Tuesday, May 21, 2019

J.P Holding, served process in third libel lawsuit

Today, James Patrick Holding was forced to answer that undesirable knock at the door, and accept my lawsuit Complaint from a federal marshal.  This is AFTER the Court reviewed the First Amended Complaint and found no reason, based on its claims, to call it "frivolous".


Now Holding has 21 days, or until June 12, to file and serve either an "answer to Complaint" or a "motion to dismiss".

Some may say I was mean to sue Holding in a way forcing him to hire a lawyer, since, because this case won't be short-circuited like the others were, he's looking at a full year's worth of attorney fees, and since this must include preparation for and attending trial, the cost is going to be nearer to $50,000 in total fees, than it will be to the $21,000 he paid to short-change the 2015 lawsuit.  But consider:

a) I believe, and demonstrated that belief with factual and legal argument, that his libels were committed in his capacity as president of Apologetics Afield, so suing his "corporation" (i.e., the thing that forces him to hire a lawyer) is legally appropriate, and

b) There is such intensely horrific hatred between us, forcing him to hire a lawyer is a rather prudent way of providing a bit more guarantee of the case proceeding in a timely expeditious manner, as opposed to us fighting each other on every trifle in creation.  If you saw the emails he and I exchanged before he lawyered up in that 2015 case, you'd understand that I'm actually doing Holding a favor by giving him less opportunity to mouth off and forcing him to reply to me through a lawyer.  His attorney, not being Holding himself, likely isn't going to contact me and say he's offering a pitifully lame settlement out of concern that I might commit suicide.  I'm betting money that the attorney he hires will not have any of the narcissistic obsessive/compulsive pathology Holding has been displaying on the internet since 1998.

Most inerrantists are blind to the obvious meaning of 2nd Timothy 3:16

Roger Pearse recently gave some insightful comments about the history of the KJV here.

His last comment made me think of my own basic rebuttal to biblical inerrancy.  He said:
This claim is not what Christians believe about the scripture.  It is merely a strawman, designed to require something that does not exist and never did exist.  Jesus himself talked about the rolls of the law as inspired; but these were written by men.  However divine inspiration works, it can certainly cope with spelling mistakes, human error, and all the business of living in an imperfect world.
This reminded me of my infallible argument refuting the "inerrant only in the originals" belief of modern-day inerrantists, and I posted the following in reply to Pearse.  The comments did not show up after I clicked "reply" to we'll have to wait and see whether this was because he already blocked me, or if he elects to approve of comments before allowing them to post.  Here's what I wrote:
Your last comment implicates a powerful rebuttal to the modern inerrantist movement represented in Geisler/Archer and the Chicago Statement on Bible Inerrancy. 

Most modern inerrantists sidestep the obvious errors in the bible by imposing a standard that is not reasonably checkable:  the bible is inerrant "only in the originals".  This amounts to little more than mooting the significance of the obvious copyist errors by fiat.

But in the bible, whenever the authors speak about the divine inspiration of some writing, they never express or imply that they mean "only in the originals".

Therefore, their unqualified statements about scriptural inspiration are most likely talking about the nature of the thing that their contemporaries can actually read and touch...the copies...even if they are also talking about the "originals".  That is, the most natural reading of passages like 2nd Timothy 3:16 is that the copies are inspired too.  In context Paul is talking about the scriptures Timothy knew in childhood or in the 1st century (v. 15).  Obviously, Timothy did not know "the originals".  No scholar thinks the pieces of parchment and papyrus that Moses and Isaiah actually set their pens to, survived into the 1st century.  The only "scripture" he knew were the copies.  Those copies are what Paul is according "inspiration" to, even if he "also" means the originals. 

The point is that the sense of copy-inspiration (i.e., the sense that would put the final nail in the coffin of modern-day inerrancy theory found in the CSBI statement) cannot be reasonably excluded from Paul's wording.

If then inerrantists continue standing by their other premise that "inspiration = inerrancy", then because the biblical authors taught that the copies were "inspired", the biblical authors thus also necessarily taught that the copies were "inerrant".  The very fact that the inerrantists themselves clearly deny inerrancy to the copies ensures that whatever change they make to avoid the implications of this argument, that change will imply that they have been missing the forest for the trees for decades. 

Since they cannot deny the reasonableness of the interpretation, what are they going to do?

Say Paul got it wrong?
Admit the CSBI was framed more out of a desire to avoid the obvious than by concern to be "biblical"?
Admit that the biblical "truth" they've been dogmatic about for decades, was the "wrong interpretation"?

The issue is not whether modern inerrantists can be reasonable to believe they way they do.  Maybe they can.  The issue is rather whether the bible skeptic's above-cited argument against biblical inerrancy is "reasonable".  If not, why not?  How does the "the-first-century-copies-were-inspired-too" interpretation violate anything in the grammar or context of 2nd Timothy 3:16?

But if the skeptical interpretation of Paul here is reasonable, it would appear today's inerrantists are (in light of their own commitment to "truth") under a moral compulsion to stop characterizing the skeptical affirmation of error in the bible as "absurd" or "false", to stop pretending biblical inerrancy is "obviously true" or stop being so obsessed about defending it...and to allow that the skeptical view, supra, is at least no less reasonable than their own position on the subject.
If skeptics can be reasonable to argue Paul did not mean "only in the originals", then they are reasonable to say he accorded inspiration to the copies too, in this case 1st century copies. And since no scholar thinks the 1st century copies of the scriptures were inerrant, we are reasonable to turn away from modern-day inerrantists until they interpret Paul correctly.

One homosexual inerrantist once trifled that the "only in the originals" caveat need not be "biblical", but he is obviously stupid:  the Christian's view of inerrancy needs to at least correctly reflect what Paul meant in 2nd Timothy 3:16, and they aren't doing this when they exclude copy-inspiration from Paul's comments.

Therefore, the modern-day inerrantist's "only in the originals" caveat is not merely some viewpoint of possibly arguable merit that falls within acceptable hermeneutical practice.  The "only in the originals" caveat is positively contrary to Paul's beliefs because it is neither expressed nor implied in his wording, therefore, to insert the caveat into his wording anyway is nothing less than changing what he really meant to avoid falling into the same pit that Paul himself dug.  Good luck giving an interpretation of 2nd Timothy 3:16 that seriously insists the specific "only in the originals" nuance is what Paul meant.

Some trifling inerrantist will insist that this present rebuttal doesn't hurt them because they don't adopt the version of inerrancy espoused by Geisler/Archer and CSBI they adopt a more modern form that avoids the pitfalls of the traditionalist notion.

But whether we skeptics are reasonable to view as false the "new inerrancy" , is another subject appropriate to a future blog post.  There certainly are a lot of stupid inerrantists out there who adopt the traditional CSBI form of inerrancy, so the atheist goal of "refuting the Christian view" has obviously been achieved in large part by refuting what millions of Christains and their capable scholars have believed for centuries.

I've made obviously significant headway by bulldozing a major Christian position to the side of the road.  You're next.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Reply to Jonathan Morrow's defense of Matthew's authorship

This is my reply to an article by Jonathan Morrow entitled

We live in a culture that has questions about the Bible. And that’s OK–because questions, if the goal is truth, will lead to a stronger faith.
But it could also be 'bad', as questions, where the goal is truth, can also lead to apostasy, such as becoming an atheist...or at least giving up on bible inerrancy and adopting a less extreme form of biblical inspiration.  And since questions logically impede one's decision for Christ, the failure to repent immediately upon hearing the gospel, was believed by the gospel authors to automatically signal the hearer's assured condemnation: 
 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (Jn. 3:18 NAU)
 Apparently then, those who hold off accepting Jesus, because they have "questions" are defined in the bible as being under the present condemnation of God, thus implying their basis for questioning arises from their rebellious spirit and not an honest desire for knowledge.  As a fundamentealist yourself, you need to rework the part of your article that renders questions "ok" or "permissible".  Or become a liberal and deny the fantatical position espoused in John 3, supra.
I have seen this time and again. (But how we question the Bible is critically important)

But as Christians we also are called to respond to challenges which threaten to undercut our faith (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15).
 Those bible passages legitimately raise the objection as to why we should assume there is any Holy Spirit conviction going on when a Christian makes argument to defend the faith.  Crediting the convicting to the Holy Spirit here is about as gratuitous as the attorney who tells the jury "There's lots of evidence in favor of my client's innocence, but the only way you can appreciate its force is if the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to it."

And in case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is a BIG target so there are lots of challenges!
    Our goal is to say (and defend) what the Bible says—no more and no less.
Then this article is going beyond your stated goal, as you admit that the proposition that Matthew authored the gospel now bearing his name, is not technically made IN the bible.  So perhaps you could have spent God's precious time more efficiently by scrapping the defense of something that isn't even "biblical" and defending something that is biblical, but which skeptics viciously attack, such as Paul's credibility.
The Skeptical Challenge of the Authorship of the Gospels
Skeptics like to raise doubts and new “hidden” or “lost” information about the Gospels. Why? Because that is where all the information about Jesus is. And if you can undermine confidence in biblical authority there, then that weakens the overall authority of Christianity. Why? Because Christianity rises or falls with Jesus.
 On the contrary, like Mormonism and other obviously false cults, Christianity rises or falls based on how successfully the local upstarts can convince the laity that their claims about ancient historical events are true.  Given that most people's eyes turn into question marks when asked to spell "historiography", I'm not surprised that false claims about what happened in history are still capable of deceiving masses of people.  I suppose that if everybody had the level of knowledge about historical methodology as professional historians possess, the number of people who go around pushing the resurrection of Jesus as a true historical event would be similar to the number of professional historians who go around pushing the resurrection of Jesus as a true historical event.
Here’s the basic argument of the Bible skeptic meant to raise doubt:
“Did you know that we don’t know who wrote the Gospel of Matthew? In fact, this Gospel is anonymous–(i.e., there is no formal claim to authorship within the document itself). The early church for political reasons wanted to exclude certain writings it didn’t like and so used an Apostle’s name (i.e., Matthew) to generate authority so this version of Christianity could win.”
 Then you are very close to misleading your readers, as you are merely refuting a very superficial type of gospel authorship skepticism.  It would be akin to me "refuting Christianity" by showing how stupid it is to allow people to play with live rattlesnakes in church.  That might refute those particular Christians, but would hardly operate to successfully broad-brush Christianity proper as false.  So when you refute the retarded skeptic whom you are quoting, you aren't refuting the serious scholarly skeptics, whose arguments you don't even get near touching in this article.
One of the new challenges in this generation is that arguments like this used to stay locked up in stuffy ivory towers. The effect was that everyday Christians never encountered them. Enter social media and youtube. Now these “sophisticated” arguments are available for the masses. And in our culture with a general distrust of authorities, conspiracy theories are then off and running.

How do we respond?
3 Reasons Why the Apostle Matthew Wrote the Gospel of Mathew

New Testament Scholars like Darrell Bock, D.A. Carson, and Michael Wilkins (among plenty of others) have done a lot of excellent work.
 So have other conservatives like Craig Blomberg, who specifies he is setting forth his case for Matthew's authorship "tentatively":

When all the evidence is amassed, there appears no conclusive proof for the apostle Matthew as author but no particularly cogent reason to deny this uniform early church tradition…Without any ancient traditions to the contrary, Matthew remains the most plausible choice for author…But again we present these conclusions tentatively. Little depends on them.
New American Commentary
Blomberg, C. (2001, c1992). Vol. 22: Matthew, p. 43

 Given Blomberg's status as a world-authority on the gospels, and his status as a fundamentalist or conservative who accepts biblical inerrancy, and his prior books about the historical reliability of the gospels, his admitting to presenting his case for Matthean authorship "tentatively" would be alone sufficient to reasonably justify the skeptic to strike this gospel from the list of alleged resurrection "eyewitnesses".  If you were on trial for murder and the prosecutor's only evidence against you was an affidavit whose authorship had generated just as much scholarly disagreement as exists in the case of Matthew (i.e., there's no reliable way to tell which parts are from the eyewitness and which parts were added or changed around by later and anonymous redactors), and if the prosecutor admitted to the jury he was only "tentatively" arguing that the alleged eyewitness was the real author of the affidavit, wouldn't you ask the court to drop charges on the grounds that there is simply no way a reasonable jury could find an affidavit of such questionable "authorship" sufficient to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

Yeah, you would.
Here is just a short summary of the evidence for why we can be confident that Matthew, wrote the Gospel of Matthew, even though this Gospel is technically anonymous.

(1) First, regarding Matthew, “there is no patristic evidence that anyone else was ever proposed as the author.”
That's called the argument from the uniformity of tradition.  But many scholars insist that the only reason the tradition is uniform is because the later fathers were doing little more than repeating what 2nd century Papias said, which, if true, robs your argument of force, since in that case its not 10 ancient guys testifying to the same thing independently, it's one guy's opinion being cut and pasted by 9 other guys.  Guthrie:
 This evidence points to an unbroken tradition that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew, and advocates of any hypothesis which disagrees with this must suggest an adequate explanation of so consistent a tradition. The usual explanation is that later Church Fathers were merely reiterating Papias’ original mistake, or at least confusion, over what Matthew originally wrote in Aramaic.
Guthrie, D. (1996, c1990). New Testament introduction.
Series taken from jacket. (4th rev. ed.). [The master reference collection].
Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press.
And indeed, if Papias is everything you think he is, you will never disconnect his influence from the later fathers who mention Matthew's authorship.  Would we not expect the later fathers to gain much of their knowledge about such issues from the fathers who preceded them?  

 Morrow continues:
 (2) Second, Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Origen all affirm Matthean authorship.
But the fathers who mention the language Matthew wrote in, never say it was Greek, they always say it was Hebrew.  If it is historically true that Matthew authored a second original in Greek before he died, you would expect the later church fathers, who desire to tell the reader the language Matthew wrote in, would have no less desire to mention the Greek than the Hebrew, especially in their own day when the Hebrew was archaic and the Greek version of the gospel was mandatory for preaching.
(3) Third, the literary evidence reveals that Matthew was the most popular Gospel in the earliest period of the church and it was circulated widely.
 Lots of early Christian works enjoyed popularity despite authorship you'd say was non-apostolic authorship.  Shepherd of Hermas, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel to the Hebrews, etc.  
2 Objections to Matthew as Author
There are two common objections to his authorship.
Then you need to up your game.  I have more than 300 separate objections to Matthew's authorship.  I'm surprised that you completely avoid dealing with the obvious objection:  Papias' unreliability and the fact that his famous statement can just as easily be translated and understood in a way that significantly distances Matthew from the Greek gospel now bearing his name.
First, it is argued that Matthew, an apostle himself, would not have relied so heavily upon Mark, who was not an apostle, when composing his Gospel.
 And since you cannot find any 1st century examples of a true eyewitness author depending as heavily upon hearsay accounts as Matthew depended on Mark, this skeptical objection's force is not abated by anything you argue below.  Unless you can defeat Markan Priority and the Two-Source Hypothesis, your apostle's extensive quoting hearsay accounts to tell the world what he himself experienced, remains authentically unexpected.  If you saw a car accident along with your grandma, what would you tell the police when they asked you to make a staement?  Would you refer them to somebody else's edited version of your grandma's version?  Obviously not.  The fact that you saw it yourself means you either give your own version, or the cops become reasonable to be suspicious of your claim to be an eyewitness.  It really is that simple.
But since we have very good evidence that Peter stands behind Mark’s Gospel, Matthew would have had no issue utilizing the recorded testimony of Peter.
You are assuming Peter is "the" source behind Mark's gospel, when in fact even conservative Christian scholars think Mark's sources included far more than just the notes he allegedly took during Peter's sermons:
 Furthermore, the traditional units betray little evidence of being simply mental or written notes based on Peter’s preaching from his first–hand witness, a conclusion that impugns part of Papias’s testimony but does not necessarily disparage the veracity or the value of the traditional units.... Consequently, for the most part, one can only speak generally and tentatively when seeking to delineate between tradition and redaction. This conclusion does not dispute Mark’s use of traditional materials or the availability of multiple sources, but it does mean that one cannot precisely reconstruct or always identify the exact content of his source or sources.
Guelich, R. A. (2002). Vol. 34A: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 1-8:26.
Word Biblical Commentary (Page xxxiv-xxxv). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Furthermore, you haven't solved the problem:  there's not much difference between the problem of an alleged eyewitness author extensively using hearsay, and an alleged eyewitness author making extensive use of the hearsay version (Mark) of another's (Peter's) alleged eyewitness account.  Once again, if the author of Matthew was an eyewitness apostle, we would no more expect him to hide behind the hearsay version of another eyewitness's version, than we'd expect him to hide behind a purely hearsay version.  Matthew's extreme reliance on Mark remains inconsistent with what we'd reasonably expect of a real "eyewitness", especially if his memory recall was magically put into turbo-mode by "divine inspiration", another assumption about Matthean authorship that fundies insist on, and which they likewise cannot reasonably demonstrate.
The other common objection is that the Greek is too good to have been written by Matthew. However, Matthew was likely trilingual (Aramaic, Greek, and Latin) by growing up as a Jew in the region of Galilee, and as a tax collector he would have been required to know Greek well.
 None of my objections to Matthean authorship argue from the goodness of the Greek.  Dismissed.
Does it Matter if Matthew is the Author?
Yes.  The only resurrection testimonies that come down to us today from the NT in first-hand form would be (generously assuming traditional authorship) Matthew, John and Paul.  So the more reasonable skepticism of Matthew's apostolic authorship is, the more reasonable skeptics are to strike Matthew from this list of witnesses.  Reducing thecase for Jesus' resurrection from 3 witnesses to 2 witnesses is profoundly injurious, given that you need every last bit of evidence you can possibly get your hands on anyway.

I'm gonna change my life and start focusing on invisible issues of sophistry and theology, leading me into possibly psychologically harmful relations with "fundies", because the case for that religion draws from TWO "eyewitnesses" supplemented by a smattering of equally problematic hearsay? 

I don't think so.
Let me make one last point: Our goal is to say (and defend) what the Bible says—no more and no less. In the case of Paul writing a letter that bears his name, we are compelled to defend his authorship as a matter of biblical integrity. However, when it comes to the four Gospels, there is no one specifically to defend (i.e., because it is technically anonymous).
 Which is another argument against apostolic authorship of Matthew.  The example from Paul and most other NT authors is that the author is willing to say IN the document what his name is.  So the Matthew author's unwillingness to do so is not subject to only one reasonable interpretation (i.e., maybe his audience already knew who he was, he didn't need to repeat the obvious.  Well gee, Paul's churches knew who he was, but by divine inspiration still felt compelled to "state the obvious" anyway).  It is just as reasonable to conjecture that the apostolic signature doesn't appear in Matthew because the author wasn't an apostle.  Or Matthew wrote it, but like lukewarm Christians today, might have wished to help the church in some way, but was reticent to just dive headfirst into the role...reasonably suggesting he was something less than "amazingly transformed", thus impeaching to some degree his statements about Jesus rising from the dead.

You also fail to mention that among the late and contradictory accounts of Matthew's death, several give no hint that it was anything more than an uneventful natural death, no implication he was "martyred"...also suggesting he became disenchanted with the whole business, and, while remaining a part of the movement, stopped being the Jesus-freak he once was, also hurting the credibility of his resurrection testimony.

Finally, the Matthew-author quotes no more speech from the risen Jesus than what would take about 20 seconds to recite orally.  If Acts 1:3 is true and this risen Jesus taught Matthew and the other 10 disciples things concerning the kingdom of God over a period of 40 days, that sounds like the risen Christ had far more to say than 20 seconds worth of speech...even if the actual speeches happened less often than 8 hours per day for each of the 40 days.  So the shockingly short quote of the risen Jesus in Matthew either suggests the author's knowledge of the risen Christ's sayings was far less than what we'd expect for "Matthew", or, the risen Christ didn't say much more than what Matthew records, and Acts 1:3 is exaggerating historical reality.

I say that the Matthew-author's obviously intense desire to quote the pre-crucifixion Jesus' sayings at length is reasonably expected to manifest itself also in the case of the post-crucifixion Jesus' sayings.  The author's belabored obsession with the pre-crucifixion Christ contrasts sharply with "his" far shorter account of the post-crucifixion Jesus, reasonably justifying skepticism, either in that the resurrection narrative wasn't authored by the same obsessed person who wrote the bulk of the gospel, or it was the same apostolic author, but he lost much of the zeal for his faith before authoring the resurrection chapter, and that's why he appears to care far more to document the pre-crucifixion than the post-crucifixion Jesus.

The reasonableness of those skeptical theories cannot be overthrown merely because you can always dream up some sort of logically possible theory that favors bible inerrancy or tradition.  You either show your theory to be more reasonable than mine, or you lose in your attempt to "defeat" the skeptical view.  

If you think my skeptical views can be reasonable, I wouldn't really hit you this hard.  But since you appear to be a fundamentalist, which thus implies you think any and all skeptical theories of gospel authorship are devilish attacks upon the wordagawd, you cannot afford to allow for theories opposite to yours to be the least bit reasonable...all that would do is involve you in helping the devil mock the Christian faith!.  

So you either demonstrate my theories to be unreasonable, or you fail to demonstrate that my theories are unreasonable.  You don't demonstrate a skeptical theory to be unreasonable by merely pointing out that your own opposite theory is reasonable.  Reasonableness can often be equally present in two conflicting theories, such as when reasonable educated mature respectable members of the jury hear the exact same evidence and are unable to agree on the verdict.  Only a fool would pretend that this is always because there is some mentally defective or dishonest person in the jury that is being unreasonable.  Evidence is not usually so perfect in quality and quantity as that.

If I cannot demonstrate your theory to be unreasonable merely because my own contrary theory is reasonable, then fairness dictates that YOU aren't showing my theory to be unreasonable merely because your own contrary theory is reasonable.  I'm keenly aware of the epistemological "shortcuts" fundies typically employ in their clever efforts to make it seem the only reasonable theory is the theory favoring biblical inerrancy/reliability. 
As a thought experiment, let’s say it was somehow discovered that Andrew wrote what we now know as the Gospel of Matthew in the 1st century? Would that mean that there is an error in the Bible? Actually, no, because no claim of authorship was technically made in this document (the same logic would hold for the book of Hebrews)
 Then you are admitting there are more important issues that you could have devoted God's precious time to defending, than who authored the gospel now bearing Matthew's name.
So the bottom line? We have good reason to believe that Matthew is the author of this Gospel.
And you've now been given several justifications for saying skepticism of Matthew's authorship is reasonable.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Cerebral Faith fails to properly defend the moral argument for god's existence

 This is my reply to an article by Cerebral Faith entitled

After writing my blog post titled "The Kalam Cosmological Argument NOT Debunked - A Response to YouTuber Rationality Rules", one of my Facebook friends commented in one of the various places I had posted that blog post on Facebook and in the comment, he asked if I would respond to his video dealing with The Moral Argument. I agreed to it because (1) he asked me to, and (2) Rationality Rules (RR) is a very popular atheist YouTuber whose videos get thousands of views and who makes thousands of dollars per creation on Patreon. Lots of people are being exposed to his bad arguments against Christian theism, and therefore, we Christian Apologists who create online content need to interact with his work. If you'd like to watch the video for yourself before reading the article, click "The Argument From Morality - Debunked (William Lane Craig's Moral Argument Refuted)"

For the uninitiated, The Moral Argument for God's Existence is as follows

1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3: Therefore, God exists.

I have defended this argument in several blog posts on this site as well as in my recent book The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity.

Let me defend this claim.

*Defense Of Premise 1

Moral Values
First off, if theism is not true, then what reason remains for thinking that human beings are intrinsically valuable?
 I'm not seeing how the question is relevant, it is assuming humans are indeed instrinsically valuable, but they are not, as the notion of "intrinsic" worth is false.  "Worth" always refers to a person making a value judgment about another person or object, there is no such thing as something having "worth" apart from another person making such judgment call.  Minton will say God values us, but since the moral argument he's trying to defend is seeking to prove god exists, he can hardly insist that god's valuation of us supports this first premise, otherwise, he's just begging the question of god's existence.  What you are "worth" must be answered with reference to an outside person or agency, not yourself alone.  So "intrinsic worth" is a nonsense concept.  Minton can trifle that a person can place a value on her own self, but that wouldn't establish actual worth, anymore than the homeless alcoholic who thinks he is "worth" $6 trillion has therefore proven he's really worth that much.
On atheism, man is just a biological organism. There are other biological organisms on the planet. What makes humans more valuable than the life of say, a cockroach, or a tree?
 The opinion of other human mammals, who do like most mammals, and naturally find the members of our own species more worthy of our time and resources, than other species.
Most people don’t believe you’re committing murder when you stomp on a cockroach or cut down a tree, but they do think you’re committing murder if you end the life of another human being.
 Because "murder" is the "unlawful" type of killing.  There's no law against stepping on bugs.
Why is it that the life of a man is of more value than that of a roach or a tree?
 You haven't established that yet.  But generally, as I said, we are mammals, and being intelligent, we naturally find preserving of our own kind of greater importance than preservation of other species.
Why is it murder to cut down a man, but not murder to cut down a tree?
 It is not "murder" to cut down a man...you have to show that the way he was cut down or killed was by unlawful means.  Human beings have set up laws that say killing another human, absent exceptional circumstances, is a crime, and we call that crime "murder".  Cutting down a tree thus wouldn't be "murder" unless somebody enacted a law saying cutting down a tree is a crime and we then started referring to tree-cutting as "murder".  Yeah right.
Both are living organisms. They’re both considered life.
 But the mammals who are more intelligent than trees have decided for themselves that certain acts of killing another human being are criminal.
Maybe humans are more valuable than these things because they’re more advanced.
 Why a trait should make something more "valuable" depends on the person who is evaluating the trait.  Many women have called their boyfriends "good-for-nothing".
A man, unlike a roach or a tree, can walk, talk, and do complex mathematical equations.
 And most people react to the wanton death of the higher mammals with emotion slightly less intense than they do in reaction to the murder of a man.  All of us feel sorry for the fawn or gazelle who gets caught and ripped apart by the lion.  Some of us have no care at all about death of such animals. People value things differently.
A person can build a rocket and fly it to the moon, build houses, and can do many things lower animals cannot do, and this is certainly something trees cannot do.
 Once again, the "worth" of a person is not determined by himself, but by others at least in the way that society functions as a whole.
But if you were to say that this is what makes a man intrinsically valuable, another question immediately arises; why is complexity a criterion for objective worth?
 You are assuming the existence of objective worth.  I deny that based on the above.  There is no such thing as objective worth.  What something costs is the price set by the actual or legal owner.
Why is a human more valuable than any other organism just because he’s higher up on the evolutionary tree?
 That's loaded question, I don't think humans have greater value merely because they are higher up on the evolutionary tree.  I decide the worth of a human being on a case-by-case basis.  I've decided to conform to society's rules and criminal codes, so when I think somebody worthy of death, I don't murder them.
Why isn’t it the case that simpler organisms have the most worth like an amoeba?
Probably beacuse as intelligent mammals we find very little use for the simpler life forms.  Then again, the simpler organisms are valued highly by the bio-tech industry, and every doctor knows that killing off all the bad simpler organisms, might be sufficient to send them on unemployment benefits.  Because the lower-life forms eat the lesser life forms, life for us would become unbearable if the simpler forms simply all died off.  We'd have ceaseless indigestion, and birds would become bold as they attack us in hunger.  So in a way the simpler organisms are very valuable to human life, but not in the direct way most people think about.
Why is the advanced-ness of man a criterion for his objective worth?
There is no such thing as objective worth.  What something is "worth" arises from another person's personal opinion, which is subject to change.
It doesn’t seem that there is any intrinsic worth of human life on the atheistic worldview.
Correct.  On atheism, what something is "worth" is completely subjective.
On atheism, man is just a bag of chemicals on bones who, because of the electrochemical processes in his brain, neurons firing, and molecules going about in motion, goes about his day thinking that his life is valuable.
Exactly.  Except that because the delusion is shared by so many, life for us is much more rewarding and satisfying if we simply live and let live, as opposed to trying to convince everybody else that we are nothing but moist robots on a damp dustball lost in space.
This, despite the fact that he was thrust into existence from a blind process which did not have him in mind, despite the fact that he’s a tiny speck on a somewhat less tiny speck of dust called Planet Earth in a massive universe that cares not whether he lives or dies.
 Exactly.  Through millions of years of evolution, it is second nature to be altruistic toward others of our same species.
On atheism, there is nothing but matter, energy, space and time. Why is one bag of chemicals on bones so sacred, but other bags of chemicals on bones not so much?
Because the other bags (the simpler life forms?) do not serve us as directly as other human beings do.
It is true though, that humans can have subjective value. After all, many people have other people who care about them. A man loves his wife, his kids, and his parents. Given that many people have other people who care about them, it may be said that they really do have value after all. But this isn’t objective value, it’s subjective. What that means is that your worth is dependent on how many people love you. This type of value that a detractor of my argument may refer to seems akin to sentimental value. A man may cherish a toy because it reminds him of the happy times he had back in his childhood. There may be thousands of toys exactly like it, but this one is special to him because it is this one that he grew up with. Replacing it is out of the question. However, the toy doesn’t have objective value (that is to say, the value in and of itself). Its value is wholly dependent upon the man cherishing it. Human beings, on atheism, seem to have that kind of value. We have sentimental value to those around us, but there doesn’t seem to be any value to the man in and of himself.
I can’t see how human life can have any objective worth on the atheistic view.
You are already a Christian.  You already view any system showing less than Christian worth of human beings, as offering you far less.  Most humans don't like the option that provides less.  SInce Christianity offers "more" as in "more love", people naturally flock to it and similar religions.
It seems that the first premise of the Moral Argument is correct. If God does not exist, there are no objective moral values.
Man is just a bag of chemicals on bones. He is nothing but a speck of dust in a hostile and mindless universe and is doomed to perish in a relatively short time.  Without God, wherein lies the objective worth of a man’s life?
Nowhere.  But a lot of people, lacking in critical thinking skills, have been so accustomed to drawing worth for their lives from religion, than they just cannot imagine how relative or subjective worth can be equally as intensive and satisfying.
What makes human life sacred?
The other person who is evaluating whether you deserve to live, that's what.
I don’t see any reason to think that there is objective worth on the atheistic worldview.
Moral Duties
If atheism is true, it would seem that moral values go out the window.
 No, only objective moral values go out the window.  You are doing what Turek does, and falsely assuming that if a moral is not "objective", then it is worthless. Not so.  Your moral opinion about how to raise kids is not objective, but it likely contributes to the good of your child anyway.
The life of human beings is no more worth protecting than the life of insects.
 No, other human beings are profoundly useful to other human beings, far more than insects, which is precisely why we sense a greater loss at the death of a human being than we do at the death of a bug.  You may retort that you also feel bad hearing about the murder of strangers on the national news, but I reply that your grief over the death of people you never met will not be quite as emotionally intense as your grief over the death of a human being who had repeatedly satisfied your sense of worth for most of your life (family, friends, etc).  Don't forget, families can come to hate each other and honestly not care whether one member ends up dead in a ditch.  Values change.
If moral values go out the window, then moral duties go with it.
 True, but only for objective morals and duties, not subjective morals and duties.
Why? Because if man has the same value as a flea,
Most people think a man is worth more than a flea, and that subjective opinion is enough to justify laws protecting his life, and it is natural and normal for adults to obey the same laws they observed as a child.
then you have as much of an obligation towards your fellow man as you do a flea. Since atheism robs human life of objective, intrinsic worth, why is it morally wrong to murder someone on that worldview?
 Whether it is morally wrong is something various people would answer differently.  Most would say murder is morally wrong, but their reasoning is usually superficial and stops at the point of "the law" and "how could you be so callous!?" But if a person causes sufficient unnecesary harm or trouble to others, you'll find lots of people thinking it morally good that he wind up dead in mysterious circumstances that are never solved.  Like the convicted pedophile who comes to live in your neighborhood.  If he's found dead in a ditch tomorrow with a bullet in his head, you probably won't be crying about it as loudly as you would if the same happened to the local business owner who has been donating to charity for years.
Why is it wrong to mistreat a person on atheism?
 Because other people think its wrong.  And there are times when they don't think it is wrong (fights in locker rooms, ceaseless bullying, etc), and in those cases, all you can do is side with those whom you agree with, whether the victim or the bully.
If humans have no moral value, then it seems that we have no moral duties towards one another either.
 That's true, but only for objective moral value and duties.  Once you admit the obvious reality and significance of subjective moral values and duties, your problems disappear.
To reject moral values is to reject moral duties. The denial of the former entails a denial of the latter. If human life is worthless
No, under atheism life's worth is decided by people of differeing opinion on how much your life is worth, including whether it has any worth at all.
, it seems like it wouldn’t be much of a crime to end it.
"Crime" is an "unlawful" act, an act that transgresses what our lawmakers have prohibited or criminalized.  Once again, you have insufficient reasons for trivializing the concept of subjective morals and pretending that nothing means anything without objectivity.  I can dictate the price of my used dvd player for the garage sale I plan next month, and that price is completely subjective.  Only a fool would say that price is completely useless to me or my goals merely beacuse it isn't "objective".
Why is it an atrocity to kill six million Jews but not an atrocity to exterminate an entire hill of ants?
 Because as mammals we naturally sympathize with other human beings.  But if you wish to be objective in your analysis, the fact is that lots of people don't really give a shit about the holocaust one way or the other.  Not everybody is a bleeding heart Christian who forgets Deuteronomy 32:39.
What reason is there to think that there is a real moral difference between these two situations?
There is no objective moral difference.  But there is a subjective moral difference.  Subjectivity is not a defect, it counts as part of the way normal human beings go about making value-judgements.  Just because subjectivity isn't quite as "iron-clad" as objectivity, doesn't mean subjectivity is utterly pointless.  Subjective value judgments are perfectly natural to mammals.  They don't always agree in the lower-animal world, and nothing is different in the human world.
Not only do we not have any moral obligations on the naturalistic worldview but it seems like there are no moral prohibitions either.
Once again, that is true, but only in the case of objective moral values.  If you are arguing that if there be no objective moral values, then murdering a human being cannot be reasonably or coherently argued to be far more detrimental to the democratic society we wish to live in, you are mistaken.
If human life has no objective value, then discarding it isn’t a moral abomination.
Plenty of people, including Christians, do not think all discarding of humnan life is a moral abomination.  That's because you have subjective reasons for thinking it better to kill than keep alive.  That's why you constantly try to "defend" your bible-god's requireing the Israelites to slaughter pagan children. Whether slaughtering children is a moral abomination depends on whether God commanded you to do it...right?  Or are you going to say it would be a moral abomination even if god required it?  The last I checked, you are a classical theist just like Turek...whatever God commands is holy, just and good....right? 
How ghastly it is to say such a thing, but, this is the logical implication of the atheistic worldview!
No, it's the implication when we deny objective morals.  It's not the implication as long as we follow subjective morals.
In his talk “Arguments For God’s Existence” at the Truth For A New Generation conference in Spartanburg South Carolina in 2012, J.P Moreland gives another way to think about this. Dr. Moreland explained that we can tell what is right and wrong because there’s a prescription of how something ought to behave.
 If God is so against abortion, why do Christians disagree on whether the woman has a moral right to abort a pregnancy caused by rape?  Is one of the Christian groups in this dispute just not praying hard enough, or living in sin, so that they cannot discern the position God takes in that debate?
Dr. Moreland asked the audience at Truth For A New Generation how we can tell the difference between a good carburetor and a bad carburetor? We can tell the difference because there is a way a carburetor ought to function.
As assigned by the person installing it.  If the person installing it intended it to cause the engine to backfire, than how the carburetor "ought" to be installed is completely subjective.
It ought to make the car run.
 Not if you had other plans, such as making the car run rough just to laugh at the next person who drives it.
If it doesn’t, Moreland says, we conclude that it’s defective.
 But car parts have already been assigned a function by us, so that we "know" defectiveness by the failure to perform as required.  This is not analogous to human morality...Christians themselves disagree on scores of moral topics like abortion, gun rights, death penalty, taxes, including the degree to which one must put forth effort to avoid the immorality of sin.  Shall we conclude Christianity is defective because after 2,000 years of trying to give the world objective morality, its adherents are no more in agreement than they were when it started?
It doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
If you didnn't intend for the engine to backfire, then yes.
It’s not behaving the way it was designed to work. It’s not working the way that its creator intended it to work.

Now, let’s switch the analogy from carburetors to leaves from an autumn tree. These leaves fell from an autumn tree and just so happened to land on my front porch because the wind randomly blew them up there. Given that there was no design involved, there’s really no prescription of how the leaves should have landed.
 There's also no intelligent life in dead leaves that blow around in the wind, so not even subjective morals would be placed at issue.
Moreland said that he couldn’t point to one particular lead and say “You see that leaf? That’s a bad leaf! That’s a really bad leaf!” He can’t say that because there’s no purpose to the formation of the leaves on his porch. There’s no design involved.
 your logic works well enough until you remember that "god designed" the physical laws that cause leaves to fall and get moved around in the wind. If we assume ID is true, then perhaps the way the leaves get blown around could possibly be immoral.  Indeed, in Genesis God cursed the earth because of Adam, so there might be biblical precedent to say God is dismayed when he sees leaves die, fall off the tree and get blown around in the wind.  That's rather stupid, but it's still "biblical".
But with the carburetors, everyone knows there’s a way that they ought to perform,
 And it's not a "defect" if the installer intends on making the car backfire and thus configures the carburetor to do so.
and we can look at one functioning carburetor and call it “good” while looking at a non-functioning carburetor and call it “bad”.
 That's totally subjective.  Somebody might think the less efficient one is "better".  You aren't being very objective in your analysis if you simply dismiss anybody and everybody who have eccentric views about carburetors.
Now, on atheism, we are like those leaves. There’s no purpose. There’s no design. We’re just here by chance + nature. So, if atheism is true, it’s really odd to say that there’s a way we ought to behave since we were not made by anyone who intended us to behave as such.
 No, we are mammals born to other mammals that teach us what we need to do if we wish to have comfort and ease in the present world we live in.  And most of us conform thereto because we desire comfort and ease more than putting our lives and freedom at risk.
If theism is true, we’re like the carburetors. We were made on purpose and for a purpose, and when people don’t function according to that intended purpose we say that they’re “bad” people.
 The problem being that Christianity doesn't do a very good job of specifying which people are "bad" beyond those who commit actions that any self-respecting mammal would find disagreeable.  Worse, your Christianity says people are bad merely beacuse they were born in sin and are incapable of doing any "good" (Romans 3:10 ff) despite the obvious fact that most people routinely do "good".

What's worse: a completely subjective moral system?  Or a moral system that says you aren't doing good even while you are doing obvious good?
But if atheism is true, we’re kind of like the leaves on the porch. We just blew up there through blind, undirected processes. There’s really no way that we’re supposed to behave.
That's true.  There's no "really objective" way we're supposed to behave.  Once again, your falsely assume that the disappearance of objective morals constitutes the disappearance of morality altogether.  But subjective morals obviously exist, and therefore they obviously don't go out of existence if it be shown that merely "objective" morals don't exist.
So if there is an oughtness, there must be a personal being who prescribed this sense of obligation within ourselves (as Romans 2:14-15 says).
That's true, but since we were all raised by other mammals who instilled their sense of values on us, its no surprise that we generally tend to hold to the same morals our parents or caretakers did back when we were kids.  "you ought not murder other people" is only a general maxim; not everybody agrees to it, and the law cannot function properly in a democratic soceity unless it is evenly applied.  But the need to even application to achieve our democratic ends does not mean there's some transendent moral the law is based on.  The fact that murder generally hurts the pack...but not always...is precisely why we all agree murder is wrong...but some of us are willing to entertain exceptions when unlawful killing will achieve a greater moral good...which is probably why many good people are tempted to engage in vigellante justice
This is because only a personal being can give purpose to a system. Blind forces don’t care how you behave; only a person would.
No, if you have kids, you likely are aware that they needed to have morals instilled into them from outside, as even your bible says foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it far from him. 

There is no good reason to think we get our morals from anywhere other than genetic predisposition and environmental conditioning.


See my rebuttal to Frank Turek's identical reasoning here.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Libel lawsuit: court approves of my request to file ECF

James Patrick Holding assured his readers, in the comment section of a youtube video, that they could consult his channel for "updates" on my libel lawsuit against him.

For unknown reasons, those comments have disappeared. 

My blog won't disappear however, and readers can stay updated here.

Since readers might wish to talk about or dispute any specific update, I will be creating new posts for each update in the future instead of just modifying one post and making it longer and longer.

Here's where we are so far:
  • I filed the original complaint in court.  
  • I sought to have the filing fee waived, which means the court must review the Complaint for possible frivolity or other problems before waiving the filing fee.
  • The magistrate judge threatened dismissal with an Order using vague language accusing my Complaint of "loosely" alleging facts but not in any coherent complete fashion, and gave me a chance to "amend" the Complaint to cure such alleged pleading defects.
  • I filed a motion for reconsideration of that Order, but in an abundance of caution, also filed a 1st Amended Complaint just to leave the Court one less excuse to tank the case.
  • The court denied my motion for reconsideration, without going into why I was wrong to accuse the Order of being directly contrary to clear and binding precedent that requires liberality be extended toward "pro se" litigants.
  • As of today, May 10, 2019, the Court  granted my motion to proceed in forma pauperis (i.e., waiving the filing fee).
  • Granting such a motion means the Court also waived the expense of service of process, and directs the Clerk to assign a federal marshal to serve the papers on Defendant Apologetics Afield. 
  • So if you were wondering why Mr. Mouthy Narcissitic Asshole Apologist suddenly got all demure in the last month or so and stopped yapping so frequently about the lawsuit, now you know why.  It looked for a while like Holding would get his wish and the Court would, again, tank my lawsuit on unjustified grounds.
  • Now that Holding's dreams have had their brains bashed out against the rocks (Psalm 137:9), yes, we fully expect Mr. Mouth to suddenly discover that God has suddenly decided that he go back to being Mr. Mouth again.
  • Then again, I sued Holding in a way that forced him to hire a real lawyer...and since Holding earlier testified on YouTube that his prior lawyer didn't see things his way and had to tell Holding things he didn't wish to hear, there's a fair chance that if Mr. Mouth doesn't return to his insulting ways, its because his lawyer has told him what his prior lawyer told him...Shut the fuck up with all of this online pestering of Doscher, it only makes it seem Doscher's criticism of you as an incorrigable know-it-all unlikely to change his ways, is correct, and might make the jury think only a higher amount of punitive damages has any hope of setting your stupid ass straight for the first time in your life.
(you can also watch the updates for free either at PacerMonitor here, or go to the Florida Middle District "recent opinion" page here and search the case titles for "Doscher", and if they have uploaded any order in the case, you'll get a pdf of the entire order)

For obvious reasons, I won't be making available online all of the material I plan to use or argue; no attorney in the world would say "yeah, just thrust everything in your argument out on the internet to satisfy the Christians infected with the Jerry Springer demon"

The link to my original Complaint is here.

The link to my motion for reconsideration and 1st Amended Complaint is here.

A rather comprehensive list of Holding's gayness and spiritual immaturity was recorded in the extensive Complaint I filed in the 2016 lawsuit. That Complaint and more can be downloaded from here.

I was going to post a bit more commentary, but for reasons I cannot disclose, I decline.  What I've already posted should give a fair clue as to the shit-storm Holding created for himself.  See here.

Since I presume Holding's followers will likely wish to dispute specific case developments that happen to go in my favor, I'll be making separate posts for all future updates.  Then again, Holding has probably already notified his pussy-followers than his lawyer recommends they not engage with me.  Which means they are more willing to follow worldly advice from non-Christian lawyers, than they are willing to act according to the "fuck you" style of apologetics they usually employ everywhere else on the internet.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

J. Warner Wallace's fallacious method of valuing human life: quote 'da bible, bro

This is my reply to an article by J. Warner Wallace entitled
Cold Case Christianity: From Where Does Value Come? 
 Posted: 06 May 2019 01:49 AM PDT
In the midst of all my collecting, I’ve gotten to wondering about the nature of value itself. If the value of comic books work in this way, does the value of anything else also rely on these same factors?
I have long believed human beings have value.
 Whatever value they have necessarily arises from other people's judgment, and is inherently relative.
As a police officer, the protection of human life is my highest priority.
Then you chose the wrong profession.  As a Christian, evangelizing the world must always be more important than enforcing secular laws.  Read Matthew 19:29.
Police officers are often dispatched to “welfare checks.” These calls come in a variety of forms and essentially boil down to people asking the police to check on someone to make sure they are okay. For example, we might receive a call from someone who lives in another state who hasn’t heard from their grandmother in a while. In response, we will go out to the grandmother’s house to make sure they are okay or see if they need help.

What is it that makes human life so valuable? Where does our value come from? Are we like the comic books I collect? Comic books get their value from the perception people have of them. Does our value come from those around us?
yes.  you are allowed to live when you conform.  If you are convicted of certain crimes, other people will deem you of less value and worthy of the death penalty.
I hope it doesn’t. If our value comes from the way the people or culture around us view us, then we might end up like the comic books I’m looking for, worth more in one shop or place and worth less in another.
That's precisely what reality says.  Unless you've been living under a rock, not everybody assigns you the same value.
But if value does not come from those around us, where does it come from?
Your question is illegitimate, we already determined that valuation comes from outside sources.  Inherent value is a contradiction in terms.
I’ve heard some people say that they can create their own sense of meaning or value. While it sounds great from a self-esteem standpoint, I think we can all admit to times, maybe many times, when we’ve felt personal doubt about ourselves and our value.
That doesn't mean self-valuation is problematic, it just means our self-imposed value changes with time.  We might like the idea of having consistent value, but that's not reality.
Just as the comic book with the “10 cent” cover price does not decide its own current value,
But the price was put there by somebody other than the comic book itself.
we cannot determine our own.
It is perfectly rational for a human being to dictate their own value, and uphold this even if it contradicts what other people or nations think.  Value is no objective or absolute.
There appears to be nothing in our opinion of ourselves that definitively sets our “price tag” or determines how we should be valued by others.
Value doesn't stop existing merely because it isn't definitive.  Otherwise, you'd have to say a certain brand of dvd player had no value just because two different people were selling them at different prices at two different garage sales.  Relativity obviously exists, it doesn't go away just because it refuses to coddle your childish need to prove everything in an absolute way.
God, as He is described by the Bible, has the ability to ground our value in his unchanging, holy nature.
 Then read Deuteronomy 28:15-63 and see just how easily the creator who alleges places great value on you, can turn around and start treating you worse than Hitler, even "delighting" to watch you suffer things like rape and parental cannibalism (v. 63).
Theism offers an opportunity to ground human value objectively.
 No, you worth changes with god's mood.  See above.  Obey and live.  Disobey and get ready to be raped and suffer extreme hunger and delusion.
God’s assignment of value transcends our personal opinions, temporary feelings or responses from friends and family.
 Since you clearly don't give two shits about addressing the best arguments atheists have against you, all you are doing is preaching the choir, and I choose to avoid wasting my time "refuting" your sermons.  They were never intended to attack serious skepticism, as is true for the entirety of your "crime scene" apologetics marketing gimmicks.

My challenge to Evan Minton Cerebral Faith on the big bang

Evan Minton is doing pretty much what Frank Turek is doing, and is pushing the big bang as if it is the only "valid" theory of origins and that it obviously implies a spaceless timeless immaterial personal god.  See here.

I posted the following rebuttal to him:
Three objections:

First, how can you acknowledge that running the tape backwards gets us to a point of "infinite density", when in fact elsewhere you cite the "infinite" nature of something as a reason to reject it?  If reeling the tape backwards potentially shows us a point of actually infinite density, well, you insist that an actual infinite cannot exist because we cannot traverse it.  Since the density of an infinitely dense point could never be traversed, your own logic would require that you deny the possibility of a point of infinite density as strongly as you deny the possibility that the universe is an actual infinite.

(this is to say nothing of the fact that you believe your god is a case of real existing actual infinity that we cannot traverse...so apparently, by your own standards, you don't seriously believe that actual  infinites are impossible, otherwise you'd be saying your god, by being a case of actual infinitity, is thus impossible.)

Second, plenty of creationists and anti-evolutionist websites, usually run by classical theist Christians who believe in biblical inerrancy, assert that the big bang theory is contrary to Genesis 1-2.  What do you say to your brothers in the Lord who find the big bang equally as unscriptural and unscientific as some atheists do?   Is confession of the big bang a test for orthodoxy, or is asserting the unscriptural nature of the big bang a position that is within the range of biblically allowable alternatives?

Third, every biblical description of god's activities in heaven would give the ancient reader the distinct impression that events happen up there in temporal chronological progression no less than they do on earth.  They would never have gotten the idea that the "eternity" god lives in is some sort of 'ever present now' or "other dimension" that is impossible for finite creatures to comprehend.  The bible talks about what goes on in heaven no less plainly than you'd talk about what happened at bible camp last year.

That being the case, how long do you suppose the list of god's prior acts is, and why doesn't your argument about the impossibility of traversing an actual infinite compel you to say the list of god's prior actions is limited?  If our inability to traverse an actual infinite proves the infinite is a faulty concept, then our inability to traverse the entire list of god's prior acts would, under your own logic, prove the notion to be a faulty concept.

The way i see it, the bible itself forces you to one of two conclusions, either of which do violence to what you currently believe:  either a) because the list of god's prior acts is infinite, the impossibility of our traversing an actual infinite does nothing to disprove the infinite, it merely speaks to our current inabilities, or b) the list of god's prior actions is NOT infinite...and at that point you can kiss your classical theism goodbye.  You suggest the list of god's prior actions is finite, and you wind up with a finite god and thus that much closer to Mormonism.

By the way, the Court has decided to allow my libel lawsuit against James Patrick Holding to go forward, so if you did in fact pray about this, you might consider that it was God who opened that door, when in fact the earthly judge was initially threatening to dismiss the case.  If prayer works, then thanks for your prayers. 

Minton also asks whether we have examples of things beginning to exist.  See here.

Minton failed to deliver the goods, the for the reasons outlined in my rebuttal, which was:

May 8, 2019 at 1:05 PM
    No, Mr. Minton, things beginning to exist in the sense of new atoms popping into existence, is NOT "self-evident". Those closest you could get is the Copenhagen school of quantum physics, but even that is too tenuous to be taken seriously in your effort to "prove" something.

    The only type of "begin to exist" we have any evidence for, is where the new thing is merely a rearrangement of pre-existing matter. You have no evidence that matter itself ever came into existence, and unfortunately, that's the precise sense you need to justify, in your effort to justify Kalam's first premise. Kalam doesn't say everything that begins to exist, was a re-arrangement of pre-existing matter. But its nice to see that you've pretty much admitted you don't have any serious evidence of anything popping into existence from nothing, rather, you have to "get around" the temporal-origin of things by bringing up the general bb theory. That is, you have no real-world analogies to show Kalam's first premise to be true, outside of the already-questionable and unconvincing BB theory.

    You challenge the atheist reader with:
    "If you, my dear reader, disagree, then let me ask you a question. Where were you the night the dinosaurs were killed by a meteor? Were you lying back in a canopy sipping coconut milk? Now that I think of it; where was I when that happened? I have no recollection of seeing the meteor wipe out the dinosaurs. Maybe the presupposition behind these questions is wrong. Maybe we weren’t there at all. Maybe, just maybe, we didn’t exist yet."
    -----I reply, correct, we did not exist in the days of the dinosaurs. But that doesn't mean our current existence implies creation of new atoms. We are STILL nothing more than a rearrangement of previously existing matter. This is rather obvious, while at the same time, your theory that some of what makes up a human being is "non-physical" has no compelling evidence whatsoever. Just read Moreland's treatment of the subject, and see what ridiculous warps the brain needs to entertain in order to continuing telling itself that thinking comes into the brain from another dimension. Nothing is quite as crazy as the efforts of Christian apologists to "prove" that the mind is different than the brain. When we say thoughts are always influenced by physicality such as brain damage or drugs, you can give nothing in reply, except that these proofs do not absolutely exclude the possibility of mind/body dualism. Well gee, the power of muscles doesn't absolutely exclude the possibility that the muscular power originates in another dimension and merely comes into the body using the muscle as an interface. Do you think the non-absolute nature of this proof is a compelling reason to leave open the option that the ultimate source of muscular power resides in another dimension (!?)

    You then argue "The reality is that we actually have a lot of examples of things coming into being; cars, trucks, galaxies, planets, people, houses, computers, telephones, animals, etc. These things didn’t always exist even if it were true that the matter these things were made of always existed."
    ----I reply, no; car, truck and galaxy did not come "from nothing", so they do not suffice to support your specific contention that things can come into existence "from nothing". When you say matter itself popped into existence from nothing, you are talking about something that has no analogy to how cars, trucks and galaxies come into existence. Creation ex nihilo is obviously quite different from the case of the auto manufacturer who takes pre-existing iron ore and turns it into a car.

    Either come up with real world examples of objects popping into existence without the help of preexisting matter, or we are rational and reasonable to deny that any such thing has ever happened.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Steve Hays' trifles about Paul's Damascus-road experience

At Triablogue Steve Hays decides to spend a good portion of his day uploading a "defense"  of the "historicity" of Paul's experience on the road to Damascus.  See here.

As usual, he asks the reader questions, but he doesn't appear to know the answer, or care.  I'll answer here his article and those who remarked thereto.
Thursday, May 02, 2019
The Damascus Road experience
    But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from the sky shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9).

    5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

    6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus (Acts 22:5-11).

    12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, (Acts 26:12-19).

1. How should we interpret the Christophany that triggered Paul's conversion? Was it a subjective vision? Or did Jesus appear to Paul physically? If you were a movie director, how would you visualize the scene? What would you show the audience?
Paul uses the rare Greek word "optasia" as he tells the readers that, 14 years after the fact, he still doesn't know whether his flying into the sky took place physically or spiritually (2nd Cor. 12:1, 2-4).  It's the same Greek word Paul uses to describe the Damascus-road event (Acts 26:19).  So atheists are "reasonable" to say that Paul didn't even understand in what exact manner Christ "appeared" to him on the road to Damascus, which in turn makes it reasonable to say this ancient story is worthless for purposes of historiography.
2. A critic might say the question is pointless since Acts is pious fiction. I'm not going to take the time to defend the historicity of Acts. There's the classic monograph by Colin Hemer, the multi-volume work edited by Bruce Winter, and Craig Keener's encyclopedic commentary. In addition, there are commentaries in the pipeline by Richard Bauckham, Stanley Porter, and Loveday Alexander which will presumably include erudite defenses of its historicity.
You forgot to mention“Acts and Christian Beginnings:  The Acts Seminar Report”, Dennis Smith, Joseph B. Tyson, editors.  Polebridge Press, 2013. It concludes Acts was written in the 2nd century as an apologetic text.  Contributors: Ruben Dupertuis, Perry V. Kea, Nina E. Livesey, Dennis R. MacDonald, Shelly Matthews, Milton Moreland, Richard I. Pervo,  Thomas E. Philips, Christine R. Shea, Dennis E. Smith, Joseph B. Tyson, William O. Walker, Jr.  This Seminar met from March 2000 to March 2011. 

Whatever allows you to automatically dismiss the scholarship of liberals, allows me to automatically dismiss the scholarship of conservatives.  I don't dismiss anything, I'm just making sure you don't mistake your favoring conservative scholarship as some sort of divinely sanctioned goal.

But either way, I don't argue that Acts is completely fictional, I believe it is, like most eyewitness accounts from the ancient world, a work that contains both history and fiction.  So merely showing that Ramsey was impressed with Acts' accuracy is not going to "demonstrate" that Acts is entirely truthful.  Some evidence that Luke found lying beneficial might be the obvious fact that the objective reader of Luke 24 reasonably takes Jesus to have ascended the same day he rose, whereas Acts 1 separates the two events by 40 days.  Again, it's probably something more than coincidence that the 40 days' worth of risen-Christ appearances just happens to cause the infilling of the Spirit to occur on "Pentecost".   
Approaching this from another angle, if Luke is writing fiction, why does he create an apparent discrepancy between 9:7 and 22:9?
 For the same reason dishonest eyewitnesses in Court don't always tell a perfectly consistent story.  If it sounds too refined, it will sound rehearsed or planned.
Likewise, why does he make Paul's traveling companions have a somewhat different experience of the Christophany than Paul?
 Because those traveling companions did not experience what Paul did, but Luke could not afford to simply say that while Paul was talking to an invisible man, these compansions were just looking at him and wondering if he had gone crazy.  Luke has to have the compansions experience SOME damn thing or other so as to give the story an air of plausibility.  Liars could possibly have written that Paul had a completely mental vision, but alas, Luke is writing to entertain, and so a dramatic "blinded by the light" story fills the need.

And as far as the historicity of the event, Acts 9 puts Paul's consultation of flesh and blood "immediately" within days after this event:
 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,
 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:19-20 NAU)

And Paul himself in Galatians contradicts this immediate-preaching account and places a trip to Arabia and 3 years between the event and his first preaching of Christianity:
 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;
 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased
 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas
, and stayed with him fifteen days. (Gal. 1:13-18 NAU)
Obviously Paul is lying, he was consulting with flesh and blood for 7 days between the experience and his recovery of sight.  He was lead by the hand into Damascus, and he stayed for those 7 days with others while he recovered:
 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
 11 And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,
 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
 13 But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;
 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."
 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;
 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,

 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:8-20 NAU)
So Paul's denial that he consulted flesh and blood "immediately" after his experience (Gal. 1:16) really does contradict the assertions in Acts that immediately after the experience, he consulted with Annias (who apparently was required for God to heal Paul of blindness) and he consulted with the Damascus disciples for 7 days before he began preaching.

The issue is not whether you can learn the skills of a defense-attorney and pretend that any evidence is consistent with your own view, the issue is whether non-Christians can be reasonable to reject inerrantist harmonization scenarios and assert that the accounts really do contradict.  They can.
Why not fabricate multiple independent witnesses who share the same sensory impressions?
Because trying too hard to look credible can reveal your tendency to lie.
3. Suppose, for argument's sake, that Jesus didn't physically appear to Paul. Suppose this is an apparition of the dead. Although in that case it can't be used as a prooftext for the Resurrection, it would still mean that Jesus survived death.
 You are drunk.  A story from 2,000 years ago about somebody seeing an apparition of Jesus "means" Jesus survived death?   What, are you writing this article solely for inerrantists?  And I reject your proposal anyway, at best Paul suffered a brain malfunction, see "St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy", Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1987;50:659-664.  Brorson and  Brewer were fools to challenge this by saying the story in Acts doesn't specify Paul endured all known effects of temporal lobe epilepsy.  Of course it doesn't.  Luke was a professional liar, you gain much in the eyes of gullible readers by staying quiet about something.

Paul also went from one extreme (killing Christians for being Christians) over to preaching in favor of Christianity, which makes it reasonable to suggest he experienced some type of psychotic episode and Luke has simply written up a partisan account that makes it seem more divine than it really was.

Not only is he still alive, but he appears to Paul in the trappings of a theophany. Moreover, an apparition would still be consistent with the Resurrection. So even on that interpretation, the Christophany is incompatible with naturalism or mythicism.
 Nonsense.  Saul was delusional and Luke is lying about what the traveling companions experienced, and you don't disturb the reasonableness of that position by pretending that there are ways to make the account make sense. 
4. Is the Christophany inconsistent with Jesus physically appearing to Paul? According to the three accounts, Paul and his traveling companions individually sensed something with their eyes and ears. They all saw something and heard something. That suggests a public, objective event.
It also suggests the author's ability to tell tall tales, and his knowledge of what it takes to make an absurd story sound more believable than it really is.
A mind-independent phenomenon, caused by an external stimulus. Something you could record on camera if you were there.
 And if we saw any similar video footage, we'd be inclined to say this is similar to what happened at the Salem Witch trials, with simpleton girls deceiving scores of people into seeing things they hadn't seen before, or otherwise accepting the girls' stories as truth.
5. Does the luminosity imply a psychological vision rather than a physical manifestation? No. The Christophany is reminiscent of the Transfiguration, where a physical Jesus becomes incandescent.

6. Did Paul just see light, or did he see the figure of Jesus? The statement in 9:7 suggests a point of contrast between what Paul saw and what his traveling companions saw. He saw something they didn't. He saw more than they did.
Paul also has a tendency to fly into the sky and later be unable to tell whether it happened physically or spiritually, 2nd Cor. 12:1-4, using the same optasia Greek word he uses to label the Damascus road experience, Acts 26:19.  I only bother with your trifles after this point solely for the education of doubting Christians who would like to see a full rebuttal.
7. Regarding the apparent discrepancy, the intended distinction seems to be that they heard sound or heard a voice, but couldn't make out what was said. Does that imply a subjective vision?
The story is a lie based partially on the ecstatic visionary called Paul.  yoru trifling questions are not interesting to anybody except other bible-believers who have at least some inclination to avoid saying the story is total bullshit.
i) It was an overwhelming experience. What if they were too stunned to listen? Consider people who say that when their doctor told them they had cancer, they stopped listening after the word "cancer"? Another possibility is that God controlled what they perceived.
Your analysis only impresses Christians, nobody else.  Another possibility is that the story is mostly fiction.
ii) But here's another consideration: Paul is going to Damascus to take into custody Syrian Jews who converted to Christianity. He can handle the Greek or Aramaic side of the conversation, but what if he picked traveling companions whose first language is Syriac to interrogate Syriac speaking converts? When Jesus speaks to Paul in Aramaic, they might not understand what was said.
Then what?  Maybe god doesn't want the traveling companions to experience this level of proof for Jesus' reality?   yeah right, and maybe the tooth fairy uses her magic dust to cause adults to disbelieve in her, for her own mysterious reasons. FUCK YOU.
8. Why was Paul blinded but they were not? Why did they only see light? Since we weren't there, we can't say for sure. But here's one way to reconstruct the scene: as they are walking, Paul momentarily turns around (due to subliminal divine prompting) and bam: the Christophany explodes into view. He is facing the Christophany while his traveling companions have their back to it. They don't turn around because it's painfully bright.

Paul sees Jesus, in a glaring nimbic aura, before it blinds him. Just like staring directly at the sun doesn't instantly blind the viewer, but if you look at it for too long, you will go blind.

9. The time of day means they were wide awake when it happened. It wasn't a trance or revelatory dream.
But other considerations, as already shown, indicate that you gain nothing but distinguishing this from a "trance".  Lies eyewitnesses tell on the witness stand do not involve trances, but what they claim to have physically experienced, but you don't find their stories more compelling for that reason.
10. Because the KJV uses the word "heaven", modern versions tend to copy that since Bible translations are commercially conservative; they avoid changes that would upset customers used to a traditional, venerable version. But "heaven" is ambiguous and prejudicial. It can mean several different things:

i) The abode of God/saints/angels

ii) An event that originates in heaven

iii) The sky

iv) A pious circumlocution for God

The Greek word doesn't imply that Paul saw Jesus in heaven (i). The description of the event, judging by its impact on Paul and his traveling companions, suggests light from the sky. That's reminiscent of the Ascension, where Jesus is suspended in midair, until the Shekinah envelops him.
it's also reminiscent of total bullshit.
    Jason Engwer5/03/2019 6:10 AM
    Topography has the potential to simultaneously explain some of the factors involved. Let's say Paul is walking in front of his companions. They're going over a hill. Paul can see over the hill, but his companions can't. He can see Jesus before the light begins shining. They can't. Since Paul is closer to Jesus, the light affects him more (blinding him, but not them), and he hears more of what's said. Or there may have been a scenario involving a bend in the road rather than a hill. Or it could have been a scenario like what Steve described, with Paul walking behind the others. Trees or other objects could have been involved in determining what was seen and when. And so on.    In addition to topography, there are issues like where people were looking at the time and how far apart they were walking. Notice that it's so easy to think of multiple potential scenarios that would explain what we read in Acts.
Sure, historical sources usually aren't written in such technically precise fashion as to exclude mere possibilities. Try again, this time, do something more persuasive then simply positing possibilities.  Show why unbelievers who reject the story as fiction, are likely "wrong".
    But it does require more thinking than would be necessary if somebody were making up an account that they wanted to be more easily understood and accepted.
How much thinking went into the deceptions created at the Salem witch trials?
The complexity of these accounts suggests their authenticity.
Then you must think the devil really did manifest himself physical in Salem Massachusetts in the 17th century.  Oh wait, I'm talking to Jason Engwer, the fool who wants to prove the spirit world so much, he gave substantial sums of money to spiritist organizations to obtain their bullshit evidence to help him authenticate the absurd "Enfield Poltergeist".  Nevermind.

And my challenge to Jason on that score has never been challenged.  show pictures of a girl jumping from her bed, nobody case.  Show the same pictures but give it the "she was levitating" story, and prepare for swarms of gullible people to be "amazed".
In fact, there are a lot of reasons for thinking the accounts are historical.
 Do you conclude when an eyewitness includes historically true details, that the entire story is true?  Obviously such a broad-brush isn't always justified, and Luke's being a "historian" therefore likely knew how to spruce up historical truth to make it more dramatic for the reader. 
For example:

    - There's no competing account.
Do you also argue from silence that the judaizers never wrote to each other in the first century, because we don't have any of their letters?
    - Luke's reliability.
You need to grow up.  You might choose to leap from "general reliability" over to "reliable in details", but that doesn't intellectually compel anybody else to do the same.
    - Why fabricate an account in which Paul's companions don't convert?
 Because to have them convert might make the story sound more fable-like.  Not having them convert makes it sound more "objective".
    - Why fabricate an account in which Paul's companions don't see the risen Christ and don't hear all that was said?
Because stories about how space aliens were not experienced the same way by all the present by-standers make for really interesting reading.
    - Why not make the physicality of the appearance more obvious, as with earlier resurrection appearances, like the earlier ones in Luke and Acts?
Because as you admit, the physicality-crap was already played, playing it more might make the story sound embellished.
    - Why make the events so complicated (as discussed above)?
Because the Paul probably had this experience, and Luke is simply sprucing up the details, realizing, like any careful historian would, that leaving some complexity in the account helps it "ring" more true to the average reader.

You say nothing here that intellectually compels anybody to drop the 'fiction' interpretation.

Jason Engwer5/03/2019 6:11 AM
    Regarding the physicality of the appearance, I'll add some points to Steve's. Acts tells us that Paul saw Jesus, not just a light (9:27, 22:14).
 Do you subject pre-Christian pagan supernatural stories to the same gullible exegesis (i.e., Pindar tells us that Zeus really did get Danae pregnant, is wasn't a mere dream)?
Paul says the same in his letters (1 Corinthians 9:1).
 Paul is also a deluded liar who cannot tell whether his flying into the sky took place physically or spiritually (2nd Cor. 12:1-4).  And you suddenly "discovered" that this epistles wasn't written by Paul.

Resurrection in Paul's letters and early Christianity in general involves the raising of the physical body that died, so a physical appearance of Jesus would make more sense than a non-physical one in that context.
Licona denies that Stephen's "vision" of Jesus was the same as Paul's, so apparently the nature of Jesus' resurrection doesn't even slightly favor the speculation that he'd only appear to others afterward in a physical way.
Similarly, the context of the remainder of Luke and Acts and earlier resurrection appearances in general is a context in which all of the earlier appearances were physical ones. So, it makes more sense for the appearance to Paul to be physical than it does for the appearance to be non-physical.
So what?  yeah, the story says Paul saw something physical.  So?  What, are you writing solely for inerrantists?
The objective, physical nature of how Paul and his companions heard Jesus' voice, with different people having heard him to different degrees, makes more sense if the voice came from Jesus' body than if Jesus wasn't physically present. And passages like Acts 22:15 group the hearing and seeing involved together, suggesting that both the hearing and the seeing of Jesus were of a physical nature. 22:14 refers to the voice coming from the "mouth" of Jesus. That terminology normally refers to a portion of the human body. Jesus is a human who was speaking in the context of a resurrection appearance, which involves a raised physical body, so the reference to a mouth in 22:14 is most naturally taken as a reference to Jesus' being bodily present during the appearance to Paul. There's no reason to think that something like an anthropomorphism is involved in 22:14. The passage is most naturally taken to refer to Jesus' bodily presence. Furthermore, Paul groups the appearance to him with the appearances to others (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), and early Christian tradition, reflected in a large number and variety of sources, portrays the appearances to the other resurrection witnesses as bodily appearances. Like Paul's writings, the book of Acts portrays Paul as a resurrection witness in the same category as the others (13:31-32, 22:15), and those other witnesses are said to have seen bodily appearances of Jesus.
 Granting the bodily nature of the story in Acts 9, 22 and 26 only hurts its credibility, since when somebody in a crowd sees that which all agree was "physical", we would have to question the story if the other eyewitnesses told of experiencing that physical thing differently.  To be physically discernable is to be discernable to every person standing nearby who has normal sight.

Feel free to say God didn't want the traveling companions to experience Jesus as intensely as Paul did, but again, you might make defense attornies feel better about the fact that language is never absolute and there will always be possible some half-way plausible alternative view...but you aren't saying anything to intellectually compel atheists to see the story as something other than embellished history.
    Jason Engwer5/03/2019 6:32 AM
    We should also take into account the multifaceted later corroboration of Paul's experience: Ananias' paranormal knowledge of what had occurred,
 Christians always think one another as specially gifted when they aren't.
the healing of Paul's blindness,
 So the story says.  I don't believe it.
Paul's acquisition of the ability to perform miracles, etc.
Paul never did any miracles, these are just tall tales.  You aren't going to be adducing such strong contrary evidence as to show that I'm "unreasonable" to deny Paul's ability to work miracles.
And the evidence we have for Paul's apostleship, like the miracles he performed and the confirmation of his apostleship from other apostles,
 Because the original 12 apostles were Judaizers, Paul was either lying in Galatians 2:9, or the famine of the Jewish church at the time caused them to realize they could get their hands on Paul's money and alleviate suffering by doing something that takes no effort at all, and publicly assert that Paul was a true apostle, or a member of the group.  I care about the other apostles approving of Paul about as much as I care about Nathanial Urshan approving of Robert Sabin.
gives us reason to trust Paul's interpretation of what he experienced, which he describes as a resurrection appearance.
 Maybe they give YOU reasons to trust Paul, but they aren't sufficient to do what you think they do, and demonstrate the unreasonableness of those who call Paul a fraud.

J.P Holding, served process in third libel lawsuit

Today, James Patrick Holding was forced to answer that undesirable knock at the door, and accept my lawsuit Complaint from a federal marshal...