Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why are we respecting belief at the expense of truth?

The other day I was sitting in the lunch room at my job, when another employee walks in and asks me about the book I'm reading. The book happens to be "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong. This sparks a discussion about the history of how the bible came to be, specifically the writers of the 5 books of Moses and the Gospels. Turns out that my co-worker claims to be an agnostic, never got to explain the problem with that to him, but anyway as we are having the conversation, he stops it to try to keep it quite. His reasoning is that someone with deep beliefs in the bible might hear it and get offended. Now, we don't know whether this was because he actually believed truth was less important then this persons beliefs or he just didn't want to deal with any situation that arises at work. That does not really matter, this brings us to the problem either way this conversation represents the problem. It was felt necessary to hide the truth to protect the believer. It was felt this was the right thing to do by the society we live in, so that he had to make these comments. Why?

Why should we protect belief from the truth. Shouldn't we protect the truth from wrong beliefs, not the other way around. If the 5 books of Moses are clearly written by 4 different authors: J, E,P, and D, why shouldn't I be able to say so at my job. I hardly think that, at my job, there would be a problem with me saying that George Washington was the first president. Even if there was a large contingency of people who had a deep felt belief that it was Michael Jackson. We would still respect the truth being said that it was George Washington. This makes no sense to me.

So, you may ask why is truth more important then belief? Well that is simple, the more mankind has found out about the truth the better our society has become. Look at our advancements in health and medicine when we stopped respecting the idea that most diseases were demon possessions, like good ole Yeshua O Nazarene would have one believe. We have advanced to the point where many diseases that meant certain death are curable in days. That is just one of many examples of how finding the truth has helped society.

Its time we turn the zeitgeist on this whole idea of respect beliefs in spite of the truth. The person whose beliefs are not grounded with facts should be the one that doesn't feel as comfortable saying them, not the other way around. I'm not talking banning of religious beliefs, I'm just saying our societies attitude toward truth vs belief(faith) needs to change. Lets keep the truth, not the faith.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Argument from No Body as presented by David Velasquez

So the other day I was having a conversation with this guy David Velasquez on facebook about the resurrection of Jesus and his comments went something like this. I have heard all the alternate theories and they are ridiculous, until someone comes up with the body Jesus was resurrected. That was his proof for the resurrection. We are going to be very liberal with this, as a matter of fact we are going to pretend for a moment or 2 as David does that he has a personal relationship with a zombie savior. We are going to pretend that his argument doesn't completely shift the burden of proof, we are also going to the land of make believe and going to assume that this David guy, who claims to be going for a masters in college, has the ability to comprehend what a syllogism is and actually put one together. Yes I know atheist brethren this is a huge leap to a conclusion, but please just play along. I present to you the syllogism for his argument.

Premise 1: we have not found Jesus' body.
Premise 2: A resurrection is the most probable explanation
Conclusion: The belief in the resurrection is justified.

Premise 1 is true, I grant that, so far so good. One of the most successful theist arguments ever, first premise is sound. So we get to the second premise.

This is where David runs into huge issues. We have a huge data set on resurrection possibilities. We have millions of cases and not a single resurrection out of the last how ever million cases. Our data set is so large that the margin of error is near zero. The percentages are very low that Jesus resurrected. So we can say we are close to a zero percent chance that a body resurrects after 3 days. So these other possibilities must be pretty bad and impossible right. Well, we could probably stop this ridiculousness at the body was stolen, but that would be to easy. As grave robbery happens far more frequently then bodily resurrections. So that is more likely. Premise 2 is sounding very poor, but I contend that we can do better then this. I contend that there should be no expectation at all that Premise 1 should come as any shock.

Lets go back to this now. I contend that if Jesus was a real person, and this is a huge concession to make, that the historical Jesus is so far from the Jesus of Christianity that we should not expect to find a body. My contention is that if you had only seen the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you would not expect the person to find Ed Gein, in case you are not familiar he is the real life serial killer that inspired the character. ( You would not expect to find st Nicholas by only knowing the story of Santa Claus. The latter may actually be a better example, by the fact that we got there from a constant expansion of myth about the man, where as Ed Gein turned to Leatherface in a more intentional way, as the writer of the movie took many liberties. But that is neither here nor there as the end result is the mythical character makes it hard to find the real person if that is all you have.

Im going for my masters, David, seems to miss the concept that historians only give credit to a historical Jesus as being a apocalyptic preacher. That is far from the actual character that we are searching for. The story of Jesus was not written down until at least 30-40 years after his supposed death. It had long been mixed with Mythology and authors making changes. The changes could be mere mistakes, or intentional to cover up opposing views of Christianity. Early christians had many different alien views of Jesus then modern christians. There are many examples of these causing authors to change the story. He also ignore the whole theory that the resurrection is myth that follows the tradition of many previous gods being raised from the dead. So we have some huge problems with his assumption. We are well aware that throughout history characters have far more often become more myth then reality. This happens in a far greater proportion then any 3 day resurrection story. Not only this but if Jesus was really crucified, he ignores another problem. Criminals executed like Jesus were commonly buried in mass graves, not given anything like a single tomb like the gospels portray. If he was crucified there is no reason to believe that he would be treated any different. How would we even know his bones if we found them.

Another possibility is hoax. This means it was mad e up a people bought into it being real. Many modern examples of this exist today,many people bout the Blair with project as real, ditto for Paranormal actiivity and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. People buy into the lochness monster and in almost every state there is a ghost story about the prom girl walking the road or the hooker man walking the railroad tracks as ghost stories. Wow that is far more modern day examples of fake events being bought into as being real,then any 3 day resurrection stories.

There is zero reason to believe that we should have found Jesus's body. So it turns out our good boy David is just accepting a story without even giving it the basic thought process it deserves. Sorry David your argument fails. Then again I would hope that David would have been honest enough with himself not to have bought into 4 unknown authors claiming a resurrection, when he wouldn't buy into 4 of his own friends telling him someone who died 3 days ago was outside playing basketball. This has to be one of the most blatant displays of intellectual dishonesty in a long time and for a guy who claims to have studied theology this argument gives it an even worse black eye then it already has. That's quite a feat for a field that includes clowns like William Lane Craig and Lee Stobel, but alas thats probably where David adapted this from. Those 2 buffoons empty tomb arguments.