Debate Notes - 3/29/2001

by Mitchell

Editor's note:  This is a rough draft of the notes to a debate to be held on March 29th, 2001 at RIT.  The debate position is to refute the contention that the Bible is historically accurate.

Reasons to Believe the Bible is Historically Accurate

  1. knowing NT Authors  (Lee #1)
We know who the New Testament (NT) just as we know who authors of the rest of anitquity were (like Plato and Aristotle)
    1. not so.  other ancient writers would (at the very least) put their names on their documents.  the Gospels, for example, were all originally anonymous (the names now attached to them were added by speculation and oral tradition after they were written) (perhaps because they didn't want to be mayrtered for their writings).
    2. Also, authors like Plato and Aristotle wrote several major works and referred to the writings of others.  with the exception of Paul, no NT writer appears to match this criterion. >>they referred to the OT writings << true, but i'm talking about contemporary writers (the lives of other well known people in the ancient world)  ex) we know more about the lives of Plato and Aristotle than we know about any Gospel writer (again, we do know a bit about Paul, however, and he wrote the majority of the NT).
    3. According to Eusebius, the author of a 4th century history of the Church, Mark was not an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry but had become a diciple of Peter in Rome and had based his Gospel on Peter's testimony.  Eusebius quotes Papias, an earlier churchman (c. 140 C.E.), who noted that Mark had not known Jesus personally but had merely recoded Peter's recollections, which were "not in [proper chronilogic] order" (Ecclesiastical History 3.39). --p314  (mark probably drew from a bunch of oral traditions about jesus)  mark was then incoroprated and rewritten by mathew and luke (both of whom added about 10% of their own material to it) << more on Eusebius later
    4. Mythical tradition says john lived to an unbelievable age, producing the gospel, 3 letters, and the book of revelation.  but... before the year 180 C.E. church writers do not know of the gospel.  some even suggested that it is the work of Cerinthus, a Gnostic teacher.  p366 or, another john, prominent in the church of Ephesus about 100 C.E. known as "John the Elder" wrote it.  but no proof of this.
    5. There are internal inconsistancies within some NT writings.  several "Pauline Letters" do not appear to be written by Paul.  for each such case, though, more evidence must be provided to make that claim (another topic for another Thought Club)
    6. I fail to see the relevance of this topic. The fact that some human hand was used to script Bible means nothing about the validity of the claims contained therein.  To use the same example, the contents of works attributed to "well known people" such as Plato and Aristotle are questioned just as much as the contents of the Bible.  The problem of the Historical Socrates (what he was really like) is just as hotly debated as the problem of the Historical Jesus.  So why is authorship even being discussed here?

  1.  when the NT was written
Perhaps knowing the NT authors is irrelvant... but what is relevant is that their works were contemporary.  Carbon dating even backs this.
    1. Contemporary is one thing, but being written directly after the events described is another.  the Gospels were written at least 30+ years after the fact.  this leaves open the possiblity of unintentional flawing, distortion, and embellishment due to the fallibility of human memory.
    2. Contemporarity is still not relavant.  by the same logic the Gnostic texts were contemporary, but they are not accepted as accurate accounts by most Christians due to this fact and this fact alone.  so why bring this fact up like it means something?
    3. "The Gospels cannot really be dated, nor are the real authors known. Their names were assigned early, but not early enough for us to be confident they were accurately known.  It is based on speculation that Mark was the first, written between 60 and 70 A.D., Matthew second, between 70 and 80 A.D., Luke (and Acts) third, between 80 and 90 A.D., and John last, between 90 and 100 A.D.  Scholars advance various other dates for each work, and the total range of possible dates runs from the 50's to the early 100's, but all dates are conjectural.  It is supposed that the Gospels did not exist before 58 simply because neither Paul nor any other epistle writer mentions or quotes them, and this is a reasonable argument as far as things go." << carbon dating also contains a margin of error for each calculation.

    1. memory corruption
    Memorization of Rabbinic teachings was part of Jewish culture (so probably didn't forget that much).
      1. Was it the Rabbi's teachings that were articulately remembered, or was it Rabbinical teachings from the Talmud that were aritculately remembered?  I need some kind of source on this (haven't been able to find anything). About all I found was they would recite passages from the Talmud over and over.
      2. gary-> talked to Dr. Illingsworth & he said "as far as he's familiar with it" the Jews were mainly concerned with the Talmud (and only studied that book with great memorization practices).  They _could've_ used the same technique on other books, but that technique was designed for the Talmud.
      3. Also, what kind of Jews were known to've done this?  Was it constrained to the religious leaders?  Was the average, ignorant, say, fisherman known for doing this?  Luke 4:17 shows that Jebus himself didn't recite passages or teachings from memory, but rather relied on written texts... << also, jebus screws up OT quotes in the following passages: ADD_CONTRADICTIONS_TO_OT_HERE
      4. Borderline slippery slope fallacy:  is there _no_ cut off date to curb ancient Jewish people's memory?  Could they remember things from their youth by the time they're 100? (ex = the gospel of John) ... could they perfectly remember things passed down through generations?  If so, then the Gospel of Bartholomew must be accurate (dated to about the late 2nd century).
      5. All Jews are humans.  All human memory (no matter how well you try to remember something) decays over time. Unintentionally embellishing a story is not unknown in any time-period.
      6. Elizabeth Loftus (contemporary learning & memory behavioral psychologist) gave the following account regarding the validity of eye witness testimony: a woman in austrailia was raped & told the police who she thought did it. the guy turned out to have a rather good alibi... at the time of the rape, he was on tv (live) giving a talk about the poor quality of eyewitness testimony! << she's coming to RIT april 13th :)
      7. A cultural practice is not something mandated by law.  Just because some Jews memorized teachings doesn't mean all Jews did.  What evidence do we have that any NT authors were the part of the Jewish society that remembered Talmundic teachings?
      8. Even if there was a special memory preserver in Jewish culture ... NT authors are in fact famous for BREAKING AWAY FROM Jewish culture (that's what the whole "Christianity Thing" is).
      9. evidence of embellishment
        1. evidence of embellishment coincides with the dates of the canonized Gospels (Matthew & Luke are embellishments of Mark, and John, written much later, shows signs of larger embellishment still)  Mark written first = least embellished (contains no teaching material:  no sermon on the mount, etc). then Matthew & Luke add a layer of embelishment (add the teaching sections), then John adds... pretty much all that crazy shit (remember, John came last therefore should be the most embellished) (as time goes on)
        2. The Greek translation of the book of Esther (has inserted "god portions", prayers, even a prophesy in the beginning of it all that comes true on the added ending to the book!).  The original (in the canonized OT) has none of this & doesn't even mention the word God.  The apocryphal book (in the Catholic OT) has these embellishments.
        3. book of Job is all poetry, except again for the beginning and ending.... (weak one, i lost references on this)
        4. a subsection of my biblical contradictions list shows tiny-number-errors which are usually associated with transcribing errors by apologists.  this is evidence that Jews, even with the texts right in front of them, had trouble getting every exact detail right.(ex) changing the word LORD to Satan in the example below, along with the numbers... embellished to make Israel look stronger and Judah weaker...also changed to make the LORD look fairer! (ex) In Israel there were eight hundred thousand (800,000) able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand (500,000). = 2 Sam. 24:9   vs In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand (1,100,000) men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand (470,000) in Judah. = 1 Chron. 21:5 (NIV for both)
        5. "...but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 19:17,19) and "the second (great commandment) is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 22:39) << versus "A new commandment I give to you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34). << If loving thy neighbor as thyself was an OT commandment, how could it be a new commandment? << demythifying:  maybe john was trying to not quote the apocrypha (cuase that's where jebus got it from!) <<      or maybe he was just trying to make Jebus all new and fresh and unique... (more special than he was) = embellishment
        6. "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her" (Mark 10:11, Luke 6:18), << versus "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (Matt. 19:9). << In the book of Matthew, Jesus said a man could put away his wife if one factor--fornication--is involved. In Mark and Luke he allowed no exceptions. << example of embellishment
        7. jebus' last words.  in matt & mark he says "why have you forsaken me" (not in luke) and then screams like a woman, luke says he screams like a woman first, then says "into thy hands i commit my spirit"  (little nicer) and in john of course, there is no screaming and he triumphently says "it is done."
        8. "But I say unto you, That Elijah is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him" (Mark 9:13). << There are no prophecies in the OT of things that were to happen to Elijah. << um... see if that's in any of the others (did they take it out of their copies?)
        9. Moreover, according to Luke 1:31 ("And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS") he was to be called Jesus, not Immanuel. << HOLY FUCK! << luke fuckin' changed it so it would match up with the story he heard before
        10. ex) the stories that Paul gives!

    1.  the NT claims to be historically accurate
    Other ancient works (such as Plato & Aristotle) don't make this claim, therefore the NT is a different ground than them in this respect
      1.  That's simply false.  Other ancient works do claim to be historically accurate.  The first line to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas states:  "These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down."  Other texts at the time had this.
      2. Not every book in the NT claims to be true just as not every book by Plato & Aristotle claims to be true.  But in both, a sort of historical accuracy is implied.  For example, the Apology and the Crito are implied true accounts of the trial and death of Socrates.
      3. How can a claim to be true possibly be relevant?  Claims to be true do not make claims true.

    1. "Realistic Fiction" did not exist until the 18th or 19th century
    Realisitic Fiction = having the quality of an eye-witness account (for example, when Jesus bent down to write in the sand).
    1. In Plato's Symposium there is a scene where Aristophanes gets the hiccups and cannot continue his speech.  How is that not "Realistic Fiction?" << you seem to be saying that nobody else inserted these little details to their writings >>so this obviously happened (this story is true) << but there are several reasons to doubt that the scene in the Symposium happened at all.  for one thing, Aristohpanes is the guy who wrote the play "Clouds" (the play making fun of Socrates), and here he is in the Symposium sitting down to diner with Socrates like they were good friends?
    2. Whatever "Realisitic Fiction" is, there are examples of it in the Gnostic Gospels.  An excerpt from the Gospel of Peter, 5:15 reads:  "Then, it was midday and darkness covered all of Judea. And they became afraid because the sun was no longer shining and he was still alive. <For> it is written for them, "Do not let the sun go down on the one who is being executed." (16) And one of them said, "Make him drink bile with vinegar." And after mixing it, they made him drink."
    3. gary's point >> even if they were the first to create "Realistic Fiction" ... what would that matter?  somebody has to be the first.

    1. Archeology has never contradicted NT (it only confirms it) (Lee #2)

    This shows that the NT authors were reliable and accurate in certain respects.

      1. Before I say anything or present anything, let me ask where you got that idea from.   Also need to ask ... have you looked this up in any non-christian-apologetic sources?  Have you tried to verify it?
        1. Over break I read your ETDAV by Josh McDowell, and a similar statement was made on page p72 by Henry Morris (head of the Creation Science Research Institute).  He says: "It must be extremely significant that, in view of the great mass of corroborative evidence regarding the Biblical history of these periods, there exists today not one unquestionable find of archaeology that proves the Bible to be in error at any point." << I'm thinking that's where you got it from (and perhaps from similar such statements). >>from web If Morris (a civil engineer from Virginia Polytechnic Institute) expects anyone to take such a stunning announcement seriously, he should provide good research to substantiate his claim. Sadly, Morris's methodology is another procrustean bed in which he stretches any and all data to fit his preconceived notion of "Bible history." In their introduction to The Genesis Flood, Morris and co-author John Whitcomb of Grace Theological Seminary write: The second purpose [in looking at the Genesis deluge] is to examine the anthropological, geological, hydrological and other scientific implications of the Biblical record of the Flood, seeking if possible to orient the data of these sciences within this Biblical framework. If this means substantial modification of the principles of uniformity and evolution which currently control the interpretation of these data, then so be it. . . . Our conclusions must unavoidably be colored by our Biblical presuppositions, and this we plainly acknowledge. --Morris, Henry and John Whitcomb. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1963. --pxx-xxi << NO WONDER he believes the bible is without error on any point.  every time the bible starts to contradict some other finding or other area of science, he simply tosses out that area of science.
      1. p71 look at #2E (read it out loud).
        1. McDowell says "a common origin of language" is evidence that the Tower of Babel existed and that God played some kind of part in it.  Does anyone else think that that evidence demands a different verdict altogether?
        2. Also amuzing is the idea that Chinese and other Eastern languages are related to Anglo-Saxon dialects.  I've never heard of anyone ever trying to establish a link between those.  What I am familiar with is the Germanic set of languages that place English and German next to each other... (and the two evolved separately), but I've never seen them connected to Chinese.
        3. Bushmen.  Nuff said (the !Kung clicking language!)
      2. p71 =  4) The walls of Jericho fell "outwards" as in Joshua 6:20  (read this one also) << from web >> The German excavators Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger excavated Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) from 1907-09 and concluded that Late Bronze Age Jericho--about 1500 BCE when Joshua was said to have led the Conquest of Canaan (Joshua 1:11)--was destroyed much earlier, in 1600 BCE, and therefore the pan-Israelite invasion hypothesis was historically questionable. Working under the presupposition that the biblical account was true, John Garstung [Garstung is the one quoted by McDowell there, check the bibliography] excavated Jericho from 1930-36 and allegedly uncovered the remains of a wall that was burned and had appeared to be blown outward from the inside. Garstung dated this destruction to the Late Bronze Age period of 1500 BCE in perfect agreement with Joshua's Conquest of Canaan. Garstung's amazing confirmation of the biblical account that the walls did indeed collapse at the sound of trumpets was quickly published in the popular press and seen by many as a triumph in "proving" the Biblical account. The controversy raged on until Kathleen Kenyon returned yet again to the site in 1955 to apply a more exacting type of systematic archaeology (called the "Wheeler-Kenyon method") that is now used regularly throughout the field. Kenyon argued that Garstung had excavated the wrong wall and mistakenly thought that the Early Bronze Age foundations were instead the Late Bronze Age walls of the time of Joshua's Conquest.  Jericho was destroyed, not in the Late Bronze Age, but rather nine hundred years earlier in the Early Bronze Age sometime around 2400 BCE. The site was a small village during the Late Bronze Age when Joshua was said to have crossed the Jordan River, making Tell es-Sultan's conquest unnecessary. [30] Kenyon, Kathleen M. The Bible and Recent Archaeology. Atlanta: John Knox, 1987., p74 << note how her book was published in 1987 (ETDAV was copyrighted in 1972) << McDowell probably didn't know about this... Given that Kenyon's work at Tell es-Sultan and that the Wheeler-Kenyon method has become the standard for excavations, it seems incredible that McDowell would advance only Garstung's flawed excavation as the "truth" while ignoring Kenyon's pioneering work entirely. << that's what the web said (i'm thinking McDowell just didn't know about it)
      3. >> from web  French archaeologist Judith Marquet-Krause excavated at nearby et-Tell (the biblical Ai in Joshua 7-8) and found, similarly, that it too was destroyed around 2400 BCE. By the time of Joshua's conquest, the city had been completely abandoned. [31]  Dever, William G. Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1990, p47 J. A. Callaway, of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, attempted to "circumvent the negative evidence" of Marquet-Krause during his revisit of the site in 1966 but ultimately his findings were rejected by other scholars as "shoddy" and purely apologetic in purpose.
      4. see other files for extensive archeology talk, for sources not cited by McDowell, and for alternative accounts of Jebus' life that are ignored by most Christians
      5. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." (carl sagan) All archeology parts will be looked at in more detail, but one overall, generalized comment can safely be made before such an inqury is undergone. All events that we have actual, tangible evidence for fall into that category of things we talked about before, that I referred to as "Ordinary  Events." [i tend to define ordinary as something that can be repeated today by either myself or others in a set interval of time.  extraordinary is all else.]  Ordinary Events include things like "a human being existing (i contend that Jesus of Nazareth lived on the Earth), the names of certain cities and where they existed (we have cities with names today), and stuff like that."  Archeology can give us evidence for these (Ordinary things). But in McDowell's book there is no evidence whatsoever for ExtraOrdinary Events--and those are the claims that require More evidence.  Instead of providing more evidence for them, he provides less evidence for them. Technically, he provides _no_ evidence for them. The comparison we're being asked to make is "here, look, some parts of the Bible are verified and they are correct ... so it's safe to assume other parts would be accurate as well."  That comparison is not valid because it ignores the distinction between Ordinary and ExtraOrdinary (false analogy fallacy--you cannot compare 2 things when striking differences exist between said things).
      6. Also need to note "going from the part to the whole" commits the fallacy of composition.  (some parts are true, therefore all are true).  Now it may be the case that all parts of the Bible are true... but we cannot conclude that using the "part to whole" thing... (because that is a fallacy).
      7. Example of the fallacy of composition:   Henry and Sophia Schliemann discovered the actual city of Troy in the late 1800's, using only Homer's exact words. Anyone can read the historic account of this discovery by Schliemann himself in "Troja: Results Of The Latest Research," 1884, or the biographical account by Irving Stone called "The Greek Treasure," 1975. To date, any discovery of Noah's Ark, using the Bible, has proven to be a hoax. This doesn't confirm one way or the other about the existence of Noah's Ark. It just confirms that some ancient manuscripts have proven to be far more accurate than the Bible. >> web So the city of Troy is mentioned in the Illiad.  So what?  That doesn't make Zeus the one true God. (also heard that some claims made by the Oracle at Delphi were found out--no references as of yet) (also heard that historical evidence validates the existance of Siddhartha Buddha--no references as of yet)

    1. Archeology proves the parts that we can prove (for the NT)

    To say that "some parts are proved wrong" is an argument from ignorance (where is your evidence that some parts are wrong?)
      1. I agree with you (to say "some parts are proved wrong" is a statement that requires evidence to back it up).  And if you have archeological evidence that part X is "proved correct" I would also have to show why your evidence is faulty before supplying my own evidence to the contrary.  But I have not said "some parts are proved wrong."  Thus far I have only said "your evidence is lacking." (note the distinction between positive and negative claims) (might wanna go over that before getting to this point!). I have also said "you have no evidence for the ExtraOrdinary parts."
      2. Archeology has not proved all that could be proved.  We have never reproduced, for example, any Roman documents that state Jebus was (a)crucified, and (b) placed in a tomb >>possible objection: "well how do you prove an empty tomb?" << possible counter:  "well that's God's problem, isn't it?  He's the one  who did such a shotty job of leaving evidence for his so-called "miraculous acts." << also, if somebody (anybody) wrote shit like "there was this tomb that they put this jew into... and when they checked there, he was gone!"

    1. NT events are confirmed by non-christian sources

    This shows that the NT authors were reliable and accurate in certain respects.

      1. again, each such instance must be looked at in turn.
      2. and again, the overall relevance of this is probably just as neglegent as archeology was because all such confirmations I've seen describe only Ordinary Events (not Extra-Ordinary Events).
      3. Pliny the Younger was the first non-Christian to even mention the religion, in 110 C.E., but he doesn't mention the resurrection.  No non-Christian mentions the resurrection until many decades later--Lucian, a critic of superstition, was the first, writing in the mid-2nd century, and likely getting his information from Christian sources.
      4. one such reference by McDowell was the account of Josephus! web >> Josh McDowell is obviously an intelligent and educated man. He is smart enough to fill his book with sufficient half-truths to get his readers excited. For example he quotes Flavius Josephus and describes his words as "hotly contested". (p.82) Unfortunately, he doesn't say why these words are so "hotly contested". He is probably aware that no serious student, or even theologian, sincerely believes that Josephus wrote this reference. It is attributed to early Christian forgers.
      5. web >> His tests for inclusion in the canon are purely arbitrary, for the convenience of the church hierarchy. Another book that would have passed his tests has deliberately been omitted from the canon, Sepher Toldoth Jeshu, or The Jewish Life of Christ. This ancient document is available for viewing in the British museum and has been censored by the churches because it depicts a far different Christ than the one the Christian churches want people to believe in. If Josh McDowell read this book, he'd know why it was thrown out. Or, perhaps he has read it and just wants to make sure that no one else does.
      6. web >> When we compare all five points [crossing Rubicon], we see that in four of the five proofs of an event's historicity, the resurrection has no evidence at all, and in the one proof that it does have, it has not the best, but the very worst kind of evidence--a handful of biased, uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses.  --historian Richard Carrier

    1. NT authors were not lying

    They were not lying because they died for their beliefs.  Who would die for a belief they knew was false?

      1. No Gospel writer died for their beliefs (also remember the Gospels were originally anonymous).  In fact, no eye-witnesses of the life of Jebus are martyered in the Bible (only Stephan and James are killed--and we don't know what James died for).  Peter dies in the Gospel of Peter (which most Christians don't accept as a "true book").
      2. Paul was killed I think... but chances are he WAS lying. Paul propigated the idea that it's ok to lie "for the good of the cause."

        1. 1 Cor 9:19 = "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I becmase like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  21To those not hving the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not haivng th law.  22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  23I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."<< he pretends to be like these people.  little white lies don't seem to bother him as long as it's "for the good of the cause"
        2. Philipians 1:14 = But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. << The most important thing is that this story is being told. (it doesn't seem to matter if the story is true or not, the most important thing is the story itself).
        3. that one about "boasting for the Lord" could be used also, along with many others << also think i should note it looks like Paul died for political reasons (not because he suffered for his belief) (perhaps talk about this next time)
      4. This is a borderline fallacy of accent here (switching the definition of the word "lying" to go from "they thought it was true" to mean "their story was true").  For example, if I were to say to you "members of the Baha'ah Faith have been _recently_ martyered by the idiots in Iran" ... and was then to build the case that "they were martyered for it, therefore they were telling the truth" ... would you accept my reasoning?  That the Baha'ah Faith is based on true accounts?  If not, why not?
      5. exs of faith-based persecutions)  Baha'ah Faith, Mormons, Babylonians (by the Jews), Jews (by the Nazis), Sepoys (Hindus) who wouldn't touch the gun cartriges to their mouths because those things contained animal fat, so they wouldn't do it. exs of dying for what you believe in) Japaneze fighter piolates in WWII (thought their emperor was a god and that they were pleasing him), Heaven's Gate, that Buddha guy protesting the Vietnam War... _any_ soldier dying in a war (all kinds of people will die "for the cause"). It's a borderline appeal to authority fallacy:  saying these [unnamed] men have certain authority because they died, and we should therefore believe all they say...
      6. we know that dying for the cause don't make the cause true... but what you seem to be implying is that dying for the cause helps add to your case being true (and it doesn't).// justifications for "lying"
      7. Plato's Republic defines the "Noble Lie" 300 years before the time of Jebus (Plato advocated fixing up the old myths of his time--the ones where the gods were acting all petty and jealous and in other "ungodly" ways).  It also should be noted that a minority of scholars think Plato's Noble Lie (to keep people in line and such) might've been saterical... still the Idea was present.
      8. one could feel really guilty about something they did in their life (like killing a bunch of Jews for example), and one could think "giving people hope for the future, and the idea of an afterlife" was more important than a little white lie.
      9. all one needs to propigate the Noble Lie is to think that "the cause" --whatever it may be-- is more important than anything else in the world. Preaching the ablution of sins to a Jewish community (Jews were constantly taught that sins just don't go away), preaching resurrection of the flesh, preaching the ideas of Heaven and Hell (a fine way to keep order in a society and maintain the status quo) certainly fit into this classification.
      10. ancient people's didn't consider certain things "lying" the way we do today (very few people could read and write, and those who did could get away with a lot more than they could today).
        1. the Gospel of Mark was "copied" --in times word for word-- into the other gospels.  this practice of using another's words and not giving them credit for it (plagurism) was commonly employed and was not considered "bad" or "evil" or "lying."
        2. contemporary greek writers are thought to've embellished / honored their teachers by placing words in their mouths.  the same could easily've happened to the Gospels. (if my teacher (rabbi?) didn't think of this... he would have... therefore he did) (this idea of mine is the continuation of their thought, therefore it's their thought and should be recorded in their words) ex in greek) plato attributed most (if not all) of his teachings to Socrates >>the NT authors were not Greek << true, but Greek culture was known to them (the NT was originally composed in Greek)
        3. Also, I did not mean to leave you with the impression that only the Greeks did this.  I am saying this type of thing abounded in ancient literature, from attributing certain sayings to Siddhartha Buddha (so many in fact that he would've had to've been talking almost every second of his life... and that his life would've had to've been much much longer!), to ancient Jewish writings (as in the following examples).   ex) psalms were attributed to David the muderer? ex) the slaying of Goliath was attributed to David, too? <2 Sam 21:19>        ex) (apocrypha) sirach 47:3 = He [David] played with lions and bears as if they were lambs or little goats. attributing grand ideas, heroic feats, poems, or what have you to famous individuals was a way of honoring them. ex) other examples of Jewish literature that do this would be... pretty much _all_ of the Gnostic texts.  ex) Gospels = Peter, Bartholomew, Nicodemus, Thomas, etc ex) Infancy Gospels = James, Thomas, etc ex) Acts = of John, of Peter, of Paul, of Andrew, of Thomas ex) Apocolypses = of Ezra, of Isaiah, of Peter, of Paul, of Thomas ex)  "Polycarp wrote a letter which cites "Jesus" for certain sayings a hundred times, and the sayings match closely those appearing in the Gospels (and even things written in numerous Epistles, which were not originally attributed to Jesus), but he does not name any sources (M 59-61)." >> << p67 in ETDAV says Polycarp was marytered for his beliefs (mcdowell used him as "one of the early christian fathers") modern examples of embellished religious teachings         ex) the Book of = Jacob, Enos, Mosiah, Alma, Ether, Moroni << (these are in the book of mormon), they place the words of the NT into the mouths of the Patriarchs
      11. if one honestly belived that in order to save people's souls they have to believe a certain story... if you believed that... wouldn't you try to help them out?  wouldn't you do whatever it takes to save them?  any good person would do this.  you don't want people to die or suffer, do you? HECKS NO!  so you're going to try & help them.  if a white lie sneaks in, so be it (besides, it's ok to lie for God, isn't it?) (could quote Paul here: it's ok to boast for God...)   i view this as analygous to the following story.  imagine you go and visit a friend of yours in some far off place like Translevania (does that place even exist?).  and you stay at your friends house.  and you notice all the locals finicking over you.  they keep trying to get you to wear a garlic necklace when you go to bed.  they're honestly trying to help you.  how noble of them!  you can't exactly yell at them or violently push them away... because you know they're trying to help you.

      1. NT authors were not mistaken
    They could not have been mistaken because memorization was a part of their culture.
        1. For memory talk, see above (main topic #3 i think).  Memory corruption would not be a blatent lie (since it happens naturally and without us knowing it).
        2. The following things could've contributed to the NT authors being mistaken and must be accounted for.
          1. Not all NT authors were eyewitnesses.  Mark, for example, is thought to be a disciple of Peter.  Luke is thought to be a disciple of Paul (which I doubt for other reasons--give at a later time).  This means some NT authors were just out collecting stories told by others.  The NT authors could have honestly believed in these stories and could've been willing to die for them (even though no Gospel writer did die for them, but anyway). The main author of the NT (Paul) also did not witness the life of Jebus (Jebus came to him in "visions").  So anything he wrote about the life and death of Jebus was from second-hand accounts as well.  In 1 Corinthians, for example, he says that 500 people saw Jebus on a mountain after his death. Paul was basing stuff off of their stories.  He could've believed them (even though they were mistaken).  <<more on the 500 claim later>>
          2. A large amount of Jebus stories were circulating during the times after his death (see above for talk on "attributing these stories to famous characters").  Luke specifically says [1:1] that MANY have undergone the process of writing down the events of Jesus and that he (Luke) wants to get it right for a change! Also, the majority of Paul's letters speak of "false teachers" who are teaching "other stories about Christ." With this in mind (that a lot of people were talking shit about the life of Jebus) how do we know the NT authors chose the right details to add to their compilations?
          3.  "Papias [wrote between 110 & 140] apparently recorded the most outlandish claims as if they were true, such as the fact that Judas' head bloated to greater than the width of a wagon trail and his eyes were lost in the flesh, and that the place where he died maintained a stench so bad that no one, even to his own day, would go near it (from book 4 of the Expositions, quoted by Apollinaris of Laodicea, cf.  footnote 23 in M p.  53)."         << course, the bible has 2 contradictory quotes about the death of Judas also (matt 27:5 = he hands himself & acts 1:18 = he explodes the way Papias said) "Papias's account of Mark is stranger still.  He says Mark was Peter's secretary (perhaps getting the idea from 1 Peter 5.13), and though he had never known Jesus, he followed Peter around and recorded everything he said, leaving nothing out and changing no details (M 54-5).  However, he did not "set in order" the sayings of Jesus." << did mark fuck it all up?  that would be extra funny especially if the other "eye-witnesses" copied from him... and didn't notice that mark fucked it all up! "It is hard to tell what he means, but scholars see in his account a growing apologetic in defense of Mark: Mark was regarded as unreliable because he did not know Jesus, and he was attacked for being incomplete and disorderly, and so on, so Papias defends him by putting him in the entourage of Peter and asserting that he faithfully recorded what Peter said, and so on.  What is evident is that this, the first historical thinking about Christian literary traditions, shows a possible corruption of reliability by oral transmission and a readiness to engage in apologetic distortions. << p66 of ETDAV McDowell quotes Papias as confirming the existance of the book of Matthew (why didn't he quote the part about Mark). There is one outstanding problem for these references to Mark and Matthew in Papias: they appear only in Eusebius, who is notorious for reporting (if not creating) forgeries [6]. = Eusebius is also infamous for saying that it was necessary to lie for the cause of Christianity. In his Praeparatio Evangelica [evangelical preparations?] 12.31, listing the ideas Plato supposedly got from Moses, he includes the idea: That it is necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a medicine for those who need such an approach. [As said in Plato's Laws 663e by the Athenian:] 'And even the lawmaker who is of little use, if even this is not as he considered it, and as just now the application of logic held it, if he dared lie to young men for a good reason, then can't he lie? For falsehood is something even more useful than the above, and sometimes even more able to bring it about that everyone willingly keeps to all justice.' [then by Clinias:] 'Truth is beautiful, stranger, and steadfast. But to persuade people of it is not easy.' You would find many things of this sort being used even in the Hebrew scriptures, such as concerning God being jealous or falling asleep or getting angry or being subject to some other human passions, for the benefit of those who need such an approach."
          4. Every Gospel account of the resurrection contains parts where the people who saw Jebus... didn't think it was Him at first.
            1. matt 28:17 = When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
            2. mark originally had no resurrection accounts, but from the added one we have: mark 16:12 = Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them ... [why in a different form?] << we know it was added, and also added was a threat to all those who didn't believe it (how handy)
            3. luke 24ish = 2 disciples are walking along, meet up with Jebus, but don't recognize him.  They talk for a bit, and Jebus is about to go on, but they urge him to eat with them.  Then mystery person X breaks the bread just like Jebus used to and we get this quote: luke 24:30 = When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. << he could teleport? << or perhaps they only recognized Him for a second... and then person X turned back to the guy he really was....
            4. luke 24:40 = When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them ... [for fish]. << imagine you were some guy who everyone thought was somebody who was raised from the dead... they all start worshiping you... what do you ask for?  "hey guys... got any money?  got any fish?"  :)
            5. john 20:14 = At this, she [Mary] turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 "Woman," he said, "why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?"  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ...
            6. john 20:19 = jebus appears to the 12? (and they didn't freak out) <-- only one in whole bible!
            7. john 20:26 = "A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.  Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
            8. john 21:4 = Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. // later, they catch a lot of fish and nobody asks the guy who he was (bible says they didn't ask, quote, "because they knew"--sha right) ;) << perhaps the disciples didn't recognize him because they were so amazed at the living Jebus... or perhaps they didn't recognize him because it wasn't really him...// hallucination theory  p261 of ETDAV (4E) = "Hallucinations are usually experienced:  In a nostalgic atmosphere.  Or at a time which particularly brings the person to a reminiscing mood." Like when Jebus broke the bread in case 3? Like when he said "Peace be with you" in cases 4 & 7?  Like he went fishing with them in 8?  Like when the Holy Spirit came to them when they were sitting around in the room where they had the Last Supper? (acts 1ish) p258 5D->1E = occurs to people who are "high-strung, higly imaginative, and are very nervous."  The disciples are depicted in the Gospels as fearing for their lives (for being noticed as those that associated with Jebus). Constantly fearing death tends to make one high strung and nervous.... p260 3E = "but in a normal individual this false belief usually brings the desire to check often another sense of other senses may come to the rescue and satisfy him that it is merely an illusion."  Almost every account has doubting people that are later reassured of what they see. p262 5E = "hallucinations require of people an anticipating spirit of hopeful expectancy".  Wasn't Jebus constantly talking about his death and resurrection (and the talk of the world ending during the time frame of "this generation").  Also, who wouldn't want to go to Heaven?  What could better encompass the idea of "hopeful expectancy" than Heaven? p264E = "Hallucinations usually tend to recur over a long period of time with noticeable regularity.  They either recur more frequently until a point of crisis is reached, or they occur less frequently until they fade away." And McDowell makes the case that they all abruptly came to end with the Ascention into Heaven and then says this doesn't fit either category. Well, ... how do we know?  After the NT authors wrote their accounts... maybe they did keep seeing more and more Jebus things.  Didn't they later see the the Holy Ghost appearing to them as some kind of fire demon?  That's in a later book, but still. Also, I view what they do record _as_ an escalation of events!  First they see some kind of angel figure.  Then they see this guy they thought they knew.  Then they see the guy a few more times.  Then they see him floating up into space!  Each time these appeareces are more and more elaborate and farther from reality. Also note, Paul's one account of his vision is given 3 different times in Acts.  And each time the story gets grander (see embellishment list)
          5. other things that coulda contributed to the NT = unintentional embellishment
        3. other ways they coulda been mistaken = the stories that Paul & others collected could've been fueled by a fear of going to Hell (sorta like the story about the Emperor's New Cloak)
        4. the followers of Jebus would be the ones most likely _to_ mistake what they saw.  they were the ones who hung out with the guy (a guy who died a horribly bloody death).  they want to hang out with him again.  they followed him around hand and foot.  they even claim to remember him saying things like he WOULD come back from the dead (sorta).  "wanting something to be so" tends to lead you to belief it so (as in the following examples).
          1. ex) how many people today (24 years after his death in 1977) have claimed to see Elivis Presely alive?
          2. ex) how many people who knew and loved JFK claimed to've seen him after his death?<< the two preceeding examples happened in CONTEMPORARY times (imagine way back when when the common man was much dumber!) << also note that JFK was considered part of the American Royal Family and that Elivis was the King.  imagine how much greater the stories of them would be if they were regarded by their followers as part of God's Royal Family or as the King of Kings? << also, how much greater would they be if they made claims that they would indeed come back from the dead?
          3. ex) the Great Houdini made a claim that he could "escape from death" and his spirit was later "seen" by the woman who loved him during / after a sayance.
          4. ex) Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who with a few companions and under conditions of terrible privation wandered on land and sea, from Florida to Texas to Mexico in 1528-1536.   Cabeza de Vaca reports in his journal that the locals think he raised someone from the dead... << refer godboy to sagan's The Demon Haunted World

    1. There were numerous eyewitnesses for the resurrection.

    It's hard to believe that all those people were wrong.

      1. see section about "could be mistaken", subsection "every resurrection account (except one) said some doubted when they saw him".
      2. there is only one claim in the NT that numerous people saw the risen Jebus.  In 1 corinthians 15, Paul claims 500 people saw Jesus on a mountaintop. [Editor's comment:  What were their names? Why are there no secular accounts from any of these 500 nameless individuals?]
        1. see the section on "NT authors were not lying", subsection "paul thought it was ok to lie for the cause."
        2. This goes against what we know of the historical Paul.  Paul was always on the move, going from city to city, writing letters, getting beat up, arguing with the Gentiles, and doing "whatever he could to win converts." Do you really think Paul took time out of his busy schedule to stop and interview 500 different people about what they saw?  Do you think he took time to investigate each and every claim?  I find that hard to believe. I think it's much more possible that Paul heard this idea from someone (that Jebus was seen by 500), and Paul incorporated that into his writings, again, to "win as many converts as possible."  I would consider that a borderline extraordinary thing for Paul to've done (I can't imagine myself going out and ruthlessly investigating the claims and backgrounds of over 500 people... well maybe in the modern age that could be done... but back then?  I dunno...)
      3. There were numerous eyewitnesses that Jebus travelled to America after his Resurrection (as recorded in the Book of Mormon).  What are we to make of that fact?
      4. eyewitnesses testimony is not ExtraOrdinary evidence (extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence).  eyewitness testimony (see memory corruption from above) is horribly corrupt.

    1. The body disappeared (what evidence of an empty tomb is possible?)
        1. shifting the burden of proof
        2. the very idea of the body being burried after a crucifixion goes against everything we know about Roman culture (the whole POINT of crucifixion is to deny them a proper burial--you then leave the body out in public display as a warning to all who might think of opposing you) << FIND HOW MCDOWELL COUNTERS THIS IN HIS BOOK [ANSWER - HE DOESN'T.  McDowell assumes that the gospel narratives are true that Jesus was placed in a rock tomb.  The alternative that he was never buried at all is not addressed.  The typical disposition of crucified criminals was to leave the bodies out to be devoured by wild dogs - a most humiliating end to a humiliating method of execution - Ed.] << why not leave his body out in the open with guards on it? << why not publically burn his body?
        3. who killed Jebus?  was it the Romans?  did the Jews play any part in it? Depending on which Gospel you read, you'll get different answers to that question.

    1. Uniqueness Talk
    If you add up all the points above, you'll find Christianity to be the only major world religion that encompasses all the things discussed.
      1. Every one of the points above has at least one major counter to it (and a lot of counters have to do with the specifics of a different religion). Collecting a unique group of fallacies together and then saying no other religion encompasses all of it isn't saying much (that's sort of a tautology--by definition of the word "unique group").  A cumulative bundle of fallicous reasoning can be used as "evidence" of any major religion.  And that religion would be THE ONLY RELIGION containg that particular arangement of poor reasoning.   In other words... what does uniqueness prove?
      2. Chapter 1 and Chapter 12 of ETDAV (the first and last chapters in McDowell's book) are about the uniquness of Christianity.  I think that much would've been granted by me beforehand.  Yes, Christianity is unique... just like everybody else.
        1. ex) prophetic shit for each incarnation of the Dalli lamma (this Buddhist sect is the only religion where one of the founders is reincarnated every time he dies & is prophesized about every time before he is reborn & those prophesices are verified every time he is found).
        2. ex) the Baha'ah Faith is the only worldwide faith that has never fractured (there are thousands of Christian sects, but only 1 true Baha'ah Faith).
        3. ex) the mormons are more recent than the bible therefore unique << i could go on and on, but i think you see what i'm getting at:  being a unique religion... doesn't mean anything
    // arguments against the Bible's veracity

    1. Contradictions
      1. see "tiny number contradictions" file
      2. see "jebus contradictions" file
      3. see "overall contradictions" file

    1. Alternative Explantions for the Resurrection
      1. none are technically needed because the current story contradicts so much (is unproved!)
      2. hallucination stuff (talked about above)
      3. spiritual resurrection occurred (not necessarily a physical resurrection)
        1. this is what happened to Paul (Paul's writings were the first) (remember, Mark had no resurrection)
        2. this "vision" in some kind of dream or what have you occurred to other people & those stories were collected
        3. those stories were embellished and put into the mouths of the Apostles
        4. to combat other religions of the time that had saviors that rose from the dead, they tried to make their story even better (grander than the Pagan gods).  so somehow they transformed it to be a PHYSICAL resurrection.
        5. the gospels were written to solidify this new belief (each one making pains to point out that he was alive, and doing physical things)