bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 7: The DOESN’T MATCH THE FACTS Objection (TRF7)

WHERE WE ARE
In the previous six posts of this series, I have shown that at least five out of seven (71%) of Josh McDowell’s objections in The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF) against the Hallucination Theory FAIL:
McDowell has at most provided only two solid objections against the Hallucination Theory, NOT seven.  However, in this current post I will show that Objection TRF7 (Doesn’t Match the Facts) also FAILS.  Thus, at least six out of his seven objections FAIL, at least 85% of his objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL.
 
THE “DOESN’T MATCH THE FACTS” OBJECTION (TRF7)
In TRF McDowell states his seventh objection, Objection TRF7, in a single paragraph consisting of only two sentences:

A final principle is that hallucinations have no spectrum of reality–no objective reality whatsoever.  The hallucination theory in no way accounts for the empty tomb, the broken seal, the guard units, and especially the subsequent actions of the high priests.           (TRF, p.86)

First of all, the claim that hallucinations have “no objective reality” is NOT a general psychological principle.  This is NOT an empirical generalization that psychological experts have arrived at on the basis of observations or experiments.
Of course, McDowell NEVER offers ANY actual evidence for ANY of his alleged “psychological principles”, and he has NO CLUE what psychological experts actually know or believe about hallucinations.  But in lumping this idea (that hallucinations lack objective reality) in with his other alleged “psychological principles” he shows that he doesn’t understand what the hell he is talking about.
The idea that hallucinations are subjective and have “no objective reality” is a conceptual claim, not an empirical claim.  If one is a competent speaker of the English language, then one knows that hallucinations are purely subjective in nature; that is part of the MEANING of the word “hallucination”.  No psychological observations or experiments are required to know this.  But McDowell’s head is too far up a dark place for him to notice the difference between this conceptual claim and the dubious empirical generalizations that most of his other objections are based upon.
Given that McDowell presents this objections in only two sentences, it should come as no surprise that this objection is VERY UNCLEAR.  Given that McDowell subtitled the section where he presents Objection TRF7 as “Doesn’t Match the Facts” (TRF, p.86), he implies that the following four items are each “facts”:

1. the empty tomb

2. the broken seal

3. the guard units

4. the subsequent actions of the high priests

Strictly speaking, these are NOT FACTS.  These are phrases.  These are incomplete sentences.
To be CLEAR, McDowell needs to spell out what specific claims he has in mind here, and that requires spelling out several complete sentences representing the various claims that are summarized by these four phrases.  Because he presents this objection in only two sentences, McDowell FAILS to clearly state the key claims upon which Objection TRF7 is based.
Furthermore, McDowell makes NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to explain HOW or WHY these vaguely hinted at claims are relevant as evidence against the Hallucination Theory.  It is very tempting to conclude that Objection TRF7 FAILS right out of the starting gate because McDowell’s presentation of it is SO UNCLEAR.  However, McDowell discussed these four items earlier in TRF, so with a bit of thought and effort, one might be able to figure out the specific claims that McDowell has in mind here, and at least make educated guesses about HOW or WHY he thinks they constitute significant evidence against the Hallucination Theory.
 
THE PROBLEM OF CONFIRMATION BIAS
Objection TRF7 is at best a WEAK OBJECTION, because it is an example of CONFIRMATION BIAS.  McDowell has selected a few considerations that he believes support his cherished belief that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and/or that he believes cast doubt on the Hallucination Theory.
Two can play this game!  A skeptic can also come up with a list of considerations that seem to support the Hallucination Theory and/or that cast doubt on the Christian view that Jesus physically rose from the dead.  For example, the alleged doubt and disbelief of Jesus’ disciples about Jesus’ rising from the dead appears to provide a strong reason to doubt credibility of the Gospels, which in turn makes it UNREASONABLE to believe that a person rose physically from the dead on the basis of the Gospel accounts (see the section titled “IF PREMISE (3) IS TRUE, THEN WE SHOULD REJECT THE VIEW THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD” in Part 5 of this series where I spell out this line of reasoning).
Furthermore, the Gospels of Mark and Matthew indicate that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his male disciples took place in Galilee a week or more after the crucifixion, while the Gospels of Luke and John indicate that the first appearances of the risen Jesus to his male disciples took place in Jerusalem less than 48 hours after Jesus was crucified.  This is a fundamental disagreement between the Gospels that strongly undermines the credibility of the Gospels, and that is specifically related to the credibility of the Gospels on the key issue of the appearances of the risen Jesus.    McDowell doesn’t include THESE FACTS in his list.  Why not?  Because they run contrary to his desired conclusion!  His list is BIASED in favor of his desired conclusion.
Anyone can generate a list of considerations that support their own point of view about Jesus and the resurrection.  But such a list is NOT an objective or complete list of relevant considerations, and such a list is clearly BIASED in favor of the proponent’s beliefs.  To put forward such a BIASED list of considerations and argue that one’s opponent’s view is wrong because he or she is unable to account for those “facts” is UNREASONABLE; this is an unreasonable approach to a controversial question (i.e. “Did Jesus physically rise from the dead?”).  Objection TRF7 is based on a BIASED list of considerations, and so it is a WEAK OBJECTION at best.
 
ELIMINATION OF ITEM #4: THE SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS OF THE HIGH PRIESTS
First of all, McDowell has provided us with a “padded” list.  The fourth item in his list is REDUNDANT with another item in the list.
When McDowell previously discusses “the subsequent actions of the high priests” in TRF, he was discussing the actions of the high priests subsequent to the alleged events of the first Easter Sunday and to the preaching of the resurrection by Jesus’ disciples.  The reactions of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to the events of the first Easter Sunday and to the preaching of the resurrection by Jesus’ disciples is used by McDowell to argue for “the empty tomb”.
For example, according to McDowell the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (allegedly) claimed that Jesus’ disciples stole his body from the tomb, and McDowell argues that this is evidence that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem believed that the tomb where Jesus had been buried on Friday evening was empty as of Sunday morning. From this he infers that it is certain or nearly certain that Jesus was in fact buried in a stone tomb on Friday evening and that his body was no longer in that tomb as of Sunday morning.
So, we may eliminate Item #4 in McDowell’s list, because its relevance is as evidence for Item #1: “the empty tomb”.  That leaves only three items in his list.
 
ELIMINATION OF ITEM #2 AND ITEM #3: THE GUARD AT THE TOMB
Here are the UNCLEAR phrases that McDowell uses to state the second and third items in his list:

  • the broken seal
  • the guard units

McDowell has previously quoted a story from the Gospel of Matthew about how Pilate orders a unit of soldiers to guard the tomb of Jesus in order to prevent anyone (especially followers of Jesus) from stealing Jesus’ body from the tomb (TRF, pages 54-60, and 64).  In that story, the guards place a seal on the tomb, which was, according to McDowell, a symbol representing the authority of the Roman Empire prohibiting anyone from opening or entering into the tomb, on pain of death by crucifixion.  The seal was allegedly broken when an earthquake took place on Sunday morning that moved the blocking stone from the entrance of Jesus’ tomb, thus allowing the risen Jesus to exit the tomb.
The problem here is simple and straightforward:  These are NOT FACTS!!  They are not even well-supported theories.  These are, rather, very dubious CLAIMS.  Consider this statement by a contemporary scholar about the guard at the tomb story:
If most NT scholars consider the guard at the tomb story in Matthew to be UNHISTORICAL, then Item #2 and Item #3 in McDowell’s list are NOT FACTS, but are very dubious CLAIMS.
Who is this scholar that I quote above?  Is this a liberal or skeptical scholar who rejects miracles and doubts the Christian belief that Jesus rose physically from the dead?  Nope.  This is a quote from a leading Christian apologist, an apologist who specializes in defending the traditional Christian belief that Jesus physically rose from the dead!  This is a quote from Dr. William Lane Craig (see “Questions on the Evidence for the Resurrection” on Craig’s apologetic website).  Given that Craig has a strong bias in favor of the traditional Christian belief that Jesus physically rose from the dead, we have good reason to accept his statement that most NT scholars view the guard at the tomb story as being UNHISTORICAL.
Craig, himself, does not think that the case for this story in Matthew being UNHISTORICAL is conclusive, but he does admit that the evidence casts significant doubt on the historicity of this story:
 
(from “The Guard at the Tomb” by Dr. William Craig)
So, we may eliminate Item #2 and Item #3 in McDowell’s list, because they are NOT FACTS but are DUBIOUS CLAIMS that are rejected or doubted by most NT scholars.  That leaves only ONE item in his list.
 
SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH ITEM#1: THE EMPTY TOMB
It turns out that McDowell does NOT have four considerations in Objection TRF7 that each provide significant evidence against the Hallucination Theory.  It turns out that he has at most just ONE consideration that might provide significant evidence against the Hallucination Theory, namely Item #1: “the empty tomb”.
Recall that this list of considerations is a BIASED list, and so even if “the empty tomb” consideration provides significant evidence against the Hallucination Theory, Objection TRF7 will still be a WEAK OBJECTION, because skeptics can also produced BIASED lists of considerations, some of which provide significant evidence against the Christian view that Jesus physically rose from the dead.
The Meaning of “The Empty Tomb”
The phrase “the empty tomb” requires CLARIFICATION, which McDowell does not bother to provide when he presents Objection TRF7.  However, his previous discussions in TRF related to “the empty tomb” provide information that can be used to infer what he means by this phrase.
McDowell basically tells a STORY about “the empty tomb”, a story that consists of DOZENS of historical claims concerning events that allegedly occurred beginning on Friday when Jesus was crucified, continuing through Sunday night following that Friday, and also (perhaps) including some events that took place weeks later (e.g. the preaching of the apostles about the resurrection of Jesus and the reactions of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to that preaching).  This story told by McDowell is based on his interpretations of various passages from the four Gospels and the book of Acts, plus some additional historical claims and assumptions made by McDowell.
The main problem of clarification is to determine WHICH of the DOZENS of historical claims and assumptions that McDowell makes concerning “the empty tomb” are considered by him to be essential, and which are details that are not essential.  Because McDowell FAILS to provide clarification about the meaning of the phrase “the empty tomb”, I will make an educated guess about which of his many historical claims and assumptions on this subject are essential, and thus constitute the MEANING of this phrase:

  • Joseph of Arimathea was given permission by Pilate to remove the body of Jesus from the cross on Friday afternoon.
  • Joseph of Arimathea removed the body of Jesus from the cross on Friday afternoon, shortly before sunset.
  • Some of the women who were followers of Jesus watched Joseph of Arimathea take the body of Jesus to a nearby stone tomb, and watched Joseph prepare the body for burial, and they watched the body of Jesus being placed in the tomb, and then watched a large blocking stone be moved in place to shut the opening of the tomb, just before sunset on that Friday.
  • On Saturday, Pilate ordered a contingent of soldiers to guard the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed, in order to prevent someone from stealing Jesus’ body.
  • On Saturday, a contingent of soldiers assembled at the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed, in order to place a seal on the tomb and to guard the tomb, in order to prevent someone from stealing Jesus’ body.
  • Early on Sunday morning the blocking stone at the entrance of the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed was moved away from the opening of the tomb, breaking the seal placed on the tomb by the soldiers.
  • Early on Sunday morning, the soldiers who had been assigned to guard the tomb, stopped guarding the tomb, and they left the area where the tomb was located.
  • Early on Sunday morning, a group of women who were followers of Jesus, including some who had watched Jesus’ body being placed into the stone tomb on Friday evening, returned to the tomb.
  • When the group of women arrived at the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed on Friday, they found the large blocking stone moved away from the opening of the tomb, and they found the tomb to be “empty”, that is, they found that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb.
  • Some of the women who went to the tomb early on Sunday morning went back into Jerusalem and told some of Jesus’ male disciples what they had seen.
  • At least two of Jesus’ male disciples (i.e. Peter and John) went to the tomb that day and saw that the tomb was “empty”, that is, they found that Jesus’ body was no longer present in the tomb.

It is my educated guess that these are the bare-bones historical claims that Josh McDowell has in mind when he uses the phrase “the empty tomb”.  This is based on both my reading of McDowell’s “story” about “the empty tomb” as well as my own sense of what is most important and essential among the many historical claims and assumptions asserted by McDowell about “the empty tomb”.
“The Empty Tomb” is NOT a Fact
There are a couple of OBVIOUS reasons for rejecting McDowell’s claim that “the empty tomb” is a FACT.  First, I eliminated the Item #4 from McDowell’s list because it was part of the EVIDENCE that McDowell presented in support of “the empty tomb”.   The giving of EVIDENCE in support of “the empty tomb” indicates that “the empty tomb” is the CONCLUSION arrived at on the basis of various reasons and arguments, which implies that “the empty tomb” is NOT a FACT.
One might argue that “the empty tomb” story as presented by McDowell is TRUE or ACCURATE, but if this is a CONCLUSION based on evaluation and consideration of various reasons and arguments, then “the empty tomb” is more of an INFERENCE or THEORY than a FACT.  A FACT should not require evaluation and consideration of various reasons and arguments.   Rather, FACTS are, or should be, the starting points for use in arriving at CONCLUSIONS or for confirming THEORIES.
When we are talking about historical issues, the use of the word “fact” should be limited to two sorts of considerations: (1) raw historical data (e.g. “The Gospel of Mark states that Mary Magdalene and two other women went to the tomb of Jesus very early on Sunday morning.” This is something we can know by direct observation, by simply reading the Gospel of Mark.), and (2) historical claims that are about events that were (allegedly) directly observed (e.g. “On Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene looked inside of Jesus’ tomb and she saw that Jesus’ body was not present in the tomb.”  We who live two thousand years after these events allegedly took place cannot know this to be true on the basis of direct observation, but this is a claim about what Mary Magdalene learned or believed on the basis of direct observation.)
Inferences and theories are fine, and some inferences and theories are TRUE and ACCURATE, and we can sometimes provide very strong and powerful reasons and arguments showing an inference or theory to be TRUE.  But what we know on the basis of direct observation, and what others learn or believe on the basis of direct observation deserve to be given special respect, and this sort of information should be distinguished from inferences and theories.  Direct observations are NOT infallible.  Observations can be mistaken, misleading, or misremembered, and people can LIE about their own alleged direct observations.  Nevertheless, direct observations deserve respect as our best and most sure guides to reality, as our most important way of testing and evaluating inferences and theories.
So, given that McDowell offers various reasons and arguments in support of “the empty tomb” story, and that those reasons and arguments themselves are based on various alleged historical facts, this clearly indicates that “the empty tomb” is NOT a FACT, but is an inference or theory.
Because “the empty tomb” appears to be a somewhat complex story or account that involves several different historical claims covering various events and details over a period of a few days (at least).   This is not an idea that can be easily proven, and this is not an idea that can be evaluated on the basis of our own direct observations.  We need to gather MANY FACTS, and consider various reasons and arguments based on those FACTS in order to evaluate the truth and accuracy of this complex story about events that took place over two thousand years ago.   Thus, it is at best very misleading to say that “the empty tomb” is a FACT.
Furthermore, there are a number of PROBLEMS and REASONABLE DOUBTS concerning the many historical claims listed above that constitute the idea of “the empty tomb”.  Some NT scholars doubt that Joseph of Arimathea was an actual historical person.  As we have already seen MOST NT scholars doubt the historicity of the guard at the tomb story in Matthew, and thus doubt the historical claims about there being soldiers who guarded the tomb of Jesus.  Some NT scholars doubt that Jesus was buried in a tomb.  Some NT scholars doubt the historicity of the stories about a group of women going to the tomb on Sunday morning and finding it to be empty.  There are a whole lot of reasons and arguments to consider, both for and against the various historical claims that constitute the complex idea of “the empty tomb”.
It is NAIVE to view the evaluation of the historicity and accuracy of this account that McDowell has constructed (based on his own understanding and interpretation of the Gospels) as being simple or straightforward.  This is a complex issue, and it is unlikely that a REASONABLE person will end up concluding that ALL of these various historical claims that McDowell views as essential to “the empty tomb” story are clearly true and that ALL of them are completely accurate.  With such a complex set of historical claims, many of which have been doubted or rejected by competent NT scholars, it is likely that some of the claims are FALSE or DUBIOUS, and thus it is a mistake to say that “the empty tomb” is a FACT.
“The Empty Tomb” is NOT Significant Evidence For the Resurrection Theory
Although the various historical claims that constitute “the empty tomb” story do FIT WITH the Christian belief that Jesus rose physically from the dead, these claims, even if completely true and accurate, do not provide strong evidence for this belief.
Other explanations can be given for “the empty tomb”.  The body of Jesus could have been stolen by Jesus’ disciples (i.e. the twelve), or by some subset of them (one of them, two of them, three of them, etc.), or it could have been stolen by Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (to prevent veneration of the dead body of Jesus) or by some subset of those Jewish leaders (one of them, two of them, etc.), or by anti-Roman Jewish rebels who respected Jesus or who wanted to use the cruel death of Jesus to promote violent rebellion against the Romans.
Jesus could have survived the crucifixion, revived in the tomb on Saturday, and frightened off the Roman guard by yelling from within the tomb, and the blocking stone at the entrance of the tomb could have been moved by Jesus, by an earthquake, by people who were burying a family member in a nearby tomb who heard Jesus yelling from inside his tomb.  According to “the empty tomb” story as outlined above, the women returned to the same tomb where they saw Jesus body placed on Friday evening.  But if we just tweak that one detail, and suppose the women returned to the wrong tomb, we can accept all the rest of “the empty tomb” story, but conclude that Jesus body remained in the tomb where it had been placed on Friday evening.
McDowell would argue that skeptical theories about the body of Jesus being stolen from the tomb or about the women returning to the wrong tomb are all highly improbable.  But I am familiar with the various objections that Christian apologists raise against such skeptical theories, and those objections are just as weak and defective as we have seen most of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory to be.  I won’t go into discussing all of those objections here, but I have carefully examined those objections and all of them FAIL to refute or to seriously damage the stolen-body theories.
One example of a FAILED objection against the view that Jesus’ body was stolen from the tomb is the difficulty of the would-be thieves getting past the soldiers who were guarding Jesus’ tomb.  Although the presence of the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb is part of “the empty tomb” story, as McDowell tells it, this specific part of that story is very dubious, because most NT scholars doubt or reject the guard-at-the-tomb story in the Gospel of Matthew as being UNHISTORICAL.  So, if one maintains “empty tomb story” in general but drops one of the most dubious parts of that story as told by McDowell, and sets aside the guard-at-the-tomb claims, then one of the main objections to the stolen-body theories is no longer supported by “the empty tomb” story.  If McDowell insists that the guard-at-the-tomb claims are an essential part of “the empty tomb” story, then we can reject “the empty tomb” story because it contains dubious historical claims, but if we remove the guard-at-the-tomb claims from “the empty tomb” story, then one of the main objections to stolen-body theories goes away.
Furthermore, if we are allow SUPERNATURAL explanations for “the empty tomb” to be given serious consideration, then there are plenty of alternatives to the Christian SUPERNATURAL explanation:

  • Satan moved the body of Jesus to an unmarked grave hundreds of miles away (perhaps in order to deceive the apostles into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead).
  • Satan destroyed the body of Jesus, using fire to turn the corpse into ashes.
  • God moved the body of Jesus to an unmarked grave hundreds of miles away (perhaps to prevent his followers from venerating Jesus’ body).
  • Angels moved the body of Jesus to the top of the mountain where Moses had received the Ten Commandments, in order to provide a more proper burial for a man they believed to be a great prophet.
  • Angels destroyed the body of Jesus, in an effort to prevent Satan from physically raising Jesus from the dead to deceive his disciples into believing Jesus was the divine Son of God.
  • A wizard caused the body of Jesus to vanish into thin air, or caused the body of Jesus to magically instantaneously move to another tomb.
  • An invisible dragon lifted Jesus onto it’s back, and flew the body of Jesus to Australia, in hopes of absorbing some of Jesus’ magical powers during the long flight.

There is no end to possible SUPERNATURAL explanations for “the empty tomb”.  Once we allow SUPERNATURAL explanations for historical events, there are limitless possibilities to consider.
 
“The Empty Tomb” is NOT Significant Evidence Against the Hallucination Theory
A key question at issue is WHETHER and TO WHAT DEGREE the Hallucination Theory FITS WITH “the empty tomb” historical claims.
First, it should be obvious that there is NO CONTRADICTION between “the empty tomb” story and the Hallucination Theory.  Thus, even if “the empty tomb” story/claims are completely accurate and true, this would NOT disprove nor refute the Hallucination Theory.  The body of Jesus could have been buried in a stone tomb on Friday, and been absent from that tomb on Sunday morning, and this would in no way prevent or preclude some of Jesus’ followers from having hallucinations, including hallucinations of a risen Jesus.
Second, “the empty tomb” story, even if completely accurate and true, does NOT make the Hallucination Theory improbable.  Rather, “the empty tomb” story, if true, provides evidence that supports the Hallucination Theory. 
If Jesus’ followers became convinced that Jesus body was buried in a stone tomb on Friday evening, but was absent from that tomb on Sunday morning, this belief would incline them towards the idea that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.  So, if some of Jesus’ followers experienced hallucinations of Jesus being alive again, their belief in “the empty tomb” story would incline them to interpret those hallucination experiences as evidence that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.  Apart from belief in “the empty tomb” story, they might otherwise interpret hallucinations of a living Jesus as being merely “visions” of Jesus in heaven, or as being experiences of Jesus’ ghost or spirit, as opposed to being experiences of a Jesus who had physically risen from the dead in a body, the same body that had been hanging from the cross on Friday afternoon.
Furthermore, McDowell believes that an hallucination of circumstance C occurring is significantly much more likely when the hallucinator has previously had a wish or expectation that circumstance C occur. If this psychological principle is true, and  if Jesus’ disciples believed “the empty tomb” story, this belief would incline them towards wishing that Jesus had risen from the dead, or expecting to meet or see the risen Jesus.  Given this psychological principle that McDowell believes and advocates,  the truth and accuracy of “the empty tomb” claims would make it more likely that some of his disciples would experience hallucinations of a risen Jesus.
So, if we accept the “psychological principle” that McDowell advocates about how hallucinations are usually produced by wishes or expectations, then we should also view the truth of “the empty tomb” claims as providing evidence that supports the Hallucination Theory, evidence that makes it more likely that some of Jesus’ followers experienced hallucinations of a risen Jesus, when there was no actual risen Jesus to see or hear.
The Resurrection Does NOT Explain the Empty Tomb
I think the main idea behind Objection TRF7 (“Doesn’t Match the Facts”) is the belief that the physical resurrection of Jesus explains some “facts” that the Hallucination Theory does not explain, and thus in order to explain those “facts” skeptics must add additional assumptions beyond just the claims made by the Hallucination Theory, and that Christians who believe and defend the view that Jesus physically rose from the dead do not have to add additional assumptions to that view in order to explain those “facts”.  In the case of “the empty tomb”, the idea is thus that belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus explains “the empty tomb”, but the Hallucination Theory does NOT explain “the empty tomb”, so skeptics are forced to accept additional assumptions (e.g. to add assumptions about how the body of Jesus was stolen from the tomb by some person or group) in order to explain “the empty tomb”.
While it is true that the Hallucination Theory does not by itself explain “the empty tomb” claims, it is ALSO the case that the belief that Jesus rose physically from the dead does not by itself explain “the empty tomb” claims.
For example, Jesus coming back to life inside the tomb does NOT explain how the large blocking stone was moved from the entrance of the tomb, so that Jesus could exit the tomb and leave it “empty”.  If one adds the assumption that Jesus was omnipotent and could move the stone with just a thought, then one could explain that the risen Jesus used his omnipotence to make the large stone move away from the entrance of the tomb.  But this is an added assumption to the view that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and this assumption is an extraordinary and highly controversial one.
Alternatively, one could add the assumption that Jesus had a new body that had the supernatural ability to pass through solid objects, and then explain that Jesus was able to leave the tomb by simply passing through the stone with his new supernatural body.  But this adds an additional assumption beyond the view that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and this assumption is an extraordinary and highly controversial one.
Another explanation that could be made is that two angels descended from heaven and caused and earthquake in order to move the stone away from the entrance to the tomb, thus allowing the risen Jesus to simply walk out of the tomb.  But this requires additional assumptions beyond the view that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and these additional assumptions are extraordinary and highly controversial ones.
In short, the view that Jesus rose physically from the dead does NOT by itself explain “the empty tomb” claims, and so it is unclear why we should accept the claim that the view that Jesus rose physically from the dead “Matches the Facts” related to “the empty tomb” but the Hallucination Theory does not.  BOTH theories require additional assumptions in order to explain “the empty tomb”.   Furthermore, it looks like the additional assumptions used by Christians to explain “the empty tomb” are extraordinary and highly controversial, but the additional assumptions used by skeptics who defend the Hallucination Theory are not extraordinary and are only somewhat controversial.
 
CONCLUSION
We can eliminate Item #4 from McDowell’s list of “FACTS” with which the Hallucination Theory allegedly does not “MATCH”, because that item is redundant with Item #1 (the empty tomb).  We can also eliminate Item #2 ( the broken seal) and Item #3 (the guard units), because these items are clearly NOT FACTS.  That leaves us with only ONE item: Item #1: “the empty tomb” story, which is a complex set of several historical claims.
I argued that “the empty tomb” story is NOT a FACT, that it does NOT provide strong evidence for Christian view that Jesus rose physically from the dead, and that the “empty tomb story” not only FAILS to refute or disprove the Hallucination Theory, but that it FAILS to make the Hallucination Theory improbable, and in fact provides additional support for the Hallucination Theory. Also, the Christian theory that Jesus physically rose from the dead does NOT by itself explain “the empty tomb”, but like the Hallucination Theory, requires some additional assumptions, which in the case of the Christian theory are both extraordinary and highly controversial assumptions.
Finally, even if “the empty tomb” story did provide significant evidence AGAINST the Hallucination Theory, Objection TRF7 would still FAIL to be a strong and solid objection, because of the problem of CONFIRMATION BIAS.  Skeptics can play the same game as McDowell and come up with a list of considerations that cast doubt on the Christian view that Jesus physically rose from the dead, and at least some of those considerations will provide significant evidence AGAINST the Christian belief that Jesus physically rose from the dead.
I conclude that Objection TRF7 FAILS, and thus that at least six out of seven of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL, and thus at least 85% of his objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL.

At best, only ONE of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory is a good and solid objection (TRF2: Very Personal).  I will take a closer look at Objection TRF2 in the next part of this series of posts.
 

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 6: The NO FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES Objection (TRF4)

WHERE WE ARE
In the previous five posts of this series, I have shown that the best case scenario (for Christian apologetics) is that MOST of Josh McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory in his book The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF) are WORTHLESS CRAP:

One problem that I pointed out with Objection TRF5 (No Expectancy) is that the word “usually” in the revised and improved version of that objection is VAGUE.  My use of the word “MOST” is similarly vague, but I can quantify my point in a fairly precise way.  At least four out of seven of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP, which means that at least 57% of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP.
Furthermore, (***SPOILER ALERT***) after taking a few minutes to read and think about Objection TRF4 (No Favorable Circumstances), I realized that this objection was also a stinking pile of WORTHLESS CRAP.  So, now I am confident that at least five out of seven of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP.  That means that at least 71% of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP!
It is tempting to conclude that ALL of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP.  However, I intentionally saved his best objections for last.  The final two objections raised by McDowell are not as clearly and obviously mistaken as the previous objections, at least in my view.  So, it is still possible that McDowell has one or two solid objections against the Hallucination Theory.  But neither of the remaining two objections strike me as strong or solid objections, so I won’t be surprised if, on closer examination, they also turn out to be WORTHLESS CRAP.
In any case, if I am correct at least 71% of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory are WORTHLESS CRAP,  it appears that he is about as bad at identifying good arguments as are the apologists Peter Kreeft and Norman Geisler.  These three Christian apologists have almost NO ABILITY to distinguish between a good argument and a bad one (or else they simply don’t care about the quality of their arguments).
I suspect that their inability to distinguish between a good argument and a bad one is largely the result of decades of experience preaching to the choir.  White Evangelical Christians are, in general, dumber than a sack of hammers, and have little intellectual ability or objectivity.  The audience that these apologists write for, and speak to, will gladly accept ANY arguments for Christian beliefs, no matter how crappy and pathetic those arguments might be.  Because their audience is without intellectual ability or integrity, these apologists never needed to learn how to distinguish between a good argument and a bad one.  The Evangelicals that they preach to are just as happy with crappy and defective arguments for their beliefs as they are with solid and logical arguments for those beliefs.
 
PROBLEM #1 WITH TRF4 (NO FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES): VAGUENESS & UNCLARITY
McDowell’s general approach in his attempt to refute the Hallucination Theory is to make use of a psychological principle or an empirical generalization concerning hallucinations and then argue that the circumstances of the “appearances” of the risen Jesus don’t fit the conditions/requirements described by one of those psychological principles:

Why is the hallucination theory so weak? 
First, it contradicts various conditions which most psychiatrists and psychologists agree must  be present to have a hallucination. (TRF, p.84)

Objection TRF4 fits this general strategy adopted by McDowell.  Here is how he describes the psychological principle used in this “No Favorable Circumstances” objection:

Another principle of hallucinations is that they usually are restricted as to when and where they can happen. In the New Testament situations, favorable circumstances are missing. …

…Indeed, the variety of times and places of Christ’s appearances defies the hypothesis that they were mere visions.                                    (TRF, p.85)

This alleged “psychological principle” is so VAGUE and UNCLEAR that McDowell’s claim that it represents “conditions which most psychiatrists and psychologists agree must be present to have a hallucination” is clearly and obviously pure BULLSHIT.
I doubt that any psychological expert on hallucinations would ever publish a scientific article in a peer-reviewed journal or book that contained such a VAGUE and UNCLEAR “psychological principle”, but I’m absolutely certain that such a VAGUE and UNCLEAR statement would never in a million years be accepted by “most psychiatrists and psychologists”.  This alleged “psychological principle” is an idea that only an audience of brain-dead White Evangelical Christians would find reasonable.
There are actually two VAGUE principles asserted by McDowell above:

Restricted Times Principle:  Hallucinations usually are restricted as to when they can happen.

Restricted Places Principle:  Hallucinations usually are restricted as to where they can happen.

As we previously saw with the revised first premise of Objection TRF5 (No Expectancy), the term “usually” is very VAGUE.  Does this mean “more than 50% of hallucinations” or “more than 60% of hallucinations” or “more than 70% of hallucinations” or “more than 80% of hallucinations” or “more than 90% of hallucinations”?  There is  a huge difference between “more than 50% of hallucinations” being restricted to certain times, as compared with “more than 90% of hallucinations” being restricted to certain times.  Furthermore, even if we are talking about 70% or 80% of hallucinations being restricted to certain times, this objection would be weak, because that means that 2 or 3 out of 10 hallucinations could occur outside of those certain times, without there being ANY conflict with this supposed “principle”!
Next, the phrase “restricted as to when they can happen” is itself very VAGUE and UNCLEAR.  Is McDowell talking about time of day? (e.g. morning, afternoon, evening, nighttime) or time of the month? (e.g. early in the month, middle of the month, last week of the month) or time of the year? (e.g. winter, spring, summer, fall)?  Or is he talking about the cycle of daily events? (e.g. while eating breakfast, while taking a shower, while getting dressed,  while driving to work, while at work, while driving home, while eating supper, while getting ready for bed, while going to sleep, etc.)
Although McDowell does not specify this, it seems that he had in mind restrictions as to the time of day (e.g. morning, afternoon, evening, nighttime), because he mentions that there was one “early morning appearance” of the risen Jesus, and that there were a couple of appearances “in broad daylight” (TRF, p.85).  Assuming this is what he had in mind, McDowell doesn’t bother to tell us what the “proper” times are for hallucinations to occur.
Do hallucinations usually happen in the “early morning”?  If so, then why mention the examples of appearances of Jesus in the morning?  Do hallucinations usually happen in the afternoon?  If so, then why mention examples of appearances of Jesus “in broad daylight” (suggesting late morning or afternoon).  Because he FAILS to specify the time of day (or times of day) when hallucinations “usually” happen, his alleged “psychological principle” is WORTHLESS for use in evaluation of the Hallucination Theory.
McDowell’s Restricted Places Principle is also very VAGUE and UNCLEAR, and thus WORTHLESS for use in evaluating the Hallucination Theory:

Restricted Places Principle:  Hallucinations usually are restricted as to where they can happen.

What sort of restriction does McDowell have in mind here?  He does not say.  Does he think hallucinations usually occur in California but not in Florida or Texas?  That is absurd and obviously false. Does he think that hallucinations usually occur in grocery stores and restaurants but not in department stores or gas stations?  That is equally ridiculous.  Does he think hallucinations usually occur in dining rooms and living rooms but not in kitchens or bathrooms?  Does he think that hallucinations usually occur on land but not at sea and not on lakes or rivers?  Does he think that hallucinations usually occur in valleys but not on hills or mountains?  What the HELL are the “restrictions” on the location where hallucinations occur?  Why would hallucinations be impacted by location or geography anyway?  This “psychological principle” is so VAGUE and UNCLEAR that it is WORTHLESS for use in evaluating the Hallucination Theory. 
So, both of the “psychological principles” that are the foundation of Objection TRF4 are WORTHLESS for use in evaluating the Hallucination Theory, and therefore this objection FAILS.
 
PROBLEM #2 WITH TRF4 (NO FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES): ZERO EVIDENCE
The extreme VAGUENESS and UNCLARITY of McDowell’s two “psychological principles” upon which Objection TRF4 are based, strongly indicates that his claim that these principles describe “conditions which most psychiatrists and psychologists agree must be present to have a hallucination” is pure BULLSHIT.
In order to provide actual EVIDENCE that these two alleged “psychological principles” are widely accepted by psychological experts (or that these principles are true), McDowell would need to provide several quotations from peer-reviewed scientific articles and/or books written by various psychological experts who have specific knowledge about hallucinations and the causes of hallucinations.

  • How many psychological experts does McDowell quote in support of these two “psychological principles” in The Resurrection Factor ZERO! 
  • How many psychological experts does McDowell quote in support of these two “psychological principles” in Evidence that Demands a Verdict? ZERO!
  • How many psychological experts does McDowell quote in support of these two “psychological principles” in Evidence for the Resurrection? ZERO!
  • How many psychological experts does McDowell quote in support of these two “psychological principles” in The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict? ZERO!

In short, McDowell makes no effort whatsoever to provide any actual EVIDENCE to support these two key factual claims upon which Objection TRF4 is based. Given that these claims are so VAGUE and UNCLEAR that it is practically certain that they do NOT describe “conditions which most psychiatrists and psychologists agree must be present to have a hallucination”, the complete and total lack of relevant EVIDENCE is more than enough reason to seriously doubt and reject the two alleged “psychological principles” behind Objection TRF4, and therefore this objection FAILS.
 
PROBLEM #3 WITH TRF4 (NO FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES):  CLARIFICATION RESULTS IN FAILURE
McDowell did not originate Objection TRF4.  He learned this objection from another Christian apologist named J.N.D. Anderson.  In Evidence that Demands a Verdict, when McDowell presents Objection TRF4, he cites a long essay written by Anderson called The Evidence for the Resurrection, which was first published in 1950, more than twenty years prior to publication of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and more than thirty years prior to publication of The Resurrection Factor.
In fact, five out of the seven objections that McDowell raises against the Hallucination Theory came from Anderson’s long essay (TRF1, TRF2, TRF4, TRF5, and TRF6).  The contents of the objections by Anderson not only closely parallel the objections as stated by McDowell in TRF, but they occur in nearly same order in Anderson’s essay on the resurrection as in McDowell’s The Resurrection Factor. (NOTE: the same five objections are also found in Know Why You Believe by Paul Little and they also occur in nearly the same order as in Anderson’s essay, but Know Why You Believe was first published in 1967, so Anderson’s essay was probably the original source of these objections for both McDowell and Little.)
I read Anderson’s presentation of Objection TRF4 (No Favorable Circumstances) to see if it shed any light on the VAGUE and UNCLEAR “psychological principles” that this objection is based upon.  Anderson’s discussion and use of the Restricted Times Principle is quite revealing:

In this context, the phrase “psychic experiences” refers to hallucinations.  Unlike McDowell, Anderson actually SPECIFIES EXAMPLES of times when hallucinations “usually occur”: (a) evening, (b) night, and (c) early morning.  The problem here is that these periods of time account for a significant portion of the hours in a day.  What is left out is late morning and early afternoon.  But Anderson FAILS to explicitly state that it is unusual for hallucinations to occur in late morning or in the early afternoon.  He only provides us with some examples of periods of time when hallucinations (allegedly) “usually occur”.  But what we really need to know is the times of day when hallucinations usually DO NOT occur!
Furthermore, most of the examples of appearances of Jesus that Anderson provides as evidence against the Hallucination Theory are appearances that occurred during the very times of day that Anderson tells us are when hallucinations “usually occur”!  He mentions an appearance of the risen Jesus in “an upper room at evening”, but evening is one of the times of day when Anderson says hallucinations “usually occur”.  He mentions an appearance of the risen Jesus at “the tomb in the early morning”, but early morning is one of the times of day when he says hallucinations “usually occur”.  He mentions an appearance of the risen Jesus during “a morning’s fishing on the lake”, but he says that early morning is one of the times of day when hallucinations “usually occur”.  Anderson mentions only ONE appearance of the risen Jesus that does not occur during one of the times of day that he stated as being when hallucinations “usually occur”: an appearance that happened during “an afternoon’s walk in the country”.  Anderson does NOT state that it is unusual or uncommon for hallucinations to occur in the afternoon.
But even if Anderson intended to claim that MOST hallucinations occur in the evening, night, or early morning, and that it is uncommon for hallucinations to occur in the afternoon, the examples of appearances of the risen Jesus that are given by Anderson FIT THAT PROFILE!  Most of his examples are appearances that occurred in the evening, night, or early morning. Only one example that he gives is an appearance that took place in the afternoon.  So, the examples that Anderson provides UNDERMINE his own objection; the examples of alleged appearances of the risen Jesus conform to the Restricted Times Principle  that Anderson uses in his presentation of Objection TRF4.
So, we can either stick with McDowell’s version of the Restricted Times Principle and  conclude that  Objection TRF4 FAILS because it is so VAGUE and UNCLEAR that it is WORTHLESS for use in evaluating the Hallucination Theory, or else we can go back to the original presentation of Objection TRF4 in Anderson’s essay (The Evidence for the Resurrection), which presents a clearer and somewhat more useful version of the Restricted Times Principle, and then reasonably conclude that the Hallucination Theory is NOT contrary to this principle, and thus that Objection TRF4 FAILS.  Either way, the objection FAILS.
 
CONCLUSION
Objection TRF4  (No Favorable Circumstances) is the fourth objection against the Hallucination Theory presented by Josh McDowell in The Resurrection Factor, and it is the fifth objection from McDowell that I have examined so far.  I have given three good reasons showing that this objection FAILS.
First, the alleged “psychological principles” upon which this objection is based are very VAGUE and UNCLEAR, making those principles WORTHLESS for an evaluation of the Hallucination Theory.  Second, McDowell provides ZERO evidence in support of his two key “psychological principles”.  Third, this objection originated (for McDowell) with the 1950 essay The Evidence for the Resurrection by J.N.D. Anderson, and that essay provides a somewhat clearer and more useful version of one of McDowell’s “psychological principles” (i.e. the Restricted Times Principle).  But Anderson’s application of that clarified principle reveals (contrary to what Anderson believed) that the alleged appearances of the risen Jesus are NOT contrary to, or in conflict with, that supposed psychological principle.  So, if we clarify that key psychological principle according to how this objection was originally presented by Anderson, then the objection still FAILS.
I conclude that Objection TRF4  (No Favorable Circumstances) FAILS.  In Part 1 through Part 6 of this series, I have now shown that five out of seven (or at least 71%) of McDowell’s objections against the Hallucination Theory FAIL:

That leaves us with only Objection TRF2 and Objection TRF7.  Although there is still a chance that one or both of those objections is a good and solid objection to the Hallucination Theory, the fact that five out of seven of McDowell’s objections have FAILED is a clear indication that McDowell has little or no ability to distinguish between a good argument and a bad one (or else that he just doesn’t give a damn about the quality of his arguments).
Also, given that no other Christian apologists who present similar objections against the Hallucination Theory provide any relevant EVIDENCE to support the alleged “psychological principles” upon which these objections are based, we can also reasonably conclude that many (most?) Christian apologists either lack the ability to distinguish between a good argument and a bad one or else they just don’t give a damn about the quality of their arguments.

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 5: The Failure of NO EXPECTANCY Objection (TRF5)

WHERE WE ARE
TRF5 is the fifth objection presented by Josh McDowell against the Hallucination Theory in his book The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF).
The objection TRF5 can be stated in terms of a brief argument:

1. Hallucinations REQUIRE that a person who has an hallucination of circumstance C previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, to which the hallucination provides an imaginary fulfilment (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

2. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples had experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead.

3. After Jesus’ crucifixion and prior to Jesus’ disciples having experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead, his disciples did NOT have a hopeful expectation or wish that Jesus would rise from the dead and be alive again.

THEREFORE:

4. After Jesus’ crucifixion, the experiences of Jesus’ disciples of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead were NOT hallucinations. 

This argument is UNSOUND because premise (1) is clearly FALSE, as I argued in Part 3 of this series.  So TRF5 as presented in TRF, is a complete FAILURE.
However, in a more recent book called Evidence for the Resurrection (hereafter: EFR), McDowell significantly modifies his psychological generalization about hallucinations, making it less vulnerable to obvious counterexamples.  Here is the relevant modification of premise (1):

1a. It is USUALLY the case that when a person has an hallucination that seems to be of circumstance C (or that seems to confirm circumstance C), that person has previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, so that the hallucination provides an imaginary fulfilment of that wish (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

In Part 4 of this series, I pointed out four problems with this modified premise:

PROBLEM #1: The qualified version of this psychological generalization in EFR is VAGUE.

PROBLEM #2: Because ZERO EVIDENCE was provided to support this psychological generalization, we have no reasonable basis for clarifying the meaning of the VAGUE term “usually”.

PROBLEM #3: It is OBVIOUS that a significant portion of hallucinations are NOT based upon “hopeful expectancy” and “wishes”, so the qualifier “usually” cannot be stronger than something like “about 70 percent of hallucinations” are based upon hopeful expectancy and wishes.

PROBLEM #4: Given that we should interpret “usually” as meaning something no stronger than “about 70% of hallucinations” are based upon hopeful expectancy or wishes, the conclusion of objection PF5 must be seriously revised to make a much weaker claim.

There is a fifth problem with premise (1a) that is similar to my main complaint about Objection TRF1 (Only Certain People).  McDowell is assuming a fairly narrow definition of “hallucination” here, but in order for his case for the resurrection to work, he needs to refute explanations that are based on experiences that are similar to hallucinations, but that are not considered to be “hallucinations” in the narrower sense of this term.
Specifically, McDowell needs to refute DREAM experiences as a skeptical explanation for the resurrection “appearances” of Jesus.  The above argument, at best, only works against skeptical theories that focus exclusively on “hallucinations” understood in a narrow way (like the sort of non-veridical experiences that occur only with serious mental illness or with use of hallucinogenic drugs).  Premise (1a) doesn’t work, if we substitute “dream” for “hallucination” in that premise:

1b. It is USUALLY the case that when a person has a dream that seems to be of circumstance C (or that seems to confirm circumstance C), that person has previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, so that the dream provides an imaginary fulfilment of that wish (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

In addition to our ordinary experiences of dreams, we have scientific data that shows that a significant portion of dreams are bad dreams, and thus do NOT constitute the results of a hopeful expectation or wish for the circumstance that appears to occur in the dream (see Part 4 of this series for details).
We have good reason to believe that LESS THAN 60% of dreams are the result of a hopeful expectation or wish for a particular circumstance.  About 40% of dreams are bad dreams, and about 60% are not bad dreams.  Just because a dream is NOT bad, does not mean that it was produced by a hopeful expectation or wish for the circumstance represented in the dream.  So, in terms of dreams, the most one could plausibly claim is that a little more than half of dreams are good dreams that were produced by a previous hopeful expectation or wish.  But that is clearly too weak a claim to provide any sort of serious objection against the skeptical theory that dream experiences of a risen Jesus had by some of Jesus’s followers after his crucifixion resulted in the early Christian belief that Jesus had physically risen from the dead.
So, the revised argument for Objection TRF5 FAILS, because of serious problems with the revised premise (1a).
In Part 4 of this series , I briefly argued that premise (2) of the argument for Objection TRF5 is dubious.
Premise (3) of the argument for Objection TRF5 is also dubious, for the same reasons that I gave concerning premise (2).
 

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, c. 1602

John 20:24-25, New Revised Standard Version

 
IF PREMISE (3) IS TRUE, THEN WE SHOULD REJECT THE VIEW THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Finally, if we grant the questionable claim in premise (3) that Jesus’ “disciples did NOT have a hopeful expectation or wish that Jesus would rise from the dead and be alive again”, then this provides a powerful reason to reject the Christian claim that Jesus actually rose from the dead.
Luke 24:1-11, New Revised Standard Version

If Jesus’ disciples had no wish or expectation that he would literally rise from the dead, then that implies that his disciples were NOT eyewitnesses of the many amazing miracles that are described in the four Gospels, including events where Jesus allegedly raised people from the dead.  It is highly implausible that devoted followers of Jesus who witnessed Jesus walk on water, turn water into wine, feed thousands of people with a few fishes and loaves of bread, instantly calm a raging storm with a shouted command, heal blind and deaf people, and even raise the dead, would completely disbelieve Jesus’ promise that he would rise from the dead, and have no wish or expectation that he would in fact rise from the dead.
Matthew 28:1-8 and 16-17, New Revised Standard Version

So, if premise (3) were TRUE, then we would have a very powerful reason to believe that the Gospel accounts that describe several amazing miracles being performed by Jesus and witnessed by his disciples are FICTIONAL stories.  But if the Gospel accounts are filled with such FICTIONAL stories about Jesus performing miracles, then the Gospel accounts have ZERO CREDIBILTY, or at least fall far short of the degree of credibility required to provide reasonable evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.  If premise (3) were TRUE, then we must conclude that the Gospel stories about the alleged resurrection of Jesus are largely or entirely FICTIONAL, and that no such event took place.
Note: I owe this objection against premise (3) to The Atheist Debater’s Handbook (see page 120).
 
CONCLUSION 
Objection TRF5 FAILS to refute the Hallucination Theory.  Objection TRF5 can be summarized in terms of an argument consisting of three premises and a conclusion.  The original version of Objection TRF5 given in The Resurrection Factor FAILS completely, because premise (1) is clearly and obviously FALSE.
This premise is significantly modified in the version of Objection TRF5 given in the later book Evidence for the Resurrection.  However, all three premises of the modified version of Objection TRF5 are DUBIOUS, and if we interpret premise (1a) so that the psychological generalization in it has some degree of plausibility, the generalization becomes so weak that it is no longer capable of providing a serious objection against the Hallucination Theory.  Finally, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that a key assumption of premise (3) is TRUE, then this provides a powerful reason for rejecting the Christian view that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 4: More Problems with Objection TRF5

WHERE WE ARE
TRF5 is the fifth objection presented by Josh McDowell against the Hallucination Theory in his book The Resurrection Factor (hereafter: TRF).
The objection TRF5 can be stated in terms of a brief argument:

1. Hallucinations REQUIRE that a person who has an hallucination of circumstance C previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, to which the hallucination provides an imaginary fulfilment (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

2. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples had experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead.

3. After Jesus’ crucifixion and prior to Jesus’ disciples having experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead, his disciples did NOT have a hopeful expectation or wish that Jesus would rise from the dead and be alive again.

THEREFORE:

4. After Jesus’ crucifixion, the experiences of Jesus’ disciples of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead were NOT hallucinations. 

In Part 3 of this series, I argued that there were at least three problems with premise (1) of this argument:

PROBLEM #1: McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5.

PROBLEM #2: Other apologists who make this objection also provide ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5.

PROBLEM #3: The psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5 is clearly and obviously FALSE.

Those problems are sufficient to show that TRF5 is a weak and defective objection against the Hallucination Theory, and that it FAILS to refute, or even to seriously damage, the Hallucination Theory.
 
A MODIFICATION OF PREMISE (1)
It appears, however, that McDowell at some point realized that premise (1) of his argument was FALSE, because he modified that premise in the more recent presentation of this objection in his book Evidence for the Resurrection (hereafter: EFR).  McDowell revised the psychological generalization that he bases this objection upon so that it was no longer obviously FALSE:

A fourth principle is that hallucinations usually come to people with an anticipating spirit or hopeful expectancy that causes their wishes to become the stimulus of the hallucinatory illusion. (EFR, p.209, emphasis added)

Now instead of “hopeful expectancy” about a circumstance C being REQUIRED (i.e. being a necessary condition) for the production of an hallucination in which circumstance C occurs or is confirmed, the generalization is significantly weakened to the idea that this is USUALLY the case with hallucinations.  So, the fact that hallucinations are often unpleasant or frightening is no longer a clearcut counterexample to the psychological generalization.
We can modify premise (1) of the above argument to reflect this significant modification of the original psychological “principle” that was stated in TRF:

1a. It is USUALLY the case that when a person has an hallucination that seems to be of circumstance C (or that seems to confirm circumstance C), that person has previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, so that the hallucination provides an imaginary fulfilment of that wish (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

 
PROBLEMS WITH PREMISE (1a)
PROBLEM #1: The qualified version of this psychological generalization in EFR is VAGUE.
What does “usually” mean?  Because of this qualification, premise (1a) is VAGUE.  Does it mean that such hopeful expectancy precedes an hallucination in “more than 50%” of hallucinations?  or that such hopeful expectancy precedes an hallucination in “more than 60%” of hallucinations? or “more than 70% of hallucinations”? or “more than 80% of hallucinations”? or “more than 90%” of hallucinations?
If the claim is merely that hopeful expectancy precedes an hallucination in “more than 50%” of hallucinations, then this principle is too weak to be of any significance in this context.  If the claim is merely that hopeful expectancy precedes an hallucination in “more than 60%” of hallucinations, then this principle is still too weak to be of significance.
In order for objection TRF5 to be a strong objection against the Hallucination Theory, I would expect the psychological generalization or principle to be at least in the 90% range, so that hopeful expectancy of circumstance C precedes at least 90% of hallucinations in which circumstance C seems to occur in the hallucination (or in which circumstance C seems to be confirmed in the hallucination).  For example, if only about 80% of hallucinations have this character, then that means that about 20% of hallucinations (2 out of 10 hallucinations) LACK this character.  That would make this a fairly WEAK objection to the Hallucination Theory.
PROBLEM #2: Because ZERO EVIDENCE was provided to support this psychological generalization, we have no reasonable basis for clarifying the meaning of the VAGUE term “usually”.
Because McDowell and his fellow Christian apologists have provided ZERO EVIDENCE from psychological studies or experts in support of his psychological generalization, we have no clue how to interpret the VAGUE term “usually”.    Given that there are no facts provided in support of the claim, the term “usually” might well mean only that “more than 50%” of hallucinations have this character of being preceded by a hopeful expectancy of the circumstance that seems to occur (or be confirmed) in the hallucination.
Furthermore, since it is clear that McDowell and his fellow Christian apologists MADE NO EFFORT to study scientific articles and books about hallucinations authored by recognized psychological experts, McDowell and his fellow Christian apologists had NO FACTUAL DATA in front of them to shape their own understanding of the strength of the term “usually” in the psychological generalization upon which TRF5 is based.  They basically just made this claim up without having any actual facts or data.  This psychological generalization is pure bullshit.  So, they themselves might well have no clue as to how to clarify the meaning of the term “usually” in this context.
Since they have NO FACTUAL DATA to support their psychological generalization, they have no justification for making even the very weak claim that “more than 50%” of hallucinations have the character that they claim.
PROBLEM #3: It is OBVIOUS that a significant portion of hallucinations are NOT based upon “hopeful expectancy” and “wishes”, so the qualifier “usually” cannot be stronger than something like “about 70 percent of hallucinations” are based upon hopeful expectancy and wishes.
Because we are all aware that hallucinations are often unpleasant or frightening, it is VERY UNLIKELY that the strong claim that “more than 90%” of hallucinations are the result of a hopeful expectation of circumstances that the hallucination appears to manifest or confirm.  At most, it might be the case that the term “usually” can be interpreted as meaning that “about 70%” of hallucinations have this character.  But in that case objection TRF5 is a rather WEAK objection, since it allows that about 3 out of 10 hallucinations LACK this specified character.
Furthermore, since McDowell and his fellow apologists have no facts or data to support even the much weaker claim that “more than 50%” of hallucinations were the result of previous “hopeful expectancy” or “wishes” in the mind of the person who has the hallucination, the claim that “about 70%” of hallucinations have this character is very dubious.  So, if we clarify “usually” to mean that “about 70%” of hallucinations have this character, then objection TRF5 has at least two different dubious aspects: (1) the assumption that this psychological generalization is true, and (2) even if it were true it is too weak to constitute a strong objection against the Hallucination Theory.
I have not been able to find data about what proportion of hallucinations are unpleasant or frightening.  But clearly even if most hallucinations are pleasant and NOT frightening, “bad trips” occur often when people use hallucinogenic drugs, so we can reasonably infer that a significant portion of drug-induced hallucinations are unpleasant or frightening.
I have, however, found some data on the prevalence of bad dreams, which supports the view that a significant portion of hallucinations are unpleasant or frightening.  Dreams and hallucinations are different phenomena, but in both of these phenomena our minds and imaginations appear to draw upon our previous experiences and feelings to generate visual and emotional experiences that seem real but that are purely subjective.  If a significant portion of our dreams are unpleasant or frightening, then it is reasonable to infer that a significant portion of hallucinations are probably unpleasant or frightening, especially given that we already know that “bad trips” or unpleasant or frightening hallucinations often occur when people take hallucinogenic drugs.
NIGHTMARES ARE COMMON
Psychologists usually distinguish between “nightmares” and “bad dreams”.  Nightmares are basically bad dreams that result in the dreamer waking up. Nightmares are a fairly common experience, especially for children.  One out of four children have nightmares more than once a week:

Children ages 8 to 14 report having had 11 nightmares (on average) in the previous year:

 
But nightmares are also common for college students:

College students report having had 9 nightmares (on average) in the past year:

So, both children (ages 8 to 14) and college students report that they had roughly 10 nightmares in the past year.  However, when children (aged 8 to 14) kept daily journals of their dreams, they recorded an average of about 1 nightmare in two weeks, and when college students kept daily journals of their dreams, they too recorded an average of about 1 nightmare in two weeks.  That means that both children and college students seriously under report the number of nightmares they had for the past year.  Based on daily dream journals, both children and college students have about two dozen nightmares a year, on average:
Adults aged 40 and above report having far fewer nightmares a year than what children and college students report:

However, given that both children and college students seriously under report the number of nightmares they had in the past year, adults 40 and older probably also under report the number of nightmares they had in the past year.  In any case, up to 85% of adults report having had at least one nightmare in the past year, and between 8% and 29% report having monthly nightmares, and between 2% and 6% of adults report having weekly nightmares:

A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF DREAMS ARE BAD DREAMS
Nightmares are fairly common, but since all nightmares are bad dreams, but some bad dreams are NOT nightmares (because some bad dreams don’t result in the dreamer waking up), it follows that there are more bad dreams than nightmares, and thus that bad dreams are even more common than nightmares.
One scientific experiment about bad dreams involved waking several subjects up several times each night and then asking them if they remember dreaming and if so whether they experienced fear in the dream.  The results of this experiment showed that a significant portion of the remembered dreams were “bad dreams” in that the dreamer felt fear in the dream.  Here is an excerpt from the article describing some results of that experiment:

In this experiment there was a total of 66 dream reports where the subject remembered the content of his/her dream. In 26 of those dream reports the subject reports the experience of fear in the dream (in about 39% of dreams), and in 40 of the dream reports, the subject reports not having fear (in about 61% of dreams).  So, in this experiment about 4 out of 10 dreams involved the experience of fear, and about 6 out of 10 dreams did NOT involve the experience of fear.  Since the experience of fear in a dream generally correlates with having a “bad dream”, about 4 out of 10 dreams in this experiment were bad dreams.
Because this experiment only involved a small number of subjects, we cannot confidently infer that in general 4 out of 10 dreams that people have are bad dreams.  However, this scientific data does confirm what was already a plausible hypothesis based on ordinary experience: people often have bad dreams, and it is reasonable to infer that a significant portion of our dreams are bad dreams, are dreams that are unpleasant or frightening.
Given that people who take hallucinogenic drugs often have “bad trips”, we can reasonably infer that a significant portion of drug-induced hallucinations are unpleasant or frightening.  And given the additional assumption that a significant portion of dreams are “bad dreams” (i.e. involve unpleasant or frightening experiences), we have very good reason to suspect that a significant portion of hallucinations in general are of an unpleasant or frightening character.  Thus, we have very good reason to suspect that a significant portion of hallucinations in general are NOT the result of “hopeful expectancy” or “wishes” on the part of the person who had the hallucination, even if it were true that MOST hallucinations (i.e. more than 50% of them) are the result of “hopeful expectancy” or “wishes” on the part of the person who had the hallucination.
PROBLEM #4: Given that we should interpret “usually” as meaning something no stronger than “about 70% of hallucinations” are based upon hopeful expectancy or wishes, the conclusion of objection PF5 must be seriously revised to make a much weaker claim.
The psychological generalization that “about 70% of hallucinations” are based on hopeful expectancy or wishes, means that as much as 30% or three out of ten hallucinations are NOT based on hopeful expectancy or wishes.  But if three out of ten hallucinations are NOT based on hopeful expectancy or wishes, then  objection PF5 is very weak and not only FAILS to “refute” the Hallucination Theory, but also FAILS to show it to be highly improbable.
 
 
PROBLEMS WITH PREMISE (2)
Premise (2) is a general historical claim that must be shown to be TRUE in order for objection TRF5 to be a strong objection:

2. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples had experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead.

Premise (2) summarizes many beliefs that Christians have about who among Jesus’ disciples had experiences that seemed to them to be of a living, physical, risen Jesus, and when and where those experiences occurred, and about the specific content of those alleged experiences.  I myself do not accept any of those beliefs as being FACTS.  Every one of those beliefs is a conclusion that is based on passages from the gospels or from some other NT writings.
I do NOT view the gospels or the writings of the NT to be historically reliable documents.  They are sketchy and unreliable documents.  So, all of these conclusions about the ALLEGED experiences of Jesus’ disciples that allegedly seemed to be of a living, physical, risen Jesus are based on sketchy and dubious evidence, in my view.  There are many such beliefs that Christians have, so carefully reviewing all of the relevant claims or beliefs and discussing the NT evidence and the reasoning upon which they are based would be a rather long and time-consuming task.
I will not attempt to perform that task here and now.  However, the burden of proof rests on Christian apologists here.  It is NOT sufficient to merely point to some Gospel passage, and conclude that the events described in that passage are actual historical events that are accurately described in that Gospel passage.  As the Christian apologist William Craig once said,

Far from being easy, historical apologetics, if done right, is every bit as difficult as philosophical apologetics.  The only reason most people think historical apologetics to be easier is because they do it superficially.  (Reasonable Faith, revised edition, p. 253)

Premise (2) requires a lot of clarification, in terms of the specific historical claims behind it, concerning specific people allegedly having specific experiences at specific times and places, and these various specific claims each needs to be carefully supported with extensive evidence and arguments.  Nothing like that is provided in any of the works of apologetics that make use of objection TRF5.  So, as far as I am concerned premise (2) remains both VAGUE and DUBIOUS.  There is no good reason to believe premise (2) is true, at least not in the works of apologetics that I have mentioned here as works that make use of TRF5.
To Be Continued…

bookmark_borderDid Jesus Rise from the Dead? Part 3: The “No Expectancy” Objection

WHERE WE ARE
I generally argue in defense of the Apparent Death Theory, not in order to prove it to be TRUE, but in order to show that this skeptical theory about the alleged resurrection of Jesus is still viable and that the objections raised against  it by Christian apologists FAIL to refute it.  However, I am now in the process of arguing in defense of the Hallucination Theory and am arguing that the objections raised against this theory by Josh McDowell in his book The Resurrection Factor (1981; herafter: TRF) are weak and defective, and that McDowell FAILS to refute this skeptical theory.
Here are McDowell’s seven objections in TRF against the Hallucination Theory:

  1. Only Certain [kinds of ] People [have Hallucinations, like schizophrenics]. (TRF, p.84)
  2. [Hallucinations are] Very Personal [making it very unlikely that more than two persons could have the same hallucination at the same time]. (TRF, p.84-85)
  3. [An hallucination is an erroneous perception or] A False Response [to sense stimulation]. (TRF, p.85)
  4. No Favorable Circumstances [of time and place (to which hallucinations are restricted) apply to the experiences of the risen Jesus that took place after his crucifixion]. (TRF, p.85)
  5. [There was] No Expectancy [among Jesus’ followers that he would rise from the dead, but hallucinations require anticipation or hopeful expectation]. (TRF, p.85-86)
  6. [There was] Not Time Enough [in the period when appearances of Jesus occurred to consider those experiences to be hallucinations, which usually occur over a long period of time].  (TRF, p.86)
  7. [The Hallucination Theory] Doesn’t Match the Facts [because hallucinations of a risen Jesus don’t explain the empty tomb, the broken seal, the guard units, and the subsequent actions of the high priests]. (TRF, p.86)

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I argued that Objection 1 (Only Certain People) is clearly defective and FAILS.
In Part 2 of this series I argued that Objection 3 (A False Response) and Objection 6 (Not Time Enough) both FAIL miserably.
 
THE FOUR REMAINING OBJECTIONS
I have quickly eliminated three of McDowell’s seven objections to the Hallucination Theory.  That leaves us with four more objections to consider.  I have plucked the low hanging fruit first, eliminating the most obviously weak and defective objections.  My impression is that McDowell’s remaining four objections are also weak and defective, but they deserve a closer examination than Objection 1, Objection 3, and Objection 6, and I expect that it will require more work on my part to show that the remaining four objections also FAIL to refute the Hallucination Theory.
I think the most important objections, and perhaps the objections that will require the most effort by me to show they FAIL, are Objection 2 (Very Personal), and Objection 7 (Doesn’t Match the Facts).  So, I will deal with those objections last.  I expect Objection 4 (No Favorable Circumstances) and Objection 5 ( No Expectancy) to require a medium level of effort to show that they FAIL, and I suspect that Objection 5 will be the easiest of the remaining objections for me to deal with.
So, the order that I plan to address the remaining four objections is this (I am labelling them “TRF” because I plan to refer to objections from other books as well):

TRF5: No Expectancy

TRF4: No Favorable Circumstances

TRF7: Doesn’t Match the Facts

TRF2: Very Personal

These objections are also presented by Josh McDowell (and his son Sean) in the more recently published book Evidence for the Resurrection (2009, see pages 206-211; hereafter: EFR).  You can see how the objections in EFR line up with the objections in TRF in the following chart:

TRF5: THE “NO EXPECTANCY” OBJECTION
McDowell summarizes a number of his objections against the Hallucination Theory this way:

Why is the hallucination theory so weak? 
First, it contradicts various conditions which most psychiatrists and psychologists agree must  be present to have a hallucination. (TRF, p.84)

 If McDowell is going to make some strong objections to the Hallucination Theory on such grounds, then he will need to provide evidence firmly supporting various specific claims of this form:

Most psychological experts agree that condition X must be present in order for an hallucination to occur.

In order to provide evidence firmly supporting claims of this form, McDowell should consult hundreds, or at least dozens, of peer-reviewed books and journal articles by people who are recognized experts in psychology, preferably by psychologists who have specialized in the scientific study of hallucinations, or in the scientific study of mental diseases or conditions that are associated with hallucinations.  But we shall soon see that McDowell (and his fellow Christian apologists) clearly MADE NO EFFORT to investigate such articles and books on this subject.
Here is how McDowell presents the “No Expectancy” objection to the Hallucination Theory in TRF:

A fifth principle is that hallucinations require of people an anticipating spirit of hopeful expectancy which causes their wishes to become father of their thoughts and hallucinations.  As we look at the disciples, the last thing they expected was a resurrection.  They thought Christ had been crucified, buried. …That was the end of it.   (TRF, p.85-86, ellipses were in the original text)

This objection against the Hallucination Theory is also presented by McDowell in Evidence For the Resurrection (as objection #4  on page 209), as well as in Evidence that Demands a Verdict (objection #5 on page 252 of the Revised Edition), and in The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (objection #5 on page 277).
This objection to the Hallucination Theory is used by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in Handbook of Christian Apologetics (as objection #7 on page 187), by William Craig in The Son Rises (as objection #3 on pages 120 and 121), and by Gary Habermas in his article “Explaining Away Jesus’ Resurrection: The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories” (objection #1 on page 5).  Habermas also uses this objection in his interview by Lee Strobel in The Case for Christ (see page 239).
This objection is also used by J.N.D. Anderson in A Lawyer Among the Theologians (see pages 92 and 93), by Murray Harris in Raised Immortal (see page 61), as well as by Winfried Corduan in No Doubt About It (on page 221), by Hank Hanegraaff in Resurrection (on page 46 he quotes Gary Habermas from the interview by Lee Strobel in The Case for Christ), and by Paul Little in Know Why You Believe (objection #5 on page 56 of the 3rd edition).
McDowell’s reasoning here in TRF can be spelled out in a brief argument:

1. Hallucinations REQUIRE that a person who has an hallucination of circumstance C previously had a hopeful expectation or wish that circumstance C would occur, to which the hallucination provides an imaginary fulfilment (since circumstance C only seems to occur but does not actually occur).

2. After Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples had experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead.

3. After Jesus’ crucifixion and prior to Jesus’ disciples having experiences of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead, his disciples did NOT have a hopeful expectation or wish that Jesus would rise from the dead and be alive again.

THEREFORE:

4. After Jesus’ crucifixion, the experiences of Jesus’ disciples of what seemed to be a living Jesus who had risen from the dead were NOT hallucinations. 

The logic of this argument is fine.  However, I would contend that each one of the premises of this argument is problematic, so TRF5 FAILS.  I will argue that premise (1) is clearly false, that an improved version of premise (1) is dubious, that premise (2) is dubious, and that premise (3) is  dubious.  Furthermore, I will argue that IF premise (3) were true, THEN this would give us a powerful reason to reject the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.
 
PROBLEMS WITH  PREMISE (1)
PROBLEM #1: McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5.
Josh McDowell FAILS to provide ANY significant evidence in support of the psychological generalization that he asserts in objection TRF5:

  • In The Resurrection Factor, Josh McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization that he makes in objection TRF5.
  • In Evidence for the Resurrection, McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization that he makes in objection TRF5.
  • In Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Revised edition), McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization that he makes in objection TRF5.
  • In The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, McDowell provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization that he makes in objection TRF5.

McDowell provides thirteen quotations in support of TRF5 in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and also in The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, but NONE of the quotations is from an expert in psychology.  They are all quotes from ministers, evangelists, theologians, biblical scholars, and Christian apologists.
It is crystal clear that McDowell made NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER to read or study scientific articles or books about hallucinations written by psychological experts.  Therefore, his claim that “most psychiatrists and psychologists agree” that “hallucinations require of people an anticipating spirit of hopeful expectancy” has ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS in fact, as far as the intellectually lazy Josh McDowell is aware.*
Sadly, the same unmitigated ignorance of the scientific literature about hallucinations appears to be the case with McDowell’s fellow Christian apologists.
PROBLEM #2: Other apologists who make this objection also provide ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5.

  • Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli provide ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
  • William Craig provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book The Son Rises.
  • J.N.D. Anderson provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book A Lawyer Among the Theologians.
  • Murray Harris provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book Raised Immortal.
  • Winfried Corduan provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book No Doubt About It.
  • Hank Hanegraaff provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book Resurrection.
  • Paul Little provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his book Know Why You Believe (3rd edition).
  • Gary Habermas provides ZERO EVIDENCE from any expert in psychology in support of this psychological generalization in his article “Explaining Away Jesus’ Resurrection: The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories“.

It should be noted that Gary Habermas, alone among these Christian apologists, does quote from a bona fide psychologist, named Gary Collins, in his interview by Lee Strobel.  However, the quote is NOT from a peer-reviewed article or book, but from personal correspondence from Gary Collins. Furthermore, Gary Collins is a devout Evangelical Christian who was a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where the Christian apologist Dr. William Craig also taught, so Collins is clearly a biased source of information on this subject.
Furthermore, Gary Collins specializes in Christian Counseling, and he appears to have no particular expertise in the study of hallucinations, nor in the study of mental illnesses or conditions that are associated with hallucinations.  Finally, the quote is about the obvious point that hallucinations are subjective in nature (a point that requires no psychological expertise because this is a conceptual point that requires only a good understanding of the meaning of the word “hallucination” in the English language).  The quotation of Collins by Habermas provides ZERO EVIDENCE in support of the specific psychological generalization asserted as part of objection TRF5.
PROBLEM #3: The psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5 is clearly and obviously FALSE.
There is actually no need to consult the scientific literature on hallucinations (which NONE of the above apologists made any effort to do), because this psychological generalization is clearly and obviously FALSE.  Because this psychological generalization is clearly and obviously FALSE, it is extremely unlikely that “most psychiatrists and psychologists agree” with this psychological generalization.  In any case, even if “most psychiatrists and psychologists agree” with this psychological generalization, that wouldn’t change the fact that the generalization is FALSE.
Frightening Hallucinations
I can only recall one time in my life when I experienced an hallucination.  I was a young child (a toddler?); I was sick and had a fever.  I remember looking around in my room, and being frightened because the whole room was filled with fish and sharks swimming around in it.  This was an hallucination presumably caused by my sickness and fever.  We all know that hallucinations can be frightening, like this hallucination that I experienced as a young child. So, apart from studying the scientific literature on hallucinations, we all know that some hallucinations are NOT produced as the result of “a hopeful expectation or wish” that the event or circumstance that appears in the hallucination would occur.  As a young child I had no hopeful expectation or wish to spend the night underwater in the presence of large hungry sharks!
We all know that there are such things as “bad trips” that can occur when someone uses a mind-altering drug.  Evangelical Christians have been obsessed with opposition to “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” for decades.  Many of them have come to embrace rock-n-roll, but still froth at the mouth when talking about drugs and sex.  So, if anyone is aware that drugs can sometimes cause “bad trips”, it is Evangelical Christians.  But a “bad trip” often includes unpleasant or frightening hallucinations.  For example, the man who discovered LSD relates a “bad trip” experience he had:

One of the earliest documented bad trips was reported by Albert Hofmann, the chemist who discovered LSD. He had started experiencing a bad trip, and in an attempt to soothe himself, requested some milk from his next-door neighbor, who appeared to have become “a malevolent, insidious witch.”  (“What is a Bad Trip?” by Elizabeth Hartney)

We all know that hallucinations can be unpleasant or frightening, because we all know that mind-altering drugs can sometimes result in a “bad trip”.  So, apart from studying the scientific literature on hallucinations, we all know that some hallucinations are NOT produced as the result of “a hopeful expectation or wish” that the event or circumstance that appears in the hallucination would occur.
Evangelical Christians are very well aware of this fact about hallucinations.  So, if Josh McDowell, or any of the Christian apologists who follow him in his complete ignorance about the scientific literature on hallucinations had simply thought seriously about the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5 for a few minutes, they probably would have come to the realization that it is CLEARLY and OBVIOUSLY FALSE.  But in addition to being completely ignorant about the scientific literature on hallucinations, McDowell and his fellow Christian apologists apparently were also uninterested in giving any serious thought to the question of whether the psychological generalization asserted in objection TRF5 was true.  So, this objection is not only WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL BASIS, but it also reveals a complete lack of critical thought among Christian apologists, at least on this important issue.
 
CONCLUSION
I have more problems to discuss with objection TRF5, but the above problems are more than sufficient to show that objection TRF5 FAILS, and that this objection does NOT refute, or even significantly damage, the Hallucination Theory.
 
To Be Continued…
 
*McDowell does include ONE reference to ONE book by a psychologist (Outline of Psychiatric Case-Study by Paul William Peru), but he does NOT provide any quotations from that book, and the book was published in 1939, so it does not represent the state of the art in the scientific study of hallucinations.
Furthermore, I have read the three pages of Peru’s book that McDowell references (pages 97 to 99), and in those pages Peru does NOT assert the psychological generalization that PF5 is based on, nor does Peru provide evidence in support of that generalization, and in fact those three pages are filled primarily with QUESTIONS that Peru thinks a psychologist should ask a patient who seems to be experiencing, or seems to have experienced, an hallucination.  Peru does NOT make any relevant psychological generalizations about the causes of hallucinations in those pages.  So, McDowell just made this generalization up (or perhaps he accepted this empirical claim on the basis of the pseudo authority of an evangelist, minister, theologian, bible scholar, or Christian apologist who lacks expertise in the field of psychology).
=========================
Christian Apologetics books referenced in this post:
Norman Anderson, A Lawyer Among the Theologians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, copyright 1973, first American edition published February 1974)
Winfried Corduan, No Doubt About It (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997)
William Craig, The Son Rises (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981)
Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville, Tennessee: Word Publishing, 2000)
Murray Harris, Raised Immortal (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, copyright 1983, this American edition published in 1985)
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994)
Paul Little, Know Why You Believe, expanded and updated by Marie Little (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 3rd edition 1988)
Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Revised Edition (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc.,1979)
Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc.,1981)
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999)
Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009)
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1998)

bookmark_borderFeser’s Perverted Faculty Argument – Part 1: The Core Argument

HSIAO’S PERVERTED FACULTY ARGUMENT
I have REJECTED Timothy Hsiao’s Perverted Faculty “Argument” against homosexual sex NOT because it was a bad argument, but because it was a FAUX argument, and not an actual argument.  The core “argument” by Hsiao consists of three declarative sentences that were so UNCLEAR that they cannot be rationally evaluated, and thus those sentences do NOT assert actual claims, and thus those sentences do NOT constitute an actual argument.
For my analysis and criticism of Hsiao’s “argument” see the following posts:

Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 1: A Thomist Argument
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 2: Argument Structure
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 3: Unclear Argument
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 4: The Logic of Applied Ethics
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 5: From Fake to Real
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 6: Sexual Activity
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 7: Definitions of “Sexual Activity”
Aquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 8: Legal Definitions

 
FESER’S PERVERTED FACULTY ARGUMENT
Edward Feser has also put forward a version of the Perverted Faculty Argument (hereafter: PFA), so I will now examine that argument in the hopes that it is an actual argument consisting of actual claims.  Based on his book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Feser understands the need to define and clarify the meanings of key words and phrases in philosophical arguments.  I am hoping that in his presentation of PFA,  Feser will define and/or clarify the meanings of key words and phrases in his version of PFA so that it constitutes an actual argument that is composed of actual claims.  If I find his effort to constitute an actual argument, then I will attempt to rationally evaluate that argument.
Here is how Feser summarizes PFA in his book Neo-Scholastic Essays (hereafter: NSE):

(NSE, p. 403-404)
The logical structure of this argument is simple and straightforward, consisting of a series of three inferences:

THE CORE ARGUMENT IN FESER’S PFA
Typically, the core of such a three-tiered argument occurs in the middle of the argument, and that seems to be the case here.  I have indicated what I take to be the core argument by the purple line drawn around the middle argument.
Here is what I take to be the core argument in Feser’s PFA:

(NSE, p. 404)
As with Hsiao’s PFA, this core argument is filled with UNCLEAR words and phrases.  However, for right now, I’m going to assume that Feser defines or clarifies the meanings of these UNCLEAR words and phrases (or most of them) somewhere in the chapter that he devotes to PFA, so that these sentences will turn out to be actual claims.
Before I try to nail down the meanings of the various UNCLEAR terms, I am going to work at eliminating UNCLEAR REFERENCES in these sentences, by applying a basic rule of argument analysis:

*** 86 THE MOTHERFUCKING PRONOUNS! ***

I don’t use the expression “motherfucking” here to indicate a criticism of Feser.  We ALL use pronouns, and even the best philosophers use pronouns when laying out philosophical arguments.  So, in using pronouns to summarize PFA, Feser is not doing anything contrary to normal practice, even among the best philosophers.
Nevertheless, it is good to develop some antipathy towards pronouns, if you want to properly analyze and evaluate philosophical arguments, or even if you just want to be a competent critical thinker.  Pronouns often create AMBIGUITY and UNCLARITY, and these things are anathema to philosophy and to critical thinking.
Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.  We need to understand the meaning of a claim first, before we can rationally evaluate that claim.  We need to understand an argument first, before we can rationally evaluate that argument.  So, CLARITY is a basic requirement for claims and arguments used in philosophical thinking and for thinking critically about any claim or argument.
 
EVIL PRONOUNS IN THE CORE ARGUMENT
I put the evil pronouns in bold red font.
Premise 3:
it is metaphysically impossible”
“for it to be good for us
“to use those faculties”
“in a manner that is contrary to their procreative and unitive ends”
Premise 4:
“homosexual acts” [ Note: I’m going to ignore the other “bad” sexual activities: “contraceptive acts”, “masturbatory acts”, and “acts of bestiality”.]
“involve the use of our sexual faculties”
“in a manner that is contrary to their procreative and/or unitive ends”
Premise 5:
it is metaphysically impossible”
“for it to be good for us
“to engage in homosexual acts” [ Note: I’m going to ignore the other “bad” sexual activities: “contraceptive acts”, “masturbatory acts”, and “acts of bestiality”.]
 
NOW WE 86 THE PRONOUNS
I replaced the pronouns in bold red font with words or phrases in bold blue font.
Premise 3:
it is metaphysically impossible”   ==>   “a situation is metaphysically impossible”
“for it to be good for us”   ==>   “for the activity to be good for a human being
“to use those faculties”   ==>   “to use the sexual faculties belonging to that human being
“in a manner that is contrary to their procreative and unitive ends”   ==>   “in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings
Revision of Premise 3:

3a. A situation where a human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings AND where that activity is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

Premise 4:
“homosexual acts” [there are important elements missing from this phrase]   ==>  “in any situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts”
“involve the use of our sexual faculties”   ==>   “that human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being
“in a manner that is contrary to their procreative and/or unitive ends”   ==>   “in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings
Revision of Premise 4:

4a. In any situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts, that human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings.

Premise 5:
it is metaphysically impossible” ==> “a situation is metaphysically impossible”
“for it to be good for us” ==> “for the activity (of engaging in homosexual acts) to be good for a human being
“to engage in homosexual acts” ==> “in any situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts”
Revision of Premise 5:

5a. A situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts AND where that activity (of engaging in homosexual acts) is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

 
THE REVISED CORE ARGUMENT OF FESER’S PFA

3a. A situation where a human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings AND where that activity is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

4a. In any situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts, that human being uses the sexual faculties belonging to that human being in a manner that is contrary to the procreative and/or unitive ends of the sexual faculties of human beings.

THEREFORE:

5a. A situation where a human being engages in homosexual acts AND where that activity (of engaging in homosexual acts) is good for that human being is a metaphysically impossible situation.

This revised core argument is significantly more CLEAR than the statement of it by Feser.  However, all three sentences here still make use of UNCLEAR words and phrases, and so I’m not yet willing to admit that these three sentences make actual claims, nor that this is an actual argument.  It depends on whether Feser defines or clarifies the various UNCLEAR  words and phrases in these three sentences.
So, in the next post of this series I will begin to address this question:

Does Feser provide useful definitions or clarifications of the meanings of the key words and phrases in these sentences that are, apart from such efforts, too UNCLEAR to make it so the sentences may reasonably be treated as actual claims?

 
To Be Continued…

bookmark_borderThe Unmoved Mover Argument – Part 11: The Argument for Premise (2)

WHERE WE ARE
Norman Geisler has FAILED to show that premise (1) of his Thomist Cosmological Argument is true, but premise (1) is obviously true.  Since premise (1) is obviously true, we should not reject TCA just because Geisler FAILED to prove that (1) is true.  Since premise (1) seems to be obviously true, we should accept it, and examine the rest of this argument to see if the other premises are true, and if the inferences in the rest of the argument are all logically valid.
In Part 10 of this series, I began to analyze and clarify Geisler’s argument for premise (2):

2. Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.

 
APPARENT GAPS IN GEISLER’S LOGIC
There is an obvious problem with Geisler’s argument for premise (2).   Premise (2) DOES NOT APPEAR TO FOLLOW LOGICALLY from his argument in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).  Geisler is a sloppy and careless thinker, so it would be no surprise to me if his argument for this key premise is a non sequitur:

42. If a thing is limited and it changes, then that thing cannot be a thing that exists independently.

THEREFORE:

2. Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.

There are two logical/conceptual JUMPS that occur between (42) and (2).  First, (42) talks about “limited” things, while (2) talks about “finite” things.  Second, (42) talks about things that exist “independently”, while (2) talks about things that are “caused by something else”.
Actually, the inference from (42) to (2) might be correct.  It might be the case that (2) follows logically from (42), but that depends on the meanings of the key terms in these claims: “a thing that is limited”, “a thing that exists independently”, a “finite…thing”, and a “thing…caused by something else.”  If these terms are defined in particular ways, then the inference from (42) to (2) would be logical.
Geisler, being a sloppy and unclear thinker, does not bother to define the key terms in his Thomist Cosmological Argument, so it is difficult to evaluate the correctness of his inference from (42) to (2).  Geisler’s argument in WSA for premise (2) consists of two measly sentences (WSA, p.18) , so it is no wonder that his argument is unclear and that it appears on its face to be a non sequitur.
 
GEISLER’S ARGUMENT IN POR FOR PREMISE (2) 
Geisler provides a longer and more detailed defense of premise (2) in his earlier book Philosophy of Religion (hereafter: POR).  So, I am going to shift my focus (for now) to his argument for premise (2) as presented in POR (on pages 194-197).
In POR, premise (2) of the Thomist Cosmological Argument is stated in slightly different words than in WSA.  Geisler uses the term “limited” in POR instead of “finite” in WSA:

2a. The present existence of every limited, changing being is caused by another.

He also uses the word “being” in POR rather than “thing” in WSA.  And in POR, Geisler specifies that it is the “present existence” of finite things that is “caused” by another.
Based on how Geisler switches freely back and forth between the terms “limited” and “finite”, those words appear to be equivalent in meaning, at least as far as Geisler is concerned.  Since I am now focused on the argument for (2) in POR, I will defer to his preference of the term “limited”,  for now.  Talking about the “present existence” of things being caused is a nice bit of clarification in POR, so I will now use those additional words in a revised formulation of premise (2).
I don’t care for the term “being” because this smacks of a technical philosophical term, but Geisler has FAILED to define this word, so it is unclear and misleading to use that term as opposed to the more common n0n-technical word “thing”.  I don’t object to the use of technical philosophical terminology, but if one wishes to use such terms, then one has an obligation to DEFINE the meaning of such a term.  Geisler rarely defines his key terms, so he needs to stick to common words and their ordinary meanings.
I take it that the phrase “caused by another” means “caused by another being”, and since I find the use of the term “being” unclear and misleading, I will interpret that final phrase as meaning: “caused by another thing“.  Here then is my clarified version of premise (2) that uses elements from both the WSA and the POR versions of this key premise:

2b. The present existence of every limited, changing thing is caused by another thing.

Geisler re-iterates the argument for (2) at least four times in just a few pages, with only slight variations.  Here is one instance of the argument:

51. Every limited changing being is composed of both an actuality (its existence) and a potentiality (its essence).

52. But no potentiality can actualize itself.

53. There is some actuality outside of every composed being to account for the fact that it actually exists.

There is also  an intermediate conclusion that Geisler, in his typical sloppy and careless manner, fails to spell out:

L. There is some actuality outside of every limited changing being to account for the fact that it actually exists.

Premise (52) is a reason for premise (53).  Premise (51) works together with premise (53) to support the unstated intermediate conclusion (L).
 
THE STRUCTURE OF THE ARGUMENT IN POR FOR PREMISE (2b) 
Because I have replaced the term “being” with the term “thing” in premise (2), following Geisler’s wording in WSA, we need to revise the wording of other premises that use the term “being” so that they also use the term “thing”:

52. But no potentiality can actualize itself.

THEREFORE:

53a. There is some actuality outside of every composed thing to account for the fact that it actually exists.

51a. Every limited changing thing is composed of both an actuality (its existence) and a potentiality (its essence).

THEREFORE:

L1. There is some actuality outside of every limited changing thing to account for the fact that it actually exists.

THEREFORE:

2b. The present existence of every limited, changing thing is caused by another thing.


 
To be continued…
 
 

bookmark_borderThe Unmoved Mover Argument – Part 10: Geisler’s Argument for Premise (2)

WHERE WE ARE
In his book When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA), Norman Geisler presents his general version of a Thomist Cosmological Argument (hereafter: TCA).  I analyze this argument in Part 2 of this series.
The first premise of Geisler’s TCA is this:

1. Finite, changing things exist.  (WSA, p.18)

Geisler provides a very brief argument in support of (1) in WSA.  In Part 4 of this series I showed that Geisler’s brief argument in support of (1) was a stinking philosophical TURD.  It FAILS utterly and completely to support ANY part of premise (1).
In Part 5 of this series I clarified and analyzed a longer and more sophisticated  argument by Geisler in support of just one part of premise (1) of TCA, an argument that is found in his much older book Philosophy of Religion (hereafter: PoR).  This longer argument only supports the simple (and obviously true) claim that “Something exists”.  In Part 6 of this series, I argued that this longer argument by Geisler FAILS.
In Part 7 of this series, I analyzed and evaluated Geisler’s first argument in PoR for the following claim:

21. Changing things exist.

I concluded that this first argument in PoR for (21) FAILS.
In Part 8 of this series, I analyzed Geisler’s second argument for claim (21), and then I began to evaluate the argument.  But I repeatedly ran into problems with the argument, problems that could be fixed by making an unstated assumption explicit, or by clarifying the meaning of a premise, or by modifying a premise in order to make an inference in the argument logically valid.  I ended up adding a number of premises, and modifying the statement of each of the original premises.
Because I have revised each of the three premises that Geisler provided in order to clarify them or to make the logical inferences valid, and because I have had to add five different unstated assumptions, also in order to make the logical inferences in this argument valid, it is no longer clear that this is Geisler’s argument.  My thought, effort, and skills have gone into the construction of this argument, and it is significantly different from the argument that we started with.  So, even if this turns out to be a solid deductive argument, that will not show that Geisler’s original argument was a solid deductive argument.
It is clear that Geisler’s second argument as originally stated was NOT a SOUND deductive argument, and that it FAILED as a deductively valid proof of the conclusion.  But the enhanced version of Geisler’s second argument might have turned out to be a solid proof, so I evaluated this enhanced 2nd argument in Part 9 of this series.  Here is the conclusion of the enhanced 2nd argument:

21a. Changing things exist right now.

Although I made several significant improvements to his argument, it still has a number of unclear and dubious premises, and some invalid inferences in the sub-arguments for key premises.  Even the significantly enhanced version of Geisler’s second argument for the claim that “Changing things exist right now.” clearly FAILS.  Geisler’s second argument for (21a) FAILS.
Since all three of Geisler’s attempts to support premise (1) of his Thomist Cosmological Argument, he has FAILED in his attempt to prove the existence of God.
 
GEISLER’S THOMIST COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (TCA)
The second cosmological argument in When Skeptics Ask is Geisler’s generalized version of a Thomist cosmological argument (WSA, p. 18 & 19):

1. Finite, changing things exist.

2. Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.

3. There cannot be an infinite regress of these causes.

THEREFORE:

4. [There is]…a first uncaused cause of every finite, changing thing that exists.

THEREFORE:

5. There is a present, conserving cause of the world.

A. IF there is a present, conserving cause of the world, THEN God exists.

THEREFORE:

G.  God exists. 

Here is the logical structure of TCA:

Since Geisler has FAILED to show that premise (1) is true, it seems unlikely that he will be able to prove that premise (2) or (3) are true, since those premises are controversial and dubious, whereas premise (1) was obviously true.  But since premise (1) is obviously true, we should not reject TCA just because Geisler FAILED to prove that (1) is true.  Since premise (1) seems to be obviously true, we should accept it, and examine the rest of this argument to see if the other premises are true, and if the inferences in the argument are all logically valid.
 
GEISLER’S SUPPORT FOR PREMISE (2) OF TCA
Here is premise (2) of TCA:

2. Every finite changing thing must be caused by something else.  (WSA, p.18)

Geisler attempts to support premise (2) in just two sentences:

If it is limited and it changes, then it cannot be something that exists independently.  If it existed independently, or necessarily, then it would have always existed without any kind of change. (WSA, p.18)

It seems foolish and pathetic to attempt to prove premise (2) in just two sentences, so it will be no surprise if this argument FAILS, like most of Geisler’s other apologetic arguments.
The second sentence provides a reason in support of the first sentence.  Also, I take it that the term “necessarily” is supposed to be equivalent to the term “independently” in this context, so we can simplify by dropping the redundant term “necessarily”:

41. If a thing existed independently, then it would have always existed without any kind of change.

THEREFORE:

42. If a thing is limited and it changes, then it cannot be a thing that exists independently.

This is a bit sloppy, as Geisler often is in presenting his arguments.  There is a shift from the past tense phrase “existed independently” in premise (41) to the present tense phrase “exists independently” in premise (42).  So, it is unclear that this is a logically valid inference.
We can fix this problem by consistently using the present tense phrase in both premises:

41a. If a thing exists independently, then it would have always existed without any kind of change.

THEREFORE:

42. If a thing is limited and it changes, then it cannot be a thing that exists independently.

This inference seems OK.  It might well be a logically valid inference. However, the logic is not completely clear.  These statements are in the form of conditional statements (IF P, THEN Q), but they are both actually universal generalizations (ALL Xs ARE Ys).  So, I will restate the premises as universal generalizations:

41b. ALL things that exist independently ARE things that have always existed without any kind of change.

THEREFORE:

42b. NO things that are limited and that change ARE things that exist independently.

There are three different categories that are referenced in the above argument:

I: things that exist independently

A: things that have always existed without any kind of change

L: things that are limited and that change

So, if we abbreviate by using the above categorical designations, we can see the logical structure of Geisler’s argument:

41c. ALL I’s ARE A’s.

Therefore:

42c. NO L’s ARE I’s.

Since one of the categories referenced in the conclusion is not referenced in the premise, this argument is NOT formally valid.  The problem here is that there are logical relationships that Geisler is ASSUMING between these various categories.  But we need to make those logical relationships EXPLICIT in order to determine what other ASSUMPTIONS are being made here, and to determine whether this argument can be restated in a way that is clearly a logically VALID argument.
One assumption that Geisler appears to be making is this:

NO things that are limited and that change ARE things that have always existed without any kind of change.

OR:

H. NO L’s ARE A’s.

This seems clearly to be true, to be a necessary truth. A thing that changes cannot have always existed without any kind of change.
 
So, if we add this necessary truth to the original argument, we might have an argument that is clearly logically valid:

41c. ALL I’s ARE A’s.

H. NO L’s ARE A’s.

Therefore:

42c. NO L’s ARE I’s.

This categorical syllogism is formally valid, as can be seen by the following Venn Diagram:

The reddish brown shading represents the claim “ALL I’s ARE A’s”.  The shaded area means there is NOTHING in that sub-category, there is nothing in the part of the circle for I outside of the part of that circle that overlaps with the circle for A. The only I’s that exist (if there are any) are things that are in the area where I and A overlap, things that fall into both of those categories.
The tan shading represents the claim “NO L’s ARE A’s”.  The shaded area means there is NOTHING in that sub-category, there is nothing in the part of the L circle that overlaps with the A circle.  The only L’s that exist (if there are any) are things that are in the area of L that is outside of the part of that circle that overlaps with the circle for A, things that fall into the category of L but not in the category of A.
Note that the area of the circle for L that overlaps with the circle for I is completely shaded in.  That means that there is NOTHING in that overlap area.  In other words, there is NOTHING that falls into the category of L that also falls into the category of I.  That means that “NO L’s ARE I’s”, which is the conclusion of the above categorical syllogism.  Simply by diagraming the two premises, we have automatically diagramed the conclusion. That demonstrates that the conclusion of the syllogism follows logically and necessarily from the premises of the syllogism.
However, there are some gaps of logic here, so we need to fill in those gaps in order to be sure that (41a) does in fact logically imply (42):

41a. If a thing exists independently, then it exists without any kind of change.

THEREFORE:

J. IF a thing is such that it is NOT the case that it exists without any kind of change, THEN it is NOT the case that it exists independently. (from 41a by transposition)

K. IF a thing is limited and it changes, THEN that thing  is such that it is NOT the case that it exists without any kind of change.  (a tautology)

THEREFORE:

42. If a thing is limited and it changes, then that thing cannot be a thing that exists independently.

 
TO BE CONTINUED…
 

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 7: Definitions of “Sexual Activity”

In Part 6 of this series, I argued that the phrase “sexual activity” is unclear, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
I used examples and information about the use of this phrase in the medical and health arena.  I plan to also look at some information about the use of the phrase “sexual activity” in the legal and criminal justice arena.  But before I move on to discussing the meaning of this phrase in the legal arena, I want to dig a bit deeper into some definitions and interpretations of this phrase in the medical and health arena.
DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF “SEXUAL ACTIVITY” IN THE MEDICAL AND HEALTH ARENA
Let’s start off with the definition of “sexual activity” that is provided by Vocabulary.com:

DEFINITION 1:   

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) X is associated with sexual intercourse.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has an article on sexual activity by an expert on sex, and the article provides a definition of “sexual activity”:

DEFINITION 2: 

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) X induces sexual arousal.

 
A third definition of “sexual activity” can be inferred from an article presenting scientific research about the frequency of sexual activity:

 
DEFINITION 3:

X is a sexual activity IF AND ONLY IF:

(a) X is an activity, and

(b) a person P engaging in X on an occasion O constitutes P having sex on occasion O.

These three definitions of “sexual activity” are clearly different definitions.  It seems, at least at first glance, that they are NOT equivalent to each other, and that they have different implications.  If this is so, then there are at least three different possible definitions for the phrase “sexual activity” in relation to the medical and health arena.
Let’s put these definitions to work, in order to see if they are in fact different definitions that have different implications.
Suppose that John kisses Susan passionately on the lips for a minute or two, and suppose that Susan is not completely passive but also engages in passionate kissing of John on the lips at the same time.  Is John involved in sexual activity here?  Is Susan involved in sexual activity here?
If we try to apply DEFINITION 1, we run into some problems.  First of all, is the activity here the generic one of “kissing someone on the lips”?  or is it “kissing someone passionately on the lips”?  or is it “John kissing Susan on the lips”? or “John kissing Susan passionately on the lips”? or is it “John kissing Susan passionately on the lips on this particular occasion”?
Kissing someone on the lips can be done without any sexual desire or any intention to ever engage in sexual intercourse with the person being kissed.  Kissing someone passionately on the lips implies some degree of sexual desire or intention to arouse sexual desire.  However, sometimes people become sexually aroused or intend to arouse sexual desire in another person while having no intention to proceed on to having sexual intercourse with that person.
In fact, two people who are attracted to each other may have an explicit plan to AVOID engaging in sexual intercourse, while sometimes engaging in passionate kissing.  Perhaps John and Susan are just such a pair of people.  In that case, is this passionate kissing activity “associated with sexual intercourse”?  It is very difficult to say.  Kissing in general is remotely associated with sexual intercourse, because people often kiss each other as a prelude to engaging in sexual intercourse.  But it is also the case that people often kiss without there being any sexual desire or intention to ever have sexual intercourse with each other.
Although John and Susan apparently have some sexual desire for each other, they may be perfectly capable of controlling their sexual desires and behavior and be able to passionately kiss each other on the lips without then proceeding to have sexual intercourse.  It is simply UNCLEAR whether this activity constitutes a “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 1.
But if both John and Susan are engaged in passionate kissing for a minute or two, then it seems clear that this activity “induces sexual desire” in John and in Susan, and thus would clearly count as a “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 2.
Kissing on the lips, even passionate kissing on the lips, does NOT constitute “having sex” with another person, so this activity is clearly NOT an instance of “sexual activity” according to DEFINITION 3.
We can already see that these three definitions are three DIFFERENT definitions, with different implications.  DEFINITION 1 leaves us unclear as to whether the passionate kissing between John and Susan counts as a “sexual activity”.  DEFINITION 2 clearly implies that the passionate kissing between John and Susan counts as a “sexual activity”, and DEFINITION 3 clearly implies that this passionate kissing between John and Susan does NOT count as a “sexual activity.”
We have examined three definitions of “sexual activity” and discovered that they are three different definitions, and that at least in some cases they have conflicting implications.  Therefore, these three different definitions of “sexual activity” represent three different conflicting interpretations of that phrase.  I did not have to look very long to find these three definitions, so if I took more time, I’m sure I could come up with at least two or three more alternative definitions.  This is strong evidence that the phrase “sexual activity” as used in the medical and health arena is UNCLEAR, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
 
DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF “SEXUAL ACTIVITY” IN THE LEGAL AND CRIMINAL ARENA
A commenter who rejected my criticism of Hsiao’s core “argument” in PFA, claimed that the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” was self-explanatory:

Apparently, 90Lew90 believes that the phrase “sexual activity” is “completely unambiguous” and that the meaning of this phrase is OBVIOUS to most people.  We have seen above that this phrase is clearly NOT “completely unambiguous” and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
90Lew90 goes on to point out that this phrase is “also a term of law”.  Although it is true that this phrase is a term used in our laws and our legal system, concerning sex crimes, what 90Lew90 failed to realize is that our laws provide powerful evidence that the phrase “sexual activity” is AMBIGUOUS and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
90Lew90 apparently forgot that our laws (in the USA) against sex crimes are, primarily, STATE LAWS.  Thus, we have 50 different sets of STATE LAWS that define various sex crimes.  The assumption that all 50 states would define “sexual activity” in the same way is very implausible, and extremely unlikely.  In any case, a few seconds of searching on the internet reveals this assumption to be not only FALSE, but to be as WRONG as it could possibly be.
Here are just a few of the dozens of different definitions of “sexual activity” provided by different laws about sex crimes:

 

For many more definitions, see this website: https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/sexual-activity
I have examined a few of these definitions.  Some are very general and abstract, others contain lots of details and specifics.  The ones that contain specifics differ from each other on what specifics they include or exclude in the definitions.  The general and abstract definitions also do NOT all agree with each other.  So, although some of these definitions are very similar to others, some are unique, and some are different from, and disagree with, other definitions.
In pointing to the use of the phrase “sexual activity” in the legal and criminal arena 90Lew90 FAILS to establish his views about the meaning of this phrase, and instead points us to information that clearly proves his claims to be FALSE.  The phrase “sexual activity” is NOT clear; the meaning of this phrase is NOT “completely unambiguous”; the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
Rather, the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and AMBIGUOUS, and it is in need of definition or clarification.

bookmark_borderAquinas and Homosexual Sex – Part 6: Sexual Activity

HSIAO’S FAUX ARGUMENT
Sometimes, Christian philosophers put forward pieces of crap that they pretend to be philosophical arguments, but that are just word salads that are posing as philosophical arguments.  The core “argument” in Tim Hsiao’s article “A Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument against Homosexual Sex” (hereafter: PFA) appears to me to be one such faux argument.  Hsiao fails to define or to clarify ANY of the basic terms and phrases in his core “argument”, making it a string of words that cannot be rationally evaluated.
Here is the core “argument” in PFA:

4. All sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life is immoral.

A. All homosexual activity is sexual activity that is not open to the creation of new life.

THEREFORE:

7A. All homosexual activity is immoral.

This is NOT an actual argument, because every key term in the argument is UNCLEAR, making it impossible to rationally evaluate any of the three statements that make up this core “argument”.
 
HSIAO’S RESPONSE
Here is Hsiao’s response to my criticism of his core “argument”:
 

In short, his response is that “There’s no need to define the obvious.”  The unstated assumption in this response is that the meanings of all of the key words and phrases in his core “argument” are OBVIOUS.  This response leads me to the following conclusion:  The reason why the core “argument” in Hsiao’s article is a steaming pile of crap is that Hsiao is intellectually incapable of constructing and evaluating philosophical arguments.
It seems self-evident to me that all of the key terms in his core “argument” are UNCLEAR, VAGUE, and/or AMBIGUOUS.  If Hsiao cannot discern that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, then he is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, and clear philosophical argument.
 
A DEFENDER OF HSIAO’S “ARGUMENT”
One commenter on the post in which I stated my main objections against Hsiao’s core “argument” agreed with me that Hsiao’s article was crap, and yet did NOT agree with my objections against Hsiao’s core “argument”:


90Lew90 replies to my objections in pretty much the same way that Hsiao replied to my objections.  According to 90Lew90 at least three of the key terms in Hsiao’s “argument” have meanings that are “self-explanatory”.  (The whole IDEA of a term that is “self-explanatory” strikes me as absurd.)  Whatever the hell it means for a word or phrase to be “self-explanatory,” the main point appears to be that the meanings of these words and phrases are OBVIOUS.  This is implied when 90Lew90 states that my failure to agree that the phrase “sexual activity” is self-explanatory shows that I am “the one with the problem here.”
Given that 90Lew90 FAILS to discern that  that there is a problem of CLARITY in these key terms even after I point to those key terms and object to their UNCLARITY, I am forced to conclude that just like Hsiao 90Lew90 is not intellectually capable of producing an intelligent, logical, clear philosophical argument, or of rationally evaluating philosophical arguments.
 
ARE THE KEY TERMS IN THE CORE “ARGUMENT” OF PFA UNCLEAR?
Because it seems self-evident to me that ALL of the key terms in Hsiao’s core “argument” in PFA are UNCLEAR, it seems to me that I should NOT have to argue for my objections.  However, Hsiao cannot see the problem, and 90Lew90 cannot see the problem.  So, perhaps the UNCLARITY of these words and phrases is for many people NOT self-evident.
This, however, suggests that I’m incorrect in thinking that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, given that many (perhaps most) human beings would FAIL to notice the UNCLARITY of these terms, even after I point this out to them.  If I give up my assumption that the UNCLARITY of these terms is self-evident, then I have an obligation to provide REASONS and EVIDENCE to support my view that these terms are in fact UNCLEAR.
I have previously provided some evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR.  One commenter provided a definition of this term which came from a well-known Catholic bishop and a respected moral theologian (Saint Alphonsus Ligouri).  I examined that proposed definition and found a number of significant problems with the definition, and I pointed those problems out in Post #5 of this series.  The fact that a definition put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian contains several obvious and significant problems is evidence that the term “homosexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and this is evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious, since a well-known Catholic bishop and respected moral theologian defined this term in a way that is mistaken and inaccurate.
 
FUCK UP BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION EXPERTS ON SEX
90Lew90 cannot see any problem with the CLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity”.  So, I am going to provide him and Hsiao (and anyone who bothers to read my posts on this topic) with evidence that this phrase is UNCLEAR, and evidence that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
First, a short story.  In 1975 the World Health Organization (hereafter: WHO) produced a ground-breaking report concerning “sexual health”: One important thing that this report did was to provide a DEFINITION of the term “sexual health” that has significantly influenced thinking and investigations about this subject for the past four decades:

Although this 1975 WHO report had significant impact on the development of thinking and investigations about sexual health, there was a significant problem with this report, as is pointed out in a 2002 WHO publication (Defining sexual health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28–31 January 2002, Geneva, p.4):

The doctors and sex experts who wrote the 1975 Report fucked up.  They FAILED to clearly define the most basic terms they were using, such as “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity”.
Hsiao and 90Lew90 would not see any problem with the 1975 WHO report, since their view is that the meanings of terms like “sex” and “sexuality” and “sexual activity” are CLEAR and OBVIOUS. But as the authors of the 2002 WHO report note:

…there has been no subsequent international agreement on definitions for these terms.  

In other words, these terms are UNCLEAR, and the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious, so these basic terms are in NEED of a clear definition, which the 1975 WHO report FAILED to provide.
 
A COMMON MEDICAL QUESTION
Here is another bit of evidence that supports my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR, and that the meaning of the phrase is NOT obvious.  A common medical question that doctors ask their patients involves a phrase that is very close to the phrase at issue here:

Are you sexually active?

Many people find this question to be problematic.  This in itself is evidence for my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
But because many people find this question to be problematic, they ask experts about the MEANING of this question.  They ask health experts at Planned Parenthood, for example, and they ask other medical experts.  The response of experts generally begins with the admission that this question is somewhat UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, when these experts provide “clarification” of this question, they end up contradicting each other, by giving different and conflicting interpretations of the question.  This provides even more evidence supporting my view that the phrase “sexual activity” is UNCLEAR and in need of definition.
Here is a response to a request to a medical expert to clarify this common question:

Note that this medical expert admits that

…this question is somehow vague. 

According to this expert, if you engage in sexual activities that involve penetration of the penis into the vagina or penetration of the penis into the anus, then you are “sexually active” but if you do NOT engage in one or the other of these two types of sexual activities, then you are, according to this medical expert, NOT “sexually active”.  This seems fairly clear, but other experts understand this phrase as having a different meaning.
Here is the answer that health experts from Planned Parenthood give to people who ask for clarification of the common question “Are you sexually active?”:

According to health experts at Planned Parenthood:

…there’s sometimes confusion over what ‘sexually active’ actually means.

In other words, this phrase is somewhat UNCLEAR, and the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  They point out that some people think this phrase “just refers to vaginal intercourse”.  But in the view of Planned Parenthood health experts, this expression, in this context, should be understood as referring to vaginal intercourse plus various “other forms of sex”, including : anal sex and oral sex.
So far, we have seen that there are at least three different interpretations of the phrase “sexually active”:

  • the person has engaged in vaginal sex
  • the person has engaged in activity involving either (a) penetration of the penis into the vagina or (b) penetration of the penis into the anus
  • the person has engaged in either: (a) vaginal sex, or (b) anal sex, or (c) oral sex

But other medical experts provide yet another possible interpretation of the phrase “sexually active”.  Here is the clarification offered by health experts at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center:

Note that, once again, the health experts admit that:

The phrase sexually active is a bit vague…

They provide a fourth possible meaning for this phrase:

  • the person has engaged in either: (a) penis-in-vagina sex, or (b) oral sex, or (c) anal sex, or (d) manual sex.

NONE of the previous clarifications/definitions mentioned “manual sex”.
So, not only do MANY people find the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” to be problematic, but health experts often AGREE that this phrase is vague or UNCLEAR.  Furthermore, different health experts provide different and conflicting interpretations of what this phrase means.  NO WONDER patients are confused about the meaning of the question “Are you sexually active?”, because medical and health experts DON’T AGREE WITH EACH OTHER about what this question means!
But the phrase “sexually active” is very closely related to the phrase “sexual activity”.  The latter phrase could easily be used in place of the former:

Do you engage in sexual activity?

Given the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexually active” it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also UNCLEAR.  Given that the meaning of the phrase “sexually active” is NOT obvious, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.
 
CONCLUSION
In view of the fact that a careful definition of “homosexual activity” put forward by a well-known Catholic bishop and well-respected moral theologian has several significant problems, and thus fails to be a clear and accurate definition of that phrase, this is evidence that the phrase “homosexual activity” is an UNCLEAR phrase, and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.
In view of the fact that the 1975 WHO report on sexual health FAILED to clarify or define some of the most basic terms used by health and sex experts, such as “sex”, “sexuality”, and “sexual activity”, and given that this is now understood by health and sex experts to be a significant problem with that historical and influential report, and given that there was no consensus on the meanings of those important basic terms among health and sex experts for decades after the 1975 WHO report, there is good reason to believe that these basic terms are somewhat UNCLEAR, in need of DEFINITION, and that the meanings of these terms are NOT obvious.
In view of the fact that the common medical question “Are you sexually active?” is confusing and problematic for many patients, and given that medical and health experts provide different and conflicting accounts about what that question means, it is clear that the phrase “sexually active” is UNCLEAR and that the meaning of this phrase is NOT obvious.  Since the phrase “sexual activity” is closely related to the phrase “sexually active”, it is likely that the phrase “sexual activity” is also an UNCLEAR phrase, and likely that the meaning of the phrase “sexual activity” is also NOT obvious.
In the next post, I will present evidence concerning the UNCLARITY of the phrase “sexual activity” in the LEGAL arena, where the focus is on sex crimes.