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Now, we are all experts in New testament studies.

Quote from: Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey

How Scholars Study the New Testament ?

The academic field of New Testament study has developed into a discipline that encompasses different approaches and employs a variety of methods.

Text Criticism

Text critics analyze the various manuscripts of the New Testament that have been preserved
over the centuries, comparing them, dating them, and employing various techniques to determine which are the most reliable. Their goal is to reconstruct what the original manuscripts probably said, noting also “variant readings” when one or more of the copies that have been made over the years says something different. Significant variant readings are sometimes noted in footnotes in English Bibles (see, e.g., the footnote to Matt. 10: 3 in the NRSV, which notes that the disciple of Jesus called “Thaddaeus” is referred to as “Lebbaeus” in some manuscripts).


Archaeologists excavate ancient cities and other sites important to the New Testament world, and they have uncovered an enormous amount of physical evidence that supplies background information for interpreting these texts. They have also discovered ancient documents from this period, the most important finds being the library of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which tells us a good deal about the diversity of first-century Jewish religion, and the Nag Hammadi gnostic library, which tells us a good deal about the diversity of early Christianity.

Sociological Criticism

Scholars examine the New Testament with perspectives and tools derived from the social sciences, including the field of sociology. They are attentive to a number of matters that characterized the social world of the Roman Empire during the New Testament era: the phenomenon of the Pax Romana; the Diaspora migrations of Jewish people; the military occupation of Palestine; and an economic system that virtually eliminated the middle class, leaving a few people rich and almost everyone else poor. New Testament scholars who are trained in sociology examine the New Testament writings to see how the effects of these social phenomena are addressed.

Cultural Anthropology

Derived from the social sciences, cultural anthropology seeks to understand what happens in a given culture by way of comparison with what is known about other cultures. Cultural anthropologists study matters such as kinship relations, power structures, gender roles, economic systems, and strategies for education. With regard to the New Testament, they have analyzed the purity codes that defined what most people considered to be “clean” and “unclean” and the social value system that led people to prize acquisition of honor above all else.

Historical Criticism The term historical criticism has sometimes been used in New Testament studies as an umbrella term for those approaches that focus on the circumstances of a text’s composition (e.g., source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism [discussed below]) as distinct from “literary criticism,” which encompasses approaches that focus on interpretation of the text that is now before us (e.g., narrative criticism, rhetorical criticism, reader-response criticism, ideological criticism [also discussed below]). In a strict sense, however, the term historical criticism refers to the ways in which a historian might use the New Testament to learn about history. Historians (whether they are Christian or not) view Jesus, Paul, and other figures of the New Testament as important and interesting people, and they understand the emergence of Christianity to be one of the most significant developments in human history. Thus, they use the New Testament as a resource for understanding the lives and circumstances of these people and for reconstructing the events that transpired concerning them.

Source Criticism

The discipline of source criticism attempts to move behind the New Testament texts to posit hypotheses regarding materials that the biblical authors might have used in composing their documents. In 1 Corinthians 11: 23– 26 Paul quotes from an early Christian liturgy, and he appears to incorporate a Christian hymn into his letter to the Philippians (see Phil. 2: 6– 11). The authors of our four Gospels also appear to have possessed some written materials about Jesus that they drew upon when writing their books (see Luke 1: 1). Source critics try to identify these materials, and sometimes they even attempt to reconstruct them.

Form Criticism

The discipline of form criticism seeks to classify different materials found in the New Testament according to literary genre or type (“ form”) and to draw conclusions relevant to interpretation based on these classifications. Different types of material can be discerned: genealogies, parables, miracle stories, speeches, hymns, creeds, proverbs, and many more. Form critics are usually interested in identifying the Sitz im Leben (“ setting in life”) that each of these types of literature would have served, which implies certain assumptions about its purpose: a joke might be employed for the purpose of entertainment, while a prayer might be employed for the purpose of worship. Form critics often have practiced their discipline in tandem with source criticism but with a view to discerning oral sources that stand behind the New Testament texts.

Redaction Criticism

 Used mainly in Gospel studies, redaction criticism tries to determine the particular intentions of New Testament authors by analyzing how they arranged and edited their source materials. The discipline typically involves two methods: (1) composition analysis looks at how various units are arranged within the particular book— the order or placement of individual units, the sequence of material, and the overall organization of the book; (2) emendation analysis looks at alterations that the Gospel author probably made in his source material— additions, omissions, and other changes that reveal the author’s priorities and preferences.

Narrative Criticism

Also used primarily with the Gospels (and the book of Acts), narrative criticism draws upon the insights of modern literary analysis to determine the particular effects that the biblical stories were expected to have on their readers. Like redaction criticism, narrative criticism is interested in treating each book on its own and discerning what is distinctive about it, but whereas redaction criticism focuses on composition (how the author organized and edited his material), narrative criticism focuses on reception (how readers are expected to be impacted or affected by the work).  Narrative critics often analyze a Gospel the way literary critics interpret a short story: they pay attention to how the plot is advanced, how characters are developed, how conflict is introduced or resolved, and how rhetorical features such as symbolism and irony affect the reader’s perception of what is happening.

Rhetorical Criticism

The focus of rhetorical criticism is on the strategies employed by biblical authors to achieve particular purposes. Rhetorical critics are interested not only in the point that a work wishes to make, but also in the basis on which that point is established (the types of arguments or proofs that are used): sometimes external evidence or documentation may be cited; sometimes the trustworthy character of the writer is invoked; at other times, an appeal is made to the readers’ emotions or sense of logic.

Reader-Response Criticism

The approach to New Testament texts known as reader-response criticism focuses on how texts have been understood and might be understood by readers who engage them in different ways and in various contexts. Reader-response critics are typically interested in “polyvalence”— that is, the capacity for any text to mean different things to different people. Most reader-response critics are interested in exploring how readers contribute to the process of interpretation, bringing their own perspectives and presuppositions to texts and reading them in light of these. For example, they analyze how factors of social location (age, gender, nationality, economic status, etc.) inevitably affect the ways readers engage texts and help to determine what they think those texts mean. One type of reader-response criticism known as Wirkungsgeschichte (“ history of influence”) seeks to document and explain how given texts have been read throughout history— how they have been used in theological discussions, liturgy, preaching, art, and other modes of both scholarly and popular reception.

Ideological Criticisms

Somewhat related to reader-response criticism are a number of approaches to the New Testament that seek to explore how these writings might be interpreted when they are read from particular ideological perspectives. Varieties of feminist criticism expound what different books or passages mean when read from a feminist point of view. A related field called “womanist criticism” interprets texts from the specific perspective of African American women. “Postcolonial criticism” brings to the fore interpretations from the perspectives of marginalized and oppressed peoples of the earth, especially those in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. These approaches and others like them (Marxist, Jungian, etc.) seek to put forward interpretations that other scholars may have missed due to the limitations of their own, usually unacknowledged, ideological perspectives. They also ask questions about the ideological perspectives of the biblical authors themselves, and they seek to expose ideological assumptions that may be inherent in texts produced in particular cultures and contexts.

Deconstruction : a method used by postmodern biblical critics who assert that all interpretations of texts are based on subjective criteria and, so, possess no intrinsic claim to legitimacy.

Exegesis and Hermeneutics

Biblical scholars sometimes make a distinction between exegesis and hermeneutics. The first term, exegesis, refers to scholarly study of the Bible with an emphasis on the actual explication of texts; the academic approaches described above involve the use of exegetical methods. The second term, hermeneutics, refers more broadly to philosophical reflection on the process of interpretation, including consideration of questions regarding what the goal of interpretation should be, and of the various ways in which biblical passages might be regarded as meaningful. Should the New Testament be studied as a collection of historical documents to determine what they reveal about the origins of Christian religion? Should it be analyzed and evaluated for its aesthetic and artistic qualities? Should it be approached as a resource for the development of religious dogma? Should it be studied (academically) as scripture, as a book that reveals the very thoughts of God, and if so, what does that mean? One person might believe that the New Testament is the inerrant word of God; another might regard it as containing books that retain the marks of both divine inspiration and human fallibility. Clearly, interpretation of the New Testament can be affected by the different hermeneutical assumptions that interpreters make regarding these writings.

One of the most common mistakes students make when they are new to the field of academic biblical studies is to associate particular exegetical methods with specific hermeneutical stances. Here are some examples: (1) a student reads a book by an archaeologist who claims to provide evidence that certain biblical stories are factual and correct, so the student concludes that archaeology typically is used by scholars who want to prove the accuracy of biblical narratives; (2) a student reads a book by a redaction critic who claims that the Gospel authors edited their source material in ways that reveal that they had inconsistent and competing agendas, so the student concludes that redaction criticism typically is used by scholars who want to emphasize contradictory points in scripture; (3) a student reads a book by a rhetorical critic who maintains that Paul’s argument in a particular letter is so persuasive that it should be accepted by everyone today, so the student concludes that rhetorical criticism typically is used by scholars who want to encourage readers to accept what the biblical authors taught as being valid for our time; (4) a student reads a book by a narrative critic who regards the Gospels as fictional tales, so the student concludes that narrative criticism typically is used by scholars who do not think the Gospels offer historically accurate accounts of first-century events.

All of these conclusions would be false. All the exegetical methods and academic disciplines described above are used by people who operate with different hermeneutical assumptions and interests. The methods themselves are simply tools that are employed for very different purposes by people with different attitudes and goals. The beginning student must be careful not to evaluate the legitimacy or value of a method based on limited exposure to its employment. Furthermore, most scholars use these methods in combination with each other; they examine a text with one approach to answer one set of questions and with another approach to answer a different set of questions. They use one method one day and another method the next day.

Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey

alex1212 posted this link on another thread, about an interesting argument
A New Natural Interpretation of the Empty Tomb

And, I wanted to ask if any of you guys ( Theists and ideal agnostics) have any confusion or doubts about it or due to it, specially, Christian theists.

If so, feel free to contact me on personal message or here, we can converse about it.

Note: ideal agnostics

Quote audience of ideal agnostics-and now we understand by this term agnostics of the common-or-garden variety, people who neither believe that God exists nor believe that God does not exist.' But our ideal agnostics are not mere agnostics. They are, so to speak, neutral agnostics. When I was using a debate about nominalism and realism as my example of an ideal debate, I said the following about the audience : "they... stand to the question whether there are universals as you, no doubt, stand to the question whether the number of Douglas firs in Canada is odd or even." This sort of neutrality is no consequence of agnosticism simpliciter...

Peter van Inwagen. The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of St. Andrews in 2003 


Very recently, I have taken an interest on Redaction criticism, I think it is absolutely fascinating.

Quote from: Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament

Redaction Criticism of the Gospels
The goal of redaction criticism is to uncover the particular theologies of the
individual evangelists by analyzing the manner in which they “redacted” (or
edited) their Gospels.
Presuppositions of Redaction Criticism
•    The Gospel authors were not eyewitnesses for much that they report—they
had to rely on oral and written reports passed on to them by others.
•    The Gospel authors did have such sources: some written materials regarding
words and deeds of Jesus and his followers and many accounts that had
come to them through oral tradition.
•    The Gospel authors were not just “scissors and paste” collectors interested in
preserving these source materials; they wanted to tell coherent stories that
would be rhetorically effective, and they had to edit the source materials to
make them fit into their narratives.
•    The Gospel authors were not disinterested reporters but “evangelists” with
distinctive theological commitments and ideals; they edited their source
materials accordingly.
What Redaction Critics Do
Redaction critics analyze the Gospel narratives to detect editorial tendencies.
This analysis is of two basic types.
Emendation Analysis
This type of analysis attempts to discern an author’s distinctive interests by
observing changes that have been made in the source material. This procedure
presupposes possession of the source material so that comparisons between
the Gospel and its source can be made.
Emendation analysis works best in study of those portions of Matthew and Luke
that are thought to be derived from Mark, because the text from Matthew or
Luke can be compared side by side with that of Mark, and the changes that
either Matthew or Luke made can be clearly seen.
•    In Mark 4:40, Jesus says to his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still
no faith?”
•    In Matthew 8:26, he says, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?”
The dominant theory is that Matthew had a copy of Mark’s Gospel and changed
the words “no faith” to “little faith.” This affects how the disciples of Jesus are
perceived by Matthew’s readers, and it may reveal something about Matthew’s
understanding of discipleship.

Emendation analysis is less helpful in the study of Matthew/Luke parallels where
the apparent source was not Mark’s Gospel but, possibly, a now lost document
that scholars call “Q.”
•    In Luke 6:20, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor.”
•    In Matthew 5:3, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The dominant theory is that the source used by Matthew and Luke (Q) said either
“you who are poor” or “the poor in spirit,” and one of the two Gospels (Matthew
or Luke) changed it; however, it is difficult to know which one made the change.
Emendation analysis seems to be least helpful in the study of Mark, John, or
passages unique to Matthew (“M” material) or Luke (“L” material). Even then,
however, the distinction between “tradition” and “framework” material made by
source and form critics allows for some application of the method.
Composition Analysis

This type of analysis attempts to discern an author’s distinctive interests by noting
how individual units have been ordered and arranged in the work as a whole.
First, composition analysis includes general observations regarding the overall
structure of a Gospel.

The Gospel of Luke devotes ten chapters (9:51–19:40) to describing a
journey that Jesus makes to Jerusalem, a trip that appears to be covered in
about half a chapter elsewhere (Mark 10:32–52). This affects the plot of Luke’s
overall story and reveals something distinctive about Luke’s perspective.
Second, composition analysis is used to examine the immediate contexts of
individual passages in the Gospels.

In Matthew 18:15–20, Jesus outlines procedures for removing an unrepentant
sinner from the church. In the immediately preceding passage
(18:10–14), Jesus relates the parable of the lost sheep, in which he
concludes, “It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these
little ones should be lost” (18:14). And in the very next passage, Matthew
presents an episode in which Jesus insists that his followers should forgive
each other repeatedly (18:21–22). Thus, Matthew has deliberately chosen
to sandwich the harsh words dealing with possible expulsion between
stories that emphasize forgiveness and mercy. This affects how Matthew’s
reader hears the harsh words, and it reveals something about Matthew’s
own theological priorities.

Pioneer Works in Redaction Criticism
New Testament redaction criticism began in Europe in the 1950s. It took a
few years for works to be translated and produced in English, but the most
important volumes for defining the discipline were these three studies of the
Synoptic Gospels:
Bornkamm, Günther, Gerhard Barth, and Heinz Joachim Held. Tradition and
Interpretation in Matthew. Translated by Percy Scott. NTL. Philadelphia:
Westminster, 1963.
Conzelmann, Hans. The Theology of Saint Luke. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1961.
Marxsen, Willi. Mark the Evangelist: Studies on the Redaction History of the Gospel.
Nashville: Abingdon, 1969.

Sosa is probably my favorite skeptic philosopher.

Just an extract for those interested on the subject, and, whom might want to comment.

Quote from: Ernest Sosa
"Suppose, on the other hand, that one can properly self-attribute perceptual or introspective knowledge despite lacking any very determinate scientific account of the operative psychological mechanisms. In that case, might not the same be true of intuition? Recall our account of intuition:   

(I2) At t, it is intuitive to S that p iff (a) if at t S were merely to understand fully enough the proposition that p (absent relevant perception, introspection, and reasoning), then S would believe that p;
(b) at t, S does understand the proposition that p; and
 (c) the proposition that p is abstract.   

We had concluded that many propositions thus intuited are also known: for example, that 2 + 2 = 4; that no cube is a sphere; that nothing is numerically self-diverse. If the appeal to intuition is to help explain in some way how one knows any of these things, then intuition must presumably be a reliable “source” of true belief, but here its thinness becomes problematic. How can anything so thin help explain anything? Recall, however, Descartes’ reasoning about the cogito: I am certain that I am a thinking thing. Do I not therefore also know what is required for my being certain about anything? In this first item of knowledge there is simply a clear and distinct perception of what I am asserting; this would not be enough to make me certain of the truth of the matter if it could ever turn out that something which I perceived with such clarity and distinctness was false. So I now seem to be able to lay it down as a general rule that whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true. (Descartes 1984: 24) Descartes reflects, first, that only its clarity and distinctness makes it certain to him that he thinks, but, second, that this could not be so unless the clarity and distinctness of a belief reliably guaranteed its truth. And the courage of his convictions moves him to draw the entailed conclusion. Suppose we do take ourselves to know the propositions listed: that 2 + 2 = 4, and so forth, as, I assume, we all do. Suppose it is clear to us that these do not derive from perception or introspection or reasoning, which again seems uncontroversial. If we persist in thinking that we still do know such facts, presumably it cannot be just a coincidence that we are right in believing them. It must be more than a coincidence that, with regard to these facts, we get it right: that we would believe that p only were it so that p. Not only must we be so constituted and positioned, so related to the subject matter, that we would get it right, or tend to get it right; in addition, it cannot be just an accident that we are now so constituted and related. 5 Thus, compare: If in a house of mirrors I happen to stand before the one true mirror, then even if I thereby mirror in my beliefs the facts reflected in that mirror, I still do not thereby know those facts if I would have believed similarly had I been standing before any of the distorting mirrors all around. Knowledge requires a belief that mirrors the fact believed and does so nonaccidentally in relevant respects. This in turn requires that the mirroring or tracking involved derive from the exercise of an epistemic virtue seated in the subject and exercised in appropriate circumstances. For many sorts of perception we have impressive understanding of the mechanisms that seat the relevant faculties in the subject. Quite a lot is known, for example, about the structures in a subject’s eyes, brain, and nervous system, that seat in that subject her faculties of visual perception. About introspection, however, we know much less.

Each of perception and introspection seems at least receptive to the following schema:

S ø’s that p only if S believes that p in virtue partly of these facts:
(a) that S understands the proposition that p, and
(b) that the proposition that p is true and of a certain sort s, one appropriate for ø’ing.

Thus in a case of visual perception:

S sees that this is white and round only if S believes that this is white and round in virtue partly of these facts:
 (a) that S understands the proposition that this is white and round, and
 (b) that this proposition is both true and one that attributes a color and shape to a seen and indicated object, and is hence of a sort

appropriate for sight. And in a case of introspection: S introspects that she has a headache only if S believes that she has a headache in virtue partly of these facts: (a) that S understands the proposition that she has a headache, and (b) that the proposition in question is both true and one that attributes a present mental state to the attributor, and is hence of a sort appropriate for introspection. What shall we say analogously of intuition?
Try this:

 S intuits that 2 + 2 = 4 only if S believes that 2 + 2 = 4 in virtue partly of these facts:
(a) that S understands the proposition that 2 + 2 = 4, and
(b) that the proposition in question is both true and abstract, and is hence of a sort appropriate for intuition.

Obviously not all abstract truths can be known by unaided intuition. Hence it would seem important to distinguish the specific factor d that makes the truth of an abstract proposition reliably discernible on inspection. Such a discernibility factor d would help us understand better how it is that intuition provides knowledge of the abstract. Notice now the parallel between intuition and introspection. To intuit is to believe an abstract proposition merely because one understands it and it is of a certain sort IT. To introspect is to believe a proposition about a concurrent mental state of one’s own that one believes merely because one understands it and it is of a certain sort IS."

Deductive Arguments and Probability

McGrew helped me to see that there can be cases in which each individual premise is more probable than not and yet it would be irrational to believe the conjunction of the premises. He explained,

The problem here is one of closure – specifically, closure under conjunction. There is a literature on this, and one of the key papers in that literature is Henry Kyburg, “Conjunctivitis,” in M. Swain, ed., Induction, Acceptance, and Rational Belief (1970). I take it that the chief lesson of that literature is that there are cases where it is rational to believe P and rational to believe Q without its being rational to believe the conjunction (P&Q). Lotteries provide very intuitive examples of this, since in a simple fair finite lottery with exactly one winner to be drawn, it is reasonable to believe that ticket 1 is a loser, reasonable to believe that ticket 2 is a loser, ... all the way up to the last number. But obviously it is unreasonable to believe the conjunction of these statements; the conjunction would contradict the very terms of the lottery since (taken with our background knowledge) it would entail that there is no winner.[2]

Quote from: Problems for Bayesian Epistemology
<<... The debate about this turns largely on issues first broached by Henry Kyburg (1970). If prob(P) and prob(Q) are less than 1, it follows from the probability calculus that prob(P&Q) will normally be less than either prob(P) or prob(Q).8  Kyburg was not a Bayesian, but he did believe that (what in his theory played
the role of) degrees of warrant were probabilities, and so he bit the bullet and insisted that even if we are warranted in believing both P and Q, it does not follow that we are warranted in believing (P&Q). According to Kyburg, inferring (P&Q) from P and Q is a logical fallacy, which he dubbed “conjunctivitis”.

Kyburg’s claims have inspired much disagreement within epistemology. Many epistemologists
take it to constitute a reductio ad absurdum of the view that degree of warrant satisfies the
probability calculus
. After all, the inference from P and Q to (P&Q) is just the classical rule of
adjunction (or &-introduction). How could any inference be more justified than that? But other
epistemologists have sided with Kyburg, insisting that adjunction is not a valid inference rule.

Let us say that an inference scheme P1,…,Pn w Q is probabilistically valid iff it follows from the
probability calculus that prob(Q) is at least as great as the minimum of prob(P1),…,prob(Pn).

Kyburg’s objection to adjunction amounts to observing that it is not probabilistically valid.

Philosophers who have been tempted to agree with Kyburg have generally overlooked the fact that
most of our standard inference rules are probabilistically invalid.

For example, modus ponens and modus tollens are probabilistically invalid.

In fact, no deductive inference rule having multiple premises essentially (i.e., the rule is no longer deductively valid if any premise is deleted) can be probabilistically valid. This is because the probability calculus can only guarantee that the conclusion is as probable as the conjunction of the premises, so problems for adjunction affect all of these other rules as well.

The upshot is that if we follow Kyburg, deductive reasoning can play little role in justifying beliefs. Non-deductive (defeasible) inference rules are not probabilistically valid either, so reasoning is robbed of its role in epistemology.>> (Problems for Bayesian Epistemology. John L. Pollock)

Apologetics and Theology / Off for a while.
« on: February 15, 2016, 09:15:47 am »
1st, I need to say that I have been , as everyone knows, quite obnoxious lately, more so than usual.
For that I am sorry, but, I am not apologizing, I am just sorry.

2nd. As much as I have my part, many of you should be ashamed of wasting other ´s people´s time and efforts, with such dishonest and shameful behaviour as many of you are showing these days.

3rd. I do apologize to the admins, because, after all, I am sure they desire for these forums to be a place of growth, for both theists and atheists, and, they probably focus all their efforts into that direction

    At the same time, I have to say that in my perception, it is not working, it is more and more a poorer image of what has been before.

4th. I can always be wrong, on many things, but, it is either that some of you are too stupid to be dealing with these matters or too dishonest, I have to choose the later, because, I find it hard to believe it is the 1st.

It is not honest to purposedly twist words and concepts just to offer resistance to what is obviously the case,just to not concede anything to the other view. This is not to say that there are not plenty of issues that are not as obvious and clear. But it has become custom to resist even the self evident and even logical contradictions are ignored, to the point of the discussions becoming just silly caricatures of philosophical discourse.

I enjoy these subjects and learning and exchanging ideas about them, but,  I find it disrepectful of my person, my time and other´s that people will be so childish in this way. I have no more patience left, right now, for this state of things.

There are always exceptions, and to those, even if in disagreement in our views, thanks.

For the time being, bye.

Apologetics and Theology / Perfect Goodnes
« on: February 15, 2016, 12:26:14 am »
All properties N posited as being the good, suffer from an attack by Moore´s open question.
The property of Perfect Goodness is such that moral concept users, in  a good cognitive state and conditions will skew the open question when they  a-posteriori are exposed or experience  in the presence of Perfect goodness, and even, if they had to answer Moore´s open question they would answer it in the positive ( Perfect Goodness is the good).

Moore´s open question goes roughly : Given that N is the stuff that directs and regulates our use of the concept "good" , is N good? or the good?

All N´s, other than Perfect goodness, present a gap against the good, that is exposed when facing Moore´s open question.

Perfect Goodness is unsurpassed in that there is no gap, and none is presented to the ideal moral concept user, Moore´s open question is not here nor there, for such an ideal moral concept user, when experiencing in the presence of Perfect Goodness.

Apologetics and Theology / Are statements of fact justified?
« on: January 27, 2016, 03:43:12 am »

One increasingly frustrating experience that I have in these threads is that many skeptics (not necessarily only skeptics though) do not read enough on the subjects, they bring their pressupositions (as we all do), but not the knowledge, once one has explained what one has learned from the literature, they will just change their discourse to accomodate the new information into their original conclusions, which at times might be correct, but, it should go with out saying  it is hardly plausible that this is the case most of the time.

Anyways, below I explain about statements fo facts, statements of observation and statements of inference.

Is an statement of fact a justified statement of observation, through the historical criticism criteria of authenticiy? is it a matter of name?  is it a matter of just passing certain historical criteria? what does it carry with to pass such criteria?

Quote from: ontologicalme
There are statments of observation (i.e testimony) and there are statements of inference (i.e. hypotheses)
And then there are statements of fact, which are, baisically, statements of obseration that can be justified or verified.

I can say that the tomb was found emtpy by mary, and other women

and independently

You can say that the tomb was found emty by mary of magdalene, and others.

both above are statements of observation

an statement of fact justified by the two statements  above is

"The tomb was found empty by mary and others"

This statement of fact along with other statements of fact requires an statement of inference that explains them together

Quote from: LADZDAL
OK. It seems this is a rather academic discussion about where criticisms of the resurrection argument ought to be correctly placed.

If the facts are just "statements of fact" I should point out that a claim passing certain historical criteria is not enough to justify "facthood".

If the facts are qualified as "historically attested facts" I could accept these but then miscommunication is a perfectly valid explanation to explain these "historically attested facts" i.e. I don't need to accept them as true I merely need to accept them as attested.

Let´s take the criteria of multiple independent testification.

What does Lewis say about it?

Quote from: Consider  the following Lewis´s famous passage on “relatively unreliable witnesses who independently tell the same story” from his 1946 book

"For any one of these reports, taken singly, the extent to which it confirms what is reported may be slight. And antecedently, the probability of what is reported may also be small. But congruence of the reports establishes a high probability of what they agree upon, by principles of probability determination which are familiar: on any other hypothesis than that of truth-telling, this agreement is highly unlikely; the story any one false witness might tell being one out of so very large a number of equally possible choices. (It is comparable to the improbability that successive drawings of one marble out of a very large number will each result in the one white marble in the lot.) And the one hypothesis which itself is congruent with this agreement becomes thereby commensurably well established. "

Is it true because Lewis says so? no, Lewis is simply bringing out the distinction,that by familiar principles of probability the congruence of independent reports establishes a high probability of what they agree upon.



Even though, most people do not seem to get the gist of mathematical formulations (and this is no sin), seems to me that, for completeness it is a good addition, to the subject.

Mathematically then, it is to say that:

Let E1 and E2 be two statements of observations asserting that A

P(E1|A E2 )  = P(E1|A)
P(E2| A E1) = P(E2|A)

Conditional Independence
P(E2 | E1, A) = P(E2 | A)
P(E2 | E1,¬A) = P(E2 | ¬A)
weak foundationalism
P(A | E1) >P(A)
P(A | E2) > P(A)
Coherence Justification
P(A | E1, E2) >> P(A)

Then A becomes an statement of fact

So, one already can start to sense that it is not a matter of just passing some criteria, there is a probabilistic assent to pass such criteria. So, it becomes not a matter of just accepting or not the criteria, but, one needs to confront the reality that there is reason to think the  statement is a true statement and statement of fact.

Let´s comment on the criteria of embarrassment

...Authentic material is discerned through a number of criteria, many of which are familiar from the New Quest: dissimilarity, multiple attestation and coherence. To this he adds the criterion of embarrassment (which accepts material which the early Christians might have preferred not to be there, such as Jesus’ baptism ‘for the forgiveness of sins’, his association with sinners or his difficult relations with his family) ...

That Jesus was baptized by John is certain. The close connection between baptism and the removal of sin led to a certain embarrassment on the part of the earliest Christians in admitting that Jesus underwent the rite. Luke and John pass over the baptism very quickly (Lk 3.21– 2, Jn 1.32– 4), while Matthew adds a brief conversation in which John expresses his unworthiness to baptize Jesus (Mt 3.14– 15). This very embarrassment, however, confirms the historicity of the event.As

Bond, Helen (2012-03-29). Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) (p. 31). Continuum UK.

So, is it that embarrassment is just some old idea that historical critics just threw in there?

Perhaps not.

Let E1 be the proposition that the a witness reports that A, and A is a fact that the witness (i.e. early Christians) might have preferred not to be there.

This means that A ocurring predicts better that E1, that A not ocurring (~A).
P(E1 | A ) > P( E1| ~A)

This is the key point here. If the statement A predicts (implies or raises the probability of E1, higher than ~A), as A should do with respect to E1 for obvious logical reasons.


What we want to know is then if E1 increases the probability of A ocurring:
P( A | E 1) > P(A)

by bayes we have that when E1 increases the probability of A ocurring :
P( A | E 1) =  P( E1| A) P(A)                                       >   P(A)
                         P( E1| A) P(A) + P( E1| ~A) P( ~A)

P( E1| A) >  P( E1| A) P(A) + P( E1| ~A) P( ~A)

P( E1 | A) P(~A)   >   P(E1 | ~A) P (~A)

P( E1| A) > P(E1 | ~A)

Conclusion: if  E1 is a proposition that the a witness reports that A, and A is a fact that the witness (i.e. early Christians) might have preferred not to be there, then P( A|E1) > P(A)

Then we see that for E1 to raise the probability of A being an statement of fact ( a propositon that is true) what we need is that A predicts E1 , better than ~A . And, it is obvious that an statement  that A , like E1, is much better predicted than by ~A, specially, if the witness has reasons not to tell about it  , and the more A predicts better E1, than ~A the more E1 raises the probability of A of being a factual statement.

So again, it is not just a matter of passing some criteria.

Even though there is no formal criterion of no competing narratives, as far as I know, just for the interest of it, I will comment briefly on it:,


No competing narratives
That there are no competing narratives relevant might be seen by checking bayes theorem

P( A | E 1 E2) =  P( E1 E2| A) P(A)                                     
                         P( E1 E2| A) P(A) + P( E1 E2 | ~A) P( ~A)

Generally , If E1 and E2  do not compete , P( E1 E2| A) effect will be greater than P( E1 E2 | ~A) increasing P( A | E 1 E2)

Seems to me, it is even more important thought that

P( E1 E2 | ~A) is small and rather tends to zero  P( E1 E2 | ~A) <<1

since ~A explains quite poorly the 2 independent statements asserting A.

and this has the effect that  P( A | E 1 E2)  tends to 1,  P( A | E 1 E2)  --> 1

So, I will repeat the main idea of this post. It is not a matter of just passing some criteria, but a matter of probabilistic confirmation, which can give us good reasons to accept such statements as true propositions as statements of facts.

To answer LADZDAL, one can offer what ever hypothesis one fancies, but, if one wants to assent to the fact that  evidence probabilistically confirms hypotheses in as much as a hypotheses explains the evidence, on pain of risk of irrationality , one needs to offer a hypothesis that explains the confirmed data (statements of fact).


The neural binding problem(s)

Quote from: Martinez-Conde et al. 2008
"There is now overwhelming biological and behavioral evidence that the brain contains no stable, high-resolution, full field representation of a visual scene, even though that is what we subjectively experience" (Martinez-Conde et al. 2008).

Quote from: Kaas and Collins 2003
"The structure of the primate visual system has been mapped in detail (Kaas and Collins 2003) and there is no area that could encode this detailed information. The subjective experience is thus inconsistent with the neural circuitry. "

Martinez-Conde S, Krauzlis R, Miller J, Morron C, Williams D, Kowler E. Eye movements and the perception of a clear and stable visual world. J Vision. 2008;8(14):1. doi: 10.1167/8.14.1.

Kaas JH, Collins CE, editors. The primate visual system. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2003.

On neopolitan's interesting  philosophical blog on the Modal ontological argument:
neopolitan's philosophical blog: WLC7: When an Ontological Argument Simply Isn't

Quote from: Nepolitan
This is a straightforward polysyllogism:
Premise 1 - If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
Premise 2 - If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
Premise 3 - If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
Premise 4 - If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
Assertion – It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
Conclusion – Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
The major problem with this argument is highlighted by simply placing the Assertion directly above the Conclusion.  This should not affect the argument, for example

The argument is valid as it is formally shown below:
Quote from: Maydole´s formalization of Plantinga´s MOA, in 2nd order quantified logic
Ax =df x is maximally great
Bx =df x is maximally excellent
W(Y) =df Y is a universal property
Ox =df x is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect

1. ◊∃xAx                                                                                    pr
2. □(x) (Ax ≡ □Bx)                                                                         pr
3. □(x) (Bx ⊃ Ox)                                                                          pr
4. ( Y) [W(Y) ≡ (□(∃x)Yx  v (□¬(∃x)Yx) )                                          pr
5. ( Y) [(∃Z) □(x) (Yx ≡ □Zx) ⊃ W(Y)]                                              pr
6. (∃Z) □(x) (Ax ≡ □Zx)                                                               2,EG
7. (∃Z) □(x) (Ax ≡ □Zx) ⊃ W(A)                                                   5,UI
8. W(A) ≡ (□(∃x)Ax  v (□¬(∃x)Ax)                                               4,UI
9. W(A)                                                                                   6,7,MP
10. W(A) ⊃ (□(∃x)Ax  v (□¬(∃x)Ax)                                             8,Equiv,Simp
11. □(∃x)Ax  v (□¬(∃x)Ax)                                                      9,10,MP
12.   ¬◊¬¬(∃x)Ax v □(∃x)Ax                                                     11,COM,ME
13. ◊(∃x)Ax ⊃ □(∃x)Ax                                                             12,DN,Impl
14. □(∃x)Ax                                                                           1,13,MP
15. □(x) (Ax ≡ □Bx) ⊃ (□(∃x)Ax ⊃ □(∃x)□Bx)                                  theorem
16. □(∃x)□Bx                                                                        14,15,MP(twice)
17. □(x) (Bx ≡ Ox) ⊃ (□(∃x)□Bx ⊃ □(∃x)□Ox)                                  theorem                         
18. □(∃x)□Ox                                                                        16,17,MP(twice)
19. (∃x)□Ox                                                                              18,NE

No matter where you put the premises.

Quote from: Nepolitan
... Another problem with the argument is that its structure can be used, with only relatively minor changes to prove the non-existence of a maximally great being:

P1. It is possible that a maximally great being does not exist.
P2. If it is possible that a maximally great being does not exist, then there exists a possible world in which a maximally great being does not exist.
P3. If there is a possible world in which a maximally great being does not exist, then it does not exist in every possible world.
P4. If a maximally great being does not exist in every possible world, then it is not a maximally great being.
Therefore, there are no maximally great beings.

This is not a problem it s part of logical formulatinos that certain structures can be reused (i.e modus ponens, modus tollens, etc...)
The question is what reasons do we have to hold Premise one? Notice that since a MGB if existing is necessarily existing then if it is not possible it is impossible and then we need to ask what reasons we have to hold that a MGB is impossible?

On a more  technical comment, I think this argument has a referential problem, that the positive version does not , if right the argument does not work, but this is a technicality( I could be wrong ).

Possibly to avoid this issue something like the following should be used instead:


P1. It is possible that  maximal greatness is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated).
P2. If it is possible that maximal greatness is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated), then there exists a possible world in which maximal greatness is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated)..
P3. If there is a possible world in which maximal greatness is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated), then it is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated) in every possible world.
P4. If maximal greatness is not (co)exemplified (or instantiated) in every possible world, then ...

And so on

Quote from: Nepolitan
...Therefore, a sub-maximally great being doesn’t have to exist.
Since a sub-maximally great being doesn´t have to exist, who cares? (I don´t).

Quote from: Nepolitan
It is possible that a maximally stupid being called William Lane Craig exists.

The challenge with this type of 1st premise is that these concepts are for the most part ad-hoc and arbitrary and in reality have no warrant or justification for their truth, which is an important key element.

Quote from: Nepolitan
The problem with Craig’s argument against parodies is that he compares things (impossible concoctions) to ideas (the apparently coherent idea of a maximally great being).  By doing so he conflates Plantinga’s ontological argument with Anselm’s. 

I haven´t seen the quote, but, as far as I understand it, this is a missunderstanding on Nepolitan´s part.

On the case of Anselm´s argument , it is part of Anselm´s argument the comparison of the the existence of (the concept) God in the understanding and outside the understanding, this is not part nor parcel in the MOA.

The MOA does require that the 1st premise be evaluated and supported, and, this is done through several tools from Modal epistemology, like , evaluating the concept of a MGB, since coherence is a indicator of (metaphysical) possibility , there are also others, like conceivability, determinate understanding and the more.

Quote from: Nepolitan
So we come to the crux of the argument.  Anselm is basically arguing that if one has extreme beliefs then they must be true.  Plantinga (as reworded) seems to be arguing that if something is possible then it must be true.  He argues this explicitly in line 2: “if it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world”.  In his actual argument, Plantinga relies on some fancy footwork while deploying Axiom S5.  This axiom states that, in modal logic, ◊p→◊□p meaning “if it is possible that p is true, then it is necessary that it is possible that p is true” (modal operators are underlined as one chunk where possible – the single, but split operator “if … then” is shown in bold).  The meaning of this axiom is: if something is possibly true, then that something is possibly true in all worlds.  Plantinga’s sleight of hand involves invoking a dual to claim that ◊□p→□p which, in strong logic terms, means “if it is possible that it is necessary that p is true, then it is necessary that p is true”.  Compare these in consecutive lines:

if it is possible that p is true, then it is necessary that it is possible that p is true (◊p→◊□p)
if it is possible that it is necessary that p is true, then it is necessary that p is true (◊□p→□p)

On a clarifying note:  it is not "Axiom S5" it is axiom 5 of system S5.

From 2. Modal Logics
(5)  ◊A→□◊A

Axiom (5) is then ◊A→□◊A

This is then equivalent to

~□◊A   → ~◊A
and this to
◊~◊A   →  □~ A

◊□~A   →  □~ A

B= ~ A

◊□B   →  □B

So, this is just an straight forward equivalence relation from Axiom (5).

Also, Axiom (5) can be derived from rather very plausible metaphyscal intuitions ( i.e. reflexive, symmetric and transitive access relations among possible worlds ).

I will try to do a continuation on that.

I hope this is of some help to give another perspective on the matter.

Apologetics and Theology / I am sorry.
« on: October 01, 2015, 08:57:39 am »

I want to say that, I am sorry.

That I would much prefer that we all would agree in much more, or at least, that we were all more friendly to one another, specially, that I could be more patient and respectful towards those that appear to me not to understand my views, and even, that I could be more epistemically humble.

Anyways. I am sorry.

That´s the most I can do, at the moment.


"The major cosmological conclusion reached by Planck is that their data agrees remarkably well with the standard, six parameter cosmological model known as ΛCDM"

An almost perfect Universe: the Planck 2013 release

The ΛCDM (Lambda-Cold Dark Matter) model is of a topologically flat universe, initiated in an inflationary Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago and dominated by dark energy (the Λ component), and secondarily by cold dark matter (CDM). Ordinary matter, of which stars, planets and human beings are composed, is the third most important component from a mass-energy standpoint. The amount of dark energy is over twice the mass-energy equivalent of all matter combined, and the dark matter is well in excess of the ordinary matter component.

Our best scientific model of the universe, the simplest best experimentally corroborated model of the universe, today.

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