bookmark_borderThe Historical Jesus and John The Baptizer

I just wanted to share this interview from today with Dr. James McGrath by Derek on Mythvision podcast. It’s interesting because it shows how historical reasoning works when we try to sift through the evidence to find historical nuggets. So, for instance, of John the Baptizer Jesus was recorded as saying things like:

  • “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28)”
  • “The Law and the Prophets were until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is being proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force (Luke 16:16)”

You can see the problem for Jesus mythicism here, since it’s hard to imagine the early church inventing Jesus saying that John the Baptist was greater than him, or that the turning point in history was John, not Jesus.

Anyway, it’s a fun interview, so check it out!

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 14: The 2nd Argument Against Jesus being a LIAR

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, through Part 10 of this series, I showed that there are three INVALID inferences in Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument in support of premise (1A). So, they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that this key premise of their argument is true, and thus this premise is DUBIOUS, at best.

In Part 11 of this series, I argued that there are three clear COUNTEREXAMPLES to premise (1A), each of which shows that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are at least three more VIEWS that Kreeft and Tacelli failed to take into account: the SKEPTIC VIEW, the STAR WARS VIEW, and the THEOLOGICAL CONFUSION VIEW. Therefore, premise (1A) is clearly FALSE. So, their argument for the divinity of Jesus is based on a premise that is FALSE, and the argument is thus UNSOUND and should be rejected.

In Part 12 of this series, I revised the second premise so that it would not be obviously false and so that it would have at least some initial plausibility:

2B. Jesus was not a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

One key premise in support of (2B) is the following premise:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

In Part 13 of this series, I showed that the first argument Kreeft and Tacelli give to support (4B) FAILS to show that premise (4B) is true.

In this post, I will critically examine the second argument Kreeft and Tacelli give to support (4B).

THE SECOND ARGUMENT FOR PREMISE (4B)

Premise (14) is the primary reason given in support of (4B):

14. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

Kreeft and Tacelli provide two reasons in support of (14):

15. Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and this brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

16. Jesus could not have hoped that his claim to LITERALLY be God would be successful.

Kreeft and Tacelli also give an argument in support of premise (16):

17. The Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man.

18. Jesus, as a Jew, would have known that the Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man.

THEREFORE:

16. Jesus could not have hoped that his claim to LITERALLY be God would be successful.

It is clear right away that the primary inference in this argument from premise (14) to (4B) is INVALID. The (alleged) fact that Jesus had no conceivable motive for claiming to LITERALLY be God is IRRELEVANT to whether Jesus was a liar or not.

No matter how well Kreeft and Tacelli support premise (14), the conclusion (4B) simply does NOT FOLLOW from that premise. At most, one could infer that Jesus did not intentionally lie about LITERALLY being God. But that leaves open the possibility that Jesus constantly lied about all sorts of other matters. So, this argument is clearly INVALID and thus it FAILS.

A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH PREMISE (14)

However, there appears to be an even more serious problem with premise (14). This premise LOGICALLY IMPLIES that Kreeft and Tacelli are wrong in their belief that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God:

14. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

THEREFORE:

19. Jesus did NOT claim that he was LITERALLY God.

If someone S has “no conceivable motive” to do X, then it follows that S will NOT do X. One must have a motivation for every action that one chooses to take. Why would Kreeft and Tacelli assert premise (14) given that this premise (a) clearly FAILS to support their claim that Jesus was not a liar, and (b) clearly implies that their basic assumption that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God is FALSE?

Kreeft and Tacelli are not the sharpest tools in the shed, so it is possible that they could have made both of these HUGE ERRORS all at once. But I suspect that the problem here is that premise (14) does not accurately represent what they were thinking. So, we need to take a closer look at this premise, to see if there is a better interpretation available, an interpretation that is not so obviously IDIOTIC, given what they were attempting to prove.

ALTERNATIVE INTERPRETATIONS OF PREMISE (14)

Here again is the quotation from Kreeft and Tacelli, where this premise is put forward:

Because there is no conceivable motive for his lie. It brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death. (HCA, p.160)

The second sentence uses the pronoun “it”, and this clearly refers back to the expression “his lie”. But if we interpret the second sentence straightforwardly, then it would be asserting this:

Jesus LIED in claiming to LITERALLY be God, and that LIE brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

This straightforward interpretation of the second sentence will not work, though, because Kreeft and Tacelli obviously don’t believe that Jesus LIED in claiming to LITERALLY be God. So, clearly, they would not assert that Jesus LIED in this way as being a historical fact. I therefore interpreted the second sentence this way:

15. Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and this brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

In other words, I dropped the idea that this was a LIE out of the second sentence because I know that Kreeft and Tacelli do NOT believe that Jesus LIED by claiming to LITERALLY be God.

If they had written these sentences more CAREFULLY and CLEARLY, they would have used scare quotes around the word “lie”:

Because there is no conceivable motive for his “lie” of claiming to literally be God. His claiming to literally be God brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

In the previous sentences, Kreeft and Tacelli based an argument on the claim that “Liars lie for selfish reasons…”. So, it is possible that they intended the phrase “no conceivable motive” in the first sentence to be QUALIFIED in view of their previous statements so that what they actually meant was that Jesus had “no conceivable SELFISH motive”. Here is a revised version of premise (14) based on this hypothesis:

14A. There is no conceivable SELFISH motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

Another possible interpretation of the first sentence involves keeping the concept of LYING in the claim, but in a hypothetical manner:

14B. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God, if Jesus knew this claim was FALSE (and thus a LIE).

Finally, it is possible to combine both of these alternative interpretations together to form a third possible interpretation of the first sentence:

14C. There is no conceivable SELFISH motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God, if Jesus knew this claim was FALSE (and thus a LIE).

So, if we substitute these alternative interpretations of this premise into the second argument against Jesus being a liar, does that fix the argument?

First, any of these three alternatives is at least an improvement over the original interpretation, because none of these three alternative claims imply that Jesus did NOT claim to LITERALLY be God. Kreeft and Tacelli’s entire case for the divinity of Jesus rests on the assumption that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, so the original interpretation of premise (14) completely destroys the foundation of their own case for the divinity of Jesus. The alternative interpretations don’t have this huge self-destructive implication.

EVALUATION OF REVISED ARGUMENTS

However, the main question at issue here is whether any of these alternative interpretations of premise (14) change a FAILED argument into a SUCCESSFUL argument. Are any of these alternative claims true? Do any of these alternative claims logically imply the conclusion that Jesus was NOT a liar? Let’s consider revising the argument by using premise (14A):

14A. There is no conceivable SELFISH motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

First, premise (14A) is FALSE. If Jesus believed he was LITERALLY God, and if Jesus believed that he was on a mission from God that required him to die by being executed by the Romans, and if Jesus believed that he would become the King of Kings and Lord of Lords if he faithfully carried out his mission, then Jesus clearly had a powerful SELFISH motivation for claiming to LITERALLY be God and thus to help bring about his own execution by the Romans, at the request of offended Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. So, this argument is UNSOUND and should be rejected.

Second, the conclusion does NOT FOLLOW from the premise. Whatever motivations Jesus may have had with respect to claiming to LITERALLY be God, this has almost nothing to do with whether Jesus was generally truthful or generally a liar about OTHER matters. Jesus might well have had many times when there was a selfish motive for him to lie about something (about his age, his health, his parents, his financial circumstances, his plans, his feelings about someone, etc.) Premise (14A) is only talking about one specific thing that Jesus might have chosen to say or not to say, so it does not have wide implications about how honest or dishonest Jesus was in general. Thus, the LOGIC of this argument is INVALID and the argument should be rejected.

Let’s consider revising the argument by using premise (14B):

14B. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God, if Jesus knew this claim was FALSE (and thus a LIE).

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

First, premise (14B) is FALSE. There are MANY selfish motives that Jesus could have had for claiming to LITERALLY be God. Jews believed they owed absolute obedience to God, and Jews believed they had a duty to love God with all their heart and mind, and Jews believed that God was a wonderful and amazing person who deserved honor, praise, and worship. So, if Jesus could persuade some Jews to believe that he was LITERALLY God, that would give him great power, influence, and control over those Jews. Since (14B) is FALSE, this argument is UNSOUND and it FAILS.

Second, the inference from (14B) to (4B) is clearly INVALID. Premise (14B) only talks about Jesus’ decision to either claim to LITERALLY be God or not to make this claim. It tells us NOTHING about the thousands of other subjects about which Jesus made claims. So, even if it is the case that Jesus had no motive to claim to LITERALLY be God, he probably did often have motive to lie about thousands of other questions and topics. Since the LOGIC in this argument is INVALID, this argument FAILS.

Let’s consider revising the argument by using premise (14C):

14C. There is no conceivable SELFISH motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God, if Jesus knew this claim was FALSE (and thus a LIE).

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

First, premise (14C) is FALSE. It is FALSE for the same reason that premise (14B) is FALSE. Thus, this argument is UNSOUND and it FAILS.

Second, the inference from premise (14C) to (4B) is INVALID. It is INVALID for the same reason that the inference from (14B) to (4B) is INVALID. Because the LOGIC of this argument is INVALID, this argument FAILS.

EVALUATION OF THE SECOND ARGUMENT AGAINST JESUS BEING A LIAR

The core of the argument against Jesus being a liar is premise (14):

14. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

The inference in this core argument is clearly INVALID, so no matter how well Kreeft and Tacelli support premise (14), this argument FAILS.

In addition, premise (14) is clearly FALSE. It is FALSE because persuading other Jews to believe that he was God would give Jesus great power, influence, and control over those Jews. So there is an OBVIOUS selfish motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

Thus, this core argument has both a FALSE premise and an INVALID inference. It is clearly an UNSOUND argument and it FAILS to show that (4B) is true.

Furthermore, not only does premise (14) FAIL to support premise (4B), but it actually DESTROYS the entire case made by Kreeft and Tacelli for the divinity of Jesus. Premise (14) implies that Jesus did NOT claim to LITERALLY be God, but that is a basic assumption of Kreeft and Tacelli’s case for the divinity of Jesus. They have truly shot themselves in both feet with premise (14).

Because premise (14) FAILS so spectacularly, I have made a serious effort to come up with alternative interpretations of the sentence on which (14) was based, to see if I could come up with an interpretation that helped to fix their badly broken argument.

I came up with three alternative interpretations, each of which are an improvement over the original premise (14) in that they do not logically imply that Jesus did NOT claim to LITERALLY be God. These alternative interpretations at least don’t DESTROY the entire case by Kreeft and Tacelli for the divinity of Jesus.

However, all three alternative interpretations turned out to be FALSE claims, and NONE of the alternative interpretations logically imply (4B), so if we substitute any of the three alternative premises into the argument for (4B), the argument will have a FALSE premise and an INVALID inference, and FAIL just as badly as the original argument with the original interpretation of premise (14).

I conclude that this argument by Kreeft and Tacelli against Jesus being a LIAR is a complete and utter FAILURE, like most of their other arguments.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 13: The 1st Argument Against Jesus being a LIAR

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, through Part 10 of this series, I explain how Kreeft and Tacelli use a series of FOUR DILEMMAS in order to try to prove premise (1A). I have shown that the FIRST DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference, and I have shown that the SECOND DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference. I agreed with Kreeft and Tacelli that the inference in the THIRD DILEMMA is logically VALID. I have also shown that in the FOURTH DILEMMA there is one VALID inference (to the LIAR VIEW) and one INVALID inference (to the LUNATIC VIEW). Therefore, there are INVALID inferences in three out of the FOUR DILEMMAS, and just one INVALID inference is enough to sink Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument in support of premise (1A) of their case for the divinity of Jesus. So, they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that this key premise of their argument is true, and that premise remains DUBIOUS, at best.

In Part 11 of this series, I argued that my objections not only show that there are three INVALID inferences in the argument presented by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (1A), but that there are three clear COUNTEREXAMPLES to premise (1A), each of which shows that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are at least three more VIEWS that Kreeft and Tacelli failed to take into account: the SKEPTIC VIEW, the STAR WARS VIEW, and the THEOLOGICAL CONFUSION VIEW. Therefore, not only is the argument given by Kreeft and Tacelli for premise (1A) a BAD argument, but premise (1A) is clearly FALSE. So, their argument for the divinity of Jesus is based on a premise that is FALSE, and the argument is thus UNSOUND and should be rejected.

In Part 12 of this series, I revised the second premise so that it would not be obviously false, so that it would have at least some initial plausibility:

2B. Jesus was not a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

One key premise in support of (2B) is the following premise:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

In this post, I will examine the first argument Kreeft and Tacelli give to support (4B).

THE FIRST ARGUMENT AGAINST JESUS BEING A LIAR

Premises (10) and (11) are the core of this first argument for (4B):

10. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

11. Jesus was unselfish, loving, and caring.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

Premises (12) and (13) provide support for premise (11):

12. Jesus was passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth.

13. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

EVALUATION OF PREMISE (10)

Here again is premise (10):

10. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

This premise is VAGUE in terms of QUANTIFICATION. Does it assert that liars ALWAYS “lie for selfish reasons”? or that liars USUALLY “lie for selfish reasons”? or that liars SOMETIMES “lie for selfish reasons”? Here are those three different interpretations* of premise (10):

10A. Liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10B. Liars USUALLY lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10C. Liars SOMETIMES lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

Premise (10C) is obviously true, but (10C) is too WEAK to be used to show that (4B) is true.

Premise (10B) might be true, although it is NOT obviously true. For all I know, liars lie for selfish reasons 50% of the time, and have other motivations 50% of the time.

It would depend in part on how exactly we define the term “liar”. To the extent that most people are “liars”, it might well be the case that “liars” tell lies for non-selfish reasons 50% of the time. In that case, (10B) would be FALSE. But if the term “liar” is reserved for people who habitually tell big lies, then (10B) might be TRUE. Without a careful and precise definition of “liar” and a large amount of carefully gathered sociological data on the frequency and nature of lying, it would be difficult to determine whether (10B) was TRUE or FALSE.

Furthermore, even if (10B) was true, it is also too WEAK a claim to be used to show that (4B) is true.

Premise (10A) would be strong enough to be used to show that (4B) is true. However, premise (10A) is obviously FALSE. People sometimes tell lies for non-selfish reasons. People have many different motivations for the choices they make and the actions they take, and people sometimes make choices on the basis of non-selfish reasons. Even people who frequently lie sometimes make choices and take actions for non-selfish reasons, so clearly even they will sometimes lie for non-selfish reasons. Premise (10A) is clearly FALSE.

So, if we interpret premise (10) to make the strong claim in (10A), then the premise will be strong enough to be used to show that (4B) is true, but the premise will be FALSE. If we interpret premise (10), to make the weaker claim (10B), then it will NOT be strong enough to be used to show that (4B) is true, and it is uncertain whether (10B) is TRUE or FALSE. Finally, if we interpret premise (10) to make the weak claim in (10C), then we know that claim is TRUE, but it is clearly too WEAK to be used to show that premise (4B) is true. Therefore, premise (10) is either too WEAK to support the conclusion (4B) or else it strong enough to support the conclusion (4B) but is clearly FALSE. Either way, Kreeft and Tacelli’s first argument for (4B) FAILS to show that (4B) is true.

EVALUATION OF PREMISE (11)

Here again is premise (11):

11. Jesus was unselfish, loving, and caring.

Kreeft and Tacelli support premise (11) with two reasons, given in premise (12) and premise (13):

12. Jesus was passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth.

13. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

Premise (11) suffers from the very same problem of VAGUENESS as premise (10), and as with premise (10), we can interpret premise (11) in at least three different ways:

11A. Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS caring.

11B. Jesus was USUALLY unselfish, USUALLY loving, and USUALLY caring.

11C. Jesus was SOMETIMES unselfish, SOMETIMES loving, and SOMETIMES caring.

The WEAKER claims made by (11B) and (11C) are more plausible than the strong claim made by (11A), but the WEAKER claims are not sufficient to prove the conclusion that Jesus was not a liar. Only the strong claim made by (11A) will be sufficient to show that (4B) is true.

Human beings in general, unless they are sociopaths, are often selfish and are at least sometimes unselfish. Some admirable human beings are usually unselfish and yet are also sometimes selfish. Based on how human beings generally behave it is very unlikely that any particular person is “ALWAYS unselfish, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS caring”, so premise (11A) is extremely DUBIOUS, apart from lots of strong factual evidence. Premise (11A) is presumptively FALSE; it should be considered FALSE unless and until strong evidence is provided that shows it to be TRUE.

Do Kreeft and Tacelli provide lots of powerful evidence to support the very strong claim made by (11A)? They don’t even come anywhere close. Consider premise (12):

12. Jesus was passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth.

The same could be said of many teachers: elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, and college professors. The same could be said of many many journalists and writers: newspaper journalists, magazine journalists, television journalists, textbook writers, how-to-book writers, science writers, historical writers, political writers, religion writers, psychology writers, sociology writers, etc.

Would it be reasonable to conclude that ALL teachers and ALL writers who are “passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth” are “ALWAYS unselfish, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS caring”? Obviously NOT. Human beings, even exemplary human beings, are still selfish sometimes, unloving sometimes, and uncaring sometimes. This is just a widely known fact about human behavior. Premise (12) is way too WEAK to prove, or even to strongly support, the very strong claim made by premise (11A).

Consider premise (13):

13. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

First, it is not at all clear that premise (13) is true.

In order to give up “all worldly goods”, one must have a significant amount of worldly goods to give up. But Jesus was the son of a carpenter. Jesus did NOT come from a wealthy or powerful family. Jesus came from a working-class family in a small backwater village in Galilee. Jesus did not have much in the way of worldly goods to give up. Furthermore, there was no easy path for Jesus to climb his way up into a life of wealth and luxury. Very few working-class Jews from backwater villages in first-century Palestine had any opportunity to become wealthy or powerful people. Jesus probably did go without much in the way of “worldly goods”, but that was already his lot in life when he was born into a working-class family in a backwater village in first-century Palestine. So, we cannot give Jesus much credit for giving up “all worldly goods”.

The second claim in (13) is also DUBIOUS. Jesus “gave up…life itself”. It is uncertain that Jesus deliberately “gave up” his own life. Furthermore, if he did give up his own life, it is not at all clear that he gave it up for unselfish reasons. The Gospels do generally portray Jesus as foreseeing his death by execution. But it would be expected for a great prophet to foresee his own death, and since his death was supposedly a key part of God’s plan, it would be expected that a great prophet would be aware of this key part of God’s plan, so the early Christian storytellers would be inclined to believe that Jesus had foreseen his own death, and they might well have shaped their stories about Jesus to correspond with this belief.

It might well be the case that Jesus anticipated his own death, especially in view of the fact that Jesus had been a disciple of John the Baptist, and John the Baptist was killed for being an outspoken critic of Herod Antipas. So, Jesus might have reasonably guessed that being an outspoken critic of the religious leaders of Jerusalem, he could face the same fate as the man he had previously admired and followed.

Nevertheless, it might well be the case that Jesus did NOT expect to be arrested and executed so early in his career as a prophet, teacher, and healer. He may have been anticipating many more years of preaching and healing before he faced being arrested and executed. If his arrest was a surprise to Jesus, then his death by execution was NOT the result of Jesus giving up his own life. In that case, it would be, at most, the result of Jesus putting his life at moderate risk for the sake of carrying on his ministry.

Suppose that Jesus was aware that there was a serious plot by the religious authorities in Jerusalem to have Jesus arrested and then executed by the Romans. Suppose Jesus remained in Jerusalem believing that this plot was very likely to be successful and that his choice to remain in Jerusalem meant that in all likelihood he would soon be arrested and executed by the Roman authorities. In that case, it would seem that Jesus did give up his life.

However, this would NOT be sufficient to show that Jesus gave up his life for unselfish reasons. We also would need to know what Jesus’ motivation was for remaining in Jerusalem and facing arrest and execution by the Romans. Premise (13) says NOTHING about Jesus’ motivation for giving up his life, so premise (13) FAILS to support the conclusion that “Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish”.

Furthermore, there is good reason to doubt that Jesus’ motivations were purely unselfish, even assuming that he did in fact choose to give up his own life. Jesus believed that he was on a mission from God, and that if he faithfully carried out that mission, God would make Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and put Jesus in charge of all human beings in an eternal Kingdom of righteousness and prosperity.

If, however, Jesus failed to carry out the mission God had assigned to him, then God would NOT bestow such power and glory and prosperity upon Jesus. So, if Jesus believed that his own death was a key part of God’s plan, and thus a key part of Jesus’ mission, then Jesus would have a HUGE selfish reason to follow this plan, and to submit himself to being arrested and executed by the Romans. Given this plausible view of Jesus’ hopes and beliefs, it is clear that in giving up his own life, Jesus might well have been acting PRIMARILY on the basis of selfish reasons.

Finally, even if it was true that Jesus gave up his own life and did this for unselfish reasons, it does NOT follow that Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish, or ALWAYS loving, or ALWAYS caring in every single choice he ever made. That would just be one instance where Jesus did something for unselfish reasons. That would have been a heroic choice, but it is a widely known fact of human behavior that even heroes and saints sometimes make choices that are selfish, unloving, or uncaring. So, even if Jesus did make the choice to give up his life for unselfish reasons, that does not come anywhere close to showing that Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS caring.

Because it is unclear whether Jesus actually gave up his own life, and because premise (13) says NOTHING about Jesus’ motivations for giving up his own life, because we can imagine a very plausible selfish reason why Jesus might have given up his own life, and because one unselfish action does NOT show that a person is consistently and constantly unselfish, premise (13) FAILS completely to provide support for the strong claim made by (11A), that “Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish”.

Since premise (11A) makes a very strong claim that runs contrary to our common experience of human behavior, and since premise (12) and premise (13) FAIL to provide any significant support for premise (11A), we may reasonably conclude that premise (11A) is DUBIOUS, and that it is probably FALSE.

EVALUATION OF THE FIRST ARGUMENT FOR PREMISE (4B)

The core argument for (4B) consists of two premises:

10. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

11. Jesus was unselfish, loving, and caring.

Both of these premises are VAGUE with respect to QUANTIFICATION.

Both of these premises will work to establish the conclusion (4B) only if they are interpreted as making very strong claims:

10A. Liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

11A. Jesus was ALWAYS unselfish, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS caring.

However, on these interpretations, premise (10A) is clearly FALSE, and premise (11A) is DUBIOUS and probably FALSE. The reasons that Kreeft and Tacelli give in support of (11A) are clearly inadequate to support this very strong claim. Therefore, the first argument FAILS to show that premise (4B) is true; it FAILS to show that “Jesus was not a liar.”

In the next post of this series, I will examine the second argument given by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (4B), the claim that “Jesus was not a liar.”

*NOTE:

After I published this post, I realized that there was a second problem of VAGUENESS with premise (10) concerning QUANTIFICATION. So, there are at least nine different possible interpretations of this premise:

10D. ALL liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10E. MOST liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10F. SOME liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10G. ALL liars USUALLY lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10H. MOST liars USUALLY lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10I. SOME liars USUALLY lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10J. ALL liars SOMETIMES lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10K. MOST liars SOMETIMES lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

10L. SOME liars SOMETIMES lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

My objection to the argument involving premise (10) still stands. Clearly, the weakest claim here has no significance:

10L. SOME liars SOMETIMES lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

But even claims of moderate strength are still too weak to make Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument work:

10H. MOST liars USUALLY lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

First, Jesus could be one of the liars who doesn’t fall into this category of “MOST liars” who USUALLY lie for selfish reasons. Perhaps Jesus USUALLY or ALWAYS lied for unselfish reasons.

Second, even if Jesus was a liar who USUALLY lied for selfish reasons, he might not have told many lies, and his other actions and choices might have been consistently unselfish so that overall his choices and actions were usually unselfish.

So, in order for their argument to work, they need to make (10) a very strong claim, like the following, which is obviously FALSE:

10D. ALL liars ALWAYS lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

It turns out that Kreeft and Tacelli make basically the SAME argument concerning Jesus’ disciples, but when they do, they use the word “always” to quantify this claim about lies being made for selfish reasons:

There could be no possible motive for such a lie. Lies are always told for some selfish advantage. (HCA, p.185)

Since they assert this universal generalization when discussing the disciples, they presumably believe this same universal generalization when they discuss the possibility of Jesus being a liar. The claim that “Lies are always told for some selfish advantage” logically implies premise (10D), so it is FALSE too, just like premise (10D) is FALSE.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 12: The Argument for Premise (2A)

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, I analyzed and clarified a series of four dilemmas (four EITHER/OR statements) that they use to support premise (1A). The four dilemmas are used to try to prove that there are only FIVE possible views that can be taken on this issue.

In Part 4 of this series through Part 9 of this series, I have shown that the FIRST DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference, and I have shown that the SECOND DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference. I agreed with Kreeft and Tacelli that the inference in the THIRD DILEMMA is logically VALID.

In Part 10 of this series, I have shown that in the FOURTH DILEMMA there is one VALID inference (to the LIAR VIEW) and one INVALID inference (to the LUNATIC VIEW). Therefore, there are INVALID inferences in three out of the FOUR DILEMMAS, and just one INVALID inference is enough to sink Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument in support of premise (1A) of their case for the divinity of Jesus. So, they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that this key premise of their argument is true, and that premise remains DUBIOUS, at best.

In Part 11 of this series, I argued that my objections not only show that there are three INVALID inferences in the argument presented by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (1A), but that there are three clear COUNTEREXAMPLES to premise (1A), each of which shows that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are at least three more VIEWS that Kreeft and Tacelli failed to take into account: the SKEPTIC VIEW, the STAR WARS VIEW, and the THEOLOGICAL CONFUSION VIEW.

Therefore, not only is the argument given by Kreeft and Tacelli for premise (1A) clearly a BAD argument, but premise (1A) is clearly FALSE. So, their argument for the divinity of Jesus is based on a premise that is FALSE, and that argument is thus UNSOUND and should be rejected.

THE ARGUMENT FOR PREMISE (2A)

Here again, is premise (2A) one of the key premises of Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument for the divinity of Jesus:

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

The argument in support of (2A) consists of four more specific claims:

4A. Jesus could not possibly be a liar.

5A. Jesus could not possibly be a lunatic.

6A. Jesus could not possibly be a guru.

7A. Jesus could not possibly be a myth.

THEREFORE:

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

Before I diagram this sub-argument, I should correct a problem with premise (2A). Premise (2A) appears to make the strong claim that it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that Jesus was a liar, and LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that Jesus was a lunatic, etc. But such strong claims are clearly and obviously FALSE. We can imagine it being the case that Jesus was a liar, and we can imagine it being the case that Jesus was a lunatic. There is no logical self-contradiction in these claims. Thus, it is LOGICALLY POSSIBLE that Jesus was a liar, and it is LOGICALLY POSSIBLE that Jesus was a lunatic. The claim intended by Kreeft and Tacelli here is that historical facts show that Jesus was NOT in fact a liar and NOT in fact a lunatic.

So, to avoid the second premise being immediately judged to be FALSE and tossed aside, we should modify this premise so that it has at least some initial plausibility, if possible. This problem is easily fixed, so I will revise the second premise to make it more clearly into a factual and historical claim:

2B. Jesus was not a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

Since we have revised the second premise to make it at least initially plausible, we need to also revise the premises in the argument supporting the second premise in a similar manner:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

5B. Jesus was not a lunatic.

6B. Jesus was not a guru.

7B. Jesus was not a myth.

THEREFORE:

2B. Jesus was not a liar, lunatic, guru, or myth.

THE ARGUMENTS FOR PREMISE (4B)

Here again, is premise (4B):

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

Kreeft and Tacelli give more than one reason in support of this premise:

Why couldn’t Jesus be a liar?

1. Because he has the wrong psychological profile. He was unselfish, loving, caring, compassionate, and passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

2. Because there is no conceivable motive for his lie. It brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

3. Because he could not have hoped that his “lie” would be successful, for the Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man, and Jesus, as a Jew, would have known that.

(HCA, p.160)

THE FIRST ARGUMENT FOR (4B)

The first argument for (4B) is summarized in the first sentence: “Because he has the wrong psychological profile.” But that is just a summary. The key premise in the argument is this one:

10. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

(I will ignore the numbers used by Kreeft and Tacelli, and assign numbers to statements in whatever way helps to clarify the logic of their argument.)

The first phrase of the second sentence logically connects with premise (10): “He was unselfish, loving, caring…”. Let’s take this as another premise in the first argument for (4B):

11. Jesus was unselfish, loving, and caring.

The rest of the second sentence appears to provide some support for the first part of the sentence, for premise (11):

12. Jesus was passionate about teaching truth and helping others to truth.

The fourth sentence also appears to provide some support for premise (11):

13. Jesus gave up all worldly goods, and life itself.

Premises (10) and (11) are the core of this first argument:

10. Liars lie for selfish reasons, like money, fame, pleasure or power.

11. Jesus was unselfish, loving, and caring.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

Premises (12) and (13) provide support for premise (11).

THE SECOND ARGUMENT FOR (4B)

The next point made by Kreeft and Tacelli also relates to Jesus’ motivations:

Because there is no conceivable motive for his lie. It brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death. (HCA, p.160)

What does the phrase “his lie” refer to? Clearly it refers to “Jesus’ lie that he was LITERALLY God”. However, Kreeft and Tacelli don’t believe this was a lie, so in more neutral language, they mean “Jesus’ claim that he was LITERALLY God”:

14. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

The next sentence begins with the pronoun “it”: “It brought him hatred…”. The pronoun clearly refers back to “his lie”, which we have clarified to mean “Jesus’s claim that he was LITERALLY God.”:

15. Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and this brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

Premise (15) appears to be a reason given in support of premise (14), and (14) is a reason given in support of (4B):

15. Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and this brought him hatred, rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture and death.

THEREFORE:

14. There is no conceivable motive for Jesus to claim that he was LITERALLY God.

THEREFORE:

4B. Jesus was not a liar.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT FOR (14)

Here again is the third point given by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (4B):

Because he could not have hoped that his “lie” would be successful, for the Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man, and Jesus, as a Jew, would have known that. (HCA, p.160)

The reference to “his ‘lie'” at the beginning of this sentence is not intended literally, which is why the word “lie” appears in quotation marks. Kreeft and Tacelli believe that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and that this claim was true, not a lie. So we need to rephrase “his ‘lie'” in more neutral language:

16. Jesus could not have hoped that his claim to LITERALLY be God would be successful.

The second part of the sentence provides a reason in support of premise (16):

17. The Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man.

The third part of the sentence makes a claim that works with premise (17) to support (16):

18. Jesus, as a Jew, would have known that the Jews were the least likely people in the world to have worshipped a man.

Premise (16) appears to provide further support to premise (14), so the third point by Kreeft and Tacelli appears to be a sub-argument within the second argument, rather than being an independent argument for (4B). So, will modify the diagram for the second argument to include this additional sub-argument.

Kreeft and Tacelli have provided two arguments in support of (4B). In the next post of this series, I will evaluate the first argument in support of (4B).

bookmark_borderBlogging Through Augustine/Martin’s Anthology “The Myth Of An Afterlife” Part 6

Blog Post 6 on “The Myth of an Afterlife”

The Myth of an Afterlife

Chapter Two: Dead as a Doornail Souls, Brains, and Survival 

by Matt McCormick

Augustine summarizes that

 In chapter 2, Matt McCormick presents a strong probabilistic case that human cognitive abilities, memories, personalities, thoughts, emotions, conscious awareness, and self-awareness are dependent upon the brain to occur/ exist and thus cannot survive the death of the brain. McCormick makes his case by providing a broad overview of the general lines of evidence that even the highest mental functions are produced by brain activity, evidence that does not sit well with the notion of any sort of soul or ethereal double that can function completely independently of the brain. Yet this notion is presupposed by all versions of the survival hypothesis that do not depend exclusively upon miraculous bodily resurrection.

McCormick outlines his general argument as follows:

1. Human cognitive abilities, memories, personalities, thoughts, emotions, conscious awareness, and self-awareness (in short, the features that we attribute to the personal soul) are dependent upon the brain to occur/exist. 2. The brain does not survive the death of the body 3. Therefore, the personal soul does not survive the death of the body.

To begin with, McCormick makes the general point regarding the dependency of the mind on the brain.

Decades of evidence from stroke victims, motorcycle accidents, car wrecks, construction site accidents, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, brain imaging, and other medical studies have given us a detailed picture of which portions of the brain are active in conjunction with specific cognitive abilities and mental states. What that research has shown is that minds depend upon brains. Damaging a part of the brain destroys a part of our thoughts, eliminates a cognitive ability, or alters some personal or emotional capacity. Restoring the electrochemical functions of the brain renews the mental function.

McCormick argues what science teaches is that brain damage can pinpoint the section of the brain responsible for which cognitive functions, and that the mind is best explained as being entirely dependent.  Even something as basic as awareness can be wiped away and leave a person in a permanent vegetative state.  Even at the simplest level the physical can alter the mental, such as with a pill or caffeine.  Mental functions are directly proportional to their physical brain complexity in creatures, and even humans in their evolutionary history became more cognitively apt as their brains developed.  So why did consciousness develop?

There are countless neural assemblies that register various aspects of our environments and internal states. With conscious awareness, natural selection found a mechanism for summarizing many of the most pertinent facts quickly, making these discriminations available to executive planning faculties. The biological usefulness of conscious awareness is to “produce the best current interpretation of the visual scene, in the light of past experience either of ourselves or our ancestors (embodied in our genes), and to make available, for a sufficient time, to the parts of the brain that contemplate, plan and execute voluntary motor outputs (of one sort or another)” (Crick & Koch, 1995, p. 121). Memory, emotions, awareness of self and others, attention, and other elements of our cognitive constitutions fit into this general evolutionary picture as adaptations, byproducts, or kludges (improvised assemblages).

This goes beyond McCormick a little, but it would seem too that categorizing serves a further evolutionary function, and provides an interesting explanation of the relationship between particulars and universals beyond mere abstraction: so, a particularly scrumptious meal may have presenced to primitive man as “dinner incarnate (like we say of a Van Gogh we say “Now that’s a painting, Art incarnate) to the man’s aroused physiology; an average meal comparatively less so; and week old food hardly at all.   

McCormick argues the belief in the soul also has an evolutionary ground and relates to our tendency to assign minds to things even that don’t have minds

The animism of primitive religions is a result of imbuing the weather, the oceans, and other natural objects with spiritual forces. This overactive propensity to find minds where they are not feeds the belief that souls survive or are autonomous. If we are prone to find minds where they are not, then it is only natural to conceive of minds as unhinged from brains. Minds then become things that can exist in anything, whether they have brains or not. And it is a small step from here to the idea that perhaps minds don’t need to inhabit any physical object at all. Ironically, evolution produced brains that are conscious, as well as a powerful tendency to attribute consciousness to things that don’t have brains.

bookmark_borderPaul through the lens of Luke

It is fascinating to think along with Bart Ehrman and the idea that Luke had a Moral Influence interpretation of the cross rather than a Paying Sin Debt interpretation. But what about Paul? Paul was the great hero of Luke’s work Acts. It seems that Luke had not read Paul’s letters nor seemed to be aware of them. Just the same, it is not unreasonable to suppose Luke would have known the core of what Paul was teaching about the cross, and then conveyed it in Luke-Acts. Perhaps reading Paul as a cross sin debt payment advocate is wrong? This takes us back to the core teaching of the cross, of whether Jesus died to pay our sin debt, or rather to make our hidden sinful nature conspicuous to inspire repentance? Clearly, there didn’t seem to be any theological significance attached to Jesus’ death before he died. If the disciples thought Jesus was supposed to die for theological reasons, they wouldn’t have gotten violent at the arrest. It’s much easier to see how the death of the Davidic heir Jesus would have blossomed into a Moral Influence sense of the cross after his death, as opposed to suddenly a blood magic sin debt atonement interpretation appeared.

See my other post on this here:

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 11: Evaluation of Premise (1A)

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, I analyzed and clarified a series of four dilemmas (four EITHER/OR statements) that they use to support premise (1A). The four dilemmas are used to try to prove that there are only FIVE possible views that can be taken on this issue.

In Part 4 of this series through Part 9 of this series, I have shown that the FIRST DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference, and I have shown that the SECOND DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference. I agreed with Kreeft and Tacelli that the inference in the THIRD DILEMMA is logically VALID.

In Part 10 of this series, I have shown that in the FOURTH DILEMMA there is one VALID inference (to the LIAR VIEW) and one INVALID inference (to the LUNATIC VIEW). Therefore, there are INVALID inferences in three out of the FOUR DILEMMAS, and just one INVALID inference is enough to sink Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument in support of premise (1A) of their case for the divinity of Jesus. So, they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that this key premise of their argument is true, and that premise remains DUBIOUS, at best.

CRITICAL EVALUATION OF PREMISE (1A)

My conclusion at the end of Part 10 is that premise (1A) remains DUBIOUS, at best, because Kreeft and Tacelli have utterly and completely FAILED to provide a sound argument for this premise. But a stronger conclusion than that is warranted by my objections showing that there are at least three INVALID inferences in their argument supporting premise (1A). My objections against those three inferences also show that premise (1A) is in fact FALSE. So, now I will briefly review those objections and explain how they show that premise (1A) is FALSE.

THE OBJECTION TO THE INFERENCE IN THE FIRST DILEMMA

In order to evaluate the inference in the FIRST DILEMMA, I had to clarify the meaning of the “MYTH VIEW”.

The MYTH VIEW is true IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) at least ONE New Testament writing asserts or implies that Jesus claimed to be God,

AND

(b) it is NOT the case that Jesus claimed to be God.

Obviously, if the answer to the first basic question (i.e. “Did Jesus claim to be God?) is NO, then condition (b) would be satisfied. The only thing remaining that would need to be determined is whether condition (a) was also satisfied.

It appears that it might well be the case that (a) is FALSE, that NO NT writing asserts or implies that Jesus claimed to be God, and therefore even if we have good reason to conclude that it is NOT the case that Jesus claimed to be God, the MYTH THEORY might well be wrong, and thus the logic of Kreeft and Tacelli’s first dilemma would be mistaken. If the answer to the basic question “Did Jesus claim to be God?” is NO, it still might be the case that the MYTH THEORY was FALSE, because it might well be the case that no NT writing asserts or implies that Jesus claimed to be God.

The VIEW that Kreeft and Tacelli FAILED to take into account is the VIEW that the following two claims are true:

  • Jesus never claimed to be God.
  • The New Testament nowhere asserts or implies that Jesus claimed to be God.

This is MY view, and since I am a skeptic, I will call this the SKEPTIC VIEW. The SKEPTIC VIEW differs from the MYTH VIEW, because according to the MYTH VIEW there is one or more passages in the New Testament that assert or imply that Jesus claimed to be God. The SKEPTIC VIEW also differs from the other four VIEWS (the GURU VIEW, the LORD VIEW, the LIAR VIEW, and the LUNATIC VIEW). Therefore, the SKEPTIC VIEW constitutes a COUNTEREXAMPLE to premise (1A), and proves that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are clearly more than just the five VIEWS outlined by Kreeft and Tacelli in premise (1A).

THE OBJECTION TO THE INFERENCE IN THE SECOND DILEMMA

Whether or not the Gospel of John presents an accurate view of the historical Jesus, it presents a logically possible version of Jesus in which the inference that Kreeft and Tacelli make in the SECOND DILEMMA would be mistaken, and thus the logic of that dilemma is INVALID. In short, the Jesus presented in the Gospel of John provides a CLEAR COUNTEREXAMPLE to the inference made in the SECOND DILEMMA presented by Kreeft and Tacelli.

I argued that the characterization of Jesus found in the Gospel of John has two relevant aspects:

  • Jesus never means his claim to be God literally.
  • Jesus believes that some humans are divine or “from God” while other humans are evil or “from the devil”.

The VIEW of Jesus presented in the Gospel of John is thus contrary to the GURU VIEW, because according to the GURU VIEW Jesus believed that ALL human beings are divine or “from God”.

The VIEW of Jesus as satisfying the above two bulleted statements is one in which Jesus views humans as taking opposing sides in a great battle between good and evil. This is a theological view that was reflected in the STAR WARS movies, so I will call this the STAR WARS VIEW of Jesus. The STAR WARS VIEW is clearly different from the GURU VIEW, and it is also clearly different from the other four VIEWS (the MYTH VIEW, the LORD VIEW, the LIAR VIEW, and the LUNATIC VIEW) specified by Kreeft and Tacelli. It also differs from the sixth VIEW that I just introduced above: the SKEPTIC VIEW.

Therefore, the STAR WARS VIEW constitutes another COUNTEREXAMPLE to premise (1A), and proves that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are clearly more than just the five VIEWS outlined by Kreeft and Tacelli in premise (1A).

THE OBJECTION TO AN INFERENCE IN THE FOURTH DILEMMA

There are two inferences in the FOURTH DILEMMA. My objection was that the inference from a NO answer to the question posed in the FOURTH DILEMMA to the LUNATIC VIEW is an INVALID inference.

Kreeft and Tacelli are mistaken when they infer the LUNATIC VIEW from a NO answer to the question “Did Jesus know his literal claim to be God was not true?” It is possible for a person, including Jesus, to be a rational adult of normal cognitive ability who is NOT GOD, to nevertheless NOT KNOW that he was NOT GOD. Therefore, this inference in the FOURTH DILEMMA is logically INVALID.

I argue that it was possible that Jesus could have entertained a bizarre theological idea or theory (such as the TWO MINDS theory) that would have prevented him from accepting the evidence of his own experience as indicating that he was NOT omnipotent, NOT omniscient, NOT eternal, and NOT perfectly good. The acceptance of such a bizarre theological idea or theory would not, however, imply that Jesus was LITERALLY INSANE (that he had a very serious mental illness).

Because the acceptance of bizarre theological ideas is fairly common and not viewed as implying INSANITY or LUNACY, we can call this VIEW of Jesus, the THEOLOGICALLY CONFUSED VIEW. If Jesus accepted a strange or bizarre theological belief that prevented him from recognizing that he was an ordinary, finite, limited, and imperfect human being, but that did not otherwise impact his ability to cope with reality, to survive, and to get along with other people, then he would still have been a rational adult with normal cognitive ability who, nevertheless, did NOT KNOW that he was NOT GOD, even though this fact might have been fairly obvious apart from his bizarre theological theory.

The THEOLOGICALLY CONFUSED VIEW is clearly different from the LUNATIC VIEW, and it is also different than the MYTH VIEW, the GURU VIEW, the LORD VIEW, and the LIAR VIEW. So, the THEOLOGICALLY CONFUSED VIEW is a clear COUNTEREXAMPLE to premise (1A), and it shows that premise (1A) is FALSE.

The THEOLOGICALLY CONFUSED VIEW is also different from the other views that I introduced above: the SKEPTIC VIEW and the STAR WARS VIEW.

CONCLUSIONS ABOUT PREMISE (1A)

In previous posts in this series, I argued that three of the series of FOUR DILEMMAS presented by Kreeft and Tacelli contained INVALID inferences. Since only one INVALID inference would be sufficient to sink this argument for premise (1A), it is clear that they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that premise (1A) is true.

In this post, I argued that my objections not only show that there are three INVALID inferences in the argument presented by Kreeft and Tacelli in support of premise (1A), but that there are three clear COUNTEREXAMPLES to premise (1A), each of which shows that premise (1A) is FALSE. There are at least three more VIEWS that Kreeft and Tacelli failed to take into account: the SKEPTIC VIEW, the STAR WARS VIEW, and the THEOLOGICAL CONFUSION VIEW.

Therefore, not only is the argument given by Kreeft and Tacelli for premise (1A) clearly a BAD argument, but premise (1A) is clearly FALSE. So, their argument for the divinity of Jesus is based on a premise that is FALSE, and that argument is thus UNSOUND and should be rejected.

NOTE: There is also yet another obvious VIEW that Kreft and Tacelli failed to take into account: the NO JESUS VIEW (the view that Jesus was not an actual historical person).

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 10: The Fourth Dilemma

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, I analyzed and clarified a series of four dilemmas (four EITHER/OR statements) that they use to support premise (1A). The four dilemmas are used to try to prove that there are only FIVE possible views that can be taken on this issue.

In Part 4 of this series, I argued that the answer to the question posed in this FIRST DILEMMA is: NO. Furthermore, this NO answer to the question does NOT logically imply that the MYTH VIEW is true, so the logic of the FIRST DILEMMA is INVALID.

In Part 6 of this series, Part 7 of this series, and Part 8 of this series, I showed that if we answer the question posed by the SECOND DILEMMA by focusing on the quotations of Jesus provided by Kreeft and Tacelli from the Gospel of John, then the answer to the question would be: NO. Yet what Jesus says in the Gospel of John (especially in Chapter 8) also shows that the GURU VIEW is FALSE. Thus, the logic of Kreeft and Tacelli’s SECOND DILEMMA is INVALID.

In Part 9 of this series, I pointed out that the logic of the THIRD DILEMMA is VALID.

In order for Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS to work as a SOUND argument for premise (1A) the logic of all FOUR DILEMMAS must be VALID. Since I have shown that the FIRST DILEMMA is INVALID and that the SECOND DILEMMA is INVALID, it is already clear that Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument FAILS to show that premise (1A) is true.

WHAT ABOUT THE FOURTH DILEMMA?

Here is the FOURTH DILEMMA, the final piece of Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument in support of premise (1A):

The previous three dilemmas have each involved an inference to ONE of the five VIEWS, but this final FOURTH DILEMMA has two inferences. According to the reasoning of Kreeft and Tacelli, a YES answer to the question posed in the FOURTH DILEMMA logically implies the LIAR VIEW (the view that Jesus was a liar), and a NO answer to the question logically implies the LUNATIC VIEW (the view that Jesus was a lunatic, a person who was insane, or who had a very serious mental illness).

CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THE INFERENCE TO THE LIAR VIEW

Is the inference from a YES answer to the question “Did Jesus know his literal claim to be God was not true?” to the conclusion that the LIAR VIEW is true a VALID inference? First, it should be noted that Jesus never claimed to be God, and that Jesus never claimed to LITERALLY be God. So, this question is based on a FALSE ASSUMPTION. However, we should evaluate the logic of this FOURTH DILEMMA independently of the answers to the previous dilemmas, if possible. So, we should imagine that Jesus had claimed to LITERALLY be God, to be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

Furthermore, to evaluate this specific inference, we also need to imagine that Jesus KNEW that this claim to LITERALLY be God was NOT TRUE. Would this make Jesus a LIAR? It might be tempting to say that this conclusion, the LIAR VIEW, does not follow logically, because in this imagined circumstance Jesus has only told ONE LIE, but every human being has told at least one lie, and we don’t want to say that every human being is a LIAR on such a meager basis. It seems inappropriate to label a person as being a “liar” simply because that person told ONE SINGLE LIE.

However, this objection to the inference to the LIAR VIEW does not hold up under closer examination. The problem is that this “one lie” would be a HUGE and TERRIBLE lie, at least in the context of Jesus presenting himself as a devout Jew who is leading a group of people who were trying to be devout Jews.

God, according to the Jewish religion, is worthy of worship, and God is worthy of absolute obedience, and a devout Jew should believe anything and everything that God says. So, if Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and Jesus KNEW that this claim was NOT TRUE, Jesus would be deceiving people into worshiping an imperfect human being, and deceiving people into giving absolute obedience to an imperfect human being, and deceiving people into absolutely believing anything and everything that was asserted by an ignorant and imperfect human being. This would be a HUGE and TERRIBLE deception by Jesus, and thus if he did this, he would clearly deserve the label: LIAR.

Therefore, the inference from a YES answer to the question posed in the FOURTH DILEMMA to the conclusion that the LIAR VIEW is true is logically VALID. The LIAR VIEW does indeed follow logically from a YES answer to the question “Did Jesus know his literal claim to be God was not true?”

CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THE INFERENCE TO THE LUNATIC VIEW

According to the reasoning of Kreeft and Tacelli, a NO answer to the question posed in the FOURTH DILEMMA logically implies that the LUNATIC VIEW is true. However, they are mistaken on this point. This inference is logically INVALID, and thus the FOURTH DILEMMA adds yet another logical error to their argument in support of premise (1A).

The problem here is that religious beliefs, including basic Christian beliefs, involve the same appearance of INSANITY that the reasoning of Kreeft and Tacelli rely upon here to label the imagined version of Jesus as being a LUNATIC. Their logic would require that virtually all Christians also be considered to be LUNATICS. Their reasoning, in this case, PROVES TOO MUCH, and can thus be reduced to absurdity.

Did the baby Jesus know all human languages that have ever existed? Did the baby Jesus know all of the laws of physics and chemistry will ever be discovered, plus some laws of physics and chemistry that no human being will ever discover? Did the baby Jesus know all mathematical and geometrical axioms and theorems that will ever be thought of by any human being? Did the baby Jesus know how many hairs there are on the heads of every human being who has ever lived and who will ever live? In short, was the baby Jesus OMNISCIENT? If not, then it follows logically that the baby Jesus was NOT GOD, because God is, by definition, OMNISCIENT.

But if the baby Jesus was OMNISCIENT, then he would have been a FREAK, a MONSTER, and not in any way a finite human being. There are MANY logical problems with the Christian belief that Jesus was GOD INCARNATE, and that Jesus was one person in the TRINITY which constitutes God.

Over the centuries, many Christian philosophers and theologians have expended a great deal of time and effort trying to make sense of the idea that God could become a limited and finite human being, and still somehow remain God. Christian philosophers and theologians have also expended a great deal of time and effort trying to make sense of the idea that God could be three individual persons and yet be just ONE BEING (a Trinity). These intellectual efforts often involve rather bizarre ideas, like the idea that Jesus had TWO MINDS: a finite and limited human mind, and an infinite and unlimited divine mind. Such a bizarre theory was part of an effort to try to make sense of a baby Jesus who was, somehow, also God and thus OMNISCIENT.

But from the point of view of ordinary folks and common sense, the idea that Jesus had TWO MINDS, seems more than a little bit CRAZY. But such bizarre thinking has been a part of the intellectual history of Christian thought for many many centuries. Some of us might not be impressed by the TWO MINDS theory about Jesus, but we don’t conclude that Christian theologians are literally INSANE or LUNATICS. We all understand that religion and theology can easily and quickly go into some wild and wacky places.

Let’s think for a moment about an analogy that might be used to defend the reasoning of Kreeft and Tacelli on this point. Am I Superman? As a rational adult human with at least normal cognitive abilities, I am quite sure that I am NOT SUPERMAN. I am NOT faster than a speeding bullet. I am NOT more powerful than a locomotive. I am NOT able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Plus, I cannot fly through the air on my own (without a jet pack or some sort of manufactured wings). Any rational adult human of normal cognitive ability knows whether he or she is faster than a speeding bullet, or more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or able to fly through the air on their own (without a jet pack or some sort of manufactured wings). So, any rational adult of normal cognitive ability knows whether or not he/she is SUPERMAN.

Wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to being GOD? I know that I am NOT omnipotent. I know that I am NOT omniscient. I know that I am NOT eternal. I know that I am NOT perfectly good. As a rational adult with at least normal cognitive ability, I know that I am NOT GOD, in the same way that I know that I am NOT SUPERMAN. So, if Jesus was NOT omnipotent, and Jesus was NOT omniscient, and Jesus was NOT eternal, and Jesus was NOT perfectly good, then if Jesus was a rational adult with at least normal cognitive ability, wouldn’t he also know that he was NOT GOD? Wouldn’t it be OBVIOUS that he lacked the basic divine attributes (e.g. eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good)?

It is tempting to say that any rational adult who has at least normal cognitive ability would be able to quickly and easily determine whether or not he/she was eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good. However, we must keep in mind the bizarre thinking of Christian philosophers and theologians who try to make sense of a baby Jesus who is LITERALLY GOD, who is LITERALLY omnipotent and omniscient.

One way of making sense of this is by the theory that Jesus had TWO MINDS, a finite human mind, and an infinite divine mind. But then, would baby Jesus KNOW he was omnipotent and omniscient? Would Jesus as a teenager KNOW he was omnipotent and omniscient? Would Jesus as an adult KNOW he was omnipotent and omniscient? It is hard to say. Are we talking about the finite human MIND of Jesus knowing this? or the infinite divine MIND of Jesus knowing this?

To some of us, such questions appear to be INSANE and involve the thinking of LUNATICS. But I am talking about the thinking of some of the greatest Christian theologians and philosophers, and it would be rather ABSURD to declare these great Christian thinkers to all be INSANE, even if we think they are mistaken, even if we think some of their ideas and theories about God are illogical.

In short, Jesus could have entertained some bizarre philosophical or theological ideas that, to some of us, seem INSANE, but that are not any more bizarre than ideas that have been contemplated and defended by some great Christian thinkers. If Jesus had come up with, for example, the idea that he had TWO MINDS, one mind that was a finite and limited mind, and another mind that was an infinite and divine mind, many of us would find that to be a very strange and bizarre belief. But such a belief would NOT NECESSARILY imply that Jesus was LITERALLY INSANE or that Jesus suffered from a very serious mental illness.

If Jesus had come up with such a bizarre idea, that would explain how he could be a rational adult who had at least an ordinary level of cognitive ability, and yet believe that he was LITERALLY GOD when in fact he was just an ordinary, finite, and imperfect human being, just like the rest of us. In short, we can imagine Jesus coming up with a bizarre philosophical or theological idea that would reconcile the appearance that he was ordinary, finite, and imperfect, with the belief that he was supernatural, infinite, and perfectly good, but this bizarre philosophical or theological belief would NOT be sufficient reason to conclude that Jesus was LITERALLY INSANE, that Jesus had a very serious mental illness.

So long as Christians maintain the belief that Jesus was GOD INCARNATE, and that Jesus was one of three individual persons who constitute a single BEING that is GOD (the Trinity), we must either declare many of the greatest Christian thinkers to be INSANE, or else we must allow that Jesus could hold bizarre theological or philosophical beliefs that would make it possible for a rational adult of normal cognitive ability to NOT KNOW that he was a finite, limited, imperfect human being, even though he was in fact a finite, limited, and imperfect human being.

Kreeft and Tacelli are mistaken when they infer the LUNATIC VIEW from a NO answer to the question “Did Jesus know his literal claim to be God was not true?” It is possible for a person, including Jesus, to be a rational adult of normal cognitive ability who is NOT GOD, to nevertheless NOT KNOW that he was NOT GOD. Therefore, this inference in the FOURTH DILEMMA is logically INVALID.

CONCLUSION ABOUT THE FOUR DILEMMAS

I have shown that the FIRST DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference. I have shown that the SECOND DILEMMA contains an INVALID inference. I agree with Kreeft and Tacelli that the inference in the THIRD DILEMMA is logically VALID. I have shown that in the FOURTH DILEMMA there is one VALID inference (to the LIAR VIEW) and one INVALID inference (to the LUNATIC VIEW).

Therefore, there are INVALID inferences in three out of the four DILEMMAS, and just one INVALID inference is enough to sink Kreeft and Tacelli’s FOUR DILEMMAS argument in support of premise (1A) of their case for the divinity of Jesus. So, they have utterly and completely FAILED to show that this key premise of their argument is true, and that premise remains DUBIOUS, at best.

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 9: The Third Dilemma

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, I analyzed and clarified a series of four dilemmas (four EITHER/OR statements) that they use to support premise (1A). The four dilemmas are used to try to prove that there are only FIVE possible views that can be taken on this issue. I summarized the clarified version of their four dilemmas in this decision tree diagram:

In Part 4 of this series, I argued for some key points about the FIRST DILEMMA in the above diagram:

Two of those key points are:

  • The answer to this key question is “NO” and yet the MYTH VIEW is FALSE, contrary to the logic of the FIRST DILEMMA. So, the logic of the FIRST DILEMMA is INVALID.
  • The QUINTLEMMA FAILS on the FIRST DILEMMA of Kreeft and Tacelli’s series of dilemmas and thus the dilemmas FAIL to show that premise (1A) is true (that there are only FIVE possible views about the alleged divinity of Jesus).

The SECOND DILEMMA or second basic question supposedly leads to the GURU VIEW, if the answer to the question is “NO”:

Here are the six verses from the Gospel of John that Kreeft and Tacelli quote in the opening pages of Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA):

  • John 8:12
  • John 8:46
  • John 8:58
  • John 10:30
  • John 11:25
  • John 14:9

The question at issue concerning our evaluation of the SECOND DILEMMA is thus whether Jesus meant these statements LITERALLY, and whether in making them he was LITERALLY claiming to be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

In Part 6 of this series and in Part 7 of this series, I carefully examined each of the above six verses from the Gospel of John. I showed that NONE of the six verses from the Gospel of John quoted by Kreeft and Tacelli (at the beginning of Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics) as proof that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God actually show that Jesus made such a claim. Therefore, even if we assume for the sake of argument that the Gospel of John provides historically accurate information about the words and teachings of Jesus (it clearly does NOT do so), the evidence from the Gospel of John FAILS to show that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

In Part 8 of this series, I showed that if we answer the question posed by the SECOND DILEMMA by focusing on the quotations of Jesus provided by Kreeft and Tacelli from the Gospel of John, then the answer to the question would be: NO. Yet what Jesus says in the Gospel of John (especially in Chapter 8) also shows that the GURU VIEW is FALSE. Thus, the logic of Kreeft and Tacelli’s SECOND DILEMMA is INVALID. Therefore, we now have two major reasons to reject their argument for premise (1A). The FIRST DILEMMA is INVALID, and the SECOND DILEMMA is also INVALID. They have clearly FAILED to show that premise (1A) of their case for the divinity of Jesus is true.

WHAT ABOUT THE THIRD DILEMMA?

The THIRD DILEMMA is also a part of Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument for premise (1A):

This DILEMMA is logically VALID.

IF Jesus LITERALLY claimed to be God, to be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe, and IF that claim was TRUE, then Jesus would LITERALLY be God. In that case, the LORD VIEW would indeed be TRUE. So, the logic of the THIRD DILEMMA is good.

NOTE: Even a broken clock tells us the correct time twice every day.

In the next post, I will examine the FOURTH DILEMMA in Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument for premise (1A).

bookmark_borderKreeft’s Case for the Divinity of Jesus – Part 8: Conclusions about the Second Dilemma

WHERE WE ARE

In Chapter 7 of their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA), Christian philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli make a case for the divinity of Jesus. Here is the main argument they present in Chapter 7:

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 Part 3 of this series, I analyzed and clarified a series of four dilemmas (four EITHER/OR statements) that they use to support premise (1A). The four dilemmas are used to try to prove that there are only FIVE possible views that can be taken on this issue. I summarized the clarified version of their four dilemmas in this decision tree diagram:

In Part 4 of this series, I argued some key points about the first dilemma in the above diagram:

Here are those key points:

  • When Kreeft and Tacelli added two more possible views to the TRILEMMA to make their QUINTLEMMA, they unknowingly changed the meaning of the key question in the first dilemma (“Did Jesus claim to be God?”), making the meaning of the question UNCLEAR.
  • Kreeft and Tacelli fail to clarify the key concept of the MYTH VIEW and make a mess of the first dilemma, requiring me to fix the first dilemma by specifying a simple and clear definition of the MYTH VIEW as well as providing a plausible interpretation of the key question: “Did Jesus claim to be God?”.
  • Given my repairs to the first dilemma, it turns out that the answer to this key question is “NO” and yet that the MYTH VIEW is FALSE, contrary to the logic of the first dilemma. So, the logic of the first dilemma is INVALID.
  • The QUINTLEMMA FAILS on the first dilemma of Kreeft and Tacelli’s series of dilemmas and thus the dilemmas FAIL to show that premise (1A) is true (that there are only FIVE possible views about the alleged divinity of Jesus).

Because Jesus did NOT make a claim that if taken literally would be a claim to be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe, the answer to the question posed in the FIRST DILEMMA is: NO. That put an end to the series of dilemmas presented by Kreeft and Tacelli, and their attempt to prove premise (1A) FAILS right out of the starting gate.

However, in order to attempt to evaluate the SECOND DILEMMA, we examined six verses from the Gospel of John that were put forward by Kreeft and Tacelli as proof that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God. A careful examination of those verses showed that, even on the dubious assumption that the historical Jesus actually said the things those verses claim he said, those verses FAIL to show that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God. So, based on a careful examination of those six verses, the answer to the question posed in the SECOND DILEMMA is: NO.

The second dilemma or second basic question supposedly leads to the GURU VIEW, if the answer to the question is “NO”:

The question at issue concerning our evaluation of the second DILEMMA is thus whether Jesus meant these statements LITERALLY, and whether in making them he was LITERALLY claiming to be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

Here are the six verses from the Gospel of John that Kreeft and Tacelli quote in the opening pages of Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA):

  • John 8:12
  • John 8:46
  • John 8:58
  • John 10:30
  • John 11:25
  • John 14:9

According to Kreeft and Tacelli, the statements Jesus makes in these passages imply that Jesus is claiming to LITERALLY be God, that is, claiming to LITERALLY be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

In Part 6 of this series and in Part 7 of this series, I carefully examined each of the above six verses from the Gospel of John. I showed that NONE of the six verses from the Gospel of John quoted by Kreeft and Tacelli (at the beginning of Chapter 7 of their Handbook of Christian Apologetics) as proof that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God actually show that Jesus made such a claim. Therefore, even if we assume for the sake of argument that the Gospel of John provides historically accurate information about the words and teachings of Jesus (it clearly does NOT do so), the evidence from the Gospel of John FAILS to show that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be the eternal creator of the universe and the omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good ruler of the universe.

DOES THE GURU VIEW FOLLOW FROM A “NO” ANSWER TO THE SECOND DILEMMA?

According to Kreeft and Tacelli, a “NO” answer to the SECOND DILEMMA logically implies that the GURU VIEW is true:

Is this inference logically VALID? Based on my interpretations of the six passages from the Gospel of John, the GURU VIEW does initially appear to be true. Jesus calls God his “father”, but then he also tells his followers that God is THEIR “father” as well. Jesus claims to be “one with God”, but then he also says things that imply that his followers will also become “one with God”. So, it appears that Jesus claimed to have a very similar relationship with God as what he claimed his followers had or would soon have.

However, in the Gospel of John Jesus also claims to be the promised Messiah of the Jews, and there is no indication that he believed that his followers were also Messiahs. So, in claiming to be the “Messiah”, Jesus was claiming to have a unique and important role in God’s plan for humanity. But then Gurus and Buddhas in Eastern religions also claim to have important roles in bringing enlightenment to others. So, the GURU VIEW seems initially to be a good fit with what Jesus claimed about himself.

There is an important difference between Jesus’ claims about his and his followers’ relationship with God, and the views of gurus in Eastern religions. Although Jesus was inclined to tell his followers that God is THEIR “father”, he was also inclined, according to the Gospel of John, to tell his opponents that God is NOT THEIR “father”:

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God, and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.
44 You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?
47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

(John 8:42-47, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Jesus is arguing with some of his opponents here, not talking to his followers. Jesus clearly does not believe that his opponents are “from God”, nor does Jesus believe that God is their “father” in the way that God is his “father” and that God is the “father” of his followers. In short, Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospel of John, does NOT believe that God is the “father” of all humans, nor that all humans are children of God. Some humans are “from God”, but others are NOT “from God”, but are from “the devil”. This view is clearly contrary to the philosophy of gurus in Eastern religious traditions.

According to Kreeft and Tacelli, the mystical view of gurus in Eastern religious traditions is that “we are all God” (HCA, p.165) and that “we and everything else are all, ultimately, God.” (HCA, p.166). That is NOT the claim that each of us is LITERALLY the eternal creator of the universe, nor that each of us is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good ruler of the universe. Rather, this is a weaker claim that we are all “divine” in some vague metaphysical sense that we are all “part of God”, and that all humans are on a path or journey to enlightenment where we will eventually fully realize our oneness with God.

Jesus believed, according to the Gospel of John, that he had a close and loving relationship with God, and that his followers also had a close and loving relationship with God. But Jesus did NOT believe that every human had such a close and loving relationship with God. Some people, especially people who hated and opposed Jesus, were NOT “from God” but were evil and from “the devil”. Therefore, although Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospel of John, was similar to a mystical guru, in that he did NOT claim to be divine in a unique or supreme way, and only claimed to be divine in the way that his followers were also divine, his views were radically different from those of a mystical guru, because Jesus believed some people were “divine” or “from God” while other people are NOT “divine” and NOT “from God” but are from “the devil”.

In conclusion, because Jesus’ views on this matter, as characterized in the Gospel of John, radically depart from the view of mystical gurus from Eastern religious traditions, if we assume (for the sake of argument) that the words attributed to Jesus by the Gospel of John actually came from the historical Jesus, then the GURU VIEW is FALSE.

But this same assumption about the words attributed to Jesus by the Gospel of John also shows that Jesus did NOT mean “his claim to be God” LITERALLY. Those words show that Jesus did NOT LITERALLY claim to be the eternal creator of the universe and the all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good ruler of the universe. Therefore, the inference from a “NO” answer to the question posed in the SECOND DILEMMA to the conclusion that the GURU VIEW is true, is a logically INVALID inference. The words of Jesus in the Gospel of John show that the answer to the question “Did Jesus mean his claim to be God literally?” is: NO, but the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John also show that the GURU VIEW is FALSE.

Kreeft and Tacelli are thus wrong on BOTH of their basic points concerning the SECOND DILEMMA. First, the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John do NOT show that Jesus meant his claim to be God literally. Second, a “NO” answer to the question posed in the SECOND DILEMMA does NOT logically imply that the GURU VIEW is true. Thus, the inference they make in the SECOND DILEMMA is INVALID.

Both the FIRST DILEMMA and the SECOND DILEMMA are logically INVALID, and therefore, there are at least two major problems with the argument that Kreeft and Tacelli have given in support of premise (1A). They have clearly FAILED to provide a good reason to believe premise (1A) of their argument for the divinity of Jesus.

NOTE:

Because the Gospel of John is the least historically reliable Gospel of the four canonical Gospels, especially when it comes to the words and teachings of Jesus, it is unlikely that the six alleged quotations of Jesus pointed to by Kreeft and Tacelli are accurate representations of the words and teachings of the historical Jesus. So, if those quotations had indicated that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, they would still not provide a good reason to believe that the historical Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God.

Even if we assume (for the sake of argument) that the alleged words of Jesus from the Gospel of John were accurate representations of the words of the historical Jesus, they still FAIL to show that Jesus claimed to LITERALLY be God, and they also FAIL to show that the GURU VIEW is TRUE.

Furthermore, since the Gospel of John is an unreliable source of the words and teachings of Jesus, those words also FAIL to show that the GURU VIEW is FALSE. What the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John do show, however, is that we can imagine a Jesus who both did NOT claim to LITERALLY be God and yet who did NOT hold the mystical guru view that all human beings are divine.

This is the view of Jesus presented in the Gospel of John. Whether or not the Gospel of John presents an accurate view of the historical Jesus, it presents a logically possible version of Jesus in which the inference that Kreeft and Tacelli make in the SECOND DILEMMA would be mistaken, and thus the logic of that dilemma is INVALID. In short, the Jesus presented in the Gospel of John provides a CLEAR COUNTEREXAMPLE to the inference made in the SECOND DILEMMA presented by Kreeft and Tacelli.