Debating Australian Christian Blogger “UnkleE”

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UnkleE (Erik), a moderate Christian blogger in Australia:

[Quoting Gary] “Maybe we are speaking past one another.”

Yes, I’m afraid that’s true. But I think you are also talking past the evidence. Let me illustrate briefly.

”I will offer what I see to be the only evidence for one of Jesus’ alleged miracles, the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and let’s see if we can agree.”

I have never argued that the evidence for this particular miracle, or any other miracle, is particularly strong. I have simply said that it has two independent sources, not one as you have said again. (And despite all you say, the experts say they ARE independent sources. e.g. Bart Ehrman in Did Jesus Exist? makes this clear. One of many examples of you ignoring the experts and speaking confidently about something even though you are wrong.)

But most importantly, you are changing the subject. We were discussing whether there was historical evidence that Jesus performed miracles , especially healing and exorcism, not whether we have good evidence that he performed that particular miracle.

I have provided quotes by 8 eminent scholars, most of them not christians, which show that they believe there is good historical evidence of Jesus being a healer – some believe he actually healed with supernatural power, some believe he healed through natural means, and most simply record the historical fact without offering explanation.

You have offered your own ideas which are contradicted in many places by the facts and expert conclusions.

I suggest we leave it there. (I will try to summarise this whole discussion in another comment, and then I suggest we stop.)

 

Gary:

“I have provided quotes by 8 eminent scholars, most of them not christians, which show that they believe there is good historical evidence of Jesus being a healer – some believe he actually healed with supernatural power, some believe he healed through natural means, and most simply record the historical fact without offering explanation.”

Erik, Erik. What I said is that there is no evidence that Jesus performed supernatural acts (miracles), other than the evidence that he had a reputation for being a miracle worker and four anonymous books which claim he did. If you want to declare victory because a handful of scholars believe that there is sufficient evidence to declare Jesus a “healer, in some fashion”, go right ahead. Declare victory and then walk away (which is your usual MO in discussions). An herbalist and a chiropractor can be considered ”healers”, but that in no way makes them worthy of our worship as gods nor does it prove that they possess supernatural powers.

Does the Gospel of John copy word for word material from the Synoptic Gospels? No. Are scholars certain that the author of the Gospel of John either witnessed this event himself, or, heard of the Feeding of the Five Thousand from a source completely independent of the Synoptics? No.

I rest my case.

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Gary: Probably not, but I can’t resist.

Erik:

Gary, I want to try to both summarise and to make peace.

This discussion has ranged over many related topics, as internet discussion tend to do. You have unfortunately made a number of statements that are contrary to the facts:

1. You spoke of the Buddha’s many miracles, but after I showed evidence that the experts say he despised miracles, you agreed you had overstated.

2. You spoke of thousands of miracle workers through history to compare to Jesus, but the only plausible one we ended up with was Apollonius, and there are considerable doubts about the validity of that comparison.

3. You said historians said “nothing” about Jesus’ miracles, but I showed you many reputable secular historians who said lots about his miracles and accepted the reports as good historical information (whether they believed supernatural events happened, or not).

4. You said there was only one historical source for the feeding of the 5000 story, but scholars like Bart Ehrman show there were two.

That is not a good record on your part.

So having made that point, I want to try to make peace.

You, like anyone else who stays within comment policy, are welcome to comment here. But false “facts”, like fake news on Facebook, are not welcome and actually do your cause harm. You say you are rational and evidence-based, and christians are not, and yet this discussion shows exactly the opposite. I presume this is due to your enthusiasm as a relatively new deconvert, but it isn’t helpful. I don’t enjoy the adversarial tone of our discussion, and I don’t like having to say “you are wrong” all the time, but your approach forces me into it for I will always focus on getting the facts right before I am willing to discuss opinions..

Surely it would be better for you to check your facts before you make such definite claims? Then it would be possible to have a much better discussion, or else have no discussion at all.

I’m not sure why you chose to come and engage on this topic, but for my part, I am not trying to change your view or reconvert you. I just want to get the facts straight before any discussion. It is quite possible to accept all the facts I have mentioned here and still be an atheist or agnostic – scholars like EP Sanders, Maurice Casey and Bart Ehrman are examples. But you seem to take every factual matter as a challenge to your unbelief when it doesn’t have to be.

Can I suggest you take a break from this discussion, consider these facts, do a little reading, and see if we can shift to a different footing if you want to discuss again? Thanks.

 

Gary:

” You spoke of the Buddha’s many miracles, but after I showed evidence that the experts say he despised miracles, you agreed you had overstated.”

It is true that the Buddha despised the requests from the lay public to perform miracles to prove his powers (as did Jesus) , but the book I am currently reading, “The Book of Miracles” [a book which objectively compares the miracle claims of the world’s largest religions] makes it very clear that the Buddha’s disciples believed he performed some amazing miracles. My only misstatement was that: “the Buddha probably performed as many alleged miracles as Jesus”. The same book states that Christianity claims the most miracles of all the major religions.

“You spoke of thousands of miracle workers through history to compare to Jesus, but the only plausible one we ended up with was Apollonius, and there are considerable doubts about the validity of that comparison.”

That is the only plausible one that YOU ended up with and you excluded from the discussion all the many thousands of alleged Christian miracle workers for no good reason.

“You said historians said “nothing” about Jesus’ miracles, but I showed you many reputable secular historians who said lots about his miracles and accepted the reports as good historical information (whether they believed supernatural events happened, or not).”

Nonsense. The fact that a handful of NT scholars state that Jesus was some sort of a “healer” does not contradict my original statement.

“You said there was only one historical source for the feeding of the 5000 story, but scholars like Bart Ehrman show there were two.”

False. Show me a statement by Ehrman where he states that all the stories in the Gospel of John were obtained by the author from completely independent sources ( sources we are certain had not first heard these stories from one of the Synoptic Gospels or someone retelling a story from the Synoptic Gospels). You can’t do it. It is true that the author of the Gospel of John does not plagiarize the Synoptic Gospels as the authors of Matthew and Luke plagiarized the Gospel of Mark, but that is in no way proof that the author of the Gospel of John did not use stories he had heard from the Synoptics and incorporate his own version of those stories in his Gospel. Bottom line, neither side of this debate can be certain if the Gospel of John is or is not an independent source.

“That is not a good record on your part.”

And you wonder why so many people on “Finding Truth Blog” absolutely detest you, Erik. This statement is so obnoxiously rude. If it is your goal to piss off non-believers you do a great job, but if you are trying to convert any of us, your methods are very poor.

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16 thoughts on “Debating Australian Christian Blogger “UnkleE”

  1. UnkleE:

    You, like anyone else who stays within comment policy, are welcome to comment here. But false “facts”, like fake news on Facebook, are not welcome and actually do your cause harm. You say you are rational and evidence-based, and christians are not, and yet this discussion shows exactly the opposite. I presume this is due to your enthusiasm as a relatively new deconvert, but it isn’t helpful. I don’t enjoy the adversarial tone of our discussion, and I don’t like having to say “you are wrong” all the time, but your approach forces me into it for I will always focus on getting the facts right before I am willing to discuss opinions..

    Zoe’s translation: You are welcome, but . . .

    Honestly, maybe it’s time to leave UnkleE to himself Gary. He’s got it right, he and his scholars. You haven’t a prayer Gary. 😉

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    1. Yes, you are right, Zoe. Maybe that’s why after a few years, many deconverts, such as DagoodS, stop blogging. Our passionate message of truth and liberation from superstitions falls so often on deaf ears. We ask ourselves: Is it worth the effort?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it comes to DagoodS (in my opinion and I think you’d agree) the passion and commitment . . . well, it doesn’t get any better. 🙂

        DagoodS fought the good fight. I imagine he gave many something to think about. I think he’d say for him it was worth the effort. Effort can only go so far though. It can get terribly repetitive. After awhile there’s nothing more to be said from either side. I think if it’s enjoyable, your hobby and other things in life don’t suffer with all your effort, then maybe it’s worth the effort. Pulling out your hair . . . not worth the effort. 😉

        I think we have to remember that any passion about our truth discoveries and any freedom we experience isn’t falling on deaf ears. Not at all. I think it’s all heard.

        We can’t change anyone’s mind. That effort is theirs and theirs alone. Can we influence? Yes. Can we give someone something to consider and thing about? Yes. Can we change their minds? No.

        I like what Ark said about keeping the “argument simple and tightly focused.”

        I’ll share a story from my early days. DagoodS joined a Christian forum I was on many years ago. That’s where we first met. One day I wrote a post and DagoodS commented that I said in that short, “simple and tightly focused” post what he normally says in four pages. Sometimes (not always) but sometimes, less is more.

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        1. Well, said, Zoe.

          I in no way want to infer that I am criticizing DagoodS. I admire him greatly. He (and Bruce Gererncser) were instrumental in helping me to see “the light” of the silliness and dangers of supernatural belief.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaah, Senor Gary, you have the patience of Job(sic) mate.
    Yes, he is detested. He is one of the creme de la creme of sycophantic disingenuous apologist arses in blogland..

    There are several notable classics that showcase his ”talents” and there are a few corkers on Nate’s blog.
    I cannot think of any non-believer who has engaged him that has not run into this boorish, arrogant intransigence.

    My favorite is his debate with a bloke called Bernard over the ´’Nazareth’ issue on his blog. Unklee got his arse handed to him so many times on that thread and yet he was so pig ignorant he simply refused to acknowledge that Bernard has trashed his ”evidence” and his (gag) ”facts”, and was simply made to look like a fool.
    And of course he eventually pulled the plug, but not before making the usual allusion to the other party’s ignorance and refusal to accept the ”evidence” from ”experts.”
    I sometimes wonder if the word Dickhead was coined just for him.

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    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that Erik is one of those people who is unwilling to ever admit that he could be wrong. And every conversation with him is like a game of chess. You need to be constantly thinking several steps ahead of what you are currently discussing because you know that whatever question he asks you, it has been carefully calculated to lead you to a trap, where he can pounce and proclaim “checkmate!” and then walk away from the conversation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is often a question of terms, or semantics even.
        I just read the entire exchange and there is a lot of ambiguity going on.
        He will not allow you to get away with anything and will pull you up on every point which is why it is crucial your language usage is exact and leaves no margin for interpretation.
        I reckon your use of analogies leaves you wide open to an immediate slap-down simply because it is not subject specific. Your red corvette/walking on water example.
        I am not a great fan of extra long comments when it comes to trying to illustrate a point of contention and especially not with someone like Unklee.
        The thread meanders and one is forced to bring in this point and that merely to steady the ship.
        If you re-read the thread with”fresh eyes” you might now see how he was able to use your argument against you.
        This was why the bloke Bernard had him over a barrel over Nazareth. He kept his argument simple and tightly focused and anyone reading the thread will know immediately that unklee was forced to eat his words.
        On saying all this, I do agree with you, by the way.

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            1. I read the entire thread. Interesting discussion. I did not know that Josephus was the governor of Galilee. It is odd then, to me at least, that if Josephus did authentically mention Jesus in his writings, as Christians claim, he did not refer to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth”, a village within a stone’s throw of Josephus’ own hometown, Yafia (sp?). If Jesus was the big deal that the Gospels make him out to be, everyone in Palestine pre-70 CE would have known about the messiah-pretender, “Jesus from Nazareth”.

              I would be curious if any new archeological studies have come out regarding Nazareth since this online discussion on UnklE’s blog. If you know of any, post a link.

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                  1. LOl … Yes I remember this. It is not exactly the excavation I recall Dark working on which was underneath the Church of the Annunciation (I think but am not sure)
                    Look on Rene Salm’s site if you are up to it.
                    It’s somewhere there.
                    I read this piece a while back.
                    I am surprised they did not unearth Jesus’ baby potty and maybe even a wooden child’s rattle carved by his dad …. er … Joseph not Yahweh.

                    before long they’s find someone who can trace their origin’s back to one of Jesus’s playmates.

                    Like

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