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Saturday, August 13, 2016

What difference did Jesus make? (Goldingay on History.)

Fuller Old Testament scholar John Goldingay wrote (or at least published) a book last year called Do We Need the New Testament: Letting the Old Testament Speak for Itself.  By all accounts, the book is well-written and thoughtful.  I have not read more than a few paragraphs and some reviews, but I suspect I would agree with some of what Dr. Goldingay writes. 

Yesterday, Goldingay kindly sent me a copy of Chapter Two, Why Jesus is Important.  He did so because the radical anti-Christian Religious Studies professor at Iowa State, Hector Avalos, had posted some lines from that chapter, which seemed to concede a lot about Christian history that probably most Christians would not want conceded.  Avalos' point was that Christianity hasn't really done human society much good.  I wanted to see if Goldingay really thought that.  

Looking the passage in question over, it appears that indeed, Dr. Goldingay has overlooked some enormous, and enormously important, historical patterns.  I have noticed the same lacunae in high school history texts in both America and in China.  But it is troubling that a thoughtful, good-hearted senior professor at Fuller, where Ralph Winter once taught (who was deeply familiar with these facts) would remain unaware of the rich contributions of the Gospel to human civilization.  Or that he would approvingly cite so virulent a hater, and so unreliable a scholar, as Hector Avalos on the subject.  

I will quote relevant portions of the surrounding passage first, putting the portions that Avalos quotes in italics, enumerating points I intend to discuss below.  


Goldingay's Argument

"The most distinctive feature of the situation after Jesus came is that the Spirit drove people like Paul to traverse the world to tell the story of Jesus among other nations . . . 

"What difference did Jesus’ coming make to the world? It has been argued that “The Church has made more changes on earth for good than any other movements of force in history,” including the growth of hospitals,(1) universities (2), literacy and education (3), capitalism and free enterprise (4), representative government, separation of political powers, civil liberty (5), the abolition of slavery (6)modern science (7), the discovery of the Americas (8), the elevation of women (9), the civilizing of primitive cultures (10), and the setting of languages to writing (11).  It is easy to dispute this claim. The church resisted some of the developments just listed (12), some are not particularly Christian (13), and all were encouraged by humanistic forces and reflect Greek thinking as much as gospel thinking (14).10

[Footnote 10]: On slavery in particular (even when one allows for overstatement) Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011).”  

"One can alternatively do another thought experiment. Imagine we were still waiting for the
Messiah, that the first coming of Jesus has not yet happened.  How would things in the twenty-first century be different from what they are? In the twenty-first century world there is (among other things) much war, oppression, family dysfunction, marital unfaithfulness and divorce, sexual exploitation and sexual slavery, and economic slavery (16). It is difficult to claim that the world is in better shape than it was two thousand years ago. (17)  I am not clear that the coming of Jesus made much difference to these aspects of how the world is. That fact does not mean Jesus has failed to have the effect he said he would have. He said nothing about the world getting better in these ways (18). Indeed, he said they would continue the way they were and if anything get worse. Abolitionist Theodore Parker declared his faith that the arc of the moral universe “bends towards justice,” and Martin Luther King and Barack Obama have repeated his conviction. It’s sometimes possible to see evidence of that fact in the short term, but I am not clear that there is evidence to justify Parker’s faith when one looks at history more broadly. After all, freedom and civil rights did come to be granted, but first they had to be taken away, and fifty years after Martin Luther King matters look less encouraging to some African Americans than they did thirty or forty years ago. (19)

"The difference Jesus’ coming brought about is that there are billions of people in the world who acknowledge the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who would likely not otherwise have done so. This fact is in keeping with a New Testament emphasis. It is also the case that when these people die, they have a basis for knowing that they will rise from death on resurrection day, because Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated the bringing into being of a resurrected people to which they will belong. The result of Jesus’ coming was the preaching of the gospel to the world and the providing of the basis for a confident expectation of resurrection." (20)

I think this passage is mistaken, both historically and theologically.  I think the approach exhibited in these paragraphs does harm to the Christian witness and shows a lack of appreciation for the tens of thousands of Christian reformers, in the spirit of Christ, who have rocked this world to its foundations over the past two thousand years -- and apart from whom the world would in fact be a much darker place.  I think Christianity ("the Church" in the broad sense) has deeply inspired and brought about "changes for the good," probably more than any other institution, but certainly which ought not to be downplayed.   

It is only right, and filial that we give the saints who went before us proper honor, as the author of Hebrews does, in Hebrews 11.  Even the secular world would not, should not, dishonor say, the Confucian tradition as Dr. Goldingay does his own in these paragraphs.  

Not to mention unwittingly, and no doubt through the best motives, giving aid and comfort to some of Christianity's most virulent enemies, like John Loftus and Hector Avalos.  (Who never display a trace of such "fair-mindedness" in their own propaganda -- it is dirt on the Gospel, all day and every day.)  

Let us go through these twenty items, point by point.  


The Difference Jesus Makes

(1)  It has been argued that “The Church has made more changes on earth for good than any other movements of force in history,” including the growth of hospitals . . . 

Is it not a clear historical fact that devoted Christians have built thousands of hospitals on every continent, and developed the medical sciences resulting in the direct physical well-being of billions of people?  

One can hardly get away from Christian hospitals.  Never mind that the closest hospital in your American or French town is likely to be called "Providence" or "St. Lukes."  When I lived as a single man in Taiwan, I remember meeting dates in front of what seemed the most prominent local landmark: the MacKay Hospital, which continued the excellent work of the Canadian Presbyterian missionary, George MacKay, who set up clinics across the north of the island.  (Among other good works.)  That may be the leading medical institution in a country some 90% Buddhist, but it is far from the only Christian hospital.  Similarly, when I taught in Changsha, China, the school network I taught in was founded by the same people who founded the first medical school in the city, missionaries from Yale.  (Though the communists don't brag about those roots, aside from the word "Yale," of course.)  Similarly, Japan, India, Africa, and much of the rest of the world, are chock full of hospitals founded by Christians who took their savior's medical work seriously: I have met many of such missionary medical personal myself, including the much-beloved Paul and Margaret Brand.  

And this pattern goes back to the first centuries, and all through the Middle Ages. 

If Dr. Goldingay is unaware of that glorious, and often sacrificial, history, he should visit the Fuller School of World Mission, and listen to some stories.  

 (2 universities

The same is true of universities.  While admittedly in the 20th Century, secular humanists and communists largely took over the Christian work of founding universities (or gutting Christian colleges spiritually), the first were religious institutions, usually Christian.  Again, one can liberally furnish examples even from non-Christian countries.  Stark is good on the rise of universities during the Middle Ages, even among Nestorians in the Muslim world. Goldingay might also benefit from reading Vishal Mangalwadi.  But sources are numerous, because the facts are well-known and undeniable: almost all European and American universities before the Civil War were founded by Churches, and a remarkable number in Asia and Africa as well.  Any history of Christianity in China or Japan worth its salt will be liberally sprinkled with accounts of how such schools got started: in my wife's little city of Nagasaki, there were three or four universities with Christian roots.  

(3) literacy and education

For every university that missionaries founded, they generally started numerous primary and middle schools.  In one study of women who had attained higher education in a region in coastal China, something like 98% gained that education from church schools.  Even Joseph Stalin and Voltaire were educated by Christians, however unfortunate the use they put that education to.

My wife, as a Japanese Buddhist, went to Catholic schools as a girl.  Hundreds of millions of people around the world have done likewise.  

(4) capitalism and free enterprise 

Rodney Stark, following Max Weber, has made this case.  Perhaps they are wrong: I admit that this fact is less clear-cut or perhaps well-known to me than some of the others.  But at the least, such a case has been made, citing quite a bit of evidence.  

(5)  representative government, separation of political powers, civil liberty

Robert Woodberry has made the case for Christian influence on these institutions extremely effectively, in my view.  He argues that missions, especially Protestant missions, is the single most important variable in determining the growth of free civil institutions in countries around the world. 

(6) the abolition of slavery 

In The Truth Behind the New Atheism, I recount sitting in a seminar room in Merton College (I believe it was, or perhaps Corpus Christi), Oxford, with 30 or so other historians, who were discussing (among other things) the impact of evangelical Christianity on the abolitionist movement.  Not one questioned that the influence had been profound or decisive.  At the same time, not one expressed any personal Christian proclivities.

Six years ago, Hector Avalos attacked me, and some of the claims I made in those pages (not specifically about that meeting in Oxford, however) in a long and virulent Debunking Christianity article.  (He was mad at me for having debunked some of his own arguments.)  I then responded in two posts, first here, then here.  I do not think that in the course of our exchanges, the football moved down the field towards Avalos' goal, despite much heavy breathing on his part.

Avalos has since written a long book attempting (apparently) to debunk the claim that Christianity was responsible for ending slavery.  I have not read that book yet, partly because I haven't had the time or need so far, but also largely because I find Avalos' use of citations so unreliable.  Like Loftus' other ally, Richard Carrier, one almost suspect he seeks out obscure citations in the hopes that no one will discover how badly he has abused them.  (Though to be fair, he's not much more reliable when he cites more common texts, so perhaps this is more a case of confirmation bias than of intentional slipperiness.)  Other examples can be found in my series on his book on Christianity and violence.

This is, admittedly, an argument with an ad hominal warp to it.  "Avalos has a pattern of bogus citations, therefore his long arguments on slavery, which I have not had time to read and which attempt to overthrow or undermine truths accepted by most historians, pose a lower priority in my reading than other topics for the time being."

Personally, I don't think any amount of evidence can overthrow the facts as recognized by numerous scholars of the period, and not just at Oxford.  Avalos may find errors in Stark's well-known account in For the Glory of God, but given his record, and the facts as I know them (and describe them to some extent here), I'd put my money on Stark for the big picture.      

(7) modern science

Stark's For the Glory of God provides chapters on both slavery and the origins of modern science that provide good starting points for discussion.  (Though I know Avalos would challenge Stark on some details, and Stark's history is not infallible.  See my review of Loftus' The Christian Delusion for a response to Richard Carrier's essay, "Christianity and Science.")  James Hannam's God's Philosophers / The Genesis of Science offers a more thorough and less polemical account of the same history.  Charles Thaxton, Stephen Barr, Paul Davies, David Landes, and Oxford historian of science Allan Chapman are among those who have further demonstrated the intimate linkage between Medieval Christian theology and the rise of modern science.  I don't think there is good cause to dispute the general thesis, any longer.

(8) the discovery of the Americas

I am not sure Christians should want credit for this item, given how Columbus and his ship-mates treated the natives.  But Christianity did lend the Spanish a banner around which to rally, helping Iberians cast off 500 years of Muslim domination, and saving Europe from Muslim conquest. That's a great boon, I do believe.  Columbus sailed, and the last Muslim kingdom was conquered, in the same year, both under the sponsorship of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.  While Columbus' motives may be questioned (and I would have much to learn, here), the fact that Christianity played a crucial roll in allowing Europe to throw off their would-be conquerors, permitting the explosion of science, technology, and civilization that followed, is I think hard to dispute.

(9)  the elevation of women

That Christianity raised the status of women around the world, I have demonstrated on this site, beyond (I think) reasonable doubt.  Indeed, while hundreds of skeptical responses have been posted at Christ the Tao and elsewhere, none of my essential points has I think been robustly challenged.  Most responses have been more like these ones.  

(10) the civilizing of primitive cultures 

It is indisputable that the Gospel has often had this effect.  That was certainly true through the Middle Ages in Europe: see Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion, for an overview.  How else did the Vikings become peaceable Scandinavians?  For modern examples, some related first-hand, see the works of Don Richardson, and biographies or autobiographies of James Fraser, Eugene Morse, and Mary Slessor, to give just a few examples. Again, Goldingay might consider consulting the faculty at Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, or perhaps some of the doctoral dissertations that used to adorn the office there.  

(11) and the setting of languages to writing.  

This general claim, too, is impossible to knowledgeably deny.  Many European languages, beginning perhaps with Gothic, were indeed set to writing by Christians for evangelical motives.   At least portions of the Bible have been translated into at least 2,500 languages so far: I have held some of those Bibles, the first written book in a variety of languages, and met some who translate others.  If Dr. Goldingay is unfamiliar with these facts, he may also like to visit the US Center for World Missions on the other side of Colorado Avenue in Pasadena from Fuller.

It is easy to dispute this claim. 

It would be interesting to see someone who knows the facts, try.  At best one might challenge the comparative quality in which Goldingay frames the claim.  I suppose one might argue that the communists ultimately set more languages into writing, or founded more hospitals, while admitting that Christians inspired by the life of Jesus got the ball rolling.  But I am not sure that math would pencil out, and I've never seen such an argument attempted.

(12) The church resisted some of the developments just listed 

Who is "the Church?"  Given that "the Church" has included billions of people down through the centuries, this claim may be either true or false, depending on how you interpret it.  But that is neither here nor there.  People generally resist change to their core cultures.  It might therefore be true BOTH that most Christians were resistant to a given redemptive change (though one would have to cite evidence for that claim), AND that the Gospel provided the reformist spur that set billions of people free.

For instance, most American southerners resisted the abolition of slavery, obviously.  And most were "Christians" in some sense.  But it was in their strong self-interest to keep slaves, and a blow to their pride to meekly obey the North.  So the fact that they did resist abolition, in no way undermines the evident historical truths that abolition arose in a Christian society, and was led mostly by serious Christians for religious reasons.

(13) some are not particularly Christian 

I don't suppose discovering America is particularly Christian, true.  But that does not conflict with the thesis that "the Church" set into motion the events that resulted in that discovery.  

Most of these items are, I think, particularly Christian, though.  Jesus was a healer.  Jesus was an educator.  Jesus loved women in a healthy, redeeming manner.  Jesus told his disciples to make the world worshipers of the One Creator God, whose universe is discovered through science.  Since "Christian" means "Christ-like," it is by definition Christian to act like Christ.  

 (14) and all were encouraged by humanistic forces and reflect Greek thinking as much as gospel thinking

This seems, on the surface, to contradict (13).  If some of these movements were not "particularly Christian," then to say that they reflect Greek thinking "as much as gospel thinking" is to say they are also not particularly Greek.  

But perhaps that is a mere debater's point.  More importantly, I dispute Goldingay's historical point.  No, pre-Christian humanists were not generally inclined to liberate slaves or raise the status of women.  And they did not: Jesus and his followers did, around the world, as the articles and books cited above demonstrate. 

(15) [Footnote 10]: On slavery in particular (even when one allows for overstatement) Hector Avalos, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011).” 

While this particular book may ultimately prove a model of careful scholarship, I wouldn't bet on it.  See my response to (6), above, and linked articles.   

(16) "One can alternatively do another thought experiment. Imagine we were still waiting for the Messiah, that the first coming of Jesus has not yet happened.  How would things in the twenty-first century be different from what they are? In the twenty-first century world there is (among other things) much war, oppression, family dysfunction, marital unfaithfulness and divorce, sexual exploitation and sexual slavery, and economic slavery

This strikes me as a very bold, and very wrong-headed, claim.  Before Christ, almost half the population of Athens were slaves.  What is it now, 0.2%?  If this article is correct, one in two hundred, not one in two, modern humans is something of a slave.  Shouldn't we distinguish between forest and shrubs?  Isn't it an improvement if we rid the world of 99% of something bad?  

Warfare is much less severe than it used to be, too.  Among some tribes in Amazonia or New Guinea, about a third of young men were killed in battle or in village rivalries.  That percentage went way down, after those tribes accepted the Gospel.  The same tamping down of violence seems to have occurred in Scandinavia, indeed in countries around the world.   War has not been abolished, of course - human nature remains what it was, and most people are not Christian.  But let us not pretend that things are just as they once were.  We do not do gladiator fights in Yankee Field, or set animals on slaves in Tiger Stadium, or cut out human hearts on the Washington Mall, or even sell slaves at the Mall of the Americas.  That's progress.


(17) It is difficult to claim that the world is in better shape than it was two thousand years ago

It certainly is not.  "Human society has become vastly more civil in the past 2000 years, thanks in large part to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."  There, I just did it.

And I have backed that up.  Slavery has shrunk to a tiny remnant of what it was.  Human sacrifice has been almost banished.  (Despite post-Christian revivals among the Nazis and Communists.)  No one builds pyramids and cuts out thousands of hearts, then feeds the meat to the waiting upper castes.  Lower castes in India are not totally free, but their condition is vastly improved.  The feet of women in China are no longer bound.  Women are no longer imprisoned in their homes in India.  (They are in some parts of the Muslim world, but that is only because the influence of Jesus has been checked.)

Hospitals and schools dot the countryside in almost every nation on earth.  Polygamy is engaged in by a small minority.

One could go on and on.  Did I mention medicine and technology?  Hot baths and medicine and sanitation and sewers?  Are we not communicating on the World Wide Web?  Men and women are still sinners.  But to deny social improvement (along with, in some cases, regression), and to get such a denial past editors at IVP, is pretty amazing.

 I am not clear that the coming of Jesus made much difference to these aspects of how the world is. 

Well I am clear about that.  

(18) That fact does not mean Jesus has failed to have the effect he said he would have. He said nothing about the world getting better in these ways

But God told Abraham, who had just offered up Isaac in a shadow of Jesus' redemptive death on the cross: "I will bless your seed, and through your seed I will bless all the nations of the world." 

And Jesus told his disciples to follow him, doing the things he did - which can only mean healing, bringing peace, teaching, feeding the hungry, casting out demons, saving the marginalized from oppression, redeeming sinners.  Shalom is a sign of the Gospel of Peace.  I am surprised that a Christian professor would seem to deny the visible reality of that sign, obscured as it often is (this is also part of the Gospel) by our sins.   

(19) Indeed, he said they would continue the way they were and if anything get worse. Abolitionist Theodore Parker declared his faith that the arc of the moral universe “bends towards justice,” and Martin Luther King and Barack Obama have repeated his conviction. It’s sometimes possible to see evidence of that fact in the short term, but I am not clear that there is evidence to justify Parker’s faith when one looks at history more broadly. After all, freedom and civil rights did come to be granted, but first they had to be taken away, and fifty years after Martin Luther King matters look less encouraging to some African Americans than they did thirty or forty years ago.

Subjective appeals to how some people see matters do not change the long-term historical facts.  2000 years ago, slavery was ordinary: now it is recognized as an abomination.  G. K. Chesterton predicted that it would be revived, and it has been, by the Nazis and Communists.  And other ills -- the breakdown in the family, which is the greatest problem in the African American and now European and Euro-American communities, and the source of other ills -- reflect a failure on our part to continue to live out the Gospel.  If we neglect the Gospel, all bets are off.  But on numerous levels -- Rene Girard is also worth reading on this -- the Gospel of Jesus continues to secretly control and inspire reform in every generation. 

(20) "The difference Jesus’ coming brought about is that there are billions of people in the world who acknowledge the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who would likely not otherwise have done so.  This fact is in keeping with a New Testament emphasis.  It is also the case that when these people die, they have a basis for knowing that they will rise from death on resurrection day, because Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated the bringing into being of a resurrected people to which they will belong.  The result of Jesus’ coming was the preaching of the gospel to the world and the providing of the basis for a confident expectation of resurrection." 

True, the New Testament does not simplistically promise us a rose garden, or if it does, only one with thorns that are numerous and painful.  Jesus promises his followers that they will be hated, persecuted, and even killed.  And those promises have often come true.

Neither human nature nor the plots of the Evil One have changed.  We saw in the 20th Century how evil could metastasize and assume forms that rival the Aztec pyramids for sheer evil, and on a far grander scale -- even in the country where Luther preached, indeed Luther himself was not guiltless in that evil, as Avalos rightly points out.

And yet Jesus told his disciples they were the "salt of the earth." Isn't salt supposed to bear some preserving or flavorful qualities?

Jesus also called his disciples the "light of the world."  Alexander Solzhenitsyn compared Christians in the Gulag to candles, casting light into the small sphere around them.  He himself received that light, converted to Christ, and went on to help inspire the overthrow of Soviet tyranny.  (With other followers of Christ, like Pope John Paul II: George Weigel tells part of the story in The Final Revolution.)  Isn't light something one can see?  Isn't that Jesus point -- that the Gospel would inspire good acts by Christians that would cause even non-Christians to stand up and take notice?

And haven't Jesus' words come true?  (So long as we do not help our enemies obscure the best that the Gospel does through Jesus' most faithful disciples!)

Jesus instructed his disciples to "Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel . . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."  Shouldn't that teaching, which centered (Matthew also tells us) on "love God, love your neighbor as yourself" have some affect even on this world?  Isn't that what Jesus taught us would also be among the signs that would follow the impact of his ministry?

And are not the great things the followers of Jesus have indeed accomplished -- healing, teaching, reforming, creating civil society even new sciences -- worth glorifying God for?  Are they not also part of the witness we should bear to the world?  (As sincerely as we must also acknowledge our sins?)

It would be unfair to judge Dr. Goldingay's whole book by these few careless passages.  But they point to the need for Christians to make the historical case for the Gospel far more effectively than we have done so far -- not to paper over sins, but to tell an enormous and important story that the world refuses to relate, and often lies about, instead.  

19 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

Hospitals in the ancient world did not begin with Christianity and Christians, though they adopted the practice. They were also unable to treat many illnesses right up to the Civil War era, because they didn't know about germ theory, so they didn't know about the necessity of sterile conditions when breaking the skin, and they couldn't treat infections we treat today with anti-biotics, nor prevent diseases with vaccines. So a lot of people simply died from infections, diseases, accidents and operations in hospitals until the advent of modern medical knowledge and techniques. Speaking of modern hospitals and medical science, you should read the book, The Secular Saints of Johns Hopkins https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/07/secular-saints-of-johns-hopkins-and.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

Centers of learning were invented by Greeks and Romans before Christians started founding universities. And European universities started to form after the rediscovery (in Islamic libraries) of the works of Aristotle and others in the 1200s.

The founding of universities in Christian Europe also led naturally to more controversy between Christians, not less. At first it was probably a conflict between neo-Platonist Augustinian Christian philosophers and Aquinians. Calvin studied at a Christian university. So did heretics. And Calvin's works caused friction and even helped catalyze bloodshed between Christians in Europe. Then 200 years after Calvin's death the president of the university founded by Calvin in Geneva was led by a deistically inclined Christian who didn't believe in eternal punishment or a literal Satan.

Trying to come to an accord between Christian teachings and the ever probing knowledge of university professors and students has always been a bit of a chore for Christians, right up till today.

The Galileo Episode Was Part of a Larger “Culture War” Between the Church & More Secular Ideas

In the summer of 1591 students from the University of Padua attacked the local Jesuit college and successfully appealed to the Venetian Senate to intervene on behalf of the university. When the Jesuits were expelled from the Venetian dominion a few years later, religious censorship was virtually eliminated. The result was a remarkable era of cultural innovation that promoted free inquiry in the face of philosophical and theological orthodoxy, advocated libertine morals, critiqued the tyranny of aristocratic fathers over their daughters, and expanded the theatrical potential of grand opera.

In Padua a faction of university faculty, including Galileo Galilei and the philosopher Cesare Cremonini, pursued an open and free inquiry into astronomy and philosophy. In Venice some of Cremoniniʼs students founded the Accademia degli Incogniti (Academy of the Unknowns), one of whose most notorious members was the brilliant polemicist Ferrante Pallavicino.

The execution of Pallavicino for his writings attacking Pope Urban VIII silenced the more outrageous members of the Incogniti, who soon turned to writing libretti for operas. The final phase of the Venetian culture wars pitted commercial opera, with its female performers and racy plot lines, against the decorous model of Jesuit theater. The libertine inclinations of the Incogniti suffuse many of the operas written in the 1640s, especially Monteverdiʼs masterpiece, LʼIncoronazione di Poppea.

Edward Muirʼs exploration of an earlier age of anxiety in his book, The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance: Skeptics, Libertines, and Opera, reveals the distinguished past of todayʼs culture wars, including debates about the place of women in society, the clash between science and faith, and the power of the arts to stir emotions.

Edward T. Babinski said...

What About the Fact That European Universities Were Founded and Led Largely by Pious Christians?

REPLY: Use of the word “largely” implies that one need not be a “pious” Christian to found or lead a university. In fact, where do you think the idea of teachers/schools of education came from? Hellenistic thinkers. Hellenistic schools were founded and led by Hellenists, until Christians closed down such schools because they werenʼt “Christian,” and because Christians at that time saw themselves at war with all forms of paganism and with rival Christian groups. It was a war between God and demons as the Christians saw things back then, and the most essential education involved how to save your soul from hell. Augustine wrote the first detailed defense of hell and eternal punishment. People were forever crossing themselves. Christian Emperors outlawed books by Arius, Porphyry. But humans are curious beings, and even Christianity could not extinguish such curiosity. Books were saved, copied. Enough for western civilization to reboot. I doubt that human curiosity can be completely extinguished. I also doubt that uniformity of thought can be maintained among human beings. Opinions, including religious beliefs, always seem to branch out like an evolutionary tree of life, though in the case of the development of science--with its slow accumulation of empirically based knowledge about the cosmos--more universal agreements come about, since scientists of all religious views or none have duplicated each othersʼ results and continue to build on our knowledge of the cosmos.

As for the way universities naturally seem to lead to questioning authority rather than to pious thoughts one should study the culture wars of the Renaissance, from Leonardo da Vinciʼs questioning of religious and other authorities in the early Renaissance to similar episodes throughout Italy (the Galileo episode was merely part of a larger “culture war” between the Church and more secular ideas). Also check out the book, The Swerve: How The World Became Modern, about how Lucretiusʼs book, On the Nature of Things, written before Christianity was born, was almost lost forever, but a copy was rediscovered during the Renaissance which reintroduced ideas like “atoms/atomism” that helped spark the modern age.

What About Sir Francis Bacon? He Was a Pious Christian and One of the Fathers of the Empirical Method that Preceded the Scientific Revolution

REPLY: Leonardo da Vinci lived a generation before Francis Bacon and sounded like a more thorough empiricist than Bacon. Bacon was a geocentrist and came up with a “doctrine of spirits.” While da Vinci wrote in his notebook that, “The sun does not move,” and also rejected a lot of the so-called “spirit” talk of his day. (Admittedly, according to one biographer da Vinci took the Catholic churchʼs last rites, but other than that, he sounded like an eighteenth century deist and empiricist when it came to the God question). Read more about Leonardoʼs anti-authoritarian stance, along with his defense of empiricism and even his doubts concerning the biblical flood story by clicking here.

Edward T. Babinski said...

What About the Middle Ages & Their Contribution to the Scientific Revolution?

REPLY: What about them? Read this Reformed Christian apologistʼs admissions concerning the state of Europe during the Christian Middle Ages:

Corruption was widespread in the church of the late Middle Ages... Many priests were uneducated, barely able to say Mass, let alone understand it... The defining moment not only for the church but also for the emergence of modern Europe was certainly connected with the Renaissance... The rise of the city was also important. The late medieval city was known as the ‘foyer of modernity’... economic improvements, empowerment of the laity [not the church], and secularity of the city, which was decreasingly under the control of the church. In the towns the individual began to have unprecedented responsibility. Social ties were less hierarchical and more horizontal... the printing press played a crucial role in disseminating... ideas... it enabled educated people and readers to discover new ideas... disputations were frequent, but mostly between various understandings of Christian problems. In the sixteenth century the major disputes were internecine. But the seventeenth century we find, alongside the development of post-Reformation orthodoxy, the rise of deism, indifference, Socianism [a type of Unitarian/non-Trinitarianism], and of course the force of the Enlightenment... Although controversial, Johan Huizingaʼs volume, The Waning of the Middle Ages (N.Y.: Doubleday/Anchor, 1954) indicates the number of ways in which spiritual and cultural trends were on the decline in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Europe... In theology confidence in God is diminshed.

Source: Christian Apologetics Past and Present (Volume 2, From 1500): A Primary Source Reader, William Edgar, K. Scott Oliphint

MUCH MORE HERE... https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/07/how-and-why-did-scientific-revolution.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

How many of society's "influences" can be traced back to "Jesus?" In The Dawn of Conscience James Henry Breasted showed how the earliest known recorded ethics and laws belonged to the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians and Babylonians, who preceded the Hebrews. In The Codes of Hammurabi & Moses W. W. Davies showed how the law code of Hammurabi profoundly influenced the later law code of the Hebrews in both style and content. For a recent general summary see William Sierichs, Jr.'s article, "The Pagan Origins of Biblical Morality (Or - Where Did Moses Really Get Those Commandments From?)." There is also the critically acclaimed work, Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East. And in Origins: The Ancient Near Eastern Background of Some Modern Western Institutions William W. Hallo listed the debt modern civilization owes to ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian ideas of urbanism, the formation of capital, the order of the alphabet, astronomy, mathematics, algebra, the division of the day into 24 hours, the hour into 60 minutes, the circle into 360 degrees, the coronation of kings, games, cookbooks, and much more.

The "human story" encompasses every civilization on earth over a very long period of time. "Jesus" was not "born" into the "human story" until a mere two thousand years ago. And after his birth it took ten to fifteen hundred years before the first Christian missionaries reached China and the Americas. (During that same period, Islam challenged Christianity and "won" the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Russia, parts of India, and parts of Indonesia, to become the most widespread non-Christian religion on earth. Also, Communism's expansion was more explosive than either Christianity's or Islam's, and even after the decline of Communist influence, it has left behind billions of "practical atheists" when it comes to religion.)

I would agree if Christians merely claimed that "Jesus" was known at least by name by billions. (But of those billions, how many different interpretations of "Jesus" exist?) I would also agree if he had merely claimed that the human story had been influenced to varying degrees by different interpretations of "Jesus." But to brashly claim that "Measured by his influence, Jesus is central to the human story" demonstrates blind religious devotion rather than commitment to historical truth and accuracy. The "human story" is old and brimming over with "influences" stretching back to ancient civilizations both East and West. In Western civilization alone there were ancient Near Eastern influences; Greek/Roman politics, art, architecture, law, science and philosophy; Islamic mathematics, astronomy, philosophy (including the thousands of Greek and Roman manuscripts preserved by Islamic scholars at the library of Seville that played a crucial role in re-igniting Western society's intellectual progress). Other major influences include "guns, germs, and steel;" the Renaissance; the Enlightenment; modern day socialist, humanist and feminist influences and ideals; and "common sense" (as Thomas Paine might say).

Speaking of the crucial influence that the Enlightenment exerted upon Christianity, theologian Albert Schweitzer pointed out, "For centuries Christianity treasured the great commandment of love and mercy as traditional truth without recognizing it as a reason for opposing slavery, witch burning and all the other ancient and medieval forms of inhumanity. It was only when Christianity experienced the influence of the thinking of the Age of Enlightenment that it was stirred into entering the struggle for humanity. The remembrance of this ought to preserve it forever from assuming any air of superiority in comparison with thought."

Edward T. Babinski said...

Pulitzer prize-winning political scientist, Francis Fukuyama put it this way: "There was a time when religion played an all-powerful role in European politics with Protestants and Catholics organizing themselves into political factions and squandering the wealth of Europe on sectarian wars. [Like the "Thirty Year's War" that began in 1618 when Protestant leaders threw two Catholic emissaries out of a Prague window, and which turned central Europe into a wasteland of misery, leading to the deaths of more than a quarter of Europe's population. - ED.] English liberalism emerged in direct reaction to the religious fanaticism of the English Civil War. Contrary to those who at the time believed that religion was a necessary and permanent feature of the political landscape, liberalism vanquished religion in Europe. After a centuries-long confrontation with liberalism, religion was taught to be tolerant. In the sixteenth century, it would have seemed strange to most Europeans not to use political power to enforce belief in their particular sectarian faith. Today, the idea that the practice of religion other than one's own should injure one's own faith seems bizarre, even to the most pious churchmen. Religion has been relegated to the sphere of private life - exiled, it would seem, more or less permanently from European political life except on certain narrow issues like abortion... Religion per se did not create free societies; Christianity in a certain sense had to abolish itself through a secularization of its goals before liberalism could emerge...Political liberalism in England ended the religious wars between Protestant and Catholic that had nearly destroyed that country during the seventeenth century: with its advent, religion was defanged by being made tolerant."

Even Robert Wuthnow, an evangelical Christian writer, admitted in Books & Culture (a newsletter produced by the editors of Christianity Today), "Framers of modern democratic theory in eighteenth century Europe [and colonial America - ED.] were profoundly influenced by the religious wars that had dominated the previous century and a half. Locke's emphasis on tolerance and Rousseau's idea of a social contract were efforts to find unifying agreements that would discourage religious groups from appealing absolutely to a higher source of authority. The idea of civil society emerged as a way of saying that people who disagree with each other about such vital matters as religion could nevertheless live together in harmony."

Mohandas K. Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer, are two who did not believe in "Jesus" in the way that Christian evangelists advocate one must in order to accomplish acts of charity and tolerance. Gandhi believed in focusing on whatever was best in each religion rather than trying to convert people from one religion to another. And Schweitzer was a noted theologian who rejected "the crooked and fragile thinking of Christian apologetics." He later became a medical "missionary" in Africa because he held a liberal Christian philosophy based on a "reverence for life." And what about Florence Nightingale, the woman who made nursing a legitimate profession? She was one of the first women-libbers who believed a woman's place was not simply in the home. She disdained institutionalized religion and taught that hospitals should not be sectarian at all, and not reject people simply because they did share the same beliefs as those who founded the hospital, and even insisted that those who were admitted into such sectarian hospitals be allowed their own clergy in to comfort them, no matter what sect or religion the ill belonged to, rather than be harassed only by the clergy of the particular sect who founded each hospital. (Speaking of which the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, was a freethinking Unitarian Universalist. And the founder of the International Red Cross, Andre Dunant, was gay.)

Edward T. Babinski said...

There are innumerable charitable organizations today; from international peace-seeking (and hunger-fighting) organizations to a multitude of national and local charities. In the U.S. such charities as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association are supported by donations to The United Way, which helps raise contributions for thousands of other national and local charitable organizations few of which are connected with religion or a particular religious denomination. And there are plenty of other charities seeking to help others like Doctors Without Borders, the Will Rogers Institute and Comic Relief. And think of all the food given away to needy families by secular governmental organizations. Churches could never supply the kind of safety net government is able to provide. That was proven in the nineteenth century. And all such work appeals to people of many religious beliefs or none, and has more to do with a simple wish to help others than with "Jesus" per se, or with "Evangelical" and "conservative" religion in general (many conservative Christian politicians apparently would rather adults and children starve, or remain malnourished).

Speaking of "Jesus' influence" on nations today, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and most other nations of northern Europe contain relatively low percentages of "Christians," yet their human rights records, their generosity, their average education levels, their quality of life, lengthy life spans, low crime rates, and low poverty rates, put the rest of the world to shame, including the far more "Christian" United States. Scandinavians also have the lowest rates of unplanned pregnancies in the world. They instituted comprehensive teaching in birth control in their schools, and it worked. The leaders of Scandinavia have a long record of working for world peace. Swedes have been in Bosnia far longer than Americans removing land mines. The leaders of Norway initiated the peace talks between the PLO and Israel.

Japan is another industrialized nation whose people have longer average life spans, higher average education levels, less poverty, lower crime rates, a lower percentage of their population in prison, and lower abortion rates than the United States. Fifty-six percent of the Japanese population "do not believe in God or a Universal Spirit or were uncertain." Compare that with the ninety percent of the U.S. population who "believe in God." (Countries that have as high a percentage of "believers in God" as the U.S. include Northern Ireland and Iran.)

And what about movements and organizations throughout history that have emphasized "Jesus" and yet which wound up promoting suspicion, divisiveness, inequality, intolerance, bigotry, hatred, fear (especially of anything remotely secular or non-Christian, not to mention fear of hell and of Jesus's "soon" coming, and also fear of rival Christian sects and Bible-loving heretics) subjugation, persecution, slavery, torture, terrorism, and war?

Edward T. Babinski said...

Lastly, Please read this info on Christianity and Charity

https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2012/10/charity-and-nonreligious.html

As well as this piece,

They Saved the Lives of Billions, or Donated Tens of $Billions$ to Charitable Foundations--without trying to convert others to their religion/philosophy unless it's to love learning and love & help others: Hilleman, Borlaug, Gates, Buffet https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/09/they-saved-lives-of-billions-or-donated.html

I have some additional posts under the heading of Christianity and charity as well: https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/search/label/charity

David B Marshall said...

Ed: I didn't say that Christians invented hospitals, nor did I say ancient medicine was generally effective. Stark, again, is quite good on the latter issue.

Nor, of course, did I say that European universities have always been tranquil. Heck, there were battles in Oxford between "town and gown," with fatalities -- I think it started with booze.

History involves billions of people, each with his or her self-interests, it is not merely a history of ideas. That Christianity has had a profound, and often decisively beneficial, impact on the West, is I think perfectly clear, and made clearer by the historians I cite above. That "the Church" was always on the right -- or wrong -- side would be sheer cartoonery.

Your version of how Christianity fought against ancient knowledge in the ancient world, which is rather cartoonish, has been discarded by most real historians. Read the works I cited above. What monks generally did was copy and preserve ancient writings. The fall of Rome represented demographic losses that had been cutting into Roman strength for centuries already, from long before the rise of Christianity, which helped reverse those losses by encouraging marriage. What put a stop to ancient civilization was a series of invasions, not a book-burning campaign, at least not by the Christians.

Note, for example, what Hugh Trevor-Roper says:

"Eastern provinces . . . produced the corn for Italy and for the imperial armies. They were also the commercial and industrial hart of the empire . . . Very different were the Roman cities of the West -- Segovia, Merida, Arles, Cologne, York. They were military camps, strategic posts, crossroads. As such they were mainly consuming, not producing, cities. Those of them which produced were agricultural centres . . . The eastern cities are real cities. They produced the wealth which sustains the empire . . . The West is still a rural, a provincial, even a colonial society."

Both East and West were then invaded from three directions, and the more civilized East was lost.

Christian monks copied books in their abbeys, and then the Vikings came, again and again, and destroyed those abbeys and stole their treasures. You might like to read Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization.

Do you have any evidence that Aristotle inspired European universities? The Church was heavily involved in education before that. And if you read Stark, you'll learn that even in the "Muslim" east, civilization and science and scholarship were mainly carried out by the Nestorians.

David B Marshall said...

Tell you what, Ed. If I have time, I'll try to post a fuller response to your arguments in a separate post later on. I suspect you copy and paste these ideas hither and yon, and probably they need a fuller refutation which I can point to wherever you bring them up. Gotta go to church, now.

David B Marshall said...

Melinda Gates, BTW, is a pious Roman Catholic, who says, "I'm living out my faith in action." Bill Gates seems to be a fuzzy agnostic, who has, unfortunately, bought into some of Dawkins' ideas.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Mr. Marshall,
I understand your disappointment with some of Dr. Goldingay’s view on abolition, but it only reinforces my repeated criticism of you. You are neither an expert, nor have you done the requisite research to make your arguments.

The fact that even an evangelical scholar can cite my work with approval shows a fair mind, and acknowledgment of the power of the evidence I present.

Your continued reliance on Rodney Stark is one example where you obviously have not checked all of Stark's sources or his interpretation of the sources he uses to support his case for the contributions of Christianity.

I have addressed the main claims made by Stark about Christianity’s role in abolition in my book (Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship [2011], of copy of which I sent you, but you still have apparently not read it after years of having it (if i missed your discussion or review, I apologize).

That does not reflect someone interested in counter-evidence, but rather someone interested in retaining beliefs regardless of the evidence available against them.

And you need not depend on my word that I have effectively refuted Stark. Robert Seesengood, a scholar who did review my book, and who does not agree with me on everything, said the following:

“Among Avalos’ principal antagonists are several evangelical scholars and Rodney Stark. Stark’s For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts and the end of Slavery argues that (Roman Catholic) Christianity and the Bible initiated most intellectual and ethical progress in Western culture. One specific example, for Stark, is the role of the Bible in abolition. Avalos’ critique of Stark is complete and devastating. To be fair, however, as a target for scholarly fire, Stark tends to be a rather low-flying dirigible, lacking any substantive training in relevant languages, literature, and scholarly history for biblical and theological debate, and revelling in deeply tendentious argument.”
http://novaojs.newcastle.edu.au/ojsbct/index.php/bct/article/view/565/503

Please note again: “Avalos’ critique of Stark is complete and devastating.”

Perhaps when you actually read the evidence I present, you might change your mind, as well.

David B Marshall said...

"You are neither an expert, nor have you done the requisite research to make your arguments."

I think that was my criticism of you. Your repeated historical and exegetical blunders have been amply chronicled on this site.

In fact, I am an expert in some, but not all, of the topics I write on -- as is anyone who attempts to sketch a "big picture" of life. Including your New Atheist allies -- I am listening to Dawkins' second autobiography right now, he's a classic example, but I try to be more careful than him.

"The fact that even an evangelical scholar can cite my work with approval shows a fair mind, and acknowledgment of the power of the evidence I present."

I could say the same thing about atheists who have favorably cited my arguments. Thank you for the backhanded endorsement of The Truth Behind the New Atheism, which you have previously criticized.

"Your continued reliance on Rodney Stark is one example where you obviously have not checked all of Stark's sources or his interpretation of the sources he uses to support his case for the contributions of Christianity."

I was very careful about explaining the extent to which I do or do not "rely on" Stark. I cite him as offering a good introduction, that's all. You react to his name, not to my actual argument, not surprisingly.

"I have addressed the main claims made by Stark about Christianity’s role in abolition in my book (Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship [2011], of copy of which I sent you, but you still have apparently not read it after years of having it (if i missed your discussion or review, I apologize)."

MY argument, as made clear, is based mostly on other grounds. You would, for instance, have to take on a large portion of the Oxford history faculty to budge my own premises -- among other things. You simply misread my argument above.

And in case you have forgotten, I myself have participated in the fight against human bondage, and was inspired to do so by the Bible itself. I have personally met many others with the same experience. So I begin knowing for certain a fact that you seem to have devoted your challenge to disputing -- an unfair advantage, perhaps.

I have not read that book yet, as I also make clear above. Why do you comment without reading even that short portion of my post that you appear to be commenting on?

Perhaps I can work your book into my next project, on women. When I do, I will be fairer to you than you were to my The Truth Behind the New Atheism. But there is a large mass of facts with which I am familiar enough that no amount of contrary argument of the particular sort you typically engage in, can conceivably overthrow.

Next time, kindly read, rather than skim, the relevant portion before responding, and avoid supporting my charge that you exegete sloppily.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

RE: "I have not read that book yet, as I also make clear above. Why do you comment without reading even that short portion of my post that you appear to be commenting on?"
I was trying to be as charitable as I could be. Otherwise, your neglect of a major challenge to your pro-Christian position on slavery shows that you do not perform due diligence before you speak on abolitionism. You have been doing that for years now, and yet neglecting major counterarguments. Stark is a good sociologist, but he should not be used to support historical conclusions about slavery.

RE "Your repeated historical and exegetical blunders have been amply chronicled on this site."

I think you are confusing your opinion with fact. You have not exposed any blunders. It is just that you don't have the expertise to know that your supposed refutations are no such thing. You now have at least two academic evangelical scholars who think my book on slavery is good scholarship. I don't see any atheist scholars describing your work in a similar manner.

RE: "You would, for instance, have to take on a large portion of the Oxford history faculty to budge my own premises -- among other things."
If you have not read my Slavery book, then how would you even know such thing? What specifically are you speaking about? And what makes you think the Oxford historians are right about everything if you cannot read many of the primary sources for yourself? I also have contributed to Oxford reference books, and so are you going to agree to everything I write there about religion and violence?











David B Marshall said...

You were being "charitable" by showing that you hadn't read the comments you were replying to? That's the kind of "charity" I have come to expect from radical atheists: heck, Richard Carrier couldn't bring himself to accurately describe a single one of my arguments, in his recent "review" of my last book. (See recent posts here.)

Richard Fields, Dr. Hiawatha, Steven Harrell, and Landon Hedrick, are four atheist scholars who have given my work reviews about as positive as Goldingay gave yours. Whether you "see" their comments or not, is merely a biographical statement about you.

My comments above are frank and appropriate. I explain my opinion and what it is based upon, that I have not yet read your book (this one, anyway), and why I don't think that matters to the opinions I express here. Since you haven't challenged what I say here -- and since I have, yes in my opinion, replied adequately to your critique of those two or three pages in The Truth Behind the New Atheism on Christianity and slavery -- nothing of importance remains in dispute in this forum, which your book might conceivably (even if it is more careful than your previous books) overthrow.

And probably like you, I have other priorities still. Readers who wonder about our previous discussions, may peruse articles on this site related to Hector Avalos, and read your critiques on John Loftus' site too, if they like. When and if I am able to return to this subject, I will read your book on slavery. But I have much else to do before then.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Nothing in my comments on your blog demonstrate a lack of reading about what you wrote.

I have repeatedly informed you that I have addressed at least some of the claims in your post in the books (e.g., Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship; The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics) that you have not read according to your own testimony.

At least I have read what I comment upon (yes, I have read most or all of your self-published books), while you cannot even bring yourself to do what is deemed proper in any field of scholarship (e.g., read what you are commenting upon).

You speak of "four atheist scholars," who are not the equivalent of Dr. Goldingay in terms of biblical scholarship. For example, in one of your own past comments you describe Hedrick as follows:

“Recently a grad student in philosophy and atheist with whom I’ve been dialoguing, Landon Hedrick, posted a critique of a comment I made...” http://christthetao.homestead.com/debates/MarshallHedrick.pdf

A “grad student in philosophy,” as honorable as that may be, is not the same as a biblical scholar or someone of Dr. Goldingay’s stature in biblical studies. Otherwise, you give no references or quotes that we can verify from them.

As I have noted many times before, you have yet to publish anything in biblical studies that has been reviewed by biblical scholars for any professional journal (at least to my knowledge)l. You simply applaud yourself, à la Trump, and think that constitutes evidence of serious biblical scholarship.

David B Marshall said...

Hector: It sounds as if we've read similar percentages of one another's books.

Your comment about my "self-published" books is a little confusing, since you have posted at length on one little snippet of one of my three or so non self-published books, so that distinction seems irrelevant. Unless, of course, it is intended as a dig at me for self-publishing some of my books. If so, you should know I do so by choice, now, usually, in the last two cases because of time constraints.

If your book on slavery is mainly about biblical studies, Goldingay's area of expertise, then it would not much overlap with my post, or published comments, on that subject. But mistakes you have made in NT exegesis, which I have chronicled, have at times been frankly grotesque, and clearly motivated by inordinate hostility. The texts say what they say, and you wrote what you wrote, and no amount of spinning after the fact can make the two cohere.

All four atheists were well-informed in some of the areas that they reviewed. My books almost always get great reviews from reasonable and informed people, constrained only by how many people read them, and I am confident that when even more serious-minded skeptics give them a chance, I'll get even more positive reviews. Your original comment didn't specify praise in any particular field -- it was a general, and misinformed, observation.

Blomberg is a biblical scholar, and a singularly well-informed one. McGrew is extremely well-read in this field, and is a respected scholar in the field of epistemology and philosophy of science -- very useful background for evaluating my recent book. Whether or not they wrote their comments in a professional journal is of no consequence: you're grasping for some excuse to dismiss their positive appraisals.

"You simply applaud yourself" is simply a lie. Blomberg, McGrew, Fields, Harrell, Chapman, Stark, Griffiths, Wolterstorff, Yancey, Louis, Richardson, Brand, Adeney, Winter, Jenkins, and Swinburne are not "me praising myself." They are highly-accomplished scholars and writers who have praised my work. Let's try to keep to the truth here, Hector. So far, you and Richard Carrier are the only people I know of with PhDs who have denigrated my writings -- and we both know why that was. To give you credit, at least your critiques, while unjust, pettifogging and misleading, at least looked serious, and involved actually reading and attempting to disprove something I had actually said. So you're ahead of Carrier on that score: telling patent falsehoods like "you simply applaud yourself," when I've already shown that is not the case, is only going to bring you down.

David B Marshall said...

I thought of five more examples: Donald Treadgold, at the time head of the Department of History at the University of Washington and founding editor of Slavic Review, endorsed my chapter on "Why Did Marx Go Wrong?" now in Jesus and the Religions of Man -- the precise area of his primary expertise.

Win Corduan, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University, endorsed my How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test.

As did Randal Rauser, the Canadian theologian with whom you are no doubt familiar.

John Lennox, Oxford philosopher of science, wrote me an enthusiastic e-mail saying how useful he found my New Atheism book.

And finally, Ben Devan sent me a copy of his PhD dissertation on the New Atheism at Emory, in which my book on that subject was featured among others. In his Amazon review, Ben said my book "stands among the best of several dozen" responses to the New Atheism to date. (2010) Devan also told me he found Jesus and the Religions of Man a "smashing good read," though of course adding some useful criticism.

So among scholars with or obtaining PhDs, the score on my work is at least 18-2. And many of those eighteen are extremely eminent scholars. And both of the two had had their own work deeply criticized by me, before they attacked my writings. I need hardly add that neither of their "reviews" were published in journals, either.

It would be better if you changed the subject to something more substantive. But if you insist on personal attacks, make sure next time that their substance is accurate, please.

David B Marshall said...

Oh yes, 19-2. Ivan Satyavrata wrote a fantastic review of How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test. Satyavrata is one of the world's leading experts on the subject of one chapter in that book, and familiar with scholarship relevant to the theme of the entire book, as well. (I should add that Corduan is also an authority on the subject matter of that book.)