"Why would they die?" theist response

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Samurai Rafiki
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"Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Samurai Rafiki » 2010-10-29 04:09pm

Sorry if this has already been dealt with on this board, but I couldn't find it.

My question relates to a theist argument I've gotten a few times, mostly from Evangelicals but also from a Mormon or two. Basically, I say 'Holy Book X' is false and 'Relevant Person Y' is a liar, they say that if it was false, why would 'Relevant Person Y' die or martyr themselves or generally suffer 'Bad Result Z' for something they knew was a lie?

Now, the obvious response is that this is a non-sequitur. The irrational defense of 'Holy Book X' despite 'Bad Result Z' has no bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of 'Holy Book X.' However, for some reason this has always been one of those arguments that gives me pause, and I would love to have a better arsenal for attacking it.

Thanks in advance.

Edit: Also, if anyone has any points that might be helpful in dealing with Josh McDowell I'm being taken to his show by a few Evangelical friends of mine and would love to be better prepared.
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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Serafina » 2010-10-29 04:23pm

Generally, you should point out all the martyrs from OTHER religions (there are very few which don't have those, if any). By their argument, as soon as someone is willing to die for it, it becomes true (or at least valid). Why should that only apply to their (personal brand of) religion and not to others?

I doubt any of them have an actual answer for that.
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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Samuel » 2010-10-29 04:49pm

why would 'Relevant Person Y' die or martyr themselves or generally suffer 'Bad Result Z' for something they knew was a lie?


Obviously they didn't know it was a lie and believed it was true.

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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Spoonist » 2010-10-29 05:08pm

Also if its one of the religions that promise a life eternal after this if you are a martyr then how come there are not more martyrs? I mean if you truly believed it then why would all those people who had the chance not take it?

Now for the argument itself it would depend on who exactly 'Relevant Person Y' was and why you call them a liar. Lots of people actually believe strange things and write them down.

If its JC they are talking about:
1. If you read Matthew 27-28 and compare it to how John describes it then it is quite obvious how a faked death could be pulled of. This because the scripture tries to adress sceptical jews.
2. JC didn't create christianity, so regardless of whether JC thought he was messias or not is moot. He did not have a choice in his "martyrdoom", instead he was arrested and crucified. Its not like he gives himself up, instead according to scripture he condemns one of his followers to rat on him and commit suicide (which would prevent him ascendence). Its his disciples that matter and they didn't become martyrs or there would be no christianity.

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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Samurai Rafiki » 2010-10-30 03:08am

Well, generally this argument comes up in talking about the Apostles of Jesus or Joseph Smith, saying that both defended the positions in question at great personal cost. If they were lying, as I contend, why would they maintain that lie even in the face of death? My suspicion is that there's some confirmation bias or fallacy at work within their minds of a kind with the type Daniel Dennett is researching in his case study of closeted disbelieving clergy. The idea that they've come this far with it, so they're sort of in it for the long haul win or lose. I'm on fairly shaky ground there, so I hope that's more specific, that I could get more ideas for dealing with it.
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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Serafina » 2010-10-30 04:45am

Samurai Rafiki wrote:Well, generally this argument comes up in talking about the Apostles of Jesus or Joseph Smith, saying that both defended the positions in question at great personal cost. If they were lying, as I contend, why would they maintain that lie even in the face of death?
Because they didn't know they were lying.
It's really just that simple - they believed in it and didn't know it was a lie.
As an analogy, many children believe in Santa Claus. They can go to great lengths for that belief. They won't die for it because Santa Claus is a pretty benign lie that doesn't call for an afterlife and the like.

But the point is that people can easily believe in a lie. They don't know it's a lie - how would the apostles know that it was a lie? Simple - they didn't.
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"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Samurai Rafiki » 2010-11-03 06:03pm

That would perhaps be true of most Christians or Mormons since the founding of those religions, but what about the movers and the shakers? The apostles who claimed that Jesus had risen and appeared to them certainly knew it was a lie and were killed for their preaching. Joseph Smith certainly knew he pulled the BoM out of his ass and yet suffered persecution for it.
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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Serafina » 2010-11-03 06:18pm

Samurai Rafiki wrote:That would perhaps be true of most Christians or Mormons since the founding of those religions, but what about the movers and the shakers? The apostles who claimed that Jesus had risen and appeared to them certainly knew it was a lie and were killed for their preaching. Joseph Smith certainly knew he pulled the BoM out of his ass and yet suffered persecution for it.
First - were the apostels actually killed? IIRC, most of them were not killed of their beliefs.
If they were later persecuted and killed, they might simply have been at a point of no return - denounce your faith and your followers will kill you, follow it and the romans will kill you. Choosing the latter at least revers you in the eyes of your followers.

Second, there might easily be other motivations. Just point to all the cults and sects that exist today - their leaders get a LOT of power out of it (people who do their almost every bidding, and a lot of personal worship/respect). Many of them are willing to die for their cause.
And of course, people can quite successfully delude themselves, especially if they get positive rewards (from others) from that delusion
According to the "logic" of your opponents, we can therefore conclude that their teachings are actually true - else, why would they be willing to die for them?

Put simply, just destroy their insistence that "willing to die for it" equals "truth of believe", and that there are no other things people are willing to die for. There is no basis for that claim - people are willing to die for many things, and they can have completely mundane reasons to cling to a belief, even if they still know it's made up.
SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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Re: "Why would they die?" theist response

Postby Spoonist » 2010-11-04 09:11am

First listen to Seraphina's advice. Dying for a cause doesn't make it right nor true.

Next if they where true believers and willing to become martyrs then why would they denounce JC? (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18). If they had not they might have been crucified with him, something which a true believer must have cherished?
But more so on the theological side. What is the importance of their martyrship. If JC sacrificed himself for us, then why would it be necessary for the apostles to do the same? Do they detract from JC or add? Is JC's sacrifice not complete unless the apostles do the same? Etc.
Don't let people get away with blind faith and contradicting their own religion.

Then lets see here. If you are talking about the apostles then you are in a load of trouble. You see those who have the most to gain from fabricating their history is also the ones making claims regarding their 'history'. This so much so that obvious fabrications like seeing a similar name in the list of another source would be considered 'evidence' regardless of other sources pointing out that this is a different person.

Its also hard for biblical scholars to actually know the names of the inner twelve or worse the seventy or 120 outer apostles. So its more or less up to church tradition to set the standards. Which is where the martyrdoom comes in. You see we get more tradition when it comes to their death than any actual accomplishments. Because it was a key point for the startling church. Not even orthodox and catholic agree on the list or their fates but somewhat on their deaths.
Now if there truly had been twelve apostles (they replaced judas according to tradition) with the powers as given by tradition their fates going to different countries then it should be well recorded in the countries where they went. They would have been famous. Instead almost exclusively the only sources we have is church tradition and the letters going around the early christians before the church.

Now the only (except for Judas) apostle that are mentioned to die in the official tradition (that later became the bible) is one of the James who was killed by King Herod in Acts 12. Read it, that is how "important" the death of an apostle is according to the bible. No shining lights, no martyrs angel etc, instead the text focus on getting Peter away from imminent martyrdoom himself.
The rest comes from non-official tradition. So a christian who relies on this treads on the blade between holy ground and heresy. (See the gospel of Thomas for instance).
Next comes the question why they are twelve at all? Well its because of Mithras. He was turned into a sun god and thus had twelve zodiacal companions. When early roman christianity copied stuff from the Mithra tradition the number of the apostles was copied along that, before then they where more than twelve.
Take st Peter for instance.
Look at this source, why is it that they claim that his death is in rome is certain while when he died is not? Well its because the sources they rely on contradict each other. Plus all the sources are 2-3 centuries after the fact as usual.
According to one tradition he was ordered beheaded by Nero.
But according to the Clementines text Peter was the first bishop of rome. Which must have been after Nero.
By another tradition he is ordered crucified but refuses to be crucified in the same way as JC and volunteers to be hung upside down.
According to one tradition he dies with Paul, another that he witnessed Paul's death, another that Paul witnessed his death.
etc.
So the most important 'prince' of the apostles fate is unknown even from the church tradition point of view. They didn't bother to write it down. They didn't bother to send letters to eachother regarding his death.

I mean Nero the famous coming anti-christ and prosecuter of christians are only mentioned in Tacitus to have put the blaim of the fire in Rome on christians. If the cults 'leader' would have been caught that should have been big news and written down as well.

Its the worse with the others.

So your problem is that its their tradition, made up in the 3rd cen usually. So it will absolutely cover their doctrine. Therefore go with Serafina's approach or something that is outside of their universe instead.


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