jeudi 24 janvier 2013

Give me Five ... Five Ways of St Thomas vs Atheism

J. L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982, from p. 87:

There is a popular line of thought, which we may call the first cause argument, and which runs as follows: things must be caused, and their causes will be other things that must have causes, and so on; but this series cannot go back indefinitely; it must terminate in a first cause and this first cause will be God. This argument envisages a regress of causes in time, but says (as Leibnitz for one did not) that this regress must stop somewhere.

St Bonaventura would agree here, though St Thomas Aquinas (with Leibnitz), granting more to the Atheist, did not. As far as earlier and earlier causes are concerned, it leads back to a beginning.

Why? Because the succession of moments is additive, like the natural numbers, which all have a beginning in one.

In vain does one invoke the number line, because that is a piece of fiction - what is on that line is relations, either proportional or additive or subtractive - and not actually numbers as answering the "how many". Let us put it like this: before you can use any "how many more than" or "how many less than" something else, you need that something else and it needs to be a number, a "how many" as such. Or before you can use any "how much more than" or "how much less than", you need an "how much", as such. If it is not a number, it is not per se additive or subtractive, and thus not a good parallel for the succession of moments in time.

History leads back to a beginning. Change as such cannot be an eternal state. That much we allow the popular mind and the Eleatic school. But let us get on to St Thomas Aquinas. Let us ignore, for the moment the necessity for history to have a beginning. Let us assume we saw no problem with an eternity depicted as Ourobouros biting its own tail. Let us in other words for a moment ignore our sanity as common people. Then we still have, says Aquinas, five ways to fall back on. Now, Mackie is going to criticise the five ways here:

Of Aquinas's 'five ways', the first three are recognizably (sic!) variants of the cosmological proof, and all three involve some kind of terminated regress of causes. But all of them are quite different from our first cause argument...

That is from the "earliest cause" argument of St Bonaventura. St Thomas uses "first" as in "first cause" in another way.

The first way argues to a first mover, using the illustration of something's being moved by a stick only when the stick is moved by a hand; here the various movings are simultaneous, we do not have a regress of causes in time. Similarily the 'efficient causes' in the second way are contemporary agents. Both these arguments, as Kenny has shown ....

... Has he now? ("Kenny" is A. Kenny, who wrote The Five Ways, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1969.) ...

... depend too much on antiquated physical theory to be of much interest now.

Do they? Well, not if Mackie is consistent with what he says in p. 91:

In fact, Aquinas (both here and in the first way) has simply begged the question against an infinite regress in causes. But is this a sheer mistake or is there a coherent thought behind it? Some examples ... may suggest that there is:

Whereupon Mackie goes on to repeat the real point of first and second way without bothering as to whether it is antiquated physics or not:

If we were told that there was a watch without a mainspring, we would hardly be reassured by the further inforation that it had, however, an infinite train of gear-wheels. Nor would we expect a railway train consisting of an infinite number of carriages, the last (sic!) pulled along by the second last, the second last by the third last, and so on, to get along without an engine.

The exact point of first mover (last carriage is of course an oxymoron in an infinite or circular number of such ! - but we see what he means) - except that Aquinas' man moving object with stick through his hand or smith hammering metal through hammer held in hand is replaced by engine and mainspring.

This might indicate that materialistic atheism is not so opposed to the three first ways as they like to pretend, its ahderents, when referring summarily to "Kant has refuted that", or confusing them with the regress of earlier stages that needs a beginning. It is only more into seeing the first cause as impersonal rather than personal. This is confirmed by what he does about the second way:

Again, we see a chain consisting of a series of links, hanging from a hook; we should be surprised to learn that there was a similar but infinite chain, with no hook, but links supprted by links above them for ever.

Indeed, we would. And here even Aquinas, unless memory fails me, is not quite as personal in the description of first cause as he is in description of first mover. Or becomes again in description of wise ordainer of the universe.

There is here an implicit appeal to the following general principle: Where items are ordered by a relation of dependence, the regress must end somewhere: it cannot be infinite or circular.

I would say the appeal is very straightforward and explicit ... but if Mackie wants to be obtuse, I cannot stop him.

As our examples show, this principle is at least highly plausible; the problem will be to decide when we have such a relation of dependence.

A problem? Whenever something changes, the change depends on something. Whenever something stays the same in things that could just as well change, the staying the same depends on something.

Does this apply to will? That would be an argument for determinism, unless will could be in at least a sense a "first cause" even for man's will.

Whether a thing changes or stays the same it exists. If it exists necessarily, it is the first necessary existence. If it does not exist necessarily, it gets its existence from somewhere else. And even necessary existence can get its necessity to exist from somewhere else. There also there is no regress back to infinity.

Now, Mackie tries to answer this:

Why, for example, might there not be a permanent stock of matter whose essence did not involve existence but which did not derive its existence from anything else?

Well, the problem with that answer is that modern materialism actually does identify matter as the primum ens per se necessarium. If there were such a stock of matter neither creatable (since not deriving its existence from anywhere else) nor destructible (since not reducible to anything else), it would thereby fulfill the condition of having existence as part of its essence. And it would therein contrast with configurations of matter that do not have the own existence as part of their essence but only as a result of the particular arrangement of matter.

One clarification, re p. 92:

Though we understand that where something has a temporally antecendent cause, it depends somehow on it, it does not follow that everything (other than God) needs something else to depend on in this way.

Rather: if it does not need it, thereby it qualifies as God in the kind of preciseness or approximation we are dealing with in the five ways. Anything which would not need something to depend on, would qualify as God. It is not as much in Q 2 A 3 as after it that St Thomas excludes from this "x" the solutions involving the manyfold, the composite and so on and so forth.

The modern atheism is very much the three first ways identified with an impersonal first mover, impersonal first cause of permanence also, impersonal first being, by itself necessary.

It does not quite dispense with the fourth and fifth way either. It does not - on the philosophical level we are dealing with here now, never mind they are better in practise, often enough - admit there is a real gradation of better and less good, of nobler and less noble, and therefore no noblest and best. Mind which would on ordinary views seem the best is according to it only an epiphenomenon.

Neither does it admit order depends on someone ordering the universe with wisdom, rather it says the universe arranged itself in the only possible lasting way - and that life arranged itself in many ways that simply failed before the life forms that right now are succeeding. The first part of that statement is either "steady state universe" or "big bang univere" and in either case (therein contrasting with part of the first way, the one that deals with the sun moving "as observed") non-geocentric universe. The second part of that statement is evolutionism.

Which is why, when dealing with modern atheism, it is not enough just to repeat the five ways, but one should also insist on:
  • - mind as a primary, since impossible as a side-effect of mindless things;
  • - geocentrism as closer to observation and making sense, at least if mind is accepted as a primary;
  • - dito for special creation, for non-evolutionary origin of the species we observe or at least the main ones;
  • - finally that the five ways were not meant to prove the universe is created at already that stage, Aquinas put them in Q 2 A 3 and it is only in something like Q 45 that we come to Creation, as the only possible emanation of being from the first cause, into non-divine (non-first-cause-like) entities, and there he has used part of it to establish that God is spirit and that the Three Persons of the Christian revelation are not absurd or impossible.

Part of the proof for God being a Spirit is God's simplicity, non-compositeness. Part of the proof for that is again God's upholding the rotation of the whole universe around earth as one unified movement, at least as I recall the parallel text of Contra Gentes. Which is probably exactly where Pope Urban VIII foresaw atheist consequences of allowing heliocentrism. His insistence on the sun moving as observed.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Francis of Sales

jeudi 17 janvier 2013

Richard Carrier Claimed Critical Thinking was Rare Back Then ...

1) somewhere else : History vs Hume

2) Creation vs. Evolution : More on the Hume Rehash by Richard Carrier

3) somewhere else : Richard Carrier Claimed Critical Thinking was Rare Back Then ...

4) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Did St Irenaeus Know Who Saint John was and What he Wrote?

Plato finishes his Republic with a fable about Er, coming back to life after being twelve days clinically dead as far as could be verified, and telling his near death experience, which brings on what Plato is really about: Cicero sees this was received with a stupid reaction, so he finishes his Republic with an account of Scipio waking up after a dream. And telling simply the dream.

Now, here are the actual words of Macrobius, when he wants to tell of why Cicero wrote what he wrote in Somnium Scipionis. I quote book I, chapter 1, paragraph 9, but some words are missing:

Hanc fabulam Cicero licet ab indoctis quasi ipse ueri conscius doleat, exemplum tamen stolidae uitans excitari narraturum quam reuiuiscere maluit.

On Richard Carrier's view, what happened must have been that the poor benighted people did not understand that Plato meant the fable as a fable, they took it literally because they had too little critical thinking. And Cicero wanted to avoid stupid credulity (having himself the then rare faculty of critical thinking, no doubt). And that is why he wanted his "teller" of the hidden things to wake up rather than return to life.

Are the missing words "ut reuera factam creditam" and "credulitatis"?


Here I fill in the blanks and then translate:

Hanc fabulam Cicero licet ab indoctis quasi ipse ueri conscius doleat irrisam, exemplum tamen stolidae reprehensionis uitans excitari narraturum quam reuiuiscere maluit.

"Although Cicero is at pain as being himself conscious of the truth that the fable was laughed at by the untaught, even so avoiding the example of stupid criticism he wanted his about-to-tell rather to wake up than to return to life."

So on Macrobius' view - and Cicero's too if Macrobius got him right - the untaught were not stupidly credulous, but stupidly critical. So far from believing a story of one risen from the dead because they lacked critical thinking, they laughed at it because they lacked an attitude of understanding and sympathy (one might venture: an attitude of peace, love and understanding) to what Plato had undertook.

Have we any reason whatsoever to doubt Cicero and Macrobius were right about the reception of Plato's risen Er? None that I can think of.

Critical thinking is not a rare achievement. It is what untaught people start out with. People back then were not willing to believe a miracle like that because a good man told it and good men don't lie. The reaction would have been a guffaw and something like:

"OK, you're a nice guy and all that, and don't take it personally, I'd like to believe in your god and all that, but raising someone from the dead is just plain ridiculous! That's not how the gods act. They may raise a dead to the stars, they may raise a dead to the Olympus, but they don't raise a dead to live again among men and be seen and touched by them. Sorry, better luck with the next guy!"

On top of that the Pagan back then was quite as allergic as AronRa to exclusive claims of any kind of god. So, let's take the Bayesian test for Christ's Resurrection: could it have been believed even if there was not any extremely good evidence for it, could it have been believed even if not true?

Heck no, of course.

If Christ did not rise from the dead, it is a miracle that a religion as exclusive against other gods as Judaism, and clearly related to it (and believe me, Judaism was ridiculed, when Horace was subpoenad as a witness he tried to wringle out of it with the worst excuses ever - one of them being he was now of the "curti Judaei" and had to observe some Sabbath or Newmoon*) could take over the Roman Empire and an even greater it could do so by the claim of someone having risen from the dead.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
BU** Nanterre
Saint Rosaline

*Ibam forte via Sacra ... I happened to be walking on Sacra Via ... Actually I misremembered, Horace takes the subpoena as the final release from someone even more annoying, a man wanting to be introduced to Maecenas.

For English translation click here, scroll down to IX, IBAM FORTE VIA SACRA

**BU = Bibliothèque Universitaire = University Library (Nanterre is the Paris X site).

jeudi 3 janvier 2013

History vs Hume

1) somewhere else : History vs Hume

2) Creation vs. Evolution : More on the Hume Rehash by Richard Carrier

3) somewhere else : Richard Carrier Claimed Critical Thinking was Rare Back Then ...

4) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Did St Irenaeus Know Who Saint John was and What he Wrote?

A: You don't need to listen beyond the 5:02 mark because he makes and assumption based upon his belief miracles don't exists therefore the rest is based upon that faulty assumption

B: No, he doesn't. He says that the notion of a Christian LEGION is absurd. Maybe you misheard what he said.

C: Assuming miracles do not happen is based on everything but belief. But that's not relevant in this case, because he said no such thing. You need to refrain from commenting until you obtain the necessary clarity of thought to follow a presentation.

Right, right. Only way to tell if Richard Carrier bases his argument on principled rejection of miracles is by hearing whether he said the actual words "I am basing this on the assumption that miracles do not happen".

Like, he could not wait with stating that (which he does later) and let the hearers, already favourable to that position, sip it in without quite noticing what they are doing?

But there is one other possibility of what he is basing his position on: he could mean that even Christians admit absurdity of miracles in any and every case except the Christian ones that are recorded in the Bible. And arguing from there he would not be presuming but arguing by parallel that everyone admits the extreme improbability of miracles. There he is simply wrong about the Christians he has to deal with, at least about me.

I do not reject the factuality of the miracle of the Christian legion. I do reject the total factuality of the Pagan explanation, namely I think it quite likely, given that Marcus Aurelius has surprisingly a Christian legion, that he would try to hide the fact. Also given that Christians were likely to blurt out who prayed to whom, it is likely he would try to push the praise on for instance an Egyptian magician. As well as begin persecuting those who would not buy that. And, yes, Marcus Aurelius intensified the persecution of Christians just after this happened.

D: Why would it be a faulty assumption to believe that miracles don't exist? I'd say that this would follow as the only rational belief given that one has never experienced miracles and that nobody seems to be able to substantiate claims of miracles.

Or are you saying that you can prove that miracles happen?

There's another aspect to denying miracles as well. If it was the case that miracles occur, then this means that both the historical and scientific methods are invalid ways to know things about reality and that for all we know, the universe could have been created miraculously 2 minutes ago with false history. This view is so problematic (and useless in the face of us not having any indication that miracles happen) that we're forced to abandon it and employ methodological naturalism.

That is a pretty idiotic inference, but most likely something like the one Richard Carrier uses without exactly telling us in this video, in order to bias the historic method - which basically he did right apart from this bias - in disfavour of miracles happening. As you see later in the video, he uses a list of most to least likely, and he is either putting likelihood of miracles very arbitrarily (except for atheists and other miracle-rejecters) at very close to zero or using a similarily falwed inference like that.

Now, Piggy made a similar inference against the Monster really being such (and it wasn't such, in the book, but his inference remains idiotic) by saying "if monsters exist, television and elevators wouldn't work". Newton never ever said his Physics only work in the absence of spirits and miracles. Neither did Aristotle, though he was on the same idiotic anti-miraculous line. He was also a necessitist, unless Averroës got him wrong and Thomas attributed Averroës' misunderstanding to him: he believed all on earth is ruled by the stars.

Except for that bias against miracles in the historic method as used by modern historians, very many miracles are proven historically. Like:
- Resurrection of Christ as well as a few other miracles
- Rain miracle of the Legio Fulminatrix
- Temple miracles announcing God left the temple in Jerusalem (and unlike his comment, God actually HAS tried to make the Jews see some sense before this happened, a try that led up to a crucifixion at Calvary).

I also hold that demons are able to do some miraculous seeming things, in so far as God permits it. And that accounts for:
- Delphic statues going out to fight the Persians (see Herodotus), unless that was done by guardian angels, temporarily masquerading as Pagan gods because the time for Paganism to cease was not come yet
- Glykon, the "god" with a human, talking head and the body of a serpent (very clearly demonic).

Also, not mentioned in this video, the demonic accounts for the dragonlike creature summoned by a Ceres priest to frighten the Christians, it ran amuck and St Front had to deal with it. This happened in Perigueux. In France it is known as La Gratusse.

Also, hinted at in the video, Simon Magus' initial success at levitation before the prayers of St Peter stopped him.

Now, if Simon Magus levitated and St Peter stopped him and all the city saw it, why have we no Pagan Historians saying it? Well, it happened when Nero ruled, he was not a man whom it was quite safe to contradict.

The Roman Historians of his time, except the Christian ones, are gone and survive only as quoted by later historians, such as Tacitus or Suetonius. A little the same thing that happened under the somewhat more lenient Marcus Aurelius. He could for a time tolerate a Legion where the Christians were leading - probably recruited as Pagans but converted - and pretend sacrifices to Jupiter Optimus Maximus were made when the legion really prayed to Christ, but he could not tolerate that they became known for having prayed to Christ for a miracle. So, when persecution had done its way to stop non-Christians from commemorating this Christian miracle, all one had to do was to bring in an Egyptian magician who existed at the time but who really had nothing to do with the miracle.

This is enough to answer Richard Carrier's allegation: "Clearly completely false legends of completely ridiculous miracles could arise very quickly and no alternative account survives."

Now, sometimes people do make inferences about what the world would be like if there were a God, but omit his logical step of asking whether the world as the atheist asking the question sees it is actually both accurate (it is inaccurate about miracles, if we are right) and also if the things the atheist sees rightly cannot be explained if there is a God (like existence of evil, by the way exaggerated in extent in one direction at least by the way atheists see miracle allegations as proof of an evil in the human mind). Let's ask the question the other way around: What would the world be like if there was NO god?

The universe would not have been starting with a mind. And in that case there would not have developed any minds later either. And in that case we would not have the minds that discuss these things.

I dealt with this in more detail in this post:

somewhere else : Atheism Very Shortly Stated - and Refuted

There are some fishy things about Richard Carrier and the Academic process (which I am out of anyway, as a drop out living on the street, but I know some of it) and about the process of debate too:

E: If your book really passed peer-review, why did you publish it at Prometheus and not a scholarly press?

F: Why didn't Richard Carrier bring up the column of Marcus Aurelius in any of his debates with Michael Licona? That seems suspicious.

G: Why won't Richard Carrier tackle the following?
1) The Miracle of Calanda
2) The Miracle of the Sun. [At Fatima in Portugal, 1917]
3) Our Lady of Zeitoun.
4) The Miracle of Lanciano.
5) The NDE of Pam Reynolds.

H: What do you mean "won't"? Has he said he was going to talk about specific miracle claims?

Actually the talk on Skepticon 5 starts out with a debunking of specific miracle claims a lot less easy to check than the better and more recently documented ones commenter G refers to.

I: Makes no sense, why would God help the Romans who supposedly were also killing xians . Shouldnt God be punishing the Romans ?

Not before some sufficiently important Barbarians sufficiently civilised are ready to become Christian.

... miracles are claiming things with extremely low prior probability.

What Richard Carrier refers to as prior probability or in a case of miracles rather prior improbability, is either a case of inherent improbability (the standard western atheist view of miracles) or of statistic improbability (the standard western atheist view of being present at a great battle or the signing of a peace treaty or the discovery of new technology like penecilline discovered because Fleming left bread to mold close to a bacterium culture, or the Christian view of all of these, but of miracles too).

In RC's view, miracles are very much below all the "usual suspects" (list provided below) and of causality he puts Martians or other Aliens or Matrix as number 4 but God as number 8 and the God of a specific religion as number 9, as least likely. There is very clearly a real prejudice against God and against specifically a God doing miracles if a thing like Matrix can be four or five where God is only eight and nine.

This is all a very great hotchpotch of confusing the two issues. How "the God of a particular religion" could be statistically less likely than "God" is clear, since any probability at all that God exists would give probability to share between more than one religion and each of them have only part of it. But even that is flawed, since the distinction is flawed.

When it comes to "God" the concept usually refers to - especially among Platonists (when explaining one meaning of Zeus=Jupiter=Ra, for instance), Christians, Jews, Mazdeists, Moslems, Mormons - the God of the universe, the Creator, Ruler and Judge of it all. Even a certain school of Hindooism has such a concept.

But each "God of a specific religion" among those (not to be confused with deities like Sea gods or Rain gods or Hermes=Thot=Mercurius) includes the concept of being "God" as such. They are not alternatives to God as such, they are more specific ways of identifying God as such. And if there is such a thing and He does miracles, it is very possible that He made one religion stick out too, both by the kind of miracles it includes and by the atmosphere, as Christianity does, see this earlier post:

ibid. Adam's Sin, Christ's Sacrifice, a Few Glosses

It's enough you have someone believe Jesus rose from the Dead to get Christianity, you do not need Him actually resurrecting.

That is claiming the "usual suspects" cannot be ruled out:

The Usual Suspects:
- Memory Sucks
- People Lie
- Speculation Gets Conflated with Fact
- (Or Fallacious Inferences Do)
- Mythmaking (Allegorising Story Making)

Now, let us rule them out each in order:
- Memory Sucks

What can bad memory do, really? I would be somewhat of an expert.

I recall Mull of Kintyre as being played in radio stations of Malmö either before Grandpa died or just after. But that would have been 76-77. And it seems Mull of Kintyre is from 78. OK, that could be fraudulent to gaslight people who recall it from 76/77 in any way, but assuming the hit is really from 78, this means I heard it later and conflated that with earlier memories. But this does not add any miraculous dimension (except in hindsight: "it would have been a miracle if you heard it in 76") to my memory of the song. Probable reason for bad memory if such: I was not often in that café after early 77, since I only came back on visits up to Easter 1980, in between I lived in Vienna. BUT the song was far better music than I actually heard in that café when I was going there on a less irregular basis, like once a month or once every two months.

Or another example, amusing to historians. I very long conflated the Boulgaroktonos emperor Basil II with the other Emperor who burnt one heretic, because that heretic was called Basil the Physician. But that emperor was not Basil II, and Basil the Physician may have shared tenets with Bulgarian Bogumils but was not clearly Bulgarian himself and his judge who condemned him to the stake was Alexios I Komnenos. And Bulgaroktonos was not so clearly concerned with burning heretics at all. Reason for my conflating these into Bulgaroktonos fighting Bulgars to fight and punish Bogumil heresy: I was seeing a parallel (and seeking a closer parallel than there was) between Byzantium and the Albigensian Crusade.

So, if I approached Gospels as a merely human document, I might not be sure that Jesus really fed thousands of people miraculously twice, it could theoretically (if they had not been guarded by the Holy Spirit) have been one gospeller recalling one number and another one recalling another one. Fourthousand vs fivethousand, twelve baskets vs seven baskets of leftovers ... could just humanly speaking have been one or two mistaking memories of mathematical non-miraculous aspect of the miracle. But will not do at all as an explanation of remembering a miracle if none such happened.

Read the accounts of the Resurrection: what plausible scenario could they be a badly recalled memory of, especially as it seems pretty definite from them that the memory of one helps the other?

- People Lie
And sure, even good people lie, if they think good will come out of it. Usually against, say, someone's sanity, or to put people on guard against someone they think a blackguard even if they cannot prove it. And sure, martyrs are not infallible witnesses to the truth of their religion BUT martyrs are not likely to be martyrs for their own lies. That is the point about the moral impossibility of Apostles being liars.

Nor are martyrs likely to be people who became Christians for mere bread and then pretended to see miracles even if they saw none, as going along with nice people: such adherents fall off pretty quickly in persecution, if they can.

- Speculation Gets Conflated with Fact
Like Richard Carrier's speculation about the inherent improbability of miracles or of God being a cause of specific events?

- (Or Fallacious Inferences Do)
Like Richard Carrier's one commenter's fallacious inference that if miracles could happen neither scientific nor historic method would work?

- Mythmaking (Allegorising Story Making)
Euhemerus thought that certain divine figures were kings of the remote past. Maybe he had specific evidence we have lost or have interpreted otherwise. Maybe he was right about some, like Hercules and Romulus, who certainly had an earthly existence and interacted with persons related to certainly real ones (Romulus was first of only seven kings, Hercules was grandfather of Heraclids leading Doric invasion). It is not all that likely, it is not likely in the least, that a pure allegory gets a life on earth among men for free. Osiris did hardly walk among men, since the Pharaos after him are very probably mere myths too. Woden seems to have tried the same stunt as Simon Magus did, but since no St Peter prayed for him to be stopped, he succeeded in Upsala. Krishna may very well have been charioteer of Arjuna and Pantheistic philosopher on top of that. That makes none of these a real god but some clearly real men. All this is much likelier than three stages: 1) solar allegory, 2) placing it on earth, 3) mistaking it for real history.

All three of last, but without the ad hominem: for speculation or fallacious inference to be conflated with fact or for a story to make all the way through the stages allegory, euhemerised allegory (if there ever was such a thing), mistaking that for real history, we need several stages of transmission.

We do not have them. Textual Critics will serve them on a plate to Atheist or other Non-Christian Historians, but they use their own fallacious inferences from antimiraculous prejudice in order to get there.

And Eyewitness account cannot be fifth after "physical necessity." Richard Carrier said, Caesar had to cross the Rubicon in order to get where he wanted. Fine enough, but it is not a physical necessity, it is from eyewitness accounts, that we have that he got there or existed in the first place.

Now, I saved (at first unconsciously) the reference to the "ridiculous" miracles in the life of St Genevieve to the last. It is her day today and I am in Paris.

Now, I do not find one single of the miracles attributed to God in connexion with her unbelievable.

I do not find it ridiculous that her mother stopped her from getting to Paris to be a nun and went blind and regained her eyesight only as she allowed her fourteen year old daughter to get in and become a nun. Certain ugly modern minds might think "how ridiculous, they are saying God supported the tantrum of an immature teenager" - but we are saying that. We are perhaps not of your mind about what constitutes irrationality in a tantrum or mature enough age to get to become a nun, or for that matter to marry.

In Roman Law, a boy might marry as soon as he was fourteen and a girl as soon as she was twelve - just as legally as GB has it 16/16, and as France had it 18/15 up to 2006. Imperial Austria had 18-21(if I recall correctly)/14-21 with younger ages for each sex depending on parental consent. Spain one hundred years ago had 14/12, just as Roman Civil Law and as longstanding Roman Catholic Canon Law.

No, I do not find it ridiculous that God supported her ideal of becoming a consecrated virgin that soon, or that He punished her mother for delaying it. God created teens and might not like parentla tyranny, even when modern psychology supports it.

I do not find it ridiculous that once or twice she raised a drowned boy from the dead. Or levitated a ship, if she did - though I cannot recall that one from my reading of her lives (two of them) in Acta Sanctorum by the Bollandists.

The antimiraculously prejudiced Richard Carrier finds it worthy of ironic snicker that her biography was written only ten years after her death (if it was, I do not know when it was written) by someone who knew her.

Now, if we go to another saint with very many miracles, like Severin of Noricum, his biography was written by Eugippius. And Eugippius did not write it in Noricum, but in Naples. He also wrote it clearly after Severin died. This has been used to indicate that a man in Naples cannot really have known a man in Noricum, alias mid Austria of our times, and therefore the account is bullshit.

However, we know from same biography that St Severin negotiated with Odoacar the peaceful exile of the Romans of Noricum, and that their goal of exile was precisely Naples. It stands to reason Eugippius was close to Severin in his latter days (but not his early carreer, which would have coincided with Eugippius' childhood) and that he had been in Noricum before the negotiated exile, i e up to when St Severin died. So much for an Eugippius who freely invented what he had no reasonable knowledge about!

Now, as a general rule, biographies are written by people who have known them. Or, earliest biographies are. Belloc wrote about Richelieu and Louis XIV, whom he did not know, but he based his work on much earlier biographies. And sure enough, Agricola's biography was written by his son in law Tacitus, and Chesterton's biography apart from the Autobiography (obviously not updated till his death) was by Maisie Ward, who had connections both by social status and by common implication in Catholic Apologetics, plus access to archives to go by. Humphrey Carpenter has colaborated extensively with Christopher Tolkien. The common procedure is not that some important person lives and dies and then someone else writes nonsense about someone he never knew, the ordinary procedure is that people - except Atheists on Arguing Business - know what they write about before they start writing.

I therefore argue it is supremely improbable that St Genevieve's biography was not written soon, that Eugippius did not know St Severin of Noricum, and that Gospels (except the fourth) are from fifty years later rather than by Matthew (eyewitness), Mark (having access to at least eyewitness St Peter plus to Gospel of St Matthew), Luke (having access to several eywitnesses, including the Blessed Virgin) and John (eywitness, as he states himself), though he wrote some sixty years after the facts.

The only thing Richard Carrier has to show against this is antimiraculous bias, and Textual Criticism based on such bias, the socalled Higher Criticism, which Popes such as Leo XIII so rightly, not just for the faith, but even for reason, condemned as a sham.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
in Paris (Lutetiae Parisiorum
uel Parisius)
St Genevieve's Day