samedi 9 avril 2016

Two rebuttals of Kalaam rebutted

1) Kalam, Loftus & Lindsay · 2) Two rebuttals of Kalaam rebutted

Shaun Doyle*

The Kalaam:

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • The universe had a beginning.
  • Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Rebuttal a) "who created God?" or "what is the cause of God?" or verbatim "what if God isn't eternal?"

Shaun Doyle answers, correctly, that (resuming):

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • Therefore, everything that has no cause has no beginning.

And from then:

  • Everything that has no cause has no beginning.
  • God (among others as conclusion of Kalaam, see above), has no cause.
  • Therefore, God has no beginning.

Rebuttal b) "Everything that is sentient has a cause."

  • Everything that is sentient has a cause.
  • God is sentient.
  • Therefore the God has a cause.

Shaun Doyle, again (quoting this time):

The Kalam argument usually takes this sort of form:

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • The universe had a beginning.
  • Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Subsequently, the nature of the effect (the universe) is analyzed to determine what type(s) of cause(s) could’ve produced it. Note that the form of the argument you presented doesn’t refute anything in the Kalām argument as presented above—even if God has a cause, the universe still needs a cause in view of it having a beginning. Rather, the argument you mention tries to show that no sentient being can be an uncaused cause, so that if we think that the cause of the universe itself has to be uncaused, it can’t be God because “Everything that is sentient has a cause”.

No problem with analysis, so far. Then:

Nonetheless, we would consider the argument unsound because the first premise is false. Why think that all sentient beings have causes? There is no evidence for the first premise. Worse, there are powerful positive reasons to reject the first premise. To avoid an infinite regress of contingent causes, we would need a first, uncaused, necessary being to ground the causal chain in reality. But how else could a necessary being cause a contingent effect, other than by being able to choose to create, which is of course something only sentient beings can do? Rather than it being problematic that the uncaused cause would be sentient, it’s highly likely that it would need to be sentient to be able to produce a contingent effect like the universe.

Here, I agree how Shaun Doyle argues that the first cause had to be able to choose.

However, he misses a point about sentient. "Everything that is sentient has a cause." : "Why think that all sentient beings have causes? There is no evidence for the first premise."

Actually there is, if we take the kind of sentience we find in biological sense organs!

Seeing is CAUSED by the light that hits the eye. Hearing is CAUSED by the sound that hits the ear. Feeling is CAUSED by roughness, smoothness, cold, heat, moisture, dryness and so on making an impact in skin and what is just underneath. Smelling is CAUSED by molecules dissolved in air hitting parts of the nose. Tasting is CAUSED by a more restricted gamut of molecules hitting parts of the tongue.

In order for us to argue God could choose, we must also argue that having knowledge and will by being a spirit is sth different and more "self-caused", less "caused from outside" than having the five exterior senses.

And to argue this, we need to argue that spirit in man, capable of moral and logical discernment and of categorising (as opposed to just catalogising) is sth wholly immaterial and above the mere brain, even the human brain.

Which is why a little scholastic revival of Thomism is in order for this kind of apologetics.

St Thomas Aquinas ... first, he did not use the Kalaam, he considered it impossible to prove its second premiss, that the universe had a beginning** ... his five ways lead to a FIRST mover who is not necessarily earliest. Good. A clockmaker could have caused the universe just to begin, but then let it continue without himself, St Thomas considers God more as an instrument builder who then is an instrument player (Six days : God doing the Stradivarius job, from then on : God doing the Paganini job), and considers the latter point ONLY (that God is moving or "playing" the universe right now) the only way in which to prove God.

BUT his Averroist opponents agreed on that and then argued that the God who/which is First unmoved mover, would NOT be aware of what He is moving. Why? Because awareness of sth outside oneself is (in all experience of our created awareness) in a sense to be "moved" or "caused" by what one is aware of. So they consider it was instead "the world soul" who, aware of the God who had caused him, moved itself and the universe with it, out of love of this superior (and unaware) God.

And St Thomas answers "not so with God : in His case, His being aware is what causes the things He is aware of to be."

We must agree, not just I the Catholic, but I think also Shaun Doyle on CMI. However, in doing so, the only consistent position is to distinguish the spiritual or rational awareness we have of generalities from the sense awareness we have of particulars. Distinguish, not separate. But distinguish we must. This means, certain positions of modern neuropsychology or whatever, saying that rational thought "is caused by" or "emanates from" or are "an emerging property of" certain parts of the brain have to be rejected.

The minimum is, if accepting brain cortex as "causa efficiens" of rational thought and choice in us, we must nevertheless consider it enjoys a "causa exemplaris" above that. But even this is too little, unless we say that the "causa exemplaris" really is exemplary for the "causa formalis" of our thought so much that our thought is a real similar image and not just a neurobiological miming of rationality as it exists in God and angelic beings. This however means that the brain cortex cannot be totally the "causa efficiens" even of our rationality, but there must be a real interaction between the two : reason receiving sense impressions from the brain as organ caused from outside, reason giving order (via brain to) body about looking at this, or listening to that or making the bodily choices impact the limbs that obey them.

And this, again, is a subject where Thomism was left and confused modernity began a few centuries ago. Descartes argued there had to be an organ which was the organ of exchange ... body outside it not directly connected to spiritual soul, and presumably soul apart from receiving sense impressions not directly connected to body. This organ was never found and this led to abandoning the theory, but not to returning (overall in general culture, outside a few clerical Catholic buffs) to the Thomistic view : "soul" (in whatever living creature) is "form of the body" (as alive - not of the corpse or cadaver!); "spirit" (in whatever spiritual creature or non-created) is "what is aware of itself and of other, what can known and chose, what can be wise and love" ; in man "soul" and "spirit" coincide.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Carrières Saint-Denis
St Mary Cleophas***

* CMI : Could God cause the beginning of the universe?
Feedback archive → Feedback 2016
Published: 9 April 2016

** That the universe had a beginning, St Thomas certainly believed, but JUST because of faith, because the Bible told him so.

*** In Judaea sanctae Mariae Cleophae, quam beatus Joannes Evangelista sororem sanctissimae Dei Genitricis Mariae nuncupat, et cum hac simul juxta crucem Jesu stetisse narrat.

jeudi 7 avril 2016

Two of These Quoted (Silent Historians Argument Revisited)

Silent Historians Argument Revisited : 1) Ten Extra-Biblical Writers or Sources on Reign of Tiberius · 2) Two of These Quoted

Vellejus Paterculus, Book II:
CXXIII (death of Augustus)
We have now arrived at a period in which very great apprehension prevailed. For Augustus Cæsar, having sent his grandson Germanicus to finish the remainder of the war in Germany, and intending to send his son Tiberius into Illyricum, to settle in peace what he had subdued in war, proceeded with the latter into Campania, with the design of escorting him, and at the same time to be present at the exhibition of athletic sports, which the Neapolitans had resolved to give in honour of him. Although he had before this felt symptoms of debility and declining health, yet, as the vigour of his mind withstood them, he accompanied his son, and, parting from him at Beneventum, proceeded to Nola; where, finding that his health grew worse every day, and well knowing whose presence was requisite to the accomplishment of his wish to leave all things in safety after him, he hastily recalled his son, who hurried back to the father of his country, and arrived earlier than was expected. Augustus then declared that his mind was at ease; and being folded in the embrace of Tiberius, to whom he recommended the accomplishment of his father’s views and his own, he resigned himself to die whenever the fates should ordain. He was in some degree revived by the sight and conversation of the person most dear to him; but the destinies soon overpowering every effort for his recovery, and his body resolving itself into its first principles, he restored to heaven his celestial spirit, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, and in the consulate of Pompey and Apuleius.

[CXXIV - CXXV on transition, beginning reign or Tiberius, on reign itself:]

Of the transactions of the last sixteen years, which have passed in the view, and are fresh in the memory of all, who shall presume to give a full account? Cæsar deified his parent, not by arbitrary authority, but by paying a religious respect to his character. He did not call him a divinity, but made him one. In that time, credit has been restored to mercantile affairs, sedition has been banished from the forum, corruption from the Campus Martius, and discord from the senate-house; justice, equity, and industry, which had long lain buried in neglect, have been revived in the state; authority has been given to the magistrates, majesty to the senate, and solemnity to the courts of justice; the dissensions in the theatre[97] have been suppressed, and all men have either had a desire excited in them, or a necessity imposed on them, of acting with integrity. Virtuous acts are honoured, wicked deeds are punished. The humble respects the powerful, without dreading him; the powerful takes precedence of the humble without contemning him. When were provisions more moderate in price? When were the blessings of peace more abundant? Augustan peace, diffused over all the regions of the east and the west, and all that lies between the south and north, preserves every corner of the world free from all dread of predatory molestation. Fortuitous losses, not only of individuals, but of cities, the munificence of the prince is ready to relieve. The cities of Asia have been repaired; the provinces have been secured from the oppression of their governors. Honour promptly rewards the deserving, and the punishment of the guilty, if slow, is certain[98]. Interest gives place to justice, solicitation to merit. For the best of princes teaches his countrymen to act rightly by his own practice; and while he is the greatest in power, is still greater in example.

It is seldom that men who have arrived at eminence, have not had powerful coadjutors in steering the course of their fortunes; thus the two Scipios had the two Lælii, whom they set in every respect on a level with themselves; thus the emperor Augustus had Marcus Agrippa, and after him Statilius Taurus. ... In conformity with these examples, Tiberius Cæsar has had, and still has, Ælius Sejanus, a most excellent coadjutor in all the toils of government, a man whose father was chief of the equestrian order, and who on his mother’s side ... In esteem for Sejanus’s virtues, the judgment of the public has long vied with that of the prince. Nor is it at all new with the senate and people of Rome, to consider the most meritorious as the most noble. The man of old, before the first Punic war, three hundred years ago, exalted to the summit of dignity Titus Coruncanius, a man of no family, bestowing on him, beside other honours, the office of chief pontiff ...(I am leaving out some things).

Having exhibited a general view of the administration of Tiberius Cæsar, let us now enumerate a few particulars respecting it. With what wisdom did he bring to Rome Rhascuporis, the murderer of Cotys, his own brother’s son, and partner in the kingdom, employing in that affair the services of Pomponius Flaccus, a man of consular rank, naturally inclined to all that is honourable, and by pure virtue always meriting fame, but never eagerly pursuing it! With what solemnity as a senator and a judge, not as a prince, does he * * * hear[100] causes in person! How speedily did he crush * * *[101] when he became ungrateful, and attempted innovations! With what precepts did he form the mind of his Germanicus, and train him in the rudiments of war in his own camp, so that he afterwards hailed him the conqueror of Germany!

  • [100] CXXIX. Does he * * * hear] Pressius audit. The word pressius, which can hardly be sound, though Perizonius tries to defend it, I have not attempted to translate.
  • [101] Did he crush * * *] Whose name should fill this blank is doubtful. Krause thinks that of Archelaus, king of Cappadocia.

What structures has he erected in his own name, and those of his family! With what dutiful munificence, even exceeding belief, is he building a temple to his father! With how laudable a generosity of disposition is he repairing even the buildings of Cnæus Pompey, that were consumed by fire! Whatever has been at any time conspicuously great, he regards as his own, and under his protection. ... (leaving out some detail)

Let our book be concluded with a prayer. O Jupiter Capitolinus, O Jupiter Stator! O Mars Gradivus, author of the Roman name! O Vesta, guardian of the eternal fire! O all ye deities who have exalted the present magnitude of the Roman empire to a position of supremacy over the world, guard, preserve, and protect, I entreat and conjure you, in the name of the Commonwealth, our present state, our present peace, [our present prince[104]!] And when he shall have completed a long course on earth, grant him successors to the remotest ages, and such as shall have abilities to support the empire of the world as powerfully as we have seen him support it! All the just designs of our countrymen * * * *

  • [104] CXXXI. [Our present prince!] The words hunc principem, which the text requires, are supplied from a conjecture of Lipsius. The conclusion of the prayer is imperfect.

[And Our Lord knew exactly how wordy this prayer was, as we can conclude from His observations on Pagan prayer.]

Tacitis : Agricola
Chapter 1
To bequeath to posterity a record of the deeds and characters of distinguished men is an ancient practice which even the present age, careless as it is of its own sons, has not abandoned whenever some great and conspicuous excellence has conquered and risen superior to that failing, common to petty and to great states, blindness and hostility to goodness. But in days gone by, as there was a greater inclination and a more open path to the achievement of memorable actions, so the man of highest genius was led by the simple reward of a good conscience to hand on without partiality or self-seeking the remembrance of greatness. Many too thought that to write their own lives showed the confidence of integrity rather than presumption. Of Rutilius and Scaurus no one doubted the honesty or questioned the motives. So true is it that merit is best appreciated by the age in which it thrives most easily. But in these days, I, who have to record the life of one who has passed away, must crave an indulgence, which I should not have had to ask had I only to inveigh against an age so cruel, so hostile to all virtue.

Chapter 2
We have read that the panegyrics pronounced by Arulenus Rusticus on Paetus Thrasea, and by Herennius Senecio on Priscus Helvidius, were made capital crimes, that not only their persons but their very books were objects of rage, and that the triumvirs were commissioned to burn in the forum those works of splendid genius. They fancied, forsooth, that in that fire the voice of the Roman people, the freedom of the Senate, and the conscience of the human race were perishing, while at the same time they banished the teachers of philosophy, and exiled every noble pursuit, that nothing good might anywhere confront them. Certainly we showed a magnificent example of patience; as a former age had witnessed the extreme of liberty, so we witnessed the extreme of servitude, when the informer robbed us of the interchange of speech and hearing. We should have lost memory as well as voice, had it been as easy to forget as to keep silence.

Chapter 3
Now at last our spirit is returning. And yet, though at the dawn of a most happy age Nerva Caesar blended things once irreconcilable, sovereignty and freedom, though Nerva Trajan is now daily augmenting the prosperity of the time, and though the public safety has not only our hopes and good wishes, but has also the certain pledge of their fulfillment, still, from the necessary condition of human frailty, the remedy works less quickly than the disease. As our bodies grow but slowly, perish in a moment, so it is easier to crush than to revive genius and its pursuits. Besides, the charm of indolence steals over us, and the idleness which at first we loathed we afterwards love. What if during those fifteen years, a large portion of human life, many were cut off by ordinary casualties, and the ablest fell victims to the Emperor's rage, if a few of us survive, I may almost say, not only others but our ownselves, survive, though there have been taken from the midst of life those many years which brought the young in dumb silence to old age, and the old almost to the very verge and end of existence! Yet we shall not regret that we have told, though in language unskilful and unadorned, the story of past servitude, and borne our testimony to present happiness. Meanwhile this book, intended to do honour to Agricola, my father-in-law, will, as an expression of filial regard, be commended, or at least excused.

So, the sixteen years from Tiberius' taking over to Vellejus' writing are summarised as "Tiberius did an excellent job, Sejanus was so helpful, Tiberius was so pious and generous, let us pray (wordy prayer to Pagan gods, not fulfilled in the events)".

And Tacitus' first book being Agricola, about the man who conquered Britain, when Julius Caesar had failed to do so, starts with saying "sorry we have no account for his carreer from back when it happened, but it would have been dangerous doing so, as seen from these examples, but thanks to Nerva, we can start breathing freely again, so here I go".

The authors of the New Testament are the ONLY contemporary historians we DO have of Tiberius' reign (if genuine, which I for other reasons think they are). There is not a mass of Historians from then whom we can consult and ask whether they shouldn't have mentioned Jesus, if he had existed. There is only those who DID mention Jesus.

The rest had works that became not only illegal (which NT was too, much of the times up to Constantine) but illegal and without sufficient support to survive anyway.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St. Jean-Baptise de la Salle

Ten Extra-Biblical Writers or Sources on Reign of Tiberius (Silent Historians Argument Revisited)

Silent Historians Argument Revisited : 1) Ten Extra-Biblical Writers or Sources on Reign of Tiberius · 2) Two of These Quoted

Of the authors whose texts have survived, only four describe the reign of Tiberius in considerable detail: Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio and Velleius Paterculus. Fragmentary evidence also remains from Pliny the Elder, Strabo and Seneca the Elder. Tiberius himself wrote an autobiography which Suetonius describes as "brief and sketchy," but this book has been lost.

I disagree about counting Velleius Paterculus as giving "considerable detail". He gives a few names and a lot of fancy words (fancy as in praise, not as in unusual words), and a few comparisons to (much more detailed) accounts of reign of Augustus.

I Tacitus
The most detailed account of this period is handed down to us by Tacitus, whose Annals dedicate the first six books entirely to the reign of Tiberius. Tacitus was a Roman senator, born during the reign of Nero in 56 AD, and consul suffect in AD 97. His text is largely based on the acta senatus (the minutes of the session of the Senate) and the acta diurna populi Romani (a collection of the acts of the government and news of the court and capital), as well as speeches by Tiberius himself, and the histories of contemporaries such as Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Pliny the Elder (all of which are lost).

II Suetonius
Suetonius was an equestrian who held administrative posts during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. The Twelve Caesars details a biographical history of the principate from the birth of Julius Caesar to the death of Domitian in AD 96. Like Tacitus, he drew upon the imperial archives, as well as histories by Aufidius Bassus, Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Augustus' own letters.

III Velleius Paterculus
One of the few surviving sources contemporary with the rule of Tiberius comes from Velleius Paterculus, who served under Tiberius for eight years (from AD 4) in Germany and Pannonia as praefect of cavalry and legatus. Paterculus' Compendium of Roman History spans a period from the fall of Troy to the death of Livia in AD 29. His text on Tiberius lavishes praise on both the emperor[9][97] and Sejanus.[98] How much of this is due to genuine admiration or prudence remains an open question, but it has been conjectured that he was put to death in AD 31 as a friend of Sejanus.

Own comment
There is a reason why VP is not among the sources of Tacitus or Suetonius. Rich in lavish praise, POOR in detail.

Let's get out of the article on Tiberius and look why :

IV Acta Senatus
Acta Senatus, or Commentarii Senatus, were minutes of the discussions and decisions of the Roman Senate. Before the first consulship of Julius Caesar (59 BC), minutes of the proceedings of the Senate were written and occasionally published, but unofficially; Caesar, desiring to tear away the veil of mystery which gave an unreal importance to the Senate's deliberations, first ordered them to be recorded and issued authoritatively in the Acta Diurna. The keeping of them was continued by Augustus, but their publication was forbidden.[1] A young senator (ab actis senatus) was chosen to draw up these acta, which were kept in the imperial archives and public libraries.[2] Special permission from the city prefect was necessary in order to examine them.


Own comment
Oh, so Julius Caesar wanted Acts of the Senate to be PUBLIC. Accessible to everyone.

Augustus wanted them to be OFFICIAL but CLASSED INFORMATION. Accessible only by derogation, except to Emperors.

V Acta Diurna
Acta Diurna (latin: Daily Acts sometimes translated as Daily Public Records) were daily Roman official notices, a sort of daily gazette. They were carved on stone or metal and presented in message boards in public places like the Forum of Rome. They were also called simply Acta or Diurna or sometimes Acta Popidi or Acta Publica. The first form of Acta appeared around 131 BCE during the Roman Republic. Their original content included results of legal proceedings and outcomes of trials. Later the content was expanded to public notices and announcements and other noteworthy information such as prominent births, marriages and deaths. After a couple of days the notices were taken down and archived (though no intact copy has survived to the present day).

Sometimes scribes made copies of the Acta and sent them to provincial governors for information. Later emperors used them to announce royal or senatorial decrees and events of the court.

Other forms of Acta were legal, municipal and military notices. Acta Senatus were originally kept secret, until then-consul Julius Caesar made them public in 59 BC. Later rulers, however, often censored them.

[This contradicts the info on previous article that Caesar initiated them and made them public, but Augustus made them secret.]

Publication of the Acta Diurna stopped when the seat of the emperor was moved to Constantinople.

Source for this article is:

Thank you for visiting the 1911 encyclopedia. This site is no longer available.

VI Marcus Cluvius Rufus
Cluvius was consul suffectus in AD 45, during the reign of the emperor Claudius.[2][3][4] He had been involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Caligula, but it is not known to what degree.[5]

As an ex-consul during the early part of Nero's reign, Cluvius knew many members of the emperor's inner circle,[6] He appeared as the emperor's herald at the games in which Nero made his appearance.[7][8]

During the year of the four emperors, Cluvius was governor of Hispania. Tacitus said "Spain was under the government of Cluvius Rufus, an eloquent man, who had all the accomplishments of civil life, but who was without experience in war." Nobody had been endangered by his actions during Nero's reign.[9] On the death of Galba, Cluvius first swore allegiance to Otho, but soon afterwards he became a partisan of Vitellius. Hilarius, a freedman of Vitellius, accused him of aspiring to obtain the government of Hispania independent of the emperor, but Cluvius went to Vitellius, who was then in Gaul, and succeeded in clearing his name. Cluvius is said to have pushed senators to demand more power from the emperor during the reign of Vitellius.[10][11]

  • [2] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XIX.1.13
  • [3] Suetonius The Lives of Twelve Caesars Life of Nero 21
  • [4] Cassius Dio, Roman History LXIII.14
  • [5] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XIX.1.13
  • [6] Suetonius The Lives of Twelve Caesars Life of Nero 21
  • [7] Suetonius The Lives of Twelve Caesars Life of Nero 21
  • [8] Cassius Dio, Roman History LXIII.14
  • [9] Tacitus, Histories I.8, Histories IV.43
  • [10] Tacitus, Histories IV.43
  • [11] Plutarch The Parallel Lives, Life of Otho 3

Cluvius Rufus was an important historian whose writing and testimony, though now lost, certainly shaped modern understanding of first century Rome. He was a contemporary of Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, but little is known of the extent of his work except that it related to events during the reign of these emperors. Cluvius was one of the primary sources for Tacitus' Annals and Histories, Suetonius' The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, Plutarch's Parallel Lives and probably for later historians.

Own comment
An intelligent guess: he knew too much, so his history was disposed of, but he was to close to power to be disposed of himself.

VII Fabius Rusticus
Fabius Rusticus was a Roman historian who was quoted on several occasions by Tacitus. Tacitus couples his name with that of Livy and describes him as "the most graphic among ancient and modern historians." Tacitus also said that he embellished matters with his eloquence.[1] Fabius Rusticus is described by Tacitus as a close friend of Seneca who was inclined to praise him in his work.[2]

Fabius Rusticus was a contemporary of Claudius and Nero, but little is known of the extent of his work except that it related to events during the reign of Nero. Fabius Rusticus was one the primary sources for Tacitus' Annals and probably for other later historians like Suetonius and Josephus as well.

Tacitus cites Fabius Rusticus when describing some of the most controversial aspects of Nero's life including Nero's alleged desire to kill his mother Agrippina the Younger,[2] Nero's alleged lust for his mother, [3] and Seneca's suicide.[4]


Own comment
Hmmm ... Tacitus had access to a rare lost copy of his work he's controversial and his work is lost?

Could it be that controversial historians about contemporary matters were not quite safe under, say, Nero or Tiberius?

VIII Aufidius Bassus
Aufidius Bassus was a Roman historian who lived in the reign of Tiberius.

His work, which probably began with the [-[Roman civil wars]] or the death of Julius Caesar, was continued by Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Elder carried it down at least as far as the end of Nero's reign. Bassus' other historical work was a Bellum Germanicum, which was published before his Histories.

Seneca the Elder speaks highly of Bassus as an historian; however, the fragments preserved in that writer's Suasoriae (vi. 23) relating to the death of Cicero are characterized by an affected style.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bassus, Aufidius". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Endnotes:

  • Pliny, Nat. Hist., praefatio, 20
  • Tacitus, Dialogus de Oratoribus, 23
  • Quintilian, Instit x. I. 103.

IX Pliny the Elder
Own comment
Naturalis Historia, his surviving work, is not relevant, but these passages of article on him are:

a) Literary Interlude
At the earliest time Pliny could have left the service, Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, had been emperor for two years. He did not leave office until AD 68, when Pliny was 45 years old. During that time Pliny did not hold any high office or work in the service of the state. In the subsequent Flavian Dynasty his services were in such demand that he had to give up his law practice, which suggests that he had been trying not to attract the attention of Nero, who was a dangerous acquaintance.

Under Nero, Pliny lived mainly in Rome. He mentions the map of Armenia and the neighbourhood of the Caspian Sea, which was sent to Rome by the staff of Corbulo in 58.[20] He also saw the building of Nero's Domus Aurea or "Golden House" after the fire of 64.[21]

Besides pleading law cases, Pliny wrote, researched and studied. His second published work was a biography of his old commander, Pomponius Secundus, in two books.[16] After several years in prison under Tiberius, AD 31-37 (which he used to write tragedies), Pomponius was rehabilitated by Caligula (who later married his half-sister, Caesonia) in 38, made consul in 41 and sent by Claudius as legatus to Germany, where he won a victory against the Chatti in 50 and was allowed a triumph. After this peak he disappears from history, never to be mentioned again, except by the Plinies, and is not among either the friends or the enemies of Nero.

The elder Pliny mentions that he saw "in the possession of Pomponius Secundus, the poet, a very illustrious citizen", manuscripts in the "ancient handwriting of Tiberius and Caius Gracchus".[22] The peak of Pomponius's fame would have been his triumph of 50 or 51. In 54 Nero came to power; at that time Pliny was working on his two military writings. Pliny the Younger says that the biography of Pomponius was "a duty which he owed to the memory of his friend", implying that Pomponius had died. The circumstances of this duty and whether or not it had anything to do with his probable avoidance of Nero have disappeared with the work.

Meanwhile, he was completing the twenty books of his History of the German Wars, the only authority expressly quoted in the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus,[23] and probably one of the principal authorities for the same author's Germania. It disappeared in favor of the writings of Tacitus (which are far shorter), and, early in the 5th century, Symmachus had little hope of finding a copy.[24]

Like Caligula, Nero seemed to grow gradually more insane as his reign progressed. Pliny devoted much of his time to writing on the comparatively safe subjects of grammar and rhetoric. He published a three-book, six-volume educational manual on rhetoric, entitled Studiosus, "the Student". Pliny the Younger says of it: "The orator is trained from his very cradle and perfected."[16] It was followed by eight books entitled Dubii sermonis, "Of Doubtful Phraseology". These are both now lost works. His nephew relates: "He wrote this under Nero, in the last years of his reign, when every kind of literary pursuit which was in the least independent or elevated had been rendered dangerous by servitude."

In 68 Nero no longer had any friends and supporters. He committed suicide, and the reign of terror was at an end; also the interlude in Pliny's obligation to the state.


b) Noted Author
During Nero's reign of terror, Pliny avoided working on any writing that would attract attention to himself. His works on oratory in the last years of Nero's reign (67, 68) focused on form rather than on content. He began working on content again probably after Vespasian's rule began in AD 69, when it was clear that the terror was over and would not be resumed. It was to some degree reinstituted (and later cancelled by his son Titus) when Vespasian suppressed the philosophers at Rome, but not Pliny, who was not among them, representing, as he says, something new in Rome, an encyclopedist (certainly, a venerable tradition outside Italy).

In his next work, he "completed the history which Aufidius Bassus left unfinished, and... added to it thirty books."[16] Aufidius Bassus was a cause célèbre according to Seneca the Younger,[38][39] a man much admired at Rome. He had begun his history with some unknown date, certainly before the death of Cicero,[40] so probably the Civil Wars or the death of Julius Caesar, ending with the reign of Tiberius. It was cut short when Bassus died slowly of a lingering disease, with such spirit and objectivity that Seneca remarked that Bassus seemed to treat it as someone else's dying.

Pliny's continuation of Bassus's History was one of the authorities followed by Suetonius and Plutarch. Tacitus also cites Pliny as a source. He is mentioned concerning the loyalty of Burrus, commander of the Praetorian Guard, whom Nero removed for disloyalty.[41] Tacitus portrays parts of Pliny's view of the Pisonian conspiracy to kill Nero and make Piso emperor as "absurd"[42] and mentions that he could not decide whether Pliny's account or that of Messalla was more accurate concerning some of the details of the Year of the Four Emperors.[43] Evidently Pliny's extension of Bassus extended at least from the reign of Nero to that of Vespasian. Pliny seems to have known it was going to be controversial, as he deliberately reserved it for publication after his death:[44]

[Quote within text:]
It has been long completed and its accuracy confirmed; but I have determined to commit the charge of it to my heirs, lest I should have been suspected, during my lifetime, of having been unduly influenced by ambition. By this means I confer an obligation on those who occupy the same ground with myself; and also on posterity, who, I am aware, will contend with me, as I have done with my predecessors.


Tacitus portrays parts of Pliny's view of the Pisonian conspiracy to kill Nero and make Piso emperor as "absurd"[42] and mentions that he could not decide whether Pliny's account or that of Messalla was more accurate concerning some of the details of the Year of the Four Emperors.

X Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (consul 58)
Own comment
Not citing article, since it does not even mention any activity as a historian.

Also, Tacitus cites him about "year of four emperors", not about Tiberius.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St Jean-Baptiste de la Salle

See also:, belonging to an earlier series, where a few others make this argument. A k a:

somewhere else : What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!
[On appeal to the 500, "most of whom are still alive"]

lundi 4 avril 2016

45 out of 78 Questions, only one with NOYB

Right here I cannot watch the video, so I just copied the questionnaire from description ... which is not giving all 78 questions.

Is Anne Frank burning in hell?

We do not quite know whether diary is real, so we do not even totally know her dispositions at last entry in it.

We also do not know (supposing diary was real, supposing she really meant herself what last entry in diary says about her) how much she stuck to it later.

We do not know when she died. If she did not die in camps, she has not come out in public to claim her identity, but there could be other reasons for that.

Even if she did die in the camps, that is not guarantee she had no chance of conversion.

A slip of paper in Hebrew letters (Hebrew or Yiddish, not her language, so by someone else) starts "God, when you COME BACK in Your Glory" ... words adressed by one raised as Jew (confer Hebrew letters) but became a Christian (we Christians believe God has become Man, has been walking visibly on Earth and will come back in His Glory).

So, she could have converted in camp.

How about Mahatma Gandhi?

Probably in Hell.

His anti-colonialism has contributed to the conflict now ongoing since 1948 between "India" and Pakistan (India really is the name of a continent or subcontinent of Asia, and Portuguese India belonged to it too, and was swamped by that state) and to the abolition of Portuguese India under his friend and successor Nehru.

His friend and successor Nehru has contributed to the ungodly and inhuman two child policy, to abortions and to sex selective abortions, and probably had Gandhijee's at least tacit approval.

In other words, if he's burning, I am not surprised.

Is Fred Phelps in Heaven since he believed in the divinity of Jesus?

I don't know what else he did.

Should a killer who genuinely repents at the end of his life go to Heaven?


A killer who's repented is not a menace in Heaven.

However, this does not mean he must totally always and everywhere be spared death penalty. In some cases, he could be a threat if, after repenting, he was exposed to same temptations.

Should a kind-hearted atheist go to Hell for all eternity?

An atheist who is kind-hearted should with all kindness we Christians can muster be converted to Christianity and go to Heaven.

Do kind-hearted religious people who just aren't Christian also deserve to burn?


Some do not deserve to burn and will be converted. Such was St Eustace (at least relatively speaking) before his conversion.

Some do and will burn.

Whether some do not even if remaining non-Christian as to explicitly held doctrine, for one thing, they would be few and for another we don't know if the case even exists.

St Gregory the Great prayed for Trajan, and some say Trajan was just temporarily relieved of Hell pains, others that he resurrected, repented and converted in his grave, and died as a Christian in answer to St Gregory's prayer.

Would you be happy in heaven if someone you loved was in Hell?

In Heaven one can not be unhappy.

And in Heaven one can know exactly why those who went to Hell went to Hell.

If your child were dying, and I hope that never happens, would just pray for them or would you take them to a doctor?

Usually both. Or if unambiguously dying so a doctor would be no help, send for the priest to get the child the last sacraments.

But I assumed you mean dying with some hope of not dying if given help.

And if you'd do both, which one do you think has more of an impact?

Usually both, on different levels.

Prayer per se counts more with the better efficient healer, but omitting going to the doctor, unless there was a reason (economic, illwill of medical team against independence of family), would count as sinful with God.

Whose prayers does God answer?

Those who are good, pray well and pray about things He knows are ultimately good.

In other words, if He doesn't answer with a yes, it may be that:

  • one is evil, in the state of sin;
  • one is praying with impatience or presumption or despair or with lack of devotion and reverence;
  • one is praying about a thing which, if obtained, would not be good.

And if it's ultimately His Will, why bother praying?

Because that condition is one of the things He has revealed He wills.

If you have cancer, what would help you more: Certain drugs, or prayer?

See above. As with "dying" (but still saveable) child.

If you had an amputated limb, would prayer ever bring it back?

My own, probably not. Some holier man's, if God was giving him the grace to work a miracle.

If you have an exam coming up, what would contribute more to a higher score: Prayer or more studying?

You should not be praying for an undeserved high score.

I actually did (when it was too late to do more studying, note it!) and found oral translations (from Latin or Greek) easier (or professors more willing to help) than I feared.

Or perhaps my prayer was rather a submission in advance to a failure which did not come.

If you prayed for me over YouTube right now, do you think I would know it?

I don't know. I am not doing it while I am writing.

[I did stop writing though and said a short one - you check, here it is 13:52 and I have been writing for some time now.]

What matters to God more: The quantity of people praying or the quality of their prayers?


If quantity matters, shouldn't the most popular team always win the Super Bowl?

Are people praying over a Super Bowl team praying for the right thing?

If quality matters, why do people you love sometimes die no matter what you do?

See above, plus we all must die since Adam sinned.

Is it possible that your prayers have no supernatural effect and only serve to make you feel better?

If I pray that badly, yes.

Would you ever admit it if that were true?

I might and might try to pray better.

That does not mean feel less good while praying.

Is there anything in your life that makes you doubt God's existence?

No, but some of His will to give me a decent life on earth and salvation afterwards.

How would your life change if you had serious doubts about God's existence?

Probably do same things, except write about my doubts instead of about my certitudes.

If I did that might open some doors and I do not want THOSE doors opened.

It's OK if an atheist edits my texts on paper or plays my sheet music, it's not OK if I have to sell my soul for it first.

Was Jesus white?

If by white you mean Caucasian (as not Negroid, not Mongoloid, not Amerindian), yes.

If by white you mean European, possibly as much as some of the Arabs and Shefarad Jews we see now.

Why does God seem more likely to answer the prayers of a talented athlete than a starving child overseas?

Why do you think He does?

If athlete prays for success and the starving child for another day's food, God is often hearing both prayers.

Why does God Seem to hate Africa?

Does He? That is news to me.

If a group of Africans swooped in to your community with the intention of converting you and your neighbors to their tribal faith, what would your reaction be?

In Paris, that is not quite theoretical. I have met both Neo-Khemetists, Neo-Babylonians, and Pentecostals (kind of Christian, but a heretical and tribal version of it), and I have told them they were wrong and why I thought so.

If some have been annoying, I have sometimes acted with some degree of annoyance.

Does God speak to you?


If God spoke to you and told you to kill someone, would you do it?

I should. Not sure if I would.

Saul would have been better off if he had killed as many Amalekites as God told him : all.

Is God always watching you?


How about when you're on the toilet?

He created my intestines (and yours).

How do you respond when someone who's not a Christian tells you about their religious faith?

If they do so politely, including when trying to convert me, I take notes on where they are wrong and politely tell them why.

Do you listen and consider what they have to say or do you just ignore them because they don't believe what you believe?

See above.

What do you make of Muslims who think the Koran is the true holy book?

What do they make of Hesiod, Joseph Smith and Numa Pompilius all also claiming revelations that come via one or more supernatural beings to each of these?

I would and do reject the claims of the Koran, precisely as I do with Book of Mormon, Theogony and the fortunately probably lost books of divination given possibly in Etruscan to Numa Pompilius.

Are they wrong?

I think I just told you.

Have you read the Koran?

Relevant parts. Surah V has "Jesus" denying "he" ever claimed divinity.

Mohammed wrote this or spoke the words later written down about 600 years after the events of Jesus' real life. Contradicting blatantly the canonical Gospels.

He had not got tradition from Christians to this effect, that is certain. He had not got it from Jews either, they deny Jesus was holy even as a man. We have no previously recorded tradition in between Jews and Christians on this matter, so Muhammed clearly either made it up "for peace" or got it from an angel whose real name was certainly not St Gabriel.

Why do you dismiss them so easily?

I think I have given sufficient reasons.

Is homosexuality itself a sin?

Homosexuality is kind of a rubber word.

Being momentarily attracted to someone of your own sex is not sinful if involuntary.

Indulging the feeling, even if not intending to act on it, is gravely sinful.

Acting on it in sodomitic or lesbian sex is very gravely sinful.

Should gays and lesbians have the right to get married?

Sure. A gay with a lesbian. And the other lesbian with the other gay.

If they want to. Sure they should at least have the right to.

Some might even find partners quite outside that community.

Why would God make people gay and then punish them for being gay?

Sobran is not being sent to Hell for being gay!

If you mean homosexual, see above. God never makes a man "that way" inescapably, and the circumstances that do (these days involved in school compulsion, homo networks among teachers, other teachers unwittingly acting out such agendas, or half wittedly while obeying directives they hope won't hurt too much) cannot be identified with God.

God never predestines anyone to evil.

If God's already sending gay people to hell, why do you feel the need to persecute them here on Earth?

If God is already sending unrepenting killers, thieves, slave hunters, drunkards to Hell, why should these categories also have a hard time on Earth?

Wait a second, in some cases they might be making a hard time for others who are trying to be better than they.

Less the case with drunkards and thieves than with slave hunters and killers, though.

Why does God playing hide and seek with all of humanity?

Because He has promised that those who seek will find.

Do you believe Jesus is coming back to Earth during your lifetime?


If you do, what do you say to the many generations of people who have been saying that for centuries?

It has in fact not been said continuously for centuries. It has been said over more turbulent times dispersed over centuries.

One thing I might say is that modern politicians have much more power for evil than a man like Frederick II the Stauffer or even Nero.

Technologies and higher taxes feeding administrations, of which neither the technological nor administrational means even existed back then.

Why is the story of Jesus' birth and life so similar to that of mythological beings well before his time?

[Not linking, due to a blasphemy.]

  • Buddha. Similarities are mainly moral and carreer-related. Non-spectacular claims need non-spectacular evidence, and I'll accept the evidence for both of these. That doesn't mean I accept Buddha's umtimate claims.

  • Krishna. It seems Zeitgeist has way overdone the parallels, by giving Krishna characteristics which never belonged to him either in Puranas or Mahabharata.

    Also, Christ's parents (mother and stepfather) "staying in Muturea" is probably apocryphical.

    Krishna has not claimed to be the Resurrection and Krishna did NOT either resurrect or ascend corporeally to Heaven. He was cremated and a poet dreamed of his soul descending and being discovered to be a god.

  • Odysseus. Parallel actually agreed!

    God wanted Pagan Greeks to have some hint of how He would be dealing with those persecuting the Church Whose Bridegroom He is. So he made Ulysses handle Antinoos as He will be dealing with Antichrist and the False Prophet.

    Also, providentially, one of the Pagan cults rival to Christianity (and involved in its perecution) was that of Hadrian, who in his turn made himself ominous to those sensitive to parallel. He had declared "god" his lover boy Antinoüs. This will probably also say sth about Antichrist.

    Oh, parallels are in crew. I looked them up.

    Well, like with parallels in single moral traits or carreer moves, having to deal with similar people is a very non-extraordinary claim. If I say I am dealing with Pharisees, I don't have to prove I am Jesus, just that Pharisees are still Pharisees. That they would be so even now is not a very extraordinary claim on the part of a Christian.

  • Romulus "becoming god" just disappears. Christ ascends to Heaven before astonished disciples. Romulus kills twin brother. Christ dies on the Cross.

    No, not very parallel, and neither are their types of birth.

  • Dionysus' parallels are heavily overdone. December 25 was not a relevant date either in original Greek (or pre-Greek) version or in Roman adaptations.

    He was not considered Alpha and Omega. He was not considered Sin Bearer. At least not in main paganism. Orphicism is another question and prepared Roumanians to become Christians (I mean Dacians).

  • Hercules shows every "parallel" trait in such a parodic way, that God certainly wanted to have had Pagans fall into that error before Christ, just so that when Christ came, they might say "oh, that is what it is like to descend to the Netherworld to free people" or "that is how it is like to wrestle with Thanatos!"

    The real events in his life only show he was a very strong man, not much more.

  • Glycon? A parody of Christ, after He came. Most probably.

  • Zarathustra. Most parallels are spurious, there is for instance no "Zoroastrian Eucharist".

  • Attis. Like with Hercules God wanted Pagans to have some idea of what was to come, as in case of annual deaths and resurrections of vegetation gods. However, like with Hercules, there are parts that come out as clearly parodic if compared to Christ. December 25 is a spurious parallel. Attis cult is less concerned with virginity than with full castration, a very evil thing, despite words of Christ falsely taken to recommend it (these being figurative and not literal).

  • Horus? Isis was not a virgin! Most other words said about Horus are simply stolen from the story of Christ and real mythological story of Horus is left out.

Is it possible that religion may have less to do with what's true and more to do with the circumstances of where you were born?

Conversions argue at least possibility of contrary exceptions.

An overall view is that sinful humanity tends to stick even to false heritage - but how much is due to not knowing of the alternative and how much is due to arguing oneself out of irksome duties of conversion (note, if Muslims felt any duty to convert to Christianity, some of them would be in really irksome positions - and some who are nevertheless do convert).