"A cruel debate opponent" "Pagan blasphemer" "Reverse-iconoclast" "don't get pissed at him b/c he pwn yalls whiney asses"
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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

Chris of Rights and Charles Martin <-- Lists of debunked Sarah Palin rumors

"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Saturday, July 08, 2006

If you have to say it so often...

It just might not be true. Have you ever had someone constantly and enthusiastically tell you how smart or honest they are? It isn't uncommon that such constant self-promotion tends to belie a condition rather opposite from what is being so forcefully claimed and actions eventually contradict the self description. Actions speak louder than words after all. A contemporary example would be an internet group calling themselves the "Rational" Response Squad (RRS), and yes, those quotes are intentional and I mean them to be dismissive for good reason, as the reader will soon see.

They've been foolish before with their so called "war" on Easter. As I recall it, they distributed 666 DVDs of a movie titled "The God Who Wasn't There", with the intent of having people place the DVDs in churches so unsuspecting Christians would find them. You can read reviews here and here. For even more fun see this series which engages the war and has some fun with it.

The latest idiocy to issue forth from this often self-proclaimed "rational" goonie squad of atheists consisted of a challenge with several prizes to be awarded.

We are offering a $100 reward and an appearance on our radio show where we will admit we we're wrong to the person who can set a precedent that other important historical figures exist without contemporary evidence. Provide us with the names of five important historical figures that were not written about until at least 25 years after they died (like Jesus).

Their contest also included a first prize of $666 to anyone that could prove to them Jesus existed. They tend to pimp their site in a Christian group on Myspace and this was my response to all the rules they listed for their little challenge:

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" is nothing but a moving goal post, ill-defined, begging the question and non-objectively applied criteria.

The rules set for this would require that most ancient knowledge of that era be considered invalid.

Hardly surprising that the twits of RRS would be so non-objective with their standards. That they don't see the negative implications for even secular history, only emphasizes their lack of rationality and willfully uninformed condition.

Furthermore, the time from Christ to the NT writings is better than much of ancient history and easily fall within the time frame that disallows legendary embellishment, as established from secular historical data. Paul wrote within 20 years while some were still alive that had seen Jesus after his resurrection, to previously established churches, imploring them to remember what they had already received. He also includes a Christian statement of faith that most date within 3-8 years of the crucifixion.

People need to also remember the strong tradition of oral transmission of data within that culture and that we have examples of students who wrote down the teachings of their rabbis. As such, the NT writings did not just spring forth completely absent from an historical process, but rather, from one with established and proven controls to preserve information and with direct connection to the life and ministry of Christ.

The online apologetics site Christian Cadre, also had some things to say and the closing comments regarding one individual's experience with the "rational" kiddies squad is quite instructive.

Foolishness from the "Rational Responders" in their Jesus Challenge

[...] The “Rational Responders” moderator admitted that they had already lost the contest because they had received more than five figures whose existence was accepted but for whom there was not what they call “contemporary evidence.” Even more submissions were coming in and it is apparent that they were operating out of gross ignorance of the realities of historical studies. The fact is that often our best sources of information about ancient figures and events are ones that were written down after the life of the person described or the events noted therein.

The moderator tried to defend the ignorance of the "Rational Responders" contest by saying they had argued on some discussion boards and no one ever gave them an example before. I think that admission is very revealing. Too many skeptics are so full of themselves or their skepticism that they think that if no one has brought it to their attention then it must not exist. As if the world owes them an obligation to spoon feed them every little factoid that stands in the way of their comfortable skepticism. But participation in select discussion boards is no substitute for actual research and historical knowledge. Anyone with the most basic of knowledge about historical Jesus studies, for example, knows that there are no “contemporary” writings about John the Baptist, but that his existence is undisputed among historians. Yet such examples never occurred to them.

To top it off, the “Rational Responders” apparently thought better of admitting that the entire premise of their challenge to the existence of Jesus had been proven erroneous within hours of announcing their contest. When I checked back later this evening they had deleted our entire discussion. Which, in my book, adds cowardice to ignorance in their vice column.

Despite the limp noodle flop of the their contest and that even some intelligent atheists and skeptics have dismissed them as fundie atheists, I'm willing to bet nothing will change. They'll continue to often claim superior rationality compared to those who believe Christ actually existed and especially against those of us who believe He's the Son of God.

Continuous repetition of a claim, when actions provide contrary evidence, is not much of a sign of rationality, no matter how many "kewl" banner adds try to declare otherwise. Of course it takes courage to admit defeat and error but I'll suggest a small step until they can work up the backbone required. It would only require adding a few letters to their little self-proclamation.



Filed under: Apologetics -- Christianity -- Religion

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