Did christ really exist?, pt 9
Thanks for your further contributions. Whatever criticisms I may have about your methods and conclusions, I certainly cannot fault your commitment and effort. (Someone back there accsued me of being patronising, although I note you made no such objection, so I had better add that this is not a patronising comment [nor was the previous one!], but a genuine appreciation.)
To tell you the truth, your previous post did sound patronizing to me, I just didn't want to bother arguing over that.
You keep chanting about the "experts in history." So far, despite pages and pages of your posts, you have yet to provide even a single datum of evidence these experts are using to back up their opinions, besides the Gospels and those two dodgy Josephus passages. Apparently you believe that reputable modern English translations of the Gospels are insufficient when it comes to analyzing them for historical validity. Perhaps reading about the "great earthquake" (which apparently caused no physical damage), the earth-covering darkness, and the crowd of people crawling out of their graves at the time of Jesus' resurrection in the original Greek will make the stories sound more credible somehow.
Apparently, the Gospel manuscripts that only scholars can read contain crucial data regarding their historical validity that cannot be found by reading modern English translations by reputable translators. What else are all those non-scholar Christians missing? Given that the ironclad proof of the Gospels' historicity lies within those manuscripts only scholars can read, for all us non-experts know, there could be entire doctrines that are discussed only in the pages of technical journals. Yet another good reason for Christians to trust their Bibles, I suppose.
Regarding your analogy to evolution, it is self-refuting. You are able to describe areas of knowledge that scientific experts have that you do not, which can provide evidence for evolution. You have not yet cited any form of evidence that NT scholars have that we do not, that would provide further validation of the Gospel stories, beyond the Gospel stories themselves. To return to your analogy to evolution, it would be like me claiming that evolution is true because a renowned scientist, Charles Darwin, wrote a book that said so, and he must be right, while providing no evidence whatsoever beyond Darwin's say-so. Even that is more than you've got for the Gospels, because Darwin described a great deal of evidence in his book (e.g. the Galapagos finches, etc.).
So far, all you've presented is the Gospels themselves, and a bunch of quotes from scholars claiming they're historically valid without providing any evidence, except for--the Gospels. Apply the same standard to the Illiad, and we have to consider it historically credible that Achilles was magically invulnerable except for his heel. We have the excavations of Troy, Mycenae, Agammemnon's tomb, etc., and to my knowledge there's solid scholarly consensus that the Trojan War happened. Therefore, by quoting the Illiad to validate the Illiad, we can establish that the existence of the Greek gods, an invulnerable Achilles, an accurate-though-ignored prophetess Cassandra, etc. are historically credible positions.
Now, unless you're a scholar and can read the original manuscripts of the Illiad, you are therefore in no position to reject the historicity of Achilles as a supernaturally invulnerable (except for his heel) warrior. Likewise, by quoting the Odyssey to validate the Odyssey, we can establish the historical credibility of Cyclopses, witches who can turn men into pigs, Sirens, and the rest.
Pharaoh Ramesses II inscribed a mural in stone on the walls of the Temple of Karnak describing the Battle of Kadesh, in which he was isolated from his army, but managed to beat the enemy army by himself from his chariot, because "Amun strengthened his arm." Now, Egyptologists agree that this inscription was carved at his order, during his lifetime, after the battle. That makes this, for all practical intents and purposes, an "original autograph" (i.e. an equivalent to a Pauline epistle written by Paul's own hand), the absolute gold-standard for ancient historical texts. The mummy of Ramesses II can be seen today in the Cairo Museum.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Ramesses II is a real historical figure. Therefore, by the standards you're applying to the Gospels, we have even more compelling reason to believe that Ramesses II bested an entire army single-handed because of the supernatural aid of the great God Amun.
Skeptical? Unless you can read Egyptian heiroglyphics, you're in no position to question the historical validity of Ramesses' astounding battle prowess.
So I have to ask you as I asked Star Stuff - if you are willing to accept the findings of experts on evolution and many other matters, are you also willing to accept the findings of experts on history as it relates to Jesus?
I can think of all kinds of things that people like Richard Dawkins know about biological evolution that I don't. Supporting evolution is a vast store of data from virtually every one of the "hard" sciences--geology, physics, biology, anatomy, genetics, paleontology, cosmology, and so on. Not being an expert in all these fields, but noticing the consensus of experts in these fields, which amounts to the entire scientific community
in favor of evolution, I can accept and trust this consensus because all of the evidence I do
understand for myself supports
it, and I am well aware that they possess far more knowledge than I do.
Regarding the historicity of the Gospels, the only real evidence is the Gospels themselves. That's it. NT scholars do know lots about them that I don't, such as which passages were added later, what differentiates different "families" of manuscripts, how to tell a 5th Century NT manuscript from a 4th Century NT manuscript, and so on. But when it comes to the basic story of Jesus as a superhuman being violating the known generalized principles of physics on a grand scale in front of large crowds, I can read that story as well as any NT scholar can
While we're talking about experts and scholars, I challenge you to provide one expert hydrologist who will agree that the surface tension of water is sufficient to support the weight of a human being walking on it without any sort of floatation device. Find me one reputable physicist who will agree that it is possible to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy and Matter by pulling several thousand pounds of fish and bread out of a basket holding a quantity sufficient for one person. Or how about a consensus of reputable meteorologists who accept that it is possible for someone to calm a storm with a word? An astronomer or astrophysicist who agrees that the Sun can turn off for awhile and then come back on again.
I doubt you will have an easy time of it.
The overwhelming consensus of the entire rest of the scientific community
is that things like this don't happen. On a number of occasions, Jesus cited the Genesis creation account as authoritative and a basis for doctrines (such as his blanket prohibition of divorce). The overwhelming consensus of the entire global scientific community holds that the Genesis account is wildly inaccurate
. Now, I can decide to trust your NT scholars that the Gospels are ironclad Real History describing someone named Jesus having super powers and unlimited knowledge, or I can trust the entire rest of the scientific community
1. Can you please give me your historical criteria for determining how you would know what events people would record for posterity and what they wouldn't? I think the answer isn't all plain sailing, as my following comments show, but I think the onus is on you to justify the statement. Of course just saying that people would have noticed is not enough.
How about...BECAUSE MIRACLES ARE MORE NOTEWORTHY THAN EVERYDAY POLITICS?!
I mean, seriously! Miracles, by definition
stand out over ordinary events! You're like someone who visits Tokyo and writes a letter home describing the food and the stores on the Ginza district, while leaving out the fact that Godzilla showed up and stomped the city into the ground while you were there. "Why would anybody write about Godzilla if he showed up and attacked Tokyo? Maybe they'd find the legislative debate about appropriations for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces more interesting." Come on.