Outreach Media’s Evidence for God on Toast: fixed that for you

Lots of Australian churches outsource the creation of ‘witty’ posters to an outfit called Outreach Media, who have a new zinger for us each month. They were the people who produced the horrific Christian poster with the lion on. Well, their October effort is pretty bad, too. Just a bit less horrific, and a bit more stupid.

The Outreach Media 'Want Better Evidence' toast campaign

The Outreach Media 'Want Better Evidence' toast campaign

In case you can’t make it out, it’s a picture of an apparition of Jesus on a slice of toast, and the caption ‘WantBetterEvidence.org’

Want better evidence?

Why, yes, Outreach Media! I do want better evidence! That’s what we’ve been saying all along!

I’m sure you’re as excited as I am to see what they have to offer!

Actually, I’ll save you the bother. It’s the Bible. Because apparently, a self-contradictory bundle of myths about a zombie carpenter, cobbled together long after his supposed life, is evidence for miracles. And somehow that proves God.

I’ve got a slight problem with that. Actually, I’ve got quite a lot of pretty stonking huge problems with it. Here are a few off the top of my head:

  • You can’t demonstrate a miracle with a 2,000-year-old anecdote.
  • An anecdote of even a natural phenomenon is hardly reliable if it was passed on from person to illiterate person for decades.
  • There is a link or two missing in the syllogism: ‘Jesus, therefore god’.
  • No-one wrote about Jesus while he was alive. No-one.
  • The earliest biblical writings about Jesus (Paul’s epistles) don’t seem to square with the idea of a recently deceased human.
  • The earliest Gospel (Mark) overlooked some pretty big details. Like the virgin birth. And the resurrection.

There are dozens more holes in this stupid claim. Please add your favourites in the comments below!

Only a fool would think the biblical tales of Jesus support the historicity of the biblical tales of Jesus. Let alone the rarely-defined ‘God’. Speaking of the the big fella, if God is a real phenomenon, to be found throughout the natural world today, why do we need these Middle Eastern legends as evidence? The icing on the cake is when they link to the Centre for Public Christianity in the hope that CPX will get them out of their mess. It’s almost as though Outreach don’t read my blog!

I was, therefore, less than impressed with Outreach Media’s offering of ‘evidence of god’. I was amazed that they actually thought calling attention to the amount of evidence for god was a good idea.

Clearly, Dave, we really need your help.

- not an actual quote from Outreach Media

So I’m happy to offer them a little help:

IWantBetterEvidence.org: Evidence for God on Toast

Here’s a sneak preview. Click the toast for more:

 

Christianity is Toast

If you want better evidence of God...

Updates

62 Comments

  1. Posted October 11, 2011 at 23:38 | Permalink

    bah….I rasin your Jesus toast, to prove in a Galaxy far far away.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tech_knight/3204902072/

  2. Posted October 11, 2011 at 23:46 | Permalink

    ” Only a fool would think the biblical tales of Jesus support the historicity of the biblical tales of Jesus. ”
    Yeah, it’s not like anyone who thought that the NT docs were reliable would, I dunno, establish Australia’s top ancient history department or anything like that.. oh wait..
    Maybe you should write to Macquarie Uni and tell them that their Prof. Judge is a fool?y Let me know what they say. ;)

  3. Posted October 12, 2011 at 00:03 | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, Andrew. I assume Edwin Judge reads my blog and already knows I think he is a fool.

    Great genetic fallacy, by the way! I see the reputation of christianity in the reason department is in safe hands.

  4. Posted October 12, 2011 at 00:25 | Permalink

    I assume Edwin Judge reads my blog and already knows I think he is a fool.

    Credit where it’s due.. good comeback. Made me chuckle ;)

    But where did I commit the genetic fallacy?Which argument did I accept / reject based on its source rather than merit?
    While we’re on fallacies, I’m pretty sure the whole ‘only a fool would…’ line is a kind of ad hominem (at the very least, is question begging, which was my point).

  5. Posted October 12, 2011 at 00:27 | Permalink

    I should also note that I generally find those ads smug, unfunny and annoying.. But I don’t live there anymore, so I’d forgotten how bad they can be.

  6. jayel
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:10 | Permalink

    Hmmm. I wonder if a piece of toast with the image of Jesus on it would always land face up or face down…

  7. Peter
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:30 | Permalink

    AndrewF,

    You are confusing things here.

    - NT docs might (or might not) describe reliably what the original documents had. That is what historians at Macquarie Uni study.
    - Miracle healings of Asclepius in ancient Greek might (or might not) true. This is what theologians “study”.

    What non-believers say that someone writing miracle stories do not reliably describe reality even if we have the original text describing the event is 100% accurate.

    So it is irrelevant what profs in Macquarie Uni say about the textual reliability if the text does not align with reality. We have better text and eyewitness accounts about Mormon miracles (and many other religions).

  8. Posted October 12, 2011 at 19:15 | Permalink

    @Peter

    NT docs might (or might not) describe reliably what the original documents had. That is what historians at Macquarie Uni study.

    Sort of. Prof. Judge also argues that the gospel writers were careful in their recording of what happened. Historians do use the NT docs as sources for the life of Jesus.
    There is no special category for ‘religious’ documents, and it’s not a binary all-or-nothing approach either.

    if the text does not align with reality

    You’re begging the question (naturalist assumptions about what constitutes the totality of reality). Citing what normally happens does not mean unique (and supernatural) events cannot have occurred. I would suggest that instead of imposing prior naturalist assumptions, the normal historical criteria of assessment (argument to best explanation etc.) be used. Argument to best explanation criteria is used to determine what most likely happened, and while a priori probability will come in to it, yes, improbable things can and do happen, so a priori probability by itself is not the best tool for figuring out historicity.

  9. Peter
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 23:06 | Permalink

    AndrewF,

    Prof. Judge also argues that the gospel writers were careful in their recording of what happened.

    Sure. And Professors at Brigham Young argue that Mormon eyewitnesses recorded events surrounding their golden plates carefully. SO what? I’m not interested in arguments, show me the evidence.

    There is no special category for ‘religious’ documents

    Of course there is. Please read one ancient ‘religious’ documents and one historical writing describing religions and you’ll see it.

    Please learn the fallacies before you use them. I’m not begging a question with “if the text does not align with reality”. If different authors claim different last words for Jesus then they are not all correct. No fallacy in that.

    But try this: Citing what normally happens does not mean unique (and supernatural) events cannot have occurred. But if we never experience supernatural event then we can ignore them until they happen. Just as you ignore all Mormon and Mithras’ miracles. If you are consistent you don’t pick and choose some miracle claims and ignore the ones against your presuppositions. This is where your faith fails.

    The Christian “argument to best explanation criteria” is non-sense. So explain to me how you would assess the best explanation for Isis’ healing miracles. Ancient historians (hostile source) tell how “the how world” testified to her miracles to be true.

  10. Posted October 13, 2011 at 05:05 | Permalink

    @Peter
    Did you seriously just compare the ancient history department at Macquarie uni with a Mormon college?

    SO what? I’m not interested in arguments, show me the evidence.

    How convenient – dismiss what scholars like Judge put forward as evidence and then demand to see evidence. You do realise that textual sources make up the bulk of evidence in ancient history, right?

    Of course there is. Please read one ancient ‘religious’ documents and one historical writing describing religions and you’ll see it.

    No. Historians apply the same methods and criteria to all documents, whether they have religion, imperial or some other kind of bias (and they all have some kind of bias – as do the historians dealing with them).

    Please learn the fallacies before you use them. I’m not begging a question with “if the text does not align with reality”. If different authors claim different last words for Jesus then they are not all correct. No fallacy in that.

    I know what the fallacy of begging the question is. You seem to have changed the subject though, as we weren’t talking about the ‘last words’ of Jesus. We were talking about miracle stories and you very much appeared to say that “miracle stories do not reliably describe reality”. That IS begging the question. You’ve assumed naturalism and that miracles cannot occur in reality, which seems to be one of the points actually under discussion. That is textbook question begging.

    As to the issue of Jesus ‘last words’ even if you could show that two sources claim his last words were different, that doesn’t mean historians just throw out the source texts.

    But if we never experience supernatural event then we can ignore them until they happen.

    So, until I experience a Roman army crossing the Rubicon, I can ignore it? Why is only what happens in your or my immediate experience worth worrying about?

    If you are consistent you don’t pick and choose some miracle claims and ignore the ones against your presuppositions.

    There’s certainly a danger of that, though I don’t think that is the case. There is no one-size-fits-all view of anything in history. Just because an account of one type of event is accepted does not mean all accounts about such events are equally valid or persuasive. Each unique historical claim must be weighed on its own merits and the extant data – using the same methodology. That’s not picking and choosing.

    The Christian “argument to best explanation criteria” is non-sense.

    Argument to best explanation is not ‘Christian’ – it’s normal historical methodology. If you mean that the conclusions drawn using this method that those who accept the resurrection have drawn are ‘nonsense’..well that’s your view, good on you. I don’t expect that we’d disagree about whether the conclusions are justified or not. We all have biases.

    So explain to me how you would assess the best explanation for Isis’ healing miracles. Ancient historians (hostile source) tell how “the how world” testified to her miracles to be true.

    You mean, what’s the best explanation for the historical data relating to Isis. If you think that either the figure, nature or textual data relating to Isis is similar to Jesus ben Joseph, then I can only wonder where you’ve gotten your info from (or think that you actually don’t know what argument to best explanation is or what its criteria are? You did, after all compare Macquarie Uni to a Mormon college). Perhaps you can tell me which sources you’re referring to. What is the accepted historical data that you think needs explaining in relation to Isis. Do you think Isis existed in history? If not, I’m not interested in someone playing devil’s advocate for something they don’t actually think.

    I will agree on one point though:

    Miracle healings of Asclepius in ancient Greek might (or might not) true. This is what theologians “study”.

    There is a difference between doing history and doing theology, though I don’t think miraculous events that are said to have taken place in history are beyond the purvey of historians. But it’s worth noting that nothing in history can be proven, and so, of course, the resurrection cannot be proved via history. I agree with John Dickson (also an historian at Macquarie) that apologists tend to wrongly overplay the historical evidence.

  11. GrahamT
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 09:11 | Permalink

    ” .. apologists tend to wrongly overplay the historical evidence.”

    They can also underplay it. It depends on the evidence and whether it advances or negates their propositions.

    Arguments from authority, such as “Prof. Judge also argues that the gospel writers were careful in their recording of what happened” are dodgy, especially an argument that “the gospel writers were careful in their recording” when the reality is no-one really knows who the writers of ‘the final gospels’ were, and what their sources were.

    It is debatable what (or where) Australia’s “top ancient history university department” is, or even if one is better than another, particularly given the diversity of the field of ancient history. Arguing that one whose staff are religious are better religious historians or better theologians seems spurious, particularly if they or their advocates argue as stated above.

    Saying “miracle stories do not reliably describe reality” is not an argument – it is just a statement – so it is not a fallacy, let alone the begging-the-question-fallacy.

  12. Peter
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 16:37 | Permalink

    AndrewF,

    Bringham Young University is famous for their history department as they need the records for baptism for dead. Their history department surely knows better the history of Mormonism than Macquarie uni. But you didn’t know that as you mock it as “Mormon college”. So what’s your point about “seriously compare” them?

    Yes, I do “conveniently” dismiss your professor until I know what his evidence is. It is useless to me that you claim that he argues X until I know why he does it.

    Historians don’t apply the same methods and criteria to all documents, whether they have religion, imperial or some other. I already asked you to explain me how you (or any historian) would assess the best explanation for Isis’ healing miracles which are widely attested and we have ancient better documentation of those that Jesus’ miracles. So what is the process? Have you notice how Christian historians think Jesus’ miracles are the best explanation, Muslim historians think Allah’s miracles are the best explanation for supernatural events?

    I did not change the subject by talking about the ‘last words’ of Jesus. The subject was “if the text does not align with reality”. However if God Jesus come to earth and spoke to us it was a supernatural event. So Jesus last words were a supernatural event. Surely you don’t think he was just a regular guy.

    You still don’t understand what question begging is. I did not make judgment if miracles happen or not. Full quote:
    “[I]t is irrelevant what profs in Macquarie Uni say about the textual reliability if the text does not align with reality.”
    The point I made is that textual reliability is irrelevant if the events never happened. So I can grant you that the Bible is perfectly preserve, but that fact does not bring you any closer to show that the story is true. There is your confusion in your post #2.

    It is trivial to show that Jesus ‘last words’ are different in Gospels (what do you think his last words were?). Historian don’t throw out the text, but honest ones try to figure out why those were different and not try to harmonise them like apologist do.

    Crossing the Rubicon was not a supernatural event, so you are making a category error. You need to compare Jesus’ miracle to Isis’ miracles to have like-for-like comparison. Notice how we will have different discussion if talk about natural history than supernatural history.

    Argument of best explanation is normal historical methodology. When Christian apologist use it to argue that their miracles are true and other are not they are abusing it. Tell me already how you compare and weigh supernatural events vs natural events? We all have biases; some of us have biases and faith.

    Your comments show that you clearly have not read about Isis and you need to do your homework. But I’ll let you pick any other non-Christian supernatural character claimed to walk on earth and let’s compare his/her miracles to Jesus’. And who is Aramaic speaking “Jesus ben Joseph” anyway? To be honest I don’t think you understand that “argument to best explanation”, you have just heard it from Graig, Habermas or other Christian apologist.

    I have chatted with John Dickson and read couple of his books. He does not write history but Christian apologetics. His recent Jesus video series were full of mistakes and inaccuracies. His work does not speak highly of Macquarie…

  13. Ken West
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 23:15 | Permalink

    Dave,

    I’m intrigued by your claims.

    You claim that Paul’s epistles don’t square with the idea of a recently deceased human. Yet Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians writes:

    Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you — unless you believed to no purpose. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died … (chapter 15, verses 1 to 3)

    Paul understood that Jesus had died. I’m not sure how you can substantiate your claim, unless you want to argue that Paul thought Jesus was not human.

    You claim that Mark overlooks the resurrection in his gospel. Yet Mark writes:

    Then [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days (chapter 8, verse 31)

    and:

    “Don’t be alarmed,” [the young man] told them. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there just as he told you.’ ” (chapter 16, verses 6 and 7)

    Mark writes often of the resurrection. How can you say he overlooks it? Perhaps you are referring to the well-known absence of descriptions of encounters with the risen Jesus. That is a mystery precisely because Mark refers to the resurrection so often in his book.

  14. Posted October 14, 2011 at 02:29 | Permalink

    @Peter

    I do “conveniently” dismiss your professor until I know what his evidence is.

    He’s not my professor,actually, but how do you go about looking at the evidence he discusses if you’ve dismissed him and his argument already?

    In any case – my point was not whether he’s correct, but simply to note that he happens to hold a view that Dave said only a fool would hold, and Judge is no fool, at least, not according to his academic peers.

    Historians don’t apply the same methods and criteria to all documents, whether they have religion, imperial or some other [bias].

    I disagree.

    I already asked you to explain me how you… would assess the best explanation for Isis’ healing miracles

    It’s the data that gets explained, which is why I asked which data you’re referring to.

    So what is the process?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method#Argument_to_the_best_explanation

    I did not change the subject by talking about the ‘last words’ of Jesus. The subject was “if the text does not align with reality”. However if God Jesus come to earth and spoke to us it was a supernatural event. So Jesus last words were a supernatural event. Surely you don’t think he was just a regular guy.

    That’s certainly a novel suggestion. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone suggest that Jesus speaking was a supernatural event…

    You still don’t understand what question begging is. I did not make judgment if miracles happen or not.

    You seemed to. Here is what you wrote:

    What non-believers say that someone writing miracle stories do not reliably describe reality even if we have the original text describing the event is 100% accurate.

    So it is irrelevant what profs in Macquarie Uni say about the textual reliability if the text does not align with reality.

    It very much seems, from what you wrote, that you are implying that accounts of miracles don’t align with reality. It appears to imply that miracles can’t / don’t happen in reality. If that is what you implied, then it is begging the question. If that is not what you meant to imply, then I will stand corrected.

    The point I made is that textual reliability is irrelevant if the events never happened. So I can grant you that the Bible is perfectly preserve, but that fact does not bring you any closer to show that the story is true. There is your confusion in your post #2.

    Ok, so if I assume you didn’t mean to refer simply to miraculous accounts, but accounts in general, then I agree, that knowing with some certainty what the autographs contained does not necessarily make them accurate. However, textual attestation and accounts are the primary means by which we know about what happened in history. Have you ever heard this interview? The host tries to question if we can trust written accounts, e.g. Paul, and Bart Ehrman points out how such a hyper-skeptical position would make it impossible to do history. Worth a listen. Either end of the binary – it must all be true / false – view is wrong-headed.

    Crossing the Rubicon was not a supernatural event, so you are making a category error.

    Well my point was to question your assertion that we only need to worry about experiences that we’ve personally encountered. Why the special pleading for alleged supernatural events?

    <blockquote? Tell me already how you compare and weigh supernatural events vs natural events?

    I certainly think that natural explanations are to be preferred where they fulfil the AtBE criteria. It seems somewhat prejudiced to take an explanation that relies on a good deal of ad hoc over one that doesn’t simply because it is ‘natural’. That seems to bring certain assumptions to the table, which I don’t think are justified.

    Your comments show that you clearly have not read about Isis and you need to do your homework.

    I agree, which is why I asked you which sources etc you were referring to.

    let’s compare his/her miracles to Jesus’

    I already pointed out that there’s no on-size-fits-all response. Each claim must be taken on their own. If you think there’s an historic person who has a similar level of data regarding miraculous claims, then you feel free to bring them up…

    And who is Aramaic speaking “Jesus ben Joseph” anyway?

    Well, most historians agree that he was an itinerant preacher in Palestine crucified by the Romans around 30AD.

    To be honest I don’t think you understand that “argument to best explanation”

    Perhaps I have misunderstood it. How would you explain the methodology?

  15. Posted October 14, 2011 at 02:34 | Permalink

    @GrahamT

    Arguments from authority, such as “Prof. Judge also argues that the gospel writers were careful in their recording of what happened” are dodgy, especially an argument that “the gospel writers were careful in their recording” when the reality is no-one really knows who the writers of ‘the final gospels’ were, and what their sources were.

    An argument from authority is only fallacious if it is argued or implied that said person cannot be wrong. I made no such implication. I simply noted that a leading, respected historian happened to hold to a view that it was said only ‘fools’ hold to. He may well be wrong for holding to said view, but he’s patently no fool. It was, then, a response to a kind of no-true-scotsman kind of claim.

    Saying “miracle stories do not reliably describe reality” is not an argument – it is just a statement – so it is not a fallacy, let alone the begging-the-question-fallacy.

    It’s a premise (not the ‘if’ in the sentence), so yes, it begs the question.

  16. GrahamT
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 08:03 | Permalink

    Andrew F,
    an argument from authority is where reference is made to the persons standing rather than using reason.

    The most common version of this fallacy is the appeal to “vague authority.” Unspecified experts, masters, sages, adepts, studies, research, or documents are cited as though they were generally known and universally accepted. Implicit in this version of the fallacy is the idea that anyone who does not know and accept the cited authority is stupid, ignorant, or “out of touch”.

    Simply ” .. ‘noting’ that a ‘leading, respected historian’ happened to hold to a view” is an ‘appeal to authority’, especially the descriptor “leading, respected”.

    Yes it is ‘premise’ and a ‘statement’, which is just a component of an argument, not a whole argument, so cannot be a ‘whole fallacy’.

  17. Posted October 14, 2011 at 08:25 | Permalink

    @GrahamT

    Not all arguments from authority are fallacious. If it were, we’d have no use for things like medical degrees. The consensus of climate scientists, for example, has significant weight, and non scientists like myself are not committing a fallacy to point to that consensus in supporting the the idea of climate change.
    An appeal to authority is only fallacious when it is argued that the authority cannot be wrong (i.e. “It must be true, X says so” – so you can commit the fallacy if you don’t allow that your GP or climate scientists can be wrong).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority
    I made no such suggestion of infallibility, indeed, I did not reference anyone in support of an idea – I cited them as an example of someone who holds to an idea with no reference as to whether that idea is correct or not. I trust you can understand the difference.

    Simply ” .. ‘noting’ that a ‘leading, respected historian’ happened to hold to a view” is an ‘appeal to authority’, especially the descriptor “leading, respected”.

    Again, I cited that figure as an example of someone who holds a view that was said to only be held by fools. This person is demonstrably no fool, therefore, the assertion is false. The person may be wrong. There is NO fallacy because I haven’t said that anything must be true because this person happens to believe it. Let me put it into a syllogism for you:
    It was claimed: Only people X think A.
    I responded here is person not-X who thinks A.
    That says nothing about the truth of A. It does show the claim to be false.
    Perhaps you’re tempted to reply that Judge must be a fool if he holds to the thing allegedly only fools hold to, but I’m sure you can see the circularity of that!

    Yes it is ‘premise’ and a ‘statement’, which is just a component of an argument, not a whole argument, so cannot be a ‘whole fallacy’.

    What? If you assume the thing yet to be demonstrated in your premise you have begged the question, whether you think it constitutes a whole argument or not.
    If the premise (or ‘statement’) was not part of an argument that the gospel accounts don’t reflect reality, then what was the point of the ‘statement’?

  18. Peter
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 08:58 | Permalink

    AndwerF,

    All Muslims, Jew, Secula, Hindu, Buddist historians, who are Prof Judge’s peers, disagree with his conclusions about resurrection. So Prof Judge’s view is a minority view.

    You said that “textual attestation and accounts are the primary means by which we know about what happened in history”. This of course only applies to natural history, not to supernatural history. I would like to see a supernatural history book one day ;-)

    When I asked what is the Argument_to_the_best_explanation process, you pointed to Wikipedia. It said nothing how to compare a supernatural explanation to natural explanation. Tell me already how you compare and weigh supernatural events vs natural events?

    I certainly think that natural explanations are to be preferred where they fulfil the AtBE criteria. It seems somewhat prejudiced to take an explanation that relies on a good deal of ad hoc over one that doesn’t simply because it is ‘natural’. That seems to bring certain assumptions to the table, which I don’t think are justified.

    Your comment is just so vague. When do natural explanations fulfil the AtBE criteria; who/what relies on ad hoc; when/why can’t you “simply because it is ‘natural’”; what are certain assumptions and why those are justified? No substance in your comment…

    I have heard Ehrman’s Infidel Gay interview. In fact I’m still a gold member on Infidel Gay site. Ehrman’s comment has been discussed a lot on Neil Godfrey’s blog, and Robert Price’s podcast had couple of lengthy discussion about it. Ehrman is now writing a book (with some help from Price) against the mythisist position. You do know Ehrman later apologised some his comments about Price? Ehrman does not believe that miracles but believe a man Jesus existed. I think I align more with Ehrman than you.

    Regarding Crossing the Rubicon I’m not doing a special pleading for alleged supernatural events. I’m asking you to compare natural events with natural events and supernatural events with supernatural events. That is the honest thing to do.

    Regarding Isis. I’m sorry, my mistake. I thought you were not serious about looking into it. After reading Wikipedia article a good start is Plutarch’s “On Isis and Osiris”. It’s not too long and I think you find it online. Next I would say check out classic E. A. Wallis Budge’s books on the subject. Start with “Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection”. It’s a bit old and heavy, but at least my copy has original pyramid texts samples in it. This way you get the feel of different versions of Isis stories (just like different Gospel stories). Then there are a lot of modern books about pyramid texts. I would recommended books that include photos of pyramid text scenes and various books of the dead. For me it helps to visualise their world view (Gods, astrology, creation stories, judgment stories etc.). I hope that helps. Let me know what you think.

    I thought that preacher in Palestine would have been called “Jesus bar Joseph”. I believe Jews thought that man was just made up by later Christians.

  19. GrahamT
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 09:01 | Permalink

    Andrew,

    I repeat – an argument from authority is where reference is made to the persons standing rather than using reason [about an issue]. You do that in more than one way.

    You keep arguing about arguing.

  20. GrahamT
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 17:17 | Permalink

    Andrew F,
    Arguments by persons in positions of authority can be valid or sound deductive arguments or cogent inductive arguments if their arguments are put appropriately.

    Saying “an appeal to authority is only fallacious when it is argued that the authority cannot be wrong”, as you do, is only stating one component of the ‘appeal-to-authority’ group of fallacies.

    Saying “Yeah, it’s not like anyone who thought that the NT docs were reliable would, I dunno, establish Australia’s top ancient history department or anything like that”, as you do in your 1st post here, is virtually a double appeal-to-authority.

    Saying “Prof. Judge also argues that the gospel writers were careful in their recording of what happened” is an appeal to Judge’s authority (conferred by his academic status, or perhaps his reputation for previous writings on Christian history or other history). It would be appropriate to justify why “the gospel writers were careful in their recording” (Given no-one knows their sources, or how they wrote, it is very unlikely that could be justified; especially for the points about supernatural history v natural history that Peter makes above in post 18).

    The begging-the-question fallacy is mostly applied when there is a double implication, such as “when are you going to stop beating your wife?”, or, bluntly asking a singer “when are you going to stop miming on stage?”

  21. GrahamT
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 17:24 | Permalink

    Moreover, The teaching in medical degrees, as you alluded to, are mostly based on medical science not the authority of those who teach.

    Likewise, climate science is based, and argued for or against, on ‘the science’ which is constantly being reviewed based on new information and discussion about that information: the contributions to that discussion ought to be logical enough to be independent of the relative or arbitrary authority of the contributors.

  22. Posted October 15, 2011 at 00:36 | Permalink

    @Peter
    <blockquote?So Prof Judge’s view is a minority view.

    And? As I keep pointing out, I didn’t cite him in support of the view, I cited him as an example of non-fool who holds it. Whether he’s wrong to hold it is well beside the point.

    This of course only applies to natural history, not to supernatural history.

    Why? shouldn’t the same criteria apply to history, regardless of whether the event was so-called ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’? Surely the explanation that best accounts for data is most likely what happened?

    Tell me already how you compare and weigh supernatural events vs natural events?

    AtBE is used to weight data that relates to claims of events.

    I know who Ehrman is (interesting to hear he appologised for his comments about Price.. I did think they were rather unfair). I don’t always agree with Ehrman, but he makes some very good points in this interview, and namely the one I noted about hyper skepticism in regards to Paul etc.

    Thanks for the Isis suggestions.

    I thought that preacher in Palestine would have been called “Jesus bar Joseph”. I believe Jews thought that man was just made up by later Christians.

    Ben / Bar seems to be the same thing (is bar aramaic and ben Jewish?)
    Yeshua ben Joseph is pretty standard though I think. There’s no extant reference that I know of to the Jews questioning the existence of Jesus. There is a reference in Matthew to the Jewish anti-Christian polemic which claims the disciples stole the body.. surely it would have been easier for them to simply point out his non-existence if that were the case? It seems odd that the claim of his death and resurrection was proclaimed in Jerusalem soon after the alleged events, and yet no one would bother to point out that the guy never existed. Furthermore, there’s James, the guy’s brother, which makes it even more difficult to suggest he didn’t exist.

    @GrahamT – you seem to have merely repeated the argument I already replied to. If you haven’t understood my purpose in pointing to Edwin Judge by now, I’m not going to keep repeating what I’ve already written, especially as the comment was largely facetious sarcasm anyway. As you say, arguing about arguing.. no thanks. Cheers.

  23. GrahamT
    Posted October 15, 2011 at 04:35 | Permalink

    Andrew F,
    “AtBE is used to weight ‘data’ that relates to claims of events.”

    What is AtBe [criteria]? all things being equal? As Tenants by Entirety?

    “data” usually refers to multiple objective measurements often defined numerically or categorically. Do you mean information?

    I did realise there was a degree of sarcasm in your initial comment :^) I feel I have elaborated and expanded the points about argument from authority – it is tricky yet unwittingly commonly applied.

    Separately, you might find this interesting
    http://www.sciecom.org/ojs/index.php/scandia/article/viewFile/1078/863

    As far as James goes, there are some interesting points here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just#Relationship_to_Jesus

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just#Modern_interpretation

    and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#James_the_brother_of_Jesus.

    Regards.

  24. Peter
    Posted October 15, 2011 at 22:23 | Permalink

    AndrewF

    Most historians disagree with Prof Judge on resurrection. Are they fools like the Bible says? Or is nobody a fool regardless of their view on resurrection of Jesus? What about believer or non-believers of resurrection of Zalmoxis? Am I a fool?

    You keep on saying:

    [S]houldn’t the same criteria apply to history, regardless of whether the event was so-called ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’? Surely the explanation that best accounts for data is most likely what happened?

    Stop writing about or tell me already how you compare and weigh supernatural events vs natural events? I’m getting bored already. You can use all the data you want. Compare supernatural resurrection “event” to someone making it up and getting people to believe it “event”.

    Please listen to Price and get his option about Ehrman regarding being “hyper skeptical”. Calling someone “hyper skepticism” is kind of poisoning the well. Aren’t we all “hyper skeptical” of someone else’s religion?

    We do know early Jewish view of Jesus. They thought the whole Gospel story was a made up myth. Matthew does not have “Jewish anti-Christian polemic which claims the disciples stole the body”. It’s a Christian writing (=straw man) which Christians made up. Do you know any Jewish writings arguing “stolen body”? Even Paul did not know about this, nor did he visit God Jesus tomb or check with God Jesus’ family? And how would Jews had “simply point out his non-existence”? Do you think religious fanatics listen to reason? Do you think you could reason with David Koresh’s modern followers that he did not raise from the dead or that he is not a God now? You can’t “simply point” something to religious people. More you argue with them more they dig their heel in.

    It seems odd that the claim of his death and resurrection was proclaimed in Jerusalem soon after the alleged events, and yet no one would bother to point out that the guy never existed.

    Your presuppositions fail you. Nobody claimed Jesus was resurrected God in Jerusalem soon after the events, and we have no record of what Jews said “soon after the events” (what events??). Please read about James and perhaps Didache. What do you think would had happened to James the day he would openly say Jesus was resurrected and/or Jesus is God? Understand what your religion was before Paul. It was nothing like what you believe in now.

  25. Ken West
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 00:43 | Permalink

    Graham,

    I read with interest your article written by Alvar Ellegard. I notice he was a Professor of English. His bibliography refers to works by George A Wells who is a Professor of German.

    I don’t consider these men ‘fools’ and I’m sure they have a keen interest in history and particularly the question about the historicity of Jesus. Yet if I were to put their opinions in the balance with Judge’s I would trust Professor Judge’s as that is his lifelong area of study, not his post-retirement hobby.

  26. Posted October 18, 2011 at 00:48 | Permalink

    Enough with the appeals to authority. They only impress fools.

  27. Posted October 18, 2011 at 02:11 | Permalink

    @GrahamT

    What is AtBe [criteria]?
    Argument to Best Explanation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method#Argument_to_the_best_explanation (see also McCullagh in that link to answer you question of what I mean by ‘data’)

    Thanks for the Ellegard article, it was an interesting read. I find his hypothesis unconvincing, largely for many of the reasons the responders brought up, such as unwarranted late dating. I would also add that he seems to be coming from a faulty assumption about Paul and Co. seeing the resurrection as spiritual rather than physical. I find Judge’s arugment that gospel writers like Luke only wrote about what they had testimony for more persuasive. Williams shows that despite being written outside of Palestine, the gospels have an overwhelming familiarity with the 30′s in Palestine, so I find it more plausible that the gospel’s are linked to this than that they are invented two generations later.

    @Peter

    Please listen to Price and get his option about Ehrman regarding being “hyper skeptical”. Calling someone “hyper skepticism” is kind of poisoning the well. Aren’t we all “hyper skeptical” of someone else’s religion?

    I hold Price in about the same regard as you hold Dickson. I suppose that makes us even ;)
    The point is not about being skeptical of religion – the infidel guy (if I remember correctly) was question Paul’s account of meeting the disciples in Jerusalem. It was on a normal, plausible thing that Ehrman implied hyper-skepticism was a roadblock to doing history.

    We do know early Jewish view of Jesus. They thought the whole Gospel story was a made up myth.

    Source please!!

    Matthew does not have “Jewish anti-Christian polemic which claims the disciples stole the body”. It’s a Christian writing (=straw man) which Christians made up. Do you know any Jewish writings arguing “stolen body”?

    Ignoring the question begging (again) about Matthew just being made up, it does have a reference to Jewish polemic (chapter 28) that the disciples stole the body. It’s unlikely Matthew would make up a Jewish objection that wasn’t really circulating.

    And how would Jews had “simply point out his non-existence”? Do you think religious fanatics listen to reason?

    They’d point it out the same way they were trying to ‘point out’ that the disciples stole the body. They were trying to appeal to the Jews in Jerusalem. It’s pretty amusing that you say my call of ‘hyper-skepticism’ is poisoning the well yet proceed to wax lyrical about ‘religious’ people lacking any capacity to reason.

    Your presuppositions fail you. Nobody claimed Jesus was resurrected God in Jerusalem soon after the events

    Paul does.

    What do you think would had happened to James the day he would openly say Jesus was resurrected and/or Jesus is God?

    James was not a believer during Jesus ministry, but he became one at some point afterwards, and became a leader in the Jerusalem church – and yeah, he was martyred.
    By the reasoning you appear to be trying here, no one could have proclaimed Jesus as resurrected or God, so then.. how did the movement even get off the ground if, as you imply, it’s unlikely anyone would have made such a claim?

    Understand what your religion was before Paul.

    You mean, Judaism?
    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Historical_Problem.htm
    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Early_Traditions.htm
    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Jesus_Resurrection.htm

  28. Peter
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 14:59 | Permalink

    I wonder if people who call George A Wells as a “Professor of German” and imply that Christianity is “his post-retirement hobby” are completely ignorant and lazy, or if they are purposely spreading misinformation about people who disagree with them. Either way Christians parroting this exemplify Christian apologist misinformation spreading.

  29. Posted October 18, 2011 at 15:20 | Permalink

    I first heard the poisoning of the G.A. Wells from John Lennox, who is well parroted among hobby apologists. The meme may be older than Lennox’s attempt though.

    If I’m right, and Lennox is the main populariser of the fallacy, then it’s a combination of laziness and misinformation: they can’t be arsed making up credible misinformation.

  30. Peter
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 15:49 | Permalink

    This poisoning of the G.A. Wells was also in John Dickson’s Simply Christianity Bible Study booklet. Already my Bible study group jumped on this claim about five years ago. I’m pretty sure John Dickson did not invent that either. Most of that booklet was copy-pasted from somewhere else. Dickson also repeats this claim in his Youtube videos…

  31. Ken West
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 16:07 | Permalink

    Dave and Peter,

    I was referring to Alvar Ellegard’s brief bio on Wikipedia.

  32. Posted October 18, 2011 at 16:26 | Permalink

    The point is, you are appealing to the authority of Professor Judge, and the supposed lack of authority of Wells and Ellegård.

    I’m not going to take Edwin Judge’s word for it, any more than I’m going to take your word for it. I wouldn’t even take Simon Peter’s word for it if I happened to be in first-century Rome. Why? Because when you’re trying to establish whether the laws of nature have been suspended by some kind of divine being, taking people’s word for it is stupid.

    All I’m interested in is evidence, and instead I get fairy tales, anecdotes and ‘trust me, I’m a historian’. Which is, of course, where we came in.

  33. GrahamT
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 07:53 | Permalink

    Ken West, Oct 18, at 00:43 & 16:01

    Key issues are what the arguments are, not the backgrounds of those arguing or the length of time they spent studying.

    The key issue, that you alluded to, is “the historicity of Jesus”. Not an author’s bio.

    What would you like to say to counter or support the various arguments??

  34. Ken West
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 18:57 | Permalink

    Graham,

    Sorry about my delay in responding to your post.

    Contra to Dave’s assertion, I’m not making an appeal to Prof Judge’s authority, rather I understand history is a discipline, and I feel we ought to respect that. I’m not claiming that amateurs can’t make contributions to the field, but I’d want to understand that contribution goes through the same rigorous review as that of the professionals.

    With regard to Ellegard’s argument, Andrew’s doing a great job of engaging with that. I don’t feel I have anything to add at the moment.

  35. Posted October 26, 2011 at 22:11 | Permalink

    History is indeed a discipline, but unless you can demonstrate that there is a consensus among historians that Jesus of Nazareth demonstrates dualism better than pareidolia on toast, then you are multiplying your appeal to authority by the fallacy of composition: just because Erwin Judge is a christian and a historian does not mean the discipline of history as a whole affirms that Jesus existed/cast demons into pigs/will burn me if I don’t telepathically submit to his tyranny/whatever.

    It is an appeal to authority. You are claiming that one historian believes he is in a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth, who in turn constitutes a better explanation for our worldly situation than the natural behaviour of matter, energy, space and time. When we ask why you would expect us to believe such a patently ridiculous notion, you respond ‘because Erwin Judge is a historian!’

    Why on earth you would think a historian would know more about neuroscience than the consensus of neuroscientists, or why he would know more about cosmology than the consensus of cosmologists (I could go on) is one thing. But to ignore us when we ask ‘why?’ reveals your hand.

    It simply won’t wash. You have to demonstrate Jesus’s worldly existence, the occurence not only of any miracle ever but a number of specific miracles attested in a handful humdrum middle-eastern legends no more remarkable than any other legend, show neuroscience, cosmology and a dozen other entire branches of science to be barking up the wrong trees…

    I make, of course, no claim to be a professional historian. My entire contribution to the field is the singular question to the apologist: ‘how on Earth can you possibly know that?’

    If I were to ask Richard Dawkins, or Jerry Coyne, or P.Z. Myers, or Lawrence Krauss, or Neil deGrasse Tyson why they hold the beliefs they do about the world, then I would expect a better answer than ‘because I’m a scientist, have some fucking respect!’ And I would get it. They would explain it to me, in terms I could understand. They would point me to primary evidence and the results of peer review and replication. I don’t need to tell you what happened when they tried the same thing with prayer.

    Neither you, Ken, nor John Dickson, nor William Lane Craig nor Erwin Judge has given us the slightest reason to think christianity offers any more knowledge of reality than any other batshit superstition.

    In truth, I feel insulted by these pathetic smoke-and-mirror tricks. Are there any apologists who aren’t earnestly taking all the piss they can?

  36. GrahamT
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 09:58 | Permalink

    Ken West, Oct 26, at 18:57

    Hi. I hadn’t been back for a while either, and even then missed Andrew F’s post which I will comment on below.

    I agree history is a discipline with certain methodology, such as that outlined in the wider Wikipedia article beyond the link AndrewF provided – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method The ‘core principles’ section, for example.

    Ellegard puts forward a couple of arguments:
    1. “… theologians are not living up to their responsibility as scholars when they refuse to discuss the possibility that even the existence of the Jesus of the Gospels can be legitimately called into question. Instead, they tend to dismiss as cranks those who doubt that the Jesus of the Gospels ever existed.
    “It is natural that different historians come to different conclusions on questions for which our sources are late, scanty or biased. Thus most historians, though skeptical about king Arthur, avoid being dogmatic about him, whatever the stand they are taking. But dogmatism is characteristic of the theologians’ view of matters which are held to guarantee the historicity of Jesus.”

    2. The biblical stories about Jesus were elaborations and anthropomorphisms of mythical mystical stories. Others hold this view -
    McDonald, Lee M. ’The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon’. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995. pp.116.
    Patzia, Arthur. ’The Making of the New Testament.’ Downers Grove: IVP, 1995. pp.104.
    Paula Fredriksen, in ‘From Jesus to Christ’
    Daniel Boyarin, in ’A Radical Jew’

    These could be sources that AndrewF requests.

    Most of what Judge and Williams say in those clips is bare assertion.

    We know nothing about Paul as a source: whether he was a historical person or not.

    As far as James – there is still the issue of whether James was Jesus brother and, if he was, why “James was not a believer during Jesus ministry, but he became one at some point afterward …”

  37. Posted October 28, 2011 at 21:24 | Permalink

    @GrahamT

    These could be sources that AndrewF requests.

    Nope. You said:

    We do know early Jewish view of Jesus. They thought the whole Gospel story was a made up myth.

    I asked for the sources (i.e. the texts from the 1st and 2nd centuries that detail this Jewish view of non-existence).

    Most of what Judge and Williams say in those clips is bare assertion.

    I disagree with that assertion.

    We know nothing about Paul as a source: whether he was a historical person or not.

    Not true (goal-shifting again). As Ehrman points out, no one disputes Pauline authorship of Galatians (and 1 Corinthians, but I’m pretty sure he and Infidel Guy were talking about Galatians). Pretty odd that the consensus would be Pauline authorship if the consensus wasn’t also that Paul existed.

    As far as James – there is still the issue of whether James was Jesus brother and, if he was, why “James was not a believer during Jesus ministry, but he became one at some point afterward …”

    Yes, it’s a very good question isn’t it! What would convince you that your executed brother was actually the risen messiah?

  38. GrahamT
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 10:22 | Permalink

    “We do know early Jewish view of Jesus. They thought the whole Gospel story was a made up myth.”
    was Posted by Peter – October 15, 2011 at 22:23

    Asking for 1st & 2nd century texts is goal-shifting, too. Because there are none. For anything to do with Christianity. The oldest gospel texts are 4th Century. The oldest texts that allude to Suetonius are 9th century! The oldest texts that allude to Josephus & Tacitus are 11th century!. There are fragments of texts attributed to Paul dated late 2nd C.

    As far as Paul goes, it is true “we know nothing about him” – yes, some texts might be attributed to one author, but it is true we know nothing about the authorship of those texts.

    As far as a risen messiah goes, why is there no details of what happened or what alleged characters such as James said or thought after the alleged rising?

    It would be interesting to here your comments on the various views about the various relationships James may have had to Jesus, outlined in the links provided previously. The Catholics believe Mary did not have any other children.

  39. GrahamT
    Posted October 29, 2011 at 10:26 | Permalink

    doh ” .. *hear* your comments”

  40. Posted October 29, 2011 at 19:16 | Permalink

    Asking for 1st & 2nd century texts is goal-shifting, too. Because there are none. For anything to do with Christianity. The oldest gospel texts are 4th Century. The oldest texts that allude to Suetonius are 9th century! The oldest texts that allude to Josephus & Tacitus are 11th century!. There are fragments of texts attributed to Paul dated late 2nd C.

    I didn’t specify autographs.. copies and later references will do. I simply want the claim backed up. Who are the writers you are referring to when you say that you know that the Jews thought Jesus was a myth? (based on your objection, I take it you also thus reject the common objection that nothing was written about Jesus during his lifetime?)

    Interesting you mention Josephus and Seutonius, as I don’t think that helps your case that the Jews thought Jesus was a myth.

    As far as Paul goes, it is true “we know nothing about him” – yes, some texts might be attributed to one author, but it is true we know nothing about the authorship of those texts.

    That’s simply not true. As Ehrman has noted, there is no debate that Paul wrote Galataions, and in that letter Paul tells us a lot of interesting things about his background.
    It’s funny, because one of the common objections to an historical Jesus is that he never wrote anything in his own hand.. Paul does and you still dismiss it! To say we know ‘nothing’ is demonstrably false.

    As far as a risen messiah goes, why is there no details of what happened or what alleged characters such as James said or thought after the alleged rising?

    Presumably for the same reasons that there’s no details of what Jude thought or a whole stack of other people – no one thought it necessary to write down (remember, it was an oral culture). James’ epistles doesn’t deal with it, because it’s pastoral, and written to people who already believe in the resurrection.
    If you’re asking why there’s no details about how the resurrection took place (?) then I would say, like Judge, that it’s because the gospel writers are only writing what they can verify from witnesses, and no one was there at the moment of resurrection. Contrast this with later gnostic writings like the Gospel of Peter which describe Jesus coming out of the tomb followed by the cross!

    It would be interesting to here your comments on the various views about the various relationships James may have had to Jesus, outlined in the links provided previously. The Catholics believe Mary did not have any other children.

    The Catholic position is doctrinal (the same reason Muslims argue against the crucifixion btw), and I think the biblical record refutes the perpetual virginity doctrine.
    The links seemed to me to lean towards the view that James the Just = James the brother of Jesus. Even if the linguists are right, and it could mean cousin, well, so what?
    It’s really reaching for straws (and very telling) when to deny the historicity of Jesus one has to also deny James and Paul.

  41. GrahamT
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 14:22 | Permalink

    AndrewF,
    It was Not me that made that claim (it was Peter as I pointed out); I have just weighed into it in that most recent post.

    It is true that “As far as Paul goes, it is true “we know nothing about him” & “we know nothing about the author of those texts [attributed to Paul]“.

    I was not denying James or Paul, just reflecting there is no clear information on who they were, or what there relationship to other characters was.

  42. Ken West
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 22:39 | Permalink

    Dave,

    In response to your remarks at post 35 …

    … unless you can demonstrate that there is a consensus among historians that Jesus of Nazareth demonstrates dualism better than pareidolia on toast …

    With all due respect, that sentence is a dog’s breakfast. You’ve mixed history, science and philosophy and served it up on toast.

    I didn’t claim there is a consensus among historians that Jesus rose from the dead. Historians such as Judge and Ehrman can agree it’s an historical question, and that the New Testament contains historical data, but arrive at different conclusions. And historians don’t, as a normal part of their discipline, comment on neuroscience.

    As you mention neuroscience and dualism, I assume your underlying claim is that there is no immortal, immaterial soul.

    Putting aside the question of whether neuroscience can actually demonstrate that, it’s worth observing that the idea of an immortal, immaterial soul is one that comes from Greek philosophy and not Christianity. For instance, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_in_the_Bible which says …

    Genesis 2:7 gives the formula for creating a soul. According to this verse God did not make a body and put a soul into it like a letter into an envelope of dust. Rather he formed man’s body from the dust; then, by breathing His breath into it, he made the body of dust live, i.e. the dust did not embody a soul, but it became a soul — a whole creature.

    The Christian view of ‘body’ and ‘soul’ is that we are whole creatures who will all be physically raised in the coming resurrection. So neuroscience will be possible into eternity.

    Indeed, if neuroscientists had been on hand before and after Jesus’ resurrection, they would have measured that Jesus was alive, then dead, then alive again, as the eyewitness accounts claimed. What exactly is the conflict between the accounts and science at that point?

    I’m sure your answer would be that “dead people can’t rise” and from that you infer the accounts are fiction. But that’s not an appeal to science: that’s an appeal to your naturalistic worldview. The most science can say is that “dead people don’t rise” and I have to agree, as that’s what I see in the world around me. But to say the dead can’t rise relies on an assumption that there is no God who is able to raise the dead. As far as I’m aware, neuroscience is silent on the question of God’s existence.

    You complain about “pathetic smoke-and-mirror tricks” and yet try to pull off one yourself. You appeal to the authority of famous scientists who happen to share your naturalistic commitments. You talk of the evidence they can supply, yet you know this evidence relates to the workings of the universe, and not to the question of whether God exists or has the power to raise the dead. Sadly, Dave, you’ve become an apologist.

  43. Posted October 30, 2011 at 23:29 | Permalink

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAKenWest

  44. Posted October 30, 2011 at 23:51 | Permalink

    @GrahamT you’re right, that was Peter, my apologies.

    It is true that “As far as Paul goes, it is true “we know nothing about him” & “we know nothing about the author of those texts [attributed to Paul]“.

    Simply repeating your assertion does not make it true. I’ve already pointed to the source, written by Paul which tells us at least something about him.

    @KenWest +1

  45. GrahamT
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 12:35 | Permalink

    Yes, repetition does not make the assertion “we know nothing about Paul” [beyond the writings attributed to him] any more true.

    Perhaps someone might like to comment about the writings attributed to Paul that are disputed as being not written by him?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Sources

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles Which includes this –

    “The earliest extant canon containing Paul’s letters is from the 2nd century:

    “It is a canon compiled by Marcion, the founder of Marcionism. Marcion did not include any of the modern Gospels, only his Gospel of Marcion, which according to his enemies he had edited from the Gospel of Luke, whereas he claimed that it was their version which was edited from his original gospel.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles#History_of_the_Pauline_canon

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