Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My challenge to Al Serrato of pleaseconvinceme.com

Here is the debate challenge email I sent to Al Serrato, a Christian and criminal prosecutor who advocates over at pleaseconvinceme.com the same type of "forensic faith" stuff promoted by J. Warner Wallace:

Mr. Serrato,

I am a skeptic with several challenges to the resurrection of Jesus that I believe were not disturbed by anything in current apologetics books and blogs on the topic.
I would like to discuss with you this or any other apologetics topic of your choice, at any time, date and internet location most convenient to you, but I assume you'd approve of us doing this at your blog pleaseconvinceme.com?
Here's a short list of the issues I'm prepared to discuss, or propositions I'm willing to defend:
1 - There are only 3 eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection in the NT, at best, all the rest are hearsay.  And that's generously granting assumptions of apostolic gospel authorship that I am otherwise prepared to attack on the merits.

2 - Apostle Paul's gospel contradicts the one Jesus preached.

3 - The actions of the 11 apostles after allegedly experiencing the risen Christ indicate what they actually experienced, if anything, was something less than the "amazing transformation" lauded so loudly by apologists.

4 - Because Matthew is in all likelihood not responsible for the content in canonical Greek Matthew, he and his gospel are disqualified as  witnesses.

5 - Because John was willing to falsely characterize divine words he got by vision, as if they were things the historical Jesus really said and did, John and his gospel are disqualified as witnesses.

6 – John’s intent to write a "spiritual" gospel as opposed to imitating the Synoptics which he knew had already disclosed the “external facts”, argues that “spiritual” here implies something different than mere writing down of eyewitness testimony.  The historical evidence that is accepted by even fundamentalists makes clear that John’s source for gospel material included visions and not just memory.

7 - The NT admission that most of Paul's converts apostatized from him for the Judaizer gospel, warrants skeptics to be a bit more hesitant than Christians before classifying Paul as a truth-robot.  The NT evidence against Paul's integrity is many, varied and strong.

8 - Papias asserted Mark "omitted nothing" of what he heard Peter preach.  Because Bauckham is wrong when saying Papias here was using mere literary convention, Papias meant that phrase literally...in which case Mark's silence on the virgin birth is not due to his "omission" of it, the virgin birth doesn't appear in his gospel because there was never a virgin birth story available for him to omit in the first place...a strong attack on Matthew's and Luke's credibility.

9 - Paul's belief that Mark's abandonment of ministry justifies excluding him from further ministry work (Acts 15) will always remain a justifiable reason (assuming Acts’ historicity here) to say Mark wasn't too impressed with gospel claims, even assuming he later fixed his disagreements with Paul and wrote the gospel now bearing his name.

10 - Mark's strong apathy toward writing down Peter's preaching supports the above premise that he was less than impressed with the gospel, and likely only joined himself to the group for superficial reasons.  Not a good day for fundamentalists who think Mark was inspired by God to write his gospel.

11 - Peter's explicit refusal to endorse Mark's gospel writing, militates, for obvious reasons, against the idea that Peter approved of it.

12 - stories of women becoming pregnant by a god in a way not disturbing her virginity, are securely dated hundreds of years before the 1st century.  The copycat Savior hypothesis is virtually unassailable, once the admittedly false skeptical exaggerations of the evidence are excluded, and rationally warrants skepticism toward Matthew's and Luke's honesty.

13 - The failure of Jesus' own immediate family to believe his ministry-miracles were genuinely supernatural (the logical inference from John 7:5 and Mark 3:21-31) provides reasonable and rational warrant for skeptics to say the miracles Jesus allegedly did, were no more real than those done by Benny Hinn and other wildly popular con artists.

14 - The evidence for the specific contention that most of the apostles or earliest Christians died as martyrs (i.e., were forced to choose between death or committing blasphemy, and chose death) is furiously scanty and debatable, justifying skepticism toward this popular apologetic argument.

15 - the mass-hallucination hypothesis does not require the exact same mental images to have been shared by the original apostles.  Mass-hallucination need not require such impossibility any more than Pentecostals being slain in the spirit requires them to all move and talk in the exact same way before they can validly claim to have shared the same experience.

16 - There are contradictions in the resurrection accounts that are not capable of reasonable harmonization.
I am also willing to discuss whatever apologetics argument you think is the most clear and compelling.  Intelligent Design?  You'd be surprised at how easy that is to refute.  Messianic prophecy?  I'll discuss whichever one you believe is the most compelling.  Atheism?  I argue that the concept of God as believed in the Judaeo-Christian heritage is an incoherent concept, which provides all the rational warrant necessary to dismiss it just as quickly one dismisses pyramid power or telepathy. I will discuss any other topic you wish.  Epistemology?  I advocate empiricism, namely, you cannot give a convincing argument that anybody has ever learned a fact completely apart from their 5 physical senses.

I am posting this email to you at my blog https://turchisrong.blogspot.com.

Barry Jones.

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