Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#21  Postby Byron » Jan 25, 2012 12:05 am

"What Carrier fails to do is match his chart to the land."

Afraid ya fucking missed it, proudfootz. A message, delivered with a cuss.
proudfootz wrote:... help would-be historians ...

Like Dick Carrier. He's never held an academic position in his life. I've yet to see a scrap of original research post-PhD.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#22  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 12:24 am

Byron wrote:"What Carrier fails to do is match his chart to the land."


And what's that supposed to mean, if anything?

Afraid ya fucking missed it, proudfootz. A message, delivered with a cuss.


Yeah, if that's supposed to be an 'argument' I'm afraid it made no fucking sense whatsoever.

proudfootz wrote:... help would-be historians ...

Like Dick Carrier. He's never held an academic position in his life.


Not all historians need to work in academia (except in some Bizarro World) - he's trained as a historian and I'm not sure if he doesn't have better qualifications than many of his online critics do.

I've yet to see a scrap of original research post-PhD.


Who gives a flying fuck about what you have or haven't read?

It's irrelevant. :coffee:
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#23  Postby Byron » Jan 25, 2012 12:29 am

You pony up some peer-reviewed historical research by Dick Carrier then, proudfootz.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#24  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 1:23 am

Byron wrote:You pony up some peer-reviewed historical research by Dick Carrier then, proudfootz.


Richard Carrier does seem to have some background in history:

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Ph.D. (Ancient History) October 2008

Dissertation: “Attitudes Toward the Natural Philosopher in the Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)”
Committee: W.V. Harris, R. Billows, M.L. Jones, G. Williams, K. Vogt

M.Phil. (Ancient History) May 2000
Majors: Greco-Roman Philosophy, Religion, and Historiography
Examiners: W.V. Harris, R.S. Bagnall, R.A. Billows, A.D.E. Cameron

M.A. (Ancient History) June 1998

University of California Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

B.A. (major in History with a minor in Classical Civilization) June 1997


There's more:


ACADEMIC MEMBERSHIPS:
Association of Ancient Historians
American Philological Association
History of Science Society
Phi Beta Kappa Society

AWARDS:
Columbia University President’s Fellowship 1998—2001
Catherine S. Sims Fellowship in History 1999—2000
Richard Hofstadter Fellowship 1997
Highest Distinction in General Scholarship (UC Berkeley) 1997
Dean’s List (UC Berkeley) 1995—1997
Outstanding Scholarship Award in Anthropology (Ventura College) 1995


Sounds like he's quite accomplished in comparison with the anonymous internet cranks who vilify him.

Still, any reasoned arguments about historian Richard Carrier's paper?

You know, the one where he explains how the Bayesian Map fits the Historical Territory. :coffee:
Last edited by proudfootz on Jan 25, 2012 1:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#25  Postby Byron » Jan 25, 2012 1:28 am

Erm, yeah, things is, proudfootz, I didn't ask you for his résumé, I asked you for an example of Carrier's post-doctorate peer-reviewed historical research. D'you have one?
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#26  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 1:33 am

Byron wrote:Erm, yeah, things is, proudfootz, I didn't ask you for his résumé, I asked you for an example of Carrier's post-doctorate peer-reviewed historical research. D'you have one?


Yeah, you asked for one thing that's irrelevant and got something relevant instead.

Poor you! :waah:

Still no valid argument against Carrier's description about how his map fits the territory? :coffee:

I mean - three posts and no substance? Sheesh!

You'd think for all your sweeping generalizations you'd have read the paper by now and have something to say about its content.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#27  Postby logical bob » Jan 25, 2012 11:46 am

proudfootz wrote:
Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem. Therefore any
historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.


... so nerny-ner-ner-ner-ner.


A more lucid refutation of an argument was never typed. :lol:

But really - have you got any rational reasons to not like what is written here?

Alright then, if you really want to go through it...

Bayes’ Theorem has been proven formally valid. Any argument that violates a valid
form of argument is itself invalid. Therefore any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid.

Arguments are valid. A valid argument is one in which the conclusions follow from the premises. Bayes' Theorem is not an argument or a form of argument, it's a theorem. As such it doesn't make much sense to say it's valid. I suspect that what Carrier means is that it's proven. The proof is simple, it follows from the definition of conditional probability in about 3 lines, meaning that Bayes' Theorem is in effect a tautology, like all theorems.

Bayes' Theorem is not a form of argument, but it can be used in a valid argument. It can serve as the justification for inferring one statement about probabilities from another.

All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem.

Two points here. Firstly, Bayes' Theorem can be used in a valid argument. It absolutely does not follow that all valid arguments use Bayes' Theorem. That's equivalent to saying that because a mop can be used to effectively clean a floor, all floor cleaning that doesn't use a mop is ineffective. Basic logical error.

Secondly, we've moved smoothly from talking about a theorem having a proof to the validity of a logical argument, to the validity of a form of logical argument, to the validity of historical arguments as if they were all one and the same. They clearly aren't the same. Bayes' Theorem is a theorem because it's a tautology based on definitions. Does Carrier really want to say that all valid historical arguments are tautologies based on definitions?

Therefore any historical argument that cannot be described by a correct application of Bayes’ Theorem
is invalid. Therefore Bayes’ Theorem is a good method of testing any historical argument
for validity.

This paragraph as a whole is a jumble of misapplied terminology and logical error, written in the tone of a petulant teenager who thinks he's scored a point. It sinks any credibility Carrier might have had.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#28  Postby Mus Ponticus » Jan 25, 2012 1:19 pm

Two points here. Firstly, Bayes' Theorem can be used in a valid argument. It absolutely does not follow that all valid arguments use Bayes' Theorem. That's equivalent to saying that because a mop can be used to effectively clean a floor, all floor cleaning that doesn't use a mop is ineffective. Basic logical error.
This isn't a basic logical error. This is a basic comprehension error. Carrier doesn't say that all valid arguments use Bayes' theorem, he's saying that you can use Bayes' theorem to describe any valid arguments.

This sinks any credibility you might have had, you petulant teenager ;)
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#29  Postby logical bob » Jan 25, 2012 2:07 pm

Mus Ponticus wrote:Carrier doesn't say that all valid arguments use Bayes' theorem, he's saying that you can use Bayes' theorem to describe any valid arguments.

I can see that's what he says, but I'm trying to get past his clumsy terminology to see what he means. If he thinks "any argument that violates Bayes’ Theorem is invalid. All valid historical arguments are described by Bayes’ Theorem" makes sense then when he says "are described by" he must mean "do not violate". Although he's trying to give the appearance of a tight logical argument in this paragraph he isn't clear on what he means by violating a theorem or describing an argument. I was paraphrasing him in the hope of making his point at least coherent.

I'd be willing to accept that an argument that used probabilities in a way contradicted by a correct application of Bayes' Theorem would be invalid. It simply does not follow from this Bayes' Theorem has any bearing on all valid arguments, for the reason I gave.

The bigger point is that history doesn't handle probabilities in a mathematical way and has never claimed to do so. A mathematical treatment of probability requires that the probabilities be expressed numerically. Who's attempting to put numbers of the chances of Brother of the Lord being a biological relationship rather than a title? Nobody. So what exactly is the role of a process that requires numbers as input?
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#30  Postby logical bob » Jan 25, 2012 2:23 pm

proudfootz wrote:Again, you failed to quote the introductory paragraph... Here Carrier is simply showing how application of Bayes theorem will help would-be historians from making the common mistake of failing to take into account competing theories. Again Carrier is not claiming he is 'working' the Bayes Theorem in this example.

Do you think historians are unaware of the possibility of alternative hypotheses until they see Bayes' Theorem, when they go "God, how could I have been so stupid?" Considering competing theories is just common sense, not an application of Bayes' Theorem.

In the paragraph I didn't quote Carrier begins "Bayes’ Theorem will force you to examine the likelihood of the evidence on
competing theories" and then says "for example..." It seems to me he is very much claiming to be working the Theorem. You're dead right to say that he actually isn't working it. How does he examine the likelihood of the competing theory? He announces that the use of Brother of the Lord as a title is "just as likely." Rigourous, huh?

What he's doing is trying to give a mathematically illiterate audience the impression that the standard arguments he uses elsewhere are the product of a mathematical approach. It's pretty much like an advert for skin cream being fronted by someone with a white coat and glasses.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#31  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 3:07 pm

logical bob wrote:
The bigger point is that history doesn't handle probabilities in a mathematical way and has never claimed to do so.


This may be true - but then we're left with the constant refrain of 'more likely' or 'more probable' as used in arguments about history merely being sounds without much meaning if we're to be left in the dark about how much more likely or probable.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#32  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 3:38 pm

logical bob wrote:
proudfootz wrote:Again, you failed to quote the introductory paragraph... Here Carrier is simply showing how application of Bayes theorem will help would-be historians from making the common mistake of failing to take into account competing theories. Again Carrier is not claiming he is 'working' the Bayes Theorem in this example.

Do you think historians are unaware of the possibility of alternative hypotheses until they see Bayes' Theorem, when they go "God, how could I have been so stupid?" Considering competing theories is just common sense, not an application of Bayes' Theorem.


Yes, probably Bayes Theorem is just a way of describing common sense. I don't understand why that should be controversial.

In discussing the 'Brother of the Lord' phrase I've often seen posters ignore the possibility of its being a title in favor of the blood kinship hypothesis without qualification. How could they be so stupid?

In the paragraph I didn't quote Carrier begins "Bayes’ Theorem will force you to examine the likelihood of the evidence on competing theories" and then says "for example..." It seems to me he is very much claiming to be working the Theorem. You're dead right to say that he actually isn't working it. How does he examine the likelihood of the competing theory? He announces that the use of Brother of the Lord as a title is "just as likely." Rigourous, huh?


You seem to be missing the point. Maybe in your rush to quote mine Carrier you forgot that this is an argument and thus needs to be followed logically:


3. Bayes’ Theorem will force you to examine the likelihood of the evidence on
competing theories, rather than only one — in other words, forcing you to consider
what the evidence should look like if your theory happens to be false (What evidence can
you then expect there to be? How would the evidence in fact be different?).
Many
common logical errors are thus avoided. You may realize the evidence is just as likely on
some alternative theory, or that the likelihood in either case is not sufficiently different to
justify a secure conclusion.

For example, Paul refers to James the Pillar as the Brother of the Lord, and to the Brothers of the Lord as a general category of authority besides the Apostles. It is assumed this confirms the historicity of Jesus.


So here's hypothesis A: Brother of the Lord (BotL) is a blood kinship term.

Now Carrier invites us to consider an alternative hypothesis as Bayes seems to require:

But which is more likely, that a historical (hence biological) brother of Jesus would be called the Brother of the Lord, or that he would be called the Brother of Jesus? In contrast, if we theorize that ‘Brother of the Lord’ is a rank in the Church, not a biological status, then the probability that we would hear of authorities being called by that title is just as high, and therefore that Paul mentions this title is not by itself sufficient evidence to decide between the two competing theories of how that title came about.

So in the hypothetical situation Carrier sets out, with no evidence to chose between the two, we cannot say either is 'more likely' than the other and they are for all practical purposes equally likely.

But the argument does not end there, as you may not have noticed:

Estimates of prior probability might then decide the matter, but one then must undertake a total theory of the evidence (extending beyond just this one issue), since there is no direct evidence here as to what was normal (since there is no precedent for calling anyone “Brother of the Lord” as a biological category, and only slim or inexact precedent for constructing such a title as a rank within a religious order).

Thus Carrier points out that the guesses about what is 'more likely' must be tempered by consideration of competing hypotheses and this process may expose why the original reading cannot be regarded as 'more likely' after all.

What he's doing is trying to give a mathematically illiterate audience the impression that the standard arguments he uses elsewhere are the product of a mathematical approach.


So long as you want to argue that 'probable' and 'likely' as used by historians are terms that are empty of any notion of 'how likely' or 'how probable' it becomes difficult to tell the level of confidence we should place in such pronouncements.

Your inspired effort at 'mind reading' Carrier's intention is a credit to all rational skeptics everywhere!

It's pretty much like an advert for skin cream being fronted by someone with a white coat and glasses.


Except in this case it's a historian discussing historical method.

A completely different thing.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#33  Postby paarsurrey » Jan 25, 2012 3:43 pm

I think all this effort of the atheists is just to prove Christianity wrong and bring them to reality; that could be done more easily, instead of the sophistication of the "Twelve Axioms of Historical Method", with breaking the backbone of Paul's invented theology, as mentioned in the "Litmus test of a Christian". Not all the atheists are as intelligent or educated as Richard Carrier is; there are many ignorant atheists as well.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#34  Postby logical bob » Jan 25, 2012 4:29 pm

proudfootz wrote:Thus Carrier points out that the guesses about what is 'more likely' must be tempered by consideration of competing hypotheses and this process may expose why the original reading cannot be regarded as 'more likely' after all.

Yes, I agree. That's common sense. I've said and you've said it. Is there anyone who would argue that consideration of competing hypotheses is not a good idea? We've said it succinctly in one sentence, without recourse to equations. It's also worth noting that Carrier has gone to some trouble to make the equations look more complex than they actually are. Google Bayes' Theorem and get yourself a comparison. So why scatter all these deliberately obscurantist equations around in order to state the blindingly obvious? I don't think it takes mind reading to conclude that he's trying to confer on his anti-HJ conclusions the credibility of mathematical rigour. And at the top of the thread, you bought it.

proudfootz wrote:Good to see someone making an effort to help make the assumptions of the 'judgement calls' of historians more explicit and more amenable to logical analysis.


Except in this case it's a historian discussing historical method.

A historian deploying deliberate sophistry. Look, there are good arguments to be made about looking deeper than the obvious interpretation of Brother of the Lord and the standard application of the criterion of embarrassment. That case isn't helped by bullshit like this.

proudfootz wrote:
logical bob wrote:The bigger point is that history doesn't handle probabilities in a mathematical way and has never claimed to do so.

This may be true - but then we're left with the constant refrain of 'more likely' or 'more probable' as used in arguments about history merely being sounds without much meaning if we're to be left in the dark about how much more likely or probable.

History is subjective. There's no getting away from that. It might be nice if we could settle the HJ question with a calculator, but we can't. Deal with it.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#35  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 4:33 pm

paarsurrey wrote:I think all this effort of the atheists is just to prove Christianity wrong and bring them to reality; that could be done more easily, instead of the sophistication of the "Twelve Axioms of Historical Method", with breaking the backbone of Paul's invented theology, as mentioned in the "Litmus test of a Christian". Not all the atheists are as intelligent or educated as Richard Carrier is; there are many ignorant atheists as well.


I don't agree that the improvements suggested in the methods of historical study are 'just to prove christianity wrong' - though that may well be a side effect. :cheers:
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#36  Postby proudfootz » Jan 25, 2012 5:12 pm

logical bob wrote:
proudfootz wrote:Thus Carrier points out that the guesses about what is 'more likely' must be tempered by consideration of competing hypotheses and this process may expose why the original reading cannot be regarded as 'more likely' after all.

Yes, I agree. That's common sense. I've said and you've said it. Is there anyone who would argue that consideration of competing hypotheses is not a good idea? We've said it succinctly in one sentence, without recourse to equations. It's also worth noting that Carrier has gone to some trouble to make the equations look more complex than they actually are. Google Bayes' Theorem and get yourself a comparison.


This is more than that one point, as you may notice the paper makes many other points as well - this is about a comprehensive method of testing hypotheses.


So why scatter all these deliberately obscurantist equations around in order to state the blindingly obvious? I don't think it takes mind reading to conclude that he's trying to confer on his anti-HJ conclusions the credibility of mathematical rigour. And at the top of the thread, you bought it.


Nope, now you're trying to read my mind as well as Carrier's. Instead of attacking the alleged 'motives' of others why not stick to something a little more substantive than your subjective guesses as to what Carrier is 'trying' to do?

If you bother to read the paper there are many points than the one you cherry picked.

proudfootz wrote:Good to see someone making an effort to help make the assumptions of the 'judgement calls' of historians more explicit and more amenable to logical analysis.


Except in this case it's a historian discussing historical method.

A historian deploying deliberate sophistry.


Again - a historian discussing applying a valid logical process to historical methodology might look like sophistry to you, but so far you've only shown an ability to misunderstand what's in the paper and an ability to misrepresent it.

Look, there are good arguments to be made about looking deeper than the obvious interpretation of Brother of the Lord and the standard application of the criterion of embarrassment. That case isn't helped by bullshit like this.


Thus far it seems the bullshit you're slinging is not helpful, either.

proudfootz wrote:
logical bob wrote:The bigger point is that history doesn't handle probabilities in a mathematical way and has never claimed to do so.

This may be true - but then we're left with the constant refrain of 'more likely' or 'more probable' as used in arguments about history merely being sounds without much meaning if we're to be left in the dark about how much more likely or probable.

History is subjective. There's no getting away from that. It might be nice if we could settle the HJ question with a calculator, but we can't. Deal with it.


Nice use of the strawman! :clap:

I guess if you're happy to live with historians cloaking their bullshit in 'truthy' sounding phrases like 'probable' and 'likely' I will have to live with that.

Just as you'll have to live with the fact that others would like history to be a little less vague than all that.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#37  Postby logical bob » Jan 25, 2012 5:46 pm

proudfootz wrote:This is more than that one point, as you may notice the paper makes many other points as well - this is about a comprehensive method of testing hypotheses. ... If you bother to read the paper there are many points than the one you cherry picked.

I've commented on six extracts so far, but if you'd like to highlight a point that actually does make use of Bayes' Theorem to shed light on the HJ question I'd be happy to talk about that one.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#38  Postby Stein » Jan 25, 2012 5:54 pm

proudfootz wrote:
logical bob wrote:
proudfootz wrote:Thus Carrier points out that the guesses about what is 'more likely' must be tempered by consideration of competing hypotheses and this process may expose why the original reading cannot be regarded as 'more likely' after all.

Yes, I agree. That's common sense. I've said and you've said it. Is there anyone who would argue that consideration of competing hypotheses is not a good idea? We've said it succinctly in one sentence, without recourse to equations. It's also worth noting that Carrier has gone to some trouble to make the equations look more complex than they actually are. Google Bayes' Theorem and get yourself a comparison.


This is more than that one point, as you may notice the paper makes many other points as well - this is about a comprehensive method of testing hypotheses.


So why scatter all these deliberately obscurantist equations around in order to state the blindingly obvious? I don't think it takes mind reading to conclude that he's trying to confer on his anti-HJ conclusions the credibility of mathematical rigour. And at the top of the thread, you bought it.


Nope, now you're trying to read my mind as well as Carrier's. Instead of attacking the alleged 'motives' of others why not stick to something a little more substantive than your subjective guesses as to what Carrier is 'trying' to do?

If you bother to read the paper there are many points than the one you cherry picked.

proudfootz wrote:Good to see someone making an effort to help make the assumptions of the 'judgement calls' of historians more explicit and more amenable to logical analysis.


Except in this case it's a historian discussing historical method.

A historian deploying deliberate sophistry.


Again - a historian discussing applying a valid logical process to historical methodology might look like sophistry to you, but so far you've only shown an ability to misunderstand what's in the paper and an ability to misrepresent it.

Look, there are good arguments to be made about looking deeper than the obvious interpretation of Brother of the Lord and the standard application of the criterion of embarrassment. That case isn't helped by bullshit like this.


Thus far it seems the bullshit you're slinging is not helpful, either.

proudfootz wrote:
logical bob wrote:The bigger point is that history doesn't handle probabilities in a mathematical way and has never claimed to do so.

This may be true - but then we're left with the constant refrain of 'more likely' or 'more probable' as used in arguments about history merely being sounds without much meaning if we're to be left in the dark about how much more likely or probable.

History is subjective. There's no getting away from that. It might be nice if we could settle the HJ question with a calculator, but we can't. Deal with it.


Nice use of the strawman! :clap:

I guess if you're happy to live with historians cloaking their bullshit in 'truthy' sounding phrases like 'probable' and 'likely' I will have to live with that.

Just as you'll have to live with the fact that others would like history to be a little less vague than all that.


Excuse me: likelihood even trumps other arguments in certain reaches of science. At the same time, just because we haven't found the missing link is no reason to view creationism as therefore more likely than evolution. Evolution is still far more likely than creationism because of a ton of additional evidence that makes the absence of the missing link incidental to the overwhelming data in favor of evolution.

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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#39  Postby Byron » Jan 25, 2012 7:03 pm

proudfootz wrote:Still no valid argument against Carrier's description about how his map fits the territory? :coffee:

Nope, 'cause he don't offer one. There's no inherent numerical value to questions like "what does 'the Lord's brother' mean?" One has to be assigned. It's telling that Carrier's example is a statistical question (the likelihood of Jerusalem having a public library).

Formula only work with what you put in, and that's a judgment call. Claiming that abstract systems transfer to empiricism is just the ontological arguments rehashed.
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Re: Richard Carrier - Twelve Axioms of Historical Method

#40  Postby paarsurrey » Jan 25, 2012 7:05 pm

proudfootz wrote:
paarsurrey wrote:I think all this effort of the atheists is just to prove Christianity wrong and bring them to reality; that could be done more easily, instead of the sophistication of the "Twelve Axioms of Historical Method", with breaking the backbone of Paul's invented theology, as mentioned in the "Litmus test of a Christian". Not all the atheists are as intelligent or educated as Richard Carrier is; there are many ignorant atheists as well.


I don't agree that the improvements suggested in the methods of historical study are 'just to prove christianity wrong' - though that may well be a side effect. :cheers:


I thought it must have direct relevance to Christianity; that is why a thread in the Christianity forum has been started in stead of some other relevant forum.
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