I was saying that Ehrman's skeptical standard would undermine ordinary knowledge
if you applied it to ordinary cases. Ehrman thinks that you can't know anything
if there's any possibility that your belief is wrong. The mere possibility that
any textual reading we've got was changed with no manuscript evidence of the
original reading is enough for him to say that we have no knowledge of the
original text, even though we've almost certainly got the overwhelming majority
of the original text. I don't think it's very likely that I'm in the Matrix, but
there is that possibility. I can't rule it out for sure. If I applied Ehrman's
standard to that, then I'd have to say that I don't know my wife exists or that
what I remember doing yesterday even happened.
Wow! A skeptic's doubts about the integrity of first century copying is comparable to believing that people live in pods providing nutrition for machines. That seems like quite a stretch, even for apologetics.
What I think Mr. Pierce misses here is that certainty and skepticism are functions of the available evidence. When a classicist speaks of being "confident" that something was written by Plato, we don’t interpret him as meaning the same thing as a Civil War historian who is "confident" that Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address. With Plato, we cannot fix the day and time that any particular work was first made public. We cannot trace Plato’s movements in the preceding days. We have no reports from contemporaries who saw him working on it or who discussed it with him. A scholar’s confidence that Plato wrote some particular work is not confidence in any absolute sense, but confidence relative to the surety we can have about anything that happened that long ago.
To be skeptical about whether or not Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address may start to implicate some Matrix-like doubts about our ability to know anything about the past. However, to acknowledge the limitations of our knowledge of who wrote Plato or the New Testament, or how the manuscripts might have been altered during transmission is nothing more than mere rationality. The evidence that Mr. Pierce's wife exists is (I suspect) substantially greater than the evidence that the New Testaments writings were not corrupted during copying in the first couple centuries after they were written.