Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is God complex?


Atheists such as Dawkins often argue that a complex creation such as the universe (or the Multiverse) requires a complex creator. If the creator is complex, these clever people think, then the odds of "him" existing are much less and so God is improbable. It would hysterical to hear what Kierkegaard would say, probably something like, "sure God is improbable, there's no better proof he's real." Aside from the ridiculous idea of attaching a probability to the likelihood of the basis of all that is existing, the atheist's point is to counter the design argument. Of course to make the argument they must assume God is like a big man in the sky rather than the ground of being.

Tillich argues that this big man in the sky is behind much atheism. It is an anecdotal observation that now seems to be backed up by some emerging data. It is certainly the case that atheists are embroiled in a struggle against the superego-like God whom they think of as a “big man in the sky.” Nothing is clearer for that than Dawkin’s approach to the reverse design arguments. In answering God arguments Dawkins takes God as totally a being alongside other beings and in fact seems to think he is perfectly, 1x1, analogous to a biological organism.[1] Dawkins spells it out in no uncertain terms. “why there almost certainly is no God.” Why? Because, a big man in the sky would have to be more complex than the universe he creates. Of course this is based upon the assumption that whatever reality entails has to reflect accurately and be limited to the information we glean from our little dust mote, from which we have never journeyed far.[2]

Dawkins is working against what he takes to be the most popular pro God arguments (one of the weakest) the monkey’s-writing-Shakespeare-by-accident argument. He couches it in terms of assembling a 747 from a scrap yard by means of a hurricane. [3] The creationist, whose argument this revises, couches his argument in terms of finding some living creature who is too improbable to be assumabled by accident. Improbability means complexity. The more complex something is the less likely it is to be assembled by accident. The creationist equates improbability with design. Dawkins points out that it’s not the Darwinians who are trying to get “something for nothing,” so to speak, in assuming that complexity could come about undersigned, but the creationists are seeking the “free lunch,” simply because they don’t recognize that “however statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by evoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the ultimate Boeing 747.”[4] Dawkins takes this assumption through the entire book. The view of God that he’s attacking is obviously that of a big man. It may be couched as “big mind” or even “universal mind” but it’s still an entity, a thing, something that has to consciously calculate or deliberate about what it’s doing. Never does he stop to consider that he might have the wrong idea of God. He spends long pages droning on and on about consciousness raising and implying that creationists are stupid and feminists are smarter,[5] never does it occur to him that he just might be dealing with the wrong concept of God.

On the other hand, we can’t understand God as impersonal force like the electro-magnetic or the strong force that would reduce God to being “a thing.” That would place God under the regime of being rather than understanding God as the foundation of being. There are a couple of good reasons not to do that. The depth of being is certainly one such reason. We know that being has depth then the basis of being can’t be just another thing like an impersonal force. The complexity argument is stupid, because it equates complexity with probability. The ground of being can’t be merely probable, either there’s a ground of being or there is not. If not then there can’t be any depth of being either. If there is depth there is a ground, and if there is a ground it can’t be just another thing. There has to be alternative to the stark contrast between “personal” in the sense of human consciousness and impersonal in the sense of dead matter. The stark choice between being en soir and por soir[6] is really limited. There has to be some other aspect of being that is either both or neither, or perhaps both and neither. To find the solution to the personal problem we probably have to venture away from the confines of Tillich’s theology, since he never considers the need to understand God as personal. Perhaps the major reason, however, to understand God as “personal” is because most mystics experience God in this way. The sense of the numinous is the most profound mystical experience next to the undifferentiated unity and is certainly as prevalent if not more so. This experience, the sense of the numinous is a deep all pervasive sense of love emanating form everything and love for everything, and most especially love for people. Love itself demands the personal.

Mystical experiences can be divided into two types, the introvertive and the extrovertive. Researchers are divided as to which of these two experiences is the most advanced. Introvertive is impersonal; all sense of differentiation in reality is lost. This state is supposed to be beyond word, thought or image. The extrovertive experience transfers the unity to nature. One distinguishes between different objects but an underlying sense of unity pervades all. In contrast to these two experiences, which are perhaps different stages of the same thing, there is also another kind of mystical experience called ‘the numinous.” This experience is derived from the work of Rudolph Otto and his sense of the holy.[7] The numinous is an experience of personal dimension in the divine. It is a sense of all pervasive presence, usually a presence of love. In this experience one usually sees God as personal and loving. Both of these experiences are properly mystical. “Although it is possible to separate the numinous and mystical as two poles of religious experience, they are ultimately united, mystical experiences of unity (variously expressed) can be numinous as well.”[8] One could proceed on the assumption that the personal is the illusion and fades away when the mystic gains more advancement. That doesn’t really seem to be what the research shows. It seems more like a matter of which aspect one emphasizes they are actually two poles of the same thing.

Thus we can separate the numinous and the mystical for conceptual purposes, depending upon whether the personal or impersonal aspects of foundational reality are emphasized. Mysticism tends toward the impersonal and numinous tends toward the personal. As we shall shortly note measurement studies can identify both numinous and mystical experiences, based upon whether one experiences a sense of presence (numinous experience) or a sense of unity (mystical experience)…that both components are properly mystical has been briefly noted above and extensively argued by Hood…their importance is that from a social psychological perspective they are part of what religions defend as the experience of the sacred.[9]

In other words we can’t write off the personal dimension as the illusory any more than we can the other pole of the unity. They are both intrinsic to the foundational nature of religious belief.

Mystical experience is seen by many as the actual basis of religion and the ground of the mature end of Christian experience. Religion is more than merely “jumped up” ethics, or primitive failed science. There is a core to all religious belief that is rooted in the sense of the numinous, the idea that something special, something “holy” is set apart from the mundane world. That in itself introduces an experiential dimension into the concept of the religious. That differs markedly from the "big sky guy," who is merely amplified humanity. The atheist makes the analogy to humanity based upon this well wore cliche of God probably becuase it's most people are introduced to. That's a necessary hazard of human thought, in seeking to illustrate God's love it's only natural to compare God tot he most loving things we know, mother and father. Then when we do that we also open our God images up to the most negative and frustrating relationships we know, for those of us not had blessed with a loving postoperative home. Moreover, all people have friction with parents and problems with super-ego, so that just equates God with problems. There's really no other way around it, we just have to keep in mind that the "father image" is a metaphor.


Analogical language automatically carries a negative side. Since God's father-likeness is analogical it is also automatically connected to a "not-likeness." God is like a father in some ways, and therefore, not like like a father in other ways. Since God is not really a big man, or a biological organism, the terms "simple" and "complex" don't fit. How can the basis for all that is be compared to anything? What else would exist alongside God prior to creation of anything to which God might be compared? God's state of being is the basis of what being is, sense "being itself" how can one compare the nature of being in it's primordial essence to anything? Another argument is that complexity is based upon parts. These people think of God as made up of parts like the human body is made of parts. Since God is not made of parts the comparison to complexity falls apart. Some atheists try to deny that the argument turns on parts.

CARM 2/20/11, no 10 in thread

Originally Posted by HRG View Post
But the argument is algorithmic, not biological. "Complex" means able to plan and store a large amount of information. In any case, if you are not composed of parts, you cannot store information. Each bit needs a specific part where it goes, and different bits need different parts.
That would only be true if you limited to biological or physical nature. He's still trying to compare God to things in the world. God would have to be complex to plan, that's only true if you are a big man not if you are the ground of being. Is it true that God actually plans? No more so than it is that God actaully calculates. Why would "he" need to do either? I think part of the problem with athesits is that they just have no imagination. They just can't conceive of something that challenges their scientific learning.


P.S. The author of the answer you quoted does not understand Dawkins' argument and present just the often rebutted fallacies of Scholastic theology.
doesn't matter. there's no comparison to the ground of being so there' no point in using the term. "complex" in relation to what?
I'll quote the source he refers to in a movement. This is truly a lame response. He doesn't understand: crank up the irony meter. The arrogant Austrian mathematician goes on his way really believing he's socked to my argument by reinforcing a inept comparison and not understanding the concept of ground of being.

My understanding of scinece is complex compared to my one year old great niece's understanding. My understanding is, according to HRG, simple compared to his understanding. What if I was the only human being ever to do scinece in a thousand years, would my understanding be complex or simple? you can't even say it without comparing it to something. One cannot say "it would be complex" without thinking "compared to the lack of any scientific thinking for a thousand years."

the source to which he refers is a blog that ceased publication in 2007, unfortunately because it was by someone I don't know but someone who understand the basic concepts of the Christian God, rooted in the history of the chruch; extremely rare.

Deeper Waters

Dawkins should know that in Christian thought, God in his nature is immaterial. What parts does he think he can speak of then? Do such questions even occur to him? One cannot know because Dawkins simply does not interact with his opponents. Evolutionists prefer to not argue when all their opponents simply get their arguments only from YEC materials. Fair enough. (To those who are YEC, I do recommend reading all materials so you can have an idea of what your opponents believe and why. I have met a number of YECs who unfortunately think being YEC means denying inerrancy and a literal Adam and Eve.) However, Dawkins seems to get all his information secondhand, as if he was reading it off of Wikipedia, which would make a lot of sense.

What do I mean however by God being simple then? I dare not simply say Dawkins has it wrong without entering my own information in. I mean that God is not made up of parts. There is no combination in him. For instance, I as a human being possess a human nature that is tied to this material that I dwell in. Both of these also have existence. They do not existence necessarily but have a derived existence.

An angel is different. Now to my atheist friends, even if you do not believe in angels, Aquinas does. His argument does not depend on their existence, but it shows his way of thinking and it does not refute his point to say “There are no angels.” An angel is an immaterial being, but it does not have necessary existence. It too has derived existence. Angels are not separated by matter seeing as they’re immaterial, so they differ by essence. Each angel is his own essence. Therefore, an angel has an essence with no matter. It is purely essence plus the existence it receives. In this, it’s essence is simple as it has no parts, but it is not absolutely simple in that it has essence plus existence.

However, God has his essence AS his existence. What it means to be is God. God is being without limitations. Of course, Aquinas works this out further, but it means there is no combination in God. It also means His existence is not caused as what can cause existence? Something outside of existence? Then this non-existing thing is acting to cause existence, which is absurd. Is it another existing thing? There cannot be two such beings for there is nothing they would differ by and if two things differ by nothing, they are the same.

Anyone who has studied Aquinas briefly would know that Dawkins fumbled entirely on this one, and the shame is that these are the first arguments Dawkins attempts to refute. Even if one is an atheist, one should accept that Aquinas was a brilliant mind and that he reasoned out his arguments well. That does not mean they’re right, but that does mean one should take them seriously and not write them off hastily.

If any atheist uses this kind of argument, you can rest assured you are talking to a neophyte in the area of theology who does not understand the concepts he argues against. It is the shoddy research of the new atheists in this manner that further to me realize the bankruptcy of their position. It is simply outrage against a belief system they have not taken the time to understand. Sadly, this comes from the people who are supposedly the beacons of reason.

I urge the reader to read the entire piece as it is worth reading. Here is a summary of my answers to the issue:

(1) the argument that the cause of a complex effect must be complex is still a violation of evolution. By "violation" I mean a contradiction.

(2) Ditto contradicts unified field.

(3) there is sense in using terms like "complex" or simple of God because there's nothing to compare God to other than his creation. This may mean Aquinas is wrong to call God "simple" but I think not because he's speaking in a certain sense. ie God is not made of parts.

(4) "Complex" in relation to biology means parts. God is not made of parts.

Sure God is antisocially complex but that is not the sense in which Dawkins et al assume

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, op cit (chapter 1 fn 5) on line page 138. all of these references are on line page numbers.

[2] Ibid, 138

[3] Ibid. he attributes the scrap yard image to Fred Hoyle.

[4] Ibid, 138

[5] 189-140

[6] en soir = “being in itself.” Por Soir = being for itself. These are terms used by Jean-Paul Sartre in his Being and Nothingness. The “being in itself” refers to inanimate objects and being for itself refers to conscious being. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, New York:Hazel E Barnes Philosophical Library, 1948m 1943

[7] Ralph Hood, Spilka et al, op cit 292

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 293

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Atheist Fear of Gardening


Recently I was posting on a message board and I made the remark that the search for God is in the heart. An atheist responded by saying "I don't make decisions based upon emotionalism." That response made me angry becasue it's so pretensions. The very same guy, Mr. Rational thought will turn right around and wail in the most emotional tirade about how deeply he hates the Bible and hates God for telling him what to do. The Audacity of this God person! Atheism has a strong tendency to reduce everything deep, complex, and richly textured to the most banal they can get. They constantly reduce "life transformation," the upshot my religious experience arguments to "gett'n happy." Once when going on about the empirical scientific studies from academic peer reviewed journals an atheist said this was ministers emailing their people and asking them to report on how they are "gett'n happy." This reminds me of how everything the atheists have going, their entire project is nothing more than an attempt to hide the phenomena and reduce everything to such a truncated view of reality that all one has left to turn to is their shallow and simplistic view.

They do this by mocking and ridiculing the concepts of depth, being, and faith that are required to believe. They do it by arguing that the only form of knowledge is science, the only valid scinece is empirical evidence, the only valid form of empirical evidence that which agree with their views (the religious experience studies are empiric and scientific but they mock and ridicule them as "ministers emailing their flock." It makes sense that they would think of "the heart" as "emotionalism." That's becuase their greatest fear is "the subjective." That is, feelings. they are terribly afraid of feelings. That's becuase if they allow themselves to feel they will be convicted of their sin. I've seen atheists actually deny the concept of "the heart." They have ridiculed it as "the heart pumps blood." So the whole idea of an inner life is abhorant to them. That's probably because if they dealt with the inner life they would have no choice but to be convicted and believe. It is entirely essential that the believer cultivate the inner life. Inner is what faith in God is all about. There is no real point in belief in God without the inner life. Before discussing the nature of inner life let me remove the charge of emotionalism.

First the concept of the heart is not ridiculous, not based upon magic, not difficult to prove. The idea of the "heart" is merely based upon the Greek term "cardia." The Greeks did not see the brain as the seat of the intellect they saw the chest as the place of the intellect. This is because when one feels emotions deeply one can feel a palpable constriction in the chest, the pulse races, the blood pumps faster and that gives the link between the blood pump in the chest, the Greek term "cardia" which we adopted to refer to the pump but the Greeks used to refer to the "inner being" as the seat of feelings and emotions. The Biblical term heart, which atheists confuse with spirit or soul and thus react to indignantly (as they react to everything) is just the will, the desire, the sense of conviction in deep seated ideas we care about. Secondly, this is not "emotionalism." There's a lot ore to "the inner life" than just being emotional. What most people mean when they say "emotionalism" is not an organized philosphy that says based decisions upon feelings. The term is a pejorative destined to mock and ridicule anyone whose decision making process is other than the atheist ideology. There is much more to the "inner life" than just emotion. Existentialism and the concepts of self authentication are included in "inner life." The intellect is part of the inner life. Going about the business of the intellectual life style, reading, thinking, mediating, this is all part of inner life.

No one actually bases decisions upon raw feelings, as an example of inner life. Immature people make rash decisions based upon raw feelings, but that's not the aim of Christian life. When we speak of "the heart" in connection with decision making, such as faith based decisions, we are talking about conviction. Conviction can be borne of deep intellectual analysis, logic, and deliberation as much as it can "feelings." Feelings per se are not necessarily 'emotionalism' either. One doesn't make decisions based upon "I hate X therefore I will not do X." Actually feelings can play different roles in decision making and belief but they must always be grounded in reason. The most important feeling in relation to faith is a sense of conviction that is beyond a mere physical sensation or emotion. Conviction is reducible to just emotion. Conviction stems from the deep seated assurance that a course is correct, that comes from reasoning it out as well as determining actual "feelings."

Atheists will try to mock and ridicule the notion of the inner life. This is because they mock and ridicule anything that doesn't stack up to their ideology about truncated reality. They must collapse reality to eliminate possibles, so one doesn't seek God.the way they do this is to prescribe only one aspect aspect of reality as real, that which is empirically derived from scientific observation. Now a good deal of empirical scientific data disproves atheism but of they can't allow that. Evidence which does not support their conclusions they reduce to their canon of prescribed reality by indicting it's scientific nature in all manner of bogus ways. They have to create the idea that only that which supports the ideology is valid. To do this they cling to the surface of reality. Things are only what can be gleaned form surface level facts of existence of physical objects and nothing else. There is no depth of being, they must create confusion about the very concept of being. They will call it abstraction and say it's pretend and so forth. Just as they label faith as "pretending" and what have you. Everything feeds back into the central thesis; reality is surface level only. That is the level of reality for them because that's what their knowledge controls. Anything deep requires thought, and thought is liberating. If one begins to think about reality and what depth means one begins to unravel the mythology that says only transcribe scientifically derived things can be in existence. To unravel that is to step onto the road to belief and they must avoid that at all costs.

For the believer the situation is just the opposite. Not that the believer needs to pretend, quite the contrary. Pretense in belief is deception. Faith is not about pretending it's about seeking truth. If we are not seeking the TRUTH with a capitals we are not living in faith. We are not cultivating the inner life if we ware not seeking truth. Even if that means digging up some deeply rooted and cherished misconceptions we still have to do it. That statement is not some radical prescription I got form Paul Tillich, it's a statement I got from very conservative A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. The situation is the opposite of that described as "atheist tactics" above because it means expecting that there is more to reality than meets the eye and that finding it will entails a search based upon global knowledge, not just one method. My "global" in don't mean the occult I mean both science and philosophy as well as a phenomenological approach and mystical experience. The mystical is not someone one can control so that should come under the heading "phenomenology." A phenomenological approach would work best with mystical experience; allow the phenomena to suggest it's own categories.

The inner life requires cultivation. We can't just expect to stop with belief, nor can we imagine that constant argument and constant apologetic is spiritual nourishment. The ability to do a sustained apologetically debate requires a strong inner life, it not a source of inner life. That's not say that doing apologetic on a regular basis doesn't' help build the inner life. Yet it can't all be oriented around arguing about God's existence. The primary aspect of innerl ife that is the water for the roots of the plant of faith is prayer. I'm going to start mixing metaphors here but prayer is the nourishment of relationship with God and relationship with God is the foundation upon winch one is able to conduct a successful apologetically approach. We have to draw a line in the sand and ignore the atheists, forget the arguments, move away from that and go into your own space and deal with God. We have to do this every day. You don't have to get down on your knees and shut our eyes real tight. You don't have to speak in a stilted King James fashion, you don't have to even do discursive inner monologue, just focus on God.

I find that the thing that works best is the old fashioned prayer and praise. That may sound incongruous with all my high and mighty liberal theology, but the hold over from my old charismatic days is that prayer and praise works best to bring in the sense of God's presence and open one up to the possibilities of God. There's no formula, once might experiment and find what really excites one on an individual level. For me it's praise thing. It's very repetitious but singing works. The older hymns are more meaningful, they have more concepts in them. Repetition is good too though because it's like a mantra, enables focus. Meditating upon the presence of God is important. When you feel a sense of presence however slight, dwell on it, think about it, cultivate the contact with it. Study the Bible ever day and pray every day. Prayer is not a list of wants. There's a time in prayer for presenting petitions. First get into the spirit, praise God and mediate on God until you feel close to the divine and then present wants when you feel led to. We should all pray at lest two hours a day as a minimal effort. Do I do that? NO! Sometimes I do. It goes in phases. I went through a phase a couple of times when I prayed four hours in row every day. That's not even accomplishment there are people who pray much more than that.

It's a discipline, the firsrt time you try it will be hard to make five minutes. Do it at a regular time every day and increase by a few minutes every day. There are endless schemes for Bible study. Don't just look up answers to atheist attacks that's as bad as doing the atheist thing and only reading it to find problems. Read what speaks to you and dweel on it. Meditate on the ideas the thoughts. There are endless books on all manner of meditation. Meditation doesn't always mean eastern style with mantra. Discursive reasoning can be meditation. Cartesian style meditation is through development of ideas. Mark out a passage, look up every word, read a long way around before and after to get the context. Ask basic questions about context, what's the point of this? Why was it written? Who is it speaking to? There are tons of study guide things on the bible one can find. For internet message board people who are arguing with atheists one of the major hang up is going to be overcoming the doubt tape atheists have constantly tried to imprint on your brain. You are going to have to learn to respect the word of God all over again. I recommend that book Models of Revelation by Avery Dulles. That's not a sprituiaized study guide has nothing to do with bible study. It's on the nature of academic work about the nature of Biblical revelation. It's important because it will sharpen one's sense understanding about the nature of the Bible and enable one to endure the problems encounter in the Bible. One of the major helps it bestows is in understanding that it doesn't matter if there are problems in the Bible. Problems is not a reason to trash the Bible the way the atheist have attempted. The intellectual and philosophical approach si part of the inner life.

For the average person the spiritual aspects are going to be more accessible than the intellectual. One can educate oneself academically but there is no substitute for learning in a university environment. People guy reference books for bible study, works like Strong's Concorde. That stuff has gotten so popular it's much more available online than in hard copy. There's no substitute for taking Greek. Those references books are biased by doctrine and they are all written by conservatives and biased by their doctrines. Take some Greek classes and use the secular Greek Lexicon of Classical Greek (Lidell and Scott) along with Strong's. It's hard to give yourself a college education. It's a good idea to take of seminary classes if you are lucky enough to be in a town with a seminary. I really don't understand why atheists refuse to study. They would be more effective as atheists. That makes me think their real purpose is just emotional (ironically sense they are afraid of being emotional) they are just looking for a place to vent.

The perennial danger is always deception. The potential of making a mistake probably scares a lot of people off from spiritual life. One must stay grounded. Get grounded then stay grounded. We do that in three ways: fellowship, Bible study, prayer, in reverse order. "Fellowship" has huge drawbacks. Churches are rough. We are social creatures and social support is necessary. Just a small group can be a big help. Look for a place where they are not condmening or legalistic and where they treat people right and seeking God is their top priority. Don't fear mistakes so terribly because Grace covers a multitude of sins.

Don't let atheist destroy your faith. Don't allow mocking and ridiucle to discourse you from seeking God. There are intellectual answers to every intellectual issue. The real issues that kill faith are daily living issues for that we need to be strong in a daily living sort of way. That's what prayer strengthens us in. The intellectual life takes care of itself if you cultivate it, and the inner life includes the intellectual life. The spirit and the intellectual are not contradictions. The two can be integrated and working on the integration is a great project for the inner life. It's something we work on every day and it's a major focus of our lives. It gives us meaning and fulfillment. I am reminded of the phrase at the end Voltaire's Candide. He says several times, "we must tend our garden." The context is speaking of a literal garden where several aging and starving castaways have wound up living together and pulling for mutual survival after a life of carnage and hardship. The phrase is usually taken as a metaphor, mainly it's the last thing said in the book and repeated. The metaphor implies the cultivation of an inner life, or a life of the mind just as one tends and cultivates a garden. It must be tended and cultivated every day, this is what keeps up alive, as the physical garden kept Candide and his friends alive at the end. Don't let atheists stop you from tending your garden.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Nature of Theology

The Modern Theologians
David F. Ford

see also Mapping Modern Theology
by Kelly M. Kapic

This is not a book review. I decided atheists bad mouth theoloyg as "stupid" an made up and I'm always telling them they don't know anything about theology. So I decided it was time to teach them something about it.

What Theology is not.

Since so few atheists know what theology is I'll spell it out. First let's say what it's not:

theology is not apologetics

the average atheists thinks theology is a high and fancy version of apologetic. apologetic is a subset of ethology but it's really a step child. Most of the major theologians, especially liberals, regard apologetics as a comic book version of theology. Liberals don't believe in hell so they don't have a sense urgency about saving people who they are not concerned with arguing opponents into he ground over belief. Back in the middle ages theology was concerned with proving the truth of the faith against the Muslims but that was almost a thousand years ago!

Not static

another thing theology is not is static. It's not the anything like it was a thousand years ago. For the first thousand years of Christian theology it was dominated by Augustine (not quite a thousands but in it's first thousand years). He said God = truth. Logic and reason were bound up closely with God and reasoning meant evoking God.

Aquinas is the one who changed this and gave us the idea that reason is independent of bleief. One can be a theologian and be an atheist. Modern theology has evolved to that point. There aren't many atheists in the ranks of modern theologians (Tillich is not an atheist) but there could be and are some.

Theology is not "making things up."

a lot of atheists express the idea that theologians sit in a chair and go "O think God has a green robe." the others "NO! of course not, he would more divine if he a blue robe."

Theology is an intellectual pursuit. It has it's own canons an it's own methods, puerility of method. they do not involve must making things up. There are ways to go about discovering and proving things. they do invovles, at times,scientific work.

atheist think scinece is the only form of knowledge, but they so ignorant of scinece they don't even realize there are multiples branches some are quite different. They just disvalue social science completely (social scinece is to atheist thinking as apologetic is to liberal theology).

Theology does not need to be a twin of science. All knowledge is not cast in the mold of scientific thinking. Replicability is nonsense if you are in a field that doesn't allow replicability. There are clearly scientific fields in which you can't set up a replicable experiment or at least not easily: social scineces, astronomy, history.

History might be more analogous to theology than others forms of scinece. Among sciences history sort of stands alone. It's not really a science but it wants to be a social science yet it has to reject certain scientific musts, such as replicablity. History is not respected by atheists but I think most of them have to sort of let it be.

What Theology is

There definitions of theology: one is ancient the other modern.

Ancient: At. Augustine said "theology is faith seeking understanding." Theology was construed as an explication of faith.

Modern: Participation in and study of a religious tradition or body of work pertaining to religious belief.

The modern view is the result of social evolution. Theology has evolved to become a participant observer based means of studying a given religious tradition. It need to be based upon belief in God. One can be a theologian and an atheist although most are believers. There actually are not very many evangelical theologians. Most theologians are liberal because theology is an academic discipline.

Theology is a web of sub-disciplines all doing different things, for different reasons and studying in different ways. It invovles textual criticism and apologetic, but also doctrinal theology, historical theology, Biblical theology, philosophy of religion, eschatology, ekklesiology, soteriology, ontology and many others.

Methods very according to subject matter. There wouldn't be much point in trying to use scientific for Biblical ethology, but even there it is done. Textual criticism is important for Biblical theology and that scientific principles. Modern theology is in every major university in the world. It's an academic discipline and intellectual discipline.

One can apply scientific methods to anything, theology is no exception. Since theology is not science per se it's not a strike agaisnt it that doesn't produce an original methodology that mimicks scinece.

theology is not making things up there are methods of regulation that allow for checks. the common is logic, also Biblical exegesis but not all theology is biblical, or even based upon any Holy document.

Tilich's method of correlation expropriates a scientific method. It does have a means of verification. That it cn't replicated in a laboratory does not make it unscientific. there are disciplines in scinece that don't have replication in that sense: astronomy, social science, history, geology.

Theology is unique. It can't be reduced to other disciplines. this is because it's directly involved with Hurleigh tradition and the religious a prori sets religious belief apart as it's own thing. Just because it uses ideas from other disciplines doesn't mean it can be reduced to those other disciplines. Western thought has grown so complex that the time of water tight compartments for all the disciplines is now over. We have to be interdisciplinary. Just becuase theology is interdisciplinary doesn't mean it reduces to other disciplines. There is a distinction between theology and religion, but the task of theology is to explicate religious faith for this reasoned it can't reduce to other disciplines.

It's not psychology even though it might entail using psychological data.It's job is not to psychoanalyze religious belief. It doesn't reduce to ethics, even though ethics is a sub-discipline, it's ethics as it relates to the given religious tradition and it's ideas.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Responses on the Religious a priori Argument


On Monday's post I talked about my religious a priori argument. HRG (poster on CARM) sort of walked into it. This is a look at a response that MkeWC gave. Mike is a pretty bright guy. In 13 years of arguing with atheists on the net he's the first one I've met who really understands Derrida.

It's interesting that you say religion is derived phenomenologically, therefore it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it.

The problem is that phenomenology has been critiqued into the dust. It can't do without something that synthesizes the manifold of phenomena, and no one has ever offered a coherent account of how that could be. It always ends up in metaphysical speculation: Husserl, Heidegger, Jean-Luc Marion, they all end up finding a substrata of presence that finally cannot be supported.
Of course that's a pretty exaggerated claim. Any popular school of thought has been "critiqued ad nausium." Or "into the dust." That is not to say that he has any real criticisms of the way I used Tillich's Heideggerian based phenomenology in understanding the religious a prori. Although his initial description of the a prori, it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it, is a good description of what that means. The claim that phenomenology has never offered a coherent account of the manifold nature of phenomena is a question begging and ironic claim. The thrust of Heidegger's phenomenology is to impressing sense data into preconceived categories and allow the data to suggest it's own category. A good example of what I mean is seen in a recent 'discussion' (p'ing contest) with an atheist on CARM who keeps habitually refereeing t religoius experience as "funny feelings." This atheist will not alter that term no matter how I have explained that it's purposely derisive, doesn't describe anything that corresponds to RE and is not ever used in any of the studies. The typical atheist fear of the subjective and hatred of experience is used as a preconceived category in which this atheist heard any kind of data that would contradict the usual atheist ideology.

Since the point of Heideggerian phenomenology is to allow the data to suggest the categories themselves, in the above example this would be done by perhaps description RE the way those who experience it describe it, then the claim that it has never found a coherent explication of the manifold nature of experience is just saying "gee these guys don't want preconceived categories don't have any preconceived categories." How about that? That like criticizing the army as "too military." That's like criticizing the courts system as "too bound by legal conventions."

Mike goes on:
Besides that, phenomenology was developed as a philosophical tool. That contradicts your statement that religion is not derived from other disciplines.
I didn't say religion is derived from phenomenology. I said we should use a phenomenological approach to understand it.

Induction is not a cheat. In your example about balls dropping from a tower, we know they will fall at the same rate because physics tells us they will. You're right we only ever see particular balls, but that doesn't matter to physics.
That's really circular reasoning, by way of being question begging. He doesn't understand that this example is right out of Karl Popper's major work. Without extrapolating by way of inductive logic we would have to watch every case of the dropping of balls to make sure that it always worked the same say. Yet in using inductive we automatically consign a lot of things to falling between the cracks. Of course Popper's point was that you can't derive regular law like statements from general principles. The nature of empiricism demands empirical observation. If this is not to be endless it must be extrapolated inductively. His statement assumes there's a rule book of physics already written and waiting to be consulted even in the very early days before Newtonian physics. If laws of physics are derived entirely descriptively when how can we have a preconceived rule that "physics tells us they will." That's really cheating empiricism. It's quite ironic because it means he's evoking the preconceived category that phenomenology seeks to avoid.

Causal induction is an entirely valid principle. However, this does not disprove miracles.
I didn't say that induction is not valid. I said it has problems it runs afoul of impossing a preconceived rule upon experience, and in the need to extrapolate things fall through the cracks. What I meant by that was miracles. Just because 99.9% of cases work a certain way, dead men don't rise and walk, doesn't mean 100% of cases work that way. Since miracles are supposed to be impossibilities where's the sense in evoking standard expectation?

You're right that science cannot finally chase away the possibility of miracles, defined as an event caused by a supernatural force. But that just establishes a negative knowledge: "we don't know if miracles are possible or not." Note that this is different from saying "we know miracles are, in principle, possible."
All epistemic gaps must be crossed with the assumption of positive side rules. We do this in everything. Otherwise we would have to sit down, stay silent and starve to death because we can never bee 100% sure of anything. In all of our major epistemic gap crossings we assert the positive side. The cogito, "I think, therefore, I am" taken by foundationalists to be absolute proof of the most indubitable premise, is a positive affirmation of the lack of knowledge that the "I am isn't a different I than the I that says "I am." Any principle that says "I have no reason to make that assumption" is mere turning the negative aspect of knowledge in the face of a gap in knowledge into a possessive assertion.

But you cheat and say that science's inability to discern miracles produces that positive knowledge. Hence, you just say there have been 100 resurrections in the past, without feeling the need to provide any details.
That's not true at all. I did actually document a couple of sources. I was speiifically reffering the book by Duffin (recently reviewed here) Medical Miracles about her research i the Vatican Archives. I don't have space to reproduce her whole book in a text box. That's a cheap attack because no one does on a message board have that kind of space. No one expects that. Giving a printed source is fine for official intercollegiate debate it should be fine for a message board. There's a gap on the message board where one guys "I don't have time to look it up but I doubt it" the one says "It's true I read it" but he doesn't give it. What can you do it's not a official event? you just let it go. One can go look it up if one cares, and rarely anyone does.

You can't get from that negative knowledge (we don't know if supernatural caused events are possible) to positive knowledge (we know they are possible) without first providing a rigorous concept of what that force is. Which means you have to prove God exists before you can claim miracles exist.

That's horse manure. What he's saying is we have to know all about God with absolute certainty before we can assume God. That's not fair. physicists don't play that way. When atheist use the multivariate as an example to the fine tuning argument they are using an argument that has absolutley no empirical backing. We have no evidence other than hypothetical mathematics that such a thing exits. Notice Mike is also diong a "hide the ball" maneuver in asserting that my only basis for argument is negative side assertions, we can't disprove miracles. He's ignoring the fact that I've given a pile of miracle evidence in Lourdes miracles and in Casdroph and Catholic saint making miracles and Vatican archival research.

Without proof that God exists, the hypothesis that a supernatural force caused a particular event will only ever be that, a hypothesis. And one that is entirely untestable. It can never be wrong; it can only be accepted as right on the basis of faith.
That is a totally ludicrous statement. The miracle appeals are a ratioanl warrant for beleif in God. He's saying you have to prove God before you an argue for proof of God.If that were the case you could never make the argument. If we did physics that way before we do any research on dark matter we must already prove it exists. If we take that dictum down a peg to providing some form of verisimilitude then have that in spades with the 200 studies on religious experience. The Lourdes evidence supplys that concern a prori.

The other thing is, miracle stories always come with caveats that limit investigation. They always happen in the distant past, or in distant countries, or they are on the order of "God healed my sore back."
That is obviously not true. My father was dead then came to life. That event coincided with my dream that the Pope brought him to me and said "he will be ok." That was not long ago or in a foreign country, not the time it happened it was right then. The Lourdes miracles are immediate they are not long ago and far away.

With the exception of the resurrection of Jesus and the creation act itself, these events are never used as explanations of anything in the historical record. They never seem to have much effect on history at all. Maybe they happened, maybe then didn't.

That's because of the way modern historiography is construed. The ground rules for history as a modern social scinece rule out any but a naturalistic account. Jurgen Moltmann's rules change argument, the "history making" aspect, allows miracles to be brought in the back door. Moreover, the HRG (yes the guy on CARM) peremise that laws of physics an nature are totally descriptive open the door to further descriptions. There is no law-like statement in the universe that say "thou shalt not have violation of naturalism." Violations are just further observation of the behavior of the universe.

The whole post of Monday's post was that HRG steped in the trap by arguing in a circular fashion that physical laws are nothing but descriptions yet we have to rule out any miraculous idea on its face because we don't have such descriptions. Yet we do have them so there is no basis upon which to rule them out.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Things Fall Through the Cracks: The Religous a priori


Discussion on CARM over the weekend revealed some interesting developments. I feel that the way one echange worked out it more or less confrims one of the first God arguments I ever made on the net. This is my religious apriori argument:

The point is that things fall through the cracks. Scientific induction seeks to create a probabilistic average and then establish a regularity of observation based upon the probability. On that basis miracles and supernature are ruled out. Since things do fall through the cracks, there's no basis for asserting miracles don't happen. The regularity of description can't be taken as solid as long as observation is not 100% accurate.


(1) Scientific reductionism loses phenomena by re-defining the nature of sense data and quailia. (premise)

(2)There are other ways of Knowing than scientific induction

(3) Religious truth is apprehended phenomenologically, thus religion is not a scientific issue and cannot be subjected to a materialist critique

(4) Religion is not derived from other disciplines or endeavors but is a approach to understanding in its own right
(inference from 3)

Therefore, religious belief is justified on its own terms and not according to the dictates or other disciplines (conclusion)

In my dealings with atheist in debate and dialogue I find that they are often very committed to an empiricist view point. Over and over again I hear the refrain "you can't show one single unequivocal demonstration of scientific data that proves a God exists." This is not a criticism. It's perfectly understandable; science has become the umpire of reality. It is to scientific demonstration that we appear for a large swath of questions concerning the nature of reality. The problem is that the reliance upon empiricism has led to forgetfulness about the basis of other types of questions. We have forgotten that essentially science is metaphysics, as such it is just one of many approach that can be derived from analytical reasoning, empiricism, rationalism, phenomenology and other approaches.

Problem with Empiricism

Is empirical evidence the best or only true form of knowledge? This is an apologetics question because it bears upon the arguments for the existence of God.

Is lack of empirical evidence, if there is a lack, a draw back for God arguments?
I deny that there is a lack, but it has to be put in the proper context. That will come in future threads, for this one I will bracket that answer and just assume there no really good empirical evidence (even though I think there is).

I will ague that empiricism is not true source of knowledge by itself and logic is more important.

True empirical evidence in a philosophical sense means exact first hand observation. In science it doesn't really mean that, it implies a more truncated process. Consider this, we drop two balls of different size from a tower. Do they fall the same rate or the bigger one falls faster? They are supposed to fall at the same rate, right? To say we have empirical proof, in the literal sense of the term we would have to observe every single time two balls are dropped for as long as the tower exists. We would have to sit for thousands of years and observe millions of drops and then we couldn't say it was truly empirical because we might have missed one.

That's impractical for science so we cheat with inductive reasoning. We make assumptions of probability. We say we observed this 40,000 times, that's a tight correlation, so we will assume there is a regularity in the universe that causes it to work this way every time. We make a statistical correlation. Like the surgeon general saying that smoking causes cancer. The tobacco companies were really right, they read their Hume, there was no observation of cause and effect, because we never observe cause and effect. But the correlation was so tight we assume cause and effect.

The ultimate example is Hume's billiard balls. Hume says we do not see the cause of the ball being made to move, we only really see one ball stop and the other start. But this happens every time we watch, so we assume that the tight correlation gives us causality.

The naturalistic metaphysician assumes that all of nature works this way. A tight correlation is as good as a cause. So when we observe only naturalistic causes we can assume there is nothing beyond naturalism. The problem is many phenomena can fall between the cracks. One might go one's whole life never seeing a miraculous event, but that doesn't mean someone else doesn't observe such things. All the atheist can say is "I have never seen this" but I can say "I have." Yet the atheist lives in a construct that is made up of his assumptions about naturalistic c/e and excluding anything that challenges it. That is just like Kuhn's paradigm shift. The challenges are absorbed into the paradigm until there are so many the paradigm has to shift. This may never happen in naturalism.

So this constructed view of the world that is made out of assumption and probabilities misses a lot of experience that people do have that contradicts the paradigm of naturalism. The thing is, to make that construct they must use logic. After all what they are doing in making the correlation is merely inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning has to play off of deductive reasoning to even make sense.

Ultimately then, "empiricism" as construed by naturalist (inductive probabilistic assumptions building constructs to form a world view) is inadequate because it is merely a construct and rules out a priori much that contradicts

In this exchange that was part of another thread HRG basically admits to my suspicions about the circular nature of naturalistic assumption.

post 27

Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post

hey I didn't say the universe doesn't work in a regular fashion. I said there can be things that fall through the cracks. you ant got no crack catcher if we know what I mean.

There could be, but are they the best explanation for data ? My catcher catches less likely explanations.
you fail to offer one for my data.

Uuntil you prove your descriptive power is 100% you have no right not accept miracle claims as merely further observations that are beyond your observational powers.

I have a perfect right not to accept the miracle claims as genuine, and not based on a measurement error. That they are genuine is not the most likely explanation.
no you don't. the evidence has met a reasonable prima facie burden.

nope. you don't. statistics don't help there because they are supposed to be rare. besides your stats in error since the rule out those things that your ideology lead you to ban form reality.

The statistics are based on the number of observed deaths without a resurrection (10 billion observations) vs. claims of resurrections (a few).
sure but the number is inaccurate because you are ruling out the instances of resurrection in the past. like Duffin's archival research in the Vatican of 1,400 miracles. Many of them were resurrections.

And it's your ideology that wants us to accept the less likely explanations. All your arguments in favor of an actual resurrection are based on alleged regularities which are much less well confirmed as the regularity that dead bodies stay dead.

you can't use a regularity that you wont accept as law. your notion of it is totally one of observation and the counter observations change the game. you drag in the idea of "I have my record dead people stay dead," not always. in at least 100 cases they did not. you can't decide those are nixed becuase the other cases are not.

you want laws of physics when they suit you and you wont suspend them when they don't suit you. They don't suit you when they imply mind. a mind greater than yours.

(at some juncture he argues that UFO's and Bigfoot could be allowed in history and turned into fact by accepting miracles. "You have no way to prevent that."

sure I do. I don't have any reason to ague for them. you are making anther bad appeal to analogy. The idea that If we allow X into your thinking we might to allow this other case that very similar to X. So there can't be miracles because wee don't want UFO's. that's not logical.

Please cease your misdescription of my stance. I never said that I can logically exclude miracles (or UFOs). But miracles (or UFOs) are not the most likely explanation of our data.

they don't' have to be. You want to reduce natural law to observations. The observe rations you want to take as law are not complete. you want to erase those that don't suit your world view. This is absolute you can't have it both ways.

you want to create a law out of statistics but things fall through the cracks. that is exactly what my argument from religious a pirori says. you just confirmed one of my God arguments.

Get it ? Miracles are not the most likely explanation. Not an impossibility.

can't you see what a fallacy that is. It's an actual fallacy. it's in lgoic books even.
they don't have to be, when the evidence is empirical then the observations of the past font' apply. You cant' assert that the observations of the past have been 100% accurate.

how many times has this song and dance been done? every single time there's a miracle claim it's ruled out on the bias of others like it being ruled for the bogus reason that "it's more likely that it wont be."

on that basis women never get pregnant. on that basis lost children will never be found. On that basis armaments of space debris will never hit houses. All of thse we know do happen from time to time.

BTW, there are more eye-witness claims for UFO abductions than for the resurrection.

Once we introduce the concept of quality over quantity, quality of observation that goes way down.

It's not like we don't have any prima facie evidence to back up miracles. See my stuff Lourdes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Major Evidence that Jesus Really Exiseted As A Man In History.


There I was wondering what the heck I should blog about today and this guys along and says this stuff that gives me perfect material to respond to. He's an atheist or atheist or skeptic calling himself "analyst."Analyst misanalysed something becuase he asked me for the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. When I gave it to him he say "O that doesn't prove he existed." that's because you didn't ask that. Although one might gather that if he rose from the dead he probably existed.

Analyst says:
I took a brief look. Nothing there deals with the real problem: Every piece of evidence confirms that gospel Jesus never existed.

Of course he didn't tell me that was real issue he wanted answered. It's silly to say that "every piece of evidence confirms that he never existed." How can evidence confirm that? Especially since no one ever argued it in all of history until at least the 18th century if not the 19th. No enemies of Jesus, no coutner group to the Christians, no Jewish Rabbinical source, no one ever ever ever said anything that even vegly imply that he didn't exist. The Talmudists made up elaborate propaganda stories about him giving him a fictional history never ever imply that he didn't exist.

The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.

Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

Meta: This is what logicians call "argument from silence." It's just "these guys don't mention him." There are good  reasons why they don't. That's not proof becuase it doesn't nix the sources that do mention him. That these sources don't mention him does not mean much.

guys who do Mention him.

Skeptics will often allege that "no extra biblical evidence for Jesus' existence exists." This is far from the truth. All of these following historians, of first and early second century, mention Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure who existed in the first century CE, or they mention Christ.
* Thallus (c. 50-75AD)

*Phlegon (First century)

* Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, c.93)

* Tacitus (Annals, c.115-120)

* Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)

* Galen (various writings, c.150)

* Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).

* Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)

* Talmudic References( written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)

*Lucian (Second century)

*Numenius (Second cent.)

*Galerius (Second Cent.)

 See my links on Doxa for ingo

 here are links on Doxa to pages about some of these figures:

A.Josephus (3 pages)
C-D. Thallus and Phelgon
E. Lucian
F-H. Suetonius, Galen, Celsus,
I.Talmud (2 pages)


No one Ever questioned Jesus' existence in 1900 years of historiography about him. Before moving on let's talk about first century sources that mention  Jesus. The point is we don't have much i the way of anything form the first century and there is very little that doesn't mention Jesus (excluding Philo whose works are voluminous).

 First century Sources that don't mention Jesus.

[form JP Holding--Teckton Apologetics] Most of this comes from my friend J.P. Holding.

"A final consideration is that we have very little information from first-century sources to begin with. Not much has survived the test of time from A.D. 1 to today. Blaiklock has cataloged the non-Christian writings of the Roman Empire (other than those of Philo) which have survived from the first century and do not mention Jesus. These items are":

Of all these writers, only Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject."
 There aren't very many sources, so there have been writings about him but we don't have them. there are also reasons why he would not have been mentioned. 

Jp Holding:Tekton apologetics. again

We turn to John P. Meier [Meie.MarJ, 7-9] and Murray Harris [Harr.3Cruc, 24-27] for several reasons on this point:

a. Roman Historians were only concerned with issues that directly effected them where they lived, or pertained to the fortunes of the empire. He didn't address the Roman Senate, worte no treatesies, histories, poems or palys, never travaled outside of Palestine, and did not change the socio-economic situation in Paltestine. He was a strictly local affair, of regional importance only, in his own lifetime.

Harris adds that "Roman writers could hardly be expected to have foreseen the subsequent influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire and therefore to have carefully documented" Christian origins. How were they to know that this minor Nazarene prophet would cause such a fuss?"
Jesus and History
Online Electronics books

Edward C. Wharton

From Pagan Sources

"Palestine of the first century has been referred to as an unimportant frontier province in the Roman Empire. Those provincial governors assigned to that region of the world were often thought to have received hardship posts. Too, those who wrote the history of Rome were in the upper strata of Roman society and usually had a personal dislike of Orientals, disapproved of their religions and looked upon their superstitions as very un-Roman. [Micahel Green , Runaway World, Inter-Varsity Press, p. 12.] This partially accounts for the little trickles of information that comes from their pens about the Christian religion. They wrote about it only as it forced its way into the mainstream of their view. Yet what they did write is proof positive that Jesus Christ was both a real person and that he had made such an impact upon society that the Roman world found it increasingly difficult to disregard him."

 Holding again.

"Jesus marginalized himself by being occupied as an itinerant preacher. Of course, there was no Palestine News Network, and even if there had been one, there were no televisions to broadcast it. Jesus never used the established "news organs" of the day to spread His message. He travelled about the countryside, avoiding for the most part (and with the exception of Jerusalem) the major urban centers of the day. How would we regard someone who preached only in sites like, say, Hahira, Georgia?"
 He was unimportant, poor, migrant, in an empire the captial of which was very far away, ran by rich tyrannts and he could do nothing to imporve their power. Why should they have an interest in him?

Not concerned with Roman gods.

Jesus' bore a message of eschatological and spiritual significance about an obscure foreign God most Romans knew little about. They had no particular reason to see him as anything other than a strictly regional private matter concerning a religion that seemed barbaric and about which they had no interest.
 No evening News.
News travaled slowly, the distances were great. They had no mass communications. It took months for Rome to learn of events in Palestine, and most of the events there were of little interest to them. Moreover, his work only lasted three years. By the time he was begining to reach the height of his fame in Jerusalem word of his very existence might just be reaching Rome, where it would have been gretaed coldly with no real interest anyway. Than suddenly he was gone, exicuted as a torulbe maker and good ridence! Reports of his resurrection would not flood Rome as great astounding news, other supernatural claims were made all the time from all parts of the world, including Rome itself, so who would believe or care about this one?

 Analyst talks about philo:

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place -- when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

   Jesus Mythers seem to think Philo was some kind of historian who avidly recorded all the deeds of his people. He was not a historian, he did not live in Jerusalem but Alexandria. He was concerned with a contemplative life. He was a philosopher. He doesn't record the existence of any of the major people in Jerusalem in Jesus' life time. there's no evidence he visited Jerusalem during Jesus' ministry or death. The Catholic Encyclopedia says:"The best-known episode of his life is the voyage he made to Rome in 39;" Evey thing else was in Alexandria. If this trip to Rome is the best known episode of his lie  it seems obvious we would know if he went to Jerusalem during the ministry and death of Jesus. Once source says he visited Jerusalem but not when. One source I found suggest we don't know when the visited Jerusalem:
"Of his personal life, the only other incident narrated occurred on his one undated visit to Jerusalem (cf. De Providentia, in Yonge 1993: 755)." So it really is unfair to use him as a subject for this argument from silence (and being an argument from silence is bad enough).

 Real historians accept the historicity of Jesus without question and the Jesus mythers are actually conducting a campaign of resistance to real academic historiography. They make up their own standards that real historians don't use, such as "contemporary witness." They often say "we have no contemporary eye witnesses to Jesus life." Yes but real historians deal with things that happened hundreds of years before they were born so they don't look for "contemporary eye witnesses." They look for documents. A birth certificate would be great. WE are not going to find that. They probalby didn't even have them. The best we are going to do in dealing with a figure like Jesus who was not a governmental figure, not important to the rich and powerful., had nothing to do with Rome (which was the big time). Having nothing to do with Rome would be like expecting to find some little country preacher form Hobes New Mexico and expecting him to be world famous. If someone said "I went to the chruch in Springer (NM) where brother so and so preached." Their friend says "O you did not! he never existed because the Algonquin round table never talked bout him!" FDR never mentioned him in a speech. If he wasn't world famous he couldn't have existed.

Here are the major positive bits of evidence to prove that Jesus was a man in history. They are good enough. There is no evidence to prove miracles. that's not an issue of historical research anyway. Historians don't worry about that.

The Apostolic fathers provide a major link. The secular historians mentioned above aer also an important bit of evidence, but the Apostolic fathers provide direct links between people who knew Jesus as second century writers. Especially important are Papias who knew John and other eye witnesses to Jesus' ministry, and Irenaeus, who also knew Ploycarp, and Polycarp himself who also knew John the Apostle.

Irenaeus quoted his teacher Polycrp saying:

Fragments of the Lost Work

For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse-his going out, too, and his coming in-his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eyewitnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God's mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.

The first to head the list is Paul since his witness connects us with some histoircal source who actually set down the history of the early curch and were the first to do so, the four daughters of Philip of Hyropolis. See the pages on Doxa:

B.Clement of Rome
C.Philip of Hireopolis

The major source is the stuff the Talmud an the way it dove tails the what the Jesus Celsus. I have a couple of huge pages on the Talmudic testimony. Most of that is very hard to prove. There are some links that serve as dead giveaways. A history of the Talmud gives away the store on admitting Jesus existed:

There is a history of the Talmud

The Babylonian Talmud

translated by MICHAEL L. RODKINSON
Book 10 (Vols. I and II)
The History of the Talmud

from Vol I chapter II

Thus the study of the Talmud flourished after the destruction of the Temple, although beset with great difficulties and desperate struggles. All his days, R. Johanan b. Zakkai was obliged to dispute with Sadducees and Bathueians and, no doubt, with the Messiahists also; for although these last were Pharisees, they differed in many points from the teaching of the Talmud after their master, Jesus, had broken with the Pharisees

The index to this work indicates this statement was dealing with the late first century.

The real kicker is the comparison between Celsus and the Talmud. He was a Platonist and Polemical writer who lived toward the end of the first century. He sought to disprove Christianity. One way he tired was to get the goods on Jesus. So he went to the Jews and got them to him their propaganda about who this guy was. Thus, he's getting first century info that latter winds up int he Talmud. The very stuff that modern Rabbis say is not about Jesus and Celsus tell us it is. In includes such details as his mother was a hair dresser (in that culture the implication is a whore). He totally blows the Talmuists plausible deniability.

Origin quoting Celsus: Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god."

So we estabilsh:

(1) Mary was poor and worked with her hands

(2) husband was a carpenter

(3)Mary committed adultary with Roman soldier named Panthera. (where have we heard this before?)

(4) Jesus as bastard

(5) driven to Egypt where Jesus leanred magic.

All of these points are made in the Talmudic passages. This can be seen both above and on the next page. The use of the name Panthera is a dead give away. Clearly Celsus got this info from the Talmud. Christians never used the name Panthera. He could only hae gotten it form the Talmud and these are very charges the Talmudists made.

Here is a mishmash passage, which makes most of the points. Being from the Mishna it would draw upon first century material:

MISHNAH.[104b] If one writes on his flesh, he is culpable; He who scratches a mark on his flesh. He who scratches a mark on his flesh, [etc.] It was taught, R. Eliezar said to the sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh? He was a fool, answered they, proof cannot be adduced from fools. [Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? - Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? - his mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? - It is as we said in Pumbeditha: This is one has been unfaithful to (lit., 'turned away from'- satath da) her husband.] (Shabbath 104b)
 The following quotes are taken from Celsus On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987:


"Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and insavoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57).

why a Jew? or Philosopher? Celsus was obviously reading the Jewish sources. This is one of the charges made in the Talmud.

Here he claims to have secret knowledge that Christians don't have:

"I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62).
where is that from? It has to be the Talmud, or sources commonly drawn upon by the Talmud.

But how does this prove it was Jesus? Celsus sure thought it was. Apparently his Jewish contracts told him this is the straight facts on Jesus' life. We see that everywhere in the Talmud Jesus is talked about as a living person,and connections are made to his family and genealogy.

Celsus pushes the knowledge back to late second century, but due to the availability or Rabbinical writings it must have been around for some time before that. The Jews were very conscious of genealogies and family connections. why would they not pick up on the fact that Jesus had none and no one had ever seen him personally, if indeed that was the case?

what follows are descriptions of arguments and links to those arguments on Doxa. These are arguments that draw upon historical research and I think prove that Jesus existed:

IV. No Alternate Versions (3 pages).

The argument that most myths proliferate over time, but there is only one version of the Jesus story that is ever told, and it was basically the same from the begining. This is an indication that the facts are historical and everyone knew it from the begining.

Rebuttle to Peter Kirby's diatribe

Kirby's attempted refutation of the "no other verisons" argument; I've answered it on message boards before, so here is my answer again.

V. The Web of Historicity.

Everyone in the Jesus story is historical, the places, the events, the characters; everything around Jesus and everyone i the story who knew him really lived, why wouldn't the center peice of the story be historical too?

VI. Gosple Behind the Gospels

34 Lost Gospel,many of which we now have in whole or in part (some only in theory) testify to the fact that Jesus was always understood as a flesh and blood human in a historical context. Also shows canonical material was transmitted orally or in written form for a long time before the writting of the final verisons of the canoinical gospels.

VII.Community as Author: contemporary witnesses

This is corss refereced on Bible index.Sceptics make the argument that there are no contemporary witnesses. This argument says that the authors of the gospels were the communitie themselves and they constitute thosuands of contemporary witnesses.

Jospehus' Many Jesuses (Myther argument)

Some mythers try to porve a list of People Jospehus could have had in mind when he mentioned Jesus.

Did Nazareth Exist at the time of Jesus?

Did Jesus live in Nazareth? Some skeptics calim that Nazareth never existed in the time of Christ as an inhabited village. Archaeological excavations prove that it did. Nice graphics of excavaton sites.