Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gospels

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Haven

Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gospels

Post #1

Post by Haven »

Western Michigan University philosophy professor and fundamentalist evangelical Christian apologist Tim McGrew has developed an interesting and, in his words, "compelling" argument for the veracity of the gospels that shows the documents have the "ring of truth."

In contrast to the prevailing views of Biblical scholarship on the authorship of the gospels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament#Authorship) and the methodology the authors used to gather information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markan_priority), McGrew believes that the gospels were written by their traditional authors (John Mark, Luke the Evangelist, John the Apostle, and Matthew) as eyewitness accounts.

Among other things, he bases his views on "undesigned coincidences" between the four gospels, cases where one author reports a given event and another author provides additional details not present in the other's writing. McGrew feels that non-eyewitness authors working from common sources (Q and Mark) couldn't include such undesigned coincidences; only eyewitness accounts could produce such information. He also believes that individuals looking to fabricate mythical accounts from whole cloth couldn't possibly create such coincidences.

Although this is an unorthodox argument for, well, an orthodox view of the gospels, it seems (at least to my untrained mind :)) to make some degree of sense in my opinion.

Here is the video with his argument (note, it's long):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wUcrwYocgM

Here is a "cliff notes" version of McGrew's argument:
http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/08/t ... e-gospels/

Here's McGrew's response to an agnostic's critique of his hypothesis:
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/ ... nskis.html

Here's a list of a few of the "undesigned coincidences:"
http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?p=190

Debate question: What do you think? Is McGrew right? Are there undesigned coincidences in the gospels? Do such coincidences indicate eyewitness accounts, or can they be explained through the traditional two-source hypothesis? Are such coincidences really undesigned, or could the authors of the gospels have colluded to make them up?

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Re: Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gos

Post #2

Post by Goat »

Haven wrote:Western Michigan University philosophy professor and fundamentalist evangelical Christian apologist Tim McGrew has developed an interesting and, in his words, "compelling" argument for the veracity of the gospels that shows the documents have the "ring of truth."

In contrast to the prevailing views of Biblical scholarship on the authorship of the gospels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament#Authorship) and the methodology the authors used to gather information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markan_priority), McGrew believes that the gospels were written by their traditional authors (John Mark, Luke the Evangelist, John the Apostle, and Matthew) as eyewitness accounts.

Among other things, he bases his views on "undesigned coincidences" between the four gospels, cases where one author reports a given event and another author provides additional details not present in the other's writing. McGrew feels that non-eyewitness authors working from common sources (Q and Mark) couldn't include such undesigned coincidences; only eyewitness accounts could produce such information. He also believes that individuals looking to fabricate mythical accounts from whole cloth couldn't possibly create such coincidences.

Although this is an unorthodox argument for, well, an orthodox view of the gospels, it seems (at least to my untrained mind :)) to make some degree of sense in my opinion.

Here is the video with his argument (note, it's long):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wUcrwYocgM

Here is a "cliff notes" version of McGrew's argument:
http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/08/t ... e-gospels/

Here's McGrew's response to an agnostic's critique of his hypothesis:
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/ ... nskis.html

Here's a list of a few of the "undesigned coincidences:"
http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?p=190

Debate question: What do you think? Is McGrew right? Are there undesigned coincidences in the gospels? Do such coincidences indicate eyewitness accounts, or can they be explained through the traditional two-source hypothesis? Are such coincidences really undesigned, or could the authors of the gospels have colluded to make them up?
Well... no, I don't think that has any credibility at all. One of the reasons people talk about "Markian primacy' is that phrases were copied practically word for word... and the paragraph structures are too close. That i snot an 'undesigned coincidence' at all. It might be a bit of paraphrasing, but not undesigned.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Post #3

Post by Slopeshoulder »

I think he's dreaming, sleepwalking and embarassing himself in public. And inviting us in. No thanks. To even engage this is beneath me/us.

Haven

Post #4

Post by Haven »

Personally, my perspective is that the "undesigned coincidences" hypothesis is wrong. This is because the theory is based on -- and is essentially a reworked version of -- much older hypothesis popular in conservative Christian circles in the 18th and 19th centuries, which were soundly refuted by contemporary scholarship. Additionally, the "undesigned coincidences" can all be explained through Markan priority, the leading theory in Biblical scholarship today. Specifically, Markan priority states that the gospel of Mark was the first to be written, and that the authors of Matthew, Luke, and John all had access to and made use of Mark in the writing of their own accounts.


Read this article for more information on why McGrew's theory fails:

http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2 ... igned.html

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Post #5

Post by Slopeshoulder »

Haven wrote:Personally, my perspective is that the "undesigned coincidences" hypothesis is wrong. This is because the theory is based on -- and is essentially a reworked version of -- much older hypothesis popular in conservative Christian circles in the 18th and 19th centuries, which were soundly refuted by contemporary scholarship. Additionally, the "undesigned coincidences" can all be explained through Markan priority, the leading theory in Biblical scholarship today. Specifically, Markan priority states that the gospel of Mark was the first to be written, and that the authors of Matthew, Luke, and John all had access to and made use of Mark in the writing of their own accounts.


Read this article for more information on why McGrew's theory fails:

http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2 ... igned.html
Well said. So the trick is to reject out of hand what proves you wrong and then claim you are right. Modern scholarship exists to refute exactly these kinds of "theories." I'm confident peer review in maintream journals will take it down, and then it can have a half life in the self-negating house of cards that is fundamentalist pseudo-scholarship.

Haven

Post #6

Post by Haven »

Slopeshoulder wrote: Well said. So the trick is to reject out of hand what proves you wrong and then claim you are right. Modern scholarship exists to refute exactly these kinds of "theories." I'm confident peer review in mainstream journals will take it down, and then it can have a half life in the self-negating house of cards that is fundamentalist pseudo-scholarship.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think McGrew, a fairly well-recognized scholar of philosophy of science who has published prolifically in that field, is even attempting to get his undesigned coincidences hypothesis published in mainstream journals. He's given a few talks at evangelical churches on it, but I don't think he's even considering pursuing this as actual scholarship.

The original argument was published by J.J. Blunt way back in 1829, and it was soundly refuted during the 19th century. I have no idea why modern academics are trying to "resurrect" (pun intended) this ancient refuted relic.

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Post #7

Post by Slopeshoulder »

Haven wrote:
Slopeshoulder wrote: Well said. So the trick is to reject out of hand what proves you wrong and then claim you are right. Modern scholarship exists to refute exactly these kinds of "theories." I'm confident peer review in mainstream journals will take it down, and then it can have a half life in the self-negating house of cards that is fundamentalist pseudo-scholarship.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think McGrew, a fairly well-recognized scholar of philosophy of science who has published prolifically in that field, is even attempting to get his undesigned coincidences hypothesis published in mainstream journals. He's given a few talks at evangelical churches on it, but I don't think he's even considering pursuing this as actual scholarship.

The original argument was published by J.J. Blunt way back in 1829, and it was soundly refuted during the 19th century. I have no idea why modern academics are trying to "resurrect" (pun intended) this ancient refuted relic.
Yes, you're right.
So it's up to us then. :)

spayne

Re: Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gos

Post #8

Post by spayne »

Haven wrote:Western Michigan University philosophy professor and fundamentalist evangelical Christian apologist Tim McGrew has developed an interesting and, in his words, "compelling" argument for the veracity of the gospels that shows the documents have the "ring of truth."

In contrast to the prevailing views of Biblical scholarship on the authorship of the gospels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament#Authorship) and the methodology the authors used to gather information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markan_priority), McGrew believes that the gospels were written by their traditional authors (John Mark, Luke the Evangelist, John the Apostle, and Matthew) as eyewitness accounts.

Among other things, he bases his views on "undesigned coincidences" between the four gospels, cases where one author reports a given event and another author provides additional details not present in the other's writing. McGrew feels that non-eyewitness authors working from common sources (Q and Mark) couldn't include such undesigned coincidences; only eyewitness accounts could produce such information. He also believes that individuals looking to fabricate mythical accounts from whole cloth couldn't possibly create such coincidences.

Although this is an unorthodox argument for, well, an orthodox view of the gospels, it seems (at least to my untrained mind :)) to make some degree of sense in my opinion.

Here is the video with his argument (note, it's long):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wUcrwYocgM

Here is a "cliff notes" version of McGrew's argument:
http://thinkingmatters.org.nz/2011/08/t ... e-gospels/

Here's McGrew's response to an agnostic's critique of his hypothesis:
http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/ ... nskis.html

Here's a list of a few of the "undesigned coincidences:"
http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?p=190

Debate question: What do you think? Is McGrew right? Are there undesigned coincidences in the gospels? Do such coincidences indicate eyewitness accounts, or can they be explained through the traditional two-source hypothesis? Are such coincidences really undesigned, or could the authors of the gospels have colluded to make them up?
I have listened to a couple of different presentations on undesigned coincidences, including a lengthy interview with Tim McMgrew in which he cited several examples of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels. I just want to say that I believe this is awesome work and that you and Slopeshoulder are not giving it nearly the credit it deserves.

Haven

Re: Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gos

Post #9

Post by Haven »

spayne wrote: I have listened to a couple of different presentations on undesigned coincidences, including a lengthy interview with Tim McMgrew in which he cited several examples of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels. I just want to say that I believe this is awesome work and that you and Slopeshoulder are not giving it nearly the credit it deserves.
I'm very familiar with McGrew's argument, and I have read it (and listened to his talks on it) on numerous occasions. I've seriously considered the argument, as I do with all new theistic arguments I run across. I reject it because the so-called 'undesigned coincidences' are best explained by Markan priority rather than multiple eyewitness accounts.

What are your reasons for rejecting the scholarly consensus on this subject and accepting this fringe theory?

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Re: Are there "undesigned coincidences" in the gos

Post #10

Post by Slopeshoulder »

spayne wrote:
I have listened to a couple of different presentations on undesigned coincidences, including a lengthy interview with Tim McMgrew in which he cited several examples of undesigned coincidences in the Gospels. I just want to say that I believe this is awesome work and that you and Slopeshoulder are not giving it nearly the credit it deserves.
Awesome by what standard, and in what way? Awesome enough to overturn markan priority? Awesome enough to interject magic rather than reason and in do soing to un-do centuries of modern thought? Awesome enough to impress an audience outside of fundamentalist circles? Awesome enough to transcend the tainted psuedo-intellectualism that is the usual fare? Awesome enough to even establish the epistemelogical and ontological possibility or credibility of undesigned coincidences?
If this man truly overturned markan priority, he'd be the most famous biblical scholar in the world and the toast of the society for biblical literature. Is he?

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