”It’s all a matter of evidence, M’lud.”

There probably isn’t a sceptic, atheist, or religious deconvert that hasn’t at one time been asked the question:

”What kind of evidence would convince you (of) ….. ?”

Of course we all know to what our religious friends are referring, yes?

One can pick one’s own poison in this regard but popular examples usually include, God and the resurrection of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.

I’ve recently been in dialogue over on Joel Anderson’s blog – a place where I have been banned for some time, but for some odd reason he decided to (temporarily) rescind the Red Card. Maybe his ego got the better of him as this reply to someone’s comment about why I was ”unbanned” might suggest?

joelando11@yahoo.com Haha…his comments still automatically go in the trash. I just felt like responding this time.

The humility just oozes like warm treacle …. laced with arsenic.

Anyway, after replying to one chap that it would be best if we clarified the definition of evidence, I suggested we start with the dictionary definition, and he should pick the wording of the one he favoured most.

This was greeted with a degree of unexpected enthusiasm and not one but three definitions were offered, to be rounded off with this comment:

ALL OF WHICH fits everything Dr. Anderson and I have been saying here. Everything we’ve posted to you counts as evidence, unless you wish to argue with three reputable dictionaries of the English language.

Now how about you put your money where your mouth is and tell US what kind of evidence would convince YOU?

So, I opted for this definition from the Oxford:

“The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”

Now, I intended to post my reply last night but was distracted by the football – bloody Manchester United – and so had a mind to post it this morning. However …. it turns out that my Red Card had been reinstated and Anderson left a comment to the effect he is refusing to release anything else I post.

*Sigh* It was ever thus.

So …. for the benefit of my faithful disciples …. or blog-apostles (all twelve of you, or thereabouts) here is the reply I intended to post with regard what kind of evidence would convince YOU?

While most discussions about evidence for Christianity focus on God and /or the Resurrection of Jesus, I prefer the resurrection tale of Lazarus, as I find it more interesting and the detail more specific and comprehensive.

Therefore, by applying the Oxford English Dictionary definition of evidence I might well accept the tale of the resurrection of Lazarus as likely to be historically accurate if it can be shown to meet the criteria set out by the Oxford.

Namely: (Does the)“The available body of facts or information indicate (ing) whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”

Ark.

 
 *Since composing this piece, Joel has, once again temporarily rescinded my ”Red Card” and invited me to post my comment on his blog. I did reply, and added a small proviso.  In  the  meantime, you can offer your sixpenneth on this post.
** A kindly nod to Mister Z – he knows why.  Edit


371 thoughts on “”It’s all a matter of evidence, M’lud.”

  1. So, technically Lazarus was not resurrected. He was brought back to life and had not received an immortal body. He died again obviously, at a later date. But….
    As far as evidence goes, I would consider this; if we met with an uncontacted tribe or aliens from gods big universe and they already knew all about Jesus and Elohim, I would consider that as evidence.
    On the other hand, there was a common thread throughout indigenous peoples throughout the world and their connection to the earth, as well as practices and beliefs. Not one of them ever attributed their experience in like fashion the the Hebrew god. He is not self evident in any way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, seeing as the premise of the post was an agreement between believer and non-believer on dictionary definitions ….

      resurrect
      /rɛzəˈrɛkt/
      Learn to pronounce
      verb
      past tense: resurrected; past participle: resurrected
      restore (a dead person) to life.

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      1. I would call that resuscitation. As a medic I ‘resurrected’ many people from the dead, just doesn’t sound like the proper use of the word. Maybe so in SA? The word then, has been put to misuse by Sunday school teachers everywhere

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!
          I’m just quoting the dictionary in an effort to reach agreement about evidence.
          Furthermore, the bible describes Lazarus as dead, deceased, gone to join the choir invisible and pining for the fjords … since four days, and for good measure, even states he is a bit on the whiffy side!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sounds as though he needed a bath in his comatose state. Curious what you would consider as evidence? Is there any evidence, if presented that would persuade you?

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Haha. Just curious. I gave you mine. I would think we would have found something by now. Aliens is the last test of omnipresence.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, c’mon! The reason the indigenous peoples don’t believe in the Hebrew god is because the Prince of Darkness has blinded them from seeking the truth. This is apologetics 101. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course.
      I was merely responding to to well worn Christian request regarding evidence.
      Obviously, the biblical tale of Lazarus does not meet the criteria.

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      1. Back atcha ron/ and i guess i should return the favour and point to the text that reads: ‘come, let us reason together…………..’ that is, to see things from God’s point of view, the most reasonable relevance of all. 😉

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  2. Nah, too much like a discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin to me. Imagine a negotiation of, say, a contract. Imagine asking the other party “What can I write here that would make you sign this contract? No negotiator worth his salt would reply truthfully tot hat question as it always weakens his bargaining position.

    I remember going into such a conference in my first divorce. I wasn’t striking the deal, my lawyer was. It was a good thing 9I thought then) because I was a mental/emotional wreck at the time and in a moment of weakness I answered the question: “What’s the least you will take? What’s your bottom line?” I answered truthfully and my lawyer came out of that negotiation in five minutes with … my bottom line. There is a guideline for negotiators which goes: the first person to mention a number loses. I think the two lawyers got together and said to each other “What’s the least your guy will take?” and settled bim, bam, boom and they were done. Now granted, they weren’t getting rich taking these cases and weren’t racking up billable hours, but … even so.

    So, my response to ”What kind of evidence would convince you (of) ….. ?” would be “You first … what kind of evidence would convince you (of) ….. ?” Most Christians claim there is nothing that would cause them to give up their faith/belief, etc. and since this is the attitude of an extremist, this is not really a negotiation, it is a bullying session.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In past discussions of this nature I have always responded: ”I don’t know” , which is the truth.
      The one time I opted to provide some sort of answer (to Robertson) I was immediately ridiculed and all but accused of lying!

      So, I agree with your closing sentence, about bullying, Steve, which is why I tried a different approach.
      I will be interested to see what sort of response it provokes this time.

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    2. Exactly, Doc.

      Ancient Roman inscriptions refer to Julius Caesar as “the God made manifest” and Suetonius records that on his death Ceasar was deified both officially by the Senate and the general acclamation of the people, which deification was heralded by a comet that was visible for seven days and was believed to contain his soul.

      Yet no skeptic I’ve yet encountered has argued that we should therefore disregard everythig Suetonius wrote because of these decidedly supernatural comments. Certainly no skeptic I’ve ever met has argued that Juilus Caesar was therefore probably just a myth.

      No. The prejudice is curiously always directed towards Christian texts , possibly because so many skeptics have prior commitments of one kind or another, for one reason or another, that predispose them to a radical skepticism regarding any Christian texts.

      Yet would any sane medievalist toss out every medieval English chronicle of the life of 11th c. King Edward the Confessor which takes seriously his posthumous canonization as a saint and performance of miracles while king? By the logic we’ve seen here the answer would have to be an unqualified “yes!” You can’t trust any historical text which at the same time also purports to make serious supernatural claims! Of course, if we did that, there go most of the historical biographies of Edward. And the Caesars. And Muhammad. And the Buddha. And many other Medieval kings and queens.

      But again, this almost paranoid skepticism seems only directed a the Christian Bible, particularly the New Testament.

      Consistency, thou art a jewel.

      Pax.

      Lee.

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      1. Yet no skeptic I’ve yet encountered has argued that we should therefore disregard everythig Suetonius wrote because of these decidedly supernatural comments. Certainly no skeptic I’ve ever met has argued that Juilus Caesar was therefore probably just a myth.

        Correct … in the main, sceptics only dismiss the supernatural claims about Caesar, as they do with another prominent Roman such as Vespasian and any other human being for whom supernatural claims are credited.

        And for the same reason sceptics dismiss the supernatural claims in the bible about characters such as Jesus of Nazareth, Saul/Paul, the Disciples etc etc.

        I hope you realise that you have just made the sceptic’s argument and shot yourself in the foot, Lee?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am not sure there is any, that is, any provided by a believer. It would have to be something self evident like the sun that doesn’t need an argument in its favor or my shadow while I am standing under the midday sun.

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    1. The point of the post was to try and finally demonstrate to a Christian that if what they claim is evidence for any particular event in the bible it should meet the criteria for evidence.
      Which is why I needed to establish if an agreement could be reached – hence using the dictionary definition.

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          1. Ark, I just love your laughing dog. It portrays you to a tee, You rascal you. 🙂

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          2. You know Muttley surely?
            Re-phrased the crucifiction question for you on Gary’s post.
            Have a go at answering it.

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  4. Weird. You’d think an omniscient being would already know what evidence I require. And that those who claim they have a close personal relationship with such an omniscient being would be able to obtain that information from same. So either:

    – they are not in a close relationship with their god
    – their god is not omniscient
    – their god does not exist

    Nonetheless, the empirical evidence I require remains unchanged:

    1) introduce me to your physically resurrected man in person
    2) produce Christian believers who can fulfil Jesus’ promise that “whoever believes and is baptized . . . will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” made in Mark 16. Clear out a burn or cancer ward and restore the limbs of amputees and then I might reconsider your claims.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “Now how about you put your money where your mouth is and tell US what kind of evidence would convince YOU?”

    What I am hearing this preacher really say is “Tell me what kind of sales pitch will work on you, so I can use it.” Well no Mr. Preacher/Salesman, I’m not going to do your job for you. The fact that you have so far failed to sell me on your product is not my problem.

    I don’t know exactly what evidence would convince me. I don’t have to know. If there is an omni-everything god out there, then it already knows what evidence I would need. It knows better than I would myself. And if an evangelist is in contact with that omni-everything god, then the god could have told him what evidence I would need, and to open his sales pitch with it, instead of whatever lame-o apologetic he was using. At the very least, I expect a representative of a real live omni-god to start the conversation with my personal passcode, because an omni-god would know what it is, and know to tell the salesman to open his presentation with it. The first preacher to start a conversation with me with that sentence will have my complete attention. None has so far. I’m not holding my breath.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The simple answer, for me, is that I’ll know convincing evidence when I see it. As I have yet to be shown any, I remain unconvinced. Is there a reason why believers can’t understand that? If there was convincing evidence, we would believe. If not, we wouldn’t. Why ask us what would work? Do they have some really good evidence that we have yet to hear about tucked away just in case an atheist suggests it? Then, and only then, they present it? Why not start with the strongest evidence? Why not “give us your best shot”?

    Seems like deflection is the better way to go about proselytization these days. If someone asks “tough” questions of a believer, instead of answering them, they tend to throw it back and ask us to tell them what is convincing. Shifting the burden of proof is not what one does when they are actually right. If they have the goods, it’s time to pony up. If not, there’s not much point wasting everyone’s time.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree with you, but I guess the problem lies in different interpretations of the word ‘evidence’. A believer might consider the Bible and some creationists ‘findings’ as evidence, so they get frustrated when we won’t accept their claims on face value like they do.

      If I’ll be honest though, if someone asked me ‘what would convince you of…?’ my general answer would be: “I don’t know exactly”. That isn’t to say that we can’t make case by case judgements on specific claims, it’s just a hard question to give an all encompassing answer to. Different claims require different levels of evidence I guess?

      One could say that claims must be based on fact and observation, to be considered as ‘evidence’, as well as being able to stand up to scrutiny. Once again though, different people seem to have different interpretations on what all these buzz words mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Since I’m no longer a “believer,” I really don’t give a hoot if there’s “evidence” or not. But that’s me. I just feel sorry for those who think they need a Daddy-in-the-sky to live their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your are being honest Nan, and have expressed a large part of the root of the entire matter.

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    2. @ Nan.
      I have expressed similar sentiments on a regular basis when in ”discussion” with believers. The issue is not what they personally believe (who cares?) but what they do (especially to others) with that belief.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi. I’m the American “chap” who asked Ark what kind of evidence would convince him of the resurrection. I’m not a preacher or a missionary, just a 51 year-old Protestant Christian who’s spent the better part of 30 years examining and studying the intellectual underpinnings of his faith.

    Dr. Joel Anderson and I have admitted the obvious fact that absolute proof of Jesus’ resurrection is not possible–but since history studies “one-off”, unrepeatable, un-falsifiable events, that means 100% certainty regarding any event from history ancient or modern is impossible.

    Let’s take a different tack.

    If I asked what evidence would convince you of the truth that Socrates died by drinking poison, most of you would probably say the two ancient sources written by Socrates’ former students–Plato and Xenophon; yet the earliest surviving copies of these texts date to the Middle Ages–over a thousand years after they were written! And there are only a handful of extant copies that have survived. Yet we have over five thousand ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament, a few gospel fragments which date to about 120 AD, a mere twenty years after the last gospel, John’s, was written! And our earliest complete New Testaments, Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, date to approximately 350 AD, a mere two hundred-fifty years after the New Testament was written!

    And yet we have multiple independent written attestation for Jesus’ resurrection, first, the written witness of Paul, who began writing letters to various churches ca. 50 AD (a mere twenty years or so after Jesus’ death), then he four gospels, written at the very latest 60 years after the fact (ca 60 AD-ca 90 AD), much too early for a large amount of myth and legend to have accrued to the story. Indeed, scholars like Richard Bauckham, and the late Martin Hengel and the late Larry Hurtado have demonstrated that the “resurrection creed” Paul recites in I Corinthians 15:3-7 traces back to oral tradition circulating within 3-5 years of Jesus’ crucifixion, indicating that belief in the resurrection wasn’t a much later occurrence.

    The fact that the gospel resurrection accounts *don’t* agree in all of the peripheral details is evidence that the accounts weren’t prefabricated stories cooked up by conscious hoaxers (and as academic scholar NT Wright points, out even if there were contradictions in these accounts, a contradiction isn’t proof that nothing happened.).

    Couple this with everything I’ve said to Ark about a dying-resurrected Messiah not being on anyone’s radar in ancient 2nd Temple Judaism–and indeed, a dead Messiah was proof of a FALSE Messiah; the embarrassing fact that a group of hysterical women were the first witnesses to the resurrection instead of the men (which critics like the pagan Celsus were still pointing out one hundred years later); the fact the male disciples were portrayed as clueless, ignorant cowards who fled at Jesus’ arrest; the fact that Jesus’ family couldn’t or wouldn’t bury him properly, but instead a member sympathetic to Jesus from the very ruling body that wanted him killed had to bury him; the fact that the early church moved the idea of bodily resurrection from a peripheral belief as it was in mainstream Judaism to a central tenet of Christianity; the fact that nobody ever venerated Jesus’ tomb as a pilgrimage site for at least a hundred years after his death; the fact that nobody ever produced his remains, either in his tomb or later in an ossuary; etc.

    ALL OF THIS constitutes EVIDENCE. You may not find it compelling but *evidence* it is. Ark keeps insisting that none of this constitutes real evidence at all. He seems to believe that “evidence” = “proof.” It doesn’t. Not necessarily. Evidence can sometimes be proof but it isn’t always. Certainly not in history. For example, the testimony of Paul and the slightly later gospel accounts are *evidence* for Jesus’ resurrection but not *proof.* As a public historian I’ve dealt with history five days a week for nearly twenty-five years.

    We would get a lot further if Ark would simply admit that his prior commitment to atheism, his naturalistic, materialistic worldview, precludes any possibility of the supernatural. With that amount of prejudice in place, no amount of otherwise compelling evidence–even assuming he could articulate what kind of evidence he would find compelling– will convince him.

    Pax.

    Lee Freeman.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. NAN: Of course, all your “evidence” hinges on the validity of the bible.

        LEE: Nan, with all due respect, not at all.

        The evidence I posted is evidence *for* the validity of the Bible. For example, knowing that the authors of the NT were all orthodox Jews and knowing that a dying-resurrected God-man wasn’t on anyone’s radar in ancient Judaism, the skeptic has to explain why this group of orthodox Jews would go so far off book in faking a Messiah they hoped to persuade other Jews and also Greeks to believe in.

        Pax.

        Lee.

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        1. LEE: With all “due respect” (such a mealy-mouth phrase), you miss my point.

          Yes, the physical manuscripts that make up the bible have been shown to be authentic — there are “bits and pieces” on display in variously scattered museums, etc. However, the stories contained within those writings is valid and serves as “evidence” only to those who choose to believe them. Your reference to the “written attestation” of the stories illustrates my point.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. “If I asked what evidence would convince you of the truth that Socrates died by drinking poison…”

      Dying from drinking poison is not considered a “supernatural” event. Coming back from the dead is. Your analogy is ill-chosen.

      There’s a reason both science and our modern courts of law eliminate the “supernatural” as a possibility, simply because it falls outside of their purview and there is no way to empirically verify the claims. “Eyewitness” testimony that is heavily reliant on the supernatural must be discounted, for those reasons.

      You place an untenable burden on the word “fact” when you cite testimonies drawn purely from New Testament sources, as Nan alluded to. So, “embarrassing facts” about hysterical women, or weak disciples, or former doubters, or literary deus ex machina like Joseph of Arimathea, or whoever — it’s all beside the point. Eyewitness testimonies are notoriously unreliable, and subject to all sorts of subjective influences and unconscious biases, as any seasoned cop will tell you.

      The only “embarrassing fact” I see here is you taking impressionable, illiterate 1st century Levantine peasants — and the later, agenda-driven authors of the Gospels — entirely at face value.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. CHRIS: Dying from drinking poison is not considered a “supernatural” event. Coming back from the dead is. Your analogy is ill-chosen.

        LEE: Chris, either you missed my point, or I stated it poorly.

        My point was/is, that as evidence for the death of Socrates all we have are TWO texts, written later by two of his disciples, the earliest copes of both of which only date to the Middle Ages.

        Whereas as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus we have 12 letters of Paul (esp. I Corinthians, in particular chapter 15), plus four gospels, plus references by the early second century church fathers like Irenaeus, Justin, etc. Furthermore, we have over 5,000 whole or partial copies of the NT, dating bet. 120 and 350 AD.

        No skeptic I know of seriously questions the death of Socrates despite having only two primary sources, the oldest copies of which date to a 1,000 years or more after the fact.

        And yet, despite having about fifteen-eighteen primary historical sources for Jesus’ resurrection, and over 5,000 whole or partial copies of those sources, the latest copies dating to a mere three hundred years after the fact, skeptics routinely call the historicity of the resurrection into question.

        Why? Because they *know* the supernatural doesn’t exist therefore they *know* dead bodies don’t come back to life.Yet the Paul and the four evangelists knew as well you do that dead bodies usually stay dead. And yet they insist that Jesus was raised, knowing they were going to be laughed at and ridiculed for making that claim, esp. by educated Romans for whom the very idea of bodily resurrection was at best, ridiculous and distasteful, at worst downright offensive. As well by Jews, who expected a general bodily resurrection of all YHWH’s faithful at the end of history, certainly not one man ahead of all the others, and certainly not a crucified would-be Messiah. Because as all orthodox Jews knew, a dead messiah was a false messiah.

        CHRIS: You place an untenable burden on the word “fact” when you cite testimonies drawn purely from New Testament sources, as Nan alluded to. So, “embarrassing facts” about hysterical women, or weak disciples, or former doubters, or literary deus ex machina like Joseph of Arimathea, or whoever — it’s all beside the point. Eyewitness testimonies are notoriously unreliable, and subject to all sorts of subjective influences and unconscious biases, as any seasoned cop will tell you.

        LEE: On the contrary, the evidence I alluded to above falls under a criterion that academic historians call the criterion of embarrassment, which means basically that people don’t normally tell lies that could damage their credibility and hurt their cause, yet assuming the NT authors made up all of the details I posted above, that’s EXACTLY what they did-made up stories they had to expect ahead of time nobody would believe. Which makes no sense if they were simply making it all up. A Jew faking a Messiah would’ve come up with someone more like Simon Bar Kochba. A Greek faking a religion based on Jesus would’ve come up with something more like 2nd century AD Gnosticism. And yet Paul and the four evangelists all insist that a would-be messianic, crucified god-man, *was* bodily resurrected, which proves that he really *was* the Messiah. Not only that, but from a *borrowed* tomb, and the first witnesses to all of this were a group of hysterical women! No Jew faking a religion he wanted to sell to other Jews or Greeks would make any of that up.

        As for eyewitness testimony being unreliable, you’re right. But at the same time, just because three witnesses to a robbery getaway can’t agree on whether the Jeep Cherokee was orange, red or blue, doesn’t invalidate the fact that a Jeep Cherokee was the getaway car.

        And in the ensuing court trial, you want some variation in the witness testimony; if all the witnesses to the robbery getaway give identical testimony down to the last detail, the defense attorney’s gonna argue that they either got together beforehand and worked out exactly what they were gonna say or they were coached on what to say by the prosecution and their testimony gets thrown out.

        If you read the resurrection accounts in the NT carefully, what will strike you is that they haven’t been harmonized, or edited to make them all dovetail perfectly, but instead read as the disjointed, confused testimony of people trying to make sense out of some really bizarre things that had just happened. If the gospel authors and Paul were simply making all of this stuff up, they did a really bad job! Thus from that angle it doesn’t matter *how many* women came, or when; what is extraordinary is that the texts have *any* women showing up at all!

        None of this “proves” in any way that Jesus’ dead body was resurrected, but it *does* make it much harder to claim that the disciples simply made it all up.

        Pax.

        Lee.

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        1. No skeptic I know of seriously questions the death of Socrates despite having only two primary sources, the oldest copies of which date to a 1,000 years or more after the fact.

          Whether or not Socrates was poisoned, is not a life changing event. It doesn’t take much evidence, because it does not much matter one way or the other. The conventional wisdom as to what happened is more important than what actually happened.

          The purported resurrection is supposedly a life changing event. And it is supposed to be what actually happened, rather than the conventional wisdom, that should change lives. Hence the need for stronger evidence.

          Whereas as evidence for the resurrection of Jesus we have 12 letters of Paul (esp. I Corinthians, in particular chapter 15), plus four gospels, plus references by the early second century church fathers like Irenaeus, Justin, etc. Furthermore, we have over 5,000 whole or partial copies of the NT, dating bet. 120 and 350 AD.

          None of those is actual evidence. They are, at best, only hearsay and rumor.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. NEIL: None of those is actual evidence. They are, at best, only hearsay and rumor.

            LEE: Neil, google evidence. A written record constitutes evidence. Not *proof* but certainly *evidence* (there’s a difference). Now, granted evidence *may* ultimately be based on hearsay and rumor, but it’s still *evidence* (evidence can be good or bad). Or are you calling the death of Socrates “hearsay and rumor” too? Because that event is based primarily on two written records. If I ask you what proof you have for the death of Socrates, you’d say the WRITINGS of Plato and Xenophon. Well, if you ask me what evidence do you have for the resurrection of Jesus, I’d say the WRITINGS of the 12 letters of Paul, four gospels, and a handful of specific references by the 2nd century church fathers.

            Pax.

            Lee.

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          2. Or are you calling the death of Socrates “hearsay and rumor” too?

            I have not looked closely at that evidence, because it is not important enough to me.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Sorry for the length, but these are important matters that don’t always lend themselves to quick bullet points.

            Liberated, if you read carefully the evidence that I posted earlier for the ressurrection, none of it was predicated on a blanket assumption that the NT accounts are true.

            I simply applied the academic criteria of embarrassment to point out that if Paul and then the later gospel authors set out to purposely fabricate stories they hoped to get other Jews and Romans to buy into, judging by the ressudrection accounts in the NT they did a very poor job of it. They couldn’t even convince all of their own people it was true at first because it was so bizarre and not what anyone expected!

            As for what “most” NT scholars accept about the historical Jesus, there’s much more consensus than you might think. Most accept 1. his being from Nazareth, 2. that his parents were commoners, 3. that he had a small band of disciples which–radically for ancent Judaism also included women, 4. that he performed miracles, 5. that he esp. identified with the poor and marginalized–the “tax collectors and sinners”, 6. that he made himself an enemy of the Jewish and Roman establishment, 7. Tha he ate a last meal with his disciples, 8. that he was executed by Pilate as an enemy of the state, 9. that within 3-5 years of his death his disciples were claiming that he had been resurrected by God. That’s actually quiteva bit of agreement.

            As for the evils of Christianity, I think you’re exaggerating just a bit. One reason Christianity spread so quickly across the Roman Empire was because of its radical (for antiquity) stance on human rights. For example, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4 that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one, and his insistence in I Corinthians 7 that a husband’s body for the purloses of sex belings to his wife and that husbands shouldn’t withhold sex unless the husband and wife both mutually agree, were radical ideas for the first century AD. Paul tells slaves to try to obtain their freedom if possible, but to trust God if that isn’t possible, and in his letter to Philemon urges Philemon to receive back his runaway slave Onesimus as a brother and equal and not as a slave.

            Unlike pagan society Christians elevated and protected women and children, did not abandon unwanted female or unhealthy male babies, refused to endorse the violent and bloody gladiatorial games, and when everyone, including the doctors left town during plagues Christians stayed behind to nurse not only their own sick but their neighbors as well, at risk to their lives. Emperor Julian the Apostate tried unsuccessfully to get the pagan temples to adopt Christian forms of charity and benevolence, but couldn’t get them interested.

            And don’t forget that most of the 19th c, abolitionists in the UK and the US were Christians.

            The first public hospitals were founded and staffed by medieval Christian monasteries. Tue first universities and medical schools were also founded by the medieval church.

            As for the number and dates of the oldest ancient NT mss copies, this is hardly a controversial claim but a fact accepted by every NT textual scholar of whatever stripe. Thus, it *cannot* be considered “hearsay.”

            Since you guys all seem to love Bart Ehrman so much, and since his spcialty is textual studies (he studied under the late, great Bruce Metzger), check him regarding the number and dares of the NT mss.

            Pax.

            Lee.

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    2. Of course!

      Lee can also be a girl’s name. Apologies if I have dressed you in the wrong colour smock.
      As we are dealing with non repeatable history, and history from a long time ago – even before my Grandad was born – we are forced to rely on what ever evidence is available .
      You and I both agree on the dictionary definition of what constitutes evidence.
      As non-believers are forever being asked why we do not beleive the tales in the bible and being lambasted for not accepting supernaturalism I merely wanted to see if the Lazarus tale met the criteria of what you agreed to is evidence.

      So, Lee, does it?

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      1. ARK: You and I both agree on the dictionary definition of what constitutes evidence.
        As non-believers are forever being asked why we do not beleive the tales in the bible and being lambasted for not accepting supernaturalism I merely wanted to see if the Lazarus tale met the criteria of what you agreed to is evidence.

        So, Lee, does it?

        LEE: Yes, it does fit the criteria of “evidence.” If you ask me what evidence do I have for Lazarus’ being raised from the dead by Jesus I’d point to the story in John’s gospel. It’s evidence. Because of your prior commitment to atheism you may not find it not very compelling evidence but evidence it is. That in itself says *nothing* about whether the story itself is true or not. If some archeologist discovered a heretofore unknown Jewish or Roman text that could be persuasively dated to AD ca 30 and which stated that Lazarus died and said nothing about his being raised by Jesus, then we’d have *evidence* that the story in John (written some 30-60 years later) was just much later Christian propaganda and possibly never happened. Both would constitute “evidence” but neither would constitute absolute proof.

        So I think you guys are confusing evidence with absolute proof. Evidence helps you ascertain the truth or falsity of a claim.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It does not fit the dictionary criteria that you and I agreed upon, which is why your mate, Joel is still whining on about ”WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE.”
          So you can stop with the weasling, it is wasted on me.
          All you are doing is spewing second hand apologetics and boring the crap out of everyone.

          Like

    3. I agree with Chris Schilling, this is not a good analogy. Here’s why I think so.

      1. None of the writings about Socrates portray him as anything but a mortal man who liked to have philosophical discussions. Nothing supernatural there.

      2. None of the writings about Socrates are trying to convert anyone to a religion.

      3. Nobody is suggesting that every word that Plato wrote about Socrates is literally true and without error.

      4. And this is the most important point. If it turned out that Socrates were just a fictional character, it would make zero difference to my life. None. And probably zero difference to the lives of most of the people on earth.

      Nobody is trying to convert me to the Socrates religion, or telling me I’m a bad person if I don’t dedicate my life to him. Nobody raises their children with an indoctrination that you have to obey the leaders of the Socrates fan club without question, or give them 10% of your money, or vote the way they tell you to. Nobody knocks on my door wearing hemlock necklaces and handing me a copy of the Euthyphro, and telling me to read it every day and live my life by it. The question of whether he was real or not just isn’t that important.

      A better comparison would be somebody like Krishna. What standard of evidence would you require to believe the Krishna existed and did all the things his followers say he did? How much evidence would it take for you to dump christianity and join ISKCON instead? I hope that your evaluation of their religious claims and propaganda would be very tough and critical, as it should be. Why should my evaluation of your religion be any less tough and critical than that?

      Liked by 3 people

    4. Lee,

      An unsubstantiated claim by itself does not constitute evidence. Otherwise, we’d be obliged to accept every claim made at face value. And experience informs us that not all claims are accurate or honest. Thus, a claim must be accompanied by empirical evidence before it can be deemed factual. Absent that, there is simply no way of knowing whether or not the thing being claimed has any validity.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. If there is not absolute proof of Jesus’s resurrection then why do you believe in it, or even bother being Christian? Most modern day scholars don’t consider the Gospels (which you are alluding to here), to be solid evidence. It really doesn’t help that they contradict each other either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LIBERATED: If there is not absolute proof of Jesus’s resurrection then why do you believe in it, or even bother being Christian? Most modern day scholars don’t consider the Gospels (which you are alluding to here), to be solid evidence. It really doesn’t help that they contradict each other either.

      LEE: First of all, only radical scholars like the former Jesus Seminar Fellows (a decided minority of mostly North American skeptics, with an agenda to “deconstruct” the Jesus of faith) would totally disregard the NT like that.

      Secondly, there isn’t “absolute proof” for most of the recorded events of history. For example, the Lincoln assassination was a one-off historical occurrence 155 years ago, which can’t be repeated, thus can’t be falsified. Yet you believe it happened substantially as we were taught (and so do I).

      The truth is that ordinary people live their whole lives believing a lot of things on faith, devoid of “absolute proof.” For example, when your doctor prescribes treatment for you, you take it on faith that he/she knows what they’re doing and won’t harm you.

      Or when your spouse brings you a cup of tea, you drink it on the faith that they haven’t put poison in it.

      None of these things are based on blind faith: your experience with your physician causes you to trust him/her, as does your years of marriage to your spouse.

      Well, believing the Bible doesn’t require blind faith either. The Bible has a lot to say about using your mind to think critically.

      So, I believe lots of things that cannot be proven. For example, I see no reason to rule out the existence of the supernatural just because I can’t empirically “prove” it. I can’t empirically prove lots of things I take for granted, such as the fact that my mind is real and I exist as a rational, conscious being. I take for granted that what I experience as “reality” is real and that I’m not plugged into the Matrix unconsciously waiting for Neot, Trinity, and Morpheus to save me.

      Why do I believe specifically in Jesus’ resurrection? Because after studying it for 30 years, reading over 250 books by atheist academics, skeptic academics, Christian academics, etc. I cannot explain what happened other than that he really was bodily resurrected. Believing any of the counter-explanations (too dark to see, thus wrong tomb, stolen body, mass-hallucination,etc.) takes more faith than does simply believing the gospel accounts. In this case I believe the simplest solution is the correct one.

      Then there’s the undeniable positive impact that the religion based on Jesus’ resurrection has made on the world, esp. Western civilization. Imagine what Western civilization would be like if one of the Greco-Roman or Germanic pagan cults had won the day and become the religion of Europe. Much of what we take for granted today in the West wouldn’t exist: for example we wouldn’t have the belief that all men are created equal; we wouldn’t have equal rights for women; or slaves; or non-Romans; we’d have trials by combat rather than trials by a jury of our peers; we wouldn’t be presumed innocent until proven guilty; we wouldn’t have freedom of speech; or of religion; or of assembly. We wouldn’t have state-sponsored universities (the university was a Christian invention of the Middle Ages); we wouldn’t have much of our art or architecture, or music, or medicine or science–the medieval Church was the main sponsor of scientific research for 1200 years.

      Only with God or a god do you get a Moral Law to tell you that things like slavery, racism and the holocaust are objectively morally wrong. and of course without God or a god natural human rights are nothing but a nice thought, with no real objective existence: what the state or society gives (rights), the state or society can take way (just ask the Jews and other persecuted minorities in Nazi Germany or African-Americans under slavery, Jim Crow and segregation).

      Pax.

      Lee.

      Like

      1. Firstly, with all due respect, you don’t half run on trying to prove your point. Try shorter, snappier replies, readers are less likely to nod off or go make a cuppa.
        LEE: Then there’s the undeniable positive impact that the religion based on Jesus’ resurrection has made on the world,
        ME: Always look on the bright side of life! Just don’t mention the Crusades (1095-1492)
        LEE: Only with God or a god do you get a Moral Law to tell you that things like slavery, racism and the holocaust are objectively morally wrong. and of course without God or a god natural human rights are nothing but a nice thought, with no real objective existence:
        ME: Are you serious? Really?

        Liked by 5 people

        1. ARK: It does not fit the dictionary criteria that you and I agreed upon, which is why your mate, Joel is still whining on about ”WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE.”
          So you can stop with the weasling, it is wasted on me.
          All you are doing is spewing second hand apologetics and boring the crap out of everyone.

          LEE: It isn’t “second hand apologetics” it’s the accepted definition for “evidence” that is taken for granted by professional historians. A WRITTEN SOURCE constitutes evidence. Thus, we have a first-century AD written text, dated to ca. AD 90 which claims Jesus of Nazareth miraculously raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. Absent that first-century AD text we wouldn’t even know about that episode. Sure, I wish there were multiple independent sources for that event nevertheless what we have in John constitutes EVIDENCE–the ONLY EVIDENCE for this alleged miracle. It is irrelevant or not whether you or anyone else likes it or considers it valid evidence, it’s still evidence.

          The Collins online dictionary defines “evidence” as:

          “Evidence is anything that you see, experience, read, or are told that causes you to believe that something is true or has really happened.”

          I have John chapter 11 which tells me about Lazarus’ being raised from the dead. Again, it isn’t CONCLUSIVE PROOF but it IS EVIDENCE. I have other reasons for accepting John’s account as valid, nevertheless John 11 is evidence.

          You simply object because the reference happens to be to a supposed miracle. If it was any other non-miraculous historical event for which only one piece of evidence existed you wouldn’t be trying to redefine the terms, You’re the one trying to redefine what constitutes “evidence.”

          It frustrates believers when skeptics like yourself try to move the goal-posts and redefine commonly accepted terms simply because you don’t like them. Well, I’m sorry, but in the grown-up world people realize they’re bound by the rules.

          Pax.

          Lee.

          Like

          1. Meh, that was tame. Here’s a more unvarnished response to the claim “It is true because it is written in my holy book”

            (Warning: contains lyrics with British accents.)

            Liked by 3 people

        2. blhphotoblog: ME: Always look on the bright side of life! Just don’t mention the Crusades (1095-1492)

          Lee: I expected that would come up eventually. That’s one example from over 5,000 years of recorded history. Besides, the Crusades were a response to 500 years of Muslim aggression, thus didn’t occur in a historical vacuum.

          I think if you tally up the number of casualties racked up by atheistic regimes like the Soviets, Nazis, Chinese, etc. you’ll find the numbers far exceed anything wrought by organized religion, including Christianity.

          blhphotoblog: Are you serious? Really?

          LEE: Deadly serious. Without God or a god there are no “natural human rights.”

          Pax.

          Lee.

          Like

          1. Yes the Crusades was just ONE example of people being slaughtered by those following the christian religion.
            LEE: I think if you tally up the number of casualties racked up by atheistic regimes like the Soviets, Nazis, Chinese, etc. you’ll find the numbers far exceed anything wrought by organized religion, including Christianity.
            ME: It’s not some sort of blame game. Why do you consider it perfectly ok for christian led countries to declare war on, and massacre, others of different beliefs or none at all? Not everyone in this world follows your religion so why are muslims wrong or hindus or buddhists or whoever?
            LEE: Deadly serious. Without God or a god there are no “natural human rights.”
            ME: Sorry to be blunt but what a complete load of absolute bollocks!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I never realised it was about point-scoring.
            Where does the genocide of the human race by Yahweh fit into the scheme of things, Lee?

            Liked by 2 people

      2. OK your comments are waaaaay too long. We don’t need a million examples or analogies here, and I’ll try and make my comment as brief (but to the point) as possible.

        Most modern scholars consider the NT material to be ancient biographies (not to be confused with ‘biography’). For the scholars who believe that Jesus exists, they can’t even agree on most of the details of his life, except that he was baptised by John the Baptist and executed for… something. There are too many unknowns and there is a big leap between saying that and saying he was resurrected.

        OK let’s not use the word ‘proof’ then, since it seems pointless in this context, and use ‘evidence’ instead, As to your comment on “Why do I believe specifically in Jesus’ resurrection?”. Again you are making big assumptions here that the Bible is true because you are making your assumptions about Jesus off it. My (and other peoples point) here is that the Bible isn’t good evidence on its own, so there could be a million other possibilities using your reasoning – a resurrected Jesus certainly isn’t the simplest one. If I were to interpret what the scholars have to say about Jesus, a resurrected Jesus certainly isn’t a simple explanation! But you believe what you want.

        Throughout history Christianity has done far more bad than good to this world. You talk about human rights, slavery and racism. The Christian church has a lot to answer for as they basically trampled on human rights of minorities and encouraged/enabled slavery and racism. But hey, God is a good God. Oh yeah, these good Christians were following their Bible too.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is all just amusingly fascinating. It is all really simple.

    My basic question is this: “What sort of things does one consider ‘evidence’ when assessing ANY KIND of historical claim?” Lee brought up Socrates. You can use an example of ANY historical claim. Why do you believe Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon? ANYTHING. If you are honest, you will reply, “I believe those historical claims because of certain historical documents that tell about them.” Basically, you believe in the veracity of certain historical texts. Those historical texts are the evidence.

    Historians and scholars will further tell you that there is general criteria they use to determine the reliability of a text. That lends to the credibility.

    Ark, and most of you here, obviously do not believe the historical claims in the Gospels regarding the raising of Lazarus or the resurrection of Jesus. Okay, fine. What you CANNOT say is, “There is no evidence for those events.” What you CAN say is, “I do not find the evidence for those events to be convincing.”

    Even though those texts meet the criteria historians and scholars use to assess the reliability of ancient texts, you still don’t believe the claims. Why not? The answer is easy: Because you reject the idea of the existence of God/the supernatural. Okay, fine. That is a rational and legitimate response. It is at least consistent. If you don’t believe in the existence of God/the supernatural, you are not going to be convinced by certain historical claims made in certain ancient texts, even if those texts match/exceed the criteria for historical reliability.

    But again, you’re just being thick-headed and foolish to continue to say, “What’s your evidence? You have no evidence.”

    You’re welcome.

    Like

    1. Joel, you wrote: If you are honest, you will reply, “I believe those historical claims because of certain historical documents that tell about them.

      Fair enough … which validates why many of us do not believe the “historical claims” made by a certain historical document used to a “prove” a presumed resurrection.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You don’t believe the textual claims/evidence because you come to the texts with a presupposition that denies the supernatural.

        Rational people will, for example, accept the Gospels claims that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. Why do you accept THAT claim in the same text that also speaks of Christ’s resurrection? Because you accept that Rome crucified people, and therefore that claim rings true. The evidence is the text, and you accept the text on that claim.

        But again, you can’t say there is no evidence for the resurrection. You CAN say you don’t find the evidence for that claim convincing.

        Like

        1. No, I CAN say there is no evidence. There. Is. No. Evidence. 🙂

          Further, I do not come to the “texts” with a presupposition (be careful judging me) as I was a believer in the “supernatural” for many years. However, after much reading and a concerted study of Christianity and its history, I discarded that belief.

          I recognize the difficulty for individuals like yourself who are convinced of the validity of the bible to accept that others find its claims less than credible.

          Yet here we are.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. No, you CAN’T say there is no evidence. You CAN say the evidence in question isn’t convincing to you.

            Like

          2. Yes, there is even video taken by military pilates of SOMETHING that is unidentified and flying. Exactly WHAT it is is unknown, but it is evidence of SOMETHING.

            Like

        2. Me: Rocks fall to the ground.
          Me: The rocks in my garden sing Brahms Lullaby at sunset.

          Questions: Do you believe my first claim? How about my second? And if you believe my first claim but not my second, please explain why; because it comes from the same source (me) and the evidence is right there in this very comment.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Indeed! It was meant to highlight the silliness of the religious apologist’s claim that one must accept textual claims as de facto evidence. 🙂

            Like

          2. Again, no. You really need to up your reading comprehension skills. I did not say one has to ACCEPT textual claims as evidence. I specifically said one may not be convinced of it. One can say, “That evidence isnt convincing to me.” But when one has a text that is a historical narrative, that conveys historical information throughout, that text is considered the evidence.

            Like

          3. My reading comprehension is fine. You wrote:

            “The evidence is the text, and you accept the text on that claim.”

            A claim is just a claim; and a claim found within a text is evidence only for a claim within a text. You still need to furnish the supporting evidence to corroborate the claim.

            What empirical evidence supports the claim there was a physical man named Jesus who was crucified in Roman-occupied Jerusalem circa 30 CE? Do you have an execution decree? A death certificate? The bill of sale for the tomb purchased by someone named Joseph of Arimathea?

            Liked by 3 people

          4. Oh, are you one of those who don’t even believe Jesus existed?

            Like

          5. That was not the question Ron asked. Whether he believes the character existed is not germane to the conversation.
            And please don’t make silly assumptions.
            The least you could do is have the courtesy to ask Ron before you behave like a churl.
            After all, you are the scholar among us, not so?

            Liked by 1 person

          6. His comment suggest he doesnt think Jesus existed. Am I right?

            The question is “What constitutes evidence?” I’ve been pretty clear, and it doesn’t seem you all get it.

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          7. I’ll take that as a silent admission that you cannot provide evidence for even the most rudimentary non-supernatural claims found within the text.

            Moreover, your response reveals the insincerity of the question “what evidence will it take to convince you” given that I’ve just provided examples and was mocked for my efforts.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. You don’t understand basic categories and terms. If you refuse to acknowledge basic facts of what’s what, that’s a problem.

            Do you believe Jesus existed?

            Like

          9. No I do not.

            Now it’s your turn to answer my question: what empirical evidence do you have to support any of the claims made within the NT texts?

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          10. Do you consider yourself to be a Jesus mythicist?

            Again, the texts are the evidence. On top of that, there is corroboration regarding Jesus as his movement found in rabbinic writing, Josephus, Tacitis, Pliny, among others.

            Like

          11. He says the Christians meet once a week to sing hymns to Christ.

            Like

          12. So he doesn’t mention Jesus, then? Okay.
            You are aware of the term Chrestus, I presume, yes?

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          13. Chrestus. This was obviously not in reference to the biblical Jesus Christ. Surely , as a scholar you realise this?

            Like

          14. Wanna bet? Claudius kicks all the Jews out of Rome in AD 41 because they are fighting with each other over a Chrestus…that “obviously” is not a reference to Christ?

            Like

          15. Firstly the text says at the instigation of Chrestus.

            I thought Jesus was crucified in the thirties?

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          16. Just a little bit of research will inform you that a whole lot of scholars are convinced this is a reference to Jesus and that Claudius kicked all Jews out of Rome because there was conflict within the Jewish communities over whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. It was still seen as an inter-Jewish controversy.

            But by all means, feel free to go against the positions of the experts.

            Like

          17. Again the text says … at the instigation of a Chrestus.
            Not even Christus, but Chrestus.

            As you have done this little bit of research I am sure you can rattle off a couple of names to support this rather outlandish claim.
            Not Christians, obviously, but secular historians/bible scholars.

            But before you do, please explain if Jesus was crucified in the thirties what the Gehenna was he doing in Rome during the reign of Claudius?

            Like

          18. I consider myself to be an empiricist.

            And the historians you’ve cited were not contemporaneous accounts (Josephus was born in 37 CE. Tacitus in 56 CE. Pliny the Elder in 24 CE. ) so they could not corroborate anything that transpired before their birth.

            Liked by 1 person

          19. Okay, what is the on the ground, contemporaneous evidence for Alexander the Great’s accomplishments? What is the empirical evidence that dates from 320 BC India to prove Alexander was there?

            Like

          20. Why do you accept the “claims” about Alexander when all the writing and texts we have about him come hundreds of years after this supposed “Alexander the Great” lived?

            Like

          21. I accept the claims for Alexander’s existence because there are coins and busts and statues commemorating his existence. What similar evidence do you have for the historical existence of Jesus?

            Liked by 1 person

          22. That’s not evidence! The people who made those coins werent in India! There’s no evidence for that! It is heresay! Alexander is a myth made up by Greeks who suffered cognitive dissonance after being defeated by the Persians! They made it up as a way to inspire nationalistic pride. That is what inspired the Greeks to go out an hellenize the known world. But where is your EVIDENCE from the exact time and place your supposed Alexander was?

            See what I did there? Hyper-skepticism leads to absurdity. That’s what you are doing with the historical Jesus. 99% of Biblical scholars and historians accept the historicity of Jesus. Your position, therefore, literally is unacademic and at odds with the experts.

            Like

          23. No one here (as far as I can ascertain) is denying the possible existence of a 1st century itinerant Jewish preacher crucified for sedition.
            But what evidence can you provide for the character Jesus of Nazareth as depicted in the bible?

            Like

          24. Hey, no one is denying there might have been a general named Alexander, but what evidence can you provide for the “Alexander the Great” character?

            And yes, your friend DID deny that Jesus existed.

            Like

          25. Hmm, I see Ron said he did not believe Jesus existed. Apology.
            He may think you a bit forward you naming me among his friends.
            For the record, and in the interest of honesty, I consider the character Jesus of Nazareth as described in the bible to be a work of narrative fiction.

            Liked by 1 person

          26. Are you saying the coins bearing Alexander the Great’s likeness that are on display at the Numismatic Museum of Athens and being traded on the Internet are all fake? And that the non-Greek historians whose countries were conquered by Alexander and have cities named after him all suffered the same cognitive dissonance as their Greek counterparts? Interesting.

            Liked by 2 people

          27. Hahaha….SMH…
            Do you REALLY think I was being serious?

            Like

          28. Then what was your point? Because the fact remains that there is still ample physical evidence in support of Alexander’s existence even if I reject the tall tales that accompany the historical accounts, whereas the physical evidence for the man described within the NT text is zero. Christian’s can’t even identify the tomb he was supposedly buried in. And we haven’t even touched upon the internal and historical inconsistencies found within those accounts

            Liked by 4 people

          29. Coins, statues, 36 cities were either founded or renamed Alexandria, he filled in the sea separating Tyre from the mainland (a causeway that still exists today), and his general established the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom.

            I could go on…

            Liked by 2 people

          30. A hoax! That’s not evidence! There may have been some anonymous general named Alexander, but the figure of Alexander is clearly a myth, a legend, like Jesus, King Arthur, or Paul Bunyan! Useful to inspire the Greeks to take over the known world, but still, you have no evidence contemporaneous to the exact time and place of this supposed Alexander!

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          31. Coins minted c. 333 – c. 327 BC in Kilikia while Alexander was still alive.

            Of course we also have the Alexander Chronicle, a Babylonian account inscribed on clay tablets and dated to 330 BC recording Alexander the Great’s victory over Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela iand his pursuit of the Persian traitor Bessos, who had murdered Darius III in July 330 BC.

            Inscription dating to c. 330 BC from the city of Priene commemorating Alexander the Great’s dedication of the Temple of Athena Polias.

            Egyptian inscription dating to c. 332 BC with Alexander the Great’s name written in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

            You’re clearly not a very good scholar.

            Liked by 2 people

          32. Coins minted in Kilikia are evidence of Alexander in India??? Where is your eyewitness accounts? All you have is heresay!

            And if you say I’m not a good scholar, thank you. Because I just have been satirically reflecting the same kind of nonsensical thinking and arguments made against the historical Jesus.

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          33. I believe Ron is asking you to provide similar evidence (ie. real evidence) as I have detailed.

            Can you?

            A simple Yes or No will suffice.

            I look forward to reviewing your answer.

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          34. Since Jesus was not a military general or emperor, we’re not going to find minted coins with his name on them.

            But apparently, using your logic, the only people in the ancient world who existed would be kings and generals.

            Again, the NT, first century texts, the references found in Roman histories and Josephus, the sheer reality of a “Jesus movement” dating back to that time–that is the evidence for the historical Jesus.

            No serious scholar disputes there was a historical Jesus. If you deny the historicity of Jesus, you are literally going against expert scholarship and are in denial of basic historical reality.

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          35. Yes, you got me. I cannot provide any minted coins from AD 30 with Jesus’ name on them. Damn, what a fool I’ve been. Lol

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          36. I’m not lambasting you, or mocking you.

            As you appeared to be dancing around Ron’s quite simple question I thought I would draw you out on it… and I did.

            So you don’t have any actual evidence. If you’re OK with that, then fine. Just don’t try and claim you do have evidence when you *know* you don’t.

            (I’m guessing your standards are low because you went to a US bible school for your education… which of course aren’t real academic institutions by global standards)

            And just some friendly advice: don’t try and use Alexander to support your no-evidence position. It really just makes you look utterly stupid, and ignorant.

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          37. The historical biographies–the texts–are the evidence.

            And no, I didnt go to a “Bible school.” Your comment betrays a latent hostility and fervant presuppositionalism that seeks to slander and defame anyone who disagrees with you with a caricature of a Fundie rube.

            Bottom line: if you insist on saying the texts of historical biographies are not evidence, you are a history denier and cannot be taken seriously.

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          38. SMH….you are not a serious person. The Odyssey is mythology, not historical biography.

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          39. You are a moron if you are unable to tell the difference between genres.

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          40. Ahhhh … such Christian love.

            But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

            Liked by 2 people

          41. Hahahaha!
            I dont consider you all my “enemies.” You’re just being stupid and deserve to be called on it! Lol…

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          42. Those 5 points I am are clear as day and irrefutable. Basic acknowledgment of reality and scholarship. Deny them if you want, but know that you are going against academic scholarship. You are to history what flat-earthers are to science. Lol

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          43. Again, the criteria you are using basically means the denial of historicity of any purported person who was not a king or ruler.

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          44. If I may ….
            John 21:25
            There are many more things that Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written.

            I don’t know about you, Joel, but I consider it to be reasonable that one supposedly so famous in his own lifetime would have left something for us to examine?

            Liked by 1 person

          45. (a) you are unable to recognize hyperbole
            (b) you’ve said nothing of consequence

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          46. So this part of the gospel is hyperbole?

            What about the claim regarding 500 (witnesses) of the brethren to the resurrected Jesus?

            Liked by 2 people

          47. Yes, hyperbole, as any clear thinking person can tell.

            No, 500 witnesses is a historical claim, as any clear thinking person can tell.

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          48. No, this is a joke. You tell us you are a phd so you truly cannot be this much of a dickhead and keep a straight face.

            Liked by 2 people

          49. You need to have a special “God-approved” decoder ring to properly interpret the scriptures.

            Some passages are meant to be read as historical biography, some as mythology, some as hyperbole, some as poetry (but sometimes also as prophecy), some as allegory and some (like the zombie walkabout in Matthew 27:52-53) represent apocalyptic imagery.

            The only downside is that God dropped the ball on quality control and released thousands of faulty decoder rings into the market, which is why you’ll find apologists arguing over who has the “correct” interpretation of their divinely-inspired book, and coincidentally, makes a mockery of Paul’s claim that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints”.

            Liked by 4 people

          50. Errrum, as a scholar surely you know of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Papyrus Collection.

            If not, you should look into it. It has numerous 1st century BCE/CE contemporary examples of the papyrus in wide use across the eastern Mediterranean for such mundane purposes as receipts, lists, lease agreements, marriage and divorce documents, and even run-of-the-mill business letters.

            Not exactly kings and generals, huh?

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          51. So, now you’re embarrassed your argument has be shown to be bunk.

            Oh well. Get better arguments and you won’t be made to look like a fool.

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          52. Nope. If you honestly do not know the difference between mythology and historical biography, then yes, you are stupid.

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          53. Again, a moron who doubles down on his ignorance and stupidity.

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          54. Dude, you just keep punching yourself in the face. I can’t watch anymore. It’s like seeing a brain damaged chimp fuck a log over and over, acting all happy while wrecking his dick on a knothole and you wonder, “Why doesn’t he stop?” but he just keeps fucking away.

            Liked by 1 person

          55. See how much more fun this place is?
            Especially as one doesn’t have to put up with certain childish hosts who moderate their blogs all the perishing time?
            I haven’t laughed so much at someone since my Grandad fell off the bus.
            You were well worth the invite! And you brought your own minion with you as well. What a bonus!
            Thank you.

            Liked by 1 person

          56. and so you never had heard of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Papyrus Collection.

            You really need to work on your scholarmenting…

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          57. I just looked you. No idea who you were.

            Regent College/ Trinity Western University are both full blown bible schools.

            I’m guessing no one would accept those ‘creds’ for a Ph.D in the US so you had to go to South Africa.

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          58. And you obviously dont know the difference between a Bible school and a Christian University.

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          59. In the 90’s the US dropped the bar waaaaaay low to assign the word “university” to bible schools… and ‘institutions’ like Trump University.

            The word doesn’t make these outhouses actual universities.

            Liked by 2 people

          60. An example of how the US dropped the standard for ‘institutions’ to use the word “University.” To be accredited. It was done principally so bible schools (who lobby US politicians) could get some tax benefits in the change of status.

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          61. I take back calling you a moron. The term is too kind a description.

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          62. We’re taught to look at the credentials of US ‘scholars’ quite carefully in Aust. because of this. No problems in other western nations where standards remain high, just the US.

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          63. as evidenced by your ridiculous Alexander argument and not even knowing of the myriad examples of everyday records available in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Papyrus Collection.

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          64. @ Joel. For your edification.
            Here is a scholar. Someone who has posh qualifications just like you – but not Christian ones, I’m afraid. I hope this is all right?

            His name is Matthew Ferguson.
            https://infidels.org/library/modern/matthew_ferguson/gospel-genre.html

            This passage is very telling, don’t you agree?

            As someone who studies ancient historical writing in the original Greek and Latin languages, it is clear to me that the Gospels are not historical writing. These texts instead read like ancient novelistic literature.[3] In all but Luke, we do not hear anything about the written sources that the authors consulted, and even the author of Luke does not name them, explain their contents, or discuss how they are relevant as sources

            And this too , by Marion Soards in the New Oxford Annotated Bible

            As such, while Luke mimics some of the conventions of historical writing at the beginning of the gospel, the rest of the narrative reverts into the storytelling typical of the other Gospels.

            Enjoy yourself, and if you have the courage to read it I truly hope you come away having learned something . I did.

            Liked by 2 people

          65. I didn’t ask for coins bearing Jesus’ name and likeness. I asked for physical evidence attesting to his existence. Plus we’re not talking about just any ordinary ruler here — we’re talking about the purported king of kings, the god of gods and the alpha and omega.

            So what does it say about the God’s omnipotence if he cannot successfully convince a 20th century skeptic to at least adopt belief in his own existence?

            Liked by 2 people

          66. We are talking about a first century Jew who had a messianic movement. It is a historical question about a historical figure testified to in first century documents written within a generation of the figure’s life and ministry.

            The fact that you (and others here) continue to muddy the waters by saying things like, “We’re talking about the alpha and omega here!” and “What does it say about God’s omnipotence if he can’t convince me?” just reveals–I’ll just say it–your fundamental dishonesty in this entire thing.

            And I’m not being snarky or mean here. I’m serious. I have tried to consistently bring everything back to bedrock historical questions and criteria–you all are the ones engaging in diversion and emotional appeals.

            Hopefully at some point you can be honest with yourself.

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          67. You seem to forget that it’s a package deal. The same texts you reference to shore up support for the historicity of Jesus also proclaim him to be the incarnation of a divine being. So if that’s true, it’s disingenuous to argue that Jesus lacked the power to leave behind hard evidence of his earthly existence.

            And as I argued in a separate comment somewhere up above, Jesus’ main claim to fame is that he rose from the dead in physical form and stayed undead. So if that’s the case, where in Gehenna is he? And why won’t he reveal himself in physical form to alleviate the doubts of modern day skeptics in like manner as he purportedly did for his own disciples?

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          68. Once again, you are engaging in diversion and emotional appeals. You are completely bypassing the fundamental historical issues, pointing to later theology that developed out from those historical realities, and then using THAT as an excuse to actually do responsible historical inquiry.

            And then you add on the silly and immature argument: “If there really is a God, if Jesus really rose from the dead, then why cant he convince ME In a way I WANT…although I never have articulated exactly what that would be.”

            Get back to the basic historical issues, and address those head on. Stop engaging in diversion and excuses.

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          69. The scholarly consensus is that Paul’s epistles, which are purely theological in nature, preceded the gospels. And by Paul’s own assertion, he only encountered Jesus in a vision on the road to Damascus — not as a physical being. So you are setting the cart before the horse.

            Liked by 1 person

          70. Yes, Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels. No, that does not mean M,M, and L were made up out of whole cloth in the 70s-80s. Every scholar acknowledges they are compilations of earlier source material, which would date them with that first generation of the movement, along with, if not preceding Paul’s letters.

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          71. The point being there is no historical reality to be gleaned from any of the texts because they devote themselves almost entirely to theological concerns and the few spurious mentions of historical figures and geographical places do not grant enough information to firmly establish Jesus as an historical figure. We have zero historical information about any of the authors and no way to assess the credibility of their accounts. Moreover, in his account addressed to “Theophilus” (Greek for “friend of god” — i.e., an honorary title rather than an identifiable name) the author of Luke states that he is relaying what he’s been told by others, which means that it’s not evan a first-hand account of anything he witnessed personally, which makes it entirely hearsay. And once you factor in the conflicting birth, passion and post-resurrection accounts the whole thing fizzles to nothing.

            So once again: what evidence corroborates the claims contained within the texts?

            Liked by 1 person

          72. No. You are just regurgetating really REALLY bad bad arguments that serious scholars reject.

            Your insistence on clinging to them make you not worth talking with anymore.

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          73. Then I’ll end it with this:

            Claims do not constitute evidence.

            Appeals to the consensus of biblical scholars do not constitute evidence (otherwise you would be equally obliged to defer to the consensus of Islamic and Mormon scholars, which I’m fairly certain you are unprepared to do).

            Ridicule and ad hominins do not constitute evidence.

            Bald-faced assertions do not constitute evidence.

            The only thing that constitutes valid evidence is external historical data that corroborates the claims being made — of which you have provided absolutely none.

            Liked by 2 people

          74. Religious texts are evidence . . . of texts containing unsubstantiated claims. And in reality, you don’t even have an intact set of original autographs to consult for reference; just incomplete fragments of copies containing copying errors. Almighty God was not even capable of preserving his most sacred instructions to humanity for posterity.

            Liked by 1 person

          75. @Joel
            The gospel texts are evidence of what? Please be absolutely specific so we can avoid any ambiguity and further misunderstanding.
            Thanks

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          76. In fact, Ron’s arguments are excellent. They are in the main, concise, to the point and stay on topic.
            To date you have not offered a single citation, neither referenced any supporting evidence to back a single claim in this entire discussion.
            Even the most exalted scholars of whatever stripe offer some supporting evidence, or reference a colleagues work, whereas you have offered absolutely nothing .
            In fact, all you continue to do is argue from the basis of:
            To paraphrase: ”Everyone knows that …”
            Which is about as reliable as that other source of unquestionable fact: The Man In The Pub Told Me.

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          77. Well, there is no actual “Q” document. But if you mean something more like “Q material,” then yes.

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          78. Well, the material the Synoptics share that clearly was around before they were written.

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          79. That is a point of view, certainly.
            It’s unfortunate we don’t have any documentary evidence to back this up, eh?

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          80. Amazing how you are always appealing to the experts, except when you don’t–namely the times when the prevailing scholarship goes against your views.

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          81. Whatever…
            You clearly do not value academic scholarship and expertise.

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          82. Of course I do. It simply that you gave the impression there was evidence, that’s all. So Quelle remains a hypothesis, yes?
            .

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          83. Wow…I see a whole bunch of convo has been going on in this thread for the past couple of days. Glad I left. You simply are tiresome, Ark.

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          84. That’s not evidence! That’s like pointing to the Christian era to prove the historicity of Jesus!

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          85. No, that would be evidence of the Christian religion, which was started by Paul… and the “era” only started after Constantine adopted the religion 300 years later.

            Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jew, and died a Jew. The Christian “religion” is evidence of Paul.

            Liked by 4 people

          86. Ark, I have been doing “serious study” as you call it for thirty years, in fact am still doing it even as we speak. In my early 20s I decided I had to decide if my faith could withstand a rigorous intellectual scrutiny. So I initially read atheists such as Bertrand Rusell and skeptics like Archbishop John Spong. Over the past 30 years I’ve read every major atheist and skeptical NT scholar I can.

            Guess what? As of this moment, I’m not even close to “deconverting.” If I ever do come acrosss that kind of persuasive evidence I’ll follow the evidence, but so far, after 30 years my studies have only deeoended my faith.

            Pax.

            Lee.

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          87. Aah! The wonder of the simple mind and the power of religious indoctrination!
            Good for you, Lee.

            BTW, because I want to make sure I don’t make any possible gender faux pas could you please clarify if you are a boy or a girl?
            Thanks,.

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    2. Hello Joel.
      Thanks for turning up.
      By this metric therefore, we can say that the text in a Harry Potter novel that asserts Harry Potter flew around on a broomstick with his friends playing some game called quidditch is also evidence.

      One could concede that the Lazarus tale is evidence that someone wrote a tale about a resurrection, much as one could say the same thing of the resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth, and Harry Potter.
      But as per the Oxford definition if you cannot demonstrate their veracity then as I have maintained from the outset they are nothing but claims, and will remain nothing but claims whether you believe them or not.
      For the record I have not read any book about Harry Potter, but I am aware of the tales – unlike the bible which I have read.

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      1. No, that is a silly and stupid argument. Potter is a fiction novel. And again, this gets to you inability to recognize genre.

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      2. ARK: But the Bible does not meet the criteria as defined by secular historians . . .

        LEE: Yes it does Ark. I’ve posted the criteria academic historians apply to ancient texts like the NT gospels TWICE in two different forums, yet you keep ignoring them.

        Even the skeptics’ favorite wunderkind Bart Ehrman concedes that the gospels do contain come “valuable information about Jesus life and death.”

        Pax.

        Lee

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        1. You pejorative against Ehrman cuts no ice with me, just makes you sound like an arse.
          And stating … some “valuable information about Jesus life and death.” does not meet all the qualifications you listed.
          An Ian Fleming novel contains ”valuable information” about London, MI5 , Aston Martins, and Martinis.

          So, once again, please provide a citation from one such scholar/historian to support your claim.
          Thanks

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    3. @ Joel.
      Why did you use the term ”historical claim” when referring to the tales of Lazarus’ and Jesus’ resurrection

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      1. Because it is a historical claim made within a historical narrative. Again, basic genre recognition and over 20 years in the academic field of Biblical Studies informs me.

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        1. How can one verify the claim when the authors are unknown and nothing of what is contained within the texts is supported by any contemporary evidence?

          After all, it’s known for a fact that the writers of gMatthew and gLuke copied from gMark – sometimes verbatim, and a good case can be made that John may have used all three!
          It’s accepted by most critical scholars that the long ending of gMark is considered an interpolation.(forgery)

          It is also recognised that many of the motifs are simply borrowed (plagiarised) from Jewish scripture.
          In the search for hard-core facts to establish historical veracity none of this gives us any real confidence at all,

          Your information is , of course, underpinned by your faith.
          At least have the intellectual integrity to recognise that faith comes first.
          It is, after all, the primary reason you remain a Christian.

          And I feel reasonably confident I could rustle up the names of several former believers with similar or more impressive qualifications who, given the opportunity, will willingly inform you that you are in error.

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          1. Do you know what “the Gish Gallop” is? You’re engaging in a version of that.

            Again, basic point: the Gospels are ancient historical biographies that pass muster when it comes to traditional historical scholarship in terms of reliability. Therefore, the texts are correctly understood to be evidence that is taken into consideration with other things as well.

            Again, you might not find the Gospel evidence to be convincing—okay, that’s fine. I, and a lot of other scholars do. Whatever.

            But the moment you start spouting nonsense about “how there is no evidence” for the raising of Lazarus or the resurrection of Jesus, you lose all credibility. I cannot take you seriously.

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          2. the Gospels are ancient historical biographies that pass muster when it comes to traditional historical scholarship in terms of reliability.

            Citation please, and NOT from a Christian scholar. Thanks.

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          3. Well, I’m sure you can provide a citation right off the top of your head, surely?
            Don’t tell me you are going to balk at such a straightforward request at this stage.

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          4. You’ve been balking at giving straight answers for almost 2 years.

            Things that determine historical reliability: number of texts, amount of time between the texts and the events, a general reliable picture of the culture and practices of the time in question, etc.

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          5. Again, will you please provide a citation from a scholar and preferably not a Christian. Thanks

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          6. No…it is common knowledge regarding how ancient historical texts are evaluated.

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          7. So, no citation.
            Your credibility is disappearing faster that stale air from a kiddies balloon.

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          8. Okay, bye…you are all boring me. No sense arguing with people who are history deniers.

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          9. I do not accept unsubstantiated claims and especially those of religious texts.
            If you were debating someone of Ehrman’s stature and he asked you for a citation he would expect you to provide one, whether he was aware or not, if only for the benefit of the audience.
            It is considered proper etiquette in such situations.
            If you are refusing to provide even one citation then it simply makes you look foolish at best and ignorant or even a liar at worst.
            Scrivener played a similar card debating Delahunty a while back.
            Almost every comment on Youtube ripped him apart because of his use of the phrase ”hundreds of studies” and did not reference a single one.
            He came across as a Dick.

            Liked by 1 person

          10. They are historical biographies.
            The basic criteria to determine the historical reliability of ancient texts is common knowledge.

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          11. Of what? You want me to rattle of a citation from the top of my head where a scholar says, “If the dating of the writing of a purported historical text is in close proximity to the events in question, that lends to the credibility of the text”?

            Again, that is common knowledge. And again, I am a PhD scholar telling you this. If Ehrman told you that, would you demand he give a citation from a scholar?

            Lol…

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          12. You are a Christian.
            Are you able to see the difficulty I am having with this?

            Please cite a non- Christian source/scholar.

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          13. My being a Christian is irrelvant to the basic criteria historians use to determine the historical reliability of ancient texts. You bringing my being a Christian up is a pathetic diversion and an excuse for you to continue to deny history.

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          14. Irrelevant! Are you kidding? It is crucial

            What is really bothering me is why you simply refuse to provide a citation, whether this is common knowledge or not?
            Are you taking the piss or are you simply unaware of a citation from secular scholars/historians?

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          15. Joel talks about the basic criteria historians use to determine the historical reliability of ancient texts.

            Here is what Wikipedia says about the criteria for “historical reliability”:

            While all four canonical gospels contain some sayings and events which may meet one or more of the five criteria for historical reliability used in biblical studies, the assessment and evaluation of these elements is a matter of ongoing debate. (Emphasis mine)

            IOW, nothing is set in stone.

            Liked by 1 person

          16. What? There are criteria for historical reliabilty? Shocking! Lol

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          17. As is obvious to all but certain individuals partaking in this discussion … you missed (ignored) the point.

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          18. Of xourse there. But the bible does meet them.
            This is the point you seem to not be grasping.
            I feel confident to suggest that any former Christian here (or elsewhere) and especially those who are former professionals, will agree that your position is untenable which is largely based on your indoctrination/faith.

            I’ll invite any former believer here to offer their take.

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          19. A message to all of you three…the reason you deserve derision is because you are hopelessly ignorant.

            From the beginning, I’ve made the following points that scholars and historians agree upon:
            1. In terms of genre, the Gospels are historical biographies
            2. In terms of criteria for historical reliability, they stack up well
            3. For that reason, they (just like many other ancient historical texts) are considered evidence that requires scholars to take it into account
            4. When it comes to specifics loke the raising of Lazarus or the resurrection of Jesus, some find the evidence convincing, while others don’t–THAT IS TOTALLY FINE.
            5. Therefore, if you all were honest and had integrity, you’d concede that the Gospels ARE EVIDENCE, but then just state why you don’t find that evidence convincing.

            In light of that, you all have chosen to scream that the gospels arent evidence and to even state your belief that Jesus didnt exist–and that is utterly laughable, unhistorical, unscholarly, lunatic fringe nonsense.

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          20. 1. In terms of genre, the Gospels are historical biographies

            No citation. Furthermore research shows your assertion to be false.
            The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense of the word. Rather, they are stories told in such a way as to evoke a certain image of Jesus for a particular audience. They’re trying to convey a message about Jesus, about his significance to the audience and thus we we have to think of them as a kind of preaching, as well as story telling. That’s what the gospel, The Good News, is really all about.
            L. Michael White.
            Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin

            2. In terms of criteria for historical reliability, they stack up well.

            Once again False
            While all four canonical gospels contain some sayings and events which may meet one or more of the five criteria for historical reliability used in biblical studies, the assessment and evaluation of these elements is a matter of ongoing debate.
            Wiki.

            3. For that reason, they (just like many other ancient historical texts) are considered evidence that requires scholars to take it into account

            They do take the bible into account. This is why they know they are not reliable history.

            4. When it comes to specifics such as the raising of Lazarus or the resurrection of Jesus, some find the evidence convincing, while others don’t–THAT IS TOTALLY FINE.

            Once again: An unsupported claim ( even if you wish to refer to it as ”evidence”) remains an unsubstantiated claim until it can be verified.

            5. Therefore, if you all were honest and had integrity, you’d concede that the Gospels ARE EVIDENCE, but then just state why you don’t find that evidence convincing.

            Because none of the claims can be verified thus, they remain unsubstantiated claims.
            If you were honest you would afford the same degree of scepticism to your religious texts as you do towards every other religion, and especially those of the Tanakh and the Qu’ran.

            Liked by 1 person

          21. 1. Again, of course they arent MODERN historical biographies. They are ANCIENT historical biographies–historical biographies nonetheless.

            2. Way to use Wikepdia as your authority. The Gospel stack up well. But as with ever academic field, scholars debate. No surprise.

            3. You’ve said nothing.

            4. And we are back to the root of the problem: your refusal to see texts as evidence, which you do in almost every other issue in ancient history. What does that reveal? Presuppositional bias and emotion preventing you from being objective.

            5. You are just clueless.

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          22. Ancient historical biographies do not meet the same standards of criteria as modern biographies – as White points out – they are stories
            The distinction is important.

            Would you prefer I use another source in lieu of the fact you refuse to offer a citation for their reliability? You are aware, I hope that although Wiki can be edited, material on their pages does reference citations.
            You know this yes?

            3. Then cite a scholar that considers they are historically reliable.
            4. I have already stated I am prepared to acknowledge they can be regarded as evidence of a claim but not evidence of what the claim purports.
            ”The gospel says that a character called Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. That’s evidence, that is!”
            ”Is it really? In that case what other evidence have you got to substantiate this claim?”
            ”Well … er, none, really.”
            ”So, basically all you are doing is making a claim based on a text by an unknown author in a book of dubious origin.”
            ”Well …yeah. But, come on, it’s still evidence, right?”

            5. Thank you. I take that as a compliment coming from a Christian!

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          23. ARK: How can one verify the claim when the authors are unknown . . .

            LEE: Again , Ark scholars have methodologies they use and criteria they apply to historical texts like John’s gospel.They can’t decide ahead of time that since John recounts some supernatural events that that therefore makes all of it totally unreliable. Regarding the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural, when wearing their historians hat, they have to remain officially neutral. Often this doesn’t hapen, however, for example the way the Jesus Seminar fellows began with an agenda they actually boasted about—namely to rescue Jesus from 2,000 years of Chdistian myth and superstition. Unfortinately academic scholars are not immune to prejudice and bias. That’s one reason their work is peer-reviwed.

            Nor can we throw out a given historical text simply becayse its anonymous and may have utilized other historical texts: if we did that, there go many importanant historical texts.

            Pax.

            Lee.

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          24. Thank you. I am aware of the historical method, but it’s cute all the same that you want to try to educate me
            So, in essence, the claims of the gospels cannot be verified.
            Therefore, how do you arrive at the conclusion they are:
            a) Regarded as evidence, ( and not merely claims)
            b) Historically reliable. (when this is not the case)

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  11. You guys can keep pretending it isn’t evidence if you like but just saying that won’t make it true, anymore than my calling my microwave a TV will make it a TV. That really *would* be a miracle.

    You guys just don’t seem to understand how academic historians assess evidence. Until you do we’re going to be talking past each other.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nan, I’m not the one who has buried my head in the sand. The four gospel accounts constitute evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus whether you like it or not. Just as the two written texts by Plato and Xenonophon are evidence for the deatn of Socrates by poison. Any written account of an alleged event, whatever it may be, whether the resurrection ofJesus or the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, constitutes evidence. It may or may not be credible evidence, but then as I posted below, academic historians have criteria they apply to such evidence to evaluate such claims.

        This is History 101, not advanced historiography. If we were talking about what Jesus had for dinner rather than the resurrection you wouldn’t quibble with calling a gospel account of one of his meals evidence, but because it’s regarding his ressurrection and you’re so biased towards your atheism you can’t see that it plainly is evidence.

        You can continue to swallow the blue pills believing they’re actually red pills if you like. I obviously can’t make you see. Just don’t expect Neot to save you from the Matrix.

        Pax.

        Lee.

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        1. The four gospel accounts constitute evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus whether you like it or not.

          Well cool! By that logic the Odyssey is evidence for Laestrygonians, Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Cyclops!

          Liked by 3 people

    1. @ Lee
      One might concede that it is evidence of a tale, or that someone wrote a tale of a resurrection, but it is not evidence of the act itself as there is no way you can demonstrate its veracity any more than you can demonstrate the veracity of Harry Potter flying ion a broomstick.
      Thus, it remains a claim.

      And this is where you and all who accept the tales in the bible as historically reliable have ditched critical thinking and allowed yourselves to be Bamboozled by Bullshit.

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      1. ARK: Using the heart and the will . . . have caused devout believers to burn witches . . .

        LEE: And no devout, committed atheist ever did anything horrible?

        Umm . . . the early 20th century Eugenecists like the American Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood), the English Francis Gailton and other intellectual liberals of the era, many of whom were atheists, who advocated state-sponsored sterilization of blacks and other minorities, the poor, the mentally handicapled etc., in order to breed a master race of whites?

        Hitler . . . ? I seem to remember that the Nazis loved to talk about the Triump of the Will with regards to the German Volk.

        Stalin . . . ?

        Pol Pot . . . ?

        Castro . . . ?

        Ark, I grew up being taught that Adam and Eve were real people yet I’ve never once had an urge to hijack a commercial jet and fly it into a building.

        Nor for that matter, have most atheists who grew up being taught that morality is situational and relative, rushed to go on crime sprees or builld concentration camps.

        Such arguments are just silly.

        Pax.

        Lee.

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        1. People do all sorts of horrible things, but I am not aware of people doing things solely in the name of atheism.
          You seem to be struggling to understand this concept.
          But a great many people have done such things in the name of Christianity., and some people still do.

          And again, why do you insist on trying to make this a point scoring, tit-for-tat issue?
          All you are doing is demonstrating how heinous these actions, done in defence of your religion truly are.

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          1. Since atheism doesn’t believe in anything transcendent Sanger, Hitler, at.al did it by default.

            But tell me Ark, what criteria can atheism use to determine whether something is “Evil” or not?

            Pax,

            Lee.

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          2. This isn’t the argument so I’d rather not go there for now.
            But at least you acknowledge that atheism is not a worldview.
            That’s a start.

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      2. ARK: One might concede that it is evidence of a tale . . . But it is not evidence of the act itself . . .

        LEE: No, Ark, no. There are CRITERIA that academic scholars use to decide such things! I’ve posted them twice in two different forums. The same criteria academic historians use to examine the accounts of Socrates’ death in Plato and Xenophon.

        We do not just accept the Bible without critical thinking!

        Pax.

        Lee.

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        1. Yes, but the bible does not meet the criteria as defined by secular historians.
          You do understand this I hope?

          We do not just accept the Bible without critical thinking!
          This is because you are indoctrinated into the faith long before you ever get to study the bible.
          And this is why when serious study takes place so many deconvert. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the deconvert rate is quite high from those who attend seminary.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Here are the main criteria academic historians studying the gospels use to assess them. I won’t provide specific examples for each one in the interest of brevity:

    1. Embarrassment: A fact or event that appears to cause embarrassment to the theology of the gospel authors is less likely to have been invented by them than a fact or event that bolsters their theology.

    2. Discontinuity: A fact or event that does not appear to have had any basis in earlier tradition is less likely to have been invented by the gospel authors than an event that may have been predicated in an earlier tradition.

    3. Multiple Attestation: A fact or event that appears to have been preserved down multiple lines of independent tradition is more likely to be true than one that is only preserved down a single line.

    4. Coherence: A fact or event that appears to be consistent with our present understanding of the historical context is more likely to be true than one which appears to be at odds with it.

    5. Rejection and Execution: A fact or event that looks as though it might provide a realistic explanation for the rejection or execution of Jesus is more likely to be true than the more tendentious explanations offered consciously by the gospel authors (e.g. divine providence, the Jews being in league with the devil etc.). (This criterion is less strong as it presumes historicity of the execution to begin with, but given that the execution of Jesus appears to satisfy each of the four previous criteria, it’s based on a fairly solid foundation so far as second-order criteria go.)

    Pax.

    Lee.

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  13. Well, I certainly don’t think it’s ok for people to perpetuate violence in the name of Christ. It’s tragic and heartbreaking. But, for me this actually represents “evidence” of the reality of sin and brokenness in the world. It actually shows a failure to follow Jesus and the consequence of that. But, I don’t feel that it invalidates His claims. I hope that the sin and hypocrisy of others would not provide the excuse for me to “ditch the baby with the bathwater.”. If Christians aren’t about loving and caring for others our words are like brass, “clanging symbols.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Becky … most of the time you seem to offer thoughtful remarks about your faith, but when you throw out stuff like this: the reality of sin and brokenness in the world, one would think you’ve been visiting the holy-roller churches. *GAG*

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ark, I’m tellin ya, if these gentlemen commenting here aren’t making an impact in terms of evidence, there is nothing I’m saying. I’ve never heard anything like it to this depth anyway. But, that’s the problem, it’s not just all a matter of the intellect. Is it? But, of the will and of the heart as well.

    How is the spider doing BTW? Did he/she make it. I was hoping. Can’t say I went as far as praying. 🙂 Although, I had an Episcopal priest once who prayed if she saw deer fallen by the side of the road.

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    1. The point is, it should be about intellect. Intellect and evidence.
      Utilising the the heart and the will – ostensibly feelings have caused devout believers to burn witches, stone people to death, throw homosexuals from roof tops, and fly aircraft into tall buildings.

      That’s why refusal to accept evidence that contradicts the beliefs of your ”heart and will” are the reason we don’t teach kids … or at least we damn well shouldn’t teach them that, Noah and his Ark and Adam and Eve are real. And for the more astute, neither Moses and the Exodus nor the resurrection of the bible characters, Lazarus and Jesus of Nazareth.

      Which particular spider are you referring to, Becky?

      Like

  15. I think what is going on with these radical Islamists runs far deeper than religion. I was part of a support group reaching out to recent refugees and immigrants. The Muslim folks who were part of this group deplored the violence. They knew of other Muslim people actually who were targeted by these extremists themselves. We have to get to the root of what leads people into these actions. I feel like to simply blame it on religious indoctrination is only viewing the surface of things.

    On top of that, simply viewing objective evidence alone doesn’t necessarily make us better. I might as well conclude based on the reflection of evidence, that it is better to destroy my enemies before they are able to get to me or my family rather than to risk caring for them and working toward peace.

    Like

    1. Well done you for skipping over Christians burning witches, stoning and teaching ridiculous Christian nonsense to children.
      Don’t you feel a even a little ashamed of the constant hypocrisy you display?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Ark, I don’t have malevolent motives.

    Of course, there are religious people who are unbalanced and do bad things. So do atheists, sometimes based on their worldview as well.

    We have to look at and evaluate all this. I realize that this is kind of a trite phrase at this point, but for me, it is extremely true. I’m not going to walk away from what I think is true and from following Christ, “ditch the baby with the bathwater” because some religious fanatics a few hundred years ago went off the edge in Salem, or because some Christian parents are teaching bad science to their children. We have to work to correct abuses whenever we can, of course, especially in our personal sphere of influence.

    And, trust me, I’m not afraid to speak up at all.

    Ark, we’re looking at this very differently. What can I say?

    Great news about the spider. I didn’t notice the date on the post, I guess. Heading out hiking for now.

    Like

    1. Of course, there are religious people who are unbalanced and do bad things

      These two things can be mutually exclusive. All religious people are, to varying degrees, unbalanced.

      There is no worldview of atheism.
      Atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods – your god and everyone else’s.
      And nothing else
      You, on the other hand, and billions of other Christians have a worldview that hinges on the unsubstantiated belief that if you do not believe in the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth and all this encompasses you will be going to Hell for eternity.

      We have to work to correct abuses whenever we can, of course, especially in our personal sphere of influence.

      So, shouldn’t you and your kind be working flat out to establish the veracity of the claims you wish to indoctrinate children with?

      Like

  17. blhphotoblog, I’m not trying to “score points” just arguing for a little consistency and common sense. Evil is evil no matter who does it.

    But please tell me what criteria an atheist could even use to decide something is inherently “evil.”

    Because if God or a God doesn’t exist, neither does objective evil. You cannot get objective moral standards absent a God/god who estblishes them.

    If you say morality is a social construct, then what about a person who is simultaneously a member of two different societies, say the UK and Nazi Germanym a German guy born and raised in Sheffield who moves back to Germany in 1933. Which of the two societies dictates his moral code?

    And if you argue that morality is biological, programmed into us by evolution to ensure the survival of the species, I would ask, who decided the species *deserves* to survive? Absent a Moral Law nobody *deserves anything.* And what do you do with the guy who ignores his own bioligical imperative to live by jumping into a raging river to save a drowning victim? How does athestic naturalism explain altruism?

    So it seems to me that the most you can say about the evils of religion is that you, personaly don’t like them–but you can’t call them “Evil,” not in any real, objective sense.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Lee,

      Which moral standards do you consider objective? And why do objective moral standards require a god? Because if God is the author of the moral standard then it becomes subjective to God’s whims and desires, and if it exists apart from God, then God becomes a superfluous actor.

      In regards to your dual-membership question, my moral code in play remains the same: I will not initiate force or violate the autonomy of another individual — regardless of what the governing authorities demand of me..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RON: Which moral standards do you consider objective? And why do objective moral standards require a god?

        LEE: Because for moral standards to truly BE objective, they hafta be BIGGER than human beings. If morality is merely evolutionary, or societal, or situational, that makes it subject to change, meaning, for example, that racism and slavery were morally acceptable in the Southern US in 1850, but perhaps not today.

        You would undoubtedly find racism and slavery morally unacceptable. So what? Who made you the arbiter of morality? But we all *know* those behaviors are wrong, you say. To which I reply, HOW do we know? WHO says? Hitler believed that killing six million Jews and other minorities and dissidents was morally right. The Allies disagreed. But If there’s no higher Moral Standard they could appeal to, then the Allies had no basis for their moral outrage at Hitler. The most they could’ve said then was that they didn’t like what Hitler and the Nazis had done, but they couldn’t call it *evil.* But in fact, the Allied jurists at the Nuremberg Trials *did* appeal to a higher Moral Law which says that it’s objectively morally wrong to plan and then execute the murder of six million people (or even one). Not just unfortunate for the victims, but actually *morally wrong.*

        As for not using force or violating another person’s autonomy, great if that works for you. You say that almost as if that’s the admirable, morally conscious answer any right-thinking human being ought to give. But again, why is it? Absent a higher Moral Law how did you/do you decide that’s the *right* stance to take? Without a Moral Law, an objective standard, there is no “right” stance to take on any moral issue.

        So how would our hypothetical German-American decicde which of the two dominant moral standards he was exposed to is the one he SHOULD choose? If you say he should obviously NOT choose anti-Semitism, yet again, I’d ask, Why? Why is that “obvious?”

        The answer to all of this, as I’ve said, is *because* we have a Moral Law that every human being is accountable to (as human beings with free will they may choose to break that Law, but we still hold them accountable to it when they do) which tells us that anti-Smetism is objectively Wrong.

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        1. You’re right. I do consider every form of human degradation and subjugation (slavery, genocide, rape, murder, etc) morally unacceptable. But as you’ve already mentioned, Hitler and Stalin and Mao along with many others of their ilk, beg to differ. So it’s highly unlikely that objective moral values are intuitively recognizable, because if they were there should be widespread universal agreement as to what they are even if we choose to violate them. (By way of alternate example, no mentally competent individual disputes the fact that jumping into moving traffic increases the risk of severe injury or death even if they choose to take that risk and do so anyway.)

          You state we must therefore appeal to a higher authority and propose that this higher authority be the Hebrew god of the bible. But on what objective basis did you determine God’s moral standards to be superior to those of all the other gods being worshipped, especially in light of the fact that the OT passages inform us this same God wiped out the entire earth in a flood and commanded the Israelites to carry out the very actions you and I both deem immoral. In other words, how would you determine your moral standard giver adheres to objective moral standards unless you already possess the means by which to make such a determination?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ron, if objective moral values don’t exist, or cannot be apprehended the same by everyone, why do we hold people like the Nazis accountable for genocide?

            As far as I’m aware, not one Nazi at Nuremberg even tried to use being unaware that genocide was wrong as a defense. Why? Because they all knew as well as ths Allied prosecutors they were guilty.

            As CS Lewis observed, ordinary people unconciously appeal to the Moral Law everyday. For example, if someone steals your seat on a bus, and you say “That’s not fair!, that’s my seat!” The other guy never says, “To heck with your standard of right and fairness, I’m keeping this seat.” No, what he’ll try to do is rationalize how he was there first, or he didn’t know anyone was sitting there, etc.

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          2. Lee,

            Why do we hold the Nazis accountable for genocide? For the exact same reason that the U.S. is not held accountable for the nuclear bombings of Japan or all of its other foreign incursions across the globe: Might makes right and the victors get to mete out the punishment while conveniently overlooking (or justifying) their own atrocities. Had it gone the other way it’s almost certain that those Nazi officials would have received medals of honor for fulfilling their patriotic duty to the Third Reich, and the allied generals would have been tried (even if in absentia) for war crimes committed against Germany and Japan.

            As to admission of guilt: if I remember correctly, many escaped to the Americas (some even worked for the U.S. government), some recanted, and the rest protested that they did nothing wrong because they were “just following orders” from higher ups.

            Which highlights another problem: we have been conditioned to view obedience to authority as a moral virtue. Over and over we’re taught that those who obey authority get rewarded, while those who disobey get punished. Small wonder then that people abandon their own moral code when pressed to do so by those who exercise control. In fact, the Milgram and Stanford University psychological experiments revealed that test subjects became outright monsters upon being advised that all moral culpability for their actions would be vested in the authority figure making the request to inflict pain. As Dr. Milgram observed:

            “With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who are in everyday life responsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter’s definition of the situation, into performing harsh acts. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.”

            Nor is this a uniquely American phenomena. An Israeli study found that religious in-group preferences of participants excused atrocities they would otherwise consider immoral if the roles were reversed:

            Israeli psychologist George Tamarin looked at how Israeli children reacted to a passage from the Bible about Joshua and the battle of Jericho, something that would be described today as a massacre.

            When over a thousand Israeli schoolchildren were asked whether they totally approved, partially approved, or totally disapproved of what the Bible says Joshua and the Israelites had done in taking over the city of Jericho and slaughtering its inhabitants, 66% totally approved and 26% totally disapproved. When asked to explain their thinking, they gave religious justifications, including statements about the danger of learning bad ways from others of a different religion. (And some of those who disapproved did so on the grounds that property was lost as well as lives, and that property could have been put to good use by the Israelites.)

            When a smaller control group was given the same story, but with the names and places changed so that it was about a fictitious general who lived in China 3,000 years ago, only 7% totally approved and 75% disapproved. This was a striking and discouraging instance of the influence of religious prejudice on the moral sense of children.

            Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20130823223114/http://www.corkpsc.org/db.php?aid=85301

            “Their morals, their code; it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. You’ll see- I’ll show you. When the chips are down these, uh, these civilized people? They’ll eat each other.”― The Joker, “The Dark Knight”

            Like

          3. Ron, as for the moral values of other cultures/other religions, if you look at them carefully you’ll see a great deal of basic agreement across the centuries and across cultures.

            It’s no accident that every culture on record honors bravery and not cowardice, honesty onsteD of lying and cheating. Most cultures would have no trouble espousing eight of the Judeao-Christian Ten Comandments.

            Geanted, one culture might restrict a man to only having one wife, while another might allow multiple wives, but both would insist that a man cannot simply have any woman he wants any time he wants.

            There’s a reason every culture in the world punishes crimes such as premeditated murder, rape, child molesting, etc.

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          4. Lee,

            I agree that there is a certain degree of overlap in moral codes across cultures. But why does this require a moral law-giver? Because morality is basically just a mutually-agreed-upon code of conduct between two of more individuals; and sometimes that code of conduct is dependent upon circumstances.

            For example, as a general rule it makes intuitive sense not to go around punching people in the head because we wouldn’t want that done to us. But if you put two willing participants in a ring and offer them money to punch each other in the face, it becomes morally permissible. Why? Because they’ve granted consent. So one cannot proclaim that it is always objectively wrong to punch people in the head, because sometimes the people involved have agreed to cause one another harm.

            Of the 10 commandments, I can only think of two that might be universal: theft and murder; and the prohibitions for those most often apply only to members within the same tribe. The rape, murder and pillaging of other tribes is usually actively endorsed (even in the OT) unless they’ve entered into some sort of treaty. And marriage customs and sexual mores are all over the map (even amongst Christian denominations), so there’s absolutely no agreement there other than perhaps a few basics like incest and bestiality.

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  18. All the name calling here has inspired me to say that everyone here who isn’t a Muslim is a poo-poo faced potty head and an ignorant anus-mouth because there is NO God but Allah and Mohammad IS His Prophet! Right in the Quran it states, “This book is NOT to be doubted!” I mean, DUH!!! What kinda penis-mouthed ignoramuses can’t CLEARLY see the empirical truth in that statement? Oh, wait, I know! Fungus-faced, infidel, lying christians and godless whore atheists, that’s who!!! Yer all a bunch of smegma scented butt-holes! Ya infidel bastards, ya!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Here’s some REAL truth fer ya, ya poop-poop faced bastards. Quran (9:30): “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!” (Man, I LOVE this name-calling stuff, you dumb-dumbs!)

    Like

  20. Ark, I think I needed to be more nuanced in my comment. It’s true that not all athiests have the same world view. Of course not.

    And, I understand that some folks move through atheism to humanism, but the problem is it feels like an empty room to me. Folks also could just as well become nihilists or materialists, etc. There’s a real subjectivity not well grounded in any type of objective truth in terms of morality.

    Here’s an article to illustrate one very intelligent and thoughtful young women’s questions with it all. She was reared in a secular home coming into Oxford. Perhaps this can better illustrate my concern as I’m struggling to find the right words.

    http://www.veritas.org/oxford-atheism-to-jesus/

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    1. Atheism does not have a worldview.
      Atheism is the rejection/lack of belief in gods – your god and every other.

      Christianity on the other hand does have a worldview.
      Do you understand and acknowledge this fact?
      Yes or no?

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I know Nan. We’re having a difficult time connecting in this area. I’m wondering if we’re not conceptualizing things like sin or fallenness in the same way. What do you hear me saying?

    Or do you think that these terms could be triggering to you in some matter as well. How do you conceptualize evil in the world, and for you, Nan, what would be the solution?

    Like

    1. Becky, so much has gone on in this discussion, I have no idea what you’re referring to .. !!?! Rather than clog up Ark’s post any more than it already is, I hope you won’t mind if I pass on your question. Perhaps another time in another place … ??

      Like

      1. Sure, that’s fine, Nan. We’ve definitely been all over the place here. My own head is spinning. Maybe time for a break. 😁

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        1. ARK: Atheism does not have a world view.

          LEE: Atheism *is* a world view. A worldview is basically a lens through which one views the world, therefore both Christianity and atheism are world views.

          Pax.

          Lee.

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          1. I am fed up discussing with a fool such as you.
            You have a dictionary, use the fucking thing.

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  22. Even Prof.Bart D. Ehrman, a self-described agnostic with atheist leanings, the wunderkind of online skeptics for twenty years, believes the Bible is at the very least a set of ancient historical documents which can and should be read as such:

    “. . . but in addition to reading the Bible devotionally there is a value in reading it historically. . . .

    “To be sure, a historical reading can show many of the shortcomings if the Bible . . . But a historical reading can open up entirely new vistas in our understanding of the Bible and it’s multifarious messages. . . .

    “Furthermore, even those of us who do not believe in the Bible can still learn from it. It is a book that deserves to be read and studied, not just as a document of faith but also as a historical record of the thoughts, beliefs, experiences, activities, loves, hates, prejudices and opinions of people who stand at the very foundation of our civilization and culture.”

    Bart D. Ehrman, *Jesus Interrupted*, pp. 282-283.

    Even Prof. Ehrman recognizes the value of the Bible as a collection of ancient historical documents.

    Pax.

    Lee.

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    1. Prof. Ehrman recognizes the value of the Bible as a collection of ancient historical documents.

      Indeed he does. And rightly so.
      However, I did not notice anywhere that Ehrman states the texts are … and this term might throw you off kilter somewhat …. historically reliable.

      Basically, what this term means, Lee is when you read something – such as an ancient text like the gospel – it should contain information that is regarded as reliable history. History that can be checked and verified as being accurate to the highest degree of probability.

      Therefore, if any individual, you or Joel for example, wishes to claim veracity for such texts the onus always falls to the claimant to demonstrate such veracity by providing as much supplementary evidence as possible.
      As archeological artifacts, religious texts, such as the gospels, are evidence of such but unless their content can be substantiated what they purport will remain simply a claim.

      ‘‘Jesus walked on water. We saw him.’’
      ‘’Oh, yeah?’’

      ‘’My friend Lee was abducted by aliens. We saw them.’’
      ‘’Oh, yeah?’’

      One reason why certain people believe the tale of Noah and the Global Flood is because they have been thoroughly indoctrinated to accept false information.
      Rational individuals no longer accept the Genesis tale as factual, simply because the scientific and geological evidence flatly refutes any and all such claims.

      Even the vast majority of Christians no longer accept the Genesis tale of the flood as fact. Because of scientific evidence.
      There’s that term again – evidence

      Let’s look at a specific example from the New Testament.
      If you, as a Christian, wish to make the assertion that the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth resurrected the character, Lazarus to become, once again, a fully functioning human being after he had been dead and buried in a tomb for four days, the onus is on you, the claimant to provide supplementary evidence to support any assertion of historical reliability made by the religious text.
      Simply claiming this was a miracle and someone such as me, a sceptic, has a presuppositional stance against miracles/supernaturalism, does not mean the claim is true or historically reliable.
      And, for the record, merely asserting I have a presuppositional stance against the supernatural doesn’t mean it’s true either.

      That you have been convinced by the words of a religious text, and the fact you are able to convince others, solely on the strength of your powers of persuasion, does not make it true either.

      All you have is a written claim from an unknown writer which is part of a body of religious text known to be riddled with error across almost every known discipline.

      Even if the entirety of the bible might well be a complete fiction this does not necessarily mean that the tale of the raising of Lazarus is not historically reliable, as each claim should be judged on its own merits.

      However, if you insist on claiming the tale is historically reliable, the onus, as always, of providing evidence to establish the veracity of the tale remains with you.

      Like

      1. Where the gospels can be independently historically validated they hold up remarkably well. They accurately record information about real people and places (Galilee, Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Temple Tax, the Jewish Torah, the Pharisees, Jerusalem, etc.) which we know from other ancient historians. That is one reason I’m willing to suspend my disbelief and give them the benefit of the doubt in areas where they cannot be independently corroborated. That and the fact that I don’t have a prior commitment to materialism.

        The fact is that we have many historical accounts from many different eras that are anonymous and cannot be corroborated from other sources; yet nobody applies your kind of paranoid skepticism to any of these texts.

        The reason you don’t accept the Lazarus account has nothing to do with the text’s supposed anonymity or its lack of independent verification and everything to do with its being a report of a miracle. If we were discussing a one-off statement in John with no independent corroboration about what Jesus had for dinner you wouldn’t raise an objection.

        We only have two biased accounts (copied over a thousand years later) for the death of Socrates, neither of which can be independently validated, and yet I don’t see you arguing that both of these cannot be trusted. No, it’s all because John records supernatural events and your atheistic worldview cannot allow for the existence of the miraculous.

        There is no real reason for that kind of prejudice; real historians don’t discount a text simply because it makes certain claims that are impossible to substantiate/verify or which argue for a supetnatural event. They don’t normally start off assuming a text is totally unreliable until it is proved totally reliable. It is only because of our Western Enlightenment presuppositions of the past 250 years that skeptics approach these kinds of texts with such a high degree of preconceived mistrust. And that ONLY because a), they’re Christian texts and b), they make supernatural claims.

        Pax.

        Lee

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        1. The reason you don’t accept the Lazarus account has nothing to do with the text’s supposed anonymity or its lack of independent verification and everything to do with its being a report of a miracle

          Wrong. I don’t accept it because it cannot be substantiated.
          Probably for the same reason you don’t accept Mohammed’s flying horse, or claims of UFO’s

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        2. Lee, the issue is that the mere mention of historical figures and geographic place names is insufficient to establish the validity of the claims because many works of fiction contain similar references.

          For example, James Cameron’s “Titanic” depicted an actual event but the plot and dialogue within the movie was entirely fabricated. Casablanca takes place in Morocco and references the Nazi occupation of France, but there was no actual Rick’s Café there at that time.

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  23. Perhaps it would be even more specific then to say that both Christianity and atheism are an aspect of someone’s worldview. Because humans tend to be ethnocentric, it can be difficult to get inside someone else’s head so to speak, and to deeply understand things from another person’s point of reference.

    One of my anthro profs. at the university argued that since all morality is culturally determined and subjective it is an error and ethnocentric to suppose that a group of indigenous people who expose newborn babies with port wine stains to the elements to die is actually doing anything wrong or immoral because this was found acceptable in their culture. Who gets to determine human worth? Is it intrinsic or subjective, perhaps culturally determined?

    It’s through an experience such as this that I deeply understand the young Oxford student’s struggle first hand in the article that I shared previously.

    In this entire class, I was the only one to argue that this action was morally wrong even in spite of the cultural mores.

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    1. No. You are wrong. Christianity is a worldview.

      I read the article sometime back.
      It has ‘done the rounds.’
      It is drivel and perfectly illustrates how detrimental and destructive belief in supernatural clap trap is.,

      Like

      1. Workdview:

        A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

        A comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint.

        Atheism:

        A philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods.

        Now tell me that atheism isn’t a worldview.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Like

          1. Okay, Ark.

            YOU read THIS properly. I’m done trying to have a civil, rational discussion with you. YOU invited US here and then treated us like children and called us obscene names.

            I won’t be spoken to that way by you or anybody else. My patience after two years has finally run out.

            I hope Dr. Anderson bans you from his blog because you’re arrogant, obnoxious, insulting, in a word toxic.

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          2. Joel did ban me, remember?
            However, his ego got the better of him and he couldn’t resist responding.

            If you still want to insist that atheism is a worldview, please tell all of us here exactly what this worldview encompasses.

            There are a number of atheists reading along and I am sure they are fascinated to read about the worldview their atheism represents and until you showed up, were completely unaware they had.

            So, fire away, hotshot. Let’s see what intellectual prowess over 20 years of study as a Christian has imbued you with.

            We are all agog …..

            Liked by 1 person

  24. I also want to add Ark that ethnocentricism is part of the reason you’re feeling all those who think there is a creator and who pray are delusional rather than simply mistaken.

    Like

  25. It’s been interesting, guys, but I’ve got better things to do than be called a “d***head” by Arkhenaten. If he apologizes and promises to act like grownup instead of a petulant teenager who’s dad won’t give him the keys to the car, maybe I’ll drop by again some time.

    He can google “worldview”for himself.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Oh, no, I especially would like you, with your decades of study experience, to inform us exactly what the atheism worldview is.
      Please include all details, or as many as you are able (that you are aware of.)
      For example, some topics you might consider may include the atheist worldview of science, or abortion, or morality, or cosmogony, etc.

      And I tell you what. I will give you my word if it passes muster of a worldview, you have my word I will apologise.

      Give it a go. Let’s see what you’ve got.

      Like

      1. Neil, a worldview is a set of beliefs and assumptions through which one views the world.

        Atheists generally assume that God or gods do not exist, correct? Furthermore, based on everything I’ve read in this and other forums by atheists, atheists generally hold the space-time universe to be materialistic, naturalistc closed continuum. In other words, matter is all that exists, ever has existed, or ever will exist, right?

        Assuming the above propositions are an accurate description of general atheist thought, I fail to see how it isn’t a world view.

        If you say atheism is merely non-belief in God, I’d say that that statement proves too much. Because a rock doesn’t believe in God, either. “But a rock can’t believe anything” you say, “only a living, rational being capable of forming beliefs can believe in God. Thus atheism is the lack of belief in God by a being which possesses the ability to form beliefs.” To which I’d respond that that is a positive statement, and by making it the atheist is basically committing himself/herself to saying that the external world actually does exist (thus rejecting metaphysical idealism), that other minds exist, that the human mind can form beliefs, and that our cognitive faculties are generally reliable—all of which propositions are hotly debated in philosophy.

        Suddenly, we’ve jumped from what looked like a simple statement of non-belief to a whole host of unproven, contested assumptions.

        Furthermore, if atheism’s claim that “there is no God ” is neither a claim nor a belief, it is meaningless since only claims or beliefs can be true or false.

        So it seems to me that, just like Christianity, atheism, too is built upon a set of presuppositions through which it views/interprets the world. And that, friend, defines a worldview.

        And now, farewell.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Like

        1. Atheists generally assume that God or gods do not exist, correct?

          No, I don’t think that’s correct. The more correct version is that atheists do not assume that gods exist. But that’s not the same as assuming that they don’t exist.

          Furthermore, based on everything I’ve read in this and other forums by atheists, atheists generally hold the space-time universe to be materialistic, naturalistc closed continuum.

          I know some who deny that they are materialists.

          As far as I know, Steve Bannon (the guy who worked for Trump) is an atheist. Do you really think that Bannon has the same worldview as Ark?

          Christianity is based on a shared belief. There is no shared belief that is central to atheism.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. So you’re making a distinction between positive and negative atheism. Okay.

            If negative atheism is simply non-belief in the claim “There is a God,” that still confuses me. Because non-belief, say, in Richard Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t prompt anyone to take any action. For something to cause action it must be a positive actual claim.

            Yet it would seem to me that atheism–even negative atheism–does in fact cause actions, since you, Ark and all of the other atheists (positivists and negativists) in this and dozens of other forums routinely on a daily basis not only defend your atheism, but effectively evagelize and try to argue people like me and Dr. Anderson out of our theism and into atheism. And Dawkins’ atheism has caused him to write books and engage in numerous debates with theists such as his two debates with Oxford mathematician Prof. John Lennox.

            Then there’s the fact that beliefs have consquences, thus being an atheist entails one to explain why human beings possess inalienable human rights when amoebas and ardvarks do not. Sans God or a god there’s no moral order, thus human rights don’t exist. Good and Evil don’t actually exist either, but are simply moral abstractions invented by humans to bring order out of chaos (Thus no behavior, such as racism, is objectively morally wrong.). Thus, it seems to me that atheism is actually a belief because it has real consquences.

            A further characteristic of a belief is that it attracts other beliefs; thus most atheists I’ve encountered, because of their atheism, also believe in materialism and naturalistic evolution. Many are also advocates of scientism.

            Finally, there’s the fact that many atheists self-identify as atheists, which non-believers in Bigfoot, Atlantis and the Flying Spaghetti Monster do not.

            But perhaps I’m missing something?

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          2. Yet it would seem to me that atheism–even negative atheism–does in fact cause actions, since you, Ark and all of the other atheists (positivists and negativists) in this and dozens of other forums routinely on a daily basis not only defend your atheism, but effectively evagelize and try to argue people like me and Dr. Anderson out of our theism and into atheism.

            Ark does that. Dawkins does that. But most atheists don’t do that.

            Sans God or a god there’s no moral order, thus human rights don’t exist.

            American Christians got together and elected Donald Trump as president. Trump is morally bankrupt. Any moral claims of Christianity have been discredited by virtue of the actions of Christians.

            A further characteristic of a belief is that it attracts other beliefs; thus most atheists I’ve encountered, because of their atheism, also believe in materialism and naturalistic evolution. Many are also advocates of scientism.

            I am not a materialist, and I am not an advocate of scientism.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. … but effectively evagelize and try to argue people like me and Dr. Anderson out of our theism

            Bollocks!

            I could not care a damn WHAT you personally believe unless it infringes on me or others, in particular the abuse and indoctrination of kids.
            And in case you wonder, I have never suffered any sort of abuse in this regard, I merely think it is disgusting.
            Yes, I will write how your worldview is revolting and ridiculous.
            Yes I will ridicule Christianity and its proponents – nothing that Joel doesn’t do regarding Ken Ham!
            But contrary to what Neil believes I have never written a post, or as far as I am concerned a comment designed to or with the specific intent of trying to deconvert you, or any Christian, anymore than someone such as Matt Dilahunty does with his particular brand of delivery.

            But perhaps I’m missing something?

            Oh, believe me when I write this, you are missing so much more than you could possibly realize!

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Just as an FYI, I personally am not an “atheist” in the strictest sense. As I explain in my book, I “believe in” a Universal Presence. For a definition of what that encompasses, you will need to read my book. 😈

            Like

    2. @ Lee

      I’m interested why you didn’t get equally affronted after Joel called John Z a ”moron”?

      Does your moral radar go dark temporarily when one of your fellow believers, a Prof and self-proclaimed biblical scholar, insults an atheist?

      Just a minor observation.

      Like

  26. NEIL: But most atheists don’t do this [self-idenify as atheists and/or proselytize].

    LEE: No? Hmmm.

    Forest J. Ackerman; Seth Andrews; Isaac Asimov; Douglas Adams; Kevin Bacon; James Baldwin; JG Ballard; Dan Barker; Dave Barry; Simone de Beauvoir; Gregory Benford; Ophelia Benson; Annie Besant; Albert Camus; Richard Carrier; Greta Christina; Arthur C. Clark; Jerry Coyne; Richard Dawkins; Daniel Dennett; Umberto Eco; Harlan Elliison; George Eliot; Antony Flew (bef. his conv. to deism); Ken Follett; Ricky Gervais; Stephen J. Gould; Daniel Handler; Sam Harris; Harry Harrison; Stephen Hawking; Christopher Hitchens; Franz Kafka; Hugh Laurie; Anton LaVey; Ursula K. Leguin; VI Lenin; Sinclair Lewis; Primo Levi; Jack London; Friedrich Nietzsche; Jack London; HP Lovecraft; Michael Martin; Arthur Miller; Paul Zachary Myers; Thomas Nagel; Michael Newdow; Larry Niven; Camille Paglia; Raj Patel; Steven Pinker; Phillip Pullman; Terry Pratchett; Marcel Proust; Ayn Rand; James Randi; Stan Rice; Bertrand Russell; Jean Paul Sartre; George Bernard Shaw; Michael Shermer; David Silverman; Greydon Square; David Ramsay Steele; Polly Toynbee; Gore Vidal; Kurt Vonnegut; Steven Weinberg; HG Wells; Wrath James White; Edward O. Wilson.

    This is just a small number of celebrity atheists who self-identify as atheists, (Usrula K. Leguin, Ricky Gervais) and/or used their celebrity to speak on behalf of atheism (Ricky Gervais, Hugh Laurie), or wrote books plugging it (Camus, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, Rand, Sartre, White, etc.).

    So it seems to me that for a large number of atheists atheism, IS a belief and a worldview.

    As for Trump, many of my conserative Christian friends didn’t vote for him. Lots of Christians from lots of denominations didn’t vote for him.

    Regardless, just because Christians sometimes act immorally is not evidence against the existence of a Moral Law, any more than speeders on the highway argues against the existence of speed laws.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Would you care to explain why you are misquoting/misrepresenting Neil?

      So it seems to me that for a large number of atheists atheism, IS a belief and a worldview.

      I have no idea which orifice you pulled the notion that these people consider atheism to be a belief and just because you consider it is a worldview means sweet FA.

      Large number? Did you actually bother to count how many atheists were on your list?
      And did you bother to check how many of them are dead?
      So, unless Yahweh is working through them how in Gehenna are they evangelizing you poor bloody believers?
      Furthermore, I imagine the entire list would go completely unnoticed among the Sunday congregation of the average mega Church in Texas.

      So, still waiting for your description of what is the worldview of atheism?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. This is just a small number of celebrity atheists …

      and

      So it seems to me that for a large number of atheists …

      You seem to be saying that a small number is a large number. Check your math.

      Regardless, just because Christians sometimes act immorally is not evidence against the existence of a Moral Law, any more than speeders on the highway argues against the existence of speed laws.

      I don’t doubt the existence of a moral law. It exists, even if only in your imagination. However, we can see that this imaginary law has nothing to do with how morality actually works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Neil, what I meant to say is that I only noted the names of a small handful out of hundreds, even thousands of atheists worldwide who made/make a big deal out of their atheism. Thus contra your original assertion it seems that many atheists, if not indeed most famous atheists (and not a few non-famous ones in all the internet religious forums I’ve been in over the past 20 years) throughout modern history, have gone on the record as atheists, some, liks Ricky Gervais use their celebrity to promote atheism when the opportunuty presents itself, and still others, like Richard Dawkins have actually made second carreers out of promotimg atheism.

        As for objective morality, read some of these famous atheists above; most of them, like Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris admit that objective morality is an illusion without God or a god. As many of them say, evolution has only programmed human beings with a will to survive, not the capacity to recognize truth or act morally. Thus if naturalistic evolution is true, morality is nothing but a human construct, and as we saw with Hitler, what some humans can construct–a moral law–others can deconstruct.

        To use my Nazi analogy again, without an overarching Moral Law to appeal to the Allied jurists at Nuremberg would’ve had no moral basis for prosecuting the Nazis as war criminals. You’re only a war criminal guilty of genocide if there’s a Moral Law you’re accountable to which says genocide is morally wring.

        Really, this is Atheism 101.
        Pax.

        Lee.

        Like

        1. You’re only a war criminal guilty of genocide if there’s a Moral Law you’re accountable to which says genocide is morally wring.

          As atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods, and as you claim your god is the Moral Law, then your last sentence should read: Christianity 101
          After all, by your metric. and according to the Tanakh, your god, Jesus/Yahweh is a genocidal monster.
          And as you have a Christian worldview and worship Jesus you are guilty by association, don’t you think?

          Like

        2. what I meant to say …

          It was clear enough what you meant to say. But your choice of wording seemed to equate “a small number” with “a large number”, so I couldn’t resist making fun of that.

          So you mention a number of atheists that you have heard of. But what about all of the atheists that you have never heard of? They should count, too, when you are making generalizations about atheists. I know lots of people who are atheists that you have never heard of. And I know lots of people that are Christians whom you have never heard of. General statements about atheists have to fit the many that you have not heard of, just as general statements about Christians have to fit the many that you have never heard of. It’s best to be cautious about insisting on making general statements.

          Thus if naturalistic evolution is true, morality is nothing but a human construct, …

          It should be obvious to all that morality is a human construct. You don’t need evolution to persuade you of that. It is something you should be able to recognize just by looking at what happens around the world, or by looking at history.

          You’re only a war criminal guilty of genocide if there’s a Moral Law you’re accountable to which says genocide is morally wring.

          Agreed. But that works even if the moral law is a human construct. All laws are human constructs, as best I can tell. They are, generally speaking, pragmatic constructs intended to serve some purpose. And as long as they serve that purpose well, they can work.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Neil, if the Moral Law is a human construct there is no basis for calling the Holocaust “evil” in any real sense. It may have been unfortunate for the six million Jews and millions of other minorities that Hitler killed, but it wasn’t evil or wrong in any sense that matters.

            Yet the Allies spefically appealed to a higher Moral Law when prosecuting the Nazis.

            But let’s use another analogy. Ark loves to accuse Christians of all sorts of evils. Yet to do so he MUST appeal to the Moral Law, otherwise calling say, the Crusades “evil” is nothing but his opinion. If morality is relative the Crusades were morally right from the Crusaders POV; without an overarching Moral Law to appeal it all boils down to “he said-she said.”

            Sans a higher Moral Law NOBODY’S morality is either “good” or “evil,” it simply “is.” It’s neutral. Yet atheists like Ark both pretend that some actions are inherently evil and others aren’t. If Richard Dawkins and other atheists are right and free will is a myth, and human beings, in Dawkin’s words, simply “dance to our DNA” then morality of any kind is also a myth and a lie we tell ourselves. Yet Dawkins and all of these other atheists pretend as if objective moral standards really exist. Dawkins et. al. thus live contrary to what their naturalistic, atheistic worldview holds to be reality.

            Personally, I don’t wish to espouse a worldview which necessitates my having to lie to myself on a daily basis.

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          2. Neil, if the Moral Law is a human construct there is no basis for calling the Holocaust “evil” in any real sense.

            The traffic laws are clearly human constructs. If you get a ticket for speeding, try explaining to the judge that there is no basis for the traffic citation.

            I don’t think you will get very far with that argument.

            It may have been unfortunate for the six million Jews and millions of other minorities that Hitler killed, but it wasn’t evil or wrong in any sense that matters.

            You are telling us that you are morally bankrupt. It’s just unfortunate for those six million murdered people, but it doesn’t really matter at all. The only thing that matters is what you take your God to have said about it.

            In my book, that makes you a moral monster.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Personally, I don’t wish to espouse a worldview which necessitates my having to lie to myself on a daily basis.

            And yet this is exactly what you do …. Every. Single. Day.

            Like

    3. @Lee

      As for Trump, many of my conserative Christian friends didn’t vote for him. Lots of Christians from lots of denominations didn’t vote for him.

      Out of curiosity, did you vote for him?

      Like

  27. With morality, there has to be baseline, a standard, which everyone everywhere agrees with, is accountable to, and can appeal to when the standard is violated. That’s how the Allies were able to prosecute the Nazis. Notice that as far as I’m aware (it’s been a few years since I read through the Nuremberg trial data), none of the Nazis attempted to argue that since morality is relative thus there’s no Moral Law they could be held accountable to, that they were thus innocent of any wrongdoing. No, what they mostly argued is that they either didn’t know what was going on or were only folliwing orders.

    Think about medicine; in medicine there’s a baseline or standard doctors and patients can appeal to to ensure patients get the proper care. The city and state holds drivers accountable to traffic laws. Courts have rules and procedures to ensure a fair trial. And yet morality is relative? Anyone anywhere can simply make up their own moral code as she goes along to fit her particular circumstances? Remember, this is what the Nazis did.

    And yet none of us really believes that morality is relative. As an example, our secular universities have turned out several generations of moral relativists; yet when one of these moral relativists became CEO of Enron and acted like a moral relativist, we put him in prison.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Once again, you are the one claiming the Moral Law (capitals on purpose) is your god, Yahweh/Jesus.
      Your god has demonstrated through evidence ( your definition once again) that he is a genocidal monster.
      You worship this god, so do you agree with His actions?
      For the record I don’t (even though I don’t believe in your god , the ”evidence” of his deeds) is there for all to see.
      Christianity 101

      Like

  28. Neil, you’re completely missing my point.

    I’m appalled at the Holocaust. In fact, I have a friend whose father was an Austrian Jewish refugee, one of hundreds hidden by Pius XII in the Vatican. His dad’s story is amazing because it had a happy ending.

    My point is that without a Moral Law, as awful as the Holocaust was, I can’t call it “evil” because evil only really exists if God and a Moral Law exist.

    The Nazis said the Holocaust was morally right, based upon the laws they enacted in Nazi Germany . If laws are really nothing but human constructs that means they only derive their ultimate authority from those same humans who create them. Thus humans anywhere can create any laws they want, and laws created by one society (Nazi Germany) are no better or worse than any others (the Allies) because their ultimately authority rests SOLELY with the humans who created them. In other words, under this scenario there’s no objective standard both parties can appeal to in order to ajudicate such issues.

    But because there IS a higher Moral Law which all humans are subject to and g an appeal to, which tells us that genocide is evil, I can and DO call the Holocaust EVIL. And my doing so has nothing to do with how I or anyone else feel about it, bit us based upon that overarching, objective moral standard.

    We don’t hold genocide to be wrong simply because one group of people decided it was/is, but because deep down inside every human being we instinctively KNOW that it’s not just wrong, but EVIL. Where does that instinctive knowledge come from if not God?

    As for the traffic law analogy you’re missing the point there, too.

    The point there is that there IS a standard, a baseline, wth which to hold drivers accountable, which is bigger than the drivers.

    Anyone who thinks truth and morality are relative should use that as their excuse the next time they get stopped for speeding. Just tell the cop who pulls you over, that since truth and morality are relative you’re allowed to speed despite what the speed limit sign says.

    I’m betting you still get a ticket.

    I don’t know now to explain any of this any simpler, I really don’t.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Neil, you’re completely missing my point.

      Actually, I am not. But you are missing my point.

      Perhaps I should clear up one point. When I said “that makes you a moral monster”, I was not intending to say that you are a moral monster. I was just expressing the implication of what you wrote.

      My point is that without a Moral Law, as awful as the Holocaust was, I can’t call it “evil” because evil only really exists if God and a Moral Law exist.

      This is your mistaken assumption. Of course you can call it evil whether or not there is a God

      The Nazis said the Holocaust was morally right, based upon the laws they enacted in Nazi Germany .

      Yes. But they lost the war. And the winner makes the rules.

      If the Nazis had won the war, they would have continued to say that what they did was right. And they would have said that their opponents were evil. And note that the Nazis claimed to be Christians, too.

      That’s just the way the world is. Your assumptions about morality do not fit how it is actually observed to work.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We don’t hold genocide to be wrong simply because one group of people decided it was/is, but because deep down inside every human being we instinctively KNOW that it’s not just wrong, but EVIL. Where does that instinctive knowledge come from if not God?

      Based on your Christian worldview I consider this to be one of the most inciteful comments you have made Lee. You are 100% accurate in this regard.
      And your god is the epitome of the evil you describe and to which so many Christians ascribe – Hitler being one. Martin Luther being another.
      Once again: As you noted where else does this Moral Law come from if not from your god, Jesus (in whichever guises he chooses to represent himself.
      You will be familiar with this verse from the bible I’m sure, yes?

      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

      I added the emphasis for your benefit, Lee.
      Christianity 101.

      Are you still so certain you wish to remain a Christian, Lee?

      Like

  29. NEIL: Yes. But they lost the war. And the winner makes the rules.

    LEE: So the Holocaust is “evil” only because the Allies won the war and said it was evil?

    NEIL: If the Nazis had won the war, they would have continued to say that what they did was right. And they would have said that their opponents were evil.

    LEE: So who’s right, the Nazis or the Allies? If morality is just a human construct, what gave the Allies the “right” to call the Holocaust “evil”? In that case, evil is only in the eyes of the beholder. Can’t you see the moral/ethical corner this paints the atheist into? If atheism is right “evil” is only “evil” depending upon one’s opinion. And yet every atheist I’ve ever met believes the Holocaust was intrinsically EVIL. But if morality is just a human construct you can’t call it intrinsically “wrong” or “evil”.

    NEIL: And note that the Nazis claimed to be Christians, too.

    LEE: I wondered when this old canard would come up. I suppose it’s good to get it out of the way now.

    The Nazis were Christian in name only. Hitler was an atheist who pretended to be a good Catholic when it suited him for political reasons; Hitler was only confirmed a Catholic to please his mother, thereafter routinely ridiculed the Christian Church; executed thousands of Protestant, Catholic and Jehovah’s Witness clergy; never attended mass; contra scripture and canon law lived in open adultery; contra scripture and canon law authorized multiple murders as well as the genocide of an entire race; and finally, contra canon law, died as a suicide. Hardly a “good Catholic” by anyone’s def.!

    If you’ve read much about the Nazis’ “Positive Christianity” you know that the Nazis coopted the liberal wing of the German State Church, the Lutheran Church and “Aryanized” it by removing the Old Testament, any references to Judaism, original sin, grace, and hell. Jesus they turned into a non-Jewish Aryan superman. You couldn’t *be* any less Christian than this!

    In 1937 Martin Bormann decreed that no member of the Christian clergy could be a member of the Nazi Party and it was Bormann who unsuccessfully attempted to close the theology departments in German universities.

    The conservative wing of the German Lutheran Church, the “Confessing Church” (so-called because it, unlike the Nazi Reich Church assented to and confessed all of the historic Lutheran confessions of faith), led by famous theologian Karl Barth in Switzerland, and Pastors like Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany, in 1934 drafted the “Barmen Declaration” which officially repudiated the Nazi Reichskirche. The Confessing Church then went underground and its members participated in the German resistance movement; Niemöller spent eight years in a concentration camp for speaking out against the Nazis and Bonhoeffer was executed in 1945 for his role in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

    Many other high-ranking Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg were decidedly pagan (Hitler secretly ridiculed them, too).

    So, with respect the Nazis were *not* Christians.

    NEIL: That’s just the way the world is. Your assumptions about morality do not fit how it is actually observed to work.

    LEE: “Is” doesn’t equal “ought.” In other words, that may be the way the world *is,* but isn’t the way the world *ought* to be. And deep down inside everybody knows this. Otherwise, why do we talk about justice? What is this yearning we have for “justice” if not an acknowledgment that the world is broken and doesn’t work the way it should.

    Why is humanity the only species on the planet that has a sense of justice? Of “human rights.” Of real Right and real Wrong? Where does that come from if not from a creator?

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Many have disputed -and- supported Hitler’s claim of being a Christian (with corroborating substantiation on each side).

      Yet you seem convinced that the claims of his Christianity was all a sham. The same could be said for all that you offer as substantiation of evidence related to the subject of Ark’s post. N’est pas?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nan, I invite you to fact-check me re Hitler’s Christianity. I’m only human after all, and not infallible.

        However I think you’ll find the evidence for Hitler’s irreligion is pretty clear and irrefutable.

        But I also welcome you to fact-check me re, say the criteria academic historians used to evaluate the four gospels.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Like

    2. Why is humanity the only species on the planet that has a sense of justice? Of “human rights.” Of real Right and real Wrong? Where does that come from if not from a creator?

      Again, more bollocks. The first part of this is utter nonsense and shows how little you know about animal studies.

      Evolution is where it all comes from. And there is real evidence to show this.
      Whereas your continual appeals to a creator merely demonstrates how indoctrinated you are.
      But if you have evidence of the claim, then please, feel free to present it.

      Like

    3. LEE: So the Holocaust is “evil” only because the Allies won the war and said it was evil?

      That seems to trivialize the point. They could not have just said “Tying shoelaces is evil” or “eating grapes is evil”. They had to make a case that could persuade large numbers of people.

      So who’s right, the Nazis or the Allies?

      If the Nazis had won, they might have argued that the fire bombing of Dresden was evil. And perhaps it was. But because the Nazis lost, that did not come up in war crimes trials.

      Can’t you see the moral/ethical corner this paints the atheist into?

      The theist is in the same corner. There is a lot of evil that was apparently commanded by God (in the old testament).

      But if morality is just a human construct you can’t call it intrinsically “wrong” or “evil”.

      “Intrinsic” is just a human construct, too.

      The Nazis were Christian in name only.

      Fair enough. But then Lee Freeman is a Christian in name only. For you to declare other people to be non-Christian because you disagreed with them, seems rather unChristian of you.

      Why is humanity the only species on the planet that has a sense of justice?

      Is it?

      Have you ever discussed this with ants? Or with bees? Or with naked mole rats?

      Liked by 1 person

  30. NEIL: That seems to trivialize the point. They could not have just said “Tying shoelaces is evil” or “eating grapes is evil”. They had to make a case that could persuade large numbers of people.

    LEE: Regardless, at the end of the day the Allies only won the argument because they had better rhetoric, not because they were morally RIGHT. Can you seriously not see this? Without a Moral Law to appeal to it’s all just empty words. He said/she said. Potato/Potahto. Your morality isn’t my morality.

    NEIL: The theist is in the same corner. There is a lot of evil that was apparently commanded by God (in the old testament).

    LEE: If atheism is true you have no basis from which to criticize God. If Objective Moral Standards don’t exist, that more than lets God off the hook! In that case, as I keep saying, “evil” is merely in the eyes of the beholder.

    But at the risk of seeming to dodge the issue, the whole subject of “Old Testament genocide” is much more complicated and not at all black-and-white. Too complicated to go into here. Maybe in another thread?

    NEIL: Intrinsic” is just a human construct, too.

    LEE: Then, again, if that’s the case, “good” and “evil” don’t actually exist. Thus, you cannot object to anyone’s behavior on moral grounds. The best you can do is to say that YOU, personally don’t like what Hitler did, but you CAN’T call it “evil.” You may not be an anti-Semite, but you’ve no Moral High Ground from which to criticize Adolph Hitler’s antisemitism.

    NEIL: Fair enough. But then Lee Freeman is a Christian in name only. For you to declare other people to be non-Christian because you disagreed with them, seems rather unChristian of you.

    LEE: So anybody claiming to be a Christian automatically IS one? Seriously? There aren’t any doctrinal or moral requirements necessary in order to be a Christian? ‘Cause that’s what I was told when I signed up 35 years ago. I wasn’t aware I could make up my own rules.

    Or can anybody just claim to be anything?

    NEIL: Is it?

    Have you ever discussed this with ants? Or with bees? Or with naked mole rats?

    LEE: Really? So if I wished to discuss ideas of justice in Plato’s “Republic” there are ant philosophical societies ready to accommodate me?

    Where’s the justice in the lion eating the gazelle. Or the spider eating the ant? Somebody better lecture these animals and insects on their need for justice.

    Neil, friend, you really to think about much of what you’re saying.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. LEE: Regardless, at the end of the day the Allies only won the argument because they had better rhetoric, not because they were morally RIGHT.

      They won the argument because the people to whom they presented the argument were persuaded that they were morally right.

      Without a Moral Law to appeal to it’s all just empty words.

      Where is this moral law you want to use? I don’t think you can cite such a law. You just imagine that such a law must exist, because your religion persuades you of that.

      However, a moral law can have no effect unless you explicitely know what it says.

      Even if there were a suitable written moral law, the allies could not have won the argument unless they were successful in persuading those to whom they presented the argument. Whether or not there exists such an actual moral law plays no part.

      LEE: If atheism is true you have no basis from which to criticize God.

      I have no idea what it would even mean, to say that atheism is true (or to say that atheism is false). And, by the way, I was not criticizing God — I was criticizing your argument.

      I’ll add that I have no interest in getting into a discussion of old testament genocide, except to point out that it is a problem for your argument.

      LEE: So anybody claiming to be a Christian automatically IS one?

      That seems to be how it works. As I look around, most of the people who consider themselves to be Christian are not even trying to follow the teachings of Jesus.

      Really? So if I wished to discuss ideas of justice in Plato’s “Republic” there are ant philosophical societies ready to accommodate me?

      I don’t know anything about ant philosophy. And I suggest that you don’t either. So your earlier comment about justice was an assertion not based on any knowledge.

      Where’s the justice in the lion eating the gazelle.

      Do you ever eat meat?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. NEIL: They won the argument because the people to whom they presented the argument were persuaded that they were morally right.

        LEE: True, in the sense that Allied jurists based their arguments in legal positivism as articulated by John Austin rather than the Natural or Moral Law as articulated by Aquinas and Blackstone. Legal positivism attempts to separate law from morality, holding that the law is valid simply on the authority of the sovereign.. So in that sense you’re right.

        Nevertheless Justice Jackson, in his opening speech at the trial, utilized natural law to give a moral punch to his opening statements when speaking of the over six million executions at the Nazis’ hands, when he rhetorically asked: “Does it take these men by surprise that murder is treated as a crime?” Notice he didn’t ask: “Does it take these men by surprise that under Allied law murder is treated as a crime?” He simply reminded them that in every society around the world premeditated murder was/is treated as a crime, thus appealing to a shared, universal moral standard.

        So what was Jackson basically admitting? That there’s a REASON international law holds genocide to be a crime, and it has nothing to do with who has the better legal arguments.

        But what if Jackson and the other Allied jurists had NOT been successful in their arguments? What if the judges had just agreed to let the Nazis off with a slap on the wrist (as they in fact did for about 128 of them)?

        NEIL: Where is this moral law you want to use? I don’t think you can cite such a law. You just imagine that such a law must exist, because your religion persuades you of that.

        LEE:: I would believe in a Moral Law whether my faith expressly taught it or not because I have a conscience. Where does our conscience come from?

        And is it simply an accident that every human society we have records for throughout history adheres to the same basic standard of morality? If there is no Natural or Moral Law, how is it that every society in history values bravery, honesty and integrity but not cowardice, lying, cheating and stealing? From a biological, evolutionary standpoint, running away–cowardice–would seem to be the best option to preserving one’s life, yet no society honors cowardice.

        And how do you explain altruism? Why/how does a man set aside his own biological imperative to survive by risking his life to save a drowning victim? And then when interviewed by the media say “It was just the right thing to do.” In biology there is no RIGHT thing to do, just the pragmatic thing to do (running away or not getting involved).

        Or two kinds in a lunch line at school; one kid tries to break in line and the other kid immediately objects “Hey! That’s not fair!” Where does this sense of what’s “fair” come from?

        CS Lewis noted instances of two people quarreling, in which they typically say things like “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?” or “Come on, you promised.”

        Commenting on such episodes Lewis noted that:

        “What interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: ‘To hell with your standard.'”

        Regarding moral relativism Lewis wrote in 1945:

        ”But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter, but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong—in other words, if there is no Law of Nature—what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?

        “It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong.”

        That’s why I believe in a Moral Law or Natural Law.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Like

        1. If I may. So why do you accept the genocide in the bible committed by Yahweh and also of the Israelites as commanded by Yahweh?

          Like

        2. Nevertheless Justice Jackson, in his opening speech at the trial, utilized natural law to give a moral punch to his opening statements when speaking of the over six million executions at the Nazis’ hands, when he rhetorically asked: “Does it take these men by surprise that murder is treated as a crime?”

          He is making the case that those charged were aware that what they did was wrong.

          That does not require natural law. That works just as well with cultural relativism, as long as the people charged are part of the culture that accepts this moral principle.

          NEIL: Where is this moral law you want to use? I don’t think you can cite such a law. You just imagine that such a law must exist, because your religion persuades you of that.

          LEE:: I would believe in a Moral Law whether my faith expressly taught it or not because I have a conscience. Where does our conscience come from?

          In effect, you are admitting that you cannot point to any actual law. So this “Moral Law” is just something that you imagine. But such a moral law would be useless if nobody could point to an actual law.

          And is it simply an accident that every human society we have records for throughout history adheres to the same basic standard of morality?

          No, that isn’t an accident. It is a falsity. And you ought to know that it is false.

          Professionally, I am a mathematician. But if I were a professional philosopher, I would have avoided moral philosophy, because it is a bottomless pit of bad arguments. You have been digging into that bottomless pit, and all you have come up with are bad arguments.

          Why? We don’t have any serious disagreements about actual moral issues, as far as I know. You are coming up with bad moral arguments because you want to use them to argue for your religion.

          I do not attempt to argue you out of your religion. It is your right to believe in whatever gods you choose. And it is my right to choose to not be religious. So maybe you can drop the bad arguments and we can just get along without either of us trying to argue for our religious positions.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Bravo! But isn’t proselytizing supposedly a part of the Great Commission?
            Whether by Missionaries being sent to far flung corners of the globe or on insignificant atheist blogs like this?

            Discussion among adults, no matter how heated, is always worthwhile.
            But without indoctrination of our children would it even be a ”thing”?
            I would venture , no, it probably wouldn’t.

            Like

          2. But isn’t proselytizing supposedly a part of the Great Commission?

            That’s not my problem. I deconverted long ago, so I ignore the great commission.

            Like

          3. That wasn’t exactly the point I was trying to make,
            Lee is desperately trying to justify his religion. Bad arguments are part of this proselytizing, surely?

            Liked by 1 person

          4. NEIL: He is making the case that those charged were aware that what they did was wrong.

            That does not require natural law. That works just as well with cultural relativism, as long as the people charged are part of the culture that accepts this moral principle.

            LEE: Right. “As long as the people charged *are part of the culture that accepts this moral principle*.” But the Nazis DID NOT accept that moral principle. Being good social Darwinists they argued for survival of the fittest, that might made right, thus they (the fittest) could and should determine who was worthy of life (Aryans) and who worthy of death (non-Aryans).

            Yet the Allies held the Nazis to the same moral principle as the rest of humanity. They could ONLY do that if there was/is a Higher Moral Standard bigger than either culture that they could appeal to.

            That’s my whole point: What do you do with two different cultures which espouse radically different moralities? One which sees nothing morally objectionable in genocide, and the other which finds the very idea reprehensible?

            What if earth were conquered by aliens who didn’t share our moral values? What would you say to a group of Visitors who wanted use humans for food? Their law says they can eat lesser species. Ours says they can’t. Who’s law is morally right? If morality is relative, neither is “right” or “wrong.” Survival of the fittest on a galactic scale. Thus the Visitors are probably going to eat us.

            You can only arbitrate questions like that if there’s a Moral Law higher than humans AND Visitors. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that.

            NEIL: In effect, you are admitting that you cannot point to any actual law. So this “Moral Law” is just something that you imagine. But such a moral law would be useless if nobody could point to an actual law.

            LEE: I don’t have to be able to “point to an actual law” like the Law of Relativity for the Moral Law to be real. Its written on the hearts/minds/ consciences of every normal human being.

            NEIL: No, that isn’t an accident. It is a falsity. And you ought to know that it is false.

            LEE: So you’ve discovered a heretofore unknown society/societies which prizes cowardice, lying, cheating and stealing? Please share.

            The fact is that *every* society we have a record of espoused/espouses certain basic, fundamental moral principles which I outlined above. For example, every society on record holds people accountable for certain actions such as premeditated murder, stealing, cheating, running away from battle, etc.

            NEIL: Why? We don’t have any serious disagreements about actual moral issues, as far as I know. You are coming up with bad moral arguments because you want to use them to argue for your religion.

            LEE: We disagree on where morality comes from. If its merely cultural or societal or even biological, that opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of potentially seriously bad consequences, because as I keep saying, what one human or group or culture of humans can call “immoral” or “evil” or “wrong” another can call “moral” “good” or “right.” Without some universal standard all you’d have is different cultures with different moralities, none any better or worse than any other.

            As a mathematician what would you do if somebody seriously tried to argue to you that because truth is relative their truth was that 5×5 was 12? You’d appeal to the law or standard or rules of mathematics which says 5×5 has to equal 25, because certain truths AREN’T relative. That’s what I’m saying about morality. (Of course the statement “All truth is relative” is a truth statement, but in this case a logical fallacy).

            Child molesting is evil regardless of what any one person or any particular culture might say. Everyone knows that without even having to be told because of that Moral Law.

            Yet unlike the Law of Relativity, the Moral Law is the one universal law humans are allowed to break if they choose to, due to our having free will (but which is merely an illusion under materialism).

            NEIL: I do not attempt to argue you out of your religion. It is your right to believe in whatever gods you choose. And it is my right to choose to not be religious. So maybe you can drop the bad arguments and we can just get along without either of us trying to argue for our religious positions.

            LEE: And all I’m asking you to do is think critically about the practical consequences of your atheism, specifically regarding morality. My arguments for a Moral Law have nothing to do with my being a Christian. If I were a Jew or a Muslim I’d still be arguing for the existence of a Moral Law.

            And they aren’t “bad arguments”. Philosophers much smarter than me such as Thomas Aquinas, CS Lewis, JP Moreland, William L. Craig and Peter Kreeft have been making them for thousands of years. The existence of a Moral Law as explained by CS Lewis in *Mere Christianity* is what caused former atheist Dr. Francis Collins (former head of the Human Genome Project, now head of Nat’ lnst of Health) to while a young medical student to embrace theism and ultimately Christianity.

            But if you’d rather not continue the discussion, I’m fine with that.

            Pax.

            Lee.

            Like

          5. Being good social Darwinists they argued for survival of the fittest, that might made right, …

            If they believed that “might makes right”, then it would seem that they should agree with the principle that the winners of the law should set the moral standards for judging them.

            What if earth were conquered by aliens who didn’t share our moral values?

            Are you thinking of what happened at the capitol in Washington, Jan 06.

            They weren’t aliens from outer space, but they were aliens to our system of constitutional government. And they probably believe in your idea of a moral law, but I don’t think that will protect them from being charged with sedition.

            Liked by 1 person

  31. NEIL: I have no idea what it would even mean, to say that atheism is true (or to say that atheism is false). And, by the way, I was not criticizing God — I was criticizing your argument.

    LEE: As I’ve already said a couple of days ago, for many if not most atheists, atheism actually is a belief system because it causes adherents to hold other, corollary beliefs, to write books arguing against God’s existence, to pay for signs on buses in the UK telling people that God probably doesn’t exist, so don’t worry, be happy.

    I have yet to encounter an atheist who says, I personally don’t believe in God or a gods but regarding religion, evolution, morality, etc. I try to keep an open mind. No, every atheist I’ve ever met has tried to convince me that a) God doesn’t exist b) naturalistic Darwinian evolution explains the existence of the universe c) morality is relative. There may be some quiet contemplative atheists out there who are content with simply not believing in God but I haven’t met him/her yet. Otherwise, why all the atheists forums, books, magazines, debates, etc? Why is Ark hell-bent on showing me, Dr. Anderson, and other theists up for a deluded fool? No, every atheist I’ve met was an evangelist for her atheism even if they weren’t consciously aware of it.

    If Morality really is relative there’s no standard by which to criticize any of God’s actions, laws or commandments in the Old Testament, thus the most you can say about the OT genocide is that you don’t personally find it appealing, but so what?

    NEIL: I don’t know anything about ant philosophy. And I suggest that you don’t either. So your earlier comment about justice was an assertion not based on any knowledge.

    LEE: No, I don’t know with 100% certainty; but I can’t say with 100% certainly that Richard Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t really exist somewhere–though I’d be really surprised to meet one somewhere. I’d also be very surprised to discover than ants have a notion of justice, right and wrong. If animals DO possess such an awareness, they have a very poor way way of showing it, what with lions eating gazelles and bears eating salmon.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. The atheist position: No belief in gods -your god or any other is all there is to it.

      The primary reason people such as Dawkins are more strident against religion is because he views it as toxic and in the main, evidence would confirm this position, as so many examples testify.
      If religion were to have a completely neutral position, ie, no proselytizing, then there would likely be little discussion on the matter.
      One or two generations where religion is not indoctrinated into children, overtly or otherwise, and the results speak for themselves. In fact, while outliers exist, most Westernized nations are moving towards secularism.

      When you consider for how long Christianity, for example, held sway, another hundred years or so is paltry.
      Christianity will go the way of so many religions before it and the way you regard Zoroastrianism for example, will likely be how future generations regard Christianity.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Why is Ark hell-bent on showing me, Dr. Anderson, and other theists up for a deluded fool?

      I am sorry to say, but the vast majority of those you interact with on such threads were, unlike me, former Christians. Many were full on fundamentalists, and I am sure they will agree that some of what you write makes them cringe even now, and they will be nodding their heads thinking: ”Geez, was I really like this person?”
      And many will feel obliged to acknowledge that, yes, they were. And some will be acutely embarrassed and maybe even a bit angry, especially if they indoctrinated their own children with this garbage.

      So, Lee, you don’t need any help from me to show up how you and others are ”deluded fool(s)”
      In fact, your very words demonstrate this for all to see, and of this you can be assured.

      Like

  32. NEIL: If they believed that “might makes right”, then it would seem that they should agree with the principle that the winners of the law should set the moral standards for judging them.

    LEE: So this is what morality boils down to? The winner gets to decide what’s “good” and what’s “evil”? I suppose it’s “good” (read fortunate for the Allies here because under this scenario “good” doesn’t actually exist in any real, objective sense) that the Nazis didn’t win, then.

    What if those crazed Republican protesters had succeeded in storming the Capitol, and taken Congress hostage. They’d be the victors in that case and under your scenario would have every right to tell you and the rest of us how to behave. Might makes right, after all. The winners get to choose.

    Do you really want to live in a society in which moral values are decided by the government, or a majority vote or the winners of a political struggle? You might as well decide serious moral issues by tossing a coin or playing “paper, rock, scissors.”

    NEIL: They weren’t aliens from outer space, but they were aliens to our system of constitutional government. And they probably believe in your idea of a moral law, but I don’t think that will protect them from being charged with sedition.

    LEE: And they should be prosecuted, as should Trump if he in any way urged them to do it.

    That still doesn’t invalidate my point. If aliens with a different set of moral values than humans invaded and conquered us, and if morality is subjective and decided by the majority, or the victors, then we’d have no moral basis to protest that our human rights were being violated. In that case, as Locutus of Borg said to Cmdr. Will Riker, “Resistance is futile.”

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. … “might makes right” …

      Please remember that I picked up that phrase by quoting you. It isn’t anything that I have proposed.

      So this is what morality boils down to? The winner gets to decide what’s “good” and what’s “evil”?

      I haven’t proposed that, either. I have merely pointed it out as what often happens. That this often happens seems to not be consistent with your “moral law” idea.

      What if those crazed Republican protesters had succeeded in storming the Capitol, and taken Congress hostage. They’d be the victors in that case and under your scenario would have every right to tell you and the rest of us how to behave.

      It’s not that simple. That would be only a temporary victory. It would not give them control of the whole nation. It’s hard to guess how things would go from there.

      Do you really want to live in a society in which moral values are decided by the government, or a majority vote or the winners of a political struggle?

      None of us gets the choice to live in an ideal utopian society. Instead, we have to find ways of making do with the society that we are in.

      If aliens with a different set of moral values than humans invaded and conquered us, and if morality is subjective and decided by the majority, or the victors, then we’d have no moral basis to protest that our human rights were being violated.

      And if your imagined moral law exists but nobody can actually cite it and nobody agrees to follow it, we would be in exactly the same situation.

      Liked by 2 people

  33. So it would seem then that “morality” is whatever the majority in a given race, culture or society says it is. Theoretically a given culture could one day decide child sacrifice was morally acceptable and if we were members of that culture we would have no choice but to in your words “find ways of making do with the society that we are in”?

    How do social reformers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fit into this scenario? Why don’t they just accept the status quo? Or could it be that the Christian Dr. King also understood the existence of a Moral Law which maintains that there is such a thing as justice? Without a Moral Standard “justice” has no meaning. Thus the Civil Rights Movement was a colossal waste of time in daring to challenge the status quo.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

  34. How do social reformers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fit into this scenario? Why don’t they just accept the status quo?

    Of course King campaigned to change things. As a member of a society, you are also able to campaign to change things. Such campaigning is hard work, and makes enemies. King was assassinated, presumably because of that.

    Or could it be that the Christian Dr. King also understood the existence of a Moral Law which maintains that there is such a thing as justice?

    I do not know whether King believed in a moral law. In any case, a moral law does nothing unless you can point to the actual moral law. As far as I know, King appealed to the part of the declaration of independence (“all men are created equal”) and he appealed to our common experiences as members of a society.

    Without a Moral Standard “justice” has no meaning.

    So you say. But you cannot point to any actual moral standard. Nevertheless, people seem to believe that “justice” has meaning, though they don’t all agree as to what that meaning is. Welcome to reality as we find it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is always the issue, is it not?
      Lack of specifics.
      Your discussion with Lee has run on for several thousand words so far and not once has he offered even a sentence of this Moral Law. Unless I have missed a comment?
      How are we supposed to evaluate this Moral Law we have nothing to even read?
      As Lee is still sulking because I called him a Dickhead (Although it seems fine that his fellow cohort, Joel, labelled John Z a ”moron”) perhaps you could ask Lee for specifics?
      Perhaps a bullet point list of his Top Ten moral laws according to Yahweh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your discussion with Lee has run on for several thousand words so far and not once has he offered even a sentence of this Moral Law.

        That’s exactly right. And that’s why I have been saying that they are imaginary.

        How are we supposed to evaluate this Moral Law we have nothing to even read?

        Quite right. A moral law is useless if we cannot read what it says.

        Like

  35. NEIL: I do not know whether King believed in a moral law. In any case, a moral law does nothing unless you can point to the actual moral law. As far as I know, King appealed to the part of the declaration of independence (“all men are created equal”) and he appealed to our common experiences as members of a society.

    LEE: Based on his being a Southern Baptist pastor and the content of his speeches, I’d say it’s pretty certain that King appealed to the Moral Law repeatedly.

    As for Jefferson’s phrase “all men are created equal,” what is that if not a theistic argument which presupposes a Moral Law? Notice that Jefferson didn’t indicate that society, or the monarch, or biology or a majority endowed all men with equal rights, but their *creator.*

    Rev. Dr. King more than understood that. The Civil Rights Movement only carried the weight it did because of King’s appeal to the Moral Law.

    For example, In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King stated: “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is out of harmony with the moral law.”

    He then asked how one could advocate obeying some laws while breaking others. To which he responded “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws, but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” So Rev. Dr. King clearly differentiates between morality and mere legality. He clearly stressed his first duty to an overarching Natural Law, which held some human laws to be unjust.

    King wasn’t just inventing a new concept. He was drawing upon centuries of Judaeo-Christian tradition from the Judaeo-Christian Bible, to Thomas Aquinas to William Blackstone.

    By the 1700s Natural Law was a staple of British legal theory and made its way to America via the *Commentaries* of British legal scholar William Blackstone. Blackstone’s *Commentaries* became the basis for American jurisprudence and the primary texts for American lawyers and judges.

    Blackstone wrote: “This law of nature . . . is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this . . . “

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. But what Is this Moral Law you are talking about?
      Obviously you are appealing to Yahweh as its source, so then tell us where in the bible details can be found.
      Seriously, how difficult van this be for you?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. LEE: Based on his being a Southern Baptist pastor and the content of his speeches, I’d say it’s pretty certain that King appealed to the Moral Law repeatedly.

      I have lived long enough to learn that it is unwise to be certain about what other people believe.

      I’m inclined to think that our dialog has gone on long enough (or too long). You can have the last word if you so wish.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. One would think (hope) that such a weighty issue as where morality originates would merit a serious, dispassionate discussion in which the atheists in this forum would be willing to think outside their narrow box of atheist/skeptic preconceptions in order to seriously consider another POV.

          But as usual in such forums, no one really wishes to take the time to discuss real evidence; instead all I’ve noted is that the usual pat answers are reasserted so that folks in this forum can simply have their atheism/skepticism reaffirmed.

          If that makes you feel more comfortable, so be it.

          Well, it was interesting if not really surprising.

          I appreciate the chance anyway.

          Pax.

          Lee.

          Like

          1. One would think (hope) that such a weighty issue as where morality originates would merit a serious, dispassionate discussion in which the atheists in this forum would be willing to think outside their narrow box of atheist/skeptic preconceptions in order to seriously consider another POV.

            I am always willing to think outside the box.
            You will have to excuse my somewhat irreverent style I get frustrated when straightforward answers are often not forthcoming.
            So, let’s discuss real evidence. I promise to be as courteous as possible if you promise to provide the straightforward answers I ask for.
            How does this sound?
            In anticipation you will put aside any animosity toward me for now?

            You have mentioned the Ten Commandments. Is this the basis for your claims regarding the Moral Law?
            If so, may I ask how you know the origin of the Ten Commandments?

            Liked by 1 person

      1. NEIL: I have lived long enough to learn that it is unwise to be certain about what other people believe.

        LEE: Agreed. But had you read the rest of my post above you would’ve read a quotation from 1963 in which Rev. Dr. King specifically said the Moral Law stands above the civil law, as well as a quotation from noted British legal scholar William Blackstone saying the same thing 200 years before King.

        Pax.

        Lee.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Out of interest, do either of these gentlemen explain this Moral Law and offer evidence for its source?
          By the way, I’m using capitals once more as you do, thus giving the term a degree of Gravitas.

          Liked by 1 person

  36. As for evidence of that Moral Law, I’ve posted a dozen examples this week alone. But here’s another.

    Prof. NT Wright, building on arguments from CS Lewis’ 1945 *Mere Christianity* describes the human longing for justice, quest for spirituality, hunger for relationships, and delight in beauty as what he calls “echoes of a voice” which point to the Moral Law.

    You want a concrete example? The Ten Commandments. There isn’t a society on earth, past or present which wouldn’t agree with commandments 3-10.

    As I keep asking and you keep evading, how is it that every society on record has valued bravery, honesty, and integrity, rather than cowardice, dishonesty and a lack of integrity?

    Where does altruism come from? What causes a man, at great risk to his own biological imperative for survival, to risk his own life in order to try to save a drowning victim? Could it be his conscience, which tells him trying to save the drowning person is the morally right thing to do? If so, where does the human conscience come from?

    Morality cannot simply be biological. And if its societal, or based on the majority, it’s subject to change across time and cultures. Thus racism might be “wrong” in 2021 New York City or Chicago but not in 1850s New Orleans or Charleston.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. You want a concrete example? The Ten Commandments. There isn’t a society on earth, past or present which wouldn’t agree with commandments 3-10.

      Well, that’s certainly a point of view. However, an argument could be made against such a claim.
      But what is the point of you citing the Ten Commandments, especially in light of the fact you have omitted the first 2?

      As I keep asking and you keep evading, how is it that every society on record has valued bravery, honesty, and integrity, rather than cowardice, dishonesty and a lack of integrity?

      Evolution. It’s all part of it. You would not appreciate me citing studies so I won’t.
      A question I may have forgotten to ask. You do accept evolution I take it?

      Like

  37. Okay, Ark, because I’m leaving your forum I’ll fire one more shot across your bow and hope for once you’ll think seriously about my response.

    As for evidence for the existence of the Moral Law, I have posted several paragraph’s worth over a dozen posts above. But since evidence for a Moral Law won’t fit on a tee-shirt or bumper-sticker you refuse to seriously consider it. Fine. I can lead you to evidence but I can’t make you think critically about it. But I’ll give it one final parting shot.

    Blackstone went into some detail in his works laying the foundation for the Moral Law. Rev. Dr. King however, did not, because a) he was writing in a letter, his famed “Letter from Birmingham,” and b) most of his intended audience (white segregationists and black Civil Rights workers) already took the existence of a Moral Law for granted; King was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of white, church-going Southerners, who because of their Christian faith believed in a Moral Law yet hypocritically did not honor its precepts with regard to Civil Rights.

    As for the 10 commandments, if you’d ever read them you’d note that the first three have to do specifically with Jewish monotheism (only one God, don’t make idols to other gods, don’t take God’s Divine Name in vain), thus would not resonate with a Canaanite Baal devotee, a Hindu or Buddhist; yet the last six or seven are generic moral precepts widely accepted by cultures around the world. Even number 4, if you take out the specific reference to the Hebrew God YHWH, as the reason for a day off from work, would resonate with a wide variety of religions and cultures.

    4. A day of rest from labor on the Sabbath Day because of YHWH’s rest from the act of creating.
    5. Honor your parents
    6. Don’t murder.
    7. Don’t commit adultery.
    8. Don’t steal.
    9. Don’t lie.
    10. Don’t covet your neighbors possessions.

    Thus the basic moral framework of Ancient Israel was essentially no different from other ANE cultures, differing in certain ways–only one God; no idols or representations of God or any other gods–yet in other areas remarkably similar.

    In Romans chapter 2 the apostle Paul stated that non-Jews recognize the existence of a Moral Law when they act appropriately based upon their consciences:

    “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”

    Thus at least six of the 10 Commandments were simply written versions of precepts of the Moral Law shared widely by most cultures in most eras. They don’t have to be written out to be real, to exist, and to have moral authority.

    King and Blackstone were right: civil law derives its ultimate authority from the Moral Law.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. You still did not answer my question. Where do you consider this Moral Law derives from, and what evidence do you have to substantiate any claim of origin other than one that is purely of human origin?

      Is this not the entire crux of your argument and the single most important part of this discussion on Moral Law, and the supposed ‘Law Giver’ I presume you are alluding to?
      I am sure you are aware that the Hammurabi Code pre- dates the
      Ten Commandments?
      And the Code of Ur. Nammu predates Hammurabi by a few centuries.
      In fact, some of the laws regarding slaves for example have certain similarities to the laws supposedly imparted by Yahweh to the Israelites..
      As you mention, as certain cultural practices had similarities across the ANE it would stand to reason some of the laws were similar also, as one culture ”borrowed” from another, as the Israelites did from the Hammurabic Code.

      So what we have are some of the earliest legal codes that could be interpreted as a moral framework or guideline.
      I am, however, only interested in why you choose to capitalise the term Moral Law and (presuming the reason is because you believe there is some other worldly origin) what evidence you have that would lead you to believe this?

      As we are now on ”speaking terms” once more, and before you ride off into the sunset, I’d like to remind you of your comment about how this topic should be discussed in an open-minded fashion.

      Like

  38. ARK, you’re not paying attention.

    Every human being has a Moral Compass inside himself/herself. That Moral Compass is “imprinted” into every human being on earth via their consciences. Some behavior you just *know* deep down inside you is Morally Wrong. Where does your conscience which allows that ability to “know” such things come from? Mere evolution and biology can’t account for ethics and morality (let alone human consciousness but that’s another issue).

    The *reason* the Code of Hummurabi and the Jewish Torah are so similar is *because* of a shared “moral awareness” of that unwritten Moral Law. The reason most cultures have laws or “commandments” very similar to commandments 6-10 of the Jewish Decalogue is, again, because they all share an awareness of that unwritten Moral Law. The Moral Law thus informs the civil law. It can’t be otherwise. Because what one state or culture or society or majority can call “evil”, another can call is “good.” Without a Natural or Moral Law with which to adjudicate, it’s then just “he said/she said.”

    And it would be morally wrong to plan and execute the cold-blooded murder of someone regardless of whether any culture’s legal code criminalized it; but all societies *do* criminalize premeditated murder because of that shared awareness of a Moral Law which tells them that premeditated murder is morally wrong.

    So some things are objectively WRONG even if they’re never emblazoned on a tee-shirt or even legally codified. For example no society would have to criminalize child molestation before it could be considered morally wrong because deep down inside every normal human being *knows instinctively* that it’s wrong.The *reason* societies criminalize such behavior is because humans are already programmed to recognize it as evil.

    I can’t simply it any more than that.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

    1. Every human being has a Moral Compass inside himself/herself. That Moral Compass is “imprinted” into every human being on earth via their consciences.

      On the face of it, I can’t find much if anything wrong with this. As I said before. Evolution. It’s all in there if you care to look, and I’m pretty sure there are books, papers and studies full of evidence to support it.

      Mere evolution and biology can’t account for ethics and morality (let alone human consciousness but that’s another issue).

      Ah, the qualifier. Sorry but yes, you can find all this in evolution. That’s how we evolved. Otherwise we would have very likely wiped ourselves out. And the fact that we didn’t is evidence of evolution and how we applied this morality.

      The *reason* the Code of Hummurabi and the Jewish Torah are so similar is *because* of a shared “moral awareness” of that unwritten Moral Law.

      Correct. I’m good with this. Points to evolution once more. Though it would have been nice if we’d sorted out slavery a bit earlier.

      The Moral Law thus informs the civil law.

      Fair enough. But there’s really no need for the CAPITALS, All such laws are attempts to help us move along and not ”drive on the wrong side of the road” as it were.
      Some work, some don’t. We ditch the ones that don’t and keep and adapt the ones that do. Such as, not owning humans as property, killing witches or stoning homosexuals.
      We evolve. We adapt.

      And it would be morally wrong to plan and execute the cold-blooded murder of someone regardless of whether any culture’s legal code …..etc

      I agree. So how do you regard the commands to commit genocide, as laid out in the bible, for example?

      So some things are objectively WRONG even if they’re never emblazoned on a tee-shirt or even legally codified

      Yes, I can agree to this. Back in the day when we were recent humanoids evolution ensured we became modern man. Nothing was written down in those days but it must have been recognised as essential for our survival. But of course, most such rules are written down these days, in various forms.

      For example no society would have to criminalize child molestation before it could be considered morally wrong because deep down inside every normal human being *knows instinctively* that it’s wrong

      I’m no anthropologist but such child abuse if widespread would ”harm the tribe” , diminish the gene pool. But while the rape and abuse of children no doubt went on it could not have been a norm otherwise we would be looking at the whole ‘Three Thumbs” things associated with too much in-breeding.
      Noah not withstanding, of course.

      As you haven’t mentioned any god here, aside from your mere evolution and biology assertion – which is unfounded – I can’t see where we are at odds?
      You do accept evolution though, yes?

      Like

  39. Oh, and the Moral Law comes from God, in case I didn’t make that plain enough.

    Goodbye Ark. Enjoy your atheism.

    Pax.

    Lee.

    Like

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