Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marshall science. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marshall science. Sort by date Show all posts

David Marshall and Guillermo Gonzalez: How Untruth Becomes Gospel Truth


My post on “Craig versus McCullagh”  noted William Lane Craig’s inconsistency in using “consensus” as a measure of the validity of an historical claim. See Craig v. McCullagh.
When the consensus agrees with Craig, then he deems consensus as a sound barometer of truth. But when the consensus does not agree with him (e.g., the acceptance of evolution by some 99% of scientists; the consistent use of non-supernaturalism by nearly all academic historians), then he deems consensus as something akin to the Party Line of totalitarian regimes.
Part of my response to Craig showed that, if there has been anything akin to a Party Line, it has been one administered by Christian institutions that have disemployed, persecuted, and killed scholars that did not agree with orthodox positions for about the last 2,000 years. 

*Sigh* On David Marshall's Review of My Book: The Blind Leading the Blind

Over at Dr. David Marshall, a Christian apologist, author, lecturer, debater and editor, reviewed my new book, The Outsider Test for Faith.I find it strange that it's one of the most helpful "reviews" so far (as of this writing). Since Marshall has edited his review in response to my criticisms I'll edit this post as well. Let me just say I think I already effectively dealt with all of his so-called "substantive" objections in my book, all of them. In fact, he repeats a few of his arguments as if he didn't even read the book. What intellectuals must do, rather than repeat an original argument, is to respond to the objections. It's called offering counter-arguments. He didn't do what an intellectual is required to do. As far as I know, he may not even know that he didn't do this.

In fact, this isn't a real review at all. It's a hatchet job. It wouldn't even marginally pass as a book review in any magazine. It's a knee jerk reaction to the things I wrote of Marshall's arguments in my book instead. In his "review" he's more interested in offering a response to them than reviewing the book as a whole. Since Marshall mischaracterizes me I have seven things to say for starters:

A Refutation of David Marshall's Book Rebuttal of My OTF, Part 3

This should be my final post refuting Dr. David Marshall's “rebuttal” to my book The Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). Marshall's book, How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test: The Inside Story,is really bad. In fact, it's so bad I'm using the word "refutation" for what I'm doing in these posts. If I'm largely successful then it also says something about Dr. Randal Rauser, that he will say and endorse anything in order to defend his Christian faith. No educated intellectual worthy the name would have written Marshall's book. No educated intellectual should think it's worthy of any kind of a blurb either.

Why David Marshall is not a Biblical Scholar


An Apologist should not be confused with a "Scholar"
The recent post about David Marshall’s lack of expertise, when compared to Matthew Ferguson, points to a broader issue of who counts as a “scholar.”  
Since some of my posts were referenced in that discussion, let me just add my own comments on why David Marshall would not qualify as a scholar of the Gospels, while Matthew Ferguson would.
In general, a scholar is one who, at minimum, has the equipment needed to verify independently the claims made in the relevant field.  Usually, it is standard to have undergone some certification process as reflected in graduate degrees and peer reviewed published work. Self-proclamation as a “scholar” is not standard academic procedure.
In the case of biblical studies, one needs, at minimum, the ability to evaluate the primary biblical sources independently. That, in turn, means that one must have the ability to read biblical texts in the original languages.

Christian Apologists Reject Truth By Rejecting Both Relativism (the problem) and Objective Evidence (the solution)

Christian apologists must denigrate science to believe. That is a fact. It should warn everyone to avoid it, or any other religious faith. Not long ago David Marshall objected to my quoting this from a CSI episode: "People lie. The only thing we can count on is the evidence." Why would he do that unless he's denigrating science? apologist Mark Mittelberg also has a dim view of science.

On Facebook I made the comment: "Every claim about the nature of nature, or how it works--or worked--needs sufficient objective evidence commensurate with the type of claim being made."

Christian apologist Matthew Flannagan responded: "That claim of course leads to an infinite regress, so it's hard to understand why you take it seriously."

I replied: "Matthew Flannagan my first thought is if you are right then all claims lead to an infinite regress. For if sufficient objective evidence isn't the foundation of knowledge nothing else works. So if all claims lead to an infinite regress Pragmatism is the view that sufficient objective evidence works to get at the truth better than any other foundation."

I had a debate/discussion with apologist Travis Dickinson where he made the claim that relativism is self-refuting. I responded that relativists think in exclusively terms of the probabilities, so what they say cannot be self-refuting. Dickenson should just remember how he starts his philosophy classes. Instructors dislodge the idea of certainty out of their students by asking them to justify why they aren't dreaming, or in a Matrix, or brains in a vat. Any college student knows certainty is an impossible goal, so whether they state it or not these former students, who go on to become philosophers and intellectuals in the universities, are always talking in terms of probabilities. So relativism cannot be self-refuting. They are saying it's highly likely objective truth is beyond our means of knowing it, or knowing it completely, or knowing it unless there is objective evidence for it. Their statements cannot be self-refuting since they're not universalized statements. In a world where our brains haven't evolved to seek after objective truth, but rather to survive, Pragmatism (which acknowledges this about the human brain) is the only way forward. Pragmatism embraces objective evidence as a way to get at the truth precisely because our brains skewer the data in favor of preferred comfortable tribal social beliefs.

David Marshall On the OTF Again

A new Christian ebook has hit the #2 spot of atheism categorized books on Amazon, True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism eds., Carson Weitnauer and Tom Gilson. The reason I was interested in looking at it was because David Marshall has a chapter in it on my Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). I wanted to see if Marshall did any better in his chapter for this book than what I saw on his blog which I subsequently reviewed in 4 parts. [Warning: Spoiler Alert. He didn't.] ;-)

How Can We Decide Between Experts? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Faith" Part 10

I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. Mittelberg had argued we need authorities since we cannot be experts in everything. So the "question is not if we'll be under authority, but which authorities we'll trust and respond to?" (p. 66) When some red flags go up we need to consider second opinions and better authorities. Trust! That is a key point. Who ya gonna trust?

I'm talking about experts with regard to the truth and their level of competence. What are we to do when experts disagree? How can we non-experts choose between experts? Do we have to be experts to choose between experts? There is a whole lot of literature to sift through on these questions.

A Refutation of David Marshall's Book Rebuttal of My OTF, Part 2

I've decided to write more than just one post about Dr. David Marshall's “rebuttal” to my book The Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). I will attempt to show why Marshall's book, How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test: The Inside Story,is really bad. In fact, it's so bad I'm using the word "refutation" for what I'm doing here. I hardly ever use that word because refutations are usually unachievable in these kinds of debates. So let's continue, shall we?

A Slave to Incompetence: The Truth Behind David Marshall’s Research on Slavery by Dr. Hector Avalos

Since the rise of the “New Atheism” there have been many Christian apologists who think that they have defeated the arguments of the New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. A few of these apologists are seasoned theologians and scholars. Others are what I call “hack” writers, who basically cut-and-paste material found in secondary sources, but who do not: 1) check the accuracy of the secondary sources; 2) have the competence to check those sources independently and directly, even if they wish to do so. The goal of hack writing is to publish something quickly and with little effort and so these books are often very thin bibliographically.

Such a hack writer is David Marshall, author of The Truth Behind the New Atheism: Responding to the Emerging Challenges to God and Christianity (Eugene Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007). To illustrate our point, we shall examine almost every sentence in a section titled, “Jesus Frees Slaves,” and found on pages 144 to 148 of that book.

Christian Apologist David Marshall On Science

David Marshall opines, “Those who make wild claims about the scientific method often base their arguments not on good human evidence, but rumor, wild guesses, and extrapolations that would embarrass a shaman.” [From The Truth Behind the New Atheism, pp. 28-30] This sentence of his expresses a such very low view of science and its method that one wonders if he is Amish. People of faith must denigrate science in at least some areas, simply because science is the major threat to their faith. That’s the nature of faith. People of faith must deny science. To maintain their faith believers must remain ignorant of science. Yes, scientists have made mistakes in the distant past, but Marshall cannot possibly say this with a straight face about modern science. Yet he did.

David Marshall's Challenge About Women Under Christianity

Recently I was reminded that Marshall has challenged me to debate whether Christianity has helped or hurt women:
Resolved: That the Gospel of Jesus has done more to help more women than any other teaching in the history of Planet Earth. I challenge you, John. I issue this challenge assuming that John is sincere, and because millions of other people agree with him that Christianity has harmed women terribly. LINK.
Marshall sounds just like Muslim apologists for their terrible track record against women though. I don't have to rehearse that record since Marshall agrees with me about it. But lookee here at a Muslim apologist for Women in Islam. As an outsider I see no difference between them in that both are attempting to whitewash away the facts.
Loftus also recommended three feminist books about how terrible the Bible was to me. But that's a lame response. My argument is historical, not primarily exegetical: that the Gospel of Jesus has in historical fact improved life for billions of women around the world.
Notice first, Marshall thinks that providing book references to read on this issue is lame. I'm at a loss to know what to think of this. If I were to engage him in this debate I'd be quoting from them. So why not just read them? Why is a debate needed when I can provide book references where those arguments are made by people who know the issue better than I do? Second, Marshall said these references were written by feminists, as if that discredits them as not being objective about the issue. In truth, these references come from biblical scholars and/or theologians. Third, Marshall wants to focus on Jesus in the Gospels rather than the whole of biblical revelation, or so it seems clear to me. Why exclude the Old Testament or the writings of Paul?

Astounding Ignorance From Christian Apologist Carson Weitnauer

You wouldn't think a co-editor of a book titled, True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism,could be so unreasonable or utterly ignorant about atheism, but he is. The prerequisite for offering criticisms of atheism is to understand it. Let's explore his ignorance, below:

David Marshall’s Use and Abuse of Anthropology: Émile Durkheim and Australian Aborigines


Émile Durkheim
In his recent debate with Richard Carrier, David Marshall made the following claims (Debate video):
“Not only is Christianity reasonable in that it makes practical sense to believe it, and that Christians have always reasoned to and for their faith. There are also good reasons to believe -- good evidences -- that Christianity is true. Let me give three, briefly. (1) Miracles. (2) Anthropology, a God that transcends particular cultures. (3) New Testament criticism -- the person of Jesus” (apx. 10:18-10:32 on YouTube video).
For his anthropological evidence, Marshall principally cites the claims of Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), the putative father of modern sociology, on the religion of Australian aborigines. 
Having received my undergraduate degree in anthropology, and having undertaken a year of graduate work in anthropology, at the University of Arizona, I was curious to see what Marshall’s powerful “anthropological” argument would be.
Not surprisingly, I found that Marshall blatantly misrepresented Durkheim.  In addition, his discussion of Durkheim shows that he is poorly read in the anthropological debates surrounding the nature of the religion of Australian aborigines.
In particular, I will show that:
A. Durkheim did not claim that all cultures believe in a Supreme being.
B. Durkheim did not even claim that all Australian cultures believed in a Supreme Being.
C. Durkheim’s interpretations were challenged from the beginning, and are now widely rejected.
D. Christianization or misinterpretation of native terminology remains a viable explanation for the reports quoted by Durkheim that show any belief in a “Supreme God.”
E. Multiple cultures, or even all cultures, having similar concepts of God does not demonstrate the perception of some transcendent reality.

Quote of the Day, by David Marshall

Actually, John, I would say that almost all scientific evidence COMES TO US as historical evidence. Science is, in effect, almost a branch of history, as it transmits knowable and systematically collected and interpretted facts to our brains.
What then? Does the fact that you're not a scientist, and therefore have to trust what scientists say, entail that you don't have to trust science when it contradicts what you find in an ancient pre-scientific holy book based on the supposed historical evidence? Historians do not have at their disposal very much evidence to go on in many instances, especially the farther back in time they go. A miracle cannot be investigated scientifically since if it happened then the past is non-repeatable. Science however, progresses in the present with experiments that can be replicated in any lab anywhere on the planet. The only reason you want to bring science down to the level of the historian's very difficult but honorable craft is because you need to believe your faith-history is on an equal par with scientific results, only you place it above science because you say science is a branch of history, and not the other way around. You are therefore an ignorant science denier. You could become informed. You could visit a lab. You could notice the consensus of scientists on a vast number of areas. But no, you'd rather stay in your ignorance in order to believe in talking asses and that a sun stopped and moved backward up the stairs. Science or faith it is, and you choose faith. I choose science. The divide could never be more clearer.

David Marshall Not Only Lies, He's Mastered the Art Of Mischaracterization

Somebody Please Stop ME!! David Marshall has dogged my steps on at least a weekly basis for several years now. I don't do that with him. I have hardly ever commented on his blog and have not reviewed any of his books [Edit: Correction, I reviewed one of them, see comments below for explanation]. If it wasn't for the fact that Marshall dogs my steps (which means he thinks what I do is important), and that Christians believe whatever a person with a doctorate says about my books without reading them to know for themselves, and that Marshall somehow has earned a doctorate and asserts without being fully informed that they are bad, I could have saved 100's of hours by not responding to him. He's relentless and indefatigable. Surely he'll consider that a compliment. He's also stubborn, which can be a compliment. But he's also ignorant, deluded and even a liar for Jesus. He's like the proverbial sophomore in college, who has gained just enough knowledge to be overly confident in his intellectual acumen, but still ignorant and not know it. Or, someone who knows just enough to be dangerous. I dislike having to deal with the likes of him. But I must do so.

This is to preface what David Marshall is doing once again, reviewing my recently released book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.He's doing it on his blog and getting almost everything wrong. He did get it right that I wrote the book though. *Whew*

David Marshall's Number One Deepity: "All scientific knowledge depends upon human testimony."

In what follows is a smack-down of the entire edifice of David Marshall's apologetics (not that he will be convinced of course). Christian apologist David Marshall has repeatedly argued that "All scientific knowledge depends upon human testimony." He does so to put the vinyl siding of scientific respectability over the rotting wood of his faith. He rhetorically asks, "How many eyewitness testimonies were confirmed by DNA evidence?" His point is that DNA evidence doesn't confirm eyewitness testimonies, but rather that the human testimonies of scientists confirm the DNA evidence. That's because they saw it and they interpret it for the rest of us. This is crucial for Marshall's defense of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus, and the claims of miracles in today's world. Human testimony is what both science and his faith depend on for truth. If we can know from the human testimonies of scientists the truth about the world, then we can also know from human testimonies the truth about the Easter Event and miracles in the modern world.

What's there not to understand atheists? Checkmate!!

Teaching Science is Not Indoctrination!

Here's a discussion on David Marshall's Facebook wall about indoctrination and science. I had said, "Teach science and religions die. Sorry about that. Evolution is science. Religions die as science is taught. It doesn't matter that you say many scientists are believers since there are many options as believers which probably excludes your type of Christianity...Teach science is what I say should be done. Teaching people to think like scientists is what I do. And this is indoctrination? Methinks anyone dismissing science like this is indoctrinated." [Link below]

David Marshall's Latest Book, Little Ado About Something

Coming shortly may be the last two posts of mine for a little while, apart from brief announcements and quotes. I am fully engaged in writing another book, due March 31st. I'm also in the process of editing another anthology, on science and Christianity, with about ten authors on-board so far. At least, that's what I should be doing rather than blogging (we'll see). Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss anything from us here at DC.

Before turning my full attention to those tasks I need to show why David Marshall's book is anything but "Much Ado About Nothing." Randal Rauser has endorsed it with a blurb. I will attempt to show why Marshall's book is really bad. If successful then it says something about Rauser, that he will say and endorse anything in order to defend his Christian faith. No educated intellectual should think Marshall's book is worthy of a blurb. No educated intellectual worthy the name would have written it.

Now this isn't to say Marshall's book is worthless. It has little ado rather than much ado. For Marshall is a Christian apologist who embraces The Outsider Test for Faith with a few caveats (OTF). I'm minimally thankful for this. But that's it. Stay tuned. The second post will be forthcoming soon.

The Empty Rhetoric of Christian Apologists

Previously I described several deceptive apologetic strategies. I want to highlight one more: The use of empty rhetoric utterly lacking in substance.

Where David Marshall Goes Wrong, Part 3

This is Part 3 of my response to David Marshall's criticisms of the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). Part 1 can be read here, with a link to Part 2.