perjantai 13. helmikuuta 2009

Greg Koukl's Failure -- How NOT to Argue Against the Pagan Copycat Thesis

I'm a big fan of Stand to Reason Ministries, and Greg Koukl (the president of STR) is the biggest reason why I feel that way. (In fact, I'm proud to have Greg's autograph on the book on Relativism that he co-authored with Frank Beckwith.) I strongly recommend both his website and (especially) his weekly podcast.

There are rare (and I emphasize, rare) occasions when I find myself disagreeing with Koukl when it comes to apologetics (rarely), theology (not too often) or bioethics (practically never). Disagreements on certain social and political issues might be a bit more freqent, but that's beside the point for now. This post is a brief critical commentary on one such issue of disagreement.

Greg's opening commentary on STR's radio broadcast on february 8th was a critique of the "pagan copycat thesis" as it is put forward in the movie Zeitgeist (and also in certain books by radical fringe scholars and scholar-wannabes). I agree with Greg's assessment that the copycat thesis is without rational merit, but I disagree with his way of arguing for this conclusion. He basically claims that even if we grant the alleged mythological parallels with the life of Jesus in all their fullness (which would mean that the outline of the basic life story of Jesus would be paralleled by many mythical figures throughout history, including pre-christian ones), this provides no evidence that the story of Jesus is mythological and non-historical. He quotes C. S. Lewis to the effect that one must show that a person's view is false before it is meaningful to ask why it is false. He then goes on to briefly review some of the facts concerning the evidence and scholarly conclusions in favour of the historical reliability of the New Testament documents.

Now, it seems to me that Greg misses an important point. We are dealing with a situation where we assess various hypotheses in light of the evidence. Part of that evidence is the existence of significant pagan mythological parallels (remember, this is granted only for the sake of an argument). If we have in our background knowledge an established pattern of stories written in a mythological genre of literature about godlike beings and the story of their virgin-births, miraculous lives, 12 followers, deaths, and resurrections, and we find the Gospels conforming to this pattern, then surely this counts as evidence for the hypothesis that the Gospels are similarly mythological in character. As far as I can see, this is a simple fact of how inductive and abductive reasoning concerning various competing hypotheses works. This fact is not negated by appealing to the admittedly compelling evidence for the historicity of the Gospels. In other words, the evidence for the Gospels' being mythological does not cease to be evidence simply because the evidence for their historicity is much stronger and thus outbalances it. Greg's original claim is thus mistaken. (I also think that I can show how the illustrations that he gave, namely, the case of Titanic and the "Michael Shermer argument" support my point of view when they're properly assessed.) What Greg should have argued for is the view that the evidence for the historicity of Gospels is so much stronger than the evidence for their mythological nature that the balance of probability is overwhelmingly in favour of the historicist view.

What I've written above takes for granted (for the sake of an argument) the assumption that Greg took for granted for the sake of an argument, namely, that there are clear and numerous pagan parallels to the Gospels. But in fact, this assumption is clearly false (and it's known to be false in contemporary mainstream scholarship). The pagan parallels are neither clear nor numerous (even though claims about such parallels -- often relying on old and unreliable authors who give no primary sources --- are numerous, at least on the internet). Even less numerous are such parallels in pre-christian mythology. And in any case, the obvious disanalogy with such parallels is the positive historical case that can be provided for the Gospels and other NT documents (the proximity of writing with the events, the presence of eyewitness influence, the indicators of historical genre in the Gospels, archaelological confirmation, etc). But this is a wholly different argument than the one that Greg was making. Greg's argument as it stands seems based on a confusion. Think of a simple analogy. My fingerprints on the murder weapon does constitute evidence for the hypothesis that I committed the murder, even if there is a wide array of additional and very compelling evidence against the hypothesis that I committed the murder.

When it comes to the radical revisinionist views of Christian origins, the evidence is clearly on our side, and the last thing that we need is a (otherwise competent) Christian apologist who presents poor arguments against these radical view. That would only give false impression of credibility to the pagan copycat/mythicist position that actually rests on very weak foundations.

perjantai 6. helmikuuta 2009

Mind Is More Fundamental Than Matter -- Arguing for Metaphysical Personalism

Here's a 7-part article series where I argue for the view that the most fundamental or foundational reality is personal and immaterial, rather than material and impersonal. If you're well-read on this area, you will probably observe a good amount of resemblance to Richard Swinburne's thought, as well as some elements that are similar to what Alvin Plantinga and J. P. Moreland have written on this subject. Still, I do think that my position probably has some few genuine distinctive features in comparison to these thinkers.

Link to the article series: Metaphysical Personalism – Why the Mind Comes First

(Article hosted at

tiistai 3. helmikuuta 2009

Putting Jesus in His Place (by Robert Bowman Jr. and Ed Komoszewski)

This is one among the many books that I'm currently reading. It's pretty easy to understand but yet not simplistic presentation of the many and varied ways in which the New Testament presents Jesus as God.

This book is especially useful as a resource if you're dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses (as I currently am), as they are willing allow the entirety of the NT data as accurate representation of who Jesus was, rather than arguing for legendary developments etc.

I'll probably write a fuller book review at some later time.

sunnuntai 1. helmikuuta 2009

Major Revision of the Content Structure & Some New Content Coming Soon

As there haven't been any new content added to this blog lately, I just thought to mention that the readers may expect two new things pretty soon.

First, I need to make some changes to the structure of the blog posts, as the current policy of duplicating large portions of content from my Bukisa articles seems to be something that Google doesn't appreciate (consequently, my blog is only listed in the "supplemental index"). Therefore, I will change those posts that are based on my Bukisa articles to be such that I'll only provide a summary and a link in my blog posts.

Secondly, I plan to post an article that argues for Metaphysical Personalism, which I define as the view that the most fundamental existing reality is a personal, immaterial mind, rather than impersonal matter.

lauantai 20. joulukuuta 2008

On Calvinism and the Wrath of God

This article deals with one particular argument that some Calvinists use as a rational justification for their position with regard to the issue of election and reprobation. I intend to show that the argument is flawed on several points. While this does not demonstrate that Calvinism is false, it does undermine one argument that is sometimes advanced in favor of Calvinism.

Calvinism and the Wrath of God -- Does God's Attribute of Wrath Imply Calvinism?

(Article hosted at

keskiviikko 17. joulukuuta 2008

Quick Note on Technical Difficulties

There seem to be some temporary technical difficulties that prevent the viewing of many of my articles from At least it SEEMS that way. I say this because a few of my friends have had no problem at all in viewing, which leads me to wonder if the problem is local with my computer only. In order to find this out, please leave a comment here if you can access the links on my articles below. (I mean, parts 2, 3 etc that are linked to Bukisa directory).

tiistai 16. joulukuuta 2008

The Metaphysics of the Incarnation -- Logically Coherent Model

In this article, I will try to solve one particular aspect of the problem of the coherence of the Christian doctrine of Incarnation. I think that the attitude that just refuses to analyze the issue rationally and simply declares it a mystery is way too common. While I don't disagree that the Incarnation is mysterious in a profound sense, it does not follow that one cannot make any rational sense of it. Here's my attempt. To do so. I'm relying on certain ideas that I got from reading Thomas V. Morris, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland and Richard Swinburne on the subject, but I don't think that any of those authors present the exact same model that I do. As I focus on a particular aspect of the problem, I will take Morris' thorough argumentation on certain foundational issues in his book The Logic of the God Incarnate as more or less a given (thus I only summarize him on that point). But my contribution is perhaps a bit more original in the way that I build on this foundation, as well as the way that I use visual illustrations. (Though actually, on my first reading of Morris' book Our Idea of God, I thought that Morris intended to present the exact same model.)

Here's a link to the article:

The Relation of Christ’s Divine Mind to His Humanity: A Logically Coherent Model of the Incarnation

(Article hosted at