The Gospel and the Gospel Hypothesis

The Gospel Hypothesis proposes that there exists an all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful Creator Who wants a genuine, personal, eternal relationship with each and every one of us, to the point that He is willing and able to become one of us, to dwell among us, and to die for us so that we can be with Him forever. Pretty standard, VBS-grade stuff, right? You could make a hymn out of it, and in fact quite a few people have.

So why would a believer speak of his “intense distaste” for the Gospel Hypothesis? Is it Christianity? Is it not Christianity? What is it that makes the Gospel Hypothesis so loathesome and phobia-inducing for believers?

The Gospel Hypothesis, quite simply, describes the factual prerequisites that must necessarily be true in order for the Bible to be anything more than a man-made myth. The functional definition of rationalization is that it convinces us our beliefs are consistent with the evidence even though, in reality, they are not consistent with the truth. It’s entirely possible for the Bible to be convincing whether or not there exists the type of God described by the Gospel Hypothesis. But convincing or not, if that God does not exist, then Christianity is not true. And the Gospel Hypothesis confronts the believer with a testable hypothesis that can be used to objectively assess the evidence, without the rationalizations, and to expose the inconsistencies that make the Bible incompatible with real-world truth.

Loathesome indeed.

 
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Posted in Evidence Against Christianity, Unapologetics. 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “The Gospel and the Gospel Hypothesis”

  1. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Finally, I was waiting for you to get around to this post.

    Now comes the question of whether this proto-God of the GH is actually a prerequisite for the God the Bible. You remember Vox Day and his ‘God as a Game Designer’ argument from critiquing TIA, right?

    It is arguable that the omni-X deity of conventional modern Christianity is nothing more than a consequence of habit and tradition rather than having an actual Biblical basis. I may play devil’s advocate and trot out the open view and maybe a bit of Judaism (they know the OT better than anyone) in this vein.

    Gonna sit back and see how this unfolds first, though…

  2. cl Says:

    Finally is right. You can lead an atheist to water but you can’t make them drink.

    DD,

    Is it Christianity? Is it not Christianity?

    Isn’t it consistent with disingenuous that you’d ask when you’ve already denied that it was in response to strawman charges from Jayman, Facilis and myself? Are you now prepared to defend this denial when you type strings like:

    ..omni-X deity Who loves us enough to become human and die for us so that He and we can enjoy an eternal personal relationship together..

    ..God wants [is] an eternal, loving relationship with each of us..

    ..Gospel Hypothesis, by contrast, proposes that the Christian Creator God does exist, and further, that the Christian faith originated as a result of God loving mankind enough to become human Himself, and to die for us as a cleansing sacrifice so that He could enjoy fellowship with us (and vice versa) for all eternity..

    ..willing to die on our behalf to save us from our sins..

    ..salvation and eternal personal relationship..

    ..evidence against the Christian God..

    Sure sounds like Christianity to me! Worse for you, DD, was this nonsense that went down yesterday:

    We can know the truth, but we have to want to know the truth. If we don’t want to know the truth, then the Loser’s Compromise is waiting to serve us. And we can make whatever bogus objections we like in order to defend it. (DD)

    I want to know the truth, and this is just another reason I’m not an atheist. (cl)

    I have documented the real-world facts that any reasonable person can verify for themselves and that demonstrate that reality is more consistent with the Myth Hypothesis than with the Gospel Hypothesis. This constitutes a reasonable basis for rejecting the truth claims of Christianity. (DD, bold mine)

    Really? Now that’s interesting. Let’s recap. You dealt with strawman claims from three people in the first two weeks of your so-called Evidence Against Christianity by flatly denying that your GH was Christianity, then you have the nerve to turn around and tell me that your silly little caricature you deny is Christianity but is called Evidence Against Christianity constitutes a reasonable basis for rejecting the truth claims of Christianity?

    Am I really the only person who sees a problem here?

    Folks, let’s be real: If DD’s GH is not Christianity, doesn’t it follow that his MH cannot possibly constitute a reasonable basis for rejecting the truth claims of Christianity?

    Talk about loathesome! Talk about rationalization! DD, are you retracting your claim that the GH is not Christianity? If so, we’re back to where we were in weeks 1 & 2 and the onus is on you to respond cogently to our strawman claims. If not, feel free to deal with the above.

  3. Eneasz Says:

    cl, DD said GH is not Christianity exactly to postpone this. If he said “GH is Christianity” then we’d never get past that first statement, since 2000 years of experience shows us that it is impossible to get a single coherent definition of Christianity. Therefore, for sake of arguement, say that GH is NOT Christianity, and examine it. Upon doing so, all parties agreed (yourself included, I believe) that MH is better than GH in describing the real world (with the caveat being thrown in by some people that “but it’s not christianity!”). Once we all agree that MH trumps GH, DD can then proceed to “But basically, GH is Christianity, right? If not, please show me why not.”

    It may be a bit of a trap, but how else can you get believers to consider the evidence on its own terms?

  4. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “You dealt with strawman claims from three people in the first two weeks of your so-called Evidence Against Christianity by flatly denying that your GH was Christianity, then you have the nerve to turn around and tell me that your silly little caricature you deny is Christianity but is called Evidence Against Christianity constitutes a reasonable basis for rejecting the truth claims of Christianity?”

    Why is this difficult for you? He couldn’t very well say “the GH is christianity” because you would INEVITABLY bring out “it’s not the christianity I believe in!” We’ve all seen that sort of thing play out a million times. Can you IMAGINE the magnitude of the quibbling and equivocating you would have unleashed upon us all if he’d said something like that? It would be the end of the world. Besides, the GH is no more christianity than chapter one of Great Expectations IS Great Expectations… it wouldn’t be Great Expectations without it, but it’s not the whole thing.

    What he’s doing with this is saying that while the GH is not the entirety of christianity, it IS the core that unites all the sects. You can easily reject a sect of christianity without rejecting the GH, but you cannot reject the GH without rejecting christianity. The GH itself is blatantly unsupported, and christianity collapses with it… which I suspect is giving you a great deal of cognitive dissonance, judging by the way you’ve been lashing out at everyone here for weeks, equivocating here and being pedantic there.

    Give it a rest, man.

  5. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Cl’s problem is that he’s trying to force me into a “Have you stopped beating your wife?” dilemma. He wants me to say either that the Gospel Hypothesis is Christianity, so he can spring the trap he’s got ready for that one, or to say that it is not Christianity, so he can spring the other trap he has prepared. He is basically searching for a pretext to accuse me of disingenuousness, to divert the discussion into a personal squabble and distract us from trying to understand the point I am actually making.

    Let’s review for a moment what I actually said about the Gospel Hypothesis.

    Some of the commenters seem to have slightly misunderstood the Gospel Hypothesis. I am not claiming that the Gospel Hypothesis is Christianity (we’ll get to the relationship between Christianity and the Gospel Hypothesis later on).

    Notice that nowhere did I ever say that the Gospel Hypothesis is not Christianity. I simply state that I will discuss the relationship between the Gospel Hypothesis and Christianity at a later time. Cl has taken a simple statement that does not say what he claims it does, and distorted it into something that suits his ad hominem agenda, so that he can try and derail us from discussing the issues and embroil us in an personal squabble. And he rants and rants on it, because it focuses on personal accusations rather than on the issues (with which he is ill-prepared to deal).

    Look at his response to my post above. I think it’s very clear that, by taking the Gospel Hypothesis as a factual prerequisite for Christianity being true, we are dealing with a situation where the false dichotomy between “is it Christianity” and “is it not Christianity” only obscures the actual topic under discussion. If we say “Yes” to the question “is it Christianity,” then what we’ve said is partly true, in the sense that Christianity cannot be true without it. But it’s also not all there is to Christianity: it leaves out the rationalizations and excuses by which Christianity achieves a Loser’s Compromise with facts that are clearly more consistent with the Myth Hypothesis than with the Gospel Hypothesis. And that omission is a good thing. The Bible is a self-admittedly biased source, and we want to know the unbiased and objective truth about God. That’s why we’re comparing the two hypotheses against the real-world evidence rather than against some individual’s personal interpretation of the Bible.

    Cl’s post above technically violates the anti-trolling standards for the comments on this blog, but I’m going to leave it where it is because I think it does more harm to his case than to mine. Witch hunts have no place in a sincere inquiry after the real world truth. He may vent his personal animosity towards me, but such does not provide the unbeliever with any rational basis for rejecting atheism and turning to Christianity.

  6. jim Says:

    Duncan-

    So, what you’re saying is that the GH is sort of a generic baseline assumption, one that’s tacitly acknowledged by most Christian sects before the rationalizing exegesis sets in?

  7. Deacon Duncan Says:

    By the way, if you want to see just how disingenuous cl’s attacks on me really are, ask him whether John 3:16 is Christianity. Make sure his only choices are “Yes” or “No,” so that your question to him will parallel his to me.

  8. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Jim —

    That’s a pretty fair summary.

  9. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Dominic —

    Indeed, you bring up the objection I was actually expecting certain other people to raise. Strange that, eh?

    What’s interesting is that when we start modifying the Gospel Hypothesis to fit lesser envisionings of God, we start down a slippery slope. After all, one characteristic that all imaginary friends have in common is that they lack the power to show up in real life. So by offering a compromised vision of God in which He fails to show up because He lacks the ability to do so, what we’re actually doing is taking a step in the right direction. I for one would be delighted to see more believers moving in the direction of a weaker Christian God, because they can only discover just how many situations invite that particular explanation. The weaker we see God as being, the more the real world circumstances fit our vision of God.

    Of course, there’s still the need to propose a self-consistent Gospel Hypothesis, and that means there’s going to be a problem with the “weak God” theory, because if He’s too weak, He can’t fulfill the part about being willing and able to become one of us, and dwell among us, and die for us so that we can be with Him forever. But if He’s powerful enough to fulfill that part of the Gospel Hypothesis, then He’s powerful enough to show up in real life, so the problem still remains. Either way, the Myth Hypothesis is still superior in terms of predicting consequences that actually match real-world circumstances.

  10. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    This line of argumentation is pretty inevitable if you think about it. I’m holding out to see if you have a surprise for us in store.

  11. jim Says:

    Duncan-

    “But it’s also not all there is to Christianity: it leaves out the rationalizations and excuses by which Christianity achieves a Loser’s Compromise with facts that are clearly more consistent with the Myth Hypothesis than with the Gospel Hypothesis.”

    Are you expanding the definition of Christianity here to embody the process of rationalization (apologetics), instead of considering apologetics a separate, after the fact exegetical device for justifying why the GH doesn’t line up with the ‘real world’? If so, an interesting move. We generally think of Christianity as the sum of its doctrines, and not the body of justifications (strained, in many cases) which uphold, or at least defend, those doctrines. But I suppose its valid, at least within the scope of what you’re trying to get across in this series.

  12. Eneasz Says:

    Dominic, you said -
    This line of argumentation is pretty inevitable if you think about it. I’m holding out to see if you have a surprise for us in store.

    I think the “surprise” is at once shocking and completely obvious at the same time. The “surprise” is that some people will refuse to think about or admit this anyway.

    Enter cl, stage left.

  13. Hunt Says:

    jim to dd:
    Are you expanding the definition of Christianity here to embody the process of rationalization (apologetics)

    How else do you explain the difference between Christianity today and that of the first century or third century? Christianity is a moving target. Old and tested apologetics becomes new doctrine. If Christians are ever forced to accept evolution they’ll just assimilate it like the Borg. Granted, evolution is going to be a hard pill to swallow, but they’ll eventually get it down.

  14. John Morales Says:

    Hunt,

    If Christians are ever forced to accept evolution they’ll just assimilate it like the Borg. Granted, evolution is going to be a hard pill to swallow, but they’ll eventually get it down.

    Most Christians do, actually. The USA is an outlier.

  15. cl Says:

    My responses are here.