bookmark_borderThree Ways to Approach Christianity

DIFFERENT WAYS TO APPROACH CHRISTIANITY

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and more than one way to divide a pie.
There are three approaches to the analysis and evaluation of Christianity that I have noticed, and they each have different advantages and disadvantages:

  • The Christian-Apologetics Approach
  • The Philosophical Approach
  • The Problem-Solving Approach

I’m sure there are other approaches besides these three, but these three appear to be useful and worth knowing about.
The Problem-Solving approach and the Philosophical approach can be applied to other religions and worldviews, so they are better for making comparisons and comparative evaluations.  There might be a way to abstract from the Christian-Apologetics approach to make it applicable to other religions and worldviews, but I haven’t figured out how to do that, so far.
Each approach can be explained or defined in terms of a particular set of questions, questions that provide conceptual and intellectual guidance for exploring and understanding and evaluating Christianity.

THE CHRISTIAN-APOLOGETICS APPROACH TO CHRISTIANITY

The Christian-Apologetics approach is based on classical Christian apologetics, which goes back at least as far as Thomas Aquinas.  Classical Christian apologetics starts out by arguing for the existence of God, and then in a second phase moves on to using miracles (divine interventions in the natural world) as the basis for determining the “True Religion” or the “True Church” or the “True Holy Book” or the “True Prophet/Messiah”.
Miracles (especially the resurrection of Jesus) are used to establish a primary source of REVELATION or theological knowledge.  Once the “True Religion” or “True Church” or “True Holy Book” or “True Prophet” is established, then a third phase begins, and other Christian beliefs are justified on the basis of that source of theological truth or knowledge.  The key questions that define this approach to Christianity are these:

  1. Does God exist?
  2. Did Jesus exist?
  3. Did Jesus rise from the dead?
  4. Is Jesus the divine Son of God and Savior of humankind?

I suppose one way to (partially) abstract from these questions that are specific to Christianity, is to focus on what appears to be the most central issue behind these questions:

What is a reliable source of theological or religious truth or knowledge?

The ultimate point and purpose of classical Christian apologetics is to “teach a person how to fish”, that is, to persuade people that there is a particular source of theological truth that one should rely upon (e.g. the teachings of Jesus, or the teachings of the Pope, or the teachings of the Bible).  So, it appears that the ultimate or primary focus of classical Christian Apologetics is EPISTEMOLOGICAL:  How can we determine what is true or false in the areas of theology and ethics?
 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH TO CHRISTIANITY

The Philosophical approach is based on the major sub-disciplines of philosophy.  The key questions that define this approach could be formulated in the following very simple way:

  1. What is the epistemology of the Christian worldview?
  2. What are the metaphysics of the Christian worldview?
  3. What are the ethics of the Christian worldview?
  4. What is the philosophical anthropology of the Christian worldview?

These four questions, however, are somewhat misleading.  They assume that the Christian worldview involves explicit philosophical concepts and theories that are accepted by all or most educated Christians.  But most people, and most Christian believers, are not that intellectually inclined, and among intellectually inclined Christians, there can be a diversity of philosophical concepts and theories.  It is, of course, worthwhile to become familiar with some of the different philosophical concepts and theories embraced by different intellectually inclined Christians.  But Jesus and the authors of the Bible were NOT philosophers, and they don’t lay out much in the way of clear philosophical concepts and theories.
So, although I think it is helpful to think about Christianity using these basic categories of philosophical investigation, one should not assume that there is such a thing as “the Christian theory of epistemology” or “the Christian theory of ethics”.  It is tempting to think that there is such a thing as “the Christian theory of metaphysics” but even in this area there are gaps and disagreements between intellectually inclined Christian believers.  For example, there is an ancient division between Platonist Christian thinkers and Aristotelian Christian thinkers, and that is mostly a matter of disagreements in metaphysics.  So, the questions defining the Philosophical approach to Christianity should probably be a bit more loose:

  1. What are the epistemological assumptions, claims, and implications of the Christian worldview?
  2. What are the metaphysical assumptions, claims, and implications of the Christian worldview?
  3. What are the ethical assumptions, claims, and implications of the Christian worldview?
  4. What are the philosophical anthropology assumptions, claims, and implications of the Christian worldview?

In other words, there may be only bits and pieces of philosophy that can be extracted from the Christian worldview.  There may be a variety of different philosophical concepts and theories that are compatible with the bits and pieces of philosophy that can be extracted from the Christian worldview.  It appears to me that there is no such thing as “the Christian philosophy”.
Clearly, these looser questions involving basic categories of philosophical inquiry can be applied to ANY religion or worldview.  These questions do not require that the religion or worldview has a clearly defined set of philosophical theories in these different areas of philosophy.  The questions merely focus attention on parts and aspects of a religion or worldview that are RELEVANT to basic philosophical issues.
 

THE PROBLEM-SOLVING APPROACH

I learned of this approach from an explanation of Buddhism, and from a central teaching of Buddhism: the Four Noble Truths.  In his book The Religions of Man (Harper & Row, 1958), Huston Smith summarizes Buddhism by briefly explaining the Four Noble Truths:
Buddha’s approach to the problem of life in the Four Noble Truths was essentially that of a therapist.  He begins by observing carefully the symptoms which provoke concern.  If everything were going smoothly, so smoothly that we noticed ourselves as little as we notice our digestion when it is normal, there would be nothing to worry  about and we would have to attend no further to our way of life.  But this is not the case.  There is less creativeness, more conflict, and more pain than we feel is right.  These symptoms Buddha summarizes in his First Noble Truth with the declaration that life is dukkha or out of joint.  The next step is diagnosis.  Throwing faith and myth and cult to the winds he asks practically, what is causing these abnormal symptoms?  Where is the seat of the infection?  What is always present when suffering is present and absent when suffering is absent?  The answer is given in the Second Noble Truth; the cause of life’s dislocation is tanha or the drive for private fulfillment.  What, then, of the prognosis?  The Third Noble Truth announces hope; the disease can be cured by overcoming the egoistic drive for separate existence.  This brings us to prescription.  How is this overcoming to be accomplished?  The Fourth Noble Truth provides the answer; the way to the overcoming of self-seeking is through the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path then is a course of treatment.  (p.102-103)
The analogy between medical diagnosis/treatment and the logic of The Four Noble Truths is helpful, not only for understanding the Buddhist worldview, but for understanding any religion or worldview.  Furthermore, the medical analogy can be generalized into the logic of Problem Solving.  Medical diagnosis and treatment is a particular kind of problem solving.  We can thus state the key questions of this way of approaching a religion or worldview in more general terms:

  1. What are the most important human problems?
  2. What is the root cause (or causes) of the most important human problems?
  3. What is the best solution (or solutions) to the root-cause problem (or problems)?
  4. What is the best way to implement the solution (or solutions) to the root-cause problem (or problems)?

One can use these four key questions to analyze and evaluate not only Buddhism and Christianity, but also secular worldviews, like Humanism and Marxism.  So, like the Philosophical Approach, the Problem-Solving Approach is helpful if you want to compare different religions or worldviews, and to make evaluative comparisons (e.g. Does Marxism provide a better account than Buddhism or Christianity of the root cause, or causes, of the most important human problems?)
One summary of the Christian worldview is presented briefly in pamphlets about The Four Spiritual Laws.  While the Four Spiritual Laws might not exactly parallel the logical structure of the Four Noble Truths, they are very similar in that they focus on a root-cause problem (Buddhism: egoistic drive for independent existence. Christianity: sin or human disobedience towards God.), and provide a solution to that problem (Buddhism: overcoming the egoistic drive.  Christianity: atonement for sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus.), and a way of implementing that solution (Buddhism: the way of life described in the Eightfold Path. Christianity: repentance and faith in Jesus as the divine Son of God and savior of humankind).  So, both Buddhism and Christianity can be understood in terms of the four key questions that comprise the Problem-Solving Approach.
 
 

bookmark_borderThe Complete FAILURE of Peter Kreeft’s Case for the Resurrection – Part 2: MANY Skeptical Theories

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 8 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Peter Kreeft identifies FIVE Theories concerned about “what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday…” :

1. Christianity: “the resurrection really happened”
2. Hallucination: “the apostles were deceived by a hallucination”
3. Myth: “the apostles created a myth, not meaning it literally”
4. Conspiracy: “the apostles were deceivers who conspired to foist on the world the most famous and successful lie in history”
5. Swoon:  “Jesus only swooned and was resuscitated, not resurrected”

(HCA, p.182)
According to Kreeft all he needs to do is to refute the four skeptical theories that are alternatives to the Christian view:

If we can refute all other theories (2-5), we will have proved the truth of the resurrection (1).

(HCA, p.182)
In Part 1 of this series of posts, I pointed out that there are at least THREE serious problems with Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus:

  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Conspiracy Theory.
  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Swoon Theory.
  • There are OTHER skeptical theories that Kreeft has NOT even attempted to refute.

Each one of these serious problems by itself provides us with sufficient reason to conclude that Kreeft’s case for the resurrection is a FAILURE.  The combination of all three serious problems shows that Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus is a complete FAILURE.
Kreeft raises seven objections against the Conspiracy Theory.  I wrote a series of blog posts showing various problems, errors, and weaknesses with Kreeft’s arguments against the Conspiracy Theory, and I concluded that each of those seven objections FAILS to refute the Conspiracy Theory.
Kreeft raises nine objections against the Swoon TheoryI wrote a series of blog posts showing various problems, errors, and weaknesses with Kreeft’s arguments against the Swoon Theory, and I concluded that each of those nine objections FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory.
Kreeft uses a bit of logic in order to try to make it appear that the four skeptical theories in his list cover ALL of the logical possibilities.  But if you examine that logic more closely, it becomes clear that there are MANY OTHER skeptical theories that he has neglected to mention or to consider, and this problem is sufficient by itself to SINK Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus.
In Part 1, I pointed out various problems and gaps in Kreeft’s logical analysis of the possibilities concerning the alleged resurrection of Jesus, and I showed that there are at least TWENTY-SEVEN different skeptical theories, not just the four that Kreeft identifies in his list.
The chart below summarizes most of my efforts in Part 1 to improve upon Kreeft’s analysis of the possibilities (click on image below for a clearer view of the diagram):
 

 

CONTINUING MY CRITIQUE AND REVISION OF KREEFT’S ANALYSIS

The diagram below ignores the earlier dilemmas (and the skeptical theories associated with them), in order to simplify the diagram and to focus attention on the last two dilemmas that I discussed (click on the image below for a clearer view of the diagram):

 
As you can see from this second diagram, there are at least 27 possible theories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus, and we have not even finished clarifying and revising Kreeft’s analysis of the possibilities.  So, with the addition of a couple of more dilemmas, we would probably exceed 30 possible theories, and get close to about 40 possible theories, far more than the meager list of five theories in Kreeft’s list.  So, my effort to clarify and revise Kreeft’s analysis of the logical possibilities reveals that there are MANY OTHER skeptical theories besides the four skeptical theories that Kreeft identifies and considers:

  • There are OTHER skeptical theories that Kreeft has NOT even attempted to refute.

This third serious problem with Kreeft’s case provides us with sufficient reason to conclude that Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus is a FAILURE.  This serious problem adds to two other serious problems with Kreeft’s case:

  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Conspiracy Theory.
  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Swoon Theory.

In combination with these two other serious problems, Kreeft’s case is shown to be a COMPLETE FAILURE.
 

COMBINATION THEORIES DRAMATICALLY INCREASE THE NUMBER OF POSSIBILITIES 

I am now going to introduce two simplifying assumptions, which will allow me to show that there are not just dozens of skeptical theories, but billions of them (Dr. Evil says: “Give me BILLIONS of skeptical theories!”):

  • There were ELEVEN men who were part of the inner-circle of Jesus’ disciples who remained in the Jesus movement after Jesus was crucified.
  • If a disciple was DECEIVED into believing that Jesus rose from the dead, then that disciple did not DECEIVE others into believing that Jesus rose from the dead.

It is NOT an established fact that there were exactly TWELVE disciples in the inner-circle of the followers of Jesus, nor that exactly ONE of those TWELVE disciples (i.e. Judas) ceased to be a follower of Jesus and left the Jesus movement after the crucifixion.  So, it is possible that there were more than ELEVEN men from the inner-circle of Jesus’ disciples who remained followers of Jesus after the crucifixion.  If so, that would just allow for even more possible skeptical theories.  The first assumption is in keeping with the NT, and with traditional Christian belief.
I can imagine circumstances in which one of the disciples was DECEIVED into believing that Jesus rose from the dead, but nevertheless became a DECEIVER of others, who persuaded others to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.  For example, a disciple might have been DECEIVED by meeting a person (after the crucifixion) who looked and acted like Jesus, but who was not actually Jesus.  This could have produced an honest and sincere belief in that disciple that Jesus had risen from the dead, and then that disciple could have begun preaching that he had personally seen the risen Jesus.
But suppose that some weeks or months later that disciple runs into the Jesus-look-alike person and has a long conversation with that person, and becomes persuaded that (a) this person is NOT Jesus, and that (b) this is the same person that the disciple had previously believed was the risen Jesus.  In that case, this disciple would cease to believe that he had personally seen the risen Jesus.  If that disciple, however, continued to participate in the Jesus movement, and continued to preach that he had seen the risen Jesus, then that disciple would become a DECEIVER.
But apart from such an unusual set of circumstances, if someone is DECEIVED into having a sincere and honest belief that Jesus rose from the dead, then that person would, in most cases, NOT be involved in DECEIVING others into believing that Jesus rose from the dead, because he or she would sincerely believe this was the truth.  People do sometimes LIE to and DECEIVE others in the service of a belief they honestly and sincerely hold, but that is not usually how things go.
In any case, although it is possible to imagine circumstances in which a disciple was DECEIVED into believing that Jesus rose from the dead and yet became a DECEIVER of others about Jesus rising from the dead, it will simplify our determination of the number of possible theories by assuming that a particular disciple can be either DECEIVED or a DECEIVER but not both.  Rejection of this assumption would only INCREASE the number of possible skeptical theories.
Now there is an obvious and very important point that Kreeft either did not notice or that he ignored:

Some of the disciples could have been DECEIVED while other disciples were DECEIVERS.

Kreeft only presents two skeptical theories related to the DECEIVED vs DECEIVER distinction:

  • ALL ELEVEN DISCIPLES were DECEIVED into believing Jesus rose from the dead.
  • ALL ELEVEN DISCIPLES were DECEIVERS who persuaded others into believing Jesus rose from the dead.

The first possibility Kreeft mistakenly identifies with the Hallucination Theory.  Although having a hallucination is ONE WAY in which the disciples could have been deceived, there are several other ways that they could have been DECEIVED.
In any case, it is clearly possible for different disciples to have different experiences and different beliefs and different motivations.  It is clearly possible that some of Jesus’ disciples were DECEIVED and others were DECEIVERS.
It is also possible that some of the disciples were neither DECEIVED nor DECEIVERS.  Kreeft himself points out the possibility of a disciple being a “myth-maker”, telling stories about Jesus rising from the dead, but having no intention of claiming that these stories were about actual, observable, historical events.  Thus, such a disciple doesn’t believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead, nor is such a disciple trying to fool others into believing that Jesus literally rose from the dead.
Any one of the disciples could have been either DECEIVED or a DECEIVER or a MYTH-MAKER.  There is no reason to assume that ALL ELEVEN DISCIPLES must fall into the same category.  This means that there can be COMBINATION THEORIES, skeptical theories that combine two or more different skeptical explanations, especially putting different disciples into different categories.
Furthermore, experiencing an hallucination of the risen Jesus is only ONE WAY that a disciple could have been DECEIVED; there are at least EIGHT different ways that a particular disciple could have been DECEIVED into believing Jesus rose from the dead:

  • Hallucinations – of seeing, and talking to, Jesus
  • Vivid dreams – of seeing, and talking to, Jesus
  • Mistaken Identity – seeing a person who happened to look and act like Jesus
  • Intentionally Fooled – by an actor wearing make-up and/or disguised to look like Jesus
  • Intentionally Fooled – by a person who naturally (without make-up or disguise) looked like Jesus
  • False Memories – implanted by hypnosis or suggestion, of having seen, or spoken with, the risen Jesus
  • False Memories – implanted by the Devil, of having seen, or spoken with, the risen Jesus
  • Visions of Jesus in heaven – leading to the mistaken belief that Jesus had a new resurrected body

It is possible that different disciples were DECEIVED in different ways, and it is possible that some or all of the disciples were not DECEIVED but were DECEIVERS or MYTH-MAKERS.
OK.  So, we have determined that any particular disciple among the ELEVEN disciples could have been DECEIVED in one of the eight ways listed above, or could have been a DECEIVER, or could have been a MYTH-MAKER.  Each disciple thus could fall into one of TEN different categories.
As we increase the number of disciples, the number of skeptical COMBINATION THEORIES increases exponentially:

  • If there was only ONE disciple, then there would be TEN different possible skeptical theories regarding that ONE disciple and the alleged resurrection of Jesus.
  • If there were only TWO disciples, then there would be ONE HUNDRED different possible skeptical theories regarding those TWO disciples and the alleged resurrection of Jesus (ten possible categorizations of the first disciple TIMES ten possible categorizations of the second disciple).
  • If there were only THREE disciples, then there would be ONE THOUSAND different possible skeptical theories regarding those THREE disciples and the alleged resurrection of Jesus (one hundred possibilities for the first two disciples TIMES ten possibilities for the third).

So, in order to determine the number of possible skeptical theories related to the assumption that “It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead” in my revised and improved analysis (see above diagrams), we must multiply ten times itself ELEVEN times, for ELEVEN DISCIPLES, each of whom might fall under any one of the TEN categories:

10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 =   100,000,000,000

Thus, there are at least 100 BILLION different possible skeptical theories related to the lemma in my analysis (and in Kreeft’s analysis) “It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead”.
I would NOT claim that Kreeft needs to refute every one of these 100 BILLION skeptical theories, particularly one at a time.  Perhaps he could separate them into categories and refute millions or  billions of similar skeptical theories all at once (?).  But I can confidently claim, at this point, that the idea that he could refute just four skeptical theories and then claim victory, is laughable, and pathetic.
 

A MORE CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE OF THE NUMBER OF SKEPTICAL THEORIES

I arrived at the astounding number of 100 BILLION skeptical theories based on two basic assumptions:

There are TEN different categories that each disciple could fall under (given the assumptions that Jesus was dead when removed from the cross and that it is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead).

There were ELEVEN disciples from the inner-circle of Jesus’ followers who remained involved in the Jesus movement after the crucifixion.

If there were fewer disciples from the inner-circle of Jesus’ followers, then that would reduce the number of skeptical possibilities, but the traditional Christian belief is that there were 12 disciples in the inner-circle of Jesus’ followers, and that exactly 1 of those disciples left the Jesus movement about the time that Jesus was crucified (namely: Judas).
Someone might take issue with there being TEN different categories that each disciple could fall under.  I expanded the category of being DECEIVED into EIGHT different WAYS of being deceived.  Since the only skeptical theory among those EIGHT WAYS that Kreeft considers is the Hallucination Theory, it is clear that Kreeft focused on just ONE particular WAY that the disciples could have been DECEIVED, and ignored various OTHER WAYS that this could have happened.
Since the very name of the theory Kreeft considered (“the Hallucination Theory”) specifies the WAY that the disciples could have been DECEIVED, it is perfectly reasonable to consider theories that propose OTHER WAYS that disciples could have been DECEIVED as being distinct alternative theories.  For example, consider the view that sometime after the crucifixion the disciples saw a person who looked and acted like Jesus and then mistakenly concluded that Jesus had risen from the dead.  It would make no sense to call that theory “the Hallucination Theory”, because no hallucinations are involved or required for that theory to be true.
Nevertheless, let’s set aside my expansion of the category of being DECEIVED into EIGHT different WAYS of being DECEIVED, and instead stick strictly to the categorizations that Kreeft himself proposed be applied to the disciples:

  • DECEIVED
  • DECEIVERS
  • MYTH-MAKERS

Since different disciples could fall under different categories, we still need to multiply these THREE possible explanations repeatedly to arrive at a total number of possible COMBINATION THEORIES:

  • If there was only ONE disciple, then there would be THREE different possible skeptical theories regarding that ONE disciple and the alleged resurrection of Jesus.
  • If there were only TWO disciples, then there would be NINE different possible skeptical theories regarding those TWO disciples and the alleged resurrection of Jesus (three possible categorizations of the first disciple TIMES three possible categorizations of the second disciple).
  • If there were only THREE disciples, then there would be TWENTY-SEVEN different possible skeptical theories regarding those THREE disciples and the alleged resurrection of Jesus (nine possibilities for the first two disciples TIMES three possibilities for the third).

Since we are assuming, along with most Christian believers, that there were ELEVEN disciples from the inner-circle of Jesus’ followers who remained in the Jesus movement after the crucifixion, we must multiple the THREE basic possibilities eleven times:

3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3   =  177,147  different skeptical theories

Even if we ignore the fact that the claim that a disciple was DECEIVED into believing that Jesus rose from the dead encompasses several different possible explanations of HOW that could have happened, even if we just lump all of those significantly different explanations into one general category (being DECEIVED), we still end up with a very large number (over 170,000) of different possible skeptical theories.
Therefore, Kreeft’s view that he only needs to refute four skeptical theories in order to prove the Christian theory that God raised Jesus from the dead,  is clearly ridiculous.

bookmark_borderThe Complete FAILURE of Peter Kreeft’s Case for the Resurrection – Part 1: Three Serious Problems

FIVE THEORIES ABOUT JESUS’ ALLEGED RESURRECTION

In Chapter 8 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Peter Kreeft identifies Five Theories concerned about “what really happened in Jerusalem on that first Easter Sunday…” :

1. Christianity: “the resurrection really happened”
2. Hallucination: “the apostles were deceived by a hallucination”
3. Myth: “the apostles created a myth, not meaning it literally”
4. Conspiracy: “the apostles were deceivers who conspired to foist on the world the most famous and successful lie in history”
5. Swoon:  “Jesus only swooned and was resuscitated, not resurrected”

(HCA, p.182)
According to Kreeft all he needs to do is to refute the four skeptical theories that are alternatives to the Christian view:

If we can refute all other theories (2-5), we will have proved the truth of the resurrection (1).

(HCA, p.182)
 

TWO SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH KREEFT’S CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION

There are at least two serious problems with Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus that I have previously discussed in my blog posts:

  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Conspiracy Theory.
  • Kreeft FAILED to refute the Swoon Theory.

Kreeft raises seven objections against the Conspiracy Theory.  I wrote a series of blog posts showing various problems, errors, and weaknesses with Kreeft’s arguments against the Conspiracy Theory, and I concluded that each of those seven objections FAILS to refute the Conspiracy Theory.
Kreeft raises nine objections against the Swoon TheoryI wrote a series of blog posts showing various problems, errors, and weaknesses with Kreeft’s arguments against the Swoon Theory, and I concluded that each of those nine objections FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory.

  • Kreeft’s FAILURE to refute the Conspiracy Theory is sufficient by itself to SINK his case for the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Kreeft’s FAILURE to refute the Swoon Theory is sufficient by itself to SINK his case for the resurrection of Jesus.

Given that Kreeft has FAILED to refute at least two of the four skeptical theories in his list, his case for the resurrection is a complete FAILURE.  Kreeft has FAILED to prove that Jesus rose from the dead.
 

A THIRD SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH KREEFT’S CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION

But there is another serious problem with Kreeft’s case for the resurrection.  His list of skeptical theories is INCOMPLETE:

  • There are OTHER skeptical theories (besides the four that Kreeft lists) that Kreeft has NOT even attempted to refute.

Kreeft uses a bit of logic in order to try to make it appear that the four skeptical theories in his list cover ALL of the logical possibilities.  But if you examine that logic more closely, it becomes clear that there are MANY OTHER skeptical theories that he has neglected to mention or to consider, and this problem is sufficient by itself to SINK Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus.
 

THE INITIAL DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S ANALYSIS OF THE LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES

There is a diagram in Chapter 8 that is an important part of Kreeft’s case for the resurrection of Jesus (click on the image below for a clearer view of the diagram):

 
On the left side of the diagram, we see a dilemma between two alternatives:

Jesus died

OR

Jesus didn’t die

There are problems in Kreeft’s logic right away, problems with this initial dilemma.  These two alternatives are VAGUE and in need of clarification.  Taken literally, these alternatives are not relevant to the question about whether Jesus rose from the dead:

Jesus died eventually (at some point in the past).

OR

Jesus didn’t ever die (and is now a human being who is over 2,000 years old).

Those are NOT the two alternatives that Kreeft had in mind.
In relation to the question of whether Jesus rose from the dead, the first alternative can be stated more carefully and precisely:

Jesus died before he was removed from the cross.

OR

Jesus didn’t die before he was removed from the cross.

These alternatives are clearer and are relevant to the question of the resurrection, but this is NOT a true dilemma, because these two alternatives do NOT comprehend ALL logical possibilities.
Both of these statements ASSUME that there was a point in time in which Jesus “was removed from the cross”.  So, both of these statements make the following three assumptions:

  • Jesus was an actual historical person.
  • Jesus was crucified.
  • At some point in time after Jesus was crucified, Jesus was removed from his cross.

The so-called “dilemma” that occurs at the beginning of the chart about alternative theories does NOT encompass ALL logical possibilities.  It excludes, for example, the following three skeptical possibilities:

  • Jesus was NOT an actual historical person.
  • Jesus was an actual historical person, but Jesus was never crucified.
  • Jesus was an actual historical person who was crucified, but his body was never removed from his cross.

These are more extreme skeptical theories, compared to the four skeptical theories that Kreeft considers, but that is no excuse for failing to consider them, and for failing to attempt to refute them.  If Kreeft thinks that these theories are silly or ridiculous, then from that point of view it should be very easy to refute these theories, so Kreeft has no excuse for failing to attempt to refute these three additional skeptical theories, but Kreeft makes no attempt to refute any of those three theories.
 

A TRUE INITIAL DILEMMA FOR THE ANALYSIS OF THE LOGICAL POSSIBILITIES

In order to begin the logical breakdown with a true dilemma, we need to consider the following alternatives:

Jesus was an actual historical person.

OR

It is NOT the case that Jesus was an actual historical person.

The second alternative above reflects at least one skeptical theory, or one category of skeptical theories.  Kreeft makes no effort to disprove the skeptical theory that Jesus was a legend or fictional character.  So, if we add this skeptical theory to the four that Kreeft has identified, there are at least FIVE skeptical theories that need to be refuted in order for Kreeft’s case for the resurrection to be successful.
 

A SECOND NEW DILEMMA

The first alternative above (Jesus was an actual historical person) needs to be divided by another true dilemma:

Jesus was crucified.

OR

It is NOT the case that Jesus was crucified.

Again the second alternative here reflects at least one more skeptical theory, or one category of skeptical theories.  One example of such a theory is this:

There was a case of mistaken identity and someone who looked like Jesus was arrested and crucified by Roman soldiers because they thought this person was Jesus of Nazareth.  Some of the followers of Jesus saw this man crucified, and they too believed that the crucified man was Jesus.  Jesus had left Jerusalem about the same time that this other man who looked like Jesus was crucified, so when Jesus’ disciples heard that Jesus had been arrested, crucified, and buried, they believed that Jesus had in fact been arrested, crucified, and buried.  Later, when they met up with Jesus again, they sincerely but mistakenly inferred that Jesus must have risen from the dead.

This is a significant skeptical theory that Kreeft never mentions, and that Kreeft made no effort to disprove.  So, we now see that there are at least SIX skeptical theories that need to be refuted in order for Kreeft’s case for the resurrection to be successful. But Kreeft only attempted to refute FOUR skeptical theories, and he FAILED to refute at least TWO of those theories.
 

A THIRD DILEMMA, SIMILAR TO THE FIRST DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S ANALYSIS

The first alternative (Jesus was crucified) needs to be divided into two possibilities by another dilemma:

Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross.

OR

It is NOT the case that Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross.

This is similar to the original dilemma that Kreeft used to begin his analysis:

Jesus died

OR

Jesus didn’t die

But the 3rd Dilemma that I’m proposing in this revised analysis is clearer and is relevant to the issue of the resurrection.
The most obvious skeptical theory related to the second alternative of the 3rd dilemma (It is NOT the case that Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross) is, as Kreeft’s diagram indicates, the Swoon Theory.
However, other skeptical theories could also be related to the second alternative of the 3rd dilemma.  In Part 1 of my series “Defending the Swoon Theory”, I show that the Swoon Theory involves a claim or assumption about WHY the Roman soldiers allowed Jesus’ body to be removed from the cross (Jesus Appeared to be Dead):

(JAD) Jesus had swooned (or was unconscious) and he appeared to be dead, so the Roman soldiers mistakenly believed that he was already dead, and for that reason they allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross, even though Jesus was actually still alive.

But there are MANY different possible explanations for WHY the Roman soldiers might have allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross, even though he was still alive.
Here are six alternatives to (JAD), which would, if we define the Swoon Theory in terms of (JAD), mean that these possibilities represent SIX MORE skeptical theories in addition to the Swoon Theory:

  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they were bribed to do so.
  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they were threatened to make them do this.
  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they got drunk and fell asleep.
  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they were followers of Jesus and wanted to help Jesus to survive.
  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they were ordered by a superior officer to do so.
  • The Roman soldiers allowed Jesus to be removed from the cross while he was still alive because they were overpowered and killed by some anti-Roman Jewish Zealots who were angered by the crucifixion of Jesus.

So, if “the Swoon Theory” is understood as asserting (JAD), then it follows logically that there are at least SIX more alternative skeptical theories to add to our collection of SIX skeptical theories, meaning that at least TWELVE different skeptical theories would need to be refuted in order for Kreeft’s case for the resurrection to be successful.  But Kreeft has only attempted to refute FOUR skeptical theories, and he FAILED to refute at least TWO of those theories.
 

A FOURTH DILEMMA, VERY SIMILAR TO THE SECOND DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S ANALYSIS

The first alternative (Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross) needs to be divided into two possibilities by another dilemma.  We can use a dilemma that is basically the same as one used in Kreeft’s analysis:

Jesus rose from the dead.

OR

It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead.

Kreeft identifies the first alternative with “Christianity” or the Christian theory.  But there are also skeptical theories that are associated with this first alternative:

  • The devil raised Jesus from the dead.
  • A demon raised Jesus from the dead.
  • An angel raised Jesus from the dead (on his own initiative, without God’s approval).
  • A witch or wizard used magic to raise Jesus from the dead.
  • A finite deity (like Zeus or Venus) raised Jesus from the dead.
  • A fairy raised Jesus from the dead.
  • Jesus rose from the dead by the power of a philosopher’s stone.

There are many other such skeptical theories that are possible.   Skeptics often reject belief in supernatural beings and forces, so most skeptics would not endorse such supernatural theories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus.  However, there are many people who do believe in supernatural beings or forces who are not Christians, and who might well challenge the Christian theory about Jesus’ death and alleged resurrection.  They might not call themselves “skeptics”, but they are nevertheless skeptical about the Christian theory.
Kreeft has not considered any such skeptical theories, nor has Kreeft made any attempt to refute such theories.  There are at least SEVEN such theories, and we have previously identified at least TWELVE skeptical theories, so there are at least NINETEEN skeptical theories that need to be refuted in order for Kreeft’s case for the resurrection to be successful.  But Kreeft only attempted to refute FOUR skeptical theories, and he FAILED to refute at least TWO of those theories.
 

THE FAILURE OF KREEFT’S TRILEMMA

Most of the skeptical theories that Kreeft does consider are related to the second alternative above (It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead).  Kreeft divides this possibility into a “trilemma”, into three different categories, each of which corresponds to one skeptical theory:

The apostles were deceived—-> Hallucination Theory

OR

The apostles were myth-makers—-> Myth Theory

OR

The apostles were deceivers—-> Conspiracy Theory

But this is NOT a true trilemma, because this logical analysis FAILS to encompass ALL of the skeptical theories that are associated with the second alternative above (It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross).
For example, the stories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus could have developed AFTER “the apostles” (i.e. the inner-circle of disciples of Jesus) had all died.  The “deceivers” or “myth-makers” could have been the next generation of followers of Jesus (i.e. the disciples of the eleven disciples).  [This skeptical theory was mentioned in a comment by “Carstonio” in response to my Defending the Swoon Theory – INDEX post.]  There may be some significant problems with this theory, but it is clearly a skeptical theory that does NOT FIT under any of the above three categories.  Therefore, it is clear that those three categories FAIL to encompass ALL of the skeptical theories that are associated with the second alternative above (It is NOT the case that Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus was dead when his body was removed from the cross).
This new skeptical theory means that there are now at least TWENTY different skeptical theories that Kreeft needs to refute in order for his case for the resurrection to be successful.  But Kreeft only attempted to refute FOUR skeptical theories, and he FAILED to refute at least TWO of those theories.
 

A FIFTH DILEMMA, BASED ON A LEMMA FROM KREEFT’S FAILED TRILEMMA

The existence of this added skeptical theory also means that we should revise and improve Kreeft’s logical analysis of possible theories.  I suggest we stick to using dilemmas, to make sure that we cover ALL possible theories.  Let’s start with the first lemma that Kreeft used in his FAILED trilemma:

the apostles were deceived

I prefer the clearer designation “the eleven disciples of Jesus” instead of unclear phrase “the apostles”, and we also need to be more specific about the deception involved here:

The eleven disciples of Jesus were deceived into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead

OR

It is NOT the case that the eleven disciples of Jesus were deceived into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead

Kreeft associates the first alternative with the Hallucination theory.  Experiencing hallucinations of Jesus would indeed be a way that the eleven disciples of Jesus could have been DECEIVED into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead.  But there are clearly OTHER WAYS that they could have been deceived into accepting this belief:

  • Vivid dreams – of seeing, and talking to, Jesus
  • Mistaken Identity – seeing a person who happened to look and act like Jesus
  • Intentionally Fooled – by an actor wearing make-up and/or disguised to look like Jesus
  • Intentionally Fooled – by a person who naturally (without make-up or disguise) looked like Jesus
  • False Memories – implanted by hypnosis or suggestion, of having seen, or spoken with, the risen Jesus
  • False Memories – implanted by the Devil, of having seen, or spoken with, the risen Jesus
  • Visions of Jesus in heaven – leading to the mistaken belief that Jesus had a new resurrected body

There are at least SEVEN other ways that the disciples could have been DECEIVED into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead, so if we add those skeptical theories to our existing pile of TWENTY skeptical theories, it follows that there are at least TWENTY-SEVEN skeptical theories that need to be refuted in order for Kreeft’s case for the resurrection to be successful.  But Kreeft only attempted to refute FOUR skeptical theories, and he FAILED to refute at least TWO of those theories.
I have not completed my revision of Peter Kreeft’s analysis of the logical possibilities concerning alternative skeptical theories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus, but so far I have identified a number of gaps and problems with Kreeft’s analysis, and I have shown that there are at least TWENTY-SEVEN alternative skeptical theories, which means that Kreeft needs to refute at least TWENTY-SEVEN skeptical theories, not just the FOUR skeptical theories that he attempted to refute in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
TO BE CONTINUED…
 
 
 
 

bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – INDEX

OVERVIEW

In Chapter 8 of his book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA),  Peter Kreeft (and his co-author Ronald Tacelli), makes a case for the resurrection of Jesus.  He does so by attempting to “refute” or “disprove” four skeptical theories that are alternatives to the Christian view that God raised Jesus from the dead:

Hallucination: “the apostles were deceived by a hallucination”
Myth: “the apostles created a myth, not meaning it literally”
Conspiracy: “the apostles were deceivers who conspired to foist on the world the most famous and successful lie in history”
Swoon:  “Jesus only swooned and was resuscitated, not resurrected”

(from HCA, p.182)
One of the four skeptical theories is the Swoon Theory.  In Chapter 8 of HCA, Kreeft raises nine objections against the Swoon Theory.  Those objections were also published in a blog post by Peter Kreeft.

 
Recently, I completed a series of twenty-two blog posts showing various problems, errors, and weaknesses with Kreeft’s arguments against the Swoon Theory, and I concluded that each of those nine objections FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory.
 
Since Kreeft has FAILED to refute the Swoon Theory, we have sufficient reason to conclude that his case for the resurrection of Jesus is also a FAILURE.  Kreeft claimed that he would prove that Jesus rose from the dead, but that turns out to be just another bit of FALSE ADVERTISING for Christianity by a Christian apologist.  Kreeft is thus like a used car salesman, full of hype and big claims, but unwilling or unable to tell us the honest truth about the serious problems and defects in the product he wants to sell to us.
 

INTRODUCTORY POSTS FOR MY DEFENSE OF THE SWOON THEORY

In Part 1  I argue that if we accept Kreeft’s narrow conception of the Swoon Theory, then his case for the resurrection immediately FAILS, because there are clearly several alternative skeptical theories to the Swoon Theory that are similar to that theory, but that Kreeft never even attempts to refute.  So, on Kreeft’s understanding of what the Swoon Theory implies, his case for the resurrection FAILS, because he leaves several skeptical theories completely UNTOUCHED, and thus he FAILS to refute several alternative skeptical theories.
In Part 2 I continue to argue that Kreeft’s narrow conception of the Swoon Theory should be rejected in favor of a broader more general theory, that I call the Survival Theory.  I also argue that seven out of Kreeft’s nine objections against the Swoon Theory are problematic because they are based on the questionable assumption that the Gospels are historically reliable (or that various passages in the Gospels are historically reliable).
Kreeft recognizes that his use of Gospel passages as proof of his historical claims is problematic and he makes an attempt to defend his use of those Gospel passages.  Kreeft makes two points in defense of his use of Gospel passages, and I argue that the first point is IRRELEVANT, and that second point is AMBIGUOUS between a false claim and an insignificant claim.  So, right off the bat, we can see that seven out of Kreeft’s nine objections are dubious, because they are based on historical claims that are are supported by dubious Gospel passages.
 

TWO OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE SWOON THEORY THAT ARE NOT BASED ON THE GOSPELS

In Part 3  I analyze and clarify Kreeft’s Objection #1 The “Deadliness of Roman Crucifixion” Objection:

1. Roman procedures were very careful to eliminate the possibility of a person surviving crucifixion.

2. Roman law even laid the death penalty on any Roman soldier who let a capital prisoner escape in any way, including bungling a crucifixion.

3. No Roman soldier ever let a capital prisoner escape or ever bungled a crucifixion.

THEREFORE:

4. Jesus could not have survived Roman crucifixion.

I argue that Objection #1 FAILS, because the combination of premises (1) and (2) provide only a weak reason in support of (3) and in support of (4), and because premise (3) taken literally begs the question at issue, and because (3) when interpreted to make a non-question-begging claim is still a very strong historical claim for which Kreeft has provided ZERO historical evidence, an historical claim which is very dubious and likely to be FALSE.
In Part 4 I examine Kreeft’s Objection #8The “Where Did Jesus Go?” Objection:

1a. It is NOT the case that there is some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

A1. IF Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross), THEN there would be some historical data about Jesus’ life on Earth after the alleged forty days of his post-crucifixion appearances to his apostles.

THEREFORE:

B. It is NOT the case that Jesus survived his crucifixion (i.e. it is NOT the case that Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross and lived for at least a few days or weeks after being removed from the cross).

[Note: I jump from Objection #1 to Objection #8, because those are the only two objections that appear to NOT be based on dubious Gospel passages.]
In Part 5 I argue that the original version of this argument was UNSOUND because premise (1) was clearly and obviously FALSE.  The first premise of the revised version of Kreeft’s argument constituting Objection #8, namely (1a) appears to be TRUE, but the second premise of the revised argument, namely (A1), appears to be FALSE.  I argue that we have good reason to conclude that premise (A1) is FALSE, and thus that the revised argument is UNSOUND.  Whether we consider the original version or the improved revised version, Kreeft’s Objection #8 FAILS.
 

FOUR OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE SWOON THEORY THAT ARE BASED ON THE 4TH GOSPEL

In Part 6 I point out that four of Kreeft’s objections to the Swoon Theory  (Objections #2, #3, #4,and #5) are based on dubious passages from the 4th Gospel:

  • Objection #2 assumes that John 19:31-33 asserts TRUE historical claims.
  • Objection #3 assumes that John 19:34-35 asserts TRUE historical claims.
  • Objection #4 assumes that John 19:36-42 asserts TRUE historical claims.
  • Objection #5 assumes that John 20:19-29 asserts TRUE historical claims.

(The above bullet points are from Part 2)
I argue that the 4th Gospel is the least reliable of the four gospels, and that it was probably NOT written by John the disciple of Jesus.
In Part 7 I examine Kreeft’s Objection #2The “Break their Legs” Objection:

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 Part 7 I point out three problems with Objection #2:

  1. Roman Soldiers were NOT Medical Doctors
  2. The Same Passage Implies the Soldiers were NOT Sure Jesus was Dead
  3. The Key Historical Claims Made by Kreeft are DUBIOUS

I explained that the key historical claims in Objection #2 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.  I pointed out ten good reasons to doubt the historical reliability of the passage from the 4th Gospel used by Kreeft as the basis for Objection #2.
In Part 6 I provide some evidence and reasoning supporting Point #1 and Point #2 of those ten good reasons to doubt the historical reliability of the passage from the 4th Gospel used by Kreeft as the basis for Objection #2.
In Part 8 I provide some evidence and reasoning supporting Point #3, Point #4, and Point #5 of those ten good reasons to doubt the historical reliability of the passage from the 4th Gospel used by Kreeft as the basis for Objection #2.
In Part 9 I provide some evidence and reasoning supporting the remaining five good reasons to doubt the historical reliability of the passage from the 4th Gospel used by Kreeft as the basis for Objection #2.
In Part 10 I analyze and evaluate the argument that constitutes Kreeft’s Objection #3The “Blood and Water” Objection:

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.

I argue that it is very likely that this argument is UNSOUND:
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.
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.  This is the SAME PASSAGE (John 19: 31-37) that Kreeft relied on to support his Objection #2, and, as I argued in previous posts, there are at least ten good reasons for doubting the reliability and historicity of that 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.
In Part 11 I analyze and begin to evaluate Kreeft’s Objection #4The “Winding Sheets” Objection:

1. When Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, the body was totally encased in winding sheets and placed in a stone tomb.

A. IF when Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, the body was totally encased in winding sheets and placed in a stone tomb, THEN it is virtually certain that the Survival Theory is false.

THEREFORE: 

2. It is virtually certain that The Survival Theory is false.

In Part 11 I argue that there are a number of historical and factual issues that can be raised against the first premise of Objection #4:

  • It is NOT a fact that Jesus’ body was removed from the cross. 
  • It is NOT a fact that Jesus’ body was totally encased in winding sheets. 
  • It is NOT a fact that Jesus’ body was placed in a stone tomb. 

That Jesus’ body was removed from the cross is, however, assumed by the Swoon Theory, so both the Christian theory and the Swoon Theory make that assumption.  But the Swoon Theory does NOT assume the truth of the other two historical claims.
All of these are historical hypotheses that must be evaluated in terms of historical facts and evidence.  And this is something that Peter Kreeft NEVER DOES, on almost any important historical issue related to Jesus and Christianity.  So, Kreeft’s Objection #4 is a FAILURE because he makes NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to show that any of his historical claims and assumptions supporting premise (1) are actually TRUE.
Kreeft’s Objection #4 has two basic elements:  the winding sheets and the entombment.
In Part 11  I consider three different versions of the Winding Sheets Objection, and find all three to be WEAK objections against the Swoon Theory (the third version actually supports the Swoon Theory).
In Part 12 I examine a reasonable interpretation of the second element of Objection #4 (i.e. the Entombment Objection), and show this to also be a WEAK objection against the Swoon Theory, because (a) the basic assumption that Jesus remained in the tomb for 36 hours is dubious, and (b) each of the three bullet points of the Entombment Objection has a number of other problems that further weaken that objection.
Because Kreeft makes no effort whatsoever to show that the historical assumptions upon which premise (1) of the argument rests are actually true, Objection #4 FAILS to prove that the Swoon Theory is false.   Also, because Objection #4 includes two elements, the Winding Sheets Objections and the Entombment Objection, and because these are all WEAK objections, Kreeft’s Objection #4 FAILS to prove that the Swoon Theory is false.
In Part 13 I analyze and evaluate Objection #5The Sickly Jesus Objection:

The post-resurrection appearances convinced the disciples, even “doubting Thomas,” that Jesus was gloriously alive (Jn 20:19-29). It is psychologically impossible for the disciples to have been so transformed and confident if Jesus had merely struggled out of a swoon, badly in need of a doctor. A half-dead, staggering sick man who has just had a narrow escape is not worshiped fearlessly as divine lord and conqueror of death.

(HCA, p. 183)

This is one of the most common objections raised against The Swoon Theory.  I call it the “Sickly Jesus Objection” or SJO.
The strength of SJO depends upon a number of ASSUMPTIONS made by Christian apologists.  One key ASSUMPTION concerns the timing of the first “appearances” of the “risen” Jesus to his disciples:

The first “appearances” of the “risen” Jesus took place less than 48 hours after Jesus was crucified. 

I argue that this key assumption is PROBABLY FALSE, and thus that SJO is a weak objection.
Other ASSUMPTIONS about Jesus’ alleged wounds are required in order for SJO to be a strong objection:

  • Jesus was severely whipped with a Roman scourge prior to being crucified
  • a harmful crown of thorns (with long sharp thorns pointing inward) was shoved forcefully onto Jesus’ scalp prior to his crucifixion
  • both of Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross
  • both of Jesus’ feet were nailed to the cross
  • Jesus received a deep and severe spear wound to his side while he was still on the cross

Because NONE of these assumptions about the alleged wounds of Jesus is an established historical FACT, and because all of these assumptions are questionable, SJO is a weak objection.
We have multiple good reasons to conclude that SJO is a weak objection, thus it is clear that SJO FAILS to disprove or refute the Swoon Theory.
 

THREE OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE SWOON THEORY BASED ON OTHER GOSPELS

In Part 14 I analyze Objection #6 – The “Who Overpowered the Guards?” Objection, as making four main points:

P1. The Roman guards at the tomb could not have been overpowered by Jesus (by himself).

P2.  The Roman guards at the tomb could not have been overpowered by the disciples of Jesus. 

P3. If the disciples of Jesus removed Jesus from the tomb, they knowingly lied when they wrote the Gospels.

P4. If the disciples of Jesus removed Jesus from the tomb, that implies the conspiracy theory, which Kreeft refutes.

I also point out various problems with these four main points.
NOTE:  Objection #9 is based on the idea that the Swoon Theory implies that either the Conspiracy Theory or the Hallucination theory are true.  So, my evaluation of Objection #9 also provides a response to (P3) and (P4) from Objection #6.
In Part 15 I interpret the first two points, (P1) and (P2), as being combined to form a key premise in an argument against the Swoon Theory, namely premise (1):

1. It is NOT the case that either (a) Jesus overpowered the Roman guards at his tomb by himself or (b) the Roman guards at Jesus’ tomb were overpowered by the disciples of Jesus.

A. IF the Swoon Theory is true, THEN either (a) Jesus overpowered the Roman guards at his tomb by himself or (b) the Roman guards at Jesus’ tomb were overpowered by the disciples of Jesus.

THEREFORE:

2. It is NOT the case that the Swoon Theory is true.

In order to construct a logically valid argument for the conclusion (2), we must add the unstated assumption (A) to premise (1).
I show that this argument FAILS to make a solid objection against the Swoon Theory, because premise (A) constitutes a FALSE DILEMMA.  There are many different ways that Jesus could have left the tomb (or been taken from the tomb) without being detained or killed by the Roman guards, not just the two particular possibilities that Kreeft focuses upon (Jesus overpowered ALL the guards by himself OR some of the Twelve disciples overpowered ALL the guards), so premise (A) is FALSE, making this argument against the Swoon Theory an UNSOUND argument.  Thus, Kreeft’s Objection #6 FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory.
In Part 16 I point out that in Objection #6  Kreeft assumes the following historical claim, without making any effort to provide historical evidence to prove this key claim:

RG: Roman guards were posted outside of the tomb of Jesus to prevent the tomb from being opened and to prevent Jesus’ body from leaving the tomb or from being removed from the tomb.

In Part 16 and in Part 17 I argue that it is probable that (RG) is FALSE, and thus that we have a second good reason to conclude that premise (A) is FALSE (in addition to the fact that this premise asserts a FALSE DILEMMA ), and that the above argument by Kreeft against the Swoon Theory  is UNSOUND.  Therefore, it is clear that Kreeft’s Objection #6 FAILS to prove that the Swoon Theory is false.
In Part 18 I argue that although premise (1) of the argument constituting Objection #6 is probably true, it is NOT true for the reason that Kreeft believes it to be true.  Rather (1) is probably true, because there probably were no Roman soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus.
In Part 19 I analyze the logical structure of the core argument in Kreeft’s Objection # 7The “Who Moved the Stone?” Objection:

B. Jesus did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

C. The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

D. The Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb

THEREFORE: 

1. There is no plausible natural explanation for how the stone moved from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

THEREFORE:

A. The Swoon Theory is FALSE.

I also analyze the sub-arguments that Kreeft provides in support of the basic premises of the core argument: (B), (C), (D), and (E).
In Part 20 I evaluate the sub-arguments supporting premises (B), (C), and (D).  I show that the three sub-arguments supporting key premises (B), (C), and (D) are all FAILURES.  If just one of these sub-arguments FAILS, then Objection #7 FAILS to prove that the Swoon Theory is false.  Thus, I conclude that Kreeft’s Objection #7 FAILS, and that it is clear and certain that this objection FAILS.
In Part 21 I evaluate the three sub-arguments that Kreeft gives to support the key premise (E), and all three of those arguments FAIL to establish (E), giving us another good and sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.  Because there are at least FOUR good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory, it is clear that Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.
In Part 22 I point out two more good and sufficient reasons why Objection #7 FAILS.  First, the inference from the four key premises to the sub-conclusion (1) is a HASTY CONCLUSION, and thus a dubious inference.  Second, the inference from the sub-conclusion (1) to the ultimate conclusion (A) is INVALID, so there can be no doubt that Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.
In Part 22 I also analyze and evaluate Objection #9The “Swoon Theory implies False Theories” Objection:

1. Jesus’ disciples testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.

THEREFORE:

2. If the Swoon Theory is true, then either the Conspiracy Theory or the Hallucination Theory is also true.

3. It is NOT the case that the Conspiracy Theory is true.

4.It is NOT the case that the Hallucination Theory is true.

THEREFORE:

5. It is NOT the case that the Swoon Theory is true.

I argue that premise (1) cannot be supported by the available historical evidence, and is thus dubious, and I argue that (2) does NOT follow from (1), and I point to a whole series of posts about Kreeft’s attempts to disprove the Conspiracy Theory, where I showed that each of his objections against that skeptical theory are miserable FAILURES.  So, there is no good reason to believe premise (3), so that premise is dubious.  I conclude that Objection #9 is a miserable FAILURE; it does not disprove the Swoon Theory.
 

CONCLUSION ABOUT KREEFT’S ATTEMPT TO DISPROVE THE SWOON THEORY

Every single one of Kreeft’s nine objections against the Swoon Theory FAIL.  None of those objections refute or disprove the Swoon Theory.  Kreeft appears to be incapable of producing a single strong and solid argument against the Swoon Theory.  His arguments are all WEAK or UNSOUND.  He has put forward so many crappy arguments, that I suspect he is incapable of telling the difference between a STRONG argument and a WEAK one, between a SOUND argument and an UNSOUND one.  His attempt to refute the Swoon Theory is an unmitigated, pathetic, miserable FAILURE.

bookmark_borderAn F-Inductive Argument from Consciousness for Theism, Revisited

Edited on 15-Feb-20
While some theistic arguments are “God of the gaps” arguments, many, including those defended by Christian philosophers, are not “God of the gaps” arguments. Before accusing a theist of trotting out another “God-of-the-gaps” argument, atheists should first verify that the argument actually is a “God-of-the-gaps” argument.
Here is the basic structure of a “God-of-the-gaps” argument:

  1. Some odd or puzzling thing, E, occurs or exists.
  2. Science is unable to offer a plausible, God-free explanation for E.
  3. Therefore, God is the best explanation for E.
  4. Therefore, God exists.

There are many, well-known problems with such arguments. I’ve written on this topic elsewhere, so I won’t repeat those points here. Instead, I want to sketch how a theistic argument can avoid appealing to a gap in scientific knowledge. Here is the structure of an F-inductive argument from consciousness:
Let E=consciousness exists; N=naturalism; T=theism; B=background information; Pr(|H|)=the intrinsic probability of H; and Pr(x|y)=the epistemic probability of x conditional upon y

  1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
  2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
  3. Pr(E| T & B) > Pr(E | N & B).
  4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, N is probably false, i.e., Pr(T | B & E) > 0.5.

Whatever problems may exist with that argument, being a “God of the gaps” argument isn’t one of them. The present inability of science to explain consciousness plays no role whatsoever in the argument. What’s doing the work in the argument is the fact that theism, as a version of supernaturalism, entails that consciousness exists, whereas naturalism has no such entailment.
Allow me to explain. “Naturalism” is really just short-hand for “source physicalism,” which says that the physical world exists and, if the mental world exists, the physical explains why the mental exists (or, to allow for eliminative materialists, appears to exist). “Supernaturalism” is really just short-hand for “source idealism,” which says that a mental world exists and, if a physical world exists, the mental explains why the physical exists (or, to allow for eliminative idealists, appears to exist). “Theism” is a specific version of supernaturalism; it says that the mental being or entity which explains why the physical exists is a perfect supernatural person.
N.B. While theism does not entail human consciousness exists, theism does entail consciousness exists because theism entails that God exists and God is conscious, by definition. In contrast, naturalism is compatible with the non-existence of consciousness. So the existence of human consciousness, while not entailed by theism, isn’t surprising on theism in the way it is on naturalism. In that sense, human consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
Objections to the Argument
Objection to (1): “We have no idea what ‘consciousness’, ‘mental,’ and ‘physical’ mean. Science can’t explain some E if the E is poorly defined.”
Reply: By a “mental world,” I mean the existence of a private, subjective world. By a “physical world,” I mean the existence of a public, objective world. By “consciousness,” I mean sentience.
Objection to (2): “But intrinsic probabilities don’t appeal to the propositions included in our background knowledge, and so ignore prior probabilities.”
Reply: As we say in computer science, that’s a feature, not a bug. Intrinsic probabilities come before prior probabilities. As the name implies, intrinsic probabilities are probabilities determined solely by the intrinsic properties of a proposition. Draper has argued (convincingly, in my opinion) that intrinsic probabilities are determined by scope, modesty, and nothing else. In contrast, prior probabilities are determined by the propositions in our background knowledge, such as “A physical universe exists,” “The universe is life-permitting,” “So much of the physical world is intelligible without appeal to supernatural agency,” and so forth.
Objection to (3): “The claim that Pr(E | T & B) > Pr(E | N & B) is unfounded because generic or mere theism doesn’t contain enough information to predict or demystify E. One would have to appeal to a specific kind of theism to justify something like (3), but a more specific kind of theism would have a lower intrinsic probability than mere theism.”
Reply: This is false for the reason explained above. While theism does not entail human consciousness exists, theism does entail consciousness exists because theism entails that God exists and God is conscious, by definition. In contrast, naturalism is compatible with the non-existence of consciousness. So the existence of human consciousness, while not entailed by theism, isn’t surprising on theism in the way it is on naturalism. In that sense, human consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
Objection to (4): “But consciousness depends upon a physical brain. That’s more probable on naturalism than on theism.”
Reply: Correct. We know much more about the mental than the fact that it exists. We also know that it is dependent upon the brain, a fact which is much more likely on naturalism than on theism. So, once the evidence about consciousness is fully stated, it’s clear that there is also evidence favoring naturalism over theism. That fact, however, does nothing to refute this argument, which contains an “other evidence held equal” clause in its conclusion.
Objection to (4): “But the naturalistic evidence of mind-brain dependence outweighs the theistic evidence from consciousness.”
Reply: I am not aware of anyone having offered a successful argument for that claim. It’s not clear to me how such an argument could be adequately defended.
Objection to (4): “But the history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones. That gives us reason to expect that science will eventually explain consciousness without God.”
Reply: I agree that gives us some reason to expect that science will eventually explain consciousness without appealing to God. That doesn’t change the fact, pointed out by (3), that the content of “naturalism,” as I have defined it, gives us no antecedent reason to expect consciousness to exist if naturalism is true, whereas “theism,” as I have defined it, does give us an antecedent reason to expect consciousness. This promissory naturalistic ‘atheodicy’ has no logical relevance to the argument anyway.
Objection to (4): “But (4) must be false because theism is false.”
Reply: That would follow only if one assumes that there can never be true evidence for a false proposition, but why assume that? There can be circumstantial evidence that a defendant is innocent of murder, while at the same time there could be other evidence for the defendant’s guilt, such as DNA evidence, which completely outweighs the circumstantial evidence. Similarly, a theist might say, “Suffering, imperfection, poor design, and mind-brain dependence are evidence against God’s existence, but that evidence is completely outweighed by the evidence from the finite age of the universe, the life-permitting conditions of the universe, human consciousness, etc.” Similarly, even if one believes (as I do) that it’s extremely improbable that God exists, one can consistently allow that consciousness is evidence–even strong evidence–favoring theism over naturalism, while simultaneously believing that other evidence outweighs the theistic evidence. People in general need to stop taking a binary, “all-or-nothing” approach to evidence.

bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – Part 22: Swoon Theory Implies Other False Theories

WHERE WE ARE
Kreeft provides six sub-arguments in Objection #7. Three sub-arguments are given to support the key premises (B), (C), and (D), and in Part 20 I showed that those three sub-arguments FAIL to establish either (B) or (C) or (D), giving us three good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.
The remaining three sub-arguments are given to support the key premise (E), and in Part 21 I showed that all three of those arguments FAIL to establish (E), giving us another good and sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS. We now have at least FOUR good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory, so it is clear that Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.
Actually, there are two more good reasons to conclude that Objection #7 is a FAILURE.  The core argument involves the key premises (B), (C), (D), and (E), but it also involves an inference from those four key premises to a sub-conclusion, and another inference from the sub-conclusion to the ultimate conclusion of this objection.
Here is the logical structure of the core argument of Objection #7 (click on the image below for a clearer view of the diagram):

 
 
 
 
 
 

Here is the core argument of Objection #7:

B. Jesus did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

C. The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

D. The Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

THEREFORE:

1. There is no plausible natural explanation for how the stone moved from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

THEREFORE:

A. The Swoon Theory is FALSE. 

In Part 19  I argued that (1) does NOT FOLLOW from the four key premises, because there are several OTHER groups of people that Kreeft has not eliminated as potential movers-of-the-stone:

  • Other Roman soldiers who were not guarding the tomb.
  • Romans who lived in Jerusalem who were not Roman soldiers.
  • Jews who lived in Jerusalem who were not part of the Jewish authorities.
  • Followers of Jesus who were not among the inner-circle of twelve disciples.
  • Jewish people visiting from Africa.
  • Jewish people visiting from Egypt.
  • Jewish people visiting from Greece.
  • Non-Jewish people visiting from Africa.
  • Non-Jewish people visiting from Egypt.
  • Non-Jewish people visiting from Greece.
  • etc., etc.

The inference from the four key premises to the sub-conclusion (1) is clearly a HASTY CONCLUSION, so Kreeft has FAILED to show that claim (1) is true, even if all four key premises are assumed to be true.
Furthermore, the ultimate conclusion (A) DOES NOT FOLLOW from (1).  Even granting, for the sake of argument, that there was some sort of supernatural cause that moved the stone from the entrance of the tomb, this does NOT show that God (or an angel sent by God) moved the stone, because there are OTHER possible supernatural explanations (e.g. ghosts, demons, wizards, finite gods, dragons, fairies, people with telekinetic powers, etc.).
Finally, even if God (or an angel) was the cause of the movement of the stone, it DOES NOT FOLLOW that God (or an angel) raised Jesus from the dead.  Jesus could have survived crucifixion without any supernatural assistance and then God (or an angel) provided supernatural assistance just to help Jesus escape from the tomb.   The movement of the stone by God (or an angel) is compatible with the Swoon Theory being TRUE.
Thus, every single aspect of the core argument of Objection #7 FAILS.  Kreeft has failed to establish ANY of the four key premises of this argument, and the two inferences in the core argument are DUBIOUS or INVALID inferences.  We thus have a total of SIX good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.
 
KREEFT’S FINAL OBJECTION – OBJECTION #9

Kreeft’s final objection against the Swoon Theory is that it implies other false theories:

Most simply, the swoon theory necessarily turns into the conspiracy theory or the hallucination theory, for the disciples testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.

(Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p.184)
Here is the argument that constitutes Kreeft’s Objection #9:

1. Jesus’ disciples testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.

THEREFORE:

2. If the Swoon Theory is true, then either the Conspiracy Theory or the Hallucination Theory is also true.

3. It is NOT the case that the Conspiracy Theory is true.

4.It is NOT the case that the Hallucination Theory is true.

THEREFORE:

5. It is NOT the case that the Swoon Theory is true.

Because we already know that at least eight out of Kreeft’s nine objections FAIL (at least 89% of Kreeft’s objections FAIL), it is reasonable to infer that his Objection #9 will probably FAIL too.  So, I’m not going to go into great detail in my evaluation of this final crappy objection.  Kreeft has repeatedly shown that he is intellectually incapable of providing a strong and solid argument for anything, and the problems with Objection #9 are fairly obvious, so I’m going to dispatch this objection quickly.
The inference from premises (2), (3), and (4) to the conclusion (5) is a valid deductive inference, so that inference in this argument is fine.  However, every premise in this argument is FALSE or DUBIOUS, so this argument FAILS, like every other argument Kreeft has made against the Swoon Theory.
Premise (1) implies several historical claims about the twelve disciples (eleven, after the betrayal by Judas), and Kreeft, as usual, makes absolutely no effort whatsoever to provide historical evidence in support of these various historical claims:

  • Peter testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • James testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • Andrew testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • John testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • Thomas testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • Matthew testified that Jesus did not swoon but really died and really rose.
  • etc., etc.

As a matter of fact, there is very little information in the New Testament about what Jesus’ disciples said or did after the crucifixion of Jesus. The book of Acts focuses mainly on Peter and on Paul (who was not one of Jesus’ disciples), and has a few mentions of John, but has very little to say about the other disciples of Jesus.  The available historical evidence tells us very little about what Jesus’s disciples did after the crucifixion of Jesus.  So, the available historical evidence is insufficient to establish the basic premise of this argument, premise (1).
The inference from (1) to (2) is INVALID.  I have previously described a scenario in which the Swoon Theory is TRUE and yet Jesus’ disciples honestly and sincerely believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead:

 Jesus’ disciples could have heard from the women who observed the burial of Jesus, that there were signs of life, and that Jesus appeared to be alive.  They could have then gone to the tomb of Jesus and found Jesus alive in the tomb, and then taken Jesus to a house in Jerusalem where he could hide out from the Romans and from the Jewish authorities.  If this is what happened, then the disciples might well have assumed that Jesus had died on the cross, and that God had brought Jesus back to life when Jesus was buried (or finished bringing Jesus back to life after his body was placed in the tomb).  In that case the Conspiracy Theory would be FALSE, because Jesus’ disciples would honestly and sincerely believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even though they had helped Jesus to get out of the stone tomb.

As I have previously argued, there probably were no Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, and even if there were three or four Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, they could have been overpowered by ten or eleven of Jesus’ disciples.
The scenario I described above makes no mention of, and has no reliance upon, the theory that some of Jesus disciples had hallucinations that they took to be experiences of the risen Jesus.  So, it is clear that we can imagine a realistic scenario in which (1) is true, but (2) is false.  So, even if (1) were true, that would NOT PROVE that (2) was true.  The first inference in this argument thus FAILS.
Kreeft has raised some objections against the Conspiracy Theory, but I have examined each objection, and I concluded that every objection Kreeft made against the Conspiracy Theory FAILS.  Kreeft fails to show that the Conspiracy Theory is false.  Kreeft has no strong and solid argument in support of premise (3).  Thus premise (3) remains questionable and dubious.
Kreeft’s Objection #9 FAILS because (a) the main factual premise (1) cannot be established on the basis of available historical evidence, and (b) the inference from premise (1) to premise (2) is INVALID, and (c) premise (3) is dubious because Kreeft has not offered even one solid argument for (3); he has no strong and solid objection against the Conspiracy Theory.
I strongly suspect that Kreeft has no strong and solid argument against the Hallucination Theory either, based on the fact that every single one of his objections against the Swoon Theory and the Conspiracy Theory FAIL.  So, it is very likely that his objections against the Hallucination Theory are just as crappy as all of his other objections have been.  We are justified in being skeptical about the truth of premise (4).
 
CONCLUSION ABOUT KREEFT’S ATTEMPT TO REFUTE THE SWOON THEORY
Every single one of Kreeft’s nine objections against the Swoon Theory FAIL.  None of those objections refute or disprove the Swoon Theory.  Kreeft appears to be incapable of producing a single strong and solid argument against the Swoon Theory.  His arguments are all WEAK or UNSOUND.  He has put forward so many crappy arguments, that I suspect he is incapable of telling the difference between a STRONG argument and a WEAK one, between a SOUND argument and an UNSOUND one.  His attempt to refute the Swoon Theory is an unmitigated, pathetic, miserable FAILURE.
Furthermore, Kreeft’s complete indifference to FACTS, especially his consistent apathy about EVIDENCE concerning the historical claims and assumptions needed for his arguments to work, not only makes his arguments consistently FAIL, but provides Christians with a horrible example of intellectual sloth.
One reason why the Senate of the United States refused to subpoena any witnesses or documents in the Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump is that the GOP senators believed they could count on their constituents, who are mostly Christian believers, to be UNTROUBLED by the Senate refusing to obtain FACTS and EVIDENCE relevant to the issues before them in the trial.
One important reason why their constituents don’t give a damn about the consideration of FACTS or EVIDENCE in Trump’s trial is that they have horrible examples of “education” and “rationality” like Peter Kreeft,  a Christian philosopher and apologist who doesn’t give a damn about FACTS or EVIDENCE, at least not when he is discussing the question “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”.

bookmark_borderDefending the Swoon Theory – Part 21: More Evaluation of Objection #7

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 20 of this series of posts I showed that Kreeft’s three sub-arguments supporting key premises (B), (C), and (D) of his core argument constituting Objection #7 (against the Swoon Theory) all FAIL, and that the failure of just one of those three sub-arguments is sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 against the Swoon Theory FAILS.  Thus, we have three good reasons, each sufficient by itself, to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS, just like Kreeft’s Objections #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #8 all FAILED to refute the Swoon Theory.
But there is yet another good reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS, namely that Kreeft’s sub-arguments for the fourth key premise of his core argument also FAIL, like nearly every argument that Kreeft has ever produced in support of Christian beliefs.
Kreeft gives three sub-arguments in support of the following key premise of his core argument:

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

But, as I shall now show, NONE of those sub-arguments are strong and solid arguments, so Kreeft also FAILS to establish the key premise (E).  Kreeft thus FAILS to establish the truth of ANY of the four key premises in the argument that constitutes Objection #7, and thus Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.
Kreeft’s arguments are almost as crappy as the arguments presented by Trump’s defense team in the Senate Impeachment trial, and I suspect that the widespread failure of Christian believers to notice just how crappy Kreeft’s arguments are is closely related to the widespread failure of Christian believers to notice just how crappy the arguments presented by Trump’s defense team are.  I don’t view these as unrelated phenomena.  I believe that the credulity of Christian believers concerning the arguments of Christian apologists is closely related to the credulity of Christian believers concerning the arguments of Trump supporters and defenders.
 
THE ROMAN-SOLDIERS-DID-NOT-FALL-ASLEEP ARGUMENT
Here is Kreeft’s first sub-argument for the key premise (E):

13. IF the Roman soldiers had been ordered by Pilate (or by a superior officer) to guard the tomb of Jesus, THEN those Roman soldiers knew that they would be executed if they fell asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus and if Pilate (or one of their superior officers) found out about this.

THEREFORE:

12. IF the Roman soldiers had been ordered by Pilate (or by a superior officer) to guard the tomb of Jesus, THEN the Roman soldiers would NOT fall asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus.

F. The Roman soldiers had been ordered by Pilate (or by a superior officer) to guard the tomb of Jesus.

G. IF the Roman soldiers did NOT fall asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus, THEN Jesus’ disciples would NOT have been able to move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

THEREFORE:

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

Premise (13) is based on an historical assumption:

RG: Roman guards were posted outside of the tomb of Jesus to prevent the tomb from being opened and to prevent Jesus’ body from leaving the tomb or from being removed from the tomb.  

As I previously argued in Part 16 and Part 17  this assumption is probably FALSE.  Because (13) is based on an assumption that is probably FALSE, premise (13) is itself probably FALSE.  That means that this argument for premise (E) FAILS, because it is based on a premise that is probably FALSE.
Furthermore, even if RG were true, it is still uncertain whether (13) would also be true.  Kreeft, as usual, has provided no historical evidence whatsoever in support of the assumption that Roman soldiers were ALWAYS EXECUTED for dereliction of guard duty.  One prominent NT scholar (who is an expert on the passion narratives) notes that this assumption is not true:

On the level of background facts, it is not clear that sleeping on duty was always punished by death.  Tacitus (Histories 5.22) tells of careless sentries whose sleeping on watch almost allowed the enemy to catch their general; but they seem to have used the general’s scandalous behavior (he was away from duty, sleeping with a woman) to shield their own fault.  In other words, bargains could be struck… 

(Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah, Volume 2, p.1311, emphasis added)

If Roman soldiers were sometimes NOT executed as a result of falling asleep while on guard duty, then it is doubtful that the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb of Jesus “knew that they would be executed if they fell asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus”.  Thus, even if (RG) was true, it would still be doubtful or uncertain that (13) was true.  So, we have a second reason to doubt the truth of premise (13), in addition to the fact that (RG) is probably false.
The inference from (13) to (12) is plausible, but this inference is NOT as strong as it initially appears to be.  The assumption is that these Roman soldiers would be as fearful of being killed as you or I would be, but IF these Roman soldiers are assumed to be very tough, brave, and fearless, then the inference is NOT as strong as it initially appears to be.  IF these Roman soldiers are assumed to have been tough, brave and fearless, then they would NOT have been as cautious about putting their lives at risk as you or I might be, if we were the ones ordered to guard the tomb.  The inference from (13) to (12) is plausible, but it is somewhat uncertain, given the assumption that these Roman soldiers were tough, brave, and fearless.
Finally, premise (G) is dubious and uncertain.  We DON’T KNOW how many Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb.  There might have been only three or four soldiers guarding the tomb.  If so, then it would have been entirely possible for ten or eleven men (Jesus’ disciples and/or other followers of Jesus) to overpower those three or four soldiers, especially if the soldiers worked in shifts so that only one soldier was stationed near the entrance of the tomb, while the other two or three soldiers slept nearby. Obviously it is very unlikely that three or four disciples would be able to overpower ten or eleven Roman soldiers, but as far as we know, the numbers might well have been the reverse (i.e. three or four soldiers vs. ten or eleven disciples of Jesus).
So, premise (13) is probably false, premise (G) is dubious and uncertain, and the inference from (13) to (12) is plausible but somewhat uncertain.  Therefore, this sub-argument for (E) is clearly a WEAK argument, and it FAILS to establish the truth of premise (E).  If the other two arguments for (E) also FAIL, then Kreeft will have FAILED to show that (E) is true, and this by itself, would be sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.
 
THE NOISY-BOULDER-MOVEMENT ARGUMENT 
Here is Kreeft’s second sub-argument for the key premise (E):

15. The stone blocking the door of the tomb of Jesus was an enormous boulder.

THEREFORE:

14. IF the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb of Jesus fell asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus and the disciples of Jesus came and moved the stone from the door of the tomb of Jesus, THEN the noise from the crowd and the effort to move the stone would have wakened the Roman soldiers.

THEREFORE:

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

There is a logical gap in Kreeft’s reasoning here in the inference from (14) to (E), but he would probably fill in this gap by claiming that if the Roman soldiers had fallen asleep and then been wakened by the noise of the disciples effort to move the stone, then the soldiers would have killed or arrested many of those disciples right then, but none of Jesus’s disciples were killed at Jesus tomb, and none were arrested for attempting to break into the tomb, so we can rule out (E) in the case where we suppose that the soldiers fell asleep while guarding the tomb of Jesus, in the view of Kreeft.
But, as I pointed out above, we DON’T KNOW how many Roman soldiers were guarding Jesus’ tomb.  If ten or eleven disciples came to get Jesus out of the tomb, and only three or four soldiers were guarding the tomb, then it is NOT clear that the disciples would be unable to overpower the soldiers, particularly if some of the soldiers were sleeping when the disciples arrived on the scene, and only one or two of the soldiers was positioned at the entrance of the tomb.  Thus, the inference from (14) to (E) is questionable and uncertain.
Premise (15) is dubious.  Kreeft, as usual, provides no historical evidence whatsoever for the historical assumption that the stone blocking the entrance of the tomb was an “enormous boulder” that required several people (“the crowd”) in order to be moved.  Furthermore, the archaeological study of tombs in Jerusalem at that period in time shows that very few tombs had large “rolling” stones blocking their entrance.

The image of the tomb of Jesus that generally leaps into people’s minds is of a rock-cut tomb closed by a large rolling stone. Yet archaeologists tell us this was probably not the case. According to Amos Kloner, who has examined more than 900 tombs in the vicinity of Jerusalem, there are only four tombs from the late Second Temple period that have rolling stones.

(“Biblical Views: A Rolling Stone That Was Hard to Roll” By Urban C. von Wahlde, Biblical Archaeology Review 41:2, March/April 2015)

 Nearly all stone tombs in that period had smaller cork-shaped blocking stones placed at the entrance of the tomb:

Since disk-shaped blocking stones were so rare and since Jesus’ tomb was built for an ordinary person—because it was actually the borrowed, but unused, tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:60)—it seems highly unlikely that it would have been outfitted with a disk-shaped blocking stone.

Archaeology therefore suggests that the tomb of Jesus would have had a cork-shaped blocking stone. 

How Was Jesus’ Tomb Sealed? By Megan Sauter, April 03, 2019, Bible History Daily)

A cork-shaped blocking stone could still be of significant size, but they were not as large as the rolling stones used on the tombs of the most famous and powerful rulers who were buried in Jerusalem.  So, it is quite likely, based on archaeological evidence, that the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb of Jesus was NOT an “enormous boulder” that required several people (a “crowd”) in order to be moved, but was a smaller sized cork-shaped blocking stone that could be moved by just two or three people.  So, premise (15) is dubious.
Premise (14) does not follow from premise (15) by itself.  Another assumption is required in order to infer (14) from (15):

RG: Roman guards were posted outside of the tomb of Jesus to prevent the tomb from being opened and to prevent Jesus’ body from leaving the tomb or from being removed from the tomb.

But, as previously noted, this historical assumption is probably false.  Therefore, premise (14) is also probably false, even if premise (15) were true.
This second sub-argument for the key premise (E) FAILS, because it is based on premise (14) which is probably false, and because the inference from (14) to (E) is questionable and uncertain.  Thus, Kreeft’s second sub-argument supporting the key premise (E) FAILS, just like his first sub-argument for (E) FAILED.
We now need to evaluate the third sub-argument to determine whether all three sub-arguments FAIL to establish the key premise (E).
 
THE CONSPIRACY-THEORY-REFUTATION ARGUMENT
Here is Kreeft’s third sub-argument for the key premise (E):

17. There are a number of decisive objections to the Conspiracy Theory which cannot be shown to be weak or flawed objections.

THEREFORE:

H. It is NOT the case that the Conspiracy Theory is true.

16. IF the disciples of Jesus came and moved the stone from the door of the tomb of Jesus, THEN the Conspiracy Theory would be true.

THEREFORE:

E. Jesus’ disciples did NOT move the stone from the door of Jesus’ tomb.

I have in a previous series of posts argued that Kreeft’s objections to the Conspiracy Theory ALL FAIL, so premise (17) is FALSE.  Because (17) is given as a reason in support of premise (H), the argument for (H) is UNSOUND, leaving (H) highly dubious.
Furthermore, premise (16) is clearly FALSE.  Jesus’ disciples could have heard from the women who observed the burial of Jesus, that there were signs of life, and that Jesus appeared to be alive.  They could have then gone to the tomb of Jesus and found Jesus alive in the tomb, and then taken Jesus to a house in Jerusalem where he could hide out from the Romans and from the Jewish authorities.  If this is what happened, then the disciples might well have assumed that Jesus had died on the cross, and that God had brought Jesus back to life when Jesus was buried (or finished bringing Jesus back to life after his body was placed in the tomb).  In that case the Conspiracy Theory would be FALSE, because Jesus’ disciples would honestly and sincerely believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even though they had helped Jesus to get out of the stone tomb.
The antecedent of premise (16) (i.e. “the disciples of Jesus came and moved the stone from the door of the tomb of Jesus”) does NOT IMPLY the consequent of premise (16) (i.e. “the Conspiracy Theory would be true.”)  Therefore, premise (16) is clearly FALSE.
So, premise (H) is dubious, being based on a claim that is false, namely premise (17), and premise (16) is clearly FALSE.  So, Kreeft’s third sub-argument for the key premise (E) FAILS, just like his two previous sub-arguments for the key premise (E) FAIL.  Therefore, all three of his sub-arguments for (E) FAIL, so Kreeft has FAILED to establish the key premise (E), and this is, all by itself, sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.
 
CONCLUSION
Kreeft provides six sub-arguments in Objection #7.  Three sub-arguments are given to support the key premises (B), (C), and (D), and those three sub-arguments FAIL to establish either (B) or (C) or (D), giving us three good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.
The remaining three sub-arguments are given to support the key premise (E), and all three of those arguments FAIL to establish (E), giving us another good and sufficient reason to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS.
We now have at least FOUR good and sufficient reasons to conclude that Objection #7 FAILS to refute the Swoon Theory, so it is clear that Objection #7 is a complete and miserable FAILURE.  Objection #7 FAILS just like Objections #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #8.

bookmark_borderOFF TOPIC: 6 “FACTS” Presented by Trump’s Defense – Part 3

WHERE WE ARE
In Part 1 I argued that three of the “six key facts” presented by Trump’s defense team are IRRELEVANT, and that another of the “six key facts” is relevant but INSIGNIFICANT, because based on the statements of politicians who had a strong vested interest in NOT telling the truth on this issue.
In Part 2 I argued that one of the two remaining “key facts” is IRRELEVANT, so that at least four of the “six key facts” are IRRELEVANT, and at least one of the other “key facts” is INSIGNIFICANT.
Thus, I have shown that FIVE of the “six key facts” FAIL to provide any significant defense of Donald Trump against the articles of impeachment and the case made by the House managers for Impeachment and Removal of Trump from office.
In this third (and final) off-topic post, I will discuss the FOURTH of the “six key facts” presented by Trump’s defense team, which is the only one of the six points that I have not previously examined.
 
THE FOURTH “KEY FACT”
Here is the fourth “key fact” presented by Trump’s defense team:

The fourth key fact Purpura claimed was that “not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”

Articles by reporters and pundits who have critically analyzed the arguments presented by Trump’s defense team all appear to concede that this point is correct; it is TRUE.  Furthermore, this point, unlike four of the other “six key facts” is clearly RELEVANT.  Finally, this point, at least initially, seems to be SIGNIFICANT.  So, this is the ONLY ONE of the “six key facts” that passes the sniff test.  The five other points are simply five steaming piles of dog crap.
Because this fourth “key fact” is true, relevant, and seems to be significant, it deserves to be given serious consideration, unlike the other “key facts” presented by Trump’s defense team.
One point ought to be admitted up front:

IF there were a “witness” who “testified that the President himself said that” the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens, THEN that would be very damning evidence against Trump and in favor of the case for Impeachment and Removal of Trump from office.

Furthermore, the case made by the House managers before the Senate would have been stronger and more definitive if it had included such testimony by a witness.
However, the absence of such powerful evidence  DOES NOT MEAN that the case presented by the House managers was weak or inconclusive.  The case was still very STRONG and COMPELLING, despite lacking testimony of this powerful sort.
For example, we have the words of Trump himself, not from a “witness” or “testimony” but (a) from the notes of the phone call with the president of Ukraine (“I would like you to do us a favor though…”), and (b) from Trump’s televised response to a reporter, admitting that he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.  We also have the words of Mulvaney at a press conference (not as a witness testifying before Congress) in which he admits that there was a quid pro quo, and that critics of Trump should “Just get over it”.
We also have multiple witnesses who engaged with Ukrainian government officials as official representatives of the the US, who all agree that Trump was conditioning security assistance to Ukraine on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.  The House managers presented a powerful case, in spite of the fact that they did not have witnesses who testified that Trump clearly and directly stated that security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.
Furthermore, we have good reason to believe that IF the Senate had demanded that John Bolton appear as a witness in the trial, THEN Bolton would have “testified that the President himself said that” the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.
But the Republicans in the Senate did not want to have a FAIR TRIAL, and did not want to hear relevant testimony by Donald Trump’s national security advisor.  We don’t have the testimony of John Bolton as a witness BECAUSE Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in the GOP have fought against having John Bolton testify as a witness in the House impeachment proceedings, and in the Senate trial of Trump.
Although Mick Mulvaney refused to appear before the House to testify, and although the GOP refused to demand that ANY witnesses testify in Trump’s trial, we have good reason to believe that IF Mulvaney had appeared as a witness, and he testified honestly and truthfully, THEN he would have “testified that the President himself said that” the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.
Although Rudy Giuliani did not appear before the House to testify, and although the GOP refused to allow ANY witnesses to testify in Trump’s trial, we have good reason to believe that IF Giuliani had appeared as a witness, and he testified honestly and truthfully, THEN he would have “testified that the President himself said that” the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.
So, there are AT LEAST three people who worked closely with Donald Trump on decisions made about the provision of security assistance to Ukraine, who we have good reason to believe would, if they testified honestly and truthfully, have “testified that the President himself said that” the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.
The reason we don’t have any sworn testimony from John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and Rudy Giuliani, is that Trump resisted and opposed having ANYONE testify in the House Impeachment proceedings, and because Trump’s co-conspirators in the GOP have resisted and opposed having ANYONE testify in the Senate trial of Trump.
Nothing prevents the House from continuing its job of oversight on the Executive Branch of our government by issuing subpoenas to John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and Rudy Giuliani.  Also, it now appears that the White House counsel Pat Cipollone also heard the President himself say that the provision of security assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on the announcement of investigations into the Bidens.  So, we now have a fourth potential witness to question under oath before an oversight committee in the House.
As the House Managers have stated, the facts about what Trump specifically said about providing or withholding security assistance to Ukraine to his inner circle of advisors will come out, probably sooner rather than later.
Trump and his co-conspirators in the GOP may have prevented Trump from being the first president to be removed from office through impeachment, but they will FAIL to prevent the truth from coming out, and given the powerful case made by the House managers, the truth that comes out will probably be that Trump himself said to his inner circle of advisers that security assistance to Ukraine was conditional upon the announcement of bogus investigations against the Bidens.
 
CONCLUSION:
Out of the “six key facts” presented by Trump’s defense team, five of those “key facts” are WORTHLESS CRAP.
Only the fourth “key fact” is worthy of consideration.  It makes a true claim that is relevant, but it is NOT highly significant, because a STRONG CASE can be made even without the clear and definitive sort of evidence that was missing from the case made against Trump by the House Managers.
Furthermore, we have good reason to believe that there are members of Trump’s inner circle of advisers who would (or might well) provide the very sort of clear and decisive testimony against Trump that is missing from the case of the House Managers, except that Trump and his GOP co-conspirators have resisted and opposed having those advisers testify under oath before Congress.
The fox is guarding the hen house.