Argument from scholarly evidence

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Lausten
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Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby Lausten » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:15 pm

Argument from scholarly evidence
This is really the strongest argument against the existence of God or Jesus or whomever, and the evidence often comes from within the religious community. The reason it is not popular is, it is not preached. It is considered blasphemy by some believers and those voices get loud. The arguments get technical pretty quick so outsiders just walk away and don’t care. Well, maybe we should care.

Short history: As we came out of the Dark Ages, scholars started searching for the “real” Bible. They realized they couldn’t find it and we get the term “Received Text”. Translations from the Latin and Greek came out, were argued about, and the evidence for the Bible being written by men with an agenda was buried in a pile of scholarly activity.

Modern scholars: Today we have agnostics like Bart Ehrmann, believers like John Shelby Spong and even evangelicals like Rob Bell who are bringing this scholarly knowledge into the mainstream. They are demonstrating that the narrative that came out of the Catholic Church of the 4th century (and even Lutheran Protestantism) is not supported by the text.

Not so modern atheists: We have the data to understand these stories, using historical evidence, but we’re still arguing with theists as if they control the narrative. We shouldn’t stoop to their level, we should bring them up to ours. It doesn’t require a degree to do it either.

Some examples: The other day I heard David Smalley say Jesus was stupid because he didn’t know that a fig tree was not in season, so he cut it down. When something seems that stupid, it’s a good bet that it is a metaphor. Look it up.

The “consensus” on Jesus being a real person is frequently used to launch a discussion about the resurrection actually happening with witnesses. It’s not quite as easy to google a consensus, but a little work will show you that the consensus on Jesus existing is that Jesus existed, and that’s it. In fact, the consensus, including believers, is that the gospels don’t reflect a real person and can’t be used to find a real person because of their differences. Unless you are Lee Strobel, but that’s not a consensus, that’s Lee Strobel.

The Bible often tells you it is not a history book or even a guide for how to live. It tells you to believe so you can be “saved” or not smited, but rarely does it provide anything practical. It includes Peter arguing with Paul, Moses arguing with God, and prophets explaining what God meant as in Nehemiah 9 and even Jesus telling you the parables are not meant to be understood. It consistently tells you that it needs interpretation.

If you have general comments about how this has been tried, I don’t have much to say, but, I’d be glad to review any examples. Unless we are talking about Ehrmann himself or Richard Carrier, I just don’t see it happening. My point is, it does not require a PhD level of knowledge of to do it. Just a few simple facts like the ones listed above should at least slow down any discussion, if not bring it to a halt with the believer admitting they don’t have all the facts.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:39 pm

I heard a little anecdote from someone who attended a seminary class as part of obtaining a divinity degree. In that class, it was revealed that the King James version of the bible is but a small fragment of many other writings collectively called "the bible" throughout history of Christianity.

This caused some immediate rancor and drew the consternation of some of the students who were unprepared to accept that the King James version of the bible was anything but the literal word of god. It brings into question the fallacy that truth can be found in the oldest books you can find. Names like Jehovah and Yahweh impressed someone as the oldest, therefore they were reqarded as the most "correct" names.

The world awaits the next scrap of older scripture to be found with a new name for god, and it may be the foundation of a new sect of Christianity.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:47 pm

Lausten wrote:Argument from scholarly evidence
This is really the strongest argument against the existence of God or Jesus or whomever, and the evidence often comes from within the religious community. The reason it is not popular is, it is not preached. It is considered blasphemy by some believers and those voices get loud. The arguments get technical pretty quick so outsiders just walk away and don’t care. Well, maybe we should care.

Short history: As we came out of the Dark Ages, scholars started searching for the “real” Bible. They realized they couldn’t find it and we get the term “Received Text”. Translations from the Latin and Greek came out, were argued about, and the evidence for the Bible being written by men with an agenda was buried in a pile of scholarly activity.

Modern scholars: Today we have agnostics like Bart Ehrmann, believers like John Shelby Spong and even evangelicals like Rob Bell who are bringing this scholarly knowledge into the mainstream. They are demonstrating that the narrative that came out of the Catholic Church of the 4th century (and even Lutheran Protestantism) is not supported by the text.

Not so modern atheists: We have the data to understand these stories, using historical evidence, but we’re still arguing with theists as if they control the narrative. We shouldn’t stoop to their level, we should bring them up to ours. It doesn’t require a degree to do it either.

Some examples: The other day I heard David Smalley say Jesus was stupid because he didn’t know that a fig tree was not in season, so he cut it down. When something seems that stupid, it’s a good bet that it is a metaphor. Look it up.

The “consensus” on Jesus being a real person is frequently used to launch a discussion about the resurrection actually happening with witnesses. It’s not quite as easy to google a consensus, but a little work will show you that the consensus on Jesus existing is that Jesus existed, and that’s it. In fact, the consensus, including believers, is that the gospels don’t reflect a real person and can’t be used to find a real person because of their differences. Unless you are Lee Strobel, but that’s not a consensus, that’s Lee Strobel.

The Bible often tells you it is not a history book or even a guide for how to live. It tells you to believe so you can be “saved” or not smited, but rarely does it provide anything practical. It includes Peter arguing with Paul, Moses arguing with God, and prophets explaining what God meant as in Nehemiah 9 and even Jesus telling you the parables are not meant to be understood. It consistently tells you that it needs interpretation.

If you have general comments about how this has been tried, I don’t have much to say, but, I’d be glad to review any examples. Unless we are talking about Ehrmann himself or Richard Carrier, I just don’t see it happening. My point is, it does not require a PhD level of knowledge of to do it. Just a few simple facts like the ones listed above should at least slow down any discussion, if not bring it to a halt with the believer admitting they don’t have all the facts.

There plenty of "channeled" works coming out today, which purport to be the words of god or angels. They are almost universally discounted by everyone, mainly because very little of it proves out in prophesy, wisdom or clairvoyance. Yet the scriptures are touted as exactly that; the channeled words of god. I don't need to go through the skeptic's toolkit to explain what's wrong with that.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby Lausten » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:14 pm

landrew wrote:There plenty of "channeled" works coming out today, which purport to be the words of god or angels. They are almost universally discounted by everyone, mainly because very little of it proves out in prophesy, wisdom or clairvoyance. Yet the scriptures are touted as exactly that; the channeled words of god. I don't need to go through the skeptic's toolkit to explain what's wrong with that.


Well, good, because that's not what I said. I even said that using the standard tookit is what allows them to control the narrative. Once you are in the discussion of the Bible being consistent with a philosophical god or the Trinitarian version of god being represented in scripture, you've already lost. People who hold to those ideas can be weeded out. I think we agree on that.

Where we probably disagree is that all church goers should be treated the same way. If they accept anything about Christianity, then treat them like they are not worth your time and all their stories are just stupid. That's where we go wrong.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby SEG » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:13 pm

Lausten wrote:Argument from scholarly evidence
My point is, it does not require a PhD level of knowledge of to do it. Just a few simple facts like the ones listed above should at least slow down any discussion, if not bring it to a halt with the believer admitting they don’t have all the facts.

Yes, and most of them aren't short on opinions when the "facts" are murky. The concept of the Trinity is one of the murkiest, yet it is a core belief among Christians. Even if you ask 3 different members of the same congregation to explain the concept, you are almost guaranteed to get 3 different answers.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby Lausten » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:59 pm

SEG wrote:
Lausten wrote:Argument from scholarly evidence
My point is, it does not require a PhD level of knowledge of to do it. Just a few simple facts like the ones listed above should at least slow down any discussion, if not bring it to a halt with the believer admitting they don’t have all the facts.

Yes, and most of them aren't short on opinions when the "facts" are murky. The concept of the Trinity is one of the murkiest, yet it is a core belief among Christians. Even if you ask 3 different members of the same congregation to explain the concept, you are almost guaranteed to get 3 different answers.

I don't see how "they don't use facts" is an argument against using facts. If you can get to a point in a discussion where they are saying they just believe, or it just feel it's true, that's a pretty successful interaction.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby SEG » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:15 am

Lausten wrote:I don't see how "they don't use facts" is an argument against using facts. If you can get to a point in a discussion where they are saying they just believe, or it just feel it's true, that's a pretty successful interaction.

They DO use their own version of "facts" when they are trying to demonstrate the concept of the Trinity. They just don't believe it, they know it to be true. How can we disprove using it scientific facts? We can't. Just like we cant' disprove undetectable gremlins residing inside the rings of Venus. IOW it's unfalsifiable.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby Lausten » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:41 pm

SEG wrote:
Lausten wrote:I don't see how "they don't use facts" is an argument against using facts. If you can get to a point in a discussion where they are saying they just believe, or it just feel it's true, that's a pretty successful interaction.

They DO use their own version of "facts" when they are trying to demonstrate the concept of the Trinity. They just don't believe it, they know it to be true. How can we disprove using it scientific facts? We can't. Just like we cant' disprove undetectable gremlins residing inside the rings of Venus. IOW it's unfalsifiable.

How can we disprove it using scientific facts? - Um, how else would you?
unfalsifiable - Then you can't prove it's true either.

Maybe you mean "how can we change their minds?" I wasn't suggesting you could, although there is plenty of evidence that you can. That's a different issue. It doesn't change my initial assertion.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby SEG » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:52 pm

Lausten wrote:How can we disprove it using scientific facts? - Um, how else would you?

I wouldn't try the folly of attempting to disprove something that can't be tested. I would ask them if the Trinity is a core belief for most Christians. They will be very likely to agree that it is a core belief. Then follow with, "Then why didn't Jesus teach it in his ministry and why doesn't it appear in the NT?
unfalsifiable - Then you can't prove it's true either.

Correct.
Maybe you mean "how can we change their minds?"

Incorrect. I meant what I said. Most fundies/ heavily indoctrinated people will never change their minds. Maybe some fence-sitters will if you produce plenty of good arguments.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:04 am

"Proving" is generally outside the realm of the scientific method. Disproving however, is not so difficult. "Failing to disprove the null hypothesis" is the best way to filter out the non-facts from the facts. From there, we can proceed to test, observe, experiment and try to determine the weight of an idea.

Darwin's theory of Evolution has a lot of weight; some would say it's "proven," but scientifically that's not really correct. Scientists constantly fret over the problem of the absence of many transitional forms, just as Darwin did. This doesn't refute or disprove anything, but it does show the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific method.

If something is true, it can never be disproved. If it is false, it can never be proved.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby Lausten » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:47 pm

SEG wrote:
Lausten wrote:Maybe you mean "how can we change their minds?"

Incorrect. I meant what I said. Most fundies/ heavily indoctrinated people will never change their minds. Maybe some fence-sitters will if you produce plenty of good arguments.

Just as popularity is not an argument for something, unpopularity is not a reason to not argue against something. The number of people who will or won't change their minds is not relevant to the quality of a strategy. Besides, changing people's minds is not always the only reason to enter into a discussion.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:06 pm

Using popularity as a filter is mildly offensive to me.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby SEG » Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:36 pm

landrew wrote:"Proving" is generally outside the realm of the scientific method. Disproving however, is not so difficult. "Failing to disprove the null hypothesis" is the best way to filter out the non-facts from the facts. From there, we can proceed to test, observe, experiment and try to determine the weight of an idea.

Darwin's theory of Evolution has a lot of weight; some would say it's "proven," but scientifically that's not really correct.

I think it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt across many fields of science. Why do you say it hasn't been proven?

Scientists constantly fret over the problem of the absence of many transitional forms, just as Darwin did.

I don't think they fret over that, do they? They don't have to find all the transitional forms, there is enough overwhelming evidence already to prove it.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:40 pm

SEG wrote:
landrew wrote:"Proving" is generally outside the realm of the scientific method. Disproving however, is not so difficult. "Failing to disprove the null hypothesis" is the best way to filter out the non-facts from the facts. From there, we can proceed to test, observe, experiment and try to determine the weight of an idea.

Darwin's theory of Evolution has a lot of weight; some would say it's "proven," but scientifically that's not really correct.

I think it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt across many fields of science. Why do you say it hasn't been proven?

Scientists constantly fret over the problem of the absence of many transitional forms, just as Darwin did.

I don't think they fret over that, do they? They don't have to find all the transitional forms, there is enough overwhelming evidence already to prove it.

I'm trying to avoid another fight on this forum. But I am not alone in saying that nothing can ever be proved beyond a particle of doubt. I believe that is why the scientific method is framed as, "disproving the null hypothesis." Disproof can provide a zero-result. Proof can only result in indivisible fractions.

Jan Von Helmont conducted an experiment conducted about 400 years ago, where he "proved" spontaneous generation by placing rotting meat in bottles, and flies came out of it. But he didn't know the difference between "proving" and "testing." To test this assertion, an experiment set up to "disprove the null hypothesis" would place gauze over the bottle to prevent flies from getting to lay eggs. If no flies were produced, it was disproved.

The fallacy of proof manifests in many things. Creationists provide volumes of "proof" for their nonsense. Many books are written seeking to "prove" outlandish theories. That is why the best filter is the scientific method, which uses the tool of "disproof" to weigh evidence.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:50 pm

SEG wrote:
landrew wrote:
Scientists constantly fret over the problem of the absence of many transitional forms, just as Darwin did.

I don't think they fret over that, do they? They don't have to find all the transitional forms, there is enough overwhelming evidence already to prove it.

I saw a TV special recently, where they wrestled with this problem, and sought many possible answers, but I think the conclusion at the end was that it remains one of the biggest mysteries in the field of evolution, at least among the best and brightest in the field.

As for others who couldn't be bothered, I think that's scientific laziness. Good scientists don't form certitudes of denial to hide behind when difficult questions appear, and science has many of those. They discuss these things, albeit usually in private and out of the public eye.
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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby busterggi » Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:46 pm

"I saw a TV special recently, where they wrestled with this problem"

'Ancient Aliens' or anything like it is not a reputable source.

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Re: Argument from scholarly evidence

Postby landrew » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:24 pm

busterggi wrote:"I saw a TV special recently, where they wrestled with this problem"

'Ancient Aliens' or anything like it is not a reputable source.

Well, it's an honest mistake on your part, but it was a legitimate program, I think it was a BBC production. If I can find it, I'll post it.
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