Oesh has produced his first rebuttal. It can be read here
. My response to it is below the fold.
Oesh repeatedly praises logic, and he is right to do so. However, he seems unfamiliar with even its most basic tenets. You will note that in my initial response I never once felt the need to speculate about any biases oesh may hold. Why would I? If he's biased and wrong, it just makes my job easier.
Nor did I feel compelled to waste any time (that could be used addressing arguments) speculating about what oesh's motivations might be. Why would I? They're completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter if his motivations are shameful in the extreme: they would not make him wrong. Also, you will note that I responded very specifically to what oesh did
say, quoting him every step of the way. These are all important factors in playing fair in any discussion.
I'm going to get some initial basic philosophy out of the way first. It's important to know these, because oesh uses them repeatedly.1. "You will see immediately that [Zero] has a bias in his thinking and argument."
This is what's called the appeal to motive
fallacy. This is a type of Ad Hominem fallacy. The Appeal to Motive fallacy occurs when somebody tries to discredit an argument because of where it arose. An example would be:
There is a mountain of evidence for evolution
from various disciplines, all of which agrees with each other when cross-checked. This includes the predictability of transitional species in soil of a certain age and type, synteny, observed instances of speciation in species like Podarcis sicula
and Culex pipiens
, and a litany of others.Debater B:
Of course you believe in evolution - you're an atheist!
Of course, Debater A's disbelief in the proposition of god by no means makes the evidences he lists any less powerful. Debater B has attempted to circumvent the argument by showing the possibility of bias, rather than defeating the argument.
2. See...with some, it is not good enough that others have their own ideas and thoughts. No, they want to make you see that you are some "numb-nut religious freak" or just some "hardcore Christian." They feel that if you are a Christian, then you are no longer able to have any say in society because all you do is engage in the "nauseating acrobatics of apologists."
Alignment with a certain group or position never, in itself, makes a person wrong.
This is a mix of the appeal to motivation (see the first example in this section) and the straw man fallacy
. The formula for a straw man argument looks like this:
1. Person A holds position X.
2. Person B ignores position X and instead refutes position Y.
3. Person B concludes that position X is flawed.
3. "So then, the way to go after those that they want to convert to atheism is to use a bunch of emotional rhetoric and half truths to try to show enough "contradiction" as to invoke doubt in someone's mind and thereby shake their faith. Satan has been doing that for centuries as a means to recruit his followers."
Oesh is making claims about what I'm thinking that are not only irrelevant, but are impossible for him to know without an intimate knowledge of the trappings of my mind (perhaps god really is tipping him off?). I think that Oesh has confused me thinking he's wrong and explaining why
with all of the nonsense he has attempted to ascribe to me in the above excerpt. A perusing of all my writings will reveal that I have never once uttered (or implied) the concepts or words he just tried to stick in my mouth, and that I have especially never uttered anything even remotely similar in the course of this blogalog. The fact that he tries to saddle me with them is very strange.
And why bother with such idle speculation? Even if I did think all those things, how would it make him more right and me more wrong in the slightest? It wouldn't. The terrible irony here is that in the very next paragraph (see the third example in this section), as if in an effort to pile on assertions that have nothing to do with separating true claims from false claims, oesh accuses me
of engaging in emotional rhetoric. What's a fella to do?
Contrary to what oesh says, I disagree with him for no other reason than precisely the reasons I said in my response
4. His main source of material seems to be written previously by a man named Jim Lippard. As with any writing, as I showed in my previous post, you need to understand the perspective and potential bias of the author. Mr. Lippard is a proud atheist who, if you do some simple research about him, you will see is out only to prove the non-existence of God and further the idea that evolution is no longer a theory, but somehow has now been deemed as fact. Naturally his perspective then will be skewed towards denying any validity to any passage of scripture.
More appeal to motive. It has no bearing on whether or not I'm right, and the fact that it's employed here, in a forum where right and wrong are the currency, is just plain bizarre. Go back and read my post and see if I ever feel the need to do such things.
Also, the very first post on oesh's blogger account
(titled "Rules of Debate") had some very specific rules of engagement. Rule #1 was "Show respect." Rule #3 prohibits the making of claims without evidential support. I submit to all readers that the above excerpt from oesh's opening, in which he conjures motivations from within my skull and ascribes them to the influence of satan, trespasses with great elation upon both.
More appeal to motive. If his biases are so clear, just refute them. The fact that one feels compelled to point out bias seems to suggest that their arguments don't do this on their own. Being a proud atheist does not make him wrong, nor does any other motive (any more than believing in the bible inherently makes somebody wrong). As you read my responses, try counting the times I feel compelled to point out somebody's bias rather than just presenting the facts. Try the same for oesh.
This covers the first three paragraphs of oesh's response. Not a very auspicious way to begin with only irrelevant speculation and no arguments of any sort. Whenever somebody makes an assertion, it's always easy and very handy to ask two questions: "Is this relevant even if it's true?" and "On what grounds can he make that claim?" Hold oesh to this standard. Hold me to it.
Response to arguments
In the continuation of the inordinate amount of time I've had to spend house-cleaning oesh's non-arguments, I'd like to start by pointing something out. Read this comment:
"I gave a brief intro in my first post to the affirmative knowing that it would be enough material for [Zero] to try to attack and attack he did."
Attack? Where is the line between an attack and a disagreement supported by evidence, like oesh demands in rule #3 of his initial post
(Rules of Debate)? Obviously, I feel I only engaged in the latter. Moreover, what word could someone attach to wide-open assertions that their opponent acts under the influence of satan? Perhaps...an attack? I hope it's clear who is appealing to emotion, as well as needless speculation of motive and bias, and who is doing their best to stick to supporting their position. Read my post
, then oesh's response
.1. [Zero] also stated how easy it would be for a man to be learned in Hebrew History and then somehow set out to prove prophecies true by just knowing what they said and then acting them out in his life
2. I am having a hard time imagining that some actually dismiss prophetic fulfillment because they think it was all somehow manipulated.
It is upon this statement, and the subsequent paragraphs dealing with it, that much of oesh's response rests. Of course, I don't think Jesus existed at all, and that there is no corroboration of any biblical prophecy outside of the bible itself (see seven problems with prophecy, section 5
). I also provided evidence for how oesh's assessment of what constitutes historical proof is a bit off, to say the least (see the last three paragraphs of the "response specifically to oeshpdog2" section
). So oesh's implication here that Jesus actually lived out any prophecies has yet to find any evidential support from his camp, and no suggestion of authenticity from mine.
I also said that even if Jesus did live, that any prophecies surrounding him were known by Jesus, and could have been carried out. I even pointed out how the bible admits this (see seven problems with prophecy, section 3
). So I stand by what I said. Oesh's response to it, aside from gawking at how any person of intelligence could accept that Jesus did what the bible said he did by acting out prophecies that he knew about, is to retreat to another prophecy (rather than responding to my rebuttals of the "prophecies" he initially used). He uses excerpts from Isaiah 53, and I guess he's saying that these prophesied how Jesus was to die. Before getting into them, please go back to my post and read section 1 in the seven problems with prophecy section
, which deals with vague "prophecies."
So, let's see what we've got (ignoring for a moment the mountain of work I did that is now being cast aside as oesh shifts the goalposts).
"He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
This could apply to almost anybody. That's just the point: god is supposedly all-knowing. Imagine if you could go back in time and write a prophesy of what Groucho Marx would be like:
From the book of JT, chapter 1 (written just now):
On October 2, 1890, a Jewish boy will be born
the third son in his family
he and his brothers will make 13 movies
that's moving pictures...I know you haven't so much as discovered still photos yet,
but I'm telling you about them now because I'm all-knowing and that's how I roll,
plus, here's the schematics for making a camera...it's not that hard when you
know everything...I'm sure you guys can figure out the rest
Anyway, he'll be born in Carnegie Hill in upper East side Manhatten
Yeah, there's totally more land across the oceans...you'll figure that out later
That's where Mahatten is. Trust me on this.
He's gonna be 5'8", with big, bushy eyebrows.
Anyway, he's gonna be funny as hell,
and his name will be similar to that of a character on a kid's TV
show later in the 20th century.
And I'm a mere mortal. No need for ambiguous passages that could apply to everyone, and actual revelations about how the world works! This is what prophecy could
look like, but never does in the bible. One can only imagine what this would look like, biblical style:
There will come a time in a far away land
When a man shall come before them
With bushy black hair
And laughter shall be upon the people
And 'lo people looked at this man, and laughter was upon them
And there shall be much rejoicing (yaaaaaaay)
Is this really the best that omniscience can manage?
But he was pierced for our transgressions
Alright now! According to the bible, Jesus was crucified which, if we're taking this line literally, could totally conform in a seemingly unlikely way. Of course, I provided plenty of evidence to suggest that the gospel writers never knew Jesus if he existed, and could have just authored that in. But let's ignore all that evidence for a moment (as oesh has). What other lines can we take literally from Isaiah 53? How about the very next line?
he was crushed for our iniquities
Crushed? No, that never happened. Must not have been Jesus. Was this one just figurative while the one above it was literal? How can you tell?
Also, as I've said repeatedly, there is no historical corroboration for any of this (see seven problems with prophecy, section 5
). All fulfillment is spelled out only
in the bible. I can't help but wonder why oesh doesn't think that all the prophecies fulfilled as stated in the koran in the same shady fashion don't elevate that book to the pillar of celestial authorship.
Go back, read the excerpts from Isaiah 53, and wonder for a moment how specific they are, and why it seems a mortal could do better.
Oesh asserts that I argue:
"Somehow we are now to believe that Jesus coerced men into trying Him and killing Him just as He had read and learned from the Prophet Isaiah."
Here's another idea: Jesus lived, had a following, and actually got crucified because the Romans were hacked off about all the ruckus he was making (not what I believe happened, but let's roll with it). Crucifiction was the common penalty for such people back then. Hell, decimation was also a common practice (decimation was what the Romans did when a village was misbehaving - they'd line up every denizen of said village, and count down every tenth person and stab them) - what if the prophesized one died that way? Being "pierced" is very ambiguous, and all the riff raff about shouldering inequity, more vague references, could easily have been added in by later writers.
There is a myriad of possibilities aside from the one oesh uses above (I put forward several in my last response) - which is precisely why these "prophecies" are so ambiguous (see seven problems with prophecy, section 1
). Of course, I think the most likely answer is that the whole story was just that: a story that never happened, in which case writing about confirmed prophecies would be easy. I can have you a short story tomorrow in which a fictional man, Buzz McPowers, saves mankind and fulfills one hundred prophecies that are far more specific than the bible's fuzzy predictions.
Moreover, this does not account for inaccurate prophecies. If god is omniscient, then even one wrong prophecy nullifies his existence. We have many such prophecies in the bible (primarily when the writers try to get specific), such as the Tyre prophecy. What else is a reasonable person to conclude?
This takes care of the subsequent paragraph to this argument (you can tell which one I'm talking about because it's full of repeated question marks, presumably to show how unbelievable oesh finds it all to be).
I know you are, but we cannot continue until you explain why you disagree with my reasons for thinking it was all manipulated or the product of making murky predictions that could have been met by any number of criteria. 3. "Zero" also called the Gospel authors a bunch of liars.
4. "Not one thing in all of the gospels contradicts another when taking them in context."5. But if you are a true student of the Bible, then you also know how those books were written and the nature and characteristics of the authors.
I sure did, and I explained why (see seven problems with prophecy, section 4
). Moreover, I explained the dates of authorship of the gospels, which preclude their authors from having been actual disciples of Jesus (if he existed). We can begin by knowing that, at the very least, they lied about their identities. Not a very good start, wouldn't you say?
For my dating, I used the consensus of experts in the historical community, presumably achieved through the process of peer-review. Even using the Austinian hypothesis
, which is accepted by a handful of historians, which I presume is what oesh is doing to get the date of 53 CE as the year of authorship of Mark, still puts the later books too far out (John at 85 CE at the earliest) that it is obvious the authors lied about their identities.
All the same, since oesh and I are both laymen, we must use the historical community's consensus, unless an excellent reason can be given for doing otherwise ("It conforms to what I think I know" is not a good reason).
Moreover, even if I were to concede that the word "alma" equates to virginity in the Hebrew (which it doesn't), that does not explain why the books of Mark and John do not agree with Luke and Matthew, as they should for such an enormous detail (see seven problems with prophecy, section 4
). Oesh attacks my source as being a Jewish web site. Fine, here it is from the Catholics
spelled out succinctly:
A Hebrew signifying a "young woman", unmarried as well as married, and thus distinct from bethulah, "a virgin" (see Hebrew Lexicons).
There is more information on the link, including some of the apologetics. Go read it.
First, I submit there is no such thing as "True" (tm) Christianity
in the sense that oesh is attempting to employ the phrase. I also touch on how odd it is that theological scholarship does not produce consensus on the nature of Christianity as it does in other academic fields (see the first paragraph of "Outro"
). Oesh does nothing to rebut this, yet continues to use phrases like the one above as if they actually mean something. Read further into the outro of my last post, and you'll see where I predict that oesh would take this avenue and where I rebut it ahead of time. No response to that was given, yet oesh has continued on as though nothing was said. What else can I do?
Challenges for oeshpdog2
First and foremost, no more irrelevancies. It does not advance the conversation to speculate over why I do what I do or where my biases are (or if satan is pulling my puppet strings). If my biases do exist, oesh should have no trouble revealing them and using any flimsy position I hold that was previously supported with bias rather than evidence to back me into a logical corner. The fact that oesh feels the need to admonish the readers to accept that I'm biased suggests that he does not believe his arguments accomplish this on their own.
When I wrote my initial response
to oesh, I feel as though I was very specific in my analysis. I went to great lengths to explain precisely why I believed the way I did, and never dismissed something without evidence (as oesh demanded in his post "Rules of Debate
", see rule #3). I don't feel as if this courtesy has been returned to me. There are several statements made in oesh's response
that I am expected to take at face value. Some examples include:
1. ...they want to make you see that you are some "numb-nut religious freak" or just some "hardcore Christian."
(As if my argument was predicated on slandering oesh's character in any way)
2. (Speaking of making an argument predicated on attacking someone's character) Satan has been doing that for centuries as a means to recruit his followers.
3. "Zero" did not address these prophecies in any of his argument
(see seven problems with prophecy, sections 3, 4, 5, and 6, along with the section "Response specifically to oeshpdog2"
4. But if you are a true student of the Bible...
(It should be noted that I almost touched on the self-sealing fallacy
in the Philosophy 101 section, but didn't because I thought it was obvious enough. I will explain it in depth later if this continues)
I could go on, but a thorough reading of his piece will render such passages impossible to ignore. I would also request specific answers to many of my charges that didn't seem to materialize here (perhaps they are just coming later), such as the vaguery of most biblical prophecy, the inaccuracy of prophecy (such as the Tyre prophecy, see seven problems with prophecy, section 6
I would also like to know, out of sheer curiosity, why oesh keeps putting my name in quotations, as if I'm somehow deceiving him. It makes me feel like at any moment I'm bound to hear, "Well that's a pretty lousy argument "Zero" - if that is your real name..."
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of skepticism...but even good things can be taken too far.
Oesh also concluded his first response by saying that he was going to move on to talking about science as it is taught in the bible. I have, neither as a threat or attempt at intimidation, advised him against this. Perhaps some of the commenters here can echo this sentiment if they think it may not be the best strategy...
Honestly, I was content to leave our blogalog where it stood on prophecy, but I decided to give one more response (even though that response required a great deal of repitition on my end). Sadly, I can't help but feel it's drawing to a close (I'm sure I get this feeling from the need to repeat myself). That would be fine, I guess. I'm happy at this point to leave the decision of who has made the better case to you, our mutual readership.
We'll see where it goes.