Accepting as Fact the Very Extra-Ordinary Claims of One Man, Whether He Be Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Paul, is Not Rational

Angelic handoff of Mormon golden plates to Joseph Smith took place 190  years ago today - Deseret News
Why reject this 19th century man’s uncorroborated claim of seeing a heavenly being but accept a similar uncorroborated claim by a man living 2,000 years ago? Irrational!

Accepting the testimony of one man, whether he be Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Paul, and building an entire belief system based upon the testimony of that man, is not wise. The validity of Pauline Christianity rests upon these uncorroborated claims by ONE vision (hallucination/delusion) prone man:

–Paul received an appearance of Jesus
–Paul was appointed by Jesus as an apostle
–Paul met with the two chief leaders of the early Church, receiving their blessing for his self-announced apostleship.
–Paul’s uncorroborated teaching that Gentile converts did not need to keep the Law.

Second, demanding that skeptics accept alleged majority scholarly opinion regarding the dating of the “creed” found in I Corinthians 15 to the 30’s in Jerusalem but rejecting majority scholarly opinion on the authorship of the Gospels, as most evangelical apologists do, shows a willful disregard for a rational, consistent evaluation of the evidence.

Belief in a once in history corpse reanimation/transformation (resurrection) based on minority scholarly opinion (consisting almost entirely of evangelicals and fundamentalist Protestants) regarding the authorship of the only books that tell this tale in combination with the testimony of one vision-prone man is not rational, I don’t care what sophisticated-sounding philosophical smoke and mirrors one tries to create.

I believe that the REAL reason that most evangelical Christians believe this very extra-ordinary claim is the subjective perception that they have an all-powerful, invisible, super-hero friend named Jesus who performs magic acts for them and gives them a sense of comfort and security.

Did Paul Go to Mt. Sinai? - JerusalemChannel.tv
Why do Christians believe the tall tales of this vision-prone man but reject similar claims by other religious zealots?

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End of post.

13 thoughts on “Accepting as Fact the Very Extra-Ordinary Claims of One Man, Whether He Be Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or Paul, is Not Rational

  1. Gary:
    –Paul received an appearance of Jesus
    –Paul was appointed by Jesus as an apostle
    –Paul met with the two chief leaders of the early Church, receiving their blessing for his self-announced apostleship.
    –Paul’s uncorroborated teaching that Gentile converts did not need to keep the Law.

    Me:
    That’s an odd list. Two of the items are “historical” claims – that Paul received an appearance of Jesus, and that Paul met the two chief leaders of the early church.

    The other two claims are just “theological” in nature. Paul’s teaching about Gentiles and the Law, and Paul’s claim of being made an apostle by Jesus – those aren’t “historical” claims at all. Heck, if you’re going to include non-historical claims, you might as well include pretty much the whole body of Paul’s theology.

    I don’t know of any modern historian that doubts that Paul had some kind of “experience” which he understood as an appearance of Jesus, nor do I know of any that doubt that Paul met Peter and John (and James) at Jerusalem. I think I’ll go by the consensus of historians on this stuff. Your own pained ramblings are interesting, but serve to show only how much you wish others would agree with you.

    Gary:
    Second, demanding that skeptics accept alleged majority scholarly opinion regarding the dating of the “creed” found in I Corinthians 15 to the 30’s in Jerusalem but rejecting majority scholarly opinion on the authorship of the Gospels, as most evangelical apologists do, shows a willful disregard for a rational, consistent evaluation of the evidence.

    Me:
    While many might “demand” that skeptics accept “alleged majority scholarly opinion regarding the dating of the “creed” found in I Corinthians 15 to the 30’s in Jerusalem”, I know I certainly don’t. I don’t know when the formalized Creed itself was formulated. But, it’s obvious that the info contained in the poetic Creedal form must have existed before Paul was converted: it was, after all, the very “info” (Jesus resurrected, Messiah) that the church was formed on – the church that Paul was persecuting.

    Interestingly enough, though – I differ greatly from most “believers”, in that I don’t give much creedence to the Gospels at all, in terms of historical reliability. Certainly, there are parts of the Gospels which probably do contain info that just happens to be historically correct. But, as most “skeptic scholars”, I realize those factual nuggets have to be gleaned from Gospels which are, generally speaking, more “theological” in nature, than historical.

    But, all that said, you could be right about Paul. Maybe he was just writing to people, saying stuff like “I met Peter in Jerusalem”, and betting that nobody would ever hear from Peter on the matter. Maybe he just “made up” having “seen our Lord” (but, then, we’d have to figure out what the heck led to his “conversion”). Maybe he was never persecuting the church at all, and again, relying on the belief that nobody could ever call him out on the falsehood. And, as long as we’re in this vein of thinking, perhaps, in fact, mythologists could be right, and there never was a “Jesus of Nazareth” to begin with.

    But for SOME reason – most modern scholars of notable repute – including skeptics, like Ehrman, Crossan, Funk, Tabor, and so on – all seem to think Jesus really existed, that Paul really had some experience that he claimed was “seeing Jesus”, that Paul really did meet Peter, James and John, and that Paul really was involved in some type of persecution of the church.

    I’m just gonna have to go with those guys. Your agonized and impassioned attempts to somehow get your readers to understand your great inner turmoil and rejection of (practically) all things biblical are impressive, in a sense. But, not impressive enough to make me think scholars such as those I mentioned have totally got it wrong.

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    1. All “scholastic” studies of the bible are nothing more than individuals who spend time and energy trying to dissect and analyze its writings in an attempt to “prove” one thing or another. And then they offer “their” opinion on the matter to the world at large.

      Interested individuals then reference these writings and choose the ones that appeal to them.

      It’s all a game of cat and mouse.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Comment is way, way, way too long. I stopped reading after the third paragraph. But I will say this: If I were Paul’s doctor, I would put him on bipolar medication. The poor guy had serious mental health issues.

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  2. re: “All “scholastic” studies of the bible are nothing more than individuals who spend time and energy trying to dissect and analyze its writings in an attempt to “prove” one thing or another.”

    re: “Agreed.”

    OH, OK… In that case, it’s perfectly FINE for someone to believe everything the Gospels say, and, to accept it is history.

    And, stuff like “Paul… had serious mental health issues” – I can just blow that off. It’s not even coming from a scholar. It’s even less worthless than that. It’s coming from Gary.

    But – now that I know you guys are agreed that scholars are not of particularly great value, then let’s dispense with their nonsense altogether: The Gospels were written by eye-witnesses named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and were all written before the destruction of the Temple. And all are historically reliable. Right?

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    1. If New Testament Studies were a field of general scholastic interest, a survey of the scholars in that field should result in a nearly identical religious cross-section as that of the society. The fact is that this is not what we see. The overwhelming majority of NT scholars are Christian. Just as the overwhelming majority of Koran scholars are Muslim and the majority of Book of Mormon scholars are Mormons. I believe that Nan is correct. Most people go into NT scholarship to confirm their religious beliefs, not simply out of general interest in that facet of ancient Near East history.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I did NOT say scholars are of no value. What I did say is they devote time and energy attempting to make sense of a several thousand year old book — and then they offer their “opinions” (based on their studies) of the possible message the original writer was trying to convey. Believers then pick and choose what sounds best to them.

      Sidenote: Paul’s mental health issues have been addressed by more than Gary. In fact, several of the scholars I referenced seem to agree that something was amiss.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. @PolycarpsScribe
      As you put little stock in the gospels, on what basis do you consider yourself a Christian, especially as the description/ belief of the physical resurrection of Jesus is the key element of the Christian faith?

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  3. Ark –

    There was a “gospel” before “The Gospels”. It’s core tenets were that Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, was raised up, and was seen by Peter and others. That they were talking about a bodily resurrection is clear from Paul’s authentic letters.

    What do I need an “artists depiction” for?

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  4. Nan and Gary –

    I’ve read your responses regarding “scholars”, and, again, I would suggest that, based on your responses, it is best to simply blow off the scholars. Neither of you have given any reason for anyone to feel “assured” that what they have to say is anything you can bank on.

    So – therefore – what are we left with? Basically, some old traditions that say the Gospels were written by eye-witnesses named Matt, Mark, Luke and John, and blablabla.

    you can’t have it both ways: You can’t, on one hand, denigrate the contributions of “scholars” (whether skeptic or believer), and then on the other hand say that the old traditions are wrong.

    You guys need to decide what YOU are basing YOUR opinions and views on. If it’s just some kind of “sense” you have – (which would be exceedingly subjective) – then I’ve got no reason at all to even consider your opinions and views, do I?

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      1. Really. Could you point out what “astute reasoning” you are referring to? For that matter, could you point out which opinions and views you are referring to?

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