Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Have I Ever Heard an Atheist Compare the Gospels to Spiderman?

Perhaps I have.

This series:
Misunderstanding Matt Slick on Purpose? · Another Video with Scarlett (excursus: Continuing with Bill Garthright) · And YET Another Video with Scarlett
One or two on this series:
HomeSchooling, Germany and US · Other Thread Under Same Video (excursus : Continuing first separate Thread) · When bullies and bullied are both stuck in the same school ... · There are Other Debates Too
This series:
Stories are evidence of the past, and "mythological" is a label with very little precise meaning. · Continuing with Ernest Crunkleton · It's Not Over Yet (But wasn't there some on this series too? Here: Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Bart answered ... · Continuing with Leo Yohansen · With Leo Yohensen, Snappy Version · Leo Yohansen is Back · somewhere else : Apostles and St. Irenaeus · Where is the First Person if Moses and some Disciples wrote Torah and Gospels? · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Also under the video with GMS and Leo Yohansen)
This post:
Gutsick Gibbon on Overturning Paradigms and Castile Formation
This post:
Babel or Exodus Myths?
I bring a distinction up myself* in this post:
Paulogia took on the Tower

What about LotR or Lord of the Rings?

This post:
Gutsick on Radiometric and Heat - My Initial Comments with Answers
I bring a distinction up myself in this post:
subductionzone to the rescue of Forrest Valkai? Or Keith Levkoff? Deus-Stein?
This post:
AronRa and "Wil" Answered
Where I refer to this post:
Bible and Fantasy (quora)
I bring it up in this post:
Debate with Paul Myers
And in this post:
... on Identity of Hagiographers, Debate under my Answer
And in this post:
... to Bart D. Ehrman
This post:
...on Knowledge
I bring it up here:
Evidence for Jesus : NT Biblical and Other

Now, so has Testify, and no lesser Atheist than Paulogia.

No, Christian Apologists Aren't Proving Spider-Man
Testify, 30 Jan. 2023

Here's** how I think Testify might have handled it better, or own replies to Paulogia:

1:53 It can be added, the "real locations accurately" is more of a proof of "first hand" - the historicity as general in opposition to fiction is about the Gospels being accepted by the Church as the history She could remember.

The "real locations" and "first hand knowledge" are obviously important enough when it comes to countering people who say it was written 100 years later in another part of the Roman Empire.

But they are an argument against an argument against historicity, not a direct argument for it.

4:53 You are glossing over the most basic claim for a text to be historic - that the tradition surrounding it says so.

The tradition around the Gospels in Papias and Irenaeus and in Church councils like mid late fourth C Rome and Carthage as well as Church Fathers say they are history.

The tradition around either Spiderman or Lord of the Rings say they are fiction.

Now, if the tradition around LotR said Tolkien had stumbled across a book in Westron, written in tengwar, and laboriously deciphered it, that would be a pretty fair parallel to Book of Mormon - the claim to historicity would be uncheckable, due to the long delay between supposed facts and supposed rediscovery in a very different society.

But that Spiderman were suddenly to get a following claiming it was historic is totally impossible, or at least highly improbable. Suppose a Robbie Robertson were to say "look, here is the building of Daily Bugle" and he started to issue papers tomorrow, people would clearly be sceptical of articles signed Peter Parker, and ask "where was Daily Bugle on January 31 2023?"

Similarily, if someone in AD 100 had said "Jesus founded a Church" - people would have asked reasonably "so, that's where you go once every seven days now - where was that Church five years ago?"

5:33 The actual process of tradition is very different from the telephone game, anyway, besides you tell me last time you had children playing it come up with a false allegation of a miracle healing or a resurrection from the dead!

7:00 Apart from fiction, there is also lying because of what one wants to be true ... like a suspect lying about an alibi with plausible detail.

Yes, some accepted history is false history, either due to misunderstanding or, as this is what is brought up, fraud.

However, fraud is a special case, a very minority case of everyone mentioning a park is making up a false alibi, so, this alternative should be directly argued, not assumed as a possibility on a priori equal footing until it's disproven.

I can see why a criminal would lie saying "no, I wasn't in that dorm when the three students were killed, I was in my own bed" or "I was walking in the park" (fairly impossible alibi in Paris at night, except a few parks in summer - they are closed off - unless you and others good at climbing are drinking in a park after climbing the fence). But it's a bit hard to imagine why someone would invent "I saw Jesus making a miracle at Cana" as an alibi.

It's very hard to imagine why some people who for instance had seen Jesus fail as a Messiah would prefer inventing miracles like the Resurrection over simply saying "the Messiah wasn't for right now" or "we'll see if the next guy is the real Messiah" ... and if it were a case of a few cooks, how did they convince a lot of other people?

7:55 I would highly disagree with classifying Homer as fiction.

Docufiction is closer to it ... like The Assisi Underground by Alexander Ramati, or Lanzmann's Shoah or Wajda's Katyn ...

Apuleius and Petronius are definitely writing fiction, and so are comedians, like Plautus and Terence.

For neither of them do I concede "crudely written" ... except insofar as Petronius' satire is crude as satire.

9:19 While the genres were not the genres we are used to, they are known.

Comedy and novels are fiction.

The gospels fall fairly neatly into biographical history.

we have categories of fiction and non-fiction

These not being genres, but very large categories of genres.

For Chesterton, non-fiction covers:
  • autobiography
  • biography (Sts Francis and Thomas Aquinas, often reprinted together)
  • travel journalism with political analysis (Ireland and US to the West, Rome and Mandate Palestine to the East)
  • history (Outline of the History of England)
  • meta-history (Altamira to Rome, Christ to Present)
  • essays and diversified essay collections
  • structured analyses
  • essay collections on similar topics

And equally in his case, fiction covers:
  • novels (basically Uchronias or Alternative History genre, except Manalive)
  • short stories (usually detective fiction, mostly involving Father Brown)
  • epic poems (The Ballad of the White Horse, Lepanto)

By the way, the epic poems here mentioned are not strictly fiction, they are docu-fiction, like I claim for Homer.

The point being, we know very well for the 1st C AD what the Roman world had as fiction genres and as non-fiction genres.

9:39 What legends tend to do over time is not grow, but concentrate by reduction.

The legendary "Rabenschlacht" where "Dietrich of Bern" or "Tjodrekr" beats "Jormunrekr" or "Ermanerich" reflects two battles of Ravenna, Theoderic conquering Ravenna from Odoacer in the 490's and Ermanaricus losing against the Huns in 375. Possibly also some battle Ermanaricus won before that which right now I cannot locate.

The important thing here is, duels are not exaggerated to battles in armies. Neither is exaggerated to miracles.

Paulogia has no clue how the forming of legends works.

9:44 Legends usually are anchored in actual events - of the same type.

9:49 If Paul Bunyan exaggerates the strength of Fabian "Joe" Fournier - that's not because of how legends grow by exaggeration, it's because lumberjacks (those primarily telling the legend) exaggerate. When they tell. Even if it's yesterday's firsthand news.

I don't see anything in how Johnny Appleseed is represented that totally marks the legend as exaggerated. Planting appleseeds is a quick way to get apples to harvest. The apples won't be sweet, since sweet apples are genetically a rarer mutation, meaning lack of certain acids. The apples from such trees are great for making cider or applejock, at least tolerable for hot apples if you add molasses before baking, but not what you would want to bite in raw for a modern healthy snack without added sugars or fermentation.

Ever wondered why "apple-pie" is more common than "apples" in American tradition?

Perhaps because the legends of Johnny Appleseed aren't exaggerated.

Credits to Michael Pollan for drawing my attention to Johnny Appleseed in The Botany of Desire!

10:11 If you want a theological treatise rather than a biography, take a look at Romans!

Or Hebrews.

Or, for pastoral theology, Titus and the two to Timothy.

I recall getting an NT, as a child or eight going on nine, and I was so excited reading the Gospels and Acts and what a bummer when I came to real theological treatises.

When Paulogia claims Gospels are "theological treatises" he's basically saying his alibi was drinking in a park with pals - in Paris, in winter (when parks have closed fences) and with his leg in plaster so he couldn't have climbed the fence!

10:14 The Qoran is a very different genre from historical books in the Bible.

It's a collection of sermons verging on poetry. Try mixing Psalms with Hebrews, and you get a very rough approximation of the genre of the 114 Surahs.

If you want a biography of Mohammed, that's outside the Qoran, and as a Christian, I believe the historic details, where the only supernatural thing is the revelations. The one thing I disbelieve is them being from God.

Just because I don't think John Knox was a man of God, doesn't mean I deny he inspired Covenanter violence or held inflammatory sermons. Nor do I deny he had another religion before converting to his well known one (Catholic for Knox prior to Calvinism, Arabic Gentile Pagan for Mohammed prior to Islam, with some years as seeker inbetween). Nor do I deny both claimed to and probably believed they were closer to Jesus' Gospel than the actual Christians (i e Catholics). In other words, I have no reason not to believe a Calvinist history about Knox or a Muslim one on Muhammed - except on things that are theological claims, rather than historic claims such and such an event occurred.

11:10 You are leaving out that satire actually does mime history.

Lucian whom you mentioned was in fact a satirist.

When it comes to Josephus, his being a historian for Antiquities is because he reformulates with explanations to a Roman audience the Biblical history, and with his Jewish war, he tells a history which Jews up to this day commemorate by a glass being shattered at weddings, to mourn for the shattered temple.

If Lucian's biography of Demonax is a biography or a satire is difficult to know. For Walden being bona fide autobiographic, we have the testimony of the Transcendentals. Thoreau knew Emerson.

We probably to this day have people intellectually in a straight lineage of discipleship from Thoreau and Emerson. We certainly have a tradition by editors.

11:46 Here is the exact point. For Justin martyr's testimony to be valid argument, we need to rely on tradition since he was born around when the last apostle died. And not in the same place.

12:11 I think apocryphal writings are not the closest comparison.

Plato's dialogues did have a religious significance in the Academy, so, take Plato's dialogues. Apologia, Symposion, a few more.

* The fact is, sometimes I am more of dealing with authorship and genre assignment staying with the traditional one, which is also my reply to the argument.
** Time signatures refer to time stamps in the video, usually where I halted it after hearing the argument.

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