If Christianity is True, Why Does it Need So Many Apologists to Prove It?

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Copied from John Loftus blog, Debunking Christianity:

Meta-apologetics is concerned with apologetical issues, especially with regard to which apologetics method is the best one for defending the Christian faith, if one exists at all. I’m introducing a previously ignored meta-apologetical problem for Christian apologists to answer, if they can answer it at all. It constitutes a serious problem aimed at the whole apologetical enterprise. Why does it take so much effort and sophisticated knowledge to defend the Christian faith?

The probability that the Bible is God’s word is inversely proportional to the amount of work it takes Christian apologists to defend it from objections to the contrary (that is, the more work its defense requires, the less likely the Bible is God’s word), and it requires way too much work to suppose that it is.

Consider the sheer numbers of Christian apologists/scholars and books that have been published by the following author/editors: C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Paul Copan, Alvin Plantinga, N.T. Wright, Chad Meister, J.P. Moreland, Gregory Boyd, Gary Habermas, Steven Cowan, Douglas Groothuis, Peter van Inwagen, Randal Rauser, Michael Murray, William Dembski, Richard J. Bauckham, Michael Brown, Dan Wallace, D.A. Carson, G.K. Beale, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans, Stephen Davis, Donald Guthrie, Ralph Martin, Richard Hess, Dinesh D’Souza, and Timothy Keller to name some of the more noteworthy ones. While some of these authors deal with the same issues most of their material is unique to them, for further defending their faith. If we add in their magazine and journal articles we already have a small library of works. If we were to get and read the references they quote from we have a whole library of works in defense of the Christian faith, a comprehensive case. That’s what a comprehensive apologetic requires. The important question left unaddressed by them, as always, is why a defense requires so many books? Why does Christianity need such a defense at all?

The fact that it takes so much work to defend Christianity is a strong indicator, all by itself, that the Christian God does not exist, or he doesn’t care if we believe.
End.
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59 thoughts on “If Christianity is True, Why Does it Need So Many Apologists to Prove It?

  1. re: “The fact that it takes so much work to defend Christianity is a strong indicator, all by itself, that the Christian God does not exist, or he doesn’t care if we believe.”

    O.M.G. this is rich. I gotta send this to my old Intro to Logic professor…

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    1. Your indoctrination (brain-washing) is what is “rich”.

      If another religion needed hundreds of apologists and thousands of apologetics books to explain and defend the veracity of the religion’s supernatural claims, I will bet that you would use this as evidence that the evidence for this religion’s claims is weak.

      And let’s point out something very important: Jesus never told the people in the crowds listening to him to study philosophy or to read the books of scholars to believe. Jesus expected people to use the faith of a little child to believe his claim that he was the Son of God. Little children do not study books to believe something. Therefore belief in Jesus, according to Jesus, is not based on reason and education (knowledge). It is belief in the unprovable. It is belief just because Jesus said so. Yes, Jesus used miracles, but he allegedly said that people who believe without seeing miracles are more blessed than those who believe because of a miracle.

      The Christian religion, according to Jesus, is entirely based on hope, not apologetics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. re: “The Christian religion, according to Jesus, is entirely based on hope, not apologetics.”

        Not at all sure where you get the idea that the “Christian religion, according to Jesus, is based on hope”.

        Some questions for you:
        1. What is the percentage of the totality of professing Christians is “apologists”?
        2. What is wrong with being an apologist?

        Christians, themselves, need their apologists to explain things that are not easily understood by “the average Joe / Jolene”. Most of the “average types” don’t have an education in Greek or Hebrew, they don’t know what the Talmud is, they even get confused as to what “late” means. And certainly, they don’t know how or when the Passover was celebrated. They don’t know what is meant by “if a man has a good eye…” They have no real idea of what Heaven, Hell, Gehenna, Hades, Sheol or Paradise are (and are not). Once one gets past the most basic thing – the resurrection (which, incidentally, is something the Average Joe knows nothing about), then there is a whole big bunch of even less-understood things to figure out. So yeh, Christians need apologists just for themselves.

        What gets me is that you have a problem with that.

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        1. Nope.

          The purpose of New Testament scholarship is to study the texts of the New Testament using standard techniques for evaluating any ancient text; to understand the meaning of ancient Hebrew and Greek words and phrases; to understand the cultures in which these texts were written; and to share this knowledge with non-experts. Anyone, of any religion or non-religion, can be a good New Testament scholar.

          The purpose of apologetics is not to help people understand ancient Greek and Hebrew but to convince people to believe in the reality of specific spirits, devils, and other ghouls belonging to one particular religion. One is almost always a member of the religious sect for which one is “apologizing” (arguing in favor of).

          You have confused New Testament studies with apologetics. They are very different.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. apologetics: “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.”

            In order to make reasoned arguments in justification of Christian doctrine, one needs to understand the uses of language – Greek, Hebrew primarily – because English translations are piss-poor.

            One cannot understand a phrase like “if a man’s eye is good, his whole body is in the light…” without having a seriously good understanding of Rabbinic Hebrew. Thus, in order to explain this – to make a “reasoned argument” in justification of what it means – one needs to have done at least some study in Hebrew and in ancient Hebraic idioms.

            If one does not understand the meanings of Gehenna, Hades or Sheol, one cannot make any reasoned argument of doctrine concerning any of these “places” (or “states”).

            So, while a New Testament Scholar may indeed need all the language skills, etc, in order to teach those texts, and/or to teach about the culture (etc), an apologist may very well also need the same set of skills in order to explain or justify a particular doctrine.

            Unfortunately, the confusion is yours, thanks to your less-than-rudimentary reading skills.

            This pissing contest is over.

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            1. The difference between (most) NT scholars and (most) Christian apologists is that the former are trained to look at evidence in an unbiased, systematic, scientific fashion, the latter is trained to look at evidence through the lens of faith (a blatant bias). In scholarship, one uses evidence to form conclusions. In apologetics, one looks for evidence to confirm one’s faith-based conclusions. Yes, it may be helpful for the apologist to understand ancient languages and ancient cultures, but only for the purpose of defending one’s faith-based beliefs, not for discovering the truth, whatever that may be.

              Here is the way to tell the difference between a true scholar and a true apologist: If new evidence is presented that completely contradicts the current position of the scholar, he is excited. He(or she) gladly changes his position to align with the new evidence. In contrast, if new evidence is presented to the apologist which contradicts the central tenets of his religion or denomination, he is very distressed. Instead of embracing the new evidence and changing denominations or even religions, he desperately searches for ways to discredit the new evidence.

              I have respect for good scholars, even if they are believers (I highly respect Raymond Brown, for example). I have little respect for “good” apologists. They have zero interest in looking at evidence impartially. It’s always faith first, evidence second.

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              1. OK, this is a good clarification, and I appreciate the civil tone.

                Trust me, I do understand what you’re saying the difference between a scholar and an apologist is, but, I don’t find that difference to be true at all for the best of apologists.

                It would be true, though, that most apologists are apologists for a particular dogma, hence, a Catholic apologist will be committed to providing Catholic apologetics – arguments to support his/her Catholicism, and a Baptist apologist would be doing the same for Baptist dogmas.

                But, there are those that take a much broader approach, generally from a very philosophic view, to explain “mere Christianity”… C.S. Lewis was pretty good at this, and even while admitting to his own denominational involvement, he never bothers to defend his denominations dogmas (although, he’ll “own up” to them, usually humorously). Apologists like Lewis never put themselves in the position of having to defend a particular denominational dogma, but rather, concern themselves with a more “generic” Christianity, usually approaching it more from a philosophic standpoint rather than strictly theological.

                In short, I don’t think it’s as black-and-white as you think it is, but then, you generally do tend to see things in very rigid, even brittle, black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms. (and no, I don’t mean that as a slam. It is, though, an honest observation)

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                1. A good scholar accepts the evidence regardless of its impact on a particular religion. The same cannot be said for apologists, including CS Lewis. A good scholar will never ask you to use “faith” to believe his claims; an apologist will.

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                  1. “So why is it that so much debate over the central claims of Christianity persists after 2,000 years??? Answer: Because the evidence for the claims is so poor!”

                    Is it really a matter of “poor evidence”?

                    Tabor writes “We will probably never know with absolute certainty who Jesus’ father was, or what happened to the body of Jesus, or whether Paul “really” talked with Jesus after his death, but I prefer the “odd arguments” of the historian in investigating those matters, however inconclusive and speculative, to the dogmatic assertions of theology that are problematic from a scientific point of view.”

                    Here, Tabor admits to his preference – the “odd arguments” of the historian, vs “the dogmatic assertions of theology that are problematic from a scientific point of view”.

                    There could have been 5000 people mentioned by Paul as having seen the resurrected Jesus, and he could have named a bunch of them, and those he named could have written and signed “footnotes” to Paul’s letter in which they are mentioned, but, for some (if not many, or most), it would still boil down to “dogmatic assertions of theology” in their view. And yet, those “testimonies”, in and of themselves, are not theological statements at all. Paul’s statement of having seen the resurrected Jesus, nor those of Peter, John and James (which are attested to in the creed that Paul quotes) simply can not be taken as “statements of fact” by most people, because “dead people stay dead”. And therein lies the actual dogma.

                    I’m not sure the amount of “evidence” could ever matter to a person who already has a mindset that there is no Supernatural. That person would have to see the risen Jesus themselves before they’d ever believe it. But, the same thing could be applied to anyone who held to some other dogma: A person who believes in Krishna is not going to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead because, well, it goes against their own dogma. Certainly this same kind of objection would be true among the Muslims. And Jews.

                    Bottom line: I’m not sure what kind of “evidence” would ever suffice for a person who has already decided that a resurrection is an impossibility. So, in short, I don’t really think that the issue of “what happened to the body of Jesus” has much at all to do with evidence.

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                    1. There could have been 5000 people mentioned by Paul as having seen the resurrected Jesus, and he could have named a bunch of them, and those he named could have written and signed “footnotes” to Paul’s letter in which they are mentioned, but, for some (if not many, or most), it would still boil down to “dogmatic assertions of theology” in their view. And yet, those “testimonies”, in and of themselves, are not theological statements at all. Paul’s statement of having seen the resurrected Jesus, nor those of Peter, John and James (which are attested to in the creed that Paul quotes) simply can not be taken as “statements of fact” by most people, because “dead people stay dead”. And therein lies the actual dogma.

                      If we had confirmed testimony from multiple people regarding the alleged resurrection of Jesus, that would make the evidence for the central Christian supernatural event at least as strong as the evidence for the central Mormon supernatural claim. Mormons have signed affidavits of known people who claimed to have seen an angel. Why don’t most Christians believe these eyewitnesses? Answer: The same reason skeptics don’t believe the alleged Christian eyewitnesses, but at least we know that the Mormon witnesses really existed. Whether they were telling the truth is another story.

                      The problem with the Christian resurrection claim is that we do not have confirmed eyewitness testimony, only hearsay. We have no idea if Paul verified the “five hundred witnesses” story. It is entirely possible that Paul said that most of these witnesses were still alive simply because that is what Paul had been told by another non-eyewitness to this alleged event. The information in Paul’s creed is hearsay. We don’t even have evidence that Peter and James ever described their “Jesus appearance” experiences with Paul.

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                    2. Bottom line: I’m not sure what kind of “evidence” would ever suffice for a person who has already decided that a resurrection is an impossibility. So, in short, I don’t really think that the issue of “what happened to the body of Jesus” has much at all to do with evidence.

                      But at least we could have evidence that the alleged eyewitnesses really existed; that the alleged eyewitnesses were at the location of the alleged event on the day this event allegedly occurred; we could have confirmed eyewitness statements about this event. But we have none of this!

                      We have NO ONE who claims to have seen Jesus exit his tomb. All we have are statements by anonymous authors who say that the disciples saw the dead man alive again sometime after his death, two of these authors even Christians agree were not eyewitnesses, and most scholars doubt the other two were eyewitnesses. So we have hearsay from four anonymous book authors and Paul’s very brief statment: “Have I not seen the Christ?”

                      That’s it.

                      The evidence for Christianity’s central claim is poor. It is much poorer than the evidence for the Mormon central claim. The fact that most Christians doubt the Mormon claim, even though Mormons have confirmed eyewitness statements about the event, proves that eyewitness testimony is not sufficient evidence for most people to believe a supernatural claim.

                      So by their own standard, Christians do not have sufficient evidence for a rational person to believe that the resurrection of Jesus was an actual historical event.

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  2. I compare this to something that does exist, like gravity. We spend a lot of time studying gravity, understanding it, trying to figure out how it relates to other forces and the shape of space, and such like. But there just aren’t shelves full of books trying to explain why it logically has to exist, or trying to philosophically argue it into existence. There aren’t churches to gravity where people go every week to have their faith in the existence of gravity reinforced. Real things don’t need that.

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  3. “Real things don’t need that.”

    We literally live in a whole societal paradigm that relies on constant reminders. Our very governments, with their constitutions and laws and court systems and “pledges of allegiance” and “national hymns” and political groups, civic groups, and so on and so on, almost ad-infinitum, all serve as “reinforcement” of things we (supposedly) “believe in”. Heck, for that matter, throw in “love”, “motherhood”, family bonds, friendship, and all kinds of other such things for which we have constant, everyday reminders.

    This may be one of the silliest arguments I’ve ever heard. Unless one thinks that things like societal values, patriotism, societal norms & rules & laws & identities, ideas of “who we are as a people”, and so on, are not “real things”.

    And, maybe they’re not “real things”, in the sense that gravity or water are “real things”. Maybe it’s true that the only “real things” are the things that happen outside of us, things over which we have neither influence or control. But, if that’s the case, then for the Naturalist (ie, one who considers only those things as “real things”), then neither are our thoughts “real things”; they are just “events” – movements of electrons or atoms through neural pathways in our brains, that just take place according to their own whims. And, we just think we’re thinking.

    So, yeh, if one is a Naturalist, then to that Naturalist, this argument might make sense. If one is not a Naturalist, then, it is entirely bogus.

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    1. But we’re not talking about abstract ideas like patriotism, or even motherly love. That’s quite a red herring. (And I don’t need preaching or constant reminding for me to love my kids!) We’re talking about the existence or non-existence of an omnimax god. That’s a question about reality, not about societal norms. If there’s an omnimax god out there, then it’s a real thing exactly the way that gravity is a real thing. And we should be able to investigate it, either directly, or by it’s influence on the rest of our natural world. If it’s real, then apologetics aren’t necessary.

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      1. Ubi –

        re: “And we should be able to investigate it, either directly, or by it’s influence on the rest of our natural world”

        I’m all for that.

        Might have to do it in the same fashion the Higgs boson was “discovered”, though. As you probably know, the Higgs boson was proposed by Higgs because he determined that there were too many other things in physics that didn’t work in the absence of such a boson.

        The existence of the boson was confirmed by experiments using the Cern Supercollider, but, those experiments didn’t really detect the boson itself. Rather, it detected a predicted reaction that could occur only if the boson were present. In other words, it’s existence was inferred from the experiment.

        So, as a starting point, one might ask “is there anything that exists that could not exist without a “supernatural being” also existing?

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        1. And how would you tell the difference between “This exists because of a supernatural being” and “This exists because of a natural cause that we have not yet discovered”? Because there have been a lot of cases throughout history where people initially thought a supernatural being was causing something, but later we found the actual causes, and they weren’t magic. Thor didn’t cause thunder, Poseidon didn’t cause tides, and the Sun wasn’t being pushed across the sky by a giant scarab. You’d need a method for identifying actual intervention from a god, instead of just using a god as a replacement for “I don’t know”.

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  4. This line of “reasoning” is so ridiculous. “IF Christianity is untrue, why does it need so many websites and blogs to discredit it?”

    It also seems as if anyone saying that has no clue about the debates in science at any given time on a wide range of topics. In mathematics and physics the whole idea of string theory has been hotly debated.

    So yeah. This blog has long been reduced to vacuous posts. This continues the trend. Blessings

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    1. Exactly, Liam! When scientists are unsure of a claim (the evidence is unclear), they debate it. When a claim is no longer debated, that means that the evidence is either so strong for it or against it that no further debate is needed. For instance, scientists stopped debating the Law of Gravity a long time ago.

      So why is it that so much debate over the central claims of Christianity persists after 2,000 years??? Answer: Because the evidence for the claims is so poor!

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      1. “For instance, scientists stopped debating the Law of Gravity a long time ago.”

        Yes. There’s no doubt that the phenomenon we call gravity is a real thing. There’s still debate about exactly what gravity is because general relativity is incompatible with quantum mechanics. If only we had that kind of confidence about the Christian claims for the existence of God, or even the supernatural.

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  5. Gary –

    re: “… [ Mormons signed affidavits ] … proves that eyewitness testimony is not sufficient evidence for most people to believe a supernatural claim.

    And, yeh, that’s basically what I was saying. I really don’t know what kind of “evidence” could ever convince (for example) an avowed atheist that Jesus rose from the dead — UNLESS, he saw the resurrected Jesus himself. And even then – even if this “sighting” involved more that mere “sight”, but also conversation, physical contact, and essentially any and all other components of what one might expect in a meeting with any living being – it would still serve as “evidence” only to the atheist that had experienced it. Other atheists would still dismiss it, claiming it to have been hallucination (or some other similar type of experience).

    For many of those that were already open to the idea of a “supernatural”, such a testimony (as that of the formerly-mentioned “atheist who saw Jesus”) might not be immediately thrown out, but, still, would eventually (maybe fairly quickly) be rejected because of other, already-held notions — ie, the “listener” is a Hindu or a Jew (as examples) and their current “belief paradigm” just won’t allow for such a resurrection.

    Lastly, to those that had themselves had a similar experience, such “evidence” would be affirming of their own individual experiences. But then, if their own experiences were already sufficient to cause them to believe in “Jesus, resurrected”, then such affirmation would merely be “nice”, but not necessary.

    So, what we’ve got is Jesus crucified, an empty tomb, then James, the brother of Jesus, telling the rest of the family (whether Mom and siblings, or, just uncles and cousins) that Jesus was resurrected. How do we know James was telling anybody this? He was the head of the church at Jerusalem, and his very presence in that position stated his belief that Jesus was resurrected (unless one wishes to believe that the early church didn’t believe Jesus was resurrected – but – scant few scholars would agree to that).

    Did Peter and John tell Paul that they too had seen Jesus resurrected? Most historians would agree that this is the most plausible scenario, realizing that it was highly implausible that Paul could write that Peter and John “augmented me [my gospel] not” (as it says in Greek) – thus signifying that they agreed with Paul’s gospel – unless they had, in fact, talked about it. (and yes, Gary, this is the way real historians work. They don’t require the hard, brittle, inflexible, black-and-white, all-or-nothing level of “proof” that you seem to require. They use their reasoning).

    So, most historians would agree that Peter, James and John all also claimed “Jesus, resurrected”, and these days, most historians would agree that they believe that this trio at least saw something that led them to believe that Jesus was resurrected.

    It always gets down to this: Did they really see a resurrected Jesus, or was it hallucination. That’s what it always boils down to. Unless one believes in some version of the “swoon theory” (which has long been dismissed), then, there’s no other options, except that Peter, James, John and Paul all willingly lied (which is another thing that most modern historians reject).

    Real interactions with a real and resurrected Jesus, or hallucinations? That’s what it always boils down to.

    I personally believe it was real interactions with a real and resurrected Jesus, because unless a person is mentally ill in some fashion, they figure out their hallucinations pretty quickly: Hallucinations never “match up” to real life. I hallucinated my very beloved, and deceased dog – and – even though in the moment, I “believed” my dog to be with me, real life quickly set in: My dog had died. So, it must have been an hallucination, even though it was very real to me, at the time. Same thing happens with people who hallucinate their deceased spouse or other loved-one. Such an hallucination only serves, ultimately, to remind them that the deceased loved-one is still quite dead.

    So, that leaves us with those that continue to believe their hallucinations are real – such as schizophrenics.

    What are the odds that Peter, James, John and Paul were all schizophrenics, or all had some other type of mental illness that caused them to be unable to distinguish between hallucinations (or, dreams, or nightmares) and real life?

    I would think it to be extremely small odds. Especially given the very sane and rational writings, and the highly-social nature and highly-engaged-in-relationships nature of Paul. This is not at all consistent with the schizophrenic or with someone with some other mental illness that would cause him to believe his own hallucinations were real — a person so out of touch with reality that he could continue to say “I’ve seen Jesus resurrected”, despite the (normally) overwhelming fact that “dead people stay dead” (which everybody knows).

    But, that’s me. shrug. What can I tell ya?

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    1. It always gets down to this: Did they really see a resurrected Jesus, or was it hallucination. That’s what it always boils down to. Unless one believes in some version of the “swoon theory” (which has long been dismissed), then, there’s no other options, except that Peter, James, John and Paul all willingly lied (which is another thing that most modern historians reject). Real interactions with a real and resurrected Jesus, or hallucinations? That’s what it always boils down to.

      You’ve left out a couple of other possibilities:

      -Illusions: Maybe some or all of the people listed in the Early Creed of First Corinthians, including Paul, truly did see something, but that something was nothing more than a bright light or shadow. We have zero confirmed eyewitness testimony of anyone stating they saw a body appear to the them. We have zero confirmed eyewitness testimony that anyone touched this body or was touched by it. We have zero confirmed eyewitness testimony that this body talked to anyone. Bright lights could be the cause of all the alleged Jesus sightings. Yes, Paul believed in a bodily resurrection, but does one have to see a resurrected body to believe in a bodily resurrection??? No. Millions of Christians today believe in a bodily resurrection yet have never seen one. Paul already believed in a bodily resurrection as a pharisee.

      -Paul lied. Paul never met one single apostle. He claimed he did to give his own apostleship legitimacy. Many scholars believe that the author of Acts (and Luke) was a Pauline Christian. He may have intentionally or innocently perpetuated Paul’s lie. If you compare Paul’ story of his trip to Damascus, Arabia, and Jerusalem in both Acts and Galatians, you will find discrepancies. Someone wasn’t telling the truth or didn’t know what he was talking about.

      -Paul did meet Peter and James. They did discuss their individual “Jesus appearances”. And all three claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a bright light, therefore they were all in agreement. Why would Peter and James come to the conclusion that a bright light was a resurrected Jesus? Answer: Human beings come up with the wildest of concepts. Maybe James was the first person to experience an illusion. He was deeply depressed and feeling guilty about his brother’s death (he was no where to be found during Jesus trial and execution). A bright light appeared in his room one night. James believed it to be Jesus; a sign that Jesus had forgiven him. He told the disciples who told James that Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead. Over time, “rising from the dead” turned into “resurrected from the dead” and pretty soon, all the disciples and James were selling their properties and sitting around praying for the impending second coming (the completion of the Resurrection of the Righteous Dead, Jesus having been the first fruits).

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      1. I would argue that the conspiracy hypothesis, while extremely unlikely, is also a possibility (and much more so than the idea of a resurrection.) I don’t see any reason why it’s impossible that the disciples simply made up a story about Jesus being resurrected.

        Remember, according to the story they didn’t preach about Jesus’ resurrection for 7 weeks after his crucifixion. More than enough time that falsifying their absurd claim would be nearly impossible.

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        1. Christians of course will ask, “Why would anyone die for a lie?”

          There are a couple of possible explanations, here is one: The disciples had left their families and jobs to follow Jesus. They were broke. If they could convince others that Jesus had been resurrected, then they would be the leaders of the Church, and they could ask the people in the Church to sell all their possessions and put everything in common. Thus, they would have food and provisions, and would not have to work.

          I doubt this happened, but it is more probable than a literal resurrection.

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              1. Bright lights or shadows: even Ehrman would skoff at this. What they believed they saw was a Risen Messiah. Shadows and lights don’t sit on the throne of Israel. We’ve been over that a million times.

                Paul accused of being a liar and of visions: And Jesus was accused of worse. But neither accusations, nor visions (aka “waking dreams”) nor prophesies make a man either a liar or a lunatic. Paul’s writings also tell you that Paul was highly intelligent, highly educated, a high understanding of Stoic philosophy, a clear thinker, able to put together a well-constructed writing that showed highly developed skills of logic, rational thought, and with very much a “human” side to it. He could be persuasive, self-critiquing, not reliant on manipulation, a man with many strong and personal relationships with people of all walks of life. He was a man who was trusted and regarded highly, and if you’ll read either Polycarp’s letter to the Phillipians, or 1 Clement, you’d realize how “accepted” Paul’s teachings were among the first-century churches, and how highly-regarded he had become.

                Psychologists and psychiatrists say that people who experience hallucinations believe that they are real at the time and afterwards. – This is entirely incorrect.

                I want you to read just two paragraphs from an article about a discussion with schizophrenics, taken from healthtalk:

                “Many people talked about experiencing hallucinations: hallucinations are something that you hear, smell, feel or see – when there isn’t anything or anyone there to explain where it came from. As one man put it, “my senses misfunction”. Most of the people who described hallucinations had been diagnosed with some form of schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder. A few had been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. ”
                (cont)
                “People said hearing voices was like: “a song that keeps on coming into your head”, “it’s not like it’s your own thought, it’s as if something has been saying something to you”, “I could hear it from within me like my own spirit saying something to me”, and “it’s like my own kind of thinking but it sounds like it’s outside of my head”. One woman, who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, said she heard, “funny voices and noises” and heard “things which nobody is speaking”.

                Now, Gary, most of these are schizophrenics. But, what do you see in the above paragraph? These people are talking about having experienced hallucinations – and – one man says “my senses malfunction”. They’re talking about their hallucinations because they KNOW they’re hallucinations. That one guy even describes WHY he’s had the hallucination.

                That “one woman” (2nd paragraph) is totally aware that she’s “hearing things when nobody’s speaking”. She KNOWS she’s hallucinating.

                I could post you, many many times over, articles, paragraphs, and studies that show that the majority of people who seek treatment for hallucinations already KNOW they’re having them, and that’s what caused them to seek treatment in the first place. They might, very well, believe the phenomenon at the time, but clearly, the above paragraphs, in which people are talking about their hallucinations, shows that they become aware of their own hallucinations. And, that’s why they can talk about having them.

                Your understanding of hallucinations is, in my view, exceedingly simplistic.

                So stuff about bright lights, shadows, hallucinations and lies? I just don’t give any of it creedence.

                IF Peter, John, James and Paul were all schizophrenic (or some other mental disorder which could interrupt the normal process of reason) such that they all believed – like, say, John Nash (“A Brilliant Mind”) believed his hallucinations/imaginations, or, like a person who believes he is Napolean, then yeh, I could go the hallucination route. But, not all of them. In fact, maybe ONE of them. But, then, would the others believe him? Would James believe Peter had seen his brother resurrected? I so very much doubt it. James would almost assuredly be grieving as badly, if not worse, than Peter (I figure), and would probably resent the hell out of Peter for claiming that Jesus had come to him.

                I could go on, but I won’t. You get the picture. I’m sure you’d disagree, but, I don’t care… And, I’m sure you already know that…

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                1. They might, very well, believe the phenomenon at the time, but clearly, the above paragraphs, in which people are talking about their hallucinations, shows that they become aware of their own hallucinations. And, that’s why they can talk about having them.

                  The people you are talking about are people who HAVE BEEN TREATED!!! They have been given medication that helps them come to understand that their hallucinations and delusions are not real. These people have also been involved in psychotherapy, evaluating their hallucinations and delusions with a professional. There was no such treatment in the first century!

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                  1. Gary – as the first paragraph indicates, all these people weren’t schizophrenics. It was a discussion among people – some of whom were schizophrenics – and some who were not, about hallucinations.

                    The examples of people not having schizophrenia (or other affective mental disorder) that have had hallucinations and are fully aware of it are endless. You yourself have probably had an hallucination or two in your own life: thinking you heard someone call your name, seeing something out of the corner of your eye that wasn’t there. And, what happens, almost invariably, is that it is realized that what was just hallucinated, and thought to be real, does not match up to reality – and thus, is very quickly dismissed as an hallucination,

                    But, I’m not going to bother with this. You keep making totally unsubstantiated claims about hallucinations, yet, you haven’t even figured out that the reason we know that people with no mental illnesses have them is because they know they’ve had them.

                    In fact, this is the very thing that drives some people to get treatment: they become aware that they are hallucinating: what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch – doesn’t match up with reality.

                    “Think about your last dream… Didn’t you see and hear things that were not real? When you remember that dream, aren’t you remembering something that never happened?
                    That’s because dreams come from the same part of your mind. The difference is, people like schizophrenics aren’t sleeping when they experience this. They don’t get to say, “Whew! It was just a dream!” — Rick Cormier, Psychotherapis, author of “Mixed Nuts”

                    But, this is just going to turn into another “Gary argument”. It’s like playing chess with a pigeon: No matter how well I play, the pigeon is just going to land on the board, knock some chess pieces over, crap all over the board, and strut around like he’s won a victory…

                    So, I’m off of this…. You’ve had far more than enough time to do some serious study into hallucinations to know that it’s quite common for people become aware that they’ve hallucinated, just exactly as it’s quite common for a person to wake up from a nightmare, be momentarily frightened (from the nightmare), then realize it was just a bad dream. Hallucinations come from the same place in the brain…

                    So, this is my last post on this topic.

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                    1. For the sake of the argument, let’s say you are right: All people who have hallucinations later realize that they were not real.

                      So you are saying that it is impossible that one of the disciples or James had an hallucination, later realized that it was not real, but still persisted to believe that Jesus was resurrected? You are saying that a supernatural cause is more probable than someone hallucinating, realizing later it was an hallucination not reality, but continuing to believe that the claim made in the hallucination is true?

                      That is irrational thinking, in my opinion.

                      Human beings make very bizarre, seemingly irrational decisions all the time. You reject the explanation that a few people in the first century made odd, irrational decisions to arrive at the resurrection belief in favor of a supernatural explanation. I think the real issue is that you have a psychological or emotional need to believe in a higher, greater power and therefore you ignore the more rational explanation for the resurrection belief.

                      You have stated that supernatural events (miracles) cannot be investigated. If that is true, how do you know that ANY supernatural event has ever occurred?

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                    2. Yes, this does happen [realize that their hallucination is not real] to some people, perhaps half of people with hallucinations. It depends partially upon why the person is hallucinating. People with mental illnesses are less likely to have insight into the nature of the hallucination than others but they can also sometimes have the insight to understand that the hallucination is not real.

                      –Bruce Neben, psychologist, Carmel, California

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                    3. Why is it that when your keys are missing you assume a natural explanation, but when it comes to a missing first century corpse, you assume a supernatural explanation? I don’t understand the logic.

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                    4. Gary – A couple of responses —

                      re: “Why is it that when your keys are missing you assume a natural explanation, but when it comes to a missing first century corpse, you assume a supernatural explanation?”

                      Why do you assume that I assume anything at all? chuckle You love that word, doncha? You also over-use it.

                      What I believe is this: Of all the options offered for “The Mystery of the Missing Body of Jesus”, I believe the “Resurrection Option” is the most explanatory. It’s that simple.

                      re: “So you are saying that it is impossible that one of the disciples or James had an hallucination, later realized that it was not real, but still persisted to believe that Jesus was resurrected?”

                      Saying that one of the disciples had an hallucination, later realizing it was not real, but persisting (despite this) that Jesus was resurrected is like saying “I dreamed my deceased dog was still alive, but then I woke up and realized he wasn’t, but I still believe he’s alive anyway”.

                      Maybe you mean something else?

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                    5. No. I meant just what I said.

                      Do you believe that it is possible that a person hallucinates seeing their dead dog, later realizes that the “vision” of the dog was not real, but comes to see the vision as a sign from God that their dog really is alive? Isn’t it possible?

                      I would say that this is very, very bizarre thinking, but that there are plenty of very bizarre-thinking people on the planet so it is not impossible.

                      So I still don’t get why you jump to a supernatural explanation for the missing body of Jesus when there are so many plausible natural explanations. Even if we must put together a chain of multiple very odd, very rare natural explanations to explain the entire early Christian resurrection belief, isn’t this “chain” of evidence still more probable, based on collective human experience, than a never heard of before or since resurrection?

                      You don’t do this with your missing keys, do you? If you wake up tomorrow morning and can’t find your keys is your first suspicion that “God took them”???

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                2. So stuff about bright lights, shadows, hallucinations and lies? I just don’t give any of it creedence.

                  Of course you don’t. Why? Because you, for some unexplainable reason, believe that a supernatural cause for the early Christian resurrection belief is more probable than illusions, hallucinations, lies or a combination of other natural factors. To me, this is irrational thinking.

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        1. The difference between you and me is this:

          For all odd events, I assume that a rare but natural cause is much more probable than a supernatural cause. You, on the other hand, assume for most odd events in your life the very same: that a rare but natural cause is much more probable than a supernatural cause. However, when it comes to the early Christian resurrection belief (an odd event), you assume that a supernatural cause is more probable than several, possible, rare but natural explanations.

          The big question is: Why?

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    2. I personally believe it was real interactions with a real and resurrected Jesus, because unless a person is mentally ill in some fashion, they figure out their hallucinations pretty quickly: Hallucinations never “match up” to real life. I hallucinated my very beloved, and deceased dog – and – even though in the moment, I “believed” my dog to be with me, real life quickly set in: My dog had died. So, it must have been an hallucination, even though it was very real to me, at the time. Same thing happens with people who hallucinate their deceased spouse or other loved-one. Such an hallucination only serves, ultimately, to remind them that the deceased loved-one is still quite dead.

      Psychologists and psychiatrists say that people who experience hallucinations believe that they are real at the time and afterwards. Your personal experiences on this issue do not override expert opinion.

      I nor most skeptics believe that all or even most of the “eyewitnesses” had hallucinations. I personally bet that if an hallucination triggered the resurrected Jesus belief it happened to just one person, who was then able to convince others simply by the intensity and sincerity of his testimony. We know this is possible because Paul was able to convince devout Jews in Asia Minor of Jesus’ resurrection simply based on the intensity and sincerity of his testimony. None of them saw a resurrected body themselves.

      I will bet that most if not all the appearances were illusions: People seeing something that they sincerely believed to be Jesus but was not, such as a bright light or a shadow. Do a google search on people seeing a bright light that they believe to be some supernatural person (Jesus, an angel, God, a deceased loved one, etc.) and you will see that such experiences are very common.

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    3. What are the odds that Peter, James, John and Paul were all schizophrenics, or all had some other type of mental illness that caused them to be unable to distinguish between hallucinations (or, dreams, or nightmares) and real life?

      I agree. The chances of all of these people being schizophrenic or even bipolar with psychotic episodes is unlikely. However, the probability that four, highly religious (and therefore highly superstitious) people living in the first century had intense emotional experiences in which they believed that a bright light, a shadow, or gust of wind, was their dead loved one, friend, or someone they had persecuted appearing to them is pretty high in my opinion.

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    4. I would think it to be extremely small odds. Especially given the very sane and rational writings, and the highly-social nature and highly-engaged-in-relationships nature of Paul. This is not at all consistent with the schizophrenic or with someone with some other mental illness that would cause him to believe his own hallucinations were real — a person so out of touch with reality that he could continue to say “I’ve seen Jesus resurrected”, despite the (normally) overwhelming fact that “dead people stay dead” (which everybody knows).

      Simply from Paul’s writings we learn:

      –Paul was considered a liar by many people. We know this because Paul frequently defends himself against the allegation of being a liar.
      –Paul was a man of visions. Not only did he allege to have seen a dead man but he also alleged to have possibly (he wasn’t sure if this event had literally happened or only in his mind) taken a intergalactic space trip to a “third” heaven where he heard top secret conversations that he was not allowed to share with anyone.

      This sounds to me as someone who has mental health issues.

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  6. Gary –

    re: “You have stated that supernatural events (miracles) cannot be investigated. ”

    I have never once said that. Ever. I got no idea where you get this idea from. Probably an hallucination.

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    1. Haven’t you said that supernatural events (miracles) cannot be examined using the standard methods of investigating evidence used by scientists? If you believe they can, please explain.

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      1. Supernatural events can be investigated using the standard methods of investigating evidence used by scientists, but they’re just not. Science, as a discipline, just doesn’t go there.

        But, Science could go there.

        The Higgs boson wasn’t really “discovered”, per se. It was predicted by Higgs, long ago, because he postulated that there were too many other things that didn’t work in physics if such a boson did not exist.

        When they built the Supercollider, they were able to run tests for the Higgs. And, they’ve never actually detected a Higgs boson itself. Rather, they’ve detected reactions that can only happen IF the Higgs boson were, in fact, there. They infer the existence of the Higgs boson in this fashion. And, it’s a valid inference.

        The same technique could be used in regards to a God. One might not be able to detect a God directly (as with the Higgs boson), but one might be able to infer the existence of a God by finding something – some occurrence – that could not otherwise happen unless there was a God.

        There are many difficulties, though: One must first determine just “one thing” that could happen only if there was a God. But, one must also determine at what points – in time and space – can this God be expected to interact with nature. One must also determine what “reaction” would be expected to occur if a God existed (in the same fashion they determined which reaction to expect if a Higgs boson existed).

        So, it’s highly problematic. But, I’d never say “it can’t be done”.

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        1. I’m not talking about the existence of a Creator God. I am talking about evidence for the reality of any supernatural event occurring any time in our universe since the beginning of the universe. I assert that there is no good evidence that any supernatural event (miracle) has ever occurred in our universe.

          How the universe came about is still a mystery and therefore I do not exclude the possibility of a supernatural cause. I challenge you to use the Scientific Method to prove the reality of even ONE alleged miracle occurring within our universe.

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          1. re: ” I challenge you to use the Scientific Method to prove the reality of even ONE alleged miracle occurring within our universe.”

            I’d suggest you go challenge a scientist. My work is in another field.

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            1. Exactly. No scientist has ever confirmed the existence of a miracle using the scientific method, and you can’t/won’t do it because that is not your field. Yet…you are certain that it is possible to do.

              Convenient.

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              1. OH, WELL – in that case – sure, I’ll do the experiment. You gonna provide the funding for the research? The lab? The other workers? All those things that I don’t have, because I’m not in that business? And, what about paying for me to go back to college and get me some kind of PhD, so I’ll have the credentials? you gonna pay for that?

                Hey, I’m good with that…. Send me a check!

                Otherwise, get real….

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                1. So you admit that there is no evidence that miracles occur in the universe but yet you are CERTAIN that one occurred 2,000 years ago???

                  Do you not see how illogical your thinking is?

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                  1. re: “So you admit that there is no evidence that miracles occur in the universe but yet you are CERTAIN that one occurred 2,000 years ago???”

                    WHERE THE HECK DO YOU GET THIS IDEA FROM?????????????? I NEVER ADMITTED TO ANY SUCH THING. I think the very existence of the Universe itself is, in fact, a miracle – a willful act of a supernatural being.

                    Gary, are you drinking again? Man…

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                    1. You do not read well.

                      I concede that the universe may have come into existence by a supernatural act (a Creator). However, since the creation of the universe, we have zero evidence of any event which has violated the laws of physics ever having occurred. No respected scientific organization has ever said, “Yes there is good evidence for miracle X”.

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  7. re: “Do you believe that it is possible that a person hallucinates seeing their dead dog, later realizes that the “vision” of the dog was not real, but comes to see the vision as a sign from God that their dog really is alive? Isn’t it possible?”

    You’re saying the guy knows his dog is dead, then hallucinates that the dog is not dead, then realizes his hallucination was not real, thus – apparently – coming back to the reality that the dog is, in fact, dead — and yet, somehow, with this dead dog in front of him, an hallucination of the dog being alive – yet – then seen to be an hallucination – is taken as a “sign from God” that Spot, lying here dead, is, in fact, alive???

    Gary, I don’t know who would be more nutzo: The guy in your scenario, or YOU, for even thinking such a scenario is remotely plausible.

    re: “So I still don’t get why you jump to a supernatural explanation for the missing body of Jesus when there are so many plausible natural explanations. Even if we must put together a chain of multiple very odd, very rare natural explanations to explain the entire early Christian resurrection belief, isn’t this “chain” of evidence still more probable, based on collective human experience, than a never heard of before or since resurrection?”

    Just look at the scenario you’ve presented me with, above, about the guy who knows his dog is dead, hallucinates that the dog is alive, realizes he’s had an hallucination (because, his dog is dead right there in front of him) and still concludes that the hallucination – which he knows is not real – is a sign from God that this dead dog in front of him is alive.

    If that’s an example of an “odd natural explanation”, then you’ll have to excuse my supposed irrationality, but, if we had that same level of “odd natural explanation” for the case of the Missing Body of Jesus, then, I’d say a miracle is more plausible than that kind of nonsense. And, the fact that I prefer the “miracle” option just tells you one thing: that such “natural” explanations as your “dog” example are so wildly far-fetched that it’s easier to believe the “miracle” story.

    What I myself don’t get is why you think I just “jump” to a supernatural explanation.

    Gary, it was YOU who was a fundamentalist, not me. It was YOU who believed that strange occurrences must be miracles, not me. I’ve never had the “demons” you’ve had. I didn’t, and still don’t, believe what you used to believe. Don’t presume that I was anything like you were. YOU might have jumped to supernatural explanations, then, found that most of them were stoopid and unnecessary and irrational. Me? I’ve never had that problem. Decades ago, I re-thought the reasons for my beliefs, looking at these “natural explanations”, and I came to a very different conclusion than you. Years ago So, don’t go projecting your crap on me, as if you know anything about me.

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    1. This is what happens in every discussion I have with a Christian who believes that a small band of mostly uneducated peasants living 20 centuries ago came to believe in a resurrection because they literally saw a reanimated/transformed (“resurrected”) brain-dead corpse. They cannot see the irrationality of this belief and the irrationality of their logic that a supernatural explanation for this ancient religious belief is far more probable than all the possible natural explanations.

      It isn’t just me who thinks that this belief is nuts, practically every non-Christian on the planet thinks this supernatural belief is nuts and that the evidence for it is piss poor!

      It is a waste of time to discuss this subject with someone whose logic is so messed up by his superstitious thinking.

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      1. hey, as long as you’re giving explanations like the “dead dog” scenario, well then, sheesh, yeh, even a wild-assed miracle more believable than that scenario.

        a guy, looking at his dead dog, and yet still believing the dog is alive. C’mon, Gary, I think YOU need to get real. “oh, yeh, he’s OK. he’s alive! seriously! c’mon, Spot – speak!”

        good grief…

        Think of something better than that Gary. Otherwise, it’s YOU that looks like the loonie-tune around here…

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        1. That is NOT what I said.

          What I said is that the person:

          -sees his dog dead.
          -days,weeks, or months later, he thinks he sees his dog (but it is an hallucination)
          -For several days he believes that he saw his dead dog alive again.
          -At some point, he has insight into the event and figures out his “dog sighting” was not real. He realizes it was an hallucination.
          -However, this person is very religious and decides that the hallucination was actually a vision (something occurring only in his mind); and that this vision was a sign from God that his dog is alive again (but in HEAVEN). I never said that the dead dog continued to appear to him more than once.

          Similarly: One disciple had an hallucination. He believed it to be a real event. He later realized it was not a real event, but still believed that the event was a sign that Jesus was alive IN HEAVEN.

          I don’t believe for a second that over 500 people spent 40 days with a resurrected corpse. If this had been the case, the Jews and the Romans would have heard about it and would have investigated it. These people most likely saw “something” very briefly (an illusion or hallucination) and the “appearance” was over.

          You did not comment on my quote from a psychologist that only about 50% of people who experience an hallucination come to realize it was not real. I have studied this issue, and other mental health professionals agree with this point. So you are wrong: Not all people who hallucinate later realize they were hallucinating. A significant number of people who hallucinate continue believing that their hallucination was real.

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          1. re: “he has insight into the event and figures out his “dog sighting” was not real.”

            THIS is what you don’t get about hallucinations. One doesn’t have “insight into the event”. The thing that causes a person to realize they’ve had an hallucination is that the hallucination doesn’t match up with reality. In other words, when he faces the fact that his dog his dead, then he will see that he previously had an hallucination.

            It’s just like waking up from a nightmare: You wake up in a cold sweat, still feeling fear, but then, you realize where you are: in your bed, in your bedroom, in your house. Reality. And, it’s that Reality that make you know you just had a nightmare.

            But you don’t get that. And, that’s what’s so totally screwy about your scenario.

            If your guy realized he had had an hallucination, it would be because he knew, in reality, that his dog was dead.

            In your original scenario, you said NOTHING about the dog being “alive again, but in heaven”. So, you’re doing the classic “Gary Switch The Story” routine.

            I got no time for this.

            re: “You did not comment on my quote from a psychologist that only about 50% of people who experience an hallucination come to realize it was not real. ”

            I didn’t see a need to comment. Most people who have the most common hallucinations never stop to think whether it was hallucination at all. Every day, people think they heard something, like a far-off noise, when in fact, there was no noise. But, it’s inconsequential. So, they don’t realize they’ve had an hallucination. Or they think they saw something out of the corner of their eye while driving, so they put on their brakes, only to look and see nothing is there. It never crosses their mind to consider whether they had just had an hallucination or not. They just go on with their driving.

            So, yeh, it’s probably true, that out of all the huge myriad of totally inconsequential hallucinations that people have just through the normal routine of life, a good 50% don’t realize that the “noise they thought they heard” was an hallucination. It never crosses their mind, because it is, in fact, inconsequential.

            That’s what psychiatrists are talking about: they are talking about the full range of hallucinations, the vast majority of which go by totally un-noticed by the average person.

            So, there’s no great “revelation” in your quote. And, I’ve got exactly ZERO problem with it.

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            1. I’m a physician. You have no idea what you are talking about. Like many conservative Christians, you perceive yourself as the ultimate expert on all issues.

              This conversation is pointless.

              Enjoy your delusion.

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              1. If I thought the fact (if it is one) that you are a physician somehow qualified you to claim expertise in psychiatry and neurology, I might be impressed.

                But it is clear to me you have, at best, a rudimentary knowledge of hallucinations, which leads me to believe your medical practice (if you really are a physician) is pretty much limited to check-ups and flu shots.

                Let it suffice to say, then, that I am not impressed.

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