bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – Part 10: The “Blood and Water” Objection

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Part #6 through Part #9, I have argued that Peter Kreeft’s “Break their Legs” objection, Objection #2 against The Survival Theory (TST),  is a complete FAILURE.
Objection #2 has two main components, and can be summarized like this:

1. A Roman soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was hanging on the cross because the soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead.

2. IF a Roman soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was hanging on the cross because the soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus died on the cross.

THEREFORE:

3. It is virtually certain that Jesus died on the cross.

Premise (1) is probably FALSE because it rests on two questionable assumptions: (a) that the story in the 4th Gospel of the Roman soldier deciding to NOT break Jesus’ legs while Jesus was on the cross is a reliable and accurate account of historical events, and (b) that this story shows that the Roman soldier was firmly convinced that Jesus was already dead.
Premise (2) is FALSE, because Roman soldiers were NOT modern medical doctors; they did NOT have modern medical knowledge, and they did not have modern medical technology, and they did not receive modern medical training.  So, Roman soldiers were quite capable of making an incorrect diagnosis of death.
Because premise (1) is probably FALSE, and because premise (2) is clearly FALSE, Objection #2 is based on an UNSOUND argument, and thus is a complete FAILURE.
In this current post, I will move on to consider Kreeft’s “Blood and Water” objection, Objection #3.
 
OBJECTION #3: THE “BLOOD AND WATER” OBJECTION

The piercing of Jesus’s side by the Holy Lance of Longinus, fresco by Fra Angelico

 
Here is Kreeft’s third objection against TST:

John, an eyewitness, certified that he saw blood and water come from Jesus’ pierced heart (Jn 19:34-35). This shows that Jesus’ lungs had collapsed and he had died of asphyxiation. Any medical expert can vouch for this. (Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p.183)

 
 
 

 As with Objection #2, there are two primary claims involved in Objection #3:

4. Blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

5. IF blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

THEREFORE:

6. It is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (4) OF THE “BLOOD AND WATER” OBJECTION
Kreeft’s Objection #3 rests upon a claim about the crucifixion of Jesus:

4. Blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced heart while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

This premise is in turn based upon a number of other assumptions:

A1. A Roman soldier stabbed Jesus with a spear while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A2. Blood and water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A3. This was not merely a poke to see if Jesus would react with pain, but was a forceful thrust of the spear into Jesus’ side.

A4. The spear pierced Jesus’ heart.

A5. The blood and water coming out of the wound were from Jesus’ heart.

The first two assumptions, (A1) and (A2) is are claims based directly on the following passage from the 4th Gospel:

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 
32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 
33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 
35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 
36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 
37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
(John 19:31-37, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

But this passage only says that the soldier “pierced his side with a spear“.  It does NOT say that the soldier “pierced Jesus’ heart with a spear”.  The passage also does NOT say that the soldier forcefully thrust the spear into Jesus’ side (as opposed to just poking Jesus lightly with his spear).  The passage also does NOT indicate that the blood and water flowed from Jesus’ heart.  Thus the assumptions (A3), (A4), and (A5) are NOT directly asserted by this passage from the 4th Gospel.
These additional assumptions require some medical knowledge and justification.  However, Kreeft provides ZERO JUSTIFICATION for these additional medical assumptions; he makes no effort whatsoever to prove that these three other questionable assumptions are true.  Premise (4) is therefore dubious, because three of the assumptions it is based on are questionable and Kreeft has made no attempt to justify those questionable medical assumptions.
Also, assumption (A2) is NOT strictly an historical claim; it too requires some medical knowledge and justification, because blood and water cannot be identified purely on the basis of simple visual observation.  There are liquids that look like blood that are NOT blood, and there are liquids that look like water that are NOT water.  In order to stick with historical claims that could be confirmed by an ordinary eyewitness and simple visual observation, as opposed to claims that would require medical expertise or medical justification, assumption (A2) should be re-stated in purely phenomenological terms (in terms that an ordinary witness could confirm by simple visual observation of the event):

A2′. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A similar adjustment needs to be made to assumption (A5):

A5′. The liquid that looked like blood and the liquid that looked like water coming out of Jesus’ wound was from Jesus’ heart.

At best, the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel can be used to justify assumptions (A1) and (A2′):

A1. A Roman soldier stabbed Jesus with a spear while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

A2′. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the spear wound while Jesus was still hanging on the cross.

The remaining three assumptions are NOT assumptions that the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel directly asserts or justifies, and thus these assumptions require some additional justification:

A3. This was not merely a poke to see if Jesus would react with pain, but was a forceful thrust of the spear into Jesus’ side.

A4. The spear pierced Jesus’ heart.

A5′. The liquid that looked like blood and the liquid that looked like water coming out of Jesus’ wound was from Jesus’ heart.

Because premise (4) as it stands involves these additional questionable assumptions that Kreeft has made NO ATTEMPT to support or to justify, we can dismiss premise (4) as a dubious and insufficiently supported claim.
However, we can also revise the basic argument behind Objection #3, in order to separate out the various questionable assumptions and to focus the main premise on a strictly historical claim, which could potentially be confirmed by an ordinary witness on the basis of simple visual observation.  This would require shifting the content of the above questionable and unjustified assumptions to the second premise of the argument.
 
REVISED VERSION OF KREEFT’S ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3
Here is such a modified version of Kreeft’s argument for Objection #3:

4A. Liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the wound in Jesus’ side while Jesus was hanging on the cross.

5A. IF liquid that looked like blood and liquid that looked like water came from the wound in Jesus’ side while Jesus was hanging on the cross, THEN it is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

THEREFORE:

6. It is virtually certain that Jesus had already died of asphyxiation while he was hanging on the cross.

 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (5A) OF THE REVISED ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3
This revised version of Kreeft’s argument improves the plausibility of the initial premise (4A), but does so at the cost of damage to the plausibility of the other premise (5A).  The justification of premise (5A) would require justification of each of the three assumptions mentioned above (A3), (A4), and (A5′), and it would also require justification of a further questionable medical assumption:

A6. The flow of liquid that looks like blood and liquid that looks like water from a pierced heart seen coming out of the exterior wound clearly indicates that the person had previously died of asphyxiation.

So, premise (5A) is based on at least four different questionable assumptions for which Kreeft has provided NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER!  Given Kreeft’s apparent inability to construct a strong argument for ANY Christian belief, it is highly unlikely that he would be capable of producing a strong justification for all four of these questionable and unsupported assumptions.  Therefore, we are justified in rejecting this modified argument for Objection #3, simply on the basis that premise (5A) is very dubious, and it is unlikely that Kreeft would be able to come up with a solid justification for all of the various questionable assumptions upon which (5A) is based.
 
EVALUATION OF PREMISE (4A) OF THE REVISED ARGUMENT FOR OBJECTION #3
Nevertheless, setting aside the very dubious character of premise (5A), we have many very good reasons to doubt the truth of premise (4A).  Although premise (4A), unlike (5A), could potentially be supported by the testimony of an ordinary witness on the basis of simple visual observations, we have very good reasons to doubt that the relevant passage from the 4th Gospel provides us with reliable and accurate historical information.
This is the SAME PASSAGE (John 19: 31-37) that Kreeft relied on to support his Objection #2, and there are at least ten good reasons for doubting the reliability and historicity of that passage from the 4th Gospel:

POINT #1: The 4th Gospel was probably NOT written by an eyewitness of the life, ministry, or crucifixion of Jesus.  

POINT #2: The 4th Gospel is the least historically reliable of the four Gospels.  

I have previously covered Point#1 and Point#2 in Part 6 of this series of posts.

POINT #3: The account of the trial and crucifixion in the 4th Gospel conflicts with the trial and crucifixion accounts in other Gospels.

POINT #4: Internal conflicts in this passage cast doubt on the historicity and reliability of this passage.

POINT #5: This passage is reasonably viewed as “prophecy historicized’, thus there is a good chance that Kreeft’s two key historical claims are FICTIONAL.

I have previously covered Point#3, Point#4, and Point#5 in Part 8 of this series of posts.

POINT #6: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the two key historical claims that Kreeft derives from this passage in the 4th gospel.

POINT #7: Other gospels provide no corroboration of Jewish leaders asking Pilate to remove bodies from crosses before the Sabbath day began.

POINT #8: Other gospels provide no corroboration of a wound in Jesus’ side.

POINT #9: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross.

POINT #10: Other gospels provide no corroboration of stories about the beloved disciple.

I have previously covered the last five points in Part 9 of this series of posts.
 
CONCLUSION ABOUT OBJECTION #3
We have seen that premise (5A) is very dubious because it is based upon a number of questionable assumptions for which Kreeft makes NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to justify.  So, we are reasonable in rejecting this premise as a highly questionable claim, completely lacking rational justification.
Furthermore, it is clear that the premise that appeared initially to be more plausible, namely premise (4A),  is also highly dubious, and probably FALSE, because it is based on the highly dubious assumption that a particular passage from the 4th Gospel provides an accurate and reliable account of historical events.  But there are many good reasons for doubting the reliability and historicity of that particular passage from the 4th Gospel.
Because premise (5A) is very dubious and completely lacking in rational justification, and because premise (4A) is probably FALSE because it rests on a very dubious passage from the 4th Gospel, it is very likely that the argument supporting Objection #3 is based on at least one, and possibly two, FALSE PREMISES, and thus is an UNSOUND ARGUMENT.
Kreeft has once again completely FAILED in his attempt to refute The Survival Theory.

bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – Part 9: More Problems with Objection #2

WHERE WE ARE AT
Kreeft’s Objection #2 (the “Break their Legs” objection) against The Survival Theory (hereafter: TST) has at least three problems:

PROBLEM 1:  Roman Soldiers were NOT Medical Doctors

PROBLEM 2:  The Same Passage Implies the Soldiers were NOT Sure Jesus was Dead

PROBLEM 3:  The Key Historical Claims Made by Kreeft are DUBIOUS

In Part 7 of this series, I provided a list of ten different points related to Problem 3 with this objection.
In Part 6 of this series I provided some evidence and reasoning supporting Point #1 and Point #2 of those ten points concerning Problem 3.
In Part 8 of this series I provided some evidence and reasoning supporting Point #3, Point #4, and Point #5 of those ten points concerning Problem 3.
In this post, I will provide some evidence and reasoning supporting the remaining five points concerning Problem 3 with Kreeft’s “Break their Legs” objection (Objection #2).
 
FIVE MORE POINTS CONCERNING PROBLEM 3 WITH KREEFT’S “BREAK THEIR LEGS” OBJECTION
POINT #6: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the two key historical claims that Kreeft derives from this passage in the 4th gospel:

  • No corroboration that legs of other crucified men were broken.
  • No corroboration that a soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs.

The Gospel of Mark makes no mention about Roman soldiers breaking the legs of any of the crucified men, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention about a Roman soldier making a decision to NOT break the legs of Jesus, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
POINT #7: Other gospels provide no corroboration of Jewish leaders asking Pilate to remove bodies from crosses before the Sabbath day began.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention about Jewish leaders asking Pilate for the crucified men to be removed from their crosses before the start of the Sabbath, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
POINT #8: Other gospels provide no corroboration of a wound in Jesus’ side.

  • No corroboration that a soldier stabbed Jesus.
  • No corroboration of a wound in Jesus’ side while he was on the cross.
  • No corroboration of flow of blood and water from Jesus’ side.
  • No corroboration of doubting Thomas story.
  • No corroboration of a wound in the side of the risen Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of a Roman soldier stabbing Jesus with a spear, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of there being a wound in Jesus’ side while Jesus was on the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of blood and water flowing from Jesus’ body while he was on the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of Thomas being a skeptic and demanding to touch the wound in the side of the risen Jesus, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of the risen Jesus having a wound in his side, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
POINT #9: Other gospels provide no corroboration of the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross.

  • No corroboration of disciples at the foot of the cross.
  • No corroboration of words spoken by Jesus from the cross to any disciple.
  • No corroboration of the presence of Jesus’ mother at the crucifixion.
  • No corroboration of words spoken by Jesus from the cross to his mother.

The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of there being some of Jesus’ disciples standing at the foot of the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of Jesus speaking to one of his disciples from the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of Jesus’ mother being present at his crucifixion, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of Jesus speaking to his mother from the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.


NOTE:
I understand that the lack of corroboration is considered an “argument from silence” and that such arguments are considered to be weak.  However, the silence here is deafening!  In Points #6 through #9, there are TWELVE different events closely related to the passage in the 4th Gospel that we are evaluating, and NOT A SINGLE ONE of those TWELVE events is mentioned in ANY of the other three Gospels.  There were thus 36 different opportunities for the other three Gospels to corroborate one of those events, yet there is NO CORROBORATION of ANY of the twelve events!  The most plausible explanation of this uniform silence in the other three Gospels is that the passage from the 4th Gospel (John 19:31-37) is NOT HISTORICAL but is a FICTIONAL story.


POINT #10: Other gospels provide no corroboration of stories about the beloved disciple.

  • No corroboration of the Beloved Disciple at the Last Supper.
  • No corroboration of the Beloved Disciple at High Priest’s courtyard.
  • No corroboration of Beloved Disciple at foot of the cross.
  • No corroboration of Beloved Disciple at empty tomb with Peter.
  • No corroboration of Beloved Disciple fishing in Galilee when risen Jesus appears.

The very existence of “the beloved disciple” is questionable, adding further reason to doubt the historical reliability of the passage that Kreeft is relying upon for his Objection #2.

The Beloved Disciple arrives at the Sepulchre before Peter – by James Tissot

The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of a “beloved disciple” being at the Last Supper, nor of there being a disciple who leans on Jesus as the Last Supper, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of a disciple helping Peter to get access into the courtyard of the High Priest, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of a “beloved disciple” being at the foot of the cross, nor of Jesus speaking to one of his disciples from the cross, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of Peter running with another disciple to the empty tomb of Jesus, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke (Luke, unlike Mark and Matthew, does mention Peter running to the empty tomb, but makes no mention of there being another disciple who ran with Peter).
The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples in Galilee while they are busy fishing, nor does the Gospel of Matthew, nor does the Gospel of Luke.
These are FIVE different events mentioned above involving “the Beloved Disciple”, according to the 4th Gospel.  Yet there is ZERO CORROBORATION of ANY of these five events in ANY of the other three Gospels.  There were 15 different opportunities for one of the other Gospels to report one of these events, yet there is there is NO CORROBORATION of ANY of the five events.  This is evidence that the “Beloved Disciple” is a fictional character.  This silence in the other three Gospels is thus further evidence that the passage that Kreeft relies upon from the 4th Gospel (John 19:31-37) is NOT HISTORICAL but is a FICTIONAL story.

bookmark_borderThe Swoon Theory is a THEORY (duh!) not an ARGUMENT

WHAT IS THE SWOON THEORY?
Here are some things that The Swoon Theory is NOT:

  • it is NOT a flavor of ice cream
  • it is NOT a board game
  • it is NOT an exotic pet
  • it is NOT a poisonous insecticide
  • it is NOT a sexual position
  • it is NOT a type of aircraft
  • it is NOT a kind of virus or microorganism
  • it is NOT an astronomical body
  • it is NOT a color or shape

Obviously, there a millions of different kinds of things that are NOT The Swoon Theory.
Obviously, The Swoon Theory is some sort of intellectual thing, an IDEA of some kind.
Even the very muddled and confused Joe Hinman understands that The Swoon Theory is some sort of IDEA or intellectual kind of thing.
 
HINMAN IS NOT INTELLECTUALLY CAPABLE OF EDUCATING OTHERS ABOUT THE SWOON THEORY

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously is a sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical. (Wikipedia article “Colorless green ideas…”)

But knowing that The Swoon Theory is an IDEA of some kind is a rather VAGUE bit of information.  This information is not enough to make one intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.  So, although Joe Hinman understands that The Swoon Theory is some kind of IDEA or intellectual thing, that is NOT enough to make him qualified to educate others about The Swoon Theory.  In fact, Hinman is NOT intellectually qualified to educate others about The Swoon Theory, because he doesn’t understand what sort of thing The Swoon Theory is.
Hinman recently published a post criticizing my posts about Kreeft’s attempt to refute The Swoon Theory.  When I read the first paragraph of Hinman’s post, I knew immediately that he was writing about things that he did NOT understand:
Let’s go back to bread and butter apologetic. The resurrection debate. One of the most hackney and ridiculous arguments is the “swoon theory” the kind of thing that was big among 19th century liberals who were trying to naturalize the Gospel. Nineteenth century atheists ate that stuff up, and late 20th century internet atheists dug it up and tired to make it live again. The swoon theory says that Jesus didn’t die on the cross he was just unconscious and latter taken away by followers, This argumemt [sic] is answered  efficiently (if not unnecessarily) Peter Kreeft.  The argument is defended from Kreeft’s refutation by the wise old vetran [sic] of the message board apologetic wars,  that champion of reason Bradley “literally right” Bowen, in his magnum opus in 32 parts, Here we will examine  Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 7: The “Break their Legs” Objection  (july 2019 Bradley Bowen)… [emphasis added]
In the very first paragraph of his post, Hinman refers to The Swoon Theory as an “argument” no less that three times.  But The Swoon Theory is a THEORY, and it is NOT an ARGUMENT.
Furthermore, it is OBVIOUS to me, and to every major Christian philosopher and Christian apologist that The Swoon Theory is a THEORY and that it is NOT an ARGUMENT.  So, Joe not only FAILS to understand what sort of thing The Swoon Theory is, but he is virtually ALONE among Christian thinkers in FAILING to understand this BASIC and OBVIOUS point about the nature of The Swoon Theory.
So, when I read the above first paragraph of his post, I concluded that Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating anyone about The Swoon Theory:

1. Anyone who does NOT understand that the Swoon Theory is a THEORY is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

2. Hinman does NOT understand that the Swoon Theory is a THEORY.

THEREFORE:

3. Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

If you read any more than the first paragraph of Hinman’s post, you will be wasting your time reading intellectual garbage from a very confused and muddled thinker.
I pointed out this problem to Mr. Hinman, but he was not in any way willing to admit his serious category mistake.  If Hinman were intellectually competent to discuss this subject, he would have replied to my objection something like this:

You are correct that The Swoon Theory is a THEORY and that it is NOT an argument.  I was very tired and hungry when I wrote that paragraph, so my brain was not fully functional at the time.  Having gotten some rest and something to eat, my brain is now more functional, and I see that I made a significant blunder in that first paragraph, by wrongly characterizing The Swoon Theory as an “argument”.  It is clearly NOT an argument, so I have edited and revised that paragraph to remove my mistaken characterization of The Swoon Theory.  Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

No such honest and intelligent response came from Hinman.  Instead, he doubled down on his idiotic error.  Here is my challenge and Hinman’s response:

Bradley Bowen said:

You mischaracterize the topic here. The swoon theory is a THEORY, not an argument.

Arguments can be given FOR the swoon theory, and arguments can be given AGAINST the swoon theory, but the subject here is a THEORY, not an argument.

Joe Hinman said:

Is the swoon theory a theory? Isn’t that a misnomer? Perhaps it should be swoon argument to the passover plot theory,?

So, even after I clearly point out his category mistake,  Joe continues to insist on the idiotic notion that The Swoon Theory is an ARGUMENT.  Not only does Joe FAIL to understand the basic nature of the thing he is writing about (i.e. The Swoon Theory), but he clings to his erroneous understanding even after his error is clearly pointed out.  He is not merely ignorant, he is willfully and hopelessly ignorant.  For this reason, he is clearly NOT intellectually capable of educating anyone about The Swoon Theory.
When I pointed out to Joe that virtually every major Christian philosopher and Christian apologist calls The Swoon Theory a “theory” or an “hypothesis”, and that no major Christian philosopher or Christian apologist refers to The Swoon Theory as an “argument”, Joe simply dug in his heels and clung tightly to his ignorance:

I really don’t give a shit what apologists call it or wht[sic] you call it…

Now that is stubborn ignorance!  Don’t confuse Joe with the facts, his mind is made up.
Not only does Hinman wrongly characterize The Swoon Theory as being an ARGUMENT, but he is also very confused about what it means for something to be an ARGUMENT.  In other words, based on what Hinman says on this issue, it is clear that he does not understand the distinction between an ARGUMENT and a THEORY.
If he does not understand this distinction, then that is ANOTHER reason showing that he is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.  Even if he changed his tune, and began to characterize The Swoon Theory as a THEORY, this would not show that he understood what kind of thing The Swoon Theory is.  He might still retain his UNCLEAR and MUDDLED understanding of what it means for something to be a THEORY:

4. Anyone who does NOT understand the distinction betwen a THEORY and an ARGUMENT is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

5. Hinman does NOT understand the distinction betwen a THEORY and an ARGUMENT.

THEREFORE:

3. Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

Clearly, in his post, Hinman was arguing against The Swoon Theory.  That is, he was arguing that The Swoon Theory is FALSE.  There is nothing wrong about arguing that a particular theory is FALSE.  But according to Hinman, he was not arguing that a THEORY was FALSE, but rather that an ARGUMENT was FALSE.  That, however, is a bush-league error in his thinking.
One of the first things taught in an introductory course in Logic or Critical Thinking is how to identify an ARGUMENT and to distinguish arguments from other sorts of things (like theories).  Part of learning to understand what an ARGUMENT is, is learning that ARGUMENTS are not TRUE or FALSE.   Claims and theories can be TRUE or FALSE, but not ARGUMENTS!  This is a very basic concept of Logic and Critical Thinking.
So, if Hinman believes that The Swoon Theory is an ARGUMENT and he also believes that The Swoon Theory is FALSE, then he clearly believes that ARGUMENTS can be FALSE.  But this is a basic error about the nature of ARGUMENTS.  So, Hinman is confused about what an ARGUMENT is, and about what a THEORY is, and so it is no wonder that he mistakenly characterizes The Swoon Theory as being an ARGUMENT.  His thinking is so UNCLEAR and CONFUSED that he fails to see any difference between ARGUMENTS and THEORIES.
Just to make sure I understood his thinking correctly,  I posed a very simple question to Hinman:

IS THE SWOON THEORY FALSE?

His response confirmed my suspicion:

are you that stupid? it should be obvious as hell L[sic] think its false my article clearly said so

It was indeed obvious, but I wanted to have Hinman himself clearly verify that the idiotic view that I believed him to hold was indeed his view:

The Swoon Theory is a FALSE ARGUMENT. 

This shows clearly that Hinman does NOT understand what an argument is, and thus he does NOT understand the distinction between an ARGUMENT and a THEORY.  One of the most obvious and basic differences between a THEORY and and ARGUMENT, is that a THEORY can be true or false, but an ARGUMENT cannot be true or false.
It is pretty easy to see that an ARGUMENT cannot be true or false, if you think a little about some simple examples of ARGUMENTS.

6. Some dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

7. Snow is white.

The above argument is clearly a BAD argument, but the premise (6) is TRUE, and the conclusion (7) is also TRUE.  So, should our evaluation of this argument be that it is a “TRUE ARGUMENT”?  That doesn’t seem right!

8. No dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

7. Snow is white.

This argument is also clearly a BAD argument, but the premise (8) is FALSE, while the conclusion (7) is TRUE.  So, should we say that this is a “TRUE ARGUMENT” or a “FALSE ARGUMENT”?  Neither evaluation seems to fit right.  But it also seems unhelpful and confusing to say that this argument is both “TRUE and FALSE”.

9.  All dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

6. Some dogs have fleas.

This argument also contains a mixture of truth and falsehood.  Premise (9) is clearly FALSE, but the conclusion (6) is clearly TRUE.  Furthermore, although the premise of this argument is FALSE, it is in some way a better argument than the preceding two arguments, because the premise is RELEVANT to the conclusion.  In fact, if premise (9) were true, then that would prove the conclusion to be true (that at least some dogs have fleas, assuming that there is at least one dog).  But again, it seems confused and misleading to simply evaluate this as being a “TRUE ARGUMENT” or as being a “FALSE ARGUMENT”.
We could go through many more examples, but these three simple examples should be enough to cast serious doubt on the whole idea of evaluating arguments as being TRUE or FALSE.  The CLAIMS that make up arguments can be evaluated as TRUE or FALSE, but the ARGUMENT in which those claims appear is something more than just that set of claims.  An argument contains some LOGIC or INFERENCE in addition to the claims in the argument.  The LOGIC of an argument connects some claims to other claims, the premises to the conclusion.
That is why one of the first things you learn in a Logic or Critical Thinking course is that arguments are evaluated as “valid” or “invalid” as “sound” or “unsound” as “cogent” or “not cogent” but arguments are NOT evaluated as TRUE or FALSE.  A theory can be TRUE or FALSE, but an ARGUMENT cannot be TRUE or FALSE.
Thus, when Hinman indicates that his view is that The Swoon Theory is a FALSE ARGUMENT, he clearly demonstrates that he does not understand what an ARGUMENT is, and that he does not understand the distinction between a THEORY and an ARGUMENT.
 
HINMAN IS VIRTUALLY ALONE IN VIEWING THE SWOON THEORY AS AN ARGUMENT

  • Matt Slick of CARM uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and he also refers to this idea as “the theory that…”.
  • Dr. Peter Kreeft uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and refers to it as one of “five possible theories”.
    (Note that Kreeft never uses the term “The Swoon Argument” in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics)
  • Sheri Bell from the Josh McDowell Ministry uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and she refers to this idea as “this theory”.
  • Ken Boa uses the label “Swoon Theory” and that he refers to it as being a “theory”.

Other Christian Philosophers and Apologists use the same or similar language:

  • Dr. William Craig prefers the label “Apparent Death Theory” and he refers to this idea as “this theory” and as “a theory” in The Son Rises (p.36 and 40). Craig does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”, at least not in that book.
  • Richard Swinburne does not use any label, but in his book The Resurrection of God Incarnate he does refer to this view as being one of various “Rival Theories” and as being a “theory” (p.174 and 175).  He does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Michael Licona in their book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, use the labels “Apparent Death Theory” and “the swoon theory” (p.99-103), and they refer to it as a “theory” (p.81 and 103), and they never refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Frank Turek and Dr. Norman Geisler use the labels “Swoon or Apparent Death Theory” and “the swoon theory” in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (p.304, 305, and 306). They refer to this idea as “this theory” (p.304) and as being one of a number of “Skeptical Theories” (p.301) or as an “alternative theory” (p.305). They do NOT use the label “the swoon argument” nor the label “the Apparent Death argument”, and they do NOT refer to this idea as being an “argument”.
  • Dr. Ronald Nash uses the label “the swoon theory” in his book Faith & Reason (p.268), and he refers to this idea as a “theory” (p.268), but does not refer to it as an “argument”.
  • Josh McDowell prefers the label “Resuscitation Theory” but notes that it is called the “swoon theory”, and he refers to this idea as “this theory” and “this hypothesis” in The Resurrection Factor (p.98). He does NOT refer to this idea as the “Resuscitation Argument” nor as the “Swoon Argument”.
  • Hank Nanegraaff uses the label “the swoon theory” in his book Resurrection (p.20-22), and he quotes Habermas as referring to this idea as “this theory” (p.21), and he does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Lee Strobel uses the label “the swoon hypothesis” and “the swoon theory” in The Case for Christ (p.192, 193, and 202). Strobel does NOT use the label “the swoon argument”, nor does he refer to this idea as an “argument”.

I don’t know of ANY major Christian Apologist who refers to this idea as being an “argument” or who uses the label “The Swoon Argument” or “The Apparent Death Argument”.  Joe Hinman appears to be ALONE in calling “The Swoon Theory” the “Swoon Argument” and in referring to this idea as being an “argument”.  This is because all of these Christian thinkers understand the difference between a THEORY and an ARGUMENT, but Hinman does NOT have this basic understanding.
 
THE IDEA THAT ARGUMENTS ARE NEITHER TRUE NOR FALSE IS A BASIC CONCEPT OF LOGIC

 1. An argument is a set of statements including premise(s) and conclusion(s). An argument is not the same as an assertion and is not identical to its conclusion. Arguments are not true or false. One appraises the truth and falsity of their premises and conclusions and the logical relation between their premise(s) and conclusion(s).
First Steps in Formal Logic 2
Arguments: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Remember: propositions (premises, conclusions) are true or false; but arguments are not true or false. Rather, they are valid, invalid, sound, or unsound.  (p.4)
Common Misconceptions
Arguments are not “true” or “false”. Sentences can be true or false.
Arguments can only be valid/invalid, or sound/unsound. (p.1)
Truth and validity are two concepts that are as different from each other as football is from origami. Truth and validity are not the same. You should never, ever, confuse the two—especially on the LSAT.
Truth is a property of sentences (or to be more precise, declarative statements). I think we all know the definition of truth and yes, it’s what you think. For a statement like “all dogs go to heaven,” it’s true if all dogs go to heaven. It’s false when it’s not the case that all dogs go to heaven. False statements are sometimes called lies.

Let’s bring the distinction home. Validity is a property of arguments. Validity is not a property of statements. Truth is a property of statements. Truth is not a property of arguments. What does this mean? Try thinking about this example. I think we all know that we can’t say about the number “2″ that it’s happy. Why? Because it just doesn’t make sense. Why? Because emotional states are not properties of numbers. Analogously, you can’t say about an argument that it’s true or false. Simply because truth isn’t a property of arguments.

Section 1.3 and 1.4: Deductive and Inductive Arguments

You should make an effort to understand some critical distinctions found in section 1.4. of your text:

  • true statements/false statements;
  • valid arguments/invalid arguments; and
  • sound arguments/unsound arguments.

These distinctions are important in understanding the rest of the course material. Remember that arguments are not true or false; only the statements that make up arguments are true or false. The statements in an argument are the conclusion and the premises. Validity concerns the connection between the premises and the conclusion. In a valid argument the premises could never be true and the conclusion false. “A valid argument is one in which the conclusion must be true if the premises are true.”

Lecture on Validity and Soundness (Powerpoint) 

Note Well:
Only arguments are valid or invalid.
Not statements
(Statements are either true or false; arguments are not true or false) 
(slide #16)

Common Fallacies in Moral Reasoning

Argument Basics:
• Claim: a declarative statement, proposition, or claim about reality that is either true or false.
• Complex claim: one or more simple claims joined with an operator (and, or, not, if…then…).
• Argument: one or more claims (called premises) intended to support the truth of another claim (called a conclusion).
• Premises provides: grounds, reasons, justification, support, evidence for a conclusion.
• Arguments are not true or false; only claims are true or false.
• Arguments are either good or bad.
• Fallacy: an error in reasoning.
(p.1)

bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – Part 8: Problems with the “Break their Legs” Objection

WHERE WE ARE AT
In Part 7 of this series, I presented Peter Kreeft’s “Break their Legs” Objection (i.e., Objection #2) against the swoon theory, and, more properly, against The Survival Theory (hereafter: TST).   I pointed out three significant problems with Objection #2:

PROBLEM 1:  Roman Soldiers were NOT Medical Doctors

PROBLEM 2:  The Same Passage Implies the Soldiers were NOT Sure Jesus was Dead

PROBLEM 3:  The Key Historical Claims Made by Kreeft are DUBIOUS

I also provided a list of ten different points related to the third problem with this objection.  Now I am going to provide some more details supporting the ten points concerning Problem 3 with Kreeft’s “Break their Legs” objection.
The key historical claims in Objection #2, that Kreeft wrongly categorizes as “fact” are as follows:

  • The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus broke the legs of the other men who were crucified along with Jesus, while those men were still hanging on their crosses.
  • The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus did not break Jesus’ legs while he was still hanging on his cross, because they believed he was already dead.

These are clearly NOT historical facts.  They are questionable inferences based on the unreasonable assumption that the 4th Gospel provides us with reliable historical information about the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus.
 
TEN POINTS AGAINST THE RELIABILITY OF THE 4TH GOSPEL’S ACCOUNT OF THE CRUCIFIXION
The following ten points provide good reasons to doubt the historical reliability of the 4th Gospel’s account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, and especially about the historical reliability of the specific passage that Kreeft uses as evidence for his key historical claims (namely, John 19:31-34).
 
POINT #1: The 4th Gospel was probably NOT written by an eyewitness of the life, ministry, or crucifixion of Jesus.
I have previously covered this point in Part 6 of this series of posts.
 
POINT #2: The 4th Gospel is the least historically reliable of the four Gospels.
I have previously covered this point in Part 6 of this series of posts.
 
POINT #3: The account of the trial and crucifixion in the 4th Gospel conflicts with the trial and crucifixion accounts in other Gospels.
The following examples are some of the conflicts between the account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion in the 4th Gospel and the account of the trial and crucifixion in the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel of Mark implies that Jesus was flogged AFTER his trial by Pilate, as part of his crucifixion punishment:

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.  (Mark 15:15, New Revised Standard Version)

But the 4th Gospel implies that Jesus was flogged in the MIDDLE of his trial by Pilate as a potential alternative to crucifixion:

Peter Paul Rubens – Flagellation of Christ

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 
2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 
3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 
4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 
5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 
6 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”  (John 19: 1-6, New Revised Standard Version)

The Evangelical NT scholar D.A. Carson admits there is an apparent inconsistency between the Gospel of Mark and the 4th Gospel on this point, but he attempts to reconcile the two accounts of Jesus’ trial and condemnation by positing TWO floggings of Jesus: an initial lighter flogging in the middle of the trial by Pilate, and a more severe flogging after Jesus is condemned by Pilate to be crucified (The Gospel According to John, p.597).  But this is implausible, especially given that none of the Gospels indicate that Jesus was flogged twice.
It is much more reasonable to simply admit, as the heavyweight Catholic N.T. scholar Raymond Brown does, that the account of the trial in the Gospel of Mark conflicts with the account of the trial in the 4th Gospel on this point:

Two elements that Mark 15:15b-20 places at the end of the trial, i.e. a flogging and a Roman mockery of Jesus, appear in John 19:1-3 in the middle of the trial as Pilate’s immediate reaction to the choice for Barabbas [to be released].  Scourging, instead of being part of the crucifixion punishment (as is the flogging in Mark/Matt), becomes in John a lesser punishment that Pilate hopes will satisfy “the Jews” by causing them to give up on this wretched Jesus.  (The Death of the Messiah, Volume 1, p.827)

The Gospel of Mark asserts that Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross:

21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his [Jesus’] cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21, New Revised Standard Version)

But the 4th Gospel asserts that Jesus carried the cross “by himself”:

17 and carrying the cross by himself, he [Jesus] went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. (John 19:17, New Revised Standard Version)

The Gospel of Mark asserts that Jesus was crucified about 9:00 am:

25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him [Jesus]. (Mark 15:25, New Revised Standard Version)

But the 4th Gospel asserts that Jesus was crucified some time after noon:

14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He [Pilate] said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”
15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”
16 Then he handed him [Jesus] over to them to be crucified.  (John 19:14-16,  New Revised Standard Version)

The Gospel of Mark asserts that Mary Magdalene and other women who followed Jesus watched Jesus on the cross “from a distance”:

40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.
41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mark 15:40-41, New Revised Standard Version)

But the 4th Gospel asserts that Mary Magdalene and other women were “standing near the cross of Jesus”:

25 … Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25, New Revised Standard Version)

The Gospel of Mark asserts that when Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus, Pilate “wondered if he were already dead” and so Pilate asked a centurion whether Jesus was already dead:

42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time.
45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. (Mark 15:42-45, New Revised Standard Version)

The New International Version translates verse 44 this way:

44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.

Many NT scholars interpret this passage in Mark as implying that Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead:

Pilate was surprised because... (James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Volume 23: Mark, p.266)

Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly because…(Craig A. Evans, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 34B: Mark 18:27-16:20, p.520)

Pilate had to check to see if in fact Jesus was already dead…, and seems amazed to find out he was. (Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: a Social-Rhetorical Commentary, p.402)

He [Pilate] was surprised, however, that Jesus was already dead.  (William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, p. 579)

But the 4th Gospel asserts that some Jewish leaders requested that the bodies of the crucified men be removed from their crosses before the sabbath day began (at sunset), and in response Pilate apparently ordered that the legs of the crucified men be broken in order to hasten their deaths:

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed.
32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.               
(John 19:31-34, New Revised Standard Version)

This passage implies that Pilate ordered the soldiers who crucified Jesus and the other condemned men to break the legs of the crucified men in order to cause them to die right away.  So, if Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus AFTER Pilate gave the order to break the legs of the crucified men, then Pilate would NOT have been surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead.
On the other hand, if Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus BEFORE Pilate gave the order to break the legs of the crucified men, then Jesus would have already been determined and KNOWN to be dead before the soldiers were ordered by Pilate to break the legs of the crucified men, so the soldiers would NOT have made a decision to refrain from breaking Jesus’ legs “when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead”.  In other words, the soldiers would have already KNOWN that Jesus was dead, even before Pilate ordered them to break the legs of the crucified men.  So, the events as described in this passage from the Fourth Gospel conflict with the events as described in Mark concerning the request by Joseph of Arimathea for the body of Jesus and Pilate’s reaction to that request.
 
POINT #4: Internal conflicts in this passage cast doubt on the historicity and reliability of this passage.

  • Pilate presumably ordered that the legs of the crucified men be broken, so it is improbable that a soldier decided to NOT break Jesus’ legs.

If Pilate had ordered soldiers to break the legs of the crucified men, then it is unlikely that a soldier would decide NOT to follow this order on the basis of his own judgement that Jesus was already dead.  Roman soldiers would be much more likely to simply follow their orders and break the legs of all the crucified men, whether they appeared to be alive or dead.

  • If a soldier believed that Jesus was already dead, then it is improbable that this soldier would stab Jesus with his spear, because there would be no reason to do this.

The purpose of the stabbing with a spear would probably have been either (a) to poke Jesus to see if he winced or moaned in order to determine whether Jesus was dead, or (b) to seriously wound Jesus in order to cause him to die right away.  But if the soldier firmly believed Jesus to be dead, there would be no reason to poke Jesus with a spear to determine whether Jesus was dead, and if the soldier was trying to inflict a serious wound to Jesus in order to kill Jesus right away, that would mean the soldier thought Jesus was still alive (or might well still be alive) and that additional wounding was needed to kill him off or to ensure that he was dead.
 
POINT #5: This passage is reasonably viewed as “prophecy historicized’, thus there is a good chance that Kreeft’s two key historical claims are FICTIONAL.
The details in the Passion Narratives (stories about the trials and crucifixion of Jesus) of the Gospels appear to be based primarily on Old Testament passages rather than on the memories of people who witnessed the trials and crucifixion of Jesus:

The passion is regarded as the work of scribes, who were probably not part of the original circle of illiterate peasant followers and believers.  The passion was created by scripturally sophisticated apologists sitting at their writing desks creating a narrative largely out of the fact of Jesus’ execution coupled with suggestions derived from prophetic texts and the Psalms and inspired by tales of the suffering righteous heroes of Israel.  Scholars have not been able to agree on the ingredients that made up the first passion story, nor is there a consensus on the relationship of one passion story to another.  In general, however, beyond the basic facts–arrest, exectution–very little in the passion narrative is now believed to be based on historical memory.

(The Acts of Jesus, by Robert Funk and The Jesus Seminar, p.23)

My proposal is that Jesus’ first followers knew almost nothing whatsoever about the details of his crucifixion, death, or burial.  What we have now in those detailed passion accounts is not history remembered but prophecy historicized. 

[…]

My best historical reconstruction of what actually happened is that Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival and those closest to him fled for their own safety.

(Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, by John Dominic Crossan, p.145 and 152)

…in the Gospels…the spare form of the crucifixion scene is elaborated by allusions to the Psalms; specifically Psalms 22 and 69, which reflect the experience of the righteous person who suffers.  Key elements in the crucifixion scene are thus taken from these psalms; they include offering Jesus something to drink, dividing his clothes, and mocking by onlookers.  Even the nailing of Jesus’ hands and feet may well come from the language of Psalm 22:16 (21:17 LXX), where the distinctive wording of the Greek says: “My hands and feet have they gouged.”

[…]

…these passages from two psalms are woven around the core narrative, which in turn was further smoothed out by the Markan author.  Both Matthew and Luke follow this basic outline…

(Scripting Jesus, by L. Michael White, p. 135 and 137)

This general point about the Passion Narratives in the Gospels applies directly and specifically to the details in the Fourth Gospel that Kreeft relies upon as a basis for his attempted refutation of the Survival Theory:

A particularly poingnant example of prophetic forecast creating narrative detail occurs in the Gospel of John (19:32-37).  The soldiers have come to break the legs of the three who have been crucified.  When they come to Jesus, they notice that he is already dead, so they don’t break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers jabs Jesus in the side with his spear and water and blood pour out.  Then the evangelist [the author of the 4th Gospel] tells his readers:

This happened so the scripture that says, “No bone of his shall be broken,” would come true, as well as another scripture that says, “They shall look at the one they have pierced.”

[…]

The evangelist certainly does not have independent confirmation of the failure to break Jesus’ legs and the spear thrust in the side, yet he gives the impression that he does.  The two details are probably the product of Christian imagination as it has been prompted by scripture. 

(The Acts of Jesus, p.8)

…the Gospel of John, once again, elaborates further, including details such as the untorn tunic and the breaking of the legs (19:23-24, 31-37).  In both cases, these new details in the story come from the continuing effort to weave elements from the scriptures into the narrative in order to force a correspondence.

(Scripting Jesus, p.137)

…the account [of the breaking of the legs of the other crucified men and the failure to break the legs of Jesus] is spun out of Ps. 34.21 (Ex. 12.10, 46) and Zech. 12.10 and shows that the Old Testament scriptures are fulfilled even in Jesus’ body.

   […]

Historical

The historical yield [from John 19:31-37] is nil.

(Jesus After 2000 Years, by Gerd Ludemann, p. 573)

Because the details that Peter Kreeft relies upon from John 19:31-34 are probably prophecy historicized, those details are probably FICTIONAL, generated on the basis of Old Testament passages rather than from the memories of eyewitnesses of the crucifixion, and thus those details are NOT the sort of evidence that can be used to REFUTE an historical theory, such as The Survival Theory.
 
TO BE CONTINUED…

bookmark_borderThe Euthyphro Dilemma, Part 5: Is there a way out?

Recall the two options of the Euthyphro dilemma:
(I) The reason that God commands that we perform morally obligatory actions is that they are morally obligatory.
(II) Morally obligatory actions are morally obligatory in virtue of the fact that God commands that we perform them.
In previous posts in this series I explained what the Euthyphro problem is and why it is a problem. Here is a brief summary of my conclusions: The Euthyphro problem is a problem for option (II), and thereby, a problem for divine command theory. The problem is that if morally obligatory actions are obligatory in virtue of the fact that God commands them, then, since God is omnipotent, his commands are wholly unconstrained. He could command any action whatsoever, and since deontic moral value does not exist prior to his commands, it seems that he has no reason to command one thing rather than another. Indeed, he could command something horrible, such as the gratuitous torture of an infant, and, on option (II), this horrible action would be morally obligatory. But no command can make the torture of an infant morally obligatory. So, option (II) cannot be correct.
As I indicated in the most recent post in this series, there are four distinct aspects of this problem. They are:
(1) The contingency problem
It is possible for God to command anything whatsoever. Given this, no matter what commands God actually issues, it is possible that he issues different commands, even a completely different set of commands (in the sense that, in some possible world, he issues these other commands). So, since on option (II), morally obligatory actions are obligatory in virtue of the fact that God commands that we perform them, there are possible worlds in which different actions are morally obligatory than are obligatory in the actual world; and there are possible worlds in which actions that are morally obligatory in the actual world are not morally obligatory. This is problematic because it seems that at least some moral claims are necessarily true. In particular, it seems that there are some actions such that they have their deontic moral status necessarily. However, if option (II) is correct, then it seems that no action has its moral features necessarily. For any action at all, whatever its actual deontic status, it is possible for it to have a different deontic status.
(2) The counterintuitive possibilities problem
The contingency problem is that, on option (II), all actions have their moral properties contingently. This means that there are non-actual but possible moral truths. A related problem (and a consequence) is that among the possibilities are some that are wildly counterintuitive. The above description of what I’ve called the Euthyphro problem contains an example: it is possible that the gratuitous torture of infants is morally obligatory rather than wrong (in the sense that there is some possible world in which torturing infants is obligatory). But there are other possibilities. It is possible that something morally laudatory, such as giving money to the needy is morally wrong. It is possible that something morally permissible, such as brushing your teeth three times a day, is morally wrong. And it is possible that something morally permissible, such as eating breakfast at 7:30, is morally obligatory.
(3) The arbitrariness problem
If actions are morally obligatory in virtue of the fact that God commands them, then it is difficult to see how God can have reasons for his commands. He has no reason to command one thing rather than another. On option (II), all deontic moral value exists in virtue of divine commands. Deontic moral value is precisely the value that actions have whereby we have reasons to perform or refrain from performing them. Commands are actions. So, if there is no deontic moral value prior to God’s commands, then God can have no reasons for his commands. But if there are no reasons for his commands, then his commands are arbitrary. And if his commands are arbitrary, then morality itself is arbitrary.
(4) The problem of the normative impotence of commands
A command (divine or otherwise) does not seem to be the kind of thing that can make a moral difference. Commands are normatively impotent in the sense that they cannot add to our reasons. We see this when imagine that God commands that we torture an innocent child. This command gives us no reason to torture a child, so it would make no difference to the moral status of child-torture. Or, again, imagine that God commands that we eat breakfast at 7:30 every morning. This command does not give us any reason to eat breakfast at 7:30 am and thus can make no difference to the moral status of refraining from eating breakfast at 7:30 am. Commands are normatively inert in that they cannot add to the reasons that we already have to engage in (or refrain from) the commanded activity. Option (II) thus claims that morally obligatory actions are morally obligatory in virtue of something that is normatively impotent.
Defenders of various versions of DCT have argued that the Euthyphro problem is not a problem for DCT since a properly articulated version of DCT does not have the consequences [(1)-(4)] listed above.[1] In this and the next installment I will offer an assessment of the seriousness of these four aspects of the Euthyphro problem for modern versions of divine command metaethics.
I will consider each of these four aspects of the Euthyphro problem individually. The essay will be broken into two parts. In this current installment, I will look at problems (1) and (2) and the next installment will examine problems (3) and (4).
Problem (1)
The contingency problem involves the assumption that it is possible for God to issue commands other than his actual commands (or, stated another way, that it is possible that God issues commands in some possible world(s) that he does not issue in some other possible world(s)). This assumption appears reasonable, at first glance, because God is omnipotent. Given his omnipotence, it seems that God is completely unconstrained; and so it is possible for him to issue any command whatsoever. But, as Edward Wierenga[2] has famously pointed out (along with many others after him), theists do not typically believe that God is completely unconstrained. It is reasonable to believe that God has certain essential characteristics and that, among these characteristics are features that constrain the kinds of motivations that God could experience.
A command is an intentional act of a rational agent. Given this, all commands have motives. If God has certain essential characteristics (or, in other words, an essential nature), this nature will constrain the sorts of motives that God can experience. If that is right (and it certainly seems to be), then it is false that God can issue any command whatsoever.
Wierenga draws our attention to the fact that, on theism, God is perfectly loving. A perfectly loving being, it is reasonable to assume, cannot experience a motive to harm a person who does not deserve to be harmed. If God has this characteristic essentially (as, again, theism implies), then there is no possible world in which God experiences motives to cause harm to a person who does not deserve it. For the very same reason, there is no possible world in which God experiences motives to command that we engage in such horrendous actions as torturing an infant gratuitously.
Thus, as Wierenga argues, theists have a reason to believe that God will not issue cruel commands, namely, the fact that God is perfectly loving. In what follows, I am going to call this argumentative maneuver (that is, the claim that God is constrained by his essentially loving nature), “the appeal to love” (abbrev. ATL)[3].  The appeal to love involves the claim that God’s commands are not wholly unconstrained, coupled with the equally important insight that the constraints that apply to God come from within his own nature. Importantly, ATL does not involve claiming that the constraints on God are reason-involving. In other words, the claim here is not that God is constrained to respond to reasons; rather it is that God has a motivational profile and that this motivational profile places limits on the kinds of things that God will do.
While ATL is relevant to both problem (1) and (2), it is very important to distinguish both the problems and the responses. ATL blunts the force of the contingency problem in virtue of the fact that God possesses his loving nature essentially, but I think it is less successful against the problem of counterintuitive consequences.
I say that ATL blunts the force of the contingency problem but, as it happens, the appeal to God’s loving nature is neither necessary nor sufficient to obviate the problem. To show this, I will describe a response that would completely remove the problem:
The contingency problem is completely eliminated if we claim that God has his nature essentially. Given that God’s motives are a manifestation of his essential characteristics, it follows that if he has the same characteristics in all possible worlds, he has the same kinds of motives in all possible worlds. And given the same motives, he will issue the same commands. In other words, the content of God’s character does not matter for the purposes of obviating the contingency problem; all that matters is that God has his nature essentially. Given the way that character grounds motives, if God’s character traits are essential characteristics, then he issues the same commands in all possible worlds.
It is important to see that ATL does not assert this; that is, it does not assert that God has his nature essentially. Rather, it claims that God is essentially loving. But this claim is consistent with the claim that there are other aspects of God’s nature that he possesses only contingently. Perhaps, for example, God is all-loving in all possible worlds, but in some possible worlds he prefers the color red to the color green whereas in others he prefers green to red. Perhaps in some worlds, God enjoys all types of human-produced noise, but in others he has a strong dislike for progressive rock; in some worlds, maybe, he is indifferent to temporal considerations concerning meals, in others he has strong feelings that breakfast must be consumed in the early morning. In asserting only that God is essentially loving, ATL leaves open the possibility that other aspects of God’s character are contingent and thus leaves open the possibility aspects of God’s character may give rise to different motives, and thus different commands, in different possible worlds.
ATL does imply that God’s commands are not wholly unconstrained. Given that God is loving in all possible worlds, it is false that there are possible worlds in which God issues a completely different set of commands in some possible world. But we now see that this does not entirely remove the contingency problem. So long as some aspect(s) of God’s nature is/are unconstrained, then his commands, at least to some extent, will be different in different possible worlds. Given this, DCT, even modified by ATL, will retain the implication that at least some more truths are contingent if it allows that some aspects of God’s nature are contingent.
A brief aside: One might think, at this juncture, that whatever contingency is implied by DCT, it will not be a serious problem. Recall that the most serious problem in this connection is that it appeared that DCT implied that all moral truths are contingent. We have seen that a properly articulated DCT need not have this implication. Perhaps we should not be bothered by the implication that, on DCT, some moral truths are still contingent. It is obvious that not all moral truths are contingent; it is less obvious that no moral truths are contingent. Thus, if DCT implies that some moral truths are contingent, this is not obviously a serious problem for the theory.
I mention this mostly to make sure that I my evaluation of the Euthyphro problem is as thorough as I can make it. I doubt that the contingency issue is the most pressing of the four aspects of the Euthyphro problem and so I will decline to examine the above suggestion any further. My interest, at this point, is to consider what must be added to DCT in order to completely eliminate the contingency problem, and so it is to that issue that I now return.
As I noted above, if God has a nature and has his nature essentially, then, since his motives will be a function of this nature, he will have the same kinds of motives in all possible worlds. Given that commands are motivated actions, this strongly suggests that God issues the same commands in all possible worlds. The assumption that God can issue commands other than his actual commands turns out to be based on a failure to appreciate the ways in which God’s nature informs and constrains his actions. While ATL does not assert this, there is nothing that prevents the defender of DCT from relying on this insight. So long as God has his nature essentially, it seems that DCT does not imply that morality is contingent.
Before moving on to problem (2), I want to make a couple of observations that will be very important to the evaluation of problems (2) – (4): First, the fact that God has an essential nature implies only that he experiences certain kinds of motives rather than others; it does not imply anything about what those motives are. If God’s nature is cruel, then he will experience cruel motives and issue cruel commands; if he is loving, then he will experience compassionate motives and issue compassionate commands.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, while the response that I have sketched to the contingency problem involves the claim that there are constraints on God’s commands, these claims about God’s nature (including ATL) do not assert that the constraints on God are reason-involving. In other words, the claim here is not that God is constrained to respond to reasons; rather it is that God has a motivational profile and that this motivational profile places limits on the kinds of things that God will do.
Problem (2)
The contingency problem is entirely eliminated if we assert
(EDN) Essential Divine Nature: God has his nature essentially.
But this will not resolve the counterintuitive possibilities problem since it is consistent with EDN that God’s nature is cruel or indifferent. A god with a cruel nature will command that we torture innocent children. We might think that ATL entirely resolves the problem, but that would be an error. To see why, note that the problem of counterintuitive possibilities is not merely the problem that God might command something cruel. In the above description of the problem, I mentioned four different kinds of counterintuitive possibilities:
(A) God might command that we perform some cruel act(s), such as the torture of an infant.
(B) God might command that we refrain from performing some compassionate act(s), such as helping  to feed people who are starving.
(C) God might command that we perform some seemingly neutral act(s), such as eating breakfast at 7:30 am.
(D) God might command that we refrain from performing some seemingly neutral act(s), such as eating dinner at 6:30 pm.
The appeal to love can only address possibilities of type (A) and (B). A perfectly loving God would neither command a cruel act nor command that we refrain from compassionate acts. However, ATL cannot address possibilities of type (C) and (D). That God is loving does not imply that he will not command that we eat breakfast at 7:30 am. At least, it is very unclear how such a command would be inconsistent with his love. It is wildly counterintuitive that it could be morally obligatory to eat breakfast at 7:30 am. But DCT seems to imply that it is possible that doing so is morally obligatory and ATL provides no reason to think that this is not a genuine implication.
How serious is this problem? Since I am not claiming here that, on DCT, it is possible that it is morally obligatory to doing horrible things, it may seem that the problem is not all that serious. But I think it would be a mistake to dismiss the problem posed by possibilities of type (C) and (D). Every day, hundreds of times a day, you and I engage in actions that are seemingly innocuous but are such that it would not be inconsistent for a loving God to command that we not do these things. We drink coffee without cream and sugar, we brush out teeth after breakfast but before leaving the house for the day, we read news articles online while we are eating breakfast, we watch sporting events on television, we tell jokes, we converse with friends and co-workers at work, etc., etc. It would not be inconsistent for a loving God to command that we refrain from performing any of these things. If God commanded that we not read news articles while we eat breakfast, then according to DCT, it would be morally wrong to read a news article during breakfast. But it is wildly implausible that it could be morally wrong to read a new article while one eats breakfast. The same can be said for all of the other items on my list and countless other seemingly innocuous actions that people engage in every day.
In a subsequent post, I will return to the issue of seemingly innocuous actions in connection to problem (4) (the problem of the normative impotence of divine commands) where I think it has a great deal more force. For now let me close this aspect of the inquiry by pointing out that the appeal to love does not eliminate all of the counterintuitive possibilities that appear to be consequences of DCT.


[1] This is only partially accurate. Usually such defenders focus on (1) – (3) to the neglect of (4). In addition, many such defenders confuse the distinct aspects of the problem (e.g., it is common to confuse the contingency problem with the arbitrariness problem). I will attempt to substantiate these claims in a future post.
[2] Wierenga, E. “A defensible divine command theory.” Nous 17.3 (1983): 387-407.
[3] Other philosophers and defenders of DCT have offered responses to the Euthyphro problem that are similar to Wierenga’s. I will be discussing some of these related responses in future installments of this series. It is perhaps worth pointing out that while this current essay does not involve a thorough discussion of each and every argument that defends DCT from Euthyphro-type concerns, my assessment of the seriousness of the Euthyphro problem for DCT is an overall assessment. That is, parts 5 and 6 of this series contain my all-things-considered assessment of the Euthyphro problem.