Dismissing the Possible

So someone presents you with an argument in favor of a proposition you believe is false, based on no evidence presented whatsoever. How do you, as a skeptic respond and still try to retain the persons friendship, or just a dialogue?

I honestly despise those who’s first comeback is “citation(s) necessary”. Sometimes the person may not have the necessary citations readily available. Not all propositions are equally treated by the way. Some are readily dismissed by mainstream scholars – without being able to absolutely refute.

Let me use just one example: The historicity of Jesus. There’s a growing, albeit small number of historians and bible scholars that claim that this person, “Jesus”, never existed. I’ve read several different authors myself and in the main, as a layman, the arguments presented are compelling.

It’s not the same as “Bigfoot”, or “Ancient Aliens”, it looks to me at least as being real scholarship. So why is it in this case that so many biblical scholars reject this thesis out of hand?

Of course there are many biblical scholars that are believers, and I’m not referring to the apologetical, but those that on the surface seem to not have n opinion one way or the other.

When it comes down to “mythology” or “historic”, these seem to come down on the side of the latter. I’ve been doing a great deal of reading on both “sides” of this minor debate and I honestly, again as a layman, cannot find one good argument for the historicists.

The point here is that both sides end up presenting similar evidence with differing interpretations of what that evidence means. If we were just to take the word of the “mainstream”, there’d be no burgeoning controversy because no one would believe the interpretation of the other side of the argument.

Some things are just fact. No denial, no “evidence” against those facts can counter what is known. That’s science in the main.

What about other subjects, like above, that seem to be a small but growing debate? Have you done any reading/research?

As usual, your comments are welcome.

2 thoughts on “Dismissing the Possible

  1. I’m with you that the “citations please” response is thoroughly absurd, especially when it surfaces on Twitter. The last time I received it, I provided citations to a couple of scholarly books. The person asking responded that they were too expensive and why couldn’t I just send a URL containing all the information detailed in the books. The same has happened when I shared references to peer-reviewed journal articles. Too many of those demanding citations don’t seem to understand what that means.

  2. I can’t recall having used the “citation please” response, though I do commonly ask for a person to provide evidence for assertions or claims they make that are presented as fact. I see this all too often on the internet. Many people will make a claim as though it is an self-evident fact. They offer no data or evidence for the claim. It is just an assertion until you can provide evidence that supports it. And it is not limited to religious claims. I see it in posting and comments people offer about economics, history, politics. Often I see some making sweeping generalizations about some particular demographic and then offer no data to support the claim. It annoys me to no end. I shoot back with a demand for evidence to support the contention. More often than not the reply is just a restatement of the original claim, as if saying it a second time makes it any truer or more correct than the first time it was said. Unless the writer makes it unambiguously clear they are stating an opinion, it is, I think, incumbent upon the person making a claim to offer up evidence for it. Otherwise, why should I accept the claim?

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