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Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

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Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!
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Darkprophet232User avatarPosts: 226Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:42 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

Visaki wrote:I wonder if you'd consider the Quran as evidence of the existence of Muhammad (not the legend, but the man).


I can't speak for AronRa, but I would not consider it evidence. We have many works of fiction based on real life people, but I could not call that evidence that they were real people. Case in point, if in 1000 years we've lost all trace of Abraham Lincoln, I would hope the historians of that era, should they come across a copy of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, would use it as evidence that we had a President who served the country during the day and fought the undead at night.

It is much the same with Quran. We have some other evidence that Muhammad existed, but not that he rode a horse with the head of a man to heaven and back. Because of the fantastical claims of the Quran, without evidence, I can not take anything it says as evidence on its own. It can reinforce the actual history of Muhammad, but that version of him would look much different that the one in the Quran.
“The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down." -The Judge
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:00 pm
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

To answer the question about the existence of evidence for Christianity, we must evaluate and examine the term ‘evidence’.

Aronra, you have provided us with your definition of the word evidence, as follows: “Evidence is an alignment of facts consistent with only one available indication over any other. Facts are points of data which are either not in dispute or are indisputable in that they are objectively verifiable." And also in this thread, "Remember that 'evidence' is one or more facts which are exclusively indicative of, or concordant with, one available explanation over any other"

Is this a complete, primary or usual definition of evidence? I would contend that this is not a primary definition, but a subjective, very strong and altogether too stringent definition of evidence. Things that fit this definition certainly would be evidence, but many things that are evidence would not fit this definition.

Testimony, for example is a form of evidence. Is all testimony, verifiably factual? Would every aspect of somebody’s testimony in any given situation be indisputable? Testimony can be faulty. It can be problematic, nonfactual, biased and imperfect but is still considered a legally accepted form of evidence. Would testimony fit your stated definition of evidence Aronra? I believe that in many cases it would not.

Hearsay is a more interesting example of evidence. Is hearsay legitimate evidence? It is very weak as a means of supporting a case, but it is actually a form of evidence. Is it accepted in court? Well generally no it is not, but sometimes it is, given special circumstances. In some courts around the world it is not uncommon for considered hearsay to be allowed in court. The problem here is the quality of hearsay evidence. It is compromised and weak as a means of persuasion, but it is evidence. Multiple attestation can increase the value of hearsay evidence. Below is a link to a word on hearsay from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Often enough in European legal cases, it says that hearsay will be used in court. Hearsay doesn’t have to make it to court, to still be evidence. Would hearsay fit your definition of evidence? Again, I believe that it wouldn’t.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... 25/hearsay

You state that “'evidence' is one or more facts which are exclusively indicative of, or concordant with, one available explanation over any other"
Is this true? Good evidence certainly does fit this explanation, but can things that do not indicate only one explanation over another still be evidence? Can things that do not deliver proof still be evidence? The answer is yes.

Consider a guilty criminal. Is a guilty criminal always convicted in court? Amongst the variety of reasons for acquittal in a case where the defendant is guilty, would be the lack of sufficient evidence. The evidence may be indicative of the crime, but not conclusive. There may exist evidence, but that is not persuasive or supportive enough of the guilt of the criminal. In such a case, would the evidence be non-existent, or simply insufficient? The answer would be insufficient. It did not provide proof or conviction, but it did indicate some guilt. So things that do not provide us with certainty, knowledge or proof can still be evidence for the guilt of this criminal, but simply be insufficient or inadequate.


Here are the first few sentences of the wikipaedia entry on evidence.
“Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.”

Does this fit your explanation and definition of evidence? I would say that a primary definition of evidence is far broader than the one that you offer on this site.

Here is a definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
a) an outward sign : indication
b) something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

There is more detail to the definition, but here part (a) defines evidence in a very weak manner. An “indication” it says. Rigid and confirmed facts are not necessary to give an indication. Weak hearsay can give an “indication”.

So, evidence can be extremely weak, deliver no proof or even persuasive information and still be evidence.

Sometimes very imperfect information lacking in factual basis can be evidence of a person, thing or event.

Before the matter of evidence for Christianity is considered, the question regarding your definition of evidence must be asked. I would certainly agree that anything matching your definition would be evidence, however I would disagree with it as being the primary and only definition of evidence. Evidence primarily defined covers a far wider spectrum than that potentially available in your definition. Indeed many things that would be considered legal evidence might not fit the rigidity and strength of your definition. I think that your definition of evidence is a little subjective and is extremely strong. It would exclude many weaker examples of evidence and would include only things that virtually deliver or do actually deliver proof. You are asking for evidence and discounting many things that actually are evidence, because they don’t match your very high standard. You are allowed to have a high standard, but when objective examples of weak evidence are found, it is your subjective opinion that discounts them as evidence, rather than their identification as evidence being inaccurate, given dictionary or encyclopaedic definitions. Is any of this post fair?

I would suggest that the key question relating this technically to the thread is one evaluating the strength of the evidence for Christianity, rather than of its existence. Is it good or bad, strong or weak?

I would state that there is some circumstantial evidence for Christianity, some hearsay evidence, some testimony and perhaps a little direct evidence all within the Canon. There is also some evidence outside the Bible too. I would state that there is some evidence for Christianity, but that upon evaluation it just isn’t good enough to prove the Theology. I certainly think there is some good evidence for Jesus’ existence as a moral teacher or a Rabi and for some of the events of his life and death.





Aronra, I posted an email from a university professor on this thread earlier. How would you respond to the comments that he made regarding this issue? Why would he suggest that there is evidence for Christianity?
Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:42 am
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3179Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

Greetings,

Welcome, x J Baby x and HogTieChamp, to LoR! :D

Regarding the term "evidence", I think I agree with Engelbert that most people would take it as "soft" - circumstantial - where the option remains that it may not hold water, rather than "hard" - (definitive) proof.

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:23 pm
AronRaContributorUser avatarPosts: 564Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 1:47 pm

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

Engelbert wrote:To answer the question about the existence of evidence for Christianity, we must evaluate and examine the term ‘evidence’.

Aronra, you have provided us with your definition of the word evidence, as follows: “Evidence is an alignment of facts consistent with only one available indication over any other. Facts are points of data which are either not in dispute or are indisputable in that they are objectively verifiable." And also in this thread, "Remember that 'evidence' is one or more facts which are exclusively indicative of, or concordant with, one available explanation over any other"

Is this a complete, primary or usual definition of evidence? I would contend that this is not a primary definition, but a subjective, very strong and altogether too stringent definition of evidence. Things that fit this definition certainly would be evidence, but many things that are evidence would not fit this definition.

Testimony, for example is a form of evidence. Is all testimony, verifiably factual? Would every aspect of somebody’s testimony in any given situation be indisputable? Testimony can be faulty. It can be problematic, nonfactual, biased and imperfect but is still considered a legally accepted form of evidence. Would testimony fit your stated definition of evidence Aronra? I believe that in many cases it would not.
Nor could it -by anyone's definition- in this case, for the several reasons I have already repeatedly explained. The claim is what is being challenged. We need evidence to support the claim. Therefore the claim itself cannot be evidence. It's simply a circular argument.

Hearsay is a more interesting example of evidence. Is hearsay legitimate evidence? It is very weak as a means of supporting a case, but it is actually a form of evidence. Is it accepted in court? Well generally no it is not, but sometimes it is, given special circumstances.
Whatever excuses some courts may use in some instances, hearsay cannot be considered evidence in this case.

In some courts around the world it is not uncommon for considered hearsay to be allowed in court. The problem here is the quality of hearsay evidence. It is compromised and weak as a means of persuasion, but it is evidence. Multiple attestation can increase the value of hearsay evidence. Below is a link to a word on hearsay from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Often enough in European legal cases, it says that hearsay will be used in court. Hearsay doesn’t have to make it to court, to still be evidence. Would hearsay fit your definition of evidence? Again, I believe that it wouldn’t.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... 25/hearsay
All of that is irrelevant since there isn't even any hearsay to consider in this case.

You state that “'evidence' is one or more facts which are exclusively indicative of, or concordant with, one available explanation over any other"
Is this true?
Yes.

Good evidence certainly does fit this explanation, but can things that do not indicate only one explanation over another still be evidence?
No, then they are just facts.

Can things that do not deliver proof still be evidence? The answer is yes.
If you're going to ask me questions, let me be the one to answer them. In this case, you are correct. Proof is "an overwhelming preponderance of evidence".

Consider a guilty criminal. Is a guilty criminal always convicted in court? Amongst the variety of reasons for acquittal in a case where the defendant is guilty, would be the lack of sufficient evidence. The evidence may be indicative of the crime, but not conclusive. There may exist evidence, but that is not persuasive or supportive enough of the guilt of the criminal. In such a case, would the evidence be non-existent, or simply insufficient? The answer would be insufficient. It did not provide proof or conviction, but it did indicate some guilt. So things that do not provide us with certainty, knowledge or proof can still be evidence for the guilt of this criminal, but simply be insufficient or inadequate.
True. However in this instance we are not dealing with a lack of substantive or conclusive evidence; there is no evidence of any kind at all.

Here are the first few sentences of the wikipaedia entry on evidence.
“Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.”

Does this fit your explanation and definition of evidence? I would say that a primary definition of evidence is far broader than the one that you offer on this site.
It is also inaccurate, because if the data is concordant with a number of contradictory options, and doesn't indicate or exclude any particular one, then it fails the primary definition. The mere existence of a grassy knoll doesn't prove there was a shooter on it. Yet that's the sort of 'circumstantial' evidence you're pleading for. Similarly we can prove the existence of all of the countries depicted in the Indiana Jones series, and we prove that Hitler existed too, but that doesn't mean that both characters existed, simply because the movies say that they met. Would you say that the adventures of Indiana Jones are supported by evidence?

Here is a definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
a) an outward sign : indication
b) something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

There is more detail to the definition, but here part (a) defines evidence in a very weak manner. An “indication” it says. Rigid and confirmed facts are not necessary to give an indication. Weak hearsay can give an “indication”.

So, evidence can be extremely weak, deliver no proof or even persuasive information and still be evidence.
Granted. And yet we still don't even have anything that would qualify as weak evidence in this case.

Sometimes very imperfect information lacking in factual basis can be evidence of a person, thing or event.
Wrong. Only accurate information can meet the standard of evidence.

Before the matter of evidence for Christianity is considered, the question regarding your definition of evidence must be asked. I would certainly agree that anything matching your definition would be evidence, however I would disagree with it as being the primary and only definition of evidence. Evidence primarily defined covers a far wider spectrum than that potentially available in your definition. Indeed many things that would be considered legal evidence might not fit the rigidity and strength of your definition. I think that your definition of evidence is a little subjective and is extremely strong. It would exclude many weaker examples of evidence and would include only things that virtually deliver or do actually deliver proof. You are asking for evidence and discounting many things that actually are evidence, because they don’t match your very high standard. You are allowed to have a high standard, but when objective examples of weak evidence are found, it is your subjective opinion that discounts them as evidence, rather than their identification as evidence being inaccurate, given dictionary or encyclopaedic definitions. Is any of this post fair?
No. First of all, my definition is being misrepresented. I never said that evidence had to 'prove' anything, only that the facts couldn't be considered evidence until they ally with only one of the available scenarios. For example, Jason's assertion that water storage in jugs somehow implies that Jesus is a demi-god in human form. No, there are many other explanations that are far more reasonable, and even if there weren't, that fact still wouldn't/couldn't imply what Jason wants to pretend that it does.

I would suggest that the key question relating this technically to the thread is one evaluating the strength of the evidence for Christianity, rather than of its existence. Is it good or bad, strong or weak?
As yet, you haven't shown that any evidence exists at all. There is a collection of highly-dubious, inconsistent, contradictory claims of impossible nonsense, which you consider to be evidence. None of these were written by eyewitnesses, nor even from 2nd hand accounts, none of them are supported by concordant data, or contemporary accounts, and all of them are contradicted by a wealth of facts from many different independent fields of study -including archaeology, theology, and mythology. This is the fact of the matter. Positive claims require positive evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. These apparently vacuous claims are not believable on their own, and should be externally supported by a large body of compelling evidence -which simply is not there. All we have is the fable itself, and you're suggesting that the fable be evidence of itself. If that same standard doesn't apply to Sumerian texts or Vedic scriptures, then this same circular argument can't work for the Bible either.

I would state that there is some circumstantial evidence for Christianity, some hearsay evidence, some testimony and perhaps a little direct evidence all within the Canon.
And I would say you're wrong on all counts.

There is also some evidence outside the Bible too.
There is plenty of evidence against the Bible, but nothing whatsoever to support it.

I would state that there is some evidence for Christianity, but that upon evaluation it just isn’t good enough to prove the Theology. I certainly think there is some good evidence for Jesus’ existence as a moral teacher or a Rabi and for some of the events of his life and death.
No there isn't. There are too many problems with virtually every aspect of his tale. There is no functional chronology that doesn't conflict with itself, no consistency in any of the accounts, no logical possibility behind any of the claims, and too many of the significant details were either obviously made up out of nothing or borrowed from the elder demi-gods of neighboring mythos. Not even Christian theology supports its own conclusions; it's logically inconsistent. There is absolutely no reason to believe any of it.

Aronra, I posted an email from a university professor on this thread earlier. How would you respond to the comments that he made regarding this issue? Why would he suggest that there is evidence for Christianity?
Christians typically have a VERY different standard of what they consider evidence. They say it doesn't have to be factual, objective, or even accurate; it can literally be a combination of logical fallacies beginning with a circular argument following confirmation bias back to an assumed conclusion -unsupported by anything, and indefensible by anything other than emotional pleas. This is essentially what I said to Frank Turek when he explained his interpretation of 'evidence', because that is exactly what it was.
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true." - Friedrich Nietzsche.
"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:16 pm
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

I will reply to the other points that you make later, but with regards to the professor of philosophy, I would like to make a few comments.

It seems to me that you have assumed he is a Christian. I would like to know why you have done this (if you have done this), although I would guess it is because he has stated that there is some evidence for Christianity.

The fact is that despite my efforts to find out, I have been unable to discern his philosophical outlook or religious position, so for the time being it is unknown.


Let’s assume that he is a Christian. He is a senior lecturer in philosophy at a British University and as such is unlikely to be an unintelligent Christian. He seems to have produced some well received philosophical work. He is an educator and is therefore, hopefully a man who attempts to divulge honest, dispassionate information whatever his personal views may be. I believe that a British establishment of higher education is unlikely to hire people that do not fit this particular description and less likely to make them senior faculty members.

I sent him two emails with regards to this matter earlier in the year and he kindly replied twice. My emails were sent to his university address and as such he responded from his university address. When such a thing is done a person is representing the establishment for which they work. Poor responses, impolite responses, inaccurate responses may come back to their place of work and cause their employers and their joined reputations, problems. This makes me believe that given a matter such as this, he is more likely to respond with accurate and proper information. The repercussions for not doing so are probably not worth it if it were to be general practice when responding to students, or people that make enquiries. Whilst explicitly Christian Universities and Colleges exist in the States, this type of set up is scarce if present at all in the UK, where further education is well regulated and secular as far as I am aware.

As such, I give his words credibility and some weight on this matter, whether he is a Christian or not. I would hope that the correct information is divulged rather than biased information. This is the purpose of an educator, whatever his or her views.



With regards to the question of whether he is a Christian: from the words in his email, this possibility seems very doubtful to me. Would a Christian refer to the Faith to which they belong as, “that religion”? That seems like a reference to a thing that he places at a distance, or that he does not participate in. A Christian would surely be less distant in their reference to Christianity and may even disclose that they personally are a Christian. Britain is a reasonably secular place and even more so in the teaching departments of the universities. It seems less likely to me that senior staff members will be devoutly religious in the UK and if they are, I think it likely that they will at least dish out impartial and correct information to students, or else find themselves out of work.
By the nature of his words about the evidence for Christianity, I think he implies that it is not very good. He says, “Now whether this constitutes good evidence, or sufficient evidence for Christianity is another matter entirely, but it is still evidence nevertheless.” This is slightly ambiguous, but it does not feel like a ringing endorsement of the evidence for Christianity.
He also states that there is evidence for all religions to be found in their texts, or “revelation” as he says. Given this equal treatment of all the religions as having evidence, it does not seem as though he is biased to Christianity in any way. It seems that he probably considers the evidence to be circumstantial and to simply be a word, rather than an implication that all of these faiths are simultaneously true.
Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:25 pm
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

In the post, that this pertains to, I was just referring to your definition of evidence and its validity in the first part, not relating it to the issue of Christianity (I did this in the 2nd part - the intention being to separate the two), so this was just about your definition rather than its links to Christianity.


Aronra wrote: “Evidence is an alignment of facts consistent with only one available indication over any other. Facts are points of data which are either not in dispute or are indisputable in that they are objectively verifiable."

Would testimony fit your stated definition of evidence Aronra? I believe that in many cases it would not.

Nor could it -by anyone's definition- in this case, for the several reasons I have already repeatedly explained. The claim is what is being challenged. We need evidence to support the claim. Therefore the claim itself cannot be evidence. It's simply a circular argument.



The claim is irrelevant here and so is Christianity. Does Testimony fit your definition of evidence, that you have outlined several times – regardless of its relation to Christianity?
I’m sure that you would agree that testimony is evidence, but given the tight constraints in your definition of what you consider to be evidence, testimony may rarely or only sometimes qualify. This makes your definition of evidence subjective or incomplete.


Hearsay is a more interesting example of evidence. Is hearsay legitimate evidence? It is very weak as a means of supporting a case, but it is actually a form of evidence. Is it accepted in court? Well generally no it is not, but sometimes it is, given special circumstances.

Whatever excuses some courts may use in some instances, hearsay cannot be considered evidence in this case.


Forget Christianity. If Hearsay is evidence, then how is your definition of evidence complete? Hearsay is less reliable than testimony, so your definition is caused problems here.

In some courts around the world it is not uncommon for considered hearsay to be allowed in court. The problem here is the quality of hearsay evidence. It is compromised and weak as a means of persuasion, but it is evidence. Multiple attestation can increase the value of hearsay evidence. Below is a link to a word on hearsay from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Often enough in European legal cases, it says that hearsay will be used in court. Hearsay doesn’t have to make it to court, to still be evidence. Would hearsay fit your definition of evidence? Again, I believe that it wouldn’t.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... 25/hearsay

All of that is irrelevant since there isn't even any hearsay to consider in this case.


It is not irrelevant, because all this relates to is your definition of evidence for the purposes of this post. If your definition of evidence is complete then this article from the Encyclopaedia Britannica seems likely to be invalid.


You state that “'evidence' is one or more facts which are exclusively indicative of, or concordant with, one available explanation over any other"
Is this true?
Yes.
Good evidence certainly does fit this explanation, but can things that do not indicate only one explanation over another still be evidence?
No, then they are just facts.


They can be in history.

Here are the first few sentences of the wikipaedia entry on evidence.
“Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion. At the other extreme is evidence that is merely consistent with an assertion but does not rule out other, contradictory assertions, as in circumstantial evidence.”

Does this fit your explanation and definition of evidence? I would say that a primary definition of evidence is far broader than the one that you offer on this site.

It is also inaccurate, because if the data is concordant with a number of contradictory options, and doesn't indicate or exclude any particular one, then it fails the primary definition. The mere existence of a grassy knoll doesn't prove there was a shooter on it. Yet that's the sort of 'circumstantial' evidence you're pleading for. Similarly we can prove the existence of all of the countries depicted in the Indiana Jones series, and we prove that Hitler existed too, but that doesn't mean that both characters existed, simply because the movies say that they met. Would you say that the adventures of Indiana Jones are supported by evidence?


What is the primary definition that you mention here? Are you talking about your personal definition? This is a semantic issue now. The issues at work with uses of the word evidence are peculiar. You use the word prove here. Evidence doesn’t have to prove anything here. The mere existence of the grassy knoll could be evidence for the shooter. It is not proof though, simply evidence. Why? Because the lack of the grassy knoll would be evidence against the proposition that there was a shooter upon it. No grassy knoll, less chance of the story being accurate. Evidence for the grassy knoll is evidence for the story as a whole being accurate. There doesn’t have to be any proof involved here. I would say that the adventures of Indiana Jones are fiction, but if you want to build a case for his existence or the existence of those stories, we can find some evidence. The evidence would be tentative, lacking, weak, indirect and insufficient. This comic book analogy is not quite apt in this instance, because I am not asserting that this evidence gives us knowledge, proof or certainty. The comic book analogy works, in that it illustrates that we cannot know if the shooter exists, but doesn't quite work when related to evidence, since evidence does not have to deliver us with knowledge/proof of the shooter’s existence, although we would much like it to. Evidence for New York does not prove Spiderman existed, but if you want to build a case for the existence of Spiderman, then evidence for New York is evidence for Spiderman, since the non-existence of New York is evidence against Spiderman. It doesn’t prove Spiderman, or demonstrate his existence, it is just a little bit of evidence for Spiderman. Spiderman’s existence is still as unlikely as ever, since we explicitly know that the adventures of Spiderman were written as fiction, but New York is evidence for him if you want to build a case. You will not gain knowledge or proof of his existence via this and evidence in this context does not claim or assert it either.



Here is a definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
a) an outward sign : indication
b) something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

There is more detail to the definition, but here part (a) defines evidence in a very weak manner. An “indication” it says. Rigid and confirmed facts are not necessary to give an indication. Weak hearsay can give an “indication”.

So, evidence can be extremely weak, deliver no proof or even persuasive information and still be evidence.

Granted. And yet we still don't even have anything that would qualify as weak evidence in this case.


Forget Christianity. Here you grant that evidence can be extremely weak, deliver no proof or even persuasive information. How is this concordant with your outlined definition of evidence? You seem to have agreed with several types and descriptions of evidence in your responses here, none of which would always be concordant with the extremely strong outline of what you consider evidence to be. Sometimes they might be, but I would submit that they certainly wouldn’t always. Again I will paste your definition.
“Evidence is an alignment of facts consistent with only one available indication over any other.”

How is this definition harmonious with the idea that an outward sign can be evidence? An indication may not come from a fact, or something that is based in fact. In science such a standard of evidence might be obtainable, because you can repeat experiments, but in practicality, in life, in law, in history, sometimes evidence might not be factual at all, as much as we’d like it to be. An indication is a very loose and broad idea that is not constrained to being entirely factual.


Sometimes very imperfect information lacking in factual basis can be evidence of a person, thing or event.

Wrong. Only accurate information can meet the standard of evidence.


In science perhaps (but even then sometimes questionable evidence might be accepted - eg. the response of patients in medical trials is only as reliable as the subject’s testimony in some instances) and for your extremely strong definition. Not necessarily elsewhere. Consider the subject of History. With history we have many second hand accounts of events from non-eyewitnesses that may be imperfect, biased or down right false, but that’s all we have of the events that may or may not have happened. In history any such documents are considered to be evidence, despite their weakness at delivering indisputable epistemic data. Such texts are evidence, not proof and on some occasions can be tenuous at best, but they are evidence.

Here’s a slightly different situation. Five witnesses may have seen a mugging one dusk. The five of them may all give slightly different accounts. They may give different descriptions of the suspect, different accounts of the time of day or night, different accounts of the victim, different accounts of the exact location, and different accounts of the actual event. However, given some form of concordance between five mismatched and faulty stories, some form of evidence can be discerned. Perhaps the man’s jacket can be identified, or perhaps the man’s trousers can be judged to be more likely blue than black. Overall, the implication is that some sort of crime happened and despite the stories being lousy, we have an indication that something happened that evening. Such a thing as an indication would fit the first part of the Merriam Dictionary Definition. This kind of imperfect testimony could amount to legal evidence against a criminal. It might lead to no conviction, but it might very well provide evidence. Combined with other evidence it might provide conviction.


Before the matter of evidence for Christianity is considered, the question regarding your definition of evidence must be asked. I would certainly agree that anything matching your definition would be evidence, however I would disagree with it as being the primary and only definition of evidence. Evidence primarily defined covers a far wider spectrum than that potentially available in your definition. Indeed many things that would be considered legal evidence might not fit the rigidity and strength of your definition. I think that your definition of evidence is a little subjective and is extremely strong. It would exclude many weaker examples of evidence and would include only things that virtually deliver or do actually deliver proof. You are asking for evidence and discounting many things that actually are evidence, because they don’t match your very high standard. You are allowed to have a high standard, but when objective examples of weak evidence are found, it is your subjective opinion that discounts them as evidence, rather than their identification as evidence being inaccurate, given dictionary or encyclopaedic definitions. Is any of this post fair?

No. First of all, my definition is being misrepresented. I never said that evidence had to 'prove' anything, only that the facts couldn't be considered evidence until they ally with only one of the available scenarios.



I have not misrepresented your definition of evidence. I quoted it at least twice, to make certain that I was working from the correct words. In the above section, I state that your definition is so strong as to virtually deliver proof ‘or’ actually deliver proof, I didn’t limit it only to the latter. However, there is inconsistency here too. When giving your example of the Grassy Knoll earlier, you did mention proof. You mentioned proof/knowledge earlier in the thread, when I mentioned the apostle Paul. The existence of the Grassy Knoll doesn’t prove the shooter, so why did you mention it? If evidence is not proof, then you needn’t mention proof at all, as we are simply discussing evidence. I have cut the last words, because they were about Christianity and this post has just been about evidence.



My position here is reasonably clear. All the things that you consider evidence, I also consider to be evidence. In fact your definition of evidence is extremely strong and therefore, most things that match it would be very good evidence. The problem here is that evidence covers a wider scope than that which is covered by your definition. It seems that you happily agree with various other forms of evidence, even when they could be problematic in relation to your definition. So then, I would argue that evidence as you have defined it in these threads, is incomplete and rather too strong. Circumstantial evidence, testimony and hearsay can all be found to be incompatible with your definition as can much historical evidence, yet still fit encyclopaedic definitions. Evidence that is simply an indication seems to be at odds with your requirement for facts, though facts would provide the best kind of evidence. Evidence broadly construed is very weak. It’s how we qualify it that gives it its value. At very bottom evidence can mean very little, or simply be a word. Evidence is a controversial subject matter, but I think that you are excluding some forms of evidence, by the nature of your definition.
Last edited by Engelbert on Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:03 pm
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

To relate some of these comments to the subject at hand, I have managed to get another bit of information from a peer in the field.


You seem to have dismissed the views of my previously mentioned philosophy professor for the time being. I do not believe him to be a Christian, but let's assume for the sake of argument that he is. I give his comments credibility regardless.

Yesterday I managed to wangle the comments of a couple more philosophy professors to contribute to the discussion. Here is a quick comment from a doctor of philosophy from a top British University, who I know very certainly to not be a Christian, or a theist.

just depends what is meant by "evidence" surely? there is testimony which is evidence (would count as such in court of law) but in this case poor evidence, i think. but perhaps your interlocutor means what i would call good evidence? in which case this is a trivial semantic dispute


This was sent from his iphone so it is short and sweet, but comments directly on this discussion. His view is that the matter is semantic and trivial.

However, he too appears to say that there is some evidence for Christianity; testimony - rather than none whatsoever. I'm sure he would expand further on these comments if he had time, but I think I was lucky to receive a reply from this guy. He's a prominent philosopher and definitely not a Christian.
Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:18 pm
HogTieChampPosts: 2Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:54 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

I'd like to chime in on this issue of whether or not there is evidence for Christianity. In advance summary, I can say that I agree with the statement that there is no evidence for the truth claims central to the Christian faith.

I acknowledge, as I hope we all would, that we are quite wrapped up in what is meant by the phrase 'evidence for' one position or another. I believe we agree on what is meant by 'evidence,' at least in the broadest strokes of the term, though there remains disagreement on what is meant by stating that there is (or is not) evidence for a particular position.

I can agree with Englebert to only this extent: there does exist evidence (ie, facts) consistent with Christian claims. However, this leaves some distance before we get to "evidence for" or "evidence supporting" any of the central Christian beliefs.

As several people have already pointed out, there is some maneuvering room among the different possible definitions of 'evidence' and 'evidence for,' but this is the case with pretty much every English word, phrase, or idiom. The key in evaluating AronRa's claim (that there is no evidence for Christianity) is to evaluate what AronRa meant by the terms therein. You, as the reader of AronRa's claims, can suggest a variety of interpretations for any or all of the terms, but so what? It is a trivial task to re-ascribe meaning of the words and terms within any claim made by any person -- doing so gets us no closer to evaluating the truth of the person's claim.

I must admit that I find the expression "no evidence for Christianity" to be a bit clunky, as is the case with most of our conversational shorthand. It is an example of what I call a "you-know-what-I-mean-ism," much like when a person says, "Nobody drives drunk anymore!" when the person really intends to express "Not everyone drives drunk, though I acknowledge that some people still do so."

Quite obviously, there is "evidence for Christianity," in the sense that there are very good indications that Christianity actually exists (whether or not the underlying truth claims are justified). It is almost silly to discuss whether this is what AronRa meant, because nobody claims that Christianity does not exist. Let's try to avoid picking apart this informal phrasing, but instead cut to the meaning intended.

In reading the previous thread (the one that spurred the now-8-month Jason Burns video binge madness and the academic paper / lecture / Ph.D. / book / Broadway musical production / ...), you will see that AronRa provided adequate clarifying commentary on what he meant by the words he chose. In particular, he claims that there is no "evidence for" Christianity -- that there isn't a single verifiable fact that hoists the Christians' claims above alternate claims made by others.

And this, I suggest, is the heart of it: When we evaluate the plausibility of a claim or the usefulness or a theory, we do so in the context of, and in contrast with, other claims and theories.

More formally, we don't speak of "evidence for" or "evidence against" any theory; rather, we speak of "evidence consistent with" and "evidence inconsistent with" theories or claims.

Our favourite go-to analogy is that of a murder trial... Let's suppose Mr. Black is dead, found fatally shot, and now Mr. Denny on trial accused of the homicide.

The prosecution will lay out a theory-of-events for the jury's appraisal. Namely, Mr. Denny had borrowed money from Mr. Black but was unable to repay the money. Denny sent a text message to Black promising the money if they met at a specific location. Black was soon found dead at the location.

Mr. Denny's lawyer may lay out a different theory-of-events: one that does not lead to the conclusion that Denny should be found guilty of a crime. This alternate theory might be that Black was despondent and distressed enough to kill himself. Perhaps the theory is that Denny had another enemy: one who killed Black after sending a forged text message in an attempt to frame Denny.

So what evidence is of interest in evaluating the claims of the prosecutor and the defendant?

Let's say, for example, that the medical examiner testified -- and was believed by the jury -- that Black had eaten eggs and bacon at supper time. How does this information sway the jury? Is this "evidence for" the prosecution theory or "evidence for" the defence theory?

More the point, suppose the medical examiner noted that there was no stippling observed at the entry wound, and further noted that stippling is almost always observed when a shooting occurs at very close range, such as in cases of gunshot suicide.

The lack of stippling is "evidence inconsistent with" any theory involving close-range shooting, such as any claim that Mr. Black shot himself. The lack of stippling serves as "evidence consistent with" the Denny-shot-Black theory and also serves as evidence consistent with the Mystery-Enemy-shot-Black-to-frame-Denny theory. The lack of stippling guides us to find the suicide theory less plausible, but does not assist us in determining whether Denny is a murderer or Denny had been framed for murder.

Leaving this well-worn analogy behind, let's state explicitly the theories (and I use this term loosely) related to the import of the Bible. First, we all agree that the Bible exists -- the question is "How did it get here?"

The Christian theory (in broad strokes) is that a set of authors were each inspired by supernatural means to record parts of a message from a creator god. Of particular import, this message includes news of the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, though whom Salvation is available to us all.

Alternatively, many of us hold the theory (in broad strokes) that the Old Testament and New Testament, taken together, form yet-another-example of ancient documentary efforts. That is, many cultures recorded the stories of their day. Many cultures referred to the stories received from their predecessors and from other cultures -- they re-interpreted, repackaged, and repurposed these hand-me-down and hand-me-over fables, and recorded those altered versions, too. As a result, the Holy Bible is one example of a human endeavor for which we have numerous comparable examples.

The Muslims have a theory that Jesus was one of several prophets, but Mohammed was the one truly in touch with the creator god. The Mormons have a theory that Jesus ministered in the Americas... you know... where Adam and Eve came from. And so on, and so on, and so on...

So is there "evidence for " Christianity? Nope -- not that I've seen. Sure, the Bible tells us that Jesus turned water into wine, and it turns out the people do drink both water and wine! We recently learned from Jason Burns that (ahem) "Archeology discovered" some bottles that might have been used to hold water. I suppose that could be considered "evidence consistent with" the Bible story... But does this give Christianity a "plausibility leg-up" over any other claim?? Clearly not.

Ditto for all of the other "truths found in the Bible."

There are many verifiable facts that can be seen as "consistent with" one particular interpretation of some part of the Bible or other. However, none of these facts serve as evidence that uniquely supports the essential truth-claims central to Christianity.

Dear Christians: Show me one verifiable fact that is actually relevant to your claims (that I'll burn in hell, that Heaven awaits, that supporting same-sex rights is a transgression, that Jesus needs my prayer to stop natural disasters, etc), and then I'll re-think this whole issue. Until then, stop with the mundane nonsense about these trivial things that the Bible happened to get right amidst the frothing sea of contradictions with itself and with the observable world.

In conclusion... Jesus... Nicodemus... A fascinating chit-chat! Look it up, Christians!

--HTC
Sat Nov 02, 2013 11:20 pm
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

HogTieChamp wrote:I acknowledge, as I hope we all would, that we are quite wrapped up in what is meant by the phrase 'evidence for' one position or another. I believe we agree on what is meant by 'evidence,' at least in the broadest strokes of the term, though there remains disagreement on what is meant by stating that there is (or is not) evidence for a particular position.

I can agree with Englebert to only this extent: there does exist evidence (ie, facts) consistent with Christian claims. However, this leaves some distance before we get to "evidence for" or "evidence supporting" any of the central Christian beliefs.

As several people have already pointed out, there is some maneuvering room among the different possible definitions of 'evidence' and 'evidence for,' but this is the case with pretty much every English word, phrase, or idiom. The key in evaluating AronRa's claim (that there is no evidence for Christianity) is to evaluate what AronRa meant by the terms therein. You, as the reader of AronRa's claims, can suggest a variety of interpretations for any or all of the terms, but so what? It is a trivial task to re-ascribe meaning of the words and terms within any claim made by any person -- doing so gets us no closer to evaluating the truth of the person's claim.



Hello HTC. Fair play. An interesting and well argued post I think. However, just to pick up on a point you make towards the beginning, as referenced above, you suggest that we all agree on the broadest definition of the word evidence. I don't think that this is true actually. This has been the very reason for the problem. I think that we can all agree on what is extremely good evidence, but when it begins to move away from there it becomes more confusing, controversial and clearly has become the matter of dispute.

In philosophy my experience has always been to accredit information such as historical texts or scriptures as being evidence, to evaluate their credibility and then to assign them an appropriate strength or description. Thus it is not the word evidence that carries the significant weight necessarily, but the description of it. To say that there is no evidence for Christianity, seems like a technical inaccuracy. I would probably be more receptive to your statements -since good evidence for the Christian Dogma's is entirely lacking imo and I have stated so previously- if this technicality went recognised and acknowledged when I raised it. It was not recognised and not acknowledged. The discussion snowballed from there and since I was called obtuse several times, an apologist and various other things, it became meaningful to demonstrate that this philosophical technicality was valid. The statement, "There is no evidence for Christianity whatsoever" was repeated and has been a core aspect of these threads, so engaging with this statement seems entirely reasonable.

If you want to divulge good information, should technicalities and academic conventions, or alternatives also be recognised, or should they be dismissed as inconvenient? I would ask you how you would feel about a loose casual approach to a serious piece of scientific research being discussed. eg.... Evolution is totally random - you-know-what-I-mean ... perhaps you might know what I mean, but if you wanted to come back and say well technically there is a big aspect that is not random, ie. natural selection, you would be just to do so. I would be wrong to not concede this and stick with my you-know-what-I-mean response.

Such a point might be trivial (perhaps not) and easily forgotten once or twice, but let's suppose that it was the title of the discussion and was being asserted repeatedly. Let's suppose that I was extremely hostile to your technical clarification. Would you feel more or less inclined to argue your point?

There is a clear difference in our definition of evidence as is illustrated by the question of the historical Christ. For an ordinary human Christ (minus divinity), I think a very good case can be made. There is good reason to believe he existed and I would be in the mainstream camp that believes in a historical Christ. I accept that there is an alternate view on the existence of Jesus, but there is certainly some evidence for a historical Christ. Aronra has disputed the existence of evidence for the historical Christ several times, saying that it does not exist. This to me is incorrect and is a fundamental disagreement over the nature of evidence, whether there was or wasn't a historical Jesus.

Now, I could be wrong about my arguments regarding evidence, but it seems that university professors in the field do offer some agreement.

Cheers HTC. I appreciate your points and don't entirely disagree.
Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:09 am
EngelbertPosts: 290Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:03 am Gender: Male

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

Hello.

I was wondering what thoughts were pertaining to this thread: I suppose edging towards some form of conclusion (or perhaps not) given that a debate was started. There seem to be at least two issues on the table, although probably more. Jason’s paper is one of these, whilst another is the long held contention that there is no evidence for Christianity. My comments here have not really centered around Jason’s paper, but rather on the central contention. I will let Jason make his own case, but I would like to ask if the statement about evidence still appears valid given the course of events in these threads.

I’ve assembled a few more thoughts/references that pertain to the issue of the veracity of the premise, “There is no evidence for Christianity” to add to the professors of philosophy and encyclopedia excerpts used so far. I may paste these references now, or after comments, if any are made. To be clear, my arguments here are not in an effort to establish the evidence as reliable, since I feel that it is problematic in many places, so those arguments are for other people to make. Mine are simply to establish that it is evidence, however strong or weak. This is a valid terminological and philosophical issue, rather than an attempt to establish the reliability of the evidence. In fact the validity of the evidence might even be irrelevant in evaluating the premise in question.

It seems to me that a statement was made repeatedly during the course of these threads, vehemently defended when I contested its veracity.

You could have simply admitted that you didn't have any evidence of Christianity at the onset, and saved us a lot of time.

You provided no evidence supporting Christianity in any sense by any definition.

I didn't ask for an overwhelming preponderance of evidence; I said there was none at all -and that's how much you showed.



The challenge was given, requiring Jason to provide evidence for Christianity. This challenge was made in a variety of ways, sometimes asking for just a shred of evidence and other times asking for evidence which establishes some firmer truth to Christianity, or that establishes knowledge or proof in some sense. The former is demonstrable, the latter is a matter of controversy for Jason and others to debate.
Is the phrase, “There is no evidence for Christianity” technically correct at base? There may be senses in which it can be verified. Perhaps there is no empirical evidence for the Christian dogmas. Perhaps there is no proof for Christian theology. Perhaps there is no ‘good’ evidence for Christianity. Perhaps it is a valid statement as an equivocation. But as an outright truth, is it valid? So often it has been stated that there is no evidence for Christianity whatsoever, in any sense. It has also been stated that there is no evidence for a historical Christ or historical evidence for any part of the Christian narrative (these historical points I would suggest are certainly false). Overall, I would continue to argue that the central statement is technically inaccurate, due to the simple fact that the scripture is evidence. It’s a very simple clarification. It doesn’t affect the beliefs that any atheist holds with regards to the validity of Christianity and it shouldn’t either, but it does contradict the central premise of these threads. The evidence may or may not be good enough, but it does exist.

Jason can provide some evidence for Christianity, because there is some now, there was some 100 years ago and provided that every single existing Bible isn’t obliterated, there will still be some evidence in 100 years time.
So I was wondering what thoughts, if any, there might be. Is a conclusion of sorts being edged towards on any of the issues? My claim is no more than that the central premise is technically inaccurate. I am not trying to say that there is sufficient or empirical or good evidence for Christian theology. I was heavily criticised and even derided at times for my technical clarification as well as being told that I was utterly wrong, yet, as far as I can see, it is a valid clarification.
Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:28 am
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 5009Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Jason Burns' world class proper academic paper is here!

It seems to me that Engelbert's position is correct.
I think that we all, at least as far as this type of discussion is concerned, have the feeling or knowledge that were one to give some ground (there is no compelling evidence for Christianity instead of there is no evidence for Christianity), it would be some sort of defeat.
As he points out, the evidence is a risibly unconvincing sliver, but a sliver nonetheless.

Sent from my Commodore 64
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Thu Dec 26, 2013 1:41 pm
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