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Old 03-22-2001, 05:29 AM   #121
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Polycarp, Omnedon is right. Until you demonstrate the possibility of miracles, then you cannot offer eyewitness accounts as proof. We've been over this issue on the "Jesus the Miracle Worker" thread, and the "Miracles and the Scientific Method" thread.

Ancient accounts, even eyewitness accounts, even multiply, independently attested eyewitness accounts, are not real reliable. In China the invention of paper is attributed to Cai Lun, who died in 121. This invention is attested to by all later history, where he became a god (temples to his name were frequently paper factories, and vice versa), and by the official historians of the dynasty he worked under, who knew him, government records, and other documents of the time. It's a pretty rich mix, and any historian reading it would conclude that he indeed invented paper, only archaeology has proved that paper predates Cai Lun by about 250 years. No doubt he did bring in innovations, but....

As we discussed in the aforementioned threads, I can use Sai Baba to satisfy any of the criteria you put forth. If you do not believe me, re-read the threads. Consider the embarrassment criterion. Sai Baba records that skeptics did not believe. Another satisfaction of that criterion: Sai Baba records in his autobiographical writings his constant practice of conjuring tricks as a very young boy, even practicing sleight-of-hand on the way to school. Oops! Now that's an embarassing thing for a psychic to admit!

And so on....I told you, Meier's is a pretty worthless methodology.

Michael

[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited March 22, 2001).]
 
Old 03-22-2001, 08:16 AM   #122
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Polycarp, Omnedon is right. Until you demonstrate the possibility of miracles, then you cannot offer eyewitness accounts as proof. We've been over this issue on the "Jesus the Miracle Worker" thread, and the "Miracles and the Scientific Method" thread.

Ancient accounts, even eyewitness accounts, even multiply, independently attested eyewitness accounts, are not real reliable. In China the invention of paper is attributed to Cai Lun, who died in 121. This invention is attested to by all later history, where he became a god (temples to his name were frequently paper factories, and vice versa), and by the official historians of the dynasty he worked under, who knew him, government records, and other documents of the time. It's a pretty rich mix, and any historian reading it would conclude that he indeed invented paper, only archaeology has proved that paper predates Cai Lun by about 250 years. No doubt he did bring in innovations, but....

As we discussed in the aforementioned threads, I can use Sai Baba to satisfy any of the criteria you put forth. If you do not believe me, re-read the threads. Consider the embarrassment criterion. Sai Baba records that skeptics did not believe. Another satisfaction of that criterion: Sai Baba records in his autobiographical writings his constant practice of conjuring tricks as a very young boy, even practicing sleight-of-hand on the way to school. Oops! Now that's an embarassing thing for a psychic to admit!

And so on....I told you, Meier's is a pretty worthless methodology.

Michael

[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited March 22, 2001).]
</font>
First, it is not "Meier's methodology." It is the overwhelmingly accepted methodology of New Testament scholarship. Try and find any New Testament study that ignores them. Here, start with E.P. Sanders, Graham Stanton, Raymond E. Brown, Ben Witherington. Neither you nor Omnedon has shown even a glimmer of the linguistic or historical knowledge of these men. In fact, every time Omnedon actually tries to discuss history, he proves his own ignorance. I don't blame him for refusing to talk about the evidence.

Second, this "you can't offer any evidence of miracles until you prove that they are possible" is an obvious debating tactic used by skeptics who realize just how shallow their understanding of history is. So far, all Omnedon has shown that he knows about history is how to misread his own Oxford Companion to the Bible, and that he can cut and paste from an online encyclopedia. Poisoning the well, begging the question. Call it what you will it is an obvious ploy.

Third, you keep mouthing off about comparisons to the Chinese, without ever offering us any real substance on the issue. I laid out many of the arguments regarding Jesus, you have done nothing of the sort regarding the Chinese. Moreover, their relevance is at best tangental given the vastly different circumstances of the cultures and the available evidence. But if you would like to match my discussion with one of your own, I would be very interested.

Fourth, the fact that you have proven your ability to misapply the historical criteria accepted by the historical community is a very succesful attempt to build a strawman and then knock it down.

Fifth, the reality that the criteria could be wrong is no surprise. That is the problem faced by any search for knowledge. A recent fossil discovery has overturned the widely accepted 20 year old consensus that Lucy is a direct human ancestor. Does that mean that "science" cannot be used to gain knowledge? Or that it is of no use to us because the criteria used were inappropriately used, or used on the basis of insufficient evidence? Of course not. But many Young Earth Creationists will be claiming just that. Just as their skeptical cousins on this board pretend that their is no way to investigate history.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 09:12 AM   #123
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Omnedon is right. Until you demonstrate the possibility of miracles, then you cannot offer eyewitness accounts as proof. We've been over this issue on the "Jesus the Miracle Worker" thread, and the "Miracles and the Scientific Method" thread.
Quote:
</font>

Thanks for your input. However, nowhere in this thread have I argued for miracles. Look at the six examples I’ve been trying to discuss with my new Bible-buddy, Omnedon :

Jesus taught in parables.
Aristotle wrote “Metaphysics”.
Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man
Plato wrote “Phaedo”.
The family members of Jesus did not follow him during his liftetime.
Augustine wrote “Confessions”.

Which of these do you consider to be a miracle-claim? You two need to read what I’m actually writing instead of attacking invisible strawmen, and being obsessed with John Meier. Atheistic scholars such as Gerd Ludemann use the same tools as Meier. Therefore, it should be obvious to you that one is not required to believe in miracles in order to use these criteria. I’ve repeatedly said that I am not discussing miracles. Why are you trying to switch topics ? Perhaps you or my Bible-buddy could delve into uncharted territory and talk about the historical method instead of ranting about the impossibility of miracles.

You guys do a great job when you attack arguments not even being made by the other side. Now why don’t you try dealing with the arguments I’ve actually made?

Peace,

Polycarp (looking for more Bible buddies)



[This message has been edited by Polycarp (edited March 22, 2001).]
 
Old 03-22-2001, 12:18 PM   #124
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Layman:
Second, this "you can't offer any evidence of miracles until you prove that they are possible" is an obvious debating tactic used by skeptics who realize just how shallow their understanding of history is.

Ah...if I had real depth, I would believe in the resurrection.

Yes, it's an obvious point. That's why we're skeptics. It's obvious that miracles cannot and do not occur. If you have ANY evidence to the contrary, please post it. So far you keep saying that "it's just a debating point." But you know, Layman, it would only take evidence to shut us all up. It would be so easy -- just bring out the evidence and shut us up.

Only there isn't any, is there?

Third, you keep mouthing off about comparisons to the Chinese, without ever offering us any real substance on the issue.

Every time you and one of your narrowily informed christian cohorts states what we "know" about ancient history I'm going to smack you over the head with China. You people seem to think that ethnocentricism is some kind of useful scholarly posture. YOU trundled out the six criteria at the beginning of YOUR thread Jesus the miracle worker. I torched you twice, once with Wei and once with Sai Baba -- I note that you have never, ever refuted any claim I made on that thread. When I pointed out that your criterion of coherence was subjective, you even agreed. YOU keep bringing up multiple attestation, and I keep showing how multiple attestation fails to rule out other kinds of miracles EVEN THOUGH the miracle systems of the two societies are contradictory and rule each other out. You have never said that a canon of 1,500 texts, plus government records plus dynastic histories plus novels, plays and poetry plus technical manuals plus natural histories together are not multiple attestation because of X, Y, and Z. You have completely failed to make a case. I can satisfy ANY criterion like those you put up by using the Taoist canon.

Now, you have declared that I am one those who do not know how "shallow their understanding of history is." Frankly, my understanding may indeed be shallow, but the waters I inhabit are obviously too deep for you. I already showed you, according to the criteria YOU used and apparently derived from Meier, that you MUST accept Sai Baba's and Wei Po-yang's miracles as true, and that Wei, by the criteria you laid down, must be a god, for he is recognized as one over in China, and Sai Baba really has raised the dead twice, including once from a distance.

Since my understanding of history is shallow, you with your much deeper experience of first-century palestine and a radius of 150 miles from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, should have no trouble disproving the cases for Sai Baba and Wei, using the criteria you have put forth (the six laid out in your "Jesus the Miracle Worker" thread.

I laid out many of the arguments regarding Jesus, you have done nothing of the sort regarding the Chinese. Moreover, their relevance is at best tangental given the vastly different circumstances of the cultures and the available evidence. But if you would like to match my discussion with one of your own, I would be very interested.

Wei's story has been posted, as has Sai Baba. You want multiple attestation -- we have video of Sai Baba performing miracles.

Fourth, the fact that you have proven your ability to misapply the historical criteria accepted by the historical community is a very succesful attempt to build a strawman and then knock it down.

"accepted by the historical community." ROTFL. Layman, we have already established that sound historical practice is to REJECT all miracles as violations of natural law. Only a small band of highly biased scholars working on the Bible has any other view. What the hell methodology proving miracles is "accepted by the historical community?" Do you think when Gordan Prange wrote his landmark book on Pearl Harbor he attributed Japanese success to miraculous powers? Do you think when Joseph Needham wrote 16 volumes on Chinese scientific transmissions to the West, that he believed the Taoists when they said they manufactured gold? Would you say that the belief the Union was on god's side informed Bruce Catton's work on the civil war? Do you believe that when Brundage wrote the Empire of the Inca he took it for granted that the first Inca emperor really was descended from the gods? You find me a single major historian who doesn't automatically rule out miracles when developing explanations of history. Miracles make sound scholarship IMPOSSIBLE.

Like I said, if you spend all your days in 50 books and within 150 miles of the Mediteranean coast, you might come up with a laughable generalization like that. But, I'm probably just misunderstanding out my shallow grasp of history....

But if you don't like that, let's cite Crossan:

  • "In 1994 Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans edited a massive and very useful survey of current research on the historical Jesus. It ran to over six hundred pages and, published by Brill of Leiden, cost around $175. It covers every obvious subject with very helpful discussion and very complete documentation. it covers every obvious subject, that is, except one: there is no chapter on method and methodology. I am not sure certain whether that lack indicts the volume or current scholarship. There is, after all, very little methodological scholarship in historical Jesus research to evaluate or survey."*

End of discussion. There are no generally accepted methods. Any standard survey work on a field discuss methodology. You might, by the way, check out the discussion starting three pages later entitled Criteria are not Method. Crossan DEMOLISHES any criterion-based "methodology." They don't have any theoretical underpinning.

Since you have a methodology, Layman, that is "accepted by the historical community" perhaps you can lay out, in a paragraph or two, its theoretical assumptions.

Fifth, the reality that the criteria could be wrong is no surprise. That is the problem faced by any search for knowledge. A recent fossil discovery has overturned the widely accepted 20 year old consensus that Lucy is a direct human ancestor.

Ummm...I do not consider circular "criteria" whose theoretical foundation is desperate adherence to the Apostles' Creed to be part of any "search for knowledge." More like the opposite: a search for a way to confirm what is already believed.

BTW, M. Leakey, using a field methodology based on theoretical and empirical considerations, then analytical techniques again based on theoretical and empirical considerations, has disproved the models erected by her parents and grandparents. Does your field offer any methodology that has the possiblity of disproving its own strongly-held beliefs?

Didn't think so.

Michael
*Birth of Christianity, 140. Crossan has a whole chapter on the utter lack of a serious methodology in the field.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 12:26 PM   #125
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Metacrock:
In other words, we can be scientific in history, and most historians are. But we can't prove that mircles have happened, but we we can't just rule them out a prori and call it scholarship either.</font>
Is it then reasonable to call it "scholarship" or to rule miracles "in" on an a priori pro-supernatural bias?.

 
Old 03-22-2001, 12:33 PM   #126
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
[b]
Thanks for your input. However, nowhere in this thread have I argued for miracles.
</font>
Nice try, Polycarp. From your first post:

"If we assume something is false prior to investigation, then it doesn’t matter what evidence is given to support the claim of truthfulness."

You already snuck in a crack at materialistic views of things. This oh-so-innocent approach won't fly. Like I said, you want miracles in, you gotta demonstrate their possibility.

Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man." Textual and lingistic criticism, as well as archaeology, anthropology of religion and other disciplines can tell us with some reasonable wiggle room, whether he actual made that statement.

But that's not a very interesting question, is it? There is no method for determining whether Jesus was correct in making the underlying claim (to godhood), is there?

Michael
 
Old 03-22-2001, 01:57 PM   #127
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I noticed you failed to respond to point one. This is not just "Meier's" criteria, but the criteria of an entire disciple of study. Yet you pretend the criteria make no sense at all. Neither you nor Omnedon have demonstrated much knowledge about the New Testament or the First Century Roman world. Why should anyone take you guys seriously when you dismiss Brown, Crossan, Stanton, Witherington, Wright, Meier, Sanders, etc.?

"Yes, it's an obvious point. That's why we're skeptics. It's obvious that miracles cannot and do not occur. If you have ANY evidence to the contrary, please post it. So far you keep saying that "it's just a debating point." But you know, Layman, it would only take evidence to shut us all up. It would be so easy -- just bring out the evidence and shut us up."

Your argument was that there can be no evidence until we prove that miracles are possible. Now you demand evidence. So are you willing to discuss the evidence or not? I have posted evidence, using commonly accepted tools of historical inquiry, regarding the miracles of Jesus. You posted some objections that mainly said that other miracle claims have comparable support in ancient history, especially China. You have failed to prove that. I methodically laid out my sources, why they are considered to be independent, pinpoint references to scholars that accept their independence, and applied the other criteria in a similar manner. I admit there is more work to be done on the post.

You, however, waived at it as you went by, but have failed to provide any sort of substantive defense of your position. You say that you have posted the "story" of Sai Baba. That is true. But you certainly haven't posted much information about him. You contend that the evidence is stronger, but you fail to demonstrate it. You have made bald assertions that no skeptic would accept from a Christian. Moreover, even if you were to prove that, you have still avoided discussing the evidence presented. Even if you succeeded in establishing the equivalence or superiority of evidence regarding the claims you have stated, you have failed to demonstrate that such proof of other miracles is evidence against the miracles of Jesus.

Me: "Fourth, the fact that you have proven your ability to misapply the historical criteria accepted by the historical community is a very succesful attempt to build a strawman and then knock it down."

You: ""accepted by the historical community." ROTFL. Layman, we have already established that sound historical practice is to REJECT all miracles as violations of natural law. Only a small band of highly biased scholars working on the Bible has any other view. What the hell methodology proving miracles is "accepted by the historical community?""

You have shifted the debate. You are once again discussing presuppositions, rather than evidence. You and Omnedon have completely rejected what you misleading and inaccurately called the "Meier" criteria. Those criteria are commonly used by men and women much more informed and intelligent than either you or I to evaluate history.

Yes. It is true that most historians operate under a methodological presumption of naturalism. Such a skepticism is warranted and appropriate in science and history. Such disciplines should push the boundaries of naturalistic explanation as far as possible. However, you are treating the methodological commitment to naturalism as if it is itself a historical, or even scientific, conclusion. It is not.

Another problem in your analysis, is that you use this historical methodology to reason backwards. That is, since you presume miracles cannot happen, then evidence tending to provide some support for the happening of a miracle is rejected. You demonstrated this erroneous methodology when you discussed the independence of John from Mark. Despite the careful literary and textual analysis by persons schooled in Koine Greek, as well as all of the relevant contemporary documents, you insisted that John must be dependent on Mark because they both reported some of the same miracles. This is flawed reasoning. It might be possible that both of their sources thought they witnessed the same miracles, but were wrong. Or it might be possible that they in fact, witnessed a miracle. But the only rational you gave was that if we believed what the majority of New Testament scholars agree on, John's independence, it might support the happening of a miracle. So it must be rejected.

Omnedon did this same thing when he began arguing, despite the strong consensus of scholars, that Josephus completely invented his reference to Jesus' "startling deeds." When he realized that he was wrong on that one, he then took the tact that Josephus was dependent on a Christian source, which is a position supported by fewer scholars than his first one. The only commonality I can see his two mutually exclusive, and unsupported, positions is his desire to eliminate a strand of evidence which supports my arguement that at the very least the stories of Jesus' miracles go back to him, his followers, and his enemies (and at the most provide good reasons to accept he, in fact performed miracles).

Just once I'd like a skeptic to admit, "Yeah, looks like we were wrong on that Josephus one, but it still not strong enough evidence to show that Jesus performed miracles." The fact that so many refuse to even admit that Josephus mentioned Jesus, despite the overwhelming consensus of New Testament scholars, belies the claim that they just want to see what the evidence is. It appears that their true motive is simply to deny ANY thing that might support the theists viewpoint, including the study of history itself.

Nevertheless, although you were wrong in your analysis, you were right about one thing. If the historical criteria commonly used by New Testament scholar establishes the independence of Mark from John, that is probative of the issue of miracles. If we have separate and independent accounts of Jesus' miracles, that is more evidence than if we only had one account. Not conclusive, but probative.

Similarly, if the historical evidence shows that Jews in First Century Palestine were not known for claiming that their contemporaries were performing miracles, you cannot reject that evidence because it might tend to support the happening of miracles. (I would also add that it would be all but irrelevant to demonstrate that the Chinese were well known for believing that miracles were happening often. This would actually mitigate against the reliability of their miracle accounts. You see here the utility of combining the criteria. Multiple attestation by itself only goes so far, but when combined with dissimilarity, it goes even farther). So, if we have accounts of miracles from persons that are known not to have made up such accounts, that is more evidence than if we had miracle accounts from persons that were known for commonly claiming the occurrence of miracles.

Additionally, if the evidence tends to show that Christians were persecuted because of reporting Jesus' miracles, you cannot reject the evidence that they were persecuted because it lends support for the modern day Christian arguing for the happening of Jesus' miracles. If we have miracle accounts reported by persons who were punished for their belief in those miracles, that is more evidence than if the persons reporting the miracle accounts were greatly rewarded for their accounts.

In sum, I agree with you if you are saying that we do not have sufficient historical evidence to prove to a certainty that Jesus performed miracles. But I disagree with you when you say that we have no evidence that he did. Or that the criteria commonly employed by New Testament scholars is completely worthless.

On the other hand, it was nice to have an exchange with a skeptic who did not accuse me of being a liar or an a**hole or an idiot. I thank, and respect, you for that. Of course, the day is young.

 
Old 03-22-2001, 03:08 PM   #128
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Nice try, Polycarp. From your first post:

"If we assume something is false prior to investigation, then it doesn’t matter what evidence is given to support the claim of truthfulness."

You already snuck in a crack at materialistic views of things. This oh-so-innocent approach won't fly. Like I said, you want miracles in, you gotta demonstrate their possibility.
Quote:
</font>
OK, now we're having a real discussion. Thank you for being reasonable and thoughtful. We're almost at a meeting of the minds. First, I want to mention that the quote of mine above was not said in any context involving a discussion of miracles. Certainly you would have to agree with the statement in the sense that only fools “assume something is false prior to investigation”. I don’t understand the disagreement with my statement.

I again want to emphasize that nowhere in this thread have I argued that miracles are possible. Its an entirely separate issue. Here’s how I would make a distinction, so tell me if you’d agree. I don’t think an argument for or against miracles is best suited by examining historical evidence. I believe that no amount of HISTORICAL EVIDENCE can prove the possibility of miracles. The best approach for such a discussion is on a philosophical level. The debate would hinge on the existence/non-existence of a god and/or the attributes of any god deemed to exist. In other words, if naturalism is true, then miracles are not possible because we are only subject to natural laws; AND if theism is true, then miracles are possible because a being who created the laws could conceivably alter them. So we don’t argue over miracles while at the same time discussing history. Or at least I don’t think it leads to the most fruitful discussion.

This demonstrates how people from all backgrounds (atheist to theist) can utilize the same tools that I’ve been giving. If a scholar such as Gerd Ludemann (an atheist) believes miracles to be impossible, then he will rule those deeds alleging to be miracles as, in actuality, being fabrications. I’m perfectly fine with that. He arrived at his atheism by studying philosophy, etc. However, we also have scholars who are theists (Wright, etc.) who believe miracles are possible and therefore would not rule out a priori an alleged miracle of Jesus. What you have to remember is that there are a lot of scholars who believe miracles are possible, but don’t believe every miracle attributed to Jesus actually occurred. If it doesn’t meet their interpretation of the criteria, then they dismiss it as legend or exaggeration. Meier is a case in point.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man." Textual and lingistic criticism, as well as archaeology, anthropology of religion and other disciplines can tell us with some reasonable wiggle room, whether he actual made that statement.

But that's not a very interesting question, is it? There is no method for determining whether Jesus was correct in making the underlying claim (to godhood), is there?
Quote:
</font>
I started with something simple as an example. I also offered the opportunity to use non-Christian historical claims (Aristotle and Plato), but nobody would accept. You are correct in saying that there is no way to determine if Jesus’ claim is true UNLESS we answer many other questions first (ie. God’s existence/non-existence, other evidence of divinity, etc.). But, and this is a big BUT… I never asked whether the claim was true. That is a theological question, not a historical one.

So I’m in relative agreement with you that we can determine whether or not Jesus made the claim DESPITE our very different worldviews. This is the whole point I’ve been trying to make all along. Let’s find as much common ground as possible and then see which things we can agree on. I have been showing how the tools used to demonstrate that its highly probable Aristotle wrote “Metaphysics” are the same tools you and I can use to determine whether or not Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. There is no miracle claim involved in trying to determine if Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man so we can agree on our starting point. If there is a miracle claim made, then we need to move the discussion into the realm of philosophy and/or theology. In other words, when we try to determine whether or not Jesus’ claim was true.

I hope this has helped to clarify exactly what I believe. Thanks again for listening and trying to understand.

Peace,

Polycarp

 
Old 03-22-2001, 08:36 PM   #129
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
I noticed you failed to respond to point one. This is not just "Meier's" criteria, but the criteria of an entire disciple of study. Yet you pretend the criteria make no sense at all. Neither you nor Omnedon have demonstrated much knowledge about the New Testament or the First Century Roman world. Why should anyone take you guys seriously when you dismiss Brown, Crossan, Stanton, Witherington, Wright, Meier, Sanders, etc.?</font>
Who dismisses Crossan? I will cheerfully admit to dismissing Meier and Wright, they are both horribly biased clergyman.

I just posted Crossan's comments -- why would I dismiss him?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But you know, Layman, it would only take evidence to shut us all up. It would be so easy -- just bring out the evidence and shut us up."

Your argument was that there can be no evidence until we prove that miracles are possible. Now you demand evidence. So are you willing to discuss the evidence or not?
Quote:
</font>
Hell, yes. And by the way, I could be very wrong on the impossiblity of miracles. About 1920 Armstrong invented FM. In 1922 an AT&T engineer named Carson wrote a long, scientifically and mathematically grounded article demonstrating that FM was impossible and would never work. Armstrong was of course, right. He just presented real evidence that it did.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I have posted evidence, using commonly accepted tools of historical inquiry, regarding the miracles of Jesus. You posted some objections that mainly said that other miracle claims have comparable support in ancient history, especially China. You have failed to prove that.
Quote:
</font>
You are really whistling past the graveyard on this one. I guess 1,500 texts, over a span of several hundred years (not counting countless other works, gazeteers, natural histories, dynastic histories, books on chemical technique, pharmacuetical works, government records, novels, poetry, inscriptions and so forth is not equal to a half-dozen interdependent records.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I methodically laid out my sources, why they are considered to be independent, pinpoint references to scholars that accept their independence, and applied the other criteria in a similar manner. I admit there is more work to be done on the post.

You, however, waived at it as you went by, but have failed to provide any sort of substantive defense of your position. You say that you have posted the "story" of Sai Baba. That is true. But you certainly haven't posted much information about him.
Quote:
</font>
What for? All you need to know is this: we have video of Sai Baba performing miracles. Is there any video of Jesus? As a record, video beats the NT hands down. I could post a lot more, so I will (don't blame me, you asked for it):
  • To millions of people spread over almost every country in the world, Shri Sathya Sai Baba is believed to be an Avathaar, an embodiment of God, divinity in human form. Dr. John S. Hislop, a long-time devotee of Sai Baba form the U.S.A., says:"Baba's wisdom, the love which is strongly felt when one is in his presence, and his awesome power over the material elements and human circumstances, contribute to the extraordinary veneration in which he is held and to the almost inevitable attraction felt by people of all ages and races when they see him, or begin to give close attention to his teachings and to his life." from http://home.netvigator.com/~jborjal/baba/baba.html
  • The lingam has been seen by the writer a number of times. On the occasion of one Mahasivaratri night, I was sitting quite close to Baba. When the moment came, I saw
    a flash of gold come from his mouth and saw the lingam caught in the silk handkerchief held by his hands. It was of gold. How an object that size came up Sri Baba's throat cannot be explained. At another Mahasivaratri, the lingam was translucent, and there was a clearly visible flame in the center of the lingam
    from http://www.sathyasai.org/pictureinfo/cross.htm a very long excerpt from Hislop's book on Sai Baba containing more first-hand observations of Baba's miracles.
  • http://www.ozemail.com.au/~vsivasup/sai/index.html contains a huge list of pro-Baba sites

A net search will turn up Sai in Russian, Croatian and various other rather far-from-India languages. It's a weird world.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You contend that the evidence is stronger, but you fail to demonstrate it. You have made bald assertions that no skeptic would accept from a Christian. Moreover, even if you were to prove that, you have still avoided discussing the evidence presented. Even if you succeeded in establishing the equivalence or superiority of evidence regarding the claims you have stated, you have failed to demonstrate that such proof of other miracles is evidence against the miracles of Jesus.</font>
Layman, if two miracle systems contradict each other they both can't be true. Either the Taoists are right, or Jesus is. Can't have it both ways.

The second problem is that you have no evidence. Even if you proved that every word of M, Mt, L and J came down to us exactly as they wrote it, that means squat about whether the miracles are true.

The sad part is you are right. You have mastered these texts, and you know them better than I. But the techniques for determining whether Jesus remarked "I am the Son of Man" cannot shed any light on whether the underlying claim is true. I mean, we have the word of dozens of Taoist adepts, in things they wrote, that they made gold. Does this word, straight from the source, mean anything?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Me: "Fourth, the fact that you have proven your ability to misapply the historical criteria accepted by the historical community is a very succesful attempt to build a strawman and then knock it down."

You: ""accepted by the historical community." ROTFL. Layman, we have already established that sound historical practice is to REJECT all miracles as violations of natural law. Only a small band of highly biased scholars working on the Bible has any other view. What the hell methodology proving miracles is "accepted by the historical community?""

You have shifted the debate. You are once again discussing presuppositions, rather than evidence. You and Omnedon have completely rejected what you misleading and inaccurately called the "Meier" criteria. Those criteria are commonly used by men and women much more informed and intelligent than either you or I to evaluate history. </font>


More intelligent? How you wound me! I have not shifted the debate. Above you reinforce the fact that you are discussing miracles. I responded to that claim.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Yes. It is true that most historians operate under a methodological presumption of naturalism.</font>
I was going to say something, but out of respect for your honesty, I will say nothing.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Such a skepticism is warranted and appropriate in science and history. Such disciplines should push the boundaries of naturalistic explanation as far as possible. However, you are treating the methodological commitment to naturalism as if it is itself a historical, or even scientific, conclusion. It is not.</font>


You haven't said anything to invalidate methodological naturalism, nor have you demonstrated why your field should be the one special field in all human inquiry exempt from its proscriptions. So make a case for that.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Another problem in your analysis, is that you use this historical methodology to reason backwards. That is, since you presume miracles cannot happen, then evidence tending to provide some support for the happening of a miracle is rejected. You demonstrated this erroneous methodology when you discussed the independence of John from Mark. Despite the careful literary and textual analysis by persons schooled in Koine Greek, as well as all of the relevant contemporary documents, you insisted that John must be dependent on Mark because they both reported some of the same miracles. This is flawed reasoning. It might be possible that both of their sources thought they witnessed the same miracles, but were wrong. Or it might be possible that they in fact, witnessed a miracle. But the only rational you gave was that if we believed what the majority of New Testament scholars agree on, John's independence, it might support the happening of a miracle. So it must be rejected. </font>
I'm glad you understand the argument. Basically, the miracles are fictions. It is impossible for two independent texts to contain the same fictions. Ergo: one text knows the other text somehow, or they are dependent on the same tradition. It's irrefutable. Also, both Ray Brown and John Crossan have noted that the scholarly concensus has started to shift the other way in recent years.

Yes, using the assumption of methodological naturalism, which could be exploded by even a single genuine miracle, I have deduced that the miracles in the gospel are fictions. What's the problem with that? Even some Christians do that.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nevertheless, although you were wrong in your analysis, you were right about one thing. If the historical criteria commonly used by New Testament scholar establishes the independence of Mark from John, that is probative of the issue of miracles. If we have separate and independent accounts of Jesus' miracles, that is more evidence than if we only had one account. Not conclusive, but probative.</font>


It's not even probative. Must I go into the hugely attested miracles of Sai Baba -- who is still alive, go see him for yourself! I got the whole nine yards from an Indian family I stayed with in Calcutta. SB saved their son.

BTW, my favorite Sai site so far is the foto of the crucifix he materialized:

http://www.saibabamiracles.com/baba/...loth.zoom.html

The site is a whole gallery of fotos of Sai Baba's miracles. He also materializes miniature Bibles and Jesus photos.

Do you have anything like the MASSIVE collection of evidence for Sai -- personal testimony, witness testimony, stills, video, books, tapes, websites?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Similarly, if the historical evidence shows that Jews in First Century Palestine were not known for claiming that their contemporaries were performing miracles, you cannot reject that evidence because it might tend to support the happening of miracles. (I would also add that it would be all but irrelevant to demonstrate that the Chinese were well known for believing that miracles were happening often. This would actually mitigate against the reliability of their miracle accounts. You see here the utility of combining the criteria. Multiple attestation by itself only goes so far, but when combined with dissimilarity, it goes even farther). </font>


It would, except that there was a concurrent Confucian skepticism that attacked the Taoists, and other traditions as well. In any case, the Talmud and Josephus both record miracle healings, exorcisms and similar stuff. For example, the Babylonian Talmud tells the story of R. Hanina ben Dosa, a great magical healer. And then there is R. Akiba, who healed at a distance (as did Hanina). Of course, there are healings and demons in the OT, no? So the jews practiced then, gave it up in time for Yeshua, then resumed after the first century?

Your criterion of dissimilarity is entirely subjective. After all, Sai is quite unique, nobody else in his milieu materializes miniature bibles and fotos of Jesus (nobody else would bother).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So, if we have accounts of miracles from persons that are known not to have made up such accounts, that is more evidence than if we had miracle accounts from persons that were known for commonly claiming the occurrence of miracles. </font>


This isn't a bad argument, actually. It just doesn't apply to either Palestine, the Roman world, or China. All three had miracles galore. And China had a lot more skeptics.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Additionally, if the evidence tends to show that Christians were persecuted because of reporting Jesus' miracles, you cannot reject the evidence that they were persecuted because it lends support for the modern day Christian arguing for the happening of Jesus' miracles. If we have miracle accounts reported by persons who were punished for their belief in those miracles, that is more evidence than if the persons reporting the miracle accounts were greatly rewarded for their accounts.</font>


LOTS of people report the extraordinary despite suffering abuse and ridicule, in every society: UFOs, ghosts....

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In sum, I agree with you if you are saying that we do not have sufficient historical evidence to prove to a certainty that Jesus performed miracles. But I disagree with you when you say that we have no evidence that he did. Or that the criteria commonly employed by New Testament scholars is completely worthless.</font>


I'd say that the evidence that Jesus performed miracles is about as good as the evidence for any other miracle of antiquity.
You seem to have confused "criteria" with "methodology." I maintain that "worthless" applies only to the attempt to demonstrate miracles using the methods they have. Nor am I the only one who has a low opinion of NT methods, you saw the quote from Crossan. A survey book in a field with no discussion of methodology. Do you realize how unusual that is?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">On the other hand, it was nice to have an exchange with a skeptic who did not accuse me of being a liar or an a**hole or an idiot. I thank, and respect, you for that. Of course, the day is young.</font>


Yes, I showed considerable restraint after being told I had a "shallow understanding of history" and "shot off my mouth." Just indulged in a little retaliatory sarcasm.
I am glad we have both moved past that.

Michael

"One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practised austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labour. The ascetic proudly replied that, now at last, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labour, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!"

[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited March 22, 2001).]
 
Old 03-22-2001, 09:46 PM   #130
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Second, this "you can't offer any evidence of miracles until you prove that they are possible" is an obvious debating tactic used by skeptics who realize just how shallow their understanding of history is.
</font>
On the contrary. It's a uniform standard of judging evidence that separates bullshit claims from real historical events. You simply cannot meet the evidentiary bar, and we aren't going to lower the bar for you - if we did it for you, we'd have to do it for everyone else.

Your whining and wailing is just your consternation that you aren't getting your way.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
So far, all Omnedon has shown that he knows about history is how to misread his own Oxford Companion to the Bible, and that he can cut and paste from an online encyclopedia.
</font>
1. Yeah, right. Go back to the Sarabit el-Khadim thread and check out the information there, deLayman.

2. You have yet to present any arguments that don't amount to stringing a bunch of biased theologians together. You'll have to excuse me if I get sleepy and yawn during your appeal to authority.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Poisoning the well, begging the question. Call it what you will it is an obvious ploy. </font>
The only thing obvious here is that you are a liar, and a rather transparent one. Here; let me show you what I mean:


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Third, you keep mouthing off about comparisons to the Chinese, without ever offering us any real substance on the issue.
</font>
Liar.
I've seen turtonm's list of historical points as well as sources several times now. If I have only been on this board for about two weeks and I have seen it at least three times, then how can you claim that he never presented it?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I laid out many of the arguments regarding Jesus, you have done nothing of the sort regarding the Chinese.
</font>
Again, you're a liar. I've seen turtonm take your own busted criteria and line up his Chinese miracles against them - embarrasssment, gut feel (coherence), etc. He did this, not because he believes the criteria are correct, but because he wants to beat you, using your own flawed rules.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
That's Moreover, their relevance is at best tangental given the vastly different circumstances of the cultures and the available evidence.
</font>
BWAHAHAHAAA!!!. That's a good one.

Questions:
1. why should the evidence be "tangental" merely because the culture is different? The inescapable conclusion is that the only culture that you would accept a comparison with is one that was not different from the Ancient Near East - i.e., all comparisons must come from the ANE;

2. The available evidence refutes your desperate claim of "tangential". The evidence from these cultures, using your own criteria, is twenty times stronger than your own case. The problem here is that, like most christians, you are fundamentally afraid to check out the data because you realize your faith system is at stake. In short, you're a liar and a emotional coward.

Let's review:
1. You want examples from other cultures.
2. Then when you get one that is vastly better attested to you than your paltry example, suddenly you rule it out because the culture is different.
3. You want to declare a win for your position

You find bogus, baseless rules to eliminate examples from other cultures. Ah, me. That's rich.

The obvious fact here is you are dodging the issue because you don't have the mental horsepower to handle the facts. Because if you did, then I'm sure we'd see you actually research the Sai Baba and the Wei claims and provide us clear reasons why those two examples don't qualify. But I suppose we hope in vain for that, don't we?



[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 22, 2001).]
 
 

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