bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 3: The Argument for Premise (1A)

In Part 1 of this series, I showed that the main argument for the divinity of Jesus given by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics goes like this:

1A. Jesus was either God, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

2A. Jesus could not possibly be a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

THEREFORE:

3A. Jesus is God.

In this post I will analyze and clarify the argument given by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (1A).

FOUR DILEMMAS GIVEN TO SUPPORT PREMISE (1A)

The reasoning supporting premise (1A) is spelled out in a chart near the end of Chapter 7:

I. Jesus claimed divinity

…A. He meant it literally

……1. It is true___________________________________Lord

……2. It is false

………a. He knew it was false_______________________Liar

………b. He didn’t know it was false_________________Lunatic

…B. He meant it nonliterally, mystically______________Guru

II. Jesus never claimed divinity_____________________Myth

(HCA, p.171)

THE FIRST DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S CHART

At the highest level, Kreeft presents a dilemma between “Jesus claimed divinity” and “Jesus never claimed divinity”:

EITHER Jesus claimed divinity OR Jesus never claimed divinity.

The expression “claimed divinity”, however, is UNCLEAR, so this phrase needs to be revised:

EITHER Jesus claimed to be God OR Jesus never claimed to be God.

To make sure that this top-level dilemma is logically correct (i.e. constitutes a necessary truth, an analytic truth) and encompasses ALL logical possibilities, we should also revise it into the assertion of a disjunction of a specific claim and its negation (“P or not-P” is a tautology or analytic truth). The specific assertion that the highest-level dilemma is related to is this:

Jesus claimed to be God.

The top-level dilemma may be spelled out in plain English:

4. EITHER Jesus claimed to be God OR it is not the case that Jesus claimed to be God.

Statement (4) is an analytic truth that covers ALL logical possibilities. The second disjunct in this statement is this claim:

It is not the case that Jesus claimed to be God.

According to Kreeft’s dilemmas chart, this second disjunct implies the “Myth” view, the view that the New Testament portrays Jesus as claiming to be God but that this is a FALSE or FICTIONAL representation of Jesus; Jesus never claimed to be God:

5. IF it is not the case that Jesus claimed to be God, THEN the MYTH VIEW is correct (i.e. the New Testament portrayal of Jesus as claiming to be God is fictional).

We can represent the first dilemma and this alleged implication by means of a decision tree diagram:

THE SECOND DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S CHART

Assuming that Jesus DID claim to be God, the next dilemma in Kreeft’s table (above) concerns whether Jesus meant this literally:

EITHER he meant it literally OR he meant it non-literally, mystically.

To make this disjunction clearer, we should eliminate the pronouns “he” and “it” and specify what those pronouns mean:

EITHER Jesus meant his claim to be God literally OR Jesus meant his claim to be God non-literally, mystically.

Kreeft has FAILED to make a logically comprehensive dilemma here by combining two different criteria (“non-literally” vs. “mystically”). Because these concepts have different meanings, Kreeft introduces confusion and ambiguity here. We should drop the reference to “mystically” and keep the reference to “non-literally” (or, better: not literally), because Kreeft needs the first disjunct to assert that Jesus meant the claim to be God literally, in order for the third dilemma to work. So, here is the clarified and logically corrected version of Kreeft’s second dilemma:

6. EITHER Jesus meant his claim to be God literally OR Jesus did not mean his claim to be God literally.

Note that both disjuncts ASSUME that Jesus claimed to be God, so this dilemma does not encompass ALL logical possibilities, but that is OK, because this dilemma occurs after the first dilemma, where one has to decide whether Jesus claimed to be God or not. The second dilemma only applies after one has determined that Jesus DID claim to be God, so the second dilemma covers ALL logical possibilities that exist assuming that Jesus claimed to be God.

According to Kreeft’s table of dilemmas, if Jesus claimed to be God and Jesus did not mean this literally, then the GURU VIEW is correct (i.e. Jesus held the mystical view that he was divine only in the same way that all humans are divine, and he was NOT claiming to be divine in the literal sense of being the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent and omniscient and perfectly good ruler of the universe):

7. IF Jesus claimed to be God and Jesus did not mean his claim to be God literally, THEN the GURU VIEW is correct (i.e. Jesus was only claiming to be divine in the sense that all humans are divine, and he was not claiming to be the eternal creator of the universe nor the omnipotent and omniscient and perfectly good ruler of the universe).

Here is the decision-tree diagram of the second dilemma from Kreeft’s chart:

THE THIRD DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S CHART

Assuming that Jesus claimed to be God and that Jesus meant this claim literally, the next dilemma or choice is whether this claim is true or false:

EITHER it is true OR it is false.

For the sake of clarity, we need to eliminate the pronoun “it” and specify what this means:

EITHER Jesus’s claim to literally be God is true OR Jesus’s claim to literally be God is false.

This does not encompass ALL logical possibilities, because both disjuncts assume that Jesus claimed to be God and that he meant this claim literally. But that is OK, because this is the third dilemma, and the third dilemma only applies after we have already determined that Jesus claimed to be God (in first dilemma), and that Jesus meant this claim literally (in second dilemma).

However, Kreeft has FAILED yet again to encompass all of the logical possibilities that exist given the assumptions that Jesus claimed to be God and that Jesus meant this claim literally. Kreeft assumes here that any assertion that is not true must be false. But there is another possiblility: some assertions are neither true nor false, but are incoherent or nonsense. For example, the assertion below is nonsense:

The number sixteen sleeps furiously.

Although this sentence is grammatical, it makes no sense. A number is not the sort of thing that could sleep. And sleeping is not the sort of thing one can do furiously. So, this sentence is neither true nor false; it is simply nonsense. Some philosophers have argued that the following sentence is also nonsense:

God created the universe.

If those philosophers are correct that this sentence is nonsense, then this is another sentence that is neither true nor false. Furthermore, if those philosophers are correct, then a sentence that is directly relevant to Kreeft’s argument for the divinity of Jesus is also nonsense:

Jesus is God.

So, to avoid begging an important philosophical question, we need to reject Kreeft’s dilemma between Jesus’s claim being either true or false, and instead formulate the dilemma in terms of Jesus’s claim being either true or not true:

8. EITHER Jesus’s claim to literally be God is true OR Jesus’s claim to literally be God is not true.

According to Kreeft’s chart of these dilemmas, if Jesus claimed to be God and Jesus meant this claim literally and this claim was true, then the LORD VIEW would be correct (i.e. Jesus was God, and Jesus is God):

9. IF Jesus claimed to be God and Jesus meant his claim to be God literally and Jesus’s claim to be God was true, THEN the LORD VIEW is correct (i.e. Jesus is the eternal creator of the universe and the omniscient and omnipotent and perfectly good ruler of the universe).

Here is the clarified and corrected logic of Kreeft’s third dilemma represented in a decision-tree diagram:

THE FOURTH DILEMMA IN KREEFT’S CHART

Assuming that Jesus claimed to be God and that he meant this claim literally and that this claim is not true, there are only two possibilities, according to Kreeft’s chart:

EITHER he knew it was false OR he didn’t know it was false.

Recall, however, that the clarified and corrected second dilemma does not talk about Jesus making a false claim, but rather, it talks about Jesus making either a true claim or a claim that is not true. So, Kreeft’s third dilemma cannot jump to the idea that Jesus’ claim was false. Here is a logically correct version of Kreeft’s fourth dilemma:

EITHER he knew it was not true OR he didn’t know it was not true.

For the sake of clarity, we need to eliminate the pronouns “he” and “it” and replace them with what they mean in this context:

10. EITHER Jesus’s claim to literally be God was not true and Jesus knew that his claim to literally be God was not true OR Jesus’s claim to literally be God was not true and Jesus did not know that his claim to literally be God was not true.

According to Kreeft’s chart of the four dilemmas, each alternative of this fourth dilemma implies a different view:

11. IF Jesus’s claim to literally be God was not true and Jesus knew that his claim to literally be God was not true, THEN the LIAR VIEW is correct (i.e. Jesus was a liar).

12. IF Jesus’s claim to literally be God was not true and Jesus did not know that his claim to literally be God was not true, THEN the LUNATIC VIEW is correct (i.e. Jesus was insane; Jesus was seriously mentally ill).

The clarified and logically corrected version of Kreeft’s fourth dilemma can be represented in a decision-tree diagram:

According to Kreeft’s chart, his four dilemmas encompass ALL logical possibilities, and lead to only FIVE views:

  • The Myth View
  • The Guru View
  • The Lord View
  • The Liar View
  • The Lunatic View

If Kreeft’s four dilemmas FAIL to encompass ALL logical possibilities or lead to more than just the FIVE views that Kreeft specifies, then Kreeft’s four dilemmas FAIL to support premise (1A) of his main argument for the divinity of Jesus. In the next post of this series, I will evaluate Kreeft’s four dilemmas, based on the clarified and logically corrected version of them that I have presented in this current post, as represented by the decision-tree diagram that contains all four dilemmas (above).

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 2: The Five Alternatives

In Part 1 of this series, I showed that the main argument for the divinity of Jesus given by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics goes like this:

1A. Jesus was either God, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

2A. Jesus could not possibly be a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

THEREFORE:

3A. Jesus is God.

In this post, we will analyze and clarify the first premise of this argument.

PREMISE (1A): THE FIVE ALTERNATIVES

The first premise of Kreeft’s argument for the divinity of Jesus asserts that there are only five logical possibilities:

1A. Jesus was either God, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

The five alternative views are as follows:

  • Jesus was God.
  • Jesus was a liar.
  • Jesus was a lunatic.
  • Jesus was a guru.
  • Jesus was a myth.

None of these claims is clear as it stands. Each claim needs to be clarified and made more specific.

JESUS WAS GOD

In Part 1, I have already clarified the meaning of the claim “Jesus is God”, and the claim that “Jesus was God” implies that “Jesus is God” because one cannot be God for a day, like being King for a day, or president for a day. Being God, for example, implies being eternal, and one cannot be eternal for just one day or one week.

Furthermore, God’s omnipotence and omniscience are supposed to be eternal attributes, attributes that God has always had in the past, and that God will always have in the future. If some being were omnipotent for just one day or just one week, that being would NOT be God, and that being would NOT even be God for one day. So, if it is the case that “Jesus was God” in the past, then it must also be the case the “Jesus is God” today. Furthermore, the reverse is true as well. If Jesus is God today, then it must also have been the case that “Jesus was God” two thousand years ago, and two million years ago. Thus, “Jesus was God” means the same thing as “Jesus is God”.

JESUS WAS A LIAR

What does the claim “Jesus was a liar” mean? Kreeft provides no definition or clarification of the term “liar”. One important and obvious point to note is that telling one lie does NOT make a person a “liar”. In fact, most people tell lies frequently (most young children and teenagers tell lies, and most young adults/college students tell lies, and most adults in general tell lies), but it is unclear that we should conclude that most people are liars. The point of the use of the word “liar” is to categorize a small subset of people as being particularly dishonest. We tolerate a fair amount of lying as just par for the course. For this reason, the Merriam-Webster definition of “liar” is clearly wrong:

a person who tells lies

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liar

On this definition, everyone, or almost everyone, would be a “liar”. More is required than telling an occasional lie to make a person a “liar”. But how often does one have to lie in order to be properly categorized as being a “liar”? That is NOT at all clear.

Furthermore, it would seem that telling small white lies on a regular basis might not be enough to make one a “liar”. It might require telling some big or serious lies on a regular basis to make one a “liar”. But how many big or serious lies does one have to tell in order to be a “liar”? That is also NOT clear. So, the term “liar” does NOT mean “a person who tells lies”; something more than that is required, but it is UNCLEAR what exactly is required to make a person a “liar”.

Therefore, the term “liar” is a problematically VAGUE and UNCLEAR term, apart from a careful analysis and a clear definition of this term. But Kreeft and Tacelli provide no such analysis or definition of the word “liar”. Apart from a clear definition of the word “liar” it will be difficult, if not impossible, to make a rational evaluation of whether Jesus (or anyone else) was, in fact, a “liar”.

JESUS WAS A LUNATIC

What does the claim “Jesus was a lunatic” mean? Kreeft provides no definition or clarification of the term “lunatic”. He does, however, sometimes use the word “insane” in place of the word “lunatic”, so presumably, he views these words as synonyms (see Kreeft’s use of “insane” and “insanity” when introducing this part of the argument on pages 155 and 156 of HCA).

The dictionary definition of “lunatic” indicates an AMBIGUITY in this term:

People who are NOT insane sometimes believe things that are WILDLY FOOLISH for them to believe. For example, I think that it is WILDLY FOOLISH for Kreeft to believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead, but I do NOT think that Kreeft is insane. So, the word “lunatic” has a stronger and weaker sense. In the stronger sense of the word, to say that “Jesus was a lunatic” means that “Jesus was insane”. In the weaker sense, it means that “Jesus held some wildly foolish beliefs”. Because Kreeft uses the word “insane” as a synonym for the word “lunatic”, it seems likely that he intended the stronger sense of the word “lunatic”:

affected with a severely disordered state of mind: INSANE

However, the term “insanity” is no longer an accepted medical diagnosis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insanity

So, there is no generally accepted medical definition of the term “insane”. Thus, the meaning of this word is problematic and UNCLEAR.

JESUS WAS A GURU

What does the claim “Jesus was a guru” mean? Kreeft provides no definition of the term “guru”. However, he does describe the view that “Jesus was a guru”, and his description could be used to clarify the meaning of the term “guru” in this context.

When Kreeft initially introduces the idea of Jesus being a “guru”, he focuses on Jesus’s alleged claim to be God:

Perhaps even though the Gospels tell the truth that Jesus claimed divinity, and even though he could not be a liar or a lunatic, and therefore the claim is true, yet he didn’t mean it to be understood literally, but rather in a mystical way. According to this theory, we should interpret his claim to divinity…in an Eastern, Hindu or Buddhist, sense. Yes, Jesus was God, and knew it, and claimed it–but we are all God. We unenlightened nonmystics just don’t realize it. Jesus was an enlightened mystic, a guru, who realized his own inner divinity.

(HCA, p.165)

I take it that being a “guru” in this context is about Jesus claiming to be God, and Jesus intending this claim to be understood in a NONLITERAL way, such that his view was that every human being is God, just as much as Jesus is God. What this view asserts, then, is that Jesus was NOT claiming to be the creator of the universe, and Jesus was NOT claiming to be omnipotent and omniscient. Jesus was NOT claiming to possess the divine attributes that constitute the western/Christian concept of “God”. In claiming to be “God”, Jesus was merely indicating that he believed that he was “one with God” in the very same way that all human beings are “one with God”.

JESUS WAS A MYTH

What does the claim “Jesus was a myth” mean? Kreeft provides no definition of the term “myth”. However, Kreeft does clarify the view that he has in mind corresponding to the claim that “Jesus was a myth”. Like the view that “Jesus was a guru”, the view that “Jesus was a myth” is, in this context, focused on the idea of Jesus claiming to be God:

All three previous hypotheses –Lord, liar and lunatic–assumed that Jesus claimed divinity. Suppose he didn’t. Suppose this claim is a myth (in the sense of fiction). Suppose the liar is not Jesus but the New Testament texts.

(HCA, p.161)

The view that “Jesus was a myth” is NOT the view that there was no actual historical Jesus. Rather, this view assumes that there was in fact a historical Jesus, but that the historical Jesus NEVER claimed to be God. In other words, the Gospels, and other New Testament writings, assert that Jesus claimed to be God, and that Jesus believed himself to be God, but all such claims are FALSE and UNHISTORICAL. The idea that Jesus claimed to be God is FICTIONAL: it is a myth that Jesus claimed to be God, and it is a myth that Jesus believed himself to be God.

bookmark_border(Part 3) The Cosmological Argument; or, Blogging Through “Out of Time: A Philosophical Study of Timelessness (2022)”

“Out Of Time” is scheduled to be released May 14th, so while we wait I wanted to do one more background post that may be helpful as we try to think of fundamental cause and effect relationships without time. Kant is perhaps helpful here because he makes a distinction between a kind of temporal causality which pertains to the natural world, and a kind of causality of freedom that pertains to human beings. What did Kant mean? Causality is that which “makes possible,” so Kant draws a distinction (which is what philosopher’s do) between temporal causality that makes scientific causal judgments and experiences possible, and timeless causality of freedom that makes moral judgments and experiences possible.

For Kant, the temporal causality we experience in nature is going to be positive, comparative, or superlative in degrees of temporal irreversibility. So, positively, a ball hitting another ball is irreversible in the sense that the thrown ball hitting the other once causes the second ball to move forward – eg, shoot a pool ball onto another pool ball. The impact doesn’t cause the shot/thrown ball to be impacted and move backward to the same degree: there is positive irreversibility here. In a comparatively greater case of irreversibility we can see boiling water which results not in a physical change of place like with the balls, but a change of form from liquid to gas. By the third kind of temporal irreversibility, I mean that while taking away the heat results in the heated water reverting to liquid form, if I cook an egg the irreversibility is complete in the sense that I can’t uncook the egg afterward. These three different experiences of temporal irreversibility make scientific causal judgments and experiences possible. Kant had difficulty figuring out how to express this because from his starting point it’s unclear what time is. His solution is that time is not given in sense, but is the subjective form imposed on experience, since obviously, as Hume showed, experience simply gives this, then this, then this, not the three kinds of “temporal irreversibility.” Kant’s problem is that if time is the form of intuition unrelated to the individual-ness of any particular object, why would we experience irreversibility differently in the case of the bouncing balls and the cooking of the eg? Obviously, beings are contributing “something” to the temporal irreversibility. Aristotle is better than Kant here in the sense that Aristotle says time is everywhere, and in the soul, and without the counter there is no time. For instance, I may experience the stretching out of time of the boring book, but the next person need not experience the temporality of the book in this way. But really, if we look at time in this way we still confuse the issue of and underemphasized temporality as, in Heidegger’s language, the original unity of self-and world that makes being-in-the-world possible. Hence, Heidegger would say we should go even earlier than the technical Aristotle on time and see it more naturally, such as what we see in Aristophanes. Toohey describes the Greeks initially didn’t have a word for boredom (by which I am emphasizing the stretching out of time) that maps onto ours, and so expressed it outwardly. Aristophanes in the Archarnians has one character say of the stretching out of time of boredom that “I grown, I yawn, I stretch, I fart, I don’t know what to do. I write, I pull at my hair, I figure things out as I look to the country, longing for peace. (30-32).” He does not name that he is inwardly bored, but we would say describes the symptoms. Similarly, Euripides’ Medea describes men becoming fed up or bored, had enough of their families, and then acting unfairly (244-46), but again, boredom as an inner emotion is not experienced.

The kind of non-temporal causality Kant looks act is human freedom. By this he means the will unconsciously legislates a categorical rule that humans follow as a function of being human that I morally accompany all of my actions, which makes moral judgments and experiences possible, which is rational in the sense that we can contrast it with certain mentally challenged individuals and pets (etc) who, with the intellect of a 2 year old, are not responsible for their actions in the same way as “average” humans. Schelling extended this by saying Evil is our distinctive human freedom in that only humans can sink below beasts in terms of depravity (could your beagle ever be a Hitler?). So this is a non temporal causality of freedom, meaning not a “freedom-from (eg, freedom from an abusive husband),” but a “freedom for” that the Will unconsciously self-legislates a rule that makes moral judgments and experiences possibly.

So, Kant makes a fundamental distinction between causality and time because not all cause-effect relationships are temporal. Thought another way, Freud basically argued the causal nature of the unconscious was like natural physical causality: eg, going through a war caused an individual’s PTSD. Nietzsche anticipated this error and would say: “We can suppose triplets growing up in the same abusive household, with the result one grows up horribly emotionally traumatized, the second triplet found it uncomfortable growing up but was otherwise unaffected, and a third triplet who was actually “tested in fire by it (that which does not kill me makes me stronger!).”

So, the book “Out of Time” says it will argue against Time but still say there is causality as a fundamental structure of reality. This is going to have to do with the nature of personhood, they say. Once the book is released, I will blog about it, and so how they argue this is anyone’s guess, but it should be fun!

bookmark_border(Part 2) The Cosmological Argument; or, Blogging Through “Out of Time: A Philosophical Study of Timelessness (2022)”

So, I’ve been putting together some introductory thoughts in preparation for blogging through the new book on the philosophy of physics and time “Out of Time (2022).” Helpfully, one of the authors did a short article teasing the book here: https://theconversation.com/time-might-not-exist-according-to-physicists-and-philosophers-but-thats-okay-181268

Here are some highlights from the article to whet your appetite:

  • In the 1980s and 1990s, many physicists became dissatisfied with string theory and came up with a range of new mathematical approaches to quantum gravity.
  • One of the most prominent of these is loop quantum gravity, which proposes that the fabric of space and time is made of a network of extremely small discrete chunks, or “loops”.
  • One of the remarkable aspects of loop quantum gravity is that it appears to eliminate time entirely.
  • Loop quantum gravity is not alone in abolishing time: a number of other approaches also seem to remove time as a fundamental aspect of reality.
  • We say that tables, for example, “emerge” from an underlying physics of particles whizzing around the universe.
  • But while we have a pretty good sense of how a table might be made out of fundamental particles, we have no idea how time might be “made out of” something more fundamental.
  • So unless we can come up with a good account of how time emerges, it is not clear we can simply assume time exists.
  • Time might not exist at any level.
  • While physics might eliminate time, it seems to leave causation intact: the sense in which one thing can bring about another.
  • Perhaps what physics is telling us, then, is that causation and not time is the basic feature of our universe.

Are you excited? Of course you are. “I see you shiver in anticipation (Frank Furter, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show).” So, next time I will begin blogging about the book itself, and perhaps this will provide us some new lenses through which to assess the cosmological argument.

bookmark_border(Part 1) The Cosmological Argument; or, Blogging Through “Out of Time: A Philosophical Study of Timelessness (2022)” by

Samuel Baron (Author), Kristie Miller (Author), Jonathan Tallant (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

Out of Time: A Philosophical Study of Timelessness by [Samuel Baron, Kristie Miller, Jonathan Tallant]

I’m going to be blogging through this new book “Out Of Time” about whether time exists from the point of view of philosophy and physics, and what that can teach us about the cosmological argument.

BACKGROUND

One current popular argument by theists is the cosmological argument, and its reasoning is fairly straightforward. To explain it to a child, you might give the prompt: I am your parent, and my parents had parents, and their parents had parents, … so where does this lead us? Obviously, we keep going back in the chain of causes and effects to a first cause that did not itself, so to speak, have parents. It simply was. Now, this might be called Being, or God, or the eternal stomach vomiting up the universe into existence, but something along those lines is “obviously” the case. Now this may be obvious, but is it true? Derrida pointed out the history of philosophy has been the overturning of foundations once thought to be self-evident.

One thing that was interesting in the history of philosophy and physics in the last century is that fundamental concepts such as Time and Substance With Properties started becoming more problematic when applied to the most fundamental levels of reality: the extremely small.

In traditional Philosophy, a fundamental distinction in Being is made between “what” something is, its essentia, and “how” or the manner in which something appears to us, its existentia. For example, a tv may be brown and hard in terms of “what” it is, and badly positioned or boring (in the sense of Langeweile: the stretching out of time) in terms of “how” or the manner in which it appears to us. Initially and to begin with, time doesn’t seem to have to do with the “what” of things, since as Heidegger says, a lecture, for instance, has the same “what” or content regardless of whether it was given three days ago in our memory of it, is being given right now in our making-present of it, or will be given later next week as we anticipate it. So, initially a being’s intra-temporality or being-in-time seems to do with “how” a being appears to us.

We certainly experience “something” with time, such as a subtle drawing/stretching out and flow, and in fact REALLY experience this in certain cases like a child’s fidgety Time-Out punishment facing the corner, or Cabin Fever in a rainy cottage. The German word for Boredom conveys this: Langeweile, the stretching out of time. Likewise, we can severely alter the nature of our experience of time, such as through psychedelic drugs. This leaves unclear what we are experiencing when we encounter Time. What do all these have in common? As a starting point, let’s consider a general overview of some of the modern insights into time from contemporary Physics and physicist Carlo Rovelli, and then see how this approach may help as a framework/context to illumine the historical approach to the phenomenology of time (how time appears or shows itself) in Philosophers like Aristotle.

Perhaps one of the key discoveries of modern physics is that there is no “One Time Thing” that uniformly flows. For instance, we can measure that time speeds up the higher you go on earth, and slows down the lower you are. It reflects gravity. This had to be taken into account when they were developing GPS satellite technology. Analogously, for instance, the flow of time passes at a significantly slower rate close to the gravity pull near a black hole, as opposed to far away from it. “Time” actually seems to relate gravity, not a being in itself or structure of reality. Physicist Carlo Rovelli, in “The Order Of Time (2018)” further points out that all of the important equations describing reality in Physics before the 1960’s described how things change in time (velocity/acceleration, etc), but more recently some equations of quantum gravity (such as the Wheeler–DeWitt equation) can be written without any reference to time at all.

Rovelli explains that when traditional physics begins by describing the motion of a swinging pendulum while comparing it to a clock, it is a misunderstanding to think the pendulum is really held up to “objective time,” but rather the movement of the pendulum is held up to the movement of the hands on a clock. Similarly, saying I woke up at 8:00 am really means I woke up when the sun was at such and such a position. We seem to hold onto the belief of time as an objective entity because we fail to clarify what we mean when we invoke time as an explanation. And, at the level of the very small (the quantum level), our everyday descriptive category of time doesn’t work well any more to describe reality, because while at the macro level everything seems to move according to one time (though, as I said, it really doesn’t), at the micro level everything doesn’t.

Rovelli says time isn’t an objective thing, or part of the structure of reality, but rather a useful model for organizing our daily experiences, analogous to the spatial categories of high and low. And, just as the categories of high and low become meaningless in outer space, so too is time meaningless at the micro level. Modern physics is beginning to really see the implications of Einstein’s insight that the past and future are illusions, which makes good sense in light of Husserl’s point that we never can leave the Living Present: The past is just a past present, and the future a future present, so they may only have “being” in memory and anticipation. Physicist Rovelli argues that the hypothesis that time is a mind-independent thing, or even part of the structure of reality, will one day be abandoned as so many other concepts and hypotheses have as our philosophical and scientific knowledge has grown and progressed.

Given this basic framework of the phenomenology Time as a way beings show themselves rather than Time as a being-in-itself, or a structure of reality as many, including Einstein, thought, we will now use this as a framework to phenomenalize Heidegger’s reading of the history of the phenomenology of time with Aristotle.

In his lecture course The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, Heidegger outlines Aristotle’s philosophy of time that time is somehow with things, although not the same as them: time is everywhere (pantachou), not in one definite place, and it is not in the moving thing itself but beside it, in some way close by it. Aristotle said Motion and Time differ in how they belong to the moving thing, to that which is in Time, things we call intra-temporal. However, and importantly, Aristotle said Time is also in the soul. Time is inherently countable, and counting takes place in the soul. Heidegger explains the odd sounding point that for Aristotle without the counter to count time there is no time. This means, for instance, without the person to experience/count the stretching out of time in Langeweile/boredom, there is no boredom/stretching out of time, and in enjoyment/absorption when time vanishes a [lack of] perceiving is required. Analogously, from one point of view, I experience time as a “now” or “present” flowing forward (Monday, Then Tuesday, etc.), but paradoxically from another point of view I experience it flowing in the opposite direction, as backward flowing out of the future toward me and passing away behind me (eg Christmas is coming; has arrived; has gone).

As modern thinkers, part of the difficulty in understanding Aristotle’s explanation of time is that we have been thrown into a Philosophical framework that was foreign to Aristotle with an artificial “Self-Other” distinction. Specifically, there is Descartes’ fundamental distinction between Thinking Substance (res cogitans) and Extended Substance (res extensa), combined with Heidegger’s teacher Husserl and Husserl’s Cartesian fundamental distinction between Perceiving (intentio) and Perceived (intentum). It was precisely on this issues of Descartes/Husserl’s distinctions here that Heidegger objected that Descartes/Husserl don’t provide us with an adequate framework for understanding what Heidegger called the topic of Attunement, which is what time is, and so Heidegger, to use Derrida’s translation, deconstructed the Self/Other distinction for the sake of what Heidegger called a more fundamental being-in the-world framework/distinction, with which as we shall see, Heidegger meant to bring out the lost ancient Greek context that Aristotle operated in.

At the foundation of this Heideggerian/Greek approach is thinking more originally than the consciousness/lack of consciousness distinction (because, for instance, we can be asleep but still very aware and absorbed in a dream), with Heidegger’s distinction between Dasein (being-there = being caught-up-in-awareness) and Weg-Sein/ Nicht-Da-Sein (losing absorption and being away, eg., when one’s mind wanders). This Heideggerian distinction is time-infused, because the relative experience of time changes depending on how caught up or bored we are in a particular awareness. Heidegger tries to dissolve the rigid modern dichotomy of Self/Other with his concept of Attunement, the original Unity whereby the various poles of an awareness vibrate in tune with one another (so to speak).

The ancient Greek poet Homer illustrates and emphasizes this attunement context (which Aristotle assumed) when Homer says “the gods don’t appear to everyone enargeis,” in reference to Odysseus experiencing a woman as though she was an avatar for the presencing of Divine Beauty itself, even though the other person there beside Odysseus didn’t experience the woman in that way. Experiencing some one or thing “as sexy” is similar, and so a homosexual man isn’t aroused by a gorgeous female movie star, or someone finding a bridge or tower arousing if they have a particular kind of Objectophilia. I certainly experience/feel sexiness to be a quality of the movie star, even though it really isn’t, since there is no reason to suppose the next person will have a similar experience. Experiencing something “as beautiful” is similar, like one person experiencing a mansion as “Now that’s a House,” though the next person may not experience the presencing of the category “House” in the same way. They may experience the mansion “as” gawdy. Of course, this all is pure will to power as imposing form.

This helps us to understand Aristotle/Heidegger’s point that time is everywhere, but also in the soul, and without the counter there is no counted. We ”feel” real contact with time as Other, such as (i) in the felt stretching of time in boredom or (ii) the exciting anticipatory flow of time as Christmas approaches, or (iii) the monotonous flow as the work week inches/moves forward. The usual modern everyday interpretation of time by the common person mis-takes this “felt-contact with something” to be contact with a mind independent objective reality, and so our everyday modern understanding naturally thingifies/reifies time so we see time as a “thing,” like a chair or mountain, or a general and absolute basic feature of reality, because moderns following Descartes and Husserl simply assume as fundamental the twofold Self/Other distinction and so don’t have the framework/concepts/language to interpret the phenomenon of time in all its richness or even accurately.

So, what makes the false usual modern interpretation of time as an objective thing of nature possible to conceive? Time is experienced in many ways, and one common way is to interpret it spatially. So, we (1) experience the flow of time as a living present that marches on into the future (Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday, etc), which is a spatial schematization often mis-taken to be an Objective-Time-Thing of nature. But, time experienced as flowing in this way is not simply an objective feature of reality as most everyday moderns assume, but represents a way humans organize/schematize their experience, which is why (2) we can just as easily experience time from a contrary point of view flowing in the opposite direction from out of the future, to arriving in the present, to passing away into the past by (eg., Christmas is coming, has arrived, has gone). In these two contrary cases, which would be incompossible if time was a single entity that flowed uniformly, the two experienced flows of time are actually ways in which the mind organizes/schematizes spatially, but in different ways:

(1) For the first case above, we are implicitly assuming an organizing principle the likes of which I would find on a soccer field kicking a ball away from myself = consciously or unconsciously fixing the origination point of my kicking of the ball in memory, and mentally stretching from there with the ball as it rolls away from me, while

(2) in the second case above we are framing the flow like being a goaltender, with a ball being kicked at me from a distance by a friend, the ball arriving at me, and passing away through my legs and into the net.

Time schematized spatially basically means consciously or unconsciously fixing a point and stretching from that point, spatially schematized temporality being the speed of that stretch. Number 1 above is what is generally reified/thingified into being “real” or “objective” time by modern people, while in truth it is just a practical way to “calendar-ize” our life.

To recapitulate, it is extremely problematic to try to argue time is an objective mind-independent reality when it does not flow uniformly but reflects changes in gravity, can be experienced as flowing forward or backward depending on your point of view, and seems to formally include human experiences like boredom and time flying when you are having fun. Many are shocked when they go under general anesthetics and wake up an hour later in what feels like an instant. The vanishing of time in certain cases of dreamless sleep are common experiences, and the mind seamlessly creates the experience of time in dreaming.

But do we not also experience objective time in science, such as with rule governed cause and effect in going from cause to effect either from change from one place to another or from one state to another? This would lead into the question of Kant’s encounter with Hume that Kant said awoke him from his dogmatic slumbers and was the catalyst for his critical period.

NEXT TIME, CHAPTER 1 of “Out Of Time”

bookmark_borderBlogging Through Augustine/Martin’s Anthology “The Myth Of An Afterlife” Part 1

Blog Post 1 on The Myth of an Afterlife (ed Martin and Augustine)

This series of blog posts will look at the question of whether or not there is a afterlife by blogging through the Augustine/Martin anthology “The Myth of an Afterlife”

Steve Stewart-Williams (Foreword)

Stewart-Williams points to the difference between evidence consistent with an afterlife (eg., predicting one’s own death), and evidence of an afterlife.  Such evidences seem to pile upon one another across the world to apparently give credence to the afterlife hypothesis.  Stewart-Williams suggests supernatural interpretations are completely unnecessary given reasonable naturalistic ones, and we wouldn’t even have recourse to supernaturalistic explanation except that we have such traditions from our culture. 

I understand Stewart-Williams  here in the sense that we all know, for instance, it is possible to invoke an invisible, magical leprechaun to explain the mysteries in quantum gravity, but reasonable people prefer naturalistic explanations.  Even Religious Studies scholars, when they have their “historian” hats on, understand that divine explanation are bracketed in principle in historical inquiry, being articles of faith, not scholarship.  For example, liberal Christian scholar Dr. James McGrath explains the possible origin of Jesus resurrection belief in this way:

One can only speculate about what the first post-Easter experience of “seeing Jesus” may have been like. It is alluded to, but ultimately left undescribed, in 1 Corinthians 15:5, where Paul writes simply that he “appeared to Peter.” The challenge to the historian is to reconstruct a plausible scenario that could have given rise to the evidence available in later sources. Perhaps, as we have suggested above, Peter returned to Galilee and to fishing. He wrestled with the failure of his expectations, with his own failure in denying Jesus, and perhaps with questions about whether things might have turned out differently had no one drawn a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant that fateful night (Mk. 14:47). On one particular day he goes fishing, taking some of Jesus’ other closest followers with him. They catch nothing, and much of the time is spent in silence. Then, they see a figure on the shore. The figure asks if they have caught anything, and they say no. He tells them to try again, and suggests a spot. They lower their net – and catch a huge number of fish. Peter makes a connection. Isn’t this the spot where he first met Jesus, who did something similar on that occasion? He looks up. Perhaps the figure on the shore has already vanished. Perhaps he is still standing there, and they have breakfast without exchanging many words, as suggested in John 21. In either case, at some point after the figure has departed, Peter suddenly has a flash of insight: it was Jesus. He tells the others, but at least initially, they are skeptical, and for a time they remain unpersuaded. Peter spends much of the days that follow in prayer, seeking information and advice from rabbis and experts in the Law. What do the Scriptures in fact say about what the Messiah would be like? Could the Messiah suffer? Could the Messiah return from the dead? Could the Messiah enter the messianic age of the resurrection ahead of everyone else? Were there passages that left open such possibilities, texts that had been neglected but which might allow for such an unthinkable, paradoxical, surprising Messiah? After much reflection, exploration, and soul-searching, Peter contacts the rest of the Twelve, and they gather to hear what Peter has to say. They listen, and when he is done explaining to them what he has come to believe, he leads them in the prayer Jesus had taught them.  “Father…” they begin. When they reach the words “Your will be done,” they mean it as they had never truly meant it before. “Not our will, but yours.” A sense of peace washes over them. A sense of certainty that Peter is right, that Jesus has in fact been raised. And in their dreams, and in glimpses in crowds, in mysterious encounters with unknown individuals, and even in mystical visions, they too experience this phenomenon of “Jesus appearing.” Could this be the way events unfolded, and Christian faith in the resurrection of Jesus arose? What we have written in this section is admittedly speculative. There seems to be little hope of gaining access by means of the extant written sources to the actual experiences that early Christians had, the ones that convinced them Jesus was alive. Even Paul only alludes to his own direction-changing experience, and never describes it. Perhaps this is appropriate: religious experiences are regularly characterized by those who have them as ineffable, as “beyond words.” The Gospel of Mark suggested that Jesus would be seen, but doesn’t describe the experience, at least not in our earliest manuscripts. Our two earliest sources thus leave little for us to work with at this point.

– McGrath, James F. . The Burial of Jesus: What Does History Have to Do with Faith? . Patheos Press. Kindle Edition.

And so, we have a perfectly reasonable naturalistic explanation for the birth of the easter story.  It may be something supernatural happened, but more reasonably we might simply suppose Peter was just distraught and confused.

Stewart-Williams suggests belief in the afterlife can arise from a host of causes such as

Some claim that the belief in an afterlife is wishful thinking; others that it’s a way of promoting socially desirable behavior; and others still that it represents ancient people’s best effort to explain strange phenomena such as dreams. More recently, it has been suggested that religious beliefs, including afterlife beliefs, are the handiwork of evolution by natural selection, or byproducts of various evolved psychological capacities… [and] they might fit together within the overarching framework of a memetic approach.

– Martin, Michael; Augustine, Keith. The Myth of an Afterlife . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Stewart-Williams suggests the wishful thinking explanation is best understood in the light of an addiction analogy, not so much that it comforts us, but it’s painful to try to give up.  And, fear of hell, though widely believed is hardly wishful thinking. 

Another explanation is the social glue theory whereby good behavior is rewarded by heaven, and bad behavior with hell.  A variant of this is the social control theory, which I have written an essay about here: https://infidels.org/library/modern/john_macdonald/justified-lie.html .  Stewart-Williams says there is a grain of truth here, but religious beliefs have also torn societies apart, so the whole story isn’t here.

A further explanation for religious belief is honest attempts at explaining things like why you dream, hallucinate, or for the ancient Greeks why the sun goes across the sky.  However, Stewart-Williams reminds us that “it doesn’t explain why, if religious beliefs are primarily explanations for puzzling but commonplace experiences, so many religious beliefs are so completely disconnected from the evidence of human experience. Again, the approach may be a piece of the puzzle, but we must avoid mistaking it for the whole puzzle.”

Some point to evolution and natural selection to explain religious beliefs, but religious beliefs regarding the afterlife vary so drastically between cultures that the culture seems to be the deciding factor, not biology.

Another possibility for origin of belief in the afterlife relates to how we construe the world:

For instance, we construe physical objects, but not mental states, as possessing spatial dimensions. This makes it easy for us to imagine that minds are something distinct from bodies. It doesn’t force this conclusion, and it certainly doesn’t force the further conclusion that the mind could exist independently of the body or survive bodily death. But it does mean that these ideas come naturally to us. They’re easy for us to accept because they fit the natural contours of our minds. Thus, a curious byproduct of theory of mind is that we are prone to believe, falsely, that the mind (or soul) is something distinct from the activity of the brain, and that it could ascend to Heaven, or be reborn into another body, or merge back into some kind of collective consciousness. I’m

– Martin, Michael; Augustine, Keith. The Myth of an Afterlife . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

After going through the various traditional explanations, Stewart-Williams explains a theory that ties the others together:

With each of the earlier approaches, thinkers have identified a psychological or cultural “selection pressure” acting on religious memes. These are: (1) selection for beliefs that comfort us or comfort the people we care about; (2) selection for beliefs that foster social cohesion; (3) selection for beliefs that help us manipulate other people’s behavior; and (4) selection for beliefs that explain (or give the appearance of explaining) the world around us. No doubt there are others as well. As with biological evolution, these selection pressures can come into conflict with one another and pull in different directions. So, for instance, we may want to believe something because it is comforting (selection pressure #1), but be unable to do so because it would clash too violently with the evidence of our own eyes (selection pressure #4). This suggests that one kind of memetically successful religious belief would be a belief that promises to provide comfort and consolation, but which is also not too readily falsified in everyday life. The belief in life after death fits this description perfectly.

– Martin, Michael; Augustine, Keith. The Myth of an Afterlife . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

In our history, high intelligence was selected because of its usefulness, but had the side effect that we became aware of our own death, and so religious belief arose to allay that.  Afterlife beliefs may be tens of thousands of years old.

Societal cohesion tends to break down at numbers above 150 people, so societal institutions needed to be in place to fix that:

However, with the advent of agriculture, the selection pressure for memes useful for this purpose might have dramatically increased in strength. Afterlife beliefs (and religious beliefs in general) may have become progressively better adapted for fostering social cohesion in large-scale human societies.

– Martin, Michael; Augustine, Keith. The Myth of an Afterlife . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Over history, we see an evolution of the concept of the afterlife from the tragedy of the Greeks to the bliss of the modern theist as attempts to attract and control became more and more sophisticated.

But this need not just be a decision of people, but a way the memes themselves evolved, and so:

There is no need to suppose that anyone sat down and thought up this tactic for retaining believers. Instead, it may just be that the afterlife beliefs that have survived in our culture are those that happened to get attached to such notions as that, without these beliefs, life would be bleak and unbearable.

– Martin, Michael; Augustine, Keith. The Myth of an Afterlife . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 1: The Basic Argument

Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus in Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity Press, 1994, hereafter: HCA). Because their case for the existence of God (in Chapter 3 of HCA) and their case for the resurrection of Jesus (in Chapter 8 of HCA) both FAIL miserably, it is reasonable to anticipate that their case for Jesus’s divinity will also FAIL.

Furthermore, in the process of evaluating one of their objections to the Myth Theory, I examined their “scriptural data” supporting the divinity of Jesus (in Chapter 7 of HCA) and found serious problems with the conclusions they derived from that data: Defending the Myth Theory – INDEX (see Parts 4 through 7). So, I already have good reason to believe that a key part of their case for Jesus’s divinity FAILS.

Kreeft provides a very brief summary of this case early in Chapter 7:

Jesus claimed to be God, and Jesus is believable, therefore Jesus is God.

(HCA, p.156)

From this summary argument, we see that the conclusion of the main argument in Chapter 7 is this:

Jesus is God.

We also see that a key premise of the argument is this:

Jesus claimed to be God.

A couple of pages later, Kreeft goes on to spell out a more complex version of this argument:

1. Jesus was either Lord, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

2. He could not possibly be a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

3. Therefore “Jesus is Lord”…

(HCA, p.158).

Based on Kreeft’s initial summary argument, we know that the conclusion he is trying to establish is NOT the vague claim that “Jesus is Lord” but the strong and clear claim that Jesus is God.

So, in order for Kreeft’s argument to work to establish his intended conclusion, the wording of the conclusion of the more complex argument must be revised, and that means the wording of the first premise must also be revised so that it supports the revised conclusion:

1A. Jesus was either God, liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

2A. Jesus could not possibly be a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

THEREFORE:

3A. Jesus is God.

I take it that this is the main argument in Chapter 7, and that if this argument is a bad argument, then Kreeft and Tacelli will have FAILED to establish the divinity of Jesus.

Notice that the logic of this argument is very similar to the logic of the argument presented by Kreeft and Tacelli for the resurrection of Jesus in Chapter 8. They attempted to prove that the apostles were telling the truth about the resurrection of Jesus by eliminating the alternative possibilities that the apostles were liars (the Conspiracy Theory), or that the apostles were lunatics (the Hallucination Theory), or that their story about Jesus rising from the dead was not intended to be taken literally (the Myth Theory), or that Jesus only appeared to die on the cross, so his being alive after the crucifixion was not a miracle (the Swoon Theory).

Before attempting any further clarification or evaluation of the premises of Kreeft’s argument in Chapter 7, we should clarify the conclusion a bit more:

3A. Jesus is God.

What does it mean to say that “X is God”? Primarily, this means that “X has the divine attributes”, the attributes that make God who God is. Kreeft and Tacelli spell out some key divine attributes in Chapter 4 of HCA:

…God is spiritual… God is not a material being.

(HCA, p.92)

God Is Eternal

(HCA, p.93)

God is the creator and sustainer of all things.

(HCA, p.95)

God Is Omniscient and Omnipotent

(HCA, p.96)

God Is Good…God cannot be evil in any way…

(HCA, p.96)

Thus, the claim that

3A. Jesus is God.

has a number of implications, such as the following:

  • Jesus is spiritual. Jesus is not a material being.
  • Jesus is eternal.
  • Jesus is the creator and sustainer of all things.
  • Jesus is omniscient (all-knowing).
  • Jesus is omnipotent (all-powerful).
  • Jesus is good. Jesus cannot be evil in any way.

If we find out that Jesus has all of these divine attributes, then that would show that Jesus is God. Similarly, if we find out that Jesus lacks some of these divine attributes, that would show that Jesus is NOT God.

bookmark_borderDefending the Myth Theory: COMPLETED

After my series of posts on the Hallucination Theory, where I showed that every one of Peter Kreeft’s objections against that theory FAILS, I started another series where I examined each of Kreeft’s objections against the Myth Theory. I also showed that every one of Kreeft’s objections against the Myth Theory FAILS:

Because The Secular Outpost had shut down, I published that entire series of fifteen posts on my own blog:

Thinking Critically about: God, Jesus, and the Bible

I have also published an article that has links to all of the posts where I defended the Myth Theory:

Defending the Myth Theory – INDEX

bookmark_borderThe Complete FAILURE of Peter Kreeft’s Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

In Chapter 8 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics (1994, InterVarsity Press, hereafter: HCA), philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli attempt to prove that Jesus really physically rose from the dead.

The idea of trying to prove the resurrection of Jesus in just twenty-two pages (without a single footnote or endnote) is ridiculous, but most Christian apologists believe they can prove just about any extraordinary claim in just a few paragraphs or in a few pages, so the pathetic attempt by Kreeft and Tacelli to prove the resurrection of Jesus in one short chapter is actually above average in terms of intellectual effort typically made by Christian apologists.

Kreeft and Tacelli identify 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”

According to Kreeft and Tacelli, they can PROVE that Jesus rose from the dead by refuting the four skeptical theories above:

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

(HCA, p.182)

Kreeft and Tacelli claim to do just that in their one brief chapter on the resurrection:

Swoon, conspiracy, hallucination, and myth have been shown to be the only alternatives to a real resurrection, and each has been refuted.

(HCA, p.195)

These key claims form the overall argument of Chapter 8:

1. IF Kreeft and Tacelli have refuted the Hallucination Theory, and refuted the Myth Theory, and refuted the Conspiracy Theory, and refuted the Swoon Theory, THEN Kreeft and Tacelli have proven that Jesus really rose from the dead.

2. Kreeft and Tacelli have refuted the Hallucination Theory, and refuted the Myth Theory, and refuted the Conspiracy Theory, and refuted the Swoon Theory.

THEREFORE:

3. Kreeft and Tacelli have proven that Jesus really rose from the dead.

The logic of this argument is fine. However, there are two serious problems with this argument. First, premise (1) is FALSE. Second, premise (2) is FALSE. So, the overall argument of Chapter 8 is an UNSOUND argument. Or, as we in the philosophy and critical thinking business like to say, this argument is a piece of CRAP.

PREMISE (2) OF THE OVERALL ARGUMENT IN CHAPTER 8 IS FALSE

Here, again, is premise (2) of the overall argument in Chapter 8:

2. Kreeft and Tacelli have refuted the Hallucination Theory, and refuted the Myth Theory, and refuted the Conspiracy Theory, and refuted the Swoon Theory.

Kreeft and Tacelli raise fourteen objections against the Hallucination Theory, but each of these objections FAILS, so they completely FAIL to refute the Hallucination Theory, as I have argued in a series of posts on this subject:

Defending the Hallucination Theory – Index

Kreeft and Tacelli raise six objections against the Myth Theory, but each of these objections FAILS, so they completely FAIL to refute the Myth Theory, as I have argued in a series of posts on this subject:

Defending the Myth Theory – INDEX

Kreeft and Tacelli raise seven objections against the Conspiracy Theory, but each of these objections FAILS, so they completely FAIL to refute the Conspiracy Theory, as I have argued in a series of posts on this subject:

Defending the Conspiracy Theory – INDEX

Kreeft and Tacelli raise nine objections against the Swoon Theory, but each of these objections FAILS, so they completely FAIL to refute the Swoon Theory, as I have argued in a series of posts on this subject:

Defending the Swoon Theory – INDEX

Since every single objection raised by Kreeft and Tacelli against every one of the four skeptical theories FAILS, it is clearly and obviously the case that they have FAILED to refute ANY of the four skeptical theories. Thus, premise (2) of the overall argument in Chapter 8 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics is FALSE. Therefore, the overall argument in Chapter 8 is UNSOUND and should be rejected.

PREMISE (1) OF THE OVERALL ARGUMENT IN CHAPTER 8 IS FALSE

Here, again, is premise (1) of the overall argument in Chapter 8:

1. IF Kreeft and Tacelli have refuted the Hallucination Theory, and refuted the Myth Theory, and refuted the Conspiracy Theory, and refuted the Swoon Theory, THEN Kreeft and Tacelli have proven that Jesus really rose from the dead.

I have argued that there are MANY MORE skeptical theories in addition to the four theories that Kreeft and Tacelli attempt (but completely FAIL) to refute. Because there are MANY MORE skeptical theories in addition to the four that Kreeft and Tacelli discuss, it is clear that premise (1) is FALSE.

In the following two posts, I show that there are MANY MORE skeptical theories in addition to the four discussed by Kreeft and Tacelli:

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

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

Because Premise (1) of the overall argument in Chapter 8 of Handbook of Christian Apologetics is clearly FALSE, the overall argument in Chapter 8 is UNSOUND and should be rejected. And because it is also clearly the case that premise (2) of that argument is FALSE, there can be no doubt that the overall argument in Chapter 8 is UNSOUND, and should be rejected.

The case for the resurrection of Jesus by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in Chapter 8 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics is a COMPLETE FAILURE.

bookmark_borderThe Problem of Easter

If we go back to the earliest statement of Jesus’ resurrection, in the letters of Paul, we find something very problematic. Paul quotes a creed or piece of poetry that says:

That Christ died for our sins

in accordance with the scriptures.

and that he was buried;

That he was raised on the third day

in accordance with the scriptures,

and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Why is this a problem? The New Testament thinkers were in the habit of inventing material about Jesus copying Old Testament scriptures. So, for instance, Mark copies material from the story of Elijah to present John the Baptist as the new and greater Elijah. Likewise, Mathew’s story about Jesus recapitulates the story of Moses to present Jesus as the new and greater Moses. That is what the above “Corinthian Creed / poetry” that Paul is quoting seems to be doing with the Old Testament story of Jonah and the huge fish. In Matthew regarding the resurrection we read:

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:38-40)

So, far from being historical, the Easter resurrection claims are much more likely hallucinations or lies inspired by the story of Jonah.