Position Briefs

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Reply to Steeve

(Ed Note: If there is a tone of voice that you can use when you read this that sounds sincere, rather than snarky, please use it.  I'm not pulling any punches, but I want everyone to know that I have a great deal of respect for Steeve and his views - most of which I SHARE, at least politically speaking.  So I hope that he takes it as a sign of my respect for him that I'm not holding back here!)

This post picks up form a conversation that left off back in March of this year.  The post started out with me presenting some of the latest (at the time) examples from Bob Carrol's "What's the harm?" section of Skepdic.com.  This section covers everything religion from Voodoo to Islam to Christianity to Scientology, but the examples I sighted both came from "Christians." One was of a boy starved to death, the other of children being beaten to death, all in the name of bringing them "closer to God" or some such thing.  And I expected that most people would say that, "MY religion is not like that!" And sure enough no one really stepped up to defend the practice. (Obviously.)

But as the piece evolved, I came to a realization: That if you take ANY person, no matter how religious they are, if you find some who they would consider "more religious" than themselves, they'd also inevitably think that other person was a little crazy as well.  And this judgment would become stronger the greater the difference in religious zeal.  The Atheist thinks the twice-a-year Church goer is a little crazy. (Just a little.)  The twice-a-year guy thinks the once-a-week guy is a a little crazy.  That guy thinks the guy with his kids in bible school is a little crazy. That moderate guy thinks the fundamentalist is a little crazy. The Fundamentalist thinks the Cultist is a little crazy.  And the Cultist thinks the Terrorist is a little crazy.  Line these people up by religious faith on the X-axis, and plot their judgment of the next guy down on the Y-axis and you'll find that amount of crazy you are, is some positive function of how religious you are.  Not a very encouraging thought, for pretty much ANY believer, but think about it. I don't think you can deny the observation, even if you don't appreciate the implication...

Think about someone who you think is significantly more religious than you are. 

Don't you think they're at least a little crazy? 

The thing is that no matter where you are on the spectrum, this holds true!  (OK, yeah, I don't know who's to the right of some guy who's strapping a bomb to himself, with the intent of blowing his crazy ass up and taking as many people with as he can, but... well... You can't deny the man's FAITH now, can you? Misplaced though it may be, this man has FAITH on a level I cannot even comprehend. In that case? No one is more Religious and no one is more crazy!

Anyway, that was the gist of the original post.  And my final question was, since we can all acknowledge the increasing level of insanity that it brings, and with so many well-documented example of demonstrable and unnecessary harm, bloodshed and death being caused by EVERY religion under the Sun...

Why do we need it?  What good does it do that we couldn't accomplish without it?

Now a LOT of really good comments came out of that post.  Some agreed with me (Kevin Kelly, TomCat)some took issue with me to varying degrees. (JLarue) and that's all good.  That's why I DO this blog, in fact. I particularly liked poser Kimberly's statement that "going to church doesn't make me a Christian anymore than standing in my garage makes me a car."  I really liked that. LOL

But the most intriguing, and by far the most frustrating (LOL), comments came from poster Steeve.

In response to my request that, "I would really like for some moderate, liberal defender of religion to try and convince me of it's inherent goodness." He replied:
No can do, because a religion is not a social club or a set of rules. It is a truth proposition. I'll debate the truth of my religion with you all day long. If it's true, I don't really care how good it is. Reality is reality.
OK.  I can accept this.  After all, I don't believe in the Scientific Method because it's GOOD.  I believe it is, but that's not why it serves as such an important part of my life's philosophy.  I hold in such high esteem because it is the WAY that we determine what is TRUE. (Or... at least what should be accepted as FACT.) And as Steve says, "Reality is reality."

But is Religion "reality?"  Does it really satisfy any objective measure of the "truth"?  Maybe to Steeve.  And I'm willing to let him have that much.  But it being the truth from his point of view is no more profound than me saying it's NOT the truth from mine.  One of us will have to do better.  Now, in addition to Bob Carroll's 'What's the harm' section of Skepdic.com, I could refer to Joe Sommer's website (another member of my Hall of Fame) and his article "Why the Bible is Unreliable" which calls out logical contradictions, claims disproven by scientific evidence and moral position that not even the most hard-core fundamentalist would still consider to be 'moral.'  (And for the whackos that DO, I'll refer you back to Bob Caroll.)

So there: I've done better. And with all due respect to poster Steeve, and much is due, either a whole lot more is needed, or I'm forced to conclude that what you call "reality" is what I call "Shit you made up" or "Shit you happen to believe."  Unless there some objective truth or facts to support it, you are playing VERY hard and fast with the definition of the word "reality."  Granted, we do all live our own respective realities, but I only expect anyone else to see the one reality that we all share.  And that is NOT one described by religion - it is one that quantified and defined by Science.

He replies:

Do you actually need to be CONVERTED to simply accept that other people think that Christianity is reality? Your original question was along the lines of "given that religion is crap, how is it justified?" The correct answer is "Well, I don't think it's crap."
And I went on to reply that I didn't just say "religion was crap." I pointed out that it does DEMONSTRABLE, TANGIBLE HARM. Then, I asked if it did any GOOD. I also asked whether or not that same GOOD could be done without all the mental baggage: asking me to believe many things that have been proven false AND asking me to condemn things that I don't see as wrong.  I'm keen to let anyone believe anything they want provided that (1) it is not the answer to a question already answered by science (like... the earth is 4000 years old and dinosaurs and man lived side-by-side, for example) and (2) does not do harm.  And whether it's a dramatic as beating a child to death or merely denying two gays the right to marry or a rape victim the right to terminate the resulting pregnancy, there is no shortage of harm being done. 

You want to talk about souls, heaven, hell, the afterlife, God...? Fine.  I won't tell you you're wrong, because I can't proove you wrong.  But I have no reason to concede that you're RIGHT, because you can't proove it either.  If you want to believe it's "reality?"  Knock yourself out.  But that kind of "Reality" - the kind that each one of us has, and which is distinct for every person...? is hardly anything profound.  At that point, "reality" DOES simply mean, "Shit I made up, that I REALLY BELIEVE."

Now, while this all sound very hostile and confrontational, I want to reiterate that I RESPECT whatever beliefs of this kind any of you may hold.  HOW, you ask? Simple: If you don't expect me to live in your reality, I won't expect you to live in mine.  BUT... when something is PROVEN by Science, it's time to accept it.  And when HARM is being done to another, it time to STOP it.  That's all I'm saying.

A simple "Separation of Church and State" issue, really.

Now... Steve DID say that he accepts evolution, rather than Genesis as a literal story.  Fine. Good.  But it's just after that where he really loses me:

I do believe in the resurrection of Jesus, because that's where the real evidence in the real world points. Anyone who can show that the real evidence in the real world points somewhere else is welcome to, but as I started to show in my previous post, it's been nothing but decades of failure by all of the best minds in the business.
I will say to Steeve exactly what I have said to EVERYONE who's ever said something like this.  First of all: WHAT "real evidence in the real world?"  All you've got is a STORY written by someone trying to get you to WORSHIP them! (Or, OK, worship as they do.) It's still no more than a fanciful claim at that point!  There IS no "evidence." Just a claim, made in a book that's already been shown to have gotten it wrong MANY, MANY times!  Second: It is not up to me to prove that it DIDN'T happen.  YOU'RE the one making the positive claim.  You're the one who has the burden of proof.  I say it's impossible, and I've got every single atom of Science that has withstood public and peer scrutiny over the past 2000 years on my side.  I got the billions and billions of people who have died in the past 2000 years who DIDN'T come back from the dead to establish the null hypothesis. And there is no evidence to support the positive claim.  Null assumption? "X" didn't happen, unless you can show some evidence that it did.  And someone else merely making the claim and having a lot of people believing it is NOT "evidence."

And it was about this point that the famous meme from Steven F Roberts came up.  I paraphrased, but it goes like this:
"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
The way I said it was:

Many religions have resurrection stories, virgin or divine births, fulfilled prophecies, etc... I see no reason to reject some and accept others, just based on the number of people who believe them.
And this is a critical point.  Because that is really all that's being presented as "evidence." Lot's of people believe in the Bible.  Well... Lot's of people believe in the Koran.  But Steeve doesn't.  Lot's of people believe in the Tora.  But Steeve doesn't.  Lot's of people believed these claims when Siddartha Guatama made them.  But Steeve doesn't.  And lots of people believe in Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, etc... But Steve doesn't. 

So if Steeve expects me to accept the claims made by Christianity, after BOTH OF US have rejected them when they were made by everybody else... I'm going to need a damned good reason to accept it this time around.  If there's nothing NOVEL about what's being proposed and no more EVIDENCE to support it? Why on earth should I treat it any differently than I did the LAST time I came across the claim?

Now... I may have missed something at this point because he then says:

You should look into Christianity again, if you're so inclined, because you can't explain its origin. You still believe the grafted-on myth thing, which is historical and collapses on inspection. The definitive work on this is here.

I don't know who's telling you to believe Christianity because Bible stories are unique or because there are lots of believers, but they're wrong, and they're not me. They haven't posted on this thread. Yet you're arguing with them.
 
OK... so to be fair, maybe I was misrepresenting Steeve's position or what he was saying of putting words in his mouth.  OK. I can accept that.  But... at no point was I offered any OTHER reason to believe what was being claimed.  Maybe it ended up being a strawman, but I don't see where else I was supposed to go with this.  And I don't think my points were being addressed either. 
 
He DID offer me a link to a work that he recommended.  But I didn't end up buying the book, which he describes thusly:
 
That link should have been more about what the atheistic community needs to argue with, not what you need to argue with. It would be a prohibitive time investment, and I don't have the slightest idea if the book would be of any value to you.


It's sort of a compendium of everything that's historically knowable about what the earliest Christians thought about the resurrection. He draws on essentially everything available that's relevant to that topic, although that topic is so narrow that 2/3 of what's relevant is the bible. The argument is of the form "what could have caused this belief to emerge in the way that it did".
At this point, I forced to conclude that we ARE in fact missing each other's points.

I don't CARE what "the earliest christian thought about the resurrection."  Especially if 2/3 of the work references the Bible.  The BIBLE is what's under scrutiny here.  So it can't be used as evidence to support its own claims.  Whether they believed it the way it's described today, or slightly differently, is irrelevant.  That will not answer the question, "DID IT ACTUALLY HAPPEN?"

And it does not answer the question of why I should accept THIS CLAIM on the basis of no more than a BOOK, when it's been made before and I've rejected it on the basis that I had no more evidence that (1) The Claim, in (2) a Book that (3) a lot of people believe.

Steeve...

This may not be what you offering me as a "Reason to believe" and it may not be YOURS, but I've just gone back and read the comments, and you don't offer me anything else!

I'll say it again: If you get something good out of believe in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, than fine.  I'll let you have it.  In fact, I'll fight, kill and die for your right to.  I will still hold that:

1) There is not inherent good done by Religion that could not be accomplished with all the mental baggage.  (Believe in Genesis, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Miracles, etc...)

2) There are no necessary rules of morality that are part of Religion that are not part of a Secular Humanist philosophy.

3) Science is contradicted and harm is being done.  This is a FACT, and even you - who I truly do respect, and who's input on these matter I truly value - have done nothing to tell me why I shouldn't let this PISS ME THE FUCK OFF!

and 4) The Steven Roberts quote:

When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

In particular, I don't see where you even tried to address this, let alone "thoroughly destroyed" it (in our "little religious war" as you claimed.  But I'd love to see you try.  And I wouldn't ask if I wasn't truly interested.

So HIT ME (or Misters Carroll, Sommers and Roberts) with your best shot!

14 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more, expecially with your four points about why religion is either not beneficial, or effectively neutral, to society.

    I will never understand why anyone with a modicum of intellect will try to defend the claims of the Bible (which, as you said, is demonstrably contradictory left and right) with THINGS THE BIBLE HAS SAID. I honestly can't even continue arguing with such people most of the time because you cannot reason your way out of an argument that is based on something without reason.

    Anyway, great post! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. MM,

    I written and deleted my response to your comment three times now. Each time it didn't quite sound right, but here goes...

    It's one thing when you've got a Right Wing Religious nut. Those cats are pretty easy to put in context. I disagree with almost EVERYTHING they say and think, so I can just dismiss them as MORONS. And if there's any doubt, all you need to do is make them defend their beliefs. They don't even really seem to UNDERSTAND the documents (the Constitution, the Bible, etc...) let alone have a clue about WHY they even believe in them.

    But the people that really fascinate and frustrate me are the Religious LEFT. People like posters Steeve, Jlarue and a couple of others. How can someone who sees eye to eye with me on so many things - almost everything, in fact - differ so sharply on something as fundamental to HOW I think as Religion?

    Obviously I can't just say, "Morons." (And I don't intend to.) After all, they usually agree with me on things, so that might imply that I'm a moron as well! (And putting aside that I'm NOT suggesting this about them, I'm certainly not going to suggest it about myself. LOL)

    And while I with you as far as Religion in general goes, I have to admit that I have often fallen into the trap of putting ALL Religious folks into the same category. It's not really my fault - since 1992 we've been hearing how Jesus would vote Republican, and how Liberals are all godless hethens who are going to hell. So the Right has spent an awful lot of time, money and effort trying to make me see Religion as something the Radical Right has an unquestioned monopoly on.

    I know better now.

    My posters on the Religious LEFT have made me see THAT much. It doesn't do a lick for my faith in GOD, but it goes a bit towards restoring my faith in HUMMANITY.

    Because the biggest difference is that the Religious LEFT keeps religion as a PERSONAL guiding force in THEIR OWN lives. Whereas the Religious RIGHT wants to force their Religion into EVERYONE ELSE'S lives. IOW: This Country's loudest Christians are acting just like the Islamists they rail against so enthusiastically, just with a different 'rubber stamp' on their butts.

    Ironic, huh?

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's funny is that they don't even recognize that fact even when boldly and bluntly presented with it! They cannot see themselves from another point of view.

    While I agree with you that not all religious folk should be lumped into the category of "moronic", I am equally baffled that someone can have politically "left" (or even more central/moderate) views and still take religion seriously. As you said, if it's used more as a personal guiding philosophy that aids them in some way, then sure, go for it. But the vast majority of religious people would just as soon impose their belief system on everyone while crying discrimination if the same were done to them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You can't explain the origin of Christianity. You can't explain the origin of Christianity. You can't explain the origin of Christianity. Is that plain enough?

    The standard theory (which you parrot) is that the apostles' non-miraculous stories about Jesus spiraled out of control into resurrection nonsense. That's trivially untrue because the apostles were still in control in the late 40s, when the resurrection story was firmly in place.

    The challenge was "state something true of Christianity that's true of no other religion". The answer is "Christianity is the only religion that embarrasses people who try to explain it". No other religion forces the best minds in the world to put forth drastically false explanations without even realizing it.

    Note that this has nothing to do with the reliability or trustworthiness of the bible. Note that this, at the moment, has nothing to do with offering you evidence for the resurrection.

    Nothing I said here is new. It was all in the earlier thread. But when it comes to religion, you are simply unable to read English. Until you learn how, you shouldn't opine on it ever again.

    There's lots more to say, but there's no point until you learn English. I won't go any further until you say one of two things:

    "Wow, it's weird that the top scholars are so transparently wrong"

    or

    "The standard theory of Christianity's origin holds together just fine, and here's why"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Steeve,

    No can do. Not at all. Am I'm still not buying it.

    "You can't explain the origin of Christianity."

    Why is this important? I'm not TRYING to. I don't really see you trying to either, but I fail to see why it's relevant. Because I claim that they're just saying the same old stuff that's already been rejected? Even so, whether of not I can 'explain the origin' doesn't matter. The fact that we CAN'T supports what I'm saying: That unless we CAN, we should reject it for the same reasons we rejected the same claims before.

    [PP] "The theory that the apostles' stories spiraled out of control into resurrection nonsense is trivially untrue because they were still in control in the 40s when the resurrection story was firmly in place."

    First of all, what do you mean "The 40's"? The 1940's? 40 AD? The New Testament was mostly pulled together in the form we see it in today around 300 AD, in what I see as an effort by the Roman Emperor to become the first politician to use Christianity to control the populace. And the arguments I use now, I would have employed then only without being armed with the ensuing 1700 years of scientific discovery to back them up.

    "The challenge was "state something true of Christianity that's true of no other religion". The answer is "Christianity is the only religion that embarrasses people who try to explain it.""

    I'm not sure how you conclude this, let alone why it's relevant. Most people would be pretty embarassed trying to explain their belief in Zeus. The only reason this is the case with Chistians is that you are narrowing my challenge to RELIGION down to JUST Christainity. OK, maybe I did that. But again it's not becuase I only doubt Christianity. It's just that Chritstianity is what I KNOW and was RAISED IN. So I'm freer to criticise it without risking an accusation of biggotry.

    "No other religion forces the best minds in the world to put forth false explanations without even realizing it."

    Again - not sure what your getting at. I'm sure "Muslim Scholars" would in fact do the same thing. What's more, it seems to prove MY POINT, if I'm reading it correctly. Or more cynically: it seems that you're defending Christianity by saying it does a better job of fooling people. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that's hardly what I'd expect from a defender of FAITH.

    (cont's)

    ReplyDelete
  6. (con't)

    "Note that this has nothing to do with the reliability or trustworthiness of the bible. Note that this, at the moment, has nothing to do with offering you evidence for the resurrection."

    So why are you bringing it up? The only "evidence" comes from the Bible. So if you can't speak to it's reliability and you can't offer any other evidence, you haven't addressed my question, or given me any reason to change my thinking.

    "I won't go any further until you say one of two things"

    I really DO want you to go on, but I'm not saying either of those things.

    What EXACTLY is WRONG with this "Standard Theory?" Just it's mere EXISTANCE? You say "You can't explain the origin of Christianity." But... Why not? If you say the theory is nonsense, I'd like a better explanation as to WHY you say that.

    The Gospels were not written down as the events were happeneing. Some (Phillip, Thomas, Mary Magdeline) were EXCLUDED. Why? Church Politics I'd surmise. The Bible was cobbled together from Scrolls that were of UNKNOWN, UNVERIFYIABLE origin that contained CONTRADICTORY depictions of the same events. The Bishops in Rome met and banged together the NT in much the same way as our Congress cobbled together health care reform: Debate, Compromise and Democracy.

    Why do you insist that the "standard theory" of the origin MUST be "wrong" "untrue" "invalid" etc...? AND, What does that have to do with my challenge?

    You still give me no reason to believe the claims of Christianty when I have rejected the claims of others.

    Even if I grant that the Apostles were journalists writing down everything as it happened, why should I trust their accounts and not other's (such as Muhammed) who I could presumably grant were doing the same?

    You are not giving me any reasons to change my position. I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to refute, because I don't see how what you're saying is relevant to the argument.

    I'm sorry you're not getting though, but I would like you to keep at it. Who knows? Maybe some your wisdom will eventually penetrate my thick skull.

    If anyone else would like to try and explain to me what I'm obviously missing here, please feel free.

    Thanks for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "You are not giving me any reasons to change my position" -- at the rate you're going, that's twenty posts down the road.

    I'm not talking about religious people explaining their own religion. I'm talking about secular scholars explaining the world's religions. Religions with trivial explanations, like Thor, deserve no attention. Religions with nontrivial explanations deserve closer inspection.

    By AD 50, the resurrection belief was in place. That's not my opinion, that's historical fact agreed to by most non-Christians who studied this stuff. In AD 50, the apostles were still in control of the movement. That's not my opinion, that's historical fact agreed to by most non-Christians who studied this stuff.

    But the same non-Christians (and you) say that the resurrection story spun out of control from the apostles' original unmiraculous stories. That's blatantly, trivially contradictory from the previous paragraph. If you can't see the contradiction in these two paragraphs, then you can't blog. I can't make it more plain.

    Right this moment, you are holding a nonsensical opinion about the origin of Christianity. Doesn't that bother you at all? Can't you even see it? Don't you want to correct it?

    If you recognize your own nonsense but don't care, then you're basically agreeing to stop having an opinion on the subject. Then if later someone like me comes along and tells you that Christianity has a very special origin, you're forced to walk away from that without thinking them illogical.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, OK, NOW I think I see where we're differing, here.

    See... I'm NOT actually suggesting that the resurrection story NECISSARILY "spun out of control" as you say. That's not the only possible explanation, nor is it the only reason to doubt the story.

    Here's a far more blunt explanation: They were lying. They investend a cover story, to make it seem as though the prophecy was fullfilled, when it wasn't. They took up the leadership of what was a small but dedicated cult following and ran with it.

    Here's another: They were decieved or deluded. What they thought they saw - a dead body - was in fact not. Three days later? He's stil alive, and just strong enough to make one more public appearance before "ascending into heaven." (Or, as the secular man might say it: DYING.)

    And Hey - before you roll your eyes - rememebr: This was ~2000 years ago... An it still happens today! Check this out: http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/107668/dead_baby_revived_from_coffin

    Different circumstance, but it still demonstrates my point. We don't always KNOW exactly what we're seeing. They didn't have EKG's back then, and even today we canstill be mistaken!

    And in any case, regardless of whether on not the men believed it, and whether of not other people believed it, is irrelevant. The only evidence you have to support the claim is STILL just the claim itself. (And that a few other people believed it.) That's not evidence. And it was hardly a universal belief until the Roman Empire decided to convert. Only THEN was it a belief that started to grip the entire world.

    So when you say, "Religions with trivial explanations, like Thor, deserve no attention" try explaining to me - in a way that doesn't require my pre-existing belief - why Christainity is some how MORE than equally trivial. You say "reseurrection" and I STILL say that "I've heard it before."

    Tell me why GOD is different from THOR. What is trivial about Thor that cannot be said about GOD? What is special about GOD that could not be said of Thor, with equal validity?

    And for that matter, tell me why I should accept Christainity but reject Isalam, Judaism, Hinduism or Buddism. Some of these faiths have a Billion followers. Surely you don't expect me to dismiss these as "trivial" without some more concrete evidence that you're right? There are just as many "scholars" of Islam as there are of Christianty. Why should I dismiss their evidence, but accpet yours?

    I'm afraid you created a strawman. Unintentionally perhaps, but you still offer no more evidence for the claim than the claim itself. And I still defy you to tell me why GOD and NOT Thor. (Or for that matter Loki, Odin, Frey, Zeus, Posiedon, Apollo, Hades, Athena, Amon-Ra, Anubis, Osirus, Pthah, Bastette, Ishtar, Zoroaster, Shiva, Kali, Ganesha, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

    You say "Christianity has a sepcial origin?"

    By all means: ENLIGHTEN ME. Just try to do so in way that a scientific mind can BUY without prior belief being required.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now we're getting somewhere, and I'm sorry if it's my fault.

    "They were lying." -- if that is your opinion, then you are disagreeing with most secular scholars. Why don't most secular scholars agree with you?

    "They were deceived or deluded." -- if that is your opinion, you are disagreeing with most secular scholars. Most secular scholars say that the original Jesus stories were non-miraculous. Then they became miraculous in transmission.

    So all the alternatives you can think of have already been rejected by the top non-Christian historians in the field. I can tell you why they were rejected, but since non-Christians can too I can leave it to them.

    "There are just as many 'scholars' of Islam" -- again, I'm not talking about believers. There aren't any top secular historians of Islam whose account of Mohammed's life and the rise of his beliefs embarrasses itself with blatant contradictions.

    "The only evidence you have to support the claim is STILL just the claim itself." -- I'm not supporting the claim at all. I'm attacking the following claim: "When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours". That's all I'm doing so far.

    I dismiss all the other religions because they have perfectly natural, secular, non-contradictory explanations. I don't dismiss Christianity because it doesn't have a perfectly natural, secular, non-contradictory explanation. It might still be totally false. We can explore that. But false or true, it's different from other religions, and I need to hear you admit that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Steeve,

    I'm afraid I can only admit that once it's sufficiently demonstrated to me that it IS in fact different. I will admit this: I give you full credit for examining this far more than most believers have bothered to. And yes, far more than I have done. I really respect that, and that's why I'm so interested in what you have to say on the matter. Maybe I WILL check that book you recommended back in March after all.

    HOWEVER... Whether or not I agree with the secular scholars is really irrelevant. You reject the hypothesis they offer. And you may be perfectly right to do so. So I offered two others. That the secular scholars haven't accepted them? Who cares? You just said that they had it wrong anyway. So they could have wrongly rejected mine, just as they may have wrongly rejected yours - that the story is TRUE.

    In the end, you are still asking me to accept what I know to be impossible, based the accounts of four people (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) each of which contain conflicting information. How modern secular scholars explain it away (or fail to) doesn't change the fact that if four guys come to me saying that they just witnessed something unbelievable, and then in telling the story they can't seem to agree on what time of day it was, who was driving or where they stopped for lunch, I'm a LOT less inclined to believe the more amazing part of the story!

    For an example of what I'm talking about, go to:

    http://www.humanismbyjoe.com/some_reasons_why_humanists_reject_the_bible.htm

    and scroll down to the "Examples of New Testament contradictions" and read that section.

    THAT's the kind of thing that makes me question the veracity. You may say I'm nitpicking but again: If 4 guys told that they saw a Chupacabra, would you believe them if they offered four contradictory descriptions of the event?

    I'm not concerned with what scholars may or may not have rejected. And I certainly don't claim to have a scholarly level of knowledge on the subject myself. You clearly have a broader base of information to draw from than I do. It still just sets off my bullshit detector. Sorry, can't help it. Those secular scholars that disagree with me can't PROVE me wrong. I don't have to accept their explanation anymore than you do.

    I offered a reasonable explanation for the origin of the claim. I can't PROOVE it, but I'm hardly going out on a limb at least compared with the claim that "a man rose from the dead and ascended into heaver." Not to mention everything else. My explanation is the more likely one.

    The Bible is as contradictory as the claims you cite from those secular scholars. So I'll be happy to view BOTH with the same skepticism. It doesn't have to be one or the other. I don't have to accept either, and I don't have to know what DID happen to feel pretty comfortable in my opinion of what DIDN'T.

    I'm not trying to change your mind, and at this point you aren't going to change mine. Maybe I'll have to read into farther as you have obviously done.

    Thanks for continuing this with me though. You've given me something to think about in any case and I always appreciate THAT!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your whole post is about the truth of the resurrection. I haven't even started on that. I'm only demonstrating that a difference exists between Christianity and all the other religions.

    "I can only admit that once it's sufficiently demonstrated to me that it IS in fact different." -- in the rest of your post, you say "who cares" to the difference. I think you're substituting the word "true" for "different", and that no force on earth can make you stop.

    "Maybe I'll have to read into farther" -- let's use that as the difference. You would not say that to a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Buddhist.

    "Maybe I WILL check that book you recommended back in March after all" -- since it's exhaustive, it'll probably be exhausting to a non-believer. Most of the good stuff is in the back. If you want to fight over my attempted summary of its arguments, I think a new thread or an email chain would be the place to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Steeve,
    The difficulty here is that all I see that you offer to show me that Christianity is "different" is that there is conflict about its origins. Personally I just don't see that as anything profound. What's more, even if it WERE different (unique) in THAT WAY, that doesn't mean I accept it as true. It can be DIFFERENT and yet I can still reject it's claim to the divine for the SAME REASON: No evidence, it contradicts established science, and the fact that so many of the CLAIMS THEMSELVES are the same.

    I stand by the original point, that I reject it as I (and you) have rejected all the others, because I don't see confusion or conflict about its origins as being all that important. If the claims being made were TRUE? Yeah, that would sure be DIFFERENT all right! But when you say "No other religions has these conflicting accounts explaining its origin," I'll simply ask, "How the hell do YOU know?" Unless you've studied every other religion as exhaustively as you've studied this one, you simply can't make that statement. And if you're basing the statement on that one book, as exhaustive as it may have been, I'll point out that the author appears to have been TRYING TO MAKE THAT VERY CASE. So no one is getting a fair hearing there. Neither the author, nor the scholars he refutes. And while I can't refute or accept it myself, not having read it, or studied the topic as extensively, I'll point out that none of those "secular scholars" are hear to defend themselves against potential misrepresentation either. So we really can't know if the claims he makes are valid or not.

    Finally, as far as: ["Maybe I'll have to read into farther" -- let's use that as the difference. You would not say that to a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Buddhist.] Well... I MIGHT, if I were in as involved a discussion with them at some point as I am currently in with you. But the fact that you've made some interesting points, or for that matter that I myself may or may not have investigated something is irrelevant to either of our central points.

    And if you want to stick to it merely being DIFFERENT? (Leaving the Truth of the claims aside for now?) Fine - then how about this: I also don't accept the veracity of the that statement you make - That no other religion has these conflicting stories about its origin - to demonstrate its difference. I don't see how you're even in a position to MAKE the claim, let alone why that claim, were it true, should make a difference as to MY central point of why I reject the claims being made in general.

    I don't know if, at this point, you feel as though we're talking in circles, but eitehr way, if you'd like to continue the discussion, I would like to do so HERE only because I do think it's important and some others may have something to add to one side or the other.

    But its you're call though. Either way, I'm glad to be talking about it like this. So thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I don't see how you're even in a position to MAKE the claim, let alone why that claim, were it true, should make a difference as to MY central point of why I reject the claims being made in general"

    Your central point is that religions aren't different. You had other points, but that one was repeated again and again. You're actually saying to me that you can't see how my claim of religions being different has anything to do with your claim that they're not different.

    I can make the claim because the other religions, as you well know, fall into buckets that make natural explanations easy and non-contradictory:

    1) religions started by one guy that could easily be lying/crazy (before you say that that applies to Christianity, ask yourself why non-Christians more informed than you don't say that)
    2) religions whose documentation is so far removed from the source that the gradual myth theory doesn't break
    3) general nonsense that doesn't even try to assert anything real

    And nothing I've been saying is related to the book I've mentioned. I would like to get into that. It'll take me maybe two days to get a good start on it. Does "HERE" refer to a new thread on this blog, or this thread (I'm worried that a continuation might be another six days and 15 posts deep)?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tell you what... If you's liket to write it up as a full-blown, brand-new post and email it to me, I'll gladly post it (duely credited to YOU, of course, with links back to your blog or site, if you have one) as a new article. I'll then leave my input in the comments section, and other people can jump in as well, if they want.

    Give the whole subject a "bump" so to speak.

    Either way, let me know. I'm interested enough i n this, and I think others would be, to keep it alive as a fresh topic.

    ReplyDelete