Are Atheists Open-Minded?

Do atheists and agnostics actually have open minds to the evidence? Or, are atheists and agnostics too prejudice to consider evidence for God even ex-skeptics turned believers? If a skeptic would be convinced and converted to believe, would he not have to consider the reasoning of those who have converted to believe?

The very admission of so many agnostics to be atheist (or atheists to be agnostic) does in itself show confusion. Agnostic atheists have already made up their minds. Claiming to not know, they already lean toward or choose atheism over theism. The agnostic is not supposed to know for certain, but strangely, most have already chosen a position.

They are admittedly agnostic concerning God. Agnostic comes from the Greek word agnoia meaning “ignorant”, and the word “ignorant” originated from the Latin equivalent of agnostic. To admittedly be a skeptic and preferring atheism also shows a lack of opened-mindedness.

How could someone who doubts God also believe that there is most likely no God? No longer are skeptics truly doubters when they prefer one belief system against God over belief in God. These have contempt for one side and choose another.

Reconsider the Converts

My hope is that skeptics open their minds to reconsider, be skeptical of even skepticism, and be willing to consider God. After all, the origin of the Universe comes down to one considerable and rational conclusion. The Law of Entropy excludes an eternal Universe, and the Law of Cause and Effect excludes a self-created Universe or an accidental Universe originating from nothing. There is only one option left, which is that there is the intelligent Creator.

Would the skeptic, agnostic, and atheist be able to consider those who have converted? Would they consider converted skeptics from the Bible or have they already close their minds off to the Bible? Within the records of the Christian Scriptures, there are Dionysius on the council of Athens, Joseph of Arimathea, the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, and the 3,000 doubters on the Day of Pentecost were all converted skeptics. These are admittedly converted skeptics in the New Testament. Even the Twelve disciples of Jesus claimed to have been skeptical of Jesus raising from the dead. These converts could not be openly fabricated without being openly rebuked by the enemies of Christianity in the first century.

Truly, converted skeptics do not resolve doubt, but for a skeptic to not consider the words of those who were once like-minded is bias and even more so dishonest. The Christian Scriptures record the findings of the first skeptics converted to faith for the purpose of observing the merits of their conviction.

Among these converted skeptics is a writer of Christian Scripture, the Apostle Paul. This previous skeptic converted according to him by the resurrected Jesus Christ in a bright light while on the road to persecute Christians. Again, accepting or not accepting his belief is not a prejudice, but not considering his belief is the result of bias than reason.

Along with the Apostle Paul, there are the Dozen Disciples and all the Apostles of Christ, the opponents of Christianity executed all but one. This leads to a very fair question. Could men of apparent sincerity lie, claiming to be eyewitnesses, have submitted to martyrdom, also convert others in a dishonest manner, and still have been able to elude discovery? How could everyone of these escape from being revealed as frauds or be so gullible as to deceive themselves that they were “eyewitnesses”?

There is not one ancient opponent of Christianity who knew any witnesses that the Christian Scriptures were not written by the ascribed names. There is not one attack from the opponents of early Christianity in all of antiquity against the character of the martyred eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. There is not one accusation against the persecuted and martyred Apostles of Jesus as frauds. All such assertions are speculative conjectures.

Does persecution and martyrdom really prove anything? It is true that many would rather die for their lies, speculations, and assertions than retract their statements and their pride. The mistaken martyr of speculations dies saying, “I sincerely thought.”, but the martyr of truth dies saying, “I certainly saw or heard.”

True martyrs die for which they certainly witnessed through their senses. This is true of the Apostles who were certainly eyewitnesses. These are neither deluded nor are they lying. They died for what they saw with their own eyes. These are the eyewitness martyrs of Jesus’ resurrection. They recorded their testimonies for cross-examination. Just as legal records today, two or more confirm an event coinciding reports whether in person or in record. By this, the Scriptures were open to such scrutiny and proved in the first and following centuries.

Setting Aside Prejudice

Skeptics may suppose that these eyewitnesses were not eyewitnesses at all. Some conjecture that early Christians invented the writers of the Christian Scriptures. There are essential difficulties to such skepticism. First, there is a book of the collected writings of eyewitnesses of Jesus. Second, the book has existed for many centuries. Third, the book came into existence some way, by some means, and at some particular time. Fourth, the New Testament claims to be authored by God via Apostles and prophets who are specifically named. Names attributed to written works are universally admitted to be rational and conclusive evidence of authorship. Can any of these be denied? Yet, prejudice gets in the way again. The only reason to question the authorship would be through contrary evidence such as contradiction reports from witnesses. Where are those contradictions?

The New Testament scriptures were diligently scrutinized, and remain the authentic records undoubted by believers and unchallenged by its opponents in the early centuries of the Christian faith. In the first century, historians, geographers, judges, and scholars were able to test the Christian Scripture, and so were tried in this age and in the age of these writings. The New Testament was universally received by primitive Christians and by opponents and apostates of the Christian faith.

These early Christians authenticated the identity of the writers of the Christian Scriptures throughout the world. These witnesses and their locations were Clement in Rome, Ignatius in Antioch, Polycarp in Smyrna, Justin Martyr in Syria, Irenaeus in France, Tertullian in Carthage, Origin in Egypt, and Eusebius in Caesarea. The early opponents and apostates of primitive Christianity, who admitted the authorship of the Christian Scriptures, include Celsus, Trypho, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry of Tyre, Hierocles of the Proconsul of Bithynia, Julian the Apostate, and Peregrinus Proteus.

See, even Celsus neither questions the Scriptures nor the identity of the writers. Origin recorded concerning Celsus, “Thus it is written, not in any private book, or such as are read by a few persons only, but in books read by everyone.” These opponents never even questioned the authenticity of the Scriptures. All of antiquity does not present a trace of any contradicting testimony against any historical event or any miraculous sign presented in the New Testament scriptures.

The simple truth is that skeptics are prejudice against the eyewitness records in the Christian Scriptures, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence. Yet, they question the integrity of witnesses and would rather defame such men as “false witnesses” who died for what they saw, heard, and therefore had to believe. Believers are fair and open-minded to judge by examination the writers of the Scriptures to be reliable and honest witnesses.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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13 Responses to Are Atheists Open-Minded?

  1. “This is the serious issue here, because I am not making any claims about the New Testament that are not accepted by mainstream scholars.”

    True, and yet the scholars have no evidence and they are prejudice.

    “Surely, many of these are Christian and I am not, but their beliefs are based on faith rather than a strict historical interpretation of the gospels.”

    Faith should be based on these things. These “Christians” are certainly theists and most believe in the divinity of Jesus and that He is the Christ. Does this make them a Christian when their beliefs and actions are contrary to Jesus’ words in the Gospels? I cannot call someone a Christian who lives contrary to Christ, and not that they are perfect, but they are continue to believe and to do against Jesus.

    “Again, according to mainstream, non-Fundamentalist archeologists and Bible scholars, the patriarchal period is at the very least legendary, and the proto-hebrews were not monotheistic at all until quite late on (maybe around 800 BC).”

    Again, there is no proof and this is prejudice.

    “Are you telling me that all these experts in ancient languages, and people who have spent lifetimes scouring deserts for archeological evidence, and who devote their lives to science, you are saying that these people are wrong and prejudiced, and that you are right?”

    Where’s the evidence? They only have speculation.

    “My belief is that theism is not supported by the evidence.”

    That’s exactly the problem. If you claim atheism, you must be able to provide the proof, and if you claim agnosticism, you admit that you do not have enough. If you approach the Bible by the words of skepticism alone or only by the assertions of believer, then you would be prejudice. I’ve admitted my limited period of skepticism, and yet the witnesses of the NT stand up to scrutiny and the writers have not been shown to have falsely testified while for others “not even then did their testimony agree”. Therefore, I stand by the witness of the NT and by this stands my faith.

    I appreciate the kindness of your comments. You may have the last word.

    Like

    • PTET says:

      Hello Scott

      “This is the serious issue here, because I am not making any claims about the New Testament that are not accepted by mainstream scholars.”

      True, and yet the scholars have no evidence and they are prejudice.

      Let’s look at one problem with the New Testament.

      According to mainstream scholarship, The Gospel of Matthew 27:9-10 misquoted Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah.

      Let’s look at the “justification” given by apologists for this apparent error:

      “Matthew did not say that Jeremiah wrote this particular prophecy; rather, he indicated that this prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah… one should not automatically expect to find a written account of a prophecy when the New Testament writer mentions it as having been spoken. Also, it should not be surprising to us if the Holy Spirit saw fit to inspire Jeremiah to speak these words, and then a few years later to inspire Zechariah to put a similar sentiment in written form.”

      1. The apologists are speculating that “Matthew” was referring to some other unwritten prophesy.

      2. There is ZERO evidence that this other prophesy existed.

      3. Since the other prophesy was not written, there is no way of proving that it existed.

      4. These apologists have the following statement of faith: “The 66 books of the Bible are fully and verbally inspired of God; hence, they are inerrant and authoritative, and a complete guide for moral and religious conduct.”

      These apologists are saying that no evidence can contradict the Bible. They offer no evidence in support of their speculation that “Matthew” was right, even though the plain words of the Gospel appear to be wrong.

      This pattern is repeated whenever apologists offer “solutions” for apparent errors in the Bible. Apologists offer no evidence. They suggest a solution. The assume the solution must be true, because they believe the Bible cannot be in error.

      It is the apologists who offer no evidence and who are prejudiced.

      Faith should be based on these things. These “Christians” are certainly theists and most believe in the divinity of Jesus and that He is the Christ. Does this make them a Christian when their beliefs and actions are contrary to Jesus’ words in the Gospels?

      Your argument here depends upon your prior assumption – your prejudice – that the Gospels contain the inerrant words of Jesus which cannot be challenged.

      I note also you cast aspersions on the integrity of fellow christians while knowing nothing about them, other than that they disagree with your interpretation of the Bible :<

      “Again, according to mainstream, non-Fundamentalist archeologists and Bible scholars, the patriarchal period is at the very least legendary, and the proto-hebrews were not monotheistic at all until quite late on (maybe around 800 BC).”

      Again, there is no proof and this is prejudice.

      You have this exactly backwards. There is overwhelming evidence that the proto-hebrews were polytheistic, and no evidence at all that there were monotheistic until much later in their history. For starters, see this short page from the University of Calgary and this from a Bible Commentary.

      It is apologists who assert with no evidence, and relying solely on their prejudiced view of the “authority” of the Bible, that this archeological evidence is “wrong” (for unspecified reasons).

      That’s exactly the problem. If you claim atheism, you must be able to provide the proof, and if you claim agnosticism, you admit that you do not have enough. If you approach the Bible by the words of skepticism alone or only by the assertions of believer, then you would be prejudice.

      Again I think you have this totally backwards. If theists cannot provide proof of their religion, it is reasonable not to believe. I believe in one less God that you do, remember – you reject all other “gods”. I don’t see evidence of them either. I see evidence of one less God than you do.

      You are the one insisting that the Bible is the word of God, and endorsed by Jesus, and that nothing can therefore contradict it.

      The prejudice is saying that the Bible cannot be false. I say it is true where supported by the evidence, and (as far as we can ever reasonably say) it may be false when contradicted by the evidence.

      I am open to the Bible being correct. You are not open to the Bible being wrong. So who is prejudiced?

      yet the witnesses of the NT stand up to scrutiny and the writers have not been shown to have falsely testified while for others “not even then did their testimony agree”. Therefore, I stand by the witness of the NT and by this stands my faith.

      I do not seek to challenge your faith. I do, however, want to defend my right not to believe.

      It’s been a pleasure talking with you.

      Kind regards

      P

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  2. PTET says:

    Hi Scott

    Thanks for another very interesting post.

    “It seems to me that you do not accept that there is any evidence of miracles outside of the Judeao-Christian tradition.”

    Yes. All others are contrary to worldview as all other wonders of belief systems are contrary to that of fundamental atheism.

    I don’t think anyone sensible is a “fundamental” atheist. I think all claims should be examined fairly on the evidence. However, where there is no evidence, then we clearly have a problem.

    You have already rejected claimed hindu & “virgin mary”-type miracles, you say on the evidence. I’m sure that the supporters of these supposed miracles would complain that you are “prejudiced” against them – you say yourself you only expect to see such things happening from a Judeao-Christian perspective.

    Because I trust the witnesses of the Bible, I believe people have had “powers” to affirm revelation from God.

    If, on the evidence, I question the reliability of the New Testament, is that allowed? Or do I become “prejudiced” against the truth of Christianity? This is the serious issue here, because I am not making any claims about the New Testament that are not accepted by mainstream scholars. Surely, many of these are Christian and I am not, but their beliefs are based on faith rather than a strict historical interpretation of the gospels.

    The Patriarchs would be everyone back to Adam, who according to the OT had revelation from God, which would also be passed orally. Whether one speculates that Messiah prophecies came from paganism, the oldest Patriarchal of the seed of woman comes before the beginning of paganism, which originated from Semiramis.

    Again, according to mainstream, non-Fundamentalist archeologists and Bible scholars, the patriarchal period is at the very least legendary, and the proto-hebrews were not monotheistic at all until quite late on (maybe around 800 BC).

    Your mention of Semiramis is interesting. What is your source for that, I wonder? I don’t think it’s the Bible.

    In any case, the division here is, as usual, between scholars who insist that the Bible is inerrant on matters of history, and those who accept that it might be wrong.

    It is strange how verbatim quotes from the Talmud appear in the Koran.

    It’s even stranger than large chunks of “Mark”, “Matthew” and “Luke” are copied practically verbatim either from each other or from common sources.

    Again, the division here is between scholars who insist that the Bible is inerrant on matters of history, and those who accept that it might be wrong.

    So what? Do you know their sources? All I find in conjecture. I’ve studied and looked. Such scholars produced some skepticism in me until I find that they have no proof. You’re free to produce some their evidence. Its harder to find than decade established “missing link” that isn’t a hoax.

    Here you reject all modern scholarship, as taught in Universities worldwide, on history, ancient languages, archaeology – and now even biology and palaeontology.

    Are you telling me that all these experts in ancient languages, and people who have spent lifetimes scouring deserts for archeological evidence, and who devote their lives to science, you are saying that these people are wrong and prejudiced, and that you are right?

    Are you really telling me that everyone who is not a Fundamentalist scholar is making all this science and history up to avoid the “truth” of the Bible as you understand it?

    The only questions that I have are: (1) What is your belief system in regards to theism? (2) Why? (3) Are you going to address an error in the above article?

    My belief is that theism is not supported by the evidence. The “error” I’m trying to address in your article is your assertion that “skeptics are prejudiced against the New Testament, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence.”

    With the greatest respect, I think your prejudice that the Bible must be correct is the issue here.

    Unless you consider the possibility that the Bible might be wrong, you are never going to be fairly and impartially judge the New Testament on the merits of the evidence.

    Kind regards

    P

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  3. Numbers 2 and 3

    “2. The Gospels claim to be re-tellings of eye-witness accounts, but they are not eye-witness accounts. Indeed, the tellings of three accounts are clearly based upon the same basic telling. Thus they are not even independent. Only scholars who deny the possibility of “scripture” being wrong say otherwise.”

    Everything presented before shows that these are eye-witnesses. The synoptic gospels are not as seeing-the-same as John is clearly distinguished. All four gospel present the life, death, burial, and resurrection Jesus. By these similarities, these are witnesses to be examined. These are distinguished by that Mark presenting the actions of Christ, Matthew presenting the ministry in Galilee and fulfilled OT predictions, Luke supplementing with most of Jesus’ last year in return to Jerusalem, and John shows the words of Christ mostly before those in Jerusalem. All four are from independent authors and their accounts agree is the very point of the proof of their witnesses. Only scholars, who deny the possibility of “scripture” being right, have taken a prejudice position to say otherwise.

    “3. The NT contains claims which are clearly mythological. This includes the virgin birth and the resurrection. There is no evidence for the events outside of the NT. Indeed, both are essentially unprovable. You would reject them out of hand if they weren’t part of Christianity.”

    There is evidence in the OT, which proof is affirmed by the 3rd c. BC LXX. The NT was written for the purpose of evidence. What other evidence could be passed down than the records of eye-witnesses? The Messiah was predicted and the eye-witnesses establish that Jesus was that Messiah. That is the evidence, because the Messiah was to be resurrected (Isaiah 53:9-10).

    https://godsbreath.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/jesus-resurrection/

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  4. “It seems to me that you do not accept that there is any evidence of miracles outside of the Judeao-Christian tradition.”

    Yes. All others are contrary to worldview as all other wonders of belief systems are contrary to that of fundamental atheism. For the Christian fundamentalist, the Bible is an inerrant source. With this said, the word “miracle” is subject to traditions and definitions outside of the Bible, since “miracle” does not really have its own Greek word from which it is translated. Looking through the NT, you’ll find “signs, powers, and wonders” while half of the time “signs” is translated as “miracle” and sometimes translated “powers”, but never “wonder” to my knowledge of the translations. I say this because addressing miracles from the point of view of a Christian, Jew, agnostic, or atheist can be grasping for straws and word-wrangling. You are most likely thinking of a miracle as some event claiming divine origin and beyond natural laws (or apparent physical laws). I don’t have position on miracles so much, and for that matter, I believe faith is to be established upon evidence (Heb. 11:1). Because I trust the witnesses of the Bible, I believe people have had “powers” to affirm revelation from God. Thus there are “signs” proving this. For which the Biblical Jesus calls as the witness of God. Since I believe revelation to be complete, these are no longer needed to occur through the hands of people. I do trust that there are “wonders” in this world, which can be either providential (according to the natural law) or from the Divine Creator and beyond natural law. I let you know all this, so that you do run circles or consider that I am dodging your comments.

    “I don’t think that’s right. We have written records of the Osiris dying-and-rebirth myth dating to around 2,500BCE. That is before the time of Abraham and the Patriarchs!”

    The Patriarchs would be everyone back to Adam, who according to the OT had revelation from God, which would also be passed orally. Whether one speculates that the Messiah prophecies came from paganism or from patriarchal revelation, the oldest known Patriarchal prediction is that of the seed of woman, which comes before the beginning of paganism and paganism originated from Semiramis.

    “Taking Mohammed as an example… Some scholars say there is evidence that the parts of the Koran at least were not original, but were copied from earlier Christian and Jewish-like sources.”

    It is strange how verbatim quotes from the Talmud appear in the Koran.

    “Most contemporary Christian scholars think otherwise, of course.”

    So what? Do you know their sources? All I find in conjecture. I’ve studied and looked. Such scholars produced some skepticism in me until I find that they have no proof. You’re free to produce some their evidence. It’s harder to find than a decade-established “missing link”, which isn’t a hoax.

    “I’m saying that those who speculate about the plain evidence above with knowledge of such things are charlatans, and those ignorant are no more scholars than I am.”

    These men are should know the evidence, yet can’t produce it, but they can still make a career from conjecture.

    “You can ask me anything you like, any time you like.”

    The only questions that I have are: (1) What is your belief system in regards to theism? (2) Why? (3) Are you going to address an error in the above article?

    Like

  5. PTET says:

    Hello Scott

    [I messed up the formatting on my last answer so please delete it and use this instead]

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. It’s nice talking with you :)

    First you say

    skeptics’ prejudice “disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence”

    and then you say

    ‘The [NT] writers also claim inerrant guidance by God and complete truth. This is the basis for faith that Christ’s Spirit guided the Scriptures.’

    Your argument is that if we do not accept that the NT writers had “inerrant guidance”, we are disqualified from impartially judging the merits of the evidence.

    Are you sure about that?

    You are sceptical about the miracle claims of Islam and other religions. Scepticism is the default position for miracle claims.

    We have substantially better evidence on your criteria for various visions of the Virgin Mary, or statues of Ganesh crying tears of Milk, than we have for the life of Jesus as told by the New Testament. But we don’t have to be overly sceptical to discount these events as actually, attested, historical “miracles”.

    You say

    “I find it strange that “freethinkers” put themselves above religious bias when they are more likely to be guilty.”

    I treat all religious claims with the same scepticism. You don’t.

    I certainly do not discount the possibility of miracles or the supernatural. All I ask is that there is some way of verifying such claims as being correct that does not involve just assuming that they must be correct.

    You say:

    I don’t find any evidence that contradicts the Biblical record, and I am willing to examine two or three strong concise observations for the contrary.

    Let’s see how you do…

    1. Mainstream scholarship says that the NT was written at least a generation after the death of Jesus, by people who never met him. Only scholars who deny the possibility of “scripture” being wrong say otherwise.

    2. The Gospels claim to be re-tellings of eye-witness accounts, but they are not eye-witness accounts. Indeed, the tellings of three accounts are clearly based upon the same basic telling. Thus they are not even independent. Only scholars who deny the possibility of “scripture” being wrong say otherwise.

    3. The NT contains claims which are clearly mythological. This includes the virgin birth and the resurrection. There is no evidence for the events outside of the NT. Indeed, both are essentially unprovable. You would reject them out of hand if they weren’t part of Christianity.

    P

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    • You said, “Your argument is that if we do not accept that the NT writers had ‘inerrant guidance’, we are disqualified from impartially judging the merits of the evidence.”? No.

      You, “Scepticism is the default position for miracle claims.” No, but not knowing is. It is kind of a neutral semi-agnostic position.

      “visions of the Virgin Mary” are not witnessed by the senses. Also “statues of Ganesh crying tears of Milk”, which can happen if milk is pressed out of holes in the statue or placed drops of milk can be witnessed to, but does not mean anything divine took place. I’m not skeptical against these things. I do know that when there are no witnesses to consider then I must go with what I know that contradicts these. Yet, speculations have been allowed upon such events for “faith”.

      You, “I certainly do not discount the possibility of miracles or the supernatural. All I ask is that there is some way of verifying such claims as being correct that does not involve just assuming that they must be correct.” I absolutely agree. We shouldn’t assume. I do believe in the testimony of two to affirm events (factum).

      I’ll address your three points soon. Some citations of evidence (and not quotes from scholars but their sources) would go much further, but I’ll give it to you that you were trying to be concise.

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    • I’ll address these by number. Also, I offered to address two or three observations for one subject, but I wasn’t very clear.

      I hope these are not the reasons why you are skeptical as an agnostic or atheist. Again, put the hard evidence out there that converts you and no one can concede. Unless in view of skepticism and as agnostic, you have none. Either way, there is no reason to doubt these things.

      1. You assert, “Mainstream scholarship says that the NT was written at least a generation after the death of Jesus, by people who never met him. Only scholars who deny the possibility of ‘scripture’ being wrong say otherwise.” This is a contradiction to your earlier statement, “It is accepted within mainstream Biblical scholarship, including Christian mainstream scholarship”. But, I understand which critics you refer.

      This assertions of such scholars is actually refuted in the above article by the hostile and friendly sources from the 1st century forward. Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthian church before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (see Clement 41:2), and he quotes from 1 and 2 Corinthians (example: Clement 47:2) and more. This alone refutes these scholars’ claims. Yet, Clement also quotes from the Gospel of Luke (Clement 13:2), and Luke refers to the past written Gospels of the Apostles (Luke 1:2). Metzger (“Text of the New Testament”) affirmed further, “Besides textual evidence derived from the New Testament Greek manuscripts and from early versions, the textual critic have available the numerous scriptural quotations included in the commentaries, sermons, and other treatises written by early Church Fathers. Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.” Add the early to mid-2nd century writings of Polycarp and Ignatius with NT citations. Polycarp quotes from the Gospels, Acts, some of Paul’s writings, John’s epistles, and 1 Peter (See ch. 9 for 2 Tim. quote, and Tim. quotes Luke, and Luke refers to Gospels). Also, recognize that from Rome to Smyrna (Asia Minor, west Turkey), or Antioch (Syria – east Turkey), then somehow just as the NT witnesses of itself the writings were spread across northern Mediterranean Empire, which puts their writings even further back due to travel. Your scholars are charlatans of such scholarship. I could go on and on.

      In your statement, you also are admitted the prejudice of such non-believing scholars. That is the critical bias. Scholarship does not speculate and conjecture about how most of the NT was written by later authors without an ounce of proof. I can’t find a mainstream critic who doubts all of Paul’s authorship anyway. The earliest critics presented in the article like Celsus (2nd c.) does not doubt the authorship of the books, but so many opponents do today. Most secular critics also affirm Galatians and 1 and 2 Corinthians were written by Paul, and they speculate that Paul originated New Testament Christianity. Again, these scholars are the skeptics that are meant in the article above. They are very bold at doing this in the form of assertions and yet they have no evidence. You would think scholars would use their scholarship and not conjecture.

      By the way, “Only scholars who deny the possibility of ‘scripture’ being wrong say otherwise” is the kind of prejudice that is in the article above. If such a scholar was converted from atheism, then these critics would still not consider his words. I know one of such men personally.

      Do your homework and double check these. I want you to know what you are neglecting. I may address these other two later.

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      • PTET says:

        Hello Scott

        You, “Scepticism is the default position for miracle claims.” No, but not knowing is. It is kind of a neutral semi-agnostic position.

        Not knowing? Excuse me? Ancient literature is littered with miracle claims, such as healings, virgin births, dying and re-born demi-gods, and claims of mystical visions. Are you really saying that the sum of human knowledge cannot be used to judge these claims? That we have to withhold judgement on all these claims?

        “visions of the Virgin Mary” are not witnessed by the senses. Also “statues of Ganesh crying tears of Milk”, which can happen if milk is pressed out of holes in the statue or placed drops of milk can be witnessed to, but does not mean anything divine took place. I’m not skeptical against these things.

        Those who claim to have seen the virgin mary most definitely claim they witnessed with their senses. And you say you are not skeptical about Ganesh’s tears of milk, when you immediately have given me the overwhelmingly reasonable answer that they were faked?

        I do know that when there are no witnesses to consider then I must go with what I know that contradicts these. Yet, speculations have been allowed upon such events for “faith”.

        There were hundreds of witnesses to the milk-tears for Ganesh who swore that these miracles were real. Do you really think we should call these events historically-factual miracles? Or even “withhold” judgement that they were surely faked?

        1. You assert, “Mainstream scholarship says that the NT was written at least a generation after the death of Jesus, by people who never met him. Only scholars who deny the possibility of ‘scripture’ being wrong say otherwise.” This is a contradiction to your earlier statement, “It is accepted within mainstream Biblical scholarship, including Christian mainstream scholarship”. But, I understand which critics you refer.

        No. Mainstream Christian scholarship accepts that while the Bible may be correct about all religious matters, it is possible that any part of it may be wrong. Maybe a verse was wrongly translated or meant to be allegorical rather than historical. Bruze Metzger was a prime example.

        …But again you seem to be saying that non-Christians are not allowed to examine Christian claims. Do you think non-Muslims are not allowed to examine the claims of Islam?

        This assertions of such scholars is actually refuted in the above article by the hostile and friendly sources from the 1st century forward. Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthian church before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD…

        Mainstream Christian scholarship dates the first epistle of Clement to c. 95 AD. His quoting of a saying attributed to “Luke” does not mean he knew “Luke” – only that he knew sayings that the author of “Luke” knew.

        I can’t find a mainstream critic who doubts all of Paul’s authorship anyway.

        I’m not quite sure what you are saying here. Are you saying no mainstream critics doubts that all of the NT letters attributed to Paul were written by him? That isn’t right, surely?

        Norman Perrin, for example, noted that the pastoral letters are generally regarded as not written by Paul. Perrin was Associate Professor of New Testament, at the Divinity School, University of Chicago. Was he not a mainstream critic?

        By the way, “Only scholars who deny the possibility of ‘scripture’ being wrong say otherwise” is the kind of prejudice that is in the article above. If such a scholar was converted from atheism, then these critics would still not consider his words. I know one of such men personally.

        Again you appear to be operating under the illusion that to be a Christian , someone must accept that all the NT is inerrant and that ancient attributions of authorship cannot be challenged. That is clearly wrong.

        Your scholars are charlatans of such scholarship. I could go on and on.

        You are saying that anyone who does not accept the inerrance of the NT is a charlatan and cannot be a christian? Really? Bruce Metzger was a charlatan?

        You seem to think that anyone who questions the truth-claims of traditional Christianity is incapable of “fairly and impartially judging the New Testament”.

        Do you think that anyone who questions the truth-claims of traditional Islam is incapable of “fairly and impartially judging the Koran”?

        P

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        • “Not knowing? Excuse me? Ancient literature is littered with miracle claims, such as healings, virgin births, dying and re-born demi-gods, and claims of mystical visions. Are you really saying that the sum of human knowledge cannot be used to judge these claims? That we have to withhold judgement on all these claims?”

          No. I was defining a default position that you brought to the table. Default defined as inaction. You can only test miracles to the point of witness. Btw, dying and reborn demi-gods are copies of monotheistic Messianic predictions.

          “There were hundreds of witnesses to the milk-tears for Ganesh who swore that these miracles were real. Do you really think we should call these events historically-factual miracles? Or even ‘withhold’ judgement that they were surely faked?”

          They can’t really witness that. Can they?

          “No. Mainstream Christian scholarship accepts that while the Bible may be correct about all religious matters, it is possible that any part of it may be wrong. Maybe a verse was wrongly translated or meant to be allegorical rather than historical. Bruze Metzger was a prime example.”

          You’re redirecting toward translations and exegesis.

          “…But again you seem to be saying that non-Christians are not allowed to examine Christian claims. Do you think non-Muslims are not allowed to examine the claims of Islam?”

          No. Those who are prejudice cannot examine the claims. If I approach the Koran denying that the words of those of Muhammad for whatever reason beyond evidence, then I would be bias and unfair in its treatment.

          “Mainstream Christian scholarship dates the first epistle of Clement to c. 95 AD. His quoting of a saying attributed to ‘Luke’ does not mean he knew ‘Luke’ – only that he knew sayings that the author of ‘Luke’ knew.”

          Now, you do concede that 1 and 2 Corinthians were written in the first century. This is your first point that you’ve already admitted is not valid. Still, Clement refers to the temple sacrifices and the high priest taking place at that time, so what does it matter if it some others date it later. The evidence shows that Clement was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Forgive me if I don’t speculate like others.

          You also speculate that Clement’s words come from Luke’s sources. Yet, Clement said, “let us do that which is written” (13:1). Then Clement credits the Holy Spirit and quotes Scripture, then Jesus and quotes Scripture, and then “For the holy word says” and quotes Scripture. Now, you conjecture that Jesus’ words were excluded from being what is written.

          “I’m not quite sure what you are saying here. Are you saying no mainstream critics doubts that all of the NT letters attributed to Paul were written by him? That isn’t right, surely?”

          No. I wasn’t.

          “You are saying that anyone who does not accept the inerrance of the NT is a charlatan and cannot be a christian? Really? Bruce Metzger was a charlatan?”

          I’m saying that those who speculate about the plain evidence above with knowledge of such facts are charlatans, and that those who would be ignorant are no more scholars than I am.

          “You seem to think that anyone who questions the truth-claims of traditional Christianity is incapable of ‘fairly and impartially judging the New Testament’…Do you think that anyone who questions the truth-claims of traditional Islam is incapable of “fairly and impartially judging the Koran”?”

          No and no.

          I don’t withhold judgment on any of these religions or worldviews. I do not accept other worldviews that are contrary to true witnesses. I’m not really interested in further discussion for word-games. You are judging me, but not by any witness above, but by “You are saying that…?” or “You seem to think…”. You’re trying to pin me down, and yet reveal nothing of yourself to be examined. You don’t have to say anything more about your skepticism, but don’t expect me to play along with you reading into my words.

          Scott

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          • PTET says:

            Hello Scott

            Thanks for your very interesting response.

            No. I was defining a default position that you brought to the table. Default defined as inaction. You can only test miracles to the point of witness.

            It seems to me that you do not accept that there is any evidence of miracles outside of the Judeao-Christian tradition. But I could be wrong?

            Btw, dying and reborn demi-gods are copies of monotheistic Messianic predictions.

            I don’t think that’s right. We have written records of the Osiris dying-and-rebirth myth dating to around 2,500BCE. That is before the time of Abraham and the Patriarchs! According to modern scholarship the proto-Hebrews were not monotheistic at all until much later, but I appreciate you’ll reject that.

            As I understand it, though, Justin Martyr argued that “demons” went back in time to plant the myths of Osiris and others to confuse believers. That’s one explanation, I suppose!

            No. Those who are prejudice can not examine the claims. If I approach the Koran denying that the words of those of Muhammad for whatever reason beyond evidence, then I would be bias and unfair in its treatment.

            Ah, I see where you are coming from, thanks for your clarification.

            Taking Mohammed as an example… Some scholars say there is evidence that the parts of the Koran at least were not original, but were copied from earlier Christian and Jewish-like sources. Surely in this situation, the people acting unfairly are those Fundamentalist Muslim scholars who insist that anything other than Mohammed receiving the Koran directly from the Angel Gabriel is impossible!?

            Now, you do concede that 1 and 2 Corinthians were written in the first century. This is your first point that you’ve already admitted is not valid.

            I have always accepted that 1 & 2 Corinthians were (as far as we know, of course) written in the first century. I have never said anything different. You never asked.

            You also speculate that Clement’s words come from Luke’s sources. Yet, Clement said, “let us do that which is written” (13:1). Then Clement credits the Holy Spirit and quotes Scripture, then Jesus and quotes Scripture, and then “For the holy word says” and quotes Scripture. Now, you conjecture that Jesus’ words were excluded.

            You are the one who is speculating that one saying quoted by Clement which is the same as one in “Luke” proves that Clement knew the whole of “Luke”. Most contemporary Christian scholars think otherwise, of course.

            I’m saying that those who speculate about the plain evidence above with knowledge of such things are charlatans, and those ignorant are no more scholars than I am.

            I’m not sure what you mean by that.

            “I don’t withhold judgment on any of these religions or worldviews. I do not accept other worldviews that are contrary to true witnesses.”

            That I do understand.

            You’re trying to pin me down, and yet reveal nothing of yourself to be examined. You don’t have to say anything more about your skepticism.

            You can ask me anything you like, any time you like.

            Thanks for talking with me.

            P

            Like

  6. PTET says:

    Hi Scott

    “The simple truth is that skeptics are prejudiced against the New Testament, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence.”

    The simple truth is that most scholars, including Christians, realise that the New Testament is a religious rather than strictly historical document.

    “What each evangelist… preserved… is not a photographic reproduction of the words and deeds of Jesus, but an interpretative portrait delineated in accord with the special needs of the early church.”

    The New Testament, Its Background, Growth, and Content, 1965, p86, by Bruce Metzger (described at Tektonics’ page A Review of The Daughter of Babylon as “an excellent scholar” and the author of an “excellent” work on the transmission of the New Testament)

    It is accepted within mainstream Biblical scholarship, including Christian mainstream scholarship, that not one book of the New Testament was written by anyone who actually et Jesus. The works of “John” and “Peter”, as we as several of the books attributed to “Paul”, were – according to most scholars today – not written by those who were claimed to have written them.

    Let’s look at your statement again.

    “The simple truth is that skeptics are prejudiced against the New Testament, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence.”

    Who is prejudiced?

    William Lane Craig says that even travelled in a time machine, and saw Jesus’s bones in the tomb, he would still remain a Christian. He says no evidence would change his belief.

    Conservative Christian scholars routinely sign “statements of faith” which state that no evidence could possibly contradict the Biblical record.

    How can you say these people are “fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence”?

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    • PTET,

      I agree with much of what you present. Yet, mainstream Christian scholarship does not that the authors attributed to the each book did not write and oversee the books. I am away from my library or I’d easily present more than two statements to this fact, and I’d first look to Metzger as you have already noted. I do know of some who have broken mainstream to accept the speculation of skeptical “scholarship”. I don’t doubt their scholarship, but rather that skeptics are as they say they are and put personal doubt forward to conjecture beyond historical facts. This is why I say that skeptics’ prejudice “disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence” in addition to the points above.

      If what is religious took place in history, then it is historical. The Bible is historical as well as religious. The Bible gives the record of eye-witnesses for the purpose of examining their claims. There are four criteria to affirming an historical fact. A historical fact (1) must be able to be originally affirmed by human senses specifically hearing and sight (eyewitness), (2) must be able to have been witnessed by more than one person, publicized then, and had been open to scrutiny at the time, (3) must be in agreement with historic events (commemorations, celebrations, feasts, speeches) or monuments (depictions, ancient writings, coins, names of locations), and (4) must have been able to have occurred in the same generation as established as these historic events and monuments. The Bible meets these standards and as the article above affirms that not scrutiny denies the history of the New Testament events.

      The Scriptural witnesses of Jesus Christ are observably not photographic, and these are supplemental to one another as witnesses. The writers also claim inerrant guidance by God and complete truth. This is the basis for faith that Christ’s Spirit guided the Scriptures. I don’t find any evidence that contradicts the Biblical record, and I am willing to examine two or three strong concise observations for the contrary.

      If Lane Craig said that, then he is also bias. I don’t doubt that many claiming to be Christian are also biased against any other worldview. They like the way they think. I find it strange that “freethinkers” put themselves above religious bias when they are more likely to be guilty. I think you’ll agree that there are those who believe what they want to believe both skeptics and believers, and then there are those who want to believe the truth no matter what it is. I wish that we were all in the pursuit of the truth.

      Take care.

      Like

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