Messianic Prophecies- The Case for Jesus (Part 3)


Enjoy the podcast:

With Part 3 in our series on Messianic Prophecies and my “Jesus or Bust” circumstantial argument, we will focus exclusively on perhaps the most famous Messianic prophecy of all time (according to a traditional Christian understanding at least)- the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

Establishing The Argument- Jesus Or Bust Part 3

The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53);

The Suffering Servant prophecy is arguably the most famous Messianic prophecy ever; it alone has caused many a Jew to see Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and convert to Christianity.  The full song actually starts in Isaiah 52:13 through to the end of chapter 53, but the overall context includes chapters 40-54.

The text in full context speaks of an individual known as the righteous servant (aka. the Messiah) who would be led like a lamb to the slaughter for the iniquities of all, he would be killed making his grave with the wicked and yet be buried with the rich.  However, the most fascinating thing is that the prophecy then speaks of the Messiah as prolonging his days and seeing his progeny- how can a man who is “cut off from the land of the living”, see future generations of his offspring?  The answer is Resurrection!  That’s right, this verse incredibly says that the Messiah will suffer and die for the sins of everyone and then raise from the dead.

Now, this verse obviously means to speak of Jesus, there is no question about the existence of such an unfalsified claimed fulfillment here, however there have been multiple pushbacks from modern Jews and skeptics who try to undermine the clear and obvious meaning of this text.

The Main Objection- The Prophecy Speaks of the Nation of Israel; This skeptical notion can easily be refuted.  That said, there is some truth to the claims of Jews that there are some places in the surrounding context that do speak of the “Servant” which unmistakably refers to the nation of Israel as a whole (Ch. 41:8-9, 42:19, 43:10,44:21 & 48:20 for example); the context speaks of the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian exile.  However, there are other times where the surrounding chapters clearly refer to an individual within the nation (such as Ch. 49:5-7 & 50:10).  In fact, all references to the Servant as being the nation of Israel abruptly stop as of chapter 49 and instead focus the discussion on a specific individual who would represent the nation of Israel and bring to fruition Israel’s divine mission which it had failed to do as the now “blind servant” (contrast this with the Righteous Servant- the Messiah).

By the time we get to chapter 52:13-53, we receive a clear picture of an individual who would suffer and die for the transgressions of his own sinful people while at the same time being sinless himself and who would bring light to the gentiles in the form of God’s salvation and the forgiveness of sins (hardly an accurate description of the nation of Israel which is described as being blind in the surrounding context).  The Resurrection of Jesus is also prophesied in how this Servant would, after death, see “his seed” through the prolonging of his days (“see seed” is meant metaphorically here as this is the only location in the entire Old Testament where this phrase is used and thus dogmatically interpreting it in a physical sense is unwarranted even according to Jewish Rabbis like Professor J. Immanuel Schochet.

Furthermore, the modern Jewish national interpretation of this text did not exist in any ancient authoritative source from the Talmud, Aramaic Targums or any Midrashic literature until Rashi in the 11th century- every ancient authoritative source we have says this text is about an individual and most say that individual is none other than the Messiah himself.

So, Jesus is a perfect match for this prophecy and indeed the only known match here- the nation of Israel cannot be the proper reading of this text no matter what your local Rabbi says!

CONCLUSION:  In closing, there are other objections that have been leveled against this text as well, all of which can and have been easily refuted by knowledgeable biblical scholars.  For now, I think it is enough to have addressed probably the main objection raised by Jews and David himself in response to this and some of the other prophecies I mentioned in Part 2; they simply do not mean what the skeptics want them to; the Hebrew grammar matters and rules out the various attempts to obfuscate the clear meaning of the text which clearly apply to Jesus.


PRO- CHRISTIAN SIDE-  Dr. Michael L. Brown gives a 1-hour lecture on “Isaiah 53, the Rabbis, and the Messiah”  , also a short 10 min video on Suffering Servant not being the Nation of Israel and/or righteous remnant = ( also for the fuller 2 part discussion where this clip comes from see here = & ).  Also a special 5 min video discussing this issue with Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Dr. Michael Brown, Dr. Walter Kaiser, and Dr. Darrell Bock = .

CONTRA-CHRISTIAN SIDE- See Rabbi Tovia Singer has 2 one-hour part audio Podcasts on Isaiah 53 (and other issues as well) here =  OR a written article by him here = .  Also see articles by Jews for Judaism here =  & .

NEUTRAL SOURCE- Here is a quick 36 min debate on Isaiah 53 with Dr. Michael Brown and Rabbi Asher Meza here =

Let Isaiah Speak for Himself (Skeptic’s View)

Last week I made a plea for readers to let the Jews speak for themselves, and posted insights from a Jewish rabbi. He is not a Jew for Jesus, as the ones Dale is fond of bringing up, but a Jew for Jews and Judaism, which seems to be a rather more honest approach. In the principle of philosophical charity, you try to represent the best and truest view of the opponent. Dale does not do this. He presents fringe views of Judaism to represent the whole. I do not find his efforts convincing, and neither should you.

I will go ahead and post another Jewish source up front:

It does a better job of taking down the Christian interpretation of Is. 53 than I could. But it doesn’t really matter because Christians like Dale really don’t care what actual Jews professing judaism really think. He is only interested in the minority view. Still, I recommend the article for those who care. I can dig them up all day. And so can you.

This week, I make a plea that we let Isaiah speak for himself, without the Christian gloss. A Christian reads Isaiah with a certain tint this her lenses. Without a Jesus filter, the Jew reads the passage and finds Jesus nowhere in it. What is the difference? We get a few clues from Dales above arguments. So before quoting Isaiah, allow me to quote Dale:

Now, this verse obviously means to speak of Jesus, there is no question about the existence of such an unfalsified claimed fulfillment here, however there have been multiple pushbacks from modern Jews and skeptics who try to undermine the clear and obvious meaning of this text.

(Emphasis mine.)

His piece is chock full of such pronouncements of how obvious it is, and clear, and easy to see. He makes the leap of ascribing motive to the opposition by suggesting we are purposely trying to undermine the clear and obvious meaning of the text. Why would we do such a thing? Either we are stupid or dishonest.

Frankly, that one paragraph should disqualify Dale’s argument. Never-mind the slightly ad hominem undertones. It is written like a person unfamiliar with literature. Modern poetry is almost inscrutable. And it is written in our time, for our culture, by people we know, in a language we understand. Try interpreting a Dillan song. Get back to me on that.

Send the poet back a few hundred years, and we have to get four-year college degrees to figure it out. And we never really figure it out. We are only ever qualified to enter the debate. Send the poetry back a few thousand years, and we are rightfully lost. Interpreting that kind of literature should never be bracketed with words like obvious and clear. The only people who think Jewish religious poetry is obvious and clear are thous who know little about literature, and nothing about Jewish poetry. With his post, Dale identifies himself as one of those.

Let’s pick up the reading at verse 3:

He was despised and rejected by people,

one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;

people hid their faces from him;

he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

Was Jesus really despised and rejected by the people? He was followed by crowds, sometimes unwanted, for much of his ministry. He was one of the most famous and beloved people of his time if the gospels are to believed. Was in sick and in constant pain? Did Jesus have fibromyalgia? Christians tell me he was a hearty person who was confident and happy. When did anyone hide their face from him? Who considered him insignificant? This does not sound like the Jesus of the gospels at all.

Now, one could say that he was despised and rejected in the last hours of his life. But that didn’t define most of his short life. And at no point was he ever written as insignificant. Leaders took notice of him from his birth, on his twelfth birthday, and all during his ministry.

Let’s go to verse 5 and I will tell you what I think this passage is referring to:

He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well;

because of his wounds we have been healed.

Throughout Isaiah, Israel is referred to as the servant. So don’t let the use of poetry trip you up. My personal opinion is that the person in view is the righteous remnant within the larger Jewish culture. Remember that Judaism is a national religion. All Jews could be punished by the acts of some. And all Jews could be saved by the acts of some.

So the servant (the righteous remnant) suffers and bears the sins of the greater culture. But because of their faithfulness, the nation is eventually redeemed. The entire chapter can be read consistently this way. That interpretation may not be obvious. But it does cohere.

Verse 7:

He was treated harshly and afflicted,

but he did not even open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,

like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not even open his mouth.

…Accept Jesus was rather chatty in the book of John. We have too many sayings from him during the event to say he was silent, too many exceptions.


Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,

once restitution is made,

he will see descendants and enjoy long life,

and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.

When did Jesus have descendants? When did he enjoy a long life? That is an odd way to speak of an eternal being with no descendants.


Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,

he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.

“My servant will acquit many,

for he carried their sins.

Did Jesus need to reflect on his work?


So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,

because he willingly submitted to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

Was Jesus assigned a portion with eh multitudes? Did he divide the spoils of victory with the powerful?

Even the best efforts of the gospel writers couldn’t make all these pronouncements in Isaiah match up exactly with Jesus. The chapter makes more sense and is more consistent with a righteous remnant.

And that’s the view from the skeptic.

David Johnson



49 thoughts on “Messianic Prophecies- The Case for Jesus (Part 3)

  1. Apologies for the lateness of this post. You will never know how close the podcast came to not being published at all.

    While I have not shared this with Dale, I am letting everyone know about a decision I have made regarding this series. The fourth installment will be the last. I see no reason to carry this on to a fifth one. Dale can make his case about timing. In that same show, I will make my case for why his case doesn’t matter. The forth show will be extended.

    I apologize for my lackluster performance over the last few weeks. I regret letting myself get roped into it. I think messianic prophecy (along with all other prophecy) is kook theology. It is crystal balls and vague pronouncements from people who sound as if they were stoned at the time. It is a waste of time as there can never be any resolution. This is mental masturbation at best.

    I can address Dales entire case in 15 minutes. So that is what I intend to do next week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Keep pushing back on the overstatements of “obviousness”, false dichotomies and lack of epistemic humility. I think your decision here makes sense in light of the arch of the series.


    2. I don’t think you need to apologise for lateness or a supposed lacklustre performance. For the former, you owe us all precisely nothing and for the latter, it has not been noticed.

      I found the series helpful and interesting. In church, it was always made out that the Messianic prophecies are a slam dunk affair and you’re a hard-hearted fool to ignore them. However, as even Dale demonstrates, you have to work pretty damn hard to make a cogent argument and verses can legitimately be spun in many ways. Squint just right, and you can make a vague case for Jesus. Nothing about it is obviously clear. And most people, are never going to bother to go to this level of research, so will discount it at first reading.
      This is what I keep coming back to; It’s just bad communication from God’s PR department.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my biggest problems with prophecy is the fact that there is no way to make headway on either side. As long as a supernatural possibility exists in the mind of the reader, that is the one they will go with. And there is no way to conclusively disprove the supernatural anymore than one can prove the existence of the supernatural. Stalemate.

        I can, and will explain how to come up with an unfalsifiable fulfiment of prophecy. It is trivially easy. Name any prophecy. And I can write you a fulfillment story that can’t be falsified. So what? No atheist that has a non-supernatural explanation will jump the tracks and get on board with a supernatural explanation. Stalemate again.

        Dales argument is worse in that he is not even trying to defend the truth of the claims. He doesn’t care if any of the claims are true for the purposes of this argument. So that makes the whole thing even more pointless.

        So far, he has said nothing that limits the potential list of messiahs from being in the future. That means this series goes for four weeks before he makes a relevant point to his argument. Even then, he will never be able to eliminate the countless messiah candidates before Jesus. Every one of them could be said to have paved the way for the work of Jesus, making them the first part of the fulfillment.

        I can play this game as well as anyone. The difference is I recognize it is just a meaningless game. When there is no way for either side to make headway, it is kind of a pointless discussion. No real evidence one way or the other can be brought to bear on the issue.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The reason the podcast almost didn’t make it was because of technical difficulties that took two people and an entire weekend to resolve. It wasn’t about the subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me a serious topic is one where headway could be made one way or another, and doesn’t depend entirely on magic. Take the shroud: We can boil the whole thing down to a single question: How did the image get there. Right now, it is an art mystery. The foremost shroud expert does not believe it is a miracle of any kind. We can only either say we don’t know, or that we believe it was miraculous. Nothing more can be gained from the available facts. Pointless!

      Was a prophecy fulfilled? It is all but impossible to say. Once we allow for a liberal dose of creative interpretation, every prophecy is fulfilled, and thus, none of it matters.

      No matter how hard we work on those subjects, we cannot add anything to the discussion that moves the needle past where it is. Those are what I consider fruitless discussions.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And if one is going to invoke the supernatural or some “other way of knowing” in order to try to surpass this issue, the burden is on them to establish that these phenomena exist BEFORE getting into any specific instance of them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “And if one is going to invoke the supernatural or some “other way of knowing” in order to try to surpass this issue, the burden is on them to establish that these phenomena exist BEFORE getting into any specific instance of them.”

          This would make an interesting episode sinse so many of the others rely on this.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. “Just curious- would you think I were in the wrong if I said studying the immorality of God in the Bible is a waste of time or fruitless discussion, we all know how murky these kinds of moral judgements can get, right?”

        I would not say it was pointless, only limited. The limitation is based on how we define what is moral. If we cannot agree on what is moral, then one person can just claim that everything god does is moral. I can’t prove it isn’t. There is some subjectivity to be sorted.

        Beyond that obvious challenge, one can define everything god does to be moral within a particular, interpretive context. So again, we can make no headway because we can never agree on what is moral. So we can have the conversation to show where the differences are.

        The better way to have that conversation is for me to explain to the listener why I believe god is immoral. You can make your case for why you believe he is moral. And we let the reader make up their own mind. That is my preferred format.

        Some subjects are more conducive for conversation rather than debate. And even those conversations have to be limited to certain things. Where we cannot agree, we must simply express our best understanding and leave it there.


  3. Dale, was this reply to me? It’s hard to follow on this board. Not sure I get notifications either. But you speak of David and Bryan and so far that’s all the people who have posted so I guess you mean “me” when you say “you”.
    You seem to refer to a comment of mine, that like Bryan’s, has the propensity to set you off. Nothing I said I would consider belittling or rude towards you. That you have to work hard to make the case is evidenced by the huge amount of research you have done and the numerous disagreements in the field. The only thing that is clear is that it isn’t so clear. People come to a different conclusion. To make it work, you have to dance a lot. That seems to be more of a fact that an attack.

    “relevant topic of interest that Christians use as evidence to prove Christianity as true” that’s the problem. Surely you can understand that the average punter isn’t going to wade through a ton of research. Top level is the Jews don’t get it, the text and can be spun a few different ways.
    Maybe it’s true, but then it’s just not very good.

    As for your other grievances etc, sorry, but they don’t really concern me.


    1. Ah ok, Fair dinkum. It was the mix between “you” and third person that confused me. 😉


  4. On a personal note,

    There’s your first clue at what’s causing you trouble.

    comments like yours and Bryan here are the types of things that usually set me off into becoming defensive

    That a comment I made that was 1.) not directed at you 2.) not about you or anyone personally 3.) not exclusively about your arguments, causes you to become defensive is, quite clearly, your issue not mine..

    but it seems I’m already being belittled and disrespected (that’s the way it comes across to me at least).

    Feel free to quote me directly and we’ll see if your claim that my words “belittle and disrespect” you hold water.

    Dale, this is getting old. I contend we’ll all be better off if we stick to the arguments and don’t stir up ad hominem drama.


  5. I’m hesitantly wading in here after watching and listening from the sidelines, but I thought I might be able to offer an independent perspective that could add some value.

    David – I can understand Dale’s frustration. To discount the potential of the topic, relegating it to “kook theology” that is fully addressed in 15 minutes, does have a ring of hypocrisy in the midst of calls for epistemic humility. I put a fair bit of time looking into prophecy in the midst of my deconversion because I saw it as one of the more hopeful avenues for locating a divine fingerprint on the tradition. Though I continue to find it lacking, I still think that it could be a powerful argument if the data would support it – but that, like nearly everything in this domain, is a subjective assessment. Let’s not forget that we’re talking about Jesus _Christ_ and _Christ_ianity, whose very namesake is founded on the concept of a messiah derived from BCE texts and culture, and whose earliest adherents clearly thought it was imperative to make that connection. It really is foundational to the religion.

    Dale – I shared David’s reaction to the certainty that you appeared to be expressing regarding the proper exegesis of the text and the “easy refutation” of contrary views. It is self-evident from the abundant existence of other interpretations, particularly in academia, that the Christian interpretation is far from incontrovertible. That kind of language carries the inference that those who disagree are either intellectually dishonest or inferior, even if that inference is unintentional (as I assume is the case). The response to your argument will be influenced by those undertones, and it paradoxically only serves to weaken the case.

    By making these discussions public, you have both placed a value on the impact the discussions may have for third parties. Obviously we have to prioritize and pick and choose where we put our time, but I think that the value of these discussions is maximized for others when all ideas are treated with charity and exposed to the light of competing perspectives.

    I’ll wade back out of the water now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for commenting. It was quite refreshing. And I hope you stick around and do more of it. The reason I believe prophecy is kook theology is because if you put it in any other context, it is simply fortune telling. So I take Christian prophecy about as seriously as Christians take secular fortune telling. They believe that all other fortune telling is nut-jobbery except for theirs, and for much the same reasons I dismiss Christian prophecy.

      That said, I was a Christian for the vast majority of my life, and a preacher for a lot of that. I know the types of games Christians use to massage prophecy. I was never convinced by prophecy. That is not what I based my Christianity on. I always recognized there were many ways to interpret prophecy. I think Dale is conveniently dismissing the fact that interpretive tricks are used, and that prophecy can be interpreted in many different ways, not just the Christian view.

      This fact is made obvious because the people for whom the prophecies were written didn’t see Jesus in them, and for the most part, despite concentrated evangelistic efforts, still don’t. The way Christians account for that is to say that Jews don’t know how to interpret their own writings. Christians do not have the right to annex Jewish tradition and rob the Jews of their heritage in this way. Christians have done this to many cultures. And it is despicable every time.

      Can I dismiss prophecy in 15 minutes? That is not really what I meant. I meant that I can dismiss Dale’s unique take in 15 minutes. If someone believes in fortune telling and crystal balls, I can hardly talk them out of it. But I can make a case for why Dale’s singular argument does not work.

      To refresh, his argument that messianic prophecy has to be about Jesus and no one else. Second, he lends weight to the fact that the claims made about Jesus are unfalsifiable. Third, he believes that because Jesus is the only one the prophecies could be pointing to, there is some supernatural aspect to it that lends it the weight of truth.

      I can defeat those ideas in this post. But I will wait my turn to do it on the air next time. I hope you stick around and tell me if you believe I succeeded or failed. Either way, I am very happy to hear from you.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I would love to take down this entire post. But I will just mention one place where you have an obvious blind spot. You talk about being hyper-literal. But you attempt to refute the righteous remnant claim by being hyper-literal about no receit bing found in him. But in poetry, that just refers to an honest person.

      This is perfectly reasonable when contrasting the faithful portion of the nation from the greater part that had devolved into sinfulness. There are plenty of people and groups in the bible referred to as righteous. Yet in other places, there is none righteous, no, not one. Now, who is being hyper-literal to make a strained point?

      Sory for typos. I’m on the train and refuse to edit in these cramped quarters.


      1. At a 100,00 foot level, how can prophesy fulfillment be impressive when the writers of the stories of the fulfillment had access to the stories of the prophesies being made?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are still trying to defend a hyper-literal reading in the spot you need to be hyper-literal. You say it is not poetry. I don’t think there is a substantive difference between poetry and prophecy. But if anything, prophecy uses a lot of apocalyptic language. That is even further from literal and harder to understand. But what prophetic language most certainly is not is literal, straightforward language.

        And as for your other point, it seems to me that there have been men in the bible who were called righteous, if not sinless. Even that is not to be taken literally. Speaking of history, even that language cannot be taken literally. Were all the enemies of god slaughtered as some places in the bible suggest? the Christian defense is that the language cannot be taken literally. Yet here, you are suggesting this must be a person who has never said anything dishonest.

        As I opined in the podcast, phrphecy is never read consistently. Within the same verse, some parts are read literally while other parts are read figuratively depending on the interpretation you require at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Just for fun, I will cast shade on your literal reading about no deceit being found in his mouth. There was actually one occasion where Jesus outright lied by most objective standards. Enjoy reading John 7.

          His brothers ask him if he is going to the feast. Jesus clearly says that he is not because it is not time to reveal himself. But as soon as his brothers leave, Jesus despises himself and goes anyway. Further, he reveals himself at the feast. He lied when it served his purposes.

          Of course, you will say it wasn’t a lie. But if your kid told you that she wasn’t going to the party because she had too much homework, yet she claimed out the window and went after you turned your back, you wouldn’t care about the excuse. You would say she lied.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Looks like we are playing translation roulette. The one I mostly use reads like this:

            “8 You go up to the feast yourselves. I am not going up to this feast because my time has not yet fully arrived.”

            He did not say he was not yet going, but that he was not going, and explained why he wasn’t going. I suspect the “yet” was added to give Jesus an out. But it still doesn’t work. Regardless of the exact words which no one can know, Jesus misled his brothers and intentionally left them with a false impression of his intent. The word we use for that in all other similar situations is “lying.”


            1. Apparently, this conversation thread has gotten too long. I am having to use admin settings to reply.

              This is what I mean by translation roulette. Spin the wheel and see if you get lucky. You have a clear reading of a passage. Then, along comes someone else who insists that you have a bad translation. There is no winning that argument. And I have no intention of entering that debate. I have also done enough reading on textual traditions to know neither of us has the academic horsepower to claim who has the better translation. You ar naive if you think you can.

              That said, I am happy for a debate to get bogged down into the muck of translations. That only shows how impossible it is for the average person to read it. Get the wrong one, and you might just burn in hell due to a corrupt message. If we can have these problems with English translations, how do you think the ancient copyists managed it and produced a reliable text? I just showed you a text where Jesus clearly lied. Only one word gives Jesus an out, and not a very good one at that. One of the reasons we have so many translations and revisions is to fix some of the theological problems people have had over the years.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Setting aside questions of decorum, I do have one more thought to add to this discussion which appears to have been overlooked thus far: the passage in question switches between the perfect and imperfect tenses, with the perfect used to describe the ‘suffering’, and the imperfect used to describe the restoration. Taking the majority view that Deutero-Isaiah was written sometime within the Babylonian exile, this conjugation makes far more sense under the servant = national identity view. The author was speaking of the exile as a completed event, and looking forward to the restoration as an incomplete event. Under the Christian interpretation, we have to adopt the use of the ‘prophetic perfect’ for only those portions of the text prior to the resurrection, and then explain why the imperfect is also used for post-resurrection descriptions. It’s possible that author intended to present a perspective which temporally pivots at the resurrection, but it seems far more parsimonious to understand the author as expressing a perspective contemporary with the act of authorship.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Molinism is neither an actually demonstrated phenomenon nor a universally accepted Christian doctrine. So it comes across as quite the ad hoc defense.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. @Dale (since not all comments have a reply button

    ‘You are going to hate me, but I’ve developed a Molonistic answer to deal with translation/preservation errors and/or issues actually, and its not all Molonistic though, as I think the Bible can have errors in it but as long as they are “discoverable” to be errors and/or at least possible errors than God is not the cause of any “undue confusion”

    Well, my friend, we don’t hate you but we consider you must be extremely limber by now with all these increasingly elaborate contortions. You’re essentially saying, BS is OK as long as we have a mechanism to identify the BS. So when you can no longer support the argument, as long as at some time frame in the future we can know it’s BS, it’s still all good. Please understand this starts looking increasingly desperate from the outside. At least concede that?

    Incidentally, this is a most excellent tool. Get this Molo BS detector patented and take it to the highest ranking Christian u can find to get the ball rolling. This amazing machine will be invaluable to help tranche between competing theological positions. Start it in the gay clobber passages and settle the matter once and for all. Move on to cessationists v charismatic and just keep going till you’ve identified all the BS, since apparently it IS identifiable and one side on these debates is clearly plain wrong. I expect you should be able to unify the thousands of denominations by 2020 at the rate you study. (Incidentally, are there any subjects you haven’t looked at?! Are you doing a theology PHD – how come you have all this time to do this? )

    One random comment ref Is 53. I guess this is where we got penal substitution theory from? However many Christians say that’s a misrepresentation of what happened and refute Penal sub as it makes God out as somewhat of a monster. Ehrman repeatedly states Jesus was crucified for political reasons, and there’s no mention from him (Jesus) it was for our sins. Never mind him taking on our suffering and bearing our illnesses, which I don’t even know what that means as both are still very much with us to this day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not interested in commenting on the specifics of your answer to Sarah. I’m just going to point out that your definition of “defeater” is not useful in any way in actually defeating a skeptical argument. So don’t be surprised if the skeptic doesn’t take your “defeater” seriously.

      To be a good defeater to a skeptical argument, you have to demonstrate that your defeater is accurate/true.

      So if you don’t feel you need to show that molonism is true, don’t expect the skeptic to take your defeater seriously.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Also notice the repeated claim that skeptics are trying to “prove Christianity false”. This has been a common theme, a basic misunderstanding of skepticism.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The difference is that Hawkins ideas have actual math and evidence that leads us to think they are in fact possible and possibly accurate. Your molonism doesn’t have that advantage.

        If Hawking’s theory didn’t show it it had evidence to support it, then the skeptic wouldn’t accept it as a defeater.


        1. “Yeah but even with the math, none of that proves its true-”

          No but it does demonstrate it has the possibility of being correct. Your “defeaters” don’t. That is the difference. The math supports the argument to show that the argument for it being a defeater is valid. Your molonistic argument has no support to show that it is in fact a defeater.

          “….so it shouldn’t matter the nature of the explanations being considered, if they are “equally possible/probable” options then one can’t rule them out….”

          I guess that is the problem. You have yet to show that your “defeater is “equally possible/probable”. It is just a claim. At some point you have to move beyond just making the claim and show that your claim actually has substance.

          “Now when it comes to Molonism or anything involving miracles or God, I know from our convos you rule out the supernatural as explanations from the get-go.”

          That would because claiming it is supernatural isn’t an explanation. It doesn’t actually explain anything to call it supernatural.

          When someone can actually demonstrate the supernatural is a real thing, and figure out how it is actually supposed to work, that will change.

          “That is fine, but you have to have a reason to believe the supernatural/God is impossible or improbable to exist….”

          My reason is that no one has ever been able to demonstrate that the supernatural is a real thing. And anytime anyone has made testable claims, the claims have always been demonstrated to be false.

          There is a reason, after all, why all the claims about god these days are untestable.

          “….and just pointing to the evidence that most of them time natural laws apply normally to most explanations has no bearing on whether a specific instance of event was supernatural or not or whether a supernatural God exists.”

          Sure, but if you are working on probabilities, it does mean that the supernatural is the least probable reason for something to have actually happened. Combine that with the fact that you can’t demonstrate the supernatural is even a real thing, and the probability reaches 0, if not actually being 0.

          To get back to my original point. When you are making claims you can’t demonstrate are true, or even potentially true, then you are just going to have to live with the fact that a skeptic is never going to accept your defeater as a defeater.

          Empty claims are just not convincing to a skeptic.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. Honestly, mate, it sounds like this: Poof, Pastafarians are the true religion. If you don’t follow Pasta, the great noodle, you will be boiled alive, yet never softened. Pasta, He is good because other Pastafarians have written that he is good. He is also all carbs to all people.
    What’s that you say? evil, suffering and carbs make you fat?! No worries. My bolonistic defeater that I’ve theorised makes it all go away. ALL things end up in the bolonaise sauce anyway so it doesn’t matter in the end. See?
    Prove me otherwise.
    Thus, I don’t have to prove Bolonism is true, because if it’s the case that Pasta exists and is omniscient, then I think it’s fair to say bolonaise goes well with it. Now, I get that you and skeptics don’t believe in Pasta, but that is beside the point when you are making a claim that Pastafarianism is false because of x, y or z reason- you have to prove Pasta probably doesn’t exist first (and/or you can refute one of the other necessary elements/components of my Bolonistic defeater such as proving we don’t always get fat on carbs. You as a sceptic (carb hater) have no way of ruling any number of possible justifications for why Pasta does things the way He does.

    Essentially your text with a few words changed. Does this maybe you a inkling to how it’s coming across?) 😉
    ould you find any of this argumentation remotely convincing to bring you to true light of pastafariansim?
    So yes, Ok, Middle earth knowledge might well be a reasonable explainer if you first grant a ton of other things, though this hobbit ain’t buying it and you wouldn’t either as it doesn’t pass the outsider test which requires people from outside the faith to hear it and think it’s fair enough. People have packed there bags and put their coat on long before you get to these long explanations. I think it’s also shredded itself on occams razor too. The simplest answer to all of this, is there’s no cosmic Dude.

    On the point about freewill. I’ve no idea whether we have free will. Many experiments show we have bodily reactions before anything lights up in the brain and even later after we’re aware of it. I think Harris has written about this in the Moral landscape. I think consciousness may create the experience of free will and agency, but that much may be deterministic in nature.
    Besides, we like to think we’re the rational creatures that base decision making on logical facts, but per Mike Mcargue studies show we’re anything but. Mostly we’re a social/emotion creature that make decisions based on those two factors most of the time.

    Whatever your job is, I want it. What do I have to do to get one? And agreed, we all have the same hours, but is there much point studying like a boss if can’t recall it? I’ve listened to the whole back catalogue of Unbelievable and honestly , if I had to give a lecture on it, it would probably last 25 mins, tops. I’ve pretty much already forgotten most of the shroud arguments anyway (sorry 😦 ). And I don’t want to read more stuff on it as it will be a never ending quest. You’ve demonstrated that to the point we have to know what each scientist preferred dessert is, to make an honest appraisal of their work. Ultimately I won’t solve it and unless someone can demonstrate it can conclusively be dated to 30/33 AD, at this stage, I think I’ve concluded, I don’t much care.
    And that’s OK. And no that does not make me a dishonest seeker. Just a mortal whose very aware of time limits. You seem to be very keen that I dive into this stuff. I’m not so made. In fact, I thank the god I used to believe in I did not waste more than i already did of the best years of life studying this stuff. Well, I did to some point as I had chronic fatigue for 5 years so that kinda freed up a lot of time. But I regret the time spent praying and reading about nonsense like generational curses that might have caused my predicament. And I regret as a teenager I bought in the purity nonsense and I regret I wasted entire Sunday mornings with people I didn’t much like listening to obvious ideas about essentially being nice to each other. And I’m glad my husband had more sense and stopped me tithing too much to the church. and and.

    Don’t waste the best years of your life Dale, This health and vitality you have might be a gonna one day. Or do do that if that’s your character and it brings you joy. 😉 You do you and all that, but I’d rather ski. I doubt Jesus much cares for your study anyway. He pretty much ‘threw shade on the Pharisees ( I have been reliably informed by kids that means to diss something). It’s not even what he said to do in the great commission. He said to feed the poor, be there for the orphans etc. You’re spending significant amounts of your life doing nothing that the teacher said. How does that work?

    “there is modern notions that the suffering that Jews went through in the Holocaust made redemption or atoned for the Jewish people as a whole and hence why God restored the nation of Israel afterward. ” who in their right mind is spouting this, to coin Tara, bullshizzle? I’ve never heard it and a more horrible idea I can not fathom. God had to have the Jews atone with the holocaust?! Wt actual heck?!! Is there someone I can write to about this. I’m incensed. You? Not so much? Just casually slip it in like it’s a ok. *Sarah yells for Tara*

    It’s not necessarily Bart who denies penal substitution. I was talking about LOADS of Christians don’t buy into the monster-god needing to smack something theory. Its BSC for one, presumably gotten from this half-baked prophecy and most importantly of all, Jesus doesn’t say it!

    “I think to have an intellectual opinion one needs to have studied both sides seriously” Dude, I had imbibed nothing but Christian stuff all my life. To even hear out the other side was sacrilege. Being marginally open to the idea the other wide is what made it fall apart. What did one do before the internet anyways? I’ve done my research to the level I’m interested in – think an episode of Unbelievable. I’m pretty sure I’ve more knowledge that the average bod in the pews. I’m not going to go down never-ending rabbit holes. I just, week after week, couldn’t believe the theist arguments weren’t that good and the historicity of the gospels were so shoddy. Then David would point out all the holes and I was like, whaaaat!?

    Anyway my pasta’s ready and the news is on and it’s Brexit extravagansa, gotta go.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If molinism can be a defeater, can atheism? Naturalism? Hinduism?


  11. Some on here seem to be confused as to what “defeaters” are and how they work, so just wanted to provide a couple helpful sources that will properly explain them and how they work (please take some time to educate yourselves before critiquing my use of Molonism to defend arguments against the truth of Christianity).

    Search for “defeaters” in the Sources;





    5. Also for a religious context (with regards to properly basic beliefs via the inner witness of the Holy Spirit for the truth of Christianity but the principles of defeaters can be applied to objective evidences as well), see Alvin Plantiga’s book “Warranted Christian Belief” Chapter 11 on Defeaters on p.291-303 = .

    Thank you, I hope this will give people a better understanding of how defeaters work in general and allow you to become more knowledgeable in my application of them to claims against the truth of Christianity going forward 🙂



    1. There is a lot of text there. Can you point me to the spot where it says you can use a claim that has no substance to it as a defeater?


      1. “Hint look for the different types of defeaters for example. Defeaters don’t have to be proven true to work (I assume from your other posts that this is what you mean by no substance)-…”

        Ok, then I will go ahead and follow your lead for defeaters. My defeater for the supernatural ever being an answer to anything is pixies. They prevent the supernatural from acting in the real world, even a god. So there is no way that the supernatural can ever affect the physical world.

        According to you I don’t have to demonstrate that my defeater has any substance to it, so I guess all your arguments fail due to my defeater.

        And while you sit there thinking of all the reasons as to why you won’t take my defeater seriously, realize those are the exact same reasons why skeptics aren’t taking your defeaters seriously. We view god and the supernatural in the same exact light as you view my pixies, and for the exact same reasons.

        At some point you have to demonstrate that the claims you are making are actually true. Unless of course you don’t care if anyone takes you seriously. In which case carry on.


        1. “1. Aren’t pixies themselves supernatural entities?- So their existence (as per your own defeater) would provide a defeater of your own defeater.”

          Actually no. By using my emerald isle interpretation, there is nothing about what is being claimed that would require them to keep themselves out. Or you can take the blue diamond interpretation, which says they keep themselves out of the physical world as well.

          But there is no contradiction there.

          “2. Also, its improbable, nay impossible, that created beings like pixies could prevent an omnipotent God from acting in the world (obviously the omnipotent God part needs to be an “equal possibility” for my defeater of your defeater to work here).”

          Actually this isn’t true. As everyone knows, pixies are immune to all supernatural power, no matter how powerful. Sure god is “omnipotent”, but he still can’t do the logically impossible, and effecting a creature that is immune to his power would be logically impossible.

          “…well then right there would prove your pixie defeater against the supernatural is wrong right there.”

          I already explained that it doesn’t disprove my pixie defeater because omnipotent only means able to do those things that aren’t logically impossible. And it would be logically impossible for a god to affect something that is immune to his power.

          “So thus, I have a defeater for your proposed defeater and hence, why I would not logically say the supernatural is improbable and/or impossible based on your pixie notion.”

          Except you haven’t given a defeater to my defeater. As explained above.


          1. “1. No sense whatsoever actually, are they supernatural themselves or not- if no, they are natural beings then how can they have a property of preventing all supernatural events, this requires supernatural events exist to be prevented from occuring in our universe.”

            You don’t justify how god has the properties that he has, so following your lead, I don’t have to justify how the pixies have their properties. Just think of them as super-supernatural creatures.

            There is nothing that says they have to keep themselves out along with everything else. So you are just swinging at windmills with this one.

            “2. Omnipotent means all powerful within the laws of logic, true and so if you could prove that pixies have a property of being immune to supernatural power then OK,…”

            I don’t have to. Per your rules I don’t have to prove that the claims are accurate or true. They are defined as being immune to supernatural powers. Plus they are able to extend that immunity to the physical world.

            “…that still wouldn’t prove God couldn’t do supernatural events on non-pixies.”

            Actually it does, they prevent god’s power from reaching the physical world. By definition.

            “Pixies are also not omnipresent like God is, pixies don’t have God’s aseity and/or necessity meaning that a logical contradiction erupts since God would have had to create them in the first place…”

            That is actually false. The pixies are not created beings. They are the logical necessary result of the supernatural existing. So logically they can not ‘not exist’ if the supernatural exists.

            I know that your theology teaches that god is the only necessary being, but the pixies prove that your theology is wrong about that. They are also necessary beings. And there are a lot more of them than just your god. And given that they are timeless, they don’t have to be omnipresent, they just have to know what is going on in the physical world. They have a “spidey sense” for the physical world that alerts them to what is about to happen in enough time for them to stop it.

            “I win!”

            Definitely a good try, but the pixies are apparently a defeater for more of your theology that I originally thought.


            1. “Lol cool, actually I am able just based on my own modal intuitions to rule out the pixies then since you define them as being necessary beings, I know that’s not true via my own modal properly basic beliefs whereas God is real. So, I’m good.”

              Sure, but given your rules, your modal intuition doesn’t prevent the pixies from being a defeater. It just means that you aren’t going to take the defeater seriously, just like skeptics aren’t going to take your defeaters seriously. And mostly for the same reasons.

              “Thanks and look forward to hearing your thoughts on Round 2 of the Shroud- if you’re still listening to that but if not, then now worries 🙂”

              The shroud doesn’t really interest me. Until someone can demonstrate that magic is even a real thing to begin with, I have a really hard taking neutron flux or authentic shroud seriously. You can blame it on my modal intuitions if you like. 🙂


              1. “No, it does for me as this defeater for your pixie defeater makes it improbable to be true-”

                Sure, it does for you, That just means it is your opinion that it is improbable. Your opinion doesn’t have anything to do with actual probabilities.

                But on the bright side, you now have an understanding of why the skeptic isn’t going to accept your defeaters as defeaters.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Lol, he says while posting in response to my post. 🙂


    2. Those are good links, ones I’ve read before.

      Here’s a link to philosopher Tyler Wunder’s review of Plantiga’s WCB and discussing defeaters.

      And here’s a link to a book review of a fervent multi-philosopher/apologist debate on Molinism. There are strong critics of Molinism, Christian and not.


      1. I know I’m ignoring your comments, but regardless of our personal issues, I will just acknowledge that I’ve seen these myself and they are good sources for people to utilize to educate themselves on the Molonism and/or Defeaters issues in addition to the ones I provided.

        So thank you for sharing them for people on here.


        Liked by 1 person

  12. I want to object to David’s criticism and offer support to Dale’s cumulative case. As Dale stated in one of the episodes (Part 2 or 3?), this methodology is routinely used in a court of law when attorneys are building a case. The cumulative case approach is completely valid.

    I do agree with David, though, that it’s a little tricky to refute a cumulative case (until the wrap-up). So, I’m eagerly awaiting David’s rebuttal at the conclusion of part 4.

    That said, I’ve read the articles posted by both David and Dale but haven’t taken time (yet) to read the comments.

    I came across a short booklet online earlier this week, ‘Questions Skeptics Ask about Messianic Prophecy.’ It covers some of the arguments Dale has presented (Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 53), as well as a couple of others. I noted that the writer doesn’t make conclusive statements such as “It’s obvious…..” Rather he encourages the reader to consider the ‘striking similarities’ between OT prophecies and Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the Gospel accounts. The 1st century Jewish writers of the gospels were convinced that these ‘striking similarities’ could not just be dismissed. In fact, they passionately proclaimed these similarities, declaring that Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.

    Here’s the link to the booklet if anyone would like to explore 3-4 passages in a little more depth:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent, thank you for sharing that for people on here to look into and as I told you in private, thanks for your appreciation of the topic and for having the interest and respect to look into the sources that both of us provided.

      I’m sure, David appreciates hearing about you having taken advantage of the blogs and the sources we provide as much as I do 🙂


      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hello old friend. Welcome back. You are always welcome here.

      Cumulative cases are indeed tricky. One of the problems is that every point has to work. And in my opinion, that has not been the case so far. I have disputed a number of the individual points. So how many points have to be falsified before the cumulative case is deemed full of holes?

      Justin Brierley literally made the case in his chapter on suffering that though it could conceivably be a point for the atheist, Christians shouldn’t despair because they have so many more points. So even if one goes against them, they have a mountain of other cases. But in a cumulative case, each point has to stand or the whole thing falls. You can’t win by simply throwing in more bad arguments than your opponent. The one with the most arguments doesn’t win, but the one with the better, truer arguments.

      I feel like Dale is just trying to win by including the largest pile of arguments. He has given himself four weeks to make his case and allowed me one week to respond and make my own. I obviously cannot respond to every individual argument. And even as we get ready to record week 4, Dale has yet to make a single point that addresses the defeater I put out there in the first week. He is finally getting around to it. And I still don’t think he succeeds. But anyone following the series will see that he has four weeks of material to my one. He must have the stronger case.

      In fact, I will not even take that week. I will rebut and make my counter case with what time I have in week four. While I agreed to the format, I think it is a highly objectionable sham. Even giving Dale four weeks to make a case, he has yet to make one indisputable point that actually sticks. I don’t think I even have to respond at all to his so called case. But I have prepared a response all the same. And we will see where it goes.

      You refer to the writers of the gospels are passionately proclaiming that Jesus fit the messianic description. This is because you look at the gospels and accept them as inspired writings of unbiased observers and recorders of the facts as they happened. You must know that I do not.

      These stories were written long after the purported events. All the messianic-fulfilling details were written in after the fact. And most Jews didn’t think Jesus was the messiah. In fact, the crowds that followed him for bread and fish were the ones shouting that he be crucified. So forgive me if I ignore their testimony. Oh, did I mention that his own disciples abandoned him. They were clearly not that convinced.

      I would also remind you of the countless messiahs that came before and after Jesus. Every one of them had their own John the Baptist that proclaimed them the messiah. They had prophetic fulfillments. And they had even more people than Jesus willing to give their lives for the cause. They would have had texts proclaiming their messianic fulfillments had their movements survived a bit longer. But they all had a good enough claim to being messiah that both religious leaders and peasants followed them and hailed them as such.

      I will present one or two of them as exhibit A for why Dale’s case fails completely. So while there were a handful of unorthodox Jews willing to call Jesus messiah, he was not the only one, and had far fewer followers among actual Jews than most other candidates.

      We also have the problem of fulfillment. As even Dale admits, the prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. But he concludes that the check is in the mail. Great! The same could be said for all the other beheaded messiahs. They got the ball rolling. And they will come back to finish the job.

      Now, can I show that Jesus doesn’t even qualify as a candidate? I doubt it. The power of the interpretive brush is too strong. It can be used to show that I am the messiah. But I will even take a swing at discrediting Jesus’ claim. He was to have a momentous birth. But that very idea is disputed by both Paul and Mark, the first two to write about it. They present Jesus as having a natural, uneventful birth. There is reason to believe that the first two chapters of Matt were later additions. So it wasn’t just Mark who wrote him as merely human.

      If we have reason to believe that the only stories of an unnatural birth were fraudulent additions, we can eliminate Jesus as a candidate. For there was nothing momentous about his birth.

      I can talk about all the reasons Jews of the day did not see Jesus as the messiah. He failed their many tests for a messiah as well. They don’t consider him a failed messiah. For them, he wasn’t even a candidate. I’m not sure that anyone was based on prophecy. But we know that the way prophecy was read, they saw plenty of messianic candidates. That is how I will argue.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s the difference between picking from a buffet to make a meal compared to layering up a piece montée to make one single cake.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Great analogy. Evid3nc3, an atheist youtuber of yore, had a good framework for thinking about God belief as a “mega-belief”.


    3. “The 1st century Jewish writers of the gospels were convinced that these ‘striking similarities’ could not just be dismissed. In fact, they passionately proclaimed these similarities, declaring that Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.”

      Also keep in mind that the vast majority of 1st century Jewish people weren’t convinced.


  13. P.S. I just happened upon Jonathan McLatchie’s website, Apologetics Academy. His guest, Anthony Rogers, is doing a webinar tomorrow (Dec. 8), a biblical portrait of Israel’s Messiah. Very timely.

    Here’s the link re: times, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I heartily recommend the Apologetics Academy as it has detailed discussion and Q&A from various scholars on various topics- in fact in my Part 4 Messianic prophecies blog i provide the link to Dr. Michael L. Brown discussing Messianic prophecies on the show via YouTube- see here = and/or for the Mike Brown on Messiah Prophecy here = 🙂

      Enjoy everyone, Joyce you are just too fast for me, as I had this link as a source in Part 4, but I guess I will give people advance notice given your mention of Apologetics Academy- a class one resource for those interested in truth 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

    2. But McLathchie killed Johnson if Stephen Law’s website is to be believed. 😉


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