J. Warner Wallace , bringing me to converse on Stand to Reason’s blog ). I was particularly struck by the comments in that blog entry referring to an Argument from Silence (if a historical document would be expected to record an event but does not, the event probably didn’t occur. Think of it this way—because our newspapers record momentous events, and there is no record the Statute of Liberty blew up yesterday, we can reasonably determine the Statute of Liberty did not blow up yesterday.)
The concern being an argument from silence would be utilized to state, “The canonical gospels do not record their authorship; therefore they were not authored by the claimed individuals.”
The first comment starts off with, “To make a case from silence on a particular issue, such as they never said they were eye witnesses, seems flimsy at best.” O.K. Not sure I agree we can broadly say all arguments from silence are flimsy, but I understand what this person’s position is. He goes on to say, “We know the book of acts was from 62 A.D 2 years before the martyrdom of Paul and 3 before Peter placing it within the life of eye witnesses.”
What?! Does he understand this dating of Acts of Apostles is explicitly based upon the Argument of Silence? Namely Acts is silent as to Peter and Paul’s death, so it must be prior to 64 CE? The irony is strong in this one—in the first sentence to claim arguments from silence are flimsy, and in the second, utilize an argument from silence!
However, we see he indicates he is a novice at apologetics, so perhaps we give it a pass. On a brighter note, another Christian apologist recognized this inherently inconsistent approach:
One of the primary methods by which the Gospels are dated is based on the lack of mention of the deaths of Peter and Paul in Acts, along with the lack of any mention of the destruction of Jerusalem.
On one hand, I agree with this reasoning. It makes sense. But on the other hand, isn't this a classical "argument from silence"? We (as apologists) frequently reject arguments from silence when they are presented by critics of the New Testament. But here we are MAKING an argument from silence in our dating methods!
Aha! A bright light of intelligent question! Alas, the next response immediately quashes our hope: “Nathan, I don't think this argument from silence, but a logical inference.”
Eh….right….a “logical inference” from what? The…uh…silence…maybe?
I asked, “What is the difference between a ‘logical inference’ from an author’s silence and the Argument from Silence?” but unfortunately, my question was deleted by moderation for being off-topic.
What hope for Christian apologetics when they don’t even understand or deal with their own rationalizations?