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Old 03-21-2001, 01:53 PM   #111
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Omnedon1:
I think that the theists put the skeptic in the same situation.

Embarrassment - if the text refers to an incident that is not embarrassing, we're asked to take it as accurate because it is fairly plausible and non-controversial. But if the text contains an embarrassment, then that somehow proves the truth of the text and again, the skeptic is asked to accept it.

Dissimiliarity - as Bob K points out, is likewise of questionable use. If the text refers to an event that would be harmonious with the historical and social backdrop of ancient Palestine, then the skeptic is asked to accept it for precisely those reasons. On the other hand, if the event in question is dissimilar to what was expected, then the skeptic is told that "it couldn't possibly be made up, so it has to be true."

It seems that no matter what the evidence, the theist manages to create a "win" out of it.
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Actually, both of those are very similar... If I were going to make something up, wouldn't I want to make it as believable as possible, or otherwise useful to my position? You're right that there are limits to it, but these are only general rules, you have to use common sense at some point... :] But if you've already ruled it out as a possibility, there's no point in talking to you. You can look right at something & never see it if your eyes are closed...
 
Old 03-21-2001, 03:14 PM   #112
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"How does that make them better attested? When one says 'attested' in Biblical schoalrship it usually means the existence of certain texts. To be better attested they would have to have more copies of ms closer to the original autographs.I dont' think that is true at all. In fact i think they have a real problem authenticating Ms. Just the existence of claims is not attestation."

Metacrock;
By any standard of attestation you can raise, the Chinese texts nuke all others of the period. There are more of them. They are better-preserved on longer-lasting materials such as silk and bamboo. Original texts are constantly being recovered from tombs.

And then there is printing...

Textual scholarship is quite ancient in China, and so is printing. COLOR printing dates from the 9th century. Iffy evidence of printing dates from as early as the seventh century (AD 636, perhaps as early as 624), printed objects are extant from the 8th. The first complete printed book dates from AD 868, or about a century before any manuscript of Josephus. The whole Taoist canon was printed in ~AD 940. We don't have half-assed copies by semiliterate monks, we have printed copies from a technologically advanced state.
Moreover, the Chinese printed from carved blocks (they knew of movable type, but even today it is still very impractical for Chinese) and the carved blocks were often used and re-used for hundreds of years. Forget hand copying by pious monks who never changed a stroke. This is the real thing.

Contemplate that for a moment.

But of course, multiple attestation is also multiply attested to. By very independent "witnesses." Historical scholarship, philology, archaeology, textual criticism are all ancient and honorable arts in China, and were pursued with vigor. Printing caused a tremendous revival by scholars more interested in the WORD than any other in the world, and better equipped to sound it out (remember, anyone educated in those days could read anything from all over the empire, as well as most stuff that was written several hundred years before their time). The total number of well-educated scholars, qualified on prefectural exams, is estimated to have been 200,000 in the 12th cenutry, and 400,000 in the 13th. Hundreds of academies and other institutes of learning, each churning out printed texts for study....lots aimed at the exam system, of course.

Taoist miracles are attested to by numerous sources, from dynastic histories, hagiographies, etc. Ge Hong (3rd cent.) says he did miracles with his own hand and witnessed others. These miracles are attested to by hundreds of different sources, all concurrent in time, some printed later, some recovered from tombs, some known from inscriptions, some from government records. We know the adept Ge Hong lived, because he left copious manuscripts everyone later agreed were from his hand. Further, he compiled a list of alchemical tracts, some of which we have, and others compiled lists that referred to him, and concurrent works refer to his. It's a web of scholarship and attestation that can't be matched in the west.

I suggest you curl up with Volume 5, book one, of Science and Civilization in China. There is simply no comparison with palestine or the Romans.

I can't go into this more right now....

Michael

 
Old 03-21-2001, 05:05 PM   #113
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I step away for half a day and look at everything I miss out on You and Layman have covered most of the ground. In my opinion, you’re not a fair person.
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And in my opinion, you exaggerate the other person's position to the point where it is distorted beyond recognition, and then you refuse to give direct answers.

I'm still waiting to hear from you on why embarrassment and dissimilarity aren't totally useless.

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Embarrassment - if the text refers to an incident that is not embarrassing, we're asked to take it as accurate because it is fairly plausible and non-controversial. But if the text contains an embarrassment, then that somehow proves the truth of the text and again, the skeptic is asked to accept it.

Dissimiliarity - as Bob K points out, is likewise of questionable use. If the text refers to an event that would be harmonious with the historical and social backdrop of ancient Palestine, then the skeptic is asked to accept it for precisely those reasons. On the other hand, if the event in question is dissimilar to what was expected, then the skeptic is told that "it couldn't possibly be made up, so it has to be true."

It seems that no matter what the evidence, the theist manages to create a "win" out of it.

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And yes I understand that you meant "MOST LIKELY", and not 100% CERTAIN when you first brought up these criteria. I always understood that point. But I am still not buying either of them. Dissimilarity and embarrassment are simply too random to be reliable tools. I'll also borrow what SingleDad said:

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It's non-falsifiable and impossible to distinguish between changing standards of value, intentional fabrication, error and stupidity.
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And you can add "coherence" to the list of bullshit historical criteria, for reasons of extreme subjectivity and unfalsifiability.


Reminder: you aren't going to get anywhere by saying, "But...but...but...all my christian buddy authors use it." The flaws I have pointed out are real, and so far they have not been rebutted. So if you can't rebut them, go back to your books and find out what your authors think.

And if after reading Meier, et. all you discover that THEY also can't rebut them, then maybe you need better standards.


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You make constant demands of the people with whom you are debating, but you refuse to answer direct questions asked to you.
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Wrong. What I do is insist that theists back up their claims and answer questions posed to them FIRST, before I answer any of their questions.

Here's the situation, Polycarp:
  • He who makes a claim, is responsible for proving that claim.
  • He who claims first, proves first.
  • The burden of proof is on the person making the claim; it is not the audience's responsibility to rebut the claim.
  • The more unlikely or outrageous the claim, the higher the standard for evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
  • Before you can prove that something happened, you have to prove that particular something is even possible in the first place.

I just make sure that people like you and deLayman are held accountable to solid standards like this.


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Pick one or more of the following claims and use your criteria to tell us the level of probability for the claim being true.
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Uh, no. I am not going to widen this discussion, until the previous claims have been either substantiated, modified, or you retract them.

Right now I am waiting to see the probability math from your previous three tests. You have already postulated the following:

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I’d put the Son of Man and parable teaching at about 95% probability with the issue of Jesus’ family being slightly lower at 85-90%.
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Your choices are:
a. substantiate
b. modify
c. retract

Let me know when you are ready.

[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 21, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 21, 2001).]
 
Old 03-21-2001, 07:02 PM   #114
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Omnedon1:
Here's the situation, Polycarp:
 He who makes a claim, is responsible for proving that claim.
 He who claims first, proves first.
 The burden of proof is on the person making the claim; it is not the audience's responsibility to rebut the claim.
 The more unlikely or outrageous the claim, the higher the standard for evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
 Before you can prove that something happened, you have to prove that particular something is even possible in the first place.
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Apparently your short-term memory is lapsing again. You just finished acknowledging that I’ve never made claims for proof and that we agree on this topic, and look at your first sentence – you want me to be “responsible for proving that claim”. Oh, and look at your second line… a request to “prove first”. Big shock on the third line – “burden of proof on the person making the claim”. Fourth line? Ahhh…. Now we’re requiring “extraordinary proof”. And since you’re on a roll let’s look at your fifth line – you want me to “prove” something else.

I dub thee the “King of Straw Men”. You sure are good for a laugh. You admit that we are discussing probability, but then you turn the issue into one of “proof” because you know most history can not be proven. You’ve had ample opportunity to demonstrate how your viewpoint is superior but you are too cowardly to make an attempt.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Wrong. What I do is insist that theists back up their claims and answer questions posed to them FIRST, before I answer any of their questions.
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I’ve answered most of your questions. I’m glad you made this statement because it shows everyone your true colors. Debates aren’t interrogations. One side doesn’t get to question the other side without ever having to defend their own beliefs. I’ve given a brief outline of some of my criteria and given examples of how the criteria would be applied. That isn’t good enough for you. You want to keep asking questions until you think you can wear out your opponent. Again, that isn’t how debates work. I made a case and you didn’t buy it. Now its your turn to show how your view is superior to mine. The fact that you refuse to do this should say something to those reading this.

If you’ll look at how this thread started it was by someone asking an open-ended question about historical methods. I gave some of my criteria along with examples and brief arguments to support them. You have only given your criteria. You haven’t given any examples or arguments to support them. Why? A theist who did such a thing would be branded as someone who is “cowardly” or “entirely dependent on faith”. Why should you play by different rules than the rest of us? You can claim I haven’t proven my case beyond a reasonable doubt, but you haven’t even presented a case. A person in such a position should not be so arrogant as to think that such a thing means they are correct.

A person doesn’t win a debate by saying, “I’m right because the other person quit answering my questions.” People demonstrate the truthfulness of their views by making a positive case - not simply attacking their opponent’s case. I’ve made my case. What are you afraid of ?


Jesus most likely taught in parables. Here’s why…

The earliest traditions, which date to within the generation living at the time of Jesus, claim that Jesus taught in parables. We have multiple attestation for this claim in Q, Mark, Thomas, M, and L. There is no evidence that the earliest Christian missionaries taught in parables making it unlikely that the earliest Christians would have attributed this habit to Jesus. There is no reason not to believe Jesus taught in parables. Many of his parables consist of a rural agricultural background more at home in the setting of Jesus than in Christianity’s later (post 50 C.E.) concentration in cities. This again argues against a claim of fabrication by the early Christians and gospel writers. Teaching in parables fits with the idea of a subversive message aimed against religious and/or political authorities while also offering a critique of the status quo which would lead to the authorities seeing such a person as a threat. This is a possible contributing factor to the reasons for the execution of Jesus.

That is my case for believing it to be “highly probable” that Jesus taught in parables. I’m sure I’ve left out some supporting arguments, but it should suffice.

Thank you for the opportunity to further reinforce my case. When do you plan to present yours? I anxiously await the opportunity to continue this excellent discussion.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 03-21-2001, 09:19 PM   #115
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Apparently your short-term memory is lapsing again. You just finished acknowledging that I’ve never made claims for proof and that we agree on this topic,
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Wrong. We agreed that you always indicated "very likely", and that 100% certainty is not something that you claimed to have or be able to show me. But you most certainly did make a strong claim for proof or evidence. In fact you set the probability at 95%, if I recall. Something which has a probability of 95% is 95% proven to be true.

To which I reply:

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The terms "most likely" and similar guarded terms are inconsistent with the strong claims for "proof" and "evidence". Which means that all these high-sounding claims for proof that you and other theists use should actually be substantially more muted.

Apologists such as yourselves try to use the tools of textual criticism to achieve a level of certitude and proof that is inappropriate given the limitations of those tools. You want the skeptics to believe you have proof which is of the same quality and caliber as scientific proof. But you don't have that. What you really, actually have is a bunch of "most likelys" and "reasonably sures" and "leads us to believe". Those types of guarded qualifications are inconsistent with the term "proof" and "evidence".

</font>
So again, even though you are not claiming 100% certitude, you are STILL claiming a degree of certainty (or of probability) in your conclusions. But the degree of certainty (or proof) that you are claiming is WAAAAAAY out of line, given the scarcity and the low quality of the evidence. And, given the flaws in the tools you have offered.

The fact that you cannot product 100% certain proof does not answer the flaws pointed out in your criteria (embarrassment, dissimilarity and coherence).

Even in a situation of non-certitude, the tools you choose must still be high quality and not subject to the kinds of flaws I (and others) pointed out. Any textual criticism criteria that cannot reliably be falsified is not a trustworthy tool.

Just because you cannot be 100% certain, that is not a green light that "anything goes". By that I mean an attitude that says since we can never be certain, then throw your hands up and take the attitude that any tool is as good as any other. That's patently absurd.

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I dub thee the “King of Straw Men”.
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And I dub thee Pollyfish, the little minnow that parrots whatever nonsense it is told.


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If you’ll look at how this thread started it was by someone asking an open-ended question about historical methods. I gave some of my criteria along with examples and brief arguments to support them.
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After which you were challenged on the validity of yours, and your responses were:

1. if you don't like my standards, then suggest some of your own
2. what makes you think you know more than these other people X, Y and Z


After which you were told: if the tools are busted, dude, then the tools are busted. Period.
Either fix the tool, or get rid of it.

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Jesus most likely taught in parables. Here’s why:

The earliest traditions, which date to within the generation living at the time of Jesus, claim that Jesus taught in parables. We have multiple attestation for this claim in Q, Mark, Thomas, M, and L. There is no evidence that the earliest Christian missionaries taught in parables making it unlikely that the earliest Christians would have attributed this habit to Jesus.
</font>
Regarding the point I bolded above:

There is no such evidence? You admit that our knowledge of what the early missionaries did is far from complete. How do you know that they did not teach in parables, especially since there is a pre-existing Jewish tradition of using parables to illustrate a moral point? the Greek world was used to hearing lessons delivered via parables? Have you ever heard of the saying, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"? When the record is so spotty, how can you conclusively rule this out?

Notice what Britannica says:

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parable
from Greek parabole "comparison" or "similitude"

short fictitious narrative that illustrates a moral attitude, a doctrine, a standard of conduct, or a religious principle. The term originally referred to a Greek rhetorical figure, a kind of extended simile, involving the use of a literary illustration. The parable differs from the fable in the inherent plausibility of its story and in the exclusion of anthropomorphic animals or inanimate creatures, but it resembles the fable in the essential qualities of brevity and simplicity. The storytelling aspect of a parable is usually subordinated to the analogy it draws between a particular instance of human behaviour and human conduct at large. The simple narratives of parables give them a mysterious, suggestive tone and make them especially useful for the teaching of moral and spiritual truths. Parables can often be fully understood only by an informed elite, who can discern the meaning within their brief, enigmatic structures.

To a Western audience, some of the most famous parables are in the New Testament; in them, Jesus uses the form to illustrate his message to his followers by telling a fictitious story that is nevertheless true-to-life. There are also parables in the Hebrew Bible (notably those of II Samuel 12:1-9 and II Samuel 14:1-13), but they have suffered in popularity by comparison with the New Testament parables.

Throughout Christian history, the pious tale or parable has been a popular preaching device.
The more paradoxical aspects of the parable were revived in the 19th century through treatises on Christian faith and practice written by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. His use of the form influenced the enigmatic works of Franz Kafka and the writings of Albert Camus.

Parables have a considerable role also in Sufism (Islamic mysticism), rabbinic (Jewish exegetical) literature, Hasidism (Jewish pietism), and Zen Buddhism.

</font>

And again, from Britannica:

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Parable

In the West, the conventions of parable were largely established by the teachings of Christ. The New Testament records a sufficient number of his parables, with their occasions, to show that to some extent his disciples were chosen as his initiates and followers because they "had ears to hear" the true meaning of his parables. (It has already been noted that the parable can be fully understood only by an elite, made up of those who can decipher its inner core of truth.) Despite a bias toward simplicity and away from rhetorical elaboration, the parable loses little in the way of allegorical richness: the speaker can exploit an enigmatic brevity that is akin to the style of presenting a complex riddle. Parable is thus an immensely useful preaching device: while theologians in the period of the early Christian Church were developing glosses on Christ's enigmatic stories, preachers were inventing their own to drive home straightforward lessons in good Christian conduct. For centuries, therefore, the model of parable that had been laid down by Christ flourished on Sundays in churches all over the Western world.
</font>



[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 21, 2001).]
 
Old 03-21-2001, 09:25 PM   #116
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Thank you for the opportunity to further reinforce my case.
</font>

Let me know when you reinforce it.

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When do you plan to present yours?
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Case?

I have made no statements as to the validity of your three points, other than to say that their truth status is unknown.
 
Old 03-21-2001, 09:39 PM   #117
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
[b]"How does that make them better attested? When one says 'attested' in Biblical schoalrship it usually means the existence of certain texts. To be better attested they would have to have more copies of ms closer to the original autographs.I dont' think that is true at all. In fact i think they have a real problem authenticating Ms. Just the existence of claims is not attestation."

Metacrock;
By any standard of attestation you can raise, the Chinese texts nuke all others of the period. There are more of them. They are better-preserved on longer-lasting materials such as silk and bamboo. Original texts are constantly being recovered from tombs.</font>

MEta =&gt;So what??? I'm surprized that you think that is any kind of valid argument. What difference does that make?

And then there is printing...


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Textual scholarship is quite ancient in China, and so is printing. COLOR printing dates from the 9th century. Iffy evidence of printing dates from as early as the seventh century (AD 636, perhaps as early as 624), printed objects are extant from the 8th. The first complete printed book dates from AD 868, or about a century before any manuscript of Josephus. The whole Taoist canon was printed in ~AD 940. We don't have half-assed copies by semiliterate monks, we have printed copies from a technologically advanced state.
Moreover, the Chinese printed from carved blocks (they knew of movable type, but even today it is still very impractical for Chinese) and the carved blocks were often used and re-used for hundreds of years. Forget hand copying by pious monks who never changed a stroke. This is the real thing.</font>

Meta =&gt; Ok, now take a deep breath, read slowly...I thought he was saying that attestation meant validation of the cliams the text makes! So I was informing him of what it really means. Now, if you think this stuff proves something. Please share with me what you think it proves?

Contemplate that for a moment.


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But of course, multiple attestation is also multiply attested to. By very independent "witnesses." Historical scholarship, philology, archaeology, textual criticism are all ancient and honorable arts in China, and were pursued with vigor. Printing caused a tremendous revival by scholars more interested in the WORD than any other in the world, and better equipped to sound it out (remember, anyone educated in those days could read anything from all over the empire, as well as most stuff that was written several hundred years before their time). The total number of well-educated scholars, qualified on prefectural exams, is estimated to have been 200,000 in the 12th cenutry, and 400,000 in the 13th. Hundreds of academies and other institutes of learning, each churning out printed texts for study....lots aimed at the exam system, of course.</font>

Meta =&gt;So you think that proving the validity of another religious tradition invalidates the Christian tradition? I assume you don't believe that Toaist sages really drank the elixer of life and rode Dragons to the sun and lived in the heavenly court of the moon, slept on clouds and strolled under the ocean right? So what's the point? If their texts care more validated that doens't mean that the Chrsitian texts are not validated.


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Taoist miracles are attested to by numerous sources, from dynastic histories, hagiographies, etc. Ge Hong (3rd cent.) says he did miracles with his own hand and witnessed others. These miracles are attested to by hundreds of different sources, all concurrent in time, some printed later, some recovered from tombs, some known from inscriptions, some from government records. We know the adept Ge Hong lived, because he left copious manuscripts everyone later agreed were from his hand. Further, he compiled a list of alchemical tracts, some of which we have, and others compiled lists that referred to him, and concurrent works refer to his. It's a web of scholarship and attestation that can't be matched in the west.</font>
MEta=&gt;That bothers me not at all.I happen to value Taoism and think it is a splinded tradition. I love the Tao te ching.Please read my post on the thread "Which God is it" on the Existence of God board.

I suggest you curl up with Volume 5, book one, of Science and Civilization in China. There is simply no comparison with palestine or the Romans.

Meta =&gt;You are missing the point man!

I can't go into this more right now....

None of that negates the textual validity of the NT! IT's a non issue, it's a red herring.

 
Old 03-21-2001, 09:44 PM   #118
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Omnedon1:
Case?

I have made no statements as to the validity of your three points, other than to say that their truth status is unknown.
</font>
Let me know when you say something to damage it!
 
Old 03-22-2001, 05:14 AM   #119
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Omnedon1:
Wrong. We agreed that you always indicated "very likely", and that 100% certainty is not something that you claimed to have or be able to show me. But you most certainly did make a strong claim for proof or evidence. In fact you set the probability at 95%, if I recall. Something which has a probability of 95% is 95% proven to be true
Quote:
</font>

I’m having so much fun with this topic. You light up my life…

Allow me to further educate you on this issue. Thanks in advance for the opportunity. Removing ignorance in the world is something I cherish.

You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that I only find these criteria useful because “my Bible-buddies” use them. While the term “Bible-buddies” does have a certain ring to it (Tele-tubbies?), I’m afraid your ad hominem attack has been misguided. The tools I use are the same ones used by recognized scholars from all backgrounds – ranging from atheists (Ludemann) to deists/agnostics (Funk, Hoover, etc) to Jewish theists (Vermes) to Christian theists (Meier, Wright, Brown). I don’t expect you’ve read any of these scholar’s works. I’ve read all of them and, contrary to your assumption, many of them would fail to meet your classification as “Bible-buddies”. When criteria are recognized as valid and utilized by nearly every expert from a wide range of backgrounds (from atheist to theist) in a given field then the burden of proof rests on the one who claims that all of the experts are wrong.

From where do your criteria come? Since you’ve yet to give any defense of your position we’re left to speculate that perhaps you drew them from a hat or possibly used the great scholarly tool known as the Ouija board.

You still don’t seem to realize that debates are not won by saying, “You’re wrong. You’re wrong.”, and then not even making an attempt to defend your own position. I’ll rest in the knowledge of the experts in this field. You? Well, you can feel free to be like the person who wants to be an auto mechanic but doesn’t believe in the combustible engine…

Peace,

Polycarp (your Bible-buddy)

P.S. Let me know when you actually present an argument in support of your viewpoint.

 
Old 03-22-2001, 05:19 AM   #120
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Meta =&gt;You are missing the point man!

I can't go into this more right now....

None of that negates the textual validity of the NT! IT's a non issue, it's a red herring.
[/B]

MC,

the Taoist text tradition has a tremendous miracle tradition, much better attested to than the Christian. If you are going to believe in the Christian one based on the idiotic "multiple attestation" criteria, you'd have to buy the Taoist.

Michael


 
 

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