From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2003 1:58 PM
To: 'Kris Key'
Subject: RE: I am an ex-atheist
KK: I am also checking some psychology journals to investigate the nature of hallucinations that you use.
Cool. In the meantime, do you have any peer-reviewed physics articles about miracles for me to check? :-)
KK: I am stil a pit puzzled why you simply brush aside the NDE without thought.
I gave you some thoughts, and you ignored them. Here they are again:
KK: As for researchers involved with it please explain to me why the following people are not appropriate scientist.
Again: Before I invest any time discussing fringe science with you, you're going to have to indicate your standards of skepticism by telling me If you won't answer these questions, then I can't take you seriously as a rational investigator of the paranormal.
KK: Please do not critize literature or events you have never studied. In general it is wise to know what you critize before you critize.
Everything I have written here about NDE is easily defensible. Is there anything in my oeuvre that gives you the impression that I ever make statements that I'm not confident I can defend?
BH: [which phenomena listed at]  cannot yet be ruled out as nonsense, and why you think NDE isn't taken seriously by mainstream science.

KK: If some paranormal is nonsense, is therefore all paranormal nonsense?

The default explanation for alleged paranormal phenomena is indeed that they are instances of credulousness, wishful thinking, pseudoscience, hoax, and other forms of nonsense. That's why these alleged phenomena are called "paranormal".  When the accelerating expansion of the universe was discovered in 1998, it was a phenomenon that defied the then-accepted theories of physical science. And yet, the phenomenon wasn't ever called "paranormal". Why?  Because the evidence was reproducible, verifiable, and not subject to alternative explanations consistent with known science.

I see that you quoted my two questions, but did not even attempt to answer them.

KK: I am fascinated by the NDE because it has produced legimate evidence that has been demonstrated in secular works and journals.
Of course the reports and evidence are fascinating. They're just not convincingly and verifiably supernatural in origin.
KK: Furthermore the most parsimious explanation for the NDE is it was a truly out of body explanation.
If that were true, every physics textbook would mention NDEs as the only known phenomenon in the physical universe that defies explanation under our current laws of physics.
BH: History is full of oddities. If these things are so "odd", why don't all historians of the Ancient Near East consider them to be dispositive proof of Christianity?

KK: [..] History by its nature is so volumness that people specialize. [..]

That's why I asked about "historians of the Ancient Near East", and not historians in general.
KK: History never rules out the possibility of the miracles,
I never said it did, and have argued extensively that miracles are not logically impossible.
KK: it is simply skeptical.
Thus you admit that it is rational for historians to be more skeptical of the supernatural claims of the gospel narratives than the normal claims. QED.
KK: I have noticed that you ( such as the nonsense with your use of Bayern's Hypothesis)
What is Bayern's Hypothesis?  The word "Bayern" does not appear in anything I've ever written, and a Yahoo! search for "bayern hypothesis" sheds no light on the matter.
KK: like to tell people how historians ply their trade.
I have noticed that you do not refute a single claim I've made about "how historians ply their trade".
BH: OK, which NT supernatural claim might be errant?  If you believe one might be errant, why do you believe they all cannot be errant?

KK: Again I look for evidence. The Resurection is easily defendable if one knows his facts and history.

You once again fail to answer my questions. Since you do not identify a single NT supernatural claim that might be errant, I conclude that you are an inerrantist.
KK: I might point out that Jordan mopped the floor with you easily enough.
This remark is truly hilarious (and dramatically damages the credibility of your evaluation of the state of other contentious bodies of literature, such as that on NDE).  You cannot quote a single point of Jordan's which I did not adequately answer.  By contrast, when he quit the debate Jordan left unanswered roughly 25 points in my last response alone.
BH: Quote me one secular historian saying in a peer-reviewed forum that the basic historic plausibility of the Gospel narratives implies that their supernatural claims should be assumed reliable until proven otherwise.

KK: Which historians should I use for this?

Anyone you want.  Just name the professional historian and cite the peer-reviewed mainstream secular publication in which the above statement is made.
KK: perhaps this question should be rephrases a bit. What New Testament Scholars says this.( sorry if they are not secular but they are the best authorities on the subject)
If the claim is defensible, then by now it should have been made and successfully defended somewhere in the peer-reviewed mainstream secular literature. It hasn't. QED.

BH: Strawman. Who says those claims should "be just ignored"?

KK: Gee I know many atheist who ignored them.(Betrand Russell Does come to mind)

Quote it. Quote Bertrand Russell saying that the NT supernatural claims can "be just ignored" without any justification for doing so.
KK: Ludemann's use of hallucinations is simply weak, but to your credit your theory is better.( his failed to remove the body, yours doesnt) [..] One of the key weaknesses with this theory is that we dont have nearly enough data to begin to psychoanalyzize the apostles and Paul.
But we have enough data to overthrow the laws of physics and decide that they could be violated at will by a carpenter from Nazareth?
KK: Without this data your theory is dead from the get go.
It's obvious which of our competing theories is rendered "dead" by considerations of parsimony.
KK: The way Ludemann  used it was very weak. As I have said before yours is stronger.( Which I simply plan to deal with later, I am working on a rather lengthy rebutal)
So the way I summarize this atheistic explanation for the gospel evidence is new to you?  If so, this undermines your claim to have been well-versed in atheism before your conversion to Christianity.
KK: If I was to use 95% of writings on the bible for a term paper or thesis paper I would receive an automatic F for using inappropriate sources.
You would also get an F if you sourced a citation as "Main Street Public Library". is not a source, it is a collection of writings. Some of the writing is more scholarly than polemical, and some vice versa. Each claim published on stands or falls on the arguments and evidence cited for it. No claim (re)published on is any less credible just because it appears there.
KK: The moment I present you with evidence( the NDE) you brush it aside without consideration.
I asked you questions about the meta-evidence for NDE, and you brushed them aside without consideration. I don't have time to investigate the primary evidence about every bizarre belief that I'm asked about. So I let the scientific process and the marketplace of ideas help me evaluate that evidence. The resulting evaluation is that supernatural explanations for NDE aren't taken seriously by mainstream science. You may disagree with that evaluation, but you can't deny it exists.
KK: I asked some of my science major friends and even one profesor what their views on it was. They all had dim views on it. Then I asked how much they researched it. All admitted none at all.
Well, I guess that proves that mainstream science has no basis whatsoever for its current evaluation of supernatural explanations for NDE.
KK: I had another interesting conversation with a professor of mine, this time in psychology( smile, he didnt find your idea of hallucinations convincing).
Am I supposed to be dismayed by this anecdote from the guy who thought I posit "mass hallucinations", and who summarizes Jordan's retreat as "mopping the floor" with me?  It's amusing how often some of the less experienced apologists I debate get an email from me, run to some acquaintance and claim to report to him some point of mine, and then run back and email me how the acquaintance agreed I was wrong. I'd be curious to know what effect on me you think such an anecdote might have.
KK: We discussed the idea of demonic possesion and he admited to me that it cannot be considered in psychology for the simple reason that it has no category.
Quote me a psychology text saying that there are observable and verifiable human behaviors called "demonic possession" that completely defy explanation by naturalistic psychology.  You of course cannot, and it's obvious how you've misinterpreted the comment by your psychology professor.
KK: science has not disproved the evidence presented for the paranormal.
Evidence isn't "disproved", it's explained.  The available evidence about alleged paranormality is sufficiently explainable that no peer-reviewed journal or standard textbook bothers to concede supernatural explanations for it.
KK: His has simply philosophicial defined it way. I could define away the existance of red heads by simply claiming it does not exist and anyone who see's a read head is either a liar, mentally ill or mistaken
The actual existence of redheads is asserted and recognized by peer-reviewed journals and standard reference texts. The actual existence of paranormal phenomena (and not just claims about them) is not. Is the judgment against paranormality just a big conspiracy by the journals and textbook publishers?
KK: Truly a magnificent man you are, a computer programer, a NT Scholar and now a member of Skeptical Inquiry :)
I say only what I can defend, and I defend everything I say. I would hope that wouldn't make me exceptional, but I'll leave others to judge whether it does.
KK: I will simply ask your patience  for my rather lengthy rebuttal of your explanation for the origins of the Christian faith.
Do you really think you have arguments that are any better than those of e.g. Robert Turkel [alias J.P. Holding] in his debate with me over "The Impossible Faith"?  I probably won't answer your "lengthy rebuttal" if its arguments are no better or different than Turkel's. I'd rather explore how much you knew about atheism before becoming a Christian, and to what extent your conversion may have been influenced by confounding factors. Can you give me two or three sentences on how each of these thirteen factors did or didn't apply to your conversion?