Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Bad Answers to Good Questions: Witches and Reasonable Proof

I have been asking a perfectly legitimate question of the Christian believer: Given that the claims of so many other religious believers about the existence of a supernatural being have turned out to be false, why should we think that the Christian God is any different?

One of the other arguments that I have been getting, and one that I have heard from years as it has circulated in Christian apologetic communities is this one:

The historical evidence we have concerning the miracles of Jesus is so compelling and so much better than the evidence for other religious traditions, we are reasonable in concluding that the other gods are not real, but God and the claims about Jesus are true.

First, I should note that I simply do not have the information to evaluate whether such a claim about Christianity is true. I have not consulted the comparable historical documents for all of the thousands of other religions on the planet. But I have encountered many people in many different non-Christian traditions who make very similar assertions about the historical origins of their religion. It is certainly common in Islam to make this argument about its superiority. I doubt that it is true about Christianity (or Islam), and I doubt that many of the people who claim it is have actually done the sort of careful investigation into those religions to make the decision. More likely, the people who make this claim are making it about the religion that they are most familiar with, the one that the grew up in, the one that they favored and followed long before they considered any questions about the evidence or whether the religion is reasonable.

But let’s consider the various claims that are made in support of historical argument anyway:

There were multiple eyewitness accounts of the miracles of Jesus, not just a few isolated people. Thousands of people are purported in the Gospels to have witnessed his healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry. (Note, of course, that a report in the Gospels about many eyewitnesses is not the same as having many eyewitness accounts.) Furthermore, when Jesus was crucified, he wasn't buried in secret. The tomb was widely known and accessed. If it contained his corpse, then a story about his resurrection would have been very difficult to fake. A number of people found the tomb empty. On several different occasions, different groups of people are purported to have experienced Jesus resurrected from the dead.

The witnesses are not a homogenous group of religious zealots. They are from diverse backgrounds, with different educations, and social standings. They were not a strange, fringe group.

It is highly unlikely that the witnesses had any ulterior motives. The witnesses stood to gain nothing from retelling what they had seen. In fact, they stood to lose a great deal. Early Christians were socially ostracized for their beliefs, persecuted, and even killed. The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every reason not to. Such an event would have been outlandish to them, yet they still believed. They were so convinced that they gave up their jobs, their wealth, and their families to become Christians.

The people surrounding the eyewitnesses believed them and were impressed enough to convert. The passion and conviction of the original believers was so profound that it conquered the doubts of all those around them. A whole religious movement that has lasted for thousands of years and spread to millions of people has sprung from the eyewitness accounts.

Many of the events of the New Testament have been historically corroborated. Archeologists, historians, and other scholars have been able to find a great deal of independent evidence that confirms many of the historical claims such as the reign of Herod, the destruction of the temple, the growth of the early church.

The Gospels focus on a real, historical person. They are not comparable in their age to a book of mythology about Paul Bunyan, or fairy tales. They present their account as a factual record of the events in history, not as allegory, or fiction. Furthermore, the Jewish tradition of transmitting history accurately and reliably was highly developed and successful.

Once we consider all of these factors, according to the argument, it would seem that no other hypothesis can explain all the elements of the story of Jesus as well.

Here’s the problem: Consider the Salem Witch Trials and the claim that the women who were accused actually were witches.

First, hundreds of people were involved concluding that the accused were witches. They testified in court, signed sworn affidavits, and demonstrated their utter conviction that the women were witches. Furthermore, they came from diverse backgrounds and social strata. They included magistrates, judges, the governor of Massachusetts, respected members of the community, husbands of the accused, and so on. These people had a great deal to lose by being correct—men would lose their wives, children would lose their mothers, community members would lose friends they cared about. It seems very unlikely that they could have had ulterior motives.

Additionally, in the Salem Witch Trials, they conducted thorough, careful, exhaustive investigations. They deliberately gathered evidence, and made a substantial attempt to objectively sort out truth from falsity. In the court trials, they attempted to carefully discern the facts. As a result, people became convinced that the accused were witches. They had little ulterior motive. No financial gain. They lost friends and family.

Furthermore, that there were witch trials in Salem and that many people were put to death has been thoroughly corroborated with a range of historical sources. We have a great deal of primary historical sources that document the events. In fact, we have a far better overall body of information concerning the witches in Salem than we have concerning the miracles of Jesus. The trials were a mere 300 years ago, not 2,000. We have the actual documents; we do not have any of the original Gospels, only copies from the 200s and 300s, as much as three centuries after the alleged events. The original documents are typically dated from about 20 to 100 years after the events surrounding Jesus’ death, and were based on hearsay accounts of the witnesses. In Salem, we have the actual, sworn testimony of people claiming to have seen the magic performed. For Jesus, we have only the four Gospels, two of which (Matthew and Luke) heavily borrow their stories from Mark. For the Salem witch trials, we have enough evidence to fill a truck. See this website for images of hundreds of the original documents:
http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/texts/transcripts.html

By any reasonable measure of quantity and quality, the evidence we have for concluding that Sarah Goode and the women in Salem performed black magic is vastly better than the evidence we have for concluding that Jesus performed magical miracles. Yet it is simply not reasonable to believe that the women in Salem really were witches or really performed magic. I take it that is obvious to any reasonable person that even though they were tried, convicted, and executed for witchcraft, they were not witches and they did not perform any magical acts.

Nor do I need to defend any particular alternative explanation, such as the rotten rye grain/hallucination theory, in order to reasonably conclude that they weren’t witches. I can be sure that they weren’t witches even if I don’t know all of what really happened.

So what the Salem Witch Trials show is that it is possible to meet an even heavier burden of proof than the one boasted about by the advocates of the historical Jesus argument, and it is still not reasonable to believe that anything magical happened. By every general criteria of the evidence concerning Jesus’ miracles, the evidence is better for magic at Salem.

The result, then is that no clear headed person should accept the claim that the historical evidence for Jesus’ miracles makes it reasonable to believe that Jesus really did perform magic. The advocate of the historical argument for the Jesus miracles is now in a very embarrassing position. She must either argue that the women in Salem really were witches and the miracles of Jesus were real, in order to be consistent, or she must argue that the women in Salem weren’t really performing magic, but Jesus was, and that can be determined on the basis of these two bodies of evidence.

But it gets even worse. We have hundreds of other examples in history where the Jesus miracle burden of proof has been met, but no magic occurred. The Inquisition in the Middle Ages tried, convicted, and documented the magic and supernatural activities of thousands of people. Giordano Bruno, for example, was convicted of dealing in magic and divination, among other things, and burned at the stake. Similar investigations and convictions have occurred all over Europe, in Britain, Ireland, in New England, and all over the world. In fact, the Saudi Arabian judicial system convicted a woman of witchcraft in April of 2008!

So now, in order to be consistent in following their trumped up standard of proof, the historical Jesus believer has to accept all of these instances as justifying a magical conclusion as well. It’s not just that Jesus performed magic—there are supernatural claims everywhere that we have to believe too. A reasonable person, I have argued, will see through this ad hockery and conclude that the only consistent and plausible conclusion is that none of this magic, including the miracles of Jesus, happened.

And for the record, I do not think that any of the claims in the historical argument about the evidence for the Jesus miracles stands up to any serious scrutiny.

27 comments:

Bror Erickson said...

Thank you Matt,
This might actually be somewhat of a valid argument. Yet I remain unconvinced because I think you miss the point of the argument you are arguing against.
1. I actually do believe there are such things as witches. I don't know if I put much stock in what they do, I don't think they fly around on broom sticks. As Witchcraft is a fairly popular past time these days,I do know people, I imagine you have met a few yourself, who go around casting spells and so forth. I don't know if the spells work, I could care less that isn't the point. They consider themselves witches and practice what they call witchcraft. They could be tried for this, and convicted of it. Also witchcraft has had a string of popularity in the west for a long time. It predates Christianity in the Germanic, and Celtic cultures that inhabit northern Europe. I am not an expert on Salem. I'll leave that case alone. Even if the girls weren't witches it does not prove that there aren't. It just proves a failed legal system. Well I watched O.J. get off. We know the justice system fails at times, even when it does the best it can.
2. When Christianity makes an historical argument for the validity of its religion it is making a different claim than the other religions that I am aware of. Christianity believes, puts its faith in, stakes the validity of its truth in one historical event, the death and resurrection of Christ. The other miracles though I believe them don't matter very much. Makes no difference to me if he walked on water. Rising from the dead, that is the the event.
I don't debate the historical origins of Islam. I don't doubt there was a man named Mohammed. In fact I believe very much that there was and that he wrote the quoran. But Islam doesn't so much ask me to believe that as what the man taught. It is his teachings I take issue with. That there was a man that taught them is inconsequential. Now being a muslim it may be important for you to believe that this man rode to heaven on a white horse at the dome of the rock. But simply believing that will do nothing for you, and does not really prove Islam. The five pillars are Islam.
You could say the same about the historical roots of Budha, they don't make much of a difference to Buddhism. Every religion has had historical roots, someone who started the teaching.
Christianity is the belief in one historical event, the death and resurrection of Christ. It all hinges on that one event. if it happened then it is true. If it didn't us Christians are most to be pitied. 1 Cor. 15.
This means we have to investigate the historical evidence for that event. If you can prove it didn't happen then I am most to be pitied I suppose. Though I have little to complain about in my life. But I would be believing in something falsely. So far though I find it more rational to believe than not to believe, based on my investigations.
I will now turn to a couple of points from your post.
As to eyewitnesses. Yes the Bible records that over 500 saw the recorded event. We have no reason to disbelieve this at this time. We have one Gospel account where the writer Luke (not an eyewitness himself) went and interviewed people who saw it. We have Paul who saw the resurrected Christ, and writes about it, and offers evidence for it. Actually his are the earliest accounts. He also talks of meeting the other disciples, even before they wrote anything. (The Bible is not one book, it is actually a collection, same with the New Testament. So you do have corroborative accounts of the event. Making a statement like "Matthew has no standing outside the Gospel written with his pseudonym" shows profound ignorance on the nature and history of the Bible. You have him mentioned in Mark, Luke, and Acts, just with in the collection of books that make up the New Testament. There is no reason to doubt the historical existence of this man, or that he wrote the book that bears his name.) Further you have the four Gospels. By now you have the accounts of at least five, but given the interviews Luke you have many more than that, Even if you don't have all five hundred written out. As for historical documentation of this event you have more than for any other event recorded in ancient history, with which to go investigate to see if it happened or not. Further you have the second hand accounts of other historical figures: Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome etc. the apostolic Fathers.
Which brings us to the next point you brought up, the historical reliability of what we have, the full extent copies of the Gospels we have the earliest being to the third and fourth century. Well that may be true of full copies, but we actually have extensive fragments for the rest of it, that date much earlier. We could infact reproduce the whole New Testament from fragments dated to the first and second centuries. And we have all these letters being mentioned in the late first and early second centuries by these apostolic fathers. In short we have better documentation for the event of the Resurrection then we do for any other event. We have better documentation for the New Testament saying that what we have recorded there is what the Apostles actually did write, than we have for Plato's Republic. But we are generally agreed that what we have is Plato's Republic.

Jon said...

This blog is highly rewarding and stimulating. I need to catch up on reading all of it plus the comments once I'm done with my all of my school shit for the semester here at SJSU. Thanks for the hard work Dr. McCormick - CSUS philosophy alum., Jon.

Player Piano said...

Bror Erickson,

I have yet to witness anyone stake supernatural claims on Plato's Republic.

Bror Erickson said...

Player Piano,
Neither have I, on other teachings of Plato yes, but that is another story.
What I have seen is people try to maintain that the New Testament can't possibly be accurate because the earliest manuscripts we have are three to four hundred years after the event. Which is only a partially true statement at best. Where as they accept uncritically that what they have in their hands is Plato's "Republic" when there is far less manuscript evidence, or reason to suppose it is, then that what we have is actually the New Testament as it was written.
The point being that if you want to say the New Testament can't be an accurate depiction of what happened because of the lateness of the manuscript evidence, then you would have to stop calling the Republic "Plato's". You would have to discount everything we know about the ancient world, and forget those myths everyone wants to discount Christianity with, they are right out. Talk about conflicting stories.
But I'll grant you the, for lack of a better term, existential implications of the New Testament are far greater than that of Plato's "Republic." But now we might be getting to the true reasons people here don't want to believe it.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Making a statement like "Matthew has no standing outside the Gospel written with his pseudonym" shows profound ignorance on the nature and history of the Bible. You have him mentioned in Mark, Luke, and Acts, just with in the collection of books that make up the New Testament.

Strange, I just searched through Mark, Luke and Acts, and found no instances of the name "Matthew." Besides, most textual scholars do not believe that Matthew, Mark and Luke; the synoptic gospels, are independent narratives.

Here's a fairly standard account of what textual scholars agree upon

"The Gospel of Matthew was written approximately 90 C.E. By tradition, the Catholics credited this gospel to the apostle matthew, but even the Catholics now agree with the modern scholars who assert that the unknown author used Matthew's name as a pseudonym, which was a common practice in gospel writing. This gosel was based on the Sayings Source and on the Gosepl of Mark. Scholars agree that it was intended for a Jewish audience, as it closely parallels the Jewish view that salvation is dependent on righteousness and good works"

Reginald Selkirk said...

An excerpt from The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman

Proto-orthodox Christians of the second century, some decades after most of the New Testament books had been written, claimed that their favorite Gospels had been pened by two fo Jesus' disciples - Matthew, the tax collector, and John, the beloved disciple - and by two friends of the apostles - Mark, the secretary of Peter, and Luke, the traveling companion of Paul. Scholars today, however, find it difficult to accept this tradition for several reasons.

First of all, none of these Gospels makes any such claim about itself. All four authors chose to keep their identities anonymous. Would they have done so if they had been eyewitnesses? This certainly would have been possible, but one would at least have expected an eyewitness or a friend of an eyewitness to authenticate his account by appealing to personal knowledge, for example, ...
"

Reginald Selkirk said...

Another brief excerpt from The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings
by Bart D. Ehrman

... For example, if Pilate and Jesus were alone at the trial in John 18:28-19:16, and Jesus was immediately executed, who told the Fourth Evangelist what Jesus actually said? An early Christian must have come up with words that seemed appropriate to the occasion...

... Is it likely that authors who extensively used earlier sources for their accounts were themselves eyewitnesses? Suppose, for example, that Matthew actually was a disciple who accompanied Jesus and witnessed the things he said and did. Why then would he take almost all of his stories, sometimes word for word, from another written account (as we will see in Chapter 6)?

In short, it appears that the Gospels have inherited traditions from both written and oral sources, as Luke himself acknowledges, and that these sources drew from traditions that had been circulating for years, decades even, among Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean world.
"

Reginald Selkirk said...

As Witchcraft is a fairly popular past time these days,I do know people, I imagine you have met a few yourself, who go around casting spells and so forth. I don't know if the spells work, I could care less that isn't the point. They consider themselves witches and practice what they call witchcraft. They could be tried for this, and convicted of it.

The spells don't work, and that is a rather important point. And what country do you live in that would still prosecute and convict witches?

Bror Erickson said...

Matthew 9:9 (ESV)
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.

Matthew 10:3 (ESV)
Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

Mark 3:18 (ESV)
Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean,

Luke 6:15 (ESV)
and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,

Acts 1:13 (ESV)
And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

Bror Erickson said...

Reginald,
The liberal scholars you quote make me laugh, their positions hold up to no scrutiny whatsoever.
Who says Pilate was alone with Jesus. It only says the Jews remained outside so as to not contaminate themselves. Neither is it true that the whole trial happened inside. Any soldier who happened to be converted that day, such as the one who confessed him at the foot of the cross, could have filled the conversation in for John. As could the resurrected Christ.
Scholars are not uniformly agreed with anything you have quoted. Especially given the circular logic to come up with the date 90 A.D. I.E it predicts the destruction of the temple, therefore it had to be written after the destruction of the temple, because no one can predict the future.
Yet many scholars date it to the 50s or the latest the 60s.

Bror Erickson said...

Reginald,
You write:
"The spells don't work, and that is a rather important point. And what country do you live in that would still prosecute and convict witches?"
Well I gladly don't live in any country where they could be prosecuted any longer. But that is aside from the point, as is whether or not the spells work. I don't know whether or not they work, and am not concerned with that, neither would a judge in the case be concerned about that. He would be concerned only with whether or not the person was practicing witchcraft. Whether or not it really turned the Monty Python character into a newt is beside the point. The evidence for someone practicing witchcraft would be confessions by the person, eyewitness accounts of the person casting the spell, perhaps books on casting spells, and other materials needed to cast those spells.
As I said there are plenty of people out there who claim to be witches, and who practice witchcraft. I won't debate with them on whether or not they are infact witches, or that they do those things. I'll take them on their word that they are, and that they do. I might ponder whether or not the spells actually work. I have yet to find one asking me to believe they fly around on Broom sticks.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Mark 3:18 (ESV)

Sorry about that. The page search function in Firefox doesn't seem to be working well for me lately. But as Ehrman notes, the attribution to Matthew was done not by the author, but by early Christians.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Well I gladly don't live in any country where they could be prosecuted any longer. But that is aside from the point,

You say things that are not true, and that is beside the point?

Reginald Selkirk said...

The evidence for someone practicing witchcraft would be confessions by the person, eyewitness accounts of the person casting the spell, perhaps books on casting spells, and other materials needed to cast those spells.

1) Confessions extracted by torture are worthless. See Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay (originally published 1841) for a good account of this.

2) Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. There is ample research on this, even without considering the possibility that the motives of witnesses may not be honest (either because they have something against the accused, or because they fear they themselves might be prosecuted).

3) Books on casting spells - these exist. So do books on intergalactic travel, and the Quoran, and books of "alternative history" which speculate on what might have happened if, for example, the South had won the Civil War.

4) Other materials needed to cast spells - until you can establish that spells can be effectively cast, I'm not going to worry about what accessories are needed for it.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Making a statement like "Matthew has no standing outside the Gospel written with his pseudonym" shows profound ignorance on the nature and history of the Bible. You have him mentioned in Mark, Luke, and Acts, just with in the collection of books that make up the New Testament.

Adam is mentioned in countless works of theology and literature. Therefore, by your reasoning, The Apocalypse of Adam is a work from a well-established author, and I assume you accept it as a reliable historic account.

Bror Erickson said...

Reginald,
You write in response to me:
Well I gladly don't live in any country where they could be prosecuted any longer. But that is aside from the point,

You say things that are not true, and that is beside the point?"
Now tell me when did I say I lived in a country where witches could prosecuted. The word "could" is commonly used to introduce the hypothetical. I'll get to your other erroneous positions at another time. But take a course in reading for understanding.

M. Tully said...

Historical Events?

"Christianity believes, puts its faith in, stakes the validity of its truth in one historical event, the death and resurrection of Christ. "

Historians do not treat the resurrection of Jesus as an historical event. One has to wonder why?

Well, I don't know for sure, but one thing I do know, to be intellectually consistent if they accepted the Easter narrative as a probable truth, they would have to drastically change the accepted standards of evidence that to date have served them well.

M. Tully said...

Matt,

Brilliant argument!

I'm truly disappointed in myself and for not coming up with it first.

The philosopher beat the empiricist to the empirical punch.

Well done!

Tully

Bror Erickson said...

M. Tully,
You write:"Historians do not treat the resurrection of Jesus as an historical event. One has to wonder why?

Well, I don't know for sure, but one thing I do know, to be intellectually consistent if they accepted the Easter narrative as a probable truth, they would have to drastically change the accepted standards of evidence that to date have served them well."

1. I know historians who do treat the resurrection as an historical event.
2. I would like to know what standards of evidence would have to be drastically changed. Some would argue the exact opposite. That is to disregard the resurrection you have to change your standards of evidence. And if you were to apply the same standards used to disregard the resurrection to the rest of ancient history, you would have none.

Bror Erickson said...

Reginald,
No one but you has said anything about using confessions drawn out by torture.
2. Eyewitness accounts can be unreliable at times which is why the witnesses are often cross examined, and lawyers like to have more than one. but they are still used and have been found to be very helpful. I am finding though that you are not a lawyer, and it seems have not even watched court t.v. Eyewitnesses, when they are available, are invaluable to the court.
3. It is the person practicing witchcraft, not witchcraft that is on trial. The Salem witch trials were not about the effectiveness of the witchcraft the girls were supposedly practicing. It was about whether or not the girls were practicing witchcraft, of which there is such a thing.

steve martin said...

I believe that 'Witches' are true.

I used to date a gal that practiced witchcraft. Not that I believe in what she was doing...but I did have to get out of that one before she turned me into a frog.

Eric Sotnak said...

Bror Erickson wrote:
"I actually do believe there are such things as witches."
and
"But that is aside from the point, as is whether or not the spells work. I don't know whether or not they work, and am not concerned with that, neither would a judge in the case be concerned about that. He would be concerned only with whether or not the person was practicing witchcraft."
and
"The evidence for someone practicing witchcraft would be confessions by the person, eyewitness accounts of the person casting the spell, perhaps books on casting spells, and other materials needed to cast those spells."

So let me get this straight...You are willing to believe that someone is a witch if (a) they say they are, or (b) someone says they saw the person cast a spell (even if it didn't work), or (c) the person read/wrote/had/borrowed a book that CLAIMS to be about casting spells, or (d) was in possession of materials CLAIMED to be used in the possession of spells? The standard of evidence here seems to allow for some pretty easy convictions. And given that people in the world today (including children) are being KILLED because they are alleged to be practicing witchcraft, I, for one, find this degree of credulousness a bit disturbing.

Now, you might disagree with the sentence for witchcraft, but that would be odd, since the Bible seems pretty clear on the appropriate punishment for witchcraft.

By analogy, police departments sometimes get people who claim to have committed murder. However, this is not in itself enough for them to be classified as murderers. A necessary condition for being a murderer is that one has actually killed someone. What are the necessary conditions for actually being (as opposed to merely being claimed to be) a witch?

Reginald Selkirk said...

No one but you has said anything about using confessions drawn out by torture.

If you study the history of witch-hunting in Europe and North America, you will find that most of the confessions were obtained by torture.

2. Eyewitness accounts can be unreliable at times which is why the witnesses are often cross examined, and lawyers like to have more than one. but they are still used and have been found to be very helpful. I am finding though that you are not a lawyer,

Thank you.

and it seems have not even watched court t.v. Eyewitnesses, when they are available, are invaluable to the court.

Nonetheless, there is substantial research available on the reliability of eyewitness accounts. This was research done in controlled environments, with video cameras to verify what actually happened, etc. I consider this to be more reliable than what happens in courtrooms.

3. It is the person practicing witchcraft, not witchcraft that is on trial. The Salem witch trials were not about the effectiveness of the witchcraft the girls were supposedly practicing. It was about whether or not the girls were practicing witchcraft, of which there is such a thing.

So you want to refer to the practice of casting spells as "witchcraft," even if the spells don't work? (And they don't.) I won't bother arguing vocabulary with you.

Bror Erickson said...

Reginald,
I could really careless how the majority of confessions to witchcraft were obtained. All I said is confessions are regarded in court as evidence. I too would throw out a confession that was obtained through torture. However in the hypothetical case that we have introduced here, should someone be tried as a witch and we had their confession as to being one, I would if judge admit that into evidence.
Also all the witches I have ever known have considered what they do to be witchcraft. I consider it to be the same, whether they are actually able to make it work or not.
What this boils down to is at best that Matt has merely posited that the legal system failed in regards to the Salem witches. Like I said I have never investigated it. But I have seen plenty of times where the legal system as improperly prosecuted people, where guilty have gone free, and innocent gone to jail. I have also seen it work properly and prosecute guilty, and exonerate the innocent.
The question the apologist deals with is whether or not the evidence for the resurrection adds up or not. It is a separate case and demands to be tried as such. It cannot be merely dismissed based on the fact that at one time the system failed.
Can you imagine that being the defense of a criminal? Well last week you prosecuted and innocent man, so this case needs to be dismissed? I don't think that is going to fly.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Also all the witches I have ever known have considered what they do to be witchcraft. I consider it to be the same, whether they are actually able to make it work or not.

All the astrologers I have ever known believe that astrology works. All the dowsers I have ever known believe that dowsing works. All the homeopaths I have ever met believe that homeopathy works. All the self-declared alien abductees I have met actually believe in alien abduction. I believe that astrology, homeopathy, dowsing, alien abduction, etc. exist, as activities that people participate in and even believe in.

And yet I don't believe that any of them actually work. And that is not irrelevant. That is McCormick's very point: "So what the Salem Witch Trials show is that it is possible to meet an even heavier burden of proof than the one boasted about by the advocates of the historical Jesus argument, and it is still not reasonable to believe that anything magical happened."

If you actually do believe in magic, then I can only view that as unfortunate.

Reginald Selkirk said...

Woman claims NU fired her for being witch

Anonymous said...

I dont treat many historians as historically accurate either tully. Does that make me right?