A rebuttal to a rebuttal

A rebuttal to a rebuttal

The cat is finally out of the bag – Reji is a former Christian. How do we know? Reji said so in his article, which you can read here! But that’s not it. We have another ex, vouching for his ex-status – Mayaram. There’s more to the story, though. Not only does she confirm his Ex-Christian status, but she also shared the information that He’s currently working as a pastor and in some seminary. He’s trapped in the cult:

Interestingly, Reji later in the article talks about his ethics but working as a Pastor even though he’s a Hindu is ethical!

Apology?

There are some strange terminologies thrown around by Reji that elude me. Reji says,

Please check all my articles so far and find an evidence for me using my Christian name as an apology. I don’t know how can a name be an apology?

I have no clue what he means here. Seems like he’s responding to my comment that the “Ex-Christian” title lends credibility to one’s claims. If he’s claiming that he never uses his name to make his arguments seem credible, then he misunderstood my point. He doesn’t have to explicitly do that. It’s implicit. It’s subtle.

Christian Scholars?

Reji gets a lot of things completely wrong. When I said Reji considers miracles as a myth, he conflates it with who first called it a myth:

It was not Mission Kaali or me who called miracles myths. Rather, it was Christian scholars over several centuries who referred to stories of miracles in the gospels as myth.

I find it a little amusing that Reji would say such a thing. It’s not about the question as to who first called it a myth, it’s about whether you consider it a myth or not.

Anyways, I would like to point out how Reji’s use of certain terminologies is not only troubling but outright ridiculous. He refers to David Hume, Spinoza, and Rudolf Bultmann as Christian scholars! Christian Scholars!!! Let that sink in. David Hume was a Skeptic philosopher, who didn’t believe in anything that would make him a Christian. Spinoza was a philosopher of Jewish origin. Bultmann was a liberal scholar who cannot be considered a Christian in the normal sense of the word. Reji is misleading Hindus by hiding their true identity and projecting them as Christian scholars.

Not only that, he goes on to call them established scholars in Christian theology! Neither David Hume nor Spinoza was a theologian. Bultmann was a liberal German theologian, but I’m not sure based on what Reji considers him an established theologian! Not even sure what he means by the word ‘established’. We will have to wait to hear Reji’s argument to support his claim.

Miracles

David Hume

Reji’s first attempt to argue against miracles is to seek refuge in Hume. He writes:

David  Hume, a British philosopher, began to question the validity and possibility of miracles. He denied miracles because they are a violation of natural laws. Nature is moving on a course of certain rules and in order for a miracle to happen these rules needs to change. Some Christians challenge this position by asking why can’t a good God intervene the laws and change them? But majority of the time, natural laws are functioning interdependent. And a change in one definitely affects others also.

It is necessary to take a closer look at how Hume defines miracles – violation of natural laws. I don’t see how a miracle can break a natural law, because natural laws speak only about natural events. Supernatural events are outside the scope of natural laws. Also, Hume’s definition of miracles is a question-begging fallacy. According to him, since natural laws cannot be violated, therefore miracles don’t happen. It is also significant to point out that “natural laws” are descriptive, not prescriptive. They tell us how the world generally operates, but they don’t control what happens in it.

Let’s consider an example: if I drop a pen, the law of gravity tells us that it will fall onto the floor. But if I were to catch it midair, I won’t be violating the law of gravity, I would merely be intervening. Nothing has changed here. The Law of gravity is still keeping me grounded! What Reji fails to understand is that the “law of nature” describes what happens when there is no agent involved who is acting on the causal order. I’m not sure which Christians say that God intervenes and changes the laws, that to me looks like a strawman argument.

I like how C.S. Lewis defines a miracle,

The divine art of miracles is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into the patterns.

Lewis, Miracles, p. 81

He has also attached an image with a David Hume quote that says,

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.

This is another way of saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But this in itself is an extraordinary claim and therefore self-defeating. Another problem that I find with such claims is that it leads us to the problem of infinite regression. The argument suggests that you need miraculous evidence for a miraculous claim. But then you will need miraculous evidence for the evidence to be miraculous and so forth leading to infinite regression.

Spinoza and Bultmann

Reji quotes them but doesn’t provide any evidence to support their claims. It is an appeal to authority fallacy – he thinks that the claim made by these experts is true because they said it is true but doesn’t provide any evidence. So, I’ll leave it there.

Pre-scientific era

Reji claims, “The miracles happened a pre-scientific era, so proper enquirers were not done. ” This is another way of saying that only gullible people believe in miracles. But even in the Bible, we see that Jesus’s disciples (for example Thomas) were initially reluctant to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Joseph didn’t take virgin Mary’s word seriously, but it took an angel to convince him. We can go on and on about how so many were skeptical of a miracle claim in the scriptures. What does this tell us? It helps us to understand that they knew how nature functioned and they were able to recognize something unusual. The assumption behind Reji’s comment is that modern people (in the era of science) are smarter than the people of antiquity. C.S. Lewis called this the “Chronological snobbery”.

Miracles in other religions

A strawman is all I can see here. Reji claims,

And the most interesting part of the story is that other than Jesus Christ no other deities of any other religions have the freedom to violate the natural laws! That is the monopoly of Jesus Christ and those who believe in him. That alone proves that the miracles of Jesus are a fanciful result of identifying him as god ! 

At this point, I can’t tell whether Reji has read the scriptures properly or not. Scripture is replete with passages that talk about the possibility of a miracle in other religions – Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Thess. 2:9-10, Rev, 13:13; 16:14. I don’t see why God in his gracious will, wouldn’t allow a miracle in other religious settings for greater purposes.

Do we need to know the nature of the miracle before we believe it?

In my previous article, I showed how Reji gets the story wrong. He questioned whether the boy had his supper or not which is demonstrably false. He also claimed that ‘Jesus took away the boys supper’ which also becomes a false claim in light of the careful reading of the texts. He presented the scenario as if Jesus took away the supper for the miracle – which I showed is a caricature. Surprisingly, Reji doesn’t comment on any of these points, so it seems like he has conceded these arguments.

But I’m not at all surprised that he has changed the goal post (It’s a fallacy – but what do I know). In his response, he argues that the nature of the miracle is missing and therefore unbelievable. He’s asking for a ‘naturalistic understanding’ for a miraculous claim, which begs the question. I don’t think Reji thought this through before objecting. Reji seems to opine that every detail has to be explained for something to be believable. If that is the case, I invite Reji to abandon the belief in gravity since the law of gravity doesn’t tell us what gravity is, but simply tells us how it operates. Even Newton understood this distinction.

Red herring

Reji has committed more fallacies in this article than in the previous one. He brings up the issue of the authorship of the gospels to distract readers – it’s a red herring fallacy. He writes,

Many New Testament scholars agree that Mark and Luke were not even the disciples of Jesus when he was alive. The names of Matthew and John do not appear here in particular. Even the word apostle does not appear here. Jesus was talking with his disciples which probably included some from the 12. Philip and Andrew appearing here did not write any gospel. 

He argues that in this particular passage the names Matthew and John do not appear. That’s the fallacy of argumentum e silentio. Just because their names do not appear, it doesn’t mean they weren’t present. That’s a really bad argument in my honest opinion. He also argues that Mark and Luke weren’t disciples of Jesus to make a point that no one was present there to tell us the story. As I have already mentioned, just because Matthew and John aren’t mentioned in this passage doesn’t mean they weren’t present when this event took place.

Mark is considered to be the disciple of Peter. From the writings of early church fathers like Papias of Hierapolis ( who was taught by Apostle John himself), Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, we can know that he was Peter’s interpreter and wrote his memoirs. So, Mark is a close companion of an eyewitness.

Luke is considered to be the companion of Paul. There are three references in the NT where references to Luke also contain references to Mark – Philemon -23-24, Colossians 4:10-11,14, 2 Timothy 4:11. So it can be deduced from this that Luke knew Mark. Luke mentions that there were other accounts already before he started writing his own. He explicitly states that his account is based on the testimony of those who were eyewitnesses.

I don’t see how his comment that ‘gospels were written 30 years after the events took place’, holds any water. I’ll wait for him to build a case on that.

Synoptic problem

Another red herring. Reji plays the ‘synoptic problem’ card but what he says about it is something that I have never heard before:

There is a belief among bible scholars that Matthew, Mark and Luke most probably depended on one source for information and wrote their gospels. This is known as the synoptic problem. That that means the errors of this common source where copied by these three gospel writers. 

I know of no theory (or scholar) that suggests that Matthew Mark and Luke all copied from a single source. There’s a two-source theory that argues that Mark was written first and at the same time a hypothetical gospel was also written – the Q source. Luke and Matthew both used Mark and Q as their source. Passages that are unique to Matthew are attributed to hypothetical source M. Similarly passages unique to Luke are attributed to a Hypothetical source L. This is the two-source theory. Then we have the Augustinian theory: Matthew wrote first, Mark wrote second and Luke used them both. There’s Griesbach theory: Matthew wrote first, Luke wrote second and Mark used them both. Then there’s Farrer theory: Mark wrote first, Matthew wrote second and Luke used them both. This eliminates the need for a Q source.

Even if there’s a theory that says all of the synoptic gospels copied from a single source, what is the evidence for it? Q source simply exists as a hypothetical source and no manuscript of it has ever been found! None of the early church fathers ever mention anything about such a source!

If Reji is so sure about it, I would love to see what evidence does he have to support his claim that the ‘errors’ of this source were copied.

Misrepresentations and misunderstandings

Is he deliberately misrepresenting me or he couldn’t grasp what I said? Here’s what he said :

I found the biggest joke here. Enan says that any story that does not mention   important people’s names is under suspicion. Did I not say the same thing about the boy who gave five loaves and two fishes? Since the gospels do not mention that boy’s name can I conclude the gospel narrations are not true?

That’s a strawman. I never said that ‘any story that does not mention names is under suspicion’. My statement was very specific and was in a particular context. I had argued in my previous article that since Mission Kali is out there to expose Christian missionaries, not naming people in this story seems to be suspicious.

It’s also very clear that he simply doesn’t get what a hasty generalization is. He is asking me where is the hasty generalization, even though I have explained it in my previous article.

He once again commits the fallacy of hasty generalization by saying that Christianity has principles that no Christian has ever obeyed! He talks as if he has met every single Christian and knows they aren’t following Christ. I can’t fathom how he can say such things with a straight face.

He also doesn’t get the contradiction that I pointed out. I invite him to re-read what I wrote to better understand where the problem lies.

When it comes to the existence of Kali, Reji didn’t provide a shred of evidence or argument for her existence. He only told us what is Kali is and what Kali isn’t. But that wasn’t the question!!!!


Conclusion

We saw how Reji throws some terminologies around which doesn’t make much sense. We talked about Hume and responded to his arguments. People in a prescientific era weren’t unwise. We talked about miracles in other religions. We don’t need to know ‘How’ the miracle happened to acknowledge one. We also saw how Reji tried to divert the topic and how he gets the synoptic problem wrong. He misunderstands and misrepresents me on multiple occasions. Finally, we saw his failed attempt to argue for the existence of Kali.


Keep Questioning! Keep Thinking! The road to Damascus isn’t far.

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