Thursday, February 9, 2023

Is "ben green" a Shrink or Just a Jerk? Anyway, the Consensus of Catholic Bishops is More Impressive than Pseudo-Consensus (actually bare majority) of Scholars

Yes, St. Paul Wrote Pastorals, Yes, Apostolic Succession Holds True · Is "ben green" a Shrink or Just a Jerk? Anyway, the Consensus of Catholic Bishops is More Impressive than Pseudo-Consensus (actually bare majority) of Scholars

One more thing that I should have included in the video: Be wary when someone says the "vast majority of scholars believe X". When Dan McClellan says "an overwhelming majority of scholars" believe that the pastoral letters aren't really written by Paul, this strikes me as a big overstatement. In a relatively recent survey, The British New Testament Conference (made up of biblical scholars across the ideological spectrum) held a vote on which epistles they think are Pauline and which are not. While more than half think Paul didn't write the pastorals, the votes were nearly evenly split between "yes" and "unsure". This is not a vast scholarly consensus. Not even close. Why does a large minority either support Pauline authorship or are "unsure" if the arguments are so overwhelmingly against my position? Would Dan say that the BNTS not be reflective of scholarship as a whole?

Integrational Polytheism
Well said. The argument from majority, or the similar argument from authority, often used by the likes of William Lane Craig or Kent Hovind (or Bart Ehrman, I'm not picking sides, he does it as bad as anyone) doesn't mean a thing. As many have said (Dr Robert M Price comes to mind) it's the strength of the evidence that should be considered.

I suspect his answer would be to argue that those who accept or are uncertain about Pauline authorship of the epistles are not "real scholars", in short the "no true Scotsman" fallacy

Hans-Georg Lundahl
So, there is a small quarter of the scholars who would probably convert to Catholicism after a few more considerations, another small quarter who very probably would do so on getting certainty about Pauline authorship, but skirting away from that certainty, and a big half who are decided to not convert and also not let Pastorals change their minds.

Thank you for the stats.

ben green
ah yes - the appeal to authority fallacy fallacy.

Firstly - The 'unsure's cannot be lumped in with the 'yes's. Unsure can mean, 'uncertain but probably not'. Even saying 'unsure' implies that there is some doubt to their authenticity. Let's look at religious commitments of some of these scholars. There is a very real chance that a religious scholar might be unwilling to be more positive in their suspicions that the letters are not by Paul. That is undeniable.

So we are left with a very significant proportion of scholars who say Paul is not the author, and that might well be a big understatement.

And here we get to the fallacy.

Isn't it funny that consensuses (?) mean nothing when you don't want them to. To say that most scholars have the same opinion on something is not something you can ignore. This isn't an ad populem appeal. This is a survey of people who actually study the sources. To claim that we must be wary of consensus is to assume that scholars are not taking care themselves. We should be wary of everything in scholarship, and I'm pretty sure that McClellan isn't telling people to blindly trust a majority opinion simply because it's a majority opinion. It was a polite way of saying that lay apologists who are making the claims they are making are not privy to the whole picture and not schooled in the critical skills of historiography.

The consensus is the consensus because the academics best positioned to judge the sources have come to an agreement. It's not a fallacy to trust that process. It's far too common these days to throw expert consensus in the bin - just because that consensus makes life uncomfortable. We saw it in the last few years where people with no expertise rejected medical advice for political reasons and pure selfishness.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green "So we are left with a very significant proportion of scholars who say Paul is not the author, and that might well be a big understatement."

Over the centuries prior to German Bibelkritik of the 19th C. an even larger consensus said they were genuine.

Catholic bishops.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green "We saw it in the last few years where people with no expertise rejected medical advice for political reasons and pure selfishness."

Normally, it is taking medical advice that's supposed to be a selfish act.

Meaning, normally it's up to you to take your doctor's advice or not. Fun fact, the word "selfish" is not in the Bible ...

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl you understand that there are different forms of consensus right? Like, it's consensus among Muslims that the Quran is true. And that there are distinct reasons for why we should not trust such a consensus.

So can you tell me which category Catholic Bishops are more likely to fall into - Muslim religious scholars or modern academic Biblical scholars.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green I put "modern academic Biblical scholars" and Muslims in the same category.

@ben green There is also a big difference between assessing a book as true and assessing it as genuinely by its author. (Or "human author" if you think there is a divine too).

I do not believe Muslims on Coran being true, but I do believe each Surah was revealed to the community Ayah by Ayah on successive days while they tried to learn it by heart - and more often than not did a good job.

@ben green it isn't an appeal to authority at all... And I frankly wonder if you understood what he said.

However the argument that "the overwhelming majority of scholars deny the Pauline authorship of the pastoral epistles" is an appeal to authority and it's a rather weak one because it is based on a "consensus" which on code examination does not appear to exist. Slightly more than 50% with significant disagreement from some major scholars is not "an overwhelming majority" by any measure. I point out for example that even the prestigious Anchor Bible commentary on the Pastoral epistle, hardly a conservative or evangelical series, affirms Pauline authorship.

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
of course you do - because you are led by your religious bias.

Integrational Polytheism
@ben green also, the majority of scholars in the field of biblical studies and early Christianity are themselves Christians.

I actually don't think, therefore, that much weight can be put on the religious status of the scholar. You get unrepentant believers at one end of the scale (eg Gary Habermass) ready to jam any square peg evidence into the round hole of his presuppositions, and at the other end you get somebody like John Dominic Crossan, a Christian scholar that in no way lets his religious beliefs influence his conclusions, drawn from his research and evidence.

At the bottom of it, it really is the evidence that should count, and if an individual wants to weight their personal religious experiences heavily against that evidence, then that's their choice, but they should be honest about it.

As a polytheist I very much confess that my religious beliefs are not based very much on evidence and that's why I wouldn't really try to convince somebody round to believing what I believe. That's not the case with adherents of Christianity and one or two other religions.

Grant Gooch
@Integrational Polytheism Everybody likes to say this but it's completely unsupported by the sociological literature.

While theists score higher in dogmatism than non-theists when self-reporting, atheists and non-theists actually score higher in dogmatism and my-side bias when they are scored subtlety.*

Additionally, academics are extremely likely to exhibit anti-Christian biases against Christian ideas and their Christian colleagues and also score higher than theists in my-side bias and self belief superiority.

So really, it's the skeptical scholars who are more likely to agree dogmatically with their preconceptions and ignore contervailing evidence than Christian scholars.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green So are you. The one for modern academia is a bias too, and it's religious too. It's religion says no Omniscient God has spoken, and the closest we come to Omniscience is modern academia.

That's why both modern Academia and Muslims will diss the Catholic tradition, be it about Gospels where Christ affirmed His divinity, in indirrect, but conclusive, terms, contradicting Surah 5, or be it Pastorals, contradicting the idea that Prussia is free to remodel Christianity, because the Original Version is anyway lost and needs to be restored.

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
yeah - I'm not really interested in your ramblings. Well done for representing your faith so well though. Not at all embarrassing.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green Sounds like a tactic copout on your part.

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
Not a copout, I just don't need to waste any energy trying to engage with you. If my aim is to expose the inner workings of the minds of theists, then I don't think I could achieve more than you are doing on your own. Your lack of self awareness, your rambling incoherent and unjustified attack on everyone outside your religious denomination - honestly I couldn't have made my initial point clearer.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green Why would you want to "expose the inner workings of the minds of theists" or why would you speak of "lack of self awareness"?

Are you a kind of shrink or sth?

If so, it's no news that your religion (it is one) is inimical to mine, shrinks in the Soviet Union have started taking over from the Gulags in the 70's, and they have had "scientific" collaboration with shrinks elsewhere, in the free West, which they are for some unfortunates making less free.

"unjustified attack on everyone outside your religious denomination"

There actually wasn't any.

I am classing secularism and Islam as two religions that have a need to get rid of the historic witness of certain books in the Bible. Moderate semi-Christian secularism is anti-Catholic, like in Prussia 19th C, hence attacks on Matthean priority, towting of Markan priority, attacks on Paulinity of Pastorals. Total secularism needs to get rid of all and any Gospels, hence compounds Markan priority with putting Mark too late to know. Islam needs to get rid definitely and openly of St. John's Gospel.

I don't need to get rid of the Surah that says an elephant bowed knees towards Mecca, or the statement that Lamar wrote a book about "true believer syndrome" as early as in 1976. These things are perfectly possible. I don't have a religion in need of weeding out the historic testimony of another religion's sacred books - I am even very moderate about criticising the historic statements in the Talmud.

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
tell me about your mother...

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green No, why would I?**

ben green***
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
tell me - why are you so reluctant to talk about your mother?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green It's off topic.

I refuse the idea of your acting like a shrink, and I reported you to try to block you.

I'm here to debate in favour of genuine Pastorals, not to speak about myself, least of all to a shrink.

I had missed a section:

ben green
I missed your response to me before, so sorry about that.

I'm not sure what you mean by, " it isn't an appeal to authority at all."

What isn't? Erik's claim that consensus doesn't mean anything?

Dan pointed out that there is a general consensus and that's it. I don't care about your attempt to pretend that the consensus isn't significant or your cherry picking of examples that you seem to think invalidate that consensus.

Dan was highlighting the all too common tendency for lay people to assume that their opinion is worth the same as the opinion of experts - that applies to any field by the way.

I'm not sure what you meant by 'code' examination. Did you mean 'cold'?

An appeal to authority fallacy is when you take the word of people who are not really experts in the field they are discussing. So if you were to claim that I should take Erik's word for it that the letters are genuine - that would be an appeal to authority fallacy - an appeal to false authority.

However, it is perfectly reasonable - logically encouraged even - to accept the authority of experts on subjects they are experts in. This is not to say they must necessarily be right, but the probability is in their favour. Because they spend their lives looking at all the data, and lay people aren't even aware of how much data there is.

It is therefore an 'appeal to authority fallacy fallacy' to ignore the academic consensus on the grounds that their expertise means nothing.

Erik might feel he has good rebuttals, but that's because he's not an expert and lacks the detailed picture of the issue. While you might feel shortchanged by Dan's brief reply of "but the consensus is that you're wrong", that doesn't mean Erik isn't wrong.

ben green
@Grant Gooch
I think you are presenting a very simplistic overview of the literature.

Can I ask a question - did you get your information from an Inspiring Philosophy video on this topic?

I suggest you look at the areas where atheists score more highly on dogmatism.

Because what the studies actually show is that atheists have a tendency to be more dogmatic about logic, while theists are more dogmatic about emotional/moral beliefs.

It means that atheists tend to favour cold hard logic over empathetic concerns.

As for the exhibition of anti christian biases in academia - how do you know these biases are not warranted?

And you should also take into account the prevalence of dogmatism in right wing conservatives compared to left wing liberals.

The takeaway is that leftie atheists are not swayed by emotional appeals, and conservative theists are not swayed by logic.


Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green "An appeal to authority fallacy is when you take the word of people who are not really experts in the field they are discussing."

No, it's when it is taking the word of someone else's opinion, humanly arrived at, when you can't replicte their thought process before those contradicting it.

The authority of eye witnesses would obviously not be a fallacy - and that's the authority of tradition about authorship.

If you are a shrink, you are not an expert in the field of logic, and you are not in a position to tell people what is a fallacy and what isn't. But you are in a position highly susceptible to criticism, which is likely to defend itself best on the assumption of "we should blindly trust the experts."

On the actual subject matter, there is no expertise, because there is no feedback from the facts being studied. In archery or shoemaking there is. You aim and miss, you know you were aiming too far to the left. You make a shoe it doesn't fit, you know you made the "foot to last" transition incorrectly in measures. You make a shoe it doesn't last (other end of the pun), you know your seams weren't strong enough. No such thing in discussing authorship of ancient texts.

Also no such thing in discussing best way to deal with a pandemic, experts who got data saying "doesn't make much difference" were still promoting policies that curbed freedoms over whole countries. Or at best "we didn't do it wrong" if the policies are already ended.

There is an expertise in psychology, though. As with other arts of bullying, the feedback is, how do you best break someone down to reshape him. Interesting that you singled out me for that kind of approach.

@ben green the consensus doesn't mean anything if most of the “scholars” don't even know the reasons behind it and are just repeating what they heard from their own professors unthinkingly, which in fact, happens to the case

Scholar John Bergsma recounts a story of his time in seminary when he asked in a class on Paul how scholars know that Paul didn't write the pastoral.. He said the entire class laughed and the professor said that he didn't know the reasons but they must be right because it is the “scholarly consensus”, You have that happen to you a couple of times, get laughed at by all your peers and be told by those in authority that your question is stupid, and you’ll learn to blindly regurgitate the standard line too

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
I'm not qualified to give you the help you need, but I suggest you find someone who is - preferably a non theist who isn't going to just confirm your dissonance.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green I was not here asking for help, but challenging atheists and their actual bias.

Produced in ways that Michael was just telling you.

Gaslighting - the exact same thing you try to do to me.

ben green
@Hans-Georg Lundahl
I know that's what you think.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green Then, why don't you respect it?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@ben green OK, you don't answer the question.

I'm not sure if I can tell you the answer, but I can tell some others the answer:

  • you are trying to gaslight me
  • because I was a more radical challenge to the usual arsenal of arguments you have.

That's at least one option.

* Note:
"scored subtlety" presumably "scored with subtlety" ...

** Note:
whereon I reported him, presumably only way to block him on youtube, right now. I'd have preferred to block without seeming paranoid about what could be a joke. His channel seems to be nature oriented, but this is not impossible for shrinks to have that as a hobby.

*** Note:
The blocking attempt failed.

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