On the question of bias

Having recently been banned from a Facebook group for daring to suggest that a lecturer at Yale – who happens to be a Christian – who teaches historical Jesus studies could not be completely neutral in his presentation of material, I am interested to hear the views regarding this from my visitors and especially former Christians.

Looking forward to your input

Ark


58 thoughts on “On the question of bias

          1. “;;;has robertson freed any of your comments?” If he’s not yet freed his own mind from religious ignorance, can you really expect him to “free” your comments? BTW, a comment isn’t really free until it can buy its own home and start a family without outside interference.

            Liked by 3 people

    1. I must be honest , I was surprised, especially as the initial objection to my comment came from a bloke who said he was an atheist.
      Mind you, he also initially claimed that Dale Martins was secular!
      I suggested we examine the part of the lecturer’s video titled The Historical Jesus and was prepared to point out where I considered there was a degree of bias in his presentation and that’s when things blew up!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Normally I’d agree. But when you enter someone else’s abode, the house rules apply. And in this particular instance the house rules are conspicuously posted at the entrance.

      Like

        1. I’ll have to take your word for it then, because I can’t read the thread without creating a FB account, and I don’t plan on ever doing that.

          Like

          1. And even if you have a FB account, the group is PRIVATE so nothing is open for “casual viewing” — which is why Ark’s link (above) was not accessible. All it did was take a person to the FB page where it says — guess what? — it’s a private club.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Seems they have rescinded my ban! I shall double proof read any further comments to ensure I am not a naughty boy!

            Like

  1. Maybe, but not necessarily. Obviously a believing Christian would be inclined to accept the historical Jesus because an historical Jesus needs to be there as a minimum step for the traditional Jesus of Faith to be there.

    With that said, in theory, I still think a Christian with the requisite expertise can still make reasonably fair assessments of evidence and arguments as the work they are required to publish to keep their job will be reviewed and evaluated by their colleagues who may or may not share said biases.

    Like

    1. The basis for the site is that there is an historical Jesus. I have no beef with this, much as I might not fully agree with the premise.

      A video series from Dale Martins was linked and I took issue with one or two things he mentioned regarding what he considered to be independent testimony in the lecture titled The Historical Jesus.
      It was my view.
      However, I didn’t even get to raise the points,( I did offer).
      There were other comments on the thread I was part of but I was kicked off for asserting that I did not consider Martins could be completely neutral.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe I misinterpreted what you were asking. You want feedback on the fact that the Facebook group kicked you out for expressing your view?

        If you were just discussing the issues themselves then that seems like a little bit of an overreaction.

        Like

        1. No, that’s fine, CR, you answered the question I posed in the post.

          But I still find it very hard to accept that no matter how professional they are, I believe a lecturer who is Christian is unable to be completely neutral when it comes to historical Jesus studies.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Now that I had a chance to look over your actual conversation and having checked out their rules:

            Rule 2 # Respectful Discourse (No Assaults On Religion or Atheism),

            Rule 6 # This Group is Religion Free, History Only (please don’t bring religion into any argument or your hatred of religion into any argument)

            Rule 8 # No Religious or Anti Religious Commentary

            Rule 9 # This is not an atheist v theist site (do not get bogged down in your opponents beliefs. They are not to be discussed in this group.

            It’s pretty clear your very first comment when you asked, “Is Martin a Christian?” and “As Martin is a Christian then no, sorry, he will not be able to keep his beliefs completely out of his research, otherwise he would have deconverted already So it’s pretty clear that you did violate their group rules.

            Like

          2. As the group is supposedly focussed on Historical Jesus studies then it should be prudent to know the background of anyone making a claim in this regard.
            Thus, based on what I had listened to I wanted to know if Martin was a Christian.
            I had suspected he was from his Wiki page but was curious if anyone on the site knew for sure.
            Rule 6 is nonsensical of course as it is a religious topic.
            Rule 8 suffers similarly.
            Rule 9 While I don’t consider Martin to be an opponent, the fact he is a Christian should have been made known to those on the thread when the first person mentioned him.

            Like

          3. Well, you know, I didn’t make the rules for that forum! So I am not really sure why you’re complaining about them to me!

            My position is pretty similar to Ron’s. In principle I generally agree with letting people have their say, but this is a private Facebook group that posted the rules ahead of time and you clearly violated them.

            If you want some constructive criticism, I guess I wonder why you didn’t just lead off with whatever specific criticisms you had of Martin’s argument that you noticed while you watched his lecture and posted your critiques of that instead of getting caught up in the dude’s background.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. I’m not complaining. They can do whatever they wish.
            Your criticism is noted. yes, I probably should have raised the point of my objection up front.
            Hindsight is often the best science we have!
            🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Huh. That’s interesting. Apparently the Admin person was a hard-core believer and was more personally offended that you would even SUGGEST such a thing!

    Ark, you should know by now that you have to pussy-foot around some Christians. If you go in with guns blazing, they’ll shut you down before you can say Jesus three times. Not saying this is what happened here, but … maybe?

    Anyway, who needs ’em … as the old saying goes.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Reading their list of Rules, this one stood out to me: No Religious or Anti Religious Commentary: This is a history group ONLY

        From this and the other rules, it sounds to me like they want people to stay strictly factual. From their perspective, your question was simply out-of-bounds. For shame!

        Looks to me like you’ll have to stick to your blog discussions. 😛

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am all for factual. That’s why I asked about whether Dale Martin was a Christian, and it wasn’t long before I was accused of being anti-academic!
          Would the same charge have been levelled at me had I raised the same ”red flag” about Mike Licona who also considers himself a bit of an historian?
          Then again, so does David Robertson and he’ll make a point of telling you he even studied at a university!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been listening to and reading such slanted views for years. Almost all such people swallow the line they have been fed without once pausing for a moment to simply wonder why they believe what they do, and immediately you ask for evidence or suggest that they are only making a claim they go off the deep end.

      And there I thought this level of narrow mindedness was mostly confined to places such as Word Press?

      Like

  3. Letting a Christian teach about Jesus as a historical figure without peer review is just as safe as letting somebody who cares enough who wins a presidential election, enough to vote himself, count the votes, without full audibility. What could possibly go wrong, that turned out to be impossible to put right, in either case?

    Have you any evidence of bias?

    Like

  4. One of the expected issues we as students back in my university days had to include when presenting ideas of others or our own was our bias. That was and remains a hard task but a very important one. When challenged, if one hasn’t already done this, then yeah… denial is the usual response and significant discomfort will follow. The people who drive me nuts are those admins busy, busy, busy trying to ‘protect’ people from very legitimate challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Also notice the same tactics used in ‘defending’ someone by a ‘champion’ that we find with religious leaders… presuming the poor widdle sheeple of the flock need ‘proper’ defending. I encounter this all the time with ‘defenders’ of the latest social justice issue taken up by someone I challenge, with the same over-reaching and opaque terminology chalk full of presumptions and assumptions that do not to stand up to reasonable and fact-based examination… so the problem is the questioner. To bring up these criticisms and problematic questions means your character must be suspect and so this is the reason to keep such ‘deplorables’ away from damaging the so-called discussion. That’s the reason for always adding the term ‘strident’ or ‘angry’ or ‘hateful’ atheist, for example, and the same is playing out with a lot of issues today. You’re just a nasty and hateful person, donchaknow, because you actually care about what’s true. That’s the character flaw.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t answer your question. But I can imagine the readers of another blog being asked to weigh in on whether or not it’s possible for an anti-theist to discuss the historicity of Jesus from a neutral standpoint. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hmm, not sure I would wholly agree.
      Once upon a time I would never have questioned the historicity of someone such as Moses, being part of a Western Christian culture that accepted his historicity if not all the miraculous nonsense.

      However, research and evidence changed my view.

      If one is confronted with evidence that challenges or flatly refutes one’s view of anything, to maintain a belief in the face of this would definitely suggest bias.

      For example, Prof Taboo would be hard pushed to maintain the view that his team, Arsenal, are the ”greatest”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, but I’m not talking about the process, rather where the process begins. The explanation for the support of anti-vaccination, for example, is based on a person having a different set of base knowledge than those on the other side. That could be lack of knowledge or different weighting of information – hence bias.
        To give a example in my field, you can’t accurately date a Chinese artwork based on European standards. Materials and styles were popular at different times and in different contexts. So while the use of a particular blue pigment can date something very specifically in Europe that won’t translate to China.

        Like

        1. Base knowledge is surely dependant on the facts/claims one is in possession of?
          To my mind personal bias – in context, and when not simply about whether one prefers chocolate cake or vanilla – suggests
          a refusal to accept evidence when it refutes one’s own belief.
          Refusing to acknowledge the evidence for evolution, for example.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I see. We’re talking about different things. You’re zeroing in on the specific, or a sort of end product bias. But you have to consider what was at play and the many stages it took to create the circumstances where evidence can be rejected.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes, I see bias as a kind of framing, what you call a set of base knowledge, what was once referred to as, “where you’re coming from.” If knowledge were independent of people, then there would be no bias, knowledge we call ‘facts’… facts that are like bubbles floating on a sea of ignorance. But as soon as we are exposed or see one, as soon as we reach for one, because we collect and interpret what an assortment of facts mean to frame our understanding of something, bias lies in this process. And this is where we find bias hard at work, causing affects like confirmation bias and a host of other ways to ‘tweak’ the meaningful picture we build into something that makes sense to us, and then fits into a larger understanding. And this is a very human thing to do because our brains are not fact machines but meaning-making organs to help us navigate the world we inhabit. So it’s important to understand at the outset that each of us will be subject to bias and equally important to recognize which ones serve we are most likely to use. This allows us to be better on guard when we make the intentional effort to recognize our bias at work and reduce and/or eliminate it right then and there. And if this means changing our minds, reforming opinions, reassembling a better understanding – a more accurate reflection of reality – then this is a good thing! It means we’ve actually learned something!

          Liked by 2 people

  7. While commenting to Christians keep in mind they are the judge and the advocate, and none of them know of any other religion to compare so essentially you are just stupid. Will god judge you for that?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, historical Jesus studies … taught by a Christian … how strange. I do not think it is impossible for this person to be “unbiased” as a presenter, but I would hope he would share his biases from the get-go, and reinforce them as he went.

    There is a massive bias in “historical Jesus studies” and that is the vast majority of the proponents assume that such a person existed and they are just looking for details of his existence. This, of course, is not an historical approach. The existence of Jesus needs to be treated as an open question. It rarely is. Surely, before you divvy up which sayings are from the historical Jesus and which are from the mythical Jesus, shouldn’t one have some sort of proof of the historical Jesus?

    This lecturer might be of the lazy Christian sort, or the Universalist sort, and might endeavor to lead people to Jesus through an honest assessment of the information available. We just don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s