Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Consistency of Dr. James White

Consider the following hypothetical exchange:
Bart: Hey Jim! Your wife is a slut.

Jim: How dare you say that!

Bart: I slept with

Jim: Well how about Tom’s wife. She’s a slut

Bart: Well I never slept with

Jim: Well I have. Trust me. Tom’s wife is a

Bart: Fine. Both of your wives are

Jim: No. You’re wrong. Only Tom’s
wife is a slut. My wife is a free spirit.
Who is being inconsistent here? Bart who only comments on the woman he knows or Jim who thinks that sleeping around only makes someone else’s wife a slut?

Last week, James White and Bart Ehrman had a debate on the textual reliability of the New Testament. White seems to think that he scored some big points because Ehrman was unwilling to discuss the textual reliability of the Koran. “His unwillingness to apply his own hyper-skepticism to anything other than Christianity betrays his deep bias and prejudice.” Of course, Ehrman is not a scholar of the Koran and has not studied its texts. More importantly, the fact that the Koran is not textually reliable would not for a minute effect the reliability of the New Testament.

I think White is a jerk. However, I have no reason to think that his wife is anything other than pure and virtuous.


  1. Have you listened to the debate?

  2. I have only read White's comments about the debate on his blog. The fact that he only highlighted Ehrman's unwillingness to discuss the Koran doesn't lead me to believe that it is worth the time or the $6 to listen to the mp3. Maybe I will see some comments over the next few days that change my mind. After reading comments about last year's debate between Dan Wallace and Ehrman, I bought the mp3 and found it very interesting.

  3. Yeah, I also was reading the comments on the blog and was intrigued by how that actually played out. In the meantime, I was also reading a thread of comments that were really trying to figure out what this meant. Most were saying, "so what?"

    I happened to download the debate and give it a listen last night, and I must say that the debate was very interesting. I thought it was a strong debate (both men showing a very high proficiency in their area of knowledge), and there were some really good back-and-forth times.

    As far as the Islam thing went, I thought it was a very minor point in the way White first brought it up (that is to say, it was a small nick nack point) - but Ehrman really got riled over it, saying that White was equating him with Islam and such. This leads me to believe that that is the reason that White brought it up in his blog commentary. I'm not going to defend either position on the Islam thing -- I just wanted to say that it was a very small bit of the debate - far from being a central focus at all.

    I also listened to White's "Dividing Line" post-debate recap. If you don't want to pay the 6 bucks, I would say that the recap might give you a better idea of the debate content. But of course, it will be with White's bias. You can find it here if you are interested.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. If you like that kind of stuff, I would recommend the Wallace-Ehrman debate from last year's Greer-Heard Forum. For $10, you get their debate, a couple of Q&A sessions, and talks by four other scholars.

    I originally bought that one after reading Ed Komoszewski's account of the debate at Parchment & Pen. After listening to the mp3, I did not share Ed's opinion, but I give him credit for getting me interested in hearing how Ehrman responded to Wallace's points.

    White's argument about the Koran strikes me as so silly that I feel like I already understand why Ehrman would get annoyed.

  5. Yes, I am familiar with that one... although it's been a while since I listened to it, I remember liking it.

    If you get a chance to hear the White/Ehrman debate, I would like to read a post on it some time in the future.

    All the best,


  6. I am coming to realize that 50% of doing philosophy is coming up with hypothetical situations. Congratulations on thinking up the best hypothetical I've seen all week, and maybe the most clever analogy I've seen ever.

  7. Hey Vinny, it's me Vocab! (

    As usual, I think it's cool that you keep tabs on these things BUT I must say that I found your hypothetical analogy extremely distasteful.

    I mean, I know how bright you are and it seems as if it was just really below you, that's all.

    just my 2 cents

  8. Good to see you again Vocab!

    Didn't you think the analogy quite clear and succinct though? I did realize that I was streching the bounds of good taste, but I could not come up with a way to clean it up without dulling the point. I did refrain from posting it as a comment on anyone else's blog because I try to be a well-mannered guest when I go visiting, or at least I try to be house-trained.

  9. "Extremely distasteful?" Jesus, what an herb! Trust me, keep going for originality and don't let the Sister Marys in the peanut gallery drag you down to their boring/thoroughly unsleazy level.

  10. Vinny:

    Hey, we share something in common. I think you are a jerk, too! :-)

    Thanks for proving, once again, that atheists hear only what they want to hear. :-)


  11. While we're making irrational generalizations, let's thank Dr. Oak for proving that theists are all thirteen-year-old girls because they use emoticons.

  12. Excellent point Pokey!

    I was going to suggest that maybe if Dr. Oak hadn’t gotten so many of his degrees off of matchbook covers, he might understand that there is no more reason to expect the Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at a real university to be an expert in all religions than there is to expect the chairman of foreign languages to be fluent in every language in the world.