Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My criticisms of Craig's Moral and Resurrection arguments

This is what I used against Craig's moral and resurrection arguments for the existence of God in last night's debate. His only other argument was the cosmological, which I ignored as irrelevant to Craig's showing that his good god exists as opposed to say, an evil God (for which a "cumulative case" based on the cosmological argument could also be based, and which we all nevertheless know can be justifiably rejected on the basis of observational evidence) Craig pretended that this was an amazing concession that it was a good argument and that my view was deism was true!

THE MORAL ARGUMENT

Let’s start with Craig's moral argument. It runs:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
Objective moral values do exist.
Therefore, God exists.


The vast majority of philosophers reject this argument. Take, for example, the Christian philosopher Professor Richard Swinburne of Oxford University. Swinburne says, “I cannot see any force in an argument to the existence of God from the existence of morality.”

So Professor Craig is putting up against a mountain of evidence against what he believes an argument that even one of the world’s leading Christian philosophers finds utterly unconvincing.

If Professor Craig wants, nevertheless, to run his moral argument, the onus is clearly him to show that its premises are true. Both are highly questionable.

The first premise is, again, rejected by the vast majority of moral philosophers.

So what argument does Professor Craig offer for supposing it is, nevertheless, true?

He points out that an evolutionary explanation of why we believe rape is objectively morally wrong wouldn’t make rape objectively morally wrong.

Well, so what? We all knew that. That doesn’t show that that belief isn’t or cannot be true, given atheism.

Remember, the onus is on Professor Craig to show that no atheist-friendly account of the objective truth of moral claims can be given. The fact that evolution provides no such account very obviously doesn’t entail no such account can be given.

The onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts are wrong – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet. And don’t forget, as theists regularly do, that they needn’t even be naturalistic accounts.

So far, Craig has shown one atheist-friendly account is wrong. Well, as I say, we knew that already.

What of the second premise of Craig’s moral argument? Objective moral values exist.

This is undoubtedly a belief that just seems obviously true. But of course that doesn’t guarantee it is true.

Yes it seems like there are objective moral values. That isn’t a belief we should abandon easily. But it’s by no means irrefutable.

After all, we have a powerful impression that the Earth doesn’t move. It really, really doesn’t seem to move. But if we’re given powerful evidence that it does move, and it’s also explained why it nevertheless seems like it doesn’t, then the rational thing for us to believe is that our initial, highly convincing impression was wrong.

The moral is, even if Professor Craig could show his first premise is true, he can’t deal with the problem of evil by just digging in his heels and saying, “But look, it really, really seems to us as if there are objective moral values, so there must be a God.”

When placed next to the problem of evil, Craig’s argument does little to undermine the problem. Rather, it just combines with it to deliver the conclusion that there are no objective moral values.

That conclusion would be further reinforced by an evolutionary explanation of why it would still seem to us that there are objective moral values even if there aren’t.

Now I don’t doubt Professor Craig doesn’t want to believe there are no objective moral values. Hey, I don’t want to believe it. But this isn’t an exercise in wishful thinking.

So, even if its first premise were true, Craig’s moral argument still hardly offers much of a riposte to the evidential problem of evil.


RESURRECTION ARGUMENT

Let’s now turn to the resurrection argument.

It turns on claims made in the New Testament: that there was an empty tomb, that there were independent eyewitness reports of Jesus alive after the crucifixion, and so on.

The claim is that the best explanation of these alleged facts is that Jesus was resurrected by god. You should always be suspicious of arguments to the best explanation in such contexts.

Let me tell you a UFO story from 1967. There were reports of a strange object appearing nightly over a nuclear power site in Wake County. The police investigated. An police officer confirmed “It was about half the size of the moon, and it just hung there over the plant.” The next night the same thing happened. The Deputy Sheriff described a “large lighted object.” The County magistrate saw, and I quote, “a rectangular object, looked like it was on fire… We figured it about the size of a football field. It was huge and very bright.” There was, in addition, hard data: a curious radar blip reported by local air traffic control.

Now, what’s the best explanation for these reports? We have multiple attestation. We have trained eye-witnesses – police officers – putting their reputations on the line by reporting a UFO. We have hard, independent confirmation – that blip on the radar scope. Surely, then, it’s highly unlikely these witnesses were, say, all hallucinating, or lying, or merely looking at a planet. Clearly, by far the best explanation is that they really did see a large, lighted object hovering close to the plant, right?

Wrong. Here’s the thing. We know, pretty much for sure, that what was seen by those police officers was the planet Venus. Journalists arrived on the scene, were shown the object, and chased it in their car. They found they couldn’t approach it. Finally, they looked at it through a long lens and saw it was Venus. That radar blip was just a coincidence.

What does this show? Every year there are countless amazing reports of religious miracles, alien abductions, ghosts, and so on. In most cases, it’s easy to come up with plausible mundane explanations for them. But not all. Some remain deeply baffling.

So should we believe in such things, then?

No. For, as my UFO story illustrates, we know that some very hard-to-explain reports of miracles, flying saucers, and so on are likely to crop up anyway, whether or not there’s any truth to such claims. That 1967 case could easily have been such a baffling case.

So, let’s suppose that Biblical documents written a decade or more after the events they report, written exclusively by devotees of a new religious movement, not even by first hand witnesses, detailing events for which there’s pretty much no independent confirmation, constitutes really, really good evidence that there was an empty tomb and that the disciples did report seeing the risen Christ.

Is that, in turn, good evidence Jesus was resurrected?

Evidence supports a hypothesis to the extent that the evidence is expected given the hypothesis is true, and unexpected otherwise.

The absolutely crucial point to note is this: we have good reason to expect some baffling, very hard-to-explain-in-mundane-terms reports to crop up occasionally anyway, whether or not there are any miracles, gods or flying saucers. So the fact that an otherwise baffling, hard-to-explain case has shown up provides us with little if any evidence that a miracle happened.

92 comments:

David Span said...

An amazing issue about Craig's argument for objective values is the way that he argues on his website the genocide is OK if his god orders it but not if humans do so (so presumably would rape be).

He also apparently said on a radio program "God is not bound by the same moral duties we are", which supposedly gets around the issue of a god ordering genocide.

But where does the claim of objective values go? Maybe Craig is referring to other values.

Andrew said...

Hi Stephen, as regards to objective moral values, can't we just avoid the ontological question about the existence of ethical facts and properties, and use reason to find the truth or falsity of ethical judgements? For example, I don't steal clothes from retail stores because there are several reasons for me not to (apart from getting arrested). Anyone who would say otherwise would be irrational. So, stealing clothes from a store is objectively morally wrong.

Kaz Dragon said...

Andrew - if you are currently naked, and the law of the land is such that your child will be shot if you are found naked, is it still morally wrong to steal clothes?

A said...

Finally a clear, straightforward refutation of Craig's resurrection argument. Very simple and straightforward.

John W. Loftus said...

Glad to see you used the Swinburne quote! It's a good one. If the moral argument doesn't convince Swinburen then why should it convince anyone but a believer.

Edward Ockham said...

>>Craig pretended that this was an amazing concession that it was a good argument and that my view was deism was true!

As I understand it, you were making an ‘at most’ claim. I.e. Craig’s argument proves at most A, rather than A+B (see my point above). Everyone knows that such a conscession is in no way equivalent to conceding A. Are you seriously saying that Craig (who is an accomplished philosopher) used such a trick? I would be disappointed if he did, but will wait for the video, if there is one.

Jonathan Smith said...

Stephen,
It was very disappointing that you chose not to engage with the cosmological argument, thus leaving Craig the floor. He just drove all over you. And in your first rebuttal you made no attempt to engage with the resurrection argument either. Leaving it to the second rebuttal, after Craig had his two rebuttals, was cowardly, IMHO.

Stephen Law said...

Jonathan - see Edward's comment immediately before yours. Edward - check the recording.

Stephen Law said...

By the way, there's something really rather worrying about the aggresive "he drove all over you" style of comment these debates generate. I know atheists do it too. But where is the Christian ethos? Remember, you're supposed to be setting us atheists straight "respectfully" and "lovingly" as it said on the backdrop to the debate!

Edward Ockham said...

I will listen to the recording when it is available but meanwhile I recommend Bill Vallicella’s discussion of the futility of ‘debate’ where philosophy is concerned. - “Debate is a game in which the interlocutors attempt to defeat each other, typically before an audience whose approbation they strive to secure. Hence the query 'Who won the debate?' which implies that the transaction is about attacking and defending, winning and losing. I don't deny that debates can be worthwhile in politics and in other areas. And even in philosophy they may have some use. Someone who attends the Craig-Law debate will come away with some idea of what sorts of issues philosophers of religion discuss. What he won't come away with is any understanding of the essence of philosophy.”

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan Smith,

Steve did not have to respond to the KCA. Big bang theory at the most shows our observable universe had a beginning. May be an alien scientist created our universe.

Jonathan Smith said...

--By the way, there's something really rather worrying about the aggresive "he drove all over you" style of comment these debates generate. I know atheists do it too. --

You can say that again. Have you seen the foul-mouthed bile and vitriol reserved for Christians on Richarddawkins.net?

But come on really, was my comment unloving or disrespectful? It was direct, yes, but there is plenty of Biblical examples of direct speaking in order to make a point clearly. The early disciples 'vigorously refuted' those who disagreed with them. Most importantly, was my comment untrue? That clearly is subjective but I think it was perfectly within the bounds of decent discourse in characterising how WLC owned that part of the debate because you chose not to engage. My language was only 'aggressive' in the sense that a demolition is aggressive. It is nothing personal to you - I admire and appreciate the fact that you came to the debate after it seemed no-one would step up.

On the point, though, you are implying you made an 'at most' argument about Kalam - based upon another's comment that "everyone knows that such a concession is in no way equivalent to conceding [Kalam]." But surely you must see that in debate terms, as you offered no counter-argument or refutation of his argument, you DID concede the point. This does not mean you conceded it in terms of your own personal convictions. This, as you should remember, WLC was careful to clarify.

Jonathan Smith said...

JOJO,

//Big bang theory at the most shows our observable universe had a beginning.//

"At most"? It's a fundamental point.

//May be an alien scientist created our universe.//

So the beginning of the universe implies a cause - you appear to be 'conceding'. I heard some good arguments last night why that cause might have been an uncaused, timeless, immaterial, personal mind of immeasurable power. I heard nothing even remotely beginning to suggest why anything else might be the cause.

Paul Baird said...

@ SL

"By the way, there's something really rather worrying about the aggresive "he drove all over you" style of comment these debates generate."

Indeed.

I'll download and listen to the debate over the weekend but the initial noise from the forums and blogs is worth comparing to that following the Craig-Harris debate.

I'll be particularly interested to read Dr Glenn Peoples and Dr Matt Flannagan's analyses.

Some Guy said...

Hello Dr. Law,

I wanted to get your feedback if possible. One of your main sub-points in your evidential argument from evil was to produce a parody on any response Craig made to support belief in a good God by pointing out that such a response could also be used to support belief in an evil god. While this is true, and Craig also seemed to agree, I am not sure that this parody methodology did the work you might have wanted it to. This becomes clear once the relationship between defeaters and burden of proof is delineated. A proponent of the problem of evil is carrying the burden of proof to show that an all-good god can't exist; they are offering a rebutting defeater. In order for Craig, or anyone else for that matter, to rationally reject the problem of evil, he could offer either a rebutting, or an undercutting defeater to the problem of evil. In fact, Craig offered both a rebutting defeater (i.e. Moral Argument for a perfectly good God), and an undercutting defeater (i.e. Wykstra's skeptical theism). With respect to the latter, if Craig's undercutting defeater us successful, then it shows that your argument is not a postiive argument against the existence of God. To protest that his undercutting defeaater doesn't rule out the existence of an evil God is to confuse an undercutting defeater with a rebutting defeater. But, Craig did offer positive reason, and therefore a rebutting defeater to the hypothesis that an evil God exists. Therefore, he undercut your evidential argument from evil, and offered a rebutting defeater to the hypothesis that an evil God exists (i.e. the moral argument). Do you see the problem now?

Mario said...

Stephen, it was, as always, great to see you debate. But I have to say, I was disappointed; and I certainly wasn't the only disappointed atheist in the crowed.

Your 'evil god' argument was valid and strong; however, in my opinion, it didn't deserve more than a few minutes. You made your point, and you could have moved on.
Lots of people (including I and other people on your side) were frustrated that you stuck to one single argument throughout a whole two-hour debate, making it seem like you (and the people you represented) are only atheists because 'no one can prove god is not evil'.

Even more frustrating was when you finally decided to address the cosmological argument, about 90 minutes in, and your response was along the lines of: "If you asked me what's wrong with the argument, I couldn't tell you, but I just know it's wrong."

Again, I do believe that your 'at most' argument was valid, but it just wasn't enough. Especially for the fence-sitters and the 'newbies' in the crowed who may not think like philosophers like you and philosophy-enthusiasts like me, and would go away thinking that Craig was the 'winner' as he had so many undebunked points. (especially all the strawmans in his opening which could have been addressed and debunked easily).

I am a big fan of yours and I know that you were fully capable of doing a lot better, which is why I'm disappointed.

Sorry for the long comment; I had to get it out.

Some Guy said...

During the debate you had characterized Craig’s use of Skeptical theism as an appeal to mystery. Moreover, you said that is seems so obvious that the kinds, amounts, and duration of evil in the world proves beyond a reasonable doubt that a good God exists. However, I think you are confusing two kinds of inductive claims with one another that are distinguished by William Rowe:
A. One is entitled to infer Q from P only if she has a good reason to think that if some good had J it would be a good that she knows of (This is the claim you are using).
B. One is entitled to infer Q from P only if she has no reason to think that if some good had J it would likely not be a good that she knows of (This is the claim Craig is making).
*(Q) No good state of affairs is such that an omnipotent, omniscient being's obtaining it would morally justify that being's permitting E1 or E2.
*(J) Rowe uses the letter ‘J’ “to stand for the property a good has just in case obtaining that good would justify an omnipotent, omniscient being in permitting E1 or E2” (1991, 73
*(P) (P) No good state of affairs that we know of is such that an omnipotent, omniscient being's obtaining it would morally justify that being's permitting E1 or E2.

Since Craig offered at least two reasons in support of B above, it isn’t adequate for you to appeal to a straw man argument and say that Craig is appealing to mystery. No, Craig is making a perfectly legitimate point that induction isn’t informative when condition B above is met. Craig offered two arguments to think that B is applicable to evil in the world instead of A, and as you know, Alston lists six conditions to argue that B is the proper inductive stance to have with respect to the evil in the world. This constitutes an undercutting defeater to the evidential problem of evil, and it doesn’t matter if an evil god proponent could make the same point because that would confuse the role of defeaters with respect to your burden of proof in offering the argument from evil.

Birdieupon said...

John Loftus:

"Glad to see you used the Swinburne quote! It's a good one. If the moral argument doesn't convince Swinburen then why should it convince anyone but a believer."

You can't be serious? You do realise this is pure argument from authority fallacy?

I may as well tell Dawkins he's wrong about the Iraq War because Hitchens thinks it was right!

Tim said...

Craig's resurrection argument also assumes that the Bible is a good representation of history. Craig assumes that the Bible is a good representation of history, even though any Biblical scholar will tell you about the tumultuous history of how we got the Bible: the forgeries, the politics around different theologies, the all-too-human process of choosing what counts as Scripture, etc.

His arguments are based on assumptions that he does not justify.

Paxalot said...

On two occasions WLC said no Atheist could point to an alternate world where humans could come to know God without the necessity of abundant evil. Well the Bible answers that one: the Garden of Eden. Before "the fall" (which God, not humans created) there was no pain, death or suffering and God communicated with mankind directly and frequently.

Of course there was no plan for salvation in Eden because there was no need for it. It was only after God lost his temper and created The Fall (for the crime of self-improvement) that salvation was necessary.

I was sorry to see you give the Jesus Resurrection story credibility given the huge number of people risen from the dead in the Bible and other ancient texts. Given the timeline of Bible text creation, the obvious forgeries and the rejection of some 20 plus other gospels, the Resurrection argument is not fit for inclusion into serious discussions.

Overall, I loved the Evil God argument and your focus on it. Good job.

Michael Young said...

Some Guy,

The general structure of arguments from evil is always a fascinating topic. As I interpret it, there are actually two upshots to Stephen's Evil God argument. First, Stephen attempts to spin a story which suggests in a live way that the amount of evil and good in the world is as well explained on the hypothesis of an evil god as on the hypothesis of a good god. If this suggestion even seems plausible, then that gives us a (really good) reason not to prefer the good god to the evil god hypothesis as far as evil/goodness in the world is concerned. And if this is our position, then since we reject the evil god hypothesis, we ought also reject the good god hypothesis.

Second, one might also take the point of the "parodies" to be to show the weakness of traditional theodicies as reasons for discounting the (anti-god) evidential weight of observed evil. Of course, if you reject on other grounds that observed evil has any such supposed evidential weight, this part of Stephen's argument will not be persuasive to you. But it does seem extravagant to me, at least, to deny that observed evil even presumptively counts against the existence of an all-good, all-powerful being.

Of course, Stephen is free to disagree with this interpretation of his argument.

Mike Gage said...

Some Guy,

In what way does the moral argument conclude that a perfectly good god exists? That would not seem to follow from Craig's presentation of it.

There are also a number of criticisms of skeptical theism, but I'm not familiar enough with them to comment. I think John D. of the blog Philosophical Disquisitions did a series on that subject though, for anyone interested.

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan Smith,

"I heard some good arguments last night why that cause might have been an uncaused, timeless, immaterial, personal mind of immeasurable power"

What are those good arguments? I heard only assertions? List your so-called "good" arguments?

Has science proved that the universe came from "nothing." This shows Craig's intellectual dishonesty.

start at 02:35

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVOCxP8aWIY&feature=related

JOJO JACOB said...

onathan Smith,

"I heard some good arguments last night why that cause might have been an uncaused, timeless, immaterial, personal mind of immeasurable power"

What are those good arguments? I heard only assertions? List your so-called "good" arguments?

Has science proved that the universe came from "nothing." This shows Craig's intellectual dishonesty.

start at 02:35

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVOCxP8aWIY&feature=related

Anonymous said...

1st impressions an excellent contest.

You presented well though you seemed to be stumbling a bit in your 1st rebuttal but otherwise seemed on top of things.

You probably did roll Craig on the moral and resurrection arguments. I have to say that Arif Ahmed did a far more punchy and effective job on the moral argument than you did.

Some will argue you were not entirely fair on Craig in not presenting your rebuttals in proper order. I suspected on listening to the debate you simply forgot, in any event you did present your rebuttals in due course and they hit the target.

Many will not accept your reasons for not taking on the cosmological argument and score that against you. I felt that if you are going to dismiss an opponents argument on the basis of it being irrelevant as I understood you to be doing you really needed to do some more work to support your stance.

Whether your evil god argument works is something that is/will be hashed over for some time before any firm conclusion can be drawn. It at least didn't appear to be blown apart by Craig on its 1st big outing and therefore might actually be effective in generating a bit of mental conflict in the Christians in the audience who would as you did dismiss it as absurd. If the argument is found to hold logical water then it needs to be honed and simplified to avoid any difficulties of absorption.

Overall you probably took out Craig's god but left a deistic god in place. Call it a loss for Craig since his god was rolled on the night.

Jonathan Smith said...

Jojo

Here you go:

http://t.co/JAVNon97

If you missed the arguments they are presented very clearly in this follow-up lecture.

Regards
Jonathan

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan,

I have been hearing Craig's crap for years. You tell me the arguments so that we can have a discussion. I could easily demolish the non-sense Craig utters by doing a simple thought experiment.

Suppose you have a time-machine which could travel back in time. You travel 13.7 million years back. Just are just .0000000000000000000000000000000....1 second away from big bang. Are you saying that your vehicle would stop because it cannot move further because there is no time and space? This is non-sense. Big bang theory does not say that the universe came from nothing. It simply says the "expansion" had a beginning. Instead of watching Craig's non-sense, you should read, Sean Carrol, Brian Green etc.

Some Guy said...

Mike Gage and Michael Young,

1) I agree that evil counts against the existence of God, but not because of the evidential problem of evil that Law presented, because I do consider skeptical theism to be a successful undercutting defeater. However, in light of evil and skeptical theism, many atheists have said that if God does have mroally sufficient reasons that are beyond our ken in some sense, then like a loving parent, God should do something to comfort us and let us know more generally that He has good reasons for the evil in the world. This argument is called the argument for divine silence. So, it is basically a mutation of the problem of evil.

2) Here is what Craig says on his website about the moral argument: "The moral argument complements the cosmological and design arguments by telling us about the moral nature of the Creator of the universe. It gives us a personal, necessarily existent being who is perfectly good and whose nature is the standard of goodness and whose commands constitute our moral duties. This argument rules out any suggestion that the metaphysical ultimate is some evil being akin to Satan. As a privation of goodness, evil is parasitic upon the Good and so cannot exist as the highest being."

He certainly didn't say this in the debate, and so, based on what he said in the debate, I agree that the moral argument doesn't get you to a morally perfect being, although Craig has argued that it does in his written work...

As far as skeptical theism receiving criticism, well, that is true, but there have also been responses to these criticisms by advocates of skeptical theism. If you would like to discuss an objection to skeptical theism you think is successful, then I hope you share it.

Jonathan Smith said...

JOJO,

// I have been hearing Craig's crap for years. You tell me the arguments //

No, if you have been hearing them for years, go away and have a think about them. Why are you so vehemently opposed to the existence of God? Examine yourself as to the answer. It will not be scientific, it will be a fundamentally basic belief that you have based upon some other motivation.

//I could easily demolish the non-sense Craig utters by doing a simple thought experiment.//

If you know the answer to what happened during the first infinitesimally small split seconds after the big bang then you must have a truly wonderful knowledge. And you worked it all out just by thinking about it to?

//Are you saying that your vehicle would stop because it cannot move further because there is no time and space?//

Yes.

Tim Wilson said...

I found it disappointing.

I thought the debate was about whether there was a God.

Stephen did not argue that there was not a god. This was conceded for the sake of argument.

I wanted to hear a good rebuttal to WLC cause argument. Maybe later in the tour.

I was impressed by Stephen's humility and respect. A breath of fresh air compared to others like Richard Dawkins.

Devin said...

Dear Dr. Law,

I very much enjoyed the debate, though in all honesty I'm curious as to why you believe your "refutations" of Dr. Craig's moral and resurrection arguments were particularly devastating.

Well, let me back up real quick to "the evil God" challenge. Dr. Craig readily agreed that he could not disprove evil-god with the evidential problem of good for the very same reason that one cannot disprove good-God with the evidential problem of evil. Simply put, we're not in a position to know whether or not things will happen for a greater good or a greater evil because of our cognitive and observational limitations.

So yes, thus far based on the presence of both good and evil in the world it's difficult to infer from only our empirical observations of good and evil whether God is good or evil. In recognizing this, he immediately deflated the evidential problem of evil.

So putting our evidence of good and evil aside, because we simply don't know, are there any other prevailing reasons to believe that God exists?

Well, as the KCA was dropped, one could infer that at least some kind of omnipotent, intelligent, and timeless Creator exists--whether or not such a Creator is the Christian God is yet to be discovered. So lets actually look at the moral and resurrection arguments.

On the Moral Argument
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Craig presented numerous evidence that if humans are merely the by-product of sociobiological evolution, then there's no reason to believe that the behavioral/moral conventions of homo-sapians are actually true as opposed to the behavioral/moral conventions of the animal kingdom. As Craig quoted from Michael Ruse, "Morality is just a biological adaptation", an aid to survival. It's not actually objectively true that love is good and rape is wrong. It's simply that we believe love is good and rape is wrong.

Now, your response to his was simply to appeal to authority saying not all Christian Philosophers are persuaded that the moral argument is sound. But you never explained why. Perhaps Swinburne agrees with the first premise and denies the second, I don't know because you never said so. Just saying, "x, who is a very smart Christian doesn't think you're right" doesn't mean that "y, who is a very smart Christian (namely Dr. Craig)", is wrong.

On the second premise, again you didn't give any reasons to believe morality is not objective. You simply said perhaps it's not. On the face of our moral experience, that's not exactly a "demolishing" argument on your part...

Indeed, the argument stands or falls on whether someone in their individual person believes in objective good and evil. If one believes in objective moral values, then God is the only grounding for such values and thus must Himself be perfectly good as the grounding of good.

Moving on then to the Resurrection Argument...

Devin said...

Your refutation of the Resurrection didn't address the three facts established by the consensus of New Testament historians at all.

Indeed, the vast majority of NT historians, both Christian and non-Christian believe it is historically true that:
1. Jesus tomb was found empty by women followers
2. The disciples had post-mortem appearances of Jesus after his death
3. The disciples came to sincerely believe that Jesus was risen from the dead.

Though you said that these facts are based on accounts written after the fact by non-eyewitnesses, that doesn't answer in any way that the NT historians are all wrong. Especially considering they're very aware of the history behind the documents and still believe those facts are true. So if those facts are true, what naturalistic account is there to explain those facts?

You told a story about a supposed UFO sighting, but it's not analogous at all since there IS a good non-ET explanation for the light in the sky. Whereas in the case of the resurrection, there simply isn't any non-supernatural explanation that accounts for those three facts. Thus, again, it doesn't seem that the resurrection argument is demolished.

Hence in conclusion, the evidential problem of good and evil cancel each other out, thus the evidential problem of evil doesn't stand as evidence against God, but simply leaves us agnostic.

Then, the KCA at least tells us there's a personal Creator of the universe--whether that Creator is good or evil is yet to be shown.

So looking at the Moral Argument, there was a lucid and persuasive account that premise 1 is true, namely that if humans are nothing but the by-products of socio-biological evolution, then there's no reason to think the moral theory developed by such creatures has an apprehension of objective truth.

You provided no refutation of this so far as I could see...

So then if someone DOES believe that there are objective moral values, then good MUST be grounded in God which tells us that the good-God must be the God that exists rather than evil-god. Moreover, if you deny the second premise, then there can't even be an evil-god since there's no such thing as evil. This means that, give the dropped KCA, the Creator at least isn't an evil god.

Finally then, is there reason to believe this good-God is the Christian God? Well, historians agree about those 3 facts Dr. Craig referred to, and they're very familiar with the criticisms you brought up (namely that the Gospels were written after the fact by Christians), meaning those criticisms apparently must not negate the 3 facts.

So, what's the best explanation? Craig at least gave the resurrection hypothesis and defended it, whereas you gave no naturalistic explanation at all. So ultimately then the Resurrection argument stands.

Now, I know you probably (almost certainly) don't agree with everything I've said, but if you could please clarify where you believe I'm off, I would genuinely appreciate it. Thank you again Dr. Law and I hope you have a great time out of the country tomorrow. :)

All the best,
Devin

JOJO JACOB said...

"Whereas in the case of the resurrection, there simply isn't any non-supernatural explanation that accounts for those three facts.

There is not any "non-supernatural" explanation for the existence of Adam's bridge. Does that Lord Rama constructed the Bridge? Do you have any "non-supernatural" explanation for Allah dictating the "Koran" to Mohammad in an cave?

JOJO JACOB said...

JOJO,

No, if you have been hearing them for years, go away and have a think about them. Why are you so vehemently opposed to the existence of God? Examine yourself as to the answer. It will not be scientific, it will be a fundamentally basic belief that you have based upon some other motivation.

This does not deserve an answer.

If you know the answer to what happened during the first infinitesimally small split seconds after the big bang then you must have a truly wonderful knowledge. And you worked it all out just by thinking about it to?

I do not know. You now that your invisible mad did that!!

//Are you saying that your vehicle would stop because it cannot move further because there is no time and space?//

Yes.

How do you know sir? Which big bang theory says that?

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan,

A nobel prize winner does not the answer. But you know that an invisible man did that. You have got to be kidding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMamn4VbmBQ&feature=related

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan,

A nobel prize winner does not know the answer. But you know that an invisible man did that. You have got to be kidding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMamn4VbmBQ&feature=related

JOJO JACOB said...

Jonathan,

Craig's something from nothing is debunked.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE

Craig keeps on chanting Vilenkin in his debates. See what Vilenkin has to say:

http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com/2010/05/william-lane-craigs-arguments-for-god.html

Devin said...

Dear JoJo,

I'm not familiar with the story of Lord Rama and the bridge. What would be important in that case is the evidence for the existence of such a bridge and the possible circumstances surrounding its construction.

In regard to Allah and the Qur'an, I think its eminently possibly that Mohammed had a fruitful imagination. He dictated the Qur'an (roughly the length of the New Testament) over a period of 20 years, and much of the information in the Qur'an is directly related to the events of Mohammed's life.

Thus it is not only possible, but in fact quite plausible that no supernatural forces were in operation regarding Mohammed's dictation of the Qur'an.

However there are not equally plausible naturalistic hypotheses for explaining the three facts that give evidence of Christs' resurrection.

Warmly,
Devin

Anonymous said...

Stephen
You raised the problem of animal suffering which I think Peter Singer also uses most effectively since these sentient creatures are subject to mountains of suffering with no hope of payback in gods ultimate plan or a place in heaven where their suffering will be rendered infinitesimal compared to their ultimate bliss.

Most if not all of the defences thrown up by theists are at least diminished by the problem of animal suffering.

I notice that part of Craigs response was as I understood it to say there are 3 levels of consciousness in so far a pain is concerned.
1 none, amoeba etc
2 experience pain ,cats dogs etc
3 experience pain and are aware that they are experiencing pain, higher primates and man.

In some way that I have yet to fully grasp Craig seems to think that the 'fact' that some animals experience pain and are not aware that they are experiencing pain is a defense to the problem of pointless suffering.

Did you consider the 'fact' that some animals experience pain and are not aware that they are experiencing pain diminishs the problem of pointless suffering?
If yes how so?

Thanks

JOJO JACOB said...

Dear JoJo,

I'm not familiar with the story of Lord Rama and the bridge. What would be important in that case is the evidence for the existence of such a bridge and the possible circumstances surrounding its construction.

In regard to Allah and the Qur'an, I think its eminently possibly that Mohammed had a fruitful imagination. He dictated the Qur'an (roughly the length of the New Testament) over a period of 20 years, and much of the information in the Qur'an is directly related to the events of Mohammed's life.

Thus it is not only possible, but in fact quite plausible that no supernatural forces were in operation regarding Mohammed's dictation of the Qur'an.

However there are not equally plausible naturalistic hypotheses for explaining the three facts that give evidence of Christs' resurrection.

Warmly,
Devin

Dear Devin,

Then you should be an "agnostic" about the "Super-natural" Lord Rama explanation. A very good case could be constructed to show that since there are no natural explanation, we are justified in believing the super-natural version.

http://www.rense.com/general30/nasa.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam%27s_Bridge

You mentioned that Mohammed had a fruitful imagination. It is quite plausible that the people who "fabricated" the resurrection story had "visions." May be some sort of "super-natural" hallucinations. You seem to imply that no "single" natural explanation can explain the resurrection story. May be a combination of natural explanations can. Is there a "single" for the outbreak of American Civil War? I am not convinced by the "best explanation" non-sense.

stuartm said...

Devin

There is a problem with your argument for the resurrection. You say that the resurrection is the best explanation for the empty tomb and the appearances. But the people telling us about the empty tomb and the appearances are the same people who are telling us that Jesus was resurrected. If you are certain that they are telling us the truth about the empty tomb and the appearances why not just say that they must also be telling us the truth about the resurrection. And if that's true then the claim that there was an empty tomb and appearances adds nothing to the argument.

The only thing that we know for sure is that people came to believe in the resurrection. If we can explain that, as I think we can, that's all that's necessary.

JOJO JACOB said...

stuartm,

You hit the nail squarely on the head. Bart Erhman raises the same argument..

Anonymous said...

Is Craig's moral argument now unusable

Dr Laws argument paraphrased seems to be.

Premise 1
"the onus is on Professor Craig to show that no atheist-friendly account of the objective truth of moral claims can be given. ...

The onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts are wrong – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet. And don’t forget, as theists regularly do, that they needn’t even be naturalistic accounts."

Premise 2

This is undoubtedly a belief that just seems obviously true. But of course that doesn’t guarantee it is true. ... even if Professor Craig could show his first premise is true, he can’t deal with the problem of evil by just digging in his heels and saying,“But look, it really, really seems to us as if there are objective moral values, so there must be a God.”
Arif Ahmed in his 1st debate with Craig devastated this premise by wittily pointing out that the 'fact' that deep down inside we know there are objective moral values is simply not an argument that there are.


These arguments seem to be a total succinct demolition of Craig's and others moral argument.

Will he have to abandon the argument in future?

Devin said...

Dear JoJo and stuartm, thank you for your questions. For simplicity's sake I'll answer them separately.

On Adam's Bridge,
JoJo, after looking at the wikipedia page it seems there are a wealth of viable naturalistic alternatives. Thus, I see no reason to claim the bridge has a supernatural explanation if we have perfectly reasonable natural explanations.

Now, are there any viable naturalistic explanations for the facts regarding the empty tomb, resurrection appearances, and origin of the disciples belief in the resurrection? (stuartm, your question seems to relate to why we should even believe the accounts of the empty tomb, appearances, and resurrection to be factual, which I'll address in my second post)

So what are our hypotheses for the empty tomb? Traditionally there have been about 4.

The first argument against the resurrection was that the disciples stole the body of Jesus. This is known as the CONSPIRACY hypothesis, which tries to explain the empty tomb. But there are serious problems with this hypothesis.

1) If the disciples stole the body, why make women the discoverers of the tomb? If the empty tomb account is merely legendary, then 1st century Jewish gospel writers would never have made women the first discoverers because women's testimony was considered worthless.
2) The story of the empty tomb is exceptionally simple. There's no scripture citations or evidence of fulfilled prophecy which would have been used to convince people it was true.
3) This hypothesis utterly fails to explain the disciples belief in Christ's resurrection and their willingness to die for that belief. No one gives up all they have, their family, possessions, and life, to die for something they know to be false.
4) This hypothesis isn't plausible. It's anachronistic (interpreting at an event in the past from a different context). No first century Jew, upon seeing their Messiah crucified, would steal his corpse and claim he was raised from the dead. That idea was so un-Jewish it's not plausible.
5) The conspiracy hypothesis is Ad Hoc, postulating that all the evidence of the empty tomb is merely apparent, and the truth is something else that we have no evidence for whatsoever.
6) It's disconfirmed by what we know of conspiracy theories in general, namely, being unstable and often unraveling.
7) It doesn't explain the other facts

For all of those reasons (women discovers, lack of embellishment, doesn't make sense given the disciples martyrdom, anachronistic, ad hoc, and disconfirmed) the vast majority of scholars have rejected the conspiracy hypothesis for explaining the empty tomb (let alone the other two facts)

Next is the APPARENT DEATH hypothesis. Here are the fatal problems:

1) It can't explain the empty tomb given Jesus' merely apparent death, because a man sealed inside a tomb not move the stone to escape.
2) It conflicts with the post-mortem appearances because the appearance of a half-dead man desperately in need of medical attention would hardly have elicited in the disciples the conclusion that he was the risen Lord and conqueror of death.
3) It conflicts with the origin of the disciples belief in his resurrection, since seeing again would lead them to conclude he hadn't died.
4) It's implausible. Roman executioners were experts at killing people. And since the exact moment of death was uncertain with crucifixion, the executioners would thrust a spear into the victims side, as was done with Jesus. The suggestion that a man so critically wounded then went on to appear to the disciples in Jerusalem and Galilee is pure fantasy.
5) The hypothesis is disconfirmed by what we know of medical facts concerning a person is scourged and crucified.

For all of these reasons, the apparent death hypothesis utterly fails.

Devin said...

Next is the WRONG TOMB hypothesis. Here are the problems:

1) It's anachronistic. Merely going to the wrong tomb and seeing a man there telling them that Jesus is not there would hardly lead a first-century Jew to conclude that Jesus was risen from the dead--especially if it were reported by women and couldn't be verified. Any later check of the tomb would have revealed the women's error.
2) The burial site was known. Since the burial site was known to Jew and Christian alike, the Jewish opponents of the Christians would have been only too happy to point out the women's error.
3) It is disconfirmed by the generally accepted belief that Jospeh of Arimathea buried Jesus and thus could point to his burial location.
4) It is disconfirmed by the first polemic against the empty tomb. The Jews didn't say, "you guys have the wrong tomb," here's Jesus' body! They acknowledged the tomb was empty and claimed the disciples must have stolen the body (which we've already seen fails after investigation)

The last one is the RESURRECTION hypothesis.

The resurrection hypothesis explains the empty tomb perfectly, explains the simplicity of the account, explains why the disciples were unafraid to write women as the first witnesses, and is not implausible, it only requires one more belief about the world: that God exists. If one allows that God exists (as Stephen Law did when he didn't address the KCA) then the hypothesis is absolutely possible and, given the evidence, probable.

So what about the Post-Mortem Appearances? What naturalistic hypotheses are there? Really there's only one, the HALLUCINATION hypothesis, so lets look at that.

1) The hypothesis says nothing about the empty tomb, thus it needs to be conjoined to another naturalistic hypothesis (none of which we've seen work).
2) Hallucinations of Christ would not lead to the disciples believing Christ was raised from the dead. As N.T. Wright showed, "for someone in the ancient world, visions of the deceased are not evidence that the person is alive, but evidence that he is dead!"
3) If the appearences were hallucinations/visions, it makes no sense why the disciples would say Christ was bodily raised from the dead. There was already a perfectly suitable category for such experiences: namely, that Jesus had been assumed into heaven. Thus, even given hallucinations, belief in Christ's resurrection remains unexplained.
4) The diversity of the apperances bursts the bounds of anything found in the psychological casebooks. Jesus appeared not just one time, but many times; not at just one locale and circumstance, but at a variety of places and circumstances; not to just one individual, but to different persons; not just to individuals, but to various groups; not just to believers, but to unbelievers and even enemies. Simply put, there is nothing like the resurrection appearances in the psychological casebooks.
5) It's not plausible. We have no way of knowing if the disciples would even be prone to hallucinations.

However, the resurrection hypothesis explains all of these events perfectly. So, unlike Adam's bridge, or Mohammed's recitation of the Qur'an, the facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus simply don't have any plausible naturalistic explanations, and once you consider the radical claims of Jesus Christ, that He was the Son of God and would be raised from the dead, and then we have three powerful lines of evidence that He was, that's more than enough at least to convince me that it's not only possible, but true.

I know that was a lot, but I hope it was helpful. What do you think?

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Now, Stuartm, thank you as well for your question. It seemed like you're asking, "Why should we believe the account of the empty tomb, appearances, and origin of the disciples faith, since we know all three are coming form believers?"

I hope you'll have seen from my previous post in examining rival hypotheses some of the reasons why the majority of historians consider these facts. Lets take a look.

First on the Empty Tomb:
1) The historical reliability of the story of Jesus' burial supports the empty tomb. If the location of Jesus' tomb was known, then it must have been empty. Otherwise opponents to the early Christian message could simply point to the occupied tomb and say, "these Christians are wrong, Christ wasn't resurrected, He's right here." We know the burial account is accurate because its multiply attested in extremely early, independent sources: It's in Mark's source material, the early Christian tradition quoted in 1 Cor. 15:3-5 that goes back to within the first five years of Christ's death, the sources behind Matthew, Luke, and John, as well as the extra-biblical Gospel of Peter. Also, it's unlikely Christians would have invented Joseph of Aramathea as the person who buried Jesus because members of the Jewish Sanhedrin were the ones who condemned Christ.
2) The discovery of Jesus' empty tomb is multiply attested in very early, independent sources. If 2 or more people independently report the same event, it's highly probable the event is true. In the case of the empty tomb, we have 6 independent reports. (1): The pre-markan passion source, (2), the early Christian tradition behind 1 Cor. 15:3-5, which is also the oldest book in the NT, (3) Matthew, who clearly is working with a separate source as he includes the story of the guard at the tomb, which is unique to his gospel, (4) Luke, who relates the story not found in Mark, of two disciples verifying the report of the women's discovery--which is not a Lukan creation as it's also found in John, (5) John, who is quite independent of the synoptic Gospels, and (6) Acts, there are numerous indirect references to the empty tomb.

So in the case of the empty tomb, there are no less than six independent sources that report it, some of which are among the earliest material found in the NT.

3) The Markan story is simple and lacks legendary development
4) The tomb was discovered by women. 1st century Jews would have never made this up. They were not viewed as credible witnesses, and were seen as 2nd-class citizens.
5) The earliest Jewish response, "that the disciples stole the body", presupposes the empty tomb.

This is why most scholars firmly hold to the reliability of the Biblical statements about the empty tomb.

Devin said...

So what's the evidence for the Fact concerning the Post-Mortem Appearances?

1) Paul's list of eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection appearances guarantees that such appearances occurred. Paul writes that Jesus appeared to Peter, then to then Twelve, and then to over 500 brethren, then the Lord's brother James, and last of all Paul himself, so lets briefly examine these claims to see if it's plausible they took place.

A. Appearance to Peter: Paul spent 2 weeks with Peter in Jerusalem 3 years after his Damascus Road experience. It's also attested in Luke 24:34.
B. Appearance to the Twelve: This is the best attested resurrection appearance of Jesus. It's found in the early formula that Paul cites, and we have independent accounts of it in both Luke and John.
C. Appearance to the 500: There can hardly be any purpose in mentioning the fact that most of the 500 are still alive (which he does), unless Paul is saying, in effect, 'the witnesses are there to be questioned'. He could have never challenged people to ask the witnesses if the event had never taken place.
D. Appearance to James: James didn't believe in Jesus as the Lord until after Jesus' crucifixion. Now how is this to be explained? What would it take for you to be convinced your brother you grew up with is the Lord? Yet we know James did come to believe that, so strongly in fact that he died for his faith in Chris sometime after A.D. 60 as Josephus records in his work, Antiquities of the Jews. cit: 20.200.
E. Appearance to Saul of Tarsus: This final appearance is just as amazing as that to James. Saul was intent upon persecuting the Christian church until suddenly the risen Lord appeared to him and he forsook everything for the sake of Christ.
2) The Gospel accounts provide multiple, independent attestation of post-mortem appearances of Jesus. The appearance to Peter is attested by Paul and Luke; the appearance to the Twelve is attested by Paul, Luke, and John; the appearance to the women disciples is attested in Matthew and John; and the Galilee appearances are attested in Mark, Matthew, and John.

For all of these reasons, even the skeptical NT historian Gert Ludemann writes, "It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ".

In regard to the disciples genuinely believing Christ was raised from the dead, I could go on, but I don't feel that one is ever in much dispute. The constant martyrdoms and independent attestations is pretty clear evidence.

So, given all of this, and in the absence of any viable naturalistic alternatives, I believe the most plausible explanation of the 3 Facts: The Empty Tomb, Post-Mortem Appearances, and Origin of the Disciples Faith, is best explained by the original hypothesis the disciples gave, that God raised Jesus from the dead.

(Note: All of this material was taken from Dr. Craig and others work. I just want to give credit where credit is due)

I hope this has been helpful, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you'd like to contact me directly, you should email me at devin.tarr@gmail.com

Have an excellent day!
Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Anonymous,

On the Moral Argument,
Craig does show how there is no foundation for moral values on atheism. Specifically, if homo sapians are just the products of blind socio-biological evolution, then there's no reason to think our social conventions of right and wrong are actually true.

For the second premise, the point is that given the first premise, if you really do believe that some things are right, such as love, justice, and equality, and other things are wrong, such as rape, murder, and torturing innocent children, then the only explanation of such values must be a transcendent ground, namely, God.

Sincerely and warmly,
Devin

Buzz Moonman said...

Devin said >"No one gives up all they have, their family, possessions, and life, to die for something they know to be false."


I think it would be more correct to describe it as something they believe to be false rather than something they know to be false.

You also have to consider that people do give up all they have, their family, possessions, and life, to die for something that others believe ( or if you prefer, know) to be false. Is this not so?


Devin said >"No first century Jew, upon seeing their Messiah crucified, would steal his corpse and claim he was raised from the dead. That idea was so un-Jewish it's not plausible."


It seems you are saying that no one in the ancient world would ever have behaved in an un Jewish way, what ever that is, no matter what the political and social agenda. You seem to be saying that no one with a political agenda would've acted in the political manner later named as Machiavellianism. I see no reason to think people of the ancient world were any less Machiavellian that people of more modern times and plenty of rason to think that they were just as Machiavellian. Tribal and religious politics was alive and well in the ancient world, was it not?

Just because some conspiracy theories are wacko does not mean that there is not ever any conspiring that goes on in the world of secular and religious politics. And there was a lot of secular and religious politics happening in that part of the world at that time, wasn't there.

BTW, are you prepared to accept a biography of Gaddafi, written by Gaddafi loyalists who were not only prepared to fight and die for him, they did fight and die for him, as an accurate account of Gaddafi's activities or would you think it was a political con job? How about the offical Ba'ath party biography of Saddam Hussein. Is it reliable?

If they were the only accounts available to you about Gaddafi and Hussein, would you accept them without question?

Anonymous said...

Devin as you said

"Dear Anonymous,

On the Moral Argument,
Craig does show how there is no foundation for moral values on atheism. Specifically, if homo sapians are just the products of blind socio-biological evolution, then there's no reason to think our social conventions of right and wrong are actually true."

Which as far as I can see is not the same as establishing that the proposition that the, "...onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts ... – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet." is wrong.

So I wait to hear what you have to say on this issue.

Once you have established the above is wrong we can move onto premise 2

Cheers.

Buzz Moonman said...

Devin said > "Craig does show how there is no foundation for moral values on atheism."


WLC did not show that there is not a natural objective basis for morality, as Stephen pointed out in the debate. WLC just asserts that his alleged alternative basis exists. The fact that we are still arguing as to whether his alternative exists, is an indication that it has not been established that it does. His mistake, and that of many others, including Secularists, is looking for that basis in some form of conscious being, either natural or supernatural, ie looking for a conscious authority to give commands. The problem with that is that conscious authoritive beings have a hard time being objective. It seems to me that the objective basis for morality is not a conscious being commanding via authority.

It seems to me that the natural basis for morality is measuring our actions against an objective political idea, namely that of mutual peace.

The objective foundation for morality is Peace, the mutual peace of uncoerced peaceful co-existence.

Morality comes from the idea of mutual peace, not from the idea of god.

Peace is not only the objective, it is objective. It is a political act between humans. It is not a divine gift. Peace exists regardless of the existence or not of any gods. It cannot be given as a gift, it has to be achieved by human co-operation.

When humans behave in ways that create or maintain the conditions for mutual peace, they are being moral. The conditions necessary for peace, (and I mean un-coerced peacefull co-existence, not Pax Romana or Pax Britanica which are not mutual peace and are merely an Orwellian idea of peace) are created using the golden rule, mutual aid and loving your neighbour, using the tools of empathy, compassion and emotion, measured against mutual peace.

Why would you prefer not to live in a world of peace on earth and goodwill to all.

David Span said...

I can't see how the Cosmological Argument is anything but question begging regarding the existence of a god: it's saying we need an explanation for X, god can explain X, therefore god explains X. But how is this different from replacing 'god' with 'fairies'?

An argument of this type can't be both evidence for a god as well as incorporating a god as the explanation. It would be circular. The god (or fairy) still hasn't be shown in anyway to be an explanation - it doesn't move beyond a concept.

And it can't be true just because we can't find an explanation. That would be an argument from ignorance.

We seem to still be waiting for evidence for a god while being offered fallacious arguments.

Devin said...

Gosh, thank you so much everyone for the continued dialog. :)

I truly do believe that conversations like this are relevant, and that through both reason and experience we indeed can come closer and closer to the truth.

Moving along then.

Dear Buzz,

It seems you're trying to salvage the Conspiracy hypothesis by contesting two of the problems. But lets honestly look at that.

The reason it's correct to say the disciples would not give up all they have, their family, possessions, and life, to die for something they know to be false," as opposed to "something they believe to be false" is because in the case of the disciples, they would have known whether Christ's body was raised or not. Think about it, if they stole the body, they would have KNOWN He wasn't raised from the dead. Their unwavering profession of His resurrection, even unto martyrdom, disconfirms that they stole His body.

Indeed, there is a fundamental difference between men and women today who give up their lives for something they believe in, and the disciples giving up their lives proclaiming Christ risen from the dead. The disciples were in a unique position of being eyewitnesses to the event. And indeed, in both Acts and 1 John the apostles and John proclaim Christ risen from the dead because that's what they saw. If the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus, they would have known He wasn't really raised, and it makes NO sense why they would die for something they knew was a lie.

Additionally, the conspiracy hypothesis is implausible specifically because of the historical context. The claim that a disciple would steal the corpse of their hoped for Messiah after His death makes absolutely no sense for 1st century Jews. Honestly. Remember, 1st century Jews expected the Messiah to be a political leader who would restore the Kingdom of David and and throw off the shackles of Roman rule.
In John 6:15 the Jewish followers of Jesus tried to make Him their political king. In Matthew 16 Peter rebuked Jesus for His saying that He would go to the cross and die at the hands of the chief priests. In Luke 24:21 the disciples on the road to Emmaus lamented how they had, "had hoped that he [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel." All of the expectation was for the Messiah to free the nation of Israel from their Roman oppressors.

Additionally, Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone's rising from the dead to glory before the final judgment at the end of the age. It simply would have made no sense for a 1st century Jew, upon seeing their hoped-for Messiah crucified, stealing their corpse and claiming God raised Him from the dead, and then being willing to die for such a ridiculous claim. The conspiracy hypothesis is deeply anachronistic. It's looking back at the event and judging it out of context.

I mean, what could their agenda have possibly been? I know! Now that our leader has been killed, let's steal his body, claim He was raised from the dead, get kicked out of the Jewish religious establishment, lose our family and country's respect, and also possibly lose our lives...for what?

(cont. below)

Devin said...

The best, and in my opinion only, explanation for the disciples unwavering proclamation of the Christ's resurrection was that they knew God raised Him from the dead. They found His tomb empty, they had multiple appearances of Him alive after His death, and they lost everything proclaiming the amazing fact that God had vindicated Jesus by raising Him from the dead, and that His death opened the door for Israel, and mankind, to be delivered from their sins, because Jesus paid the price and was raised.

It's not just that the conspiracy theory is wacko, it's that it has MAJOR problems when one considers the historical facts surrounding Jesus and the disciples.

In terms of accepting a biography of Gaddafi, I would want to look at the evidence for his followers claims about him. We can't discredit someone's claims simply because of their possible biases (for instance Jewish survivors of the Holocaust obviously have a vested interest in making sure the Holocaust is never forgotten, but that doesn't mean we reject their testimony, rather we look at the evidence). In the case of the resurrection, there is substantial historical evidence for the empty tomb, the appearances of Christ, and the origin of the disciples faith. Moreover, every naturalistic hypothesis falls apart when someone really investigates it. It's for these reasons that Christians are well justified in proclaiming that the historical evidence points towards God's raising Jesus from the dead.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Anonymous,

Continuing our discussion of the moral argument, the important point for Premise 1 is that if God does not exist, humans don't have intrinsic moral value.

I'm taking Ethics as a grad student currently and I can tell you, all of the secular ontologies of ethics pre-suppose that humans have intrinsic moral value. Aristotle simply asserts that the purpose of humanity is the "virtuous (excellent) activity of the soul". If indeed humans are just the by-products of evolution, or if the existential philosophers are correct that humans don't have a proscribed purpose, then Aristotle's foundation falls apart.

Plato believes that morality is found in the Good, and that the Good is an abstract object that just exists. However there's no evidence that such an abstract object exists, or that it would have any meaning apart from persons. Indeed, the Good itself, as an abstract object, can't even be good! What is the Good supposed to mean absent any persons? Every description of it rests upon characteristics of persons.

Hume believes morality truly is without foundation. He says something is either Good or Bad because humans have a hard-wired moral sense that feels a certain pleasure or pain when viewing certain events, but he readily admits this doesn't mean something really is Good or Bad.

Kant believes morality is derived from respect for the Moral Law, encapsulated by the Categorical Imperative, but again this Moral Law, like Plato's "the Good" has no true existence. It's completely contingent on persons.

Jeremy Bentham & J.S. Mill believe the Good is "the greatest good for the greatest number" of people, but their philosophy starts to unravel as soon as someone brings up various moral dilemmas.

In looking at all of these theories, encapsulating virtue ethics, skepticism, deontological ethics, and utilitarianism (which are the most prevalent ethical theories today), they ALL pre-suppose that humans have some morally intrinsic value. By Dr. Craig showing the emptiness of that assumption on Atheism, he in fact HAS shown every other atheistic account to be unsuccessful in establishing the objective reality of moral values.

Indeed, Dr. Law didn't even present one account of an atheistic foundation for morality. For Dr. Law to refute Premise 1, that if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist, he must offer some reason to believe that objective moral values exist without God.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Buzz,

On morality, why should peace encapsulate the ultimate Good? That's simply your opinion of what constitutes an actions moral worth. Additionally, it pre-supposes that humans have more worth than other things.

Additionally, I think there are quite a few societies throughout history, as well as modern civilizations, that would disagree that we have an obligation to pursue peace. Why not pursue justice? or love? or power? or self-preservation? As westerners, we believe that peace is a worthwhile value because we respect human persons and don't want to see them harmed (which we have our Christian heritage to thank for), but that has not always been the case. Indeed, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and Virgil would all say you missed it.

Do you see how difficult it is to find a truly objective ground for moral values? If it's just us as individuals or as groups, our conceptions of right and wrong, good or evil, are simply social conventions. They're not actually true.

Moreover, Dr. Craig does present a solid foundation for morality in God. God is the ultimate good. He is loving, just, merciful, kind, patient, etc. Those qualities are part of His essential nature. Thus love, justice, mercy, kindness, patience, equality, etc. find their justification and grounding in God. It's not simply human opinion that loving others is good, rather, God who is the Ultimate Reality is loving, and thus we should pursue love. It's the "should" that makes something morally good, and the "should not" that makes something morally bad.

Finally, we apprehend these real moral values in our personal experience, and our moral apprehensions are not mythical or based on opinion, but rather grasping what truly is Good and Bad.

I hope that these have clarified and addressed the soundness both of the historical evidence for the resurrection, as well as the moral argument.

Without God objective values do not exist. But objective values do exist. If you do believe that objective values exist, that some things really are good and other things really are evil, then the only explanation for the existence of such values is God.

Most warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear David,

Your caricature of the KCA is not too far from the truth, but even your caricature proves more than you think.

You write, "it's saying we need an explanation for X, god can explain X, therefore god explains X. But how is this different from replacing 'god' with 'fairies'?"

True, we need an explanation for X (the universe). So what can explain it? I'm open for your hypotheses. As far as I can tell, the universe must have a cause, and as the cause of space, time, matter, and energy, the cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, changeless, unimaginably powerful, and personal. (The personal attribute comes the causal power of something that's immaterial, as well as the causal power of a timeless cause having a temporal effect--demonstrating the cause must have the agency to will an effect)

Thus, I think the origin of the universe presents excellent evidence for a Creator. What else could it possibly be? We know it can't be a fairy because a fairy is a material being, that operates in time, and has limited power.

Warmly,
Devin

JOJO JACOB said...

Devin,

"Thus, I think the origin of the universe presents excellent evidence for a Creator. What else could it possibly be?

What are other options did you consider?

JOJO JACOB said...

Devin,

Come down to India. There are Hindu monasteries here. There are living Gods who claim that they are incarnations. They do perform "miracles" on a daily basis. Their disciples (thousands) of them "experience" them when they are away on a foreign tour. Just attend one of their "worship" meetings. You would see that thousands are under "mass" hallucination. Just visualize that one of such saints lived 3000 years ago and performed the same acts Jesus alleged to had been committed. How many stories would have been cropped up? Then a follower comes up and asks is there a single natural explanation of all those "inexplicable facts". Please read the miracles section of the URL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi

Anonymous said...

Devin as you said

"...In looking at all of these theories, encapsulating virtue ethics, skepticism, deontological ethics, and utilitarianism (which are the most prevalent ethical theories today), they ALL pre-suppose that humans have some morally intrinsic value. By Dr. Craig showing the emptiness of that assumption on Atheism, he in fact HAS shown every other atheistic account to be unsuccessful in establishing the objective reality of moral values....."

Thank you for your listing of all the 'atheist-friendly accounts' you are aware of now would you like to deal with, "... the ones we haven’t thought of yet"


As I said before your list is not the same as establishing that the proposition that the, "...onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts ... – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet." is wrong.

So I wait to see your logical refutation of this proposition not another list.

Once you have established the above is wrong we can move onto premise 2

Cheers.

Nightvid said...

Devin:

1. Your presentation of the moral argument is self-defeating. You claim, in the context of premise 1, that if naturalism is true, we have no reason to believe in objective moral worth or value. But then in the context of premise 2 you provide a reason to believe in such value. You cannot present a reason, claim it is compelling, and simultaneously also claim that no reason exists. Either there is a reason, or there isn't. And even if there is no reason, that is problematic for moral epistemology only, NOT ontology, and does absolutely NOTHING to show that on atheism objective moral values do not exist!

2. Your resurrection argument involves false pretenses. As pointed out by Richard Carrier, it isn't even true that all NT scholars accept your supposed "facts". But even if it were, NT historians are a peculiar group at any rate, they don't necessarily even have to use the same criteria as historians studying secular topics in order to get published. In addition, I would argue that you are guilty of a Multiple Testing Fallacy. While naturalistic combinations of events allowing for such a thing are unlikely on any single occasion, in all of human history, there are so many opportunities for such things, given time and chance, we can be almost certain that something *really, really weird* will happen sooner or later, whether naturalism is true or not. This is Stephen Law's point, and you have not addressed it.

3. Finally on the KCA, you have failed to back up the claim that the cause must be personal.

Nightvid said...

Devin:

First, to clarify. You say, in the context of the KCA, that the cause must be personal because it must have a will. Why must it have a will, and what prior reasons do you have for thinking that anything worth being called "will" can exist without a brain?

Additionally, why can the Big Bang itself not be the First Cause?

Anonymous said...

On the KCA I have a problem with many aspects however leaving those aside for now the problem I would like views on is the causal issue in the timeless pre universe, Godverse Craig proposes.

Craig denies that a non personal cause could be the big bang cause because the big bang effect would have then been present for all eternity so that for example all sorts of nasty things like the universe running down by now would have happened. All this leads to a personal cause that can decide to create the effect at the 'time' it chooses so the universe running down by now is avoided.

So what I don't get is if in the Godverse there is no time then wont any big bang cause have been present eternally whether it is a personal cause or non personal cause and the effect that we see ie our 13.7 billion year old universe will be present in either case so that either type of cause personal or non personal gives us the same observational result ie our 13.7 billion year old universe.

So why do we need a personal cause to be where we are now with a 13.7 billion year old universe.

Buzz Moonman said...

G'day Devin

Mutual peace is not an opinion, its an objective fact that can be obtained. It does exist. I'm not aware of anyone who disputes this.

The existence of your god is in dispute. The natures you define for him are wishful thinking.

There is nothing wishful about the definition of mutual peace. We all know what that is. It is not a social convention that changes from time to time and society to society. The actual political practice of mutual peace comes and goes but the idea is solid.

Mutual peace exists between you and I.
I'm presuming you're English in which case mutual peace exists between our countries.
Except during the Ashes :)

Humans are different to other animals because we have greater intellect and the ability to reason. We can think about what ways of behaviour result in a life we would prefer to live and with the exception of masochists, I've found that people generally prefer to live a life of peace. It really is a human opinion that living in peace with your neighbours is the prefered way to live for most people. Our cave dwelling ancestors worked this out. It's not rocket science.

Just because a life of peace is not experienced by everybody all the time does not affect using mutual peace as a basis for measuring right and wrong.

I made no claims about mutual peace encapsulating what you call ultimate good. I used the term goodwill as it is something on your radar but I think mutual aid is a more constructive, practical and more positive idea than mere goodwill. Mutual peace does not enable good per se but morality.

Good is of no use as a basis for morality as good is subjective - what's good for one person may not be good for another. Mutual peace however is the same for everyone, whether they are interested in pursuing it or not. If your behaviour does not encourage mutual peace between yourself and others then you are doing wrong.

Justice is rather subjective too, is it not? Your idea of justice may be different to mine depending on our political stance. And love is not objective because it is not external.

The existence of an objective base for measuring morality does not mean that people will therefore always be moral. It does however tell you when you are being moral or immoral and its going to be up to you to choose whether you behave morally or immorally.

It's much easier to practice mutual peace in the small group of the family or village or tribe and it gets harder the larger the group becomes. That doesn't mean that every family or small group is going to be wonderfully moral or everyone in that group is a great moral example.

TBC

Buzz Moonman said...

Part 2

The practice of morality across a broad society seems to me to be tied to political equity in that society. This is understandable because morality is the rules of social life. Morality is political. Political equity is a very recent practice and even as a theory it is only a couple of centuries old. Moral practices change as the level of political equity increases in society, so that where slavery was once accepted by our society, it is not anymore. Same with racism and sexism, but we still have not got rid of racism completely, or sexism or slavery for that matter in some places, but as the level of political equity has increased in our society, so moral values move to be in line with political values.

The aim of the Enlightenment is to harmonise political values with moral values. The most successful way humans have developed for doing this so far is secular humanist liberal social parliamentary democracy. It's not perfect and it’s still got some evolving to do but it’s so far ahead of all the attempts made by religion when religion had practical political power, there is no contest.

Your religion will never be able to harmonise its moral values with its political values because your philosophy has an authoritarian ordering principle that always leads to totalitarian governance when religion gets its hands on practical political power.

There is no evidence for your moral argument. There is evidence for mine. Devin can demonstrate that mutual peace exists, you cannot demonstrate that your god exists. Humans can obtain morality by using mutual peace as an objective basis and this does not require any input from any god.

Shalom

Buzz Moonman said...

G'day Devin

I use Gadaffi as an example of why it is not a good idea to merely base your ideas of someone on the word of their devout followers. If we did that with Gadaffi I guess they would focus on the benefits he brought to Libya that weren't there before his reign, like vastly increased health and education standards and outcomes and infrastructure and rights for women. But we have independently corroborated evidence from other sources about Gadaffi so that we know that there was other stuff he did that outweighed his good works for his people and poorer neighbours and so we wouldn't follow him to our deaths but many of his followers did.

BTW , a cleric has now been appointed minster for religious affairs in the new Libyan government and his one plan is to run sharia law and for Islam to be the state, so you can kiss goodbye to democracy in the new Libya and he’s already removed the rights that Gadaffi gave women. Much more anti democratic activities will follow. Islam is even worse than Christianity in its inability to harmonise moral and political values.

The accounts in the NT cannot be accepted as historical if they can't be independently confirmed and they never have been. There is no evidence for the resurrection. There is just propoganda. What's the old saying, make a lie big enough and tell it often enough and surprise, surprise, enough people will believe it.

One fact that has been independently confirmed about life two thousand years ago is that it was not unknown for mere humans to be deified. However, that did not make them gods though it did give them a kind of immortality as we still use months of the year named after two of these deified humans.

As for the causes of our universe, I am not a physicist but my understanding of Hawking's recent work is that the cause of our universe is not spaceless. I understand that he is suggesting that Einstein’s equations work just as well on the other side of the big bang as they do on this side, with the difference being that time becomes another dimension of space. Space is not nothing. It has energy. Now the question becomes, where did that energy come from or like existence, has it always existed. We don't know. You have supplied one possibility, but it is less probable than Hawking’s idea so you need to refute Hawking. Then there are the other possibilities including ones we haven't thought of yet or followed the science far enough to find yet that you have to refute. Given the developments of knowledge humans have made since your god was first postulated, it seems very likely that knowledge will be pushed even further, pushing you god further and further into the gap which gets smaller and smaller.

Go in peace

Devin said...

Howdy everyone :) I promise I'll be responding to your comments as soon as I can. I've simply been extremely busy.

I'm a grad student, and am proposing to my love this Saturday.

I hope to finish my paper that's due today an hour or so before class so that I'll have time to respond.

Most warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Howdy everyone! Thank you so much for your engagement with these issues. I really do believe this is of the utmost importance, and I am sincerely in pursuit of truth, with the hope that all of us share that passion.

Dear JoJo,
the page on Sai Baba was very interesting. However the miracles section was quite deficient. I found on the Wikipedia page a number of remarkable claims, however when I checked the citation source it simply took me to the website saibaba.org. Moreover, after visiting the website, I could not find any confirmations or evidence for the purported miracles.

I don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead simply because his followers said so. I believe it because there is substantial evidence for the empty tomb, for his post-mortem appearances, and for the martyrdom of early Christians. Such facts cry out for explanation, and no natural hypothesis comes close to explaining those facts. On the contrary however, the disciples’ claim that God raised Jesus from the dead perfectly explains all of those facts, and also seems quite plausible given the historical context of Jesus’ life and ministry. If one is truly open to historical inquiry, the evidence surrounding Christ’s life, death, and resurrection certainly suggests that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Anonymous,

I’m curious as to what you’re asking me to do… Every non-theistic account of morality that’s been proposed since written history has come up empty in establishing that certain human actions are truly good or bad. Humans may have opinions about certain actions, but what evidence is there, on Atheism, that our moral opinions are actually true?

If you believe some things are truly good (like love & equality) or bad (like rape & genocide), my question to you is why? Because on Atheism and evolutionary theory, humans are nothing but matter + chance + time, and in that sense how can it be any worse to destroy a human life than it is to destroy an ant?

Now, I’d like to make clear. I really do believe that humans are intrinsically valuable. I love people, very very much. But I believe that humans are more than just matter + chance + time. I believe that humans are made in the image of God, and God as being truly Good and valuable has bestowed that Goodness and value in us. Thus I believe we have a true obligation to love our neighbor and relieve the suffering of the oppressed.

On Atheism, if good and bad actions are deemed relative to culture, then who’s to say which is the truly good act? Take female genital mutilation for instance. I believe that’s truly deplorable, and that we are justified in protecting young girls from being hurt like that, because it’s Wrong. But on Atheism, why should my opinion trump the opinion of the person oppressing the girl? This is why Atheism’s lack of a moral foundation truly frightens me.

Sincerely,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Nightvid,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. In fact, the premises are not contradictory, but resolved in the 3rd proposition that God exists. The moral argument could also be formulated

1. Objective moral values and duties exist
2. If atheism is true, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

I believe it’s compelling to believe that objective moral values and duties exist as a result of my moral intuitions. When I see genocide I genuinely apprehend in moral experience that genocide is wrong. However I also understand that such a judgment lacks foundation if God does not exist. Therefore, given that I truly believe some things are good and bad, but that such a judgment can only be valid if Good and Bad transcend my opinion and are grounded in God, then therefore God exists.

Perhaps this may also shed some light on the argument: In Dr. Craig’s recent debate with Dr. Millican, Dr. Millican remarked that Dr. Craig believes atheists can know Good and Evil wholly apart from belief in God, and that indeed 54% of 900 philosophers he surveyed were moral realists, while only 15% of those moral realists were theists. He then asked Dr. Craig how it is that atheists can know Good and Evil if atheism does not provide a sufficient foundation for the existence of such.

My response would be that all people can know Good and Evil exist precisely because God exists. All of us deep down perceive the existence of objective moral values. The question then becomes, what can explain the existence of these moral values? Do any natural explanations succeed? No, because they all presuppose the intrinsic moral value of humans, which seems completely unjustified given atheism and evolutionary theory. Therefore, the explanation of objective moral values must be supernatural, and thus God exists. The moral argument, far from being contradictory, simply shows that the ground of objective moral values must be God because all natural grounds fall short.

Regarding the emptiness of moral values on Atheism, I’m not sure if you read all my posts, but I recommend you start at the beginning of my posts and go down, because I believe I covered it above.

(Resurrection & KCA continued below)

Devin said...

On the Resurrection,
The debate between Dr. Craig and Dr. Carrier was wonderful! Now, in fact 75% of NT scholars do agree to those three facts (including Bart Ehrman!). But more importantly, I gave evidence for each of those facts in my posts above. If you wish to dispute any of them, I encourage you to do so. If you think one of those points are not factual, then I would ask you to please explain why.

Also, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the Multiple Testing Fallacy. Can you please explain it?

Finally, just throwing up your hands and saying, “I don’t know how to explain those three facts, but really weird things can happen!” isn’t very persuasive to me. I think that one is well justified in affirming the claim of Jesus’ disciples that Christ was risen from the dead—especially in light of the failure of all competing hypotheses.

On the KCA,
The cause must be personal for two reasons:
1. As the cause of all matter, the cause must be immaterial. Now, there are only two “things” that we know of that are immaterial, abstract objects and minds. But since abstract objects (such as the number 7) don’t cause anything, then the immaterial cause of the universe must be a mind—making it a personal cause.
2. As the cause of all time, the cause must be timeless, or rather eternal. But if the cause is impersonal and eternally present, then the effect should also be eternally present. So we know we have an eternal cause, but we also have an effect in time. The only way this is possible is if the cause is personal—if the cause has the freedom to bring about a new effect by its own choice.

And indeed, I believe the KCA itself is evidence for the existence of a mind without a brain. Additionally, there are a number of mental attributes we know exist that don’t make sense in just a brain. For instance intentionality, self-identity through time, free will, etc. all suggest that humans possess an immaterial mind in addition to our brain. You can think of this analogy like a man playing a piano. The piano is the instrument the man uses to create music, but its’ origin is the in the man. Likewise, the brain is the instrument the mind uses to communicate thoughts, but for the reasons above (intentionality, self-identity through time, free will, etc.), we know that there must be something in addition to just our mind alone.

(cont. below)

Devin said...

Finally, why can’t the Big Bang itself be the First Cause? Because something doesn’t come from nothing. The idea that there was nothing, and then suddenly the Big Bang happened, contradicts the very foundation of science and is literally worse than magic. 1) All science rests upon the truth that things have causes, that something doesn’t come from nothing. 2) If something truly did come from nothing, it becomes inexplicable why anything and everything doesn’t come from nothing. We have more evidence for causality than for just about anything. 3) Such a claim is worse than magic. At least when a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, you have the magician and the hat. It’s not like rabbits can pop into being uncaused.

Most fundamentally, we just know that something doesn’t come from nothing. (And please, don’t appeal to Quantum Physics, we all know that the Quantum Vacuum is not ‘nothing’, but has a rich physical structure and is a sea of potential energy). When one really thinks about it, God is the only being who could be the cause of the universe, and thus the origin of the universe is outstanding evidence that God exists.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Anonymous, I’m following you on your first two paragraphs, but I’m not entirely sure I know what you’re asking/claiming in the third. Could you please clarify that a little more?

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Buzz,

You say that ‘mutual peace’ is not an opinion, but an objective fact that does exist. Yes. I agree. Lol. However, the idea that we have a moral obligation to pursue, or should pursue mutual peace is your opinion. You might believe that we should all pursue mutual peace, but why is your opinion more true than someone else’s opinion that we should pursue happiness? That’s what I mean by subjective, and that’s what the moral argument shows.

Now, you note that humans are different from other animals because we have greater intellect and the ability to reason, but why do those two traits necessarily endow us with greater value? After all, gorillas have much greater strength, and parrots have much greater life spans. How does reason endow us with intrinsic moral worth?

You also remark that “Good is of no use as a basis for morality as good is subjective – what’s good for one person may not be good for another.” And that’s exactly the point. You say mutual peace is the Good, or the thing we have a moral obligation to pursue. But that’s merely your opinion, that we should pursue mutual peace. Others might believe we should pursue happiness. Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? A solid foundation of right and wrong must be transcendent, and the most plausible transcendent foundation is God.

Regarding your Part 2 post in reference to politics and morality, I simply don’t see how that’s relevant to the issue at hand. You make a number of claims about moral progress coinciding with political progress, but both terms pre-suppose the matter in question, namely the existence of moral values and duties.

You conclude by claiming there’s no evidence for my moral argument. How’s that? Don’t you believe some things are truly Good (such as peace) and other things are truly evil (such as genocide)? If you do, then we need to see where such Good and Evil comes from. If it’s based on human consensus (our opinions about what’s good and evil) then Good and Evil change depending on the political power. You’re your last sentence admits this when you write, “Humans can obtain morality by using mutual peace…” but there’s nothing about that statement that ensures humans have a moral obligation to pursue mutual peace. However, if peace is an objective Good, independent of our preference or aversion to it, being valid and binding for all people (that’s what Craig explicitly said he means by “objective”) then it must be grounded in God.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

Dear Buzz,

In response to your final post. You make a bold claim that “The accounts in the NT cannot be accepted as historical if they can’t be independently confirmed and they never have been.” However my thorough posts above detailed the considerable evidence for believing the empty tomb, post-mortem appearances of Christ, and origin of the disciples faith as historical.

Something you should realize is that the accounts are independent of one another. The NT is a collection of historical documents. It’s not just one document. Moreover those documents are closer to the events they report than any other historical documents of antiquity (for instance our earliest biography of Alexander the Great comes 400 years after the fact, our earliest biography of Julius Ceaser also comes hundreds of years after the fact, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke were all written within 30 years of the event, and John was written within 60 years of the event). We also have more of them than any other documents from antiquity. And lastly the documents are 100% accurate about their historical claims we can verify (such as who was governor at the time, cultural practices, common names for the period, etc.). This is radically different than the apocryphal gospels that were written 100-200 years after the events of Christ and do not corroborate with known historical facts from the time period.

Finally, on Stephen Hawking, please watch this talk from Oxford Mathematician John Lennox. Judge for yourself whether Hawking’s claim holds up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJSi25tB6EM. Here is also a podcast Dr. Craig has given directly addressing Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U04DhlaBPZU&feature=related.

Warmly,
Devin

Devin said...

As a note to all,
It is my hope that through this discussion it’s apparent that there is actually a great deal of substance to the KCA, the Moral Argument, and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

I don’t know what your background is or whatever, but I encourage you to honestly consider whether or not God might actually exist. I know there is so much banter, and sometimes unkindness, on both sides of the question. But it is my hope that we might all discover that God really does love us, and that as He told us in Christ, we too are to love others.

For me, Christianity is not a religion, but Christ is exact manifestation of the incredible truth that God loves us, even though we’re imperfect, and that earnestly desires that we would all know Him and enjoy His love and His goodness forever.

I understand there are questions, and if anyone has further questions I’d be happy to respond, but I encourage you to honestly pick up the New Testament, whether for the first time or not, and consider whether or not God may actually have revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and that God might actually be so just that all sin deserves punishment, and so loving and merciful that He Himself paid our debts.

Lovingly,
Devin Tarr

Devin said...

(I apologize for the typos in my last post, and also for saying "whatever". It could feel like I'm being dismissive, but I'm not at all.)

I truly believe the origin of the universe, the existence of objective moral values--independent of human opinion, and the historical evidence for Christ's resurrection, all provide solid grounds for believe that the Christian God exists.

Indeed, I believe the most reasonable thing we can do is trust in God.

With love,
Devin

Anonymous said...

Devin you said,

"I’m curious as to what you’re asking me to do… Every non-theistic account of morality that’s been proposed since written history has come up empty in establishing that certain human actions are truly good or bad. Humans may have opinions about certain actions, but what evidence is there, on Atheism, that our moral opinions are actually true?..."
Which may or may not be true but is besides the point.What Im asking you to do is an exercise in logic not listing ethical theories or opining as you do above.

As I said before listing ethical theories or opining as you do above is not the same as establishing that the proposition that the, "...onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts ... – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet." is wrong and by wrong I mean as a matter of logic.

To put it in another way Craig's first premise is a statement that there are no x's that are not also y's. To establish its truth Dr Law says Craig must show that "all such atheist-friendly accounts ... – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet" do not result in 'objective moral values'

So I wait to see your logical refutation of this proposition not another list or opinion about the objectivity of a non theistic moral theory.

Once you have established the above is wrong then we can consider whether any of the non theistic moral theories you cite do not achieve 'objective moral values and also we can move onto premise 2

Devin said...

Dear Anonymous,

Perhaps we're going in circles? lol.

Premise 1 of the Moral Argument is: "If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist."

The reason I believe that premise is true is because if God does not exist, then no one's opinion is any more Good than anyone elses, and Good and Evil become merely subjective.

Moreover, if evolutionary theory is true, and we are nothing but matter + chance + time, then it's difficult to see how we have intrinsic moral value.

It seems to me that such an answer meets your criteria of demonstrating how all accounts of morality outside of God cannot be truly objective. I simply don't see how your claim that Dr. Craig hasn't disproved every atheistic account of morality, even those that haven't been thought of, still stands. To me, it appears he has.

I imagine you probably don't find that to be a satisfactory answer, but I simply don't see how Dr. Law's assertion in any way counters Craig's justification for premise 1. It seems his justifications for premise 1 meet Dr. Law's challenge. If you don't think so, I'd like to know why.

All the best!
Warmly,
Devin

Anonymous said...

Devin you said,
"Dear Anonymous, I’m following you on your first two paragraphs, but I’m not entirely sure I know what you’re asking/claiming in the third. Could you please clarify that a little more?..."

I said in my third paragraph said,

"So what I don't get is if in the Godverse there is no time then wont any big bang cause have been present eternally whether it is a personal cause or non personal cause and the effect that we see ie our 13.7 billion year old universe will be present in either case so that either type of cause personal or non personal gives us the same observational result ie our 13.7 billion year old universe.

So why do we need a personal cause to be where we are now with a 13.7 billion year old universe."

I will put it another way to highlight what I am trying to get at. Craigs argument to a personal cause seems to smuggle a timeline into the godverse's timeless eternity.

The argument Craig uses essentially is that a non personal cause would have been present for all eternity in the godverse and therefore the bigbang would have been present for all eternity and therefore more than 13.7 billion years(an infinite amount of time perhaps) would by now have passed in the universe.
But you only get that result by smuggling a timeline into the godverse to surreptitiously lay alongside the universes time line with a view to creating this illusory comparison.

Craig also tries to distinguish the personal cause on the basis that at some point in the timeless godverse god can create the universe and all will be honky dory and only 13.7 billion years will have passed.

The point I make is it does not matter, personal cause or non personal cause what we must see on either version(bigbang creates time)is a universe 13.7 billion years old and as a bonus what we do see is a universe 13.7 billion years old.

Conclusion Craig's argument on this point if I have it right takes us nowhere towards a personal god.

In addition since Craig posits a supernatural realm I can simply accept that for the purpose of argument and posit a supernatural cause which is not a mind and bang I have a 13.7 billion year old universe without god.

I hope you have as much fun in the godverse as I did now back to reality

Matthew Flannagan said...

John and Stephen, doesn't Swinburne say his opinion of moral arguments has changed somewhat in his most recent addition of the Existence of God?

In that case is it reall fair to give that quote the authority you do.

Buzz Moonman said...

G'day Devin

I don't think you are getting my drift. Understandable as this idea requires you to think out of your box and not to ascribe ideas to me that I don’t have.

I’ve put this idea up a number of times on different blogs over the past year. At times it generated a lot of commentary, far more than I was able to respond to.

A common response from Asecularists like yourself has been to criticise the idea for being my opinion. I was even told that I do not have the authority to put forward this idea. Of course, I don’t need any authority, all I need do is think, and anyway, in my world, I am a major authoritive figure. It is of no matter that I am not considered a public authority or that I’m not a professional apologist or philosopher. This opinin based approach does not refute what I'm saying. Stephen and Bill have their opinions and we value them, even if we don’t agree with them and if we don’t agree with them we have to find reasons in the ideas themselves , not in the fact that they have the opinions. It is your opinion that your god is the basis of morality but I don't discount your claim because it is your opinion, it but because you haven't demonstrated that your god exists or explained the method that your god uses to arrive at moral decisions. The Moonman thesis may be my opinion (I don't know, but I can't find anyone else who has proposed the idea and no one I've mentioned it to has been able to point me in the direction of someone who has. If you know of such work, let me know as I want to read it) but I also show that it exists and how it works. Granted I have only given you a very small nutshell version of it here but the long version is not going to fit in a blog.

I'm not saying we have a moral obligation to pursue mutual peace that must be followed. I'm saying that using mutual peace as the measuring stick we can determine whether we are being moral or not. There's a difference. It seems to me to be the case that being moral results in mutual peace as well as mutual peace being the objective basis for morality. Mutual peace is the alpha and omega of morality.

Do you have a problem with pursuing mutual peace? Why would you prefer to live in a world that is not one of mutual peace and goodwill and mutual aid to all?

Have you ever wondered why peace is so important to your greatest of all moral teachers and why he's called the prince of peace, why you say peace be with you when you go to church? And why the most important thing to say at Christmas is peace on earth and good will to all, which is just another way of saying mutual peace.

Mutual peace is the foundation stone of your religion’s humanist morality.

TBC

Buzz Moonman said...

Devin

Again I tell you that I have not said that mutual peace is the Good. I didn't say peace is an objective Good. You are not with the drift. You are trying to project your ideas onto mine. I'm sure there’s a fallacious name for such a thing but being a garden variety unschooled philosopher I don't know what its name is. A solid foundation to measure right and wrong does not have to be transcendent. It isn't. It's right in front of you in the natural world. Has been all the time. Spend some time, like a few weeks, trying it out. Do the experiment. It does take a while to think over this idea no matter what box you're coming from.


Politics is relevant because the personal is political and religion and god is personal. Politics is not just something that happens in parliament.

Morality is not a result of a religious discourse. Religion is the result of a moral discourse. You cannot have religion without first having morality as you can't have religion without having a stable social group and to have a stable social group, you need to have morality. And morality comes from people thinking about their political relations with other people. Using your nous, as my Mum says (and the ancient Greeks said)

Do you dispute that though it is far from perfect, our western secular humanist liberal social democracy is the most broadly moral society humans have so far developed?

People get too hung up on good and evil which is why Stephen proposed using suffering instead. Good and evil are different ends of the same line of behaviour and which end good and evil are at depends on your perspective, whether you are a masochist or not. So yes, I agree that good and evil change depending on the persons political perspective. But mutual peace does not change depending on the person’s politics. That's because it's objective. My opinion is irrelevant to your trying to refute this. You have to show that mutual peace, which exists externally and independently of me, is not objective and why when you behave in ways that create or sustain mutual peace, you are not doing right.

Peace be with you

Buzz Moonman said...

G’day Devin

It’s far too early to say that Hawking's claim does or doesn’t hold up and I didn't say that it does hold up, I said he is suggesting it. That's not to say it won’t be shown to hold up further down the track. After all there was that Greek bloke who suggested that the earth was round and he announced its circumference in 400BC when everyone else said it was flat. It took over 2,000 years to show he was right and his estimate was only out by a few hundred kilometres because he didn't realise the earth wasn't a perfect sphere. The evidence is pointing more and more towards Hawking and away from you.

It’s my understanding that the Gospels are not independent of one another and that the others are based on Mark. It may have taken a while to get a bio of Ceasar but there is plenty of contemporary evidence for him, is there not. He was well known because he did many things that ordinary men didn’t do. The things claimed for Jesus are even more extraordinary and so require extraordinary evidence which is not there. From talking to Christians it’s clear that they have no idea which "historical facts" in the bible are facts and which are allegory and legend. Jesus was not the first man to be deified 2,000 years ago, was he? Identifying politicians and cultural practices does not make other parts of a story true. The same politicians and cultural practices can be verified during the era when Mithraism was the state religion of the Roman empire but that doesn't make Mithraism true or show that Mithras existed, does it? The same goes for The Dreamtime in my country, we know quite a bit about the indigenous culture but you and I don’t believe that the Rainbow Serpent exists, do we?

As far as its value as evidence goes, a first year law student could turf the Bible out of court without too much trouble.

If the only record we had of Gadaffi was one written by his loyal followers who were prepared to die for him, we would be justified in considering such testimony as unreliable.



Making meaning in our lives keeps us busy and away from blogging and it sounds like you're about to make some major meaning in your life this weekend and this will keep making meaning for you for years to come. Best wishes for the big moment.


Give peace a chance

Anonymous said...

Devin you said
"Dear Anonymous,

Perhaps we're going in circles? lol.

Premise 1 of the Moral Argument is: "If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist."

The reason I believe that premise is true is because if God does not exist, then no one's opinion is any more Good than anyone elses, and Good and Evil become merely subjective.

...

I imagine you probably don't find that to be a satisfactory answer, but I simply don't see how Dr. Law's assertion in any way counters Craig's justification for premise 1. It seems his justifications for premise 1 meet Dr. Law's challenge. If you don't think so, I'd like to know why."

Let me put it this way. I consider Dr Laws argument basically amounts to this.
1 for Craig's premise "If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist." to be true Craig bears the onus to prove it.
2 to prove it he must prove that it is logically impossible for there to be objective moral values and duties without god.
3 note he must prove it is logically impossible

Hence my original ask of you to prove that the, "...onus is on Professor Craig to show that all such atheist-friendly accounts ... – even the ones we haven’t thought of yet." is wrong.

That is in other words Craig must prove that objective moral values and duties without god is logically impossible

So I wait to see your logical refutation of this proposition not another list or opinion about the objectivity of a non theistic moral theory.

John W. Loftus said...

Matt, That IS from the 2nd edition.

Swinburne says the same thing in his chapter in Garcia & King eds., "Is Goodness without God Good Enough?"

There he starts off saying: "Against William Craig I shall argue that the existence and actions of God make no difference to the fact there are morals truths..." (p. 151). And he bites the bullet saying, "there are necessary morals truths independent of the will of God..." (p. 157) If they exist like he says then there is no argument to the existence of God from morality.

Cheers,

Nightvid said...

Devin:

All your arguments have been proposed by religious apologists already and they all are unconvincing.

1. You argue against atheistic objective morality by saying "No, because they all presuppose the intrinsic moral value of humans, which seems completely unjustified given atheism and evolutionary theory."

The key word here is INTRINSIC. Bestowed value is not intrinsic value, but extrinsic (i.e. externally imposed) value. Your argument thus refutes itself because, by definition, divine accounts cannot explain intrinsic moral value of humans.

On the resurrection argument, I assume your "75% of scholars" statistic is from Gary Habermas. It is not meaningful because Habermas does not distinguish between articles using theology as their basis from those using historical methods. If you simply "lump" those together, you can no longer claim the figure supports the historicity claim.

Nightvid said...

Devin: (continued from prev. post)

The Multiple Testing Fallacy is the error of assuming that because any one instance of an event is improbable, it therefore follows that it is improbable given lots of chances it will happen. For instance, say I test a drug for diabetes on patient groups in 20 different geographical areas, and find that in one group, I got a reduction in diabetes with a P value of 0.05 . Am I justified in concluding that the lifestyle factors in that area allow it to be effective? NO! For a probability of 1/20 is EXPECTED to be seen in one test out of 20 by chance alone.
For supernatural events, all of human history is full of cases where if such an event occurred, it would be noted. Thus even if it is highly improbable that some bizarre combination of natural events mimicking the appearance of a supernatural event happens, there are so many chances that to see one occur is not at all surprising on naturalism.

Finally, your "reasons" on the KCA are flawed. #1 presupposed Cartesian Dualism by calling mind immaterial and hence begs the question against naturalism, and #2 is unsupported.

Nightvid said...

Devin: (continued from prev. post)

Since I have yet to hear a good argument from you, and since you failed to properly respond to my objections without begging the question, the most plausible conclusion thus far in our debate is that theism is false.

Maryann Spikes said...

A falling short (sin), or privation (evil) [sin=evil], of the way things are supposed to be (the good), cannot exist unless there really is a way things are supposed to be. So--first exists the way things are supposed to be, without which a falling short (sin), or privation (evil), is impossible (again, sin=evil). That good--that 'way'--is God. God, because he is omnipotent, cannot fall short of himself, cannot be a privation of himself, cannot depart from the way things are supposed to be (himself). Such falling short, privation, departing--all of those things are weakness.

Anonymous said...

Flipping I think we get.

A falling short (nosin), or privation (good) [nosin=good], of the way things are supposed to be (the evil), cannot exist unless there really is a way things are supposed to be. So--first exists the way things are supposed to be, without which a falling short (nosin), or privation (good), is impossible (again, nosin=good). That evil--that 'way'--is EvilGod. EvilGod, because he is omnipotent, cannot fall short of himself, cannot be a privation of himself, cannot depart from the way things are supposed to be (himself). Such falling short, privation, departing--all of those things are weakness.

Evil god rules

Buzz Moonman said...

G'day Devin

How's the experiment going?


Give peace a chance