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Old 06-08-2001, 11:18 AM   #31
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
For things that are within the realm of reasonable expectation and assumption I pretty much agree. For things that fall outside the realm of reasonable expectation and assumption I totally disagree.
</font>
Fine you disagree. You don't think we should evaluate personal attestations and evaluations for the trustworthiness because you assume all such attestations must be wrong. If you assume that they are wrong and provide no evidence for the supernatural, then, of course, you will arrive at that conclusion. To say you will change this view if provided some unspecified level of evidence is disengenuous because you have already decided that large chunks of evidence must be false.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> There are simply to many examples of lying, exaggeration, delusion, myth, fiction, wishful thinking, and deception to be able to take outlandish claims at face value, or even supported with a load of circumstantial evidence. People should know better by now. </font>
Which is why they should be examined for their trustworthiness.



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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> One of your support factors for a claim was the presence of eyewitnesses. When the claim is a claim that there were eyewitnesses, saying its has more reliability because of eyewitness is begging the question. </font>
You have reached such a level of generalization that I have no idea what you are talking about.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Given the huge propensity of human kind to lie, invent, deceive, exaggerate, experience delusions, invent myths/folklore/legend, believe in myths/folklore/legends, believe in deities and spirits of all kinds, and engage in wishful thinking, the assumption that fantastic claims are false is highly warranted. If susbstantive hard evidence can be found to overcome this reasonable skepticism then that’ll be different. But claims that go in severe contrast to things that are known to be possible will require extremely strong evidence indeed. </font>
I believe we should evaluate claims for their trustworthiness and consider all the hard evidence we can accumulate. The Christian case is a cumulative one and depends on science, history, philosophy, and logic.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The assumption is warranted. Sufficient evidence will show me that I was incorrect in this assumption. I (and others) am willing to evaluate whatever evidence people wish to present for these things. </font>
You define sufficient evidence in such a way so as to preclude the demonstration that your assumption is correct. And the statement that you will evluate whatever evidence people wish to present seems belied by your stated assumption that you will not consider any statements alleging the miraculous.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If I assume gravity does not have an acceleration of 9.8 m/s squared (on earth) will someone not be able to present clear evidence that I am wrong in my assumption? This is ridiculous. I could clearly be wrong on my assumption of many issues and there could be sufficient evidence to convince me that I am wrong regardless of those assumptions – if the assumption is indeed wrong. </font>
But you are ruling out most of the evidence to begin with. You are gauranteeing that there will be insufficient "evidence" to convince you otherwise.

You claim to have great faith in "hard" science, but even those sciences rest on interpretations and statements by experts and specialists, as well as our own predispositions and assumptions. Certainly many, many "scientific" conclusions have been demonstrated incorrect.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> All your doing here is giving your own belief in miracles as leg to stand on. If I assume miracles do actually occur, even against all my own personal experience and the total lack of hard data that they do, even against all my knowledge that people have and do make such things up, then somehow I’ll be closer to finding sufficient evidence to convince me they do occur. This is not reasonable. Sorry. </font>
Well I'm sure that our personal experiences do affect our assumptions. I know that they have occurred, and reject your assumption that there is no "hard data" to prove that they have happened. But again, because you rule out all attestations that miracles have occurred, you will not find the "hard data" you are looking for.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I assume they are all fictions or embellishments because I have lots of reasons to believe it and no reason to believe the opposite. If I had any hard data at all to confirm that miracles are possible then this discussion wouldn’t be necessary. But no such data has ever been found or presented. The dismissal is warranted until clear evidence is presented and confirmed. </font>
You are just demonstrating my point. First you claimed there was no modern evidence for miracles. When I say there is, you just say you assume it is all wrong. Why it is not "hard data" is not explained, just assumed. How much have you really looked into it?

There are seemingly credible reports of UFO’s, ghosts, NDE’s, demon possession, miracles in other faiths, and reincarnation experiences. (Recollection of past lives) I don’t believe any of them either. Charlatans often seem credible which is why they fool so many people in the first place.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The farther we go back in history, the more increasingly difficult it becomes to confirm any of this stuff or any of the stuff that surrounds the claim for that matter. If people can’t prove miracles occur today in this modern age with ability to record images and communicate globally, and collect first hand data using trained scientists, then they certainly can’t prove that they can occur based on some old writings. </font>
Well, there is no gaurantee that miracles, which by definition are unique events, occur in the same numbers now than they have in the past. And saying that the evidence for miracles in history is just based on "some old writings" is like saying the theory of evolution is just based on some "old rocks." The real probative force of the evidence comes from its evaluation, not by cute, dismissive, and conclusory statements.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As for this being all part of my “worldview’”, you may be correct. When I see unambigious evidence presented that demonstrates that miracles do occur then I will adjust my worldview to incorporate them. </font>
Fine, but I don't share your skepticism or your loaded terms. Nor do I think that it is the only reasonable approach to the issue.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Regardless of all its failings (and I’m not going to keep arguing about them), its still a much higher level of truth finding than we find in historical science. </font>
It is an entirely different endeavor than historical science. Some of it facilatiates truth finding and some of it does not. What this tells us about what we can know through history, however, is nada .

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Actually its not a fallacy. I could just be wrong about it. However this is really just a point of view and is based on specific circumstances. If prejudical evidence is excluded, and the person is innocent, this could relieve any bias in the determination of the jurors, thus enabling them to make a more truthful decision. If its excluded and the person is guilty, then it becomes a hindrance. Its not as cut and dry as you would like to portray it. </font>
I don't think I presented it as "cut and dry," so I reject your characterization. I agree that it is based on specific circumstances, and I never said that the bar on prejudicial evidence should be removed entirely. In fact, I believe I focused on character evidence.

But your example is actually very revealing. Because you assume that the person is innocent, you then assume that the evidence was properly excluded. You do not begin by examining the evidence itself and attempting to determine whether it is probative or not, you begin by assuming it was wrong because the defendant is innocent. Well of course if you assume a certain conclusion then it becomes very easy to determine what evidence you will consider.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> There I agree. The standard of truth finding in the justice system, regardless of its failings, is much higher than that of ancient historical research so any analogy is a poor one. Remember that the justice system often is concerned with history. Its about what happened a few days, weeks, months or a few years ago. Because of the stakes involved we put in a lot of safeguards and use some very scientific techniques to determine the truth. That kind of stuff simply isn’t possible with ancient claims. </font>
I just don't agree that the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM is inherently superior to historical studies when it comes to truth determinations. Some of the tools used by the parties certainly has such advantages: personal testimony, DNA testing, etc., but the system itself is not the best way to approach determining "what really happened."

I don't think that truth determining is most facilitated by such an adversarial approach. While it is necessary to protect the defendant from the state, it is not the best way to determine "what really happened."

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I just hope we continue to be more diligent about it. I don’t want to seen innocent people go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit OR see the guilty go free. </font>
Yes, the balance between ensuring we do not convict the innocent, but remain committed to convicting the guilty, are a unique part of the justice system and perhaps its most dominant shaping factor.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You can be convinced by textual evidence that fantastic, extraordinary events can actually occur. I believe my position is far more reasonable. It may be that miracles are possible. But until I see clear evidence that refutes all that goes against that possibility, I will assume they don’t. </font>
Well thank you for your opinion, but I don't think it is "far more reasonable." I just believe it is far more skeptical. The two are not the same. Besides, I've always thought the phrase "more reasonable" was somewhat of a contradiction. Something is reasonable or it is not.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So rigorous cross-examination, credibility confirmation, hearsay rules, prejudical testimony, record confirmation, forensic evidence, can’t have positive impacts on truth finding. What an interesting viewpoint. </font>
Ha ha. But of course I never say that all of these things are an impediment to truth determinations. I said that the ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM was a hinderance to truth determinations. Many of the items you listed exist in nonadversarial systems and in arbitrations that take place right here in the U.S.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I’d rather live here thank you. </font>
Me too, but I'm not so arrogant as to believe our system is perfect. Or even so extremely arrogant to believe that the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM is the best way to determine truth. I do, however, think it is perhaps the best one at protecting the rights of the individual.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Well that’s the whole point isn’t it? The standard of investigation. Relax your standards and more stuff gets included. I for one wouldn’t want my life hanging on the standard of arbitration, or even of a preponderance of the evidence for that matter. If my life depends on it, I want beyond a reasonable doubt. Hell, I’ll take scientific certainty if I can get it. Might as well go for the best. </font>
Whether you would want your life hanging on the standard of arbitration is quite irrelevant to the question of which process most likely arrives at the truth. What you are focusing on is the protection of your rights. You think that they would be maximized in the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM. This just reinforces my point that one of its primary concerns is the rights of the individual. Much more so than argbitration or the inquisitional justice system.

But the issue is not which system would be most likely to keep you out of jail, but which system arrives at the truth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The court system has a standard of truth finding. Ancient historical study has a standard of truth finding. They both have failings. The modern court system remains vastly superior. </font>
It certainly can have access to better evidence, but that does not mean that the system is superior. You are confusing evidence with methodology.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yes and more innocent people inevitably died or were sent to prison because of it. That’s what happens when your standards (possible or otherwise) are low. More mistakes are made. Scary. </font>
Again you are focusing on the nature of the evidence, not the methodology. The standards weren't any lower, we just have some advances in our understanding of DNA and such. We've also made advances in our understanding of ancient history.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Wrong. What high stakes demand is that we be RIGHT. Not bend to supernaturalistic assumptions that tremendously bias people’s view of the “evidence”. If you want supernaturalistic assumptions to be included then present clear evidence that they should be. All the data (or lack thereof) to date shows they shouldn’t be. </font>
The data reflects what you want it to because you have ruled out most of the data that is contrary to your assumption.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You mean they should have assumed first that UFO’s actually abducted people and worked from there? To bad they didn’t have modern doctors and physchologists making reports back then. With some real scientific investigation we could have learned all kinds of things. </font>
Are you just going to invent what I said? I clearly said we should not assume the evidence will take us in a certain direction. We should evaluate their statements in light of all of the evidence and examine its trustworthiness.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Thanks. Even with hard data you see the reasonableness of being skeptical of fantastic claims. </font>
Of course it is reasonable to be skeptical. But is not reasonable to assume that "hard" evidence is inherently superior top "soft" evidence.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Good again. You’d want to do some personal investigation, check out the grave for yourself. When did he die? Are you sure he was dead? Are you sure he was buried here at all? Are you sure the body wasn’t moved? Was this a real person?

Assume you got all the answers that satisfied you. Will you then believe a person actually rose from the dead or will you question whether your investigation was flawed first? Will you conclude the resurrection was real or that the people you talked to personnally were making it up/delusional/lying? On what side of the fence will you tend to lay the probabilities? The side that says something in your investigation was amiss, or the side that concludes an actual resurrection took place? </font>
I would be skeptical. But if my investigation confirmed the findings then I would believe. Of course, if you are saying that you would never believe in a resurrection and no amount of evidence or investigation will ever convince you of it, then you will never be convinced of it. Fine. But what you are doing is assuming you are correct and pretending that it is a conclusion. You aren't evaluating the evidence or choosing between different kinds of evidence, you are ignoring all of it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So the ancient jews and romans were actually skeptics regarding the miraculous? I’m not sure I understand you here. </font>
Depends on how you define skeptics. If you define it as those who were committed atheists with natrualistic assumptions that ignored all evidence to the contrary, then no, most of them were not. But precious few people today even accept that viewpoint.

Did they believe the supernatural was possible? Yes they did. Did they realize, especially the Jews, that it was a departure from the norm? Yes. They knew that virgins did not normally give birth and that the dead did not normally rise from the dead.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> How do you know what the story tellers considered contrary to nature? With all the deities and various beliefs running around, none of these ancients seem very skeptical to me. See Richard’s Kooks and Quacks essay – the title of this thread. </font>
We know by examining the writings themselves and by their context. Of course the early Christians knew that people did not normally rise from the dead and that virgins did not normally give birth. Are you being obtuse? It is precisly because these things were so unusual that they believed Jesus was the Son of God. Fantastic claims required fantastic proof, and they believed they had fantastic proof and used that fantastic proof to spread the word.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Only in generalities. The personal details regarding the actual claimed figures remains very obscure.
</font>
I disagree, but then that is what this board is all about. Figuring out what we know and what we can know.

 
Old 06-08-2001, 08:03 PM   #32
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Fine you disagree. You don't think we should evaluate personal attestations and evaluations for the trustworthiness because you assume all such attestations must be wrong. If you assume that they are wrong and provide no evidence for the supernatural, then, of course, you will arrive at that conclusion. To say you will change this view if provided some unspecified level of evidence is disengenuous because you have already decided that large chunks of evidence must be false.

1. I highly question the veracity of supernatural claims because I have no hard evidence that such things even can or do occur. (I have lots of evidence that people make such things up. )
2. Then you attack my position because I don't accept supernatural claims which is the ONLY "evidence" that is presented to me.

Something's wrong here and it sure isn't my position. If this fallacious reasoning is all you have to argue against my position, then it remains rock solid.


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There are simply to many examples of lying, exaggeration, delusion, myth, fiction, wishful thinking, and deception to be able to take outlandish claims at face value, or even supported with a load of circumstantial evidence. People should know better by now.

Which is why they should be examined for their trustworthiness.


Yep. And thoroughly. Not from ancient writings written by virtually unknown people living in superstitious times. When this is the only evidence you have, your on very slippery ground.



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One of your support factors for a claim was the presence of eyewitnesses. When the claim is a claim that there were eyewitnesses, saying its has more reliability because of eyewitness is begging the question.

You have reached such a level of generalization that I have no idea what you are talking about.


Here are some quotes from you:

"Paul was reporting things sensed visually and audibly, at the least. McClaine and Grey's claims are based on mental impressions. Big diff. I have no idea who Sai Baba is but Turton claims he's been discredited, so I gather the evidence was not enough (at least in his eyes). "

"Just more question begging. Perhaps a "mere" claim is not "evidence." But if that mere claim is eyewitness testimony, or made against the interests of the party asserting the claim. Then I don't classify it as "mere" anymore. "

In both these instances you ASSUME the claim of "eywitness" is true and then you use that as a criteria for determining whether a claim is true. This is question begging reasoning. There is no "generalization" going on here. (Though I begin to suspect some serious side stepping)


Given the huge propensity of human kind to lie, invent, deceive, exaggerate, experience delusions, invent myths/folklore/legend, believe in myths/folklore/legends, believe in deities and spirits of all kinds, and engage in wishful thinking, the assumption that fantastic claims are false is highly warranted. If susbstantive hard evidence can be found to overcome this reasonable skepticism then that'll be different. But claims that go in severe contrast to things that are known to be possible will require extremely strong evidence indeed.

I believe we should evaluate claims for their trustworthiness and consider all the hard evidence we can accumulate. The Christian case is a cumulative one and depends on science, history, philosophy, and logic.


I don't consider many aspects of Christianity logical. Certainly it has a history though of lot of its early years are lost to antiquity and rest on much speculation. Cetainly there are philosophies built around it. I don't know off hand what the science part alludes to.

You define sufficient evidence in such a way so as to preclude the demonstration that your assumption is correct. And the statement that you will evluate whatever evidence people wish to present seems belied by your stated assumption that you will not consider any statements alleging the miraculous.

I define sufficient evidence as prima facie evidence that supports that idea miracles actually occur or have occurred at all. This will have to be convincing enough to overshadow the evidence I have that they do not occur, such as the many charlatans that have been exposed, the miracles that are claimed in contradictory belief systems, my own lack of experiencing of any miracles, and the complete lack of scientific data that they do occur.

Any defense that miracles are not by nature open to scientific investigation, that claims are all we have to support them, that their nature precludes the kind of evidence I require, will be viewed as ad hoc defenses that support nothing. Its not my problem if the hard data to prove they actually occur doesn't exist or cannot be obtained.

I don't investigate anything else by assuming it actually occurs before I know that it does, so I don't see why I should give the claim of miracles any special consideration. The idea that I even should consider it is special pleading which is another logical fallacy.

But you are ruling out most of the evidence to begin with. You are gauranteeing that there will be insufficient "evidence" to convince you otherwise.
You claim to have great faith in "hard" science, but even those sciences rest on interpretations and statements by experts and specialists, as well as our own predispositions and assumptions. Certainly many, many "scientific" conclusions have been demonstrated incorrect.


Nice try. Scientific conclusions have been demonstrated to be incorrect ---- by science! It is a self-correcting exercise, unlike religious belief. In every instance I can think of it is religious belief that has had to give way to scientific discovery. Not the other way around. My "faith" in science is very well founded indeed. No other endeavor has taught us so much about our world or had such profound tangible application upon human life. Not to mention that I am personally able to corroborate much of the findings of science in my everyday life. When I turn on my TV, microwave my dinner, start my car or post messages on the internet. I naturally have less confidence in certain other theories of science like some details of evolutionary theory, the Big Bang, and quantum physics.

But this is really beside the point. The point is that you want me to use claims of supernatural happenings as evidence that supernatural happenings actually occur. This is ruling out "most of the evidence" as you say. Not quite. Its ruling out ALL of the evidence, since claims are ALL that are presented. That's the problem.

Well I'm sure that our personal experiences do affect our assumptions. I know that they have occurred, and reject your assumption that there is no "hard data" to prove that they have happened. But again, because you rule out all attestations that miracles have occurred, you will not find the "hard data" you are looking for.

First you say you have hard data and then complain because I rule out "attestations". Is this an admission that claims are all you have? You believe such fantastic things based on the mere claims of individuals when you must be aware of the many charlatans that have been exposed. When you must be aware of the miracles in other faiths that are contrary to your own. If you define hard data as the personal claims of inviduals, known or unknown, then your criteria is way way different than mine. Frankly I don't see how your far away from sheer gullibility.

You are just demonstrating my point. First you claimed there was no modern evidence for miracles. When I say there is, you just say you assume it is all wrong. Why it is not "hard data" is not explained, just assumed. How much have you really looked into it?

I'm waiting for you to present some. So far all I have are claims. Is this all you have in the way of evidence?

And saying that the evidence for miracles in history is just based on "some old writings" is like saying the theory of evolution is just based on some "old rocks." The real probative force of the evidence comes from its evaluation, not by cute, dismissive, and conclusory statements.

Your comparing the evidence for evolution with the evidence for miracles? Are you being serious? I hope not.

Evidence for evolution is a lot more than old rocks. It goes into many aspects of many different sciences. Yet claims are all you seem to have in regards to miracles. The hard sciences find major league evidences. Mere claims with no supporting data (other than more claims) are little league evidences. Claims by persons we have practically no information about are T-ball league evidences.


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As for this being all part of my "worldview'", you may be correct. When I see unambigious evidence presented that demonstrates that miracles do occur then I will adjust my worldview to incorporate them.

Fine, but I don't share your skepticism or your loaded terms. Nor do I think that it is the only reasonable approach to the issue.


Well here we can find a small hint of agreement perhaps. Your approach towards miracles is not reasonable - in my opinion. Not even close. However I am open to the idea that it is reasonable - to you. This is just fine and perhaps the best we can hope for. I know my approach is very reasonable to me. By your use of the phrase "the only reasonable" approach, I would conclude that you think my approach is somewhat reasonable, or at least that you understand that I view it as reasonable.


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Regardless of all its failings (and I'm not going to keep arguing about them), its still a much higher level of truth finding than we find in historical science.

It is an entirely different endeavor than historical science. Some of it facilatiates truth finding and some of it does not. What this tells us about what we can know through history, however, is nada .


The justice system most often deals with history. Very recent history of course, but history nonetheless.

But your example is actually very revealing. Because you assume that the person is innocent, you then assume that the evidence was properly excluded. You do not begin by examining the evidence itself and attempting to determine whether it is probative or not, you begin by assuming it was wrong because the defendant is innocent. Well of course if you assume a certain conclusion then it becomes very easy to determine what evidence you will consider.

I'm going to conclude you completely misunderstood me here. Otherwise I would have to conclude your purposefully twisting the point of my statement to your own ends. My point was NOT to expound upon investigatory procedure as you make it out to be. That's silly. My point was to show that exclusionary practices can be an aid in truth finding. Therefore you can't just make an all encompassing statement that they only hinder truth finding.

Its my view that all of the rules are there to promote truth finding, even if they do it indirectly. We want to be very sure before we lock someone up. This includes making sure biases and fraud are not "hindrances" to truth finding.

I just don't agree that the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM is inherently superior to historical studies when it comes to truth determinations. Some of the tools used by the parties certainly has such advantages: personal testimony, DNA testing, etc., but the system itself is not the best way to approach determining "what really happened."

Yes it is. If I have to accept that the tentative maybe's, might be's and could be's of history are at the same level of evidentiary value as that of the court system, then I'd probably be for abolishing the court system altogether. The advantages you alluded to: personal cross-examined testimony, elimination of hearsay, elimination of bias, DNA testing, forensic evidence, thorough credibility evalution, record keeping, and ballistics (if applicable), are all part of that system. You take them out and the system might as well not be there. Even in the old days without all the modern tools the process could still be very meticulous. Witnesses were still cross examined, hard evidence was still gathered and examined from the scene, records were still examined, and credibility was established first hand (or demolished as the case may be). Granted it didn't approach today's level of asurety, and no doubt many more mistakes were made, but that's what makes the neat doodads and procedures all so neat.

I don't think that truth determining is most facilitated by such an adversarial approach. While it is necessary to protect the defendant from the state, it is not the best way to determine "what really happened."

I agree. Its not the "best" way. The best way would be to have thorough scientific evidence in every case.

Well thank you for your opinion, but I don't think it is "far more reasonable." I just believe it is far more skeptical. The two are not the same. Besides, I've always thought the phrase "more reasonable" was somewhat of a contradiction. Something is reasonable or it is not.

Not true. It may be reasonable for me to convict man of murder based on a cross-examined eye witness, his lack of an alibi, and records that he bought a gun recently that matched the calibre of the murder weapon. It will be more reasonable for me to convict him if I find the gun in his house, blood stains of the victim on his clothes and find that his gun fired the bullet. There all kinds of levels to what is reasonable.

Its usually more reasonable to assume that a stranger would steal my money than it would be for a family member to do so. Its more reasonable to assume lights in the sky are from a plane than a UFO. Its more reasonable to assume crop circles are a hoax than aliens from a distance galaxy are crossing light years so they can draw pictures in our wheat.

Ha ha. But of course I never say that all of these things are an impediment to truth determinations. I said that the ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM was a hinderance to truth determinations. Many of the items you listed exist in nonadversarial systems and in arbitrations that take place right here in the U.S.

Yeah but I disagree. This is far too all emcompassing. Even if I grant that certain aspects of the system can be a hindrance, this does not change the primary goal of ascertaining the truth. If a person is innocent - we want to know. If a person is guilty - we want to know that. Hearsay is often excluded because we want precision of testimony. Someone saying that someone else said such and such is not the path to surety. Excluding prejudical testimony eliminates bias. If we start convicting people because of their past mistakes or because we don't like their character we're going off the edge of reliability. Reliability has to do with truth finding.

Me too, but I'm not so arrogant as to believe our system is perfect. Or even so extremely arrogant to believe that the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM is the best way to determine truth.

That's good. Hopefully this isn't a strawman argument, but if it isn't, I'm not sure why you bring it up. I certainly never said it was any of those things.

Whether you would want your life hanging on the standard of arbitration is quite irrelevant to the question of which process most likely arrives at the truth.

I think your enthusiasm to find support for your beliefs and methodology is clouding your judgment. The very reason I would abhore hanging my life on the standard of arbitration is because of the greatly increased possibility that I could be convicted FALSELY. Its has everything to do with what process most likely arrives at the truth.

What you are focusing on is the protection of your rights. You think that they would be maximized in the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM. This just reinforces my point that one of its primary concerns is the rights of the individual. Much more so than argbitration or the inquisitional justice system.

What are the rights of the individual protected against? Ghosts? Intangible spirits? No. They are protected against the potential abuses of the authorities in their zealousness to capture criminals. They are protected against frauds, frames and cover ups. They are protected against the biases of the community towards people they just don't happen to like. They are protected against the possibility of FALSE conviction leading to unjust incarceration or even death.

But the issue is not which system would be most likely to keep you out of jail, but which system arrives at the truth.

Ancient history will always be a science of tentative maybe's and could be's. You can hang your life on that kind of evidence if you want. I'll stick with the court system. The chances of being falsely convicted are far less for me.


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The court system has a standard of truth finding. Ancient historical study has a standard of truth finding. They both have failings. The modern court system remains vastly superior.

It certainly can have access to better evidence, but that does not mean that the system is superior. You are confusing evidence with methodology.


The evidence is better because of the methodology. Your separating the system from the methodology which is part of the system. The process at which it is evaluated is far more stringent and trustworthy than what you find in the historical method. It has to be. Would you really want to hang your life on the "evidence" of textual criticism? How about the thoroughness of our knowledge regarding the beliefs of ancient cultures? Or how about on the subjective conclusions of some archeologist? How about on our assurance of how well we know the character of ancient individuals based on a few ancient writings?


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Yes and more innocent people inevitably died or were sent to prison because of it. That's what happens when your standards (possible or otherwise) are low. More mistakes are made. Scary.

Again you are focusing on the nature of the evidence, not the methodology. The standards weren't any lower, we just have some advances in our understanding of DNA and such. We've also made advances in our understanding of ancient history.


The nature of the evidence is superior because of the methodology. Just like the evidence from science is even better than that because of its methodology.


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Wrong. What high stakes demand is that we be RIGHT. Not bend to supernaturalistic assumptions that tremendously bias people's view of the "evidence". If you want supernaturalistic assumptions to be included then present clear evidence that they should be. All the data (or lack thereof) to date shows they shouldn't be.

The data reflects what you want it to because you have ruled out most of the data that is contrary to your assumption.


Yes I have ruled out claims of the supernatural as evidence to support supernatural claims. This is the only data presented - there is no "most" data about it.

Of course it is reasonable to be skeptical. But is not reasonable to assume that "hard" evidence is inherently superior top "soft" evidence.

You can't be serious. Hard empirical evidence gained from chemistry, biology, metallurgy, materials analysis, medicine, physics, etc. is NOT superior to the soft science of say… textual criticism, biblical dating methods or ancient cultural analysis?? If your going to stand by such an absurd view I suspect our worldviews are way to far apart to even engage in meaningful conversation.

I would be skeptical. But if my investigation confirmed the findings then I would believe. Of course, if you are saying that you would never believe in a resurrection and no amount of evidence or investigation will ever convince you of it, then you will never be convinced of it. Fine. But what you are doing is assuming you are correct and pretending that it is a conclusion. You aren't evaluating the evidence or choosing between different kinds of evidence, you are ignoring all of it.

And what you are doing is erecting straw men to make points. The ONLY evidence that has been presented is the evidence of mere CLAIMS. That is ALL you have. Pretending as though you have some other secret stash of voluminuous evidence waiting in the wings is hardly convincing. Pretending as though investigation of claims will dig up something more substantial than more claims is not a valid argument. Apparently you have investigated these claims. Please enlighten me as to what additional evidence you found other than just more claims.

This is why mere assertion is considered a fallacy. Something should be considered true because someone says its true. People can and do claim all manner of things. At the very least you could dig up some extensive personal history of Paul or one of the Gospel writers so that I could have great confidence in their trustworthiness and safely conclude they were not just religious propogandists promoting their own personal beliefs. It won't be much, but at least it would be a start. I don't know where you'll get such extensive evidence, but fortunately that's not my problem.


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So the ancient jews and romans were actually skeptics regarding the miraculous? I'm not sure I understand you here.

Depends on how you define skeptics. If you define it as those who were committed atheists with natrualistic assumptions that ignored all evidence to the contrary, then no, most of them were not. But precious few people today even accept that viewpoint.


Yeah, having naturalistic assumptions due to a complete lack of hard evidence is a really irrational position. Unlike having supernaturalistic assumptions with nothing but the claims of people, unknown people even, to go on. I can see your point.

I think Richard's article outlines pretty well just how "skeptical" people in those days were.

Did they believe the supernatural was possible? Yes they did. Did they realize, especially the Jews, that it was a departure from the norm? Yes. They knew that virgins did not normally give birth and that the dead did not normally rise from the dead.

Hell, I believe the supernatural is possible. I just don't have any good evidence to believe any such things actually happen. I wonder what great evidence the Jews gathered to believe they actually happened. More of that astounding claim type evidence I'll bet.


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How do you know what the story tellers considered contrary to nature? With all the deities and various beliefs running around, none of these ancients seem very skeptical to me. See Richard's Kooks and Quacks essay - the title of this thread.

We know by examining the writings themselves and by their context. Of course the early Christians knew that people did not normally rise from the dead and that virgins did not normally give birth. Are you being obtuse? It is precisly because these things were so unusual that they believed Jesus was the Son of God. Fantastic claims required fantastic proof, and they believed they had fantastic proof and used that fantastic proof to spread the word.


I reject your assertion regarding what kind of proof they think they did or didn't have. Clearly your in no position to show this. However, it would have been nice if some of this fantastic proof had survived. Then belief wouldn't be such a leap of blind faith.


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Only in generalities. The personal details regarding the actual claimed figures remains very obscure.

I disagree, but then that is what this board is all about. Figuring out what we know and what we can know.


Yep.



[This message has been edited by madmax2976 (edited June 09, 2001).]
 
Old 06-09-2001, 07:34 PM   #33
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
1. I highly question the veracity of supernatural claims because I have no hard evidence that such things even can or do occur. (I have lots of evidence that people make such things up. )
2. Then you attack my position because I don't accept supernatural claims which is the ONLY "evidence" that is presented to me. </font>
Your position has been based on nothing but generalities. Nothing that anyone would listen to a court of law, which you seem to value so highly.

And it is pretty clear. You classify attestations of the supernatural as mere "claims" without specifically addressing them.

You set the rules so that you will win. Any statement supporting a supernatural event is, according to you, merely a "claim."

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Something's wrong here and it sure isn't my position. If this fallacious reasoning is all you have to argue against my position, then it remains rock solid. </font>
Your position is based on your assumption that there is no evidence for the supernatural.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yep. And thoroughly. Not from ancient writings written by virtually unknown people living in superstitious times. When this is the only evidence you have, your on very slippery ground. </font>
We seem to disagree on how much we can learn from history. Because you haven't displayed much knowledge of history, or historical inquiry, I'll stick to my assement rather than abandon it for yours.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Here are some quotes from you:

"Paul was reporting things sensed visually and audibly, at the least. McClaine and Grey's claims are based on mental impressions. Big diff. I have no idea who Sai Baba is but Turton claims he's been discredited, so I gather the evidence was not enough (at least in his eyes). "

"Just more question begging. Perhaps a "mere" claim is not "evidence." But if that mere claim is eyewitness testimony, or made against the interests of the party asserting the claim. Then I don't classify it as "mere" anymore. "

In both these instances you ASSUME the claim of "eywitness" is true and then you use that as a criteria for determining whether a claim is true. This is question begging reasoning. There is no "generalization" going on here. (Though I begin to suspect some serious side stepping) </font>
I have not assumed he is telling the truth, I have conluded that he was telling the truth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I don't consider many aspects of Christianity logical. Certainly it has a history though of lot of its early years are lost to antiquity and rest on much speculation. Cetainly there are philosophies built around it. I don't know off hand what the science part alludes to. </font>
What you think is logical is actually pretty irrelevant to the question. I was pointing out that Christianity is a cumulative case. I don't know that it's veracity can be arrived at only by an evaluation of the historical evidnece.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I define sufficient evidence as prima facie evidence that supports that idea miracles actually occur or have occurred at all. This will have to be convincing enough to overshadow the evidence I have that they do not occur, such as the many charlatans that have been exposed, the miracles that are claimed in contradictory belief systems, my own lack of experiencing of any miracles, and the complete lack of scientific data that they do occur. </font>
I agree there have been charlatans. There have also been many supported claims of miracles that have not been demonstrated to be trickery. Rather, they have been assumed to be incorrect.

Your lack of experiencing miracles is an understandable reason to be skeptical, but I have witnessed miracles so I don't share it. Moreover, this is a rather subjective criteria. Many things have not happened to me that I may still believe in.

As for miracles in contradictory belief systems, that is hardly conclusive. The contradicting parts of the belief systems may be incorrect, miracles may really be happening in one but not the other. Additionally, many religions do leave room for explaining supernatural events in other religions: such as opposing spiritual forces, or diverse spiritual forces, etc. This really is no grounds for an objection.

Finally, there is no "complete lack of scientific data" that miracles don't occur. This is just some loaded terms and assumptions strung together to sound impressive. Of course, I'm not sure what you would think would constitute scientific data of a miracle, so I can't fully respond.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Any defense that miracles are not by nature open to scientific investigation, that claims are all we have to support them, that their nature precludes the kind of evidence I require, will be viewed as ad hoc defenses that support nothing. Its not my problem if the hard data to prove they actually occur doesn't exist or cannot be obtained. </font>
Depends on what you mean. Do I think that science will be able to explain WHY a miracle happened in the way they can explain the way a cell works? Probably not. Do I think it can be reproduced under controlled condictions by certain processes or standards? Probably not.

Does this mean there is no evidence that they occur? Not hardly. It just means you can set the standard so high that it will never be reached. I'm sorry for you on that, but I don't think its fair to classify everyone who doesn't have the same standard as you do as unreasonable.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I don't investigate anything else by assuming it actually occurs before I know that it does, so I don't see why I should give the claim of miracles any special consideration. The idea that I even should consider it is special pleading which is another logical fallacy. </font>
I never said you should investigate it by assuming it happens.

We really don't seem to be communicating.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Nice try. Scientific conclusions have been demonstrated to be incorrect ---- by science! It is a self-correcting exercise, unlike religious belief. In every instance I can think of it is religious belief that has had to give way to scientific discovery. Not the other way around. My "faith" in science is very well founded indeed. No other endeavor has taught us so much about our world or had such profound tangible application upon human life. Not to mention that I am personally able to corroborate much of the findings of science in my everyday life. When I turn on my TV, microwave my dinner, start my car or post messages on the internet. I naturally have less confidence in certain other theories of science like some details of evolutionary theory, the Big Bang, and quantum physics. </font>
Nice try yourself. You switched the subject of the discussion. We were discussing what we can know from history and here you started attacking religous belief as if it were not self correcting. That is erroneous, but not the subject of the discussion.

The study of history, like the study of science, is self-correcting and often times includes and incorporates the tools of science. It is also the subject of new discoveries and rigious peer review.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But this is really beside the point. The point is that you want me to use claims of supernatural happenings as evidence that supernatural happenings actually occur. This is ruling out "most of the evidence" as you say. Not quite. Its ruling out ALL of the evidence, since claims are ALL that are presented. That's the problem. </font>
It most certainly does not rule out ALL of the evidence. That's just your assumption. If you don't want to look into it fine, but don't pretend you have and arrived at some sort of informed conclusion.

And again, if you classify all evidence of miracles as only a "claim," with no probative value, you win the discussion. Of course, we never really had a discussion. You assumed you were right and you convinced yourself.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> First you say you have hard data and then complain because I rule out "attestations". Is this an admission that claims are all you have? You believe such fantastic things based on the mere claims of individuals when you must be aware of the many charlatans that have been exposed. When you must be aware of the miracles in other faiths that are contrary to your own. If you define hard data as the personal claims of inviduals, known or unknown, then your criteria is way way different than mine. Frankly I don't see how your far away from sheer gullibility. </font>
Because you haven't had the personal experiences I have, perhaps?

I never said ALL we have are "claims," but I think you are wrong that presonal attestations can never provide a reasonable and sufficient basis for belief.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I'm waiting for you to present some. So far all I have are claims. Is this all you have in the way of evidence? </font>
Since whatever I present would just be a claim by me, why would you believe it?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Your comparing the evidence for evolution with the evidence for miracles? Are you being serious? I hope not.

Evidence for evolution is a lot more than old rocks. It goes into many aspects of many different sciences. Yet claims are all you seem to have in regards to miracles. The hard sciences find major league evidences. Mere claims with no supporting data (other than more claims) are little league evidences. Claims by persons we have practically no information about are T-ball league evidences. </font>
There is evolution and there is evolution. But yes, I think some of the more grand theories of evolution rest on no greater evidence than what we can learn for history. Regardless, I don't think that all of the cumulative evidence we have for evolution is the minimum standard by which we can reasonably justify a belief.

My point was that the study of history is not just reading what was written. It involves archeology, linguistics, form and textual criticism. It can be informed by physchology and medical science. It's not as simplified as you seem to characterize it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Well here we can find a small hint of agreement perhaps. Your approach towards miracles is not reasonable - in my opinion. Not even close. However I am open to the idea that it is reasonable - to you. This is just fine and perhaps the best we can hope for. I know my approach is very reasonable to me. By your use of the phrase "the only reasonable" approach, I would conclude that you think my approach is somewhat reasonable, or at least that you understand that I view it as reasonable. </font>
I never said you were unreasonable in being skeptical of miracles. I do think, however, that you are narrowminded, and that you are wrong.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The justice system most often deals with history. Very recent history of course, but history nonetheless. </font>
Well if you define history as something that has happened, then I suppose it does. Of course, by that definition everything is history.

In fact, in large part the study of evolution, is the study of history. It is not just trying to figure out certain chemical reactions, but it is trying to figure out what happened.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">

I'm going to conclude you completely misunderstood me here. Otherwise I would have to conclude your purposefully twisting the point of my statement to your own ends. My point was NOT to expound upon investigatory procedure as you make it out to be. That's silly. My point was to show that exclusionary practices can be an aid in truth finding. Therefore you can't just make an all encompassing statement that they only hinder truth finding.

Its my view that all of the rules are there to promote truth finding, even if they do it indirectly. We want to be very sure before we lock someone up. This includes making sure biases and fraud are not "hindrances" to truth finding. </font>
You are being naive and are obviously unfamiliar with the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM. It would be nice to have your cake and eat it to, but it's pretty well understood by even liberals that many of the safeguards in the AJS have an overall effect of diminishing truth finding.

The requirement for a search warrant, for example, very rarely aids in truth finding. It prevents police from searching places that they may have reason to believe contains evidence. The reason we require them to have a search warrant is to protect personal privacy, not because we are afraid they are going to "plant" or contaminate evidence. That is why, for example, when someone has been arrested, you can search them so thoroughly. That is why people on probation have to submit to searches of their places without warrants.

It is rather silly, don't you think, to assume that "all" of the safeguards promote truth finding?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yes it is. If I have to accept that the tentative maybe's, might be's and could be's of history are at the same level of evidentiary value as that of the court system, then I'd probably be for abolishing the court system altogether. The advantages you alluded to: personal cross-examined testimony, elimination of hearsay, elimination of bias, DNA testing, forensic evidence, thorough credibility evalution, record keeping, and ballistics (if applicable), are all part of that system. You take them out and the system might as well not be there. Even in the old days without all the modern tools the process could still be very meticulous. Witnesses were still cross examined, hard evidence was still gathered and examined from the scene, records were still examined, and credibility was established first hand (or demolished as the case may be). Granted it didn't approach today's level of asurety, and no doubt many more mistakes were made, but that's what makes the neat doodads and procedures all so neat. </font>
You are confusing methodology and evidence again. DNA testing is used by the court system, but not a part of it. Ditto ballistics tests and "forensic" evidence. Actuall, 100 years ago, this kind of evidence wasn't availabe.

Certainly assertions of truth that can be verified by DNA testing, ballistics testing, and forensic evidence are stronger than those cases without them. The fact that such evidence is sometimes available and sometimes not available in the AJS is by happenstance. It does not produce these evidences, it allows them (sometimes) to be used. But sometimes the AJS will keep out such highly probabtive evidence. That will never happen in the study of history.

I have faith in DNA testing, etc., but I don't have as much faith in the methodology of the AJS. Nor do I think that the minimum level of "evidence" required to justify belief is that of the AJS. Certainly none of us live our lives like that.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I agree. Its not the "best" way. The best way would be to have thorough scientific evidence in every case. </font>
Yes. Unfortunately, we rarely have a "best way" to determine anything.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Not true. It may be reasonable for me to convict man of murder based on a cross-examined eye witness, his lack of an alibi, and records that he bought a gun recently that matched the calibre of the murder weapon. It will be more reasonable for me to convict him if I find the gun in his house, blood stains of the victim on his clothes and find that his gun fired the bullet. There all kinds of levels to what is reasonable. </font>
I won't quibble because it would just boil down to semantics. Certainly some things are more likely than others, but I tend to think that something is either reasonable or not.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Its usually more reasonable to assume that a stranger would steal my money than it would be for a family member to do so. Its more reasonable to assume lights in the sky are from a plane than a UFO. Its more reasonable to assume crop circles are a hoax than aliens from a distance galaxy are crossing light years so they can draw pictures in our wheat. </font>
I agree that it's best to begin with the proposition that UFOS are not aliens, and that crop circles are hoaxes. But I don't think that our starting point should necessarily be our ending point. Depends on our evaluation of the evidence.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yeah but I disagree. This is far too all emcompassing. Even if I grant that certain aspects of the system can be a hindrance, this does not change the primary goal of ascertaining the truth. If a person is innocent - we want to know. If a person is guilty - we want to know that. Hearsay is often excluded because we want precision of testimony. Someone saying that someone else said such and such is not the path to surety. Excluding prejudical testimony eliminates bias. If we start convicting people because of their past mistakes or because we don't like their character we're going off the edge of reliability. Reliability has to do with truth finding. </font>
There is a saying that speaks volumes about our criminal justice system: better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison. I think our system is pretty good at keeping innocent people out uof prison. I think it is a lot less good at making sure that all guilty persons go to jail.

The system is set up to reflect that value, not to be right X our of X times.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I think your enthusiasm to find support for your beliefs and methodology is clouding your judgment. The very reason I would abhore hanging my life on the standard of arbitration is because of the greatly increased possibility that I could be convicted FALSELY. Its has everything to do with what process most likely arrives at the truth. </font>
Fine, but you are just assuming that arbitration produces less accurate results than the AJS. I don't share this view and neither do most people who sign arbitration clauses.

IMO, after working in the AJS and with arbitrations, the AJS system is better at making sure innocent people go free and arbitrations are better overall at determining what really happened.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> What are the rights of the individual protected against? Ghosts? Intangible spirits? No. They are protected against the potential abuses of the authorities in their zealousness to capture criminals. They are protected against frauds, frames and cover ups. They are protected against the biases of the community towards people they just don't happen to like. They are protected against the possibility of FALSE conviction leading to unjust incarceration or even death. </font>
There is some truth here, as in the case of coerced confessions, but largely this is liberalistic utopianism. For example, as I explained above, search warrants protect from invasions of privacy not from planted evidence.

An even better example is the privilege against self-incrimination. Do you really think that it served to prevent a fraud, frame, or cover-up by OJ's refusing to take the stand and testify? Of course it didn't. But the AJS is committed to protecting certain values, even at the expense of finding the truth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Ancient history will always be a science of tentative maybe's and could be's. You can hang your life on that kind of evidence if you want. I'll stick with the court system. The chances of being falsely convicted are far less for me. </font>
MM, how many times in your life have you made a decision in your life or arrived at a particular belief only after committing it to all of the principles of the AJS? Very few, if any, I'm willing to bet.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The evidence is better because of the methodology. Your separating the system from the methodology which is part of the system. The process at which it is evaluated is far more stringent and trustworthy than what you find in the historical method. It has to be. Would you really want to hang your life on the "evidence" of textual criticism? How about the thoroughness of our knowledge regarding the beliefs of ancient cultures? Or how about on the subjective conclusions of some archeologist? How about on our assurance of how well we know the character of ancient individuals based on a few ancient writings? </font>
The evidence is certainly NOT better because of the methodology. DNA testing is not a result of the AJS's methodology. Neither is ballistics testing, forensic evidence, etc.

And you keep putting yourself into the seat of the criminal defendant. Why is that? That certainly is one of the least biased places to view this from.

As for "hanging my life" on textual criticism and understandings of ancient cultures, it depends on the evidence. I'd rather not hange my life on anything thank you very much.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The nature of the evidence is superior because of the methodology. Just like the evidence from science is even better than that because of its methodology.</font>
I dealt with this above.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yes I have ruled out claims of the supernatural as evidence to support supernatural claims. This is the only data presented - there is no "most" data about it. </font>
Or so you assume.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You can't be serious. Hard empirical evidence gained from chemistry, biology, metallurgy, materials analysis, medicine, physics, etc. is NOT superior to the soft science of say… textual criticism, biblical dating methods or ancient cultural analysis?? If your going to stand by such an absurd view I suspect our worldviews are way to far apart to even engage in meaningful conversation. </font>
Hard evidence certainly can be superior, but so can witness statements. You assume that hard evidence actually speaks for itself. It rarely does. It goes through a human witness who explains it. Did the hard evidence against OJ result in his conviction? Why not? I think it certainly pointed towards his guilt.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And what you are doing is erecting straw men to make points. The ONLY evidence that has been presented is the evidence of mere CLAIMS. That is ALL you have. Pretending as though you have some other secret stash of voluminuous evidence waiting in the wings is hardly convincing. Pretending as though investigation of claims will dig up something more substantial than more claims is not a valid argument. Apparently you have investigated these claims. Please enlighten me as to what additional evidence you found other than just more claims. </font>
You keep switching between abstract and generalized discussion to attacking me on specific proof. I'm happy to discuss specific proof if you want. That is usually what I come here to do. But it's rather disingenuous to shift back and forth.

I was pretending nothing. I was doing with a hypothetical scenario which YOU put forth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">

You 1: So the ancient jews and romans were actually skeptics regarding the miraculous? I'm not sure I understand you here.

Me: Depends on how you define skeptics. If you define it as those who were committed atheists with natrualistic assumptions that ignored all evidence to the contrary, then no, most of them were not. But precious few people today even accept that viewpoint.

You 2: Yeah, having naturalistic assumptions due to a complete lack of hard evidence is a really irrational position. Unlike having supernaturalistic assumptions with nothing but the claims of people, unknown people even, to go on. I can see your point.

I think Richard's article outlines pretty well just how "skeptical" people in those days were. </font>
You asked if they were skeptical of miracles. I suggested that they, especially Jews, believed they were possible but recognized that they were unnatural. I'm sorry they wouldn't be modern day contributors to the SecWeb, but 97% of Americans wouldn't either.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Hell, I believe the supernatural is possible. I just don't have any good evidence to believe any such things actually happen. I wonder what great evidence the Jews gathered to believe they actually happened. More of that astounding claim type evidence I'll bet. </font>
Well, according to the earliest Christians, and at least some early Jews, they saw miracles and someone resurrected from the dead. I'd say they found it convincing.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I reject your assertion regarding what kind of proof they think they did or didn't have. Clearly your in no position to show this. However, it would have been nice if some of this fantastic proof had survived. Then belief wouldn't be such a leap of blind faith. </font>
The fantastic proof was what they saw, heard, and in some cases, did themselves. Must of it was preserved for us in the New Testament.

BTW, the tone is getting less amiable and the topic is close to exhaustion. Plus, I haven't found it all that interesting. How long will we keep this up?

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited June 09, 2001).]
 
Old 06-09-2001, 11:10 PM   #34
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First of all Layman, it may be that the tone is getting less amiable and I really don't want that to happen. Once it does, meaningful communcation seldom, if ever, remains possible.

I'm sorry that you don't find the discussion interesting, but to me understanding just why people believe what they do and why the believe as much as they do is fascinating to a certain degree.

I'm going to drop all the discussion on the justice system at this point. Clearly we have a difference of opinion in several areas here and perhaps it may be due to some miscommunication - I don't know. Clearly I believe that the justice system, regardless of its failings, represents a significantly higher standard of truth finding than do historical studies, particularly ancient historical studies. Clearly you disagree. We'll simply have to agree to disagree on this point.


1. I highly question the veracity of supernatural claims because I have no hard evidence that such things even can or do occur. (I have lots of evidence that people make such things up. )
2. Then you attack my position because I don't accept supernatural claims which is the ONLY "evidence" that is presented to me.

Your position has been based on nothing but generalities. Nothing that anyone would listen to a court of law, which you seem to value so highly. And it is pretty clear. You classify attestations of the supernatural as mere "claims" without specifically addressing them. You set the rules so that you will win. Any statement supporting a supernatural event is, according to you, merely a "claim."


I bewildered why you see this as a "generality" Layman. My statements are completely correct and on point. No evidence has been presented other than "They said so" or "I said so". What is this other great evidence that sits hiding in secret? Is there any video tape? Any hard data at all that shows that miracles actually do occur? Any thorough investigation that has ruled out fraud, deception or delusion?

Your position is based on your assumption that there is no evidence for the supernatural.

My position is based on the FACT that the ONLY evidence for the supernatural that has ever been presented is - "They said so" or "I said so". With no hard data to even begin to accept that miracles actually do happen, this kind of evidence is practically worthless.

We seem to disagree on how much we can learn from history. Because you haven't displayed much knowledge of history, or historical inquiry, I'll stick to my assement rather than abandon it for yours.

That's fine. You obviously can. And likewise I'll stick to my assessment since I believe it is a far better approach at protecting me from accepting falsehoods than yours is.


Here are some quotes from you:

"Paul was reporting things sensed visually and audibly, at the least. McClaine and Grey's claimsare based on mental impressions. Big diff. I have no idea who Sai Baba is but Turton claims he's been discredited, so I gather the evidence was not enough (at least in his eyes). "

"Just more question begging. Perhaps a "mere" claim is not "evidence." But if that mere claim is eyewitness testimony, or made against the interests of the party asserting the claim. Then I don't classify it as "mere" anymore. "

In both these instances you ASSUME the claim of "eywitness" is true and then you use that as acriteria for determining whether a claim is true. This is question begging reasoning. There is no "generalization" going on here. (Though I begin to suspect some serious side stepping)

Layman: I have not assumed he is telling the truth, I have conluded that he was telling the truth.


Yes by first assuming his claim of eyewitness was true and then using eyewitness as a criteria for determining the veracity of his claim.

I agree there have been charlatans. There have also been many supported claims of miracles that have not been demonstrated to be trickery. Rather, they have been assumed to be incorrect. Your lack of experiencing miracles is an understandable reason to be skeptical, but I have witnessed miracles so I don't share it. Moreover, this is a rather subjective criteria. Many things have not happened to me that I may still believe in.

Yes I agree that not every purported miracle has been demonstrated to be trickery. More to the point however, no purported miracles has every been proven to actually have happened either. If just one purported miracle had more going for it than "They said so" or "I don't really know what happened so it must have been a miracle", then we'd have something. But we don't.

As for miracles in contradictory belief systems, that is hardly conclusive. The contradicting parts of the belief systems may be incorrect, miracles may really be happening in one but not the other. Additionally, many religions do leave room for explaining supernatural events in other religions: such as opposing spiritual forces, or diverse spiritual forces, etc. This really is no grounds for an objection.

But then your not really believing in the miracle claim if this is done. You modify the miracle claim to fit your own beliefs rather than accept the claim based on the same evidence you believe is reasonable for you own. The Hindu God , Rama, didn't cause this miracle, Satan did, or an angel did, or Yahweh did it for some inexplicable reason. Allah didn't do this miracle, it was Yahweh who did it for some reason. Ghosts don't really exist, but rather they're demons or something, because Christianty doesn't incorporate dead spirits walking about the earth haunting houses. They're either in heaven or hell. Shirley McClaine wasn't reincarnated because that's not what happens to souls according to christian beliefs. All other miracles are either denied outright or modified to "fit" into the Christian belief system as the believer requires it.

Finally, there is no "complete lack of scientific data" that miracles don't occur. This is just some loaded terms and assumptions strung together to sound impressive. Of course, I'm not sure what you would think would constitute scientific data of a miracle, so I can't fully respond.

The reason it sounds impressive is because its completely true. But if you want to present scientific data, any scientific data, that miracles can or actually do occur, I am waiting eagerly. You don't even have to prove any specific miracle. Just give me prima facie evidence that they actually do occur at all.

Depends on what you mean. Do I think that science will be able to explain WHY a miracle happened in the way they can explain the way a cell works? Probably not. Do I think it can be reproduced under controlled condictions by certain processes or standards? Probably not.

The "why" comes later. Right now I'm just looking for reasonable evidence that they do. A demonstration of miraculous powers would be good evidence. It could be done under strict conditions to rule out the possibility of fraud. We all know how good some magicians are at creating illusions and so clearly we have to rule out this possibility.

Does this mean there is no evidence that they occur? Not hardly. It just means you can set the standard so high that it will never be reached. I'm sorry for you on that, but I don't think its fair to classify everyone who doesn't have the same standard as you do as unreasonable.

The standard of acceptance is no higher than it is for the typical facts of life I accept everyday. If someone claims you can put some funny smelling liquid into a mechanical contraption and it'll be able to hurdle me along the highway at high speeds, I can verify it. If someone tells me I can flip on a switch and create artificial light in my home, I can verify it. If someone says I can put my food in a large box with doors and it'll keep cold, I can verify it. If someone says I can put my food in a small box, hit some buttons and it'll come out hot, I can verify it. If someone claims that complex electronic signals can be sent out over wires or space and reassembled to create meaningful pictures in my home, I can verify it.

With all these things and a great many more, I can obtain prima facie evidence that they are all true and possible. THEN I can go and find out some other facts about those things. Like if I hit a telephone pole at high speed while in the mechanical contraption I will most likely be seriously injured or even killed.

Your asking me to treat the subject of miracles differently. If presented with a "they said so", I'm supposed to go out and somehow do research on the purported miracle claim, even though I have no knowledge that such things can even occur. There will be no tape recordings to view, no scientific data that can be reviewed that was observed and recorded by trained scientists who can rule out fraud. The only thing I will find is more of "They said so" or "I saw it" or "I can't explain it".

Remember, this is NOT an argument against assuming any particular miracle claim is true or not true. It is an argument that I have no prima facie evidence that they actually can or do occur - period. (Sufficient evidence to overcome the reasons I have to believe they don't occur. ) Give me evidence that confirms that they can and do happen, then I can bother to go out and verify or invalidate all the specific miracle claims that the world has to offer.

It most certainly does not rule out ALL of the evidence. That's just your assumption. If you don't want to look into it fine, but don't pretend you have and arrived at some sort of informed conclusion. And again, if you classify all evidence of miracles as only a "claim," with no probative value, you win the discussion. Of course, we never really had a discussion. You assumed you were right and you convinced yourself.

I don't have to pretend anything. Present me with ANY evidence that does not resolve down to "They said so" or "I said so". I'll be happy to evaluate it. Perhaps you'll come up with something like, "They said so and they are trustworthy so you should believe them." Sorry, but it'll take more than that as well.

I never said ALL we have are "claims," but I think you are wrong that presonal attestations can never provide a reasonable and sufficient basis for belief.

I agree that would be a wrong position. I believe personal attestations can provide a reasonable basis for belief providing the nature of the claim is itself reasonable. That you don't take into account the fantastic nature of miracle claims and fully recognize the grave problems in accepting fantastic claims based solely on personal testimony is bewlidering to me.



I'm waiting for you to present some. So far all I have are claims. Is this all you have in the way of evidence?

Since whatever I present would just be a claim by me, why would you believe it?


In other words there is no hard data recorded by experts under strict test conditions to rule out the much higher possibilities of fraud or delusion. In other words there is no data that you can present that I can go research for myself that would lend veracity to people's claims.

My point was that the study of history is not just reading what was written. It involves archeology,
linguistics, form and textual criticism. It can be informed by physchology and medical science. It's not as simplified as you seem to characterize it.


Hec its not simple at all. Its very complex. Its also very open to mistakes due to the high degree of incompleteness of the evidence and the subjectivity of many of the conclusions that are made.

I never said you were unreasonable in being skeptical of miracles. I do think, however, that you are narrowminded, and that you are wrong.

I'm justified "and" I'm narrowminded? This seems contradictory. I happen to think you are mistaken as well and that your approach is far too gullible and open to the acceptance of falsehoods.

I won't quibble because it would just boil down to semantics. Certainly some things are more likely than others, but I tend to think that something is either reasonable or not.

This is a contradiction. If some things are "more likely" than others, then it naturally follows that some things are more reasonable to believe than others.

You asked if they were skeptical of miracles. I suggested that they, especially Jews, believed they were possible but recognized that they were unnatural. I'm sorry they wouldn't be modern day contributors to the SecWeb, but 97% of Americans wouldn't either.

The question is whether they were skeptical of miracles, not what they thought of their nature. A claim of a miracle from someone who has already assumed miracles can and do occur has extremely little "probative" value to me. Particularly without hard evidence to back them up.

Well, according to the earliest Christians, and at least some early Jews, they saw miracles and someone resurrected from the dead. I'd say they found it convincing.

People even today find many fantastic things "convincing". Shirley McClaine seems very "convinced" she was reincarnated. This hardly provides any substantive evidence that she actually was reincarnated. Many of those in John Greys audience are often "convinced" he's actually talking with the dead. This provides no reliable evidence to me that he actually does so. Many of the Christians at meetings where Benny Hinn appears are apparently convinced he's actually healing people when he grabs their faces and shoves them backwards. He's just con artist in a long line of con artists to me.

The fantastic proof was what they saw, heard, and in some cases, did themselves. Must of it was preserved for us in the New Testament.

"Fantastic proof" in the form of a story that claims they saw, heard and did them themselves? If this is what you call "fantastic" proof, its no wonder we're having a hard time communicating or relating to each others viewpoint.

BTW, the tone is getting less amiable and the topic is close to exhaustion. Plus, I haven't found it all that interesting. How long will we keep this up?

Again, I'm sorry you don't find it interesting. I'll let you have the last word on this unless you ask me a direct question in your next post.
 
Old 06-10-2001, 06:04 PM   #35
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I'm still disappointed at the lack of critical discussion of Richard Carrier's article: http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...ier/kooks.html

IMO, RC makes an *excellent* case that there were numerous self-styled miracle-workers and prophets in the Roman Empire, meaning that Jesus Christ was not alone.

As Bertrand Russell had noted, the early theologian Origen had asked why accept stories like those of Troy and of Romulus and Remus, but not those of the Bible? The position of the skeptics here, including myself, is a very closely related one: if one rejects miracles outside of the Bible, why reject those and not those of the Bible?
 
Old 06-11-2001, 11:07 AM   #36
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
As for Appolonius, there is much more evidence for Jesus' miracles than his. Moreover, since the source for most of Appolonius' miracle working post-dates the Christian Gospels there is good reason to suspect a Christian to Pagan influence.</font>
This argument fails: we have inscriptions carved soon after the events, commissioned by the miraculous beneficiaries, dating centuries before Jesus, attesting to the miracles of Apollonius. We have no such evidence for any miracles of Jesus. Indeed, even Paul fails to mention any of his miracles.

Suggesting "Christian-Pagan" influence also misses the point of the essay (making me wonder if you really even read it): the point is everyone bought these stories everywhere, hook, line, and sinker. In such an age of credulity, we cannot really trust testimony about the miraculous in the way we would like.

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Old 06-11-2001, 11:14 AM   #37
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SecWebLurker:
Nowhere in my response to you do I say that your works are not worth rebutting.
</font>
You spend an entire paragraph right from the start explaining why Christians haven’t bothered submitting or posting rebuttals to my essays. Playing word games now?

RC: ...If you disagree with my estimates, make your own...

SWL: This is just a blatant dodge to my specific challenges of your probability estimates and your faulty reasoning in that section of my response.


And how clever of you to blatantly dodge what I asked of all readers first. My estimates of probability were from the start admitted as subjective estimates, my opinions, nothing more. The proper response for anyone who thinks my opinions are wrong is to insert their own opinions and see what the outcome is exactly as I tell all readers to do. Your estimates (whatever they are--unlike me, you won’t commit to any) are based on your own personal life experiences, just as mine are.

And I don’t see any relevant challenge on the facts or any new facts from you. Take a case in point: you say that “What is this 75% probability based on? Richard's imagination.” Which I never denied--I admit this from the start in that essay--so what is this objecting to? Then you say “Are such odds "necessary" for Pilate to express amazement at Jesus' early leave? Not at all. Pilate could simply be amazed at Jesus' expiration within such a short period of that day, not necessarily the fact that Jesus expired in one day, so that observation doesn't help Carrier's bogus probability in the least.” This has no bearing whatever on the argument. Jesus was not up a whole day, only a few hours, and Pilate is amazed, as you agree. What does that, then, make the odds of surviving a few hours on the cross? I say 75% (which I later abandon for 33%--funny how you seem ignorant of that fact). You say the odds are different. Okay. You tell me. If Pilate is surprised that Jesus dies after the few hours he was up, what odds of survival would that imply, so as to justify his amazement? Don’t dodge the question.

SWL: Because there is NOTHING in the passage that clues us in as to what Peter thought.

So you think Peter could have thought then that he would not do what Jesus expected of his followers?

SWL: Yes, his body is laid on spices and aromatics compounded into an ointment. That is close enough.

Sorry. That is not what the passage says. And it is not what John says was done for Jesus. Therefore, as I said, it is irrelevant to my statement that Jews did not pack bodies in spices.

SWL: I did read it. Clearly spices are involved in the burial.

Which no statement of mine ever denies.

RC: Semahot 8:6 never mentions spices (and is only about kings again anyway).

SWL: Brown, Death of the Messiah p. 1260, says it refers to spices being burned for Rabban Gamaliel (not a king).


Well, here’s an example of why you should do real research. The passage never mentions what was burned, and only concerns whether it was appropriate to light fires in honor of kings. Again, this has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews packing bodies in spices.

Let’s look at why you cited these passages:

"Indeed, packing bodies in spices was not a Jewish practice, contrary to John's assertion that it was--instead, it was Egyptian..."

This is false.


As proof of your assertion that my statement was false, you cite these three passages, none of which are relevant: none mention “packing bodies in spices,” one doesn’t even mention spices at all. You clearly did not read them or else you would not have cited them as evidence against my statement--they have no bearing whatever on my statement! Worse, you didn’t even do the most basic, simple thing: you didn’t look up “burial” in any standard reference, like the Dictionary of Judaism or the Encyclopedia Judaica. Instead you went on acting all knowledgeable about something you didn’t even have the seriousness to look up at the most basic level. I caught you. Now you are weaselling. Why not just be a man and admit you were wrong?

Further, on p. 1261, Brown writes: "So far as we can tell for this period, a customary honorable burial would have involved washing the body, anointing with oil, and/or placing spices within the wrappings of the body, [50] and clothing it."

With all due respect to Brown, he’s wrong about one thing: the placing of spices in the wrappings. We have no evidence of that, just as I said. Despite having comprehensive texts on Jewish burial practices, it never is mentioned anywhere but John. Moreover, it would seem contrary to Jewish concepts of burial. The dead were expected to rise in the garb they were buried in, and spiced wraps would seem contrary to this very idea. The Judaica mention clothing the dead, and placing a simple shroud over them, nothing more.

Notice Brown’s source is no ancient evidence at all, but another scholar’s speculations about John, not about what was Jewish practice. Liebowitz gives no hint of having really investigated it--he simply takes John’s word. In fact, he makes a serious mistake that reveals he is unfamiliar with Jewish practices: “The purpose of the spices was to offset the stench of corruption and perhaps even to retard the decomposition.” But Jews practiced secondary burial: they did not want to retard decomposition, but accelerate it. The sooner the flesh rotted from the bones the better. As the Dictionary of Judaism says “ in light of the requirement that the body return to dust, embalming to prevent decay or improve the corpse’s appearance is forbidden.” That is why you should consult primary sources on such things. Instead, Semahot, Tobit, and the Testament of Job, which go into burial practices in detail, make no mention of spices used in this way. To the contrary, they emphasize using clean shrouds of plain linen. See Bloch-Smith, Judahite Burial Practices (1992).

On the same page, Brown notes that aroma can simply be a general term meant to refer to an "oil made by fragrant spices", as anointing oils often were.

Yet we are talking about c. 100 Ibs. of myrrh and aloe (which if you add oil is even heavier), and even if a fraction was used, this is not mentioned in any ancient source about Jewish burial practices. It defies the very notion of the clean linen shroud. Moreover, you have apparently forgotten the context of my original statement about spice packing, or else you would not have retreated to this argument which would just as well make my case against McDowell's claim that the spices would kill Jesus!

SWL: Firstly, whether or not the res. body is spiritual or material (actually, spiritual is not necessarily immaterial!), 1 Cor. 15 and Philipians 3:21 seem to imply that it has continuity with the old one.

Yes: Paul specifically says you have both a psychic and a pneumatic being at conception and throughout life, but that only the pneumatic part inherits heaven, while flesh, “the dust of adam” cannot.

SWL: Good point, but still - there is nothing in Paul's statement asserting that the others' experiences were of similar in 'type' to his own. Nothing...And since he's trying to put himself on par with the other apostles, I wouldn't expect him to say "Oh, wait...but mine was a bit more visionary".

To the contrary, this would have to be common knowledge--he would have to write an apologetic for this if his experience differed from theirs in any way that could call his as lesser, as he apologizes for his experience being different in the sense of late. Galatians instead gives us a man who acts as if it were accepted that visions are superior to consultations in the flesh. Why, then, does he not use this apologetic in 1 Cor. 15? The best explanation: the appearances were the same all around.

But let’s take a step back here: you started by saying my Kooks and Quacks essay was shoddy scholarship, “puerile dreck.” Now, you seem obsessed instead with debating wholly unrelated issues. You disagree in the end with my interpretation of the evidence in completely different essays, but you present no new facts nor refute any of my own facts. I really don’t get what you are at. Sure, you don’t have to be convinced by my scholarship, but what about it is “shoddy” or “puerile”?




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Old 06-12-2001, 09:13 AM   #38
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Ya know, it is when I see such sloppy statements offered by a grad student that purports to know something about ancient history that I am left to wonder what is going on here.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Richard Carrier:

This argument fails: we have inscriptions carved soon after the events, commissioned by the miraculous beneficiaries, dating centuries before Jesus, attesting to the miracles of Apollonius.</font>


Which Apollonius is Richard talking about? Layman is referring to one Apollonius of Tyana, the same guy mentioned in Richard's essays.

He lived in the second half of the 1st Century AD. This means that IF we have inscriptions talking about the man's miraculous works dating to "centuries before Jesus", then these inscriptions are talking about the works of someone else. Who is that exactly? I, for one, would like to know.

And as for what we know about the life of this Apollonius, it was recorded in the 3rd Century by Philostratus at the request of the empress Julia Domna.

From Britannica.com

Apollonius of Tyana a Neo-Pythagorean who became a mythical hero during the time of the Roman Empire. Empress Julia Domna instructed the writer Philostratus to write a biography of Apollonius, and it is speculated that her motive for doing so stemmed from her desire to counteract the influence of Christianity on Roman civilization. The biography portrays a figure much like Christ in temperament and power and claims that Apollonius performed certain miracles. It is believed that most of the biography is based more on fiction than fact. Many of the pagans in the Roman Empire believed what was said in this work, and it kindled religious feeling in many of them. To honour and worship Apollonius, they erected shrines and other memorials.

And what do scholars say about the attestation of the works of this Apollonius?

"One of the most famous in this succession of Pythagorean philosophers was a man named Apollonius, of the Greek city of Tyana in the Province of Cappadocia, in what is today eastern Turkey. Although he lived in the second half of the first century A.D., we have little direct information about Apollonius, except for this biography by Philostratus of Lemnos, written much later, i.e., around A.D. 218.
When the emperor Caracalla was on his way to capture the territories to the East, he stopped at Tyana to pay tribute to 'the divine Apollonius,' even donating the funds to build a temple to him there. And Caracalla's mother, Julia Domna, commissioned one of the professional writers in her entourage to publish a fitting account of Apollonius' life. "
[David R. Cartlidge (Editor), David L. Dungan (Editor), Documents for the Study of the Gospels, (Fortress: 1994[2nd ed]) pg. 208]


Once again, I would like to ask Richard where he gets his information, and who it is talking about.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> We have no such evidence for any miracles of Jesus. Indeed, even Paul fails to mention any of his miracles.</font>
You mean (when talking about Paul) except for the Resurrection, right Richard?

As for evidence to support Jesus' healings, we have four Gospels all written within 40-60 years of his death, all dating to well before the 218AD writings about Apollonius. Few people need to try to guess as to which set of writings depended on the other.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">{Snip the stuff on credulity}</font>
Given that Richard almost certainly wants us to believe his arguments hook line and sinker, he apparently does not believe that the level of human credulity has really sunk all that much in modern times (or at least not amongst sceptics on discussion boards).

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited June 12, 2001).]
 
Old 06-12-2001, 09:28 AM   #39
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Richard Carrier:
This argument fails: we have inscriptions carved soon after the events, commissioned by the miraculous beneficiaries, dating centuries before Jesus, attesting to the miracles of Apollonius. We have no such evidence for any miracles of Jesus. Indeed, even Paul fails to mention any of his miracles. </font>
I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, because I truly believe you are more knowledgeable about this subject than I am. But how can we have inscriptions from "centuries before Jesus" that attest to the miracles of Apollonius when he wasn't born until after Jesus?

Just to make sure I wasn't relying on biased Christian sources, I rechecked your article and you seemed to admit that he wasn't born until the first century CE. The first, Apollonius of Tyana, is often called the "pagan Christ," since he also lived during the first century...."

Are talking about another Apollonius or did these inscriptions precede the birth of the subject being described by several centuries? THAT would impress me.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Suggesting "Christian-Pagan" influence also misses the point of the essay (making me wonder if you really even read it): the point is everyone bought these stories everywhere, hook, line, and sinker. In such an age of credulity, we cannot really trust testimony about the miraculous in the way we would like. </font>
No wonder you can't seem to have an amiable discussion with a theist. You start the discussion by accusing them of lying.

I had read your article, but I made it clear that some time had passed:

I read it a while back.

I didn't say that the focus of your article was to prove the pagan copycat theory. I was quite pointed in saying that the evidence for Jesus' miracles was superior to that of Apolloniuus. I did add, however, that there was no evidence that the early Christians modeled Jesus on Apollonius. Many skeptics have made this argument and only recently one started a discussion on this topic (
http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f.../000546.html). Anyway, this is what I stated:

As for Appolonius, there is much more evidence for Jesus' miracles than his. Moreover, since the source for most of Appolonius' miracle working post-dates the Christian Gospels there is good reason to suspect a Christian to Pagan influence.

 
Old 06-12-2001, 09:41 AM   #40
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As for evidence to support Jesus' healings, we have four Gospels all written within 40-60 years of his death, all dating to well before the 218AD writings about Apollonius. Few people need to try to guess as to which set of writings depended on the other. </font>
And for those that believe in the Q hypothesis, it references Jesus' healings and raising of the dead. It is also dated as early as Paul's letters.

Maybe RC didn't mention that because he doesn't believe in Q?

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited June 12, 2001).]
 
 

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