Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chruistianity has as many answers as you can raise questions


Edward Babinksi is some kind of atheist evangelist. He describes himself as Agnostic denies being an atheist, but he is clearly helping the atheist cause. He's an evangelist for deconversion. His passion is spreading the same disillusionment with faith that he must feel. He's a former born again evangelist. He is not to my knowledge famous although he may be well known  on the net., He wrote book. I met him on Secular Outpost and he wanted me to read his article, "Christianity raises as many intellectual and historical questions as it claims to answer," certain to would really open my eyes.[1] I read it, I wont say I'm not impressed because he's clearly thought a lot and has been really digging to find reasons to justify his jumping ship. I wont answer all of it, at least not immediately be cause it's too long but I would like deal with part of it. I will say this he seems totally keyed im to the level  the fundamentalist, the creationist. I wonder if he even knows about liberal theology I', guessing he would approach it with the prejudices of his fundie days. A lot of his effort seems to be directed at creationists.

He opens wioth an observation about an atheist buzz word "confirmation bias." "The question Christian apologists should ponder is the degree of confirmation bias of the Gospel writers who chose their oral and written sources to produce a life of Jesus." Of course he doesn't have any confirmation bias. He just has to rationalize rejecting Christ and going to hell.  Jot that I believe that but I'm sure his former belief system had that as the bottom line it can't help but be in the back of his mind someplace. Then he moves on to a long rambling meandering romp though fundie land,

Also if the authors themselves were part of a sect who believed in the soon coming final judgment of the world (as it appears they were, see here) that might be taken as an extra reason to try and make their Lord appear that much more significant--the final actions and teachings of the final prophet, final messiah to beat all other revelations and messiahs.

Of course that works both ways, to follow Jesus they had tov give up everything including family, religion, livelihood and place in the community. Now that might be a reason to embellish but it is also  a reason to think they already had to see Jesus that way to want to follow him. The problem with that kind of argument is he's trying to psychologize people with no expertise and without meeting them. Those same kind of snap popular diagnosis can be turned on him. From that point he tries a strange ploy, arbitrarily picking out a model to which he  compares the gospels to and then of course picking one totally different.

And comparing the Gospels with say, the works of an ancient historian like Herodotus, please note: Herodotus challenges conventional legend; the gospels make no challenges.Herodotus names sources; the gospels do not. Herodotus weighs evidence; gospels do not.Event in Herodotusʼs city; Gospel accounts not in authorʼs city.Herodotus consciously wrote history; Markʼs Gospel is more akin to a hagiographic bios.
There's  lot wrong with that aside from the incomprehensible sentence. Why Herodotus? The two are writing for totally different reasons. He says Gospels are like faith biographies they are, so what? why shouldn't they be? Herodotus was trying to demythologize mythology and turn into history, The gospels were not attempts at writing history, They are sermonic they were written for the edification of the communities in which they were written and they were written to pass on the testimony of the witnesses. One might think if the Bible is inspired it should prove everything, that depends upon your view of inspiration. The gospel were written for people who lived with those who were there when Jesus taught, They were not trying to prove anything, They were trying  There were no history historicism amd historiography so why expect the Gospels to be like the pioneering Herodotus? Different culture writing for different reasons.

And speaking of crucial writings we lack from the first century (as well as the writings we DO possess, see further below)...We do not have anything written directly by Jesus himself or any of his original disciples (I think even Michael Licona admits that the evidence that Jesusʼs earliest apostles penned any of the Gospels remains questionable, nor have Bauckhamʼs arguments for apostolic authorship based on “inclusio” taken the scholarly world by storm. His scholarly reviewers have pointed out all the questions he is still begging).
We don't need anything written directly by Jesus. The Jews had an oral culture, they knew how to memorize the words of  teachers and spit them back with great accuracy. [2] Babinksi's view of Biblical authorship is quite outmoded. Scholars no longer think of the gospels as produced by a single author. They were the product of redaction involving many editors and oral tradition. In effect the gospels were the products of whole communities., There is no reason why the authors  must be the name sakes for the books to be inspired and no reason why they had to be by apostles to be by eye witnesses. [3] There is a lot of good evidence that the Gospels were by eye witnesses. One of the most interesting arguments is made by Buckham in Jesus and the Eye Witnesses.He arguesthat the way the Gospels are written they are pointing to eyewitnesses all over the each gospel. He has a formula that proves it. For example Zachias who climbed in the fig tree to see Jesus. Why is he named? Because he lived in the community wnd one of the witnesses testifying. I can't the atheists mocking but read the book. It's a strong argument. [4]

Nor do we have any written responses to Jesus from the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, or teachers of the law. Nor any from Ananias, Caiaphas, Herod or Pilate about the events we find in the gospels.(The absence of such writings even led to some early Christians forging a document titled The Gospel of Nicodemus, featuring the Acts of Pilate!). Nor do we have a single casual letter from anyone mentioning their first hand experience of having gone to see and hear Jesus of Nazareth

Now he says that like it's some kind of disproof.  As though the we would just naturally have all that stuff if any of that was real., Then there was no Pilate, there were no Pharisees,  or that proves Jesus didn't exist we would have that if he did. That is foolish, We have the materials we have an accident of history, We hardly have anything from the first century.From the 50s and 60s A.D., Blaiklock tells us: "Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from these significant years." [5] We certainly do have extra biblical corroboration that Jesus existed. Atheists kick up a lot of BS about the TF being a forgery, while the vast majority of scholars disagree.[6] The Majority of historians accept Jesus historicity, Out takes from Talmud also prove Jesus existed.[7] He's making an argument from silence. evidence for Jesus existence is overwhelming. Real historians do not base the existence of individuals in history on statements by people who knew them That is a phony standard historians don't use and it would lead to a ridiculous infinite regress. Who would vouch for the vouchers? who would vouch for the vouchers of the vouchers? There is a huge amount of evidence for the historicity  of Jesus.[8] Several lines of convergence of historical sources make for high probability. As Luke Timothy Johnson  tells us:

...the character of the Gospel narratives does not allow a fully satisfying reconstruction of Jesus ministry. Nevertheless certain fundamental points when taken together with confirming lines of convergence from outside testimony and non-narrative New Testament evidence, can be regarded as historical with a high degree of probability.Even the most cirtical historian can confiently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was exicuted by crucifiction under the prefect Pontius Pilate, and continued to have followers after his death. These assertions are not mathematically or metaphysically certain, for certainty is not within the reach of history. But they enjoy a very high level of probability. [9]

"Nor do we have anything written by the Apostle Paul before he converted telling us about the church he was persecuting (Badoinski)." Why do we need it? What is his hidden assumption in making that argument? Just another argument from silence, a trivial matter that he can use to pile up "unanswered questions,? "We don't know what Paul's favorite color was."

Jesus always had the last word over his opponents in the gospel accounts. His victory in debate is assured since his followers are writing such tales, like when Plato wrote Socratesʼ dialogues. But genuine debates in religion usually do not end so neatly with the opposite side having no further reply. It would be nice to know what his first century opponents said in response to Jesus, in their own words.

So of course that means Jesus was just a dumb ass who went around losing arguments an why people anyone followed him is a total mystery. It's not hard for a remarkable person to win a lot of arguments., Obviously he had something on the ball that's not to believe. If that' the kind of bid deal this guy's case is based up he had want to lose his faith pretty badly.

The Jews of Jesusʼs day believed in Yahweh and that he does miracles, and they knew their Old Testament prophecies, and yet an overwhelming number of them did not believe Jesus was the Messiah or anointed one, nor that he was raised from the dead by Yahweh. So Christianity didnʼt take by storm the very land where Jesus was seen and heard directly by people, but instead it had to reach out to the Greco-Roman world for converts.

Is that really the case? is it really so that it was spreading among the Jews and that's why they ha to open the mission to the gentiles? Of course it couldn't be that Jesus told them to go out and preach to the nations. Of course not if that were true then God would  be real we can't have that, He tries to turn the notion that some didn't believe into an argument against the truth of the Gospel that's extremely fallacious. By that same logic atheism is 3% of world population so tahini itself proves it's false. In fact the Gospel spread among the Jews like wildfire and it was taken to the gentiles because it was spread through the diaspora. [10] By that logic Donald Trump will be a great president because he was so popular. Regan was a great President. Some od us Democrats know better. That argument is truth by acceptance of the masses that can't be right,

Even Paulʼs missions to Jews in the Greco-Roman world didnʼt raise as many converts as among Hellenists. So why should we believe if many of his fellow Jews who saw Jesus and heard him preach didnʼt? The city of Jerusalem was not converted. Christianity remained a small Jewish sect, one of many, until such tales reached the ears of Greco-Romans.

More fallacious reasoning he's assuming the majority of people saw Jesus they did not have big football stadiums They had polices for crowd was five thousand, he has no idea what percentage of people who heard Jesus speak actually believed in him.

There are other things we donʼt have but would like to. We donʼt have the correspondence from Chloeʼs household in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11) telling us of their church disputes, especially concerning the resurrection that Paul responded to. Nor do we have their response to Paulʼs first letter which forced him to defend his apostleship, since they questioned it afterward (2 Corinthians). Nor do we know what Paul meant when he said some of the Corinthians and Galatians had accepted a “Jesus other than the Jesus we preached” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) or a “different gospel” (Galatians 1:6-8). What we do know is that the sectarian side that wins a debate writes the history of that debate and chooses which books to include in their sacred writings.

First of all he doesn't actually explain why those are important things to know. Sure we would like to know them and they would elucidate the faith but why does not knowing them create a crisis of faith or disprove the faith? The real argument he's making is that there must have been a real Christianity we don't have access to because the other faction won, The faction that won doesn't really represent the true faith, or the majority, There must have been Christians withy very different beliefs,  This guy really thinks like a fundamentalist. All of the arguments he[s made so far assume fundie concepts. The argument he's making is pretty convoluted, and fallacious. It's a variant of argument from silence. He's what we don't have is more telling than what we do have. it[s like the people who say there must have been other books of the Bible that disprove Jesus the church burned them, The proof: we don't have them.

We donʼt even have one legitimate Old Testament prophecy that specifically refers to Jesusʼs resurrection. Nor do we have any convincing present day confirmations that God works miracles like virgin births, resurrections (or ascensions into heaven) in todayʼs world, something that would be of critical importance to historians when assessing these claims.

The kicker is the term "legitimate" because what is that? Any evidence that disproves his view is not legitimate and for that reason. Isiah 53 very clearly proves Messiah was to rise from the dead: "he will be cut off from the living" then "he will he will see the light of life.(v9,11) [11] More importantly Messiah was expected to raise all of fallen Israel on the last day. Messiah controlled life and death. That's why the graves opened in Matthew it was like saying this Messiah's signature. Yes it is an embellishment who cares? the point is it points to the role of Messiah in the mass resurrection of all of Israel. Thus Paul calls Jesus the fist fruits of the dead.That means there doesn't have to be a prophesy about Messiah raising himself, , it's still part of the role of Messiah. It still points to Jesus' identity ass Messiah. [12]

Finally, Talmudic writings proves that the Jesus story fits the prophesies as the were understood by Jews of Jesus day.; Yes those expectations changed in the decades after AD70. The passages in the OT as understood in the Talmud fit Jesus far better than anyone else and they fit him perfectly.[13]

What we have at best are second-hand or more testimonies filtered through the gospel writers. With the possible exception of Paul who claimed to have experienced the resurrected Jesus in what is surely a visionary experience (so we read in Acts 26:19, cf. II Cor. 12:1-6; Rev. 1:10-3:21--although he didnʼt actually see Jesus, Acts 9:4-8; 22:7-11; 26:13-14), everything else we are told comes second hand.

That Just goes back to his misconception about the nature of Gospel writing, which I've already discussed above. The community was the author and the communities were full of eye witnesses, they moved into communities and had goods in common and devoted themselves daily to study of scriptures. What were they doing? They were working out the details of the faith, the witnesses were telling the story under controlled  conditions in front of the community so everyone would know. [14]That's why they wrote the Gospels to encapsulate the oral traditions they had been preserving. Oral tradition was not wild rumors floating about but was a highly effective means of preserving a tradition, [15] Just like the bards they memorized and recited the whole Iliad orally for centuries and passed it word for word before it was written.
And considering WHAT WRITINGS WE DO POSSESS (dare I saw what “God” has preserved for us) FROM THE FIRST CENTURY (as if God could not preserve writings any more confounding for your average Christian apologist), those INCLUDE the Dead Sea Scrolls which raise questions as to orthodox Christian interpretations of Jesusʼs motivation and mission, since the Dead Sea Scrolls composed by that scribal community prove they were a community of apocalyptic cultists preparing for the worldʼs final judgment.

He's still right in the center of that fundamentalist mind set. All of his arguments are basic upon the assumption of verbal plenary inspiration that is the engine that drives fundamentalist. He was an evangelist before, You can't be an agnostic and be militating for others to give up faith, he's clearly just switched from one side to the other but that means he's still a book end,. He needs to break out of that whole mind set and learn to think of God in new ways.,

The Dead Sea Scrolls include OT writings, but also inter-testamental writings like the book of Enoch, as well as books written by the scroll community such as the Book of the Wars of Sons of Light and Darkness (about the worldʼs final battle and supernatural judgment), the Melchizadek Scroll (about a divinely appointed figure that would appear in the heavens soon to judge the earth), and commentaries on OT writings in which the members of that community found clues to the soon coming final judgment. Even their community laws and ascetic practices were meant to keep them pure in preparation for the soon coming supernatural judgment of the people of earth, which only adds credence to the view that Jesus of Nazareth may very well have been the leader of an apocalyptic movement with similar failed expectations.

Yes, yes early church was a cult ,welcome to sociology class. That doesn't disprove the mission of Christ to redeem the world All that proves is that God works though humans and their imperfect institutions, and that moral laws of social science have come validity but can still point to a higher reality. I recommend reading The Trace of God: a Rational Warrant for Belief by your truly, Joseph Hinman. I'm not just saying this to plug my book (well that had crossed my mind). Three arguments for God backed by a couple of hundred studies from peer reviewed journals, studies in psychology proving the validity of religious experience, No they are not done by Christians, they are in secular publication's. These are about mystical experience. That will introduce you to a new way for thinking about God. I don't say much about Christianity in that book so a couple of other books to read: Theology of Hope by Jurgen Moltmann, Dynamics of faith and History of Christian Thought by Paul Tillich. These are not little apologetics book. This is the real thing, liberal theology,


[1] Edward Babinski, "Christianity raises as many intellectual and historical questions as it claims to answer,"Scrivenings ,June 2015, blog, URL:
accessed 5/8/16 (all quotes from Badinski are from this article)

[2] Stephen Neil, The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1961, London: University of Oxford Press, 1964, 250
see also my page on community as author (p2) for a lot more sources on oral tradition

[3] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of  The New Testament: An Interpretation.Philedelpia: Fortress Press, 1989, 114-117

see also my article on Religious  A Piriori, "Community as Author part 1"

[4] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and The Eye Witnesses: The Gospels as Eye Witness Testimony.  Eerdmans, 2008, 39.

[5]  Blaik.MM - Blaiklock, E. M. Jesus Christ: Man or Myth? Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984.

[6] Joseph Hinman, "Secular and Jewish Historiamns:Josephus part1," The Religious A Priori, Online resource URL accessed 5/15/16

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

[8]Louis H Feldman,  Josephus and Modern Scholarship. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984.  684-91

see also my Josephus pages on  RAP

[9]  Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus, San Francisco: Harper, 1996,p.121

[10] Johnson, Writings..., op cit, 117

[11]  see my page on RAP, "suffering Servant is Messiah."
red the whole page and follow the argument
see all of my Isaiah 53 pages

[12] Alfred Edersheim, Life and times of Jesus the Messiah,vol I, New York: Lomgmans 1907

there are online versions, this Christian classics  etherial library

[13] Ibid "List of Passages Messianically Applied"  Vol II, 710
there are 450 passage the Talmud says are of Messiah and the spell out the Jesus story.

see also my page summarizing Edersheime's Talmudic passages

[14] my community as author page

[15] B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans* (eds.), Authenticating the Activities of Jesus NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998, 55



JBsptfn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JBsptfn said...

Babinski used to be Holding's whipping boy on the Tekton Forge blog.

Joe Hinman said...

I see

JBsptfn said...

Here's the link:

Tekton Forge: Ed Babinski

Joe Hinman said...

great minds think alike

Edward T. Babinski said...

Thanks for the review and mention on your blog.

I am not an atheist. But I will add that even some Christians have spoken up in defense of atheism:

Bauckham's book rec'd plenty of probing critical questions from scholarly reviewers that anyone can read who is curious enough to access The ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Religion Index. Despite Bauckham's indirect arguments and calm assurances we don't know who wrote what, or what any particular author sharing a story orally or in written form saw for themselves or heard and picked up from others. If there is a first person story as to what anyone saw, then it probably exists in letters of Paul, but all they recount is a brief first person statement, "He appeared to me." To what degree Acts features Paul's story in its historical authenticity is another question. And per Acts the appearance of Jesus to Paul took place after the alleged bodily resurrected Jesus was no longer on the earth, yet Paul lumps all "appearance" stories including his own, together in 1 Cor 15.

The majority of Jesus's alleged miracles were limited to either unnamed wildernesses (the earliest versions of the feeding of the multitude in GMark and GMatthew), or limited to towns in the "Evangelical triangle" rather than large cities, or seen allegedly by three apostles on a mountaintop, or seen by a few in a boat, or seen by none (the miraculous temptations by the devil that Jesus allegedly endured in the wilderness).

As for the resurrection story, did anyone see Jesus rise from the dead and exit his tomb?

Was the "empty tomb" story itself early or late? (In GMark, presumably the earliest Gospel, the women "told no one anything," the Greek is emphatic involving a doubling of the word; and even if the women told no one but the apostles, the story amounts to the apostles being told that Jesus had gone on ahead of his disciples to Galilee and they should return to Galilee to see Jesus there, which is not what Luke and John say, neither of which feature the message at the tomb found in Mark and Matthew, the earliest Gospels.)

Some point to the story of Lazarus and people seeing Lazarus rise and exit his tomb as a preview of what Jesus was going to do, but the question remains whether that story is based on stories and names found in earlier Gospels:

As for Isaiah 53 it's in the past tense. Christians only focus on the places in Isa. 53 that sound like the Jesus story and forget the parts that don't. That is the basis of superstition, recalling the hits, forgetting the misses or vagaries, such as in the case of Nostradamus's alleged prophecies: Additional so-called prophecies of Jesus's first coming are even less convincing. As J. P. Holding himself admits: "...we cannot present an apologetic on this basis [that OT prophecy fulfillment is a good apologetic] as we normally have; or else we are forced into a corner of explaining ie, why the NT allegedly uses OT passages 'out of context.'"

Edward T. Babinski said...

Also, has J.P. Holding ever gotten off his young-earth creationism "default" horse? Has he stopped labeling the flat earth presumptions of biblical authors as merely the result of bad exegesis by "fundie atheists?" Surely he must know by now that atheists were not the first to come up with the idea of a firm firmament. Early Jewish rabbis along with Augustine and St. Jerome came up with the the idea, and going back further still, the whole ancient Middle East came up with similar ideas of a storied cosmos with heaven upstairs above a flat earth and some sort of floor or floors separating the two.

Even Holding's long time friend and fellow apologist at Deeper Waters calmly interviewed John Walton from Wheaton on Walton's acknowledgement of ancient flat earthery presumptions of biblical authors.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Also, Joe, You should have read a bit further in Brown's book, Death of the Messiah, at least to 1334-35 of the same volume (which happens to be vol. 2) for there Brown clarifies what his view is concerning The Gospel of Peter, quote:

"I doubt that the author of GPeter had any written Gospel before him, although he was familiar with Matt because he had read it carefully in the past and/or had heard it read several times in community worship on the Lord's Day, so that it gave the dominant shaping to his thought. Most likely he had heard people speak who were familiar with the Gospels of Luke and John - perhaps traveling preachers who rephrased salient stories - as that he knew some of their contents but had little idea of their structure... Intermingled in the GPet author's mind were also popular tales about incidents in the passion, the very type of popular material that Matt had tapped in composing his Gospel at an earlier period. All this went into his composition of GPet, a gospel that was not meant to be read in liturgy but to help people picture imaginatively the career of Jesus."

Brown's student, Susan E. Schaeffer, also argued for this position in her dissertation ("The Gospel of Peter, the Canonical Gospels, and Oral Tradition").

See also The Gospel of Peter and Early Christian Apologetics: Rewriting the Story of Jesus' Death, Burial, and Resurrection (Wissenschaftliche…Dec 31, 2011 by Timothy P Henderson, which concludes:

"Sometime in the middle part of the second century, a Christian author composed a new story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus..."

You can read the rest of Henderson's Conclusion here

And by all means please read Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (New Testament Tools and Studies)May 25, 1998 by Dr Craig A Evans and Bruce Chilton, pg. 512ff