Re: Daniel's 70 `weeks' #6 (was How to prove supernaturalism?)

From: Stephen E. Jones (
Date: Sun Dec 31 2000 - 09:40:28 EST

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    This is my final post on this thread, as I am un - sub - scribing from the
    Reflector in about an hour!

    I apologise that it is rushed.

    --Original Message Text---
    From: Chris Cogan
    Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 19:43:23 -0600


    >>RW>There are two other possibilities:
    >>>1. Jesus was aware of the prophecies and matched his actions to the
    >>SJ>This may in fact be true of some prophecies. The New Testament indicates
    >>that Jesus grew up like a normal child and that he only gradually became
    >>aware of who He was. A legitimate part of this becoming aware of who He
    >>was and what was to do, may have been His reading of what the Old Testament
    >>prophecies said the Messiah would do.
    >>But as Geisler points out above there were some prophecies (like Mic 5:2 and
    >>Dan 9:24-27) that were outside the power of Jesus or His followers to
    >>fulfill, unless Jesus was who He said He was.
    >>PR>Or unless the Gospel authors fashioned the story to fit the prophecy.

    SJ>See previous post on this. It is easy for amateur critics like Paul to blithely
    >say this, because they never have to work through the details and
    >implications of their `the Gospel authors were frauds' theory. My
    >understanding is that few (if any) of even the radical critical theologians
    >have maintained this. It is just too psychologically absurd that a group of
    >Jews would author some of the highest ethical teaching the world has ever
    >seen, and then be prepared to die for those teachings, when all along they
    >were just frauds who made the whole thing up.
    >CC>Whereas, if they are *not* Jews, such a thing *would* be plausible?

    The "Jews" was not essential to my argument.

    CC>Hmmm. Since such stories are to be found in a number of religions
    >predating Christ and occurring in other parts of the world.

    No. There are mythical stories in other religions which have vague
    similarities to some of the Christian gospel accounts, but on closer
    inspection they are not the same.

    Of course an atheist who wants to deny the Christian gospel accounts using
    these mythical stories as a pretext to reject Christianity, is free to do so.
    But if the gospel accounts are *true* the atheist will be held accountable
    for that rejection.

    CC>The people who
    >make these things up are either just telling innocent "stories" that get
    >spread and become "truth" by doing so, and then get written down as some
    >sort of "gospel."

    No. There was no time for these stories to become myths. There were too many
    eyewitnesses and too many named names, dates and facts.

    Besides, if they were myths, Josephus could have punctured them.. He was born in
    Jerusalem 4-7 years after Jesus' death and he confirmed the historicity of Jesus and
    many key New Testament characters.

    CC>They are not, generally, fraud in the literal and deliberate
    >sense, they are not deliberate chicanery. They are just fiction that has come
    >to be believed by the gullible, such as yourself, and then passed on to
    >*others* as the absolute truth, and built into some sort of religion.

    See above. This theory simply doesn't hold water. It is just wishful thinking on the
    part of anti-supernaturalist critics.

    CC>Further, the authors of the "final," written versions may very well think that
    >the *literal* truth of what they are writing is of no significance whatever in
    >comparison to what they take as the absolutely transcendent spiritual truth
    >that it promotes.

    This doesn't apply in the gospel writers case. For example Luke starts his gospel
    with: a statement of intent to write straight history:

            Lk 1:1-4 "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that
            have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those
            who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore,
            since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it
            seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most
            excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you
            have been taught.

    CC>Finally, I understand that, until many decades after the time of Jesus'
    >alleged existence, even *Christianity* itself did not regard the stories as
    >literal journalistic truth.

    Chris "understands" *wrong*!

    >SJ>But I am not going to repeat myself and I will start to wind down this
    >thread. I plan to do an FAQ of this prophecy to show how it: 1) establishes
    >the reality of the supernatural (and hence shows that materialism and
    >naturalism are false philosophies); and 2) how it verifies the truth of
    >Christianity. Part of this FAQ will examine naturalistic objections like
    >Paul's `fraud theory' and show how they are inadequate.

    >CC>If the journalistic facts are *absolutely* true as claimed, they don't
    >even remotely begin to show the reality of supernaturalism.

    This is because Chris *absolutely* rules out "the reality of

    CC>Your wishful
    >thinking won't get you past the fact that there is not a single aspect of the
    >journalistic aspects of the story that can possibly distinguish
    >supernaturalism from naturalism.

    See above.

    CC>For *any* such collection of observable
    >facts, we can make an infinite number of naturalistic explanations that will
    >be better than *any* supernaturalistic one. This is not only implied by the
    >Principle of Naturalistic Sufficiency, it's obvious in its own right.

    I checked with several professional philosophers on another List when Chris first
    posted this "Principle of Naturalistic Sufficiency" some months ago. They all said
    they had never heard of it and suggested that Chris had simply made it up!

    CC>Since it is not even *logically* possible to prove supernaturalism, you are
    >*hardly* going to be able to prove the truth of your *particular* special-
    >interest brand of it that you call Christianity,

    Perhaps the word "prove" in the subject line was ill-chosen? I was probably
    picking up something that Chris had said. I agree that it is not possible
    to *absolutely* "prove" Christianity. But Christianity could be true and
    it is possible to supply *evidence* for its truth.

    And if Christianity is true, it is also possible for atheists like Chris
    to deny that it is true. But if Christianity *is* true, then atheists
    like Chris will themselves one day, one way or the other, *know* that it
    is true!

    CC>but I look forward to the illogic of your attempts.

    Fine! We have a win-win situation! :-)

    Thanks again to Chris for his posts.


    "In the Gospels a very wealthy young man refused to make the motions of
    faith. He was intrigued by Jesus Christ, but when the issue became sharply
    one of Christ or his possessions, the tug of his possessions was the
    stronger, and sorrowfully he left Jesus Christ. He wanted religion without
    the motions of faith. It is not a rash presumption to believe that many
    scientists and educated men wish for peace of mind, relief from a guilty
    conscience, hope for the life to come, and the blessedness of faith in God.
    But they find themselves caught between their science and their religious
    hopes, unable to move. Being possessed of great intellectual riches which
    manage to come first in their sentiments, they leave Jesus Christ. Just as
    Jesus refused to pursue the rich young man and make other terms, so today
    we cannot lessen or cheapen or alter the terms of the gospel for our men of
    science. There is no other Saviour than Jesus Christ, and there is no other
    means of having Him than by the motions of repentance and faith.
    Therefore, if a scientist comes to God he must come in the same way as
    any other person comes to God. He must make the appropriate spiritual
    motions. He must repent; he must confess his sin to God; he must believe
    in Jesus Christ with all his heart." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of
    Science and Scripture," [1955], Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967,
    reprint, p.245)
    Stephen E. Jones | Ph. +61 8 9448 7439 |

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