used to establish chronologies. The Amarna letters tell us of the dealings of the Egyptians with their neighbours. Josephus gives us a good - if heavily biased account of the Jewish revolt.

I've been distinguishing between evidence and information. The names, the astronomical events, the Amarna letters, Josephus' accounts, they're all information, not evidence. Names are something we have no evidence for. Astronomical events leave evidence behind, which today we can record with proper instruments. Tycho Brahe, good as he was, made recording errors.

You might ask why I'm so against viewing the written word as a form of evidence that can range from weak to strong, which was suggested at one point in the discussion, I think by GDR. The reason is because evidence, the results of things that happen, is never false or fictional or contradictory (though it might be difficult to decipher). Evidence is a record of events that have occurred in the real world, the written word is not. Or rather I should say that the written word *can* be a record of events in the real world, but mostly not, and it's impossible to tell when you have an accurate account and when you don't unless you go back to the actual evidence, which written accounts are not.

So if the written word cannot be trusted, how do we accomplish anything? Well, much of what we accomplish using the written word is based upon trust. Say you're a waiter in a restaurant. When the customer pays the bill, do you check the signature (writing) against the card? No, of course not. The customer gives you his card, you put it through the card unit, you bring all the paperwork and the card back to the customer, the customer signs the receipt in your absence and leaves. You never get to see if his signature matches the one on the card. It's just trust. And many stores don't check signatures for amounts below a certain threshold, so there's more trust.

The result of this trust? A great deal of credit card fraud.

Can contracts, which consist of nothing more than the written word, be trusted? All it takes to break a contract is sufficient money to hire a good law firm.

Can the rule of law, also consisting of nothing more than the written word, be trusted? Again, all it takes is sufficient money to hire a good enough lawyer. There's a reason OJ went free (the murders, not the memorabilia theft).

Can the answer to the question, "Does this dress make me look fat?" be trusted? (Actually, I think some guys do answer this question honestly - they're called ex-husbands. )

Can history be trusted? How do we know anything about history if we can't trust the written word? Well, the only way we can really know anything for sure is through evidence, and the problem with the past is that it begins disintegrating the moment it forms. Someday our sun will turn the Earth to a cinder, and then without doubt all evidence of everything we accomplished with the exception of a collection of dead space probes will be gone, but long before that all evidence of all human history up until now will already be gone. A billion years from now the current continents won't even exist, and certainly all the recordings of all the news and documentaries of our time here in the 21st century will be long gone. We can write stuff down and hope it survives, but written material, besides being as ephemeral as evidence, isn't trustworthy, and it isn't evidence.

Can the news be trusted? How do we know anything about the news if we can't trust the written word? Well, there's the New York Times and the Washington Post on the one hand, and then there's all those alt-right sites and Breitbart news and so forth. Which you accept is based upon trust. And here's a great example of how the Twitterverse can affect the news: Did a Woman Say the Washington Post Offered Her $1,000 to Accuse Roy Moore of Sexual Abuse?, which I use as an example since Roy Moore is in the news. What we read in the news (assuming we understand the difference between the news pages and the editorial pages) is based upon trust, because the news doesn't contain the evidence that it is true. And obviously they make mistakes, because they (or at least the NYT and WP) post corrections at the bottoms of articles all the time.

The problem for evidence is one of permanence. Some evidence lasts a long time (the pyramids), some disappears in a second (a bird call). The problem for the written word is reliability - it is notoriously unreliable and can't be validated without evidence.

Combining these two problems of permanence for evidence and reliability for the written word, where does that leave us? Not in very good shape for establishing the truth and accuracy of what happened long ago. Or even not so very long ago - how many people shot at JFK?

Bottom line about the written word: people cannot be trusted to write honestly or accurately, and there's often no way to know when they are or aren't without real evidence. What people say or write is not evidence.

quote:
PaulK writes:

Just saying that it could be complete fiction and ignoring it is not really a sensible view.

I'm not saying that anything in particular in the Bible is "complete fiction" and should be ignored.


You are certainly suggesting that the “appearances” of 1 Corinthians could be complete fiction. And “could be” is the wording I used.

Yes, they certainly could be a complete fiction. It cannot be denied that that is one of the possibilities. Given that Jesus had died several days before, it's impossible. Granted I'm trusting one part of the story (Jesus died several days before) and dismissing as balderdash another part of the story (that Jesus returned to life and began appearing to people).

But I actually responded because you suggested that I was saying it should be ignored. I never said it should be ignored. Calling it a fiction is not the same thing as saying it should be ignored. How could I relate the story of the appearances, even if I don't believe it, if I ignored the appearances? I'm dismissing them as factual, not ignoring them.

That the articles do not contain sufficient evidence to resolve their dispute does not mean that they are not evidence at all.

The articles do not contain any evidence at all (unless they contain photos). Evidence is a result of things that happen, not what people write about what they think happened.

That might be a sensible argument if I was uncritically accepting the claims. However, simply dismissing my evaluation does not make it go away. I am not uncritically accepting the claims, I have reasons to think them largely reliable - in what little they actually say (in part because it is so little).

I guess you're referring to that 1 Corinthians passage again. What "evidence" does it contain that leads you to believe it reliable? None, right? The beginning of it is, as KBertsche points out, merely boilerplate, a familiar statement of Christian belief, unsupported by any evidence. In the remainder Paul adds his own experience, again unsupported by any evidence. There's no evidence any of it ever happened. You're inventing mundane explanations for miracles that were likely invented because people of the period found miracles convincing.

quote:

I wasn't expressing doubt that they hate Clinton. I was merely echoing your own words when I said, "That they hate Clinton to the point of irrationality is your unevidenced argument.

And you completely missed the point. The evidence is readily available - and well known enough that it hardly needs repeating when it is not even the subject of discussion. That is the point. Simply because - for the sake of time - I did not produce the evidence in my post doesn’t mean that it does not exist and I am sure that you know it exists.

You chopped off the important part of my quote, and so your response doesn't address my actual point. But the whole thing isn't sufficiently germane to the topic to be worth straightening out, so I think I'll just drop it.

quote:

Your explanation is mundane, but that anything like it ever happened is unevidenced. Paraphrasing your line of argument, "We can accept the Biblical passages as correct because it is always possible to invent mundane explanations for anything fantastical." For all you know you're inventing mundane explanations for complete fictions.

That is somewhat distorted. I am not inventing explanations - I am pointing to known phenomena that adequately fit the description given.

You are pointing to "known phenomenon that adequately fit the description given" but are not what the passage describes - you're inventing alternative non-miraculous explanations.

And let us note that you ARE resorting to the “could be fiction” argument to disregard the text.

We're not doing the same thing. You're calling the events real but misinterpreted as miracles. I'm calling the events fiction straight out, like much that humans write.

Of course, 1 Corinthians doesn’t mention Jesus rising to heaven.

For me that short passage from 1 Corinthians was the basis for only a single issue, not the topic of this whole subthread. For the most part I've been talking about the entire NT, and hopefully when I was just talking about 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 I've said so.

However, isn’t it reasonable to say that 1 Corinthians 15 is evidence that early Christians believed that Jesus had died and been resurrected ?

Yes, of course. I'm on record as saying that the written word is a record of our thoughts, which of course reflect our beliefs. Much of the writing about early Christian beliefs appears genuine and consistent on the large details, and there seems little reason not to believe that that's what Christians believed. That doesn't make the accounts evidence for the fantastical events they relate, or even the mundane ones.

And that the appearances are cited as evidence of that resurrection ?

Yes, of course.

And that the appearances - because they are so feeble as evidence of that - could easily be things that actually happened and explain why Jesus’ followers came to believe in a resurrection ?

You're asking me if it's reasonable to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to a number of people? No, I don't believe it's reasonable. And feeble evidence is the opposite of what is needed for such an amazing event. It seems to me that the best way to make miraculous claims seem reasonable is to surround them with as much of the undeniably true as possible, not yet more miraculous claims.

The only evidence that lets you tell that the Flood story in the Bible is derive£ from the Flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh is there in the writing. Just chanting “writing isn’t evidence” like a mantra doesn’t change that fact.

What I've actually said is that writing isn't evidence of events of the real world, but of course writing can be evidence about itself. Your own writing contains evidence that you place a space before question marks. It contains evidence that you prefer the [quote] dBocde to the [qs]. It contains evidence that you're fairly meticulous in responding to people's messages. But this is all internal to the writing and is not evidence of real world events, just as the tales of Noah and Gilgamesh have no evidence of real world events.

Then that would be a clear mistake on your part. Parsimony is an important criterion - and departing from it is necessarily going beyond the evidence.

Not sure why you think you have a point here. Interpretations of completely fictional events can be completely parsimonious.

But in fact it is clearly credible that the early Christians believed in the appearances. And - given that there are highly likely events that could be described as such - it is credible that something of the sort happened.

I'm not sure which "highly likely events" you're referring to. The rising from the dead part followed by appearances to many do not seem like "highly likely events" and don't seem credible, including "something of the sort" types of things. Or are you referring to your mundane reinterpretations of what the accounts actually say? In that case, why are they things that had to have really happened? Given that miracles were a powerful device of persuasion, and given the unlikelihood of these "misinterpreted as miracles" mundane events conveniently occurring just three days after Jesus' death, and given the unreliability of the writing of people with an agenda, I'd say invention is far, far, far more likely than anything else.

If the naturalistic explanations were unlikely or inadequate I would tend to agree.

Well, first I don't share your opinion that your naturalistic explanations weren't unlikely or inadequate. And second, you have no evidence that the events you're trying to explain ever took place. They're miraculous and part of a religion origin story, not to mention a collection of multiple inconsistent contradictory accounts. Those facts alone argue *for* unlikely and inadequate, not the opposite.

--Percy

Edited by Percy, : Typo.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 618 by PaulK, posted 11-13-2017 2:36 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 636 by PaulK, posted 11-14-2017 2:13 PM Percy has responded
 Message 643 by kbertsche, posted 11-15-2017 8:02 AM Percy has responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 627 of 1243 (823613)
11-14-2017 10:21 AM
Reply to: Message 621 by GDR
11-13-2017 3:44 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
Percy writes:

I couldn't make sense of this paragraph, but let me take another stab at it by rephrasing it. Would it be an accurate paraphrase to say, "I think your argument disproves itself. What you call information is evidence. If the information wasn't evidence then there would no longer be the need to look for further information to verify the original information."

I'm not really sure why this is more clear than what I wrote but I'm fine with it put that way.

But as I went on to say, I didn't understand my attempted rephrasing either. Here's what I said:

Percy in Message 569 writes:

Hmmm. I thought rephrasing would help me understand what you were saying, but I still can't make sense out of it, at least not as a response to what I said. I'll try explaining again.

A newspaper article that says, "The fingerprints at the crime scene matched the suspect's," is presenting information, not evidence, and wouldn't appear at trial. Images of the fingerprints at the crime scene and the fingerprints of the suspect is both information *and* evidence, and would be introduced as evidence at trial. The Bible contains information, not evidence.

You didn't respond to this, so I still don't understand what you were trying to say.

I disagree. What you are looking for is further evidence to either confirm or question the reliability of the original evidence.

Yes, I know we disagree. To me writing is a recording device of such poor quality that it cannot be considered evidence. It is at best the real world filtered through someone's mind to produce something of questionable truth and accuracy, and at worst just made up stuff. It definitely is not the results of events of the real world that leave evidence behind.

I agree with your understanding of Paul's message. I only mentioned the military succeses of the failed messianic movements because the Jews of that era predominately believed that the messiah would lead them militarily against their enemies. Jesus, as you say preached a message of loving your neighbour, and your enemy for that matter, and that ultimately love is all that defeats evil.

Amen (sincerely, not sarcasm).

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 621 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 3:44 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 628 of 1243 (823614)
11-14-2017 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 623 by GDR
11-13-2017 5:32 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
GDR writes:

Of course we don't know who the authors were but here is an account of what happened to the twelve apostles from National Geographic.
...
How Did the Apostles Die

The National Geographic accounts of the Apostles deaths is very credulous, giving far too much credence to the NT, to church tradition, and to the apocrypha. It's a believer's accounts of their deaths, as is the accompanying article Jesus and his Apostles a believer's account of their lives.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 623 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 5:32 PM GDR has not yet responded

    
Percy
Member
Posts: 16294
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 629 of 1243 (823616)
11-14-2017 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 624 by kbertsche
11-13-2017 10:15 PM


Re: ting Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
kbertsche writes:

Percy writes:

kbertsche writes:


In the creed, Jesus' burial is presented as evidence that he really had died, and his appearances are presented as evidence that he had risen from the dead. Yes, there is certainly evidence presented in this early creed.


Where is there any evidence that Jesus existed, let alone that he was dead and buried and arose and appeared to many? Where you see evidence I see only words. If words are evidence then, "Jesus never existed, the miracles never took place, and Christianity is the invention of Paul," is evidence contradicting your claims.

The evidence presented in the creed is Jesus' burial and appearances, as I said above. When the creed was written, just a few years after the events, Jesus' burial and appearances would have been known and verifiable.

It's still just words on paper. There's no evidence, unless you're talking about Paul, for whom some evidence seems to exist. There seems to be some evidence of Peter, too.

But as you say, things are different today. Our main evidence today for Jesus' burial and appearances is in the biblical text. So we need to determine whether or not the text is historically reliable and accurate.

Right. Given that all the evidence has long ago turned to dust, and given all the many modern claims about Jesus and his followers (tombs and claims of "this happened here" and so forth) equivalent to the many "Washington slept here" claims, how are you going to establish what is "reliable and accurate"?

However, doubting the existence of Jesus is just as ridiculous as doubting the existence of the holocaust.

I'd say it's more like doubting the existence of King Arthur.

You'll find a few fringe agenda-driven "historians" who doubt both, but their arguments are flawed.

Who are these "historians", and why do you think their arguments flawed, given that they're presumably not colored by a believers need for validation of belief?

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 624 by kbertsche, posted 11-13-2017 10:15 PM kbertsche has not yet responded

    
ringo
Member
Posts: 13965
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 630 of 1243 (823617)
11-14-2017 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 623 by GDR
11-13-2017 5:32 PM


Re: How Faith is based on evidence and yet a gift
GDR writes:

How Did the Apostles Die

It is one thing to promote the Gospels today but it was dangerous business then.


How did Long John Silver die?

He lived by the sword so he may have died violently - or he may have lived to a ripe old age tending a little tavern somewhere. He wasn't called "Barbecue" for nothing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 623 by GDR, posted 11-13-2017 5:32 PM GDR has not yet responded

  
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