From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2003 11:12 PM
To: Bob Norsworthy III
Subject: RE: Jesus
H:  I again challenge you to place your arguments (and any you might want to excerpt from other apologists) side-by-side with mine. If you decline this challenge, then it will probably be a month or two before I get around to rebutting your latest message.

N: I will do so as soon as I get a chance. Here is a list of items that are left unresolved by your correspondences: [..]

Be sure to include what you think are the more impressive of these items in the arguments you assemble against mine. Either way, rest assured that in due time the arguments you've offered will be thoroughly rebutted on our correspondence page and your many insubstantive assertions will be clearly diagnosed.  For now I'll quote just two of the sort of assertions whose utter indefensibility has made this discussion such a low priority for me:
N: You assert that there are no biblical accounts that claim first hand knowledge of biblical events. This is a ridiculous claim because the “I was there” is understood.
Mainstream scholarship unequivocally denies that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. Calling this scholarly consensus "ridiculous" demonstrates that you simply are not equipped to answer serious arguments against Christianity.
H: Obviously, my choices aren't just that Jesus was either a completely secular carpenter or a self-proclaimed deity. As I say in my book, he was a preacher, faith-healer, and apocalyptic prophet who in the months leading up to his anticipated execution came to believe he was the Jewish Messiah and even the divinely-special savior of mankind.

N: You claim that Jesus’ family didn't believe His claim to deity but you state Jesus never made such a claim.

A blatant and clumsy misrepresentation of my position. I of course have never said that Jesus made a "claim to deity" that his family didn't believe, and I defy you to quote me to the contrary. All I've said is that Jesus' family were not believers in his ministry during his lifetime, whatever that ministry may have preached. In the face of my previous correction of this point, your recidivism here exemplifies why answering you is such a low priority for me.
N: I must say that I never thought our discussion would take this turn. There were some obvious avenues I felt you would certainly take but you inexplicably passed them up. For example, you completely overlooked the dark matter issue which is certainly any Christians most tenuous position. I thought for sure you would jump all over that.
"Dark matter"? has a comprehensive library of atheist and anti-Christian polemics, but I haven't noticed a section devoted to "dark matter".  (If you're talking about the universe potentially having zero net energy due to dark energy -- which is not at all the same thing as "dark matter" -- then you should note that no theory of physical cosmology could ever prove that the universe is self-caused and thereby positively refute the Cosmological Argument.)
N: You continually choose the areas that have either already been well defended or are easily defended.
The standard and most potent arguments against theism and Christianity -- the ones responsible for the decline of these beliefs among intellectuals since the Renaissance -- have of course prompted standard apologetic responses. I am quite prepared for our readers to see my anti-Christian arguments and your apologetic responses side-by-side in a comprehensive and definitive form. Are you?
N: Clearly, epistemology is your strength but you are definitely lacking in Bacon's inductive empiricism and most importantly Cartesian deductive rationalism. I must say that in your defense you haven't resorted to the extremely riddled kantian positions. It seems that you are not at all familiar with nor have any regard for the dichotomy between res cogitans and res extensa.
I'm happy to let our respective oeuvres testify as to what each of us is familiar and unfamiliar with.
N: At any rate, you refused to provide a sufficient defense for your stances by deflecting and/or repeating, you resorted to personal quips such as the sophist remarks about not responding to my arguments and my alleged lack of sophistication and you summarily dismissed some of my responses.
These charges are laughable. I defy you to quote in my responses through Jun 6 a single instance of "deflecting", or a single instance of repeating an argument that you had already substantively replied to. Ironically, your charges here are themselves just a repeat of your earlier charge:
N: You have not liked some of them. You have summarily dismissed others. But there has not been ONE instance when I have said “I don't know” or “I cant explain that”.
To which I responded:
H: I just identified FIFTEEN cases where you had nothing to say whatsoever. This doesn't even count e.g. your repeated and defiant unwillingness to explain how the virgin conception and angelic annunciation is consistent with Jesus' family disapproval of his ministry. I defy you to quote a single instance of me responding to a substantive point of yours by "summarily dismissing" it or merely saying I don't "like" it.
And what quoted statement of mine did you offer in response to my challenge?  Why, absolutely none, of course:
N: Any one where you responded subjectively instead of factually.
You thus have now established a reputation for concocting allegations of evasion for which you blatantly (and ironically) evade my demands for substantiation.
N: I had hoped you would be able to go to another level, but my expectations were too high. Thank you for your time.
My time is indeed the critical issue here. I compliment you on your ability to occupy time of mine that otherwise would be spent answering first-rate Christian apologetics.  You may be thus doing your cause a far better service than would be indicated by a straightforward evaluation of which of us is winning this debate.