Tekton Apologetics Ministries on the Pharisaic/Zoroastrian link

James Patrick Holding, writing for the Tekton Apologetics Ministries, has got guts, I’ll give him that. He takes on the evidence linking Zoroastrianism to the Pharisees, and tries to discredit it. His approach boils down to trying to manufacture some doubt about the timing, and who borrowed from whom, and he leaves out some very significant factors, but I think it’s still a brave effort on his part. He begins by admitting that there is some grounds for the connection.

I have chosen the title “close but no cigar” for this essay because of all the figures chosen by mythicists so far that I have looked at, old Zoro comes in closest to fitting their bill. Some of the things listed above are actually true and confirmed by scholarly literature — and a couple of them come from sources that Zoroastrian scholars suggest go back to a source predating Christianity.

He goes on to suggest that this connection is overstated, like “claiming a ‘100% increase’ in a salary that went from one dollar a year to two dollars,” but I think we’ll see that there’s a lot more to it than that.

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Brandon 3: One more turn around the dance floor

Brandon comes back to take his strawman on one more turn around the dance floor. It’s fairly lengthy, and involves a few small tweaks to his original argument, but it’s still the same strawman, plus an interesting explanation of why he feels this is a personal issue for me but not for him. I’ll give him this, though: he starts out with a thorough documentation of his sources (links below are his).

The Professor at “Evangelical Realism” has responded to my response to the response to my response to the response to Macht’s post. It’s a much better response, and worth reading, but I am certain it still does not adequately address the issue.

I’ll look at the high points of his argument, but first, for convenience, I’ll restate the example formula we’ve been working with, based on Geisler and Turek:

95% evidence + 5% faith = 100% conclusion

By using the unambiguous word “conclusion” to describe the belief you derive by combining faith and evidence, we eliminate the equivocation fallacy that comes from using the same term (“faith” or its synonym “belief”) to refer both to the 5% faith and the 100% conclusion. Brandon, however, is not interested in adopting this simple clarification.

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Faith and Evidence: Brandon replies

I am pleased to see that Brandon is willing to continue the discussion on faith and evidence, albeit somewhat reluctantly, apparently. It’s a thoughtful response, and I’m delighted to address it, though it does start off with a rather strange assessment.

[F]or ‘The Professor’ it is a personal point, defending reasoning actually made. For me it is not; it’s rather more abstract, an interesting case, ‘in the wild’, of an interesting form of fallacious reasoning…

I’m not sure why Brandon thought it would help his case to begin by “poisoning the well” with insinuations that I’m taking things personally instead of impartially and objectively, as he asserts is the case with himself.  But the discussion improves somewhat after this point, so let’s just let that pass.

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A visit to Tekton Apologetics Ministries

I’ve had the Tekton Apologetics Ministries (TAM) in my blogroll on the right for a little while, and I’ve been meaning to review some of the articles that are posted there, so let’s take a quick field trip and have a look around, shall we?

The main page is very well done–professionally laid out, neatly organized, colorful without being garish. Content matters more than window dressing, but first impressions matter too, and the first impression we get when we look at the site is that this is a much better than average source for Christian apologetics. They seem to have quite a bit of material here, and I expect these guys will do a better than average job presenting the arguments Christians use to try and make up for the fact that their God consistently and universally fails to show up in the real world.

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How Meyer lost the Ward/Meyer debate

At the recommendation of my good friend Mr. Admin at the Manawatu Christian Apologetics society, I’ve looked up the transcript of the debate between Stephen Meyer, of the Discovery Institute, and Peter Ward (whom Mr. Admin refers to as “Peter May” for some reason), a paleontologist at the University of Washington. Mr. Admin claims that “Your guy lost” (according to the Discovery Institute, anyway). But ID fans are easily impressed by anyone who stands up and agrees with them. My question is, did Meyer present any actual scientific support for his position? Let’s look at Meyer’s arguments (plus some of Dr. Ward’s remarks).

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Manawatu 5: the end of the road?

I’m not sure how much longer the Admin at Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society can hold out, but it looks like he’s reaching the point where he’s not getting as much satisfaction out of witnessing as he expected.

I don’t have the time to engage in cheap-shop comments from you, Professor. You can post what you like on you website and gain a few comments from your followers, however the facts march on.

Indeed, it seems he’s not willing/able to engage my comments at all. His tactic here is the same as it was before: apply a dismissive label, and then drop the subject. He throws in some vague, triumphalist-sounding rah-rah, but the real point is clear: my comments aren’t giving him the opportunity to promote his beliefs, and therefore he’s beginning to question the value of the time he’s devoting to the discussion.

This, as I’ve mentioned before (in the “About” link above) is what the trained Unapologist should be working towards: “to confront the superstitious with the real world, often enough and convincingly enough that it takes all the fun out of defending superstition.” Mr. Admin has made it quite clear that he has no intention of changing his beliefs, and it would be a waste of time for us to try. Our goal is to see to it that Christian apologists learn, through repeated experiences, that it is a waste of their time to try and confront the real-world evidence in a way that makes Christianity look real.

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Manawatu 4: Inside the creationist mind…

The Admin at Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society is proving to be a boundless source of good material. Let’s look at some more of his comments.

In one of my earlier comments on the Manawatu blog, I pointed out the fact that, by quoting evolutionists as their source for “evidence” against evolution, creationists are inadvertently documenting the fact that evolutionists are actually publishing the very evidence that creationists want to accuse them of suppressing. This is pretty much an open-and-shut case: publishing information is the exact opposite of suppressing it, and by quoting evolutionists in the very act of publishing, discussing, and addressing the allegedly “contrary” evidence, the creationists themselves are directly contradicting their own claims of deliberate suppression of the evidence.

And how does Mr. Admin respond to creationists being so blatantly caught in the act?

Regarding quotes, I think you are playing with words.

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Manawatu Round 3: Can we interpret the evidence reliably?

As always, it is a pleasure to hear from the Admin of the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society. In response to my last post and comment, Admin replies:

Professor, Apologetics breaks into at least two streams: evidentialism and presuppositionalism. No evidence is interpreted in a vacuum; it always comes thru a filter of some type.

Apparently this was intended to address my question about the goal of his apologetic if he truly feels that evidence is “somewhat of an excuse.” What he overlooks here is that there is more you can do with the evidence after it “comes through a filter of some type.”

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An answer from the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society

Last Friday, I paid a visit to the Manawatu Christian Apologetics society, commenting on “What would it take for a Darwinist to change his mind.” To my delight, the “admin” approved my comments, and responded:

By admin on Sep 14, 2007 | ReplyDear Professor. You personally believe many things without verifiable evidence. In Jesus’ day, people saw miracles firsthand but later rejected them.

Evidence is somewhat of an excuse because however much evidence you are given, you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias against the supernatural. Enjoy the debate.

As for evolutionists changing their minds — so why do you believe them if their evidence keeps changing? Do you have sufficient evidence that it is true or are you taking it on faith? If so, I would point out that perhaps a double standard is at work

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A visit to the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society

I notice the Manawatu (New Zealand) Christian Apologetics Society has a post entitled “What would it take for a Darwinist to change his mind?” Even though the post is just an announcement about a debate between Paul Nelson and Michael Ruse (at Biola, which is not in New Zealand), I thought it would be fun to drop by the comments box and leave an answer to the title question.

For a Darwinist to change his mind, all you need to do is give him verifiable evidence. Most of the quotes used by creationists come from discussions in which evolutionists examine the evidence and change their minds to fit the new evidence. This is how they arrive at views that “contradict” earlier conclusions. If they didn’t do that, where would creationists get their quotes?

The comment is flagged as “awaiting moderation.” Let’s see if they (a) ignore it, (b) delete it, or (c) try to respond to it.

 
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