Friday, April 18, 2014

Did Mark Invent the Empty Tomb?

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Giotto's Resurrection

The crux of the Easter faith is the empty tomb. Atheists and sketics believe they have proved that Mark made up the empty tomb.Peter Kirby once defended the idea, claiming a huge number of scholars agreed with that. I'm not sure if he still holds to that or not. The paper is still up and the argument was made so I will  refute it. Peter Kirby once wrote:

Several schoalrs doubt the historicity of the empty tomb. I intend to set out the reasons for disbelieving the empty tomb story. I will argue that the empty tomb narrative is the invention of the author Mark. This conclusion will be supported by showing that all the reports of the empty tomb are dependent upon Mark, that there are signs of fictional creation in the empty tomb narrative, that the empty tomb story as told by Mark contains improbabilities, and that traditions of the burial and appearances support a reconstruction of the events that excludes the discovery of the empty tomb.[1]
 In response I am to focus just one aspect, the idea that the empty tomb is the invention of Mark. I will demonstrate that the empty tomb existed in Christian preaching before Mark was written.

Skeptical schoalrs argue that because Mark's gospel ends with no sightings of the resin Jesus Mark must have made up the empty tomb. They reason that the longer ending of Mark was made to cover up the insufficiency of the orignial.

This original ending of Mark was viewed by later Christians as so deficient that not only was Mark placed second in order in the New Testament, but various endings were added by editors and copyists in some manuscripts to try to remedy things. The longest concocted ending, which became Mark 16:9-19, became so treasured that it was included in the King James Version of the Bible, favored for the past 500 years by Protestants, as well as translations of the Latin Vulgate, used by Catholics. This meant that for countless millions of Christians it became sacred scripture–but it is patently bogus.[2]

He's just reading in a motivation to fit the facts. BTW the longer ending includes the snake handler passage. There is no attempt to consider evidence that the Gospel really didn't end at verse 8. He just assumes it must have becuase that would give us a reason to assume his position on Mark's invention. Thus he reads into the motivations for making other endings the motives he needs to see to bolster his argument. He tries to illicit Bruce Metzger to help out:

The evidence is clear. This ending is not found in our earliest and most reliable Greek copies of Mark. In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger writes: “Clement of Alexandria and Origen [early third century] show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”1 The language and style of the Greek is clearly not Markan, and it is pretty evident that what the forger did was take sections of the endings of Matthew, Luke and John (marked respectively in red, blue, and purple above) and simply create a “proper” ending.[3]
 All that proves is that those particular verses are not fond in any Ms that is not proof that the Gospel really ended at v8, or if it did, why it did. There is no particular reason to assume that we know why and just becuase it did end at 8 does not establish a logical reason to believe that Mark made up the empty tomb. The "added verses are 16:9-20." There are scholarly arguments that they are valid. "...[T]he witnesses which bring the verses into question are few, and that the verses are quoted by church Fathers very early, even in the second century." [4] F.H.A. Scrivener makes arguments for vv9-20 as the proper ending. This is an older source quoted at length by Marlowe.[5] My purpose is not argue for the ending of Mark, I wont belabor that point. No logical reason is given as to why a short abrupt ending means Mark made up the tomb.

Another point that is often made is the lack resurrection sightings in Mark. That is also not proof that the tomb was made up. We are conditioned by Matthew, Luke and John to think that there must be sightings and that they must be certain ones and come out in a certain way. Since Mark was written before Matthew, Luke, or John he didn't do it the way they did. My view is that what we have in the ending in verse 8 may well be the original ending, but it reflects not a made up tomb but the uncertainty of the very period before the community sorted out all the differing testimonies. They didn't understand the event so they don't talk about it that much.

We know there was more than one version of Mark. The Version we have today is not the original version. There are at least three we know of by the end of the first century. The concept of the Ur Mark, a pre-Mark version of Mark that was latter corrected and verged into two versions, one used by Matthew and one by Luke. Neil points out that the study for an "UrMark" the Gospel behind Mark, is really very old, stretching back into the 19th century.[6] But Helmut Koster traces the actual textual criticism to show that there is clearly a Gospel behind the Gospel of Mark. This primary material is much older than the version of Mark as we know it, and there is good reason to believe that it is of great historical significance.

The Gospel of Mark as we know it, draws upon many sources. One such source already mentioned is the Passion Narrative which all the Canonical and the Gospel of Peter draw upon. But Koseter also shows that there was another whole version of Mark that was apparently not known to Matthew and Luke. Whether or not this is the same source as that of the passion narrative we cannot say. In addition to this other version, there are several other sources which can be seen in the Gospel. These may be sources used by the original or they may be those drawn upon by the redactor who put the work into the form in which we know it.

"External evidence for two different versions of Mark circulating at an early date can be derived only from the observation that Luke does not reproduce the section Mark 6:45-8:26. Luke 19: 19= Mark 8:27 follows directly upon Luke 9:17= Mark 6:44. Luke may have used a copy of Mark that had accidentally lost a few pages. However there are some special features which differentiate this particular from the rest of Mark's Gospel. It begins with Jesus going to Bethsaida (Mark 6:45) and ends with the healing of a blind man from Bethsaida (Mark 8:22). Thereafter Jesus goes to Cesaria Philippi and the town of Bethsaida never occurs again the Gospel. This section is also of a number of other doublets of Markan pericopes. 6:44-54 the walking on the water is a variant of the stilling of the tempest (Mark 4:35-41). 8:1-10 the feeding of the 4000 is a secondary elaboration of the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44)...The cumulative evidence of these peculiarities may allow the conclusion that an earlier version of Mark, which was used by Luke did not yet contain the Besiada section (Mark 6:45-8:26) whereas Matthew knew the expanded version which must have come into existence very soon after the original composition of the original gospel."[7]

Koester doesn't' argue for a complete UrMarkus a more permeative version of the Gospel, but this evidence does suggest different versions of the same Gospel. While we can't find an UrMarkus, we can see clearly that the redactor who first formed the Gospel used several sources. The passion narrative has been mentioned, moreover, a miracle story source that is compatible with John, two written documents of saying sources are also recognizable. These include a collection of parables and one of apocalyptic material. (p.287)

But does this mean that Mark [the primary redactor] is merely a "cut and paste" which destorts previous sources and collects rumors and legends with no historical value? Where the skeptic sees this aspect, Koester does not. What Koester sees is a faithful copyist who has collected materials known to be of value to the community, and forged them into a certain order for the purposes of edification to the community.

"Mark [the primary redactor] is primarily a faithful collector. In so far as he is also an author he has created an overriding general framework for the incorporation of traditional material but he has still left most of his material intact.His Gospel is therefore a most important witness for an early stage for the formative development of the traditions about Jesus. The world which these traditions describe rarely goes beyond Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, which is not the world of the author [primary redactor] or the readers for whom the book was intended. Mark's information about Palestine and its people is fairly accurate whenever he leaves his sources intact. But from his redaction of the sources it is clear that the author is not a Jewish Chrstistian and that he does not live in Palestine."[8]

That would explain that frightened, reverenced, alarming rushed quality that one gets reading those passages. The mysterious men in white (angles?) and the lack of sightings. Not becuase there were none but perhaps becasue they didn't know which group to believe. If James was claiming to be the first to see him,[9] (scholarly consensus holds that this is a very early creed)[10] then the claim is made about the women there may have been confusion about which group had primacy. You have two groups of women, the women who stayed at the tomb and Mary Madeline who apparently left early to get John and Peter then came back after then and had one of the sightings.[11] That would explain the confusion about naming which women went to the tomb.[12] My argument is that v8 could well be the proper ending, but this is not proof that Mark made up the tomb, a better reason for the brevity of the chapter is the copy that ends there reflects the Ur Mark which did end there. The longer version may have started with one of the other two versions that are quoted in the synoptic.

The major arguments for Mark inventing the empty tomb, apart from the brevity of his ending,are it's lack of presence in other sources, both Gospels (except for those dependent upon Mark--Matt and Luke) and it's absence from Paul's work.[13]Paul's lack of mention I exlpain in a similar way to Mark's lack of attention to post resurrection sightings, which offer above (this is my own original argument): there were two different factions, or maybe even more than two, one of them associated with James as the first witness to risen Jesus, and the other being the communities that produced Mark, Matthew, and John. Paul spent time in the James community when he was in Jerusalem following the three years he spend in Aria after his stay in Damascus when he was first converted.

I'm not saying that these different communities disagreed about James and the women. I'm not saying the community that produced Matthew said "no James did not see him." Nor am I contending that James said "Mary didn't see him." But each community lauded the witness of it's members. So the community with Mary in it emphasized that Mary was in on the discovery of the empty tomb. while the James community focused upon James's experience of seeing his risen brother, presumably first. After all this was two decades before the Gospels began to be made known to people in written form. Without having a Bible to read it in, the James followers probalby just said "some women saw him too, I don't know who they were just women, but James saw him!" The community with the women in it probably said "Hey our women saw him, and btw James saw him too!"

Helmutt Koester

The key question is, is there a literary tradition that is not dependent upon Mark that includes the empty tomb? Yes, there is one. It's not only independent of Mark but it existed before the Gospel of Mark was written.The Gospel of Peter was discovered in Egypt at Oxryranchus in the 19th century. It was probably written around 200 AD and contains some Gnostic elements, but is basically Orthodox. There are certain basic differences between Gospel of Peter (GPet) and the canonically, but mainly the two are in agreement.

Gpet follows the OT as a means of describing the passion narrative, rather than following Matthew. Jurgen Denker uses this observation to argue that GPet is independent and is based upon an independent source. In addition to Denker, Koester, Raymond Brown, and John Dominick Crossan also agree.[14] It is upon this basis that Crossan constructs his "cross Gospel" which he dates in the middle of the first century, meaning, an independent source upon which all the canonical and GPet draw,(also see my article dating the tomb story in the passion narrative). But the independence of GPet from all of these sources is also guaranteed by its failure to follow any one of them. Raymond Brown, who built his early reputation on study of GPet, follows the sequence of narrative in GPet and compares it in very close reading with that of the canonical Gospels. He finds that GPet is not dependent upon the canonical, although it is closer in the order of events to Matt/Mark rather than to Luke and John. Many Christian apologists think it’s their duty to show that GPet is dependent upon the canonical gospels, but it is basically a proved fact that it’s not. Such apologists are misguided in understanding the true apologetic gold mine in this fact. The fact that GPet is not dependent enables it to prove common ancestry with the canonicals and that establishes the early date of the circulation of the empty tomb as a part of the Jesus narrative. As documented on the Jesus Puzzle II page, and on Res part I. GPet is neither a copy of the canonical, nor are they a copy of GPet, but both use a common source in the Passion narrative which dates to AD 50 according to Crosson and Koester. Brown follows the flow of the narrative closely and presents a 23 point list in a huge table that illustrates the point just made above. I cannot reproduce the entire table, but just to give a few examples:

Helmutt Koester argues for the “Ur Gospel” and passion narrative that ends with the empty tomb. He sees GPet as indicative of this ancient source. Again, the argument is not that GPet is older than the Canonicals but that they all five share common ancestry with the Ur source. There is much secondary material in Gpet, meaning, additions that crept in and are not part of the Ur Gospel material; the anti-Jewish propaganda is intensified, for example Hared condemns Jesus rather than Pilate. [15]
Gospel of Peter (GPet) follows the OT as a means of describing the passion narrative, rather following Matthew. Jurgden Denker uses this observation to argue that GPet is independent is based upon an independent source. In addition to Denker, Koester, Borwn, and the very popular Charles Dominik Corssan also agree[16]

One might be tempted to argue that it's just one source, but Mark takes it form the Passion Narrative so it's still just one source. Not so, Raymond Brown proved there are two independent sources. The Passion narrative does not follow the synoptics are John, they all share a common ancestor, but Mark and Passion narrative are copied as idepndent sources. Neither depends upon the other. Mark is original and Passion narratives follows patterns from the OT. We are talking about reading that are preserved in latter documents. So while the form in which we have Gospel of Peter is latter than Mark the readings that survive in it or of a form that show they are older than Mark. They are not just copying the OT they are telling the story in the from of certain OT renditions.
Brown, who built his early reputation on study of GPet, follows the sequence of narrative in GPet and compares it in very close reading with that of the canonical Gospels. He finds that GPet is not dependent upon the canonical, although it is closer in the order of events to Matt/Mark rather than to Luke and John.

GPet follow the classical flow from trail through crucifixion to burial to tomb presumably with post resurrection appearances to follow. The GPet sequence of individual episodes, however, is not the same as that of any canonical Gospel...When one looks at the overall sequence in the 23 items I listed in table 10, it would take very great imagination to picture the author of GPet studying Matthew carefully, deliberately shifting episodes around and copying in episodes form Luke and John to produce the present sequence.[17]

Brown follows the flow of the narrative closely and presents a 23 point list in a huge table wich illustrates the point just made above. I cannot reproduce the enire table, but just to give a few examples:

In the Canonical Gospel's Passion Narrative we have an example of Matt. working conservatively and Luke working more freely with the Marcan outline and of each adding material: but neither produced an end product so radically diverse from Mark as GPet is from Matt." [18]
Koester demonstrates agreement with many scholars as he puts the date for the Passion narrative mid first century. However, "there are other traces in the Gospel of Peter which demonstrate an old and independent tradition." The way the suffering of Jesus is described by the use of passages from the old Testament without quotation formulae is, in terms of the tradition, older than the explicit scriptural proof; it represents the oldest form of the passion of Jesus.Philipp Vielhauer, Jurgen Denker argues that the Gospel of Peter shares this tradition of OT quotation with the Canonicals but is not dependent upon them. [19] Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century! This means the source for the Passion narrative is much older than our version of Mark, it's only 18 years after original events. It constitutes two independent sources testifying to the empty tomb early on, Mark (Ur Mark) and Pre Mark passion narrative. Even if we want to say it's just one source which stands behind all of these different Gospels it removes the onus that Mark invented the tomb and it places the tomb well witin living memory of eye witnesses.

 [1] Peter Kirby, The Case Against the Empty Tomb, fall 2002. 176 Online materiel pdf
accessed 4/12/14

[2] Jame Tabor, "The Strange Ending of the Gospel of Mark and why it makes all the difference: James Tabor Presents a New Look At the Original Text of the Earliest Gospel." Bible History Daily, published by Biblical Archaeology Society. 4/24/2013. on line
accessed 4/13/14.

[3] Ibid. the quote from Metzger is from Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edition, (Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 123.

[4] Michael D. Marlowe. "Bible Research, Textual Criticism, Finding the Ending of Mark," Bible Research: Internet Resources for Students of Scripture. site dated since Feb 2001. On line 
accessed 4/13/2014.
Marlowe also presentes F.H.A. Scrivener's arguments from 1984, that argue for Mark 16:9-20 as the valid ending.

[5] Marlowe, quoting Scrivener, Ibid,
accessed 4/13/2014

[6] Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961, Oxford: Oxford University Press. see UR Marcus.

[7] Koester, 285

[8] Ibid.Koester p.289

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:5.

[10] Peter May, quoting Gary Habermas, "the Resurrection of Jesus and the Witness of Paul." Be Thinking blog. on line
May is a retired GP who held layman's rank of leadership in the Church of England.Peter May served on the General Synod of the Church of England from 1985 to 2010 and was Chair of the UCCF Trust Board from  2003 to 2010. He is a retired GP.He cites  C.H. Dodd The Founder of Christianity Fontana 1971, and Gary R. Habermas The Risen Jesus & Future Hope Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield 2003, Chapter 1.

[12] Metacrock, "Resurrection Harmony Page 1," The Religious A prori, no date given. on line:  accessed 4/13/2014

Please read my page on The Religious a priori and follow my sense of harmony of the events. we see Mary leave when they first see the tomb stone is ajar. She goes to get Peter and John, returning after them, and seeing Jesus.

[13] Peter Kirby, Op cit. 176.

[14] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, Their History and Development. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990, 208.

[15] Ibid, 217

[16] Ibid. 218

[17] Raymond Brown, Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave, A commentary on the Passionnarratives in the Four Gospels. Volume 2. New York: Doubleday 1994, 1322

[18] Ibid., 1325

[19]  Koester, Op cit, 218

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Film Review: Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole."

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Hey it's not friday! Firday is Good friday so I'm doing my bit for Easter on Friday by running an original new essay, "Did Mark Invent the Empty Tomb?" Be sure and read it! Today I'm doing the film review that I would have done on Friday.

I mainly like to review old European films but I'm always looking for American films that hold their own in comparison to European art films. I don't expect them to have the ambiance: one candle power of light, dark and gritty, earthy squalor, but I expect them to have a serious great plot and to be creative and not corny in cinematography. Such is Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951). It's a fine film. It's not a great film. It's no Seventh Seal, but it is engaging, serious, well done, and just a hint of Hollywood corn but that's to be expected.


 IMBd page:

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirk Douglas ...
Chuck Tatum
Jan Sterling ...
Robert Arthur ...
Herbie Cook (as Bob Arthur)
Porter Hall ...
Frank Cady ...
Al Federber
Richard Benedict ...
Leo Minosa
Ray Teal ...
Sheriff Gus Kretzer
Lewis Martin ...
John Berkes ...
Papa Minosa
Frances Dominguez ...
Mama Minosa
Gene Evans ...
Deputy Sheriff
Frank Jaquet ...
Sam Smollett
Harry Harvey ...
Dr. Hilton
Bob Bumpas ...
Radio Announcer
Geraldine Hall ...
Nellie Federber
notice it has Frank Cady, who played Sam Druker, one of the funniest characters on Green Acres (ran the general store--65 to 71) and played the same part on Petticoat Junction. (63-70) It's a small part in film. Mostly all he does is say "we were the first car here," several times. He's only in a couple of scenes but his Character (Al Federber)drives a 1951 Studebaker Champion, which is a big personal thrill. [1] Notice also Ray Teal who played Sheriff Roy Coffee on Bonanza (59-73).
Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) is best known for comedies ("The Apartment", "Some like it hot"), but he did some good drama's too ("Double Indemnity", "Lost Week End," "Sunset Boulevard."). This is one of his best dramas. It's not one of his better known films. It's not even listed on the usual list of his greats, but it should be. It's a real gem.
Kirk Douglas plays a washed up news paper reporter who had been a Pulitzer prize winner and worked at the top of the heap on ever major American Daily. He is not washed up, having been fired from every major American daily. He's trying to start again at the bottom at a small time newspaper and work his way back up with a big story. He finds himself in Albuquerque New Mexico. In 1951 New Mexico was pretty primitive. At that time they didn't have a single free way. After a few months he's bored out of his scull. He's been covering garden parties and drunks who busted up bars on Saturday night. Those the biggest stories they had to offer.

The editor assigns him and a photographer to cover a snake hunt in the desert. He's plotting to make the story bigger by swiping one of the snakes and doing stories on "no 6 still missing, will it turn up in your backyard?" The photographer is a young kid just out of journalism school who is thrilled to have  any job on any paper, and he's willing do anything the old veteran newsman says. They stop at a gas station and the kid goes in to the hotel that's attached to the gas station and there's no one around. It's the middle of the day the plays is open but deserted. He finds a woman in the back bedroom praying fervently in Spanish. She doesn't even recognize him there. The kids goes out to the car and reports back, as though he's just put out, there's no concept of a potential story. The old fire horse Newsman jumps out of the convertible without opening the door bolts into the place, right to the back bedroom. He's standing beside the woman who does not alter from her prayer so he knows something is wrong.
He and the kid drive onto the property down the little road in back and find a woman walking back to the main hotel and she tells them her husband is trapped under the mountain. So they go down there. There are Indian ruins, cliff dwellings, and they are collapsing. They are very dangerous to go in. The man had gone through caves behind the cliff dwelling and was digging for Indian things to sell. Little by little we learn he's doing this to get money to satisfy his wife, who married him thinking that a hotel and lots of land meant he was rich, and found he was land poor, hotel poor. gas station poor and now she is stuck in the middle of now where with no way out and hates it totally. She hates him totally. He loves her and wants her love and is willing to anything. On his latest expedition to find artifacts to make money to please her he was in a cave in and is trapped with big rocks on his legs. He's flat on this back. He's freezing becuase it's cold in the cave and he's got his back to the floor, and he's covered in dust making it hard to breath, no one else will go in because it's falling apart. At this point there's only his father, a couple of neighbors and a deputy sheriff, no one else knows about it. None fo them will go in because it's too dangerous.

The reporter agrees to take him the blanket and coffee. He talks to the guy, he learns about his trouble with his wife. He likes the guy. He likes the story better. He tells the kid how they are going to build the story into another Pulitzer prize winning extravaganza. He starts manipulating. The wife of the trapped man was about to split. She stays just long enough to wait on the costumers who start coming in becuase they read about it in the Albuquerque paper, after it was phoned in. She's amazed. More costumers in one day, come down to gawk, than she had in a month (including the Studebaker driving Federbers, who were the first car there). Suddenly she has more money than she's ever had at one time (she cleans out the register for herself). Douglas convinced her to stay, but now she wants to stay. She's making plans with Douglas to leave with him before her husband get's out and he's to take her to New York when he gets reinstated with the major paper there. He's kind of iffy about it because he likes the guy and doesn't like betraying his trust. He grows sick of this mercenary woman who clearly doesn't care if her husband lives or dies. But Douglas needs her to be based there and build the story and have control so he plays along. She sees this as her best time to get out, because she left before and Leo found her and brought her back. Now he wont be able to go after her. But now she sees the point in staying, to milk the customers.

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Eventually the story builds into a circus side show. There are thousands of cars. It's the being broadcast all over the world. People from eery major News Paper are there. This one guy from the Albuquerque paper (in 1951 that was truly "Podunk") he is in control because he's the guy who will go in and talk to the trapped man. All the other press is kept away form the story but he has the run of the place. There's a Ferris wheel, restrooms, all kinds of food venders. Since a couple of thousand people can't tear themselves away they need food, amusements and rest rooms. Douglas has wrangled a temporary job with the major New York Paper (fictional) and he's going to give them an exclusive and he has severed ties with Albuquerque. We also learn that the engineer who has gone in to get him is trying to borne in form top of the moutian. This is taking a couple of weeks. We find that this is because the reporter manipulated the guy into being overly cautious so that it would take longer and he can stretch out the story. People all over the world anxoiusly wiating for the next paper to learn all they can about the guy trapped under the moutain.

The problem is The guy is dying. He has double pneumonia from lying on his back in freezing cold cave and breathing all the fine dust that is being knocked down on him from the pounding of the guys trying drill down from the top. We learn from a miner who goes there that the direct route could be done safely and he could be gotten out  in  a couple of days, but the reporter poos poos that and chases the miner away. He uses cleaver cognitive dissonance to make the engineer feel committed to present course. Chuck Tatum is very slick more showman and snake oil salesman than reporter. In fact there's a conflict bewteen Tatum and the editor in Albuquerque over what kind of newsman to be. Tatum clearly belongs to the "anything for a story" school. 

Tatum learns that the trapped man (Leo Minosa) wants to get out and give his wife the anniversary present because he feels she really needs to feel that he can give her things. Douglas now realizes he will die. The doctor has gone in and seen him and tells him he may not last the night. Leo is wanting a priest. Douglas finds the present where Leo told him it was, tries to give it to the wife telling her it is from Leo. At first she thinks it's from Tatum then when she learns it's from Leo she doesn't want it. She laughs sat it. It's only a fox fur she scorns it, it's all he can afford. She's talking about how wonderful it will be when Tatum can buy her minks in New York. She's so sick of her by now he puts the fox around her neck and tries to chock her. Of cousre he's eaten up with guilt that he's murdered Leo. She is fighting for her breath she takes a letter opener that's basically a knife, and a big letter opener, and stabs him in the side. He's really wounded but he doesn't care. He leaves and get's in his car and drives to a near by little town and brings back a Priest. They go in, give the last rites he dies. Tatum is just torn up. He's crying. He goes up to the top the mountain and get's on the mike, tells everyone Leo died and just go. Get out. They all suddenly realize how carried they got and how over it is, they start streaming out. Tatum should have phoned in the story before he told anyone because that was the deal, he would get them the exclusive. He's so torn up the doesn't even care and he walks slowly back. By the time he get's back they have taken out his teletype and he's fired. The New York editor is angry becuase they where the last to get the story. The last we see of the wife she has missed the bus because she was packing and now she's walking down the higher by herself with a stream of cars around her, trying to get out and go.

Tatum is not done. He tells them he has the real story behind the story. He has to shout because the editor is shouting, he shouts, "He was murdered!" The editor becomes even more angry, this is more flim flam. The New York is the same kind of Newsman, he's so hard boiled he can't recognize that Tatum is not trying to make a story but to confess. The confession is cut off because the editor just wont listen. He thinks to go back to Albuquerque and confess to the readership of that paper. It's better than nothing. Yet his wound is still un treated, and it's taking its toll. He's beginning to have a hard time walking. He gets back to the old paper he comes in issuing orders about stop the presses he has the real story. They wont listen to him either because he doesn't work there anymore. He starts saying the same stuff he did when he first came. "I'm the great thousand dollar a day Pulitzer winner." He's trying to make same kind of pitch for his services he did before and he just drops dead in the middle of it. That's the end of he movie.

The confession was also mixed in with the impulse to do another big sensational story. At the end he's building it up again like the same kind of story. Even when he tires to do the right thing, even when tries to aswage his guilt and make the grand confession the confession becomes the story. He's not going to go tell a priest in private he wants to make the big scoup. His sense of truth is so jaded by the need to sensationalize that he can't even seperate his personal guilt from teh need for a big story. This is a fine film. It demonstrates the foibles of human frailty and captures people at their worst. It shows people at their best as well, those who cared about Leo and wanted to help him. The priest the doctor they braved the potential cave in in order to minster to him. Yet it is a Hollywood movie I find I have two criticisms, both related to what I hate about Hollywood movies. This touches upon why I prefer European and Japanese cinema.

First, it portrays the press as just a bunch of sensational yellow journalism mongers who can't think clearly. In that portrait presents many stereotypes of movies of that era, such as "His Girl Friday" (1940--Rosiland Russell and Carry Grant) and "Teacher's Pet" (1958-Doris Day and Clark Gable) for example. On the other hand some of those stereotypes had more of a place in reality in that age. The Albequerque editor is presented as the "good reporter" so they are not all like that. At one point in the discussion bewteen him and Tatum, the editor says he's been after exposing the Sherrif of that country for years, but Tatum has secured the guy's re-election, on purpose, so he can get cooperation to build the story. But this really is not enough. It's just tokenism to divert the very criticism I'm making.

Secondly, there's a element of corn. Stereotypes are Corny too, but I'm thinking of the way the end was rushed in. He just drops dead. It's mellow dramatic. There's no Denouement no sense of building to the resolution. Although I just see the writer arguing that dropping dead is less corny and more dramatic than some drawn out confession. While that is probalby true, perhaps a scene where the editor sums it all up the kid photographer or something.It doesn't have to be a corny death bed confusion to not be just dropping dead and ending the film. Don't let that poil the enjoyment. It's a fine film. it's a gem it's well wroth seeing.

[1] My father collected Studebakers. He loved them. We owned 9 of them in my life. We had 2 52 Champions. They were good cars, that big bilious fat kind of shape for the body, stick shift on the steering column so the shifting pattern must be learned side ways to the four on the floor. Studebaker was not at the top in terms of sales, although they did ok until management problems brought production to a halt in 1963 and they got out of the car busienss in 65. Even though they were on the street it's still rare to catch them in old tv shows and movies. The highest concentration of Studebaker can be found on the tv show "Mr.Ed" (61-66) the only show they ever sponsored.
 Be sure and read my essay "Did Mark Invent the empty tomb." I will publish that Friday.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reducationism: Scientific Methodology, Atheist Philosohy, Rhetorical Ploy.part 1

 photo theoryandmodel_zpsdabbd46c.jpg

            Reductionism is a major methodological aspect of science; it also lends itself to atheist thought as a major world view, and to atheist apologetics as a rhetorical ploy. Reduction is a valid scientific methodology, but like all science it is also infused with notions of an ideological nature. When atheists use reductionism as a tool of ideology it has the fervor of scientific dedication and is cast with the aura of the sacred. It is both a valid methodological tool and an ideological propaganda device at the same time.

Definition of REDUCTIONISM

: explanation of complex life-science processes and phenomena in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry; also : a theory or doctrine that complete reductionism is possible
: a procedure or theory that reduces complex data and phenomena to simple terms [1]

Philosophical roots of reductionism

             “Methodological reductionism” is the process of reducing phenomena to its smallest constituent parts to understand what makes it function as a method for dealing with complexities that need to broken down.[2] Then there is “philosophical reductionism” which maintains as its goal a philosophical and/or ideological tenet that science can explain everything:
One form of scientific reductionism follows the belief that every single process in nature can be broken down into its constituent parts and can be described scientifically. The broadest sense of the term upholds the idea that science can be used to explain everything, and that nothing is unknowable. By looking at the individual constituent processes, scientists can gain an understanding of the whole process. For example, a reductionist believes that the complexity of the human brain is a result of complex and interacting physical processes. If scientists research and understand these underlying chemical reactions, then they can explain intelligence, emotion and all of the other human conditions. The only way to comprehend fully the sheer complexity of the human brain is to look at the individual pieces.[3]

 Here we can definitely see the ideological aspects of science at work. These advocates of this certain type of reductionism believe that “everything can be explained through science.” Obviously for this to be true science has to be the most valid from of knowledge if not the only form of knowledge. Materialists, who tend to philosophical reductionists, and this includes phyisicalists, go step further and just refuse to accept as knowledge anything that can’t be quantified and pinned down by their methods. God can’t be apprehended by their methods so there must not be a God. This notion of science as the most or only valid form of knowledge is clearly ideological and stems form philosophical concerns. In the issue of reductionism we can see one of the most obvious junctures at which philosophy has clung to scientific development and is still being infused with science. Reductionism is inherently infused with philosophy.

Reductionism encompasses a set of ontological, epistemological, and methodological claims about the relation of different scientific domains. The basic question of reduction is whether the properties, concepts, explanations, or methods from one scientific domain (typically at higher levels of organization) can be deduced from or explained by the properties, concepts, explanations, or methods from another domain of science (typically one about lower levels of organization). Reduction is germane to a variety of issues in philosophy of science, including the structure of scientific theories, the relations between different scientific disciplines, the nature of explanation, the diversity of methodology, and the very idea of theoretical progress, as well as to numerous topics in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, such as emergence, mereology, and supervenience.[4]

            Reductionism goes back to the Greeks and tied to philosophy up to the development of early modern science and beyond. The Greek atomists were reductionists. They wanted to cut up reality in order to get at the basic elements. The idea of positing basic building blocks doesn’t require that one abolish other aspects of reality. Yet certain of the pre-Socratics, such as Leucpp and Democritus, began doing this.[5] The term “reductiosm” is not very old. The modern issues enter science from philosophy. Ontological reductionism was part of the dispute between nominalists and realists in the middles.[6]  The major alternative to reductionism is holism. Holism also goes back to the Greeks with Aristotle. The Atomists had atoms in the void as the final explanation and Aristotle had final cause of an unmoved mover as the final cause and explanation of all harmony and unity in the world.[7] Modern science abhors teleology, the idea that everything is directed toward a goal or an end point. The teleological is the hall mark of Aristotle’s’ unmoved mover. Atoms in the void don’t require a goal; they are the end of the process. Thus science has had this atheistic bias literally since the Greeks. Likewise, theistic thinking takes on a holistic bias form the Greeks as well. Science was slow to completely turn over to the atomists and did so in stages. The bias against teleology was not adopted into biology until the middle of the nineteenth century (with Darwin and Wallace). Natural mutation and random selection have come to dominate in biology and replace any idea of purposefulness.[8]  The distinction between appearance and reality is a carry over from Democritus’ claim that binary oppositions in experience, such cold and hot, sweet and sour, are really just atoms moving in void.[9] We take this as empirically proved because we dismiss experience as subjective and go with the ‘objective measurement,’ never really considering how we are conditioned by philosophical hold over to think this way.

In this way, a conception of the world and our place in it evolved in the scientific revolution and the latter Enlightenment in Europe that was conducive to the development of the idea of reducing reality to only what scientists analyze out of the “buzzing, blooming confusion” we experience. Reductionist tendencies remained central to the epistemologies and metaphysics that developed in light of reflections on the modern natural scientific search for simplicity and unity. Such philosophies set the stage for explicit reductionist disputes in twentieth-century philosophy. But, contrary to many scholars’ perspective, the scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment were not the only sources of modern reductionist thinking. Another source can also be traced back to ancient thought—the quest for a viable monism.[10]

It may seem that monism is the child of mystical concerns, a refugee from a religious past, something more akin to Hinduism or Buddhism than modern science. In fact materialism/phyiscalism is heir to Greek monism.
           In terms of ontology three major approaches. Pluralists, of which Leibniz is an example) accept either plurality of fundamentally irreducible realities or plurality of real material objects. Dualists typified by Descartes two basic realities that can’t be reduced to one. Monists reduce it all to one fundamental type of reality or apparent multiplicity as a manifestation of one fundamental type of reality. Positing one reality in place of apparent multiplicity is reductive. Jones thus argues that the first type of monist is a weaker version of the second.[11] He sees Thales and the pre-Socratics and their attempt to understand the world in terms of one basic element as the orign of the reductive impulse in Western thought..[12] One might wonder, however, if that’s not just an appearance that results from following the atomists. There is a link to modern through that’s a lot more direct than a secret winding path through 2000 years of history. The skeptics and dissenters of the English enlightenment were influenced by the Greek atomists. In the restoration period the English churchmen, the Latitudinarians began arguing against a philosophical bugbear. At that time Greek thinking, especially that of the atomists, was being rediscovered. The Latitudinarians put up an apologetical front against the Greeks even though skepticism was virtually invisible to the public. Dissenters, Socinians (Latter to become Unitarians) and skeptics picked up these ideas.

            Jones understands materialism as the only form of monism produced in modern times. He does discuss Berkeley’s form of idealism known as  “immaterialism”
 which postulates that that “all reality is reduced to a collection of mental substances…merely perceptions in the mind of God.”[13] We tend to think of monism as either eastern or atheist but not Christian. Yet Berkeley was a Christian Bishop. The Bible never pronounces upon the truth of philosophical schools. That wasn’t part of the conceptual universe of the people who write the bible. It’s left up to theologians to argue for one version or another. Hume argued for a monism that was neither mental nor physical.[14] Modern materialists are not strong monists as they allow for plurality of material objects.

Types of Reductionism.

            It seems that there is no set list of types. Each author has his/her own version of the different types. John Polkinghorne, formerly professor of mathematical physics as University of Cambridge, lists constituent, conceptual (or epistemological) and causal. “Constituent” means that when a complex system is reduced or taken apart what remains is a set of fragments that correspond to the expected constituents and nothing more. The example he gives is that of a living organism, when decomposed, doesn’t leave behind any part pertaining to a “spark of life” as was once claimed by the philosophy of “vitalism.” [15] Of course that seems self defeating because the organism is dead so one would not expect to find a spark of life. Nevertheless, Polkinghorne denies that this form of reductionism implies that living beings are nothing but collections of molecules. “This kind is closely related to methodological reductionism, the widely practiced scientific strategy of studying wholes through breaking them up into their constituent parts. Again, the success of the strategy does not imply that everything relevant to the whole can be studied in this way.”[16] “Conceptual” refers to means that concepts applying to the whole can be totally expressed in terms of concepts applying to the parts. “An example of a successful reduction of this kind is afforded by the use of the kinetic theory of gases to reduce the concept of temperature (originating in the thermodynamics of bulk matter) to exact equivalence to the average kinetic energy of the molecules of the gas.”[17] Polkinghorne also sites counter examples to this second kind of reduction. Individual water molecules are not wet, for example. The third type, “causal” will probably be more important for our purposes.
            Causal reductionism:

…implies that the causes acting on the whole are simply the sum of the effects of the individual causalities of the parts. In the case of wetness such a reduction appears successful, on the reasonable supposition that surface tension is generated entirely by the action of inter-molecular forces. Since at both levels one is concerned with purely energetic properties, a translation between the two seems plausible. On the other hand, it is not at all clear that sums of firings of neural synapses can add up to produce mental qualia (feels), as there appears to be a clear qualitative difference between the two ( MIND-BODY RELATIONSHIP). Causal reductionism is closely allied to ontological reductionism, the assertion that the whole is the sum of its parts. It is quite possible to hold to constituent reductionism and to deny causal reductionism as, in fact, many do. One strategy for this is to embrace contextualism, the belief that the behaviour of constituents depends upon the nature of the whole that they constitute.[18]

This type of reduction seems to correspond to what was said above about philosophical reductionism, where the concept is not so much used as only a method in science but the basis of a philosophy.
            As we saw above there is a kind of reductionist who believes that science can explain everything, and nothing is “unknowable.”

Reductionism in Action

            Reductionism is a tool of atheist apologetics. It’s used as a major tactic because it support the materialist assumption of the world as only matter, or the physicalist assumption as the world as only physical objects. Thus any alternative to these ideologies can be ignored, and the mystique of a scientific procedure can be applied. The Reductionist is merely ignoring the possibility of spirit or of some alternative but doing it under the assumption that there can only be physical things anyway. Certain “tricks’ are employed to pull off this connection, spreading the aura of science over a purely ideological move.  Before look at those moves, however it’s important to note some of the major issues where these moves are used. Although reductionism is a standard procedure for atheist thinking so almost any issue is vulnerable, yet there are certain issues that draw more fire in the reductionist camp. The major issue on which the ploys of reductionism are used is the brain/mind issue. The idea that consciousness is not reducible to brain chemistry is a major challenge for materialists. The counter position is that of the reductionists who believe that the qualities of consciousness must be reduced to the basic physical complement that they feel produce brain function. Of course they are almost certainly arbitrarily refusing to accept a possibly of something more than brain function as the nature of consciousness. To hold their position at all is to do some form of reductionism as a founding assumption. Any issue involving free will, which includes the problem of pain and attempts to disprove god based upon Theodicy, employs a reductions approach to ignore the basis of free will as rooted in something other than brain chemistry. Thus reductionism sort of mandates determinism.
            I will look at three issues, as stated; almost any issue can include a reductionst approach. These issues are: (1) Religious experience (2) Brain/mind, (3) Free will/determinism. By “religious experience” I mean primarily of the “mystical kind.” This includes both exterrvertive and interovertive, as well as esoteric and exoteric. In other words, this includes both mystics as well as charismatics. This includes the sense of the numinous, which the feeling of prescience or meaning of overwhelming love that mystics try describe. It is not about visions and voices it is about a form of consciousness where one seems to see through he world illusion and recognizes the undifferentiated unity of all things. It can also be experienced in terms of the sense of the numinous, love and presence of divine. On a popular level atheist apologists have learned some tricks form reductionism. They meet claims of empirical studies demonstrating the transfoarmtive power of religious experience by reducing transformation to “getting happy.” They reduce the effects to brain chemistry and ideologically ignore the possibly of any form of consciousness not a side effect of brain chemistry.

Long-Term Effects

Wuthnow study:
*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style

Noble study:

*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

These are long term characteristics that the mystical experiencing subject exhibited.[19] So then to say that all just amounts to “getting happy” is losing the actual aspects that make the experience what it is and totally changes the outcome. The standard tricks of the reductionist can be understood as follows:

Lose the Phenomena

All the complexity of relationships to self and others, self image, autonomy, social responsibility and so on are reduced to one simplistic undefined feeling of “happy.” It’s counted in such a country cornpone way that it’s clear derogatory.


The as aspect of changing “self actualization” to “happy” not only loses a lot in translation but it is also changing the label from one that connotes a complex psychological theory of personality to one that connotes little thought and simplistic motives (“gett’n happy”).


This will be illustrated in forthcoming material. It involves a way of losing phenomena by leaving out curcial aspect in re-describing what is to be recued.

Bait and Switch

This is seen in a major way on the brain/mind issue. One of the major proponents of mind (David Chalmers) argues that the reductionsits are pulling a bait and switch. They are not examining consciousness but bran function put over as consciousness. Bait “we are going to examine consciousness,” the switch, it’s really brain function they examine. This biat and switch tactic is one of the chief ways that reductionists lose the phenomena, by diverting our attention to other phenomena.

            These same tricks are used by professionals. One of the major practitioners is philosopher Wayne Proudfoot who teaches at Columbia University. Proudfoot’s Religious Experience, is a practically a blue print to the use of use of reductionism as a rhetorical device to blunt the effects of empirical research.[20] The issue comes in where skeptics try to offer counter causal explanations for the experience. Mainly the materialist/physicalist tries to explain it in term of brain chemistry since this is the order of the day, all consciousness must be reduced to brain chemistry. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (The Gilford Lectures):

Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too simple-minded system of thought which we are considering. Medical materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox's discontent with the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh. All such mental over-tensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the matter, mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most probably), due to the perverted action of various glands which physiology will yet discover. And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual authority of all such personages is successfully undermined.[21]

[1 Merriam-Webser’s  Dicitonary online version URL:  visited 3/16/2012
[2] “Scientific Recutionsm,” website: URL:  visited 3/13/2012 is a site ran for educational purposes by a psychologist and other unnamed authors who work in the seicnes.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Brigandt, Ingo and Love, Alan, "Reductionism in Biology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
[5] Richard H. Jones, Reductionism: Analysis and the Fullness of Reality. Danvers, Massachusetts: Associated University Press.2000, copy, Google books, URL:  visited 3/13/2012
[6] ibid.
[7] ibid.
[8] ibid, 38
[9] ibid.
[10] ibid.
[11] ibid, 40
[12] ibid
[13] ibid
[14] ibid
[15] John Polkinghorne, “Reductionism.” Inters Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science.  p.zza sant'Apollinare, 49 - 00186 Rome: Centro di Documentazione Interdisciplinare di Scienza e Fede operating at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Edited by Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, Philip Larrey and Alberto Strum├Ča  On line resource, URL  visited 3/16/2012
[16] ibid
[17] ibid
[18] ibid
[19] Council on Spiritual Practices listsBoth of these lists are distilled by another writer from the two different studies by Wuthnow and Nobel. This list is found on a webstie hosted by the Council on Spiritual Pracices. “State of Unitive Consciousness Research Summary.” URL: visitied 4/5/2012.
About Council on Spiritual Pracitices: (from the site) The Council on Spiritual Practices is a collaboration among spiritual guides, experts in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, and scholars of religion, dedicated to making direct experience of the sacred more available to more people. There is evidence that such encounters can have profound benefits for those who experience them, for their neighbors, and for the world.
[20] Wayne Proudfoot, Religious Experince. Berkeley: University of California Press,
[21] William James, Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Modern Library, 1994, 16.