Sunday, July 31, 2005

What good is history anyway?

I got angry about the Jesus myther faction, becasue I believei it's important to accept the existence of Jesus. To me it's like mataining standards. This is the nature of reality in the world, everything can't just be up for grabs all the time. it's not like there's no evidence. Atheists love rhetroicaly state "there's no evidence," but of course there is evidence! Rufus was excepted as a real man in history just by one mention in an inscrition ona plague found by Sir william Ramsey. who is he? He's mentioned in Acts and in Romans 16. So he's not just an obscrute figure, he's been proven to exist. But, the proof wasn't much. Or Pilate who was at one time said to be fictional. Now there is no a scholar who will say that, but only because of two brief mentions in two obscure ms. so it doesn't make much to be proven to exist. There is ample evidence for Jesus; especially since historicity is just a probablistic assumption anyway.

Nevertheless, as I posted about this and proceeded to have a huge arugment on CF, the thread was eventaully clossed because some mythers got mildly hostile and I got very hostile. I tendt overeact. They push me a bit, I push them off the cliff. Now, I'm not saying that's a good trait. I'm saying I am working on curbing it. But it did make me thing, what good is history if people only accept what they want to be true. To me its' a matter of having some kidn of standard that anchors us to reality.


Joveia said...

I read through some of it up to page 5 and think you have done a pretty good job. Even while reading gladiatrix comments I thought that the argument against Tacitus wasn't strong because Tacitus wouldn't have put a comment about 'Christus' in his annals just on hearsay, he was a good historian.

Maybe I'll read through more later.

God bless

J.L. Hinman said...

O thanks. I guess maybe I was too angry. But it just seemed to me that she was pretty beligerant herself.

MaxVel said...

The 'problem' with history is that it's all too easy to subject historical facts to our own agendas.

But there is hope - what 'facts' someone accepts and what 'facts' someone rejects can tell us a lot about their biases... as your discussion on CF apparently showed

J.L. Hinman said...

got it in one, MaxVel! ;-)

J. Archer said...

I bet you've had more discussions with skeptics than I, but I think a few things I can say...

One, there are some that read an article or book (let's say by Carrier) and 'hang on' to it despite the fact that they can't defend the article. Sometimes these people assert what they believe, never defend it, and you'll find them asserting it in other places. Annoying. Especially since they think they're competent to try and persuade.

Two, in general, the skeptics @ CF are not very bright or educated in the relevant fields. Some like to say "many scholars say x" or "most scholars say x" but cannot name one or give a reference. I suspect that if someone comes along (like glad) and makes a case, however strong it actually is, they'll take that as a confirmation of their beliefs. Christians do the same, too...*sigh*

Three, a lot of them post as if it's playtime. One assertion per topic. Maybe two or three. But that's how most of them operate, and it's REALLY annoying especially if you've done a lot of groundwork yourself and you know they don't know jack.

Four, there are enough skeptics and new skeptics that if you were to stick around in GA for a month, you'd see the same kinds of things being repeated over and over again unchallenged. So someone going in there to challenge assumptions is really going against the entire environment.
I also hope I didn't negatively influence your attitude towards GA.

You may note that in response to some people my language is very courteous and diplomatic, wereas with others, it is sharp and very rhetorical. I don't, and can't give equal amounts of respects to the ideas promogulated because some ideas are idiotic and almost propagandic, whereas others are, even if grossly misinformed, honest and tenative. I also can't give much respect to people who make assertions without ever supporting them, and never actually deal with dissenting opinions.

I also try to hold myself up to these standards, so I try to be able to accurately summarize people's reasoning and positions.

Right now the number of skeptics in GA that I have some respect for are about two or three.

Did you see that Vinnie said, in reference to my book and scholar recommendations that it's all poor scholarship and wishful thinking? I was laughing really hard. Witherington alone is undoubtedly someone to reckon with, and a simple "all of this is poor scholarship and wishful thinking" only begs severe contempt.

J.L. Hinman said...

thanks for your comments J. I agree with most of them. Don't worry, I arleayd had a bad impression of GA anyway; just kidding. ;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

GA? you mean Gerogia? I lived there as a kid for a summer. It was nice. looks of creeks. I remember this guy with a banjo, o never mind...

tinythinker said...

Something I don't get about the ChristianForums rules. They state:

Rule No. 5 - No Promotion of Other Religions
5.1 You will not post, attach, use or send any posts, PMs, links, images or files that promote a religion, belief, faith or doctrine other than "Christianity" as defined in Rule 6.
a. For the purposes of this rule, Atheism is to be considered as a "religion".

So, then, if I wanted to explain something about Islam or Buddhism, and the site I link to talks about those religions in a positive way, explains their philosophies, and tells you how to practice, isn't that promotion? Also, wouldn't having symbols like a Tibetan flag, a GIF of the symbol for OM, etc, be symbols promoting other religions? Yet on the Non-Christian Forum people had such symbols in their profiles and signatures and linked to places like AccessToInsight, which as I describe above definitely "promotes" Buddhism.

What a strange and offensive and curiously enforced rule. I was going to register their once but that was the deal-breaker.

J.L. Hinman said...

Intersting observation Tiny. But i have no connection with their rule makeing. I dont' understand that place anyway.

J. Archer said...

I was on staff for more than a year, and we had several discussions about that, both amongst staff and with members.

We allowed linking to sites for **academic** purposes only. I've linked to Greg Boyd's site recently in a discussion on OVT, but in context it was very clear that I was not intending to promote it. Two of the mods in that particular forum are my friends and both know who Greg Boyd and OVT are.

I've also seen several links go untouched and I know the mods know about it. It's quite a matter of how you present it, because in, I suppose, the majority of staff experience, especially anyone who is an Admin or higher, we've ALL had people come in with the sole intent to "decovert believers" or promote a religion. If you want examples of how it's done I can share a load of first-hand experience.

I can also sympthasize with people with who get modded. It happens.

tinythinker said...

Yet it makes it sound like there is some fear that the Christian argument is so weak it must not have competition. It's one thing for someone to only want to post spam promoting anything (a religion, a product or service, a political candidate), but it's another thing to promote an idea or religion through sincere and involved dialogue. In other words, if someone asked, "Why are you a Buddhist?", I would effectively be promoting Buddhism in my reply. I would talk about why it makes sense, how it works, how to practice, etc, and I would likely use links to other sites with the same info. On other other hand, if someone just came by posting the same spam over and over with links to certain sites and never really debated or discussed his or her views, I can see why that would be disallowed.

J.L. Hinman said...

well you have a good point Tiny. but I'm thinking without a disclairmer like that they probably couldn't get funding form chruches or indivudal christians to run the boards.

tinythinker said...

Maybe, but that's just saying their principles are for sale ):~P

J. Archer said...

Interesting thoughts. It's said that CF is intended to be a 'safe haven'. I can understand how it seems like Christianity is weak or it can't be discussed reasonably. But there is (I hope!) a place and time for fellowship and discussing with other worldviews isn't seen as part of fellowship, I don't think.

I personally am amused about this and up for debate and discussion. I'm not sure if the pros (in Erwin & staff's eyes) are outweighed by the cons, but I can tell you that if they'd allow 'promotion', they'd need at least double their staff. I don't want to be throwing mud, but IMO the CF crowds are just not intellectually mature enough... I go to and it's much looser there, also smaller crowds, and more notable minds. I much prefer the TWeb environment from CF actually. If you want to say why you believe something go ahead; they even have a forum just for non-theists to discuss things among themselves with no interference from theists.

I think if 'no promotion' came out of wanting a safe haven, that part is very well done. Especially with the congregational forums and all the topic-specific forums. That's CF. TWeb is a debate board so it has different rules.

Sincere and involved dialogue, eh? I've found that to be quite the rare gem.

tinythinker said...

They can have whatever rules they wish to have, I just find it interesting because I have been to dozens of Christian forums and never seen that rule before.

Hamish said...

What is most important to you about Jesus? Is it that a particular guy walked the earth said and did specific things? Or is it the obvious impact it had on hundreds (then thousands and more) of followers. The Gospel Jesus needn't be seen as synonymous with the Historical Jesus (indeed that would be unhelpful and wrong).
The important thing to me, is that the writers identified something godly in association with some dude Jesus. What it was about Jesus that was so special is totally separate from what the historical Jesus did or said.
That's my thoughts anyhow.

J.L. Hinman said...

that depends upon your presuppositions about theology. I can't just reduce Jesus to a nice symbol. Anything can be adapted as a nice symbol.

The atonement is what is most improtant because that is the mediation of Grace. Withotu that Christianity is just a nice social culb, (in not always such a nice one).

It's important and makes sense that God entered history as a man. It's the only way we can really get the drift is to watch him in action. see his actions in relation to others.

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