was Luke Paul’s close companion?

Walter Cassels in his work, Supernatural Religion notes

As a general rule, any document so full of miraculous episodes and supernatural occurrences would, without hesitation, be characterized as fabulous and incredible, and would not, by any sober-minded reader, be for a moment accepted as historical. There is no other testimony for these miracles. Let the reader endeavour to form some conception of the nature and amount of evidence necessary to establish the truth of statements antecedently so incredible, and compare it with the testimony of this solitary and anonymous document, the character and value of which we shall now proceed more closely to examine.

it is with this background that we consider whether Luke was, first, an eyewitness to Jesus life, a companion of Paul ad the author of Acts.

As to the first point, Luke was no eyewitness. He says so himself in the first verse. HE is compiling what has come down to him from other eyewitnesses. Can his work be considered historical? I think to the extent that he writes about angels and other supernatural occurrences, that work cannot be historical.

As to whether Luke was the author of Acts, Cassels writes

After examining all the early Christian literature, and taking every passage which is referred to as indicating the use of the book, we see that there is no certain trace even of its existence till towards the
end of the second century; and, whilst the writing itself is anonymous, we find no authority but late tradition assigning it to Luke or to any other author.

And as to the final question, whether the author of Acts was a companion of Paul, the verdict, again, is negative. We cite this example, though plenty are provided for the student who wants to discover more for themselves

According to Paul himself (Gal. i. 16—18), after his conversion, he communicated not with flesh and blood, neither went up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before him, but immediately went
away into Arabia, and returned to Damascus, and only after three years he went up to Jerusalem to visit Kephas, and abode with him fifteen days, during which visit none other of the Apostles did he see “save
James, the brother of the Lord.” If assurance of the correctness of these details were required, Paul gives it by adding (v. 20): “Now the things which I am writing to you, behold before God I lie not.”

According to Acts (ix. 19—30), however, the facts are quite different. Paul immediately begins to preach in Damascus, does not visit Arabia at all, but, on the contrary, goes to Jerusalem, where, under the
protection of Barnabas (v. 26, 27), he is introduced to the Apostles, and “was with them going in and out.”

According to Paul (Gal. i. 22), his face was after that unknown unto the churches of Judaea, whereas, according to Acts, not only was he “going in and out” at Jerusalem with the Apostles, but (ix. 29) preached boldly in the name of the Lord, and (Acts xxvi. 20) “in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judaea,” he urged to repentance.

According to Paul (Gal. ii. 1 ff.), after fourteen years he went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus, “according to a revelation,” and “privately” communicated his Gospel “to those who seemed to be something,” as, with some irony, he calls the Apostles. In words still breathing irritation and determined
independence, Paul relates to the Galatians the particulars of that visit—how great pressure had been exerted to compel Titus, though a Greek, to be circumcised, “that they might bring us into bondage,” to
whom, “not even for an hour did we yield the required subjection.”

Given this background, where does my new friend, pastor blue jeans get his evidence for the claim that Luke was a physician, evangelist, author of acts and close companion of Paul?

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Sunday disservice

The author of this post in making a case for Jesus H Christ tells us there were five hundred witnesses to the resurrection, and some of them famous. I for my case, would want to know the name of one eye witness among the five hundred.

He also says there were witnesses to the resurrection. Now, all my reading of the bible tell me all the people who went to the tomb found an empty tomb and Mary Magdalene did not observe the resurrection event.

He also claims as support for the resurrection story, that several names are given. How this builds the case for the resurrection when we don’t have independent accounts of these various witnesses I don’t see.

I am not a lawyer, but I think the claim that

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ would stand up in a court of law.

Is untrue. There are few Bible stories, if any, that would stand in a court of law. Unless of course, that court was one that ruled based on miracles.

Happy Sunday everyone.

On the gods, by Cicero

In my earlier postings, I wrote about what Cicero says in the Tusculian disputations about death, wisdom, grief and virtue as being sufficient for a happy life.

In this post, we look at the discussion on the gods, whether they exist, what their nature is and whether the government of the universe is in their hands, so to speak.

It has been said by others, wiser than yours truly, that there is nothing new under the sun. And the disputations on the gods is a good example. I think the discoveroids have failed to cite their sources in their arguments for complexity and teleological arguments. These two propositions are expounded so clearly and eloquently in this work than by Behe or William Paley.

In this disputation,Cotta, a priest responds to the arguments of Velleius who argued for the being of gods, claiming the government of the universe is in their hands, that we cannot see a beautiful house and assume it wasn’t designed and finally that the gods are eternal and happy. He begins his response thus

In the question concerning the nature of the Gods, his first inquiry is, whether there are Gods or not. It would be dangerous, I believe, to take the negative side before a public auditory; but it is very safe in a discourse of this kind, and in this company. I, who am a priest, and who think that religions and ceremonies ought sacredly to be maintained, am certainly desirous to have the existence of the Gods, which is the principal point in debate, not only fixed in opinion, but proved to a demonstration; for many notions flow into and disturb the mind which sometimes seem to convince us that there are none. (emphasis mine).

Believers are wont to argue that it is the general assent of all men that there is a god. Platinga even went further to argue there is a god shaped hole in our hearts that only god can fill. To this Cotta says

You have said that the general assent of men of all nations and all degrees is an argument strong enough to induce us to acknowledge the being of the Gods. This is not only a weak, but a false, argument; for, first of all, how do you know the opinions of all nations?

Regarding those who deified birds and other animals, Cotta says

I could speak of the advantage of the ichneumon, the crocodile, and the cat; but I am unwilling to be tedious; yet I will conclude by observing that the barbarians paid divine honors to beasts because of benefits they received from them; whereas your gods not only confer no benefit, but are idle, and do no single act of any description whatever.

Cotta continues to ask

Where is the habitation of the deity? What motive is it that stirs him from his place, supposing he ever  moves? Since it is peculiar for animated beings to have an inclination to something that is agreeable to their natures, what is it that the deity affects, and to what purpose does he exert the motion of his mind and reason?

He tells Velleius, that if he attempts to answer any of the above points, he will come off lamely. This he says is because

For there is never a proper end to reasoning which proceeds on a false foundation; for you asserted likewise that the form of the Deity is perceptible by the mind, but not by sense; that it is neither solid, nor invariable in number; that it is to be discerned by similitude and transition, and that a constant supply of images is perpetually flowing on from innumerable atoms, on which our minds are intent; so that we from that conclude that divine nature to be happy and everlasting.(emphasis mine)

At this point, I am hoping believers reading this can answer us

What, in the name of those Deities concerning whom we are now disputing, is the meaning of all this? For if they exist only in thought, and have no solidity nor substance, what difference can there be between thinking of a Hippocentaur and thinking of a Deity?

And Cotta concludes his disputation by saying

Therefore our friend Posidonius has well observed, in his fifth book of the Nature of the Gods, that Epicurus believed there were no Gods, and that what he had said about the immortal Gods was only said from a desire to avoid unpopularity. He could not be so weak as to imagine that the Deity has only the outward features of a simple mortal, without any real solidity; that he has all the members of a man, without the least power to use them—a certain unsubstantial pellucid being, neither favorable nor beneficial to any one, neither regarding nor doing anything. There can be no such being in nature; and as Epicurus said this plainly, he allows the Gods in words, and destroys them in fact; and if the Deity is truly such a being that he shows no favor, no benevolence to mankind, away with him! For why should I entreat him to be propitious? He can be propitious to none, since, as you say, all his favor and benevolence are the effects of imbecility.

And yours truly agrees.

What’s the point of atheism

Barry, my friend, no I don’t go out seeking such people but they provide very interesting views of what the other side thinks.

Like this fellow who has seen the light and now loves other people. He says of secular humanism

I now see the world for the fraud it is. Secular humanism everywhere, but not a drop of love to drink. In faith we breathe and live – without it we are offered a culture of death. Follow in faith the way of Jesus Christ and follow life. Gain an eternal life worth living for. Pray, fast and have faith in the Lord. Amen.

Who would have known? Maybe the person who said there is too love in the world to waste some of it on the gods was right.

In this post, I asked the question of whether atheism is good for society.