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Dean Pomerleau

The Ultimate Purpose of Life

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17 hours ago, Saul said:

How many angels can you fit on the head of a pin?

  --  Saul

I thought Aquinas had settled the question -- it depends on how pointy the needle is. Since angels can't occupy the same space, when the needle's point gets crowded, the newcomers would have to bump some angels off the point of the needle. I wonder if those bumped off fall up or down?

Would Sibiriak's cats think a fallen angel is worth less than the bumper?

Edited by Ron Put

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On 12/7/2019 at 3:30 AM, crinded said:

Because the universe was not designed or created by anyone, there is no ultimate purpose to our lives, in the sense of a reason why we exist.  We just do exist. We evolved. Here we are.  Now it is up to us to find out what is the best thing we can do with our lives.  My view is that the best thing we can do is try to make the world a better place, using our resources and our capacity to reason and evaluate evidence to find out how best to do that.

I don't know the context but, taken by itself, the sentence I outlined is  weird, since that's a pure hypothesis expressed as a proven fact. Which is not. Maybe it's the conclusion of previous reasoning, which should be made known since I find it very hard (from logical, ontological and even mathematical reasons) to be so conclusive about the absence of a  cosmic designer.

The best approach to the issue is probably based on Bayesian reasoning and Shannon's principle of statistical entropy. We may start from a condition of maximum entropy or maximum uncertainty, which means a 50-%50% hypothesis of existence or non-existence, used as a Bayesian prior. Then we go on with likelyhood functions assigned from the physical and metaphysical, science, building posterior probabilities. In such a way we are going to have a probabilistic knowledge, nothing will be sure, since the very concept of God prevents it to be proven by physical methods.

 

 

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On 12/9/2019 at 12:59 AM, Saul said:

How many angels can you fit on the head of a pin?

How large is the pin and how large are the angels? On an atomic scale, the tip of a pin is huge and an absolutely large number of subatomic sized angels may fit onto it. 

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On 12/29/2019 at 4:51 PM, mccoy said:

I don't know the context but, taken by itself, the sentence I outlined is  weird, since that's a pure hypothesis expressed as a proven fact. Which is not. Maybe it's the conclusion of previous reasoning, which should be made known since I find it very hard (from logical, ontological and even mathematical reasons) to be so conclusive about the absence of a  cosmic designer.

I agree.  It's being nice only calling it "weird".    I am reminded of a panel discussion or debate (not sure what it was) Richard Dawkins did with some theologian where he seemed to be a bit flustered as the audience laughed while he tried to explain how nothing was something (i.e. current scientific consensus is still that the entire universe arose out of nothing, which certainly seems quite astonishing from a scientific viewpoint):

 

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Ah, all sorts of deities continue to live in the gaps of knowledge....

We cannot disprove the existence of the Tooth Fairy, nor disprove that She had valuable input in the creation of the universe. We cannot disprove that it is She who created the Almighty and pays him minimum wage as a chief projectionist to entertain the believers.

But all that doesn't mean that the untestable tales of the Tooth Fairy or Her Almighty helper should be given equal weight to testable theories, such as the Big Bang, which provide certain predictions, which in turn can then be tested.

Edited by Ron Put

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Disbeliever!  (In Hebrew, "Afikorsis!")

😈 👽 💀 (Shit -- no devil).

  🙈🙉🙊

  😊

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15 hours ago, Ron Put said:

But all that doesn't mean that the untestable tales of the Tooth Fairy or Her Almighty helper should be given equal weight to testable theories, such as the Big Bang, which provide certain predictions, which in turn can then be tested.

Ron, I'll point out to you a couple of scientific theories which are presently very credible in the field of mathematical physics, yet are totally untested,  and are themselves a huge leap of faith, almost as the hypothesis of God sitting on a throne with a white beard is a leap of faith:

  • The theory of multiverses
  • the theory of strings.

Also there is this long List of unsolved problems in physics, whose proposed solutions are presently a pure leap of faith: unproven, just like the existence of God, or a supernal power as we may wish to define it.

If you are going to provide me the clicheè answer, that is now those theories are unproven but science will soon put them to a positive test, I'll retort that in the past there have been many, many theories commonly accepted but finally disproven. Lots of them, I just remember now the Michelson–Morley experiment which disproved the then commonly accepted theory of ether.

 

Edited by mccoy

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mccoy, you are equating faith with theory, but the two are fundamentally different. 

Ironically, you are also providing the answer for why faith and theory are fundamentally different, by stating that “many theories [are] commonly accepted but finally disproven.”

Beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, or Yahweh, or Zeus, or Sky Woman, are not testable and not falsifiable. They are simply beliefs, generally the product of the locale where one is born, or the group to which one belongs.

Scientific theories such as the String Theory you mention, are certainly not “a pure leap of faith,” “just like the existence of God,” but provide predictive descriptions, the elements of which can be falsified by experiments.

Someone more knowledgeable, perhaps Saul, can likely provide a better argument, but my understanding of String Theory is that it began as an attempt to provide an alternative mathematical model to  quantum electrodynamics to address the strong force, and ultimately provide a testable quantum/gravity connection. String Theory makes predictions for space dimensions and a weak force, in addition to gravity, which would affect objects made of different materials (with different electromagnetic energy). These predictions are testable, with sufficiently precise instruments — this is an example:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/galileos-400-year-old-theory-free-falling-objects-passes-space-test

To wrap up, you stated a false equivalency principle (pun intended). Mythology is not testable. Well, parts of it are, such as the historicity of figures such as Moses, Jesus or Muhammad (neither of whom is likely to have actually existed, based on available contemporaneous records), and based on the knowledge we gain from fields such as archeology, geology and biology. But, as I mentioned earlier, true believers will always find their gods in the gaps of knowledge.

Edited by Ron Put

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In my pursuit of anti-aging, two gentlemen that I have followed and still read much of their work now are professors Josh Mitteldorf and Vince Giuliano.

Both men had PhD's in other areas and later in life decided to make a career studying the biology of aging and have created their own blogs.  I consider both of these fellows to be extremely intelligent and they appear to have much in common (and in common with many posters here).

Recently I've gotten further understanding from each of them regarding their views on conciousness and creation; and essentially the belief that our (individually and collectively) reality is (entirely or largely) shaped by the observer(s).  Again both Josh and Vince seem to have similar convictions on these subjects and I thought some people here might at least find this interesting if not persuasive;  I'm not a philosopher, and can't say that I am completely sure of anything that I can or can't see; perhaps I'm open-minded or perhaps I'm simple ;-)

Here is a recent Blog written by Josh Mitteldorf on his thoughts:

At one point he says:

"The tension will be resolved between Christians who insist that all life is the handiwork of an old man who lives in the sky, and the Darwinian fundamentalists who insist that all evolution from a dilute pool of simple molecules to the diverse biosphere has been the result of chance mutations and a race for the fastest reproducer. Evolution is directed by consciousness through the Quantum Zeno Effect, as Johnjoe McFadden described 20 years ago .

The Life Extension movement and the transhumanist movement will embrace the solid evidence for reincarnation , and for the reality that consciousness is flavored by but not dependent upon a physical brain . Freed from the desperate urgency that derives from belief that death is the end of all, we will continue to pursue life extension, but moved by love of life, rather than fear of death; and we will supplement the tools of biochemistry and regenerative medicine with technologies of the traditional shamans and spiritual masters.

There is a biological destiny in which we all participate, a guiding hand pulling us toward an ever richer and more diverse biology. Planet Earth is probably just one among trillions of ecosystems that are destined to merge and co-evolve as humans learn the technology of space travel from alien visitors who are, in fact, far less alien than we imagine."

https://joshmitteldorf.scienceblog.com/2019/12/31/the-scientific-world-view-needs-an-update/

 

Vince has an etire Thesis written on the subject of 'Being and Creation' here:

He says:

"This treatise is a summary of my personal philosophy and beliefs regarding the universe and its origins, creation, science, my purpose in life, and the game of life.  I put forth a model for the creation of realities that goes beyond planning and acting.  I relate this Macroscopic Reality Creation model(MRC) to well-established models for creation at the quantum scale, and argue that the quantum models and mine are virtually identical.  I show how the model for reality creation I lay out here conforms to at least three major approaches to interpreting quantum phenomena.  I suggest how an individual can practically generate creations using this model and describe a number of examples from my life. "

http://vincegiuliano.com/ON%20BEING%20AND%20CREATION.htm

 

 

I hope you enjoy!

Happy New Year gents!!

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7 hours ago, Clinton said:

... There is a biological destiny in which we all participate, a guiding hand pulling us toward an ever richer and more diverse biology. ...

Hmmmm.... It walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck....

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On 1/1/2020 at 9:00 PM, Ron Put said:

Scientific theories such as the String Theory you mention, are certainly not “a pure leap of faith,” “just like the existence of God,” but provide predictive descriptions, the elements of which can be falsified by experiments.

Please quote me experiments which can be done on 11-dimensional strings, I'm no physicist, maybe I missed something.

 

On 1/1/2020 at 9:00 PM, Ron Put said:

tring Theory makes predictions for space dimensions and a weak force, in addition to gravity, which would affect objects made of different materials (with different electromagnetic energy). These predictions are testable, with sufficiently precise instruments — this is an example:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/galileos-400-year-old-theory-free-falling-objects-passes-space-test

Again, I sure am ignorant about strings, but the article speaks about a very precise measurement of the gravitational field, a search of the text with ctrl+F 'string*' yielded no results.

 

On 1/1/2020 at 9:00 PM, Ron Put said:

To wrap up, you stated a false equivalency principle (pun intended). Mythology is not testable. Well, parts of it are, such as the historicity of figures such as Moses, Jesus or Muhammad (neither of whom is likely to have actually existed, based on available contemporaneous records), and based on the knowledge we gain from fields such as archeology, geology and biology. But, as I mentioned earlier, true believers will always find their gods in the gaps of knowledge.

Ron, I beg to differ.

What is exactly the lack of contemporaneous record? Why you say figures like Moses, Jesus or Muhammad are not likely to have existed? I could say the same about Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Euclides, Plato and others. They might have been allegorical, mythological figures. We have no time machines to prove their existence beyond any reasonable doubt.

Besides, the fact that there are no known reports about Jesus, Moses, Muhammad from the main non-religious historians means nothing for various reasons,  the main being that there are so many ancient texts which got destroyed and burnt.  And main old historians might have been uninterested in the vicissitudes of an obscure, backwater region in the Roman empire. Or maybe there are other negative proofs which I'm not aware of?

 

 

 

 

Edited by mccoy

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Caesar, Alexander the Great, Euclides, Plato AND Muhammad had people write about them when they were alive.  There were no contemporaneous writings about Jesus or Moses. Only written accounts repeated from stories passed down orally  long after they were gone, by people who had not witnessed events.  .  Hence, that is why the Gospels differ.  There also is no archaeological proof of their existence.  Many have tried to find such proof, but it is yet to be found.  If you want to believe based on faith (and over a billion do) that's one thing.  I have on occasion, but we do have archaeological and contemporaneous of the existence of Caesar and other historical figures that we do not have with Jesus and Moses.  In fact, almost every Passover, some rabbi will cause a stir by stating that the whole Passover story about Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt is a myth.   

Edited by pete533

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1 hour ago, pete533 said:

There were no contemporaneous writings about Jesus or Moses....but to say the same standard can be applied to Caesar and other historical figures is absurd.  

 

Do not let's forget about the various interventions of the Church, which, as all those who studied the history of Christianity well know, has been active throughout the centuries in destroying all the texts which did not fit the hagiographic requirements of the religion. Most texts have not survived, but the few ones, the official gospels, which have some large gaps in them.

Anyhow, I believe that this dissent on official religions is not the point of this thread. The main issue is another: the same human intellect and logic which gave rise to the theory of relativity, to the various breakthrough of mathematics, physics, and engineering, also gave rise to the concept of the Observer. Is it not a fallacy to believe that a concept must be wrong a priori since it doesn't fit our subjective inclinations? 

Also, do not let's forget that a metaphysical concept cannot be testable by physical means, by definition. The fact that an Observer cannot be measured, weighed, filmed, does not imply that it doesn't exist. This is the basis of logic and philosophy. So simply stating that the concept of God is not testable by physics has not much meaning.

Last but not least: in the context of this forum, believing in a religion, in life beyond, in any metaphysical model, very often constitutes a powerful scheme of stress management, which we know is a significant factor in boosting longevity. Like Brian Green clings to his faith in string fields, like Max Tegmark clings to his faith in the multiverse, we ordinary people can feel perfectly  justified in clinging to the existence of another dimension beyond the material one.

 

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On 1/3/2020 at 4:18 PM, mccoy said:

Please quote me experiments which can be done on 11-dimensional strings, I'm no physicist, maybe I missed something.

Again, I sure am ignorant about strings, but the article speaks about a very precise measurement of the gravitational field, a search of the text with ctrl+F 'string*' yielded no results.

... What is exactly the lack of contemporaneous record? Why you say figures like Moses, Jesus or Muhammad are not likely to have existed? I could say the same about Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Euclides, Plato and others. ...

mccoy, the answer to your second question (about a very precise measurement of the gravitational field) was provided in my post above: "String Theory makes predictions for ... a weak force, in addition to gravity, which would affect objects made of different materials (with different electromagnetic energy)."

At a very basic level, the String Theory concept is really not hard to grasp, even for me. I just did a quick search and this is the most easily digestible source I found:


String theory: From Newton to Einstein and beyond

Kaluza, Klein and their story of a fifth dimension

The ten dimensions of string theory

I hope it helps. No magic and some discussion of how aspects of the theory can be tested. :)

As to contemporaneous records, no, you most certainly cannot say the same about the historical figures you mention. I believe you may be basing your question on a really old Christian apologetics argument, recently revived by a rather nonsensical piece floating around by a guy named Bock, which pops up occasionally as "proof" that we should believe the bootstrapping of the gospels about the historicity of Jesus.

The reality is that for someone like Caesar, we have numerous third party contemporaneous eyewitness accounts, from Cicero, to Livy and Ovid. We have archaeological evidence, coinage, we have contemporaneous histories, we have letters which don't have the enormous authenticity and dating problems of the Pauline Letters or the canonical gospels. I guess you can say that knowledge of history is based on preponderance of the evidence, and we have it for someone like Caesar, but we don't for Jesus.

The reason I don't believe that Moses, Jesus or Muhammad are historical figures are many and volumes can be written on the subject. But here is a brief summary, based on what I know and remember.

For the origins of the Abramic mythology, I still like Bible Unearthed by Finkelstein and Silberman, two Israeli archeologists. The book is a great summary on archeological evidence found over the last few decades and how it jives, or (in most cases) how it does not, with some of the "historical" biblical claims.

The more one learns about the emergence of Christianity, the more one comes to realize that a "flesh and blood" Savior was not only not needed, but was contrary to the revelatory "Son of Man" beliefs of the sects such as the gnostics and likely the essenes, which split from the relatively newly firmed up Judaism and ultimately gave us Christianity. It is notable that early Christian writings, such as what Pauline Letters, do not mention any of the "flesh and blood" attributes of later "biographies" of Jesus (including the resurrection), and among the gospels, the later one was compiled, the more "detail" it presents about the "life of Jesus."

The bottom line is, we do not have any contemporaneous accounts of Jesus the Savior, even though one would be right to assume that someone who "gathered multitudes" and performed miracles would be mentioned by his contemporaries. I won't list the well-known Christian claims for support from the likes of Josephus or Tacitus, except to point out that even if we ignore the rather compelling claims that these are later Christian interpolations, (1) the passages are not contemporaneous, and (2) Josephus writes at considerable length about numerous characters named "Jesus," virtually all historically inconsequential, yet "writes" only two minor paragraphs on Jesus the Christ (and those are packed with anachronisms)....

I have to also disagree with Pete533 on the historicity of Muhammad: I am not well versed in the history of Islam, but from what I know, it mirrors fairly closely the development of Christianity, with the Koran being a compilation of likely poorly translated Christian (Nestorian?) and Talmudic texts, which badly need the Hadith (which did not firm up until the 10th century) to make sense. The first historical mentions of Muhammad do not appear until decades after his supposed death (just like with Jesus), although some argue that the Umar inscription is sort of a "proof" for the historicity of Muhammad.

Phew!

3 hours ago, mccoy said:

... The main issue is another: the same human intellect and logic which gave rise to the theory of relativity, to the various breakthrough of mathematics, physics, and engineering, also gave rise to the concept of the Observer. ...

 

Hm, respectfully, I think you do miss the point of distinction between the scientific method and mythical beliefs.

Edited by Ron Put

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Hi Ron!

Jesus is mentioned in the Jewish Babylonian Talmud, which was written during Roman times.  (There is also a charming Talmudic brief anecdote about a top Rabbinical scholar, who refused to talk to an early Christian commoner --  but then reproved himself, claiming that the Christian was more in the right he was).

There are several references in the Jewish talmud to Jesus, who was clearly a historical figure.  He is not referenced as Christ, which (as I understand it) is Greek for Messiah. Jesus was clearly a historical figure.

It would be more difficult to find historical references to Moses, since that's much further in the past.

I think you would make your point much more effectively if you accepted the existence of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, but indicated your own disbelief in their doctrines. 

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Hi, Saul. I am somewhat familiar with the main references to "Yeshua" in the Talmud, although even most hardcore Christian apologists don't rely on those, as the arguments for such Yeshua being the Savior are chronologically inconsistent and flimsy, at best.

I am also somewhat versed in early Christian history and I can tell you that there is definitely no "clear" evidence for the a historical Jesus. A historical Jesus, even as a "magician" performing miracle works, also doesn't make much sense in the historical setting -- the Savior was largely an ideal missionary model for early Christians (similarly to Muhammad a few centuries later). While we cannot absolutely refute the existence of a flesh and blood figure on which the mythical Savior is based, the preponderance of the historical evidence points to a "flesh and blood" Jesus developed in the 2nd century as factions within the rather disparate sect were looking for a direct point of authority.

As to Moses, I don't think you'd find many "respectable" scholars who believe that Moses was a historical figure, or that the Exodus a specific historical event. While objections to the historicity of Jesus are not popular in American academia and considered by most to be a career-killer, in a country where close to 70% of the population consider themselves practicing Christians, there is a lot less hesitation to employ scientific rigor in discussing Moses (mostly in Israel and Europe). Such claims are largely inconsistent with archeological evidence. See, for example, the works of Finkelstein and Silberman I mentioned above. Of course, questioning the historicity of Muhammad is even harder and potentially dangerous religious zealousness dramatically limits the research being done.

While I don't believe in mythology, it is one of my life's interests. I feel that I am knowledgeable enough to make my point without pretending to accept historically inaccurate beliefs.

Cheers.

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17 hours ago, Ron Put said:

Such claims are largely inconsistent with archeological evidence. See, for example, the works of Finkelstein and Silberman I mentioned above.

The book from Finkelstein and Silberman is considered by many largely speculative. for example, quoting from wikipedia:

Evangelical Christian biblical scholar Kenneth Kitchen was critical, writing that "[A] careful critical perusal of this work—which certainly has much to say about both archaeology and the biblical writings—reveals that we are dealing very largely with a work of imaginative fiction, not a serious or reliable account of the subject", and "Their treatment of the exodus is among the most factually ignorant and misleading that this writer has ever read."[73] Richard Hess, also being critical, wrote that "The authors always present their interpretation of the archaeological data but do not mention or interact with contemporary alternative approaches. Thus the book is ideologically driven and controlled."[74]

Edited by mccoy

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Ron, an excerpt from the first article you linked above:

Quote

The mathematics behind string theory is long and complicated, but it has been worked out in detail. But has anyone ever seen such strings? The honest answer is "no". The current estimate of the size of these strings is about 10-34m, far smaller than we can see today, even at CERN. Still, string theory is so far the only known way to combine gravity and quantum mechanics, and its mathematical elegance is for many scientists sufficient reason to keep pursuing it.

So, nobody has seen a single string so far, nobody has given any tiny sliver of proof, the theory is cultivated mainly because of its mathematical elegance.

So, it turns out that scientists are pursuing, with a huge leap of faith, something so weird and tiny and untestable just because it appears mathematically elegant.

Well, I pursue the idea of god with the same leap of faith the string theorists display, and I also appreciate the elegance of the model of a cosmic Observer.

Bottom line, I logically infer: based on current evidence, I and the string theorists are exactly at the same level. The idea of God has exactly the same scientific value as the idea of strings.

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Ron, from the 2nd article you cited

Quote

Although Kaluza and Klein's theory seemed to unify the forces of electromagnetism and gravity it wasn't widely accepted when it was published in 1921. It was mathematically true but the concept of extra spatial dimensions seemed very strange. However some 60 years later this mathematical oddity provided a missing piece in the hunt for quantum gravity…

Again, we are at a level of wild speculation. Gravity is supposed to be the 4th dimension in the model of strings? But it has not been proven nor tested. Well, God is supposed to be an old man with a white beard sitting on a throne above the clouds, in some religious models. But, like the theoretical strings, it has not been proven nor tested.

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3rd rticle linked by ron, excertp:

Quote

This is one of the signatures of extra dimensions that physicists are looking for at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But if they don't find this evidence it doesn't mean that these extra dimensions don't exist. That would be like physicists in the 1990s saying that as LEP (the previous collider before the LHC) hadn't found the Higgs particle that it didn't exist. It took the next generation of colliders, the LHC, to finally find evidence for the Higgs. Experimentalists are clever! If they don't find evidence of extra dimensions using colliders such as the LHC, they'll come up with something else, such as experiments using cosmic rays which have much higher energies that may have the capacity to discover these extra dimensions.

Again, a huge leap of faith from the physicists! Evidence of extra dimensions has never been found? No matter at all, it will be found anyway.

Their faith is the same as the followers of all religions. Evidence of God has never been found? No matter at all, We'll find it after death or after the cycle of reincarnations.

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21 hours ago, Ron Put said:

The bottom line is, we do not have any contemporaneous accounts of Jesus the Savior, even though one would be right to assume that someone who "gathered multitudes" and performed miracles would be mentioned by his contemporaries. I won't list the well-known Christian claims for support from the likes of Josephus or Tacitus, except to point out that even if we ignore the rather compelling claims that these are later Christian interpolations, (1) the passages are not contemporaneous, and (2) Josephus writes at considerable length about numerous characters named "Jesus," virtually all historically inconsequential, yet "writes" only two minor paragraphs on Jesus the Christ (and those are packed with anachronisms)....

Ron, the point is that we have no proof that there is no contemporaneous account of the life of Jesus. As I wrote before, most books on the life of Jesus have been probably burned by the early Church for hagiographic reasons. Besides, many books on any subject have not survived the centuries.

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

The only thing you can logically conclude, based on your reasonings, is that you don't believe that the figure of Jesus, for example, was real. 

But, as we all know, beliefs are subjective and potentially far from the objective truth.

By logic, I can accept strong skepticism, but objective reasoning suggests that strong denial as in your case, or a statement of zero probability, is a biased and not scientific attitude.

 

Edited by mccoy

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mccoy, my statement is based on what I know of early Christian history and the world within which the early Christian sects lived. Those are facts. The gospels are not facts.

 

As to why scientific theories are fundamentally different from mythology constructs, here is a good, very brief explanation of the scientific method and a historical overview of key theories in physics:
The Big Picture: From the Big Bang to the Meaning of Life - with Sean Carroll

Saul may find this summary of archaeological evidence for the historicity of Moses interesting -- it's still rather mild, as it defers a bit more to biblical sources than many in the field:
"Origins of Ancient Israel" - Carol Meyers

For a summary of research relating to the historicity of Jesus, here is a debate which would summarize most of the common arguments for and against (I didn't listen to the whole thing, but it seemed like it was hitting the main points):
DEBATE on the Historicity of Jesus - Dr. Richard Carrier vs Trent Horn

Finally, this relates to the historicity of Muhammad: https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/02/arts/scholars-are-quietly-offering-new-theories-of-the-koran.html

And this is kind of funny (if it wasn't serious) -- it's delivered by a fervent follower of Jesus, who makes use of of actual historical facts to deny the historicity of Muhammad. The irony, eh? It nevertheless appears to hit the main points, which sort of follow the "Savior" model and point to a later day fictional prophet character. Again, I didn't see the whole thing (but will later), but saw enough for him to list some of the historical impossibilities. It seems like he goes off the deep end later in the video, so just focus on the historicity bits:
Examining the Newest Historical Research on Islam and the Earliest Quranic Manuscripts - Jay Smith

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I just came across an excellent lecture by Prof. von Sivers on the origins of Islam, which also touches rather extensively on Christian history around the middle of the first millenium CE.
 

 

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