Minimal ”Facts” or simply no facts at all?

One of the worst arguments Christian apologists put forward is the claim of historical fact concerning the  biblical tale of the resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth.

One of the better known proponents of this argument is Gary Habermas, whose Minimal Facts Argument is  probably the most notorious and is regularly trotted out whenever an apologist or an ordinary Christian wishes to try to come across as intellectual.

Unfortunately for them, this Minimal Facts Argument is, in essence, simply a ‘Gotcha!’ – a not-so-clever exposition that is built upon supposition after supposition, designed to obfuscate until you’re basically told:  “Well, if you can’t offer a better argument,  then ours must be true by default.”

The entire Christian worldview rests on this one event. Even Paul says so in the bible. This approach, while it might seem risky, is quite clever when you think about it, as they can then effectively dismiss the entire bible providing they believe the story of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth to be true.

Then why bother claiming veracity for the rest of the bible?

Anyway, I am aware of the saying, Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but if anyone tries to sell you something is it not usual practice to want to know the bona fides of this person, before you consider buying?

So who is Gary Habermas?

Habermas is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

And these are his credentials:

  • Ph.D. (1976) from Michigan State University in the area of History and Philosophy of Religion
  • M.A. (1973) from the University of Detroit in Philosophical Theology.

Sounds pretty good so far. Impressive, even!

What about his place of employment?

Many Christian evangelical universities oblige their teaching staff to sign a contract. In effect a statement of faith which usually includes something about the innerancy of the bible.

The statement of faith at his Liberty University says, in part, “We affirm that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, though written by men, was supernaturally inspired by God so that all its words are the written true revelation of God; it is therefore inerrant in the originals and authoritative in all matters.”

In essence this means that if the bible says that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead then Habermas fully agrees, and is not allowed to preach or teach any other theory, otherwise he is in breach of contract.

So why on earth even bother to construct an argument in the first place? Who is he really trying to convince?

Not Christians, as they already  believe it … this is why they are Christians. No one became Christian because of ”cold hard facts”, as I have been told.

And none of the other several billion non-Christians across the globe believe he came back from the dead, so on the face of it, it seems a pointless exercise.

Aaah …  of course … it is probably for those back-sliders, and doubting Thomases!

However, based on the restraints placed upon Habermas, how objective can he truly be when he touts his Minimal Facts argument?

Well, for a start, based on his beliefs about the bible he:

1. Rejects evolution

2.Considers the story of Adam and Eve to be factual.

3. Believes there was  global flood and the story of Noah’s Ark is fact.

Each one of the above has been proven to be false, and the Human Genome Project, originally headed by a fellow evangelical Christian, Francis Collins, has shown beyond any doubt that our species did not derive from a single breeding pair of humans. (No Original Sin … Ponder that for a moment).

Based on the above beliefs of the proponent why would you bother to construct an argument to refute Habermas’s MinimalFacts Argument?

Furthermore, if we also include some of other spurious biblical tales, the Exodus and conquest of Canaan, the erroneous Virgin Birth narrative and all it’s nonsensical components, the numerous interpolations and the fraudulent epistles to mention just a few, and also the fact the gospels are not eye-witness testimony, then I don’t know about you, but is there any reason whatsoever to even consider Habermas’s proposal at all?

 

Ark.

 

Grateful nod for certain info to Bob Seidensticker of Cross Examined

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53 thoughts on “Minimal ”Facts” or simply no facts at all?

  1. Liberty is a bible school. Period. It is one of the lowest ranked “universities” in the world. It shouldn’t even have the title, except for the fact that the Americans (under pressure from evangelicals looking for credibility and tax advantages) dramatically lowered their standard for name appointment. Anything that comes from Liberty Bible School it is bullshit.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Theses aren’t peer-reviewed like journal papers are. You have your supervisor (principle reviewer), and he/she generally appoints two secondary reviewers, typically from the same uni/dept. Also, theses don’t actually have to turn up facts. Getting it all wrong, but detailing how you got it all wrong will work just as well for passing. The papers themselves are to demonstrate that you can dream up a good question, organise yourself to investigate that question, conduct the research/experimentation, and present it.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Hello Ark. For me the answer is no. The reason is we are often told by christians wanting to prove the power of their god and the answers the bible gives is to start right at the beginning. With the creation story in Genesis. Now the more realistic among them will admit that the creating was a bit written down wrong, but that god could do it. Then they get to why we need their god, because Adam and Eve sinned. For Christians it all flows from that point. Without that you got a god who goes off the rail for no reason. So like an abused spouse they have to claim that the reason god does those things is their fault. The humans make him punish us. IF we would just be good and holy and worship correctly he wouldn’t smite and strike. We screw up. But just as battered spouses come to see if they live long enough that doesn’t hold water. Humans are not making the all powerful god lash out in anger, humans are not making him flood our world, we are not even responsible if he doesn’t care for what we want to eat or how we like to please ourselves. IF he doesn’t like it he can look away, go mind the rest of the universe, it is a big place. So lets go past the victim shaming.
    We have the knowledge those who make money off the scam don’t want you to know. The whole Adam & Eve thing couldn’t have happened. We understand that, we have science that proves it. It is not a doubt, a historical dig with two sides, nope. This is clear cut it couldn’t have happened the way described in the bible. Wait if something that important is wrong, told wrong, written wrong then what else is? Think on it, the one thing that gives God so many rights to be an asshole is we humans screwed up, we are declared fuck ups. But with that gone, then and god still doing those things, then he is simply an abusive prick with a dominance fetish. I would venture he is also a bit of a self hating homosexual as he wants to give everything to the men and makes it hard for the females yet then punishes the guys for doing what comes natural when you declare the ladies unclean. If the main reason for all the rest of the book, the rest of the actions is removed, the book is really short. God created, the end. or God created, god fucked over everyone, the end. SO if they got that most important detail wrong, the Adam and Eve bit, then what else did they mess up? Did they get the order wrong for creating? maybe it went there was light and he created darkness, makes more sense that way? Not for me but who knows what a backwards toe picking sand dweller with fear issues and an incestus family might agree to. My point is once that whole first part is found out of order, lacking information, wrong on details, well there makes no sense even reading or talking about the book. It sticks as history because it is in error, and it is not good enough to be fiction. It would fail a basic writing class and I won’t talk about the Grammar.
    So let’s forget the thing and the trouble it caused and let’s look into that. Why let a book so clearly flawed and faulted , known to be incorrect in the simplest sciences have so much time and energy of the human species? I really like to see people get their head removed from their butt by the truth as administered from the people who come here, but the person having the “anus reductive skullery” has to be willing to let go and stop trying to shove it even farther up there. The good news if if the push their breathing apparatus far enough up that canal they will smell the true nature of that book called the bible. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I wonder also, some defend it with such energy. Even the ones not making money off it. Oh “sticks” should have been stinks , think people will see that? I must do better at proofreading before I send. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  3. In a recent paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, addressing five major social psychological phenomena — helping to explain Trump’s supporters (including approximately 8o% of conservative Christians), it noted that what voters think is true is more important in elections than the actual truth. IMO, the same can be applied in this scenario.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. You’ve raised some great points and questions Ark!

    “…is there any reason whatsoever to even consider Habermas’s proposal at all?”

    For me personally? No. Not in the least.

    I don’t usually find it veridical framing questions, examinations, or experiments with either yes/no or A/B onlys as many apologists prefer to assert. Even with multiple predicted/possible outcomes, like in multiple-choice questions A), B) C) and D), there should frequently, if not always, be an E) “Other.” Intentionally framing a hypothesis at the outset with limited or restricted outcomes/answers seems highly biased to me, skewing (contaminating?) results. Instead, I often prefer degrees of probability or improbability, i.e. based on the available cumulative data for example (inclusive of ALL scientific disciplines btw) that there’s Extremely probable, Highly probable, Probable, Inconclusive, Improbable, and so on. For me, this measuring-stick is especially useful regarding ancient history where macro- and micro-contexts are sometimes little-known or completely unknown! As you know Ark, I’ve covered this ‘tricky’ subject in my current 4-part series “Games of Unknowledging,” particularly parts 2 and 3 over knowledge, certainty, uncertainty, lost knowledge, and historical-interdisciplinary hindsight. 🙂

    Furthermore, all throughout human history we have learned (well) that orthodoxy does not make something true. It demonstrably reflects DEPENDENT human psychology and neurology: peer-assimilation or pressure, and the placebo-effect. Honestly, with faith-systems it frequently (too frequently?) has little to do with truth/facts and MORE to do with “How will this choice/outcome help me or hurt me today and in the foreseeable future?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t usually find it veridical framing questions

      Perhaps because such questions are horridizontal?

      If you can’t trust the salesperson why should you be expected to trust the product?

      ”The cheque’s in the post”, or ”This won’t hurt a bit … honestly!”

      Liked by 2 people

                1. A drummer eh? Well, you’ll enjoy this if you haven’t seen it.
                  Copeland is a marvelous percussionist.
                  I was very fortunate to see the Police just days before I flew out to South Africa – a story worth re-telling – many a year ago

                  Liked by 2 people

    2. Hello Professor. When you say

      Honestly, with faith-systems it frequently (too frequently?) has little to do with truth/facts and MORE to do with “How will this choice/outcome help me or hurt me today and in the foreseeable future?“

      does this explain mega churches and why so many people flock to them? Is it the case of “I look better being seen in such a wealthy church community”? Hugs

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes it does mean that Scottie. Many people find affirmation and purpose when they feel part of something. It brings more purpose and meaning to them. Yet, the dopomine is being externally stimulated, not internally by their own efforts — which is risky. External stimulants can come and go, and sometimes one has no control over their frequency or method. Based on my background and experience in Psych/A&D, this is a limited (vulnerable?) people-skill-set. In other words, having the skill-sets or tools to create your own dopomine levels WITHOUT others is just as valuable/practical as with like-minded people around.

        Does that help? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes thank you. I have to think if you take that argument further you go right into what Ark posted. It seems the look of righteousness is far more powerful than real piousness. I wonder if that is why people like Mel can’t even admit the smallest fault in his reasoning? If that is why he feels he has to “muddy the waters” rather than answer Ark or John. Hugs

          Liked by 2 people

          1. ‘The look of righteousness is far more powerful than righteousness?’

            Boom boom~!

            But it never hurts to make contacts and expand the ol’ network, now, does it?

            Liked by 2 people

    3. “orthodoxy does not make something true …”

      At last. For this statement (if for no other) you should be sainted. Knighted. Godded. Decorated. Prized. Given 72 houris and an eternity of free booze …

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It says a lot about the human mind for self deception that many earnest religious folk (applies to all religions it seems) can persuade themselves that their Holy book is perfect.

      But as one of my favourite You Tube commentators https://www.youtube.com/user/TheraminTrees
      (I can’t recall which video it is from) observed we tend to create rationalisations to explain away any incongruity in our world view as it is too painful to lose our identity that is wrapped up in the world view.

      I did not explain it very well, but succinctly I could rephrase that because cognitive dissonance is unpleasant we unconsciously find ways to explain away the issues and ironically intelligent people can be the most innovative in doing so.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ye gods~! You guys still taking the holey Bible seriously?

    I understand why … if you can disprove it you may open the door to rationality for the depraved (hah! You wish …)

    But you have to disprove it first.
    You ain’t gonna do that.
    You cannot do that.
    It is impossible.

    If you want to accomplish anything—give Reality a chance, for example—then you need to write off the extant brainwashed and teach the incoming young how to think; how to think rationally and for themselves.

    ‘Proving’ the Bible false (a) can’t be done, and (b) won’t/wouldn’t get you anywhere anyway.

    What you are doing: c’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre …

    Like

    1. Hello Argus. I hope you are having a grand day. Why do you say

      ‘Proving’ the Bible false (a) can’t be done, and (b) won’t/wouldn’t get you anywhere anyway.

      I would love to explore your thoughts on this. Hugs

      Like

      1. It just can’t be done, Scottie. And that’s the Bible truth, so help me Dog.

        My thoughts? You’ve just had them, above.
        And if better minds than mine (no shortage of those in these postings) can’t do it—after years, generations, many centuries of trying … who am I, who are we?

        ‘Proving’ the Bible false is, as seafarers used to say “Pissing in the wind”:

        Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
        Mock on, mock on; ’tis all in vain!
        You throw the sand against the wind,
        And the wind blows it back again.

        Better, I think, to get the young to think. Independently and rationally, for themselves. And that ain’t gonna happen either …

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          1. Scottie:

            proving the Bible false—never easy to prove a negative.

            I’d say that you may be able to disprove the ‘good book’ to our satisfaction, but it will hardly be proof. Especially for True Believers.
            All anyone can hope for is to invoke laws of averages and such: saaaaayyy … out of a hundred billion (or whatever) people born since human beings were recognised as such, how many have ever genuinely died and been resurrected? Especially under the late JC’s circumstances. Brrrr.

            So statistically it is less than expectable; but not impossible (just ask ol’ Mel) (and he’s an educated man, I believe).
            Even educated men can goof—the good scientists in Britain said the platypus was a figment, and when presented with (a somewhat aromatic, I imagine) the corpse of one were adamant that it was a stitch-job, a collage of disparate bits etc.

            Then when told about all the black swans they were infuriated, as there is no such thing as a black swan.
            Many refused (I’m told) to believe even when presented, ‘cos there’s no such thing as black swans (and even a black swan stuffed up their collective snouts) was a lie.
            Hence the expression we now use “black swan event”.

            Again I say: how in Heaven are you (meaning anyone) going to ‘prove’ the Bible false? Can’t be done. (No point in convincing me, I’m already there … but for many others~?) The witnesses (claimed witnesses, dammit) are all a bit deceased and the tales just a wee bit unbelievable. Okay, a lot unbelievable.

            As a CT I love reading up on miracle cures and stuff (not limited to Christianity, note—I think they all do it)(does that cheapen Christ?). As for impossible fire-walking … well, I did it once. But I wasn’t walking, it was more low flying (and a story in itself).

            I’ve recently read about Buddhist monks who sit outside in sub-zero conditions, all night, clad only in a wet sheet which their own body heat dries out—wetty is replaced once dry, and apparently some meditating monks can dry out up to forty sheets a night. I’d love to see that too—although I have seen some hard-to-credit things done in my time. If you want some fun at no real risk of getting hurt, get along to a genuine aikido class and see if the sensei will let you join in when he invites the whole class to take his bo or jo (stick) off of him … you’ll do a lot of low flying … but is what he does ‘proof’ of ki?

            Bugger, I digress. Peace …

            But if you can prove the Bible false—so what?

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            1. Ah Argus, you ran that one around the neighborhood in several directions, but you brought it home. I won’t go into martial arts classes as it has nothing to do with what I was saying, besides I studied Kempo. I feel it is not hard to prove the bible wrong. How wrong do we go, even to the version of deity it is still possible to show the improbability of the bible having the correct one. However I never stated it would convince every die hard eyes blind won’t give an inch person like Mel, or ColorStorm, or S.O.M. . If someone has an ulterior motive to deny anything that shows their wrong Zeus himself couldn’t move them in a personal visit. However that was not my point at all. My point is it is easy to show most of the bible is false, incorrect, or not what it claims to be. Not that I can make Mel believe it, but even he admits the bible has errors. The people here have torn the bible apart almost page by page and showed clearly that it is not true. Now many people here use to believe, and now do not. They read what others wrote how the bible was wrong and they researched it to their own satisfaction. So it does a lot of good to take the book apart and show its flaws and how it is not the holy thing it is claimed to be. I personally knew some of the bible as I had gone to church school and such. I never was a real believer and never worshiped god, I simply loved the attention and kind friendship I was getting. The knowledge I have gained on these blogs, this one and those of the grand people who come here is tremendous. It is hard to understand how much more I know now compared to what I knew before I started dropping in. I bought Nan’s book and was stunned a the information. The reason it is important to keep showing the bible wrong, showing it false, showing it made up is because of the hoards of people out there trying to convince people it is true and a “proof” of god. In order to not only not get bamboozled by the Mel’s of the world one needs to be armed by the facts that are often talked about here and on the blogs of the community members. I wish I could list everyone but the fact is this is a community and I admire the people of the community. I think many people come and read and just “listen” to the conversation and learning. Then they can talk reasonably to those who are pushing the bible and not get sucked in.

              Oh Argus, what is a “CT”? OK hope you are having a good night. I hope I answered your questions. Hugs

              Liked by 2 people

              1. … you can show it, yes … but can you prove it? (Clue: it ain’t gonna be easy~!)

                CT = Conspiracy Theorist (a lot of folks like to label folks, but to me what’s in a name? A cactus by any other name would ouch as much if we sat on it … oops, I digress)(apologies to ol’ Will Shakespeare).

                Martial arts make claims that cannot really be proved, such as the existence of ‘ki’ (second syllable in aikido—but I ain’t gonna tell no sensei that he doesn’t exist. Brrrr)

                Mel admits that the infallible word of God has errors? Just as well the ‘holy stake’ people ran out of matches a century or two back … or he wouldn’t last long.

                Keep showing the Good Book wrong and false = good; prove the GB isn’t false = impossible. Bits of it can be dismissed, yes—but we’re talking concept here.

                (Bugger … The Spouse just yapped that it’s time I took some exercise; so I’ll return later. 🙂 🙂

                Like

  6. In the phrase “it is therefore inerrant in the originals” the university’s SOF left out the word “nonexistent” in front of the word “originals.” So many of the “statements of faith” include references to the original texts as if any of them were in existence. In reality, the earliest manuscripts we have are at a minimum fourth or fifth generation copies. They have never seen the originals and if they are only claiming that the originals are correct, then they are admitting the copies may be in error, hardly the stuff to build an inerrancy claim upon.

    The Minimal Facts Argument is no argument at all. It claims that since you have no better explanation for things that cannot be proven to have occurred, then their argument is true. This “argument” could be applied to the behavior of unicorns, pots of gold at the end of rainbows, or any other specious claim. Why on Earth would we be trying to explain things that did not happen?

    They claim that Jesus must have been resurrected, otherwise, why would the tomb be empty? First, show me the tomb and the rock door. Second, Mark’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb immediately drew the conclusion that Jesus’s allies stole the body, so Matthew’s account added guards. Realize these accounts were written 40-50 years after Jesus’s so-called crucifixion (no records in Rome or elsewhere on this) and that none of Paul’s letters mention the resurrection, or the crucifixion, or the “allies” (no names, mention of disciples, not even the word disciple can be found, nothing). Then there are no independent corroboration of the earthquake, darkness, zombies walking the streets of Jerusalem, or any of the other events supposedly accompanying these events, so why would we want to explain these things when there is no evidence whatsoever that they occurred?

    Using the logic of these people I could make the following argument and you would be expected to believe it: Frodo Baggins was a hobbit, so we know he was short of stature, had hair on the top of his feet, and liked his tucker. He went around barefooted without shoe or sandal and was consider respectable but odd by his neighbors, mostly due to his association with his cousin, one Bilbo Baggins. I have a book that proves these things and you have no better explanation, so … I am right! Hah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ….none of Paul’s letters mention the resurrection, or the crucifixion,

      Most Christians I have encountered usually throw up 1 Corinthians 15:14 .

      And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

      What’s your take on this verse, Steve?

      Like

          1. No.

            Not to any degree more than crediting my teachers and peers as a kid, with a wee bit of leeway. Okay, a whole lot of leeway. Even as an infant I tested stuff I was told … and disappointed.

            But on the subject of belief: if I really had to believe in anything then reincarnation makes better sense and would be slightly (~!) more acceptable … if, if, if swimming back upstream looking for the source didn’t lead us right slap-bang into the Face of God. Always, it seems, we need a Prime Mover. So either eternity was and always is eternal, or … brrr. (Put me down for eternal.)

            I prefer to suspect multi-dimensions, more fun; and I have satisfied myself that ‘time’ is merely an illusion.
            To me there is no ‘flow’ of time, merely an eternal unchanging present.
            Now you know I’m bonkers, challenge me and I may just do a post on this in the future (bugger. I just bit my own teeth).

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Steve:

      back when I was interested enough I devoured conjecturings like those of Baigent and Lincoln and co, and tales of Cathars and Templar treasures and Roslyn Chapels and stuff.

      In brief: a simple country priest in old France was renovating his ratty little chapel when he accidentally toppled an old stone alter pillar that shattered to reveal …

      I love stories like that~!
      If interested look up Berenger Sauniere, it’s wonderful stuff. (Dan Brown made a bundle from his works of fiction loosely based on it …)

      Bugger … I’ve forgotten my point. Again. Absent-minded old dog …

      But follow the trail long enough you’ll come to the ‘Stations Of The Cross’ (Roslyn Chapel? The Tour Magdala?) (some-bloody-where) in which Stat 14 has been unofficially revised and now has a quite enigmatic interpretation; one that might help to explain a few things. Good luck but be warned, go there at your peril. It’s addictive.

      Like

      1. I really must catalogue my stuff … I’ve found a tatty copy of that ‘Station 14’ image, and shall post on it on my Cassandric blog. Pity in those days I never annotated with source links, but there ya goes …

        Like

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