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Old 05-16-2001, 08:42 AM   #41
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kosh:
If I may point something out here, this is the problem as I see it.

First off, I agree with Layman and Nomad (did I really say that?). If they can prove that
Jesus DID exist, then the debate is over. THis as I've pointed out before, is the only thing you can prove. You can't prove a negative. You can't prove that somebody didn't exist.

HOWEVER - Layman (and perhaps Nomad - I'm
having trouble keeping up with all the rhetoric) are declaring themsevles winners
based on these three things that they say
proves Jesus existance

1. Johns Baptism of Jesus
2. Josephus' reference
3. same as above.

The PROBLEM with this is that #1 is in a
gospel story, so you can't use that as evidence that he existed, regardless of the
embarrassment argument (which is crap anyway).
As for 2 and 3, the references are believed
by scholars to be Christian interpolations, and
Doherty includes this in his theory.

So it's like this:

Doherty: Jesus was a myth...yada &lt;evidence&gt;
yada yada...Josephus references are invalid..
yada yada yada

Layman: But Josephus referenced him, so he
must real. Whooppeee! We win!

Am I the only one who sees how illogical this
is? Or did I really miss something?
</font>
So now we can't use the gospels as evidence? What an absurd proposition. Ludicrous in fact. Completely detached from any serious investigation into the topic. Something any serious historians would laugh at.

Earl D. depends on the New Testament for the bulk of his theory, why is that allowed? Oh yea, I forgot, the New Testament can only be used to disprove traditional Christianity, it can never actually support traditional Christianity.

Please list for me the historians and New Testament scholars who use your criteria: The Gospels cannot be used as evidence.

Was that another one of those rules that Earl D. was not informed of? Did I miss a memo?

Do you guys ever read anything by real live historians who teach at real live universities on these topics?

Kosh. Please show me where I have been declaring unilateral victory? I've actually been more restrained than other posters. I understand if Earl D. wants to take his ball and go home, what I find objectionable is the attempts to blame Nomad and pretend that he wasn't playing "by the rules."
 
Old 05-16-2001, 09:14 AM   #42
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Layman,

The whole thing is really simple. You guys are trying to convince us that Jesus was historical with a very high degree of probability. For that you have to show us evidence. We do not accept the gospels as unbiased, reliable evidence for obvious reasons. Don't you honestly see how you are begging the question by insisting we do? If all we have is that, why don't we accept that there was a historical Hercules with 99.9% probability? Or a historical Robin Hood?

We want to see independent, unbiased evidence. Show us that and you have a case. So far, I haven't seen much. This leaves my position unaltered (If you are interested, I estimate the probability that there was a historical Jesus as 75% - if we wouldn't have had Josephus, I would reduce that to 10-20% or so).

fG
 
Old 05-16-2001, 09:27 AM   #43
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:
Layman,

The whole thing is really simple. You guys are trying to convince us that Jesus was historical with a very high degree of probability. For that you have to show us evidence. We do not accept the gospels as unbiased, reliable evidence for obvious reasons. Don't you honestly see how you are begging the question by insisting we do? If all we have is that, why don't we accept that there was a historical Hercules with 99.9% probability? Or a historical Robin Hood?

We want to see independent, unbiased evidence. Show us that and you have a case. So far, I haven't seen much. This leaves my position unaltered (If you are interested, I estimate the probability that there was a historical Jesus as 75% - if we wouldn't have had Josephus, I would reduce that to 10-20% or so).

fG
</font>
Historians (the experts) rely on biased sources to determine most of what we know about history.

You guys are being absurd.
 
Old 05-16-2001, 09:54 AM   #44
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Historians (the experts) rely on biased sources to determine most of what we know about history.

You guys are being absurd.
</font>
So bias doesn't present any problem in the determination of what we believe historically? What is so "absurd" about recognizing the problem of bias, particularly as it relates to religious writings? Do you even consider bias a problem?
 
Old 05-16-2001, 10:05 AM   #45
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
So bias doesn't present any problem in the determination of what we believe historically? What is so "absurd" about recognizing the problem of bias, particularly as it relates to religious writings? Do you even consider bias a problem? </font>
Madmax, I never said anything of the sort. I thought that was pretty obvious. But since I think you are one of the more fair skeptics, I'll refer you to the context of this discussion.

Kosh said that Nomad's reference to the baptism of Jesus by John was invalid on its face because it relies on the gospels. No other reason.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The PROBLEM with this is that #1 is in a gospel story, so you can't use that as evidence that he existed.... </font>
This attitude is what is absurd. And I challenge you to find me historians who completely dismiss sources because they are biased.

This attitude is what is absurd. And this is what I attacked. I never said recognizing the "bias" of the authors was absurd. What is absurd, though, is assuming that the New Testament offers no historical information because it is biased.

Precious few historical sources are unbiased. How much do we know about our own Revolutionary War from "unbaised" sources? Or World War II? Or, going farther back, the Jewish Revolt in the first century?

Nomad's argument regarding the baptism actually relies to a large extent on the reality of bias in the Gospels. The bias, that Jesus was righteous and superior to all other prophets (especially, given the existing competition with his disciples, John the Baptist), demonstrates all the more why we should accept the depiction of Jesus' baptism by John as historical.

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited May 16, 2001).]
 
Old 05-16-2001, 10:06 AM   #46
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LAYMAN: The question we all thought was being addressed in this debate was whether or not Jesus really existed.

EARL/PHILIP: No, Layman. That was not the subject of the debate. The debate was supposed to be about MYTHICISM, and in particular Doherty's arguments. Nomad was supposed to refute Doherty's case for Jesus' ahistoricity.

SECWEBLURKER: SWL: Call me crazy, but I don't think people who reason this poorly (B.A. in philosophy or not) are qualified to make judgements about anything. Its sophistry like this that is just too time-consuming to refute, and too misleading to ignore (hence my relative absence from these boards as of lately).

EARL/PHILIP: Do you understand the difference between the following two questions: "Which is correct, evolution or Creation?" and "Are Stephen J. Gould's evolutionist arguments correct?" Do you understand the difference between a general and a focussed question? Do you appreciate the fact that a question can be focussed such that while background issues might technically be relevant, yet for practical matters, including the interests of the debate's spectators and the expectations of the debate's participants, only a handful of particular arguments might be crucial to the discussion, to match the debate's focus as indicated by the debate's title? Do you understand that the debate between Doherty and Brian was not simply to answer the general question "Did Jesus exist?" but to address, rather, the question "Are Doherty's mythicist arguments correct?" If you don't see the difference between a general and a focussed question, I'm afraid I can't help you further.

Unfortunately, from their very first posts it appears Doherty and Brian were on different tracks. Doherty or someone else called the thread "The Jesus Puzzle Debate," thus indicating a focus on Doherty's arguments in particular, rather than the general question of whether Jesus existed, a question that could, for all its generality, technically allow the debaters to ignore 100% of Doherty's arguments, thus mocking Doherty's invitation. Brian, however, wrote in his very first post "with luck, we can keep this discussion focused largely on the question: Did Jesus of Nazareth exist as an historical human being in the first third of the 1st Century AD?" This shows that Brian had no intention of focussing the debate on Doherty's arguments in particular. The blame for this mix-up is not Brian's or Doherty's but the moderators. A moderator should have set up a proposition for each debater to affirm or deny, such as "Did Jesus exist?" or "Are Doherty's mythicist arguments correct?" thus fixing the focus right from the start.

Where I blame Brian is in not extending commonsense courtesy to his opponent by discussing his arguments in detail or satisfying the interests of the debate's spectators by focussing on Doherty's arguments in particular. Technically, given the absence of an initial proposition set up by a moderator, the debaters were free to use any strategy they wished, including ignoring every last one of the opponent's arguments. However, morally and practically Brian should have appreciated Doherty's eagerness to discuss his mythicist arguments in particular, and either come out right from the beginning and clearly expressed his unwillingness to focus the debate in this way, in which case Doherty would likely have asked for a substitute debater, or spent some posts addressing at least a few of Doherty's arguments in detail.

Here's a humorous true story that illustrates the point. Farrell Till, the bible errantist from alt.bible.errancy and the magazine "the Skeptical Review" debated an inerrantist in public (I forget the person's name). The format was simple: opening statements, a couple rebuttal statements, and a conclusion. After the opening statements, Till addressed his rebuttal directly to his opponent's opening statement. His opponent, however, instead of doing likewise read off a prepared speech card, totally ignoring Till's comments. For his second rebuttal he did exactly the same: he read off a prepared card instead of addressing Till's first rebuttal statement. Thus the debate occurred without occurring, as it were. Now technically, Till's opponent might not have been in violation of any rules. However, morally he ruined the debate and spoiled most of the spectators' interests and expectations.
 
Old 05-16-2001, 10:24 AM   #47
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I have posted a compromise proposal on the debate thread.

Earl Doherty
 
Old 05-16-2001, 11:02 AM   #48
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Of course Brian is entitled to use the NT in his arguments, but quoting the NT account of John the Baptist's alleged baptism of Jesus can hardly be considered as a knock-out blow.
The trick is to prove it happened, or at least show it is likely that it happened. Did Brian do that? I don't think so. Yes, we know J the B existed. So did Pontius Pilate. So what?
As for Josephus and Tacitus, I may be wrong but didn't Brian quote Crossan as saying these two historians were "witnesses"?
Josephus was writing in the mid-90's (65 years after the alleged crucifixian), Tacitus perhaps 15 years later. Josephus wasn't even born until 37 (about 7 years after the Passion story), Tacitus was born in 56. Unless they built time machines, how on earth can they be described as "witnesses"?
Tacitus briefly mentions Christ (not Jesus)while writing about those pesky Christians: "The name is derived from Christ, whom the procurator Pontius Pilate had executed in the reign of Tiberius." Is this supposed to be another knock-out blow? Sure, there were xians in Rome in the early second century, no one here is going to deny that. Tacitus either heard about "the Christ" from them, or he checked it out, or both. Did he check into this "christ" story? Apparently not. He got Pilate's title wrong for a start.
But hey, it was no big deal for Tacitus. This "christ" business was a minor detail. We can't expect him to have traveled to Palestine for further research, if he had, and you xians are right about Jesus, Tacitus would have had a lot more than a mere dozen or so words to say about the son of the one true god.
Using this feeble piece of evidence just goes to show how desperate xians are to back up their god-on-a-stick, or even to back up the historic, but non-divine Jesus.
For me, the work of Josephus has been contaminated by xian liars and that is ample enough reason to dismiss this so-called evidence entirely. Even Brian and most xian biblical scholars admit that at least one of the two Josephan references to Jesus was tampered with.
OK, lets assume that some of it was authentic. Josephus quite simply recorded hearsay. He was A Jew (albeit a Romanised Jew) born just seven years after the alleged crucifixion, so he would be more inclined than Tacitus to investigate this Jesus, who was supposedly the most important man in the history of the world. But he obviously didn't. Like Tacitus, he considered Jesus a minor detail. But do these brief references to Jesus prove the latter existed? No, it doesn't. It is inconclusive. This in no way damages Earl Doherty's case.

btw looks like Earl has agreed to resume the debate.

Take care

Martin
 
Old 05-16-2001, 11:03 AM   #49
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kosh:
So it's like this:

Doherty: Jesus was a myth...yada &lt;evidence&gt;
yada yada...Josephus references are invalid..
yada yada yada

Layman: But Josephus referenced him, so he
must real. Whooppeee! We win!

Am I the only one who sees how illogical this
is? Or did I really miss something?
</font>
As you have pointed out the futility of trying to prove a negative, I don't think you've missed anything. In the parlance of the times, Brian has argued that Zeus is historical simply by pointing to one possible contemporaneous human counterpart, an association that in the case of Jesus, has been culturally reinforced over the centuries, and it's enemies selectively destroyed and discredited simply for holding an opposite opinion. That's simply how I see things.

It is impossible for me to believe that EarlD intended to come here and prove this negative. If that was his intention, Brian must have been licking his chops in anticipation. EarlD is not that foolish and Brian is not that naive. So, there had to be an initial misunderstanding.

I hope physicsguy has some luck.

It is credible to argue a mythicists position on the subject of Jesus - the entire Jesus. That's what I thought was going to occur. In can be argued that Brian sunk his own ship by agreeing that Paul's Jesus is nonhistorical.
 
Old 05-16-2001, 11:32 AM   #50
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
So now we can't use the gospels as evidence? </font>
No, you can't. Why? Because Earls theory
claims that the gospels grew out of a
misunderstanding of myth vs. reality. That
they were fabrications.

So if your goal is to prove that wrong, then
you're counter can't be "but the gospels tell us
he was real".

Why are you having so much trouble with this
concept? As a lawyer, the falacy of that
approach should be obvious to you!

"Jesus love me this I know. For the Bible
tells me so!".

DesCartes - All I *know* is that I exist.
Everything else I *believe*.

 
 

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