What Evidential Weight Does a Majority of Scholars Have in A Christian Dominated Culture?

William Lane Craig in his debates about the resurrection thinks this matters a great deal. That's why he mentions it. What do you think? ;-)

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The same weight that a majority of scholars in Iran has on the reliability of the Koran?

kiwi said...

Craig's answer is confusing. He tells us that a "historical fact" is something that really happened.

But if 25% of scholars doubt that an event really happened, how can it be considered a fact? Shouldn't there be a consensus of at least 98, 99% of scholars to consider something a fact?

strangebrew said...

'Gary Habermas found that 75% of scholars accept the historicity of the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb and that there is near universal agreement on the post-mortem appearances.'

1. 1 Thessalonians
2. Philippians
3. Galatians
4. 1 Corinthians
5. 2 Corinthians
6. Romans
7. Philemon
8. Hebrews
9. James
10. Colossians
11. 1 Peter
12. Ephesians
13. 2 Thessalonians
14. Jude
15. The Apocalypse of John
16. 1 John
17. 2 John
18. 3 John
19. Didache
20. 1 Clement
21. 1 Timothy
22. 2 Timothy
23. Titus
24. The Epistle of Barnabas

None of these documents mentions such a 'miracle'
Out of the four canonical Gospels only Peter's document mentions the discovery of the empty tomb.

Habermas is seemingly not telling the whole truth of the matter with regard to the 75% of scholars claim...

'A list of 20th century writers on the NT, with references to relevant works, who do not believe that the empty tomb story is historically reliable: Gunther Bornkamm (Jesus of Nazareth), Rudolf Bultmann (History of the Synoptic Tradition), Peter Carnley (The Structure of Resurrection Belief), John Dominic Crossan (The Birth of Christianity), Michael Goulder (Resurrection Reconsidered), Hans Grass (Ostergeschehen and Osterberichte), Charles Guignebert (The Christ), Uta Ranke-Heinemann (Putting Away Childish Things), Randel Helms (Gospel Fictions), Herman Hendrickx (Resurrection Narratives), Roy Hoover (Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?), Hans Kung (On being a Christian), Alfred Loisy (The Birth of the Christian Religion), Burton Mack (A Myth of Innocence), Willi Marxsen (Jesus and Easter), Gerd Ludemann (What Really Happened to Jesus? A Historical Approach to the Resurrection), Norman Perrin (The Resurrection according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John Shelby Spong (Resurrection: Myth or Reality?), and Rev. John T. Theodore (Who Was Jesus?). A list of other people who doubt that the empty tomb story is historical: Marcus Borg, Gerald Boldock Bostock, Stevan Davies, Maurice Goguel, Helmut Koester, Robert Price, Marianne Sawicki, and Howard M. Teeple. The majority of these twenty-seven writers are professing Christians.'

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/peter_kirby/tomb/introduction.html

At best it is a divided score...

Not impressed with the claims really!

strangebrew said...

Or maybe Craig made up a figure he found reassuring?

Rev. Ouabache said...

I wonder what would happen if we asked those 75% of scholars who exactly found the empty tomb first. The four gospels don't even agree with each other.

Endiana.com said...
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Endiana.com said...
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Endiana.com said...
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goprairie said...

Aren't these "Biblical Scholars" anyway? People who study with the intent of proving the Bible 'true'? I had the idea that among general scienctific archeologists, there was no 'historical' evidence for odd happenings at a crusifixion and that there is scant evidence that Jesus even was a real person. Among archeologists and historians who don't have the word "Biblical" in front of their titles, anyway.
And they certainly don't appeal to majority when we are talking about scientists who call evolution a fact versus their handful who support creationism or the majority of scientists who talk in billions of years vs. their handful of 'young earth' 'scientists' who claim the fossils were laid down in the flood a few thousand years ago.

Endiana.com said...

goprairie,

Have a look at Biblical Archeology Review; few fundamentalists there.

http://www.bib-arch.org/#

Deist Dan said...

As Bart Ehrman pointed out in their debate, the majority of historians do not believe Jesus rose from the dead.

The only reason Christian's refer to "the majority of scholars" is because the only scholars they know are the ones they hang out with in their christian circles. Since birds of a feather flock together, they think the majority of scholars agree with themselves. They then make stupid points like this in debates only to be embarrassed to have their opponent point out, as Ehrman did, that in fact most historians are not Christians and that most historians do not believe a man rose from the dead 2000 years ago.

Jon said...

Craig writes:

Since New Testament critics do not simply confess these facts but rather acknowledge them on the strength of the historical evidence

I seriously doubt that this is true.

Habermas informs us that of the scholars he's surveyed, 75% would be called conservatives. He defines a conservative as someone that believes that Jesus was raised from the dead in some manner. Then Craig thinks we should be impressed that 75% of the scholars Habermas surveyed believe the tomb was empty.

http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005/J_Study_Historical_Jesus_3-2_2005.htm

Vinny said...

Consider the following two assertions:

(1) The majority of scholars agree that Plato wrote The Republic.

(2) The majority of scholars agree that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address.

In the latter case, the evidence is so strong that it is difficult to conceive of anyone else being the author. In the former case, there is just so little evidence that the traditional attribution simply prevails by default.

In other words scholarly majorities and strength of evidence are two separate issues.

Nightmare said...

Craig should be a politician - he seems to have certainly mastered the "double speak answer" (ie flat out lie) to the extent of one.

Case in point from the linked article: "it is fair to speak of them as established facts about Jesus that need to be explained. That doesn’t mean that they are certain or indubitable.....but merely that they have a degree of credibility comparable to other commonly accepted facts of ancient history."

These two statements are completely contradictory. If something is an established fact (ie Lincoln was assassinated) then by definition there is sufficient evidential proof to conclude that the even is certain. What we see Craig doing here is a deliberate attempt to redefine (to his custom meaning) the term "fact" so as to make room for the vague and poorly attested assertions he bases his arguments and faith on.

Such deliberate deception, common in Christian circles, is beneath contempt.

ChristianJR4 said...
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ChristianJR4 said...

Deist Dan said:

"The only reason Christian's refer to "the majority of scholars" is because the only scholars they know are the ones they hang out with in their christian circles. Since birds of a feather flock together, they think the majority of scholars agree with themselves. They then make stupid points like this in debates only to be embarrassed to have their opponent point out, as Ehrman did, that in fact most historians are not Christians and that most historians do not believe a man rose from the dead 2000 years ago."

If you were actually paying attention in the Craig-Ehrman debate, you would have realized that Craig said that the Resurrection event was a matter of controversy among New Testament historians. And the reason it is so is because it is a miracle and as such they they feel uneasy, as professional historians, about concluding that Jesus' Resurrection was an event of history. Therefore the reason why most NT historians do not affirm the Resurrection is not because of the lack of evidence, but mostly because of the philosophical presuppositions they bring to the table.

What Christians like Craig and others say about the "majority of scholars agreeing on" are on the reports of the burial, empty tomb, appearances etc, which like it or not, clearly way in our favor and not yours. And I wouldn't be citing Ehrman as a counter example since even he accepts those facts as well.

kiwi said...

An event cannot be considered a "fact" if the evidence is weak to a point 25% of experts on the issue think it is not a fact.

There are plenty of arguments against the empty tomb. It simply cannot be considered a historical fact.

Like S. Carr likes to point out, just imagine if only 75% of biologists would accept the theory of evolution... Creationists would be right to point out that it's a "theory in crisis"! And indeed it would be.

Deist Dan said...

ChristianJR4 said...

"If you were actually paying attention in the Craig-Ehrman debate, you would have realized that Craig said that the Resurrection event was a matter of controversy among New Testament historians. And the reason it is so is because it is a miracle and as such they they feel uneasy, as professional historians, about concluding that Jesus' Resurrection was an event of history. Therefore the reason why most NT historians do not affirm the Resurrection is not because of the lack of evidence, but mostly because of the philosophical presuppositions they bring to the table."

So most NT historians disagree with Craig, just like I said.

They simply disagree because of their philosophical presuppositions? As if that is a bad thing? As if I couldn't say the only reason you believe Jesus was resurrected is because of YOUR presuppositions (e.g.the inspiration of scripture, divinity of Jesus). Here is your line of thinking "well of course Jesus was resurrected, how else could he be sitting in heaven and answering my prayers if he wasn't."

The question is which presuppositions are justified. Since we do not see people being raised from the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, calming storms,etc then there is GOOD reason to doubt the claim that Jesus was resurrected. Their naturalistic presuppositions are justified based on every day observations of the world we live in and thus far more likely than the Christian version.

Since, as Bart Ehrman said in another debate, historians only seek to determine what MOST LIKELY happened, and since miracles are by definition UNLIKELY, then the christian version is always unhistorical and the least likely explanation.

ChristianJR4 said...

"What Christians like Craig and others say about the "majority of scholars agreeing on" are on the reports of the burial, empty tomb, appearances etc, which like it or not, clearly way in our favor and not yours. And I wouldn't be citing Ehrman as a counter example since even he accepts those facts as well."

Most N.T. scholars believe his illiterate, and gullible disciples believed his tomb was empty and he somehow appeared to some of them and you think this proves something? How is that convincing to you when those same scholars also believe that this does not mean that it actually happened?

As if superstition, illiteracy, apocalyptic fervor, and other common factors which happen all the time couldn't account for that.

Robert Price gives all kinds of examples of legends developing in short periods in his debate with Greg Boyd. All the things Christians said would have or could have happened, didn't happen in these instances.

Refuting the ideas that...

1.30-40 years is not enough to for legends to develop

2.That eyewitnesses could have served as fact checkers and prevented legendary material from spreading

3.That the Jews were not susceptible to such myths/legends

But if you want to believe that a miracle, which is always the least likely explanation, is in fact the best explanation for those illiterate,superstitious disciples to believe their messiah had been resurrected and even appeared to some of them, then that is your problem. But do not say it is a fact, or provable, or even probable because it is not and can never be.

strangebrew said...

Wishful thinking and willful ignorance does not make a myth true!

There is no direct and incontrovertible evidence of resurrection.

Superstition is a trait to manipulate...and it was...and still is...

No single gospel offers a definitive or exclusive narrative of the resurrection...all are tainted with flights of fancy and claim some very different things in the details!

Reliable evidence is absent and all accounts are compendiums written around 100 years after the supposed event...there is nothing contemporary to confirm in fact the stories reveal more about his subsequent posse then they do about any vague miracle they purport to chronicle...

ChristianJR4 said...

Thanks for your response Deist Dan.

"So most NT historians disagree with Craig, just like I said."

Well, not exactly. They don't affirm it because it is a miracle. But they don't exactly deny it either. Most NT scholars express some sort of ignorance on whether Jesus rose from the dead. They just ignore the question and express agnosticism about the fate of Jesus.

"They simply disagree because of their philosophical presuppositions? As if that is a bad thing?..."

The philosophical presuppositions I was referring to was that of methodological naturalism. Since the rest of your paragraph here is really totally irrelevant to that point I'll not address it. You were way off in your analysis of my own presuppositions anyhow.

"The question is which presuppositions are justified. Since we do not see people being raised from the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, calming storms,etc then there is GOOD reason to doubt the claim that Jesus was resurrected. Their naturalistic presuppositions are justified based on every day observations of the world we live in and thus far more likely than the Christian version.

Since, as Bart Ehrman said in another debate, historians only seek to determine what MOST LIKELY happened, and since miracles are by definition UNLIKELY, then the christian version is always unhistorical and the least likely explanation."


You're applying Hume's argument against the identification of miracles. This sort of reasoning is demonstrably false, and it's not hard to see it. This type of reasoning would not allow us to conclude singular first time events. For example, when the first person climbed mount everest to the top we would have to conclude at that time that it didn't happen because it's extremely improbable based on the background information (which at that time would be that no one has ever made it to the top of mount everest). This would rule out many improbable events that we ALWAYS recognize like the lottery for example.

As Craig stated in his debate with Ehrman, there are other variables that have to be taken into account, which is what the probability calculus (bayes theorem) shows. For this reason, most philosophers have abandoned Hume's reasoning on this score.

"Most N.T. scholars believe his illiterate, and gullible disciples believed his tomb was empty and he somehow appeared to some of them and you think this proves something? How is that convincing to you when those same scholars also believe that this does not mean that it actually happened?"

No, actually most scholars believe the ACTUAL TOMB itself was found empty, not just that the disciples believed it to be so. So indeed they do think it actually happened.

"As if superstition, illiteracy, apocalyptic fervor, and other common factors which happen all the time couldn't account for that."

Perhaps, but that's for another discussion

"Robert Price gives all kinds of examples of legends developing in short periods"

I don't take too much stock in Robert Price's views since he is on the far radical left of NT scholarship. He doesn't even think Jesus existed, contrary to the overwhelming majority of NT scholars, if I recall correctly.

"But if you want to believe that a miracle, which is always the least likely explanation, is in fact the best explanation for those illiterate,superstitious disciples to believe their messiah had been resurrected and even appeared to some of them, then that is your problem. But do not say it is a fact, or provable, or even probable because it is not and can never be."

Again, we're not saying the Resurrection is fact here. What Craig and others are saying is that the burial, empty tomb, appearances etc are facts and that the majority of scholars trained on the subject agree to those facts. Still, I can say the Resurrection is probable. There's nothing problematic about saying that a miracle is probable. The reasons you gave for saying otherwise are faced with insuperable difficulties which I think I already demonstrated sufficiently enough up above.

Steven Carr said...

99% of professional biologists have no doubt that Homo sapiens have descended from creatures that were not Homo sapiens.

I know of no subject where it would not be deemed controversial if fully one-quarter of scholars doubted it.

Steven Carr said...

'What Craig and others are saying is that the burial, empty tomb, appearances etc are facts and that the majority of scholars trained on the subject agree to those facts.'

SO what evidence does Craig give for this empty tomb?

Is it better evidence for the evidence that there was a second gunman who shot JFK?

Deist Dan said...

ChristianJR4 said...

"Well, not exactly. They don't affirm it because it is a miracle. But they don't exactly deny it either. Most NT scholars express some sort of ignorance on whether Jesus rose from the dead. They just ignore the question and express agnosticism about the fate of Jesus."

So most are closet christians i guess, well unfortunately for them they will go to hell for not "acknowledging jesus before men"

Christian4JR said...

"The philosophical presuppositions I was referring to was that of methodological naturalism. Since the rest of your paragraph here is really totally irrelevant to that point I'll not address it. You were way off in your analysis of my own presuppositions anyhow."

Naturalism is the default position that Christians base their daily lives on, but suddenly it is bad when it is used against them.

ChristianJR4 said...

"You're applying Hume's argument against the identification of miracles. This sort of reasoning is demonstrably false, and it's not hard to see it. This type of reasoning would not allow us to conclude singular first time events. For example, when the first person climbed mount everest to the top we would have to conclude at that time that it didn't happen because it's extremely improbable based on the background information (which at that time would be that no one has ever made it to the top of mount everest). This would rule out many improbable events that we ALWAYS recognize like the lottery for example."

Um, that example is totally lame. People can observe someone walk up a mountain, it takes no super-natural activity. The scientific method can be used to test the hypothesis of whether it is possible to climb up a mountain. The same cannot be said for a person being raised from the dead. The lottery is another ridiculous example, can't you come up with something better?

ChristianJR4 said...

"As Craig stated in his debate with Ehrman, there are other variables that have to be taken into account, which is what the probability calculus (bayes theorem) shows. For this reason, most philosophers have abandoned Hume's reasoning on this score."

The origin of christianity is not some complex mystery that forces historians and scientists into considering super-natural causes. It is no more complex than when you consider and dismiss the origins of mormonism, islam, greek mythology, or any other religious superstitions. There are no "variables that have to be taken into account" which force a supernatural explanation. Historians recognize this and simply resort to the principle of okhams razor, christianity resulted from apocalyptic, superstitious jews seeking to explain why their messiah got crucified.

ChristianJR4 said...

"No, actually most scholars believe the ACTUAL TOMB itself was found empty, not just that the disciples believed it to be so. So indeed they do think it actually happened."

This claim has not been proven to my satisfaction, where is the source for this claim?

ChristianJR4 said...

"I don't take too much stock in Robert Price's views since he is on the far radical left of NT scholarship. He doesn't even think Jesus existed, contrary to the overwhelming majority of NT scholars, if I recall correctly."

I could say the same thing for any Christian source you provide, this is the genetic fallacy. You cannot simply dismiss a statement based on who makes it.

ChristianJR4 said...

"Again, we're not saying the Resurrection is fact here. What Craig and others are saying is that the burial, empty tomb, appearances etc are facts and that the majority of scholars trained on the subject agree to those facts. Still, I can say the Resurrection is probable. There's nothing problematic about saying that a miracle is probable. The reasons you gave for saying otherwise are faced with insuperable difficulties which I think I already demonstrated sufficiently enough up above."

No the burial and empty tomb are not facts, are you joking? No the resurrection is not probable, it can never be "probable" since it a miracle which is by definition an improbable event. Keep trying

Brad Haggard said...

I'm amazed that "scientific" atheists are so quick to dismiss scholarly majority. Sounds a bit like the outrage over the Tel-Dan Stele.

Is this really rationalism and "free-thinking"?

Steven Carr said...

So quick?

I think it is called evaluating the evidence.

What evidence does this scholarly majority have?