Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When brick walls can talk back


This is from Secular Café, It's an excellent eampole of talkimg at cross [purposes. The topoic was historical Jesus. This one guy had already been talking about the evil corruption of the church as though that proves the myther theory. He did say you can't trust the church so Jesus is mad up, not the total lack of engagement,

[QUOTE=Kookaburra Jack;624447]
Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
automatically discrediting all evidence from anyone connected with the church in any way is not scholarship
Quote:Kookaburra Jack
The historical method itself allows for an evaluation that any given source may be forged or corrupt. When the church is regarded as an hierarchical organisation of men, it may be treated as a single source.
no it doesn't. charges of forgery are serious you just lob them at every passage you don't like.

Quote:Kookaburra Jack
Furthermore it is not an automatic discrediting, since it is based on the historical events in the history of the church between the 4th century and the middle ages.

First of all I don't think he named any as late as 4th, they were all fiom first (he named Tascitus) and second. Secondly, he named several of the sources used to argue ofr Jesus' historicity If Let him keep going I bet he will name everyone of them he

it is stupid it is ignorant it''s bias and it is a lie.
Quote:Kookaburra Jack
Between the 4th century and the middle ages the church organisation has been engaged in a whole Host of utterly corrupt activities. These include the inquisitions, genocides, executions, tortures, exiles, imprisonments, book burning, censorship, and literary forgery.
Metacrock: That is not cart Blanchet o assert any fool charge against any Christian idea. It has nothing to do with the issue of Jesus' historicity. None of the evidence is from latter than second century maybe some of it early third.

Quote:Kookaburra Jack
You are free to treat them as a "Divine Institute" if you wish, however as far as I am concerned the church organisation was utterly corrupt, and I have no obligation whatsoever to automatically accept any manuscript or literary evidence provenance within the archives of the church as authentic.
Metacrock: so you are just going to make up your own bull shit and treat it like fact because it's what you want. thanks for admitting what I already knew that Jesus mytherism is an ideological propaganda ploy to ruin people's faith and belittle belief it has nothing to do with evidence.

Quote:Kookaburra Jack
Do you?

If you want to be a good historian you do have an obligation to follow the principles of historical critical methods; why are you giving me this song and dance about the corruption of the church if you are not by that admitting that you have no interest in truth you just hate Christianity?

Quote:Kookaburra Jack
If you wish to view the Christian references in Pliny, Trajan, Tacitus, and Suetonius as genuine, that's your call. My call is that it is more likely that these references are not genuine and authentic, but have been fabricated in the middle ages by the utterly corrupt church organisation. I have listed timelines and sources. In iconic Orwellian fashion, they were motivated to control the past in order to control the present and future.
Metacrockyou do not base that upon any warrant at all. It's totally ideological.

Quote:Kookaburra Jack
We are, after all is said and done, discussing the church organisation. From the perspective of political history, this was an extremely powerful and lucrative monopoly BU$$INE$$ INDU$TRY.

OK that's another thing. I was a communist, a Trotskyite. there is nothing you can tell me about spotting class interest in a given text. It is totally ridiculous to base denial of Jesus' historicity upon your dislike for that church and your political ideology. One has nothing to do with the other.

Christianity began a working class movement. If Jesus existed he existed whether the workers were oppressed or5 the church was full of crap or not.

Originally Posted by Roo St. Gallus View Post
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
We are, after all is said and done, discussing the church organisation. From the perspective of political history, this was an extremely powerful and lucrative monopoly BU$$INE$$ INDU$TRY.
Indeed, in my estimation, it is the very exemplar of the venal conspiracy to control thought through deception, fraud, and terror.
Metacrock that proves Jesus didn't exist. It also proves he wore blue robes instead of white. that's a little fact they don't  tell you about. he also snorted when ye laughed now how could the son or God snort?

you really have just admitted a lot.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rational Warrant vs Reasonable Doubt

 photo cartoon5-listening.jpg

I thought this would be a good little diaoauge which tries to pin down exactly where the progress is vis Rational Warrant. I think the upshot of this is that the atheist is privileging doubt. It was from an exchange on CARM years ago. Idon't post on CARM anymore. It was an agument about the arguments  in my book, The Trace of God; Rational Warrant for Belief by Joseph Hinman (on amazon, see side bar).

"What's his face" on CARM

 your warrant to think God might not exist is not as strong as my warrant that he does.
Oh yes it is... Notice I offered just as much justification for my statement as you did for yours.[/quote]
hardly. where are your 200 studies? You don't have a single argument that works by deductive logic or model logic. you don't have any emprical evidence. you have not one single study to back up disbelief in god.

all you really have is suspicion that there may not be a God. you have no actual postiive reasons for thinking there is not. I do have postiive reasons for thinking there is.

*my reasons correlate with personal experience that back doctrine.

*they are lined up with the rationale of deductive reason

*they are backed by empirical data

*they give more than a prima facie reaosn for accepting the co-determiante

* I have 8 tie breakers that the RE argument away from naturalistic brain chemistry alone.

* my RE fit the criteria we use for epistemic judgement

less than proof is ok. it it doesn't have to be proof it need not be proof.

It depends on how less than proof. Can you say how less than proof your argument is exactly, and why? I would accept beyond a reasonable doubt, such as the Earth orbits the Sun, which your case does not reach.

I have 200 empirical studies. you have bogus arguments like "no scientific evidence" taken out by the 200 studies.

calling inconclusive is misleading becuase "conclusive" is in the eye of the beholder.

If, within the case you make "conclusive" is in the eye of the beholder, it's not conclusive.
any impartial observer would have to give it to the one that has either the empirical data or the deductive edge. tie breakers have to count.

most people's reasons for being atheists are personal and emotional and not satisfying for real thinkers.

No Meta, this is horribly wrong. It's all about standards of evidence. Personal and emotional are more in the realm of believers.
no it's backed by several empirical studies and mound of empirical research around the concept of God image and self esteem. not just that one Lesie Francis study.

Originally Posted by Whatsisface View Post
But all of the above is still inconclusive and does not reach the evidential standard of beyond a reasonable doubt as far as God's existence is concerned. This is my rational warrant, and the more you add to your side that's inconclusive, the stronger my warrant becomes.
now you are trying to bring proof in the back door. "Reasonable doubt" is not the limit on warrant. Neither is a reasonable doubt predicated upon a feeling of doubt. I don't think you have a reasonable doubt. you have a strong sense of doubt but how is that reasonable? It can't be backed up by reason. Yes you can give m e reasons but I disprove most of them.

It's going to reduce to a non demonstrable sense that you have in your gut vs. what I think are valid reasons that you deny as valid becuase they dont' jibe with your gut. then you are going to deny that it's intuitive and calim that it's "reason." In reality you can't ground your doubt in reason.

You are one of the few here who actually tries to make a case for the existence of God but surely even you would admit it doesn't take you as far as beyond a reasonable doubt? 

what makes a doubt reasonable? I have a feeling we aren't goign to agree. What role does reasonable doubt plain in relation to the warrant.

My feeling is warrant is permissive not compulsive. so I think it comes down t a purely existential matter. No one is trying to make you bleieve if you don't want to, don't. your not wanting to believe cannot be construed as disproof of my warrant for belief.

Can you see how you have not answered my question? 
no. I see a blank space there.

ok try it again:


I asked you this...
Whatshisface:...It depends on how less than proof. Can you say how less than proof your argument is exactly, and why? I would accept beyond a reasonable doubt, such as the Earth orbits the Sun, which your case does not reach.

You answered with...
Metacrock...I have 200 empirical studies. you have bogus arguments like "no scientific evidence" taken out by the 200 studies.

Can you see how you have not answered my question? You have not said how less than proof your argument is and importantly, how you know this. 

no not at all. It looks ot me like 200 studies is a lot more proof than no studis and mere suspicion. how much less, 200 studies less. that answers your question.

He has not proved that room for doubt, which does still exist, mandates doubt as an unalterable course, nor does that room negate the validity of the postive reasons for belief.

Get answers to these questions when you buy the Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for belief, by Joseph Hinman, available on Amazon.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Atheist Farm: More Orwellian


Remarkable admission on Secular Café. This guy completely reverses the atheist game of linkimg Jesus deity to his historicity and blames us for the same maneuver.

Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
Originally Posted by Samnell View Post
Of course I'm dealing with nineteenth century America, a culture that boasted a very large literate population and steam-driven printing presses. Documents are usually complete (sometimes way too complete) and relatively abundant. I have luxuries that Classicists would probably kill for.
Not to mention the mid 20th cy., as with George Adamski. I mentioned him to illustrate a common Xian-apologist two-step.

Here are the two main hypotheses about Jesus Christ:
  1. The Human Jesus (HJ): JC was 100% human and had 100% parentage. He worked no miracles and when he died, he stayed dead.
  2. The Divine Jesus (DJ): JC was a God-human hybrid, God, and/or 1/3 of God. He worked miracles, and he rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.

HJ is not an extraordinary claim. DJ is.

Now for the two-step.

The first part is to demonstrate that there was a historical JC. This can be either HJ or DJ.

The second part is to jump from there to JC being DJ.

But if one is to grant the first part while avoiding giving credence to extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, then one would conclude that it demonstrates HJ and not DJ.

Let's now do this with regard to George Adamski, someone who is MUCH better documented than Jesus Christ. The hypotheses:
  1. GA was a fantasizer and a faker: FA -- not extraordinary
  2. GA was contacted by ET's: CA -- extraordinary
It's very evident that the quality of documentation of GA is MUCH higher than for Jesus Christ. But to use the Xian apologist's two-step, one concludes that CA is true about him, while if one avoids extraordinary claims unsupported by extraordinary evidence, then one concludes that FA is true about him.
That's you guys with the two step:

(1) Jesus could not be the son of God because he want let me be God

(2) therefore, since there is no God  there can't be Jesus.

The reason you think we are pulling the same trick in reverse is because you demand that all truth and reality be reduced to your ideology, that's what ideology is, reduction of all reality to come view.

Allowing Jesus existence means the possibility that he was more than just a man has to be left on the tale and your ideology can['t allow anything but itself on the table.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jesus Project part 2:Orwell Hits the fan


On Monday I posted a piece about the atheist propaganda machine know as Center for Inquiry, and particular their attempt to create a Jesus project to dispute the existence of Jesus in history. The  plug was pulled on the project by R.l Joseph Hoffmann who started the project. His reason was that the Jesus mythers were taking over and using it as a platform for their propaganda rather than doing real scholarly work. They only went two of their five years. Yet they have been so totally effective the Jesus myth thing has just exploded. It's everywhere where atheist talk. There are some instructive lessons in looking at the Jesus Project. It's a lesson in Propaganda.

from the website of the project, one would think it's still going. The thing was canceled in 2009 and yet not a  hint on the website that it is not still going.

TJP scholars--among the finest on the world-stage--recognize the status and influence of the New Testament as a resource for Christian believers. It is particularly because of that status and influence that the New Testament invites the scrutiny of scholars who can illuminate its background, trace the origins of the movement that brought the documents into existence, and reconstruct the story of its leading figure. [1]

Present tense, they recognize as though they are still in session. They have had more than enough time to take it down or make a note that it quite work. Here's how they justify their propaganda thing:
The Project is also new in opening this investigation to a much wider range of "experts": its scholar associates represent not only professionals in New Testament Studies, but specialists in the social sciences, including archaeology, legal history, intertestamental Judaism, educational studies, Near Eastern studies, philosophy and classics. The Project expresses the growing importance of interdisciplinary studies and the "interdependence of knowledge" in contemporary research. For that reason, TJP emphasizes its character as a scholarly collaboration, a voluntary association of scholar-teachers who believe in the power of conversation and correction. (Ibid)

They are going to open up a wider range of experts, meaning, Propaganda merchants distilling thye party line, Note  the Orwellian aspects. As we go don they list we see more and more subtle changes from a scholarly endeavor to shameless propaganda. They do have some real scholars and even believers listed among their fellows. Yet they clearly stacked the deck to have Jesus mythers take over.
The Project will meet, on average, every nine months at academic venues throughout North America and Europe. Its meetings are open to the public, and in all sessions there is opportunity for free and open discussion. CSER, and the TJP, have traditionally maintained that scholarship is a public business--not simply a colloquy of the well-informed--and should be of public benefit. TJP will conduct its business accordingly. Prometheus Books will publish the essays and papers presented at its meetings on a regular basis. (Ibid)

What? Scholarship is not a colloquy of the well informed? Scholarship is not closed to the well informed. So one wonders how they use the term "Scholar" if it doesn't mean well informed. Let's open the seminar up to badly informed people just for the heck of it. Colloqqyy is a word they use in seminary to mean a discussion of scholars. "a gathering for discussion of theological questions." Webster defines it as "a high-level serious discussion :  conference." So we are going to have a high-level discussion with those who are well informed and he ignorant. "Prometheus Books will publish the essays and papers presented at its meetings on a regular basis. " Prometheus primarily publishes atheist materials. I tried to get them to publish my book and that's how I found out they don't  publish much that is not of use to atheists. What they really mean is they are making a place for those who have no expertize in Bible and who are committed to Jesus mytherism. That's so people like Carrioer who are teaching at university can be on it.



Paul Kurtz listed as a fellow. What expertise does he have in Bible? As you might recall rfrom Monday's post he founded the Center for Inquiry and helped to start the New Atheist movement. He is a philosopher but not a historian or Bible scholar. He's bound to be biased. I am not saying they did not have good scholars. But they stacked the deck with mythers, atheists and people they knew would go there way. Richard Carrier is an obvious example. He has made his career as a professional atheist. His career is riding high on the Jesus myth fad he helped to create.

Center for Inquary lists Roland Boer as a fellow:
Roland Boer previously taught at the University of Sydney, McGill University, the University of New England, the United Theological College, Sydney and the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of the following books: Marxist Criticism of the Bible (2003), Last Stop Before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia (2001), Knockin' on Heaven's Door: The Bible and Popular Culture (1999), Novel Histories: The Fiction of Biblical Criticism (1997) and Jameson and Jeroboam (1996).[2]\
Doesn't say what he teaches. Doesn't say What his degrees are let's see if we can figure it out. Here is his blog: Roland Boer's Blog: Marxism, Religion, Politics, Bible, whatever …[3]

Top Posts

His books are about the villainous church in oppressing the worker.
The economy ancient Israel. Call me reckless I am going to take a wild guess and saqy "Marxism." He teaches Marxism. I am not red baiting (I hate that) and I'm not saying as Marxist he has to be wrong. But it is very likely he has biases that make him not ideal to be in a project studying the historical Jesus.

The next one takes the prize. This guy is a study in things seeming what they are not. He has impeccable scholarly credentials yet his bias is blatant.Robert M. Price is a real scholar who is also passionately committed atheist. He is a soldier.

"Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry."

This book is an exceptionally well-written, informed and witty smack down of Christian attempts to deny the fact of evolution or incorporate it into their faith. The authors show us in this masterful book, the likes of which I have never seen before, that the implications of evolution are devastating for the Bible and the doctrines based on it. Absolutely brilliant!John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist and The Outsider

This is why I call Price a soldier, a soldier of atheism. He's got one of the most zealous atheist apologists, Loftus, hawking his books for him. Price is  real scholar and a good one, by both credential and skill but in my view he violates the basic code of the scholar. He is a soldier a combatant for atheism. That will become even more clear shortly. One of hia booka:

The Amazing Colossal Apostle the search for the historical Pail

The story of Paul is one of irony, the New Testament depicting him at the martyrdom of Stephen holding the assassins' cloaks……The stories were didactic tales meant to keep us reverent and obedient. As adults reading the New Testament, we catch glimpses of a very different kind of disciple—a wild ascetic whom Tertullian dubbed “the second apostle of Marcion and the apostle of the heretics.” ...Robert M. Price, in this exciting journey of discovery, gives readers the background for a story we thought we knew.
He is merchandizing. You can buy a price T-shirt: Bible Geek Donation Store. "theology with a twist but without the spin" The twist his he hates religion and doesn't believe in God.[4]

bottom left corner of his home page a graphic with Sater looking guy Zerathustra speaks[5]

Zarathustra Speaks
Proclaiming the death of God and the dawn of the Superman
Bulletin of The Sect of Zarathustra (former member, Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies 1999 - 2001)
The Sect of ZarathustraSheep in Wolves’ Clothing
The Great NoonShe's Not Chinese!

Monthly Essays Zarathustra Speaks has since been resurrected as RMP's monthly essay's
available as a free subscription through this Web site.

one of the essays Mausoleum of God. Accepts ossuaries found in Israel with names of Jesus, Joseph Mary and so on as authenthic with 600/1 odds. Holy Irony meter Batman he thinks if othyer bone box of James is reals it doesn't disprove this one biut disproves Jesus and thye Bible. zin otjer

But then, uh-oh!, this set of ossuaries would seem to prove too much! It would mean that, a la Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, Jesus survived or escaped crucifixion, got married, and fathered children—much as happens in Jesus’ dream-escape from the cross in The Last Temptation of Christ. No saving death, no resurrection. Yikes.

But it could just as easily mean the other one is fake, they are both fake, why can't he see that/? Here's the irony, the point of his essay: "Bible is no less victim to death by a thousand speculations than the blind gropings of unaided human reason. Because that’s all any of us have anyway, even if, like Bible preachers, you’d like to pretend otherwise."

Gee really ? Then what are his thousand speculations? They are truth and intellectual honesty like pretending  to be a  unbiased Bible scholar while fighting for atheism and making assertions as stupid as any the fundies make.

He has to admit Jesus existed to claim he has his bones. Ironic that he speaks of intellectual honesty because he doesn't have it, He uses his credentials to9 destroy faith by asserting that these are definitely Jesus' bones but he doesn't even hint that there is counter evidence No this totally a fact there's no getting out of it so Christian scholars are hypocrites. Here is what he does not tell you:

(1) The combo of names Jesus son of Joseph has been found on two other tombs this century,[7]

(2) Caruso said he was 95% sure that the “Lost Tomb” proponents had correctly interpreted the shin (Hebrew letter giving the “sh” sound in Yeshua), but could not be more than 10% certain of anything else other than “Jose 90.[8]

(3) Dr. Pfann said that the name is probably Hanun instead of Jesus. Dr. Pfann is the one who excavated the Nazareth farm. [9]

What does this say for jis honesty? For the scholarship of the Jesus project" of the new atheism. Of Bible Scholars in sheep's clothing?

[1] Website of Jesus Project, Center for Inquiry, URL:  (aacessed) 2/2/2016

[2] Ibid. page lists Boer as Fellow

[3] Roland Boer, Stalin's Mustache :Marxism, Religion, Politics, Bible, whatever blog

If I was J.P.Holding I would say he's a Boer.

[4] rmp, Rpbert Prices Hme Page URL: (accessed 2/3/16)

[5] Zerat5hustra speaks, Prices more discrete hard to see website

[6] Eobert Price, "Mausoleum of God." Zerathustra Speaks website by Robert Price URL  (accessed 2/4/16)

[7] Bauckham, “The Names on the Ossuaries,” 100.

[8] Steve Caruso, “The Jesus Son of Joseph Inscription Part 2,” The Aramaic Blog, March 29, 2007. Available at Accessed January 31, 2013

[9] Gary Habermas, The Secret of the Talpiot Tomb: Unravelling the Mystery of the Jesus Family Tomb (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2007), 39


Monday, February 1, 2016

These are the voyages of Jesus myther propaganda... (part 1)


It's five year mission, to seek out new lies and new propaganda slogans, to boldly go where no historians have gone before...

Years ago, way back in 2009 I did a post on this blog about the Jesus project, not seminar but project. They really did have a five year mission. Last week I did a post on the parent organization, the centerpiece of atheist propaganda machine, the center for inquiry (they do skeptical inquiry magazine). What came of that Jesus project? It's five years  were up in 2013. I said that the time:

"Cracking The Jesus Myth Phony Scholarship Code."
Richard Carrier has a couple of articles on his blog about a big conference for the Jesus Project
held at Amherst last December. O it sounds very scholarly. It presents the image of a group of major scholars meeting to mull over the lattes scientific findings that proving that Jesus never existed. This creates the idea that there is a climate of opinion in the academic world to expose the lies about Jesus as fiction and show that he never existed. But if you follow the trail to see where his lie originated, and the trail is clearly marked, one can see clearly that there's nothing scholarly about it. It's nothing more than a put up job, but it's no accident that the Jesus Myth stupidity though exposed time after time as bankrupt lives on and continues to draw in a group suckers who are hood winked into believing that they are on the cutting edge of scientific search for truth.[1]
guess what? They did not go five years. They were shut down in two. Why? First the head of the center resigned. In an article, "Expelled Founder Paul Kurtz Explains His Departure From The Center for inquiry," After going through a lot of "he said she said" about how he was treated it all came down to this:
While I am of course a strong defender of the right to blaspheme, as this is essential to a free society, I was opposed in principle to CFI’s sponsorship of Blasphemy Day and the cartoons contest, for they ridiculed religion and did not appeal to rational arguments. Moreover, I never intended for the organization to mock religion. Humanism has always stood for — among other things — the thoughtful and critical examination of doctrinaire religion. This has especially been true since day one of the founding of Free Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism when we stated unequivocally that our aim was to present a “sophisticated analysis of religious inconsistencies and their social consequences.” [2]
Gee now where Have I heard this before? It would seem this blog is vindicated in the assertions, the wild ridiculous conspiracy theory at the mocking and radicle is organized. That might just cast a hint of suspicion over the Jesus Project since it is a creature of the propaganda machine. Heres a dead give away, I have pointed out the Orwellian nature of New Atheism. [3] in the interview Kurtz says:

EV: Isn’t the refusal to publish your position at odds with an organization that calls itself “Center for Inquiry” or an organization that publishes “Free Inquiry“?
PK: It is similar to thought police. Alas! They refused to publish three of my editorials, and they refused to publish my statement regarding my resignation. What a contradiction. Even though I am the founder of the organizations, their position essentially was that I had no right to publicly express my concerns about the direction of the organization or the new management practices adopted under the current leadership — both of which I have grave reservations about. I consider this as similar to a Board of Bishops seeking to control its Founder.
That I Orwellian because in Animal farm the pigs take over and work Ben the sincere horse into ground until he dies, denying him benefits of leadership and excluding him from decisions. He is so committed he never notices. Kurtz is not the only one the New Atheists have hood winked. This get's at the reason the JP shut down. The project was started by John Hoffmann who is a valid scholar and fine historian. His academic credentials are impeccable. He also believes in the historicity of Jesus. Hoffman's own statement about why yhe pulled the plug:

Alas, The Jesus Project itself became a subject for exploitation: news stories, promotional material and the reactions in the blogosphere focused on the Big Question: “Scholars to Debate whether Jesus Really existed.” Given the affections of media, the only possible newsworthy outcome was assumed to be He didn’t. Such a conclusion had it ever been reached (as it would not have been reached by the majority of participants) would only have been relevant to the people April DeConnick ( a participant) has described as “mythers,” people out to prove through consensus with each other a conclusion they cannot establish through evidence. The first sign of possible trouble came when I was asked by one such “myther” whether we might not start a “Jesus Myth” section of the project devoted exclusively to those who were committed to the thesis that Jesus never existed. I am not sure what “committed to a thesis” entails, but it does not imply the sort of skepticism that the myth theory itself invites. [4].
Note that the only newsworthy conclusion was that Jesus didn't exist. That's because that he did exist is not news. So the majority of fellows of the project would have insisted the did exist, and the myther's biased the proceedings. I said the proceedings would be used propaganda for atheism and they apparently were. The real scholars did want to be part of that. I would like to know how they got involved with the Center for Inquiry. I'm sure the majority including Hoffmann did not set out to produce atheist propaganda. The rub, Hoffmann himself sums it up as to why this venture failed and why others like it will fail: "But the chief reason that it is....because they are examples of the perils of false collaboration: an incoherent anthology of opinion derived from the private prejudices and objectives of Jesus-makers." (emphasis mine).

[1] Metacrock,"Cracking The Jesus Myth Phony Scholarship Code." Atheistwatch

[2]  , "Expelled Founder Paul Kurtz Explains His Departure From The Center for inquiry," Dangerous Intersection: Human  Animals at the Crossroads.  ( October 2, 2010 )  blog URL:  (accessed 1/28/2016).

[3] I have made several posts on the Orwellian Nature of New Atheism:

[4] R. Joseph Hoffmann, . "Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project",, October 2009, URL:
( accessed 1/30/16).

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Peter Kirby's Straw man "Best Case for Jesus:" Talmud

I am not going to deal with any of the Pagan historians who document Jesus existence, such as Tacitus. Tacitus is defensible but it's not really the best evidence. Going by the best I've done Kirby's attempt at making the case on Josephus, Here I will deal with his straw man on the Talmud.[1] Then on NT and Church "fathers." Remember Kirby is doing a straw man argument, making the alleged "best case" for Jesus historicity so he can tear it down and say "I made the case and it doesn't stand up to my fierce onslaught." That's what I expect from a coward who is so threatened by better scholars that he chases them off his message board with the flimsy excuse that they have too many posts on the bard. So here we have the section where he makes his straw man version of the Talmudic Evidence for Jesus' Historicity.

Kirby writes:

This is the Jewish tradition regarding the trial of Jesus, found in the Babylonian Talmud, b. Sanh. 43a. While this text was finalized sometime in the fifth or sixth century, by its nature it incorporates many traditions that are very old, as it collects and quotes traditional commentary of the rabbis.
It was taught:
On the Eve of Passover they hung Yeshu the Notzarine. And the herald went out before him for 40 days [saying]: “Yeshu the Notzarine will go out to be stoned for sorcery and misleading and enticing Israel [to idolatry]. Any who knows [anything] in his defence must come and declare concerning him.”
 But no-one came to his defence so they hung him on the Eve of Passover....According to David Instone-Brewer, who has undertaken to analyze the talmudic traditions generally for their date of origin with an eye to seeing which may predate A.D. 70, the introductory formula is: normally used for traditions originating with Tannaim – ie rabbis of Mishnaic times before 200 CE – though the presence of such a formula is not an infallible marker of an early origin. However in this case, it is likely that these formulae are accurate because this helps to explain why the rabbis regarded this Jesus tradition as if it had comparable authority to Mishnah. Further, he notes, an independent attestation in Justin Martyr brings the most likely date before 150:
Outside the Talmud, two charges are recorded by Justin Martyr who said that as a result of Jesus’ miracles, the Jews “dared to call him a magician and an enticer of the people.” (Dial. 69)[Btw hanging was a euphemism for crucifixion]

Kirby then draws again upon Instone-Brewer [2] in discussing the date of this writing. He argues that the date of the trial and excision being so close to Passover and the charges (sorcery not in the NT) would not be brought by a Rabbi or Pharisees since: (1) Rabbis and Pharisees would seek to discourage activity so near the Passover, (2) they would want the charges to reflective of Torah and rabbinic halakha (teaching on the law). The account is not coming from new testament and not made up by Rabbis since they would make up time and charges they wanted. This implies a real event recorded in the memory of the common people and echoed in Rabbinic literature. Kirby makes the point that the event would have been remembered f0r the unusual date, the charges reflect would not have been interpolated by Christians. So this is good historical evidence for Jesus' existence.

That's ok for a beginning but that's the end of his argument. That is pathetic. There is a far more devastating case to be made. I will not go into great detail but just list a few points he could have raised that would strengthen the case tremendously. The first point involves his own source for documentation. one thing that makes the case for Jesus from the Talmud so hard o prove is the deniability od the rabbis. They will argue that is is not Jesus of whom the text speaks. They were afraid of being persecuted by Christians, not without good reason, so they censored the literature themselves to take Jesus out of it. We know they did because we copies of the pre-censored texts. In some cases they used epithets to talk about him, such as "such a one."
*Ben Stada
*Ben Pantira [3]

When we e see these names we know it's probably Jesus of whom they speak. It does give then plausible deniability but there are a couple of reasons why we can know it's him. One of themajor reasons is we have some of those documents and two of the scholar who are major in making this argument include Dr Peter Williams and Dr David Instone-Brewer "look at the Munich Talmud, which contains traditional Jewish teaching, and discover how even the deleted text provides evidence for Jesus' crucifixion!" [4]  Kirby researched this guy  why didn't he know that?

On the video seen below (fn 4) Instone-Brewer shows that from one of these pre-censored documents they can show that the text is derived from the original charge sheets read against Jesus. They can show this because the term hanged in the pre-censored document was changed to "stoned" in the censored version. Hanged means crucified. So they changed it because (he thinks) as not to reflect the Roman method of execution. I think it was to distance it from the Jesus story. If they are right that is direct proof Jesus existed in history. I am counting that as two points. (1) the basic fact o censoring. hat are they censoring? If it's not to Jesus out? Then (2) that specific example of the charge sheets, (3) Celsus.

The geneology of Jesus was known to the Jews, is mentioned in the Talmud and shows up in the use of the name "panteria." This is duscussed above where it is said that the use of that name is the jewish preference for a geneological connection. Another quotion above:

R. Shimeaon ben 'Azzai said: I found a genealogical roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, "Such-an-one is a bastard of an adulteress." McDowell and Wilson state, on the authority of Joseph Klausner, that the phrase such-an-one "is used for Jesus in the Ammoraic period (i.e., fifth century period)." (McDowell & Wilson, p. 69) [see fn4]

So geneological connections tie the figure of Pantera to Jesus of Nazerath. Of course mythological figures would not have geneological connections. Jesus Mother, brother, and family are mentioned throughout many sources.

II. Celsus

Celsus demonstrates a connection to the material of the Talmud, indicating that that material about Jesus was around in a leaast the second century. Since Jewish sources would not have been reidaly avaible to Celsus it seems reasonable to assume that this information had been floating around for some time, and easier to obtain. Therefore, we can at least went back to the early second, late frist century.

Origin quoting Celsus:
Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god." [5]

Celsus was obviously reading the Talmudic sources, he has the same materi9al they do and he as much as says so:
Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and insavoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" ....
I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts).  [6]

These three reasons in addition to Kirby's point.  (1) the charge sheets, although that is an expansion of the point Kirby made. (2) the fact of the censored documents, (3) the evidence of Celsus. That is really the nail in the coffin of mytherism.
 The religious a priori

For more on Jesus in Talmud see my age on Religious  A Priori


[1] Peter Kirby," Best Case for Jesus:(d) Babylonian Talmud (and Justin Martyr)"Peter Kirby (blog)
Jan. 22, 2015, Online resource, URL: accessed 1/18/16

[2] David Instone-Brewer, "Jesus of Nazareth's Trail in Sanhedrin 43a," PDF, pre publication copy

[3] Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson's He Walked Among Us Here's Life Publishers (1988)

[4 ] Expert Evidence on the Crucifiction of Jesus.Be Thinking blog
Dr David Instone-Brewer Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament, Tyndale House, Cambridge

the Be Thinking Blog reflects a much bigger body of literature demonstrating Jesus in the Talmud, something else Kirby didn't want to talk about.

For more information see:

“Jesus of Nazareth’s Trial in Sanhedrin 43a” (Jerusalem Perspective, 2011) by Dr David Instone-Brewer
- a detailed discussion of the dating of the different layers in this tradition. (Pre-publication version)
Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Pess, 2007) by Peter Schäfer
- an up-to-date discussion of the historicity of all the censored passages
Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (London: Williams & Norgate, 1903; New York, KTAV, 1975) by R. Travers Herford
- a list and analysis of all the censored passages
'Jesus of Nazareth: a magician and false prophet who deceived God's people?' by Graham Stanton; in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ: essays on the historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, ed. by Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans, 1994): pp.164-180. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Carlisle, Eng: Paternoster Pr, 1994). A detailed discussion of the charges against Jesus in other literature.

[5] Origin quoting Celsus, On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987, 59

Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and in savoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57). "I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62). "The men who fabricated this genealogy [of Jesus] were insistent on on the point that Jesus was descended from the first man and from the king of the Jews [David]. The poor carpenter's wife seems not to have known she had such a distinguished bunch of ancestors." (64). "What an absurdity! Clearly the Christians have used the myths of Danae and the Melanippe, or of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of Jesus' virgin birth." (57). "After all, the old myths of the Greeks that attribute a divine birth to Perseus, Amphion, Aeacus and Minos are equally good evidence of their wondrous works on behalf of mankind- and are certainly no less lacking in plausibility than the stories of your followers." (59).

[6] McDwell and Wilson, op. cit. 57, 62

The mention of this particular pair of charges, in this order, is hardly likely to be a coincidence.
To resolve the internal difficulties of the text and its parallels elsewhere in the Talmud, Instone-Brewer proposes that the original form of this tradition was simple: “On the Eve of Passover they hung Yeshu the Notzarine for sorcery and enticing Israel.” The proposed expansions before and after the charges explain the unusual date of the execution, in that an especially lenient period allowed people to come to his defense and that his execution occurred at the last possible time, while still occurring publicly while crowds were there for the holiday.
Since the New Testament account gives no account at all of a charge of sorcery at the trial of Jesus, instead emphasizing charges of blasphemy and treason, it is difficult to see this account as deriving from the Gospel story. Moreover, Instone-Brewer argues:
The origin of this tradition is also unlikely to be rabbinic or Pharisaic. Although it has been preserved in rabbinic literature, there are two reasons why it was unlikely to be authored within this movement. First, a rabbinic author or their Pharisee predecessors would want the order of the charges to mirror Torah and rabbinic halakha. Second, rabbinic traditions and the major Pharisaic schools tried to dissuade people from working on Passover Eve, so they would not have invented a tradition which said that they decided to try Jesus on this date.
Because the Jewish leaders of the first century were in a position to know the circumstances of such an execution, which would have been remembered for taking place on an unusual date, it is plausible to see this rabbinic tradition, late as its written record may be, as stemming from the historical Jewish memory of the execution of Jesus on Passover Eve with charges of sorcery and leading Israel astray.
You could even say that it’s more probable than not, in which case what we have right here is an argument for the historicity of Jesus. I value it more highly than both Josephus and Tacitus, as it certainly did not come from a Christian interpolator (unlike Josephus) and actually has a decent argument to the effect that it did not derive from the Christian tradition about Jesus (unlike Tacitus).
Summing Up the Argument from Non-Christian Sources

The absence of an ancient tradition questioning the existence of Jesus isn’t exactly telling, positive evidence for us today. While Josephus could be devastating evidence for the historicity of Jesus, it seems more fair either to regard the text as moderate evidence against on account of silence regarding Jesus or simply as too difficult a textual question to hang your hat on. Tacitus likewise is only faint as direct evidence but does raise a good question: with references like these, does doubt have anything to recommend it? Finally, even though its late date of compilation makes it impossible to rule out the possibility of a Christian source to the tradition with certainty, the Jewish tradition (recorded in the Talmud and with an echo in Justin Martyr) provides actual evidence for a historical Jesus. This tradition says that Yeshu the Notzarine was hung on the Eve of Passover, accused of sorcery and enticing Israel to idolatry.
(Sidenote: Some might not find the Talmudic tradition to be enough evidence to fill in a picture that meets their minimum definition of the historicity of Jesus. For example, without more information, he might have lived “one hundred years before Christ,” as proposed by G.R.S. Mead and Alvar Ellegard.)
(2) The Best Case: The Gospels and Related Traditions
Continuing my attempt at a best case for the historicity of Jesus, I’d proceed directly to the Gospel texts and related traditions. They are the most extensive source of details regarding the life of Jesus, so our estimation of them is an essential part of the process of evaluating the evidence.
(2) (a) The Gospel of Mark
The genre and purpose of Mark is a vexing question in New Testament studies. There’s still a plausible argument to be made that the author is a fairly unsophisticated writer, who has padded out his narrative of the ministry of Jesus with little stories here and there that he has heard (alongside some of his own inventions), and the best case for a historical Jesus might capitalize on such an argument. The incorporation of Aramaic material, by an author that seems more likely to know only Greek and Latin; the inclusion of obscure Palestinian geography, by an author that gets the basics wrong; the references to the family of Jesus, by an author that has no use for them; all of this suggests an author that has taken up bits and pieces of prior tradition while creating his story.
Richard Carrier makes a valiant effort to show that Mark 15:21 is “just as likely on minimal mythicism and on minimal historicity,” offering that the passage here may be intended as a symbolic reference to Alexander the Great and Musonius Rufus, a Stoic philosopher (On the Historicity of Jesus, pp. 446-451).
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21)
Only the Gospel of Mark contains this reference to Simon as “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” Right away we can then form two objections to Carrier’s tentative hypothesis. First, the other example of a symbolic message in the Gospel of Mark (“the number of loaves and baskets in Mk 8.19-21”) had no trouble getting copied in Matthew and Luke, proving that the evangelists were capable of copying these symbolic messages. The omission from the other synoptic Gospels suggests that, even at the early date of the writing of Matthew and Luke, this reference in Mark was not understood as symbolic. Second, it’s just a bit of a stretch to suggest that two names centuries apart, who could not actually be sons of Simon of Cyrene, are just as likely an interpretive option as, say, two names of people that were known to the audience and that were sons of Simon of Cyrene, just as Mark 15:21 actually says.
Carrier asks that we should always look for “strong external corroborating evidence (such as we have for the existence, at least, of Peter and Pilate), in the absence of which, for any detail in Mark, we should assume a symbolical meaning is always more likely” because of all the known examples in which Mark tells stories with “some esoteric allegorical or symbolical purpose” (On the Historicity of Jesus, p. 451).
We should distinguish between allegorical fiction and false tales, in that the author of Mark may have been a fabulist who wanted his stories to be believed and thus authenticate the good news of Jesus as the Messiah. Thus the evidence regarding stories constructed out of the Septuagint is evidence of falsehood of some kind but not necessarily evidence of allegory. As popular literature with the purpose of promoting belief in Jesus Christ, with a near-contemporary setting, the Gospel of Mark could even be argued to make more sense as unabashed invention, meant for belief, rather than as a sophisticated symbolic tale.
(Sidenote: Why don’t we have more people simply positing that an author was, to put it plainly, a liar? There is a real danger of overuse of the “allegory card,” which can be played to avoid making pointed “accusations.” This is history. All claims are equally worthy of proposal, in the pursuit of an accurate account of events.)
But there is a trace of evidence that could help us to place Alexander and Rufus in history, or at least the latter person. In the letter of recommendation for Phoebe, also known as Romans 16, we find the words of Paul: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also.” Here we learn that there was a Christian named Rufus known to Paul. We also hear about his mother but not his father, which might suggest that she was a widow. While it is impossible to prove, it is plausible that this Rufus and his brother Alexander were sons of Simon of Cyrene. This in turn means that the author of the Gospel of Mark, by drawing attention to Alexander and Rufus, who were known to Mark’s audience, could easily be exposed as a liar if they had never heard of their father carrying the cross for Jesus. This suggests the existence of a very early tradition which, like an early tradition that Jesus had a brother named James, would lead most people to suspect that there was a historical Jesus.
- See more at:

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Myopic nature of scientistic thinking.


The "New atheist" thing is just a subset of a larger ideological movement that I call "scientism." That is a term that refers to the idea of an inflexible doctrinaire approach to science that elevates science  almost to the status of religion. I've argued with scientists over religion and I've never been impressed with tuei9r understanding. There is something about these reductionist types of ideology that closes one's view to all but a narrow range of ideas.

Laurence A. Moran "... is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. You can contact him by looking up his email address on the University of Toronto website." He is very learned, he's also a nice guy. Yet he demonstrates his myopic ideological ghettoization every time hye gets outside his own field. He runs a blog called Sandwalk.[1]

He has an exchange with Bible scholar and Christian apologist James McGrath. The topic is historical method vs. Jesus myth idea. Moran is arguing that lack of scientific and historical evidence for Jesus is proof  that he didn't exist. McGrath is arguing that this is not the way historians do history. There has to be some reason to assume he didn't exist. This makes perfect since. When I was a teaching assistant the guy I worked for, a big named historian in Persian studies, said "if we accepted that not having definite proof was a reason to doubt someone's existence, or because a religious persom said it we would know nothing bout the first century."

He quotes Jerry Coyne saying:

 I’m still convinced that the judgement of scholars that “Jesus was a real man” comes not from evidence, but from their conviction that the Bible simply couldn’t be untruthful about that issue. But of course we know of cases where myths grew up that weren’t at bottom derived from a historical individual.
James McGrath is upset at this and Moran can't get it. He has an exchange with McGrath on facebook

Laurence A. Moran I'm not familiar with this field. Apart from what's written in the Bible, what is the best historical evidence of the existence of a man called "Jesus" who could perform miracles, rose from the dead, and was the son of god?

James McGrath That is a bizarre question. What is the best historical evidence for a Plato who is the son of Apollo? That isn't how history works.

Laurence A. Moran If there's no historical evidence that Plato is the son of Apollo are we justified in assuming that it's not true? That it's just a myth? Or am I still not understanding how history works?

James McGrath Historical study, like the natural sciences, ignores claims about divine entities and the miraculous and looks at things that can be assessed in terms of their probability in the everyday world of human agents and cultures.

Laurence A. Moran "Historical study, like the natural sciences, ignores claims about divine entities ..."

Science does not ignore claims about divine entities. Scientists investigate those claims to see if they are valid. (
That is pretty much bull. It depends upon the claim. If wise man A says "I am the son of God" science has nothing to say, it is outside their domain, it's either theology or psychiatry. If he says "I am the son of God and I heal the sick" they can investigate to make sure there was an unexplained healing process. Even then it's a sure bet they will assert some anomalous state rather than sadmit to a miracle.

James McGrath I did see your blog post. But the point is not just whether one can in theory investigate particular claims using particular tools and methods, but whether it is meaningful to do so. If a religious text claims that God made the sun stand still at some point in the past, then historians can look and see whether there is mention of such an occurrence in texts from around the globe, and finding none, conclude that the claim is false. But in general, historians do not bother doing that, because historical study deals in probabilities, and so historical study is not going to find an improbable event to be probable anyway, and so it makes more sense to bracket out such claims rather than to waste time investigating them merely to confirm their improbability.

Laurence A. Moran You're actually serious, aren't you? According to historians, what is the probability that Wellington won the Battle of Waterloo? Is it a low probability so historians bracket out the claim of a Wellington victory and don't waste time investigating it?

James McGrath You seem not to understand. Do you think that the earth ceasing to rotate is comparable in terms of its improbability with the likelihood or unlikelihood of an individual military leader meeting with success or failure in a specific battle? But at any rate, if you think that historians and scientists could look at the claim that Apollo was of divine parentage, or that Jesus was miraculously conceived, feel free to explain to me the appropriate procedures to conduct such research.
But Moran doesn't stop there. What McGrath has said seems perfectly logical to me. It makes since given an understanding of philosophical parameters of the field. But we are outside Moran's field and rather than learn a new view he imposes his old one upon it. He resorts to the old atheist standard of mocking and ridicule. Of course it's a refined and educated version but that is what it is.

He employs a civilized knowledge of literature and quotes Alice in wonderland.

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

Then  he concludes: Here is the all pervasive Jesus mythyer bait and switch where you think you are talking about history  and they are really talking about belief  in God.

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

 What is "denialism"? Is it "denialism" to think that the Biblical Jesus—the one who performed miracles and rose from the dead— didn't exist because there's no scientific or historical evidence that such a man ever lived?

Or is it "denialism" to claim that neither scientists nor historians are interested in, nor capable of, finding out whether Jesus the miracle-worker existed; therefore, Jesus the Son of God did exist?
What just happened here? He proved once again they cannot distinguish between the man in history and the concept of the son of God. It should  be perfectly logical to see those as spate issues in water tight compartments but5 they just can't. Why? Because he's not thanking as scientist but as an athei9st ideologue, All the thinking and learning that civilization offers (he's even
Canadian) just goes away when the ideology is involved. It's ironic but not surprising that he quoted the passage that he did because it really is a matter of who will be in charge. Not a matter of truth or reason but of politics. The only irony is that he can't see that the implication he throws at McGrath is more true of him.

[1 ] I had exchanges on his blog and wrote a piece on th9is blog about it:

"The courtier[s Reply and the fool;s gambit," AW sept 2012

my link to that post doesn't work on my article so here it is is

still he was nice to me when I posted there again.

URL to hs exchange with McGrath (see also link above)