From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 9:41 AM
To: 'Kris Key'
Subject: RE: I am an ex-atheist
Here is a copy of the lancet Medical Report on the NDE. [..] [..] These authors were good enough for a peer reviewed article in the prestigious, secular medical journal lancet. Would you please explain to me if they are good enough to be used in this Journal, why various books on studies they have conducted( which were sighted) is not good enough for Brian Holtz or that it should be classified as no different then "Goblins" or "Elves"
You of course cannot quote me saying NDE is no different than goblins or elves. You are confused between the phenomenon of NDE and the supernatural explanations for the phenomenon.
most of the peer review sited researchers think the afterlife hypothesis is the best one.
It's odd that you didn't send me one of those papers instead of this one, then.
This is near the end of the lancet article. Read it and weap. "Another theory holds that NDE might be a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which identity, cognition, and emotion function independently from the unconscious body, but retain the possibility of non-sensory perception.7,8,22,28,31"
"Another theory holds that" is a perfectly true statement. This paper does not, however, claim that the transcendence theory is true. No weeping required.
The only theory that fits it is the theory consciousness survives death. And for that, one needs theism :)
Your smiley presumably means you realize that this is a non sequitur.
If you fail to answer this one with anything better then "most scientist do not believe it" I will simply conclude you are not interested in a serious discussion.
Again: Before I invest any time discussing fringe science with you, you'd have to indicate your standards of skepticism by telling me Since you won't answer these questions, I can't take you seriously as a rational investigator of the paranormal.
either this is an acceptable method of doing history or not. From my experience as a history major about to graduate in december, it is flawed.
I never said it's a "method of doing history". It is rather a way of establishing our positions and identifying the differences between them. I've stated my position.  Either your position is "Yahweh 100%, Other possibilities 0%", or it's not.  If it is, you're clearly dogmatic.  If it's not, then you're apparently too embarrassed by your position to actually state and defend it.
Also I have never, ever seen anything like it before.
And therefore you consider yourself exempt from having to consider it.  How very rational and open-minded of you.
Dr Linda Mann [..] said it was an invalid historical method
Dr Christopher Jesperson [..] stated this was an inappropriate historical method.
Dr Jennifer Smith [laughed]
I remain skeptical of your ability to accurately represent my position in this matter. If you can get a historian to actually read my analysis and critique it in writing, let me know. But I'm not really interested if instead you merely want to vouch to me that some casual conversation somehow constitutes a justification for you not defending your indefensible position (which remains: Yahweh 100%, Other possibilities 0%).
Brian, You do NOT DO HISTORY THIS WAY. Case closed.
I never said I was "doing history". I'm elucidating my position. Yours is "Yahweh 100%, Other possibilities 0%". It's understandable that you don't want to defend this position or even admit it's yours.
do you still consider the NDE to be no different then "elves" and "goblins"
"Still"?  I never said this in the first place.  Since you cannot accurately comprehend something you've read in just the last few days, I'm not very interested in your evaluation of the NDE literature.
I am also asking if the scientist I used to reach my decision on the NDE are still "cranks"
I haven't used the word you quote in our conversation about NDE. Perhaps you should ask your professors how quotation marks are to be used in discussions about scholarship.
So you can say all you want about my conversion but it was a sincere thought out process from examining the evidence from both sides.
I take it then that you're unable or unwilling to give me two or three sentences on how each of these thirteen factors did or didn't apply to your conversion.
PS all you have to do to deconvert me is the following two things.
I'm not interested in deconverting you.  Read my paper again if you're confused about what my interest in this matter is.

Given 1) the diminishing returns in me asking you about your deconversion, 2) your inability to rebut my statements, and 3) my lack of interest in NDE, this discussion has outlived its usefulness. I'll close with a sampler of the statements of mine that you've declined to answer. Have a nice life.

There are (at least) three theses on the table: It's fallacious to argue that the unlikelihood of (1) makes (3) more likely than (2). 
Paul's conversion is nowhere near Christianity's best evidence. The best evidence is the vividness of the resurrection accounts and Paul's alleged endorsement of them within two decades of the events. Random ecstatic conversions over the subsequent two millennia are pretty weak evidence. 
Anything you believe, and any motivating principle you hold, is from some school of philosophy, whether you know it or not. Meanwhile, note that all the prayer in the world can't budge a single atom from the path that physics sets for it. 
Hallucinations are a scientifically documented phenomenon. Miracles aren't. If the NT evidence can be explained with a few hallucinations instead of the systematic positing of miracles, then it's obvious which hypothesis is motivated by parsimony and which by faith.
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. 
The scientific community gives out Nobel prizes for the discovery of reproducible phenomena that can't be explained with known physics. If NDE is a verifiable supernatural phenomenon, then somebody should have a Nobel prize for discovering it. Please tell me the name of this Nobel prize winner and the year the prize was awarded. 
The vast majority of paranormal-phenomenon-X researchers believe in X.  Does that make X real? 
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. 
you admit that it is rational for historians to be more skeptical of the supernatural claims of the gospel narratives than the normal claims.

Since you do not identify a single NT supernatural claim that might be errant, I conclude that you are an inerrantist. 
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. 
Quote Bertrand Russell saying that the NT supernatural claims can "be just ignored" without any justification for doing so. 
we have enough data to overthrow the laws of physics and decide that they could be violated at will by a carpenter from Nazareth? 
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. 
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. 
The available evidence about alleged paranormality is sufficiently explainable that no peer-reviewed journal or standard textbook bothers to assert supernatural explanations for it. 
The way to rigorously analyze the possible explanations for an event with a distinct cause (i.e. that must be only one of several mutually exclusive causes) is called fault tree analysis. For almost any important historical episode, the candidate causes are a mixture of influences, and the debate is merely over the relative importance of the influences. Historians don't practice rigorous fault tree analysis, because important historical events almost never have such numerous and mutually exclusive possible causes. 
No serious maritime architect would have dared assert that any such ship was unsinkable. I defy you to cite any such "calculation" published by a maritime architect.
You clearly are confused by the distinction between prior possibility and posterior possibility. 
Are you saying that history in general, or the life of Jesus in particular, is exempt from the laws of probability? 
How do you "know you have figured in every factor necessary" to decide that your Yahweh explanation has 100% probability?
quote me one secular historian saying in a mainstream secular peer-reviewed journal that the basic historic plausibility of the Gospel narratives implies that their supernatural claims should be assumed reliable until proven otherwise.