FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 03-20-2001, 06:00 PM   #61
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Do you concede the point that the statute of limitations is not "totally" arbitrary?
</font>
Why should I concede it? The selection of the duration IS arbitrary, and is related to the social view of the crime in question. Britannica:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
criminal law

Statutes of limitation

All systems of law have statutes restricting the time within which legal proceedings may be brought. The periods prescribed may vary according to the seriousness of the offense. In German law, for example, the periods range from six months for breaches of administrative regulations to 30 years for crimes involving a life sentence. General statutes limiting the times within which prosecutions for crimes must be begun are common in continental Europe and the United States. In England there is no general statute of limitation applicable to criminal actions, although statutes for specific crimes frequently have included time limits.

In many countries there are no statutes of limitation for particularly heinous offenses, including capital felonies in the United States and genocide and murder in Germany. In 1968 the UN General Assembly adopted a Convention on the Non-applicability of Statutes of Limitation on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, despite strong opposition among the majority of Western members on the ground that it was retroactive.
</font>
So each society sets a different limit, based upon their view of the act.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
And why should your comparison be limited only to murder?
</font>
It does not have to be murder. Go back to my original point:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
One more item, Polycarp - by your definition, we cannot use the scientific method on unique events in history (by the fact that they are unique and don't repeat).
So how do murders get solved in courtrooms around America today? There are scores of murders for which no eyewitness was present (except the victim, who is dead and the murderer, who isn't talking).

Those murders are both unique as well as lacking in direct observational evidence of the event.

Is it really your contention that all the investigative and forensic work that goes into solving murders is non-scientific? That it yields no factual data?

This is why your understanding of the scientific method is flawed. The repeatability you are stuck on is the repeatability of the experimental data - not the repeatability of the historical event itself.

</font>

I could have used arson, or some other crime here. The POINT, if you please, is that Polycarp is flatly incorrect. We most certainly can use the scientific method on unique events in history.


However, that is the example that I did in fact use, and the one in which you did in fact erroneously invoke statute of limitations. Which, of course, does not apply to murder.

In the case of murder, if all forensic evidence routinely deteriorated to the point of being useless, then it would be impossible to convict on murder. In which case, the unlimited statute of limitations would make no sense (since the rationale for that unlimited time period is the heinousness of murder as a crime).

 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:02 PM   #62
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
You are going to have to explain that one to me. If the purpose, or usefulness, of the forensic process is to provide us with dependable information, and its ability to provide us with that information decreases over time, then how is its usefulness not decreased over time? The usefulness remains constant even though it gives us less and less information?
</font>
Forensic evidence, when compared to other kinds of evidence (testimonial, hearsay, inferential, indirect, etc.) is probably the most valuable type of evidence we have - precisely because it is derived from the scientific method. It is testable. It does not depend upon point of view or personality. The results are repeatable in your lab, or in mine, or in anyone else's lab. So all other things being equal, forensic evidence is the strongest kind of evidence that there is. And, because of that, its usefulness and desirability is very high. Its usefulness does not decrease over time. The ability to extract that useful information may decrease, but the inherent usefulness of forensic evidence is still very high.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
What makes you think I am uncomfortable with our degree of "forensic" evidence?
</font>
The fact that you are trying to fill in the gaps and paper over the unknown areas.
The fact that "unknown" or "insufficient evidence" are not acceptable answers for you.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Perhaps you could be more specific? You seem to claim that if we had all of the forensic regarding the New Testament, that we could reconstruct it like we could reconstruct the 2000 presidential election. What forensic evidence would prove Jesus taught in parables about the coming kingdom? Some as yet unknown primitive recording device? And what forensic evidence would prove that Jesus walked on water? Wet sandals?
</font>
Hmmm. Perhaps I was wrong, then. You may have a point. I agree with you: it is impossible to know what Jesus did, or did not, teach about with any degree of certainty.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
"No, you don't. Not unless you have an a priori agenda to support some viewpoint. Most historians are unhappy about the lack of evidence for certain periods, but they are also comfortable working INSIDE THE BOUNDARIES PRESENTED BY THE AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE at hand."

They are also comfortable with the criteria that Polycarp described above.
</font>
Except that historians do not take the liberties that you and Polycarp do, with regards to the secondary and tertiary details. Which is another way of saying that the conclusions you have drawn and the strength to which you adhere to them are inappropriate for the tools in question.

For example: have I heard non-religious historians claim that Jesus lived? You bet, several times in several different books and classes. Have I heard historians go on to further claim that Christ was crucified, buried, and physically resurrected? No, I have not - unless they were christian historians.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
It all works together.
</font>
If it "worked together," you would not have the majority of christian scholars (or, at least a sizable chunk of them) rejecting the miraculous events, up to and including the resurrection.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
"I'm fully aware of it. What I am objecting to here is your attempt to say that the murder analogy was not parallel because forensic evidence can be lost or misplaced. Well, so can murder evidence. And of course, when I am discussing historical events, I am obviously talking about evidence which HAS NOT been lost or misplaced."

Are you implying that we have evidence that New Testament scholars are ignoring?
</font>
No, I am implying that you tried to rebut my original point by stating a tautology.

You complained that we are limited by forensic evidence because such evidence can be lost or misplaced. Well you know what? ANY kind of evidence can be lost, misplaced, or erased - so what. We deal with that and build our conclusions using whatever evidence is left over. Your complaint is just a re-statement of the obvious.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
All in all, you seem to be arguing that the only thing we can be confident about in history is that which is confirmed by forensic evidence.
</font>
You seemed resolutely dismissive of the commonly accepted criteria that New Testament scholars, from atheists and liberals to Christians and conservatives, use to sort through our New Testament data.


You're lying again. I'll repeat my position for you:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I've read text. crit. work with regards to attempted reconstruction of original Norse sagas, and extracting the later christianizations.

However, when we study other historical documents, the approach is different. When we encounter an area that is "murky", we simply shrug our shoulders and say that there is insufficient evidence either way. We put the issue on a shelf, and we don't let it bother us. Time goes by, and perhaps new evidence or new methodology comes to light which can resolve the accuracy of the passage.

But with christianity, the perfectly reasonable answer that a given point may be unknown, or even permanently unknow-able, is generally unacceptable to theists.

In addition, we routinely reject tales of miracles and magic in other historical texts, no matter how solid the textual criticism or the archaeological evidence is. Yet for some reason, theists want that approach suspended for their particular holy book.

But historical conclusions that have no support in the scientific method, or are contradicted by the data gathered via the scientific method - those conclusions are either tentative (in the former case) or wrong (in the latter case).

There is also the issue of scope. The kinds of secondary investigative pathways that you describe can only produce, by their very nature, relatively guarded and tentative conclusions. The reason that we have to resort to those methods in the first place is because the primary way, the preferred way to discover the facts is not available to us. So the strong, declaratory statements about "evidence" and "proof" that come from secondary methods are inappropriate.

</font>
It is the difference between saying, "Christ went to Jerusalem for Passover" and saying "Most of the evidence suggests Christ went to Jerusalem for Passover".

A proper student of texts (ancient or otherwise) understands that the tools for such study are, by definition, not going to lead to the types of strong affirmative statements that are bandied around by theists in support of their faith, or in support of the claims of the bible.




[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 20, 2001).]
 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:06 PM   #63
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Many scholars, such as E.P. Sanders, add to their historical inquiry the assumption that miracles are impossible. Others, such as John P. Meier, do not a priori preclude the possibility of miracles. You seem to agree with E.P. Sanders. But, even so, E.P. Sanders places much faith in the criteria Polycarp discussed. He's not afraid to take examine the evidence in light of these criteria, and when he gets to a miracle, he basically says that the people around Jesus believed he could do miracles.
</font>
Evidently he also understands that no amount of textual criticism can trump the scientific method, when it comes to the question of whether miracles exist or occurred. That's a lesson you would do well to learn.

And, if this fellow is a rational as it appears, he is probably substantially more guarded about his conclusions than Polyfish, who has already assigned probabilities of 90% or more to his three little tests.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Too many skeptics will argue tooth and nail that the miracle stories MUST be inventions of the gospel authors, rather than derived from earlier (although perhaps erroneous) sources.
</font>
That's nice. Oh, but wait, remind me - why should I care? Oh, that's right - here's where you present me with someone else's view and ask me to defend it.

(rest of your strawman deleted).


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
And as much as you indict us Christians for arguing our faith, rather than the evidence. The reality is that too many skeptics ignore the evidence, because it tends to lend some support to the Christian.
</font>
No, the reality is quite the opposite.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I've read a wide spectrum of New Testament scholars, including the anti-miracle E.P. Sanders and Graham Stanton. Sanders is actually one of my favorite New Testament authors. I also have been greatly influenced by J.P. Meier's A Marginal Jew, where he defines and employs these criteria in the best way I have ever seen. But most skeptics don't read the likes of E.P. Sanders, who agrees with their presumption that miracles are impossible.
</font>
That's nice. I tend to spend my time reading things that can be tested through the scientific method, such as ANE archaeology and natural history.



[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 20, 2001).]
 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:07 PM   #64
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

The fact that different societies have different rules regarding statutes of limitatins does not render the concept arbitrary. There is a rationale behind it. And that rationale takes into account a variety of factors, one of which is deteriation of evidence.

As I demonstrated, California has decided to have a four year statute of limitations for written contracts and a two year statute of limitations for oral contracts. Is this distinction arbitrary? No, it is founded upon reason. One such reason is the difficulty in proving, determining, or defening a claim founded upon oral contract is greater as time passes.

So it is far from arbitrary, it is a reasoned distinction.
 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:14 PM   #65
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The fact that different societies have different rules regarding statutes of limitatins does not render the concept arbitrary.
</font>
Pay attention, Layman. You are doing it again: confusing my position.

Go back to my original post. I did not say the concept was arbitrary. I said the timeframe was arbitrary.

The statute of limitations could be 10 years. 20 years. 7 1/2 years. It varies by jurisdiction, by country, and sometimes even by city. Yet the crime is the same.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
There is a rationale behind it. And that rationale takes into account a variety of factors, one of which is deteriation of evidence.

As I demonstrated, California has decided to have a four year statute of limitations for written contracts and a two year statute of limitations for oral contracts. Is this distinction arbitrary?
</font>
Yep, it is. Because you can go to another state and find different time frames for the same legal situations.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
No, it is founded upon reason. One such reason is the difficulty in proving, determining, or defening a claim founded upon oral contract is greater as time passes.
</font>

If deterioration of evidence were the reason for the timeframe, then the statute of limitations for arson (or whatever) would be the same everywhere. Why? Because evidence doesn't deteriorate at different rates, just because you're in Pennsylvania vs. being in Ohio or California.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
So it is far from arbitrary, it is a reasoned distinction.
</font>

You've missed the point again. The concept of a statute of limitations, per se,is not arbitrary. The particular assigned timeframes, however, are.

[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 20, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 20, 2001).]
 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:47 PM   #66
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

"Evidently he [E.P. Sanders] also understands that no amount of textual criticism can trump the scientific method, when it comes to the question of whether miracles exist or occurred. That's a lesson you would do well to learn."

Perhaps if you knew who he was you could offer an informed opinion.

No one has asserted that textual criticism has trumped the scientific method. You seem to be setting the two disciplines up as enemies. And you have also ignored the fact that we are not talking just about textual criticism, we are discussing a combination of disciplines, including textual criticism, literary criticism, source criticism, and archeology. So please be clear about which conclusions the scientific method has given us that contradicts the conclusion that textual criticism has given us. Or that all of the other disciplines have given us.

"And, if this fellow is a rational as it appears, he is probably substantially more guarded about his conclusions than Polyfish, who has already assigned probabilities of 90% or more to his three little tests."

Again, your complete ignorance of this field undermines your attempts to effectively comment on it. Perhaps if you read something by one of these scholars you talk about, we could take you more seriously. E.P. Sanders is known for having a rather high degree of confidence in our ability to conduct a historical evaluation of the New Testament documents and events. And these conclusions rest on more than just the "three little tests" that Polycarp laid out A fact I'm sure he agrees with.

The rest of your arguments are abstract arguments that we cannot know anything about history "with any degree of certainty" unless it is proven by the scientific method. These argument, in an of themselves are not conclusions derived from the scientific method, but you seem to hold them up as just as infallible as you consider the scientific method to be.

This attitude is what I meant by "historical armageddon." You emphatically denied it, but it is an apt description. And, it is the route of the uninformed coward. You refuse to engage in a discussion of the evidence. You refuse to even put forth your theory of events. When asked repeatedly which experts, if any, that you have read on these issues you simply neglect to cut and paste the question and ignore it. The most obvious conclusion is that you haven't read much of anything by anybody.

When you have ventured out of your walled fortress you displayed your ignorance. You accused me of lying about the Josephus' miracle account, even though I have given you at least 10 leading New Testament scholars that supported my view. When I started providing the precise cites, you were forced to refer to an online encyclopedia that didn't even support your position. You then made a lame claim about the Arabic version of Josephus, and when I asked for sources, you gave me a link that didn't support your contention. When I followed up and asked you to provide me with some scholars that supported your view, you failed to do so. In short, you have shown your incompetence when it comes to showing what the evidence does say.

There is a wealth of information to be sorted through. Reasonable conclusions to be drawn. Confident conclusions to be drawn. But to do so you need to be informed. Perhaps even read a book by a New Testament scholar.
 
Old 03-20-2001, 06:53 PM   #67
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

"You've missed the point again. The concept of a statute of limitations, per se,is not arbitrary. The particular assigned timeframes, however, are."

You must have your own special definition of arbitrary. If they were arbitrary, they would all be the same. But they are not. I could do a comprehensive state by state analysis, but I can assure you that ALL states have different statutes of limitations for different offenses. And they do so for a combination of reasons. One of which is the concern over evidence depreciation. Thus the distinction between the two and four year statute of limitations for oral and written contract disputes. How is that distinction arbitrary? The time frame is LONGER because of the recognized difficulties and evidentiary concerns in adjudicating an oral contract as opposed to a written one.

No, it is not based on the half life of uranium, but it is based on reason.
 
Old 03-20-2001, 07:03 PM   #68
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
No one has asserted that textual criticism has trumped the scientific method.
</font>
What utter nonsense.

Anyone who claims the resurrection occurred is doing exactly that.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The rest of your arguments are abstract arguments that we cannot know anything about history "with any degree of certainty" unless it is proven by the scientific method. These argument, in an of themselves are not conclusions derived from the scientific method, but you seem to hold them up as just as infallible as you consider the scientific method to be.
</font>
Wrong on all counts.

1. My arguments are not abstract; they are concrete and clear, with very explicit boundaries.

2. Your second claim is nonsense. It is patently obvious that any argument that says
"certainty of fact is only possible with the sicentific method" is an argument supported by the selfsame scientific method.

3. I also, in my arguments, exercise a degree of caution and guardedness that is not only appropriate, but could also serve as a model for you. I avoid making statements that XYZ did not happen (or that it did). I take the middle position that it is not known. You find this offensive because I will not agree with you that such-and-such occurred. The evidence in your favor simply isn't that airtight. The degree of certainty you aspire to simply requires more evidence than you have to offer. That is your problem; not mine.


It's quite apparent that you are just a more polished version of Josh McDowell - better grammar, but not better arguments.


 
Old 03-20-2001, 07:08 PM   #69
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
"You've missed the point again. The concept of a statute of limitations, per se,is not arbitrary. The particular assigned timeframes, however, are."

You must have your own special definition of arbitrary. If they were arbitrary, they would all be the same.
</font>
Huh? And in what dictionary does "arbitary" mean that things are the same?

If they were based solely on a desire to avoid deterioration of evidence, THEN they would all be the same. Since evidence deteriorates at the same rate.

However, statute of limitations is also based upon a desire to avoid clogging the court system with old claims, thus grinding the courts to a halt. And, also upon the legal principle that a claimant has to take an aggressive stance in standing up for his/her rights. If they have not filed within a certain time frame (or if the crime has not been discovered within a given time frame) it is deemed that the matter was too trivial to bother with.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
But they are not. I could do a comprehensive state by state analysis, but I can assure you that ALL states have different statutes of limitations for different offenses.
</font>

Thus demonstrating the arbitrariness of the timeframe. Here; let me help you again. Britannica:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
limitations, statute of

legislative act restricting the time within which legal proceedings may be brought, usually to a fixed period after the occurrence of the events that gave rise to the cause of action. Such statutes are enacted to protect persons against claims made after evidence has been lost, memories have faded, or witnesses have disappeared.

Statutes of limitations appeared early in Roman law and form the basis of the limitations provided in the codes of civil-law countries. In England limitations on actions to recover landed property were not instituted until the 16th century and those on personal actions until the 17th. Civil actions commonly are limited in different degrees by general statutes that classify the actions into broad groups. Although the periods prescribed are arbitrary, they bear a rough relation to the times for which reliable evidence of the respective transactions may be expected to endure. The initiation actions for recovery of real property and actions on contracts under seal are commonly limited to periods of from 10 to 20 years. Actions on oral or simple written contracts usually are limited to periods of from three to six years and those for personal injury to three years or less. There is considerable variation in the periods that are prescribed in different jurisdictions. In Germany, for example, there is a general 30-year limitation on civil actions, but in some specific actions, such as tort and interest claims, the period may be only two or three years.

</font>


[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 20, 2001).]
 
Old 03-20-2001, 07:09 PM   #70
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Me: "What makes you think I am uncomfortable with our degree of "forensic" evidence?

You: "The fact that you are trying to fill in the gaps and paper over the unknown areas. The fact that "unknown" or "insufficient evidence" are not acceptable answers for you."

Me Again: The concern I have is that you seem to be implying that an area is "unknown" merely because there is no archeological discovery right on point. And I'm curious, which gaps and I filling in and papering over? Are you saying that applying the commonly accepted criteria of multiple attestation, coherence, dissimilarity, embarrassment, etc. is per se filling in the gaps? That is the problem with your entire theoretical rejection of historical inquiry, it is completely unconnected to the evidence. Sure I can look at the evidence and say we don't know, or it is unclear. How did James become leader of the Jerusalem church when Peter seemed to be the leader? I have no idea. The evidence is insufficient. Was Paul passing on traditions established in the Jerusalem church regarding Jesus? Yes he was. The evidence is strong on that one.

I agree with you to the extent that you are saying that we cannot prove that Jesus performed miracles through historical inquiry beyond a shadow of a doubt. But that doesn't mean that the evidence doesn't strongly indicate that he did. If you have decided before hand that you will only believe those things proven by the scientific method, the evidence will remain unconvincing. But most people, including historians, wisely do not limit themselves to such knowledge. In fact, such a thing would be impossible, because commitment to the scientific method as the only source of certainty does not itself rest on the certainty of a scientific conclusion.
 
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:15 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.