Notices
Results 1 to 34 of 34

Thread: how historically valid are testaments of the bible?

  1. #1 how historically valid are testaments of the bible? 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    22
    i'm researching comparative religions and world views. right now i am focussing on christianity in particular. the best argument for the validity of the christian religion that i have encountered so far is the historical validity of the books of the bible (especially the new testament). i am not a biblical historian (or any kind of historian for that matter). i am told that the gospels of the new testament are as valid as any other acceptable ancient document. i would like to know if they actually are. i am willing to do the homework myself (and will probably do it anyway regardless of any responses i get here) but if anyone else can give me their two cents it would give me some good places to start my own investigation.

    thank you.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    New York State
    Posts
    1,239
    It looks to me that you are overly simplifiying the situation. The books of the bible (including the gospels) contain many historical assertions. Assuming you are not a fundamentalist, you will see that some of the material has historical validity but much is highly unlikely. I suspect that a careful reader of the gospels (I am no expert) would find much contradictory material.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    22
    see the problem is that there is a difference between an historical assertion and historical accuracy. maybe i'm not wording it right.

    christians are telling me that a good reason to believe in christ is the historicity of the new testament. they assert that the gospels are recordings of eyewitness accounts of what happened during jesus' lifetime, including all the miracles he performed and his resurrection. the gospels proclaim this and as they are, according to christians, eyewitness accounts, that should be evidence of christ's divinity and that is a strong reason why they believe what they do. they go further to say that the books of the new testament are as reliable an ancient historical document as any other ancient historical document accepted by academics.

    i do not know whether or not this is the case. i do not know if the gospels can be considered a reliable historical source. i do not know if any of the bible is reliable as an historical document. i am trying to analyze them as such in order to find out whether or not these claims ought to or can be refuted.

    in short i am being told "it's true because these recordings of eyewitness accounts say so, and these recordings are valid".
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4 Re: how historically valid are testaments of the bible? 
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    110
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    i'm researching comparative religions and world views. right now i am focussing on christianity in particular. the best argument for the validity of the christian religion that i have encountered so far is the historical validity of the books of the bible (especially the new testament). i am not a biblical historian (or any kind of historian for that matter). i am told that the gospels of the new testament are as valid as any other acceptable ancient document. i would like to know if they actually are. i am willing to do the homework myself (and will probably do it anyway regardless of any responses i get here) but if anyone else can give me their two cents it would give me some good places to start my own investigation.

    thank you.
    Historical accuracy is compatible with fantasy.

    As we've observed, those religious individuals who impute natural disasters to divine judgement are also "historically accurate".
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    It contains truth in the way "the dog ate my homework" contains truth. The conscious assertion may be dubious, yet the speaker unintentionally reveals much good information, especially when we fathom motives. We gain the fact of homework, and the likely existence of a real dog, for example. We may extrapolate further. From multiple witnesses, as in the Bible, we may interpolate unspoken facts.

    Studying the Bible, to me, is like dream interpretation. Superficially, it's nonesense. Yet that nonesense exposes unconscious truths, if looked at the right way.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    22
    okay, seriously i get that the bible is full of ridiculous stuff. but we piece together histories based on the documents from whatever era we are studying. we know (or guess) that certain events happened in the past based on historical evidence and the reliability of that evidence. i am being told that the evidence of the life and teachings of christ is as reliable as the evidence for, say, the life and exploits of nero.

    so, while it is fun to make light of the bible, i really want to know if these documents stand up to the same rigorous standards of other established historical documents (as the christians are claiming) and why or why not this is the case.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    so, while it is fun to make light of the bible, i really want to know if these documents stand up to the same rigorous standards of other established historical documents (as the christians are claiming) and why or why not this is the case.
    I for one wasn't making light of it. A nightmare is a serious thing, far more telling on some levels than waking experience.


    No historical document "stands up". Scientists are always looking for a way to trip them, reinterpret them, including the documents of scientists.

    About Jesus Christ. Contemparary mention of him, by impartials, is sketchy. There seem to be a number of similar characters, with followings, and similar aliases. And none really stood out at the time.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,376
    I'd recommend Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who change the bible and why (Harper Collins 2006). He gives a good, rational review of New Testament mythology and it's historicity as well as evidences for redaction and change and why.

    While his discussion is very objective and he makes an effort not to really question the actual historicity of Jesus, you get a good sense of some of the reasons for doubting the literal word of biblical scripture and for treating it more as allegory and myth than history.

    Ehrman, an atheist (he would say "agnostic", but either you believe in a god or gods or you don't -he doesn't), doesn't dispute the existence of Jesus -he just doesn't believe he was divine. But I don't think even Ehrman would assert that the gospels were actually written by "eyewitnesses." In fact, there's no good reason to believe that either of the gospels was an eyewitness account. Instead, they're each penned versions of stories that were circulating, probably urban myths of the day. If a Jesus existed, he certainly wasn't the character we see emerge in through the mythology of christianity. Instead, he was likely a charismatic cult leader who had the ability to sway the hearts and minds of many, organizing a following much to the consternation of the status quo.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    22
    thank you, skinwalker, for your recommendation. that was exactly the kind of thing i was looking for. and i agree, the gospels themselves were not written by eyewitnesses. the christians with whom i am debating would also agree. in fact it was them who told me this. the gospel of luke, for example, was written (to the best of our knowledge) by a greek physician who was a disciple of paul. BUT, they claim (and so does luke) that it is a record of other eyewitness testimony (which makes that gospel second hand testimony).

    apparently the writing of the new testament was a movement amongst early christians to get a written record of the life and teachings of christ while the original witnesses were still around to testify. now it seems to me that an even an eyewitness testimony that is probably at least several decades old must have some errors in it. i also have no idea who those witnesses were, how reliable they were or what kind of standards the writers of the gospels used for discerning reliability. i have no idea if they were being intellectually responsible or if they might have been more accepting of any testimony that proved what they dearly wished to be true.

    interestingly this is also the same argument some jewish people use for believing what they believe. they make reference to the book of exodus where there were thousands of eyewitnesses to the cloud of the lord descending and speaking to the entire congregation. i'm not really sure what to say about that until i personally investigate such assertions for their flaws. without the investigation all i can really say is "that sounds both unbelievable and ridiculous"which is really just an opinion. i prefer my responses to be backed up by evidence.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    thank you, skinwalker, for your recommendation. that was exactly the kind of thing i was looking for. and i agree, the gospels themselves were not written by eyewitnesses. the christians with whom i am debating would also agree. in fact it was them who told me this. the gospel of luke, for example, was written (to the best of our knowledge) by a greek physician who was a disciple of paul. BUT, they claim (and so does luke) that it is a record of other eyewitness testimony (which makes that gospel second hand testimony).
    So, it's basically hearsay that somebody decided to write down. Not all books in the Bible are the same, though. Some may be more credible than others, or equally un-credible, but for different reasons.

    Judges, Kings, and Chronicles may very well have been taken from the official records of the kingdom of Israel, but the events in them are likely to be politicized. They would tell the "politically valid" version of every story, the version the king wanted people to hear. Was Goliath really 9 cubits tall, or did David just want him to be remembered that way, so his victory would be more impressive? He was probably taller than average, at least.


    Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy don't appear to have been written down at the time of their occurrence, so there's room for all kinds of embellishment.

    The later prophets who made accurate predictions were probably just the lucky ones. Their not-so-fortunate peers were forgotten, or re-interpreted so that their predictions could "kinda-sorta" be considered to have been fulfilled.

    ... And then there's Jesus Christ. Probably, when people heard about him doing miracles, they didn't exactly conduct a thorough investigation to be sure the event had occurred exactly as described. It's a kind of hysteria situation, where nobody knows who actually witnessed it, but they believe it because they've heard about so many other miracles (which were also rumors).



    apparently the writing of the new testament was a movement amongst early christians to get a written record of the life and teachings of christ while the original witnesses were still around to testify. now it seems to me that an even an eyewitness testimony that is probably at least several decades old must have some errors in it. i also have no idea who those witnesses were, how reliable they were or what kind of standards the writers of the gospels used for discerning reliability. i have no idea if they were being intellectually responsible or if they might have been more accepting of any testimony that proved what they dearly wished to be true.
    My bet is that they were being blindly optimistic, in a well intended, but highly gullible sort of way. It's not that any particular person was fomenting lies, just that information gets garbled and people choose to believe the version that makes them happy.


    interestingly this is also the same argument some jewish people use for believing what they believe. they make reference to the book of exodus where there were thousands of eyewitnesses to the cloud of the lord descending and speaking to the entire congregation. i'm not really sure what to say about that until i personally investigate such assertions for their flaws. without the investigation all i can really say is "that sounds both unbelievable and ridiculous"which is really just an opinion. i prefer my responses to be backed up by evidence.
    Either that, or maybe some ancient alchemists had come up with a way to generate a lot of smoke. Just because we want to think of Moses as an honest man doesn't mean he was one. To ordinary people of the time, ignorant of science or chemistry, the "miracle" would have only one explanation.

    Archaeologists are constantly finding devices designed to give the false appearance of a miracle. Some Greek temples had a kind of hydraulic doors that would appear to open without anyone pushing on them. There were also some interesting steam powered devices.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    If there was ever a ripe moment in history for mass hallucination, the Exodus was it. They were starving in the desert, subsisting on "manna" which is either tree sap or aphids or both, and agonised by "fiery serpents among the people" very likely the parasitic Guinea worm. They must have been delerious from malnutrition, dehydration, disease, and fatigue.

    Then along comes a dust storm, and a commanding voice from within the dust.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    22
    hearsay is the technically true word (and as we don't allow it in a court of law i wonder why historians would accept it). i imagine the christians might respond by saying it was hearsay repeated by many different witnesses. they might even also say that the witnesses themselves were likely illiterate (as most people were back then) thus the necessity of people like luke (our best possible guess) writing down those accounts.

    you mention that some of the old testament could have come from historical records but then altered politically. a christian would respond by asking why those same books also point out character flaws and foibles. yes, david slew a "giant". he also committed murder by sending uriah to the front lines of battle so he could steal uriah's wife (something king saul was trying to do to david before he ascended to the throne). god says directly to david that it was sinful to do so (so we know it was not sanctioned by god). christians are fond of pointing out that because the heroes of the bible are not always painted in a perfect light and we see their flaws then the story must be true and not altered. if moses was supposed to look so good then why was he denied entry to the promised land? why do we have the story of his murdering the egyptian? the entire books of kings and chronicles lists a series of good kings followed by evil kings. why aren't they altered to make the evil kings looks politically better than they were?

    look, i'm not saying i agree with these arguments mentioned here i just know it would be a typical response. these are responses i have to contend with.

    so far i have noticed that the only character in the whole book who always looks good (at least by ancient standards) and is always powerful is god. personally the god of the old testament is beginning to look practically demonic in my opinion.

    pong, i like the assertion of the very likely possibility of mass hallucination. interesting point: the bible mentions that the lord of hosts guided the israelites through the desert by a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night. apparently ancient egyptian armies were guided by some kind of burning brazier producing smoke by day and fire by night which would most likely be in the form of a pillar and would certainly have been known to moses given his egyptian upbringing. the difference is that the bible calls this pillar of fire god, whereas the egyptians would have just thought of it as a handy tool.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    323
    I'm sure you can get some value out of it, if you look carefully. Not that it's the same thing; but I found a graphic depiction of Scourging in Mel Gibson's film alot more illuminating than a dry text description, for example.

    Of course, both the bible and the film paints a picture that makes it seem Yeshua is the only person who ever underwent the treatment. We need to keep in mind that it not only was a very common form of punishment and/or execution that hundreds of people underwent, all over the world in some form or another, but that the Romans themselves probably had even nastier treatments for worse criminals.

    But oooohhhh, Yeshua's suffering is far more important than that of anyone else who ever had to expire slowly in the sun trying to inhale. Yeshua is claimed to have died in a matter of hours and not days, as others are reported to have taken. So why is Yeshua's ordeal considered more important than any of them???
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright
    pong, i like the assertion of the very likely possibility of mass hallucination. interesting point: the bible mentions that the lord of hosts guided the israelites through the desert by a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night. apparently ancient egyptian armies were guided by some kind of burning brazier producing smoke by day and fire by night which would most likely be in the form of a pillar and would certainly have been known to moses given his egyptian upbringing. the difference is that the bible calls this pillar of fire god, whereas the egyptians would have just thought of it as a handy tool.
    I love the way you think. You're searching for banal explanations, while most would just say "Fantastic miracle: truth or fiction?" Many of the supernatural events I think began as innocent accounts, but through translations and forgotten cultural contexts morphed into strange magic.

    Urban legend tells me that Singapore hotel rooms often contain a badly translated sign warning of "dismemberment when eating the forbidden fruit."

    I grew up in a city of diverse immigrants, where the pigeon english of resort is fast & loose, often colourful. I've learned to assume banal meaning beneath superficial weirdness.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by nlwright

    you mention that some of the old testament could have come from historical records but then altered politically. a christian would respond by asking why those same books also point out character flaws and foibles. yes, david slew a "giant". he also committed murder by sending uriah to the front lines of battle so he could steal uriah's wife (something king saul was trying to do to david before he ascended to the throne).
    Actually, it was even worse than that. David's orders were to put Uriah in the hottest part of the battle, and then retreat, leaving him to get killed, but his general Joab did one better. He approached a walled city close enough to be within range of the archers on the wall, something you just didn't do back in those days, and kept the battle going until Uriah's unit died. Instead, you usually camped around and besieged them until they got hungry enough to come out and fight.

    One interpretation of this could be that Joab was trying to make it obvious, so David couldn't hide what he'd done. The thing about political reality is you can't lie about something everybody is already aware of. You have to get out in front of it, and take responsibility, or people will stop believing in you.

    god says directly to david that it was sinful to do so (so we know it was not sanctioned by god). christians are fond of pointing out that because the heroes of the bible are not always painted in a perfect light and we see their flaws then the story must be true and not altered. if moses was supposed to look so good then why was he denied entry to the promised land? why do we have the story of his murdering the egyptian? the entire books of kings and chronicles lists a series of good kings followed by evil kings. why aren't they altered to make the evil kings looks politically better than they were?
    A smart politician makes them self "imperfect" in order to hide how truly monstrous they are. David was clawing for the crown from day one. He got King Saul to let him marry one of his daughters, then built up a reputation for himself by leading the army to victory against the philistines.

    When Saul saw what David was trying to accomplish, he naturally wanted to put a stop to it, and started trying to kill him. David made a big show of not trying to kill Saul back, even sparing his life several times when he clearly had opportunity to kill him and be done with it. But..... it's kind of suspicious how it all ended. A messenger shows up in David's camp carrying Saul's crown and arm bracelet, and *supposedly* recounts how Saul's army was losing to the philistines, and Saul requested for him to kill him so the philistines couldn't take him alive, and how the messenger had honored his request..... but then David decides to kill the messenger before he can recount this wonderful tale to anyone else. (He claimed to kill him for honoring Saul's request, and smiting royalty.)

    So: who's word do we have on the matter, other than David's?

    Wouldn't it be equally plausible to imagine that this messenger was really a paid assassin, coming back to report on the success of his mission? Maybe he was just a little too indiscreet, and got seen entering the camp by his men, so David had to improvise.



    pong, i like the assertion of the very likely possibility of mass hallucination. interesting point: the bible mentions that the lord of hosts guided the israelites through the desert by a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night. apparently ancient egyptian armies were guided by some kind of burning brazier producing smoke by day and fire by night which would most likely be in the form of a pillar and would certainly have been known to moses given his egyptian upbringing. the difference is that the bible calls this pillar of fire god, whereas the egyptians would have just thought of it as a handy tool.
    I'm liking this explanation a lot. Moses might have just been a politician, like any other, manipulating the superstitions of the people in order to ensure his control over them. The Israelites had been slaves, which would tend to make them less educated, and therefore easier to impress with simple tricks, or bright lights.

    Or maybe they just religiously believed that Jehova was in the smoke in the same way as how Catholics believe the bread and wine of the communion literally transforms into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ after they swallow it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    266
    compared to most (maybe all) other religions the new testament is very historically sound, the old testament is more diverse
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,376
    What good reason would you have for asserting that the NT is "historically sound." Keep in mind, I, like most, would take "historically sound" to mean trustworthy on most if not all accounts. Archaeological evidence, literary criticism, social sciences and psychology would tell us that the NT is anything *but* "historically sound."

    If it were "historically sound," then would we not have to accept that virgin birth is real; magic and sorcery can happen; and demons are factual. No legitimate and respected academic scholar accepts these things.

    Therefore, biblical mythology is far from "historically sound" or accurate.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    What good reason would you have for asserting that the NT is "historically sound."

    ...

    If it were "historically sound," then would we not have to accept that virgin birth is real; magic and sorcery can happen; and demons are factual.
    I argue that the OT, because it is most unreasonable, is more historically sound.

    It is "sound" because it's so far from comprehension, and reduced to supernatural graphics, that no one thinks to tamper with it. Moses had a rod of serpents, for example - why would anybody alter that factoid? It is because we've lost the banal meaning of a rod of serpents, that our imagination paints a singularly grotesque picture and we rate it sorcery. It's not the kind of detail that gets lost.

    If Jews of NT times had not forgotten what it meant (not inexplicable magic) they may have had motive to reinterpret, alter, or remove it altogether.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    What good reason would you have for asserting that the NT is "historically sound." Keep in mind, I, like most, would take "historically sound" to mean trustworthy on most if not all accounts. Archaeological evidence, literary criticism, social sciences and psychology would tell us that the NT is anything *but* "historically sound."

    If it were "historically sound," then would we not have to accept that virgin birth is real; magic and sorcery can happen; and demons are factual. No legitimate and respected academic scholar accepts these things.

    Therefore, biblical mythology is far from "historically sound" or accurate.
    For me, the "historically sound" aspect is that the writers, for the most part, wrote what they believed to have actually occurred, and did so at times fairly contemporary to the events.

    The "historically unsound" part is that they often wrote about things they couldn't have had direct knowledge of, or drew conclusions of their own about things instead of just sticking to the straight facts.

    How should the writer know whether Jesus Christ's birth was by immaculate conception, or fornication? They couldn't know that, so they wrote down what the general consensus among their peers dictated instead, which was based on mutual ignorance. I think you'll find that most of the outrageous claims of the bible follow this pattern.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Montreal
    Posts
    2,256
    I don't know how you can trust the Bible to be historically accurate when you can barely trust actual historians of that period. Embellishment was often the rule when writing history. Just read Bede's work, which is from the middle ages. He wrote about the conversion of one of the Anglo-Saxon kings to christianity by Paulinus, the story is absurd. He writes that the head priest of the pagan religion, and it is questionable that there would be any such person, that when faced with Paulinus's sound argument for Christianity is immediately convinced that he's been living a lie his entire life and runs out of the King's hall to burn down his pagan alter. Writings from this time simply can't be trusted at face value, much of what Bede wrote is likely heavily based in truth, but there is a clear bias in his work in favour of Christianity.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Spiderman's powers etc. sound pretty far-fetched. But then again, I know that a lot of the background stuff mentioned in the stories about him are true. The Spiderman movies and comic books mention many real cities, real people who are known to have existed, and real events that are known to have actually taken place. So perhaps it would be more reasonable to assume that there probably really was a person named Spiderman who really did fight crime and heroically rescue people, but probably wasn't as fantastic as the stories make him out to be?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Spiderman's powers etc. sound pretty far-fetched. But then again, I know that a lot of the background stuff mentioned in the stories about him are true. The Spiderman movies and comic books mention many real cities, real people who are known to have existed, and real events that are known to have actually taken place. So perhaps it would be more reasonable to assume that there probably really was a person named Spiderman who really did fight crime and heroically rescue people, but probably wasn't as fantastic as the stories make him out to be?
    It's true that one could use this method to tell a total lie, but when you're telling an entire nation of people their own history it's going to be pretty hard to convince them of something that doesn't have its basis in some actual events. Individual details (like miracles) can evolve as the legend is embellished, but telling an outright fabrication would require mass amnesia of the real history. Not totally impossible, but it would be a far greater feat than just embellishing.

    Here's an example of what I mean: look at these two different accounts of Napoleon crossing the Red Sea. There's a story that's been going around in Xian circles, that the Red Sea occasionally creates a passage through itself just naturally, and that this could explain Moses "dividing" it.

    http://www.secta7.com/articles/bib1.html

    http://www.napoleon-series.org/ins/s...palestine.html (start reading this one at marker #10)

    A bible writer would probably have used the first link as their source.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    266
    Moses parte the REED sea, not he red sea
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Posts
    2,376
    I have seen this "reed" sea versus "red" sea argument posited before. What is the evidence one way or the other as far as you understand it? If memory serves, it was to do with the translation of the Hebrew text.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    323
    but telling an outright fabrication would require mass amnesia of the real history
    Let's remember that the outright fabrications could have easily occurred decades after the death of the 'messiah'. It requires no amnesia then.

    All it requires is a lack of education, an absence of science and science principles, and some authoritarian figures. Oh my! All the conditions that existed then...
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by C_Sensei
    but telling an outright fabrication would require mass amnesia of the real history
    Let's remember that the outright fabrications could have easily occurred decades after the death of the 'messiah'. It requires no amnesia then.

    All it requires is a lack of education, an absence of science and science principles, and some authoritarian figures. Oh my! All the conditions that existed then...
    That's a good point. You can fabricate by way of addition, so long as you don't fabricate by way of subtraction. The main limitation is that you can't contradict the version of history that the people already have in their mind. (And the irony here is that the version of history they collectively remember might be inaccurate already.)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    323
    Look at how easily people from a first world country are led entirely down the garden path by 'faith healers' - it was a huge phenomenon in the 80's. But they still exist today.
    "Put your hands on your television set to match mine! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! Surely GAHD will grant you marcy! IF you believe!"

    And people walk away form this entirely convinced of it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by C_Sensei
    Look at how easily people from a first world country are led entirely down the garden path by 'faith healers' - it was a huge phenomenon in the 80's. But they still exist today.
    "Put your hands on your television set to match mine! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! Surely GAHD will grant you marcy! IF you believe!"

    And people walk away form this entirely convinced of it.
    In that case, the bible would be more about people publishing their naivety than any deliberate attempt to concoct a story.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Quote Originally Posted by C_Sensei
    Look at how easily people from a first world country are led entirely down the garden path by 'faith healers' - it was a huge phenomenon in the 80's. But they still exist today.
    "Put your hands on your television set to match mine! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! HEAYOL!! Surely GAHD will grant you marcy! IF you believe!"

    And people walk away form this entirely convinced of it.
    Right, and that reveals a good deal about some people. It isn't garbage; it's a source of insight. As is the Bible.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's true that one could use this method to tell a total lie, but when you're telling an entire nation of people their own history it's going to be pretty hard to convince them of something that doesn't have its basis in some actual events.
    But Spiderman isn't a complete lie. Many of the people, places, and historical events mentioned in Spiderman literature are very real. That's my point.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's true that one could use this method to tell a total lie, but when you're telling an entire nation of people their own history it's going to be pretty hard to convince them of something that doesn't have its basis in some actual events.
    But Spiderman isn't a complete lie. Many of the people, places, and historical events mentioned in Spiderman literature are very real. That's my point.
    It think the Spiderman method might work, as long as the story doesn't contradict any known historical events. He can't be elected president in your story, for example, unless the public consciousness has an incomplete memory of the line of presidencies. People seem to love seeing more details added to an incomplete story, even if they're wrong.

    I think mostly the key is to flatter the culture you're telling the story to. John Henry and Paul Bunyan are fine examples of larger than life Americans. In the old testament, Job might not have been a real historical figure. Others, like Moses, or King David, would probably have to be real people, but their history could be embellished.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It think the Spiderman method might work, as long as the story doesn't contradict any known historical events. He can't be elected president in your story, for example, unless the public consciousness has an incomplete memory of the line of presidencies. People seem to love seeing more details added to an incomplete story, even if they're wrong.
    I think a better approach would be to for each claim separately consider how much evidence would be needed to support it based on its plausibility and fantasticalness. If you find an old stone tablet saying "Jacob bought three sheep for five pieces of silver at the market," and it's dated 1000 B.C., the mere presence of a tablet telling you it happened might be enough for you to consider it likely that it happened. If it says "Jacob personally fought 50 enemies at the same time and slayed them all," well, that sounds pretty unlikely. Even though there's just as much evidence for the claim as for the "Jacob bought some sheep claim," the fact that this new claim seems far-fetched would make me skeptical, even though it's just as well-supported. If the tablet said "Jacob waved his hands and magically conjured food from thin air," well, I'm going to pretty much assume it's bullshit until there's significantly more evidence to support the notion.

    It almost seems retarded to have to explain it at such length because it seems so blindingly obvious, but that's what so many christians don't seem to get when they try to claim that the fact that the bible mentions many real people, places, and events somehow validates its fantastical magical claims. Different claims require different levels of evidence depending on their plausibility.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It think the Spiderman method might work, as long as the story doesn't contradict any known historical events. He can't be elected president in your story, for example, unless the public consciousness has an incomplete memory of the line of presidencies. People seem to love seeing more details added to an incomplete story, even if they're wrong.
    I think a better approach would be to for each claim separately consider how much evidence would be needed to support it based on its plausibility and fantasticalness. If you find an old stone tablet saying "Jacob bought three sheep for five pieces of silver at the market," and it's dated 1000 B.C., the mere presence of a tablet telling you it happened might be enough for you to consider it likely that it happened. If it says "Jacob personally fought 50 enemies at the same time and slayed them all," well, that sounds pretty unlikely. Even though there's just as much evidence for the claim as for the "Jacob bought some sheep claim," the fact that this new claim seems far-fetched would make me skeptical, even though it's just as well-supported. If the tablet said "Jacob waved his hands and magically conjured food from thin air," well, I'm going to pretty much assume it's bullshit until there's significantly more evidence to support the notion.

    It almost seems retarded to have to explain it at such length because it seems so blindingly obvious, but that's what so many christians don't seem to get when they try to claim that the fact that the bible mentions many real people, places, and events somehow validates its fantastical magical claims. Different claims require different levels of evidence depending on their plausibility.
    Only problem with that is that, when you apply it to ordinary science, the truth doesn't always seem very plausible on its face. If you're not careful, you can end up making a demand for infinite evidence, or a demand that's so steep that nobody has the funding necessary to gather it, and then science is never able to progress to the next level.

    I think I agree with this perspective as long as it isn't taken to an extreme.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Only problem with that is that, when you apply it to ordinary science, the truth doesn't always seem very plausible on its face. If you're not careful, you can end up making a demand for infinite evidence, or a demand that's so steep that nobody has the funding necessary to gather it, and then science is never able to progress to the next level.

    I think I agree with this perspective as long as it isn't taken to an extreme.
    In general the "implausible" things in science are only widely accepted once they are supported by a large amount of evidence.

    That's what christians always seem to forget when they make claims like "There's just as much historical evidence for Jesus as for Caesar!" or some such. Even ignoring the issue of whether or not that's true, none of the histories of Caesar tried to claim that he could raise the dead, conjure things out of thin air, etc.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •