Saturday, September 13, 2008

The diseased faith

Chris (from Oz) parroted the poor thinking of Sam Harris thusly:

Yes, Rhology, not exactly the same religions, but the same disease. Faith.

It's a matter of good fortune that most of today's Christians don't follow the examples of the Old Testament any more. But there are some gaining ground.

Just like the majority of Muslims don't fly planes into buildings.

It is people like yourselves, who consider faith a virtue, that allow extremists of all religions to operate.


As demonstrated quite a few times on this blog, notably here, atheists have quite a bit of faith as well. Maybe you should think about specifying what kind of faith. Jihadi faith? I'm with you! Christian faith? Only if you think that radically loving people and wanting the ultimate best for them is dangerous and sick.


You don't understand the OT's relationship to today. Here's a primer.

who consider faith a virtue, that allow extremists of all religions to operate.

I am only too happy to encourage extremists of the Christian faith to operate all they want, all they can. For their faith is for the building up of the world and people's spirits, both.
OTOH, I discourage extremism of the violent strain like Islam, and atheism. Extreme Islam is dangerous b/c it is violent in its exemplar, Mohammed, and in its commands. Extreme atheism is dangerous b/c in the end, nothing matters. At all. Thus the atheist's passions are free to run in whatever direction he feels that day. And we know that people are evil at their base, so those passions will run to evil, to hurt, to theft, to murder, to selfishness. So it's all about the CONTENT of that faith.


Here's hoping you meet more educated Christians in your lifetime than you have so far, and that you learn from them more than you so far have.

19 comments:

Chris (from Oz) said...

What type of faith ? Dogmatic faith in things not in evidence. Particularly, faith which results in following ancient holy books. Even more particularly, faith in old holy books which are demonstrably false.

I'm happy you don't believe in most of old testament these days, and that you mostly ignore the commands which God gave to commit genocide and other atrocities.

Most Muslims ignore their commands to commit atrocities too.

Atheists aren't bound by dogma, that's true. Lucky (well, there are reasons) that we are influenced by society, and our hard-wiring for mostly getting along.

You said "extremism of the violent strain like Islam, and atheism" ?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that statement....

NAL said...

Rho:
And we know that people are evil at their base ...

We know that you believe that people are evil at their base. You must believe this, because if the contrary is true: that people are good at their base, there would be no need for religion. Do you really need the fear of eternal damnation to keep your evil in check?

Rhology said...

What type of faith ? Dogmatic faith in things not in evidence.

Oh, so now you're moving the goalposts. This is an inauspicious start for you, but it's necessary b/c you misspoke the 1st time. Couldn't you be honest enough to admit that?
Besides, evidentialism is not in evidence. Maybe you could step up to the plate and provide evidence that evidence is the best way to discover truth.


faith in old holy books which are demonstrably false.

Prove it. I'll pose you the same challenge I've posed others. Read this and then give me your 5 best biblical "contradictions". Make sure they're your 5 best, b/c I have limited patience for that kind of thing. We'll see how well you understand the Bible, and when we're through interacting, everyone will see who had the better argument.


I'm happy you don't believe in most of old testament these days

I believe in all of it. I just finished telling you to check here to understand. This is a poor showing on your part - do you even read what I write or do you just repeat yourself?


Most Muslims ignore their commands to commit atrocities too.

Correct. The difference is that theirs are standing commands. Mine were neither atrocities, nor are they standing.


Atheists aren't bound by dogma, that's true.

That's a load of bologna. Evolutionary dogma is very strong and institutionalised in its bias. Get over yourself.


I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that statement....

Well, you could offer a counterargument...



NAL said:
that people are good at their base, there would be no need for religion

What is your argument for that?
Maybe people are hypothetically good but not perfect. Wouldn't there be a need still?


Do you really need the fear of eternal damnation to keep your evil in check?

The fear of damnation doesn't keep my evil in check at all anyway. It's the power of the Holy Spirit working in me that does that.
Romans 1-2 tell us that unbelievers know certain things about God, that He is, that He is creator, that He is invisible, that He is eternal, and that we stand condemned under His law. Put all those together, and that's scary, but it still doesn't lead us to repent and trust God. It leads us to greater evil. It's by unmerited mercy and grace that our lives and conduct become better.

Chris (from Oz) said...

So Rhology, because I didn't specify to you level of satisfaction on my first comment, and decided to respond to your request to do so, this somehow means I "moved the goalposts" or I "misspoke". Nope, I clarified so you were less likely to divert the issue.

From your link, it seems that you're saying there's no way to prove that evidence is the best way to discover truth, as trying to do so degenerates into a circular proof. Sounds right to me.

Hmm. Contradictions in the bible. What fun. I understand the bible better than you where it matters, which is whether it's the word of a deity or not. I'm sure you remember more of the content though. My nephew could name all of Santa's reindeers (I can't), but it doesn't mean he knows the important bit about Santa.

OK, if I wanted to present the contradictions in the bible, would you actually use our earth logic to show that they're not contradictions ? Or do you leave open the possibility that "God can make 3=4, therefore the contradiction you see isn't really one"... I know you're going to try to BS your way out of it, I just want some warning of how. Because using actual logic wouldn't allow you to do so. The link you gave me does not give me high hopes of a reasonable response.

You don't believe in following old testament punishments and prohibitions because you believe that you don't need to any more, and you believe you have justification for this. Sure, you believe that they were once required to be followed, but not any more. That was my point.

You say that the commands of your bible weren't atrocities. So, genocide isn't an atrocity ? I don't want to get into arguments about the meaning of the word "atrocity", but let me just disagree with you.

I mentioned atheism, and you somehow jumped to evolution. They're not intrinsically linked you know. Of course, people are more likely to accept reality if they haven't dogmatically accepted the claims of the bible, but there are atheists who don't accept evolution. There are Christians who do accept evolution (not your type of Christian I'm sure).

As for "evolutionary dogma", I think you need to study evolution or even just science a little. Or perhaps there's been a misunderstanding over the work "dogma". Let me give you a hint. That the earth revolves around the sun isn't "dogma". It, like evolution, is what you get when you look at the evidence, without prejudice. You telling me to "get over [my]self" is very non-deserved arrogance on your part.

I thought that my comment "I don't know whether to laugh or cry..." would have given you a chance to clarify your statement "extremism of the violent strain like Islam, and atheism". If you want me to offer a counter argument, you could at least have made an argument. All you've done is claim that atheism is a violent strain of extremism. I thought you wouldn't make such an absurd statement, then stand by it, all without offering even a commentary on what you meant and why.

Cheers,
Chris

Rhology said...

this somehow means I "moved the goalposts" or I "misspoke".

"Clarifying" by changing the terms of the discussion. Coming back to correct yourself after the fact is the very definition of misspeaking, moving the goalposts. It's no biggie; however, the fact that you are apparently too proud to admit it and move on is not a confidence-booster.



you're saying there's no way to prove that evidence is the best way to discover truth, as trying to do so degenerates into a circular proof. Sounds right to me.

Fair enough.
This leads you, however, to one of the problems I stated there:
Since he has chosen a faith-based position for his First Principle, why not just go with "faith is the best way to discover truth"? Obviously evidence failed him in this question and faith resolved the problem. Why not just stick with that? Why go with what failed him in this most important, overarching question of First Principle?

And you were just now saying that "Dogmatic faith in things not in evidence" is a bad thing. Yet you yourself have dogmatic faith in things not in evidence. So you condemn your own position. Maybe it's time for you to change positions.



I understand the bible better than you where it matters

Haha, time will tell.



My nephew could name all of Santa's reindeers (I can't), but it doesn't mean he knows the important bit about Santa.

Actually, yes it does. It doesn't mean he KNOWS Santa exists, but he knows ABOUT Santa.
Either way, the smart money's on that I know a great deal more about the God of the Bible than you do.



would you actually use our earth logic to show that they're not contradictions ?

I linked you to the article where I define the terms. If you won't read it, I don't know why I should expect you to read what I write here any better.



Or do you leave open the possibility that "God can make 3=4, therefore the contradiction you see isn't really one

God can't make 3=4.
However, many/most/all "contradictions" you're going to cite (should you take up the challenge) will be apparent difficulties, not actual ones. And your biting on the appearance is mostly your fault.



I know you're going to try to BS your way out of it

Much like you completely wasted your own professed worldview at the beginning of this comment?
Since you started off by coming after "faith" and then threw your own attack under the bus just one comment later, I admit to a great deal of curiosity as to your worldview. Mind sharing it with us, just a few lines? I'm a Reformed Baptist, inerrantist, converted from hard agnostic/soft atheist, raised in a fairly liberal Christian household.



Because using actual logic wouldn't allow you to do so.

[shrug] I don't know what you mean by this. You're just guessing until you cite me doing so.



The link you gave me does not give me high hopes of a reasonable response.

What is "reasonable" to you? Be sure to let me know how you know what is reasonable and what is not.
Is it "that which matches up to my dogmatic faith position"?



You don't believe in following old testament punishments and prohibitions ...any more.

Meh, you're kinda close, but off in a few significant ways.


So, genocide isn't an atrocity...I don't want to get into arguments about the meaning of the word "atrocity"

I do. "Atrocity" is a word pregnant with moral meaning, but I don't know what moral standard you're measuring the action described in the OT against. What is it?



They're not intrinsically linked you know.

Granted. Just tell me you're not interested in defending it and I won't bring it up anymore.



people are more likely to accept reality if they haven't dogmatically accepted the claims of the bible

Since the Bible describes ultimate reality in a far more clear and accurate sense than does atheism, there's no way that's true.


I think you need to study evolution or even just science a little.

Ah, thank you. I've never studied any science or evolution. Ever. So, I'll be glad to follow your advice.


It, like evolution, is what you get when you look at the evidence, without prejudice.

Precisely. Evolution doesn't fit the evidence, that's why I don't hold to it.


All you've done is claim that atheism is a violent strain of extremism.

Please let me know, then, how atheism can't lead logically to a violent lifestyle, how it necessarily leads one to be a nice person.
My argument is this: atheism provides no meaning. It provides no OUGHT to ANYthing. It is only descriptive. Therefore, whether one chooses to be an atheist Mother Theresa and take care of poor, oppressed people all one's life, or whether one is Stalin and puts 20 million people to death, as well as raping all the victims' children personally and crossbreeding them with dogs, it makes no difference. There is no good nor bad, except in the mind of the individual, but it is different per individual, and each one is equal, because each one exists. There is no OUGHT TO nor any OUGHT NOT TO, there just IS.
Now, why is that wrong? Is it wrong?

Chris (from Oz) said...

You claim I have dogmatic faith in things not in evidence. I'm afraid not. Perhaps you could explain why you think I do.

Unfortunately time won't tell which of us is right, because once you're dead, you can't experience whether you're right or not. Only if there were an afterlife. Which is unlikely.

I do agree that you know more of the bible than I do. You're very likely to have read it more than the 2 or 3 times I have done so.

Much like you completely wasted your own professed worldview at the beginning of this comment?

I wasn't aware I professed a worldview recently, except if stating I was an atheist counts. This doesn't count as wasting though, so please let me know what you mean by that.

[shrug] I don't know what you mean by this. You're just guessing until you cite me doing so.

No, because I did actually read the link you sent, and it's not the first time I've been here.

You ask what's "reasonable" to me. I suppose it's when "reason" is used. Linked with being rational.

Regarding evolution you said "Granted. Just tell me you're not interested in defending it and I won't bring it up anymore. "

It doesn't need defending, and I'm not interested in it at this point in the conversation. There are other topics less open to interpretation of the evidence.

Since the Bible describes ultimate reality in a far more clear and accurate sense than does atheism, there's no way that's true.

Hmm, well I'd personally have to agree that the bible describes reality more clearly and accurately than atheism does, is that surprising ? It is of course because atheism doesn't describe anything. It's the position of not having a belief in a God. The bible does unfortunately along with the descriptions of reality, contain descriptions of fantasy. You'd be better off with a high school physics book.

Rhology, you said that atheism is a violent strain of extremism, and when pressed, want proof that it can't lead logically to a violent lifestyle, that it leads one to being a nice person ? Bit of a stretch don't you think. You're smarter than that, I know you are.

But, I'll spell it out. Atheism doesn't lead anywhere. It has no commandments. To be lead into a violent lifestyle, you need a trigger to actually lead you there. Atheism is the lack of a trigger. It neither prohibits violence, nor promotes it. And similarly it doesn't lead to or away from being a nice person.

Now if you want to look at the real world, and statistics about who are the nicer, less violent people, then that's an interesting question which I don't think theists come out on top of.

And you of course talk about the "ought". Yep, there's no fundamental "ought". You're right. Some of us live just fine like that. Others prefer the reassurance of living according to a particular strict idiology.

Now, as for the biblical contradictions you wanted, I think just one will do. I'm quite sure you've rationalised them all already, and it will be easy for you to trot out your answer, which is fine with me. I don't want to waste the time of either of us. But it will make we aware of the type of thinking you manage to consider as reasonable, so I think it's worth it. You didn't answer my question about that earlier, so an example is probably the only way. Feel free to link to another post or site if you like.

How many languages were there in the world before the tower of Babel ?
GE 10:5, 20, 31 There were many languages before the Tower of Babel.
GE 11:1 There was only one language before the Tower of Babel.

You asked about my worldview. I don't know if the following qualifies as a worldview, but a few things about me: I grew up as a catholic, when to Sunday School for a couple of years, went to a catholic school from grade 5 to 12. Went to church when someone took me (not too often). Got confirmed, communion, confirmation, all of that while at school. At university dated a happy-clappy Christian for a couple of years, and attended her church most weekends. Tried to get into it, did all the stuff to try to believe, but it didn't take. I realised what a joke it all is, and have been a self described atheist ever since.

Cheers,
Chris

Rhology said...

Howdy,

BTW, is Oz a place? Or a play on the Wizard of? Just curious.


Perhaps you could explain why you think I do.

You take your principle that evidence is a good way to discover truth on faith. Let me illustrate.
The statement is: Evidence is the best way for humans to approximate truth.

I want to determine whether that statement is true.
I therefore subject it to its own test.
I ask: What is the evidence for that?

An answer is provided.
I then want to determine whether *that* statement is true.
I ask: What is the evidence for that?

An answer is provided.
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An answer is provided.
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Etc.
If you have any doubts, just keep going. And going. And going... Let me know when you reach the bottom.



Only if there were an afterlife. Which is unlikely.

Hmm, what is your evidence for its unlikelihood?


I do agree that you know more of the bible than I do

Fair enough.
Yet you had said:
I understand the bible better than you where it matters

I take this latest statement as a concession of the point.


I wasn't aware I professed a worldview recently, except if stating I was an atheist counts

Yeah, it counts.
What I meant, though, was this idea that evidence is a good way to discover truth. That is part of your worldview, and you threw it under the bus in that statement I cited.


You ask what's "reasonable" to me. I suppose it's when "reason" is used.

But as an atheist, you lack any standard to know whether the reasoning you use is correct reasoning, whether of process or of product.
I use reason to come to the conclusion that TGOTB is real. You use reason to think of your principle of evidence that leads to an impossibility - that of an infinite regress. So, which is correct, and how do you know?

I know, b/c I think the way God thinks. God models the example of how correct reasoning is used and is to be used. But that option is not available to you (but it could be).


I'm not interested in it at this point in the conversation.

OK. I won't bring it up if you won't.


I'd personally have to agree that the bible describes reality more clearly and accurately than atheism does, is that surprising ? It is of course because atheism doesn't describe anything.

Interesting.
Which leads to the question - what is your worldview? I asked you before and here you give a brief history, which is interesting enough, and I thank you for it, but it doesn't answer the question.
What is the grid thru which you view the world? You deny 'atheism' has any content, so what is the content of your worldview? Is it based on "evidence is the best way to discover truth"? Something else?


You'd be better off with a high school physics book.

Which doesn't even get close to answering the questions I pose here, on how we know stuff. It describes how the physical world USUALLY works. Nah, Bible's better.


you said that atheism is a violent strain of extremism, and when pressed, want proof that it can't lead logically to a violent lifestyle, that it leads one to being a nice person ? Bit of a stretch don't you think.

It's a stretch for YOU, which is good, and for which I'm thankful.
But for many many people in history that hasn't been a stretch at all, but rather they realised that violence was one of many logical conclusions/outcomes of atheism.
Think about it - you just got thru saying that atheism has virtually no content. So an atheist - whether he decides to be nice or to be violent, what does he have to inform him on which is better?



Atheism is the lack of a trigger

No, atheism is the lack of a god.


It neither prohibits violence, nor promotes it

Precisely. And it neither prohibits altruism, nor promotes it.
If I gave 33.33% of my millions (I'm independently wealthy) (not really) to Greenpeace/Ma Theresa/pick your favorite charity, 33.33% to the Fascist Us-Only Front For Mankind's Violent Destruction with special earmarks "For use in purchasing chemical and bio-weapons only, to be used on children only", and 33.33% to my own personal private gratification, am I a bad guy, a good guy, or a whatever? Which?


Yep, there's no fundamental "ought".

Fair enough - so it's impossible to say "you ought not to torture Chris from Oz's child for fun", right?


Some of us live just fine like that. Others prefer the reassurance of living according to a particular strict idiology.

Still others like to think thru stuff to their logical conclusions rather than assume things just b/c that's what everyone else does.


Biblical 'contradiction' - you were the one who brought it up. I challenged you, and now you seem to be copping out. Your choice.

How many languages were there in the world before the tower of Babel ?
GE 10:5, 20, 31 There were many languages before the Tower of Babel.
GE 11:1 There was only one language before the Tower of Babel.


Gen 10:5 From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.
Gen 10:20 These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.
Gen 10:31 These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations.

Gen 11:1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.

You are apparently laboring under the misconception that 10 is in definite chronological order before 11. Ch 10 is a genealogy, describing many succeeding generations of people, and encompasses the time of 11 as well as surpassing it. No doubt the author was describing the predominant state of these nations with diff languages over the majority of the course of that time covered by the genealogies.

Thing is, Chris from Oz, they're almost ALL like that. These Bible difficulties are virtually always the result of someone reading what they think should be in the text or introducing foreign concepts into the text or refusing to read it in context. You read other people's writings every day with that kind of thinking in place, and because you hate the Bible, you abandon it when it comes to the Bible. It doesn't speak well to your intellectual honesty.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris (from Oz) said...

Rhology,

Oz is Australia. I used to be just "Chris", but there was another one of me over at Ray Comfort's, so I added my origin.

You take your principle that evidence is a good way to discover truth on faith.

No, I see that it works better than anything else. The day I claim it can be proven without being circular, harass me for a proof.

But as an atheist, you lack any standard to know whether the reasoning you use is correct reasoning, whether of process or of product.

Yep. I'm not 100% sure of anything, except that I can be wrong.

I use reason to come to the conclusion that TGOTB is real.

Hmm, well it's not the same reason as we use here on earth....

You use reason to think of your principle of evidence that leads to an impossibility - that of an infinite regress.

Where did God come from ? If you think he's always been here, or he created himself, then obviously infinite regresses aren't as impossible to you as you claim.

God models the example of how correct reasoning is used and is to be used. But that option is not available to you (but it could be).

Believe what the bible says, and otherwise use human reasoning ? Or is the model something else ?

Yes, I believe evidence is the best way to discover truth, in general. Although guessing which card I'm holding will be quicker and more accurate 1 time out of 52 than actually spending time turning the card around to see it.

Using evidence you can approach a single right answer, whereas the alternative of guessing just gives you lots of answers equally unlikely.

Anyway, I'm not sure what a "worldview" is technically (nor how you'd use my answer in the future), so I won't state that my opinion on the utility of evidence is a worldview.

Thanks for answering the contradiction. I better understand your techniques now.

Out of interest - why did God choose to make his book so complicated and seemingly contradictory ? Test of faith or something ?

Rhology said...

Howdy,

Ah, I see. You have frequented Comfort's blog? That place is crazy. I dig Comfort in many situations, and in others find him a bit...dunno.

I see that it works better than anything else.

That's an assumption you're making there. Provide evidence that it works better than anythg else.
Indeed, the arguments I've offered would seem to be evidence AGAINST that very thing. See the problem? To use evidence, you have to appeal to something (or someone) more basic. It's along the same lines as your problem with morality - you have to have a standard. Your own mind won't cut it.


The day I claim it can be proven without being circular, harass me for a proof.

So it's circular.
Why should circular reasoning like this be impressive to anyone who's weighing the arguments for and against?


I'm not 100% sure of anything

Including, one would assume, the statement that "I see that it works better than anything else". Once again, I'm underwhelmed with the power of your principle.


Where did God come from ?

Nowhere, He is immaterial. He doesn't "come" "from" "anywhere". He has always been, and He is omnipresent.


then obviously infinite regresses aren't as impossible to you as you claim.

God is not an infinite regress. He is the foundation, the ultimate principle. The buck doesn't keep receding into the distance - the buck STOPS with Him. It's 100% different.


Believe what the bible says, and otherwise use human reasoning ?

Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean here. Could you restate it?


Using evidence you can approach a single right answer, whereas the alternative of guessing just gives you lots of answers equally unlikely.

I agree 100%. But my claim (which is so far looking pretty good) is that God's existence is necessary for this to be the case.


Thanks for answering the contradiction. I better understand your techniques now.

No problem.
Yeah, my techniques are called "normal textual hermeneutics", much like the technique you're using right now to read this blog post and the comments, and to respond.


why did God choose to make his book so complicated and seemingly contradictory ? Test of faith or something ?

I should think there a lot of answers to these questions. I'll give it a shot.
1) Complicated - God has a lot to say. I'm glad - it means a whole lifetime of study of God's Word will not exhaust His self-revelation. It would stink to run out of things to know about God.
Plus, He's really big and knows an awful lot, whereas I'm not only very limited in knowledge, wisdom, and vision, alot of what I *do* know is all screwed up.
2) Seemingly contradictory - that would be the reader's fault, not God's. This is the "Perfect Computer Manual" fallacy.
It is a non sequitur to claim that the perfect computer manual is actually imperfect just b/c people don't read it, don't read part of it, believe some other document or person over and above it, forget or ignore part of it, etc.
3) Test of faith - partly, yes. I have more than enough good reason to believe that TGOTB exists and is truthful, but I don't know everythg about Him or the world, etc. Believing what He has said when, for example, He says He will provide for what I need in the future, despite the fact that my bank account is not where I'd like it to be, is an example of a test of faith.

Chris (from Oz) said...

Comfort is a dishonest, wilfully ignorant loon.

To use evidence, you have to appeal to something (or someone) more basic.

No. To try to prove that evidence is fundamental, you have to appeal to something more basic. I'm not attempting that proof, as you've quite handily demonstrated it's circular.
What I'm doing is USING evidence. And I've explained why.

It's along the same lines as your problem with morality - you have to have a standard. Your own mind won't cut it.

Really ? I don't have any problems with morality. You might have a problem with accepting that morals aren't absolute, but I'm fine with it. My own mind cuts it for me, and for all of my friends and family.

The day I claim it can be proven without being circular, harass me for a proof.

Why should circular reasoning like this be impressive to anyone who's weighing the arguments for and against?

Circular reasoning should never be impressive. It seems that you missed my point, which is that I'm not claiming I can prove it. I accept that.

I'm not 100% sure of anything

Including, one would assume, the statement that "I see that it works better than anything else". Once again, I'm underwhelmed with the power of your principle.


Yes, I'm open to seeing something that works better. Bring it.
Sorry that the lack of the absolutes you desire is underwhelming for you.

But my claim (which is so far looking pretty good) is that God's existence is necessary for this to be the case.

Only because we haven't addressed your claim. So far you've just been interrogating me. We haven't addressed your claim or reasoning in much detail.

So, want to provide a link to the most concise explanation of your claim ? One that doesn't have any circular reasoning, or a basis less reasonable than the "evidence+reason approaches truth" basis ?

Yeah, my techniques are called "normal textual hermeneutics", much like the technique you're using right now to read this blog post and the comments, and to respond.

With one very large difference. I accept the possibility that writer of the blog (ie. you) can make mistakes. I therefore don't have to go to extreme intellectual lengths to make your words fit into a consistent narrative.

Seemingly contradictory - that would be the reader's fault, not God's.

Scientology has a similar view. When Hubbard's writings seem to be nonsense or contradictory, the student is required to sit down with a dictionary looking up words, continuing to waste time, and continuing to pay their hourly rate, until they say they understand it. The students either leave, or manage to compartmentalise their brain, to believe multiple opposing things at the same time.

Dr Funkenstein said...

this is the "Perfect Computer Manual" fallacy.

I don't buy this one, as surely part of the criteria for claiming the manual's perfection would be that it could be understood properly by anyone? Since this isn't the case for the Bible (due to differing theologies and people who consider parts of it to be in error), then a better manual could potentially exist (ie one that everyone everywhere could properly understand and that is coherent with itself and other historical documentation) and therefore the one in question is not perfect.

Rhology said...

To try to prove that evidence is fundamental, you have to appeal to something more basic.

Correct - faith.
Just so long as you don't agree with the moronic statements made by the likes of the No More Hornets crowd and PZ Myers - that atheism is faith-free or that your blog or whatever is a faith-free zone.


You might have a problem with accepting that morals aren't absolute, but I'm fine with it. My own mind cuts it for me, and for all of my friends and family.

Which is great until someone comes along who does not hold to the exact same moral mores as you.
This is why my scenario is so useful, to point out how this view is completely inadequate.


Sorry that the lack of the absolutes you desire is underwhelming for you.

No problem - I'll just keep it in mind for later. You might object to something - say, the inerrancy of the Bible - and I'll just respond that, hey, it works better than anything else for me. You'll then be obliged to agree and offer no argument.


So, want to provide a link to the most concise explanation of your claim ? One that doesn't have any circular reasoning

No, I would never claim that my position doesn't include circular reasoning, but rather than mine is self-justifying.
Here you go. If you have limited time, start under the "Philosophical Application" heading.


I therefore don't have to go to extreme intellectual lengths to make your words fit into a consistent narrative.

I'm not asking you to do that with the Bible, but just to allow for the possibility of harmonisation, like you do for any other text and like you demand for your own writings. If it can be harmonised, it should be considered that harmonisation is preferable to flat-out cries of "contradiction!"


When Hubbard's writings seem to be nonsense or contradictory, the student is required to sit down with a dictionary looking up words

I'll be happy to put the Bible up against Hubbard's trash any time. Cast aspersions as you like, let the reader judge (if they have the stomach to read Hubbard).


manage to compartmentalise their brain, to believe multiple opposing things at the same time.

And there's the key. Interestingly, you do that as an atheist, but I don't have to do that. It's a nice place to be in.




Dr Funk said:
surely part of the criteria for claiming the manual's perfection would be that it could be understood properly by anyone?

Granted.
And that's just the point - it IS understandable to anyone, and therefore how much greater is the guilt of the one who refuses to understand it!


Since this isn't the case for the Bible (due to differing theologies and people who consider parts of it to be in error)

You're shifting problems with the reader back onto the text. You have to find problems inherent to the TEXT, not to the reader - that's the whole point. You're pointing out flaws in the reader, and I fully grant that.
One doesn't go TO the Bible with a theology. One must draw one's theology out FROM it. So that's a reader problem.
One who considers parts of it in error comes to it with preconceived notions - again, reader.


one that everyone everywhere could properly understand and that is coherent with itself and other historical documentation

But I don't grant that the Bible doesn't fit this description. What is your argument?

Chris (from Oz) said...

You might have a problem with accepting that morals aren't absolute, but I'm fine with it. My own mind cuts it for me, and for all of my friends and family.

Which is great until someone comes along who does not hold to the exact same moral mores as you.
This is why my scenario is so useful, to point out how this view is completely inadequate.


There are plenty of people who don't hold the exact same moral mores as me. Some of them I just choose to not associate with. Some I would actively prevent from associating with my friends and family. And some are in jail.
Real life isn't inadequate.

Continuing to hold on to some grand ideal of there being an absolute morality, that's what's inadequate.
The fact that people do hold different morals, and that society isn't perfect, and that it necessitates locking some people in jail, is reality.

You might object to something - say, the inerrancy of the Bible - and I'll just respond that, hey, it works better than anything else for me. You'll then be obliged to agree and offer no argument.

I'm afraid not. I'd ask for proof that it works the best for you, and discuss examples in your life. Now, it's possible that it does work the best for you. You might be one of these scary people who would go crazy and start killing people if you lost the controlling belief in God. If I thought that were true, I'd conceed the bible works best for you.

But since I don't believe that, then I'd push for discussion.

I would never claim that my position doesn't include circular reasoning, but rather than mine is self-justifying.

Great! Then why do you have such a problem with the circular reasoning presented for the utility of evidence ? It's self-justifying too.

Sorry, I don't have time right now for your link...

'm not asking you to do that with the Bible, but just to allow for the possibility of harmonisation, like you do for any other text and like you demand for your own writings.

I like harmonisation for my own writings, sure. But I know I don't always achieve it, and when I see that I haven't, I admit the mistake and don't twist things to attempt a harmonisation.

If it can be harmonised, it should be considered that harmonisation is preferable to flat-out cries of "contradiction!"

Not when we know that there were many authors, that the texts were edited, and the writers were human. There's no reason to believe that there is a consistent narrative hiding behind it, waiting to be set free. You look at the passages and try to figure out why there were written like that. You go where the evidence leads.

I'll be happy to put the Bible up against Hubbard's trash any time. Cast aspersions as you like, let the reader judge (if they have the stomach to read Hubbard).

In terms of literary quality, I'd agree the bible wins. In terms of actual consistency with reality and itself..... Hmm. That's a tough one.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Granted.
And that's just the point - it IS understandable to anyone, and therefore how much greater is the guilt of the one who refuses to understand it!


That's the problem though - it clearly isn't. To use an example we've discussed before, the Gen1 vs 2 harmonisation - you hypothesised a 2nd creation not mentioned in the story (as I recall) as one way of doing it. However, someone neutral, or at least without a strong Christian bias, might just say 'well now you're simply making up your own version of the story, or making it fit the way you want it to fit - anyone could do that, it's hardly objective.'

This is before we even get on to the multiple Christian theologies proposed in the last 2 millenia (and longer if you consider aspects of OT theologies derived from Judaism as well). Then if you move on to scholars, you have other things to consider - for example, I'm reading Bart Ehrman's book on the historical Jesus at the moment, and he is one of many that considers that Jesus expected God to overthrow the wicked and bring about his Kingdom on Earth during his (Jesus') generation based on e.g.s such as

Mark 9:1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

which obviously didn't happen, a message that gradually got watered down through the gospels.


People for centuries since have found more and more elaborate ways of predicting the apocalypse based on their reading of the bible - again, none of which has happened (Edgar Whisenant, a NASA rocket engineer, is used as one example in the book, and has made several failed predcitions as to when the world will end - all based on analysis of the bible).

Then you have basic factual errors:

eg. it considers bats as a 'kind' of bird (Leviticus I think):

one might reply 'well they fly'. OK, but many birds don't fly.
one may then reply 'well it has wings' - OK, but so do a flying squirrel and a drosophila fly - are flies and squirrels birds?
and so on

I don't see how a reasonable person could consider this sort of thing as anything but error/lack of knowledge on the writer's part, which is obviously at odds with the claim the text is a tome of God-breated inerrancy.

You're shifting problems with the reader back onto the text. You have to find problems inherent to the TEXT, not to the reader - that's the whole point. You're pointing out flaws in the reader, and I fully grant that.

Possibly, but again this is an inherent problem with the claim of perfection - the idea is very subjective. To you, any misunderstanding is a flaw on the part of the reader's senses (which doesn't really fit that well with other claims you've made such as the EAAN, and that God controls everything that comes to pass - how can a reader be blamed for God not engineering the situation so that he would obtain the correct understanding?). To me, the fact that the book has led someone to misunderstand is partly a flaw on the part of the book/language generally, due to ambiguities etc - my opinion is that a part of its perfection should be an ability to lead anyone to the correct conclusion upon reading it thoroughly - now you might have reasonable grounds to conclude someone like me who who only has a passing knowledge of it simply hasn't read it thoroughly enough (although, that's not to say I haven't at least made some effort to read and understand it), but you couldn't really level that same accusation against well versed theologians, scholars and clergymen that disagree with your views.

Another example of where the text causes problems for the reader is the differing translations, eg Acts 5:30 changes quite obviously through various versions:

http://bible.cc/acts/5-30.htm

some examples:

KJV - "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."

NASB - "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.

ISV - "The God of our ancestors raised Jesus to life after you killed him by hanging him on a tree."

That's 3 quite different meanings there in the latter parts of those sentences as to what happened with Jesus.

One doesn't go TO the Bible with a theology. One must draw one's theology out FROM it. So that's a reader problem.
One who considers parts of it in error comes to it with preconceived notions - again, reader.


I agree on the first part, but not the second - why would one automatically assume a book to be inerrant simply because someone tells them it is? It could be, but noone can know this before reading it surely? I'd also argue that I don't see why anyone should be expected to be overly generous when filling in gaps/making up harmonisations - if you're having to do this from the first couple of pages of a book that's 1000 or so pages long, . Even if they were, it would be easy enough for two people (in some instances at least) to come up with 2 different harmonisations - all you have then are two more conflicting stories to deal with ie the problem just regresses a step.

But I don't grant that the Bible doesn't fit this description. What is your argument?

If the bible makes the claim that event X happened at time Y in history, and provides details of which historical figures or details were involved, then surely it makes sense to check against other historical documentation to ensure that was the case? A good example where the bible appears to be accurate is the dating of the Siloam tunnel - its existence is attested to by a historical claim (in 2 Kings), 2 independent dating methods and an archaeological site. So, no real problem of accepting that as a fact for most people I should think.

An example of the opposite (or at least an area where there is a lot of debate) from 2 of the gospels is that Jesus is proposed to have been born at a time when Quirinius was governor of Syria and also when Herod was alive - however, many scholars argue that, based on various historical sources, Herod died several years before Quirinius was governor.

If it can be harmonised, it should be considered that harmonisation is preferable to flat-out cries of "contradiction!"

Whys is that though? Fair enough I'm open to granting a little leeway, but other than dogmatically adhering to inerrancy, why should biblical literalists not expect to be taken to task for making the story fit their preconceptions - the non-Christian has plenty justification for saying 'you're just making up your own version of events', since that is exactly what the inerrantist is doing.

Dr Funkenstein said...

oops, forgot to finish this sentence off:

...if you're having to do this from the first couple of pages of a book that's 1000 or so pages long, the Christian is expecting a lot of generosity to be thrown his way in order to make the thing the 100% coherent proposition he says it is in allowing him to make claims that are totally unverifiable such as the one you made for Gen1 vs 2.

Rhology said...

Chris (from Oz) said...

Real life isn't inadequate.

More IS/OUGHT confusion.


Continuing to hold on to some grand ideal of there being an absolute morality, that's what's inadequate.

Argument?


The fact that people do hold different morals, and that society isn't perfect, and that it necessitates locking some people in jail, is reality.

And apparently it is also reality that we can't know whether we OUGHT to lock certain perpetrators in jail or not.


then I'd push for discussion.

And what would be the standard for deciding the OUGHT-ness of Action X?


the utility of evidence ? It's self-justifying too.

Far from it - I've already gone over that in detail.


I like harmonisation for my own writings, sure.

But apparently you won't allow it for the Bible. Bias.


But I know I don't always achieve it, and when I see that I haven't, I admit the mistake and don't twist things to attempt a harmonisation.

No one would disagree that there's such a thing as harmonisation and another as contradiction. Contradiction exists when harmonisation is impossible. I agree with that.


Not when we know that there were many authors, that the texts were edited, and the writers were human.

Just b/c you say so? What is your argument?


There's no reason to believe that there is a consistent narrative hiding behind it,

Except the fact there is a consistent narrative behind it, maybe?
Like Jesus redeeming a lost world from its self-inflicted death by sin, for example. The ignorance of an overcritical reader like you doesn't affect the existence of the narrative.




Dr Funkenstein said...

Gen1 vs 2 harmonisation - you hypothesised a 2nd creation not mentioned in the story (as I recall) as one way of doing it.

Here is what I actually said, for future reference.


might just say 'well now you're simply making up your own version of the story, or making it fit the way you want it to fit - anyone could do that, it's hardly objective.'

I can't stop people from saying that; all I can do is present a reasonable option for harmonisation from the text itself. Which is what I've done.


considers that Jesus expected God to overthrow the wicked and bring about his Kingdom on Earth during his (Jesus') generation based on e.g.s such as

Mark 9:1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

which obviously didn't happen


And what happened just a few days after? The Transfiguration!
Besides, "the kingdom of God in power" does not refer to only one thing in the NT. It also refers to the advent of the New Covenant and the Holy Spirit changing people's hearts thru the Gospel, for example.


predicting the apocalypse based on their reading of the bible - again, none of which has happened

They do so in direct contradiction to Christ's own words, that no one knows the day or hour. That's what I mean by the Perfect Comp Manual fallacy! This is an obvious back-turning on the explicit statement of the BIble.


bats=birds

Read this.
Remember, I only allow each interlocutor 5 examples of "biblical contradictions" before I stop answering them. Make sure, if you present any more, that they're your best. I don't put up with this kind of death-warmed-over, decades-old and decades-refuted stuff forever.


To you, any misunderstanding is a flaw on the part of the reader's senses

B/c I have good reason to believe it is God speaking.


how can a reader be blamed for God not engineering the situation so that he would obtain the correct understanding?

1) B/c God said the reader is.
2) B/c God has made it sufficiently clear.
3) You have again forgotten to take sin and the Fall into account. It's a bad habit of yours...


Another example of where the text causes problems for the reader is the differing translations

You do know the difference between translation, transmission, and interpretation, don't you?
Translation difficulties are due to limitations of the translator, not accountable to the text.


That's 3 quite different meanings there in the latter parts of those sentences as to what happened with Jesus.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other references to the event of the Crucifixion that do not contain such translation difficulties.
Many is the time when discoveries are made that advances the knowledge of NT Greek and OT Hebrew and LXX Greek.
One relatively recent example is the Granville Sharp rule.


why would one automatically assume a book to be inerrant simply because someone tells them it is?

I don't, but it's not that "someone" told me it is, it's b/c I have good reason to believe it's God speaking.


but noone can know this before reading it surely?

Oh, I don't know, perhaps. But I *HAVE* read it, so...


I don't see why anyone should be expected to be overly generous when filling in gaps/making up harmonisations

B/c I have good reason to believe it's God speaking.
And b/c I always find flaws in reasoning or assumption on the part of the critic. I've been at this a long time.


to come up with 2 different harmonisations

Different does not always mean conflicting, as you should know.
Sometimes disagreements occur, sure. That doesn't mean it's the text's fault. It's our fault for not understanding better. Sin. The Fall. The world isn't perfect yet, you know?


If the bible makes the claim that event X happened at time Y in history, and provides details of which historical figures or details were involved, then surely it makes sense to check against other historical documentation to ensure that was the case?

I'd agree. And it's been done over and over again.


Quirinius

Read this.


the Christian is expecting a lot of generosity to be thrown his way

I disagree. I'm just asking for the possibility of harmonisation not to be euthanised at the first opportunity, which is what I see from most every "contradiction" I've ever encountered.

Chris (from Oz) said...

Real life isn't inadequate.

More IS/OUGHT confusion.


Yes, by you. I'm not confused at all.

And apparently it is also reality that we can't know whether we OUGHT to lock certain perpetrators in jail or not.

I can know whether we ought to, sometimes. Other times it's not so clear cut.

And what would be the standard for deciding the OUGHT-ness of Action X?

I don't believe in "ought-ness". (And, no, I'm not being pedantic).

I like harmonisation for my own writings, sure.

But apparently you won't allow it for the Bible. Bias.


Did you even read the following sentence before you commented on this one ? In case you really did miss the point: harmonisation is nice, but not assured, for myself, and the bible.

Not when we know that there were many authors, that the texts were edited, and the writers were human.

Just b/c you say so? What is your argument?


Which of the 3 parts of the sentence do you disagree with ?

...there is a consistent narrative behind it, maybe?
Like Jesus redeeming a lost world from its self-inflicted death by sin, for example. The ignorance of an overcritical reader like you doesn't affect the existence of the narrative.


You don't think that a book which claims to speak for the creator of the universe, and orders life-changing behaviours, and information on the after-life and what you have to do to chose between heaven and hell, should be read critically ?
You think it's harsh for people to not believe such a book, when it is more confusing and requiring of brain-twisting "harmonisation" than 99% of fiction novels published each year by humans. Even when you'd expect a book directed by a god to be a pretty good piece of work ?

There's over-critical, critical, accepting, over-accepting, and then there's what you have - which is a blind refusal to accept any critisism of a sub-standard piece of fiction.

Rhology said...

Chris (from Oz) said...
Yes, by you. I'm not confused at all.

How was the confusion on my part? Where did I confuse the two?


I can know whether we ought to, sometimes.

How do you know when you ought to? That's what I've been trying to find out from you all this time.


I don't believe in "ought-ness".

You are a confused mess. Does it not occur to you that denying "ought-ness" means that you CAN'T indeed know when one ought to do anything, like what you said above?


Which of the 3 parts of the sentence do you disagree with ?

That the texts were edited - I need to know exactly what you mean by that. Most people don't understand what they're saying when they say that.
That the writers were human - they WERE human, yes, but humans weren't the only agents responsible. The Holy Spirit inspired them.


should be read critically ?

Sure it should. That doesn't mean harmonisation is therefore automatically ruled out.


You think it's harsh for people to not believe such a book, when it is more confusing and requiring of brain-twisting "harmonisation" than 99% of fiction novels published each year by humans.

I simply deny that. It makes plenty of sense to me and most of my friends. It can take a little practice, sure, but that's easily attributable to my public screwel edjamakashun. I had to learn to think critically mostly after high school.

Chris (from Oz) said...

Yes, by you. I'm not confused at all.

How was the confusion on my part? Where did I confuse the two?


You're confusing yourself with the holding on of your desired absolute morality.

You are a confused mess. Does it not occur to you that denying "ought-ness" means that you CAN'T indeed know when one ought to do anything, like what you said above?

I reject your definition of the word "ought", and am not bound by your use of it. You use it in an absolute way, which I've already informed you on multiple occasions is not valid. There is no absolute arbitor. Hence any use of it which isn't emphasised, I use as normal speech. That is, not endorsed by the creator of the universe.

That the texts were edited - I need to know exactly what you mean by that.

That the stories we see written in the bibles today are not the same as the first drafts written thousands of years ago. Not even counting the translation changes.

That the writers were human - they WERE human, yes, but humans weren't the only agents responsible. The Holy Spirit inspired them.

I'm yet to see proof of that.