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Old 04-12-2001, 05:11 PM   #201
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RAINBOW: Even funnier still is the fact that you would have to utilize the information conveyed in this book to prosecute your case...and if you are successful in securing a verdict in your favor, that the information in this book is inaccurate, then you have no basis to prosecute any further claims against christianity and must cloe up shop, pull down your shingle and go into some other business. You see, Earl, in any attempt to question any biblical claim you must rely, for the most part, on this document. Now if you show this document to be un-reliable you have removed it from the list of exhibits against any further claims, such as claims against the christian God, therefore you basically have little more to contribute to your own cause. Since you would need to take your cue from information contained in this record, convincing yourself that it is in-accurate and unreliable renders any further prosecution of its claims moot. Counsel rarely calls a witness, proven to be false, to the stand on their behalf. So if you wanted to prosecute a charge, for instance, that the christian God is unjust, you would have to recall this witness to even level this charge. After having dishonored the witness you cannot then turn around and take any further action against the figurehead around which this record was written to describe.

So, in the interest of justice, I could grant you your case and say you've successfully demonstrated that there is sufficient doubt as to dis-allow any claims made in this record. But then I could hold your success over your own head like a dagger against any future attempts by you to utilize information contained in this record to further prosecute any other charges based on it.

What you and your cronies are hoping for is to silence the theist. Barring that, you would settle for making him out the fool. But that shoe fits as easily on either foot Earl, as I'm sure you're well aware. No one can make of another the fool without his cooperation. I am trying to prevent you from doing just that Earl in the future when you are tempted to recall some particular bible verse to support some future claim against God. If perchance there happens to be a witness of this trial in the crowd they will surely cry foul the moment you attempt this double standard...see what I mean?

EARL: If you want to make a new analogy and call me an "attorney" (as opposed to a juror) for skepticism, the more accurate comparison would be with the defense attorney rather than the prosecution. The prosecutor has the stronger burden of proof, for various pragmatic reasons. The accused individual's innocence is assumed as the default position, and the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove her case, the individual is assumed innocent (not "proved" such, since the defense doesn't have that high a burden) and let free. The defense attorney has a weak burden of proof: she must simply poke enough holes in the prosecution's case to permit reasonable doubt; she need work only on the evidence the prosecution offers, although she may also present an alternative theory of the crime. The defense's case depends on the prosecution's, and not the other way around.

I take the Christian to be the prosecution with the stronger burden of proof because the Christian makes the initial positive claim, and bases her life around the positive doctrines in question, such as having a relationship with an invisible fellow names Jesus. It makes as little sense to say the nonbeliever bases her life around the non-existence of God as it does to say a person bases her life around the non-existence of Santa Claus or aliens in another galaxy. Non-existent beings are irrelevant to our lives and are thus forgotten; they do not become objects of devotion or support for positive actions, such as going to Church or praying at dinner time.

As the side presenting a positive, definite and traditional account of what Jesus was like, what he did, who he is, and so forth, the Christian takes upon herself the stronger burden of proof. The skeptic then becomes, if you like, the defense attorney, obligated to show that the Christian's case is not made beyond a reasonable doubt. Once again, the skeptic need not present an independent account, say, of what happened to Jesus' body. She need only show that the Christian fails to demonstrate in particular that Jesus was buried as recorded in the NT. In that case, lack of belief in Jesus' burial according to the NT becomes justifiable.

This leads us into the meaning of Agnosticism. There are some helpful essays on Agnosticism at the Secular Web. Here are some quotations that show the connection between one form of Agnosticism and the weak burden of proof. From "What is Agnosticism?" (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/h_j_blackham/agnostic.html ):

"When the evidence produced by Darwin, and his theories, showed the possibility of an order in nature that was not purposive, a turning-point was reached…..It was at this point that T.H. Huxley, Darwin's advocate, invented the word "agnosticism" (1869) to reinstate the position of Protagoras. The onus was shifted from the shoulders of the unbeliever to justify his perversity, to the shoulders of the believer to justify his belief, to show why he should be taken seriously.

"More indirectly, and on all fronts, scientific evidence has demolished the world in which traditional theological beliefs originated and developed. To bring them out of their context, to demythologize and reinterpret them is a delicate, maybe gratuitous, task for modern theologians; so their survival is more remarkable than impressive. Argument will go on, as always, and becomes ever more refined or sophisticated; and when religious beliefs are concerned, argument is not the whole matter and, for many, not the main matter. Intellectually, however, a disregard for religious beliefs does not have to be justified, as once it had, with its back to the wall. The boot is on the other foot. Historically, "agnosticism" does not merely mean a suspension of judgment. Rather, it means intellectual justification for a disregard of theology."

And from "Weak Agnosticism Defended" (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/agnostic.html ):

"I begin by distinguishing between two different kinds of agnosticism. On the one hand, there is strong agnosticism, i.e. the view which is sustained by the thesis that it is obligatory for reasonable persons to suspend judgement on the question of God's existence. And, on the other hand, there is weak agnosticism, i.e. the view which is sustained by the thesis that it is permissible for reasonable persons to suspend judgement on the question of God's existence….

"Weak agnosticism is, I think, best defended via an appeal to a principle of epistemic conservatism, along the following lines: one is rationally justified in continuing to believe that p unless one comes to possess positive reason to cease to do so."

[Earl: A reason to believe not-p would be a reasonable doubt.]

And from "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism" at http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...efinition.html (note especially the last part, marked by asterisks):

"Among atheists, I would distinguish four different types, as follows….

"Methodological atheists, who claim that there is no good objective evidence either for God's existence or for God's nonexistence, but there is a certain methodological principle which places the burden of proof upon theists, and since they fail to meet that principle, the only rational position to take is that of atheism. (Some methodological atheists formulate the principle by saying that the burden of proof is always on any person making an existence claim, since, from a logical point of view, existence claims are only capable of proof, not disproof. No one has ever proven the nonexistence of Santa Claus, or elves, or unicorns, or anything else, simply because the very logic of an unrestricted existential proposition prohibits its disproof. It is impossible to go all over the universe and show that, for example, there are no elves anywhere. For this reason, rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of all those things which have never been shown to exist. That is why we all regard it rational to deny the existence of Santa Claus, elves, unicorns, etc. And since God is in that same category, having never been shown to exist, it follows that rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of God.)….

"Data-vs.-principle agnostics, who are another type of "knife-edge agnostics." They agree with the methodological atheists, described above, who claim that there is a certain methodological principle that places the burden of proof upon the theists. The question is raised as to how much evidence is needed for the existence of something in order for it to satisfy the burden of proof required by the given principle. Presumably there is some minimum amount such that any lesser amount would still call for us to deny the existence of the thing. Take, for example, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. It may be argued that there is some slight evidence in favor of the existence of such entities but it is less than the amount needed to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement. Thus, the rational stance to take with respect to them, at least at the present time, is that of denying their existence. If, in the future, additional evidence is found favoring the existence of the entity, and that evidence is of sufficient quantity to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement, then at that time the rational stance to take would be to believe that the entity exists. Suppose, now, that additional evidence is found for, say, the existence of Bigfoot. But the evidence is not quite sufficient to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement. It is almost enough. In fact, it is as close to satisfying the requirement without actually satisfying it as it is possible to get. One might say, in a case like this, that the evidence for the existence of Bigfoot is balanced on a knife-edge. It is not enough to warrant belief, but it is also too much evidence to warrant denial of Bigfoot's existence. In such a case, it might be argued, the rational stance to take for anyone aware of the evidence is that of withholding judgment on the matter. Well, this is the situation with data-vs.-principle agnostics. ****They are not claiming that there are two opposing bodies of evidence, one favoring God's existence and the other favoring God's nonexistence. Rather, there is only a body of evidence that favors God's existence. However, the evidence, at least at the present time, is not sufficient to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement imposed upon theism, though it is right at the threshold of satisfying it. It is not yet enough to warrant belief that God exists, but it is also too much to warrant denying God's existence. Hence, the rational stance for anyone to take regarding God's existence is that of agnosticism.****"

****

One form of Agnosticism, then, is tied up with the burden of proof issue. As Drange says, there need not be an independent body of evidence against, say, Jesus' miracles. Rather, the burden is on the theist to show that Jesus probably produced miracles, and the failure to meet that burden justifies either agnosticism or atheism, depending on how poor is the evidence for the theist's claim.

So one again, let's take the example of Jesus' burial. Who has the burden of proof, the Christian or the skeptic? The Christian is the person who brings up the issue in the first place, since Jesus' burial is crucial to the gospel's integrity and the gospel's credibility in general. The Christian makes the positive assertion that Jesus was buried in such and such a way, at such and such a time, by such and such people. If the skeptic were to claim to know that Jesus was probably left on the cross at such and such a time and by such and such a person, the skeptic would have the burden to demonstrate this. But that is hardly the position I've taken. I believe, rather, that the evidence is insufficient to warrant confident belief that Jesus was buried as recorded in the gospel narratives. That does not entail that I claim to know just what did happen to Jesus' body. I believe only that doubt is justified regarding the traditional Christian account of Jesus' burial.

A reasonable doubt is that Jesus may have been left on the cross or thrown into a common grave. Like the defense attorney, these possibilities must be more than mere speculations: they must be "reasonable," and deciding what is reasonable is the very heart of the matter. A judgment is required. Is it reasonable to believe that an alien rather than O. J. Simpson killed the two individuals Simpson was accused of murdering? Well, Simpson's defense team proposed a conspiracy theory to explain the evidence. Personally I reject that conspiracy theory as improbable, but the jury accepted it as reasonable doubt relative to the prosecution's case. Likewise I consider the possibility that Mark fabricated many of the details of his narrative as opposed to recording accurate information passed on through some miraculously organized oral tradition. I consider, for example, Joseph of Arimathea to have been an intentionally ambiguous creation of Mark.

What burden do I have in demonstrating this fabrication? Do I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph is Mark's fiction? No, just as the defense attorney does not have to prove that her client is innocent beyond all reasonable doubt. That would be to shift the burden of proof where it doesn't belong. Just as the innocence of the accused is assumed for the sake of preventing an abuse of power on the government's part, so too a certain sort of agnosticism is assumed given science's success in overturning theism's grasp on knowledge. Likewise, were an historian to fail to establish, for example, that Julius Caesar had a big birth mark on his forehead, we would be justified in lacking belief in the existence of this birth mark. And were an historian to fail to show that the gospel narratives record Jesus' burial accurately, we would be justified in lacking belief in that burial. Moreover, the NT is a religious rather than a merely historical document, or so most scholars agree. The NT may contain some historical information, but it contains so much religious propaganda as well that the traditionalist's burden in accepting certain NT claims as historical is heightened all the more relative to science's revolutionary overturning of the burden of proof in the theism vs. atheism debate.

And here is the crucial point: lacking belief in something (agnosticism) is different from positively denying the thing's existence (atheism). I don't claim, for example, that Jesus' burial was logically impossible or certainly false. I claim, rather, that doubt in his burial as recorded in traditional Christianity is rationally permissible. Of course the skeptic is not entitled to believe that we know for certain that Jesus wasn't buried: the skeptic naturally doesn't take up such a high burden of proof. The skeptic doubts that Jesus was buried as described in the NT not because there are well-substantiated, unimpeachable reasons for doubting this, but because there are NO well-substantiated, unimpeachable reasons for accepting the NT's claim. This is to say that the traditional Christian fails to meet her burden of proof, due to the reasonable objections made by critics.

 
Old 04-12-2001, 05:46 PM   #202
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nomad:
About 300 years after a peasant Jew lived, was crucified and was buried, the religion He founded took over the greatest, and most cosmopolitan empire in all of ancient history. The question remains, how did this extraordinary event actually happen?


No biggie. Word of mouth, great advertising, the change from scrolls to codices, and an interpretive mythology that fit perfectly into Jewish cultural expectations during that time. Top it all off with Nicea and subsumation into empire and nascent Christianity becomes politically correct.

Have you studied the growth trends of the Mormon church or the Islamic faith lately? The mushrooming numbers speak for themselves. No resurrection nor empty tomb mythology needed.


Now, the basic facts of the story are not supernatural, and are well enough attested to be pretty agreeable to serious historians. They are:

1) A person by the name of Jesus of Narareth was born around 4-6BC
2) His ministry lasted about 3 years c. 30AD
3) He was executed by crucifixion by then Roman governor Pontius Pilote, and was buried in a grave by Joseph of Arimathea
4) Within days of that event, Jesus closest friends, followers and even some of His family members were saying that the tomb was empty and that Jesus was alive again. They believed this against all opposition, and eventually (about 300 years or so) the religion that they founded swept over the Empire, replacing virtually every other religion the Western World had known to that point.

How did this happen? For the purposes of this thread, I would like to assume that the Resurrection did NOT take place. The rest of the events described above, however, are pretty much historically accepted as being true. How do you account for them, especially point number 4?

Thank you,

Nomad


Since the gospel accounts of the empty tomb are confusing and contradictory--and in the earliest mention in the Pauline letters, non-existent altogether--we have little historical evidence save for the fact that some early Christians became convinced Jesus was still alive and directing their lives.



[This message has been edited by aikido7 (edited April 12, 2001).]
 
Old 04-13-2001, 10:06 PM   #203
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:
RAINBOW: Even funnier still is the fact that you would have to utilize the information conveyed in this book to prosecute your case...and if you are successful in securing a verdict in your favor, that the information in this book is inaccurate, then you have no basis to prosecute any further claims against christianity and must cloe up shop, pull down your shingle and go into some other business. You see, Earl, in any attempt to question any biblical claim you must rely, for the most part, on this document. Now if you show this document to be un-reliable you have removed it from the list of exhibits against any further claims, such as claims against the christian God, therefore you basically have little more to contribute to your own cause. Since you would need to take your cue from information contained in this record, convincing yourself that it is in-accurate and unreliable renders any further prosecution of its claims moot. Counsel rarely calls a witness, proven to be false, to the stand on their behalf. So if you wanted to prosecute a charge, for instance, that the christian God is unjust, you would have to recall this witness to even level this charge. After having dishonored the witness you cannot then turn around and take any further action against the figurehead around which this record was written to describe.

So, in the interest of justice, I could grant you your case and say you've successfully demonstrated that there is sufficient doubt as to dis-allow any claims made in this record. But then I could hold your success over your own head like a dagger against any future attempts by you to utilize information contained in this record to further prosecute any other charges based on it.

What you and your cronies are hoping for is to silence the theist. Barring that, you would settle for making him out the fool. But that shoe fits as easily on either foot Earl, as I'm sure you're well aware. No one can make of another the fool without his cooperation. I am trying to prevent you from doing just that Earl in the future when you are tempted to recall some particular bible verse to support some future claim against God. If perchance there happens to be a witness of this trial in the crowd they will surely cry foul the moment you attempt this double standard...see what I mean?

EARL: If you want to make a new analogy and call me an "attorney" (as opposed to a juror) for skepticism, the more accurate comparison would be with the defense attorney rather than the prosecution. The prosecutor has the stronger burden of proof, for various pragmatic reasons. The accused individual's innocence is assumed as the default position, and the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove her case, the individual is assumed innocent (not "proved" such, since the defense doesn't have that high a burden) and let free. The defense attorney has a weak burden of proof: she must simply poke enough holes in the prosecution's case to permit reasonable doubt; she need work only on the evidence the prosecution offers, although she may also present an alternative theory of the crime. The defense's case depends on the prosecution's, and not the other way around.

I take the Christian to be the prosecution with the stronger burden of proof because the Christian makes the initial positive claim, and bases her life around the positive doctrines in question, such as having a relationship with an invisible fellow names Jesus. It makes as little sense to say the nonbeliever bases her life around the non-existence of God as it does to say a person bases her life around the non-existence of Santa Claus or aliens in another galaxy. Non-existent beings are irrelevant to our lives and are thus forgotten; they do not become objects of devotion or support for positive actions, such as going to Church or praying at dinner time.

As the side presenting a positive, definite and traditional account of what Jesus was like, what he did, who he is, and so forth, the Christian takes upon herself the stronger burden of proof. The skeptic then becomes, if you like, the defense attorney, obligated to show that the Christian's case is not made beyond a reasonable doubt. Once again, the skeptic need not present an independent account, say, of what happened to Jesus' body. She need only show that the Christian fails to demonstrate in particular that Jesus was buried as recorded in the NT. In that case, lack of belief in Jesus' burial according to the NT becomes justifiable.

This leads us into the meaning of Agnosticism. There are some helpful essays on Agnosticism at the Secular Web. Here are some quotations that show the connection between one form of Agnosticism and the weak burden of proof. From "What is Agnosticism?" (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/h_j_blackham/agnostic.html ):

"When the evidence produced by Darwin, and his theories, showed the possibility of an order in nature that was not purposive, a turning-point was reached…..It was at this point that T.H. Huxley, Darwin's advocate, invented the word "agnosticism" (1869) to reinstate the position of Protagoras. The onus was shifted from the shoulders of the unbeliever to justify his perversity, to the shoulders of the believer to justify his belief, to show why he should be taken seriously.

"More indirectly, and on all fronts, scientific evidence has demolished the world in which traditional theological beliefs originated and developed. To bring them out of their context, to demythologize and reinterpret them is a delicate, maybe gratuitous, task for modern theologians; so their survival is more remarkable than impressive. Argument will go on, as always, and becomes ever more refined or sophisticated; and when religious beliefs are concerned, argument is not the whole matter and, for many, not the main matter. Intellectually, however, a disregard for religious beliefs does not have to be justified, as once it had, with its back to the wall. The boot is on the other foot. Historically, "agnosticism" does not merely mean a suspension of judgment. Rather, it means intellectual justification for a disregard of theology."

And from "Weak Agnosticism Defended" (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/agnostic.html ):

"I begin by distinguishing between two different kinds of agnosticism. On the one hand, there is strong agnosticism, i.e. the view which is sustained by the thesis that it is obligatory for reasonable persons to suspend judgement on the question of God's existence. And, on the other hand, there is weak agnosticism, i.e. the view which is sustained by the thesis that it is permissible for reasonable persons to suspend judgement on the question of God's existence….

"Weak agnosticism is, I think, best defended via an appeal to a principle of epistemic conservatism, along the following lines: one is rationally justified in continuing to believe that p unless one comes to possess positive reason to cease to do so."

[Earl: A reason to believe not-p would be a reasonable doubt.]

And from "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism" at http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...efinition.html (note especially the last part, marked by asterisks):

"Among atheists, I would distinguish four different types, as follows….

"Methodological atheists, who claim that there is no good objective evidence either for God's existence or for God's nonexistence, but there is a certain methodological principle which places the burden of proof upon theists, and since they fail to meet that principle, the only rational position to take is that of atheism. (Some methodological atheists formulate the principle by saying that the burden of proof is always on any person making an existence claim, since, from a logical point of view, existence claims are only capable of proof, not disproof. No one has ever proven the nonexistence of Santa Claus, or elves, or unicorns, or anything else, simply because the very logic of an unrestricted existential proposition prohibits its disproof. It is impossible to go all over the universe and show that, for example, there are no elves anywhere. For this reason, rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of all those things which have never been shown to exist. That is why we all regard it rational to deny the existence of Santa Claus, elves, unicorns, etc. And since God is in that same category, having never been shown to exist, it follows that rational methodology calls for us to deny the existence of God.)….

"Data-vs.-principle agnostics, who are another type of "knife-edge agnostics." They agree with the methodological atheists, described above, who claim that there is a certain methodological principle that places the burden of proof upon the theists. The question is raised as to how much evidence is needed for the existence of something in order for it to satisfy the burden of proof required by the given principle. Presumably there is some minimum amount such that any lesser amount would still call for us to deny the existence of the thing. Take, for example, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. It may be argued that there is some slight evidence in favor of the existence of such entities but it is less than the amount needed to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement. Thus, the rational stance to take with respect to them, at least at the present time, is that of denying their existence. If, in the future, additional evidence is found favoring the existence of the entity, and that evidence is of sufficient quantity to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement, then at that time the rational stance to take would be to believe that the entity exists. Suppose, now, that additional evidence is found for, say, the existence of Bigfoot. But the evidence is not quite sufficient to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement. It is almost enough. In fact, it is as close to satisfying the requirement without actually satisfying it as it is possible to get. One might say, in a case like this, that the evidence for the existence of Bigfoot is balanced on a knife-edge. It is not enough to warrant belief, but it is also too much evidence to warrant denial of Bigfoot's existence. In such a case, it might be argued, the rational stance to take for anyone aware of the evidence is that of withholding judgment on the matter. Well, this is the situation with data-vs.-principle agnostics. ****They are not claiming that there are two opposing bodies of evidence, one favoring God's existence and the other favoring God's nonexistence. Rather, there is only a body of evidence that favors God's existence. However, the evidence, at least at the present time, is not sufficient to satisfy the burden-of-proof requirement imposed upon theism, though it is right at the threshold of satisfying it. It is not yet enough to warrant belief that God exists, but it is also too much to warrant denying God's existence. Hence, the rational stance for anyone to take regarding God's existence is that of agnosticism.****"

****

One form of Agnosticism, then, is tied up with the burden of proof issue. As Drange says, there need not be an independent body of evidence against, say, Jesus' miracles. Rather, the burden is on the theist to show that Jesus probably produced miracles, and the failure to meet that burden justifies either agnosticism or atheism, depending on how poor is the evidence for the theist's claim.

So one again, let's take the example of Jesus' burial. Who has the burden of proof, the Christian or the skeptic? The Christian is the person who brings up the issue in the first place, since Jesus' burial is crucial to the gospel's integrity and the gospel's credibility in general. The Christian makes the positive assertion that Jesus was buried in such and such a way, at such and such a time, by such and such people. If the skeptic were to claim to know that Jesus was probably left on the cross at such and such a time and by such and such a person, the skeptic would have the burden to demonstrate this. But that is hardly the position I've taken. I believe, rather, that the evidence is insufficient to warrant confident belief that Jesus was buried as recorded in the gospel narratives. That does not entail that I claim to know just what did happen to Jesus' body. I believe only that doubt is justified regarding the traditional Christian account of Jesus' burial.

A reasonable doubt is that Jesus may have been left on the cross or thrown into a common grave. Like the defense attorney, these possibilities must be more than mere speculations: they must be "reasonable," and deciding what is reasonable is the very heart of the matter. A judgment is required. Is it reasonable to believe that an alien rather than O. J. Simpson killed the two individuals Simpson was accused of murdering? Well, Simpson's defense team proposed a conspiracy theory to explain the evidence. Personally I reject that conspiracy theory as improbable, but the jury accepted it as reasonable doubt relative to the prosecution's case. Likewise I consider the possibility that Mark fabricated many of the details of his narrative as opposed to recording accurate information passed on through some miraculously organized oral tradition. I consider, for example, Joseph of Arimathea to have been an intentionally ambiguous creation of Mark.

What burden do I have in demonstrating this fabrication? Do I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph is Mark's fiction? No, just as the defense attorney does not have to prove that her client is innocent beyond all reasonable doubt. That would be to shift the burden of proof where it doesn't belong. Just as the innocence of the accused is assumed for the sake of preventing an abuse of power on the government's part, so too a certain sort of agnosticism is assumed given science's success in overturning theism's grasp on knowledge. Likewise, were an historian to fail to establish, for example, that Julius Caesar had a big birth mark on his forehead, we would be justified in lacking belief in the existence of this birth mark. And were an historian to fail to show that the gospel narratives record Jesus' burial accurately, we would be justified in lacking belief in that burial. Moreover, the NT is a religious rather than a merely historical document, or so most scholars agree. The NT may contain some historical information, but it contains so much religious propaganda as well that the traditionalist's burden in accepting certain NT claims as historical is heightened all the more relative to science's revolutionary overturning of the burden of proof in the theism vs. atheism debate.

And here is the crucial point: lacking belief in something (agnosticism) is different from positively denying the thing's existence (atheism). I don't claim, for example, that Jesus' burial was logically impossible or certainly false. I claim, rather, that doubt in his burial as recorded in traditional Christianity is rationally permissible. Of course the skeptic is not entitled to believe that we know for certain that Jesus wasn't buried: the skeptic naturally doesn't take up such a high burden of proof. The skeptic doubts that Jesus was buried as described in the NT not because there are well-substantiated, unimpeachable reasons for doubting this, but because there are NO well-substantiated, unimpeachable reasons for accepting the NT's claim. This is to say that the traditional Christian fails to meet her burden of proof, due to the reasonable objections made by critics.

</font>
rw: Wow Earl, I'm impressed. You have explained your position very well. You have met your obligation in terms of burden. But you have still failed to remove one single pawn of your opponents from the board. Everyone who agreed with you at the outset still agree with you now, so you've lost none. Consequently, all those who disagreed with you at the outset still disagree with you now, so you've gained none.
To say a christian must accept your burden of proof is also an empty statement since a christian is presenting a message of faith and not science. All those who accept this burden and try to meet it with various measures of historicity or other such artifices do so at their own risk and seldom change anyone's mind. The biblical message is a message of faith. Either you accept it as such or you don't. It's as simple as that.

Finally, in regards to your claim of being the defense attorney and theists representing the prosecution, this is also an inaccurate analogy. It is not against the law to make a claim, even an extraordinary claim. The christian makes a series of extraordinary claims for which the skeptic judges and prosecutes said claims as to their truth value. It is the skeptic who holds what is analogous to the prosecutors chair.

 
Old 04-13-2001, 10:58 PM   #204
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Rainbow,

Well, I'm reasonably happy with what you've just said. One problem, though: You say that for the Christian it comes down to faith, but of course Nomad, Secweblurker, and most other theists on this board offer for reasons for believing Jesus was buried, an obviously important point for Christianity. So why couldn't they just take Jesus' burial on faith as well? If someone has general faith in God and a certain piece of revelation, and that revelation says Jesus was buried, that should be the end of it. There should then be no reason to appeal to such arguments as put forward by Raymond Brown and the rest to show that the evidence demands belief that Jesus was buried. If the demands a certain belief because the evidence is so clear and one-sided, there is simply no room for faith or trust in spite of the lack of evidence.
 
 

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