Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carrier vs. Craig in Maryville, MO

This long-awaited clash between two men who are arguably the most learned representatives of the far-left and far-right of Biblical scholarship took place right here in the flyover states, of all places. I'd seriously considered making the drive out, and after hearing the quality of the only mp3 file posted thus far, I sort of wish that I'd taking the time and effort to do so.

On style and persuasiveness, Craig takes this one hands down. He was working with three significant advantages: the affirmative position, home-field advantage, and an inherent human tendency to prefer explanations based on intention to those based on the contingent results of unplanned natural processes.

On substance and logical coherence, though, Carrier almost pulled even about halfway into the Q&A, during which he managed to flesh out his valid arguments enough to make them more-or-less sound. Here is one, paraphrased and formalised a bit:
  1. If early Christians were creating mythic tales instead of recording history as it actually happened, we would expect Mark's writings to be more detailed and fabulous than previous Christian writings, as well as less detailed and fabulous than later Christian writings.
  2. In fact, this is precisely what we do see, inasmuch as the later canonical and non-canonical Christian writings generally do include more details and more fabulous stories than earlier ones.
  3. Therefore, it is probably that Mark (and his contemporaneous oral historians) were making myth rather than recording historical events.

I'm not going to go into Carrier's empirical support for premise #2 here, but suffice to say it was expansive and difficult to rebut. However authoritatively and however many times Craig boldly declares that he has "multiple independently attested sources" it still doesn't make it so, and Craig at no point refutes the Carrier's arguments that the various resurrection accounts bear the marks of literary dependence one upon another.

  • Unbeliever rating: 3.75 stars

  • Believer rating: 4.25 stars

  • Overall rating: 4.0 stars

No comments: