Hello, Everyone --
I have just posted a new essay on my blog that you might find interesting -- New Clothes for Shakespeare and Sondheim or: THE ARROGANCE OF IGNORANCE.
The essay spins off of a theme in my new novel, Traveling in Space, coming out next month from Blüroof Press, which is calling it, “A unique science fiction first-contact novel from the point-of-view of the aliens; a 21st Century Gulliver's Travels with Homo sapiens as the Lilliputians.”
I would love for members of this community to read and, if they wish, comment on the essay, either on my blog or here.
As Traveling in Space gives consideration to the topics of this group, and is deeply informed by my atheism, my publisher, Dave Doody (who by day is a senior flight engineer at JPL/NASA) asked me to extend an offer to the Atheist Nexus community. If you think you would be interested in reading Traveling in Space, Dave would be happy to make available to the first ten people who respond a free PDF download of the proof copy of the book. All that he asks in return is that if you like the book enough to recommend it to people -- or even dislike it enough to warn them off -- please let us know how you have done this. Was it by real person-to-person word-of-mouth; emails, a post on your blog; postings on atheist/rationalist/secular websites and blog or SCI FI and fiction websites and blogs, etc.?
To read my essay please go to: http://stevenpaulleivasthisnthat.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-clothes-for-shakespeare-and.html
To get the link for the free download of a pdf of Traveling in Space, email me at FirstFixxer@aol.com and put “TIS Preview” in the subject line.
I thank you all for you time and consideration.
In your most recent comment, your question about numbers of translations carries with it the logical fallacy of "ad populum".
Living in the Bible belt, I have on occasion responded to the challenge of understanding the Christian paradigm and such issues as evidence for "witness" for validatinng many of its tenets. The issue of the witness of a religion's founder's ministry, miracles, and unlikely resurrection suffers for a paucity of sufficient evidence to buttress extraordinary claims in the historic record.
Best Christian scholarship notes no documentation of such "witness" until about 68 CE/AD (up to about 80) in the composition of gospel Mark. (The other gospels are later, with the earliest date for Acts of the Apostle about 95). Most of the Epistles were written before gMark according to Christian scholarship, including all 7 of the authentic Pauline Epistles. The corroboration of biographical and alleged historical detail from the gospels in the mostly earlier 80,000 + word Epistles is stunning for its parsimony. The one reference to witness of the resurrection in Corinthians 1: 15 is devoid of narrative context, rendering claims for its timing impossible. the scanty details mostly which are not supported in the gospel accounts.
Details and personages to "witness" for the resurrection in matters such as the discovery of the empty tomb are widely varied among the gospel accounts. There are no surviving affadavits among alleged witnesses or even contemporaneous hearsay attestations to oral or written testimony to any of these events. The events themselves are almost routine in character to mythologies that flourished at the time.
There is much dispute let us say in the eyewitness testimony of JFK's assassination in 11/63. But eyewitness testinmony was recorded as early as the evening news that night. Testimony was gathered by the FBI and then the Warren Conmnmision within weeks and months of the event. The Zapruder film seems to corroborate multiple testimonies that shots were fired from the "Grassy Knoll", but forensic specialists are still divided on these points decades later.
Evidences for events that serve as a catalyst for Christian belief, mostly documentation of much later provenance are far more flimsy and of circumstances much more fanciful. The first extra-Christian document of very loose and small confirmation is not until 93 CE/AD and is a contentiously disputed evidence, as is true for others. The comparative certitude among Christians for the soundness of multiple hearsay "witness" in its alleged events of foundation hardly seems scientfic or in accord with any known reliable methodological epistemology.
To paraphrase astro-physicist, Carl Sagan, extraordinary conclusions require a greater and more profound extraordinary body of evidence than might otherwise be the case. Considering Christian claims beyond what we know to be beyond natural norms, the weight of evidence for "witness" holds nowhere near the reliable profundity or gravitas to validate extraordinary claims that are at the heart of Christian belief.
The first extra-Christian document of very loose and small confirmation is not until 93 CE/AD and is a contentiously disputed evidence, as is true for others.
That's Josephus's 'Antiquities of the Jews', right? Yeah, the line in there is a blatant interpolation (forgery, in other words).
Steven, your title reminded me of a theme I once considered exploring: the arrogance of intelligence. I would have told of the snobbery of a few highly intelligent people I'd met, and told of how their disdain for people of ordinary intelligence stirs rebellion by those ordinary people. One example would have been the literary modernists of the World War One period who so disdained less gifted people that they stirred the postmodern rebellion. Rebellion is normal; it and corporate money gave us today's Tea Parties.
I too would have written in essay form and would not have had to develop believable characters. The surname you chose for Harry tells your readers he is your essay's villain.
Yes, Sydney, it did get a bit emotional, as family was involved. I think all of us in this community have had to deal with the reactions of family members to our point of views on religion. But Chris now know -- and I think accepts -- that I did not intentionally call his, or any of my family members, attention to my blog. All is well.
Thanks for you post and your kind words!
Jim -- I have not read this story, but looked it up and read the synopsis. Fascinating sounding, i will have to search it out. It seems not only relatable to my essay, but certainly to my novel, Traveling in Space, which very much contrasts a divide between the knowledgeable and the ignorant. But I hope I have an entertaining spin on the situation, and -- in the end -- a positive outlook. As you will see above, my publisher is offering a free download of the preview proof copy of the book to ten members of the AN community. Seven have accepted, so three more downloads are available if you would like to take advantage of the offer. You sound like you have a good knowledge of science fiction and its history, so I would find in interesting to get your opinion on my novel.
Thanks for pointing out THE MARCHING MORONS, and best regards!
30-60 years is far to soon for legendary influences to corrupt the accounts. There would be far too many people still alive for the accounts to be corrupted to that extent.
Anyone ever heard of the game of "telephone"? Urban legend can alter truths about events and circumstances in the very near past. Suetonious, Tacitus, Arrian (referencing a source contemporary to his subject) noted legends began circulating about Alexander the Great, Julius, and Augustus Caesar while they still lived. Life spans were markedly shorter at the time. An additional 50 years to an adult life was rare. Eyewitness accounts are generally regarded more reliable clsoer to the event in question by professional investigators. Sources for the 4 gospels are never identified. Why did not Paul or other earlier authors of Epistles seek out "witnesses" for details of events and circumstances prior to the composition that surely would have interested the parishioners of the recipient churches, and later been verified in the gospels?
The account you refer to is in 1 Corinthians 15, and you are correct that it contains no narrative. However, this does not automatically render it useless. . . . . We can gather important details, such as that this portion of the epistle likely predates the epistle itself. The form and preceding verses show that this was an early creed or statement of faith that was passed first to Paul (most likely during his first visit to Jerusalem), then he passed it to the Corinthians on his missionary journey
The verse in Corinthians makes no mention of Mary Magdalene or specifically the Cephas (Peter) and James of Jerusalem. "Witness" of the 500 is not corroborated in the gospel accounts. The reference for the continuity in time could be less than a year, or over 100 years. Why did he not speak of resurrection revelation in this detail in his epistle to the Galatians? Yet in this epistle he leaves out the detail of his visit to Jerusalem. If the "pillars" of Jerusalem were important as witnessing Apostles to the resurrected Christ, it would only make sense that he would have a complete explanation in embellished detail to one of the recipient churches. Perhaps the fact that the details are a patch work in different epistles is because there is little or not connection between them. This identification of the verse here as having "creedal" significance has never been granted a sound exegetic explanation. Even if it does, no reason has ever been proffered by Dr. Gary Habermas or Dr. William Lane Craig or other evangelical scholars how that lends itself to any historical authenticity. Authorities on 1st century Palestinian Jewish and other Israelite observance such as Geza Vermes, Robert Eisenman, and the late Hyam Maccoby who have been very familiar with the NT Epistles have never made such an observation. There is far too much varied opinion here on a matter that concerns an allegation of human reanimation.
To my knowledge, the mystery cults were popular in Egypt, Greece, and other areas, but not among Jewish monotheists.
But was Paul and other Apostles only preaching to "monotheists"? Both in the Acts of the Apostles and some of his Epistles it is clear he was not. It is perfectly plausible that evangelical preaching occurred with an understanding of the competitive environment of Hellenistic mystery religions seeking inductees. Early church fathers such as Justin Martyr admitted parallels in the narrative of Christian tradition to the mythic detail that prevailed among pagans in the Mediterranean basin.
As brief as was the murder of a President, it would render a profound impression. The trauma of witnessing any homicide, regardless as to the length of time of the experience will be a profound imprint on the senses. This is the sort of thing that leads to PTSD. The profundity of the experience has import to human recollection that should not be underestimated. As an event in multiple eyewitness it is an appropriate analogy for consideration to any allegations of eyewitness to human resurrection.
The painstakingly stringent standards that should be applied to investigating allegations of supernatural occurrences, such as human locomotion on liquids as if terra firma, healings with human saliva, accounts of resurrection and reanimation of human cadavers and others equally implausible and outlandish are not evident in Christian notions of "witness". At the very least, the evidences should be pristine in their timing and consistency. The physical sciences are the best known methods for investigating extraordinary claims that we know of among humankind to our current time. To eschew those best methods that cumulative experience demonstrates the veracity or falsehood of allegations about anything, in favor of something that posits conclusions that adhere to desired beliefs does not serve the best interests of civic society. While there may be some emulation of standards of critical thinking going on here, accepted conclusions do not come close to being the product of viable process and objective examination.
To my knowledge, the mystery cults were popular in Egypt, Greece, and other areas, but not among Jewish monotheists.
I think the Jerusalem church's (the Jewish monotheists) admonition of Paul for teaching to the gentiles had nothing to do with excluding non Jews, but rather, that Paul was couching the message and teaching to their religious mind set – Mystery Cult framework .
The “truth” according to Paul (a Greek from the Greek city of Tarsus and no doubt knowledgeable of the Tarsus Mystery Cult) fits the Mystery Cult format like a glove.
Sam -- just to let you know, I did get you posts up on my blog -- http://stevenpaulleivasthisnthat.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-clothes-f...