Rather than having one mega post, here is part 2 of the post about juries, etc. Part one is here.
I have said that there are only stories that Paul existed as claimed. That includes his supposed conversion. I can also say that there are only stories that Simon Magus flew around since that also cannot be shown as true either. There are many stories that have no evidence supporting them. We have the claims that King Solomon used demons to build the Temple of Solomon. I ask our Christians: Is that a story or is it the truth? How can you tell? We have no evidence of such a temple so who knows how it was built, if it existed at all. This also applies to the supposed empty tomb. We have no tomb so we have no idea if anyone was in it, or if anyone disappeared from it.
Acts is a story, and again, we have nothing more than it to claim that someone named Luke traveled with someone named Paul who could do miracles. In this, SS assumes both men existed as described in the bible with no evidence of such a thing. If this is simply a story, then there was no information exchanged “first hand”. It is claimed that “Paul refers numerous times to his conversion experience numerous times in his letters”. No he does not. We have these two passages that mention a conversion but no details:
1 Galatians: 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
1 Corinthians 15: 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.
We have Acts where the story gets different details when it’s told. It is claimed that as long as we have accounts written by someone themselves, then their claims should be considered evidence of an occurrence. Hmmm, so when I claim that Daleks have landed in my backyard and are enjoying pina coladas, that should be taken as evidence that this really did happen? What? Someone doesn’t believe me when I’ve written this down myself? Darn, I guess “once again, sometimes nothing is good enough”.
And yes, I do say that the appearance to the 500 is just a story. It comes from 1 Corinthians, written by Paul, some decades later than the supposed event. There is no evidence this is from some “ancient creed”, it is solely found in 1 Corinthians. But, to give SS the benefit of the doubt, I ask him to tell us what this ancient creed is that he has claimed was from just a few years after JC’s death and comes from the Jerusalem community of Christians. Now, one might say that well, Paul has no way to know a certain number, but the gospels did say that JC was wandering around doing so many things that the entire world could not fit all of the books needed to write them down in, so maybe its one of those vague claims, but that doesn’t appear to be what SS is claiming. The gospel of John doesn’t mention 500 people or anyone at all after JC chats with Thomas, though it does mention “ Many other signs in the presence of his disciples”. Were there 500 disciples? Luke doesn’t mention it either. Neither does Mark, new or old ending. Finally, Matthew and Acts are both also quiet on the subject.
I think I am fairly safe in knowing that SS is guessing about what these people thought, since he has presented no ability to read minds either now or in the past. Paul indeed says that ““Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” SS, you claim that this should be “self-explanatory”. However, it isn’t, and I ask you to do so. I have noted, in my time debating with Christians, that a Christian will claim this hoping no one will question his assertion. It is akin to throwing shit at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. SS, tell me what is self-explanatory about Paul reminding his audience about the gospel he preached to them in regards to the claim of 500 witnesses. Since all of the gospels that are accepted by most Christians do not mention these 500 people at all, what does telling the audience to remember the gospels accomplish? I would also mention that Paul claims that Jesus was raised, and appeared to Peter before he appeared to the rest of the apostles (it’s no surprise that Paul doesn’t mention JC appearing to Mary at all). In John, this does not happen. In Luke, the two apostles on the road to Emmaus, claim that JC appeared to Peter but strangely this encounter is not written about in detail, we only have Peter wandering off wondering what happened but not meeting JC at all. Mark doesn’t mention this nor does Matthew. It seems that Paul is a bit confused.
I did indeed quote the bible to show that JC predicted his death repeatedly. SS claims that the phrase “but they did not understand what he was saying” accompanies “most” of the predictions. Let’s see if it does. (SS, here is one of the places where I find you willfully ignorant, when you should know this stuff but either don’t or don’t wish to check on your claims)
Mark 10 – no mention of failure to understand here
Luke 18 – Ah, here we go! Now, funny how the others failed to mention this.
John 12 – and again we have that JC predicts his death and the crowd there didn’t understand. It does go on to mention the same claims by JC that those who he/God don’t want to understand will never understand (bummer about that free will again). Earlier this chapter does mention the apostles, claiming that they *do* understand what is going on: “16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”
So we have 75 percent not mentioning any misunderstanding at all or the declaration that they do understand and one instance – 25% – where the apostles don’t understand. So, we have that it is not true that “most of the predictions” have “but they did not understand what he was saying” with them. I agree, one must ask why the apostles were cowering in fear if they understood as seems to be the case. Could they have doubted and that caused their fear? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that they misunderstood. Rather than “many” were skeptical, we are told that “some” doubted. Like many people who want others to believe them, some Christians find that they have to improve the claims of their bible, making them more than they are. I ask our Christians: Can you see how this could have been done again and again over the years to get what we have today and it not be true at all?
We see SS making baseless claims again when he claims that “myths of dying and rising gods never really took off in Palestine”. Well, one could make the argument that they certainly did, with the ideas being co-opted into the Jewish myths with Jesus. He also claims that “most” of the mystery religions began to “take off” after the destruction of the temple (I’m assuming he means the second one here). That is untrue, since we have Osiris quite a bit older and right there off the border of Palestine. SS is mistaken about the myth of Heracles, he claims Heracles “dies for good”. No, he is taken to heaven and made a full-fledged god. Just like someone else we know, eh? I know, the difference is that JC supposedly came back to earth in his wounded now alive body but that isn’t the story in all of the gospels. We have Mary not recognizing him at all, and we have different ideas of when he can be touched.
SS also asks why anyone would associate JC with “these people” assumedly the sacrificial gods. Well, because he claimed he was going to be one of them, if one believes the bible. In the Jewish prophecies, we have no claims of being killed and returning. The messiah will come and then reign, with all of the world’s leaders respecting him. Didn’t happen so much with JC. What’s the possible answer? That the idea of a returning god is co-opted into the story to explain an inconvenient death. I don’t think It’s not beyond humans to do this. We make up crazier stories.
I would ask SS how one could show a connection between the resurrection myths and Jesus. What would be possible ways to do this? Hmmm. Well, we have the cultures intermixing, either normally through trade and conquest, or if you believe the bible, through the supposed enslavement of the Israelites by one big culture all about resurrection, the Egyptians. We can see how religions infect each other with the modern examples of voodoo and Santeria. So we have an actual observed phenomenon versus an unsupported claim that the authors of the bible came up with the idea of resurrection on their own. Perhaps it is more important to ask: How can one show that the authors of the bible didn’t copy the myth?
Finally we’re approaching the end of this. SS does admit that the sincerity of believe does not make the belief true. He tries this: “It is highly unlikely the disciples would live a life of suffering and martyrdom if all they preached was a lie, they had absolutely nothing to gain from preaching it. This fact cuts the claim that the disciples deliberately made up the whole thing, for while people will die for what they believe is true, no-one will die for a known lie. This fact cuts the claim that the disciples deliberately made up the whole thing, for while people will die for what they believe is true, no-one will die for a known lie.” Earlier, SS claimed that the early Christians lived a dangerous life willingly because they sincerely believed in the stories and this was evidence that Jesus Christ, son of God existed. I have not said that the early Christians deliberately made up the whole thing; I have said that what they believe is myth, but how that myth grew is still not completely understood. That still does not make the myth reality. They still can die still being very sincere believers, but this does not make the belief true. Again, we have had many humans die for beliefs that are more than a little ridiculous. It’s nothing new, now or 2000 years ago.
SS seems to be a little offended that I said that he’s used William Lane Craig’s arguments. Now, from what I recall which may be faulty, WLC came up with those arguments first, before the other apologists that SS cites. SS also claims he uses Charles Foster and his book “The Jesus Inquest”. Now, it seems that the Jesus Inquest book has the following as chapters: 1) Does all this matter? 2) The sources 3) The death 4) The burial 5) The Empty Tomb 6) The Post-Resurrection Appearances 7) Did the Early Church Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus? 8) Where Did the Christians Get Their Idea of Resurrection?
Now, let’s look at WLC’s website: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus I ask the audience to take a look for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Here are the highlights: 1. There was insufficient time for legendary influences to expunge the historical facts. 2. The gospels are not analogous to folk tales or contemporary “urban legends.”3. The Jewish transmission of sacred traditions was highly developed and reliable. 4. There were significant restraints on the embellishment of traditions about Jesus, such as the presence of eyewitnesses and the apostles’ supervision. 5. The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability.
The reader may take from that what they will.
Plagiarize means take word for word, which unsurprisingly I never accused SS of. SS certainly didn’t do that, and it doesn’t seem Foster did either. They’re just just using the exact same arguments as WLC does and they still fail. So much for bringing a bad reputation for apologists, it’s already here.
And please do mention Pascal’s Wager. Oh please! 🙂