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Old Today, 04:59 PM   #20821
boxcar
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Originally Posted by Actor
`One of the most ridiculous, but not infrequently used defenses for an historical Jesus, is the apostle Paul, otherwise known as Paul of Tarsus, or Saint Paul. The argument goes something like: “Well, would Paul have suffered so much? Would he have traipsed thousands of miles preaching and establishing churches, and writing his famous letters, if he knew Jesus was an invented character?”

`Now at first glance, this argument appears to make some sense, although we have many of the same problems with Paul as we do with the twelve disciples. Because, what do we really know about Saint Paul? It is a fact that, despite the claims made in the Acts of the Apostles that Paul had encounters with high priests, kings, and Roman administrators, Paul is completely unknown in secular history. With Paul, unlike with Jesus, there are no questionable paragraphs and passing references in the works of Jewish and Roman historians. With Paul, we draw a complete blank. Despite his purported Herculean efforts throughout the eastern Mediterranean, no one outside Christian scripture noticed a thing. Now that should signal the first alert in our mind. Paul was purportedly a zealous Jew and religious policeman, and yet Jewish records record nothing of a notorious renegade who rejected Judaism, and set up a rival heresy.

`Paul purportedly converted the Roman governor of the island of Cyprus on his very first missionary journey, but no Roman historian noticed this novel event. In fact, if you visit the ruins of the governor's palace at Pathos, you'll see the exuberant Roman art, full of the familiar Roman gods; no evidence of Christianity then.

`Our sole source for information about Paul is the New Testament. Now usefully, there are, in fact, two distinct sources within that: the colorful and fantastic story in the book of Acts of the conversion and evangelizing of Paul, and the letters supposedly written by him. Now the letters, in fact, are almost a third of the whole New Testament, and the salesmen of Jesus quote them quite often. The first thing that strikes anyone who compares the two sources for Paul, is how very different they are. Now that in itself wouldn't be a problem were it not for the fact that the differences are often stark contradictions. The Paul of the book of Acts is a team player, very much on side with the rest of the brothers, often taking a subordinate role. His “conversion” on the road to Damascus is so important that it is repeated three times. But the Paul we find in the epistles is a bombastic maverick, who has received his own revelation and no direction from anyone else. He makes no reference himself to the road to Damascus, and he makes no reference to any mission to Cyprus. He makes no reference to delivering any edict from James on food prohibitions and fornication. In fact Paul, from his own letters, is clearly his own man, and he tells us specifically he owes nothing to any man.

`So what are we to make of this? Should we be guided by Paul's own words? After all, someone wrote those letters, and we have copies, even if our earliest copies date to the 3rd century. But the problem we have with the letters of Paul is that many of them are regarded, very widely, by New Testament scholars, as fake, or as they more delicately put that, “inauthentic.” In other words, written by a believing Christian, writing what he thought Paul would have said. Now that should set a second alert in our mind. We can't rely upon the letters of Paul as being genuine. And in fact, scholars know that new letters were written in the name of Paul to meet the ongoing concerns of the church during the course of the 2nd century.

`Now what should we make of the great claims made for Paul that he established churches as he meandered about? Well let me point out one simple fact. The three largest cities of the Roman Empire which had early Christian communities were Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. Now not one of these cities owes anything to Paul. In his letter to the Romans, Paul looks forward to meeting the brethren there for the first time. The churches in that city owe nothing to Paul, and in fact church historians have no certain idea when or how those churches were established. With Alexandria, Paul had no connection at all with that city, and in the case of Antioch, it was the church there, according to the Acts of the Apostles, that recruited Paul and sent him on his first mission. Therefore, Paul was not the founder of any important churches.

`A fourth city we might mention is Ephesus, where supposedly Paul spent over two years, and to which he sent one of his trademark letters. Did Paul even found the church of Ephesus? Now Acts tells us that Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to enter Roman Asia on his second missionary journey. When Paul finally reaches that city, missionaries are already active there. And the tradition of the Ephesian church is that Saint John was the founder. So Paul is not the great founder of churches at all. In fact, almost everywhere he goes, he meets and is helped on his way by existing unknown brethren.

`So there are doubts about the genuineness of Paul's letters, and doubts about the truth of Paul's foundation of churches. And when we add to that doubts about the very existence of this superstar of early Christianity, there are real problems! In fact, we can see that Paul is an idealized Christian founder: at once a tireless missionary, a bold preacher, a theologian, a church organizer, and most importantly, an heroic martyr.

`It isn't true. It isn't history. It's more astounding rubbish from the New Testament!' -- Ken Humphreys


So...where is the first century proof that Paul didn't exist?
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Old Today, 06:13 PM   #20822
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Originally Posted by hcap
How is the importance of causality diminished? And although I understand why the metaphysical is not science per se, this entire thread is about the metaphysical. Metaphysical inferences abound here. Shouldn't we be cognizant of the metaphysical implications of science? After all science is not what everyone has on their minds, until it strikes a chord on metaphysics .


The metaphysical is not science. Two very different realms and the twain shall never meet! Science deals with only the lowest reality, whereas metaphysics deals with the highest reality. (Plato called this latter "The Third Realm".). This highest reality or "third realm" transcends mind and senses. In this realm exists such things as universals, numbers, geometry, laws of logic, propositions, etc. -- all of which are discovered by us. The physical world is Temporal Reality and scientists' classroom, as it were. And this temporal reality is but a copy of the Highest Reality (the realm of Metaphysics) -- the reality that transcends mind and senses since the abstract things mentioned above did not originate in our mind nor are they discernible by our senses. But nonetheless, they are still within our reach to be discovered. We have that capacity to discover them "out there".

Since this physical world is but a copy of things unseen and not the substance thereof, this presents numerous profound, puzzling and very often denied paradoxes by the deniers of reality. Very often things are not what they seem to be in this "lower reality" in which we live and move. In fact, we have already seen this with Time. Many scientists (perhaps even most) who study physical things believe that the "arrow of time" logically and chronologically flows from the Past through the Present to the Future which would have our Yesterdays becoming our Todays and our Todays becoming our Tomorrows. Because we're time-bound creatures and because we can only relate to ourselves and others and our world from an historical perspective (the Past) we can only think of the "arrow of time" in a chronological sense. Yet, logically, we all know that our Tomrorrows will become our Todays and our Todays will eventually become our Yesterdays.

We have a parallel situation with Causes and Effects. Take Mr. Hcap, for example, (and no doubt Actor, Hank and most others here), they all think that causes always precede effects. And while that may seem to be the case here in this "lowest reality" -- this physical realm -- it certainly is not the case in the "highest reality". Quite the contrary! In the metaphysical realm, there is a little item called the Final Cause (the 4th of Aristotle's causes). And while this is the "last" of his famous four causes, chronologically, it is the first logically! In this highest reality, Effects always precede Causes. And as soon as I find some time and a quote that I'm searching for from Dr. Edward Feser, I will prove this beyond any shadow of doubt -- except to the hard-nose, hardcore, hard-headed deniers of reality, of course. So, just to make myself clear, I will prove that everything in the universe is subject to this Final Cause, which means that Effects always precede Causes, regardless of what the learned men of the physical sciences tell us. Just remember this about copies and substances: The copy is only an image! For instance, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we're seeing everything in reverse. If a real person were facing any of us, his right arm and hand would be opposite our left arm and hand. But as we all know, this isn't the reality when we're gazing at our own image in the mirror.

Meanwhile, everyone continue to enjoy discussing science and the things of this physical reality, which will always be subservient to metaphysics and the things unseen, whether you like or not.
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Old Today, 07:35 PM   #20823
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Originally Posted by boxcar
So...where is the first century proof that Paul didn't exist?
Onus probandi.

Where is the proof, first century or otherwise, that he did?

Where is the proof that Santa Claus does not exist? Or the Easter Bunny? Or the Tooth Fairy?

Where is the proof that Russell's Teapot does not exist? Or do you believe in Russell's Teapot? How about Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy? Maybe you believe Superman exists.

The burden of proof of any extraordinary claim lies with the one making the claim, otherwise one can make any outlandish claim and declare it to be true simply because it cannot be disproven. If you cannot see how ridiculous of such a position is then that is your problem, not mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bertrand Russell
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Hitchens
That which can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
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Last edited by Actor : Today at 07:44 PM.
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Old Today, 07:40 PM   #20824
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Originally Posted by boxcar
For instance, when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we're seeing everything in reverse.
Left to right is reversed, but not top to bottom. Why is that?
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Old Today, 08:07 PM   #20825
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Originally Posted by boxcar
So...where is the first century proof that Paul didn't exist?
Argumentum ad ignorantiam!

I had to look it up.
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Old Today, 08:10 PM   #20826
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Originally Posted by Actor
Left to right is reversed, but not top to bottom. Why is that?


You've been watching Smarter Than a Fifth Grader again?
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