Dogmatism and the human delete key

I’ve noticed (or confirmed) something very interesting in my recent dialogue with atheists and skeptics about classical theology and philosophy. Like the dogmatic religious Fundamentalist, the atheist or skeptics also have their dogmatism and Fundamentalism. But what this actually reveals is the human “delete” key (or perhaps, trapdoor) in our mind that doesn’t recognize things we don’t expect. 

For instance, we don’t expect a black heart (ace) in a deck of cards, so we most likely won’t notice it unless someone points it out to us.

I’ve pointed this out in the past with my Christian brothers and sisters about how we tend to gloss over Scripture passages that are unsettling for us; that is, if taken with wooden literalism. In our honorable defense of biblical inspiration, we run the risk of turning it into something it was never meant to be, because of our interpretation rather than the text itself. But this glossing over is equally true among our despisers of Christianity on philosophy of religion. In all my posts on Classical theology and philosophy I’ve yet to have a detractor demonstrate to me that they have a grasp of the argument. As I pointed out before, instead, they keep arguing against Theistic Personalism and/or “god of the gaps.”

But the thing is, they think they are arguing against my position. Why is this so? Well, it’s because of our “delete key.”

Our Human Delete Key

The following quote is from Philip Jenkins, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (p. 185):

“WE ARE HARDWIRED TO edit reality. Memory and experience teach us what to expect from the world, but on occasion we encounter facts or situations that fail to mesh with those preconceptions. At that point, a part of the brain comes into play, the component popularly known as the mind’s Delete key. (Its technical name is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or DLPFC.) We suppress or inhibit unsettling anomalies, to the point that we honestly do not absorb or remember them. Within our brain, each of us has a personal censor. This does not mean that the development of moral consciousness slavishly follows some predetermined biological pattern, but we do have a natural tendency to ignore or underplay those things that do not fit our reality.”

So, apparently, when we theists argue from a classical position, DLPFC kicks in and rather than engage the argument, the detractors engage in what they expect the argument to be rather than what the argument actually is. And then, when they get to a point of frustration, they pull out the “dishonest, lying, disingenuous, misdirecting, moving the goal posts, false equivalencies, mind games…” and other shop-worn accusations to dismiss the messenger.

What’s funny about this is that we theists are often accused of being irrational and not logical…except when we have a rational argument that’s logical. Then, we’re just playing mind games.

The point I’m trying to make is this: dogmatism leads to DLPFC, whether you’re a religious dogmatist or anti-Christian one. I thought that “consoledreader” had a great point on this in response to Rebecca here, referencing a study done on various kinds of atheism.

The study found: Anti-Theist Type had the highest levels Narcissim, Dogmatism, Anger, were the least agreeable, had the least positive relations with people, but also had the highest levels of autonomy.

Here’s a article referenced about the nature of dogmatism: “The Many Faces of Dogmatism.” The subtitle of this article says it all: Prejudice as a way of protecting certainty against value violators among dogmatic believers and atheists. We don’t like nuances of mystery, so we either go for the absolute certainty of dogma or the convenient but incoherent morass of total subjectivism. That way, we don’t have to think about or cogently defend what we believe when challenged. We just go into attack mode in a futile attempt to eliminate the dissenters.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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130 Responses to Dogmatism and the human delete key

  1. Oh,cool post, Mel! You’ve also just explained why we need one another, need the church so to speak. “Iron sharpens iron” and also, “be not wise in your own conceits.” We can’t see what is in the back of our own head, what is beyond our line of vision. Others aren’t always right, but in general they can often see the back of my head better than I can. I have a Del key.

    So a common theme among cultians of all sort, including atheist cultians, is isolation, the othering of everyone outside the cult. Everybody else in the world is out to get you, to brainwash you, to indoctrinate you, to sell you snake oil. The enemy to be avoided least they contaminate your dogmatism. Woof! Woof!

    I once read an interesting article that theorized the reason why our brains are so big is because, they actually work like a giant filter. We are indeed, “hardwired to edit reality.” So kind of the opposite of a computer or a sponge absorbing data, but instead we’re more like a resister. Which then begs the question, so what is behind the veil? What is this huge reality, this Big Truth, that we must shrink down so our focus is narrow enough to allow us to operate and function in a biological world? Or as the bible is always trying to tell us, “my ways are not your ways” and “lean not into your own understanding.” We see through the glass darkly,by design, but that does not mean that is all there is.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good points, IB. The filter aspect of the brain makes sense. And, if it’s true, it’s probably for our own mental sanity, so we can reduce stimuli to a manageable level in order to make sense of things. But it also works against us in growing and learning from those who disagree with us. It’s too easy to resort to our primitive “fight or flight” mode!

      This is why we should faithfully question everything, including what we assume about what we believe, but also what anti-Christians and skeptics tell us, especially when they’re committed materialists and/or embrace scientism. We should faithfully question their skepticism (and myopic worldview). LOL! And I emphasize “faithful” questioning here because it’s not about proving someone wrong, it’s about what you’re for and seeing if a different view makes sense. Like the Bereans in Acts 17 who searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was so. I wrote about that “Why we should practice the art of faithful questioning.”

      Anyway, you’re right, we need each other. We can learn from everyone if we keep the trapdoor of our mind open; even fundamentalist anti-Christians can learn something. 🙂

  2. jim- says:

    It is a misrepresentation of atheism when the sample is taken from Bible Belt to make a generalized statement. Even consoled reader follows up with this comment. What kind of atheist do you think I am Mel? I don’t believe I am any of these, and a little of all of them depending on the circumstance. Very few are angry that I know. Be sure to read past the intended link, because more context is needed, and CR provides it as he is straightforward and honest.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Jim, I didn’t say all atheists are like this, nor did the article. That was not the point of my post. And while the study was restricted to the Bible Belt, some of the most belligerent dogmatic and argumentative atheists I’ve ever met in blogland are not from the US. And I would also consider Dawkins and the late Hitchens and their ilk as angry anti-Christian fundamentalists who mischaracterized Christianity, who clearly don’t understand Christian theology or philosophy from their writing, and who profit greatly by promoting their dogmatic scientism in popular media. These despisers are not from the States either.

      And, by the same prejudicial token, most Christians are not Fundamentalists yet atheists from around the world prop up the most ugly version of Christian Fundamentalism like that straw man represents Christianity as a whole. Most of their accusations against Christianity made here are against extreme Fundamentalism, not major historic Christian theology and philosophy.

      • jim- says:

        You want to see how we see you. One way is Spiritual Bypass. Google it or see it here https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-sobriety/201110/beware-spiritual-bypass%3Famp. It’s how you overlook the warts and keep pressing forward,dragging along the baggage of faith.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I read the article. First of all, it’s a straw man since many “spiritual” people are not bypassing the practical side of life, so this is only true is extreme cases. Just because someone has a lot of faith and hope doesn’t mean they won’t deal with a situation in a practical and realistic matter. Second, it reeks of a materialist prejudice rather than actual facts. It’s only a “bypass” if there’s no such thing as a spiritual reality (which she cannot prove or disprove). But if there actually is an uplifting spiritual aspect to life, then she doesn’t know what she’s talking about and misleading people. Just because she’s a psychotherapist doesn’t mean she is qualified to deal with metaphysical issues or even understands spirituality.

          Here’s the thing. If she means BEWARE of an actual spiritual bypass, then I agree. I’m all for telling people not to be kooky spiritual or live in denial of their circumstances. But if she implies that all spirituality is just a drug fix or reality bypass, that is stereotypical, unfounded, and prejudicial.

        • jim- says:

          If it’s only true in extreme cases, is the majority of Christianity sidestepping harder realities? It certainly appears so and I do feel like I’ve been cured. What happens when you decide the whole thing is a hoax and you no longer believe, literally it’s like a switch is flipped and for the first time in your life you can see there was nothing to fear. All of my views changed overnight, and the years of mentally whitewashing the doctrine became very clear. The article seems pretty accurate from my observations and from others, nearly all I know had the same experience. Myself, Ben, Kia, and a few screen names come readily to mind. I can’t believe that atheism influenced me in any way to think those things since I never looked into reading about it at all for about three years, then I came up with the blog idea and found others saying the same thing. I know I’m not unique in this and the article is on point with the main point. That’s why I posted it. How can I be having the same reversal patterns as others when I still have yet to read an atheist book? Some of the quotes have caught my eye lately but that’s all.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If it’s only true in extreme cases, is the majority of Christianity sidestepping harder realities? It certainly appears so and I do feel like I’ve been cured.

          Yes, Jim, but I could argue you’ve just traded one denial for another. You think you’ve been freed from religious whitewashing and superstition and rational denial, and now you live by the cold rational reality of what you can test and see in the physical world. But you must do this in total denial of why you exist in the first place; you have no explanation for being and no materialistic answer will ever answer that question for you. That is the false faith of materialists, which why they come up with such crazy fanatical schemes for existence that border on magic thinking. It’s an untenable worldview.

          This is the ontological incoherence I’ve been talking about. And this is not a religious assertion of faith. As Hart says, it’s a cold, hard logical deduction of reasoning. There is no way, ultimately, of accounting for the being of anything at all without a logical reduction to a source that is beyond all contingent qualities. That is a logical fact.

          So, you’re not living any more rationally now than the believer that doesn’t understand philosophy or science. You now have to live in denial of the logic that I’ve been showing for several posts. This is one of many reasons why you will never make the “problem” of God go away. And when you finally admit this, then the rest eventually follows.

          So, no, I don’t think you’re cured.

        • jim- says:

          What you call logic takes an awful lot of hairsplitting whitewash. Jeez Mel, you are the epitome of verbosity and the only one that gets you is a few commenters that nobody else gets either. See, you’re looking beyond the mark. When I realized there was no god, none of the explanation made sense any more. I understand it, but it’s not real. automatically in a variety of topics, my views changed to mine. I was cured, and quite simple observation of the world around me tells me more than the volumes of apologetics I nursed all those years.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You only call it hairsplitting logic because you don’t understand the argument. If you did you never say that.

          You also misinterpret the few commenters on this subject because you guys are the only ones who are so combative and obstinate about it. I think your new found freedom has made you blind to the big elephant in the room.

          You say you live by simple observations yet you deny the implications of the most obvious one, your own continuing existence. Your worldview is quite myopic, actually. No, you’re still in denial I’m afraid.

          My question is, if you’re so cured why are you here commenting so much? If I were cured as you say, I certainly wouldn’t be wasting my time on Christian blog sites.

        • jim- says:

          I don’t know if your still tagging atheism, but that’s when I started following you. It pops up in my reader. I see you failing to convince the simple, the very learned, and those in between. What is obvious to you is in thinking you have answered your own question therefore your right. It is not obvious God is behind my existence or it would not need so much explainin’.

        • Mel Wild says:

          You see me failing to convince the hardened, angry, combative anti-Christians who come here, I’ll give you that. But they hardly represent most of my readers. I do think I’ve proven that people will believe what they want, regardless of the logic and reason. You obviously are not as open as you pretended to be when we first talked. I guess that was a pretext.

          And if you think I’m just answering my own questions then you can show me the mistake in the logic instead of hand-waving it away because you don’t want to understand it. Good night.

        • jim- says:

          And there is no problem of god for me at all. The problem was belief in a system that thwarts human potential by denial of reality. And that cold reality you speak of, is not even a bit frigid. Nothing at all is as it was purported. None of it!

        • Mel Wild says:

          You just said you “realized there was no god” in the other comment. I’m confused. Do you actually know what you believe?

        • jim- says:

          Lol. WP threads can do that. Yes Mel. I think you know where I stand. There is no god. You admitted yourself earlier that your argument is difficult. I’m pretty sure nobody with a day job can keep up. I always thought the gospel was simple, but to cover the inadequacy and fallacy and contradiction of it takes libraries and scholars. Doesn’t sound like a religion for the regular guy anymore. You are way out there buddy, and the farther you go back, the farther you get from coherence.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The gospel is simple to those who believe. A child can understand it. But also confounds the wise. And if you require an explanation then you better not whine about it if it requires you to have to think.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “There is no god”?
          But how do you know that? I think you mean you prefer that there is no god. 😏

        • jim- says:

          I guess we are at a bit of an impasse. Here’s where it appears to break down. With all due respect Mel. All of your arguments are well presented and have a lot of insight. You assume a lot about me but miss the main point. The time in my life I chose to believe in god and block out all the warts of the story, I would’ve sat back and cheered you on. Good job Mel! Get em! But after coming to the realization the whole thing was propped up by men, nothing was as it seemed. I stopped believing in god. I did not intentionally remove myself from the cheering section and get angry, I just see it for what it is, and isn’t. All of your arguments, though painstakingly eloquent, presuppose a god, the Christian god of creation started it all. I understand your argument but but it only makes sense if you buy into a being is at the root of it. Ben, who is very careful and thoughtful made a interesting post a while back about Ken Hamm and Bill Nye. He watched the debate as a Christian, and he gave Ken the overwhelming victory. After a thoughtful and painful deconversion, almost against his will, he watched the debate again, and could not believe what he was seeing. The absolute absurdity of kens positions were very obvious and embarrassing. There are 1000’s of points to cover to maintain faith, but once you see past the psychology and the doctrine and the herd instincts and the imaginations of men, there is no god, just human need for meaning because philosophy created a deeper meaning than there is. Almost a cart before the horse thing. The philosophical arguments don’t even remotely appear compelling anymore. It’s not that we are stubborn or willfully ignorant of your arguments, they don’t make sense when the existence of first cause god is presupposed in all your discussion. When you had the morality segment it was the same thing and you attribute it to god, then try to prove why. Nobody ever gets anywhere like that. The best approach would be to lay out an argument for biological morality, then have your readers defend god through that. Try to prove yourself wrong. If you can, oops, then back to the drawing board. Karl Popper invented the concept falsifiability, and we expect to be challenged and corrected. That is the path to eventually getting it right. Religion can’t use that approach. It has to be propped up and guarded. If it applied falsifiable principle it would crash like The Hindenburg because it’s not based in reality. Otherwise, why are so many families having to guard their children with warnings and isolation from obvious physical truth? More eloquent philosophy and rewording and cover up of the facts, is not a search for truth, it is the proverbial head in the sand, wanting what you BELIEVE to be right, or going with the obvious. I’ll stick to the latter for now. Just remember, things aren’t what they seem, even after they seem like it.

        • Nan says:

          BRAVO Jim!!! And written without tons of “philosophical” and “ontological” words so anyone can read and understand.

        • jim- says:

          Thank you Nan. It’s really quite simple, just as the morality debate is simple…until you throw in the imaginative parts and try to credit a unimaginable god into the mix and dig in your heels. From top to bottom faith denied the obvious. Or am I just hand waving again and dismissing the non evidence of god as being evidence for god. Sheesh. Once one calls off the hoax, it’s like any pyramid scheme that gets exposed. You see it all right away. It’s a system that works though. Why do you think nearly every MLM seller uses tensely identical tactics? Because it works. People want to believe in something bigger, but the again, that is also empirical evidence for god too. Lol. I love wild horses. They are smart and skeptical. “Run like hell and ask questions later”. If people were only that wise when it comes to indoctrination.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, it is quite simple. As long as you don’t care about being coherent or believable it works out great in your non-thinking anti-Christian echo chambers. You can just say vacuous things like “faith denies the obvious” and congratulate each other while denying the most empirically obvious thing of all, your existence. You can just say, we exist and that’s all you need to know, and voila! Otherwise you have to actually have an explanation, but that takes actual thought. 😏

        • jim- says:

          Like a drunk man explaining his whereabouts to his wife late into the morning, Christianity just keeps spiraling with new angles to sustain the whereabouts of god. He could make this a little easier considering the repercussions of missing the boat. Whoever invented the system your in had a keen understanding how to play human nature. We all have echo chambers Mel, but even I have learned from you in the past. If nothing else we can understand each other and work towards a better humanity through friendship. Faith or not, human connection and tolerance and love is the key to sustainable future. I do think it would be a better world if Christians would pretend no savior is coming. At least then we could move to protecting our home from depletion because no one is coming to fix any of this. It’s up to us.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Like a drunk man explaining his whereabouts to his wife late into the morning, Christianity just keeps spiraling with new angles to sustain the whereabouts of god.

          I’ll give you points for the humorous metaphor, but it’s neither a meaningful statement nor is it true. Christians are human beings like anyone else, with limited understanding, even with our interpretation of Scripture. So, it’s not spiraling, rather, we SHOULD keep adapting and improving with the advancement in civilization and culture, and we can do that without denying the central tenets of what we believe.

          We all have echo chambers Mel, but even I have learned from you in the past. If nothing else we can understand each other and work towards a better humanity through friendship. Faith or not, human connection and tolerance and love is the key to sustainable future.

          I actually agree with this statement! I have personal atheist friends who I value and have this kind of relationship with. If the angry anti-Christians would be less combative and listen to what we do have to offer it would be more positive. And I also know that there are Christians who can be just as belligerent. So, it goes both ways.

          I do think it would be a better world if Christians would pretend no savior is coming. At least then we could move to protecting our home from depletion because no one is coming to fix any of this. It’s up to us.

          About pretending that the savior is coming is your opinion, which you’re certainly entitled to have, but you cannot say they’re wrong. But everything else you said here I totally agree with (again!). One of my pet peeves is with the “world’s going to hell in a handbasket” Christians who give up their responsibility for being part of making this world a better place. According to the Bible we say we believe, that was the primary mandate given to humankind from the beginning (Gen.1:26-28) and it was never rescinded. Here is where I think we can work together for positive change.

          See, I agreed with you twice in one comment, Jim.

        • Ben says:

          Thanks for the plug Jim. I’ll be here all week. 🙂

        • jim- says:

          Pretty interesting how many different walks of life, disconnected and never met have the same type of reversal/awakening. And if you’re going to be here all week, I’m might think you’re crazy.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Don’t forget to tip the waitresses. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ben, who is very careful and thoughtful made a interesting post a while back about Ken Hamm and Bill Nye.

          I wouldn’t think much of Ken Hamm or Bill Nye, btw. But I understand your point.

        • john zande says:

          As far as anyone can be sure, we know it because every argument for this invisible, inaudible, evidence-less being fails… Including your prime mover. After all, can you show me an essentially ordered series where each step cannot be reduced to an accidentally ordered series?

          We can empirically demonstrate that change and motion don’t work the way philosophers of antiquity believed they did, which is why the article I drew your attention to yesterday is critical:

          The disputes [over quantum gravity] obscure an important truth: the competing approaches all say space is derived from something deeper—an idea that breaks with 2,500 years of scientific and philosophical understanding.

          Yours is a failed word game, which is why I’ve been ignoring it. The need for some currently operative agent might have appeared somewhat sensible in the 1200,’s, but it simply doesn’t hold today. The universe simply doesn’t behave the way you need it to behave, and nowhere is this flaw most acutely demonstrated than inside black holes (which have a nonzero temperature, meaning they are physical bodies) where physics/spacetime breakdown, all information is irretrievable, and the event is NOT reversible, which your medieval reasoning insists must be the case. Perhaps even more damaging is that physics/spacetime are only half-broken inside the ergosphere. I have no idea what this ultimately means, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it, by itself, renders the fundamentals of the word game you’re appealing to absolutely obsolete.

          And this is before we even begin to talk about particle and field entanglement, retrocausality, and the zero-energy universe.

  3. Gary says:

    I think there is a big difference between “deleting” any claim that disagrees with your word view (such as if you are a liberal and refuse to listen to any conservative views on national defense) and IGNORING very extra-ordinary, out of this world claims.

    Here is a brief analogy: If someone tells you that she saw a red Corvette yesterday, you would probably take her word for it. If someone tells you that that she saw one thousand red Corvettes in a parking lot yesterday, you would probably insist on verifying this claim with the local newspaper or an online news source before believing that a “red Corvette Convention” had taken place in your community yesterday.

    But what if the same person said that she saw a red corvette flying in the sky yesterday with a green Martian at the wheel and after flying around the roofs of a couple of houses, it shot straight up into the air and disappeared into the stratosphere. What evidence would it take for you to believe such a claim?

    I suggest that most people would say that they would have to see this Martian-piloted, flying red Corvette themselves with their own two eyes to believe it. Even if a thousand people claim to have seen this event, I suggest that most people in western cultures today would still not believe this very extra-ordinary claim.

    And this is how we skeptics feel about the very extra-ordinary claims about Jesus. So it isn’t that we automatically hit the “delete” button when we hear these very extra-ordinary claims, it is that we automatically hit the “ignore” button. We hit the “ignore” button until very extra-ordinary evidence is provided for these claims. And I suggest that even most Christians follow this method of evaluating truth claims…EXCEPT…when it comes to their religious beliefs.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yet you exist and have no explanation for your continuing existence. Like arguing about the paint job while ignoring that you have no foundation to your house, so the whole thing collapses on itself. That’s truly extraordinary since this is the most empirical aspect of reality we can ever experience. But you just hand-wave it away as “mind games.” Not too prejudicial and dismissive are you. You engage in what’s called a red herring fallacy. You come here and dismiss the subject you can’t argue and try to change it to what you think you have a strong position for, but it doesn’t work that way. That’s not engaging in honest conversation.

      So there we are, Gary. I and any thinking theist have already hit the ignore button on your vacuous accusations. But we can talk when you actually understand the arguments and want to engage in a conversation instead of just parroting what you’ve read or heard and attacking what you clearly don’t understand.

      You should take your own advice and really challenge your own skeptic claims.

      • Gary says:

        Sorry. I missed your point.

        You are once again assuming that I do not believe in a Creator. This is a false assumption. You are debating me as if I were an atheist who insists that everything came from nothing. This is untrue. Until I am shown otherwise, I doubt, based on how our universe seems to operate, that the universe just popped into existence on its own. So, I believe that it is very, very possible, and even probable, that an intelligent Creator of some sort exists. So how did I get here? Answer: A Creator caused the Big Bang which start a long process of chemical reactions, eventually giving rise to what we see today.

        That is my explanation for my existence.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I didn’t say you didn’t concede a creator. I said you have no explanation for your continuing existence. I don’t really care if there was a big bang or any other event like that in the past. That’s not the point of the argument.

          This is why you shouldn’t just dismiss 2,000 + years of classical theistic philosophy as mind games. Understanding this is germane to understanding everything else in the discussion here.

      • Nan says:

        Yet you exist and have no explanation for your continuing existence.

        Mel, you have written this statement (or something similar) innumerable times. I can’t help but wonder what point you’re trying to make because YOU have no explanation any more than anyone else. You may have an answer that satisfies you, but when push comes to shove, none of us has all the answers … so why continue to press the issue?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nan, this is why this is so frustrating for me. Yes, we DO have a logically deductive argument that points to a motive force that MUST necessarily exist beyond the material world if we are going to explain our own existence. This argument uses deductive reasoning, which means the conclusion is iron-clad if the premises are true. And the premises of this argument are taken empirically from our everyday experience.

          And it has nothing whatsoever to do with having all the answers. Of course, none of us knows everything. No one is claiming that. But we CAN know some things, and this particular thing is based on simple logic. And if we’re just going to deny logic and reason then we might as well throw out a whole lot of things we believe about science, mathematics, and physics and sink into a state of utter confusion and chaos. You can’t have it both ways.

          I just wish you guys would try to understand the argument before you just dismiss it and keep making these irrelevant points. It would save me a lot of time having to say the same thing over and over again. 🙂

        • Nan says:

          But for many who contribute to your blog, they’re NOT making “irrelevant points.” It may seem that way to you because your worldview is so much different than theirs. But as I indicated in my previous comment, no one has all the answers so why constantly downplay other perspectives?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, but you were asking why I keep bringing up that you have no explanation for your own existence, which is specifically an ontological question. I was answering why I have to keep bringing this up. It was never about having all the answers in the world. But, with regard to the ontological question, their arguments have been vastly irrelevant and incoherent. So, it’s in this particular regard that I downplay their perspective.

        • KIA says:

          Nan, Mel’s point.. and that of virtually every dishonest apologist… is that if there is something you don’t currently know, then the biblical God is the easiest and ‘most reasonable’ plug in answer to your Ignorance.
          Unless you know all and can explain all… Then the biblical God wins by default.
          Mel’s reasoning… Wrong of course… But that is it in a nut shell.

        • Mel Wild says:

          It’s ironic how you just “plug in” the dismissive label “dishonest apologist” when you don’t have anything coherent to say. You need a new script.

        • KIA says:

          Hi Mel. Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday. Happy mother’s day to your mom and your wife.

        • KIA says:

          It’s ironic that when you want to dismiss what I’ve said that you call it incoherent, yet also dismiss the coherent criticisms of the other commenters on your posts.
          Make one wonder if you are able to even recognize the difference between coherence and incoherence unless it agrees with your views. Then of course, even the most incoherent babbling, such as from color storm or John Branyan is ‘coherent’ and fully reasonable. But alas, this is not a conversation. It’s a comment on a blog that I have no false notions will change your thinking or position, and will most likely only result in an insecure defensive response from you squawking how incoherent it is.
          Have a great day.

        • Mel Wild says:

          KIA, I’m not dismissing all comments as incoherent, I’m specifically referring to the ontological argument that Nan was referring to. The non-theist position is incoherent, as I demonstrated logically in posts on classical theism. It’s like saying 2 +2 equals 5 is incoherent. But, unlike every anti-Christian that’s come here so far, John Branyan does understand the argument. So, why would I say his argument is incoherent? It’s not. It’s based on deductive logic.

          I don’t just throw out labels because people disagree with me. I use the term when it applies and give the reason for it, unlike all the vitriol that get thrown at me all the time. So, I don’t think I’m the one who’s being insecure here.

  4. Gary says:

    So you are saying that unless one understands classical theistic philosophy one cannot make judgments regarding the probability of events; that without an understanding of classical theistic philosophy, one must believe all claims of truth are equally probable???

    That seems at odds with reality.

    I would suggest that our culture finds it perfectly rational and perfectly acceptable for one who knows nothing about ANY branch of philosophy to make a judgment of probability regarding truth claims.

    If a farmer in Appalachia with a sixth grade education refuses to believe our Martian-operated flying red Corvette story without seeing this event himself, I would say that most people in our culture would find that decision perfectly rational and reasonable, regardless of the man’s knowledge of classical theistic philosophy.

    So what is the problem? It seems you are setting a standard for what is reasonable and rational which is far above what is found in our culture at large. I am not claiming that I can prove that a Martian did not fly a red Corvette vertically into the stratosphere, I am only saying that most people in our society would demand very, very extra-ordinary evidence to believe this claim.

    And, just as it would be silly and irrational to tell the Appalachian farmer that he cannot make a probability judgment regarding Martian-operated flying red Corvettes, I would say that most people in our society would find it equally unreasonable for anyone to insist that I prove why it is that I continue to exist before I am allowed to make a probability judgment regarding the reanimation/resurrection of a first century corpse.

    Your standard for granting one the ability to make judgments of probability is unreasonable, irrational, and irrelevant to the discussion.

    • Mel Wild says:

      My standard is too high for the common culture? I suppose so, but my point is, my logic for Christ is founded on these arguments. And most people don’t need proof for what they belief.

      But your Ehrman-like “extraordinary claim” argument is also bogus and beyond the cultural norm. It reeks of deeply held materialist and naturalist prejudice. It’s based on Hume’s circular reasoning, as I have pointed out to you already. I don’t want to go over that again.

      And you are just giving irrational and fallacious examples. The Martian and flying Corvettes are natural things that would be seen in the physical world, whereas no one is saying that you will find God or Christ anywhere in the physical world or by scientific method. That is a fallacious argument, a category error. And since you deny the historicity of Christ based on arguable data and your naturalist prejudice, you dismiss the rest, but the “rest” is founded on the philosophical foundations I have talked about where we can intelligently talk about things beyond the natural realm. And this, in addition to the intangible evidence in millions of Christian’s lives. You are simply denying all these things by your faith in naturalism.

      So, no, it doesn’t matter if you accept what most people just intuitively understand about God in general, and their faith in Christianity, but YES, it does matter if you’re going to come here and make your vacuous accusations based on ignorance, absurdities, prejudice, or the intellectual argumentation of the likes of Ehrman and others. That’s hardly for common folk.

      Anyway, good luck with that. I think this conversation has run its course.

      • Gary says:

        You claim that eyewitnesses saw a reanimated and transformed dead body. In my analogy, someone claimed to see a Martian-operated flying corvette, Both claims defy the laws of nature. The common man or woman should be able to make probability judgments about both of these claims.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, but we can defy the laws of nature in this world by counteracting them with a more powerful force. We do this all the time when a plane takes off of the ground. So, no one is saying that these things were done through the regularities of natural law, but by an intervention or suspending of natural law. And since the arguments that you refuse to understand necessarily and logically point us to a motive force that must exist outside of the material world, your point is still bogus. If you actually concede an immaterial and infinite God, then God could logically raise Jesus from the dead.

          In addition, there is no way you can disprove a singular historical event that happened 2,000 years ago, that not only transformed the eye-witnesses lives at the time (even defending what they claimed to their deaths), and has had a major influence on the world we live in since, but your only valid argument is that you don’t believe in miracles (which can be shown to be circular). This is simple naturalist prejudice, which you don’t have the luxury to rest your case on in light of the implications of the ontological arguments I’ve given. So, we’re back to the beginning of this discussion. That’s why it’s pointless for me to go on discussing this with you. You’re not interested in understanding, only arguing your ideology and spreading your poisonous anti-Christian vitriol.

        • KIA says:

          The physics of machine flight are still the same physics that govern the natural world. Mel, your argument of a “greater force” in operation for the resurrection or any other supernatural happening is not the same at all. Again, you’re making a false equivalency whether you know it or not.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, it’s not a perfect analogy but it’s not a false equivalency either. You just don’t believe that because of your prejudice against miracles, not because regularities of natural law can be affected.

          If the regular forces of nature are interfered with or overpowered by a greater force, it’s the same thing as God raising Jesus from the dead, just in a much greater degree of power. The laws of biology and physics aren’t violated at all, they are just interfered with and superseded, just like jet propulsion can supersede the law of gravity.

          The point is, tons of metal will never lift itself off the ground or overcome the law gravity unless a greater force (Jet propulsion) is applied to it. That is a natural intervention of a more powerful mechanical force acting upon another, not a violation of natural law. Likewise, a human body will never come back to life unless a greater supernatural force (the maker and sustainer of life) acts upon it and causes it to come back to life again. This is not a violation either, just a supersession. The only reason you cannot accept this is because you’re a materialist, not because it’s not possible.

  5. john zande says:

    As I pointed out to Consol, there seems to be some skewed numbers in the sample. Very few respondents from the more populated northeast and west, huge numbers from the religious south: the bible belt. The overwhelming majority of anti-theists, which you draw attention to, were recorded in the south, which makes perfect sense in the US theatre as that is the concentration of fundamentalist (politically active) evangelicals. One would only expect a large re-action to the radicalised world around them. I guess that played into the “anger” thing, which, again, is greatest in this group

    Just saying you have to take into account the story behind the numbers, especially the point that it’s limited to the US, and further skewed dramatically to southern (bible belt) respondents whose religious experience is going to vastly different to that of someone from, say, New England or Washington state. I didn’t see an age break down, but given the medium I’d hazard to say most respondents were 18-35, therefore more likely to be socially active.

    The stunning display of hypocrisy being demonstrated by evangelicals is truly breathtaking. 80% of evangelicals voted for Roy Moore, a child molester. 83% of evangelicals voted for Trump: the least “Christ-like” man on the planet… and his support is holding steady. It’s really no wonder why 260,000 evangelical young people walk away from evangelical Christianity each year (John S. Dickerson, The Great Evangelical Recession, p. 26). Add into this mix the level of hatred (as displayed to minorities), anti-science nonsense, etc. and there’s going to be a LOT of very real anger. Blowback, I think the term is.

    That’s not the experience in, say, Australia. There is no fundamentalist religious right wing. Religion is a very private affair. There are Catholics and there are Protestants (Church of England). Everything’s quite normal, and quiet. We recently had our first openly atheist Prime Minister, and you want to know how much was said about that in the build up to her election? Zero words spoken. Wasn’t raised once, and that’s the way it should be.

    The American experience is quite unique in the western world. It’s more akin to Islamic theocracies, and when a pendulum swings that far it can’t help but swing back.

    • Mel Wild says:

      That’s an assumption. While it certainly can be true in the Bible belt, you and Ark and a few others that have come here are some of the most combative and dogmatic anti-Christian fundamentalists I’ve ever talked to and you’re not from the US. Besides, you are just stereotyping the US, taking the worst examples of people who call themselves Christians and creating a straw man. And some of the most belligerent forms of the New Atheism came from the UK and other parts outside the US.

  6. john zande says:

    As per your post, you’re doing nothing but playing victim. It is you, Mel, who refuses to bring your antiquated arguments into the 21st century. I already explained this to you: your reasoning (for a prime mover) is hopelessly flawed.

    In the 13th Century it appeared reasonable. It doesn’t in 2018.

    1) It starts with a MASSIVE presupposition of an artificial universe.
    2) It commits the Fallacy of Composition (what’s true for a member of a group is not necessarily true for the group as a whole).
    3) The argument rests entirely on the behaviour of matter. Matter (the baryonic stuff your argument depends on) makes up just 4.6% of this universe.
    4) It rests entirely on one-directional, time-dependent chain causation (cause followed by effect). Quantum entanglement proves causes and effect can occur simultaneously.
    5) Particles are not the only thing entangled. We now know that even in a vacuum, with no particles around, the electromagnetic and other fields are internally entangled.
    6) Retrocausality has been demonstrated, most recently by Andrew Truscott at ANU. This demonstrates that at a subatomic level, time can go backwards. Cause and effect are reversed. In the experiments, the future caused the past. The arrow of time worked in reverse.
    7) Black holes. The physics of this universe not only break down completely beyond the event horizon of black holes (physical bodies in this universe), but inside the ergosphere (which still interacts with ordinary spacetime) space and time are half-broken.
    8) Zero-energy universe. A gravitational field has negative energy. Matter has positive energy. Calculations reveal that the sum total of both is zero. What this means is that there was never “nothing, ” which is what the likes of Krauss are talking about when they say “a universe from nothing.” “Nothing” is an imaginary state. It never existed. It can’t exist because “nothing” is unstable and therefore already in motion… meaning no need whatsoever for some external “prime mover.” As Sean Carroll said:

    “So the universe exists, and we know of no good reason to be surprised by that fact.”

    Simply put, the deductive’ tools’ used in the argument are hopelessly antiquated.

    So, if the deductive tools are flawed (rooted as they are in disastrously obsolete MEDIEVAL notions of time, space, matter, and causation) then so too is the reasoning, and if the reasoning is flawed then so is the conclusion.

    As said in an article published in Nature today, “What is Spacetime?”

    The disputes [over quantum gravity] obscure an important truth: the competing approaches all say space is derived from something deeper—an idea that breaks with 2,500 years of scientific and philosophical understanding.

    You see, the science and philosophy you are using is no-longer valid.

    • Mel Wild says:

      As per your post, you’re doing nothing but playing victim. It is you, Mel, who refuses to bring your antiquated arguments into the 21st century. I already explained this to you: your reasoning (for a prime mover) is hopelessly flawed.

      LOL! And I can always count on you to make eight absolutely irrelevant and useless points that you don’t understand against an argument you clearly don’t understand but you foolishly mock. The hubris is absolutely stunning. But carry on. You make my point beautifully.

      You see, science, no matter how advanced it is, can not make up for incoherence.

      • john zande says:

        Yes or no:

        Do you get to your conclusion through deductive reasoning?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you have a problem with deductive reasoning?

        • john zande says:

          I asked you a question, Mel.

          Yes or no:

          Do you get to your conclusion (a prime mover) through deductive reasoning?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m not going to play your games, Zande. You still have not demonstrated that you understand the argument.

        • john zande says:

          I’ll take that as definitive “Yes.”

          And those brief 8 points demonstrate that your deductive tools (rooted in MEDIEVAL notions of time, space, matter, and causation) are disastrously obsolete.

          Your reasoning for a prime mover belongs in the 13th Century, Mel. It is meaningless today.

          Pointing that out is not “mocking.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, John, it only points out that you have no understanding of the argument.

        • john zande says:

          OK Mel, if that makes you feel better.

        • John Branyan says:

          Science still conforms to the laws of thermodynamics and entropy.
          Zande doesn’t care for that stuff. He prefers the magic of black holes and zero-gravity universes. He’s a Renaissance man.

        • john zande says:

          Indeed, entanglement (particles and fields) and retrocausality do not violate the second law of thermodynamics.

          In case you didn’t realise, John, that’s a huge problem for you. It’s just another demonstration of how disastrously obsolete the deductive tools are that you’re using to get to your conclusion.

          Unknown (naturally) to medieval minds, black holes (and the ergosphere where space and time are half-broken yet still interacting with ordinary spacetime) are an even bigger problem.

        • John Branyan says:

          The eternal creator of the universe will survive the discoveries of science.

          You have no more insight about black holes than medieval minds. You’re a stubborn fundamentalist. Nothing more.

        • Mel Wild says:

          In case you didn’t realise, John, that’s a huge problem for you.It’s just another demonstration of how disastrously obsolete the deductive tools are that you’re using to get to your conclusion.

          In case you didn’t realize, John Z, which you obviously don’t, no advancement in our understanding of the cosmos–time and space, quantum gravity, inflation, dark matter–is going to change the “deductive tools” we’re using. Your “unknown to medieval minds” argument is totally irrelevant. As long as it’s something in motion (can change states from potential to actual) it is not self-existent and still requires an outside motive force. And, besides, appealing to your anything-but-God “dark matter of the gaps” argument, which is something you know absolutely nothing about, doesn’t work either. It just makes you sound dogmatically obtuse and obstinate.

        • John Branyan says:

          Apparently, JZ believes logic and reason weren’t available to our Medieval ancestors. Thinking is a recent invention of atheists and only they know how to do it.

          I hope he doesn’t paste another million words into this thread. That’ll frighten me to death!

        • john zande says:

          Unless you have actual evidence to support your claims (which you don’t), your conclusion is meaningless if the deductive path you are taking to get to that conclusion is demonstrably fallacious.

          I’m sorry, but the deductive path you are taking to get to your conclusion *is* demonstrably fallacious.

          The reasoning you are employing to get to your conclusion is called, amongst other things, the first cause argument. Its entire rationale is based on a past event being responsible for a present/future event (the effect). This why you have screamed “can’t have an infinite regress!” Retrocausality (which has been demonstrated in experimentation) ruins this rigid chain which you are entirely dependent on being true and unbreakable. A *future* event caused the *past.* The fundamental base of your argument—the logic at its very core—has been rendered obsolete. And this is before we even talk about the zero-energy universe, and black holes that demonstrate the physics you are appealing to is not absolute, rather breakable.

          I know you understand this. You’re not stupid. Far from it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          John Z, the more you talk the more you show how profoundly you missed the whole point. I’m not kidding. You don’t actually get it. You keep talking about past and future like that has anything to do with the argument. It has NOTHING to do with the past or time at all! You are talking about what’s technically called “accidentally ordered” causation (which you can have infinite regress), NOT essentially ordered causation. They are two completely different concepts. Whenever you use the word “past” or “future” in a sentence you are automatically NOT talking about the classical argument from motion or essence.

          So, please, stop. You’re only embarrassing yourself here. Actually learn the argument before you stick your foot in it any further.

        • john zande says:

          And you, Mel, are talking about a universe that exists ONLY in your imagination.

          I, however, am talking about the ACTUAL universe, and that ACTUAL universe, Mel, doesn’t play by the rules you want (need) it to play by, thereby rendering your deductive tools disastrously obsolete.

          That, Mel, is the point.

    • John Branyan says:

      Congrats!
      Your cut and paste is working flawlessly!

  7. Jeff says:

    Mel you have the patience of Job. Is the not understanding and it seems they prove your point in some of the comments they make or is it just being obtuse because pride will not let them be another way?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Jeff, it’s probably a little bit of both but why should I interrupt them when they make my points beautifully every time they comment.

      • john zande says:

        And you can certainly persist in getting to your conclusion by using disastrously obsolete deductive tools rooted in MEDIEVAL notions of time, space, matter, and causation.

        That’s your choice.

        Just don’t claim you’re being honest.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Jeff, case in point here. John Z calls anyone who disagrees with him dishonest and a whole host of other labels. But it doesn’t stop him from making irrelevant statements about things he clearly doesn’t understand.

        • john zande says:

          Your “dishonesty” is realised in blindly dismissing contemporary information which radically alters the validity of your argument.

          If you actually attempted to present the argument with this information (which you know exists), as opposed to using only disastrously obsolete information rooted in MEDIEVAL notions of time, space, matter, and causation, then you would be honest.

          It’s your choice. There’s no point in getting angry at me for pointing this out.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Im dishonest? Coming from you that means absolutely nothing. Just a label you throw at people you’re trying to dismiss. But what’s foolish is that you blindly argue against something you clearly know nothing about. The hubris is stunning.

        • john zande says:

          Right, no one’s ever heard of the cosmological argument, Mel.

          No one. Ever.

  8. Gary says:

    Even if we agree that the supernatural exists;
    even if we agree that the universe was created by a supernatural Creator;
    even if we agree that the supernatural Creator performs supernatural acts in our universe from time to time, that in no way makes it more probable that a small group of first century peasants (and one rabbi) really did see a reanimated/transformed (resurrected) corpse than that they were mistaken.

    Miracles are not everyday, ordinary events or they would’n’t be called “miraculous” (miracles). Even if one reads the Bible, miracles have only happened rarely, sporadically in human history.

    Yes, a supernatural Creator can perform a miracle at any time and in any place, therefore throwing all probabilities out the window for that miraculous event. But we can only use that perspective of probability if the event has been confirmed to have been a miracle! In the case of the alleged Resurrection of Jesus, that is the very issue in question! We are not debating the POSSIBILITY of a miracle, we are discussing the probability that the early Christians THOUGHT that they saw a risen Jesus, but did not. They were mistaken. Being mistaken is not a supernatural event, but a common, everyday occurrence with humans. Being mistaken conforms to “natural” probability theories. So, we are NOT debating: Could a miracle have occurred, but, was the early Christian belief that Jesus had been resurrected based on a miracle or based on a misperception? Misperceptions are frequent ordinary events; they are not supernatural events; they are not miracles; therefore they conform to “natural” probability estimates.

    I believe that the ONLY way that the Christian explanation for the alleged resurrected Jesus sightings is more probable than that the “eyewitnesses” were mistaken, is if one assumes that the CHRISTIAN god is the Creator, and, that Old Testament contains multiple, extremely accurate prophesies which predict the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

    If one makes these unproven assumptions, you have stacked the deck so that you cannot lose the debate!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Even if we agree that the supernatural exists;
      even if we agree that the universe was created by a supernatural Creator;
      even if we agree that the supernatural Creator performs supernatural acts in our universe from time to time….

      Then you have no argument at all, Gary. If you concede all these things you have a lost cause. Because, as former atheist Antony Flew said, “The evidence for the resurrection is better than any other for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity…”

      And we’ve already been through all the conspiracy theories, hallucination theories, and mythic theories, along with all the other arguments before in my posts about the resurrection. They don’t hold water.

      If you believe a miracle can happen the case is actually very strong for the resurrection. Richard Bauckham put out a scholarly work on eyewitness testimony in the New Testament last year titled, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.” Eric Chabot posted an article titled, “Handling an Objection: We Can’t Trust Eyewitness Testimony” that references this book along with lots of other great references.

      The point is, the textual criticism and historicity of the likes of Ehrman et all over last few decades is losing ground and increasingly found wanting. The only viable argument you have is that miracles are impossible. Hume knew that over 250 years ago.

      • Gary says:

        Now we are getting somewhere, Mel.

        I am not arguing for the improbability of a miracle, but for the PROBABILITY that a human being can make a mistake; that a human being can mistake an ordinary event for a supernatural event. How many times in human history has a human being believed that a supernatural event has occurred, when it didn’t; it was just an ordinary event that was misperceived as supernatural. Take the alleged Virgin Mary appearances: How many of these alleged appearances have been real appearances by Jesus’ two thousand year old dead mother and how many have been misperceptions of reality due to religious hysteria?

        I am not questioning the possibility nor the probability that the Creator can perform supernatural acts in which he allows the dead mother of Jesus to appear to devout Catholic Christians, what I am questioning is the probability that these devout Catholics are wrong; though they sincerely believe that the mother of Jesus has appeared to them, their experiences are ordinary circumstances that were perceived, incorrectly, as supernatural events?

        How often due human beings make mistakes in interpreting reality? Answer: A lot!

        So what are the chances that the disciples of Jesus misinterpreted their environment and sincerely, but mistakenly, thought that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to them when in fact he had not?

        Now, here is a key question that I ask you to seriously consider: How certain are we that the Gospels contain eyewitness accounts of the alleged appearances of Jesus? Well, if you read Richard Bauckham’s book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, which I have, you will read Bauckham state very clearly that the majority scholarly opinion is that the Gospels were NOT written by eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses. He disagrees with this majority opinion, but he admits that it exists.

        And what is the reason that Bauckham (and most other conservative Christian scholars) give for why the majority of scholars doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels? Answer: “The majority of scholars are liberals who do not believe in the supernatural!”

        But this is a false claim, and here is why: First, the majority of NT scholars are Christians, which by definition means that they believe at least some aspects of the supernatural. But second, and very importantly, there is one very large group of NT scholars who very definitely believe in the supernatural, and who very much believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus…yet…they do NOT believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses: Who are they? Answer: Most Roman Catholic scholars!

        The only scholars today who believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts are a small minority of scholars, consisting almost exclusively of fundamentalist and very conservative PROTESTANT scholars.

        So the truth is, the reason that the majority of scholars doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels has nothing to do with the supernatural…but with the EVIDENCE!

        Now, back to the probability that the disciples of Jesus misperceived the alleged “appearances” of the resurrected Jesus: If the Gospels are not eyewitness accounts, which even miracle-believing Roman Catholic scholars, along with the majority of all scholars believe, how possible is it that the original appearance claims regarding Jesus…were no different from the appearance claims that occur even today for the Virgin Mary: cloud formations, shadows, etc.???

        • Gary says:

          From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

          “The questions of authorship, sources, and the time of composition of this gospel [Matthew] have received many answers, none of which can claim more than a greater or lesser degree of probability. The one now favored by the majority of scholars is the following. The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus named Matthew (see Mt 10:3) is untenable because the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark (almost all the verses of that gospel have been utilized in this), and it is hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories. The attribution of the gospel to the disciple Matthew may have been due to his having been responsible for some of the traditions found in it, but that is far from certain.” –from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

          And from “About Catholics”, a Roman Catholic website:

          “They [the Gospels] were anonymously written. In fact, most scholars today do not believe that the evangelists were eyewitnesses for the simple reason that their chronology of events and theological interpretations are different. The titles of the gospels were added in the second century and very well could designate the authority behind the finished gospel or the one who wrote one of the main sources of the gospel. The [Roman Catholic] Church takes no official stance on their authorship. It is important to understand that the Church by its authority and the guidance of the Holy Spirit canonized these four gospels over many others that were circulated and read in the early centuries.”

          Respected Anglican New Testament scholar NT Wright, a favorite of many evangelical Christians due to his passionate belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, has said, “I don’t know who the authors of the Gospels were, nor does anyone else.”

          So, it isn’t just liberal and atheist scholars who doubt or question the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. It seems to be practically all scholars except fundamentalist and conservative Protestant scholars! Those are the facts, Mel.

        • John Branyan says:

          We get it, Gary.
          You doubt Christianity.
          Yet you’re not an atheist.
          Do you have the stones to tell us what you actually believe?

        • Mel Wild says:

          All Gary wants to do John B is preach his poisonous anti-Christian vitriol wherever he is allowed. He’s an evangelist of the bad news, apparently. I guess no one told him these arguments aren’t new or interesting.

        • John Branyan says:

          It’s nice that he can finally paste in quotes from his now-defunct blog though.

  9. Gary says:

    Mel: “The point is, the textual criticism and historicity of the likes of Ehrman et all over last few decades is losing ground and increasingly found wanting. The only viable argument you have is that miracles are impossible. Hume knew that over 250 years ago.”

    Gary: Not true, Mel. I have two very viable arguments which you really should address.

    1. What is the probability that humans are mistaken; that they believe a miraculous event has occurred when one has not?
    2. The overwhelming majority of modern scholars do not believe that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses.
    3. The claim by conservative Christian apologists that the majority of scholars are biased against the supernatural fails: Most Roman Catholic scholars agree with the majority of scholars on the question of the authorship of the Gospels. Roman Catholic scholars very much believe in the supernatural.

    Listen to conservative scholar Richard Bauckham:

    “The argument of this book [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses]–that the texts of our Gospels are close to the eyewitness reports of the words and deeds of Jesus–runs counter to almost all recent scholarship. As we have indicated from time to time, the prevalent view is that a long period of oral transmission in the churches intervened between whatever the eyewitnesses said and the Jesus traditions as they reached the Evangelists [the authors of the Gospels]. No doubt the eyewitnesses started the process of oral tradition, but it passed through many retellings, reformulations, and expansions before the Evangelists themselves did their own editorial work on it.” p. 240 —conservative NT scholar, Richard Bauckham

    • John Branyan says:

      I’m happy to address all three of your ‘viable’ arguments:

      1. What is the probability that humans are mistaken; that they believe a miraculous event has occurred when one has not?
      That is not an argument.

      2. The overwhelming majority of modern scholars do not believe that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses.
      I don’t think this is true. I will need to see data that supports this.

      3. The claim by conservative Christian apologists that the majority of scholars are biased against the supernatural fails: Most Roman Catholic scholars agree with the majority of scholars on the question of the authorship of the Gospels. Roman Catholic scholars very much believe in the supernatural.
      Who is claiming the majority of scholars are biased against the supernatural? This seems vague and contrived.

      • Gary says:

        Scholar NT Wright, a favorite scholar of many evangelicals, who every much believes in the supernatural and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, states that neither he nor anyone else knows who the authors of the Gospels were:

      • Gary says:

        Mark Pierson, Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Concordia University, Irvine (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod), co-author of “Making the Case for Christianity”: “The current consensus in the academy [of NT scholars]…suggests that only those who shut their eyes and ears to the facts can maintain traditional beliefs about Jesus.”

        Gary: This conservative Christian author from a very conservative Protestant denomination confirms that the majority of scholars do not believe that the facts support the traditional beliefs about Jesus.

      • Gary says:

        Gary Greenberg, Biblical historian:

        Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the Gospels says biblical historian Gary Greenberg in his latest book, Who Wrote the Gospels? Why New Testament Scholars Challenge Church Traditions. At least, not the Matthew, Mark, Luke or John of Church tradition, he adds. Controversial as this view is, he notes that it is widely accepted among New Testament scholars. Yet few members of the lay public know about this modern scholarly consensus, let alone why scholars hold these views.

      • Gary says:

        Branyan: “Who is claiming the majority of scholars are biased against the supernatural?”

        Here is a comment by conservative Christian apologist and author J. Warner Wallace:

        “The majority of historical scholars accept the historicity of the New Testament Gospels, in so far as they describe the life and teaching of Jesus and the condition of the first century environment in which Jesus lived and ministered. But many of these same historians simultaneously reject the historicity of any of the miracles described in the New Testament, in spite of the fact that these miracles are described alongside the events that scholars accept as historical. Why do they accept some events and reject others? Because they have a presuppositional bias against the supernatural.”

      • Gary says:

        Branyan: “I will need to see data that supports this [that the majority of scholars do not believe that eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels].

        Gary: I have given you several quotes/sources which support my claim. That is the “data” you requested to see, John.

        • John Branyan says:

          3 quotes from people does not make up the majority of Scholars.
          And are you just now learning that the authors of the New Testament are unknown? I’ve known that since I was a kid. I learned it in Sunday School.

      • Gary says:

        Mel, would you kindly address these three issues. The readers of my blog are following this discussion and have told me they are very interested in how you would respond to these three issues.

    • John Branyan says:

      Also…here’s a fun little quote from Richard Bauckham’s book (it appears on page 240 right after the place where you ended your quote):

      “Scholars differ widely as to how conservative or creative the tradition was, and so on the extent to which the contents of the Gospels reliably preserve what Jesus actually said and did. It would be misleading to suggest that this view of the transmission of Jesus traditions in the early church necessarily leads to historical skepticism about the reliability of the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, Bauckham is citing the abysmal state of modern textual criticism. Overly-educated doubters second-guessing the authenticity of events they are 2,000 years removed from. But neither Bauckham nor Wright has reason to doubt that the resurrection happened.

      • Gary says:

        How do you explain the fact, Mel, that most Roman Catholics scholars, who have no bias against the supernatural or the bodily resurrection of Jesus, do not believe that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels?

  10. Gary says:

    Typo: THREE very viable arguments…

  11. Gary says:

    Mel, I fully agree with you. If a miracle happened, we cannot discuss probability as the supernatural is not constrained by the laws of probability. But how probable is it that the disciples were mistaken; they mistook something in reality (a shadow, cloud formation, bright light, etc..) as a supernatural event when it was not?

    • Mel Wild says:

      How probable that the disciples were mistaken is not the point. The point is, was their testimony reliable. Again, your hallucination theory (among the others given) that 500 people only saw shadows in different places over a 40 day period is not new nor is it viable for many reasons that were discussed here a while ago when we were actually talking about the resurrection. The only reason one would believe the hallucination theory is because they don’t want to believe the alternative.

      • Gary says:

        How do you know their testimony was reliable when we can’t even be sure what their testimony was? That is my entire point.

        If the Gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses in lands far away from Palestine, as even most Roman Catholic scholars believe, how can we have confidence in ANY of the detailed appearance claims as described in the Matthew, Luke, and John? For all we know, a few of the disciples of Jesus claimed that Jesus appeared to them…in the form of a bright light, similar to how the author of Acts describes Paul’s alleged experience.

        Then, after these initial appearance claims to individuals arose, groups of Jesus’ followers started “seeing” Jesus…in bright lights, cloud formations, etc.. Groups of Christians today claim to see the Virgin Mary in cloud formations so why couldn’t this be the explanation for groups of early Christians claiming to see the resurrected Jesus?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Nice straw man, Gary. Please don’t waste our time with this stuff.

        • Mel Wild says:

          If the Gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses in lands far away from Palestine, as even most Roman Catholic scholars believe, how can we have confidence in ANY of the detailed appearance claims as described in the Matthew, Luke, and John?

          Gary, this is getting old. We don’t need your ridiculous conspiracy-theory historiography. Bible scholars can be just as wrong as anyone else when they get into their wild speculations. Believe whatever kooky thing you want.

  12. Gary says:

    Why are you afraid to answer the question: How do you know their testimony was reliable when we can’t even be sure what their testimony was since the majority of experts do not believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Gary, it’s a stupid question. Come back when you have something interesting to say.

      • Gary says:

        No, it’s not stupid, it’s just a question you don’t want to answer. Why? Because you see where it will lead you: into a corner. You will have to admit that the evidence for the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is weak, and without the Gospels as eyewitness primary source documents, your case for the Resurrection collapses into nothing but hearsay.

  13. Gary says:

    “Bible scholars can be just as wrong as anyone else when they get into their wild speculations. Believe whatever kooky thing you want.”

    I believe in majority expert opinion. Educated people in our society would call that intelligent, not “kooky”.

    It is interesting that you quote scholars (Richard Bauckham) when you believe that it helps your argument, but reject majority scholarly opinion when it disagrees with your views. That smells of fundamentalism.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I believe in majority expert opinion. Educated people in our society would call that intelligent, not “kooky”.

      Well, the majority has been profoundly wrong about many things throughout human history. So why should we have blind faith in them here? And you’re just making dismissive sweeping generalities. The “expert” opinion depends on which discipline we’re talking about and how it’s applied. For instance, Ehrman is a brilliant textual scholar but he’s no theologian. And about 40% of Bible scholars are either agnostic or atheist or of some religion other than Christianity. How would they understand the spiritual nature of Scripture properly? (1 Cor.2:13-14). Also, as theologian Walter Wink has stated, the state of modern historical criticism is bankrupt and needs a serious overhaul. The idea of disinterested observation or unbiased analysis that we thought was possible in the 18th century is pretty much been shown to be a pipedream and has largely been debunked.

      So, why should I believe so-called experts, who have questionable motives and are 2,000 years removed from the events, more than those who lived during the time (and those who died for what they witnessed firsthand), along with all the “experts” for several centuries following? Not only are your experts not in the best place to make the best judgment, they could be just as selective at editing and engaging in history revisionism as anyone else because of their bias. That doesn’t mean they don’t have important value to us, but we shouldn’t just trust them without a healthy degree of skepticism for the reasons I mentioned.

      And we can call things kooky if it is kooky, like when Dennett says that our brain is only fooling us about consciousness or the magical thinking required for panpsychism, and a whole host of other kooky things I could cite.

      It is interesting that you quote scholars (Richard Bauckham) when you believe that it helps your argument, but reject majority scholarly opinion when it disagrees with your views. That smells of fundamentalism.

      It’s interesting that you only quote scholars and statistics that agree with your views. That smells of fundamentalism.

      • Gary says:

        Wrong. I was originally very skeptical of the claim that the majority of scholars believe in the historicity of the Empty Tomb, but due to Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown’s work I have become convinced that the majority of scholars is correct: there was an empty tomb and there very probably was a Joseph of Arimathea. That is what people who seek the truth, regardless of what that truth might be, do: They accept evidence and accept majority scholarly opinion.

        You, on the other hand, continue to pick and choose when to agree with scholars. You are suspicious of the experts and concoct all kinds of conspiracy theories about why the experts don’t agree with your views. But these are the very same scholars who believe that there is sufficient evidence to dismiss the claim of mythicists that Jesus never existed.

        You are inferring that the majority of scholars are biased against the supernatural and the Christian god when I have shown you hard evidence that this is false. The majority of scholars are Christians and a large section of scholars are Roman Catholics who very much believe in the supernatural, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus! Please explain to me why the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars believe that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses if they are not biased against the supernatural. You can’t. Your argument fails. It is not a bias against the supernatural that causes the majority of Bible scholars to doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, it is EVIDENCE!

        Suspicion of experts is the hallmark of fundamentalism.

  14. Gary says:

    You didn’t answer my question: Why do the majority of Roman Catholic scholars reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels if they very much believe in the supernatural, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

  15. Gary says:

    You see, Mel. without the eyewitness status of the Gospels, the strength of your claim for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus collapses. And without good evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the strength of your claim that Jesus is the Creator collapses. And without good evidence that Jesus is the Creator, the strength your claim that Christianity is the ultimate source of truth about our universe collapses.

    That is why you cling so desperately to the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, despite all the evidence that demonstrates that you are wrong. You MUST believe it, even if it is false. Otherwise, your entire worldview collapses.

    • Mel Wild says:

      But you have actually proven nothing and I could just as easily say you cling desperately to the current wind of popular opinion among skeptical scholars. You are very dogmatic in your beliefs, Gary. You seemed to have traded Christian fundamentalism for anti-Christian fundamentalism. You’re very combative and aggressive. You need to lighten up your dogmatism a little. But you are making a great case in point for what I was talking about in this post.

    • Rebecca says:

      Well, if I might just chime in here, entering the fray..:) I was just reading a book written by the Anglican scholar John Polkinghorne. His contention is that the central issue at hand is not so much the identity of the person who wrote a particular text, but the historical reality of what was actually written. Then he goes on to share a plethora of reasons why he feels that the gospel writers have conveyed an essentially accurate portrayal of the life and teachings of Christ. He supports this contention while also recognizing certain discrepancies in the texts, and also understands that to a degree not every single word attributed to Jesus was necessarily spoken by Him in his earthly life as it was the custom of writers of the ancient world to attribute to a historical character words he might have said if this was thought compatible with his character and purpose.

      Of course, all writers agree concerning the resurrection of Jesus from death.

      I think we should certainly consider what the majority of scholars think and say, but I also think it is very important to understand why they might think and reason in a certain way. It’s also a fact that the opinion of the majority can change from age to age. We need to consider the consensus, but also think this through for ourselves, IMO.

      We should also deeply examine our own hearts and motives. Why do we choose to think and believe in a certain way? I think through open dialogue there is a greater chance of people moving closer together, and coming to truth together.

      It does seem to me that for many deconverts the Christian faith has left a very bitter taste in their mouth. They found it to be destructive and oppressive in their lives. They feel that they were not free to be themselves or to truly accept others. If I felt this way, I would be looking for the hand of God in about the same matter that the chicken hopes to run into the fox.

      And, to be honest, Christian believers are not going to be completely unbiased either if their faith has brought great joy, and enhanced meaning and purpose to their lives.

  16. Gary says:

    “But you have actually proven nothing and I could just as easily say you cling desperately to the current wind of popular opinion among skeptical scholars.”

    Once again: Roman Catholics are NOT “skeptical” scholars, yet they the do NOT believe that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.

    Your repeated dishonest statements reveal the glaring weakness of your position.

  17. Gary says:

    Search for the truth, Mel, whatever that may be. The truth matters.

    Please consider reading highly respected Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown’s two volume work, “The Death of the Messiah”. You will see a very brilliant scholar, who believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the reality of the supernatural, compare each pericope in the Passion of Jesus among the four Gospels. I think you will see how strong the evidence is that the authors of the Gospels were not eyewitnesses.

    Take care.

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