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The Truly Sad Extent of Fundamentalist Christian Arrogance and Ignorance

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New Testament scholar, NT Wright

 

Online Fundamentalist Christian:  “Gary In the full context of [our discussion] I have based my argument on the readings from my private library and referenced such. One of my first purchases was in the mid seventies. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary is a favorite for its clarity of language and the fact that its contributors number fifteen denominational backgrounds, forty-eight writers and twenty-five Christian schools of education. In every case the writers of the Gospel sections proclaim their scholarly conviction that the writers were as named and excepting Luke were eyewitnesses to the events or having access to verified witnesses direct accounts. In the case of Matthew the Tax Collector the writer Homer Kent of Grace Seminary notes that Matthew by profession and interest was a shorthand scribe and familiar with numbers, accounts and statistics and very capable of capturing the Words of Our Lord contemporaneously in many cases.

While you have repeatedly argued for the vast majority of modern NT scholars as supportive of your position on writers and eye witness etc., you have never defined your term NT Scholars, nor the number and extent of such. Such argumentation is deficient since every seminary graduate is likely more schooled in NT than you or is an earned PhD required for such status. In any case you have no idea how many would be rightly included as highly qualified to render substantive opinions and certainly no idea of the statistics that

 

Gary:  I have given this Christian gentlemen multiple reliable sources which state that the majority of NT scholars doubt the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or associates of eyewitnesses and he absolutely refuses to accept this fact.  Now he wants to nit pick and demand that I define “NT scholar”.  Good grief.

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New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman

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Dear Conservative Christians, the Majority of Scholars Agree: the Gospels were NOT written by Eyewitnesses

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Keith, fundamentalist Christian:

[In response to Gary’s claim that Christian attorney and apologist, Simon Greenleaf, built a hypothetical court case confirming the historicity of the Resurrection based on a false assumption:  that the Gospels were primary source documents, authored by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses.  Gary had pointed out that, in a real court case, the Gospels would not be admissible as de facto primary source documents due to the fact that the majority of  “experts” (modern NT scholars ) do not believe that the anonymous authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses.  The court would consider the Gospels to be:  “hearsay”.]

If you are implying that Simon’s [Simon Greenleaf] expertise on the quality and admissibility of evidence is in question given that his book on Evidence is used even today in major law schools means you have no ability to judge the relevance of his works. I assume you are not a legal scholar of his magnitude and therefore have zero credibility in your rather silly assertion that he would not be able to admit the NT writing [The Gospels, specifically] into court.

By the way I note you commit the sophomoric fallacy of composition of two distinct concepts the scribe whomever and the source of the material being an eyewitness. As a CIO in the Fortune 500 years back I dictated my memoranda to my Exec Asst.which she took in shorthand and then typed. I signed it and no one questioned whether the material was firsthand though in the strict sense I didn’t write it and wherever my report was claimed as eyewitness or direct personal experience based there was no issue.

Further it is fallacious to note [scholar, NT] Wright believes in the raising of Christ which is one of the best accepted historical events and then conclude that that makes him absolutely authoritative on the question of eyewitness accounts as the basis of the texts, regardless of who penned the writings. I commend for your review the article on the instant case in The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics on Greenleaf of 288-289.  When you have properly grasped the Ancient Document Rule and associated Chain of Custody in the case of the NT writings perhaps your vision will be cleared. In closing your appeal to authority via Wright and ad populum support from UNIDENTIFIED SCHOLARS is less than impressive…perhaps even cherry picking.

 

Gary:

Good morning, Keith:

I have not read Simon Greenleaf’s work, but I have read the work of one of his pupils, Craig Parton, an attorney, graduate of Simon Greenleaf School of Law, Christian apologist, and co-author of at least two books on the subject of the truths claims of Christianity, “Making the Case for Christianity” and “The Resurrection Fact”.

In both of these books, Mr. Parton builds his case for the historicity of the Resurrection/the veracity of Christianity upon the assumption that the Gospels are primary source documents; that they were authored by eyewitnesses.

According to the majority of New Testament scholars, this assumption is incorrect. Therefore in a court of law, Mr. Parton (and Mr. Greenleaf) would first need to contend with the fact that the position they are defending contradicts the position of the majority of experts in the field in question. They would not get a modern, western, court of law to agree to a request to admit the Gospels as de facto primary source documents if the opposing attorney can easily present evidence that the majority of experts disagree with this claim. Parton (and I assume, Greenleaf) build an entire case on an assumption!  The majority of scholars at one point of time in the past may have believed that the Gospels are primary source documents, but that is no longer the case.  It would be no different than an attorney arguing in court for the earth as the center of the galaxy and appealing to the majority expert opinion which existed prior to Copernicus.

Parton and Greenleaf are using out-dated expert opinion.

Now, you and Dr. Strauss have brought up the issue of whether or not a document dictated by an eyewitness, but written down by a scribe, is still eyewitness testimony. I WOULD AGREE THAT IT IS! I don’t know where both of you obtained the misunderstanding that I did not.

However, that it NOT what the majority of New Testament scholars believe is the case with the Gospels. The majority of experts in the field of New Testament Studies believes that the authors of the STORIES/CONTENT in the Gospels (regardless of who wrote the stories down) were NOT eyewitnesses nor the close associates of eyewitnesses. They were persons living in distant lands who received their information from stories circulating about Jesus in their communities; stories which had been circulating, in oral form, for several decades.

THAT is the issue, folks. The majority of experts do NOT believe that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses or associates of eyewitnesses. It is irrelevant whether these authors penned their Gospels themselves or dictated their stories to a scribe.

Is it possible that some of the stories in the Gospels are historically accurate facts? Sure! The problem is, since the authors of the Gospels are unknown, we cannot know what is historical fact and what is not for the MAJORITY of the stories told in the Gospels. Did Jesus really turn water into wine at Cana? We don’t know because we have no CONFIRMED eyewitness source for this event.

Some of Paul’s genuine epistles are believed to have been penned (written down) by someone else, such as a scribe. This fact does not disqualify these letters from being attributed to Paul as the author. I accept that position. I accept that at least some of the letters of Paul are genuinely Pauline letters, even if they were written down by a scribe.

Above excerpt from this online discussion here

Gary, How Dare You Question the Morality of the Judeo-Christian God

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Conservative Christian:

Gary,

Indeed, in your worldview, God is not worthy to be called “Father” or “good”. But, in your worldview, it does not really matter whether God is worthy of being called “Father” or “good”. All these concepts are merely a product of brain matter banging each other. Goodness or Fatherhood in your worldview are nothing more than a by-product of electric impulses produced by a brain matter. So, I don’t get why you are so passionate on painting a narrative about God — that he is “selfish”, “evil”, “dictator”, etc. In your worldview, why would that even matter at all? “Evil” or “goodness” have no real meaning afterall. How can these ‘concepts’ have real meaning in a purely material world? Are not the concept of good and evil merely a result of atoms banging each other on our brain?

By judging God’s character or worthiness through a set of “standard” as if “goodness” can be defined and has meaning, you are actually borrowing from a worldview you seek to discredit to make your argument rational and sensible. I suggest to you that the very argument you made to discredit God, is the strongest proof of his existence. The moment you said, “I think…” — that is the end of your worldview.

 

Gary:

The Japanese have moral standards and they are not based on Judeo-Christianity. If you want to attribute humanity’s innate sense of morality to a Creator God, that is fine, but you cannot assign our innate sense of morality to the Judeo-Christian god as other cultures have moral standards and their cultures do not have their origins in Judeo-Christianity.

Animal studies show that animals who live in herds or packs have “morals”; they have rules of acceptable behavior for all members of the herd. Most mammals are “herd or pack” animals. In chimpanzee troops, for example, it is acceptable to kill (and eat) the infant of another troop, but it is not acceptable to kill the infant of a member of your troop.

We see this same “morality” in the Old Testament. The Israelites did not allow the killing of infants among the Israelites, but killing the infants of their enemies was perfectly acceptable, and moral.

Animals studies indicate that many animal species, including humans, have rules of behavior (morals) for the herd, pack, or troop. This is a by product of evolution and natural selection. The herds in which individuals follow the rules of the herd (they look out for the well-being of others in the herd) are more likely to survive than herds in which everyone looks out for himself.

Morality is biology, not theology.

I condemn the immorality of your (imaginary) god by the moral standards of my “herd”.

God is So Good! (Remember that Sunday School Song?)

Fundamentalist Christian Pastor:

The Lord is longsuffering, and not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. The context of 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that this is why the Lord appears to delay His coming – it is His longsuffering and love for humanity. It is not His will that anyone would pay the penalty for their own sin – this is why the Lord came in the likeness of sinful flesh – to pay the just penalty for sin on our behalf. He is not the fictitious unjust judge you make him out to be, Gary. Rather, He is the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Our Bible is the story of, as one writer put it, the unfolding drama of redemption.

 

Gary:

Hi Peter C.,

You said, ” He is not the fictitious unjust judge you make him out to be, Gary. Rather, He is the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. Our Bible is the story of, as one writer put it, the unfolding drama of redemption.”

Let’s take a look at the alleged facts of your belief system to see if your god is the loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing being that you believe him to be:

-He is a perfect, all-knowing, eternal, all-powerful being.

-After existing for countless millennia, he decides at some point he wants to create a universe, and on one small planet in that vast universe, he wants to create little creatures, some of whom he will create in his image (humans).

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-He decides he wants to give these little “mini-me”s a free will. Why? If the Bible is correct, believers will live forever as perfect beings (without a free will to sin). Therefore for the overwhelming majority of one’s existence, you will NOT have a free will. So why did Yahweh create a free-will in humans? For our benefit or for his benefit? Being perfect (a robot?) can’t be too bad if Yahweh determined that believers will spend most of their existence in this state, so why not just create us perfect and incapable of sinning in the Garden of Eden??? The answer is obvious: Giving us a free will was for YAHWEH’S benefit: He needed someone to love him, or worse, he needed something to play with.

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-He created the universe and humans knowing full well that within a short period of time he would drown the overwhelming majority of them in a Flood. He created humans knowing that the overwhelming majority would end up in the fires of Hell (“broad is the path to destruction…”). Yet he created us anyway. How can anyone with any sense of rationality believe that Creation was for OUR benefit?

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-He placed a tree of temptation right in the middle of the garden where the humans would have to pass by it frequently and face temptation. Why create the tree to begin with? But why put it in the middle of the Garden?? And why allow an evil serpent (or the devil) to have access to these humans to tempt them? It is almost as if Yahweh WANTED the humans to fail.

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-But we all know what happened, the humans ate Yahweh’s forbidden fruit, and he condemned them to a life of hard labor and the prospect of an eternity burning in Hell fire (or whatever your brand of Christianity claims happens in Hell).

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-This curse is passed down to every human being. Yahweh punishes children for the sins of their great, great, great, etc., etc.,…grandparents. That is not just.

-After allowing humanity to suffer in misery for thousands of years, most of them presumably going to Hell when they died, Yahweh decides to send himself, in the form of his son, to be born of Jewish virgin, who was impregnated by Yahweh’s holy ghost, to live for circa 33 years as a human, and then die an excruciating death on a tree…to atone for…our ancient ancestor’s sin of forbidden-fruit-eating and for our sins which according to the doctrine of original sin, we couldn’t help but commit. Yahweh had inserted into our “DNA”.

And you call these deeds the acts of a loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing being, Peter??? By any standard, he is a selfish, sadistic, monster. If this story is true, we must grovel on our knees to him, worship him, and obey him as our Master and Dictator. But no human being with a thinking brain should say that this being is “good”. No thinking human being should call this being “Father”.

Above is an excerpt from a discussion on NT scholar Daniel Wallace’s blog.

Yes, Jesus is Coming…very, very Soon

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The Rapture

 

Erin, fundamentalist Christian:

Gary:

You may actually have the opportunity to witness the fulfillment of bible prophecy that is not yet fulfilled according to a dispensationalist view of the scriptures.

In Ezekiel 38-39, there is an attack on Israel by a coalition of nations that many commentators identify as Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia), and Turkey (Gomer). Some commentators place the attack before the tribulation, such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Today we see a cooperative relationship between Russia and Iran, and one forming with Turkey. And, with the Syrian conflict, Russia has been able to place itself in Syria, Israel’s bordering northern neighbor.

If Dr. Fruchtenbaum is correct that it precedes the tribulation, then the opportunity to witness it would be even sooner than those who place the attack in the tribulation. Furthermore, you have already been a witness to, although unwittingly, the regathering of Israel from among the nations, which Dr. Fruchtenbaum points out is a two phased regathering. One phase before the tribulation, which has been in progress, and the second phase coming after the tribulation. Also, Jerusalem becoming a burdensome stone to the nations. But, then if men are able to rise up in rebellion at the end of a thousand year kingdom, with the Christ ruling from Jerusalem, and the knowledge of the Lord filling the earth, I don’t hold out much hope that you will be able to perceive the fulfillment of prophecy in your day.

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Gary:

Hi Erin,

I am the son of an independent, KJV only, pre-millennial, fundamentalist Baptist preacher. I am 56 years old. I grew up being taught that the Second Coming would occur before the generation passed that saw the establishment of the state of Israel. I was told that this event was an absolute certainty. Jesus HAD to come back sometime prior to 1988 because that it was the passage says.

Guess what?

Jesus didn’t come back.

I also grew up hearing about Gog and Magog and that the “ten horns” were the Common Market, etc., etc.. I listened spell-bound to Christian evangelists preaching doom and gloom and that the “End of World is Nigh”.  My grandmother said that when she was growing up in the 1930’s the fundamentalists would go out and stand on the haystacks expecting the Rapture to occur…only to be disappointed…once again.

Did you know that in the year 1,000 AD, many Christians believed that the Second Coming would occur. It didn’t…

It’s a silly ancient tale, Erin. I strongly encourage you to abandon ancient superstitions and embrace Reason, Science, and the Enlightenment.

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Is it Me, or is this Christian Blogger’s Thinking Illogical?

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Gary:

I have pointed out to you, Mike, that it isn’t just agnostic and atheist scholars who doubt that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels. The majority of NT scholars are Christian, and even if we ignore the scholars who are liberal Christians, there are Christian scholars such as NT Wright who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus who would still refuse to agree with your claim that we can be confident that eyewitnesses definitely wrote the Gospels.

You are trying to paint all scholars who disagree with your position as biased, but how in the world can you accuse someone like NT Wright of being biased???

The truth is that currently the claim that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels stands on very shaky ground even if it is 51% against and 49% in favor. (I would bet it is something more like 80/20). If even experts who are proponents of the bodily resurrection of Jesus are now stating that they are uncertain as to the authorship of the Gospels, your claim that I am biased for not accepting your claim of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is a gross exaggeration.

Christian Blogger:

Gary, why is it that when I point out a logical fallacy in your reasoning you continue to use the fallacious argument? I have pointed out that the lack of certainty of the author is not the same as not being an eyewitness. You even acknowledge that as true, but then you make the same false parallel in your last paragraph above. It is frustrating trying to dialogue with you because you continue to make the same logical mistakes even when pointed out to you and even when you acknowledge the veracity of the logic.

If I know that eyewitness testimony was written down by an unknown scribe, the testimony is eyewitness, nonetheless. Your claim that not knowing the author is the same as not having eyewitness testimony is just fallacious. Please do not use such fallacious reasoning again if you want to have a reasonable dialogue.

 

Gary:  In a court of law, not knowing the source of the alleged eyewitness testimony nor who wrote down the alleged eyewitness testimony and knowing for sure that the testimony is not that of an eyewitness is ultimately the same thing:  hearsay.  I don’t understand your thinking at all, Mike.   Imagine an attorney making this statement to a judge:

“Your Honor, I want to present eyewitness testimony, however, I can’t identify the eyewitness nor can I identify who wrote down the testimony of the eyewitness.  But I am sure it is eyewitness testimony and therefore it should be admissible in your court.”

Seriously???

Who is being illogical here?

The majority of all NT scholars (conservatives, moderates, and liberals) believe that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses.  (Here is a link to all the sources which state that this is the current state in New Testament scholarship:  here)  If you then add to that the number of NT scholars who are uncertain about the authorship of the Gospels, we have an even larger majority of NT scholars who disagree with Mike, a Christian blogger, who claims that Christians can be certain that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.  And the fact that scholars such as NT Wright, a favorite scholar among conservative Christians due to his belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, are uncertain as to the authorship of the Gospels shows just how shaky is Mike’s claim that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses.  It also contradicts Mike’s previous claim that scholars who doubt that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels are “biased” against the supernatural.  How can NT Wright be biased against the supernatural when he believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

Why is that so hard for Mike to understand?

Is Evolution a Fact or just a Theory?

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Many conservative Christians seem to believe that just because Evolution is referred to as a “theory” that this means it is just the opinion of a few (godless) scientists.  That is not the case.  Read this excerpt from an article by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine:

 

Is Evolution a Theory or a Fact?

It is both. But that answer requires looking more deeply at the meanings of the words “theory” and “fact.”

© PhotoDisc In everyday usage, “theory” often refers to a hunch or a speculation. When people say, “I have a theory about why that happened,” they are often drawing a conclusion based on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence.

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

Many scientific theories are so well-established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence. However, like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously.

 

Source:  http://www.nas.edu/evolution/TheoryOrFact.html