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Old 05-02-2001, 01:07 PM   #51
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LAYMAN: No comparison is going to be perfect, but the comparison is very useful.

EARL: On the contrary, the comparison is untenable.



LAYMAN: 1. Both YECs and Jesus-Mythers are ideologically driven to their positions.

EARL: This begs the question as to whether there is strong evidence for Jesus' existence. Since you can't read the mythicist's mind, the only way you could POSSIBLY know that mythicists are ideologically driven is to presuppose that they have no good evidence to back up their position. Since this is the very point at issue, the first aspect of your comparison is fallacious.

One of the reasons, though, why it would make more sense to assume that YECs but not mythicists are ideologically driven, is because of the vast difference in the quantity (if not necessarily the quality--no I won't beg the question as Layman has done) of evidence for evolution and Jesus' existence respectively, as Faded Glory pointed out.



LAYMAN: 2. Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers ignore the overwhelming consensus of the experts in the relevant field of inquiry.

EARL: And this has been refuted by Faded Glory. Because of the vast quantitative difference between the evidence for evolution (and thus an ancient universe) and Jesus' existence, the "overwhelming consensus of the experts in the relevant field of inquiry" is far more meaningful in the case of the hard sciences regarding evolution than the soft science of ancient history regarding Jesus' existence (a religious figure, the study of whom is thus the softest science possible, that is, the science of history mixed at least with theology). So this second point of comparison is rendered very weak by the difference between (1) hard and soft sciences, and (2) the quantity of the evidence for evolution and Jesus' existence.



LAYMAN: 3. Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers ignore an substantial amount of evidence to the contrary.

EARL: This point is also refuted by Faded Glory. Because of the different degrees of strength of the fields of inquiry (biology/chemistry/physics, etc vs. ancient history of a religious figure), the "substantial" evidence for Jesus' existence is actually insubstantial relative to the evidence for evolution. Thus this third point is weak and doesn't substantiate your comparison.



LAYMAN: 4. Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers make money off of their "pop" books, which are not taken seriously be the academic community.

EARL: This point of comparison is closer than the others, but falls flat once again because of another point in the vast difference between the fields of study. There is simply no good reason for evolutionists to laugh at Creationist books other than because of the overwhelming data supporting evolution. Emotions aren't involved. In the case of Jesus' existence, on the other hand, a great many of the "experts in the field" are also Christians and thus have an emotional stake in Jesus' existence besides a critical appreciation of the evidence. Thus they have a motive for mocking the work of mythicists which evolutionists lack regarding Creationists.



LAYMAN: 5. Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers allege that the established contrary consensus is a result of bias and academic peer pressure.

EARL: This fifth point is refuted for the same reason given regarding your fourth point. A conspiracy of sorts is far more likely a priori regarding belief in Jesus' existence than belief in evolution. What does evolution mean personally to scientists? Wherefore their emotional stake in evolution? The learning and the skills developed by evolutionists could very easily be reapplied were the theory of evolution suddenly overturned by a revolutionary new theory. Evolutionists simply have no personal stake in evolution. Were the Jesus Myth theory, however, shown to be overwhelmingly probable, many "experts" on the historical Jesus, being also believing Christians, might very well commit suicide in horror. That's one of the differences that blows away your comparison.

So I repeat, the comparison between Creationism and Mythicism is untenable.
 
Old 05-02-2001, 02:06 PM   #52
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Thanks, Earl.

To which I would like to add that Christians have simply no choice but to refuse to coolly consider the arguments of the 'mythers', because their entire worldview is at stake.

Whereas for non-Christians, it matters little if there was a historical Jesus or not. His existence is immaterial to the question of whether he was divine or not (as Nomad himself points out in the other thread).

There is a clear asymmetry here between Christians and others, which leads to a deeper psychological reflex from Christians than from non-Christians. I suspect that Nomad tries to incite a similar reflex from non-believers by repeating this YEC-mythers comparison as often as he can.

Sorry Nomad, we won't bite

fG
 
Old 05-02-2001, 04:01 PM   #53
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Earl's arguments fail on two grounds.

First, the claims of the theory of evolution are extraordinary, and require extraordinary evidence. So far as I am aware, numerous sciences have accepted that such extraordinary evidence does exist, and it is solid, and explains the origins and development of the various species of the world. This is cool, and I don't argue with it. When it comes to debating scientists, I use the maxim, never bring a knife to a gun fight, and in my case, the knife would be of the butter variety.

Now, the claim that Jesus lived as a human being is perfectly ordinary and mundane. There is nothing whatsoever extraordinary about it at all. On that basis, the common, normal amounts of evidence required by historians to establish that any person of antiquity existed is all that we should demand to establish that Jesus did, in all probability, exist as a human being. In the question of "did Jesus of Nazareth live?" the evidence is beyond the threshold required to agree that yes, he did live.

The second reason Earl's argument fails is that he makes the fallacious claim that people believe Jesus existed largely because their religion requires them to do this, namely Christianity. But what he neglects to mention is that all reputable non-Christian scholars also agree that Jesus did exist. These people have nothing to gain by clinging to such a belief, and they have no vested interest in claiming that Jesus really did live and die here on earth. Since Earl's argument does not account for the agreement of Christian, non-Christian, and even sceptical atheist scholars, he is simply hand waving here.

Nomad
 
Old 05-02-2001, 06:17 PM   #54
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NOMAD: Earl's arguments fail on two grounds.

First, the claims of the theory of evolution are extraordinary, and require extraordinary evidence. So far as I am aware, numerous sciences have accepted that such extraordinary evidence does exist, and it is solid, and explains the origins and development of the various species of the world. This is cool, and I don't argue with it. When it comes to debating scientists, I use the maxim, never bring a knife to a gun fight, and in my case, the knife would be of the butter variety.

Now, the claim that Jesus lived as a human being is perfectly ordinary and mundane. There is nothing whatsoever extraordinary about it at all. On that basis, the common, normal amounts of evidence required by historians to establish that any person of antiquity existed is all that we should demand to establish that Jesus did, in all probability, exist as a human being. In the question of "did Jesus of Nazareth live?" the evidence is beyond the threshold required to agree that yes, he did live.

EARL: Christians really have to stop using the arguments of skeptics to support Christianity. They usually fail to understand the skeptical arguments. For example, in another thread Nomad accused Earl Doherty of committing the fallacy of "special pleading" whereas Doherty did no such thing. Nomad confused Doherty's pointing out an alternative explanation (specifically Doherty used the word "might" a lot, the language of possibility) with special pleading. Skeptics like to rely on logic, and so Nomad tried to beat the skeptics at their own game. Unfortunately, he didn't do enough research to figure out what the fallacy of special pleading is (the fallacy is a form of inconsistency in which a proponent of a position applies certain standards of the evaluation of evidence to her opponents but violates those same standards herself, thus "pleading" that her position deserves "special" consideration).

This time Nomad uses another skeptical argument (besides an emphasis on logic, a favourite, blameless tactic of skeptics), and I know he's seen skeptics use it before, since in a much earlier debate with Nomad Bd and I used this argument regarding the higher burden of proof on believers in miracles. Bd in particular went into great detail explaining why skeptics demand extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim of a miracle. As I recall, Nomad rejected this demand all the way, instead playing against the skeptics the tired card of a "naturalistic bias against the supernatural."

But Nomad wants to pretend to be a skeptic again, this time claiming that evolution is itself an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence. Does Nomad understand what it means to call something extraordinary in this philosophical sense? I think not. Something can be extraordinary only RELATIVE to something else. Thus the term EXTRA-ordinary. To use Bd's example, if common human experience reveals that humans can't run a mile in 10 seconds, the claim that a particular human succeeded in running a mile in 10 seconds is extraordinary relative to common human experience.

So relative to what is the theory of evolution supposed to be extraordinary? The value of the theory of evolution is precisely in the fact that it DOESN'T violate common human experience by postulating unknowable, untestable, mysterious forces. Regarding an account of the origin of life, it is the theistic account that "God did it" that requires extraordinary evidence, not the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is naturalistic, and therefore CONFORMS to virtually ALL of human experience, so far from being "extraordinary" or counter-intuitive. Have you ever seen God create life? I haven't. But I've seen animals fend for themselves and change behavioural patterns given disruptions in their environment. And I've seen DNA get passed through sexual reproduction. And on and on and on.

Here is Nomad's error in a nutshell: he confuses vastness of scope with extraordinariness. The theory of evolution is vast in scope, telling of phenotypic transformations over millions of years. But that doesn't make evolution extraordinary, because the theory of evolution is thoroughly naturalistic and thus doesn't violate common human experience of the regularity and apparent indifference of nature. The theory of evolution does NOT require extraordinary evidence, but it DOES have a vast quantity of excellent pieces of evidence in its favour.

As for the claim that an ordinary human named Jesus lived in the first century, Nomad is correct: that is not an extraordinary claim and therefore doesn't require extraordinary evidence. However, that doesn't mean this claim doesn't require A LOT of evidence. Why should a few scraps of controversial parchments, most or all of which are hearsay, be considered sufficient to prove that a particular person existed in the ancient past? Mythicists don't ask for extraordinary evidence regarding Jesus' existence. They ask only for sufficient evidence.



NOMAD: The second reason Earl's argument fails is that he makes the fallacious claim that people believe Jesus existed largely because their religion requires them to do this, namely Christianity.

EARL: Fallacious? Really? Why do Christians want to try to sound like skeptics when they're unfamiliar with skeptical terminology, in this case elementary logic and the nature of the fallacies? What fallacy did I commit? Can you name it? Or is this a new one that you invented on the spot without telling us how it works? Here then is Nomad's second error in a nutshell: he most likely confused falsity with fallaciousness. He wanted to say that my claim is false, not that it's fallacious. There's a difference between these two terms, but Nomad just wanted to sound more skeptical. Perhaps we skeptics should take this imitation as a compliment.

Or perhaps Nomad thinks I've committed the genetic fallacy. I haven't. I said that Christian faith is a likely source of Christian scholars' belief in Jesus' existence, NOT that this belief is false because of its defective origin in Christian faith. I didn't use the likelihood of a "conspiracy of sorts" itself as evidence against Jesus' existence. Rather, I argued specifically against Layman's claim and said that this "conspiracy's" likelihood--I used the term "conspiracy" loosely--on the part of Christian scholars counts against a comparison between Creationism and mythicism. My point was not that Jesus didn't exist because Christian scholars have religious faith in Jesus' existence. Rather, my point was that Creationism and mythicism are very dissimilar: in this case, the opponents of mythicism have an extra stake in their position that the opponents of Creationism lack. I'll quote my exact words: "In the case of Jesus' existence, on the other hand, a great many of the "experts in the field" are also Christians and thus have an emotional stake in Jesus' existence besides a critical appreciation of the evidence. Thus they have a motive for mocking the work of mythicists which evolutionists lack regarding Creationists…. A conspiracy of sorts is far more likely a priori regarding BELIEF [notice I didn't say the truth of the belief] in Jesus' existence than belief in evolution." Since I stopped short of using this as evidence of something's truth or falsity, I did NOT commit the genetic fallacy.

(See http://www.friesian.com/genetic.htm for an explanation of the difference between referring to a source as a belief's explanation, and referring to a source as evidence of the belief's truth or falsity. Only the latter is fallacious. All the time we explain why people hold certain beliefs by looking at causal factors. As the author writes, "There is a difference between a reason why something is believed (ratio credentis, an explanation) and a reason why something is true (ratio veritatis, a justification). Ideally the latter would be used for the former, but we do often have reasons, even good reasons, for believing things even if we do not know the reasons why they are true. But if reasons for belief are used as though they are reasons for truth, this has been recognized for most of the history of logic as an informal fallacy [1], the "genetic fallacy," in which the origin or the cause of a proposition is taken to have some bearing on its truth. It doesn't.")



NOMAD: But what he neglects to mention is that all reputable non-Christian scholars also agree that Jesus did exist. These people have nothing to gain by clinging to such a belief, and they have no vested interest in claiming that Jesus really did live and die here on earth. Since Earl's argument does not account for the agreement of Christian, non-Christian, and even sceptical atheist scholars, he is simply hand waving here.

EARL: Indeed there surely are non-Christian bible scholars who believe that Jesus existed. Now pay attention as to why this fact is irrelevant to the point I made in my last post. Notice that my point about a conspiracy was in reply specifically to Layman's fifth point of comparison, "Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers allege that the established contrary CONSENSUS is a result of bias and academic peer pressure." I've highlighted the word "consensus." As far as I know most bible scholars in the world are in fact Christians, because in those countries that study Christianity the majority of the population are Christian, and of course Christians would be more interested than any other group in studying something central to their religion, such as the historical Jesus. What percentage of bible scholars would Nomad say is non-Christian? The majority? I should think not.

But if the majority of bible scholars are Christian then my earlier point stands untouched. Layman was talking about the consensus among bible scholars, so I don't have to show that ALL bible scholars are Christians, just that most are, in which case Layman's point about the "consensus" is still undermined. If most bible scholars are Christians, the majority of those forming the consensus in favour of Jesus' existence have an extra stake in their position that evolutionists lack, and therefore the two scholarly agreements are importantly dissimilar. Specifically, the Christian bible scholars would be expected to mock mythicists to a greater extent than would evolutionists mock Creationists. In short, Christian bible scholars and not evolutionists would take the objections PERSONALLY. Christians, after all, claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, whereas evolutionists are not emotionally attached to natural forces.



[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 02, 2001).]
 
Old 05-02-2001, 10:32 PM   #55
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I have to hand it to you Earl. Even for you this has to be the biggest pile of horse hockey you have managed to dish out in a very long time. Not only is it long winded, but through it all, you managed to say almost nothing at all.

I'm impressed.

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

NOMAD: Earl's arguments fail on two grounds.

First, the claims of the theory of evolution are extraordinary, and require extraordinary evidence. So far as I am aware, numerous sciences have accepted that such extraordinary evidence does exist, and it is solid, and explains the origins and development of the various species of the world. This is cool, and I don't argue with it. When it comes to debating scientists, I use the maxim, never bring a knife to a gun fight, and in my case, the knife would be of the butter variety.

Now, the claim that Jesus lived as a human being is perfectly ordinary and mundane. There is nothing whatsoever extraordinary about it at all. On that basis, the common, normal amounts of evidence required by historians to establish that any person of antiquity existed is all that we should demand to establish that Jesus did, in all probability, exist as a human being. In the question of "did Jesus of Nazareth live?" the evidence is beyond the threshold required to agree that yes, he did live.
</font>
I'm going to pause here, because at least Earl quoted it, and I am grateful for that much. Of course, after that he pretty much ignored it, and went off on a wild tangent, determined to demonstrate that, well, Nomad just doesn't have a clue what he is talking about.

While this was cute, I think we should get him to focus on the issues. Now, on to Earl's response, such as it was...

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: Christians really have to stop using the arguments of skeptics to support Christianity.</font>
Not very bloody likely Earl. When the shoe fits it is going to get used in spades. It is unfortunate that you do not like seeing your own logic used against you, but that is a part of the education of some of the common fallacies committed by sceptics in their muddle headed thinking, and also helps to show them where the road leads.

I'm understand that you don't like what you see, but then again, I wasn't surprised by it either.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> They usually fail to understand the skeptical arguments.</font>
Since this statement is sufficiently qualified, it actually doesn't say anything at all. It sure looked like it did at the outset though, didn't it?

Clever debating tactic Earl, but I would rather see you address the issues.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> For example, in another thread Nomad accused Earl Doherty of committing the fallacy of "special pleading" whereas Doherty did no such thing. Nomad confused Doherty's pointing out an alternative explanation (specifically he used the word "might" a lot, the language of possibility) with special pleading.</font>
Dear me. Earl wants to teach linguistics to me. When someone like Doherty resorts to a unique and special interpretation of the Greek, an interpretation that has escaped all previous interpretations offered by all other scholars, this is special pleading. I think you have been reading too much garbage of late Earl. It is leaving you so confused that you can barely differentiate a half assed argument from a total non-argument, and it is showing.

You don't believe Doherty. You rose to his defence because no one else here has even tried. I commend you on the effort, but when your heart isn't in it, then your sloppy thinking will be even more apparent.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Skeptics like to rely on logic, and so Nomad tried to beat the skeptics at their own game. Unfortunately, he didn't do enough research to figure out what the fallacy of special pleading is (the fallacy is a form of inconsistency in which a proponent of a position applies certain standards of the evaluation of evidence to her opponents but violates those same standards herself, thus "pleading" that her position deserves "special" consideration).</font>
I cannot, for the life of me, see how you do not see how Doherty does this exact thing Earl. I suppose you felt it was important to offer Doherty some kind of defence, but this one was particularily pathetic.

Luckily, Doherty himself has said that he will come here to defend his views. At that point we will get a much greater opportunity to see him use this technique (coupled with circular logic, arguments from silence, and a number of other bugbears in the critical thinking world).

I suppose the problem for you is that you experienced cognitive dissonance when you saw a Christian actually using critical thinking. Worst of all, you weren't. Then, you actually jumped into the discussion. Next time you may want to think twice before making such an error again.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This time Nomad uses another skeptical argument (besides an emphasis on logic, a favourite, blameless tactic of skeptics), and I know he's seen skeptics use it before, since in a much earlier debate with Nomad Bd and I used this argument regarding the higher burden of proof on believers in miracles. Bd in particular went into great detail explaining why skeptics demand extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim of a miracle. As I recall, Nomad rejected this demand all the way, instead playing against the skeptics the tired card of a "naturalistic bias against the supernatural."</font>
Can you link to this thread please? This is the second drive by shooting used by ya'll against me, claiming that I said such and such (paraphrasing me no doubt, but I want to see just how well you actually did this paraphrasing). Jess backed down when I challenged her. Would you be so kind as to dig this one up for us Earl?

Thanks.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But Nomad wants to pretend to be a skeptic again, this time claiming that evolution is itself an extraordinary claim and requires extraordinary evidence.</font>
I am not pretending here Earl. One can be both a Christian and a sceptic. Your subtle slams play well with the crowd, but just won't wash with the thinking classes. So pay attention again, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. Non-extraordinary claims require far less proof. In fact, ordinary proof will do.

Now, let's keep going.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Does Nomad understand what it means to call something extraordinary in this philosophical sense? I think not. Something can be extraordinary only RELATIVE to something else. Thus the term EXTRA-ordinary.</font>
Thanks for the tautology.

Now, I'm going to cut off the next part of your rant, and show you why the theory of evolution is quite extraordinary.

Is the theory of evolution intuitive? No. If it was, then we would have thought about it a long time ago. Has anyone actually seen one species evolve into another species? Again no. The time periods involved are enormous, and nobody lives long enough to do it. Does anyone have a firm grasp of all of the arguments in all of the sciences involved? Again, no. And no biggie. Each has solid methods, and more or less an built in bias to get at the truth, whatever that truth may be. That is cool. But don't go simplistic on me, and try to tell us that evolution is just plain common sense. It isn't, and if you want to go there, talk to Bede and PhysicsGuy, who are both trained scientists (something neither you nor I happen to be, in ANY field) and learn something.

It is the kind of simple minded faith that people like you have in science that drives many theists crazy, even the ones that happen to agree with you on this issue.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To use Bd's example, if common human experience reveals that humans can't run a mile in 10 seconds, the claim that a particular human succeeded in running a mile in 10 seconds is extraordinary relative to common human experience.</font>
Um... we aren't talking about the 10 second mile here. We are talking about a guy that was born, lived and died about 2000 years ago. NOT extraordinary. Now stop being confused please.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So relative to what is the theory of evolution supposed to be extraordinary? The value of the theory of evolution is precisely in the fact that it DOESN'T violate common human experience by postulating unknowable, untestable, mysterious forces.

{SNIP the rest}</font>
Yes it does, and your simplemindedness on this question is telling. Talk to Bede and PhysicsGuy.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Here is Nomad's error in a nutshell: he confuses vastness of scope with extraordinariness. The theory of evolution is vast in scope, telling of phenotypic transformations over millions of years.</font>
it is also a vastness of fields of knowledge that make it IMPOSSIBLE for a single individual to aquire even a tiny fraction of all of the relevant expertise to speak knowledgeably about every facet. That makes the claims very extraordinary Earl.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for the claim that an ordinary human named Jesus lived in the first century, Nomad is correct: that is not an extraordinary claim and therefore doesn't require extraordinary evidence. However, that doesn't mean this claim doesn't require A LOT of evidence.</font>
Since the rest of your post on this topic is mere assertion, give us your definition of a "LOT" of evidence Earl. You feel free to toss out evidence everyone trained in the field has found acceptable. Why do you do that? Are your skills as a sceptic superior to those of a Donald Akenson, or Michael Grant? How about Morton Smith or John Domminic Crossan? Where did you aquire your confidence in your ability to be sceptical about such things? What authority do you rely upon, or is your own doubts sufficient?

Do you apply the standard evenly? And while we are at it, was Julius Caesar assassinated?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Why should a few scraps of controversial parchments, most or all of which are hearsay, be considered sufficient to prove that a particular person existed in the ancient past?</font>
Good question. Did anyone exist in the ancient past? How can we know right?

Is history bunk? Was Henry Ford right?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Mythicists don't ask for extraordinary evidence regarding Jesus' existence. They ask only for sufficient evidence.</font>
Hmm... and this is defined as... let me guess... more than we got now. Am I right?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: The second reason Earl's argument fails is that he makes the fallacious claim that people believe Jesus existed largely because their religion requires them to do this, namely Christianity. </font>
I want to pause again, because Earl is going to dance fast, and quite well, and try to play a semantics game in hopes of escaping from the box he finds himself in right here. It is a fine piece of work, and might even have worked. Sadly, I was watching, and the magic just didn't quite work.

B+ for effort though Earl.

Let's look again.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: Fallacious? Really? Why do Christians want to try to sound like skeptics when they're unfamiliar with skeptical terminology, in this case elementary logic and the nature of the fallacies?</font>
You are not talking to ChristianS Earl. You are talking to me. Don't lump us all together here. If I have erred, it is mine alone, so don't go trying to tar the rest.

Luckily, I didn't err, but I thought you should be cautioned about this bit of propagandizing and grandstanding on your part. It was impressive, but you should have known better.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> What fallacy did I commit? Can you name it?</font>
I told it to you Earl. Don't tell me that you missed it, and now I have to tell you again.

Alright, I will.

You said:

EARL: This fifth point is refuted for the same reason given regarding your fourth point. A conspiracy of sorts is far more likely a priori regarding belief in Jesus' existence than belief in evolution. What does evolution mean personally to scientists? Wherefore their emotional stake in evolution? The learning and the skills developed by evolutionists could very easily be reapplied were the theory of evolution suddenly overturned by a revolutionary new theory. Evolutionists simply have no personal stake in evolution. Were the Jesus Myth theory, however, shown to be overwhelmingly probable, many "experts" on the historical Jesus, being also believing Christians, might very well commit suicide in horror. That's one of the differences that blows away your comparison.

Did you type all of this with a straight face? Evolutionists do not have an emotional stake in the theory of evolution? Have you never heard of, nor seen professional pride in action? Your naivete would be almost charming if it were not so completely mind boggling.

Now, you had contrasted this with your previous statement about NT scholars:

Earl: In the case of Jesus' existence, on the other hand, a great many of the "experts in the field" are also Christians and thus have an emotional stake in Jesus' existence besides a critical appreciation of the evidence. Thus they have a motive for mocking the work of mythicists which evolutionists lack regarding Creationists.

Which scholars have mocked the mythers as you have asserted here Earl? Could you quote them please? And could you offer some context? Also, are you saying that a Christian is incapable of engaging in the kind of critical thinking necessary to judge the historicity of Jesus? If so, how did you make this determination? I understand that you have nothing but contempt for our intellectual abilities and honesty Earl, but once again, your grandstanding is getting you into trouble. Such a broad brushed tarring of Christians is very close to being bigoted, and we would want that to happen would we?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Or is this a new one that you invented on the spot without telling us how it works?</font>
If you were confused, all you had to do was ask Earl. I hope it is clearer for you now. Your fallacies were so obvious, perhaps I made the mistake of not recognizing that you actually missed them.

The next time you want to accuse Christian scholars of being biased to the point of being incapable of critical thinking on this question, try to be more careful. Such fallacies are very hard to defend. Worst of all, since we both know that all of the non-Christian scholars (including the atheist ones) happen to agree 100% with the Christian scholars on this question, your attitude towards the Christian scholars really is question begging.

Do you think it is credible to say that every scholar except Doherty (who actually isn't a scholar, but that is another can of worms even I am hoping will not get opened) comes to the same conclusion about the historicity of Jesus, but the Christian scholars are somehow coloured in their conclusions simply because they are Christians? Perhaps you could go about proving this claim Earl. I would love to see you do it.

How about this, show us a true scholar that agrees that Jesus is a 100% mythical invention. I don't even care if you know his arguments or not. I'll look them up if you can find such a person.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Here then is Nomad's second error in a nutshell: he most likely confused falsity with fallaciousness. He wanted to say that my claim is false, not that it's fallacious.</font>
From Webster's.com:

Main Entry: fal·la·cious
Function: adjective
1 : embodying a fallacy
2 : tending to deceive or mislead


You did this in spades Earl. So the next time, before you try to bore us with semantics, make sure you are on solid ground. Your argument embraced a fallacy. It might even have been intended to deceive or mislead. Your accusation that Christians do something simply because I did something certainly qualifies under that banner.

So, don't go digging any more holes for yourself to crawl out of Earl.

Oh, and when ya'll go for your dictionaries:

Main Entry: fal·la·cy
Function: noun
1 a obsolete {snip}
2 a : a false or mistaken idea &lt;popular fallacies&gt; b : erroneous character : ERRONEOUSNESS
3 : an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference


I'm guessing you replied before thinking Earl. Otherwise you would not have been so hasty to accuse me of something without understanding that I had, in fact, labled you correctly.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> There's a difference between these two terms, but Nomad just wanted to sound more skeptical.</font>
No, you committed a fallacy, and compounded it with this post. Nomad just wants you to better understand that now, so you won't compound your error even further.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Perhaps we skeptics should take this imitation as a compliment.</font>
Perhaps Earl. Just make sure you know how to do it yourself. If you watch my posts you might learn how to do it better.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">...My point was not that Jesus didn't exist because Christian scholars have religious faith in Jesus' existence. Rather, my point was that Creationism and mythicism are very dissimilar: in this case, the opponents of mythicism have an extra stake in their position that the opponents of Creationism lack.</font>
See how you are still committing this fallacy? How do non-Christian scholars have a stake in the existence or non-existence of Jesus? How can you claim that they have a motive that is not tied to the honest pursuit of historical truth? Further, how can you know that Christian scholars are not actually interested in the honest answer to this question, and will pursue it with integrity? Then tell us how you came to know this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Since I stopped short of using this as evidence of something's truth or falsity, I did NOT commit the genetic fallacy.</font>
You made a truth statement that is false. You claimed that Christian scholars are affected by their Christianity in pursuing this question. You cannot prove this, and further, you have failed to demonstrate at all that they reached their conclusions in any manner that is different from the non-Christian scholars. Don't do it again.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(See http://www.friesian.com/genetic.htm</font>
But if reasons for belief are used as though (emphasis in original) they are reasons for truth, this has been recognized for most of the history of logic as an informal fallacy, the "genetic fallacy," in which the origin or the cause of a proposition is taken to have some bearing on its truth. It doesn't.

Not wanting to get too deep into semantic quibbles here Earl, but you really didn't see yourself do this did you?

How sad.

You believe that Christian scholars are impaired from pursuing the historical Jesus because they believe that He is God. You cannot prove this, and since the conclusions drawn by Christian scholars is identical to those drawn by non-Christian scholars on the essentials of this question (i.e. Jesus lived, taught, died) your claim fails completely. In other words, what you believe to be the truth is not the truth, but you still believe that it is the truth.

Try not to do these semantic quibbles with me again please.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: But what he neglects to mention is that all reputable non-Christian scholars also agree that Jesus did exist. These people have nothing to gain by clinging to such a belief, and they have no vested interest in claiming that Jesus really did live and die here on earth. Since Earl's argument does not account for the agreement of Christian, non-Christian, and even sceptical atheist scholars, he is simply hand waving here.

EARL: Indeed there surely are non-Christian bible scholars who believe that Jesus existed. Now pay attention as to why this fact is irrelevant to the point I made in my last post. Notice that my point about a conspiracy was in reply specifically to Layman's fifth point of comparison, "Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers allege that the established contrary CONSENSUS is a result of bias and academic peer pressure." I've highlighted the word "consensus." As far as I know most bible scholars in the world are in fact Christians, because in those countries that study Christianity the majority of the population are Christian, and of course Christians would be more interested than any other group in studying something central to their religion, such as the historical Jesus. What percentage of bible scholars would Nomad say is non-Christian? The majority? I should think not.</font>
Who knows Earl. Your fallacy is not rooted in numbers. It is rooted in an uprovable (and unfallisfiable) assertion that Christian scholars cannot pursue the historical Jesus with the same level of objectivity as the non-Christian scholar.

Try this... the concensus amongst historians that have studied the question of Jesus' historicity have reached a consensus because the evidence is convincing, and convincing to the point that it is accepted as an historical fact. That would account for the consensus far better than your speculations on the question.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">...If most bible scholars are Christians, the majority of those forming the consensus in favour of Jesus' existence have an extra stake in their position that evolutionists lack, and therefore the two scholarly agreements are importantly dissimilar.</font>
While I don't doubt that you actually believe this, I would suggest that you open your eyes Earl. Human beings have a powerful vested interest in their opinions, and scholars in a particular area of expertise are especially prone to this. If you don't think that scientists are emotionally committed to evolution (and rightly so in my opinion) put them in a debate with a committed YECer, and watch what happens. It is not a pretty sight.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...Christians, after all, claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, whereas evolutionists are not emotionally attached to natural forces.</font>
This is a clever bit of word play as well, and I just wanted to draw attention to it.

Scientists are not emotionally attached to natural forces. They are, however, emotionally attached to the theory called Evolution. The difference is crucial, and I am surprised that Earl didn't realize it... until now.

Thanks Earl, but next time, please try not to be both excessively verbose, and excessively wrong in the same post. Replying to this kind of stuff takes a long time, and if you could sum up your arguments in briefer points, we could save a lot of time.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited May 03, 2001).]
 
Old 05-03-2001, 10:07 AM   #56
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But if the majority of bible scholars are Christian then my earlier point stands untouched. Layman was talking about the consensus among bible scholars, so I don't have to show that ALL bible scholars are Christians, just that most are, in which case Layman's point about the "consensus" is still undermined. If most bible scholars are Christians, the majority of those forming the
consensus in favour of Jesus' existence have an extra stake in their position that evolutionists lack, and therefore the two scholarly agreements are importantly dissimilar. Specifically, the Christian bible scholars would be expected to mock mythicists to a greater extent than would evolutionists mock Creationists. In short, Christian bible scholars and not evolutionists would take the
objections PERSONALLY. Christians, after all, claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus, whereas evolutionists are not emotionally attached to natural forces. </font>
Ahh yes, no Jesus-Myth defense would be complete without the conspiracy/bias angle. All bible scholars are Christians so they would never admit that Jesus does not exist.

Except I never limited the consensus to "Bible scholars" and not all "Bible scholars" are Christians. Jewish scholars such as Germa Vermes accept the existence of Jesus. None reject him that I am aware of. NonChristian liberal scholars such as J.D. Crossan and many of his fellows at the Jesus Seminar accept the existence of Jesus. NonChristian Ancient Historians such as Michael Grant, A.N. Sherman-White, and Will Durant accept the existence of Jesus. Or A.N. Wilson who affirmatively accepts the existence of Jesus while at the same time ranting and raving about the evils of Christianity.

The consensus is across the board and not confined to seminaries.

And the notion that evolutionists don't have an emotional or personal stake in their commitment to "natural forces" is a ridiculous statement. Of course they do. Their philosophical and methodological committment to naturalism is an overwhelming encouragement to reject any notion of divine intervention. Just hear them shriek about the "God of the Gaps" or Carl Sagan rant about coming out of "superstitious times." They may be right, but its obviously they are personally committed to naturalistic explanations alone.
 
Old 05-03-2001, 11:54 AM   #57
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I wonder why the Jesus-myth hypothesis provokes such an emotional response in some people, such as what we have seen here.
 
Old 05-03-2001, 06:35 PM   #58
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Does anyone want to talk about who founded the church in Rome</font>
Sorry for coming in so late, but as I found out about this board only recently, there were no options! &lt;G&gt;

The following scenario is my own synthesis of various bits of info I've picked up here and there, and while none of these bits is original with me, I believe the synthesis is uncommon.

It is well known that within the Diaspora communities, gentiles were attracted to the morality and community of Judaism, but were not particularly fond of the idea of many of the mitzvot, ; especially 17 (circumcision), 82 (familiarity with close relatives), 572 (the uncleanness of a menstruating woman, with its corrolaries), and the rules of property and business.
These God-Fearers, as they were known, were welcomed into the synagogues and discussion groups, but could not fully participate in the benefits of being one of God's chosen.

I believe Jesus' message was that those of the Jews who believed the Kingdom of God would be the product of an act of God were mistaken; that the Kingdom of God would be the natural product if everyone followed the rules, if everyone lived their lives according to all the Mitzvot. That was what the rules were about! They were not precursors to the Kingdom, but in fact defined it. Only then would the Mosiach arise; only then would the yoke of the foreigner be cast off.

It was this that attracted those Jews who became followers. It was not the legalism of the Pharisees, nor the strict purity of the Saduccees that would attract God's beneficence. God's beneficence was there to be had, if only each man exercised that which God already put into him. You did not have to be a great scholar to understand the simplicity of this message. It is the whole basis of "Love they neighbor as theyself." If your heart was pure, it made no matter that your hands weren't.

When he died, this message was already spreading throughout the Galilee, and in certain parts of Judea. The method of its dispersion comes, I think, from the Temple festivals, when thousands traveled from the Diaspora up to Jerusalem. "Have you heard about the teacher that said the Kingdom is within us?" Over a few years, as more and more people heard this, more and more people took it to heart, and it spread throughout the Diaspora cities of the Empire, including Rome itself.

This was a very attractive message to the God Fearers, for now they could fully participate in the Kingdom without losing their foreskins. This is where Paul becomes most important. While I do not think he originated the message that salvation comes through Jesus, I believe he is the one that codified it in its recognizable gentile form. It's Paul that says the Mitzvot do not apply to the gentile, because they are not Jews, but that does not hinder their chances for partaking in the Kingdom. And, I think it's here that we find the basis for the dispute between Paul and James. James, of the old school, believes that the God Fearers are still less than chosen, regardless of their accepting his brother's teachings, because they do not follow kashrut, because they touch impure things, because they are not Jews. While the proselytes were always readily accepted by Jews, these God Fearers were another matter altogether. They wanted to dance without paying the piper,as it were.

Hence, to answer your original question (or a reasonable facsimile thereof! &lt;G&gt; ) I think the church in Rome (or elsewhere) wasn't so much founded as it emerged naturally by the gradual but steady increase in people of the Diaspora who accepted this message as true Judaism as it was brought back to them from their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Now, as I'm sure you've noticed, this says nothing about the emergence of the resurrection stories, which I fully believe have a quite mundane explanation; nor how those stories were incorporated into the theology. But, I think it is the most likely explanation for the earliest spread of nascent Christianity.

Rip away! &lt;G&gt;
 
Old 05-03-2001, 09:12 PM   #59
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Part 1 of 3.

NOMAD: I have to hand it to you Earl. Even for you this has to be the biggest pile of horse hockey you have managed to dish out in a very long time. Not only is it long winded, but through it all, you managed to say almost nothing at all.

I'm impressed.

[SNIP]

EARL: And as usual I take your increasing sarcasm, arrogance, and all around abuse as sure signs that you've run out of answers on the subject. So far from demonstrating that you do understand the meaning of the words "fallacy," "special pleading," "genetic fallacy," "begging the question," and "metaphysical extraordinariness" you have given ample evidence in your last post that you still don't have a clue. So I repeat: leave the skeptical terminology to skeptics and stick to Christian arguments, until you research those terms and understand them. Stop throwing around terms of logic and science as if you knew what they meant.

Although I haven't remotely obeyed Nomad by writing a brief reply, I will make the following compromise. This will be my last major post in this thread. After this I will not respond to your reply point by point. I will give you the last word and let the reader judge.

Why did I write such a detailed reply to Nomad? Because I think Nomad's ignorance of skeptical terminology is worth exposing at length. Nomad has tried to sound skeptical, logical and scientific, whereas he obviously has very little grounding in these areas. Most of the present three part post is dedicated to supporting this assertion.



EARL: They [Christians] usually fail to understand the skeptical arguments.

NOMAD: Since this statement is sufficiently qualified, it actually doesn't say anything at all. It sure looked like it did at the outset though, didn't it?

Clever debating tactic Earl, but I would rather see you address the issues.

EARL: Oh, but I substantiated that statement by showing throughout the post that you, Nomad, are apparently one of the Christians who doesn't understand the terminology often used by skeptics. So I was saying something after all. You have now shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don't understand the meaning of the terms you used. I did address a very important issue: your misguided attempt to sound like a skeptic and beat skeptics at their own game, even though you evidently haven't well researched evolution, logic and the fallacies, which skeptics like to focus on.



NOMAD: Dear me. Earl wants to teach linguistics to me. When someone like Doherty resorts to a unique and special interpretation of the Greek, an interpretation that has escaped all previous interpretations offered by all other scholars, this is special pleading. I think you have been reading too much garbage of late Earl. It is leaving you so confused that you can barely differentiate a half assed argument from a total non-argument, and it is showing.

EARL: NO! That's NOT the fallacy of special pleading. Once again, you have confused the offering of an alternative possibility, in this case, a different reading of a Greek word, with the fallacy of special pleading. These are not the same, and I will explain the difference to you as well as I can. Beyond that you must consult a logic text book.

Here is a classic example of special pleading. The theist commits the fallacy when she says something that amounts to this: "We have to be very skeptical of the holy Scriptures from other religions, but trusting regarding the Scriptures of my own religion. We have to doubt the validity of the testimony regarding miracles in other religions, such as Mormonism, but not that of the testimony from my own religion." That's special pleading, since in this case the theist not only takes a unique (in this case, relaxed) perspective on some of the evidence for miracles (namely the evidence found in her own religion) but simultaneously holds theists from all other religions to a higher standard. The second part is absolutely crucial. It is NOT fallacious simply to offer an alternative, even unique interpretation of something, which is what Doherty does. That is NOT special pleading. Anyone is free to offer a unique interpretation of some piece of evidence. The fallacy is committed when the person goes on to hold everyone else to a higher standard and then actively violate that same standard herself.

Let's examine Nomad's use of the term "special pleading" from the other thread on Doherty (http://www.infidels.org/electronic/forum/Forum6/HTML/000432.html ). In Nomad's April 19, 2001 02:22 PM post, we find this first exchange (I mark off the whole exchange with asterisks):

***EARL (quoting Doherty): Regarding Gal.1:19, Doherty says "The term 'brother' (adelphos) appears throughout Paul's letters, and was a common designation Christians gave to each other. In 1 Corinthians 1:1 Sosthenes is called 'adelphos', as is Timothy in Colossians 1:1. Neither one of them, nor the more than 500 'brothers' who received a vision of the spiritual Christ in Corinthians 15:6, are to be considered siblings of Jesus. 'Brothers in the Lord' (adelphon en kurio) appears in Philippians 1:14 (the NEB translates it 'our fellow-Christians').

NOMAD: All of this would be a lot more impressive if Paul had actually referred to someone BESIDES James as being the "brother of the Lord".

Christians call one another brother to this day, and this does not mean that I do not have an actual biological (and very real) brother. Doherty resorts to the worst kind of special pleading here.***


Now all Doherty does here is to give an alternative interpretation of an instance of the word "adelphos" here, making it consistent with many other uses of the term by early Christians denoting fellowship not a biological connection. Doherty does not hold everyone to a higher standard that he then breaks, and therefore he does NOT commit the fallacy. Doherty would have committed the fallacy were he to have said something like this: "the word adelphos must be translated as 'sibling' in every other case but the few that I'm interpreting as 'fellow disciple.'" Were Doherty to have held all other scholars to a certain interpretation of "adelphos" based on a certain set of reasons, but then to have violated that uniform translation, ignore that set of reasons, and base his whole argument around an allegedly special case of "adelphos" he would have committed the fallacy.

But Doherty does the exact opposite! He wants to correct the traditional Christian's special plea regarding the word "adelphos" and make the interpretation uniform! So Nomad's audacity and ignorance here are striking. So far from committing the fallacy himself, Doherty actually corrects the traditionalist's special plea: Doherty wants to remove the interpretation of "adelphos" given of a few passages taken to imply that Jesus had siblings, and render EVERY instance of "adelphos" regarding Jesus and his followers as "fellow disciples," given the absence of any independent evidence that Jesus had siblings. Here it is Doherty who wants to be uniform, and the Christian traditionalist who makes an exceptional interpretation of "adelphos" relative to the common early Christian use of the term to denote merely fellowship. Nomad doesn't merely fail to understand what "special pleading" means; he actually succeeds in reversing the truth.

But he does worse. Look what Nomad says: "Christians call one another brother to this day, and this does not mean that I do not have an actual biological (and very real) brother. Doherty resorts to the worst kind of special pleading here." Here Nomad confuses special pleading and the argument from silence. Nomad accuses Doherty of arguing that because the early Christians used the term "adelphos" to denote fellowship, therefore Jesus and apparently none of the Christians (even the modern ones) have any siblings. Obviously this is a strawman attack on Nomad's part, but it also shows that Nomad is really talking about an alleged argument from silence on Doherty's part. Yet Nomad calls the fallacy not just "special pleading" but special pleading "of the worst kind"!

Here's another Nomadian use of "special pleading:"

***EARL: "In this way, we can understand the concept of Christ being 'in flesh' (en sarki, kata sarka, etc.), a stereotyped phrase which appears with surprising regularity in the epistles. It signifies either that Christ took on the spiritual counterpart of flesh, its 'likeness,' when he descended to the lower celestial sphere (as in the Ascension of Isaiah 9 or the hymn of Philippians 2:6-11), or as Barrett has suggested, that he entered the 'sphere of the flesh,' which included the realm of the demon spirits in the firmament. On occasion, it may refer to Christ's 'visit' to that sphere, as in 'the days of the flesh [not 'Earth' as Nomad's mistranslation says]' in Hebrews 5:7" ("The Jesus Puzzle," 122).

NOMAD: A mistranslation???

[Nomad then quotes the NIV, NET, RSV, and KJV translations of Heb.5:7, only the first two of which specifically use the term "earth," thus begging the question.]

I would say that plain reading rather than special pleading makes a whole lot more sense. Every one of them has Jesus in the flesh and/or here on earth (kind of like the rest of us).***


No instance of special pleading is found here, contrary to Nomad. Once again, Nomad confuses offering a different interpretation of something and the fallacy of special pleading. Apparently Nomad thinks that anyone who disagrees with him, thereby offering a different interpretation--especially a minority one--asks for "special" consideration in the technically fallacious sense. Nomad is dead wrong. Doherty's point is just that Paul's term "in the flesh" needn't mean a location specifically on Earth, but could denote a location in a whole lower sphere of reality, according to the ancient multi-leveled view of the universe. The "fleshly" level of reality is not just physical but morally depraved as well. "Flesh" had moral connotations for Paul, says Doherty.

Now look how Nomad thinks Doherty has committed the fallacy: Nomad says that because Doherty disagrees with the traditional interpretation of "in the flesh" (that it necessarily means life on the planet Earth as opposed to a lower sphere of reality in general, which would be consistent with a merely spiritual Jesus), therefore Doherty has made a special plea in the fallacious sense. Once again, we need simply ask, What is the higher standard that Doherty applies to all other bible scholars and then himself breaks? Nomad contrasts "plain reading" with "special pleading," as if the fallacy amounted only to offering an alternative, minority interpretation that violates a "plain" reading. This unmistakably shows that Nomad has confused challenging the status quo and special pleading. It is NOT fallacious simply to challenge an accepted interpretation.

Here is the third Nomadian use of "special pleading" from his April 19, 2001 05:31 PM post (in the same thread as mentioned above):

***EARL (quoting Doherty, but Nomad's highlights): Regarding James, here's a quotation from Doherty's web site (http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus/rfset3.htm#Sean ):

"It is sometimes argued that the "brothers of the Lord" mentioned here [1 Cor.9:5) cannot signify the Jerusalem group with James as its head, since Peter is named separately, and "apostles" are also referred to as distinct from these "brothers". I don't see a problem. Paul himself is an apostle (as he vociferously claims in this passage) and he is not a part of James' group; the reference to "the rest of the apostles" MAY ([Nomad:] note here: this is a key point showing how conjecture works) simply be to missionaries like himself, whether from Jerusalem or other places. Or it MAY be that he is referring to those among the brothers in Jerusalem who specifically do apostolic work.

NOMAD: Now do you see how this special pleading is working here? Any sensible person reading the text is going to say that Paul is talking about three groups of people, namely the apostles, Peter and the brothers of Jesus. This is pretty reasonable since that is exactly what the text says.***


Yes, I do understand what "special pleading" means but Nomad does not. Here Nomad went out of his way to highlight Doherty's use of the word "may," even going so far as to note that "this is a key point showing how conjecture works." This unmistakably demonstrates that Nomad equates "conjecture" and "special pleading." Nomad is thus guilty of the very confusion I've attributed to him all along, that between giving an alternative, even minority interpretation (one that may challenge a "plain" reading and amount to "conjecture"), and committing the fallacy of special pleading. Nomad thinks that because Doherty is left to argue what "may" be the case regarding a particular use of "adelphos," and thus resorts (allegedly) to "conjecture," that therefore Doherty has committed the fallacy of special pleading. Will someone wake Nomad up and tell him that "conjecture" is not synonymous with "special pleading? Will someone inform Nomad that "special pleading" is a technical term that has a very specific meaning?

So much for Nomad's alleged understanding of the term "special pleading." On with the reply.



EARL: This time Nomad uses another skeptical argument (besides an emphasis on logic, a favourite, blameless tactic of skeptics), and I know he's seen skeptics use it before, since in a much earlier debate with Nomad Bd and I used this argument regarding the higher burden of proof on believers in miracles. Bd in particular went into great detail explaining why skeptics demand extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim of a miracle. As I recall, Nomad rejected this demand all the way, instead playing against the skeptics the tired card of a "naturalistic bias against the supernatural."

NOMAD: Can you link to this thread please? This is the second drive by shooting used by ya'll against me, claiming that I said such and such (paraphrasing me no doubt, but I want to see just how well you actually did this paraphrasing). Jess backed down when I challenged her. Would you be so kind as to dig this one up for us Earl?

[SNIP]

EARL: It wasn't exactly easy to find, since it's several months old. But I found it. See the thread "The Unfairness of Divine Revelation," found at
http://www.infidels.org/electronic/forum/Archives/Archive-000005/HTML/20001109- 4-000106-2.html.

Bd gives the runner analogy in his September 04, 2000 12:30 PM post. Nomad then replies in his September 04, 2000 10:39 PM post:

"I made the point that anyone willing to address this question MUST be willing to accept that if they personally witnessed one of the miracles discribed in the Bible first hand, then they would believe it to be true. If we begin from an a priori position that miracles are flat out impossible, then of course no amount of evidence will be sufficient. And really, the rest of your post, together with that of Earl, AstroSkeptic and the others (with the exception of SkepticOne) has this fundamental problem. At the end of the day, no matter the level of evidence offered, it is not possible to describe this event as miraculous BECAUSE MIRACLES CANNOT HAPPEN.

"This is, quite simply, the betrayal of a closed mind. The condition the skeptic has set for the theist is simply impossible to overcome, because as Jesus Himself told us, if you have not believed the prophets, then you will not believe a man though he come back from the dead.

"The point you have missed through all of this is not that the Resurrection happened as irrefutable fact, because anyone that knows anything about history knows that this is not possible. But the test of rationality can be applied, but ONLY if all parties concede from the outset that anything could be possible, even if the only good answer turns out to be a bone fide miracle."

And Nomad goes on and on like this. Here's Bd's reply to Nomad's misrepresentation of skepticism regarding miracles (from Bd's September 05, 2000 12:59 AM post): "I didn't stack the deck, Nomad. The real world did, by stubbornly refusing to bring forth a single verifiable example of a miracle in my lifetime, to say the least. (And by verifiable, I mean verifiable according to "naive" standards which ignore the fact that miracles are, at best, exremely infrequent and that therefore any given alleged miracle is extremely unlikely. Otherwise the argument would be circular.)

"It isn't my fault that God chose to appear on Earth at a time when the technology for recording convincing evidence of His miracles was not yet available. And it isn't my fault that the miracles that He chose to perform were so penny-ante that the people of His day took very little notice of them, to the point that no eyewitnesses even bothered to record them."

This shows unmistakably that Nomad used the "anti-supernatural bias" card against the skeptics. However, I misremembered the thread when I said that Nomad rejected the principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (Contrary to Christians human memory is creative and fallible.) I wasn't sure about this point, which is why I prefaced it with the qualification "as I recall." Instead Nomad argued that there is indeed extraordinary evidence for Jesus' resurrection. This is shown in Nomad's September 01, 2000 11:28 AM post:

"SKEPTIC ONE: I've mentioned this is another thread, but I tend to follow the skeptics creed given by Carl Sagan that says extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Someone rising from the dead is quite extraordinary. Some unknown person writing about it 40 years later is hardly extraordinary evidence.

"NOMAD: I agree with Sagan's standard, and anyone who has studied ancient history will tell us that the amount of evidence we have from the Gospels and extra-canonical sources for the Resurrection is unprecedented."



EARL: Does Nomad understand what it means to call something extraordinary in this philosophical sense? I think not. Something can be extraordinary only RELATIVE to something else. Thus the term EXTRA-ordinary.

NOMAD: Thanks for the tautology.

EARL: It was just a definition.



NOMAD: Now, I'm going to cut off the next part of your rant, and show you why the theory of evolution is quite extraordinary.

Is the theory of evolution intuitive? No. If it was, then we would have thought about it a long time ago.

EARL: Extraordinariness is not synonymous with intuitiveness. Extraordinariness, in the context of a discussion about the burden of proof, refers to the degree of familiarity in human experience.

By the way, Darwin's theory did indeed have its ancient precursors. The Presocratic philosophers came up with the general idea behind the theory of natural selection. Empedocles conceived of biological transformation through adaptation and death. See http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/ancient.html :

"The fifth-century materialist Empedocles of Acragas (in Sicily), postulated that the universe was composed of four basic elements -- earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were stirred by two fundamental forces, which Empedocles called Love and Strife. ("Attraction" and "repulsion" might be better modern terms for what Empedocles actually meant.) The constant interplay of these elements, alternately attracting and repelling each other, had formed the universe. Empedocles claimed that the Earth had given birth to living creatures, but that the first creatures had been disembodied organs. These organs finally joined into whole organisms, through the force of Love, but some of these organisms, being monstrous and unfit for life, had died out.

"The theory seems a bit bizarre today, but Empedocles had come up with a sort of evolutionary theory: past natural selection is responsible for the forms we see today. Empedocles also ascribed the origin of the life of today to the interplay of impersonal forces, in which chance, not the gods, played the major role. There are, however, major differences between Empedocles's ideas and natural selection in the modern sense: Empedocles conceived of his "natural selection" as a past event, not as an ongoing process. Once again, we do not know whether Empedocles had actually found supporting evidence for his theories. He may have been influenced by existing accounts of mythological creatures that seemed to be "put together" out of the parts of different animals, such as centaurs, sphinxes, and chimeras. But perhaps he had also seen deformed animals, or examined "monstrous-looking" fossil bones."

Lucretius worked with part of the idea (see the above link): "the Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 B.C.E.) wrote his long philosophical poem De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of Things"). In this poem Lucretius proposed, among other things, an "evolutionary" theory similar to that of Empedocles (which is ironic, because he attacks Empedocles rather vehemently in other parts of the poem). Here again, species were born out of the Earth, formed by the chance combination of elements. Natural selection led to the extinction of once-living "monstrous" organisms. Those organisms that survived either survived because of their strength, speed, or cunning, or because of their usefulness to people. But Lucretius did not believe in the production of new species from previously existing ones, the "other side of the coin" of true evolutionary theories. He denied that land-dwelling animals could ever have evolved from marine animals. Like Empedocles, he taught that plants and animals had been born from the Earth, and that the formation of new species was finished."

Anaximander "believed that marine life was the first life on Earth and that changes happened to animals when they moved to dry land." See http://www-adm.pdx.edu/user/sinq/gre...y/natural.htm.

Aristotle followed up on the idea. In Aristotle's words, "A difficulty presents itself: why should not nature work, not for the sake of something, nor because it is better so, but just as the sky rains, not in order to make the corn grow, but of necessity? What is drawn up must cool, and what has been cooled must become water and descend, the result of this being that the corn grows. Similarly if a man's crop is spoiled on the threshing-floor, the rain did not fall for the sake of this-in order that the crop might be spoiled-but that result just followed. Why then should it not be the same with the parts in nature, e.g. that our teeth should come up of necessity - the front teeth sharp, fitted for tearing, the molars broad and useful for grinding down the food - since they did not arise for this end, but it was merely a coincident result; and so with all other parts in which we suppose that there is purpose? Wherever then all the parts came about just what they would have been if they had come be for an end, such things survived, being organized spontaneously in a fitting way; whereas those which grew otherwise perished and continue to perish, as Empedocles says his 'man-faced ox-progeny' did."



[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 03, 2001).]
 
Old 05-03-2001, 09:14 PM   #60
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Part 2 of 3.

NOMAD: Has anyone actually seen one species evolve into another species? Again no. The time periods involved are enormous, and nobody lives long enough to do it.

EARL: This is blatantly false. Speciation has been observed. For many, many examples see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html and http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html.

Nomad has also failed to grasp the difference between vastness in scope and in principle (or metaphysical) extraordinariness. Natural selection does indeed work across millions of years which we can't observe directly, but we are familiar with the mechanisms behind natural selection, which are naturalistic and not therefore extraordinary in the technical sense. On the other hand, we can indeed observe the very slow changes indirectly by looking at the fossil record. So Nomad is wrong on several counts here.



NOMAD: Does anyone have a firm grasp of all of the arguments in all of the sciences involved? Again, no. And no biggie. Each has solid methods, and more or less an built in bias to get at the truth, whatever that truth may be. That is cool.

EARL: Once again, we have the confusion between vastness in scope and in principle extraordinariness. The fact that there is so very much evidence in favour of evolution, and so very much to say about natural selection hardly shows that evolution is a metaphysically extraordinary concept. You simply don't know what you're talking about, so once again I recommend that you leave skeptical terminology to skeptics, and concentrate on successfully employing Christian terms.



NOMAD: But don't go simplistic on me, and try to tell us that evolution is just plain common sense. It isn't, and if you want to go there, talk to Bede and PhysicsGuy, who are both trained scientists (something neither you nor I happen to be, in ANY field) and learn something.

It is the kind of simple minded faith that people like you have in science that drives many theists crazy, even the ones that happen to agree with you on this issue.

EARL: This is simply too laughable for me to respond to. I'll let the reader decide who has been over-simplisitc and flat out ignorant about such skeptical concepts as evolution and the fallacies.



EARL: To use Bd's example, if common human experience reveals that humans can't run a mile in 10 seconds, the claim that a particular human succeeded in running a mile in 10 seconds is extraordinary relative to common human experience.

NOMAD: Um... we aren't talking about the 10 second mile here. We are talking about a guy that was born, lived and died about 2000 years ago. NOT extraordinary. Now stop being confused please.

EARL: The combination of your bad arguments and your arrogant tone makes me embarrassed for you. Were we talking only about the non-extraordinary question of whether Jesus existed? Gee, and I thought I was replying to YOUR VERY OWN introduction into the discussion of the assertion that the theory of evolution is "extraordinary" and therefore requires extraordinary evidence. In your words, "Earl's arguments fail on two grounds. First, the claims of the theory of evolution are extraordinary, and require extraordinary evidence. So far as I am aware, numerous sciences have accepted that such extraordinary evidence does exist, and it is solid, and explains the origins and development of the various species of the world. This is cool, and I don't argue with it."

So is it ok for me to reply to what you said, Nomad? Is it ok for me to use the example of the miraculous runner to explain what it means to call a proposition metaphysically extraordinary? Is it ok for me to refute your assertion that evolution is extraordinary, by showing the proper application of this concept? Is that allowed or does it show "confusion" on my part? Did you recently suffer a severe head trauma? Stop projecting onto me your own confusion about the subject matter in this thread.



EARL: So relative to what is the theory of evolution supposed to be extraordinary? The value of the theory of evolution is precisely in the fact that it DOESN'T violate common human experience by postulating unknowable, untestable, mysterious forces.

NOMAD: Yes it does, and your simplemindedness on this question is telling. Talk to Bede and PhysicsGuy.

EARL: Oh, the theory of evolution violates human experience by postulating unknowable, untestable and mysterious forces? That would be news to scientists. And speak for yourself regarding simplemindedness. The theory of evolution is defeasible whereas Creationism is not. In relying on Mind the Creationist can say, for example, that God created evidence in favour of evolution to trick us. The evolutionist cannot resort to this tactic. There are all kinds of ways to falsify evolution. On the testability of evolution, see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/tautology.html : "It is significant that, although it is often claimed that Darwinism is unfalsifiable, many of the things Darwin said have in fact been falsified. Many of his assertions of fact have been revised or denied, many of his mechanisms rejected or modified even by his strongest supporters (eg, by Mayr, Gould, Lewontin, and Dawkins), and he would find it hard to recognise some versions of modern selection theory as his natural selection theory. This is exactly what a student of the history of science would expect. Science moves on, and if a theory doesn't, that is strong prima facie evidence it actually is a metaphysical belief."



NOMAD: it is also a vastness of fields of knowledge that make it IMPOSSIBLE for a single individual to aquire even a tiny fraction of all of the relevant expertise to speak knowledgeably about every facet. That makes the claims very extraordinary Earl.

EARL: Vastness of scope is not synonymous with a proposition's metaphysical extraordinariness. There can be many, many pieces to a theory and much can be said about these pieces; yet all the pieces can be familiar relative to common human experience. Moreover, a claim can be simple in scope and yet metaphysically extraordinary. For example, the claim that a particular person ran a mile in less than 10 seconds is simple and yet metaphysically extraordinary in the sense that the claim's truth would violate common human experience. These two facts show that "extraordinariness" cannot mean simply vastness in scope, and that you do NOT understand what it means to call a claim "extraordinary" in the technical philosophical sense. You have equated extraordinariness with vastness in scope, as I said.



NOMAD: Since the rest of your post on this topic is mere assertion, give us your definition of a "LOT" of evidence Earl. You feel free to toss out evidence everyone trained in the field has found acceptable. Why do you do that? Are your skills as a sceptic superior to those of a Donald Akenson, or Michael Grant? How about Morton Smith or John Domminic Crossan? Where did you aquire your confidence in your ability to be sceptical about such things? What authority do you rely upon, or is your own doubts sufficient?

Do you apply the standard evenly? And while we are at it, was Julius Caesar assassinated?

[SNIP]

EARL: The evidence should at least be unambiguously firsthand as opposed to hearsay. Multiple independent and contemporary attestations would also be strong support for belief in the existence of a particular individual in the ancient past. In my view, Paul's letters do not give us good evidence that the historical Jesus existed; Matthew, Luke and John are dependent on Mark, and none of the gospels were written early by eye witnesses or could have been corrected by eye witnesses; and the non-Christian references are all arguably hearsay. Therefore we don't have sufficient evidence to believe Jesus existed.

Regarding Caesar's assassination, I'm not guilty of any double standard if that's what you're implying. I don't have a strong belief one way or the other regarding how he died, and I'm perfectly happy to admit that we know much less about what exactly happened in any ancient historical episode than we might think or that might be represented in popular culture. There's no guarantee that we should know ANYTHING with a high degree of probability regarding the ancient past. That we can ascertain some facts through archeology and textual study is a matter of good fortune not a right. We do know with a very high degree of probability (global skepticism notwithstanding) that A LOT of events occurred in ancient history, but this is a long way from knowing about what specifically happened in any given ancient time or place, or who specifically existed and what this person was like. I'm not particularly confident that we know how Caesar died, and likewise I'm not confident that we know anything in particular about Jesus. No inconsistency here.

One of the main reasons why historians might hold numerous positive beliefs about ancient historical persons or episodes, given the deficiency of the evidence, was pointed out in the other thread by Bd, I believe: given (1) the lack of any good reason not to believe, say, that Caesar was assassinated, such as an a priori philosophical doubt about the event or person, and (2) that there is at least weak evidence for this event or person, we MIGHT AS WELL carry the belief if only for the practical purpose of discussing the ancient past to help us understand the present. Such an instrumental belief will be only weakly held and compatible with agnosticism, not the centerpiece of religious faith. That's how belief in Caesar's assassination would figure for me, given substantial problems with the event's evidence.



EARL: Fallacious? Really? Why do Christians want to try to sound like skeptics when they're unfamiliar with skeptical terminology, in this case elementary logic and the nature of the fallacies?

NOMAD: You are not talking to ChristianS Earl. You are talking to me. Don't lump us all together here. If I have erred, it is mine alone, so don't go trying to tar the rest.

Luckily, I didn't err, but I thought you should be cautioned about this bit of propagandizing and grandstanding on your part. It was impressive, but you should have known better.

EARL: You've made a mountain out of a molehill. Notice that I did not state explicitly that because Nomad did something therefore every Christian does the same thing. That would indeed be a clear over-generalization. What I did do, rather, was notice a commonality between Nomad's attempt to play the skeptic without an adequate grounding in skeptical terminology, and the same attempt made by other Christians who I've debated in the past. However, I did not mention these other Christians and therefore was unclear. Now I've clarified the matter. I was over-generalizing in talking about "Christians" in general, but I did have other Christians than just Nomad in mind. One of them goes by the name Eugene who I debated long ago in this forum. The others I debated or observed in the newsgroup alt.bible.errancy.



EARL: What fallacy did I commit? Can you name it?

NOMAD: I told it to you Earl. Don't tell me that you missed it, and now I have to tell you again.

Alright, I will.

You said:

[SNIP]

Did you type all of this with a straight face? Evolutionists do not have an emotional stake in the theory of evolution? Have you never heard of, nor seen professional pride in action? Your naivete would be almost charming if it were not so completely mind boggling.

EARL: Hello! Earth to Nomad. I asked you to name the fallacy I committed, and you said you had already done so and would do so again. Yet you haven't named any fallacy. This goes to Nomad's confusion between a factual error and a fallacy. Nomad equates the two. I'll go into this more below, but I'll point out here that a fallacy is not simply a falsehood or factual error. Were a computer to provide a printout of personal information regarding a male and yet were mistakenly to call the person "female" that would be a factual error and NOT a fallacy. A fallacy is a certain kind of error, namely one stemming from a deceptive (misleading), defective (non-truth preserving) reasoning procedure, hence the root of the word "fallere," or "deceive."

Now I stated that evolutionists don't have an emotional stake in the theory of evolution. If I am wrong about this, that would only be a factual error NOT a fallacy, that is, an error stemming from defective reasoning procedures, categorized, for example, by logicians in terms of the "informal fallacies." So when you say that someone's claim is not just false but "fallacious" you had better have in mind the name of the fallacy or deceitful, misleading reasoning procedure. Nomad has not named the fallacy I committed because I didn't commit any. If I was wrong I was wrong (but I'm not). That doesn't mean I was led to this falsehood by a deceitful and defective reasoning mechanism, aka a fallacy. Nomad has shown here (and much more below) unmistakably that he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "fallacy."



NOMAD: Now, you had contrasted this with your previous statement about NT scholars:

"Earl: In the case of Jesus' existence, on the other hand, a great many of the "experts in the field" are also Christians and thus have an emotional stake in Jesus' existence besides a critical appreciation of the evidence. Thus they have a motive for mocking the work of mythicists which evolutionists lack regarding Creationists."

Which scholars have mocked the mythers as you have asserted here Earl? Could you quote them please? And could you offer some context? Also, are you saying that a Christian is incapable of engaging in the kind of critical thinking necessary to judge the historicity of Jesus? If so, how did you make this determination? I understand that you have nothing but contempt for our intellectual abilities and honesty Earl, but once again, your grandstanding is getting you into trouble. Such a broad brushed tarring of Christians is very close to being bigoted, and we would want that to happen would we?

EARL: I was tailoring my objection to Layman's fourth point of comparison, "Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers make money off of their "pop" books, which are not taken seriously be the academic community." If a book isn't "taken seriously" then it if it taken at all it must be done so in a humorous way. I wouldn't call him a scholar, but J.P. Holding certainly mocks mythicists (as well as everyone else he doesn't agree with). You, Nomad, as well as Metacrock and other Christian debaters in this forum have also mocked mythicism. Indeed calling mythicism no better than Creationism is a form of mockery. Evolutionists also mock Creationists, but I would explain this in different terms, as I'll elaborate on below.

I stand by my claim that evolutionists are not emotionally attached to the theory of evolution per se, whereas Christian bible scholars are emotionally attached to that which makes their belief in Jesus' existence true, namely Jesus himself. The latter could easily serve as a primary basis for the Christian's attitude towards mythicism, whereas some other factor can easily be invoked to account for the evolutionist's mockery of and emotional outbursts towards Creationists, which by the way I never said don't occur. I never said scientists lack emotions and always deal with their opponents in a calm manner. That's not the point. The point is whether their emotional reaction to their opposition stems specifically from an attachment to natural forces in the same way as the emotional outbursts of Christian towards their opponents surely stem at least in great part from their religious faith and their personal commitment to Jesus, the person whose existence might be in question. Mythicists challenge the existence of Jesus, a person who could properly evoke a strong emotional connection from his followers were he still to exist and be as Christians describe him (namely God). The theory of evolution, however, involves indifferent, mindless, material forces which cannot evoke a similar response. Therefore my claim is hardly counter-intuitive. As I said, though, the scientist's emotional outbursts towards Creationists call for an explanation, and I will give one below.



NOMAD: If you were confused, all you had to do was ask Earl. I hope it is clearer for you now. Your fallacies were so obvious, perhaps I made the mistake of not recognizing that you actually missed them.

The next time you want to accuse Christian scholars of being biased to the point of being incapable of critical thinking on this question, try to be more careful. Such fallacies are very hard to defend. Worst of all, since we both know that all of the non-Christian scholars (including the atheist ones) happen to agree 100% with the Christian scholars on this question, your attitude towards the Christian scholars really is question begging.

EARL: Oh well, here we go again. More pretend skepticism from Nomad. Nomad continues to talk about my "fallacies" without naming any defective reasoning procedure on my part. Instead he confuses "factual error" and "fallacy" (error by deception and defective reasoning rather than misperception, misremembering, absent-mindedness or some other non-deceptive procedure). This time we have the Nomadian use of "question-begging." Begging the question is the presupposition of the conclusion in a premise used to arrive at the conclusion. Now I argued that Christian scholars who believe Jesus existed have an extra incentive for harshly rejecting mythicism than do evolutionists who mock Creationism. Nomad now points out that there are non-Christian scholars who also believe that Jesus existed.

However, as I pointed out in my last post, I wasn't using this extra incentive or emotional attachment to count against Jesus' existence, but merely to show that evolution and the traditional view of Jesus are very dissimilar, so that their opposites, Creationism and mythicism are too. I haven't argued that the Christian scholars' emotional attachment to Jesus renders their belief in Jesus' existence false. That would be the genetic fallacy. And I certainly didn't state, contrary to Nomad's typical misrepresentation, that Christian scholars are "biased to the point of being incapable of critical thinking on this question." On the contrary, I said "In the case of Jesus' existence, on the other hand, a great many of the "experts in the field" are also Christians and thus have an emotional stake in Jesus' existence BESIDES a critical appreciation of the evidence." I said that Christian scholars have an EXTRA incentive to believe that Jesus existed, not that they are incapable of thinking about the question. The extent to which that extra incentive, namely their religious faith and perceived personal relationship with the individual in question, clouds their judgment is NOT something I commented on. So what question have I begged? That Christian scholars can't be biased because non-Christian scholars likewise believe Jesus existed? Nope, since this is based on Nomad's misrepresentation of my comments.

In any case, we don't know why non-Christian scholars believe Jesus existed. Perhaps they believe Jesus existed not because they think the evidence demands this belief, but merely for the practical reason I mentioned above regarding belief in Caesar's assassination.



NOMAD: Do you think it is credible to say that every scholar except Doherty (who actually isn't a scholar, but that is another can of worms even I am hoping will not get opened) comes to the same conclusion about the historicity of Jesus, but the Christian scholars are somehow coloured in their conclusions simply because they are Christians? Perhaps you could go about proving this claim Earl. I would love to see you do it.

How about this, show us a true scholar that agrees that Jesus is a 100% mythical invention. I don't even care if you know his arguments or not. I'll look them up if you can find such a person.

EARL: Or better yet, why don't you show that the non-Christian scholars believe Jesus existed because they think the evidence demands this belief? How strong is their belief in Jesus' existence? Most of the Jesus Seminar scholars, by the way, are self-professed Christians.

 
 

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