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Habermas Debunked


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:thanks:

 

I recently got an insight into how the PhD program works and the politics involved. Since Habermas got a PhD, I suspect that the whole MF idea was his dissertation. He has to defend the idea that got him his PhD, otherwise, his whole house of cards will fall apart.

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:thanks:

 

I recently got an insight into how the PhD program works and the politics involved. Since Habermas got a PhD, I suspect that the whole MF idea was his dissertation. He has to defend the idea that got him his PhD, otherwise, his whole house of cards will fall apart.

 

yep.

 

The whole 'minimal facts' thing is ruminating in my mind (pretty big word for a non PhD) and I'm sure, at some point, I'll post a point by point rebuttal of it, completely of my own and without opinion but with solid fact. I'm deeply insulted by this idea that you have to have a PhD to have solid insights into these matters, and that if you don't fall down in worship of his methodology then you haven't read Habermas.

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Although the simple question 'Who wrote the gospels?' is powerful enough all by itself to demolish the whole 'minimal facts' argument.

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That is a fascinating read. Aren't there actual Department of History type historians who specialize in first through fifth century Palestine and/or Roman history? I would especially be interested in hearing from someone without the pressures of denominational and theological conformity. Of course, such historians may be under pressure not to comment on anything to do with the bible, otherwise face the wrath of university officials who want that nice green endowment money from religious benefactors.

 

It seems that most New Testament scholars are associated with seminary or christian university and part of the theology school. In most of these institutions, the idea of academic freedom is a joke at best. One cannot step too far off the official doctrinal path. As such, do they really qualify as "historians?" They often teach bible classes, New Testament Greek, etc. And it is my understanding that their discipline isn't that well respected by historians in institutions where there is both a history department and theology department.

 

What makes a historian qualified in these cases? And if they have to sign some sort of doctrinal statement, or "tow the line" in a theological milleu, wouldn't their views as a historian be somewhat suspect?

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I just skimmed some of the criticism of Habermas' Minimal Facts theory and I have seen W.L. Craig use it in his debates on Youtube. This is a common tactic in a courtrooms. One side defines the criteria for any given argument and then refute any conclusions that don't jibe with the conclusion that flow from their criteria. Inexperienced lawyers are drawn into the trap, play their opponent's game, and are slaughtered like sheep at Yahweh's altar. More experienced lawyers refuse to accept the criteria, set their own and thus neutralize their opponent's attempts while providing a good, logical set of facts that they can compare with their opponent's "facts" and argue how their opponent's conclusions are bogus. That's what these people are ding with MF.

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If you guys looked at the comments on the page, what do you think about that Nathanial guy? He seems to be a very liberal christian who thinks all the facts are on his side. Whenever I read someone like him, I don't know how to answer his statements in my mind. What do you think?

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If you guys looked at the comments on the page, what do you think about that Nathanial guy? He seems to be a very liberal christian who thinks all the facts are on his side. Whenever I read someone like him, I don't know how to answer his statements in my mind. What do you think?

I only read this from Nathaniel "This is just false: the majority of biblical scholars are not Christians of any stripe at all, and of those who consider themselves Christians, most do not believe the Bible to be inerrant or inspired in any sense." And I knew that he's an idiot.

 

He's probably right that a large number of the biblical scholars don't believe in the inerrant word, but I'm quite sure most of them are Christian. Why else would they be biblical scholars? Not all of them can be like Bart Ehrman and love the cultural inheritance and read the bible like a Shakespeare-ian literature.

 

And of course, if a biblical scholar believe Jesus was God's son, died, and was resurrected by God for salvation for everyone (which is kind of the foundation for Habermas study) then they of course would be Christian! It's like having a study on what Ford owners think about their cars, and the response back is that 70% think the car is good but 30% think it's not, and then the apologist claims that these Ford owners do not own a Ford. :Doh:

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#3 pisses me off the most as it is intentionally intellectually dishonest:

 

Accordingly, the nonbeliever bears the burden of proof to offer a well-defined secular hypothesis explaining the asserted “facts.”

 

This is just another form of proving a negative, just in a different way. It's just saying "If you can't show me how my "facts" were done using science I can assume that my facts are right". Not only limiting the non-believer to the supposed biblical "facts", any such explanations are summarily defined as "theistic rationalism" and thrown out. The assumer has no intention of actually engaging in any sort of intellectual exchange.

 

Ultimately, the weak point is argument #2 - just because the crowd believes it, doesn't make it true. http://en.wikipedia....ntum_ad_populum

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If you guys looked at the comments on the page, what do you think about that Nathanial guy? He seems to be a very liberal christian who thinks all the facts are on his side. Whenever I read someone like him, I don't know how to answer his statements in my mind. What do you think?

I only read this from Nathaniel "This is just false: the majority of biblical scholars are not Christians of any stripe at all, and of those who consider themselves Christians, most do not believe the Bible to be inerrant or inspired in any sense." And I knew that he's an idiot.

 

He's probably right that a large number of the biblical scholars don't believe in the inerrant word, but I'm quite sure most of them are Christian. Why else would they be biblical scholars? Not all of them can be like Bart Ehrman and love the cultural inheritance and read the bible like a Shakespeare-ian literature.

 

And of course, if a biblical scholar believe Jesus was God's son, died, and was resurrected by God for salvation for everyone (which is kind of the foundation for Habermas study) then they of course would be Christian! It's like having a study on what Ford owners think about their cars, and the response back is that 70% think the car is good but 30% think it's not, and then the apologist claims that these Ford owners do not own a Ford. :Doh:

 

What I was wondering about was probably the oddest thing he said. In one of his many posts, (Does this guy have nothing better to do?) he claims that the four gospels were circulated from the beginning not only with their author's names attached, but also dated. (Of course, he claimed all bibical scholars ignore the supposed dates.) I have never heard anyone, christian or otherwise claim that any of the ether complete or fragmented gospels we have were dated. Were they?

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From Nathaniel in the comments of that page:

Waiving that, unless (a) the existence of God is impossible or ( B )the occurrence of the resurrection of Jesus, given that there is a God, is impossible, P( R | B )is going to be greater than zero. So there are two clear and convincing arguments for the conclusion that P( R | B ) > 0.

 

 

Point (a) is impossible to prove (proving a negative) and point ( B )is begging the question. When you're forcing someone to prove a negative you do not get to automatically assume that your argument holds any amount of validity.

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What I was wondering about was probably the oddest thing he said. In one of his many posts, (Does this guy have nothing better to do?) he claims that the four gospels were circulated from the beginning not only with their author's names attached, but also dated. (Of course, he claimed all bibical scholars ignore the supposed dates.) I have never heard anyone, christian or otherwise claim that any of the ether complete or fragmented gospels we have were dated. Were they?

Yes and no.

 

There are no date stamps or date references for authoring on the documents. So they're not "dated" in that sense.

 

They are given an approximate date by scholars, based on textual analysis. The use of language, word order, phrases, ideas that fits a certain time, etc, give hints to when each one was most likely authored.

 

They they're of course out-dated... :HaHa:

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Although the simple question 'Who wrote the gospels?' is powerful enough all by itself to demolish the whole 'minimal facts' argument.

I might sound stupid for saying this, but please say more on that.

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One thing I noticed about the 'minimal facts' is that none of the supernatural occurrences of the gospels are claimed to be facts, and in fact the 'empty tomb' doesn't get enough agreement from scholars to be classified as a fact. What these 'minimal facts' have in common is plausibility - of course it's plausible that certain people believed they saw a risen Jesus, but then a leap is made that the supernatural is the most reasonable explanation for this list of plausible items. If Habermas were to tender 'Jesus was resurrected' to his scholars he would get very little agreement because it's not only not attested but no resurrection was ever witnessed. The ascension would also fail since it's not reported in any of the gospels, only Luke relates it and from him it's hearsay. So even if any of the 'minimal facts' could be established AS actual fact, they are still explainable by means other than the supernatural. I still maintain that they aren't verified facts at all - the only 'gospel' whose authorship might be plausibly posited is Luke, and his entire gospel is hearsay, as is the book of Acts until around chapter 20 (I've mislaid my bible at the moment) when he joins up with Paul in Greece. Since we can't verify authorship or origination, the gospels are inadmissible as reliable evidence.

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I think Bart Ehrman made a very good argument, and I'm kind of spinning on it my own way.

 

A miracle is defined as an event that you can't foresee, plan, or expect. It's something that is by definition statistically impossible.

 

Historians deal with what is statistically possible, not what is statistically impossible.

 

Any alternative theory for what happened, swoon theory, or whatever, regardless of how each alternative theory might sound silly or implausible, if they are natural explanations, they are still much more likely than a statistically impossible event like a miracle. In other words, any alternative theory, however silly it is, is more likely and more historically plausible than the minimal facts theory.

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Although the simple question 'Who wrote the gospels?' is powerful enough all by itself to demolish the whole 'minimal facts' argument.

I might sound stupid for saying this, but please say more on that.

 

One of Habermas' criteria for his 'minimal facts' is 'multiple attestation,' meaning something is attested to in several sources. However nearly all of the 'minimal facts' rely primarily on the four gospels, each of which is counted as a separate source. Since we don't know who wrote the gospels, at what time, what their relationship, if any, to Jesus was, if they even witnessed firsthand any of the things they write about, they can't be counted as reliable sources. LNC on another thread mentioned the fable of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree as a boy - we know where that fable originated, we know who originated it and when, so that we can discount the story as an invention. This what we can't do with the gospels. Does that help?

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Although the simple question 'Who wrote the gospels?' is powerful enough all by itself to demolish the whole 'minimal facts' argument.

I might sound stupid for saying this, but please say more on that.

 

One of Habermas' criteria for his 'minimal facts' is 'multiple attestation,' meaning something is attested to in several sources. However nearly all of the 'minimal facts' rely primarily on the four gospels, each of which is counted as a separate source. Since we don't know who wrote the gospels, at what time, what their relationship, if any, to Jesus was, if they even witnessed firsthand any of the things they write about, they can't be counted as reliable sources. LNC on another thread mentioned the fable of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree as a boy - we know where that fable originated, we know who originated it and when, so that we can discount the story as an invention. This what we can't do with the gospels. Does that help?

yeppers thank you.

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I think Bart Ehrman made a very good argument, and I'm kind of spinning on it my own way.

 

A miracle is defined as an event that you can't foresee, plan, or expect. It's something that is by definition statistically impossible.

 

Historians deal with what is statistically possible, not what is statistically impossible.

 

Any alternative theory for what happened, swoon theory, or whatever, regardless of how each alternative theory might sound silly or implausible, if they are natural explanations, they are still much more likely than a statistically impossible event like a miracle. In other words, any alternative theory, however silly it is, is more likely and more historically plausible than the minimal facts theory.

And the most absurd explanation using minimal facts (empty tomb, appearances, etc) is also more likely then an actual resurrection.

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What I was wondering about was probably the oddest thing he said. In one of his many posts, (Does this guy have nothing better to do?) he claims that the four gospels were circulated from the beginning not only with their author's names attached, but also dated. (Of course, he claimed all bibical scholars ignore the supposed dates.) I have never heard anyone, christian or otherwise claim that any of the ether complete or fragmented gospels we have were dated. Were they?

Yes and no.

 

There are no date stamps or date references for authoring on the documents. So they're not "dated" in that sense.

 

They are given an approximate date by scholars, based on textual analysis. The use of language, word order, phrases, ideas that fits a certain time, etc, give hints to when each one was most likely authored.

 

They they're of course out-dated... :HaHa:

 

Lol, here's his post that I was referring to: (I'll do a quick critique as well.)

 

Nathaniel said,

 

April 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm

 

Evan,

 

Your entire belief in the resurrection of Jesus is dependent on the assumption that the Canonical Gospels, these undated anonymously authored evangelistic stories, are somehow reliable history.

 

As far as my beliefs go — and here I should know, whereas you are merely guessing — the conversion of Paul and the contents of the Pauline epistles are also very significant factors.

 

Exactly how? Paul witnessed non of the events in the gospels. His personality varies greatly between his epistles and Acts. And he had such a hard-on for his doctrine that he states in Galatians that if an "angel from heaven" tells the Galatians something different, then it should be accursed and not believed.

 

 

Despite the fact that the claim is often made, the canonical gospels are not “anonymously authored” in the sense of being circulated without ascription of authorship attached. There is no evidence that they ever circulated without the names of the authors attached. They often circulated dated as well, but you wouldn’t like the dates.

 

This is what I was referring to. I have never heard this before. I'd like to see some proof.

 

 

You got one thing right: I am persuaded by the available evidence that they contain much reasonably reliable history.

 

This is anything but a proven assumption as a very good case can be made that the gospels or at least the gospel of “Mark” were authored as midrashic allegory & are not history at all.

 

I’ve seen the arguments; I simply find them wildly unpersuasive.

 

While I find them rather persuasive.

 

 

The passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is almost certainly a late interpolation …

 

There is not a shred of evidence for this claim. And yes, I’ve read Robert Price’s piece in The Empty Tomb.

 

I'm undecided on this, but even if Paul did write it, he is merely passing on what he heard from other Christians, he still didn't witness any of it.

 

 

… by those oh-so ethical Christian scribes who like Eusebius seem to have no qualms fabricating evidence for the Kingdom.

 

Sigh. See Roger Pearse’s thorough debunking of the “Eusebius endorsed lying” myth here.

 

*Will look at later.*

 

 

We have no evidence for an historical Jesus as a real person let alone that he was executed under Pontius Pilate …

 

Why do real, credentialed, academically employed ancient historians laugh themselves silly at this thought? (And they do. Trust me. I’ve asked them.) Could it have something to do with Annals 15.44? Or with the fact that, barring some internet crackpots, a solid majority of ancient historians accept the fact that Josephus referred to Jesus twice in the Antiquities? Or maybe it’s those passages from Suetonius. Or Pliny’s letter to Trajan. Or Trajan’s reply. Or Hadrian’s rescript to Minucius Fundanus. Or the references in Juvenal, Martial, Epictetus …

 

Suetonius, Hadrian, Pliny, and Trajan are all writing in the 2nd century, and are talking about Christians, not about Jesus. Tacitus, also writing in the 2nd cen. was not an eyewitness also. He also notes that Christianity did much better in Rome than in Judea.

 

 

No other contemporaneous author in that area seemed to have noticed this wonder-working, regionally famous messiah or the miraculous events around his very public execution & resurrection.

 

Another argument from silence. How much literature do you think we have from the 30s to the 70s, and why would you expect any of those authors to take notice of what they thought of as an obscure Jewish sect? Maybe you think it should crop up in Columella’s work on agriculture? Or in the Satyricon of Petronius — as if it would be a burning issue for Nero’s pimp? Or maybe you think Lucan should have worked it into his poem about the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey.

 

No, but Philo of Alexiandra should have noticed something. Especially since Eusebius calls him a Christian. An argument from silence is not a very good one, but if the fame of Jesus was half of what the gospels say it was, someone should have taken note outside of the Christian community.

 

 

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One thing that's crystallized in my mind is that Habermas' 'facts' are all pretty mundane things, yet he can't get 100% agreement on any of them - even the proposition that Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate is rejected by 10% of the New Testament scholars that Habermas polled. When you begin to insert hints of supernatural influence, like the empty tomb, you get 30% dismissal, and, again, this from the 'experts.' (And for the record, an empty tomb is just an empty tomb - one wonders why 30% are unwilling to grant it).

 

Two of the 'facts' particularly have been plaguing me, that of James and Paul changing from, one a skeptic, the other a sworn enemy, to believers. I wonder if James 'saw' the risen Jesus, and I wonder why Paul needed a vision to believe. Habermas can only posit as a fact that certain people believed they saw Jesus resurrected - again, a pretty mundane statement. Aside from the apostles, and the legendary 400 at one time, people then were no better off than we - having to accept the subjective experiences of a small handful of people regarding the 'resurrection' of Jesus. My eternal salvation rests solely in my ability to accept the subjective experiences of people who died over 1800 years before I was born.

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My eternal salvation rests solely in my ability to accept the subjective experiences of people who died over 1800 years before I was born.

Good points in your post.

 

And yes, isn't it silly, really, that our future depends on some strange event in the past, and we have to trust people we never met who are telling us about that event? It's all very dumb as a salvation plan from an all-infinite clever God. God is either stupid or plainly doesn't exist.

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The stupid minimalist facts argument can be debunked just by looking at my bookshelf. Just looking at my bookshelf, John Dominic Crossan, Burton Mack, and Bart D Ehrman are biblical scholars and all of them either allow for the possibility there was no empty tomb or flat out state the empty tomb is a myth. Crossan himself argues in his book Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography that there probably was no empty tomb, Jesus' body was never returned to the apostles, and the Roman authorities probably threw Jesus' body away to be eaten by dogs.

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BDP might find this interesting

 

 

Paul's Visions of the Resurrection

We have strong support of this from an unexpected source, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. The epistles of Paul represents the only authentic writing of an early Christian who actually "saw" the risen Christ. While there is nothing in these that describe in any detail his experience of the risen Jesus there are three accounts of this in the Acts of the apostles. Given below is one of the passage from Acts which had Paul describe his vision to a crowd in Jerusalem:

 

Acts 22:6-11 (Also Acts 9:3ff; 26:12)

"While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' Then he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.' Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, 'What am I to do, Lord?' The Lord said to me, 'Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.' Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus."

Nowhere in the accounts given in Acts are we actually told that Paul saw the risen Jesus. All he saw was a blinding light and a voice which his companions either did not hear or understand. The experience of Paul was nowhere near the tangible Jesus of the resurrected Jesus in the gospels. Paul's vision was a lot more uncertain than those described by the gospels.Yet we note that Paul in no way considered his vision as any different from those actually experienced by Peter and the other apostles, as he himself asserts:

 

I Corinthians 9:1

Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?

Paul, as evidenced from the passage above, does not think his vision to be any inferior than those experienced by the other apostles. Now anyone reading the gospel accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus and compare them to Paul's vision as narrated in Acts will not fail to notice that the Paul's vision is a lot less tangible and less certain than the apostles'. For one thing nobody around him heard (or understood) the voice. For another Paul didn't actually see Jesus all he saw was a blinding light, whereas the gospel narrated the disciples as actually seeing, talking and even eating with Jesus. It should be remembered that Paul's epistles predated the gospels by at least four decades. (Mark does not have any resurrection appearance). And in his own description of the resurrection appearances of Jesus (in I Corinthians 15:3-8), Paul used the word ofti (he was seen, he was observed). The choice of this word is significant according to Guignebert:

 

This word does not necessarily imply the actual appearance of a person, but may only indicate an unusual phenomena...the use of the word ofti in enumerating other visions in the Pauline lists...excludes such details as prolonged conversations, meals and resumption of ordinary life, on which the gospels dwell. [1]

The precedent of the Pauline epistle strongly suggests that the appearances witnessed original followers of Jesus amount to nothing more than the type described by Paul, i.e. visions. We have absolutely no reason to believe that Paul understood Jesus' appearances to the apostles as anything different from his own experience. [2] This view finds another adherent in the ex-nun turned author, Karen Armstrong:

 

It is interesting to note that Paul makes no distinction between his own vision of Jesus and those apparitions to Peter and the others. Where the gospels show Jesus as physically and inconvertibly present to the apostles, able to eat drink and be touched, Paul, who was writing much earlier, shows the events as entirely similar to his own violent vision, which he compares to an abnormal childbirth. The apparitions to Peter and James and the rest were probably visions like Paul's on the road to Damascus, rather than physical manifestations of the risen Lord. Paul does not suggest that they were any different. [3]

If, as we have seen is very likely, the actual resurrection appearances of Jesus were nothing more than hallucinatory visions brought on by psychological factors, it becomes clear why there were skeptics among the original followers of Jesus as to stories and claims of seeing the risen Christ.

 

Keeping in mind our dictum about extraordinary claims and the considerations above, it is inherently more likely that the actual resurrection experience of the first apostles were of a visionary and hallucinatory nature, akin to that of Paul's. The resurrection appearances of Jesus as described in the gospels are pure myths.

 

http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/hallucination.html

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Thanks Valk - very interesting read.

 

In Mark, the oldest gospel, there are NO accounts of Jesus appearing to anyone; Mary and whoever else come to the tomb, find it open, and see a young man inside who tells them that Jesus went ahead into Galilee, as he told them he would. Sounds like a prearranged scenario to me. Something else that struck me is that Matthew is the only gospel that says the tomb was actually sealed, the others just say that a stone was rolled in front of it.

 

Then again if over a quarter of the new Testament scholars Habermas surveyed reject the empty tomb I don't know why I should spend time trying to explain it. :shrug:

 

What I have been wondering about is the statement in that page I linked in the first post that Habermas has individual stats on each of the 'facts.' I haven't been able to find those so far, but it's curious to me that he groups them, with the higher echelon 'facts' getting 90%. I honestly would have thought that 'Jesus was crucified by Pilate' would have gotten a lot higher than 90% agreement, and I'm wondering if the four or five facts in his primary group ARE grouped to give that 90% average - suppose 'Jesus was crucified by Pilate' got 98% or higher, but 'James the brother of Jesus changed from a skeptic to a convert' got something lower, like 85 to 89% - grouping the 'facts' brings a more impressive sounding higher average of 90% for the lot. But, again, so far as I have been able to ascertain there's no 100% consensus on anything and, to belabor the point, all of the 'facts' are mundane occurrences that can have completely plausible, naturalistic explanations.

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