Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I have retruned from the nether world

Rehab. man was it a drag. I can still barely walk. There was one cool night when I was playing old Beatles songs like "hard days night" and "Can't buy me love" a tribute on PBS so I had the sound way up on the tv. People started dancing in the hall and gathered outside my room and had a sort of party using snacks from the vending machine.

Here is an old post from way back in 2010 but it still has come cash value in the market of ideas. I'll post the comments to it next time:

Atheism and Meta ethical Theory


This was a discussion my boards (Doxa Forums) which is still on going. Parts of it are pretty interesting. There are a lot more people involved n it than I reflect here. I will just show exchanges between Fleetmouse who started the thread (and myself) and Quantum Troll (Zebnuts on CARM) and myself. But follow the thread there's a lot more to it than this.

by fleetmouse on Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:40 am

I've seen a few posts recently where Christians point at horrible acts and imply that a nontheistic worldview is inadequate to explain them. Metacrock briefly alluded to this recently in another thread on Doxa regarding a little girl who was sold into prostitution by her mother and ended up dead in a ditch.

So I would like to explore this - is the existence of acts that we would call evil a problem for naturalism, and why?

Before the ball gets rolling, we should discuss whether evil is an essence or simply an adjective. I think this is the crux of the matter.
 Meta Responds:

(1) Is evil an essence?

Well first of all, I think it's too narrow and simplistic to say it's either an essence or an adjective. I am not an essentialist. I don't believe women are women because their spirits are the essence of female or that men are male because their spirits are the essence of male. I do have Platonic tendencies (which I've tried to keep under control but the non Plato patch just doesn't work, the gum tastes horrible). But my Platonism is augmented by Augustine, so I'm not actually a full no Platonist.

I do think evil is more than just a word we use to describe stuff we don't like. But I supposes what you really mean is "is it satan or is it us?" right? I don't believe in little guys with pointed tails sitting on your shoulder encouraging you to do stuff.

I do think evil is a value judgment, but it's also more than that. It's a real tendency but not a positive essence, but rather the lack of the good. Being an Augustinian like Augustine I see evil as the absence of Good, and by "good" I mean "love." The illusion of a positive force of evil is created by positive actions that ensue from the lac of love. The analogy would be the way cold is seen as a positive force by people who don't know physics. Of cousre we (us educated types) know that there is no force radiant cold, it's all a matter of lack of heat, but the blowing of cold air gives the illusion of radiant cold. Cold does not radiate like heat. you can sit front of an ice cub and get cool, unless you blow air over it (which is the basic principle of an air conditioner) but then it's the heat being absorbed by the vacuum of cold that makes the air feel cool. It's not a force of cool blowing on you.

So it is with evil. It's the acts of evil that make it appear to be a force. It's actually the lack of love (which is synonymous with the good).

(2) Would a non theistic world be evil?

A world ran by Dawkins would be evil. A world ran by half the people on CARM would be very screwed. But then I wouldn't give much for the chances of a world ran by Mat Slick either!

I have always contended (I don't know what I said on the thread you talk about) that atheists can be good people, and many are, but they are coasting on Christian memories in the culture (meaning values). That does not men they are evil people it just means they have to get their ethical norms from some place and they usually get them from a culture that is working on the fading values of a Christian past. That's our measuring stick in this country and in the West for ethical norms.

The problem with atheists ethics wise is their inability to ground their axioms, not the inability of individual atheists to be moral. Now here's another paradox that is apt to cause misunderstanding. All have sinned and fallen short of ht Glory of God. that means Christians sin, atheist sin, everyone sins. So when atheists sin we say "see atheists can't be moral." But we forget to point out, "O yea, Neither can we!"

Paul tells us (Rm2:6-14) the moral law is written on the heart and that Gentiles not born under the law do actually keep elements of the law because they follow the moral law on their hearts. That has to mean that atheist also can be moral and have an innate sense of what is moral. But we all sin, we all fail at some point so atheists will sin and when they do there will be certain one's there to point it out, and go "ah ha" but those guys are strangely silent when their own sins are apparent.

So the ethics front is a matter of academic involvement. you have to think critically and understand the conversation among professional ethicist to really get what ethics is about. But if you do that I think it can be demonstrated that Theistic ethics is superior in terms of grounding axioms. But that has nothing to do with the rubber and road in terms of individual failings.

I think what I was getting at in that other thread is just that people tend to cover up the concept of sin nature. We don't like to think of ourselves as sinners. So when horrible things happen naturalistic types don't' want to face that something in all of us could lead any one of us to do that same kidn of thing at some point.

that does not mean that those naturalistic types aer not just as good as am I, or just as fallen as am I.

 (There were comments by several people. I'm skipping over to another exchange)

Postby Metacrock on Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:10 pm
met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:but the distinction between Socratic ethics and Christian ethics is that for Socrates "good" means functional or serviceable, not moral. for Christians it means "moral" in other words, mindful not to sin.

Met: (not me, Met is another guy)
does it depend upon the end? ... if moral behavior is a means to something (getting to heaven, avoiding hell, whatever) is it then NOT moral behavior?

is "you ought'a obey God 'cause s/he carries a mighty big stick!" an ETHICAL argument or not? :shock: ... in Hume's sense of "can't derive ought from an is," i mean

no it does not depend upon the end. There are two major divisions in ethics. People who believe in truth beieve that rules and duty and obligation determine the good or the right, while godless secularist atheist heathen believe that it's based upon outcome.

I say that tongue in cheek of course it seems to fall that way. Atheists tend to be consequential and believers in some form of deity tend to be deontological in their ethics. Most ethicist today believe
that most froms consequential have been beaten.

Now Quauntum Troll comes into it, he's quoting me first then responding:
QuantumTroll wrote:
Metacrock wrote:no it does not depend upon the end. There are two major divisions in ethics. People who believe in truth beieve that rules and duty and obligation determine the good or the right, while godless secularist atheist heathen believe that it's based upon outcome.I say that tongue in cheek of course it seems to fall that way. Atheists tend to be consequential and believers in some form of deity tend to be deontological in their ethics. Most ethicist today believe that most from consequential have been beaten.

QT: Deontological ethics don't make sense to me, unless your moral rule is that you shouldn't hurt people. But if that's your deontological rule, then you end up with a consequentialist ethics in practice anyway. A deontological ethics that isn't based on that rule is in my opinion not a good idea.

that's contradiction to your own biological based outlook. Because your view says anything found "naturally" in nature must be an ought, right? am I misunderstanding you there? But then you have arbitrary outcome oriented understanding that is not derived from nature becuase nowhere in nature do find ideas like "hurting others is wrong."

you are imposing a teleological ethic upon deontology, and you are imposing the violation of the fork on consqeuntualism.

Suppose you follow the rule "always tell the truth". Then you might find yourself in a situation where someone will be hurt by the truth, and you knowingly tell the truth anyway and knowingly hurt this person. And you walk away feeling like you did the moral thing. Madness!

you can always keep silent. you are trying to interpret duty and obligation in a way produces the most legalistic and ineffective outcome. That's not really the result of keeping duty, it's the result of interpreting it that way on purpose. For example, the Nazis come in and say "do you have any Jews hidden about?" If you keep silent they will know and look for them so you say "no." You haven't really violated your duty because you can lexically order duty. The higher duty to protect those in danger overrides the personal duty of telling the truth.

My point here is that a deontological ethicist might say "tell the truth" only if she also says "don't hurt anyone". But as I said above, the latter rule turns the deontologist into a consequentialist in practice.

you can say your duty is not hurt anyone but you are going to measure the sucess by the outcome and say that's what makes for morality, the deontologist says morality is decided by how duty and obligation, an act is moral because it is your duty or an obligation, not determined how well you keep it. It's determined by what your duty is in the first place. That doesn't mean the outcome of violating doesn't count becuase it 's an outcome it just means it's not determined as moral because of the outcome.

In other words seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is not a moral precept.

Then there's the question of where the deontological rules come from. You might say they come from God. I don't think God cares about people following rules (such a petty God that would be!), but rather that people care about each other and act like it. While I don't see any value in following rules for their own sake, a rule can be a good guideline or hint for ethical behavior in many situations (like for example the truth-telling rule).
Your just shifting about the rules of grammar to make deontology look stupid. I don't think you do that on purpose, I think probably it's taught that way in ethics classes below graduate school because people teaching those classes have been shaped by the ideology of mid 20th century liberalism that said consequentilist ethicsl is urbane and deontology is legalisitic and hyde bound. So they cast it in terms of rule keeping rather than duty or obligation and they stick in a bunch of psychology about rule keeping being less highly devleoped than conceptual understanding.

dentology is not about rule keeping. There's a form of it called "rule deontology" but it's the lesser version for suckers. The more important version is based upon duty and obligation. No dentological ethicist say you have to rigidly keep rules when they violtate their own spirit of the rules.

QuantumTroll wrote:
Metacrock wrote:see the problem with consequential ethics is it's illustrated prefectly by QT. His standard for "ethics" is "success." Success means purely functional not moral. So his "ethics" have no moral basis.

No no no, you have misunderstood me grievously. Or rather, I have put the focus of my post on the wrong point. My standard for ethics is the welfare or happiness of a community.

But you seem to define that in terms of success. Even so it's still teleological.

Because your view says anything found "naturally" in nature must be an ought, right? am I misunderstanding you there?
Yes, that is a misunderstanding. The point I was making about finding cooperation and some kind of "love" and care in nature is only that deriving an "ought" from an "is" is such an easy and obvious task that animals do it. There are lots of examples of altruism and selflessness to be found in nature (and the opposite). If the animals can find a reason to love selflessly, then so can we. However, just because animals do it doesn't mean that we should. So why should we? Because nobody likes suffering and we can all help each other.

you say that because you are not recalling finding an ought at all. Our ought is not based upon a moral ought but upon a practical success ought. your value system of what's best for the community is entirely based upon physical success, gene frequency completely devoid of ethical and moral content. You cannot manufacture an ought based upon an is. you have to stick in a value, you can't get the value just by looking at nature.

eating your [young] is found in nature so why not eat your young? you will stick in a values nd say "we don't do that." but you have a basis for it other than your own psychological predilection not to.
you can't reduce all of life to chemicals and expect to find values in them.

Meta:But then you have arbitrary outcome oriented understanding that is not derived from nature becuase nowhere in nature does one find ideas like "hurting others is wrong."
I think you do find that idea in nature if you're open to seeing it ;)

begging the question, whatever you can think of must be seen in nature, therefore, if you think of it it's in nature. That doesn't follow; the circle goes "my conclusion is X therefore, X is right, therefore, X must be my premise.

The higher duty to protect those in danger overrides the personal duty of telling the truth.
Exactly what I was trying to say. You don't tell the truth to the Nazi because of the consequences to the Jews you're protecting.

It's not the consequence that makes it wrong to divulge. Both deontologists and teleologists agree that doing wrong has bad consequences, but the one thinks that's what makes it wrong, the other things the consequences are bad because its wrong.

why is it wrong for millions of Jews to be murdered in camps? We find death all around us in nature. Species compete and wipe each other out all the time. If you think being in nature makes it an ought you should support the holocaust. Its' only because you have a higher value that originally came from Christian theology that says people are ends in themselves not means to an end. In nature all animals are a means to an end. An individual is not important, what matters is gene frequency, once the individual is out of the running he's no good any more. that's the "ought" you draw from nature. If an individual is not contributing to gene frequency he should die. It's only when we bring in a higher value from somewhere esle that says individual matter for their own sake, which is not in nature that we can see the holocaust is wrong.

where do you get the concept of "wrong" at all? apart from a moral context it's only in the context of practicality.

The more important version is based upon duty and obligation. No dentological ethicist say you have to rigidly keep rules when they violtate their own spirit of the rules.
Duty and obligation seem to me just more nuanced versions of the same basic idea as rules.

Nuanced is better, it's more intelligent and less rigid. Nothing wrong with rules, the problem is (1) in what are they founded? (2) how rigid, often the letter must be violated to save the spirit of the rule.

Why are these deontological duties and obligations moral? I think that deontological ethics works because keeping these duties and obligations enforces behavior that leads to good consequences.

you are trying to flatten them out and make them practical. in so doing you remove the moral dimension and thus clear the way for the holocaust. Your use of the term "good" is suppossed to sound like a moral motion but it's not. If "good" is entirely in practical terms then killing the Jews may be good for society in a Draconian sense.

If you separate the consequences from the action, then it becomes difficult to know which duty and obligation is higher and more important. In other words, I think there is a significant practical reason to be a consequentialist.

action by itself has no basis in morality, the only way to tell if an action is moral or not is to know the value and what grounds that value that the action supports or violates. You cant' do that by deriving morality from outcomes only.

saying "practical reason to a consequential" is like saying "it could be good for you to be murderer." Yes it could if you define "good for you" apart from morality. So I mean by that if you define "practical" apart from morality you are only arguing in tuatolgies and removing the moral dimension.

The only way to assign moral significance to an action is to know up from what the values are that one sets up as the axiological basis for action. once you know then and only then can you know what moral significance an outcome has.

27 comments: next time

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I am too depressed to blog

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I am depressed because I put my whole heart and soul into my book, but no one will buy it. It's not the money, I never cared about making money from it, but no buy, no read. If one buys it or reads it or spreads the word around the ideas have no effect on anyone.

I kept this blog going specially to promote my book. 53 "followers" I'm getting 300 hits a day no one will buy the damn book. I really made writing that the center of my life for years. I spent tons of money gathering articles and finding out about the studies. I endured idiots slandering the studies and my ablity to write, and my ability to understand studies. Those were people who so stupid, the things said about my studies are just inane. I didn't put most of that here becuase I want Metacrock's Blog to be a positive discussion abut God rather than negative appraisal of the atheists movement (that's what Atheistwatch is for).

Yet I endured that and so much more. I can't tell you how painful it was for those morons who knew nothing about it and who refused to read a single study for about five years, continually dogmatically pronouncing "those studies are crap (the creeps on CARM). they are not good." Every time I was say an idea that had not heard before they would go "that's CRAAAAAAZY" "YOUR IDEAS ARE CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaZyeeeee)."

I put everything else on hold and made writing and researching it the no one thing, I forced myself to keep the blog going to promote the book. No one gives a damn about it. No one will buy it. Several people have said that most of regular readers here probalby assume  they can get it all from my blog. But there are a lot of things I did not discuss on line so that there would be parts of the book that can't be gotten at for free.  I have pointed that out. No one cares.

No one cares about learning the devastating arguments that would destroy atheist resistance. Because most Christians don't care about arguments  or about beating atheists. they are in their little world of Church that all that concerns them. They don't care who get's saved or not. Several readers have sad "we get good information here." If that's all it is, just a some information, they I will quite. This has to be more important than just getting a little good information.

The arguments made in that book (The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman) are ground breaking and will devastate the atheist cause, if they are learned to be used right. You have to read the book or it wont make sense. What you get from the blog is a jumble and half the picture. you need to read the book in order to see how it fits together. If you do you will have a weapon no atheist will thwart. The Church will never know becuase no one cares, no one talks about it, no one spreads the word.

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The book is only available on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Atheists Hide In The Gaps


I started this thread on CARM. (remember CARM therads are backwards so go to the last page to see the beginning). The atheist responses have been predictable if not furious and angry, but the  funny thing is not a one of them has actually addressed the issue. The concept is simple, there's always a gap in knowledge, there's always a need for a leap of faith. The only question is how wide is the gap, can we narrow it with conventional forms of knowledge (logic, science, reason, yada yada yada)? The punch line is the atheists assume as long as there is a gap there's a reason not to believe. Yet, there is always a gap, so they are hiding in the gap because they not only have o intention of bridging it, but they actually against the attempt.

I always use the concept of a diving board for the leap of faith. Its' an amusing metaphor based upon real life childhood experiences of going up the high dive ladder with good intentions and brave heart, and coming back down the high dive ladder having decided that more manly aspect of leaping is not leaping. This always came after a long period of deliberation about the nature of faith and the lack of necessity of leaping, conducted at the end of the high dive board, shivering and shaking from fear with a long line of agitated older kids behind me going "come on and jump!" That's when I became an existentialist, that moment. I decided it was much more important to understand and deal with the angst of being a kid stuck on a high dive than to jump! I use this metaphor to represent my arguments. No argument will eliminate the need to make the leap but perhaps come can get us out there further on so we narrow the gap.

There's always a gap where one must make a leap of faith. You can reduce the gap or it can grow wide, but there is always a gap. Even in what atheists take to be rock solid proved scientific facts there is a gap. If you look in the right place, usually do some epistemology, every source of knowledge and every rock solid fact has a gap where we don't know and we have we must bridge the gap with a leap of faith.

We solve most gaps with a make-piece system of accepting what works and moving on. That's part of Heidegger notion of "ready to hand" in the discussion of the nature of being. What that means is bridging the gap with what works and making the leap of faith are so much a part of what we take for granted about life we don't even know we do it.

Atheists use the gap as an excuse to shun belief in God. We see this being done now in the thread about certainty. The atheist wont to pretend his world view is based upon "fact" and faith is some stupid thing only fools resort to. When we use answers that work, which fit the common criteria by which we judge reality, the atheist balks and demands absolute proof a standard even scinece doesn't pretend to.

you are hiding in the gap. you are using the fact of a gap to pretend that faith is somehow sub standard and that doubt is some kind of answer to truth.

The early responses just asserted the all sufficiency of scientific outlook to tell us what's what, really this amounts to gap denial.  From "Big Thinker" (contrasting his name to that of my friend Tiny Thinker, Tiny is one of the most Brilliant people I know, and their names are the inverse of their abilities).

Typically, the atheist's position is based on fact, its based on what is known. This contrasts with the believer's position that is founded on faith. The believer's position is based on possibility and speculation. The believer's gap is HUGE, their conclusion are unfounded and (ironically) unwavering. The atheist who's position is based on known facts is not emotionally committed to any particular idea but rather to an honest and critical assessment of the existing facts.

This is the same guy who said my 200 studies can't be any good because no academic would ever make a study showing that religious experience was good for you because it clearly isn't. when I pointed out that these were published in academic journals and done by real academics, not theologians and not religious publications he asserted that none of them were double blind. When I put down a link to a textbook written by the major researcher, Ralph Hood Jr. Of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the definitive article on the "M" scale which is the control mechanism for knowing if religious experience is valid, this stalwart defender of scinece refused to read the article, he would not click on a link and asserted that it wasn't scientific. He has no knowledge of the body of work, he has not read one word about what the field says of Hood or his M scale (I've talked to enough shrinks of religion to know that they regard him highly). When push comes to shove this guy has no regard for scinece, and no faith in scinece at all, no understanding what is and what is not scinece. All he's doing is working on prejudices and stereotypes.

In fact what he's doing is a perfect example of hiding in the gap. Almost all atheist arguments are argument from incredulity "I refuse to ever believe no matter what the evidence, therefore, it can't be true because if it was true I would believe." It's a form of circular reasoning.  In asserting this sort of sceitnism he's actually illustrating hiding in the gaps.  He's really saying "if there's a gap it's an excuse not to make the leap becuase there's a gap and I'm opposed to leaps of faith of any kind." Of course, his alternative is a selective pretense that only regards that which backs his view as "real scinece."

Super Genyus says (see link above):

There's no such thing as a "rock solid proved scientific fact." All scientific knowledge is tentative and conditional. Why you would need faith to say, "There is strong and copious amounts of evidence to suggest X being an accurate representation of reality," is beyond me.

Of cousre there's not "rock solid proof" that's my whole point. There is always a gap and always a leap of faith no matter what the issue. Even scientific hypothesis requires some leap of faith, however small it may be. Why we need faith to say something is reality is precisely because of what he said, all hypothesis are tenuous. What he's doing is to say first there is no such thing as solid proof, secondly, we can take evidence as solid proof if it's strong enough. That's fine, but what's strong evidence. It's apparently evidence that supports their view and not mine. If it supports mine it's not scientific and suddenly bad evidence. Look at the hypocrisy of this answer in relation to the next two issues that come up. The issue is no rock solid proof in scinece but we can accept strong evidence in place of proof (which is exactly what I say in m rational warrant argument--God is not proved but belief in God is rationally warranted).

the very next statement he makes:

This is generally not the case. We, generally speaking in terms of your most common arguments, just don't see how an explanation "working" to improve one's well-being relates to "working" as an explanation of reality. They are two separate criteria.

He's talking about 200 empirical studies that all basically say religious experience is real good for you and will transform you life (change dramatically for the better).  Not only do they not have one study but they refused to look at the text book chapter explaining all about the studies. In two years of putting that link up time after after time (well over a hundred) one of them has actually claimed to look at at it and I'm certain he did not read the whole chapter because he still doesn't know what the M scale is. He asserts just being good for you isn't evidence but why wouldn't it be? The claim is that God wants to save you, to renovate your life and make your life better. We find that experiencing God's presence actually does that. That seems pretty much like validation for the number one claim religion makes to be true, so why would that not be a rational warrant for belief? Strong evidence is warrant when ti backs atheism. Not when it backs God belief?

Is 200 studies strong evdience? Air Bags were deemed proven by four studies. Naturally the quality of the studies matter but 200 is a heck of a lot of studies, and none of them have managed in two years to dig up a valid methodological problem. This is proof of what I say that the atheist admiration for science is totally selective and ideologically driven. Also note the contradiction, one says the atheist position is "fact" (even though they can't find a single "fact" that disproves the existence of God) the other one says there are no rock solid proofs in scinece, it's all tentative. Yet, despite this contradiction they both take the very same position with regard to counter evidence that challenges their world view. They are both hiding in the gap. When the gap is in terms of their view it's trivial and can be traversed easily or it's just not there at all, when it's in terms of belief in God then it's a huge chasm that can never be bridged.

The poster Crockoduck (that's his screen name) get's into it:

So miracles actually remove the need for faith. True? In the Bible, God went around demonstrating his power all the time even when it wasn't necessary. Like when God took pot shots at the defeated and fleeing Amorite army:
Joshua 10:10 The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. [emphasis his]
So why can't he do some miracles today?

I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove. It's begging the question on miracles, assuming there are none without consulting the evidence. It looks more like a gratuitous opportunity to throw rocks at the Bible. A lot of atheists have been conditioned by fundamentalism to think that if there's anything wrong with the Bible then God id disproved. I think most atheists see through that but not all. Still it introduced the issue of miracles into the thread which became a huge argument and joke. Joke because the poster "Paradoxical" (that's his screen name, I guess "Metacrock"Is not one to make fun of screen names) continued to assert the same untruths against the shrine at Lourdes as though extraneous issues disprove miracles. I talk about Lourdes, that it has strict rules and doctors on the committee. Paradoxical talks about people spend their life savings to go to Lourdes, how cruel of God to lure people to that one place, take their life savings, then not heal but a tiny handful. I document with sources such as the Marion Newsletter that this is simply not the case. No one has ever claimed that God will only heal at Lourdes, that is not the deal. If one can't make it to Lourdes the water can be brought to them.

Then of course he cuts lose on the committee. They are all lackeys who work for the Vatican. The RCC has taken lots of measures to assure the autonomy of the committee. They are not paid, that is not their job. It's true that many of them loyal Catholics but they also use skeptics on the committee. He continually asserts these things over and over again as though I said nothing, and I'm quoting sources. Of course he also asserts other prayer studies have proved inconclusive so in his mind that is a complete disproof of God or miracles. That is an incredibly illogical conclusion. All that can really prove is that the study itself was inconclusive or that the double blind type of study is bad for prayer because outside prayer can't be controlled for. For example no one was healed in the experimental group above natural cure rate (even with the control group). Does that mean there's no God, or that God didn't want to heal anyone that time? How do we know no one outside the study prayed and that's why they weren't healed. So that's still an issue of control group. We can't control for outside prayer. I used to argue for those studies there 14 of them which are good and show results, but this one was suppossed to be the best.

Yet the Lourdes evidence is quite different. That is empirical evidence. the Xray shows the lung grew back over night. That is not remission, nothing grows back over night, lungs never grow back. Lungs that far gone (in the case of Charles Ann was not really a  Lourde's case but a saint making miracle) do not remit. That statistically never happens. That it did happen make it automatically a candidate for miraclehood. That's totally different than the controlled double blind study which just relays upon statistical averages. Yet Pradoxical seems to think these externalizes issues about how the shrine is run and allegiance of the doctors are germane to the evidence, and he doesn't even consider the xrays. Such concern with scientific fact!

What's really going on is he's hiding in the gaps too in a way. They are all saying "there's some kind of  gap in knowledge of the God element and as long as there is belief is totally unreliable. Yet their view, which they contrast as "factual" also has gaps but those gaps they write off as trivial, based upon selective evidence that just excludes anything that disproves their views. That's what I call "hiding in the gap!"

Demythologize the NT? Atheist circle of reason

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Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
the only way history is done. historians make such assumptions all the time. There are Battles in Iran of which were recorded deeds of Gods and demons fighting along side men. Historians don't decide the battles didn't happen. They DE-mythologize them but they don't decide the were fiction.

HRG: Fine. Let's demythologize the Gospels. Jesus existed and something happened to him in Jerusalem, but he wasn't resurrected.[/QUOTE]

tellling exchange with HRG:

Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
the only way history is done. historians make such assumptions all the time. There are Battles in Iran of which were recorded deeps of Gods and demons fighting along side men. Historians don't decide the battles didn't happen. They DE-mythologize them but they don't decide the were fiction.

HRG: Fine. Let's demythologize the Gospels. Jesus existed and something happened to him in Jerusalem, but he wasn't resurrected.

at last you are actually beginning to say something interesting. we should discus that but it deserves a protracted discussion and its' own thread.

I have no reason to doubt the word of the witnesses obviously given to document their experience of evens they believed to be very real.

Just like the beliefs in the participations of demons and gods ?

I do have reasons to doubt that. the idea of a resurrection is comparatively naturalistic compered to demons on the battle field with men. especially since we do have examples form modern medicine of people ruled dead who came back to life, or were resuscitated. the 400 resurrections in the Vatican archives.

You forgot one other, no less essential assumptions: that no miracles happened. How else could we assume that a document did not suddenly appear ex nihilo, or that human memories were not miraculously altered ? are you cognizant of you what you said? that's practically non campus mentus. If miracles happened then we must believe the text appeared out of nothing? I gotta to know your reasoning on that? that's a move based upon privileging doubt and then taking the opponent position to the opposite extreme (sraw man), and it makes no sense.

all or nothing reasoning. If we accept anything beyond the accepted canons of behavior for the universe then no holds barred.

makes me wonder if your abhorrence of the divine is really a fear about your own sanity.

Did you catch the atheist circle of reason there?

 "You forgot one other, no less essential assumptions: that no miracles happened." We know that miracles don't happen because they don't happen. WE know this becasue we know it. the consequence of miracles if there were would be total chaos such we could never be sure of anything. allow one miracle and sudely everything's a miracle.

It's about control. they crave control. the atheist science types want to be God. they hate God becuase he is God and they are not. they are afraid to let do it his way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paul Tillich's Ontology: Deep Structures


Deep structures

That being has depth is a clue to the meaning of “the ground of being,” or “being itself.” The depth of being is also related to the notion of the “power of being.” These are all saying the same thing or very closely related things. To really understand what Tillich is saying we have to understand what the depth of being is and relate that to the power of being. The context of the phrase “depth of being” and the quotation above about that comes form Tillich’s sermon, converted into a small book, The Shaking of the Foundations (op cit). In the chapter entitled “the depth of existence,” Tillich tells us that he is using the term “depth” as a metaphor to indicate an attitude taken form spiritual experience. Depth symbolizes both special relation and spiritual quality. Deep implies a profundity (the opposite being “shallow”) and there is also a sense in which “deep” is used for suffering (the depths of despair for example). [1] I said above that being having depth means things are not merely as they appear on the surface, there’s more to reality than just the way things appear. In the Shaking of the Foundations Tillich confirms that this is what he had in mind:
All visible things have a surface. Surface is that side of things which first appears to us. If we look at it, we know what things seem to be. Yet if we act according to what things and persons seem to be, we are disappointed. Our expectations are frustrated. And so we try to penetrate below the surfaces in order to learn what things really are. Why have men always asked for truth? Is it because they have been disappointed with the surfaces, and have known that the truth which does not disappoint dwells below the surfaces in the depth? And therefore, men have dug through one level after another. What seemed true one day was experienced as superficial the next. When we encounter a person, we receive an impression. But often if we act accordingly we are disappointed by his actual behavior. We pierce a deeper level of his character, and for some time experience less disappointment. But soon he may do something which is contrary to all our expectations; and we realize that what we know about him is still superficial. Again we dig more deeply into his true being.[2]
Immediately before the statement about the depth of our being that I quoted above (en1) he says that depth psychology can help us understand our own depths but it can’t help us to find the depth and ground of our being. Immediately after that statement he links the depth of our souls to the social world, we can know our own souls through the mirror of community and others.[3] This ties us to the heteronomy and the question of the role of spirit in the creation of culture that was important to Tillich. He then makes another statement that is remarkably like the one above but this time focusing upon the social world:
The name of this infinite and inexhaustible ground of history is God. That is what the word means, and it is that to which the words Kingdom of God and Divine Providence point. And if these words do not have much meaning for you, translate them, and speak of the depth of history, of the ground and aim of our social life, and of what you take seriously without reservation in your moral and political activities. Perhaps you should call this depth hope, simply hope. for if you find hope in the ground of history, you are united with the great prophets who were able to look into the depth of their times, who tried to escape it, because they could not stand the horror of their visions, and who yet had the strength to look to an even deeper level and there to discover hope. Their hope did not make them feel ashamed. And no hope shall make us ashamed, if we do not find it on the surface where fools cultivate vain expectations, but rather if we find it in the depth where those with trembling and contrite hearts receive the strength of a hope which is truth.[4]
In this context he talks about Marxist analysis and social sciences and understanding of social situations with greater depth than one can gain from a mere surface perspective. He also grounds that perspective in first hand experience of social situations rather than just social sciences alone. Most modern thinkers would have a hard time seeing what has to do with God or how God could be the ground of history. But he connects God as the ground of history to the kingdom of God and providence (see quote above). It seems what he means by “being has depth” is a structure that permeates all that is. The depth of being is the unseen structure, the ontology of reality and its extension into social world through God’s providence. Thus he appears to actually be saying that God is the ground and end of the natural world and all that this entails. We can identify “depth” with ontology.
That being itself indicates the power of being is metaphorical, at the same time it is part of the concept of the depth of being. Being is not merely the fact of existence but it also contains the basis upon which all being is. That would correlate to God as creator. In MacQuarrie’s terms, “being let’s be.”[5] This may imply a more passive role than Tillich had in mind. He views God’s creative role from the standpoint of a check on nothingness, but what both are really talking about is an active force of creative power that brings more being out of being itself. Being let’s be is such a passive way to register the idea of “resisting” nothingness, but at the same time both are means of avoiding the direct statement, “God is the creator of all that is.” Nevertheless that’s obviously what they are saying, or trying not to say. Obviously, then Being is necessary and “the beings” (in McQuarrie speak) are contingencies. Being itself is necessary being, the beings are contingent being. This is another aspect of the depth of being. It’s not just so simple that all we need to do is to rattle off a list of concrete things we can observe in the world. There are two levels, necessity and contingency, or two modes of being. Within each role there are different roles. On the level of necessity being is eternal, on the level of contingency being is temporal. Tillich makes much of this distinction. The difference in the two and the sense of the numinous it evokes are very important for Tillich and will figure prominently in the arguments that can be made in terms of reasons to believe.
The reason Tillich takes such a backwards way of expressing God’s creative force is to emphasize the distinction between being and nothingness. This is the primary first and original distinction in reality, the bottom line so to speak between something and nothing. The first distinction in existence is that between being and nothingness. The power of being to resist nothingness (God’s creative force) is the first basis upon which anything is at all. That means we can look at this creative force as the nature of being the basic bottom line of what it means to be and what being is. Thus if we choose for some reason to call this force “God” if we want to use that term, which Tillich says in the quotation above is the meaning of that term, we can say that God is “being itself.” God is this basic force that is the first indentation in all of reality. It is both first temporally (it would be the basis of time) it would be “fist” ontologically. Tillch is thinking in a way that modern scientifically ensorcelled people are not really able to think, and have never thought. McQuarrie puts it into a passive sense “let’s be,” for a different reason. He warns of Heidegger’s tendency to “stretch language” or the awareness of Heidegger (and himself) that to speak of being at an ontological level is a stretch beyond the confines of fact based conceptualism. For him being’s role is the fomentation of more being, or “the beings” is expressed in a passive sense to remove the emphasis upon the activity of a creative agent.
Tillich’s ontology as illustration of depth in being
Another aspect of the depth of being is the diversity of being. Tillich develops many themes of meaning, diversity, and historicity in laying out the Gospel framework and translating it into his phenomenological take on the diversity of being. Human being, fallen nature, sin, redemption, new being in Christ, these are standard Christian themes but a good deal of his Systematic Theology is devoted to exploring them from the perspective of their relationship to being. What he’s doing there is demonstrating the depth of being ontologically and in terms of human experience (vol II of Systematic Theology). Volume I of that work is about “Being and God.” Here he deals with topics of “The Question of Being: Man, Self and World.” “God is the answer to the question implied in being” he says. [6] He first deals with reason and revelation. Then he moves into the question of being and its meaning. He says that in coming to terms with reason and its take on existential conflicts, one is forced into asking the most essential question of all, why is there something rather than nothing at all? But I have given this in Heidegger’s terms. Tillich puts it a bit differently “why is there something, why not nothing?”[7] He points out that to ask “why is there not nothing?” is to attribute a kind of being to nothingness. Thus as he puts it “one cannot go behind being.” What he’s saying is, like trying to imagine one’s own non existence, it can’t be done. We cannot get under being itself, its’ the furthest we can go back in our understanding, and it eludes our understanding. Thought is based upon being and it can’t go beyond its base. One can imagine the negotiation of things, however, and it can “describe the nature and structure of everything that is the power of resisting non being.”[8] Ontological questions, he points out, are not tautologies because of this ability to mentally play with being and non being. We are not merely saying “being is being” when we try to define what it is, because there’s a possibility of negating any particular form of being. The possibility of universality and less than universal aspect of forms of being make ontology possible. There are concepts which are less universal than being but more universal than any concept about being, thus these are “categories” of thought.
/...These categories form the basis of theological significance. These are central concepts that make theology “go,” so to speak (not Tillich’s phrase). These are ontological concepts, ontology is not theology. One can be an atheist and totally secular and do ontology as part of philosophy, and such a thinker would have to deal with these concepts. But in like manner all theologians must deal with them as well. While they are not theology per se they are essential to theology. The concepts are: (1) the structure implicit in the basic ontological question (why is there something rather than nothing?); (2) the elements which constitute ontological structure; (3) characteristics of being which are the conditions of existence; (4) categories of being and knowing. [9] The structure (1) is that the question presupposes an asking subject, and an object being asked about. This is the subject/object structure that is presupposed and that in turn assumes the structure of world and self; this as the basic articulation of being. That the self has a world to which it belongs and from which it will deduce the nature of its being precedes all other structures and will be the basic analysis which precedes all other analysis. [10] The elements of the ontological structure he groups into three sets of pairs: individuality and universality, dynamics and form, and freedom and density. These are polarities and the first expresses self referential nature of being.
The ontological concepts pertaining to number (3) (characteristics of being) “expresses the power of being to exist,” in Tillich’s own words, “and the difference between essential and existential being.” [11] There is a duality for Tillich between essential and existential thinking. One is inherent in the other, as existentialism is meaningless without an essentialism to play off it. No ontology can disregard these two aspects. [12] Existentialism is a revolt against the predominance of essentialism. Essentialism came to be identified in theology with “stasis” and existents with movement, or process theology. Tillich saw a unity between the two, one assuming the other. Tillich says essentialism is related to universalism, and we can’t deal with concepts in the world without universals. Thus existentialism has to assume essentialism and the two have to work together.[13] The fourth level deals with the categories of thought or the basic concepts. These he calls “structures of finite being and thinking.” I suppose the Kantian categories would be placed here. “If time and space are called ‘categories’ this is a derivation from the Kantian terminology which calls time and space forms of intuition. But the larger sense of category has been accepted generally, even in post Kantian schools.”[14] Tillich says that determining the exact nature and number of these categories is the on going and never ending task of philosophy. [15] He isolates four such categories: time, space, causality, and substance. These are categories that have the most theological importance. Quantity and Quality he says have less theological importance. He discusses other categories and their relation to the four points above, but I will forgo that as it really doesn’t have a direct bearing on the task before us here. He does focus on finitude at this point (p165) as having a major bearing on the ontological question of God.
....He’s going to argue that ontological concepts are a priori. What he means by a priori is not quite the same as most logicians understand it. We think of a prori as a tautological statement, a statement where we only need to know the meaning of the terms in order to understand the truth of the statement. Tillich makes it sound like the thinks a prori means empirical data. He says it’s ultimately a matter of experience. I don’t think he’s confusing it with empirical data. He is saying that the ultimate understanding of what terms mean is a matter of experience. In other words we think of a prori as statements like “all husbands are married men.” If we know what a husband is we know all of them are married men. Tillich is saying that the idea of husbands and marriage is not some eternal truth in a vacuum. We only have a concept of those terms because we live in a culture that has a convention of marriage. Thus in an ultimate sense the a priori concepts originate form the experience of a life world in which cultural constructs have a shared meaning. The concepts of Being, the categories, are a priori but in the same way rooted in our experience of being. As Tillich says “they constitute the very structure of experience itself.”[16] IF experience changes a new a priori will from. Tillich discusses process theology and the question of a static understanding of God. He identifies with a tradition from Scotus to Heidegger, picking up Bergson along the way, and moving toward indeterminacy in the ground of being. But it dose not remove a prori structure from ontology or Being.[17]
Still setting up the discussion of finitude and being, he moves to the prelude to that discussion, the self-world relationship. Every being participates in the structure of being, but man alone (in so far as we know) is aware of it. We are the only being we know that has alienation and estrangement. We can describe behavior but we do not know what the behavior means to others. We are the only being we know of that asks the ontological question (why is there something rather than nothing?) and the only one that can try to answer it. In Heideggerian terms, as Tillich puts it, we are only able to answer because we understand the nature of “being there.” Or Tillich speak, we experience “directly and immediately the structure of being and its elements. As stated above the ontological structure is the structure of the ontological question, the assumption and self and world, and that’s what we are moving to as a prelude of discussion of finitude. Then there is also no 2 from above the structure of being grouped into three sets of pairs: individuality and universality, dynamics and form, and freedom and density. These are polarities and the first expresses self referential nature of being. These are a prori concepts. Self and world is a basic part of this structure. Humanity is not merely a passive object of study, but a living consciousness in the process of learning and apprehending these structures first hand. Humanity cannot be turned into an object of study under the guise of making understanding easier. We are the student as well as the object, so to reduce humanity itself to an object is lose the phenomena of what it means to experience being the object or being thing studied. We can’t step outside of that experience and study it as an object dispassionately without changing our understanding of what that thing is we would study.[18] This leads into what Tillich discusses in The Courage To Be where speaks of the courage to be a part of and the courage to be apart from.[19]
As the ontological question implies humanity understands itself as having selves that live in a world. This is the organically a priori set up of asking the question. The relationship between self and world is dialectical, we must be a part of, and we must be apart from. To study, to understand to live, to know, to remain true to what we understand we must go play this game of tag, now standing alone as apart from the world, now standing with the world as part of it. There is no question of the existence of the self, according to Tillich. The Postmodernists made a big deal out of the idea there is no core self. That is a somewhat different question, however, depending upon what is meant by “core,” but there is clearly some form of self since someone had to write those articles, and since even making the argument “there is no self” would require that one be a self and understand something about the concept. According to Tillich the question is self awareness of self relatedness.[20] This is a dialectical relationship in another way as well, in that the relationship of self and world is part of the larger dialectic of being and nothingness, because it is part of the depth of being and part of the basic categories that emerge from ontological structure. So the importance of this is going to be that in the discussion of finitude the apprehension of our own finitude and what we make of that vis a vi Being itself and it meaning in terms of the object of ultimate concern is hinged upon self understanding, and understanding of self in relation to the world as a crucial aspect of the depth of being; thus this will figure into understanding being itself as indicative of the object of ultimate concern. As shall be seen the object of ultimate concern is indicative of the divine aspect of Being itself, or “holy being.”
The self world polarity is the basis of the subject/object structure of reason, according to Tillich. [21] The world is seen as a structured whole, as such it is called “objective” because the many self-world relationships in being all relate more or less the same basic idea of a world. The self is a structure of “centeredness” in terms of awareness, for this reason it is termed “subjective.” In other words subjective refers to the center of awareness which takes in the sense data and relates itself to that which is beyond itself, the world. Objective refers to the single “outside” nature of that which is shared in this awareness by the many selves. Reason is actually makes these, that is it makes the self a “self” and the world a “world.” This is because it is through our constructs of reason that we attach meaning to these terms and understand them in relation to each other, which is a function of their structured relationship. Without the structuring aspect of reason being would be chaos. “Where there is reason there is a self and a world in interdependence.”[22] In cognitive terms anything toward which the cognition is directed is considered an object, be it God, or individual items in nature, attitudes, or ideas. We cannot resist making God an object for this very reason. If we think about the concept of God we make God an object. This holds a danger, however, in that we tend to objectify that which we hold in this act of cognition. “If God is brought into the subject-object structure of being he ceases to be the ground of being and becomes one being among others (first of all a being beside the subject who looks at him as an object). He ceases to be the God who is really God. “[23] Various theologies try to escape this problem in various ways. The prophetic tradition insists that we cannot see God; sight is the most objectifying aspect of cognition. Knowledge of God is reveled and understood through man, thus even when God becomes the object God remains the subject (this is just how Tillich puts it).[24] Mysticism attempts to overcome the problem by ecstatic union. In whatever way the resolution is achieved it must be to acknowledge that no language of God can make God an object. Thus language about God must be either negative, or analogical.
There is another sense in which something is made into an object, according to Tillich, that is in robbing it of all of its subjective elements. That is, to turn something into a “thing.” We resist calling human beings “things” because our subjective qualities lead us to disvalue mere things as inhuman, and to value humanity because of its subjective elements. [25] One of Tillich’s major concerns is that God not be treated as a “thing.” For those who believe that Tillich is reducing God to the level of an impersonal force or mere abstraction this is another rebuff. But atheists reduce God to the level of a thing, and turn God into another thing in creation alongside all the many things we see in the world. This has nothing to do with personality but it does mean God can’t be conceived as just an impersonal force or a mere abstraction without defeating Tillich’s purpose. He does not include this argument, but it seems rather clear from what he says. The reductionistic atheist reduces all things to the level of “a thing” devoid of subjective elements. Atheists greatly fear subjectivity. That’s always the bottom line in all of their refutations of God arguments, “that’s subjective.” The reductionist view-point treats all sense data as “information” and information is a collection of things, which can be homogenized and abstracted into “data” and “reduced” to it’s most basic level which of course would lose any subjective elements as it loses the phenomena that makes the aspect that which requires reducing to fit into the atheist world view. The reductionist sees human perceptive powers and thought as side effects of chemicals and brain function that makes thought “mere subjectivity” and that is among the phenomena to be lost in explaining human consciousness. To reduce humanity to “a thing” one must reduce human consciousness to a mere epiphenomenon. Parmenides saw the basic ontological structure as the unity of being and the word (logos) in which it is grasped. Thus from this Tillich draws the observation that subjectivity is not an epiphenomena but a primary phenomena although related in polar opposite to objectivity.[26] One cannot derive subjectivity from objectivity or vice versa. The attempt to do so has meant either the subjugation of humanity to numbers and to machines, or the romantic rebellion and undisclosed abandon which sacrifice reason. Tillich asserts that the basic ontological structure cannot be derived. The relation is one of polarity. “What precedes the duality of self and world, of subject and object,” he asks? His answer is that this is a question in which “reason looks into its own abyss—an abyss in which distinction and derivation disappear, only revelation can answer this question.” [27]

[1] Tillich, Shaking…, chapter 7 quoted from online version, Website, Religion-online, URL: visted feb. 5, 2010.
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid
[5] find
[6] Tillich, ST I, 163.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., 163-64
[9] Ibid, 164
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Tillich, History…, op cit, 541.
[14] Tillich, ST 1, 166
[15] Tillich, ST I, 164.
[16] Ibid, 166
[17] Ibid, 168
[18] Ibid., 169-170.
[19] Tillich, Courage…, op cit, find
[20] Tillich ST I 169.
[21] Ibid., 171
[22] Ibid, 172
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Tillich, System I, 173
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid, 174.

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Monday, September 08, 2014

My Answer to Carrier's "Why I don't buy the Resurrection"

  photo caravaggio-thomas.jpg

 I'm going against advice and deal with arguments by carm atheists because I think it's important to remember that certain things have been answered. Dealing with an old article by Richard Carrier that was sighted recently on CARM. Even though it's old these guys are rallying around it like its new and the same bunck is being noised about by atheists all the time.

Carrier's article is here:

this is prompted by Fleetmouse's statement that:

"You have no answers to Carrier's essay. "

He seems the most worked up over the idea that since carrier proves the superstitious nature of the folks of Jesus day, like he never considered that. That's something I knew about as a kid. I used it in highschool to justify my own atheism (1973).  I can't imagine anyone being impressed by it. Be that as it may that's not an argument so examine it.

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My first reaction to reading  the beginning is it's an argument from analogy based upon ideological assumptions. the argument itself assumes what all atheists assume "anything that tells us a SN event can happen must be wrong a priori" they always jump the track form that (the SN itself must be wrong) to "the historicity must be wrong as well.That's really nothing but good old fashioned doubt. This is something in which I refuse to believe, therefore, it can't be true.

To reinforce it he uses argument from analogy. He shows the story about some saint in the 500s which is ridiculous. Then asserts that because that story is false then the NT stories are false. That is argument from analogy that is not proof. There's a huge difference in the level of evidential understanding, claim and documentation in first century and sixth. Sixth century story is European and not Mid eastern. They had an even more tenuous grasp of proof and testimony than did the Mediterranean folk who had the Greeks to teach them. From point on the answers to his essay are just the regular arguments one finds in any argument about the res. I'll have more on it latter.

Te then asserts Hume's foolishness that "why doesn't this happen today. it does. In fact he's begging the question. We have tons of miracle claims from the current era and some good science that shows they are unexplained. The only factor that is different is the prayer, so prayer is the logical candidate to explain it. In addition to the Lourdes stuff (above link) there is also the Casdroph evidence. While not as systematic or rigorous it does have the evaluation of a medical staff of a hospital in the 70s.

Carrier is using an example from the time of legends in the dark ages which is not backed by anything like the kind of testimonial support of the Gospels.In making that argument he's just begging the question and asserting the ideology of naturalism. He evoking doubt as a fact rather than proving facts. again, he is privileging doubt. Doubt privileged means doubt becomes proof. The dark age European stuff has nothing like the eight levels of verification that I've demonstrated back the Gospels.

Let's examine his specific arguments. Carrier states:

But we should try to be more specific in our reasons, and not rely solely on common sense impressions. And there are specific reasons to disbelieve the story of Genevieve, and they are the same reasons we have to doubt the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus. For the parallel is clear: the Gospels were written no sooner to the death of their main character--and more likely many decades later--than was the case for the account of Genevieve; and like that account, the Gospels were also originally anonymous--the names now attached to them were added by speculation and oral tradition half a century after they were actually written. Both contain fabulous miracles supposedly witnessed by numerous people. Both belong to the same genre of literature: what we call a "hagiography," a sacred account of a holy person regarded as representing a moral and divine ideal. Such a genre had as its principal aim the glorification of the religion itself and of the example set by the perfect holy person represented as its central focus. Such literature was also a tool of propaganda, used to promote certain moral or religious views, and to oppose different points of view. The life of Genevieve, for example, was written to combat Arianism. The canonical Gospels, on the other hand, appear to combat various forms of proto-Gnosticism. So being skeptical of what they say is sensible from the start.[1]

That's exactly why we can't compare that story to the resurrection. Not only is it from a different time and different culture but it was written for different reasons. The Gospels were primarily written to answer concerns of given communities of the early chruch. Their concerns revolved around securing the testimony of their cloud of witnesses as they began dying off. They were making the transition from oral culture to written culture. They were deal with the original testimony of eye witnesses. The European guys were dealing with a palimpsest [2] of  legend that never had that kind of eye witness support. Thus they are not analogous and the argument from analogy fails.

Carrier asserts the typical atheist pechant for 19th century dating of the Gospels.

It is certainly reasonable to doubt the resurrection of Jesus in the flesh, an event placed some time between 26 and 36 A.D. For this we have only a few written sources near the event, all of it sacred writing, and entirely pro-Christian. Pliny the Younger was the first non-Christian to even mention the religion, in 110 A.D., but he doesn't mention the resurrection. No non-Christian mentions the resurrection until many decades later--Lucian, a critic of superstition, was the first, writing in the mid-2nd century, and likely getting his information from Christian sources. So the evidence is not what any historian would consider good.
Note he stresses that it's all "sacred" that means in atheist speak we can't trust it because anything religious people write must be a lie and propaganda. Of course any testimony in favor of the resurrection would be sacred so there can't be any such thing as pro res evidence that is not a lie and can be trusted. He implies that the resurrection was not part of the faith until early second century or there about. That's an old fashioned view that was disproved a long time ago. Now the consensus in the field is Koester's notion of the pre Mark Passion narrative with empty tomb emerging in  mid first century. "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" [3]

 Now we find one of the more ridiculous tactics to which Carrier resorts. He pulls a bait and switch between historian's standard of evidence and the atheists own standard.

Nevertheless, Christian apologist Douglas Geivett has declared that the evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus meets, and I quote, "the highest standards of historical inquiry" and "if one takes the historian's own criteria for assessing the historicity of ancient events, the resurrection passes muster as a historically well-attested event of the ancient world," as well-attested, he says, as Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C.[5] Well, it is common in Christian apologetics, throughout history, to make absurdly exaggerated claims, and this is no exception. Let's look at Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon for a minute:
He's going to through a list of things where the documentation for Caesar is supposedly so much better than the Gospels. First of all, this is a total the reality of the issues. In setting up the idea that Caesar is better documented the notion of an atheist victory is looming. The problem is we should really expect that because Cesar was the ruler of the known world at that time. Jesus was an itinerant prophet form the sticks who did not even interest the historians or men of letters. That we have any testimony of Jesus is a miracle. The idea that Caesar is better documented is not proof that Jesus is badly documented. Moreover, it may be overstated that Jesus' evidence is better (he did quote a perhaps rash comment to that effect) yet let's examine the aspects of the statement and see they are using two different sets of criteria.

First he argues that we have Caesar's writings, we have no writings of Jesus. He asserts that this equates to not knowing what Jesus said or believed. We actually more about Jesus beliefs than Caesar's becuase while Caesar express some ideas Jesus is quoted by his followers in a full body of teaching that covers many aspects. Since the Jews had an oral culture in which they memoirs the words of their teachers and spit them back ver batiam we probalby do have a good accurate understanding of Jesus' teachings, at least as they were applied by his first follows a few years after the communities were established. Oral tradition was not just wild random rummer but actuate reflection of the teacher through the student's memorization. It worked and there is a great deal of evidence to that effect.

Secondly he records the fact that at least one of Caesar's enemies documented his crossing the Rubicon, that is Cicero. While he argues that there are no such records of Jesus enemies or neural particles that is not the case. There's good documentation that Jesus was written about in the Talmudist writings, some of those date to first century.MICHAEL L. RODKINSON in his translation of the Babylonian Talmud says:

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...[4]

 Moreover the fact that Talmudic sources talked about Jesus is born out by Celsus. The points that he says the Jews gave him are things the Talmud says about the alleged "Jesus figure." See my pages on Jesus in the Talmud for good documentation.

 He also includes inscriptions on coins. That's not a good source and it doesn't prove much. We had a dime with Mercury on it. That doesn't mean Mercury was a real guy. Coins documented legends and mythology.

He tires to use mulitiple sources to establish Caesar's crossing the Rubicon:
    Fourth, we have the story of the "Rubicon Crossing" in almost every historian of the period, including the most prominent scholars of the age: Suetonius, Appian,Cassius Dio,  Plutarch. Moreover, these scholars have a measure of proven reliability, since a great many of their reports on other matters have been confirmed in material evidence and in other sources. In addition, they often quote and name many different sources, showing a wide reading of the witnesses and documents, and they show a desire to critically examine claims for which there is any dispute. If that wasn't enough, all of them cite or quote sources written by witnesses, hostile and friendly, of the Rubicon crossing and its repercussions.
 Just having good sources, or even better vetting than the Gospels, is not proof that the Gosples have no historical basis. It may or may not be true that the statement by Douglas Geivett  might be a bit of an exaggeration in being as well attested as the crossing of the Rubicon. Nevertheless that is not proof that the Gospels don't hold up. I also say we can give Carrier a good run for his money. He only names three sources that back the crossing, they are not eye witnesses. We have four sources that are eye witnesses. Although in reality it's all coming form the pre Mark Passion narrative. Yet the veracity of it is attested to by it's use in other sources. So in using in four Gospels the communities produces those Gospels are saying "this source is correct." That's not counting non canonical gospels that agree with it. one I now of is GPete (Gospel of Peter). That's at least five attestations. Moreover, the sources Carrier sites for backing the crossing were not eye witnesses and were not contemporary, probably got their information from Caesar's writings.[5] That is not even verification.

At this point Carrier makes several absurd statements: "Compare this with the resurrection: we have not even a single established historian mentioning the event until the 3rd and 4th centuries, and then only by Christian historians." That's not true first of all. We have the attestation of Papias, his writings dated bewteen 95 and 120 AD. That he sure was before the third century. Clement of Rome is said to have been writing around 94 AD. Polycarp's death is attributed to 155 AD..The point is all of these guys attest to the resurrection and all of them claim to have had ties with actual disciples and Apostles who Knew Jesus. One might argue that they are not established historians but the historians of that era were not academically trained social scientists they were just any educated person who wrote about what hapepned in the past these guys have a link to the eye witness testimony that has to outweigh the onus of being "chruch historians." The historians writing about Caesar probalby got their information form Caesar. Carrier goes on, "And of those few others who do mention it within a century of the event, none of them show any wide reading, never cite any other sources, show no sign of a skilled or critical examination..."That's just not true. All of the afore mentioned chruch father attribute their knowledge to eye witnesses, within whom they had personal contact. None of the historians Carrier sites can do that for the crossing. He says they dont' show wide reading or skill as historians. That is nonsense. Clement of Rome (who seems to have known both Peter and Paul) seems to be widely read. His letter is elpqunt and shows a vast learning as a complex concept of the Gospel is presented. Carrier might refuse to accept because the content is Christians but no oen can deny the complexity. Moreover that's just not necessary to the honesty and knowledge level of the witnesses. So what if they are not great writers compared to Plutarch, that doesn't negate the first hand nature of their evidence.

Here he makes an argument that is quite fallacious. It's so telling that all the CARM atheist acted like it's a big proof:
    Fifth, the history of Rome could not have proceeded as it did had Caesar not physically moved an army into Italy. Even if Caesar could have somehow cultivated the mere belief that he had done this, he could not have captured Rome or conscripted Italian men against Pompey's forces in Greece. On the other hand, all that is needed to explain the rise of Christianity is a belief--a belief that the resurrection happened. There is nothing that an actual resurrection would have caused that could not have been caused by a mere belief in that resurrection. Thus, an actual resurrection is not necessary to explain all subsequent history, unlike Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon.

That's just shifting arguments. In effect he's saying if this event had no happened historian would be different so therefore we know it happen. That is a silly way for any historian to think.The fact is yes some group of solider moves across teh river to fight Pompey and that changed Roman history. That means they got men across the river. that in no way proves that Caesar led them or that any  other things Caesar says really happened the way he says it. That's like saying we know that JFK was shot by a lone gunman becuase had he not been shot he would have ran for re-election. History would be different, so therefore it was a lone gunman. The same fallacy works with the claim that it proves is that the assassination was a conspiracy. All it proves is that the President was assassinated.

Moreover, he asserts: "There is nothing that an actual resurrection would have caused that could not have been caused by a mere belief in that resurrection." That's really a red herring because there would be no belief without an empty tomb, and they could not have gotten the body past the guards had he not risen from the dead. To answer that this could be held by mere bleief and didn't require a real resurrection is nothing but begging the question. We can't assert that we know there was true resurrection just because bleief in resurrection might have flourished without an actual event. We don't really know that it did, and there is a possibility that the belief would not be possible with an actual event. That is rather a moot point and it is no way to do history!

The big historian's brilliant knowledge fails to impress. There is one other major issue that the CARM folks were so taken with. he argues that superstition was  so rampant in that day they would bleieve anything. That's supposed that prove it didn't happen.  Some of the CARM atheists seemed to think this is some big innovative to show the superstition level of the day. I knew about that as a child. I sued that argument in my pro atheism arguments when I was a junior in high school.

But reasons to be skeptical do not stop there. We must consider the setting--the place and time in which these stories spread. This was an age of fables and wonder. Magic and miracles and ghosts were everywhere, and almost never doubted. I'll give one example that illustrates this: we have several accounts of what the common people thought about lunar eclipses. They apparently had no doubt that this horrible event was the result of witches calling the moon down with diabolical spells. So when an eclipse occurred, everyone would frantically start banging pots and blowing brass horns furiously, to confuse the witches' spells. So tremendous was this din that many better-educated authors complain of how the racket filled entire cities and countrysides. This was a superstitious people.

the sources he footnotes are an article by himself and his Masters thesis. In those articles he quotes other source but does not document with standard method of FN. He never shows that the superstitions about eclipse were prevalent in Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, nor does he show that people were so set on them that they could be convinced to see things that weren't there.

He talks at length about how people in that day were certain that an eclipse was a witch stealing the moon or a Dragon easting the sun. the idea that they would believe an eclipse was special dragon eating the sun or witch stealing the moon or something. That doesn't prove that they would believe in a resurrection just because they are told about it. Carrier would assert this but it's the opposite: the eclipse is a real event that is very dramatic. It's rarity and its' encompassing nature, it seem terrifying and mysterious. It's really happening, the sun really goes away for a bit. That doesn't prove they would believe something just becuase they are told about it. That proves the opposite really that there has to be a real event that's terrifying and out of the ordinary to trigger such belief. A real resurrection would fill the fill the bill,I don't know what else would.

Another problem is that he doesn't even bother to document the time or place of Jesus day. He's not quoting evdience about how Jews of Jesus time thought. He's asserting that all ancinet world people thought the same. that's an old atheist assumption that all ancient people are stupid.

Only a small class of elite well-educated men adopted more skeptical points of view, and because they belonged to the upper class, both them and their arrogant skepticism were scorned by the common people, rather than respected. Plutarch laments how doctors were willing to attend to the sick among the poor for little or no fee, but they were usually sent away, in preference for the local wizard.[10] By modern standards, almost no one had any sort of education at all, and there were no mass media disseminating scientific facts in any form. By the estimates of William Harris, author of Ancient Literacy [1989], only 20% of the population could read anything at all, fewer than 10% could read well, and far fewer still had any access to books. He found that in comparative terms, even a single page of blank papyrus cost the equivalent of thirty dollars--ink, and the labor to hand copy every word, cost many times more. We find that books could run to the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Consequently, only the rich had books, and only elite scholars had access to libraries, of which there were few. The result was that the masses had no understanding of science or critical thought. They were neither equipped nor skilled, nor even interested, in challenging an inspiring story, especially a story like that of the Gospels: utopian, wonderful, critical of upper class society--even more a story that, if believed, secured eternal life. Who wouldn't have bought a ticket to that lottery? Opposition arose mainly from prior commitments to other dogmas, not reason or evidence.

He's talking about Europe in the middle ages.He has some application to first century meridian. That's a long way from proving that a whole popular would up and believe in resurrection just become people started saying someone rose form the dead. Some of the advocates of resurrection were those educated men who were not carried by superstition. Paul and Luke fall into that category. Some of the Romans Paul was talking to in his letter to the Romans would fall into it. Priscilla,Paul's friend the wife of Aquila probalby, since her name is a Patrician name.

End notes

[1] Carrier FN at this point:

Besides my summary of Metzger on The New Testament Canon, cf. R. Burridge, What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (1992); H. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (1990); W. Lane's New London Commentary on the New Testament (1974); and also Bart Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (1993).

[2] palimpsest:
noun: palimpsest; plural noun: palimpsests
  1. a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
    • something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
      "Sutton Place is a palimpsest of the taste of successive owners"

[3] Helmutt Koester. Ancient Christian Gospels:Their History and Development.
Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. 1990, 218.
[4] Babylonian Talmud, Book 10: History of the Talmud, tr. Vol 1 Chapter 2
by Michael L. Rodkinson, [1918], at accessed 9/6/14
 The Talmud was written in second century on, but the works it used were passed on orally and date much earlier. Rodkinson states:
 "The Talmud is a combination of Mishna and Gemara, the latter is a collection of Mishnayoth, Tosephtas, Mechilta, Siphra, Siphre and Boraithas, all of these, interpreted and discussed by the Amoraim, Saboraim, and also Gaonim at a later period. "The Mishna is the authorized codification of the oral or unwritten law, which on the basis of the written law contained in Pentateuch, developed during the second Temple, and down to the end of the second century of the common era." The author of which was R. Jehuda, the prince named "Rabbi" (flourishing toward the end of the second century), taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis."
[5] Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD. Suetonius wasn't born until 70 AD! Appian was bron in 95 AD  Cassius Dio born in 155,
Plutarch born in 45 AD. so he could have been there if he had been taken along as a two year old historian.

On CARM HRG says: " It is mentioned in De bello civile, Cicero's Philipplicae and Velleius Paterculus. "

Interesting that Carrier didn't use those guys becuase he has a Ph.D. in world history, so he surely would have known they were contemporary with the event. He must know of them. But one might well wonder were they there or did they know if  from reading Caesar? Sure they knew the crossing was alleged to have existed, that doesn't mean they were there.