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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

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May 2018 Archives

May 4, 2018

Undesigned coincidences vs. Literary Devices on Bellator Christi [Updated]

[Update: I've decided to put into this post itself a list of some counterexamples to Licona's misleading claims about his, and others' positions. See below. These are also in the podcast on Bellator Christi.]

I had the privilege today to be on the Bellator Christi podcast with Brian Chilton discussing the contrast between the view of the Gospels supported by undesigned coincidences and that of the "literary device" theorists.

The link to the podcast is here. It was great fun being on the show and bringing these various strands together. These really are very different views of what kind of documents the Gospels are. I say this not because I start from an unargued assumption that the Gospels are artless, historical reportage but rather because this is what I find the Gospels to be upon investigation. Undesigned coincidences are just one portion of that argument. Brian was an excellent host, and we had a great conversation.

The podcast is a good introduction generally to undesigned coincidences, and the first good-sized segment of the show is devoted to that positive argument.

Continue reading "Undesigned coincidences vs. Literary Devices on Bellator Christi [Updated]" »

May 7, 2018

On minimalism, the resurrection, and more: Response to Dr. Craig's podcast

Yesterday a podcast came out in which Dr. William Lane Craig answers some of my comments elsewhere (most recently here) about various of his views.

I think this is a very useful discussion, and I think that in responding to Dr. Craig, I can continue and encourage some very fruitful discussion.

The most important thing that I want to say at the outset is that I appreciate greatly Dr. Craig's and Kevin Harris's statements at the beginning of his podcast to the effect that it's possible to disagree and be friends. This is what academics do, and Christian academics in particular should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. That is incredibly important, and I want to maintain that spirit here. This is also one of the many reasons why I respect Dr. Craig so much as a Christian apologist and as a scholar.

I'm responding here chiefly because I think this is a fruitful thing to do. I want to emphasize that in no way, shape, or form am I challenging or pressing Dr. Craig to a never-ending back-and-forth, as it has been implied that I do with those I disagree with. On the contrary, it seems to me that perhaps the most useful thing that could happen here would be for people to read this response and the material in links that I provide from it to other places (that's important), listen to Dr. Craig's podcast, and ponder various issues and spin-off thoughts, perhaps having a discussion in the comments thread here.

Continue reading "On minimalism, the resurrection, and more: Response to Dr. Craig's podcast" »

May 12, 2018

12 Rules for Life – Some Preliminary Thoughts

Have our readers (or my fellow bloggers) been introduced to the phenomenon of Jordan Peterson? Peterson is a psychology professor and clinical psychologist who has become something of a darling of conservatives, wayward young men, and anti-PC folks of all political persuasions who appreciate Peterson’s willingness to take on the Left’s shibboleths and fight tough. His YouTube videos, which have made him famous, have over a million views and his Patreon website collects over $50K each month (for roughly the past year.) As an academic psychologist (first at Harvard and now at the University of Toronto) he had previously written only one rather dense book summarizing his thought (which is heavily influenced by Jung and Nietzsche, two thinkers that normally raised red flags for me) but he decided to write a more accessible book, 12 Rules for Life, which came out earlier this year and has been a best seller ever since.

Continue reading "12 Rules for Life – Some Preliminary Thoughts" »

May 15, 2018

Transcript: Craig A. Evans--comments on the Gospel of John, 2012

In a few days, on May 19, the Unbelievable radio show will be releasing a podcast of my dialogue with Craig A. Evans on the historicity of John's Gospel. I have not yet heard that podcast myself. Due to some other things going on this weekend, I will probably be first posting and commenting on the debate next week, probably on Tuesday.

In the meanwhile, I want to post as background most of the statements that Evans made in 2012 about the Gospel of John in the course of two nights of debating skeptical NT scholar Bart Ehrman. There were others scattered throughout the debates, and some were revealing, but these are the comments of any length.

These are all available in video form. With each excerpt I will post a video link that is time-stamped, so that you can watch the discussion in context for yourself.

Continue reading "Transcript: Craig A. Evans--comments on the Gospel of John, 2012" »

May 21, 2018

Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post I

Late last week the podcast aired of my debate, recorded April 11, with Craig A. Evans on the subject "Is John's Gospel Historically Accurate" or (as stated on the podcast) "Does John's Gospel Present an Historically Accurate Picture of Jesus?" Here is the link. (Note to the podcast-averse, among whom I count myself: Evans's and my debate does not take the whole of the podcast. Our section goes to about 1 hour and 11 minutes. There is also a transcript available now thanks to reader Sean. See here.) Here are Part II and Part III of my analysis.

The debate represented a disappointing performance on the part of Dr. Evans, who (as we were reminded repeatedly) is the Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. Not only did Dr. Evans seriously misrepresent his own statements from 2012, he also was extremely unclear concerning his own current positions on the historicity of John, shifting within the course of this debate itself. To make matters worse, he repeatedly made use of outright false statements of fact in order to give various impressions. These included most prominently the false statement that there are seven "long I am discourses" in the Gospel of John, both preceded and followed by repeated references to these supposed (plural) "I am discourses."

My remarks on the debate will not follow any highly organized order and for that reason will be organized under headers for easier browsing.

Continue reading "Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post I" »

May 24, 2018

Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post II

"The Question" about "Before Abraham was, I am" and "I and the Father are one"

While preparing for this debate on Unbelievable (podcast here, previous analysis post on the debate here), I had hoped that it would be possible to get Dr. Evans to admit his views about Jesus' sayings and the incidents surrounding them, if not immediately then at least fairly early on, by means some carefully worded questioning, and that at that point we could move on as quickly as possible to having a forthright debate about the historicity of John.

I was wrong. During the entire first portion of the debate, Evans took extra time (at a certain point his time spent talking compared to mine was at nearly a 2 to 1 ratio) to talk in obscure, dodgy terms about his views, to say obfuscating things such as, "The Gospel of John is indeed historical, but it's a mixture," and to misrepresent his own statements in 2012.

I did attempt to pin him down and clarify some of the issues between us. At minute 12:30ff, I asked this:

I would like to get you to state clearly what your position is concerning the historicity of, for example, the dialogue where Jesus is talking to the Jewish people and ends it by saying, "Before Abraham was, I am." And then they throw stones. And I just want to clarify before you answer that: I am not asking whether John quoted these things word-for-word or verbatim, but I am asking whether that incident occurred in addition to anything in the synoptics in an historically recognizable fashion.

Justin at this point (and I'm grateful to him for trying to get me more of an opportunity to speak), does not throw the ball back to Craig Evans but rather asks me why I think this is an important matter. What with my answer to that, more lengthy talk from Evans (in which he does not answer the question), and commercial breaks, etc., I do not return to pressing the question and getting Evans's answer until about minute 22:17. There I state what is obviously intended to be the same question like this:


And again, as I said before, I'm not asking whether you think that this is recorded verbatim. What I am asking, let's just take those two cases, and I'd kind of like to get a clear yes or no. Do you think that those two incidents, where Jesus was in these places, was having these discussions, these dialogues, and culminated by saying in the one case, "Before Abraham was, I am," and in the other case "I and the Father are one" and then they went to stone him. Do you think that those incidents, where he said those things, occurred in a recognizable way in history? What is your opinion on that?

And Evans answers, "I think they did." (Minute 22:53)

Continue reading "Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post II" »

May 25, 2018

Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post III--Back to the positive evidence

It was a notable feature of my recent debate with Craig Evans (podcast here) that I dealt in details and new information, whereas Evans dealt mostly in generalities, repeated over and over again, and occasionally false specific statements. (See my earlier posts on the debate here and here.)

Continue reading "Dancing with the distinguished professor--Post III--Back to the positive evidence" »

May 28, 2018

On credentials

I have resisted for a long time the idea of entering into a discussion of my credentials. As reader John DePoe pointed out here, Dr. Licona has not-so-subtly tried to give the impression that I am some sort of unqualified hack. It's a little more difficult for him to do this with Tim (Esteemed Husband), who has a lengthy teaching career, is chairman of his department, and is an established, internationally known scholar with a specialty in the history of arguments for Christianity. So for the most part Licona has stuck to referring in public to my alleged lack of relevant credentials. But his recent outlining of the credentials that supposedly would be needed implicitly rules out Tim's being qualified either, though Tim has also criticized his approach.

It has become so odd that Licona seems to think of me as just some "blogger on the Internet" with nothing in the way of credentials besides a PhD in English that I have seriously come to wonder if he literally does not know about my extensive professional publication record in analytic philosophy, spanning two decades and coming up to the present. My CV is easy enough to look up, and my professional standing as a philosopher is mentioned in the blurb on the cover of my most recent book and on my bios in various places. But perhaps he has just managed to avoid this information. Have all of his followers avoided knowing it as well, or do they excuse the implication that I am only an utterly unqualified blogger by silently telling themselves that mere philosophy doesn't matter to the whole thing anyway?

In any event, though I dislike going into the matter of my credentials, with the recent podcasts that Dr. Licona has made, in which he publicly brings up the credentialist meme again and again, I have finally decided to address the issue of credentials head-on. Instead of my taking the time to repost and put in all the links, etc., here at W4, please see the full post here.