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Author Topic:   Catholics & Inerrancy
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 76 of 89 (616498)
05-22-2011 10:41 PM
Reply to: Message 75 by GDR
05-22-2011 7:09 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
Of course trust can be misplaced and I can't prove that my trust in God isn't.

Ok, so then we've established that it's not really the evidence that leads to your belief; it's a function of something else.

Because it feels good? Because it's what your parents taught you? You'd have to be more specific, but I suspect if you take a long hard look at why belief in God is in your life, you'll see that it's not on the basis of any intellectually-compelling evidence, but on the basis of some emotional fulfillment you get from belief. An irrational basis, in other words.

I contend that there is evidence that leads us to the conclusion that the verse I just quoted is something worthwhile on which to base our lives, whether we be Christian, Muslim, Atheist or anything else.

Doing justice and appreciating kindness have secular merit which everybody recognizes. They're not evidence in support of any system of belief.

I agree that I'm not special nor particularly bright.

I apologize if I have you the impression that I was belittling you. I really don't mean to say "you're not special" in the sense of you not being bright or something, I just mean that you're not a special type of person who is any less susceptible to mistake, misperception, or even outright temporary mental illness and hallucination than any other human being whose impassioned personal accounts of their interactions with the divine might nonetheless be met with skepticism by you or any other reasonable person.

I think too that what is implicit in your post is the idea that my theological views make me right with God, and the fact that as you don't hold those views you are doomed for eternity

That's not really what I'm getting at. What I'm saying is, if someone came to you and told you all about how they had direct contact with Vishnu, how they had all these experiences that proved that Vishnu existed and was the one true God, you would be skeptical of these accounts. I know you would be because you're a Christian and not a Hindu - presumably, as part of that, you learned at least something about the world's other religions but determined that they either weren't right, or weren't right for you. (I don't know precisely where you stand on religious pluralism, but it's a matter of logic that the world's mutually contradicting religions can't all be right. Some of them have to be in error, and I presume you believe that it's the religions you're not a believer in that you believe are wrong, because what kind of believer thinks his own religion is wrong?)

Plus, you warned me that I probably wouldn't put much stock in your evidence.

So, you have all this evidence for your beliefs. But, you recognize that if it was another person of another religion who had all this evidence instead of you, you wouldn't find it very compelling. You wouldn't find it convincing at all.

But what does it matter who has the evidence? The evidence is the evidence; it doesn't matter who has it. If it's not compelling if it happened to a third-party Hindu, why should it be compelling just because it happened to you?

What's so special about you, that evidence that you have should be more compelling than evidence someone else has?

I don't try to explain other people's experience of God under any name except to say that if it isn't consistent with the message of God's desire that we love unselfishly, then I would have to question it.

So what's so special about you? If you'd question another person's experience with the divine, why shouldn't you question your own?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 75 by GDR, posted 05-22-2011 7:09 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 77 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 11:35 AM crashfrog has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 77 of 89 (616573)
05-23-2011 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 76 by crashfrog
05-22-2011 10:41 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
GDR writes:

Of course trust can be misplaced and I can't prove that my trust in God isn't.

crashfrog writes:

Ok, so then we've established that it's not really the evidence that leads to your belief; it's a function of something else.

Because it feels good? Because it's what your parents taught you? You'd have to be more specific, but I suspect if you take a long hard look at why belief in God is in your life, you'll see that it's not on the basis of any intellectually-compelling evidence, but on the basis of some emotional fulfillment you get from belief. An irrational basis, in other words.

Actually I started practicing Christianity around 32 years ago after reading CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity". Over time and with experience and experiences it became part of me and I became part of it. About 10 years ago I decided that I wanted to know more about my faith and I started reading. I read many books on theology including those with dissenting opinions and I started reading books on science as I view science as being a natural theology. All the reading I have done has definitely changed a number of things that I had previously believed but overall it has definitely reinforced my belief in the Christian gospel.

crashfrog writes:

Doing justice and appreciating kindness have secular merit which everybody recognizes. They're not evidence in support of any system of belief.

I agree that justice and kindness can be found in both the secular and the sacred. I just wanted to point out that it is the message of the Bible and that it is consistent with what most of us perceive to be true of the world. It isn't evidence that is going to convince you or anyone else on this forum but it is something to consider. Incidentally the original Buddha had the same message for his people.

crashfrog writes:

I apologize if I have you the impression that I was belittling you. I really don't mean to say "you're not special" in the sense of you not being bright or something, I just mean that you're not a special type of person who is any less susceptible to mistake, misperception, or even outright temporary mental illness and hallucination than any other human being whose impassioned personal accounts of their interactions with the divine might nonetheless be met with skepticism by you or any other reasonable person.

Thanks, but I didn't have that impression at all. I understood what you meant. I was merely pointing out that I agreed I wasn't special and just simply added to it that I didn't have the beliefs that I do because I'm overly bright.

crashfrog writes:

That's not really what I'm getting at. What I'm saying is, if someone came to you and told you all about how they had direct contact with Vishnu, how they had all these experiences that proved that Vishnu existed and was the one true God, you would be skeptical of these accounts. I know you would be because you're a Christian and not a Hindu - presumably, as part of that, you learned at least something about the world's other religions but determined that they either weren't right, or weren't right for you. (I don't know precisely where you stand on religious pluralism, but it's a matter of logic that the world's mutually contradicting religions can't all be right. Some of them have to be in error, and I presume you believe that it's the religions you're not a believer in that you believe are wrong, because what kind of believer thinks his own religion is wrong?)

I believe generally that all of the major religions of the world have some revelation of God at their core and then a whole bunch of stuff added on by mankind. The difference with Christianity is that God revealed Himself directly through the Man Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah. The basic message that we get from Jesus is that we are to love and care for all of God's creation and that the good that we do does have an ultimate purpose. The evidence for that is what is written in the Bible but I would add that our beautifully created world is evidence as well as what is written on the hearts of each of us. (I think that even for the most depraved they know at some basic level they are going against what they are created for.)

crashfrog writes:

So, you have all this evidence for your beliefs. But, you recognize that if it was another person of another religion who had all this evidence instead of you, you wouldn't find it very compelling. You wouldn't find it convincing at all.

I am open to evidence that there is truth in other faiths. The difference is in the man Jesus. The early Jews got a great many things about what God wanted of them wrong and it's all recorded in the OT which is an important part of the Christian Bible. Jesus tells us that.

crashfrog writes:

But what does it matter who has the evidence? The evidence is the evidence; it doesn't matter who has it. If it's not compelling if it happened to a third-party Hindu, why should it be compelling just because it happened to you?

The evidence is there for everyone. We can all do what we want with it. As I've said many times it isn't just Christians who are capable of unselfish love, and as Jesus clearly points out in the Bible that is what makes us right with God.

crashfrog writes:

What's so special about you, that evidence that you have should be more compelling than evidence someone else has?

Nothing at all. We all come to some conclusion based on the evidence that we have.

crashfrog writes:

So what's so special about you? If you'd question another person's experience with the divine, why shouldn't you question your own?

I do and I have. That is one reason that I decided to try and educate myself more in regards to my Christian faith and my trust in Jesus the Christ. Personally I am suspicious of personal experience in many ways. Look at how people get so wound up over a hockey game, or even some pop star. One experience I had was that I felt led by God to begin a ministry with seniors 30 years ago. I have been faithful to that calling since then and now in retirement I have more time than ever to devote to it although I am finding to my dismay that I'm being asked to play music that I grew up with myself. (How do these old people even know who Elvis is anyway. I thought only us young folk knew about him. )

In the end its all about where our heart is. Do we love selfishly or do we love unselfishly? None of us are completely one way or the other but it is a matter of which one we aspire to.

Cheers


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by crashfrog, posted 05-22-2011 10:41 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 78 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 12:43 PM GDR has responded

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 78 of 89 (616581)
05-23-2011 12:43 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by GDR
05-23-2011 11:35 AM


Re: Love is about evidence
Actually I started practicing Christianity around 32 years ago after reading CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity".

What did you find so compelling about "Mere Christianity"? Surely it wasn't Lewis' logically-fallacious "trilemma"?

I just wanted to point out that it is the message of the Bible and that it is consistent with what most of us perceive to be true of the world.

So what? Much of the Bible isn't consistent with what is true of the world. Should I be impressed that it gets some of the simple stuff right? Is the Bible somehow more correct than any other book written by regular people?

It isn't evidence that is going to convince you or anyone else on this forum but it is something to consider.

Ok, so consider it with me. What is unexpected or surprising about the fact that the Bible tells us to be nice to each other (when it's not telling us to kill each other)?

Am I supposed to start believing in the truth of the Christian religion just because the Bible says something nice? Here's a thought experiment - suppose you were going to start a fake religion. Since your biggest problem is basically marketing - you have this new product you want people to adopt - don't you need to have an attractive dogma? One that plays to what people want from religion? Wouldn't you arrive at some variation on "Be excellent to one another!" just as a function of competition with all the other religions that say that?

I believe generally that all of the major religions of the world have some revelation of God at their core and then a whole bunch of stuff added on by mankind.

All of them? Scientology has genuine divinity? How about worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? If I made up a new religion right now would you really think that it had "some revelation of God" at its core?

Isn't it possible that a totally man-made religion could become popular? How about people who use Apple products? That's at least some kind of religion, right?

If a religion could be totally man-made, isn't it possible that many of the world's most popular religions are? Isn't it likely that they are, in fact? And isn't it at least possible that your religion is one of the completely made-up ones?

What's the basis for your assumption that the world's religions have a shared core of genuine divine revelation?

Jesus tells us that.

What makes you think that there was a Jesus, or that the Bible accurately recounts his ministry?

Isn't it possible that, rather than being "liar, lunatic, or Lord", the Jesus of the Bible is just a fictional character? That his most famous sayings have no more historical veracity than Hamlet's soliloquy? Isn't that the missing option in Lewis' traditional "trilemma"?

We all come to some conclusion based on the evidence that we have.

So if you were to show me your evidence, why do you think that I would come to a different conclusion?

What's so special about you?

In the end its all about where our heart is. Do we love selfishly or do we love unselfishly?

Unselfishly, no doubt, but what about that is support for the truth claims of any religion?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 77 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 11:35 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 79 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 4:19 PM crashfrog has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 79 of 89 (616627)
05-23-2011 4:19 PM
Reply to: Message 78 by crashfrog
05-23-2011 12:43 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
crashfrog writes:

What did you find so compelling about "Mere Christianity"? Surely it wasn't Lewis' logically-fallacious "trilemma"?

Boy this forum can eat up a lot of time but I appreciate these discussions as it is healthy to be forced into rethinking and maybe even reshaping my views.

I think what most impressed me about "Mere Christianity" was the basic argument for theism in general. Once I accepted that theism was at the very least a strong possibility it seemed to me that it was reasonable that there was an overarching plan, and that a creator would have an ongoing interest in what had been created.

The other thing, to be quite honest, was that I was impressed by Lewis' intellect. I know that it is easy to poke holes in this view but it seemed to me that if this was the conclusion that he had come to as an adult, then I felt it had credibility.

I realize that there are others with an equal or higher intellect than Lewis, but not everyone can be right and I decided to go with Lewis while I continued to sort out more precisely what I believed. It has been a 32 year process and frankly with what I have learned I'm more convinced than I have ever been of the truth in Christianity.

Just so that we stay at least a little bit on the topic of this thread - one of the things I found most helpful was coming to the understanding of how I believe the Bible should be read. I don't have to believe that God told Joshua and others to go out and commit genocide. Sure God's revelation is all there in the Hebrew scriptures but it is to be viewed through the lens of what we have from Jesus so that we can discern what was of God and what was just of the early Jews who viewed God as primarily an entity that was there to be used to give them victory over their enemies.

crashfrog writes:

So what? Much of the Bible isn't consistent with what is true of the world. Should I be impressed that it gets some of the simple stuff right? Is the Bible somehow more correct than any other book written by regular people?

I'm not saying that it's conclusive, I just think that it's at least a starting point. I am completely unconvinced that unselfish love exists due to completely natural causes. I heard the arguments and I remain unconvinced.

I think that the biblical writers were inspired to record their stories and that God is revealed through the meta-narrative as well as all the smaller narratives that make up the Bible.

crashfrog writes:

Ok, so consider it with me. What is unexpected or surprising about the fact that the Bible tells us to be nice to each other (when it's not telling us to kill each other)?

Am I supposed to start believing in the truth of the Christian religion just because the Bible says something nice? Here's a thought experiment - suppose you were going to start a fake religion. Since your biggest problem is basically marketing - you have this new product you want people to adopt - don't you need to have an attractive dogma? One that plays to what people want from religion? Wouldn't you arrive at some variation on "Be excellent to one another!" just as a function of competition with all the other religions that say that?

The Bible was written by a large number of authors over hundreds of years. They were people of different cultures and agendas. It is hard to conceive of all these writers over the centuries conniving to make up a religion.

If I was going to bother to make up a religion I would only be doing it with an ulterior motive. With that in mind I'm not sure I would start with the idea that I should be nice to everyone, and to love everyone including my enemy. As a thought, I'd be a little suspicious of anyone who lives a affluent life style that is the result of their religious views. I would wonder what their motive is.

crashfrog writes:

All of them? Scientology has genuine divinity? How about worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? If I made up a new religion right now would you really think that it had "some revelation of God" at its core?

Isn't it possible that a totally man-made religion could become popular? How about people who use Apple products? That's at least some kind of religion, right?

As you quoted, I did say major religions.

crashfrog writes:

What's the basis for your assumption that the world's religions have a shared core of genuine divine revelation?

I believe that God has instilled in all of us a basic sense of the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. (I'm not denying that it is not always clear cut.) I contend that the religions that have lasted have at their core that basic knowledge and because of that they have endured. I'm not knowledgeable enough to be much more specific but I know when I read the book of Buddha I was amazed at how the views of the first Buddha, (about 700 years before the birth of Jesus if I remember correctly), were very consistent with what Jesus taught in regards to loving neighbour and enemy.

crashfrog writes:

What makes you think that there was a Jesus, or that the Bible accurately recounts his ministry?

Isn't it possible that, rather than being "liar, lunatic, or Lord", the Jesus of the Bible is just a fictional character? That his most famous sayings have no more historical veracity than Hamlet's soliloquy? Isn't that the missing option in Lewis' traditional "trilemma"?

Once again the Bible was written by several people who all told about Jesus in somewhat different ways. I see no motivation for them to make up a religion that was antagonistic to everyone who held power at the time.

The Gospels and epistles, in my view, are written in such a way that I believe it to be inconceivable that they didn't believe what they wrote down. I'm not saying that it makes it correct, but I think that the decision comes down to whether they were right or wrong, and to what degree.

I've read carefully the arguments of those that argue for the bodily resurrection and for the scholars that argue against it. I am convinced that Jesus was resurrected with a new physicality. That is what the Gospels tell us. That isn't consistent with what a first century Jew would have written. Many of them believed that they would be resurrected at the end of time but there is no record of anyone suggesting that it would ever happen prior to that.

crashfrog writes:

So if you were to show me your evidence, why do you think that I would come to a different conclusion?

Because in the end there is no material proof. We exist in a material world, and although we can learn a great deal of how we are here, we can't show why we are here. All the arguments for why are philosophical and theological and there is no agreement.

The philosophical and theological evidence, including the Bible, has led me to the conclusion that the Christian faith, (as I understand it), represents ultimate truth.

In the end though, as I have repeated endlessly, what is important is that we humbly love kindness and do justice.

The Christian faith goes further and says that is desirable because that it is the desire of the One who created us, and that when time as we know it comes to an end we will find that there is ultimate love and ultimate justice and that what we did in this life had meaning.

crashfrog writes:

What's so special about you?

Nothing.

crashfrog writes:

Unselfishly, no doubt, but what about that is support for the truth claims of any religion?

Because I believe we know intuitively that unselfish love is what we should aspire to. If a religion isn't consistent with that view then we should look at one that is as a starting point.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 78 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 12:43 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 80 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 5:13 PM GDR has responded

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 80 of 89 (616633)
05-23-2011 5:13 PM
Reply to: Message 79 by GDR
05-23-2011 4:19 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
I think what most impressed me about "Mere Christianity" was the basic argument for theism in general. Once I accepted that theism was at the very least a strong possibility it seemed to me that it was reasonable that there was an overarching plan, and that a creator would have an ongoing interest in what had been created.

That's fair, but then why don't we back up to why you think "theism could be a strong possibility." Theism is, frankly, an impossibility.

. I am completely unconvinced that unselfish love exists due to completely natural causes.

Unselfish love exists, as far as we're aware, only to an extremely rare degree so one very reasonable explanation is that "unselfish love" is just one of those things people do for no good reason, like watch Seth Rogan movies.

The Bible was written by a large number of authors over hundreds of years. They were people of different cultures and agendas. It is hard to conceive of all these writers over the centuries conniving to make up a religion.

Having read the Bible, its impossible to imagine Bible writers being unified on anything. They can't even agree on their accounts of the central stories of Christianity. There's even two completely different accounts of the same supposed Genesis story.

But while the Bible was written over many hundreds of years, it was largely assembled and edited - into one single book - by a single council over about 15 years. That process definitely was a function of "conniving", the entire purpose of the Council of Trent was to assemble a unified Bible that supported Catholicism and would provide a basis for challenging the Protestant "heresies."

So to whatever extent the various Biblical sources agree on anything, that may simply be a function of Council of Trent editing.

As you quoted, I did say major religions.

So, Scientology?

I'm not knowledgeable enough to be much more specific but I know when I read the book of Buddha I was amazed at how the views of the first Buddha, (about 700 years before the birth of Jesus if I remember correctly), were very consistent with what Jesus taught in regards to loving neighbour and enemy.

Sure, but again, that's explainable simply as a function of marketing. All soaps are going to be advertised as getting you clean, because that's why you buy soap. All religions are going to prescribe that you love your neighbors (and love your enemies, at the same time that you destroy them) because that's what people want from their religions.

I see no motivation for them to make up a religion that was antagonistic to everyone who held power at the time.

At what time? Christianity and the Christian Bible didn't just pop into full-fledged existence in 33 AD. Indeed there wasn't a Bible, in the sense of being a collected ream of scripture, until several centuries after the events it supposedly recounts.

And, of course, if the market for your religion is a widespread, disenfranchised lower class, then a religion that promises that powerful malefactors are going to get theirs in the afterlife is obviously incredibly attractive. It's only recently - Biblically-speaking - that Christianity has been a religion for the well-heeled. For almost a thousand years Christianity was a religion that survived by ministering to the powerless and downtrodden. Much like a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the brand of Christianity has all the vestigial trappings of a market it's no longer meant to appeal to.

I think that the decision comes down to whether they were right or wrong, and to what degree.

I agree. Their belief in what they wrote has nothing to do with that; whether they were right or wrong is a function of evidence. So what's the evidence for the historicity of the gospels?

I am convinced that Jesus was resurrected with a new physicality. That is what the Gospels tell us. That isn't consistent with what a first century Jew would have written.

The First century Jew who wrote the earliest Gospel would have had no way to know, the supposed resurrection having occurred decades before he could possibly have been born. And it wouldn't have been a Jew at all, it would have been a Christian.

I'm not saying there wasn't a very early church, I'm not saying that Christianity is a 16th-century invention. That's clearly not the case - the roots of the early church go back pretty far. But they don't go all the way back to a historical Jesus. They just don't. They go back to people telling the Bible writers what they were told by the church, not to anything that anybody saw with their own eyes.

There's no eyewitness testimony in the Bible. Absolutely none. There's just people talking about eyewitness testimony they heard about. "Friend of a friend totally saw the empty tomb!" It's all apocryphal.

The philosophical and theological evidence, including the Bible, has led me to the conclusion that the Christian faith, (as I understand it), represents ultimate truth.

If that philosophical and theological evidence isn't based on something material, how is it any different from make-believe?

Because I believe we know intuitively that unselfish love is what we should aspire to.

Agreed, but doesn't that make it more likely that religion is just a kind of social lever invented to help people reach that aspiration?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 79 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 4:19 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 81 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 6:57 PM crashfrog has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 81 of 89 (616648)
05-23-2011 6:57 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by crashfrog
05-23-2011 5:13 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
It ain't fair. You can ask questions so much more quickly than I can answer them.

crashfrog writes:

That's fair, but then why don't we back up to why you think "theism could be a strong possibility." Theism is, frankly, an impossibility.


I believe that the idea of a creative intelligence is a more reasonable answer to why there is something instead of nothing, why the universe is so highly tuned, why do we care when someone we have never met suffers or for that matter even when it is someone we've met, why am I able to sense beauty, why the sense of awe of majesty about the world etc, than the idea that it all just happened. (Hows that for a run on sentence. )

Why do you say that "theism' is an impossibility?

crashfrog writes:

Unselfish love exists, as far as we're aware, only to an extremely rare degree so one very reasonable explanation is that "unselfish love" is just one of those things people do for no good reason, like watch Seth Rogan movies.

I don't see it as all that rare. People consistently put money into the tin cup of the homeless, people regularly give up time to serve others, and people support others on the other side of the world that theyhave never met nor ever will meet.

crashfrog writes:

Having read the Bible, its impossible to imagine Bible writers being unified on anything. They can't even agree on their accounts of the central stories of Christianity. There's even two completely different accounts of the same supposed Genesis story.

I disagree. If you don't try and read the Bible like a science text or a newspaper, or contend that God spent the better part of a couple of days dictating it, I think there is great continuity in the whole narrative.

Even in the NT I agree that there are inconsistencies in the details and the timing of events but overall there is considerable agreement.

crashfrog writes:

So, Scientology?


I'm surprised that you would consider that a major religion but I confess I only know of it - not about it.

crashfrog writes:

Sure, but again, that's explainable simply as a function of marketing. All soaps are going to be advertised as getting you clean, because that's why you buy soap. All religions are going to prescribe that you love your neighbors (and love your enemies, at the same time that you destroy them) because that's what people want from their religions.

I disagree again. Religion has as often as not been about gaining power in the here and now. This is where the early Hebrews went off track. They started bringing in aspects of their pagan neighbours and turning Yahweh into a god that would give them victory in battles with their neighbours.

Jesus repudiated that with the message that you are to love your enemy and that through the influence of that love you would be able to change their ideology.

crashfrog writes:

At what time? Christianity and the Christian Bible didn't just pop into full-fledged existence in 33 AD. Indeed there wasn't a Bible, in the sense of being a collected ream of scripture, until several centuries after the events it supposedly recounts.

Sure, but Christianity existed from the time of the resurrection on. It initially existed as a form of Judaism but as it spread further into the Gentile world it became a standalone religion.

crashfrog writes:

And, of course, if the market for your religion is a widespread, disenfranchised lower class, then a religion that promises that powerful malefactors are going to get theirs in the afterlife is obviously incredibly attractive. It's only recently - Biblically-speaking - that Christianity has been a religion for the well-heeled. For almost a thousand years Christianity was a religion that survived by ministering to the powerless and downtrodden. Much like a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the brand of Christianity has all the vestigial trappings of a market it's no longer meant to appeal to.

Well that is only partly true. It did become the official religion for the Romans in about 300 years. Still, that is consistent with what Jesus taught. The whole message was that it wasn't about a power grab or about attaining wealth. Jesus said that it was for the humble. Read the Beatitudes.

crashfrog writes:

I agree. Their belief in what they wrote has nothing to do with that; whether they were right or wrong is a function of evidence. So what's the evidence for the historicity of the gospels?

I have read reams of stuff on this subject, (from more than one point of view), and there is no way that I can encapsulate them here.

I believe that the veracity of the Gospels is dependent on the resurrection. If the resurrection is an historical event then the rest of the gospels have credibility. If the resurrection did not happen then we can treat the gospels as we would any ancient writing.

Here is a link to a talk given by NT Wright on the issue. It isn't that short but then no answer to the question that you asked can possibly be short.

The Resurrection as an Historical Problem

crashfrog writes:

The First century Jew who wrote the earliest Gospel would have had no way to know, the supposed resurrection having occurred decades before he could possibly have been born. And it wouldn't have been a Jew at all, it would have been a Christian.

All of the NT writers with the possible exception of Luke were Jewish. I'm sure that as often as not the tellers of the stories had them written out by various scribes but it would still be their stories. It is also likely that the gospel stories had been collected in a series of shorter forms earlier and in addition the oral tradition in that era was very strong.

crashfrog writes:

I'm not saying there wasn't a very early church, I'm not saying that Christianity is a 16th-century invention. That's clearly not the case - the roots of the early church go back pretty far. But they don't go all the way back to a historical Jesus. They just don't. They go back to people telling the Bible writers what they were told by the church, not to anything that anybody saw with their own eyes.

According to the book of Acts that isn't the case. The roots go back to the post resurrection experiences of Jesus. I realize that the book of Acts was written years later but that doesn't mean that it isn't accurate. (I agree that it doesn't mean that it is either.)

crashfrog writes:

There's no eyewitness testimony in the Bible. Absolutely none. There's just people talking about eyewitness testimony they heard about. "Friend of a friend totally saw the empty tomb!" It's all apocryphal.

The empty tomb is meaningless without the resurrected Jesus and to that there were many witnesses according again to the Biblical accounts which of course you are free to reject.

crashfrog writes:

If that philosophical and theological evidence isn't based on something material, how is it any different from make-believe?

Just because we can't perceive something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

crashfrog writes:

Agreed, but doesn't that make it more likely that religion is just a kind of social lever invented to help people reach that aspiration?

Why would anyone want that. It isn't a road to power or wealth. If it is strictly material world I want a religion that is going serve me and not someone else.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 80 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 5:13 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 82 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 7:55 PM GDR has responded

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 82 of 89 (616654)
05-23-2011 7:55 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by GDR
05-23-2011 6:57 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
I believe that the idea of a creative intelligence is a more reasonable answer to why there is something instead of nothing, why the universe is so highly tuned, why do we care when someone we have never met suffers or for that matter even when it is someone we've met, why am I able to sense beauty, why the sense of awe of majesty about the world etc, than the idea that it all just happened

Most of that simply isn't true. The universe isn't "fine-tuned" for life; it's about as fine-tuned for life as a fork is fine-tuned to eat soup. As human beings we don't actually care all that much when people we've not met suffer, unless we're seeing it on TV. Beauty and ugliness are just subjective opinions, they're not things that really exist. And none of that seems to have anything to do with the existence of God that I can see. It just seems to be a function of your sense that some things are significant, and your opinion that if something is significant, it must have something to do with God.

But your sense of significance is just something brains do. It's easily triggered with drugs or even trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.

People consistently put money into the tin cup of the homeless, people regularly give up time to serve others, and people support others on the other side of the world that theyhave never met nor ever will meet.

Sure, but if they do it because it makes them feel good, or because it makes them look swell in front of their friends, or they enjoy the prospect of putting others in debt to them, is that really "unselfish love"? There are a lot of reasons to engage in altruism - especially cheap altruism, like giving some pocket change to a beggar - that aren't examples of truly selfless behavior. Almost every culture has some form of enforced "gift-giving" on certain occasions, which aren't gifts at all but reciprocal market exchanges.

I'm surprised that you would consider that a major religion but I confess I only know of it - not about it.

According to them it has 8 million adherents. That's a lot more than, say, Baha'i.

Religion has as often as not been about gaining power in the here and now.

Religion is always about gaining power in the here and now.

Still, that is consistent with what Jesus taught. The whole message was that it wasn't about a power grab or about attaining wealth. Jesus said that it was for the humble.

And, of course, the Christian conquerers who laid waste to kingdoms styled themselves as humble. What Jesus said, or is assumed to have said, has changed throughout the centuries. Every generation reinvents Jesus as necessary for their own purposes. To people who need a king, he's the King of Kings. To servants he's the one who washed the feet of the servants. To slaves he's a liberator who promised slaves would inherit the Earth. To men of peace he's the man who said to turn the other cheek. To men of war he's the man who claimed not to bring peace, but a sword. To those who abhor conspicuous consumption, he's the man who claimed that a camel would pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man would enter Heaven. To those who love money he's the man who claimed the poor would always be with us.

The Bible says so much contradictory stuff that everyone who reads it can find Jesus's support for their lifestyle. That's why there's rich Christians and Christians who hate money. Gay Christians and Christians who hate gays. Christians who believed that God wanted blacks to be slaves and Christians who believed that God wanted blacks to be free. It's almost the perfect religion for attracting as many people as possible, because the only things the Bible says you have to do are the things you're already doing - be neighborly, don't expect yourself to be perfect, forgive the people you care about and try not to think too hard about your enemies.

Sure, but Christianity existed from the time of the resurrection on.

Well, no. There's no contemporary record of Christianity in 33AD. It's decades after the supposed "resurrection" that there's any Christianity.

I believe that the veracity of the Gospels is dependent on the resurrection.

I would certainly agree that the historicity of the resurrection is the crucial determinant of whether Christianity is real and true, or just a really good setting for fiction.

The trouble is there's no evidence for the resurrection; there's just a bunch of people a few decades after it supposedly happened who believed it did. But that doesn't mean anything. Just because the resurrection didn't happen doesn't mean that people knew it didn't happen. There are plenty of martyrs for things that turned out to be false.

According to the book of Acts that isn't the case.

No, not even according to Acts. The Acts author doesn't recount any personal eyewitness testimony, and since Acts shares authorship with Luke, and the preface to Luke explains that the source is "testimony handed down to us", we know that Acts isn't direct eyewitness testimony, it's hearsay of eyewitness testimony.

There's no direct testimony of the ministry of Jesus. None at all. And there's no contemporary mention of the ministry of Jesus. None at all. And there are no contemporary accounts of the state execution of Jesus. None at all.

I realize that the book of Acts was written years later but that doesn't mean that it isn't accurate.

That actually does mean it isn't accurate. That's exactly what it means. When people wait decades to write things down - if they even experienced them, which we know is not the case in Acts - they don't remember it correctly. That's just a function of human memory.

The empty tomb is meaningless without the resurrected Jesus and to that there were many witnesses according again to the Biblical accounts which of course you are free to reject.

There are no eyewitnesses in the Bible. There are only reports of eyewitnesses - again, it's no more compelling than saying "a friend of a friend totally saw it, once." The Bible does not mention even a single person as an eyewitness to accounts who can actually be verified as having witnessed anything at all.

If it is strictly material world I want a religion that is going serve me and not someone else.

If religion has benefits, as you continually insist it does, then you've already identified the ways in which you are personally served by your religious affiliation. Everybody recognizes that religion is a way to get rich. The Catholic Church has billions of dollars in assets, real estate, and cultural treasures. It has a larger GDP than several African nations. Ron Hubbard, of course, is most famous for recognizing that religion is a source of wealth. Many Christian churches simply lampshade the connection between profit and religion by preaching an explicit prosperity Gospel.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 6:57 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 83 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 11:39 PM crashfrog has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 83 of 89 (616686)
05-23-2011 11:39 PM
Reply to: Message 82 by crashfrog
05-23-2011 7:55 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
crashfrog writes:

Most of that simply isn't true. The universe isn't "fine-tuned" for life; it's about as fine-tuned for life as a fork is fine-tuned to eat soup. As human beings we don't actually care all that much when people we've not met suffer, unless we're seeing it on TV. Beauty and ugliness are just subjective opinions, they're not things that really exist. And none of that seems to have anything to do with the existence of God that I can see. It just seems to be a function of your sense that some things are significant, and your opinion that if something is significant, it must have something to do with God.

This is an argument that has proponents on both sides. I think that it is reasonable to take the position that things like love, beauty etc ,and particularly because they are subjective, are unlikely to come from a totally natural world. JMHO

The fine tuning argument is again a debate with people infinitely more knowledgeable than myself on both sides of the issue.

crashfrog writes:

But your sense of significance is just something brains do.

I agree that the only thing significant about me is my sense of self which is something we all share.

Buzsaw writes:

Sure, but if they do it because it makes them feel good, or because it makes them look swell in front of their friends, or they enjoy the prospect of putting others in debt to them, is that really "unselfish love"? There are a lot of reasons to engage in altruism - especially cheap altruism, like giving some pocket change to a beggar - that aren't examples of truly selfless behavior. Almost every culture has some form of enforced "gift-giving" on certain occasions, which aren't gifts at all but reciprocal market exchanges.

I'm not that cynical. I believe that there are people everywhere and of all faiths that are able to give, privately and humbly, just because they believe it's the right thing to do.

crashfrog writes:

Religion is always about gaining power in the here and now.

Christianity may be about gaining power but as taught by Jesus, (certainly not all of its adherents), it is the power to love and serve.

crashfrog writes:

What Jesus said, or is assumed to have said, has changed throughout the centuries. Every generation reinvents Jesus as necessary for their own purposes. To people who need a king, he's the King of Kings. To servants he's the one who washed the feet of the servants. To slaves he's a liberator who promised slaves would inherit the Earth. To men of peace he's the man who said to turn the other cheek. To men of war he's the man who claimed not to bring peace, but a sword. To those who abhor conspicuous consumption, he's the man who claimed that a camel would pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man would enter Heaven. To those who love money he's the man who claimed the poor would always be with us.

He has always been all of those. He is the servant king who calls his followers to be a servant people. He did preach that we are to turn the other cheek. When you read the idea that he would bring a sword it has to be read in the context of the Sermon on the Mount to understand that he was saying that His message was controversial. He did live in turbulent times. That the poor would always be with us was just a statement of fact so that we could know that they shouldn't be ignored in favour of conspicuous consumption.

crashfrog writes:

The Bible says so much contradictory stuff that everyone who reads it can find Jesus's support for their lifestyle. That's why there's rich Christians and Christians who hate money. Gay Christians and Christians who hate gays. Christians who believed that God wanted blacks to be slaves and Christians who believed that God wanted blacks to be free. It's almost the perfect religion for attracting as many people as possible, because the only things the Bible says you have to do are the things you're already doing - be neighborly, don't expect yourself to be perfect, forgive the people you care about and try not to think too hard about your enemies.

I agree with all of that. The Bible has been misused and abused since it came into being. There is always someone around who uses it for their own worldly gain.

crashfrog writes:

I would certainly agree that the historicity of the resurrection is the crucial determinant of whether Christianity is real and true, or just a really good setting for fiction.

Thanks. That's crucial to any discussion on the Christian faith.

crashfrog writes:

The trouble is there's no evidence for the resurrection; there's just a bunch of people a few decades after it supposedly happened who believed it did. But that doesn't mean anything. Just because the resurrection didn't happen doesn't mean that people knew it didn't happen. There are plenty of martyrs for things that turned out to be false.

The first Pauline epistles were written within 20 plus or minus 5 years of the resurrection. There would have still been eye witnesses at that time, including the apostles

The link by NT Wright I gave you on my last post covers this subject to some degree. It's an interesting read whether or not, (no doubt not ) you agree with him.

Both Jesus and His brother James are mentioned briefly in Josephus. I agree that the one quote may be embellished but from what I have read most scholars believe that Josephus had written about Jesus. I contend we would have had a lot more without the fire in Alexandria but that will be pretty tough to prove.

crashfrog writes:

That actually does mean it isn't accurate. That's exactly what it means. When people wait decades to write things down - if they even experienced them, which we know is not the case in Acts - they don't remember it correctly. That's just a function of human memory.

It is assumed and I'll concede that Acts in its final form was not compiled until decades later but we have no way of knowing if it was compiled from the oral tradition or from other writings that no longer exist, or a combination of the 2. As far as I know everyone, who has studied that period, concede that as anything written was not easily reproduced, that the human memory was far better than it is now as it was used so much more.

crashfrog writes:

There are no eyewitnesses in the Bible. There are only reports of eyewitnesses - again, it's no more compelling than saying "a friend of a friend totally saw it, once." The Bible does not mention even a single person as an eyewitness to accounts who can actually be verified as having witnessed anything at all.

There are all sorts of accounts of people who witnessed the events but I'm not sure what would constitute verification for you.

crashfrog writes:

If religion has benefits, as you continually insist it does, then you've already identified the ways in which you are personally served by your religious affiliation. Everybody recognizes that religion is a way to get rich. The Catholic Church has billions of dollars in assets, real estate, and cultural treasures. It has a larger GDP than several African nations. Ron Hubbard, of course, is most famous for recognizing that religion is a source of wealth. Many Christian churches simply lampshade the connection between profit and religion by preaching an explicit prosperity Gospel.

Sad isn't it. Like we agreed earlier the faith is so often misused and abused.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 82 by crashfrog, posted 05-23-2011 7:55 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 86 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 12:22 AM GDR has responded

    
ScientificBob
Member (Idle past 1641 days)
Posts: 48
From: Antwerp, Belgium
Joined: 03-29-2011


Message 84 of 89 (616964)
05-25-2011 11:04 AM
Reply to: Message 71 by GDR
05-21-2011 6:47 PM


GDR writes:

I didn't say that was a reason to believe it. I only said that it makes it relevant.

That's still an argument ad populum. I'ld argue that the contents of your book (as a guide of reality) would only be relevant if it can be shown to be relevant... not because people believe it to be the case.

GDR writes:

Maybe she stays for some reason other than love. You choose to believe she stays because she loves you.

I don't "choose" that. SHE tells me that she loves me. And her actions seem to be in line with that statement. I trust her. And therein lies the difference. This trust is NOT blind. This trust is earned. Could I be wrong? Sure. Anybody can be wrong.
But to equate my trust that my wife speaks the truth with your blind faith in a magic sky daddy is simply asanine.

GDR writes:

Actually I knew that. I wrote world when I should have written universe. I agree with both of your statements.

I have no disagreement with any of that either except to say that in the end believing in evolution, even though all the evidence we have points in that direction, is still not the same as believing that 2 + 2 = 4. I would call myself a theistic evolutionist but that would be giving me far too much credit.

This baffles me. If you agree with these statements, then WHY did you state the opposite? You clearly and literally stated that these are things that can't be proven, and now suddenly you agree that they CAN be proven? Seems blatantly contradictory.
Anyhow, glad that you changed your mind about that then.

GDR writes:


None of our beliefs about god(s) or lack of god(s) are testable but we all come to some conclusion.

Yes. Would you say that both conclusion are of equal value? Be carefull here. I will use your answer against you if I can. :-)

ps: this statement might hold (somewhat) in context of very vague god-concepts... not so much when you go to specific scripture... lots of claims in their that ARE testable.

GDR writes:

In the example that you are referring to, I did look at the case that was being made for the resurrection and believed it to be true. In the scientific sense it couldn't be proven, but as I just said, it can't be disproven either

Lots of things can't be "disproven". Do you believe all of them?

ps: 'disproving' is something that you can only do AFTER some kind of testable framework has been defined or AFTER there was an attempt at offering some kind of evidence in support of a claim. You then 'disprove' said claim/idea by falsifying it through a test or by showing how the offered evidence is invalid.
It always comes back to the burden of proof. Theists have made their claims. But they haven't met their burden of proof. In reality, it's not even the atheist turn to respond. In reality, atheists are STILL waiting for theists to meet their burden of proof. I just thought I'ld add that.

GDR writes:

The Bible is an ancient text. Somebody, or for that matter, several somebodies wrote it. They say that the resurrection happened. That is evidence

No, it's not evidence. It's an unverifiable anecdote. Like people saying that Elvis lives, that they've been abducted and probed by aliens, that they saw bigfoot,....
Anecdotes are NOT evidence.
Secondly, the bible IS the claim. You only know about it because the bible says it. In essence, what you are saying here, is that the bible is evidence of the bible. It's called circular reasoning...

GDR writes:

They may be mistaken, they may be lying or they may be writing about what really happened. So we do have evidence which we can choose to accept or reject as you have done.

Again, we do not have evidence. We only have baseless claims in the form of anecdotes from decades, centuries after the alledged fact. And it's a translation of copies of copies of translations of copies of translations. With nothing outside of the bible to back it up.
Hardly compelling, ha?

GDR writes:

The Christian belief is that the resurrection was a once only occurrence that was outside the bounds of what we consider to be natural.

Do you consider that to be a rational belief?
Honestly... what is the most plausible here?
That some incredibly magical, supernatural, unprecedented and never repeated event occured...
Or that these people are just wrong/deluded/lied to/lying?
Honestly...

GDR writes:

I guess I'm not convinced that the only thing that can be considered as evidence is that which is testable.

Would you stand by that statement if you were wrongfully accused of a murder and about to be sentenced to life in prison based on only an anecdote and no direct/verifiable/testable evidence at all?

Again: honestly... would you?

GDR writes:

The material world does exist and we know a great deal about how it exists, but there remains the big philosophical question, which is why does it exist at all. Why is there something instead of nothing?

I don't see how that question has another answer then the how question...
It's like asking "why are there mountains?" The answer to that seems to be the same as the answer to "how do mountains form?".

But I suspect that you are trying to look for purpose where there isn't any (or at least: where there doesn't seem to be any).

GDR writes:

You may not claim that no god(s) exist but it seems to me that you are claiming that if they do that we can't know anything about them.

No. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. At least in context of gods like the judeo-christian one. A god that interferes with the natural world SHOULD be detectable.

In the end though, wheter we could know about them/him or not would entirely depend on the definition of said god(s). If you define him/her/them as an entity that 'exists' outside of space time and without ANY interaction with the natural world... then yes, we can't know about them.
But that would be deism. Theistic gods would necessarily interact with the natural world (listening and responding to prayers, resurecting dead humans, revealing scripture, etc etc etc).

And again, as far as theistic gods are concerned... we have the scriptures... we can test the stuff contained therein. We might not be able to test your deity of choice directly, but we CAN test things in the natural world attributed to that deity through scriptures.

GDR writes:

That proof or argument doesn't exist but neither does it exist for what you believe.

That's because there isn't something that I believe... that's exactly the point. There is something that I DO NOT believe - because of lack of evidence.
And once more, we come back to the burden of proof and you trying to shift it.

You don't have evidence that Thor doesn't exist. Right? So you know how it is to NOT believe something (for which there is no positive evidence) without evidence.
Your god is no different.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 71 by GDR, posted 05-21-2011 6:47 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 85 by GDR, posted 05-25-2011 7:40 PM ScientificBob has not yet responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 85 of 89 (617089)
05-25-2011 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 84 by ScientificBob
05-25-2011 11:04 AM


Hi Bob

Frankly I'm not sure that there is much more that I can add to this thread. My personal reason for being here is primarily to learn by listening and to a lesser degree to learn to defend my own beliefs. I don't pretend to be a great debater. I'm just interested in friendly discussion. I have no idea of converting you or crash. That being said I'll see what I can do to respond to your post.

SB writes:

That's still an argument ad populum. I'ld argue that the contents of your book (as a guide of reality) would only be relevant if it can be shown to be relevant... not because people believe it to be the case.

Because many people believe it and allow it to influence their lives it is relevant. It is having an impact on our world. The same is true of the Quaran or the Book of Buddah.

SB writes:

I don't "choose" that. SHE tells me that she loves me. And her actions seem to be in line with that statement. I trust her. And therein lies the difference. This trust is NOT blind. This trust is earned. Could I be wrong? Sure. Anybody can be wrong.
But to equate my trust that my wife speaks the truth with your blind faith in a magic sky daddy is simply asanine.

I no doubt could have come up with a better example - my only point being that it is a belief that can't be proven empirically.

SB writes:

This baffles me. If you agree with these statements, then WHY did you state the opposite? You clearly and literally stated that these are things that can't be proven, and now suddenly you agree that they CAN be proven? Seems blatantly contradictory.
Anyhow, glad that you changed your mind about that then.

I believe these scientific theories are accurate but in the end no matter how strong the evidence they can't be proven conclusively.
I am only saying that even though far greater, better informed minds than mine believe it to be correct, and even though I believe that they are correct, it can't be proven conclusively.

SB writes:

Yes. Would you say that both conclusion are of equal value? Be carefull here. I will use your answer against you if I can. :-)

ps: this statement might hold (somewhat) in context of very vague god-concepts... not so much when you go to specific scripture... lots of claims in their that ARE testable.

That question is completely unanswerable as the answer is always going to be completely subjective. It is my view that basic Christianity makes more sense of the world and my life than does any other view, so from my perspective my view holds the greatest value. That of course doesn't mean that any of what I said is true.

SB writes:

Lots of things can't be "disproven". Do you believe all of them?

ps: 'disproving' is something that you can only do AFTER some kind of testable framework has been defined or AFTER there was an attempt at offering some kind of evidence in support of a claim. You then 'disprove' said claim/idea by falsifying it through a test or by showing how the offered evidence is invalid.
It always comes back to the burden of proof. Theists have made their claims. But they haven't met their burden of proof. In reality, it's not even the atheist turn to respond. In reality, atheists are STILL waiting for theists to meet their burden of proof. I just thought I'ld add that.

I have only claimed the opposite. I cannot prove my beliefs. All an atheist can do is accept the fact that I believe, just as I accept the fact that atheists believe what they believe. My point is not to convince you that I am right because I can't. I'm only trying to explain what it is I believe and where I can why.

SB writes:

Secondly, the bible IS the claim. You only know about it because the bible says it. In essence, what you are saying here, is that the bible is evidence of the bible. It's called circular reasoning...

I don't agree that it is circular reasoning. I'm not using the Bible to prove itself. As I have said, the Bible is a collection of books by various authors. In the NT in particular the books are obviously being written to be believed historically. The authors could have fabricated the whole thing, they might have embellished the truth, they might be writing metaphorically, they may have made errors or they might be 100% accurate in what they recorded. We can all make up our own mind about what we believe to be the truth, which in my mind is part of the concept of free will that I contend comes from God.

SB writes:

Again, we do not have evidence. We only have baseless claims in the form of anecdotes from decades, centuries after the alledged fact. And it's a translation of copies of copies of translations of copies of translations. With nothing outside of the bible to back it up.
Hardly compelling, ha?

The canon was completed centuries after the fact but the writing was done much earlier. The English translations that we have are from the original languages and can still be compared.

Actually I do find the Christian story compelling but that's just me. I get the feeling that you don't.

SB writes:

Do you consider that to be a rational belief?
Honestly... what is the most plausible here?
That some incredibly magical, supernatural, unprecedented and never repeated event occured...
Or that these people are just wrong/deluded/lied to/lying?
Honestly...

I don't want to get into what we mean by rational or plausible but frankly I am convinced of the truth of the story of the resurrection of Jesus. For many years as a Christian I paid lip service to it, believing it without thinking too much about it. I could have gone on like that because I found the social message of Christianity compelling. For whatever reason I decided a few years ago that I wanted a much deeper understanding of my faith. I have filled several shelves of my bookcase with what I have read. All of the books are theological, philosophical or scientific or a combination of one or more of those subjects.

I am now completely convinced that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was an actual historical event. I can't prove it to you or crash. I can only tell you what conclusions I have come to.

GDR writes:


I guess I'm not convinced that the only thing that can be considered as evidence is that which is testable.

SB writes:

Would you stand by that statement if you were wrongfully accused of a murder and about to be sentenced to life in prison based on only an anecdote and no direct/verifiable/testable evidence at all?

Again: honestly... would you?

Apples and oranges. A murder trial is about proving a case. I agree that I can't prove my beliefs. All of us believe things we can't prove.

SB writes:

No. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. At least in context of gods like the judeo-christian one. A god that interferes with the natural world SHOULD be detectable.

In the end though, wheter we could know about them/him or not would entirely depend on the definition of said god(s). If you define him/her/them as an entity that 'exists' outside of space time and without ANY interaction with the natural world... then yes, we can't know about them.
But that would be deism. Theistic gods would necessarily interact with the natural world (listening and responding to prayers, resurecting dead humans, revealing scripture, etc etc etc).

And again, as far as theistic gods are concerned... we have the scriptures... we can test the stuff contained therein. We might not be able to test your deity of choice directly, but we CAN test things in the natural world attributed to that deity through scriptures.

I disagree with your basic premise. I don't believe in a deistic god, and I don't agree that we should necessarily be able to detect a theistic god.

If humans are a creator god's agents on this planet how would we know. If a god is interacting with us how would we know if it was him or us. If this god is present in a "still small voice" leading us on a path of kindness and justice how would we know?

Stuff happens. How do we know whether it was caused, either directly or indirectly by a god. We just know what happened.

SB writes:

That's because there isn't something that I believe... that's exactly the point. There is something that I DO NOT believe - because of lack of evidence.
And once more, we come back to the burden of proof and you trying to shift it.

I believe that the attacks on 9/11 was the work of terrorists. I have a friend who is a conspiracy theorist. He doesn't believe what I believe about 9/11 and I don't believe what he believes. A non belief is a belief.

Neither of us can prove our beliefs. We all come to our own conclusions.

SB writes:

You don't have evidence that Thor doesn't exist. Right?

Agreed.

SB writes:

So you know how it is to NOT believe something (for which there is no positive evidence) without evidence.

Agreed.

SB writes:

Your god is no different.

The Bible exists as written by real people. It is evidence. We can claim that there is no good reason to believe any of it, and that the evidence is very weak but it is evidence. As I said, we all have come to our own conclusions. C'est la vie.

Cheers


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 84 by ScientificBob, posted 05-25-2011 11:04 AM ScientificBob has not yet responded

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 86 of 89 (617117)
05-26-2011 12:22 AM
Reply to: Message 83 by GDR
05-23-2011 11:39 PM


Re: Love is about evidence
I think that it is reasonable to take the position that things like love, beauty etc ,and particularly because they are subjective, are unlikely to come from a totally natural world.

And I guess I just don't see how that follows.

I believe that there are people everywhere and of all faiths that are able to give, privately and humbly, just because they believe it's the right thing to do.

Well, I believe that's the case as well. All these forms of altruism are practiced - true altruism and reciprocal altruism. There's plenty of anonymous charity, and there's plenty of headlining charity.

I'm just saying, there's not so much true selflessness that we can't countenance a natural explanation for it. Most "selflessness" is actually self-serving. Not all of it, but definitely most of it.

Christianity may be about gaining power but as taught by Jesus, (certainly not all of its adherents), it is the power to love and serve.

I guess, but even as early as 70 AD the Christian church was trying to expand its temporal power and wealth.

I know what Jesus says but the phenomenon of Christianity has always been about the expansion of power and influence.

He is the servant king who calls his followers to be a servant people.

Except to the followers who believe he calls them to be a conquering army. The "message of Jesus" is all things to all people. It's justified mass slaughter, slavery, exploitation, and a host of other ills. Sure, you can tell me those people are "doing it wrong", that they've misunderstood the message of Jesus - but that's exactly what they tell me about you!

The first Pauline epistles were written within 20 plus or minus 5 years of the resurrection. There would have still been eye witnesses at that time, including the apostles

That's the absolute earliest they could possibly have been written; there's ample reason to believe they were written much later, since the epistles appear to reference events known to have happened about 70 AD or so. And there's just no evidence that "eyewitnesses" contributed anything to any of the epistles.

Both Jesus and His brother James are mentioned briefly in Josephus.

Yes - as figures purported to be central to the beliefs of Christians. Josephus isn't writing about Jesus; he's writing about what Christians are saying about Jesus. This is getting into what I'm talking about in another thread - that Josephus isn't a primary source, he's just repeating something he heard from the early Christian church.

There's plenty of evidence for the existence of a Christian church in the middle of the first century. But trying to shoehorn that into evidence of Jesus is just a sleight of hand.

As far as I know everyone, who has studied that period, concede that as anything written was not easily reproduced, that the human memory was far better than it is now as it was used so much more.

That's just a self-serving and convenient assumption that flies in the face of substantial evidence. While it's possible to train your memory, the techniques aren't known to have existed at the time and at any rate, memory was widely viewed to be more or less infallible, so why would anyone have bothered?

What we know from neurology is that, rather than "improving with use", every time your mind accesses a memory, the details change. You actually remember it a little bit differently every time you think about it; you alter and edit the memory to fit an established narrative. Your friend tells you how he remembers it, and that changes your memory - now you "remember" details you had "forgotten" - actually, you're confabulating details and inserting them into the memory. That's as true in the first century as it is today. No serious scholar of human neurobiology could possibly conclude that "memory was better because it was used more."

There are all sorts of accounts of people who witnessed the events but I'm not sure what would constitute verification for you.

The writings of direct eyewitness, or their transcribed testimony. Barring that, specific and verifiable accounts of eyewitness testimony, not what the Bible actually has: "many saw this" and "the crowd saw that" and so on. Utterly anonymous and nonspecific - the mark of fabrication. "A hundred people saw it" isn't any kind of evidence if not a single one of the hundred can be produced. Saying you have eyewitness testimony isn't eyewitness testimony.

Sad isn't it.

And predictable, unfortunately. I don't envy the religious for what they have to put up with from their fellows.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 83 by GDR, posted 05-23-2011 11:39 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 87 by GDR, posted 05-26-2011 1:20 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 87 of 89 (617124)
05-26-2011 1:20 AM
Reply to: Message 86 by crashfrog
05-26-2011 12:22 AM


crashfrog writes:

I guess, but even as early as 70 AD the Christian church was trying to expand its temporal power and wealth.

I know what Jesus says but the phenomenon of Christianity has always been about the expansion of power and influence.

I think as often as not on an individual level you're wrong in this, but it has certainly happened far too often. When Christianity is abused in that way, it becomes noticed. The lone Christian who gives his last dime to the Sally Ann goes unnoticed.

crashfrog writes:

Except to the followers who believe he calls them to be a conquering army. The "message of Jesus" is all things to all people. It's justified mass slaughter, slavery, exploitation, and a host of other ills. Sure, you can tell me those people are "doing it wrong", that they've misunderstood the message of Jesus - but that's exactly what they tell me about you!

In general people believe what they want to believe and they read scripture in that light. In the thread "We Are Doomed" I have just tried to explain to Buz where I believe he is wrong in his understanding of what the Bible tells us. Just as I'm sure I'm not changing either his or your mind in this exchange I think I have at least demonstrated that it is reasonable to understand the scriptures the way I do.

As I've said many times, I believe God has created us in a world where we can freely choose everything from good to evil and all that lies between the extremes. If everything was clear cut we would lose the ability to make unselfish choices.

crashfrog writes:

That's the absolute earliest they could possibly have been written; there's ample reason to believe they were written much later, since the epistles appear to reference events known to have happened about 70 AD or so. And there's just no evidence that "eyewitnesses" contributed anything to any of the epistles.

That was part of Jesus' message. He forecast that if the Israelites carried on with their revolutionary plans the Romans would crush them. He forecast that it would happen within a generation. I believe he saw this partly through the prophets and largely through knowing that is what the Romans always did. He was calling the Israelites to a different way to deal with the Romans.

Interestingly enough I think that there is every reason to believe that the accounts were written prior to 70AD. Josephus wrote extensively on that period and the accounts that he gave didn't always agree with the NT accounts. Jesus talked about every stone being torn down. Matthew 24

quote:
1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things ? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.

We know that they weren't all torn down. There are other differences from the NT accounts when compared to the account in Josephus but it's late.

crashfrog writes:

That's just a self-serving and convenient assumption that flies in the face of substantial evidence. While it's possible to train your memory, the techniques aren't known to have existed at the time and at any rate, memory was widely viewed to be more or less infallible, so why would anyone have bothered?

I found this interesting. I think it has always been accepted that Rabbis memorized huge chunks of their scriptures.

Oral Tradition

crashfrog writes:

The writings of direct eyewitness, or their transcribed testimony. Barring that, specific and verifiable accounts of eyewitness testimony, not what the Bible actually has: "many saw this" and "the crowd saw that" and so on. Utterly anonymous and nonspecific - the mark of fabrication. "A hundred people saw it" isn't any kind of evidence if not a single one of the hundred can be produced. Saying you have eyewitness testimony isn't eyewitness testimony.

That would be true of any distant historical writing. We have to come to our own conclusions about its veracity.

crashfrog writes:

And predictable, unfortunately. I don't envy the religious for what they have to put up with from their fellows.

People get concerned because of unimportant inconsistencies in the texts. How about the big ones like in the OT the Israelites are supposedly told to go down and slaughter every man woman and child in the town. In the NT Jesus as God incarnate tells us to love our enemies. Does this sound like the same god to you? It doesn't to me so how do we reconcile the two.

If we insist on saying that the Bible is essentially dictated by God and turn the Bible itself into something to be worshipped then I suggest it can't be done. If however you believe as I do that the OT is part of the ongoing narrative of God revealing Himself to the world we can understand that God is in the OT but also that the Hebrews were constantly being influenced by the pagan nations around them and were continuously adjusting their vision of Yahweh to serve their own ends. (Of course we never see that today - do we? )

People like absolutes and if you say that every word in the Bible is an absolute then it makes things easier. It's like kids, when although they like to push the boundaries, they want to know where the boundaries are. God is less pushy that that.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 86 by crashfrog, posted 05-26-2011 12:22 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 88 by Theodoric, posted 05-26-2011 9:03 AM GDR has responded

    
Theodoric
Member
Posts: 5744
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 88 of 89 (617155)
05-26-2011 9:03 AM
Reply to: Message 87 by GDR
05-26-2011 1:20 AM


That would be true of any distant historical writing. We have to come to our own conclusions about its veracity.

Not at all. Historical writing will have a provenance and other independent confirmations. The majority of the NT is by anonymous authors. The author we know the most about only has writings that are included in the bible.

The historians of the age tended to have multiple writings. Also, their writings were mentioned by other people. There are multiple lines of verification. We cam follow the provenance of a lot of the writings of the age.

To state that we have to take historical writings on faith as we would have to the bible is is disingenuous at best.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
This message is a reply to:
 Message 87 by GDR, posted 05-26-2011 1:20 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 89 by GDR, posted 05-26-2011 10:49 AM Theodoric has not yet responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 89 of 89 (617164)
05-26-2011 10:49 AM
Reply to: Message 88 by Theodoric
05-26-2011 9:03 AM


I don't have any problem with that but there are several a number of different NT authors. The Gospels were likely from earlier sources whether it be "Q", "the Passion Narrative" or something else along with what was passed down by the oral tradition.

The people who wrote the NT were not historians as such. They were just ordinary people who were part of the early Christian movement and wrote specifically about what was then their specific branch of Judaism.

Regardless of how you want to compare it with other ancient writings we will just come to our own conclusions about we are to make of it.


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by Theodoric, posted 05-26-2011 9:03 AM Theodoric has not yet responded

    
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