Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Outrage and incredulity part 2

The groundwork for understanding this shift was laid by Thomas S. Kuhn in his theory of paradigm shifts. Kuhn's famous theory was that scientific thought works through paradigm acquisition, and that paradigms change when they can no longer absorb anomalies into the model and must account for them in some other way. This theory entails the idea that science is culturally constructed; our ideas about science are culturally rooted and our understanding of the world in a scientific fashion is rooted in culture. For this reason he thought that science is not linear cumulative progress. "scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes replaced in whole or in part by a new one..." (Thomas kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," (92)

"In section X we shall discover how closely the view of science as cumulative is entangled with a dominant epistemology that takes knowledge to be a construction placed directly upon raw sense data by the mind. And in section XI we shall examine the strong support provided to the same historiographical scheme by the techniques of effective science pedagogy. Nevertheless, despite the immense plausibility of that ideal image, there is increasing reason to wonder whether it can possibly be an image of science. After the pre-paradigm period the assimilation of all new theories and of almost all new sorts of phenomena has demanded the destruction of a prior paradigm and a consequent conflict between competing schools of scientific thought. Cumulative anticipation of unanticipated novelties proves to be an almost nonexistent exception to the rule of scientific development.The man who takes historic fact seriously must suspect that science does not tend toward the ideal that our image of its cumulativeness has suggested. Perhaps it is another sort of enterprise."(Ibid,94)

What all of this means is that science is not written in stone. We do not pile one fact upon another until we get to the truth. We formulate a concept of the world and we hold to it and defend it against change until there are too many problems with it then we move to another totally different world view. This is what has been going on in science since the French enlightenment. Materialism replaced super-naturalism and Materialists have been defending it against change all this time. Now there are too many problems, they have brought in so many ideas contrary to materialism it is not meaningful anymore; paradigm shift is imminent and has begun in many areas. This is not to say that Kuhn had anything to say about the supernatural, he was a materialist. But his theory shows us that change in the concept of materialism is on the way.

Kuhn is not alone in these observations, major scientific thinkers have questioned scientific 'pretense of objectivity' throughout the century:

This 'bigger' aspect can also be seen in Rosenberg's 'liberal naturalism' [CS:JCS:3.1.77]:

"The question of scientific objectivity becomes more compelling when one considers that doubts about the reductive paradigm are by no means new. William James (1890), Charles Sherrington (1951), Erwin Schrodinger (1944, 1958), Karl Popper and John Eccles (1977)--among others--have insisted that the reductive view is inadequate to describe reality. This is not a fringe group. They are among the most thoughtful and highly honored philosophers and scientists of the past century. How is it that their deeply held and vividly expressed views have been so widely ignored? Is it not that we need to see the world as better organized than the evidence suggests?

"Appropriately, the most ambitious chapter of this section is the final one by Willis Harman. Is the conceptual framework of science sufficiently broad to encompass the phenomenon of consciousness, he asks, or must it be somehow enlarged to fit the facts of mental reality? Attempting an answer, he considers the degree to which science can claim to be objective and to what extent it is influenced by the culture in which it is immersed. Those who disagree might pause to consider the religious perspective from which modern science has emerged.

"There is reason to suppose that the roots of our bias toward determinism lie deeper in our cultural history than many are accustomed to suppose. Indeed, it is possible that this bias may even predate modern scientific methods. In his analysis of thirteenth-century European philosophy, Henry Adams (1904) archly observed: "Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity the right to contradict himself, which is one of Man's chief pleasures." One wonders to what extent reductive science has merely replaced Thomas's God with the theory of everything."

Science lacks the absolute guarantee that many atheists think it has. The more complex and removed from immediate observation the question is the less certainty it has. This means that it is not a fit vehicle to tell us about god.God is not a scientific question. Science is not prior to philosophy but the other way around. Science evolved out of philosophy, it used to be called 'natural philosophy.' While science does offer a sense of "working" its what it works for that matters. It does not work to give us any understanding of ultimate reality. Thus is it not a fair question to ask why there is no proof of God scientifically? Of cousre not, because God is not a scientific question. The reason God is not science is because God is not empirical. God is not given in sense data. Now atheist may ask why that is, they sometimes ask "why doesn't God make himself better know," that's because God is not a big guy in the sky. The same reason why he's not empirical. Because he's not a "he" the "he is just a metaphor. God is beyond our understanding, the basis of reality. God is prior to even epistemology. That would be like expecting evidence of the eloctro-magnetic spectrum to tell us about the basis of existence itself. Atheists continually treat God as though he is a big man in the sky, although for some this may be because they want to take on the fundies most of all. Such an atheist is John Loftus.

John Loftus

We’ve argued against the concept of faith many times before, but let me try again. I have argued that the Christian faith originated as and is purely human religion completely accountable by humans acting in history without needing anWy divine agency at all. But setting that important discussion aside, faith is a cop out, especially when it comes to the number of things Christians must take on faith in order to believe. Let’s recount some of them.

Here is a typical example of an atheist ragging on faith. That is to say, he is not analyzing the basis of faith at a deep level, but merely dismissing it as some sort of non answer. It will become clear in a moment that the specific reasons he gives are those that view God as an empirical object of knowledge and thus a big man in the sky. I know that Loftus will say this is because he's concerned with the fundies more than with liberals. But true though that may be it still gives a mis-impression to only deal with faith at such a superficial level and never acknowledge that it is a much more complex process than this. Consider his argument about questioning why God created:

No reasonable answer can be given for why a triune God, who was perfect in love neither needing nor wanting anything, created in the first place. Grace and Love are non-answers, especially when we see the actual world that resulted. For Christians to say God wanted human creatures who freely love him is nonsense, for why did he want this at all? If love must be expressed then God needed to express his love and that implies a lack. He speaks of "he" and "want" and so forth as though God is just a big man. This is part of his incredulity over the Trinity because how could a big man in the sky be three big men in the sky and yet just one big man in the sky? He's basically arguing here that god can't be a big man and thus can't want anything. But assumes that he must know what form God could take if he isn't a big man. That means he has to regard God as an object of empirical knowledge, of course it would never apply to anything beyond our understanding. If we regard God as the ground of being these questions are all moot, thus we have to frame them differently. We could begin by not asking "why would a God who has no needs craete in the first place?" That question is unanswerable for the ground of being, since we don't even know if we can speak of "creation" in the same sense. By what can't be answered can't be answered negatively either. We can't rule out the love answer on the premise that God can't love becasue he's the ground of being. Indeed most of the major theologians who speak of God this way (Tillich, McQuarry and Von Balthsar) find a link between being and love in the first place. Of course we can't speak of God "needing" but we could speak of God producing. Or we can speak of being producing the beings. McQuarry speaks of "being lets be." We have to ask a different set of questions to begin with if we conceive of God as the basis of reality rather than an object of knowledge.

Loftus goes on to play the same game in relation to the three in one aspect:

It’s hard enough to conceive of one person who is an eternally uncased God, much less a Godhead composed of three eternally uncased persons. There are some Christians who maintain the Father eternally created the Logos and the Spirit, while others claim that three persons in one Godhead is simply an eternally brute inexplicable fact. Why is that brute fact more reasonable to accept than accepting the brute fact of the laws of the universe, which is all that’s needed to produce the universe? There are social Trinitarians and anti-social Trinitarians. Both sides accuse the other side of abandoning the Chalcedonian creed, either in the direction of tri-theism, or in the direction of Unitarianism.

First of all his knowledge of Orthodoxy is slipping here. Either that or he doesn't care to define Christianity by the ruels of the Christian community. No Christian believes that the Logos and the Spirit are created, as that is a violation of the creeds. His appeal to the laws of the universe is not applicable here because it is not a competitor for God's position as transcendental signifier. In fact laws of nature are totally inexplicable and we do not know what they. They no longer carry the same wight they did in the enlightenment. Thus they are a dandy reason to believe in God, because the supposition of a mind an notion of a set of disembodied laws is pretty had to grasp (see the previous article). But the argument he makes is absurd in light of the Ground of Being. we don't have to ask how can a big man in the sky be three big men in the sky and yet one big man in the sky. As ground of being God can easily contain within his divine economy three persona which share the same essence as all three are merely reflections of the one ground of being. McQuarry makes this point himself where defines the Trinity as having to do with the one and many and the notion of being as the ground of diversification of existence (see Principles of Christian Theology).

Atheists storm about the suppossed lack of evidence, yet they put all their marbles on issues such as string theory and mutliverses, matters for which there is no empirical data of any kind. Then they rail against God because there's no empirical data! Belief in God is a realization that comes from understanding about the nature of being, especially one's own being. It is not the result of empirical data, nor can it be. The concept is misguided and that expectation is a waste of time. There two trajectories that inform us of the nature of being such that we might associate it with the sense of the numinous. These are deductive understanding fo transcendental signifiers on the one hand, (matters such as the ontological argument), and then personal experience on the other. Mystical experience, the sense of numinous these are matters of realizing God. They offer a deep seated conviction that can't be refuted by mere circular reasoning or question begging of atheist assertion. On the other hand, deductive arguments demonstrate the logical necessity of thinking about being in religious terms.

  Labels: " God Arguments, apologetics, Athiest charge "no evidence, God Talk, is God complex?, John Lofuts, reasons to believe

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Outrage and Incredulity: The Atheist Charge of No Evidence part 1

What is all this stuff really about? It never ceases to amaze me how passionate atheists can be about nothing. I mean by that, atheism is supposed to be nothing more than an absence of belief, right? Yet so many times I see them full of fire and arrogance, blowing their little minds just because someone holds a view they don't like. Why? Consider this tirade by Arizona Atheist on Atheist Watch:

Arizona Atheist

Faith is bullshit. Your claiming it's "complex" does nothing to solve your problem. Theists have no evidence for their beliefs and that's that. All "arguments" are simply "god of the gaps" arguments and nothing more. Due to the tremendous lack of proof/evidence for all theistic claims it's all based on "blind faith." So, yes Loftus is correct. Faith is nonsense. Clearly outraged by belief, but why? The major thinkers in Western culture have been religious, only a tiny handful of great thinkers throughout history have been true atheists, yet to look at such comments (which are a dime a dozen) one would think that belief was the most idiotic thing anyone ever thought of. One of the things that really strikes me as absurd is their insistence that "there's no evidence at all..." This is bound to strike me the wrong way when I have 42 arguments for the existence of God (of course we all know the importance of the number 42). No evidence, except these 42 arguments! Why the histrionics? here I will argue two things: (1) The reason it seems that there is no evidence is because atheists value only the methods that give them the answers they want, they do not accept evdience for God because it has to come from the wrong methods, and they reject the methods becasue they are mining their data. (2) They are angered by the concept that other methods may be valid because would imply that they are only looking at the surface of the issues. Why that should I alarm them so I'm not sure. I think it's a cultural thing, the hate group derives some sense of superiority from deriding the target (according to the standard FBI model).

As I have pointed out numerous times, belief in God is not merely adding a fact to the universe. The question of God is not a question about just the existence of one more thing. It's a question of orientation to being as a whole, especially to one's own individual being. If God exists then all of reality is something other than we think it is. If God is real then I am more than myself I am a creature of God. Atheists and theists live in two different worlds. Thus no amount of empirical data is valid as an answer. So the kinds of answers that would count cannot be sought though scientific evidence alone. The atheist approach is to see this as a limitation or an indication that there is no God. That approach obviously fist what they want to see in the first place. Now many of them wills ay "I was a Christian for 20 years." None of them ever follow that up by saying "I scored real high on the M scale, i had mystical consciousness and union with Christ and Baptism of the Holy Spirit and then I realize it was all false and delusion and made up.The only people who come to this conclusion are those are didn't have it in the first place.

I'm not arguing that they weren't "saved" or they weren't "real Christians." Being a "real Christian" and having Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or "mystical experience" are three different things, they are not three different names for the same thing. Nor am I saying that strong Christians can't give up their faith. Bu strong Christians tend to give up their faith because they fall into sin, they outgrow their milieu and don't go on to higher understanding, or they suffer grave disappointment (such as death of a spouse) and never work through it. No one that I know of ever gave up belief in God just because some intellectual argument was hard to answer, or some body of work intimated that it wasn't true, and here I am speaking of those who had the advanced personal experiences. Those sorts of experiences indicate that it is real. These are such deep confirmations in the heart of hearts that they cannot be easily denied or given up. Of course atheists don't even value this form of knowledge. Deeply fearing the subjective, they just ascribe it to "psychology" and for them that term is as good as saying "lie."

The difference in these two ways of thinking is striking. But the atheists can offer no evidence or arguments to invalidate the phenomenological approach. Faith is an existential response to an phenomenological apprehension. This means that faith is personal individual response, not one formed by education or trained through opponent conditioning; it is a response of the individual although course cultural and learning and even genetics come into it. It is a response to the apprehension of sense data apart from the organizing principles imposed upon sense data by genetics, culture, trainnig, psychological pre disposition. It's a response to the suggestions made by the phenomena themselves as we apprehend them. By "existential" it is fundamental to our existence and within the moment of perception. What exactly is being perceived? That we can't know, but it varies from person to person. Or I should say the vehicle of it varies from person to person. One person may find that a full blown mystical experience is what brings them around, another may be exposed to just one phrase or one image and find that merely a pang of the heart is all that is needed.

Atheists draw such a hard and fast connection between science and the world. One could easily get the impression that the world comes with little labels on rocks and trees that say "naturalistic." If religion was true the labels would say "trees by God." But when I argue my Transcendental Signifier argument they will say that we are just imposing meaning. That's one tier standard response. Human brain sees pattern and imposes meaning upon pattern it's just ink blots. The world is a big ink blot. But they don't apply that to science. They seem to think scinece is just straight forward and literally true and unlimited in its ability to know all of reality that ever be. We derive the kind of certainty from scinece that we do because it's dealing mainly with things that can be observed. These are relatively easy questions. No one thinks a question like "where did the universe come form" is easy. Atheists seem to infer that it is easy and if challenges that sense of certainty they become irate. I often wonder why certainty is so important to them. But have totally obscured the truth of scinece, that it is culturally constructed and not absolute. Their ire is such that when I argued this on CARM once one of them said "you are scum!" Of course they pronounce the basis of knowledge (epistemology) to be 'bull shit" because it's philosophy, but they never try to undersatnd the philosophical basis to their empiricism. They take that as absolute proof beyond question.

Science is a relative cultural construct. It is not absolute knowledge, it is not progress based upon cumulative effects. It works by paradigm shifts, with each shift the whole ground changes. Every time it changes we start over. It is not linear or progressive.

Example: Top down causality in brain mind.

top down means something above the brain is directing causal states in brain function: the mind is not reduced to the brain because its directing the brain. Top down causlity is a scientific fact, it was proven log ago, but because it disproves the reductionist ideology it is ignored as though its not true:

Quote: Rosenberg (from journal of conscientiousness studies)

"Take the matter of 'downward causation' to which Harman gives some attention. Why should this be an issue in brain dynamics? As Erich Harth points out in Chapter 44, connections between higher and lower centers of the brain are reciprocal. They go both ways, up and down. The evidence (the scientific evidence) for downward causation was established decades ago by the celebrated Spanish histologist Ramon y Cajal, yet the discussion goes on. Why? The answer seems clear: If brains work like machines, they are easier to understand. The facts be damned!"[Miller quoting Rosenberg, Journal of Consciousness Studies, op. cit.]

e.Consciousness as a basic property of nature.

JCS, 3 (1), 1996, pp.33-35

Naturalism loses its ground.

This is a probabilistic justification argument; It does not seek to directly prove that God exists, but that it is rational to believe in God and that there are good reasons to. In a nut shell the argument says that the concept of materialism has been changing over the years. It has now incorporated so many idea that were once lumped in with magic, supernatural, or generally "unscientific" categories that the old concept of materialism as an objection to God belief and a refutation of religion is now obsolete. Essentially there are 10 areas:

(1) Quantum Theory (no need for cause/effect)

(2) Big bang Cosmology (realm beyond the natural)

(3) Medicine (healing)

(4) Consciousness (invites concept of dualism)

(6) Maslow's Archetypes (universal ideas)

(7) Miracles (empirical evidence)

(8) Near Death Experiences (scientific evidence)

(9) Esp Research (the fact that they do it)

(10) Validity of religious experience (Shrinks no longer assume pathology)

The argument turns on the basic historical fact that atheists have lost the ground upon which they dismissed God from science in the first place. In their book Lindberg and Numbers demonstrate that the moment at which this happened was when La Place said "I have no need of that hypothesis," meaning the idea that God created the universe. What he meant was that God was not needed as an explanation because we now have naturalistic cause and effect, which explains everything. But the atheist has cashed in cause and effect to over come the Big Bang.

Naturalists are now willing to consider ideas like the self caused universe, Hawkings unbounded condition which removes cause completely as a consideration; or based upon quantum theory they are willing to accept the notion that causality is an illusion, that the universe could just pop up out of nothing. With that commitment they lose the ground upon which they first removed God from consideration. Now, perhaps they still do not need God as a causal explanation, but in the Religious a pirori argument, and in the innate religious instinct argument I say that belief was never predicated upon a need for explanation in the first place.

Nevertheless, the fact still remains, the reason for dismissing God was the sufficiency of natural causation as explainable, with that gone there is no longer any grounds for dismissing consideration of God from the universe.I will argue that more than that is going. There is a paradigm shift underway which demonstrates a total change in scientific thinking in many areas and over many disciplines. That change demonstrates that the materialist concept is wrong; there is more to reality than just the material world. There are other aspects to the material world wich are non-deterministic, non-mechanistic, and which call into question the whole presupposition of excluding the supernatural from consideration.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Answering Lowder's Holocaust argument against God

I hope the reader will read all the material in FN [1] and [2]. [1] is Loswers full J argument. 2 is my full free will defense. I have to truncate both arguments and just present samples because there is too much between both to be put in a single blog piece. This means I will not do justice to either argument.

One observation we must keep in mind is that Lodwer lowers the bar from disproof of God to an argument against God. He does not claim he can disprove God. This is similar to my own ove of rejecting proofs for God's existence and in their place arguing rational warrant for belief.

The basis of Lowder's argument seems to be that the Holocaist is unique as a sort of off scale (my term not his) evil. It can't be approached through conventional free will defenses, Here is a sample of his argument:

From Lowder's Argument:

Holocaust persecution of Jews included anti-Semitic laws which made discrimination against Jews not just legally permissible but required; various forms of public identification and exclusion; organized violence; physical displacement; internment; widespread theft and plunder; and forced labor.  The Nazis murdered six million Jews, about two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe, primarily through mass shootings and death camps.[4] [his fn, see my fn3] Philosopher Andrea Weisberger explains what makes the Holocaust a unique and egregious example of horrendous evil.

The intent was to annihilate, without remainder, the Jewish people. This is genocide in its purest, most horrific configuration. What occurred to the Jews was not exactly like what occurred to other people who came within the German grasp, though these others suffered in the same concentration camps and endured the same physical and emotional deprivations. What was singular about the Nazi plan for the Jews was the intention to completely and categorically destroy an entire people simply because they existed, and for no other reason. The fact of existence as a Jew was reason enough for the Jewish death sentence. And this was the rationale for turning 1.5 million Jewish children into smoke. No other intention seems as purely evil. This intention marks the Holocaust as a different kind of evil, a kind of evil which is unfathomable.[5][his 5 seee my 3]

Also, notice that, although not directly relevant to generic or mere theism, the Holocaust would seem to be even more problematic for any specific version of theism which regards the Jews as God's chosen people. But, rather than pursue that argument, in the sections which follow I will enumerate specific features of the Holocaust which are surprising on the assumption that theism is true.

3.1. Biological Pain and the Suffering of Holocaust Victims

By all accounts, Holocaust victims experienced pain which was often biologically gratuitous, chronic, and debilitating. As just a partial description of this pain, consider the USHMM's summary of sicknesses and epidemics in the concentration camps: The overall conditions of camp life ensured that many people fell sick from the very first months, and their numbers rose steadily over time. Physical harassment of the prisoners resulted in numerous broken limbs and suppurating sores on the buttocks, usually after flogging.[3]It seems that his argument is a particular example of multiplying examples. He seems to be saying the Holocauset was so evil it's off scale and thus free will defense (FWD) does not apply. My response centers around my FWD which I call soteriological drama:

(1) God's aim in creation is to make a moral universe. A moral universe is understood as one in which free moral agents willingly choose the good. this,

(2) This requires free will of moral agents

(3)Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices

. (4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.Here I have shortened the argument for summary.

(5) God wants us to sek truth on a deep personal level so that we can internalize values of the good.

Since God must risk our making the wrong choices he can't put a limit on the level of evil we choose. If humans choose total depravity and attempted geneocde God Can't circumvent the will to choose that option. But who is to say God didn't limit the effects by enabling the allies to win the war?

Lowder's answer to FWD: "The occurrence of the Holocaust does not require free will, morality, or meaning. But let's put that aside. The claim that free will, morality, and meaning require God is just that: a claim needing a supporting argument. I do not find such an argument in your comment"[4] I don't see FW as a necesssity for the Holocaust but is a fact of life. WE have free will, I am convinced that God must not circumvent FW even to prevent the Holocaut. I do not think the evil of the event, severe and off scale though it be, is so huge that it outweighs the need to allow free will.

FW is the explanation as to why God allowed the event; it is not a requirement for the event to occur. Of course Jeff's rejection of the Divine to maintain morality and meaning is merely what atheists say. It's really just for anyone who would remain an atheist . As a believer in God I think they are ultimately the outcome of God as their source. Perhaps In a world without God we find morality in meaning some way but it would not be universal and timeless as it is because God's character is the basis for both,

He has more arguments on FWD: "What makes the horrors of the Holocaust such strong evidence against theism is that theism predicts the non-existence of horrors, including the Holocaust, whereas naturalism makes no such prediction. Why? Three reasons."

That is a real misconception and inaccuracy, christianity predicts such horrors because it takes seriously the notion of sin nature. That useats Lowder's argument.


Second, he asserts that humans would seek knowledge of God which requires an absence of horror.

That is not true. The presence of horror could push them into God's arms. not that he would bring it about for that reason. Third, "if God exists, then humans' deepest good can be achieved without horrors." Of course it could but not without a moral universe which necessitates free will. Free will will lead to horos at some point. So it is simply a necessary consequence of a moral universe.[5]

Following Schellenberg, we may distinguish between the following: "(i) outweighing goods and (ii) the deepest good of personal creatures."[15] Something may be an outweighing good without also being a deepest good. For example, suppose that God exists and humans have libertarian freedom. Many theists argue that the possession of libertarian freedom is an outweighing good, viz., that the value of creaturely freedom outweighs the disvalue of horrors. (And notice that even if we have this kind of freedom and it is of great value, theism provides us with an antecedent reason to think that God would favor the freedom of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis over the freedom of the Nazis themselves.) But, even if the value of creaturely freedom outweighs the disvalue of horrors, it does not follow that an ever-increasing knowledge of God cannot be achieved without horrors.[6]He continually assumes that God can't understand that all values are not instantly produced; they must be preceded by negative consequences. That is to deal with negative consequences of free will before we are ready for the good stuff. None of the aspects of peace and happiness which Lowder construes as values would be possible without a moral universe and that means a free will universe. That means we must endure a sinful universe for a time.We will come to the good times after we internalize the values of the good.

So is the Holocaust argument a powerful argument agaisnt beleif? Yes it is. It's probably their best argument. But it doesn't outweigh the preponderance of the evidence for belief in God.



[1]Jeffery J. Lowder,"The Holocaust is Strong Evidence Against Theism," Naturalistic Atheism, blog, (January 31, 2022) 4/19/22

[2] Joseph Hinman, "Theodicy:Soteriological drama" website, Religious a priori(no date) 4/20/22

This is three pages they are linked with 2 at bottom of one,ect.

[3] Lowder op cit his fn 4 is United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "Introduction to the Holocaust" his [5] Andrea Weisberger, Suffering Belief: Evil and the Anglo-American Defense of Theism Toronto Studies in Religion 23 (New York: Lang, 1999), 7.

[4] Jeffery J. Lowder, "The Holocaust is Strong Evidence Against Theism,"Disqus The web’s community of communities Disqus © 2022 Company acessed 4/20/22

[5] Lowder Naturalistic Atheism, op cit.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Argument of the Religious a priori

back to my roots in existentialism


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

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

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

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

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

In my dealings with atheists 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 approachs that can be derived from analytical reasoning, empiricism, rationalism, phenomonology 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 litteral 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 thousnds of years and observe millions of drops and then we couldn't say it was truely 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 corrolation 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 at work 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 naturslitic c/e and excluding anyting that challenges it. That is just like Kuhns paradigm shift. The challenges are absorbed into the paradigm untl there are so many the paradigm has to shit. 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 probabalistic assumtions building constructs to form a world view) is inadquate because it is merely a contsuct and rules out a prori much that contradicts.

The A priori

God is not given directly in sense data, God transcends the threshold of human understanding, and thus is not given amenable to empirical proof. As I have commented in previous essays (on blogs) religion is not a scientific question. There are other methodologies that must be used to understand religion, since the topic is essentially inter-subjective (and science thrives upon objective data). We can study religious behavior through empirical means and we can compare all sorts of statistical realizations through comparisons of differing religious experiences, behaviors, and options. But we cannot produce a trace of God in the universe through "objective" scientific means. Here I use the term "trace" in the Derision sense, the "track," "footprint" the thing to follow to put us on the scent. As I have stated in previous essays, what we must do is find the "co-detemrinate," the thing that is left by God like footprints in the snow. The trace of God can be found in God's affects upon the human heart, and that shows up objectively, or inter-subjectvely in changed behavior, changed attitudes, life transformations. This is the basis of the mystical argument that I use, and in a sense it also has a bearing upon my religious instinxt argument. But here I wish to present another view of the trace of God. This could be seen as a co-detmiernate perhaps, more importantly, it frees religion from the structures of having to measure up to a scientific standard of proof: the religious a prori.

Definition of the a priori.

"This notion [Religious a priori] is used by philosophers of religion to express the view that the sense of the Divine is due to a special form of awareness which exists along side the cognitive, moral, and aesthetic forms of awareness and is not explicable by reference to them. The concept of religion as concerned with the awareness of and response to the divine is accordingly a simple notion which cannot be defined by reference other than itself." --David Pailin "Religious a pariori" Westminster Dictionary of Chrisian Theology (498)

The religious a priroi deals with the speicial nature of religion as non-derivative of any other discipline, and especially it's speicial reiigious faculty of understanding which transcends ordinary means of understanding. Since the enlightenment atheist have sought to explain away religion by placing it in relative and discardable terms. The major tactic for accomplishing this strategy was use of the sociological theory of structural functionalism. By this assumption religion was chalked up to some relative and passing social function, such as promoting loyalty to the tribe, or teaching morality for the sake of social cohesion. This way religion was explained naturalistically and it was also set in relative terms because these functions in society, while still viable (since religion is still around) could always pass away. But this viewpoint assumes that religion is derivative of some other discipline; it's primitive failed science, concocted to explain what thunder is for example. Religion is an emotional solace to get people through hard times and make sense of death and destruction (it's all sin, fallen world et). But the a priori does away with all that. The a priori says religion is its own thing, it is not failed primitive science, nor is it merely a crutch for surviving or making sense of the world (although it can be that) it is also its own discipline; the major impetus for religion is the sense of the numinous, not the need for explanations of the natural world. Anthropologists are coming more and more to discord that nineteenth century approach anyway.

Thomas A Indianopolus:prof of Religion at of Miami U. of Ohio.

Cross currents Magazine

It is the experience of the transcendent, including the human response to that experience, that creates faith, or more precisely the life of faith. [Huston] Smith seems to regard human beings as having a propensity for faith, so that one speaks of their faith as "innate." In his analysis, faith and transcendence are more accurate descriptions of the lives of religious human beings than conventional uses of the word, religion. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between participant and observer. This is a fundamental distinction for Smith, separating religious people (the participants) from the detached, so-called objective students of religious people (the observers). Smith's argument is that religious persons do not ordinarily have "a religion." The word, religion, comes into usage not as the participant's word but as the observer's word, one that focuses on observable doctrines, institutions, ceremonies, and other practices. By contrast, faith is about the nonobservable, life-shaping vision of transcendence held by a participant..."
The Skeptic might argue "if religion has this unique form of consciousness that sets it apart form other forms of understanding, why does it have to be taught?" Obviously religious belief is taught through culture, and there is a good reason for that, because religion is a cultural construct. But that does not diminish the reality of God. Culture teaches religion but God is known to people in the heart. This comes through a variety of ways; through direct experience, through miraculous signs, through intuitive sense, or through a sense of the numinous. The Westminster's Dictionary of Christian Theology ..defines Numinous as "the sense of awe in attracting and repelling people to the Holy." Of course the background assumption I make is, as I have said many times, that God is apprehended by us mystically--beyond word, thought, or image--we must encode that understanding by filtering it through our cultural constrcts, which creates religious differences, and religious problems.

The Culturally constructed nature of religion does not negate the a priori. "Even though the forms by Which religion is expressed are culturally conditioned, religion itself is sui generis .. essentially irreducible to and undeceivable from the non-religious." (Paladin). Nor can the a priori be reduced to some other form of endeavor. It cannot be summed up by the use of ethics or any other field, it cannot be reduced to explanation of the world or to other fields, or physiological counter causality. To propose such scientific analysis, except in terms of measuring or documenting effects upon behavior, would yield fruitless results. Such results might be taken as proof of no validity, but this would be a mistake. No scientific control can ever be established, because any study would only be studying the culturally constructed bits (by definition since language and social sciences are cultural constructs as well) so all the social sciences will wind up doing is merely reifying the phenomena and reducing the experience. In other words, This idea can never be studied in a social sciences sense, all that the social sciences can do is redefine the phenomena until they are no longer discussing the actual experiences of the religious believer, but merely the ideology of the social scientist (see my essay on Thomas S. Kuhn.

The attempt of skeptics to apply counter causality, that is, to show that the a priori phenomena is the result of naturalistic forces and not miraculous or divine, not only misses the boat in its assumptions about the nature of the argument, but it also loses the phenomena by reduction to some other phenomena. It misses the boat because it assumes that the reason for the phenomena is the claim of miraculous origin, “I feel the presence of God because God is miraculously giving me this sense of his presence.” While some may say that, it need not be the believers argument. The real argument is simply that the co-determinates are signs of the trace of God in the universe, not because we cant understand them being produced naturalistically, but because they evoke the sense of numinous and draw us to God. The numinous implies something beyond the natural, but it need not be “a miracle.” The sense of the numinous is actually a natural thing, it is part of our apprehension of the world, but it points to the sublime, which in turn points to transcendence. In other words, the attribution of counter causality does not, in and of itself, destroy the argument, while it is the life transformation through the experience that is truly the argument, not the phenomena itself. Its the affects upon the believer of the sense of Gods presence and not the sense of Gods presence that truly indicates the trance of God.

Moreover, the attempts to reduce the causality to something less than the miraculous also lose the phenomena in reification.William James, The Verieties of Religious Experience (The Gilford Lectures):

Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too simple-minded system of thought which we are considering. Medical materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox's discontent with the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh. All such mental over-tensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the matter, mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most probably), due to the perverted action of various glands which physiology will yet discover. And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual authority of all such personages is successfully undermined.
This does not mean that the mere claim of religious experience of God consciousness is proof in and of itself, but it means that it must be taken on its own terms. It clearly answers the question about why God doesn't reveal himself to everyone; He has, or rather, He has made it clear to everyone that he exists, and He has provided everyone with a means of knowing Him. He doesn't get any more explicit because faith is a major requirement for belief. Faith is not an arbitrary requirement, but the rational and logical result of a world made up of moral choices. God reveals himself, but on his own terms. We must seek God on those terms, in the human heart and the basic sense of the numinous and in the nature of religious encounter. There are many aspects and versions of this sense, it is not standardized and can be describes in many ways:

Forms of the A priori.

Schleiermacher's "Feeling of Utter Dependence.

Frederick Schleiermacher, (1768-1834) in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Disposers, and The Christian Faith, sets forth the view that religion is not reducible to knowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenological apprehension of God consciousness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confused with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is understood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does vintner close to this position in one form of the argument, this is not exactly what he's saying.

Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuitive sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (int he sense of the above ontological arugments).He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theorectical pre-cognative realization of what Anslem sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

Rudolph Otto's Sense of the Holy (1868-1937)

The sense of power in the numinous which people find when confronted by the sacred. The special sense of presence or of Holiness which is intuitive and observed in all religious experience around the world.

Paul Tillich's Object of Ultimate Concern.

We are going to die. We cannot avoid this. This is our ultimate concern and sooner or latter we have to confront it. When we do we realize a sense of transformation that gives us a special realization existentially that life is more than material.

see also My article on Toilet's notion of God as the Ground of Being.

Tillich's concept made into God argument.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

There is a "co-determinate to the Feeling of Utter dependence.

It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical intersubjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognative and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned soley by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a corrolation with its whence.
, Schleiermacher the Theologian, p 4. The believer is justified in assuming that his/her experinces are experiences of a reality, that is to say, that God is real.

Freedom from the Need to prove.

Schleiermacher came up with his notion of the feeling when wrestling with Kantian Dualism. Kant had said that the world is divided into two aspects of relaity the numenous and the pheneomenal. The numenous is not experienced through sense data, and sense God is not experineced through sense data, God belongs only to the numenous. The problem is that this robbs us of an object of theological discourse. We can't talk about God because we can't experience God in sense data. Schleiermacher found a way to run an 'end round' and get around the sense data. Experience of God is given directly in the "feeling" apart form sense data.

This frees us form the need to prove the existence of God to others, because we know that God exists in a deep way that cannot be estreated by mere cultural constructs or reductionist data or deified phenomena. This restores the object of theological discourse. Once having regained its object, theological discourse can proceed to make the logical deduction that there must be a CO-determinate to the feeling, and that CO-determinate is God. In that sense Schleiermacher is saying "if I have affections about God must exist as an object of my affections"--not merely because anything there must be an object of all affections, but because of the logic of the co-determinate--there is a sense of radical contengency, there must be an object upon which we are radically contingent.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Is there a Pre Mark Redaction (PMR) part 2

there is a much longer version if this page on the Religious a priori. to see the whole things go here.

Non Canonical Gospels (Lost Gospels)

Non canonical Gospels include those we have in full such as G Peter and G Thomas and "lost Gospels" which tend to be theoretical such as Q or fragmentary such as Egerton 2. Of course a lot of what is found in non canonical gospels is latter material from second and third centuries and has less historical value for our purposes. But even in some late material there are traces of early readings, Of this early material we can't really know what reflects truth and what reflects drift from the truth of the events. One thing is certain when this kind of material agrees with the canonical gospels it increases the odds that the canonical gospels represent historical reality at leas in those matters of agreement.

Following I reproduce excerpts from a newspaper story about these lost gospels and non canonical gospels.

Story by Kay Albright, (785) 864-8858

University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997

LAWRENCE - Fragments of a fourth-century Egyptian manuscript contain a lost gospel dating from the first or second century, according to Paul Mirecki, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.

Mirecki discovered the manuscript in the vast holdings of Berlin's Egyptian Museums in 1991. The book contains a rare "dialogue gospel" with conversations between Jesus and his disciples, shedding light on the origins of early Judaisms and Christianity.

The lost gospel, whose original title has not survived, has similarities to the Gospel of John and the most famous lost gospel, the gospel of Thomas, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The newly discovered gospel is written in Coptic, the ancient Egyptian language using Greek letters. Mirecki said the gospel was probably the product of a Christian minority group called Gnostics, or "knowers."

Mirecki said the discussion between Jesus and his disciples probably takes place after the resurrection, since the text is in the same literary genre as other post-resurrection dialogues, though the condition of the manuscript makes the time element difficult to determine.

"This lost gospel presents us with more primary evidence that the origins of early Christianity were far more diverse than medieval church historians would tell us," Mirecki said. "Early orthodox histories denigrated and then banished from political memory the existence of these peaceful people and their sacred texts, of which this gospel is one."

Mirecki is editing the manuscript with Charles Hedrick, professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield. Both men independently studied the manuscript while working on similar projects in Berlin.

A chance encounter at a professional convention in 1995 in Philadelphia made both men realize that they were working on the same project. They decided to collaborate, and their book will be published this summer by Brill Publishers in the Netherlands.

The calfskin manuscript is damaged, and only 15 pages remain. Mirecki said it was probably the victim of an orthodox book burning in about the fifth century.[1]

Charles W. Hendrick, professor who discovered the lost Gospel of the Savior tells us

Mirecki and I are not the first scholars to find a new ancient gospel. In fact scholars now have copies of 19 gospels (either complete, in fragments or in quotations), written in the first and second centuries A.D— nine of which were discovered in the 20th century. Two more are preserved, in part, in other writings, and we know the names of several others, but do not have copies of them. Clearly, Luke was not exaggerating when he wrote in his opening verse: "Many undertook to compile narratives [about Jesus]" (Luke 1:1). Every one of these gospels was deemed true and sacred by at least some early Christians. [2]

These Gospels demonstrate a great diversity among the early Church, they diminish the claims of an orthodox purity. On the other hand, they tell us more about the historical Jesus as well. One thing they all have in common is that they show Jesus as a historical figure, working in public and conducting his teachings before people, not as a spirit being devoid of human life.Hendrick says,"Gospels-whether canonical or not- are collections of anecdotes from Jesus' public career."

Many of these lost Gospels pre date the canonical gospels, which puts them prior to AD 60 for Mark:


The Gospel of the Saviour, too. fits this description. Contrary' to popular opinion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not included m the canon simply because they were the earliest gospels or because they were eyewitness accounts. Some non canonical gospels are dated roughly to the same period, and the canonical gospels and other early Christian accounts appear to rely on earlier reports. Thus, as far as the physical evidence is concerned, the canonical gospels do not take precedence over the noncanonical gospels. The fragments of John, Thomas and theEgerton Gospel share the distinction of being the earliest extant pieces of Christian writing known. And although the existing manuscript evidence for Thomas dates to the mid-second century, the scholars who first published the Greek fragments held open the possibility that it was actually composed in the first century, which would put it around the time John was composed.[3]

Non canonical Gospels includes those we have in full such as G Peter and G Thomas and "lost Gospels" which tend to be theoretical such as Q or fragmentary such as Egerton 2. Of course a lot of what is found imn non canonical gospels is latter material from second an d third centuries and has less historical value for our purposes. But even in some late material there are traces of early readings, Of this early material we can't really know what reflects truth and what reflects drift from the truth of the events. One thing is certain when this kind of material agrees with the canonical gospels it increases the odds that the canonical gospels represent historical reality at leas in those matters of agreement.

Following I reproduce excerpts from a newspaper story about these lost gospels and non canonical gospels.

Story by Kay Albright, (785) 864-8858

University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997

The unknown Gospel of Papyrus Egerton 2

The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 was discovered in Egypt in 1935 exiting in two different manuscripts. The original editors found that the handwriting was that of a type from the late first early second century. In 1946 Goro Mayeda published a dissertation which argues for the independence of the readings from the canonical tradition. This has been debated since then and continues to be debated. Recently John B. Daniels in his Clairmont Dissertation argued for the independence of the readings from canonical sources.[4] Daniels states "Egerton's Account of Jesus healing the leaper Plausibly represents a separate tradition which did not undergo Markan redaction...Compositional choices suggest that...[the author] did not make use of the Gospel of John in canonical form." (Daniels, abstract).[5] The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 is remarkable still further in that it mixes Johannie language with Synoptic contexts and vice vers. [6]The Unknown Gospel preserves a tradition of Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-44. (Note: The independent tradition in the Diatessaran was also of the healing of the leper). There is also a version of the statement about rendering unto Caesar. Space does not permit a detailed examination of the passages to really prove Koster's point here. But just to get a taste of the differences we are talking about:

This is very significant because it indicates a reading independent of and therefore prior to Mark;s redaction.

Comparison of readings Egerton 2 and Mark

Egerton 2: "And behold a leper came to him and said "Master Jesus, wandering with lepers and eating with them in the inn, I therefore became a leper. If you will I shall be clean. Accordingly the Lord said to him "I will, be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Mark 1:40: And the leper came to him and beseeching him said '[master?] if you will you can make me clean. And he stretched out his hands and touched him and said "I will be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Egerton 2: "tell us is it permitted to give to Kings what pertains to their rule? Tell us, should we give it? But Jesus knowing their intentions got angry and said "why do you call me teacher with your mouth and do not what I say"?

Mark 12:13-15: Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or not? But knowing their hypocrisy he said to them "why do you put me to the test, show me the coin?"

This reading is from Koseter's book Ancient Christian Gospels[7]

There are two solutions that are equally improbable. It is unlikely that the pericope in Egerton 2 is an independent older tradition. It is equally hard to imagine that anyone would have deliberately composed this apophthegma by selecting sentences from three different Gospel writings. There are no analogies to this kind of Gospel composition because this pericope is neither a harmony of parallels from different Gospels, nor is it a florogelium. If one wants to uphold the hypothesis of dependence upon written Gospels one would have to assume that the pericope was written form memory....What is decisive is that there is nothing in the pericope that reveals redactional features of any of the Gospels that parallels appear. The author of Papyrus Egerton 2 uses independent building blocks of sayings for the composition of this dialogue none of the blocks have been formed by the literary activity of any previous Gospel writer. If Papyrus Egerton 2 is not dependent upon the Fourth Gospel it is an important witness to an earlier stage of development of the dialogues of the fourth Gospel....(Koester , 3.2 p.215)

Jurgen Denker argues that the Gospel of Peter shares this tradition of OT quotation with the Canonicals but is not dependent upon them.[11] Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century![12]

Crosson and Koester both accest the pre Markan nature of the passon narratove. they disagree about sourcesof the after resrruection apperances, But noth beieve the empty tomb pre dates Mark.

A third problem regarding Crossan's hypotheses is related specifically to the formation of reports about Jesus' trial, suffering death, burial, and resurrection. The account of the passion of Jesus must have developed quite eary because it is one and the same account that was used by Mark (and subsequently Matthew and Luke) and John and as will be argued below by the Gospel of Peter. However except for the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection in the various gospels cannot derive from a single source, they are independent of one another. Each of the authors of the extant gospels and of their secondary endings drew these epiphany stories from their own particular tradition, not form a common source....Studies of the passion narrative have shown that all gospels were dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. But this account ended with the discovery of the empty tomb. With respect to the stories of Jesus' appearances, each of the extant gospels of the canon used different traditions of epiphany stories which they appended to the one canon passion account. This also applies to the Gospel of Peter. There is no reason to assume that any of the epiphany stories at the end of the gospel derive from the same source on which the account of the passion is based."[13]
Paul was writting in the 50s he died in 64AD. Mark was written in 70. Therefore, anything he says that coordiates with the Gospels is proof PMR.

1 Corinthians 15:4-8

4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Ressurection on third day is PMR.

Resurrected Jesus appeared to people (1 Cor 15:4ff)
James, a former skeptics, witnessed this (1 Cor 15:7)
as did Paul (1 Cor 15:8-9)
This was reported at an early date (1 Cor 15:4-8)
He asceded to heaven, glorified and exalted (1 Tim 3:16, Phil 2:6f)
Disciples were transformed by this (1 Tim 3:16)
Disciples made the Gospel center of preaching (1 Cor 15:1-4)
Resurrection was chief validation of message (Rom 1:3-4, Rom 10:9-10)

Koster and Crosson both agree that the PMR was circulating in written form with empty tomb and passion narrative, as early as 50AD

From this notion as a base line for the begining of the process of redaction, and using the traditional dates given the final product of canonical gospels as the base line for the end of the process, we can see that it is quite probable that the canonical gospels were formed between 50 and 95 AD. It appears most likely that the early phase, from the events themselves that form the Gospel, to the circulation of a written narrative, there was a controlled oral tradition that had its hay day in the 30's-40's but probably overlapped into the 60's or 70's. The say sources began to be produced, probably in the 40's, as the first written attempt to remember Jesus' teachings. The production of a written narrative in 50, or there abouts, probably sparked interest among the communities of the faithful in producing their own narrative accounts; after all, they too had eye witnesses.

[1] Kay Albright,"KU PROFESSOR DISCOVERS LOST GOSPEL," (March 10, 1997 Research), on line This site is maintained by University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997, the University of Kansas Office of University Relations, Lawrence, KS, U.S.A. Images may be reused with notice of copyright, but not altered. KU news releases may be reprinted without permission. URL: (accessed 10/23/16

[2] Charles W. Hendrick, quoted in Bible Review, (June 2002), 20-31; 46-47

professor who discovered the lost Gospel of the Savior tells us [3] Ibid,

[4] John B. Daniels, The Egerton Gospel: It's place in Early Christianity, Dissertation Clairmont, CA 1990. Cited in Helmutt Koester, History and Literature of Early Christianity,second Edition, New York, Berlin: Walter D. Gruyter, 186.

This is from a dissertation cited by major scholar Helmutt KIoester., so apparently Daniels did good work as a graduate student, Koester is New Testamemt Studies at Harvard.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Joachim Jeremias, "Unknown Sayings,An Unknown Gospel with Johannine Elements" in Hennecke-Schneemelcher-Wilson, NT Apocrypha vol 1. Westminster John Knox Press; Rev Sub edition (December 1, 1990,96. [7] Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development, London. Oxford, New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 2nd prt. edition, 1992,

[8] Ibid .215

[11] In Koester, 218

[12] Ibid, 218-220

[13] Ibid 220

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Reports of the empty tomb

Pixie wrote this in the comments to "Is there a pre Mark Redaction? part 1" (this last thursday.)

Anonymous said...
Calling an earlier version a "redaction" is very strange!

Joe:[this paragraph is what I said with which he takes issue] In this essay I am going to dispel this myth by demonstrating that there were written records of the gospel events that existed before the writing of Mark's gospel. I will further demonstrate that there were multiple sources transmitting the information. Mark's was not the first gospel written but merely the first of the canonical gospels to be written. None of the early works survive in MS form but we find traces of them in copies of latter works.Nor was Mark' the first teaching of the Resurrection.

Pix:Absolutely agree there were earlier records, written and oral. The creed in 1 Cor 15 - which I see you mention - is said to be an oral tradition from just a few years after the crucifixion. The "third day" motif therefore was in the account from the start.

But the text itself says that comes from scripture, not eye witness accounts. They knew Jesus rose on the third day because that is what it says in Hosea 6. It is certainly not saying Jesus was seen that or that the empty tomb was found that day.


Anonymous said... Calling an earlier version a "redaction" is very strange!

Not at all that's what scholars call it. only the first writing was not a redaaction.

Joe: In this essay I am going to dispel this myth by demonstrating that there were written records of the gospel events that existed before the writing of Mark's gospel. I will further demonstrate that there were multiple sources transmitting the information. Mark's was not the first gospel written but merely the first of the canonical gospels to be written. None of the early works survive in MS form but we find traces of them in copies of latter works.Nor was Mark' the first teaching of the Resurrection.

Pix: Absolutely agree there were earlier records, written and oral. The creed in 1 Cor 15 - which I see you mention - is said to be an oral tradition from just a few years after the crucifixion. The "third day" motif therefore was in the account from the start.

Yet at other times he seems to argue that Mark invented the empty tomb.His statemet in the previous comment section that John didn't write about it until 60 years latter.

But the text itself says that comes from scripture, not eye witness accounts. They knew Jesus rose on the third day because that is what it says in Hosea 6. It is certainly not saying Jesus was seen that or that the empty tomb was found that day.

I answered this previously and Tim did as well. No they did not get the idea for the emty tomb from OT. They understood the event as proepshy reflected in OT that isn't where the idea originated. It was an historoical event in their own time. Pixie has an ideological destination where he wants the evidence to go. If the evidence does not take him there the evidence is at fault.There is no reurrection in OT. Not connected to Messiah, they find hints in Isah 53 but nothing explicit.

Pix likes to make much of the fact that Mark says (6:8) the women left in fear and told no one,for him this means never in their lives did they tell anyone. It means nothing to him that Mark says in v 12 *chapter 16 Mary M. told the Apostles.I get the impression that he thinks Mark really ended on v8 with the women not telling anyoone. That's ridiculous becaue Mark believed in the resurrection. why would he end the accoumt on a note of defeat and fear with no idea the res was real? Absurd. Moreover, a foot note (16:8) in NIV says: "Some manuscripts have the following ending between verses 8 and 9, and one manuscript has it after verse 8 (omitting verses 9-20): 'Then they quickly reported all these instructions to those around Peter.'"

Logically the women must have told someone or we would not know of it.Mary M. told Peter and peter and John went to the tomb. so the word got out that day while it was still the empty tomb. Notice she falls away from the group in Matt. and goes back seperately to tell what they saw.

Joe: a passage from my essay "did Mark invent the epty tomb?"

in respnce to argumemt that Mark 16 ends with v8[1]

All that proves is that those particular verses are not found in any Ms that is not proof that the Gospel really ended at v8, or if it did, why it did. There is no particular reason to assume that we know why and just becuase it did end at 8 does not establish a logical reason to believe that Mark made up the empty tomb. The "added verses are 16:9-20." There are scholarly arguments that they are valid. "...[T]he witnesses which bring the verses into question are few, and that the verses are quoted by church Fathers very early, even in the second century." [2] F.H.A. Scrivener makes arguments for vv9-20 as the proper ending. This is an older source quoted at length by Marlowe.[3] My purpose is not to argue for the ending of Mark, I wont belabor that point. No logical reason is given as to why a short abrupt ending means Mark made up the tomb.

My view is that Mark did not end at v8 the orignal ending is lost.


Story of empty tomb datedt mid first century

Historicity of the women

Resurrection pages

empty tomb in Christian preaching pre dates Mark


[1] Joesph Hinmab "Did Mark Invent the Empty Tomb?" Religious a priori, no date given [accessed april 8, 2022]

[2] Michael D. Marlowe. "Bible Research, Textual Criticism, Finding the Ending of Mark," Bible Research: Internet Resources for Students of Scripture. site dated since Feb 2001. On line accessed 4/13/2014.

Marlowe also presentes F.H.A. Scrivener's arguments from 1984, that argue for Mark 16:9-20 as the valid ending.[accessed april 8, 2022]

[3] Marlowe, quoting Scrivener, Ibid, accessed 4/13/2014 [accessed april 8, 2022]

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Is there a pre Mark redaction? PART 1

First published on my apologetoca; site "The Religious A Priori

The Gospel Behind the Gospels The concept of a pre Mark redaction that was written before the Gospel of Mark, from which Mark and all the canonicals drew. this is not the Q source. It was probably circualting as early as 50-55 AD.

Skeptics of the New Testament usually assume a long gap exists between the events in the gospels and the recording of the events in writing, They further tend to assume that the first source of writing about these events was the gospel of Mark. Thus they assume events were exaggerated and miracles were made up and so on during this gap period. In this essay I am going to dispel this myth by demonstrating that there were written records of the gospel events that existed before the writing of Mark's gospel. I will further demonstrate that there were multiple sources transmitting the information. Mark's was not the first gospel written but merely the first of the canonical gospels to be written. None of the early works survive in MS form but we find traces of them in copies of latter works.Nor was Mark' the first teaching of the Resurrection.

I. Traces of Gospel Material in Gap

A, The circulation of Gospel material can be shown in four areas:

(1) Oral tradition

(2) saying source Material

(3) Non canonical Gospels

(4) traces of pre Markan redaction (PMR)

(canonical material that pre-date Mark, assumed the to be the first Gospel, also called Pre Mark Passion narrative PMPN).

B. Oral Tradition (in Two Major Sources)

Scholars have always recognized that the telling of the gospel stories began with the transmission of oral tradition. Of course the problem with oral tradition is that it's not written, Once written it becomes written tradition. Yet the form of the oral transmission can cling to the writing, It is possible to identify sources of oral tradition even when written down. We see oral tradition reflected in the New Testament in two major sources:

C. Pauline references to sayings

The great scholar Edgar Goodspeed held that oral tradition was not haphazard rumor but tightly controlled process,and that all new converts were required to learn certain oral traditions and spit them back from memory:

Our earliest Christian literature, the letters of Paul, gives us glimpses of the form in which the story of Jesus and his teaching first circulated. That form was evidently an oral tradition, not fluid but fixed, and evidently learned by all Christians when they entered the church. This is why Paul can say, "I myself received from the Lord the account that I passed on to you," I Cor. 11:23. The words "received, passed on"[1]reflect the practice of tradition—the handing-down from one to another of a fixed form of words. How congenial this would be to the Jewish mind a moment's reflection on the Tradition of the Elders will show. The Jews at this very time possessed in Hebrew, unwritten, the scribal interpretation of the Law and in Aramaic a Targum or translation of most or all of their Scriptures. It was a point of pride with them not to commit these to writing but to preserve them.

In my essay "Community as author" I will deal with the validity of oral tradition. At this point I give examples of the traces of oral tradition in Paul's writings: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 has long been understood as a formula saying like a creedal statement. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1Cr 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1Cr 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1Cr 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1Cr 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1Cr 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Two problems: (1) Doesn't conform to a canonical reading; (2) seems to contradict the order of appearances of the epiphanies (the post resurrection sightings in Gospels--in fact doesn't even mention the women, ). Nevertheless it is in general agreement with the resurrection story, and seems to indicate an oral tradition already in circulation by the AD 50s, and probably some time before that since it has had to be formed into a formulation statement. This is because Paul was writing in the 50s. These are clear references to events mentioned in the Gospels written decades before the Gospels were written,

Second major source of oral tradition:

D.The nature of pericopes

Pericopes are little story units we find in the Gospels like the good Samaritan. The nature of the pericopes themselves shows us that the synoptic gospels are made up of units of oral tradition. Many skpetics seem to think that Mark invented the story in the Gospel and that's the first time they came to exist. But no, Mark wrote down stories that the church had told for decades. Each unit or story is called a "pericope" (per-ic-o-pee). This is "A term used in Latin by Jerome for sections of scripture and taken over by form Critics to designate a unit, or paragraph, of material, especially in the gospels, such as a single parable, or a single story of a miracle."[3] Terence C. Mournet tells us, "Dunn Suggests, during the course of his investigations, that the variation within the pericopes under examination is reflective of is reflective of their indebtedness to the oral transitioning process described by Bailey where traditions are changed (flexible) during their retelling but remain within the boundaries established by the communities." [4] There is room in oral form or a minor variations but along an agreed upon range, the rage is no doubt set by the first telling of the eye witnesses and what the community certain it originally heard. That range of agreement constitutes a control om the dissemination of information. On this basis Baultmann developed "form criticism" because the important aspect was the form the oral tradition too, weather parable, narration, or other oral form.

E. Saying Source Material

The saying source was the forerunner of the narrative Gospel. Church father Papias who studied with Apostle John said that Matthew first wrote his gospel as a list of Jesus' teachings in Hebrew,called The Loggia. There's hypothetical Q source, Gospel of Thomas,k Egerton 2 and others. Here I will focus just On Thomas, and deal with others in part II. We see traces of pre Mark redaction in all of those I just mentioned (except Loggia we don't have a copy)..

(1). Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas which was found in a Coptic version at Nag Hammadi, but also exists in another form in several Greek fragments, is a prime example of a saying source. The narratival elements are very minimal, amounting to things like "Jesus said" or "Mary asked him about this,and he said..." The Gospel is apt to be dismissed by conservatives and Evangelicals due to its Gnostic elements and lack of canonicity. While it is true that Thomas contains heavily Gnostic elements of the second century or latter, it also contains a core of sayings which are so close to Q sayings from the synoptics that some have proposed that it may be Q (see Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels).[5] There are 46 sayings that parallel Q sayings in Thomas. This is what I call the orthodox core of the book.[6]

Be that as it may, there is good evidence that the material in Thomas comes from an independent tradition,that it is not merely copied out of the synoptics but represents a PMR. Through Statistical Correlation Analysis of Thomas and the Synoptic, Steven Davies argues that the Gospel of Thomas is independent of the canonical gospels on account of differences in order of the sayings. [7] Lisa Haygood of Fullerton states "serious probability exists that Thomas preserves an older tradition of the historical Jesus than that of the synoptic Gospels."[8] Stephen J. Patterson compares the wording of each saying in Thomas to its synoptic counterpart with the conclusion that Thomas represents an autonomous stream of tradition:

If Thomas were dependent upon the synoptic gospels, it would be possible to detect in the case of every Thomas-synoptic parallel the same tradition-historical development behind both the Thomas version of the saying and one or more of the synoptic versions. That is, Thomas' author/editor, in taking up the synoptic version, would have inherited all of the accumulated tradition-historical baggage owned by the synoptic text, and then added to it his or her own redactional twist. In the following texts this is not the case. Rather than reflecting the same tradition-historical development that stands behind their synoptic counterparts, these Thomas sayings seem to be the product of a tradition-history which, though exhibiting the same tendencies operative within the synoptic tradition, is in its own specific details quite unique. This means, of course, that these sayings are not dependent upon their synoptic counterparts, but rather derive from a parallel and separate tradition.[9]

There are several other non canonical Gospels perhaps the most important for apologetic is Gospel of Peter and I will deal with that and others in part II.

(2). evidence of saying source in Pauline references

Koster theorizes that Paul probably had a saying source like that of Q available to him. Paul's use of Jesus' teachings indicates that he probably worked from his own saying source which contained at least aspects of Q. That indicates wide connection with the Jerusalem church and the proto "Orthodox" faith.

Parable of Sower 1 Corinthians 3:6 Matt.
Stumbling Stone Romans 9: 33 Jer 8:14/Synoptics
Ruling against divorce 1 cor 7:10 Mark 10:11
Support for Apostles 1 Cor 9:14 Q /Luke 10:7
Institution of Lord's Supper 1 Cor 11:23-26 Mark 14
command concerning prophets 1Cor 14:37 Synoptic
Apocalyptic saying 1 Thes. 4:15, 21
Blessing of the Persecuted Romans 12:14/ Q/Luke 6:27
Not repaying evil with evil Romans 12:17 and I Thes 5:15/...Mark 12:12-17
Paying Taxes to authorities Romans 13:7 Mark 9:42
No Stumbling Block Romans 14:13/...Mark 9:42
Nothing is unclean Romans 14:14 Mark 7:15
Thief in the Night 1 Thes 5:2 Q/ Luke 12:39
Peace among yourselves 1 Thes Mark 9:50
Have peace with Everyone Romans 12:18/.... Mar 9:50
Do not judge Romans 13: 10 Q /Luke 6:37
These passages indicate that Paul knew versions off Jesus' teaching and Gospel stories two decades before Mark was written, What this means is the Gospel material was being transmitted in an era decades before the writing of Mark. This material also indicates oral tradition (as with the pericopes) we can assume this material goes back to era of the events themselves since we only abouit about 18 years between Crucifixion and Paul's early epistles

F, On The third Day William Lane Craig makes this argument. The phrase as Used by Paul im 1 Cor. 15

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Craig tells us:

As for the “third day” motif, it is more probable that this is tied to the empty tomb tradition than to the appearance traditions. The phrase appears in the third line of the formula, which is a summary of the empty tomb narrative (see comparative chart in The Son Rises, pp. 49-50). It seems to be a theologically loaded rendering of the phrase “the first day of the week,” which is used in the empty tomb narrative. Notice, too, that the third day is always associated with the event of Jesus’ rising from the dead, never with the appearances.[10]


[1] Edgar J. Goodspeed, An Introduction to the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937

[2] Ibid.

[3] "Pericope," Oxford Biblical Studies Online, Oxford University Press, 2016 online resource (accessed 10/14/16)

[4] Terence C. Mournet, Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q..Tubingen,Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005, 98.

[5] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: their /History and Development, Edinburgh: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 2nd prt. edition, March 1, 1992.

[6] Mahlon H. Smith, "Gospel of Thomas," Synoptic Gospels Pro,er 1997, online resource (accessed 10/14/16)

[7] Stevan L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated and Explained (Skylight Paths Pub 2002)

[8] Lisa Haygood, "The Battle To Authenticate 'The Gospel of Thomas'," LUX: A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 6. Available at:

PDF (accessed 10'/12/16)

[9] Stephen J. Patterson ,The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 18

[10] William Lane Craig, "186 the Witness if The Pre Pauline Tradition ti The Empty Tomb" Reasonable Faith (Nov 8,2010)

Monday, April 04, 2022

Evangelical paranoia quashes real scholarship

In the past few hundred years, the Bible has been under severe attack by scientific and philosophical skeptics of all sorts. In this scientific age the most-attacked book of the Bible has arguably been Genesis, particularly the first 11 chapters. Long-age geology, big-bang cosmology, secular archaeology, liberal theology, and philosophical attacks on miracles in the Bible have deceived many people to believe that the Bible is not true and therefore cannot be trusted.[1]
Notice the paranoid nature of this view. Not only does he just dogmatically charge any scholarship that disagrees with his view as an attack. It's not wrong, it's an attack aimed at subverting God's truth. But they go even further in blaming even Christians. They are blaming Christians for attacking the Bible:

"One of the major attacks on the Bible in the past three hundred years has been directed against Moses and his authorship of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis–Deuteronomy). Such attacks on these foundational books of the Bible comeboth from non-Christians as well as professing Christians."[2] It's not enough to profess Christ, one must see everything their way.

  Here again  christians are rebelling and seeking to undermine the word of God? Why? They can't tolerate scholarship since it doesn't work at keeping them in power. They rebuke ordinary views of scholarship when they fail to tow the party line. They charge that "Seminary courses, theology books, introductions to the Pentateuch in Bibles, and the secular media have promoted the man-made idea that Moses did not write the Pentateuch..."[3] They need the Bible to have authority strong enough to underpin the evangelical world and to write off liberal and other theological views. So, therefore, Moses must have authored the Pentateuch because that would give them that authority and defending Mosaic authorship drives the idea home. Thus they hate theories like JEDP. They quote from an ordinary introduction to JEDP and bring the accusations:

Despite its unity of plan and purpose, the book is a complex work, not to be attributed to a single original author. Several sources, or literary traditions, that the final redactor used in his composition are discernible. These are the Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), and Priestly (P) sources which in turn reflect older oral traditions....The introduction to the Old Testament in another Bible translation says that the J document was written by someone much later than Moses in the southern kingdom of Judah and the E document was written by someone in the northern kingdom of Israel.[4]
    JEDP is a fine theory. As I have said before, I prefer to use other methods. JEDP was almost universally accepted in the 60s but now has collapsed. Yet the Evangelicals are still fighting it. That for a time the vast majority of scholars were trying to destroy God's word but now the attack collapsed but evangelicals are still warning of the danger.Next they will be digging trenches to fight the Keiser.[5] but I have no real problem  with JEDP. The thing is that theory is not an attack. Nor is it an attempt to undermine the word of God.As a theory of Biblical study it's no worse that the synoptic problem. But then there are evangelocas who also suspect the synoptic problem as well.

  Moseic authorship is one of their major ralleying points:

The attack on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is nothing less than an attack on the veracity, reliability, and authority of the Word of Almighty God. Christians should believe God, rather than the fallible, sinful skeptics inside and outside the Church who, in their intellectual arrogance, are consciously or unconsciously trying to undermine the Word so that they can justify in their own minds (but not before God) their rebellion against God. As Paul says in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true but every man a liar” (NKJV).[6]
Mosaic Authorship is not in the Bible. It is doubtful that he wrote about his own death. so there have been other writers for the Pentatuch in addition to Moses. The right wing thinkers we're discussing have dubbed Mosaic authorship as the truth of God but they have no real basis for deeming it so. Their assertion of Mosaic authorship is no more the world of God than is JEDP. Apparently their real criteria is whatever lines up with their view of God and all else is an attack on God.

  The issues they choose to define the battle lines are just the outlines of scholarly progress in the modern world. Authorship, date of composition, redaction, these are the basics. If we followed their kind of "scholarship" Biblical understanding would be stagnant. It has nothing to do with belief or with the Christian faith. I believe in all the basic things any Christian sees as the outlines of the faith: Deity of Christ, his death,burial and resurrection, salvation by grace. The insistence upon Mosaic authorship is like worrying about using instrumental music.There is no passage that says "make a Bible'' or that tells us how to interpret how to do Biblical study. There is no passage that mandates Mosaic authorship.

  When they speak of "the word of God" they really mean their opinion of the Bible. Disagreement with them is the major sin. They are  idolizing their own world view.


[1]Dr. Terry Mortenson and Bodie Hodge,"The Documentary Hypothesis: Moses, Genesis, and the JEDP? Appendix C," Answers in Genesis, website (December 3, 2016) accessed April 1,2022.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid quoting: The New American Bible(Nashville, TN: Memorial Bible Publishers, 1976), 1.

[5] David M.Carr, "Changes in Pentateuchal Criticism" PDF,2014,  434  

  JEDP aka "Wellhausen hypothesis" (named for Julius wellhausen) was almost universally accepted for most of the 20th century.The consensus has now collapsed.

  [6] Mortensen and Hodge, "The Documentary Hypothesis..." op cit.

Joe Hinman