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Author Topic:   Anti-theist
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


(1)
Message 375 of 479 (886585)
05-26-2021 2:27 AM
Reply to: Message 363 by AZPaul3
05-23-2021 4:00 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
Hola friends

AZPaul3 writes:

This is Sam Harris, again. I’ll use him often these next few weeks, maybe.

I am currently working on a response/rebuttal to this video you shared AzPaul, the goal is to synthesize each of the main arguments he makes here and respond to each, though I fear summer classes have now begun so it wont be as thorough as I wish. He makes some good points, and some pretty bad ones too lol. At any rate, this is a placeholder for now!

Till then,

-Raph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by AZPaul3, posted 05-23-2021 4:00 AM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 376 by NosyNed, posted 05-26-2021 8:06 AM Raphael has not yet responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 401 of 479 (886611)
05-26-2021 6:51 PM
Reply to: Message 363 by AZPaul3
05-23-2021 4:00 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
Ok. So I watched this most recent video you posted, dear AzPaul, and have attempted as best as possible to synthesize Harris' main arguments here. As best as I can gather, he has three main arguments in this video, with a few tangential points I will also address. These main arguments seem to be:

#1) "This is Exactly How Christianity Appears To Someone Who Has Not Been Indoctrinated By It"

#2) Christianity Is Built On Evidence That Can't Be Trusted

#3) (Most of) Religion is based on the claim that God dictates certain books, why believe when the book could be improved easily?

Let's begin with his first argument.

#1) "This is Exactly How Christianity Appears To Someone Who Has Not Been Indoctrinated By It"

He starts by appealing to (what one assumes) is an audience of Christians, or at least Americans, using an example of Islam. He appeals to the idea that non Muslims do not lose an ounce of sleep ever thinking about whether or not they will burn in hell for eternity for not believing the Quran is the divine word of Allah (what he perceives as its central claim). Essentially, he concludes with a pretty powerful statement, seen above in my title for this point, to argue that christianity appears the exact same way to those who do not believe it.

It was a compelling comparison, I find the more I listen to Sam Harris the more I find him to be a pretty intellectually honest guy, and a solid, compelling public speaker. He has a refreshing commitment to facts and honesty that I can't help but enjoy.

Hermeneutical Diversity

That said, I find this argument lacking. He does well to make this comparison, as it is a powerful idea that would probably open the eyes of many more fundamentalist Christians to see how others perceive them, as well as opening the mental category that others exist in the world who see us in the same way we see them; with simple dismissal. This is a powerful exercise that could probably benefit us all, Christian, anti-theist, and Sikh alike. However, this argument doesn't really hold up well.

I see Harris doing exactly what I see you do AZPaul . He Has latched onto a specific hermeneutical approach to the Bible and rejected that approach as if the approach is the text itself. He not only assumes he even understands the central claim of Islam, he equates Christianity with Islam as if the central ideas/claims are exactly the same. In this way, he not only makes a lot of assumptions, but he also does not allow for what is called hermeneutical diversity.This is the concept that there exists a spectrum of interpretation for scripture; the Bible (and the Quran) are not static texts with only one simple meaning. To Harris, the central claim of the Quran is "if you do not accept the Quran as Allah's divine scriptures you will burn in hell for eternity." I am not a Muslim, so will not delve into the weeds here, but I will say I know a couple Imams that would probably say the central idea of the Quran is "Allah desires ٱلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ ٱللَّٰهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ ("peace and the mercy of God") for all people." This discrepancy exists because of the concept of hermeneutical diversity.

In the same way, The Bible has an extremely large hermeneutical breadth, with the scholarly community agreeing upon some frameworks as more central, and others as more "fringe." While perhaps Jonathan Edwards, writing in the 1750's might agree with Harris' assumed position that the Bible, too, is a text all about "being sent to hell if you don't believe in its God," NT Wright, writing today, would probably say the Bible is "the story of how God is redeeming the world into what He originally created it to be." Edwards preached God's hatred of sinners, and repentance as a way to escape an eternally burning hell, while Wright would say Jesus breaks into history to rescue humans from hell, that is, the hell they have created for themselves with injustice, pollution, racism, etc.

All this to say, I think perhaps with this argument, Harris is latching onto a specific hermeneutic (the "if you don't believe this book you're going to hell" framework") that has been perpetuated by more fundamentalist conservative evangelicalism over the years, not recognizing that there is a whole range of other frameworks he might find more appealing. I will grant him, though, it was the Church itself that perpetuated this framework as the Christian idea, so the onus is on us for perpetuating such a harmful message.

Potential Cop Out? Maybe

Now, one might argue "hermeneutical diversity is simply a cop out for what the book clearly says." Sure, I hear that. However this isn't actually a foreign concept to us. For example, only last week new research emerged that any alcohol consumption actually harms the brain. This is a pretty big deal, however this study has yet to be peer reviewed. The peer review process has different credible scientists taking a look at the data presented, partly to confirm the research's conclusions/claims, but also in order to extrapolate meaning. Sure, the data can say something about alcohol, but does it then mean we cannot drink any alcohol without harming ourselves? One might argue this is not the role of scientists to ask this question, but rather an ethicist, or perhaps even an anthropologist or philosopher. But, in the real world, often scientists are both and.

As you have pointed out yourself, AZPPaul, the scientists themselves were the ones asking the ethical questions at the creation of the atom bomb. Anyway. Inevitably, no matter what happens in the peer review process, not all scientists will agree with the meaning of the data. Sometimes this means the data is not good, but usually it simply means there is a range, or spectrum of what a set of data can mean for people's lives.

In conclusion, (I spent way too much time here ) I find this argument to be pretty "meh." It is basically an appeal to emotion that uses a scarecrow and assumptions as a foundation, which, as I have shown, is a bit basic. I do not think though, that Harris thinks this is really a strong argument. He is a smart guy! I get the sense he knows this is simply an appeal to emotion, a "minds eye" sort of game even, and not an actual cogent argument. We will see his stronger arguments moving forward. Moving on then!

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : grammar again baby

Edited by Raphael, : final polish

Edited by Raphael, : somehow you always still miss one LOL

Edited by Raphael, : sigh

Edited by Raphael, : ...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by AZPaul3, posted 05-23-2021 4:00 AM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 407 by Tangle, posted 05-27-2021 2:46 AM Raphael has not yet responded
 Message 411 by Percy, posted 05-27-2021 4:03 PM Raphael has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


(1)
Message 403 of 479 (886613)
05-26-2021 9:42 PM
Reply to: Message 363 by AZPaul3
05-23-2021 4:00 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
Alright, now moving onto his second argument. After listening a few times, Harris seems to be arguing here that:

Argument #2: Christianity is Built on Evidence That Can't Be Trusted

If I were a Christian, raised in Christian community to count on Biblical inerrancy (as I was ), I would imagine I might experience a slight bit of panic, or perhaps even defensiveness upon hearing this. The question would arise within, then, "well...why can't the evidence be trusted?" Harris has a few reasons:

1. There are thousands of discrepancies between manuscripts
2. There are no originals, only copies and copies of copies
3. The canon has shifted over the years (he uses the example of the book of Revelation and The Shepherd of Hermas)
4. They contain miracle stories, miracles can't be trusted especially when contemporary miracle stories are mostly ignored

As I have addressed similar things in years back here, I am hesitant to delve into paragraphs and paragraphs of things I could say in response to these arguments. Alas, school is a jealous mistress That said, I'll throw down a few responses in shorter fashion.

1. There are thousands of discrepancies between manuscripts

This one is a classic argument I have seen many places, made often as a reason why the manuscripts can't be trusted. However, and the first three of his reasons all follow a similar pattern; these reasons, in reality, reveal an ignorance of how the New Testament was created, rather than expose it. This is important; essentially none of the things Harris presents here are "skeletons in the closet" of Christianity. He brings them up as if these things are the "hidden dark secret" of the Bible, when in reality, anybody who has done any high level academic work in Biblical studies knows these things. What's more, New Testament scholars are the first to acknowledge gaps in knowledge, inconsistencies, and blind spots, and in fact it was NT Scholars who discovered these "discrepancies." I learned this stuff in my third year of undergrad studies lol.

Anyway, all this to say, an argument like this has a bit of "shock value" for your average American christian, but a reason like this doesn't really hold up to actual New Testament scholars. The reason for this is that essentially 98% of these "thousands of discrepancies" are punctuation & grammar. Essentially none are main ideas or significant parts of the text, and only an extreme minimum are actual differences or what one might perceive as a "contradiction." For example, we have a lot of evidence to suggest the latter half of what would become known as The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11 & Matt 6 was a later addition, the part that reads,

"...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

This is significant, and it is the reason more contemporary, literal translations, like the English Standard Version and NASB do not include this portion in the main body of the text, and provide footnotes. However, not only is this extremely rare in the New Testament, NT Scholars are the first ones to notice places like this and are honest about them.

All this to say, when I encounter this argument in particular it simply reveals to me the person arguing has not done the scholarly work to understand what they are even talking about. It's something people say for shock value, but when you actually do the intellectual work you discover it doesn't really have as much weight as it appears. Are there inconsistencies in the manuscripts? For sure, nobody, least of all the community of biblical scholars would contest that. But do the inconsistencies expose some sort of "secret weak point" in our ability to trust in the Scriptures as authentic? Not really.

PS: A great resource for all these questions is: - Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, Greenlee (1993) .

2. There are no originals, only copies and copies of copies

This reason falls within the same category as the first; the fact that we have no original manuscripts is not a secret to anyone in the scholarly community. This might seem like a big deal, until you recognize we do not have original manuscripts for around 80% (perhaps more) of all historical documents. Everything from a certain period backward is a copy. Literally everything. The reason is because paper/papyrus has a shelf life, and its usually not 2-3 thousand years .

Humor aside, this reason does seem pretty damning, but it is another example of selective language. He does not tell the audience we only have 7 (literally 7) copies (not originals, none exist). of Plato. We have 8 copies (no originals, none exist) of Suetonius. We have 49 copies (no originals, none exist) of Aristotle. In contrast, there are 5,686 copies of the New Testament, with more expected to be discovered.

In conclusion, this is another area that reveals some pretty selective language on the part of Harris, in order to present a case that sounds damning, but to any actual scholar only reveals his bias and reluctance to actually intellectually engage with all the information. For a guy who so often talks about intellectual honesty, I wish he would do a little better.

3. The canon has shifted over the years (he uses the example of the book of Revelation and The Shepherd of Hermas)

This third reason, while in a similar vein to the first two, is an example of interesting framing on Harris' part. Again, the fact that the canon has shifted over the years is no surprise to anyone in the higher levels of biblical work, rather, we see it as an extremely important, dare I say crucial part of the authentication of scripture. Talks of the Shepherd of Hermas (a really interesting read btw!) or the Gospel of Judas (a little more on the wacky side lol) might, again, surprise nominal christians or people who do not understand how the Bible was compiled, but to scholars it comes as no surprise. The process of weighing the content, discerning credible authorship, comparison in message to earlier documents, and prayer are critical parts of the scholarly work of canon.

I have found the canonization of the scriptures to be, in general, one of the more common critiques and fears about The Bible in my conversations with people. For good reason too, for the idea that a secret, shadow council of ancient guys came together and arbitrarily picked which books were "in" and which were "out" would be terrifying. That would make for a very interesting movie! However, the truth is really more mundane. In reality, the work of canon is more about discerning the things that are central, and those that are peripheral. I believe I have mentioned this in a response to Percy at some point. There exists within Biblical scholarship the concept that certain things are "central," while others are "peripheral" or "non essential." Think of this as two circles, a smaller one within a larger one, with the smaller one being "central." Biblical scholars are, at least 98.9% of them, in agreement that all books in the canon are central to the message of the Bible. That said, there do exist other works that scholars recognize have been spiritually meaningful to people over the years. The Shepherd of Hermas is one of those works.

I'm rambling lol. A few final points in summary,

First, Harris frames the shifting canon as a reason for why the Bible cant be trusted. However, to real scholars, the shifting canon is a crucial part of Biblical work because it inherently creates 1) accountability within the community 2) the ability to be intellectually honest about a document rather than revere it as "untouchable" and 3) a healthy open-handed approach to scripture. The fact that Revelation was not included in the canon for awhile, and then was later officially accepted shows a non-dogmatism and intellectual openness that is crucial when studying the Bible.

Second, books like the Shepherd of Hermas are not secrets to the scholarly community and, on the contrary, have their place in Christian literature history and are valued for what they are.

In conclusion, I found this reason to be the strongest so far, but upon deep inspection, does not quite hold up as well as perhaps Harris hoped. Biblical scholars value the work of canon, and anyone who understands the process of canon would as well. It is, rather, the person who does not understand this process that views it as suspicious.

4. They contain miracle stories, miracles can't be trusted especially when contemporary miracle stories are mostly ignored

My rebuttal to this last reason I do not think will be agreed with Haha. I essentially have the same thing to say here as I did to AZPaul in our last major debate, about the scientific method. I won't rehash that all, but maybe provide a slightly different take.

Competing Definitions of The Axiological Limitations of Science

What we are essentially dealing with here, I perceive, are competing definitions of the axiological boundaries of science and the scientific method. Said another way, "what is science for?" and more specifically, "what does it have the tools to study?" Harris (this is an assumption, correct me if I am wrong) would probably say that miracles and the supernatural are within the boundaries of the scientific method, meaning, science is able to study supernatural phenomenon in order to determine if they are supernatural or not. Then, using this data, one is able to apply the conclusions to the historical method, and interpret history based on that framework.

The Harris View

Said a more simple way, Harris doesn't believe the text can be trusted because the text includes miracles. Miracles can be tested, and none have ever really been seen. Therefore, whenever we read something claiming to be historiography (history), and it includes something supernatural, it is therefore either not history or some other category of peudohistory, like myth, embellished history, historical fiction, propaganda, etc. In this way, Harris approaches the New Testament with an inherent historical method bias where he discounts anything supernatural, because he assumes miracles are within the scope of science's ability to observe. This is a faith assumption and not necessarily true.

The Biblical View

In response, the Biblical view (I don't like this name lol but it is the most clear) posits that science is axiologically limited. This means that the supernatural (including miracles) are outside of the boundary of what it is able to test. Science can attempt to study miracles, but since supernatural phenomenon are outside of its axiological scope, it has no tools to either verify or falsify them. Therefore, when we read the text, we are asked by the author to trust that their testimony is true, or, in other words, believe by faith. This faith decision is, in part, simple faith, but also an intellectual decision based on evidence.

Personal and Practical Conclusions

In conclusion, this argument by Harris is also pretty strong. To me though, it all comes down to recognizing our own inherent biases. Have you examined your historical method bias and recognized it is built upon a faith assumption? Have I examined my biblical bias and recognized my holding community brought me up to accept these stories as true? In my view, it is only after acknowledging these biases, these ways we assume the validity of certain things, can we ever experience an authentic search for truth. My experience is, guys like Harris are quick to point the finger at the biases of believers while never acknowledging their own. Are miracles real? Nobody knows for certain. You certainly don't. And while I believe they happen, neither do I. After getting that out of the way, we can ask the real questions, like,

- If the miracle stories were false, why do we not find any documents or evidence from the era of people debunking them?
- If the miracle stories, in particular, the story of the resurrection, were fiction, how would a fictitious story spread as truth with as much potency as the early church did? Surely at least one alleged eyewitness would admit the truth that they made it up, such as what happened with the Manson Family (eventually his followers gave up & turned themselves in).
- Why were these stories so compelling to a group of people that they were willing to die by the thousands, for the validity of them?

This has been quite the journey! I am exhausted lol. Will wait on tomorrow for the final rebuttal Until then,

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : you already know


This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by AZPaul3, posted 05-23-2021 4:00 AM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 410 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2021 12:49 PM Raphael has not yet responded
 Message 412 by Percy, posted 05-28-2021 9:21 AM Raphael has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 416 of 479 (886644)
05-29-2021 4:14 AM
Reply to: Message 411 by Percy
05-27-2021 4:03 PM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
His audience is almost exclusively Christian.

Christians have an exceedingly casual attitude toward the possibility that Islam is right

Or, to repeat my own earlier argument, but for one deity most people are anti-theist.

If you think the argument doesn't hold up then you're misconstruing it.

For sure. I understand what he is saying, and I think it is a valuable mental exercise. However you're good at this, Percy . You've totally dismissed everything I wrote by chopping it up to me misunderstanding him. It's a great strategy I've seen you use often! Haha.

However, I'm pretty confident in my ability to understand what he's arguing. I can admit I did fixate on his interpretive work, but that is because, frankly, I do not think Sam Harris even understands what the Bible (or the Quran) is about. I question his interpretive work from which he is drawing conclusions. I don't blame him for his interpretation, they have been perpetuated by certain groups in the Church for many years. His point, which, again, I agree is very poignant (I pretty much agree with it!) that major religions ought to consider the implications of other religions, if true, stands.

However, if he does not even understand the claim of the religion he is rebutting, his argument falls short. That was my point.

You can say, "They argue this while we argue that, and we argue that while they argue this," but they are differences of detail and not of form. They're both false for the same fundamental reason: they're made up.

I respect your belief that both are made up, but to me, whether or not they are made up isn't really relevant to his argument. It is valuable, dare I say crucial for anyone to contemplate the implications of their worldview being totally wrong. With this point, I am with Harris. Where I diverge is his understanding of what the religions are and what their goals are. I question his understanding of the fundamental claims and therefore his ability to critique them. I wish he would do better!

Anyone who has done any higher education knows, any attempt to critique an argument/position/belief system without doing the work of understanding the opposing view comes across as elementary and unacceptable.

Your hermeneutical diversity argument is, in one sense, meaningless because even a most liberal Christian religion that accepted all religious belief is still wrong from Harris's perspective because all religious belief is wrong. It's all based upon humanity's underlying need for purpose and not on any valid reasoning based on facts.

I recognize Harris does indeed take that view. However I was doing my best to respond simply to the arguments made in the video. I see, though, where his view and mine fundamentally break so, as you said, to argue about hermeneutical diversity is irrelevant to him.

But your hermeneutical diversity argument is, in another sense, the epitome of the very argument you're arguing against. Amidst all this interpretational diversity, they can't all be right.

I can see how it seems that way, but I do not agree. The Bible itself is a document that acknowledges its own inability to actually convey truth in its truest form. The metaphor I use often is some unknown object being reflected off a multi-sided diamond. Think of "truth" as if it is the invisible object, out of view. All we have is the diamond. And so we do our best with the reflection. We "see in a glass dimly," as the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians. But we have no idea what it really looks like. The scriptures are self-aware in this sense.

Even you, as we debate, are working from a specific hermeneutical framework you either learned or some person gave you. You are projecting a certain framework as you speak, and so does Harris. These things are inescapable. Not all frameworks are created equal. Many are, frankly, "wack" . That's my point.

As Harris explained, science is tentative. This study won't be the last word on alcohol and the brain, plus the scientific data on the benefits of alcohol for something else (I forget what - cancer? stroke?) are pretty strong, and then there are the psychological aspects.

For sure, agree with you here. My point was, the idea of a spectrum of meaning is common. Sometimes data points to one conclusive meaning, but more often than not, there is a range. It is then up to trusted competent members in the community to weigh in on which meanings are more valuable than others. The same is true for scripture.

Harris covered this. You can't justifiably fill in the blanks of what science doesn't know or isn't certain of with the God of Abraham.

Sure, but I'm not doing that. I'm not even talking about that. I brought this up to point to the fact that there is diversity in the way the scientific community interprets data.

You couldn't be more wrong. It's an appeal to fact and reason.

I agree with reason, but what facts? He makes a very compelling argument based on the idea that one ought to contemplate how little the catastrophic implications of other religions effect oneself. In response, I say, one ought to have done the work to understand the core message of said religion before critiquing its implications.

Translation: "And so I dismiss and ignore this argument without waiting to see what flaws are found in my own and move on to my next point."

Ironically, this is what you have done to me . I understand his argument, I even said it was compelling in its own way. However I do not think he views this as his strongest reason against religion. The mental exercise he posits is valuable in its own way. I question, though, if he has done due diligence in understanding the central claims of both religions, and his examples of their central claims demonstrate to me he has not. If he has not taken either religion seriously enough to understand their central claims, or at least acknowledge the hermeneutical diversity in each community, why should I take his argument seriously? Its intellectually lazy.

Regards!

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup #2


This message is a reply to:
 Message 411 by Percy, posted 05-27-2021 4:03 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 426 by Percy, posted 05-30-2021 1:36 PM Raphael has not yet responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


(1)
Message 417 of 479 (886645)
05-29-2021 5:31 AM
Reply to: Message 412 by Percy
05-28-2021 9:21 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
There's a fundamental mistake religion makes, one Harris doesn't mention, and that's to default to trust before anything is proven. You trust the Bible before establishing facts, then work backwards to rationalize that unearned trust. An a priori examination of the facts that follows wherever the evidence leads never happens.

That is true! Religion and in particular Christianity definitely does this. But it does this for an important reason I have tried to talk about a lot here; it is a difference in epistemology. You have asked about this before, Percy, and I have been been admittedly hesitant . And I still am! Lol. I don't know that I'm ready to provide an exhaustive treatise on alternative epistemologies (I'd like to at some point!), but to speak to this point, most religions believe in divine revelation as an alternate form of epistemology. This is why we work this way.

I will agree that religion, Christianity in particular, is an optimistic faith. At the core, we trust the stories of those who have come before to be true. A scientist views this through the lens of the scientific method; we view it through the lens of relationship. Think of it as if the Apostle Peter (who we believe is the source of the Gospel of Mark) is handing a firsthand account down a long line of people, who eventually hand it to you, and asks "This actually happened to me. Won't you trust me?"

A key Harris argument you missed, but it went by very fast on his way to another point, is that the gospels were written decades after Jesus's life.

True! My bad, I did miss this one, apologies. In response, this is another example of selective framing. The fact that the gospels were written decades after Jesus' life is critical evidence for their accuracy not the other way around. There would be people alive who could verify the truth of the events. Most documents from the time period have hundreds of years between the event and the account or earliest known copy.

So the Bible has all these "gaps in knowledge, inconsistencies, and blind spots" (not to mention outright errors), but you believe the stories. Why? Islam likewise has problems, but I assume you believe those real. Why?

As I said earlier, because it is relational, not scientific. We think about it through this lens. When someone in your family, someone you trust and love, tells you something miraculous happened to them, at the least, you believe it was significant to them. Then when others corroborate the story, it becomes even more convincing. In the end, it is a faith decision we are all presented with. This doesn't mean we don't think critically. Hence the questions I posed a few posts earlier when I was responding to Harris' 2nd argument. These are questions we intellectually ask the eyewitnesses. Why was this so significant for you? If it didn't happen, why would you, and every other eyewitness die saying it did? Was everybody insane or indoctrinated? Not even one confession? Why would a fictional story be written with so many unnecessary parts that hinder its believability? Why would the author write-in barriers to the culture of the time being able to believe it? Why do the authors mention people on first name basis and never mention them again?

What if there were no differences, no discrepancies, no internal or external errors? What if every copy of every Biblical book were identical, like the text of all copies of The Hobbit are identical? You'd still believe it all. Why?

Actually, I most likely wouldn't If every single copy of every Biblical book were identical, like The Hobbit, I would be infinitely more skeptical than I am now. The fact that they are different points to the organic, human process making copies actually is. If a document as large as the New Testament had zero differences it would raise my alarms more than almost anything else.

Important to note, this is actually one of the reasons scholars trust the text more, rather than less.

The whole subject is a rathole. We'll never agree whether science can study the supernatural.

Agree with you here. And I actually agree with what you said about light and the virgin Mary. Science certainly is able to study things that can help us discern parts of pieces of truth, and is helpful in rebutting superstitions with natural causes, for example.

My point was, from a Biblical perspective (again do not love this title lol), we hold that science simply does not have the tools to completely falsify or verify anything outside the natural realm. How could a system created by humans verify/falsify something completely unknowable?

This makes little sense. Faith has no need of evidence while evidence removes the need for faith. Beliefs based upon observation and analysis are scientific, upon faith religious. Once you claim evidence underlies your beliefs it is no longer faith.

You are working from a specific definition of faith, my friend. There are different types of faith. The type you speak of is blind faith. Blind faith has no need of evidence, it simply believes things willy nilly, without critical thought or intention. Evidenced faith on the other hand, is 1) Faith in the story that 2) Searches critically for evidence that might verify/falsify the story. In this sense, the scholar who works from a place of evidenced faith utilizes science a great deal! From archeology, linguistics, carbon dating, to history, the real scholar considers the evidence critically. We are also open to revelation as evidence, for, if the God of the text existed and the story is true, revelation could be counted on as as piece (not the whole) of evidence.

In summary, you seem to view faith and evidence as mutually exclusive, but I do not think this is true. That is not my kind of faith.

Science works toward the elimination of bias through replication and consensus, while you seem to be embracing bias as an excuse for believing anything. Would you accept this argument: "I'm biased toward a stolen election, you're biased toward a free and fair election, we must all admit we have biases and carry on, so I'm justified in voting against certification of the vote." Saying, "Oh, we're all biased," is an excuse for not doing the work to underpin your beliefs with facts.

This is good! Solid argument . Nice. I see this is not your first rodeo. Haha. In response, I accept it in theory, but wouldn't accept that argument here, because I think it is a slightly skewed representation of what we are talking about. Maybe a more accurate one would be "I'm biased towards Republicans, you're biased towards Democrats, and we are both biased because of beliefs we hold about the world and our society."

Admitting we are all biased allows us to actually be intellectually honest, the very thing Harris says we ought to relentlessly pursue.

But really, where we are missing each other, is you do not see the faith gap beneath your worldview, whereas I see my own. I own the fact that I believe in an unverifiable story.

On the other hand, you see the scientific method as able to verify/falsify supernatural claims. I do not even think I disagree fully with this, as it pertains to superstitions, as I mentioned earlier. I just see the belief that science has the tools to test unknowable things as a faith assumption. You have no way to verify it, you simply believe it by faith. We'll probably not agree about this though, as you said. Haha.

Why would anyone in 30 AD try to debunk stories that didn't exist until decades later.

For the same reasons you, PaulK, and AZPaul do. Lol. That aside, I think what I meant was after the stories were written, we have no documents of anyone compiling counter-evidence or any mention of famous rebuttals to the evidence of the resurrection. Why is that? Perhaps they were destroyed by the church? Maybe. But it is interesting to ponder!

If the Quran is fiction, how would it spread as truth with such power and swiftness?

This is good too! Nice. In response, this is the kind of question we should be asking! This is the kind of question we ask in the scholarly community all the time. I do not believe the Quran is all fiction. I am also no Quran expert, but the studies I have done lead us to recognize how heavily the Quran borrows from Biblical stories, concepts, and ideas. It is full of borrowed stories and altered narratives. It was written 6-700 years after The New Testament, after all. Combine that with the power of a strong figurehead in Muhammad, and it makes a lot of sense culturally! But this question is really important. I do not fully dismiss its value for humanity, as it is a cousin to my faith tradition, afterall.

Were there eyewitnesses? Or just stories about eyewitnesses?

Indeed, this is an important question to ask. There are many stories about eyewitnesses, and almost none from eyewitnesses themselves. Father Papias tells us Mark is the eyewitness account of Peter. Luke is not an eyewitness, but he claims to have done really crucial investigative and compilation work with his letter (Luke-Acts), and interviewing of eyewitnesses. These are crucial questions scholars ask though!

Why is Islam so compelling that people were and are willing to die for it by the thousands, do anything for it, including flying planes into buildings.

Again, you are making my point for me. These are the crucial questions we should be asking about the power of story, religion, testimony, indoctrination, radicalization, etc. I never said the work of evidenced faith was black and white or even an easy search. In some ways we are simply grasping at straws, fumbling around in the dark with only scraps of the map trying to see the whole. But the cost is too high. If the story is true, it matters more than any other thing in human history. So we continue to grasp in the dark, asking the hard questions, trusting the stories of those who came before.

In conclusion, all these questions are not questions that hinder us as we cling to the story of the risen Christ, but rather they are the essential ones to ask to remain intellectually honest.

PS. I think the places where we are missing each other, in how we see the world and in this debate is:

1) The idea that science can verify/falsify all supernatural claims being an unproven faith assumption
2) An openness to revelation as a form of epistemology.

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup!

Edited by Raphael, : cleanup #2

Edited by Raphael, : One more

Edited by Raphael, : Y’all know the drill


This message is a reply to:
 Message 412 by Percy, posted 05-28-2021 9:21 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 418 by PaulK, posted 05-29-2021 6:10 AM Raphael has not yet responded
 Message 419 by Tangle, posted 05-29-2021 7:27 AM Raphael has not yet responded
 Message 427 by Percy, posted 05-30-2021 9:16 PM Raphael has not yet responded

  
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