Friday, January 25, 2013

Evolution is False - Verification of Jesus as the Christ


Chipmunk
Someone decided to list 10 reasons why evolution is false. I decided to go through them. Here's my list addressing them so far:

10. Pagan Origins of Evolution
9. Planetary Habitability of Earth
8. Hoaxes
7. Irreducible Order of Life
6. DNA
5. C-14 Dating in Fossil Fuels
4. The Law of Cause and Effect
3. Law of Biogenesis
2. Existence of Constant Virtues


Here's today's argument as to why evolution is false.

The Verification of Jesus as the Christ: The legal maxim and standard of truth is that truth is established to certainty by two or three primary sources of the same event. These sources are tested for conspiring by verifying these sources to be consistent on two or more points without two or three explicit contradictions. The writers of the Gospels testify of what they saw and heard, and they testify to the testimonies of other witnesses. These written testimonies remain for an honest examination before all. The written statements of the Gospels verify the predicted Messiah, His miracles, His fulfilled predictions of Jerusalem’s destruction, and His resurrection. Jesus presented these evidences Himself (John 5:31ff). Being confirmed as the predicted Christ, Jesus testified to the Genesis account of the Creation of the Universe, and His followers trust and know that He is right (Matt. 19:4-9, Mark 10:5-9).
Seriously, this is #1? Welp, here we go!

I'm setting a whole new standard of being a broken record, but I'll say it anyway. This has nothing to do with whether evolution is true or false. It could only be so if the author is assuming that God/evolution are mutually exclusive, and there's many Christians I can point him to, who would disagree.

Therefore, this argument is a non-starter. I'll address it only as an argument as to why Jesus was "the Christ", because it's only relevant to that thesis.

Legal Standards and Epistemology

The legal maxim and standard of truth is that truth is established to certainty by two or three primary sources of the same event. These sources are tested for conspiring by verifying these sources to be consistent on two or more points without two or three explicit contradictions.
Assuming the author's description here is accurate...

I've been on jury duty (it was an interesting process to observe), and I can say that objective evidence far outweighs testimony. Testimony also tends to be slightly more reliable in court, because the witnesses swear an oath to tell the truth, on pain of perjury. We cannot hold people who said things in an old book, who are long dead, to that same standard.We certainly didn't receive any instructions like this stated above when deliberating on the verdict. Outside of any limitations, all we had to do was be convinced the accused was guilty.

The lawyers have particular rules they have to follow too, like not leading the evidence or digressing on irrelevant points, but it certainly was never a requirement on our part that we had to find the testimony of the victims compelling.

Of course, that's assuming that "legal maxim" is referring to legal standards of evidence, which would be a mistake, since court proceedings aren't scientific. Several key differences derail the standards the author is trying to apply:

  • The justice system deals with crisis. Meaning, we have an imminent problem (someone was murdered) and we're trying to figure out who did it and solve the problem, and lock the criminal away. We don't have the luxury of waiting around for good evidence, often is the case. In science, we do. We can wait  until sufficient good evidence is gathered to make a case.
  • Frequently, all we have in court cases is testimony, so we need some kind of system for dealing with that. More importantly, we actually need the witnesses so the lawyers can cross-examine them in court. A book doesn't qualify.

The "legal maxim" is insufficient

Further, this standard sucks. Apparently, all I have to do is write a book that has three primary sources for an event, which only have to have two or three consistent points and no more than two or three explicit contradictions. It could be buried somewhere and then dug up, and whatever claims I wrote in it are now true. Thanks to Carbon-14 dating now being unreliable, we couldn't' date it (woo!).

Doesn't that seem like a dumb standard? 

Setting aside the contradictions between the sources (which clearly the author is), there's a more fundamental problem. It's all coming from the same source - the Bible. 

Basically, the argument boils down to this:
  • Jesus is real and was the son of God, as declared in the Bible.
  • How do we know?
  • The Bible says so
It has a massive problem with contamination. When police are called into some kind of domestic dispute, for example, one of the first things they do is separate out the witnesses. They do that because, when interviewing the witnesses, the witnesses may overhear each other, and form a consensus on what happened. They contaminate each others' testimony. Keeping them independent and clean from one another, cross-examination can reveal some interesting facts. This procedure is executed with reasoned intent.

We don't know how much the books of the Bible were tampered so they agreed with one another. The earliest of the gospels was written decades after the supposed events took place. We have no idea how much the oral traditions for these stories were modified or homogenized before they were even written down. 

In order to be true independent corroborations, as the author's own cited legal maxim requires, the sources would have to be contemporarily written, external to the Bible and having been unmodified since the events. We have no such contemporary extra-biblical evidence - at least, not that I'm aware of.

Nope, we've only got an incredibly dubious book that makes claims it says is true. No circular reasoning there!

Witnesses and Extraordinary Claims

It's even worse than that! The eyewitness testimony is sorely inadequate to establish that some guy can break the laws of physics and is the "son" of a universe-creating entity.

Let's say that we could actually go back in time, and interview these eyewitnesses directly. They were there, and they're talking to us about what they saw. 

That's still sorely inadequate to establish that some guy can break the laws of physics and is the "son" of a universe-creating entity.

The very best we can accomplish is establishing that some event occurred where people think they saw miracles happen. We don't even have to go back in time to find people like that. We can find those people today! We have plenty of people today who believe they saw magic or miracles happen, that they witnessed from some guy (or gal). Those guys and gals are sometimes called "professional magicians" and/or "frauds and hoaxsters". 

Just because some people think they saw something magical doesn't mean they did.

Curiously, well known professional magicians tend to be atheists, in part because they've learned how pathetically easy it is to trick people.

My advise would be, use some freaking common sense (as much as I despise it). Some people claim to have seen something magical happen from someone who claims to be the son of God. It could be one of two possibilities:

  1. The person really was breaking the laws of physics, and really is the son of an undemonstrated violates-all-scientific-laws universe-creating omnipotent omniscient being.
  2. The people were tricked.
#1 isn't just an extraordinary claim. It's an unfathomably extraordinary claim, and it's going to need some damn good evidence to support it.

... Not because some old dusty book written by unverifiable sources says so.

I've often said that I'm willing to accept that some guy probably existed that spawned the Jesus story. That happens. There's a lot of fiction that's based on true stories. A world of difference separates demonstrating that some guy existed, and that some guy could break the laws of physics.

The rest of the argument

The writers of the Gospels testify of what they saw and heard, and they testify to the testimonies of other witnesses.
Yes, amazing. The Gospels say Jesus existed, and the Gospels confirm Jesus existed. Got it.

The written statements of the Gospels verify the predicted Messiah, His miracles, His fulfilled predictions of Jerusalem’s destruction, and His resurrection.
This is when I wish I could summon Richard Carrier. I'm not as fluent with the minute details of Christian/Jewish doctrine, but there are a few things I'd point out.

It's "self-fulfilling prophecy". It isn't any more compelling than ordering a steak dinner at a restaurant, and getting it 20 minutes later. If the Torah had predicted/prophesied X, it doesn't take magic for some writers, hundreds of years later, to claim some guy did X. This is not compelling.

Second, the author has crapped all over those supposed predictions:

The word "mashiach" does not mean "savior." The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word "messiah" that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept. The word "mashiach" will be used throughout this page.
... 
The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as "mashiach ben David" (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.
-Judaism 101 
So much for fulfilling prophesy. Author was not that explicit with what "predictions" were fulfilled, so I can only assume he meant from the Torah (Old Testament), since any predictions from the New Testament would be self-referencing, and therefore, circular reasoning, and therefore, stupid as fuck.

Jesus presented these evidences Himself (John 5:31ff). Being confirmed as the predicted Christ, Jesus testified to the Genesis account of the Creation of the Universe,
That's nice. A fictional character gives evidences for predictions that were made up in the same book of fiction he's in, and he confirms earlier parts of another book of fiction this book of fiction was derived from.

Can we please get on to getting some extra-biblical contemporary evidence? My head is spinning.

 and His followers trust and know that He is right
If author means the followers in the book then... need I say more?

If the author means today's modern followers, then clearly  - clearly it's more likely that some guy who violates all of known reality is more likely to be true, than that these people were indoctrinated since childhood to believe fairy tales. Clearly.


Welp! That's #1. That's the author's "top argument" for why evolution is false.

I have thoughts. I defiantly have thoughts about this whole ordeal. That, however, will come in the summary.

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I award no points for a logical connection with evolution as an argument. I award no points for addressing evolutionary theory. I award no points for successfully making the argument.

Argument score: 0 out of 10
Total score: 6 out of 100

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