Statesboro, GA, USA
The majority of non-Christian scholars? Iíd have said Ďsomeí and I believe that even those would admit that thereís no solid evidence either way.
Sorry, Grinch, but the belief that the man Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist is a fringe belief. It is usually found among the kinds of scholars who give credence to conspiracy theories, and raving historical revisionists.
And those who believe that Jesus existed, absolutely would not say "There's no solid evidence either way". If you really think that there's no solid evidence, it shows me that you haven't really looked into the evidence. BTW, Josephus is not the only non-Christian source that mentions Jesus as a historical person.
Really, this tit for tat ... "IS"... "IS NOT" ... "IS SO" ... "IS NOT", isn't getting us anywhere. If you are prepared to refute the established fact of the historicity of Jesus, then post a new thread entitled "Did Jesus exist"? I am prepared to give you plenty of historical information to reckon with. But as I said before, firmly established historicity, leaves the burden of proof upon anyone who would deny it.
Just because people propagate myths and legends in literature doesnít mean that theyíre all factually correct.
Actually, if you knew your stuff, you would be aware that most serious Biblical scholars do not deny the historicity of the person Jesus ... they only deny things in the text which hint at the miraculous. They do so, of course, only because they hold a philosophy of history which tacitly disallows anything supernatural. But you do need to be aware of this, because your proposal that there is nothing historical about the gospels is such a miniscule minority among scholarship, that you might want to reconsider. Again, believing and unbelieving scholarship is on my side here.
If you want to say that there's no certainty in historical scholarship, then fine. That would be taking a stand in the shadows of historical agnosticism, in which case most of history will be doubtful to you, and off limits for any serious discussion. But don't continue to lead others to believe that there is a serious segment of historians who deny the existence of Jesus ... unless you want to back it up with more than just "The Grinch says so".
Nobody really agrees with it? What about the Levite?
That's my point. No one agrees that this is a morally upright approach to legitimate needs, except the person who does it ... and then, it's only when he does it, when the rationalization is holding sway. Rationalization usually diverts the moral question, in exchange for thoughts about one's own immediate interests, rather than "establishing another moral code".
The Levite, was also a man of the priesthood in Judaism ... more accountable than most to a high moral standard. Most likely he was acting against his good conscience. Which, in the case of wrongdoing is true of most, including you and I.
You erroneously assume that people are incapable of acting against their moral better judgement ... only doing what was "right" for them at the moment. That doesn't match up with our psychology, including our regrets, and our whole approach to others when they wrong us. When the puzzle piece doesn't fit the whole, maybe it doesn't belong. It's a lot easier to discard the piece than to try and construct a whole new puzzle around it.
Helping a man in true need is a consequence of social interaction and a necessity for interaction to survive.
How does passing up an unfortunate soul, make it harder for the Levite to survive? It is not strictly necessary, that's why we call it morality, and not necessity. There are many cruel people doing just fine, according to their own standards. Do you deny it?
A man runs into a burning building to save a child, the fire department arrive and end up saving the man but the child dies, in a television interview he says ďI thought it was the right thing to doĒ
Do you really think that's a likely scenario? Most people who attempt rescue, and are unsuccessful, have some regretful feelings to work through about their failure, for sure. But regret about their attempt? I doubt it. And I'm quite sure that man who tried to save a baby in a fire, would have had much more remorse if he had never tried.
"I knew I had to try", or "I'm sorry I couldn't save the child", are more likely musings from such a person, than "I thought it was the right thing to do".
If I theorise that moral standards are variable I can predict that thereíll be a variation in the choices people make based upon those standards. As it happens there is evidence of such a variation, which is what I alluded to in my Ďmirrors the real worldí statement.
Why would anyone have to predict the variation of choices people make? That's an already known fact. People make moral choices, immoral choices, and everything in between. There again, this is not predictive but descriptive. It's just stating the obvious.
What you lose when you make moral standards variable, is the ability to choose among them, and to say which are better. Of course I know you have a strong opinion about which are better. And though you would say it's all pragmatic and result oriented, I would still note that interpreting results involves a moral standard. What makes your moral standard better? It's only variable when you theorize here. It is much more absolute when you tell us how you really feel.
I read your reply in the Alley about how reprehensible the Roman Catholic response was to cases of Child Molestation by the priesthood. So did you have a really valid point, or was that just YOUR moral standard? Was the RC church merely operating upon their variation of morals (which case you lose all serious ability to protest), or were they violating even their own moral standards about justice and right action, as taught in the Bible as universally binding? If the former is the case, then all is pretty much subjective. If the latter is the case, then you may have a real and valid ground for moral protest. If the former is the case, then tit for tat. There's a reason why your observations about child molestation resonates within us all ... because it is morally detestable, period.
A universal standard on the other hand would suggest universally similar choices based on that standard, so why doesnít the real world reflect such a prediction?
How many times do I have to repeat myself on this point? A universal moral standard does not dictate moral choices, it only categorizes certain elements of them as moral or immoral. A universal moral standard does not rule out immoral behavior. Conscience is not to be confused with will.
Morality does not rob us of volition. Therefore why do you keep insisting that deviant behavior proves it to be non-existent?
Your conclusion is only correct if you prove your premise ... which is, a universal moral standard would necessarily cause universal moral behavior. But since morality, is by nature volitional, that can't be the case.
Such a premise would be more plausible, if we never acted against our conscience, or better moral judgment. But the autobiographical data of millions and millions of people refute you on this point. Guilt and regret are very real.
The universality of morals, gives rise to a universal belief in real right and wrong, guilty concience, feelings of vindication, and an awareness of justice. And such IS reflected in the real world, transculturally, at every turn.
Because the differences suggest that moral standards differ.
Not really. I just explained that. We often act against our moral insights, therefore differences cannot be rightly used to refute the idea of universal morality. The best of philosophers have admitted that humans are often scoundrels. This is in line with the Judeo-Christian belief in original sin, and the fall.
I canít recall you asking me to, start another thread with a summary of his ideas and Iíll be happy to oblige.
I'll let you read it yourself. Read the entire book if you get a chance (the book is readable online here). Whether you end up agreeing with him or not, Lewis will engage you. And "The Abolition of Man" is one of his best. The following link just gives you an appendix where he has illustrated the many similarities between moral codes of ancient cultures, showing that differences pale before the likenesses.
God doesnít exist Ė I win
obliteration is your victory?
I'm not the biggest fan of Pascal's wager, since it leaves to one side the certainty of faith and revelation, and the accountability and knowledge of even unbelievers. But I think there's some truth, and validity lurking in it. No matter which way you cut it, believers are no worse off than unbelievers, if they proved to be wrong. But believers are infinitely better off than unbelievers, if they prove to be right.
Call it sophistry if you wish, but there's never been an "atheist's wager" that gets anyone in line at the casino.
I feel that such acts are vile when gauged against my own moral standard, which is obviously different to the moral standard of the person(s) that commit such acts. If he, she or they had the same moral standards as me they wouldnít commit the acts. Just because I see something as vile doesnít make it universally vile.
You did say "depraved" and "despicable" in your descriptions earlier. I guess you need to alter your language to fit your real beliefs ... and say that the serial killer, or child rapist is doing something "opinionatively vile", or "preferentially depraved", to indicate that there is really nothing superior in your view, above the perpetrator's view. I'll try and remind you of that next time you mount the ol' soap box.