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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment by Tony Davis on November 17, 2010 at 8:26am

Correct, not Jurgen. I have to admit that I'd never heard of Jurgen until I started working on this article, but had heard of Gary many many times since I started debating apologists because (and DAMN I forgot to point this out!) the "beauty" of the minimal facts argument (from the apologists perspective) is that since it relies on "historical facts" and not the Bible saying God is real, they are not bothered by all the errors in the Bible.

I remember once pointing out a number of errors in the Bible and asking a apologist if that concerned him. To my utter amazement he said "No, not at all. I don't need the Bible to be accurate. I've got more than enough evidence without the Bible." and he introduced me to the minimal facts argument. I normally try really hard to be respectful even when I disagree but I think my reply was something like "are you f'ing HIGH? How would you even know about these so called facts without the Bible???"

Thanks so much for the feedback!

Comment by david perry on November 17, 2010 at 12:57am
@Tony- You aren't talking about Jurgen Habermas. He would not espouse such a flimsy idea. Are they related?
Good article though. I especially like the idea about the incompatibility of the miraculous with the commonplace, I never thought of it that way. It just always seemed obvious to me that if there were evidence of miracles, they would leave even a tiny trace. The thing about science that makes the theists nervous in my opinion is that it is repeatable and verifiable, if miracles were as commonplace as they suggest the laws of physics would necessarily have to be quite different. I think it was Einstein that thought that was the miracle so to speak, that the laws of physics work everywhere, all the time. They would then, if they're smart, point out that quantum physics says such occurances are possible, indeed have happened. They conveniently then leave out the observer part of it.
It's an easy argument to poke holes in as you point out, and as Ron did before.
Comment by david perry on November 17, 2010 at 12:33am
@Tony- You areI presume referring to Jurgen Habermas? I've never seen him called Gary. Good luck with an interview. He's an extremely old man. I'll see if I can finish the article now, it's getting late.
Comment by Tony Davis on November 16, 2010 at 11:28pm
OK, here it is:

I am sitting here, on my third glass of wine, thinking to myself that in the morning I will read it again and wonder "what the hell was I thinking when I hit the "publish" button. ;-p

Again, criticism is more than welcome. I have a thick skin and it is the only way I will get any better.

Comment by Tony Davis on November 16, 2010 at 9:28pm

Thanks for the reply. I can just publish the article then post the link here and make changes to the article based on feedback (The beauty of online articles!). I could also post it on my personal web page but that is not a very user friendly way of doing it (mostly due to my lack of web master skills).

The only reason I am going about it this way is that the minimal facts approach is one of the few apologetic arguments that I've never seriously engaged anyone on. I suspect there are far greater problems with it that I am capturing. Part of the problem (and reason I suspect a larger issue) is that I cannot find any of Habermas' sources. He talks a lot about reviewing all the relevant literature in English, French and German and the vast majority of scholars, even the atheists and agnostics, agree on the "12 facts". But what I suspect is that less than 5% of these "scholars" are other than Christians and so you are hardly ever going to get less than 90-95% agreement even on the most ludicrous of these "facts" because they are in the Bible.

If anyone here has any thoughts I'd be glad to hear them. I am even looking for Habermas' contact info (I will even go to Liberty University to interview him if he will grant it) so that I can ask the question personally.

I will just tweak the article a bit more, post it, then share the link here.

Comment by david perry on November 16, 2010 at 8:46pm
@Tony-It will stay visible indefinitely if you open a new discussion page with it. You could do it either way.
Can't you just post a link?
Comment by Tony Davis on November 16, 2010 at 6:18pm
Hey folks, was just curious how many words can I post at once here. Some of you that are not new here like I am please give me some advice here. The article I started out talking about is almost ready for some smarter folks that I to take a look. I need to trim some of the fat but right now it is 1,650 words (about three times what the Examiner likes but hey, I write like I talk, too damn much). Can I just paste it here? Or would that not be an appropriate use of this forum?

Comment by Joseph P on November 16, 2010 at 1:46pm
Yeah, that's why we need to help get the atheistic preachers out of the life. We need more of them on our side, like Matt ... well, intended preacher in his case, but whatever.
Comment by Tony Davis on November 16, 2010 at 9:49am

Hilarious! But the scary part is that the first time I heard this argument was at a apologetics conference that two Christian friends invited me to. The speaker, Mike Lincona, was quite good. He was very persuasive and the language of these professional apologists is really slick. Several times that day I was presented with things that I just knew could not be true, and later research revealed why, but on the spot I was sometimes unable to explain to my friends why these things were untrue.

Comment by Tony Davis on November 16, 2010 at 8:50am
All - Thanks for the replies. Maybe later today I will post the draft on my personal website, then after getting feedback I will publish it. The easiest thing to do would be to just publish it, then update it based on feedback but I don't want to risk my credibility by accidentally posting something STOOPID! I guess I'll decide when I see how I feel about the draft.

Ron - no worries on now knowing that much about the minimal facts approach. It is relatively new and frankly rocked me back on my heels when I first heard it. Not because it is any good, but because it makes some claims that made me think to myself "well, if THAT'S true then the apologists might be on to something now". The short version is that Dr. Gary Habermas surveyed most of the relevant literature (in English, French and German) from about 1970 to today (he is still updating his database I think) and pulled out only a minimum number of facts that are agreed upon by nearly all scholars who have written on the subject of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. There are 12 "facts" that he claims are agreed upon by about 95% (except for one that is about 75%) of scholars, even the atheists. Among these are Jesus died due to crucifixion, he was buried, the tomb was found empty, the disciples truly believed they saw the resurrected Christ, the list goes on but they are all of that nature.

I have many problems with this approach, not least of which not a single one of these things are actually "facts". And ultimately, even if they were "facts" none of these things are best explained by someone who was dead coming back to life and magically appearing to folks (many of whom didn't recognize him) later.

What I am looking for and I might have to read Habermas' entire dissertation to get it, is how does he justify saying "almost all scholars agree, even the atheists", when some of the guys he cite, like Robert Price, doubt Jesus ever even existed in the first place.


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