Dr. James McGrath Responds to Jason Long, Ed Babinski and Me

I like his respectful tone so let me merely link to him. What d'ya think?

9 comments:

bpabbott said...

I have both Debunking Christianity and Exploring Our Matrix on Google Reader. I'd dare to say that of Christianity were domnated by the the likes of James McGrath, I doubt there wouldn't be a need for a Debunking Christianity blog ;-)

busterggi said...

Perhaps bp, but they'd still be carrying the theological seeds from which the crazies grow.

Beside, the poor fellow is already being called out as an infidel by the fundies.

Jason Long said...

While "deusdiapente," has already given a terrific response to Dr. McGrath for his criticism of my post, I have something to add here.

JAMES
Whenever you find yourself agreeing with a fundamentalist, it really ought to raise alarm bells.

JASON
Such as when they believe that donkeys talked and dead men came back to life? Alarm bells indeed! If we are simply going to hold the Bible to some sort of common sense litmus test when deciding what is literal, as the one asking this question seems to suggest, we must immediately rule out Jesus’ resurrection as a historical account. Why conclude that the fish swallowing Jonah is clearly figurative while a man returning to life after being dead for over a day is clearly literal? Since the vast majority of Christians will never make this concession, we should see an enormous problem with the suggested arbitrary approach. After all, moderate and liberal Christians, who are willing to accept scientific and logical conclusions, will attempt to shrug off the absurdities by claiming that the statements are merely figurative; fundamentalists Christians, who will not accept obvious scientific and logical conclusions, attempt to invent their own non-testable solutions. The best answer freethinkers can provide–that primitive minds spread fantastic stories in a time when humans understood virtually nothing in the universe–goes unheard by all religious parties.

JAMES
In this case, I'm willing to bet that Jefferson Reed does not accept the plain reading of Genesis 1 when it says that God places the sun, moon and stars in a solid dome that holds up the waters above.

JASON
I like James' point here. While liberal Christians deviate far from the plain reading of the Bible, fundamentalists only deviate where they absolutely must - and as I stated above, they justify their nudges the best that they can.

JAMES
Moreover, Paul the apostle clearly had updated his cosmology, since he mentions a journey to the "third heaven", which reflects the Ptolemaic view of multiple heavens around the Earth, and thus involves a departure from the cosmology of Genesis 1, in which all the celestial objects are placed in a single "firmament".

JASON
Except that it was always known that God did not reside in the firmament, and that there must have been multiple heavens, hence the plural Hebrew word from the OT shamayim, meaning "heavens."

JAMES
And so apparently even the apostle Paul did not accept the plain meaning of Genesis 1,

JASON
The plain reading of Genesis 1 is that there must be more than one heaven since God did not reside in the firmament. At best, there is no plain reading and one is free to interpret God's perfect word.

JAMES
and was (by Reed and Long's standard) an apostate from rather than an apostle of Christianity. This is one major problem with fundamentalism. Even the original Christians usually were not "really" Christians by their standards.

JASON
These tricks may work on James' audience, but it won't pass muster here. Apparently, my argument can be made to look dumb if the founder of Christianity is called an Apostate from Christianity. But it is clear that if Paul rejected a literal Genesis, he would have been and Apostate from traditional Judaism. It was a nice try though.

JAMES
But neither are they themselves, and if there is a major problem in a lot of current discussions about fundamentalism, it is that too many uncritically accept fundamentalists' claims to believe the whole Bible, and to consistently accept the plain meaning of the Bible where its plain meaning is not poetic or hyperbolic.

JASON
As above, fundamentalists accept the plain meaning when they can - and interpret only when the literal is not possible.

Steven Carr said...

How do fundamentalists intepret the plain meaning of Galatians 1:1?

'Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead...'

edson said...

The issue with liberal Christians is that they all seem to be infected with this pandering-to-atheists attitude. They seem to be ultra-conscious not to offend atheists. They will rather have a conservative Christian offended but not any one atheists. For instance, McGrath has no qualms about offending Christians with this "Jesus was wrong sometimes" albeit reworded it is. To say that is equivalent as to say Jesus could have sinned sometimes.

I'm aware that McGrath does not believe that. He just gave that too easily so that some atheists reading his blog could get a lovely, sweet feeling and be praised elsewhere as it is here.

Many Atheists lak humility and need be given this shock therapy treatement (of course a bit balanced and packed with Christian ideals so we do not sound abusive and trolls). Do Atheists expects me to return flowers and apples when they call Jesus "stupid" as was the case with Russ here?

Walter said...

The issue with liberal Christians is that they all seem to be infected with this pandering-to-atheists attitude. They seem to be ultra-conscious not to offend atheists. They will rather have a conservative Christian offended but not any one atheists. For instance, McGrath has no qualms about offending Christians with this "Jesus was wrong sometimes" albeit reworded it is. To say that is equivalent as to say Jesus could have sinned sometimes.

I'm aware that McGrath does not believe that. He just gave that too easily so that some atheists reading his blog could get a lovely, sweet feeling and be praised elsewhere as it is here.


I do not believe that Mcgrath is pandering to atheists. I believe that he is stating what he truly believes, including the part about Jesus being human and subject to error.

John W. Loftus said...

BTW, I agree with Dunn and McGrath that Jesus was wrong about the eschaton. I wrote a whole chapter on the subject for my new book The Christian Delusion.

If Jesus got something so important so dead wrong then he should be viewed as nothing more than one of many failed millenarian doomsday prophets, and they are a dime a dozen.

Cheers.

Brian_E said...

How much can you water down the whiskey and still claim to have whiskey instead of admitting you just have whiskey-flavored water?

Rob R said...

Why conclude that the fish swallowing Jonah is clearly figurative while a man returning to life after being dead for over a day is clearly literal?

While I see little reason to conclude that the story of Jonah is a mere parable or figurative, it is nevertheless the case that the theological meaning of the book of Jonah does not change if it is figurative. The theological meaning of the death and ressurection of Jesus is radically different if it is concrete or just abstract.

The death and ressurection of Jesus solves a problem as to how the early church arises from second temple Judaism. As far as I know, no major historical questions of comparable significance hinges on whether Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale or not.