Friday, December 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Any comparison of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 to pagan divine birth stories leads to the conclusion that the Gospel stories cannot be explained simply on the basis of such comparisons. ... For what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story of ... a divine being descending to earth and, in the guise of a man, mating with a human woman, but rather the story of miraculous conception without the aid of any man, divine or otherwise. As such, this story is without precedent either in Jewish or pagan literature."

Ben Witherington III
"Birth of Jesus"
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels



Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know what the point is being made here. Luke and Matthew were writing about ninety years after the birth of Jesus so one can hardly take what they wrote seriously as factual information. How would they know? What we do know is that giving an individual a divine parentage was a means of giving them status and it is possible that Matthew, rather appalled by the failure of Mark to offer any information about Jesus' parentage, felt he had to improve the story, especially when there seem to have been other stories of Jesus's illegitimacy. Luke's account of the circumstances of Jesus' birth is recognised by historians as erroneous on several counts and is not taken seriously. Does anyone outside the fundamentalists and submissive Catholics really believe in the Virgin Birth??

Bernard said...

Yes. Christians believe in the virgin birth. If that makes them fundamentalists by your (wrong) definition, then that is how it is.

We believe Jesus was fully human and fully God. Compared to that apparent impossibility, a virgin birth seems relatively easy to accept.

Kristofer said...

or perhaps a converted Pagan decided to write a virgin birth scene that would so not offend the sensibilities of Jews. Remember when people convert to a new religion, they still often carry with them some of their old religious notions.

TheOFloinn said...

Muslims also believe in the virgin birth.

Bernard said...

@ Kristofer
An interesting point, I'd like to hear you expand on it. What pagan religions have a comparable virgin birth?

Not Mithras - he emerged fully formed from a rock in a cave.

I think it's interesting that the gods people make up for themselves tend to behave a bit like modern superheroes, whereas the idea of a "humble" god seems so alien it must have come from outside man's experience.

Jim S. said...

I would be interested to know what the point is being made here.

I would have thought the point being made here is obvious. There is a common belief in Western culture (which has no credence among scholars) that the story of Jesus as recorded in the gospels is similar to ancient myths. Jesus' birth is one of the alleged parallels cited most often. Witherington is pointing out that Jesus' birth story does not parallel these myths.

Does anyone outside the fundamentalists and submissive Catholics really believe in the Virgin Birth??

Yes.

jamierobertson said...

Anon:
Luke and Matthew were writing about ninety years after the birth of Jesus

Even if true - which I'd dispute - the majority of other writers of ancient history wrote after a gap of this length, or longer, and were often not themselves primary sources, yet I don't see all the historians in the world throwing up their hands in despair and retiring.

How would they know?

Well golly, I've no idea. Maybe the pair of them smoked a couple of joints one night and made it all up? Or maybe Luke went and spoke to those who were present at the time, like he said he did? Who can really say?

...it is possible that Matthew... felt he had to improve the story

But then, if Matthew were happy to freely invent bits of the story rather than stick to the truth, isn't it odd that he includes a lot of features that would be thoroughly offputting to his readers, such as the apparent limitations on Jesus' knowledge; the generally low social standing (fishermen, women) or exclusion (tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans) of Jesus important followers; and Jesus' repeated shaming and denial of honour, in a culture driven by the honour/shame compass. To omit any of these would have made the Gospel message far more palatable to potential readers - yet they stay in, indicating that the authors were more honest than you give them credit for.

Additionally, if Mark's Gospel (as tradition holds) was a collection of brief oral vignettes from the mouth of a disciple, then this would explain why the birth narrative isn't included (rather than suggesting the whole thing was made up later on).

Anonymous said...

Most of the original written evidence from the ancient world has been lost so it is hard to make generalisations such as Witherington does. Much written evidence is much later than the events it describes and historians take this into account. An important criterion , when there is so much mythology in ancient texts, especially those written well after the event, is 'Is this a plausible event?' I understand that Christians believe that this is the only virgin birth known in the entire history of the human species. Surely we need some more plausible evidence before we take it as a 'fact". Luke is not to be trusted. Nazareth was not part of a Roman province at the time of Jesus' birth and so was not subject to Roman taxation and the taxation system of provinces, as Judaea ( not including Galilee) became in AD 6, took place in one's home village as it included a tax on the land you held. Luke got this completely wrong so one can hardly trust the rest of his early gospel material.
Ben Witherington is an obsessive defender of the James Ossuary. Although this needs further scientific investigation, most scholars think that it is a forged inscription ( James, the BROTHER of Jesus)on an original first century ossuary. The ossuary appeared, without any known provenance, on the antiques market, always something to be suspicious about. One reason I made my original point was that if Witherington and his supporters is right Mary did not remain a virgin. As i understand it he argues that the ossuary provides conclusive evidence that Jesus had a brother.

Jessie said...

Anon,

Just for clarity's sake, why exactly is Luke "Not to be trusted"?

Kristofer said...

my history might be a little rusty here, but this is what I would suspect.

If I recall correctly great men such such as Alexander the Great and Augustus were believed by some to be born of virgins or at least miraclous in origin, even if their mothers were not virgins. I am not sure how much it would have been taken literally in the 1st century though.

Obviously a pagan biographer would consider Jesus to be greater then these figures, therefore he to would need to have a miraclous virgin birth.

Kristofer said...

I think the Gospels and Josephus provide evidence enough for Jesus having a brother.

Kristofer said...

oh Anon

you don't throw out an entire biography over one error

Jim S. said...

If I recall correctly great men such such as Alexander the Great and Augustus were believed by some to be born of virgins or at least miraclous in origin, even if their mothers were not virgins.

That's exactly the distinction Witherington is drawing. Pagan birth stories weren't virginal conceptions: they were stories of women having sex with a god. When people try to compare this with the virginal conception of Jesus, they often call them "virgin births" in order to make the parallels not be as vague -- then they turn around and marvel at the similarities.

Kristofer said...

ok not to hard to imagine these scenarios

a.) Pagan Convert to Christianity

Includes a miraculous birth story cause it seems appropriate for Je sus. He makes it virginal to be more in line with Judaism

b.) Hellenized Jew

Adds a miraculous birth motif to spice Jesus's life up a little, makes Mary virginal as not to offend Jewish sensibilities.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

A couple of problems with that. The ''virgin'' birth stores in pagan myths aren't virgin births; as Jim pointed out. David Adams Leeming also makes that point:

A virgin is someone who has not experienced sexual intercourse, and a virgin birth, or parthenogenesis (Gr., parthenos, "virgin"; genesis, "birth"), is one in which a virgin gives birth....the Ophic story of Dionysos, Zeus came to Persephone in the form of a serpent and impregnated her, so that the maiden's virginity was technically lost.

Raymond Brown's research on the Birth Narratives of Jesus also makes that point:

Are any of these divinely engendered births really parallel to the non-sexual virginal conception of Jesus described in the NT, where Mary is not impregnated by a male deity or element, but the child is begotten through the creative power of the Holy Spirit? These "parallels" consistently involve a type of hieros gamos (note: "holy seed" or "divine semen") where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration. In short, there is no clear example of virginal conception in world or pagan religions that plausibly could have given first-century Jewish Christians the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus.

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/copycat.html#vb

And to top it off, you're just speculating here, firing off the proverbial shots in the dark. You say a Pagan Convert might have done this or a Hellenized Jew might have done that; when all the scholars and research on the subject say that is extremely unlikely.

Kristofer said...

Karl

I think you misunderstand my point my point to a degree. I am not trying to prove anything per say. The exact reason why Matthew and Luke ( as opposed to Mark and John) saw the need to include a virgin birth story is almost certainly lost to history.

I made an educated guess, there I said it.

My point was that special births were part of both the Pagan and Hebrew world. I already mentioned Alexander and Augustus. For Jews you have Samuel, though that is a stretch I will confess.

My educated guess would be that either a Pagan Convert or a Hellenized Jew Convert would include such a story for Jesus just to spice up the story some. As for keeping Mary a virgin, well that wouldn't matter to a Pagan audience too much, but it would a Jewish one so why offend by not making her a virgin.

Can I prove my argument? Not really. But I can think of other ways to account for the virgin birth narratives without having to actually believe in a virgin birth.

Of course you can have a virgin birth naturally. Pardon my vulgarity but Joseph could have ejaculated on his wife and got her pregnant that way. While rare as heck such pregnancies do occur. I do confess this to be unlikely as if he did that with her I suspect soon his wives virginity would be non existent. So while that would be a virgin get pregnant I doubt she would be a virgin giving birth..

In the end my argument is simple. One can account for this story without it really happening. Is there anything per say irrational about my idea of a convert simply writing a spicy birth story for Jesus?

Kristofer said...

Karl

As for unlikely. It just takes one odd ball to do something well odd. You seem to believe Jesus rose from the dead, most people think that is odd but you seemingly believe it happened. L Ron Hubbard made up a religion on a bet. Truly odd wouldn't you say? Wouldn't experts on those time periods in American history say the unlikelihood of either event was great?

Okay my convert would have to be an odd fellow. But converting to Jesus at that time was an odd thing to do now wasn't it.

Karl said...

Kristofer.

I think you misunderstand my point my point to a degree....virgin birth story is almost certainly lost to history.

Could that be because that is what actually happened? Of course, your replies seem to indicate you don't want to consider that possibility.

I made an educated guess, there I said it.

No, an educated guess would have been to read scholarly works on the subject; works that make it clear the narrative of Jesus's virgin birth don't fit the traditional pagan narratives of god/human births. Something that even atheist historians like Micheal Grant point out; there is a reason mainstream scholars don't take the copycat myth seriously.

My point was that special births were part of both the Pagan and Hebrew world.

That maybe, but the details of those births is what sets them apart and makes them unique. Zeus getting it on with various peasant girls does not equal God artificially inducing Mary's pregnancy.

I already mentioned Alexander and Augustus. For Jews you have Samuel, though that is a stretch I will confess.

And do you have any evidence that these men did this beyond you insinuating they did so based on their own personal history? I am guessing no.

My educated guess would be...just to spice up the story some.

Despite the fact that scholars have pointed out, repeatedly, that the narrative of Jesus's birth does not follow the pagan tradition. I have already provided link explaining why.

Can I prove my argument? Not really. But I can think of other ways to account for the virgin birth narratives without having to actually believe in a virgin birth.

That's nice, I can think of other ways a lot of things could have happened in history besides the official story. Care to guess what these speculations are worth?

Of course you can have a virgin birth naturally...So while that would be a virgin get pregnant I doubt she would be a virgin giving birth..

Then why even bring it up if you admit this is unlikely?

In the end my argument is simple. One can account for this story without it really happening.

In other words, disproof by outright denial. You can conceive of the virgin birth as not really have happened, hence it cannot be true historical account.

Is there anything per say irrational about my idea of a convert simply writing a spicy birth story for Jesus?

You mean despite the fact that it runs counter to what all professional historians and theological scholars (even atheist ones like Grant) say about it? Or that it is based on logical fallacies (special pleading and disproof by outright denial)? Then I suppose no.

As for unlikely. It just takes one odd ball to do something well odd.

Wow, our first ad hominem in this discussion.

You seem to believe Jesus rose from the dead, most people think that is odd but you seemingly believe it happened. L Ron Hubbard made up a religion on a bet. Truly odd wouldn't you say?

Let's see, you are comparing a known conman who admitted to his deceit to a Jewish rabbi who actually performed miracles and nobody has put forward any valid evidence or reasoning to discredit them. I think that is called a Weak Analogy: A and B are similar in some respects. A has a certain characteristic. Therefore: B must have that characteristic too. Another logical fallacy.

Wouldn't experts on those time periods in American history say the unlikelihood of either event was great?

How would you know? You don't seem to be taking what the experts say about Jesus's birth narrative seriously.

Okay my convert would have to be an odd fellow. But converting to Jesus at that time was an odd thing to do now wasn't it.

Becoming an atheist is odd thing to do according to mainstream American society too. Do you see the flaw inherent in that line of reasoning?

Jim S. said...

My educated guess would be that either a Pagan Convert or a Hellenized Jew Convert would include such a story for Jesus just to spice up the story some.

Most scholars say that the early Church did not invent stories about Jesus. As N. T. Wright says (in Jesus and the Victory of God), "the evidence points to precisely the opposite conclusion."

Of course you can have a virgin birth naturally.

Karl already mentioned this in his Raymond Brown quote: "These "parallels" consistently involve a type of hieros gamos ... where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration." There are mythical stories of a god putting his "seed" in a pool of water, a woman then bathes in it, and thereby becomes pregnant. But that's not the same kind of thing as the virginal conception of Jesus. There was no "seed" that fertilized Mary's ovum, divine or otherwise. Thus, these stories belong to pagan divine birth stories and do not parallel the gospels' story of Jesus' virginal conception.

Kristofer said...

Lets make a small correction here. Most conservative scholars do not think the Church put words in the mouth of Jesus.

I am not saying everything the Jesus Seminar says is correct but they certainly are Bible Scholars who think the church made up some sayings, now aren't they?

Kristofer said...

I didn't notice your comment Karl

Relax some man. I am not saying the virgin birth at face value is impossible.

Odd things happen in history Karl. I have studied it all my life and the odd parts are what draw me back. The idea of a virgin birth is screwy in the ancient world, so is a weirdo founding a religion on a bet. But these things happen.

Why did Luke and Matthew have a virgin birth motif and John and Mark didn't. Well my guess would be because Luke and Matthew made it up. Of course you can find other explanations with varying degree of probabilities.

My point remains fundamentally correct even if you don't like it. The virgin birth historically did not really have to happen for someone to write them down.

Oh I wasn't being insulting when I said it would be an odd fellow who converted during that time. It was odd to convert to Christianity around 70 AD. Just as odd as converting to Mormonism say around 1870. I am not passing moral judgment on the guy.

Karl again calm down, we have no way of 100% knowing why Luke or Matthew did what they did. If you want to believe the virgin birth I don't mind, as for myself I will be skeptical.

Kristofer said...

and yes becoming an Atheist is an odd thing in the US now days. Most Atheists I know now days tend to be odd fellows too. Basically they are pissy science geeks

You assume I am an Atheist.

Jim S. said...

Lets make a small correction here. Most conservative scholars do not think the Church put words in the mouth of Jesus.

No. Most scholars. Not Christian scholars, not conservative scholars. Scholars. The Jesus Seminar does have some scholars in it, as well as some non-scholars (like Paul Verhoeven, the director of Showgirls). But they are the outer-most extreme and only constitute a fraction of scholarship. The consensus of scholarship agrees that the early Church was not making up stories of Jesus.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

Relax some man. I am not saying the virgin birth at face value is impossible.

You assume I am getting worked up. Besides, the way you're comments read suggest that you considered the virgin birth to impossible at face value.

Odd things happen in history Karl. I have studied it all my life and the odd parts are what draw me back. The idea of a virgin birth is screwy in the ancient world, so is a weirdo founding a religion on a bet. But these things happen.

A con artist fooling people on a bet is odd? I don't think that to be odd at all. Anyway, those two examples are completely different in many ways and they don't make an effective analogy.

Why did Luke and Matthew have a virgin birth motif and John and Mark didn't. Well my guess would be because Luke and Matthew made it up.

Or it could be that it has no relevance to the subjects in John and Mark? As J.P. Holding points out:

That being the case, we may suggest that the NT writers did NOT observe any christological significance in the virgin birth per se - any more than they did in any of Jesus' other miracles collectively. Hence, there was no need to go out of their way to report it, and we may agree with Anderson, who observes that all we can therefore say about the silence of the rest of the NT is that the virgin birth was simply "not a ground on which (the evangelists) called others to faith."

Brown's observations are confirmed elsewhere in more detail. Campenhausen [VonCamp.VBT], though skeptical of the virgin birth himself, has performed a survey of the theology of the virgin birth in the early church, and observes, rather dryly, that the virgin birth was "anything but the starting point of the early Christian message." (ibid., 10) He does not speculate as to why this was so, but does note that it was only in the time of Ireneaus that the virgin birth was regarded as an essential part of doctrine, with hints of its theological import being found earlier in the works of Justin (c. 150 AD). Thus, he writes (ibid., 24):

...the doctrine of the virgin birth was not formulated for the sake of a theological line of thought; it is simply a supposedly 'apostolic' piece of biblical tradition that was handed down.

This leads back to Brown's remark. The virgin birth was not seen in a christological perspective when Matthew and Luke reported it; hence, there is no reason for it to appear in Paul's letters or elsewhere in the NT. There is not even any reason for it to be in Mark and John (note that in the missionary preaching of Acts, the kerygma begins not with Jesus' birth, but with his baptism by John) - but there is a reason for Matthew and Luke to use it: The former wished to link it to the fulfillment of prophecy (Is. 7:14); the latter showed especial interest in the life of Mary.


http://www.tektonics.org/uz/virginbirth.html

My point remains fundamentally correct even if you don't like it. The virgin birth historically did not really have to happen for someone to write them down.

As Jim S. already pointed out: the consensus of scholarship agrees that the early Church was not making up stories of Jesus. As I have said before, all you have had to offer so far is idle speculation. Those points still remain even if you don't like them.

Karl again calm down

Tell me, when somebody else points out the flaws in your arguments do you always think they are getting worked up?

we have no way of 100% knowing why Luke or Matthew did what they did.

Rarely do we have 100% knowledge of anything but scholars on the subject are definitely over 90% sure about their motivations and methods.

You assume I am an Atheist.

Well, considering I have heard all of this, or variations of it, countless times out of the mouths of atheists can you really blame me for making that assumption?

Kristofer said...

Karl

Let me make sure I am understanding your positions.

The only position a reasonable person can take on the virgin birth is that it is just as much a brute historical fact as the existence of Jesus?

That it is fact the height of irrationality to be skeptical of the virgin birth actually occurring?

That no one out of the approximate 65 million souls who lived in the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD could possibly have conceived of blending pagan miraculous birth stories with certain Jewish behaviors and norms?

Are those in fact your three positions?

Of course you are simply wrong in your claim no NT Scholar accepts the idea of the Gospel writers creating stories and sayings about Jesus, after all the Jesus Seminar takes that position and they are NT Scholars last time I looked.

Karl you can drag up scholars to the end of time who will say that it is unlikely that a convert would merge Pagan and Hebrew stories together to make a virgin birth but you miss the point. It just takes one Karl. For example it is highly improbable to win the lottery, but clearly someone does.

For example scholars of the 1950s would tell you it is highly unlikely a person would create a religion on a bet. However unlikely that is though, one person did. It just takes one.

Kristofer said...

Jim

Could I have a list of liberal scholars who reject the notion of the church creating saying?

Karl said...

Kristofer,

The only position a reasonable person can take on the virgin birth is that it is just as much a brute historical fact as the existence of Jesus?

No, what I am trying to point out to you is that Jesus's birth narrative has several unique features that sets it apart from pagan traditions. You are free to reject the virgin birth and threat it as a myth, that is your prerogative. However, you going around saying the birth story is a copy-cat of pagan myths when the large body of scholarly evidence says no is what I have a problem with.

That it is fact the height of irrationality to be skeptical of the virgin birth actually occurring?

No, the height of irrationality is to claim it is a copy-cat myth, dismiss the large body of scholars (including non-Christian scholars) and scholarly evidence on the subject and to put forward arguments that seem to be based entirely of logical fallacies (I notice you favor special pleading) is irrational.

That no one out of the approximate 65 million souls who lived in the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD could possibly have conceived of blending pagan miraculous birth stories with certain Jewish behaviors and norms?

And you keep saying that one of them did; despite having zero evidence to back it up and pretty much delivering the big FU to the vast majority of scholars on the subject and two thousand years of scholarly research that says otherwise?

Are those in fact your three positions?

No, those are strawmen mockeries of my positions that you have erected in order to knock down.

Of course you are simply wrong in your claim no NT Scholar accepts the idea of the Gospel writers creating stories and sayings about Jesus, after all the Jesus Seminar takes that position and they are NT Scholars last time I looked.

If you will look at my posts again I am sure you will find that I never said none did. There are always fringe scholars. The point is that the vast majority of scholars say different to what you are insinuating. The mainstream body of scholarly work counts more then the crackpot theories of the lunatic fringe. Or do you not seem to realize that the Jesus Seminar is the joke of Biblical scholarship:

http://www.tektonics.org/qt/talkinhead.html

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover1.html

Karl you can drag up scholars to the end of time who will say that it is unlikely that a convert would merge Pagan and Hebrew stories together to make a virgin birth but you miss the point. It just takes one Karl. For example it is highly improbable to win the lottery, but clearly someone does.

And what you don't seem to realize Kristofer that you keep insinuating but provide no hard evidence to back up your pet conspiracy theory. Or that your entire argument there is a logical fallacy. Perhaps you should read up on it: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/special-pleading.html

For example scholars of the 1950s would tell you it is highly unlikely a person would create a religion on a bet.

And how would you know that? Did you poll them? Or do you have some studies you can point to? Or are you simply assuming that is what they would say (in other words, pulled it out of thin air)? And maybe you ought to read up on false comparison too while your at it. http://www.angelfire.com/ks2/fallacies/fallcomp.htm

However unlikely that is though, one person did. It just takes one.

And the fact that one person did something in one century proves that someone (who exactly you are not sure of) might (again you have presented no evidence beyond idle speculation prove that this is what happened or was even possible) have done something else a couple of thousand years earlier? Do you have anything besides special pleading, the Galileo Fallacy, false comparisons and appeals to the unknown in your arguments?

Kristofer said...

Karl

I give up.

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

I have not said Jesus's birth was a copy of a pagan myth. I said it was a product of a time in which people did believe in the possibility of supernatural conceptions and considered it to be a rational thing. Both Pagans and Hebrews accepted this on
occasion, especially for respected people.

All I suggested was that someone, somewhere did something similar for Jesus and made it a unique story. Who would be a likely offender. A pagan convert. Why? Cause when people convert they sometimes retain some of their old religious convictions. If you doubt that think about the Festival of the Dead in Mexico. This person in question would hardly consider it dishonest or absurd.

Do you think it was normal when Joseph Smith claimed the Angel Moroni revealed to him the Golden Tablets. Surely such an event was unique in American History and Literature. The religious doctrine that Jesus visited North America is without precedent in both Christian and Secular thought and literature. Do you spend any hours pondering this literary and historical first or do you accept the fact Joseph Smith made it up? Come on this idea was unprecedented and it just exploded on the scene of American History. How can anyone possibly doubt it?

Dianetics was again a literary and historical first in American History, do you truly now believe L Ron Hubbard had some profound knowledge or he made it. Come on this idea was unprecedented and it just exploded on the scene of American History. The idea of alien souls coming from planet Xenu is without precedent in both Christian and Secular thought and literature.

These are all examples of literary and religious creativity, they happen. In am Empire with 65 million people such creativity surely existed either in writing or orally. It obviously does not prove the authenticity of the religious claim it just proves the creativity.

Okay lets go with the argument that Luke and Matthew were literary first, so what? Does that mean the virgin birth is fact now. If being a literary first is proof of correctness why reject the Book of Mormon or Dianetics as mentioned above.

Of course Ben Witherington III quote sounds good but it is fatally flawed.

The vast majority of writings from this time period have simply been lost. Not saying deliberately, I am just saying lost.

Now consider oral stories. They too have been lost.

Of course I do not expect this to be surveyed as that is impossible.

However Witherington quote would become correct if he said this

Any comparison of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 to SURVIVING pagan divine birth stories leads to the conclusion that the Gospel stories cannot be explained simply on the basis of such comparisons. ... For what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story of ... a divine being descending to earth and, in the guise of a man, mating with a human woman, but rather the story of miraculous conception without the aid of any man, divine or otherwise. As such, this story is without precedent either in SURVIVING Jewish or pagan literature. TRAGICALLY LITERATURE AND ORAL TRADITION THAT HAS BEEN LOST MIGHT CONTAIN THESE ELEMENTS, HOWEVER STUDIES ON REMAINING LITERATURE DO SEEM TO INDICATE THE VIRGIN BIRTH STORY IS UNIQUE IN BOTH PAGAN AND JEWISH THOUGHT"

Kristofer said...

In the end Karl for your argument to work you have to explain why the same creative forces that created unique literary firsts such as the Book of Mormon or Dianetics could not have created the virgin birth accounts. People making up religious accounts is well known, Yahweh impregnating a women seems rare to say it kindly.

The main differences between the authors of Luke and Matthew and Joseph Smith and L Ron Hubbard is we don't know who they are and their exact motives are lost in time. Two thousand years, a collapse of an Empire and a three hundred year " Dark Age" can tragically lose such information.

However I can rationally reject the virgin birth even if it is a unique first for the simple reason religious creativity has produced many unique firsts that are simply not true. Truly, what is one more?

I might be wrong. Maybe this happened. However let me ask you, is it possible for the literary forces I mentioned earlier to produce the virgin birth narratives? If it is impossible why is it impossible

Kristofer said...

Realistically Karl that was checkmate.

Witherington at most proved that the virgin birth narrative is not like SURVIVING Pagan accounts.

Lost pagan religious literature could certainly have had these feature.

Even more problematic is oral stories. Literacy in the Roman Empire ran about 10-15 percent, being charitable. Certainly some oral stories could be similar.

So in the end we cannot truly know if this story was unique or not. At best we can say it seems that way.

Your second problem is being unique simply proves it is unique. Many religious ideas are unique but are not true.

This uniqueness argument will never prove the virgin birth. It proves at most that it seems unique and that is a claim a reasonable person could doubt.

Before you say I have yet to disprove the virgin birth I really don't have to. After all, there are no known cases of Yahweh impregnating a women and their are numerous cases of religiously unique ideas being false. I have shown two good reasons for pardon the legal term " reasonable doubt". Therefore I can come to the conclusion the virgin birth happened

Kristofer said...

did not happen, my computer has some bugs in it :(

Karl said...

Kristofer,

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

Funny, I could say the same thing about you.

I have not said Jesus's birth was a copy of a pagan myth.

Like hell you didn't:

Obviously a pagan biographer would consider Jesus to be greater then these figures, therefore he to would need to have a miraclous virgin birth.

Includes a miraculous birth story cause it seems appropriate for Je sus. He makes it virginal to be more in line with Judaism

Two examples from two different posts that say otherwise. Shall we look for more?

I said it was a product of a time in...Hebrews accepted this on
occasion, especially for respected people.


And you have completely ignored any and all evidence and scholarship that points to Jesus's birth narrative being unique and/or not made up.

All I suggested was that someone, somewhere did something similar for Jesus and made it a unique story....This person in question would hardly consider it dishonest or absurd.

And I have asked you for proof, scholarly sources and evidence that you so far have failed to provide. Instead I get more and more logical fallacies like appeals to the unknown and special pleading.

Do you think it was normal when Joseph Smith...Surely such an event was unique in American History and Literature.

Supernatural events aren't supposed to be normal by their very definition. And angelic visitations in the Abrahamic tradition aren't all that unique. The Bible is full of scenes were angels delivered messages to mortals.

The religious doctrine that Jesus visited North America is without precedent...first or do you accept the fact Joseph Smith made it up?

Most scholars tend to look claims over before deciding whither or not they are true or false. Something tells me you don't. Second off, not all Mormons believe that Jesus visited North America, not by a long shot.

Dianetics was again a literary and historical first in American History, do you truly now believe L Ron Hubbard had some profound knowledge or he made it.

The point you seem to be ignoring Kristofer is that we know Dianetics is crap because Hubbard admitted to it. Do I have to explain to you the difference between a known con job and a historical event that has not been proven false and the evidence for its falsehood has been found severely lacking? To hold it at the same level as the Mormon angelic visits or the virgin birth is a false comparison; something you seem to have trouble grasping.

These are all examples of literary...either in writing or orally.

Maybe, maybe not. After all, there were skilled propagandists who could have faked the Holocaust during World War II. Know why people don't take the fake Holocaust theories seriously? Massive amounts of evidence to contrary. So here is the problem, you are simply insinuating this happened without providing any evidence to support your little conspiracy theory while we have a large body of scholarly evidence that goes against it.

Okay lets go with the argument that Luke and Matthew...virgin birth is fact now.

And this tells me you didn't read the sources I provided (somehow I am not surprised). The argument was that Matthew and Luke had reason to refer to the virgin birth the other two didn't: there is a reason for Matthew and Luke to use it: The former wished to link it to the fulfillment of prophecy (Is. 7:14); the latter showed especial interest in the life of Mary.

Karl said...

Continued...

If being a literary first is proof of correctness why reject the Book of Mormon or Dianetics as mentioned above.

How many times do I have to spell this out for you? We know Dianetics to be false; Hubbard testified before the Supreme Court and admitted to making it up. We know from his conversations it's a a load of crap. We don't know the Virgin Birth to be false nor do we know the Mormon accounts to be false and evidence that they are false is rather slim on the ground; to compare them to Diantetics is like comparing apples to oranges.

TRAGICALLY LITERATURE...THE VIRGIN BIRTH STORY IS UNIQUE IN BOTH PAGAN AND JEWISH THOUGHT"

Kristofer, do you know what appeal to the unknown (also known as appeal to ignorance)is? It is a logical fallacy: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

Instead of evidence you are providing more speculation, this time that literature that proves characteristics of Jesus's birth were common motifs in ancient literature were all lost or destroyed? Do you know how unlikely that is?

In the end Karl for your argument to work you have to explain why...is well known, Yahweh impregnating a women seems rare to say it kindly.

Again with the false comparison. Now we can add another fallacy to your arguments, Burden of Proof.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-of-proof.html

In case you have forgotten Kristofer, you are the one who has been making substantial claims and haven't provided any evidence beyond speculation and vague references to fringe groups like the Jesus Seminar.

The main differences between the authors of Luke and Matthew and Joseph Smith and L Ron Hubbard is we don't know who they are and their exact motives are lost in time.

Kristofer, we know a lot about Luke and Matthew's motives and methods. I provided you with links which provides you with just a fraction of the information out there, you haven't seemed to have really looked at them.

I might be wrong. Maybe this happened. However let me ask you, is it possible for the literary forces I mentioned earlier to produce the virgin birth narratives? If it is impossible why is it impossible

Let me repeat what I said earlier. This is an appeal to ignorance. It is wild speculation with no hard evidence to back it up. Mainstream science doesn't allow UFO enthusiasts to get away with this type of reasoning why should religious scholars allow you?

Realistically Karl that was checkmate.

A half-dozen logical fallacies and wild ass speculation checkmates two thousand years of scholarship by some of the greatest minds in history? I don't think so.

Your second problem is being unique simply proves it is unique. Many religious ideas are unique but are not true.

And how many of these unique ideas withstood two thousand years of criticism, research, the ravages of time, etc...?

This uniqueness argument will never prove the virgin birth. It proves at most that it seems unique and that is a claim a reasonable person could doubt.

The uniqueness argument wasn't intended to prove the virgin birth, it was intended to prove it wasn't copied from pagan myths.

Before you say I have yet to disprove the virgin birth I really don't have to. After all, there are no known cases of Yahweh impregnating a women and their are numerous cases of religiously unique ideas being false. I have shown two good reasons for pardon the legal term " reasonable doubt". Therefore I can come to the conclusion the virgin birth did not happen

Kristofer, the fact that we have the term reasonable doubt shows there is a such thing as unreasonable doubt. Wild speculation with no evidence to back it up coupled with appeals to the unknown would not fly in a court of law. Ask a judge if you doubt me.

Kristofer said...

Karl

Right now we are running in circles.

However we have a professional historian on this site.

I recommend we create a new post.

There I will lay my basic points out and you can lay yours. Then we can let Dr Hannam and others chime in.

Sound fair. If you think it is I will create a post with my basic case.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

Right now we are running in circles.

Small surprise.

However we have a professional historian on this site. I recommend we create a new post. There I will lay my basic points out and you can lay yours. Then we can let Dr Hannam and others chime in.

Jim already 'chimed in' and it didn't do much good. What makes you think Dr. Hannam putting his two cents in is going to accomplish anything?

Sound fair. If you think it is I will create a post with my basic case.

Don't bother, I only see this discussion going nowhere.

Kristofer said...

oh well

takes two to be reasonable I suppose

read this article by Dr Hannam

http://www.bede.org.uk/literature.htm

I want you to really notice this part

"So just what proportion of ancient literature has been lost? This is difficult to answer but we can get a rough estimate from the size of ancient libraries. Archaeology suggests that the biggest contained 20,000 or so scrolls and the Great Library of Alexandria itself is most reliably said to have contained 40,000. On the other hand, all the extant pagan classical works would not fill much more than a thousand scrolls so we have been left with about 5% of what might be found (barring repeat copies) in Rome. As for Latin, we have the names of 772 classical authors. Of these, not a word survives from 276 of them. We have fragments ranching from an aphorism to several pages of 352 of the authors. Of the remaining 144, we possess at least one of their works but rarely all of them. "

So we are simply missing 95 % of relevant ancient writing and 100% of relevant oral tradition.

With such a huge gap in our knowledge there is no way to ever known if the idea of a virgin birth was truly unique or not. At most as I stated earlier Witherington has shown that remaining five percent does not contain a virgin birth. However they still contain supernatural conceptions, which is enough to make any reasonable person skeptical of the virgin birth of Jesus.

As for religious creativity. It has produced many new ideas throughout the years. Why would it shock me if it produced something such as the virgin birth, when it created stuff such as Jesus visiting North America after his crucifixion.

Your argument fails Karl for those two reasons.

Karl said...

Krisotfer,

Yeah, it does indeed take two to have reasonable a reasonable discussion.

read this article by Dr Hannam
http://www.bede.org.uk/literature.htm


Funny you bring up that essay on Hannam's site while ignoring another one much more relevant to this discussion:

http://www.bede.org.uk/frazer.htm

For instance, the hero will typically have a miraculous conception or birth - but it's hardly legitimate to compare the story of the virgin birth recounted in the Gospels with, say, Zeus raping Leda in the form of a swan simply because both involve some sort of supernatural element. What such 'similarities' boil down to seems to be the earth-shattering revelation that supernatural things happen to supernatural figures, which is essentially a tautology.

I cannot think of a single case in which Christianity can be shown to have borrowed a core doctrine from another religion.

None of the attempts made by sceptics to demonstrate that Christianity is false because it contains alleged pagan elements is credible or convincing. There are admittedly many good arguments against Christianity, but this simply is not one of them.

So we are simply missing 95 %... relevant oral tradition.

Yes, but those samples that survived provide many examples of pagan myths and insights into their thought processes and mythical structure. Now if the unique characteristics of the virgin birth were common motifs in pagan stories as you have claimed some of the surviving ones would have displayed these motifs. They don't.

With such a huge gap in our knowledge there... does not contain a virgin birth.

And with such huge gap in our knowledge we might not know that the ancients invented electricity and powered flight. See problem here? No matter how you phrase it this is still an appeal to ignorance, this is still a logical fallacy. By appealing to lost scrolls, you can claim any odd story associated with an historical figure is a copy of a pagan myth without any evidence to substantiate your claims.

However they still contain supernatural conceptions, which is enough to make any reasonable person skeptical of the virgin birth of Jesus.

Constructing arguments out of the logical fallacies appeal to the unknown, special pleading and false comparison is reasonable?

As for religious creativity. It has produced many new ideas throughout the years. Why would it shock me if it produced something such as the virgin birth, when it created stuff such as Jesus visiting North America after his crucifixion.

Humans are creative, that is true. Also true is that human scholars also try to record history as accurately as possible. The point you fail to grasp is that simply because a person can make up a creative story is not an effective criticism, you need a second premise that gives some reason as to why this is the case concerning this specific narrative.

Your argument fails Karl for those two reasons.

Between this comment and earlier ones like Realistically Karl that was checkmate you seem to be very quick to claim victory when evidence of said victory severly lacking. Especially since everything you have said thus far can be summed up like this:

The Virgin Birth story is copy of pagan myths; despite the fact that no existing pre-Christian pagan literature contains these motifs. That doesn't prove anything; stories containing these motifs could have been lost (never mind the only evidence we have that they might exist in the first place is my imagination). Oh, and people can be creative with story telling (please ignore all the scholarly evidence that points to these stories not being made up or the fact that I haven't provided anything remotely resembling hard evidence to support my claim)

Russell said...

Does anybody else think it is funny that Kristofer said "I have not said Jesus's birth was a copy of a pagan myth." And then a few paragraphs down he goes "Lost pagan religious literature could certainly have had these feature."

Kristofer said...

Actually no Russell

Cause I do not think Jesus's birth was a DIRECT copy of a Pagan Myth. However it was a product of the 1st century AD and in the first century AD people did believe that at times miracolous conceptions did occur. While the fact that Jesus's was allegedly done by Yahweh and the married women remained a virgin till Jesus was born for whatever reason until she gave birth is interesting , absurd, (didn't Joseph want sex) and novel, but still in the end it is still is along the theme of miracolous conception. Before you all say Yahweh never helped with conceptions, remember he helped and Abraham and Sarah and also he helped Samuel's mother. Of course many men probably prayed orally to Yahweh to help with conception and at times in fact it seemingly worked. Or do you think no Jew considered that idea?

Did you notice something here. Yahweh aiding with conception. Does that seem familiar, maybe? Maybe just maybe like a certain Jew named Jesus.

Now let us consider the Pagans. They did have the concept of God's impregnating women. I will say they tended to do it in the form of an animal, the point still remains they knocked up women. Now of course everyday Pagans probably prayed to their God's to help their wives conceive, or do you think no Pagan had that idea.

I want you to notice now. We have a world view, both Pagan and Hebrew, very friendly to the idea of a deity helping with a pregnancy one way or another. Now I want you to notice something, Jesus's birth was certainly a case of a deity allegedly having something to do with a pregnancy. Does this even make you slightly suspicious?

Now does it occur to you that maybe someone told a tall tale, a lie early on and it stuck. You know lets make Jesus sound important. Be shocked such dishonesty occurred back then. This might also come as a shock too but Christians do at times lie when doing missionary work. For example when they told the barbarians about Jesus being a great warlord .

Now imagine an early Pagan convert. He wants to make Jesus more special, but he knows the Pagan stories well enough ( being Pagan and all) to make his story different then the other ones. That is called CREATIVITY. Be shocked but it happens. People were creative then. Now be prepared to be shocked again, people believed him, cause in their worldview they expect special people to have well a special paternity. Shocking I know but people believe things they tend to agree with. Wow I just offered another explanation for how we can get something as unique as the virgin birth( assuming it is unique after all, you still have that minor 95% loss of literature and that peddling 100% loss of oral tradition) without having to resort to Yahweh himself actually impregnating a virgin. WOW!!!



So lets rehash a little. We know the following things happen



a.) lying

b.) creativity

c.) gullibility

They seem to happen a lot.

Now lets discuss cases where a deity impregnated a women. Care to discuss a known case. I hear the tumbleweeds in the background....

Kristofer said...

Karl

You're argument seems to be this. Hey look it's unique and new. It most be true!!

No one would ever lie or be creative when telling people about my blessed Jesus...

Have you even read the New Testament Karl, I am seriously wondering.

You cannot think of any time when someone took some creative liberties in the synoptics.

Well let me show you something :)

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/reviled.html

If you read the link you will notice Luke amended the thief story when he copied it from Mark. Matthew stayed true to Mark.

So Luke amended the story in CREATIVE and dishonest way. Isn't that what I have suggested?

Lets consider these verses- YLT

Mark 6:1-6

5and he was NOT able there any mighty work to do, except on a few infirm people having put hands he did heal [them];

Matthew 13:54-58

58 and he DID NOT there many mighty works, because of their unbelief

Luke 4:16-30

Luke doesn't even mention he couldn't do miracles.

So lets see, Mark says he couldn't, Matthew says he wouldn't ( maybe cause a deity that cannot do something is not a real deity) and Luke avoids it all together.

Truly Matthew and Luke would never be creative or stretch the truth at all.

How can I be so blind!

Karl said...

Kristofer,

You're argument...It most be true!!

No Kristofer, the argument was that it's unique and new therefore it was not copying pagan myths or borrowing motifs from them.

No one would ever lie or be creative when telling people about my blessed Jesus...

And here you go again, insinuating without any evidence that people were 'lying' or being 'creative.' What does it take to drive the point home into that little brain of yours that if you accuse someone of dishonesty you need evidence to make the accusation stick? Especially when there is a large body of evidence to suggest they were being honest.

You cannot think of any time when someone took some creative liberties in the synoptics.

Maybe you don’t realize how scholarship works, but most academics demand evidence to support a theory. Insinuation that something might have happened this way without any evidence to back it up does not fly in academia.

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/reviled.html

I have known about Skeptics Annotated Bible for sometime. My opinion of them is the same as Holding’s: Editorial commentary in the form of pictures and one-sentence comments are not arguments. SAB is the Internet equivalent to a brick wall scribbled with graffiti. It performs no analysis of the social background, the literary data, or context. It is merely "instant reaction" from an angry Skeptic, and that sort of arguing isn't arguing at all. http://www.tektonics.org/sab/sab.html


If you read the link you will notice Luke amended...Isn't that what I have suggested?

Or it could be Luke had access to different sources then Mark. Or Luke knew something about thief story that Mark didn’t. Or vice versa.

So lets see, Mark says he couldn't...Luke avoids it all together.

The fact Mark and Matthew disagree as to the motivations for the event doesn’t change the fact that they are still reporting the exact same event and that the core facts of said event remain unchanged. There is no evidence of dishonesty. Your comment on Luke is an argument from silence (another logical fallacy); Luke could have very easily not felt the need to address it since Mark and Matthew already talked about it.

Truly Matthew... How can I be so blind!

Suppose police are called to the scene of a hit and run; one witness reports the car that did the deed was a dark blue KIA. Another says it was a black Chevy. So by your reasoning the police should conclude that one or both of the witness’s are being creative with the truth.

Karl said...

Oh Kristofer, I couldn't help but notice these on your reply to Russell:

So lets rehash a little...gullibility They seem to happen a lot.

The obvious rebuttal to that is we also know that d) people telling the truth happens a lot e) people reporting what they honestly saw happens a lot f) blinkered skeptics using arguments composed of logical fallacies happens a lot g) there thickheaded skeptics out there who are unable to grasp simple concepts like rules of evidence or what a logical fallacy is.

Now does it occur to you that maybe someone told a tall tale... Be shocked such dishonesty occurred back then.

Everybody knows dishonesty occurred back then. Humans haven’t changed much in the last couple of thousand years. The point that I have stressed repeatedly is the need for evidence to support an accusation of dishonesty. Or is that too big a concept for your small narrow-minded brain to handle?

Before you all say Yahweh never helped with conceptions...Or do you think no Jew considered that idea?

There is a big difference between helping someone become pregnant and actually having sex with them yourself. But I suppose congratulations are in order; your argument also equates Obstetricians with Whores and Rapists. I am sure the medical community will be pleased

Now I want you to notice something...Does this even make you slightly suspicious?

Justin’s essay already addressed this: the hero will typically have a miraculous conception or birth - but it's hardly legitimate to compare the story of the virgin birth recounted in the Gospels with, say, Zeus raping Leda in the form of a swan simply because both involve some sort of supernatural element.

Now, do you have anything else besides repeating the same old tired song like a broken record?

Kristofer said...

And when will it penetrate your thick skull that it is by far much more likely people lied etc then the almighty creator of the universe choose to knock up a Jewish child about 2000 years ago.... Does the fact Mark did not mention it even give you a slight hint? How about the fact Paul mentioned it? So they knew about it and choose not to mention it? How about the fact other early Christian groups denied it too?

Oh Robert I think the Earth is 10K years old and dinosaurs lived next to man Turkel doesn't like SAB. Damn. How many times has Farrell Till skinned him alive now?

Of course the purpose of my link was to let you see the verses side by side, which you seemed to fail to understand. Would you have made such a stink if I had just copy and pasted them? So Luke had access to extra material, where might this material be ( so it is okay for you to postulate now but not me, typical apologist). Why didn't Matthew mention this, did he not have access to this material ? Why didn't Mark know this? Wasn't 40 years enough time to discover it?

So let me get this straight now. When Mark was composed around 70 AD he didn't know one of the crucified thieves repented but ten years later Luke alone discovered this? Making sure I understand your argument now. Not sure if your an inerranticist but if you are wouldn't that be an error in Mark?

Tell me all the other unique religious doctrines you believe. Do you believe Jesus was switched at the cross like Mohammed said. How about Jesus came to North America? Unique idea, thus it most be true. Jesus was a space alien. Unique so it most be true!! My personal favorite is the Xeno one myself..

The sad thing is Karl probably does think dinosaurs lived with men. He probably thinks by far the most reasonable explanation for any miracle in the Bible is that it happened. By God if the Bible said Jesus teleported to Jupiter to preach to aliens he would believe it.

This isn't about evidence. This is about Karl and fundamentalism. He clearly thinks that I have some great burden to DISPROVE a miraculous claim that known incidents of it happening are in fact zero. My offering the standard explanation of how any religious doctrine began is probably okay with him for Mormonism and Scientology but it is the height of irrationality to even suggest it with the virgin birth.

I am sometimes amazed at a world in which people have to DISPROVE claims o fa God impregnating a virgin, a corpse rising from the dead, an Angel giving a camel driver a new revelation, Jesus teleporting to North American to preach to the Indians etc.

Of course Karl has given me an impossible burden of proof. He wants the exact name of a person who might make up a story about Jesus, along with a time and date. He probably wants three eyewitnesses. Of course the fact if this event happened it happened 2000 years ago so therefore I cannot possibly get it. Lucky for him.

Of course it is impossible for me to provide this.

So in the end folk it is far more like a virgin birth occurred then it was religious fraud ( cause that never happens in Christianity). And behold the evidence for this virgin birth!

Witherington says it is unlike Pagan Stories. And how does he do this. Well folks he analyzes the 5% of remaining Pagan Literature! Gee it is simply impossible that such a religious idea might appear in the remaining 95% Of course lets not forget about all the oral traditions. Of course Karl thinks that is the height of absurdity to even suggest this vast literature might in fact contain something that could have refuted his pet scholar.

It is unique!! All unique stories are true!! Just like Jesus coming to North America!

If you doubt the virgin birth after that, you are just irrational.

Karl said...

Alright Kristofer, I am growing tired of this.

And when will it penetrate your thick skull that it is by far much more likely people lied....How about the fact other early Christian groups denied it too?

Because there is a massive amount of to say that they didn't lie. I already provided you with some of them, here is some more:

Confirming the antiquity of this tradition is the remarkably "Hebraic" character of both birth accounts: the theology and language of these chapters seem more characteristic of the OT than the NT, as many scholars have noted. This fact renders very unlikely the hypothesis that the virgin birth is a theologoumenon, a story invented by the early church to buttress its Christological dogma. There is here no mention of Jesus' preexistence. His title "Son of God" is seen to be future, as is his inheritance of the Davidic throne (Luke 1:32, 35). In the birth narratives Jesus is the OT Messiah, the son of David, the fulfillment of prophecy, the one who will rescue God's people through mighty deeds, exalting the humble and crushing the proud (Luke 1:46-55). The writers draw no inference from the virgin birth concerning Jesus' deity or ontological sonship to God; rather, they simply record the event as a historical fact and (for Matthew) as a fulfillment of Isa. 7:14.

Not much is known about the author of Matthew, but there is much reason to ascribe the third Gospel to Luke the physician (Col. 4:14), a companion of Paul (II Tim. 4:11; cf. the "we" passages in Acts, such as 27:1ff.) who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-5). Luke claims to have made a careful study of the historical data (1:1-4), and that claim has been repeatedly vindicated in many details even by modern skeptical scholars such as Harnack. Both his vocations, historian and physician, would have prevented him from responding gullibly to reports of a virgin birth.
http://mb-soft.com/believe/txo/virginbi.htm


Oh Robert I think the Earth is 10K years old and dinosaurs lived next to man Turkel doesn't like SAB. Damn. How many times has Farrell Till skinned him alive now?

Funny, I thought criticsim essay of SAB I linked to was written by a man named was James Patrick Holding. Can't you even get that little detail right?

Would you have made such a stink if I had just copy and pasted them?.... Wasn't 40 years enough time to discover it?

I have provided you with a link to an essay above that answers that question. Here is another one:

William Childs Robinson, the emeritus professor of historical theology at Columbia Theological Seminary, points out that "what is explicit in Matthew and Luke is implicit in Paul and John."

Robert Gromacki writes that "it is not tenable to argue from silence to disbelief or from silence to an ignorance of the doctrine. The apostles did not record everything that they taught or knew (cf. John 20:30). In fact, the so-called silence argument of the liberal can boomerang on him. Since Paul did not mention any human father for the person Jesus, does that mean that he believed that Jesus had no human father? Most regard silence as assent. If Paul and the others did not believe in the virgin birth, should they not have corrected the earlier birth narratives? The argument of silence can be used both ways. Actually, no confession or denial should ever be based upon the argument from silence."


http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/myredeemer/Evidencep18.html

Kristofer said...

quick response for now

Cause in fact Robert Turkel is his real name.

http://www.theskepticalreview.com/AuthorRobertTurkel.html

Karl said...

Continued...

Tell me all the other unique religious doctrines you believe. Do you believe Jesus was switched at the cross like Mohammed said. How about Jesus came to North America? Unique idea, thus it most be true. Jesus was a space alien. Unique so it most be true!! My personal favorite is the Xeno one myself..

Oh how cute, appeal to ridicule mixed with appeal to the unknown and the good old ad homninem attack and, of course, the strawmen. You won't be satisfied until after you have used all the logical fallacies there are, will you? And how many times do I have to tell you that the uniqueness argument wasn't to prove it was true, it was to prove it wasn't copied from somewhere else? I have said it about six times.


The sad thing is Karl probably does think dinosaurs lived with men.

I have no problems with evolution and the age of the Earth. Really, is insults all you have got now?

He probably thinks by far the most reasonable explanation for any miracle in the Bible is that it happened. By God if the Bible said Jesus teleported to Jupiter to preach to aliens he would believe it.

Yep, insults is all you have got now.

This isn't about evidence. This is about Karl and fundamentalism. He clearly thinks that I have some great burden to DISPROVE a miraculous claim that known incidents of it happening are in fact zero.

In my experience the people quickest to accuse other people of fundamentalism are fundamentalists of a different sort. And no, your great burden is to back up you allegations of dishonesty. Funny though, the claim this isn't about evidence comes from a guy who has provided none.

Of course Karl has given me an impossible burden of proof. He wants the exact name of a person who might make up a story about Jesus, along with a time and date.

Considering that you are saying that one of the core doctrines of the largest and most powerful religion in the world is based on a deceit and that the vast majority of mainstream scholarship that says otherwise is wrong I only think it is fair. Isn't 'Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Evidence' the skeptical slogan?

Of course it is impossible for me to provide this.

If you know your own position is impossible to prove then why act like you have an infallible argument?

So in the end folk it is far more like a virgin birth occurred then it was religious fraud ( cause that never happens in Christianity). And behold the evidence for this virgin birth!

How many truckloads of straw did you order Kristofer? Because you seem to be building a lot of strawmen.

Well folks he analyzes the 5% of remaining Pagan Literature! Gee it is simply impossible that such a religious idea might appear in the remaining 95% Of course lets not forget about all the oral traditions.

The point you overlook Kristofer is that we also have Christian replies to Pagan critics. Tertullian Apologeticum XV, XXi; Origen Against Celsus I 37 clearly states that when comparing the virginal conception of Jesus to the pagan birth legends there is no affinity but rather a sharp contrast between the two. Tertullian's works, the Apologeticum or Apologeticus is a defense of Christianity against the unreasoning and unreasonable criticism of the unbelievers was composed in the summer or autumn of 197. In other words, back when those pagan literature tracks and oral traditions you keep referring to weren't lost. http://www.tertullian.org/works/apologeticum.htm

http://www.messianicart.com/chazak/yeshua/paganparallelsvirginbirth.htm

So obviously you haven;t looked too closely at the stuff that did survive.

Cause in fact Robert Turkel is his real name.

And I am supposed to take a skeptical fanboy's word that Farrell Till skinned him alive now?

And don't expect another reply, because I am getting tired of debating the local internet idiot.

Kristofer said...

and folks now we have a clear example of Christian love and kindness in action. No kind words for me. Typical. No turn the other cheek.

No obeying of Col 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

or maybe this

Mt 5:38

38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.


or this

MT 5:13 ¶ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Now why don't you try reading the debates between Farrell Till and Robert Turkel ( Holding). I will give you a hint there is a reason Till provides links to Holding's articles, and Holding does not provide the same.


http://www.theskepticalreview.com/MainMenu.html

Honestly I am not surprised at all with this. Christians are quick to insult and belittle when their precious doctrines are refuted. Of course Karl was silent on Holding's creationist ways. I suspect Karl shares Holding's creation nonsense views. Inerrancy too I suspect.

Heaven forbid you point out the forces that created all other religious nonsense known to man might have produced a Christians precious doctrines and he will flip out.

Karl said...

Okay Kristofer that really deserves an answer,

and folks now we have a clear example of Christian love and kindness in action. No kind words for me. Typical. No turn the other cheek.

Do you deserve kindness? Especially since you were the one who started casting insults and pretty much set the tone for this debate? Do you honestly expect me to be nice to you after crap like By God if the Bible said Jesus teleported to Jupiter to preach to aliens he would believe it? Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Exodus 21:24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. So quite frankly, what did you expect? You want somebody to be nice to you and respect your views, you had better be nice to them and be respectful. In other words quit the damn pity party; you got what you gave.

No obeying of Col 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace... but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Oh this is just rich. The guy who just spent the last several days claiming duplicity on the sake of the Biblical authors and insinuating that certain Biblical stories are untrue turns to Biblical verses when he got hammered in the debate he started! Sorry Kristofer, having burned that bridge you are not entitled to cross it at a later date.

Now why don't you try reading the debates between Farrell Till and Robert Turkel ( Holding). I will give you a hint there is a reason Till provides links to Holding's articles, and Holding does not provide the same.

Oh, I already Googled Till once you mentioned his name. From what I have seen so far, he likes logical fallacies about as much as you do.

Honestly I am not surprised at all with this. Christians are quick to insult and belittle when their precious doctrines are refuted.

No, people tend to insult and belittle when they are insulted and belittled themselves. And refuted? You haven't even come close.

Of course Karl was silent on Holding's creationist ways.

How is Holding's views on creation relevant to a discussion on the Virgin Birth? Or are you trying for Circumstantial Ad Hominem (having grown tired of regular Ad Hominem)? Probably throwing in Guilt by Association too?

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/guilt-by-association.html

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/circumstantial-ad-hominem.html

I suspect Karl shares Holding's creation nonsense views. Inerrancy too I suspect.

You say this despite me already saying that I am theistic evolutionist? And nowhere did I say the Bible is free of error, I merely pointed out you are wrong on this particular subject. What's the matter, do you generalize everybody who disagrees with you on Christianity as a fundamentalist YEC?

And even if I did share those views, so what? As the Circumstantial Ad Hominem link I provided earlier said: While a person's interests will provide them with motives to support certain claims, the claims stand or fall on their own. It is also the case that a person's circumstances (religion, political affiliation, etc.) do not affect the truth or falsity of the claim...the mere fact that the person has a motivation to make the claim does not make it false. For example, suppose a parent tells her son that sticking a fork in a light socket would be dangerous. Simply because she has a motivation to say this obviously does not make her claim false.

Heaven forbid you point out the forces that created all other religious nonsense known to man might have produced a Christians precious doctrines and he will flip out.

No, what I got pissed about is your insults and blatant intellectual dishonesty. As to the forces that created all other religious nonsense since when does showing some money in a bank is counterfeit prove all money in the bank is counterfeit?

Kristofer said...

Actually Karl it seems the nastiness started with you.

Now this is getting entertaining.

Now you are creating excuses for your unChristian behavior, that is rich. I love hypocrites.

Of course the fact you look up to JPH a man who is known to insult everyone, including retarded people is not surprising, after all birds of a feather flock together.... I truly see a man transformed by the Holy Ghost folks! Come see Christ living through Karl LOL

Let me translate your statement on Farrell Till. I never heard of him till a few minutes ago, but hey some Christian said he was irrational so he must be. Maybe you should read his debates with Holding. One links to the other guy and one doesn't return the favor. Gee I wonder why?

An errant bible eh. Please identify the parts in both the OT and the NT that you consider to be in error.

If you consider the bible to be in error, why do you object to me considering parts of the bible to be in error. Especially an event such as the virgin birth which is virtually evidence free.

I want you to also tell me all the unique religious claims outside of Christianity that you believe. For example do you believe Joseph Smith and his new and unique doctrine of Jesus visiting North America.

It existed from day one of the Mormon religion

It has no precedent in any Religious or Secular writings of the US up to that point. Clearly then it must be supernatural in origin!!

Getting ready to convert now? Come on Joseph Smith was martyred for this new doctrine, surely it is correct. We have witnesses to the golden tables too. Why would Joseph Smith make this up? How could he make it up anyways, it has no precedent? And what about the witnesses? Are you considering Mormonism now?

Uniqueness, martyrdom and witnesses, what more can you ask for Karl? Mormonism is for you!

Kristofer said...

I cannot believe I just saw something you said earlier. Please tell me about all those Mormons who reject Jesus's visit to North America. LOL

That is like having Christians who believe Jesus never existed LOL

Karl said...

Kristofer,

Actually Karl it seems the nastiness started with you.

You really shouldn't make such claims when people can read mine and your previous comments to see who started the insults. The first ad homenim in this discussion was your comment As for unlikely. It just takes one odd ball to do something well odd.

Now you are creating excuses for your unChristian behavior, that is rich. I love hypocrites.

Then you must really love yourself since in this discussion you gave a blatant display of hypocrisy when you claimed I have not said Jesus's birth was a copy of a pagan myth. Then three paragraphs down do exactly that in addition to having done it at least twice earlier in the discussion. And like I have said, haven spent the last several days arguing that Christian teachings are false you have no right call somebody's behavior. Not to mention that arguing that Christian teachings are false and then trying to hide behind them when cornered in the discussion is a major act of hypocrisy on your part.

Of course the fact you look up to JPH a man who is known to insult everyone, including retarded people is not surprising, after all birds of a feather flock together

Actually, I have noticed that the people Holding debates tend to be very quick to insult him so it kind of evens out.

Let me translate your statement on Farrell Till...One links to the other guy and one doesn't return the favor. Gee I wonder why?

No, I did a Google search and found his arguments to be wanting. Take this piece by him (it was about the third one to pop up when I Googled his name): http://www.skeptictank.org/debate.htm

I see ad hominems in the form of This was the weakest opponent I have had yet. I see the old conspiracy theory of Christianity being a pagan copy-cat (I can see why you like him, after all birds of a feather flock together). I see argument from personal incredulity in the phrase the claim that a dead man was restored to life is an extraordinary claim that required extraordinary proof. I could go on, but you get the idea.

An errant bible eh. Please identify the parts in both the OT and the NT that you consider to be in error.

Why, so we can have another insult fest? I think not.

If you consider the bible to be in error, why do you object to me considering parts of the bible to be in error. Especially an event such as the virgin birth which is virtually evidence free.

Because this isn't a part I believe to be in error, how hard is that for you to understand? And no evidence? I have provided several links to several scholarly essays containing a not so small amount of evidence in favor of the Virgin Birth. I have noticed that you have ignored them, which seems to be par the course for you.

I want you to also tell me all the unique religious claims outside of Christianity that you believe. For example do you believe Joseph Smith and his new and unique doctrine of Jesus visiting North America.

One Moromnism is a Restorationist Christian movement; a quick look at Wikipedia can tell you that much: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latter_Day_Saint_movement

So your claim that it is outside Christianity is wrong. Two, I have never said that a belief being unique meant it was true. I said, and I quote, No, what I am trying to point out to you is that Jesus's birth narrative has several unique features that sets it apart from pagan traditions. You are free to reject the virgin birth and threat it as a myth, that is your prerogative. However, you going around saying the birth story is a copy-cat of pagan myths when the large body of scholarly evidence says no is what I have a problem with. The asinine 'it is unique therefore it must be believed' is your strawman version of that argument.

Kristofer said...

question time, I got a lot of them.

1.) Please explain why being unique is evidence of a doctrines trueness?

2.) Please explain why it is incumbent on a skeptic to have to disprove a doctrine such as the virgin birth? Why is not more rational to expect a believer to provide evidence. Do you take such a stance with other religions? If not why not? Do I have to disprove Xenu now?

3.) Please list the parts of both the old testament and the new testament that you consider to be errant. If you accept parts of the Bible are errant, why can't this part be errant.

4.) please identify Mormons who reject Jesus visiting North America

5.) please explain why events that are seemingly improbable are in fact impossible. For example the odds of a single lottery ticket being a winner is virtually zero but the odds of millions of them are far greater?

6.) You feel I have to disprove the virgin birth because it is a deeply held belief by many Christians. Do you feel the same away about Mohammed's revelation from the Angel Gabriel?

7.) Would you feel if I lived back in say AD 70 I would have to offer less of a refute for the virgin birth, because then Christianity was a small religion?

8.) Please explain why religious creativity is an adequate explanation for other religions, but not Christianity.

9.) Please explain why your arguments on uniqueness and honesty would not vindicate beliefs such as Mormonism?

10.) Please explain to me how Witherington could have remotely created a study that did a realistic analysis of Pagan and Hebrew beliefs in the first century when he in fact possesses only 5 percent of written documents from that time and no oral traditions?

11.) please explain why you think we should find unrecorded electrical knowledge in the missing writings and oral traditions but not possibly new religious ideas.

12.) please provide me with evidence that Luke in fact had a corrected account of the crucifixion of the thieves with Jesus? If he did why didn't Matthew?

13.) Please explain why Luke's Medical training 2000 years ago would prevent him from being uncritical with such a story as the virgin birth. Does medical training guarantee competence in other areas? Especially if one has a worldview that allows such events.

14.) please explain why it is an argument from ignorance for someone to observe that a lot is not known about a period? Please explain why your argument about Luke and the crucifixion account is not a form of special pleading?

15.) please explain why Biblical commands on Ethical Conduct do not apply to you?

Karl said...

I cannot believe I just saw something you said earlier. Please tell me about all those Mormons who reject Jesus's visit to North America. LOL

That is like having Christians who believe Jesus never existed LOL


Let's see; should I go through the trouble of digging up the sources to prove you wrong when odds are good you would just ignore them? And considering you think Mormons are a non-Christian sect doesn't speak well of your knowledge of them now does it?

Now I am going to ask again, do you have anything besides insults to add to this discussion? If not we are done.

Kristofer said...

please do tell me about all those Mormons who deny Jesus visited North America? You said it now give some evidence :)

I am indifferent to the idea of Mormons being Christian or not. Mormons consider themselves to be Christian, many other Christian groups reject the claim.

However I am very curious about the Mormons who reject claims of Jesus visiting North America.

Give you a hint. If they reject that they reject Mormonism. Mormonism just isn't Mormonism without Jesus visiting North America.

Karl said...

Kristofer, I can only say that you really are an idiot.

1.) Please explain why being unique is evidence of a doctrines trueness?

I have already answered this ten times. I am not going to do it for an eleventh.

2.) Please explain why it is incumbent on a skeptic to have to disprove a doctrine such as the virgin birth? Why is not more rational to expect a believer to provide evidence. Do you take such a stance with other religions? If not why not? Do I have to disprove Xenu now?

Because you are the one who advanced the claim that the Virgin Birth was made up. Laws of debate dictate that when you make a claim you are expected to back it up. And the point you fail to grasp is yes if you claimed Xenu doesn't exist in a debate you would be expected to provide arguments and evidence to support said claim. That is how debates work; you can't win by default.

3.) Please list the parts of both the old testament and the new testament that you consider to be errant. If you accept parts of the Bible are errant, why can't this part be errant.

I have spent the last several days providing you with arguments and scholarly evidence that this part is true. And no, this discussion is about the validity of the Virgin Birth; I am not going to let you drag it further off topic by discussing other verses of the Bible.

4.) please identify Mormons who reject Jesus visiting North America

I know at least three, I am tempted to give you their phone numbers but I doubt they would thank me for that.

5.) please explain why events that are seemingly improbable are in fact impossible. For example the odds of a single lottery ticket being a winner is virtually zero but the odds of millions of them are far greater?

Now when in this discussion did I ever claim that? The fact I believe in the Virgin Birth alone shows that I believe improbable events are not impossible. Did you even think before you typed that?

6.) You feel I have to disprove the virgin birth because it is a deeply held belief by many Christians. Do you feel the same away about Mohammed's revelation from the Angel Gabriel?

I don't expect you to disprove the virgin birth because it is a deeply held belief by many Christians. I expect you to at least attempt to back up the claims you made in this discussion.

7.) Would you feel if I lived back in say AD 70 I would have to offer less of a refute for the virgin birth, because then Christianity was a small religion?

Where the hell are you coming up with this crap? The size of the religion has nothing to do with the validity of its doctrines. And if you are referring to the comment I made earlier let me point this out to you; whither the religion is small or large you are still expected to provide your best arguments and evidence to support them. That is the entire point of a debate.

8.) Please explain why religious creativity is an adequate explanation for other religions, but not Christianity.

I didn't say that it was an adequate explanation for other religions; that is you putting words in my mouth. I don't think it is an adequate explanation period. It is like a lawyer accusing a witness of lying at trail and when asked for evidence to prove the witness is lying his response is "people lie and other witnesses have lied at other trails so it is an adequate explanation." What do you think the judge is going to do to him? Give him a thumbs up or throw his ass out of the courtroom?

9.) Please explain why your arguments on uniqueness and honesty would not vindicate beliefs such as Mormonism?

They wouldn't; they would merely show it wasn't copied from another place. Which was the point of those arguments in the first place. Great, I just did it for the eleventh time.

Karl said...

10.) Please explain to me how Witherington could have remotely created a study that did a realistic analysis of Pagan and Hebrew beliefs in the first century when he in fact possesses only 5 percent of written documents from that time and no oral traditions?

Because we have Christian apologetics that have survived from the time period intact. I provided one example, Tertullian Apologeticum (which you ignored the implications of). Or that the central core of the Hebrew faith survived in the form of the Torah?

11.) please explain why you think we should find unrecorded electrical knowledge in the missing writings and oral traditions but not possibly new religious ideas.

Alright, now I know you are stupid. The purpose of that phrase was to show the stupidity inherent in your argument and to show why appeal to ignorance isn't an effective argument. In other words, you can claim anything was lost to history and there is no way to falsify it.

13.) Please explain why Luke's Medical training 2000 years ago would prevent him from being uncritical with such a story as the virgin birth. Does medical training guarantee competence in other areas? Especially if one has a worldview that allows such events.

Because a doctor is going to know more about medical conditions and what is really unusual concerning a pregnancy. And that world view cuts both ways, as you obviously have a world view that disallows such events as evidenced by you ignoring any and all scholarly work on the subject that doesn't match your preconceived beliefs.


14.) please explain why it is an argument from ignorance for someone to observe that a lot is not known about a period? Please explain why your argument about Luke and the crucifixion account is not a form of special pleading?

Observing a lot is not known about a period isn't an argument from ignorance. Claiming that Pagan literature containing certain motifs existed and all examples were lost to history is. Claiming that Christianity copied from these 'lost' Pagan scrolls is. As to special pleading, unlike you I am not trying to cite something as an exemption to generally accepted scholarly and academic standards.

15.) please explain why Biblical commands on Ethical Conduct do not apply to you?

It is true that Jesus said to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:38-42. However, many scholars do not believe pacifism (or nonresistance) is the essential point of His teaching in this passage. These scholars do not believe Jesus was teaching to "turn the other cheek" in virtually all circumstances. Even Christ did not literally turn the other cheek when smitten by a member of the Sanhedrin (see John 18:22-23).

http://www.ronrhodes.org/qselfdefense.html

And while we are at it, maybe you can explain how you can demand someone adhere to Biblical codes of conduct while at the same time argue that the Bible is false? You can't have it both ways Kristofer.

I am indifferent to the idea of Mormons being Christian or not. Mormons consider themselves to be Christian, many other Christian groups reject the claim.

Then why make statements like I want you to also tell me all the unique religious claims outside of Christianity that you believe. For example do you believe Joseph Smith and his new and unique doctrine of Jesus visiting North America? Obviously you are not indifferent to the idea.

Give you a hint. If they reject that they reject Mormonism. Mormonism just isn't Mormonism without Jesus visiting North America.

Given your past record on Biblical and Mormon scholarship what makes you think I am going to take that seriously?

Russell said...

For your information Kristofer, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and while I do believe Jesus visited North America we do have members that disagree with that belief. They are a minority, but they exist. And I find your statement that Mormonism without that belief to not be Mormonism incredibly stupid. Just Looking at Wikipedia can tell you that belief is a small part of the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beliefs_and_practices_of_The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints

But you acted like we weren't a Christian sect for most of your discussion with Karl so I shouldn't be surprised you got that wrong. As to your divine pregnancy comments, a rapist helps a woman get pregnant. So does a fertility clinic doctor. According to your arguments they are one and the same; after all they are "still in the end it is still is along the theme of conception." You overstate the general similarities and ignoring the very damning differences.

And as far as I can see Karl never said uniqueness proves something is true. He said it proves something was original and not copied from somewhere else. You twisted that into a caricature 'unique means true' in an attempt to distract anybody reading this from the fact that puts a big hole in your pagan copy-cat theory. Which is a very dishonest and underhanded tactic coming from a guy accuses other people of dishonesty left and right (Biblical authors on the Virgin Birth, Karl on his views on creation/evolution and Biblical inerrancy) without a shred of proof. I don't know what you were taught growing up, but I was taught if you accuse somebody of dishonesty you better be able to provide some proof otherwise keep your mouth shut. I am wondering if you are going to accuse me of dishonesty concerning the Indian belief among Mormons? It seems to be your modus operandi.

Also JPH's and Karl's beliefs on evolution and Biblical inerrancy have no impact at all concerning concerning the validity and soundness of their arguments on the Virgin Birth. The fact that you and people like Till think otherwise shows me you guys never took a course in logic or if you did you flunked it. Because to do so is to commit a very basic logical fallacy; a person's beliefs may be their motivation for advancing an argument but it is never, NEVER evidence against said arguments.

And links are not as important as the quality of the individual arguments. But speaking of links, you have not provided links to ANY scholarly articles (and SAB is not a scholarly article) to back up your claims. Your opponents have. To throw your own question back at you, what do you think that means?

Jim S. said...

This has devolved into a virtual shouting match. May I suggest that Karl and Kristofer make closing arguments? Explain a) your points; and b) your criticisms of the other's points.

Karl said...

This has devolved into a virtual shouting match. May I suggest that Karl and Kristofer make closing arguments? Explain a) your points; and b) your criticisms of the other's points.

Agreed. My closing points are this:

1. The Virgin Birth story of Jesus contains several motifs and concepts not found in surviving Pagan Literature from around the first century A.D. This makes it unlikely to be a copy-cat of Pagan Religions in the same time period.

2. Surviving early Christian apologetics, such as the Tertullian Apologeticum from the Second Century AD, clearly mention a sharp contrast between the Christian Virgin Birth Narrative and Pagan Divine/Human Pregnancies.

3. Some Pagan literature and oral traditions has been lost, yes. But to claim that these lost pieces of Pagan Literature contained similar details and themes so far unique to the Virgin Birth Narrative is unwarranted speculation and quickly falls prey to the appeal to ignorance logical fallacy. None of the surviving Pagan literature and oral traditions from the time period contain details and themes unique to the Virgin Birth and Christian apologetics written in that time period mention sharp contrast between the two types of narrative. So it logical assume that Pagan literature and oral traditions at the time did not contain motifs unique to the Biblical virgin birth narrative.

4. We have two different accounts of the Virgin Birth in the Bible; Luke and Matthew. Both were researched and written independently of each other. Both contain the same central core doctrines; the differences between the two consist of minor details. This is typically what happens when two historians researching the same historical event separately and have access to different eye witness accounts and resources. You will find differing minor details in different biographies of Einstein, Hitler, Napoleon and any other historical figure but the things of critical importance tend to remain the same.

Kristofer said...

For all of this Karl still has not understood my first key point.

I DO NOT THINK THE VIRGIN BIRTH WAS A DIRECT COPY OF A PAGAN MYTH!!

THE VIRGIN BIRTH IS AN STORY THAT CAME OUT OF CULTURES THAT ACCEPTED THE NOTION OF A DEITY IMPREGNATING WOMEN AND DEITIES AIDING WITH WOMEN BEING IMPREGNATED.

Now this next point is subtle so I realize Karl will simply will not comprehend it. Socities that accept such things can often through creativity come up with new and very unique varations on the theme. For example Mormonism.

American society accepted divine revelation and angel encounters. Joseph Smith followed in that pattern by creating the book of Mormon. Is this unique, yes, completely. Did it explode on the theological scene? Yes. Is it therefore factually true? Probably not

Why did it get a following? Because though unique in many ways it did stay within the bounds of accepted American belief. It stayed with the bounds of the divinity of Christ and revelation.

The virgin birth while having unique features still falls in the basic bounds of accepted norms of the 1st century Roman Empire.

What Karl fails to understand is that I am under no great obligation to disprove the virgin birth. How many women do we know that are knocked up by a deity? The total amount known is zero.

How many unique religious stories do we know of that have no foundation in reality? Countless

If Karl has evidence beyond the fact it is unique then he needs to show. His first step would in fact be proving the existence of Yahweh. His 2nd step would be to prove Yahweh engaged in these activities with Mary. Good luck.

Now I cannot go back in time and find a specific person who created this story, but that is hardly surprising. We have a 2000K gap of knowledge.

However I can show that religious fraud and deceit are common throughout history. Truth be told religious people accept this principle for all other religions except theirs.

Karl thinks it is impressive that both Matthew and Luke contain virgin birth scenes but so what. Why are two claims of events without evidence impressive.

Lets consider the following that do not mention the Virgin Birth

a.) The writings of Paul does not contain any hints of it

b.) The Gospel of Mark does not contain it.

The best explanation for why they do not contain the virgin birth is simple, they were not aware of it. That would seem to indicate the Virgin Birth story was a later addition to Christian theology. If you accept the mainstream view that Luke and Matthew were composed around 85 AD the Apostles were dead and so were the many of the first generation Christians.

And yes we should be suspicious that we find no evidence of the virgin birth in Mark or the writings of Paul, but especially Mark. The idea of Mark knowing this and not recording this in a biography of Jesus ( especially the first biography of Jesus) is absurd. It is far more probable that he did not record cause he was not aware of it.

This again is about probability. Which is more probable an unknown deity doing a singularly unique thing in history or this was simple a another instance of religious creativity.

That was my 1st point. I will cover my other ones below

Kristofer said...

My 2nd point is this

Witherington has not established that the concept of a virgin birth was a unique feature to Christianity.

Once again I will explain why. Unfortunately due to the lose of almost 97% of all stories from this civilization both written and oral Witherington cannot have analyzed nearly enough material to make it completely a unreasonable doubt that such a story might have been in that missing 97%. I am not saying it is in that, but the sheer gap in our knowledge of this era is going to make reasonable men agnostic on this subject. At most it shows that it is unique compared to the remaining three percent


You cannot expect someone to accept absolute claims of uniqueness on such a small data sample.

Now if a far greater amount of stories from this time had survived then Witherington's argument would be valid.

I do not have to disprove the virgin birth anymore then I have to disprove the idea that the Haley Boop comet was a UFO coming to take people to paradise. It is incumbetant on people making extraordinary claims to provide extraordinary evidence. Karl has failed in this miserably.

He has also failed to realize my argument does not require such a tremendous burden of evidence as his cause I am not postulating something unique and unknown. I am postulating religious fraud. Fairly common, happens all the time.

I pointed out instances in the Synoptics where Luke and Matthew amended stories told by Mark. The fact they would amend and modify here shows that they would engage in such behavior at the very least.

Luke amended the story of the crucified thieves to give it a more pleasent ending. Matthew modified the reason why Jesus wouldn't do miracles in Nazareth. If someone lies to you in one thing, it is justification for suspecting they lied in other things.

The fact that Mark does not contain a virgin birth story is very problematic.

For Karl explanation to work you have to accept the following. Mark composing what was to be the 1st biography of Jesus for future generations knowingly choose not to include it. So Mark was concerned enough to write a biography detailing other events in the life of Jesus but choose not to write this down. I ask which is more probable Mark didn't write it down by choice of cause he didn't know about it. If he didn't know about it and no evidence can be found of it in Paul's writings then the simplest explanation is that it wasn't known.

If the virgin birth had been known from the beginning it is very hard to believe Paul would never mention it but it stretches credulism to believe Mark would never once mention it.

You have to believe that in order to accept Karl's explanation.

My explanation is far simpler because it does not postulate unproven miracles, unproven divine interventions but well known religious creativity. It offers a far superior explanation to the lack of evidence for this doctrine in Mark and Paul. They did not write about it because it was not then a belief. It also offers a superior explanation to such groups as the ebionites. They reject the story of the virgin birth for the simple reason it was that, just a story.

I will make my third point next

Kristofer said...

My last point is about Karl's over all conduct in this discussion. He likes to scream logical fallacies but does not seem to understand them well himself.

He failed to realize that a caution over hasty generalization ( which Witherington commits) is not the same thing as an argument from ignorance. Then he makes absurd comments about trying to find electrity in ancient writings, not realizing this is in fact a false analogy . It is a false analogy cause electricity was virtually unknown during this time period while religious discussion and creativity was a very common feature of this civilization.

He accuses me of special pleading but he refuses to understand I have not engaged in special pleading. The idea of religious creativity has not been disproven and if anything it better explains the data for reasons I mentioned earlier.

If anything Karl has engaged in special pleading, he is pleading a miraculous divine event without any evidence.

There are more fallacies then this is enough to make my point.

Lastly I want to discuss Karl's ethical conduct. Karl resulted to insulting me and broad generalizations for no reason. Why did he do this??

Cause I mentioned it was odd for a person to convert to Christianity in 70 AD.

For that he engaged in personal attacks on me, before that I had tried to kept this a friendly dialog.

I explained what I meant by the odd conversion and I even asked Karl to calm down.

Finally I got sick of it and returned his conduct but I certainly did not cause this mess.

Lastly I think all Christian readers of this blog should be concerned about Karl's arguments for why NT injunctions to kindness and respect do not apply to his moral conduct.

Russell said...

Kristofer, I think the reason Karl got mad at you and started insulting you was because you made comments like "By God if the Bible said Jesus teleported to Jupiter to preach to aliens he would believe it," "Jesus was a space alien. Unique so it most be true!! My personal favorite is the Xeno one myself," "I suspect Karl shares Holding's creation nonsense views. Inerrancy too I suspect" (effectively accusing him of lying), twisting his arguments into strawman versions of themselves (like how the uniqueness argument was intended to prove the Virgin Birth narrative was not influenced by Pagan traditions at the time and not to prove the Virgin Birth narrative was true, something he told you a dozen times, but you kept ignoring him), putting words in his mouth and using offensive language, and generally acting with condescending and arrogant tone from almost your first post; not because you questioned truth of Christian teachings.

Speaking of which I noticed that you like to say things like "However I can show that religious fraud and deceit are common throughout history. Truth be told religious people accept this principle for all other religions except theirs;" effectively saying that Christian teachings are nothing but fraud and deceit. Yet, when a Christian, Karl in this case, hurts your feelings in a debate you say things like "Lastly I think all Christian readers of this blog should be concerned about Karl's arguments for why NT injunctions to kindness and respect do not apply to his moral conduct."

No, no, no, no. Kristofer, you can't argue Christianity's teachings are based on fraud and deceit and then turn around and try to hide behind them whenever it suits you. As Karl said earlier, having burned that bridge you are not allowed to cross it later. In other words, you can't have both ways; you can argue Christianity's teachings are false, but if they are false why should anybody be beholden to Christian values concerning their conduct with you? And most Christians are going to have the same knee jerk reaction Karl did when they see you accusing the core beliefs of their life, the foundations of their world view, of being nothing but a case of fraud.

And quit with the comments like "Finally I got sick of it and returned his conduct but I certainly did not cause this mess" Kristofer. We can see your posts just as easily as we can see Karl's posts. And no, Karl was not the one who started using the provocative language, that was you in your "it just takes one Oddball post."

As for your statement, "He has also failed to realize my argument does not require such a tremendous burden of evidence as his cause I am not postulating something unique and unknown. I am postulating religious fraud;" actually you do have a tremendous burden of proof. You are telling Karl and people like me that their most precious beliefs are based on fraud, that three billion people (close to half the world's population) are living a lie, that a belief system that has endured countless trials and tests over two thousand years, a belief system that is woven into the very fabric of our civilization is based on fraud. That is a very strong and unique claim, for if Christianity is proven wrong it would shake this world to its core.

So yes, I think you have a burden of proof there and simply throwing the name of a conman like L Ron Hubbard around will not cut it. You say cases of religious fraud are common place; but cases of scientific fraud are also common place. Yet that does not mean all scientific experiments are fraudulent or all scientists are actively committing fraud. Just because Hwang Woo-suk was convicted of fraud does not prove all stem cell research is a con job. The same principle applies to religion; just because L Ron Hubbard was a con artist does not mean Luke or Matthew were too.

Kristofer said...

Russell

I am beginning to suspect you and Karl are the same person or at least friends. People can sit down and read this blog and they will notice it was Karl who started this nastiness and my nastiness was in response to his.

I am highly amused that we have two " Christians" in here who think NT teachings on Ethics do not apply to them. LOL

I am not going to say too much about your comments, but I am going to ask you a question.

Tell me one religious doctrine that everyone, except skeptics, atheist and agnostics, universally agrees on? Just one?

For example here is a scientific fact everyone agrees on, the sky is blue.

Do you have such an equivalent idea in religion?

I know there is scientific fraud but I know their is scientific fact.

I know countless instances of religious fraud, do you have one instance where a religious belief clearly is a demonstrable fact ?

Maybe that will help you see why you are comparing apples to oranges.

Oh the total population of Christians is about 1.6 Billion people.

Karl said...

Russell,

Kristofer being the one to start the insults, condescending remarks and belittling tactics; then claiming he is the victim when his opponent starts to reply in kind and that the other person started it is nothing new. He pulled the exact same stunt on another regular commenter on this site, Matko, a few months back.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5074683&postID=7504242297220833952

Kristofer,

Russell and I are not the same person. If you don't believe me why not ask Jim if Russell's and my IP addresses are exactly the same? Of course when Jim does tell you they're different, knowing you, you're probably going to say I am using two different computers or some crap like that to masquerade as Russell.

Kristofer said...

Okay and like I said maybe you two are friends.

However a remotely fair reading will show that Karl caused this mess.

This is a perfect example why a thinking man should not consider Christianity.

You get absurdities such as you have to DISPROVE the idea that the all mighty creator of the universe came down to Israel and sired a bastard with Mary.

It doesn't even strike Karl as odd that that hey why didn't Mark know about the virgin birth why did Jesus's family think think he was insane did they forgot? So his mom forgot now and Mark knew the story but choose not to write it down? All of that above will not bother Karl in the least but anyone not blinkered will see that is a tremendous difficulty.

Karl honestly believes the all mighty creator of universe, the same God who created all life rose Jesus from the dead etc could not inspire some ancients to get his story straight!

Karl cannot even read straight. He took a comment about Luke and decided somehow I was talking about him. He uses this as an excuse to act in ways various NT authors would condemn. So Karl is a good Christian till someone somewhere disagrees with him. Your Christian convictions has as much depth as a side walk puddle.

Lastly he thinks I should be awed when he drags out some religious scholars quote. I could quote him Muslims scholars all day who think Jesus didn't die or Jewish scholars who will say all day Jesus was not the Messiah. Will he be convinced, doubt it. Is this sinking in Karl?

Facts decide debates.

Karl has yet to offer a shred of evidence for the virgin birth.

Lets consider the situation one more time.

Paul has no knowledge of the virgin birth

Mark has no knowledge of the virgin birth

These writings were written 40-55 AD and 70ish AD.

Luke and Matthew came to exist around 85 AD. They contain the virgin birth accounts.

So maybe just maybe after the apostles and 1st generation Christians died the story expanded. How shocking! How much of a better explanation then Karl's absurd view that Mark and Paul knew about it but said nothing. How remarkably similar to how other religions developed. Oh while I am at it, let me observe there where other groups of Christians such as the Ebonities that denied the virgin birth too. Not user friendly for the position that the virgin birth was a story that existed from day one in Christianity. Very user friendly toward the view the virgin birth evolved later.

Is this sinking in Karl. Rational people are not going to accept absurd supernatural claims when natural explanations explain the data far better.

Russell said...

Alright, I am really starting to wonder about your mental competence Kristofer. Accusing me of being Karl in disguise merely because I took his side in the debate? How stupid can you get? Well, I predicted you would accuse me of dishonesty in an earlier post and I was not disappointed.

And I can think of three Karls off the top of my head: my college history professor, the cashier in the college bookstore, and a cop in my hometown. I am not exactly friends with either of them though I doubt you going to believe me and still accuse me of lying about being his friend. After all, the fact I took his side over the golorious Kristofer who is never wrong and always wins his debate proves I am somehow connected to him; not that I simply found your arguments to be an ad hoc mix of evasions, rationalizations and logical fallacies.

And I followed Karl's link, which proved this is how you conduct yourself normally in a debate. I think it was convient how you had to go on a trip the minute Unkle E and Karl blew your main arguments to shreds in that debate. And giving how Karl's and Unkle E's last posts pretty much said the same thing about those Bible passages I am surprised you didn't accuse them of being the same person or best friends or clones or something. In fact I am wondering why people contiune to debate you when your debates consist of you insulting your opponent and then trying to pretend to be the victim when they get pissed and hide behind New Testament teachings to generate pity despite having spent the last couple of days in both debates arguing that the New Testament and Christianity was a load of crap.

And you saying 'Facts decide debates' when your central arguments are appeals to ignorance like MAYBE lost Pagan literature contained elements unique to Christian literature at the time or are arguments from silence, one of the weakest arguments there is, concerning Biblical books like Mark has got to be one of the most blatant displays of hypocrisy I have ever seen!

But I am done arguing with you; my mother always said you can never win a debate with the village idiot and she apparently knew what she was talking about.

James said...

All right gentlemen. Let's wrap this up now and move on to something else. This thread ceased to be productive some time ago.

Kristofer said...

So the man who believes Jesus traveled to North America, a man who believes God ordered Joseph Smith to have numerous wives a man who believes a book that originally said authored by Joseph Smith and has no historical evidence for it whatsoever is in fact divine revelation thinks I am irrational.

The man who believes that when he gets married in temple he will have a celestial wife and create planets after he is dead says I am irrational.

Like I say this is an odd world.

Between your beliefs and Karl's that a deity can create the universe, do miracles etc but cannot write an inerrant Bible I have found endless amusement. I also enjoyed Karl's belief that we should be gullible and believe religious claims cause they are unique!

I am glad you two consider me irrational. Cause if being rational is anything like you two are I want nothing to do with.

Keep preaching you two. See how many nonbelievers you convince. Newsflash you two. Christianity isn't popular and people like you two are part of the reason why. More and more people are rejecting it for the absurdity that it is and I want you two to keep on talking. Let the fence sitters see you two in action.

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