Applying IDQ Principles of Research To The Bible

By applying principles of Information and Data Quality (IDQ) in research to the Bible, it can be shown that a high level of confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the information in the Bible is irrational, therefore arguments or claims using the bible as a premise are inherently weak.

Cross-check, Cross-check, Cross-check!
Accuracy and verifiability are part of the foundation of IDQ.

Researchers of Information and Data Quality (IDQ) have created classifications for Data Collectors, Data Custodians and Data Consumers. Those that collect the data provide it to those that store it and maintain it, and to those that use it. There are different values associated with IDQ dimensions depending on which categorical context it falls into(16). For example, the data custodian considers accuracy as the number one value while the consumer (depending on the context) may not consider accuracy the most important dimension. In all cases the most important criteria for the user is whether or not it is useful.

The fact that the consumer does not necessarily regard accuracy as the highest value creates a market for less accurate information which enterprising data producers are willing to satisfy. One example is the "tabloid" and "gossip magazine" industry. However, the desire for useful though inaccurate information extends across categories into business, marketing, politics and religion. Unfortunately, to ensure accurate data when needed, some extra work is necessary in the form of cross-checking.

Who is the author?
Like everything in life, cross-checking should be able to be used to verify a piece of information to see if it makes sense from another perspective. One way to do that is by being able to identify the author. When the author can be identified their credentials can be reviewed. Whether or not the author is an expert can be assessed, what their peers thought of them and what environment they lived in. These properties can be used to cross-check to see if the information has external consistency and makes sense from other perspectives. These properties allow the use of inference to assess the credibility, plausibility, believability and most importantly the accuracy of the information. There is no precise definition of accuracy, and in fact many of the dimensions of IDQ are self-referential, but it is the case that what accuracy is NOT is apparent and using that as a criteria, a working definition can be derived.

Accuracy implies that the datum represents a real world state.
It implies that when the data are reviewed, and compared to the real world event or object it describes the real world event sufficiently for more than one person to have as close to the same understanding of it as possible. An accurate representation of a real world event will not be ambiguous, will not lack precision and will not be incomplete because this will lead to inferences about the real world that do not or never existed or that represent an incorrect element in the real world(3).

Accurate and verifiable data are crucial to having enough understanding about the subject to be able to make reliable decisions, inferences and predictions in order to increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. Verifiability increases the credibility of information.

Your spouse, parents and reputable organizations endorse accurate reporting.
Almost everyone that has an interest in making some kind of an investment whether its monetary from a giant corporation or emotional from a trusting spouse desires, requires and demands IDQ. Human understanding and knowledge depend on it. Technology is successful because it builds on the accurate reporting and successful reproduction of work that came before it. Relationships are successful because Information Quality (also known as truth) fosters trust. Since Information Quality is so fundamental, it is easy to find reputable organizations that endorse it and not just your mother, father, spouse or friend.

Reputable organizations such as Cornell University(17), East Tennesee State University(19) and George Mason University(20) and McGraw Hill(21) and the U.S. Government(18) have websites set up which are devoted to promoting criteria for assesing the quality of information from sources. They place a high value on it and stress the importance of it. Two other websites related to education are "The Virtual Chase"(22) which is devoted to "teaching legal professionals how to do research", and Robert Harris's VirtualSalt(15) which is heavily referenced throughout the Internet. VirtalSalt has a checklist called "CARS" which was derived from the first letter of its major criteria, Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness and Support. The CARS Checklist encapsulates the research criteria that are endorsed by reputable organizations in an easy to remember mnemonic and can be found here

Criteria for Data and Information Quality in research
Listed below are the components of the CARS checklist. The initials of some of the other organizations listed above are used to show where their criteria fit into it. Their initials are beside the data quality dimension they endorse - vs is VirtualSalt, c is Cornell, vc is VirtualChase,

* Credibility (Credentials)
vs Author, c Author, vc Authority, c Publisher, c Title of Journal
Two relevant indicators of a lack of credibility are Anonymity and lack of quality control.

Critical Questions to ask are:
- Why should I trust this source?
- What is it that makes this source believable?
- How does this author know this information?
- Why is this source believable over any other?
- What are the authors credentials?
- What type of quality control did it undergo?
- Was it peer reviewed?

* Accuracy
vc Accuracy, vs Timeliness, vc Timliness, vs Comprehensiveness, c Coverage, vc Scope of Coverage, vs Audience and Purpose, c Intended Audience, c Edition or Revision, c Date of Publication,
Three relevant indicators of a lack of accuracy are no date for the document, vague or sweeping generalizations and biased to one point of view.

Critical Questions to ask are:
- Is it accurate? Is it correct?
- Is it up to date? Is it relevant?
- Is it Comprehensive? Does it leave anything out?
- What was the intended audience and purpose?

* Reasonableness
vs Fairness, vs Objectivity, vc Objectivity, c Objective Reasoning, vs Moderateness, vs Consistency, World View, - c Writing Style, vs consistency, vs world view
Some relevant indicators of a lack of reasonableness are intemperate tone or language, incredible claims, sweeping statements of excessive significance and inconsistency (written on the VirtualSalt as "conflict of interest")

Critical Questions to ask are:
- Does it offer a balanced, reasoned argument that is not selective or slanted?
- Is it biased?
- Is a reality check in order? Are the claims hard to believe? Are they likely, possible or probable?
- Does this conflict with what I know from my experience?
- Does it contradict itself?

* Support
vs [source documentation or bibliography], vs corroboration, vs External Consistency, c Evaluative Reviews
Some relevant indicators of a lack of support are numbers and statistics without a source, absence of source documentation and/or there are no other corroborative sources to be found.

Critical Questions to ask are:
- Where did this information come from? What sources did the author use?
- What support is given?
- Can this be cross-checked with at least two other independent sources?
- Is the information in the other independent sources consistent with this information?


What are some real world examples of poor Data and Information Quality research?
Conclusions about History are necessarily defeasible. One of the problems is that methodology and techniques improve a little every century. Conclusions made about a certain topic are revised as new information turns up. New information is used to compare to the old information for coherency and consitency. Some of these problems stem from poor data creation by the originator. Data are not accurate or complete. Users still struggle with these problems today. "A Website Dedicated to Information/Data Quality Disasters from Around the World" has been set up by the International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ) and its called IQ Trainwrecks(14 ). "Poor data quality can have a severe impact on the overall effectiveness of an organization"(3) and "Poor data quality can have substantial social and economic impacts"(11) that span the spectrum from news to marketing to text books to health care. Fortunately we can examine the methods of the ancient historians and scientists to see what led to poor results so that we can avoid those methods, improve what can be improved and derive new ones to replace the old.

Applying Data and Information Quality for research to the Bible.
As accurate as they tried to be, the authors of scripture still suffered from the same sorts of problems common with ancient historians and scientists. They were biased, inaccurate, had no way to verify information, depended on second or third hand information from relatively uneducated people, were influenced by political affiliations and commissions from aristocrats and state leaders and had poor tools to work with.

The Authors of the bible do not do any better job than their historian and scientific peers in documenting the world. In fact, of the three categories, scientists fared somewhat better because of their quality of documentation. The Library in Alexandria was destroyed by fire over time, so much of ancient scholarship and science was lost but some of the works that do remain leave little doubt about how to reproduce their experiments or their authorship.

It used to be believed that every author of every book in the bible could be identified but over time, it has come to be recognized that tradition is a poor way to record who authored what. External verification of the data revealed how unlikely it was that the person traditionally believed to be the author actually was or even existed.

According to several sources "The Bible comprises 24 books for Jews, 66 for Protestants, 73 for Catholics, and 78 for most Orthodox Christians." (24) From others: "The Protetant Bible contains 66 books (39 OT, 27 NT); the Catholic Bible contains 73 books (46 OT, 27 NT); the Eastern Orthodox Bible contains 78 books (51 OT, 27 NT). The Hebrew Bible (the name of the OT by Jews) contains only 24 books.(23)

Most of the authors of the original information about the Abrahamic God are unknown
There are different books in the bible depending on if you use the Hebrew, the protestant, the catholic or the orthodox (for example) If we use the greatest number of books in any bible as our total, then there are only about 21% of them where the author can be identified. 79% percent of them are unknown(24). 79% percent of the original information that exists about the abrahamic god comes from unknown sources. One of the indicators for lack of credibility in a work is anonymity(15). A small percentage of scripture are not considered worthy of inclusion between denominations. What makes one worthy to one group and not worthy to another? Lack of credibility is one criteria that comes to mind.

The bible is an amalgum of scriptures that span years. Some of the scriptures seem to be derived from other scriptures most of which were also included in the Bible. Trying to use the criteria for varied sources for cross-checking with the Bible is difficult because they were derived from each other, a large portion of the authors are unknown and the quality of production was poor. The criteria used to put them together is not clear but a presumption at a minimum of a need for coherency and consistency is warranted.

The word "trust" is used liberally to describe IDQ criteria. While the bible is generally considered to be trustworthy, is it really? What is it about something that make it "trustworthy"? Accuracy? Coherency and consistency with what we know from our experience?

What follows is a summary of principled research criteria standards which the Bible does not meet with some generic examples.
For the sake of brevity I did not include many solid examples but I do welcome audience participation by documenting them in the comments.

* Authorship - Traditional authorship have been overturned by later scholarship
* Not up to date - Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the OT, Pauls bias against women in the NT
* Inaccurate, incorrect - The rivers of Eden in the OT, Inconsistencies between the gospels
* Irrelevant - Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the OT, ambiguous NT fallacy apparently contradictory anyway "Whoever is not against us is for us — Mark 9:40" vs "He who is not with me is against me — Matthew 12:30a"
* Bias - Old testament treatment of worshipers of other gods, NT treatment of Jewish leadership and scholars.
* Unlikely - Most of the OT and in NT Jesus sternly rebuked his disciples for sleeping in the garden of gesthemane so who witnessed it?
* Conflicts with knowledge obtained from our experiences - Magicians do water to wine tricks.
* Contradicts itself - Who discovered the empty tomb?
* Cross-checking with external sources is extremely difficult and does not support to a large degree. There is no verifiable eyewitness account of the existence of Jesus, however that does not mean he did not exist.

Robert Harris's VirtualSalt has a checklist with a mnemonic for how to deal with information.

Living with Information: The CAFÉ Advice from VirtualSalt(15)
Challenge
Challenge information the information with critical questions and expect accountability.

Adapt
Adapt your requirements for information quality to match the importance of the information and what is being claimed. Extraordinary claims warrant extraordinary evidence.

File
File new information in your mind rather than immediately reaching a conclusion. Turn your conclusion into a question. Gather more information until there is little room for doubt.

Evaluate
Evaluate and re-evaluate regularly. New information or changing circumstances will affect the accuracy and the evaluation of previous information.

I will sum it up in a word.
Cross-check, Cross-check, Cross-check.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
1. Wikipedia, "Data Management"
2. Information Quality at MIT
3. Anchoring Data Quality Dimensions in Ontological Foundations
4. DMReview, Data Management Review
5. IQ-1 Certificate Program
6. Wikipedia, 2003 Invasion of Iraq
7. How Accurate Is The Bible?
8. Datalever.com
9. Wikipedia, Tanakh
10. Null Hypothesis
11. Beyond Accuracy: What Data Quality Means To Consumers
12. IQ Benchmarks
13. Reasonable Doubt About Adaption Theory
14. IQ Trainwrecks
15. Robert Harris' VirtualSalt
16. Data Quality Assessment
17. Cornell University Library
18. Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agnecies
19. East Tennesee State University Researchers Toolbox
20. George Mason Univeristy
21. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Evaluating Internet Resources
22. The Virtual Chase, Criteria for Quality in Information--Checklist
23. Know Your Bible
24. Wikipedia, Authors of The Bible
25. Ancient HistoriansPart 1, Part 2

62 comments:

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

Hi Lee,

I now really like your methodology. Well done. I think this is a great way to assess data. However, just 1 question.

Your premises is that the Bible is fundamentally a book that should map our reality? This is not what the Bible says about itself, not what many theologians are arguing about.

every book in the bible was written to a Christian audience. Not either and agnostic or an atheist.

The Bible is the word of God written by the Spirit of God for the people of God.

Your data quality must take this into account.

Regards Rev, Phil.
Author of the Blog

Christianity Versus Atheism
http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rev,
thanks for the complement about my methodology. I'm glad you agree that this is a great way to assess data.

Your premises is that the Bible is fundamentally a book that should map our reality?
This is a misrepresentation. commonly called a straw man.

I have never even come close to saying that. I keep saying that the bible should accurately represent events and elements of the real world. It should be an accurate report. If something is said to have happened in the bible, then, by god, it should have happened.
Hope that clears it up.

We agree that the bible has a bias, though pauls teaching was to the gentiles was it not? Are you saying that all he supposedly wrote was intended for people that were already christians? Why? were they having a hard time understanding it? Maybe the holy spirit was slacking off?

The bible has a bias. That is one indicator of a lack of objectivity if not reasonableness.

The Bible is the word of God written by the Spirit of God for the people of God.

- Why should I trust this source?
- What is it that makes this source believable?
- How does this author know this information?
- Why is this source believable over any other?


- What are the authors credentials?
- What type of quality control did it undergo?
- Was it peer reviewed?

- Where did this information come from? What sources did the author use?
- What support is given?
- Can this be cross-checked with at least two other independent sources?
- Is the information in the other independent sources consistent with this information?


I'd say it came from the Greeks.

For your edification and reading pleasure.

What follows is a short inexact history of your soul derived from external sources to the Bible.

first, a principle of history. The greater civilization influences the lesser Jews were the lesser civilization, and they got run over for centuries by their neighbors.

as early as the 6th century bc
- orpheus - legenday figure, said to have pioneered civilization, decended and returned to hades, benefactor of man, magician, harpist, improved hermes lyre, purification rituals,

- orphics
- - orpheus (legen, persephone, dyonysus (bacchus) decended into hades and returned, believed men had a soul derived from a killed dionysus that was put into man when he was made from the ashes, performed purification rites

- Pherecydes of Syros (circa 540bc) - he taught pythagoras, continued the tradition of teaching the immortality of the soul,

thales (624 BC–ca. 546), had a theory of soul, and said "“That for which we blame others, let us not do ourselves”,
sound familiar? Sounds like a Jewish law or something.

- pythagoras (?580-490?), founded the pythagoreans, similar to the orpheans, known for their theory of the transmigration of the soul among other things, performed purification rites, developed a morality that would ensure they could live among the gods, miracle worker, his mother was prophesied to give birth to a wise man beneficial to mankind, believed that numbers were the source of everything, taught his followers morality using cryptic sayings having hidden meanings, His teaching were regarded as divine revelation, improved music scales,

- socrates (469 BC–399 ) had a theory of the soul

- plato (428-347) continued with the forms and theory of the soul, and influenced gnostics

- aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) continued with the theory of the soul and influenced everyone.

- Alexander the Great (356 - 323) carried the message far and wide

- neo-pythagoreanism revival occurred between 200BC and 200 CE, do those dates ring a bell? they should. Jesus falls right in the middle.

- Apollonius of Tyana (15 - 98CE), neo pythagoraen, miracle worker,

It seems Christianity has large greek root.

Lee Randolph said...

oh yea,
I forgot to mention that all this coincides with the "axial age" (800-200bc) but the problem with Karl Jaspers theory is that he doesn't seem to take into account the historically huge commercial trade that went on in that region if not the battles between civilizations.

tigg13 said...

Rev. Phil said, "every book in the bible was written to a Christian audience. Not either and agnostic or an atheist.

The Bible is the word of God written by the Spirit of God for the people of God."

Why even have a bible, rev.?

If you have to be christian before you can read it then you can become a christian without ever looking at it. And if you can find god without the bible then you can remain connected to god without it. If you have questions just go to the source. (holy spirit, guardian angels, silent still voice, etc.)

And all of this preaching and apologetics is also a waste of time since it can only work if your audience has already bought what you are selling.

If the bible cannot speak to the unbeliever then it has no value whatsoever.

RichD said...

Hi Lee,
I haven't had enough time to look at all this, as things at work have become rather crazy lately. But I do have a question that admittedly may be answered in links or other places I haven't been able to read yet.
I think that the quality of the data should be weighed according to the aim of the text in question. Example, the bible is suppose to be a guide to to us so that we can learn and follow Christ to salvation. This is something that won't be fully realized until some future date of a final judgment. Since that is impossible for us to determine now, then how do we decide what to do?
It seems that your approach to this would be to determine if the bible accuratley details history. If it does, then it is a trusted book. If not, then it cannot be trusted.
So just to grab one story at random, the global flood. Since the bible says there was a flood, but we see no geological evidence of such a flood, the bible takes a hit for history.
If the flood happened or not, how will this affect what I have to do, as taught in the same bible, for salvation?
I am trying to spark some conversation on this post because I see a lot of value herein.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich,
I am trying to spark some conversation on this post because I see a lot of value herein.
I'm glad there's you. You always come to save my butt!

I think that the quality of the data should be weighed according to the aim of the text in question. Example, the bible is suppose to be a guide to to us so that we can learn and follow Christ to salvation.
That presumes its authoritative. Lets check that.
Why is it authoritative? Why should I believe it accurately represents real world events about "a christ"?

This is something that won't be fully realized until some future date of a final judgment. Since that is impossible for us to determine now, then how do we decide what to do?

Again that presumes accuracy of the text, but as I pointed out there are some very rational principled discrepencies with it.
- ~79% of the authors are unknown

- Its not clear why anyone should trust this as an authoritative source

- Its not clear what makes this source believable

- How does the author know this information? With the exception of Judaism and Christianity all other instances of divine revelation must be false, so just on the evidence alone, the probability that divine revelation actually happened in the case of Judaism and christianity is unlikely

- Its not clear why this source is more believable than any other. There is more evidence for the authors of the idea of the soul than for the judaism and since greece was such a huge influence in the area at the time, it is a safe bet that christianity adapted it from the culture.

- How do we know that the texts were preserved as they were intended? What method of quality control did they use?

- The information about souls looks very greek to me, so why shouldn't I think it came from the greeks rather than divine revelation from yahweh? If it was divine revelation it was more likely divine revelation from the greek gods, but we don't believe in the greek gods do we so it must have come from humans.

- Where is the support in the form of evidence for this stuff? It is slight, that is why a large number of christians do not believe in a litereal interpretation of the bible. Because the evidence doesn't' support it. So how much of it does the evidence support? That depends on the person reading it doesn't' it? That is a quality dimension about which i have an article in draft. The information doesn't map back accurately to a real world event resulting in ambiguity.

- Can any of this be cross-checked with independent sources? no, the closest you can get are ideas from other cultures with a strong influence in the region.

- The information from independent sources is not consistent with, at least, the information about the soul.


It seems that your approach to this would be to determine if the bible accuratley details history. If it does, then it is a trusted book. If not, then it cannot be trusted.

Not just history, but other facts in general such as pi, are bats birds? do crickets have four legs? is there a dome over the earth? is the earth square? was there really only one language? was there a global flood? did a horn knock down jerichos walls? did the sun really stop? was there an exodus? was there a divided kingdom? Who discovered the tomb? since jesus reprimanded the apostles for not being able to stay awake one hour, who witnessed the event in the garden of gesthemane? Why should we think that pauls epiphany was divine rather than epilepsy? Why should we believe anything paul says? Jesus never said he was god. The trinity was DECIDED by a panel in 325CE. And lots of others.

So just to grab one story at random, the global flood. Since the bible says there was a flood, but we see no geological evidence of such a flood, the bible takes a hit for history.
If the flood happened or not, how will this affect what I have to do, as taught in the same bible, for salvation?

Simple, if someone tells you a story, and you know enough of the 'facts' are incorrect, but not necessarily false, then you don't place a high level of trust in the person. Take this principle and apply it to the bible.

If we iterate through the bible and try to verify facts then as we cross out the ones that don't verify or are shown false, and we don't know who the author was, then they cannot rationally be considered credible. Then logically, if you eliminate all instances of divine revelation, then you reduce the probability that actually ever happened. Its the law of large numbers. Doesn't rule out that it can happen, but it is exceedingly unlikely.

What is going to happen is that all your instances of divine stuff get crossed out and all you have left is some vague data about people and geography. If not then, what makes the divine stuff credible?

RichD said...

Hi Lee,
I'm glad there's you. You always come to save my butt!

You just keep that in mind after you die and find yourself still existing somewhere. I'll just keep trying. ;) (I just couldn't resist)

Meanwhile,
Simple, if someone tells you a story, and you know enough of the 'facts' are incorrect, but not necessarily false, then you don't place a high level of trust in the person. Take this principle and apply it to the bible.

So if I apply it to the bible and I take a story, that to me seems to fit your criteria here, the good Samaritan. Since it is something that has a possibility of actually being not necessarily false, and Chirst is the one telling the story, and since it may be made up I shouldn't trust that person(Christ), or think that the principle in the story has value. Because if the person can't be trusted, based on his made up history, he certainly can't be trusted to teach me anything of value. Especially since the story in question is someone writting down what Christ supposedly said, and we don't even know who wrote the book of scripture that contains the story in the first place.

Now to me, Lee, I think I understood what you are trying to say and I think I applied that principle to the bible correctly based on my understanding of your post. But my conclusion would be this, even if the story of the good samaritan isn't a real verifiable historically acurate event, the principle taught by the story is very useful to me. If everyone were to act like this person, how much different would the world be?
Now I understand there is a flip side to this and I will probalby get plenty of people saying that I then need to take up slavery, shut up my women, use 3 for pi, ect... To all of which I would say there are things taugh in the bible that don't apply to us today. You showed yourself the the OT meant old covenant and NT would be new covenant. That seems to fit the bill of fulfilling the old covenant and beginning a new one, which is what Christ came to do. No longer an eye for an eye but love your neighbor as yourself. Since a new covenant was set up, some of the things from the old testament could still be part of the new covenant made with us, some things are no longer needed. I don't need the bible to be historically verifiable to find it of value to me. But then I could say that about a lot of books.

BobCMU76 said...

Honestly... the Bible often makes it hard to believe the Bible. Jacobean husbandry. Pauline OT exegesis. Just examples of arbitrary and magical methodology which can't carry forward.

I like Jesus self-referential parables, though when even the Bible testifies them to be coded allegory instead, then I wonder and keep wondering why I persist believing Jesus was God incarnate, truly died, and truly resurrected. I certainly don't rest that belief upon the unarguable authority of the Canon of Scripture given us.

While I'm on a rant about how the Bible annoys me, I must say that the works attributed to the author of the fourth Gospel (John) annoy me the most. But that author seems obsessed about authority and corroboration, but then gets all mystical about it, like the blood corraborating the water. It's almost like the Trinity was invented to give imaginary corroboration to imaginary witness.

It's not that IDQ principles were unimportant to those who wrote the Bible and assembled the Canon. It's just that the standards by which authorship was affirmed and corroboration found was often -- too often -- unpersuasive.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
i turned your comment upside down because I want to hit your overall point first then nit-pick the rest.
I don't need the bible to be historically verifiable to find it of value to me. But then I could say that about a lot of books.
right, me too. I find a lot of value and good teaching in unverifiable material such as aesops fables. But we need to keep our focus here. We are talking about THE WORD OF GOD as per 2 timothy 3:16. If you want to relegate the bible to folklore, I'm all for that, thats my goal. If you want to say that the story of Daniel in the lions den came from aesops fable about the slave and the lion, I'm all for that. Daniel was written about three hundred years after the first instance of Aesops "lion and slave" fable.

Users and producers have different criteria for quality, as I said, the producer should want to make the data as accurate as possible, because he doesn't know what it will be used for so he maximizes his appeal and he doesn't want to be discredited for putting out inaccurate information. The user on the other hand doesn't place such a high value on accuracy because if it suits their purpose, they are satisfied. Pretty much like you said. However, there are different weights to the data. It doesn't really matter if the samaritan story is true or not does it? we can observe that it 'fits' with what we know, but Jesus is another matter isn't it? It does matter if Jesus is true doesn't it? And it matters if hell is real doesn't it? And it matters if homosexualtiy is an abberation to god, and if slavery is permitted, and if women shouldn't lead men etc.

- Do you want to say a real jesus died for a metaphorical adam?
- Do you want to say that a metaphorical jesus died for a metaphorical adam?
- Do you want to say that Paul knew that adam was metaphorical?
- Do you want to say that Paul was talking about a metaphorical adam and a metaphorical Jesus?
- Do you want to say that just like there was an old covenant, then a new covenant, now there is the new improved covenant in Joseph smith?

Because I notice that you agree with me where it supports the rationale for Joseph Smiths revelation and the founding of the mormon church.

So if I apply it to the bible and I take a story, that to me seems to fit your criteria here, the good Samaritan.
- Since it is something that has a possibility of actually being not necessarily false, and
- Christ is the one telling the story, and
- since it may be made up
>I shouldn't trust that person(Christ), or
>think that the principle in the story has value.

So does it matter if the good samaritan is real? It fits with what we observe, so it really doesn't add anything, it only supports what we already know. And it doesn't matter if the samaratin is real or not because it serves as an analogy.
Does it matter if Jesus is real? It does add quite a lot and it doesn't fit with what we already know, except his teachings, which are not a problem in a fable, and Jesus not supposed to be an analogy. But it is a problem to make a fable the center of your world view. As in the case of relative moralism. Craig argues that it was justified for god to order the israelites to cut the babies out of the stomachs of mothers, but he wouldn't argue that would be justified if it was ordered by any world leader. Moral relativism in a nutshell.

Because
- if the person can't be trusted, based on his made up history,
> he certainly can't be trusted to teach me anything of value. Especially since the story in question is someone writting down what Christ supposedly said, and we don't even know who wrote the book of scripture that contains the story in the first place.

this is a slippery slope caused by not considering the qualifier of does it fit with what we know and if not, is it verifiable? As i said, if the story fits with what we know, then it supports what we already know. If it sounds crazy then it needs evidential support. Here's a little story....

in 1846 infant deaths in the hospital was 30% higher than births at home with midwives.
"It was particularly upsetting to Dr. Semmelweiss who was very proud of his medical degree. He investigated the causes of childbed fever and discovered that the medical students often went directly from dissecting dead bodies, cadavers, into the delivery room without washing their hands. The midwives, who did not touch cadavers in the course of their work, did not spread infection. Semmelweiss began requiring his physicians to wash their hands after touching cadavers. One year later the rate of childbed fever in his clinic had dropped from 12% to 3%. Semmelweiss’ colleagues demonstrated the traditional reluctance of the medical profession to accept new ideas, particularly when the new ideas meant admitting doctors had caused countless unnecessary deaths. Semmelweiss was fired from the clinic. Not until 30 years later were his ideas about the prevention of childbed fever put into widespread practice."
"It wasn’t until after 1860 that Louis Pasteur established the connection between bacteria and disease."
link

three things about this. It is information that I found on the internet, and verified in two other places. The facts of the story can be verified any number of ways, and the cadaver idea was crazy and not accepted in the face of confirming evivdence until 30 years later when the evidence was overwhelming. This is why evidence is important.

But my conclusion would be this, even if the story of the good samaritan isn't a real verifiable historically acurate event, the principle taught by the story is very useful to me.

It doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know, and it suits your purpose. Your perspective is that of a data consumer and you are satisfied with it because it suits your purpose, so you are not likely to cross-check it or doubt it. And it doesn't matter if the samaratin is real or not because it serves as an analogy.

Now I understand there is a flip side to this and I will probalby get plenty of people saying that I then need to take up slavery, shut up my women, use 3 for pi, ect... To all of which I would say there are things taugh in the bible that don't apply to us today.
The quality dimension of relevance is not met, indicator of poor quality. God is timeless is he not? Why would he put things in there that he knew were going to become irrelevant? If he made the bible an incremental 'study guide' its not clear from the text, another violation of quality dimensions, and when do we run out of material because it becomes obsolete and what do you do then? What do you do when you run out of relevant stuff in the bible? Get another revelation from god and his son on a mountain that doesn't exist?

You showed yourself the the OT meant old covenant and NT would be new covenant. That seems to fit the bill of fulfilling the old covenant and beginning a new one, which is what Christ came to do. No longer an eye for an eye but love your neighbor as yourself. Since a new covenant was set up, some of the things from the old testament could still be part of the new covenant made with us, some things are no longer needed.
Jesus mapped himself to God and to the old testament, he virtually said "the old testament represents me, I vouch for its authenticity by drawing my teaching from it". Why change the rules? Wasn't an eye for an eye a silly principle from the beginning? Thats a very human thing to do. Make a rule then see that it doesn't work, so it gets revised. Do you want to say the as the bible becomes more and more irrelevant, so does god? I'm all for that. Game theory and rational principles more than make up for any alleged morality endorsed in the bible. At least rational principles don't seem to become obsolete.

Lee Randolph said...

hi rich,
regarding the crack about game theory,

the good samaritan story is an example of a rational principle called "the min-max" where the player tries to minimize their losses and maximize their returns and it usually ends with the players finding that the min-max is a mutually beneficial compromise.

BobCMU76 said...

If I recall my game theory from 30 some years ago, Min-max was the saddle point of a zero-sum game where stable outcomes were drawn.

The straw man here, specifically, is the doctrine of plenary inspiration and the infallable witness of the Canonical Scripture. That is indeed a weak foundation -- shifting sand -- upon which to build an ediface.

What is solid ground? Pounding wet sand only gives the illusion of the same.

How is corroboration of the Good Samaritan to be found? Do we look for clay tablets documenting payment to the innkeeper?

There's a different form of truth and a different form of corroboration for such a story. Painful corroboration for me... because that same 30 some years ago, closer to 40, I was taught that regeneration of the elect, as taught in Reformed theology, necessarily produced an observable propensity toward Love. One observes what is undeniably love from the reprobate (Samaritan) and one must give up premises which postulate the impossibility of the same.

Just one instance comes to mind. During apple harvest season, I was given a jump by a group of Mexicans. I've thought ever since that I cannot advocate they being unwelcome among us.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi bob,
If I recall my game theory from 30 some years ago, Min-max was the saddle point of a zero-sum game where stable outcomes were drawn.

is that different than a compromise?

BobCMU76 said...

Not really a compromise. No negotiation is necessary. If I am given 3 choices, A, B, and C, and you are given 3 choices, X, Y, and Z....

Then I would make the choice that gives me the best worst outcome. That is, I look for the worst that could happen with each choice, and choose where that would be least bad.

30 years is a long time to think back. Game theory seems to have been one of the least employed abstractions learned in school, at least in a formal sense. Probably good to have learned to the degree is help me intuitively.

I seem to recall that a decision matrix could have multiple saddle points, where you want to keep mixing things up, like Rock Paper Scissors, which probably is a game that strengthened my intuition more than prisoners dilemma and other such formalities.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
sorry to nit-pick, but I see that as a difference without a distinction. Pragmatically it works out the same.

BobCMU76 said...

I disagree Lee, but ain't it all tangential anyhow?

Compromise, in game theory, is better represented by a 2x2 matrix given a name I now forget. A couple planning a date could go to a ball game or a concert. He likes music, she like men in tight pants. If they see the game together, he's unhappy, but no so unhappy as seeing the concert alone. And seeing the game alone is abhorent. She's of the same opinion concerning the concert. There is no stable outcome. Negotiation and compromise is called for.

Just philologically, I think compromise implies communication between the parties, and min-max outcomes need none. Skeptics who are sloppy with language and categorization about some things are suspect concerning all things.

Things representing ultimate concern are quite another thing.

My religious faith, like most, is inherently selfish. I like to believe that Divinity either lacks free will (is subject to regular, predictable and discoverable physical laws) or is beneficent, as in "God so loved the world."

Too much evidence, textual and circumstantial, represents divinty as capricious and hostile.

Jesus says it may seem that way, but that's our projection, not His nature. And God, talking to Jonah after causing the gourd to wither, assures us that he is not party nor partner to our hostility.

Now this is what I like to believe. Is it, in fact, true?

Is it, in fact, true that "Divinity," loosely defined, is reliable, consistant, and discoverable. Immutable both to us, our enemies, and whatever demi-gods might be postulated. Can the speed of light be altered? Pi? Planck's constant? I like the atheist's god, far more than I like Pat Robertson's god. But is either truly God? Lao Tzu suggests neither is.

The parable of the Good Samaritan suggests that when pornography and promiscuity keep drawing us in without but fleeting gratification of an ever growing and gnawing hunger, we're likely to be abandoned by those who are obsessed with piety. But some will take initiative to address our torment.

My ultimate concern, if anything, is to identify the origin of that initiative. That, to me, is the nature of Divinity -- what the Samaritan did that the priest and the Levite did not do. Is the origin to be found on Buddha's wheel? Or submission to Allah? Or veneration of ancestors, with the implicit and explicit class distinctions?

I know one thing for certain -- it is not to be found in the motion of the planets or the Higgs Bosun or even the disciplines of social biology and political science.

I do find a glimmer of it in the reported initiative of God to face humiliation, for reasons which suggest nothing other than beneficence, that is reported uniquely in the faith tradition of Christianity.

My ultimate concern is to not abandon that tradition, despite its myriad of flaws, so long as what within it that truly merits the label "GOOD NEWS" is demonstrably true. I'm persuaded, at least so far, that it's not demostrably false.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Bob,
the example you used was almost straight out of one of the books I own.
so you disagree because of the qualifier that the parties must negotiate the compromise rather than let it happen naturally.
fine,
the result is still the min-max,
But you are right, it is tangential, so I'll let you have the last word on it if you want to respond.

now, on to bizness...

So why do you choose the christian god over any other? And do you think you have any reliable information about it?

BobCMU76 said...

Lee asked

So why do you choose the christian god over any other? And do you think you have any reliable information about it?

And the issue that started this topic is whether the Bible is reliable. Or at least if I think it is. And I pretty much regard it in light of II Tim 3:16 -- that it's useful, and Paul or whoever wrote II Tim lists a number of ways that it is useful.

Useful and reliable aren't the same thing. I owned a Ford Pinto at one time. And before that a Chevy Cavalier. Both useful cars.

Where fundamentalists get stuck is on the word "inspired." They read into it that God guided the pen of author. I don't see how. I read into that word that some manner of encounter with the Divine moved them to talk about it, though who speaks with much understanding about such encounters. I'm find confusion to be much more reliable than certainty.

In the same class where I learned game theory, I learned a basic premise of research -- that hypotheses are never provable, only falsifiable. And as a corollary to that, I believe that what can be known exactly is artificial, and epistemological exactitude is never achievable with the actual. Epistemological confidence is the best one can hope for, and it is a result of earnest attempts to falsify hypothesis -- by healthy skepticism.

I am troubled by claims that Scripture was dictated. Such claims are made about the Koran, and perhaps by the Koran. I don't think the Christian Bible makes any such claim about itself. The book of Mormon comes close to making such a claim about itself, and I'm bigoted enough to reject it for having made such claim.

What is reliable about Scripture seems to me to be that ordinary people are communicating to me through it about extraordinary things. I can step into their shoes.

I don't get that same sense from reading Bahaullah or Ireneaus of Lyons or Frances Schaeffer. I do get that sense reading Harold Kushner, John Updike, and the evangelist Mark, and several Psalms. I don't get that sense reading the book of Mormon, or the few fragments of the Koran that have been put before me.

The shared human connection is what I seek. And I don't go looking for that in any book that claims extra-human origin... Words that purport to be from enlightened humans have some appeal, but most seem far from illuminating.

Like I said about about the Christian tradition, -- the claim of the voluntary and purposeful humiliation of the Divine is a claim unique to Christianity. And I value that claim, though I'm quite aware, as are skeptics and debunkers that such a claim came late in the Christian kerygma.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Bob,
it seems you are saying that you don't care if its as accurate as it is useful. In other words useful doesn't depend on accurate.

you are reflecting what was discovered about data consumers in the research I studied.

Once the accuracy is surrendered for utility, then the goal post starts moving. speaking matephorically of course...;-)

BobCMU76 said...

Good morning, Lee. I didn't realize you were the author of the lead post. That gives you some author-ity in this instance.

You seem to make much of author-ity, which seems a problem with much of Scripture, biblical or not. Who wrote Shakespeare?

Does it matter who wrote Shakespeare? Some obsess upon it. Others obsess on how Shakespeare became Shakespeare. I think there's even a recent book out by that title.

There are two kinds of readers of Shakespeare.... more, but I'll focus on these two. One sees profund insights and beautiful articulation of human motivations and aspirations. Another looks at word use and fidelity to the historical record and other such analyticals.

Which reader does Shakespeare 'save'?

I guess my point is that Jesus rebuked the analytical Talmudists of his time -- and likely would have rebuked Paul, had he known him. And he'd likely rebuke Biblical literalists of our time,

The subjectivity of Shakespeare is where salvation lay. Not the analytical objectivity. The same for the Bible.

Actually, Lee, your focus on accuracy reminds me of a bunch of Reformed (think vanTil) apologists I hung out with a while back. They were trying to cure me of my PoMo meta-bias, with their stock objection that my certainity that nothing is certain is internally inconsistant.

Validation is an important concept to me. When the Bible says "justification," I think "validation." Sometimes corroboration is validation. That's objective validation. Not unimportant. Subjective validation is more of "Truth" than of "fact".... It's the feeling I often get reading a favorite author, e.g Graham Greene., of "Damn, I wish I had said that" -- the author, the artist, the composer, articulate what's inside me, left unsaid. They say it for me. That's subjective validation.

And that's what saves. I think the Bible corroborates and shares my sentiment there.

The thing about subjective validation is it can all be about shared bias, as opposed to eternal truth perceived across time, space, and culture. But making the distinction one from another requires more self-analysis than examination of the textual conveyance of truth/bias.

It's a dialectical thing, too. Analysis is not valueless. it's just the servant, not the master of the saving subjective connection.

RichD said...

Hi Lee,
But we need to keep our focus here. We are talking about THE WORD OF GOD as per 2 timothy 3:16.

Agreed. So for starters you should already be aware that I don't think the bible is without errors. I also don't mean to make it appear that I don't place importance on the bible, because I do, and as an inspired book that will help "make me wise unto salvation" as verse 15 says.

Hereis a link you may find of interest about some 2nd century christians that may have made changes to the bible to keep it consistant with their beliefs. If such a thing truly happened, then how can we be sure that we actually have the "true" word of God? While I won't go so far as to call the bible folklore, I will say that it is suspect because I can't be sure that it is inthe form that God revealed it in the first place. So that I find value in the bible, as I said, I also have to look at it with the skeptical eye.

I would say that a real Jesus died for a real human race, Adam included.
I would say that there was an old covenant, and there is a new covenant, not a new and improved.

Because I notice that you agree with me where it supports the rationale for Joseph Smiths revelation and the founding of the mormon church.

Being a brainwashed Mormon since birth, this should be of little surprise. ;) But really I have found nothing yet to make me think differently, I won't say that can't happen, only that it hasn't.

Why change the rules? Wasn't an eye for an eye a silly principle from the beginning? Thats a very human thing to do. Make a rule then see that it doesn't work, so it gets.

It is a human thing to do, but this change was made by Christ himself to love thy neighbor. It wasn't humans saying, "well this just isn't working anymore." They were still following the law of Moses, most of them to the extreme.

Well since I am at work, my train of thought moved on without me. If I catch up to it I can add more, but I'll have to pause for now

BobCMU76 said...

Rich... if I might interject...

The Bible has its problems, as you relate in the example of scribal alterations. That brings up a problem -- severe problem -- with my view of things. The scribes introjected their own subjectivity into things, overshadowing that of the originator.

Some people might say that's not such a bad thing... in fact, there's a recent post here by a Ms Tarico that suggests the mutability of oral tradition gives it the authority of the community, and not just one actor within the community. It's when stuff gets written in stone that it becomes dead letter.

But the BoM and Pearl and other such have a far different and more controlled textual history. As I understand it, Joe Smith's original English, with its "must needs be" and other anachronisms is unalterable, except should another prophet have access to the heiroglyphic plates and the magic runes.

I think my train has gone off onto a spur track, as well. I had something in mind when starting, related to my knee-jerk hostility to LDS, no doubt, but I've forgotten where I was headed, except that the kind of criteria by which Paul contrasted wisdom and foolishness was part of my thinking.

I love the South Park episode, with its Dum Dum Dums. But it seems claims of textual fidelity to Divine intent must rely on occult-ness. Things that the leadeship keeps hidden from the masses... perhaps to prevent observation of their flaws.

Claims of occult knowledge by a priesthood, seems to me to be the type of "wisdom" Paul decries, though in the case of Joe Smith, those claims of wisdom seem quite foolish.

RichD said...

Hi Bob,

Interject at will.

I don't know if you were trying to say that you had a problem with scribes intojecting their subjectivity or not, but I think that is a significant problem for religion in this case. If the originator is God, as in reveal by him to a prophet, then to change that without His authority wouldn't seem to wise. If someone is making changes to a text, an inspired text in this case, to fit their own personal agenda, where does that leave the ability of the bible to remain authoritative?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
If someone is making changes to a text, an inspired text in this case, to fit their own personal agenda, where does that leave the ability of the bible to remain authoritative?

Lack of quality of control is an indicator of lack of quality, lack of accuracy, lack of reliability,

Neither of you really have a rationally empirical basis for your belief in the christian god do you? You really don't have a strong argument at all to show why we all should be christians do you?

How are you justified in saying that there is clear evidence that scribes changed scripture, or that we can use the "shakespeare" situation as an analogy to understand THE WORD OF GOD (lets keep our perspective here) and then tell me with confidence that there was a real adam and a real jesus?

I'd say that there is certainly more reason to believe that jesus lived than adam, but the "fact" that adam existed has been soundly negated by a variety of the fields of science.

And if there was no adam, then pauls revelation was wrong, and Jesus crucifixion was no more than a typical roman crucifixion.

And, additionally, no basis for the Mormon church.

But this whole "people corrupted the scripture" is inconsistent with the idea that A GOD (lets keep our perspective here) wants to make himself known to his subjects, and did not use due care and diligence to ensure that it wouldn't be corrupted.

For God to not use due care and diligence in ensuring the integrity of his word is completely inconsistent with his stated goal, and the stated capabilities of the originator who necessarily was God.

Look, its simple,
-if principles of mathematics can be recorded earlier than the first scripture
- and can survive until now
- and remain relatively unchanged, however improved,
- and it was a human endeavor,
- and there is little doubt about them
- and they are more widely adopted than scripture,
>then we should be able to expect more of a *GOD* BASED ON WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT ITSELF. At least the principles of mathematics can be verified, proved, repeated and above all LEAVE LITTLE DOUBT ABOUT THEMSELVES OR THEIR VALIDITY. They are more or less self validating.

What you two seem to be proposing is non-sense in a very strict sense.

BobCMU76 said...

I'm rushing off to be a Sabbath breaker, my livelyhood depending on flea market sales on a Sunday morning.

Non-sense. Ir-rational. And certainly non-demonstrable. But I can still speak of it, and enjoy doing so.....

I was finally persuaded by two things. First was that this proposterous claim that some guy rose from the dead seems to have moved lots of people to react to it in different, and often conflicting ways. It left an impression in history, demonstrated as much by apostacy as by orthodoxy.

Second, the claim that God took the initiative feed me from anxiety about my doubts. It doesn't matter so much what I believe as what was and is and will be. I can't change all that. I think it can change me.

Rich... good question, and I found myself talking in circles trying to address it, so left the response un-posted to give time for more thought.

More social people than I are content that the church is a parochial institution -- just something warm and fuzzy to belong to. Think Unitarian.

But I like thinking this inviolable creator/creation divide was violated, and that we're given a taste of it. Lee seems to advocate constant violence. He doesn't believe a woman is married until she shows him her bruises.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi bob,
so in a nutshell and in all seriousness,
It boils down to that fact that
It just makes you feel better to believe than not to doesn't it?

BobCMU76 said...

Actually, Lee, I'd much rather be an atheist, if feeling good about it were the issue.

Penn and Teller are my heroes, not Billy Graham and Max Lucado. I'd much rather read Huxley than Chesterton.

If you are able to persuade me that life is pretty much reducible to Schroedenger's equations and ACGT sequences, more power to you. I'd probably throw flowers at your feet.

RichD said...

I jsut barely had time to read responses and I must now leave agin. I will hopefully be able to respond to both Lee and Bob tomorrow. I new I could get this one going a little Lee. ;)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich,
you da man!
;-)

RichD said...

HI Lee,
How are you justified in saying that there is clear evidence that scribes changed scripture, or that we can use the "shakespeare" situation as an analogy to understand THE WORD OF GOD (lets keep our perspective here) and then tell me with confidence that there was a real adam and a real jesus?

I am not saying that there is clear irrefutible evidence of scribes changing anyting. But there appears to be evindence that this may have happened. Now your entering into the free will area again. letting scribes make doctrinal changes is fully within the relm of free will. Part of your post here lee is also having other sources that confirm your data. If we can figure out that a single source isn't very wise, certainly a God should know that multiple sources of his WORD would be more convincing than a single source. So while God could have preserved the bible intact and how He wanted it, or he could have other inspired texts that have the same saving teachings so that we have available more than one source of God's word to follow. With one source, the bible, we have many different sects teaching conflicting doctrines from that same book. So then we should imply that this is a God who wants us completly confused about what he wants from us. Saturday sabbath? Sunday sabbath? infant baptism? Older before baptism? Saved by grace? saved by works? Predestination? The list is endless.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
I'm sorry to say that I don't follow your last comment. Could you restate it in a different way please?

RichD said...

OK Lee, I'll try to be more clear.
I took your last comment and tried to respond to what seemed to be drected at me.
So as for scribes changing scripture, I can't say the evidence is clear of changes. But there appears to be evidence that chaanges were made. So if that is true you seem to suggest that God didn't take good enough care of his book. That is why I mentioned free will, which I don't intend to get sidetracked on, but not stopping someone from making changes is consistant with us being free to make choices.
As for the rest of my rambling, I am saying that if one book, bible, is not clear enough to get everyone on the same page, with regards to doctrine, then we should expect more.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Rich,
thanks, I didn't want to respond without being confident I understood what you were saying.

- But there appears to be evidence that changes were made. So if that is true you seem to suggest that God didn't take good enough care of his book.
As usual it depends on what one considers evidence, but Scribal errors/changes for whatever reason explain a lot of peculiarities in the bible. And yes, If God is what he is supposed to be, there are plenty of ways that humans took advantage of to ensure their words were preserved over the same period of time that God "chose" not to use. Which either shows that god had no part of it or he chose an irrational method of preserving his word which must be considered the reason that christianity is only about 33% after 2000 years while mathematics is practically ubiquitous.

- That is why I mentioned free will, which I don't intend to get sidetracked on, but not stopping someone from making changes is consistant with us being free to make choices.
I don't want to get side tracked on it either, but I will say that you have exposed the biggest problem with "religious version of freewill" which is the problem of "free will intrusion" where the free will of one person overlaps into and intrudes on the free will of another. The scribes free will to manipulate the text intrudes on my free will of wanting to believe in a god. As you can see, my biggest obstacle to belief is that I am convinced on some very solid rational grounds that the old testament is hebrew folklore and (in an oversimplified manner of speaking) pagans hijacked it to create christianity.

- I am saying that if one book, bible, is not clear enough to get everyone on the same page, with regards to doctrine, then we should expect more.
presuming all your premises are correct, but I stop at the first one. That god in his infinite wisdom could have chosen the method that humans chose to preserve ancient science and mathematics but didn't. In the case of science and math, the original idea is there, can be verified, and repeated, and *IMPROVED* on, whereas in the case of scripture, we needed another revelation to Joseph Smith to straighten things out.
;-)

have you given any thought to my assertion some months ago that the "founder effect" that the early mormon church experienced leading to high incidence of mental retardation, encephalopathy, unusual facial features, brain malformation and epileptic seizures caused by unusually low amounts of fumarase in their cells showed a "lack of insight" that you wouldn't expect from a God?

I thought you'd tear me up on that one, but you didn't make any comments.

RichD said...

Hi Lee,

As usual it depends on what one considers evidence

Yes it does and is why I won't claim I have irrefutible evidence, especially because it is the research of someone else.

Which either shows that god had no part of it or he chose an irrational method of preserving his word

I Believe he had no part of it.

I don't want to get side tracked on it either, but I will say that you have exposed the biggest problem with "religious version of freewill" which is the problem of "free will intrusion" where the free will of one person overlaps into and intrudes on the free will of another.

We should learn that we can hurt other people as a result of our choices. Even if you think something won't hurt anyone but yourself, that is rarely, if ever, true.

As you can see, my biggest obstacle to belief is that I am convinced on some very solid rational grounds that the old testament is hebrew folklore and (in an oversimplified manner of speaking) pagans hijacked it to create christianity.

You may be closer to the truth than you realize. This is the message that Joseph Smith claims to have received from God, that none of the churches was the correct church, and that he should join none of them. That can make you as unpopular as an athiest in religious circles. In fact if Bob is still reading, he probably just jerked his knee into his computer desk, sorry Bob.

That god in his infinite wisdom could have chosen the method that humans chose to preserve ancient science and mathematics but didn't.

He could have for sure, but expecting God to do what you think he SHOULD do is where we always get into trouble. In this article you are showing the importance of more than one source of information to verify truth. If this is such a great method to verify truth, why should we expect that a God would do less than a human? If we could have more books talking about mans dealings with God, instead of one bible, wouldn't that be a better method for God to use to clarify his word? This is the claim of the BofM, by the way, not to replace the bible as the authoritative word of God, but to be another testimony of the gospel taught inthe bible. We, as Mormons, also expect that there are more scriptures yet to be found.

have you given any thought to my assertion some months ago that the "founder effect" that the early mormon church experienced leading to high incidence of mental retardation, encephalopathy, unusual facial features, brain malformation and epileptic seizures caused by unusually low amounts of fumarase in their cells showed a "lack of insight" that you wouldn't expect from a God?

Yes I did. That was a considerable amount of good reading.

I thought you'd tear me up on that one, but you didn't make any comments.

I didn't comment for 2 reasons. One was that there were a couple of other topics at the time that were taking up my spare time. The other was that these are actually no the same sect that I belong to. This is a break-off church formed after J Smith. While we share poligamy, they continue to be poligamist and we don't. And that wouldn't be to insightful from a God, to answer your question.

BobCMU76 said...

Rich... Ol' Joe might have been told by Moroni not to align with any sect then current, but I think he arrived at that conclusion before he even knew of Moroni.

But then, I don't believe any of that was more than a fabrication. You have answered my original question, though... and my general assertion that fabrications tend to be more "reliable" data than observations, at least from a consumer's standpoint.

An old joke I recall from pre-PC days told of battlefield command and control. In the aftermath, the computer people complained that the data overwhelmed the system. The data people complained that data come faster than could be fed to the system. The battlefield commanders noted that they paid little heed to the system, anyhow. It was funny and insightful when it was told to me. I'm not so good at repeating jokes.

I think there was something in there, too, about making it all up. Anyhow....

It is my confirmed belief that integrity is more likely evidence of fabrication than of investigation. I'd probably be an annoying juror with this point of view, but I've never been called for jury duty.

I like that we all see things differently and incompletely, as through a glass, darkly. But why fight over our differences rather than share our perspectives? Paul wrote of similar concerns to the Corinthians. I think our compulsion to see clearly makes us imagine that we do, feed upon manipulative assurances that we might, and greet with hostility any evidence that we don't. That applies to cultists and atheists equally, I think.

Especially when we are told that our salvation depends upon our understanding. And athiests are pretty strong on that point, condemning others as stupid or misinfomed or ignornant. It's more blessed to be fully informed, and more easily to pretend that is so with social validation of a cult grouping, like this blog -- thought the blog does give admission to those skeptical of the claims of atheism. That's one point in its favor.

Truth is messy. Lee seems to be especially concerned with tidiness. And that will forever separate him from the Truth.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
even though it seems that we are in agreement that the bible is not enough to know all this required about God, and I should ask you to show me how Mormon scripture passes scrutiny using IDQ Principles of Reasearch, Debunking Mormonism follows from Debunking Christianity, so I want to explore something more fundamental with you instead.

He could have for sure, but expecting God to do what you think he SHOULD do is where we always get into trouble.
I could write a whole article on this claim but I'll just take it in little easy pieces.
Please help me understand your position.
Please show me where I am wrong, and, if you don't mind, fill in the blank of the conclusion.

- You know that in this case I am endorsing rational principles.
- You know that in this case that I think god has violated these rational principles
- You know that I think God should have followed these rational principles
- You know that God could have followed the rational principles if he had chosen to
->Therefore God is justified in not following these rational principles because __________________________.

I think you would fill in the blank with something like
"to follow the rational principle would interfere with the free will of anyone that would corrupt it intentionally or not".

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob!
(everybody drink)

And athiests are pretty strong on that point, condemning others as stupid or misinfomed or ignornant.
You know that is not true of all atheists. You are talking to one now. And condemn is really an exaggeration don't you think? I think that some theists are stuck in a rational process that they haven't found any reason to question, in addition to the theists that are stupid, misinformed and ignorant. ;-)
I whole heartedly think that once a theist gets a doctorate in philosophy or theology, he should know better and at that point is intellectually dishonest for the sake of "emotional honesty". In other words doing what they feel is right rather than what they would logically conclude is right.

For example you conclude that mormonism is false, I'm sure, for some of the same reasons that I think christianity is false. Yet I bet you won't turn that rational framework loose on your beloved christianity.


though the blog does give admission to those skeptical of the claims of atheism. That's one point in its favor.
Thanks for the complement.

Truth is messy. Lee seems to be especially concerned with tidiness. And that will forever separate him from the Truth.
In what way is "truth messy"? For the most part, truth is conditional, and I challenge you to show how it isn't. Truth is derived from definitions and context. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. If i say the sky is blue, it is entirely conditional. I'm sure you can think of some conditions where the sky is not blue, including the perspective of someone color blind or having a different word to describe that particular arrangement of light.
I, like everyone else I presume, solve problems based on inferences I make on the data and probability all day long everyday ever since I have been alive. I make a good living solving problems that other people find insurmountable, and I reduce the amount of suffering in the world by doing it, of which I am excited about.

I apply rational principles across domains to do it. I find the truth, for myself and for other people which reduces the amount of suffering in the world.

Therefore, you should rethink that, because the data converges in a different direction.

BobCMU76 said...

Lee. I've made several false starts on blogging, and I really don't feel so cut out for it. I see you've made stabs at quite a few, as well. I'm curious about your coinage of "casuallogical."

I've always wondered what salvation really means in a Christian context. The general question is if there is a Christian reality behind the incessant modelling of the nature of things unseen, and unverifiable. Utility is validity... Einstein might even say so.

Utility at what? -- getting saved? And how do I know it works? Does Ol' Jacob Marley come rattling his chains, and tell me he led me on the wrong path, but I still have an opportunity to change my own?

I've got a less profound vision of salvation than one of eternal paradise. One I can sense and savor. And that "salvation" is letting go of Hamlet's worry "To sleep, perchance to dream." I think that's an element of what atheism promotes as salvation... freedom from opression by those who suggest divine retribution will follow my defiance of their authority.

I think you and I both wish to believe this. But is it a correct belief? Is it Truth?

Perhaps what separates us is that I believe that Truth is external to man. We model. We analyse, we validate. But we don't KNOW.

Let me take for example, Pi... We can know with absolute precision the 34,795,217,083rd digit of Pi, should we be inclined to discover it, and any other, up to our capacity to calculate before our finity fails us. But is Pi a part of nature ... a part of creation? Or is it an invention of reason?

Granted. Pi, prime numbers, and natural logariths are universals, not parochial constructs. Xonor on the planet Gamalgi in the Horus system of the Drypnoz galaxy can tell you the 37,603,824th prime cardinal number and his Pi would correspond exactly to our Pi into the infantesimal. He may not employ base 10, likely wouldn't... Base 10 is parochial. But the correspondence would be known with analysis.

That's a power correspondence, and one in which Carl Sagan placed great religious significance. Elements of mathematical reason, being universal, are necessarily divine. I guess Pythagorus was of such mind.

Why do I reject such a compelling window into the Divine? Especially in favor of some scantily and inconsistantly reported, possibly fabricated historical event which, at the time it happened, did not posess the significance to its contemporaries as given it by later generations?

Jesus rose from the dead!

I'll have to attribute my anti-rational choice to a Christian prejudice... that "salvation" is not apotheosis (and we like the pretence of apotheosis when we use our faculties, which aren't to abhored, but simply not be revered), but salvation was achieved by the voluntary humiliation of the creator, and is known to us through gestalt, neither deducible or reducible.

Yes... that is circular reasoning -- my own perversion of VanTil and a bit hypocritcal in being semi-rational, though no doubt poorly reasoned. But that is what takes place between humans... we appeal to shared constructs to make ourselves heard. But can we ever make ourselves known? Solopsism is fun, no?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
Jesus rose from the dead!
you might want to look into that a little deeper for a few reasons.
- principles and criteria of witness testimony
- principles and criteria of evidence
- principles and criteria of Information and Data Quality
- All previous instances or resurrection are dismissed as being mythic by christians, therefore the precedent is against resurrection, so it is more likely that the resurrection was something else such as the following
- As the Koran says, that jesus actually survived which is consistent with a six hour crucifixion (look into the details of crucifixion and compare it to the story)
- or the body was stolen as mentioned in one of the gospels which was the reason to post the guards at the tomb.

As I like to say,
"the devil is in the details and that is where you will find your solution"

those other blogs you mentioned are compliments to this one. I am working on a complex argument here and I plan to distribute its pieces on their own blogs utilizing the principle of data integrity "off site storage" and the economic principle of "diversity".

the term "casuallogically" is a word I made up to catch the atmosphere of a casual place to go and discuss topics related to informal logic to include argumentation, data analysis, formal logic, etc. I started it before I got involved with DC and its one of two blogs I had going.

Casuallogically was the non-criticism-of-religion blog to complement the other one which was a criticism-of-religion blog. I dumped my original criticism-of-religion site shortly after I joined DC.

I like to learn, and the best way to learn something is to write it out in your own words. That was the fundamental purpose of my first two blogs. If you want to see whats cooking on the back burner and more than likely what I'm going to be writing about in the future,
Casuallogically thinking up ideas or CTUI as I call it is where i email ideas that I don't want to lose.

those ideas usually start in my head, go to a 3x5 index card I carry around in my back pocket with a miniature pen, and then when i email them to CTUI I cross them off the 3x5 card. Writing my ideas down is a habit I started early in my career because i realized that when i had an idea it usually would complement another one and sometimes I couldn't remember them to string them together. Thats not a problem anymore.

I used to use little notebooks but they would fall apart quickly. But I switched to 3x5 cards when I discovered, to my surprise, that this technique turned up in book I read over the summer called the "Mind Performance Hacks". The author uses 3x5 cards. 3x5 cards are much better. Just fold them in half, label the outsides with what category they are and stick them in the back pocket. I call them my "butt-brain". A few habits I have turned up in that book.

BobCMU76 said...

Butt brain, cool. I keep mine in my pants, too.

A weird trajectory toward my present state as an agnostic Christian. Along the way I read Josh McDowell's books and found them not only unpersuasive, but the weakness of the arguments and transparency of the agenda persuaded me to believe in the myth/hoax premise McDowell was so weakly trying to debunk.

For a long time, my religious yearnings attached themselves to a book called "The First Coming" by Sheehan. I guess that's still my guide, though it's been over 20 years since I've read it. He says history ends with the empty tomb and that mythology began with later "appearances" by Jesus.

One big problem with witness accounts is Paul, who saw Jesus, admittedly, in a vision, compares his witness to all those reported in the 40 days prior to rising into the clouds.

It's more the Patristic and the non-canonical writings of the second century that have me believing the resurrection was real. But one can go to Mars Hill in Acts 15. It's a silly claim to make, and easily scoffed at. But you had a dozen or more groups fighting each other over what it meant. I don't see the boat so much as the wake.

Saying "Jesus is God" and the whole Trinitarian baggage attached is, admittedly, a further departure from Sheehan, and one I'm hard pressed to defend, especially in light of all the "Historical Jesus" studies that show "Jesus is God" is more a deduction than a declaration.

Could Jesus be "made, not begotten" (reversing the Nicene creed)? Could Jesus be some Western Buddha, having possibly lived and died in the Himalayas (I'm sure you're aware of that new age premise)?

I've just come around to agree with Orthodoxy on that point, though Orthodoxy came to be that by triumph more than by persuasion. I can't say it's a grudging agreement. I think of it more in terms of the humiliation of God than the exaltation of Jesus. But that's more a feel-good belief than one I'm willing to argue. Certainly Jesus did not walk around telling people "I'm YHWH, paying you folks a visit," though the Gospel of John puts words to that effect into His mouth.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
its not clear to me why you think the information you've gotten about Jesus is accurate.

BobCMU76 said...

Well, Lee.

If I'm in a bar, and hear a conversation about a ref's badd call in a ballgame, I don't have to have seen the game to know there was one, that there was a controversy, and that there was an outcome. All the fuss about how there ought have been a different outcome, notwithstanding. In fact, that adds to the veracity.

Do you know that 20 million people were at Woodstock? Or that 500,000 were in attendance at the final game of the 1969 World Series?

There very willingness to lie and craft anecdote about ones own participation in an event is evidence of the event. It's not evidence of what actually transpired, but it is that something did. Something important enough to get crowds of people clamoring to pretend a role in it.

That's indirect evidence, and does not meet standards of accuracy... it would seem by those standards, the more we care about something, the less we can know with certainty of it.

But, I know Jesus lived, taught, died (actually died), and rose from the dead and then made himself scarce. I know because folks fought and continue to fight over what actually happened and what it all means. I'm not so sure who and what to believe about what actually happened, and I'm not sure anyone is capable of telling me what it all means, nor am I able to do much more than join in the speculation.

"Jesus is God" is part of the speculation, in my opinion. "Jesus rose from the dead" is history, as far as I'm concerned. More history than Weems' George Washington mythology, cherry tree and coin toss etc.

Do Weems' fantasies make George Washington fantastic?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
But, I know Jesus lived, taught, died (actually died), and rose from the dead and then made himself scarce. I know because folks fought and continue to fight over what actually happened and what it all means.
then you must believe that mohammad was the prophet of allah because terrorists that happen to be muslim are waging war against infidels like me and you.

I'm sorry bob but I don't follow how fighting about something makes it true. Can you elaborate please?

BobCMU76 said...

Well, Lee. Mohammad published a book in the 7th century... or was it the 6th? That's whats being fought over. Was Mohammad taking dictation or making it all up. Joe Smith published a book in the 19th century. Both left their wake.

The wake of Christianity suggests something happened.

Both books, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are still with us. So is the empty tomb. Exacty what happened and what does it all mean?

What can't be said it "nothing happened".

Lee Randolph said...

Well bob,
to say something happened is far cry from saying you know what it was. No body, and empty tomb is consistent with the body being stolen or "getting the hell out of dodge". There are plenty of more plausible and less fantastic explanations.

BobCMU76 said...

Lee, you are on the side of a misunderstanding or a hoax. I'm on the side of a resurrected savior. So be it.

Like I've said at least twice already in this discussion, I believe in a risen savior because it is incredible. It was incredible then, and they still kept saying it.

The next easiest thing for me to believe is the "First Coming" suggestion that Jesus somehow left the picture, but something about him made people want desperately to hold on.

And the third easiest thing for me to believe is that Paul made up this system of belief independent of any person or event in history, and it somehow got attached to legendary accounts of possibly several Jesi.

But the last two are modern speculations. I go with the crazy claims that people took to their death.

Lee Randolph said...

But why is it that you only believe the CHRISTIAN crazy claims that CHRISTIANS took to thier deaths?
They aren't unique you know. Religious people had been doing that long before christianity came on the scene. Its like a general type of human behavior associated with the general category of human ideology called religion.

You act as if christianity is completely uniuqe, but i demonstrated above how the soul arose out of pagan greece and earlier in the year I wrote some article showing how the old testament shares many characteristics with Hindu, sumerian and egyptian religions. Christianity is and has been argued that it is the hellenization of near eastern mythology. In fact if you look into it, you will see a correlation with the beginninog of the greek dark ages and the origin of moses and abraham. The greeks "got the hell out of dodge" between 1700 and 1200 bc because they were getting beat up and running out of resources. the dispersed throughout the mediterranean, and one of the good places to go besides alexandria or egypt in general would have been the fertile crescent, or lebanon which was famous for its cedar trees and had a robust trade for them with egypt and where they would face less resistance.

Its easier for you to believe something unlikely than something is more likely and which follows rational principles and precedent?

Do you know the history of the mediterranean? If so,
you sound irrational to me. If not you might want to rethink your position.

I asked rich what justification god has for not following rational principles, not just what justification does god have for not doing what lee wants him to do. I know why he doesn't make me the king of the world, but I don't know why he doesn't follow rational principles.

Maybe you can answer that.

I think I know why but I want to see what you have to say about it.

BobCMU76 said...

Plenty of religious tenets are widely shared. I've been reading a bit about Persia lately, just incidental to other interests, but a good book recently about the Magi. So I'm learning a few specifics with respect to the reported Zoroastrian influence on second temple Judaism. One thing I think happened is that Judaism between the Egyptian (patriarchal)and the Babylonian periods rejected the death cult, but it was reintroduced with the exile.

If I could choose religion, I'd choose one without an afterlife and death cult. But then, who would want to run a religion that can't sell indulgences in the afterlife, in whatever form they take? There's no money in it.

Seriously, though... I don't think Christianity survives disbelief in an afterlife. "Ressurection from the dead" is the essence of the message. And I don't like to think about that, or immortal soul, or such. That may all be part of it. So be it. I'd like to die when I die, but I have to accept the fact that this won't be, but living forever won't be so bad as I anticipate.

As for the Iron Age Mediterenian, I've the vaguest of awareness... enough to know that when we sneer at "Philistines," as backward incurious people, we've got it all backward. I've read different speculations about the Classical pantheon as it appears in pre-Classical times. And a share about the Mesopotamian fertility cults.

And the main thing I get from all that is a sense of a predatory priesthood, exploiting peoples concerns about unpredictable events. And aware of some enlightenment from Tao, and Buddha and perhaps the Athens of Pericles, not to mention Hebrew enlightenment.

I've not met within any of these, admittedly shallow and incidental exposures to other traditions, anything that draws my attention -- and your attention -- as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Certainly not claims the Mohammad and Joseph Smith took dictation. Certainly not claims like Artemis popping out of Zeus' skull fully formed, or various legends of the Hindu pantheon. Maybe you can suggest another religion which tells me "Don't worry, and don't let worry place you in thrall to people who pretend to have a special connection with the Divine." Christianity tells me that.

I do believe that the Way that can be spoken of is not the true Way. I really ought read Tao Te Ching. I've really only ever read Tao of Pooh. But it is enough to reinforce my bias toward a-rational apprehension of the Divine. I don't expect to meet God through rational principles. Other people seem to expect to meet him only through that means, but atheists are quick to point out how disappointing such expectations can be.

Lee Randolph said...

So God is irrational? Or to understand him is necessarily irrational? If that is the case then I am right to assert that humans are not responsible for their non-belief, because belief in god goes exactly against the way we are composed and how our experiences play out day to day.

Does it follow that if god wants to communicate with us and get us to trust him that he would base it in an irrational method?

If so, that method is unique to God because it doesn't work anywhere else and that puts it in the category of a special pleading fallacy.

or are you content to reason ad hoc that since that is the way it seems to be, that must be the way it is intended?

If you think about it and reverse engineer the christian theology about jesus
- it came from Paul, not Jesus.
- pauls argument depends on Jesus being God, but jesus never explicity said that. In fact it was bitterly disputed up until it was MANDATED in 325 by a council endorsed by the emperor of the regions super power (rome).
- pauls arugment depends on Jesus crucifixion to be a human sacrifice in the model of the passover lamb.
- pauls argument depends on Adam being a real person and not a metaphor, which has a mountain of disconfirming evidence refuting it.
- pauls argument depends on the existence of the soul, of which I pointed out can be found earlier than the hebrews,on both sides of them, in ancient greece and in the indus valley both of which were derived before the hebrew version and more importantly has no basis in fact (if there is, please point it out).
- pauls argument has a lot of aspects of it that resemble pagan religions in the area. Models are handy things to use in engineering whether its a building or a theoretical solution to a problem.

you want to talk about likely scenarios? christian theology is not it and not only because of its mythic qualities.

It smacks of syncretism and political agendas, which follows precedent and principle therefore makes it very likely to be syncretism and political agenda unless you have some compelling reasons why christianity is unique among the other religions that are derived from syncretism and political agenda.

Another thing to consider is afterlife depends on the soul. That is something we can test for isn't it? How is the soul "attached" to the body? Where is the point of intersection? descartes thought it was the pineal gland in the brain, but he was wrong. It was really only only a "WAG" (wild ass guess). You do know that the field of cognitive science has good results changing peoples behavior by modifying thier brains with chemicals and talk therapy that has nothing to do with religion. Is the soul impervious to biological, chemical, physical and electrical manipulation?

Presuming the soul to be correlated to awareness and cognition, it is highly likely that awareness and consciousness is derived from the biology of the brain since awareness and consciousness can be degraded in proportion to degradation of the brain.

As I said, once you start cross-checking the claims in the bible, they just aren't supported by facts, only wishful thinking.

BobCMU76 said...

Lee... you really let loose on this one. Sorry to have let an answer slide so long, though I've answered most of this already.

So God is irrational? A-rational.

Or to understand him is necessarily irrational? Tao says so -- not so much irrational are inarticulate... But Jesus answers too, when he says that all the rational faculty which the Hebrew aristocracy boasts of have not brought them where they need to be. Something else brings one there And that something else the subjective sense that Jesus appealed to in His parables, among other things.

If that is the case then I am right to assert that humans are not responsible for their non-belief, because belief in god goes exactly against the way we are composed and how our experiences play out day to day.

Once, the big question was "What separates man from the beasts?"... These days, one also asks "What separates man from the computer, and especially what difference remains when AI is in full flower?" Another Star Trek:TNG issue. I don't for a second believe that humanity is primarily rational. And I've said before, I don't think "salvation" (however defined) lies through increasing alignment with our rational selves, though much benefit does derive. As for personal responsibility, I see you obsess on that, in your blog, when discussing "soul" as the executive persona.

Does it follow that if god wants to communicate with us and get us to trust him that he would base it in an irrational method? There are various theories, with evidence all over the map, of what constitutes "Genius," which I define as the capacity for innovative expression. But generally, capacity for innovation and for analysis reside in different individuals, no man being an island. If, as Salieri put it in Amadeus, genius is a conduit to God, the source of all that is innovative, then that conduit carries something other than propositional logic. God doesn't want to communicate exclusively to "Scribes and Pharisees" but to the denizens of public houses (pubs, run by publicans).

If so, that method is unique to God because it doesn't work anywhere else and that puts it in the category of a special pleading fallacy. Your academical chauvanism has you so waaaay off-track.

or are you content to reason ad hoc that since that is the way it seems to be, that must be the way it is intended? I like when biologists do that about species specialization, though I know it's more sloppy language than attribution of an intent to form this or that adaptation.

If you think about it and reverse engineer the christian theology about jesus
- it came from Paul, not Jesus. I gave that as Option #3
- pauls argument depends on Jesus being God, but jesus never explicity said that. In fact it was bitterly disputed up until it was MANDATED in 325 by a council endorsed by the emperor of the regions super power (rome). Have I not twice already admitted the same?
- pauls arugment depends on Jesus crucifixion to be a human sacrifice in the model of the passover lamb.I for one am agnostic on the subject of substitutionary atonement though that seems one of the Fundamentals of Fundamentalism. Paul didn't necessarily teach that.
- pauls argument depends on Adam being a real person and not a metaphor, which has a mountain of disconfirming evidence refuting it. I'm not persuaded, in choice #3 that a metaphorical Jesus wasn't sufficent for Paul's pet theory. But a metaphorical Adam does not invalidate Paul's argument
- pauls argument depends on the existence of the soul, of which I pointed out can be found earlier than the hebrews,on both sides of them, in ancient greece and in the indus valley both of which were derived before the hebrew version and more importantly has no basis in fact (if there is, please point it out).There are many times the sacred people of God received instruction from outside the community and attributed that instruction to God. I don't believe lack of uniqueness is evidence against validity. Quite the contrary, I'd expect
- pauls argument has a lot of aspects of it that resemble pagan religions in the area.ditto
Models are handy things to use in engineering whether its a building or a theoretical solution to a problem.agreed... so?

you want to talk about likely scenarios? christian theology is not it and not only because of its mythic qualities.

It smacks of syncretism and political agendas, which follows precedent and principle therefore makes it very likely to be syncretism and political agenda unless you have some compelling reasons why christianity is unique among the other religions that are derived from syncretism and political agenda.


I stand by my assertion that the humiliation of God is a claim unique to Christianity. If cultural and political influence taint what we know of the specifics, I believe they don't obscure then

Another thing to consider is afterlife depends on the soul. That is something we can test for isn't it? How is the soul "attached" to the body? Where is the point of intersection? descartes thought it was the pineal gland in the brain, but he was wrong. It was really only only a "WAG" (wild ass guess). You do know that the field of cognitive science has good results changing peoples behavior by modifying thier brains with chemicals and talk therapy that has nothing to do with religion. Is the soul impervious to biological, chemical, physical and electrical manipulation?

Like I said, I don't think too often of the soul and especially the "immortal soul". It's certainly not a uniquely Christian teaching. I associate it more with Deepak Chopra and new age bull stool. I understand most conceptions of it as an immaterial "Ghost in the machine". And certainly philosophy, secular and non-Christian theist as well, has wrestled with mind/body and other problems of whether "Self" is part of the brain, something separate that resides there, or something that resides beyond there, with the brain and body but a nexus of some grand entity.... shared consciousness. Ah, to be Jung again.

Presuming the soul to be correlated to awareness and cognition, it is highly likely that awareness and consciousness is derived from the biology of the brain since awareness and consciousness can be degraded in proportion to degradation of the brain. We can presume lots of things. I don't find the topic all that engaging, though I do tend to glance past the headlines when the topic comes up in web digests I peek at from time to time.

As I said, once you start cross-checking the claims in the bible, they just aren't supported by facts, only wishful thinking. Yes, you have said that. I've not entirely disagreed, but Jesus did rise from the dead. And the subsequent conclusion that Jesus was, Himself, God is compelling and liberating, but less evident than the ressurection.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussion but I'm afraid I am going to have to agree to disagree with you and move on to my next article which I am formatting for publishing.

If rich responds I'll carry on with him for a few rounds but other than that, I'm off!

I hope you'll stick around.

BobCMU76 said...

Thank you, Lee. It's been a pleasure. I look forward to reading your next article, and maybe further discussion with Rich on this one.

I think it was rich that introduced the Good Samaritan into the discussion. The capacity of the metaphorical Samaritan for graciousness is a huge issue for me, though connecting apparent altruism to min-max game strategy (not an assertion of yours unique to this forum) escapes me.

As I said, and as it taught, at least at the Freshman level, MinMax is chosing the option with be best worst outcome... expecting the worst that could happen for each possible choice, you minimize the loss. But that implies the "opponent" posesses free-will and a desire to maximize his own payout.

By evoking min-max with a karma situation, you make implication that I think you would regret. You're well advised to model personal ethics by some other means. There are plenty with non-theistic foundations. But I warn you....

Economists are the most well trained in formal optimization methodologies, and various tests have found them, among professional groups, the least ethical.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bob,
my next article is going to be an overview of IDQ principles so that I can iteratively apply them to biblical examples over the next few weeks. I plan on there being at least three more articles centering on IDQ after the overview.

Maybe we can take this up there.

after my IDQ articles, I'm going back to my "adam bombing" until I get them all written and published, unless (as in this case) I find a substantial challenge to a premise which needs more support.

This all started with my game theory article in which i asserted "god chose the worst outcome" and then had I weak support for why I think the bible can't be considered a trustworthy or authoritative source.

my claim is that god apparently chose the worst outcome because, in reality, it wasn't god that chose it for himself, It was the author of scripture, who was working with a bronze age intellect.

BobCMU76 said...

That was the last word -- yours, but allow me the last quip...

Perhaps God chose the best worst outcome. And if he's playing games (in a formal, John Nash sense), that has implications you might evade.

Lee Randolph said...

bob....
I just noticed that your picture resembles a caricature of mine....except it has more hair.....

RichD said...

Lee,
I will give a response today if I can because you still have questions that are fair of me to answer. I had to play plumber for a day or two and I found that Walmart does not carry anything useful for emergency leak stopping needs. ;) So hopefully later today I will be able to respond.

RichD said...

Hi Lee,
My last try was eaten by IE, so I try again. I had to re-read the post and comments to get back on target so I could better answer you. I hope I remeber what I said before, Sheesh.

You know that in this case I am endorsing rational principles.

Yes, I know this.

You know that in this case that I think god has violated these rational principles

I also know this is your claim, I have shown how I think it was humans that violated those principles and not God, which is what I think got us to this point.

You know that I think God should have followed these rational principles

Again, Yes

You know that God could have followed the rational principles if he had chosen to

I think we are coming to a point of where to lay the blame for the problems that are present in the bible, which is said to be the ultimate authority of Gods "word" to us. You are saying that God could have/should hve done a better job of communicating with us. Part of you post discusses the
different demensions associated with IDQ. The data custodians to me would be the scribes, or those intrusted with keeping the records that became the bible. So if the custodians considered accuracy their number one priority, then we should expect no change from the revealed word of God to the bible we have right now, Correct? But if there were other factors in assembling, translating, ect, the information into the bible what should we expect? If the bible was put together by a council, like has been suggested, then it looks like we have a consesus of those present as to what was to be the "word" of God. And did they intend it to be the end all be all of scripture and the only and ultimate authoratative book? Andf if they did, was that their(the council) decision or Gods?

Therefore God is justified in not following these rational principles because

I think your answer you expected from me was close> I think God was not involved in what became the bible. So its like I said at the beginning, I hold importance on the bible and it has worth to me for learning the saving principles of the gospel. If cross checking is such an important principle, and it helps unmuddy the waters of data, then I think I can reasonably expect that God, being who he is suppose to be, would employ such a principle.
I also think that God would be consistant with his methods of communication to us. In the OT, he spoke to prophets who then relayed the info to us. In the NT Christ was here and didn't need to relay his gospel through a prophet. So now all of a sudden we don't need this help anymore. We are enlightened enough that all we need is a book of scripture and we'll all be OK? He said his peace and now its crunch time. I hope you choose wisely, it's only you eternity your messing with.
The LDS church takes heat from christianity about our teaching of the great apostasy. This is a time when many of the truths of the gospel were changed or omitted. I think that the many problems that christianity have today are a result of the apostasy. If you are intersted in reading more about that particular belief I could send some links your way.
I guess at this point it's up to yoiu whether we move on into the next post or continue here. I will check to see if you need something more answered or something clarified.
As always its been a pleasure discussing this with you and Bob.

BobCMU76 said...

I just listened to Bart Ehrman's opening statment in a debate with Mike Licona

The whole debate is said to be available HERE, but I've not checked that out.

Ehrman, who describes himself as an agnostic ex-Christian, and is a renowned scholar of early Christian texts, treats many of the issues that Lee brings up, and concludes that the implausibility of Resurrection places it outside what history can demonstrate or affirm.

Lee, I'm not putting this here because I agree, but because you might. In fact, I'd place Dr Ehrman as among those whose study of the wake left by claims of a resurrection place him among those who could validate my thesis that following the wake leads to confidence in the precipitating event. He obviously, with far more information at his disposal, does not see the merit of my view, though I might hold out hope that, if explicity presented to him, he might just come around.

He is, by the way, the author of a book I've been reading lately "Misquoting Jesus," which I think you would enjoy.

I don't have anything at the moment to offer in refuting him or in insisting to you that the Bible need not be something other than what it is, and I'm confident that it pretty much is what you'll make it out to be.

It seems both extremes, fundamentalism and militant atheism, insist the Bible be what it's not. Fundies say, Who sez it ain't? And MAs say, it sure ain't, ergo God ain't.

Though MAs have plenty more ergo's at their disposal. A veritable ergoplex. And for right now, I'll fill your quivver rather than draw my bow, but I'll let fly when targets of opportunity appear, have no doubt.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi bob,
I've listened many podcasts and a couple of lecture courses from the teaching company by Ehrman.

He supports what I suspected the first time I read the biblr and still maintained my faith though I thought there was no way it came from the god I knew and loved. To be consistent though, I didn't start "cross-checking" the bible until I heard the islamic militants saying the god answered their prayers and then I thought they had a good case, so I sought to undermine it, and came to the logical conclusion that god had nothing to do with either side, ergo I was left standing alone with no Jesus in my head.

and this term "militant atheist" is such loaded language. Go look up what "militant" really means and maybe you'll agree what a ridiculous label it is. I can say that any christian carrying out the great commission is militant.

It should be reserved for those that seek to harm.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
I'm writing a response now which will answer you here and invite you to carry it over to my latest article, which is an elaboration on this one.

I'm sorry about your plumbing problems. I look forward to talking with you, and, for the most part, I'll wait as long as you need. I think its only fair.

BobCMU76 said...

I agree, "militant" is a loaded word. Maybe "passionate" is a better word. Somebody who cares enough to be out there debunking and, even better, supporting institutions and systematic belief structures to compete with what religion provides.

But when I think of that latter response, I think -- No, maybe "militant" is the right word, when the interest in entirely destructive and lacking a constructive impulse. Of course, the destructive impulse is aimed at fallacies of thought, not person and property. And, in America especially, it's always open season on fallacies of thought, with no bag limit.

I should have known that you're long aware of things I might happen to stumble upon and think novel. That is quite common when I share my "discoveries" with others. Reading Misquoting Jesus, I had the impression that Ehrman was a fundamentalist turned liberal. Didn't sense him as an agnostic who has thoroughly explored the Christian heritage and found it wanting. Not until he explicitly said that in a Q&A following a talk on his latest book, on suffering.

I think perhaps he doesn't actively seek to challenge Christian identity in his books. It would likely hurt sales.

Sorry to go all tangential here at the tail end of the discussion. Anything new and substantive on the IDQ issue, I guess has a new home, should I wish to pay a visit.

RichD said...

I will head to the next post and will read your response here, unless you think it will start your new post hopin.

Thanks, about the plumbing. I know all the right words to use when I play plumber, it's just getting the right amount of crack to show, that's the challenge!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi rich,
I'll lay my case out here briefly instead of cutting and pasting your comments because it will address all your points, I'll let you have the last word here, and invite you to take it up in the follow on articles.

In summary here it is. I have been studying game theory, probability, mathematics (because its my weak spot), and IDQ. I had been exposed to much of this in my career but I have never really had any formal training in it other than to get my degree. Once I started applying it to my religion, I needed to find the right words so I "went back to school" so to speak.
now on to the argument.

The most likely explanation of what the bible is, is that its folklore and not the revealed word of God because if it was, then since god committed to revealing the word, and will hold us accountable, it is incumbent on him to ensure that it is coherent. This is not something that I pulled out of my hat, it is based in sound principle.

Here's the parameters of the problem.

- God revealed scripture to humans because he wanted us to know him.
- Lets presume that he wanted us all to understand it.
- Lets presume humans are incompetent.
- God must preserve free will so he can't interfere.
- God is omnipotent
- God is omniscient

It depends on Gods qualities of

- omnipotence and
- omniscience.

- Before he made the world God could see the future. He could see all outcomes.

- (background) "Gamblers ruin": that means that the house will always have the advantage and over time the gambler will always lose, its just a matter of time. Expected value is what you can expect to gain or lose in each iteration of the game. For example, in roulette, the expected payout gain on a gamblers dollar in favor of the house is 56cents. The gambler, over time will go broke. If the gambler gambles 10 times, she may never go broke. If she gambles 2000 times she may never go broke, if she gambles a million times she may never go broke, but there will be a time when she will go broke as long as she keeps gambling. It is more likely she will go broke sooner rather than later.

God is logically analogous to the house, but he has also set himself up as the gambler, so he plays both roles. In your situation, he took a chance by revealing his scripture to a person, and it gets degraded with each successive repetition. Gods expected value is like the roulette game, the expected payout is smaller for the gambler than for the house. Each time his scripture gets repeated it gets corrupted or misinterpreted.

But like we can run a computer program and see over a million times which roulette player will have the best outcome, God, because of his omniscience should be able to do this with us.

- (background) Pareto's principle. the 80-20 rule. This says more or less, that 80 percent of events are caused by 20 percent of the events.

- preserving free will, God should have picked the best outcome (gamblers ruin), identified the starting point with the right individual (pareto's principle, not violating freewill) and revealed scripture right there to ensure that it would get to us without any deficiencies.

- he should have not only revealed the "truth" he should have commanded how the data should be treated over time, how the quality of the data should be maintained (IDQ).

- I deny your premise that we are the problem with scripture, when it can be demonstrated that God chose the worst outcome, because we can see that he could have chosen the path that would have ensured the most longevity over time for the integrity of scripture, and

- he should have revealed principles of IDQ when he did it.

- These facts undermine his goal of revealing his truth to us and make his method and his goal trivial. Being the house and the gambler and not using his omniscience to pick the best outcome of millions or billions he shot himself and non-christians in the foot..

This is what I wanted to say with my "game theory" article but didn't have the right words. Game theory plays a role in this as well because as I showed with the matrix, god chose the worst outcome.

but in reality God is a character is bronze age folklore, and his choices were made for him by the authors of scripture. That is why he chose the worst outcomes.

Now I expect you'll come back and reiterate that "god doesn't do what we want him too", "he doesn't do what lee wants him too",
but my reply is that god doesn't do what he wants to do either. He doesn't do what is necessary according to rational principles to get his outcome up over 33% believers over 2000 years.

Analogously, mathematics developed in parallel with the various religions and it is accepted ubiquitously, but religion is not. All Christians accept the validity of math, but not all mathematicians accept the validity of Christianity. you can extrapolate that sentence to all kinds of categories of people.

By not revealing the principles of IDQ in the beginning with the rest of the the divine truth, God made a mistake, and the stats over 2000 years prove it.

And jesus is not a way out of this, because he validated the OT in his teachings, and mapped himself to it.

Jesus and Paul put their eggs in this basket proving lack of insight therfore lack of divinity.

and with that i close my participation in this thread and will move on to my other IDQ article and take up any rebuttals there.