Sunday, April 3, 2016

Warfare Thesis Failure Leaves Evolution Desperate For Canards

Pop Psych to the Rescue

Ever since Voltaire mythologized the Galileo Affair, Hume’s Philo demolished Cleanthes, and Gibbon blamed pretty much everything on the Christians, evolutionary thinking has had an unbeatable template: The Warfare Thesis. Anyone who opposes or even questions evolution is automatically branded as having religious motives. Religion is at war with science. That claim has failed the test of historiography over and over, but so what? Who cares about history? Certainly not journalists, policy makers, federal judges, textbook authors, and anyone else who matters. But now there is an entirely different, empirical, falsification of the Warfare Thesis, and evolutionists are in full-panic.

Evolutionists began to realize there were problems with blaming skepticism of their warmed over Epicureanism on the Warfare Thesis a few years ago when Neil deGrasse Tyson asked “How come this number isn’t zero?” That “number” Tyson referred to was not the number of backwoods fideists, but rather the number of scientists, who reject evolution. The greatest minds in history didn’t buy it and a non trivial percentage of today’s scientists also aren’t quite sure that astronomical entropy barriers have repeatedly been climbed an astronomical number of times by, err, random chance events. The Warfare Thesis canard was showing signs of wear.

More recently, studies are showing that people generally tend to reject evolutionary concepts at a gut level. This has nothing to do with religious beliefs. It seems that the evolutionary ideas that (i) the species are nothing but snapshots in a continuum, rather than essentialistic, and that (ii) the world is nothing but a randomly evolving blob, rather than there being an underlying teleology, don’t make much sense to people. All people.

This is particularly evident in young children. As the Guardian reports:

Developmental psychologists have identified two cognitive biases in very young children that help to explain the popularity of intelligent design. The first is a belief that species are defined by an internal quality that cannot be changed (psychological essentialism). The second is that all things are designed for a purpose (promiscuous teleology). These biases interact with cultural beliefs such as religion but are just as prevalent in children raised in secular societies. Importantly, these beliefs become increasingly entrenched, making formal scientific instruction more and more difficult as children get older. … teleology is prevalent in children regardless of how their parents describe the world to them or the religious culture that they are growing up in. This widespread function compunction is neither outgrown nor fully replaced by formal scientific education.

The Warfare Thesis continues to fail, and evolutionists need a new canard why people just won’t go along with their age-old idea that the world arose spontaneously.

167 comments:

  1. Interesting. People who believe in Intelligent Design are childlike in their understanding and haven't developed the intellectual skill set to properly evaluate scientific evidence.

    That certainly agrees with all the empirical evidence seen on ID-Creationist web sites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds more like the child in
      "The Emperor's New Clothes" (Danish: Kejserens nye Klæder) a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

      Delete
    2. ghosthumping evotard aka Thornton:

      blah, blah, blah

      Did you not promise a day ago to stop commenting on Cornelius's blog, Mr. Dirt Worshipper? You lying morons just can't keep your word. But we all knew that.

      The evotards continually claim that they are doing science but all they really do is attack people that they consider to be non-scientists and creationists. What's up with that?

      I'll tell you what's up. You are a bunch of dumb dirt worshippers who use politics and mass propaganda to BS the people and the government. You then steal the taxpayer's money and use it to preach your stupid third-rate religion in our schools with impunity. That's what's up.

      I personally believe that ID proponents are doing it all wrong. They should attack the evotards from the point of view that they are violating the US Constitution and the laws of many other nations around the world by teaching their superstition in our schools under the guise of teaching science. Like all fascists, the evotards use a favorite strategy: use the state to brainwash the young. But not for long. Your time of BSing the people is almost up. Your entire house of cards is about to come crashing down and sooner than you think.

      By the way, it should be child's play to prove in court that the evotards' so-called "science" is actually a pile of religious manure dressed to look like science. But the dirt worshippers also managed to take over the legal system. But it does not really matter. Your demise will come from the one place that you suspect the least. LOL

      Delete
    3. "Your entire house of cards is about to come crashing down and sooner than you think"

      Taking into account the present state and known limits
      I would agree. We are bumping against the redline all over the place. Calhoun mouse experiment written all over this mess.

      Delete
    4. Ghost rider....this has all the earmarks of ID.
      I mean it could be random noise...but I doubt it.

      https://youtu.be/Uv5vO-DFbTM

      Delete
    5. Not confused tadpoles.

      https://youtu.be/awi9oN78mEw

      Delete
    6. LOL! Sharp as a bowling ball there cv5.

      Let us know when you have a YouTube video of the Intelligent Designer creating all biological life on Earth from scratch. :)

      Delete
    7. "Let us know when you have a YouTube video of the Intelligent Designer creating all biological life on Earth from scratch. :)"

      Sure thing!! Right after you have a YouTube video of unintelligent random forces defying all odds and creating all biological life on Earth from scratch. :) You do have thousands upon thousands of scientists to produce it. It should be a cinch! Or how about just one life form? That should be even easier. We'll be waiting...and waiting...and waiting.

      Delete
    8. Psst.. Phillymike...only Creationists try to do "science" via YouTube video.

      Delete
    9. Did you miss it? All of it? I mean the ID. There was more evidence/information encapsulated in those two
      videos than I could elucidate in a lifetime of blogging.
      Non-random periodic signals. Isn't that what SETI is searching for? I mean, its everywhere.

      Delete
    10. I missed the part where you showed evidence of an Intelligent Designer for all biological life on Earth. No one in the scientific community has seen that.

      Delete

    11. And I am likewise waiting for scientists to demonstrate abiogenesis ex-nihilo (must be happening somewhere 24-7, no?)
      or demonstrate by experiment in the laboratory that evolution is a fact. This should also be utterly simple as well. Right? Because life is sooooo simple. Other than the program itself which is a sequence of billions of characters that code a self replicating machine.

      IMO the problem lies with the notion that man can write code and design and mfg things. But nobody else can did or would.

      Delete
    12. ghostrider,

      "People who believe in Intelligent Design are childlike in their understanding and haven't developed the intellectual skill set to properly evaluate scientific evidence."

      If you're wondering why I'm back so soon, let's just say I missed you. After all, why should we allow one silly individual's lack of respect for the views of others spoil our fun?

      Rather than seeing people who believe in ID as being childlike in their understanding perhaps we could say that they are only applying common sense to the equation. After all, common sense functions at what one would call a 'gut level.'

      Delete
    13. ghosthumping, pinheaded evotard, aka Thornton:

      I missed the part where you showed evidence of an Intelligent Designer for all biological life on Earth. No one in the scientific community has seen that.

      LOL

      Evotards are not scientists. They are pseudoscientists, pretenders, liars, usurpers and con artists. Real scientists have no trouble understanding that the combinatorial explosion makes it impossible for dirt to turn into living organisms and for bacteria to turn into whales just by random happenstance. Even children understands this.

      Darwinism is nothing but a cult of stupid dirt worshippers: the Church of the Flying Dirt Monster. A bunch of lying idiots and spineless jackasses.

      ahahaha...AHAHAHA...ahahaha...

      Delete
    14. Nic

      Rather than seeing people who believe in ID as being childlike in their understanding perhaps we could say that they are only applying common sense to the equation. After all, common sense functions at what one would call a 'gut level.'


      The problem with that approach is way too often our "gut level" common sense is dead wrong. Gut level common sense tells you the sun and stars revolve around a stationary Earth.

      One of the biggest advantages science has given us in the last 300 years is to replace our gut level intuition with hard empirical data. That's why so many in the scientific community accept evolutionary theory. It provide a single comprehensive framework for interpreting ALL the data. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Life on the planet has been here over 3 billion years. Multi-cellular life has been here over 650 million years. Both the fossil and genetic records show our extant species have all evolved through common descent from other species that lived long before today.

      Those are the empirical facts Nic, and all the "gut feel" in the world won't erase them.

      Delete
    15. Gut level common sense tells you the sun and stars revolve around a stationary Earth.

      What?

      One of the biggest advantages science has given us in the last 300 years is to replace our gut level intuition with hard empirical data.

      You don't know what empirical data is and you don't know what science is.

      That's why so many in the scientific community accept evolutionary theory.

      What theory? And why can't those scientists tell us how to test the claims of their position?

      The Earth is 4.54 billion years old.

      Your position can't explain the earth.

      Life on the planet has been here over 3 billion years. Multi-cellular life has been here over 650 million years.

      Your position cannot explain life nor multicellular life.

      Both the fossil and genetic records show our extant species have all evolved through common descent from other species that lived long before today.

      What a load of gibberish-"evolved through common descent"? You must be an ignorant troll.

      Delete
    16. Nic

      If you're wondering why I'm back so soon, let's just say I missed you. After all, why should we allow one silly individual's lack of respect for the views of others spoil our fun?


      Thanks Nic. I'll stop by occasionally to swap ideas. Now that the second obscenity spewing moron who was banned at UD has shown up you can really expect this place will become a cesspool. Do you ever post on any other boards where such behavior is not allowed?

      Delete
    17. ..and right on cue, fat Joe Gallien the world's dumbest YEC shows up to defecate in the thread.

      Delete
    18. Dirt worshipper Timothy Horton (thanks Joe G.):

      Both the fossil and genetic records show our extant species have all evolved through common descent from other species that lived long before today.

      Except that this is exactly how we expect intelligent design evolution to proceed, from the simple to the complex. We observe this progression all the time in our own designs.

      Besides, the fossil record does not show the gradual change expectation of the evotards. It shows sudden explosions of new body plans, as if the designers decided to introduce new designs into the ecosystem.

      Also, the genetic record does not show strict common descent. It shows many examples of horizontal gene transfers between distant or otherwise unrelated species. Which is exactly what we observe in our own designs. Software even have a name for it: multiple inheritance.

      Finally, and this is the coup de grace for the evotards, the fossil record and genetics do not solve the single most intractable problem facing the dirt worshippers: the combinatorial explosion.

      Tell me Horton, what does the Flying Dirt Monster's asteroid smell like today?

      ahahaha...AHAHAHA...ahahaha...

      Delete
    19. Well, it appears that Darwin's God has become the site for ID proponents who are too rude and abusive even for UD.

      Cornelius must be proud.

      Delete
    20. Ghostrider
      "One of the biggest advantages science has given us in the last 300 years is to replace our gut level intuition with hard empirical data. That's why so many in the scientific community accept evolutionary theory. It provide a single comprehensive framework for interpreting ALL the data."
      Your point is right here we can often be fooled by intuition. The problem is that the recent biochemical data is not supporting macroevolution as a theory. The partial list is
      -the observation of the genome as a sequence
      -the observation of different gene expression in vertebrates
      -the contradiction of micro RNA homologies which is problematic because of the sequences.
      -the differences in splicing codes between vertebrae
      I think it would be useful to take a hard look at the evidence Cornellius is showing before rejecting out of hand because of his world view.

      Delete
    21. Dirt worshipper:

      Cornelius must be proud.

      Spineless maggot.

      Delete
    22. Joe/Virgil/Frankie: "Your position cannot explain life nor multicellular life."

      Given the orifice that your head is generally inserted, the only thing that your position can possibly explain is Yoga.

      I figure since Cornelius doesn't give a damn about civil discussion, I might as well join the crowd. See if it gives me some kind of pleasure.

      Delete
    23. "I figure since Cornelius doesn't give a damn about civil discussion, I might as well join the crowd. See if it gives me some kind of pleasure."

      Well, I tried it. I did not get any pleasure out of it. I guess that obtaining pleasure from being generally abusive and offensive towards anyone who disagrees with you is a mental pathology that I have been lucky enough not to be cursed with.

      I wonder what pathology is involved in people who support and condone the abusiveness of others when they have the power to affect it.

      Delete
    24. Dirt worshipper:

      I wonder what pathology is involved in people who support and condone the abusiveness of others when they have the power to affect it.

      I wonder what pathology is involved in people who support and condone the worship of dirt as the mother of life when they have the power to affect it.

      Microcephalic and spineless maggot.

      ahahaha...AHAHAHA...ahahaha...

      Delete
    25. William Spearshake

      Given the orifice that your head is generally inserted, the only thing that your position can possibly explain is Yoga.


      Joega. :D

      I figure since Cornelius doesn't give a damn about civil discussion, I might as well join the crowd. See if it gives me some kind of pleasure.

      Nah, not worth it. Just sit back and enjoy the Creationist freak show. Where else can you see angry ignorant YECs use their sphincters for their mouths?

      Delete
    26. LOL. It's fun seeing two stupid dirt worshippers having an epileptic seizure over being giving a taste of their own medicine. The crybabies can't take it. So they start whining like hyenas. LOL

      What a bunch of gutless, microcephalic morons. You two jackasses need to take a remedial math course in the meaning of exponentials to find out why you are so stupid. In the end, it comes down to this: people worship dirt because they are stupid as dirt.

      ahahaha...AHAHAHA...ahahaha...

      Delete
    27. Mapou: ""What a bunch of gutless, microcephalic morons."

      It's nice to see that Mapou is expanding his vocabulary.

      Delete
  2. Cornelius: "Ever since Voltaire mythologized the Galileo Affair, Hume’s Philo demolished Cleanthes, and Gibbon blamed pretty much everything on the Christians, evolutionary thinking has had an unbeatable template: The Warfare Thesis. Anyone who opposes or even questions evolution is automatically branded as having religious motives."

    Except, I've pointed out the flaw in this claim several times before. Specifically, when I've suggested objections to evolution are based on philosophical grounds. The Christian religion does not have a monopoly on the philosophical idea that knowledge in certain spheres comes from authoritative sources. Nor do even all religions in general. Rather, Theism is a specific case of a more general epistemological view about the growth of knowledge. IOW, opposition to evolution is not on religious grounds but epistemological grounds, which some religions happen to share. An inexplicable mind that exists in an inexplicable realm did it using some inexplicable method. And we know this because it was communicated by an inexplicable means. What is fundamental to that entire scenario is the idea that knowledge in specific spheres comes from authoritative sources. If you reject that philosophical idea, then you reject theism. That's why I'm no longer a theist.

    There is no explanation as to how the designer knew the right answers in the massive search space that Cornelius keeps referring to. So, why doesn't he consider this just as astronomically impossible? Because the designer is an abstract authoritative source without any limitations, that's why. Which also conveniently leaves the door open wide enough for the God of theism. And, since natural processes are not authoritative sources, it could not possibility be the explanation for the biosphere.

    Of course, please correct me if I'm wrong by providing an alternative explanation for why the designer's knowledge of such a huge search space isn't astronomically improbable.

    Regardless, a designer that "just was", complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins, that would result in just the right features, already present at the outset, doesn't serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms, "just appeared" complete with knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins, that would result in just the right features, already present. Neither explain the origin of that knowledge.

    If there is such a thing as a simple designer designer that merely willed organisms into existence, the very knowledge those organisms contain of how to make copies of themselves would have been willed into existence at the very same time. That would be the spontaneous appearance of knowledge. And if the designer was complex and well adapted to the purpose of designing things, including possessing the knowledge that will eventually appear in organisms, that designer would exhibit the very same feature that supposedly needs a designer to explain. So, you haven't actually improved the problem.

    The funny thing is, Cornelius (nor anyone else that I'm aware of) as actually addressed this criticism. Yet, here he is making the same claim yet again. And evolution is the broken theory that keeps on going?

    Can someone point out what's wrong with what I wrote above? For example, Theism isn't based on the idea that knowledge comes from authoritative sources?

    Do you simply think it's obvious that knowledge comes from authoritative sources, and it's not even worth responding to? Everyone knows that philosophical is true or self evident?

    Anybody?

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    Replies
    1. Sure. The search space of available candidates for omnipotent designers is extremely limited. Choose wisely.
      Somebody or something proclaiming Himself God fed the children of Israel 40 years, and there are plenty of witnesses including the nation's roundabout. You can wait for a different one to happen along, but I won't.

      Delete
    2. I have a lot of respect for someone who submits their ideas to the world for criticism like this, so I will try to give the kind of response I would want.

      Firstly I think you need to iron out your concept of knowledge. You're talking about the functional information that makes living things work and an observer's knowledge about the origin of that information as if they belong to the same category, when clearly they don't.

      Theism, as opposed to deism, surely does recognise that some "knowledge comes from authoritative sources", but I'm sure that pretty much all theists would agree that the existence of a Creator is self evident, in other words, knowable even without an authoritative source.

      As for the information in living things, you seem to be saying that there is no reason for us to assume a designer should be any better at producing the information needed to build a living thing than a random and/or natural process.

      To which I say: If mind or agency is an ontological thing, then by definition mind/agency is drastically more likely to generate any form of functional information than natural processes.

      If anyone has a problem with mind/agency as an ontological concept independent of human or animal beings, I have just one question:

      If a Mars rover finds a mysterious inscription carved into a rockface, and the media is awash with speculation about "who" put it there, how many scientists will be saying, "Until you can show them to me and the ship they rode in on, the only scientific thing to do is to try to explain how erosion or some other natural process did it"?

      The answer is zero.

      Even before we know if it was humans or aliens or angels, we will know that "someone" must have done it. And the technical terms for "someone" include "mind", "agency" and "intelligent designer".

      Delete
    3. Scott,

      A wonderful explanation of the creationist mindset.

      Thank you.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous Scott
      "The funny thing is, Cornelius (nor anyone else that I'm aware of) as actually addressed this criticism. Yet, here he is making the same claim yet again. And evolution is the broken theory that keeps on going?"

      Well, I've had to go way back to view your posting history and you appear to have been gone a while. But your history reveals You do exactly what you are accusing Cornelius of doing when he critizises less than stellar scientific explanations when it comes to your beloved Stuff Happens Theory. You ave never once addressed his concerns on the religious jargon used to prove evolution is true. Instead you have always deflected away from the topic to what is his explanation how a designer did it. In the past he has state he does not know, but that is NOT the purpose of this blog. This is not about Cornelius Hunter's God, but rather Darwin's god. If you wish to discuss those points you bring up. why not create your own blog and title it

      http://cornelius-hunters-god.blogspot.com

      Then post article referencing your objects. Unfortunately that would be a challenge since he has never really written and article on what the designer did here or there and exclaim it as a fact and demonize others who do not agree with him as being anti-science

      Good luck with your new assignment

      Delete
    5. LOL! Frankfurter is another creepy Creationist stalker trying to "out" people. Yet he wonders why clods like him, Louis, and Joe G get held in such contempt.

      Delete
  3. I only add that SCIENTISTS don'r know anything about evolution as scientists UNLESS thats what they do as scientists. be definition scientists, being specialists worthy of a name of skill, would know lESS about other scientists work.
    Therefore its only scientists who study origins that can have a claim to know what they are talking about as that hogher caste of thinkers called SCIENTISTS.
    Thats why evolution is so easily wrong and so easily challenged. its very few who get paid/pensions who study evo bio.
    In fact its probably just thousands and most high school teachers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robert

      I'm trying to wrap my head around your logic. Are you suggesting that only evolutionary biologists are qualified to make or evaluate claims in the field of evolutionary biology?

      If that were so, does that logic apply to any other area of study? What if two disciplines, as described by qualified experts in their respective fields, are mutually exclusive?

      I can't figure if this comment is hubris or illustrating absurdity with absurdity.

      Delete
    2. Why the wrapping issue?
      I'm only making a careful point. That only speciists can say they are specialists in some subject!
      So a rocket scientist can't say he is a scientist and so knows evolution is proven by science. What does he know? He can only refer to his own subject and then say I AM A SCIENTIST and thus know better then the average or anyone not a scientist in ROCKET science.

      I do think anyone can master these subjects but DON'T say your a scientist or use that label and count heads for who agrees with evolution as a scientist IN OTHER SUBJECTS.

      So very few people are evo bio scientists.
      The other scientists don't matter except like anyone who has applied their mind to the subject.
      Words matter.

      Delete
    3. Robert: Thanks for clarifying. I'm often over analytical which is probably why I gravitated towards IT.

      I'll even second your statement. An MBA can be just as educated in evo biology as the cosmologist.

      I don't get real excited by letters after names, I misunderstood your comment to suggest such a qualification is necessary to be valid.

      Delete
  4. I only add that SCIENTISTS don'r know anything about evolution as scientists UNLESS thats what they do as scientists. be definition scientists, being specialists worthy of a name of skill, would know lESS about other scientists work.
    Therefore its only scientists who study origins that can have a claim to know what they are talking about as that hogher caste of thinkers called SCIENTISTS.
    Thats why evolution is so easily wrong and so easily challenged. its very few who get paid/pensions who study evo bio.
    In fact its probably just thousands and most high school teachers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "More recently, studies are showing that people generally tend to reject evolutionary concepts at a gut level."

    And then you claim that this has nothing to do with religious beliefs. Which, on the surface, is true. But religion itself is based on gut level desires.

    I am an atheist and I know that when I die I will be worn food. There is a part of me that wishes that it wasn't true, but there is no evidence to think otherwise. Flying priests is not going to change that.

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    1. William

      God is love. 1 Jn 4:8

      Delete
    2. William: "...but there is no evidence to think otherwise."

      What makes you say that?

      There [i]is[/i] evidence of spirituality. A lot of research is done in the near-death experience. There is a rapidly growing body of evidence showing a connection between mental and physical health and spirituality. There are documented eye-witness accounts of supernatural events which cannot be answered by any science discipline.

      There is no scientific explanation for consciousness. It's not understood.

      In the case of Christianity there is the evidence of eye-witnesses. Not just one guy who had a dream, but hundreds of witnesses who saw Jesus post-crucifixion. People who were so convinced that they were willing to suffer persecution and death for their witness testimony. First hand accounts are considered the most reliable, and the New Testament is largely just that; writings of people with first hand accounts. These testimonies are not single voices, rather they appealed to their audience to verify their accounts with other witnesses who were well known in the day.

      You can chalk this up to mass delusion if you like, but that's far less likely than that they were simply telling the truth.


      It's often said that science doesn't seek to "prove" anything. It looks to where the evidence points and bases assumptions on that. So consider the evidence:

      Scientific evidence for evolution of life breaks down under scrutiny. To believe the evidence points to evolution, one must first believe in evolution. I know this statement will be contested, but every "we don't know yet" is an acknowledgement of a breakdown. If you already believe in evolution this is an opportunity for new learning, if not it's a flaw validating an alternate worldview.

      Physical evidence for design/creation points to a creator who is unseen and not subject to scientific scrutiny. To believe in creation one must first be positioned to believe in a creator who cannot be scientifically studied.

      My point is simply this, worldviews are based on a priori knowledge, whether it's a naturalist or a theist worldview. Choosing a claim to base a worldview on CAN be done with the support of evidence. It can also be said that this type of evidence is highly influenced by our pre-existing biases. I call that the "acceptance factor".

      I recognize this isn't a Christian blog. However it does challenge the evidence used to drive people to a naturalist worldview. If you're totally committed to a worldview already then contrary evidence becomes far less challenging and complimentary evidence all the more convincing, which is the nature of having a committed worldview.

      Delete
    3. Ohandy: "First hand accounts are considered the most reliable, and the New Testament is largely just that; writings of people with first hand accounts."

      A lot of scholars (on both sides of the fence) don't think the gospels are eye witness accounts. In fact they say it's not really clear who wrote them (or even exactly when, other than at 20 years or more after the death of Jesus).

      They are more likely based on passed-down oral transmissions and not written by people who directly observed the events.

      There are a lot of different opinions out there, I think the truth is we just don't know.

      Delete
    4. ChrisW
      "A lot of scholars (on both sides of the fence) don't think the gospels are eye witness accounts. In fact they say it's not really clear who wrote them (or even exactly when, other than at 20 years or more after the death of Jesus). They are more likely based on passed-down oral transmissions and not written by people who directly observed the events."

      The problem though ChrisW is if what you say is true, then this particular text below is a lie and the entire account is rendered worthless.

      2 Timothy 3:16
      "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, . . . . "

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. Kevin: "The problem though ChrisW is if what you say is true, then this particular text below is a lie and the entire account is rendered worthless."

      It's really not what I am saying, rather that the scholarship points to the fact that the gospels are unlikely to be eyewitness accounts. Not everybody of course agrees with that, but I think it's fair to say the majority of serious NT scholars do.

      As to whether it invalidates scripture, not for me to say. Just because they are not eyewitness accounts, why can't the gospels still be inspired?

      Delete
    7. ChrisW: What we do know is that the Bible is the most well preserved ancient writing in the world. There are more manuscripts which corroborate each other than for any other writing of similar age.

      I'm thinking of (I Cor 15) where Paul, writing of the risen Christ, suggests to his readers that they go to the witnesses who are still alive.

      As for the gospels, Luke is especially interesting as it's an account written for a specific person. It starts by crediting other writings as from eye witnesses.

      Really, the point is regarding the nature of evidence. There is a place for a priori knowledge, specifically where empirical data simply cannot exist. We can infer that God exists or does not exist from the physical evidence around us but that will be influence by our personal biases and our experiences. Some would choose not to believe God if he tapped them on the shoulder... Belief is a choice.

      Delete
    8. ohandy1:"As for the gospels, Luke is especially interesting as it's an account written for a specific person. It starts by crediting other writings as from eye witnesses. "

      Yes, true it was written for Theopilus. But it isn't really clear that the account is based directly on eyewitness accounts...rather on accounts "handed on" from eyewitnesses:

      " Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word."

      Technically speaking this kind of "eyewitnesse testimony" that has been passed on would legally be called hearsay. We don't know either how many times it was passed on - earliest dating I could find for Luke was 59AD but some put it even later at around 70AD or more, so possibly the transmission occurred through more than one generation.

      Delete
    9. ChrisW,

      "the gospels are unlikely to be eyewitness accounts."

      How would you define an 'eyewitness account'?

      Delete
    10. Nic, I understand where Chris is coming from. Eyewitness accounts in the legal system have been demonstrated to be the most unreliable. I just have a hard time accepting that eyewitness accounts, from events hundreds of years ago, would be more reliable.

      Delete
    11. Nic "How would you define an 'eyewitness account'?"

      I think there's probably both a legal definition which I found as this:

      "Eyewitness testimony is the account a bystander gives in the courtroom, describing what that person observed that occurred during the specific incident under investigation"

      Perhaps slightly more simply - somebody who was present at an event and gave a description (reliably or otherwise) of the events that occurred.

      Delete
    12. That's why when I hear people claim the Bible is eyewitness testimony I can only shake my head. Stories in the Bible that are 3rd, 4th, 157th hand are nowhere near what any reasonable person considers eyewitness testimony. Or to put it another way, if the Bible is eyewitness testimony then almost every fiction novel every written that has human characters relating stories is "true" eyewitness testimony.

      Delete
    13. ChrisW,

      "Perhaps slightly more simply - somebody who was present at an event and gave a description (reliably or otherwise) of the events that occurred."

      So, would not a record of those events written by the one who witnessed them not also constitute an eyewitness account?

      Delete
    14. William,

      "Eyewitness accounts in the legal system have been demonstrated to be the most unreliable."

      On the contrary, an eyewitness account is still held to be the highest form of testimony in a court proceeding.

      Delete
    15. Nic

      So, would not a record of those events written by the one who witnessed them not also constitute an eyewitness account?


      No. At best it represents hearsay because there is no way to verify the accuracy of the written record. This is especially true when the story has been passed down and translated through different languages multiple times.

      On the contrary, an eyewitness account is still held to be the highest form of testimony in a court proceeding.

      No Nic, it's not. Eyewitness testimony is considered much less reliable than any physical evidence such as DNA or fingerprints. It's useful for swaying juries with emotional appeal but it's lousy when it comes to accurate reporting. You can easily research this if you are honestly looking for an answer.

      How reliable is eyewitness testimony? Science weighs in.

      Delete
    16. Read this Nic. Even the American Bar Association warns of the unreliability of eyewitness testimony.

      Is Eyewitness Testimony Inherently Unreliable?

      from the article:

      "This is consistent with statistics showing that more than three-quarters of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence relied on faulty eyewitness evidence.


      Even after hearing the statistics, we are reluctant to distrust a sincere eyewitness, but decades of research show that memory is neither precise nor fixed. For instance, we would expect a moment of high stress to focus the mind and sharpen recall, but the opposite is true. Violence, stress, and the presence of a weapon during an incident actually weaken memory. Racial differences between the witness and the suspect can impair identifications. Unconscious transference, or confusing someone seen in one place with someone seen in another place, is common. Identification can also be impaired by how long the witness is exposed to the suspect, the delay between the incident and the identification, and post-event information, such as feedback from the police or other witnesses."

      Delete
    17. Nic: "On the contrary, an eyewitness account is still held to be the highest form of testimony in a court proceeding."

      GR beat me to a reply and I was going to say something somewhat similar. Yes, true that in the current legal system, eyewitness testimony may have some precedent, but there is a strong push both in the legal and psychology communities to change this.

      But still I think the original point remains - it is doubtful that the NT gospels contain eyewitness accounts. Sure, Luke mentions eyewitness - they are mentioned in Acts too - but that's not the same as first-hand eyewitness accounts where the provenance can be reliably proven. Although evangelicals might like to claim that the authors of the synoptic gospels were the apostles themselves, this is probably based on tradition that formed much later on.

      Delete
    18. Nic: "So, would not a record of those events written by the one who witnessed them not also constitute an eyewitness account?"

      I agree with GR on this - these accounts would definitely qualify as hearsay by any definition. That's why I don't think the accounts in Acts of the 500 witnesses really counts as eyewitness testimony. We just have a third-hand report (from an author that we can't fully identify - perhaps it was Luke, Pauls' friend, perhaps not). We know very little about these 500 - and more to the point we don't have any direct testimony from them. It's really not much better than me saying I was in the park today and saw a UFO and there were twenty other people who saw them, but I can't tell you who they were or how to get in touch with them.

      Delete
    19. ghostrider,

      Nic: "So, would not a record of those events written by the one who witnessed them not also constitute an eyewitness account?"

      ghostrider: "No. At best it represents hearsay because there is no way to verify the accuracy of the written record. This is especially true when the story has been passed down and translated through different languages multiple times."

      Sorry, ghostrider, historians simply do not agree. Feel free to ask a few if you wish. Historical records are accepted as a faithful account of events unless there is compelling evidence to think otherwise. The possibility they may have been corrupted is not considered unless there is compelling evidence indicating corruption has occurred.

      With your approach, nothing could be known to be true regards the past. Historical research simply cannot function that way.

      "No Nic, it's not. Eyewitness testimony is considered much less reliable than any physical evidence such as DNA or fingerprints."

      Sorry again, ghostrider, it most certainly is. If you give it some thought you will be able to construct scenarios which will show eyewitness testimony should outweigh forensic evidence. And before you say I don't know what I'm talking about, I should tell you I have 3 lawyers in my immediate family and a few friends who are lawyers as well. This topic has been discussed.

      I'll read your links tomorrow, it's late here and I'm going to bed.

      Delete
    20. Nic, yes, historians extensively utilize documented witness accounts as one of their sources of evidence. But they will seldom give too much weight to a single witness without other corroborating evidence (or multiple witnesses). A person saying that 500 people saw a priest fly is not 500 eye witness accounts. For all we know, it could be the hallucinations of a man eating a bad tortilla.

      Sainthood is based on miracles witnessed by people and confirmed by the Pope. I think that you would agree that it is in the church's interest to present the church in a positive light. And sainthood is a great publicity tool.

      For example, Mother Teresa's sainthood is based on the witnessing of two miracles that have been confirmed by two Popes. The first miracle was for curing an Indian woman of abdominal cancer. The second miracle was for curing a Brazilian man of brain tumours. In both cases, they were receiving medical treatment. In these cases, the witness testimony is highly suspect as there is a much more likely explanation.

      There have been hundreds of eyewitness accounts of people being abducted by aliens and being probed. Do you seriously place much weight in these accounts?

      Delete
    21. Nic

      Historical records are accepted as a faithful account of events unless there is compelling evidence to think otherwise.


      No Nic, not when they come from a single source they're not. Some historical accounts may be accepted as accurate if there is sufficient corroborating evidence from other independent sources as well as physical evidence that also corroborates the events.

      In Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein it's reported that hundreds of villagers saw the monster as it fled. Does that count as eyewitness testimony Frankenstein's creation was real?

      With your approach, nothing could be known to be true regards the past. Historical research simply cannot function that way.

      So you think paleontologists and geologists can know nothing about the history of the planet and its extinct life because no one eyewitnesses it? Well hello Ken Ham!

      Just curious Nic - how do you think detectives solve criminal cases when there aren't any eyewitnesses?

      If you give it some thought you will be able to construct scenarios which will show eyewitness testimony should outweigh forensic evidence.

      I'm not talking about specific cases. I'm explaining to you in general eyewitness testimony is considered much less reliable than physical evidence, which it is.

      Delete
    22. ghostrider,

      "No Nic, not when they come from a single source they're not."

      Yes, ghostrider, they are. Corroborating evidence is always preferred, but if a single source is all that exists it is accepted at face value unless there is compelling reasons to reject it. It being a single source is not that compelling evidence.

      "Just curious Nic - how do you think detectives solve criminal cases when there aren't any eyewitnesses?"

      I think you may be misunderstanding my point. I am not saying forensic evidence is not valuable or important, or that it may not be able to conclusively prove a case. All I am saying is that eyewitness testimony can overrule what may, on the surface, seem like an impeachable case built on physical evidence.

      "I'm explaining to you in general eyewitness testimony is considered much less reliable than physical evidence, which it is."

      No, it is not. If physical evidence places an individual at a crime scene, while eyewitness testimony places him thousands of miles away at exactly the same time, the eyewitness testimony will win out. The physical evidence will obviously have another explanation.

      Delete
    23. The Smithsonian Institute has some useful definitions that historians use in categorizing sources:

      http://siarchives.si.edu/history/exhibits/stories/what-primary-source

      Here are some of the definitions:

      Primary source - a document or object that was created by an individual or group as part of their daily lives. Primary sources include birth certificates, photographs, diaries, letters, embroidered samplers, clothing, household implements, and newspapers.

      First person testimony - the account of a person who actually participated in an event. Examples are oral history interviews, diaries, letters, photographs and drawings of events, and court testimony of an eyewitness.

      Secondary source - summaries, second-hand accounts, and analyses of events created by someone who did not witness the event, but may have read or heard about it. Examples may include: books or articles written on a topic, artworks depicting an event, letters or diaries recounting a version of events told to the author by another source.

      Second person or hearsay testimony - an account repeated by someone who did not actually participate in the event. Examples are newspaper accounts from interviews of observers, letters that repeat a story told to the writer, drawings based on other people’s observations, or a book written about a topic.

      Delete
    24. Nic: "All I am saying is that eyewitness testimony can overrule what may, on the surface, seem like an [un]impeachable case built on physical evidence."

      If a person's fingerprint on a gun is the only evidence, then a single witness placing him elsewhere at the time of the killing will probably be enough to raise probable doubt. But if the evidence included powder residue on his hands, blood splatter on his clothes and his DNA under the victims fingernails, then a single eyewitness will not be believed. It is even doubtful if a number of witnesses would be enough.

      However, there have been a large number of people jailed based largely on witness testimony only to have it overturned when physical evidence arises.

      As mentioned, the 500 witnesses to a priest flying is not 500 witness accounts. At most, it is one.

      Delete
    25. It's interesting to think about the Smithsonian classifications in terms of applying them to the gospels.

      I think actually they would qualify as both primary and secondary.

      I think they are primary sources in they are important documents in the history and formation of the Christian church.

      But as sources that document the life of a person called Jesus, they are probably secondary sources - since they are not written as eyewitness accounts and are really second-hand accounts (and there's good reason to think Matthew/Luke borrowed from Mark, and everybody may have used "Q" as a source).

      And again the Pauline letters would be both primary source and first person testimony, but of course they don't inform us much about the day to day life of Jesus.

      What do others think?

      Delete
    26. William,

      "But if the evidence included powder residue on his hands, blood splatter on his clothes and his DNA under the victims fingernails, then a single eyewitness will not be believed. It is even doubtful if a number of witnesses would be enough."

      Sorry, it simply would not fly. Powder residue could be the result of firing a gun at a different location. DNA under the fingernails could be there from an encounter with the victim before the murder, as could the blood spatter. DNA would provide evidence of an encounter between the two in the recent past, it would not provide conclusive evidence Chuck killed Joe if eyewitnesses put Joe elsewhere at the time of the murder.

      In order to overrule the eyewitness testimony it would require the impeachment of the witnesses. In other words, you would have to conclusively demonstrate the witness is lying. This would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not simply an assertion the witness is lying.

      "However, there have been a large number of people jailed based largely on witness testimony only to have it overturned when physical evidence arises."

      And vice versa.

      "the 500 witnesses to a priest flying is not 500 witness accounts. At most, it is one."

      It would be 500 accounts if each of the 500 recorded it. If only one or two record it then it is obviously only one or two eyewitness accounts. However, the claim they made of other witnesses is important in that it points to the fact that they were not the sole observers of the event and leads the investigator to further evidence if those others remain alive. In the case of a historical document it lends credence to the event in that the recorder of the event provides evidence that others were present as well. To reject that part of the evidence you would again have to demonstrate the writer was lying. That would be very difficult to do. Simply saying there were no other witnesses would not be sufficient. You would be required to accept the account as written.

      Delete
    27. Nic

      but if a single source is all that exists it is accepted at face value unless there is compelling reasons to reject it


      So Mary Shelley's Frankenstein should be accepted at face value as a true story. Frankenstein Castle is a real place, Victor Frankenstein was based a real person who lived at the castle in the early 1700's.

      Did you read any of the links I gave you including the one from the ABA?

      "Some 75% of the wrongful convictions for rape and murder, including a number that led to people being scheduled for execution, were based on eyewitness testimony."

      Eyewitness testimony is the very last, least reliable method used in prosecuting criminal cases.

      Delete
    28. Nic

      In order to overrule the eyewitness testimony it would require the impeachment of the witnesses


      Nic an unverified story claiming 500 people witnessed an unverified event isn't eyewitness testimony.

      There's another famous story that claims thousands of people saw a giant ape climb to the top of the Empire State Building. Does that count as thousands of unimpeached eyewitness accounts?

      Delete
    29. ghostrider,

      "Nic an unverified story claiming 500 people witnessed an unverified event isn't eyewitness testimony."

      Yes, it is, ghostrider. The writer is claiming to have witnessed the event and is claiming he did so with 500 other people. In order to reject that claim you would have to provide sufficient evidence to impeach the credibility of the writer and the credibility of the claims. Simply claiming it is unverified is not sufficient.

      "There's another famous story that claims thousands of people saw a giant ape climb to the top of the Empire State Building. Does that count as thousands of unimpeached eyewitness accounts?"

      That's a movie, ghostrider, not history on film. How about you round up the witnesses, let's say from Peter Jackson's version, and let's see if they actually claimed to see a giant ape? I would be willing to bet you could impeach their testimony with the fact they were paid by Jackson to make that claim. Which would then support my claim that if the eyewitnesses testimony can be impeached it will be rejected.

      Delete
    30. That's a movie, ghostrider, not history on film

      Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a book. Are the hundreds of villagers who saw the monster eyewitnesses who show the tale is true until you impeach them? Think Nic. I know you can.

      Delete
    31. ghostrider,

      "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a book. Are the hundreds of villagers who saw the monster eyewitnesses who show the tale is true until you impeach them? Think Nic. I know you can."

      Does Mary Shelley's book claim to be a historical account? Did Mary Shelley actually claim these events happened? Does anyone claim Shelley's book is a historical account?

      I think you know the answer to those questions.

      The novel of Frankenstein is not in any way shape or form comparable to Caesar's Gallic Wars and you know that very well.

      Delete
    32. Nic

      Does anyone claim Shelley's book is a historical account?


      I'm sure there are some out there who think it is a factual account. How do you show the eyewitness testimony described in the book is wrong?

      Delete
    33. Nic: "The writer is claiming to have witnessed the event and is claiming he did so with 500 other people. "

      I'm assuming we are talking about 1 Cor 15:6. In that case the writer (Paul) was not present, using Smithsonian's categories this is probably best described as hearsay testimony.

      Delete
    34. Nic: "Sorry, it simply would not fly. Powder residue could be the result of firing a gun at a different location. DNA under the fingernails..."

      Convictions are not obtained as the result of conclusive proof. They only have to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. I assure you that the list I provided would result in a conviction if there was only a single eye witness.

      "In order to overrule the eyewitness testimony it would require the impeachment of the witnesses. In other words, you would have to conclusively demonstrate the witness is lying."

      That is not true. Most eye witnesses are being honest in that they believe what they saw. But the literature is full of examples of mis-perception and false memories. These do not involve lying.

      "It would be 500 accounts if each of the 500 recorded it."

      Which they didn't.

      "In the case of a historical document it lends credence to the event in that the recorder of the event provides evidence that others were present as well."

      No, the recorder claims that others were present. Without something to corroborate this, it is just assertion. If I claimed that myself and 499 people with me saw a giant interdimensional space turd fly over the Vatican, does that carry any more weight than if I said that I was the only one who saw it? No.

      Delete
    35. ghostrider,

      "I'm sure there are some out there who think it is a factual account."

      Find me a competent historian who thinks that way and then we will talk. Until then this is palpable nonsense and you know it.

      Delete
    36. ChrisW,

      "I'm assuming we are talking about 1 Cor 15:6. In that case the writer (Paul) was not present, using Smithsonian's categories this is probably best described as hearsay testimony."

      You would have to ask whoever brought up the 500. It wasn't me, however.

      As for the reference to 1 Corinthians 15:6, hearsay testimony is not always to be rejected as unreliable. The implication of Paul's comments are that he has talked with some of those witnesses. Therefore, in order to impeach his testimony you must prove Paul was lying about what he was told, or that those who shared their stories were lying. In either case you cannot reject the testimony simply because you do not wish to believe it to be true.

      Delete
    37. Nic

      hearsay testimony is not always to be rejected as unreliable.


      In both court cases and history it is unless there is sufficiently strong additional corroborating evidence.

      In either case you cannot reject the testimony simply because you do not wish to believe it to be true.

      No one has to accept the hearsay either just because you do wish to believe it to be true. The default condition is "reject until verified", not "accept until shown false."

      Delete
    38. William,

      "I assure you that the list I provided would result in a conviction if there was only a single eye witness."

      And I assure you that is not true. If the eyewitness testimony was not able to be impeached the jury would be bound to acquit. If they did convict, the judge would then be obliged to set aside the conviction.

      "That is not true. Most eye witnesses are being honest in that they believe what they saw. But the literature is full of examples of mis-perception and false memories. These do not involve lying."

      Yes, that is true. If you wished to make an argument for mis-perception or false memories the onus on you would be the same, you would have to conclusively prove that to be the case. You can not simply assert it to be the case.

      "No, the recorder claims that others were present. Without something to corroborate this, it is just assertion."

      Wrong again. You would have to take the writers words as true unless you can conclusively prove he was lying about the presence of other witnesses. You were not there, and as such you cannot simply dismiss his testimony because you wish to do so.

      "If I claimed that myself and 499 people with me saw a giant interdimensional space turd fly over the Vatican, does that carry any more weight than if I said that I was the only one who saw it? No."

      Please, William, come up with an example which is plausible and not full of nonsense.

      As for you claiming others were with you and witnessed the event simultaneously enhancing your claim, certainly it does. It is a claim to the fact others saw it and can support your claim. This is exactly what Paul is doing in 1 Cor 15. He is saying he has talked to these people and if you wish to talk to them yourself many are still alive, go and do so.

      Delete
    39. Nic

      You would have to take the writers words as true unless you can conclusively prove he was lying about the presence of other witnesses.


      No Nic, no one has to accept a written account from a single author unless there is corroborating evidence. If what you said was true every criminal could establish innocence simply by claiming he was with 500 other people on the other coast who all saw him when the crime was committed.

      Merely being written down =/= must be true.

      You just don't get this hearsay thing at all, do you?

      Delete
    40. ghostrider,

      "No one has to accept the hearsay either just because you do wish to believe it to be true."

      That is absolutely correct.

      "The default condition is "reject until verified", not "accept until shown false."

      Not when it comes to court or to history. That rule applies only to those who wish to follow it, like yourself.

      Delete
    41. ghostrider,

      "No Nic, no one has to accept a written account from a single author unless there is corroborating evidence."

      What you fail to understand is that one does not need to accept something from a single author, as true even with corroborating evidence.

      Tell me, what do you know about wills? Are they accepted as true without corroborating evidence?

      "If what you said was true every criminal could establish innocence simply by claiming he was with 500 other people on the other coast who all saw him when the crime was committed."

      How you managed to get that out of what I said is beyond me, but cest' la vie.

      "Merely being written down =/= must be true."

      And where did I say that?

      "You just don't get this hearsay thing at all, do you?"

      I get it very well. Obviously better than you as I understand it is not as cut and dried as you would seem to assume and would indeed like it to be.

      Delete
    42. Nic: "And I assure you that is not true. If the eyewitness testimony was not able to be impeached the jury would be bound to acquit."

      True. And a preponderance of evidence that runs counter to the witness qualifies as impeachment. At no point does the witness have to be proven a liar.

      "If you wished to make an argument for mis-perception or false memories the onus on you would be the same, you would have to conclusively prove that to be the case."

      No. I would simply have to convince a jury that the preponderance of evidence calls into question the veracity or validity of the witness. And do so beyond a reasonable doubt.

      "Wrong again. You would have to take the writers words as true unless you can conclusively prove he was lying about the presence of other witnesses."

      Why would I have to take the writers (or witness's) word for it? I would be extremely sceptical if a witness claims that 500 other people saw the same thing when none of them have come forward or otherwise documented their observation.

      "Please, William, come up with an example which is plausible and not full of nonsense."

      My example is every bit as plausible as one person claiming, through a third party, that 500 people saw a priest fly. Why should the flying priest be more plausible? Because it was written in scripture?

      Delete
    43. Nic: "As for the reference to 1 Corinthians 15:6, hearsay testimony is not always to be rejected as unreliable. The implication of Paul's comments are that he has talked with some of those witnesses. Therefore, in order to impeach his testimony you must prove Paul was lying about what he was told, or that those who shared their stories were lying. In either case you cannot reject the testimony simply because you do not wish to believe it to be true."

      I don't think it's as black or white as Paul was either lying or he wasn't. Given how stories get transmitted and transmuted, it's possible that the story got altered, expanded and exaggerated other time. I just remember all the stories that were flying around even just hours after 9/11. Humans are very good at confabulating and there is much research on this topic and it isn't always simply because people are lying.

      But yes, it's possible Paul may personally have known some of the 500. We simply do not know, and neither do we know the names of these people.

      Given that there is no other corroborating evidence that the 500 saw what they did, I think I would still classify this as an interesting piece of hearsay which ultimately can't be properly verified. I think a lot of evangelicals like to cite this as a "proof" text but using the legal standard of eyewitness testimony (and the Smithsonian categories above), it really comes short and I don't I'm being "hyperskeptical" in calling it out as such.

      But I can see that for those who are already believers due to other reasons it's natural they would take a less skeptical stance.

      Delete
    44. William,

      "True. And a preponderance of evidence that runs counter to the witness qualifies as impeachment. At no point does the witness have to be proven a liar."

      No, the preponderance of physical evidence does not impeach the witness for the very reasons I stated earlier. And, yes, the witness must be shown to be lying or in some way unreliable.

      "I would simply have to convince a jury that the preponderance of evidence calls into question the veracity or validity of the witness. And do so beyond a reasonable doubt."

      And what would constitute reasonable doubt in the witnesses veracity? It cannot be simply the preponderance of physical evidence as that can be explained in other ways, as already stated. You must provide evidence against the veracity of the witness, not simply try to overwhelm his testimony with circumstantial evidence.

      "Why would I have to take the writers (or witness's) word for it?"

      You, personally, would not be required to do so. But we are not talking about an individual's preference, we are discussing what is standard practice in historical research. There is a difference. An individual acting as a professional historian cannot, or at least should not, apply his personal beliefs to his research.

      "saw a priest fly."

      I'm not sure what you're referring to.

      Delete
    45. ChrisW,

      "But yes, it's possible Paul may personally have known some of the 500. We simply do not know, and neither do we know the names of these people."

      As we simply do not know we are bound, historically speaking, to accept what he says. His commentary implies he knows names and has spoken to some of them. He also does mention others by name. He mentions Cephas and the twelve; whose names are known; and to James.

      "I just remember all the stories that were flying around even just hours after 9/11."

      And the stories which were true were eventually separated from those which were not true. Nutty conspiracy theories notwithstanding we have an extremely accurate picture of what occurred and 200 years from now we will still have an extremely accurate picture.

      "the Smithsonian categories,..."

      "Second person or hearsay testimony - an account repeated by someone who did not actually participate in the event. Examples are newspaper accounts from interviews of observers, letters that repeat a story told to the writer, drawings based on other people’s observations, or a book written about a topic."

      I hope you noticed it does not say such testimony should be rejected out of hand or be considered as highly inferior and untrustworthy.

      Delete
    46. Nic: "It cannot be simply the preponderance of physical evidence as that can be explained in other ways, as already stated."

      Not all physical evidence is circumstantial. What if a surveillance camera caught him walking into the victims building just before the murder? What if his credit card was used at a time that is incompatible with the witness account? What if his cell phone use was incompatible with the witness account? What if he was caught by photo-radar at a time and location incompatible with the witness account?

      All of this is physical evidence (no other witnesses involved).

      What if another witness says that he saw the witness in a different city than the witness account? Do you have to accept the new witness's account? What if the new witness is related to the accused?

      Physical evidence is routinely used to impeach a witness account.

      Delete


    47. "Not all physical evidence is circumstantial. What if a surveillance camera caught him walking into the victims building just before the murder? What if his credit card was used at a time that is incompatible with the witness account? What if his cell phone use was incompatible with the witness account? What if he was caught by photo-radar at a time and location incompatible with the witness account?"

      What are you doing here, William?

      "Physical evidence is routinely used to impeach a witness account."

      Think it through, my friend.

      Delete
    48. Nic: "And the stories which were true were eventually separated from those which were not true. Nutty conspiracy theories notwithstanding we have an extremely accurate picture of what occurred and 200 years from now we will still have an extremely accurate picture."

      Yes, true, but in the modern era it's a little easier to sift out data with modern communication methods, than 2000 year old papyri where data has been copied hundreds of times, lost or even forged.

      Nic: "I hope you noticed it does not say such testimony should be rejected out of hand or be considered as highly inferior and untrustworthy."

      I agree, hearsay and secondary sources certainly should not be discounted. I guess where I have concern is where the data is nothing but secondary sources and we don't have good (or any) primary sources, then there is reason to be more cautious. Best I can tell historians use secondary sources to bolster and support their findings from primary sources. But what to do when there really aren't good primary sources in the first place and everything is classified as secondary?

      Delete
    49. ghostrider,

      "Did you read any of the links I gave you including the one from the ABA?"

      Yes, I did. I'm curious though how you think they help your argument? Both simply advocate for ways to improve the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Neither are arguing it is without merit or importance.

      Delete
    50. ChrisW,

      "Yes, true, but in the modern era it's a little easier to sift out data with modern communication methods, than 2000 year old papyri where data has been copied hundreds of times, lost or even forged."

      The principles remain the same, however. If you want to claim they were forged the onus is on you to provide solid evidence, not just your opinion. And as people have been trying to do that very thing for well over a 1,000 years what makes you think you will suddenly be successful?

      "But what to do when there really aren't good primary sources in the first place and everything is classified as secondary?"

      I know what you're trying to demonstrate and I can show you where your problems lay. Unfortunately this is not a suitable forum for such an exchange, so I will suggest you refer to the work of Biblical scholars such as John Warwick Montgomery, J.P. Moreland. F.F. Bruce and others. If you are really sincere about understanding this question you must study it in a serious way. This is not the place to accomplish that.

      Delete
    51. Nic: "Neither are arguing it is without merit or importance."

      Nobody is arguing that witness testimony is without merit. Just that it should be viewed with extreme caution.

      My first girlfriend thought that I was a stunning example of male-hood. I weighed 128 pounds. I am pretty sure that she had a bias. Why are you so sure that others don't have a similar bias?

      Delete
    52. "The principles remain the same, however. If you want to claim they were forged the onus is on you to provide solid evidence, not just your opinion. And as people have been trying to do that very thing for well over a 1,000 years what makes you think you will suddenly be successful?"

      I'm not suggesting that the NT is forged, I suspect not. Really I'm just suggesting in response to ohandy1 way back up top, where he said the NT largely contains eyewitness testimony that this is really not accurate (especially for the gospels, perhaps less so for books like Acts). The end of the day we can say with some confidence that the gospels were written by unknown authors, many years after the events, and are second-hand accounts probably based on other sources now lost. Sure evangelical scholars may differ, but there is a wide body of scholars who support this position. Like it or not I think this is a fairly empirical position.

      "I know what you're trying to demonstrate and I can show you where your problems lay. "

      Again, just trying to point out that the gospels are not eyewitness accounts and that it is a reasonable approach to adopt the NT with skepticism. Not sure really that is a "problem" to be fixed here, except for you I guess given your own personal beliefs.

      Sure I can look to the work of the scholars and have read many on both sides of the fence. Would you in turn look at the work of Bart Ehrman - a very respected scholar? In fact he's come out with a very interesting new book that looks at the NT in light of modern research based on memory, supposed to be quite interesting ("Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior").

      But since we are way of tangent from the original OP probably time to call this thread quits, but it was a fun discussion!

      Delete
    53. ChrisW,

      "Not sure really that is a "problem" to be fixed here, except for you I guess given your own personal beliefs."

      And by this you mean...?

      "Would you in turn look at the work of Bart Ehrman - a very respected scholar?"

      I have. He is a respected scholar, but not even close to being in the league of those I mentioned.

      Delete
    54. William,

      "Why are you so sure that others don't have a similar bias?"

      I used to be 128 pounds, but I was 12 years old at the time.

      I never said they didn't have a bias. However, it is up to you to demonstrate that bias was to the point that their testimony is unreliable.

      You know it's rather telling that this type of scepticism is never applied to the life of Julius Caesar for which the documentary evidence does not even come close to approaching that for Christ.

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    55. Nic: "You know it's rather telling that this type of scepticism is never applied to the life of Julius Caesar for which the documentary evidence does not even come close to approaching that for Christ."

      This is true, but then people are not making claims that Julius Caesar is offering eternal life.

      I've read that some historians actually say you can't know anything reliably from 2000 years ago. I can see that - given how humans are so good at making s*#$ up and how facts and stories can so easily be distorted (often for personal gain or promoting egos), I think that's probably right. From what we know now of human psychology, the unfortunate reality is that people are often just plain wrong about a lot of things (e.g., just look at the sheer number of religions, cults, denominations that abound even today - each group convinced that they, and only they, possess the ultimate truths of life). We seem hellbent as a species to be gullible and easily fooled. So being skeptical of 2000 old documents is probably in order.

      But in the case of Julius Caesar, some would say there is good evidence. For a start we have his own writings (so first account testimony rather than second). And contemporaneous writings about him from others (e.g., Cicero). Plus a large number of physical artifacts - coins, sculptures, inscriptions etc. It's true though that some of the manuscripts are copies of copies etc (just like the NT) and I think I read that some of the works aren't older than 900 AD. So maybe we should be skeptical about both JCs!

      Delete
    56. ChrisW,

      "I've read that some historians actually say you can't know anything reliably from 2000 years ago."

      That is palpable nonsense.

      "I can see that - given how humans are so good at making s*#$ up and how facts and stories can so easily be distorted (often for personal gain or promoting egos), I think that's probably right."

      Then you must demonstrate that is what happened. You can't just say 'people make up crap so I'm not going to believe anything.' To do so is simply asinine.

      "We seem hellbent as a species to be gullible and easily fooled."

      You may think so, I don't.

      "So being skeptical of 2000 old documents is probably in order."

      So where do you draw the line? If you're saying we should be skeptical of 2,000 year old documents what about 1,000 year old documents? If we are to be skeptical about 1,000 year old documents what about
      500 years or even 250 years? Why should we believe something written even 100 years ago?

      Delete
    57. Nic, as is said by historians, history is written by the victors. And this involves extensive bias in the perspectives involved.

      For example, in 1812 the United States invaded Canada. At the end of the day none of the borders changed. Yet, US history books play this as a victory for the US. Canadian history books play it as a victory for Canada. These contradictory conclusions are based on the exact same evidence.

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    58. William,

      "Nic, as is said by historians, history is written by the victors. And this involves extensive bias in the perspectives involved."

      It is often said history is written by the victors and every time it is said it's nonsense. As per your example both sides are claiming to be the victors, so somebody must be lying and you and I know who that would be, right? :)

      That being said I am not sure if I am understanding your point here. The early Christians would hardly be seen as the victors in this scenario, so that can't be your objection. They had nothing but grief to gain by writing the documents, so financial or social gain cannot be the reason. So, like I said, what exactly are you trying to say here?

      Delete
    59. "Then you must demonstrate that is what happened. You can't just say 'people make up crap so I'm not going to believe anything"

      I think you just need to understand human psychology to see how easily people are fooled and manipulated. There have been literally thousands of studies that demonstrate that we are far from rational cognitive beings. I don't think I need to provide examples...you can just watch the news? (especially the US presidential race).

      I'm glad you have more faith in human's cognitive abilities but sadly I don't share your optimism.

      "So where do you draw the line? If you're saying we should be skeptical of 2,000 year old documents what about 1,000 year old documents? If we are to be skeptical about 1,000 year old documents what about
      500 years or even 250 years? Why should we believe something written even 100 years ago?"

      I am not sure it has much to do with age but more with the quality of the claims (again, do we have good primary sources, or just hearsay). For example, I'm skeptical of claims by Joseph Smith that he had an encounter with the angel Moroni, even though that is a relatively recent event. I'm guessing you may be skeptical of that story too - I expect you've heard of the "outsider test" that John Loftus talks about. We find it easy to be skeptical of another person's belief system but our cognitive biases make it extremely hard to use that same skeptical approach to our own ingrained beliefs.

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    60. Nic: "So, like I said, what exactly are you trying to say here?"

      My point is simply that documented records are not unbiased accounts of events. Just as eyewitness accounts are not unbiased. And when I say bias, I am not talking about outright misrepresentation and fabrication, although I am sure that also plays a part.

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    61. ChrisW,

      "I think you just need to understand human psychology to see how easily people are fooled and manipulated."

      I do very well, I minored in psychology in university.

      "There have been literally thousands of studies that demonstrate that we are far from rational cognitive beings."

      And there have been just as many which conclude the opposite. You can make research data say whatever you wish to make it say. You can also collect in a manner which virtually guarantees the results you want. As such you do not have much of an argument here. Also, you would need again to prove this was the case, not simply wave your hands and assert it's a fact.

      "I am not sure it has much to do with age but more with the quality of the claims (again, do we have good primary sources, or just hearsay)."

      Again, you are required to show fault, not simply assume and assert it.

      "For example, I'm skeptical of claims by Joseph Smith that he had an encounter with the angel Moroni, even though that is a relatively recent event. I'm guessing you may be skeptical of that story too -,..."

      As there are at least three versions of the event given by Smith, I would have to say I am extremely skeptical. Couple that with the fact Smith was a well known and convicted con artist, I would argue that one can easily impeach the source in this case.

      "I expect you've heard of the "outsider test" that John Loftus talks about. We find it easy to be skeptical of another person's belief system but our cognitive biases make it extremely hard to use that same skeptical approach to our own ingrained beliefs."

      What do you do when one has gone from one set of beliefs to another? If one was ingrained in atheism, how would you explain his conversion to Christianity? Would he not have to question his ingrained biases toward atheism?

      A lot of these types of arguments sound good at first hearing, but simply do not stand up when logic is applied to them.

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    62. William,

      "My point is simply that documented records are not unbiased accounts of events. Just as eyewitness accounts are not unbiased. And when I say bias, I am not talking about outright misrepresentation and fabrication, although I am sure that also plays a part."

      Okay, but would you not have to apply skepticism to the counter arguments as well, for the same reasons? Why would we assume bias in the documents, but not in the criticism of those documents? You simply cannot have your cake and eat it too.

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    63. Nic: "As there are at least three versions of the event given by Smith"

      And how many Gospel accounts are there, especially if you count the non-canonical ones? How do you know for sure the authors weren't also con men? At least with Joseph Smith we know in fact who the authors are. And at least the accounts are first person testimony and not second-hand hearsay.

      Why aren't you able to apply the same level of skepticism you have to Mormonism to your own belief system?

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    64. ChrisW,

      "And how many Gospel accounts are there, especially if you count the non-canonical ones?"

      There are four Gospels.

      I know where you're trying to go and it won't work.

      "At least with Joseph Smith we know in fact who the authors are."

      Do we? How much Mormon history do you know?

      "Why aren't you able to apply the same level of skepticism you have to Mormonism to your own belief system?"

      Because I know more about Mormonism than 90% of Mormons. I know where the problems lay and how and why it cannot stand up to scrutiny in the way Christianity can.

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      Delete
    66. Nic: "There are four Gospels."

      Well yes, four that are now traditionally in used. But dozens of others were written and rejected by the selection committee (although the process there is a bit murky too and again given human nature I'm sure there wasn't just a little bit of politics involved). But no doubt Nic you'll correct me that no the history is all perfectly straightforward and of course everybody had perfectly good and honest motivations. Sure.

      "Because I know more about Mormonism than 90% of Mormons. I know where the problems lay and how and why it cannot stand up to scrutiny in the way Christianity can."

      To you that's true, but not to an "outsider" like me. Yes, the issues with Mormonism and Christianity are different (different time, different places), but equally problematic (although again from an outsider perspective both are equally strange).

      Of course Christianity has the weight of two thousand years of tradition and institutionalized and culturized support behind it too. I often wonder if the NT had been discovered just 10 years ago what our perspective would be on the validity and soundness of these documents, but I think (at least in the West) it so embedded in our culture it's hard to look at these things in a truly unfiltered way.

      And unfortunately confirmation bias is a very real thing (I'm sure I'm guilty of it too) and even harder for us as individuals to detect that it's happening.

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    67. ChrisW: "Of course Christianity has the weight of two thousand years of tradition and institutionalized and culturized support behind it too."

      And after 2000 years you would think that they would finally come to a consensus on how to interpret the scriptures, but that is far from the case.

      I often wonder, if God wanted his message to get out, and assuming that the bible is the inspired word of God (or the literal word of God: depends on the denomination), why did it make it so difficult to understand?

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    68. ChrisW,

      "But dozens of others were written and rejected by the selection committee,..."

      You guys are so predictable.

      Okay, what you are talking about are known as the Gnostic Gospels; also known as the Nag Hammadi texts. Discovered in Egypt in 1945 they are a series of codices such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip, the Apocalypse of Paul, etc. They date from approximately 350 AD and are nothing more than old world gnosticism hiding behind a Christian guise. These documents were rejected from the outset by the Christian church due to the blatant gnostic nature of their content. They were nothing more than gnostics trying to cash in on the growing Christian church.

      "To you that's true, but not to an "outsider" like me."

      It's also true to several Mormon missionaries and several Mormon friends and aquaintances.

      "but equally problematic,..."

      In what way?

      "I often wonder if the NT had been discovered just 10 years ago what our perspective would be on the validity and soundness of these documents, but I think (at least in the West) it so embedded in our culture it's hard to look at these things in a truly unfiltered way."

      Have you ever asked yourself how Christianity has managed to survive for this long despite the concerted efforts to destroy it from the time of its very foundations?

      "And unfortunately confirmation bias is a very real thing,..."

      But again, you need to explain how atheists, Hindus, etc. become Christians if confirmation bias is as a big a hurdle as you present it to be.

      Delete
    69. Nic, I am sure that you are aware that thousands of Christians have also become Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Budhist, etc. How do you explain that?

      Delete
    70. "Okay, what you are talking about are known as the Gnostic Gospels"

      I'm not sure all of them are categorized as Gnostic - isn't that just Mary, Thomas, Phillip etc. There are also others like the Gospel of Peter which aren't Gnostic. Not sure. Besides a lot of these are much earlier than 350AD - Gospel of Peter possibly around 150, many others early 2nd century. Perhaps you are thinking of Thomas which currently dates back to 350AD?

      "Have you ever asked yourself how Christianity has managed to survive for this long despite the concerted efforts to destroy it from the time of its very foundations?"

      True, but we could say that of any religion, right? How has Islam survived for so long? Or Buddhism? Perhaps the bigger question is why is there such a propensity for humans to believe in external agencies, even when it's clear (at least to outsiders) there aren't any good rational reasons to believe? We see that even now with new religions periodically popping up (e.g., Scientology, Raelism).

      "But again, you need to explain how atheists, Hindus, etc. become Christians if confirmation bias is as a big a hurdle as you present it to be."

      Yes, confirmation bias is a big hurdle but not an impossible one to jump over. I've done it myself although it was extraordinarily difficult. And the need afterwards for something to believe in was still very strong...so I can see how people swap one set of confirmation biases for another.

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    71. ChrisW,

      "I'm not sure all of them are categorized as Gnostic,..."

      No, not all, but all were excluded from the Canon due to doubts regards their inspiration. Not all writings were considered to be the inspired word of God, even if believed to have been written by an Apostle.

      "True, but we could say that of any religion, right?"

      Not really. Islam has never faced the severity of persecution as has Christianity. In fact, Islam was and still is, a major source of Christian persecution. And please, do not go to the Crusades as an example of Christian persecution of Islam. That was simply not the case.

      "why is there such a propensity for humans to believe in external agencies, even when it's clear (at least to outsiders) there aren't any good rational reasons to believe?"

      On what do you base your claim there are not any good rational reasons to believe? Tens of millions of rational people throughout history would indicate otherwise. Was Augustine not rational? Was Tomas Aquinas not rational? How about Sir Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler, Galileo, etc., etc. Surely you can not argue these men were all irrational. Even Einstein, though not a Christian, recognized the fact that a superior being was the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

      No, the argument faith based religious ideas are irrational is a complete non-starter.

      "We see that even now with new religions periodically popping up (e.g., Scientology, Raelism)."

      How is that an argument against any other religious system. That various religious systems exist does not lend credence to the argument that they are therefore all wrong.

      "so I can see how people swap one set of confirmation biases for another."

      Why does it have to be one set of biases for another? Can one not come to the conclusion he has arrived at the truth? Why does it always have to be tainted as biased thinking?

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    72. Nic: "No, the argument faith based religious ideas are irrational is a complete non-starter."

      Why? Because Nic says so?

      Empirical observation - there are many, many religions in the world. Most of these have beliefs that are mutually exclusive. Therefore, by definition a large number of people in the world (probably in the billions) at any given time are completely mistaken about the real nature of the Universe.

      Why not ask the question, why? Is there some fundamental psychological process that causes people to belief. It's perfectly valid (and there are actually well-reasoned hypotheses on the topics). Sure, it may undermine the specialness of Christianity in your worldview, but I think it's a perfectly reasonable question - and one I will continue to ponder.

      "No, the argument faith based religious ideas are irrational is a complete non-starter."

      Or maybe we come to a conclusion that the search for "truth" is probably illusory and not achievable?

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    73. William,

      "Nic, I am sure that you are aware that thousands of Christians have also become Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Budhist, etc. How do you explain that?"

      I am aware of that and there really is no need for me to explain that. People simply make their own choices. In fact it only reinforces my argument that confirmation bias is not as big an issue as some like to think.

      Delete
    74. ChrisW,

      "Why? Because Nic says so?"

      No, because you cannot even remotely begin to demonstrate that those who hold to a faith position do so only because they are irrational. That is absolute nonsense. Would you accept it if I said you were not a person of faith because you're irrational?

      "there are many, many religions in the world. Most of these have beliefs that are mutually exclusive. Therefore, by definition a large number of people in the world (probably in the billions) at any given time are completely mistaken about the real nature of the Universe."

      Do you even know the meaning of irrational?

      "Why not ask the question, why?"'

      Over the course of history billions have asked that question and billions have determined Christianity supplies the answers.

      "Is there some fundamental psychological process that causes people to belief."

      You need to read more, really. Of course there is a process which causes people to believe. It's called God and Augustine spoke of it 1,800 years ago when he wrote, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." God himself calls people to belief.

      "Sure, it may undermine the specialness of Christianity in your worldview,..."

      Not in the slightest. You're not able to provide an argument I have not already heard at least a hundred times before.

      "Or maybe we come to a conclusion that the search for "truth" is probably illusory and not achievable?"

      That in itself would be a truth claim and, therefore, would be a self defeating argument.

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    78. Nic:"Would you accept it if I said you were not a person of faith because you're irrational?"

      Totally disagree. I didn't say it is necessarily "irrational" but seems to be a natural instinct that many have. That people have this instinct is not a proof that God exists. I think the study of why people have religious views is perfectly a valid proposition and one that many have taken up.

      "God himself calls people to belief."

      Which God though, which religion? At some point in the next hundred years it's quite possible Muslims will outnumber Christians? Are they listening to the wrong God? Or is God reaching out them to but in a different manner? Or are they Muslims just because of where they grew up?

      "Not in the slightest. You're not able to provide an argument I have not already heard at least a hundred times before. "

      Sure, you are heavily invested in your faith and I understand how difficult how it is to even contemplate giving up that faith which I'm sure imbues your life. Yes, you've heard these arguments before and you are very good at coming up with nice tidy answers for them. But for many people these answers really aren't that satisfactory because there are at least for people like myself fundamental issues with the origins of the faith that can't easily be swept under the carpet (I tried to pretend they didn't matter for 15 years...but they really do...)

      But going back to the original point from ohandy1 about eyewitnesses, I think we can say this much:

      * The gospels are not eyewitness testimonies (a point you haven't really disputed). Some would say at best they are second person testimony, some would say it's "hearsay".
      * From a historical analysis perspective we have no primary sources such as first person accounts or physical artifacts that point to the person of Jesus.
      * Best scholarship points to the fact that material in some of the gospels is copied from another (Matt and Luke copied from Mark) and probably other sources such as "Q" that have been lost
      * The authors of the gospels remain unknown (or at least there is a good deal of uncertainty about their identity). clearly though the authors are not the apostles as tradition has it.
      * The dates of authorship are unclear but not before at least 20 years (possibly 30-40 years or more) after the events (which raises other concerns too about how the accounts were passed on, but we don't have any info on that either).
      * There are no contemporaneous accounts of the events (cf Julius Caesar) - this one doesn't concern me as much because I'm not a mythist but it's definitely slightly mysterious


      I personally consider that the summation of the points above that this is not a very compelling foundation to consider this sufficient grounds to consider that this is a true account of God's intervention in the world. My opinion and conclusion is that is more to this than we can probably ever know. I don't see any reason to think that Christianity is anything but another man-made religion, which as humankind we see pretty good and innovative in manufacturing.

      I know you do not agree and perhaps "faith" plays a large part in deciding whether this is truth or not (and I suspect for many emotional and powerful conversion experiences are also compelling but that's another story).

      It just doesn't work for me anymore (it did once a long time ago). I just feel to buy all this now I just have to suspend too much critical thinking and be over credulous. And besides I think it's offering the wrong solution for the wrong problem.

      "You need to read more..."

      I think you are really saying I need to read more of the authors that agree with you...and I have (been a while though because this is really settled for me and has been for many years...). It was reading that lead me to the place I am now (a very good place too I might add).

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    79. ChrisW,

      "I didn't say it is necessarily "irrational" but seems to be a natural instinct that many have."

      Being irrational is not instinctive.

      "That people have this instinct is not a proof that God exists."

      No, it is not. But it is an interesting fact this instinct in man is universal.

      "Or are they Muslims just because of where they grew up?"

      That certainly plays a part in what belief system people may wind up following. But where you are born and what belief system you were brought up believing does not guarantee your adherence to that system. Ultimately one chooses to believe the faith system he follows.

      "Sure, you are heavily invested in your faith and I understand how difficult how it is to even contemplate giving up that faith which I'm sure imbues your life."

      I did not always have this faith. I used to be like you, I suppose. I came to faith in Christ by having an open mind, applying critical thought to the situation and being willing to follow the evidence.

      "fundamental issues with the origins of the faith that can't easily be swept under the carpet,..."

      Would you mind sharing what these fundamental problems with the origins would be?

      "From a historical analysis perspective we have no primary sources such as first person accounts or physical artifacts that point to the person of Jesus."

      We have the writings of John, an apostle. We have the writings of Peter, an apostle. We have the book of James, the brother of Christ. We have the book of Matthew, an apostle. That should be enough to demonstrate your claim is palpable nonsense.

      "probably other sources such as "Q" that have been lost."

      Lost, or simply a hopeful figment of the imagination? You would need to have evidence it existed in the first place to claim it is now lost. It appears it is simply made up by skeptics to lend an air of credibility to their arguments.

      "The authors of the gospels remain unknown,..."

      Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There, now you know the authors.

      "which raises other concerns too about how the accounts were passed on,..."

      In historical terms a document originating 20 - 30 years after an event is nothing.

      "I just feel to buy all this now I just have to suspend too much critical thinking and be over credulous."

      That is interesting in light of the fact that many brilliant minds throughout history came to faith in Christ through the application of critical thinking, not to mention millions of ordinary individuals such as myself, just the opposite of what you are claiming.

      "I think you are really saying I need to read more of the authors that agree with you..."

      Not necessarily. I have found that when I read what one might call hostile sources, such as Ehrman, it actually strengthens my faith, as I recognize the poor quality of their arguments.

      You need to read widely, not just the material which supports your view.

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    80. Nic: "Being irrational is not instinctive."

      No, but it is possible for an instinct to be irrational. For an instinct to proliferate, it just has to be included in the majority of individuals who reproduce. For example, male peacocks displaying their tails and dancing about is an instinct but it is hard to say that it is rational.

      "No, it is not [instinct to worship a God(s)]. But it is an interesting fact this instinct in man is universal."

      I agree. But the big question is whether it is adaptive in itself, or if it a side-effect of something that is. I don't know the answer to that.

      "But where you are born and what belief system you were brought up believing does not guarantee your adherence to that system."

      No, but it pretty well guarantees which one you initially believe in.

      "Ultimately one chooses to believe the faith system he follows."

      Or chooses not to question it.

      "That is interesting in light of the fact that many brilliant minds throughout history came to faith in Christ through the application of critical thinking,..."

      Or in spite of it,

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    81. William,

      "For example, male peacocks displaying their tails and dancing about is an instinct but it is hard to say that it is rational."

      Might be a good argument if we were Peacocks. As we are not, it is irrelevant.

      "But the big question is whether it is adaptive in itself, or if it a side-effect of something that is."

      Ah, spoken as a true evolutionist. Not everything in life can be broken down into adaptive and non-adaptive. Not everything in life is materialistic in nature.

      "No, but it pretty well guarantees which one you initially believe in."

      Somewhat true, but irrelevant in light of the fact individuals possess the capacity to think for themselves.

      "Or chooses not to question it."

      I personally do not know a single Christian who has not at some point questioned their faith. I would be willing to bet that is true for everyone in every faith. The trouble is whenever I bet, I always lose. :(

      "Or in spite of it,..."

      Would it be fair for me to say you arrived at your atheism in spite of what the critical analysis revealed? :)



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  6. Bill Shakespear
    "I am an atheist and I know that when I die I will be worn food. There is a part of me that wishes that it wasn't true, but there is no evidence to think otherwise."

    Psalm 146:4 (Amplified Bible)

    "4 When his breath leaves him, he returns to his earth; in that very day his [previous] thoughts, plans, and purposes perish."

    Ecclesiastes 9:5 & 6 (Amplified)

    "5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; and they have no more reward [here], for the memory of them is forgotten."

    "Their love and their hatred and their envy have already perished; neither have they any more a share in anything that is done under the sun."

    (10) " Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your power, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the grave), where you are going."

    How about that ? And you say you do not believe in any of the biblical texts ?

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    1. Yes, so far dying and being dead is always the opposite of life. It is never continued life, even into another dimension and that is scientfic. Everyone goes back to the soil.

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    2. Everyone knows nothing convinces scientists quicker about the veracity of your creationist claims than quoting scripture at them.

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    3. It is funny how those texts which exclaim a natural fact were around for centuries long before Darwin's daddy got that twinkle in his eye. And it's also amazing considering the whole world of that ancient time's intellectual thought around those writers of the texts back then waere loaded with images of afterlife and immortal souls somehow seperating from the physical body at death. Today the atheist culture has kept the concept of eternal afterlife as having one's brain uploaded into some futuristic supercomputer. I guess times don't really change all that much after all. Just some of the spin on the same old tired concepts.

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    4. Anonymous
      "Everyone knows nothing convinces scientists quicker about the veracity of your creationist claims than quoting scripture at them."

      Actually I wasn't even attempting to impress or convince any scientist here, I was trying to educate you and Bill.

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    5. Like I said: you may convince Bill with your preaching but you'll never convince a scientist on your YEC blather. You'll only convince him you're nothing but a religiously motivated tool.

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    6. And as I've stated, I'm not trying to convince an actual Scientist, just you.

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    7. As I've stated, a blustering ignorant Creationist like you will ever convince a scientist.

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    8. I'm neither a creationist nor a YEC, why do you assume that ? Is it because you believe it to be a comfortable position to argue against ? If you are a scientists, then prove it. Who are you ? Why the cowardly anonymity from which you hide behind various avatars and do nothing but mock others ? I know multiple scientists and none of them conduct themselves in such a balligerent manner behind a mask of anonymity. So again, why the cowardice here ? I spent yesterday following the former avatar you used and you offer no real knowledge beyond the sarcastic code of (LOL). Why if your position is legit ?

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    9. I'm neither a creationist nor a YEC

      Sure you're not. You just spout Bible verses instead of anything even remotely scientific because, well, just because.

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    10. You don't understand science

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    11. Anonymous
      "Sure you're not. You just spout Bible verses instead of anything even remotely scientific because, well, just because."

      You didn't answer the question. Why the cowardice ? I'm not the one hiding behind anonymity here. So prove to everyone here following this discussion that you're this knowledgeable scientist. Cut the adolescent behaviour and act like a man and man up.

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    12. LOL! You really think it's a good idea to post your real identity with angry psychopathic a-holes like fruit loop Louis running around? You're even dumber than I thought. Feel free to expose your family to all the internet nutjobs with access to firearms, I'll pass.

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    13. Nice projection you angry psychopathic a-hole, aka Timothy Horton

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    14. Timmy:
      As I've stated, a blustering ignorant Creationist like you will ever convince a scientist.

      And those scientists can only convince the willfully ignorant rubes, like you.

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    15. Oh, this is good! Now we've got the only two creationist morons ever permanently banned from Uncommon Descent for being obscenity spewing jerks; Fruit Loop Louis Savain and chubby Joe Gallien.

      Cornelius is such a lucky guy! Look for the level of science discussion here to just soar. :D

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    16. LoL! You don't know anything about science, Timmy. And I if I am a moron then you are brain-dead and I am still not a creationist.

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    17. Kevin,

      "It is never continued life, even into another dimension and that is scientfic."

      Just curious as to how you arrive at the conclusion this statement is 'scientific'?

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    18. Nic
      "Just curious as to how you arrive at the conclusion this statement is 'scientific'?"

      I'm confused Nic, why wouldn't death be the end of breathing, conscious thought, emotions, all thought etc ? You do not think that is scientific ? Just curious.

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    19. Kevin,

      "I'm confused Nic, why wouldn't death be the end of breathing, conscious thought, emotions, all thought etc ? You do not think that is scientific ? Just curious."

      I do not think science can provide answers to everything. To say it is a scientific claim that there is nothing beyond this life is making a claim that science can answer that question. It cannot and that was my point.

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    20. I merely provided the biblical texts which agreed with science about what happens to the body at death. This does not take away from a future resurrection which is an entirely different matter.

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    21. Kevin,

      "This does not take away from a future resurrection which is an entirely different matter."

      Okay, thank you for clarifying.

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  7. "God is love. 1 Jn 4:8"

    And so am I. What's your point?

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  8. You think you're love? Or God?

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  9. Replies
    1. Sorry but I just keep forgetting I'm communicating with hardened cynics here.

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  10. Warfare thesis goes much further than creation and evolution. It's a subset of the "thesis+antithesis=synthesis" that will herd the world between two disgusting walls into the "synthesis" that looks to be the only way out.

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    1. someone who understand politics...

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  11. Another masterful post, Cornelius. Keep it up.

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  12. I finally read the Guardian article... Oh the Humanity!! Kids intuitively believe there is a purpose to life! We need to crush that earlier in life so it doesn't poison their education on evolution.

    wow.

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  13. Dr. Hunter,
    It is interesting that children naturally presume design in nature. But it appears also that we are hard-wired for altruism. (Naturally, the product of the selfish gene.)

    Check out this article: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/can-money-buy-you-happiness-it-depends

    Which says:
    Philanthropy appears to give your brain a “happiness cocktail.”

    and

    Giver’s glow is thought to be an ancient reward system that evolved some one to two billion years ago to strengthen communities and ensure a survival advantage.

    See, the selfish gene produced altruism some time before it produced the animal kingdom.

    Another obvious prediction of Darwinism, of course.

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    Replies
    1. I actually expect that the "billion" bit was a typo, and that "million" was meant.

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  14. You are right, Cornelius, in saying that "evolutionists are in full-panic." It has been that way for awhile now. They really are desperate to defend the Darwinian world view...and failing miserably.

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  18. ghostrider:
    Interesting. People who believe in Intelligent Design are childlike in their understanding and haven't developed the intellectual skill set to properly evaluate scientific evidence.

    That certainly agrees with all the empirical evidence seen on ID-Creationist web sites.


    Yeah ghostrider in child-like fashion failed to get the point of the tar-baby fable. This board is his tar-baby. And ghostrider, when accusing the degreed STEM people on this board of being ignorant of their own fields of expertise and shown to himself know nothing of those fields of learning, goes into the obsession with this board, checking many times per day, and can't help himself with the continuous barrage of pejorative and various insults.

    Hey ghostrider - why, if you hate what goes on here, and the people who discuss it, can't you do something else with your time? That tar baby just got you stuck, and you can't get on with life?

    Oh BTW guys, remember how ghostrider proclaimed that real numbers are possessed of Shannon entropy? ("position" as applied to the snowflake features)

    It was the job of yours truly to show the brilliant ghostrider that only estimators can be characterized with Shannon entropy. Then Ghostrider, instead of being appreciative of a little guidance here, went into full ballistic insult mode as a result. This was after ghostrider came on here to inform us that we know nothing of information theory. And here we see his opinion on what is childlike, irony indeed.

    Notice the full-time job he makes of coming onto the board: http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2016/03/lawrence-krauss-monumental-blunders.html

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  19. I'm not surprised that people reject the concepts. I think by human nature we question everything, it's just how our minds work. ...

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  20. Cornelius Hunter
    "The Warfare Thesis continues to fail, and evolutionists need a new canard why people just won’t go along with their age-old idea that the world arose spontaneously."


    There is an irony of sorts today as I was reading a Forbes article on those corruption exposing "Panama Papers." There are several Chinese leaders who are implicated in the fraud of tax evasion and other corruption. They are presently at the forefront of stopping Chinese corruption and yet this bit of News exposes the blanatant hypocrisy of the Chinese leadership. Their tactics for dealing with criticism had a certain Darwinian religiosity about it when you compare what they do to critics.


    Forbes
    "With that irony closing in, the criticism-wary country ruled by a single party has responded as it usually does to slaps from offshore: angry rejection. “In China, Web postings are taken down, foreign publications blocked, Communist Party media blames the West, and leaders act as if nothing had happened,” says Gordon Chang, an author on Chinese affairs."

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  21. William Spearshake April 7, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    [...]

    I often wonder, if God wanted his message to get out [...] why did [God] make it so difficult to understand?

    ---

    When you get down to the basics, it's summed up very simply starting Matthew 22:37.

    I see two main reasons it's so difficult to understand... One is in Matthew 13:24. One is John 9:39 and similarly Luke 10:21.

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