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  1. #1
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    Why the liar lunatic or lord argument is bs

    To live in accord with HH Apok's heavy handed ruling I offer the following:



    Why the "liar, lunatic or lord" argument is suprious.

    What if Jesus as neither Lord, liar, nor lunatic, or any combination thereof. What if He was mistaken? What if his "biographers" lied? What if his "biographers" were lunatics? What if his "biographers" were lunatics who lied? What if his "biographers" neither lied, nor were they lunatics and they were simply mistaken in what they wrote.

    We know the Gospels are not eye-witness records, so there is more reason to doubt what is in them is historically accurate.

  2. #2
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    From James Still:

    The trilemma concludes that Jesus is God so let p stand for the assertion "Jesus is God." McDowellís three premises that support p are that (1) Jesusís claims were true, or (2) Jesusís claims were false and he was a liar, or that (3) Jesusís claims were false and he was a lunatic. By ruling out the possibility of (2) and (3) McDowell concludes that (1) must be the case and Jesus is indeed Lord and God. To make the analysis easier I will schematize his argument as:

    (1) Jesus is telling the truth by asserting that p.
    (2) Jesus is not a liar by asserting that p.
    (3) Jesus is not a lunatic by asserting that p.

    If all three of these premises are true then it would seem that the argument is sound. In fact, at first glance the trilemma seems quite convincing because, like George Washington and the cherry tree, it plays on the notion of whether or not Jesus can tell a lie. However, the argument is not valid because a counterexample demonstrates a case where all of the premises are true while the conclusion is false. First, I will present this counterexample and then I will analyze the trilemma itself to see how it works.

    Suppose that Sally asserts that she was born in New York City. Sally bases her knowledge on the fact that she has clear and distinct memories of growing up in New York City. Further, her mother confirms her claim as do teachers, friends, and neighbors. Her doctor tells us that Sally is in perfect mental health and she even passes a lie-detector test when asked about her claim that she was born in New York City. Finally, we concede that (1) Sally is telling the truth that she was born in New York City, (2) she is not lying about that fact, and (3) she is not insane for asserting so. Unfortunately, Sally was born in London. She was given up for adoption as a baby and her mother has never told her of her true origins. This counterexample shows a case where all of the premises are true and yet the conclusion is false. The trilemma is not a valid argument. What went wrong? Quite simply, the argument fails to allow for the possibility that Sally might be mistaken about her assertion. It assumes that the truth or falsity of Sallyís assertion can be known from the fact that she has certain knowledge. This line of reasoning adheres to a theory of knowledge called infallibilism. Infallibilism holds that a knower is someone who cannot be mistaken about that which they claim to know. Let us look closer at the trilemma to see how infallibilism motivates the argument.

    Premise (1) is the real workhorse of the trilemma. Notice that the argument leaves no room for Jesus to be mistaken. Since he is not a liar or a devil, his claim must be true. Since Jesus cannot be mistaken about something that he believes to be true, his claim to knowledge is sufficient justification for the truth. Thus, we can represent (1) more accurately as:

    (1ī) If Jesus knows that p, then it cannot be that he is mistaken that p.

    This premise packs such a powerful punch because it very cleverly relies upon the notion that Jesus is perfect. However, notice that there are two possible ways to understand the role that "cannot" plays in this sentence. Because of a linguistic ambiguity, we can read (1ī) with the understanding that "cannot" addresses the entire conditional statement (the whole "if-then" sentence) or the consequent only (everything following the word "then"). The former possibility is called a wide-scope reading while the latter possibility is called a narrow-scope reading. Here are the two possible readings with the wide- and narrow-scope versions of (1ī) in brackets:

    It cannot be that {if Jesus knows p, then he is mistaken that p}.
    If Jesus knows p, then it cannot be that {he is mistaken that p}.

    The trilemma rests upon this ambiguity; yet, while the wide-scope reading is fallible and defeasible, the narrow-scope reading is infallible and problematic. Neither reading can reach the trilemmaís conclusion alone. Let me explain. The wide-scope reading says that it is difficult to imagine a situation where, if I know a book is on the table I am somehow mistaken about that fact. However, I must admit that I may be dreaming or perhaps that I only think I see a book. Since I am only human, I may be mistaken about what I see. In other words, a wide-scope reading allows for mistakes and recognizes that knowledge is fallible and in need of some justification. Thus, the wide-scope reading allows that Jesus might be mistaken about his claim. For this reason, the trilemma cannot use the wide-scope reading to argue for Jesusís divinity.

    What about the narrow-scope reading? Ultimately the trilemma rests upon this reading, however, it is very problematic. The narrow-scope reading states that it cannot be the case that Jesusís knowledge is mistaken. Under this infallible reading, it is impossible for there to be a case where, if Jesus knows something, that thing can be false. For the rest of us mere mortals, this is simply not possible. We all hold beliefs that we think are certain and yet our certainty does not guarantee the truth of those beliefs. The trilemma gets a lot of mileage out of the narrow-scope reading because the believer already assumes that anything Jesus knows is certain and true; however, it begs the question for Jesusís divinity through infallibilism.

    In order for the trilemma to look convincing it must conflate the two scopes of "cannot" in the first premise. That way it gets the valid appearance of a wide-scope reading while falling back on the narrow-scope reading for the infallibilism it needs to conclude that Jesus is divine. This is the clever trick behind the trilemma. The believer who already holds the notion that the argument has yet to conclude to, namely, Jesusís divinity, is easily convinced of the argumentís veracity. However, the nonbeliever who does not presuppose Jesusís divinity is rightly puzzled by the claim that the trilemma is a convincing proof. The nonbeliever is quite justified in rejecting the trilemma as fallacious.

  3. #3
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    I know this argument very well. It fails on many levels. But I just want to confirm with you before I respond however...that you are suggesting (through the argument above), that Jesus could have been perfectly sane and of capable mind, but merely mistaken in who he thought he was. He honestly believed himself to be God because of events that he witnessed in his life. He also believed (incorrectly) that the written prophecies about the Messiah were about him. And he was still sane nonetheless. He was only "mistaken"...not a lunatic, liar, nor who he actually claimed him to be. Just a simple mistake, nothing more, but couldn't be helped due to events in his life...just like Sally above. Is this correct?
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; February 25th, 2004 at 10:22 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Apok,

    Your error is that you think being the messiah is the same thing as being God.

    Jesus could have thought he was the messiah and been mistaken. Since he failed to actually accomplish the tasks of the messiah, he most certainly wasn't the Jewish messiah.

    Instead he was transformed into the Christ-a pagan, non-Jewish notion of the second part of the trinity sometime after Paul's writings.

    So yes, since Moses and Abraham and mortal men were prophets, and since all the kings and high priests of Judah were messiahs, Jesus could have been perfectly sane and perfectly wrong about his messiahship.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwinters
    Apok,

    Your error is that you think being the messiah is the same thing as being God.
    There is no error, and it's certainly not centered around the "messiah".

    Jesus claimed to be God. I want to make sure that you believe that someone can claim to be God, yet still be "sane" before moving foward.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    There is no error, and it's certainly not centered around the "messiah".

    Jesus claimed to be God. I want to make sure that you believe that someone can claim to be God, yet still be "sane" before moving foward.
    Why is it important that someone believe that claiming to be god is a sane thing to do?

    And what are the guidelines for this judgment?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    There is no error, and it's certainly not centered around the "messiah".

    Jesus claimed to be God. I want to make sure that you believe that someone can claim to be God, yet still be "sane" before moving foward.
    Did he? How do you know?

  8. #8
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    Apok, are you making an argument that Jesus could be overall in a sane condition, but under some temporary influence where his judgment is unsound or clouded, perhaps delusional? So that if Jesus was under some emotional or mental duress, or under some influence, that he could easily claim to be god, yet not necessarily be god, nor insane?

    If Jesus was insane, could he then not be god, as a default? Some say he was half human, or whatever it is claimed, surely that half, or portion, or nature is susceptible to the whims of nature, which include genetic faults.

    Now I know there is no evidence for this. But then again, there's really none that shows a god exists either. But if a Jesus actually lived, the probability is that he was just mortal. And if mortal, then the chance exists for mental illness, which occurs in about 10% of the general population. Given there are over 5000 gods in man's history (who knows if any are real, btw) that's a 1/5000 chance that Jesus is one of them. Given that 1/10 people have mental illness, the odds that Jesus was god to being mentally ill is 1/500. That he might have claimed to be god given these odds suggests a padded room be prepared.

    Still, mental illness is a fact, whereas god is not. So the odds are swayed a lot farther towards insanity in reality.

  9. #9
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    Christian conundrum:

    If Jesus claimed he was the messiah (that is the annointed king) he would have been a political threat to the Romans but not a religious threat to the Jewish hierarchy since it wasn't sinful theologically to claim to be the messiah.

    If Jesus claimed he was God, he wouldn't have been a threat to the Romans and there would have been no reason to condemn him for treason since he wouldn't have been considered a political threat and even though it may have been blasphemy under Judaism, the Romans had no interest in enforcing the religious practices of their subjects.


    So, did people believe Jesus the Jewish messiah or God incarnate?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1Fan
    Why is it important that someone believe that claiming to be god is a sane thing to do?

    And what are the guidelines for this judgment?
    I don't think you've read the entire thread here. I don't believe one can be "sane" while claiming to be God, when they are not God. kwinters is suggesting that Jesus was sane, but merely mistaken. Jesus also claimed to be God (as I'll show). So I want to clarify that kwinters believes that sane people claim to be God and we'll go from there. This is only a part of the argument, but a necessary one.

    Apok, are you making an argument that Jesus could be overall in a sane condition, but under some temporary influence where his judgment is unsound or clouded, perhaps delusional?
    No. I'm making the claim that he was perfectly sane, not mistaken about who he was, and was not a liar.

    kwinters is suggesting (it would seem) that Jesus was same, but just made a simple mistake in who he was. Something that I find frankly, quite laughable. It would be more reasonable to believe that Jesus was a nutball than it would be to believe that "he just made a simple mistake about who he was".
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    I don't think you've read the entire thread here. I don't believe one can be "sane" while claiming to be God, when they are not God. kwinters is suggesting that Jesus was sane, but merely mistaken. Jesus also claimed to be God (as I'll show). So I want to clarify that kwinters believes that sane people claim to be God and we'll go from there. This is only a part of the argument, but a necessary one.

    No. I'm making the claim that he was perfectly sane, not mistaken about who he was, and was not a liar.

    kwinters is suggesting (it would seem) that Jesus was same, but just made a simple mistake in who he was. Something that I find frankly, quite laughable. It would be more reasonable to believe that Jesus was a nutball than it would be to believe that "he just made a simple mistake about who he was".
    I could be a messiah. Just make real vague records of my history stating I was able to perform miracles. Just make sure people believe it and arent able to prove they knew i couldn't.
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    I don't think you've read the entire thread here. I don't believe one can be "sane" while claiming to be God, when they are not God. kwinters is suggesting that Jesus was sane, but merely mistaken. Jesus also claimed to be God (as I'll show). So I want to clarify that kwinters believes that sane people claim to be God and we'll go from there. This is only a part of the argument, but a necessary one.
    This helps clarify, but you mean ALL people who claim to be god, or just Jesus? Because I don't see how anyone can make a generalized assessment like that.


    No. I'm making the claim that he was perfectly sane, not mistaken about who he was, and was not a liar.
    But under the assumption the Bible is not in error in how it records events and Jesus' words, right? You want to eliminate that as a possibility, if I'm reading you right?
    Last edited by F1Fan; February 25th, 2004 at 11:35 AM. Reason: html

  13. #13
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    I see no reason to think that Jesus went around calling himself God.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwinters
    Christian conundrum:

    If Jesus claimed he was the messiah (that is the annointed king) he would have been a political threat to the Romans but not a religious threat to the Jewish hierarchy since it wasn't sinful theologically to claim to be the messiah.
    Jesus claimed to be God, and this was blasphemy, punishable by death. The Jews knew exactly what Christ was claiming himself to be which is why he was tried.

    If Jesus claimed he was God, he wouldn't have been a threat to the Romans and there would have been no reason to condemn him for treason since he wouldn't have been considered a political threat and even though it may have been blasphemy under Judaism, the Romans had no interest in enforcing the religious practices of their subjects.
    Also not true. The Romans were dealing with a Jewish rebellion. They were very apprehensive about the continued rise. As a way to help appease the Jews, they helped the Jewish court in carrying out the sentencing of Christ. You really need to do a little bit of research before you post such things.

    So, did people believe Jesus the Jewish messiah or God incarnate?
    Both.
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  15. #15
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    There is quite open debate about whether Jesus called himself god or not. Some Bible verses surely could be interpreted that way, but then we have to ask: is this the text reveals, or is this what believers want to see? Jesus doesn't really come out and admit it, not directly. So as a foundation as a truthful premise, it's pretty questionable to use in any argument.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1Fan
    This helps clarify, but you mean ALL people who claim to be god, or just Jesus? Because I don't see how anyone can make a generalized assessment like that.
    Especially not Jesus...but I think this also extends to all people. How is it possible, that a sane, rational man, also honestly believes he is God? Would you argue then, that a man claiming to be the Easter Bunny, or Santa Clause, and honestly believed it, would be considered sane? So if I told you that I was God, and I was dead serious about it, and I honestly believed it...I could be sane?

    But under the assumption the Bible is not in error in how it records events and Jesus' words, right? You want to eliminate that as a possibility, if I'm reading you right?
    Yes. It is a GIVEN that if the Bible is made up, written by some goofs bent on having a good time with future humanity...that NOTHING in the Bible should be considered as true. I certainly wouldn't believe anything in the Bible if it were true.

    Establishing that the texts are historically accurate and reliable, is not the same is discussing what is written shows Christ to be God within what is written.

    As far as him claiming to be God...I'll get to that.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Especially not Jesus...but I think this also extends to all people. How is it possible, that a sane, rational man, also honestly believes he is God? Would you argue then, that a man claiming to be the Easter Bunny, or Santa Clause, and honestly believed it, would be considered sane? So if I told you that I was God, and I was dead serious about it, and I honestly believed it...I could be sane?
    If not Jesus then you're making an assertion that he should be excluded from what is naturally questionable behavior. Why?

  18. #18
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    Apok,

    Also not true. The Romans were dealing with a Jewish rebellion. They were very apprehensive about the continued rise. As a way to help appease the Jews, they helped the Jewish court in carrying out the sentencing of Christ. You really need to do a little bit of research before you post such things.

    Then 'enlighten' me by showing me your evidence for this claim.

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    And please note: Here is the chronology of the trial of Jesus according to GJohn:

    Thursday Night:
    Taken to the high priest's father-in-law's house.
    Informal interrogation by the high priest.

    Friday Morning:
    Handed Jesus to Pilate
    Trial before Pilate

    According to your Bible there was no trial before the Sanhedrin where he could have been condemned for blasphemy. And even if we imagine there would have been a trial, what Jesus said was not blasphemy:


    "Another problem with the Markan account is associated with the question asked by the high priest in Mark 14:61. Remember that Christ is simply the Greek word for messiah. Mark had the high priest made the association of being a messiah with being the Son of God. No Jewish priest, let alone the high priest, would have made that connection in the divine sense in the gospels. The Jews simply did not consider the messiahship to have a divine status.

    Furthermore the high priest's assertion (Mark 14:64) that Jesus committed blasphemy in his reply (Mark 14:62-63) makes no sense. It was not an offence for a Jew to claim to be the messiah because eventually, according to their belief, someone has got to be he. It is no blasphemy, though of course it could be a mistake, in claiming the title of messiah for oneself. The claim Jesus made, as being seated at the right hand of God does not necessarily have any divine connotation for himself, as the Jewish scholar Rabbi Morris Goldstein stated:

    "Use of the phrase "Son of the Blessed" or "Son of God" was no capital crime. The reference to sitting at the right hand of power (Mark 14:62) is not greatly different from King David's allusion to himself sitting at the right hand of God (Psalms 110:1), at all events, it is nowhere indicated as blasphemy."


    (PT)
    Last edited by kwinters; February 25th, 2004 at 11:56 AM. Reason: Additional information

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1Fan
    If not Jesus then you're making an assertion that he should be excluded from what is naturally questionable behavior. Why?
    What? I think you still misunderstand. If Jesus claimed to be God, he was: 1) insane, 2) a liar, 3) God. The possibility of him being "sane" while claiming to be God, is nonexistent. I'm excluding him from anything. The same standard applied to all people who make the claim, are equally applied to Christ. Sane men do not claim to be God.
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