Friday, January 07, 2011

Joseph of Arimathea: Atheist "DagoodS" Fallaciously Asserts Alleged Biblical "Contradictions" (Lousy Atheist Exegesis Example #5672)

Joseph of Arimathea, as portrayed by James Mason, in the 1977 film, Jesus of Nazareth


"DagoodS"' words will be in blue.

* * * * *

If I've seen this tendency in atheist "exegesis" once, I've seen it a hundred times. I have noted over and over in my critiques of atheism how our non-believing friends cannot for the life of them approach the Bible with fairness and objectivity.

They will see the slightest difference in two texts and assert "contradiction." They will blithely, with complete arbitrariness, assert later interpolation or mythical, imaginary scenes made up or cynically interjected for partisan/polemical purposes. They will casually claim that a biblical writer was lying through his teeth: without any shred of hard evidence that this is the case. Anything but accept the biblical texts at face value . . .

The following is an absolutely classic example. It come from my friend "DagoodS": whom I have met twice in person. We get along fine and seem to even like each other. I have nothing against the man personally. But I have much against the way he exegetes the Bible, and the massive illogical progressions he makes in his assumptions, arguments, and conclusions drawn from same. My analysis is not a personal condemnation; it is a logical examination; an exercise of reason and critical scrutiny.

DagoodS plays his favorite "see how the Bible contradicts itself for the thousandth time?" game in a post called "Independent Witness in Gospel of John - Part 2" (11-8-10). He starts out asserting the cynical conclusion he wrongly thinks he has demonstrated in his article:

How does the Gospel of John differ from the other three canonical Gospels?

The simple fact: these accounts contradict each other. They contain different details (including different statements, additional items, and fewer items), as well as a general demonstration of increased mythology. . . .

These contradictions are instructive on four points: . . .

The more important the issue, the greater we scrutinize the motive behind the contradiction.

Alright; so he believes there are contradictions in John, over against the Synoptic Gospels, and he adds the nice editorial touch of "increased mythology" as well. Now, let's look at the example of Joseph of Arimathea: one that he thinks is evidence for his conclusion of logical "contradiction," and see how compelling his case is. First, let's look at the four relevant passages that he brings to bear (RSV):

Matthew 27:57-60 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe'a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. [58] He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. [59] And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, [60] and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.

Mark 15:43-36 Joseph of Arimathe'a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. [44] And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. [45] And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. [46] And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

Luke 23:50-53 Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathe'a. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, [51] who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. [52] This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. [53] Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid.

John 19:38-42 After this Joseph of Arimathe'a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. [39] Nicode'mus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. [40] They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. [41] Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. [42] So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Here is how DagoodS describes the four passages (I've added spaces between the passages not in his original):

Mark 15:43 states Joseph of Arimathea was a council member, waiting for the kingdom of God.

Matthew 27:57 demotes Joseph out of the council, making him a “rich man;” but elevates him to a disciple of Jesus.

Luke 23:50-51 places Joseph back on the council, but continues with Mark’s “waiting for the kingdom of god.”

John 19:38 doesn’t speak to Joseph’s income, nor being a council member, but John does go back to Matthew’s position Joseph was a disciple.

Now I shall examine his argument a bit:


Matthew 27:57 demotes Joseph out of the council, making him a “rich man;” but elevates him to a disciple of Jesus.

This is sheer silliness. Even allowing for a certain polemical license of expression, the insinuations he makes are completely absent from the text itself (which is, of course, not exegesis, but eisegesis: reading into the text prior assumptions which aren't actually there). Matthew isn't "demoting" anyone; he simply highlights a different fact: that Joseph was a rich man (rather than saying he was a council member: both aspects denoting importance and position in society).

There is no logical criteria that I can imagine that would absolutely require Matthew to mention the fact that Joseph was a council member. But DagoodS for some strange reason thinks he "demotes" Joseph; he does not, just because he didn't mention that tidbit of information. This is the usual atheist effort to force contradiction into the picture when there clearly is none at all. Matthew hasn't said one way or the other whether Joseph was a member of the council. He doesn't have to.

A true contradiction would be, for example, one passage saying that Joseph was a council member and another expressly denying it. This doesn't occur, so it is plain as day that there is no contradiction with regard to his being a council member; period. Case closed. Two of the passages mention that he is; the other two don't mention it. They don't have to in order to satisfy cynical, skeptical atheists that a contradiction isn't present. The laws of logic themselves take care of that.

He also says that Matthew "elevates" Joseph to the status of disciple of Jesus; implying that this contradicts the other passages. Again, it clearly does not. Matthew isn't "elevating" Joseph over against the other accounts. John mentions the same thing. The other two Gospel passages note that he was a "good and righteous man" (Luke) who was "looking for the kingdom of God" (Mark and Luke both).

In the New Testament, those who were categorized in such a way were invariably Christians or soon to be (e.g., Acts 11:24, describing Barnabas: "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith"). Therefore, all four passages say essentially the same thing; they merely use different terminology. In the overall New Testament worldview and backdrop, this is evident, but when one microanalyzes and eisegetes texts, and does so cynically, to tear down the trustworthiness of the biblical accounts, all of that is missed. DagoodS' "evidence" is, therefore, an utter non sequitur.

Then he says, "Luke 23:50-51 places Joseph back on the council, . . ." No, Luke (like Mark) mentions that he is on the council; period. It is not in relation to the statements of the other Gospels: as if they would deny this. No one denies the fact; two assert it, the other two are silent. This is very shoddy "reasoning" (not even worthy of the description "reasoning" -- in my opinion).

Then DagoodS seems to think it is an egregious error for John not to mention Joseph's income or status as council member. But one can plausibly argue, I think, that Joseph's status, at least as a rich person, if not a council member, is strongly implied in John, because he is asking for the body of Jesus. Why?: to bury His body, of course. But one can't simply bury a body anywhere. In this case, the place was a tomb, hewn out of rock (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and implied in John by the definition of a tomb).

These were private property, generally used by persons of some means, who were able to afford them. It's no different today: rich people often have elaborate mausoleums of rock, while poorer folks go into the ground with a usually humble marker. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to posit that Joseph owned the tomb in question. In Matthew it states that it is his own tomb, which makes perfect sense.

The entire argument is sheer silliness. To give an analogy, imagine the following four statements about John F. Kennedy, made in April 1960:

1) There came a rich man from Boston, named John F. Kennedy, who was the Democratic nominee for President.

2) John F. Kennedy, a respected member of the Senate, who was the Democratic contender for the Presidency.

3) Now there was a man named John F. Kennedy from New England. He was a member of the Senate, and ran for President.

4) After this John F. Kennedy, who decided to attain to the office of President of the United States . . .

Now, are these four statements contradictory? No, of course not. Would anyone in their right mind even think to claim that they were? No. It would never cross anyone's mind (including DagoodS' own mind). Everyone knows they are not because they simply highlight different facts about Kennedy. Two say where he was from (in different terms: city vs. larger area). One said he was rich; two said he was a Senator. All four said he ran for President (just as all four gospel passages indicate that Joseph was a righteous man and/or a Christian).

They don't have to be identical to not be contradictory or to save the people who wrote them from being accused of fudging facts or manipulating them. This is the usual atheist fallacy in biblical exegesis. The four descriptions can mention different things about him (rich, Bostonian, Senator, Presidential nominee). They can use different terms (ran for, contender, nominee, attain to the office of). They're all consistent with each other and non-contradictory. I am particularly amused by Dagoods' assertion of "a general demonstration of increased mythology" in John. The only "mythology" here is fictional, imaginary "contradictions" that do not exist in fact.

Yet when it comes to the Bible and the atheist obsession with tearing it down at all costs, (to justify and rationalize their own disbelief in its inspiration or at least trustworthiness as history) all of this plain common sense and logic goes out the window and all of a sudden "contradictions" are dreamt up and created out of thin air.

But DagoodS goes beyond even these silly, irrelevant assertions. He editorializes with complete arbitrariness:

What we start to see is a pattern where Matthew tends to disagree with Mark. Luke attempts to combine combination of Mark and Matthew. John appears to pick and choose from Matthew and Luke (or both).

At least he is honest enough to candidly admit yet another major hostile presupposition of his:

John’s use of Joseph is a strong indication this story was (at least in part) dependent on another source. Primarily because Joseph is a fictional character created by Mark.

Right. Who could possibly doubt it?

In a combox comment for the same post, DagoodS comes up with one of his innumerable arbitrary theories (this time about Luke's alleged biases):

. . . one can see why Luke chose Mark over Matthew here. Luke has a recurring theme throughout his Gospel against being rich. While Mark and Matthew mention polemics against rich people, they do not to the extent Luke does. Luke has nothing good to say about rich people.

This is untrue. It's unwise to make sweeping statements of this sort unless one is very sure of their truthfulness. DagoodS apparently missed reading the story of Zaccheus, a rich man who is presented quite favorably:

Luke 19:2-10 And there was a man named Zacchae'us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. [3] And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchae'us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." [6] So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." [8] And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." [9] And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

Further, Luke tends to write against Jews in Gentile cities (see Acts) but is not quite so harsh within Palestine. Luke is the only author to record Pharisees helping Jesus (Luke 13:31) as well as including Gamaliel’s support. Or at least neutrality. (Acts 5:34-40).

Wrong again. DagoodS is very sloppy in presenting his alleged "facts." Nicodemus was certainly a friend of Jesus, and he appears in John only. He is described as "a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews" (Jn 3:1), and a disciple of Jesus: "who had gone to him before, and who was one of them" (Jn 7:50), and also as helping to prepare Jesus' body for burial (Jn 19:39). Joseph of Arimathea himself was more than likely a Pharisee as well, since the Sanhedrin at that time was dominated by them.

But Nicodemus poses no problem for DagoodS (even if made aware of this objection) because, of course, he always has the "ejector seat" arbitrary solution of rendering anyone a fictional character when it suits his purpose. Hence in another post he wrote:

. . . the various accounts are contradictory . . . We will first complete our discussion regarding the contradictions in John to demonstrate the apologist comes to a point they must choose how John could possibly be historical . . . Myth development, lack of historicity and agenda-driven writing explain these problems easily. Claiming every account is factually and historical accurate causes one whiplash and strained explanations. . . . Christian’s wouldn’t dare make up a story regarding a council member. But...er…what about Nicodemus? Mark, Matthew and Luke forget to mention him. If Mark, Matthew and Luke were compelled to mention Joseph (because the apologist claims it is true) why didn’t they fell the same compulsion with Nicodemus? If Nicodemus is not true, then John made him up. Why couldn’t the others have made up Joseph of Arimethea for the same reasons?

DagoodS also seems blissfully unaware that the early Christians themselves were from within the Pharisaical tradition, which is why Jesus said that their authority was binding even for Christians (Matthew 23:2-3), even though they were too often hypocrites. Jesus followed many Pharisaical traditions Himself, and Paul referred to himself as a Pharisee three times (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Philippians 3:5).

For Luke, the trade-off between Mark’s council-member Joseph as compared to Matthew’s rich Joseph resulted in choosing Mark’s account. Interestingly, Luke goes out of his way to emphasize Joseph did not agree with Jesus’ conviction. Luke prefers a neutral or slightly supportive council member over a rich person.

Since his premises are wrong, (as just shown) the conclusions he draws from them also are.

* * *

If John truly was independent from the Gospels, he may have utilized Nicodemus, but he never would have known to use Joseph. He never would have heard of him! The ONLY way for John to even know about Joseph is through the Synoptics.

Is that so? The "ONLY" way, huh? How about the little inconvenient fact that John was actually present at the cross during the crucifixion (Jn 19:26: "disciple whom he loved"; the description John habitually uses of himself: cf. Jn 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20)? Jesus was talking to John right before He died (19:26-27). Shortly after He died, the body had to be buried, because of the Sabbath. Therefore, John would have seen Joseph himself (19:38 ff.). Yet DagoodS claims that he could "ONLY" know of the man at all by means of the Synoptic Gospels. That is sheer nonsense. DagoodS seems to not even be aware that John was present at the cross. Hence he writes in a second paper (linked below):

. . . making the abandonment of Jesus complete by all persons.

DagoodS always has the convenient "out" of the invention of falsely alleged mythology in the biblical texts, or claiming later interpolation, or deliberate corruption, or denying that John actually wrote the Gospel by that name, etc. There is always an easy out. So he thinks . . . One mustn't interpret the texts at face value and try to harmonize them. That would never do. That's a naughty no-no. It's Rule #1 in Atrocious Atheist Eisegesis.

DagoodS then proceeds to play his same silly game with the four burial accounts:

Mark 15:46 says Joseph laid Jesus in a tomb. Matt. 27:60 says it was Joseph’s new tomb. Luke 23:53 agrees it was new (no one had ever been in it) but retracts from saying it was Joseph’s. John 19:41 follows Luke, saying it was a new tomb, no mention of it being Joseph’s. Again, we have the authors either not completely stating the facts, OR disagreeing with each other. Again, the inerrantist could claim it was “Joseph’s new tomb” but only Matthew provides the full description. Mark (our earliest source) left out the fact it was new and Joseph’s, Luke and John both leave out the fact it was Joseph’s.

The same fallacies are so utterly apparent again in this example, that I need not point out any particulars. It's self-evident that contradiction is not present. DagoodS goes on to his wrongheaded conclusion, based on wrongheaded illogical progression all the way through his "argument":

Time and time and time again, we see discrepancies in these accounts. One, two or a few may cause us to scratch our heads. But when it becomes almost every single detail, we question the accuracy for the reasons state above: lack of credibility and reliability.

There was certainly no "discrepancy" in the above accounts. DagoodS trumps them up, but (with all due respect) his attempt badly fails. He thinks this is an example of biblical contradiction. But it is not. It just isn't. Either DagoodS failed Logic 0101 (I took five philosophy courses in college including logic) or his mind is so severely biased in this instance that logical thought -- that he does indeed understand -- is completely overwhelmed by the severe bias. The man is no dummy (he's an attorney). He knows better: way better than this. But his bias blinds him.

DagoodS puts the argument in even more ludicrous terms in an earlier paper ("Women at Empty Tomb" -- 2-23-10):

A minor excursion here is helpful to demonstrate how myth development is demonstrated in the gospels. In Mark, Joseph is a council member, “waiting for the Kingdom of God” and puts Jesus in a tomb. Matthew removes Joseph’s status as a Sanhedrin member, refers to him as a rich man, but now Joseph has become a disciple of Jesus, and Jesus is laid in Joseph’s personal tomb. (Matthew 27:57-60) Luke reinstates Joseph as a council member, adds he was a “good and just man” as well as indicated Joseph dissented from the conviction of Jesus. Luke states the tomb had never been used. (Luke 23:50-53) John also agrees the tomb has never been used, agrees with Matthew (against Mark and Luke) that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, and adds Nicodemus as a co-conspirator with Joseph. (John 19:38-41).

He proceeds from the ridiculous to the downright laughable and surreal:

In first century Palestine, burials and tombs were family matters. A person would be buried in a family tomb; the family was expected to perform the burial rites. Mark is writing a story of abandonment. Christ has already predicted all will abandon him. (Mark 14:27) Who would be expected to normally bury Jesus? His father, Joseph, and his mother, Mary. Mark is deliberately emphasizing Jesus’ own family abandoning him in the end. In case we are too thick to get it, he introduces “Joseph of Arimathea” to play the part of Jesus’ father Joseph, and two Mary’s to play the part of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Not convinced? What are the chances Joseph, Jesus’ dad, is unavailable and the name of the person who is available also happens to be named Joseph?

The chances of Joseph, Jesus' father being unavailable are very good, seeing that he was dead at the time! He is never mentioned during the ministry of Jesus, which is why Christian tradition has always held that he was dead by then (he was mentioned when Jesus was twelve, at the Temple, but that was about 21 years earlier).

Dagoods -- appropriately, after such a poor performance -- drowns in his own "reasoning" again because he himself notes that "burials and tombs were family matters. A person would be buried in a family tomb." Yes, exactly. But he wants to argue for "abandonment" from the family (not accepting that Joseph was dead). Mary the mother of Jesus was at the cross. She certainly didn't abandon her Son. Ten disciples (and Judas) did, but not Mary.

So His surviving parent was with Him in His horrible death agony. But she could hardly have been expected to bury Him quickly, with the Sabbath approaching, since the family burial site would have been in Nazareth, not Jerusalem (about 65 miles away). So with darkness fast approaching after Jesus' death, would DagoodS expect a grieving mother to transport the body of her Son 65 miles away to the family burial site? What, on a high-speed train? Super-fast camels? Angels, maybe? I guess so; otherwise, why would he protest so loudly in his anti-biblical polemics about the burial process? Why can't he see the obvious? Does he not know that Jesus was from Nazareth, in Galilee? He knows; he is simply being illogical again in his zeal (we do detect a distinct theme). We know that he knows, because he wrote elsewhere:

. . . tombs were family affairs in the First Century, and if Jesus’ family did have a tomb, it would have been in his home town in Galilee. It would be perfectly natural to use this nearby cave for a temporary tomb (because of the oncoming Sabbath,) . . .

This being the case, a quick solution was arrived at: Joseph was a rich man and disciple of Jesus, who had his own tomb nearby, and he offered it for use: a thing perfectly sensible, plausible, and understandable (i.e., unless one has a hostile bias against it from the start). This is no more contradictory or unable to be believed as a true historical account than the other so-called discrepancies or contradictions in the descriptions of Joseph of Arimathea.

DagoodS then lays his unfounded biases bare, in his candid admission:

This is a strong example Mark’s author was deliberately modifying facts…making things up…to make a point. Mark loves to use the unexpected—role reversal. We see this theme replete through Mark.

Discrepancies and contradictions are indeed present here, but they are to be found, rather, in the illogical, shoddy thought processes and eisegesis of DagoodS rather than in the biblical texts under consideration.

32 comments:

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

What is the standard or method you use to determine a contradiction?

Stan Williams said...

It is a relief to know that DagoodS will soon be forgotten but the characters in the Gospels will be honored for eternity. There are no contradictions in reality, only in polemics, as DagoodS has reminded us, yet again. Dave, I know you take time to detail the stupidity of atheists (the term defines the fallacy of cognition - "all that can be known I know") but I fear that DagoodS' ego will be bolstered by the attention you give him. Yet we don't need to encourage those that love to argue from irrationality or ignorance. Ignoring them, or referring to them anonymously might get your argument out without giving such the dignity of acknowledgment which they do not deserve. They are better referenced as eternity will "remember" them. Not.

Robert said...

Dave, I'd like to add that you would expect different accounts from different people. If I asked my son, my boss, my wife, my parents, and people of my Church to write a description of me, no two accounts would be the same. Each knows different details about me. Each values different things in me. Each has different language skills and has different language styles. And each would write to different audiences.

DagoodS, Aristotle gave the standard definition of a contradiction. Two statements are contradictory if they cannot both be true and also they cannot both be false. (His explanation is a bit more involved, but this is sufficient). For instance "it rained yesterday and it is sunny today" is not a contradiction and neither is "he said it is raining today but I say it is hot today".

When applying this to the Bible, recognize a few things. First of all, historically it wasn't one book, it was a collection of scrolls that often didn't go together. Secondly, there are different literary styles, some poetic, some historical, some wisdom, etc, and each style uses language differently. Meaning, we shouldn't think that when the Psalms say "the trees clapped their hands" it actually meant anything other than a personal expression of joy on the part of the author. But when it says Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again, it is giving a historical account that can be put to historical-critical scrutiny.

Another thing to point out is that when it comes to numbers, you can't always trust them as being literal, since Jews were big on number symbolism. Any time you see a 7 or a 40 or a 2 or a 3 or a 12 or a 10 or a 6 or a multiple of these, immediately be suspicious that there is another meaning being expressed by the passage. 7 for instance is the number used to represent a covenant vow.

So when Genesis 7 says that seven "clean" animals of each type were carried on Noah's Ark, we know that we are speaking symbolically and when Genesis 6 says that animals were put in two by two we also know it is speaking symbolically (every animal had a mate). Two different symbolisms are used by the same genesis author. It appears to be a contradiction, but it isn't. So how many animals of each kind went on the ark? We don't know, Jews at the time didn't care, and it really is irrelevant. If Noah took the toe nail clippings of each animal and put on the ark and God "cloned" each animal after the flood, it would not change what Genesis was trying to express.

Dave Armstrong said...

What is the standard or method you use to determine a contradiction?

Robert provided a useful quick definition from Aristotle. For extreme depth on the matter, see:

"Contradiction" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

What's your method, DagoodS? Any slightest shade of difference in a text, or one not mentioning something or adding another detail, is automatically a "contradiction"? It would seem so, from the flimsy "reasoning" you have offered us in the present case and the weak, highly debatable conclusions you draw from same.

To my good friend Stan,

I approach things a bit differently than that (as I think you know)! We seem to have a big disagreement on method. I think we can be friends with atheists by stressing the many things that we still hold in common. I get along far better with them than I do with anti-Catholic Protestants (because the latter position is largely prejudice-based and immediately viciously self-contradictory). Not all of 'em, but ones like DagoodS (and there are a considerable number like him) who are able and willing to engage in normal discourse.

Within a friendship there can be friendly debate and back-and-forth (think of, e.g., Chesterton and Shaw, or Bertrand Russell and Fr. Copleston). I immensely enjoy it, myself. My apologetic, philosophical, inquiring mind tires of always talking with Christians I agree with. I want challenge and stimulation. I'm a Christian first but I am also a thinker, and the thinker likes stimulation and challenge and broadening of intellectual horizons.

Thirdly, I like to offer dialogues as a pedagogical, teaching method, to illustrate the faults and flaws (in this instance) of atheist thinking. I don't expect to convince DagoodS (ain't holding my breath), but I can show many hundreds, maybe eventually thousands of others that his reasoning doesn't fly, when he attacks the Bible and/or Christianity. I do that by directly confronting and refuting it.

And who knows? DagoodS and other atheists and agnostics might be convinced in the long run, at least of some things. C. S. Lewis was an atheist. Tolkien and others didn't ignore him. They befriended him, and he eventually came around. Many other cases have occurred. I used to be a "practical atheist" myself (living as if God's existence makes no difference in life). I did that pretty much the first 18 years of my life. If Christians had ignored me I might still be in that place (though I highly doubt it).

Atheists almost certainly ain't gonna come around if we shun and insult them and psychoanalyze their interior motivations. We can go after their arguments, though. And I do that vigorously!

DagoodS may have ill motives (just like anyone might). I don't know that, and I would say it is very difficult to know. I prefer to stick to a man's arguments and leave his soul to God and his closest friends that he shares his deepest thoughts and motivations with.

I agree on your method, but with a different target audience: anti-Catholic Protestants. They don't deserve any attention beyond basic refutations. But even there it is a dilemma because they lead Catholics astray and so someone should oppose and refute them. I have often in the past, but I don't any longer because it is an insult to my intelligence (and that of my readers).

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

I want to make sure I have this clear. Last time trouble arose because I relied upon the exact same link above.

1) Is your method that contradictions can be resolved by any logical explanation? (such as indicated in the link) OR

2) That contradictions exist by weighing to see if there is a plausible (not just logical) explanation that can account for it and defeat the suggestion of contradiction. And not just plausible, but more plausible and believable than the opposing view?


As to my method…I’m wondering whether you could help me out, here. I puzzle as to my communication skills, to see how well I have expressed it. We have discussed this multiple times, I have consistently stated my method repeatedly over the years and numerous blog entries.

What do you think I claim my method is?

If you don’t know—that’s fine—I am curious how well I have communicated it.

Dave Armstrong said...

That's all ring around the rosey; sorry. You are assuming going in, that there is a logical contradiction in these passages. As far as I am concerned you have not come within a million miles of showing that there is. I deny your premise, in other words (it always comes down to that with us, so it seems).

You would be laughed out of every introductory logic class in the world if you come around saying that it is a contradiction for me (or the Gospel writers) to say that Joseph is rich in one statement, and a disciple in another, and a council member in a
third.

Dave Armstrong said...

You understand logic (in the sense we have defined it above), because you wrote in your piece, "Is Christianity Logical?" (10-23-07):

=============

Yet one area in which the Bible must bend to the human is in the area of philosophy. People, including Christians, would like to be assured their belief is logically coherent. That their worldview is consistent. . . .

Take the very basic premise of logic—the law of non-contradiction. “A ≠ non-A.” Simply put, something cannot both be something, and at the same time NOT be the very same thing. We cannot exist and non-exist at the same moment. 0 cannot equal 1 (or “non 0” if you prefer.)

The reason for this premise is both for consistency in living out reality, as well as ability to communicate. When I say “The apple is in my hand” if “A = non-A” this sentence could mean:

“The apple is out of my hand.”
“The orange is in my hand.”
“The orange is out of my hand.”
“The apple is in my mouth.”
“The orange is out of my mouth.”

While some those statements could also be true, the point of the statement “The apple is in my hand” is to communicate a certain fact consistent with the words I am proclaiming. If logic fails, we are unable to consistently communicate, because words can have a variety of meanings, inconsistent with each other. We’d never know what the other person was saying.

===================

Exactly. Thank you. So why do you want to play games with ridiculous candidates for supposed biblical "contradictions"? And why do you hide under sophistical, evasive counter-questions and rabbit trails when challenged, rather than simply interact with the critique and overcome it?

If I'm wrong, show me where and how. We agree on what logical contradiction is, based on what you wrote in this post in 2007. Or have you now ditched classical syllogistic logic along with Christianity? That would explain a lot, if so.

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

I am attempting to get clarification, that’s all. Can’t I ask the question? Don’t you want me to avoid creating strawmen about your position? All I want to know is what method you use to determine a contradiction.

1) Is your method that contradictions can be resolved by any logical explanation? (such as indicated in the link) OR

2) That contradictions exist by weighing to see if there is a plausible (not just logical) explanation that can account for it and defeat the suggestion of contradiction. And not just plausible, but more plausible and believable than the opposing view?

If you don’t want to answer my question—if you don’t want me to be clear on your position—you are quite, quite free to say, “I won’t answer your question.” I assure you, I will wander off and not bother you again on this issue.

Dave Armstrong said...

And for the second time, this is a rabbit trail and an obfuscation and I refuse to go down that road (I've touched on it in the past, including in person, and it was to no avail anyway. We both know what a logical contradiction is. You showed that you do by the post I cited of yours.

Your task was to show some contradiction in the Joseph of Arimathea accounts, and you haven't done so. Period. If you were so confident in your case you would counter-reply and refute my post. Your "reasoning" here may have impressed your atheist friends who are already predisposed against the Bible, but no one else, I highly suspect.

Once it is exposed for the shoddy piece of polemical reasoning that it was, it looks rather foolish.

Nothing personal . . .

DagoodS said...

Dave Armstrong,

There has been a tremendous misunderstanding regarding my method of determining contradictions in accounts. I think you utilize a different method. In order to avoid committing the same misunderstanding, I wanted to first make sure what your method was. I have repeatedly asked a genuine question towards that end, and you don’t want to answer it.

I enjoy biblical and theistic discussions. But this…I don’t know what this is. You won’t provide clarification, you (and your readers) apparently believe I am a blithering idiot (Seriously? You believe I am so stupid to claim it is logically impossible to be both rich and a council member? Really?) and you dislike the manner I respond.

I once had a professor explain the value of charity in arguments. It is to FIRST assume I didn’t understand my opponent’s position BEFORE believing they are wrong. By doing this, often questions and clarity resolves many perceived differences before focusing on the issues.

Not seeing any of that here; not even seeing an attempt.

So…have fun. Write with whatever derogatory terms you want, utilize invectives, insults and feigned umbrage. Make up whatever strawmen you would like about my position.. Avoid my attempts to clarify and explain. Don’t use charity towards my arguments, nor charity toward me.

In short, do to me that which you don’t like done to yourself. (I thought you guys had a rule regarding that.*grin*) Knock your socks off.

Have fun.

Dave Armstrong said...

I have repeatedly asked a genuine question towards that end, and you don’t want to answer it.

That's poppycock. You wanted a definition of "contradiction" and I agreed with the short one from Aristotle and then gave a link to a long article. I also cited your own words in a past article, thus proving that you understand the same definition.

Dave Armstrong said...

I enjoy biblical and theistic discussions. But this…I don’t know what this is. You won’t provide clarification,

I did, as explained in the last post. That is quite sufficient. There is nothing at all suspicious, fishy, awry, with the four passages about Joseph. There is no indication that dishonesty or text altercation is in play. Yet you think there is something wrong about them. You haven't shown it.

you (and your readers) apparently believe I am a blithering idiot

To the contrary, I have said several times that you are very intelligent. You have some false premises that lead you astray (like we all do at times; only a matter of degree).

(Seriously? You believe I am so stupid to claim it is logically impossible to be both rich and a council member? Really?) and you dislike the manner I respond.

Yet you make out that there is something suspicious about the passages. You're the one who throws around the word "contradiction". People have a definite idea of what the word means. The atheist polemic about Bible "contradictions" has a long pedigree. Don't insult our intelligence by making out that we don't know what you are trying to imply with your arguments there.

I once had a professor explain the value of charity in arguments. It is to FIRST assume I didn’t understand my opponent’s position BEFORE believing they are wrong. By doing this, often questions and clarity resolves many perceived differences before focusing on the issues.

Not seeing any of that here; not even seeing an attempt.


I clarified in three different ways what I mean by "contradiction" and you keep asking, and now accuse me of lack of charity.

You just don't like being disagreed with.

So…have fun. Write with whatever derogatory terms you want, utilize invectives, insults and feigned umbrage.

Right . . . another atheist who can't take any criticism and has to lash out at the Christian making it . . . how boring.

Make up whatever strawmen you would like about my position.. Avoid my attempts to clarify and explain. Don’t use charity towards my arguments, nor charity toward me.

And don't ever engage the actual argument I made; just obfuscate and beat words to death, as if folks don't know what the word "contradiction" means.

Dave Armstrong said...

In short, do to me that which you don’t like done to yourself. (I thought you guys had a rule regarding that.*grin*) Knock your socks off.

Have fun.


If I think it is worthwhile to refute further of your "alleged biblical contradictions" posts I will do so, whether you respond or not. Your choice. You chose to get all hot and bothered about all this.

Are you determined to make me agree with my friend Stan about your ego, after I defended you and eschewed personal remarks?

Problems with you only arise (as I see it) when you are embarrassed that shoddy reasoning of yours has been shot down. That's not supposed to happen, so when it does, you don't like it, and obfuscate by playing word games, bring it down to a personal level, or just split without reply (as in the abortion go-around).

It's not that we think you are stupid (I certainly don't). Usually it is the other way around: atheists routinely regard Christians as dumb and clueless about many things (including logic). Thus, you think that your criticisms of our faith, God, the Bible, will go unanswered, as if there is no possible answer. But we're not gonna lay down and die (at least not apologists like myself). If you give a bad argument, then it'll be responded to and refuted.

The hope is that you could recognize that you blew it and admit it. But no; instead we get all the histrionics and bitter renunciations of those oh-so-uncharitable Christians.

If you're gonna write publicly about the Christian faith, then you can't be so sensitive to any criticism. If you don't want public exchanges with Christians, then just write privately to your buddies. It's real simple.

Dave Armstrong said...

Is your method that contradictions can be resolved by any logical explanation?

A true logical contradiction cannot be resolved, by the nature of the case (thus the very question is confused and silly). It is what it is. A contradiction cannot become a non-contradiction because that would be a contradiction! LOL

Dave Armstrong said...

DagoodS is now whining about how we Christians think atheists (and he himself) are stupid. I have never said that. I don't think such a sweeping statement could be found in any of my writings (I critique individual arguments). Nothing in my writing against atheism remotely approaches the caustic, prejudiced nature of the following statement of DagoodS on his blog:

===============

Look, we think theism is wrong. As wrong as a geocentric solar system. As wrong as a 6000-year-old, flat earth, global-flood, demon-possessing, Mary-in-a-Grilled-Cheese, geocentric solar system.

Which, like people wearing tin-foil hats to protect themselves from government rays, we would normally laugh off and let live their lives in peace. But Christians don’t stop there. They take these beliefs and discriminate against homosexuals, and attempt to push prayers on those who don’t believe as they do, and demand money (oh the money) and privileges to maintain these beliefs.

At that point I say, “No.” And they cry, “Intolerance.”

("New Atheism," [7-9-10] )

==========

This is how low he regards theism on the scale of things: like belief in a flat earth or someone wearing a tin foil hat, etc. He said it. I don't see why we should doubt his word.

Now, if you think someone is this much of an idiot, why would you waste time debating him? Hence, DagoodS takes a pass in debating me. He's consistent. I don't waste my time debating flat-earthers. I don't even debate geocentrists (as my readers well know from recent conflicts!).

Dave Armstrong said...

As another example of DagoodS approach in debate, we went back and forth on the Bible's view of women:

Dialogue With Atheists on a Supposedly Sexist, Misogynist Bible and Christianity, and on Female Atheist Disdain for Christian Women as Abused "Sheep" (9-20-10)

His words were in purple. It was extremely involved, but in the end he left me in a position where I had to either be dishonest or admit that the Bible sanctions wife-beating or the-wife-as-a-slave. I wrote:

============

[DagoodS'] final post . . . left me the choice between being an advocate of wife-beating in practice and in the Bible, or being a dishonest, special pleading sophist, because I vehemently deny that what DagoodS claims is clear biblical teaching is what the Bible teaches at all. When those are the choices one is given (the two cages or rubber rooms they are forced into), constructive discussion has long since ceased to exist, because the opponent in effect "demands" that one be an evil or at the least, deliberately dishonest person.

True discussion becomes literally impossible under those loaded conditions. I refuse the choice and deny and reject both things. [DagoodS] thinks I can't do that. Great; then [DagoodS] has exploded any possible discussion. His choice . . . not mine. I think even he knew that because he said he was done in the thread, and that insinuates that he believes I can't possibly give any reply that would be worth any more of his time, because, well, I'm either violently evil or dishonest, and his position is self-evidently true (or at least infallible after he states and argues it). Makes perfect sense if one adopts the absurd and fact-torturing premises involved . . . But the inconvenient fact is that I don't accept them.

=====================

This is how discussions with DagooDs end. We see how the present one did. This is how that one did. In our recent discussion on abortion in the Bible he simply said he had lost interest and was bored.

He doesn't like being disagreed with. He's not alone in that trait. Most people are like that, I find. He loves to lecture and put down Christianity (and sometimes Christians); he ain't nearly as interested in the discussion once a Christian deigns to offer replies to his arguments.

In short, it's DagoodS' way or the highway . . .

I will talk to anyone who is willing, and I will do so cordially. But if the other party isn't willing to do the same, good dialogue can't happen.

Jon said...

Here's a concrete example.

One biblical text says that Judas died by hanging himself. Another says that he died falling headlong over a cliff and his guts spewed upon the rocks.

By one standard (any logically possible reconciliation resolves the contradiction) this is not a contradiction. He could have hung himself on a springy branch that somehow broke and flipped him over to where he fell headlong over a cliff. But by that standard no two accounts of his death would be contradictory. If one said he was shot in the head and the other said he drowned you could say he was shot but survived long enough to make it to water and he drops his head in. Die in a car accident and fall off a building. You could reconcile these in absurd ways. Not contradictory.

By another standard (what is more plausible, the far-fetched reconciliation or that the two authors didn't believe the same things) it is a contradiction. DagoodS uses this latter standard and Dave uses the former.

Is it really worth it to talk about "atheist stupidity", that we are forgettable, use "flimsy reasoning", come to "weak conclusions," etc. Dave, you say that you shouldn't insult atheists like DagoodS and your next post says he would be "laughed out of introductory logic classes" and it your next post it's about how he's "ridiculous." I'm not in the slightest worried about his feelings because he's done this long enough to hear this repeatedly, but I think we could do without this if you want productive conversation.

Maybe J of A doesn't rise to the level of contradiction on the second standard of evaluating it. But why not at least acknowledge clearly that you are following a different standard and address J of A based on that revised standard. Do you think the insults are helpful? This rate of insult is quite high, especially in light of his repeated insult free responses. Intelligent, non-belligerent atheists aren't going to stick around very long in this environment.

Dave Armstrong said...

I have added a few more sections. For example, DagoodS states:

"Luke has nothing good to say about rich people."

Then he builds one of his foolish skeptical, self-serving theories (eisegesis) upon this. But the premise is unfortunately incorrect, as seen in the story of Zaccheus, a rich man who is presented very positively (Lk 19:2-10).

Then he falsely states:

Luke is the only author to record Pharisees helping Jesus

This guy desperately needs some Bible search tools. Nicodemus was a friend of Jesus, too, and he is discussed in John only. He's described as "a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews" (Jn 3:1).

Joseph of Arimathea was also quite likely a Pharisee, since the Sanhedrin was dominated by them in Jesus' time. But of course we already know from our atheist Bible Eisegete Extraordinaire, that Joseph was merely a fictional character.

DagoodS doesn't even know that the disciple John was present at the cross, hence he writes: "making the abandonment of Jesus complete by all persons."

Tsk tsk tsk . . . it's a case study in misguided confidence and shoddy argumentation and inaccurate portrayal of the relevant facts of the matter.

Dave Armstrong said...

Nor did Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus abandon Jesus, since they were there to take care of His burial (and both are described as His disciple or follower). And His mother and some other women were present. That is scarcely consistent with a notion of complete abandonment

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Jon,

Here's a concrete example.

One biblical text says that Judas died by hanging himself. Another says that he died falling headlong over a cliff and his guts spewed upon the rocks.

By one standard (any logically possible reconciliation resolves the contradiction) this is not a contradiction. He could have hung himself on a springy branch that somehow broke and flipped him over to where he fell headlong over a cliff. But by that standard no two accounts of his death would be contradictory.


No; it is simply one speculative explanation for these two accounts.

If one said he was shot in the head and the other said he drowned you could say he was shot but survived long enough to make it to water and he drops his head in.

That's entirely possible. One person could see someone shot and then fall, but not see him go into the water (obstructed vision). A second could miss the shot part, but see him go into the water and drown. Both are correct; both are incomplete as to the entire cause.

Die in a car accident and fall off a building. You could reconcile these in absurd ways. Not contradictory.

Nice failed attempt at reductio. Obviously there are degrees of plausibility, but you guys place the bar too high when it comes to the Bible: far higher than non-biblical matters.

Dave Armstrong said...

By another standard (what is more plausible, the far-fetched reconciliation or that the two authors didn't believe the same things) it is a contradiction. DagoodS uses this latter standard and Dave uses the former.

If they actually contradicted you would have a point, but they simply do not. You are predisposed to see biblical conflicts and clashes and "contradictions" so you see them. Our presupposition is biblical inspiration so we don't see these like you do.

There are whole books about biblical difficulties to work through; we know that. But we don't approach the Bible with a hostile outlook, just as a scientists is not against a scientific theory otherwise solid, but for some anomalies in it that can't yet be worked out.

Is it really worth it to talk about "atheist stupidity",

I didn't write that, Stan did, and I immediately dissented and protested against it. So don't tar me with that. I sided with you atheists over my own friend. And that's okay. We ought to be able to disagree.

that we are forgettable, use "flimsy reasoning", come to "weak conclusions," etc.

I can critique bad arguments, sure. Nothing wrong with that. It is only thought to be wrong by folks with thin skins who can't seem to handle criticism. It's nothing that yo guys don't say about us all the time. So why the double standard? I can't say that something is a weak conclusion? LOL

Dave, you say that you shouldn't insult atheists like DagoodS and your next post says he would be "laughed out of introductory logic classes"

He would be, with regard to this particular argument of his. I can't help it if he uses lousy reasoning in discussing what a "contradiction" is.

He is just as shoddy in presenting basic NT facts, as I gave examples of a few comments up.

He says about Christians that we are fundamentally illogical and that theism is the equivalent of belief in a flat earth. Why don't you condemn that in all your righteous indignation at insults (real and imagined)? But no, you gotta stick by your atheist friend (who refuses to defend his own arguments and instead wants to play word games and express outrage at how he is treated).

I had the guts to publicly disagree with MY friend, because it is no big deal. We can do that. We're not clones.

and it your next post it's about how he's "ridiculous." I'm not in the slightest worried about his feelings because he's done this long enough to hear this repeatedly, but I think we could do without this if you want productive conversation.

Dave Armstrong said...

If he would answer the critiques rather than digress into the nonsense we have now (just as you did when we debated Galileo, where you accused me of "lawyering" and suchlike), then maybe more good discussion could be had.

You guys can dish it out but you can't take it. That much is very obvious.

Maybe J of A doesn't rise to the level of contradiction on the second standard of evaluating it. But why not at least acknowledge clearly that you are following a different standard

A contradiction is what it is, and is understood widely to be what it is. I refuse to yield up a definition that is so universally held (by atheists and Christians and three-toed green-eyed moth catchers alike).

Why don't you and DagoodS SIMPLY REPLY TO MY ARGUMENTS? Is that so difficult and incomprehensible? Instead you do the time-honored "method" of insulting the person you are unable or unwilling to reply to: go after the person rather than dispute his arguments.

and address J of A based on that revised standard. Do you think the insults are helpful?

When you guys stop "insulting" what you think are lousy Christian arguments and beliefs I will do the same. Deal? I'm not one to mince words. If you can't handle a "ridiculous" or an "absurd" here and there in my writings, then don't read them. It's a free country.

Note, folks, that these protests about insults and call for ultra-charitable dialogue come from a guy who wrote the following:

===================

Have Some Integrity, Roman Catholics

"As far as apologists go I kind of like Roman Catholics. Dave Armstrong may be extremely irrational. But he's always been fairly charitable. . . .

"Since we do see a glimmer of charity in these people, when are we going to see some of them consider the continued sex abuse scandals and their own Pope's involvement and do some re-evaluation. . . . at least consider this. Is your Pope the Vicar of Christ? Seriously?

". . . Keep believing in Mary and all that stuff if you like it, but reject this present hierarchy. Have some bloody integrity. If massive child rape covered up by your hierarchy doesn't get you to reconsider, then what will?"

(dated 3-26-10)

============

Dave Armstrong said...

And in the combox for the same post (3-26-10), our charitable atheist friend wrote:

"I know these brilliant Catholic minds will find creative ways to justify remaining in this institution. There may even be an understandable logic to it. I'm saying get out of apologetics mode for a moment. Step back and look at what you are a part of. You're part of an organization that as an institution covers up and perpetuates child rape.

"But Mt 16:18, feed my lambs, blah, blah, blah. I don't care. You're part of an organization that as an institution covers up and perpetuates child rape. Step back and re-evaluate. I'm not even in a mood to dignify their BS apologetics with a response. You want to believe man was made in a garden out of mud with a talking snake? You want to believe that stars located themselves above a manger or that donkeys talk? I really don't care. These are kids getting raped."

Dave Armstrong said...

That's real conducive to mutually-respectful conversation, ain't it Jon?

Yet if I call a clearly illogical argument "ridiculous" or "absurd" here you are crying crocodile tears. How dare I say that to the infallible DagoodS!!! As if he is above all criticism in his brilliance and profundity . . . he is not, neither are you and I, which is why we all have to accept critiques and man up and defend our arguments in the teeth of them, or else retract and concede.

Again, on 3-29-10 Jon wrote:

"The present Pope appears to have had a hand in covering up child rape. Why not leave that organization and do good as part of another religion? Eastern Orthodox could use more members. They might do more good with additional support, and in that case maybe you're not backing a wicked hierarchy."

So I either have to get out of Catholicism or I have little integrity and am an advocate of child rape. Very charitable and reasonable, isn't it?

Meanwhile the atheist is accountable to no one: not even a God, Whose very existence he is foolish and brazen enough to deny.

Dave Armstrong said...

Intelligent, non-belligerent atheists aren't going to stick around very long in this environment.

You can split if you like. It's irrelevant to me. I will continue to critique public statements of atheists (attacking my Christian faith and the Holy Bible) that don't hold up under scrutiny. You can choose to respond to the critiques or not. If you do, then I'll keep dialoguing with ya. If you don't, then the reading public will see my critique with no reply from y'all and can make up their own minds.

This is usually how it goes. It's nothing new. People of all persuasions (not just atheists) don't like being disagreed with, and so they have various ways to escape being in that situation. I've seen 'em all, having been an apologist for thirty years. I know all the methods people use; all the techniques; all the post facto rationalizations.

I love dialoguing personally with people and trying to be friends with atheists (per my earlier comment) but if you can't take criticism and must make every critique an ad hominem affair and digress into tedium about method (complete with glaring double standards), and then take your ball and bat and go home, then you do what you must, Jon.

I will keep presenting both sides on my site (since there is plenty of atheist material out there), make my arguments, and respect readers of all persuasions enough to follow the truth, as best they can ascertain it by reading both sides of an argument, not just one (which seems to be DagoodS' thing).

Jon said...

Regarding child rape, I think it is outrageous. And so my post reflects my outrage. I don't think that's the same as insulting someone in a conversation.

Another point. There's a difference between the way I behave when I'm actually interacting with someone and the way I behave when I regard myself as amongst friends or like minded people. So for instance if I'm amongst a bunch of atheists I might make some jokes about evangelicals. But when I'm interacting with an evangelical that I respect I would behave differently. Remember when Gingrich's mom told Connie Chung that he thinks Hillary is a bitch? That's Gingrich talking to his mom in private. He's not going to say it to Hillary's face. And Bill, to his credit, understood that this was a private thing and not worth making a big deal out of. He understands that you have to have different expectations when statements are said in different contexts. So when asked about it he said "He'll tell you in one ear and I'll tell you in the other."

So when I said you were "extremely irrational" I know a lot of the people that read my blog and I know they'd think it was kind of funny. I don't actually think that, but I know that people often find you frustrating and unreasonable. But here we are having a discussion. I will do my best to treat you charitably. If you object to my "lawyer up" statement and express an objection I will try to accommodate you. Like the apostle Paul said, be all things to all people. I think it's appropriate to modify your behavior towards people with regards to what you might regard as overly sensitive reactions. That's what charity is about.

But you are right. We can go elsewhere. I wonder if you don't know this, but you come across very differently in written word as opposed to spoken. When we've met you're always very charitable and easy to have a discussion with. For instance I don't think I have ever felt like you were being insulting.

Dave Armstrong said...

More of DagoodS' great charity and tolerance and irenic attitude with Christians who comment on his site:

==============

See, my readers have already heard all these Christian apologetics. Or, if they have not, they feel free to ask questions. ‘Cause I will interact with my readers to the best of my ability. They are free to walk away saying, “I am not convinced” and I don’t throw myself on the floor, pounding my heels crying, “Romans 1:20! Romans 1:20!”

Your apologetic nonsense reminds us how thin the arguments are. How tired, how dried up. How oft-repeated only to keep the faithful in line; unexpected to ever convince anyone with an inquisitive nature.

(11-21-10)

=============

But alas, I am so intolerant towards atheists, according to him and his friend Jon.

Dave Armstrong said...

Regarding child rape, I think it is outrageous. And so my post reflects my outrage. I don't think that's the same as insulting someone in a conversation.

Anyone in his right mind (and with any shred of morals) thinks it is outrageous. You said far more than that. You said the pope was directly involved and that integrity required any Catholic to renounce him and the entire hierarchy.

Another point. There's a difference between the way I behave when I'm actually interacting with someone and the way I behave when I regard myself as amongst friends or like minded people. So for instance if I'm amongst a bunch of atheists I might make some jokes about evangelicals. But when I'm interacting with an evangelical that I respect I would behave differently.

The only problem is that a blog is public, so you have a responsibility to temper your words accordingly.

Remember when Gingrich's mom told Connie Chung that he thinks Hillary is a bitch? That's Gingrich talking to his mom in private. He's not going to say it to Hillary's face.

You made your comments to a public audience of possibly thousands. The analogy to private discussion doesn't fly.

And Bill, to his credit, understood that this was a private thing and not worth making a big deal out of. He understands that you have to have different expectations when statements are said in different contexts. So when asked about it he said "He'll tell you in one ear and I'll tell you in the other."

But that is not what is going on here, so it is irrelevant.

So when I said you were "extremely irrational" I know a lot of the people that read my blog and I know they'd think it was kind of funny. I don't actually think that, but I know that people often find you frustrating and unreasonable.

Oh, that's interesting; so now you wrote an insult as a joke in public when it was not at all evident that it was. It was in the midst of a very serious point indeed.

Dave Armstrong said...

But here we are having a discussion. I will do my best to treat you charitably. If you object to my "lawyer up" statement and express an objection I will try to accommodate you.

I told you that wasn't what I was doing but you knew better and insisted that it was. Nothing I said could dissuade you.

Like the apostle Paul said, be all things to all people. I think it's appropriate to modify your behavior towards people with regards to what you might regard as overly sensitive reactions. That's what charity is about.

Of course. But some folks are so sensitive that nothing is sufficient to make them not react that way. If someone royally dishes out strong criticism it is reasonable to assume that they can handle a vigorous reply. You guys are trashing my religion and faith and what I regard as an inspired document from God. I'm trying to be as nice as I can be about it, but given the insults that are inherent in all such atheist critiques, I should think that you would have a little bit of a thick skin in taking into account how outrageous these critiques are from a Christian perspective.

I still didn't insult DagoodS as a person. I critiqued his arguments. Strong language there, sure, but nothing any whit worse than what virtually every atheist post blasting Christianity entails. So why is it that we cannot make any reply without the charge of being insulting, whereas atheists can always be as insulting as they wish? Why the glaring double standard?

You and DagoodS both made out that I called him "stupid" when I did no such thing. My friend Stan did that, and he made a general statement ("the stupidity of atheists"). I objected to it.

But you are right. We can go elsewhere.

Yes you can. If you can't take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.

Dave Armstrong said...

I wonder if you don't know this, but you come across very differently in written word as opposed to spoken.

That can hardly be avoided in apologetics. It's an occupational hazard. We're always judged harshly because we disagree with folks. The reason is that writing is far, far more substantive and has infinitely more detail. I can critique things to the nth degree if I want to. In-person communication is vastly different. Even if I wanted to make the same points I do in writing, I would never have any remote chance to do so in a crowd of 8-16 atheists. I'm never allowed to talk that long: especially with DagoodS. I'm lucky to make the slightest argument about anything, let alone a sustained, elaborate one.

So I'm seen as a nice guy because I am courteous. But you want to make out that I am so vastly different in writing. I'm not. I'm just able to express more content, so that makes you angry because the Christian is never supposed to have an adequate answer to atheist profundities and wisdom. We're always supposed to be the gullible dumbbells who believe in talking snakes and donkeys (as you delightfully pointed out in a moment of candor) and the cosmic equivalent of Santa Claus, etc.

When we've met you're always very charitable and easy to have a discussion with. For instance I don't think I have ever felt like you were being insulting.

Then if you thought about it long enough you would figure out that I wasn't being insulting to DagoodS in this exchange. You should understand that, having met me. But you won't extend that charity. He can't take strong criticism of his views, so he had to make it personal, and you followed right along, because you have to defend your atheist friend in public (whereas I disagreed openly with my Christian friend).

If he would simply have answered my critique with a counter-argument, just as he does every day in his legal work, then we could have been discussing the issues rather than having this same stupid "meta-discussion" about how to talk and how I supposedly insulted his person when I did not.

I'm far more disgusted about all the "meta-discussion" and hyper-analysis of words than I was with the original argument itself. I want to discuss the ISSUE (that DagoodS initiated and I critiqued), not all this garbage.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dave,

Very well done. But in my opinion, a bit more detailed rebuttal from you than the original statements call for. I would have dismissed them with a much shorter article, frankly.

Friend DagoodS really needs to spend some time studying logic and fallacy, especially non sequitur. I've hardly read more poorly argued points than what he has presented.

I suspect he is quite confident and proud of his approach. Sadly, one would really have to be quite ignorant of text analysis and argument to be taken in by it. This is not to say that there aren't what scholars call "Bible difficulties." But to look for or try to create them where the easiest explanations satisfy is always suspect.

I'm not going to question DagoodS' intelligence. He is articulate and obviously accomplished if has passed the bar. It behooves us, then, to examine his motivation, which you have done quite effectively.

Dave said...

I have noted over and over in my critiques of atheism how our non-believing friends cannot for the life of them approach the Bible with fairness and objectivity.

That's true, and fundamentally it's a spiritual issue. Those who look for contradictions end up creating them in places where true critical assessment cannot produce them. DagoodS seems to have put his own spin on presuppositionalism here as he approaches the text.

DagoodS said...

The more important the issue, the greater we scrutinize the motive behind the contradiction.

Ah, marvelous thing this projection. How about the motives behind the one scrutinising the alleged "contradiction?"

Please tell me friend DagoodS is not a defence attorney. If so, he will not be arguing any cases for me in this lifetime.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Dave Armstrong said...

Very well done.

Thanks. It gets exhausting.

But in my opinion, a bit more detailed rebuttal from you than the original statements call for. I would have dismissed them with a much shorter article, frankly.

Well, my style (quite endearing to my opponents) is to blow the toy boat out of the water with a bazooka. :-)

Friend DagoodS really needs to spend some time studying logic and fallacy, especially non sequitur. I've hardly read more poorly argued points than what he has presented.

I did find it remarkable myself, too.

I suspect he is quite confident and proud of his approach.

He is as long as he isn't challenged. :-)

Sadly, one would really have to be quite ignorant of text analysis and argument to be taken in by it. This is not to say that there aren't what scholars call "Bible difficulties." But to look for or try to create them where the easiest explanations satisfy is always suspect.

Exactly. Atheists are always talking about Occam's Razor (simplest explanation). But that sure ain't applied here, is it?

That's true, and fundamentally it's a spiritual issue.

The spiritual cannot be separated from it. In person I told DagoodS and other atheists present, that it's not just a matter of reason, but also of faith and grace and the will, from a Christian perspective.

Those who look for contradictions end up creating them in places where true critical assessment cannot produce them. DagoodS seems to have put his own spin on presuppositionalism here as he approaches the text.

If there is the remotest, most distant chance of a "contradiction" he'll conjure it up!

Ah, marvelous thing this projection. How about the motives behind the one scrutinising the alleged "contradiction?"

One wonders what can cause a person to "reason" this badly.

Please tell me friend DagoodS is not a defence attorney. If so, he will not be arguing any cases for me in this lifetime.

:-) Let's not pile on too much. I dunno what he does. Maybe he defends Obama's economic policies. :-)