Need Help From A Master Historian!


#1

Hello all, it’s me again, still comunicating with my atheist buddy, and now i think he’s getting help. Our last argument I talked about historian evidence, and most of it came from New Testament Historian Scholar Michael Licona. But he responded and responded quite well. I need masters i think to help me on this one. And again I think he’s getting his answers from atheist historians. My talk is in quotes, so not to confuse you all. Here goes the FIRST part, there are SIX all together:

THE CATHOLIC IN QUOTES “To begin, some like Bart D. Ehrman (author of “Misquoting Jesus”) say “Because historians can only establish what probaly happened, the historian cannot say it probaly occurred.” But this is faulty.”

THE ATHEIST OUT OF QUOTES: Of course you cannot prove a negative, however positive claims, such as the existence of a god or what Jesus did require positive evidence. This is the basis of how we uncover objective truth.

“For example, if someone says Jesus rose from the dead by natural causes, then of course that would be the least probable explanation.”

Couple of big problems here, firstly there is no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, the evidence that Jesus even existed is pretty poor. The historicity of Jesus is not what it could or should be. The historicity of someone else from a similar period like say Julius Caesar is much more certain.

"But nobody is saying that. Rather, the claim is that God rose Jesus from the dead. And if God exists and wants to raise Jesus from the dead, I would think that would be the most probable explanation. "

Sure, but consider this if the flying spaghetti monster exists and wanted to raise Jesus from the dead, that would be the most likely explanation. However there is no evidence in favour of the existence of either of these two beings, just as there is no evidence in favour of bigfoot.

“Philosopher Antony Flew, when he was an atheist said the resurrection is more likely if God exists.”

I would also agree with this. If this super being exists it is more likely that resurrection could occur, however since we have no evidence for such a being, this is pure speculation.

“a good number of atheists begin with a bias against the supernatural: “there is no God, therefore there must be another explanation, no matter what!” Therefore, some historians rule out the supernatural at the outset.”

No, it is not a bias against the supernatural (except of course in science, natural means actual, so by that definition supernatural means fictitious) rather like the bigfoot hypothesis, if there is no evidence to back up the existence of bigfoot you cannot put forth that bigfoot exists to back up the argument.

Since there is no evidence for god, just as there is no evidence for any form of ‘magic’ existing, despite repeated attempts to find this we cannot form an argument based upon no evidence. It is like if this was a court case and you were being charged with murder, if there is no evidence you have committed this crime you cannot be charged with said crime. Positive claims require positive evidence.

"“You can’t have a Virgin birth, therefore Mary must to have been either raped or had an affair. There just has to be a “naturalistic explanation” for it.”

Mary being a virgin would appear to be a translation error, if you look back at the Aramaic texts before their translation into Greek you will find that Mary was not a virgin, but a young woman. It is a similar difference as maid and maiden in English. One simply means young woman, the other means virgin.

Additionally the bible states that the messiah would be of the line of David, since these lines are always passed down the male side… he cant be the messiah if Joseph is not the real father. This is just one of many of the contradictions between the two gospels which deal with Jesus’ birth.

Additionally the Jesus birth story gets wrong other facts, like suggesting they had to be in Bethlehem because of a census requiring all people to go to their ancient ancestors city. This is clearly flawed since it doesn’t specify generations. Additionally we can check other historical documents and find that no national census occurred, only local ones which did not require anyone to go anywhere.


#2

SECOND PART:

"These historians have to look at things strictly scientificlly and cannot consider the divine. "

Nobody in science can consider the divine, because we can only consider evidence. No evidence, no consideration. same is true of bigfoot.

“You can respond by asking: “if a historian allows for the possibility of the miraculous, doesn’t that throw history up for grabs?” Anotherwords one could invoke a miraculous explanation for all kinds of things that happened in the past.”

No, I would attack it on a more fundamental level. Historians and scientists cannot make claims without evidence. Just as you cannot be arrested of a crime when no evidence exists that you did this crime. This is how we determine what is and is not true, which is why we use it to determine guilt and innocence.

“I think it’s clear this marerial was not meant to be taken literally.”

Yeah shame most creationists don’t follow that clear thinking path. However one could say that Jesus rebirth is symbolism, and referring to astrology.

"There are no credible eyewitness accounts and no corroboration from other sources. So the historian would say there’s no good evidence the Aesop’s fables report actual historical events. "

Exactly, you need evidence. Without evidence positive claims cannot be made. The more extraordinary the claim, the more evidence required

“But regarding Jesus’ resurrection, we find that the gospels fit into the genre of ancient biographies.”

Unfortunately the gospels are often contradictory, both internally, with each other and with other external evidence. In order to be considered evidence they must be consistent.

We know absolutely nothing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, apart from what is said of them in the gospels. Moreover, the gospels themselves do not claim to have been written by these men.

Biblical scholarship has established the fact that the gospel of Mark is the oldest of the four. The chief reasons for this conclusion are that this Gospel is shorter, simpler, and more natural, than any of the other three.

It is shown that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were enlarged from the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark knows nothing of the virgin birth, of the Sermon on the Mount, of the Lord’s prayer, or of other important facts of the supposed life of Christ. These features were added by Matthew and Luke.

the Gospel of Mark, as we have it, is not the original Mark. In the same way that the writers of Matthew and Luke copied and enlarged the Gospel of Mark, Mark copied and enlarged an earlier document which is called the “original Mark.”

So we can see these have been edited, and they are continually being edited. The earliest guess to the time the original was written was 70AD. Now the problem here is that only John the revelator was alive by this point!

However this date itself is pure conjecture, there is no evidence to really date it, and it has been conjectured as early as possible.

The first historical mention of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, was made by the Christian Father, St. Irenaeus, about the year 190 A.D. The only earlier mention of any of the Gospels was made by Theopholis of Antioch, who mentioned the Gospel of John in 180 A.D.

Furthermore the gospels were written in Greek, when the disciples of Jesus spoke and used Aramaic.

Now I could go on to point out the major contradictions, such as the ten year gap of the birth of Christ between Matthew and Luke, or how Jesus was born both in Nazarath and Bethlehem, and is in Bethlehem for different reasons, (such as the census, which is demonstrably false by historical evidence) but I am sure you agree the gospels themselves are hard to take a reliable historical document.

“We’ve got early accounts that can’t be explained away by legendary development, we’ve got multiple independent sources, eyewitnesses, and a degree of corroboration from outsiders.”

Most historians have found serious flaws with these accounts, many of which have been contrived, or edited. I should like to hear these independent sources and eyewitnesses. It is one thing to say they exist and another to actually present them. A man can claim he had evidence for bigfoot, but it is another thing to actually present that evidence.

“You claimed Jesus may not have been dead after the execution.”

Sure, since all evidence shows that when the brain dies, you do not come back. Never has this been contradicted. Brain death is death. Since the historicity here is not very good, we will have to look at all probabilities, I find it most likely that firstly if Jesus did exist at all, that he was killed and did not rise from the dead. However if he did, I find it more probable given what we know about neurology that he was not brain dead.

My argument is that Jesus did not rise from the dead at all. However stories of people rising from the dead would have come about from observations of people who have had their hearts stop, but are not brain dead rising suddenly ‘coming back to life’

"cricifixtion an “indisputable fact.” Why? There are many of reasons. First of all it’s recorded in the gospels. "

Which I have shown you are unreliable, and were written not by eyewitnesses but by Greek scholars many years after the events. :slight_smile:


#3

THIRD PART:

“Now, beyond the four gospels we have a number of non-Christian sources that corroborate the crucifixtion. Tacitus, Josephus, Lucian, and Mara Bar-Serapion. As well as the Jewish Talmud. So, what were the odds of surviving crucifixtion? Extremely small and very rare!”

You wont like this, but a friend of mine has recently done some historical research into this area.

I will start where he starts in his historical analysis.

The golden paragraph is a paragraph in Josephus’ writings that Christians like claiming proves the historical likelihood of Jesus as it’s the earliest non Christian text that refers to Jesus since Josephus was a Jewish historian. However many believe it is a fraudulent paragraph added by someone else after the fact there are several reasons.

  1. Apologist writers previous to the 4th century never mention the golden paragraph once even though they should have had access to the texts.
  2. In 3rd century copies of Josephus’ writings the paragraph is absent
  3. The paragraph throws off the usual tempo of Josehpus’ writing, uses language takes his writing out of context and can be removed and the writing actually flows better
  4. I like pointing out that at best it was a 2nd hand account since Josephus was not even born till a year after Jesus’ supposed death.
  5. there’s no references to other works that could have existed that would be considered first hand accounts.

Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, wrote his famous work on “The Antiquities of the Jews.” In this work, the historian made no mention of Christ, and for two hundred years after the death of Josephus, the name of Christ did not appear in his history. In the fourth century, a copy of “The Antiquities of the Jews” appeared, which referenced Jesus. This is clearly an act of fraud.

Similar problems exist with Tacticus, no early Christian writers refer to Tacitus even when discussing the subject of Nero and Christian persecution.

This is also the problem of where Tacticus got his information, Josephus works actually state where information is gathered from however given that Tacitus did not identify his sources, we simply don’t know how Tacitus obtained his information, therefore, we can’t use Annals XV.47 as independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus, there is also evidence that this statement was a politically driven one to attack Nero. Politics is when the most truth bending happens, even to scientists.

However Tacticus is a generally reliable historian, he usually gives sources, so lets give him a bit more weight than the Josephus golden paragraph, which is quite clearly fraudulent.

Tacticus called Christianity a “pernicious superstition” so as an ancient historian he certainly did not believe the veracity of the Jesus story.

Lucian is not an independent witness to Jesus. Lucian of Samosata was a Greek satirist best known for his dialogues ridiculing Greek mythology and philosophy, the point is he was neither in the right location nor born at the right time to give an account of the Jesus story, he would not have had access to any independent sources. It is more likely he relied upon common knowledge, or accept Christian claims. Or possibly that he actually used an earlier historians work such as Tacticus.

With the Talimud there are more problems, it came about in 200CE, but was only written down much later in the fifth centuary. Since the Talimud does not cite its sources we cannot use this as an independent witness either. The date is a major killer for me.

Mara Bar-Serapion made a statement in a letter to his son, referring to the Jews killing their wise king. The problem here is that historically we know that the Romans killed Jesus, the only people at the time who believed the Jews were responsible were the Christians. If Mara Bar-Serapion got his information from Christians then we cannot take this an independent witness.

I mean the guy was a syrian prisoner, not a historian, it is made worse when we find that the conservative scholar F.F. Bruce states that the letter was “written some time later than A.D. 73, but how much later we cannot be sure.” which means that he was not an independent witness.

You see now what I mean about the major problems with the historicity of Jesus, when compared to someone like Julius Ceasar.

I tend to think a Jesus, or someone like Jesus did exist, however, with no independent witnesses and such problems with historicity we have trouble determining what he did or did not do.


#4

FOURTH PART:

“If you’ve ever seen “The Passion of the Christ,” it accurately depicted the extreme brutality of Roman scourging and crucifixion.”

Sure, I tend to think that Jesus was dead. However it is still in the realms of possibility that he survived, or someone else who had been put in similar conditions had survived. Which would have sparked rumors about resurrection.

However my contention is that no resurrection occurred, rather than no death. I find it more likely Jesus was a man, a good man for his times, and a moral teacher of some significant worth, but just that a man.

When you look at it like I do, you will see another reason why religion is divisive and leads to suffering. A guy killed for his religion, even one which preached peace.

Oh I agree with you on the idea of a cross, why the hell would you want a symbol of barbaric torture and murder as a holy symbol?

I never got that, I mean if I was Jesus and I came back I wouldn’t want to see another cross, the fishes is a better and more positive symbol. However I think many religions like guilt trips more than optimism, maybe that’s why the cross is the preferred symbol.

“death by crucifixion was a slow and agonizing demise by asphyxiation”

You know though that in cold weather people can survive asphyxiation and drowning. Though I personally find this argument dubious. Nope, I reckon he was dead. Dying isn’t the part I find in contradiction to evidence. Its coming back from brain death.

"Jesus’ Disciples Believed He Rose And Appeared To Them: "

Now you know how I feel about visions :wink:

“St. Paul is important because he reports knowing some of the disciples personally”

Sure he does, but this is a secondary source since he mentioned that he never met a living Jesus, nor that he got gospel from man, but rather from a vision of Jesus. In fact from the letters of Paul, he had many disagreements with Jesus’ own disciples.

Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ teaching received from his vision seem to be in sharp disagreement with the understanding and practices of Jesus’ own disciples in Jerusalem. We again see here a level of inconsistency, if these visions they all had were the same Jesus, we would expect the same teachings.

However just as we see through Christianity and other religions visions are inconsistent, other than sharing a common theme. Christians have visions of Jesus and Hindus of Shiva.

“Then we have oral tradition. People in those days didn’t have tape recorders and not everyone could read. They relied on verbal transmission for passing along what happened until it was later written down.”

Yeah sure, however oral recordings are subject to Chinese whispers, mutations, alterations. Each telling is just a little different. The problem is when you pass each oral story down several generations, as well as back and forth you end up with something warped away from the original. Oral histories are notoriously unreliable.

“This is really significant because the oral tradition must have existed prior to the New Testament writings for the NT authors to have included it.”

Not necessarily, you are making the assertions in order to write something in a book which you claim is a history it must actually be an oral history at the time. Other possibilities include; it could have been invented on the spot, or converted from another oral tradition, or other work there is some evidence to show this happened, with stories being adapted for Jewish and Gentile audiences for highest conversion rates. However even if none of these happened, we know oral histories mutate and change. Memetic selection and so on. A story from one guy might be wildly different from another guy. They had to pick and choose which stories to write down.

"Finally we have written sources such as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. "

I believed I addressed some of this earlier. I have been writing and researching for about three hours, so I may be wrong lol.

“It’s widely accepted, even among skeptical historians, that the Gospels were written in the 1’st century.”

Disagree. I think I mentioned this before but the dates of the gospels are at the earliest Mark was written some time after the year 70, Luke about 110, Matthew about 130, and John not earlier than 140 A.D. These dates are largely conjectural and made as early as possible. Additionally as I stated before the gospels existence is not even mentioned 190 AD for mark, Luke and Matthew, and 180 AD for John.

“We have the writings of the apostolic fathers, who were said to have known the disciples, and/or were close to others who did. Clement, Polycarp, etc.”

Firstly this is second hand testimony about Jesus if it is true, the more hands information passes through the grubbier and more uncertain it gets. Next we have the problem of where they got their information. If they simply used Christian tradition of the day then we have problems. The only non Christian traditional source I could find is Justine Martyr, who is not a reliable historical source, today a probable tabloid journalist.


#5

FIFTH PART:

“Habermas completed an overview of more than two thousand scholarly sources on the resurrection going back thirty years”

No, sorry. I will not accept meta-analysis of Christian apologetics work, most of whom have already started with a bias. If Habermas had been performing analysis of work at the historical time of Jesus I would be more interested. However, saying he went through two thousand articles is too much like an argument from verbosity.I am not going to read two thousand articles. It is already a big enough response as it is!! :slight_smile:

“no fact was more widely recognized than that the early Christian believers had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus”

Okay, but people of the Hindu faith have been having visions they believed were shiva, krishna, and brama for a lot longer. Buddhists have also had visions. It comes down to the problem of visions. We know that people who believe in something, when they tend to have visions, the visions conform to their beliefs. Christians see Christ, Hindus see shiva, Muslims see Mohammed and so on.

“Atheist Ludemann said: “it may be taken as historically certain Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” He claims it was mere visions, natural phenomenal visions, which to me regarding these cases is absolute illogical nonsense. But the point is Ludemann concedes that their experiences were real.”

I disagree with him, I don’t know that they did have these experiences after Jesus’ death where they had visions of Jesus. They may have, they may not have. We do not have enough evidence to determine this.

Firstly we cannot tell if a claimed vision really happened, or not, second there is much obfuscation around who did or did not have visions. Thirdly again my previous argument about different visions, different faiths holds water. Paul had different commands from his vision than the disciples apparently did. Inconsistency causes problems.

"So we have Jesus’ resurrection attested by friend and foe alike, which is quite significant. "

Not so fast, we only have evidence of people having similar visions with different lessons coming from them. People have these to this day, and in all religions. People see ghosts of the dead and speak to their dead friends and inspirational leaders all you like. It doesn’t mean there was a dead man coming to life again.

Back to my previous arguments on visions.

“reporting that Paul was willing to suffer continuously and even die for his beliefs. Liars make poor martyrs. So we can be confident that Paul not only claimed the risen Jesus appeared to him, but that he really believed it.”

Sure, I believe he believed it. I just do not believe he believed it based upon evidence. Just because someone else believed in something and was willing to die for it, does not make it right. For example we have people who are willing to kill themselves for their beliefs today. I mean look at the manson family. They really believed in what they were doing. It doesn’t mean it was the truth.

"He says he was transformed by a personal encounter with the risen Christ. So his conversion is based in primary evidence—Jesus directly appeared to him. That’s a big difference. "

Well, first I object to your use of the word evidence. Evidence is objective. A vision is subjective, it is a personal experience. However people convert to religions today with similar experiences and stories.

“You cannot claim that paul was a friend of Jesus who was primed to see a vision of him due to wishful thinking or grief after the crucifixion”

I could, but I would be wrong. Paul never knew Jesus. He may have heard about him as a powerful spiritual leader, or have heard about him appearing to people in visions. Damascus is a hot place, mirages and such. If it was on his mind I see it happening. don’t forget the lessons he got from his personal revelation where different than the disciples had. Same guy in the visions, but inconsistency is rife in the details.

"His radical transformation from persecutor to missionary demands an explanation—and I think the best explanation is that he’s telling the truth when he says he met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus . He had nothing to gain in this world except his own suffering and martyrdom for making this up. "

I believe he probably had a personal revelation, the next most likely story is that he was complicate in some kind of conspiracy like kent hovind or similar, but this is unlikely due to the fact he was willing to die for his beliefs. I doubt kent would be. However, many people have visions which cause them to convert their faith. It happens to this day, this doesn’t mean the visions are real. Especially since they are inconsistent with each other.

"The Empty Tomb: "

I hope my browser doesn’t crash, I mean that would SUCK, its like four hours in haha. :stuck_out_tongue:

“This is reported by not only Matthew, but St. Justin Martyr and Tertullian.”

Not by Matthew, but in the gospel ‘Matthew’ remember it was written in Greek, well after Matthews life.

Justin Martyr is not know for his accuracy. For example, in his Apology (1.31), Justin incorrectly claimed that the Ptolemy who had the Septuagint translated was a contemporary of Herod; he has also been caught referring to documents which ostensibly support his exaggerated claims but in fact do not.

Tertullian, was not born around the time of the events of the resurrection, while some people may later have been suggesting that the body was stolen, this does not confirm that Jesus rose from the dead. Only that by the third century they were being accused of having stolen the body.

“On top of that, the idea that the disciples stole the body is a pathetic explanation”

This is not relevant. It is like creationists trying to prove creation by disproving evolution. That is not how it works. I can disprove one theory say, newtons gravity, but this doesnt make my rival theory true.

You make a positive claim that Jesus rose from the dead, it requires positive evidence. The reports of what happened in Easter are inconsistent internally, with each other and with external evidence.

Within the new testament but outside of the gospels there is no confirmation of the resurrection. More over the actual act of resurrection is not confirmed by pagan, or Jewish sources. If a guy came back from the dead someone would have mentioned it when it occurred. Instead it seems to have risen up around an empty tomb and visions, the documentation of the actual event are shaky.

Additionally we have seen some serious unreliability from many of the sources. Add to this there are no eyewitnesses to the actual resurrection you are left only with two things to believe that it happened; visions of the risen Jesus, and the tomb being empty.

I have gone into my reasons to doubt the visions side of it, now what about the empty tomb.

Well firstly the eyewitnesses to the tomb being empty are not actually mentioned by name, and there are no external accounts, the enemy account you mentioned only came three hundred years later. Paul and the other early writers of the New Testament fail to mention the empty tomb, I would see this as indication that it was a later addition. I mean its strong piece of evidence. you would expect Peter to mention the empty tomb in Acts 2, or Paul to mention it in his letters, nor do the gospels give a location of this empty tomb. I mean, if the disciples didn’t think it worthy of attention why should we?


#6

SIXTH AND LAST PART:

“why would we add something which seems a poor source, unless it is actually a good source” Is how the argument about the testimony of (unnamed) women goes with me. I believe it was a late addition, which makes more sense with them being women. and women with lower social status would not need their names mentioning.

"but they are mentioned in all four Gospels, whereas male witnesses appear only later and in two of them. "

They were written based off each other. So adding men in later makes sense. it is also another inconsistency between them.

“maybe Peter or John or even Joseph of Arimathea—were the first to find the tomb empty. So the best theory for why the Gospel writers would include such an embarrassing detail is because that’s what actually happened, and they were committed to recording it accurately, regardless of the credibility problem it created in that culture.”

Disagree, if you name famous people you are likely to get spotted for contradictions quickly. This is also not confirmed outside the gospels. Which is why I find it a likely late addition. I mean this argument is like a double bluff, it must be true because the sources are one most people think are unreliable. It doesn’t sway me much. Men or women matter not, but they are unnamed and unmentioned by early church leaders.

“There are many arguments against these claims, arguments from Michael Baigent (“The Jesus Papers”) claiming Pontius Pilate decided to condemn Jesus to please the Zealots, but took steps to ensure Jesus would survive so he wouldn’t have to report to Rome that he had killed the one who was telling the Jews to pay tax to Rome (give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and God what is God’s). This is a truly weak argument and breaks apart fast upon investigation.”

Sounds it, not one which I would claim.

“Moslems and the Qur’ran stating Allah made it “appear” as though Jesus was dead, but kept him alive then brought him to Heaven”

Yeah well as an atheist, you know what I think about other non evidence based speculation. :wink:

“Other skeptics say Paul never believed Jesus to have physically risen from the dead, it was more of a spiritual rising.”

There is some evidence to back this one up actually. It looks like there were two schools of thought. One that Jesus rose in a material physical body, and the other that he rose again in some kind of transcendent state. Ascended form or similar… There is evidence this is what Paul believed.

However, I prefer it being material resurrection, transcendent ghost form would be harder to argue against.

“And in case you were wondering, yes I know about the three foot tall tablet having 87 hebrew lines, discovered near the Dead Sea in Jordan. There is heavy debate as we speak about this discovery, which actually had been discovered years ago. They say it predates the birth of Christ and speaks of an individual rising from the dead in three days to free the Jew–by force, basically. So far, this holds not a problem, but I won’t go into that for now, not unless you wish to chat more about it–if you were even going to mention it to begin with. I may have jumped the gun.”

Not even heard about it, might be nice to talk about.

However I think my arguments are better than the ones you expected eh?

… While I am sure it would be nice and feel nice to free you from belief in something which I see as superstition, I am not sure it is worth five hours of typing and research. Especially as your particular beliefs don’t appear to be very harmful. I didn’t do this much work for my exams! XD

lol, anyway I apologise if there is waffling, I apologise for repetition and length, I really hope it will send this message, it size is massive. I will not go through this and correct spelling mistakes or sentence structure, its too vast so I apologise for any problems there.

My memory only works with facts, so I might have repeated myself after forgetting what I wrote prior.

Best wishes,

THE END

Ok, that’s all. As you can see he pretty much…AGAIN blew me away!! I know it’s alot of material, but I think it’s important I respond wisely, so I’ve come here for help.


#7

I really do hope someone can at least answer some of his comments. I know it’s so much material, but it’s worth it right? Ok, I’ll be patient :slight_smile:


#8

He did NOT blow you away. All he has done is argue by assertion. He has set the ground rules for your debate and you have conceded them. There is no way you can win under his rules.

In part 5 I think it was, he outright says he will not accept any evidence or backing of your points that come from Christians. He outright refuses to accept anything supernatural as an explanation and requires you to only provide natural (as opposed to supernatural) evidence that what we say happened actually did.

He also asserts something blatantly false. He said there is more evidence that Julius Caesar existed than Christ. Really? WHERE IS HIS PROOF? He never seems to provide actual proof!

In truth, there are many contemporary and near contemporary accounts of what Christ did that still exist today. The entire New Testament WAS written either by eyewitnesses or by those who got it from eyewitnesses. Then there are independent accounts by Josephus the historian and others. There is the Didache which is a 1st century catechism of sorts.

However my understanding is that there are no documents that cite the existence of Julius Caesar that date earlier than the Middle Ages or so, so 800-1000 years after Caesar died.

He ridcules anything coming from a Christian source as biased, yet doesn’t see that atheist historians who automatically discount the possibilty of miracles and the supernatural also have a bias?

These people never explain how so many people in the first 300 plus years of the Church would be willing to DIE, rather than renounce their faith. Why would all but 1 of the Apostles die a martyr’s death if they made it all up? Why would anyone make up such outrageous things and make their earthly leader (Peter) look like such an idiot? Why do all the Apostles look like such imbeciles and cowards? When you make up stuff, you always embellish to make you and your compatriots better than you are.

In the May 2008 Homiletic and Pastoral Review there is a great article on the historicity of the Faith and the logical reasons why it is true. Also the blog run by Michael Barber and Brant Pitre, Singing in the Reign, has a recent post on this topic.

In short, shake the dust from your sandals and move on. I know you say he is a friend, but this is not friendly. He is basically attacking you, your beliefs and the very foundation of how you live your life. Think about that. What would he do if you did the same to him? I doubt he would take it and you shouldn’t either.

He is engaged in drive-by debating. He makes a ton of assertions as fact and you are left to spill tons of ascii in an attempt to prove him wrong on his terms, using his rules and he gets to decide what is entered as legitimate proof. Tell him so and that you are done with this argument. He will try to claim victory and in his own small mind he may even believe it.

However, your faith will continue because we do not require the kind of evidence he asks for, which by his own admission and rules he would not accept as evidence in this argument. There is no dishonor in not fighting when the game is rigged against you. And especially so when you are not an expert in the field he is trying to fight in.


#9

Almost forgot. You’ve made the assertion here or in the other thread, that the Church absolutely accepts evolution and that it is fact.

Not true on either point.

The Church does not say one way or the other, but rather says that evolution, if true, is not incompatible with the Faith.

Nor is evolution a proven fact. To be so, you would have to produce lots of documented evidence of spontaneous and long term change that makes one animal into another, the new being unable to mate and produce fertile offspring with the old creature. So far, there is no evidence in the fossil record or anywhere else I am aware of that proves this.

Personally, I don’t say one way or another. My faith in God and His Church does not require it to be so.

What the Church DOES say is that we do read the Bible literally. Meaining that the literal sense is likely the most obvious way to read Scripture. The literal sense doesn’t always mean that if it says “raining cats and dogs” that furry animals were falling from the sky though.

Some parts of the Bible are one kind of literature and others another, etc. What we do know about the creation is that Adam and Eve were real people and they were supernaturally blessed. They blew it and we are still paying for their mistakes through Original Sin.

Other threads cover these things better. Also many cover the supposed inaccuracies in the Bible and how we are to understand them.


#10

"In short, shake the dust from your sandals and move on. I know you say he is a friend, but this is not friendly. He is basically attacking you, your beliefs and the very foundation of how you live your life. Think about that. What would he do if you did the same to him? I doubt he would take it and you shouldn’t either.

He is engaged in drive-by debating. He makes a ton of assertions as fact and you are left to spill tons of ascii in an attempt to prove him wrong on his terms, using his rules and he gets to decide what is entered as legitimate proof. Tell him so and that you are done with this argument. He will try to claim victory and in his own small mind he may even believe it.

However, your faith will continue because we do not require the kind of evidence he asks for, which by his own admission and rules he would not accept as evidence in this argument. There is no dishonor in not fighting when the game is rigged against you. And especially so when you are not an expert in the field he is trying to fight in."

Thanks for the kind words friend :slight_smile: Although I am already working on a response to him. If this argument drags I’ll leave, but honestly, I’m having fun, I’m not afraid or shaken. And I’ve heard many of his assertions before, I just have to get the right words to answer back.

So I’m wondering if anyone else can give some advice?


#11

I respect your opinon and belief, but evolution is an established fact. There a bundle of evidence for it, especially in the fossil record, along within genetics and genes; biology etc. Experiments are done all the time that show how things evolve.

Point is this makes my faith in God stronger. To know what I mean, go and read Kennith Miller’s book “Finding Darwing’s God.” Not to mention a whole lot of other books are coming out now dealing with evolution alongside of God.

Please don’t turn this into an argument, I am hoping one will make a response to my friend’s claims rather than another creation/evolution debate.

peace


#12

Your response was great, and I would encourage the OP to dwell on what you wrote.

I just wanted to add my thoughts on this part. I am amazed at how atheists are so obsessed in convincing believers they are wrong. True, we Christians have a zeal that others believe as we do, but that is because we care for their souls. Frankly, if Christ had told us that we would all get to heaven and it mattered not what anyone did or believed, then I wouldn’t care at all what others believed.

But I don’t get these atheists. Since they believe that we all just wind up as dust, why to they care what we believe? So what that, from their perspective, our belief is childish and false. If it makes us happy, why should it bother them so much?

My Dad was an atheist (before he passed away, he believed and came back into the Catholic Church. Praise God!). He was different than all these other atheists. He did not want to discuss it with me because he was afraid he would give me doubts about my faith. He told me that he envied me because I was able to believe. Now, this was an atheist that I could respect.

But these other atheists, I have not much respect for. It seems that are very insecure in their unbelief. It seems that other people’s faith threatens them. In a way, their insecurity is evidence that God exists. Deep down they are terribly afraid that God may exist, which is why they feel this need to stamp out faith wherever they find it.

That is the impression I get from the OP. The OP’s friend just went on and on, trying to overwhelm the OP with every single argument he could think. His friend is not interested in a dialoue. And Fric is right. This friend has made a lot of assertions without any evidence to back up those assertions. The only being who can get away with making assertions without backing them up is God. This friend rejects God, and then makes himself to be God in own mind.

So, instead of being on the defensive, I would start getting on the offensive. I would ask him why is it so important for him to convince you he is right. Does he always have this obsession that others think he is right? Does he feel threatened by your faith? When you start exploring this, he may start gaining some humility. Right now, he just seems too arrogant to talk with about this. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Maybe by asking some probing questions, he will start looking at himself honestly and humbly. Then maybe you can have a give-and-take dialogue with him.


#13

There is a contradictory presupposition in here that your friend believes.

This is the presupposition - A belief without scientific evidence is nothing but pure speculation, and should not believed as true.

Ask him if this statement is true.

I assume he will reply “yes”

Challenge him to provide scientific evidence that supports this statement.

He can’t.

So that would mean that his belief, that a belief without scientific evidence is nothing but pure speculation, and should not believed as true, is itself without any scientific evidence and so if this statement was right then that means that this statement is pure speculation and should not be believed as true.

Actually, there are other presuppositions that he believes that are not proved by scientific evidence.

For instance:

He believes that science applies to reality. But challenge him to provide scientific evidence that science applies to reality. Again, he can’t. So then, according to him, science would then be mere speculation and should not be believed as btrue.

I am sure he believes in the validity of scientific experimentation. Challenge him to provide scientific evidence for the validity of scientific experimentation. He can’t. So then, according to him, the validity of scientific experimentation is pure speculation.

Science started in the middle ages with people who believed that God created an orderly universe. Since the universe is created orderly, it is possible to determine certain patterns with scientific experientation. All of this was pressupposed. None of this can be proven scientifically.

So it is ironic that science, which started because of the presupposition that God created an orderly universe, is now used to discount the existence of God.


#14

What would you say in response to what he thinks about the gospels, how matthew and luke came from Mark? The contradictions, and the late dates?


#15

I suggest reading Scott Haan & Benjamin Wikers new book Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case Against God. I think it will help. You might after reading it challenge him on moral grounds too. The world they posit at the end of their book is not one I want to live in.


#16

They care because we threaten their moral relativity, their way of life. If there is a God they couldn’t have fun.

With God there is no divorce, no adultary, no porn, no birthcontrol, no abortion, no euthanasia, ad nauseum. If they admit these are sins then they would have to take responsibility for their actions.


#17

According to my friend, "Christianity itself did not do good. some Christians and Christian organisations have done, and some have done bad. when you look at the statistics for Christians and atheists, atheists get divorced less, there are lower teen pregnancy rates in atheistic societies, lower STD transmissions, lower homicide rates, less violent crime, less general crime and so on. "

that’s what he thinks, I wonder where he got that info?


#18

Wow, not even ONE person has touched upon what I said. I know it’s too long guys, sorry for posting it. It’s a mass of info, I just wanted to gather up a good response to some of it.


#19

Dr. William Lane Craig is your answer. Lopk at his debates with atheists. None better.

reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer


#20

Ask him. I’d like to know where those numbers came from. Especially considering there are far more theists than atheists, the actual numbers may mean absolutely nothing if they did not take that into account.


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