Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Answer for Bubba in return for a Question for Bubba


A question from Bubba:

Suppose that a child got a very serious cut on his arm, and the cut became infected with gangrene, a lethal infection if it goes untreated.
Suppose furthermore that antibiotic and anesthetic are unavailable, perhaps because the situation predates modern medicine or the family is marooned on an uninhabited island, Swiss Family Robinson style.
Suppose that, if the father doesn’t amputate the arm even without anesthetic, his child dies.
And suppose the child is too young to understand what death means but not too young to understand that getting his arm cut off is going to hurt. A LOT.
Finally, suppose that the father is a good father who has given his child every reason in the world to believe that he always has the kid’s best interests at heart, even enduring great hardship for his sake.
QUESTION 1: What is the father’s moral duty, to amputate without anesthetic, to let the child die, or to let this very young child decide whether he wants to live without an arm even if he doesn’t really understand the fatal alternative?

Amputate the arm, if the father knows well enough how to do this without making things worse. I would add the caveat that, if the child were old enough - a young man, for instance - then the decision about how to proceed should be the young adult's decision. But you stipulated a very young child, so that is my answer.

Easy enough. Do you need any further clarification or does that suffice?

Dan's question for Bubba:

You hold several opinions about what God wants us to do/how God wants us to behave. You hold the opinion, for instance, that God is opposed to gay folk marrying one another (or words to that affect) or that God supports Christians going to war to kill their nation's enemies. Clearly, this and all of your opinions about what God thinks are your human opinions, interpretations that you take from biblical teachings. As your human opinions, they are your subjective, unprovable opinions, they are not objective facts about what God does or doesn't want. Is this correct?

IF it's not correct... IF you think that your opinions about what God wants are objective facts that are provable, demonstrable, please provide the hard data to support that claim.

Since, in the real world, these are clearly subjective and unprovable opinions, this should be an easy question to answer, but you tell me.

129 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

Not sure what's up with the white highlighting...

Bubba said...

I appreciate the answer, Dan. Obviously the father should defer to someone who has better skills at amputation if possible, someone such as a ship's surgeon if they were stranded like the Swiss Family Robinson, or even a butcher. But even if there were no other otpions and he wasn't very skilled at amputation, I'm not sure how the attempt would make things worse in the case of a fatale infection of gangrene.

To answer YOUR question, no, your summary is not correct.

You're treating "objective" and "provable" as synonyms, and "subjective" and "unprovable" as synonyms, which isn't always the case.

I refer you to this online summary of the distinction between objective and subjective, from a community college in California.

"An objective claim is a statement about a factual matter-one that can be proved true or false," BUT "A statement is a factual matter even if you can only imagine a method by which it might be verified."

"A subjective claim, on the other hand, is not a factual matter; it is an expression of belief, opinion, or personal preference. A subjective claim cannot be proved right or wrong by any generally accepted criteria."

Look at the two groups of examples.

The following are objective claims even though at least one of the claims is false.

- Taipei 101 is the world's tallest building.
- Five plus four equals ten.
- There are nine planets in our solar system.

The following are subjective claims.

- Trout tastes better than catfish.
- Touching a spider is scary.
- Venus Williams is the greatest athlete of this decade.
- Hamsters make the best pets.

The two claims we're discussing CLEARLY fall in the first group, not the second group:

- God permits SOME instances of lethal force.
- God forbids ALL instances of homosexual intercourse.

Whether we're referring to God as He really is or merely Yahweh as described in the 66 books of the canonical Christian Bible, these claims are objective. The latter is obviously objective because we can read the books from which the claims are drawn, and the former is objective because God could inform us of His moral law through revelation.

These claims may be incorrect, but they're not merely subjective opinions.

The fact that you're arguing about these things point to your recognition that they're not merely subjective opinions, even if you're a bit confused on the distinction.

After all, I doubt you get into actual arguments with people about what foods THEY find tasty or what situations THEY find scary: such subjective beliefs aren't subject to a substantive argument.

--

Now, having answered your question, I have a follow-up to mine, from that original conversation.

QUESTION 2: Suppose [as we both agree] the father decides that amputation is his moral duty; what is the child's moral duty? To trust the love and wisdom of his father, to do something else, or does he have no moral duty in this situation?

Dan Trabue said...

Hang on, Bubba, not so fast. You are factually mistaken on at least some points...

Whether we're referring to God as He really is or merely Yahweh as described in the 66 books of the canonical Christian Bible, these claims are objective. The latter is obviously objective because we can read the books from which the claims are drawn, and the former is objective because God could inform us of His moral law through revelation.

No.

Whether there is a text in the Bible that says "1, 2 and 3..." is an objective fact. That is, it is verifiable by ALL observers who look at it. It is demonstrable. Objective. It is either there or it isn't.

BUT, and here is where you err, what does that text MEAN? Does the text saying "1, 2, 3..." MEAN that God believes/wants 1, 2 3...? Or, even if the text says "God says 1, 2, 3..." does that mean that God objectively means 1, 2, 3? No, it factually does not. That is a matter of interpretation. Opinion. Subjective, NOT provable, NOT objective (ie, not apparent to all observers.)

You are conflating your opinions and interpretations of a text with God's actual Word. IF God confirms for us, 1, 2 and 3 and that is apparent to all, THEN it is an objective fact.

As it is, that YOU INTERPRET a biblical text that says (objectively) 1, 2 and 3 TO MEAN that God believes 1, 2 and 3.

You conflate your opinion with God's word. Do you see the error?

No one disputes if a text says what it literally says. What is in dispute, what is SUBJECTIVE OPINION is the meaning of the text.

Before we move on: Do you understand this reality?

Marshall Art said...

Is this another private party? If not, I would say that Dan is once again providing for himself permission to believe what he prefers, rather than what can honestly be drawn from what is objectively, specifically and unequivocally stated in Scripture.

For example, one needs to stretch beyond all recognition, as Dan does, those verses one might use to legitimize the concept that God would bless a same-sex union. That goes beyond subjective interpretation to injecting meaning into that which does not provide such meaning, or from which such meaning cannot be legitimately and honestly drawn. In the meantime, Lev 18:22 is unequivocal in its prohibition and the reason for it, and as such it precedes no other verse that a rational, reasonable and honest person can insist mitigates the prohibition or the reason for it. Indeed, that verse does not account for ANY circumstance in which the behavior might be engaged and by which it might not be an abomination, and is included in a list of prohibited sexual behaviors, each with some indication of why it is prohibited. None of those reasons refer to a context or scenario in which the behavior can be engaged without it being sinful, as the prohibitions do not concern itself with such. They only and simply say, "this is forbidden" with a "because" following them. THAT is the only honest "objective" understanding and no other meaning need be divined or honestly, reasonably or rationally can be.

Past discussions on this subject have sought such honest, reasonable or rational alternative interpretations without satisfaction.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"Do you see the error?"

"Do you understand this reality?"

Those are two questions, not one.

They are questions where you're hectoring rather than merely inquiring: you're trying to induce me to agree with YOUR position rather than explain MY position.

And they are obviously loaded questions, based on the assumption that I am in error and that your position is reality.

I'm not. It isn't.

You're still QUITE EXPLICITLY conflating an objective fact claim with a claim that is provable beyond any doubt, writing that my interpretation of the Bible is "Subjective, NOT provable, NOT objective (ie, not apparent to all observers.)"

But not all objective fact claims are provable, much less "apparent to all observers."

Again, "A statement is a factual matter even if you can only imagine a method by which it might be verified."

If I were compelled to testify about some event to which I was an eyewitness, that testimony would involve objective fact claims about what happened EVEN IF I could produce no evidence to prove what happened and the truthfulness of my testimony isn't "apparent to all observers."

(Here, you could imagine a test to prove my testimony: invent a time machine.)

An interpretation of a text may land anywhere along a spectrum of plausibility, from indisputably correct to likely to unlikely to indisputably wrong, but the interpretation remains an objective claim of fact, one that COULD be verified by asking the author.

In the case of merely human writing, an interpretation doesn't suddenly turn from objective to subjective just because the author dies: again, one can imagine inventing a time machine to travel back and ask the writer how well the interpretation matches up with what he was trying to communicate.

What's subjective is one's feelings about the text or an interpretation: "I like that passage," or "the idea of the Atonement nauseautes me."

THOSE are subjective opinions and are not subject to rational argument.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

In the meantime, Lev 18:22 is unequivocal in its prohibition and the reason for it, and as such it precedes no other verse that a rational, reasonable and honest person can insist mitigates the prohibition or the reason for it.

Only if you read a lot into it and take the passage with a bunch of preconceptions. For instance:

1. That the Bible reflects a good/reliable moral code beneficial to all people and not just reflecting an ancient culture's ideas.

2. That the Bible is to be taken en toto as a moral code, that is, if you find a condemnation of something in an OT passage (even if it appears to come from a mythic story), that you can then safely conclude that this behavior is bad in all times and places.

3. That God has an opinion about all gay behavior and that opinion is reflected accurately in the Lev passages.

4. That when Leviticus says "men shall not lie with men" that it is a universal condemnation of all gay AND LESBIAN behavior, none of which is found in the text.

And so on. You are going into the reading of this passage with an incredible amount of cultural and emotional baggage that you bring with you. GIVEN that cultural and emotional baggage, then you truly can't see how people might take such a passage differently than you do. But, factually speaking, in the real world, people DO take the passage differently than you do, and do so in good faith.

That's just an observable fact.

Demonstrably so.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

But not all objective fact claims are provable, much less "apparent to all observers."

Then you'll have to provide me with your definition of "objective," because that is contrary to the very definition that I've been operating from - the standard English MW definition.

Your definition, then?

Bubba said...

Dan, I was almost done writing a long-ish reply explaining how, in the relevant definition (1b) at Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, what's perceptible by all observers isn't necessarily any single object or phenomenon, but that object or phenomenon's realm; and how, if the relevant definition of "subjective" (3b) held true for the meaning of a text, reliable communication would be impossible.

I've deleted all that because I can make my point very easily.

What you wrote about the Bible, I'm abridging to make clear how your position applies to all written works.

"Whether there is a text [...] that says '1, 2 and 3...' is an objective fact. That is, it is verifiable by ALL observers who look at it. It is demonstrable. Objective. It is either there or it isn't.

"BUT, and here is where you err, what does that text MEAN? [...] That is a matter of interpretation. Opinion. Subjective, NOT provable, NOT objective (ie, not apparent to all observers.)
"

Okay, you can point to a dictionary definition and we can see that the text contains a sequence of words in a particular order, but what does that sequence mean?

If you really thought that the dictionary definition's meaning was "Opinion. Subjective, NOT provable, NOT objective," YOU WOULD NEVER ATTEMPT TO APPEAL TO A DICTIONARY TO SETTLE ANY OF THESE SORTS OF DISAGREEMENTS.

By appealing to the dictionary definition, you act as if its meaning is objective. Implicitly but quite clearly, your behavior completely contradicts your stated position and affirms mine.

--

Now that that's been cleared up, I'd appreciate your answering my second question, for the sake of that one-for-one discussion that you've been clamoring about.

We've barely just started, and already this dialogue has become very lopsided indeed, and I wonder how many questions of yours I must answer for every one question of mine that you answer.

Craig said...

I don't really want to get involved in this to any extent, but I had to look up objective to get some perspective beyond the definition Dan has been using.

What I've found is that only one source uses the "apparent to all" wording. Now, far be it for me to disagree with old MW, but there are a host of alternate definitions that do not use the "apparent to all" standard. It is my (admittedly subjective opinion) that Dan spent time looking at the definitions of objective, before choosing the one that was the most favorable to his point of view. Some might call that cherry picking.

Anyway, maybe the thing to do would be to come up with a working definition of objective/subjective that would be less loaded than the one Dan has chosen, yet still would be agreeable to both.

That just seems fair, doesn't it?

Marshall Art said...

"Only if you read a lot into it and take the passage with a bunch of preconceptions."

You continue to put forth this incredibly ironic defense. The irony is in the fact that what you refer to as "preconceptions" are based on the thousands of years since the writing of Leviticus where homosexual behavior of all kinds was considered the same abomination. Your statement implies that there was ever a time when homosexual behavior was not regarded with any moral opinion of right or wrong, but then our own culture decided to regard it as sinful. This is twisted and absolutely reversing the reality. FIRST came the prohibition (because it is an abomination) and then understanding that you regard as a preconception.

"3. That God has an opinion about all gay behavior and that opinion is reflected accurately in the Lev passages."

It could not be more clear that he DOES have an opinion about all gay behavior. He calls it an abomination. It is absolutely "apparent to all" honest people.

"4. That when Leviticus says "men shall not lie with men" that it is a universal condemnation of all gay AND LESBIAN behavior, none of which is found in the text."

It is the activists and their enablers that dare suggest there is any contextual loophole from a verse that speaks ONLY of the behavior itself (without any context in which it might take place) and prohibits it because God considers it an abomination. That is YOU reading into the verse what is not there. I read it as it is, and so do other people who are honest about the subject. Once again, it is like a parent saying, "Don't hit your sister. It is naughty." and you respond, "What if I hit her like this?"

The questions I've asked in the past based on such points as you've listed continue to go unanswered. Those revolve around your support for your position that your interpretation might be legitimate. You've yet to provide that support and instead continue to make assertions regarding preconceived notions about what "thou shalt not" could possibly mean.

Dan Trabue said...

Again, Bubba, what definition of "objective" are you using?

One question completed/answered at a time.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

@Bubba
'' God permits SOME instances of lethal force.
- God forbids ALL instances of homosexual intercourse''
Before any discussion can take place regarding objectivity or subjectivity where it involves a god , you must first demonstrate the veracity of the clam that your god is who/what you claim.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

It is my (admittedly subjective opinion) that Dan spent time looking at the definitions of objective, before choosing the one that was the most favorable to his point of view.

Factually incorrect. I had some conservative criticize me once for using dictionary.com instead of Merriam Webster as The Source for English definitions. Since then, I have pretty consistently used MW, to defer to at least one conservative fella's wish. And in this case, this definition seems to be the main, common English usage of the word.

Beyond that, I made clear that this was the definition I was operating from and have always asked you all to, by all means, provide the definition you are using for the word, if it's not this one.

If, for instance, you mean "objective" in the sense that "an opinion that is not provable and that some people can agree with, but not that is apparent to all people..." well, okay, then we can agree that with THAT definition, we'd have to change positions. CLEARLY, your opinions ARE objective in the sense that they are held by some people, are unprovable and aren't apparent to all people... IF that's what you mean by objective. So please, provide your definition if it's a different one.

Bubba said...

Dan, I thought it would have been clear enough that I have no objection to the definition at MW's website, and I've already provided a link to a community college website further explaining the distinction between objective and subjective.

You want to argue about a specific definition, let's go with MW's online definition 1b for "objective," in explicit contrast with its definition 3a for "subjective."

I reiterate that we wouldn't be arguing about the sequence of letters and punctuation, but about the meaning of that sequence, and arguing about meaning makes sense ONLY if a text's meaning is objective rather than subjective.

You write to Craig, "CLEARLY, your opinions ARE objective in the sense that they are held by some people, are unprovable and aren't apparent to all people... IF that's what you mean by objective. So please, provide your definition if it's a different one."

But the definition you are citing DOES NOT justify the way you're using the word: MW's definition 1b of "objective" says NOTHING about a claim being provable, and it applies the phrase "perceptible by all observers" -- perceptible, which isn't strictly synonymous with "apparent" -- to the realm in which the object occurs, NOT the object itself.

I'm not arguing from a different dictionary, and I don't have to: you're mangling the definition we can both agree on using.

--

"One question completed/answered at a time."

You've answered one question of mine, and I've now answered four questions from you in this thread.

Q1: "As your human opinions, they are your subjective, unprovable opinions, they are not objective facts about what God does or doesn't want. Is this correct?"

A1: No.

Q2: "You conflate your opinion with God's word. Do you see the error?"

A2: I dispute the claim implicit in that leading question, that I'm in error.

Q3: "What is in dispute, what is SUBJECTIVE OPINION is the meaning of the text. Before we move on: Do you understand this reality?"

A3: I dispute the claim implicit in that leading question, that your position is reality.

Q4: "Again, Bubba, what definition of 'objective' are you using?"

A4: Definition 1b from MW online is fine by me: my dispute is not with the definition but with your obvious mangling of its meaning, and I reiterate that, in arguing over its meaning, you're treating that meaning as objective.

You still refuse to answer my second question, evidently on the grounds that it may take several rounds of questions and answers to "complete" one solitary question.

We frequently disagree on whether a question has been answered satisfactorily -- e.g., my question about whether you believe the Resurrection is essential -- so if you're going to reserve the right to ask me multiple clarifying questions without them counting in this "one-for-one" tabulation, you MUST permit me to reserve that same right -- in which case, I would ask the questions in which I'm ultimately interested rather than raise these preliminary questions about simple hypotheticals.

The simpler and less controversial rule would be a straightforward accounting of one-for-one, in which case you owe me answers to three questions of my choosing, starting with QUESTION #2, which I posted in my first comment.

Bubba said...

Dan, at John's blog you had asked others -- Marshall, mostly -- a question that has not been answered to your satisfaction.

(In passing I'll note that while I've commented in that thread, my comments haven't been directly related to that question or Marshall's reaction to it. As much as you've berated me for an inquisition, I've been trying to limit myself only to contentious issues that I've been concerned about, avoiding tangents involving you and other people.)

You wrote about how you think others "can’t answer simple, reasonable questions," and I thought that contrasted with your own behavior in this conversation.

"About answering simple, reasonable questions, Dan, I noticed how quickly our conversation at your blog devolved from your stated goal of a two-way street of one-for-one questions, to your hectoring me for daring to dispute you misunderstanding about the difference between objective and subjective.

"I’m still waiting for an answer to my second question."

You've just now replied:

"And I’m still waiting for an answer – a rational answer – to my first question. One at a time. If my first answer to your first question needs any clarification, please let me know and I will answer/clarify. In the meantime, I’m still waiting on your first answer to be clarified."

So that's how it's going to be: not a literal one-for-one exchange of questions of answers, instead we're having an exchange where the person asking the questions reserves the right to ask clarifying questions if he deems the answer irrational or otherwise unsatisfactory.

I'll notice that you didn't begin this thread by waiting for me to acknowledge that YOUR answer was satisfactory *BEFORE* you asked me your question.

Since you insist on a two-way street, I reserve the same right that you claim for yourself, to insist on your answering clarifying questions until I'm satisfied with your answer.

I believe our dialogues have long since been played by these sorts of rules: what you object to as an inquisition has often only been a series of questions seeking clarification. And I doubt that these sorts of rules will make it obvious whether we're genuinely engaged in a one-for-one exchange, since -- again -- we often disagree about whether an answer's satisfactory.

But fine.

When I asked the question you quoted in the original blog post, I was going on the assumption that your call for a "one-for-one" exchange of questions and answers was a literal one-for-one exchange without including a theoretically unlimited number of follow-up questions for clarifications.

My second question was asked on the same assumption, and since you haven't answered it, I'm retracting it.

Let me know when you think your original question has been answered satisfactorily, and I'll submit my second question. At that point, I will follow your lead in insisting that you answer my question to my satisfaction before I even begin to answer your second question.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You want to argue about a specific definition, let's go with MW's online definition 1b for "objective," in explicit contrast with its definition 3a for "subjective."

I don't "want to argue." I'm using words in a way to communicate. If someone makes a claim that they can objectively "know" their opinion about x, y and z is right, then I look to the definition of objective (1B, per your suggestion) and see...

Objective:

1 b : of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers

If your opinions, then, on how to interpret a text from Song of Solomon or Genesis or the Epic of Gilgamesh are, indeed, objective, then your claim could be measured in the realm of sensible experience, independent of individual thought and it would be perceptible by all observers. However, since your opinions on how best to interpret these texts are NOT agreed upon by all observers, but only a subset and that, dependent mostly on whether they are starting out with a bias towards agreeing with you, then, by YOUR CHOSEN definition, it is NOT objective.

What am I missing?

Every observer can look at Genesis 1 and see the text. The text objectively says what it literally says. But what does it MEAN? Well, some observers would look at the text and say, "Well, this is text coming from a mythic tradition, passed on from ancient times before the advent of modern history telling, all the text 'means' is that this is an ancient Israeli story of how the world came to be, told in a mythic format..."

OTHER observers would say, "Well, clearly, the text means that God wrote the text and it means that God created the world in six literal days about 6,000 years ago, just as the text says. It is a literal snapshot of how the world began and means JUST what it says..."

Other observers would have different takes on the texts. These opinions, then, are all NOT objective in the 1b sense of the word.

Do we agree on that much?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'll notice that you didn't begin this thread by waiting for me to acknowledge that YOUR answer was satisfactory *BEFORE* you asked me your question.

I'll point you to my literal words in my initial response:

...that is my answer.

Easy enough. Do you need any further clarification or does that suffice?


BEFORE I asked my question, I asked you if that was a sufficient answer. Then, to save time, I proceed to ask my question (per the TITLE OF THE POST: "AN ANSWER FOR BUBBA IN RETURN FOR A QUESTION FOR BUBBA...")

I literally answered your question (a clear and direct answer that appears to have met your satisfaction).

I literally checked, "Is that answer sufficient?"

And I literally proceeded to ask my question.

Really? You find this problematic?

Are there Rules from God someplace that stipulates how an exchange of questions and answers must be provided? Could you forward me that Template from God so I don't make this mistake in the future?

Get serious.

Bubba said...

Dan, you should have clarified your proposed ground rules for this conversation. In responding to my second question, you wrote, "Hang on, Bubba, not so fast. You are factually mistaken on at least some points..."

I didn't realize that it's just fine to couple one's answer with a responding question, so long as one concluded his answer with a preemptory "Is that clear enough?" -- a question that doesn't count toward the total number of questions asked.

You ask a whole new set of questions:

"Really? You find this problematic?

"Are there Rules from God someplace that stipulates how an exchange of questions and answers must be provided? Could you forward me that Template from God so I don't make this mistake in the future?
"

These obviously aren't clarifying questions about the distinction drawn between objective and subjective, and you shouldn't expect me to answer.

Dan, you've groused about enduring an inquisition and claimed that you've already answered questions I've asked but refused to link to those answers.

In having this one-for-one, two-way conversation, you ought to expect a certain amount of care over how this conversation will proceed. If you're going to be picky, I'm going to be picky too.

--

Now, you ask:

"However, since your opinions on how best to interpret these texts are NOT agreed upon by all observers, but only a subset and that, dependent mostly on whether they are starting out with a bias towards agreeing with you, then, by YOUR CHOSEN definition, it is NOT objective.

"What am I missing?
"

What you are missing is your inconsistency, insisting that the meaning of a text is subjective while invoking a dictionary definition as if its meaning is objective.

More than that, you act as if "objective" requires unanimity, but a thing is objective even if it's "NOT agreed upon by all observers."

You can find gnostics who believe that the entire universe is an elaborate illusion, in which case unanimous agreement is impossible about literally EVERYTHING, and so nothing is objective, by your understanding of the word.

There is absolutely nothing in definition 1b (or any other definition of "objective") that suggests an objective claim requires unanimous agreement.

--

You write that unanimous agreement on the Genesis account of creation is impossible, and then you draw batty conclusions from that:

"Other observers would have different takes on the texts. These opinions, then, are all NOT objective in the 1b sense of the word.

"Do we agree on that much?
"

No, we do not agree on that much, because an objective claim does not require unanimous agreement, and the 1b definition mentions nothing about unanimous agreement.

Suppose a few different people used different tools to check the outside temperature, including different kinds of thermometers. One used a mercury-in-glass thermometer, one used a very accurate quartz thermometer, one used a bi-metal mechanical thermometer, one checked the app on his phone, and one checked the temp reading on his car dashboard.

It's unlikely that all five people would have the exact same take, but that doesn't mean that temperature is subjective.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You ask a whole new set of questions:


It makes sense to me to deal with one complete question at a time, until we are both satisfied with the answer. This has been the problem with you all, dragging out complete responses to the question I am actually asking... if you all pay attention to the question at all, it's not usually to completely answer the question. Which is why I was trying to make sure I had completely answered YOUR question.

Is this not acceptable?

You see, I'm not interested in bits and fragments (fragments composed of many hundreds of words) to part of my actual questions, I'm looking for a direct answer to the question being asked. Now, I realize that this may take some time, sometimes, (although, again, really this question seems an open and shut case to me), but my goal is to get an answer to the question being asked.

Is that acceptable, then, for me to ask you clarifying questions if I do not understand your answer (or, if it seems to be an answer to a different question than the one being asked)?

I hope so, as that is my goal, here. Complete answers. I will gladly comply with the same courtesy for you, if an answer I give is not complete, in your mind.

Dan Trabue said...

Continuing then, you say...

What you are missing is your inconsistency, insisting that the meaning of a text is subjective while invoking a dictionary definition as if its meaning is objective.

More than that, you act as if "objective" requires unanimity, but a thing is objective even if it's "NOT agreed upon by all observers."


Again, the definition says "TO ALL OBSERVERS..." that is, to me, complete unanimity (within reason). That is, a reasonable atheist, Jew, Catholic, fundamentalist evangelical and Zoroastrian will ALL be able to agree that Gen 1:1 says what it says. Complete unanimity. Perceptible to ALL.

On the other hand, the same crew would not be able to agree on what it means. Does it mean there is a God that actually created the world in six literal days 6,000 years ago? NOT perceptible to all. Opinions expressed about that will be subjective opinions.

Agreed?

Lookit, I have to say I don't get what you are saying that you agree with the standard definition I'm using but that this doesn't mean it's perceptible to all, in the sense of complete unanimity. That is confusing. How can that be the definition you're using, there NOT be complete unanimity and it still be objective?

Put another way:

Say there's a topic on which you hold an opinion and you believe that opinion is objectively factual (objectively correct?). For instance, you believe that, given what the Bible says, that God clearly does not approve of gay marriage. And people who agree with your take on the topic would uniformly agree with you (duh). You hold your opinion on this to be an objective fact, is that correct?

I, on the other hand, hold the opinion that God WOULD approve of gay folk marrying. I hold this view based on basic moral reasoning and what the Bible says. People who agree with me would agree with my conclusion (duh). Does that mean that I am objectively correct, as well?

On what rational basis is MY opinion subjective or just plain objectively wrong while your opinion is objectively right, even though your personal opinion based on your reasoning is not perceptibly true to all observers?

It seems like if you take away the "to all observers" angle, you take away complete meaning to the notion of objective facts. We would then ALL hold opinions that are objective facts, even when they contradict one another.

This, of course, can not rationally be.

Some clarification?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

we do not agree on that much, because an objective claim does not require unanimous agreement, and the 1b definition mentions nothing about unanimous agreement.

??

I am just repeating myself here, but, HOW is "perceptible to ALL observers" NOT an indication that it requires unanimous agreement? If you take away unanimous agreement, what are you left with?

"Perceptible to SOME observers..."??

Isn't that just "subjective..."?

Subjective (MW):

3a. characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind

It really seems you are making the words objective and subjective interchangeable, which is to say, meaningless. Here's hoping you can explain or, perhaps, back away from this rather strange position.

Since your Question 2 is related to your question 1 (an extension of it), I'll go ahead and answer that while waiting on your clarification to my question 1...

QUESTION 2:

Suppose [as we both agree] the father decides that amputation is his moral duty; what is the child's moral duty?

To trust the love and wisdom of his father, to do something else, or does he have no moral duty in this situation?


I don't know that the child has a moral duty as it relates to having his arm cut off. Do you think he does? I hold absolutely no opinion on that.

Dan Trabue said...

Jumping back to your helpful community college explanation:

"An objective claim is a statement about a factual matter-one that can be proved true or false," BUT "A statement is a factual matter even if you can only imagine a method by which it might be verified."

So, as I have said, IF God exists and we all will meet that God when we die, then that is an objective claim. The problem is, that claim can only potentially be proven after death (presumably when we meet God and God confirms, "Yeah, I exist...")

The same is true for all God's opinions. IF God will one day say to everyone "Yeah, I'm cool with gay marriage," or "You really didn't understand Jesus was saying that I'm NOT cool with you killing your enemies..." or "Yeah, I really didn't approve of abortion as a medical procedure..." THEN any claims about those points are objective claims that CAN be proven (IF that happens).

But by that measure, the claims, "God approves of gay folk marrying" and "God disapproves of gay marriage" are BOTH objective claims, it's just that they are entirely unprovable, both of them.

Which gets us back to me making the distinction between OUR OPINIONS and whether or not OUR OPINIONS are objectively true or not.

If we're just going strictly with the fact claims about opinions about ANY morality, then ALL opinions about morality are objective claims, to which we are unable to verify an answer.

Our opinions about moral questions are all subjective, in the here and now, insofar as it can not be proven true or false.

So, considering that measure, are you saying that your intention is that ALL our claims/opinions - about moral questions are objective claims? And it's just that we can't prove them here and now?

If so, okay. But I'm not sure how that helps your position. It just confirms what I've been saying all along: Your opinions on these topics are all unprovable. At least in the here and now. (As are mine).

Bubba said...

Dan, expecting "complete answers" is an absolutely fine thing -- frankly preferable to the atomized "40 questions" approach in a good-faith discussion between adults -- but, again, we often disagree on when a question has been completely answered, so I don't think it's likely that we'll agree that we're having a "one-for-one" two-way conversation.

You now write, "I will gladly comply with the same courtesy for you, if an answer I give is not complete, in your mind."

But that's not what you've been doing in previous conversations. You haven't been answering my questions seeking clarification, and you've been comparing our discussions to an inquisition.

But it an exchange of thorough sets of questions is what you want fine: I'll reiterate that I retracted that second question because it was asked on the assumption that we were taking an atomized, literal one-for-one approach.

(Even that first question fits better with that approach.)

I'll ask my second question later, after the exchange regarding the word "objective" has been concluded.

--

About that word's definition, you seem to insist that the word is equivalent or nearly equivalent to the word "incontrovertible."

incontrovertible, indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, unarguable, conclusive

These are all synonyms.

At MW's website, you won't find "objective" listed as a synonym for any of these words, or vice versa -- and I don't think there is a dictionary or thesaurus where that isn't the case.

--

Dan, just because the realm of sensible experience is "perceptible by all observers," it does not imply that complete unanimity must be drawn by those observers. Just because an event or phenomenon is "perceptible by all observers," it does not imply that complete unanimity must be drawn by those observers.

Look again at the complete definition for 1b.

of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

We know from MW's explanatory notes, we know that that colon separates "two or more definitions of a single sense." Both definitions are for the SAME SENSE of the word "objective," and if there's any ambiguity about the first definition requiring unanimity, the second definition certainly doesn't.

An object "[has] reality independent of the mind" even if two minds acting in good faith disagree about that object: that disagreement doesn't suddenly mean that the object DOESN'T have reality independent of the mind.

The furthest I'll agree with your position is that THAT DISAGREEMENT might have something to do with internal biases.

Suppose two ancient Israelite soldiers saw the Philistine army approaching and were arguing over how many were in that army, with one soldier's estimate MUCH greater than the other.

That solider might be near-sighted, which would be a physiological defect with the instrument he uses. Or, he might be biased, raised to believe that the Philisitine army is massive and indestructible, and that bias is causing him to overestimate their strength.

EITHER WAY, that Philisitine army is an objective reality -- and so too is the attribute of the army's size.

Bubba said...

Dan, expecting "complete answers" is an absolutely fine thing -- frankly preferable to the atomized "40 questions" approach in a good-faith discussion between adults -- but, again, we often disagree on when a question has been completely answered, so I don't think it's likely that we'll agree that we're having a "one-for-one" two-way conversation.

You now write, "I will gladly comply with the same courtesy for you, if an answer I give is not complete, in your mind."

But that's not what you've been doing in previous conversations. You haven't been answering my questions seeking clarification, and you've been comparing our discussions to an inquisition.

But it an exchange of thorough sets of questions is what you want fine: I'll reiterate that I retracted that second question because it was asked on the assumption that we were taking an atomized, literal one-for-one approach.

(Even that first question fits better with that approach.)

I'll ask my second question later, after the exchange regarding the word "objective" has been concluded.

--

About that word's definition, you seem to insist that the word is equivalent or nearly equivalent to the word "incontrovertible."

incontrovertible, indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, unarguable, conclusive

These are all synonyms.

At MW's website, you won't find "objective" listed as a synonym for any of these words, or vice versa -- and I don't think there is a dictionary or thesaurus where that isn't the case.

--

Dan, just because the realm of sensible experience is "perceptible by all observers," it does not imply that complete unanimity must be drawn by those observers. Just because an event or phenomenon is "perceptible by all observers," it does not imply that complete unanimity must be drawn by those observers.

Look again at the complete definition for 1b.

of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

We know from MW's explanatory notes, we know that that colon separates "two or more definitions of a single sense." Both definitions are for the SAME SENSE of the word "objective," and if there's any ambiguity about the first definition requiring unanimity, the second definition certainly doesn't.

An object "[has] reality independent of the mind" even if two minds acting in good faith disagree about that object: that disagreement doesn't suddenly mean that the object DOESN'T have reality independent of the mind.

The furthest I'll agree with your position is that THAT DISAGREEMENT might have something to do with internal biases.

Suppose two ancient Israelite soldiers saw the Philistine army approaching and were arguing over how many were in that army, with one soldier's estimate MUCH greater than the other.

That solider might be near-sighted, which would be a physiological defect with the instrument he uses. Or, he might be biased, raised to believe that the Philisitine army is massive and indestructible, and that bias is causing him to overestimate their strength.

EITHER WAY, that Philisitine army is an objective reality -- and so too is the attribute of the army's size.

Bubba said...

(Another double post: browser issues. Feel free to delete the redundant one.)

Bubba said...

Dan, about that community-college article: yes, the standards of the moral law could be verified by God, though I don't think He's limited to doing so after death. It's possible He could communicate His law through divine revelation.

You write, "by that measure, the claims, 'God approves of gay folk marrying' and 'God disapproves of gay marriage' are BOTH objective claims, it's just that they are entirely unprovable, both of them."

I'm not sure they're "entirely" unprovable, but they ARE both objective claims.

"If we're just going strictly with the fact claims about opinions about ANY morality, then ALL opinions about morality are objective claims, to which we are unable to verify an answer."

Yes, they are objective claims of fact, even if some of those claims are surely false.

In facing an objective claim with which I disagree, I have made it a point NEVER to denigrate it as being just a subjective opinion.

I'll argue that it's false, but never subjective.

--

You claim, "Our opinions about moral questions are all subjective, in the here and now, insofar as it can not be proven true or false."

But that's not the standard for objectivity: the question is (going back to MW) whether moral laws exist "independent of the mind."

They do, so they're objective.

If I somehow ceased entirely to exist, my subjective feelings -- "too much sunlight hurts, I feel happy" -- would cease with me.

But the moral law would still exist.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

In facing an objective claim with which I disagree, I have made it a point NEVER to denigrate it as being just a subjective opinion.

I'll argue that it's false, but never subjective.


? So then, in your mind, ALL claims of supposed facts are objective claims? So, there is no such thing as a subjective claim, in your mind?

Beyond that, I'm not talking about the FACT in question, but the claim. I've said all along that either God exists or God doesn't exist. "God exists" is a claim that can either be verified or not, and is ultimately objective.

But - and here is what I think you are missing - the claim ITSELF is not objective. So, when you say, "The claim 'God does not exist' is an objective claim and it is FALSE..." your claim - the claim itself - is not objectively known by you. You do not "know" that it is false. This claim you make is a belief you hold, not an objective fact (the claim itself), right?

In short, do you agree that you do not KNOW your claim is objectively true, since you have no objective evidence to prove it?

Bubba said...

Dan, of course I believe there are such things as subjective fact claims.

"Black olives taste terrible."

That's a subjective claim, as is the claim that -- wholly apart from its validity -- a claimed moral law causes feelings of revulsion.

I don't follow the distinction you're making between the fact and a claim. In back-to-back sentences, you seem to be saying completely contradictory things:

"'God exists' is a claim that can either be verified or not, and is ultimately objective.

"But - and here is what I think you are missing - the claim ITSELF is not objective.
"

The claim "is ultimately objective," but "the claim ITSELF is not objective"? You're saying A AND NOT A.

And anyway, whether a claim can be known with 100% certainty or not has NOTHING to do with whether it's objective.

There are objective claims that we can know with 100% certainty -- 2+2 = 4 -- and objective claims that we cannot know with such certainity, such as the claims that Jesus of Nazareth was historical and that Jesus was born in 4 BC.

We have plenty of words to a describe a claim about which there can be no real good-faith disagreement from mentally healthy, rational adults: incontrovertible, indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, unarguable, conclusive.

Likewise, we have plenty of words to describe a claim that can be known with absolute certainty, "certain" being the most obvious example.

There's no need to misuse the word "objective" when other, appropriate words exist and are at hand.

Years ago, you insisted that you took certain passages of the OT as figurative though you never offered a figurative interpretation; clearly, your issue was instead with the passage's authorship and authority, which is why it was so annoying for you to try to use the wrong word.

You're doing the same thing now with the word "objective."

Use a word that actually fits what trying to say, quit mangling a word whose definition means something else, and quit trying to pin those who disagree with you as lunatics for holding beliefs that don't fit your eccentric definitions.

Dan Trabue said...

My apologies for not using words to your pleasing. If you would just acknowledge reality and not make me explain things 10 different ways for you to still not understand REALITY (or at least, admit to understanding it), perhaps I would misstate things.

You said...

The claim "is ultimately objective," but "the claim ITSELF is not objective"? You're saying A AND NOT A.

Try again, then:

The REALITY "God is" is either objectively true or not.

YOUR CLAIM "I know God is," is subjective. You have no data to support your claim that "I know God is..." or, "I know God agrees with me on points 1, 2 and 3..."

YOUR CLAIMS in this vein are NOT objective. The reality may or may not be, but YOUR CLAIM is not objective.

You, in fact, do NOT objectively know God is or that God agrees with your opinions about what God thinks. These sorts of claims are SUBJECTIVE estimates/guesses of what may or may not be objectively factual.

DO YOU recognize that you do not "know" objectively that God exists?

If you could just acknowledge reality on this point, then we can admit you to the realm of rational thinking people.

Where you say "Use a word that actually fits what trying to say, quit mangling a word..." do that yourself, okay. You do not objectively know that God agrees with your opinions or that your opinions about God's opinions are objectively correct.

Can you agree to that much?

Marshall Art said...

I see absolutely no difference.

"God is" vs "I know God is."

In the former, "I know" is understood. I can't see anyone saying "God is" without meaning "I KNOW God is." They're practically identical. One would have to specify, "I do not believe the claim that God is" or "I do not know that God is." So either both claims are objective or they are both subjective as they are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same claim said in slightly different ways.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, if one claims, "I objectively know that God exists..." that indicates that he has a perfectly safe knowledge of it. Do you objectively know that God exists?

Or is it not more literally correct to say, "I feel sure that God exists..." or "I believe that God exists..." Or, "I hold the opinion that God exists..." all the while acknowledging that you have no way of proving the objective claim's factual nature?

And so, the atheist who claims "I know God does not exist..." (as opposed to the atheists who merely say, "I see no evidence for a God..."), he is also exactly correct in your opinion?

You see, if everyone "objectively knows" everything they believe, then we've rendered the words meaningless.

"Okay, so Dan 'objectively knows' that his opinions about marriage and homosexuality are factually correct and Marshall 'objectively knows' that HIS opposite views on the topic are factually correct, and both of them are right..."

Is THAT what you're saying? Because it sounds like (to me) that this is what you and Bubba are suggesting, so a direct, clarifying response would be helpful.

Bubba said...

Dan, it appears that you're continuing to use "objective" as practically equivalent to "incontrovertible," and the problem is not merely that your abuse of the English language is "not to my liking." The problem is, the definition YOU CITED does not justify your misuse of the word, and there is no thesaurus listing that would suggest the equivalence that you insist is reality.

"You, in fact, do NOT objectively know God is or that God agrees with your opinions about what God thinks."

What you mean, is that I do not INCONTROVERTIBLY know that God exists: you're not using the right word.

Never mind that Romans 1:19 suggests that God's existence actually is knowable and known by everyone, here I'm not arguing that "God exists" is an incontrovertible claim, it's merely an objective claim.

Again, according to the definition YOU required, an objective claim is merely about something that "[has] reality independent of the mind," which is certainly true about the claim of theism.

Objective claims can have various degrees of certainty and can even be FALSE claims.

I've explained my position enough: you're not now asking about what it is I believe, you're trying to induce me to renounce my beliefs.

As I wrote before, you're asking questions where you're hectoring rather than merely inquiring: you're trying to induce me to agree with YOUR position rather than explain MY position.

In your arrogance, you're even insisting that your position is "reality" and even all-caps "REALITY."

Hypocrite that you are, you've routinely accused me of speaking in God's place, but here you're practically declaring yourself King of All Reality, using even the royal "we" to dare to lecture me as if you are some appointed representative of the reality-based community.

"If you could just acknowledge reality on this point, then we can admit you to the realm of rational thinking people."

To hell with that, Dan. I don't recognize your authority to speak on behalf of "rational thinking people" -- from our years of conversation I don't even think you're a member in good standing -- and on this issue, I stand not only on the right to be wrong, I insist that my position is correct, that my understanding of the word "objective" conforms both to the dictionary definition and to longer explanations of its usage.

You know my position on this issue, and since evidently you need no further clarification, all that remains is for you to acknowledge that your question has been answered thoroughly and cede to me the opportunity to ask you a question that's been on my mind.

Y'know, for the sake of a "one-for-one" two-way conversation, because statements like the one I quote above are sounding awfully inquisitorial -- "agree with us, and rejoin the community!"

Dan Trabue said...

So, if you were to say, "I objectively know that God exists..." you merely mean, "I know that God either exists or doesn't exist is a fact..."

Or would you not even say "I objectively know that God exists..." because the claim is meaningless?

Bubba...

Again, according to the definition YOU required, an objective claim is merely about something that "[has] reality independent of the mind," which is certainly true about the claim of theism.

Objective claims can have various degrees of certainty and can even be FALSE claims.


I think we are speaking about two separate things.

1. To say "I objectively know that God exists..." is to say that the speaker "knows" God exists and the nature of his knowing is objective, meaning perceptible to all observers.

Are you understanding me on this first point?

2. The claim: "God exists." This claim is an objective claim, IN THAT it is either fact or not. Similarly, the claim "God does NOT exist..." is an objective claim.

Am I understanding you correctly on this second point?

Bubba...

What you mean, is that I do not INCONTROVERTIBLY know that God exists

Incontrovertible: (MW)

not able to be doubted or questioned; not open to question

So, are you saying that you do not incontrovertibly know God exists? Well, that much is obvious, of course you are able to be doubted. That much is obvious.

But WHY is your opinion able to be doubted? Because you are unable to prove your opinion objectively.

So, are you saying that this whole time, we've been disagreeing because of a possible misunderstanding of words?

My whole point has NOT been that "there is a God" is or is not an objective CLAIM (of course it is or is not, what else is there?), but that it is not a provable claim and that the claim, "I objectively know there IS a God..." is false, as well as the claim, "I objectively know my position about God's position on these points are objectively right..."

So, just to be clear: Do you recognize that the CLAIM "I objectively know there is a God" is a false claim? (NOT the "there is a God" part, but the "I objectively know..." part).

Look at it this way, breaking it down:

I objectively know...

[is not/CAN NOT be an objectively factual claim unless it is perceptible to all]

...there is a God

[IS an objective CLAIM, but one that can not be currently proven, JUST AS the claim "there is NOT a God" is an objective claim.]

Can we agree on that?

And, for what it's worth, I'm NOT hectoring, I'm trying to state and refine and restate what I'm saying because what I'm saying is just a fact observable in the real world and I've apparently been unable to state that fact in such a way as to get you to understand my point... WHEN I've finally successfully communicated my real world fact/point to you, you will agree, just as you would agree that the sky is up or that most human feet have ten toes... it's just a fact.

Bubba said...

Dan, you are hectoring: you're insisting that I agree with your position -- "WHEN I've finally successfully communicated my real world fact/point to you, you will agree, just as you would agree that the sky is up or that most human feet have ten toes... it's just a fact." [emphasis mine]

Your behavior toward me is FAR more inquisatorial that mine has EVER been toward you: my goal has only and always been to see you state your beliefs clearly and unambiguously, and your goal here is to have my beliefs conform to yours.

--

Now, you've gone from asking about objective claims of fact to claims about objective knowledge:

"'God exists' is an objective fact" asserts that the claim is objective, and it is: it's about the realm that has reality independent of the human mind.

"I objectively know that God exists" asserts that the knowledge is objective, and it may be, or it may not.

You write:

"1. To say 'I objectively know that God exists...' is to say that the speaker 'knows' God exists and the nature of his knowing is objective, meaning perceptible to all observers.

"Are you understanding me on this first point?
"

I believe so, and if I do, I agree: he's implying that objective evidence exists.

While the moral law is itself objective, one's AWARENESS of that law is clearly subjective, so that awareness is subjective evidence of God's existence.

But other forms of evidence IS objective.

If the Kalam cosmological argument is valid (and I think it is), then the universe itself is objective evidence of God's existence.

Eyewitness testimony to an objective act of God (a miracle rather than an epiphany) would also be objective evidence whose credibility rises or falls on the credibility of the witness.

So, I don't have a problem, per se, with the claim, "I objectively know God exists" if the person means that he believes objective (e.g. "external") evidence exists for God's existence.

If the person means that incontrovertible evidence exists, I would at least correct him on misusing the word "objective."

--

Do I personally think that incontrovertible evidence exists for theism or for other claims regarding God's will and God's moral law? I'm not sure about that, and I don't think I've ever made the claim.

That said, Romans 1-3 suggests that knowledge of God and His moral law ARE universal, even if that knowledge isn't incontrovertible to the degree that you seem to think necessary.

Honestly, your tack here reminds me alot of Andrew Sullivan's emphasis on skepticism: he rails against the evils of certainty, to the degree that he seems certain that (OTHER PEOPLE'S) certainty is bad.

But, really, the Christian good news isn't a human theory, it's a divine revelation, and while it IS wrong to have the arrogance to be dogmatic about what God hasn't clearly revealed, it is ALSO wrong to be tentative with a false humility about what God *HAS* clearly revealed, through His prophets and apostles.

Marshall Art said...

"Marshall, if one claims, "I objectively know that God exists..." that indicates that he has a perfectly safe knowledge of it. Do you objectively know that God exists?"

Bubba'a position is correct. The claim is objective, but certainty regarding whether or not it is true is besides the point and not a determining factor of the objectivity of the claim.

"It is good that God exists" would be a subjective claim.

Bubba is also correct regarding your improper use of the word "objectively" in the question "Do you objectively know that God exists?""

"
Or is it not more literally correct to say, "I feel sure that God exists..." or "I believe that God exists..." Or, "I hold the opinion that God exists...""


Those are all simply variations of the same objective claim regarding the existence of God. If I merely say, "God exists", I am essentially saying "I feel sure", "I believe" or "I hold the opinion". No difference. All objective claims.

"And so, the atheist who claims "I know God does not exist..." (as opposed to the atheists who merely say, "I see no evidence for a God..."), he is also exactly correct in your opinion?"

Whether or not his claim or mine is correct has nothing to do with whether or not the claim is an objective one. That's a major aspect of the disagreement between you and Bubba. Neither a subjective OR objective claim requires that there is truth to the claim for it to be either. It's just a claim.

Bubba said...

Dan, earlier in this thread you write:

"No one disputes if a text says what it literally says. What is in dispute, what is SUBJECTIVE OPINION is the meaning of the text."

I disagree with your position that the meaning of a text is subjective, but if that's what you really believe, you ought to be consistent about it.

Instead, less than two weeks ago, you presumed to inform the atheist Arkenaten about "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches" instead of something more tentative like, "my subjective opinion about what the Bible teaches."

You're certain when it suits you.

My question to you is about that comment to Ark, so if you recognize that we're probably not getting any further with your question, I'd like the opportunity to ask mine with the expectation that you will answer it.

The sooner, the better.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

you've gone from asking about objective claims of fact to claims about objective knowledge:


This has ALWAYS been about the claims of objective knowledge. Your team keeps insinuating (or sometimes coming right out and saying) that you can not be mistaken on these subset of points. That you hold OBJECTIVELY CORRECT positions on some topics.

This is why for years, I've been trying to get you to clarify that, while the points may be objective (God either Is or Isn't; God holds these opinions on topics 1, 2 and 3...), that your knowledge of them is subjective or, if you prefer, not certain.

If one is making the claim, "There ARE purple unicorns in my back yard..." that is an objective claim that is either true or false, factually speaking. But the claim is objective, itself.

However, if the person says, instead, "I know with certainty that there is a purple unicorn in my back yard, not based on any hard evidence, but just because it is my opinion and I feel certain of it..." THAT OPINION is not an objective fact, They do not, in fact, "know with certainty" about this unprovable thing.

It is for this reason I will often insert "unprovable" in my description of your opinions, to get across the point that I'm not talking about an objective claim (God either does or doesn't exist), but the claim to knowledge of the objective claim.

So, since I'm still not seeing you answering the critical question and now that I hope we've clarified what one another means, I repeat:

Do you recognize that the CLAIM "I objectively know there is a God" is a false claim?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

while it IS wrong to have the arrogance to be dogmatic about what God hasn't clearly revealed, it is ALSO wrong to be tentative with a false humility about what God *HAS* clearly revealed, through His prophets and apostles.

When you say things like this, it's where it SEEMS LIKE you are hinting at what people like Glenn come right out and say, "I CAN NOT BE MISTAKEN ON THIS POINT."

In the real world, people of good faith DO disagree about what God has "clearly revealed..." The Christian peacemakers/pacifists think Jesus was quite clear on his teachings against violence. Those who accept violence-as-solution (or, to keep Marshall happy, violence-as-a-possible-solution) also think God has "clearly revealed" their view.

Both can not be correct. And, if the atheists are correct, then neither is correct, so there are still other potential options. The point is: people of good faith sincerely disagree on just about every potential view. In light of that, however, it sounds like you are saying, "Well, but clearly, all those others are wrong and we are objectively correct in our positions, we can not be mistaken on THIS point..." whatever "this point" is.

The reality is that God's opinion about peacemaking, or abortion, or marriage, etc, is NOT PROVABLE and people of good faith will disagree sincerely and that is just reality. You all seem to want to deny reality and say, "No, no other people CAN have a good faith disagreement on these points... so they are obviously lying or otherwise being devious..."

No, t'ain't so. You have your unprovable opinions on some points and I have mine. We both hold them sincerely and are relatively sure, based on available evidence, that we are holding a correct view, BUT, we should be prepared to note that it is OUR opinion that can't be proven or validated, and that we don't speak for God on this topic.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You're certain when it suits you.

I feel confident in my positions, Bubba. Otherwise, I wouldn't hold them. I think those who claim that Jesus might endorse killing the babies of the enemy are crazy, given what the Bible says, but this is MY OPINION.

You don't seem to get the difference between saying, "I believe strongly X, because I think the evidence is compelling" and, "I KNOW X, and I can NOT be mistaken on it..."

I'm doing the former. Glenn, the latter.

You?

Bubba said...

Dan, when you presume to tell others about "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches," you indicate that you do KNOW what the Bible "actually" teaches and that you can NOT be mistaken on it.

On the issue we're discussing, you've repeatedly presented position as absolutely irrefutable reality, presuming to lecture me about what's true "in the real world" and presuming that your position is what everyone else must "recognize" as the truth.

"If you could just acknowledge reality on this point, then we can admit you to the realm of rational thinking people."

That arrogant comment -- presuming to speak on the behalf of an entire "realm of rational thinking people" -- came from you, not Glenn, so it's just laughable nonsense for you to present yourself as this paragon of humilty.

--

What's just as laughable is your acting as if I haven't answered your questions. I have. You may not like my answers, but that doesn't mean the answers haven't been given, and I believe I've been quite clear in answering them.

You now ask:

"Do you recognize that the CLAIM 'I objectively know there is a God' is a false claim?"

You continue to misuse the word "objective" and conflate it with "certain," as when you write about the hypothetical claim, ""I know with certainty that there is a purple unicorn in my back yard," etc. [emphasis mine]

If you had used a word the definition of which we're not arguing over, I wouldn't have to keep pointing out the disagreement over definitions.

Instead, you're trying to use your eccentric definition so that you can pillory Glenn as an irrational fanatic -- and you're trying to impose that definition on me so that I either join you in criticizing him, or you can dismiss as just another lunatic.

Your point isn't finding clarity about what I really believe: it's about scoring debaters' points.

Bubba said...

"When you say things like this, it's where it SEEMS LIKE you are hinting at what people like Glenn come right out and say, 'I CAN NOT BE MISTAKEN ON THIS POINT.'"

Or people like you, Dan, when agreeing with you is absolutely necessary for you to admit people "to the realm of rational thinking people."

"In the real world, people of good faith DO disagree about what God has 'clearly revealed...'"

But they don't disagree with you, do they? Your questions to me do not allow for the possibility that anyone disagrees with you in good faith.

"You have your unprovable opinions on some points and I have mine. We both hold them sincerely and are relatively sure, based on available evidence, that we are holding a correct view, BUT, we should be prepared to note that it is OUR opinion that can't be proven or validated, and that we don't speak for God on this topic."

But you do presume to speak for the "realm of rational speaking people."

You believe that one cannot be certain about God's existence or God's will, but you are so certain about this belief that you dismiss the possibility that a person can disagree with you rationally and in good faith.

The difference between you and me is NOT that I believe that one can be certain in some beliefs and you don't.

The real difference is twofold.

1) We both believe that certainty is possible about some beliefs, but we disagree about which ones.

2) I'm honest about my beliefs regarding certainty, and you're hypocritical about yours.

I believe that some teachings of the Bible are clear beyond any possible good-faith disagreement between two adults, and you say you don't, but you still presume to tell others about the "actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches."

And you pride yourself on the humble belief that good-faith disagreement is possible across a whole range of issues, but you insist that one cannot rationally disagree with you this belief, at least on the extent and boundaries of where good-faith disagreement ceases to be possible.

We both believe that there's not always room for rational, good-faith disagreement, you just elevate yourself for where you draw the line and denigrate others for where they draw the line.

Bubba said...

Dan, this entire discussion is a kind of rerun of an earlier argument regarding fallibility:

You seem to believe that human fallibility means that even rational, mature adults acting in good faith could be mistaken AT ANY POINT, but you are so critical of those who disagree with you, it's clear that you've mentally carved out an exception for yourself: you believe that YOUR understanding of fallibility cannot be wrong, and those who disagree with you are arrogant, speaking for God, etc. ad nauseum.

Just as you believe you cannot be wrong about the (otherwise) all-encompassing extent of human fallibility, you believe you cannot be wrong about the (otherwise) all-encompassing extent of human uncertainty.

That position is self-defeating.

I believe that human fallibility isn't unlimited: there are conclusions about which a rational human being, acting in good faith, cannot be mistaken.

And I believe that human certain IS possible: there are conclusions about which a person can be truly certain.

Do those conclusions include God's existence and at least aspects of God's will?

I'm actually somewhat agnostic on that particular question: I'm not sure that 100% certainty is possible, but I do not believe that 100% certainty is necessary for one to have a moral duty to respond to what he knows, to respond in faith, in obedience, and in confidently communicating that knowledge to others.

After all, a man rarely has metaphysical certainty that his wife didn't cheat on him while she was out running errands, but we would be right to criticize a man for his suspicion in the absence of strong evidence of infidelity.

Regardless of whether one can perfectly know God's existence or even some aspect of God's will, I do believe that one CAN know at least some clear teachings of the Bible beyond any possible good-faith disagreement.

What more can I say about this, Dan?

Where have I been unclear? What aspect of my beliefs have I not made clear, at least once and often multiple times?

At what point will you stop insisting that I agree with you?

What more do I need to clarify in order for you to cede the floor so that you might field a question I have of you?

Dan Trabue said...

Just to break down your many factual, demonstrable mistakes, one at a time. You said...

You seem to believe that human fallibility means that even rational, mature adults acting in good faith could be mistaken AT ANY POINT

No. I do not.

Do you understand?

What I DO believe, what is rationally apparent to all observers is that we can be mistaken AT ANY POINT on any topic where we do not possess provable data.

Do you understand this is the reality of the world, in the real world?

IF we have no data to prove that Ralph has no purple unicorn in his back yard, then we do not KNOW that he doesn't. We can say, "I am confident that I know that you do not have said unicorn..." but we do not know beyond all doubt.

There are TWO types of things we can hold opinions on: Provable/"Know-able" and unprovable/unknowable.

Thus, "Is my car actually blue?" is a provable point in the real world.

"Does God think that gay folk marrying is bad?" is NOT a provable point.

On THOSE sorts of points, you do. not. know. the answer to the question and if you hold a position that seems reasonable to you, you COULD be mistaken.

Do you understand this reality?

Bubba said...

Dan, I appreciate the clarification, but -- as I will demonstrate momentarily -- your stated position still doesn't line up with your own behavior, your stated position is internally incoherent, and your stated position is easily proven to be incorrect.

"Do you understand this is the reality of the world, in the real world?"

"Do you understand this reality?"

ONCE AGAIN, I reject the premise of your question and the underlying assumption that your position is "the reality of the world, in the real world," and I'm getting damn tired of this sort of leading question where the goal is neither your discovery of my position or even your confirming that I understand your position: it's nothing but hectoring and badgering to get me to submit to your position.

You're explicitly treating what can be proven and what can be reliably known as equivalent --hence your categorization of "Provable/'Know-able' and unprovable/unknowable" -- and that's a false equivalency.

You write, "we can be mistaken AT ANY POINT on any topic where we do not possess provable data."

1) Obviously, you don't always believe that yourself. You treat a text's meaning as unprovable but you don't hesitate to tell others about "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches." More than that, you've already written that the moral law falls in the category of what cannot be proven...

"Our opinions about moral questions are all subjective, in the here and now, insofar as it can not be proven true or false."

(I agree that beliefs regarding the moral law cannot be proven, but that does not mean they cannot be known with certainty, and I disagree strongly on how you use the term "subjective.")

...but when presented with the belief that an omniscient and holy God might have a better understanding of morality than limited, sinful, and fallible humans, you balk -- and you denigrate those who hold this position by accusing them of worshipping a capricious and whimsical deity.

And you seem nothing less than wholly confident in your opposition to the view that God has the prerogative to end life He created, when and how He chooses.

2) Your assertion is self-defeating.

Again, the claim is, "we can be mistaken AT ANY POINT on any topic where we do not possess provable data."

Can you be mistaken about this claim itself? Evidently you don't think so, as you confidently present this claim as "the reality of the world, in the real world."

But you do not try to prove that claim by producing provable data to back it up -- indeed, you CANNOT prove the claim -- so by your own standards, it CANNOT be that you can any confidence about this claim.

You partition the world of epistemology into two categories of claims: provable and unprovable.

You then claim that no claims in the latter category are knowable -- that "unprovable" equals "unknowable."

But this claim is ITSELF in the "unprovable" category, so by your own standard you cannot know it and you have no grounds to declare that the claim is "the reality of the world, in the real world."

Your position is a riff on the atheists' claim that only empirical evidence is trustworthy, a claim that CANNOT be proven empirically.

As with your sneering about "magic water" and "pink unicorns," you continue to deploy the tactics that atheists try to use against religion, and your use of those weapons is just as ineffective.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

3) Your assertion is obviously false.

The law of non-contradiction is not "a provable point in the real world" insofar as one cannot prove the negative claim that no contradictions are possible simply by showing specific instances where contradiction doesn't happen to occur: that's as conclusive as pointing to Mercury and Mars as proof that life exists on no other planets in the entire universe.

(Like all other axioms, this law is arguably neither verifiable nor falsifiable at all, much less with the empirical evidence you apparently require.)

And yet, the law of non-contradiction is true, is self-evidently true, and can therefore be known with real certainity.

In short, and in reverse order:

- What is "knowable" IS NOT limited to what is "provable."

- The opposite claim is obviously not provable, so BY ITS OWN STANDARDS it cannot be knowable.

- In your own behavior, you are not tentative in expressing your own unprovable beliefs and denigrating those who disagree with you.

--

I'll reiterate that I'm tired of your efforts to force me to agree with you, under the pretense of your just explaining your beliefs, with your conviction that good-faith disagreement WITH YOU is impossible: "...WHEN I've finally successfully communicated my real world fact/point to you, you will agree..."

I've stated my position thoroughly, and I believe I have a good grasp on your position. You said you wanted a one-for-one, two-way conversation, and I don't see a whole lot of evidence for that.

I'll have limited free time to look at this conversation from about 9/6 to 9/14, and I would like to ask the question I have of you before then, and I would like you to post your preliminary answer before then.

If you have any other CLARIFYING questions of me that I haven't already addressed, ask them. If you have any CLARIFYING statements that you haven't already made before, state them.

Or, if you're done, say so and cede the floor.

Either way, wrap it up.

Marshall Art said...

Gotta comment anywhere I see this put-forth-with-absolute-but-unproven-certainty falsehood:

""Does God think that gay folk marrying is bad?" is NOT a provable point."

First of all, if you mean "gay folk" marrying someone of the opposite sex, then no, God would not think that bad.

But if you mean "gay folk" marrying someone of the same sex, then absolutely, God would think it a very bad thing, and here's why:

I don't have God on video tape, but I do have His word in Scripture. He prohibited homosexual behavior for a reason: it's an abomination. Even if one conceded that the actual mandate of Lev 18:22 was strictly for the ancient Hebrews and no longer applies today, the reason why the mandate was given preceded it. That is, the reason already existed before the mandate was given. It was already an abomination and that's why God prohibited it (as well as because of His reason for creating us male and female). Just the simply fact that the behavior is an abomination (as well as that we were created male and female with a specific purpose) precludes any possibility that there exists a way in which engaging in homosexual behavior wouldn't be an abomination. So, unless you're suggesting total celibacy within a homosexual marriage (and still that would be a stretch), it is absolutely ludicrous and a position totally "of the world", to presume that God would think "gay folk" marrying other "gay folk" is OK. Only such people, ludicrous and of the world, need God to spell it out.

Carry on.

Marshall Art said...

I guess Dan wasn't serious about the one for one.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, talking with you is exhausting. Trying to sludge through your points, it's hard to know where to begin...

You're explicitly treating what can be proven and what can be reliably known as equivalent --hence your categorization of "Provable/'Know-able' and unprovable/unknowable" -- and that's a false equivalency.

The point I've been making all along is this:

There are some opinions which are unprovable.

Agreed?

Those opinions that are unprovable are the ones where we can not provide definitive, authoritative unquestionable/unquestioned data to support it.

Thus, we can say that "2 + 2 = 4" and "My Toyota car is dark blue" are provable and knowable, because we can provide definitive, authoritative, unquestionable/unquestioned data to support them.

AND, ANY CLAIMS about "what God thinks" are NOT PROVABLE, there ARE NO definitive, authoritative, unquestionable/unquestioned data to support any of those claims.

Agreed?

I'm not sure in what sense you think that we can "know" what is unprovable. Merriam Webster defines "know"

1. to perceive directly

In THAT sense, you do NOT "perceive directly" God's opinion about topics, so in THAT sense, you do not know God's opinions.

2. to be aware of the truth or factuality of : be convinced or certain of

Well, in this second definition, it is more vague. "To be aware of the truth or factuality" of God's opinion on something... well, HOW are you aware of it? By your interpretation of an ancient text.

I'm not sure that "my interpretation of an ancient text" rises to the level of factuality. If so, then we would have competing "facts," as MY interpretation of Topic 1 is A, while YOUR interpretation of Topic 1 is Y-squared. So, I don't see how this makes sense, unless you are making the claim that we ALL "know" points, even when those points contradict each other.

How do we both "know" contradicting points on the same topic?

Or, if you're suggesting that it's a case of YOU "knowing" and me NOT "knowing..." well, on what objective, factual basis would you make that sort of claim?


It's internally inconsistent and irrational.

So, in what sense are you using the word "know..."? If you just mean "believe," then that would seem to be the more appropriate word.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I don't have God on video tape, but I do have His word in Scripture. He prohibited homosexual behavior for a reason: it's an abomination.

Says who?

YOU interpret that passage so as to mean that all gay behavior is an abomination - a horrible, ugly thing - to God and, thus, it is wrong to engage in ALL gay behavior.

But a few passages earlier/later, you DON'T take it to mean that eating shrimp is an abomination to God, and thus to be avoided. You do not have an internal consistency to this claim to take the words literally.

And who says your interpretation of the Scripture in question is the right one? Who gets to make that judgment and on what basis?

Marshall Art said...

"YOU interpret that passage so as to mean that all gay behavior is an abomination..."

Sorry, Dan. But yours is a dishonest suggestion, that there is any reason to suppose that it doesn't refer to any and all homosexual behavior. This is especially significant given that Lev 18:22 is given in the context of all sexual behavior! Most of Chapter 18 refers to human sexuality and what is prohibited. It does not, for example, suggest in any way that God does not prohibit any and all sexual relations with your neighbor's wife, as if there might be some context or scenario in which doing so might be tolerated. It is a list of sexual behaviors which are prohibited always regardless of any scenario or context in which they might occur.

Thus, there is no possibility, based on the wording of the text, that justifies the suggestion that there might be some loophole by which one might engage in homosexual behavior without the act being sinful. That's #1.

#2 is the simple fact of the wording itself prohibiting the act without reference to any context in which it might take place (such as a "loving, committed monogamous relationship---as if a loving, committed monogamous relationship with your neighbor's wife would also be OK), followed by the reason it is prohibited. It is detestable/an abomination (depending upon which Bible one is reading). That is, as clearly worded, it is the practice that is an abomination, not the context in which it might occur, and because the practice is an abomination/is detestable, it is prohibited.

#3 All this contrasts with the shellfish angle in at least two ways:

a. unlike Lev18:22, 11:9-12 states that eating sea creatures lacking fins and scales "is to be detestable to you" (v12). Note the stark difference. Homosexual relations IS detestable, while eating shellfish "IS TO BE detestable to you." That is, the former already is detestable, always was detestable, and the latter is from that point on to be regarded by the people as if detestable. v10 says of the sea creatures lacking fins and scales---"you are to detest". So to bring up shellfish to defend any manifestation of homosexual behavior is something a truly serious and prayerful student of Scripture couldn't honestly and honorably do.

b. Clearly, and by virtue of the conclusions and interpretations of thousands (at least) of Biblical scholars throughout human history, shellfish eating is categorized as a ceremonial law, as opposed to the moral law covering sexual behaviors, such as homosexuality.

Marshall Art said...

#4 Prohibitions against eating shellfish and other foods is among those laws specifically given to Israel as indicated by words such as "Speak to the Sons of Israel saying . . . " followed by the prohibition. These are largely the ceremonial laws. But moral laws are distinct in that they accompany references to those not of the nations of Israel. Note this passage:

Lev. 18:22-30, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled 25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’"

Note the constant reference to the practices having been perpetrated by other nations and the fact that God was not pleased with those other nations because of the practice being perpetrated by them. It was detestable when they did it as well.

Thus, I'm very much consistent in my position on the subject, unlike yourself. Otherwise, one would have to believe that being in a "loving, committed and monogamous relationship" would legitimize having sexual relations with a close relative, with your mother, with your father's wife, with your sister, etc., etc., etc.

So who says my "interpretation" is right? Scripture itself if read honestly, as well as those thousands of Biblical scholars throughout human history to whom I referred earlier.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

But yours is a dishonest suggestion, that there is any reason to suppose that it doesn't refer to any and all homosexual behavior.

I give to you:

REASONS TO SUPPOSE THAT LEV 18 AND 20 ARE NOT RULES FOR ALL PEOPLE AND TIMES ABOUT GAY BEHAVIOR

1. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a rulebook, providing rules for living for modern peoples.

2. The OT rules given by God specifically to ancient Israel (presuming of course that you think that is what Leviticus represents - a theory that many people would not ascribe to) are not intended to be taken as rules for modern peoples, but, as it says in the text, are rules specifically for ancient Israel.

3. NO ONE (Marshall and Bubba included) take all the rules found in Leviticus as literal moral rules that apply for all people. Since even Bubba and Marshall don't take all these rules as literal rules for modern people, why would anyone? Why pick and choose? What consistent standards are there for picking and choosing? If there are none (and there aren't), why believe Bubba/Marshall/et al's hunches about which ones apply today?

4. The Bible does not represent a voice from God, providing ideas about morals for all people. (I don't ascribe to this opinion, but it IS another of the many reasons provided over and over again).

...for starters. That you disagree with reasons that have been provided is not the same thing as saying there are no reasons to disagree with your whimsical, emotional and unsupported hunch.

Understand?

Marshall Art said...

"1. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a rulebook, providing rules for living for modern peoples."

Where does the Bible state this about itself? Isn't that your standard for such claims? As such, this point is worthless as an argument.

2. I've shown where your opinion is flawed. You simply dismiss it and pretend your dismissal is a credible response. It isn't. You would insist that God must state emphatically that any specific rule applies to all people everywhere for all time. Few scholars would agree with this, but those who favor particular worldviews need it to be true. As such, there is no teaching in either Testament that is so categorized, and thus, there is no teaching that anyone can insist applies to us in the 21st century. Yours is a most self-serving position without support.

3. A standard for separating those rules that apply to only the ancients and those that still apply to day have just been described. They are commonly held as legitimate by most scholars who are not trying to push an agenda. You merely dismiss the standard because it conflicts with your agenda, not because you have a legitimate or coherent argument in rebuttal. "Nuh uh" doesn't qualify. As such, we only speak with regards to the moral rules of Leviticus, not the ceremonial or civil laws.

4. This is clearly not the case. Indeed, the Bible is the only source for determining morality for the Christian. God is the source of morality, not your whimsical hunches based on what you perceive as "harm". It is YOUR perspective that reflects emotion based opinion. And you've provided only opinion as reasons you disagree with the more rational position, not actual evidence from Scripture, or anywhere else, for that matter.

So I understand perfectly that your position is not supported, based on your own personal opinions and not a mature reflection of the teachings and "truths" of Scripture. It IS, however, perfect for justifying and rationalizing whatever one prefers.

Bubba said...

Dan, a couple brief asides first.

1) I'm not a fan of the phrase "God's opinions," as if the position of the omniscient and holy Creator could be contested: because of free will, we can rebel against it, but we have no ground to ARGUE against it. It's not a phrase I've seen anyone else use, it's not a phrase that the Bible would justify, and I would prefer references to God's will or commands or -- more broadly -- to God's word or revelation.

2) I had explained that I was going to be out-of-pocket for just over a week -- from 9/6 to today -- but I see that you that you went an even longer period without comment AND without explanation. One could almost wonder whether your life offline was too busy, but clearly you had enough time to post a good number of comments at John's blog in the interim.

Especially considering how pushy you've occasionally been about timely replies, that radio silence without explanation or apology strikes me as more than a little rude.

--

Now, you write, "I'm not sure in what sense you think that we can 'know' what is unprovable."

I did point to at least one logical maxim which I believe is both unprovable and knowable: the law of non-contradiction. As a maxim, it cannot be proven, but as a maxim it needs no proof because it is self-evident.

Just as the dictionary definitions and lists of synonyms give no reason to insist that "objective" means "uncontestable," the dictionary does not suggest that one must be able to prove a thing in order to know it.

Your position seems to be this:

"In order to know something, you have to be able to prove that something."

Is that a correct summary of your position? If so, I challenge you to prove that position, because -- by your own position -- you cannot really know that position unless you can prove it.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

As I wrote nearly two weeks ago, "I believe that human certain[ty] IS possible: there are conclusions about which a person can be truly certain.

"Do those conclusions include God's existence and at least aspects of God's will?

"I'm actually somewhat agnostic on that particular question: I'm not sure that 100% certainty is possible, but I do not believe that 100% certainty is necessary for one to have a moral duty to respond to what he knows, to respond in faith, in obedience, and in confidently communicating that knowledge to others.

"After all, a man rarely has metaphysical certainty that his wife didn't cheat on him while she was out running errands, but we would be right to criticize a man for his suspicion in the absence of strong evidence of infidelity.

"Regardless of whether one can perfectly know God's existence or even some aspect of God's will, I do believe that one CAN know at least some clear teachings of the Bible beyond any possible good-faith disagreement."

You seem to say that one cannot truly know even any particular aspect of God's will, and that one cannot truly know the author's intended meaning of a text -- or at least, that's your position IN THIS THREAD. Elsewhere, you insist that God would never ever take human life through human agency or any other means, and you presume to tell others about the "actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches," as if it's an actual thing that's actually knowable.

About the claim that there may sometimes be only one good-faith interpretation of a text, you ask, "on what objective, factual basis would you make that sort of claim?"

Well, there's the text itself, and we might both claim to hold our interpretations with equal intensity, but it is the arguments for those interpretations that commend our positions, not our sincerity.

If you think some particular interpretation is more plausible, aruge for it: each of us is free to reject your position -- either because our counter-arguments are stronger OR because we're stubborn and willful -- and each of us is responsible for being intellectually honest.

I believe we will be held accountable for our intellectual honesty, in the next life if not in this life, and I have no problem with the idea that my beliefs will be scrutinized.

Unless you provide proof that a knowable claim MUST be a provable claim, I have no reason to back off my quite reasonable positions.

- Some truths can be known but not proven.

- It is possible that at least part of God's will can be known with certainty, at least sufficient certainty that one has a moral obligation to obey that command personally and proclaim that command to others.

- The meaning of at least parts of Scripture is ultimately knowable: God doesn't mumble, and human fallibility doesn't imply outright stupidity.

We can know God's will, we can know the meaning of a text, and not all knowable claims are provable claims.

These aren't outrageous positions that I must renounce in order to have my questions answered, nor are these positions about which I've been unclear.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You seem to say that one cannot truly know even any particular aspect of God's will, and that one cannot truly know the author's intended meaning of a text -- or at least, that's your position IN THIS THREAD. Elsewhere, you insist that God would never ever take human life through human agency or any other means, and you presume to tell others about the "actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches," as if it's an actual thing that's actually knowable.

My response, restated from elsewhere:

Those ARE my opinions, Bubba. Would it help if I said it ten more times? 100 more times? I think my opinions are reasonable conclusions, based on the evidence at hand, but they remain MY OPINIONS. My opinions on these topics, like YOUR opinions, are not provable, thus they are not “know-able” in the sense of any sort of perfect knowledge. They are reasonable opinions, I believe, given the data at hand, but not provable and not “know-able,” at least in the same sense that we can know 1 + 1 = 2.
They are “know-able,” if, by “know,” you mean, “I Have this opinion that seems reasonable to me…” but then, EVERYONE’s opinions are knowable in that sense.

Is that what you mean Bubba? That we ALL “know” what our opinions are, when we hold them based on what seems reasonable to us? And that, thus, the atheist truly “knows” there is no god, and the Christian “knows” that there is a God and Jesus is God’s Son, and the Muslim “knows” that Allah is God, as they understand Allah… and that we ALL “know” these things?
If so, it seems you are rendering the word “know” meaningless. What definition of “know” are you using, may I ask?

Or, if not – if you think YOU can “know” your positions are the One True Right positions and everyone else who THINKS they “know” their positions, they are fooled and they only THINK they know them, but they don’t really – on what bases do you make the rather arrogant-sounding claim that You, Bubba, are the holder of the True Knowledge?

Some source, please, other than, “I REAALLLLLLLLLLLY think so because I read the Bible and I’m REALLLY, REAALLLY sure of what I, Bubba, think it means…"

cont'd...

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Your position seems to be this:

"In order to know something, you have to be able to prove that something."

Is that a correct summary of your position? If so, I challenge you to prove that position


My position:

In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position. Otherwise, it is a guess. That guess may be more or less an educated guess, but it is still a guess.

I may THINK I "know" that there is an invisible purple unicorn in my backyard, I may REALLY believe it is there, I may have some ancient text that contains words that suggest to me it CERTAINLY is there, I may be able to "sense it in my gut" when it is present and get a "vision" of what this unicorn looks like... BUT:

Unless I can produce objective hard data to demonstrate it is there, I don't really "know" it is there. At least in the normal English usage of that word (MW: 1. to perceive directly).

What definition of "know" are you using?

As I said above, it seems that you are watering down "know" to mean "Any belief which one bases on SOME source that one feels confident of... whether it is provable or not..." in which case, all of us "know" all manner of things, some of which is contradictory.

Do you think that the atheist "knows" that gods don't exist, the Scientologist "knows" that Thetans are/contain our souls..., the fundamentalist Baptist "knows" that "the gays" are going to hell and the anabaptist "knows" that Jesus was a pacifist while the conservative Southern Baptist "knows" that Jesus supports Christians going to war?

If only those who agree with you are the ones who truly "know" what they know, on what basis would you make that claim?

Bubba said...

Dan, you say your position is this:

"In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

Okay. PROVE IT.

Prove that one "must" be able to prove a position in order to know it beyond the possibility of error.

An example about an invisible unicorn -- the sort of example an atheist would use, by the way -- is meaningless unless you can show that this specific example can be generalized UNIVERSALLY. You have made no such attempt to generalize the example, and I've already produced an obvious counter-example, the law of non-contradiction.

Can you prove that we don't actually KNOW that non-contradiction is impossible? Or can you prove the law of non-contradiction, since such proof is (you say) necessary to know that the law is true and trustworthy?

Again: prove that one "must" be able to prove a position in order to know it beyond the possibility of error.

You've never proven this claim, and I don't believe the claim can possibly be proven. If you cannot prove it, then BY YOUR OWN POSITION, the position is just a guess.

In which case, you have no ground to insist that your position is "the reality of the world, in the real world," and you have no reason to denigrate those who disagree with you on your guess.

It's like the claim that only empirical claims are trustworthy: if that claim ITSELF is not empirical (and it's not), then the claim undermines itself FATALLY.

You say that to know something, you have to be able to prove it: you claim to KNOW this, but you have not yet PROVEN this.

Surely you see the inconsistency of your position, and so I challenge you again to prove your position and demonstrate that it meets its own patently absurd requirements.

Dan Trabue said...

Know: MW: 1. to perceive directly.

By definition, one can "know" what one can perceive directly.

Having unproven opinions about personal interpretations of an ancient text which may or may not be an inspired text, which may or may not mean that it is inspired by an all-knowing Creator God, which may or may not mean that said God intended to pass on some knowledge which you may or may not have interpreted correctly... THAT is NOT "perceived directly," and thus, NOT "known" in the sense I'm speaking of.

By definition.

Now I've answered and re-answered your question, flip it and answer it yourself:

How do you "know" that your opinions are not mistaken if you can't prove them? On what basis?

I'm looking for hard data not "well, a bunch of people REALLY agree with my interpretations and opinions and we're all REALLLLY sure we're right..."

Bubba said...

You have not answered my request for proof for your position. You didn't even attempt to prove your position.

"In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

Can you prove that perceive this claim directly? If you can, produce that proof now.

Don't just invoke the dictionary definition of what it means to know something, PROVE THAT IT APPLIES TO YOUR POSITION AND THAT YOU KNOW YOUR POSITION IS TRUE.

Don't digress about the very specific topic regarding "personal interpretations of an ancient text which may or may not be an inspired text, which may or may not mean that it is inspired by an all-knowing Creator God, which may or may not mean that said God intended to pass on some knowledge which you may or may not have interpreted correctly..." Prove your MUCH more general claim about the breadth and width of epistemology.

PROVE YOUR POSITION that one "must" be able to prove something to know it.

Going by your position itself, you ought to be able to do this, or you ought to concede that your position about what is known IS ONLY A GUESS.

Dan Trabue said...

Would you like me to also "prove" that a bicycle has two wheels? That UP is away from the floor, assuming the floor is under our feet and gravity is normal and all that?

Words have meanings. "Know" means what it means.

Now, having TOTALLY answered that question, your turn.

Your turn to prove your claim or leave, this is just ridiculous, Bubba. You're wanting to argue against Merriam Webster, not me.

I've lost all patience with you. I've answered your question, answer your own question now, or leave.

Bubba said...

Dan, the dictionary definition for "know" does NOT state your position that "In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

It doesn't even imply your position, and if you think it does, the burden is yours to draw out that implication and thereby prove the connection.

I'm fine with the dictionary definition of the word "know," what's absolutely daft if your attempt to invoke that definition as proof of your tendentious position.

The complete first definition is this:

a (1) : to perceive directly : have direct cognition of (2) : to have understanding of (3) : to recognize the nature of : discern

NONE OF THIS implies that a thing must be proven or even prove-ABLE to be perceived or otherwise known.

The second part of definition a(1), to "have direct cognition of," points in the opposite direction: one can have congnition of a truth WITHOUT necessarily being able to prove it.

You ask, "How do you 'know' that your opinions are not mistaken if you can't prove them? On what basis?"

It depends on the nature of the claim. Logical maxims, for instance, are and must be self-evident. There can be no proof of the law of non-contradiction, and indeed there need not be any proof, because the claim is obviously true.

I don't need to go through some systematic taxonomy of epistemology to show that even one set of claims -- logical maxims -- refute your position.

And I'll note that I've mentioned the law of non-contradiction in three prior comments, and you haven't even acknowledged the argument from that maxim, much less refuted it.

You've written nothing like, "No, the law of non-contradiction isn't really knowable," or "No, the law IS provable, and here's the proof..."

You've just COMPLETELY ignored the point, as if I haven't repeatedly brought up a counter-example of something that is clearly knowable but not provable.

The example of the law of non-contradiction is a repeated and important part of my contention that one can know SOME things (some, not all) without being able to prove those things.

The fact is, Dan, I've answered your questions thoroughly, and I've now answered the most recent iteration of your last question.

Before you show me the door, you are obliged to reciprocate and answer a question of mine -- a question on a topic OF MY CHOOSING, and not just a (futile) question asking you to prove that your position isn't self-refuting.

This being your blog, you certainly have the ability to block me by deleting my comments, but you don't have the moral standing to do so -- at least, you don't until you live up to your pose about wanting a one-to-one two-way conversation.

- I believe that one can know SOME truths without being able to prove those truths, logical maxims being the obvious example.

- You say you believe, "In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

- You believe that dictionary definition of the word "know" is sufficient proof of your position, despite the fact that definition doesn't even mention the ability to prove what is perceived.

- I believe that that definition is WHOLLY inadequate proof for your position.

That pretty much sums up where we stand. We don't agree, but we do understand each other.

If there's nothing else, do I have the floor to ask you my question with the expectation that you will provide a clear and honest answer, and with the freedom to ask you clarifying and elaborating questions as needed?

After more than two weeks and more than 60 comments, is it now finally my turn?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Where does the Bible state this about itself? Isn't that your standard for such claims? As such, this point is worthless as an argument.

The Bible makes no claim to be a motor repair manual, a How To document for doing vasectomies or a Butterfly field guide. I have no reason to think it is any of those things, either.

No, my standard is, any claims need to be supported. IF you think the Bible is a rule book for modern people, then provide some support for that. Beginning with where in the Bible it makes that claim. Failing that, show where God told you so. Failing that, maybe you shouldn't support the claim.

My response is IN response to those who would make such claims without support. Having ZERO reasons to think the Bible is a rule book for modern people, I don't think it is. The onus is on you to make your case, if you think it is.

Marshall...

I've shown where your opinion is flawed.

No. You factually have not. You've talked a bunch about your opinions as to why you disagree with my opinions, but that is not to say that my opinion is flawed, just that you don't find it compelling. Fine, don't agree with me. I certainly don't agree with you and I don't do so because your arguments are not compelling to me. So, why would I?

You have to have something else beyond, "But I REALLY think I'm right!" to make your case...

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, if one can know - can PERCEIVE DIRECTLY - it IS provable.

"LOOK. There is a blue car. I can perceive it directly, I know it is blue."

One can know about things in a general sense, not provably. I generally "know about" Mark Twain, that he was a clever writer, who was opposed to imperialism and had harsh words against slavery and foolish war-making. Does that mean I can definitively "KNOW" (perceive directly) his opinion on the Iraq Invasion or on President Obama or race relations in the 21st century? No, I can not perceive them directly.

Yes, if something can be perceived directly, it IS provable.

"No, the car isn't blue."

"Yes, it is, look!"

"Oh, you're right. You've proven it by letting me perceive it directly."

WHAT praytell can be perceived directly that is not provable?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You've just COMPLETELY ignored the point, as if I haven't repeatedly brought up a counter-example of something that is clearly knowable but not provable.

I have no opinion about the law of non-contradiction or your use of it in your argument. I'm not sure it helps your in any sense.

So, I repeat:

If you can "know" that you are right that there is a God, does the atheist ALSO "know" that there is not a God. (The law of non-contradiction would say this is not possible, by the way)?

If you can "know" your position is right on topics 1, 2 and 3, does that mean that the liberal believer who "knows" you are mistaken on all three points is also correct?

You are rendering "knowing" meaningless.

Bubba said...

You have no opinion about the law of non-contradiction? Really? Not even an opinion on whether it's true and/or provable? That's incredibly myopic.

"WHAT praytell can be perceived directly that is not provable?"

Beyond one-off events for which you're the only witness, there is that matter for which you have no opinion: the law of non-contradiction can be pereceived (i.e., you can have direct cognition of its truth) but cannot be proven.

"If you can 'know' your position is right on topics 1, 2 and 3, does that mean that the liberal believer who 'knows' you are mistaken on all three points is also correct?"

That use of the word "know" has no connection either to the dictionary definition or to my use of the word, which conforms to the definition.

This goes back to an earlier comment of yours.

"Is that what you mean Bubba? That we ALL 'know' what our opinions are, when we hold them based on what seems reasonable to us? And that, thus, the atheist truly 'knows' there is no god, and the Christian 'knows' that there is a God and Jesus is God’s Son, and the Muslim 'knows' that Allah is God, as they understand Allah… and that we ALL 'know' these things?"

No, I'm not using "know" as a stand-in for a strongly-held opinion that may be wrong, or an opinion based on what seems reasonable to a person.

"If so, it seems you are rendering the word 'know' meaningless. What definition of 'know' are you using, may I ask?"

I'm using the definition given at MW: to know a claim means to perceive that it is ACTUALLY TRULY TRUE.

Truth is when something corresponds to reality, to know something is to perceive that correspondence.

Can you perceive that a truth must be prove-able to be know-able? If you can, you haven't shown how: you haven't provided the proof that your position is correct, that proof is necessary for knowledge.

As much as you'd like to paint me as railing against the dictionary -- or the Reality of the Really Real Real World! -- your invoking the dictionary definition of "know" is wholly inadequate proof of your position.

At least, that's my position, which I've explained and defended adqueately.

Do you have anything else besides strawman outrage based on positions I do not hold, or is it finally my turn?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm using the definition given at MW: to know a claim means to perceive that it is ACTUALLY TRULY TRUE.

"Perceive" here, it seems to me, implies that it CAN BE perceived. IF there is no hard evidence, how can it be perceived? A feeling? Tradition?

On what bases are the things that you claim to "know" count as "knowing" in a way that is different than the atheist or just the liberal Christian who disagrees with you on some points?

Perhaps it would be helpful if you could list a few items you "know" with absolute certainty?

Dan Trabue said...

Just an aside about Bubba's aside...

I'm not a fan of the phrase "God's opinions," as if the position of the omniscient and holy Creator could be contested

I don't care that you're not a fan of the term. We are speaking quite specifically of What God Thinks about various topics. There is a word for What Someone Thinks and that word is Opinion. It's an appropriate word.

I don't know why calling What God Thinks an Opinion in any way suggests these Thoughts or Opinions can't be contested. Beyond which, if one wants to contest God's opinion, one can. It happens in the Bible, as a matter of fact, so, what's the problem?

I repeat: It's an apt word.

And, hoping you're not bored with Merriam Webster, but they have this as their first definition for Opinion:

a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

It would seem to me that God does indeed have judgments and views formed in God's Mind about particular matters, so, again, I see no problem here.

As to your second aside:

I see that you that you went an even longer period without comment AND without explanation. One could almost wonder whether your life offline was too busy, but clearly you had enough time to post a good number of comments at John's blog in the interim.

I have indeed been busy. As you can see, I have posted new posts on my blog. If you want, I could tell you about my parents' health troubles and the time I'm putting towards them, as well as my 2+ jobs I am currently working, in addition to getting my daughter started off in college and my regular volunteer and church work, but I'm sure you can understand being busy.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

"WHAT praytell can be perceived directly that is not provable?"

Beyond one-off events for which you're the only witness


If you were a witness, then there IS direct evidence, even if the event is over. But in your claims to "know" God's opinions about various topics, you are not a direct witness to God telling you anything. It is based on your opinions which are based on your interpretations of a text that you believe you are approaching correctly and using correct hermeneutics, in your opinion but not provably or definitively, in this text that we can not definitively say is "God's revelation..." and certainly can not authoritatively say, "our approach to it is God's approach and the Right Way..."

There is SO much vagueness and personal feelings and interpretations involved that I don't see how you can make any claims to authoritatively "know" anything, for sure.

Bubba said...

Dan, about those asides:

1) "Opinion" isn't the only word "for What Someone Thinks" and what that someone communicates to another -- "position" would work, and I think "message" would be much better since we're discussing what God communicates -- and the word may be strictly accurate in terms of denotation, but its CONNOTATION is another thing entirely.

The reason why is made explicit in the statutory canon in interpreting law, expressio unius est exclusio alterius, which means "expression of the one is exclusion of the other."

The principle is, "when one or more things of a class are expressly mentioned others of the same class are excluded," and a variation of that principle is found outside the courtroom.

Suppose a dad tells his teenage son that he'll break the 2-cycle weed-eater if he puts pure gas in the tank without mixing in any oil.

If the son says, "that's your opinion," the father can reasonably infer that he means, "that's ONLY your opinion" and not a claim to be accepted as factual. I've never known the reply to indicate humble submission to the message being communicated.

I've never known anyone to suggest that he agrees with or trustingly accepts someone else's position by saying, "that's your opinion."

Indeed, the Bible shows that people rebel against God's message, but never that they have successfully argued (or can so argue) against it. He's holy, omniscient, and righteous, and we're none of these things, so it's an impossibility in the nature of things.

2) I CERTAINLY understand being busy in one's personal and professional life, being too busy "offline" even to write a brief note online.

But that's not what happened in this case. I didn't have time last week to comment anywhere, but I did check in on this thread, noticing that you hadn't commented (and seeing that Marshall noticed the same thing), and I glanced at Sifting Reality and saw your name come up more than once in the "recent comments" list on the sidebar.

In this thread, you commented a few times on 9/2, and the VERY NEXT time you commented was on 9/12. In the nine days between -- 9/3 to 9/11 -- you commented repeatedly at John's blog, 4 times in the thread about Ferguson, 4 times in the thread about the NFL and domestic violence.

That you didn't comment in this thread was your choice, not a consequence of circumstances beyond your control.

I remember your jumping on people for not replying to your questions in less than 24 hours, so your radio silence for more than a week is hypocritical; it's rude in any case.

On 9/3 I made clear that I would be out of pocket from 9/6 to 9/14 (which I was). You could have quickly and easily chosen to write something like that in advance of your absence: "I have other things to do, but I'll get back to this conversation on such-and-such date."

Obviously, you chose not to.

You should at least own up to your decision even if you don't think it's something for which you should apologize.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You just said:

"
No, my standard is, any claims need to be supported."


I was responding to this claim:

"1. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a rulebook, providing rules for living for modern peoples."

You insist that the Bible must refer to itself as a rulebook, though I never take that position worded as such. It is indeed, however, a book in which there are rules of all people for all time and in both Testaments. You prefer to say "a book of Truths". What's the difference? Ambiguity? I know you need ambiguity to hold onto your radical understandings. But a truth is hard and fast, just like a rule. What's more, I doubt you could distinguish the degree to which you give regard to either. If you dismiss a rule as being stupid or impractical, how is that different from dismissing what others regard as a truth with which you disagree? Yours is a semantic game, but one which allows you to disregard those rules, those truths that you prefer didn't exist.

So once again, I believe the Bible contains rules for living. They are the teachings of God in the OT and of Christ in the NT. They do not contradict each other, though some were for the nation of Israel specifically, while other truths for living, rules as it were, while included with those given to Israel, are for all people for all time. Some of these you even follow in earnest yourself (though I'm not prepared to list them).

As to showing where your opinion stated in point 2 is flawed, I most certainly have indeed shown it to be so, considering I put forth Scriptural evidence for how the rules are divided IN THE TEXT OF SCRIPTURE between those give directly to the "sons of Israel" and others made in reference to the transgressions of other nations. If they were only given to Israel, why the reference to other nations, for whom the rules are not intended? Obviously, and to anyone honorable enough to be objective about the text, it demonstrates that those sins were also sinful for the nation from which God led the Hebrews and sinful for the nation to which God was leading them. That is, not just for the Hebrews.

It's not rocket science, Dan. And it really doesn't hurt to acknowledge the plain fact of it. Well, considering the sins you support as blessed, it might hurt you a little. But if you repent, with God's help you'll see the error of your sin enabling ways.

In any case, as before, you responded to my argument with your standard "nuh uh", and no substantive rebuttal. This is the typical complaint against you. And after I took the time to assemble evidence from Scripture to prove my point. I'm not getting a sense of intellectual honesty from you. I make my claim, I support my claim, I get "nuh uh". But I already know you don't agree. When do I get to see YOUR supporting evidence?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I've never known anyone to suggest that he agrees with or trustingly accepts someone else's position by saying, "that's your opinion."

Sigh. So, you're saying EVEN THOUGH, that technically, I'm correct and the word fits the definition, you still don't like it? Fine, don't like it.

For what it's worth, the strength or weakness of the word "opinion" depends greatly on context.

"The Supreme Court laid out the opinion that..." is a Final Word. There is nothing flighty or insulting in referring to their views as an Opinion. Similarly, doctors and medical teams reach Opinions and those are pretty definitive and there is nothing insulting in saying that the AMA has reached the Opinion that smoking is bad for you...

So, you are entirely welcome to not like my use of the word Opinion, I find it apt.

Bubba said...

Dan, about what is perceived, you seem to think that perception is limited to the five senses. That could be justifiable in light of the second definition of the word, but definition 1a requires no such limitation: one can "attain awareness or understanding of" at least SOME kinds of truths through mere thought wholly apart from sensory experience.

Clearly, definition 1a of "know" is based on that first definition of "perceive," since "to perceive directly" is treated as equivalent to "have direct cognition of."

Having cognition of at least SOME truths, such as logical maxims, is possible without sensory experience, as such sensory experience cannot prove, e.g., that non-contradiction is impossible -- indeed, one cannot prove the law of non-contradiction in any case, with sensory data or without it.

The contrary position is self-defeating: one can claim, "you can only know things through sensory experience," but that claim ITSELF **CANNOT** be known through sensory experience.

--

You write, "Perhaps it would be helpful if you could list a few items you 'know' with absolute certainty."

I've already repeatedly emphasized what would take position A-number-1 on that list: the law of non-contradiction, which states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions "A is B" and "A is not B" are mutually exclusive.

I have no proof for the law, and I need no proof: the law is obviously and self-evidently true.

I could go further down the list, but if your position is that NO such claims are know-able, you need to address my strongest argument, not any of its weaker brothers.

(It's like the position that the Bible isn't clear on any doctrine beyond a reasonable good-faith disagreement: it's not enough to show that there's ambiguity about contested and less obvious doctrines, one would have to show there's ambiguity about even the MOST obvious doctrines, like basic theism, the existence of God.)

If your position is correct, then I'm wrong that the law of contradiction is know-able but not prove-able. You would need to prove the law or deny that it's know-able.

--

In addition to logical maxims being know-able but not prove-able, I also mention one-off events for which you're the only witness.

You write, "If you were a witness, then there IS direct evidence, even if the event is over."

SOMETIMES there remains direct evidence, but not always, and even in a criminal case for a capital offense -- a matter of literal life and death -- a credible eyewitness is not required to produce evidence to substantiate his testimony.

Your direct eyewitness observation of the event convinced you that the event took place, but that observation and your memory of that observation does not constitute "direct evidence" that you could use to PROVE that event to anyone else.

(Are you using "prove-able" to mean that it's enough that you can "prove" the claim to yourself? That's an unconventional use of the term: when Al makes a claim and Bill challenges it with "Prove it," it's not enough for Al to close his eyes, think to himself, and say, "I proved it to myself, Q.E.D.")

Suppose you were standing in your backyard on a cool fall day, enjoying the weather. The wind picks up, you see acorns fall from your oak trees, and -- from seemingly out of nowhere -- a squirrel jumps from your roof to a branch, catching a falling acorn in midair.

You run inside to tell your family what the amazing and amusing thing you saw. What "direct evidence" could you possibly produce to PROVE what you know to those who were NOT witnesses, namely that a squirrel just caught an acorn in midair in your backyard?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

You insist that the Bible must refer to itself as a rulebook, though I never take that position worded as such. It is indeed, however, a book in which there are rules of all people for all time and in both Testaments. You prefer to say "a book of Truths". What's the difference?

The difference is Grace.

Embrace it.

There are recipes included in the Bible, but if someone called it a Cook Book, I would respond the same way. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a cookbook!

That is my opinion. WHY do I have that opinion? Because there is ZERO evidence supporting any claims that the Bible is a cookbook. Same for treating it as a rule book.

When someone is making a claim about which there is no evidence, then there is no need to produce evidence. If someone says, "I keep a flying purple unicorn in my back yard, it vomits jelly beans..." I don't need evidence to support the claim, "No, you don't," they need evidence to support their claim.

There IS no evidence for something that does not exist.

A claim that the Bible is a rule book does not exist in the Bible, nor is any justification for treating it as such.

Bubba said...

Dan:

Supreme Court opinions aren't always final (see Plessy), medical journal opinions aren't final (as with whether eggs are unhealthy), and neither are doctors' opinions.

You write, "doctors and medical teams reach Opinions and those are pretty definitive." If that were true, the notion of going to another doctor to get a "second opinion" would be seen as nonsensical, the phrase would be seen as a contradiction in terms.

What's common about all three of those examples is precisely what ISN'T true about God: judges interpret law, doctors interpret symptoms and test results, and researchers interpret the data from clinical studies, but in His omniscience, God doesn't need to interpret. He can and does merely declare what He knows to be true.

"Sigh. So, you're saying EVEN THOUGH, that technically, I'm correct and the word fits the definition, you still don't like it? Fine, don't like it."

That was the point of that particular digression: the phrase irks me.

I couldn't have been more clear.

"I'm not a fan of the phrase... and I would prefer references to God's will or commands or -- more broadly -- to God's word or revelation."

Bubba said...

Dan, to Marshall you write, "There are recipes included in the Bible, but if someone called it a Cook Book, I would respond the same way. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a cookbook!"

It sounds like you have a notion about what the Bible's intent is, and you should say what that notion is and what evidence you have for that position -- unless, of course, you think that the concept of the Bible's intent is as ridiculous as a purple unicorn in a person's backyard, to be dismissed in the absence of conclusive evidence.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

It sounds like you have a notion about what the Bible's intent is, and you should say what that notion is and what evidence you have for that position

So far as I know, "the Bible" has no intent. The bible is not a person or sentient being in order to have an intent.

Instead, the bible is, factually speaking, a collection of stories and lessons and poetry (passed down by humans, according to the text and available evidence) that some of we humans happen to believe to be inspired by God.

As such, we believe the old stories, poetry and lessons found in this human collection (that we humans have considered "scripture" or holy text) are inspired and inform us of the history (not necessarily and not likely literal, in a modern sense) of a People and their relationship with God. Our human foibles, aspirations, fears, loves and hopes in relating to God and vice versa are depicted in various literary formats.

We can not say authoritatively what the "intent" of the original authors was, although we can make some reasonable guesses, as well as some unreasonable or less reasonable guesses.

For instance, guessing that the authors of Genesis had as an intent to pass on a history told in a modern scientific manner as to the creation of the world, the development of work and language and clothes, etc would be rather silly, since history telling in a modern scientific manner didn't exist at the time. It would be as silly as guessing that they must have written these stories in English, which did not exist at the time.

But as to the author's definitive intent, well, none of us can say for sure. As a matter of fact.

Do you disagree? DO you think you can speak for the authors of Genesis as to their intent?

If so, on what basis would you make such a bold and frankly crazy-sounding claim?

So, do I have an authoritative answer as to what the original authors' intents were for the various parts of the Bible? No, but generally speaking, many in the church have accepted it is, as Paul noted, inspired, and useful for teaching, training and correcting people about good living, about God and God's Ways.

I agree with Paul that our human collection of these 66 books ARE useful for teaching and training, rightly understood. However, as with any text, taking it out of context or misusing the text to gather bad messages renders it less good, or even bad, for teaching.

It all depends upon the interpretation one has. Good interpretation and rational, moral consideration and meditation of its words will lead to good learning. Bad and/or irrational or immoral consideration of its words will lead to bad learning.

One man's opinion.

Marshall Art said...

What recipes do you have in mind? Again, I have not stated that the Bible is a "rule book", so why do you insist on making that charge. THAT was my point? I believe there are indeed rules for living, including rules that dictate behavior that please God and behaviors that displease Him.

And by the way: Do you not regard "commandments" as rules? "Thou shalt not murder" for example. Is that not a rule? If were even merely think of the Big Ten only, we can still say that among other things, the Bible is indeed a book of rules. That is not all it is, but it is a book of rules.

Regarding the difference between rules and truths, your response was a graceless dodge. It was a more relevant and intelligent question than so many of yours routinely are. I don't see one as possessing much grace in disobeying rules, particularly those set forth by God in either Testament. They are easy to understand and thus, easy to dismiss, which is lacking in grace, among other shortcomings. But "truths"? The intentional ambiguity in this alternative to "rules" allows for even less grace, as one can pretend one's own understanding of any particular "truth" is equally valid to another.

Perhaps embracing grace by expounding on your answer in greater detail in order to further clarify might be in order. As such, your response is nothing more than equivocation.

Bubba said...

Of course, Dan, when I mentioned the Bible's intent, I meant the authors' intent for the book, not the intent of an inanimate object.

You write, "generally speaking, many in the church have accepted it is, as Paul noted, inspired, and useful for teaching, training and correcting people about good living, about God and God's Ways."

But Paul didn't merely "note" that "many" have accepted the Bible as inspired, etc.: Paul asserted that it actually is inspired (lit. God-breathed) and not just useful for good living but making us wise for salvation and equipped for every good work.

At any rate, you do make clear that your position about the authors' intent for the Bible is tentative:

"But as to the author's definitive intent, well, none of us can say for sure. As a matter of fact."

That being your position, you ought not to be so dogmatic about others' positions, insisting that the authors' intent is definitely not what they believe it is.

"There are recipes included in the Bible, but if someone called it a Cook Book, I would respond the same way. The Bible is not INTENDED to be a cookbook!"

That sort of response implies a certainty about the intent that you don't really have.

That "rule book" business is unfair, because it's a phrase none of us have used and quite a few of us (myself included) have explicitly rejected: for me the Bible is not primarily about rules, but about the relationship with God; that relationship entails obedience to God's revealed commands, but that obedience is only the fruit of the relationship.

Regardless, you shouldn't speak with presumed authority about what the intent ISN'T if you admit that you are not certain about what the intent IS.

--

"One man's opinion."

I see your using the word "opinion" exactly in the way I mentioned above, that it's a tentative thing held by one person and not a definitive position that everyone ought to have.

But like I said, I just dislike references to God's "opinion" and would prefer an alternative phrase.

--

If you have nothing else to say about your position regarding what is know-able and what is prove-able -- or what is objective and what is incontrovertible -- I'd appreciate your saying so, so I can ask you my question with the confidence that you will be prompt in providing a clear and honest answer.

Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

You can ask your question at any time. But don't let that make you think you've answered any of my pertinent questions.

These remain unanswered (and here I'm rephrasing from memory and in an attempt to re-ask them in a way that perhaps you'll actually answer):

On what basis are your opinions and interpretations reliable in a way that mine and all the others who disagree with your human opinions are NOT?

If you "know" that God exists, why does the atheist not also "know" that God does not exist.

If you "know" that your opinions about marriage, war and money are right, why does the liberal not also "know" that his opinions about marriage, war and money are right?

What makes your "knowing" better than someone else's?

What opinions (on some of the various moral topics we've discussed) of yours are beyond reproach and impossible to be wrong?

On what bases are the things that you claim to "know" count as "knowing" in a way that is different than the atheist or just the liberal Christian who disagrees with you on some points?

Perhaps it would be helpful if you could list a few opinions about moral behaviors you "know" with absolute certainty?

These are all mostly ways of addressing the same hole in your reasoning. Feel free to actually answer the question asked if you want. Feel free to post your question if you want.

Look, can we reason our way into knowing some things (a la your "law of contradiction" suggestion). But that does not help your argument.

There is no basis (none that you have offered so far, at least, and I'm relatively certain there are none) for person A to say, "I believe not only does God exists, but that God thinks that behaviors 1, 2 and 3 are immoral." in a way that is morally and rationally superior to Person B saying, "I believe that not only does God exist, but that God thinks that behaviors 1, 2 and 3 are MORAL..."

In short, you do NOT know authoritatively that your opinions about God's opinions are factually right. You BELIEVE it, you think your conclusion on those points are reasonable, but you do NOT know it, not authoritatively, not demonstrably. It is, with no proof otherwise, YOUR OPINION about God's opinion and you can not prove otherwise, and we have no reason to give your opinion any more weight than my opinion on the matter.

And that's the way it is, based on the evidence that I've seen thus far.

Craig said...

Bubba,

You can ask your 1 for 1 question at any time, it just won't get a response until you answer the 7 1 for 1 questions in Dan's last comment.

Dan Trabue said...

The thing that you're failing to understand, Craig, is that I'm just trying to ask ONE question, it's just that Bubba's dodging and meandering and throwing out so many words that I'm asking it in a variety of ways to try to finally get down to whether or not Bubba is grounded in reality.

Do YOU Craig, have any reason to demand that your opinions on topics 1, 2 and 3 (moral topics you are "sure" of, if there are any) are somehow more reliable than mine or Thomas Jefferson's or some other Disagree-er? On what basis?

It always comes down to that and it always comes back to either NO answer or the answer of, "Because MY opinion is 'obviously' right..." or some variation of that, which just begs the very question that is being supposedly answered.

Bubba said...

Dan:

At John's blog, you've recently written about this discussion here, saying, "anyone can visit there and see that no matter how many ways I frame my questions, you remain answerless."

That's nonsense. I've answered your questions fully. If anyone is dodging, it's you.

You're position is this:

"In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

I have REPEATEDLY pointed to the conclusive counter-example of the law of non-contradiction, and I've repeatedly called on you either to deny that we can actually know this self-evident maxim or to prove the maxim.

You've shown no interest whatsover in the counter-example.

"I have no opinion about the law of non-contradiction or your use of it in your argument. I'm not sure it helps your in any sense."

That's hardly a brutal takedown of my argument.

You've also written, "If you were a witness, then there IS direct evidence, even if the event is over."

I asked what direct evidence you could produce, to prove the event's occurence to someone who wasn't there. I even provided a scenario, where you see the unlikely event of a squirrel catching an acorn in midair.

You haven't acknowledge my question, much less answered it.

--

You now regurgitate a question from John's thread, "On what basis are your opinions and interpretations reliable in a way that mine and all the others who disagree with your human opinions are NOT?"

I've already twice answered the question there: my positions stand on the strength of the arguments behind them, not on tradition or numbers or any megalomaniacal appeal to my own authority.

The important thing is, THIS ISN'T THE SAME QUESTION YOU'VE BEEN ASKING HERE. Your questions about what's knowable and what's provable can be plausibly seen as an extension of your original question about what's objective and what's incontrovertible.

This question about my own positions is not a continuation of what has come before.

You write, "I'm just trying to ask ONE question, it's just that Bubba's dodging and meandering and throwing out so many words that I'm asking it in a variety of ways to try to finally get down to whether or not Bubba is grounded in reality."

I've been answering your questions -- repeatedly and at great length. Your problem obviously isn't with the quality of my answer, but with the simple fact that I reject your position.

You've repeatedly framed your position as objective reality -- all while questioning how I could presume to be so arrogant in holding to my positions! -- and now again, you write that your questions AREN'T about discovering what I believe or even confirming that I understand what you believe.

It's all about coercing me to AGREE with you in order to demonstrate that I'm "grounded in reality."

You're validating the reason I was skeptical about asking a series of related questions rather than exchanging simple, atomized questions.

"I believe our dialogues have long since been played by these sorts of rules: what you object to as an inquisition has often only been a series of questions seeking clarification. And I doubt that these sorts of rules will make it obvious whether we're genuinely engaged in a one-for-one exchange, since -- again -- we often disagree about whether an answer's satisfactory."

I believe that my answers are more than adequate, you say you don't, and so you'll just keep throwing up one question after another, and we'll never get to the point where you cede the floor.

You say, "You can ask your question at any time," but that's not what I asked.

What I asked for was your assurance that you'd answer that question, honestly and promptly.

Craig said...

Dan,

Since I've never demanded anything about my opinion, the answer to your rather bizarre question is, of course not.

Having said that, it seems you are having a problem with the whole 1 for 1 concept which you proposed. In your recent comment, you asked Bubba 7 separate and distinct questions, I actually counted them. Yet, you somehow think that those 7 questions have magically become 1 question.

Anyone with an elementary school reading level can see what's happened in this thread, you can massage it all you want, but it's all right here to see.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, you can answer on topic questions or you can shove off, brother.

Or is this just a place for you to dump and run?

I'm asking the same question, rephrased multiple ways.

I have answered multiple questions of Bubba's and have told him to ask on.

Since you're complaint holds no water, you're just being divisive and argumentative. I'll entertain answers to on topic questions or move on.

Dan Trabue said...

Dodge. Dodge. Dodge.

Dan Trabue said...

Since this answer at John's blog helps illustrate our impasse here with the ONE question I'm asking (albeit, in a dozen different ways), I'll repost it here...

Bubba…

You have always been free to present counter-arguments, to attack any perceived weaknesses in my position and to present the rationale for your position.

I HAVE done so. Repeatedly. Tens of thousands of words over years, Bubba. Have you actually forgotten? Here’s a brief reminder:

Dan: I think gay folk marrying is a great moral good, a blessing to all involved (of course, assuming a healthy marriage, not an abusive one, etc, etc.

Bubba: No, God disagrees.

Dan: I don’t think God would disagree.

Bubba: Bible says so.

Dan: I think that is poor biblical reasoning, and poor rational and moral reasoning.

Bubba: Bible says so. Look at Leviticus.

Dan: Leviticus contains rules written to ancient Israel, as they understood God’s will.

Bubba: No, it was actually God giving them those rules and those same rules (some of them) still apply today.

Dan: I disagree. Clearly, regardless of what you think of God and whether or not God had intentions with those rules, textually, the rules were given specifically to Israel. We don’t obey those rules today, not all of them.

Bubba: But we do the ones that God INTENDED us to obey.

Dan: How do we know which ones God intended? And how do you know that rule was speaking of all gay behavior?

Bubba: Cause we do, people have always thought so.

Dan: That’s not a reason…

And on and on it goes. You hold the opinion that 1. If the Bible is God’s Revelation to humanity, 2. Then God would (in your opinion) make it clear enough to understand, and 3. These handful of texts dealing with some form of gay behavior are 4. In your opinion a condemnation of all gay behavior.

I hold the opinion that 1. The Bible is a book of wisdom about the ways of Grace, 2. That it is not a rule book and we don’t look to the Bible for rules for living (see 1., about grace) 3. That just because ancient people had rules that may or may not sound like a condemnation of all gay behavior does not mean that it is a Rule from God, and that, 4. Clearly, the Bible in its graceful wisdom teaches that those things that are good, loving, pure, lovely, kind, etc… that these ARE good things, and clearly marriage (gay or straight) falls into that category.

Now, given that quick reminder that I HAVE, in fact, pointed out the reasons that I hold my position – as have other people – what makes your opinion more valid than mine? Your answer generally, above, was, “I gots the strongest arguments…” I respond, rationally, by asking, according to whom? ON what basis are your arguments stronger and by what rational, consistent criteria?

THAT is the question that has been dodged, lo, these many years.

Feel free to stop dodging.

Craig said...

So, in addition to having a problem differentiating between asking one question or seven, you also seem confused into thinking that my answer to your question was somehow not an answer. Or are you suggesting that the question I answered was off topic.

Craig said...

That might have been true had I not answered your question.

Dan Trabue said...

My fault, I missed that.


So, just to be clear, then, your answer to:

Do YOU Craig, have any reason to demand that your opinions on topics 1, 2 and 3 (moral topics you are "sure" of, if there are any) are somehow more reliable than mine or Thomas Jefferson's or some other Disagree-er? On what basis?

...is "Of course not."?

If so, then you and I agree. Good to know. You might want to talk to Bubba, Glenn and others who appear to insist that they can not be mistaken on some topics and that their opinions ARE somehow more reliable than mine and anyone who disagrees with them.

Craig said...

Thanks I think I'll pass on telling others what they should do and leave that to you.

Bubba said...

Dan:

I was hoping to have time to reply yesterday, but that didn't pan out. I do have much to say -- all of it substantive, much of it addressing what you now describe as a single multi-faceted question, and very little of it complimentary.

I'll get to my comments as soon as I can, hopefully over the weekend. If it's going to be later than Tuesday, I'll let you know.

Dan Trabue said...

Joy, Bubba. May God grant us wisdom and grace and patience awaiting your opinion.

In the meantime, here is a little reminder I just posted over at John's...

Put another way: You can say...

IF there is a god, and
IF I understand the nature of this god correctly, and
IF, as I believe, that god inspired a holy text, and
IF, as I believe, that text is the 66 books of the Protestant bible, and
IF this text was inspired in the manner that I believe it to have been, and
IF I am correct in thinking that literal morals found in this text are universal morals, and
IF I am understanding those morals correctly, and
IF I am applying my understanding correctly, and
IF this text was intended by this god to be taken a certain way, and
IF I am correct in the way that I am taking it...

IF all of that is correct,

THEN Yes (you can say), my take on homosexuality and war and investment and god's nature are all factually correct.

But to make such a claim, you'd first have to validate all those IFs, and that is what has not happened, yet.

~Dan

Marshall Art said...

First off, in reviewing your self-serving replay of how discussions regarding SSM goes, I see two problems right off the bat.

1. Bubba can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he has not chosen to engage in that particular topic.

2. It is a totally disingenuous misinterpretation of the debate. For example, from the initial dialogue:

"
Dan: I think gay folk marrying is a great moral good, a blessing to all involved (of course, assuming a healthy marriage, not an abusive one, etc, etc.

Bubba: No, God disagrees."


"No, God disagrees." is not how we respond to your immoral position regarding SSM. Our response is that there is no Scriptural support for the notion, that you cannot point to anything in Scripture that does not require a redefinition of its own regarding the words used in any given verse or passage you might provide in support, assuming you would actually ever do so, and that our position contrary to your is based on actual facts regarding what Scripture does in indeed actually say (and we are always ready, willing and eager to provide verses and passages in support of our positions, and when necessary, we actually do so).

Here's more:

"
Bubba: Bible says so.

Dan: I think that is poor biblical reasoning, and poor rational and moral reasoning."


Again, not representative of any actual arguments made by Bubba (or most of us, most of the time--if not always). "Bible says so" is never the be all and end all of our arguments and if ever actually used, never stands alone without follow up evidence in support of the statement. Thus, to argue it is "poor biblical reasoning, and poor rational and moral reasoning" would require that it be our actual argument. It is not, thus your "dialogue" proves a lack of honesty and integrity on your part once again.

And here's yet more:

"Bubba: No, it was actually God giving them those rules and those same rules (some of them) still apply today."

We have been quite clear that we do NOT regard all rules of Leviticus applicable today. What's more, we have provided Scripture evidence of support for why some do and others don't. Haven't had the pleasure of reciprocal graciousness from you. We do get the standard "nuh uh" rebuttal, however.

And yet more:

"
Bubba: But we do the ones that God INTENDED us to obey.

Dan: How do we know which ones God intended? And how do you know that rule was speaking of all gay behavior?

Bubba: Cause we do, people have always thought so.

Dan: That’s not a reason…"


And never a reason ever given, again, not without a follow up explanation as to why it might be so. In the meantime, you have NEVER provided any legitimate, rational, reasonable or factual (based on Scripture's own words) reason to support that God was NOT referring to all homosexual behavior, nor have you ever had the integrity to explain how your favored position does not also allow for any or all of the other prohibited sexual behaviors from the same chapter of Leviticus.

In short, we have done yeoman's work if making our arguments, supporting them with Scripture, as well as providing evidence from any number of sources to support our "opinions", and you merely put forth opinions. Saying that you have spent thousands of words explaining yourself doesn't prove that you have to any reason person's satisfaction.

Marshall Art said...

Moving on, I am having difficulty understanding what Jefferson or Paine have to do with discussions and debates directly related to how YOU arrive at your curious and seemingly baseless positions. As we continue along on the train of thought from my last comment, it seems that your responses in defense against our support and evidence is reduced to the Clinton fallacy of quibbling over the definition of "is" in order to deflect the impact of our supporting arguments.

That is to say, when we provide a verse or passage, we are then made to argue why our "interpretation" of something, evenas simple as "thou shalt not", means what we, based on the words used in the text, say it means. This allows for any interpretation that serves one's own special interest, but does not serve to clarify for others of opposing beliefs why they might want to consider your alternative interpretation. And why you might respond that all are free to believe what they choose to believe, it supposes that freedom to choose is ever at issue in these discussions. At the end of the day, you can believe whatever nonsensical and non-Biblical buffoonery you like. These discussions have always been why you would. What support do you have that suggests truth to your position that is lacking in ours? I have said many times that MY particular purpose in debating on the blogs is both to persuade or be persuaded. We each allege to be concerned with truth and the best possible understanding of a God Who's mind is His own and vastly unlike ours. Thus, to suggest that we intend to force an opinion, as opposed to demonstrating ours is logically, demonstrably and ACTUALLY most likely based on the available evidence, is lying.

You're obviously married to your opinions till death parts you from them and reality smacks your everlasting soul in the face. We're not the least bit married to ours, but greatly unconvinced that you offer anything that a serious person seeking God's Will should or would ever consider as a likely alternative to our current understanding. We get that you feel the same toward ours, but when will you provide the evidence that we should divorce ourselves from them? Will you ever do so without burdening us with scores of "clarifying" questions that only serve to put off your obligation to return volley? (This is why "one-for-one" questioning is proven to be BS. I much prefer that one person do all the inquiring and the other responding until it is finished. This can also be done on two separate blog threads, with one devoted to one person questioning and the other to the other.)

Bubba said...

Dan, you hold your own opinions "on homosexuality and war and investment and god's nature," and you're at least confident enough in your position to smear those who disagree with you: those who believe that God made humanity male and female for complementary, heterosexual marriage, you accuse of being graceless; those who believe that God has the moral authority to take human life when and how He chooses, you accuse of worshipping a whimsical and capricious deity.

Your positions entail just as many premises, and yet I don't see you attempting to prove them.

Nor have I seen you attempt to prove the relevant claim you've made in this very thread: "In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

The claim's own standards imply that, if you cannot prove this claim, you cannot possibly know the claim to be true, and yet you haven't tried to prove the claim despite my repeated requests that you do so.

And, honestly, I don't know why I should be expected to prove the existence of God to someone who claims to believe in God.

--

That exchange where you to presume to remind me of our past arguments is astounding.

For one thing, you've routinely accused others of bearing false witness and the megalomaniacal belief in mind-reading for daring to draw negative conclusions from what you write: you insist on just quoting you verbatim, and even then you will sometimes balk, but here you put words in my mouth that I've never uttered.

You've recently shown that you can't keep track of a conversation for a mere 76 hours, and you now presume to tell me what's being going on, "lo, these many years."

And your summary of my position is so far from the truth that I can only conclude that you were never paying attention in the first place.

My argument regarding the moral impermissiblity of homosexual behavior is based, NOT on Leviticus but on Matthew 19, where Jesus Christ Himself affirmed that God made us male and female so that a man would become one flesh with his wife: I recall that it took an inordinate amount of time just to induce you to parrot that claim, and you still have never drawn even the most obvious relevant conclusion from that claim.

I do believe that some parts of the OT law are directly relevant to NT Christians, and other parts aren't, but my explanation for that belief has NEVER been that we just somehow "know" what applies, and "people have always thought so."

No: in contrasting the Israel-specific dietary regulations with the universal commands regarding sexual morality, I argue from very specific passages in the New Testament.

- Jesus taught that food and ceremonially unclean hands do not defile, but He also affirmed OT sexual ethics, insisting that even mere lustful thoughts are as immoral as actual acts of adultery (Mt 15:10-20, Mt 5:27-28).

- In the concluding chapter's list of moral commands, Hebrews teaches that dietary regulations don't edify but commands that the marriage bed be kept undefiled (Heb 13:9, 13:4).

Jesus taught that not one penstroke of the law would overthrown, and Hebrews taught that His sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the Jewish sacrificial system, which was only a shadow of His sacrificial death: aspects of the OT law that was fulfilled either by Christ's death or by the provision of His Spirit do not directly apply to the church.

I frankly don't see the point in continuing to answer any of your questions if you feel free to so blatantly disregard them for your own delusions of what you evidently wished I had said.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, there is so much mistaken claims in your rant, I don't know where to begin.

Suffice to say that anytime you say, "Dan, you think..." or "have said..." it is almost every time a simple, factual falsity.

There are some exceptions: When you comment on my memory (keeping track of a recent discussion), it is entirely true that I have a bad memory. For that human foible, I apologize, but I'm not sure what I can do about it. Nonetheless, I am sorry I have a bad memory. Of course, that does not mean I'm mistaken about what has gone on "lo, these many years..." Y'all (collectively) HAVE tended to dodge the basic, "On what basis" question, or at best, reverted to, some version of, "it's obvious..." and then proceed to dodge the "obvious to whom...?" question.

As to nearly all the other claims, you are mistaken. More when I get a chance.

But as to the rest of the rant, what's your point? That you disagree with "my" positions (based mostly on false representations of my positions)? Okay, good for you.

Bubba said...

Funny, Dan: you admit to having a bad memory and you apologize for it, but "of course" it doesn't undermine the credibility of your accusations against me. How convenient, to have a "human foible" that doesn't really matter.

It would be nice if you would support your shoddy memory with actual links to where I've said what you think I said -- or where you actually did address, e.g., Stott's arguments regarding Matthew 5, as you claimed you have done.

As it is, you say that my every attribution of your words and positions is "almost every time a simple, factual falsity," but that is false.

I say that your position is, "In order to truly know something authoritatively, definitively, and without error, one must be able to prove their position."

That's no idle speculation on my part, it's a direct quote of what you wrote in this very thread, what you explicilty wrote to be your "position" on September 15th, at 10:52 AM.

Maybe you forgot you wrote that, your poor memory and all, but then humility about your memory would require you not to level false charges against people for quoting you.

--

What's my point in all this? To defend myself from your false accusations. You put words in my mouth that I never uttered, and I have a right to object.

About what I've said "collectively" with others, well, while I've criticized you for the partisan way you've tended to permit personal attacks from people on your side of the discussion, I've never demanded that you defend positions and arguments that you yourself haven't made.

I do believe that some of the Bible's teachings are clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, but I've never defended my position by simply saying "it's obvious."

For instance, my belief in the necessity of the bodily resurrection, I substantiate by appealling to I Cor 15, which teaches that, if Christ wasn't raised, we're dead in our sins and our faith is in vain.

When arguing that Christ's death was merely an example for us and not a substitutionary sacrifice, you quoted 1 Peter 2, but I pointed out that even that passage affirms that Jesus bore our sins on the cross.

My positions have much more solid scriptural support than yours. You can (and do) always fall back on the frivolous question of "who says your interpretation is right?" but you've never even attempted to present a plausible alternative interpretation.

I've never attempted to presume upon some unique authority, I've always appealed to the strength of my argument. I don't see how you can be intellectually honest if you reject that argument without even attempting to present a plausible counter-argument.

--

We've gone very far afield from the original topic of what's objective and the second topic of what's knowable. This third topic of authority, I've more than adequately addressed.

At what point do you cede the floor and give me your assurance that you'll answer my questions clearly, honestly, and promptly?

Dan Trabue said...

I've said for a while now that you can feel free to ask your question. In fact, I've already answered one of your questions that you then "withdrew..." but feel free to ask again.

As to my questions, I don't think you are using "objective" correctly, but just to use other words and try other attempts, I've put it in other words. You do NOT "know" in any provable, obvious to all manner that your opinion about Jesus being raised from the dead.

You say...

my belief in the necessity of the bodily resurrection, I substantiate by appealling to I Cor 15, which teaches that, if Christ wasn't raised, we're dead in our sins and our faith is in vain.


But that is

1. an appeal to a text that not everyone accepts as authoritative and for which you have no proof that it is authoritative and

2. An appeal to a specific interpretation of the text that, again, is not authoritative.

Basically, what you all collectively refuse to acknowledge is that, to the question, "ON what basis...?" you have nothing to rely upon except, "Well, I think it is obvious..."

That is all fine and good if it seems rational to you, but it does NOT "substantiate" the reality of the claim in any provable, objectively clear to all/observable to all manner. It is an appeal to your particular interpretation of a text which you can not speak authoritatively upon. Since you can NOT do so, the question "ON what basis?" must be addressed, not dodged.

Now, having pointing out that still-gaping hole in your argument and hunches that apparently will just go unaddressed, feel free to ask your questions.

Dan Trabue said...

Of course, statements such as this...

My positions have much more solid scriptural support than yours. You can (and do) always fall back on the frivolous question of "who says your interpretation is right?" but you've never even attempted to present a plausible alternative interpretation.

Are objectively, demonstrably false.

You must keep in mind: That, I do not find an explanation plausible does not mean that it is not plausible. OR, if you are going to argue, "Yes, because I find it implausible, it IS implausible," you still have to address the gaping hole question: On whose authority/on what basis?

Bubba...

I don't see how you can be intellectually honest if you reject that argument without even attempting to present a plausible counter-argument.

For example (and to demonstrate how this is a factually false claim), on the homosexuality issue, you point to a handful of scriptures with some appeal to a claim that the authors intended these to represent universal rules for all time and that God endorses those authors in that supposed claim, but you have done nothing to demonstrate that the claim is demonstrably factual.

I, on the other hand, appeal not only to biblical truths such as "Whatsoever things are good, pure, noble, loving, etc, think on these things..." ie, the Truth that innately good things ARE, in fact, Good, and to be encouraged, and that marriage - gay or straight - fits into that category... I not only appeal to that biblical truth, but to the common sense, real world "look at it!" view of saying that of course, encouraging healthy loving marriage relationships is a good, healthy, wonderful place to express one's sexual nature.

As a point of fact, then, I have appealed to both the Bible and to real world moral reasoning to make my case. Thus, I have, in fact, offered a plausible case.

Now, you MAY say, "I don't find it plausible," but you surely realize that you don't get to speak for all people. Just because you don't find it plausible does not mean other people do not factually find it plausible and your hunches implausible.

So, again, if you want to say that your opinions are somehow above reproach or god-like in nature, then you will have to answer, "On what basis?"

You still have not.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

What you refer to as "gaping holes" in our arguments are nothing more than childish "sez who?" retorts. You fool no one with the use of such in place of actual, honest and mature counter arguments.

"...on the homosexuality issue, you point to a handful of scriptures with some appeal to a claim that the authors intended these to represent universal rules for all time and that God endorses those authors in that supposed claim, but you have done nothing to demonstrate that the claim is demonstrably factual."

No, this statement is demonstrably false to the level of an outright lie. I have just recently given factual support of my position on this issue and, as I referenced above, your response is a childish "nuh un" or "sez who?". What's more, I use actual Scripture to support my position, such as the reason given in Leviticus for why homosexual behavior is prohibited. You point to "truths" that are more than a little subjective and not the least bit based upon Scriptural evidence of any kind.

""Whatsoever things are good, pure, noble, loving, etc, think on these things...""

In what possible way is a behavior God calls an abomination any of these things? Because the two engaging in it really, really like each other? You've got to be kidding. More importantly, you ought to be ashamed for daring to make such a weak argument for enabling sinful behavior. No where, ANYWHERE, have you provided anything solid, anything logical or anything that can possibly be referred to as a legitimate argument in favor of your position. Nothing you've ever put forth has any semblance of reason except that you say it does.

The FACT is that you do not appeal to the Bible at all to make your case for this (and other) positions, but only cite that into which you feel you can force meaning. For example, if you want to say that Scripture regards marriage as a good, you MUST provide some legitimate, hard core, demonstrable evidence that by "marriage" Scripture means anything more or less than the union of one man and one woman. But you don't even try. Throughout the whole of human history, "marriage" has never had any other meaning, and certainly never in Scripture. Go ahead. Try and prove me wrong. I dare you. And before you refer to polygamy, keep in mind two things on that score:

1. You must show that polygamy was encouraged rather than tolerated.

2. You must show that polygamy is not more than multiple instances of one man and one woman unions. That is to say, that there is something that demonstrates that the multiple wives are married to each other, and not just each individually to the man.

"I not only appeal to that biblical truth, but to the common sense, real world "look at it!" view of saying that of course, encouraging healthy loving marriage relationships is a good, healthy, wonderful place to express one's sexual nature."

"One's sexual nature"??? This is pro-homosexual psycho babble, not reality. Even Paul speaks of marrying to deal with one's sexual urges, but there again, what possible evidence can you present that he ever thought of marriage as anything other than one man/one woman? You do NOT deal in Biblical truths, you liar. You deal in bastardization of Scriptural teaching. And having done so, you insist you've made your case using Scripture. You're the worst kind of heretic and liar, clothing yourself in false piety in order to provide loopholes through which your morally corrupt peers can squeeze. May God have mercy on you.

Marshall Art said...

I would also point once again to your deceptive muddying of the discussion by constant referrals to opinions and hunches. This is a waste of time and is entirely moot. The issue is defending opinions and providing the evidence to do so. You fail in this regard with regularity and I point to the standing questions regarding your position as indicated in the comment above. That is, your false appeal to truths you twist to accommodate your immoral position. You do not respond to the fact that "marriage" in Scripture has never meant anything more than one man/one woman, and thus cannot legitimately pervert any "truth" to include a definition you prefer. But we know it's your opinion. Saying so doesn't justify holding it.

So once again, "the question "ON what basis?" is a dodge. A most cowardly dodge at that. The worst part of using this dodge is the manner and timing of it. For issues such as the truth of God's existence, or Christ's actual bodily resurrection, no one insists that there is concrete, tangible proof such as photos, video or the like. But what Scripture says is what Scripture says. To insist that some basis for interpreting Scripture must satisfy YOU and anyone else who disputes the plain meaning of words, sentences, verses and passages is ludicrous and childish and not a manifestation of true Christian grace that you insist one must show.

Dan Trabue said...

On whose authority is asking for some authoritative support a "dodge?"

You are claiming to speak for these authors and, by extension, God. You ain't these authors and you ain't God.

So, yes, I will continue to ask the legitimate question: On whose authority is your interpretation the right one?

The dodging is on your part.

Marshall Art said...

It's a stupid question, Dan. It's a cowardly question because it cannot be answered. But the lack of such an authority does not provide you the liberties you take with Scripture. Honest people can look at the words on the page and know what they mean without some unnamed authority dictating what they mean. Words mean things.

From there, honest people can assess with little trouble the meaning of the sentences comprised of those words in the order they appear, without your sought for authority dictating for them.

When someone arises to dispute those honest people, they can argue based on good faith understandings of word meanings and usages to explain and determine why they mean one thing and cannot mean another.

But YOU simply dismiss those good faith and honest appraisals and offer "my opinion" as your default excuse for not providing an equally compelling argument for your unsupportable alternatives. To that you now add the demand for some authority who will allow for what honest people can and will easily determine on their own. You hide behind this angle as you do the "my opinion" dodge. It's deceptive, dishonest and sadly typical.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

It's a cowardly question because it cannot be answered.

That is absolutely false. It CAN be answered, watch: When Marshall appeals to a particular interpretation of a particular passage, he does so based on his own authority. There IS no Authoritative (ie, from the author) source to make any claims as far as perfect knowledge of meaning on these ancient texts. Factually speaking, that IS the factual answer. You appear to agree to this when you say...

But the lack of such an authority does not provide you the liberties you take with Scripture.

Is that, in fact, the answer you are giving? That there IS no "author-ity" you can cite to say, "Yes, Marshall has the right of it..."? Because that is the factual answer. If you are able and willing to give an answer in line with reality, that is a great starting point.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Honest people can look at the words on the page and know what they mean without some unnamed authority dictating what they mean. Words mean things.

Honest people of good will CAN and DO disagree. Yes, you and I look at Jesus' "pluck out your eye" comment and agree that clearly this is not a literal command. At the same time, you and the anabaptists look at the collection of writings on Jesus' peacemaking and sincerely disagree. Neither side can prove authoritatively that theirs is the right answer.

Agreed?

As long as you're agreeing people can and do disagree in good faith over these words, you are in reality. As soon as you disagree, then the onus falls on you to provide SOME authority as to why people HAVE to agree with your view or otherwise, they are not honest or honorable. You can't just throw out a charge like that with no support and be taken seriously.

If you have no authority on which to make such a claim, then you are making an empty, unsupported claim and the Bible (and logic) argue against doing that.

Bubba said...

Dan,

In the real world, at least parts of some verbal communication is unambiguous, clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, and this is true for written communication even when the writer has passed away. If it were clear to everyone that this wasn't the case, no one would write a last will and testament and have any reasonable expectation that his final wishes would be understood after death.

I'm not claiming to speak for the Bible's authors and God who inspired them, as no such claim is needed to recognize that the Bible quite clearly teaches the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus. If any position is presumptuous, it's the position that attempts to muffle these writers and claim that quite literally nothing they wrote is clear beyond good-faith dispute.

On whose authority do I say all this? No one's authority, but no authority is needed to be able to discern that the Bible clearly and unambiguously teaches that God exists.

I'm not going to pretend otherwise.

You know my position, I'm not sure what other questions I could possibly answer to make myself more clear.

About my question...

I'm not just looking for permission to ask my question: I'm asking for your assurance that you will provide a clear, honest, and prompt answer.

You haven't done so yet, and so there's little reason to think you won't repeat yourself with "Hang on, Bubba, not so fast."

You write, "In fact, I've already answered one of your questions that you then 'withdrew...' but feel free to ask again."

But it's simply not true that I "then" withdrew after you answered that question. I initially retracted that question on 8/29, 8:32 am; you answered the question LATER THAT DAY, 8/29, 3:48 pm. The next morning, 8/30, 8:17 am, I only reiterated that I had retracted that question.

The reason I retracted that question was clear: the question was asked under the false impression that you were interested in trading single, atomized questions in a literal "one for one" exchange. When you explained that you reserved the right to ask an innumerable number of clarifying questions, I retracted my question, because I have no intention of wasting my time with preliminaries.

It's been a month now, and more than 100 comments have been written. It's high time that I be given the floor, so again I want your assurance that you'll answer my question promptly, honestly, and clearly.

Bubba said...

Dan, you tell Marshall, "Honest people of good will CAN and DO disagree," but the room to disagree about SOME subjects doesn't imply room to disagree about ALL subjects.

Examples of areas where good-faith disagreement is possible does NOT prove or even suggest that such disagreement is possible everywhere.

--

You write:

"As long as you're agreeing people can and do disagree in good faith over these words, you are in reality. As soon as you disagree, then the onus falls on you to provide SOME authority as to why people HAVE to agree with your view or otherwise, they are not honest or honorable. You can't just throw out a charge like that with no support and be taken seriously.

"If you have no authority on which to make such a claim, then you are making an empty, unsupported claim and the Bible (and logic) argue against doing that.
"

Here's where your inconsistency creeps in: just how in the world do you know that the Bible argues against ANYTHING? Your last sentence implies that you think the Bible does teach some things clearly after all.

--

You also write that we cannot claim that some of the Bible's teachings are clear beyond good-faith disagreement and "be taken seriously" -- but be taken seriously BY WHOM?

Are you presuming to speak for the entire world about who would take us seriously for daring to state the obvious, that the Bible teaches the existence of God and the historicity and Jesus? On whose authority do YOU make THIS claim?

Or are you just saying that YOU PERSONALLY wouldn't take us seriously?

I've known quite literally no one else in my entire life who would think less of me for my position that the Bible clearly teaches theism, and I confess that the prospect of your not taking me seriously doesn't threaten to cause me any sleepless nights.

Either way, your belief that our position makes us ridiculous to yourself or others doesn't detract from the fact that our position is clearly stated and obviously understood.

You're way past the point of trying to understand our beliefs or even explain your opposition to our beliefs: you're just trying to cajole us into pretending that the Bible is unclear even when it's perfectly clear. You're even trying a kind of peer pressure, presuming to speak for some vague group of people who would hold us in less esteem for our position.

Your comments having gone so far, I think it's more than fair to expect you to answer my question.

Dan Trabue said...

I will answer your questions at least as well as you have answered mine.

Note: If you ask me about someone else's opinion, I'm not going to go read a chapter's worth of opinion. If you have a question about a topic we've talked about, ask your question, don't ask me, "do you agree with Mr X's opinions about topic Y..." Ask me your question.

It will be answered, as always, at least as well as you answer my questions.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

just how in the world do you know that the Bible argues against ANYTHING? Your last sentence implies that you think the Bible does teach some things clearly after all.

I hold opinions about how to interpret those words and what they may mean to us today, in MY OPINION.

The difference between me and thee, it seems, is that I am glad to acknowledge my opinions are my opinions, reached in good faith, just as I acknowledge the reality that your opinions are your opinions and I presume you reach them in good faith, as well.

Regardless, they remain personal opinions, not points of fact.

There is no inconsistency in holding opinions and noting that you hold opinions, as well. What WOULD be inconsistent, is for you to say that your opinions are your opinions held in good faith, but others' opinions on some topics, well, no matter what they say, they could not have reached them in good faith.

That would be irrational and perhaps even delusional.

Bubba...

You also write that we cannot claim that some of the Bible's teachings are clear beyond good-faith disagreement and "be taken seriously" -- but be taken seriously BY WHOM?

By me and the many people who would agree with me. Why?

Bubba...

you're just trying to cajole us into pretending that the Bible is unclear even when it's perfectly clear.

Factually speaking, NO. I am not trying to cajole you into "pretending the Bible is unclear..." Read this and understand my ACTUAL position, Bubba:

On the topics we discuss, I do NOT consider the Right opinion to be unclear in the slightest. In understanding the Bible on these topics, I do not think the bible is unclear.

Given the reality that I do NOT think the Bible is unclear, WHY would I try to cajole you into thinking it is?

I think the Bible and reason are clear and I think, in my opinion, you are clearly in the wrong, biblically, morally and rationally.

Understand?

Answer that question please, as I've just corrected your blatant misunderstanding.

Bubba said...

I don't understand, Dan.

You write that, on some subjects at least, you do NOT think the Bible is unclear "in the slightest," but you object to the position that, on some subjects, the Bible is clear beyond any good-faith disagreement.

The only difference I can see, between your position and mine, is my willingness to draw negative conclusions about a person who claimed to dispute the clearest of teachings, including the basic claim of theism.

But obviously drawing negative conclusions about a person is not a problem for you in the general case:

"What WOULD be inconsistent, is for you to say that your opinions are your opinions held in good faith, but others' opinions on some topics, well, no matter what they say, they could not have reached them in good faith.

"That would be irrational and perhaps even delusional.
"

Some otherwise mentally capable adult claims to have studied the Bible in good faith and says the Bible doesn't clearly teach that God exists, and you think I have no room to conclude that he's a liar, but if I do draw that conclusion, you feel quite free to conclude that I'm irrational and/or delusional.

That makes no sense at all, Dan.

--

My question for you isn't about anyone else's opinions, it's about your own motivations, why you do what you do.

About five weeks ago, you wrote the following to the atheist Arkenaten:

"I say that it is a True and Good teaching to live simply, to not shed innocent blood, to live lives of forgiveness, love and grace… ie, the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches."

My question is this:

Why did you completely omit any explicit reference to God in your summary of "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches"?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

You write that, on some subjects at least, you do NOT think the Bible is unclear "in the slightest," but you object to the position that, on some subjects, the Bible is clear beyond any good-faith disagreement.

I don't know how else to say it, Bubba. I hold the opinion that the Bible is abundantly clear on the Christian teachings (teachings of Jesus) about war and peace, on topics like marriage, on simple living. To me, what Jesus taught is obvious.

And yet, at the same time, I recognize that not all people hold the same opinions. Even though I think it is clear, they, too, think it is clear in an opposite sort of way.

And we know this to be a fact because we see it in the real world.

What are you not understanding?

I had said...

"I say that it is a True and Good teaching to live simply, to not shed innocent blood, to live lives of forgiveness, love and grace… ie, the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches."

To which Bubba responds...

My question is this:

Why did you completely omit any explicit reference to God in your summary of "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches"?


In context, look at what I was asked:

If we cant trust some of the bible why must we trust any of it?

To that question, I responded...

"I say that we CAN trust Truths, regardless of where they come from. I say that it is a True and Good teaching to live simply, to not shed innocent blood, to live lives of forgiveness, love and grace… ie, the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches."

An atheist who asked why we should trust any of what the Bible teaches. I respond by replying not with an exhaustive list of what the Bible teaches, but of the gist of the teachings of the Bible that even one who does not find a reason to believe in a god could agree with. These ARE reliable, obvious teachings.

But I never said that they were the totality of biblical teachings. Indeed, earlier in that thread, when asked for "foundational tenets of Christianity," I responded first of all with...

1. God loves everyone and it is God’s desire that no one be “lost” (outside of/beyond love, forgiveness, grace, lost into bitterness, oppression, hatred… “hell…”) and that everyone should be “saved” (part of the Realm of God, loved and loving, forgiven and forgiving, within the realm of Grace… “Heaven…”)

So, you can see I in no way deny God as a central teaching of the Bible (duh), but rather, I was responding to a very specific question from a non-god-believer as to why we should trust any of the Bible.

What's wrong with that? Do you feel a need to criticize any comment/belief that comes from a perceived liberal, just because he is a liberal?

One of the great graces of leaving the more fundamentalist brand of Christianity in favor of a more progressive one is the release from the nitpickiness of the fundamentalists. They just seem so bitterly divisive over so much that I just feel I'm swimming in a river of God's sweet grace these days. Glory Hallelujah.

Dan Trabue said...

So, just to repeat my last question from the last comment, to make sure you are understanding reality:

Do you understand that I am not saying the Bible is unclear on these topics?

========

In that vain, where you say...

Some otherwise mentally capable adult claims to have studied the Bible in good faith and says the Bible doesn't clearly teach that God exists, and you think I have no room to conclude that he's a liar, but if I do draw that conclusion, you feel quite free to conclude that I'm irrational and/or delusional.

That makes no sense at all, Dan.


If Bob and Pete hold entirely different takes on a text - Bob thinking that, while he loves the moral teachings of the Bible, he does not take it as a literal history telling a literally factual story about a God, but is simply stories that people passed on based on their best understandings of Life and the World... and he thinks this in good faith. There's nothing bizarre about it, he just doesn't take the text in the same way as Pete, who holds that the stories in the Bible are more or less a literal history of God and humanity.

There is nothing hard to conceive about such a situation, I'm quite sure it happens all the time, and any disagreements the two have are, on the face of it, entirely plausibly in good faith.

However, to move from saying "I can't conceive how you can take the Bible seriously and at the same time not believe in God..." to "therefore, you do NOT believe it..." is moving into the realm of trying to read other people's minds and motivations, presuming to know their reasoning more than they do. THAT is irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur.

What is hard to understand about that?

Bubba said...

Dan,

Your opposition to the accusation of lying would be a little bit more credible if you hadn't accused Craig of being a liar just three days prior.

Even apart from that, what remains hard to understand is the inconsistency: it was what I criticized last night, and you continued with it in your most recent comment.

You write that the accusation of lying "is moving into the realm of trying to read other people's minds and motivations, presuming to know their reasoning more than they do," but when you describe the accusation as "irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur," you're presuming to know the accuser's reasoning more than he does.

If you abstained from drawing ANY conclusions about my mind, my motivations, and my reasoning, your opposition to the conclusions I draw would at least be consistent, even if I continued to disagree with it. As it is, you don't oppose "mind-reading" on principle; you just reserve that privilege for yourself.

--

The inconsistency isn't limited to your counter-accusation.

My position is that there at least some teachings of the Bible that are clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, and you assert that good-faith disagreement is possible across all possible interpretations.

How's that? You write, "we know this to be a fact because we see it in the real world."

But, in the real world, Dan, a person's motivations and thoughts are hidden from us: we do not "see" that a person is acting in good faith in any case, even if he claims that he's doing so.

You claim to be able to "see" that people act in good faith, you accuse me of irrationality, and you accuse Craig of lying. You don't even try to avoid the supposed evils of drawing conclusions about others' minds and motivations, which you denigrate as "mind-reading" ONLY when others do it.

--

You write:

"If Bob and Pete hold entirely different takes on a text - Bob thinking that, while he loves the moral teachings of the Bible, he does not take it as a literal history telling a literally factual story about a God, but is simply stories that people passed on based on their best understandings of Life and the World... and he thinks this in good faith. There's nothing bizarre about it, he just doesn't take the text in the same way as Pete, who holds that the stories in the Bible are more or less a literal history of God and humanity."

I have consistently emphasized the Bible's teachings of the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus, and you have CONSTANTLY moved away from these clear teachings to other subjects: homosexuality, simple living, pacifism, and here the historicity of the entire sweep of the biblical narrative. If you would stick with the examples I've given, I believe it would be a lot more clear that there are obvious limits to good-faith disagreement.

If, in order to focus on (some subset of) the Bible's moral teachings, Bob concedes that the Bible clearly teaches that Yahweh exists but decides to set aside that teaching because he denies Yahweh's existence, that's at least intellectually honest.

If Bob were instead to claim that the Bible doesn't clearly teach Yahweh's existence, he would not be engaged in a good-faith, intellectually honest reading of the text.

Sorry: the text's meaning isn't actually subject to a literally infinite number of good-faith interpretatations.

Bubba said...

About my question, I understand that you have elsewhere included God in summary statements about Jesus' teachings and even the essential truths of the Bible, but that still doesn't explain why God was absent in what you wrote to Ark.

You now write that you provided him with "the gist of the teachings of the Bible that even one who does not find a reason to believe in a god could agree with," [emphasis mine] and that last phrase isn't unimportant.

If that's what you meant, that's what you should have said: it means something entirely different to say that that list is "the actual gist of what the Bible actually teaches." It suggests that the Bible's most important teachings wouldn't disturb an atheist's denial that God exists.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

It suggests that the Bible's most important teachings wouldn't disturb an atheist's denial that God exists.

sigh.

"Most important teachings" according to whom?

You all continue to appeal to an authority that is synonymous with your own interpretations and opinions. Who gets to say which are the Bible's most important bits? On what basis? The Bible makes no internal ordering of "most important" parts, so why would we?

Bubba...

You write that the accusation of lying "is moving into the realm of trying to read other people's minds and motivations, presuming to know their reasoning more than they do," but when you describe the accusation as "irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur," you're presuming to know the accuser's reasoning more than he does.

Nope, I'm not. I'm saying that the claim, "I know better what he thinks and his motivations than HE does..." is an irrational claim. I'm not guessing what his motivations are or if HE is irrational, I'm speaking specifically of the claim.

Understand the difference, now?

Bubba...

If you abstained from drawing ANY conclusions about my mind... would at least be consistent, even if I continued to disagree with it. As it is, you don't oppose "mind-reading" on principle; you just reserve that privilege for yourself.

See above.

Bubba...

you assert that good-faith disagreement is possible across all possible interpretations.

How's that? You write, "we know this to be a fact because we see it in the real world."

But, in the real world, Dan, a person's motivations and thoughts are hidden from us: we do not "see" that a person is acting in good faith in any case, even if he claims that he's doing so.


Indeed, you COULD be entirely psychotic and mad as a hatter. But I have no reason to suspect that of you. You could be a sociopathic liar, but I have no reason to suspect that of you. Nor you, of me and those like me who merely disagree with your opinions and your approach to the Bible.

Bubba...

You claim to be able to "see" that people act in good faith

No, I don't. You can tell I don't by the way I never made the claim.

Do you understand that, now, and see your mistake?

I'm saying that I have no reason, and YOU have no reason, to suspect someone is not arguing in good faith. Mere disagreement that we don't find reasonable is NOT sufficient reason to suspect ill intent.

Consider a court room with a witness testifying...

Lawyer: Mr Bubba, you say you know that Mr Trabue is lying about his testimony about the text in question. On what do you base this?

Mr Bubba: Well, he disagrees with me and I'm pretty sure that my opinion is rational and his makes no sense to me. No one could POSSIBLY reach that opinion about this text!

Lawyer: On what do you base this? What authority do you have to speak about this text?

B: Well, I really, really love this text and have been reading it for years, as have many people who agree with me on how to interpret it. And ALL of us who agree on how to interpret it can not conceive that anyone in good faith could interpret the text that way!

L: But, are you in a position to speak for the author of the text? Do you have some outside authority that makes your opinion about the text authoritative?

B: Well, no.

L: Do you have some way to prove that your interpretation is the Right one? Or that no one could possibly reach Mr Trabue's opinion?

B: Well, no.

L: So, on what basis and on whose authority do you get to decide that Mr Trabue's position could not be an honest opinion?

B:....

And the judge dismisses the client. Heresay is not trustworthy testimony. Mere unsupported and unsupportable claims do not a case make.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I have consistently emphasized the Bible's teachings of the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus, and you have CONSTANTLY moved away from these clear teachings to other subjects...

My example here WAS about the existence of God. Look at my words...

Bob thinking that, while he loves the moral teachings of the Bible, he does not take it as a literal history telling a literally factual story about a God, but is simply stories that people passed on based on their best understandings of Life and the World... and he thinks this in good faith.

Bob, in my example, does not appear to believe in a God at all. He reads the Bible in good faith and takes it the same way you might take the Epic of Gilgamesh or the book of Mormon. It's a collection of old stories people passed down in older cultures. That he takes it the same way you take these other texts is not to say that he's arguing in bad faith, he just does not take it the way you do.

What is dishonest or "bad faith" about that?

Bubba, continuing...

...homosexuality, simple living, pacifism, and here the historicity of the entire sweep of the biblical narrative. If you would stick with the examples I've given, I believe it would be a lot more clear that there are obvious limits to good-faith disagreement.

I move it to other topics because I don't believe the option you're suggesting so it's easier to make sense of it using some topics I actually believe that you claim I could not possibly hold. Arrogantly. Irrationally.

As a point of fact, I honestly DO hold all those positions. Just to refresh my poor old memory, Bubba, could you clarify: Do you REALLY think that I don't honestly love the Bible? That, loving the Bible, I don't actually hold my positions?

On what basis are you basing this rather ridiculous claim?

Do you think that someone has to take a text the exact same way as you do in order to appreciate its stories and teachings?

Dan Trabue said...

Also, Bubba, could you please clarify:

Do you understand that I am not saying the Bible is unclear on these topics?

As to your concern about me calling out someone for false witness ("you accused Craig of lying..."), I will remind you that I almost always point out that I do NOT know motivations and that, therefore, they could be bearing false witness in error or out of irrationality. As you see in my response to Craig...

You are a liar because you said that I said that “presume that Haitians are too uninformed to know that they shouldn’t drink water they haven’t crapped in…” I corrected you once, already that I was saying ANYTHING about Haitians (you know, back there where I DID NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HAITIANS), eliminating the possibility that you just had tragically misunderstood something I said. Instead, you repeated the falsehood. So, it is CLEARLY a false witness and since I had corrected you, it appears to be a blatant lie.

If someone says something that IS a false witness, and that mistake is corrected (giving them the benefit of the doubt that the false witness was in error or from ignorance), then it becomes much more likely that they are not merely mistaken (again, the error had already been corrected) but a lie, but even then, you can see that it appears to be a lie.

As always, you all could be ignorant, unable to sort words, delusional or just tragically mistaken when you make these false claims. The point is that they ARE false claims and thou shalt not, you know?

Bubba said...

Dan, you've just now written, "I in no way deny God as a central teaching of the Bible (duh)," but now you bitch and moan about my writing about the Bible's "most important teachings."

Is it somehow permissible to describe the Bible's "central" teachings but NOT its "most important" teachings -- or did I miss where you answered a version of your own question and explained, central to whom?

--

You say that you were referring to a particular claim as irrational and not the person holding that claim -- because, I guess you think perfectly rational people can have irrational claims -- but you wrote that "THAT" is "irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur."

Since claims are inanimate objects incapable of holding delusions of grandeur, perhaps you could understand why I didn't conclude that you must have been discussing claims WHOLLY apart from those who held those claims.

And, about that earlier comment of yours, a clarification:

"However, to move from saying 'I can't conceive how you can take the Bible seriously and at the same time not believe in God...' to 'therefore, you do NOT believe it...' is moving into the realm of trying to read other people's minds and motivations, presuming to know their reasoning more than they do. THAT is irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur." [emphasis mine]

That phrase in bold, isn't my position: you can tell by the way I never made that claim.

I don't conclude that a person is dishonest if he says he takes the Bible seriously but does not PERSONALLY believe in God. What I believe is dishonest would be the claim to take the Bible seriously while denying that the Bible teaches theism.

I cannot be more clear about this.

--

You assume how I would approach works like the the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Mormon, but your assumption is at least partially off-base, since there's no evidence that the latter is anything more than the fraudulent fabrication of a single individual rather than "a collection of old stories people passed down in older cultures."

To make your analogy fit what I reject as intellectually dishonest, I would have to mangle these books' clear teachings to fit my own theology. I don't, so the comparison isn't apt.

--

About the courtroom hypothetical -- where once again you show how eager you are to put words into my mouth -- I don't believe that a person should be indicted or sued for libel for making the transparently dishonest claim that the Bible doesn't teach theism, and obviously people do AND SHOULD FEEL FREE to make claims that wouldn't hold up in court.

Your hypothetical lawyer asks, "Do you have some way to prove that your interpretation is the Right one? Or that no one could possibly reach Mr Trabue's opinion?"

Those are two separate questions, and even being able to speak authoritatively about what an author intended to mean with a particular text tells us nothing about whether others could "possibly" reach a different opinion, right?

And yet, you didn't hesitate to accuse Craig of being a liar for reaching conclusions from your writing with which you disagree.

About Craig, you now write:

"As always, you all could be ignorant, unable to sort words, delusional or just tragically mistaken when you make these false claims. The point is that they ARE false claims and thou shalt not, you know?"

If that was the point, then you should have left it at "these claims are false" and not speculated about Craig's inner thoughts -- that is, if you wish to live by the standards you are attempting to impose on others.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Is it somehow permissible to describe the Bible's "central" teachings but NOT its "most important" teachings -- or did I miss where you answered a version of your own question and explained, central to whom?

Are you failing to understand that I'm speaking specifically of my opinions? Are you failing to understand that I've never said that I don't think "GOD" is a central theme of the Bible?

So, the answer to my own question, "God is a central theme of the Bible according to WHOM?" is, "That is my take on the Bible..."

Which is different than yours, which says that no one can take it possibly in another way in good faith. You are appealing to some authority. On what authority do you make that sort of charge?

I'm being quite clear I'm speaking only of my opinion. You?

Bubba...

because, I guess you think perfectly rational people can have irrational claims -- but you wrote that "THAT" is "irrational, perhaps to the degree of holding delusions of grandeur."

Yes. THAT claim is irrational. And yes, rational people hold irrational positions all the time. Most people are rational, I would suggest, at least to a large degree. But not every claim we make is a rational one.

Do you disagree?

Bubba...

Since claims are inanimate objects incapable of holding delusions of grandeur, perhaps you could understand why I didn't conclude that you must have been discussing claims WHOLLY apart from those who held those claims.

Oh, I see. Fair point. Clearly, though, my diagnosis of delusional is just an unsupported hunch based on irrational behavior, not a definitive opinion.

When someone makes irrational, unsupported claims, repeatedly, even after being corrected, and still hold that they know better than the person making the statement what they mean/think/what motivation they have, that irrational claim SEEMS to me to be pointing to perhaps other problems, but I do not know that, to be sure. I thought it was clear that I'm offering an unprofessional opinion... now it is. Still, I'm not guessing as to their motivations or saying I know their motivations are of ill-intent. I'm questioning their grasp on reality. Not quite the same thing.

Bubba...

What I believe is dishonest would be the claim to take the Bible seriously while denying that the Bible teaches theism.


Okay, and on what authority do you say to the atheist, "I do not think the Bible is 'teaching theism.' I think it speaks of a god, as people back then understood god. These stories and morals, then, are a reflection of what those people thought about god, not 'teaching of theism...' That is, it's not teaching that we should believe in god, it's teaching that THEY believed in a god..."

On what basis do you charge that he is not reading the Bible in good faith? On whose authority?

As an aside: Here is why I would prefer to speak about topics I actually believe. I can not speak with any authority why someone in good faith would say the Bible doesn't "teach theism," since I don't believe it myself. I don't KNOW why someone might argue that. I DO know why I would argue MY points that you reject as "impossible to hold in good faith..."

For that reason, henceforth, I'll be using examples that apply to me so I can speak authoritatively (I, knowing what I think) rather than guess at someone unknown's motives/views.

Bubba said...

Dan, about your question, "Do you understand that I am not saying the Bible is unclear on these topics?"

I'm not sure what you mean by "these" topics. You introduced the question earlier by saying, "So, just to repeat my last question from the last comment, to make sure you are understanding reality:"

But I didn't see that question in your previous comment OR ANYWHERE ELSE. The "last question" in your previous comment was about whether I "feel a need" to criticize you because you're a liberal, the sort of self-serving insinuation against my character that isn't a great indication of sweet grace.

Maybe your question got lost in a draft, in which case, you should try to reconstruct the context so I know what you're talking about.

And maybe you should lay off the barrage of questions a half-dozen at a time. Maybe if we had asked questions in a literal one-for-one exchange, the questions you really want answered wouldn't have been lost in the shuffle.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, could you please clarify:

Do you understand that I am not saying the Bible is unclear on these topics?

Dan Trabue said...

Sorry, I posted the last before you answered.

"These topics" being "these topics that you and I disagree upon..."

As in the context of this exchange:

Bubba: you're just trying to cajole us into pretending that the Bible is unclear even when it's perfectly clear.

Factually speaking, NO. I am not trying to cajole you into "pretending the Bible is unclear..." Read this and understand my ACTUAL position, Bubba:

...ON THESE TOPICS WE OFTEN DISCUSS, I do NOT consider the Right opinion to be unclear in the slightest. In understanding the Bible on these topics, I do not think the bible is unclear.


"These topics we often discuss."

Marriage equity. Biblical interpretation. War/Peace. Poverty/Wealth.

YOU made the (false) charge that I was trying to "cajole" you into "pretending the Bible is not clear..." presumably on THESE TOPICS WE DISCUSS.

Understand now?

Bubba said...

You presume wrong, Dan, since my focus hasn't been those topics of pacifism, sexuality, and the like, but the two doctrines I've repeatedly mentioned: the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

My writing that you're cajoling was in response to this::

"As long as you're agreeing people can and do disagree in good faith over these words, you are in reality. As soon as you disagree, then the onus falls on you to provide SOME authority as to why people HAVE to agree with your view or otherwise, they are not honest or honorable. You can't just throw out a charge like that with no support and be taken seriously."

I asked, be taken seriously by whom? Your uniformative reply, "By me and the many people who would agree with me."

Since I've never encountered a single person who would agree with you, I'm not bothered by the prospect of not being taken seriously by phantoms, and -- again -- not being taken seriously by you doesn't trouble me in the least.

But your point is, absent some documentation of authority, I cannot possibly claim that the Bible is clear on any subject -- at least, clear enough to preclude any possible good-faith disagreement.

In which case, I don't know what you mean when you say that the Bible is clear, or, more precisely, when you say that you don't think the Bible's unclear.

Maybe we're back to this divide between us: I think that the meaning of a written communication is objective, and you don't.

When I say that the Bible is clear on a certain point -- the most obvious being the doctrine of theism -- I mean that it's OBJECTIVELY clear, and so conclusions CAN be drawn about other interpretations, namely, that no other interpretations can be reached in good faith.

But when you say that the Bible is clear, you ONLY mean that you think it's clear "to you" and therefore no conclusions can be drawn about what other interpretations people might reach in good faith.

In which case, the claim tells us nothing about the text, JUST about you the reader, that you stumbled upon this interpretation and cannot see how you would stumble upon any other interpretation. But since that couldn't be generalized to other people, I would hope that you would be intellectually honest enough never to bring up your subjective experience as if it ought to have any weight with anyone else.

If I'm right about the distinction we're making, then -- even in this discussion -- your assurance that you find the Bible to be clear doesn't add anything substantive.

On the contrary, the statement is arguably misleading because it implies a kind of common ground between us about the text -- we both think it's clear! -- when you really are just telling me about your experience as a reader.

Dan Trabue said...

I. Bubba...

your point is, absent some documentation of authority, I cannot possibly claim that the Bible is clear on any subject -- at least, clear enough to preclude any possible good-faith disagreement.

My point (read closely) is NOT that you cannot claim the Bible isn't clear on any subjects.

DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND. THAT. MUCH?

I think the Bible is clear on many topics, including most the subjects we speak about, so clearly, I DO think the Bible is clear.

======

II. Moving on, then...

your point is, absent some documentation of authority, I cannot possibly claim that the Bible is clear on any subject -- at least, clear enough to preclude any possible good-faith disagreement.

I'm stating the obvious: People DO disagree in good faith on all these topics. We have NO evidence that anyone who disagrees does so in bad faith, or at least not in any of our discussions. ZERO evidence.

Do you have evidence that anyone in any of our conversations is arguing in bad faith? IF so, present it. If not, admit it and move on.

The answer, absent any support from you, is NO, you have NO evidence to support a claim of "bad faith."

What you have is an unsupported [NOTE IT: UNsupported, that is vital] claim that SOME interpretations (which ones? Says who? On what basis????) are "obviously" not able to be reached in good faith.

You'd have to present some evidence that it never happens to support your argument. Otherwise, on what basis would I or anyone accept such a vague, dubious and unsupported claim?

ON WHAT BASIS? That is where you always fail, Bubba.

=======

III. Bubba...

Maybe we're back to this divide between us: I think that the meaning of a written communication is objective, and you don't.

But you've defined "objective" to mean that the person who says A is making an objective claim and the person who claims NOT A is also making an objective claim.

IF we're using that approach to objective, then sure, your claims are objective and my opposite claims are objective. What of it? What does that mean to you, Bubba?

They are not provable, you can not demonstrate that your claim is the right one, NOR can you demonstrate that someone else's opinion is not only not the right one, but that they can't even HOLD that opinion in good faith?

On what basis?

======

IV. Bubba...

When I say that the Bible is clear on a certain point -- the most obvious being the doctrine of theism -- I mean that it's OBJECTIVELY clear,

Seriously, what do you even mean by this? Bob claims that the Bible does not argue that God is real. THAT is an objective claim, in your approach to it. Is it also an objectively CLEAR claim? It would seem so.

Ralph claims that the Bible insists that God IS real. THAT, too, is an objective claim. Is it an objectively clear claim?

If so, then what does it mean to you that these opposite claims are "objectively clear..."? OR, if you want to claim that one claim is "objectively clear" but the other isn't, on what basis do you make the claim?

======

V. Bubba...

when you say that the Bible is clear, you ONLY mean that you think it's clear "to you" and therefore no conclusions can be drawn about what other interpretations people might reach in good faith.

What conclusions CAN we reach about others' motivations based on how they interpret? How can we "know" that conclusion is valid, not simply swamp gas?

Okay, I'm going to stop there. Your commentary is so questionable, there is so much wrong to unpack, that it does become hard to wade through it all.

Feel free to clarify the mysteries of what you're trying to say.

Feel free to provide SOMETHING that says, "On THIS basis, I can 'know' I'm right..."

I'll wait. I broke it down into chapters to perhaps help.

Bubba said...

Dan.

I. I have no idea what you mean by saying, "I think the Bible is clear on many topics," when you deny that the Bible is clear enough to preclude good-faith disagreement.

--

II. You write:

"I'm stating the obvious: People DO disagree in good faith on all these topics."

It is NOT obvious, and your claim that it's "obvious" is at least us unsupported [NOTE IT: UNsupported, that is vital] as anything I've stated is obvious.

For instance, it is not obvious that a person can claim, IN GOOD FAITH, that the Bible does not teach theism.

--

III. The word "objective" is not and has never been synonymous with provable or incontrovertible: when I write that a claim regarding a text's meaning is objective, I mean that the claim describes the text, not the reader's subjective feelings. The claim could describe the text correctly OR incorrectly, but an objective claim is not necessarily a true claim.

"Louisville is the capital of Kentucky" is an objective claim that happens to be false.

"I find mushrooms to taste terrible" is a subjective claim that also happens to be false, as I love mushrooms.

"The Bible teaches that Jesus was an axe murderer" is an objective claim that is false, but it's still objective.

"The Bible's description of God is awe-inspiring" is true for me and would be evidently false for Richard Dawkins, but even when it's true, it's still subjective.

--

IV. I don't just mean that Bob and Ralph's claims are objectively clear: what I mean is that, on at least SOME subjects, the Bible is itself objectively clear.

The Bible does clearly teach the existence of Yahweh.

--

V. The conclusions that one can draw from a person's interpretation depends heavily on the contents of that interpretation and the contents of the text.

Bubba said...

Dan, we're getting nowhere fast, so I'm going to wrap up.

In moving away from our contentious disagreements to the doctrines of God's existence and Jesus' historicity, I attempted to make the case for a general position -- that one can sometimes conclude an interpretation was reached in bad faith -- by picking out the most obvious examples.

The Bible clearly teaches the existence of Yahweh and the historicity of Jesus, and it teaches these doctrines so clearly that an otherwise capable adult could not reach any other conclusion ABOUT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES -- *NOT* about whether the Bible is to be believed -- and do so in good faith.

In short:

- The Bible teaches that God exists.

- If a person says he studied the Bible in good faith and he thinks that the Bible does NOT teach that God exists, he's obviously lying.

This isn't a remotely controversial position. In the general case I do not believe that a claim must be prove-able to be know-able, but in this particular case, the Bible really does speak for itself. Its contents are more than clear enough.

That you find this position questionable and even objectionable is astonishing: it's your problem, not mine, and I've wasted enough time trying to explain the obvious to the obtuse.

The only other thing worth saying about your opposition to the obvious is that it's perilous.

No matter how much your stated beliefs happen to fall within the boundaries of orthodoxy, your arguments over the years betray a zealotry against defending those boundaries.

Time and again, your arguments boil down to those infamous questions: What is truth? And did God really say that?

MOST CERTAINLY, Christians should not be dogmatic about what the Bible does not clearly teach, but the Bible *IS* clear on quite a few subjects, and where it is clear, Christians can be AND MUST BE dogmatic.

In being dogmatic on what the Bible clearly teaches, we're not presuming to speak for God or His prophets and apostles: we're preserving what they've already quite clearly communicated. We're defending the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

I believe that your consistent and maddening effort to undermine that defense is nothing less than an assault on the gospel of Christ.

For that you should be repudiated, but I'm long past the point where I should be trying to correct you where you're positively unteachable. It's not good for you, me, or anyone else.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

it is not obvious that a person can claim, IN GOOD FAITH, that the Bible does not teach theism.

It is not obvious TO WHOM?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

"I think the Bible is clear on many topics," when you deny that the Bible is clear enough to preclude good-faith disagreement.

I mean just what I said. I think it is clear. Starting with Gen 1:1, clearly, the text is written in a mythic, figurative style. When I say that, I mean that to many people without a bias to consider the text a certain way, it is clearly written in a mythic style. If you read another text with the same sort of words, you would call it a mythic, figurative style of writing, I believe.

But, just because I and many people think it is clear (and it truly, truly is clear) does not mean that people do not disagree and do so in good faith.

What is hard to understand about this?

Bubba...

your claim that it's "obvious" is at least us unsupported [NOTE IT: UNsupported, that is vital] as anything I've stated is obvious.

So, clearly, the things that are obvious to you and those who agree with you ARE obvious to you. Similarly, the things that are obvious to me and those who agree, are obvious to us. That is my point. Neither of us have any authority to say that OUR "obvious" is the right one.

Do you have ANY thing -anything authoritative, definitive - that makes your "obvious" the right one?

No.