I'm lifting up a question/response between Marshall and me from an earlier post to its own post because I think this is a very good point and gets to the heart of some disagreements I have with gentlemen like Marshall and other conservatives. It has to do with whether or not conservatives “know” as a “fact” that God opposes something as, on the face of it, moral and healthy and loving as a marriage between two guys or gals. Of course, Marshall thinks he does know it as a “fact” because of some lines in the Bible that, to him, are “obviously” saying that, yes, God would not approve.
Now, we are both/all clear that there is not a single line in the Bible that says “God would disapprove of marriage between homosexuals in the context of the 21st century world and the sex that would presumably occur therein...” That is, of course, not in the Bible. At all.
No, what is there are verses like rules given directly and specifically to ancient Israel like “men should not lie with men, if they do, kill them...” in Leviticus (two places in Leviticus... in one place it does not include the command “kill them...”). AND, if one holds the presumption that there really is a God and that this God really did communicate with humans and gave them a Bible and in that Bible, there were commands that were universal rules for what humans should and should not do, one could begin to make a reasonable case that this kind of rule really sounds like it's condemning all gay behavior (not at all an airtight case – at all! - but at least a reasonable case). However, there are all sorts of presumptions that have to be held in place before you could accept that as a reasonable argument.
At any rate, Marshall and folk like him thing they can “know” God's opinion of guys marrying and “know” it as a “fact,” not just a theory or a guess or a hunch. Of course, I respond by saying that no, it's not a fact, it's a subjective opinion based upon a fallible human interpretation of an ancient text. It could be a fact or it could be mistaken, but it is not demonstrably a fact nor does Marshall “know” it as a point of fact.
Marshall continually disagrees (demonstrating, I believe, that he does not understand what a demonstrable fact is). To try to find a way to communicate with Marshall on this point, I asked him this question:
There's a fella who says, "I KNOW that God wants us to cut off the hands of thieves. This is a fact about God because the Koran has a line that says that and I interpret that to mean what it clearly means - that in any and all circumstances and cultures, what God wants is for people to cut the hands off of thieves..."
Is that "hard data..."?
If not, why not?
Is that "hard data..."?
If not, why not?
Marshall's response was...
“In any case, unlike some, I do not believe the muslim god is God. Therefore, I don't need to argue against what the koran says...”
1. He didn't directly answer my question (“is that hard data?” - the answer is, of course, No. Presumably, Marshall agrees.)
2. His response, instead was, “I do not believe the muslim god is God. Therefore, I don't need to argue against what the koran says..."
Now, setting aside the fact that he didn't answer my question directly (and that, presumably, he agrees with me that it is not a fact), he is arguing (correct me if I'm mistaken) that he does not even need to argue against the point made by the fictional Koran-believer because he does not share the presumptions of this man.
That is, the Koran believer (in this case) held some presumptions - that there is an Allah/God, that God wanted to communicate God's will in a holy text, that this holy text perfectly records what God wanted, that the holy text was written in such a way as to communicate God's rules for humanity, that these rules were universal, etc - and since Marshall does not share those presumptions, he doesn't even care to argue the point.
It's not actually a completely bad point that Marshall has made.
Like Marshall and this fictional Koran believer, I do not share Marshall's presumptions (at least some of them) regarding the Bible and how Marshall thinks it should be treated/read. So, I am wondering: Is Marshall making the case that I - like him in regards to my question - do not need to argue against Marshall's points because I - like him - do not hold the same presumptions that he does?
I also wonder, does Marshall agree that the fella saying "the Koran says it, therefore I 'know' it is a 'fact' that God wants us to cut off thieves hands" does not make it a fact? It just isn't and the reason it isn't is that the fella can't demonstrate it with hard data that can be substantiated.
Facts are data that can be tested, weighed, measured, considered, seen. One person's assumptions about how the Bible (or Koran) should be interpreted can't be weighed to see if it is "right." It is, like the Koran-believer, an unsupported and unproven and unprovable opinion.
Just as a point of fact in the real world. I wonder if, given this analogy and some time to consider it and his own answer to it, that Marshall (and others like him) can see that now?