Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Olivet Discourse part 1

 photo Coming_zpsd3d86990.jpg

The so-called olivet discourse (from mount of olives) is held up by atheists as an example of a Jesus prophecy that did not come true. In it Jesus seems to say that the current living generation wont pass "Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things are accomplished" (Matthew 24:34)."

He also says this will occur at the same time as the destruction of he temple. A thread where the CARM atheists argue Jesus was wrong (a false prophet in fact because his prophecy of the end times didn't come true). They quotes from five scholars to alleged "prove" this and none of them offer any real proof. All they offer is opinion. Only a couple of them are Chrsitains.

Jesus of Nazareth had expected to see the Temple destroyed, the Kingdom come, and the new Temple established in 30, at or as the climax of his own mission, and Mark’s community preserved the memory of Jesus’ proclamation of this belief. --Paula Fredriksen. [1]
"Jesus, the millenarian prophet, like all millenarian prophets, was wrong: reality has taken no notice of his imagination." --Dale Allison [2]

 Lookimg atthe passage upo which alll of this is prediucated,

NIV Mark 13: 1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
We can crystallize two major issues:

(1) there is no passage where Jesus says "the temple is destroyed and Messiah returns at the same time." As long as that is the case it's an open question if he was talking about that era or a future date for the return.

(2) The hypocritical way the atheists regard scholarship when it stands for their view and when it stands against it. Other scholars disagree with their scholars. Will they look for reasons or will they just insist "those are fundies so they don't count?"

.......As to the first point I would use their own ideological propaganda device against them:EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS REQUITE EXTRAORDINARY PROOF!

There is nothing extraordinary about liberal theologians refusing to believe the Gospels. Especially when most of them are not Chrsitians. The extraordinary evidence I demand is a text that says "these two events, listed in the passage in Matt" will happen at the same time. That's the only circumstance under which this would prove that Jesus was wrong. This passeage "the Olivette discourses" is in all three synoptic gospels. So I start with Mark. I think Mark is the key because it's first written, but Math supplies the one crucial fact that there are two distinct questions. .......Of course the temple was destroyed in AD 70 and on the eve of 2013 the other part has not happened yet so therefore it was wrong. Bible wrong, Christianity not true, blah blah blah.

.......Matt 26-27  says the Messiah will return with an army of angels in the sky, and it marks the introduction of end times events and that's where it becomes clear we are talking about the end times. My answer up to this point was to compare this to the passage in Matthew where Mathew makes it clear there are two separate questions. (1) when will the temple be destroyed (2) when will the Messiah return. I have argued that the redactors got the answers to these questions cross threaded. The real answer to when the temple will be destroyed is "this generation will not pass away." The answer to the return is "you will see angels coming in the clouds." .......It's obvious this grouping is logical for three reasons:

(1) this is the way the early church understood events. They were Jews, they saw themselves not as a separate faith called "Christianity" but as Jews. they could not conceive of Judaism with no temple. so they assumed the Messiah would return (that means they had to assume he would go away) and temple be destroyed as part of the same event, the end of the age. So they mix the answers of two separate questions because they don't see them as operating.

(2) the answers go together in such a way that Messiah is part of the army in the air, if you look at the passage it links Messiah with the angles. "26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens" so then if we assume those go together then by default the gee national remark is the answer to the other question.

(3) there is no reason why these can't happen at two different times. Taken that way they work. there is no contradiction no failure it just hasn't all been totally fulfilled yet because it's not time yet

The following issues are what the whole debate boils down to:

(1) the real issue was the temple and that's the question Jesus was answering (maybe there were two questions, since Mark came firs let's assume not).

(2) the redactors added the end times stuff because that's the way they thought, that's their conception of how it had to be.

(3) the temple was just destroyed the same year that this version of the Gospel was produced and began circulating so we can look upon the redactor's additions about end times as commentary spurred by recent events.

(4) in this version Jesus doesn't say "this generation will not pass away (unless I missed it but I looked and I don't see it). so in that case the cross thread idea is unnecessary. we can just assume that mark being first originally dealt with the temple the redactor added the end times stuff and Matt added the bit about the generation.

The temple had been destroyed around right around this time, it was real important to console the people tel them the ord will return soon,


[1]Paula Fredriksen. From Jesus to Christ, Second Edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000): pg. 84

[2] Dale Allison, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998): p. 218.

Friday, June 21, 2024

No Evidence for God? Part 2 Empirical arguments

Now we will look at not deductive but empirical. Rather than trying to prove that God is the logical conclusion from deduction we try to shown that only God accounts  for certian sets of data. I am only going to look at two arguments, those I use the most. But there are many such arguments such as design arguments of all kinds. I will look at Religious experience and fine tuning.This will be in two parts

Argumentfrom reoigiouss experiece: Empirical Supernature

The M scale is very important in my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman

 please click here, go to my book trailer and watch it so it will move higher up the ladder on You tube, so it will  be seen by more people.

  Order The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman on Amazon

            Why should we assume that such experiences are experiences of the divine? The first reason is because the content of the experience is largely that of the divine. Even when the experience is interpreted by the receiver not to be about God the receiver has been known to act in a way consistently with belief in God, and the experience described is the same experience as those described by those who say ‘this was God.’ Ergo it’s just a matter of interpretation. The vast majority of those who have these experiences do believe they are about God.[1] Secondly, there is a voluminous and ancient tradition of writing about experiences by people from all over the world, and the brunt of this tradition is that it’s an experience of the divine. Literary and philosophical works such as Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill,[2] The works of W.T. Stace[3] and many other such writings which catalogue the writings of these experiences, and many more works of the experiences of individual mystics by the mystics themselves. Thirdly, grounded in empirical evidence, the universal nature of such experiences implies the experience of a source external to the human mind encountered by all who have such experiences. When I say “external” I mean it originates externally but is experienced internally. This includes human brain structure and brain chemistry as a conduit not that it circumvents natural processes.

            The works of W.T. Stace are very influential. He shows that, as Ralph Hood Jr. put it, “within and eventually outside of the great faith traditions mysticism has flourished.”[4]  Stace offers five characteristics that demonstrate the commonalities to mystical experience; these are characteristics that are found universally in all cultures and in all forms of mystical experience:

The contemporary interest in the empirical research of mysticism can be traced to Stace’s (Stace, 1960) demarcation of the phenomenological characteristics of mystical experiences (Hood, 1975). In Stace’s conceptualization, mystical experiences had five characteristics (Hood, 1985, p.176):

                1.      The mystical experience is noetic. The person having the experience perceives it as a valid source of knowledge and not just a subjective experience.

2.      The mystical experience is ineffable, it cannot simply be described in words.

3.      The mystical experience is holy. While this is the religious aspect of the experience it is not necessarily expressed in any particular theological terms.

4.      The mystical experience is profound yet enjoyable and characterized by positive affect.

5.      The mystical experience is paradoxical. It defies logic. Further analysis of reported mystical experiences suggests that the one essential feature of mysticism is an experience of unity (Hood, 1985). The experience of unity involves a process of ego loss and is generally expressed in one of three ways (Hood, 1 976a). The ego is absorbed into that which transcends it, or an inward process by which the ego gains pure awareness of self, or a combination of the two.[5]

            In speaking of “mystical experience” we are not talking about visions or voices. We are not talking about miracles or God speaking to people. We are talking about “the sense of the numinous,” a sense of presence, a sense of undifferentiated unity of all things. The claim is often made that this is an unmediated experience of reality. The veil is taken back on the thing behind the façade and reality is experienced directly. The notion of an unmediated experience is debatable and not essential to an understanding of the experience. A couple of examples might be helpful. It’s helpful to understand that mystical experiences come in two forms, introvertive and extrovertive. Introvertive experiences are without time and space; they are not keyed to any external landmark or visual que. They seem to be beyond word, thought, or image. Extrovertive experiences are often keyed to a land mark and seem like projecting a sense onto the image of nature. For example the sense that God is pervading the physical space in nature around which one views a scene in nature. Or a sense that all the natural landscape around forms some sort of whole that’s meaningful and indicative as an understanding of all reality.

Common Core Vs. Perennial Philosophy

Hood takes these kinds of statements as phenomenological and descriptive of a personal experience. The true nature of that experience as unmediated is not important. The issue is that its universality, since it should be culturally constructed, is indicative of more than just a trick of brain chemistry or cultural constructs. Ralph Hood Jr. argues for what is called “the common core hypothesis.” This is not a perennial philosophy one often finds discussed as part of mystical experience. The distinction is hat perennial almost construct a separate religion out of mystical experience and puts it over against faith traditions. The common core hypothesis merely recognizes that there is a common core experience that is universal to mystical experience, and thus it can be argued that it’s an experience of some reality external to just human brain structure. Yet it doesn’t try to collapse faith traditions into a particular theological formulation. Moreover, the common core hypothesis just takes the common core as a phenomenological reality not a theological or ontological demand about reality. Yet mystical experience “promotes a special type of human experience that is at once unitive and nondiscursive, at once self fulfilling and self-effacing.”[6] Introvertive mystical has been identified as “pure consciousness.” This kind of experience lacks content and can’t be tied to a cultural construct or personal influence.[7] While it is the case that these kinds of experiences are interpreted in various ways, and it is the case that various theological explanations tailored to a given tradition are advanced for these, as many as there are mystics to have the, the real diversity comes not from the experience but from the explanations attached to the experiences.[8] Much of the discussion about common core is tied to the texts of a given literature. There are various bodies of mystical literature, the important one for our purposes is the empirical. This is a measurement based empirical scientific literature such as the work of Hood.[9]

            Many names loom large in that body of literature; Greeley, Maslow, Wuthnow, Nobel, Lukoff and Lu, none more prolific or significant than Hood. Hood entered the field in the early 70s when he was a young man. Since that time he has done a huge a mount of research and is best known for developing what is called ‘the Mysticism scale,” or “M scale.” This is a 32 item questionnaire that is scored in a particular way and is calculated to test the veracity of Stace’s theories. In other words, if actual modern mystics around the world experience the things Stace thought they do, in the way Stace thought they experienced them (see the five point list above) they would answer certain questions in a certain way.[10] Hood’s work in the M scale is becoming the standard operating procedure for study of mystical and religious experiences. It hasn’t yet been understood by everyone so we find that people evoking religious experience by manipulating stimulation of the brain don’t use the M scale for research and thus can’t prove they are evoking real mystical experiences.[11]  Dale Caird said that “research into mystical experience has been greatly facilitated”[12] by Hood’s M scale. Caird did one of the studies that validated the M scale. Burris (1999) has shown that the M scale is the most commonly used measurement for the study of mysticism.[13]

            The M scale enables us to determine the validity of a mystical experience among contemporary people. In other words, did someone have a “real mystical experience” or are they just carried by the idea of having one?[14] There are two major versions of the M scale, what is called “two factor” solution and a three factor solution. The two factors are items assessing an experience of unity (questions such as “have you had an experience of unity?”) and items refereeing to religious and knowledge claims. In other words questions such as “did you experience God’s presence?” Or did you experience God’s love?” In each section there are two positively worded and two negatively worded items.[15] The problem with the two factor analysis is that it tried to be neutral with Langue, according to Hood himself. It spoke of “experience of ultimate reality” but with no indication that ultimate reality means reality of God. As Hood puts it, “no langue is neutral.”[16] One group might want ultimate reality defined as “Christ” while others who are not in a Christian tradition might eschew such a move. In response to this problem Hood and Williamson, around 2000, developed what they termed “the three factor solution.” They made two additional versions of the scale one made reference where appropriate to “God” or “Christ.” They had a “God” version and a “Chrsit” version and both were given to Christian relevant samples. The scales were “factor analyzed” that just means they weighed each difference as a factor such as it’s mention of God or mention of Christ. In this factor analysis, where the scale referred to “God,” “Christ” or simply “reality” the “factor structures were identical.” This means the respondents saw “God,” “Christ” and “ultimate reality” as coterminous, or as the same things. That means Christians who have mystical experience understand God, Christ, and Reality as reffering to the same things.[17]

Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpos
e *Know what purpose of life is
*Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping need
y *Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style[18]


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion[18]

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive *Likely changes in self and the world, *space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate[19]

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions [19]

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, self actualization and the like.''

[1]Joseoph Hinman, The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief,Cp;prabo Sorig: Grand Viadict, 2014.

[2] Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A study on the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual consciousness. New York: Dutton, 1911.

[3] W.T. Stace, Teachings of the Mystics: Selections from the Greatest Mystics and Mystical Writers of the World. New American Library 1960. A good General overview of Stace’s understanding of mysticism is Mystical Experience Registry: Mysticism Defined by W.T. Stace. found onine at URL:

[4] Ralph Hood Jr. “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235. Google books on line version: URL visited 8/20/2012

[5] Robert J. Voyle, “The Impact of Mystical Experiences Upon Christian Maturity.” originally published in pdf format: google html version here: Voyle is quoting Hood in 1985, Hood in return is speaking Stace. =us&ct=clnk&cd=2&ie=UTF-8

[6] Matilal (1992) in Hood, ibid, 127.

[7] Hood, ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] find JL Hinman, the Trace of God, Studies chapter, also Hood ibid, 128.

[11] Find, John Hick

[12] Dale Caird, “The structure of Hood's Mysticism Scale: A factor analytic study.”journal for the Scientific study of religion 1988, 27 (1) 122-126

[13] Burris (1999) quoted in Hood, ibid, 128

[14] Hood, ibid, 128

[15] ibid.

[16] ibid, 129

[17] ibid

[18]Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

[19]Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.

Monday, June 17, 2024

No evidence for God?

We all know atheists claim there's no evidence for God, It's their no 1 mantra.

Dave Matthews Joe Hinman not sure what you said, and i’m not looking for arguments for the existence of god, i’m expecting you to show me proof of the existence of your particular god.[facebook]

Brian Bimmer Jørgensen

Apostolic Nsibambi Asuman, so why believe in your god , when you have no evidence for his existence?[facebook]

Atheists often use slogans like "Arguments are not evidence" "Claims are not evidence" "There's no evidence for god", so my question for you would be to percisely define evidence. What evidence would be sufficient to establish god existence?r/DebateAnAtheist

I am going to lay out a systematic look at the evidence that I use There is more I will just be lookig at the stufff I use.

The first and most basic sort of proof is the deductive argument, Here is an example of my version of the cosmlogocal argumemt whichI use all the time:
1. Something exists.
2. Whatever exists exists either necessarily or contingently.
3. It is impossible that only contingent things exist.
4. Therefore, there exists at least one necessary thing.
5. If there is a necessary thing, that thing is appropriately called 'God.'
6. Therefore God exists.

Philosopher Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) put forth a modern formulation of the cosmological argument:
Philosopher Samuel Clarke put forth a modern formulation of the cosmological argument taking a slightly different path than Aquinas’s famous cosmological argument. But like Aquinas, Clarke adopts the premise that all beings that we encounter must have causes. Contrary to Aquinas, Clarke differentiates between contingent and necessary beings. The contrast he draws is such that if a being owes it’s existence to a cause then it is dependent; otherwise it is independent. Our experience shows us that there are chains of dependent beings, but, as Clarke points out, they must either (1) be caused by a necessary being or (2) be an aspect of an infinite continuation of contingent beings which, as Clarke explains, either begins with a necessary/independent being or is part of an infinite series which exhausts the possible logical origins for any continuation of beings.[2]
"Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) was the most influential British metaphysician and theologian in the generation between Locke and Berkeley," [3]

William Rowe tried to strngthen the argument but concluded it was only as strog as the principle of sufficent reason.......[4]

Atheists used to argue with this and when thy did that they would question the big about necessety and contingency.I think we pulled that finaly becauseit;s part of logic. Now atheists on facebook jut don't even botherto argue they merely avoid it. They do actually claim that such argumets are not evidence.

1- "The only sufficient evidence would be for God to be directly shown to me." This suggests that experiencing a direct, personal encounter with God would be the most compelling evidence. However, this is impossible since most religious conceptions of God consider Him to be a transcendent, supernatural being beyond direct sensory perception. r/DebateAnAtheist

My argumemt avoids the pit falls of Clareeke's becasueI don't argumemtall things need causessI just assert things exist then discus necesssity and contingecy/

Search instead for deductive logioc is proof

"Definition: Proof by Deduction. Proof by deduction (or deductive proof) starts from a known fact or definition and then proceeds in a series of logically justified steps until it reaches a final conclusion. Proof by deduction is the most common type of proof."

Lesson Explainer: Mathematical Logic and Proof - Nagwa

Nagwa › explainers

Trascendental signifer argumemt:

The argument
1. Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops)
2. OP's summed up in TS
3. Modern Thought rejects TS outright or takes out all aspects of mind.
4. Therefore, Modern thought fails to provide a rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe.
5. minds organize and communicate meaning

6. Therefore universal mind, offers the best understanding of TS

7. Concept of God unites TS with universal mind therefore offers best explanation for a view that is Rational, Coherent, and Meaningful (RCM).

[6]Read more about this argument

Necessity and contingency lie at the base of our modern understanding of cause and effect. They come from scholastic notions of logic, but the distinction between the notion our modern notions of c/e and the scholastic ones in the middle ages is not that great. The scholastic had more levels of cause, efficient cause, final cause and several others. But one could everything we have done in modern science using the scholastic ideas of c/e.

Necessity doesn't mean has to exist. It doesn't mean God is necessary to the existence of the world (except in so far as if God exists then of closure God is necessary to the world as creator--without God there would be no world).The modal argument does not begin with the assumption that God has to exist. It begins with the assumption that there is a valid distinction between necessity and contingency, which there must be.It proceeds along the lines of hypothetical consequence that obtain from different scenarios of God's existence. It concludes that is necessary. But by "necessary" it means not contingent, or not dependent upon something else for its' existence.

This is often misconstrued by atheists and taken to mean the argument proceeds from God's existence as an assumed first premise. This is not the case, the first premise is either/or. Either God's existence is necessary or it is impossible. This allows for the possibility that there is no God. So the argument does not begin by "defining God into existence."

Necessity essentially not contingent, it also coneys the idea of he can;'t cease or fail to exist, stemming from his eternal nature

. Contingent means the opposite: that a thing is dependent upon a prior thing for existence, or that it could cease or fail to exist.

Impossible means logically impossible, something in the structure of the idea contradictions, such as square circles.

one of the sore spots that atheists get stuck on is the idea that God cannot be contingent. They will always leap to the conclusion that this is defining God into existence, because they don't understand the concept of God. God, by the nature of the concept, carriers certain parameters just as the existence of any human assumes humanity, or the existence of any tree assumes that the tree in question is a plant. To have to define that God is not contingent should not even come into it. The idea of God is that of eternal creator of all things. Thus God cannot cease to exits and cannot be dependent upon anything (or he wouldn't be the creator of all things). Atheists usually assume that all knowledge has to be empirical. they will argue this is defining God into existence. maybe God is contingent.


Close to Hartshorne's version

1. God is either necessary or impossible.
2. God can be conceived without contradiction.
3. Whatever can be conceived without contradiction is not impossible.
4. God is not impossible.
5. God's existence is a necessity (from 1-4, not contingent or impossible means necessary)
6. If God is necessary, then God exists.
7. Belief in God's existence is warranted

[7]read more

Argument from laws of nature

The argument:

1) mind is the most efficient and dependable source of ordering we know,

(2) Random ordering is usually inefficient and the odds are against it's dependability.

(3) The Universe Displays a Law-like efficiency and dependability in the workings of it's natural machinations.

(4) Such efficiency and dependability is indicative of mind as ordering principle (from 1,3), therefore, it is logical to assume mind as the best explanation for the dependability of the universe..

(5) A mind that orders the universe fits the major job description for God, Thus mind is the best explanation, assuming the choices are mind vs random chance.

[8]Read all about it


[1]Dana,"How can there be no evidence for god if atheists can't define evidence?"Debate an atheist, 2023,

[2]Student Written Essay, "Samuel Clarkes Cosmological Argument"UKEssay experts 37 August 2021, UKEssays. (November 2018). Samuel Clarkes Cosmological Argument. Retrieved from

[3]Stanford Ecyclopedia of Philosophy, Samuel Clarke, April 2003,

[4] UKEssays.op cit

[5]DebateAnAtheist, op cit




Thursday, June 06, 2024

Answering Richard Carrier: the Gospels are not myth

Image result for giotto's resurrection

Richard Carrier wants us to think the matters written about in the four Gospels are fictional and therefore did not happen. What he is really saying is this: The Gospel writers do not write like modern historians, nor do they write like ancient elite patricians. Since those are the only two groups blessed as academic historians what the gospel writers write is not history, if it is not history then it is a lie. There's another obvious possibility that he's merely pretending doesn't exist but obviously it does. That is partially literate people who were not historians but who nevertheless wrote about true events. He wants us to forget that possibility and to think it is not possible.I will present a few off-the-cuff realizations that occurred to me while listening to his lecture, "Why the Gospels are Myth" [1]

The first thing to note is his use of language. It is designed to divert and conceal. When he uses the term"myth" he means fiction, He's not using the term in the sense I am when I say "the OT uses mythology to push the narrative along," For me mythology is what Joseph Campbell is talking about, the manipulation of symbol to evoke psychological truth. For Carrier "myth" means: "lie." Myth = lie. The real important move here is that "not historical" = myth = lie, He trades on the Campbell sense of myth to make that maneuver, but his final assumption is the crude version of myth which is the old antiquated version. So the fact that these authors are not writing like historians means they are not writing history so they write myth, (lie). All of this is based upon ignoring the obvious, they they were not well educated but were truth tellers.[2]

Carrier defines myth as fiction designed to teach us something. That's a very inadequate definition, It is totally ignorant. It ignores the psychological aspects of myth, Of course he doesn't care he's using the term as a pejorative. The gospels are unique, They are not history per se, They are not written as historical accounts, they are distillation of the teachings in the early Christian communities, the oral tradition. That is not to say they don't depict historical events, but they depict them in such a way as to be analogous to a histrionically based docudrama.

I am guessing here his response to me would probably be that the Gospel authors write like fiction writers of the day. They seem like skilled fiction writers so they weren't just less literate they were highly skilled. One example which he really gives of them writing this way is their filling in gaps in knowledge about dialogue and time. They do this by writing as though everything took place as in a little documentary,[3] Again he's just predicating that upon the assumption that non historian means fiction. Clearly they filled in gaps with poetic licence because they did not have access to transcripts. That does not invalidate the outline as non historical.

Carrier points out that the Gospel writers do not name their sources. This marks them as not historical. It marks them as not historians although even historians of the ancient world did not always name their sources, They did not footnote them. Carrier argues that they don't discuss who the sources were why they trust them, as do historians even in that day. Again all this really means is they are not historians. But not being historians does not equal not being historically true. They don't mark their sources the way conventional historians do because they are distilling the teachings of the communities in whch the testimony was taught. All the Gospel sources go back to the Apostles and whatever witnesses were in that community. There is no point in continually pointing this out when the community knew its sources. That does not mark it as fictional writing.

Another point he makes is that the Gospels are improbable. He lists several earmarks of improbability:

*apostles abandon jobs follow stranger immediately
*Jews need Judas to identify Jesus
*illegal trail execution on high holy day
*Of he off hands supernatural stuff, always important for stoking doubt.

my answers:


abandon jobs follow stranger immediately The authors weren't there when Jesus' first disciples joined him. The descriptions they gave of those events probably made it sound like they followed him immediately. It probably wasn't considered an important point. They probably considered it literary licence.

*Jews need Judas to identify Jesus

The Jews may have needed someone to be sure they had the actual man, With no mass media, no photographs they only had eye witnesses to be sure. Had they only seen him from a distance with a lot people around him they might not have really been certain it was him. I think the real issue is they needed an insider to tell them where he would be at a given time. Otherwise the people have protected him in public.

He says Gospels don't express any incredulity at amazing things like historians do when they tell amazing things. Could that be because the Gospels are merely the writing down of the testimony given the communities, Thus they assumed up front it would be amazing, it was assumed up front it was the testimony of the Apostles.

Carrier lists "Markers of myth"
*meaningful emulation of prior myths
*historical improbabilities are frequent
*no external corroboration[4]

At this point he's describing the Gospels and using that as myth-like writing so it's rather circular in reasoning. He might as well say the first criterion for spotting myth is that it is a Gospel. No external history corroborates the myth. No external sources to corroborate gospels other than his death, No source on any other events.[5] The point that no external sources corroborate the events other than his death is really a misleading argument.

First,he wants to treat the four Gospels as though they all came out together published by Zondervon, in 99AD. There were written Gospels before the four canonical. They go back to around AD 50 (?). The four canonicals are corroborating each other. Three latter corroborate Mark,and Mark and Matt corroborate an earlier group of writings we no longer have.[6]

There are Talmudic references that are connected to Jesus' death but Carrier wanted to exempt that because apart from the death noting is corroborated. The problem they do corroborate things other then the death but in connection with the death because that's what drew attention to Jesus beyond his own continuities. Skeptic Peter Kirby (a talented armature): "This is the Jewish tradition regarding the trial of Jesus, found in the Babylonian Talmud, b. Sanh. 43a. While this text was finalized sometime in the fifth or sixth century, by its nature it incorporates many traditions that are very old, as it collects and quotes traditional commentary of the rabbis."[7]

We see more of this:

Origen quoting Celsus:

Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god." [8]

This quote is propaganda. Yet when we find overlap with the gospels we can see there is a historical corroboration:

village in Judea
Father was carpenter
Allusion to V birth
Jesus went to Egypt
Identified himself with God

further computational from my own Taplmudic studies;

It seems pretty obvious that the Talmud is discussing Jesus, at least in some instances. That in itself should be enough given the preponderance of evidence to put to rest Jesus mythism. A summary of what the most likely passages say about the one I take to be Jesus of Nazareth makes this clear:

*He was born under unusual circumstances, leading some rabbis to address him as ben Pandira and " a bastard of an adulteress
*mother Mary was Heli's daughter.
*was crucified on the eve of Passover.
* made himself alive by the name of God.
* was a son of a woman. (cf. Galatians 4:4)
* claimed to be God, the son of God, the son of man.
* ascended and claimed that he would return again.
* was near to the kingdom and near to kingship.
* had at least five disciples.
* performed miracles, i.e. practiced "sorcery".
* name has healing power.
*teaching impressed one rabbi

There are lots of sources of Talmudic corroboration, be sure and check out my pages on the mater. [9] Even more impressive are the non canonical Gospels. 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.,,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.[10]

Carrier ignores the fact of this corroboration, no doubt on the premise that being Christian it is just more of the same, repetition of the same myth, it follows an independent tradition from the Markan redaction, thus making it independent corroboration, 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.[11] 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).[12]

These are corroborating versions because they show different traditions not connected to the canonicals nevertheless with the same material thus supporting the canonical events.


[1]Richard Carrier, "Why the Gospels are Myth" video YouTube (Nov 27, 2017))


[3] Ibid, frame 620

[4] Ibid, frames 640-748

[5]Ibid frame 813

[6] Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development, London. Oxford, New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 2nd prt. edition, 1992, 215-218

[7] Hinman,:"Peter Kirby's Straw man "Best Case for Jesus:" Talmudic Evidence." religious a priori website

[8]Origen quoting Celsus, On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987, 59

[9] Hinman, "Talmud Connection to Jesus (part 1)" The Religious a priori website (2012)

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

[11] 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.

[12] Ibid.

By Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) - January 19, 2020

Sunday, June 02, 2024

How Do We Know the Inspired Parts of the Bible?

People on the net, especially skeptics, ask "what parts of the Bible are inspired and what parts are not?" or "how do we know the inwpired part of the bible?" for the ierrantist this is not a problem, it's all inspired. But since I have advertized the fact that I am not an inerrantist this question becomes more important for me.

The problem parts of the Bible are those passages where God commanded Israel to wipe out the enemy and murder everyone, even the infants. To me God would never do that, those passages are not inspired.

There is a passage which seems to say it's all inspired: 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Of course Second Timony is one of those parts most scholars now feel were not by Paul. Moreover, God could intend the documents to be included becuse they contain a lot of good, despirte the mistaken injunction to kill children.

Fundamentalists look at the Bible in a certain way and atheists look at it in reaction to the fundamentalist way. The basic assumption is made by both that the text of the Bible is, from the "In the Beginning" of Genesis to the "even so come quickly Lord Jesus" of Revelation as words transmitted from God to the mind of the authors. As though Moses sits down, takes pen in hand and a light shines on him and a voice in his head says (in a booming echo like way) "write write write, this is it...."In the  beginning...." I don't think it works that way. I am willing to understand that when the prophets say "this is what the Lord says" they may be repeating word for word the exact verbiage God gave them to say, although not necessarily. But for most of the Bible I doubt that it works that way. I think people were just using the ideas that came to them as a result of their religious experiences, and as a result they used those concepts and feelings in the different ways that it occurred to them to use such material. They put their ideas of God into the stories and those who had real experiences really captured the nature of God's grace, and those who did not genuinely experience God failed to capture such things.

The real problem is the model. The model of the fundies says that God is writing a memo. The Bible is the word form "the Big man upstairs" and just like an executive writing a memo. Moses is taking dictation. But that model assumes directly handed down verbiage, it's even called "verbal plenary" meaning "all the verbiage is inspired." That's NOT the model I use. I go by a model that views the Bible as a collection of writings which are based upon human encounters with the divine. People experience God in different ways, usually beyond words; to speak about that they must call up from the deep recesses of their spirits (minds) that intangible part that produces art and literature, and they formulate into words their experiences. That means they have to load the experince into cultural constructs.

A cultural construct is an idea that is suggested by culture, by association with other people in society and the symbols and analogies and metaphors that tacitly speak to us at a level we understand but can't necessarily articulate. In the ancient world life was cheap, people were used to thinking in terms of either wiping out the other guy or being wiped out. The ancient Hebrews magnified their culture, but a romanticized view of themselves and their struggles into narrative form and used that framework to express the wordless sense of the numinous that they experienced through contact with God. The tendency to want to wipe out other people, to destroy totally every trace of their existence and lives, is part of the cultural constructs which act as a lens to give words to the writer's deep and hidden senses of God communicated through wordless sensations on the mystical level. So they build into the narrative a bunch of stuff about wiping these guys and those guys but what we need to understand is the major point being made.

For example, in the bit about the Amalekites, I'm pretty sure the bit about the infants is added in latter. I think we see real evdience in the text that it's been tweaked. But the real point is not wipe out the Amalekites nor is it that it's ok for us to wipe our enemies, the real point is to obey God. Saul didn't obey God and the incident was a down fall for him. Now it doesn't matter that the incident is this failure to wipe out the infants, it could have been anything. They wrote it like that. The real point is do whatever God tells you to do. But that God is not going to tell us to wipe out our enemies and destroy their kids is pretty obvious to most of us. We can defend that description well enough to say "God did not command this." We can even put it up to religious experience. My experiences of God tell me God doesn't want this. But why did the author of that part of the Bible (presumably Samuel) think that God did tell him that? Because he's filtering the experience through his cultural constructs

. Now you might ask "but then how can we learn moral truths? Our moral understanding is not static. Our understanding evolves over time. The ancient Hebrews could not understand this was wrong because it was common place in their day. We understand the wrong of it because culture evolves. Jesus understood it was wrong. Jesus did not say "wipe out the Amalekites" he said "turn the other cheek." He even corrected the understanding of the OT generations when he said "you have heard it said an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you turn the other cheek." With the Bible we do not proof text. We don't determine what to do by one verse. We use the preponderance of the evidence, meaning everything we can understand about the Bible. We don't stop there, we study and understand what others have said about it. We use the words of the saints and the great theologians as precedents and benchmarks to help us interpret. Samuel was not speaking with authority for all time in telling that story. He was merely telling a story he heard some someone and putting down on paper some tradition (probably the real author was writing from Babylon in the exile--that's the most heavily redacted part of the Bible). He was putting into the work his understanding of God from his experiences as well what he had been taught. But the end result is a narrative and like all narratives it only works to accomplish its task when we try to understand it as a narrative and not force it into molds where it doesn't fit such as memo from the boss, military communique, or auto owner's manual.

 We need to understand the bible as literature. It's major function is to bestow grace upon the reader. you read it to be healed to find spiritual edification and to understand God's laws. There are those who think it should be read like an instruction Manuel for a car. They seem to think it's going to tell us every move to make in the same way that the owner's Manual tells us how to change the oil. Since the Bible is a collection of different works written over a long period of time it doesn't make sense to try and fit the whole collection into one model and understand it all in the same way.

We don't have to understand exactly the role of inspiration nor do we need to look for the inspired parts as opposed to the banal parts. What we need to do is understand the overall preponderance of teaching and to weigh in that light what God shows us in our own lives. When we do this grace is bestowed, we are healed, we are drawn closer to God but we do not have to relate to it as if we are reading the instructions to change the oil in the car.