Behold the Nation’s Leading Apologists

As a near-perfect corroboration of my assertion, in the previous post, that religion has been pushed straight out of the back seat and into the trunk as a respectable intellectual enterprise, check out the line-up of speakers at a forthcoming apologetics conference in Charlotte, NC this November. Mind you, the conference website bills these folks as the nation’s leading Christian apologists:

This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. James Dobson. Other speakers include Chuck Colson of Breakpoint and Prison Fellowship Ministries; Josh McDowell, radio host, author and evangelist; Lee Strobel, journalist and best-selling author; Dinesh D’Souza, author and former senior policy analyst during the Reagan administration; Dr. David Noebel, worldview expert and founder of Summit Ministries; Del Tackett, leader of Focus On the Family’s “The Truth Project”; Erwin Lutzer, best-selling author and pastor of Chicago’s historic Moody Church; William Dembski, author, scholar, educator and expert on intelligent design and many others.

Quite the rogue’s gallery, wouldn’t you say?

Comments

  1. #1 SLC
    September 22, 2008

    I’m sure that Prof. Heddle will be along to assert that these cretins don’t represent his concept of Christianity.

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    September 22, 2008

    Ow!

    Is it just me, or do other people also find something smile-worthy in the name “apologetics”? It’s like a whole profession is devoted to saying, “We’re sorry, we’re sorry. . . .”

  3. #3 Larry Ayers
    September 22, 2008

    Yeah, Blake, I’ve had the same thought! Come on, G.K. Chesterton — you’ve said you’re sorry already!

    I came up with a variant term for those who think technology and man’s indomitable spirit will eventually come up with solutions for all of the environmental messes we’ve gotten ourselves into: “technopologist”.

    I do get cynical sometimes…

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    September 22, 2008

    From the aforelinked web site:

    Attendees will hear top scholars address a variety of important issues, including the Christian worldview, moral relativism, homosexuality / gay marriage, responding to belief systems that oppose Christianity, moral purity / sexual abstinence, ethical issues, stem cell research, the sanctity of human life, among other relevant issues of the day.

    They certainly don’t seem to have any shame in defining what Real True Christianity is.

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich
    September 22, 2008

    I am curious about what a “worldview expert” might be. Can I earn speaking fees? Or would I be living in a van down by the river?

    Cause I have a worldview. Oh, yes, I have a worldview, just like Dr. David Noebel.

  6. #6 JimV
    September 22, 2008

    It would be interesting to do a set of apologetics for the Greek gods, using arguments parallel to those of Christian apologists. For example, there is some historical evidence for events in The Iliad, just as there is for some biblical events; certain parts of the Greek creation myth might correspond in a metaphoric way to current cosmological theories; others might be explained away as not meant to be taken literally; and so on.

  7. #7 JimV
    September 22, 2008

    I forgot to say I would use the term Apollo-getics for said enterprise.

  8. #8 Sven DiMilo
    September 22, 2008

    Yuz can get paid for having a worldview? How much do I get if I have a Weltanschauung?

    And, because somebody has to say it, Dembski does apologetics ’cause he is sorry.

  9. #9 Paul Murray
    September 22, 2008

    Does God *really* spend his evenings peeking through people’s bedroom windows, checking that they are not doing unauthorised things with their rude bits? If *I* was omniscient, I’d be so totally over the whole sex thing by now. Don’t know what God’s problem is.

  10. #10 Badger3k
    September 23, 2008

    Not only is he a peeping tom, but he has any number of guardian angels who are with you all the time, and if you have any dead relatives, they can peek in on you at any and all times, so think of that the next time you go to the bathroom. Just look up and smile for Grandma!

    And people think that it is comforting to think this way?

    Anyway, since idiots have been worried about black holes caused by the LHC, what about the intellectual black hole that will be created when these morons get together. You have the gamut between corrupt ex-cons to so-called journalists playing dress up as scholars (and more – just to be on the side to cover all bases).

  11. #11 Snark7
    September 23, 2008

    Well… that’s an event were a timely meteorite strike might just nicely half the sum amount of earths overall stupidity and dishonesty.

  12. #12 Thony C.
    September 23, 2008

    I am curious about what a “worldview expert” might be. Can I earn speaking fees? Or would I be living in a van down by the river?

    Mike, you got there before me.

  13. #14 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 23, 2008

    These are good apologists. Not the best, but good.
    No A. Plantinga or Craig, but good. D’Souza, Strobel, McDowell, etc., are decent classic/evidentialists. Would be better if they added RE & Presup.

    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/2008/05/apologetics-taxonomy.html

    Collin

  14. #15 SLC
    September 23, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    Dinesh D’Souza a good apologist? Mr. Brendemuehl is second only to Mr. Jon S as the blogs leading source of unintended amusement.

    James Dobson is a far right wing gay bashing fascist cocksucker. Any conference he is invited to address is tainted with the same brush.

  15. #16 heddle
    September 23, 2008

    SLC,

    James Dobson is a far right wing gay bashing fascist cocksucker. Any conference he is invited to address is tainted with the same brush.

    I am no Dobson fan, and that’s an understatement–but man, what a repulsive, irrational, anti-intellectual comment.

  16. #17 SLC
    September 23, 2008

    Re Heddle

    1. OK, I will admit that the cocksucker accusation was probably an exercise in literary exaggeration, although given the revelations about his pal Ted Haggard, may not be entirely off the wall. However, the other descriptions are accurate and backed up by the good reverends’ own statements over the years.

    2. How about the others? Does Prof. Heddle agree with Collin Brendemuehl, an evolution denier, that Dinesh D’Souza, another evolution denier, is a good apologist (apologist for what?).

  17. #18 SLC
    September 23, 2008

    Incidentally, relative to religious insanity, Ed Brayton has posted the following thread on his blog indicating that Governor Palins’ church is at least as nutty as Senator Obamas’ church. If we are going to hold Senator Obama responsible for the nutty statements of Reverend Wright, then Governor Palin must be held responsible for the nutty statements of the pastor of her former church and the whackjobs he invited to give guest sermons.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/09/palin_and_the_witch_hunter.php#more

  18. #19 heddle
    September 23, 2008

    SLC,

    No I do not. I do not see this as a gathering of first-rate Christian apologists. It is heavily biased toward those who have an unhealthy if not obsessive interest in the culture war. And Dembski does not qualify as a Christian apologist even under the most generous definitions of that term.

  19. #20 Glen Davidson
    September 23, 2008

    William Dembski, author, scholar, educator and expert on intelligent design and many others.

    That’s the one that would make no sense, if he were really interested in giving birth to a new science. Science and religious apologetics are clearly not the same thing.

    Not that it’s anything new, of course, but this totally gives the lie to ID, and to nonsense like Expelled.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  20. #21 michael fugate
    September 23, 2008

    I have read Plantinga and Craig and had running correspondence with Dobson’s people. Plantinga and Craig seem to say “I believe in the Christian god and therefore can ignore science. If you are a philosopher or a theologian, science doesn’t matter much – Plantinga admits he knows nothing about it. Craig cannot accept science because it contradicts his interpretation of the Bible and if his interpretation of the Bible is incorrect then his god doesn’t exist and he won’ get to go to heaven when he dies. He is very afraid of death. Dobson is just a hack – he has a PhD in psychology and even worked at USC, but he has no use for science. His organization should be renamed “Focus on the Rich, White, Republican Family”. He believes in strict gender roles due to miraculous effects of the Y chromosome on individual traits. The Y chromosome with about 0.4% of genomic DNA and 0.1% of protein-coding loci makes two males more similar to each other than a mother is to her son. No wonder all of the speakers are males.

  21. #22 llewelly
    September 23, 2008

    I came up with a variant term for those who think technology and man’s indomitable spirit will eventually come up with solutions for all of the environmental messes we’ve gotten ourselves into: “technopologist”.

    You left out the Free MarketTM .

  22. #23 Blake Stacey
    September 23, 2008

    JimV, I liked your joke so much that I stole it.

  23. #24 Wes
    September 23, 2008

    Dr. David Noebel, worldview expert

    That does it. The term “worldview” has now officially jumped the shark.

  24. #25 JimCH
    September 23, 2008

    Michael Fugate…
    You are, of course, absolutely correct regarding Plantinga & Craig but I assure you Brendemuehl will hear none of it.

  25. #26 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 23, 2008

    michael fugate,

    How much of A. Plantinga have you read? Reformed Epistemology does not ignore science. He has written in the ID field but not (because he knows better) as a biological scientist. Try Warrant and Proper Function and Warranted Christian Belief for a more thorough picture of his work.

    That racist accusation nonsense is so typically divisive. And without foundation. How about the Left’s racists?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-drobny/liberalprogressive-anti_b_24666.html
    Please, return to reality.

    SLC,
    D’Souza does a good job with history.
    Collin Brendemuehl, an evolution denier
    Hmmm. Where do you get that?
    What do you *know* that I believe?
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/2008/08/evolution-questions-part-3.html
    Let’s keep track on what is happening in the *truthful* field of evolution …
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/2008/09/blind-faith-evolution.html

    Enjoy.

  26. #27 Robert O'Brien
    September 24, 2008

    I have read Plantinga and Craig and had running correspondence with Dobson’s people. Plantinga and Craig seem to say “I believe in the Christian god and therefore can ignore science. If you are a philosopher or a theologian, science doesn’t matter much – Plantinga admits he knows nothing about it. Craig cannot accept science because it contradicts his interpretation of the Bible and if his interpretation of the Bible is incorrect then his god doesn’t exist and he won’ get to go to heaven when he dies.

    That, of course, is a misrepresentation of Plantinga and Craig.

  27. #28 michael fugate
    September 24, 2008

    Mr. O’Brien,
    Prove it.

  28. #29 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 24, 2008

    JimCH,

    Would you be willing to read, if you have not already, Beilby’s Naturalism Defeated? and show me where Plantinga is so ignorant or dismissive of “science”? Please. I look forward to a good discussion.
    http://www.amazon.com/Naturalism-Defeated-Plantingas-Evolutionary-Argument/dp/0801487633/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222267079&sr=8-1

    Enjoy.

  29. #30 SLC
    September 24, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    I think that Mr. Brendemuehl is referring to Michael Fugate who is the commentor questioning Dr. Plantingas’ scientific knowledge.

    It would appear that Mr. Brendemuehl, like his mirror opposite Richard Dawkins, is unable to separate methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism, unlike philosophical theists like Ken Miller, Charles Townes, Francis Collins, etc.

  30. #31 386sx
    September 24, 2008

    It would appear that Mr. Brendemuehl, like his mirror opposite Richard Dawkins, is unable to separate methodological naturalism from philosophical naturalism, unlike philosophical theists like Ken Miller, Charles Townes, Francis Collins, etc.

    So what about prayer. How come that isn’t “methodological”. How come they’re not “methodological” theists? Just because it’s too stupid I guess!

  31. #32 michael fugate
    September 24, 2008

    Plantinga thinks since many (most?) people believe in some sort of god, then either this god must exist or our reasoning must be faulty. Either way science is dead. If god exists then naturalism is false and if naturalism is false then reason is not reliable (after all reason is associated with science and science is often wrong). If god doesn’t exist then the human construct of god is a faulty conclusion and once again human reason is not reliable.

    First we know our reasoning is faulty at least some of the time -but we also know that it works well in making predictions of future events. Science is self-correcting and works much of the time. We don’t abandon reason because it sometimes makes faulty conclusions – which is what Plantinga wants us to do. I also think Plantinga would claim that belief in a god is a matter of faith not reason – or in other words – reason doesn’t lead one to a god. Belief in a god is basic or primary.

    So where are we? Plantinga argues common ancestry is less probable if a god exists than if a god doesn’t exist. Why? Plantinga wants special creation to be true. Why? Plantinga and Dr. Craig also want to be special. Why? They think without a god all that is left is nihilism. They believe that if they were not created specially by a god then no reason exists for living. Craig said in a debate with Kai Nielsen, “After all, if there is no God, what is so special about human beings? They’re just accidental by-products of nature, which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust, lost somewhere in the heart of a hostile and mindless universe, and are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.”
    Consciousness brings with it a knowledge of our ultimate demise as individuals. This scares the hell out of some of us – literally and/or figuratively – depending on how we deal with that knowledge.

  32. #33 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 24, 2008

    Mr. Fugate,

    Your logic wouldn’t pass an undergrad course.

  33. #34 michael fugate
    September 24, 2008

    Please explain – you and Robert should get together and discuss nonreplies.

  34. #35 AL
    September 25, 2008

    No A. Plantinga or Craig, but good.

    Well, let’s be honest here. Do you really think adding Plantinga or Craig will raise the caliber of this lineup of purported “all-stars?” What are their contributions to apologetics that you think are actually any good and aren’t child’s play to refute? The evolutionary argument against naturalism? Kalam cosmological argument? C’mon now….

  35. #36 GFB
    September 25, 2008

    I would just like to address a few comments,(or so) if that is alright.
    1. apologetics comes from the greek word “aplogia” which means “to speak in defense of”. it is just the opposite of apologizing.
    2.There is no shame in defining what real true Christianity is. It is simply the New Testament.
    3. It is misleading to say the Illiad and the Bible have similar historical evidence. In determining accuracy of the text of historical documents, the number of supporting manuscripts is essential. (since none of the ancient writings have the original copies available.) the Illiad is second in the most discovered supporting manuscripts with 683 documents. The Bible is first with 24,633 manuscripts. hardly similar.
    4. I know of no theology that considers God “a peeping Tom”. so who is being comforted?
    5.badger3k, it sounds like you are implying (and please forgive me if I am wrong) the worried idiots (inre.LHC) are religiously founded. Simply put, that is just the opposite of the truth, at least in Christianity. We believe in the soverignity of God, not the LHC. I presume the idiots that you are referring to are the ones that spent $10 billion dollars on a machine that broke down in its initial operation, and sustain this project at a cost of over $100 million a month. (why didn’t they just read Genesis 1:1 and save all the time and effort?)
    6. The difference between Gov. Palins church and Sen. Obamas church (at least until it became a political liability) is that Gov. Palin’s church doctorines correspond with the teachings of the New Testament regarding Christianity. Sen Obama’s church couldn’t see Christianity even with a telescope. Maybe there is a reason that Sen Obama left his church at about the time his presidential bid began.
    7. Science is “self correcting”? What about the problems with carbon 14? The assumptions that the universe is billions of years old, yet science also states that 1/3 of the stars, blue stars, burns much too hot (between 9,000 and 11,000 degrees centigrade) to have existed billions of years? And I still haven’t got an answer to how nothing crashed with nothing else, nowhere, and created all that exists.
    By the way did you know that modern science was created and sustained by men (at least untilsomewhere in the 19th century) using the discipline to identify the Creator?
    Creation vs. evolution:
    Creation= Intelligent Designer=all existence is planned.
    Evolution=random selection=innumerable atomic and sub-atomic accidents.
    Science is not exclusive to either evolutionists or creationists.
    Evolution=presently considered by a perceived (since it can not be determined either way) majority as the truth. This change in perception can be attributed, in large part, to the work of Charles Darwin in the mid 19th century, Albert Einstein in the 20th century, and many other scientists past and present. A main tenet of evolutionists is that science and creationism are incompatible.
    Creation=with the exception of ancient Greeks who considered science an intellectual exercise, not a practical application, from around 600 B.C., science originated in the 16th-17th century A.D.. A main tenet is that science is a means of identifying the creator. Here are some examples:
    Francis Bacon- considered the father of modern science—said �There are two books on which we should read. One was Scripture, the other the book of nature.�
    Johannes Kepler- Celestial Mechanics — said scientists are �thinking God�s thoughts after Him.�
    Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest scientist of all time,-calculus and dynamics— is quoted as saying��this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all and account of His Dominion He is wont* to be called Lord God.� And,
    �Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.�
    Other creation believing scientists include:
    Louis Pasteur- bacteriology.
    Lord Kelvin-energetics
    Blaise Pascal-hydrostatics
    Charles Babbage-computer science
    Lord Joseph Lister-antiseptic surgery
    Robert Boyle-chemistry
    James Simpson-anesthesiology
    Samuel Morse-telegraphy
    and the devout fundamentalist- Galileo.
    just fyi.

  36. #37 SLC
    September 25, 2008

    Re GFB

    1. Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest scientist of all time,-calculus and dynamics— is quoted as saying��this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all and account of His Dominion He is wont* to be called Lord God.� And,
    �Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.�

    Issac Newton also said that the intervention of god was required to preserve the stability of the solar system. Laplace proved him to be incorrect in this regard.

    2. 5.badger3k, it sounds like you are implying (and please forgive me if I am wrong) the worried idiots (inre.LHC) are religiously founded. Simply put, that is just the opposite of the truth, at least in Christianity. We believe in the soverignity of God, not the LHC. I presume the idiots that you are referring to are the ones that spent $10 billion dollars on a machine that broke down in its initial operation, and sustain this project at a cost of over $100 million a month. (why didn’t they just read Genesis 1:1 and save all the time and effort?)

    Where does Mr. GFB come up with the 100 million/month figure? Provide a reference. By the way, what does Genesis 1:1 have to say about the Higgs boson or dark matter? In fact, what do the scriptures have to say about quantum mechanics and special/general relativity?

    3. . Science is “self correcting”? What about the problems with carbon 14? The assumptions that the universe is billions of years old, yet science also states that 1/3 of the stars, blue stars, burns much too hot (between 9,000 and 11,000 degrees centigrade) to have existed billions of years?

    Carbon 14, with a 1/2 life of 5000 years has nothing to do with the age of the universe. Furthermore, Mr. GFB demonstrates his total ignorance of big bang cosmology. The stars were not all formed at the time of the big bang but are, in fact, being formed all the time. In fact, the stars probably didn’t even begin to be formed until long after the big bang occurred. The blue giants to which Mr. GBF refers to were formed recently (< 10 million years ago). However, there are stars like the sun that were formed billions of years ago.

    4. Mr. GBF lists some scientists from the 19th century and earlier. How about such 20th century non-believing scientists such as (Nobel Prize winners all):

    Richard Feynman
    Murray GellMann
    Steven Weinberg
    Julian Schwinger
    Sheldon Glashow

    5. A main tenet of evolutionists is that science and creationism are incompatible.

    Not so. How about Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Francisco Ayala, etc.

    6. Evolution=random selection=innumerable atomic and sub-atomic accidents.

    A classic demonstration of total ignorance of the theory of evolution. Natural selection is not random. It is a deterministic process acting on a population of random alleles.

    6. The difference between Gov. Palins church and Sen. Obamas church (at least until it became a political liability) is that Gov. Palin’s church doctorines correspond with the teachings of the New Testament regarding Christianity. Sen Obama’s church couldn’t see Christianity even with a telescope. Maybe there is a reason that Sen Obama left his church at about the time his presidential bid began.

    Do the teachings of the Christian Bible include the existance of witches?

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/09/the_muthiepalin_video.php#more

    I can only say that Mr. GFB is nearly as ignorant as Mr. Jon S.

  37. #38 JimV
    September 25, 2008

    GFB: the Illiad is second in the most discovered supporting manuscripts with 683 documents. The Bible is first with 24,633 manuscripts

    Thanks for that bit of information. Assuming it is true, and that The Iliad covers a period of about 10 years, and the Bible about 4000 years, that is roughly 68 documents per year-covered for the former, versus 6 for the latter. As you say, hardly similar, and we must consider the former more verified by an order of magnitude.

    Moving on, what is your verdict on Alexander the Great: liar, lunatic, or Lord (son of Zeus)? (If you happen to know the number of supporting documents for his miracles, fulfilled prophecies, etc., that would also be appreciated.)

  38. #39 tyaddow
    September 25, 2008

    So here’s a question: is anyone planning on attending this thing? I would love to sit in on this conference and get in on some Q&A time if I could sit through what will surely be pure inanity. So who’s goin’ with me? Any takers?

  39. #40 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 25, 2008

    Mr. Fugate,
    Step by step, if you wish:
    Plantinga thinks since many (most?) people believe in some sort of god, then either this god must exist or our reasoning must be faulty.
    Maybe. Let’s see how this plays out.

    Either way science is dead.
    No. Naturalism simply fails. You can have science without naturalism. Inserting your own assumption and conclusion is not a sound approach.

    If god exists then naturalism is false and if naturalism is false then reason is not reliable (after all reason is associated with science and science is often wrong).

    You’re taking steps from naturalism to a concept of science that Plantinga does not take. Again, falsehood and misrepresentation.

    If god doesn’t exist then the human construct of god is a faulty conclusion and once again human reason is not reliable.
    Perhaps.

    First we know our reasoning is faulty at least some of the time -but we also know that it works well in making predictions of future events.
    Been reading Jean Dixon, I see.

    Science is self-correcting and works much of the time.
    Ya, right.
    Brachiosaur or Brontosaur?
    Archaeoraptor liaoningensis ?
    Blind Faith Evolutionists will distort evidence.

    We don’t abandon reason because it sometimes makes faulty conclusions

    If Reason leads to false conclusions, is it sound reason? I will suggest that it is not.

    – which is what Plantinga wants us to do.

    So you willingly hang on to a faulty system?
    Talk about a true believer!

    I also think Plantinga would claim that belief in a god is a matter of faith not reason – or in other words – reason doesn’t lead one to a god. Belief in a god is basic or primary.

    Seems correct.

    So where are we? Plantinga argues common ancestry is less probable if a god exists than if a god doesn’t exist.

    Seems correct.

    Why? Plantinga wants special creation to be true. Why? Plantinga and Dr. Craig also want to be special. Why? They think without a god all that is left is nihilism. They believe that if they were not created specially by a god then no reason exists for living. Craig said in a debate with Kai Nielsen, “After all, if there is no God, what is so special about human beings? They’re just accidental by-products of nature, which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust, lost somewhere in the heart of a hostile and mindless universe, and are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.”

    And I take it you want to be “special” for no good reason?

    Consciousness brings with it a knowledge of our ultimate demise as individuals. This scares the hell out of some of us – literally and/or figuratively – depending on how we deal with that knowledge.

    It ought to.

    ********

    Personally, I think ID will fail because the core of ID is that something can be found which can only have been created. I don’t know that this is a necessary conclusion, but a look at the a priori informational character of genetics seems a better route. One cannot have direction without a directive, else it seems merely historical revisionism.

    ***********

    Al,

    If A Plantinga’s material is “child’s play” then why did it stand up so well in Naturalism Defeated? This volume is written by some of the best of naturalists and evolutionists. Read it . You’ll enjoy learning something.

    I don’t know if Jason has taken the opportunity. Interacting with him on it might be enjoyable.

  40. #41 SLC
    September 25, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    No. Naturalism simply fails. You can have science without naturalism. Inserting your own assumption and conclusion is not a sound approach.

    Not true. Methodological naturalism and science are the same thing. Allowing supernaturalism as a scientific explanation requires expansion of the definition of science, as Michael Behe admitted in his Dover testimony.

    Brachiosaur or Brontosaur

    Mr. Brendemuehl apparently doesn’t know the difference between a Brachiosaur and an Apatosaur.

  41. #42 michael fugate
    September 25, 2008

    Please explain how you get science with naturalism – I want to read about this earth-shattering concept.
    I have no claim to “specialness” – Humans are no better or worse than any other species. If science tells us anything, evolutionarily, we are just one branch in several billion on the bush of life and ecologically, we are just one consumer in an ecosystem relying on producers and decomposers to survive and reproduce. Nothing remarkable.

  42. #43 GFB
    September 25, 2008

    JimV

    The number of supporting mss for historical writings is based on the total number of manuscripts found between the original date, and the present. Since the Illiad was estimated to have been written around 750BC, that means there have been approximately 2750 years in which 683 documents have been found. (avg. 1 every 4 years.) The Bible has covered about 4500 years with 24,633 discoveries. (avg. 5.5 per year or a 22 to 1 ratio.) so I respectfully disagree with your assumption.
    Regarding your reference to C.S. Lewis’ trilemma, it is based on the fact that even 1 lie, or lunatic behavioral action is adequate proof to disqualify any possibility of Lordship. His summation was that Jesus fulfilled the 333 prophecies, and never was determined to have been a liar or lunatic, He must, by default, be Lord. Within these perameters, Alexander would be hard pressed to find 1 prophecy that he actually did fulfill. Since I believe that miracles can come only from God, this number for Alexander is also 0.

  43. #44 GFB
    September 25, 2008

    Issac Newton also said that the intervention of god was required to preserve the stability of the solar system. Laplace proved him to be incorrect in this regard.

    Isaac Newton’s assertion could only have been “proved” to be incorrect if the abilities and mind of God were a known entity. I do not believe Laplace, nor anyone else, has this knowledge.

    Where does Mr. GFB come up with the 100 million/month figure? Provide a reference.

    I originally heard that figure when there was dicussion on the building costs of $10 billion. In reviewing my information, however, i can not reference this figure of the sustained costs. I apologize for my mistake, and respectfully withdraw this portion of my statement.

    By the way, what does Genesis 1:1 have to say about the Higgs boson or dark matter? In fact, what do the scriptures have to say about quantum mechanics and special/general relativity?

    Isn’t the Higgs boson also known as the “God gene”? I think it would be more appropriate to ask ” what does quantum mechanics, relativity, and dark matter say about the Scriptures?” Each discipline is a very specific field of study in God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.

    Carbon 14, with a 1/2 life of 5000 years has nothing to do with the age of the universe.

    I made no reference to Carbon 14 and the age of the universe,
    only to the problems with carbon 14. And, as you know, this problem is with dating living existance versus evolutionary scientific claims. A serious discrepancy.

    Mr. GFB demonstrates his total ignorance of big bang cosmology.

    It is nice to see ‘total ignorance’ and ‘big bang cosmology’ in the same sentence.

    The stars were not all formed at the time of the big bang but are, in fact, being formed all the time. In fact, the stars probably didn’t even begin to be formed until long after the big bang occurred. The blue giants to which Mr. GBF refers to were formed recently (

    There is the point of misunderstanding. I still haven’t figured out how, in the beginning, nothing exploded to create everything. I did not realize that this is an ongoing phenomenon, that stars are still being created out of nothing, even though the concept has many theoretical flaws, and has never been observed.

    Mr. GBF lists some scientists from the 19th century and earlier. How about such 20th century non-believing scientists such as (Nobel Prize winners all):

    A quick story: A few years ago an eldery Polish lady was nominated for a Nobel prize. It seems that during WW2, at great personal risk, she was credited for saving over 2800 children during the war. She was captured and tortured for this, including having her arms and legs broken for her bravery. She did not win the award. It went to Al Gore and his global warming crusade. So a group of unbelieving panelists awarding a group of unbelieving scientists cudos for their unbelieving theorms, instead of acknowledging the true accomplishment of heroism, has lost its credibility.

    A classic demonstration of total ignorance of the theory of evolution. Natural selection is not random. It is a deterministic process acting on a population of random alleles.

    For a process to be deterministic instead of random, then who, or what guides this process? It sounds like someone taking a jigsaw puzzle, throwing the 500 pieces up in the air, and having it land completely assembled because of the determination of each individual piece.

    Yes. The term “witch” is a generalized denotation. It can apply from a hedonist to the demonically possessed, a concept that i am sure you understand.

  44. #45 JimV
    September 25, 2008

    GFB,

    I am not a historian, but your criterion seems unfair to me. How much archeological and historical evidence would you expect to find for an event which lasted ten years and involved two warring tribes (Ageans and Trojans), versus that for events that spanned somewhere between 4000 (Usher’s guestimate) and 6000 years, involving Assyrians, Babylonians, Phillistines, Egyptians, Romans, et cetera?

    In my inexpert opinion, there is evidence that there was a Trojan War, somewhat as described in The Iliad, and there is evidence that there were various tribes in the Middle East who worshipped various gods and fought various wars, somewhat as described in the Bible. There is no proof of the alleged supernatural events that are claimed, in either case.

    Alexander the Great satisfied the prophecy that whomever solved the Gordian Knot would rule Asia, if memory serves. His miracles, such as a day’s march across a desert without drinking or sweating, were supposedly witnessed by thousands. I believe the amount of contemporary historical references to him dwarfs that for Jesus.

    I too believe that he actually performed no miracles, but then I believe the same of Jesus.

    It is said of Trotsky by his admirers that the singular depth of his vision is proved by the fact that many of the events he foretold have not yet come to pass. Similarly, whether or not Jesus told any lies or exhibited any lunacies (healing afflictions by casting out demons?) depends on one’s point of view.

    My point, probably obscured by all this detail, it that if people want to believe in Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, or Alexander the Great, with a little selection bias and rationalization they can come up with plenty to confirm that belief.

  45. #46 SLC
    September 25, 2008

    Re GFB

    Rarely have I seen anyone speak so knowledgeably from such a vast fund of ignorance such as is demonstrated by Mr. GFB. I would suggest that Mr. GFB learn something before running his mouth on subjects he know nothing about.

    1. There is the point of misunderstanding. I still haven’t figured out how, in the beginning, nothing exploded to create everything. I did not realize that this is an ongoing phenomenon, that stars are still being created out of nothing, even though the concept has many theoretical flaws, and has never been observed.

    Stars are currently being formed out of gas clouds left over from the big bang.

    http://discovermagazine.com/1996/feb/inthenurseryofth695/?searchterm=%22star%20formation%22

    Furthermore, where does Mr. GFB get the idea that the big bang created something out of nothing? Provide the names of some cosmologists who make such a claim. It is true that there are some cosmologists who hypothesize that the cause was a quantum fluctuation in the quantum vacuum. However, the quantum vacuum is hardly nothing.

    2. Mr. GFB repeats the old bromide about alleged problems with Carbon 14. Since Carbon 14 is only reliable out to 40,000 years, it tells us nothing about the theory of evolution. There are several other radioactive substances which decay much more slowly that are used to date fossils (e.g. K40 – A40). See the talkorigins web site for a discussion of this issue or the book on evolution by Prof. Donald Prothero.

    3. Isaac Newton’s assertion could only have been “proved” to be incorrect if the abilities and mind of God were a known entity. I do not believe Laplace, nor anyone else, has this knowledge.

    Mr. GFB is totally full of crap. Laplace proved the stability of the solar system by applying the laws of motion developed by Newton, using perturbation theory to compute the effects of the planets on each other. Newton could have done the same but chose not to for reasons best known to himself.

    3. For a process to be deterministic instead of random, then who, or what guides this process? It sounds like someone taking a jigsaw puzzle, throwing the 500 pieces up in the air, and having it land completely assembled because of the determination of each individual piece.

    The deterministic process of natural selection is as unguided as the Newtonian laws of physics are. Mr. GFB only demonstrates what dolt he is by making a comment like this.

    4. So Mr. GHB believes in demonic possession. Thus, presumably, he had no problem with the execution of suspected witches during the time of Cotton Mather.

    5. So Mr. GFB is also a global warming denier. No surprise there. By the way, former Vice President Gore is a believing Christian so Mr. GFBs’ allegation that he is an unbeliever is a lie.

    It would appear that Mr. GFBs’ knowledge of climate science is as empty as his knowledge of cosmology and evolution.

    6. So Mr. GFB is unimpressed with the Nobel Prizes in the sciences. No doubt, he can therefore name some scientists more worthy of recognition then those I listed in my previous comment. By the way, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize is made by an entirely different and independent panel then that which awards the prizes in the sciences. Incidentally, Mr. GFBs’ assertion that his Polish woman was not awarded the prize because of her religious convictions, presumably Roman Catholic, doesn’t seem to square with the award of that prize to Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa.

    However, Mr. GFBs’ complaint about Nobel committees occasionally overlooking deserving nominees is not without merit. These committees are staffed by human beings who are not perfect and occasionally err. For instance, a physicist named Lise Meitner was not awarded the prize in 1944 along with her collaborator, Otto Hahn, for political reasons.

  46. #47 GFB
    September 25, 2008

    JimV
    First I would like to thank you for this discussion and the class in which you exhibit. Second I would like to apologize for my “know it all” tendencies. The doctrine of the Bible, especially the New Testament is my “life blood.” So I hope you will understand the extra fervor of my opinions. I did not intend to make the analysis of the Illiad and the Bible a competition, just a comparison. The 24,633 manuscripts of multilingual evidence can be anywhere from a few sentences to an entire page. They are specific to the New Testament meaning that the vast majority of the references are to the 3 year period of Jesus’ ministry.

    Compared to me, at least, you are an expert on the events described in The Illiad. I did not mean to debate any indiviual assertions of The Illiad, I just wanted to support my position of the facts of the diety of Jesus and the incomperable number of affirmations of His life found throughout history. The same objective of C.S. Lewis’ trilemma. When you brought up this trilemma, I can only relate the Biblical prophecies to it, thus I can not answer how many of Alexander’s own specific prophecies he fulfilled.

    There were 500 documented witnesses to a living Jesus after He arose from the dead. I do not believe that there is anything that even comes close to that event.

    The 3 year ministry of a poor Jewish carpenter created the largest institution in the world that has ever been established throughout all of history. Everytime one writes down the date, it is a testment to the Greatest life ever lived. It would be hard for me to believe that anybody or anything can dwarf that.

    One of the greatest undeniable facts of Jesus’ diety, was the empty tomb. If the hostile opposition to Christianity could have found the body after that Sunday morning, they would have drug it down main st. in Jerusalem and destroyed Christianity, not in its infancy, but in the womb. There would have been no New Testament church.

    I agree completely with your point. People can believe what ever they want, and find ways to support their position. The question is whether or not there is one truth. Jesus made Himself stand out by His proclamation of His Diety. No other major religious leader has made the same claim. So now we are back to the trilemma of Lord, liar, or lunatic. C.S.Lewis was a professor of medievel literature at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. When he applied the trilemma to Jesus, he reluctantly, but completely, admitted that Jesus is Lord.

  47. #48 Collin Brendemuehl
    September 25, 2008

    Mr. Fugate,
    Now you’re being (at least) disingenuous. It was you who took the leap from naturalism to science.

    SLC,
    Not true. Methodological naturalism and science are the same thing. Allowing supernaturalism as a scientific explanation requires expansion of the definition of science, as Michael Behe admitted in his Dover testimony.
    That’s a necessary definition of “science” that persists in the physical sciences. Get into the “theoretical” sciences and you don’t find that same clean relationship.

    As I recall the brachiosaur was the true result of the false/erroneous brontosaur. Though things may have progressed further since I read that finding a few years ago, it remains that there was *no* brontosaur despite the claims of the *trustworthy* in science. Get it?
    Same goes for the other example.
    Your “science” is not as ethical as you might think.

  48. #49 GFB
    September 25, 2008

    Rarely have I seen anyone speak so knowledgeably from such a vast fund of ignorance such as is demonstrated by Mr. GFB. I would suggest that Mr. GFB learn something before running his mouth on subjects he know nothing about.

    Would that be similar to you speaking on good manners and civil discussion?

    Stars are currently being formed out of gas clouds left over from the big bang.

    Furthermore, where does Mr. GFB get the idea that the big bang created something out of nothing? Provide the names of some cosmologists who make such a claim. It is true that there are some cosmologists who hypothesize that the cause was a quantum fluctuation in the quantum vacuum. However, the quantum vacuum is hardly nothing.

    Do Stephen Hawking and his associates count? He makes the same statement about the quantum vacuum as you. The difference is that by reversing the expansion of the universe, there is a point beyond that vacuum. A point of a complete void. So again, we are back to the fact that the big bang was an explosion of nothing. And now we have stars, even today, that are being formed from the gasses of nothing.

    Mr. GFB is totally full of crap. ( not true, I just used the bathroom.)
    Laplace proved the stability of the solar system by applying the laws of motion developed by Newton, using perturbation theory to compute the effects of the planets on each other. Newton could have done the same but chose not to for reasons best known to himself.

    Is it possible that Newton found conflict of this theory with his theology, and by understanding that, He realized any theorm opposed to God is inherantly flawed? (just an idea.)

    The deterministic process of natural selection is as unguided as the Newtonian laws of physics are. Mr. GFB only demonstrates what dolt he is by making a comment like this.

    So these floating particles are randomly determined to get together and naturally select the proper configurationof the entire universe?

    4. So Mr. GHB believes in demonic possession. Thus, presumably, he had no problem with the execution of suspected witches during the time of Cotton Mather.

    The question was about demon possession during Biblical times. Your presumption was not only grossly misstated, but totally inane.

    5. So Mr. GFB is also a global warming denier. No surprise there.

    If someone can prove to me that the “mini iceage” of about a 1100-1500 AD was caused by a lack of car emissions, then I would agree that this “global warming” is a result of too many car emissions.

    By the way, former Vice President Gore is a believing Christian so Mr. GFBs’ allegation that he is an unbeliever is a lie.

    Al Gore may claim to be a believing Christian, but his actions say otherwise. He does not produce the required “fruit” (results) of a true believer, in any way.

    It would appear that Mr. GFBs’ knowledge of climate science is as empty as his knowledge of cosmology and evolution.

    Yeah, and your momma wears army boots!

    6. So Mr. GFB is unimpressed with the Nobel Prizes in the sciences. No doubt, he can therefore name some scientists more worthy of recognition then those I listed in my previous comment. By the way, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize is made by an entirely different and independent panel then that which awards the prizes in the sciences. Incidentally, Mr. GFBs’ assertion that his Polish woman was not awarded the prize because of her religious convictions, presumably Roman Catholic, doesn’t seem to square with the award of that prize to Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa.

    To quote former President Ronald Reagan, “There you go again.” I made no, zero, nada statement of her religious convictions. Thus I also made no comparison to Mother Teresa. Is this called random debating, deterministic debating, or the natural selection of debating? My assertion was that some half gassed theorm was found to be more deserving of this award, than the actions of a true heroic woman.

    However, Mr. GFBs’ complaint about Nobel committees occasionally overlooking deserving nominees is not without merit. These committees are staffed by human beings who are not perfect and occasionally err. For instance, a physicist named Lise Meitner was not awarded the prize in 1944 along with her collaborator, Otto Hahn, for political reasons.

    Hey! your actually being civil! wow! all kidding aside, wouldn’t it be great if both of us (I am obviously guilty as well) could maintain this type of approach? We both could learn more, appreciate our differing opinions more and even (gasp!) become friends.

  49. #50 JimCH
    September 25, 2008

    “There were 500 documented witnesses to a living Jesus after He arose from the dead. I do not believe that there is anything that even comes close to that event.”

    Documented? …How? …Where?
    If you’re referring to just the biblical account, then no there wasn’t; if that were true that would be remarkable. What you have is one account stating that there were 500. Not quite the same thing as 500 separate accounts. Also, a document which asserts its own truth is hardly a reliable source.

    One of the greatest undeniable facts of Jesus’ diety, was the empty tomb.

    I’m not sure you understand either the word “undeniable” or the word “fact”. Assuming everything else about Jesus the person is true, why is it not possible that his pals hid the body to create such an illusion?
    There is really nothing to do with the rest of your comment except highlight it’s inanity.

  50. #51 SLC
    September 26, 2008

    Re Collin Brendemuehl

    I suggest that Mr. Brendemuehl consult Stephen Jay Goulds’ book, “Bully for Brontosaurus where he will find that the Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are the same animal and a discussion of how the mistake was made. The Brachiosaurus is a totally different species as it outweighs an Apatosaurus by some 20 tons. Contrary to Mr. Brendemuehls’ accusation that this mistake was covered up by the scientific community, it was, in fact, uncovered by that same community and a correction was issued by them, just as occurred in the case of Piltdown Man. Mr. Brendemuehls’ claim that the scientific community is less then ethical is totally without merit. In fact, the scientific community is far more ethical then the religious community which condones phonies like Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggert, etc.

  51. #52 SLC
    September 26, 2008

    Re GFB

    I will ignore the comment Mr. GFB made concerning my mother, except to state that, unlike him, I knew who she was.

    1. The question was about demon possession during Biblical times. Your presumption was not only grossly misstated, but totally inane..

    Obviously, Mr. GFB is unaware of the fact that the pastor from Africa who spoke at Governor Palins’ church was referring to witches that he claimed to have uncovered in the recent past in his neck of the woods. Hardly biblical times. Once again, Mr. GFB pops off without the facts.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/09/the_muthiepalin_video.php#more

    2. Al Gore may claim to be a believing Christian, but his actions say otherwise. He does not produce the required “fruit” (results) of a true believer, in any way.

    Shorter Mr. GFB: Al Gore doesn’t accept the cockamamie religious views of Mr. GFB and therefore he is not a “real” Christian. Does god talk to Mr. GFB like he talks to Mr. Jon S? By the way, is Mr. GFB claiming that only scientific theories proposed by born-again Christians are legitimate?

    3. My assertion was that some half gassed theorem was found to be more deserving of this award, than the actions of a true heroic woman.

    It is difficult to know how to respond to such a moronic statement such as this one. Just as an example, the late Richard Feynman was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his development of the theory of quantum electrodynamics which has produced computed results that agree with experimental observations to 10 significant digits. Hardly a “half gassed” theory. In addition, as I have carefully explained, the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize, for which his Polish woman was nominated, are entirely separate from the committees that award the prizes in sciences. The fact that his Polish woman might have been overlooked by the Peace Prize committee is completely irrelevant to actions of the scientific committees, just as the fact that Lise Meitner was overlooked by the scientific committees is irrelevant to the actions of the Peace Prize committee. Or is Mr. GFB seriously proposing that his Polish woman should have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics? Just for the information of Mr. GFB in case he was ignorant of the situation, there are currently 6 separate Nobel Prizes awarded, consisting of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economics.

    4. Is it possible that Newton found conflict of this theory with his theology, and by understanding that, He realized any theorm opposed to God is inherently flawed? (just an idea.)

    Not a chance in hell. The consensus opinion of his biographers is that Newton, at the time was involved in other projects, (for instance, he was appointed director of the mint) and just didn’t have the time or the patience to perform the rather tedious computations required to determine if the interactions of the planets with each other would lead to instability. These calculations were tedious in the extreme in the days before the advent of computers. In order to do so, he would have had to develop the theory of small perturbations which would have been a major undertaking in itself. Thus he took the easy way out by attributing the observed stability of the solar system to occasional interventions by god.

    Incidentally, since Mr. GFB is questioning the computations of Laplace, would he care to inform us where the latter went wrong, other then the fact that, unlike Newton, he didn’t take the easy way out.

    5. If someone can prove to me that the “mini iceage” of about a 1100-1500 AD was caused by a lack of car emissions, then I would agree that this “global warming” is a result of too many car emissions.

    Mr. GFB doesn’t even have his facts as to the largest source of carbon emissions correct. The largest source of carbon emissions is coal burning power plants, not automobiles. And by the way, investigation of ice cores from Greenland indicate that the earth is currently warmer then it has been for some 700,000 years.

  52. #53 michael fugate
    September 26, 2008

    My mistake – I meant to science without naturalism…..

  53. #54 michael fugate
    September 26, 2008

    One of the arguments here seems to be that science is fallible and therefore can’t be trusted. I am sure Mr. Brendemuehl practices “true” Christianity, but what about all the others. Gazillions of denominations, sects, schisms, megachurches exist – each interpreting the Bible somewhat differently – how does anyone know when they have it right? Type in the name of any prominent pastor into Google and you will find individuals attacking their beliefs. And that is just Christianity – nothing about all of the other religions out there.

    You can read bits and pieces of “Naturalism Defeated” on Google books. I guess some philosophers are impressed by Plantinga’s argument, but it just seems silly to me. I guess some people can live with uncertainty.

  54. #55 GFB
    September 26, 2008

    SLC

    Please accept my apologies.

    I tried to add some tounge-in-cheek/humor to our discussion.

    I did NOT intend to insult your mother. I guess my attempt to show you the folly of your personal, not topical, attacks upon me got past you. I presume that your opening statement was suppose to be humorous as well.

    This is the original question that you posed.

    “Do the teachings of the Christian Bible include the existance of witches?”

    My response was “yes”.

    4. “So Mr. GHB believes in demonic possession. Thus, presumably, he had no problem with the execution of suspected witches during the time of Cotton Mather.”

    Since Cotton Mather did NOT live during Biblical times, this was my response:
    “The question was about demon possession during Biblical times. Your presumption was not only grossly misstated, but totally inane.”

    Obviously, Mr. GFB is unaware of the fact that the pastor from Africa who spoke at Governor Palins’ church was referring to witches that he claimed to have uncovered in the recent past in his neck of the woods. Hardly biblical times. Once again, Mr. GFB pops off without the facts.

    I repeate:
    This is the original question that you posed.

    “Do the teachings of the Christian Bible include the existance of witches?”

    This is the FACT. So unless the African Pastor is 2000 years old, you once again have changed the question. The teachings of the Christian Bible were laid down during Biblical times. I really thought you could figure that out. So who is popping off without the facts?

    Shorter Mr. GFB: Al Gore doesn’t accept the cockamamie religious views of Mr. GFB and therefore he is not a “real” Christian. Does god talk to Mr. GFB like he talks to Mr. Jon S? By the way, is Mr. GFB claiming that only scientific theories proposed by born-again Christians are legitimate?

    2 Timothy 3:16 (New International Version)
    16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

    This Scripture only leaves 2 choices. If it is true, then God has directed every word and it is perfect. If false, then the whole of the Bible is a lie. Christians believe it is true, which also requires one to be Born Again. John 3:3, John 3:7 and many more.
    Matthew 3:8
    Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:10
    The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Since Mr. Gore’s actions are frequently in conflict with the Scripture, he does not produce the necessary good fruit.
    God talks to everyone through the Scripture. Mr. Jon S. and myself (among millions) choose to listen.

    My statement of “half gassed” was directed at Mr. Gore’s theorm. You could have recognized this if you had read the two previous paragraphs. My reference to the heroic Polish lady was that the Prize commitee was unwilling to acknowledge her achievements to their proper level. But, alas, they did so for Mr. Gore.

    Is it possible that Newton found conflict of this theory with his theology, and by understanding that, He realized any theorm opposed to God is inherently flawed? (just an idea.)

    Not a chance in hell. The consensus opinion of his biographers is that Newton, at the time was involved in other projects

    I stated “Is it possible” and (just an idea) because I was not included by Newton in what was in his heart and mind at the time. And guess what, neither were ANY of his biographers. The biographers were obviously more aware of the necessary knowledge of the sciences than I, but as a fellow Christian, I understand his religious perspective more than a non-Christian. That is why I raised this possibility, one that is completely foreign to you, I am sure.

    Mr. GFB doesn’t even have his facts as to the largest source of carbon emissions correct. The largest source of carbon emissions is coal burning power plants, not automobiles.

    Your venom has once again surpassed your intelligence. Newsflash… There were no cars in 1100 A.D. i just presumed you knew that fact. It was another tounge-in-cheek statement to try to lighten the discussion. Man’s arrogance to belive that he can control the climate in just as absurd now as it would have been then.

    My final paragraph was an offer to for a more civil discussion that would be more productive and even friendly. Your venom is obviously more important to you than productive and even friendly debate. But, I should have known. There have been many times when someone has misspelled my name. You sir, are unique in that you are the only person to have misspelled my INITIALS, and multiple times. For the record, They are GFB, not GBF or even GHB. Maybe we should hold off on the college level discussion until you complete 1st grade spelling.

  55. #56 SLC
    September 26, 2008

    Re GFB

    Just for the record, I have not deliberately erred in referring to Mr. GFB by various permutations of his initials. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

    1. The biographers were obviously more aware of the necessary knowledge of the sciences than I, but as a fellow Christian, I understand his religious perspective more than a non-Christian.

    I don’t know about the church that Mr. GFB belongs to but the Christian Churches which I have some familiarity with, namely the Anglican communion and the Roman Catholic Church proclaim that a true Christian must accept the concept of the Trinity. Since Issac Newton strenuously rejected the concept of the Trinity, by their lights, he was not a Christian. By the way, there is absolutely no doubt that he rejected the Trinity as he made it perfectly clear in many letters and other writings which only became public after his death (had they become public before his death, he quite possibly might have ended up in the slammer). Most mainstream theologians today would consider Newton to be a Unitarian or an Arian.

    It would appear that Mr. GFBs’ objection to the theory of anthropogenic global warming has nothing to do with science but with theology. This has about as much validity as the notion that disease is due to god, rather then to microbes.

    With regard to the guest pastor at Governor Palins’ church, obviously Mr. GFB failed to appreciate the essence of my question. He previously stated that Governor Palins’ church was a true Christian church, in contrast to the church to which Senator Obama used to attend. Governor Palins’ church invited a guest pastor who proclaimed that he had found witches in his home parish in Africa. The question is, does this proclamation by the guest pastor constitute Mr. GFBs’ concept of “true Christianity?” Here we are talking about current events, not something that happened 2000 years ago.

    With regard to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to former Vice President Gore, it would appear that Mr. GFB is now making it clear that his objection is to that award while at the same time overlooking Mr. GFBs’ Polish heroine. Just to be clear, I conclude that he is not questioning the award of the scientific prizes to persons like the late Prof. Feynman, even though he was an atheist.

    Furthermore, Mr. GFB proclaimed that the Gore award was from one set of unbelievers to another unbeliever. If the Nobel Prize committee that awards the Peace Prize were made up of unbelievers, they would hardly have awarded the prize to Mother Teresa as it did not become known that she had drifted into unbelief until after her death.

    As for the notion of civil discussions, I will freely admit to not being a very nice man. But, to paraphrase Harry Truman, if Mr. GFB can’t stand the heat, he should consider exiting the kitchen. This is the internet and civil discussions are for wimps and weenies. By the way, if Mr. GFB thinks I am being beastly to him, he should see how I treat Israel bashers. I show them no mercy.

  56. #57 GFB
    September 26, 2008

    Re SLC

    I admit to my degression in the last post, and apologize for my unnecessary sarcasm.

    The difference in this post versus the others, is amazing. I believe it to be much more productive. As I will now demonstrate.

    In reviewing my information on Newton, I agree that I was wrong. The source of my information also included Thomas Jefferson as a Christian, but he too was a unitarian. And as you accurately point out, Belief in the trinity is a New Testament requirement.

    Your perception of my theological perspective is quite astute. It is who i am, and I frequently, if not always see the world through theologically shaded glasses. I would like to reserve the debate over global warming for another time. (and yes, I believe that I can produce enough non-theological data to support my opinion.)

    Regarding the “witch” topic, I did not follow, because I did not see the “time change” of your statements. I kept it at 2000 years ago because that is where I believed it to essentially stay. I perceived your other opinions to be a deflection of the original statement, not a true progression.

    The perspectives of a guest speaker do not change the church doctrine. It is not uncommon for guest speakers to lecture at Christian churches with different theological beliefs. We are not fragile. In fact, I believe Christians to be as resolute as anybody.

    I do not consider Sen. Obama’s previous church to be Christian. Obviously he doesn’t either or he would not have left a “Christian” church to support his “Christian” beliefs.
    Any church that promotes the using of the of the Lord’s name in vain in such a profain and repetitive manner, as well as advocating a large scale racial war, is not Christian. And I do not believe That the Bible needs to be opened to see that.

    I do believe that the Prize committee generally does their job very well. So much so that I was shocked and appalled at the exclusion of my Polish heroine, and the inclusion of Mr. Gore.

    For those who believe in global warming, I wonder if enough data was presented on behalf of Mr. Gore to justify the prize to the exclusion of the many scientists who truly were deserving. To those of us who do not hold to his theory, it was an outrage.

    Your final conclusion is correct. Although I am not familiar with Prof. Feynman, I do presume that his work was deserving of this honor, because I believe, as I previously said, that the committee is accurate, and also I am not conceited enough to challange their decisions, in general. This excludes the 2 nominees in this discussion.

    Contributions to the improvement and betterment of humankind are non-denominational, and should be properly acknowledged.

    My use of the term “unbelieving” in this topic, was a reference to the two particular proceedings involving the nominees in this post. To me, personally, I found this situation to be so outrageous, that I believe it would be offensive even to God, Himself. I realize that this is a personal interpretation, but that is specifically what I meant.

    I was fascinated by the information about Mother Teresa, and it was actually quite enlightening.

    Nobody on earth qualifies as truly “nice”. That is why Jesus came.

    My father was the chairman of the Communication dept. at a major university. He also had the foulest vocabulary in history. I did not realize that Jesus Christ was actually a name until I reached age 10. There is no problem with the heat in the kitchen, or any beastliness. I simply do not understand the necessity for personal affronts. I believe they are unnecessary and uncalled for.I also believe vulgar language and personal affronts are counter-productive. All they do is deflect what is being said, to how it is being said. I submit this last communication between us as proof.

    I realize that I will be perceived by some as being “patronizing”. If that is the case, then so be it. To me, it is only a reflection of my Christian beliefs, which makes up the majority of who i am.

  57. #58 GFB
    September 26, 2008

    Documented? …How? …Where? If you’re referring to just the biblical account, then no there wasn’t; if that were true that would be remarkable. What you have is one account stating that there were 500. Not quite the same thing as 500 separate accounts. Also, a document which asserts its own truth is hardly a reliable source.

    One of the greatest undeniable facts of Jesus’ diety, was the empty tomb.

    I’m not sure you understand either the word “undeniable” or the word “fact”. Assuming everything else about Jesus the person is true, why is it not possible that his pals hid the body to create such an illusion? There is really nothing to do with the rest of your comment except highlight it’s inanity.

    JimCH
    To paraphrase Martin Luther at the trial in Worms: “The importance of this topic is so great, I request additional time to respond in a satisfactory manner.” I hope you are enthused about this upcoming discussion as I, and I will resopnd ASAP. GFB

  58. #59 GFB
    September 26, 2008

    Revision:

    I am so enthused with this topic, I messed up the last sentence. Let me try again.

    I hope you are as enthusiastic about this upcoming discussion as I am, and I will respond A.S.A.P..

    sorry for the typos.

    GFB

  59. #60 SLC
    September 26, 2008

    Re GFB

    1. As I stated, Newton is generally regarded as a Unitarian or an Arian. Very frankly, I don’t know what the difference is. However, several months ago, I got into a somewhat heated discussion over on John Wilkins’ blog on scienceblogs when I suggested that Newton was a Unitarian. Several individuals slapped me down claiming that he was actually an Arian, which I understand is considered heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. There was considerable back and forth on this issue which led to one of the longer threads on that blog. As to whether we were arguing about the number of angels capable of dancing on the head of a pin, I have no idea.

    2. I think that it would be more accurate to describe Thomas Jeffersons’ religious views as non-Christian theism, although there are some who describe him as a Deist. I think the Deism claim is probably wrong as Jefferson believed in an intervening god. On the other hand, he rejected any claim of supernaturalism relative to Joshua of Nazareth, including the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection and the Trinity.

    3. As to the overlooking of the Polish heroine for the Nobel Peace Prize, I now recall that the nominee must be alive at the time of award as Nobels’ will apparently specifies no posthumous awards. This was he reason why Rosalind Franklin did not share the prize in chemistry which was awarded to Wilkins, Crick, and Watson for the discovery of DNA. Since I suspect that the Polish woman was probably deceased at the time of the award to former vice-president Gore, she wouldn’t have been eligible.

    By the way, there is no requirement that the Peace Prize be awarded to a scientist. For instance, 2 American presidents, James Earl Carter and Theodore Roosevelt have been awarded the prize and an American general, George Marshall, was awarded the prize (for his service as Secretary of State, not as the top general in the US military during WW 2).

    3. I generally try to avoid the use of foul language on this blog as Prof. Rosenhouse frowns on it. However, on other blogs such as Ed Braytons’ and Matt Yglesias’, use of such language, if not encouraged, is certainly common. Sometimes, one has to tell it like it is.

    I’m probably going to put my 2 cents worth (which is probably about all it’s worth) in on the discussion between Mr. JimV and Mr. GFB on the subject of Joshua of Nazareth on a subsequent comment. I have some rather eccentric views on the virgin birth and the resurrection.

  60. #61 GFB
    September 26, 2008

    SLC

    It should be an interesting discussion with Mr. Jim, and I must admit that I am rather fond of eccentricities.

    I do have 1 final comment on our discussion. You said:

    “he should see how I treat Israel bashers. I show them no mercy.”

    I would think that anybody intellectually challanged enough (moronic) to bash the nation of God’s Chosen People would be easy prey.

  61. #62 Robert O'Brien
    September 26, 2008

    Isaac Newton came to the same or similar conclusions concerning the nature of God as Arius, so, in that sense, he was an Arian Christian. Newton was ‘Unitarian’ only in the sense that he rejected the doctrine of the trinity; he certainly would not have agreed with Jefferson.

  62. #63 GFB
    September 27, 2008

    Documented? …How? …Where? If you’re referring to just the biblical account, then no there wasn’t; if that were true that would be remarkable. What you have is one account stating that there were 500. Not quite the same thing as 500 separate accounts. Also, a document which asserts its own truth is hardly a reliable source.

    I said:

    “There were 500 documented witnesses to a living Jesus after He arose from the dead.”

    I certainly agree that is not the same thing as 500 separate accounts. Did I somehow lead you to that errant statement? If so, I apologize.

    I believe that the Scripture must be first and foremost. And since the Scripture is the Word of God, and that the Resurrection is mentioned many times by many different authors, I believe that it is more than sufficiently documented. Having said that, here are some additional verifications of the Resurrection. Note, some of these quotes refer specifically to the Resurrection; others refer to the number of witnesses, also.

    Dr. Peter Kreeft, Prof. of philosophy, Boston College;

    “If the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts, then they are a type of fantasy that has absolutely no parallel in all of literature. That some Galilean peasants, fishermen and tax collectors, invented not only the world’s most gigantic hoax, but a totally unique form of literature, the Realistic Fantasy.”

    Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Jewish Prof. of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University;

    “I do not doubt the honesty of the earliest followers of Jesus. I do not think they made up the resurrection in order to market something they had a good take on.”

    And,

    “We must remember that the first followers of Jesus were first century Jews thinking first century Jewish thoughts. Now if I am one of Jesus followers as a first century Jew and I am convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, I will proclaim that Jesus came back from the dead not spiritually, but physically. Because that was the dominate Jewish thought at the time.”

    Dr. Gary Habermas, author;

    “The same Jesus that was buried is the same Jesus that was raised. For the Jew, that means that the tomb was empty.”

    And;

    “Now the life of Jesus is mentioned some 20 times in non-Christian sources. That means there at least 60 facts that outline His life, death, and resurrection outside of the Bible. You can get a complete outline of His life and never open the New Testament.”

    Some of these authors are;

    Josephus
    Tacitus
    Thallus
    Phlegan
    Suetonius
    Pliny the Younger
    Emporer Hadrian, among others.

    Dr. E. Yamauchi, Prof of history, Miami University, Ohio;

    “You cannot explain the expansion of Christianity without the resurrection. Some have tried, but they do not provide any convincing evidence.”

    Dr. N.T. Wright, Cannon Theologian, Westminster Abbey;

    “There were many messiahs in ancient times. And if one of these messiahs was executed by Rome that meant that the followers of that messiah had “backed the wrong horse.” Everybody knew that a dead messiah was a failed messiah, thus the only reason that the disciples called Jesus the Messiah, was the resurrection.”

    Dr. Helmut Koester, Harvard University;
    (who does not believe in the Deity of Jesus)

    “You cannot explain the beginnings of the Christian community without the epiphanies in which Jesus appeared confirming to the disciples, friends, and many others that he was alive.” (The point is the reference to the many people who were eyewitnesses to the Resurrection.)

    I’m not sure you understand either the word “undeniable” or the word “fact”. Assuming everything else about Jesus the person is true, why is it not possible that his pals hid the body to create such an illusion? There is really nothing to do with the rest of your comment except highlight it’s inanity.

    The reason I do not believe that “His pals hid the body” is that I don’t know how they could have gotten it. At Golgotha, the only apostle there was John. The other 10 were hiding. There was, however, a Roman Centurion at the foot of the Cross. And when Jesus breathed His last, the Centurion said “Surely this was the Son of God.” Upon His death, Joseph of the Sanhedrin asked Pilot if he could have the body so it could be buried in his own private tomb. Pilot granted his request, and then he dispatched soldiers to guard the tomb, and finally, he put his official seal on it.

    Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary;

    “Pilot, the Roman Governor, dispatches a contingent of soldiers, most likely 15 on each watch. On top of that, the Governor gave his seal, and to break that seal was to invite death.”

    The Empty Tomb theory.

    Dr. Paul Maier, Prof. of Ancient History, Western Michigan University;

    “We often overlook the empty tomb but we shouldn’t because it is something that ancient historians can get at.” Dr. Maier studies the statements of first century Jews and concludes that “the evidence is overpowering that the tomb was empty.”

    And;

    “Where did Christianity originate in terms of the organized proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead? It could have occurred in only one place, Jerusalem. There, least of all, could Christianity ever have gotten started if the moldering body of Jesus was available any time after Sunday morning.”

    The Fraud theory;

    Josh McDowell, author

    “In order to believe the fraud theory, first you must believe the disciples, just common ordinary people, fought off the Roman guard, some of the most disciplined soldiers in history, broke the Roman seal which everybody feared breaking, stole the body, and spread the rumor that Jesus was raised from the dead.”

    The Swoon theory;

    Dr. Gary Habermas, author

    “Death by crucifixion was death by asphyxiation; you did not come off the cross alive. This theory is held by virtually no reputable scholars at all.”

    And;

    The Wrong Tomb theory

    “Now this gets ridiculous. Jesus was laid in the wrong tomb, the guards stood in front of the wrong tomb, the women ran to the wrong tomb, the disciples went to the wrong tomb, they found the grave clothes in the wrong tomb, nobody knew where the right tomb was, and to top off all of this, He appeared anyway.”

    In Summation,

    Dr. Sam Labersom, Knox Theological Seminary;

    “Of the 11 remaining apostles, 12 minus Judas, 10 were put to death for their beliefs by crucifixion, stabbing, or beheadings. Those people went to their death knowing it was going to be painful, knowing it was going to be embarrassing, and knowing it was going to be terror filled. And they did it anyway because of their belief that Jesus was God. And it seems to me that it is the height of arrogance for us to say in the 21st century, you, all you people who died, you were just foolish, you just didn’t know any better, and we now, we scholars in the 21st century, we know a lot better than you do.”

    Mr. Jim;
    “…if that were true that would be remarkable.”

    It is true, and you are right, it is remarkable!

  63. #64 GFB
    September 27, 2008

    Oops. Sorry about that, Dr. Sam Lamerson.

  64. #65 JimCH
    September 28, 2008

    There were 500 documented witnesses to a living Jesus after He arose from the dead.
    I certainly agree that is not the same thing as 500 separate accounts. Did I somehow lead you to that errant statement?

    Unless you’re prepared to present a source other than the bible for these witnesses then I’m afraid that your statement is nonsensical.

    I believe that the Scripture must be first and foremost. And since the Scripture is the Word of God, and that the Resurrection is mentioned many times by many different authors, I believe that it is more than sufficiently documented.

    You are basing your belief on . . . well, the strength of your belief. You accept a premise that, perhaps needless to say, I don’t accept. If this is where you plan to center your argument then I’m afraid that you & I have nowhere to go. Having said that, perhaps you might consider that anecdotal hearsay for what’s being proposed is somewhat gossamer. In my opinion, you’d be better off just saying that you believe it because you want it to be true rather than present stories from the mythologically intoxicated Iron Age.

    As for your litany of testimonials from people who want the myth to be true — so much in fact that they are willing to waste their time & money earning folklore degrees, essentially — stating it’s obvious “truthiness”, so what? I could easily produce an endless array of people professing its obvious inanity, but what’s the point of that?

  65. #66 GFB
    September 28, 2008

    “You accept a premise that, perhaps needless to say, I don’t accept. If this is where you plan to center your argument then I’m afraid that you & I have nowhere to go.”

    You certainly are correct when you state that we may have nowhere to go. I believe that if we didn’t have some differing premises, it wouldn’t be a debate. But I also believe that a good debate includes substantiations for one’s viewpoint from credible sources who present their conclusions as a direct result of their research. By the way, where are yours? I must admit, however, that you did include a few of your opinions and beliefs.

    “You are basing your belief on . . . well, the strength of your belief. You accept a premise that, perhaps needless to say, I don’t accept.”

    The following facts come from a non-fiction book by Dr. Gary Habermas;

    “Now the life of Jesus is mentioned some 20 times in non-Christian sources. That means there at least 60 facts that outline His life, death, and resurrection outside of the Bible. You can get a complete outline of His life and never open the New Testament.”

    Some of these authors are;

    Josephus
    Tacitus
    Thallus
    Phlegan
    Suetonius
    Pliny the Younger
    Emporer Hadrian
    among others

    So here we have a published account by an author who cites non-Christian sources that mention the life of Jesus on 20 occasions, creating 60 facts that contain enough data to
    form an outline of each phase of the life of Jesus, completely without the Bible. (And have obviously named 7 of these authors.) If you can provide 1 verifiable refutation of any piece of Dr. Habermas’ above mentioned assertions, I will take it to much greater detail. I do, however, require at least 1 attempt of effort on your part.

    I have neglected to add some additional information, that I would like to add at this time. I apologize for this important oversight.

    According to Prof. emeritus Bruce M. Metzger, Princeton University (retired);

    There are enough (non Biblical) patristic writings from the church fathers, that one can re-create almost all of the New Testament.

    “As for your litany of testimonials from people who want the myth to be true — so much in fact that they are willing to waste their time & money earning folklore degrees, essentially — stating it’s obvious “truthiness”, so what?”

    Folklore degrees?

    Prof. of Philosophy, Boston College;

    Prof. of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University;

    Prof of History, Miami University, Ohio;

    Prof. of Ancient History, Western Michigan University;

    Prof. Harvard divinity school, Harvard University;

    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary;

    Knox Theological Seminary.

    So we have here;

    Philosophy
    History
    Ancient History
    and New Testament Studies.

    All well known folklore degrees,

    from;

    Boston College
    Vanderbilt
    Miami U. Ohio
    Western Michigan
    Harvard
    (and the just added Princeton)

    All schools that are well know for their folklore departments.

    also;
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Knox Theological Seminary

    {They don’t count, they are seminaries… Oh, wait, they both did earn their schools highest degree, a Doctorate, must have been in advanced folklore…}

    Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University;

    Dr. Helmut Koester works in the Divinity School of a small, unknown, unestablished community college named Harvard. And he, like yourself, does not believe in the deity of Jesus, but he did say in regards to the post-Resurrection appearances, that there were “disciples, friends, and many others…” but he couldn’t be referring to the 500, could he?
    And on what information is Dr. Koester using for his assertion of the presence of the disciples (+) friends (+) many others?

    I sure would like to see a book, author, and references that deny the 500 witnesses. So would Dr. Koester, I presume.

    Can one earn tenure with a degree in Folklore?

    “I’m afraid that your statement is nonsensical.”

    I guess I don’t understand the debating process. See, I think it is “nonsensical” to argue without one stated fact.

    I readily admit, unfortunately, to the use of many sarcastic remarks. I did not know any other way to keep this one sided debate, interesting.

  66. #67 JimV
    September 29, 2008

    GFB,

    Like the arguments of creationists against evolution, the arguments you have presented have been rebutted long ago, even by Christians. See for example:

    http://roman-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/pliny_tacitus_josephus_and_jesus

    (It took me about two minutes to find that online.)

    Such arguments are known as “zombie arguments”. They rise from the dead, unchanged, as often as they are put down, so after a while we get tired of fighting them and tend to ignore them. Perhaps this was not known by you, and you will now research such claims a little before repeating them.

    I had a brief argument once with someone who believes in the “Area 51″ conspiracy theory. He said (I have not checked) that two different people who claimed to have seen the downed spaceship were so consistent in their stories that they could not possibly be lying. For my part, the unlikelihood of aliens crossing light-years of space, expending fantastic amounts of energy and time, to crash into the earth’s surface far outweighs the unlikeliness of two people telling the same lie. My point of view on the resurrection of Jesus is similar, i.e., the likelihood that one particular instance of all the resurrection myths (e.g., the Vine King or generic-crop King who dies in the Fall and is resurrected in the Spring, Osiris, Mithra, Dionysus, etc.) happens to be true is far outweighed by the likelihood of a few simple magician’s tricks and/or exaggerations. Particular when none of those tricks (water into wine, walking on water, etc.) were original with Jesus (see Dionysus, Triton, Isis, etc.).

    For followers willing to die for their cause, see the followers of James Jones, David Koresh, Mohammad, Buddha, and so on. It is quite astonishing what people will believe and how fervently they will believe it, even (I will freely concede) people a lot smarter than myself. (I wonder what unfounded beliefs I still have?)

    One could of course spend a lifetime researching various claims and counterclaims. For my part, I have seen no flying saucers, nor does the notion of flying saucers make sense based on what I know of physics. Until this changes, I will view flying-saucer stories with extreme skepticism. The same is true for the Jesus story.

  67. #68 GFB
    September 29, 2008

    JimV

    I gave your evidence the “two minute” treatment. These 2 statements caught my attention.

    “When the passage believed to be inserted by Eusebius on Jesus is removed, the text that occurs in Josehpus’s The Jewish War flows in context..”

    So, it appears to me that the writer of this article believes that it is necessary to remove some of the author or co-author’s text, so he can understand it better. Also, where is the foundation of “believed”? Is it just a personal opinion, or documented somewhere?

    “Little proof exists outside of the new testament that a historical Jesus existed.”

    It seems to me that the “Little proof” here is the the establishment of the accuracy of his opinion. Obviously, this is my opinion of the afore stated opinion.

    The “zombie arguments” you refer to really are a pain in the rear, aren’t they? The problem here is that they go both ways. The difference to me is that there are many facts that can be produced (the body of Jesus, for example) to actually end the debate in favor of evolutionists. Christians, however, have no such luxury in this ongoing debate.

    The Roswell, New Mexico/”Area 51″ controversy is an excellent example of “zombie arguments”. This story is now 61 years old. It has been addressed by many experts,
    and time and time again the actual evidence shows the results of this incident were that the silver mass of the wreckage discovered was actually a weather balloon from project ‘mogul’.

    This controversy goes on to “Hanger 13″ located at Wright Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. This is where the alien “bodies” were supposedly sent. In an interesting coincidence. If the rumor mongers who have been consistently thwarted by fact, could have produced a body, well…

    (Note; I do NOT consider anyone on this site, nor the vast majority of evolutionists to be “rumor mongers”. It is specifically addressed to the perpetuaters of this hoax. And, as you say, some controversies, like Roswell, can really get old.

    The topic that I have addressed is 2,000 years old. If I do not present interesting enough perspectives,challenges, and at least somewhat reasonable facts, please let me know.
    I do not desire to be a detriment to the challenges, or the enjoyment that they may create. Likewise, if anybody agrees with all my statements, they should be required to take a sobriety test to continue.)

    The differences I see between the followers of Koresh and Jones versus that of the disciples of Jesus were that :

    1. The cult members did not see their leaders scourged and crucified (a horrible scene I am sure).

    2. The disciples had many years of contemplation of this process, and the only thing they needed to do individually was deny Jesus, and they could have walked away. (obviously after the Resurrection, because all 10 ran away during the crucifixion, leading to the question, “Where did they get this bravery?”) 10 times or more this offer was made, at least once to each individual, and 10 times they chose the deity of Jesus at the expense of torture and death. (The Apostle John was not killed, but exiled to the Island of Patmos.)

    In Jonestown, the followers were given 2 options (without much contemplation time, I would think) have some kool-aid, or be killed immediately. With Koresh’s followers it was an instant decision by the leader to lock down, and fight the gov’t. In both cases, armed guards within the cult, were required to insure the obedience of their followers.

  68. #69 JimV
    September 29, 2008

    GFB,

    I did not read into the cited-link’s statements what you did, but so be it. I hope that at least in the future when you present the Josephus-Tacitus-Pliny-et-al argument you will note that some historical scholars (in fact so far as I know, a consensus) do not accept that argument. Otherwise, you will be exhibiting that selection bias which I mentioned previously.

    As to your missing luxuries, there are of course many ways that Jesus could have convinced me of your claims, had he cared to and been able to. One of my favorites would have been to explain the germ theory of disease. Think of the lives he could have prolonged and the suffering he could have prevented by explaining that diseases are caused by organisms too small to see, and that by washing their hands often, especially before meals, and boiling their drinking water, people could reduce their exposure to these organisms. This seems to me a much easier thing for your version of Jesus to have accomplished than requiring me to find the 2000-year-old skeleton of mine and proving its provenance. To paraphrase Judge Judy, when someone could easily have provided proof of an assertion and fails to do so, it causes one to be skeptical of the assertion.

    By saying that some of Jones’ and Koresh’s followers were coerced, you of course beg the question of those who did the coercing. (Were they not the true followers?) I gather you are still honing your arguments with respect to my other examples, as you did not mention them. (Also with respect to Tacitus and Pliny and their relevance to extra-biblical historical evidence of Jesus.)

    My casual acquaintance with biblical/historical scholarship has given me the impression that the curent consensus is that John the Apostle and John of Patmos were two different people.

    In summary, as an engineer friend of mine used to say, whenever we disageed, you have your German scientists and I have my German scientists. (I believe this is a reference to those who fled Hitler’s Germany and wound up mostly either in the USA or in Russia.) That is to say, we can both cite experts who have spent their lives poring over ancient texts written in dead languages. Absent any direct evidence or compelling logic (I confess, the need for Jesus’ death by torture as part of some grand morality play which we are acting in has never been comprehensible to me, despite years of Sunday School), I use the Judge Judy Principle to determine which to put more credence in.

  69. #70 GFB
    September 30, 2008

    JimV

    Before I address this post, I would like to respond to a previous point you brought up.

    According to Wikipedia;

    In classical mythology, Dionysus or Dionysos is the god of wine, the inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy, and a major figure of Greek mythology

    Triton (??????, gen: ????????) is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the deep.

    the Legend of Osiris and Isis, which became a central myth in Egyptian mythology.

    Mithra is additionally the protector of truth and justice and the source of cosmic light.

    Whether or not you believe in the deity of Jesus, the fact of His physical presence on earth is generally accepted. (even by Jews and Muslims.) That sets Him apart from the mythological characters you mentioned. I believe the difference between magic and miracle is the creation of matter. Jesus did this on numerous occasions. (the fish and bread miracles for example.)

    I have admitted before that I see the world through theologically shaded glasses. In this debate, I would find it hard to believe that this isn’t the case, one way or another, for most everybody. I do listen to opposing viewpoints, but sometimes it takes some time for me to fully comprehend this alternative. My weakness is that I will respond at times without giving full consideration to the other perspective. My strength (for lack of a better word) is that I will continue to contemplate the points made to me, and I will acknowledge my errors if I am convinced that I was mistaken. (which is not that uncommon an occurrence)

    I plan to look into the J-T-P-et-al topic further.

    I have no misgivings that there are scholars, historical or otherwise, on both sides of every topic we have discussed. I just take it for granted that there are a lot of very intelligent people that have differing perspectives or understandings, and that is why I don’t qualify each topic we discuss with this statement.

    Regarding the germ theory and other like questions, that may one of the toughest topics for anyone to understand. And I am sure that my answer will be insufficient. Why did God let Adam and Eve have a choice in gaining the knowledge of good and evil? The answer to this question is the same as the answer to yours. Only God knows. The
    theological answer to your question is sin. As a human, sin and suffering are two topics that I can not fully get a grasp on. At this point I can only say by faith, that there is a reason. Whether it is germicidal problems, or even losing a loved one, it hurts. And at this point I
    realize my belief does not give me an answer to these tough questions, it just offers comfort for the pain, and trust in the sovereignty of God. In a class of “debating 101″ I have committed the ultimate “no-no” by leaving myself wide open for criticism. Sometimes, however, there are responses in which what I believe to be the truth, makes me vulnerable.

    I believe that these cults’ followers basically joined of their own free will. To what extent they stayed by free will or force, I do not know. The people chosen as guards had to be as deceived as their leader. The time involved from when they realized that they would die until their actual deaths was somewhere between a few minutes to a few days. This is based on the news reports that I watched. Their demise, I believe, was in stark contrast to the years the disciples followed Jesus, denied Him at the most critical of times, Hid in cowardly fear, then were confronted by the risen Lord. By the end of 40 days of Godly encouragement, these cowards became the bravest of men. They went out and proclaimed Jesus as Lord, in spite of the imprisonment, torture, and eventual death by the cruelest of methods. They suffered for many years. Then they came to the point of the ultimate decision, in which they could deny Jesus and live, or stick to their faith and die a painful and terror filled death. And these cowards were 10 for 10 in this-faith versus opportunity- decision. If they were in on a deception, I believe some, if not all, would have denied and ran.

    As far as “honing my arguements”, I will get back to you when I am a little sharper. (I am not sure this is important, but I do have a book by Tacitus around here, somewhere.)

    As I understand, the reason the question about John has been raised is, that the Book of Revelation has a different literary style than the other 4 Books of John. I have brought this question up frequently through teachers and text books, and I am convinced that they are one in the same. Since I am as about as far from being a literary expert as one can be, I can not expound any further.

    Yes, we do both have our “German scientists”. I find it enjoyable to discuss and debate their findings, and enlightening as well.

    I recently purchased a ticket for a drawing at my local library. And I won. The grand prize was a lifetime supply of “commas”, and as you probably have noticed, I am trying to get my money’s worth,,,
    thanks for the discussion, g,f,b,

  70. #71 Robert O'Brien
    September 30, 2008

    http://roman-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/pliny_tacitus_josephus_and_jesus

    (It took me about two minutes to find that online.)

    This is why you do not get your information online. The Greek text of the “Testimonium Flavianum” has been corrupted but there are other versions, most notably the Arabic version discovered by Shlomo Pines, that lack the obvious Christian glosses.

    And Tacitus is not “too late.” Ex post facto historical accounts are very common in antiquity and they are not necessarily unreliable.

  71. #72 JimV
    September 30, 2008

    GFB,

    Personally, I do not enjoy debates. I do like the opportunity to explain my worldview and why I hold it rather than others which are not consistent with it. In a debate, at least in common practice, the objective becomes to score points by seizing on imperfections in the way the opponent expresses his or her worldview.

    I rarely go through a day without observing something which confirms my worldview by being consistent with it. For instance, Michael Phelps beating on his chest and hooting like any victorious primate after his relay team won at the Olympics.

    Although there are many things I do not understand and will never understand, that too is consistent with my worldview.

    For you, Dionysus is a myth and Jesus is not. For me, it seems possible that both were people who inspired cult followings and around whom legends accreted over time, the main differences being the relative age and different success of their cults due to historical contingencies such as Christianity being adopted by a Roman Emperor. To his ancient Grecian followers, Dionysus was not a myth. I say this not to disparage your scholarship but to show you that different viewpoints exist.

  72. #73 GFB
    September 30, 2008

    JimV

    I respectfully stand corrected. I use the term “debate” incorrectly, much to generalized. Similar to “kleenex” as opposed to facial tissue. I much prefer you perspective, although at times it must be hard to see because I tend to get a little over enthusiastic.

    I have a similar type of daily confirmations, although mine are generally spiritual in nature. An act of kindness, expression of love, or the denial of oneself’s desires for the betterment of others are what I look for.

    As for Dionysus and Jesus comparison, this falls in the ‘German scientist’ category. I just can’t seem to follow you train of thought. But seeing that we have both stated our perspectives more than once, I believe it is time to “let it go”. There are too many other facets of interest to our world views to continue to unproductively “kick a dead horse”.

    Thanks for the complement, but I do not believe I possess any scholarship. I am probably the least educated and intellectual contributor to this site. And I do not say this with any false humility, just what I believe to be a statement of fact. Before coming here, I tried to enter another E. vs C. discussion, but my first (and only) submission was rejected because I was essentially told that I was an “insult to the intelligence of the members and that I would be given only 1 more attempt to clean it up before being permanently removed.” So, I left. Although I do not believe they were accurate in their
    assessment, I also do not harbor any thoughts of being to the other extreme either.

  73. #74 GFB
    September 30, 2008

    How about a new topic?

    Do today”s evolutionists consider the “Miller experiment” do be successful? why?

  74. #75 GFB
    September 30, 2008

    “to not do”

  75. #76 JimV
    October 1, 2008

    GFB,

    This will probably be my last comment, as I have exhausted most of my insights and begun to repeat myself. I would like to add, however, that acts of kindness and self-sacrifice are also consistent with my worldview. Very briefly, such emotions have evolutionary advantages with respect to the raising of children and development of successful communities, so if they did not exist, evolution would sooner or later invent them – which I think it did. (They have been observed in other animals besides humans.)

    As you see, I find the Theory of Evolution quite convincing, but my specific knowledge is in mechanical engineering rather than in biology, so I am not qualified to discuss it very deeply. As a starter on the Miller experiment however, I will repeat what I have learned from others:

    a) Not all “evolutionists” consider the origin of life – abiogenesis – to be part of evolution per se, but rather a separate field of study. Their main point is that regardless of how the first genetic replicator formed, evolution (change of genetic populations over time by contingent events selecting winners and losers from among genetic variations) was bound to proceed from that point on.

    b) the Miller experiment was perhaps the founding experiment in the field of abiogenesis, similar in that respect to Galileo dropping masses from the Tower of Pisa. It was based on what was believed about early Earth conditions at the time, but since then there have been other opinions about those conditions. More recently, the pendulum has swung a bit back. Despite over ten minutes Googling, I have not found the articles which I originally read on this subject, but have found this, which seems like a good overview:

    http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0030396

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