The Bible as Truth?

If a truth is real, shouldn't it be able to be verified? Once a truth is verified shouldn't it become a fact? Once a fact is verified as the truth, shouldn't it stand up to scrutiny and always be found to be true?
If we can't verify a fact, should it be a truth? If we can't verify a truth can it really be considered a truth?
(I am updating this article with new links and references as they come to mind.)

In my post on the bible as a faulty premise I showed that the bible does not appear to be the product of one mind, a Gods mind, and there is no corroboration for it, therefore its claim to be 'god breathed' is likely to not be valid. Its validity is based on circular reasoning. What is circular reasoning and why is it important with reference to the Bible? In laymans terms circular reasoning is when you state your claim and then, usually after rewording it, you state it again as your reason for your claim.
Here is a link to Wikipedia that explains it and I have also provided some analogies to help explain it which follow.
- Tom says he doesn't lie, therefore he doesn't.
- The company that makes motor oil says theirs is better than all the rest.
- A childs parents tell them not to do something because they said so.
- God exists because the Bible says he does and the Bible is the word of God.
- The Quran is a revelation from God because it says it is.
- Formula one auto racing is the best kind of racing because they go faster and use complicated tracks, and any race that goes faster and is more complicated must be the best.
- A Pharmaceutical company says their drug will help this or that and is safe.

Hopefully these analogies will show why it is important not to overlook the fact that a thing should not be considered valid until there is some other way to measure it or validate it.

Circular reasoning is not an acceptable kind of reasoning in our day to day life. When we submit a resume, the employer always asks for more than one reference. In courts, people are not convicted on the testimony of one individual. We tell our kids not to talk to strangers, or get in the car with strangers. Should we tell them that the exception to the 'stranger' rule is when they find one that says they are honest?

If we accept the concept of circular reasoning as valid reasoning, we open ourselves up to all kinds of fraud. In fact billions of dollars are spent every year in law, medicine and insurance because circular reasoning is not a practical type of reasoning for ensuring fair and equitable circumstances for a population.

So if we shouldn’t accept the Bibles claims simply because it claims them, maybe we should find out where it came from. If it is the truth it should be verifiable and stand up to scrutiny.

What else could corroborate the bible?
Archeology, Anthropology, Textual Criticism, Biblical Criticism.

I recommend some impartial university courses on Comparative Religions and Ancient Civilizations concentrating on Near Easter Civilizations and I urge people to give a serious look at their mythology.

There is good reason to believe that the Tanakh (The Old Testament) has roots in Near Eastern Mythology. Here is a website from a scholarly author that talks about his research and his books. He is one of many since the 15th century that have observed this phenomena.

Here are some links to information (from Wikipedia) about that time period. They are not intended to prove anything but are intended to be a quick reference for a better understanding of the Bible.
Phonecia
Ugarit
Fertile Crescent
Canaan
Palestine
Israel
Judea
Assyria
Persia
Babylonia
Egypt
Flood Myths, Epic of Gilgamesh
The Bible
Validity of David and Solomon, interview with archaeologist/author Neil Asher Silberman
Excerpt from Biblical Archeology Review with Israel Finkelstein from MSN Groups

Alan Dundes, a famous Folklorist, says that academics are at risk for questioning the traditional understanding of the bible. "It turns out that studying the content of the Bible could prove to be a risky proposition, definitely dangerous to ones health or professional standing"(Dundes, 20). He goes on to cite some cases. His Book "Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore" was published at the end of his career and a few years before his death. There is significant pressure in academia not to criticize the Bible. This is not the case in other fields of study. In other fields of study, criticism is expected and necessary to weed out the ideas that don't work from the ideas that do.

In a addition to the general information links listed above, below are some references material that are useful for a study of the Bibles validity.

REFERENCES

Callahan, Tim. 2002. Secret Origins of The Bible. California. Millennium Press.

Davis, Kenneth C. 2006. Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned. New York. Harper.

Dundes, Alan. Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore. Lanham, Maryland. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Finkelstein, Israel and Silberman, Neil Asher. 2002. The Bible Unearthed. New York. Simon and Schuster Free Press

Frazer, James George. 1975. Folklore in the Old Testament. New York. Hart Publishing

Friedman, Richard Elliot. 2003. The Bible With Sources Revealed. 2003. New York. HarperCollins.

Helms, Randel. 1988. Gospel Fictions. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books.

Matthews, Victor H. and Benjamin, Don C. 1997. Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from that Ancient Near East. New Jersey. Paulist Press.

Smith, Mark S. 2002. The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel. Dearborn, Michigan. William B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Interesting link, but I'm not sure of its credibility:
Torah, Ugaritic Bible


55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you read about the documentary hypothesis? It might give you some help.

By the way, you might like to consider how Judah (the person in Genesis) could have great-grandchildren in just 22 years (work out how long it is between Joseph going to Egypt, and Judah's grandchildren visiting him).

Lee Randolph said...

Thanks anon@1138.
you reminded me of a couple of other references from my library that I could add.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi anon@1138
I don't understand the significance of this
By the way, you might like to consider how Judah (the person in Genesis) could have great-grandchildren in just 22 years (work out how long it is between Joseph going to Egypt, and Judah's grandchildren visiting him).

can you elaborate please?
thanks in advance.

John Dyer said...

Under circular reasoning you should also include:
- wikipedia is authoritative because it says so.
- God does not exist because there is nothing supernatural and God is supernatural.

:)

Anonymous said...

You can't verify the "truth" that truth must be verified. This is self-defeating

Anonymous said...

Interesting thing:

The bible basically predicted the T.V. in Revelation. It said that the antichrist would die and be raised to life, and the entire world would see. People used to scoff at this idea and the bible until the television was made.

Just one more interesting thing from the bible. :)

Susan (Ayame) said...

Hi! Very interesting essay! I'm going to check out some of those history links. I enjoy history. :)

As I've grown, I've learned a lot about logic and sometimes logic blows my mind. I'm just not naturally a logical person.

However, at risk of being ridiculed by someone who knows more logic than I do, I just have to respond to John's comment about god and the supernatural.

I think that it's not a circular statement. I think rather that John phrased the sentence in a loose way. Reconstructed, the sentence could be read as:

There is nothing supernatural. God is supernatural. Therefore, god does not exist.

I hope I'm right in rephrasing it this way!

Btw, your comment, John, about Wikipedia was pretty funny. :)

Susan (Ayame) said...

Oh yeah, I wanted to say something about Anonymous who mentioned Revelations and TV.

That assumes that everyone has their TV turned on... and that everyone has a TV. :)

Sounds like another vague prediction that can mean anything to anyone. Revelation is such an ugly book, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I disagree the supernatural does exist therefore God exists.

Susan (Ayame) said...

I'm pretty sure the burden of proof is on you to show that the supernatural does exist. That's an extraordinary claim.

Also, I think that to say that the supernatural exists doesn't necessarily prove the existence of god.

If the supernatural doesn't exist, then I think that would disprove god because god falls into the set of supernatural things, right? God is outside of the natural world and does things in unnatural ways, like magically curing cancer.

If we could show the supernatural exists, then that still wouldn't immediately show god exists. If I could prove ghosts exist, then that doesn't mean god exists. It just shows that ghosts exist.

It reminds me of a class I took in college where we discussed scientific studies. It seemed to me that if you could show certain treatments affect rats, then that's all you've shown. It doesn't mean it will work on humans, even if it's highly suggestive that it would.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Susan,
thanks for holding the fort for me while I was away. Good Job.

Hi John,
Who said Wikipedia was authoritative?
Susan is right about God and the supernatural. It is a modus tollens structure.
If a then b, b is false, therefore a is false.
Modus Tollens
If god exists, then the supernatural exists,
There is no credible evidence for the supernatural, therefore the supernatural does not exist, and therefore god does not exist.
This assumes that god is in the set of supernatural, and,
of course, always subject to reconsideration based on new information.

Hi Anon@521,
what chapter and verse in revelation are you talking about?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Anon@1138,
I thought about the Judah thing for a couple of seconds and I got it. Earlier, when I peeked in for a second, I didn't get it because I assumed you were a believer doing the 'anonymous' thing.
Once I thought about it I realized that a believer probably wouldn't say something like that.
I'm beginning to learn my lesson about hasty replies!

Hinch said...

I totally agree with your comments about circular logic. Unfortunately it is all too common in the context of the christian faith. However, i do need to point out the obvious. The bible is not a single book, but a collection of many books, written by many people, over many years, about many topics. As such, it is perfectly acceptable for the books of the bible (those that are independently written) to make mutually supportive claims without reliance on circular logic. Just as it is also possible for separate eyewitness accounts of a crime to be brought together into a single prosecution report without loss of merit. The mere collection of the books into a single entity called the bible does not render the text untrustworthy as a historical document, and equally important, it does not render the text above scrutiny and criticism. As you rightly say, the truth should stand up to scrutiny.

Thanks for the links!

Lee Randolph said...

I know it is a collection of books, but that doesn’t let god off the hook Since scripture is reputed to be an interactive endeavor between man and god. God is supposed to be timeless, and all knowing. How does help create something so inconsistent? Did he forget what he helped write before?
I address this here, and here,

Lee Randolph said...

I'm sorry, the links didn't come through in my last post.
I address it in A Reasonable Doubt About the Resurrection
and also in Judaism, Christianity and Islam are Based on a Faulty Premise

hinch said...

The inconsistencies in the bible, whether real or misunderstood, are an important discussion point, but they have little to do with the circular logic used by many christians to "prove" the existence of God (which i understand to be the focus of your article). I think it is entirely possible to accept the presence of inconsistencies in the bible without falling into the trap of circular reasoning. Furthermore, the inconsistencies do not always suggest that the consistencies cannot be trusted. Just as an inconsistent recollection of a conversation between you and a friend does not suggest for a moment that the conversation did not happen or that agreement on the major discussion points is impossible.

I would strongly encourage all people to seek collaborative evidence of biblical claims from both inside and outside of the bible, as the most reliable interpretation of history will only be gained when both internal and external sources are viewed together. A plethora of inconsistencies are sure to be found on both sides of the fence!

Thanks for the links to your other posts. I will read them shortly.

Lee Randolph said...

I see your point. Thanks for your contribution.

chris said...

Hey Lee -- how have you been?

A few comments about your post. . .

This is a little picky, but --Your 'modus tollens' form was a little sloppy. All a modus tollens argument does is assert the conditional, then deny the consequent. Conclusion: denial of the antecedent. The argument need not contain an additional argument for the denial of the consequent. ("There is no credible evidence for the supernatural, therefore the supernatural does not exist"). A supporting argument for premise 2 would be separate.

Before we launch into an exchange, could you clarify a few of your claims?
(1) FACTS/TRUTH: What is the difference between a 'truth' and a'fact?' And how do you justify your distinction? You might want to rewrite that opening paragraph, because it's a little jumbled. Truth can be verified and become a fact, then a fact can be verified and become a truth? How could a truth not always be true? What does it mean to verify a truth or a fact?

(2)What do you mean that there is 'no corroboration' for the Bible? (I assume you don't mean that there is no archaeological evidence for the cultures/places mentioned in the Bible, or that there is no external textual support for the events/people in the Bible.)

(3)CIRCULARITY: Who exactly is making a circular argument? I know you're familiar with the 'straw man' fallacy. If you are going to argue against someone, make it a real person who is worth arguing against (not some idiot that the vast majority of people, including Christians, would not take seriously anyway.)

(4) VALIDITY: You mention that certain claims are not 'valid.' However, I think you mean that certain *arguments* are not valid -- right? (Since only an argument can be valid or invalid. Claims are either T or F.)

Just wanting to clarify so that we can be on the same page.

chris said...

Hey Lee -- it's me again. I just read a blog post that you might find interesting, regarding our previous exchange about prayer. It has to do with identifying cases of answered prayer and keeping records. Here's the link:
http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/2007/04/16/how-to-detect-answers-to-prayer-the-discipline-of-journaling/
I think he makes some good points.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
I'm glad you're back!
I just spent a lot of time on my other 'domain of knowledge' post, so I can't do justice to this right now. I working on a reply so please check back.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
Your 'modus tollens' form was a little sloppy….
I can live with that. I know I assumed that god belonged in the set of supernatural, but I think it would be hard to find some one that would say that god was not supernatural (non-fallacious appeal to popularity ;-) ). Philosophy is not my field, I am self taught in philosophy so any instruction you can give me is appreciated (non-fallacious special pleading ;-) ). I just ask that you tell me where I can look it up for myself.

Before we launch into an exchange, could you clarify a few of your claims?
(1) FACTS/TRUTH: What is the difference between a 'truth' and a'fact?' And how do you justify your distinction? You might want to rewrite that opening paragraph, because it's a little jumbled.

First I would like to say that I put a lot of value in practicality. I don't buy into the usefulness of a type of Cartesian "nothing is above doubt". I recognize that my view of the world is shaped by my perceptions and they can be fooled such that I exist only in the mind of god, but this doesn't help me very much when I run across someone that is trash-talking homosexuals or fighting to promote legislation that prohibits options for birth control or prohibits stem cell research on invitro fertilized eggs that get thrown away anyway.

With reference to the jumbled paragraph, Thanks, I may revise it.
Here are some examples of what I was talking about.
- God exists. How can I verify that? Not a fact.
- Mars exists. I depend on experts in a position to know. I believe mars exists but I've never been there. non-fallacious appeal to authority. A fact.
- My house exists. I've been there, I can personally verify everything in it. A fact.


Truth can be verified and become a fact,
Gravity bends light, Einstein said it was the truth, it was verified independently on more that one occasion. It’s the truth.
then a fact can be verified and become a truth?
Organisms that use radiation for energy. It was discovered, was independently verified, now it is regarded as the truth.
How could a truth not always be true?
when new information shows that it was not correct
What does it mean to verify a truth or a fact?
when it is independently confirmed

(2)What do you mean that there is 'no corroboration' for the Bible?
Any evidence for Abraham is probably lost (Israel Finklestein). Which creation story is right? If the garden of Eden was in Iraq, can we find a fossilized cherubim (just joking)? Noahs flood is remarkably like part of the epic of Gilgamesh and doing the math on it doesn't work out. There has always been more that one language. Does it make sense that a God would collaborate with others and decide that an ancient tower threatens them? I have a reputable book that shows in detail myths from other cultures that are similar to the Old Testament. The stories of David and Solomon are not being supported by archeological evidence. The existence of non-canonical works makes the canonical works suspect since I presume the criteria were subjective even though I presume they were done by experts in their field. And if you read my post on the resurrection you know how I feel about those stories. Throw in the other Science, history and Geography errors and the fact that there doesn't seem to be any supernatural and the necessity to subjectively determine what is metaphorical and what is not and that is what I mean by "no corroboration".

(3)CIRCULARITY: Who exactly is making a circular argument? I know you're familiar with the 'straw man' fallacy. If you are going to argue against someone, make it a real person who is worth arguing against (not some idiot that the vast majority of people, including Christians, would not take seriously anyway.)
If you didn't have the bible (collection of scripture) you wouldn't know anything about the god described in it. How do you know the description is valid? It tells you it was god breathed so its description of god and the events contained in it were knowledge revealed by god. Doesn't this have a hint of circularity to it?
And about the 'straw man' thing. How do you get that from what I wrote? Can you point out what it is you are referring to please? I'd like to improve my writing to better represent what's going on in my head.


(4) VALIDITY: You mention that certain claims are not 'valid.' However, I think you mean that certain *arguments* are not valid -- right? (Since only an argument can be valid or invalid. Claims are either T or F.)
Okay, from a philosophical point of view, I'm willing to accept that I conflated the meaning of validity and claims and arguments with colloquialisms. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I can live with your distinction of Arguments and Claims.


I'll get to your other post later.
If at any point you think the discussion is getting eristic, please mention it so we can get back on track.

take care.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
I read the blog you directed me to and here are my thoughts.
He said:
First, neither hand had to happen. There are no laws of nature, logic, or mathematics that necessitate that either hand had to come about in the history of the cosmos. In this sense, each hand and, indeed, the very card game itself, is a contingent event that did not have to take place.

If you deal two sets of five cards note them and pick them up and repeat this process a bazillion times you will likely get every possible combination multiple times. Similarly I have heard it argued that using the laws of nature as we understand them and string theory, it can be argued plausibly (to some) that there is another earth with humans on it. I don't commit to 'other earth with humans' idea, but I do commit to the bazillion card dealings.
It does justify the accusation that the dealer cheated, but it does not prove it. Given enough time it is likely to happen and it may just happen the one time someone tries it. As I understand chance, that is how it works. That is why inquiry and verification of the facts are important


He said:
Similarly, if a spouse happens to die at a young age in an unlikely manner even though that spouse is healthy, and if this happens just after the other spouse took out a large insurance policy on him/her or a week after proposing to a mistress, then the three factors that justify an intelligent design are present.
It justifies the suspicion that an intelligent design is present. Turn that into a hypothesis and investigate it. Does it hold up to scrutiny? If not, change the hypothesis.

A few things about his story interested me.
- First, it is a persuasion dialogue. Persuasion Dialogues automatically activate my B.S. detector.
- Second, it sounds like the 'trick pony' prayer that I get accused of periodically.
- Third, He said this happened early in his ministry. He has had time to 'shave and sharpen'(Gilgovich, "how we know what isn't so") it unconsciously. I don't trust memory, mine is not reliable, and memory research supports my suspicion of it.
- Fourth, are white houses with picket fences for under 130.00 for rent by ministers really that unlikely? This is a question ripe for investigation but unfortunately we are very far removed from it. To me, since 'white picket fences' are part of the mythos of 'Americana', it doesn’t sound that unlikely. I am tempted to go look at realtor sites to see how many I can find. One of the only houses I grew up in (I lived in apartments most of my childhood) was white. Does that mean that god sent you to me to read this and relate it back to my white house that I grew up with and I should perceive it as divine intervention? I would have thought that when I was a Christian.
And something like a white house with a picket fence at a good price is what I would expect from a minister. In fact I think that preparing a house to be a white house with a picket fence and a nice yard at a good price is a good way to get it rented. In fact, I think it is likely that a Christian wanting a house would like the kind of house that a Christian is likely to rent. It’s a cultural thing. Our resident Psychologist could probably give us a good answer on that.

As my fellow skeptic shygetz pointed out, the flaw in my 'miracle watch' is that there is no control. There is no control here either. Both are practically irrelevant, but they are fun aren't they?

I wanted to comment on his blog but I didn’t see a mechanism for it. Is there?

chris said...

Lee -- After reading your reply, the first thing I had to do was look up "eristic." Hopefully I'm not being "disputatious" or arguing for its own sake, but I'll watch it.

So now I'll just get to the core of your post. Regarding circular reasoning, my concern was that while some (many) Christians do employ circular reasoning in defending the Bible, a Christian need not use such reasoning, and many do not (including myself). So, a person S would be guilty of constructing a straw man just in case S suggests that his opposition believes X, when in fact, no one among his opposition who is to be taken seriously actually holds X, and X is a clearly fallacious claim. If S only wanted to beat up on inferior opponents (bullying), then this is just the sort of thing S might do. But, I know that you, Lee, aren't trying to do this.

AND NOW, the $64,000 QUESTION:
So, how do I know that certain claims in the Bible are true? (This really is a great and important question.) By experience. I know that God exists because I have experienced God, and I know that God is good, powerful, etc. because I have experienced these things. (Note: I didn't need the Bible for this.) Since the Bible affirms these things also, this gives me a good basis on which to infer that the other claims made in the Bible (most of which cannot be authenticated by experience) are likely to be true as well, unless of course, we have good reasons not to believe them.

In addition to that, there has been a tremendous amount of corroboration from archaeology and ancient texts. For more on this, see:
http://www.carm.org/evidence/evidence_archaeological.htm
Prior to the 20th century, many skeptical historians thought that the civilizations mentioned in the Bible were complete fiction. But when modern archaeology was born, evidence of these cities and peoples kept turning up. This is not a controversial claim. Ask any archaeologist at any university about this. He/she will tell you that yes, we have discovered many of these ancient cities once thought to be ficticious. I'm not saying anything like, "Archeology proves this story or that story." Just that we now know the civilizations were real. So, it is wise to exercise caution in claiming that this or that account in the Bible is false, because new evidence is being discovered all the time. For a good, neutral source, check out National Geographic and do a seach on "Bible." Some interesting stuff comes up. Or check out the divinely-inspired wikipedia here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_archaeology

It is also uncontroversial that we have external texts that mention, for instance, the person of Jesus. The Antiquities of Josephus (37 CE - c. 100 CE), The Babylonian Talmud, and Tacitus, for example.

I'm not claiming for a second that we have external evidence for supernatural events. I'm only claiming that we have evidence that most (I'm open to reducing 'most' to 'some' if this can be proved) of the history of the Bible is accurate. This says a lot.

If we find commonalities between the Bible and other ANE lit., why should this be troubling?

After all is said and done, I will admit that Christian faith is going to require some faith (don't roll your eyes). What does this mean? For me it means that I am not 100% sure about Christianity. Maybe I'm 85% sure on a good day. But that's enough. I can supplement that with faith, or trust. I have good reasons to trust that it is true, even if I see conflicing evidence or confusing data. There will be a threshold, of course, at which point I will no longer believe.* I don't know exactly what that would look like, but if it happens, you'll be the first to know.

Regarding the prayer post -- I didn't mean to derail the discussion. I appreciated your comments, and will try to respond later.

Thanks again for the great conversation!

*For an interesting discussion on this, see:
http://philosophy.missouri.edu/show-me/?p=356

live-n-grace said...

Great post Chris. For me, it was first the bible, I learned of its truth and and of God, and then through experience I learned just how true it is, and then back to the bible in affirming it. It may sound a little confusing, but basically both the bible and my experience claim it to be true.

Yes, it takes faith to beleive in what you haven't seen, (i.e the resurrection) and there is a wide variety of faith among beleivers.

And yes, archeological claims have been made but what's more important are all of the prophecys that have come to pass, and here are only a few:
http://www.trustbible.com/prophecy.htm

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
had to do was look up "eristic." Hopefully I'm not being "disputatious" or arguing for its own sake, but I'll watch it.
It was in reference to a comment you made in another post. I was talking about me getting quarrelsome. If you think I'm getting wild, let me know.

… Regarding circular reasoning, my concern was that while some (many) Christians do employ circular reasoning in defending the Bible, a Christian need not use such reasoning, and many do not (including myself).
Okay, so this doesn't apply to you. It does apply to some if not most. It applied to me and the people I associated with. This may sound weird, but my intended audience is me, ten years ago. I am trying to reach people like I was ten years ago.

So, how do I know that certain claims in the Bible are true? (This really is a great and important question.) By experience. I know that God exists because I have experienced God, and I know that God is good, powerful, etc. because I have experienced these things.
I would remind you that there are other religions out there with faithful that make the same claim, so are you saying that yours are genuine and theirs are not? How would you answer a Muslim, Hindu, Jew or Buddhist making the same claim? Would you quietly consider them to be misguided? Would you say they were experiencing 'magical thinking'? I would, and you should too. I thought I experienced them too, but upon reflection I realized that it was a lot of 'magical thinking'.

In addition to that, there has been a tremendous amount of corroboration from archaeology and ancient texts.
You are so right. But how important are the findings? For example, David and Solomon are pretty important. Jesus is pretty important. The Exodus is pretty important. Unless I am mistaken, these are milestones, or turning points in the history of christianity, and very generally speaking, the evidence for these things suggest something completely different that what is in the bible. Is it as important to find that Tyre exists as it is that the prophesy about it failed? Its still there. Is it as important to find out that there were philistines and such as it is to find out that there is no evidence for a 'Divided Kingdom'. A historical novel or even myths and fairy tales mention historical events, places, people, thats a characteristic that defines them, makes them folklore.
Go read the article that john posted from the Biblical Archeological Review and see what a couple of Religious scholars have to say about their quest for the history of the Bible. Their position must necessarily be a faith based not of facts but on this experience, feeling or emotion you are talking about. Unfortunately the article is no longer available today. Maybe it will come back.


It is also uncontroversial that we have external texts that mention, for instance, the person of Jesus. The Antiquities of Josephus (37 CE - c. 100 CE), The Babylonian Talmud, and Tacitus, for example.
here is what the divinely inspired wikipedia says about the Tacitus entry.

I wish you guys would stop saying that. Those things that you cite, if they are your best evidence are disputed. Here is what our beloved Wikipedia says about josephus and here is what it says about tacitus and the Talmud , Wikipedia says this " the Talmud makes little mention of Jesus directly or the early Christians", talks about removed articles mentioning Yeshu, but I have not seen anything Christian that considers Yeshu to be Jesus. Here is what Wikipedia says about yeshu

I'm only claiming that we have evidence that most (I'm open to reducing 'most' to 'some' if this can be proved) of the history of the Bible is accurate. This says a lot.
Most of the history in a James Michener novel is accurate. What about the Iliad and the odyssey? Does that say a lot?

If we find commonalities between the Bible and other ANE lit., why should this be troubling?
Its not troubling until someone claims it gives us knowledge about god and then goes about trash-talking gays, and impeding legislature that is useful to ALL people.

For me it means that I am not 100% sure about Christianity. Maybe I'm 85% sure on a good day. But that's enough. I can supplement that with faith, or trust.
It all comes down to what you accept as evidence doesn't it?
Have you read the upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita or the quran? I have. You should. All christians should if they want to say they are making a serious search for god. Have you compared bible versions? Have you got out your lexicon and looked up the original words and see what the options are for translations? If you haven't you should. When I was a pre-teen, if it weren’t for the unreasonable class system in Hinduism, I would have accepted it. They teach that every person has god inside them, therefore it is necessary to be nice to every person you meet so you don't offend god.


Regarding the prayer post -- I didn't mean to derail the discussion. I appreciated your comments, and will try to respond later.
You didn't derail it, I plan on revising it with things that occurred to me in our discussion. Stay tuned.

Thanks again for the great conversation!
Thank you, as well.

*For an interesting discussion on this, see:
http://philosophy.missouri.edu/show-me/?p=356

I'll look at this, thanks.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi live-n-grace,
You might want to dig into those 'prophecies' a little deeper.
here are some links to get you started.

Bible prophecy

What the Jews have to say to christians about their scripture (old testament).

more of what jews have to say about the messiah

take care.

chris said...

Thanks for the reply -- some good stuff.

I would remind you that there are other religions out there with faithful that make the same claim, so are you saying that yours are genuine and theirs are not? How would you answer a Muslim, Hindu, Jew or Buddhist making the same claim?

This is a good reply to my position. Here's a story about how a Christian could go about maintaining an exclusivist, non-circular position: Joe has a generic perception of God, his goodness, power, love and majesty. (We'll call this "mystical perception," or MP following William Alston.) This could accumulate over years or happen all in one bang. The Bible may or may not have played a role in shaping Joe's MP. At this point, Joe encounters the Christian Bible and sees that his MP is consistent with the claims and stories found therein. Joe decides to become an apprentice of Jesus, and realizes his MP is really CMP, or Christian Mystical Perception. A short time later, Joe meets a nice Hindu girl and she tells him all about her Hindu MP, and the corresponding Scriptures. Joe wonders about this. How can he adjudicate between CMP and HMP? Joe opens Rationality XP on his mental desktop and begins to examine the two faiths. He quickly discovers that the problem is worse than he thought -- there is MMP (Muslim), BMP (Buddhist), JMP (Jewish), etc. Joe assumes that all the MPs are valid, because there is no way to show otherwise. He now turns to the belief systems themselves and subjects them to rational scrutiny. Do they correspond to known historical or scientific facts? Are they logically self-consistent? Do they adequately address the human condition? Do they contradict one another? What sort of evidence do we have for the key claims in each system? After such rigorous testing, Joe concludes that only one system can be ultimately true, and that Christianity comes out on top. He then takes himself to be justified in believing that his CMP is valid, and that his friends are in fact mistaken. Chances are, their MP is valid, but they simply lacked the information to interpret it accurately. They get part of the picture, but not the whole: The Trinitarian God, revealed perfectly in the God-man Jesus Christ, who was crucified, dead and buried and who rose on the third day. (Now don't put any words in my mouth as far as what this implies.)

But how important are the findings? For example, David and Solomon are pretty important. Jesus is pretty important. The Exodus is pretty important. Unless I am mistaken, these are milestones, or turning points in the history of christianity, and very generally speaking, the evidence for these things suggest something completely different that what is in the bible.

Now wait just a artifact-pickin' minute. These finding are VERY significant. For numerous historical claims in the Bible to go from fiction to fact virtually overnight in the eyes of the academic community? -- this is huge! Now would I like archaeological evidence of the Exodus? Sure! But it is wildly persnickety not to concede a little here.
Skeptic: These civilizations are pure fiction! See, we knew the Bible was a joke.
Christian: Wait -- we found evidence of the Hittites!
Skeptic: Oh. Uhh, well, how important is that? That doesn't prove anything.

It proves a lot. It proves that maybe, just maybe, these events in the Bible really did happen! After all, we've already found evidence of so many of them. Every such confirmation increases the reliability of the total package, and makes it that much more probable that we'll confirm the other stories as well.


Most of the history in a James Michener novel is accurate. What about the Iliad and the odyssey? Does that say a lot?

Sure. If they are claiming to tell a true story.

Have you read the upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita or the quran? I have. You should. All christians should if they want to say they are making a serious search for god. Have you compared bible versions? Have you got out your lexicon and looked up the original words and see what the options are for translations? If you haven't you should.

I've done the homework, Lee. But there is always more out there to study than anyone could get to. At some point, we have to draw a conclusion. Honestly, the more I study, while at the same time deepening my spirituality, the stronger my faith becomes.

Someday I'll share my story with you.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
I haven't had time to concentrate on this but I'm working on it. please check back.
thanks

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
I'll take it one step at at time. I'll address Joe first.

Lee said " I would remind you that there are other religions out there with faithful that make the same claim, yada, yada, yada"

Then Chris said the following.
…a Christian could go about maintaining an exclusivist, non-circular position: Joe has a generic perception of God, his goodness, power, love and majesty. (We'll call this "mystical perception," or MP following William Alston.) …
Where does this MP come from and what factors contributed to its existence. Nature or Nurture. His culture or his nature including the 'possibility' that it was placed in him by a god. If it were placed in him by a god, the I would expect him to come to the conclusion that a god intended him to. Surely this kind of thing would be an irrefutable, non-ambiguous, irresistible truth that would hold up to even the most unqualified scrutiny.

Joe decides to become an apprentice of Jesus, and realizes his MP is really CMP, or Christian Mystical Perception. …Joe meets a nice Hindu girl and she tells him all about her Hindu MP, … How can he adjudicate between CMP and HMP? Joe … begins to examine the two faiths. …Joe assumes that all the MPs are valid, because there is no way to show otherwise. He now turns to the belief systems themselves and subjects them to rational scrutiny… After such rigorous testing, Joe concludes that only one system can be ultimately true, and that Christianity comes out on top.
Using the above criteria, I would say the Buddhist/eastern philosophy and its variations, from what I understand from listening to podcasts with experts in psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience, come closer to agreeing what has been discovered scientifically in those fields. I have not heard if their scripture is closer to history than Christian, but certainly their philosophy is to the cognitive sciences which I think is more important because the cognitive sciences are verifiable right now and predictions about it can be made right now and determined to be true or not.

He then takes himself to be justified in believing that his CMP is valid, and that his friends are in fact mistaken. Chances are, their MP is valid, but they simply lacked the information to interpret it accurately. They get part of the picture, but not the whole: …
This is an egocentric subjective process that he has undergone. If he had grown up in another culture, more than likely he would come to different conclusions. My guess is that If he really underwent and honest search for the truth regarding this MP he would realize that it was just an emotional phenomena that developed through natural selection. Look into evolutional psychology and advances made in animal reasoning. Animals are more intellectual than previously thought. They have some of the same abilities we do in planning, rudimentary logic and memory, etc.
Now Joe has come out with your cmp and he has come out with my -mp. See how that happens?
In the case that he commits to a MMP then converts to a CMP, then the CMP that converts to the MMP negates the conclusion that the CMP is more Valid than the MMP, speaking objectively of course.

Can a truth that is open to interpretation really be considered a truth? It is an opinion.

One Wave said...

Hi Lee and Chris,

Chris, I wish I had your ability to articulate. I like your blog, very meaty, thanks for taking the time!

Lee,

First, hello again! It's not as far into "distant future" as I thought it would be, I'm popping in just to see what you've been writing. I can't leave this alone :o)

In your model I don't see room for any moral truth. Everything is subject to interpretation if there is no fixed point of reference.

In regard to neuroscience, what a field of discovery! On a past post you said you believe that chemical reactions in the brain come before a behavior. (I'm sorry I don't remember which post it was.) Neuroscience would have two tales there.
Behavior can cause a chemical reaction in the brain and a chemical reaction can cause a behavior. Depression is a prime example.

If a person is depressed for an extended period of time, their brain chemistry can change so that they will need medication or a change in life circumstances in order to balance the chemistry again. OR, a person can have an unbalanced chemical reation due to an accident or poor diet, etc.., and experience depression.

Psychology is highly subjective because it begins with the human mind which is subject to presuppositions and subconscious ideals even though the psychologist is a "trained proffessional". (I am not negating psychology, but I would not consider it to be a reliable tool for judging truth.) Psychaitry is dependent on neuroscience and psychology. The very nature of science cannot determine moral truth because it is the quest of man's inquiry into a pre-exisisting infrastructure.

If there is foundational truth, it makes sense that many belief systems would have some of that truth.

Like Chris, the Bible is not my first source for truth. I believe there is more truth to be found in that one book than in any other, but I met God before reading the Bible for myself. In fact it was the last thing I wanted to read.

If chance is what gave me the ability to imagine a God so awesome and beyond-my-imagination-wonderful, why can't I reproduce that reality or those feelings whenever I want to? Believe me, I would!

I'm assuming your reason for debunking the Bible is to show that it is not worth building a worldview from??
In response to people forming a worldview based on the Bible itself, it would seem that they have missed the point of the Bible in the first place, to point people to God, not to take His place.

You mentioned other religions...Chrisitianity can be seen as a religion, or as it was seen through the eyes of those who first called the followers of Christ "Chrisitians". The residents of Antioch saw people emulating Christ. If you follow, carefully, the lives of people who were known to exhibit lives in line with what Christ taught, the fruit of the Spirit, I think it makes a very persuasive argument for the continuity of God's work in the human heart to bring about His Kingdom on earth. There have been abuses of the gospel for sure, but the Kingdom of God is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.

(Some people who have been considered by some to be like Christ would be; St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, Thomas A' Kempis, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, and Corrie Ten Boom.)

It would be interesting to get statistics...they probably already exist...to find out how many charity run orgaizations are operating hospitals, orphanages, relief shelters, refugee camps etc... are run or staffed mostly by Christians. This IS a significant point. John said that he thinks that people would have come up with these ministries eventually. If that's the case, there should be as much help being administered by non-faith as faith based agencies. It would also be interesting to find out how many of the faith-based agencies indoctinate the people they are "serving". By indoctrinate, I mean actively teaching doctrine or using threats, withholding treatment etc... Sharing the love of God or praying with people would not fall under that definition regardless of the faith.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
welcome back.
now I'm trouble! I have you both double-teaming me!
I'm going to have to defer my comment to you for a little while until I get the time to respond.
check back,
thanks for coming back.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
Here is the rest of my feedback on your comment.
Now wait just a artifact-pickin' minute. These finding are VERY significant. ...
Skeptic: These civilizations are pure fiction! See, we knew the Bible was a joke.
Christian: Wait -- we found evidence of the Hittites!
Skeptic: Oh. Uhh, well, how important is that? That doesn't prove anything.
It proves a lot…. Every such confirmation increases the reliability of the total package, and makes it that much more probable that we'll confirm the other stories as well.

Now hold on there Mr. Indiana Jones! Now I get to throw the straw at you a little bit! I didn't say they weren't important, I agree they are very important. And I agree that the likelihood of a story being true increases with the evidence that supports it. But the weight of importance on discovering that a civilization existed and the weight of discovering that the exodus really happened the way it is detailed in the bible are not equivalent are they? One is a general type of claim and the other is very specific claim that has repercussions. To say that the city that “Lonesome Dove” took place in is real is a different claim that to say that the characters in “Lonesome Dove” really did what they are described as doing.

Lee said “Most of the history in a James Michener novel is accurate. What about the Iliad and the odyssey? Does that say a lot?”

Chris said “Sure. If they are claiming to tell a true story.”

There have been books written that were discovered to be fraudulent. One I’m thinking of but cannot find the name to was written by an Australian girl that was posing for years as an immigrant. She made up a war-time tale and adopted a east European accent to keep her fraud going for five to ten years until it was uncovered by someone familiar with the facts. So to say that history in a book means a lot if it claims it is telling a true story doesn’t follow in my opinion. It would have the same weight of importance in either case. The process of verifying the story would increase or decrease the weight of importance.

I've done the homework, Lee. But there is always more out there to study than anyone could get to. At some point, we have to draw a conclusion. Honestly, the more I study, while at the same time deepening my spirituality, the stronger my faith becomes.
You are right, but it worked the opposite on me. If you read my other domain of knowledge post, you can see what I mean. And the more I continue to learn the more comfortable I am with my convictions.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave, I'm going to have to 'nickel and dime this reply'.

In your model I don't see room for any moral truth. Everything is subject to interpretation if there is no fixed point of reference.
First off, 'morals', 'ethics' and 'goodness' are subjective. But here's a 'hail mary', how about "mitigate harm"?
If you mean universal moral truth, there are being shown to be psychological moral reasoning schemes that span cultures and populations, but for the rest it is decided on by the culture it affects. The ten commandments were nothing special, plenty of examples exist that predate them. Do unto others yada yada existed before Jesus supposedly said it. More or less, It is the prisoners dilemma in game theory. Game theory has promise for resolving ethical dilemmas that aren't even considered in the Bible. Consider this simple one that you probably have run across at a kids birthday party. How do you divide the cake so that there is no 'portion envy'. There is a way to come REALLY DARN CLOSE using game theory but not the bible. How does that happen?

I don't see any room for moral truth in your model either. Christians in this blog have argued the God is good in his own way. What does that mean? There is no fixed point of reference. It is non-sense. Don't get me started on the old testament or I'm going to have bring up the Holy Poop mandate, in addition to the other things about stoning etc.

The bible is not sophisticated enough to deal with the kinds of ethical dilemmas that we deal with today. An example. Is there any guidance in the bible on the following hypothetical situation?
You are in a boat in the ocean from a plane wreck. you have five people in the boat, you don't know when you are going to get rescued and you have very little fresh water. One of you has a wound that will result in death in these circumstances. Do you keep feeding the person water even though you know they probably wont survive or do you share it with them till they die? another one, invitro fertilization. It has got us to the point where there are frozen embryos unclaimed that are being disposed of. Why not use them for stem cells? I suppose you would argue we shouldn't have gotten ourselves into that mess and should stop so that we don't have to deal with it. But Invitro fertilazation has brought lots of healthy babies into the world, and some consider it a blessing.

What to do, what to do?

I go with the frame of reference that I know is not based on the faulty premise of the bible.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
now the second part, if I make a stupid rushed mistake please exercise the principle of charity and give me the benefit of the doubt! ;-)

In regard to neuroscience, ...Behavior can cause a chemical reaction in the brain and a chemical reaction can cause a behavior. Depression is a prime example.
As i understand you are right. there instances of feedback loops in all categories of things. Brains, electronics, dialogue, etc.

If a person is depressed for an extended period of time, their brain chemistry can change so that they will need medication or a change in life circumstances in order to balance the chemistry again. OR, a person can have an unbalanced chemical reaction due to an accident or poor diet, etc.., and experience depression.
Psychology is highly subjective because it begins with the human mind which is subject to presuppositions and subconscious ideals even though the psychologist is a "trained professional". ...The very nature of science cannot determine moral truth because it is the quest of man's inquiry into a pre-existing infrastructure.

I agree with that too, up until the 'pre-existing infrastructure' because, with regards to the 'universal moral', it appears that you have assumed that science can't isolate the areas of the brain that control the rudimentary 'morality algorithms' if there are any. But on a side note, if you had thrown schizophrenia in there I could use that argument against Chris and anon 1035 for the unreliability of experience in validating the truth of the Bible. Your brain plays tricks on you.

If there is foundational truth, it makes sense that many belief systems would have some of that truth.
Yes I agree, but as an evolutionary psychology issue

If chance is what gave me the ability to imagine a God so awesome and beyond-my-imagination-wonderful, why can't I reproduce that reality or those feelings whenever I want to? Believe me, I would!
Well you can't do that with other feelings unless your are skilled at it like an actor, I'm assuming that actors can do it to make themselves cry.

I'm assuming your reason for debunking the Bible is to show that it is not worth building a worldview from??
Actually my reason for debunking the bible is because I am a big fan of science and a republican up until the last elections, but in the past few years things have gotten out of control and I think it is time I took a stand. I joined this blog specifically to attack the bible and its use as a presupposition for reasoning. I think there is not enough debate based on verifiable data and I wanted to bring something else to the table.

You mentioned other religions...Christianity can be seen as a religion, ...The residents of Antioch saw people emulating Christ. If you follow, carefully, the lives of people who were known to exhibit lives in line with what Christ taught, the fruit of the Spirit, I think it makes a very persuasive argument for the continuity of God's work in the human heart to bring about His Kingdom on earth. There have been abuses of the gospel for sure, but the Kingdom of God is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Christians don't hold a monopoly on morals, ethics or any other spirit fruit. I think you know that, so this Christian fruit of the spirit thing applies to non-Christian spirit fruit as well. Orange you glad I didn't make any weak puns just now?

It would be interesting to get statistics...they probably already exist...to find out how many charity run organizations are operating hospitals, orphanages, relief shelters, refugee camps etc... are run or staffed mostly by Christians. This IS a significant point. John said that he thinks that people would have come up with these ministries eventually. If that's the case, there should be as much help being administered by non-faith as faith based agencies. It would also be interesting to find out how many of the faith-based agencies indoctrinate the people they are "serving". By indoctrinate, I mean actively teaching doctrine or using threats, withholding treatment etc... Sharing the love of God or praying with people would not fall under that definition regardless of the faith.
yes it would be interesting to comprehensive demographics on that. There are united way and unicef and all sorts of secular charities.

live-n-grace said...

I think the important thing is that, true almost all charities, shelters, ect.. are founded and run by christians, but this does not mean that non-christians give or love. We were all made in the image of God, and we are all CAPABLE of doing good, it's just that most don't. I think a big difference too, is that athiests give because it makes them feel better, a pat on the back, while Christians realize how lucky they are to have all these possessions given from God, and that they can help other people's lives by giving. Also, generousity is a fruit of the spirit, and I feel compelled to give, just as God has given much to me.

chris said...

Hi ho --

Thanks for the ongoing mental stimulation. I've had to think of things I've not thunk of before.

You know, one theme I have seen in your comments is this idea that God ought to make his existence, and the truth of Christianity for that matter, undeniable or irresistable. I presume that you believe that this would solve most of the problems concerning religion. There should be no epistemic wiggle-room, in your view. No one should ever be able to say, "I didn't know!"

I have come to see the profound wisdom in providing epistemic wiggle-room. (If you want biblical references, I can do that next time.) God is just close enough so that he can be found by those who honestly seek him. But he is just far enough away that he can be ignored by those who wish to keep their distance. In this, he gives us a wonderful gift of freedom. To override our senses with an indisputable manifestation of his glory would be to destroy our freedom.

Skeptic: Isn't that convenient! I say I want more evidence, and you tell me that's not God's way. How could I ever falsify that claim? It's self-fulfilling!

There's not much I can say, except, I think with a little contemplation one can see the wisdom to such an approach for God. God hides himself. You will find this idea throughout the Bible.

Skeptic: But what about the spectacular miracles in the Torah?

Ahh, yes. But what was the result of witnessing those spectacles? Steel-bolted faith and obedience? Nope. Once the electricity of the event wore off, people went right back to their old doubting, finicky selves.

I think Jesus recognized the futility of signs and wonders. This is not a philsophical issue, i.e., "how much evidence is sufficient for belief in God." This ultimately comes down to the heart. Scoff if you will. Jesus said,"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."(Lk. 16:31)

Sorry to seemingly change the subject here -- "now back to our regularly scheduled programming."

This is an egocentric subjective process that he has undergone. . . If he really underwent and honest search for the truth regarding this MP he would realize that it was just an emotional phenomena that developed through natural selection.

Wow! Do you realize how this sounds? "If anyone did an honest search for truth, they would believe as I do!"
Egocentric -adj.- having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things. (Dictionary.com)

Can a truth that is open to interpretation really be considered a truth? It is an opinion.

What does this mean? I assume you are not suggesting that for anything I believe to be true, it must be absolutely true without the possibility of error. That is dogmatism. If you think your beliefs are infallible, then this will be my final post. There would be simply no point in dialogue. But I don't think you hold such a view.

Suppose Joe has an experience of MP. Of this, he cannot be mistaken, anymore than he can be mistaken about the pain he currently feels in his tooth. What he can be mistaken about is this: the cause or meaning of the MP. Joe could be having a mild epileptic seizure. If not, and the cause is supernatural, then which god is it? This is where written revelation comes in handy.

So where does this leave us? Just that MP is only a starting point. From there you must try to interpret the experience and try to understand the Person behind it. We can have fallacious MP, just as I can have hallucinations or misundertand something said to me in the telephone game. But only a madman would conclude that we should never trust our eyes or ears, or even our spirit.

So MP seems like a valid starting point, but it is fallible. I've already implied this, but I think that many Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have authentic MP. MP is generally non-propositional, though. So, they interpret it incorrectly. But they are most likely experiencing the same God I am. Heck, even many Christians misinterpret MP. Double-heck, I probably misinterpret it.

I won't even go into how this actually makes a nice start for a theistic argument. Billions of people throughout history have experienced MP. The atheist has to turn a blind eye to this fact, or make up a just so story to explain how pathetically deluded these billions have been, and how enlightened he is.

In any case, I'll wrap up. If you can't get to a reply right away, Lee, that's ok. The double-team is a little rough. Thanks for your thought-provoking responses so far.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi live-n-grace,

I think the important thing is that, true almost all charities, shelters, ect.. are founded and run by christians,
I'd like to see your source for that please.

I think a big difference too, is that athiests give because it makes them feel better, a pat on the back, while Christians realize how lucky they are to have all these possessions given from God, and that they can help other people's lives by giving.
The feel good pat on the back does not apply to Christians? Is it probable (I'm avoiding the 'p' word [possible] for fear that Chris will 'light into me') that it can be both in a Christian? I think there is more integrity in giving when you know your possessions are finite, and there is not reward, than there is knowing that your possessions are potentially infinite and there is an eternal reward. Ironically, of the two givers, I'd say the non-believer is the more deserving of the reward.

Also, generosity is a fruit of the spirit, and I feel compelled to give, just as God has given much to me.
Orange you not considering my 'fruits'? Kiwi say that I have fruits too? As far as I can tell they don't come from the supernatural, they come from the chemical reactions that are going on in my noggin. Banana wanna discredit the Christians contributions, all contributions are good.

I love that!

One Wave said...

Lee,
My point was not to make you look like a fool. These issues are good to look at honestly and try to come to conclusions, but sometimes it seems that there can be no conclusion because there is not enough plausible information on either side. It's good for me to be stretched and grapple with these ideas and I think it's good for us all.

You are right, this concept of truth is hard. On the one hand, we all know that every culture has unwritten "laws" that seem parallel. The ten commandments were certainly not original in the whole, the law of Hammurabi was very similar in some ways. Again, I would say that if God is God and man was made in His image, all men would have a semblance of His truth in their being. The Summerians would not have been too far off in time from the literal 6 day creation.

Truth implies something ultimately foundational. Something unalterable. Is telling a lie right or wrong? Bertrand Russel would have argued, I think, that a Christian would begin with the assumption that God created right and wrong. He started with the premise that God has made everything in a mechanical sort of way as we would make a clock. I don't see that as being the case. We know it is not a good idea to lie but there are occassions when lying is neccessary. An example from the Bible would be the midwives in Midian. What truth is violated there? It's deeper than written words.

According to Bertrand Russel, Christians begin with the premise that God created law and right and wrong when He created space, time and matter. That is what he seems to imply, that Christians would start with that assumption. I can't speak for other Christians, and I could be wrong, but I don't start with that assumption. I begin with the assumption that God is the foundation and all He has made proceeds from Him directly.
Therefore, the Bible need not be the source of truth because it is only part of God's revelation. God is truth. He looks at the very core of our being, the intentions of our hearts, not only outward actions.

From what I hear you saying, truth is a process of natural selection. Those with the ability to value others and live by an internal law survived. These people passed on thier altuistic genes to us and we have the right brain chemistry. That could be to some extent. Right and wrong are subjective but underlying truth is not. For example, it is good to tell a lie sometimes and it is neccessary to kill sometimes. The value of truth in telling a lie or killing would be the motive or intent. The ability to reason beyond the obvious doesn't seem to be the hallmark of evolution.

My point about doing good in the world was not to debase another faith. I was asking you to look at the results of a belief system. There are horrible examples of Christianity and other belief systems, but looking at the fruit of each of them can tell us something about the integrity of the beginning premise.

People without a faith in God or a god, can still do good things and do. I'm not judging thier ability to do good, but I do observe that people who believe that they are here to be the hands and feet of God are more motivated to change thier plans to serve people without expecting those they serve to give back.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,

Here's the first part of my reply, I'm working on the rest.


Thanks for the ongoing mental stimulation. I've had to think of things I've not thunk of before.

thank you for participating. Thats what I'm here for.

You know, one theme I have seen in your comments is this idea that God ought to make his existence, and the truth of Christianity for that matter, undeniable or irresistable. I presume that you believe that this would solve most of the problems concerning religion. There should be no epistemic wiggle-room, in your view. No one should ever be able to say, "I didn't know!"

you pegged me.

To override our senses with an indisputable manifestation of his glory would be to destroy our freedom.

this is your opinion. no, it wouldn't. If I see three puppies in a trash bin, I make the decision to get them out and save them. I am not compelled. Motivation, and desire come from stimulation we get from our environment. If god manifested himself, I am sure most would convert, but some wouldn't, chance is just that way, then we would need to figure out why they wouldn't convert. Maybe they are just butt heads or maybe they are schizophrenic and can't trust it because it appears to be just another illusion. if god cured it, and they converted, would it be fair to say they were coerced?

Skeptic: Isn't that convenient! I say I want more evidence, and you tell me that's not God's way. How could I ever falsify that claim? It's self-fulfilling!

There's not much I can say, except, I think with a little contemplation one can see the wisdom to such an approach for God. God hides himself. You will find this idea throughout the Bible.

yes, i think your are right, but I would say if you think long enough, you can find a way around an unfalsifiable argument, reasonable or not. Thats why I like to stick with things that are verifiable. It limits the amount of fraud that I fall into


Skeptic: But what about the spectacular miracles in the Torah?

Ahh, yes. But what was the result of witnessing those spectacles? Steel-bolted faith and obedience? Nope. Once the electricity of the event wore off, people went right back to their old doubting, finicky selves.

that is what it says, I agree, but its truth is what I doubt. I don't believe that it played out that way or if it really happened. If it were to happen now, and I'm looking with my 'miracle watch', I think I would convert again, and I think most would such that we'd have more like 80% compliance worldwide instead of the ~30% that the world atlas claims. But this is my opinion, much as it is yours that the bible is valid for knowledge about god.


I think Jesus recognized the futility of signs and wonders. This is not a philsophical issue, i.e., "how much evidence is sufficient for belief in God." This ultimately comes down to the heart. Scoff if you will. Jesus said,"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."(Lk. 16:31)
if you can make it irrefutable not many would resist, especially if it was clear the the threat of hell was real and present. To say that I have to suspend my reason and adopt a philosophy with a dependence on non-verifiable data is a recipe for disaster in the real world. I would say it is a recipe for disaster in religion as well. I think the people falling out of the towers on 9/11 or the unlucky suffering torture in the dark ages or in Salem would agree.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
I never thought you were trying to make me look foolish. I hope you don't think I'm trying to make you look foolish. I got a little 'light hearted' with the fruit of the spirit thing, because I am enjoying the dialogue!
I don't disagree with most of what you said, I am working on a reply to you.
I hope all is well with you and that your troubles have passed.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,

Lee said: This is an egocentric subjective process that he has undergone. . . If he really underwent and honest search for the truth regarding this MP he would realize that it was just an emotional phenomena that developed through natural selection.
chris said:
Wow! Do you realize how this sounds? "If anyone did an honest search for truth, they would believe as I do!"
Egocentric -adj.- having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things. (Dictionary.com)

You really know know how to brighten my day! I love citations and real data!

Chris, that is how it is supposed to sound. I really believe that. I don't see how anyone could not come to the conclusion that I did. So what? I think you feel that way about christianity. If not we'd be talking about something else.


Lee said: Can a truth that is open to interpretation really be considered a truth? It is an opinion.
chris said:
What does this mean? I assume you are not suggesting that for anything I believe to be true, it must be absolutely true without the possibility of error. That is dogmatism. If you think your beliefs are infallible, then this will be my final post. There would be simply no point in dialogue. But I don't think you hold such a view.


Well chris, I don't see how get there from what I said. The way you took my view is not my view. My view is this. I have plenty of presumptions that I use day to day to make decisions and interact in the world. I am not comfortable with a presumption that is not as certain as it can be. Is that weird? Our beliefs and most of our reasoning is defeasible, meaning that it can be made invalid by new information. This is my 'dogma' if you will. If you look back through my articles, I usually provide that 'disclaimer'. I do that because I consider the position of some atheists that "absolutely there is no god" to be unreasonable in a strict sense. But I still think that something that is considered to be a "truth" that is subjective is an opinion. My computer is true because I'm typing on it, but if I tell you how it works, that may or may not be the truth. It would be my opinion until we get some expert information that both of us were satisfied with, that it accurately represented what was going on inside, was plausible. Do you believe if you go to Lourds that you will be healed? Do you believe in faith healers? Do you believe in bigfoot or UFO's, do you believe in the "the secret" that is on the bestseller list? etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. Without strict criteria for a commitment to an idea, we open ourselves up to fraud. And I don't want any of you to go away, I like talking to you all.

...Just that MP is only a starting point. From there you must try to interpret the experience and try to understand the Person behind it. We can have fallacious MP, .... But only a madman would conclude that we should never trust our eyes or ears, or even our spirit.

So MP seems like a valid starting point, but it is fallible. I...even many Christians misinterpret MP. Double-heck, I probably misinterpret it.
...The atheist has to turn a blind eye to this fact, or make up a just so story to explain how pathetically deluded these billions have been, and how enlightened he is.


The atheist turns a blind eye..."Pathetically deluded"....

Chris, I think you're throwing a little straw around in here. Pathetically Deluded sounds like Dawkins, not all of us. You don't think I and all other non-christians are deluded?
You interpret your MP as you see fit, Hyam interprets his MP as he sees fit, Mohammad interprets his as he sees fit, I interpret mine as I see fit, but the christian is the only right way. Why is everyone wrong but the christian, I think I missed that?


times up gotta go.
later.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,

These issues are good to look at honestly and try to come to conclusions, but sometimes it seems that there can be no conclusion because there is not enough plausible information on either side. ...On the one hand, we all know that every culture has unwritten "laws" that seem parallel. The ten commandments were certainly not original in the whole, the law of Hammurabi was very similar in some ways.
Again, I would say that if God is God and man was made in His image, all men would have a semblance of His truth in their being.


Or not. For example, i tried to use this type of reasoning as to why humans should be able to judge if god was good or not, but it was attacked 'religiously'. I argued that if we are made in gods image, then we should know what it means to be good and when someone says that god is good and we look around at tragedy we can rightfully say that either he's not around or he's not good. Charge me with a false dichotomy! ;-) I think I can hear Chris's motor revving up....god has reasons that we don't understand, and he's good in his own way, got it. ;-)

Truth implies something ultimately foundational. ..I begin with the assumption that God is the foundation and all He has made proceeds from Him directly.
Therefore, the Bible need not be the source of truth because it is only part of God's revelation. God is truth....

But how do you arrive at this assumption about god? From your culture I'd say. Then the bible supports it and it supports the bible and we are in that feedback loop, that started with and assumption from culture. Is this correct or a misrepresentation?


.. The ability to reason beyond the obvious doesn't seem to be the hallmark of evolution.

No. You're right. But this is not what I am saying. I am saying that a god should be able to be discovered using the same processes we use to discover truths about the world around us. Saying that there is one standard of truth in one sense and one standard in another is intellectually dishonest.

In the case of lies you are right. It is morally justifiable to tell a lie in a situation like the following. A friend comes to you crying and bruised saying her husband hit her. You let her into your house. 30 min later her husband is at the door wanting to know if she is there. The weight of the ethic to mitigate her harm is more than the weight of the ethic not to lie.


My point about doing good in the world was not to debase another faith. ... People without a faith in God or a god, can still do good things and do. I'm not judging thier ability to do good, but I do observe that people who believe that they are here to be the hands and feet of God are more motivated to change thier plans to serve people without expecting those they serve to give back.
I am pretty sure that, as you say, morality spans cultures and religions. But I would go further and say that it stems from egocentrism. Is it really so honorable to be compelled to do something altruistic because you know god is watching? I would say that is pretty egocentristic. In the example of the puppies I gave in an earlier comment, I was in a psychological state, and it was changed by the introduction of the knowledge of the puppies. I became uncomfortable and wanted to get back to my comfy psychological state. To do that required an action on my part that was altruistic. I think it is plausible that this developed evolutionarily, like the social characteristics, as a kind of feedback between humans and animals which improved each others survival strategy. Add a god watching and you have more influence to do good deeds.

If you would like to pursue this, I am thinking about doing an article on egocentrism and morality/altruism. Would you be interested in that?

One Wave said...

Lee,

But how do you arrive at this assumption about god? From your culture I'd say. Then the bible supports it and it supports the bible and we are in that feedback loop, that started with and assumption from culture. Is this correct or a misrepresentation?


My answer:
Well, it is possible that the idea of God came from some cultural source. I don't think so, because I have tended not to see God in exactly the same way as any religion I know. The first time I remember knowing there was a being beyond what I could see was when I was three years old. That was a sense, not a cultural thing.
You may not believe this, but my idea of God comes from Him. There are some things in the Bible that I can't grasp God doing, but I am seeking for answers to those things. The Bible is where I see the most of what I know to be true about God and I do believe that Jesus is the Messiah promised to the Israelites. I see truth in other religious writings too, but the end product of the thought processes of other belief systems seem to be either self debasing or self centered.

Anyway, there are stories around the world of people in remote areas who claim they have been visited by someone saying he is the Son of God and from what I have heard whole villages have come to believe in the message of the Gospel w/o any human intervention. I believe it. I think it is possible and likely that God would do that for people who cannot hear and are searching when they cannot be reached.

I don't know if you've heard of Bruce Olson or his book Bruchko, but it's pretty fascinating. I think it's a good example of what happens when someone really listens to God instead of the religion or culture.

I would be interested in reading an article you write on egocentrism. I don't agree with you that Christians do good things because God is watching, there are many of those, but there are some who do it out of a compulsion to give out of the overflow of their heart.

One Wave said...

I'm sorry, I forgot to include this:

I am saying that a god should be able to be discovered using the same processes we use to discover truths about the world around us.

I would liken this to heart issues in a human relationship. If my husband tried to reach my heart and know who I am by using the scientific method I would be insulted. Maybe that's the trouble between men and women at times eh?! I can understand God's desire to be drawn out and sought after, to be known on a heart level. I think He offers a great reward in return too.

When I look at the world I can't help but to see it broken down into atoms and molecules...it's just the nerdy way my mind works. But I also have a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty and complexity and just being of it all. I realize there are many reactions that happen in my glands and brain, but something goes deeper that causes me to want to reach for Someone I can't see but am sure is there.

This is so long, I'm off for a while again but I'll check back to see what you write on morality/egocentrism.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,

Anyway, there are stories around the world of people in remote areas who claim they have been visited by someone saying he is the Son of God and from what I have heard whole villages have come to believe in the message of the Gospel w/o any human intervention. I believe it. I think it is possible and likely that God would do that for people who cannot hear and are searching when they cannot be reached.
well, that doesn't seem fair. he's got all these ex-believers blogging their little hineys off, wishing for something like that to happen to them. For that reason, I don't buy it.

I don't agree with you that Christians do good things because God is watching, there are many of those, but there are some who do it out of a compulsion to give out of the overflow of their heart.
whew, good, because I don't agree that christians only do good when god is watching either. I said they do it in addition to the egocentric motives. they have an additonal type of motivation source than the non-believer.

Lee said:
I am saying that a god should be able to be discovered using the same processes we use to discover truths about the world around us.

I would liken this to heart issues in a human relationship. If my husband tried to reach my heart and know who I am by using the scientific method I would be insulted. Maybe that's the trouble between men and women at times eh?! I can understand God's desire to be drawn out and sought after, to be known on a heart level. I think He offers a great reward in return too.
I hope you were joking, because in a god that hardly seems appropriate behavior when so much is at stake and he supposedly wants a relationship. I don't really want to get into the details of a married relationship and compare it to god, but sometimes a little flowery surprise from your husband is in order, isn't it?

When I look at the world I can't help but to see it broken down into atoms and molecules...it's just the nerdy way my mind works. But I also have a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty and complexity and just being of it all. I realize there are many reactions that happen in my glands and brain, but something goes deeper that causes me to want to reach for Someone I can't see but am sure is there.
well thats okay for you but there are billions of other people god needs to consider. Not all of us have your acute powers of perception. Some of us are handicapped, and can't see what is obvious to you.

This is so long, I'm off for a while again but I'll check back to see what you write on morality/egocentrism.
I look forward to hearing from you again.

chris said...

Lee -- Great comments. OK, it is probably true that all atheists don't think Christians are pathetically deluded. But I actually got the impression that something close to this was your view (and I certainly get this impression from others at DC). When you said that if someone "underwent and [sic] honest search for the truth regarding this MP, he would realize that it was just an emotional phenomena that developed through natural selection," this is not the statement of a man who thinks that Christianity is rational, is it?
I think you feel that way about christianity.
No, I don't, because I know too many reasonable, intelligent people who do not believe as I do. I think atheism is a rational position, even if it is false. So if you think I am rational to believe as I do, then you should retract the above statement. I hereby retract my comment about atheists (that they all think we are pathetically deluded).

Now, regarding truth . . .
Only propositions can be true or false, and propositions are expressed by sentences of a certain sort. "Go get the toaster" is not a proposition, since it is neither T nor F. "Are you ticklish?" is not a proposition either. "The cat sat on the nuclear bomb" is a proposition, and is either T or F.

But I still think that something that is considered to be a "truth" that is subjective is an opinion.

Perhaps another way to say this would be "A proposition that is considered to be true, but is subjectively true, is an opinon." What does this mean? Well, we could say that something is merely *subjectively true* just in case it is relative to the person asserting it. So, "I am sitting at the kitchen table" is true relative to me, but perhaps false if you said it. So for thiestic belief, the proposition "I beleive that God exists" is true when I say it, but false when you say it. This probably isn't what you are getting at. Or maybe you're talking about matters of taste, like "Dog meat is the best." That probably is subjective, and is only true relative to a person. But such claims would be really uninteresting, and could not be debated. On this view, the statement "God exists" (or "God does not exist") would merely
be a matter of taste. True for me, false for you.

The other way I could take what you said is this: a certain sort of evidence/reasons are needed for a proposition before one should believe it. So, unless I have empirical evidence for UFOs, the proposition "UFOs exist" should not be believed by me. But this has nothing to do with truth -- only belief. UFOs might exist, but I have no supporting evidence/reasons, thus I should not believe in them. Would this be your view on theistic belief?

This seems reasonable. I would hold the same view, but we would differ on what counts as evidence/reasons. So, there needs to be a further argument about what should count as evidence/reasons. I assume you want CSI-type evidence. I think logic, personal experience, and phenomenological arguments count as evidence/reasons. Like you, I consider them defeasible.

So, I think we agree, mostly. Do you consider Christianity rational?
(Meaning, it can be believed by reasonable persons, it isn't absurd, it isn't irrational, there are good arguments in support of it, etc.) Might be a good next post.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
When you said that if someone "underwent and [sic] honest search for the truth regarding this MP, he would realize that it was just an emotional phenomena that developed through natural selection," this is not the statement of a man who thinks that Christianity is rational, is it?
In a strict go, no-go, true or false, axiomatic kind of way you are right. But from a pragmatic common sense informal logic kind of way, joe came to the best conclusion he could with the information he had. That is not irrational, that is the kind of reasoning that we use quite a bit day to day. You can say the same thing about me. This is a debate with no resolution till we are dead. We are both going on our best information. The difference between you and me, in my opinion, is that I've been there and done that, puzzled over it, got new information and changed my mind.

I would hold the same view, but we would differ on what counts as evidence/reasons.
Whew! Finally, we agree on a 'big ticket item'! Thank god! ;-)

So, I think we agree, mostly. Do you consider Christianity rational?
It depends on the context. In the sense that it is based on conclusions that a person reaches based on their best information, then yes it is rational. If I were to say I am a christian it would be irrational. Based on what I know about you, when you say you are a christian it is rational. In a strict dictionary sense, even emotional causes qualify as reasons and therefore rational (I looked it up). On the other hand, at the risk of a 'straw man' charge, when I hear someone say "god said it, I believe it and that settles it" I would not call that rational. Am I wrong?

I don't want you to think that I am immune from 'stinking thinking'. I have been committed to plenty of things that I am not committed to anymore.
- Fitness supplements
- Diet Schemes
- smoking
- smokeless tobacco
- The bermuda triangle, ufo's, bigfoot
- Religion.
etc. In my lifetime I have spent tons of money and years worth of time on that stuff. Heck I recently got sucked into Ray Kurzweils Life extension through supplements not long ago. It seemed plausible based on current research on calorie restriction and revised thinking about nutrition. And because I believe "in fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" I say the following.

I still stick to my guns that the bible is not a valid premise for conclusions that depend on the presumption that it is authorized and co-authored by a god. My reasons are as follows.
1. A god has not been shown to exist.
2. A god has not been shown to have participated in the creation of the bible
3. Jesus has not been shown to have been god, excluding the New Testament which is covered by item 2.
4. There is quite a bit of 'negative evidence' that conflicts with claims in the bible.
5. There are plenty of other reasonable alternate hypotheses to account for the dataset that christians depend on to back their faith.

So to avoid misunderstandings, an example. When homosexuals want to be protected by law when having a relationship that has been traditionally called marriage and it is resisted because the bible says that god doesn't like homosexuals, I see that as unsound reasoning. If it should be illegal, or at least, not supported, then there should be more compelling reasons than that.

Another example. The resistance that the old FDA administrator was getting over a birth control pill caused her to quit. It was found safe by the FDA but its availability was blocked in legislation.

However, I am open to new information. New information caused me to deconvert, new information may cause me to repent. I looked till I was convinced god wasn't there and gave up.

Like you said, It all comes down to evidence.

Did you read my other 'domain of knowledge' post? It explains all that, but it uses a dog instead. dog is god backwards. ;-)

chris said...

(Before we continue -- just curious -- how old are you? I'm the same age as Dennis in the Holy Grail, who was mistaken for an old woman -- 37.)

Hallelujah. Agreement. And now for something completely different -- another agreement:

If [homosexual marriage] should be illegal, or at least, not supported, then there should be more compelling reasons than ['the Bible says so'].

Yup.

Now for the disagreement . . .

The difference between you and me, in my opinion, is that I've been there and done that, puzzled over it, got new information and changed my mind.

Until you're dead, you haven't 'been there and done that.' You of all people should know how easy it is to be wrong, given your history of dubious commitments. Humility is the paragon of Christian virtue -- in fact it is the paragon of any system of virtue.

I read your domain of knowledge post, but I just can't battle on two fronts.

[Chris and Lee step out of the ring, remove their gloves, and walk across the street to the local pub for a pint.]

Lee, this is just a shot in the dark. . . When I read your list of past "commitments," I wondered if you got mad at religion because it didn't deliver 'as advertised.'(Similar to the diet schemes.) [Chris takes a quaff of his Guinness]I admit, this is an easy, and maybe even reasonable conclusion to draw. I haven't seen the 'results' in my life that I once hoped for or expected. But maybe that's not the best way of thinking about Christianity, or God, for that matter. I don't know if you meditate or contemplate or whatever, but this might be something to ponder: Did you 'get a divorce' from God because he didn't do the kinds of things you wanted him to do?
[Quaff]
I invite your comments as well.

One Wave said...

Lee,
I think I'm starting to sound like a snob, I'm sorry. Talk to you later.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
no worries, I'm not going anywhere!
take care.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
[Lee orders a Scottish beer called Devils Kiss, because he likes it a lot and the irony of it is irresistible to him. He takes a long thoughtful drink of his beer. He looks over the table at Chris, puts his weight on one elbow and says]
Sorry Chris, I want to maintain plausible deniability so I won't give out too much meaningful information and in some cases have used allegory and anecdotes that weren't necessarily mine. [nudge, nudge, wink, wink] I don't want to be 'fingered' difinitively in case someone that has influence on my future see's this blog and makes some hasty conclusions about my integrity. On a side note, I love Monty Python and I have memorized more Monty Python than the Bible. and my favorite song is....can you guess?......The philosophers song.

Humility is the paragon of Christian virtue -- in fact it is the paragon of any system of virtue.

[Lee almost chokes on his beer and some of it comes out of his nose, he wipes it away with a napkin. Lee adopts an australian accent]
maybe in your church, Bruce! In the various churches I was in, and I was as guilty as any, it was pious competition for some people, and I suppose, it was an alibi for rationalization for whatever it was they were feeling guilty about and for others obviously, it was a way to get comfort, self-esteem, recovery and all the good things that it should be. I don't have a problem with Christians that mind their own business, I am challenging the christians that want to infringe on my beloved science and my rights.

[a moment, which only seemed like seconds but was really a minute, passed. Lee turns his beer up another time]

I wondered if you got mad at religion because it didn't deliver 'as advertised.' Did you 'get a divorce' from God because he didn't do the kinds of things you wanted him to do?
[Quaff]
I invite your comments as well.


[Lee stifles a burp, sighs deeply, takes another pull on his beer and says]
When I hear you say things like that, it makes me think you're not listening.
Chris, is it so hard to accept the fact that I couldn't live with the confusion created in my mind with something that I was being told was true, but didn't seem to be?
Some of the things that went on in my mind back then follow.
- how can I say I love god when I can't see him, and he may or may not interact with me?
- How do I know when it is god and when it is luck?
- Where is evidence of the holy spiirt?
- I was literalist until I read the bible. I took it on faith that logically it must all be true. How can the bible have any mistakes if it was co-authored by god?
- where does the interpretation and metaphor stop?
- how do you know an interpretation is right?
- Why isn't the holy spirit interactive in figuring these things out?
- How do you know what is real?
- How can there be so many starving poor people. the only thing that seems to separate them from me is I was lucky to be born where I was. Why should I be grateful for me when they are unfairly disadvantaged
- If god knows everything already, why should I pray? What difference does it make if I just think it while I'm driving or am in church?
- Why should I pray for someone to overcome some misfortune when he already knows what the situation is and what I want him to do about it?
- that prayers not just mine, didn't really seemed to be answered.
- The things that people were taking for answered prayers and evidence of divine intervention were suspect to me
- People telling me that 'god wants them to do this or that with their life', was suspicious especially when strongly coincided with what they wanted anyway and not, in my opinion in their best interests.
- People going so far to tell me that god talks to them. He didn't talk to me!
- I thought people in church in were very self centered, attention seeking
- I thought that 'outreach' was just advertising and fund raising. If you are going to do something altruistic as a church, don' t advertise it, the bible says that anyway.
- why tithe? It pays the preacher yes, and keeps the church together, but why do you need the church? Why do you need the preacher as the middle man? God should be living inside me, it should be a personal relationship, if he's everything he is supposed to be, then why would I need the preacher?
- If a person wants to have a relationship with god, and a god exists and wants to have a relationship too, how could a reasonable person resist? How could a reasonable person doubt he is in relationship with a god? Therefore I was unreasonable by my standards. But I don't think I am unreasonable generally, so how does that happen? Either I am unreasonable or
I did not find god where he should be, if he were there I would have found him. Can you see how I was going crazy?

etc, etc, etc, etc.

As far as I can tell, I am not physically able to sustain a belief in god. I chalk it up to brain disorder. I say brain disorder because since I am in the minority, and it's crazy to say that everyone else is crazy, I must be crazy.
;-)

So you see, Its not about what god can do for me, its what makes you think there is a god there at all?

[Lee finishes his Devils Kiss and asks for another]

Its like you said, it all comes down to evidence. As far as I can tell, there is a double standard for truth. I've used them both.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
I just discovered something. remember when you said this:
"You might want to rewrite that opening paragraph, because it's a little jumbled."

nudge, nudge, wink, wink

well, someone liked it enough to make it the quote of the day.
There is no accounting for taste!
http://www.teambio.org/2007/04/quoute-of-the-day-42007/

say no moah!
[qlug, glug, glug, grin]

chris said...

Well if you go around kissing devils, you're bound to apostasize.

You'll have to pay another $5 if you want me to go on arguing with you.

chris said...

When I hear you say things like that, it makes me think you're not listening.

Ouch. But you know, I think you're right. I spent some time reading your "Questions for God" blog. I had looked at it before, but not closely. I should have said this before, but I'm really sorry about your grandmother. I lost my father in a similar way (cancer + chemo + complications).

You've been on quite a journey this past year or so.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Chris,
thanks for the sentiment. I am sorry for your loss as well.
The journey has been longer than that (many years of puzzling and puzzling till my puzzler was sore). I have to say that visiting with my Grandmother and overhearing all the God talk and rationalizations had a big influence in leaving my personal blog and asking to be allowed to join this one.
My posts over there were not so carefully thought out as they are here. If someone makes me look I a fool, I don't want to make it easy on them.

How do you like my new picture?
Its Howard Beale, the mad prophet from the movie "Network". I was going to use a monkey face, but that wasn't very satisfying to me.

I have to reduce my participation for a little while. My posts aren't going to be so frequent. I'm going to support what I already have provided, but after a couple of days if there are no 'bites' then I'm just going to track the other articles and challenge the irresistible comments. But I have plenty of stuff in my google docs that I am working on and when I get ready to get back in the game, I'll have a nice bunch of crazy talk to amuse you and a five dollar bill.
;-)