If you have been watching the main stream news, you will have recently noticed an uptick in reports about a situation that many of us have known about for months and months. I am speaking, of course, of Benghazi. Watching liberal, Obama sympathizers come out with what looks like disgust with the Obama administration suggests …
The media knows that they have a significant role in shaping public opinion. They know that if they don’t report the ‘minority’ position you, my dear reader, will likely never hear it. If you are lucky enough to ever hear it, they can count on you to dismiss it without further thought, “If it was a valid viewpoint it would be in the papers” “This flies in the face of the scientific consensus, you idiot! They said RIGHT ON THE BBC that this is the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS!” or “Why would the governments of the world be pushing this way if it weren’t true?”
But this article allows one to pull back the curtain, just a shade, to see the truth. They are manipulating you. You are being manipulated. You are a regular reader of the news and keep abreast of current affairs by watching the nightly news. You think you are informed. You aren’t. You are a gullible dolt being led by the nose by the powers that be to believe just whatever it is they want you to believe right now. At least, that is what the media thinks, and this article implies. And why would they think that way if it weren’t true?
It’s easy to be a skeptic because it is much easier to not believe something as to believe it. Skepticism has no non-arbitrary stopping point. That is, full blooded skepticism will naturally morph into cynicism. There is no objective point where any kind of argument, piece of evidence, or logical deduction must coerce belief. This is a point I raise in this post. Many skeptics construe their skepticism as an act of courage, as though being willing to question everything shows a brave streak that others do not have. To a point, there is courage… and in a way, yes, there is something to that.
However, if it is brave to question everything it is braver still to believe anything. Let me illustrate.
if one applies a higher standard of inquiry against claims that they might deem extraordinary, then claims they find to be ordinary will ordinarily be accepted- without demonstration at all. Here again we see skepticism turned on its head: the skeptic is not skeptical about the things he is prepared already to believe. It is only the things he deems unlikely that he is skeptical about- God alone knows how the skeptic determined something was ‘unlikely.’
It is a fact of human nature, I think, to quickly accept things that one is already prepared to accept. If I am told tomorrow that some Democrat in high office has failed to pay his taxes- again- I will pretty much accept it as a fact because I have become accustomed to Democrats doing such things (eg here, here, here, and here). We should expect nothing less from the people who believe that we should all pay higher taxes; by ‘we all’ it is known they mean us all. I am prepared to believe it as a pretty ordinary claim in the realm of things and therefore will demand very little evidence to support it. So you see, I am not exempting myself from this human tendency.
This ministry hosts a regular online round table discussing matters of substance and controversy. Christians and NonChristians are invited but it is not necessarily an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate. Past topics have included matters of controversy only amongst Christians and due to the flexibility of the discussion, topics can change on a dime. The next …
Over the last three hundred years unbounded skepticism has been applied to religion and Christianity especially. Atheist philosopher David Hume was one of the prominent voices calling for stringent criteria in evaluating miracle claims, and the like. Not everyone thought very highly of this criteria. One such person was the Reverend Richard Whately, who skewers Hume’s reasoning by showing how if it were applied consistently, one could not be reasonably certain that Napoleon existed- a public figure that was said to be alive and roaming Europe even as he spoke!
This playful little book is not a treatise by any means, but it provides a glimpse into the conversations of the 1800s and challenges the ‘enlightened’ skeptics to decide: If they won’t apply their principles thoroughly and consistently, but choose only to apply them to certain claims (and how did they choose which ones?), are those principles worth their salt?
Barker’s Challenge explicitly says: “…without omitting a single detail…write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension… [it] does not have to pretend to present a perfect picture- it only needs to give at least one plausible account of all of the facts. … The important condition to the challenge, however, is that not one single biblical detail be omitted.”
Who among us is surprised to hear that by ‘plausible’ Barker basically means ‘naturalistic explanations’? Even I, I mean, even I, was shocked to hear Barker dismiss the plausibility of Kingsley’s chronology because, well, one must adopt a naturalistic perspective of what counts as ‘plausible’! Unbelievable! Consider this exchange leading into Part 2: [More…]
Dan: Yes. But we’re not there yet. In order for your evidence to be admissible, you have to produce a coherent, noncontradictory, plausible version of it.
Elizabeth: And that is the point of your Easter Challenge. I understand. So the only way for us to proceed is to assume that we are both naturalists, simply looking at the details of the stories themselves, on their own merits.
Dan: Yes. That’s all I was trying to say.
My first exposure to Dan Barker was his so called ‘Easter Challenge.’ I had already emerged from my own crisis of faith and had already determined some principles for sorting out alleged Biblical contradictions. The more I read Barker’s writings, the less impressed I was. I put the Challenge to good use, though, having my New Testament courses take up the ‘challenge’ for their spring project.
It never crossed my mind to try to actually correspond with Barker. I assumed the whole thing was just some sort of cheap shot. Having read Kingsley’s book I see that was a mistake. He documents how Barker and other hyper-skeptics really thought they had something here and took the alleged silence of Christians as telling.
I am glad, therefore, to see that Pastor Stephen Kingsley has taken up the ‘challenge.’ According to Kingsley, he has contacted Barker with the ‘answer’ but Barker has demurred and hasn’t yet responded.
Has Kingsley done it? Has Kingsley really and definitively reconciled and harmonized the Easter accounts?
you did me no favors, The Last Templar. The idea that faith is important in its own right quite apart from the facts and evidence is an understanding of ‘faith’ common to liberal believers and a certain brand of fundamentalists. Both extremes have in common this idea that faith is by definition indifferent to facts. That is why you can have scholars like John Dominic Crossan running around insisting that they, too, are Christians, even though they have done all in their power to strip Christianity from any claim to actual truth. And why not? A mystical belief in God and a view of all humans as God’s children is all that is required, right? This perspective is what fuels the skeptic’s accusation that ‘faith’ is not merely belief in absence of the facts, but even in spite of the facts.
Response to Online Presentation and Archive Link: Tradition without Empathy, Contemporary without Foundation
I often see two groups of people.
One is are involved in a tradition rich church with head knowledge of rules and dogma. In reality for them, God is not often real in their lives and their rules without empathy or transparency drives people away.
The second could be explained as people involved in a newly created, often emotion driven church, with little foundation or knowledge of how firm the foundation of the bible and the church is. When real questions come up, they topple.
Both are in danger of propagating a fragile view of Christianity to people they know and more importantly, their children.
How can the churches out there tackle these problems effectively.
Christian apologists are constantly asking skeptics and genuine seekers to hold to the question of God and Jesus the same standards of evidence they hold anything else. The question of Jesus being also a question of history, we are satisfied if non-biased standards of historical research were employed. Usually, it is the skeptics employing ad hoc standards based on priorly held beliefs about reality.
On this basis then, we see that one cannot dismiss the idea that there was really a man named St. Nicholas just because 350 years separates him from the (current) best sources. On that reasoning we’d have to ditch much of what we know about a great many historical figures, including big ones like Alexander the Great. So, let it be agreed: Santa Claus existed; it is a fact of history.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, …
My new ‘friend’ Rational Man (not to be confused with Hyperbole Boy or the Stalker) has fired off a response to my response one or two blog entries ago. Here it is. I have just a few points. First of all, I loved the instant fixation on the fact that I am a creationist. This …