Friday, March 20, 2009

Craig Debate Wrap

The Carrier-Craig resurrection debate went down the night before last. I'm finally home and rested. Here's just a quick report on what went down.

As I had predicted, I didn't win the debate. As I said before the debate in comments to the previous post on this, "it always takes twice as much time to rebut an assertion as to make one, so the fact that both parties have equal time all but entails the affirmative position will always win on any technical measure," by thus having twice as many unanswered arguments by the end. Which is why I said (and this is my view of all oral debates, though I was speaking particularly of this one):
My aim is not to win. That's impossible, as I just noted above the dissenting position can never win a debate. My aim is only to communicate to the public why I don't find his arguments persuasive and why they shouldn't either. If the effect is to sow seeds of doubt among fence-sitters and believers, arm nonbelievers with better information, and dispel myths clung to by both sides, it will be worth my time regardless of any technical score.
By that measure, I think I modestly accomplished my goal. And my prediction came true, of course: I'd estimate he had more than twice as many arguments (mainly in rebuttals) left unanswered as I could respond to. But even with that in mind, I wasn't happy with my performance. My rebuttals were disorganized, I stumbled over sentences too often, and my time management was poor (I didn't hit all the points I wanted to). On all three points I learned a great deal, which will improve my proficiency in future debates considerably. I fully acknowledge Craig's skills as a debater are far more polished than mine (or anyone's), but I knew that going in.

I also made at least one serious mistake in the debate. Dr. Craig quoted my old online work, which I had completely forgotten about, and I accused him of misattributing a "Casper the Ghost" analogy to me, that in fact I had used way back in 1998. When I responded I was thinking of my work in The Empty Tomb (where I don't use that analogy) and subsequent material (like the O'Connell debate and my Spiritual Body FAQ), which I thought he was responding to. I apologized to Craig the next morning. He was quite alright with it. In fact, we got along well. Having lunch with him the day before, then driving to the airport with him for more than an hour the day after, I found Dr. Craig quite friendly and understanding. I can say I understand him better now than I did before. Another big side benefit for me was that thinking over Craig's position against my key argument regarding the Gospels inspired a "eureka!" moment on the plane ride home. I landed with a rock solid Bayesian proof of my position, scribbled out on the hotel writing pad I'd been using for notes the whole trip. I'll be able to include that in my book, which will make it a great deal stronger than even I had expected.

To summarize my end of the debate, my tack was that Craig only has two sources of evidence: the Gospels and the Epistles. But the Gospels can't be trusted (because they exhibit a different authorial intent than recording fact) and the Epistles don't tell us anything sufficient to make the case (since they never mention anyone finding an empty grave, and only confirm that a group of fanatics who hallucinated regularly saw Jesus after he died, which hardly requires a miracle to explain). Craig barely rebutted the latter argument. He focused almost entirely on protecting the Gospels as historical sources, and it was there that his shotgun of arguments got well ahead of my ability to catch up. There were a few side issues we sparred on as well, such as the relevance of the evidence in Acts (he defended the street sermons, I defended the silence of Acts on any accusations or inquests by the authorities concerning any missing body), and whether his theory predicts anything differently than naturalistic theories do (e.g. whether Jesus would have appeared more widely to communicate his message).

If anyone agreed with my first fact (the Gospels can't be trusted on historical details), many of Craig's arguments automatically became irrelevant (since they depended, overtly or covertly, on the Gospels as sources of information). And my second argument he pretty much left intact. But he still made many relevant arguments I failed to get to. Although I fully expected that would be the case. Afterward, Q&A offered some good chances to shore up my argument. I would say Q&A was rather important this time--usually I find it doesn't advance matters much, but I think it did in this case.

There were close to a thousand in attendance (certainly no fewer than eight hundred), almost all Christians, mainly from the MSU campus and the Northwest Missouri area, plus near a hundred or so from farther off or out of state. Despite the hostile audience (who took delight in Craig calling me a krank, for example, or belittling my ability to interpret texts), the questioners were all polite and mostly asked really good questions, and many Christians came up to me in polite conversation afterward. Overall it was a good experience for me, but not my best debate. There are too many things I would have done differently in my rebuttals, if I had time to rethink what points to hit and when (though my opening I still wouldn't change).

Many already responded to the debate in comments to my previous blog announcing the debate. Instead of there, I will answer some of those responses in comments here (below).

161 comments:

Brian said...

Richard,
I appreciate the recap and insights into the debate. Thanks for posting it.

For those who have yet to listen, MP3 Audio of the Craig/Carrier debate can be found here.

The Science Pundit said...

I look forward to your new Bayesian proof.

Eric said...

Hi Richard

You wrote:

"In fact, we got along well. Having lunch with him the day before, then driving to the airport with him for more than an hour the day after, I found Dr. Craig quite friendly and understanding. I can say I understand him better now than I did before."

I'm wondering if the time you spent with Craig has given you any reasons to reconsider what you wrote here:

"So far there is only one apologist I know whom I actually trust as honest: Victor Reppert. I think he tells the truth as he sees it and doesn't make sh*t up or play rhetorical games or get angry when he runs out of arguments. That doesn't mean I consider all others to be dishonest, since most I simply don't know well enough to say either way. But those I do know a lot about (e.g. Habermas, Geivett, Craig, etc.) I just don't trust--or in some cases, actively distrust."

David Fitzgerald said...

Craig called you a krank? (?!?!?!)What the hell was that all about. In any case, that's low...

AIGBusted said...

Hi Richard,

I have a question. You say that (And I'm paraphrasing here):

1. There was little or no bias against women in a court of law in 1st Century Judea.

And:

2. Mark placed the women at the empty tomb to show that the least would be first, implying that there was some bias against women.

Isn't this contradictory or have I misunderstood you?

unBeguiled said...

Eric,

Craig's dishonesty is well documented, here, for example.

Dr. Craig is an apologist. His goal is to defend a certain position. That is quite different from someone who is primarily interested in what is most likely true.

Being a generally pleasant and nice person does not entail honesty.

Religions in general, and Christian Apologetics in particular, is systematic dishonesty.

zemi said...

I didn't hear the debate yet, but I'm waiting very much for it! I appreciate your review of the debate. I also read what what is written about it on WLC's page (in the debate section) by some who were present there.

You write here (which is basically the summary of what you wrote in the preview of the debate):
"If anyone agreed with my first fact (the Gospels can't be trusted on historical details), many of Craig's arguments automatically became irrelevant (since they depended, overtly or covertly, on the Gospels as sources of information)."

But look at WLC's reasponse to this on his site ("Question of the week - Question 100"). I know WLC's is generally unwilling to discuss these matters, but I think he's got a good argument here (in his response). I would wonder what you think.

ChristianJR4 said...

unBeguiled, that's your example of Craig's dishonesty? So because Craig doesn't accept Stenger's objections therefore he is lying? What a joke! This interview totally made me think less of Vic Stenger after I listened to it. What about all the counter responses Craig gave to him when they debated. Maybe he should accept them instead of the other way around. I think Stenger is just being fussy that Craig didn't buy his arguments. What's worse though is that Stenger didn't even represent accurately what Craig holds to. For example, Stenger said that on Quantum mechanics events are uncaused and he accused Craig of denying that (and therefore Craig was wrong on premise 1 of the KCA) but Craig has never said that quantum events don't have causes. Rather, he said that things don't come into existence without a cause, even on quantum theory (which is true). Craig actually believes in random events that don't have causes so for Stenger to call him a liar when he didn't even understand Craig's argument is telling. I'm not surprised one bit though. I uploaded the lecture that Craig gave at UC that Stenger referred to and of which he attended himself. He couldn't seem to grasp at all what Craig was saying. I think Stenger is a fine physicist, but he has a lot of trouble understanding philosophical arguments and the subtleties in them.

unBeguiled said:
"Being a generally pleasant and nice person does not entail honesty."

Listening to an interview in which someone calls another person a liar does not entail he is necessarily telling the truth either.

AIGBusted said...

Christian, Quantum Mechanics does imply that things begin to exist without a cause. Quantum Fluctuations are a good example of this.

ChristianJR4 said...

No they don't, and it's quite telling that Stenger didn't give any such examples except for ones that Craig already accepts. Quantum flucuations are not an example since they come from the sub-atomic vaccuum (hence that's their cause). Anyways, this is besides the point. The point is that the examples Stenger brought up as refuting Craig does not (since it's not part of the argument) and Craig accepts such events anyhow.

AIGBusted said...

Christian,

Quantum Fluctuations are particles which come into existence completely uncaused. As far as we know, they do not occur outside of space, so they do not appear from "nothing". However, they are still uncaused.

But this is beside the point. Scientists have worked out ways for the universe to come into existence out of nothing and completely uncaused. See "Many Worlds in One" by Alex Vilenkin.

ChristianJR4 said...

AIG, they get there existence from the vacuum, and specifically so, not just because it must be that way since they can't occur outside of space. The energy that arises in the flucuations arises from the energy in the sub atomic vaccuum.

Here's a better way of putting your last statement. Scientists are working on figuring out ways for the universe to come into existence from nothing. They have models, but no one is sure if they are true or possible. It's ironic that you brought up Vilenkin, since it was he, along with others, that virtually proved that all Universes have a beginning and yet Stenger also accused Craig of being a liar because he didn't accept that the Universe didn't need a beginning.

Anyhow, this is sort of off topic as before. I don't really care to debate all of this. Think what you want on this. I only brought this up because Stenger misrepresented Craig's position on this, as well as misunderstood the argument, all the while calling him a liar for it.

unBeguiled said...

ChristianJR4,

No data is available prior to the first planck time. Craig gloms on to this gap in knowledge, labels it a "beginning", and off he goes with his "proof".

An honest person would say "Prior to the first plank time, we have no data."

Craig has a conclusion, and constructs arguments based on ignorance in an attempt to justify he superstition. He misuses science. He misuses logic. He is dishonest.

ChristianJR4 said...

I really grow tire of these silly accusations. They are so emotionally loaded that if anything, they say more about the person who says them then the person who they are directed at.

"No data is available prior to the first planck time. Craig gloms on to this gap in knowledge, labels it a "beginning", and off he goes with his "proof"."

And yet that doesn't stop a great many cosmologists from saying the Universe had a beginning anyways. Are they lying, are they purposely being dishonest? Be consistent!

"Craig has a conclusion, and constructs arguments based on ignorance in an attempt to justify he superstition. He misuses science. He misuses logic. He is dishonest."

It's funny how Craig, as the dishonest and abusive person (of science) that he is, manages to become one of the top philosophers of Religion in the world today because of his arguments (KCA). I do wonder how the logic works on that one. For all the misuses of science and logic that he does, you sure wouldn't expect his Kalam Cosmological Argument to dominate for over 20 years and now become the most widely discussed contemporary argument for God's existence in the philosophy journals today.

Here's a better explanation. You and others have valid academic disagreements with Dr. Craig, and Dr. Craig has valid academic disagreements with you and others. No reason to call him dishonest and a liar because of that.

unBeguiled said...

"[Craig] manages to become one of the top philosophers of Religion in the world today because of his arguments (KCA)"

Have you read King Rat by James Clavell?

AIGBusted said...

"The energy that arises in the flucuations arises from the energy in the sub atomic vaccuum."

A fluctuation is the creation of a particle/antiparticle pair in the vacuum. This is completely spontaneous and uncaused. See here:
http://universe-review.ca/R03-01-quantumflu.htm

Now, as for Vilenkin's model, it does call for a beginning. But his model is just one plausible model among many. There are lots of other models which do not require a beginning. So atheists have a perfectly plausible way out of Craig's premise "The Universe began to exist".

"It's funny how Craig, as the dishonest and abusive person (of science) that he is, manages to become one of the top philosophers of Religion in the world today because of his arguments (KCA). I do wonder how the logic works on that one. For all the misuses of science and logic that he does, you sure wouldn't expect his Kalam Cosmological Argument to dominate for over 20 years and now become the most widely discussed contemporary argument for God's existence in the philosophy journals today."

I never claimed that Craig was dishonest, although you may not be referring to me here. I feel very strongly that Craig is wrong, maybe even dogmatic, but I don't see any evidence that he is immoral or dishonest. I think he often does not seriously consider some objections to his argument, but that is something most human beings do. It's not right, but it may not indicate dishonesty on Craig's part.

Craig's argument is discussed a lot in contemporary journals, but from what I have seen, most of this is arguments against the Kalam, not for it. Even many Christians (like Richard Swinburne) disagree with Craig's assertion that God is outside of time (rather than existing someplace where time goes on forever and ever).

dvd said...

I think calling people "liars" is a bit strong. I am sure everyone including Craig has acted in ways that they later thought could have been better, but STenger went to far there and he sounded bitter to me.

Its interesting, when you bump into some of these guys like Habermas and or Craig, they actually have some really kind words for CArrier or Robert Price etc.

I bumped into Habermas once at the airport by chance and he was a great guy, who is just like he is on camera. Told me that Price was a bright guy, and seems to have a genuine interest what others think.

unBeguiled said...

I am the only one here calling WLC dishonest so I think ChristianJR4's comments were to me.

I think Robert Price summed up Craig well:

And it's also just nonsense, another tricky shell-game on behalf of a higher Truth. I'm not saying Craig is wittingly distorting the truth to win his point. No, it's worse than that: he is so committed to a dogmatic party line that he cannot see "truth" as meaning anything but that party-line dogma. By definition, his gospel could never prove untrue because he has begun by defining it as the truth. In Craig's lexicon, you look up "truth" and it says "see gospel".

I suspect ChristianJR4 operates with a similar epistemology.

Steven Carr said...

Almost a thousand people there?

Well it was a well-advertised event, and the USA is a populous nation.

Apparently, 500+ of the brethren met together and saw Jesus in the short interval between the empty tomb and Jesus ascending into the sky , on his way to Heaven.

I wonder what the advertising budget was for that meeting to geta crowd of 500+ Christians.

Must have been quite big....

It must have been pretty hush-hush, as I'm sure the Romans would have noticed if 500+ followers of a recently killed Messianic candidate started massing , just weeks after they had tried to crush such things.

There is just no way the Gospel stories can be reconciled with a vast crowd of 500+ Christians gathering together to see Jesus on his farewell tour before leaving to Heaven.

It is an absurd number.

Corruption, thy name is 'Biblical text'

D said...

I am so diaspponited in Richard Carrier. The guy just kept referring to his book that he had displayed.

And, then he writes on his blog that he had a "eureka" moment (on the way home) that will be added to his new book.

Come on man!

It appears to me that Richard Carrier is just interested in selling his books!

Very disappointing.

tom said...

Or maybe he found it valuable to reference material that he didn't have time to adequately explain during the debate.
And you really have a problem with him mentioning on his own blog that he has new material for his book?

Very dim.

blindingimpediments said...

Taken from the reference (http://universe-review.ca/R03-01-quantumflu.htm)
"In classical physics (appliable to macroscopic phenomena), empty space-time is called the vacuum. The classical vacuum is utterly featureless. However, in quantum mechanics (appliable to microscopic phenomena), the vacuum is a much more complex entity. It is far from featureless and far from empty. The quantum vacuum is just one particular state of a quantum field (corresponding to some particles). It is the quantum mechanical state in which no field quanta are excited, that is, no particles are present. Hence, it is the "ground state" of the quantum field, the state of minimum energy. The picture on the left illustrates the kind of activities going on in a quantum vacuum. It shows particle pairs appear, lead a brief existence, and then annihilate one another in accordance with the Uncertainty Principle."
sounds like you need specific conditions in order for these particles to appear. without these conditions, can you still have spontaneously appearing particles? The website mentions that the quantum vacuum is an entity representing the ground state of a quantum field. So doesn't this imply that the quantum field is the cause of the spontaneous particles?

philip m said...

"Now, as for Vilenkin's model, it does call for a beginning. But his model is just one plausible model among many. There are lots of other models which do not require a beginning. So atheists have a perfectly plausible way out of Craig's premise "The Universe began to exist"."

At his dialogue on the Kalam Cosmological Argument with Wes Morriston two days before the debate with Carrier, Craig mentioned that in the new Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology there will be a section written by J.D. Sinclair on current cosmology and all the competing theories concerning the beginning of the universe. It will be a supplement to Craig's section dealing with the philosophical arguments for a beginning of the universe.

Also, Craig did not call Ricahrd a "krank" (which is not a word). Rather, in reference to, from what I remember, Carrier's analysis about why the women at the tomb were a myth, he said that it was "crank exegesis," where 'crank' means 'unstable, unshaky, unsteady' according to the first definition for the adjective at dictionary.com.

I think the idea that a negative can never win a debate is a rather faulty one. I do college policy debates, and for those the negative does not even know what case the affirmative will be running until they start speaking. The check is that they know what the resolution is (this year the plan has to do with the USFG building a relationship with Cuba), so they have general ideas what is going on. But affirmative gets all the time in the world to research their evidence and plan, and the negative has to respond to it on the spot, and then the affirmative gets the only closing speech.

In this format both have equal time in all debates, the topic is known, and both people are experts. The quantity of assertion is really irrelevant to how people decide who won the debate. If you pick the few most important ideas in the debate and win those, you'll win the debate. Interestingly enough, I think one of the only times a negative could win a debate is against Craig specifically, since he uses the same structure, arguments, and quotes for his debates about the resurrection every time. If you think the negative can't win the debate, you must think that the negative has an obligation to construct their own case, *and* respond to everything the affirmative said. That's clearly false.

I think part of the problem is that you brought up the general reliability of the Gospels. The argument went like this:

1. The Gospels are unreliable on many points.
2. The Resurrection narratives are in the Gospels.
3. Therefore we can't trust the Resurrection narratives.

Clearly, premise 1 takes far too much substantiation to be workable in a debate. Not to mention, the logic here is not even valid. Premise 1 would have to be, "Every single story in the Gospels is unreliable" in order for it to apply to the Resurrection narratives. Thus, if you want to throw out the Resurrection narratives as myths, it seems a direct assault is the only option. I think part of your case was to go from 'these few narratives are myths' to 'therefore, the Gospel authors only intended to record myth' which I don't know think is a valid move either. There are lots of Christian scholars who don't think certain stories are history in the Gospel, so it isn't even clear that an author can only have one intention.

So the way to do it would be unload on one of Craig's four facts, like the empty tomb, and then spend the rest of the time arguing about the best explanation of the other facts. If you win those points, you win the debate. Sure he'll say that 'And he didn't respond to this point' for everything else, but who cares? If anything, because *all* of the affirmative's points must be true for their case to work, and only *one* of the negative's main claims must be true for them to win, if anything, the negative has the advantage in a debate on the topic.

Steven Carr said...

'Carrier's analysis about why the women at the tomb were a myth...'


So Craig never produced any evidence for the existence of Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna , Salome, or any of the women there.

Not one person ever named himself as having seen any of those women, or as meeting a named person who claimed he had spoken to any of them.

They even disappear from Acts, and from church history, - as though they had never existed....

As for general reliability, what does the Bible claim about the credibility of witnesses who agree on the main points of their testimony, but whose testimony differs in the details?

Mark 14
For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,

We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.


But neither so did their witness agree together.


You can even now hear Craig scoffing at the idea that these witnesses had to be generally reliable.

Look, Craig would probably say. These witnesses agree on the main point that they heard Jesus say 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'

Craig would then claim this was a multiply , independently attested fact, and there was no collusion because the witnesses did not agree together.

A shoddy argument, that even the Biblical authors take for granted is false....

Keith said...

Richard,
I just listened to the debate and I think you did a better job than you're giving yourself credit for. I look forward to reading this "rock solid Bayesian proof" that developed on the plane ride home. How is the book coming along? Will you be giving a progress report soon?

Matthew said...

So Craig never produced any evidence for the existence of Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Joanna , Salome, or any of the women there.

Carr, do you realize that many people think you are closely related to the guy who runs theintelligentzone.blogspot ?

Jeanne said...

Phil,

Are you implying it's most likely that God intends for the readers of the bible to sift through non-truths and disparities from the truth, even in the same gospel?

If not, Carrier's analysis on new testament inconsistencies is sound.

If you are, I suggest you reflect on what sagan wrote:

"What I'm saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job."

Whether or not the resurrection occurred is thus relevant to the entire contents of the bible. The only exceptions are if God was comfortable sending the heaven or hell message through a clearly blemished and delusive means. Or if God was not capable of sending a message through a more perfect means. That leaves the bar pretty low for religion, wouldn't you agree?

Tsumetai said...

Quantum Fluctuations are particles...

No. Virtual particles are a consequence of quantum fluctuation. They arise because the energy of a quantum system is uncertain, permitting it to pass through intermediate states which would be classically forbidden. So, for example, the transition:

vacuum -> particle-antiparticle pair -> vacuum

is classically forbidden, because the energy of the intermediate state is higher than that of the initial and final states. However, according to QM, over any given period of time, the energy of a quantum state is uncertain. And the shorter the time, the larger the uncertainty. Therefore, over a sufficiently short period of time, the energy of the intermediate state might actually be the same as that of the initial and final states, making the transition possible.

AIG, they get there existence from the vacuum, and specifically so, not just because it must be that way since they can't occur outside of space. The energy that arises in the flucuations arises from the energy in the sub atomic vaccuum.

No. If it was just a question of acquiring energy from some other source, we wouldn't need to invoke QM in the first place. In any case, this is just a bait-and-switch. It doesn't address the fact that virtual particles are acausal at all.

sounds like you need specific conditions in order for these particles to appear. without these conditions, can you still have spontaneously appearing particles? The website mentions that the quantum vacuum is an entity representing the ground state of a quantum field. So doesn't this imply that the quantum field is the cause of the spontaneous particles?

Not exactly. In fact, in the field-theory approach, particles are excitations of quantum fields. Just as the ground state of a quantum field corresponds to the vacuum, higher energy states of the field correspond to the existence of one or more particles described by that field. So, under QFT, the correct way to describe this scenario is to say that a single entity, the quantum field, is acausally switching from ground state to a different state and back again.

This underlines one of the bigger conceptual problems with Kalaam; what's the difference between something beginning to exist, and something changing form? You can reasonably describe virtual particles in either way. Choose the former, and the statement "anything which begins to exist has a cause" is false. Choose the latter, and it's not at all clear that we have any examples of anything which actually began to exist, leaving the statement without empirical support.

Tsumetai said...

And yet that doesn't stop a great many cosmologists from saying the Universe had a beginning anyways.

Really? How many? Who? I'm sure there are plenty of pop-science articles which might read that way. Probably a fair few cosmologists with a personal opinion one way or the other, too. But I doubt you'd be able to find many who would dispute the fact that the question of whether or not the Universe is past-eternal is still very much an open one.

For all the misuses of science and logic that he does, you sure wouldn't expect his Kalam Cosmological Argument to dominate for over 20 years and now become the most widely discussed contemporary argument for God's existence in the philosophy journals today.

If true, all that means is that philosophers are fairly clueless about cosmological physics. Kalam is an atrocious argument. The first premise - "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" - is either false or undetermined, as per my previous post. The second premise - "The universe began to exist" - is undetermined. And even if both premises are true, it still fails to establish the existence of a first cause, since it doesn't rule out scenarios where A causes B to begin to exist, and B causes A to begin to exist. If that's the best theistic argument the philosophical community has to offer...

unBeguiled said...

Kalam is an atrocious argument.

Yet so many Christians seem to think this silly syllogism is somehow compelling.

Each time I encounter these horrible "arguments", I always think the same thing: is this guy serious? If he finds that argument compelling, then there is something horribly wrong with his cognitive function.

Of course, I suppose it could be me that can't think clearly.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I suspect that atheists can learn from other atheists how best to handle Habermas and Craig:

Two Superb Performances from Atheists in Debate:

http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com/2009/02/two-superb-performances-from-atheists.html

Pikemann Urge said...

Edward, although IMO there is a kind of spiritual aspect to our existence, the following is undeniable whatever one thinks (quoting from the page you linked to):

"Once we permit miraculous explanations, how do we adjudicate between competing miraculous explanations? What is the justification for preferring one to the other?"

It's so simple and yet so powerful an arguement! My point here is that nobody's version of the 'truth' in these matters has de facto priority over anyone else's.

John W. Loftus said...

I didn't think Carrier did badly although I do question why he focused on that which he did.

Still, even if Dr. Craig won this debate as some have said, what does that show? Nothing that I can tell, at least not to me. Craig is a formidable debater having started out by being on a High School debate team. And Craig is very knowledgeable on these issues having written or contributed to many books on these topics. One would guess there isn't anything an opponent could say that Craig hasn't already considered before. And given his huge advantage as a skilled debater his opponents don't have much of a chance to win.

But Craig is wrong. Jesus did not rise up from the dead. Craig is merely giving answers to beliefs he adopted in his teenage years for less than intelligent reasons. Dead people do not rise up from the grave. They can't. Such a thing is fairy tale wishful thinking unbecoming of what best represents scholarship. He has a presumption in favor of that which he seeks to defend. He marshall's together all of the confirming evidence based upon conjecture after conjecture, and he discounts all of the disconfirming evidence. I'm not saying this is intellectual dishonesty, but if anyone is actually persuaded by his historical case then I have a piece of property on Mars I want to sell him. Such a person is deluded.

There can be no historical confirmation of such an event that would ever persuade an intellectually honest person. One must first be able to cross over Lessing's Broad Ugly Ditch, which cannot be done with historical evidence. Hence Craig's case is doomed. He even admitted so in a Q & A about Lessing's ditch. So the rest is a shell game, a charade, a sham. He's like an emperor with no clothes on smiling at the crowds as he parades down the streets where everyone pretends not to notice he's naked. He is naked. I can see this plain as day, and it's very embarrassing.

Debate skills don't prove anything to me. Even having the knowledge Craig has doesn't prove anything to me. People can have a great deal of knowledge more than I do on a topic and be dead wrong about their conclusions. That describes Craig. He's a deluded man--a brainwashed man from his youth. A likeable man, no doubt, for I like him a great deal and consider him a friend. But he desperately needs an intervention soon.

John W. Loftus said...

I want a crack at Craig next.

blindingimpediments said...

“sounds like you need specific conditions in order for these particles to appear. without these conditions, can you still have spontaneously appearing particles? The website mentions that the quantum vacuum is an entity representing the ground state of a quantum field. So doesn't this imply that the quantum field is the cause of the spontaneous particles?

Not exactly. In fact, in the field-theory approach, particles are excitations of quantum fields. Just as the ground state of a quantum field corresponds to the vacuum, higher energy states of the field correspond to the existence of one or more particles described by that field. So, under QFT, the correct way to describe this scenario is to say that a single entity, the quantum field, is acausally switching from ground state to a different state and back again.”

Thanks for taking the time to explain this difficult concept. So as I understand it, the particles that spontaneously appear are simply a change in state of the quantum field from a low energy state to a high energy state (in a random manner). So basically, the particles are simply a feature of this quantum field and without such a quantum field, there would be no particles at all. So is it a fair question to ask where this quantum field/vacuum came from? I mean a quantum field/vacuum is considered to be a “something” and not a “nothing” right? I mean, the website that was referenced called the quantum vacuum an “entity” and differentiated it from an empty space-time vacuum (which I would assume would not have particles spontaneously appearing). Did this quantum vacuum “come into existence” at the time of the big bang? And if it did does that not mean that this quantum vacuum “began to exist” from nothing and hence, these spontaneous particles also “began to exist” from nothing? Just as everything else in the universe “began to exist” out of nothing at the moment of the big bang?

AIGBusted said...

"So is it a fair question to ask where this quantum field/vacuum came from?"

Yes, it is. And I don't think anyone knows the answer to this, at least not with certainty.


"I mean a quantum field/vacuum is considered to be a “something” and not a “nothing” right?"

Correct.

"Did this quantum vacuum “come into existence” at the time of the big bang?"

I do not know. I could have, I guess.

"And if it did does that not mean that this quantum vacuum “began to exist” from nothing and hence, these spontaneous particles also “began to exist” from nothing?"

These particles did not begin to exist at the big bang, although the quantum vacuum may have. But the point I made still stands: These particles are not caused. It remains to be seen whether they could pop into being in "nothingness", but they are still not caused.

blindingimpediments said...

Ok… one more time for clarification. Because I am dense and still kind of confused. Maybe it’s just semantics. Within this entity called the quantum vacuum that may or may not have it’s origins in the big bang, particles spontaneously pop into existence. These particles have not been observed to pop into existence from an actual vacuum of “nothingness” but only do so in a vacuum of “something” which we call the quantum vacuum. So for all intensive purposes, spontaneous particles are an exclusive property of this quantum vacuum.
Doesn’t this suggest that there is a least some sort of correlation between this “something” and the spontaneous popping particles? I mean if a particle pops into existence isn’t it only because there is this “something” within this quantum vacuum that allows for this phenomenon to take place? How strong of a correlation does one need before you can call it a cause? I mean on first glance I would think that the quantum flux caused the popping of the particle.
However, I just read in a previous comment that another way of looking at it is that the popping particles are simply a changing in form. But if that is the case, isn’t the popping particles simply a unique characteristic or feature of the quantum vacuum. So I guess then from that point of view, there really isn’t a direct cause for the particles since it’s simply a feature of the quantum vacuum. But then could I extrapolate that whatever caused the quantum vacuum to exist would be the same cause for the particles since the spontaneous particles are a unique and necessary feature of the quantum vacuum (I assume that it would not be considered a quantum vacuum if it did not have the potential to have spontaneous particles)?
Yeah… I’m pretty sure I probably won’t comprehend this in the end. But I though I would just give it a cursory try. If I don’t get it this time, I won’t bother you guys anymore about this topic and I’ll try to figure it out on my own.
Thanks.

Solon said...

>>I landed with a rock solid Bayesian proof of my position

That is as foolish as someone thinking he can prove Jesus came back from the dead. As foolish as the other "proofs" of ethical "truths" you preach so as to comfort people about life.

Why you respond to all this silly Christian minutiae and thus give their main point any credence is bewildering. The main point is they can not prove their singular miracle and to claim otherwise is intellectually embarrassing. It merits laughter, not pedantic argument.

>>If the effect is to sow seeds of doubt among fence-sitters and believers

Except the foundation of their belief is not reason, it is need. Laughter does it better than any argument. So argument is not only foolish but, as you deploy it in your overall project, dishonest. They cannot, as you preach, fulfill their need through reason despite your various "proofs" about life. Methadone isn't the answer to heroin addiction.

When are you going to come clean, Richard?

Anthony said...

I'm been noting over at Debunking Christianity how Craig poisoned the well during his discussion of presuppositions. Craig says regarding Richard's view of Jesus historicity, that it is an "extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that there was no such person in history. This is a position so extreme to call it marginal would be an understatement..."

I found one person in the Christian blogosphere who stated that because of Richard's view of Jesus that it "almost makes him not worth listening to on any point..." I wonder how many in the listening audience thought the same thing after Craig made his statement.

Amenhotep said...

Goodness me - Craig never really changes the record, does he? Wasn't this essentially the same debate (as in his proposal) that he has had with Bart Ehrman and many others? The 4 points that "need to be explained" - burial of Jesus, empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances & effect on disciples - all done before.

The funny thing is this: you can ACCEPT points 1 and 2 for the sake of argument, and ALL he has to go on are ghostie stories, which do not appear in our earliest "source" (i.e. the hearsay gospel of Mark), and are mutually contradictory in the other "gospels". The post-resurrection "appearances" are tawdry rubbish.

I *do* accept a historical Jesus, and moreover I think Mark is not too far off the mark (if I may be pardonned a pun). By FAR the most likely explanation for Craig's points 1 & 2 are that Jesus was indeed placed temporarily in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb for the purposes of the Passover, and his body was taken back to Capernaum by his family, as the "young man" at the tomb told the women, and as (at least in John) the women appear to have initially believed.

Of course no-one can prove this scenario, but it is actually a very fair reading of the actual gospel evidence (and accords with Matthew's whinge).

Points 3 and 4 are common to loads of religions, and amount to basic post hoc assertions - they are not evidence.

So, Richard, you did as good a job as anyone could have in the circumstances, but for future debates with Craig on this topic, I would suggest the demolition of points 3 & 4, and leave 1 & 2 to look after themselves - they add nothing to his argument, which is based entirely on getting people to swallow what is reasonable (1&2) before sticking in the unreasonable (3), and the universal trans-religious phenomenon (4).

Cheers,
-A

kilo papa said...

I find it interesting that Craig says that the Apostle Paul saw a bodily appearance of Jesus during the time of the original appearances to the diciples. He says that Pauls statement in 1 Cor.15 that Jesus appeared "also unto me" refers to that appearance. However, this is what Craig says about that appearance in an article on his website-..."in placing himself on the list Paul is not trying to put the others' experiences on a plane with his on but,if anything, is rather trying to level up his own experience to the objectivity and reality of the others." Craig now seems to believe that Paul was indeed
placing his experience "on a plane" with the diciples.If Craig now believes that Paul saw a bodily appearance of Jesus during the same time of the diciples then when did Paul become a "beliver" in Jesus and what does Craig make of the Damascus Road converision in Acts?

paul01 said...

Blindingimpediments

I would say that the vacuum is a necessary condition for the spontaneous generation of particles, but not a sufficient condition. There is absolutely no way to predict when or if a particle will appear.

Part of the Kalaam argument is that the cause of the universe coming to exist must be an agent because if it was a mechanical cause there is no reason for it to act at one instant rather than another. But in the case of spontaneous generation of particles, or of happenings within the Planck time, no explanation is needed.

quine said...

Amenhotep,

Actually, Mark is not the earliest source--Paul's letters are, particularly 1 Corinthians (around 50 AD), in which the resurrection appearances to the disciples are described (in creedal material that the consensus of scholars acknowledges goes back to within 5 years of the crucifixion).

Steven Carr said...

The resurrection appearances are not described.

Even when trying to teach on the nature of the resurrection body, Paul uses not one single solitary detail from the Gospel resurrection stories, even though his Lord and Saviour allegedly produced some good stuff about flesh and bones and being able to be touched and eating, which I'm sure Paul could have worked up into a decent argument about what a resurrected body was like, if he had only ever have heard of such stories....

Amenhotep said...

Quine,
What Steven said. The letters of Saul Paulus are of really no help (nor the R2D appearance, which Paulus seems to accord equal status to those of the disciples).

But my point remains - our earliest source dealing with the first two points - burial & empty tomb - is the Gospel of Mark, and it does not contain any post-resurrection appearances at all (apart from the forged ending).

The ending of the "genuine" (if that's an appropriate term) part of the gospel of Mark is rather abrupt; it does make you wonder what the *real* ending was intended to be...

Either way, we are still faced with a situation where points 1 & 2 can be safely accepted for the sake of argument, and nothing out of the ordinary needs to be assumed at all! Saul Paulus really brings nothing to the party.

-A

unBeguiled said...

particularly 1 Corinthians (around 50 AD), in which the resurrection appearances to the disciples are described (in creedal material that the consensus of scholars acknowledges goes back to within 5 years of the crucifixion).

I met some guys that told me they saw a dead man come back to life in 1989.

Does anyone believe me?

Does anyone feel justified in believing the stories these guys told me?

AIGBusted said...

@ unBeguiled:

That depends. Do you have a "four facts" routine?

lol

unBeguiled said...

AIGb:

I'm working on it. Shoveling non-sense down the gullets of creduloids seems to be a rather lucrative racket.

Hallq said...

Big QUESTION about Craig's STRATEGY:

Did Craig actually defend the reliability of the gospels? Normally he absolutely refuses to do this and instead focuses on obscure arguments for his "four facts." This sets up an easy counter: the gospels are not generally trustworthy enough for arguments such as Craig's to deserve consideration when the topic is miracles. You could have said something like: "When an ancient historian like, say, Herodotus reports on ordinary events, we're not always sure when he's telling the truth and we can use conjecture to sort that out. But no one would take conjectures as proof that the miracle stories in Herodotus really happened."

If Craig stuck to his usual strategy, it sounds like you started out right, but made the mistake of letting the debate continue on his terms, not yours. That said, I'm curious to hear the audio.

techboy said...

unBeguiled, I listened to that clip that's supposed to prove Dr. Craig's "dishonesty", and I'm not impressed.

Dr. Stenger asserts that Dr. Craig bases his assertion that the universe began to exist on the work of Penrose and Hawking vis a vis singularities, which Hawking and Penrose have since renounced.

This is plainly in error (I won't say Dr. Stenger is lying, though one wonders if he is so familiar with Dr. Craig's arguments, how he doesn't know this).

Dr. Craig, last I heard him lecture on this, has multiple lines of evidence to defend this premise, two of which are philisophical (involving the impossibility of actual infinites), and so have nothing to do with Physics of any sort.

Further, when he does call upon Physics to support the idea that the Universe began to exist, he uses the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110012) and the Big Bang.

The other "error" Dr. Stenger says Dr. Craig simply refuses to correct is that quantum mechanics provides examples of something coming into being out of nothing.

Yet this is simply a case where Dr. Craig disagrees with Dr. Stenger on the Physics. He discusses this in Reasonable Faith and even quotes Stenger himself in a footnote on page 334, where he writes:

"36. There are at least ten different interpretations of quantum mechanics, many of which are fully deterministic, and no one knows which, if any of these, is correct. Even so determined a naturalist as the physicist Victor Stenger admits, "Other viable interpretations of quantum mechanics remain with no consenus on which, if any, is the correct one"; hence, we have to remain "open to the possibility that causes may someday be found for such phenomena." Victor Stenger, Has Silence Found God? Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2003), 188-189, 173."

I don't think that you (or Stenger) have a leg to stand on here.

ChristianJR4 said...

unBeguiled said:

"I suspect ChristianJR4 operates with a similar epistemology."

No, I actually don't, and neither does Dr. Craig. Here's a tip. Make sure you get your facts straight about what a person believes and holds to before you go around calling them dishonest.

Hallq, read Craig's Q&A this week, he answers the question as to why the reliability of the gospels is a non-issue for a debate. A low quality video and audio is already available for the debate. Google "William Lane Craig Comprehensive debate list" and you'll find both available on that page.

unBeguiled said...

ChristianJR4,

Craig states that he knows Christianity is true because of the testimony of the holy spirit.

In other words, Craig's epistemology is based on a ghost murmuring in his ear.

Consider this:

What would you think of a physician who diagnosed someone you care for based on a ghost that communicates with him telepathically? Would you consider that physician honest?

Dave Huntsman said...

Richard, while I salute you for trying (more than once), I think you let him drag you down to his level. So most of that audience heard how he defined you; you left most of his 'facts' go unchallenged (I think). How can you agree with him that there was burial in a tomb when there's no reason to believe in a Roman crucifixion that there was a tomb, at all? As Dom Crossan has pointed out, out of the thousands the Romans crucified between 4 bce and the departure of Pilate/Caiaphas, only a single crucified grave has been found. Just one.

As Crossan emphasizes, there weren't a lot of penalties; and the 'casual brutality' that would have been dealt to, say, someone who trashed a temple moneyplace, is something most moderns don't immediately grasp. And it was not execution; that only takes one second, if that' all they wanted. It was deliberate state terrorism; you were meant to be publicly broken, publicly suffer, publicly die - and publicly continue to hang there, for the animals. The one, and only one, crucified bone ever found, is the exception that essentially proves the rule.

AIGBusted said...

techboy,

Stenger has taken note of the fact that there are other interpretations of quantum mechanics, although the deterministic ones violate relativity. Stenger has a chapter about this in "God: The failed hypothesis".

techboy said...

AIGBusted,
I have no doubt that Dr. Stenger has taken note of this... he's an eminently qualified Physicist.

My objection is not to Dr. Stenger's Physics (or to your comments, specifically).

It is to his grossly innaccurate mischaracterizations of Dr. Craig's positions and honesty, and to the position of some commenters that his statements somehow prove that Dr. Craig is "dishonest", a charge, as far as I can tell, which is generally only made from the fringes by the angriest of individuals, while the mainstream of scholarship, including committed atheists like Kai Neilsen and Quentin Smith, treats him and his arguments with respect, even when strenuously disagreeing.

blindingimpediments said...

paul01

ok, I think I get it now. Thanks

Tsumetai said...

So as I understand it, the particles that spontaneously appear are simply a change in state of the quantum field from a low energy state to a high energy state (in a random manner). So basically, the particles are simply a feature of this quantum field and without such a quantum field, there would be no particles at all.

With the caveat that, in the case of virtual particles, the 'higher' energy state isn't actually higher at all, yes. It's a state that would normally require higher energy and thus be forbidden by energy conservation.

So is it a fair question to ask where this quantum field/vacuum came from? I mean a quantum field/vacuum is considered to be a “something” and not a “nothing” right?

Yes to both...

Within this entity called the quantum vacuum that may or may not have it’s origins in the big bang, particles spontaneously pop into existence. These particles have not been observed to pop into existence from an actual vacuum of “nothingness” but only do so in a vacuum of “something” which we call the quantum vacuum. So for all intensive purposes, spontaneous particles are an exclusive property of this quantum vacuum.

...but now you're a little bit off. The quantum vacuum isn't the same as the classical vacuum precisely because of the existence of quantum fields. It makes no more sense to say that virtual particles are a property of the quantum vacuum than to say that the quantum vacuum is a property of virtual particles. They're both expressions of the same thing. The second rung on a ladder is not a property of the first rung.

But then could I extrapolate that whatever caused the quantum vacuum to exist would be the same cause for the particles...

In a sense, yes. If the Universe had a cause, then that cause is the ultimate cause of the existence of virtual particles. They require no proximate cause.

Tsumetai said...

Dr. Stenger asserts that Dr. Craig bases his assertion that the universe began to exist on the work of Penrose and Hawking vis a vis singularities, which Hawking and Penrose have since renounced.

That's not quite accurate. As Stenger says, there's nothing wrong with the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorem. It's just not universally applicable. It doesn't work with any inflationary model, for example.

Incidentally, inflation is a classical process, and so Stenger's appeal to QM, while valid, is unnecesary.

Dr. Craig, last I heard him lecture on this, has multiple lines of evidence to defend this premise, two of which are philisophical (involving the impossibility of actual infinites), and so have nothing to do with Physics of any sort.

I take no position on Craig's honesty or lack thereof, but having philosophical arguments doesn't absolve him from buggering up the physics ones. Part of Stenger's objection was that Craig used a physics-based argument that he allegedly knew to be false.

Further, when he does call upon Physics to support the idea that the Universe began to exist, he uses the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110012) and the Big Bang.

That may be his current line, but he's certainly used the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorem in the past.

And, while I appreciate that you were defending Craig's honesty, not his argument, I can't let bad physics pass. Borde-Guth-Vilenkin is a fair bit stronger than Hawking-Penrose, but as far as support for Kalam goes, it falls to precisely the same counter-arguments.

Firstly, there exist past-eternal models to which it does not apply; e.g. Ellis' Emergent Universe. Interestingly, there are also models to which it does apply, but which are still in a reasonable sense past-eternal.

Secondly, there exist models which are neither past-eternal nor singular. The Hawking-Hartle proposal, Vilenkin's tunneling model, and self-creating models all fit this description.

Thirdly, to most physicists, the presence of a singularity indicates incompleteness not of the Universe itself, but rather of our descriptions. We already know that modern physics is incomplete; we lack a theory of quantum gravity. Therefore most physicists interpret singularities as points where current theory breaks down, and new physics is required. This is precisely the conclusion of Borde et. al. in the paper you cite - I believe Guth's money is on something along the lines of the Hawking-Hartle proposal - and it's worth noting that both their results and the Hawking-Penrose theorem are entirely classical.

Unfortunately, while physicists look at singularities and see an interesting question, Craig sees an answer - and that answer is "Here Be Dragons."

philip m said...

Tsumetai,

As I said earlier, Craig will readily grant everything you said, and there will be a section written by J.D. Sinclair on all the competing theories about the beginning of the universe in the new Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, due out in a few months.

Richard Carrier said...

ON KALAM AND CRAIG'S HONESTY

This whole kalam debate here is largely off topic, but so interesting I left it up. And it's at least tangentially on topic as it stems from a debate over whether Craig is dishonest, which incidentally that whole thread shows is undeterminable from the evidence, since honest people can disagree.

unBeguiled said... Craig's dishonesty is well documented, here, for example. [linking to a YouTube audio on Craig's use of the 2nd law of thermodynamics]

This is the sort of thing I think is unclear now. There's no evidence there of Craig actually lying, rather than simply being wrong and not understanding or not accepting efforts to correct him.

Dr. Craig is an apologist. His goal is to defend a certain position. That is quite different from someone who is primarily interested in what is most likely true.

Except that I think Craig really believes what he argues and says. As is rightly pointed out in that audio file, the Hawking-Penrose theorem has been proven unsound (even Hawking is on record conceding the point), but I'm not sure Craig depends on that theorem the way Stenger things (apart from correctly stating that it could still hold, e.g. see his discussion here).

Basically, Craig doesn't argue "Big Bang theory entails a beginning, therefore there was a beginning," he argues that transfinite mathematics entails a beginning (that is wrong, but I suspect he doesn't understand or accept the math because it is counter-intuitive, and I get the strong impression that Craig has a very hard time accepting counter-intuitive truths), and Big Bang theory counts as a corroboration of this fact (as it can be interpreted as being the expected beginning, which is true).

Craig then "interprets" all the science to suit this conclusion, and it is here that I think he is misleading himself or making mistakes in understanding what physicists like Stenger keep trying to tell him. For example, he believes Hawking-Penrose remains valid in the absence of a quantum theory of gravity and since we don't have the latter we should philosophically consider the former still valid, but this is a mistake, since Hawking-Penrose is formally unsound in light of well-established facts in Quantum Mechanics, i.e. it is not unsound because of a missing quantum theory of gravity, it is unsound because one of its premises is already empirically refuted by current observations in Quantum Mechanics (see "The Truth about Singularities"). I'm not sure Craig understands that.

Being a generally pleasant and nice person does not entail honesty.

No, but neither does merely being wrong entail dishonesty.

Religions in general, and Christian Apologetics in particular, is systematic dishonesty.

Or self-delusion. People don't like being called delusional, but science has established that everyone is delusional about something (most commonly we harbor delusions about our capabilities or limitations, or about the probability of common outcomes, or about the reliability of sources we deem trustworthy for the wrong reasons, etc.), and many people are delusional about a lot of things (right-wing authoritarian personality disorder appears to characterize something like a fifth of any given population, and in many ways it is describable as a systematic adherence to established fallacies, which can only be called delusional--liberal extremism IMO suffers from a similar delusional psychology).

I think Craig can only see the evidence one way, largely for the very reason he lets on in Reasonable Faith: his experience of the Holy Spirit assures him he is right, therefore the evidence must support him, and if it doesn't, he or his opponents must not understand it correctly, or are missing something, etc., so he uses his great learning and intelligence to find every possible way to interpret the evidence in accordance with what the Holy Spirit assures him of. If he is wrong (i.e. if there is no Holy Spirit) then it follows necessarily that he is delusional. I don't think there is any polite way to avoid that fact, since there is no other logical possibility.

Once you realize you have no choice but to believe either he really has the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit" or he is significantly delusional, you may start to re-consider the things he says. You assume he is lying, because you assume he is not delusional. Yet you must believe he is delusional--or else believe he is right. That's not just some opinion I have, it's a logically necessary fact I can't avoid. It's a kind of backwards Catch-22.

----

ChristianJR4 said... Craig has never said that quantum events don't have causes. Rather, he said that things don't come into existence without a cause, even on quantum theory (which is true). Craig actually believes in random events that don't have causes so for Stenger to call him a liar when he didn't even understand Craig's argument is telling.

I agree Stenger may be mistaken in assuming dishonesty. But your two statements above are contradictory. If Craig believes there are "random events that don't have causes" he would be rejecting one of his required premises for the Kalam (that everything has a cause), whereas if he believes "things don't come into existence without a cause, even on quantum theory," then he must believe even the random events of QM have a cause. So which is it?

I suspect Craig himself would answer that QM events have a cause, even if it is indeterminate as to effect, e.g. though virtual particles randomly appear and disappear in any given region of space-time, Craig might argue it is the quantum nature of space-time that causes that to happen (such that if you took away that property of space-time, it would cease to randomly generate virtual particles). And I would be inclined to agree with Craig on that point.

To wit...

AIGBusted said... These particles did not begin to exist at the big bang, although the quantum vacuum may have. But the point I made still stands: These particles are not caused.

Except they must be in a basic sense, since they are constrained: the number of possible particles and their properties are confined to a very small domain (a far larger domain than any sane designer would institute, some sixty or eighty or so fundamental particles, a good argument against ID IMO, but nevertheless the varieties of particle are dizzyingly far from infinite). Thus something causes only those varieties of particle to form and vanish, rather than all other logically possible particles (plus something causes them to form and vanish at only the specific space and time scales they actually do, and probability distributions they do, and so on).

I think there might be a confusion here between "virtual particles are caused to form" (by some property of space-time or whatever--certainly something consistently stable since we don't see evidence of it changing anywhere) and "a particular virtual particle is caused to form" (rather than any of a variety of others that could have formed instead).

Imagine a game universe where pushing a button causes an object to appear in a magic box, which is determined at random, such that nothing causes which object appears, yet nevertheless nothing at all will appear until you push the button. The appearance of objects in the box is thus caused by pushing the button, even though the selection of object that appears is not. The pushing of the button equals the physical conditions for virtual particle formation (minimally, the presence of a region of space-time with the requisite properties, whatever those would have to be), and the software code by which pushing the button produces an object (and, let's say, the objects are always colored blue) corresponds to whatever physical conditions constrain the possible particles that form (only blue objects = only particles catalogued in the Standard Model).

Quantum phenomena is thus not devoid of causation--that is demonstrably impossible. Otherwise, the number of observed particles and their properties would be effectively infinite and they would form at all scales, and they would randomly persist or vanish, instead of consistently vanish, or persist when specifically caused to do so by local conditions (e.g. Hawking radiation).

Blindingimpediments, you may recognize that you were thinking along similar lines but struggling perhaps to articulate what you meant.

Techboy, you are likewise right to point out that Craig also uses the argument that we don't actually know QM event outcomes are causally undetermined, so he can also hold out for hidden causation theories. I, again, have said something similar, and thus I sort of agree with Craig on that as well (I only think he employs this allowance hyperbolically).

However, Craig is thus embracing a larger inconsistency in his epistemology here: for if he gets to hold out for causal QM theories because the absence of QM causation remains unconfirmed, then he must accept that naturalists get to hold out for time-eternal multiverse theories because the absence of such also remains unconfirmed. In other words, if scientific gaps in QM physics allow Craig to assert the premise that everything has a cause, those same gaps in Big Bang physics allow Naturalists to assert the premise that everything has a prior physical state. Conversely, if he objects that we can't assert that premise because it is unconfirmed, he can't assert his premise either, for exactly the same reason. Otherwise, he is inconsistent, and thus so is his epistemology, and thus so is any metaphysical conclusion he then arrives at.

----

Tsumetai said... The first premise - "Everything that begins to exist has a cause" - is either false or undetermined, as per my previous post. The second premise - "The universe began to exist" - is undetermined.

I would not say we have empirically demonstrated the first premise to be false (the effects of Quantum Mechanics have not been shown to have no cause of any sort--simply having indeterminate effects is not identical with having no cause), but it is certainly undetermined (as I explain in Sense and Goodness without God, and I think in my debate with Wanchick, it entails at least one category fallacy, e.g. that time has a cause cannot be inferred from "all things in time have a cause." So even if we can build a valid inductive proof of the latter premise, that does not permit extending that induction to radically categorically different entities like space-time itself).

The first premise is also, IMO, self-defeating: for if God can exist uncaused and yet not be actually infinitely old, it is logically possible for the same to be true of space-time, or any other substitute for God, e.g. the Tao, or the total quantum state of the universe, or a basic undifferentiated potential to exist, etc.

Likewise, the second premise is certainly undetermined, at least if you avoid an equivocation fallacy with the term "universe" (e.g. conflating "the observable universe" with "space-time itself," as Craig often does).

As I noted above, I think Craig doesn't understand that the Hawking-Penrose theorem is the only valid argument from scientific evidence to the conclusion of a beginning of space-time, and yet it is now unsound because one of its required premises has been empirically refuted. That means there is no valid or sound argument for a beginning of space-time (at least from scientific facts). Not even BGV entails that (see below).

A similar point can be made regarding his argument in transfinite mathematics (as I pointed out, with citations of mathematicians, in my debate with Wanchick here). In short, Craig is assuming finite arithmetic applies to transfinite quantities, but that the conclusions of finite arithmetic are true at all requires proof, and such a proof has been constructed from basic axioms, yet that proof fails for transfinites (since one or more premises are then by definition false). So you can't then use arithmetic as if it is true, in a domain where no sound argument has established it is true. Craig would first have to establish by formal proof that the laws of arithmetic hold for transfinites, before he can use any arithmetical argument against the actual existence of transfinites. I don't think Craig even knows how to do that. He certainly hasn't tried.

----

Paul01 said... I would say that the vacuum is a necessary condition for the spontaneous generation of particles, but not a sufficient condition. There is absolutely no way to predict when or if a particle will appear.

Actually, that's not strictly true. According to the constraint conditions I noted above, we can predict a great many things about when or if a particle will appear, namely we can predict the exact probability distribution of the particles that appear over any given region of space and time, and what sorts of particles can or can't appear.

Part of the Kalaam argument is that the cause of the universe coming to exist must be an agent because if it was a mechanical cause there is no reason for it to act at one instant rather than another. But in the case of spontaneous generation of particles, or of happenings within the Planck time, no explanation is needed.

Craig is talking about the coming-to-be of the causes of virtual particle production generally (for example). He would say there is no reason for that to come into existence at one instant rather than another.

However, I find that whole argument confused. The idea is that if the conditions existed for such a coming-to-be, it would instantly come-to-be, so why did the nothingness just sit there forever before popping out a quantum vacuum universe (etc.) (by contrast, a personal agent can use free will to twiddle its thumbs forever before flicking the switch). But since ex hypothesi there is no time before that happens, there is no sitting around forever. So what's the objection?

Moreover, since this entails the personal agent sat around for an actual infinity twiddling its thumbs (metaphorically speaking), that refutes the premise that you can't see a passage of an actual infinite duration of time (much less prior to the beginning of the observable universe). So Craig would have to prove that time began independently of God's action (but that would refute the premise that a personal agent is required), or that it didn't begin until the universe did (which refutes the premise that a mechanical cause can't be responsible, since then the cause has its effect instantly as predicted--i.e. the very instant nothing existed, a universe popped out, exactly as Craig says the mechanical-cause theory entails).

Craig has an even more confused argument, that "If the cause were timelessly present, then the effect would be timelessly present as well," but that premise is automatically false when the effect is itself the existence of time (which brings me back to the category fallacy I mentioned earlier). Time as such is timelessly present (there is no distinct time at which "time" exists, and there is no point in time where time doesn't exist), and thus can be a timeless effect, and thus can have a timeless cause. Inded, by definition time can only have a timeless cause, since unless time has existed forever (which would refute Kalam), or can begin without a cause (which would refute Kalam), the only kind of cause it could ever possibly have had is a timeless cause.

Techboy said... Dr. Stenger asserts that Dr. Craig bases his assertion that the universe began to exist on the work of Penrose and Hawking vis a vis singularities, which Hawking and Penrose have since renounced. This is plainly in error...Dr. Craig, last I heard him lecture on this...when he does call upon Physics to support the idea that the Universe began to exist, he uses the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem."

That wasn't the case in the Stenger debate, or in the Flew debate of 2003 to which Stenger also refers. Craig very definitely cited Hawking-Penrose there. However, his use of it is more subtle, and not exactly the argument Stenger thinks (as I suggested above). This is unlike, for example, the much more ham-fisted use of that theorem by Michael Corey in my and Barker's debate with him and Rajabali, in which Corey very foolishly insisted the theorem was proven, and so adamantly denied all evidence to the contrary that anyone paying attention can only believe the man is batsh*t insane.

As for the "Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem," it doesn't actually show what Craig needs. All it argues is that given current inflationary theories (which are all still largely speculative), the inflationary event is bounded in past time (and therefore our universe can't have been "inflating" for infinite time). Their theorem does not pertain to the origin of time--Craig tends to confuse "this universe" with "everything" a lot, and this would be an example of just such a confusion, if in fact he uses BGV the way you claim.

What BGV actually conclude is: "we have shown under reasonable assumptions that almost all causal geodesics, when extended to the past of an arbitrary point, reach the boundary of the inflating region of spacetime in a finite proper time.... What can lie beyond this boundary? Several possibilities have been discussed, one being that the boundary of the inflating region corresponds to the beginning of the Universe in a quantum nucleation event." ("Inflationary spacetimes are not past-complete," pp. 3-4)

Note the exact phrase "beginning of the Universe," not "the beginning of time, space, and all that exists." Though they argue there must be a finite timeline to the initial conditions, their theorem does not treat true "reset" circumstances (as in Smolin's theory), or nut-shell scenarios (as in Hawking's theorem where past time is finite but there is no first moment of time because the time dimension loops back around on itself), and is not settled on confirmed premises (it is based only on "reasonable assumptions"), and allows many "possibilities" other than a singular start-time (they merely propose it might, and even then they are not talking about a singularity but something considerably fuzzier)

In particular, the BGV theorem is restricted by a premise Craig is ignoring:

"Our argument shows that null and timelike geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models...provided only that the averaged expansion condition H(average) > 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics."

But we don't know if H > 0 before the planck time. And in fact, in some theories (Smolin and modified Linde), H < 0 before the Big Bang (since local space-time contracts into a black hole before producing an inflational event within the enclosed region). At most, BGV would rule out eternal inflation multiverse theories in which new inflationary events just spontaneously begin in already-expanding regions of space-time, but it would not rule out eternal inflation multiverse theories in which new inflationary events only begin in regions that contract.

I'm also not sure how their theorem would apply to runaway inflation theories in which space-time accelerates in expansion until it literally tears apart, thus ending expansion while creating a massive release of energy, which may act like a reset button--I don't know how the physics would work out, but plausibly this would constitute a reset to H = 0 the instant before an inflation event produces a new universe, or just as plausibly the release of energy could create a collapsing region of spacetime that then bounces, producing a new inflationary universe, after a period of H < 0 (which is a proposal some Superstring theorists have argued for).

Hence, again, as has been said, the conclusion remains undetermined. And you can't settle an argument on an undetermined premise.

AIGBusted said... Stenger has taken note of the fact that there are other interpretations of quantum mechanics, although the deterministic ones violate relativity.

Unfortunately that's not a sound argument. Quantum Mechanics as a whole violates Relativity (at the Planck scale), so we already know one or the other (or both) is fundamentally wrong in some respect (which is why current focus is on finding a unified quantum theory of gravity). Hence pointing out that a deterministic theory of QM violates Relativity is not an argument against a deterministic theory of QM, any more than the observed fact that QM violates Relativity is an argument against QM.

Richard Carrier said...

CRAIG AND MCCULLAGH

Will Fenio said... ...it occured to me that whenever Dr. Craig refers to the criteria of C. Behan McCullagh to establish the best historical explanation, he conveniently leaves out the very first criterion. And when you read it you can see why.. here it is: "The statement, together with other statements already held to be true, must imply yet other statements DESCRIBING PRESENT, OBSERVABLE DATA." It is funny that Craig always refers to McCullagh's 6 criteria when in actuality there are 7...and the one he omits is #1. very humorous. but then again, not suprising given Craig's record of playing shell games with the principle of analogy so as to sneak in his supernatural explanations.

IMO, that's not a valid criticism of Dr. Craig. That first criterion is a philosophical universal (it defines a testable proposition) and therefore I would not expect him to mention it (since I wouldn't even be there if I thought his proposition wasn't even testable). All that first criterion states is that any proposition about the historical past must imply the existence of evidence we can currently see and handle, by which its truth or falsehood can be determined. And we have that (the existence of the New Testament, for example).

[Note that that is a general thesis of McCullagh's entire book on this subject. Thus it pays to actually read the book, rather than skipping to just the one bit.]

Richard Carrier said...

On the previous thread someone posted a link to a pirated audio MP3 recording of the debate. I don't mind that. It's useful and no harm. But Craig or NW MSU might take issue, since we signed a contract establishing our mutual rights to the content. Just FYI. But if no one complains, then no worries.

In the following I am responding as often to comments posted here as to comments posted my previous announcement post on this debate.

Richard Carrier said...

DEMEANOR AND OPINIONS

Eric said... I'm wondering if the time you spent with Craig has given you any reasons to reconsider what you wrote here: "...those I do know a lot about (e.g. Habermas, Geivett, Craig, etc.) I just don't trust--or in some cases, actively distrust."

Yes. I'm more on the fence about Craig now. I'd have to see from further dialogue. But we're both so busy I don't expect that to be likely. I'll give him the benefit of a doubt more often now.

David Fitzgerald said... Craig called you a krank? (?!?!?!)What the hell was that all about. In any case, that's low...

Impolite, yes. But at least he really believes it (or rather, that the analysis is crank, he didn't directly call me a crank, just my claims). However, he's said nice things about me on other occasions, too, and conversely we've been mean to each other online before. So I'll wait and see how things develop over the next few years before coming to a conclusion.

Anthony said... I'm been noting over at Debunking Christianity how Craig poisoned the well during his discussion of presuppositions. Craig says regarding Richard's view of Jesus historicity, that it is an "extremist position...so extreme to call it marginal would be an understatement..."

I knew he was going to attempt that fallacy, which is why I responded to it at the end of my opening. I had even considered before the event making the specific point that it was a poisoning-the-well fallacy. But I thought that might set the wrong tone for the debate. It was enough to point out the irrelevance of it and that my position is not as extreme as he was suggesting (since I don't consider it established).

I'm not sure if Craig thinks deliberate fallacies are legitimate (which I can only consider dishonest--I would be ashamed to resort to such tactics myself) or if he honestly doesn't realize this was a fallacy.

Richard Carrier said...

DEBATE STRATEGY AND REALITY

Philip m said... I think the idea that a negative can never win a debate is a rather faulty one. I do college policy debates, and for those the negative does not even know what case the affirmative will be running until they start speaking. The check is that they know what the resolution is (this year the plan has to do with the USFG building a relationship with Cuba), so they have general ideas what is going on.

Notice how extremely narrow the topic of that debate is. I agree, on hyper-narrow topics you can have a worthwhile oral debate coming to a resolution--because by the end of an hour there literally wouldn't be anything more to say on the subject.

You are also confusing policy debates with empirical debates. In a policy debate the aim is to argue which policy to follow, but in an empirical debate the aim is to argue which theory best explains the evidence and what that evidence is, which entails a much more complex process (which is why all books on the resurrection count in the hundreds of pages--imagine writing a 400 page book on the USFG building a relationship with Cuba--and yet even those books on the resurrection still don't resolve the matter or address every relevant argument and item of evidence).

This is thus a very different kind of dispute. To wit...

If you think the negative can't win the debate, you must think that the negative has an obligation to construct their own case, *and* respond to everything the affirmative said. That's clearly false.

Actually, it's clearly true--in empirical debates, you have a set of evidence (which also must be debated, i.e. as to what the evidence actually is), and the question is which theory best explains that evidence. If the opposing side has no theory of the evidence at all, the affirmative wins by default (since by definition their explanation will then be the best), unless the affirmative theory is so lame it can be shown to be logically impossible (I've never seen such a debate). Therefore, the negative in an empirical debate is obligated to defend a positive theory of the evidence and show that it better explains the evidence than the affirmative's theory.

So the dynamic of an empirical debate works like this: the affirmative side presents his theory, the negative side his; the affirmative then lists a hundred reasons to reject the negative side, of which the negative can only find time to answer maybe twenty, leaving eighty reasons to reject the negative; therefore the affirmative wins, simply because the negative hasn't time to counter-rebut every rebuttal, and in technical scoring a rebutted alternative loses to the initial proposal (the affirmative). The difficulty can operate in reverse (the negative can attempt a hundred rebuttals of the affirmative) thus resulting in neither side winning (since the affirmative then can't answer everything, too), but only if your goal is to just spout rebuttals in an attempt to win, rather than actually educate the audience.

For example, if our roles were reversed, I wouldn't make even half the rebuttals Craig does because I know that in an honest exchange to the very bottom those rebuttals would be cast down, and I can't in good conscience just claim things to win, that I know would lose on a more extended analysis. So the shotgun rebuttal tactic isn't something I can bring myself to attempt. For instance, his quoting of an expert claiming the Gospels didn't draw any story elements from the OT, but only used the OT for inspiration of word choice, etc. That wouldn't hold up in a panel discussion before an audience of biblical scholars. But the only rebuttal I could attempt is to quote my own experts (I named several, but didn't budget time to quote them specifically), which gets us nowhere (it's just a dueling experts draw).

That is why I dislike arguments from authority. They feel sleazy to me (unless the consensus in the field is truly overwhelming, but it clearly is not in that example case). Craig uses them because he was taught to. He's been a pro debater since nearly his youth, and has trained himself for so long to win I don't think he can see debate in any other light than just a system of strategies and tactics, rather than an opportunity to educate an audience.

Eric said... For example, Craig's resurrection argument rests on four facts and an inference to the best explanation (with respect to how the four facts are best explained). Not all four facts are equally important, so if Carrier could either undermine one of Craig's more important facts, or show how Craig's explanation is not in fact the best explanation, he could refute his 'shotgun' argument without having to deal with all the details Craig provides to support each of his main points.

Were that so, then I won the debate. Since I did provide a best explanation of those four facts and Craig never validly refuted that, even by his own methodological principle (as I quote) of accepting good naturalistic explanations when they exist.

However, that's not how debates technically score. I conceded his first two facts, then made several arguments against his fourth fact, the empty tomb (e.g. the Gospel accounts can't be trusted, the empty tomb narratives look like myths, the Epistles make no mention of a missing body, the events recorded in Acts make little sense if there was a missing body), provided a better explanation for it (bodies usually disappear for other reasons), and similarly explained his third fact (e.g. the Christians routinely hallucinated and Paul describes his seeing of Jesus in terms consistent with hallucination, two facts Craig never adequately rebutted IMO) in a manner even Craig should accept as the best explanation (as I quoted him saying in an earlier debate that good naturalistic explanations are always to be preferred). But Craig responded to my arguments with an enormous, rapid list of statements, claims, and quotations (overall, I counted nearly a hundred at least), any one of which technically "undermines" one of my arguments, so that to rehabilitate my rebutted argument I have to remove every rebuttal he presented. That is physically impossible in the time given.

For example, his "Acts sermons contain semitisms" argument: I never found the time to get around to that, and therefore it stood as an unanswered rebuttal to my "speeches were always made up by the authors in ancient historiography" argument. The response would have been that even in the passages with semitisms there is clear evidence of Lukanisms, thus demonstrating that he has altered his Aramaic sources even if he had them--even though as I did point out there cannot have been any such sources, since there were no stenographers transcribing street sermons--that happened, but rarely, and there is no evidence it was going on in this case, and it was only possible because of the invention of shorthand, and I don't know any evidence of an Aramaic shorthand having existed at the time--and if I had time I would have added that it's ludicrous to imagine anyone memorized the speeches and somehow passed them on in a chain of oral transmission with unfailing precision.

And that's just one of at least a dozen examples I considered relevant. There were many dozens of his arguments that weren't relevant, so my not answering them had no effect on any technical measure, but that still left dozens of relevant ones, of which I only had time to treat some.

Zemi said... look at WLC's reasponse to this on his site ("Question of the week - Question 100")

In response now to Craig's pre-debate argument in online Q&A that "it is viciously circular and therefore illogical to require establishing a document's general reliability in order to establish its reliability with respect to some specific event," the converse is the case a priori (you must first establish that you have a reliable document precisely because unreliable documents exist and you need to know which kind you have), and this is all the more the case if there is considerable evidence the Gospels weren't even written with the intent of recording historical testimony (as was my argument).

With regard to the a priori case, I fully agree one can "demonstrate a document's general reliability by demonstrating its reliability on a good number of specific events" (I am not arguing circularly to the contrary), what I am saying is that this has to be done first, before you can pick any particular events and build a theory out of them. For example, if it is found that a documents gets some things right and some things wrong, or contains some confirmed facts and some dubious claims, or frequently contradicts other sources, etc., this affects how much you can trust any particulars that aren't otherwise corroborated. A similar line of a priori argument follows regarding Craig's reliance on criteria for extracting historical data: those criteria have to established as valid, but in fact have been shown widely invalid even by experts, thus a debate must begin here again, it cannot presuppose the criteria are valid. But my particular interest was the a posteriori case: the evidence that the Gospels aren't even histories.

Hence when I maintain you need to establish general reliability, I mean you can't presume every document is history, you have to establish that it is first. Craig was assuming this had been done, which is why I want to revisit that debate: I think the evidence is now clear the Gospels are not historical records even in their basic intent. And if that's the case, we have no clear evidence for the empty tomb at all, and virtually none regarding any other details of who saw what where, and can't establish anything about what may have actually happened to the body or what anyone actually saw. Craig's entire case depends on assuming the Gospels contain history (even if he thinks he has to extract it from surrounding ahistory, though I know he believes the Bible inerrant so when he allows them not to be he is merely conceding a point for the sake of argument). That is why I wanted to debate that underlying assumption first. And I still would like to.

I thus don't disagree with Craig on much of what he says otherwise as to method, except his claim that "the empty tomb and post-mortem appearances, are not contentious but belong to the historical core recognized by the wide majority of New Testament historians today." As I showed in the debate, there is no evidence of a wide majority of experts supporting the empty tomb, to the contrary it seems likely not to be much better than 50/50, but even 75/25 entails a contentious claim (imagine 25% of scientists disbelieving heliocentrism or relativity theory or even evolution), and though "sightings" are widely agreed, that conceals the fact that what those sightings consisted of (as reported in the Gospels) is far more contentious (as any poll of scholars would show I'm sure).

Similarly, to his question "Why should we get bogged down in a debate over the historicity of the birth narratives or the date of the Last Supper and so on, when nothing about Jesus' resurrection hangs on the reliability of those reports?" The answer is: because authors willing to fabricate the former can easily have fabricated the latter. It entirely shifts the order of probabilities. It is thus not irrelevant, but entirely relevant. I also disagree that this would be "so broad as to be unmanageable" any more than the resurrection debate is so.

For example, in any resurrection debate, we could get bogged down in debates over naturalism vs. supernaturalism, the contradictions in the empty tomb accounts, the meaning of Greek words in the epistles, the significance or even existence of semitisms in Acts, the scientific data regarding hallucination and ecstatic cults, and on and on and on--even on the single subject alone of whether the first Christians believed Jesus rose in a different body, a view accepted by several other experts, not just me, one could not even complete a debate on every relevant issue in an entire night, as one can see from my debate with Licona (which strangely recently on his website Craig doesn't seem to understand, since he argues at length against the bodiless theory, when in fact I clearly argue for an embodied resurrection, which is one reason why I reacted to his Casper comparison: that derives from my old work, not my print publications or debate with Licona where I have explicitly moved on from ghost-bodies).

Thus, I think even the resurrection is "so broad as to be unmanageable," and certainly every bit as much as any other debate on a complex topic. And yet since resolving the pillar of the reliability of the Gospels is essential for that topic (as I explained above), if that debate is enormous, the resurrection debate is necessarily even more enormous. Which is why I have always said it is impossible to seriously treat any topic in an oral debate. You can only ever touch the tip of the iceberg. Hence complaining that a topic is too big is simply an unacceptable excuse, unless you consistently employ that fact as a reason never to do oral debates at all, except on very narrow subjects (a position I entirely respect).

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Dave Huntsman said... How can you agree with him that there was burial in a tomb when there's no reason to believe in a Roman crucifixion that there was a tomb, at all?

Because it is not physically possible to debate every such issue in less than an hour of time (as was all I had). Moreover, the debate topic was not the existence of Jesus or his crucifixion, and as I outright said in my opening, we should accept the clear consensus of qualified experts (when there is one) unless we intend specifically to challenge that consensus. The clear consensus of experts is that Jesus existed, was crucified, and buried (in fact, only a very small minority, and that uninformed, argues against tomb burial, and I quite agree with the majority here, that this tiny minority's arguments are uninformed and thus unsound).

Though there is no clear consensus on the historicity of Joseph, the name of the guy who buried Jesus is so vastly inconsequential only a lunatic would waste time debating it when the topic was the resurrection and not the name of the guy who buried Jesus. And though I foresee a rising challenge among qualified experts against the assumption of historicity, as I explained, that remains only a hypothesis that has yet to survive proper peer review. More importantly, I do not believe we have to accept that hypothesis to conclude there is insufficient historical evidence to warrant believing Jesus rose from the dead. Indeed, I think we can be far more certain of that, than we can of the non-existence of Jesus.

Hallq said... Big QUESTION about Craig's STRATEGY: Did Craig actually defend the reliability of the gospels?

Sort of. Mainly by argument from authority.

You could have said something like: "When an ancient historian like, say, Herodotus reports on ordinary events, we're not always sure when he's telling the truth and we can use conjecture to sort that out. But no one would take conjectures as proof that the miracle stories in Herodotus really happened."

I actually had exactly that argument planned, I simply ran out of time before getting to it.

If Craig stuck to his usual strategy, it sounds like you started out right, but made the mistake of letting the debate continue on his terms, not yours.

That's exactly what happened in the middle: my first rebuttal I made the mistake of trying to dispatch all his rebuttals to what I had argued in my opening (I ignored his rebuttals to things I never even argued there, rather than elsewhere), which I knew was impossible. I didn't have time to make a decision as to which rebuttals to let go and replace with the argument from Herodotus (for example), but I already know what his response would be: he's not defending claims of the miraculous, since there is nothing inherently miraculous about an empty tomb (for example), rather he is inferring miracle from mundane facts like that, "and so should we. "

He did in fact make that argument (against something else I said), and I did in fact respond to it (with the point about prior probability: his inferences go against what usually causes these things, and he does not have enough evidence to establish that such an against-the-grain conclusion is warranted in this case), and to use the Herodotus case to shore that up would have taken more time that it would have been worth. So even in hindsight I'm not sure I made the wrong decision in leaving that aside.

Amenhotep said... for future debates with Craig on this topic, I would suggest the demolition of points 3 & 4, and leave 1 & 2 to look after themselves

That's exactly what I did. I conceded 1&2 in my first rebuttal and never dwelled on them again.

Kilo Papa said... I find it interesting that Craig says that the Apostle Paul saw a bodily appearance of Jesus during the time of the original appearances to the diciples.

I don't recall that. Can you extract the exact wording he used?

Richard Carrier said...

WHAT I ARGUED

The Wes comments on reasonablefaith.org on last week's debate are based on egregiously false information.

For example, as quoted in a previous thread, Wes says I "claimed that 'Barnabas' was a fictional character based on the fact that his name means 'son of a father', which I found to be an incredibly weak argument." That was not the argument I made, as I even made explicitly clear in Q&A where exactly this question was raised. As I said there, the mere presence of an uncommon or unusual or suspect name is not sufficient to argue for mythic construction, and thus not what I argue. My argument follows from a more extended list of facts and coincidences that coincide in the conclusion. The overall probability of these coincidences is low. Thanks to Dr. Craig's input, I plan to submit a paper on that very subject for the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus.

Likewise, Wes said "He goes on about how Mary Magdaline was a direct reflection of Mirriam (of Moses I believe) and this is again evidence of mythical legend," when in fact it was Craig who "went on" about that. I didn't raise the issue. Though Craig was referring to what I argue in The Empty Tomb and Not the Impossible Faith, I didn't engage him on that point, but merely referred everyone to my published work on the subject and moved on, since in the debate itself I was resting on the stronger examples of my opening. However, IMO, I made the mistake of taking the bait and spoke more than I needed to on the topic simply because he did. I should have been briefer and used the time for hitting other points. But I hardly went "on and on" about it.

I won't continue debunking Wes's account of the debate, since these two failures of fact are sufficient to render his commentary unworthy of trust. There are a great many other falsehoods in Wes's account besides. This reminds me of some conversations with Christians I had at the event, in which the point came up that Christians who lie and distort the truth are actually undermining the spread of the Gospel, because they give the impression that Christians are liars and can only defend their faith by lying. Several Christians I spoke to found this disgusting, and wished they could do something about it. I suggested they attack fellow Christians who do this (with public criticism), thus demonstrating there are Christians who reject the tactic and aim to defeat it. That is the only way Christianity can rehabilitate its image, IMO.

Philip m said... 1. The Gospels are unreliable on many points.

That was not my argument. My argument was that the authors of the Gospels demonstrably did not have historical intent--i.e. recording history wasn't even what they were attempting to do, but they were constructing symbolic myths instead. This is very different from simply saying they are unreliable (although such an argument could be constructed as well, but it wasn't the one I was advancing that night). If the Gospel authors are not even writing history, but myth, then there is no reasonable basis for assuming the empty tomb and appearance narratives were historical records rather than (as with the rest of the Gospels) symbolic myths. I also gave specific examples of this mythic-intent in the very empty tomb and appearance narratives, thus directly linking the general point to Craig's specific evidence. I could have given many more examples like that, but for lack of time.

Premise 1 would have to be, "Every single story in the Gospels is unreliable" in order for it to apply to the Resurrection narratives.

Not my actual premise 1, which was not "the Gospels are unreliable" but "the Gospels aren't even histories."

But even if one were to make the argument you describe, you would not have to prove "every single story in the Gospels is unreliable," because all you need is probability: if many stories in the Gospels are unreliable, then the prior probability that any particular stories in the Gospels are reliable drops (because the premise "we can trust this author" is then refuted and thus not available), which means one would then need increasingly strong evidence to rehabilitate any particulars. That's arguably possible for, e.g., the crucifixion of Jesus (for which there is external evidence, etc.), but not for, e.g., the appearance narratives, which don't agree, are wildly diverse, consistently strange, and outright absent from the first Gospel. In any other subject in ancient history we wouldn't be treating such stories as reliable.

Moreover, in real academics we don't have the two options, e.g. "we can trust what this author says about there being an empty tomb" or "we can't trust what this author says about there being an empty tomb," but most often have to settle on a far more common third option: "we simply don't know whether we can trust what this author says about there being an empty tomb." Source-agnosticism is far more common in ancient history as a field, and is commonly granted in cases where we know authors have told falsehoods in their stories, especially when the reports are inherently incredible (even slightly) and align with the author's interests (e.g. Tacitus' claim that Tiberius molested young boys).

There are lots of Christian scholars who don't think certain stories are history in the Gospel, so it isn't even clear that an author can only have one intention.

Actually, those scholars believe the authors at least intended their fabrications to be regarded as history. But it's clear from my examples even that intention does not really exist: the authors had entirely different intentions, and had no qualms about inventing entire narratives to convey symbolic meaning instead of historical witness. That such an author could be starting with some core historical report is possible but of no assistance, since without external corroboration we have no way of knowing which elements are that core and which are fabrications (a point I made in the debate). By analogy, it's possible there was a Trojan War, but that doesn't help us determine what details if any in Homer are historically true.

So the way to do it would be unload on one of Craig's four facts, like the empty tomb, and then spend the rest of the time arguing about the best explanation of the other facts.

I don't know what you can possibly have in mind. There were only two general facts to explain: the empty tomb narratives and the appearances. The former I addressed (both in general: they appear only in books that demonstrably lacked historical intent and were demonstrably prone to symbolic invention; and in specific: there were available symbolic reasons for inventing the empty tomb narratives themselves; and in a book that composed narratives in exactly that way should predispose us to assume all its narratives were so unless we can prove otherwise; and I also made other points, e.g. bodies usually go missing for other reasons, and there is inadequate evidence to rule them out in this case, and bodies can be believed to be missing even when they're not, and the storyline of Acts makes no sense if a body went missing, etc.), and the latter I addressed (both in general: the epistles establish the Christians were regular hallucinators and hallucination explains all we need and is directly corroborated by the only eyewitness account we have, that of Paul; and in specific: the appearance narratives, such as in Luke's Emmaus account, are constructed with mytho-symbolic intent).

But there are numerous appearance narratives, and Craig was able to unload over a dozen defenses of them, and I couldn't possibly have deconstructed every single appearance narrative in the Gospels in the allotted time anyway, even if I had managed my time better, much less have done that and answered every claim Craig made about them. Similarly for the empty tomb: I conveyed a lot of information in my rebuttal time yet still had no time to defend the plausibility of theft or misplacement, and even if I'd tried, Craig has a dozen or more "rebuttals" to each that I would never have had time to respond to, inevitably leaving uncountered rebuttals, which will always be a technical win for him.

Richard Carrier said...

FUTURE BAYESIAN ARGUMENT AND ACHIEVING IDEOLOGICAL GOALS

Keith said... I look forward to reading this "rock solid Bayesian proof" that developed on the plane ride home. How is the book coming along? Will you be giving a progress report soon?

Not soon, as I've been so swamped with the two talks in March and preparing for the debate and now responding to responses to the debate that I haven't written much this month. But I'm hoping to spin out Chapter 2 soon, which will effectively be in itself the next progress report. But the Bayesian argument for Gospel myth will be in Chapter 10, so a while out. However, I plan to produce an earlier version for peer publication, and if that happens I'll blog it.

----

Solon said... "I landed with a rock solid Bayesian proof of my position" - That is as foolish as someone thinking he can prove Jesus came back from the dead. As foolish as the other "proofs" of ethical "truths" you preach so as to comfort people about life.

Either I don't get your point, or you don't get mine. The proof I'm talking about relates to the historical study of the aims and meaning of the Gospels, and is thus no different from proving the same propositions regarding e.g. the Lives of Romulus or Aesop or the biographies of poets and philosophers (all demonstrated in mainstream scholarship to be largely fabricated). My interest in this matter is as a historian, not as some sort of enemy combatant on a crusade against Christian beliefs. I'd be doing this even for dead religions, if we had the same extent of source material for them (we typically don't). I see no great difference in point between the Gospel of Mark and Plutarch's Life of Romulus, and I study them with the same interests and methods and goals.

Why you respond to all this silly Christian minutiae and thus give their main point any credence is bewildering. The main point is they can not prove their singular miracle and to claim otherwise is intellectually embarrassing. It merits laughter, not pedantic argument.

The ridiculous ought to be ridiculed, I agree. But not all error is ridiculous, even when it has negative social consequences and is thus worth combating. As to whether they "cannot prove their singular miracle," that's kind of the point: how would you know that, if we historians didn't study their evidence and arguments?

"If the effect is to sow seeds of doubt among fence-sitters and believers..." Except the foundation of their belief is not reason, it is need.

(a) That's not always true (I don't know how much you travel the country talking to hundreds of believers and ex-believers, but I do this a lot, and I can assure you a great many are not compelled by need but genuine rational persuasion or assumption or ignorance, etc.) and (b) It isn't always relevant (again as many ex-Christians will attest, need can be overcome by doubts leading to the discovery that their need is excessive, misplaced, unwarranted, or unreasonable).

Laughter does it better than any argument.

Do you know of any cases of deconversion as a consequence of ridicule? I've never heard of even a single case of that myself.

So argument is not only foolish but, as you deploy it in your overall project, dishonest. They cannot, as you preach, fulfill their need through reason despite your various "proofs" about life.

It sounds like you are proposing that Christians are a different species than me, or so biologically unlike me as to be incapable of living and thinking as I do. That's not only a bizarre belief, it begs demonstration, particularly in the face of countless ex-Christians who made the transition to exactly where I comfortably live: fulfilling my needs as a human being through evidence and reason.

Methadone isn't the answer to heroin addiction.

Actually, I'm pretty sure methadone has been scientifically proved to actually work as a treatment step toward relief of heroin addiction. So I'm not quite sure what you're thinking here as far as analogies go. Anyway, wouldn't Liberal Christianity or Deism be the analog to methadone in such an analogy? IMO I know countless cases of deconversion precisely through that middle stage.

When are you going to come clean, Richard?

About what? I don't get your point.

Richard Carrier said...

CLAIMS AND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE

AIGBusted said... You say that (And I'm paraphrasing here): 1. There was little or no bias against women in a court of law in 1st Century Judea. And: 2. Mark placed the women at the empty tomb to show that the least would be first, implying that there was some bias against women. Isn't this contradictory or have I misunderstood you?

Yes, you misunderstood what Craig and I were debating. He said women's testimony was not admitted in court. As I said, I've refuted that (Chapter 11 of Not the Impossible Faith). It's not at all true. He came back with women's testimony was undervalued. I pointed out again that that wasn't true either (Chapter 11 again addresses this, particularly answering his, IMO, confused use of Josephus, which I didn't have time to answer at the podium).

As I explain (ibid.) there is a fundamental difference between assigning a lower social status to women and trusting their testimony, as also between accepting women's testimony and having chauvinistic ideas about proper female behavior, and between trusting women to be honest and trusting their intelligence to be equal to men's. Confusing these distinctions is exactly what has led to apologists like Wright erring and thus misleading Craig into saying the things he said at the podium, which are so wildly untrue it was alarming even to me (but I do believe Craig has been duped here--I don't think he was being dishonest).

Internally within the story, the women are depicted as least among those who followed Jesus (in Mark they are the last followers to be mentioned and are never mentioned during his ministry and are assigned no roles of authority within the circle and get no prominent place in Jesus' calls to ministry, all in contrast to the prominence and behavior of, e.g., Peter, James, and John, etc.). But externally within the society Mark is writing for, women are second-class citizens in terms of authority roles and are expected to be subservient to men. But that does not (and as my evidence shows, clearly did not) translate into distrusting them, much less banning their testimony from courtrooms (not even Jewish courtrooms, which were more conservative than Greek, as Greek were more conservative than Roman).

-----

Amenhotep said... his body was taken back to Capernaum by his family, as the "young man" at the tomb told the women

Well, that's not exactly what the young man actually says in Mark, so you'd have to suppose embellishment. But (a) it would have been illegal (as I explain in "Body" in The Empty Tomb Jesus had to be interred in the graveyard of the court until the rotting of his flesh permitted reburial in his family tomb, which might not have been in Capernaum per se...I'm not sure why you suppose it would be) and (b) the evidence is far more effectively explained symbolically rather than as some sort of embellished historical report (as I pointed out Mark creates the "young man" for a specific symbolic purpose, a theory that explains several strange things--such as why this young man is never named yet Mark sees fit to specifically go out of his way to mention that he ran away naked just a chapter earlier--which would be odd on the assumption this was just straight historical reporting).

-----

Quine said... Actually, Mark is not the earliest source--Paul's letters are, particularly 1 Corinthians (around 50 AD), in which the resurrection appearances to the disciples are described.

Well, actually, no, they aren't. They are only mentioned there. The distinction is crucial. There is no description there of what anyone saw or any of the precise circumstances. At most this permits us to say that at least people were claiming to have seen Jesus in some sense, but we already knew that because Paul tells us so in Galatians 1 and 1 Cor. 9:1 (though in the former, as I noted in the debate, what he tells us does not support the Gospels). I point out a great deal more about this fact in The Empty Tomb.

-----

Amenhotep said... But my point remains - our earliest source dealing with the first two points - burial & empty tomb - is the Gospel of Mark, and it does not contain any post-resurrection appearances at all (apart from the forged ending).

Mark 16:7 nevertheless refers to his being seen. Thus the author certainly knew there were appearances.

The ending of the "genuine" (if that's an appropriate term) part of the gospel of Mark is rather abrupt; it does make you wonder what the *real* ending was intended to be...

Actually, I think this is close to being solved. In Sources of the Jesus Tradition James Tabor will present a reasonably convincing case that GJohn 21 (at least the first half) and GPeter 14 mutually derive from what may be the original ending of Mark. I think that's very likely, even if we can't be sure.

-----

Dave Huntsman said... As Dom Crossan has pointed out, out of the thousands the Romans crucified between 4 bce and the departure of Pilate/Caiaphas, only a single crucified grave has been found. Just one.

This is an example of an embarrassingly uninformed argument, which enrages me constantly. Crossan is disturbingly bad at this. Craig Evans presents a decisive refutation of this argument in the June 2005 issue of The Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. In short, it is multiply fallacious.

...you were meant to be publicly broken, publicly suffer, publicly die - and publicly continue to hang there, for the animals.

I refute this in my chapter on "Burial" in The Empty Tomb. The Evans article also does a nice job of corroborating my arguments to the same effect: Crossan simply doesn't know what he's talking about. His argument is not only a hasty generalization and a category fallacy, it is contradicted by evidence, directly and indirectly.

Eric said...

Richard, I think it's awesome that you took so much time to respond to so many comments. I can't speak for everyone, so thanks for taking the time to respond to mine!

Dave Huntsman said...

Thanks for the references, RIchard; I'll check them out.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Rick,

I guess we have a difference of opinion on proper strategies here. Educating and audience is one thing when you have more than an hour to work with and when certain expectations don't apply. Your version works much better in lecture format or for like a week long seminar. The kind of case you pitched easily lent to little tidbits being blown way out of proportion and WLC easily milked the audiences' prejudices to where people don't even remember what you did argue. I would not have tried to make this a technically sound academic debate as you clearly were trying to do. In a debate with WLC I would have been in it to win it, and would have been careful to play the game he does, but better, since that's not really that hard to do. The education part for Christians then is that even on their own terms their case doesn't work, and "oh btw, I have a serious academic case in my books." That's my opinion anyway. I do think, even given your choices here, that you could have picked up a lot of force from a Q and A where both of you can respond to the same question. Oh well. I would demand that next time, if I were you.

Ben

Anthony said...

Richard said... I knew he was going to attempt that fallacy, which is why I responded to it at the end of my opening. I had even considered before the event making the specific point that it was a poisoning-the-well fallacy. But I thought that might set the wrong tone for the debate. It was enough to point out the irrelevance of it and that my position is not as extreme as he was suggesting (since I don't consider it established).

Thanks for your reply. One person over at DC argued that he did not believe Craig's statement was a "poisoning-the-well" fallacy.

I'm not sure if Craig thinks deliberate fallacies are legitimate (which I can only consider dishonest--I would be ashamed to resort to such tactics myself) or if he honestly doesn't realize this was a fallacy.

Whether he realized it was a fallacy or not, it was still a cheap shot that I'm sure prejudiced many in the audience.

macroman said...

"Mark placed the women at the empty tomb to show that the least would be first, implying that there was some bias against women."

Didn't someone make the argument, somewhere, that women were chosen to make plausible the ending; that the women told no one. So in answer to a Christian of AD90 who reads mark and says "How come I never heard of this empty tomb before?" the guy pushing Mark's gospel says "Well, you know women ... they were so scared they never told anyone, never realising how important it was until much later when this author got it from them" or something like that.

Solon said...

>>The response would have been that even in the passages with semitisms there is clear evidence of Lukanisms, thus demonstrating that he has altered his Aramaic sources even if he had them--even though as I did point out there cannot have been any such sources, since there were no stenographers transcribing street sermons--that happened, but rarely, and there is no evidence it was going on in this case, and it was only possible because of the invention of shorthand, and I don't know any evidence of an Aramaic shorthand having existed at the time...


If having to wade through endless gobbledygook like this doesn't show why your entire syllogism-wielding approach is so badly off-target, well, nothing will. Good luck converting 3 or 4 philosophy students.

>>I don't get your point.

Hey, we agree on something! :-)

unBeguiled said...

Richard,

I found your response to me clear and interesting. Particularly your reference to right-wing authoritarianism, a notion I had not previously encountered. Realize, however, that by labeling something a personality disorder, you are encroaching on technical language used in the medical profession. You will not find "right-wing authoritarian personality disorder" in the DSM-IV-TR.

You assume he is lying, because you assume he is not delusional.

Wrong. I think he is probably both. This is of course a judgment call by me. Craig cherry picks from science to support his dogmatic beliefs. I think that is dishonest. I might be mistaken.

Amenhotep said...

Richard, you make good points. However, what I'm trying to do is show that you don't need to presuppose *much* (OK, just a little) embellishment to create a highly plausible non-resurrection scenario which actually *accepts* Craig's points 1 & 2 (and 3&4 are simply fluff anyway).

Capernaum, because that's where Jesus (I'm assuming he did exist, although I'll nod to your counter-arguments) was probably originally from. "Nazareth" and "Nazarene" are (I suggest) a corruption of "Nazirite" or possibly even "Genessaret", which is of course the region immediately around Capernaum, as well as a name for the lake itself. Current "Nazareth" only seems to have acquired this title following the visit of the Empress Helena, and probably wasn't even inhabited at the time of Jesus (IIRC it's not even mentioned in Josephus, despite his extensive coverage of events in the region).

As for the legality of moving the body, I'll have to read your argument about that. My reading of the texts is that the burial was only ever intended to be a temporary resting spot, while they got the sabbath over, and indeed, the women are reported to have initially assumed that the body was just moved, not horrified by some legal infractions.

However, you are right in that Mark was embellishing and theobabbling too - that wasn't just the derivative gospellers. But if you're up against Craig again, this is the take-home for the audience - a resurrection is *not* the best explanation, even *assuming* the gospels are largely correct.

Keep up the good work :-)

-A

Pikemann Urge said...

Well, it looks like the video is up on YouTube. Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqoRVplbW5Q

Audio is average. I don't have time to watch now anyway.

Tommy said...

Solon said:
If having to wade through endless gobbledygook like this doesn't show why your entire syllogism-wielding approach is so badly off-target, well, nothing will. Good luck converting 3 or 4 philosophy students.

What a shocking indictment of your education if you find the paragraph of Carrier's you quoted to be "goobledygook". It's perfectly clear and reasonable IMHO.

Will Fenio said...

I, personally, don't understand why any of Craig's 4 "facts" have to be historically granted. I guess it is because I look at the entire context of the information. The fact that we have no gospels dated earlier than mid second century..and even that is only a fragment (P52). We have very weak reasons to believe that they even come from as early as 70CE. It is only posited as such to push it back as close to the period of Jesus' supposed life as is historically plausible. But really there is no solid reason to push it before the bar Kokhba revolt, in my opinion. Anyway, we have these extremely late documents (that obviously use each other and contradict each other) that make supernatural claims. In fact the whole point of the story is supernatural because it all leads up to the resurrection. And we are supposed to take these as giving reliable historical data? Together with the fact the extra canonical evidence is also extremely weak and sparse as well. I see no reason to assume that any of those "bedrock facts" are historically real at all, beyond being just inspired religious fiction. It seems that if you arbitrarily cut into the story whose overall thrust is supernatural, and take a few parts that, in themselves, are believable is not the proper way to do history. You have to take it in the overall context which is a story about the Son of God that was born of a virgin, does miracles and returns from the dead to atone for the sins of mankind. I suppose there could be a historical core to it that was later imbellished, it is true that that possibility cannot be ruled out - but it seems unwarranted to jump to such a conclusion so fast. And the whole James the brother of the lord thing is a lot weaker than i used to think too. I just can't understand why the mythicist position is not more accepted in the mainstream. I realize that it can't be proved either way, and more evidence could surface in support of either theory (historical core vs mythicist). But the way it looks now, the historicists have precious little to go on, in my opinion.

Amenhotep said...

Will, fair points. After all, people *did* write fiction in those days, and it is absolutely not impossible that the story of Jesus was one of those fictions that gathered its own "Leigh and Baigent" coterie.

In debates with folks like Craig, however, I think it is potentially much more productive to show that *even if* we accept his points 1 & 2, he is still not much further on. Bart Ehrman tried this, but it's difficult to gauge whether it convinces anyone in the audience to a debate.

Will Fenio said...

Amenhotep,

thats true.. and i certainly see the point of that approach. And I fullyt admit that the mythicist position could be wrong...the state of the evidence can't prove it either way. But I think an honest assessment of the actual evidence (earliest surviving texts, noncanonical references, etc.) really make the mythicist position much more plausible and probable than mainstream scholarship is allowing for. I think Carrier's new book will contribute alot to changing this state of affairs in this corner of academia.

Will Fenio said...

THe more I have thought about it, I don't think the categorical fiction/nonfiction dichotomy totally corresponds to what Gospel writers were doing. It seems that they may have thought that they could derive actual history through a process that we would identify as creative fiction making. I think that Carrier, Doherty and Price are right. THe authors of the gospels were using other literary models (OT and Hellenistic)to uncover a true history of Jesus. THey obviously were creativily reinterpreting and reworking old testament stories that they thought had to pertained to the role of jesus. THey also used parallels to show Jesus' superiority to Pagan heroes and gods.. I think, in their minds they were uncovering a true history to some extent. Its hard to know to what extent they knew they were being fiction writers. Its a very fascinating think to speculate about. I don't claim to know for sure on any of these things. Its just the way it looks to me.

Amenhotep said...

Will,
Yes indeed - I'm looking forward to studying the arguments! I still think, however, that a debate is a difficult place to put forward the minutiae of such a case, where the audience will be seriously weighted against it. Sometimes mustard seeds are the way to proceed, rather than nukes, but nukes have their place.

It's like verbal Ju Jitsu - use the opponent's strikes against him, by softly re-directing his momentum. Because essentially Craig's entire argument is fluff. When I was a theist, I had never studied the gospels side-by-side - I find that encouraging theists to do that frequently yields interesting results - you can see the little "wtfs" going off inside their heads...

Cheers,
-A

Pikemann Urge said...

Will: I don't think the categorical fiction/nonfiction dichotomy totally corresponds to what Gospel writers were doing. It seems that they may have thought that they could derive actual history through a process that we would identify as creative fiction making.

I think that's one of the keys of understanding it. The apologetical POV, as well as simplistic thinking, force upon us that either-or position.

Amenhotep: When I was a theist, I had never studied the gospels side-by-side

Very good point. I never did that either. Bart Ehrman emphasizes this method. I mean, even now I'm surprised at how different the Gospels are to each other, even though they're so close in many ways.

I'm now reading Jesus, Interrupted and it's amazing to see so many problems, some of which were right under our noses all that time.

Will Fenio said...

Pikemann Urge,

Cool, I just got the new Ehrman book too, "Jesus Interrupted". I don't know much about your position (mythicism or historical Jesus), but I am having a good time looking at Ehrman's chapter where he applies his criteria and gives us what he takes to be the facts about the historical Jesus. I don't know what you think of it, but alot his facts that he claims to tease out of the text seem very suspect. For example he claims that Jesus was probably really baptized by John the baptist because the criterion of dissimilarity shows that a christian wouldn't have made up such an embarrassing story, so therefore it must have been historicallly true. But I then look in Robert M. Price's book "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man", and he has a whole chapter about plausible alternative reasons for the John the Baptist story to be a literary construct. In fact I am having fun going through all of Ehrman's historical claims about Jesus in the gospels and comparing them to Price's more nuanced and sophisticated application of the same historical methodological criteria for other, highly plausible, non-historical options.
Of course, Price does not claim absolute certainty about any of possible alternative explanations; he simply offers them as strong possibilities, thereby showing that Ehrman's certainty of their historicity is unjustified.
Anyway, that's the way it looks to me. I think Price's book is great for just this reason.

Will Fenio said...

Ehrman's book is great for showing the contradictions in a highly accessible form, though. Don't mean to cast him in a negative light. I think he is very good in alot of ways. I just disagree with him on the historical Jesus stuff.

Pikemann Urge said...

Will, you're mostly right IMHO. Price cuts to the chase. He has a good 'feel' for what's going on (something Richard Dawkins would squirm at!) even though he isn't as thorough as Ehrman is. But Ehrman is, justifiably, limiting himself to solid evidence, not just what is 'obvious'.

But your point above still stands: it isn't either-or, it's a matter of motivation.

Hitchens would probably agree with Ehrman a little bit. Hitchens in a debate said:

"None of the story of the Nativity is true in any detail and not one of the Gospels agrees with each other on this fabrication. But the fabrication itself suggests something. If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and there'd never been any such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there, and leave out the Nazarene business."

I hope that Richard considers respectfully Ehrman and Hitchens on this point.

Amenhotep said...

Interesting. Someone may be able to help me out here - I don't know if Ehrman or Richard discuss this, but I've sometimes wondered about the "Nazareth" business. It strikes me that the greek authors of the NT (*including* Matthew) may have misinterpreted "Nazarene" to mean "from Nazareth", when in fact it meant nothing of the sort (cf. "Damascus" and "Damascene"), but rather a corrpution of "Nazirite". [There is of course the slight issue that Nazareth is not built on a hill with a cliff, making it tricky for the locals to throw Jesus off anything, without trudging a mile *outside* the town to the traditional site].

Either that, or present-day Nazareth (which is quite far from Capernaum) had nothing to do with Jesus at all, and instead he was from [Ge]NESSARET (Ginosar), which is just along the lake from Capernaum (but again, a bit short of cliffs!).

I know this is slightly off topic, and has probably been addressed elsewhere (maybe by Ehrman?). Any pointers welcome!

-A

Will Fenio said...

Amenhotep,

That is interesting. I was just reading Ehrman on this issue in his new book "Jesus Interrupted". Here is what he says in it:

"You can see why Christians might want to say that Jesus came from Bethlehem: that was where the son of David was to come from. But who would make up a story that the Savior came from Nazareth, a little one-horse town that no one had ever heard of? This tradition does not advance any Christian agenda. Somewhat ironically, then, it is probably historically accurate."

Here is Dr. Robert M. Price on the same issue (from his book "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man"):

"Despite the rendering of many English Bible translations, Jesus is very seldom called "Jesus from Nazareth" in the Gospels. Mark calls him "Jesus the Nazarene", as does Luke twice, while Matthew, John and Acts always call him "Jesus the Nazorean", with Luke using this epithet once. Some critics have questioned whether the village of Nazareth even existed in the time of Jesus, since it receives no mention outside the Gospels until the third century. Whether that is important or not, the difference between "Nazarene" and "Nazorean" does give us reason to suspect that the familiar epithet does not after all denote Jesus' hailing from a village called Nazareth. "The Nazarene" would imply that, but not "the Nazorean". That seems to be a sect name, equivalent to "the Essene" or "the Hasid". Epiphanius, an early christian cataloguer of "heresies", mentions a pre-Christian sect called "the Nazoreans," their name meaning "the Keepers" of the Torah, or possibly of the secrets."

anyway, hope that helps.
peace,
Will

Amenhotep said...

Thanks Will - that's very helpful. I try not to disagree too much with the Bartmeister when I can help it, but Price has my vote on this. I haven't read his book yet, but now I will :-)

On this, does anyone know the etymology behind "Genessaret" itself? I had a thought it might have once been "Gai Nessaret" - the "Valley of Nessaret" (whatever Nessaret might mean), which might then tie in to "Nazareth".

As for modern Nazareth, it's probably called that because the Empress Helena, on her tour of the region, was looking for "Nazareth", and some enterprising locals thought this would be a good bandwagon, and convinced her that it was there...

Will Fenio said...

Amenhotep,
great, glad it was of some help.

cool, I didn't know that about Empress Helena findindg Nazareth...that makes alot of sense. definitely seems like a good possibility.

yeah, I was really empressed with Price's book, "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man". I think one of the most appealing things about it is the humility with which he offers his plausible alternatives. He doesn't pretend absolute certainty, but his reasoning is always very logical and his use of historical methodolgy is very solid. Anyway, I don't want to talk it up too much, you may not find it as persuasive and impressive as i did. I hope you get to check it out though. After reading it and then going back to Ehrman, i did feel that Ehrman was in some ways too myopic in his analyses, and he sometimes seems to certain on historical questions. But I really get alot out of his work as well. I've learned alot, especially where mainstream scholarship stands on most issues. Ehrman has a very clear writing style which makes it easy to digest the ideas, along with a strong mastery of the material.

anyway, take care.
-Will

Will77 said...

I just got the new book called "Christ in Egypt" by D. M. Murdock / Acharya S. Her earlier books were ridiculous, but her last book "Who Was Jesus?" was alot better and more serious, it seemed to me anyway. I really wish Richard Carrier would review this new one because it looks pretty serious but I can't decide if she is a scholar or a charlatan, or maybe a little bit of both. any thoughts about this from anyone?

Richard Carrier said...

MISCELLANEAI deleted the post by "Thomas Verenna Hawkins" because it was a sock-puppet forgery using someone else's name. That's immoral, and borderline illegal.

--

Solon: I'm pretty sure everyone else here understands me, so you're on your own.

--

Pikemann Urge said... it looks like the video is up on YouTubeThat looks like a pirate. The organizers had multiple cameras closer to the stage and of course had direct audio. So there will be a much better official video in time.

--

unBeguiled: You are correct: though the right-wing authoritarian personality has been scientifically demonstrated to exist, the psychiatric community has not formally identified it as a disorder. It certainly looks like a disorder to me, but then that's just my opinion (and the opinion of a few psychologists). It's enough to identify what it entails as far as behavior and fallacious belief formation. People like you and I can then decide for ourselves whether it's a problem or not.

Richard Carrier said...

MAKING OTHER ARGUMENTSMacroman said... Didn't someone make the argument, somewhere, that women were chosen [by Mark for his empty tomb story] to make plausible the ending; that the women told no one. That's a popular argument advanced even by serious scholars but IMO it isn't plausible, because (a) it is not a logical strategy for Mark unless we assume Mark meant the reader to understand that the women eventually told him, but he explicitly doesn't say that (he never says they are his source or that he knows what he reports because they were there or any such thing--he also never says anything like what you propose he implied), and (b) such a claim presumes Mark is fabricating testimony (i.e. that he is actually interested in explaining why the story hadn't circulated yet, and therefore wants us to believe it actually happened), but I am fairly certain Mark is creating myth, not history (IMO his aim is not to claim something happened, but to symbolize the ideals of the gospel in a story). Because of (a) I think it's a weak argument for anyone to use, and because of (b) it's not an argument I'm going to use (simply because I don't believe it).

Amenhotep said... ...what I'm trying to do is show that you don't need to presuppose *much* (OK, just a little) embellishment to create a highly plausible non-resurrection scenario which actually *accepts* Craig's points 1 & 2 (and 3&4 are simply fluff anyway).But that's maybe a major difference between Craig and I: I find it dishonest to defend theories I don't believe are true, "merely" because they are easy to defend in an oral debate. In fact, that's why I find debates so distasteful generally, precisely because they make the weaker argument the stronger. In complex empirical questions, the stronger argument requires considerable analysis, understanding, and deliberation to appreciate why it is more likely true, which is why oral debate is never a good vehicle for it.

Will Fenio said... I, personally, don't understand why any of Craig's 4 "facts" have to be historically granted.Keep in mind that there is a difference between real argument and stage debate. Obviously in reality one could argue against all four being known with sufficient certainty to sustain his conclusion. But there is simply not even a fraction of the required time to manage that in an oral debate. That's one of the reasons debates are so artificial and of very little use in deciding complex questions like this. You have to cut most of it loose and focus on only a few issues, not because that is logically how one should do it, but simply because it's physically impossible to do it any other way in such a limited venue.

The fact that we have no gospels dated earlier than mid second century...and even that is only a fragment (P52). We have very weak reasons to believe that they even come from as early as 70CE. It is only posited as such to push it back as close to the period of Jesus' supposed life as is historically plausible.The dating of the Gospels (in and of itself) doesn't matter as much as you think. Late documents can in principle be reliable, so even resolving their dates doesn't conclude any debate as to the value of the information they contain. Dating the Gospels is also an extraordinarily complicated issue that couldn't be resolved even for a single Gospel in a single oral debate devoted solely to that (see, for example, Ignatian Vexation).

And we are supposed to take these [Gospels] as giving reliable historical data?That the answer is "no" was exactly my argument. However, the crucifixion and burial are attested by Paul, so dating the Gospels is irrelevant to points 1 and 2 (unless you want to nit pick over exactly who buried or crucified Jesus, but that would be an irrelevant digression, IMO).

Richard Carrier said...

RANDOM HISTORY STUFFAmenhotep said... Capernaum, because that's where Jesus...was probably originally from.But how do you know this? The Gospels say he lived there, not that he was born or raised there, or even stayed there long. And Capernaum was indirectly predicted as the origin of the messianic "light" in Isaiah 9:1 (acc. to Matthew 4:13-17), so there was a reason to invent the town as the origin of the preaching of the Gospel.

Current "Nazareth" only seems to have acquired this title following the visit of the Empress Helena, and probably wasn't even inhabited at the time of Jesus (IIRC it's not even mentioned in Josephus, despite his extensive coverage of events in the region).Josephus says there were hundreds of cities in Galilee. He names only a fraction. The last argument is therefore a non sequitur (typical of Nazareth ahistoricity nonsense circulating on the web, don't fall for this stuff). The first argument is refuted by an inscription of the 3rd or 4th century A.D. establishing the existence of Nazareth as a haven for refugee priests after the Jewish War (and that can only mean the first war, since the temple was then destroyed and unmanned, not later). This inscription was erected by Jews (not Christians) decades before Helena, and certainly reflects data from the 1st century (I can't imagine where else it would have come from).

Your middle claim could be true (some peer reviewed discussions of late seem to concede the possibility that there is no definite evidence of an early 1st-century Nazareth), though there is a difference between not having evidence and the town not being there. Personally, I find it hard to believe the town would suddenly appear and get that name just in time to take in priests after the first Jewish War (entailing a narrow window between 36 and 66 A.D. for its founding or renaming, but if it could happen then, why not earlier?).

I know Salm has arguments against all this, but they don't seem that strong to me (in his book, in fact, all he has are mere possibilities, and some quotations of Schürer, a long-dead historian whose assertions were often vague and speculative and whose work has been rendered largely obsolete by more recent scholarship on the 1st century and Judaism). I leave it to the experts to debate the matter. Until there is a consensus against an early 1st century Nazareth, we should be skeptical of claims to the contrary.

There is of course the slight issue that Nazareth is not built on a hill with a cliff, making it tricky for the locals to throw Jesus off anything, without trudging a mile *outside* the town to the traditional site.Another example of an ill-informed argument that you may be falling victim to. The Mishnah establishes that what this narrative would mean by a "brow" is a gallows ramp that must be built for the purpose if no natural one was available. And it didn't need to be very high, just enough for an uncontrolled fall to be commonly lethal. Nazareth is also in fact built on a hill, making such a ramp even easier to assemble. Yes, the "traditional" site is far away and totally implausible (it's not even traversable). But that's ignorant Christian pilgrims for you, not having any idea of Jewish law or practice, and having wild fantasies in their heads about what the Gospel stories were about. In reality, for town stoning Jesus would have been led to the town gallows ramp, and Nazareth could easily have had one, and we would have no reason to expect any evidence of it to survive.

Will Fenio said... It seems that they may have thought that they could derive actual history through a process that we would identify as creative fiction making...I think, in their minds they were uncovering a true history to some extent.I now believe that's less probable than either (a) not even intending to do so (Mark? Matthew?) and (b) pretending to do so but knowing full well it's made-up (Luke? John?). That is, what you suggest may be logically possible, but unless you can establish that it happened with some frequency in antiquity, we have no reason to believe it happened in this case (unless, of course, you can somehow directly prove it did). In contrast, both propagandistic lying and symbolic mythmaking are well attested phenomena in ancient literature, as is both successful and erroneous truthtelling. So those are the four hypotheses to test. Their prior probability is much higher than your fifth option.

Pikemann Urge said... ...why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there, and leave out the Nazarene business.Maybe for the same reason Matthew has Jesus implausibly riding into town on two donkeys simultaneously: he was trying to make the facts fit prophecy.

Prophecy likewise held that the messiah had to come from both Bethlehem and Capernaum, a contradiction the Gospels all harmonize by having him born in B and move to C to begin his ministry. Matthew claims there was a third prophecy requiring it be Nazareth, so that third option was harmonized into the story as well. But Mark shows no knowledge of Jesus being born at Bethlehem, and is the first on record to say that he came from Nazareth (1:9). Thus, Matthew and Luke were also compelled to harmonize Mark with the OT. The question that remains is why Mark thought (or claimed) Jesus came from Nazareth. The same question can be asked of why Mark thought (or claimed) Joseph came from Arimathea. The answers might well be similar, as many bona fide scholars have argued (Amenhotep, your idea has indeed been discussed in the literature, among others).

Anyway, I'll discuss the scholarship and logical probabilities in my book.

In general: I recommend some caution in reading Price. As has been said here, he should often be understood as stating possibilities rather than certainties, and anything he argues may have been refuted or challenged by scholars elsewhere. I recommend even greater caution in reading Murdock. She is not as qualified as Price, and has in the past gone way beyond what the evidence renders plausible. But I agree it looks like her more recent work (no longer under her past pseudonym) is more cautious and worth a review. I'll consider it.

Richard Carrier said...

A really good advice blog just went up: Advice For Debating William Lane Craig. I agree with nearly everything he says. I just don't think it's possible to fulfill.

For example, it is unrealistic to expect anyone to be a lifelong professionally trained debater and a Ph.D. in an academic field. In fact, I do not know anyone who fits that bill (except Craig, whose background is exceptional in this regard). Yet, if no experts ever debated Craig citing lack of skill (as Andrew is essentially recommending), you know he will translate that into "they can't beat me, therefore they know I'm right," which buys into the very bankrupt epistemology I've already decried here: the belief that winning or losing a debate actually has anything to do with the truth.

Which leads to my second problem: e.g. Andrew recommends rebutting the argument from analogy in the teleological argument with a 13 word response ("universes aren't like watches" or situational equivalent). But Craig will respond to that with an extension (often with an argument to authority) and/or claim a drop ("that's a mere assertion, and fails to address my point").

The reason experts deliver longer rebuttals is because we care about being honest and qualifying what we say, and because of a concern to short-stop his expected responses. Now, I agree, using the briefer mode forces Craig to waste time responding, and presumably you can rapid-rebut with a list of assertions at close for a technical win, but that is simply too shady for me. It feels sleazy to say things you know are over-simplifications or have rebuttals that you should address (and, of course, Craig will castigate you for exactly that).

And that is why I very much dislike debates. Seen the way this Andrew views them, they are a mere game, avoiding any real interest in learning anything or discovering the truth or honestly evaluating the evidence. If what people want is for us to beat Craig at a pointless game, I'm really not interested.

I'd rather tell people the truth and why I believe it, and educate them on something they didn't know before. If I concentrated instead on shotgunning Craig with calculated over-simplified assertions, I concede such a tactic might score a technical win. But no one will learn anything and the truth will ultimately be obfuscated behind a shallow curtain of assertions. What, then, will have been the point of winning?

Pikemann Urge said...

No doubt you are mostly correct in your attitude. I hope that doesn't mean that debates are not worth having!

Last year D'Souza and Hitchens debated at Freedom Fest, a Libertarian conference. Hitchens, a very enthusiastic and willing participant, happily conceded a (close) defeat to his opponent.

Right or not, Hitchens seemed more sophisticated and to me simply outclassed D'Souza. Those impressions may seep into the minds of those on the fence or open-minded enough to consider a shift in their thinking.

To Craig's hypothetical "that's a mere assertion, and fails to address my point" could you not reply, "Craig was the one who implied that universes are like watches, not I"?

Andrew T. said...

Richard,

I am in almost total agreement with everything you have to say. Thanks for the kind words, and it seems like you've taken them in the spirit in which my post was intended. I think you're doing tremendously good work in the atheist community, and I hope nothing I've said undercuts that in any way.

I've got another post on debates ready to go up at my blog (www.evaluatingchristianity.wordpress.com), and I'd like to quote you if you're amenable to that.

cheers,
-Andrew

Andrew T. said...

Pikemann Urge: Exactly. In such a debate, I would encourage the atheist to use the cross-examination time to ask Craig a series of "In your original presentation, what's the warrant for X" questions.

Craig generally omits warrants to save time and then supplies them only when challenged in rebuttals. It's one of the many things I think debaters should understand about Craig's tactics.

cheers,
-Andrew

jdhuey said...

Is the debate format really the best way (or even a good way) to explore this topic? "Winning" a debate seems to have nothing to do with the truth or validity of the proposition.

jdhuey said...

After I posted my comment, I see that Richard had already addressed the issue just a few post previous. So: never mind.

Zach Weston said...

Hi, I read most of the thread, and attended the debate in person. Richard, i'm sorry that you felt the crowd was in some ways hostile against you, and it made me sick. My question, which is a tangent of sorts, is why wasn't, and it may be an obvious answer I just have never heard, was 1 Peter not brought into the argument? Peter being an eyewitness and also a writer of an epistle? Thanks.

Steven Carr said...

Symbolism in Mark

Even the most ardent inerrantist will claim that the 12 disciples in Mark are symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel.

It is just claimed to be historical as well.

So maintaining that details in Mark were chosen for their symbolic value is hardly a 'crank' position.

It is mainstream.

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge said... To Craig's hypothetical "that's a mere assertion, and fails to address my point" could you not reply, "Craig was the one who implied that universes are like watches, not I"?

We are too into the hypothetical now (e.g. Craig would never argue that). But in principle, I agree a debate can become just that, a back-and-forth game of one-liners. I just don't see what the point of such a debate would then be.

Zach Weston said... Why was...1 Peter not brought into the argument? Peter being an eyewitness and also a writer of an epistle?

1 Peter contains no testimony relevant to Craig's argument (e.g. it never mentions an empty tomb or describes what Peter saw after Jesus rose). It's authenticity is also widely questioned. Although that kind of thing doesn't stop Craig usually, he's smart enough to avoid a muddle he doesn't need.

Richard Carrier said...

Andrew T. said... I hope nothing I've said undercuts that in any way.

Certainly no worries there. Like I said, I highly recommend your post on this subject. It's quite useful and (my favorite thing of all) educational, without being boring or verbose. (What every good blogger aspires to write!) Even those of us who can't implement its every suggestion, or who disagree with its stated goals, can still improve what we do with a better understanding of what's going on, and what we are giving up if we aim for something else.

And yes, you can certainly quote anything I've written here (and you can grab a hyperlink to the specific comment even: right-click, or equivalent, the date line beneath the comment entry being quoted).

Richard Carrier said...

Steven Carr said... ...maintaining that details in Mark were chosen for their symbolic value is hardly a 'crank' position. It is mainstream.

Correct. I even named several respected scholars in the debate. Craig ignored them all. But I suspect he would have tried to bifurcate the issue into accepting symbolic fictions of trivia (like the exact number of disciples) and accepting symbolic fictions of essentia (like there being any disciples at all, though that wasn't in dispute in that debate). When he was attacking my position as crank, he meant my doing the latter kind of thing, not the former. Though that's still mainstream, it is also debated (e.g. Craig can find numerous "experts" who insist it's not true, just as I can find numerous professors of biblical studies who insist it is, and a debate that just shouts lists of names at each other is a waste of everyone's time, IMO--though as I've noted before, I'm not sure Craig understands my feelings about that).

mpg said...

Hi Richard

In the course of your debate with Craig, I think he offered several rebuttals which, if true, would be devastating to your general thesis. Do you think, outside of the crucible of debate, that Carig offered any rebuttals that genuinely offered a serious challenge to your conclusions? What are the key mistakes you think Craig made in attempting to refute your position?

Cheers

Bernard said...

Since this blog is about the alleged Jesus' resurrection, here are some conclusions from my research on this matter:
The first Christians did believe he went to heaven, but just his spirit (or soul). That was wishful thinking at first, but this kind of spiritual raising was in line with Pharisaic and Philo of Alexandria beliefs.
Why? The King (or Christ) could not have just died on the cross (that is prior to ruling over the future Kingdom of God on earth, as believed by them). He had to be saved in heaven!
The OT (more so the psalms) could then be mined in order to find reassurance on that. And soon after, in order to raise their status, some early Christians (as Paul) claimed to have revelation from above.
"Luke" was the first one to "demonstrate" a bodily resurrection for Jesus. Prior to gLuke, "Mark", with the empty tomb, might have suggested Jesus' bodily resurrection, but certainly did not go all the way in order to "prove" it.
Why a bodily resurrection?
After waiting so long, and having doubts because of the delay, reassure the Christians that Jesus was not just a dead man, but was truly resurrected: so "visual proof" had to be provided (with words!).


BTW, I think the Empty Tomb passage in GMark (15:40 to 16:8) was an addition, either an afterthought by the original author, or, more likely, a very early interpolation. And 1Cor 15:3-11 is definitively an interpolation.

Best regards, Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

MPG said... In the course of your debate with Craig, I think he offered several rebuttals which, if true, would be devastating to your general thesis. Do you think, outside of the crucible of debate, that Carig offered any rebuttals that genuinely offered a serious challenge to your conclusions?

No.

What are the key mistakes you think Craig made in attempting to refute your position?

There are too many possible senses of "key" and "mistake" here. Just picking some at random: Craig spent way too much time rebutting irrelevant arguments (e.g. he attacked at length my theory of two-body resurrection even though I never defended it in that debate--which renders all those rebuttals of his non sequiturs), and relied on too many shallow fallacies (e.g. calling my exegesis crank and fringe when in fact it is mainstream and advocated by numerous eminent scholars; or insisting the speeches of Acts contain semitisms and therefore two allusions in them to an empty tomb are pre-Lukan, even though the conclusion doesn't follow from the premise even as stated, and omits the crucial well-established detail that those speeches also show abundant Lukanisms, thus proving they have been reworked by Luke exactly as I said; etc.).

I'm also not sure he ever properly rebutted my argument from hallucination. I demonstrated the Christians were hallucinating regularly--as far as I recall, he completely dropped that, which may be a fatal mistake in any technical scoring, I'd have to listen to the whole debate again to be sure. Although perhaps more damning in the long run was his attempt to claim the crucifixion account in Mark didn't derive elements from Psalm 22--anyone who actually checks will find almost the entire scholarly community against Craig on that point, which IMO will lead anyone who discovers this to start questioning everything else Craig claimed. And such questioning, if pursued to a conclusion, won't go well for him.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... Since this blog is about the alleged Jesus' resurrection, here are some conclusions from my research on this matter: The first Christians did believe he went to heaven, but just his spirit (or soul).

I refute this in my chapter on the "Spiritual Body" in The Empty Tomb. There is no evidence any early Christians believed the mere soul of Jesus went to heaven. Our earliest evidence (Paul) establishes the view that he went to heaven in a body, but not a body made of flesh. Though as I also show there, few people back then believed a spirit or soul wasn't already a body in its own right, so there is overlap in concept, but I show that Paul thought there was no spirit or soul that could survive the death of the flesh unless we are raised by God, and even his enemies at Corinth agreed with this (contrary to what many scholars claim, but I think the evidence against them is conclusive on this point, cf. p. 125).

Why? The King (or Christ) could not have just died on the cross (that is prior to ruling over the future Kingdom of God on earth, as believed by them). He had to be saved in heaven!

In a sense you are right: most men exalted in heaven were taken up before and without dying, so the fact that Jesus had definitely and publicly died (if this fact is historical) would have gotten in the way of any exaltation reaction, unless a resurrection was posited to make such exaltation possible and/or at least comparable to prior exaltation myths within Judaism.

However, I think there was a lot more to it than that. I can't recall if I brought it up in Q&A, but the resurrection of Jesus was intimately connected to apocalypticism from as early as Paul: Jesus had predicted the end was nigh, the general resurrection happens at the end, and from the very beginning Jesus' resurrection was regarded as the beginning of the general resurrection. Thus his resurrection "confirms" his apocalyptic claims (and the immanence of the end times), not just his exaltation by God.

BTW, I think the Empty Tomb passage in GMark (15:40 to 16:8) was an addition, either an afterthought by the original author, or, more likely, a very early interpolation.

Neither is probable. As I show in Empty Tomb these elements are integral to the plot and have deep and deliberate symbolic design that only the original author could be responsible for.

But yes, I do believe the original author is entirely responsible for this, i.e. I doubt Mark got the idea from any prior source, unless Mark copied these literary elements from a prior lost Gospel (which would then be their originator). But in any event, we have no evidence of the story existing prior to Mark.

And 1Cor 15:3-11 is definitively an interpolation.

I disagree. Though some of it, I agree, is very probably interpolated, there are elements that IMO clearly belong to Paul's original, including the reference to burial (which very notably omits any mention of the burial site being found or even thought empty, a fact that IMO actually argues against interpolation).

Richard Carrier said...

From comments elsewhere:

Bernard said... The critical Empty Tomb passage, which appears first in gMark (15:40-16:8), can be argued to have been added to the gospel, because of many discontinuities. For example:

- Why does “(resurrection) after three days” become less than 40 hours?

Because ancient counting customs differed from ours. "After three days" did not then mean after the completion of three whole days, it meant after the marking of three days on a calendar, i.e. as soon as a day begins, it counts as a whole day marked off on the calendar. And Jews counted days as beginning at evening, not dawn. Thus, Jesus dies before Friday evening, then that day ends. So if he rose Friday night that would be "after two days" even if it was only a few hours later, since on a calendar you would mark off Friday, and then Saturday as soon as it began Friday evening (think of it as "after marking off two days, Friday and Saturday"). Since it's "after three days" that means Jesus is understood to have arisen sometime Sunday, which began Saturday evening (since on a calendar, by then three days would be marked off).

Now, Matthew introduces the "three days and three nights" motif, which does indeed make no sense, although see Evan Fales' discussion of "Taming the Tehom" in The Empty Tomb. But that's not in Mark. Nor any other Gospel.

- Why does the body of Jesus need another anointment for burial, when one has been done earlier (Mk14:8)?

Because the women didn't understand what Jesus was talking about. That's the literary point of the whole story.

- Mk15:39 (the (Gentile/Roman) Centurion declaring that Jesus was the Son of God) is an ideal gospel ending for a Gentile audience under Roman rule. But 16:8 (the women being scared and not telling about the empty tomb, which they found opened) invites doubts and questions

Only if you think Mark was writing history, rather than literary myth. As myth all this makes perfect sense and in fact integrates so well with the whole literary structure of the Gospel that it's author is certainly responsible.

Who opened the tomb?

Either Jesus, or God, or an angel. It doesn't matter to Mark. The tomb being open is a symbol and a literary device.

How did “Mark” know about the women visiting the empty tomb?

He didn't. In fact, I doubt he even believed such a thing ever happened. He's making all this up. Unless the story was invented in a prior Gospel Mark is drawing on, in which case all this goes for that author. Either way, it's literary symbolism, and far too well crafted to be an interpolation. See my discussion in The Empty Tomb and Not the Impossible Faith (chapter 11).

How was he sure the women did not tell anybody about it?

Ditto.

‘Acts’ has the passage about the first Pentecost. There are many dubious elements in it and Peter’s speech, with its long OT quotes, is rather unconvincing.Indeed. See my full discussion in Not the Impossible Faith (esp. chapters 7, 13 and 18).

There are more glaring oddities in Acts, though, which I pointed out in the debate, and as far as I recall Craig did not have a very good rebuttal for my argument on this.

Therefore the Resurrection, as the Christian Big Bang, can be easily discarded.

The stories told of it, yes, but it is a non sequitur to jump from that to the conclusion that Christianity's Big Bang wasn't a belief in the resurrection of Jesus, or events (like visions or even finding the body missing) causing that belief.

A general comment: if Jesus had resurrected, then according to the Synoptic gospels (more so gMatthew) and Paul’s epistles, he should have manifested himself during the Day of the Lord and the advent of the Kingdom of God...He did not, the Day did not, which is to be expected from a forever dead false prophet.

Though true and always a good point, in an oral debate this becomes such a time wasting distraction I wouldn't advise using the argument. It will get you entangled in a debate about Christian sectarian theology, interpretation, millenarianism, textual accuracy and so on.

Richard Carrier said...

Invictus said... I would be curious to know if you think it would ever even be possible to prove the occurance of a supernatural event via critical historical inquiry.

Paranormal event, certainly (see my blog for the distinction). But as far as ascertaining whether such an event is supernatural (as there defined), I've discussed this with philosophers and colleagues and would have to make a distinction between hypothetical background scenarios:

(1) Given our background knowledge to date, to demonstrate that a historical paranormal event was supernatural would require scientific evidence establishing the existence and powers of the hypothesized agent. Though all scientific evidence is ultimately just historical evidence, it is historical evidence of an extraordinary quality (as I explain in Sense and Goodness without God), and without such proof of agency, there will always be more probable natural explanations of any paranormal event, by virtue of the fact that such causes (or all the required elements thereof) do have abundant scientific evidence confirming their existence. But that's only the case because our past experience is so overwhelmingly unfavorable to the conclusion that anything supernatural exists at all. Hence...

(2) Given a contra-factual situation, this would not be the case. For instance, if the supernatural was common enough that science and history abundantly confirmed its agency (e.g. if we had scientifically proved incorporeal demonic possession existed and even had entire wings of hospitals and research institutes devoted to it and universities offered degrees in the science of demonology and so on), then historical critical method would be able to pick out genuine cases of the supernatural based on our background evidence (e.g. we could identify probable cases of genuine demon possession in ancient historical records, provided the claim survived the critical process--the situation would be similar to confirming a crime was committed in antiquity: we know quite well such crimes do and did occur, but whether a particular accusation was true or not would remain a challenge to historians without good evidence surviving).

With a claimed supernatural occurance that we might study by direct observation, it seems, the best we could do is determine that no known explantion exists for this phenomenon at present.

No matter what the case, to confirm the supernatural, you would need to develop and posit an actual theory of agency, i.e. human or demonic telekinesis, magic auras, God, whatever. This requirement is conspicuously avoided by most advocates of the supernatural, largely I suspect because it would expose the actual weakness of their claims. But it's what they must do if they want to be able to confirm their claims, whether they like it or not.

Once you have a positive theory of supernatural agency, you would verify it the same way as a positive theory of natural agency: by ruling out alternatives (yes, that's required even of natural explanations, and is standard practice in scientific method) and verifying otherwise peculiar or unlikely features that are predicted by the posited theory (I give examples in the linked blog post above). The conclusion would be, like all scientific conclusions, tentative and revisable in light of new evidence, but in the absence of the latter, it would remain the most probable explanation, possibly by far (depending on the nature of the case: see Why I Am Not a Christian for some relevant examples and discussion).

However, in the context of an oral debate, there isn't time to articulate all these distinctions. I would count it a genuine and honest win for him if Craig could demonstrate beyond any possible valid rebuttal that the resurrection of Jesus occurred as a paranormal event. And since the distinction between that and a supernatural event is too technical and esoteric to matter much in that venue, I simply conceded the possible existence of God and the supernatural, and argued a fortiori that nevertheless the evidence is inadequate to establish the resurrection of Jesus as even a paranormal event, much less a supernatural one.

My general argument was that even if the latter exists, it is far less often the cause of uncommon events (e.g. imagine trying to prove Jesus really did claim he would destroy the temple, one of the charges Mark implies he was tried and convicted for--there is nothing supernatural or even paranormal about that, yet the evidence we have is simply not adequate to ascertain whether the charge was true or, as Mark claims, false, since Mark is obviously not an unbiased reporter of the matter). As far as I recall, Craig never really rebutted that point.

With events claimed to have occured, say, hundreds or thousands of years ago the only data we have is that a few or several people came to believe that something supernatural occured. They may have been honest observers witnessing a heretofore unknown, put naturalistic nonetheless event, or they may have come about there beliefs in the same way so many other people come to fantastical beliefs, or they may have simply made it up. There would seem to me, in cases like these, in cases like the claimed resurrection of jesus, no way of moving past the simple fact that some people claimed it happened and the belief spread.

I agree, insofar as this is the actual state of evidence we face. Although it could have been otherwise (the survival and quality of evidence from antiquity could in principle have been vastly better than it has been, as for example is the case for more recent historical events), that's not the situation we find ourselves in.

However, it's much easier in principle to have evidence of a paranormal event than evidence confirming it was supernatural, and I can imagine cases where, even with the general state of evidence we have, an ancient paranormal event would be credible, even if we couldn't ascertain it's actual cause.

mpg said...

"MPG said... In the course of your debate with Craig, I think he offered several rebuttals which, if true, would be devastating to your general thesis. Do you think, outside of the crucible of debate, that Carig offered any rebuttals that genuinely offered a serious challenge to your conclusions?

No."

Cheers for your thoughts on this. I am starting to see now, why you are not enthusiastic about debates. They're too artificial an arena to truly convey one's arguments. Perhaps you should try and get Craig to do a written debate with you? I find there is much less room for the gamesmanship of oral debate, and I know you have a talent in this arena as I read your debate with Wanchick, and I think you murdered him in that one.

Looking forward to getting your book once it is completed.

mpg

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: Bernard said... The critical Empty Tomb passage, which appears first in gMark (15:40-16:8), can be argued to have been added to the gospel, because of many discontinuities. For example:
- Why does “(resurrection) after three days” become less than 40 hours?

RC: Because ancient counting customs differed from ours. "After three days" did not then mean after the completion of three whole days, it meant after the marking of three days on a calendar, i.e. as soon as a day begins, it counts as a whole day marked off on the calendar. And Jews counted days as beginning at evening, not dawn. Thus, Jesus dies before Friday evening, then that day ends. So if he rose Friday night that would be "after two days" even if it was only a few hours later, since on a calendar you would mark off Friday, and then Saturday as soon as it began Friday evening (think of it as "after marking off two days, Friday and Saturday"). Since it's "after three days" that means Jesus is understood to have arisen sometime Sunday, which began Saturday evening (since on a calendar, by then three days would be marked off).


BM: Thank you Richard, but Josephus did not seem to be aware of these ancient counting customs. From my website (HJ-3, in the Empty Tomb segment):
The fourth day (and NOT the third) immediately follows "after three days", according to ancient customs:
Josephus' Wars, V, VIII, 2 "Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days; but on the fourth day they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus"
Josephus' Ant., IX, I, 3 "He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemy's camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance ..."
And the third day is the next one after two (NOT three) elapsed days:
Josephus' Wars, II, XIX, 7 "There it was that Cestius staid two days, and was in great distress to know what he should do in these circumstances; but when on the third day he saw a still much greater number of enemies, and all the parts round about him full of Jews, he understood that his delay was to his own detriment ..."
Josephus' Wars, III, VIII, 1 "Thus he concealed himself two days; but on the third day,when they had taken a woman who had been with them, he was discovered."
Josephus' Wars, IV, VIII, 1 "... Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages."
Josephus' Ant., I, XIII, 2 "Now the two servants went along with him two days; but on the third day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those servants that were with him till then in the plain, and, having his son alone with him, he came to the mountain."

Josephus understood “on the third day and “after three days” as we do now in our daily lives, in the third millennium.

I also doubt that a few hours on both side of sunset would count for “after two days” for an ancient Jew. Do you have evidence for that? I cannot imagine such an exchange: one hour before sunset, a Jew says to another: “I want to see you back after two days”. The other Jew answers “Sure, I’ll be at your home two hours from now”.
I remember some apologists used the same argument you are making and they quote some ancient Christian writers to show that “on the third day” is the same that “after three days”. But these ancient writers probably took their lead from gMatthew which not only equates “on the third day” with “after three days”, but also (about) 40 hours with ‘three days and three nights’ (72 hours). BTW, “Luke” in the gospel and ‘Acts’ always used “on the third day” and never “after three days” (relative to the time between death and resurrection). “John” never used “on the third day” and “after three days” for the same. I agree that “on the third day” makes more sense for these 40 hours, regardless if you have a Roman day (starting at dawn) or a Jewish one, and that’s probably why “Luke” made the change systematically. However “Matthew”, knowing the problem, but also dealing with a gMark well established in his community, had to be more diplomatic and tried to harmonize to the point of being ridiculous (and introducing the 72 hours of Jonah in the big fish as a prophecy did not help at all).

RC quoting me: - Why does the body of Jesus need another anointment for burial, when one has been done earlier (Mk14:8)?

RC: Because the women didn't understand what Jesus was talking about. That's the literary point of the whole story.


BM: I hate to comment on what I consider fiction. However Jesus says plainly that the anointment is for his burial (14:8). Nothing to understand here. And the subsequent gospellers certainly took the double anointment for burial as embarrassing. Again from my website (HJ-3, in the Empty Tomb segment):
Jesus is already anointed for burial (prior to his arrest):
Mk14:8-9 "She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. ... what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."
It does not look another "anointing" is required! And with Jesus' resurrection only forty hours later (maximum), then the earlier anointment in Bethany would not be necessary!

Remark: let's notice how odd and unrealistic (even ridiculous) is that anointment for burial (14:3-9):
- It happens day(s) before the crucifixion! But normally that is performed on a corpse.

- It is done by pouring the "pure nard" (an entire jar!) on the head! However the "perfume" should be rubbed on the whole body.

-The anointing would render Jesus highly fragrant when still alive!

It seems that "Mark" "forced" a fictitious anointment for burial on a living Jesus. Why? Probably because he knew none could have been done after Jesus' death (conflicting with Jn19:39b-40).

Seemingly aware of the "problems",

- "Matthew" copied from GMark, almost word by word, the anointment for burial in Bethany (26:6-13) and, apparently thinking that was enough, had the women go back to the tomb with NO mention of any intended "anointing" (28:1).
- "Luke" removed altogether the anointment (for burial) in Bethany (but kept the later attempt by the women).

-"John" skillfully never mentioned the whole perfume was poured on Jesus (Jn12:3) (but "Mark" implied it! 14:3-4) and wrote: "But Jesus said, "Let her alone; *she has kept this for the day of My burial [to come!]."" (Jn12:7). Therefore there is no anointment for burial then; it is done later, at the proper time (when Jesus is dead!): his body is given the full (even royal!) treatment at burial ("in accordance with Jewish burial custom") by two men (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) (Jn19:38-42).

RC quoting me: - Mk15:39 (the (Gentile/Roman) Centurion declaring that Jesus was the Son of God) is an ideal gospel ending for a Gentile audience under Roman rule. But 16:8 (the women being scared and not telling about the empty tomb, which they found opened) invites doubts and questions.

RC: Only if you think Mark was writing history, rather than literary myth. As myth all this makes perfect sense and in fact integrates so well with the whole literary structure of the Gospel that it's author is certainly responsible.


BM: “Mark” wanted his booklet to be believed as history. What else? A pile of crap? Certainly not. But I agree what he wrote is mainly literary myth. Anyway, I take Mk15:39 as fiction. Regardless of fiction or (true) history, my point is 15:39 has all the making of a very good gospel ending, more so for a Gentile audience under Roman rule. As far as proving the resurrection (without the Empty Tomb), Mark” had Jesus predicting it three times “after three days” and he made Jesus an excellent prophet, who prophesied the events of 70 in Judea (among other things)! So you put the two together, et voila. Not much, but that was all he would dare for, because there was no story of bodily resurrection yet. And the author of the empty tomb did not go much farther than a missing corpse. Maybe a step in the direction of a bodily resurrection, but still he did not dare to go all the way. And let’s say that Philo of Alexandria, (died 45-50) in ‘the sacrifice of Abel and Cain’, III, (8-9) had Moses, as a soul, go to some abode in heaven close to God and suggested that his unfound tomb was a sign for this passage. So, in these days, a empty or unfound tomb (common: a missing corpse) was not necessarily a proof of a bodily resurrection.

RC quoting me: Who opened the tomb?

RC: Either Jesus, or God, or an angel. It doesn't matter to Mark. The tomb being open is a symbol and a literary device.


BM: What about Jesus’ disciples, or Joseph of A...? Why not. About the former, “Matthew” had to answer that, against those who said and believed so. So that matters and that was a good reason to reject the empty tomb as a proof for Jesus’ resurrection. And the tomb being open is for a very good reason: the author believed women could not do it (Mk16:3). No need to look for symbol or literary device.



RC quoting me: How did “Mark” know about the women visiting the empty tomb?

RC: He didn't. In fact, I doubt he even believed such a thing ever happened. He's making all this up. Unless the story was invented in a prior Gospel Mark is drawing on, in which case all this goes for that author. Either way, it's literary symbolism, and far too well crafted to be an interpolation. See my discussion in The Empty Tomb and Not the Impossible Faith (chapter 11).


BM: I agree the Empty Tomb is all made up. I also think it was an add-on due to the discontinuities, some of them I already exposed. Another one:
The women suddenly appear after Mk15:39. We learned then they followed Jesus in Galilee and watched the cross. Why were they not introduced before, if the author had intended to use them for the empty tomb? Also we learn, again after 15:39, the crucifixion happened the day before Sabbath. Why not say it when the crucifixion happened, that is before 15:39? Ditto. Furthermore it looks to me this Sabbath is mentioned in order to explain why the tomb was not visited for about one day and a half by women eager to anoint Jesus’ body.
Well crafted? I say NO
- “after three days” becomes 40 hours or less (actually, the author did not give any indication when the resurrection occurred. It could have been within the first hour after the body was placed in the tomb: nothing in the writing would prevent that).
- The author had to get the women find the tomb opened, for reason I explained already. That was bound to raise all kind of questions about how the tomb got opened and some of the possible answers were not favorable to what the author wanted his audience to believe (ref: gMatthew).
- Joseph of A..., a Jew, goes shopping in the evening. “Mark” was thinking Roman day, but Joe was actually buying stuff during the Sabbath (starting at sunset), a NO NO for a Jew in Jerusalem. The “problem” was not missed by “Matthew” and “Luke” and “John” who corrected it.
- The women running scared and not telling anybody, after such a good news? Again, the other gospellers changed that.

Maybe you see here some literary symbolism, but do you think the early Christians (most of them uneducated), to whom the gospel was addressed, could see that (instead the other gospellers found “problems” which they corrected)? Would you be the first one to come with this kind of literary symbolism? If you are, then that would prove the author was not so clever (his cuteness was missed for many centuries!), or you are plainly wrong in your interpretations. I also see here, again, the (self-serving) general tendency for a scholar to imagine the gospellers were scholars writing for scholars and therefore can only be understood by a scholar (even if that took 19 centuries or more!).

RC quoting me: A general comment: if Jesus had resurrected, then according to the Synoptic gospels (more so gMatthew) and Paul’s epistles, he should have manifested himself during the Day of the Lord and the advent of the Kingdom of God...He did not, the Day did not, which is to be expected from a forever dead false prophet.

RC: Though true and always a good point, in an oral debate this becomes such a time wasting distraction I wouldn't advise using the argument. It will get you entangled in a debate about Christian sectarian theology, interpretation, millenarianism, textual accuracy and so on.


BM: Absolutely right. Oral debate follows different rules, like: keep it simple, be direct, etc.

Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: Bernard said... Since this blog is about the alleged Jesus' resurrection, here are some conclusions from my research on this matter: The first Christians did believe he went to heaven, but just his spirit (or soul).

RC: I refute this in my chapter on the "Spiritual Body" in The Empty Tomb. There is no evidence any early Christians believed the mere soul of Jesus went to heaven. Our earliest evidence (Paul) establishes the view that he went to heaven in a body, but not a body made of flesh. Though as I also show there, few people back then believed a spirit or soul wasn't already a body in its own right, so there is overlap in concept, but I show that Paul thought there was no spirit or soul that could survive the death of the flesh unless we are raised by God, and even his enemies at Corinth agreed with this (contrary to what many scholars claim, but I think the evidence against them is conclusive on this point, cf. p. 125).


BM: A spiritual body is, yes, spiritual, that is not visible, ethereal and certainly not physical. What about body? Just to say this entity was finite. So I agree with your overlap. Actually I think Paul did not care about details of that imagined “spiritual body”. He certainly did not even try to describe it. And the body part was probably added by Paul to please the Corinthians: eternal life is not enjoyable without a body of some sort and a home in heaven! Paul provided both (with words, of course!)
Paul wrote the dead Christians were just “asleep” (1Th4:13,14,15;1Co11:30,15:18,20,51). No mention of their soul/spirit migrating (such as to Hades) as believed by many Gentiles, even some Jews. But Paul (and his audience) could not deny the physical body decayed and desintegrated after death and burial. So what was left to be “asleep”: the soul/spirit of the dead Christian (who, with a new spiritual body, would go to heaven during the Great Day). If you mean spirit or soul comes alive after the resurrection, I agree (according to Paul). Before the soul or spirit is dormant at the place where the body is buried (again, according to Paul). And if there is no resurrection, dormant is as good as dead.

Finally, the best evidence about Paul seeing heavenly body as spirit, from my website (HJ-2b)
“This is exactly how Jesus is described in heaven (a "spirit"):
1Co15:44-45 "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being [Ge2:7]." The last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving spirit."
And the raised Christians are to be in the image of the heavenly Christ (a "spirit"), himself in God's image:

1Co15:47-49 "The first man [Adam] was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven [Christ]. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man["... Christ, who is the image of God"(2Co4:4)]."”

RC quoting me: Why? The King (or Christ) could not have just died on the cross (that is prior to ruling over the future Kingdom of God on earth, as believed by them). He had to be saved in heaven!

RC: In a sense you are right: most men exalted in heaven were taken up before and without dying, so the fact that Jesus had definitely and publicly died (if this fact is historical) would have gotten in the way of any exaltation reaction, unless a resurrection was posited to make such exaltation possible and/or at least comparable to prior exaltation myths within Judaism.
However, I think there was a lot more to it than that. I can't recall if I brought it up in Q&A, but the resurrection of Jesus was intimately connected to apocalypticism from as early as Paul: Jesus had predicted the end was nigh, the general resurrection happens at the end, and from the very beginning Jesus' resurrection was regarded as the beginning of the general resurrection. Thus his resurrection "confirms" his apocalyptic claims (and the immanence of the end times), not just his exaltation by God.


BM: Sorry, but I think that notion came more as a result of consolation (Oh my God, the one I believe to become the King is dead. That cannot be. He must be saved in heaven (as Philo of Alexandria wrote concerning Moses and Abraham). Also, saving face was probably a factor (I cannot be wrong: He is still alive in heaven and will come back). Exaltation came later. I agree that Jesus’ resurrection was regarded as the first fruits (and an example) of the future one of the dead Christians (according to Paul). However I think it took some time for that idea to come about (Paul was not the first Christian preacher). There is no evidence about that “from the very beginning”. True, according to Paul, the resurrection confirmed the end is near (as after a few decades!).

RC quoting me: And 1Cor 15:3-11 is definitively an interpolation.

RC: I disagree. Though some of it, I agree, is very probably interpolated, there are elements that IMO clearly belong to Paul's original, including the reference to burial (which very notably omits any mention of the burial site being found or even thought empty, a fact that IMO actually argues against interpolation).


BM: I have loads and loads of reasons indicating 1Co15:3-11 is an interpolation. That’s way too long for showing on that blog. But I have them listed and explained on my website, at
http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/co1c.html#adc
If a genuine Pauline 1Co15:3-11 is an important basis for your theories, then may I say you are on the wrong tracks.

Best regards, Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

MPG said... Perhaps you should try and get Craig to do a written debate with you?

I'd be delighted to. I just doubt he would agree, for the very reason you observe: he wouldn't come out looking as well.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... Josephus did not seem to be aware of these ancient counting customs.

I don't see what you seem to be seeing. Or else you aren't paying attention to what I said.

Take the JW 5 passage for example. Now imagine Josephus actually named the calendar days (and I'll use modern English ones just for ease): "Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday--but on the fourth day--Monday--they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus." Now imagine Mark said something similar: "Thus did Jesus rot in the grave for three days--Friday afternoon, then all Saturday and Sunday--but on the fourth day--Monday--he rose from the dead." See what I mean now?

Similarly JA 9: they looted bodies for "three days together" and then on the next day, which is the fourth day, the day after those three days of looting, they spent an additional day partying. I don't know how you are reading these passages any differently. JW 2: two days (say, Friday and Saturday) Cestius stays put, then on the third day (so, Sunday) he realizes he's screwed. JW 3.8: he hid two days (say, from sometime Friday to the end of Saturday) then sometime on the third day (sometime Sunday, i.e. between Saturday sunset and Sunday sunset) he was caught. JW 4: he spent two days (say, a couple hours Monday and a couple hours Tuesday) on business in the city, then sometime the next day (the third day, Wednesday) he took off. JA 1: his servants walked with him for two days (say, Monday and Tuesday), but the next day (Wednesday), he ditched them.

So you aren't paying attention to what I explained to you: the days counted are calendar days, not whole periods of 24 hours. That is an entirely modern notion. You will only find a comparable measure in antiquity when it is explicitly stated (e.g. "three whole days" or as an astronomical measure, e.g. "18 days and 2 hours and 3 minutes" but the former proves the point by the very fact that a specifier is needed, and the latter was a technical practice not used by the public, and certainly not used in the Gospels).

Josephus understood “on the third day and “after three days” as we do now in our daily lives, in the third millennium.

No, he didn't. And I don't see why you think he does. You either aren't reading the passages right, or you don't understand the ancient counting system.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I also doubt that a few hours on both side of sunset would count for “after two days” for an ancient Jew. Do you have evidence for that?

Read the Mishnah. They were very precise about counting days. Their religious law depended on it.

In casual practice, though, certainly if the total period in question were only a few hours, they would say that, just as we do (e.g. if something happened two hours ago and it's 1am you don't usually say "yesterday" you just say two hours ago, even though "yesterday" would still be correct), unless the calendar day was important--and Friday night is exactly when it was.

Then it definitely mattered that a few hours ago was "yesterday" and thus "a day ago," because the Sabbath started, and that was by definition a different day that must not be confused with the preceding day (the "Day of Preparation"). Giving a measure of just a few hours thus wouldn't communicate whether that was a different day or not (i.e. whether it was or wasn't the Sabbath at that time), so I expect they would in that situation say "a day ago" and not "a few hours ago," unless everyone in the conversation obviously knew what time it was and what the significance of it was (a situation generally not obtaining for a historian writing decades later).

But in any case, we aren't talking about such a case. Three calendar days had passed, not just one, hence not just a few hours. So they would definitely say three days. For example, the magister parapegmatis would count days by the number of peg holes in the calendar stone that an event spanned. He would have moved that peg once Thursday night, then a second time just before sunset Friday and a third time just after sunset Sunday. Jesus died when the peg was moved from the Thursday to the Friday peg hole, marking one day, so counting by the parapegma, 1, 2, 3, counting from the day he died, Jesus rose after three peg holes had been met with the peg, hence after three days. You might find this annoying, but sorry. That's how they counted.

I cannot imagine such an exchange: one hour before sunset, a Jew says to another: “I want to see you back after two days”. The other Jew answers “Sure, I’ll be at your home two hours from now”.

Actually, he would say "I want to see you back tomorrow" (or "in a couple of hours"), just as we would (per above). There is no need to count days in such a scenario. But if he was talking about daily interest on a loan that began the day of the loan, then you bet he would say "I want to see two day's interest on my desk tomorrow," because that's what he would owe after two days of interest, and in that scenario he would indeed owe two days of interest, even if he just got the loan an hour before sunset the first of those two days, and was coming back just two hours later. See what I mean?

BTW, “Luke” in the gospel and ‘Acts’ always used “on the third day” and never “after three days” (relative to the time between death and resurrection). “John” never used “on the third day” and “after three days” for the same.

So?

Different authors have different styles. And different sources. Luke and Matthew use this phrasing because they are quoting Q. John actually quotes (and embellishes) Mark (Jn 2:19-20 = Mk 14:58, 15:29). When Matthew uses Mark's phrase, he is quoting Mark, too (Mt. 26:61, 27:40, and 27:63). Otherwise, Matthew quotes Q, despite the fact that Matthew otherwise invents and uses the bizarre "three days and nights" phrase (which you are right to conclude makes Jesus a liar, at least on any exoteric reading).

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... RC quoting me: - Why does the body of Jesus need another anointment for burial, when one has been done earlier (Mk14:8)?

RC: Because the women didn't understand what Jesus was talking about. That's the literary point of the whole story.

I hate to comment on what I consider fiction. However Jesus says plainly that the anointment is for his burial (14:8).


I know. Characters in Mark are uniformly stupid beyond any attempt at realism. That's actually a well known fact. MacDonald makes good use of this in his comparison of the Disciples with Odysseus' crew. But perhaps the most infamous example are the two feeding narratives. Read them back to back and you'll see what I mean. It is simply impossible his Disciples were that dense.

This is fiction. The lack of realism serves a symbolic purpose, similar to Aesop having animals talking and loaning money and other absurdities: Aesop is not trying to say any animals actually do this, he is using animals for a symbolic point. Mark, likewise, cannot have been trying to convince us that the Disciples of Jesus actually were as unbelievably stupid as he portrays them. Their stupidity is symbolic, in the same way the animals are in Aesop.

And the subsequent gospellers certainly took the double anointment for burial as embarrassing.

Or (a) they didn't get Mark's point (just as Luke doesn't understand the temple-body metaphor in Mark, which John clearly understood--John correctly glosses Mark, Luke has no clue) or (b) they didn't like that point and wanted to make a different one (Ehrman's new book gives some well-known examples).

... then the earlier anointment in Bethany would not be necessary!

Well, as you go on to aptly document, it was never necessary.

I agree with you: as history it makes no sense at all. You don't anoint a living person for burial. That completely contradicts the ritual purpose of the act, which is to honor the dead and symbolize his transition of state (it does not "preserve" the flesh and certainly would have had no significant control on the smell, despite the frequently repeated assumptions that these are what anointing was for--not only because perfume would have worn off after a whole day of sweating, bleeding, scourging and crucifying, but because body rot simply can't be concealed by a mere rubbing, no matter how rank the perfume). Likewise, as you observe, anointing for burial was a rubbing of the body, not a dumping over the head. Readers of Mark's day would surely know all this.

So this act is clearly a fictional device. It symbolizes something. It's not something that actually happened. Fales' chapter "Taming the Tehom" in The Empty Tomb proposes it represents the symbolic moment of Jesus' actual death (or rather just after, i.e. symbolically at this point Jesus is dead because he has submitted to the powers of death, a metaphorical use of death, notably in connection with another kind of baptism, that is ubiquitous in Paul's letters). I'm not sure about that, but there are many telltale signs of symbolism in the whole account (why an alabaster jar? why break it? why "pure nard oil"? why 300 denarii? why isn't the woman named even though she is supposed to be remembered? why would Jesus say this was a worthwhile expense when a more common oil of vastly humbler price could have been used? indeed, what random woman could possibly have afforded a $15,000 jar of oil?).

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... “Mark” wanted his booklet to be believed as history. What else? A pile of crap?

No, a myth. As I can well demonstrate (and most scholars now accept). But that's "myth" the ancient sense, which was a respectable thing.

IMO, Mark would want "outsiders" not to "get" all his symbols and real meanings, so there is an effort to dress the story up as history, but he adds enough oddities to compel a reader to ask WTF. The answer would be given to "insiders" who would be sworn to secrecy (see my discussion of Mark's mission in The Empty Tomb). He isn't hiding the fact that there are secret meanings. But he doesn't expect a reader to figure them out without help from church insiders. In other words, the whole book is in effect an extended parable.

That's why we can't operate on the assumption that his story would make historical sense or be entirely realistic. Those simply weren't his concerns.

And let’s say that Philo of Alexandria, (died 45-50) in ‘the sacrifice of Abel and Cain’, III, (8-9) had Moses, as a soul, go to some abode in heaven close to God and suggested that his unfound tomb was a sign for this passage. So, in these days, a empty or unfound tomb (common: a missing corpse) was not necessarily a proof of a bodily resurrection.

I don't understand your meaning here.

RC quoting me: Who opened the tomb?

RC: Either Jesus, or God, or an angel. It doesn't matter to Mark. The tomb being open is a symbol and a literary device.

BM: What about Jesus’ disciples, or Joseph of A...?


If Mark wanted you to think any of those, he would say it, or leave some clear clues to infer it. That he didn't, means he didn't intend any such inference to be made.

Now, if you are proposing the Disciples or J of A actually in historical fact did move the body thus producing an empty tomb that was really discovered by the women and this story passed down to Mark who fictionalized it not knowing the truth, then I can understand at least what your hypothesis is. But I don't believe any of that happened, and I doubt Mark did either.

“Matthew” had to answer that, against those who said and believed so.

Maybe. But I suspect he may have had entirely different reasons for adding this embellishment (which is notably absent from Luke and John, where there is no notion of any accusation existing like this, not even in Acts where it surely would appear). Read my chapter on "Theft" in The Empty Tomb.

So that matters and that was a good reason to reject the empty tomb as a proof for Jesus’ resurrection.

Which is irrelevant to Mark if he wasn't using an empty tomb to prove such a thing. And he gives no actual indication he is (he doesn't say he got this story from the women, nor emphasizes it's truth, nor says anything about it proving anything).

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... And the tomb being open is for a very good reason: the author believed women could not do it (Mk16:3).

Indeed, because mortals cannot conquer death. They need help. Hence Mark emphasizes the fact: "Who" will open the tomb for us?

Historically the whole scene is implausible (the women would not go alone, and would already have posed and answered this question before going, even supposing three women couldn't move an ordinary gravestone).

If Mark wanted to fabricate a realistic story, he would put men in the party to open the tomb (though he wouldn’t need to do that to create a more credible witness, despite what some scholars claim, but you know all about that if you saw my debate with Craig).

No need to look for symbol or literary device.

I don't look out of need, I just find it, because once you get it, it's hard to miss. The symbols are clearly there and unmistakable. Mark’s entire Gospel is rife with symbolic writing technique. Hence I conclude its a system of symbols because that's what I find it to be, not because I need it to be. Indeed, for the longest time I didn't believe it was.

I also think it was an add-on due to the discontinuities

And I'm telling you you are missing the brilliant continuities that are there--because you are reading with the expectation that Mark is trying to persuade you of historical facts, rather than trying to communicate abstract truths to you (or intended insiders) with a system of literary symbols and devices. If you read Mark as history, almost nothing in the entire Gospel makes any plausible sense.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... The women suddenly appear after Mk15:39.

Indeed, a classic indicator that they are a symbolic fabrication inserted exactly when and where they have symbolic meaning (notably exactly three places: death, burial, resurrection, and exactly the same three women each time--except one is curiously missing for the burial). Real people would have turned up in the story long before this.

On the symbolic and literary function they perform (explaining everything you find peculiar, including the weird ending), see my discussions in Empty Tomb and Not the Impossible Faith.

Joseph of A..., a Jew, goes shopping in the evening. “Mark” was thinking Roman day, but Joe was actually buying stuff during the Sabbath (starting at sunset)

No, Mark does not say this. Joseph is done with everything before sunset (Mark is explicit that this all occurs on the Preparation Day before the Sabbath--hence he only says it was getting late, not that sunset had occurred). So there is no shopping here on the Sabbath.

Although that's moot, since you aren't supposed to do any of these things on a Holy Day either, and Friday was a Passover, but that means there would have been no trial that day, no execution that day, and thus no death that day, and thus no need to shop a shroud that day. The story is historically implausible from start to finish.

Again, obvious fiction.

Maybe you see here some literary symbolism, but do you think the early Christians (most of them uneducated), to whom the gospel was addressed, could see that (instead the other gospellers found “problems” which they corrected)?

No. They would be told that, in secret. Smart outsiders might know there is some meaning they aren't getting, and really smart outsiders might figure some of it out (at least once they had some of the keys to unlocking them, e.g. Paul's letters, basic Christian teachings, etc.), but they weren't told what it was. There was also a trend to teach different things to the masses than to literary members: the superficial story to the masses, it's true symbolic meaning for the elite (Origen explicitly describes this trend in Christianity, but it was commonplace in ancient religion). The Gospels no doubt were written with this tactic in mind as well (Mark all but explicitly says so).

Would you be the first one to come with this kind of literary symbolism?

No. Many of us have noticed these things. Ancient observers found even more bizarre secret meanings in the texts. But I suspect the intended meanings were concealed as all insider religious teachings were.

If you are, then that would prove the author was not so clever (his cuteness was missed for many centuries!)

He wanted it to be missed--the purpose of the device is to conceal the truth from outsiders.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I also see here, again, the (self-serving) general tendency for a scholar to imagine the gospellers were scholars writing for scholars and therefore can only be understood by a scholar (even if that took 19 centuries or more!).

You definitely need to read Dennis MacDonald then. I also recommend Randel Helms and Thomas Brodie. Once you've finished reading them you'll understand how off base this remark is. The authors of the Gospels were scholars, by necessity of the education system, and by demonstration of their brilliant use of all the rhetorical devices of the time and their extensively clever use of the Septuagint and plays on Aramaic and Greek language. The evidence for this is superbly clear.

Insofar as later (mind you, later preserved) Christian writers missed even obvious points (such as that Barabbas means "Son of the Father" and is a bogus name, or that there is no way Jesus was tried by a Jewish court and executed on Passover or even the day before Passover, or the fact that numerous pieces of Psalm 22 were used to construct the crucifixion narrative, even quoting it verbatim), that proves those writers were not privy to the original secret teachings of the Church and weren't very clever (as I think can be shown independently of this point--Lactantius is a grade-A moron, Tertullian is a loon, and Origen is at least much smarter, but read his bible commentaries and you'll be shocked at how bizarre and silly he is).

A spiritual body is, yes, spiritual, that is not visible, ethereal and certainly not physical.

Why is it not physical? Ether was an element. It had (or so they believed) mass, volume, physical properties, etc. Air, for example, is also not visible, yet is still physical. The ancients knew this well enough. In fact, it was rather hard for them to imagine anything as not in some sense physical--that's why it's hard to find texts that actually say the soul isn't a physical substance (there are some, but few and far between). Again, I discuss this, with references, in Empty Tomb. And I also discuss there why Paul is very explicit what he means, and he means by a spiritual body an actual physical body. Just not the one rotting in the grave.

You seem to be confusing ancient terminology. Just because something was a spirit didn't mean it wasn't physical. That's a modern assumption, not an ancient one. Again, read my chapter on this in Empty Tomb.

Actually I think Paul did not care about details of that imagined “spiritual body”. He certainly did not even try to describe it.

He did describe it. He just didn't focus on the things you might be more interested in (like, say, "did it glow? what did it weigh? did it look exactly like Jesus? what clothes was it wearing?"), only because those weren't pertinent to his argument at the time.

Paul wrote the dead Christians were just “asleep”...No mention of their soul/spirit migrating (such as to Hades) as believed by many Gentiles, even some Jews. But Paul (and his audience) could not deny the physical body decayed and desintegrated after death and burial. So what was left to be “asleep”: the soul/spirit of the dead Christian (who, with a new spiritual body, would go to heaven during the Great Day). If you mean spirit or soul comes alive after the resurrection, I agree (according to Paul). Before the soul or spirit is dormant at the place where the body is buried (again, according to Paul). And if there is no resurrection, dormant is as good as dead.

Correct. For Paul (as for Aristotle), the "soul" is not something that can be separated from the rotting body. It thus rots with the body, insensate, unless it is reformed into a new body that is raised to life. Though Paul refers to the Jewish metaphor of sleeping in heaven, I doubt he meant literally (just as I doubt he literally means our new bodies are waiting for us already in heaven, even though he says they are).

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I have loads and loads of reasons indicating 1Co15:3-11 is an interpolation. That’s way too long for showing on that blog. But I have them listed and explained on my website, at http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/co1c.html#adc

Many of your arguments there are not sound and would not be accepted by any scholarly expert or peer review process. A sounder case for interpolation is made by Bob Price in The Empty Tomb, but by virtue of sticking to the arguments scholars would accept, it doesn't look as impressive anymore. I'm not convinced. It's a possibility, but can't be demonstrated on present evidence.

In contrast to his case, I see elements of the passage that suggest it was not all written by the same author (therefore the whole thing cannot be an interpolation unless it consists of several interpolations accumulated over time, which is entirely possible--I've seen that happen before, in Epiphanius for example) and that it was emended by yet another scribe, possibly as the result of a copy mistake (see my discussion in Empty Tomb of the curious and telling parallels with Acts 2), and when you restore what was emended the parts in question start to agree a lot more with Paul.

But there's no need to debate the matter, since it's mostly speculation anyway--apart from extremely clear cases (e.g. the parts that were clearly not written by the original author of the passage, whether that was Paul or not), we can't confirm any theories without recovering a lost manuscript that reveals an earlier form of the text.

Bernard said...

RC: Take the JW 5 passage for example. Now imagine Josephus actually named the calendar days (and I'll use modern English ones just for ease): "Thus did they valiantly defend themselves for three days--Friday, Saturday, and Sunday--but on the fourth day--Monday--they could not support themselves against the vehement assaults of Titus." Now imagine Mark said something similar: "Thus did Jesus rot in the grave for three days--Friday afternoon, then all Saturday and Sunday--but on the fourth day--Monday--he rose from the dead." See what I mean now?



BM: I agree “after three days” is the fourth day. But I have no clue about what you mean about Mark. I gather what you imagine Mark said is not correct by you, because the resurrection would fall on Monday. Imagining somebody saying something, and drawing conclusions from that, well, I admit, that’s beyond me.

And it seems you take gMark as a reference (and assume Mark had the 40 hours death in is mind when he was writing those three “after three days”), when gMark is the subject of contention. That would be a circular argument.

Also, I realize that your only argument against me in all this post is what you imagine Mark would have said (or not). That does not count for evidence in my book.


OK, from Friday afternoon to Sunday early morning, there are three different Jewish calendar days, the first for about 3 hours (Friday), the second for 24 hours (Saturday) and the third (Sunday) for about 13 hours. Where is the fourth day? Beyond these three calendar days, at least, that is on Monday. Why would Sunday, which is the third day of the series, should also be the fourth day (as coming after three days)?

Do you think the following would be right: "Thus did Jesus rot in the grave for three days--Friday afternoon, then all Saturday and Sunday--but on the fourth day--Sunday-- he rose from the dead." or "Thus did Jesus rot in the grave for three days--Friday afternoon, then all Saturday and Sunday--but after three days --Sunday--he rose from the dead.". My answer is NO, not because the day of the alleged resurrection is Sunday (after all, it is as in the gospels!), but Sunday cannot be both the third and the fourth day.



RC: Similarly JA 9: they looted bodies for "three days together" and then on the next day, which is the fourth day, the day after those three days of looting, they spent an additional day partying. I don't know how you are reading these passages any differently.



BM: Ditto, after three days is the fourth day, and NOT the third day. What is there to read differently? How do you think I read that passage?



RC: JW 2: two days (say, Friday and Saturday) Cestius stays put, then on the third day (so, Sunday) he realizes he's screwed.



BM: After two days is the third day. Agreed. And I accept that Sunday morning can be considered “on the third day” for a period starting from Friday afternoon, regardless if we deal with Jewish, Roman or modern days.



RC: JW 3.8: he hid two days (say, from sometime Friday to the end of Saturday) then sometime on the third day (sometime Sunday, i.e. between Saturday sunset and Sunday sunset) he was caught.



BM: Again the third day comes after two days, not three days.



RC: JW 4: he spent two days (say, a couple hours Monday and a couple hours Tuesday) on business in the city, then sometime the next day (the third day, Wednesday) he took off.



BM: Ditto


The passage in question: Josephus' Wars, IV, VIII, 1 "... Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages."


To be continued ...


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: JW 4: he spent two days (say, a couple hours Monday and a couple hours Tuesday) on business in the city, then sometime the next day (the third day, Wednesday) he took off.



BM: Ditto


The passage in question: Josephus' Wars, IV, VIII, 1 "... Cesarea to Antipatris, where he spent two days in settling the affairs of that city, and then, on the third day, he marched on, laying waste and burning all the neighboring villages."



But how can you imagine Josephus was talking about four hours instead of two days then? Anyone reading the passage would not think that. My understanding is that Josephus referred to about two full days (as 24 hours period). If that was only for a few hours, he would have say so. Can you prove otherwise? Or are you still contending that a few consecutive hours on both side of sunset count as two days for a Jew?

And according to your reasoning, we have about 22 hours unaccounted for on Tuesday, between Vespasian staying in town and him leaving town. Where was Vespasian then during most of Tuesday?

And taking in account your comment on JW 4 and going back to what you imagine Mark could have said (or not), then after the 13 hours of Sunday (Sunday being the third day), the next day (Monday) would be the fourth day (that is the next day after three days, some day(s) fractional or not). Right? Of course that would go against your theory.



RC: JA 1: his servants walked with him for two days (say, Monday and Tuesday), but the next day (Wednesday), he ditched them.



BM: Ditto



RC: So you aren't paying attention to what I explained to you: the days counted are calendar days, not whole periods of 24 hours.



BM: That does not make any difference, I explained that already (you did too, as for JW 4). That is: AFTER N consecutive calendar days (some --first or/& last-- fractional or not) come the (N+1) calendar day.



RC: That is an entirely modern notion. You will only find a comparable measure in antiquity when it is explicitly stated (e.g. "three whole days" or as an astronomical measure, e.g. "18 days and 2 hours and 3 minutes" but the former proves the point by the very fact that a specifier is needed, and the latter was a technical practice not used by the public, and certainly not used in the Gospels).



BM: Josephus did not specify whole days, so according to you, some of his days (that is first and/or last ones) had to be fractional. How do you know? And what about the Gospels, more so gMark? No “whole days” here either. And how can you ascertain “not used in the gospels”. Are you still basing yourself on the “last moment of 40 consecutive hours spread over 3 consecutive days is after three days”, as being true?

To be continued ...

Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Josephus understood “on the third day and “after three days” as we do now in our daily lives, in the third millennium.


RC: No, he didn't. And I don't see why you think he does. You either aren't reading the passages right, or you don't understand the ancient counting system.



BM: How do you know that from these Josephan passages? The same could have been written yesterday and would make complete sense in our modern thinking. And no need to understand any ancient counting system, whatever it might be.

And, according to you, what did Josephus understand about “on the third day” and “after three day” which would be different of modern understanding (and substantiate your answer from Josephan material!). And your answer should also justify the last moment of a 40 hours period, split on 3 consecutive calendar days, is “after three days”
I also note that Mark, if he knew about Jewish thinking, had some good reason to say “after three days”:

Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 18:1 "For three days [after death] the soul hovers over the body, intending to re-enter it, but as soon as it sees its appearance change, it departs, as it is written, `When his flesh that is on him is distorted, his soul will mourn over him.' [Job14:22]"


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... I also doubt that a few hours on both side of sunset would count for “after two days” for an ancient Jew. Do you have evidence for that?


RC: Read the Mishnah. They were very precise about counting days. Their religious law depended on it.




BM: Yes, but did the Mishnah authors write something corresponding to “that a few hours on both side of sunset would count for “after two days””. That’s the question and you did not provide an answer for that and even less evidence.



RC: In casual practice, though, certainly if the total period in question were only a few hours, they would say that, just as we do (e.g. if something happened two hours ago and it's 1am you don't usually say "yesterday" you just say two hours ago, even though "yesterday" would still be correct), unless the calendar day was important--and Friday night is exactly when it was.



BM: OK by me, but in the preceding post, you made a point that four hours, split over two consecutive days, could be written by Josephus as two days.



RC: ... But in any case, we aren't talking about such a case. Three calendar days had passed, not just one, hence not just a few hours. So they would definitely say three days. For example, the magister parapegmatis would count days by the number of peg holes in the calendar stone that an event spanned. He would have moved that peg once Thursday night, then a second time just before sunset Friday and a third time just after sunset Sunday. Jesus died when the peg was moved from the Thursday to the Friday peg hole, marking one day, so counting by the parapegma, 1, 2, 3, counting from the day he died, Jesus rose after three peg holes had been met with the peg, hence after three days. You might find this annoying, but sorry. That's how they counted.



BM: Not really: from the time of death to the time of resurrection, your magister parapegmatis would have moved the peg at sunset of Friday, then at sunset of Saturday. That’s it, twice only. The Thusday at sunset peg move would not count because it was before the death, and the Sunday at sunset peg move would not count because it was after the alleged resurrection. So going back to your reasoning, and making the correction, Jesus (allegedly) rose after two peg holes had been met with the peg, hence after two days (NOT after three days).



RC quoting BM: BTW, “Luke” in the gospel and ‘Acts’ always used “on the third day” and never “after three days” (relative to the time between death and resurrection). “John” never used “on the third day” and “after three days” for the same.


RC: So?

Different authors have different styles. And different sources. Luke and Matthew use this phrasing because they are quoting Q.




BM: “On the third day” three prophetic passages, in gMatthew and gLuke, relative to the death to resurrection time, being part of Q is news to me. I do not see any reason to think so, because the only common words against gMark are “on the third day”. And I consulted three renditions of Q by scholars (Tabor, Mack & Davis) and none has the “third day” passages in them. Rather, both gospellers made separately an obvious correction.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: I know. Characters in Mark are uniformly stupid beyond any attempt at realism. That's actually a well known fact. MacDonald makes good use of this in his comparison of the Disciples with Odysseus' crew. But perhaps the most infamous example are the two feeding narratives. Read them back to back and you'll see what I mean. It is simply impossible his Disciples were that dense.


BM: Actually Mark also made Jesus stupid, as in 6:37 (where Jesus asks the disciples to provide a meal for 5000 people). But here, the disciples look smart in their reply at the next verse. Jesus looks also stupid in 11:13-14 (where Jesus expects a fig tree to have fruits out of season). And Jesus looks also stupid in 14:8 (where Jesus thinks the pouring of a whole jar of perfume on his head is an anointment for burial). And at times, the disciples look smart, such as in 6:38 or 14:12,16.
My view is that Mark can have anybody to look stupid (or smart) at anytime for various reasons.

I’ll explain one case: on top of the high mountain (total fiction for me), Peter looks incredibly smart by identifying Moses and Elijah (I know, that would be impossible because of no visual or textual existing descriptions, etc.). But next, out of the blue, he proposes to build three separate shelters for Jesus, Moses & Elijah. That looks stupid, because the threesome are talking to each other, and probably have no reason to stay up there together for a long time, and even if they do, not separated from each other. The simplest explanation is that Mark was using Peter in order to demonstrate:

- Resurrection (for Moses) and rapture (for Elijah) can happen.

- The three men seem to look similar and have the same requirements (however, Peter will be proven wrong on the later, about protection against weather elements for heavenly body (of different origin: created heavenly, or human dead or alive): the young man in Mk14:51-52, with little clothing in a cold night, with his body insensitive to cold, has to be an angel. Earlier, we are told the risen dead being like angels (12:25)).

So Peter’s stupid proposal on the mountain top is part of a scheme in order to “evidence” heavenly bodies (with some of their characteristics), resurrections and raptures. So maybe we have to look beyond Aesop and symbolism.

To be continued ...

Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

BM: And I have my explanations about why the disciples would be “dense” and/or not_telling:
Because they never witnessed many events that went in Mark’s gospel (the miraculous feedings, Jairus’ daughter revival, the events on the high mountain, etc ...) (even if they are described to be in attendance for those) and they never had Christian beliefs (Jesus as Christ, his resurrection, the Christian meaning of the Passion, resurrections (generally), etc.).

As far as the disciples or followers looking stupid consistently, this is not justifiable and certainly overrated. Furthermore, the play time of those is very limited.


On the anointment in Bethany, of course it is all fiction. But for what purposes?

- The woman is here in order to richly & abundantly anoint Jesus. Maybe Mark, because Jesus was Christ (as Anointed), felt obligated to provide some kind of anointing (with real oily perfume). And Mark made sure Jesus got that in quantity & quality, as the Christ should!

- The anonymous woman is praised to great extreme, likely to compensate for the fact that women (in general) in the gospel are rarely mentioned. The message here could be: women are appreciated, but as faceless, generous and silent (as for the anointing woman).

- It is good to spend money on Jesus (that is on his representatives then, the presbyters/elders!).

- Later, we learn this anointment is for burial (according to Jesus’ interpretation (which would make him stupid!), not the woman). Mark probably thought that Christ dead body could not be treated like an abandoned corpse, with no more consideration than for a dead jackal (or a crucified criminal left alone!). But why the (ridiculous) anointment for burial before burial? Likely Mark knew Jesus’ body could not have been anointed after the crucifixion (a body not claimed would be disposed of as thrown into a pit or burned or left to be eaten by animals).

So you can see that a pragmatic approach can explain the anointment passage in gMark. No need to look for symbolism, which can always be found if one is determined to find secrets from a convoluted, awkward, and brief text (and many times, several different symbolic bits can be argued for each gospel piece!).

The passage is ridiculous and unrealistic (as many other parts of the gospel). No contest from my side here. But I have to admit, it took me some time to discover how awful it was, even if I always had the feeling bits and pieces were odd. That does not jump at you, it requires a bit of analysis and thinking. And Christians then, already hooked and made gullible, (most of them illiterate, therefore knowing about a gospel passage by only hearing reading(s) of it (no time to think in depth then)) would not be alarmed by it. After all, for them, Jesus was Christ and Son of God, not a regular human, therefore a lot of odd, exceptional (and extraordinary) things during his earthly life, would be not only accepted, but also expected. And if you do not believe me, try to read the anointment passage, even the whole gospel, to a group of Christians. I’ll bet they will not object to anything in it.


I’ll leave you here with your search for symbolism.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... “Mark” wanted his booklet to be believed as history. What else? A pile of crap?



RC: No, a myth. As I can well demonstrate (and most scholars now accept). But that's "myth" the ancient sense, which was a respectable thing.




BM: I doubt most scholars accept Mark wanted his gospel to be believed as a myth. Can you prove that every bits in it are myth and no parts of it can relate to a real earthy Jesus? And what would be the motivation for someone to write just a myth? More so that a lot in gMark can easily be seen as fixing doubts, disbeliefs, re-enforcing Christian beliefs & behavior, answering crisis and providing urgent hope for his audience.



RC: IMO, Mark would want "outsiders" not to "get" all his symbols and real meanings, so there is an effort to dress the story up as history, but he adds enough oddities to compel a reader to ask WTF.



BM: You have a lot of imagination here, except if you can provide a series of quotes from gMark which would prove your point. But I doubt it. Actually Mark would have been very successful in his scheme because it is almost two millenniums later that you and a few other scholars, as the”outsiders” are finally deciphering his symbols and real meanings. Sounds like the Da Vinci code all over again.



RC: The answer would be given to "insiders" who would be sworn to secrecy (see my discussion of Mark's mission in The Empty Tomb). He isn't hiding the fact that there are secret meanings. But he doesn't expect a reader to figure them out without help from church insiders. In other words, the whole book is in effect an extended parable.



BM: Insiders sworn to secrecy? that’s very far-fetched and unevidenced.
In my view, the Empty Tomb was added (and maybe not by “Mark”) to provide some pseudo evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. And I can lay down down-to-earth author’s motives to explain every part of the passage. I do not need millenniums old secrets finally discovered for that. You said Mark is not hiding the fact that they are secret meanings: I know Mark had Jesus saying something similar to his disciples, but it is about parables and the disciples are the insiders (4:10-12) (and Jesus’ audience, other than his followers, are the outsiders!). And in 4:22-23, he had Jesus saying “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed”. But that’s a general statement which is in itself part of the parable of the lamp under a bowl (and its explanation). So I do not see anything specific here which would validate your theory.


RC quoting past email:

RC quoting me: Who opened the tomb?

RC: Either Jesus, or God, or an angel. It doesn't matter to Mark. The tomb being open is a symbol and a literary device.

BM: What about Jesus’ disciples, or Joseph of A...? [end of quote of past email]



RC: If Mark wanted you to think any of those, he would say it, or leave some clear clues to infer it. That he didn't, means he didn't intend any such inference to be made.




BM: Of course Mark never wanted this inference. But he left the door wide open for it (I am using a figure of speech, no reference here of the door of the tomb). And the inference was proclaimed, at least in gMatthew community. And Matthew had to respond against it. That’s what I meant. And let’s face it: the door of the tomb opened and the body gone call for such an inference. The only obstacle: the young man saying “... he has risen. He is not here ...” But that young man could be seen as someone placed here in order to fool the women.

To be continued ...


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: Now, if you are proposing the Disciples or J of A actually in historical fact did move the body thus producing an empty tomb that was really discovered by the women and this story passed down to Mark who fictionalized it not knowing the truth, then I can understand at least what your hypothesis is. But I don't believe any of that happened, and I doubt Mark did either.



BM: Of course I do not believe the empty tomb is historical. I even think it is an early interpolation for a very obvious purpose.



RC quoting BM: “Matthew” had to answer that, against those who said and believed so.



RC: Maybe. But I suspect he may have had entirely different reasons for adding this embellishment (which is notably absent from Luke and John, where there is no notion of any accusation existing like this, not even in Acts where it surely would appear). Read my chapter on "Theft" in The Empty Tomb.




BM: Matthew was a real person dealing with other real persons, some friendly, some not. The best answer about him making the empty tomb sealed and guarded and having the guards bribed to tell something false: his community had been told the tomb was found empty because “His disciples came during the night and stole him away” and some believed that. As far as gLuke community, maybe this inference did not come about or did not take hold. Even if it came about, “Luke” had Jesus’ bodily apparitions following the Empty Tomb (with two angels! Not only a young man who could be part of an earthy plot!), dispelling any previous inference the resurrection did not happen. As far as gJohn is concerned, well, that’s a long story, because the gospel was written in stage. Anyway, the original ending was at 20:10. (when John knew only of gMark). John did not seal or guard the tomb (no young man either) but he had the burial cloth for Jesus’ head neatly folded (something that human body snatchers were very unlikely to do). That was enough to have the beloved disciple believed in the resurrection (and consequently the readers of the gospel!).

Every Christian communities were different, depending who influenced them the most. So someplace the inference existed, but the local gospeller chose not to address it directly (only indirectly), other place it did not exist significantly and somewhere else, it did exist, and the local gospeller (Matthew) did address it directly and indirectly.

Back to gMatthew: why did he take so much trouble with the tomb sealed and guarded, then opened by an angel and the guards finally bribed to tell a lie? Because, most likely, the two resurrection stories were written later by two different interpolators: discontinuities again, etc.

Finally, about 1Co15:3-11, you reasoned that because only the burial is mentioned (and not the empty tomb), that had to be written before the gospels (consequently by Paul). But with so much “evidence” from many witnesses of multiple post-mortem apparitions, the empty tomb, a poor evidence for the resurrection, was better no to be mentioned by an interpolator. And it is only here that the Greek word for “buried” is used in all of Paul’s epistles.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... And the tomb being open is for a very good reason: the author believed women could not do it (Mk16:3).



RC: Indeed, because mortals cannot conquer death. They need help. Hence Mark emphasizes the fact: "Who" will open the tomb for us?




BM: Sorry, but you need some imagination to relate “who will open the tomb for us” with “mortals cannot conquer death”. And as if “mortals cannot conquer death” was a notion which needed to be said to “insiders” and hidden from “outsiders”.



RC: Historically the whole scene is implausible (the women would not go alone, and would already have posed and answered this question before going, even supposing three women couldn't move an ordinary gravestone).



BM: It would not be the first time that people set up for a task, even if not everything, for completing it, has been taken care. People start something, and, for the missing pieces necessary for implementation, along the way, either improvise, or get help, or be lucky, or become stuck. That’s life.

Please do not take me wrong, I am not defending the historicity of the empty tomb (I think it is all fiction).

Now, let us look at it from the perspective of fiction: in any fiction novel or movie (set in historical times and places), are you sure that all bits to make a story realistic are always in place? I would say no, most of the time.

And, as far as the women going alone, did he occur to you that the author may have taken in account that their “friendly” men, that is Jesus’ disciples, were all out of the picture as in Mk14:27? And had reason not to be found near the cross or the tomb (as expressed in the gospel of Peter)?



RC: If you read Mark as history, almost nothing in the entire Gospel makes any plausible sense.



BM: I read Mark as mostly fiction (for real time pragmatic purposes) with some history in it. I sort out the fiction, and what is left, with bits of Q, Paul’s epistles and Josephus’ works, makes most of what I need in order to reconstruct the very beginning of Christianity. I did stated my methodology on that page (with a short bio)

http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/author.html

Or you can consult that webpage of mine “historical Jesus, in a few words”. That will take you less than one minute to read it.

http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/digest.html

Or you can get my front page: use GOOGLE, search for “historical Jesus”. At last check, my website was on the very top of the list, in front of the Wikipedia site.



Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... The women suddenly appear after Mk15:39.



RC: Indeed, a classic indicator that they are a symbolic fabrication inserted exactly when and where they have symbolic meaning (notably exactly three places: death, burial, resurrection, and exactly the same three women each time--except one is curiously missing for the burial). Real people would have turned up in the story long before this.




BM: Actually, at death, Mark said there were these three women but also many other ones, all of them followers of Jesus, from Galilee and watching the cross at a distance. So now we have many, then two, then three. Go figure the meaning of that!
But since you are talking about “death, burial, resurrection”, you meant three events, not three places (there are only two places for these three events: the cross and the tomb). About the women being at the three events, that’s easy to explain pragmatically: they had to be at the cross to see who took the body and where it went because they wanted to anoint it. Which they tried to do later, and that put them again at the tomb, after the resurrection (so these women missed the last event!). No symbolism required here, certainly not some based on two “three”.



RC quoting BM: Joseph of A..., a Jew, goes shopping in the evening. “Mark” was thinking Roman day, but Joe was actually buying stuff during the Sabbath (starting at sunset)



RC: No, Mark does not say this. Joseph is done with everything before sunset (Mark is explicit that this all occurs on the Preparation Day before the Sabbath--hence he only says it was getting late, not that sunset had occurred). So there is no shopping here on the Sabbath.




BM: Not according to Mk15:42 YLT “And now evening having come, ...”

Maybe at that time, the author thought it was still Preparation day, but sunset had come, so it was the Sabbath.

The Thayer’s Lexicon says 6 to 9 PM for the meaning of ‘even’ in Mk15:42

Note: others say 3 to 6 is valid too. But I do not think an expression like “when evening had come” would be used if there was not a marker to fix the time: 3 o’clock is not a marker but sunset is. Also 3 o’clock occurs already at Mk15:34, soon before Jesus’ death. And obviously, Mark used a Roman day (third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour), so that would explain the confusion.

And the other gospellers changed “when evening had come” to sometime before sunset. I take that as they thought Mark was wrong.

Also in Mk1:32, ‘even’ starts at sunset: YLT “And evening having come, when the sun did set, they brought unto him ...”.


BTW, you have a good point about Mark placing the trials and crucifixion during Passover day: Not plausible. Actually, on my website, I wrote the most likely day for his crucifixion was one day after the disturbance. And no trials! And no Sabbath or Passover day into play!


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... I also see here, again, the (self-serving) general tendency for a scholar to imagine the gospellers were scholars writing for scholars and therefore can only be understood by a scholar (even if that took 19 centuries or more!).



RC: You definitely need to read Dennis MacDonald then. I also recommend Randel Helms and Thomas Brodie. Once you've finished reading them you'll understand how off base this remark is. The authors of the Gospels were scholars, by necessity of the education system, and by demonstration of their brilliant use of all the rhetorical devices of the time and their extensively clever use of the Septuagint and plays on Aramaic and Greek language. The evidence for this is superbly clear.




BM: I wonder if those gospellers had a PhD. Just kidding. I certainly do not agree with you on Mark. He made mistakes, he was tentative in many parts (more so when he was making up stories). Most of his awkwardness can be explained by the situation he was in:

- Write his gospel quickly and secretly in a time of crisis

- Have no precedent to refer to

- Deal with a humble Jesus as heard from eyewitness(es) but not acceptable anymore by his audience, who was looking for proof of divinity in his earthly existence

- Use Jesus, disciples, events (many invented), parables (all invented) to solve problems in his community

- Use bits and pieces of what was heard from different apostles (early Christian preachers, such as Paul) and eyewitness(es) and was considered true by his audience

- Affirm “right” Christian beliefs even, again, his audience never heard that from eyewitness(es)

His lack of realism can be explained by his rush to make points and his economy on words.



RC: Insofar as later (mind you, later preserved) Christian writers missed even obvious points (such as that Barabbas means "Son of the Father" and is a bogus name, or that there is no way Jesus was tried by a Jewish court and executed on Passover or even the day before Passover, or the fact that numerous pieces of Psalm 22 were used to construct the crucifixion narrative, even quoting it verbatim), that proves those writers were not privy to the original secret teachings of the Church and weren't very clever (as I think can be shown independently of this point--Lactantius is a grade-A moron, Tertullian is a loon, and Origen is at least much smarter, but read his bible commentaries and you'll be shocked at how bizarre and silly he is).



BM: Then, who was privy to the (alleged) original teachings of the Church? Even Matthew and Luke were not privy to those. And what Church? In these days, there was no unity, no governing body. There were many Churches (that is congregations), with some different beliefs from one to another. The gospels and other Christian literature of these days are a testimony of that.
I agree with your appraisal about many “fathers” of the Church, more so about their lack of cleverness. But why would the gospellers, including Mark, be different?

Going back to Luke, he/she presented his/her gospel as a historical account, based on different sources and allegedly addressed to some VIP. But, not only he/she included a good part of gMark (obviously not thinking it was myth), but also his/her own stuff (as in the first two chapters) which is, in great part, as bad & unrealistic as some of gMark. If Luke wanted similar stuff to be consider as history, why would Mark want his “gospel” to be considered myth?

To be continued ...

Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: A spiritual body is, yes, spiritual, that is not visible, ethereal and certainly not physical.



RC: Why is it not physical? Ether was an element. It had (or so they believed) mass, volume, physical properties, etc. Air, for example, is also not visible, yet is still physical. The ancients knew this well enough. In fact, it was rather hard for them to imagine anything as not in some sense physical--that's why it's hard to find texts that actually say the soul isn't a physical substance (there are some, but few and far between). Again, I discuss this, with references, in Empty Tomb. And I also discuss there why Paul is very explicit what he means, and he means by a spiritual body an actual physical body. Just not the one rotting in the grave.

You seem to be confusing ancient terminology. Just because something was a spirit didn't mean it wasn't physical. That's a modern assumption, not an ancient one. Again, read my chapter on this in Empty Tomb.




BM: I am not going to argue about the mass (at best tiny) of that imagined (and scientifically unfound) spiritual body or soul. But I am glad you agree it was thought to be invisible and its physicality (if ever) very little.



RC quoting BM: Actually I think Paul did not care about details of that imagined “spiritual body”. He certainly did not even try to describe it.



RC: He did describe it. He just didn't focus on the things you might be more interested in (like, say, "did it glow? what did it weigh? did it look exactly like Jesus? what clothes was it wearing?"), only because those weren't pertinent to his argument at the time.




BM: I agree that Paul did some fuzzy half description of this body using metaphores. He certainly insisted that body was immortal. I also note that in 2Cor5:1-9, Paul goes back on the subject of (future) heavenly beings for Christians, but the word “body”, for the spiritual kind, is absent. And we have here :”We ... would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” It does not look Paul had the heavenly/spiritual body in his mind then.



Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting BM: Bernard said... I have loads and loads of reasons indicating 1Co15:3-11 is an interpolation. That’s way too long for showing on that blog. But I have them listed and explained on my website, at http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/co1c.html#adc



RC: Many of your arguments there are not sound and would not be accepted by any scholarly expert or peer review process. A sounder case for interpolation is made by Bob Price in The Empty Tomb, but by virtue of sticking to the arguments scholars would accept, it doesn't look as impressive anymore. I'm not convinced. It's a possibility, but can't be demonstrated on present evidence.



BM: The appraisal of my arguments was expected, as coming from you. Anyway, you implied some of my arguments may be sound. That would be encouraging! And I wonder how you determine soundness.

As far as Price is concerned, I was not impressed by his case against 1Co15:3-11 being authentic. As I recall, wordy, bouncing on other scholars (I definitively prefer to work from the primary evidence), mostly based on opinions & generalities, no attention to details from the passage itself, no meat, no beef. I saw no significant soundness in his article. I was hoping to use some of his arguments, but there was nothing for me.



RC: In contrast to his case, I see elements of the passage that suggest it was not all written by the same author (therefore the whole thing cannot be an interpolation unless it consists of several interpolations accumulated over time, which is entirely possible--I've seen that happen before, in Epiphanius for example) and that it was emended by yet another scribe, possibly as the result of a copy mistake (see my discussion in Empty Tomb of the curious and telling parallels with Acts 2), and when you restore what was emended the parts in question start to agree a lot more with Paul.



BM: That looks to be a very complicated understanding. But, at least, you see possible partial interpolations in it, even, at one point, a complete one (albeit composite). Maybe some parts agree with Paul, but that should not be a proof for partial authenticity, with an interpolator most likely familiar with the Pauline Corpus.



RC: But there's no need to debate the matter, since it's mostly speculation anyway--apart from extremely clear cases (e.g. the parts that were clearly not written by the original author of the passage, whether that was Paul or not), we can't confirm any theories without recovering a lost manuscript that reveals an earlier form of the text.



BM: Well, the authenticity or unauthenticity of 1Co15:3-11 is important for your theory and mine, and the ones of many others, including apologists who love that bit, because supposedly coming from Paul, writing at a time when (many) people who saw the alleged apparitions were still around. Many Christians consider that passage as the most important one in Paul’s letters.

No, that should not be put under the carpet, by no mean.

I know, we do not have a manuscript that reveals the interpolation, but if, as I think, the interpolations and editing of the then existing Pauline Corpus were done around 100-110, then we should not expect to find them (or rather their absence) (our earliest manuscript of Paul’s epistles is dated about 200AD). The editing and interpolations had the advantage to homogenize Paul’s christology and theology, to fill out some crucial lacks and to bring some updates, and also to make any historical understanding very difficult (more so concerning Paul’s progressive enhancement of his stated beliefs). That’s probably why these updated texts were quickly adopted against the old ones.


Best regards, Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I have no clue about what you mean about Mark.

I am telling you that if Mark had written exactly what Josephus did, you'd be right, but Mark didn't, therefore you're wrong. Because they are both using exactly the same numbering conventions. I won't repeat the matter, since my original post is clear as to my point, so you need to re-read it. Maybe you also need to re-read the passages in Josephus you cite--perhaps you aren't paying attention to his actual wording. Otherwise, I can't fathom how you misunderstand my argument.

Josephus did not specify whole days, so according to you, some of his days (that is first and/or last ones) had to be fractional.

I didn't say they had to be. I am saying he is counting pegs on a calendar. Period. The exact passage of hours is of no concern to him and almost certainly wouldn't have been known to him anyway (people weren't marching around with stopwatches, much less logging the exact hour they make a move, and even less would Josephus have had access to any such logs).

You need to remember that you are arguing against a well-established fact attested directly and explicitly in ancient legal and literary sources and consequently accepted by all expert authorities. If you want to go all pyramidiot on the consensus, be my guest. You just won't have any support from me.

I also note that Mark, if he knew about Jewish thinking, had some good reason to say “after three days”

If you had read my work, you would know I agree, and even cite the exact same evidence you do (and more).


from the time of death to the time of resurrection, your magister parapegmatis would have moved the peg at sunset of Friday, then at sunset of Saturday. That’s it, twice only.

No, the peg was on the Friday hole at his death, so he was dead one day. Then the peg moved after he had been legally and calendrically dead one day to the Saturday (Sabbath) peg and he stayed dead all the while. That's a second day dead. Then the peg was moved to the Sunday hole (the first day of the week). He's still dead, so dead not two days, but now three. Yes, later that same day he becomes un-dead, but he was still legally and calendrically dead three days: part of one day, all of the next, and part of the next, dead while the peg was in three separate holes, three days. Again, that's just how they counted.

My view is that Mark can have anybody to look stupid (or smart) at anytime for various reasons.

Mine, too. Because he is unconcerned with historical fact or realism.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... No need to look for symbolism...

I'll reiterate for the last time: I am not arguing the need to look for symbolism, I can already prove the symbolism is there, in numerous fundamental passages, thus the prior probability that other peculiar passages are similarly symbolic is high, whereas the prior probability that real history actually panned out that way or would actually be written that way, is low (by comparison with what happens and the way things are written in real history books even then). Thus, from the clear and proven cases, it follows we should first look for symbolism in the remainder.

That's valid logic. I won't argue it further, as I'll do so in future publications. Reject it if you want to. It doesn't matter to me if you agree, as long as you understand why I reach the conclusions I do. Just don't confuse me for arguing (a la Price or Murdock or Freke and Gandy) that any symbolic meaning we can adduce for a text is therefore credible. We need reliable criteria that establish degrees of certainty (or uncertainty) for any authorially intended symbolic interpretations (a la MacDonald and Brodie). And sometimes we simply cannot claim to know (as I argue in Empty Tomb happens a lot, owing to the massive loss of source documents).

And if you do not believe me, try to read the anointment passage, even the whole gospel, to a group of Christians. I’ll bet they will not object to anything in it.

They already believe a thousand irrational things before breakfast. Why would I consult them for a reality check? They think talking donkeys are historically plausible and that the nativity tales are historically consistent with each other. Clearly not fans of sound logic or method.

I doubt most scholars accept Mark wanted his gospel to be believed as a myth.

In the ancient sense, yes. Just read Crossley, Mack, Lüdemann, Ehrman, anyone who isn't an Evangelical or other sectarian dogmatist. Even Brown agrees the Gospels are myths about Jesus (read his commentary on the nativity stories), and he's a devout Catholic. As with other myths, they can contain historical facts, but the primary constructive aim of the Gospels is not historical reporting. Most scholars agree with that.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... Can you prove that every bits in it are myth and no parts of it can relate to a real earthy Jesus?

That's not how we define myth. You are confusing the modern colloquialism of myth as an antonym of "historically true," with the ancient concept of myth as a story constructed to symbolically convey a deeper abstract message regardless of how much or little any real history is or can be used for the purpose. Those who argue the Gospels are myths (in that sense), therefore everything in them is historically false, are committing a non sequitur. But those who argue the Gospels are myths (in that sense), therefore we cannot know what in them is historically true without some independent (i.e. non-mythical) corroboration, are arguing soundly.

The difference is crucial: it's one thing to say nothing in the Gospels actually happened; it's another thing to say we cannot know what in the Gospels actually happened. And most of us don't really even say the latter, since some things do have at least prima facie external corroboration: e.g. Pilate and Caiaphas were contemporaries and did hold the offices ascribed to them, even if everything else said about them is made up; and Paul does say Jesus was crucified and buried and "seen" post-mortem--if you accept the passage in 1 Cor. 15, though I realize you don't, and even some of those who do still conclude Paul didn't really mean on earth, etc., but that's the difference between prima facie and secunda facie evidence, which is a whole other matter and beside the point here.

RC: Mark would want "outsiders" not to "get" all his symbols and real meanings, so there is an effort to dress the story up as history, but he adds enough oddities to compel a reader to ask WTF. BM: You have a lot of imagination here, except if you can provide a series of quotes from gMark which would prove your point. But I doubt it.

Actually, I do provide such quotes, plus other evidence, in Empty Tomb. Apparently you haven't read it. I also have collected abundant external evidence of this behavior as a general practice in religious cults in antiquity, which I will survey in my upcoming book.

Sounds like the Da Vinci code all over again.

Except that was fiction. If everything that was claimed in that novel were true, the Da Vinci code would be real, exactly as the novel lays out. Hence, in the case of Mark, unlike that novel, all the evidence is real, therefore so is the "code." The evidence is overwhelming: the premises are irrefutable and the logic is valid, so I have no doubt of it. But you'll have to await my book for the details (or get a glimpse now by reading Helms and Brodie, just as two major examples). I don't expect you to agree with my specific reading. But that myth of some sort is deployed throughout the Gospels, the evidence is pretty clear to the scholarly community already. Just read any of the scholars I mentioned above.

Insiders sworn to secrecy? that’s very far-fetched and unevidenced.

It was standard practice in ancient cults, even Judaism. We have attestation of a similar practice in the church from (I think) Clement, and indirect evidence in Origen (who doesn't mention oaths, but does mention the double-truth of every Gospel and Bible verse: one for high ranking insiders, another for lower ranks) and Paul (who uses the terminology of the very mystery cults that practiced it to distinguish "children" from "adults," the latter learning "mysteries" that they were sworn to keep among themselves, all concepts Paul deploys). Anyway, you'll have to await my book for all the evidence.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... In my view, the Empty Tomb was added (and maybe not by “Mark”) to provide some pseudo evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

Per Origen, it could even have been added for both reasons, serving the ends of the principle of double-truth, one for "children" (who need convincing of literal facts in order to be controlled) and another for "adults" (who deserve to know the real meaning and don't need to anchor them to any carnal facts). I discuss this in my Spiritual Body FAQ. But once you see the second truth (and the evidence for that is clear), the credibility of the first truth approaches zero (by modern standards).

... Because, most likely, the two resurrection stories were written later by two different interpolators: discontinuities again, etc. ... [and all your other radical speculations]

If you wish to maintain that this is the case, you are going against all established consensus. Therefore, you are obligated to publish your theory in a peer reviewed journal in a first step to seek to inform and change the expert consensus. If you refuse or cannot do that, you're just one more maverick outsider with a crazy theory.

As far as all your other less radical rationalizations of Mark's narrative, they are all idle. One speculation is as good as another. I see no point in debating such things.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... ...you reasoned that because only the burial is mentioned (and not the empty tomb), that had to be written before the gospels (consequently by Paul).

I don't recall specifically arguing that. I have argued the Gospels post-date the Epistles as a whole because neither they nor their distinctive content ever appears there. And I have argued that the 1 Cor. 15 chapter (as a whole, not just that section) does not exhibit any knowledge of an empty tomb at all, much less any particular tradition about it. And I have argued that the sequence of appearances in the 1 Cor. 15 list do not match any extant Gospel account (unless it is pared down and emended, as I think it should be). And I have argued that the empty tomb (as well as any details of appearance accounts like we find in the Gospels) would be a crucial datum for Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 15.

But my reasons for assigning Pauline authorship are different, and only operate in conjunction. For example, the mere fact that no empty tomb is mentioned there does not entail Paul wrote it, it only adds weight to any overall case that he did, and it's only the overall case that succeeds, not it's individual elements in isolation.

But with so much “evidence” from many witnesses of multiple post-mortem apparitions, the empty tomb, a poor evidence for the resurrection, was better no to be mentioned by an interpolator.

I beg your pardon, but the empty tomb is not a poor evidence for the resurrection, that's why apologists today make such a central spectacle of it, and why later evangelists tried so hard to shore it up with further proofs, but more relevantly, it's crucial evidence of the nature of resurrection, which is Paul's actual theme throughout that chapter, far more than the mere fact of the resurrection.

And it is only here that the Greek word for “buried” is used in all of Paul’s epistles.

So? Where else do you expect it to appear? You really need to learn what a valid argument from silence consists of before making arguments like this.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... RC: Joseph is done with everything before sunset (Mark is explicit that this all occurs on the Preparation Day before the Sabbath--hence he only says it was getting late, not that sunset had occurred). So there is no shopping here on the Sabbath. BM: Not according to Mk15:42 YLT “And now evening having come, ...” Maybe at that time, the author thought it was still Preparation day, but sunset had come, so it was the Sabbath.

You evidently don't read Greek. There is no mention of the sun having gone down in that verse. Opsia means late in the day, not twilight (it means any kind of late in the day, whether before or after evening, lit. "the latter part of the day," period). In other words, all the sentence says is that it was getting late or had gotten late, not how late it had gotten. It then goes on to say: it had not yet reached the end of the day.

The Thayer’s Lexicon says 6 to 9 PM for the meaning of ‘even’ in Mk15:42

Then whoever wrote that in Thayer's didn't know what they were talking about. There are countless examples in the TLG of opsia and its root opse referring to late in the day, before sunset (just as there are instances of it meaning near midnight, so the whole range of hours you are reading in Thayer's is baloney).

But I do not think an expression like “when evening had come” would be used if there was not a marker to fix the time: 3 o’clock is not a marker but sunset is.

Huh? Mark isn't saying it was either 3 or sunset. He's just saying it was late in the day. Period. I suspect you don't read Greek, since the aorist genitive absolute simply means the event occurred before the action of the main verb (Joseph going to Pilate), i.e. all it says is that when it had become late in the day, then Joseph went. This implies nothing about the relation of the event to sunset. In fact, the context clearly establishes the causative absolute is meant. In other words, all the phrase means is that Joseph went because it became late in the day--meaning he was distinctly aware of the approaching Sabbath and the need to act before it began. Mark clearly understood this, since he constructs the grammar exactly in accord with it.

And the other gospellers changed “when evening had come” to sometime before sunset. I take that as they thought Mark was wrong.

That's a non sequitur. They changed many things just because they had a different style, they changed others simply because they wanted to be clearer or more precise, and so on.

Also in Mk1:32, ‘even’ starts at sunset: YLT “And evening having come, when the sun did set, they brought unto him ...”.

Notice how this invalidates your argument. Mark knew he had to give a specific marker, and here he does: sunset; so in 15:42, he gives a marker again: not yet sunset. He thus is being very clear. You need to listen to what Mark is saying and not try to make things up. He is telling you what he means. He is giving you all the markers. Pay attention.

And no trials!

I assume you are proposing the Romans executed him on their own initiative without a trial (which would be unusual enough to beg an explanation). Otherwise, Jewish law mandates a trial, in fact a trial of two days duration (neither of which can fall on a holy day).

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I certainly do not agree with you on Mark. He made mistakes...[etc.]

None of that has anything to do with my point. Mark was certainly very well educated. That's it. Many a superbly educated writer made mistakes, etc. And contrary to your claim, Helms and others have amply demonstrated Mark's stories are superbly crafted. They are not rush jobs. Nor would that even be plausible. It would take days to write such a book, plus weeks to make enough copies to disseminate it, just in terms of the mechanical use of pen and ink and preparation of the parchment or papyri. In fact, typically first drafts were written in wax and then transferred, but again the transfer time would be enormous. Rushing simply wasn't in the cards. Nor is there any evidence of any circumstances that would compel him to rush. Moreover, extemporaneous writing and speaking is exactly what he would have been taught in school--it was the educational standard and goal. Thus even a rush job could be good solid work.

Then, who was privy to the (alleged) original teachings of the Church?

Whoever wrote the Gospels, for one thing. Yet we don't know who they were, precisely because the later authors who are extant also didn't know them or their churches. Schisms and persecutions and disruptions in the church led to wild divergences and loss of knowledge (e.g. no one appears to really know where Paul died, when, or why). Some of that knowledge may have survived: Clement refers to secret teachings, as does Origen, and they rarely divulge them in their extant writings. But what they do divulge is so ridiculous (read the Hermas, for example, or Origen's symbolic commentaries on the Gospels), it appears the true meanings were lost and new (even more absurd) ones had been created in their place--a common problem with secret oral lore: it can easily and rapidly change without checks or controls.

But we know for a fact knowledge was lost--for example, Bar Abbas is certainly Aramaic for Son of the Father, that's not speculation, it's a bona fide fact, yet none of the Church Fathers noticed it. There are countless other examples. Clearly they were out of the original loop. Similarly for Luke, whom I used to think was out of that loop, until I read Brodie (and also Codex Bezae) and other evidence, which demonstrates Luke was slyly crafting stories symbolically throughout, yet no one caught the undeniable evidence of this (which further means his veneer of writing sober history is a deliberate sham). Anyway, you needn't agree. I'll start gathering the evidence and scholarship in my next book.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... But I am glad you agree [the resurrection body] was thought to be invisible and its physicality (if ever) very little.

I don't know what you mean by "degrees" of physicality. Matter is matter, physical is physical. And I have not said it was necessarily invisible. It may have been (Origen says it was, except to the eyes of faith, which can see spiritual bodies), but we don't in fact know what Paul thought it's appearance was. Since he says it shares the glory of the stars, it almost certainly was luminous in his mind, not invisible, but maybe he shared Origen's view that one needed the right eyes to see it (and Paul does suggest he held to some similar view). Anyway, there is ample evidence many others, before and after him, inside and outside Christianity, agreed "spiritual bodies" radiated light.

I also note that in 2Cor5:1-9, Paul goes back on the subject of (future) heavenly beings for Christians, but the word “body”, for the spiritual kind, is absent.

Not true. He uses common mystery-religion terms for spiritual bodies (tent, building, cloak). All physical things.

And we have here :”We ... would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” It does not look Paul had the heavenly/spiritual body in his mind then.

Of course he is talking about our present bodies here, not our future ones, which God has prepared for us in heaven, and which will share in God's glory (and thus not be apart from him, because God will then be "all in all"). He is not imagining we can exist without a body--he is saying if we are comfortable in our present bodies, which are foreign to God, we cannot claim to be at home with God. We need new bodies for that, which God "has built" for us and that we will "put on" once we "take off" our current bodies. See my full discussion in ET.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... The appraisal of my arguments was expected, as coming from you. Anyway, you implied some of my arguments may be sound. That would be encouraging! And I wonder how you determine soundness.

Why don't you find out? Write up your argument formally and present it to a peer reviewed journal. See what the experts say. Then you'll know, and you won't have to take it from me.

But in short, sound arguments must be (1) factually correct and (2) non-fallacious, most especially in regard to the validity of any generalizations you depend upon as premises (the most common point where amateurs get the facts wrong and expose themselves as inexpert).

As far as Price is concerned, I was not impressed by his case against 1Co15:3-11 being authentic.

My point exactly.

His argument is more factually accurate and less fallacious than yours and more grounded and cautious regarding its generalizations, yet it's still fallacious enough to be inconclusive, for when the fallacies are removed, the conclusion is not strongly implied by his remaining premises (particularly in light of alternative hypotheses, in fact his biggest fallacy is in creating a false dichotomy of all-interpolation or no-interpolation).

I think no certain knowledge can be had here. We can only order different hypotheses by relative likelihood. And on top is the hypothesis that more than one author must be responsible for the whole section (it thus can't be all Paul, nor all one interpolator), and next in order is the hypothesis that verse 6 has become mistakenly (I doubt intentionally) garbled from its original wording (as I show in ET). All other hypotheses fall lower on the ladder still, and yet even those are far from certainties.

Well, the authenticity or unauthenticity of 1Co15:3-11 is important for your theory and mine, and the ones of many others

It's importance has no bearing at all on the knowability of its authenticity. We simply can't know exactly what happened to that passage, only that (probably) something did. That sucks, but that's life.

Richard, I decided to post on your blog my arguments against the authenticity of 1Cor15:3-11 because I would like to learn what you consider as unsound.

This is a waste of everyone's time. Unless you intend to pay me for a consultation, I simply don't have time for a point-by-point critique of other people's inordinately long writings. That's what professional peer reviewers are for: submit to a peer reviewed journal. That's the proper behavior. Do it.

Since this material already exists on the web and you've linked to it earlier, I've deleted it here. It's just wasted bandwidth

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: Bernard said... I have no clue about what you mean about Mark.


RC: I am telling you that if Mark had written exactly what Josephus did, you'd be right, but Mark didn't, therefore you're wrong.



BM: That’s a very opaque statement. According to you, Mark would think that Sunday morning (about 40 hours after Jesus’ death) was after three days. I cannot agree with that. And you do not have evidence to prove that (as a way to count days in antiquity), except that Mark wrote also the empty tomb passage (circular argument).



RC: Because they are both using exactly the same numbering conventions. I won't repeat the matter, since my original post is clear as to my point, so you need to re-read it. Maybe you also need to re-read the passages in Josephus you cite--perhaps you aren't paying attention to his actual wording. Otherwise, I can't fathom how you misunderstand my argument.

BM: What argument? The only one you have is that Mark wrote both “after three days” and the 40 hours of Jesus’ death, so the last part of 40 hours has to be after three days.



RC quoting me: Josephus did not specify whole days, so according to you, some of his days (that is first and/or last ones) had to be fractional.


RC: I didn't say they had to be. I am saying he is counting pegs on a calendar. Period.



BM: Now Josephus was counting pegs on a calendar! Did he need that to figure out that after three days comes the fourth day, not the third day? or after two days comes the third day?


RC: You need to remember that you are arguing against a well-established fact attested directly and explicitly in ancient legal and literary sources and consequently accepted by all expert authorities.

BM: Supply the evidence please, proving that the last moment of a 40 consecutive hours period, spread over three calendar days (that is up to the third day) is after three days, according to ancient thinking. I checked several apologist sites dealing with the problem of “on the third day” conflicting with “after three days”. They used very dubious & different reasoning for harmonization, but none invoke the “well-established fact attested directly and explicitly in ancient legal and literary sources and consequently accepted by all expert authorities”. How strange that they do not know about that consensus of yours!



RC quoting me: from the time of death to the time of resurrection, your magister parapegmatis would have moved the peg at sunset of Friday, then at sunset of Saturday. That’s it, twice only.


RC: No, the peg was on the Friday hole at his death, so he was dead one day. Then the peg moved after he had been legally and calendrically dead one day to the Saturday (Sabbath) peg and he stayed dead all the while. That's a second day dead. Then the peg was moved to the Sunday hole (the first day of the week). He's still dead, so dead not two days, but now three. Yes, later that same day he becomes un-dead, but he was still legally and calendrically dead three days: part of one day, all of the next, and part of the next, dead while the peg was in three separate holes, three days. Again, that's just how they counted.



BM: Yes, he was dead part of three days, but he became un-dead on the third day of these three days, not after three days (starting on the fourth day). That’s the whole point.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: I'll reiterate for the last time: I am not arguing the need to look for symbolism, I can already prove the symbolism is there, in numerous fundamental passages,


BM: Symbolic meaning of any part of a text can be easily imagined. Philo of Alexandria was a master at it regarding the Pentateuch. Many Neo/Middle Platonic (from pagan legends), Gnostics and Church Fathers (from the bible) were also in the same game. In other words, people looks for symbolic meaning anywhere when the “data” is pedestrian and needs to be enhanced in order to satisfy some tantalizing agenda-driven conclusions.

And your symbolic interpretation of “who will open the tomb for us” meant to suggest “mortals cannot conquer death” is a prime example of your dubious reasoning.



RC quoting me: I doubt most scholars accept Mark wanted his gospel to be believed as a myth.


RC: In the ancient sense, yes. Just read Crossley, Mack, Lüdemann, Ehrman, anyone who isn't an Evangelical or other sectarian dogmatist. Even Brown agrees the Gospels are myths about Jesus (read his commentary on the nativity stories), and he's a devout Catholic. As with other myths, they can contain historical facts, but the primary constructive aim of the Gospels is not historical reporting. Most scholars agree with that.



BM: I agree with you. And the Nativity Stories as fiction is a given (but gMark does not have any NSs, nor bodily reappearance!). But added fiction (that you call myth) does not say anything about if a Jesus existed or not, as you wrote not too long ago: “But the point is: a mythic Jesus could still also be a historic Jesus, i.e. the myth would be layered on top, possibly obscuring most of the truth, just as most scholars today believe to be the case ...”.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: Actually, I do provide such quotes, plus other evidence, in Empty Tomb. Apparently you haven't read it. I also have collected abundant external evidence of this behavior as a general practice in religious cults in antiquity, which I will survey in my upcoming book.


BM: The Empty Tomb again. It seems that all your understanding and study about the gospels are based on that small passage, which started in gMark and likely was not written by the original author. Anyway I did find something you wrote about the Empty Tomb (dated 2005) on this website:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/lecture.html , “Main Arguments”. I can agree with many of your points and be appalled with others. But, apparently, you modified your position since then, according to your emphasized warning. Frankly I have no incentive, time and money to study your changing views and your latest thoughts.



RC: If everything that was claimed in that novel were true, the Da Vinci code would be real, exactly as the novel lays out. Hence, in the case of Mark, unlike that novel, all the evidence is real, therefore so is the "code." The evidence is overwhelming: the premises are irrefutable and the logic is valid, so I have no doubt of it. But you'll have to await my book for the details (or get a glimpse now by reading Helms and Brodie, just as two major examples). I don't expect you to agree with my specific reading. But that myth of some sort is deployed throughout the Gospels, the evidence is pretty clear to the scholarly community already. Just read any of the scholars I mentioned above.


BM: So gMark has a “code” and is real (by “real” I assume on a “symbolic” plane, coming from you). Very interesting. “The evidence is overwhelming: the premises are irrefutable and the logic is valid”. Let’s be realistic. Nothing is clear-cut in this field, but rather opposite of what you claim. I bet on some fierce criticism on your (many months late!) book to come. And your so-called “specific reading” may be much like agenda-driven imaginative interpretations. I’ll wait and see.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: Actually, I do provide such quotes, plus other evidence, in Empty Tomb. Apparently you haven't read it. I also have collected abundant external evidence of this behavior as a general practice in religious cults in antiquity, which I will survey in my upcoming book.


BM: I know enough about gMark and its empty tomb passage to ascertain there is no direct evidence & quotes to support your case. And we cannot assume early Christians were part of a mystery cult. Actually a few passages of 1 Corinthians demonstrate that Christian meetings were disorganized and opened to everyone, with anyone invited to contribute (prophesies, teaching, speaking in tongues, eating a common meal, etc.) That’s not typical of mystery cults such as Mitras’ worship or scientology.



RC quoting me: Insiders sworn to secrecy? that’s very far-fetched and unevidenced.


RC: It was standard practice in ancient cults, even Judaism. We have attestation of a similar practice in the church from (I think) Clement, and indirect evidence in Origen (who doesn't mention oaths, but does mention the double-truth of every Gospel and Bible verse: one for high ranking insiders, another for lower ranks) and Paul (who uses the terminology of the very mystery cults that practiced it to distinguish "children" from "adults," the latter learning "mysteries" that they were sworn to keep among themselves, all concepts Paul deploys). Anyway, you'll have to await my book for all the evidence


BM: One possible attestation from an author whose identity you are nor sure of? Indirect evidence from somebody who lived generations after the gospels had been written? That’s walking on thin ice. Once again, where did you read "adults," the latter learning "mysteries" that they were sworn to keep among themselves,” in Paul’s epistles. But in them, and the gospels, believers are invited to be “children”, that is innocent (as naive).


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: ... Because, most likely, the two resurrection stories were written later by two different interpolators: discontinuities again, etc. ... [and all your other radical speculations]


RC: If you wish to maintain that this is the case, you are going against all established consensus. Therefore, you are obligated to publish your theory in a peer reviewed journal in a first step to seek to inform and change the expert consensus. If you refuse or cannot do that, you're just one more maverick outsider with a crazy theory.



BM: The experts’ consensus again? Well, Dominic Crossan thinks the original ending of gMark was at 15:39, before the empty tomb passage ('the Historical Jesus', pages 415-416). So good bye consensus. On the resurrections stories in gMatthew, it’s all explained on my website. And there is no law which force me to publish it on a peer reviewed journal in order to maintain my position. And I would not be accepted as a peer, period, so no publishing, no peer review. Catch 22. I would publish on a “journal”, but only if I am invited (based on my website content on the matter). No need to spend time on an article and be turned down because I do not have a PhD (and my English is not “literary”).


RC: As far as all your other less radical rationalizations of Mark's narrative, they are all idle. One speculation is as good as another. I see no point in debating such things.

BM: My conclusions are not based on speculations, but on a solid set of direct evidence and make a lot of sense in a real time, ‘down to earth” and pragmatic context (but sadly, not in the lofty & pedant scholarly world --an intellectual & elitist jungle--)


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: I don't know what you mean by "degrees" of physicality. Matter is matter, physical is physical.


BM: Exactly: physical is physical and spiritual is not physical, but spiritual, as are the heavenly Jesus and to-be-resurrected Christians in 1Cor15:45-49.



RC: Anyway, there is ample evidence many others, before and after him, inside and outside Christianity, agreed "spiritual bodies" radiated light.


BM: But Paul does not say that. Period.



RC quoting me: I also note that in 2Cor5:1-9, Paul goes back on the subject of (future) heavenly beings for Christians, but the word “body”, for the spiritual kind, is absent.


RC: Not true. He uses common mystery-religion terms for spiritual bodies (tent, building, cloak). All physical things.



BM: Philo of Alexandria used the same terminology for souls. And Philo was a Jew, and a very public one at that.

"Behold, she is in the tent;" that is to say, in the soul." (Philo, 'That the worse is wont to attack the better', XVII, 59)

"he [the proselyte] has received as a most appropriate a firm and sure habitation in heaven" (Philo, 'On reward and Punishment', XXVI, 152)
And, in heaven, the souls of dead people are given white robes, according to Revelation 6:9-11


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: Bernard said... ...you reasoned that because only the burial is mentioned (and not the empty tomb), that had to be written before the gospels (consequently by Paul).


RC: I don't recall specifically arguing that. ...



BM: I was referring to the last point of your message to me at May 13, 2009 10:39 AM



RC quoting me: But with so much “evidence” from many witnesses of multiple post-mortem apparitions, the empty tomb, a poor evidence for the resurrection, was better no to be mentioned by an interpolator.


RC: I beg your pardon, but the empty tomb is not a poor evidence for the resurrection, ...



BM: I was referring only to 1Cor15, where truckloads of reappearances follow the burial (overwhelming evidence for resurrection!), which makes the empty tomb just a distraction.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: Also in Mk1:32, ‘even’ starts at sunset: YLT “And evening having come, when the sun did set, they brought unto him ...”.


RC: Notice how this invalidates your argument. Mark knew he had to give a specific marker, and here he does: sunset; so in 15:42, he gives a marker again: not yet sunset. He thus is being very clear. You need to listen to what Mark is saying and not try to make things up. He is telling you what he means. He is giving you all the markers. Pay attention.



BM: The problem here is you assume 1:32 and 15:42 were written by the same author, that is “Mark” (who would have two different understanding for ‘even’!). “sunset” in 1:32 and “not yet sunset” in 15:42 is better explained as being written by two different authors, each one having a different understanding for ‘even’.



RC quoting me: And no trials!


RC: I assume you are proposing the Romans executed him on their own initiative without a trial (which would be unusual enough to beg an explanation). Otherwise, Jewish law mandates a trial, in fact a trial of two days duration (neither of which can fall on a holy day).



BM: My review of captured rebel or suspected rebel in Josephus’ works gave me evidence about those were most often executed without trial. If Jesus was delivered to the Romans from the chiefs priest as a suspected rebel, then Jewish laws do not apply. Furthermore, a low class Galilean (and trouble maker) did not call for much consideration. And Philo of Alexandria wrote Pilate had the nasty habit to make shortcuts: "and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned" (On the embassy to Gaius, XXXVIII).

I have many details on my website (HJ-3A & Parables1) where I show “Mark” invented these “trials” for various reasons.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC: ... They are not rush jobs.

BM: By rush job, for gMark writing, I was allowing days, maybe a few weeks.


RC: Nor would that even be plausible. It would take days to write such a book, plus weeks to make enough copies to disseminate it, ...

BM: How do you know there was a plan to multiply and disseminate the “gospel”? According to what went into the text (more so 12:1-12, 13:1-37), it is more plausible the gospel was written in secret after the event of 70 in Judea got known in the author’s community, somehow “discovered” (see 2Ki22) and used in the specific congregation of the author (who was likely one of its elders, or even the leader) in a time of doubts & defections (13:21-22) and assuring them the long-awaited Kingdom is very near (for the later point, the imminent new Divine order was promised many times in the OT prophetic books (Daniel, for example) in time of distress).


RC quoting me: Then, who was privy to the (alleged) original teachings of the Church?


RC: Whoever wrote the Gospels, for one thing. Yet we don't know who they were, precisely because the later authors who are extant also didn't know them or their churches. Schisms and persecutions and disruptions in the church led to wild divergences and loss of knowledge (e.g. no one appears to really know where Paul died, when, or why). Some of that knowledge may have survived: Clement refers to secret teachings, as does Origen, and they rarely divulge them in their extant writings.


BM: Clement (of Alexandria) and Origen, coming late after the writing of gMark, cannot be used as evidence for the making of the gospel. Earlier Christian literature, and the Gnostic Christians were also alluding to secret teaching. But so what? How does that relate with gMark? This is not direct evidence, not even evidence at all.



RC: But we know for a fact knowledge was lost--for example, Bar Abbas is certainly Aramaic for Son of the Father, that's not speculation, it's a bona fide fact, yet none of the Church Fathers noticed it.

BM: Why would they make a point of noticing it? I do not think that was in their interest. For me Bar Abbas is fictitious, introduced by Mark for an obvious purpose, and given a generic name from the top of his head. Of course, anyone can make all kind of speculations about the name. I read a few already.


Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

RC quoting me: As far as Price is concerned, I was not impressed by his case against 1Co15:3-11 being authentic.


RC: My point exactly.

His argument is more factually accurate and less fallacious than yours and more grounded and cautious regarding its generalizations, yet it's still fallacious enough to be inconclusive, for when the fallacies are removed, the conclusion is not strongly implied by his remaining premises (particularly in light of alternative hypotheses, in fact his biggest fallacy is in creating a false dichotomy of all-interpolation or no-interpolation).

I think no certain knowledge can be had here.


BM: That proves also a point of mine: Dr Price has an impressive collection of academic credits:

Doctor of Philosophy, New Testament; Drew University, Madison NJ; May 1993

Master of Philosophy, New Testament; Drew University, Madison NJ; October 1992

Doctor of Philosophy, Systematic Theology; Drew University, Madison NJ; May, 1981
Master of Theological Studies, New Testament; Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA; May 1978

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Religion; History; Montclair State College, Upper Montclair NJ; May 1976

But, according to you, Dr Price makes fallacious arguments. So much for PhD and other academic degrees! And why are you looking for certain knowledge, as if it can be found in this field? But if you are wrong on the authenticity of 1Cor15:3-11, then you are on the wrong tracks and a large part of your work is false.

In the case I made, I used no less than eight arguments independent of each other, all tending to prove the passage is an interpolation. None of these arguments needs to be a “killer” argument proving at 100% the suspected interpolation. But if these eight arguments have, in average, a 30% chance to support my conclusion, then the combination of the arguments would amount to 94% (my math can be supplied on demand), with 50% being the threshold (below, the passage is likely authentic, above the opposite). For 20% average, the overall result is 83%, still well above 50%.


Best regards, Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard, nothing in your latest vast array of words above adds anything to this discussion. You simply are ignoring what I've said, making excuses, and issuing vain declarations of incredulity. You're just wasting my time. We're done here.

chasing the front crowd said...

wait, you lost to craig!?

i mean, craig's pretty smart but taking the apologetic side, there's really no way to win.

guess i should go watch the debate online.

Richard Carrier said...

Oral debate is a game. There is no connection between winning and being right. As I've said many times, if the clock didn't stop, I would have rebutted every argument he made. So in effect, he was hiding behind the rules and just talking faster than me. That's why a written debate would not turn out so well for him, and I'd love to engage one with him if anyone can arrange it.

Matt said...

This debate was as if Craig chained Carrier to a tree and punched him in the stomach for 3 hours.

Richard Carrier said...

Must be a debate you dreamed about. Because that's not what I saw. It looked a lot more like two hours of boring talking past each other as he ignored half of what I argued, spent most of his time rebutting what I never presented there, followed by me trying to race against the clock to answer all the misleading claims he bombarded the audience with faster than they could even follow or comprehend. All in all, a dull and unproductive affair.

Will77 said...

I definitely think Craig gets by alot on time constraints of oral debates.. he has built a powerful set of skills that often give him the appearance of being right because he has so much facility within the confines of formal oral debating. I agree that a written debate would be much more revealing of he weaknesses of his positions. The serious debates that are about getting more to the truth are the written ones. Alot of Craig's dominance on the debate circuit has to do with his overly confident posturing towards a constituency that he need not persuade of anything, as 80% are probably already on his side.