Scholar or Myth maker? Yes! History of Scholarship Amateur Scholarship
Con: J. Z. Smith Con: AD Nock Con: BM Metzger Sourcebooks
Literary analysis of scientific questions

The scholarship of

Dr. Gary Habermas, PhD, MA, BRE

Chairman of the Department of Philosophy & Theology


Liberty University, the Largest Christian University in the World


Distinguished Research Professor
holding an Appointment teaching in the PhD Program
Liberty U School of Religion

Habermas-Licona-Craig are trying to use literary analysis
to prove stuff happened that violates the laws of nature.



Mike Licona, PhD

William Lane Craig,
PhD, Dr Theology

Proving God Scientifically
I don't have to tell you Drs Habermas, Licona and Craig are smart, friendly Christian philosophers who have worked out intricate systems proving "the best explanation" of the "data" is that Jesus' resurrection was real, and God too. Simple faith is valid, but it isn't necessary. The things pew Christians believe by faith, scholar Christians can prove by evidence.

By the time you're done with this page, you'll see this reasonable faith business for what it is: myth. These smart, friendly Christian philosophers make up facts to get their "science" to come out the way they know is has to—Jesus is God. Beautiful.

Perpetual motion
Just by having read this deeply into POCM, you identify yourself as the sort of intelligent person who will already be familiar with the history of perpetual motion machines. Leonardo D. Vinci invented one in the 1400s. People make them still today. A popular version is the "overbalanced wheel," with weights that fall closer to the center in one half of the wheel and farther in the other. The farther-out weights pull their side down and the wheel rotates forever. At least, that's what their inventors expect.

In fact, overbalanced wheels never  rotate forever. Friction drains away kinetic energy, and they all always stop. In spite of clever engineering by inventors as smart as Leonardo, the simple principles of friction and energy make perpetual motion a classic archetypal exemplar of paradigmatic textbook crackpot science.

But before we get too full of ourselves, here's a challenge. Analyze a perpetual motion machine using just the facts and reasons it's inventor used. Suppose you didn't know about friction and energy. Suppose all you knew was what the inventor considered: levers and gears and gravity. Now, pick one of these machines, and say why it doesn't work. Not so easy, is it? Look at the pictures. We want them to work. They ought to work. But they don't.

Seeing why any particular perpetual motion machine doesn't work can be way hard. Without an abstract understanding of what's going on, even smart, friendly philosophers can get sucked into crackpottery.

Crackpot apologetics
As with perpetual motion machines, it's helpful to think about Habermas-Licona-Craig apologetics at a level of abstraction: What are they really trying to do? Inventors of perpetual motion machines are trying to make a machine that creates energy out of nothing. Inventors of proofs of bible miracles are trying to use literary-historical analysis to prove stuff happened that the laws of nature say can't happen.

Let's try an example. Away back in Jesus' time walking on water was a standard miracle. Let's investigate whether people back then really did walk on water. For starters, let's agree that according to our understanding of how things work, Walking On Water never happens .

  • WOW never happens in the "inductive" sense that we've all seen people jump or step or fall or canon-ball on water, and they always sink in, and we figure they always will.
  •  WOW is impossible in the sense that over the last several centuries people have created a model of the world, and walking on water is incompatible with that model.

Our model has atoms and molecules and solids and liquids and gravity. If you get a bunch of solid person molecules to step on the surface of a bunch of liquid water molecules, gravity makes the solid people molecules sink. Leaving aside tricks like they're wearing canoes for shoes, if a person stands on water and doesn't sink, then molecules and atoms and gravity didn't work the way our model says they work. Walking on water isn't just unexplained by our model, it is contrary to it. According to our model of how the world works, walking on water is impossible.

Which is pretty much the point.     >>

He [Nicodemus] came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
New Testament, Gospel of John, 2d century AD?, Chapter 3, v 2

An ancient Walk On Water story—is it true?

You and I have decided people cannot walk on water but here, in the blue box, direct from the pens of the ancients, is a bible time story of people who did just that.     >>





"You are joking," said Cleodemus: "I myself was formerly more incredulous than you in regard to such things, for I thought it in no way possible that they could happen; but when first I saw the foreign stranger fly—he came from the land of the Hyperboreans, he said— I believed and was conquered after long resistance. What was I to do when I saw him soar through the air in broad daylight and walk on the water and go through fire slowly on foot?"

"Did you see that?" said I — "the Hyperborean flying, or stepping on the water?"

"Certainly," said he, "with brogues on his feet such as people of that country commonly wear.

  Lucian, Lover of Lies, Chapter 13 (2d century AD), -- which you can find in: Henderson, Jeffrey. Lucian III (1921/ 2004), pg. 339

There are a couple ways to analyze whether Lucian's Walk On Water story is true. That's if you really don't see that pre-scientific cultures are full of this sort of magic, and you really really think ancient magic stories need  scholarly analyzing. If you do think that, here are two methods of decidance:

Dr. Habermas, of
Liberty University   the Largest Christian University In The World.

1 The Haber-method—literary analysis
Dr. Habermas has worked out a technique is to analyze the "data," which he says consists of "minimal facts" that he says are accepted by "most scholars." The analysis is done, supposedly, according to criteria supposedly "accepted by historians."
Let's do a Haber-method on Lucian's story. Lucian records Cleodemus'ss description of people walking on water. The careful scholar will note that what we have here is a first hand, eye-witness account. The record is contemporary with the events. Lucian was personally acquainted with Cleodemus, and his writing here confirms his long personal experience with Cleod.'s truthfulness. This is just the sort of convincing evidence trained, professional historian scholars would love to have for other ancient events.
What's more Cleomedes himself was originally a skeptic whose opinion changed only after his personal, did I mention, first hand experience.
If non-believers had wanted to refute Cleodemus'ses story, they could easily have presented contrary eyewitnesses—the account is, after all, contemporary. Yet Lucian records the account as true.
What we observe here is a pattern emerging of multiple independent lines of evidence converging on the conclusion that the best explanation of the data is that Cleomedes' account is correct.

And so on and on.

2 Scientific analysis of a literary question
People can't walk on water. Lucian's story is phony. Next question?

What the Haber-method asks us to believe happened is not possible. Either Lucian's story, like tens of thousands of other primitive magic stories from every corner of the world, is phony, or our atoms, molecules, and laws of nature model of the world is wrong.


Habermas-Licona-Craig are trying to use our laws of nature to prove something happened that violates our laws of nature.

  • Relying on our experience and understanding of what happens in the world, Habermas-Licona-Craig can prove Jesus died and came back to life.
  • According to our experience and understanding of the world, dying and coming back to life is impossible, so the fact it happened proves Jesus overcame the laws of nature. Jesus is God.



Perpetual motion machines can't work because they are trying to create energy out of nothing. Proofs of impossible bible miracles can't be correct because they try to use our model of the world to prove something happened that our model says can't happen.

That's it. That's all you need to know to be absolutely certain Habermas-Licona-Craig miracle proofs are wrong.

Only God can do that.

Before I show you that Habermas-Licona-Craig scientific miracle proofs are mythic, let me remind you what POCM means by "myth."

When a subject has meaning, what people care about is the meaning. If something is important and someone's telling about it, the facts they tell are the facts that show the meaning. That's what they should do.

But pretty soon folks are not just picking facts, they're stretching facts. George Washington the boy cut down a tree but 'fessed up, because He Could Not Tell a Lie. Mother Teresa cured cancer With Her Holy Touch. Experts say the John Rylands paperus proves scientifically the Gospel of John was written before 125 AD.

People who stretch facts like this are not  liars. Remember, they're telling a story whose meaning they already know. They're not lying, they're filling in details as they know they must have happened.

And of course when stretchers fill in details, the facts they choose are facts that make sense to them, to their culture, to the time and place in which they live. When the person who wrote the Gospel of Matthew filled in the bit about Jesus' birth, he included divine prophesy and magic dreams, because those were standard ideas away back then. This makes it easy for us to spot old myths; they're stretched out with ideas we don't believe. Prophecy. Magic dreams. But it makes it hard for us to spot modern myths; they're stretched out with stuff from our own time and place, stuff from our culture. Habermas-Licona-Craig stretch their stories with "facts" about science and expert opinion—just the sort of stuff we ourselves are suckers for.


Deconstructing the Habermas-Licona-Craig apologetic
You already know the Habermas-Licona-Craig apologetic contradicts itself, but as with perpetual motion machines, it can be hard to see why any particular element of the apologetic doesn't work. It helps to understand where Habermas-Licona-Craig ideas come from.

Habermas-Licona-Craig ideas about Jesus rising from death begin and end with the bible. The bible's ideas about people rising from the dead were ideas common in ancient Mediterranean culture, which explained rising from the dead the same way it explained lots of things—as caused and controlled by the invisible power of purposeful God-beings. For Habermas-Licona-Craig, Jesus didn't just rise from the dead, He rose from the dead because an invisible God-being wanted it to happen, and made it happen.


OK, fine. If you believe things happen because some people, and invisible God-beings, have the power to force atoms and molecules to move some way other than the way they would otherwise move, then Habermas-Licona-Craig apologetics is just the thing for you.

The problem the Three Apologists have is, modern people, the people they hope to bring to Jesus, don't  believe in magic powers. "Scientific" apologetic has to sneak magic in on the QT.

In Star Wars they use the Greek word dunamis, δυναμις; in the bible they say "The Force"

Now we know what to look for. To spot the trick in Habermas-Licona-Craig proofs, look for the step of the apologietic...

  • ...that connects the "data" with the conclusion that atoms and molecules moved in a way they wouldn't or couldn't, unless some magic force were involved.
  • ...where the Apologist does what mythologizers always do— just make stuff up.


Habermas & Licona's "Best Explanation of the Data"
Nothing shapes our lives as much as technology. Nothing convinces us more than science. No surpise that hillbilly scholars purdy up their apology with scientific sounding lingo.





Scholars Say



Hide the pea


Probability Science


I am not the first person to notice this apologetic contradiction. It comes up so often that apologists have worked out what they seem to see as a winning riposte: Worldview. The apologetic goes like so:

Skeptics are unconvinced by Habermas-Licona-Craig miracle proofs because —even before they consider the evidence!— skeptics unreasonably and arbitrarily choose to believe miracles are impossible.

Believers approach the evidence without preconceptions. They don't arbitrarily and unreasonably rule out miracles. Believers just go where the facts and data take them.

The worldview business sounds pretty good. It ought  to work. But we know it's trying to use our model of the world to prove something happened that our model says can't happen. It can't work. But why maybe isn't obvious.


I'm still working on this page 

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle. . . .When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened.
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.



Good Books for this section