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A defense of ECREE

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Outis View Post
    At the time Constantine rolled around, you still had Marcionism, Montanism, and the Valentian-style Gnosticism. These were numerically sufficient to be actual competition, not simply "fringe" movements with few adherents. Indeed, the Marcionist churches survived into the 5th century, even in the face of competition from the "approved" version.

    Additionally, even within what would later become "orthodox" Christianity, you had a great deal of theological foment and variance.



    Which is a splendid way of dismissing arguments that you disagree with, without having to address the evidence for those arguments.

    For those who actually want to examine the evidence, I strongly recommend Eamon Duffy's _Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes_ and Bart Ehrman's _The New Testament: A Historical Introduction_. Ehrman has some able critics, so for a more complete picture, I also recommend Larry W. Hurtado's _Lord Jesus Christ_.
    Ehrman's Lost Christianities is also a great introduction to the differing beliefs of the early church.

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
      I'm not sure what you mean by a proposition accounting for alternate explanations.

      Here's how I approach it: You have facts, and you have explanations. Facts in and of themselves don't tell us anything and must be explained, and the best explanation is the one that accounts for all the facts. This is why ECREE is worthless, because it theorizes before gathering all the facts. As the great detective once said, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."
      We don't have facts, we have phenomena which we seek to explain. I disagree that the best explanation is the one that accounts for all the phenomena. Such a position assumes that only one explanation accounts for all of them. It's entirely possible to have multiple explanations succeed equally well. Then what? There are several options. We can hold all such explanations as insufficient, refusing to speculate on which is the most accurate. We can attempt to show how some explanations do not truly account for the phenomena as claimed. We can show how a given phenomenon is not what it at first seemed thereby rendering the explanation irrelevant. None of these are mutually exclusive, either.

      I'm suggesting yet another option. We can look at existing explanations for other phenomena and see if they would account for the specific event(s) that is under review. We could even use those existing explanations to show how a given proposition appears valid while actually being subsumed under existing explanations. We do this in areas like neurology and philosophy of mind where we must not only explain what we see but show how other claims are either invalid or essentially the same thing. 'Sufficient', then, is something that performs this goal. It accounts for both all known, relevant phenomena and, where necessary, shows why other claims are invalid or the same thing.

      Gravity as an explanation works wonderfully well. Even throwing a ball directly down will show its effects, as the impact velocity will be higher. Prayer as an explanation doesn't work terribly well. It fits within a larger theistic paradigm, but in practice it plays out in a way that's nearly identical to pure chance. Demons as an explanation for insanity work. So does mental instability. The difference is that mental instability accounts for a much broader scope of phenomena while maintaining a strong degree of internal consistency.

      You're also wrong that ECREE theorizes before having the facts. It's little more than a statement of personal incredulity. Calling anything 'extraordinary' says little more than that it's beyond what you consider 'normal'. It's worth is misunderstood, however. The more observant apologists could use such a statement as a major hint that they will need to more substantially backup their claims than might be necessary with another individual. I would think such an apologist would be grateful for such statements as they give him a considerable advantage. ECREE in and of itself proves nothing, nor is it so intended. I think that's an aspect that theist and non-theist alike tend to overlook.
      I'm not here anymore.

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by whag View Post
        Ehrman's Lost Christianities is also a great introduction to the differing beliefs of the early church.
        Indeed. Ehrman does have his problematic views, including the fact that he's harsher towards orthodox Christianity than it probably deserves.

        Comment


        • #64
          Originally posted by Outis View Post
          Indeed. Ehrman does have his problematic views, including the fact that he's harsher towards orthodox Christianity than it probably deserves.
          This seems to happen sometimes, perhaps especially with former fundamentalists.
          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by robrecht View Post
            This seems to happen sometimes, perhaps especially with former fundamentalists.
            Quite. Ehrman can be useful, but must be taken with a grain of salt, due to that hostility.

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by Outis View Post
              Which is a splendid way of dismissing arguments that you disagree with, without having to address the evidence for those arguments.
              What arguments? I just see people banging on about "30,000 denominations. LOL!" when I'd be much more impressed if a skeptic could explain the major doctrinal differences -- if any -- between those denominations and argue for the historical and theological merits of each position. If he could show that mutually exclusive doctrines have equal validity in scripture then we'd have a real debate on our hands.



              (But, of course, that's outside the scope of this thread.)
              Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
              But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
              Than a fool in the eyes of God


              From "Fools Gold" by Petra

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                What arguments? I just see people banging on about "30,000 denominations.
                Excuse me, but you've moved the goalposts. The arguments I am referring to are the arguments of a diversity of doctrinal and group adherence in the pre-Nicean church. I do not have any claim regarding the number of modern denominations, nor stake in that argument.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by Outis View Post
                  Quite. Ehrman can be useful, but must be taken with a grain of salt, due to that hostility.
                  I don't think of him as especially 'harsh', but too simplistic, at least in his popular works, but, of course, that's why he's popular because he writes well for a general audience. So it's unfair of me to critique him for this really. Part of the problem is the degree of specialization within NT studies. He's a leader in his specialty of textual criticism, and while he's pretty good at exegesis, his interest and secondary specialty in historical Jesus research is somewhat shallow and overly dependent upon a somewhat outdated approach to source criticism. The whole cottage industry of contemporary Leben Jesu Forschung is largely prone to these weaknesses so this is more of a general methodological critique of the field than a specific criticism of Ehrman individually. But that's what the people want.
                  Last edited by robrecht; 02-26-2014, 11:42 AM.
                  βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
                  ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                  אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                    We don't have facts, we have phenomena which we seek to explain. I disagree that the best explanation is the one that accounts for all the phenomena. Such a position assumes that only one explanation accounts for all of them. It's entirely possible to have multiple explanations succeed equally well. Then what? There are several options. We can hold all such explanations as insufficient, refusing to speculate on which is the most accurate. We can attempt to show how some explanations do not truly account for the phenomena as claimed. We can show how a given phenomenon is not what it at first seemed thereby rendering the explanation irrelevant. None of these are mutually exclusive, either.

                    I'm suggesting yet another option. We can look at existing explanations for other phenomena and see if they would account for the specific event(s) that is under review. We could even use those existing explanations to show how a given proposition appears valid while actually being subsumed under existing explanations. We do this in areas like neurology and philosophy of mind where we must not only explain what we see but show how other claims are either invalid or essentially the same thing. 'Sufficient', then, is something that performs this goal. It accounts for both all known, relevant phenomena and, where necessary, shows why other claims are invalid or the same thing.

                    Gravity as an explanation works wonderfully well. Even throwing a ball directly down will show its effects, as the impact velocity will be higher. Prayer as an explanation doesn't work terribly well. It fits within a larger theistic paradigm, but in practice it plays out in a way that's nearly identical to pure chance. Demons as an explanation for insanity work. So does mental instability. The difference is that mental instability accounts for a much broader scope of phenomena while maintaining a strong degree of internal consistency.

                    You're also wrong that ECREE theorizes before having the facts. It's little more than a statement of personal incredulity. Calling anything 'extraordinary' says little more than that it's beyond what you consider 'normal'. It's worth is misunderstood, however. The more observant apologists could use such a statement as a major hint that they will need to more substantially backup their claims than might be necessary with another individual. I would think such an apologist would be grateful for such statements as they give him a considerable advantage. ECREE in and of itself proves nothing, nor is it so intended. I think that's an aspect that theist and non-theist alike tend to overlook.
                    I don't quite understand your distinction between "facts" and "phenomenon".

                    Secondly, if a given explanation accounts for all the evidence, why would it not be the best explanation? An explanation that ignores facts or depends on facts that don't actually exist hardly seems viable. If multiple mutually exclusive explanations succeed equally well at accounting for the facts then you need more facts and/or a test to rule out all but one explanation.

                    And, yes, ECREE does put theories before facts. At the heart of ECREE is the premise, or theory if you will, that all other things being equal, an "extraordinary" claim is less likely to be true. To again quote the famous Sherlock Holmes, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment." When a skeptic invokes ECREE, what they're really saying is that there's no amount of evidence that will convince them that the claim is true. You say that ECREE is "a major hint that [the Christian] will need to more substantially backup their claims than might be necessary with another individual." I disagree. I think it's a major hint that further dialog is a waste of time because your opponent is obviously being unreasonable. A skeptic who used to be a regular member of tWeb and a hardcore proponent of ECREE once conceded that the resurrection of Jesus is supported by a preponderance of historical evidence, but since none of the evidence was "extraordinary" (according to whatever arbitrary standard he was using), he was therefore justified in rejecting the claim. Seriously, how do you reason with somebody like that?

                    The biggest problem, however, is that labeling something "extraordinary" isn't even an objection.

                    Christian: "Jesus rose from the dead."
                    Skeptic: "But that's extraordinary!"
                    "Christian: "It sure is."

                    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                    Than a fool in the eyes of God


                    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Mountain Man
                      Christian: "Jesus rose from the dead."
                      Skeptic: "But that's AN extraordinary CLAIM!"
                      "Christian: "It sure is."
                      Fixed it for you.
                      Last edited by whag; 02-26-2014, 12:16 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by whag View Post
                        Fixed it for you.
                        It still doesn't impact his argument even in the slightest.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                          It still doesn't impact his argument even in the slightest.
                          he made the strawman argument that the objection is solely based on the event being extraordinary rather than a lack of evidence for said claim.

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                            It still doesn't impact his argument even in the slightest.
                            It doesn't affect the objections to ECREE, but it does directly impact Mountain Man's argument in one key area. ECREE is a form of special pleading: those who argue using it categorize claims into "ordinary" and "extraordinary," and state that extraordinary claims require a different standard of evidence.

                            By omitting "claim" from his synopsis, however, Mountain Man is making a strawman of ECREE and defeating the strawman. (nb: Mountain Man's actions may not be deliberate, in which case he is simply making an error, but my analysis is still accurate as to the results of the error.)

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              I don't quite understand your distinction between "facts" and "phenomenon".
                              I distinguish phenomenon from fact due in part to the nature of such discussions. In general, someone presents an event for review. The actual facts are unknown. All you have is that person's recollection. The memory could be flawed, the initial perception of events could be flawed, or the retelling of the event could fail to convey the entire picture of what happened. Hence, claiming something as fact is premature and might even beg the question. This is especially evident in situations where something appears to be one way but is actually another. Consider the optical illusion using two line segments of equal length with one of the segments slanted. They appear to be different lengths (at least to the average American), but they are in fact the same length. Similarly, "my prayer was answered" would be claimed as fact by some, but others consider it to be an illusion resulting from serendipity. The actual facts need to be unpacked from the description of the event. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              Secondly, if a given explanation accounts for all the evidence, why would it not be the best explanation? An explanation that ignores facts or depends on facts that don't actually exist hardly seems viable. If multiple mutually exclusive explanations succeed equally well at accounting for the facts then you need more facts and/or a test to rule out all but one explanation.
                              'Best' entails doing something that the others cannot, which is not granted merely by accounting for the evidence. You already recognize this and state as much in the last line of this quote. The very possibility that multiple mutually exclusive explanations can 'succeed equally well' shows that accounting for all of the evidence is insufficient. Simply accounting for the evidence is not enough. One must also show why other explanations fail.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              And, yes, ECREE does put theories before facts. At the heart of ECREE is the premise, or theory if you will, that all other things being equal, an "extraordinary" claim is less likely to be true.
                              It doesn't have the power to declare 'less likely', no matter how it may be misused by any and all. There's a difference between 'likely to be true' and 'harder to believe'. It's a degree of credulity only. You can't determine the likelihood of its truth from such a visceral reaction.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              To again quote the famous Sherlock Holmes, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment."
                              Show me a person with unbiased judgment in all things, and I will show you a liar. Is it a mistake? Yes, albeit an unavoidable one. Cuts both ways.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              When a skeptic invokes ECREE, what they're really saying is that there's no amount of evidence that will convince them that the claim is true. You say that ECREE is "a major hint that [the Christian] will need to more substantially backup their claims than might be necessary with another individual." I disagree. I think it's a major hint that further dialog is a waste of time because your opponent is obviously being unreasonable.
                              It depends on the skeptic. Certainly, there are those that use it in such a way. Even so, it's a mistake to lump people into categories like this.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              A skeptic who used to be a regular member of tWeb and a hardcore proponent of ECREE once conceded that the resurrection of Jesus is supported by a preponderance of historical evidence, but since none of the evidence was "extraordinary" (according to whatever arbitrary standard he was using), he was therefore justified in rejecting the claim. Seriously, how do you reason with somebody like that?
                              I would cut past the specific discussion. Clearly, whatever reasoning is being presented is not the complete reason for rejecting it.


                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              The biggest problem, however, is that labeling something "extraordinary" isn't even an objection.

                              Christian: "Jesus rose from the dead."
                              Skeptic: "But that's extraordinary!"
                              "Christian: "It sure is."

                              Which was my point. It's not an objection, it's a statement of credulity. Taking it as otherwise is misuse, regardless of who is doing so.
                              I'm not here anymore.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Outis View Post
                                ECREE is a form of special pleading: those who argue using it categorize claims into "ordinary" and "extraordinary," and state that extraordinary claims require a different standard of evidence.
                                Right, which is why I originally suggested rewording it. As it stands, it's special pleading. I think the underlying concept regarding standards of evidence is salvageable.
                                I'm not here anymore.

                                Comment

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