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Old 06-06-2001, 04:01 AM   #1
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Red face "Kooks and Quacks of the Sec Web" - A Response to Richard Carrier

Hey folks,

Sorry about the delay. Had a long tiresome weekend and have been busy since.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL:
Well, I really don't have the time to do point-by-point responses to Carrier's articles right now (but perhaps in the future).

RC: Funny how all my critics say this. Even Ryan Renn, the only Christian on the whole internet willing to write a rebuttal to one of my essays, says this, even though I have rewritten my essay in resonse to his and even thanked him.</font>
SWL: Well, I can't answer for Ryan Renn but, concerning my own reasons for not yet offering a point-by-point response to "Kooks and Quacks...", I simply haven't had time since I stated that I would do so a mere week or two ago. Hold your horsemen. As far as Christians in general not rebutting any of your essays, that's probably because you basically don't have much up that Christians would be interested in - some (mostly subjective) silliness about the resurrection (which we'll discuss), some summaries and reviews of books by others, some old arguments - the basics of which are widely known and addressed by various sites all over the web and in various popular and scholarly books, and some refutations of bad apologetic arguments that any Christian intelligent enough not to be intimidated by you would probably agree with.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: But, I'll note quickly - anyone who thinks a 2% historical probability makes for a 'very good chance' that an event occured as Carrier does in his recent article on the death of Jesus, is IMO wacky.

RC: It is funny how all my critics misquote me. Never mind that I never ever use the words “very good chance” in such a connection (I am not aware of having ever used it in any of my essays). In Doctors Pronounce Jesus Dead! I state “Even I agree with the conclusion that Jesus probably died on the cross” and in Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story I say point blank “I do not believe Jesus survived.” But the fact that there was a 0.7% chance that Christianity began from Jesus surviving the cross does mean this is ”still well too high to lead anyone to conclude that a miracle had to have happened” since things of such low probability do happen. It seems that it is your reading that is sloppy, not my work.</font>
SWL: Let's see if we can't resolve this. First - Carrier accuses me of being ignorant of the Bible later in this post, so I guess I should point out that he seems to be a bit ignorant of his own writings. Indeed, my statement was not a "misquote" in the sense that I quoted him as saying something he did not say (though we'll see whether the misunderstanding is due to me taking his quote out of context or Carrier being sloppy/misleading). In the final paragraph of "Doctors Pronounce Jesus Dead!", Carrier writes (and I quoted directly via cutpaste):

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The ultimate embarassment is that Edwards contradicts himself on the very conclusion he claims to reach. Though he asserts in the end that "the evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side" he earlier asserted that everything Jesus underwent was typical of all crucifixion victims and that their "length of survival generally ranged from three or four hours to three or four days," which means Jesus had a very good chance of being alive when he was taken down: for our only sources tell us he was on the cross only three or four hours, whereas Edwards says, in effect, that the average length of survival was two days!</font>
Now, Carrier here seems to be affirming that Edward's data (which he seems to agree with), does indeed entail that there is a "very good chance" that Jesus survived. This is a great note to conclude a Sec Web article on. Those very words, left uncontested, warm the heart of Sec Web readers everywhere I'm sure. And given that Carrier has elsewhere in this post stated that there is a 2% chance that Jesus survived, he seems to be calling a 2% chance of survival a "very good chance". But of course, Carrier will probably say he intended this to mean 'Based on what Edwards has said alone, this means Jesus had a very good chance of being alive'. The problem with this is that Carrier's views on the death of Jesus are so muddled that we find numerous statements that lead us to believe he does indeed think there is a 'very good chance' that Jesus survived. Let's have a look...

In section 2. of "Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story" [http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/2.html], Carrier writes:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"we have no reliable evidence that Jesus died, and we certainly have none whatseover that he survived by some magical kind of stasis: no one observed the corpse of Jesus while it lay in the tomb, and no doctors examined him, on the cross or off it."</font>
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Indeed, not only do we have no way of really knowing that Jesus died on the cross...there is an abundance of evidence which throws suspicion on the claim that he did.</font>
Now, I'm sure its easy to see why I take it to be Carrier's opinion that there is a "very good chance" that Jesus survived, and not just something said solely in the context of Edward's limited analysis. But let us suppose this is not what Carrier intended and leave the quibbling about who's to blame for this misunderstanding - him or me - aside. Carrier still has problems. How is it that the "historical" conclusion that there is a 98% probability that Jesus died can be justified when, according to Carrier, we have "no reliable evidence" FOR such a claim, and "Indeed...there is an abundance of evidence which throws suspicion on the claim.!" If Carrier denies he meant his 2% chance of Jesus' survival to be interpreted as a "very good chance", then he's got even more explaining to do as concerns his sloppiness. For someone posing as an historian to state that a claim for which there is no good evidence, and much good evidence that should lead us to suspicion, is 98% likely, is just absurd. What's that based on? Richard's spider-sense? He just has a feeling that its 98% likely that Jesus died? We must conclude, as Richard does for Edwards, "How, then, does he justify his conclusion? He doesn't. Shoddy work indeed."

Carrier's probability estimates are pure bunk. In section 2b., Carrier writes:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"If we imagine that even as few as 75% of all victims survived on the cross more than a day (at least such odds are necessary for Pilate to express amazement at Jesus' early demise in Mark 15.44), then already we have a 75% chance that Jesus did not die on the cross."[http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/2b.html]</font>
Looks like Richard's spider-sense is tingling again. What is this 75% probability based on? Richard's imagination. 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.

In the same section, Carrier makes the seemingly monopolistic claim that "All victims of crucifixion were routinely scourged, and frequently tortured, beforehand, and thus if people regularly survived for days, this means they regularly survived for days despite their additional scourging and torture."

First - if you literally mean "all", as opposed to "more or less all", as the use of "routinely" might imply, can we see evidence that they "all" were? Was this the case with the mass crucifixions that Josephus reports? Can we see some documentation? Your own statement in the last paragraph of the same section seems to preclude such knowledge:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Josephus himself witnessed three crucified people taken down, and one survived. However, the passage says nothing about what wounds the victims received before being crucified."</font>
If you meant it in the sense of "more or less all" (though I must say that's a confusing way to write it - you should just subtract the word "all"), can we see evidence to the effect that even MOST of them were? And if you cannot produce evidence that either "all" or MOST were, we obviously wouldn't be in a position to know if those who survived for days "regularly survived...despite their additional scourging and torture". We wouldn't have a good enough grasp of which long-term survivors were/weren't scourged/tortured, other than in specific instances, and hence couldn't make such generalizations.

I'd be interested to see whether or not you can present evidence for one single crucifixion victim, who was scourged and/or tortured, having survived "for days" (not that this will bolster your claim as concerns regular occurence in any way).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: He also makes an argument to the effect that: "the obvious symbolism of a stranger named Simon bearing the cross of Christ instead of Simon the disciple who thought he would bear that cross (8:34), is too elegant to be a historical fact)." But actually, John 8:34 says nothing of the sort concerning Simon.

RC: Funny how my critics get so easily confused. I say this in Doctors Pronounce Jesus Dead! (repeating, incidentally, MacDonald’s observation of the same fact, cf. my Review of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark) in a sentence about the Gospel of Mark, not John. Apparently, my critics are so ignorant of the Bible that they don’t even know that this detail is in there! To be fair, I can see how the confusion arose: in a sentence about Mark I end with a parenthetical comment about Mark that has a comma-delineated aside about John. I just fixed that, so the reading and Bible challenged won’t stick their feet in their mouth over this again.</font>
SWL: Actually, I DID know this detail was there. I just also knew that it was NOT in the Gospel of John, as you reported it. LOL, a comma-delineated aside? Yeah, but as you ALREADY know, since you've now gone back and corrected it, that wasn't the problem, Richard. The problem was that, as I quote you directly via cutpaste, you cited Mark simply as "(8:34)" as opposed to (Mark 8:34), right after citing a passage in John, when ommitting the name of the book is a standard method of citation when one is referencing a chapter/verse of that book most recently mentioned. I'll set the probability at 40% that you actually thought the passage was from John, and 40% that you purposely ommitted the name of the Gospel of Mark, presenting it as if it were all in John, to create the illusion of relevance as concerns this alleged "elegance", and 20% that it was just a typo. Indeed it seems quite odd that John would so elegantly invoke the theme of a scene not in his own gospel. Would you care to tell me what you think his purpose is in doing this?

And now that you've cited the passage properly, please do correct your error in interpreting it. There's nothing in Mark 8:34 that says Peter "thought he would bear that cross" at all! In fact, Jesus is talking to ALL his disciples AND the crowds. More sloppiness from Carrier.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: There are many more areas where I think Carrier is sloppy

RC: Do tell. You are not impressing me with your examples so far.</font>
SWL: I think I've given you enough to respond to for now. But, since you're anxious, here's another scoopful of slop, this time from section 2e. of your essay. You write:

"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. See 2 Chron 16:14, Tractate Semahot 8:6, Josephus Ant. 17.8.1 199...

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: his erroneous claims as concerns a necessary (or even probable) contradiction between an alleged resurrection body composed of pneuma and the physical manifestations in the Gospels fails miserably in light of the fact that angelic beings, whose primary mode of existence was pneumatic

RC: Sources please. You call me sloppy, yet at least I supply the sources of my claims about antiquity.</font>
SWL: And so do I.

"And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." (Heb 1:7)

"But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"(Heb 1:13-14)

As the Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion puts it, "it is significant that with the exception of certain postexilic references, these heavenly spirits are depicted in the Bible as lacking individuality, personal names, and hierarchical rank. In the course of their duties, they assume many forms, the shape varying with their task. Most often, especially in the earlier narratives, they appear as human beings..."[R. J. Swi Werblowsky & Geoffrey Wigoder (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) p. 48.]

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: were concieved of as indistinguishable from humans time after time in manifestation on earth in Jewish tradition.

RC: I don’t see what this has to do with 1 Cor. 15. If Paul conceived of the resurrected body as angelic, he would say so. Yet never once does he refer to such an analogy. No one does. Instead, he says flesh cannot inherit the kingdom (and elsewhere that the body of Christ is now the Church).</font>
SWL: You miss the point which was that it is perfectly intelligible within Judaism for a being whose primary mode of existence is pneumatic, to be manifested in a human form, as Jesus is in Luke. As far as "no one" mentioning the angelic analogy, that is not entirely clear. See Mark 12:25 which Chilton and Ludemann, if I remember correctly, both interpret as refering to a resurrection body that is spiritual - analgous to that of angels. See the Lukan parallel in which the comparison is strengthened, and Luke's recounting of the post-resurrection Jesus' typically angelic function of manifesting to prepare a meal.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: And also the fact that Luke himself sees no contradiction between Paul's vision and his physical resurrection appearance accounts shows that he himself accepts that Christ can manifest in different forms post-res.

RC: Nor did Luke see any problem with contradicting himself all three times he describes Paul’s vision, none of which fit Paul’s circumstances as Paul himself relates in Galatians.</font>
SWL: All of which is pretty much irrelevant to the inherent unlikelihood that Luke, someone who has a tendancy to objectify the spiritual, would have recorded Paul's vision in the manner he did, had he not been able to accept Jesus' ability to manifest in different forms post-resurrection. For Jesus to even be popping up here and there (often unrecognizable at first) itself seems to presuppose different modes of manifestation.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">RC: Luke is trying to sew together disparate traditions,</font>
SWL: Actually, there are other equally plausible explanations for the variation there. See James D. G. Dunn's thesis on orality for instance:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/files/Articles%20for%20Review/JesusInOral Memory.htm

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">RC: The principal point is that Paul himself refers to his experience as identical to the experiences of Peter and others.</font>
SWL: No, Paul doesn't do anything of the sort.

According to Crossan, "Paul needs, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, to equate his own experience with that of the preceding apostles. To equate, that is, its validity and legitimacy but not necessarily its mode or manner. Jesus was revealed to all of them, but Paul's own entranced revelation should not be presumed to be the model for all others."[John Dominic Crossan, "Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography" (San Francisco: Harper, 1994], p. 169]

Blomberg writes:

"…simply listing those people to whom Jesus appeared does not imply an identical experience on the part of everyone on the list. The gospels themselves prove that it is hard to group all of Jesus' appearances into one uniform category; at times he could eat, drink and be touched, while at other times he seemed to be able to vanish and materialize again without explanation."[Craig L. Blomberg, "The Historical Reliability of the Gospels"(England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987) p. 109]

Wenham states that "The fact that Paul includes himself in the list of witnesses to the resurrection does not prove that he regarded his experience as identical in character to that of the earlier witnesses." [David Wenham, "Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?" (Michigan: Eerdman's Pub. Co., 1995) p. 369]

Why is Paul lumping himself in with the other witnesses to the resurrection? According to Craig, "Paul's detractors doubted or denied his apostleship (I Cor 9. 1-2; II Cor 11.5; 12.11) and his having seen Christ would be an important argument in his favor (Gal 1.1, 11-12, 15-16; I Cor 9. 1-2; 15.8-9)… His opponents might tend to dismiss Paul's experience as a mere subjective vision, not a real appearance, and so Paul is anxious to include himself with the other apostles as a recipient of a genuine, objective appearance of the risen Lord."[William L. Craig,"The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus," in Gospel Perspectives I, pp. 47-74. Edited by R.T. France and D. Wenham. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1980.]

And clearly Paul recognizes that his "seeing" the risen Christ is an anomaly. His own appearance account was obviously tacked on to the tradition he 'received' and he acknowledges that he is "untimely born". He refers to himself as "the least of the apostles" who does not "even deserve to be called an apostle".

Concerning verse 8, "Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.", N.T. Wright interprets this passage as arguing precisely against your assertion of similarity of experience:

"This is a violent image, invoking the idea of a Caesarian section, in which a baby is ripped from the womb, born before it was ready, blinking in shock at the sudden light, scarcely able to breathe in this new world. We detect here not simply a touch of autobiography as Paul reflects on what it had felt like on the Damascus Road. We trace a clear sense that Paul knew that what had happened to him was precisely not like what had happened to others."[N.T. Wright, "The Challenge of Jesus" (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999) p.141.]

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">RC: Then there are droves and droves of circumstantial evidence that further bolster the point: the Jesus that was risen was not the fleshly body that was buried, but a life-giving soul. He was not made of dust like Adam, but of spirit: Paul himself says this. See What Do 'Pneumatikos' and 'Psychikos' Mean? and Could the Original Gospel Have Been of a Spiritual Rather Than a Physical Resurrection? The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, and can hardly be matched by a single irrelevant and unsourced assertion that angels were regarded as “made of pneuma, too.”</font>
SWL: That assertion is no longer unsourced and it completely undercuts your attempt to point out a contradiction between the more physical res. appearances and those seemingly more pneumatic and/or an allegedly ultimately pneumatic resurrection body. But as concerns your arguments for a pneumatic resurrection body, I don't find them overwhelming. I've seen them all already and I've seen just as many interpretations of the same passages coming to quite opposite conclusions. But that is really irrelevant. I don't see that it matters to the resurrection argument one bit whether Jesus' ultimate resurrection body was made out of tofu, spam, leggos, etc. in Paul's conception of His ultimate mode of existence, given that nowhere do Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John say that any of the manifestations recorded in their Gospels are ultimate.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: I think Carrier's article "Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire", which was discussed extensively on another list I'm on, is puerile dreck for several reasons and when I get the time, if anyone's interested, I'll post them.

RC: Okay. I am interested to see what would make anything “immature dung.”</font>
SWL: Hold your horsemen.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SWL: As concerns his article on BB cosmology, Victor Stenger (atheist physicist and Sec Web member) informed me in personal correspondence: "He sent it to me for comments, but had a closed mind to all I said. He simply does not know what he is talking about. He does not know any physics or cosmology. He has not examined the latest literature, for example on the cosmic microwave background. His viewpoint is reminiscent of that of the anti-evolutionists. Find a few outsiders with degrees who express doubts and conclude that some great controversy exists that is being covered up. Well it's not the case with evolution and not the case with the big bang."

This belongs in another Forum. I have now posted a Topic on this called Can We Be Skeptical of the Big Bang? in the Science and Skepticism forum, as I recieved permission from Dr. Stenger to quote his emails to me.</font>
SWL: Eh, I think it was plenty relevant to the convo. I was having. As concerns permission to share e-mail, I hope you aren't implying that I needed that from Dr. Stenger. And as concerns further discussion of BB cosmology, I'll have to pass. I'm just not qualified to speak in that area. (We do have something in common!)

SecWebLurker



[This message has been edited by SecWebLurker (edited June 06, 2001).]
 
Old 06-06-2001, 10:04 AM   #2
Richard Carrier
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First, if my works are not worth rebutting, why are you here?

Second, I stated in that reply that I corrected my essay in response to your misunderstanding. There is nothing underhanded about that. Indeed, the only thing I changed was the addition of “Mk.” and ”Jn.” to prevent confusing which book I was talking about. So don’t go accusing me of being sneaky. Pay attention. The original sentence did not entail a reference to John, since it was a sentence about Mark, only mentioning John in an aside. So you did misread what I wrote, though I admitted it was my fault for being unclear (yet you never credit me with admitting this).

Third, the statemet “very good chance” refers to what Edward’s own argument entails. It does not say I believe it. To the contrary, as I said to you in the very paragraph you quote: I flatly deny that belief earlier in the very same essay, and elsewhere in my papers. Why do you think I took the care to start the whole thing by declaring my actual belief?

Fourth, my own numerical estimate of probability is calculated at very great length in numerous chapters of the other essay cited, it is not pulled out of thin air as you allege, and you are flatly ignoring what those estimates intend to be: read my statement of method (section 2a). If you disagree with my estimates, make your own. Then plug them into the equation and tell me what you get (section 2i).

I state from the outset:

“It is important to emphasize that my use of statistical numbers in this section is not science, nor is it a new method of "doing history." I do not claim scientific accuracy, and I am not solving a historical problem--this section is not about what happened, but what could have happened. It is about historical potential, not historical truth. Hence, I only claim to be making decisions about probability and likelihood, which everyone does, with less care, every time they decide what to believe, and using this to reveal why I do not believe survival to be impossible enough to ensure it was miraculous, and if you agree with my estimations, or using your own still come to the same conclusion, it then entails you should not believe it either. So this is not a trick or a pseudo-argument, but an attempt to make my reasoning more transparent and thus more easily tested against your own subjective understanding of the same facts. I thus encourage, and expect, every reader to consider each fact on their own, and determine in each case their own estimations of probability, and then do the math again, based on your own estimations.”

Evidently, you did not read this. All bickering about my use of vague terms like “routine” is moot since my judgement is based in the end on an exact percentage estimate, not on vague statements about frequency. Whatever you think the frequencies are, employ them to arrive at a commitment to a probability as I do, and run the math as I do, just as I ask everyone to do. Tell me what you get.

Fifth, read Mark 8:33. Obviously the next words were meant for Peter, even though stated to all it has even more poignant meaning for Peter in light of what he had just said. Of course the message applied to everyone, but note its resonance: deny yourself; Peter denies Jesus; to come after me, take up his cross and follow me; Peter is not there to do so when the time really comes. Instead, a different Simon, a stranger, heeds Jesus’ instruction. Are you asserting that Peter in that moment of Jesus’ rebuke thought he would deny Jesus? Surely Peter thought he would follow Jesus, and therefore surely thought he would take that cross when put to the test (Mk. 14:31). Therefore, how can you argue against this conclusion?

Sixth, try doing more homework. 2 Chron 16:14 says the tomb had spices in it before Asa’s body was placed there, not that his body was packed in spices (never mind also that this refers to burial customs for a King, not an executed carpenter). Likewise, Josephus Ant. 17.8.1 199 again refers to a King’s burial, and refers to five hundred bearers of spices, hence grave goods--it would be absurd to think that 500 manloads of spices were dumped on Herod’s body, and Josephus makes no mention of such a use. You should really try reading the sources you cite. Semahot 8:6 never mentions spices (and is only about kings again anyway). Since the Law required the flesh to rot from the bones, and the body to be buried in the attire that it would have in the resurrection, it was against Jewish law “to prevent decay or improve the corpse’s appearance” by any means (s.v. “burial,” Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period).

Seventh, thank you for finally quoting a source (on angels being spirits). Now look back at what I said: this is irrelevant. Neither Jesus nor any human becomes an angel in the resurrection in any Pauline doctrine I am aware of, and Paul’s description of the resurrection body stands on its own: no flesh, no dust. Which is all I argue for. I do not argue that a resurrected body could not be seen, or that a resurrected God could not do tricks. Rather, the resurrected body has nothing to do with the body that rots in a grave. Again, pay attention.

Eighth, Paul refers to his experience as differing from the others in only its timeliness, using the same phrase, same verb. Perhaps you can wish that he left something out, but that would be less probable, though I doubt you would admit it. For Paul goes out his way in Galatians to assert that he did not consult with anyone in the flesh, and the tone is such that clearly his audience would have deemed his message inferior if he had done so: the vision holds greater authority (which is why Paul tries so hard to insist that is how he came to Jesus). Again, I do not think this or any single point alone makes the case. Rather, when one examines all the evidence, there is a certain tendency that makes readier sense of it all, and this tendency is what I describe in my Lecture, as well as elsewhere.

Ninth, obviously one can, by importing any background assumptions and excuses you like, reconcile any two books no matter how seemingly contradictory. You are entitled to your opinion. But I ask others to read my case before making their own choice in the matter.

Tenth, since you say you are not qualified to judge whether there was a Big Bang, doesn’t that mean you are entitled to disbelieve it? After all, if you can’t judge, you can’ t confirm, and if you can’t confirm, you can’t know and therefore have no basis for belief. Why, then, do you attack me for this? But I take issue with the whole idea that simply because you are not an expert you cannot see and assess the evidence for a claim and decide what can be believed regarding it. True, your conclusions in such affairs cannot carry as much certainty as if you were an expert, but they can carry sufficient certainty to hold a belief, and experts are obligated to present evidence to change your mind if they expect you to believe otherwise. That is the whole point of scholarship, publication, and debate. If you want to discuss being underhanded: you challenge my scholarship on this issue and then refuse to debate it by avowing ignorance. I do not find this excuse sincere.

Finally, I will conclude by simply asking you to read what I write with a mind to understand me rather than a pointless enraged passion to find any contradiction no matter how trivial or ambiguous. Your approach is neither serious nor respectful but snide and openly hostile. I seriously doubt Craig or Moreland or even McDowell would stoop to calling their opponent’s scholarship childish dung, yet that appears to be your modus opperandi. What of substance is there in any of your criticisms so far? Very little. And on every point, there is no certain answer, and ample room for disagreement, yet you act as if to hold a valid opinion is “sloppy” for no other reason than that it is not yours. I am not impressed.

FYI, I do not troll the boards. I was made aware of this thread only through a colleague. Next time, announce the creation of a new thread in the thread you are leaving. Even future readers of the archives will now have no idea that you responded to what I said in that thread.

[This message has been edited by Richard Carrier (edited June 06, 2001).]
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Old 06-06-2001, 12:56 PM   #3
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I was actually looking forward to see what SecWebLurker has to say about "Kooks and Quacks in the Roman Era" -- only to see him whine that he does not have enough time. Sheesh. I wonder how he spends his time, which I also wonder about many others who claim that they do not have time for something.

I'd also be interested to see what other apologists like Metacrock and Nomad and Layman have to say about that.

I particularly like the part on Alexander of Abonutichus (Abonuteichos, Abonoteichos, Abonotichus); check out this translation of Lucian's acount of him: http://www.atomic-swerve.net/tpg/Alexander.html
 
Old 06-06-2001, 12:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
I was actually looking forward to see what SecWebLurker has to say about "Kooks and Quacks in the Roman Era" -- only to see him whine that he does not have enough time. Sheesh. I wonder how he spends his time, which I also wonder about many others who claim that they do not have time for something.

I'd also be interested to see what other apologists like Metacrock and Nomad and Layman have to say about that.

I particularly like the part on Alexander of Abonutichus (Abonuteichos, Abonoteichos, Abonotichus); check out this translation of Lucian's acount of him: http://www.atomic-swerve.net/tpg/Alexander.html
</font>
Have to say about what?
 
Old 06-06-2001, 01:52 PM   #5
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RC: First, if my works are not worth rebutting, why are you here?

SWL: Nowhere in my response to you do I say that your works are not worth rebutting.

RC: Second, I stated in that reply that I corrected my essay in response to your misunderstanding. There is nothing underhanded about that. Indeed, the only thing I changed was the addition of “Mk.” and ”Jn.” to prevent confusing which book I was talking about. So don’t go accusing me of being sneaky. Pay attention. The original sentence did not entail a reference to John, since it was a sentence about Mark, only mentioning John in an aside.

SWL: I've already stated quite clearly why the passage, in the way you cited, did indeed entail a reference to John, so I'll just refer you to the first post in this thread. Now that you've changed it, I'll consider the issue dead.

RC: So you did misread what I wrote, though I admitted it was my fault for being unclear (yet you never credit me with admitting this).

SWL: Credit you with admitting fault? Looks more to me like you attribute the FAULT to me being "easily confused", being "reading and Bible ignorant". Thanks for making it easier for us dummies w/the correction though.

RC: Third, the statemet “very good chance” refers to what Edward’s own argument entails. It does not say I believe it. To the contrary, as I said to you in the very paragraph you quote: I flatly deny that belief earlier in the very same essay, and elsewhere in my papers. Why do you think I took the care to start the whole thing by declaring my actual belief?

SWL: I think I've made it quite clear why I read you as saying 2% was a 'very good chance' (a phrase you denied saying AT ALL). But I think that's resolved now,...Onto the probabilities...

RC: Fourth, my own numerical estimate of probability is calculated at very great length in numerous chapters of the other essay cited, it is not pulled out of thin air as you allege, and you are flatly ignoring what those estimates intend to be: read my statement of method (section 2a). If you disagree with my estimates, make your own. Then plug them into the equation and tell me what you get (section 2i).

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. If you want to interact, I'd ask that you pay a bit more attention to what I'm writing. If you choose to respond to this, please include a response to my original points.

RC: I state from the outset:

“It is important to emphasize that my use of statistical numbers in this section is not science, nor is it a new method of "doing history." I do not claim scientific accuracy, and I am not solving a historical problem--this section is not about what happened, but what could have happened. It is about historical potential, not historical truth. Hence, I only claim to be making decisions about probability and likelihood, which everyone does, with less care, every time they decide what to believe, and using this to reveal why I do not believe survival to be impossible enough to ensure it was miraculous, and if you agree with my estimations, or using your own still come to the same conclusion, it then entails you should not believe it either. So this is not a trick or a pseudo-argument, but an attempt to make my reasoning more transparent and thus more easily tested against your own subjective understanding of the same facts. I thus encourage, and expect, every reader to consider each fact on their own, and determine in each case their own estimations of probability,
and then do the math again, based on your own estimations.”

Evidently, you did not read this. All bickering about my use of vague terms like “routine” is moot since my judgement is based in the end on an exact percentage estimate, not on vague statements about frequency. Whatever you think the frequencies are, employ them to arrive at a commitment to a probability as I do, and run the math as I do, just as I ask everyone to do. Tell me what you get.

SWL: Thanks for the quote from your paper - I've already read it though and it doesn't help. An exact probability estimate?! Show me how you justify the individual probabilities, Richard! In all the areas I challenged you on! Stop dodging...

RC: Fifth, read Mark 8:33. Obviously the next words weren’t meant for Peter, even though stated to all it has even more poignant meaning for Peter in light of what he had just said. Of course the message applied to everyone, but note its resonance: deny yourself; Peter denies Jesus; to come after me, take up his cross and follow me; Peter is not there to do so when the time really comes. Instead, a different Simon, a stranger, heeds Jesus’ instruction. Are you asserting that Peter in that moment of Jesus’ rebuke thought he would deny Jesus? Surely Peter thought he would follow Jesus, and therefore surely thought he would take that cross when put to the test (Mk. 14:31). Therefore, how can you argue against this conclusion?

SWL: Because there is NOTHING in the passage that clues us in as to what Peter thought. Repeatedly, the disciples' fail to understand Jesus' sayings as concerns suffering for His cause - indeed the previous passage is just such an instance involving Peter. There is absolutely nothing in that passage that tells us what Peter or anyone else thought when they heard Jesus' speaking about persecution. And please do answer my other questions as concerns this passage.

RC: Sixth, try doing more homework. 2 Chron 16:14 says the tomb had spices in it before Asa’s body was placed there, not that his body was packed in spices (never mind also that this refers to burial customs for a King, not an executed carpenter).

SWL: Yes, his body is laid on spices and aromatics compounded into an ointment. That is close enough. Re: 'burial customs for a King', so what? All the more that those who felt Jesus was a king would do the same for him.

RC: Likewise, Josephus Ant. 17.8.1 199 again refers to a King’s burial, and refers to five hundred bearers of spices, hence grave goods--it would be absurd to think that 500 manloads of spices were dumped on Herod’s body, and Josephus makes no mention of such a use. You should really try reading the sources you cite.

SWL: I did read it. Clearly spices are involved in the burial. Josephus doesn't specify what exactly they are used for, though some were probably burnt. Its not at all necessary to think that employing these spices in the burial, all had to be "dumped" on the body.

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).

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."
-----------
50. So Liebowitz, "Jewish" 108...The purpose of the spices was to offset the stench of corruption and perhaps even to retard the decomposition.

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.

RC: Seventh, thank you for finally quoting a source (on angels being spirits).

SWL: LOL, you only asked me once, Richard.

RC: Now look back at what I said: this is irrelevant. Neither Jesus nor any human becomes an angel in the resurrection in any Pauline doctrine I am aware of, and Paul’s description of the resurrection body stands on its own: no flesh, no dust. Which is all I argue for. I do not argue that a resurrected body could not be seen, or that a resurrected God could not do tricks. Rather, the resurrected body has nothing to do with the body that rots in a grave. Again, pay attention.

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. As concerns the alleged irrelevance of my statement, in response to a person who trivializes your spiritual interpretation of 1 Cor 15 in the feedback forum, implying that he can just accept it and nothing really changes, you write:

"If you wish to conclude so, you may--but in doing so you must reject the authenticity of the Gospels (esp. Luke and John) which contradict this interpretation, and few Christians are willing to do that."[http://www.infidels.org/electronic/forum/Forum1/HTML/001290.html]

So it seems that my comments are relevant to your statements (and indeed I was referring to this very comment in my original post).

RC: Eighth, Paul refers to his experience as differing from the others in only its timeliness, using the same phrase, same verb. Perhaps you can wish that he left something out, but that would be less probable, though I doubt you would admit it.

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".

RC: For Paul goes out his way in Galatians to assert that he did not consult with anyone in the flesh, and the tone is such that clearly his audience would have deemed his message inferior if he had done so: the vision holds greater authority (which is why Paul tries so hard to insist that is how he came to Jesus).

SWL: How does this relate to the issue of an alleged similarity betw. Paul's res. experience and the others'?

RC: Again, I do not think this or any single point alone makes the case. Rather, when one examines all the evidence, there is a certain tendency that makes readier sense of it all, and this tendency is what I describe in my Lecture, as well as elsewhere.

SWL: Right, the 'spider-sense'. I'll just say that after looking at all the evidence, and the opinions of scholars on both sides of the issue, mine doesn't give me the same reading.

RC: Ninth, obviously one can, by importing any background assumptions and excuses you like, reconcile any two books no matter how seemingly contradictory. You are entitled to your opinion. But I ask others to read my case before making their own choice in the matter.

SWL: There doesn't seem to be any contradiction as nowhere do Luke or any of the other Gospels describe anything but certain manifestations of Jesus. Certainly there's no requirement that they all be similar. And I don't have to import any background assumptions. The points I've raised are simply background beliefs in Judaism and they are exactly what we SHOULD take into account when examining the New Testament writings.

RC: Finally, I will conclude by simply asking you to read what I write with a mind to understand me rather than a pointless enraged passion to find any contradiction no matter how trivial or ambiguous.

SWL: Haha, I'd encourage you to read the New Testament in the same way! I really don't have any 'enraged passion' though - just sharing my thoughts. That's what these boards are for. Sorry if that offends you.

RC: Your approach is neither serious nor respectful but snide and openly hostile. I seriously doubt Craig or Moreland or even McDowell would stoop to calling their opponent’s scholarship childish dung, yet that appears to be your modus opperandi.

SWL: LOL, you call McDowell's work " the height of inept apologetic crap" so the same criticism applies to you.

RC: What of substance is there in any of your criticisms so far? Very little.

SWL: Give us a probability estimate, Richard.

RC: And on every point, there is no certain answer, and ample room for disagreement, yet you act as if to hold a valid opinion is “sloppy” for no other reason than that it is not yours. I am not impressed.

SWL: I think I've been clear about my reasons.

RC: FYI, I do not troll the boards. I was made aware of this thread only through a colleague. Next time, announce the creation of a new thread in the thread you are leaving. Even future readers of the archives will now have no idea that you responded to what I said in that thread.

SWL: Do you really care? Would you like me to go back and post a link to this thread from their's? But really, who's being rude now? If its ok with you, I'll just post when and how I see fit - unless of course I'm in violation of the board rules or something?

SecWebLurker
 
Old 06-06-2001, 03:05 PM   #6
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Layman, here's that article on "Kooks and Quacks in the Roman Empire":

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...ier/kooks.html

Read it and see for yourself. I think that it's an excellent essay -- it shows very convincingly that there were lots of miracles reported outside of the Bible, and that there were several self-styled prophets on the loose.

Why believe in Jesus Christ's miraculous cures and not those of the Greek god Asklepios?

Why believe that statues of Christian saints can bleed but not those of pagan deities and heroes?

Why believe that Jesus Christ had raised someone from the dead but not Apollonius of Tyana?

The evidence is at least as strong for the pagan miracles.

 
Old 06-06-2001, 03:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
Layman, here's that article on "Kooks and Quacks in the Roman Empire":

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...ier/kooks.html

Read it and see for yourself. I think that it's an excellent essay -- it shows very convincingly that there were lots of miracles reported outside of the Bible, and that there were several self-styled prophets on the loose.

Why believe in Jesus Christ's miraculous cures and not those of the Greek god Asklepios?

Why believe that statues of Christian saints can bleed but not those of pagan deities and heroes?

Why believe that Jesus Christ had raised someone from the dead but not Apollonius of Tyana?

The evidence is at least as strong for the pagan miracles.
</font>
I read it a while back. The evidence for Jesus' miracles is superior. For many reasons:

http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f...ML/000238.html

Especially when we focus on the Jewish background of Jesus' miracles:

http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f...ML/000356.html


I have my doubts about bleeding statutes. Pagan or otherwise.

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.

All that being said, I don't necessarily dismiss the possibility that some pagan miracles were genuine.
 
Old 06-06-2001, 06:46 PM   #8
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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.

There is no evidence for miracles, unless one counts mere claims as evidence.(Uncross-examined hearsay evidence even?) If thats all it takes for one to believe in the miraculous, then they must also count gullibility as a virtue.

 
Old 06-06-2001, 06:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
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.

There is no evidence for miracles, unless one counts mere claims as evidence.(Uncross-examined hearsay evidence even?) If thats all it takes for one to believe in the miraculous, then they must also count gullibility as a virtue.
</font>
Yes Mad, evidence is evidence. Even if it's not cross-examined. Even if it is hearsay.

Many, many legal claims are resolved all over the world by arbitrations that do not involve any cross-examination but allow reams of hearsay evidence in.
 
Old 06-06-2001, 07:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
I was actually looking forward to see what SecWebLurker has to say about "Kooks and Quacks in the Roman Era" -- only to see him whine that he does not have enough time. Sheesh. I wonder how he spends his time, which I also wonder about many others who claim that they do not have time for something.

I'd also be interested to see what other apologists like Metacrock and Nomad and Layman have to say about that.

I particularly like the part on Alexander of Abonutichus (Abonuteichos, Abonoteichos, Abonotichus); check out this translation of Lucian's acount of him: http://www.atomic-swerve.net/tpg/Alexander.html
</font>
O he's a terrible time waster. All he ever does it go to the beach and stuff. And I called him on the phone and found out he has a thick New Jersay accent, can barely understand the guy. Y'all know what i mean?

WE Texans try not to associate with Yankies anyway.
 
 

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