Three Vignettes on Faith

Update, 7:32 PM I have revised portions of the second vignette in response to the first comment below.

Via Josh Rosenau I came across this post from Todd Wood. Wood is an unabashed young-Earth creationist. What makes him considerably more interesting than most YEC’s is that he sometimes writes things like this:

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well. (Bold face in original)

Richard Dawkins could not have said it better.

Wood goes on to explain:

Creationist students, listen to me very carefully: There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory. That doesn’t make it ultimately true, and it doesn’t mean that there could not possibly be viable alternatives. It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand God’s creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective. Evolution itself is not flawed or without evidence. Please don’t be duped into thinking that somehow evolution itself is a failure. Please don’t idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it. Maybe that’s not enough for your scoffing professor or your non-Christian friends, but it should be enough for you. (Italics in original)

Number me among the scoffers, though I do appreciate Wood’s clarity and forthrightness. He elaborates further in his present post:

Somehow, in our modern world, I think we’ve come to believe that the mysteries are all solved, that our position is literally the only one that makes sense. But how can this be? How can any of our theology “make sense?” Let’s just look at the most basic point of all: When Adam and Eve sinned, why didn’t God just wipe them out and start over again? Why curse the creation then become a part of it and suffer a humiliating death in order to fix it? How does that make any sense? It doesn’t. It is the foolishness of God, and it is wiser than any human wisdom. How do I know? I know by faith.

That’s not the attitude you’ll hear today among many Christian thinkers. They’ll tell you that we’re the only ones with any sensible position. What happened to God’s foolishness? What happened to the great mysteries of the faith? When did we figure them all out?

I greatly fear that our faith in Christ has been replaced with an idolatry of apologetics. I fear we’ve stopped believing in Christ and started believing in arguments about Christ (or the Bible or creation or what have you). I fear we’ve bowed to the world’s demand that we believe only that which is rational. We’re certainly no longer content with merely saying “I don’t know.” We have to have answers, and endless (and often pointless) argument has become our substitute for simply telling unbelievers what Christ has done for us.

And later:

By now some of my readers probably think I’ve gone way off the deep end. Fair enough. Let me leave you with another chilling possibility. What if we teach the next generation that there is no evidence for evolution? And what if we’re wrong? What do you think will happen when those kids find out? I think what will happen is the same thing that always happens. They’ll be disillusioned and fall away from the faith. I’ve heard of this happening, and I’ve seen it happen. People find out that all the antievolution arguments in the world won’t survive a semester of basic biology at a secular university. While we thought we were teaching them to believe in Christ, we instead taught them to idolize our arguments about Christ. And when those arguments are shown to be incomplete, inadequate, or just wrong, that idolatry (which we thought was real faith) slips away.

That’s why I want my students to know the truth about evolution. It’s not bogus. It’s not a failure. There’s lots of evidence in its favor. But that just doesn’t make it true. Have faith in the risen Christ, and it will not matter what scientists tell you (or anyone else, for that matter).

That last sentence is a bit chilling. After all, it should matter what scientists tell you, at least on scientific questions. Whatever. I would note that other creationists have expressed similar ideas, for example, Andrew Snelling at 2008’s International Conference on Creationism.

As it happens, I don’t think Wood has really identified anything especially mysterious about Christian theology. Adam and Eve sinned in Chapter Three of Genesis, and by Chapter Six God did indeed destroy (almost) everything. And cursing the creation does not mean abandoning it completely.

Leaving that aside, I feel compelled to say a few words in defense of creationists. The general view that Wood is defending, that human reason is inherently unreliable and pales as a source of evidence when compared to the Bible, is ubiquitous in creationist literature. It is a central feature of the exhibits at the Creation Museum, for example. I don’t get the impression that their overreliance on scientific sounding arguments has caused them to overlook this point.

Wood is surely correct about the arrogance of so many Christian apologists. Spend any amount of time circulating among YEC’s and you are quickly struck by their utter confidence in the correctness of their view (and the manifest absurdity of any contrary doctrine). I don’t see that, however, as the product of idolatry or of an over-obsession with arguments for Christ as compared to faith in Christ himself. I see that as a product of simple ignorance (perhaps willful). If the facts of biology really were what creationists think they are, their cockiness would be entirely justified.

Mainly, though, I want to address his last point. It is all well and good that blind faith, indeed, faith in the face of contrary evidence, is enough for Wood. But I can understand why that is not enough for so many others. It is not idolatry that causes one to seek rational justification for the claims of one’s faith. On the contrary, it is hard to imagine anything more natural. Surely God gave us our big brains for a reason, and it is hard to believe that reason is to ignore the facts uncovered by science.

Wood frets that if children are exposed to bad arguments early on, they will fall away from the faith upon learning the truth later. Indeed. But what do you suppose is the effect of telling them up fron that the available scientific evidence is entirely against the teachings of their faith? I suspect that tends to drive people away from the faith too.

For our second vignette we turn to David Heddle, who presents a very different view of the importance of apologetics. He is decribing the views of John Gerstner. Gerstner outlines a case for apologetics in seven numbered points. For example:

  1. People who argue against arguments (That is, Christians who claim that apologetics are unseemly, reason is unreliable, and only unquestioning faith is virtuous) are, in fact, making arguments. They are using their heads to justify not using their heads. To provide reasons for not using reason is simply not very smart.
  2. You will encounter those who will, as they should, ask why. You need a because that is more substantive than just because.
  3. When sane people appear to be against reason, they actually are not. When Tertullian said he believed (in God) because it was absurd (as opposed to logical) he was in fact saying that it was logical that the ways of an infinite, Holy God should (by reason) appear absurd to fallen creatures.

I agree with all three of those points. The trouble comes when we actually try to provide a decent argument in support of Christian faith. As an improvement over “Just because,” we get charming little items like this:

5. Christ proved He was who He claimed to be.

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:11)

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Matt. 9:6)

Before healing the paralytic, Jesus forgave him of his sins, thus claiming His divinity. He then did not say: believe it or not. Rather he went on to prove His divinity by means that no rational person could deny.

6. The bible testifies to its own inspiration, but not through circular reasoning. The gospels have proven historically reliable, and they testify to a miracle working Jesus, miracles of which His enemies do not deny but rather attempt to attribute to Satan.

That no rational person could deny, if you accept the gospel accounts as accurate depictions of what Jesus did. Which his enemies do not deny, according to what is recorded in the gospels. The soundness and the historical accuracy of the gospels is precisely the point at issue. I don’t know what specifically Gerstner has in mind in saying the gospels have proved themselves historically reliable, but I do know that a handful of ancient accounts of someone performing miracles does not comprise a good reason for believing that actual miracles took place.

From the blind faith of Wood, to the bad arguments of Gerstner, we move now to our third vignette. Consider this essay from Robbins Milbank:

I believe it is very easy to build God in your own image and very hard to rebuild Him when you crumble. I was born to see and experience the love of God. I saw Him in my father, whose kindness and wisdom led me through a thousand anguishes of youth. I saw Him in my wife-especially in her. I told my father about her when I was nine years old. “We’re going to marry,” I said.

He smiled. “I’m glad you feel like telling me. I hope you’ll always want to tell me things like this.”

Skipping ahead a bit:

This is know: I believe in the Lord’s Prayer, all of it, but particularly where it says, “Thy will be done.” For me, that’s one clear channel to God. That one belief, “Thy will be done,” carries me through each act of each day. It teaches me to live with all that is given me and to live without what is taken away. It rescues me from the idea that happiness for myself is either important or desirable. But it doesn’t at all destroy happiness as a gift I can give, miraculously, from an empty vessel.

This sort of thing I do not understand at all. I honestly do not understand what Milbank is trying to convey. When he says he sees God in the kindness and love of his father, what does that mean? I am surrounded by kind, loving people in my life, but all I see are kind loving people. Have I actually been seeing God all this time without realizing it?

“Thy will be done,” is what gets him through his day? Atheists also live with what is given to them and accept the loss of what is taken away. Are we doing it wrong? Would the good times become more meaningful, and the bad times easier to endure, if we managed to see everything as playing a role in some divine plan? Somehow I doubt it. In fact, I find that idea distinctly unpleasant.

One reason I write so much about religion is that the subject baffles me. It is not simply that, as an intellectual matter, I do not believe in God. It is that I can only stare with incomprehension at those who do. To me atheism has always seemed completely obvious. To most people it is the existence of God that is obvious. What do they know that I don’t?

At various times people have told me that Jesus Christ was God in human form, that he performed miracles, then paid the price for my sins and defeated death on the Cross. Upon hearing such a tale my first instinct is to ask how they know it is true. At this point rather a lot of people insist I have already missed the point. Get over that silly commitment to rationality and evidence! It is about faith and the human heart and coming to terms with the human condition and a whole lot of other meaningless cliches. It is admirable to believe this, people tell me, precisely because it does not seem to make sense. I do not understand such people at all.

People have told me they find inspiration and comfort from reading the Bible. I have read the Bible, and I mostly find it appalling. How could anyone be inspired by the scientific gobbledygook of Genesis? Or the threats of eternal damnation in the New Testament? How coud anyone see a God of love and justice in the relentless horrors of the Torah? Some of my atheist friends are fond of referring to the Bible as a beautifully written work of fiction. I can’t imagine from where they are getting “beautifully written.”

Does science tell us that humanity is just an afterthought of an evolutionary process that did not have us in mind? No problem, because it is possible that what appears random to us actually has a direction when viewed from afar. Does the cruelty, waste and suffering of the evolutionary process challenge the idea of a loving God? Certainly not, because it is possible that God’s unfathomable purposes could be attained in no other way. Does the ceaseless march of science make explanations based on the supernatural seem ever more tenuous and irrelevant? How absurd! It is only the theologically unsophisticated who find God in what we do not know. It all looks like tedious special pleading to me.

I know many who would think Milbank’s essay was simply lovely. To me it may as well have been written in a foreign language.

Comments

  1. #1 heddle
    November 5, 2009

    Jason,

    They are not my arguments. You should have read my post more carefully. They are from the late John Gerstner. Now I like Gerstner, quite a bit, in fact I greatly admire him, but he had a very different view on apologetics than I do. He is a proponent of evidential apologetics–i.e., including things like the Thomist proofs of God. I am not. I am a pure presuppositionalist–that is I believe that you must assume the existence of God and the inspiration of scripture. These are very different approaches–for example evidential apologists believe there is some value in employing apologetics with unbelievers. I don’t–I think apologetics is only useful for believers.

    I include his arguments in my Sunday School for completeness.

    And in fact I am in agreement only with the first three of his points.

  2. #2 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 5, 2009

    heddle –

    Thanks for the clarification. When you devote a whole post to quoting someone else’s views and do not present any additional commentary of your own, everyone is going to assume you are endorsing those views. You should probably add a line mentioning that you agree with only three of the seven points.

    It also isn’t clear whether you are quoting Gerstner or paraphrasing him. I assumed you were outlining your own views, basing yourself on what Gerstner had previously said.

  3. #3 SteveC
    November 5, 2009

    Todd Wood’s view may be interesting, but it is also scary. The creationists who try to argue that evolution is flawed at least permit the possibility that they may one day be able to realize that they are wrong. People like Todd Wood, who, faced with the evidence for evolution, and say, essentially, “yeah, that’s super-convincing. An airtight case, a slam dunk. I still don’t believe it because I have this book that I believe for no reason at all instead.” — people like that — are unreachable. You can’t convince them with argument because they have deliberately rejected the very notion of argument, of rational thought, their own reasoning, reason itself. They have managed to actually and really break their brains by thought alone.

  4. #4 Russell
    November 5, 2009

    Christians must construct their own arguments for their god, because he refuses to reveal himself in the present age. Quite unlike their myths of ages past, where he continually sent his angels, spoke from a burning bush, parted seas, appointed prophets who performed miracles for doubters, gave sight to the blind, cured the sick, etc. One of the hard questions for them is why their god makes his presence so easily ignored, given that he so much wants a relationship with every human.

  5. #5 SLC
    November 5, 2009

    I don’t see that Mr. Woods’ position differs significantly from that of Kurt Wise who also concedes that the scientific evidence for the Theory of Evolution is overwhelming but nevertheless rejects the theory on grounds that it is incompatible with the scriptures which he takes to be divinely inspired by the almighty.

  6. #6 oldfuzz
    November 5, 2009

    “Christians must construct their own arguments for their god…”

    Jews, too. One interesting tack is “Judaism, God and Physics (Searching for Sacred Metaphors in a Post-Einstein World)” by Rabbi David W. Nelson

    His Godview could be classified as atheistic by the hard core faithful. My, oh my.

  7. #7 The Science Pundit
    November 5, 2009

    Todd Wood’s view may be interesting, but it is also scary.

    True, but I think that his view is also the most honest (not just outwardly, but inwardly).

  8. #8 Ivan
    November 5, 2009

    I think apologetics is only useful for believers.

    Do people look at you funny when you tell them that? Because I think for most people the definition of apologetics involves interaction with “nonbelievers.”

    On the other hand, I completely understand why apologetics is necessary for those who already believe, even though I find it absurd. It’s necessary because most believers have no clue about the real reasons why they believe as they do, so they need some sophistry to distract them from ever seriously considering the possibility that they are mistaken.

  9. #9 heddle
    November 5, 2009

    Ivan,

    Because I think for most people the definition of apologetics involves interaction with “nonbelievers.”

    No, that’s called evangelism. It’s more like this:

    evangelism:unbelievers :: apologetics:believers

    evangelism is for making converts. Apologetics is for making disciples. That’s my view, anyway.

  10. #10 Christopher Heard
    November 5, 2009

    The overwhelming evidence in favor of evolution is precisely why I abandoned the young-earth creationism with which I was brought up. I remain a Christian theist, though I must admit that I constantly find myself getting a little more deistic all the time. But I digress; this is about Todd Wood’s logic or lack of same. I find it preposterous to willfully disbelieve a well-supported scientific theory with proven explanatory power (in the absence of evidence that undermines the theory’s support or explanatory power, of course). I do not agree with YECs who deny the truth of evolutionary theory, but at least their stance is self-referentially coherent. I don’t see how Wood’s stance, honest as it is, can logically cohere with itself.

  11. #11 AlexS
    November 5, 2009

    I’ve always been baffled at how readily and unthinkingly so many people play the flawed-human-reason card. Just today I had a long conversation with a bunch of Evangelicals, and the appeal to divine incomprehensibility was ubiquitous. I tried to point out that they were using a double standard when they on one hand talked and reasoned about God and on the other claimed that he’s just incomprehensible to human reason, but apparently people don’t understand that once you go down that road, *absolutely anything* goes.

  12. #12 G.D.
    November 5, 2009

    I’ve encountered that radically Kierkegaardian theological outlook (Wood’s) before – it seems to be far more prevalent in Europe than in the States, in fact. I’ve even heard people claim that they believe in evolution, that the Earth is 4,5 billion years old etc., yet take the Bible literally. When asked how they deal with the rather obvious cognitive dissonance, the answer will be something in the vicinity of

    ‘I know. God of the Bible is, given my premises, inconceivable, even logically impossible. That’s why it takes faith. Indeed nothing could possibly require more faith; to accept all of science, yet believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. It’s completely ridiculous. There is, rationally speaking, zero probablity that God (as conceived) could exist; yet I believe. And faith like this is the very core of true Christianity’.

    It’s sort of an argument stopper. I frankly don’t know how to respond to something like this. Religious outlooks of this kind seems, however, to be unable to gain much currency (they’re sort of sophisticated in their madness). I suspect radical Kierkegaardian theology would kill off religion in a very few generations.

  13. #13 Richard Wein
    November 6, 2009

    The most that rational argument can do is show that a belief is irrational. If someone frankly admits that his belief is irrational and is happy to believe irrationally, then that is indeed an argument stopper. He’s just told you that he’s immune to rational argument on this subject.

    Still, it’s possible he doesn’t perfectly know his own mind, and a good enough argument might get through to him even though he’s told you it won’t. Or you might might try non-rational means of influencing him (brainwashing?).

  14. #14 Koray
    November 6, 2009

    The way to respond to “I admit I believe in stuff that I know doesn’t really make sense” is to ask “then why aren’t you a muslim or a hindu, etc.?”

    “Rationally speaking”, they just “choose” to believe in a very convenient proposition (afterlife, somebody to pray to in crisis, etc.)

    Perhaps it’s just easier for many of us to distort our thinking to believe that homeopathy, astrology, etc. work instead of finding the real solution to our problems. There are no “arguments” to be had here.

  15. #15 Helgi Briem
    November 6, 2009

    Todd Wood is in the position of Wile E. Coyote who has just run off the edge of the cliff and is still moving his legs, not realizing that gravity is about to exert itself and make all his frantic efforts for nought.

    It’s the thin edge of the wedge, I think. Once influential creationists have backed up this far, it can only be a matter of time before they crash and burn.

  16. #16 Duke York
    November 6, 2009

    No, that’s called evangelism. It’s more like this:

    evangelism:unbelievers :: apologetics:believers

    evangelism is for making converts. Apologetics is for making disciples. That’s my view, anyway.

    Really? It’s always seemed to me that apologetics is about not losing believers, about shoring up the meager defenses against the surging seas of the real world outside the church door. If you can give the flock a good apologetic (“That human fossil was really a pig’s tooth!”), the next time they encounter some disconfirming fact, they’ll play the phrase in their head and be safe in their religion.

    My evidence for this? The name itself: apologia is the Greek word for “defense”. You can’t have a defense if you don’t feel you’re being attacked. An apologist isn’t involved in making new converts or deeper desciples, he’s building up the levies against the floods of the real world that will destroy his cathedral if he fails.

  17. #17 David
    November 6, 2009

    It looks like Wood regards evolution as a useful approximation, that can be brought asymptotically close to absolute truth but can never become equal to it — something like Ptolemy’s epicycles before Kepler, or Newton’s classical mechanics before Einstein.

    I’m not sure how he takes that position without sliding quickly into deism; it does not seem compatible with any kind of Biblical literalism.

  18. #18 heddle
    November 6, 2009

    Duke York,

    You are correct–we are called by the bible to be able give a defense of what we believe. I have no problem with that–in fact I do it all the time, sometimes on this blog. But evidential apologetics argues that you can go on the offensive.

    In other words–unless asked I would never give the arguments for the inspiration of scripture to an unbeliever in the hope that it would convince him. That’s a fool’s errand, in my opinion. Instead I would give them to believers, hopefully to strengthen their faith and their confidence. But if an unbeliever asks, I am certainly willing to offer a defense.

  19. #19 Russell
    November 6, 2009

    Evangelism is for making converts. Apologetics is for making disciples.

    That’s an interesting point. And telling. People get converted through some psychological process. Some then realize that the belief thus acquired doesn’t make much sense, and thus the need for apologetics, a pretence at intellectual explanation that wasn’t the way they acquired belief in any case. In any intellectually honest area, there is no difference between the arguments used to convince and the arguments used to defend, and there is no place for conversion. Which isn’t to say that normal elements of human psychology don’t come into play. But those that religion relies upon for its success are precisely the ones that honest scholars view as impediments to real learning.

  20. #20 Sigmund
    November 6, 2009

    It’s strange that there are not more creationists that advocate an omphalos type version of creationism. I realize that the idea of a deceptive creator is problematic but should it be? – after all the whole story of the Fall and the serpent, that Satan should exist in the first place – its not exactly evidence of a God who insist upon fair play.
    A creationist who said that God created everything to look like an ancient earth and to appear that evolution was true would have little problem with any new discovery (which today only sends them into hysterics of denial). Indeed it would allow the creationist to actually make testable predictions about the biological world – something approaching real science!

  21. #21 Leni
    November 6, 2009

    He’s just told you that he’s immune to rational argument on this subject.

    Which is why I agree with Richard Dawkins’ statement that “faith brooks no argument”. It is a show-stopper.

  22. #22 Ray Ingles
    November 6, 2009

    “Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle that they are laboring to dethrone, but if they argue without reason, (which, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must do) they are out of the reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.” – Ethan Allen

  23. #23 Glazius
    November 6, 2009

    When he says he sees God in the kindness and love of his father, what does that mean? I am surrounded by kind, loving people in my life, but all I see are kind loving people. Have I actually been seeing God all this time without realizing it?

    The popular etymology of “religion” ties it to the same root as “ligate”, making it a renewing of the ties between man and god(s).

    Pretty much anyone who is trying to evangelize you will say that, yes, you have actually been seeing God all this time without realizing it. If people always realized when they were seeing God, nobody would need “religion” at all.

    I’m a little surprised that you haven’t encountered that before, honestly, and I’m not sure what tone you’re trying to affect there.

  24. #24 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 6, 2009

    Glazius –

    I wasn’t trying to affect any particular tone. My point was simply that saying you see God in acts of kindness seems like a needlessly melodramatic way of describing something perfectly mundane. If it is meant literally, then I would ask how you know you are seeing God. If it is meant metaphorically, then I don’t see what is gained by saying things that way, as opposed to saying that you find kindness beautiful or inspiring or something like that.

  25. #25 AL
    November 7, 2009

    I’ve always been baffled at how readily and unthinkingly so many people play the flawed-human-reason card.

    I don’t understand the concept of “flawed human reason” either. What other sort of reason is there, and why does it understand God better than the ordinary human variety?

  26. #26 sgfan
    November 7, 2009

    Yes i dont understand..

  27. #27 Glazius
    November 7, 2009

    If it is meant literally, then I would ask how you know you are seeing God.

    I’m not trying to convert you, here, just explaning the viewpoint.

    But it’s pretty much the same way you know you’re seeing an animal called Homo sapiens when you look in the mirror.

    I mean, sure, you could walk down to your local university and demand a blood test to be really sure, and the person who sees God doesn’t have that absolute option. But you don’t demand scientific justification for the general classifications you make all the time just by looking at the world, the ones you’ve learned to make.

  28. #28 JonJ
    November 7, 2009

    I think the “seeing God in the kindness of his father” sort of thing is puzzling to atheists just because people who talk about God that way are just used to using that language, and atheists are not. Both of them appreciate the kindness of their fathers, etc., in the same way; it’s just a difference in the way they express themselves.

  29. #29 tomh
    November 7, 2009

    But it’s pretty much the same way you know you’re seeing an animal called Homo sapiens when you look in the mirror.

    Does that mean something? When you look in a mirror you see an actual object. When you look at something and see your God it’s all coming from your imagination. How is this in any way the same?

  30. #30 Tacroy
    November 8, 2009

    If Mr. Milbank sees God in his father’s kindness, I certainly hope he also sees God in the torture of a political prisoner. Unless he’s developed some sort of God-detection device, they’re both equally likely places for God to be.

    Anyway, I’d say that almost everyone who claims to be a theist is an atheist at heart. Despite his philosophy, when Todd Wood is in a car accident he won’t just call God – he’ll also call the paramedics. And guess who actually shows up?

    When it comes down to it, everyone acts as if there were no God. That’s perfectly okay, because the ones who act like there is a God end up dying as soon as anything goes wrong.

  31. #31 dış cephe
    November 8, 2009

    I think the “seeing God in the kindness of his father” sort of thing is puzzling to atheists just because people who talk about God that way are just used to using that language, and atheists are not.Thanks.

  32. #32 Mike M.
    November 8, 2009

    I find it astounding that god believers don’t seem to get that they believe in the god and religion of their culture. Period. (Virtually) no one’s a Christian because they spent decades studying the religions of the world, and then came to the conclusion that Christianity is the true faith. I mean, come on! Open up your eyes! If you had been raised in Saudi Arabia, you’d swear that Islam is the true faith and that it’s the only faith supported by evidence! Wake up people! You got a brain, use it!

  33. #33 Glazius
    November 9, 2009

    Does that mean something? When you look in a mirror you see an actual object. When you look at something and see your God it’s all coming from your imagination. How is this in any way the same?

    What you call the object you see in the mirror has very little to do with what it is and a lot to do with “your imagination”.

    You call it what you’ve learned to call it, or what you feel like out of the available options to call it. You don’t see the things that prove something is Homo sapiens in the mirror.

    In much the same way, you don’t carry a spectrometer around to determine what’s actually blue, or a microphone to determine what’s actually loud or quiet.

    Empirical methods are there, if you need them, to determine the creature in the mirror is a loud Homo sapiens painted blue. (His team just scored a touchdown, you see.) But you don’t use them to make that judgment. You’ve learned what “loud”, “blue”, and “Homo sapiens” are, and the creature in the mirror tweaks the relevant neurons, so that’s what you classify it as.

    Tversky and Hemenway, among other psychological researchers, have looked at how people learn to classify things, if you want some names to look up. And people have proved capable of learning some quite arbitrary classification methods.

    When people say they see God in the kindness of others, what they’re describing is a classification they’ve learned to make. There’s nothing unreal about that.

  34. #34 David Marjanović
    November 9, 2009

    “Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle that they are laboring to dethrone, but if they argue without reason, (which, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must do) they are out of the reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument.” – Ethan Allen

    Doesn’t it date to the 12th century? I thought “if you use reason to argue against reason, you’re contradicting yourself; if you don’t use reason to argue against reason, you’re unreasonable” came from the work described here.

  35. #35 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    Mike M,

    Open up your eyes! If you had been raised in Saudi Arabia, you’d swear that Islam is the true faith and that it’s the only faith supported by evidence! Wake up people! You got a brain, use it!

    Why would this be a surprise? C’mon, use your brian. Both main schools of thought in Christianity have simple explanations. Arminians would say that the spread of Christianity follows the gospel and requires prior assent which naturally occurs more easily not in a vacuum but where there is support, instruction, etc. Calvinism says that God elects people and places them, to first order, into covenant families and communities. Neither view argues for random by-lottery salvation—so why should Christians be quasi-randomly distributed? Both schools are perfectly consistent with pockets of Christianity–which should in fact be obvious.

  36. #36 ScottH
    November 9, 2009

    Gosh this heddle fellow is an idiot. C’mon use your brain? What he just proposed is the most monstrous concept an apologist can put forth. Frankly it is so sickening that anyone with an ounce of moral fiber should be repulsed by it. I chalk it up to immaturity as an adult. No one who has an ounce of empathy could support such an immoral concept.

    Mike M, sees the obvious, others seek to obscure it no matter how ridiculous the apology expresses itself.

    Neither view argues for random by-lottery salvation

    Who cares if they argue for it. It is the reality. The muslim or the jew has less than a 2% chance of changing from the religion of their culture which, not amazingly, you have absorbed as well.

  37. #37 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    ScottH,

    Gosh this heddle fellow is an idiot. C’mon use your brain? What he just proposed is the most monstrous concept an apologist can put forth. Frankly it is so sickening that anyone with an ounce of moral fiber should be repulsed by it.

    Man! I have had had many of my beliefs, such as predestination, labeled as monstrous–but this one seems a bit weak for such an honorific. But whatever.

    It seems that you can’t grasp a simple argument. Let me try again with itty-bitty words.

    One set of Christians would say: Christians are in pockets because before they make a choice for God they have to hear the gospel, see role models, see the positive effects of accepting the gospel, be discipled, have their hand held, etc. They would say that only a small percentage of Muslims convert because they are either prevented from hearing the good news, or are overwhelmed by pressure to conform, or the good news is constantly distorted, etc. They would say: if we work harder we can, through the Great Commission–which is in itself a recognition that pockets will arise–reduce the effect.

    The other great school of Christianity would argue that Christians were chosen before the foundation of time. In doing so, God has placed them, for their benefit and his glory, in covenant communities.

    Of course the secular explanation, that it is purely cultural, is also quite plausible. That’s not the point–the point is only, now do try to understand though I realize it may be hard, the the existence of pockets of Christianity is not a sort of “problem” for Christianity.

    In other words, either from a secular viewpoint or from a Christian viewpoint–and either major school of Christianity–you would expect exactly what you see: communities of Christians.

    If that is still too hard for you to grasp I’ll try presenting it one more time at, say, a fifth grade rather than a seventh grade level. Just let me know.

  38. #38 Spartan
    November 9, 2009

    the existence of pockets of Christianity is not a sort of “problem” for Christianity.

    I agree with you heddle in the context of what you are responding to, but I would think that this is as far as your point goes. It seems that there is no distribution of Christianity, except perhaps none, that is inconsistent with Christianity, and I don’t know if I agree that we should necessarily ‘expect’ the large but discrete pockets that exist. If Christians were 30% evenly distributed around the world for instance, we could just as easily say that God has evenly placed them, for their benefit and his glory, so that his word is evenly spread and everyone has the chance to hear the gospel.

  39. #39 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    Spartan,

    Can’t dispute that.

  40. #40 ScottH
    November 9, 2009

    No I understood your argument just fine. Your a tool and likely a real pussy. Didn’t disagree that it wasn’t a problem- hell you can explain anyway anything. It doesn’t change the fact that people are the religion of their culture as Matt said and that:

    The other great school of Christianity would argue that Christians were chosen before the foundation of time. In doing so, God has placed them, for their benefit and his glory, in covenant communities.

    Like I said people make up all kind of stuff rather than simply saying Muslims are muslims 99% of the time because their parents are muslims and vice versa. To say they where selected against before time is hideous and hardly worthy of an omnipotent ‘loving’ being.

    And as Spartan said the Christian explaination has no power to explain anything its a ‘just so’ answer. At least the secular version has some predictive power. In a culture of muslims one would expect the children to be muslims.

  41. #41 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    ScottH,

    And as Spartan said…

    You are trying to ride Spartan’s coattails–presumably because his argument made good sense while your argument was (and continues to be) idiotic.

    Your a tool and likely a real pussy.

    Well you’re certainly a brave little man, all hidden behind the internet and such.

  42. #42 ScottH
    November 9, 2009

    Yep,
    Thats what I’m doing riding his coattails. Your belief is still monstrous.

    Well you’re certainly a brave little man, all hidden behind the internet and such

    Snappy comeback. Of course your only able to get away with it exactly because your pussy self is behind a computer. Only a coward would embrace some of the stuff you spew.

  43. #43 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    Only a coward would embrace some of the stuff you spew.

    Yeah right. The obvious connection to Calvinism is cowardice.

    You truly are a pinhead. Possibly the dumbest person I’ve encountered on the internet–and that’s saying a lot.

    it exactly because your pussy self is behind a computer.

    But you know where I am dough-boy. Unlike you neither my identity nor my location is hidden.

  44. #44 ScottH
    November 9, 2009

    You truly are a pinhead. Possibly the dumbest person I’ve encountered on the internet–and that’s saying a lot

    Funny, thats what many say about you. All my argument was is that having a belief that some are chosen and some not BEFORE they do something is monstrous and that your are your cultures religion. You off course have chosen the other, non stupid, ahem, side. Your pure intellect there loser.

    But you know where I am dough-boy. Unlike you neither my identity nor my location is hidden.

    So first I’m a ‘little’ man then a ‘dough’boy,haha you are funny for a pussy. It’s almost as if your fantasizing about me. If I did show up all you would do is wet yourself, douche, and call the police. I seriously doubt you have any man skills whatsoever.

  45. #45 ScottH
    November 9, 2009

    You know upon reflection I apologize to heddle. I have been ridiculously harsh for no worthwhile reason. It just struck me as callous to condemn billions of people ‘just because’ but it was no excuse for that level of incivility.

  46. #46 heddle
    November 9, 2009

    ScottH ,

    Apology accepted. And one offered for my replies-in-kind.

    Now if you just wanted to discuss Calvinism–well everyone knows I’m always up for that discussion.

  47. #47 Owlmirror
    November 10, 2009

    Now if you just wanted to discuss Calvinism–well everyone knows I’m always up for that discussion.

    The last time we were discussing the source of evil, the discussion kind of cut off abruptly.

    Of course, it’s possible that you had said all that you wished to say.

  48. #48 GravityISJustATheory
    November 10, 2009

    the existence of pockets of Christianity is not a sort of “problem” for Christianity.
    I agree with you heddle in the context of what you are responding to, but I would think that this is as far as your point goes. It seems that there is no distribution of Christianity, except perhaps none, that is inconsistent with Christianity, and I don’t know if I agree that we should necessarily ‘expect’ the large but discrete pockets that exist.

    I think the problem boils down to the fact that the distribution of Christianity and every other religion is indistinguishable from what you would expect if it was merely a cultural movement that began in a particular location, and spread from there by missionaries, migrants, schisms, adoption as a state religion, etc.


    If Christians were 30% evenly distributed around the world for instance, we could just as easily say that God has evenly placed them, for their benefit and his glory, so that his word is evenly spread and everyone has the chance to hear the gospel.

    Indeed, if that was the case, but all other religions maintained their current distribution, that would at least be evidence that there was something special about Christianity (especially if it had actually appeared simultaneously all over the world).

  49. #49 heddle
    November 10, 2009

    Gravity,

    I think the problem boils down to the fact that the distribution of Christianity and every other religion is indistinguishable from what you would expect if it was merely a cultural movement

    That’s been established and acknowledged. But since it is completely unsurprising from a Christian perspective it is inconsequential as a pro or con talking point

    that would at least be evidence that there was something special about Christianity (especially if it had actually appeared simultaneously all over the world).

    True, but all Christians sprouting halos upon conversion would also indicate something special. The bible, however, predicts only the mundane–the slow spread through word of mouth. Pockets of Christianity would only be a problem if the bible predicted otherwise. Our feet can be held to the fire for what our holy book predicts–not for what it doesn’t.

  50. #50 James Sweet
    November 10, 2009

    Would the good times become more meaningful, and the bad times easier to endure, if we managed to see everything as playing a role in some divine plan? Somehow I doubt it. In fact, I find that idea distinctly unpleasant.

    This actually varies quite a bit from person to person. I am firmly your camp, Jason. But my equally atheistic wife tells me that her life seems less exciting and vivid once she let go of her mostly-pantheistic beliefs about a divine plan.

    Of course, as Dawkins is fond of pointing out, this has nothing at all to say about the truth value of religion. And it’s also worth mentioning that my wife still feels her life experience is better overall as a result of striving for a rational worldview. However, it is at least superficially true that some people have a subjectively negative reaction to some of the inevitable conclusions of honest atheism.

    For whatever that’s worth…

  51. #51 Owlmirror
    November 10, 2009

    Our feet can be held to the fire for what our holy book predicts–not for what it doesn’t.

    And yet, when it’s pointed out that there are failed predictions in the Bible, do you concede that they are problems?

    Nope. “Framework interpretation! Framework, I say! It appears to contradict empirical reality because it’s all framework!”

    Rhetorical Calvinball.

    ————————-

    Todd Wood has obviously been reading 1 Corinthians 1:20-25.

    Like many, Gerstner misquoted Tertullian:

    Crucifixus est dei filius; non pudet, quia pudendum est.
    Et mortuus est dei filius; credibile prorsus est, quia ineptum est.
    Et sepultus resurrexit; certum est, quia impossibile.

    The Son of God was crucified: I am not ashamed–because it is shameful.
    The Son of God died: it is immediately credible–because it is
    silly. 
    He was buried, and rose again: it is certain–because it is impossible.

    Of course, Tertullian also said this:

    What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from “the porch of Solomon,” who had himself taught that “the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart.” Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. For this is our palmary faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.

  52. #52 heddle
    November 11, 2009

    Owlmirror,

    Maybe, but you’d have to give me examples. In my experience with these things the Calvinball is on the side of the biblical critic:

    Here is a problem. You must interpret the passage as I tell you. Using the translation I permit. All permitted figures of speech, if any, are what I say they are. All appeals to the original language, if allowed, are adjudicated by me. Holes in the archeological record are, when convenient, proof that an event did not occur. In any apparent disagreement with the archeological record, the interpretation of the passage is locked in its most disadvantageous position, and the archeological data, no matter how scant, is elevated to infallible proof.

    Something like that,

  53. #53 Owlmirror
    November 11, 2009

    Maybe, but you’d have to give me examples.

    You mean besides the fact that the Bible predicts that a uniform layer of worldwide flood deposits from just a few thousand years ago would be found? And that the Earth — and plants — existed before the sun, the moon, and the stars? Or that records of something on the order of a million people enslaved in Egypt suddenly leaving at the same time as ten disasters would be found, and the remains of these million people wandering around for forty years would be found in the Sinai peninsula?

    Stuff like that?

    In my experience with these things the Calvinball is on the side of the biblical critic:

    No. The evidence is on the side of the biblical critic. Reason and logic are on the side of the biblical critic.

    I’m very much afraid that it is you who has abandoned reason, logic, and evidence — regarding the bible, at any rate. Any success you have in science and other secular pursuits argue for powerful mental compartmentalization.

  54. #54 heddle
    November 11, 2009

    owlmirror,

    Sorry, some interpretations of the bible predict those things. As for the lack of evidence for the Exodus, as I stated it is not a proof that it didn’t happen, although I’d feel better of some evidence were discovered. (There are records of a population of Hebrew slaves.) Not long ago archeologists pointed to the king of Assyria named Tiglath-Pileser (found in the bible) as an error, for no evidence existed. But then they excavated what turned out to be his capital and found the inscription in the wall: “I, Tiglath-Pileser, King of Assyria.”

    No. The evidence is on the side of the biblical critic. Reason and logic are on the side of the biblical critic.

    I’m very much afraid that it is you who has abandoned reason, logic, and evidence — regarding the bible, at any rate. Any success you have in science and other secular pursuits argue for powerful mental compartmentalization.

    These claims must be true, since you say so.

  55. #55 JimC
    November 11, 2009

    The bible, however, predicts only the mundane–the slow spread through word of mouth

    haha,mustnothave hadan inkling the internet was coming huh.

  56. #56 Owlmirror
    November 11, 2009

    Sorry, some interpretations of the bible predict those things.

    You mean, all of the interpretations that don’t involve invoking “Framework!”

    As for the lack of evidence for the Exodus, as I stated it is not a proof that it didn’t happen, although I’d feel better of some evidence were discovered.

    Have you read anything at all on biblical archaeology?

    Is there any reason to believe that a population of ~106 humans can wander in the desert for 40 years without leaving evidence?

    (There are records of a population of Hebrew slaves.)

    [citation needed]

    Not long ago archeologists pointed to the king of Assyria named Tiglath-Pileser (found in the bible) as an error, for no evidence existed. But then they excavated what turned out to be his capital and found the inscription in the wall: “I, Tiglath-Pileser, King of Assyria.”

    ? Actually, there were four kings of that name; the biblical one appears to have been the third.

    Can you point to a reference that definitely says that the bible was in error on the point of that king existing? Just curious.

    These claims must be true, since you say so.

    I seem to recall you yourself either saying directly or by implication that God could not be known by reason. If God could be known by reason, then what would be the need for revelation and/or regeneration?

    Have you changed your mind on this since then?

  57. #57 heddle
    November 12, 2009

    OwlMirror,

    You mean, all of the interpretations that don’t involve invoking “Framework!”

    No I mean all the interpretations that aren’t obligingly convenient and most advantageous for your point–i.e., all non-YEC interpretations, not all (or even most) of which invoke “Framework”.

    Can you point to a reference that definitely says that the bible was in error on the point of that king existing?

    From my Sunday School notes I know the book that I took that information from was James Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? p 70. I don’t have that book handy to see if he in turn offers primary references. I would tend to doubt it, since a statement along the lines: some scholars, citing no archeological evidence, doubted whether such a king existed (which then implicitly or explicitly claims the bible is wrong) is hardly controversial.

    [citation needed]

    I can’t look up the primary refernces here, nor do I want to. But my memory was good enough to recall several books I have at home which contain the primary references if you care to look them up. Two are from K. A. Kitchen On the Reliability of the Old Testament and The Bible in its World. The third is less scholarly–but I recall it is thoroughly referenced–it is Randall Prices’s The Stones Cry Out. So I refer you to them for the primary references. I know they all point out that a primary difficulty is establishing a timeline for when the Exodus is supposed to have happened–with a range (IIRC) on the order of BC 1450-1250. Both, I believe, discuss Egyptian references to foreign workers, sometimes described as Asiatic, and to pictorial representations of slaves making bricks under the watch of rod-holding Egyptians masters.

    Have you read anything at all on biblical archaeology?

    Yes, as described above, which is not exhaustive.

    Is there any reason to believe that a population of ~106 humans can wander in the desert for 40 years without leaving evidence?

    Yes. Nobody knows their route. Northern? Southern? Nobody knows. And, as you say, they wandered as opposed to settled. The area in question is huge.

    Have you changed your mind on this since then?

    What I said, I suspect and hope, was something like “you cannot come faith in God on the basis of self-mustered reason.” After you are regenerated, you can and should apply the standard methods of reason, logic and critical analysis to your faith, even in its nascent stage. Like the Bereans. And I never said there was no evidence–I said there was no scientific evidence. I certainly view the radical change in my life, especially in my thinking, and in the lives of others, as compelling evidence–while to others it may only be evidence of brainwashing.

  58. #58 Owlmirror
    November 12, 2009

    Both, I believe, discuss Egyptian references to foreign workers, sometimes described as Asiatic,

    1) “Asiatic” does not mean Israelite or Hebrew.

    2) Assuming that your sources refer to the Beni Hasan mural, they were not workers, but merchants.

    http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=70

    Sorry for the long citation, but it’s a big chunk in a very long post:

    As noted above, the biblical phrase ‘amo does not mean “God’s people,” but “his people.” To be fair to Jacobovici, I’ll start by nothing that, in the (mere) seven times where the phrase ‘amo Israel appears in the Hebrew Bible, the possessive suffix -o does, of course, refer to God. However, there are over 100 other occurrences of the phrase ‘amo in the Hebrew Bible, where the possessive -o suffix refers to some human being or other. I’ll content myself with just one example to substantiate this claim, though I could give 116 of them. Consider Exodus 1:9, “[Pharaoh] said to ‘amo, ‘Look, the Israelite ‘am is much too numerous for us.’” Here ‘amo, “his people,” clearly means Pharaoh’s people, the Egyptians. For Jacobovici’s linguistic equation of the “Amo” of the Beni Hasan caption with the biblical Israelites to work, the biblical phrase ‘amo would have to be a proper noun that referred exclusively to the Israelites. But this is not the case, so the equation falls apart on the biblical Hebrew side.

    There are other problems with Jacobovici’s use of the Beni Hasan wall paintings. In the first place, the Asiatics depicted in the mural are merchants, not migrants. Jacobovici conveniently fails to tell his audience that the caption to the mural explicitly states that this group of Asiatics came to Egypt to sell stibium, black eye makup (see, among other possible sources, William Shea, “Artistic Balance among the Beni Hasan Asiatics,” Biblical Archaeologist 44 [1981] 219-228; the quotation about eye-paint is on p. 221 and mentioned elsewhere). They weren’t moving in, just bringing their wares for trade. Moreover, the caption specifies that this caravan consisted of 37 people led by one Ibshar (the name could be reverse-engineered into a West Semitic dialect as “Abishar”). When you take into account Jacob’s daughters-in-law, who aren’t counted in the biblical figure of 70 persons who migrated to Egypt with Jacob (and I presume any granddaughters-in-law are likewise omitted), Ibshar’s group is less than half the size of the biblical migrant clan. Finally—and this is a real kicker—Jacobovici’s math skills have clearly gone on holiday when he claims that the Beni Hasan wall painting comes from “the right time” for Jacob’s migration to Canaan. According to the figures given earlier in the program, Jacobovici wants to date the exodus to 1500 BCE (to make it synchronize with the Hyksos explusion, never mind that the Hyksos expulsion under Ahmose was somewhere in the range of 35 to 46 years before 1500), and the Israelite migration into Egypt 200 years before that. The Beni Hasan wall paintings, however, date—again, according to the caption—to the sixth year of Seostris II, or 1892 BCE (Shea, 221). That’s over 190 years earlier than Jacob’s migration as dated by Jacobovici.

    and to pictorial representations of slaves making bricks under the watch of rod-holding Egyptians masters.

    I assume this refers to the wall-painting on the tomb of Rekhmire, which has nothing whatsoever that connects these brick-makers, or any brick-makers, to the Asiatics.

    I do hope that you would not argue that the mere existence of brick-makers means that the brick-makers must have been Israelites/Hebrews?

  59. #59 Owlmirror
    November 12, 2009
    Is there any reason to believe that a population of ~106 humans can wander in the desert for 40 years without leaving evidence?

    Yes. Nobody knows their route. Northern? Southern? Nobody knows. And, as you say, they wandered as opposed to settled. The area in question is huge.

    Not so huge that archaeologists have not investigated it pretty well, including finding Palaeolithic remains.

    Have you read this?

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/otarch.html

    The most serious problem of all remains to be addressed, and it has to do with the question asked at the beginning of this section: Were the Israelites ever in Sinai? The answer, as far as archaeology can tell, is no, although “it has not been for lack of trying” (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001, p. 62). Repeated, extensive archaeological surveys of the peninsula have turned up absolutely no remains that could be attributed to a large group of wandering Israelites: no firepits or ash lenses, no pottery shards, no metal or stone implements, no day-to-day artifacts, no traces of campsites or ruins of temporary structures, no dolmens or cairns, no worn footpaths or trails, no domesticated animal bones, not even any human graves. Throughout the Middle and Late Bronze Age, the south and central Sinai is a wasteland as far as archaeology is concerned, lacking any evidence of transient or permanent occupation on any significant scale (Dever 1997, p. 72). The only evidence of human presence in the Sinai during the supposed time of the Exodus is along the northern coastal dunes, the so-called “Ways of Horus” – an Egyptian royal road leading from the Nile delta to Palestine, used by the New Kingdom pharaohs to facilitate quick movements of troops. Along this route, archaeologists have found abundant evidence of Egyptian presence, including fortified military outposts, granaries, and water reservoirs (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001, p. 60). However, this is precisely the route which the Bible tells us the Israelites did not take (Exodus 13:17).

    The most common apologetic reply to this is that a band of nomads would not be expected to leave evidence that would survive for archaeologists to find millennia later. This argument is untenable. In reality, even transient human activity on a scale far smaller than the Exodus was ever claimed to be is amenable to detection by modern archaeological techniques, which are “quite capable of tracing even the very meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world” (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001, p. 63).

    As proof of this, consider the archaeological record of the Sinai peninsula from other periods. The surveys mentioned earlier, though they found no traces of occupation during the Middle and Late Bronze, clearly show the presence of pastoralists and hunter-gatherers from periods both before and after. For example, the Paleolithic period – when humanity consisted entirely of bands of roving hunter-gatherers, when no structures whatsoever were built, and when the extent of human technology consisted of stone chipped into crude tools – is easily recognized in archaeological surveys of the Sinai. From the early Paleolithic, hand axes belonging to the so-called Upper Acheulean culture have been found throughout the northern section of the peninsula, whereas stone flakes, scrapers and other items of the Mousterian culture have been found in sites in the east, in the region of Kadesh-barnea and the Negev hills (Bar-Yosef and Beit-Arieh 1993, p. 1385)

    ———

    What I said, I suspect and hope, was something like “you cannot come faith in God on the basis of self-mustered reason.” After you are regenerated, you can and should apply the standard methods of reason, logic and critical analysis to your faith, even in its nascent stage.

    Wouldn’t that include seeking falsifiability; attempts to disconfirm rather than confirm that something real, as opposed to imagined, has happened inside your head?

    And I never said there was no evidence–I said there was no scientific evidence.

    What do you think the difference is between evidence that is and is not scientific? Going by your following sentence, it looks like you mean that anything involving mental states and emotions is evidence but not scientific evidence — is that in fact what you mean?

    I certainly view the radical change in my life, especially in my thinking, and in the lives of others, as compelling evidence–while to others it may only be evidence of brainwashing.

    Oh, “brainwashing” sounds a bit excessive. “Confirmation bias” is (probably) sufficient, although I concede that there may be more involved.

    What do you mean by radical changes in your thinking? Does that include ceasing to think that external empirical verification was necessary in regards to the question of God’s existence and the truth of any given religion?

  60. #60 Owlmirror
    November 12, 2009

    Forgot to address this one point:

    No I mean all the interpretations that aren’t obligingly convenient and most advantageous for your point–i.e., all non-YEC interpretations, not all (or even most) of which invoke “Framework”.

    Are there indeed any non-YEC interpretations besides those that can be described as “Framework”? What have I missed?

    I mean, I know there are those that agree that the Pentateuch is a collection of ancient Middle-Eastern myths and socio-political propaganda, but I somehow don’t think that’s what you meant.

  61. #61 heddle
    November 12, 2009

    olwmirror,

    “Asiatic” does not mean Israelite or Hebrew.

    Well the term “Asiatics” was certainly used for Semites, for example the Hyksos.

    Assuming that your sources refer to the Beni Hasan mural

    That is a bad assumption. The brick making murals are from the tomb of Rekhmire, and they clearly show slaves, not merchants.

    Wouldn’t that include seeking falsifiability; attempts to disconfirm rather than confirm that something real, as opposed to imagined, has happened inside your head?

    Yes it would.

    What do you mean by radical changes in your thinking? Does that include ceasing to think that external empirical verification was necessary in regards to the question of God’s existence and the truth of any given religion?

    No I have empirical evidence. The definition of empirical from dictionary.com:

    1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
    2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, esp. as in medicine.
    3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

    The first two definitions match exactly what I possess.

  62. #62 heddle
    November 12, 2009

    Are there indeed any non-YEC interpretations besides those that can be described as “Framework”? What have I missed?

    Yes there are the day-age or long-day views held by many people. Most, like Hugh Ross, even argue that their view is the literal view of Genesis.

    The Framework View, as developed primarily by Meridith Kline, is a unabashedly non-literal (though, they would argue, non unfaithful-to-the-text) interpretation.

  63. #63 Owlmirror
    November 13, 2009

    Well the term “Asiatics” was certainly used for Semites, for example the Hyksos.

    I’m not disputing that.

    That is a bad assumption. The brick making murals are from the tomb of Rekhmire, and they clearly show slaves, not merchants.

    Are the brick-makers in the mural actually Israelites or even Asiatics?

    It certainly sounds like someone pointed to the Rekhmire mural (“Look! Slaves making bricks!”), and either implicitly or explicitly made the connection that these were somehow connected with the Israelites.

    Hm. One reference to the nationality of the workers: “The men working in the brickyard are unusual. They are referred to in the accompanying text as “captives,” and they appear to be Syrians and Nubians. The Syrians have stubble on their chins and their chests are covered with blond hair, features foreign to Egyptians, who regularly shaved their entire body. A few of the Syrians here are even shown with blue eyes.”

    OK, I concede that the text may well indicate that they are Asiatics — but blue-eyed blond-haired Semites? Something very strange is going on there….

    It certainly looks like “Asiatics” may have been inclusive enough of a term to refer to peoples from far north of the areas peopled by what we would call “Semites”.

    I note that Rekhmire lived during the reigns of Thutmoses III and Amenhotep II. Neither of these can possibly have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Thutmoses III was a successful conqueror, and these victorious military campaigns were well documented; Amenhotep II was only slightly less militaristic. This was a high point in Egypt’s history; there were no series of disasters that devestated the country, followed by a massive slave escape.

    Citing again from http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/otarch2.html

    Another problem is that Ahmose’s resounding victory over the Hyksos ushered in the 18th Dynasty – the so-called New Kingdom period, of which Ahmose was the first pharaoh. As this essay has already pointed out, the New Kingdom was the zenith of Egyptian might, a time when the pharaohs’ conquering armies repeatedly swept through Canaan, Syria and even the Fertile Crescent, all the way to the Euphrates, laying waste to all who stood in their path. During this period, under the rule of formidable pharaohs such as Thutmose III and Ramesses II, Egypt was at the height of its power. This is virtually impossible to square with the events of the Exodus. Recall that, according to the Bible, when the Israelites finally left, Egypt was in ruins: its crops devoured by locusts and its orchards shattered by hail, its cattle all dead of the murrain, an entire generation of firstborn sons lying dead, its treasuries plundered, and, let us not forget, the millions of slaves whose labor had sustained the country for generations suddenly gone. That the country is said to have survived such a catastrophe at all makes this account highly implausible; that we are to believe that it then immediately entered into a period during which it was at the historical height of its power and glory makes it impossible. If there is any truth to the Biblical story of the plagues, the Hyksos period could not have been the period of the captivity.

    ——-

    Why is it that none of the Pharaohs in Genesis or Exodus are named, while the ones that actually interacted with the later kingdoms of Israel and Judah are named, and match the Egyptian and non-Egyptian records?

  64. #64 Owlmirror
    November 13, 2009
    Wouldn’t that include seeking falsifiability; attempts to disconfirm rather than confirm that something real, as opposed to imagined, has happened inside your head?

    Yes it would.

    Hm.

    And what steps, if any, did you take to do so?

    What would have convinced you then, or would convince you now, that your experience was not in fact the result of God regenerating you?

    No I have empirical evidence.

    I note that you seem to have ignored the full phrase “external empirical verification”.

    Why?

    The definition of empirical from dictionary.com:

    1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
    2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, esp. as in medicine.

    The first two definitions match exactly what I possess.

    I am afraid that you weaken the use of a perfectly good word.

    If I said that I had received a revelation from God to the effect that all religions were false, including yours, and which included as a clause that I alone was the only recipient of a true revelation, all others being imagined, including yours, would you agree that my experience was empirical?

    In point of fact, I think the problem is that the definitions, as you use them, equivocates around the word “experience”. Clearly, you experienced something. The question is, what was it that you experienced?

    —-

    Are there indeed any non-YEC interpretations besides those that can be described as “Framework”? What have I missed?

    Yes there are the day-age or long-day views held by many people.

    It was my understanding that “day-age” and “long-day” was a subtype of “Framework”, but I see that they are claimed to be distinct concepts.

    Most, like Hugh Ross, even argue that their view is the literal view of Genesis.

    I am not sure how, as an astrophysicist, he copes with the sequence issue in a way that actually is in fact distinct from the “Framework” concept.

    I see that some day-agers are willing to set aside the globality of the putative flood.

  65. #65 Robert O'Brien
    November 14, 2009

    I note that Rekhmire lived during the reigns of Thutmoses III and Amenhotep II. Neither of these can possibly have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Thutmoses III was a successful conqueror, and these victorious military campaigns were well documented; Amenhotep II was only slightly less militaristic. This was a high point in Egypt’s history; there were no series of disasters that devestated the country, followed by a massive slave escape.

    “The annals tradition had its continuation in the time of Amenhotep II (1439-1406 B.C.), who set up stelae in Memphis and Karnak.[94] In them he gives a consecutive record of his first and second campaigns in his seventh and ninth years respectively, and in a style similar to the Annals of Thutmose III. The focus, however, is on the personal exploits of the pharaoh himself, some of which seem frivolous. Because the annals genre appears to have been closely bound to the reporting of military campaigns on a regular basis, when the latter practice declined toward the end of Amenhotep’s reign and in the reigns of the subsequent pharaohs, annals as a genre disappeared. When campaigning by the pharaohs was revived in the Nineteenth Dynasty, the reporting of these events took a somewhat different form. Of course, the notion of inscribing stelae with vague statements and clichés about great military achievements, whether real or imaginary, continued. But this was a convention meant to maintain the pharaonic image and it had little influence on historiography.” (In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History, John Van Seters, pp. 151-152)

    Do you and the pretentious moron behind ebon musings believe everything Baghdad Bob claimed as well?

  66. #66 Owlmirror
    November 14, 2009

    Of course, the notion of inscribing stelae with vague statements and clichés about great military achievements, whether real or imaginary, continued. But this was a convention meant to maintain the pharaonic image and it had little influence on historiography.”

    I’m glad that you agree that the Bible, containing many, many unsubstantiated boasts and vague statements and clichés about great military achievements meant to maintain the Yawhistic image, especially about events in Egypt and Sinai, is as false as the blatherings of Baghdad Bob.

    Or are you a pretentious and hypocritical moron?

  67. #67 Osmaniye çiçekçi
    November 26, 2009

    Osmaniye Çiçekçi

  68. #68 Adana Çiçekçi
    November 26, 2009

    Adana İli Çiçek Siparişi

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.