Dr. Hector Avalos Comments on his Debate with Dr. William Lane Craig

Atheism Sucks has a post deriding Avalos in his debate with Craig. Here is his response...
I greatly hate to disappoint you, but your post contains mainly unsubstantiated claims, and some egregious errors in basic research.

A basic tenet of good research is that you at least check the primary sources. What you have done is to regurgitate comments by Dr. Craig about my previous debate with Dr. Rubel Shelly in 1998, and then assumed that they are correct.

If I am wrong, then could you tell me whether you actually checked the Rubel Shelly debate before you wrote your post?

It is true that I asked Dr. Shelly, in that 1998 debate, to identify some manuscripts of the NT. I did so because HE HAD USED THEM AS PART OF HIS EVIDENCE for the reliability of the NT text. More specifically, he had made the claim that we now had “complete” manuscripts of the NT, and he gave p66 and p75 as examples. He stated:
“Within the last few years, the Bodmer Library of Geneva published an entire copy of the Gospel of John (p66) that dates from about A.D. 200...The entire text of the Gospels of Luke and John, dating from between A.D. 175 and 225, have been published by the Bodmer Library (p75)." (Source: Rubel Shelly, Prepare To Answer [1990], p. 139)

Thus, I expected that he, as a good scholar, would have at least checked to see if his claim was accurate. So I displayed a picture of these manuscripts on the screen before the audience, and asked him if he knew what they were. He did not.

I asked him if they looked complete, even if he did not know what they were. He said that they did not appear complete. Indeed, P75 is not complete, and is quite fragmentary at some points.

Thus, I had most effectively refuted his claim for the audience. Now, could you explain why this would constitute “misconduct” rather than good old-fashioned debating skills?

Indeed, Shelly fared so badly in that debate and his credentials as a biblical scholar were so thoroughly damaged that Craig was brought to Iowa State in 2004 to “bring me down,” as they say. But, as you can see, I am still here and thriving.

Second, Dr. Craig completely misrepresented the availability of the manuscripts. Copies and photos of these manuscripts are a standard part of almost any handbook on NT textual criticism and in some Bible encyclopedias. That also means you are truly a very badly misinformed amateur if you don’t know this.

Some of the copies I displayed came from Jack Finegan’s, Encountering New Testament Manuscripts: A Working Introduction to Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 1974), p. 105.

So, it is not true that you have to go to some vault to see them. Photos are good enough to see whether the manuscripts are complete or not.

I must say that I also found your evaluation of the debate to be meaningless because you are in no position to evaluate some of arguments that were made in that debate. For example, you refer readers to “Part 2-Dr. Craig whips Hector.” That can only be said by someone that does not know biblical studies or Aramaic very well.

Dr. Craig began quite strongly, but ended quite weakly. His closing statement was used to concede, at least twice, that he had made repeated mistakes in his Aramaic as represented in his book, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus...).

Dr. Craig tried to minimize these as “quibbles,” but that minimization is of no use for those who have read how much at least one of his arguments depends on Aramaic.

If you read his Reasonable Faith (p. 275), you will see that he tries to date Mark to the time of the disciples by using the supposed Galilean Aramaic phrase in Mark 16:2 (“on the first day of the week”). He then uses Mark’s supposed direct tie to the disciples’ time to support his FACT 1 (Jesus was buried) and FACT 2 (empty tomb).

What he does not tell readers, and what he was trying to get away with at the debate, is that he was passing off non-Galilean and late, or even Medieval, Aramaic texts as first century Galilean Aramaic.

I would hope you see that this is neither good scholarship nor very honest scholarship---not to mention the fact that it makes one of his supporting evidences for his FACT 1 and FACT 2 completely bogus.

He had another misrepresentation in regard to Josephus. Note what he said:
“We learn from Josephus that James was eventually martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ during a lapse in the civil government in the mid 60s." Source: Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, eds. Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 2000) p. 190.

Compare this with what Josephus actually says, according to a standard edition of Josephus.
“Ananus thought he had a favorable opportunity...And so he convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned.” Source: Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XX.200-201. Edition and Translation of L. H. Feldman (Loeb Classical Library: Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 106-109.

So where is the part about James being “martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ?” Of course, it is not there. Josephus says that James was the brother of Jesus, not that James died for his brother Jesus.

Craig injects his idea of what Josephus should have said. And then he uses this invented tradition to buttress his FACT 4 (the origin of the disciples’ belief). Similar misrepresentations or outright errors permeate his support of every single one of his 4 FACTS.

Indeed, this sort of shoddy scholarship is really one reason why Dr. Craig is not regarded as much of a scholar outside of his narrow circle of apologists. His function is more to comfort believers than to convert those non-believers who actually know the primary sources well.

I also do not think that Dr. Craig capitalized on his supposed expertise in philosophy. His supposed refutation of “naturalism” seemed to be quite inconsistent once I pointed out that he is quite a naturalist when it comes to the religious claims of other religions, and even to the claim of resurrections in Matthew 27:52-53.

Maybe you can explain to me why he won’t call the resurrections in Matthew 27:52-53 “a fact,” but calls the resurrection claim in Mark 16:6 a “fact.” He certainly did not or could not explain the differences.

So I suppose you will have to be more specific as to where in the audio tape “Dr. Craig whipped Hector” or what specific argument you regard as a refutation of my epistemology or a refutation of the claim that theological propositions cannot be verified.

In fact, if Dr. Craig is the best that the Christian apologetic side could muster, then February 5, 2004 was not good day for apologetics. It showed yet another apologist who was not only quite ineffective against an atheist biblical scholar, but also one who had to virtually admit that his knowledge of primary sources and languages is not really up to standard.

As I said, I am still here and thriving even more after that debate.

Please note also that Dr. Craig might have told an outright falsehood when he said (closing remarks) that his Aramaic mistakes were due to “printer’s errors” (Yes, please listen to that audio carefully).

But, his book (Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus...) was prepared as camera-ready copy, which is not subject to printer’s errors if that means mistakes generated when a publisher retyped or reset Dr. Craig’s manuscript.

Camera-ready means that a publisher simply photocopies what Dr. Craig provides. Nonetheless, I checked with his publisher who sent the following e-mail response on Feb. 10, 2004:
"Manuscripts presented to The Edwin Mellen Press are required to be 'camera-ready'. Absolutely NO changes are made in the manuscript from the original presented to our office by the author/editor. We print directly from the original hard copy. There is NO possibility of 'printer's errors' within the text. Any errors are the responsibility of the author/editor."

Mistakes are one thing. Everybody, including myself makes them. Telling lies or untruths about your mistakes is another thing, especially if it means that the Christian apologist is supposed to be more ethical and committed to truth than the atheist scholar.

So it looks as if Dr. Craig will have to explain what he meant by “printer’s errors” or admit that he was not truthful.

That in itself will speak volumes about his credibility, especially with amateurs like yourself who do not have the scholarly equipment to verify much of anything he is saying anyway.

So, yes, check out Part 2 of that Craig-Avalos debate, and get back to me on the issues I posed above. Specifically, please answer the following questions if you would be so kind:

1. Did you listen to the Shelly debate, or were you just parroting what Dr. Craig said about the Shelly debate at the time you wrote your post?

2. What specifically constitutes misconduct in my refutation of Dr. Shelly’s knowledge of manuscripts HE CITED AS EVIDENCE?

3. Have you read Dr. Shelly’s book, Prepare to Answer...?

4. How would you describe the honesty and integrity of a person, who repeats things others say without checking the primary sources?

5. Do you think it is proper for a scholar to represent late or even Medieval Aramaic as first century Galilean Aramaic?

6. Do you know Aramaic?

7. Could you determine why Dr. Craig says that he had printer’s errors in his book when his publisher indicates printer’s errors are not possible when simply photocopying what Dr. Craig gives them?

8. Could you tell me why Dr. Craig does not believe in the historicity of the resurrections reported in Matthew 27:52-53?

9. Do you believe in the historicity of the resurrections reported in Matthew 27:52-53? Why or why not?

44 comments:

goprairie said...

That website smacks of middle school immaturity. The mere name is meanspirited and hatefulled and the silly vote on who is the worst smacks of clicques bad-repping individuals to exclude and bully them. I do not know why you give it any credibility by reading it or responding to it or referring us to it. It reveals the dark side of Christian fear of logic and the use of dark bullying and ridicule, it reveals the capacity for hatred and meanness that a religion is capable of, rather than logic and intellect. Let them be to their own self-feeding and keep to the high ground here.

John W. Loftus said...

I understand gopraire. But that site, while still very offensive and juvenile, has some better contributors to it now. The story is that Frank Walton was going to quit blogging and so others asked if they could take the site over for him. I don't think Walton will quit, though. But they are now team members and they are respectful, even if Walton is the same.

Still, aren't you glad Avalos was able to clear up any misconceptions from the debate regardless of the source of the questions?

GordonBlood said...

Hmm the atheism sucks blog on Avalos was quite ugly at times (in fairness the lovely response by "rational response squad jr" that all Christians were stupid didnt lighten the decor. Avalos, I am sure, is a good scholar and is certainly well respected (the fact he wrote several articles for the Ocford Guide to the Bible or whatever it was called (editted by Metzger and Coogan) is proof of that. I do wonder if late aramaic however is a problem. Is it not probable that later translators simply used their form of aramaic? Im ignorant of that particular discussion however so I will bite my tongue, but if I understand what is being said correctly I would think it containing late aramaic to not be a problem.

GordonBlood said...

Hmmm just another issue with Dr. Avalos that I noticed. While it is true that the Josephus reerence may not be crystal clear a reasonable inducation can be made that it is referring to martyrdom. If it were not, why refer to Jesus as "Christ" and not simply a political revolutionary or whatnot. Just some thoughts on the matter. Concerning the "copyist" error its obviously not my place to say but Craig could have obviously meant editting or even mis-typing, though obviously it is unclear. I imagine if asked Craig would have a more genuine response.

Vinny said...

Regarding Craig's scholarship, I recently obtained a copy of A.N. Sherwin-White's Roman Law and Roman Society in the New Testament in order to examine the basis for Craig's "rate of legendary accumulation" argument. I am a complete amateur as a historian, but as an attorney, I have some experience in determining whether a cited authority actually supports the proposition for which it is cited. I would put Craig's reliance on Sherwin-White somewhere between disingenuous and blatantly dishonest. http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/search/label/A.N.%20Sherwin-White

Rational Response Squad Jr. said...

You go, boy! Man, Avalos handed Walton' ass in a platter. Avalos expected an undergrad like Frank to know Armaic, and do all the studies of a PhD guy. That's thinking, Dr. Avalos! Only scholars like you would deduce this from an undergrad.

GordonBlood said...

Vinny my general understanding of the argument is that it is using Pauls references in Corinthians, which are reliably dated by most scholars to be going back approximately 5-10 years after the crucifixion (I refer not to th document itself, but to the formula that is believed to have been gotten from James). Indeed, I do believe Craig will go so far as the 30 years, but the 5-10 is far more interesting. What it essentially means is that the belief in ressurection was, if anything, quite early. To my knowledge most scholars are quite willing to concede, at the very least, that the early Christians certainly BELIEVED Jesus to have risen from the dead.

Vinny said...

Gordon,

I am familiar with the argument based on 1 Corinthians 15 that the belief in the resurrection goes back to an early date, although it seems to me that Paul says in Galatians 1 that he got his information by direct revelation from Christ rather than from the other apostles.

In any case, Craig also relies on A.N. Sherwin-White to argue that the original stories could not have undergone significant legendary corruption by the time they were recorded in the gospels. In The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel claims that this argument "clinched it" for him and he is currently hammering it in his sermons. It is an argument that I think grossly misrepresents what Sherwin-White actually had to say as I detail on my blog.

GordonBlood said...

Oh yes, well it is certainly possible that Dr. Craig (whatever persons may think of him, he has an immaculate education) may place more emphasis on Sherwin-White's work then is granted. However, at the very least Sherwin-White (a Catholic himself) has done a considerable amount of research on the topic and at the very least Craig seems to be justified in saying that such an occurence is to be considered unlikely a pure myth. Of course even if this wasnt true it neither proves nor (significantly) increases the probability of the ressurection, it is what I would call a "thin" piece of data.

Vinny said...

Gordon,
I think that is a very charitable description of what Craig did with Sherwin-White's work.

Landon said...

Rational Response Squad Jr.'s comment is pretty amusing. In case you haven't noticed, Jr., Frank Walton makes bold assertions over at his blog all the time, calling his intellectual superiors "stupid" or "idiot" on a regular basis. But of course you probably *do* know that, don't you, Jr.? ;-)

Case in point. Walton wrote of Avalos:

"To me, Hector is a complete ass."

"That's just the beginning of Hector's past misconducts and unprofessional attitude!" (emphasis on the accusation of misconduct and unprofessional attitude--both of which apply to Walton himself arguably more than anybody else on the planet)

He also implies an accusation of "unscholarly research" at the end of his blog post.

Of course, Walton isn't qualified to speak about any of this. That doesn't stop him from posting his opinions as if they mean something to somebody. And of course he didn't actually check the Rupert Shelley debate before he posted his comment. I look forward to Frank's answers to the nine questions that Dr. Avalos asked him.

Rational Response Squad Jr. said...

Thank you, Landon. Yeah, that Franky sure can use a book on logic. Avalos believes that unless you know Aramaic you can't comment on the Bible. That probably means my atheist friends can't comment on the Bible then since they don't know Aramaic. Well, only idiots like Frank can't comment. But my friends can. That seems fair.

GordonBlood said...

As I understand Avalos I doubt he would want to say that one cannot comment on the bible lest one know the original languages. That would not only be a rediculous argument but it would also make biblical scholarship very very difficult. Why you ask? Translators are not (necessarily) historians and they certainly arent archaeologists. Once a text is translated however I think it is quite fair game for persons to argue over its context, historical significance, theological significance (obviously the later will not interest all persons who visit this blog) etc.

IrishFarmer said...

although it seems to me that Paul says in Galatians 1 that he got his information by direct revelation from Christ rather than from the other apostles

Not quite. The verses in question Galations 1:11-12 don't necessarily say what you think they say.

Consider 11:1

"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man."

Simply means the gospel didn't come from man. The word "kata" (translated as "after") there means, "a preposition denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower..." -Thayer's Lexicon

In other words, the ultimate authority on Paul's gospel is God, not man. Which makes sense in the context of telling the Galatians not to abandon the gospel to go after the words of men who would "pervert" it.

"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Seems to be a reference to his miraculous conversion in the middle of persecuting Christians.

I would say then, this has nothing to do with whether or not the gospels were around already.

Even if I'm wrong, whether or not Paul had read the gospels, still has nothing to do with whether or not they were penned before this letter.

Vinny said...

IrishFarmer,

I fully agree that 1 Galatians has nothing to do with whether the gospel was around before Paul's experience on the road to Damascus. It has to do with how Paul received it which he seems to saying was by direct revelation from Christ.

Landon said...

Jr.,

Of course, Franky wasn't making comments about the Bible, he was making comments about Dr. Avalos (and unwarranted comments at that).

But again, I really look forward to seeing Frank answer the questions that Dr. Avalos asked him. If you know where to find him, Jr., please let him know we're all dying in anticipation. Maybe since Dr. Avalos is such an "ass" and since his research is "unscholarly" Frank can take him on. Maybe somebody can host a public debate between them, since Frank is so qualified to refute his intellectual superiors. Wait, that would be a bit like Samuel Poling debating Paul Herrick.

GordonBlood said...

Perhaps the only thing I would say that probly some of the non-religious fellows here will disagree with me on is the tone of Avalos's is writing. For example, the printing episode. Now it is fair to ask what Craig meant by this, but it could easily refer simply to mis-spellings made by the editor of his work. Concerning mis-translations I understand that realistically this does happen quite alot, though I am not sure what it was Dr. Craig mistranslated (im not aware, obviously, of what it was). I suppose what I am saying is that to accuse the man of (or even inserting the possibility) that he was being intentionally dishonest or whatnot is a very strong claim to make and unless it can be substantiated should be left out of "clean" debate, especially if Craig simply meant that mistranslated MAY have resulted as a result of said error. With all this said however I certainly think the tone that persons like Frank have is certainly not warranted and is quite disrespectful. As a Christian I really have a tough time picturing St. Paul trying to convert people by calling them an obtuse cuss.

Vinny said...

Gordon,

On the other hand, Craig accused Avalos of misconduct with respect to the earlier debate. I don't see how he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Steven Carr said...

IRISH FARMER
Simply means the gospel didn't come from man.

CARR
Doesn't this guy know basic Christianity like the doctrine that Jesus was fully human?

And weren't the disciples human? Did Paul get the gospels from the disciples?


IRISH FARMER
The word "kata" (translated as "after") there means, "a preposition denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower..." -

CARR
So that is why the Gospels are entitled 'Kata Mark'

They were diffused from a higher to a lower direction....

Shoving in a random bit of Greek is not impressive, if it all it does is illustrate how little you know of what Greek words mean.

Paul got his gospel by revelation.

Paul also claimed to have gone to Heaven.

What converted a person who believes he can go to Heaven?

That is a task for a psychiatrist, not an historian.

John W. Loftus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AndreLinoge said...

Atheism Sucks=J.P. Holding wannabees.
He's the inspiration behind their rude shtick.

Vinny said...

Looks like Frank Walton updated his entry and once again attacks who I am.

You have my sympathy. Back in my newsgroup posting days, I experimented with pseudonymous posting out of frustration with certain trolls. Unlike you, I simply stopped doing it without ever fessing up. Walton will never let you forget it, but I think most people will view it as a minor misstep on the way to finding your online voice, particularly given your principled civility since that time.

Landon said...

Walton's response to Avalos is amusing, as expected. He writes:

"My post wasn't about research or the New Testament manuscripts, but about your conduct of debate. How hard is that for your scholarly mind to figure out?"

In actual fact, Walton accused Avalos of "unscholarly research" at the end of the post, so it *is* about research. And since Frank thinks that Dr. Craig demolished Avalos in their debate, he's making a claim about Avalos being wrong in his arguments and Dr. Craig being correct in his. So the post *does* have to do with the manuscripts.

In regards to the conduct, Walton shows no sign that he checked the original debate to clarify the issue that he took straight from Dr. Craig's mouth. Then Frank writes to Avalos:

"you wanted to prove that Dr. Shelly was incompetent about his research. You were attacking the man and not his argument. You could have simply said that he was wrong with his homework. Instead, you set him up to make him look like a fool. Publicly embarrassing people is your standard of conduct."

Actually, Dr. Avalos has attempted to make it clear that he was demonstrating that Shelly didn't know what he was talking about. How this is an "attack on the man" is beyond me. If Dr. Avalos shows that Shelly is incorrect by asking him to identify a source that he is making claims about, there's no attack on the man there at all, just a good clean rebuttal. Frank wanted Avalos to take it easy on Shelly and simply tell him that he's "wrong with his homework," yet that alone would not constitute the rebuttal that Avalos was trying to make.

And Frank doesn't have a platform to speak to us about the morality of dialog anyway, given that he trashes virtually every non-Christian that he can on his blog, as is evidenced in his updated response to Avalos when he calls John Loftus all sorts of names. (Yes, when an undergraduate know-it-all gets schooled by an actual scholar, he sometimes lashes out at in anger, as Frank did.)

Frank attempts to downplay the importance of Dr. Avalos when he writes: "I never heard of you until Dr. Craig debated you. So much for thriving!" Yet anybody can see that Frank's hearing of a person has no bearing on whether or not that person is engaging in good scholarly work. So much for thriving, Dr. Avalos, because Frank Walton hadn't heard of you until you debated Dr. Craig! You call that thriving! Ha!

When Dr. Avalos accused Dr. Craig of "[misrepresenting] the availability of the manuscripts," Frank says in reply:

"What you're doing now is venting your frustration on Dr. Craig after he obviously pummeled your arguments into a million little pieces. Again, the point of my initial post was your standard of unprofessional conduct in a formal debate, not Dr. Craig's arguments about the manuscripts. You're changing the subject..."

In actual fact, Dr. Avalos is pointing out exactly why he doesn't think Dr. Craig "pummeled his arguments" in the debate. Frank accused Avalos of "unscholarly research" and said that Dr. Avalos lost the debate badly, yet when Dr. Avalos points out that Dr. Craig misrepresented the "facts," all Frank can do is say that this wasn't the issue at all, and that all he (Frank) wanted to comment about was that Dr. Avalos had acted irresponsibly in his debate against Shelly--which Frank has STILL not shown to be true! Frank is the one changing the subject here. If you think Dr. Craig "pummeled the arguments" of Dr. Avalos, perhaps you can just utilize Dr. Craig's arguments and show that Dr. Avalos is wrong.

Also, Frank never responded to the questions Dr. Avalos asked. Two in particular stand out:

"What specifically constitutes misconduct in my refutation of Dr. Shelly’s knowledge of manuscripts HE CITED AS EVIDENCE?" (All Frank has done is declare that it's an attack on the person.)

and

"How would you describe the honesty and integrity of a person, who repeats things others say without checking the primary sources?"

Some of the others are easier to answer, and I think I can do it for Frank.

(1) No, Frank did not listen to the Shelly debate before posting his comment.

(3) No, Frank has not read Shelly's book.

(6) No, Frank doesn't know Aramaic.

(9) If Dr. Craig believes in those resurrections, Frank probably does too.

Tim said...

CARR said...
Paul also claimed to have gone to Heaven.


This is interesting. When did St. Paul ever make such a claim?

Landon said...

In the comments section of his own blog, Frank wrote:

"Would it have killed Avalos to simply say that Shelly was wrong about the NT manuscripts without spiting Shelly in an embarrassing way? But, no, Avalos had to be an ass about it."

Pots and kettles come to mind... And Frank has *still* not shown that Dr. Avalos was acting inappropriately in his debate with Shelly, he is merely asserting it.

klas_klazon said...

Haha! Atheists are in Crank Bolton's head 24/7. I can see his constantly crimson face and steam emitting ears in front of me.

BTW, landon, it's not very nice of you to publicly embarass Bolton like that. A simple "Bolton is wrong" would have been much more appropriate.

paulj said...

Re. Paul in heaven:
"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
See the Wiki article on Third Heaven

Bertram Cabot, Jr. said...

Dr Avalos is a fundamentalist. Everything is black and white. He was a fundamentalist evangelist, and now he is a fundamentalist atheist.

This is demonstrated by his statement in his book Fighting Words, that his goal is the ELIMINATION OF RELIGION in the PUBLIC AND PRIVATE life.

Now how could that possibly be achieved without force? There will always be someone who does not see things your way, as John has often, and accurately, pointed out.

His mindset is a dangerous as any fundie.

And yet the complaint is made that the Atheism Sucks site is offensive.
Well, with leading atheists saying Christians are Delusional (Dawkins), Child Abusers (Dawkins and Dennet), that they belong in zoos (Dennet), or that people can be killed for their BELIEFS if the beliefs are deemed dangeous (Harris, and deedmed by who, one wonders)I am not sure the athesim movement has any room to make a judgment.

John W. Loftus said...

Bertram Cabot, Jr. is "The man who was never born." Another one of Frank Walton's names I think. And it is YOU who sees things in black and white.

klas_klazon said...

John, why are you still letting young Frankie boy post here? I don't know how blogs work, but isn't it possible to just block him?

John W. Loftus said...

Klas, the only way to do this is to moderate comments, and I want the discussion to flow freely rather than wait for hours while I am away from the computer to do so. He's a prick.

klas_klazon said...

Aha, I see. Someone should suggest to the programmers that they add a blocking function, then.

Landon said...

Over at his own blog, Frank has continued to make the same accusations over and over. For example, he simply declares that "What Avalos did was quite unprofessional." He finally tries to give evidence for that claim, writing: "You publicly made him look like an incompetent fool when you knew well he did not have access to the original manuscripts."

On the contrary, Avalos pointed out that the picture that he used in the debate was a picture that Shelly should have had easy access to in his studies. If Shelly was making claims about the document, and the picture of the document which is found in easy-to-access textbooks refutes Shelly's claim, then using the picture to disprove Shelly is not unprofessional. Frank just doesn't want to let go of this criticism because he knows it's the only thing he has against Avalos. Avalos *already told him* that the pictures of the manuscripts are not hard to come by, writing:

"Copies and photos of these manuscripts are a standard part of almost any handbook on NT textual criticism and in some Bible encyclopedias."

If the photos of the manuscripts are as easy to come by as Dr. Avalos claims, then how would he have any idea that Shelly didn't have access to said photos? Frank obviously doesn't prove his claims, he just makes them.

When Frank finally gets around to answering the questions that Dr. Avalos asked him, it's really quite humorous. First of all, he still doesn't give a straight answer (like the answers that I already provided for Frank in a previous comment).

Instead of simply saying "No, I didn't check the Shelly debate before posting my comment about you being an ass and unscholarly," Frank has to resort to saying things like (paraphrased) "You admitted it already, so there's no need to check the original debate," and "What does this have to do with my opinion that Dr. Craig beat you in your debate with him?"

There are two statements here, so let's take them one at a time. First, Dr. Avalos was saying that you should have checked the original debate because you would have gotten an understanding of his purpose in refuting Shelly as he did.

Secondly, Frank thinks this is off topic because it doesn't have anything to do with his opinion that Dr. Craig beat Dr. Avalos in the debate. Isn't it strange how earlier Frank wanted to claim that the content of the debate wasn't the point of the original post, and that the original point was just that Dr. Avalos had acted unprofessionally? And that now Frank is avoiding the original Shelly debate and sticking to his guns, so to speak, while declaring that his original point was simply that Dr. Craig beat Dr. Avalos in the debate?

If Frank's main point is that Dr. Craig beat Dr. Avalos, as his comments are beginning to suggest, then why did he write in response to Dr. Avalos:

"Again, the point of my initial post was your standard of unprofessional conduct in a formal debate, not Dr. Craig's arguments about the manuscripts. You're changing the subject..."

Well, Frankie boy, which is it? What *was* your point? And are you going to stand behind any of your claims and back them up?

Instead of simply saying "No, I haven't read Shelly's book, so I don't know exactly what he claimed. If I *had* read Shelly's book, perhaps I would understand the context in which you refuted him," Frank essentially says "What does reading Shelly's book have to do with the fact that Dr. Craig beat you in the debate?" Yet since we've seen that Frank's original post had *two* points (one to accuse Avalos of unprofessional tactics, and one to claim that Dr. Craig beat Avalos in their debate), we can see that Frank's comment here is disingenuous. He knows that Avalos was addressing the first point (about whether or not he--Avalos, that is--acted unprofessionally) yet he asks what it has to do with the second point. Frank, I already provided the easy answer for you: "No, I have not read the book."

Dr. Avalos asks Frank: "Do you think it is proper for a scholar to represent late or even Medieval Aramaic as first century Galilean Aramaic?" Instead of giving a straight answer, he simply says, again, "What does this have to do with the fact that in my opinion you got stomped in your debate with Dr. Craig?"

Indeed, how are these two things related at all? Perhaps Dr. Avalos is pointing out that Dr. Craig misrepresented facts in the debate in an attempt to show that Dr. Craig "clearly winning the debate" is not all it seems. *Perhaps* that's what it has to do with your unscholarly appraisal of the debate, Frank.

Essentially, Frank does the same thing as he answers the rest of Dr. Avalos' questions. Instead of just giving a straight answer, he essentially asks "What does that have to do with the fact that I think Dr. Craig pummeled you in the debate?" The connection seems quite clear. If it turns out that Frank doesn't know what the heck he's talking about, then his judgment on the debate is basically worthless. *That's* what it has to do with it Frank.

At the end of his comment, Frank admits that he does believe that at the time that Jesus died, "a horde of zombies descended upon Jerusalem," (in the words of Richard Carrier). What historical evidence is there for this claim, I wonder? Frank's reply: he finds the gospels to be historically reliable. Thank you, historian Frank.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

I don't have the pleasure of kowing him,
but Landon has posted some excellent and
well-reasoned replies. I could not have
said it better myself.

Mr. Walton might also benefit from Dr.
Craig's own remarks quoted in the Iowa
State Daily on the day after the debate (February 6, 2004):

Craig said he enjoyed the dialogue with Avalos very much and he thought there was no ill will between them.

"Both Avalos and I conducted ourselves with the proper tone and behavior," Craig said.

http://www.iowastatedaily.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=ae7ceaea-a346-1028-a55e-75b0145261f1

My hat also off to Vinny, whose post on the misuse
of Sherwin-White deserves more attention,
and I will post something on this soon.

John W. Loftus said...

For easy access to what Hector just linked to click here.

Landon said...

Dr. Avalos,

Frank does this kind of thing to all of his intellectual superiors (as long as they're non-Christians) and none of his own friends ever call him out on his nonsense. So I just feel like somebody ought to do it.

I used to post on his website but he moderates the comments and never allows comments to be posted if they refute what he says. Now over here I have a place to post my comments and I know that Frank reads them.

Matthew said...

Mr. Walton never ceases to amaze me. I have seen some of his comments quoted on this blog and I am amazed at Walton's hypocrisy here! It's almost as bad as Holding's hypocrisy! Consider the following statements:

"To me, Hector is a complete ass."

Dr. Avalos was a complete ass? That doesn't sound like the Dr. Avalos that I know of! But here's the rub: if this criticism is legitimate in any way it would take a Christian critic of Avalos who is a lot more humble and loving than Mr. Walton himself. Don't most atheists who are the subjects of Walton's hit-pieces complain about him? Before Mr. Walton complains about how much of an ass Avalos is, perhaps he should criticize Mr. Holding. But no, because Walton and other folks such as "Darren" seem to utterly adore Mr. Holding. Perhaps Mr. Walton can be convinced to criticize Mr. Holding for being an ass! I doubt it though. I find this amazing! How can folks like Walton and Holding not see the complete hypocrisy of their remarks?

"That's just the beginning of Hector's past misconducts and
unprofessional attitude!"

If Avalos was unprofessional and misconducted himself, then only a humble Christian would be in a position to make this criticism. I am utterly amazed that Walton would have the nerve to type this! He reminds me of Ann Coulter. I read Coulter's book Slander a while back and I recall one chapter she spent complaining about the lack of manners and professionalism among political liberals because they resort to name-calling when they tell conservatives that "they're stupid". Then, in her book Treason she makes the remark that liberals are either traitors or idiots!

For someone who complains bitterly about unprofessional behavior and the hateful adolescent name-calling of liberals, she apparently has no qualms about dishing this kind of abuse out herself.

Like Coulter, I have known Walton to engage in unprofessional behavior and act like a complete ass and yet he has the gall to dish it out to Dr. Avalos. And this is beside the fact that Holding is as unprofessional as they come!

The biggest problem of all is that if I complain or criticize Walton or Holding, knowing them as I do the back of my hand, they will just try to redirect the criticism back at me or try and redirect the criticism elsewhere because they apparently think no one is allowed to criticize them. I sincerely wish that folks like Coulter, Walton, and Holding will realize that their shit stinks like the rest of ours.

Matthew

Landon said...

Matthew, you're completely within reason in grouping Holding, Walton, and Coulter together. As far as I can tell, Walton idolizes Holding, and they both idolize Ann Coulter (though I would even argue that Holding exceeds Coulter's intellect).

You're right though, Walton has no credibility complaining that other people are unprofessional (even though he STILL has not shown that Dr. Avalos was acting unprofessionally, he merely asserted it). I've never seen Holding complain about such behavior (perhaps he's bright enough to catch his own hypocrisy).

Scary Jesus said...

It's interesting to note that the other day Frank Walton posted this comment in response to a frequent atheist poster;

As always, is it too hard for your dumb ass to actually comment on the nature of the actual blog post? You obviously didn't watch the video clips.

One of his crew, the guy named M, called him out on it and apologized pretty much by proxy for others who had been similarly abused by Frank. The next day however it was removed along with M, chastisement.

That Frank Walton site picked it up in the "comment of the day" balloon(you've got to click to the previous couple of sayings to see it) but unfortunately didn't screen cap it.


http://frankwaltonchronicle.blogspot.com/

I'm willing to bet that his new contributers are going to soon tire of his drivel, as they seem to be the only ones posting anything remotely intelligent.
It's going to be fun to watch.

Plus he's completely stopped allowing my posts completely after I praised M for standing on principle.

John G. Deering said...

I am said "dumb ass". As a favor to Jesus, I'm trying to see if the guys can get Frank to start acting something like a Christian, a good one that is. It seems the least I can do, even for someone I don’t believe was God. I'm pretty damn sure Yeshua didn't believe He was God either, regardless of what "John" says.

Hang in there Yesu. I'm workin' on it but don’t look for my name at Atheism Sucks! because you won't find it. I've been left to die on the side of the road by the pious. Has anyone seen a Samaritan around because Frankie Boy has walked right on by, as expected…

Landon said...

Scary Jesus,

I saw Frank's comment when it was posted, but I never saw the comment by "M". I'm not surprised that Frank was lectured though, since his very existence as a Christian apologist does a great disservice to the religion in general and Christian apologetics specifically. I can only hope that he eventually matures, apologizes for all of the stuff he's done in the past, and begins to engage in good, scholarly apologetics.

At this point, the other contributors on his blog are infinitely more reasonable and respectable than he is.

adamB said...

Dr Avalos,

First respect for providing Dr Craig by far the strongest opposition of all the debates I’ve seen on the awesome atheism sucks.

If only leading atheists like Dawkins, Harris , HItchens & Dennet had the courage of their convictions like you do and would accept Craig’s challenge… Far more of the public would get the chance to see how much more valid the truth of Christianity is compared to atheist propaganda.

Anyways Id like to try and answer one of your questions.



Maybe you can explain to me why he won’t call the resurrections in Matthew 27:52-53 “a fact,” but calls the resurrection claim in Mark 16:6 a “fact.” He certainly did not or could not explain the differences.


It all comes down to corroborating evidence. There’s abundant corroborating evidence, for Mark 16, at least for verse 1 – 8. But there’s not much back up for the mass resurrection hinted at in Mat 27.

Also, the best confirmation for biblical truth is the Holy Spirit Herself, who will sometimes guide us about issues we think deeply on.

John 16:13
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth

In my case, I was concerned for years about the possibility of some souls suffering eternally in Hell, and the Holy Ghost has perhaps helped me to see that the correct interpretation of scripture is that Christ’s blood will ultimately cleanse us all of sin, even those who don’t believe, and that Heaven is the final destination for all.

Dr Craig is deeply concerned about the historicity of the Gospels and so perhaps the Holy Ghost has helped him with Mark 16 but not Mat 27: 52 – 53.

So he is quite right to say he’s unsure about that verse. There doesn’t have to be a yes / no answer to everything. Some times the most honest answer is to say we don’t know.

Steven Carr said...

Will William Lane Craig have the courage of his convictions and debate Jeffery Jay Lowder, or Doug Krueger of the Internet Infidels?

Craig debated Eddie Tabash of II, and guess what? Craig is now most reluctant to debate Tabash again...

adamB said...

Hi Stephen,

Just watched a debate featuring Lowder on atheism sucks - a flawless opening statement and I haven't thought that about an atheist before.

It would certainly be fascinating to see Lowder go up against Dr Craig. Even if Lowder wins that would still be a good thing - the more successful atheists are in gathering support, the more likely God is to counter by blessing us with divine encounters. Theres already good reason to think God might be loosening the boundary between the supernatural and natural world. Scientists are increasingly finding testable and verifiable evidence of the spirit world, I've posted links to the primary scientific literature here:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=14398630&postID=5229584231104600243

I know some atheists are as spiritually aware as the rest of us and will never change their views based on evidence, but for folk with an objective scientific outlook this kind of evidence is devastating to faith in atheism.

Such is Christ's love for us He wont allow folk like Lowder to win, no matter how good his debating skills.