Monday, July 6, 2015

Caught in the net


Some of the regular readers and commenters at this blog have started up a Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion discussion forum.  Check it out.

Philosopher Stephen Mumford brings his Arts Matters blog to an end with a post on why he is pro-science and anti-scientism.  Then he inaugurates his new blog at Philosophers Magazine with a post on a new and improved Cogito argument for the reality of causation.

Speaking of which: At Aeon, Mathias Frisch discusses the debate over causation and physics.


More Catholics defend capital punishment: Moral theologian Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P. is interviewed by Catholic News Agency; and Matthew Schmitz argues, at National Review, that the death penalty is just and merciful.


David Oderberg’s Philosophical Investigations paper “All for the Good” is now available online.  So is his American Philosophical Quarterly paper “Being and Goodness.”

And a new paper from Tuomas Tahko in Mind: “Natural Kind Essentialism Revisited.”

At Times Higher Education, Richard Smith argues that peer review is based on faith rather than evidence.

John Searle’s new book on perception is reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

They don’t make public intellectuals like they used to.  P. J. O’Rourke on William F. Buckley, Jr. and Norman Mailer.

At Thomistica.net, Steven A. Long on the Supreme Court and “same-sex marriage.”  Fr. James Schall on the same subject at Catholic World Report.  And Ryan Anderson asks “What next?” in a new book

At The New Criterion, Anthony Daniels reflects on To Kill a Mockingbird.

Is there a crisis at the edge of physics?  Physicists Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser opine at The New York Times.


Siris on Nigel Warburton’s list of the five greatest women philosophers.  (As you’ll see, Warburton is a moron.  But you knew that already.) 

Philosopher Mark Anderson on Moby Dick as philosophy

49 comments:

Scott said...

Thanks very much for posting the link to the new forum.

iwpoe said...

You're a good egg, Ed.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of forums, those of you who are on Facebook might be interested in joining the Thomism Discussion Group. The posts and comments there are of extremely high quality, and we have a large number of active users: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamAquinas/

Timocrates said...

Hello Dr. Feser,

As ever, thanks for another round-up.

I was wondering if you could comment on this brief "canon" I've drafted to try to help everyone as briefly and succinctly as possible start to grapple and understand Scholastic terms and notions:

---
Act & Potency, Form & Matter from PID & PNC.

PID: Everything is what it is.
PNC: Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.

Wood is potentially charcoal. But wood is not charcoal; for what it is to be wood is not what it is to be charcoal; otherwise, wood and charcoal would be the same thing.

But wood is potentially changed into charcoal. But wood is never actually charcoal.

Therefore, if wood is not charcoal, then what is potentially charcoal from wood?

Answer: the matter or material substratum of wood is what is potentially charcoal.
---

I am trying to draw up these 'canons' by directly linking them to the First Principles, inspired I must admit by your wonderful demonstration that the sophistic arguments employed to equivocate homosexuality with heterosexuality ultimately violate PNC and are, as a consequence, raw skepticism.

Paul said...

The question of Dawkins "destroying" his reputation implies that he has a far larger one than he really does. His reputation has changed from a good expositor of biological theory to that of an angry atheist crank. Ranting about the "evils of religion" for the better part of ten years will make people who once respected you walk away. In terms of philosophy, Dawkins' arguments are childish. His grasp of history is little better.

With regard to Coyne's book, Nick Peters took it apart over at his site (Deeper Waters).

Is it just me, or are some of the New Atheist screeds some of the best arguments for theism in existence?

Scott said...

Paul writes:

His reputation has changed from a good expositor of biological theory to that of an angry atheist crank.

Yep, that's about the size of it. And it's too bad, because he really is a good expositor (and defender) of evolutionary theory. Generally, his sheer delight in scientific understanding is both genuine and catching, and there's nothing ir- or anti-religious about it until he tears off on a tangent into irrelevancies and ill-argued rants. There's nothing in the science itself, or his delight therein, that couldn't have come from (say) a devout Jesuit describing the wonders of God's intelligible creation.

Crude said...

I think what's been hammering Dawkins' reputation has been his sociopolitical 'missteps'. I think he imagined himself Grand Poobah of the Intelletual Left, and that when he started to diss feminism and Islam, everyone would dance to his tune. Instead he just found out how quickly his reputation goes into the gutter with some people when he doesn't mouth the proper lines.

As near as I can tell, that's all it took for him to go from 'The most brilliant evolutionary biologist EVER' to 'A has-been who was never very accomplished, he's just a glorified pop-sci writer really, and also he sucks'.

Daniel said...


To with a link I've posted elsewhere the good Bill Vallicella provides an insightful blog entry on the distinction between Potency and Metaphysical Possibility:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2015/07/what-is-potentiality.html

@Paul,

Seemingly yes but there's also the old joke that they're the strongest evidential Problem of Evil.

Tom said...

As I griped on twitter, Warburton thinks Anscombe's views on sex are so ridiculous as to be disqualifying, but Churchland's argument that we literally have no emotions because we're not conscious is a-ok.

It's also a sad irony, since St. Edith Stein was mentioned once or twice, that of Husserl's two best students, philosophers primarily study the Nazi and not the one died in a concentration camp. I wonder how philosophers concerned with representing historically marginalized groups think of that particular dichotomy (and of course Edith Stein was a woman, which gives her further points).

In other news, an unnamed philospher responds to our host and author on David Hume.

Scott said...

Tom writes:

In other news, an unnamed philospher responds to our host and author on David Hume.

Some of the replies are pretty good.

Paul said...

@Crude

Describing Dawkins as a glorified popular science writer probably isn't that far off the mark. Early in his career, he did do some relevant scientific work, and actually wrote some rather well-respected papers. After the Selfish Gene, his contributions to science, in terms of new research, essentially ended. His Oxford Chair was for the "public understanding of science."

Krauss, although equally as philosophically inept (and dogmatic in his atheism) as Dawkins, has at least made a fairly significant contribution in his field of cosmology.

Crude said...

Paul,

I agree, though that didn't keep people from fawning over Dawkins' supposed brilliance, right until he started saying things he didn't like.

It's a bit like Sam Harris. He's the world-famous neurologist according to some of his fans, but ask them to point at his fantastic contributions to the field and watch what happens. Unless they dislike his views about gun control or Israel, at which point he's an absolute full-of-himself nobody.

Craig Payne said...

Oderberg's paper on "Being and Goodness" is good. It reminded me of someone you all ought to get to know, Scott MacDonald, who used to teach at the University of Iowa and then took the Norman Kretzmann Chair at Cornell. MacDonald edited a book with the same title, Being and Goodness, and has done a lot of Thomistic-related things, including collaborations with Eleonore Stump. I took his course on Philosophy of Religion at about the same time I was discovering Aquinas. In case you ever read this: Thank you, Professor MacDonald.

Craig Payne said...

Oops. Maybe it wasn't the Kretzmann "Chair"; maybe it was Kretzmann's position after he had passed away. Anyway, Scott is a good guy and solid philosopher.

Thursday said...

Dawkins work in biology is much more respected among biologists than Harris' work as a neurologist is respected among neurologists. Harris the scientist (or even the science writer) barely exists, while a gene centred view of evolution is almost taken for granted now. That said, even at his best, Dawkins was really just a popularizer of the ideas of Hamilton, Williams and Trivers, much better thinkers, if not writers.

Thursday said...

And it's too bad, because he really is a good expositor (and defender) of evolutionary theory.

Yes, he took the ponderous, math laden work of Hamilton, Williams, Trivers and put it into readable prose.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I fear Crude is largely right. I think New Atheism is not quite the darling it was in trendy quarters, but it is still broadly agreed with. Dawkins's fall in reputation seems to have had more to do with his offending politically correct, left-liberal orthodoxy (sometimes legitimately, sometimes not), which is getting ever more hardline and extreme, than with his general anti-religion comments.

Tom said...

@Scott: Wokeupabug definitely knows his stuff, and some of the other replies were on target. /r/askphilosophy usually has good material from grad students/professional philosophers, although they have their blindspots. /r/philosophy and /r/debatereligion are wastelands, though. Debatereligion is pretty much the denizens of askphilosophy (who are mostly atheists themselves) against garden variety New Atheists/reddit atheists, with depressing results. Occasionally an actual theist gets involved too, which is fun.

Paul said...

Crude,

Sam Harris' contribution to neuroscience is fairly minimal. I don't know in what world he's a "world acclaimed neuroscientist." However, Richard Carrier sees himself as some sort of "leading historian and acclaimed speaker," so don't underestimate the power of self-delusion!

Thursday,

I was under the impression that the gene-centered view had largely fallen into abeyance. I'm not a biologist, so I could be wrong.

Crude said...

Jeremy,

I actually think the Cult of Gnu has dropped heavily in popularity, but New Atheism differs from irreligion in general. What distinguished the New Atheists was that they were loudmouth jackasses, and eventually that schtick gets old, at least when the topic is the same. But Dawkins himself just a had a very particular path out of popularity.

Paul,

Sam Harris' contribution to neuroscience is fairly minimal. I don't know in what world he's a "world acclaimed neuroscientist."

I agree. But then in what world is Dawkins reasonably one of the smartest people alive?

Dawkins did do some science, but scientific experiments and research isn't his claim to fame. It was a pop sci book. Call it a well-written pop-sci book about a scientific topic, but it cashes out the same way in the end.

Craig Payne said...

"However, Richard Carrier sees himself as some sort of "leading historian and acclaimed speaker," so don't underestimate the power of self-delusion!"

I remember talking once with a young atheist who thought Carrier was the greatest thing since antisacramental bread; he told me Carrier had an argument which would blow my faith out the door. He then showed me one of Carrier's books in which Carrier made quite a huge deal out of "darkness over all the land" when Jesus died. Since an eclipse could not cover all the earth simultaneously, Carrier concluded, this would have to be false.

I told the young atheist that "land" or even "earth" in the Bible usually means only the known world; i.e., the Middle East, and that this was not referring necessarily to a global eclipse

He was stunned at this bit of news; on the other hand, I was even more stunned. I remember thinking, "This cannot really be the level of argument we are facing, can it?"

Timocrates said...

@ Craig,

Actually it can be much more restrictive than even that in certain contexts. "The land" or "the earth" could just be a reference the promised land and there is plenty of debate, if I recall, in Judaism about just what the extent of the promised land amounts to. Some would, if I recall, extend across much of the Middle East - others, however, would keep its primary reference to Palestine.

Paul said...

Craig,

That's basically how most of these pop-atheists view the Bible, with wooden literalism. For them, it's either all true or all false, and there's no such thing as differing genres of literature within the Bible, apocalyptic imagery, etc. When all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. See, for example, the oft-lampooned "zombie apocalypse" of Matthew 27. It's almost certainly apocalyptic imagery, but if you're a "New Atheist," it has to be literal.

Carrier is no exception to that, and his Jesus mythicism has made him even more of a self-serving crank. He has a peer-reviewed book. Great, now ignore the fact that said book has one academic review, and that only by a sympathetic reader.

Crude,

Dawkins is one of the smartest people alive in Gnu Atheist world, which is apparently something like Bizarro World or the world of 1984. He wrote two fairly good books about evolutionary theory. Earlier in his life, he made some good contributions to the field. He hasn't done research in at least 20 years, and he hasn't published anything particularly worth reading in about the same time frame.

Windfish said...

Too many subforums. Classic mistake by new forums. Whoever is in charge, trust me. Create only two subforums: On-Topic and Off-Topic. The creation of new subforums is a response to needs as the forum grows.

Windfish said...

Craig, @_@. How young was this young atheist?

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused about Mathias Frisch's post on the debate over causation and physics. Is he agreeing with Hume? I think I need to read it again.

Craig Payne said...

Dear Windfish: He was 26, a student of mine at a community college. Otherwise an extremely smart and likable guy, except for the anti-Christian fixations.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Crude,

It is certainly correct that at an intellectual level New Atheism's star has waned. But a generally irreligious and dismissive attitude to religion, if somewhat less aggressive, still seems widely popular. I still encounter talk of fairy tales, claims that religion causes most wars, or strong secularism a lot. Of course, my experience is more Britain and Australia, where the baseline is more irreligious than America (the seriously religious here can amount to 10% at most, including immigrant communities). But I would assume much the same holds true, better to a smaller degree, in the U.S. In Britain and Australia the New Atheists made dismissal of religion as nonsense common and acceptable. They seem to have taken old village atheist tropes and spread them far and wide amongst secularists and the irreligious, where before (though I admit to being a little too young to have paid close attention at the time)its seems there was plenty of lack of belief but a more mixed and muddled attitude to religion and organised religion in general. Things have cooled down a little. There is a little more nuance amongst the irreligious again, but attitudes are still harder on religion than they were in the past.

Crude said...

Jeremy,

It is certainly correct that at an intellectual level New Atheism's star has waned. But a generally irreligious and dismissive attitude to religion, if somewhat less aggressive, still seems widely popular.

That I agree with. I thought I said as much. Really, I think it's helpful think of the New Atheists as the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers of atheism. They put on a ridiculous show, make themselves gobs of money, and have what amount to cultists, but they quickly turned out to be embarrassments. (Remember, Dan Dennett helped promote the 'Brights' term, so whenever you see an atheist grit his teeth because someone sarcastically calls him a 'bright', remember that one of the four horsemen didn't realize this could backfire.)

That said, the Cultists of Gnu have partly been supplanted by maniac SJWs. Some of whom actually went on to rail against the CoGs, which if nothing else is pretty funny. I mean, there's some humor in the whole 'atheism+' thing rising up and attacking the other atheists first and foremost, what with their being white and male and cisgendered or whatever the hell those nutbags are worked up over lately.

Etzelnik said...

The standard Jewish understanding of the borders of "the land", which is presumably what the writers of the gospel referred to, is from Wadi El-Arish in the south, to somewhere about Amman to the East, and the Golan in the North (with a Davidic and Messianic extension to the Euphrates in the general region of Aleppo).

The idea that the Euphrates cited by the Genesis and Kings verses refers to the *entire* bank of the Euphrates (which would include all of Jordan, Syria, and most of Iraq) is a politically motivated interpretation primarily espoused by Kahanists.

Etzelnik said...

Well, so far it's going all right. We're growing into our shoes.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Feser and all
I would agree that most gnu's are ignorant to the serious discussions put forth when talking about God, but I recently saw one argument put forth by an atheist against the unmoved mover which troubles me. He argues that a being of pure actuality cannot Actualize anything because that would involve change, and he argues changeless beings such as one of pure actuality cannot change anything else. Instead he claims the first cause is an eternally existing quantum vacuum because according to him it can be because it is a being that had both potentiality and actuality, existence is intrinsic to it because it exist so it did not get it's existence from something else, and that it changed the instance it created our universe by itself with no external change due to eternally existing quantum conditions that were eternal probibalistic causes that became efficient only when it became actual at the instance it created our universe, where at that moment time began, and he also uses this to argue why there is no infinite regress with the vacuum.
Is there a way too respond to his points because they really trouble me. Thank you in advance.

Anonymous said...

He argues that a being of pure actuality cannot Actualize anything because that would involve change, and he argues changeless beings such as one of pure actuality cannot change anything else.

Pure act isn't changing. It's that which is not pure act which is changing. He'd need an argument as to why pure act can't change anything.

Instead he claims the first cause is an eternally existing quantum vacuum because according to him it can be because it is a being that had both potentiality and actuality

Then it can't be the first cause, period. It needs something else to actualize its potentiality.

Game over immediately, and all the nonsense that follows collapses.

Thursday said...

I was under the impression that the gene-centered view had largely fallen into abeyance.

Nope.

Thursday said...

I was under the impression that the gene-centered view had largely fallen into abeyance.

Nope.

RM said...

While on the topic of evolutionary scientists, has anyone read anything by Martin Nowak?

James said...

@Windfish:

"Too many subforums. Classic mistake by new forums. Whoever is in charge, trust me. Create only two subforums: On-Topic and Off-Topic."

Agreed, 100%. Branching out into a large number of forums prior to having sufficient content doesn't add anything organizationally and discourages / confuses new members. Let the initial unit of organization be a comment thread and, if the message board community grows, you can split off organically. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:53,
Thank you for your response, and I now see why his rebuttal was false, and leads to no issues with the argument.
Dr. Feser, In your blog post 50 shades of nothing you said that the reason the laws of physics cannot be necessary is because they need to be verified empirically, and this allows them to in principle be falsified. Do you mean that before we know if a law is valid or not we have to test it, and before that there is a logical possibility that it could either be true or false, which would make it contingent as it could be different in possible worlds. If so, then would this claim still be valid after a law is established and proven to be true after the test, as if it is proven true after the test, wouldn't that mean it is no longer logically possible for it to be different in all possible worlds, and instead would be the same in all of them, which would take away their contingency if the above is valid. Thank you in advance for the response.

Scott said...

Do you mean that before we know if a law is valid or not we have to test it, and before that there is a logical possibility that it could either be true or false, which would make it contingent as it could be different in possible worlds.

I don't mean to interrupt here, nor do I speak for Ed. But I think I can safely say that he doesn't mean anything whatsoever about "possible worlds." He's simply noting that if it's possible in principle for a counterexample to a law to be found (in this world), then the law itself doesn't obtain necessarily.

Nor does his point depend on whether the law has been tested. Of course if it's been tested and found wrong, then it doesn't obtain at all, and that's that. But no matter how often it's tested, it's never established with 100% certainty. That's how science is supposed to work: any such proposed law, no matter how often confirmed by example, could turn out to have a counterexample in the future—and of course it's not possible for us to test all cases anyway. How would we test, for example, whether the law of gravitation obtained in precisely its current form sixty million years ago at every point in the entire cosmos?

(Nor do I see why, even if that were feasible, it would mean that the law obtained in all possible worlds rather than just in this one. But since the original point didn't involve possible worlds anyway, that doesn't matter much.)

The essential point is just that physicists treat proposed physical laws as though it's possible (in reality, not just "as far as we know"*) for them not to obtain. In that case they don't treat them as though it's impossible for them not to obtain—as though, that is, they held necessarily.

----

* That is, metaphysically, not epistemically.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Feser i just received a copy of Schol. Meta. in the mail and can't wait to start reading; i finished the last superstition about a month ago - back when i was a "cultural atheist" i would have hated TLSuppersition...which only goes to show how on point it really is...great work and read you're working on book on philosophy of nature..can't wait to get it.

Read your blog and comments everyday.

M

Paul said...

While we're talking about the Gnu Atheism, I took a look at Loftus' Why I Became an Atheist and The Christian Delusion in a Barnes and Noble today. I found both of them eminently unimpressive. For example, he badly misunderstands divine simplicity, claiming that the Christian God clearly can't be simple because of His Triune nature.

Don't even get me started on Loftus' knowledge of historical Jesus work.

Timocrates said...

@ M ("Anonymous, July 9, 2015 at 11:13 AM"),

Very gracious for you to say so! I am certain Dr. Feser is happy to hear it :)

Take care M,
Timo.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Can we get started on how Loftus has a horrible history of dishonesty, ranging from starting a blog under a fake name to anonymously attack one of his Christian opponents (and then bringing it up on the forum, under the smooth move of \Hey guys, wow, someone is saying some nasty things about you, any response?\), to fake reviews of his own book?

Anonymous said...

Reading Mumford's last blog made me think of GK Chesterton's, "The Appetite of Tyranny", in which he says:
"What would you feel first, let us say, if I mentioned Michael Angelo?...It might be the sense of the majestic hands of Man upon the locks of the last doors of life; large and terrible hands, like those of that youth who poises the stone above Florence, and looks out upon the circle of the hills. It might be that huge heave of flank and chest and throat in "The Slave," which is like an earthquake lifting a whole landscape; it might be that tremendous Madonna, whose charity is more strong than death. Anyhow, your thoughts would be something worthy of the man's terrible paganism and his more terrible Christianity. Who but God could have graven Michael Angelo; who came so near to graving the Mother of God?

German culture deals with the matter as follows:—"Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564).—(=Bernhard) ancestor of the family, lived in Florence about 1210. He had two sons, Berlinghieri and Buonarrota. By this name recurring frequently in later generations, the family came to be called. It is a German name, compounded of Bona (=Bohn) and Hrodo, Roto (=Rohde, Rothe) Bona and Rotto are cited as Lombard names. Buonarotti is perhaps the old Lombard Beonrad, corresponding to the word Bonroth. Corresponding names are Mackrodt, Osterroth, Leonard." And so on, and so on, and so on. "In his face he has always been well-coloured...the eyes might be called small rather than large, of the colour of horn, but variable with 'flecks' of yellow and blue. Hair and beard are black. These particulars are confirmed by the portraits. First and foremost take the portrait of Bugiardini in Museo Buonarotti. Here comes to view the 'flecked' appearance of the iris, especially in the right eye. The left may be described as almost wholly blue." And so on, and so on, and so on. "In the Museo Civico at Pavia, is a fresco likeness by an unknown hand, in which this fresh red is distinctly recognisable on the face. Taking all these bodily characteristics into consideration, it must be said from an anthropological point of view that though originally of German family he was a hybrid between the North and West brunette race."

Would you take the trouble to prove that Michael Angelo was an Italian that this man takes to prove that he was a German? Of course not. The only impression this man (who is a recognised Prussian historian) produces on your mind or mine is that he does not care about Michael Angelo. For you, being an Italian, are therefore something more than an Italian; and I being an Englishman, something more than an Englishman. But this poor fellow really cannot be anything more than a Prussian. He digs and digs to find dead Prussians, in the catacombs of Rome or under the ruins of Troy. If he can find one blue eye lying about somewhere, he is satisfied. He has no philosophy. He has a hobby, which is collecting Germans."

Scientism would further reduce Michael Angelo to a lucky collection of atoms, nothing more to see here.

Paul said...

Loftus' dishonesty doesn't really interest me. It's the same as when the internet atheists call William Lane Craig dishonest. I'm not interested in the guy's character; I'm interested in the arguments he puts forth. I find some of Craig's material infuriating (e.g. his argument from religious experience), but some of it is also very good. I think most of the issues he runs into are based on his theistic personalism, but there are people far more qualified to discuss that than I. Regarding Loftus, his argumentation is, in my opinion, unimpressive. Saying that Jesus is "at best a failed apocalyptic prophet" is false. I'm likely going to get a NT degree, and I'm fairly convinced that the dichotomy between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history is false. I'm far from convinced that we can separate them like that! As James D.G. Dunn puts it in his Jesus Remembered, the only Jesus we can really know is the remembered Jesus.

Loftus seems to think that by "debunking" (which he doesn't really do) a very literalistic, primitive form of Christianity, he somehow manages to debunk the entire thing. That, of course, ignores the Church's teachings on many things, from science to the nature of faith. Like most Gnu Atheists, Loftus seems to think that Christian faith is blind.

Scott said...

@Paul:

I'm likely going to get a NT degree, and I'm fairly convinced that the dichotomy between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history is false.

Slightly off-topic, but have you read this? If so, what do you think of it? (I recently purchased it myself but I've only glanced through it; I have several other books to finish before I get to it.)

Paul said...

Scott,

I'm actually in the middle of reading it right now. I've read about half of it. I started it, but then I got into N.T. Wright's the Resurrection of the Son of God. Once I finish Wright's book, I'll get back to it.

A few thoughts on it: Bauckham certainly knows what he's talking about (he's one of the best scholars alive). That being said, I'm not totally sure he's convincing. He (rightfully) attacks Bultmann's form criticism as being overly skeptical and simplistic. However, I'm not totally sure that Bauckham makes the case that he wants to. For example, his argument for Peter as the source of Mark seems a bit odd, but it doesn't mean that it's false. I haven't read his argument for John the Elder as the author of John (something I'm not closed to), but I likely follow Raymond Brown's footsteps with regard to it.

Bauckham's argument for Luke is one that I actually agree with, and as I said above, I don't think that he's totally wrong about Mark. For what it's worth, I'm fairly convinced that Matthew did not write the book attributed to him. On the other hand, I think it possible that Mark did (there are reasons beyond the scope of my reply for that), and I think it's very possible that Luke did as well. I am agnostic as to John's authorship. On another note, the gospels originally circulated with the "According to Matthew/Mark/Luke/John" attributions. The discussion of names (I think Chapter 5 or 6) is certainly fascinating, and it shows that the evangelists were definitely acquainted with Judea (which is supportive of Bauckham's hypothesis). There's certainly a line of tradition (if not eyewitnesses themselves) going all the way back to Jesus' ministry, and I think Bauckham both makes and supports this point extremely well.

Overall, from what I've read, Bauckham seems to make a decent, though not overly compelling case. It's certainly a book that challenges the current consensus. Moreover, it significantly weakens some of the favorite skeptical arguments (as does Dunn's Jesus Remembered). As for the mythicists, Bauckham's book further undermines their already tenuous position.

Scott said...

Excellent. Thanks very much for the thorough reply.

Cary Kembla said...

The Guardian article on Dawkins was definitely a hit piece, revenge for supporting Tim Hunt. Whatever is said about Dawkins, his contributions and his scientism, his IQ is greater than of the sum of all the Guardian hacks.