Sunday, March 22, 2009

Questions for Jason

The extended and wide ranging discussion with Jason Engwer continues. It's all very disorganized. I'm banned at Triablogue, so I can't respond there, which would allow for a continuous thread. So everything is everywhere.

But it's just as well, because these days you never know if they're going to delete everything you've posted. For instance John Loftus has offered many thoughtful posts there. They're all now gone as punishment I suppose. Rebuttals to his arguments remain, but his counters aren't viewable. Perhaps they are attempting to protect viewers from potential faith shaking information. To me though the attempt to shield viewers from certain statements is more faith shaking than anything. But to each his own.

Jason is continuing his pattern of lots of verbiage, little substance. He raises a topic and as I rebut he just hops to a new argument and ignores my rebuttal. I'll illustrate some of the things he's dodged with a series of questions.

1-You say that skeptics are inconsistent in that the arguments they use to discredit the NT would also discredit Tacitus. Tell us which skeptics you have in mind and what their arguments are regarding Tacitus.

2-You say that I'm inconsistent because Josephus used an assistant, yet I've "ignored" the use of an assistant for the NT. What does this argument mean?

3-You keep repeating the charge that some scholars regard Josephus as a liar. Why do you keep repeating this when I've already said I'd be open to that and this doesn't mean the other information he offers shouldn't be trusted?

4-You quote the opinions of conservative evangelicals to the effect that you are right and we skeptics are wrong. I don't think that's very compelling. You responded by asking if we should treat Richard Carrier the same way. I said we should. Do you now concede that quoting the opinions of friendly sources is not very compelling and certainly does not constitute an argument?

5-You claim that I posit an interpolation at Mt 17. Do you admit that this is not true?

6-You claim that a report can't be an eyewitness report if we don't have the name. Do you now admit that this is false?

7-Is it unreasonable to accept the scholarly position when you are unaware of any dispute on the matter even though you may not have first hand knowledge? Like germ theory for instance? You've responded by saying Eisenmann is weird, read his table of contents at a lecture, has minority opinions on other issues. How is any of that relevant to my point?

8-I claim an anachronism in Romans. You claim a potential anachronism from Josephus and suggest that since I believe Romans contains an anachronism and reject Pauline authorship on this basis (though in fact there are additional reasons), I should likewise reject Josephus. Isn't it a fact that not every anachronism is proof of forgery? The anachronism you claim from Josephus doesn't necessarily imply forgery, but the one in Romans obviously does.

9-Please elaborate on the verisimilitude argument of yours. I think it makes no sense at all, just like the amanuensis argument referenced above. Show me that I'm wrong or admit you aren't making any sense.

It seems I'm raising points, and rather than giving answers you just move on to a new argument. Or you offer a defense of what is not in dispute as I document in the comment section here. Now it's "I, Josephus." When I've dealt with that it will be on to the next point. We'll write over 95 pages again and just go from one thing to the next. You ought to deal with the issues on the table before moving on to new topics. Either answer the questions or concede your errors.


Anonymous said...

Jon, I don't even bother with the blowhards at Triablogue and if I were you I wouldn't waste my time with them either. They're merely talking to themselves and a small obnoxious sect within the ranks of Christianity. Quit beating yourself against the wall and move on with to respectable Christian apologists and theologians.

Jon said...

No way, man. You have to understand that for me this is not beating my head against a wall. This is fun. I'm learning. See, I just learned about "I, Josephus." This allows me to further refine my own argument. I learn while interacting with Jason.

Not Steve. There's nothing that I can glean from interactions with him, so I don't bother.

Jason is always going to mouth a response. There is often some content involved initially, and I'm interested in learning that. After a while, yeah, he's not saying anything worthwhile, and the discussion is over with. But until that time there's a chance to learn something. This is not about converting them or those that read their blog. I do this purely for my own benefit.

Anonymous said...

Fun and learning are good.

It's just that it's not fun for me and I don't learn much from them to be worth my effort.

Jon said...

Here's another question for you, Jason. You seem to be arguing that if you are interacting with a skeptic that engages in discussions with you and ultimately leaves that discussion without responding to your final points, this means you are not obligated to answer direct questions from that person in the future. After all, they've failed to answer your questions, so why should you be obligated to answer theirs?

So with that in mind, can you point to any skeptic that has interacted with you at any substantial length that doesn't leave the discussion first in conversations with you? If not, it would seem that you are not obligated to answer questions from any skeptic that you've routinely interacted with.

That works out pretty well for you, because now whenever you are faced with a tough question you have an excuse available that will permit you to avoid it. Not just with me, but with anybody that has spent any time talking with you.

So tell us which skeptics could justifiably expect answers to questions or expect you to deal with their rebuttals rather than ignoring them.

But then you'll ignore this question because I left past discussions with you (as have all skeptics you've dealt with). I can't win.