Monday, July 11, 2016

Partially Perfect Knowledge Theory



As I have said, I'm really to the point where I'd really like to spend most of my time on this blog reflecting on nature and this beautiful creation - human and otherwise - and living simply and lovingly within it. But I am still fascinated with rational problem solving and considering reasonable questions about apparently hard to settle issues. So, in that spirit, not in the sense of wanting to disagree with anyone and certainly not argue with anyone, but just to consider some reasonable questions...

In a recent conversation with Bubba, he was speaking of the ability to know some things perfectly and he was offering his idea of what he thought my position was. Specifically, we're speaking of ideas of morality and scriptural interpretations that we can't prove demonstrably and objectively.

Bubba and I were having this conversation about the idea of having what I termed "partially perfect knowledge." Bubba preferred calling it Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope, which he defined as follows...

- Absolute Confidence, Comprehensive Scope (ACCS). "A person can be absolutely confident about ALL proposition."

- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

I reject the first but affirm the second. It seems you reject both -- and it seems you're ABSOLUTELY confident that ACLS is false, and **THAT** is what is incoherent, that a person can be absolutely confident that absolute confidence is impossible for ALL propositions.


I am fine with Bubba's definition and framing, with the reminder that we're speaking about unprovable ideas, morals, theologies... and specifically about biblical interpretations.

And Bubba is correct that I reject both theories. The thing is, I reject both for the same set of reasons, which can be explained by considering the following questions:

ACCS

1. On  what bases would we presume we have ACCS? We don't, it's a rather delusional suggestion, we probably all agree.

2. Has God told us this? No. God simply hasn't.

3. Has the Bible told us this? No, it hasn't... and even if it did literally say that, on what basis would someone who is not a biblical literalist take the claim from the Bible at a literal face value?

4. Do some people INTERPRET the Bible in such a way that they, personally, are convinced that this is what God wants us to think? Perhaps, but so what? On what bases would we listen to these people? 

I can think of no reason, presumably, Bubba would agree.

5. Does reason insist upon it? No, clearly it doesn't. Reason would say that if it can't be objectively and demonstrably proven as a fact, then we can't have complete confidence in all given propositions.

I believe Bubba would recognize this when we expand it out to ALL propositions, but how are the  answers different for having complete confidence in SOME propositions?

ACLS

Okay, so let's just look at ACLS and the rational problems we have, considering some more questions that the view begs.

5. IF there are SOME ideas, morals and theologies that we can be known with perfect or absolute confidence, which ones are they?

6. That is, can we know with complete confidence that slavery, rape, forced marriages, polygamy, drunk driving, deliberately killing children in wartime, smoking pot, buying baseball cards... are always wrong in all circumstances? And which items are and are not on this List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas?

[NOTE: I would suggest that for those of us who say that, at the least, Harm to Innocents is a fairly perfect, if not totally perfect, guideline for those who accept that measure... Saying it is always wrong to cause harm to innocents because it is a denying of basic human rights would preclude at least most of these actions... For the biblical literalist, it seems to me that there is at least the caveat that these actions are not always wrong, because God might command you to do them sometimes (since God literally did in the Bible at times, if you're taking it as literal history), and God wouldn't command you to do something that is inherently wrong... That's how it seems to me, feel free to correct me, anyone. But that is sort of an aside.]

7. The reason why the notion of knowing The List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas is important, because, if you don't have an authoritative list and Joe believes IDEA 1 is one of these things, on what bases do we conclude that Joe's IDEA 1 is an entirely reliable belief? Says who? On what authority? How does Joe know that the idea that he's got an opinion on is one of the ideas that we can know perfectly? Because he knows it perfectly? Says who? It's circular reasoning, is it not?

Or, if Joe thinks IDEA 1 is on The List, but Janet is sure that it's not, but IDEA 2 IS on the list, who decides? Where is the authority to make that decision?

8. If there is no List, then on what bases can we individually make the call on IDEA 1, 2, 3... 120,245? Is it every person for themselves? How is that authoritative and reliable?

Do you see the problem I'm having? I don't see how you can appeal to any given unprovable idea as "THIS is ACLS! THIS we can know with perfect assurance, 100%! with our partially perfect knowledge!"...unless you have an authoritative Source that can tell us definitively, Yes, it's on the List, or Yes, that opinion/interpretation/idea can't possibly be wrong. It is as a fact.

Is "Genesis is written more figuratively..." one of the ideas?
Is "Genesis is written as literal history one..." one of the ideas?

Says who? On whose/what authority can we say objectively and with Absolute Confidence one idea or the other or neither is absolutely right?

I mean, I think that there is observable data and science that insists that Genesis, at the least, can't be taken as totally literal history, that the earth was not created in six days, 6,000 years ago, that the world didn't flood, that language diversification didn't happen on one day... that based on evidence, we can discount that... but I think Bubba might disagree with even what seems like to be incontrovertible data... so Bubba would/might say that this is NOT one of the issues that is ACLS... or that it IS one and Bubba's opinion on it is the conclusion we can know with absolute confidence.

On what bases? Says who? What are you appealing to as an authority?

That (perhaps as you know) is the on-going problem I'm having with what Bubba is suggesting... I just don't see how it can be explained and defended objectively.

Unfortunately, I don't feel I'm covering this as comprehensively as I'd like, but I'll leave that there for now and see if anyone would like to offer their respectful opinions.

Thank you so much.

217 comments:

1 – 200 of 217   Newer›   Newest»
Dan Trabue said...

To deal with Bubba's question/dilemma in my quote...

I reject the first but affirm the second. It seems you reject both -- and it seems you're ABSOLUTELY confident that ACLS is false, and **THAT** is what is incoherent, that a person can be absolutely confident that absolute confidence is impossible for ALL propositions.

I am not saying "with absolute confidence that ACLS is false..." I'm saying, "I don't see how it is rationally possible. I'm entirely fine with the idea that someone COULD show me why it is rationally possible, but I don't see how it is and so, until such time as someone demonstrates HOW we can know unprovable ideas with perfect confidence - answering these questions that are begged that I've shared, then I simply can't accept that as a rational theory."

See the difference?

Craig said...

Would it be reasonably safe if one concluded that you believe that there is little or nothing that can be objectively known with absolute confidence?

Bubba said...

Dan, there are unstated but self-defeating assumptions in your arguments.

First, in order to reject ACCS and ACLS, logically you must affirm the only alternative remaining:

- Absolute Confidence, Zero Scope (ACZS). "A person can be absolutely confident about NO propositions."

But that raises the obvious question, are you absolutely confident in affirming ACZS? If you are, then you're saying that a person **CAN** be absolutely confident about something, which contradicts the claim: it's saying, a person can be absolutely confident that he can't be absolutely confident about anything! If you aren't, then you're not really denying ACLS, you're only tentatively rejecting a position about which someone else might really have well-founded confidence in affirming.

Second, you state:

"Reason would say that if it can't be objectively and demonstrably proven as a fact, then we can't have complete confidence in all given propositions."

This a variation of your more general position that a claim must be "objectively and demonstrably proven" to be accepted as fact, but you present this position as factual without objectively and demonstrably proving it. You don't do it, and it's obvious it can't be done; you not only do not try to do it, it apparently doesn't even occur to you that you should.

No, you just glibly speak for Reason, with a degree of presumption that I doubt you would accept from anyone who claimed to speak for God.

Third, in your follow-up comment, you ask for someone to "demonstrate[] HOW we can know unprovable ideas with perfect confidence," but here you conflate was is provable and what is knowable. Indeed, no one can prove what is unprovable, but that DOES NOT mean that one cannot KNOW what is unprovable.

You apparently disagree, you apparently believe that something must be provable in order to be knowable -- but you don't attempt to prove this.

The contradictions in your position become obvious with only a moment's thought.

[continued]

Anonymous said...

Yes! We can know with absolute confidence that which we can see, measure, and confirm, objectively.

But those things that are not demonstrable, I do not know how we can say we can have "absolute confidence" or that we know these things perfectly.

I think we can know some unprovable matters with sufficient confidence, with reasonable confidence, with a strong confidence... just, I don't see how we can reasonably say we can with absolute and perfect confidence.

I think we can know with sufficient confidence that we should cause no harm to innocent people and thus, that we should not rape or kill or otherwise harm children or innocent bystanders, for instance.

I believe you, along with Bubba, believe you can "know" some unprovable beliefs with absolute and perfect confidence, and on those matters, you can not be mistaken because you "know" them perfectly. My question would be, on what reasonable bases would you make such a claim? I just don't see how that's rationally sound.

And here, let's limit it to "perfect knowledge" as it relates to interpretations of what God thinks about specific biblical interpretations, as that is the main area where we probably disagree.

Thanks,

Dan

Bubba said...

[continued]

The question about authority actually strikes me as something of a digression: if a town local was over 8 feet tall, it would be nice to have governing body like the Guinness World Records to confirm that he's the tallest man alive, but you wouldn't need some official authority to certify that he's taller than you, his wife of average height, or his toddler.

If something's obvious, one doesn't need a ruling from some official authority: hence the word, "obvious."

Ultimately, I believe we *WILL* face the supreme Authority on all things: I serve a God who is not only omniscient but whose revealed name affirms His being the ground of all reality, and whose Son not only claimed to know the truth, but to be the truth.

We will be accountable to God for our choices, and so we have a solemn responsibility to take those choices seriously. We should not presume to declare with absolute confidence what we don't know to be true, but -- AT THE SAME TIME -- we should not pretend that the obvious truth is unclear.

We have a responsibility to be careful and intellectually honest.

We have a responsibility to be charitable with the conclusions that we draw, whenever possible.

And we have the freedom -- and arguably the responsibility -- to criticize behavior for which the benefit of the doubt can no longer be plausibly extended, when it appears obvious that a person isn't acting in good faith.

And then what? What happens when two people honestly disagree about the clarity of the Bible asserting a young-Earth creation? Well, they have the freedom to "compare notes," the responsibility to accept where the arguments lead, and the freedom to be intellectually dishonest if they so choose.

And what happens when, for instance, a professing Christian doubts the sincerity of your profession of faith and expresses that doubt? YOU DEAL WITH IT, both of you do -- he accepts the fact that you cannot be compelled to agree with his assessment, and you accept the fact that he cannot be compelled to change his mind.

--

On the subject of arguing in good faith, a concept you reject should be addressed in its strongest form, not in some weaker form. I'm not arguing about young-Earth creationism, I'm arguing about the simplest claims of theism and the historicity of the Resurrection.

- I'm not talking about any attributes about God other than His existence: not monotheism, much less Trinitarian monotheism, just simple theism, "God exists."

- I'm not talking about the results of the Resurrection or even its necessity -- eg, Paul's claim that our faith is in vain without it -- just the fact of it, "Jesus rose bodily from the grave."

- And I'm not talking about the CORRECTNESS of these claims, just the CLARITY of these claims: the Bible makes these claims regardless of whether they correspond with reality.

"The Bible teaches that God exists, and it does so beyond ANY reasonable doubt and ANY good-faith disagreement."

"The Bible teaches that Jesus rose bodily from the grave, and it does so beyond ANY reasonable doubt and ANY good-faith disagreement."

These claims are OBVIOUSLY true, Dan, and the opposite claims are clearly specious:

"The Bible DOES NOT teach that God exists, at least not beyond ANY reasonable doubt and ANY good-faith disagreement."

That's obvious nonsense, and it needs not be entertained.

Anonymous said...

that raises the obvious question, are you absolutely confident in affirming ACZS? If you are, then you're saying that a person **CAN** be absolutely confident about something, which contradicts the claim

I think one can be absolutely confident about claims that are rationally impossible.

What I am stating here, I think quite clearly, is that I SEE NO DATA and NO RATIONAL SUPPORT to support the notion that we can claim to perfectly know unprovable/unproven ideas. IF a claim is unprovable, then on what bases can anyone "know perfectly" the facts about the claim?

Here's an example: Joe claims that he knows as an absolute fact that Jesus was left-handed. He has gleaned this "fact" based on various hints in the Bible, but he freely admits it's not provable. In what sense can Joe say that he can absolutely know this to be true?

Respectfully intended,

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

here you conflate was is provable and what is knowable. Indeed, no one can prove what is unprovable, but that DOES NOT mean that one cannot KNOW what is unprovable.

You apparently disagree


I do disagree. Or, at least, I will repeat what I've been saying: I see no rational bases to accept this claim. How can one know that which is unprovable? And I will repeat, especially as it regards to biblical interpretations.

I recognize that, in math and logic, there may be word games and thoughts that we might be able to agree upon as examples, but as it relates to biblical interpretations as THEY relate to "what does God want us to believe/what is right/wrong...?"

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

If you are, then you're saying that a person **CAN** be absolutely confident about something, which contradicts the claim...

The contradictions in your position become obvious with only a moment's thought.


I believe you are mistaken about the contradictions.

If nothing else, I'm also fine with saying I'm REASONABLY confident in my conclusion, which is I think the best way of explaining where I am. I am REASONABLY confident that you can't know perfectly an unprovable interpretation of a biblical text for the reasons I've stated... that you have no authority to attest to the validity of the "perfect" claim. BUT, although I am reasonably confident in my position, I AM prepared to change my mind IF anyone can present any rational reason for me to do so.

Does that help?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

If something's obvious, one doesn't need a ruling from some official authority: hence the word, "obvious."

Aha, but "obvious" to whom?

It is obvious to all who look at my car that it is a Blue Honda Fit, and that is, indeed, a fact. Observably, objectively so.

BUT, it is NOT obvious to all who look at Genesis that it is myth (or literal history). Nor is it obvious to all that the Bible is able to definitively and authoritatively tell us God's opinion on gay marriage or any number of other topics.

Ideas that are "obvious" to only some are not ideas that are perfectly known. Hence, the need for an authoritative source to attest to the idea's validity.

How is that mistaken? I mean, in this day and age, it is obvious to the vast majority of the world, of reasonable people, of scientists, probably of biblical scholars, certainly of historians and literary scholars... that Genesis is not written as a literal representation of history. Does that mean that, because it is obvious to most, that Genesis is authoritatively not written as literal history?

Do you see the problem in appealing to that which is "obvious-to-some..."?

~Dan

Craig said...

Would it be safe to suggest that your position is that the only things that can be known objectively and absolutely are those that physically exist and that can be quantified?

Bubba said...

Dan:

You write:

"BUT, it is NOT obvious to all who look at Genesis that it is myth (or literal history). Nor is it obvious to all that the Bible is able to definitively and authoritatively tell us God's opinion on gay marriage or any number of other topics."

I didn't bring up those examples: I brought up the even more obvious claims:

- The Bible clearly teaches the existence of God.
- The Bible clearly teaches the historicity of the Resurrection.

If you really believe that the Bible doesn't teach anything beyond a reasonable doubt or good-faith disagreement, TACKLE THESE TEACHINGS, not the ones that aren't quite as obvious.

Tell us that you think it's only obvious to some that the Bible teaches, "God exists."

The fact that you avoid doing so -- even after I've repeatedly pointed to this particular claim, in this conversation and in the last one AND IN PLENTY BEFORE THEM -- tells us something. It suggests quite strongly that you know your position is ridiculous, that it will only bear so much scrutiny.

You don't dare articulate the obvious conclusion from your ridiculous position, that the Bible isn't even clear on the existence of God.

--

You insist that "knowable" implies "provable," which I would phrase this way:

"To know a claim with certainty, one must be able to prove that claim."

Until you prove THIS claim -- according to the claim itself, you must be able to prove it, otherwise you cannot know it -- I not only won't believe it, I'll continue to conclude that you don't really believe it either.

Bubba said...

Dan,

There's a famous quote, variously attributed in its many forms to Carl Sandburg and others:

"If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell."

Suppose there was a murder trial, where the jury was instructed to convict the defendant if his guilt was clear beyond a reasonable doubt, and the prosecuting DA presented evidence seeking to establish the man's means, motive, and opportunity.

Suppose, then, that the defense attorney doesn't actually address the details of the DA's arguments.

He doesn't argue that the means were outside his defendant's ken, that he had no motive to commit murder, and that he has an alibi that would eliminate the possibility of having the opportunity to kill.

And he doesn't present counter-evidence that would implicate someone else and thereby prove his man's innocence.

No, he brings in philosophy professors and questions them in order to argue that we can't know ANYTHING beyond a reasonable doubt.

He's not arguing the details of the case, he's arguing against the premises of this and every other trial: he's not arguing that his client shouldn't be convicted because the evidence in this particular case is insufficient, he's implicitly arguing that NO ONE should EVER be convicted because, on principle, no amount of evidence is sufficient.

Beyond dismissing his argument as specious, the judge and jury would have very good reason to conclude that he's avoiding the details of this particular case because he can't actually refute them.

--

Let's be honest, Dan: you're doing the exact same thing, and we have good reason to draw those same conclusions about you.

You don't actually argue the biblical merits for your positions, whether it's God's endorsement of homosexual relationships or the lack of a causal relationship between Christ' death and our salvation. You don't because you can't: your positions are ridiculous, and your arguments are rhetorical vaporware.

Instead, you insist that NONE of the Bible's teachings can be known with certainty, beyond any reasonable doubt and any good-faith disagreement.

Therefore, anyone who disagrees with you MUST be presenting only their own human opinions and never God's clear revelation, because there is no such thing.

And by disagreeing with your nonsense and affirming the obvious -- that some of the Bible's teachings really are clear -- your opponents suddenly become guilty of asserting the irrational and graceless.

They become the bad guys for presuming to speak for God, and you're the good, noble, decent, and moral man who stands against the storm and who chooses to follow God rather than man.

You bury your own guilt and shame in a mountain of manure.

One could almost treat your approach as clever despite its deeply dishonest and dishonoring approach to God's written revelation and to the men who object to your shenanigans, but the truth is, it's quite literally the oldest trick in the book, not only to ask, "What is truth?" but to ask, "Did God really say that?"

Craig said...

Dan

I understand your problem with what you perceive as "obvious to some", yet as I pointed out elsewhere your contention that some morals are "self evident" poses the exact same problem. I don't want to take this off topic, so feel free to address this in the post dealing with questions about the problems in your moral construct if that makes more sense to you.

It certainly seem to me that your term "self evident" is being used in the same way Bubba is using obvious. Given that, it seems as though a weakness in one would be a weakness in the other.

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

The fact that you avoid doing so -- even after I've repeatedly pointed to this particular claim, in this conversation and in the last one AND IN PLENTY BEFORE THEM -- tells us something. It suggests quite strongly that you know your position is ridiculous,

Please avoid guessing about my motives. In this case, you are simply mistaken on my motive. I'm using the simplest arguments I can to try to make my point understandable.

If you really believe that the Bible doesn't teach anything beyond a reasonable doubt or good-faith disagreement, TACKLE THESE TEACHINGS, not the ones that aren't quite as obvious.

I can use your example, but I don't see how it helps solve any of the questions I still would have.

But first, I'm saying that I see no data to support the claim that we can know some unprovable items perfectly. I didn't argue that the "Bible doesn't teach anything beyond a reasonable doubt or good faith argument..." That is a different argument, agreed?

So, looking at your chosen examples.

You say...

- The Bible clearly teaches the existence of God.
- The Bible clearly teaches the historicity of the Resurrection.


I would say that the Bible literally contains stories that speak of a God as if that God were real and alive.

I would say that the Bible contains stories that speak of Jesus as if he were real and that, in the story, he dies and raises from the dead. That is literally in the text.

But I don't see how that helps support a claim that we can know some unprovable things perfectly.

Does it, to you? How so?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

You insist that "knowable" implies "provable," which I would phrase this way:

"To know a claim with certainty, one must be able to prove that claim."

Until you prove THIS claim -- according to the claim itself, you must be able to prove it, otherwise you cannot know it -- I not only won't believe it


I am saying this:

IF someone is making a claim: "I can know perfectly and as a fact this idea, which I can not prove..."

that I see no reason to accept that claim, because I do not see how you can know something is a fact - beyond all doubt - if you can't support it.

My holding that opinion isn't really a claim, it's a stating of how I see things and the problem that I have with that claim. It seems reasonable to me. ESPECIALLY true when we're speaking of interpretations of texts and ideas found in and extrapolated out of the Bible.

Thus, I think you are reading more into my words than what I've said. I do not know that I "insist that knowable implies provable..." I am saying I see no reason to accept that claim. IF there is a compelling reason to accept it, I would be glad to accept it. Do you see the difference between making the claim (as you phrased it, "To know a claim with certainty, one must be able to prove that claim.") and saying, "I can't see a reason to accept that claim because it can't be proven..."?

Put another way, I would not insist on your phrasing. I would say, "To know a claim with certainty, it seems reasonable (at least to me and many others) that you'd be able to prove that claim."

Do you want me to prove THAT claim, the one that I'm making?

No hurry, but at some point, will you be dealing with my questions that I've raised?

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

to the men who object to your shenanigans, but the truth is, it's quite literally the oldest trick in the book, not only to ask, "What is truth?" but to ask, "Did God really say that?"

I would argue that asking "What is truth?" is a good and noble and reasonable starting place for seeking truth. I would argue that if some men tell me that God said something, to ask, "Did God really say that?" is a reasonable question.

Wouldn't you?

~Dan

Craig said...

I would respond with, it's premature to ask what is true or truth until you satisfactorily answer does truth or Truth exist

I would also say that it's pointless to ask "Did God really say..."unless one is prepared to accept either possible answer with equal conviction.

Anonymous said...

I think Truth exists. You?

Truth: that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

We think, therefore, we are. Reality exists, therefore Truth exists.

Craig...

Would it be safe to suggest that your position is that the only things that can be known objectively and absolutely are those that physically exist and that can be quantified?

I would say that the only things I know objectively and with absolute confidence are those things that I can see and measure and evaluate objectively. I'm not sure what else I could know 100% as factual without being able to assess it.

Do you have some things you know objectively that you can't demonstrate or prove objectively? What are they and on what bases do you claim 100% certainty? (And here, again, I'm thinking specifically of biblical interpretations...)

I've answered your questions, Craig. Here's one I asked you earlier, perhaps you missed it (Pretty similar to the one I just asked and really getting to the same point)...

I believe you, along with Bubba, believe you can "know" some unprovable beliefs with absolute and perfect confidence, and on those matters, you can not be mistaken because you "know" them perfectly. My question would be, on what reasonable bases would you make such a claim?

By the way, Craig, you seem to have taken some umbrage to my asking similar questions over and over, as if there's some ill-intent on my part. I do this in order to better give you a chance to understand the question I'm asking. If you don't understand it phrased one way, perhaps another will help. No evil intent involved and no need to answer the same basic question twice.

Thanks,

~Dan

Craig said...

My problem with you asking the same question multiple times, was not the fact that you asked it multiple times but that you would ask it multiple times before I had A chance to answer it.

There is a difference between asking a question, receiving an answer, then re-asking the question and asking the question two or three times in a row without actually getting an answer in between.

Craig said...

Without access to more time and a device other than my phone I may wait on any more for now.

Anonymous said...

And again, the point is to give you alternative ways of understanding the question. The point is that the intention is to help. My apologies if that has not been clear.

~Dan

Craig said...

I will say that if we can't agree that God exists, then you will find my answers less than satisfying.

Anonymous said...

You and I agree that God exists. I'm guessing you mean you think you can support the notion that God exists beyond all doubt, even though you can't prove it and I'm not willing to say we can "know" God exists as a 100% fact unless it can be proven... and therefore, I'll be disappointed in your answer because I don't share your premise?

If you can demonstrate that God exists as a point of objective fact, I'd be glad for you to do so, as I am a God believer, after all. I'm just not willing to say more than I can demonstrate, just to be intellectually honest.

Of course, I believe there is plenty of reason to have faith that God exists, even if I can't prove it as a fact, I think there is sufficient evidence to support the believe, I'm just not saying I have perfect knowledge of that reality.

~Dan

Craig said...

That's fine, I'm just pointing out that if we can't agree on something as basic as the existence of God, then you will be disappointed.


Craig said...

I guess if you think it is reasonable to act as if someone in unable to understand your question before you even give them a chance to answer then that makes sense. I tend to come at it from the standpoint of at least giving someone the chance to answer before asking the same question several more times in the same comment.

Anonymous said...

Returning to Bubba's question about things the Bible definitely "teaches..."

1. Clearly, the notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible. That is not disputable, it IS in the Bible.

2. But if one agrees that, yes, the biblical text speaks of a Creator God, does that help support the claim that some things are 100% "Perfect Knowledge," with "absolute confidence..."? I don't see how that helps at all.

3. We CAN say with complete confidence that the Bible speaks of a Creator God, because we can physically observe and read the text where it is spoken of. But that is looking at data we can see and affirm objectively. That is NOT an interpretation that we can't prove or demonstrate.

4. Thus, "We can KNOW with 100% certainty that God is talked about in the Bible..." because we can see it. That is not what I'm speaking of.

5. "We can KNOW with 100% certainty that there is a creator God like the one spoken of in the Bible..." THAT is an interpretation/theory that is not provable... so given that it's not provable, how can we state with absolute certainty that we know this to be true?

I've just been reading and re-reading trying to make sense of why that particular topic is more vital to your argument, Bubba, than the Genesis-as-literal example is.

Anyway, I suppose we'll see.

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

Craig...

I'm just pointing out that if we can't agree on something as basic as the existence of God

We agree.

Craig said...

On what, that we can't agree on the existence of God. If that's the case then what's the point? If you deny the most foundational aspect of Christianity, what's the point.

It's like this is your ultimate trump card, no matter what anyone offers, you can just throw out the "You can't prove it to my satisfaction" card and simply remove any basis for discussion.

I do have to ask if you really only accept as Truth the things that you can measure and quantify? I see way too many folks who believe as you do who have no problem asserting things as True without having personally verified them, so I have to wonder if that is both your claim as well as how you function in the real world.

Dan Trabue said...

"On what?"

?? We agree on the existence of God. That is you and I both agree and believe that God exists. I do not understand what you're asking.

"You can't prove it to my satisfaction..."

Again, I don't understand. If I can't explain something or make my case on a point to your satisfaction then you will disagree with me. And I will do the same for you. What is wrong with this? I honestly do not understand what you're getting at.

Re: "Accepting as truth..."

That isn't what I said. I accept a good many ideas as truth... even things that I can't prove. As do you.

I've been quite clear that I think we can understand things very well, abundantly well, sufficiently well to accept it as a valid conclusion. Even if we cannot prove it 100%.

Craig said...

We agree that God objectively exists? I'm just making sure that I understand you. Because if you're going to balk at the existence of God as a starting point, then I'll have to account for that.

You tend to use the "can't prove it to my satisfaction" as a way to discount things by setting an unrealistically high standard of proof.


Are you suggesting that you consider the things you accept as true to be objectively true, or that you subjectively consider them to be true but would not assert them to be True?

Again, just trying to understand where I need to focus answeres. It doesn't make sense to spend time if there is agreement.

Dan Trabue said...

God either objectively exists or not.

You and I hold the belief that God objectively exists.

I do recognize, though, that I can't prove it objectively and with complete authority.

Can you?

You tend to use the "can't prove it to my satisfaction" as a way to discount things by setting an unrealistically high standard of proof.

Well, clearly in this case, you and I are on the same side. We believe that God exists. So, if you can provide something that lets me say that we can objectively KNOW that God exists, with complete authority, I'd be very glad for you to let me know what that is.

Will you do so? Can you do so?

Are you suggesting that you consider the things you accept as true to be objectively true...

No. I'm saying that those things we can demonstrate to be objectively true and proven, we can reasonably call that an objective fact, and if we can't do objectively prove it, that I don't see how it can be called objectively a fact.

...or that you subjectively consider them to be true but would not assert them to be True?

? I'm saying those things that we can demonstrate objectively true and are objectively true and if we can't demonstrate that, then I don't see how we can call it an objectively proven fact or an objective fact.

I think many things are True - that God exists, that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is God, that Jesus teaches peaceful, simple living and embracing grace, etc... - but that I can't objectively demonstrate it to be a fact, so I can't call it an objective fact.

Honestly, this is not intended to be an insult at all, I'm just wondering: are you truly having a hard time understanding what I'm saying? I ask because it seems like I'm repeating myself saying the same thing in a variety of different ways that seems like to me is clear in the first place.

Thanks,

Dan

Craig said...

That's why I'm trying to get you to commit to an answer, there are multiple paths that would be looked at as offers of proof of God's existence. If I have to start there I will, since you don't hold that God objectively exists.

Since you have given subtle differences in your answers, I'm simply trying to make sure that I understand where you stand so that I can start in the right place without assuming agreement where there is none.


To be clear, you keep saying that you think things are true. Yet that can be taken two ways and I'm simply trying to figure out which way you mean it.

As soon as I have time and something other than my phone I'll put something together.

Dan Trabue said...

Put another way, you and I believe that God exists, and exists objectively.

But, if we can't prove that somehow, I don't see in what sense we could call it an objective fact or a fact that we can "know" with complete 100% knowledge, that we can know perfectly and absolutely. We BELIEVE it absolutely and without a doubt, but if we can't prove it, then how can we say it is a fact?

I'm sure I've used this analogy before, but if someone claims that aliens from another planet exist and travel to Earth regularly. That is either objectively a fact or it is not. And this guy says it is a "known fact" and an "objectively factual claim," we can rightly say, "okay, how do you "know" this? Please demonstrate some data to support this claim as 100% objectively factual..." If he can't do so BUT, it turns out he is right and aliens do regularly visit the earth, then it IS an objective fact that they exist, but he can't reasonably claim to have known it as an objective fact, because he had no proof of it.

Again, I want to be able to say it is a demonstrable fact that God exists. Give me a reason to do so, if you can. But if you can't, well, I hope you see my dilemma... I'm not willing to call something that I am sure of, but can't prove, an objective fact if I have no data to support the fact claim conclusively. Just trying to be intellectually honest, here.

Bubba said...

Dan:

I think it's ironic to the point of being amusing that you allude to cogito ergo sum -- "I think, therefore I am" -- when that's precisely the sort of proposition that one cannot prove to another person.

You CAN know with complete confidence that you think and that therefore you exist -- if you didn't think, you wouldn't be able to have thoughts of doubt and skepticism, and if you didn't exist, there wouldn't be a "you" to wonder about whether you exist -- but you cannot demonstrate your subjective thoughts to an outside observer.

Suppose you met a person who was tormented with the most vivid hallucinations -- "people" who weren't there talked to him, touched him, and even caused imaginary physical harm, and they took him places even though he was stuck in his padded room. You could not POSSIBLY do anything to convince him that you weren't another hallucination, and yet you still can AND DO know that you exist.

Perhaps the deepest irony is that you invoke Descartes' maxim, when it was proposed to (quoting Wikipedia) "form a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt," and yet you frequently express that radical doubt.

At least, you do when it suits you.

When such radical skepticism doesn't suit you, you pronounce quite confidently what Reason tells us, what is self-evident, and what God has written on our hearts.

And that's not the only inconsistency on your part.

--

Do you believe the Bible doesn't contain ANY teachings that are clear beyond any reasonable doubt and any good-faith disagreement? You give multiple, seemingly conflicting answers.

First, you deny arguing any such thing:

"But first, I'm saying that I see no data to support the claim that we can know some unprovable items perfectly. I didn't argue that the 'Bible doesn't teach anything beyond a reasonable doubt or good faith argument...' That is a different argument, agreed?" [emphasis mine]

But, IN THE VERY NEXT COMMENT, you do head in exactly that direction, as you connect your general claim, that knowable claims must be provable claims, to the specific subject of the contents of the Bible.

"I am saying this:

"IF someone is making a claim: 'I can know perfectly and as a fact this idea, which I can not prove...'

"that I see no reason to accept that claim, because I do not see how you can know something is a fact - beyond all doubt - if you can't support it.

"My holding that opinion isn't really a claim, it's a stating of how I see things and the problem that I have with that claim. It seems reasonable to me. ESPECIALLY true when we're speaking of interpretations of texts and ideas found in and extrapolated out of the Bible.
" [emphasis mine]

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

On that general claim, earlier you write this:

"I think we can know some unprovable matters with sufficient confidence, with reasonable confidence, with a strong confidence... just, I don't see how we can reasonably say we can with absolute and perfect confidence."

On the other hand, you write this:

"I do not know that I 'insist that knowable implies provable...'"

But, in your most recent comment, you DO point to the idea that knowable implies provable:

"Put another way, you [Craig] and I believe that God exists, and exists objectively.

"But, if we can't prove that somehow, I don't see in what sense we could call it an objective fact or a fact that we can 'know' with complete 100% knowledge, that we can know perfectly and absolutely. We BELIEVE it absolutely and without a doubt, but if we can't prove it, then how can we say it is a fact?
" [emphasis mine]

The ONLY possible way you're NOT affirming knowable-implies-provable is if you're distinguishing between that and perfectly-knowable-implies-provable, WHEN THAT IS A DISTINCTION I EXPLICITLY ADDRESSED WHEN I REPHRASED THE CONCEPT.

Quoting myself, new emphasis:

"You insist that 'knowable' implies 'provable,' which I would phrase this way:

" 'To know a claim with certainty, one must be able to prove that claim.'
"

THAT is clearly and explicitly what I mean when I say you insist that "knowable implies provable," and it is quite clear that that's exactly what the position you take.

You say you phrase and rephrase the same idea multiple ways so as not to be misunderstood, but A) what you write is inconsistent and even contradictory, and B) you DO NOT attempt to account for my efforts to rephrase the same idea, instead you rip a term out of context to address the meaning YOU invent for it rather than the meaning I EXPLICITLY DEFINE FOR IT.

And you wonder why more than one person finds you so difficult to talk with.

Anonymous said...

You say you phrase and rephrase the same idea multiple ways so as not to be misunderstood, but A) what you write is inconsistent and even contradictory

Where you see me being inconsistent and contradictory, I see you simply not understanding what I'm writing, and the points that I make are consistent and are not contradictory. Although, perhaps it's the case that I misunderstood some point you were making and thus, my answer didn't make sense. I think it's the former.

So here, to this specific case. You were framing it that I was "insisting" that knowable implies provable. The emphasis in my comment was that I am not INSISTING on it.

I am saying

IF some people think we can "know" that which we can't prove
I QUESTION that... HOW can we know that which we can't prove?

I'm not insisting upon it, I'm saying I can't see the reason in it/any rational support for it and, failing any providing giving a reason, I can't justify accepting the claim.

Do you see the difference between

I INSIST that this is a FACT CLAIM: WE can NOT know that which we can't prove!

and

I can't justify accepting as a fact claim something that someone hasn't proven, I can't see a rational reason to accept the claim. GIVE me a rational reason and maybe I'll accept it.

I think it's the case that you appear to not be understanding the distinction, but there is a reasonable distinction (at least to me) and thus, there is no inconsistency in what I'm saying, just a misunderstanding (I believe - you tell me) in my actual point.

Respectfully,

Dan

Anonymous said...

One further distinction that is rational and perhaps explains a misunderstanding you're having. I asked if you saw the difference...

I INSIST that this is a FACT CLAIM: WE can NOT know that which we can't prove!

and

I can't justify accepting as a fact claim something that someone hasn't proven, I can't see a rational reason to accept the claim. GIVE me a rational reason and maybe I'll accept it.


IF I am making a fact claim as in the former, then one might say I need to be able to objectively defend that claim.

IF I am questioning, as I am, the latter and saying that I can't see a reason to agree with it, then I'm just raising a reasonable question that remains unanswered and, in the absence of an answer, I'm not able to agree to the claim.

Perhaps that will help.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba, I am glad to answer your questions as I have been doing and dealing with the concerns you raise (the ones pertinent to the discussion, not the attacks or guesses about my motivations), but will you be dealing with the questions that I raise in my post at some point?

Just checking, so I can know what to expect.

Thanks.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

I see that in your initial post you raised some questions that you yourself answered, so I assume those questions were rhetorical. The other questions, I've already addressed, in the previous conversation or in this one.

- About needing a comprehensive list of all perfectly knowable claims, I pointed out before that I don't need a comprehensive list of all squirrels in existence to know, with complete confidence, that the critter in my yard is a squirrel and not a duck.

- About needing some authority to tell us what's perfectly knowable, I explained here that God is ultimately just that authority and that, in the meantime, we have the responsibility to be intellectually honest, we enjoy the freedom to choose to do otherwise, and we must put up with disagreements from others even when one party may be dishonest in his disagreements.

I don't believe there are any other questions that you've directed to me, which I have not addressed -- I don't believe you've addressed these responses, but I'm not ignoring your questions just because YOU ignore my responses.

--

Now, you write, "I can't justify accepting as a fact claim something that someone hasn't proven," but that introduces a complicating factor -- namely, a claim that comes from somebody else.

That indirect source of knowledge simply isn't implied in what I'm talking about, no matter how I phrased it.

This is how I phrase a particular position, which I DO affirm as my position:

- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

As I understand it, your position is this, that "knowable" implies "provable," which I would phrase this way:

- "To know a claim with certainty, one must be able to prove that claim."

NEITHER OF THESE imply that the claim came from someone else.

Again I mention your invocation of cogito ergo sum: Dan, you think, you know you think, and therefore you know you exist, and you KNOW you think and you KNOW you exist even if you could not prove either claim to anyone else (and, strictly speaking, you can't: see my earlier comment, how you can't prove the subjective experience of thinking, and you couldn't prove you exist to someone suffering from particularly vivid hallucinations).

Or suppose you were an eyewitness to a crime: you saw what you saw, and you KNOW what you saw. Suppose you know without a doubt that you saw Bob kill his brother-in-law at the family picnic in a domestic dispute gone horribly wrong: you KNOW THIS with 100% confidence even if all you could do is give eyewitness testimony to the fact, and you couldn't PROVE the fact conclusively.

Indeed, if I wanted to convince someone else of a claim that *I* know absolutely, and I want him to have equally perfect confidence, proof would be a good way to convince him to that degree -- though I would say it's not always necessary even then.

(Recall the Professor's reaction to Lucy's insistence that the wardrobe was a portal to Narnia -- it's an appeal to authority, but that IS one way we learn things, even things about which we could be absolutely confident in. "Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.")

But the absence of proof or my inability to produce it isn't enough to damage my confidence in what I know 100% to be true.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

...nor does the absence of proof trump my absolute confidence in what I know, in facing someone who disputes my claim.

Go back to the hypothetical murder case: you're 100% certain that you saw Bob kill his in-law, but Bob's business associate Frank insists that Bob has an alibi, that they were out fishing together.

The jury has the difficult task of weighing our conflicting testimonies in light of other testimonies and other corroborating evidence, BUT THAT DOESN'T CHANGE WHAT YOU KNOW. You know what you saw, and you know THAT you know it.

And so, you have the liberty (and perhaps the responsibility) to draw the obvious conclusion, that Frank isn't telling the truth. And considering that it's not like he doesn't know what he's talking about or could be mistaken, you could subsequently conclude that Frank is deliberately lying.

Because you know what you know, and because you know it beyond any reasonable doubt or good-faith disagreement, you *CAN* draw very critical conclusions about those who deny what you know to be true.

Doing so isn't some violation of grace, because grace does not require pretending to be ignorant or refusing to draw inexorable conclusions from that which you confidently know.

Bubba said...

Dan, one more thing.

A major subject has been, in this conversation and quite a few conversations going back, what the Bible teaches.

I have repeatedly stated that the Bible teaches some things with abundant clarity, and I have elaborated to make explicit my position that these teachings are not just subjectively clear "to me" but are rather objectively clear to all who would read the text carefully and with intellectual honesty:

"The Bible teaches that God exists, and it does so beyond ANY reasonable doubt and ANY good-faith disagreement."

And I have made abundantly clear that I'm discussing the CLARITY of the teaching, not it's CORRECTNESS, that one can be absolutely confident that the Bible teaches the bodily resurrection of Jesus EVEN IF one is uncertain about the truth of that teaching, or even if one denies the teaching altogether.

"And I'm not talking about the CORRECTNESS of these claims, just the CLARITY of these claims: the Bible makes these claims regardless of whether they correspond with reality."

But along with those explanations, the claim I make is simple enough that a literal child can understand it.

"The Bible teaches that God exists."

It's six words, a simple sentence with two clauses, one independent and one dependent, and each containing a simple subject and a simple verb.

"THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT GOD EXISTS."

You say, "I'm using the simplest arguments I can to try to make my point understandable," but can you bring yourself to say something as simple and as clear as this?

No, you cannot. What you say instead is nuanced to within an inch of its life.

"I would say that the Bible literally contains stories that speak of a God as if that God were real and alive."

"Clearly, the notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible. That is not disputable, it IS in the Bible... We CAN say with complete confidence that the Bible speaks of a Creator God, because we can physically observe and read the text where it is spoken of."

You're obfuscating, Dan.

You have a tendency to obfuscate, but it's obviously selective: you are unclear ONLY on certain subjects and ONLY in a certain direction, making your positions seem more small-c conservative and small-o orthodox than they really are.

After all, you are NEVER unclear in your belief that God blesses homosexual relationships, and you don't really hold orthodox positions while making claims that can be taken to be more radical than what you really believe.

You don't appear to be suffering from dementia and holding a tenuous grasp on reality, you don't appear to be suffering from the kind of multiple-personality disorder that would explain your inconsistent positions and hypocritical behavior, and you actually appear articulate enough to make your meaning clear WHEN YOU WANT TO.

So, in GIVING YOU THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT in regards to your sanity and your ability to communicate, I believe that the most reasonable explanation for your behavior calls into question your decency and character.

The simplest reason you selectively obfuscate -- only on certain subjects and only in one direction -- is that you're practicing deceit.

Maybe you're even deceiving yourself, but there is very little utility in trying to engage someone who is being so thoroughly dishonest, which is a VERY big reason why I now spend so little time trying to do so.

--

In short, you're gaslighting, and it's obvious.

Anonymous said...

"THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT GOD EXISTS."

You say, "I'm using the simplest arguments I can to try to make my point understandable," but can you bring yourself to say something as simple and as clear as this?

No, you cannot. What you say instead is nuanced to within an inch of its life...

You're obfuscating, Dan.


No, I'm being precise in my language to lessen the possibility that I will be understood aright.

I do not believe "the Bible teaches..." The Bible is a book that contains stories, IT does not "teach." Within those stories there are people who teach or speak of ideas. We can glean some ideas from those stories and ideas, but "the Bible" does not "teach there is a God." That is imprecise language.

The more precise and factually correct observation is what I offered, that clearly, God is spoken of in the stories in the Bible as if God exists. THAT is factual and clear. How then, can something that is factual and precise and observably correct be "obfuscating..."? Perhaps it's just a case of you not understanding my intent and meaning?

I don't know, you tell me. I don't see how this relates to the topic of this post, though. To that end, you said in answering my questions (thanks for clarifying for me)...

About needing a comprehensive list of all perfectly knowable claims, I pointed out before that I don't need a comprehensive list of all squirrels in existence to know, with complete confidence, that the critter in my yard is a squirrel and not a duck.

You do not need a List because you can observe the squirrel and have book knowledge to know that it is not a duck. All this can be observed.

The theological questions of "Is there a God" or "How does God intend for Genesis to be understood, literally or figuratively or otherwise?" or "Is God fine with gay guys holding hands? Getting married?" are not observable or testable. SO, if we agree that we can't perfectly know ALL of these theological questions BUT that SOME of them are perfectly knowable, which ones? How do we know which ones without a list, since we can't observe them? And who is creating the list?"

See the difference between observable claims and theological opinions/interpretations?

Bubba said...

About needing some authority to tell us what's perfectly knowable, I explained here that God is ultimately just that authority

If there is no List to appeal to and we just need to somehow "know" which ideas are "perfectly knowable," why do we not need a local authority to tell us? HOW can we know without a perfect authority to let us know when we're right?

You and I agree that ultimately, GOD can be that authority, but God is not stepping in anywhere and saying "Yeah, Dan's right on that Genesis thing, it's not literal history. Come on, guys, be serious! Pfft!" and "but Dan is mistaken about his opposition to the personal auto..."

So, how do we know without an authoritative answer from some source?

This is the critical question that I do not believe you all have or can satisfactorily answered in a way that I can understand.

Respectfully,

Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, you distinguish between "observable claims" and "theological opinions/interpretations," but notice I've been focusing on the former -- on the CLARITY of the Bible's most obvious claims, not on the CORRECTNESS of those claims and their correspondence to reality.

You say, "You do not need a List because you can observe the squirrel and have book knowledge to know that it is not a duck. All this can be observed."

That's good! -- and I would add, you don't need a list to know that the Bible clearly teaches theism because it can be observed.

Presumably you not only don't need a list to identify the animal as a squirrel, you also don't need "an authoritative answer from some source" to know what you saw -- and one need not have an authoritative source to know the Bible's contents when it's accessible for your own examination.

So then, since you can be absolutely confident of AT LEAST some of those things that you can observe...

- Your own thoughts, verifying your own existence (cogito ergo sum)
- Bob's murder of his in-law at the family picnic, which you witnessed
- The contents of the Bible or any other book to which you have access, which you've read

...my position of ACLS holds quite true.

"A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

And he can be confident in the absence of a comprehensive list of such propositions, certification from some authoritative source, OR the ability to prove what he confidently knows -- it's just that the LIMITED SCOPE might be limited to observable propositions, which is fine for my position since the definition doesn't demand a greater scope.

Anonymous said...

So then, since you can be absolutely confident of AT LEAST some of those things that you can observe...

- Your own thoughts, verifying your own existence (cogito ergo sum)
- Bob's murder of his in-law at the family picnic, which you witnessed
- The contents of the Bible or any other book to which you have access, which you've read

...my position of ACLS holds quite true.

"A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."


Those are all provable, observable propositions. I'm speaking of UNPROVABLE observations about interpretations of a text which we do not have the author's authoritative word to clarify.

See the difference?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

As an aside, I'm seeing several of your comments, Bubba, that have come through to my email that are not showing, at least not yet, here. Are you seeing the same thing or is this just a computer glitch?

Rest assured if you don't see them, I still have them in my email and can post them.

~Dan

Craig said...

Dan, still spending some of my limited time trying to condense down an answer into a blog comment.

Since what you asked for is that I provide a "rational bases" for my view, would it be possible (as a shortcut) for me to provide you with a list of names that you would be able to stipulate to your belief that if these people rationally hold a position based on their rational evaluation of the evidence, then it is rational to use that as a foundation to support further rational conclusions.

Anonymous said...

? I don't know what in the world you mean, Craig. Are you suggesting you can't give a simple and direct answer? What do other people have to do with your providing an answer to the question?

Bubba, I saw your response. Not sure what's going on, but it's not anything on my end.

You said, in your last comment that didn't go through...

BUBBA:

I truly wonder whether your position is that NO book teaches, or whether you recognize that some books teach, but not all.

- A bit of a spoken wisdom from one's earthly father is surely instructive, even if it's a general principle and not something concrete, and even if it's given in a witty and memorable phrasing rather than something clumsy: the original saying teaches, as there is OBVIOUS instructive value in aphorisms like "no pain, no gain."

- If you jotted down the wise sayings and aphorisms of your father, that unpublished journal or published pamphlet is also instructive: the collection of sayings can teach you.

- Such aphorisms need not come from a prior personal relationship with someone you directly knew. A list of Ben Franklin's aphorisms from Poor Richard's Almanack can teach readers as well.

- And if the collection of aphorisms from Poor Richard's Almanack are instructive, so are the publications that originally contained those aphorisms, even if they also contained "puzzles and other amusements." A publication can teach readers if it contains aphorisms, even if its contents aren't strictly limited to aphorisms.

Human beings teach, and they can do so through means of oral or written communication.

- When your pastor preaches -- or lectures or merely gives some other instructive talk or presentation -- her speech teaches.

- If someone records that speech and transcribes it, that transcript teaches.

- If she gives the speech remotely, through Skype or Google Hangouts or a conference call or some other electronic media, her speech STILL teaches.

- Or if someone at the other end of the remote speech transcribes it, that transcript teaches.

- OR suppose that the technology isn't working and -- instead of her speaking and someone at the other end writes it down -- she decides to write down what she would otherwise say. She sends a letter by email or snail mail, so some public speaker could read it aloud when it arrives. That speaker teaches the audience, but it's also true that the letter itself teaches anyone who would read it or listen to it being read.

All of these forms of oral and written communications teach: ALL OF THEM, including original sources, transcripts, and compilations.

If you disagree, I'd love to hear which of the artifacts in this bulleted list of items doesn't teach -- and why you think so.


...so it's posting, just not from you..? I dunno.

~Dan

Craig said...

I'm suggesting that given your inability to start with the position that God exists, that it becomes necessary to lay the foundation for God's existence before moving on to anything based on that. So, given your starting position as well as having to build layers from there, no it's not going to be a glib simple answer.

The fact that you think it even could be a glib, simple, quick sound bite answer makes me question how seriously you want an answer, as well as how much open minded, reasonable, attention you'll pay to it.

So far, the reasons not to answer are piling up, but (if nothing else) I said I'd answer and I will. It's just going to be longer and more complex given our lack of a common starting point.

Dan Trabue said...

Are you suggesting that there are Scholars out there who are able to make and objective case that God definitively exists beyond all doubt and people just aren't aware of it?

Dan Trabue said...

Of the arguments that I have heard for the existence of God I find CS Lewis' case the most compelling. Even so, with me being a believer and wanting to be able to affirm with 100% certainty that we can objectively prove God exists, I don't think this case sufficiently makes an objective case... Observable to all who would look at it. It is sufficiently reasonable, but not objectively so. Do you have a better example than CS Lewis's?

Craig said...

Not exactly, now you question didn't ask for an "objective case" it asked for a "rational bases". Are you now changing the question?

But, to your new question, there are a number if incredibly rational and reasonable folks throughout history who upon looking at the evidence reached the rational conclusion that a) God exists, B) that He has given us the ability to rationally understand much about His existence and nature. In fact these folks were so convinced of this that they acted as if this were True and in the process changed how we look at our world.

But if you don't think that you're willing to stipulate that it reasonable to agree that agreeing with a group of folks with a fair amount of significance and credibility is a reasonable position, then that's fine.

I'm trying to find some ways to streamline this without causing you problems, so if you want the full thing, that's what I'll do.

I'm sure you'll be patient.

Craig said...

As you may or may not be aware, there are numerous reasonable, rational, and compelling arguments for the existence of God. I was planning to mention several of them, to point out that while you may or may not find them convincing to you personally, that there are enough rational arguments available for providing an answer to your question as originally worded. If you now want to change the question, then I'll deal with that. But, I'm talking about at least one step up the ladder from God's existence.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

now you question didn't ask for an "objective case" it asked for a "rational bases". Are you now changing the question?

What I said and asked...

You and I agree that God exists. I'm guessing you mean you think you can support the notion that God exists beyond all doubt, even though you can't prove it and I'm not willing to say we can "know" God exists as a 100% fact unless it can be proven... and therefore, I'll be disappointed in your answer because I don't share your premise?

IF YOU CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT GOD EXISTS AS A POINT OF OBJECTIVE FACT, I'd be glad for you to do so...


Again, You and I agree that God exists. We no doubt agree that we think there is sufficient reason to believe this. Where it appears you are disagreeing is that you think we can "know" objectively as a demonstrable perfectly known "fact" that God exists. That is different than saying "I have sufficient reason to cause me to think God exists."

I'm not changing my question, this has been my question, as you can see above.

I'm sometimes wondering if you all are not getting that I think we have SUFFICIENT reasons for believing what we believe, but that I'm drawing the line at ABSOLUTE PERFECT KNOWLEDGE for what we believe. Do you understand that I'm saying we do have reason, GOOD reason, for believing in a Creator God?

Bubba said...

Trying to post from phone, will post more from different PC tonight or later.

Dan, thank you for reposting the comment, am curious about your response to it.

Dan Trabue said...

That worked, obviously.

Bubba...

I truly wonder whether your position is that NO book teaches, or whether you recognize that some books teach, but not all.

I think clearly, if we want to be precise, NO book teaches.

When my pastor is preaching a "teaching" sermon, she is teaching from the pulpit.

If my pastor collected a group of teachings, it would be her teachings compiled in the book.

When Jesus is recorded teaching the Sermon on the Mount, it is JESUS teaching, not the Bible.

In any case I can think of, the book is of course not doing any teaching. It contains the teachings of some person.

Now, we can speak loosely of "the Bible taught me that..." or "I learned from the Koran that..." or, "If 'The Cat in the Hat' teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that..." and people will understand what you mean, but it is literally and precisely not the book doing the teaching. It is that the book contains the teaching of someone.

Is this not reasonable and precise?

Craig said...

So when you said,"My question would be, on what reasonable based would you base such a claim.", that wasn't actually your question.

Look the above was one of the first two questions you directly asked me, the other has been addressed.

It seems to me that without answering the first question (the one above) that any answers to any subsequent questions lack foundation.

I will still answer your first question/version if you wish. Beyond that we'll see.

Perhaps now you can understand why asking multiple different versions of a question before the first version is answered is so frustrating for those of us trying to keep up and/or trying to figure out what you meant to say/ask instead of what you actually asked.

Dan Trabue said...

The question I'm asking has always been in the context of what is "perfectly knowable," as that was the point of the post. Now, I'm sorry that was not clear enough in the quote you selected, but now, I've clarified....

Also, looking back at my quoted question you offer, the context of the quote was...

believe you, along with Bubba, believe you can "know" some unprovable beliefs with absolute and perfect confidence, and on those matters, you can not be mistaken because you "know" them perfectly. My question would be, on what reasonable bases would you make such a claim?

So, when taken with the sentence immediate preceding it, perhaps you can see how I've been talking about what you can objectively prove or how you can make a claim to "know" something you can't objectively prove. Clearer now?

Craig said...

I'll gladly answer the question as originally phrased as it seems foolish to move any further without a rational bases to do so

This all raises a question. If intelligent, rational people investigate the evidence for the existence of God,then base their entire professional career on the results of that rational investigation, doesn't that suggest 100% confidence in the existence of God. What if the result of that conclusion literally led to a profound change in how significant areas if society operate?

Craig said...

How do the following sentiments strike you

What is,is right"

"Truth is the majority vote of a nation that can lick all others."

"Law is based on experience."

"Nothing is more certain in modern society than the principle that there are no absolutes"

Craig said...

"If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute."

Dan Trabue said...

How do I feel about those sentiments?

Some truth to them, not perfectly so, though.

Obviously, if genocide and mass executions are what "is," that isn't right, as it is a blow against human rights and decency.

On the other hand, law often is based on experience and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If we are experiencing a rise in drunk driving harm, then that experience might be telling us we need to tweak our laws.

They're a mixed bag. Why?

I'll gladly answer the question as originally phrased as it seems foolish to move any further without a rational bases to do so

The original question was asking you on what bases do you think we can make a claim of perfect knowledge/understanding of some unprovable ideas.

If you're merely offering up some people who explain
Why we might reasonably believe in God...
you and I agree on that point, just to be clear. So there's no point in offering a defense of that which we agree upon, it seems to me.

So, I'm mostly interested in an answer to the question I'm asking, if you can see the wisdom in that.

Thanks.

Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

..nor does the absence of proof trump my absolute confidence in what I know, in facing someone who disputes my claim.

Go back to the hypothetical murder case: you're 100% certain that you saw Bob kill his in-law, but Bob's business associate Frank insists that Bob has an alibi, that they were out fishing together.


The difference between your analogy and what I'm speaking of is this:

In the analogy, I SAW the murder. I know objectively that it can happen. Thus, I can prove TO MYSELF that it happened. IF we could somehow "show" others what I saw in my mind, we could prove it to others, demonstrably. There is data there, we just can't access it for everyone to see, but it is there.

On the other hand, the person who says he "knows" with 100% perfect knowledge that God wants us to take Genesis literally or that God wants us to believe there is a God... he doesn't "know" it because he saw it. If we could see the contents of his memory, there's nothing to show anyone else. He doesn't know it from personal experience so he can't even prove it to himself.

Or are you saying that the person who "knows" some theological "facts" has something akin to the murder witness that he has seen or experienced that's real and was demonstrable in the moment that it happened, it's just not the kind of thing that can be shown to others? If so, what is that Thing that he saw, experienced that is objectively real?

Thanks,

Dan

Marshall Art said...

Wow. Obfuscation, semantics and tap-dancing galore. As I read through this the same thought continues to bear itself out as true: Dan relies upon ambiguity to provide for him the liberty to support as moral and pleasing to God that which has no Biblical basis.

Now, he makes the claim that the Bible does not literally teach, evidently because the Bible is an inanimate object that has no will of its own. I fail to see anything in any of Bubba's or Craig's comments that would suggest such a thing, and the point is another needless distraction, purposely put forth. It is alarmingly dishonest to do this, as rational people understand what the phrase "the Bible teaches" actually means without having to go through the unnecessary process of explaining the rhetorical.

We can know, without any doubt, so very much of what is "taught" by the Bible. It is nowhere near as ambiguous as Dan wants and needs it to be in order to maintain his support for that which is not moral or Christian.

Dan Trabue said...

We can know, without any doubt, so very much of what is "taught" by the Bible.

Please provide your list of what we can "know" without any doubt (perfect knowledge on some things, right?) and the reason you can "know" your opinion is right when others disagree with your opinion... why your opinion/interpretation is the one right one and all others are mistaken.

Thanks.

Bubba said...

TEST, 9:39 am.

Bubba said...

[Looks like everything's working...]

Dan:

I was wondering if you would quibble about whether a book teaches because it's inanimate, but that phrasing is quite common, and hardly anyone is confused by it.

These are practically and functionally equivalent statements...

- He teaches people through his book.
- His book teaches people.

...because the book contains the author's teachings. The same is true for oral communications, as Jesus taught the crowd with His sermons because -- quite obviously -- THE SPOKEN WORDS CONTAIN HIS TEACHINGS.

It's an incredibly simple concept: whether spoken or written -- that is, whether referring to traveling sound waves created by vocal cord vibrations or to patterns of ink on leather or paper -- the words are the MEDIUM that contains the MESSAGE.

And whether we're discussing Ben Franklin and his published aphorisms or your pastor and a written transcript of her remote sermon, the author obviously teaches through that message because the message contains the author's teachings.

This is all very elementary stuff.

--

The concept is so simple that I doubt you really don't grasp it, but I have two other, very good reasons to doubt that you are arguing in good faith.

1) You didn't bring up this objection initially. Instead of objecting with the general claim that NO book CAN teach, your initial response was that THIS book doesn't happen to teach -- and your reasoning was a complete non sequitur.

"I do not believe 'the Bible teaches...' The Bible is a book that contains stories, IT does not 'teach.'"

Right, because it's simply not possible that a verbal communication that contains stories ALSO contains teachings. The two are mutually exclusive.

This is why an anthology work like a Reader's Digest couldn't POSSIBLY contain aphorisms if it also contained thrilling real-life adventures.

No sermon EVER includes a humorous anecdote or a serious, autobiographical testimony, and if it did, we could know that the speaker doesn't intend us to learn anything from his sermon, because that sermon couldn't possibly contain any teachings.

And Jesus certainly didn't teach with narratives, stories involving widows or virgins, farmers or judges. When He told parables, He most certainly WASN'T teaching, even though Mark 4:2 claims that He "was teaching them many things in parables."

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

2) Your recent words elsewhere belie your sudden unwillingness to anthropomorphize verbal communications.

In the recent thread on the gay pride festival, you mention "polite questions or comments," "hateful comments," "obtuse and misleading comments," and "hateful and slanderous comments."

But comments CANNOT be polite OR rude: they're inanimate.

Comments can't be hateful, they can neither hate nor love: they're inanimate.

And if text cannot POSSIBLY teach, they cannot possibly slander or mislead, either.

In saying that a comment is hateful, you're obviously insinuating that its author is hateful, because a comment cannot convey hate and rudeness (or love and politeness) APART FROM ITS AUTHOR.

As I asked in the previous conversation, Does a rational person hold to irrational ideas? Does a graceful person hold to graceless ideas? In the same way, can a loving person produce hateful comments? Obviously, the answer to each question is no, and just as it's simply untenable that you're criticizing ideas without implicating the people who hold them, it's untenable that you're criticizing comments without implicating the people who make them.

But to criticize those comments, you anthropomorphize them, and you who rail against comments that mislead now SUDDENLY reject the idea that books can teach.

Well then, to focus on the ideas and not the person, I think it's clear that the argument is dishonest.

--

Now, about ACLS and my example propositions, you write:

"Those are all provable, observable propositions. I'm speaking of UNPROVABLE observations about interpretations of a text which we do not have the author's authoritative word to clarify."

1) That's a relatively recent modification of the subject at hand.

When you coined the term in the original thread, you didn't say that "partially perfect understanding" is fine, so long as we're discussing what's "provable and observable."

And when I defined ACLS, you didn't agree to the term (as you now must do, given the logic of this recent comment), so long as the scope was strictly limited to (some or all) claims that are "provable and observable."

In the post here, you write, "I am fine with Bubba's definition and framing, with the reminder that we're speaking about unprovable ideas, morals, theologies... and specifically about biblical interpretations."

But who's "we," kemosabe? It should be obvious from my comments that I was discussing ALL propositions -- and so you're arguing against a position that I haven't taken.

2) Strictly speaking, two of those three items I listed are NOT as you describe them, "provable, observable propositions" -- they are observable, but they are not necessarily provable, and I reject your treating the two terms as inexorably linked.

"Cogito ergo sum" points to something one can observe and know with COMPLETE confidence to be true, but still something that cannot be proven to somebody else: namely, that one thinks.

And the example of the eyewitness to a murder was given to show QUITE CLEARLY that one can know a fact with complete confidence independent of his ability to prove that fact.

The third example is about the contents of Scripture, and I have more to say about it shortly.

Bubba said...

So, Dan, I had given three examples in support of the conclusion that "you can be absolutely confident of AT LEAST some of those things that you can observe," and this was example #3:

- The contents of the Bible or any other book to which you have access, which you've read

You responded, "Those are all provable, observable propositions."

Again, they're not all provable, and "observable" doesn't imply "provable," but you concede that the contents of the Bible are observable. In a list of five statements you posted Tuesday, you provided some details on what you believe the Bible contains. The list is worth reposting, with my comments inline and afterwards.

--

1. Clearly, the notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible. That is not disputable, it IS in the Bible.

2. But if one agrees that, yes, the biblical text speaks of a Creator God, does that help support the claim that some things are 100% "Perfect Knowledge," with "absolute confidence..."? I don't see how that helps at all.


[It does, unless you limit those "some things" to exclude claims like #1. You do, but I do not, and I never did in formulating the concept of ACLS -- and this is why I find it so odd that in #2 you say you don't see how it supports the claim of "absolute confidence" in some things, while in #3 below you affirm "complete confidence" in one thing in particular and mention "100% certainty" in #4.]

3. We CAN say with complete confidence that the Bible speaks of a Creator God, because we can physically observe and read the text where it is spoken of. But that is looking at data we can see and affirm objectively. That is NOT an interpretation that we can't prove or demonstrate.

4. Thus, "We can KNOW with 100% certainty that God is talked about in the Bible..." because we can see it. That is not what I'm speaking of.


[I never excluded observable propositions in my definition, I never agreed to your adding that limitation, I never argued as if I agreed to it, and I wouldn't have, because the limitation takes out what *I* have been focused on the entire time, the teachings of the Bible.]

5. "We can KNOW with 100% certainty that there is a creator God like the one spoken of in the Bible..." THAT is an interpretation/theory that is not provable... so given that it's not provable, how can we state with absolute certainty that we know this to be true?

[I addressed that distinction in the comment that kicked off this subject, mentioned below.]

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Okay, so from these five points, it's clear you're discussing the subject of complete confidence in claims that (at least arguably) cannot be observed, like the ACTUAL existence of God and not merely the Bible's contents regarding God and His existence.

But that subject is not only a change from the original topic I raised, IT'S EXPLICITLY CONTRARY TO THAT TOPIC.

Go back to the original conversation and trace the responses in reverse chronological order, to get to the source:

- 7/8, 7:55 am, I defined ACCS and ACLS in response to your comment on "partially perfect knowledge," a phrase I said I liked despite its imprecision, but where you did you mention the phrase?

- 7/7, 12:38 pm, you mention "partially perfect knowledge" and reject the idea, coining the phrase in response to my claim that your position -- that we're fallible on every possible point -- is incoherent, but where did I reject the idea of our being "fallible on every possible point"?

- 7/7, 12:14 pm, I rejected the position after making abundantly clear the subject I introduced [new emphasis]:

"My interest in this discussion is tied to a question that I asked quite a while back, for which I don't remember your ever providing an answer. The issue was the clarity of communication, of text in general, and of the Bible in particular.

"I had asked whether you believe any teaching of the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement. I distinguished between a teaching's clarity and its truthfulness -- Dawkins' writing is quite clear in asserting that God doesn't exist, even as I reject the assertion as false -- and I provided as examples two of the Bible's most obvious teachings [the existence of God and the historicity of the Resurrection].
"

I couldn't be more clear about what I'm discussing, **THE CLARITY** of the claims found within the Bible, not the claims' correspondence to reality.

You've reframed the subject to exclude that which I have focused on, and to focus on that which I EXPLICITLY excluded.

I can't imagine why you think the discussion would remain germane to my point or interesting to me.

Bubba said...

Now, Dan, in those first three points you allude to at least one claim about the Bible's contents, variously stated, about which YOU CONCEDE we can have absolute confidence:

- "The notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible."

(From #1, you claim it's indisputable: "Clearly, the notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible. That is not disputable, it IS in the Bible.")

- "The biblical text speaks of a Creator God."

(From #2, but practically equivalent to your confident statement in #3 unless you bizarrely distinguish between "the Bible" and "the biblical text.")

- "The Bible speaks of a Creator God."

(From #3, you're explicit about having complete confidence: "We CAN say with complete confidence that the Bible speaks of a Creator God, because we can physically observe and read the text where it is spoken of. But that is looking at data we can see and affirm objectively. That is NOT an interpretation that we can't prove or demonstrate.")

--

Let me note in passing the anthropomorphism.

"The biblical text speaks," "The Bible speaks," BUT the Bible doesn't teach.

"I think clearly, if we want to be precise, NO book teaches."

No book speaks, either. Y'know, if we want to be precise. (Or a pedantic jerk.)

--

A few hours before that list, you wrote, "I would say that the Bible literally contains stories that speak of a God as if that God were real and alive," and presumably you believe that this statement can be known indisputably with complete confidence.

So these statements, we can know with complete confidence:

"The Bible literally contains stories that speak of a God as if that God were real and alive."

"The notion of a Creator God is spoken of throughout the Bible."

"The biblical text speaks of a Creator God."

"The Bible speaks of a Creator God."


But you apparently DO NOT think we can know THIS with complete confidence:

"The Bible teaches that God exists" -- or, more literally, "The Bible contains the teaching that God exists."

Even **ENTIRELY** apart from the questions of whether the teaching is true, whether we can know it's true, or the degree to which we can know, the presence of the teaching within the text is ITSELF not obvious beyond all reasonable doubt and good-faith disagreement? That's simply absurd.

I suspect I understand the distinction you would make between your statements and mine, but I'd love to hear you explain the distinction for yourself.

Craig said...

Why?,

Because I'm curious to see how react to people who agree with your approach to morals.

As to your various versions of the question,
1. If we can't agree that a "rational bases" exists, then anything beyond that is pointless. Therefore I will provide you with a "rational bases", then see where things go from there.

No, I'm not going to simply give you a list of people,

As to your "question", it seems more properly to be 3 questions.

1. Does God actually exist?
2. Does that God communicate in a way that we can understand?
3. Are we able to understand? More specifically is there anything on which we can state with complete confidence that we know it to be True?

Part of the problem with this conversation is that we're talking about two different things. Bubba and I are trying to articulate a rational basis for some objective universal morals, while you seem focused on the details of specifically what's on some list. Or you think that we are trying to compile a list. When it's more about the universal than the specifics.

Anonymous said...

Craig...

1. If we can't agree that a "rational bases" exists, then anything beyond that is pointless. Therefore I will provide you with a "rational bases", then see where things go from there.

I'm still not sure you all are speaking of the same thing I am.

I am saying we HAVE rational bases ("basis," plural, just fyi, not "a rational bases," just making sure you got that this wasn't a typo) to, for instance, believe that God exists. I have a rational basis for believing Genesis is figuratively written. We have a rational basis for believing Jesus lived, etc.

What I'm asking for is, are there rational bases for a claim that we can hold opinions of biblical interpretations that are perfectly understood, that we can not be in error about?

Do you understand the difference?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Craig...

1. Does God actually exist?
2. Does that God communicate in a way that we can understand?
3. Are we able to understand? More specifically is there anything on which we can state with complete confidence that we know it to be True?


I'm fine with the first two of those three questions. I would, of course, answer Yes to 1 and 2.

I think a better third question is...

3. In spite of biblical clarity that nearly everyone agrees is reasonably clear, are humans of good faith about to disagree about just about every idea in the Bible?

The answer, of course, is Yes, as has been demonstrated through the ages.

Thus, to your question, ARE we able to understand? Yes, we all think we are able to understand clearly-enough (some even say, perfectly on many, unnamed topics). BUT,

a. given the demonstrated human ability to disagree on just about every imaginable idea potentially communicated in biblical text, and
b. given that we can't demonstrably prove one side or the other authoritatively/absolutely on at least some of the ideas
c. then on what basis are we able to say, Side 1 is authoritatively correct on that topic and Side 2 is authoritatively incorrect?

That is (going to a fourth question)...

4. Given the reality of human disagreement and that someone is mistaken on one side or the other of a question, on what bases would we say that we can speak with complete authority and confidence that one side or the other has perfect understanding and knowledge of a given idea?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

But you apparently DO NOT think we can know THIS with complete confidence:

"The Bible teaches that God exists" -- or, more literally, "The Bible contains the teaching that God exists."


I make the "the Bible contains teachings" distinction for a reason. Consider:

The Bible contains the teaching that sometimes God might command us to kill children and other innocents.

BUT, I would NOT argue that

The Bible teaches that sometimes teaches us that God might command us to kill children and other innocents.

And why wouldn't I do that? Because generally, when someone says "the Bible teaches..." or "scripture teaches..." it is a short hand way of saying that "GOD teaches..."

So, while it is a simple observable the Bible contains teachings that God sometimes commands killing children and forced marriages/rape, I do NOT think we should take it from that factual level to the level of, "Therefore, God sometimes commands these things..."

It's a way of differentiating between what the text literally says and what WE think it might imply or mean.

To use another example, more to "your side" of the table...

The Bible contains teachings that we should not store up treasures on earth,

BUT

You probably don't think that God teaches us not to have savings/stored up treasures on earth.

Does that distinction seem reasonable to you?

It does to me, and that is why I made it. Even if you find it less than reasonable, I hope you can understand the good and reasonable intent I had in making it.

Respectfully,

Dan

Marshall Art said...

"Please provide your list of what we can "know" without any doubt..."

This you ask in response to my statement: "We can know, without any doubt, so very much of what is "taught" by the Bible." So I'll simply present the two points of Bubba's that strangely provoke equivocation by you:

the existence of God and the historicity of the Resurrection

We can know without any doubt whatsoever the these two points are taught by the Bible. And of course, by "taught by the Bible", I am speaking in terms commonly used for generations, if not longer, that indicate these teachings are found therein. And also of course, as Bubba has been forced to do, though neither of us should have to, I also insist these teachings are unequivocally presented as fact in Scripture regardless of whether or not they are indeed so, though I fully believe them to be so.

Craig said...

Yes Dan I still understand. The problem is that as long as you continue to equivocate on the objective existence of God then I'm compelled to start at the beginning.

I'm just copy pasting/quoting your exact words as written so as to avoid charges by you that I have misrepresented or misquoted you. Just trying to accurately quote you.

Craig said...

I'll stick with my three and skip your 3rd 4th as they simply reflect your bias that the simple existence of disagreements is a valid basis to evaluate the clarity of the underlying text.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to answer any questions of yours that you want, as long as you also get around to answering mine, as well, please. Thanks.

~Dan

Marshall Art said...

"The Bible contains the teaching that sometimes God might command us to kill children and other innocents."

But it doesn't. It doesn't do anything of the kind, nor did God Himself suggest that He leaves that option for Himself on the table. The mere fact that Scripture records God commanding the destruction of entire populations (to whatever extent it actually does, as well as to whatever extent He actually did) does not in any way stand as a teaching that God might command us to kill anyone.

This is an example of your desperate need to impose ambiguity on Scripture. None but the most insanely irrational and emotionally dysfunctional would ever confuse stories of God's use of the armies of ancient Israel to exact His righteous punishment on corrupted cities as a mandate to kill anyone. To pretend such things are even possible in order to put forth your insistence that we can't know with certainty what God expects of us is wholly deceitful. Again, your positions on a variety of subjects cannot be justified without this ambiguity providing you with license to believe what you want. No "Thou shalt not" can be known and merely defaulting to lame rhetorical tricks such as "on what basis" when the words clearly transmit a definitive meaning do not indicate any good faith disagreement whatsoever on your part. You would at least be better served by coming up with better examples of your position (as opposed to the "God mandates killing kids" nonsense) that have some chance of matching reality if credibility and integrity have any value to you at all.

As I stated initially, this whole discussion is no more than another attempt to legitimize your desperate need for ambiguity that your unbiblical, unchristian positions on various issues require in order to maintain them.

I would also make another distinction that points to even more deceitfulness:

There is a difference between a teaching, or the lesson/moral of a Biblical story versus the every detail of that story necessary to get to the lesson. Your inane example of God mandating killing kids is not a teaching in any sense, other than laying out the history of an event. That is to say, a history book "teaching" about Washington crossing the Delaware is not conveying a moral. It is merely "teaching" the event.

But in the case of God punishing sinful peoples by virtue of his commands to the armies of Israel, any moral or lesson that lies within that record of historical events is that God is wrathful and will deal with those who reject His will. That would be the legitimate take-away for us...NOT that we might be called upon to kill kids or that He ever intends to call upon anyone for the purpose. We can certainly speculate about such things, but there is no clear teaching that such is likely or even possible.

Bubba said...

Thank you, Dan, I figured it was *something* along those lines, but I genuinely appreciate the clarification.

I understand why some people, especially Christians, make the leap from "the Bible says" to "God says."

- One of the Bible's own teachings -- an arguably clear teaching, but I won't argue that here -- is that the Bible has a kind of double authorship, written by men (often by name, David and Isaiah, Peter and Paul) but also authored by God; see the numerous "Thus says the Lord" of the OT and especially NT passages such as I Cor 2:9-13 (esp 2:13) and II Tim 3:14-17.

- One of JESUS' teachings -- again, an arguably clear teaching -- is the affirmation of both the lasting authority AND the divine authorship of Scripture; see Matt 5:17-18 and Mark 7:6-13.

- If someone accepts the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accepts that the New Testament documents His teachings with even an approximate degree of accuracy -- and anyone who denies the latter couldn't follow Jesus' teachings in any real sense, since he would have no real idea what they are -- he might easily conclude that, since Jesus is who He says He is, the Bible is ALSO what He says it is.

Many may make that leap -- and I do so in my personal walk with Christ -- but I'm NOT doing so here, at least for the sake of this particular argument.

**ALL** I am saying is that some of what the Bible teaches is clear, regardless of whether one believes that the teaching is also correct, from God, or correct BECAUSE it's from God.

--

And just because SOME teachings may be clear beyond all reasonable doubt and good faith disagreement, it simply DOES NOT follow that ALL teachings are thus clear.

"God exists."

"Jesus was raised bodily from the dead."

These teachings contained in the Bible are clear regardless of how clear (or unclear) other teachings are, such as ethical instructions regarding the taking of human life, the acquisition and possession of wealth, and the moral limits of human sexuality.

(That's a LOT of what this is ultimately about, the Bible's teachings on sex. In the past you were quite explicit in bringing up the supposed atrocities that the Bible attributes to God, en route to arguing that we can ignore the teachings regarding homosexuality.)

Because the clarity of the former DOES NOT imply clarity for the latter, it is logically unnecessary for you to deny the former's clarity in order to forestall others' presumptuous conclusions about the latter's clarity.

It's not only unnecessary, it's intellectually dishonest, Dan.

There is only one intellectually honest reason to deny the clarity of ANY AND ALL of the Bible's teachings: the logic and evidence leads you to that conclusion. Ulterior motives about what others might do with the idea should not enter into the equation.

I genuinely believe some teachings of the Bible aren't completely clear, that there *IS* room for genuine disagreement between honest, reasonable, and faithful Christians. I also recognize that there isn't INFINITE room for such disagreement, because other teachings REALLY ARE clear.

Whether it's true or not, whether the claims came from God or mere human alone, the Bible is clear: God exists, and Jesus rose.

I know what I know, I affirm what I know, and I let the chips fall where they may.

You should do the same.

Bubba said...

Dan, about what we both know, you really cannot possibly know ALL that you say here to Craig:

"3. In spite of biblical clarity that nearly everyone agrees is reasonably clear, are humans of good faith about to disagree about just about every idea in the Bible?

"The answer, of course, is Yes, as has been demonstrated through the ages.
" [emphasis mine]

No such thing has been demonstrated or even COULD BE demonstrated, at least regarding that key phrase, good faith.

Good faith, intellectual honesty (or any other kind of honesty), sincerity, reasonableness: ALL OF THESE THINGS relate to the individual's inner state of mind.

It is hard enough to prove a mental state (like mens rea) in a criminal trial and do so beyond a reasonable doubt, it is practically impossible to prove it in other circumstances, to say nothing of the attempt to "demonstrate" it.

One of the most prominent disagreements surrounding the Christian good news was between Gnosticism and what has since become known as (I would say, recognized as) orthodoxy, and Gnostics famously struggled with and even denied the resurrection of the body, on the premise that physical matter was not only fallen, it was evil and/or an illusion.

Gnostics denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

- Show me where they claimed that their denial was grounded in the texts that became canon, where they claimed that, for instance, John 20 and Luke 24 support their position.

- And, more than that, show me that they were arguing in good faith when they did so.

Unless you can do this -- or something like it, over a significant doctrine and not just minutiae -- you have no ground to claim what is manifest presumption, that those who argued over Scripture all did so honestly, **EVEN** when tackling what we would call its clearest teachings.

Craig said...

I've been quite clear about answering your question when things slow down long enough to do so.

Bubba said...

Dan, that is one of the most obnoxious things about your position:

You apparently have more confidence about the internal and subjective mental states of everyone who ever picked up a Bible, than you do about the external and objective words in its page -- and in the past you have dared to accuse me of mind-reading!

Craig said...

Bubba
Just recently Dan accused MA and I of mind reading or something similar. In much the same way that he claims to speak for the entirety (or even majority) of the folks at the pride parade, he's now making similar claims here.

Anonymous said...



Guys, please stay on topic. Of course, I have not said anything like this.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

That should have contained Bubba's comment...

You apparently have more confidence about the internal and subjective mental states of everyone who ever picked up a Bible

I have never said anything like THAT.

~Dan

Bubba said...

You'll notice that I didn't say you said that, I didn't attribute it to you as a paraphrase, much less did I use quotation marks to indicate that I was quoting you directly, but you JUST SAID this...

"3. In spite of biblical clarity that nearly everyone agrees is reasonably clear, are humans of good faith about to disagree about just about every idea in the Bible?

"The answer, of course, is Yes, as has been demonstrated through the ages.
" [emphasis mine, somewhat different than my earlier emphasis]

...which I *DID* quote and address.

Your position is that disagreements about "just about every idea in the Bible" have taken place between and among "humans of good faith," when good faith IS INDEED A QUALITY REGARDING A PERSON'S INTERNAL AND SUBJECTIVE MENTAL STATE.

You not only answer your rhetorical question in the affirmative, you say, "OF COURSE" the answer is yes, implying not only a great deal of personal confidence on your part, but your confidence that the position is manifestly obvious to all.

And yet, at the same time, you have so little confidence about the text of the Bible that you deny that ANY of its teachings are clear beyond any reasonable doubt or good-faith disagreement, including the teaching that God exists.

"Is the Bible clear on God's existence?" On that question, the most I've ever seen you say is that it's clear "to you," you won't say that it's clear beyond any reasonable and honest disagreement, and you CERTAINLY wouldn't say, "Yes, OF COURSE, it's clear beyond any such disagreement."

No, you reserve such confident proclamations to PRECISELY the sort of thing I mention, the internal and subjective mental states of Bible readers "through the ages" (your words): "of course" they disagree in good faith on all sorts of things, you say, even demonstrably so -- or so you say but never even attempt to prove.

My comment is an entirely justifiable conclusion to draw from your words, and since it's a conclusion drawn from your statement about this central issue of the clarity of the Bible, my comment is entirely on-topic.

--

What it isn't, is complimentary, and I have little doubt about that being the real problem.

If some theologically radical, loony leftist had said something like what I did, but meant it as praise rather than condemnation...

"Wonderful, Dan, it really is gracious and loving and wise to be so confident about people's arguing in good faith, their internal and subjective mental states being demonstrably seen in the fact of their disagreements."

...I have little doubt that you would suggest the comment's off-topic, instead if you did reply, it would be only to graciously accept the praise. It would have been just fine to take your comment seriously, so long as I agreed.

It's people who take you at your word and then reject your statements, those are the ones that trouble you, and eventually your response is always the same, to denounce their disagreement as somehow illegitimate -- off-topic, personal attacks, slander, bearing false witness, or even gossip even though the comments are made in a venue you obviously frequent.

Apparently it's not demonstrably obvious that people can disagree with you, can do so quite strongly, and do so in good faith.

Dan Trabue said...

Your position is that disagreements about "just about every idea in the Bible" have taken place between and among "humans of good faith," when good faith IS INDEED A QUALITY REGARDING A PERSON'S INTERNAL AND SUBJECTIVE MENTAL STATE

My point was that people of good faith HAVE disagreed. I'm not saying that every person who has disagreed about just about everything had good faith, but that people of good faith have disagreed about just about everything.

Are you disputing that?

I mean, just within my own circles, I know that I and many of my friends once held to a Young Earth belief, to a Sola Scriptura belief, to anti-homosexuality beliefs, etc, etc, etc... and always in good faith. AND, I know that we now, in good faith disagree with those positions. I have no reason to assume that you all aren't truly believing what you say when you disagree with my interpretations. As a point of fact, people of good faith have disagreed about just about every possible topic/interpretation in the Bible.

Are you disagreeing with that? If so, based on what?

Dan Trabue said...

"OF COURSE" the answer is yes, implying not only a great deal of personal confidence on your part, but your confidence that the position is manifestly obvious to all.

See above. Being myself, I happen to know that I disagree with my own younger self on many topics, and on both ends, it was in good faith. So, yes, of course, I am speaking with a great deal of confidence. And I think that positions have disagreed with each other on just about every topic throughout history IS manifestly obvious to all.

Now, I can't prove who did and didn't disagree in good faith, but I have no reason to suspect that most who are disagreeing are not doing so in good faith. On what basis would I make that guess?

"Is the Bible clear on God's existence?" On that question, the most I've ever seen you say is that it's clear "to you," you won't say that it's clear beyond any reasonable and honest disagreement, and you CERTAINLY wouldn't say, "Yes, OF COURSE, it's clear beyond any such disagreement."

I have been quite clear (or tried to be) that the WORDS that are in the Bible are clearly in the Bible. IF anyone says, "The Bible does not contain stories where people teach about God as Creator..." they are flatly mistaken. The words are there and no one can dispute that the words are there. What they MEAN can and are regularly disputed and I have no reason to suspect that generally speaking, it's not in good faith.

The only hedging I've done is in attempt to distinguish between "The words are there that literally say... 'in the beginning, God...' (or whichever words you choose)" and "...and what those words MEAN is..." and offering a meaning.

I've tried to be very clear that the words literally say what they literally say. I don't think anyone disputes any of that and if they do, then that's just delusional. Do you know of people who dispute that the words are there? I don't.

But disputes about what those words mean, that happens and has happened throughout history.

Are you understanding what I'm saying? Because it sounds as if you're arguing against something I have not advocated.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Unless you can do this -- or something like it, over a significant doctrine and not just minutiae -- you have no ground to claim what is manifest presumption, that those who argued over Scripture all did so honestly, **EVEN** when tackling what we would call its clearest teachings.

Obviously, I cannot prove what dead people's intents were. So, to clarify, I'm saying I have NO reason to suspect that, generally speaking, people through the years who have disagreed about theological matters, have disagreed in bad faith.

For the Anabaptists, Jesus' pacifism has been quite clear and obvious and central to Christian life. It is amongst the clearest teachings. And yet, even when people like Calvin were killing or advocating the killing of anabaptists because they disagreed with their beliefs, I have no reason to guess that they weren't acting sincerely and in good faith.

In the book of Acts, when the followers themselves were disputing central doctrine of Christianity, they DID regularly disagree on main issues and I have no reason to guess that they were doing so in bad faith.

So, while I can't prove it, I also have no reason to doubt the reality of good faith disagreements even on serious, "obvious" topics.

Do you have any reason to insist upon it?

And what does any of this have to do with the point of my post?

Not angry or accusing, just respectfully asking, as it all seems to be off topic.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Unless you can do this -- or something like it, over a significant doctrine and not just minutiae -- you have no ground to claim what is manifest presumption, that those who argued over Scripture all did so honestly, **EVEN** when tackling what we would call its clearest teachings.

Obviously, I cannot prove what dead people's intents were. So, to clarify, I'm saying I have NO reason to suspect that, generally speaking, people through the years who have disagreed about theological matters, have disagreed in bad faith.

For the Anabaptists, Jesus' pacifism has been quite clear and obvious and central to Christian life. It is amongst the clearest teachings. And yet, even when people like Calvin were killing or advocating the killing of anabaptists because they disagreed with their beliefs, I have no reason to guess that they weren't acting sincerely and in good faith.

In the book of Acts, when the followers themselves were disputing central doctrine of Christianity, they DID regularly disagree on main issues and I have no reason to guess that they were doing so in bad faith.

So, while I can't prove it, I also have no reason to doubt the reality of good faith disagreements even on serious, "obvious" topics.

Do you have any reason to insist upon it?

And what does any of this have to do with the point of my post?

Not angry or accusing, just respectfully asking, as it all seems to be off topic.

Dan Trabue said...

And just because SOME teachings may be clear beyond all reasonable doubt and good faith disagreement, it simply DOES NOT follow that ALL teachings are thus clear.

"God exists."

"Jesus was raised bodily from the dead."


Is there anyone, any one at all, who is arguing that the Bible does not contain teachings as if God exists? That it does not contain teachings as if Jesus rose bodily from the dead?

I don't believe that anyone anywhere in all of history is making that claim. Do you?

Again, just to emphasize, the text says what it says and no one anywhere is disputing that. That would be like saying, "I dispute that Dan's car is a blue Honda Fit," when anyone can look at it and see that's just what it is. Observably real. Same for the text in the Bible. It literally says what it says. I'm not making the case that it doesn't.

I just don't see what this has to do with the point of my post.

Bubba said...

Dan,

In focusing on that comment, my point was simply that you made a claim that was far, far beyond what you could possibly prove, and you have done so in the specific context of your insisting on skepticism for anything that we cannot "prove demonstrably and objectively" (initial post), and in the general context of your habit of insisting on "data" and other evidence whenever anyone makes a claim that you find suspect.

"Obviously, I cannot prove what dead people's intents were."

Yes, OBVIOUSLY, and that is why you had no business saying that "of course" people disagreed on every possible subject about the Bible and "demonstrably" did so in good faith -- and a more accurate description of what you're doing now isn't "clarifying" an unclear assertion, it's CORRECTING a MISTAKEN assertion.

--

About the subject of these disagreements "through the ages," you seem to be making a few claims rolled up into a single argument, and I can tell you exactly where we part ways.

1. Individuals and groups of people have had serious and significant theological disagreements through the centuries -- I agree, and I would even stipulate that the claim is obvious even to any casual student of church history.

2. These people disagreed in good faith -- on this, I actually am willing to grant the benefit of the doubt, barring evidence to the contrary, even though this really is the sort of claim that cannot be "demonstrated" and is (as you now "clarify") obviously unprovable.

3. Even the most serious of these good-faith arguments were about the contents of the Bible -- more specifically, the 66 books of what has now been recognized as the canon. THIS IS OBVIOUS NONSENSE, and I reject it as false both on principle AND on the grounds of the historical evidence.

On principle, having studied the Bible, I am convinced that good-faith disagreements are possible on SOME subjects BUT NOT ALL SUBJECTS. On these latter subjects, the teachings of the Bible are so clear that they preclude any reasonable and good-faith disagreements.

On the historical evidence, NONE of the major theological disagreements within or involving the Christian church have been about the MEANING of the Bible's major teachings: instead, they have been about the text's **AUTHORITY**, not its contents.

I'll go through the list.

--

-Post-Christian Judaism. The Jews who were the first Christians CERTAINLY disagreed with their non-Christian Jewish neighbors on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the rabbi's claims and the followers' claims of the rabbi's resurrection. But THEY DID NOT DISAGREE either on the authority of Jewish Scripture *OR* on its major teachings such as the Shema and its claim of monotheism, as Jesus cited Deut 6:4 (see Mark 12:29) and He and His apostles alluded to its central claim (John 17:3, I Cor 8:4).

And while, obviously, they disagreed on whether Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, they DID NOT disagree on the broad strokes of those prophecies, as the only new teaching was the Christian claims on the details and nuances of how Jesus did and would fulfill them:

- Everyone knew about the royal Son of David and Isaiah's Suffering Servant, but nobody expected them to be the same person.

- Everyone expected Daniel's Son of Man to arrive in power, but they expected this as His one-and-only coming, not a Second Coming that followed the first arrival (again, as the Suffering Servant).

In comparison to where they agreed on Jewish Scripture, the disagreements were minor.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

-The Christian heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics denied key and essential doctrines like the bodily resurrection, but it's not as if they argued from the canonical Scriptures to reach their conclusions. Instead, they had the Gospel of Thomas and other pseudo-gospels.

(You might notice that I VERY SPECIFICALLY asked you to show that Gnostics argued against the bodily Resurrection FROM THE BIBLICAL TEXT, from passages like John 20 and Luke 24. I did so because they did no such thing, and they couldn't have, because the bodily resurrection is quite clear from those passages.)

-Islam. Muslims have always denied the deity of Jesus, and even beyond Jesus' resurrection, they deny the prior crucifixion as well, but they DO NOT argue their claims from the New Testament. On the contrary, they claim that the NT is corrupt and therefore not authoritative, and as a substitute they point to the Koran as the supreme and authoritative revelation of God through Mohammed, whom they believe is God's final prophet.

-The Protestant Reformation. The key argument wasn't about the contents of the Bible, it was its authority. The Roman Catholic church insisted (and still insists) that capital-T Tradition is just as authoritative, and by that they mean the church hierarchy and especially the Pope has the unique authority to interpret Scripture and to declare doctrine. The Reformers insisted that the Bible is uniquely authoritative, in an apparently little-known doctrine called sola scriptura.

Some of the issues that were being fought over so clearly weren't in the Bible -- such as prayers for the dead -- that, in the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic church canonized part of the Jewish Apocrypha that had ONLY been considered useful but NEVER canonical and authoritative either by Jews or by Christians; they canonized ONLY those apocryphal books that substantiated the Roman Catholic position, and I think it's actually reasonable to question the motives of this supposedly infallible declaration.

-The Christian heresy of deism. Deists believe, roughly, in a kind of watchmaker deity who created the universe, set it in motion, and left it alone; for this reason, they deny special revelation and ESPECIALLY the historicity of miracles. But deists like Thomas Jefferson didn't actually argue that the Bible as-written supported his position -- to do so would have been absurd -- instead he picked out the ethical teachings he liked and discarded the rest to create what we call the Jefferson Bible. He knew very well that the Bible's teachings included the claim that God performed miracles, and he rejected the authority and truthfulness of this claim rather than its clarity.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

-Mormons. In very broad strokes, they say the same thing as the Muslims: the Bible's contents have been corrupted, God subsequently sent a prophet to set the record straight, and now we have an additional -- and more authoritative -- text to supersede the Bible as-written.

-Post-Christian humanists. Finally, the theological radicals who are most honest do not pretend that the Bible is unclear, much less that it teaches something other that what the church has affirmed for literal millennia. Instead, the Jesus Seminar marks as dubious teachings that the NT attributes to Jesus -- for such absurd reasons like the premise that the Jewish founder of Christianity wouldn't actually say anything that sounded Jewish or Christian -- and they conclude that the writers embellished Jesus' life and teachings for dishonorable reasons, to make a theological point or to make the new faith more attractive to converts.

(Some aren't intellectually honest. When John Crossan claims that the NT writers intended the miracles of Jesus to be understood as ahistorical parables -- this, despite Luke's claim of careful research, John's claim of being a trustworthy witness, and Paul's list of witnesses to the Resurrection and claim that our faith is in vain without it -- I do not hesitate to draw the obvious conclusion and say it out loud. John Crossan is full of shit.)

--

In all of these cases -- ALL OF THEM -- the issue was the Bible's authority, the question of whether its teachings were truthful and trustworthy. NONE OF THEM were about the clarity of its teachings.

In broad strokes, the Bible says what it says, and people may well have been acting in good faith when they rejected its claims as false, but they didn't argue over the claims as if they were unclear.

Bubba said...

Dan, you say something similar to what I wrote at the end of that list, that people didn't argue over the Bible's major teachings as if they were unclear.

You write:

"Is there anyone, any one at all, who is arguing that the Bible does not contain teachings as if God exists? That it does not contain teachings as if Jesus rose bodily from the dead?

"I don't believe that anyone anywhere in all of history is making that claim. Do you?
"

NO, I DO NOT -- but, first, I would say that it's *STILL* inadequate to state that the Bible contains teachings "as if God exists" or "as if Jesus rose bodily from the dead." It contains teachings THAT God exists and THAT Jesus rose: the existence of God and the historicity of the bodily Resurrection are two of the teachings that the Bible contains.

But, no, I'm not aware of anyone making the claim, I doubt anyone WOULD make the claim, and I believe the Bible is so abundantly clear on both subjects that no one COULD make the claim and do so reasonably and honestly.

I'm glad to see we're (close to being) on the same page here, but this *DOES* impose a limit on what you wrote just two comments prior.

About the biblical text, you had written, "disputes about what those words mean, that happens and has happened throughout history." [emphasis in original]

Indeed, but there are obvious limits on the extent of those disputes, in order for us to extend to both parties the benefit of the doubt regarding things like their knowledge, reasonableness, and intellectual honesty.

THOSE GOOD-FAITH DISAGREEMENTS ARE LIMITED TO TEACHINGS WHERE THE BIBLE ISN'T ABUNDANTLY CLEAR, but since the Bible **IS** indeed perfectly clear on some teachings, such as (once again) the existence of God and the historicity of the bodily Resurrection, there CANNOT be **UNLIMITED** good-faith disagreements about what those words mean.

THAT has been my point -- that, and the consequence that, because some teachings ARE clear beyond any reasonable doubt or good-faith disagreement, it's no sin to question the reason or honesty, NOT merely of those who reject the truth of those teachings, but those who claim the patently absurd, that the Bible teaches something else entirely.

Bubba said...

Dan, to address the examples you brought up:

About Acts, I don't believe there were that many recorded disputes, or that there actually was a dispute about what Scripture means, which at that time meant the Old Testament; there wasn't even a dispute about what Jesus taught, so far as I can tell.

The major dispute was over Gentile circumcision, the symbolism of which meant that Gentiles had to convert to Judaism. In the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15, James appeals to Amos 9:11-12, but nobody actually disputes the conclusion he draws from it.

There was NO apparent disagreement over what Jewish Scripture taught -- to wit, that the covenant to Abraham required the mark of circumcision. What was in question was whether this requirement extended to the new covenant that was promised in Jeremiah 31 and inaugurated by Jesus. That question wasn't answered in Jewish Scripture, it was answered in the church's immediate experience of circumcision's inadequacy and of God's gracious inclusion of Gentiles through giving the Holy Spirit without distinction between Jew and Gentile.

About pacifism, YES, that's about the contents of Scripture, but even though it is a serious issue for any Christian facing wartime, the teachings that arguably involve pacifism are NOT significant in comparison to (again) theism and the Resurrection.

I honestly think the biblical case for pacifism is pretty weak. Matthew 5 plausibly commands one of perhaps only three positions...

1. Non-resistance at the personal level.
2. Non-violence at the personal level, which would permit non-violent resistance.
3. Non-violence at the political level, i.e. pacifism in which Christians don't serve as soldiers and nations with Christian populations do not wage war.

...and #2 and #3 seem much weaker than #1, for a few reasons.

- "Turn the other cheek" is only one example of a broader command not to resist an evildoer, and that broader command precludes non-violent resistance.

- Since the entire point of the Sermon on the Mount is holiness -- be perfect as your Father is perfect -- it seems very unlikely that Jesus would turn from the prohibitions of lust, hate, and equivocation to advocate a clever way of advancing one's agenda non-violently.

- And since the point is personal holiness -- with instruction on prayer and almsgiving, sexual purity, and loving your enemies -- it's even more unlikely that Jesus would interject a digression on politics into what is clearly NOT a political manifesto.

I think the case is weak, but it's not so weak that mature and faithful Christians cannot possibly disagree in good faith.

[to be concluded]

Bubba said...

[wrapping up]

About homosexuality, well, that's another subject entirely. The arguments that dismiss the OT prohibitions tend not to follow the NT approach to the old covenant, where dietary restrictions were waived while sexual purity was emphasized and even strengthened; the arguments about Paul tend not to examine his argument or the Greek text very closely; and ultimately the case for homosexuality cannot overcome the obviously implications of what Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 19.

As with Jesus' teachings regarding the lasting authority and divine authorship of Scripture, and as with Jesus' teachings regarding the necessity of His death and its causal connection to our forgiveness, I have **NEVER** seen you tackle Matthew 19:5, much less do so seriously. Rather, it took far too long just to get you to regurgitate Jesus' stated reason for why God made us male and female, and that suggests that you know the implications of what He taught and are loath to deal with them.

I know the broadest strokes of your story of how you changed your mind on homosexuality through careful and prayerful Bible study, but you never fill in the details to explain exactly what passage convinced you that God blesses homosexual relationships: I believe you don't because you can't (we both know no such passage exists), and I think the noticeable gaps in your account are material omissions.

In short, I disagree with you both on your belief that the Bible requires pacifism AND on your belief that the Bible permits homosexual relationships, but I don't believe I have EVER questioned your character because of the former, it's only the latter where I can no longer extend you the benefit of the doubt that you're arguing in good faith.

- God made us male and female so that a man would become one flesh with His wife.

- This teaching is NOT as central to Christian orthodoxy as the existence of God or the historicity of the bodily Resurrection.

- But I believe the teaching *IS* clear enough to preclude reasonable, good-faith disagreements on homosexuality, at least between mature, faithful Christians who actually do study the Bible.

- And, I believe you personally have exhibited enough dishonesty on this AND some other subjects that I believe I am justified to call your character into question.

- And, returning to this issue of the clarity of the Bible, it does seem you downplay its clarity out of, at best, a misguided effort to avoid excessive conclusions being drawn by others -- and, at worst, self-interest in preempting criticism -- and that neither ulterior motive is intellectually honest.

At one point I did try to extend you every reasonable benefit of the doubt, but that was because I did not think I had sufficient reason to do otherwise, and our subsequent conversations over the years has given me ample reason to question your character -- and AGAIN I question your character because I take for granted your obvious intelligence and sanity, and I do NOT think you're inarticulate, a literal idiot, or one who suffers serious mental illness.

And I object to many of your positions AND how you argue for them, not out of personal animosity, but because I do not think a positive or even a neutral response is consistent with a firm commitment to God and His revealed word.

At a certain point, it became clear to me that I could not humor you and honor God simultaneously, and I chose the obvious option.

That's really about all I have to say; I appreciate the leeway to say it here, much as I know you understandably disagree with a lot of it.

Dan Trabue said...

To address the mostly off topic comments in the last part of what you said... whatever your opinion may be, there has been no dishonesty on my part. I could be mistaken, I could be wrong, I could have not expressed myself well enough, I could have not been patient enough... but I have not been dishonest in anything I have said. I have the advantage of being myself and knowing my intentions so I can tell you that this is a fact whether you believe it or not.

As to your question about what convinced me in my Bible study and prayer to change my position on homosexuality I have indeed covered it all before but in short...

Once I realized the Bible has zero language condemning any and all gay behavior that was the first step.

From there knowing passages like the ones that affirm the good, the true, pure, loving, noble etc, and seeing that marriage is all those things - whether gay or straight - why wouldn't I support it?

It's like if the Bible nowhere condemns volleyball and I can see on the face of it that volleyball promotes health and fun and community why wouldn't I support that? It's just like that.

Dan Trabue said...

Following up on the off-topic "dishonesty" question... Is it the case that you assess me to be dishonest simply because you can't imagine someone - especially a conservative who was firmly convinced (absolutely, even) on the immoral nature of homosexuality - to suddenly come to the conclusion that what he had been convinced the Bible said condemning any and all homosexuality... That, instead, he was mistaken about it all? Because that's demostrable., you could check with close conservative friends and it could be confirmed. Or on what point do you think I'm being dishonest?

Dan Trabue said...

As to early church disagreements, they certainly disagreed about how to interpret at least two Old Testament rules... Circumcision and eating certain foods. Some interpreted those Old Testament teachings to be Universal and they should keep abiding by them, others suggested they were not Universal. Like now, no one disputes the rules are literally there in Scripture... The question is are they Universal rules and why should we take them that way? And yes the early church disagreed about this and I have no reason to think they didn't disagree in good faith.

Throughout history the church disagree on many Bible questions... I have no reason to think that, by and large, they were not disagreeing in good faith. That's all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

OBVIOUSLY, and that is why you had no business saying that "of course" people disagreed on every possible subject about the Bible and "demonstrably" did so in good faith -- and a more accurate description of what you're doing now isn't "clarifying" an unclear assertion, it's CORRECTING a MISTAKEN assertion.

As clarified above, I have no reason to think that most people who, over the years have disagreed about all manner of biblical interpretations do so in good faith. That is a clarification, not a mistaken assertion. I STILL think "of course," that Christians have disagreed about an unlimited variety of biblical (and non-biblical) questions and "obviously," I have no reason to think they are doing so in good faith. It is "demonstrable" that it happens today, we can check people's stories and assess reasonably that, by and large, there is no indication of bad faith arguing. It is demonstrable in that I personally have held opposite views on important questions and did so at all times in good faith.

To clarify that mistake, respectfully.

Bubba...

On principle, having studied the Bible, I am convinced that good-faith disagreements are possible on SOME subjects BUT NOT ALL SUBJECTS.

And I come back to the main question: On what basis are you "convinced" of this and is there any reason to insist that you and only you are correct in being so convinced? Also, which subjects can there be no good-faith disagreements on? On whose authority would we conclude that?

Is there any reason to think you are objectively and demonstrably correct in this conviction, or is it just a statement of your opinion? (Which is fine, there's nothing wrong with you holding that opinion, I'm just clarifying.)

Beyond that, I don't see how all this discussion on who has disagreed about what has to do with the question I'm asking, the point I'm making. Which remains...

Do we have any reason to insist that we can have perfect knowledge, that we can be absolutely confident that we can't be mistaken in our opinion on SOME topics in the Bible/some interpretations of the Bible?

I'm NOT disagreeing that where the Bible says "In the beginning, God..." that it doesn't say what it literally says. I'm saying that once we have moved from "The text literally says this..." to "...and that means that God SAYS that..." that we have moved from what is demonstrably factual to an unprovable opinion.

Once we have moved to an unprovable opinion, on what basis would we suggest that one side or the other has perfect knowledge of the topic/can be objectively "absolutely confident" in their opinion?

If we say, "Because that's literally what the text means...!" then the obvious question is, "On whose authority can you say that is what it means?"

If you respond, "because that's the only possible good faith conclusion!" the obvious question is, "on whose authority can you say that is the only possible good faith conclusion?"

In all you've written (and again, thanks for your respectful thoughts), I still do not see an answer to this primary and vital question.

Do you think you have answered it and if so, where?

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

THOSE GOOD-FAITH DISAGREEMENTS ARE LIMITED TO TEACHINGS WHERE THE BIBLE ISN'T ABUNDANTLY CLEAR, but since the Bible **IS** indeed perfectly clear on some teachings, such as (once again) the existence of God and the historicity of the bodily Resurrection, there CANNOT be **UNLIMITED** good-faith disagreements about what those words mean.

Why not? Says who? On whose authority?

And once again, when we are talking about the literal text, then there can be no dispute... it either does or doesn't say what it says. As far as I know, no one disputes the words that are there.

BUT, when we move to "are those words actually there?" to "What do those words mean?" THEN we can and do have good faith disagreements.

What do those words mean?

According to whom?

What do those words mean?

In whose opinion?

What do those words mean?

On what authority?

Once we're dealing with question of meaning, then we have human opinion.

Once we have human opinion on unprovable topics, then we have room for reasonable, good-faith disagreements. And aside from that (and to the topic of the post), we have reason to say, "I have no authoritative grounds to insist MY interpretation is the objectively factually correct, absolutely so..." We may have very good grounds for saying, "This interpretation is exceedingly reasonable..." but not "I can not be mistaken..."

Or, if so, how so? On whose authority?

Respectfully,

Dan

Bubba said...

[continued]

3. And even if you are strictly accurate about what you say regarding the Bible's teachings on gay behavior and on marriage, you not only omit important-but-inconvenient facts about the Bible on these issues, you also completely ignore an issue that is not only related but is crucial to understanding the entire subject -- namely, God's revealed will for human sexuality.

With extremely rare exceptions based on genetics (X and XXY hermaphrodites), each and every human being is either male or female.

The Bible is quite clear that God made us male and female -- and that, unlike the ethnic groups that resulted from Babel, our being male and female precedes the Fall and was part of God's original plan for mankind.

The Bible is also clear in Genesis 2, in a passage that Jesus and the NT writers together quote multiple times, that, because God made us male and female, a man (male) shall leave his family and become one flesh with his wife (female).

This teaching explains the other teachings, Dan, and thus it cannot be honestly ignored.

Marriage is good, but why is it good? Because God created us for marriage, making us male and female so a man would become one flesh with his wife.

The Bible condemns some/all categories of homosexual acts, but why would God condemn these behaviors? Again, because God made us male and female so a man would become one flesh with his wife.

That principle tells us that, even if the Bible (implausibly) only condemns some homosexual acts outright, ALL such acts are outside the plan for why God created us male and female.

--

In short, you're guilty of material omissions, and I don't believe I've ever seen you acknowledge that material omissions are misleading and therefore immoral -- that a half-truth can be just as dishonest as an outright lie.

There's a reason why witnesses take an oath, not only to tell nothing but the truth, but to tell the whole truth.

Dan, it seems to me that your arguments are the result more of an effort to make the best possible case for your position than an honest attempt to understand and accept all of the Bible's teachings. I could commend you for being a persistent and perhaps even a clever advocate for your causes, but I don't believe you're being an intellectually honest and faithful disciple of Jesus and, with Him, the Prophets He endorsed and the Apostles He commissioned.

You're like the Pravda reporter who would announce that, in some grand athletic competition, the glorious Soviet Union came in second place and the decadent United States finished next-to-last...

...but who failed to mention that it was a two-man race.

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

And, returning to this issue of the clarity of the Bible, it does seem you downplay its clarity out of, at best, a misguided effort to avoid excessive conclusions being drawn by others -- and, at worst, self-interest in preempting criticism -- and that neither ulterior motive is intellectually honest.

I have repeatedly stated that I think the Bible and morality are generally understandable and pretty clear. When Jesus speaks of living simply, blessed are you who are poor, not storing up treasures, of identifying with the poor and marginalized, he was speaking of bewaring the dangers of wealth and generally advocating simple lifestyle in community. That is clear to me. When Genesis speaks of "in the beginning" it is using figurative language, not using literal history storytelling. That is clear to me. On point after point, I think the Bible is pretty darn clear.

Similarly, conservatives have often thought the Bible is very clear (even to the point of saying that they can't be mistaken on at least some points).

So, when I acknowledge the reality that, despite all "sides" thinking the Bible is abundantly clear on many topics, nonetheless, people of apparent good faith come to opposite conclusions, despite that clarity... then I'm NOT saying the Bible isn't clear. I'm just acknowledging the reality that, in spite of the apparent clarity, people of good faith still manage to disagree. I'm just acknowledging reality.

There is nothing dishonest in that, right?

There is no "ulterior motive" in acknowledging reality, right? I don't know what else you're advocating for? Reaching the conclusion that, if I think the Bible is perfectly clear on a given point and someone disagrees with me on that point, to assume that they're arguing in bad faith? Why would I do that? Or what are you suggesting? I honestly don't know what else to do but acknowledge the reality of disagreement.

Respectfully,

Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

It's a passage that, so far as I know, you have never substantively engaged. It took far too long for me to get you even to quote the passage as Jesus' stated reason for why God made us male and female

You're still arguing the "good faith" thing and not the On what authority would you claim to have perfect knowledge thing. Will you be addressing that at some point?

To deal with your comment... I haven't engaged it as it relates to gay folk marrying for the exact same reason I have not engaged the verse about how languages came to be at the tower of Babel... it really has nothing to do with the topic.

I get that YOU hold the opinion that "the reason" God created male and female was so they could marry and presumably, this is all marriage can therefore be. I do not share that interpretation of either the Genesis or the Matthew passage.

In Genesis, the point is a mythic explanation of how men and women came to be and how marriage came to be. Sort of cool and perhaps meaningful, in the same sense of "how the leopard got its spots" myth is, but not a God-approved definition of marriage.

In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and the problem of divorce (I and others think) specifically and directly as it relates to the oppression of women and, by extension, of human rights. It is not speaking of a God-approved definition of marriage or an exclusion of gays from being married.

Now, I get that you disagree with that interpretation/understanding, but please understand, I too, disagree with your interpretation/understanding. On what basis would you expect me to hold on to your opinion if I disagree with it?

As to the Bible never mentioning gay folk getting married and only speaks of marriage in terms of men marrying one or more women, yes, I know that. But what of it? It never speaks of liberty for slaves or of drunk driving rules or equal rights for women (not directly, anyway). I don't mention it because I simply don't see it as germane to the question. Why should I?

I'm serious, why should I agree with you when I think you are mistaken? It's a reasonable question, right?

This teaching explains the other teachings, Dan, and thus it cannot be honestly ignored.

Not ignoring it. I disagree with your take on it. See the difference?

~Dan

Bubba said...

From my phone: posts apparently being lost again from this PC, would appreciate your re-posting part 1 of that 2-part comment.

Will comment again later, from a different PC, but might be early next week until I have the opportunity.

I WILL post a substantive repky, but it may be a few days.

Craig said...

While I now understand the attraction of removing Genesis from the realm of real space/time, I still fail to see any mandate to do so.

It's clear that the words "In the beginning God created..." are recorded in the text, but for some reason it's not clear that they actually mean "In the beginning God created...", by what interpretive method does one deduce that the words must be taken as figurative.

There is nothing in the text or context which demands or even suggests any reason to take anything as figurative. Yet, the assertion is made that it is.

The answer, of course, is that it just "sounds like myth", no deep textural study or annoying referring to anything specific, just "sounds like myth". Also we'll hear about how history wasn't recorded that way until sometime during the thousand year period between 500BC and 500AD, Which ignores the fact that the Chinese (among others) were quite scrupulous about accurately recording history during the "nobody was doing it" period.

So that leaves us with the why must we question unanswered.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Your responses only lend credence to charges of dishonesty and bad faith discourse. To any response by an opponent, you answer with "by what authority", "on what basis" and "sez who?" This can be employed at any time, but doing so ALL the time denotes evasion and deflection of obligation with regards to defending the positions you hold. Arguing over the meaning of words, sentences and full passages is deceitful if you're never going to provide any evidence whatsoever to show why an alternative meaning (which you aren't quick to supply, either) is even possible, much less likely. Look at one of your final comments:

"As to the Bible never mentioning gay folk getting married and only speaks of marriage in terms of men marrying one or more women, yes, I know that. But what of it? It never speaks of liberty for slaves or of drunk driving rules or equal rights for women (not directly, anyway). I don't mention it because I simply don't see it as germane to the question. Why should I?"

How can possibly NOT be germane to the question when the question involves and depends upon what "marriage" actually means? In order to suppose there is any Scriptural support for your position, there must be some evidence to support the suggestion that Scripture, or any Biblical character within it, including Christ/God, suggests a meaning other than one man/one woman (appeals to polygamy do NOT resolve this in any way). At the same time, ALL references to marriage and family do in fact refer to that long-held and universally understood definition.

But you cheaply ignore it all with lame references to "my opinion" or "I don't see it that way" (no kidding)... and now, "not germane".

To claim "good faith" requires a bit more than totally subjective and self-serving dodges as those referred to above.

Also, your appeals to those we will never meet in order to validate your claim of past conservatism mean nothing whatsoever, and requires that we assume even they understand what a conservative Christian philosophy means. It goes a bit beyond merely stating the homosexuality is indeed sinful behavior. Your friends could only, at best, confirm that you once opposed it. They could not prove you had any true understanding of why or of what traditional Christianity truly is. Nothing you've ever posted suggests you have a sound notion of conservatism, either Christian or political, now.

I don't think I can recall anyone suggesting that you must agree with anyone's take on any part of Scripture. All anyone has ever hoped for is that you actually explain why you believe differently. Saying that prayer and serious study led to your position doesn't do anything to explain your differing positions in the least, as I wouldn't expect that anyone should accept that worthless response from me. As you demand "hard data" for what you refer to as mere hunches from others, when do we get to see anything that resembles "hard data" from you?

Anonymous said...

by what interpretive method does one deduce that the words must be taken as figurative.

There is nothing in the text or context which demands or even suggests any reason to take anything as figurative. Yet, the assertion is made that it is.

The answer, of course, is that it just "sounds like myth


You may not find anything in the text that suggests figurative. Many people, as a point of fact, do. To the point of the post, do you suggest that your opinions on what genre Genesis is written in is a fact which you know with perfect knowledge or is it an opinion?

So that leaves us with the why must we question unanswered.

It what?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

To any response by an opponent, you answer with "by what authority", "on what basis" and "sez who?" This can be employed at any time, but doing so ALL the time denotes evasion and deflection of obligation with regards to defending the positions you hold.

Marshall, do you have anything to say on topic?

IF someone is making a fact claim about an unprovable topic, saying that, while there are differing interpretations on a text, THEY are the ones who have perfect knowledge on a given topic and know with absolute certainty that they are right.

The only reasonable question in response to such claims is, "Says who? On what authority?" Surely you can agree that we should not just accept someone's claim on their say so, because they said it, right? So, IF you're going to make a fact claim, you should be prepared to support it.

Do you have anything to say to that, which is the topic?

OFF topic, you say...

How can possibly NOT be germane to the question when the question involves and depends upon what "marriage" actually means? In order to suppose there is any Scriptural support for your position, there must be some evidence to support the suggestion that Scripture, or any Biblical character within it, including Christ/God, suggests a meaning other than one man/one woman

I have explained the biblical problem. IF one says, "Genesis 2, therefore, God defined marriage and that definition and ONLY that definition is what marriage is, for now and forever..." that is not a rationally supportable claim. THAT is support for my position. To say, "I don't think that text means what meaning your putting into it" IS an explanation. What else would you have me do? Point to all the places in the Bible that say, "No, Marshall, that isn't what Genesis 2 means..."? That of course is not in the Bible, any more than there is "biblical support" for insisting that it IS what it means.

In the Matthew location, Jesus is clearly speaking about divorce and the injustice it puts on women. In the text, it literally is not striving to give a specific universal definition for marriage, it is literally dealing with this injustice problem. Therefore, I do not support the hunch of those who say this IS definitively giving "God's definition for marriage." That is your opinion and you can't support it or prove it. I don't accept your opinion.

What else do you want me to do?

IF you are making the claim that, as a point of fact, God defines marriage as one man one woman and thus, two guys marrying is not what God wants, then the onus is on you to prove that fact claim. If you can't prove the fact claim and it seems obtuse and immoral and unjust on the face of it, then we must reject it.

I can do no other.

~Dan

Craig said...

Sorry, auto correct.

That leaves the "why must we accept it as myth" question unanswered.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to. Just accept that others take it as myth. I'm not insisting that I have perfect knowledge on this point. It's a reasonable position to take, seems to me, and Genesis as literal history is less reasonable, to me. But if that works for you, that's fine.

BUT, if you want to insist (not saying you are) that you hold perfect knowledge and know absolutely that Genesis is literal history, then you should be able to explain why anyone should go along with your opinion and why it's a "fact," or why you can't be mistaken.

Fair enough?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

I forget what I was saying, but I just had an auto-correct moment that translated my words to "bite the bottom..."! Oh, auto-correct!

~Dan

Craig said...

To the point of the post, I wouldn't suggest that my opinions should be accepted uncritically as fact. If my opinion aligns with fact, then my stating of that fact isn't my opinion it's the stating of a fact.

This still avoids the question of why either the text or context demands that one take the text and figurative. This still avoids the fact that yu act and write as if the mythic Genesis is fact, yet retreat behind claims of opinion when pressed.

So again, what is it in the statement "In the beginning God created.." that demands that it be taken as anything other than its clear meaning. What in that even makes a figurative interpretation more likely.

I realize that an a priori commitment that relegates miracles or the supernatural to the genre of myth, is one answer but it's really not the only answer.

I get that you hold an opinion that is held by a small minority, but just as the existence of disagreement doesn't validate or equalize all disagreement the existence of a minority opinion doesn't validate that opinion.

Anonymous said...

This still avoids the question of why either the text or context demands that one take the text and figurative.

I've always been quite clear that this is MY opinion. It is a very reasonable one and if, as it seems to me based on what I know (which admittedly is not everything) a. people didn't pass on literal history back then, b. the tropes found in Genesis that sound like other myths indicate that it was written mythically, c. science would dictate against a literal interpretation of at least parts of Genesis... then it is a very reasonable conclusion.

So, I myself would not insist that the text "demands" it. I would say the case against a literal interpretation is too slight and the case in favor of figurative is very strong. Do with that what you will, but it is not a "demand" as if I have absolute and perfect knowledge on the topic. Keep in mind: I'm arguing against the perfect knowledge theory on unprovable matters.

This still avoids the fact that yu act and write as if the mythic Genesis is fact, yet retreat behind claims of opinion when pressed.

As I've said all along, that we can't prove something as a fact does not mean that I think all opinions are equally valid. I think the evidence for a mythic Genesis is quite compelling and I will state so. But it IS an opinion. I'm not hiding behind it, that's just reality.

So again, what is it in the statement "In the beginning God created.." that demands that it be taken as anything other than its clear meaning. What in that even makes a figurative interpretation more likely.

Just those five words? Well, one mythic trope is beginning a story "In the Beginning" or "long, long ago when the world began" or other similar words. So, right off the bat, it sounds mythic, as compared to other myths (which is what I mean by "Sounds mythic...") And again, I'm not demanding. I'm not arguing that I hold perfect knowledge on some points. I've been quite clear on that.

But we have more than just those five words. We have a complete creation story that reads like other mythic creation stories. We have disagreeing creation stories. We have creation stories that don't sound plausible from a scientific point of view. We have other "How this came to be..." stories like "and that is why the serpent lost his legs..." and "and that is how we came to have many languages..." etc, that sound like other myths/legends. The explaining of beginnings IS a mythic trope. We have stories like the flood account for which there is no scientific or archeological record and which is an impossibility if scientific principles are correct (where did the water come from? Where did it go? There's not enough water on earth to flood the whole earth... etc)

We have many reasons, given the text and context and what we know to doubt a literal history interpretation and to believe a mythic one is reasonable. Does this make no sense to you?

I get that you hold an opinion that is held by a small minority

What opinion do I hold that is held by a small minority? I think on the Genesis question that this is largely settled and a literal history is dismissed as unbelievable by the vast majority (although I don't know that for sure... it's a guess...)

And what does any of this have to do with the Perfect Knowledge Theory, other than pointing out holes in it?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap! This is embarrassing!

" Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years."

"While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree."


http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

Holy crap. Holy crap.

Well, the good news is that I'm not in a tiny minority but holy crap! Those numbers are way too high for the creationist side!

Of course, that's only in the US, but still.

Look, I don't care if some people hold to a creationist view (as I once did) or a more literal interpretation of Genesis. My only point is that this interpretation is their opinion, not a fact that they can "know" with "absolute confidence" (and indeed, the facts weigh against them...) Live and let live, I say. I just expect the same grace to be extended our way.

~Dan

Craig said...

A. Except for the fact that some cultures did pass on literal history back then.

B. "Sounds like" is now considered compelling evidence.

C. Of course this is based on your presumption that the only possible way to read Genesis literally is with a six 24 hour day creation, despite the multitude of folks who don't do so. Of course that also ignores the areas where science doesn't disagree with Genesis.

I guess it's reassuring to know that you just managed to guess that your position is the "settled" position. Interesting that you've just made the move from "my opinion" to "settled position". I'd guess if you'd guess is right and the issue is "settled" then there might be more evidence than "sounds like".

What it "sounds like" to me is that you've just decided that any supernatural elements or miracles are to be dismissed out of hand based on an a priori commitment to a naturalistic explanation while excluding any other possible explanation.

Of course the problem of a credible alternate interpretation is still there as well.

As far as I can see not only have you not "poked holes" in anything (rhetorical questions and assumptions hardly "poke holes"), you really haven't even offered anything concrete or objective to do so.

Craig said...

Holy crap, Dan's wrong about something. Holy crap, now a Gallup poll is the source of all that is worth knowing.
Holy crap, now Truth is decided by a 51% majority.
Holy crap, let's limit the data we cherry pick to make things look "better" for our unproven opinion.

Holy crap!

Dan Trabue said...

A. Please point to a source.

B. Yes, when you're doing literary criticism, how a piece of writing sounds or reads IS evidence. If the writing contains rhyming couplets and a fantastical talking cat wearing a hat doing magic things, then it probably IS figurative poetry, not a biology book. It sounds like... it reads like figurative. So yes, how something sounds is a starting point or literary criticism.

C. I pointed to several observable problems and taking Genesis is literal history. I am well aware that there are old Earth creationists. That does not solve the problem of Magic Water that is absent in hard data, for instance.

Dan Trabue said...

Will you be answering questions, Craig? I asked, for instance, what tiny minority you were speaking of?

I asked what this line the points has to do with the perfect knowledge Theory?

Do you support a perfect partial knowledge Theory?

Thanks.

Craig said...

A. I've provided sources to this before, I'll try to do so again. I suspect you'll just ignore the sources this time as well

B. It's one factor, not the only factor. The problem is Genesis isn't poetry and since it sounds like the relating of a story that happened, so "sounds like" isn't nearly as defitive as you'd like to pretend it is.

C. I notice how you just can't bring yourself to admit that the existence of things outside of your naturalistic presupposition, could be anything but myth. I also note that you choose to ignore the presence of old earth folks in making your claims. Anything to make your opponents look foolish in your eyes.

Are you making a claim of objective fact that the amount of water on planet earth is the same amount it has always been?

The tiny minority that hold the opinion that Genesis is myth.

When you bring up disagreements about the nature of Genesis, do you suppose that excludes them from comment. Do you think we should just accept your opinions.

It think it's reasonable and logical.

Marshall Art said...

"The only reasonable question in response to such claims is, "Says who? On what authority?" Surely you can agree that we should not just accept someone's claim on their say so, because they said it, right? So, IF you're going to make a fact claim, you should be prepared to support it."

The point I was making is that it wouldn't matter, because with you, it never does. "By what authority?/One what basis?/Sez who?" is what you ask to avoid having to accept what is give to support the contention made. Indeed, when authority is given, when a basis is provided, when we refer to who said what, it still isn't enough if it means you're unable or unwilling to concede.

Conversely, you avoid your obligation to return in kind by claiming it's only your opinion, as if that is even a point of contention. To us (or even to just me) it's a given. I frankly don't care if what you put forth is opinion or an assertion of absolute truth. I'm trying to get at YOUR evidence/hard data/authority/basis for whatever it is you're trying to assert, which is generally that you just don't agree with me/us.

As to on or off topic, we're talking about knowledge and what can be known, are we not? All of what I've said goes to that topic directly or implicitly.

"IF one says, "Genesis 2, therefore, God defined marriage and that definition and ONLY that definition is what marriage is, for now and forever..." that is not a rationally supportable claim. THAT is support for my position."

So to you, mere denial constitutes support for a claim? Nowhere else would that come close to being true.

"To say, "I don't think that text means what meaning your putting into it" IS an explanation."

In what world? To normal people, it amounts to no better than an intro to the explanation that would/should follow. In and of itself it explains absolutely nothing, but that you disagree, which again, isn't a point of contention. So what would I have you do? I'd have you explain WHY you don't think the text means what you claim I'm merely "putting into it". I'd have you explain what you would say the text does mean and then explain why you so believe, which would entail some form of evidence or "hard data" to support the alternative contention.

"That of course is not in the Bible, any more than there is "biblical support" for insisting that it IS what it means."

Nonsense. With regards to the definition of marriage, the Biblical support is in every reference to marriage and family that depicts a man/woman union. That is to say, that ALL references to marriage and family depicts marriage in this manner. Allusions to marriage such as God/Israel, Christ/His church, all use a man/woman, husband/bride analogy. There is no other depiction of marriage in Scripture that is anything other than man/woman union.

Marshall Art said...

"In the Matthew location, Jesus is clearly speaking about divorce and the injustice it puts on women. In the text, it literally is not striving to give a specific universal definition for marriage, it is literally dealing with this injustice problem."

This is absurd. To suggest the Pharisees asked the question out of concern for women, as opposed to trying to trap Jesus as Matt 19:3 states. Jesus responds by ignoring the test and simply pointing out why God made us male and female. "For this reason" He says, we leave our parents to become one flesh with our wives. To suggest that this in no way suggests a definition of marriage, or that marriage between man and woman has no bearing on why we were created male and female, requires something more than your refusal to accept it as such in order to justify holding an alternative point of view. There's nothing about the passage that suggests Jesus' response is a concern about misogynistic injustice, but simply about the concept of divorce itself. He opposes divorce, except for the infidelity. So bring some "hard data" to prove otherwise, because the text itself does NOT suggest "injustice". We can know this, perfectly due to the fact that there is no reference to injustice at all in Jesus' response.

"IF you are making the claim that, as a point of fact, God defines marriage as one man one woman and thus, two guys marrying is not what God wants, then the onus is on you to prove that fact claim."

It IS proven, by the reference to Gen 2, Matt 19, Lev 18 and every other passage or verse that in any way references marriage, family or homosexuality. You simply reject it without basis, authority or hard data to back you up.

Marshall Art said...

"a. people didn't pass on literal history back then,"

This isn't proven. It is assumed, particularly with regard to Scripture. The assumption is that if one or most cultures dealt in mythology, then by golly the ancient Hebrews must have as well. There was no possibility that any culture deviated from what was common to seemingly all others. Hell no. That's simply not possible, even given the fact that the God you supposedly worship actually exists, as the gods of other cultures never did.

"b. the tropes found in Genesis that sound like other myths indicate that it was written mythically"

Because there's absolutely no possibility that the myths of other cultures weren't attempts at copying the history of the ancient Hebrews, because the God you allegedly worship was no more significant at that time than the false gods of other cultures. Said another way, you satisfy yourself in looking at the issue from one direction only, never thinking of the other direction at all, because then you'd have to change your view.

"c. science would dictate against a literal interpretation of at least parts of Genesis..."

...because science is omnipotent, omniscient and perfect and the God you claim to worship is not and incapable of creating all things in the manner depicted in Scripture.

"Keep in mind: I'm arguing against the perfect knowledge theory on unprovable matters."

Not really. You're arguing that what is easily known, because it is clearly revealed, is somehow ambiguous and beyond our ability to know with certainty. (I don't think any of us have ever even broached a subject of uncertainty with you.) To that end, you take off on this "perfect knowledge" angle so as to avoid supporting positions you hold that are totally and indisputably in conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture. As I continue to insist, you are forcing ambiguity where it does not exist, and suggesting that because parts of Scripture (parts we don't really ever reference) might be difficult to understand, then by golly, none of it can be known with certainty.

"Well, one mythic trope is beginning a story "In the Beginning" or "long, long ago when the world began" or other similar words. So, right off the bat, it sounds mythic,"

Strange. I'm certain I've heard these or similar words spoken by naturalists before describing, in their view, how all things came to be.

"But we have more than just those five words. We have a complete creation story that reads like other mythic creation stories."

Which in no way proves that the creation story of Genesis is myth. That other stories hold any similarity means only that they are similar. That the other are mythic, however, does not render Genesis as mythic.

"We have creation stories that don't sound plausible from a scientific point of view."

The miraculous never does. Not an argument against the validity of Genesis.

Marshall Art said...

" We have stories like the flood account for which there is no scientific or archeological record"

Untrue. Just google either scientific or archaeological evidence for the Great Flood and you'll see several offerings. The question is simply whether or not you choose to accept it. I would expect that you would cite other naturalists to insist that the offerings to which I refer are invalid. But other scientists engaging in the "Nyuh uh" argument does not satisfy anyone except those who do not wish to believe the Genesis stories.

"...and which is an impossibility if scientific principles are correct (where did the water come from? Where did it go? There's not enough water on earth to flood the whole earth... etc)"

Science not being capable of proving or disproving the miraculous.

"We have many reasons, given the text and context and what we know to doubt a literal history interpretation and to believe a mythic one is reasonable. Does this make no sense to you?"

It might if you espouse a "perfect knowledge theory" with regards the scientific. That is, you believe scientific knowledge is perfect despite the FACT that it cannot prove it's own theories with regard to creation. So it works out this way: If we put all our trust in science, then we can dismiss Genesis as myth. If we put ANY trust in God, then Genesis as written is possible. You apparently put more trust in science to declare with certainty what science is incapable of proving, and no trust in God that He, through human agency, revealed the truth with regard to the origin of all things.

Marshall Art said...

"B. Yes, when you're doing literary criticism, how a piece of writing sounds or reads IS evidence."

Only if you're insisting that how a piece of writing sounds MUST mean something. More important, I would think, is WHAT the piece of writing says, not how it is says it. Facts put to music are still facts. The style of transmission of those facts is irrelevant, especially when attempting to compare them to myths compare in a similar fashion.

" C. I pointed to several observable problems and taking Genesis is literal history."

But your problems are based on irrelevancies and unprovable "facts". Other actual myths are irrelevant. Science can only speculate on creation. It cannot provide anything that proves the conclusions it puts forth.

"That does not solve the problem of Magic Water that is absent in hard data, for instance."

You cannot demand evidence that the miraculous occurred if you're not prepared to provide evidence that the miraculous never happened.

Dan Trabue said...

Just to look at the flood problem...

Marshall, et al, the Creation Guys and Gals (creation.com, answersingenesis.com, etc) tell us that the flood happened in or around 2300 BC. (2304 BC, say some, give or take a few months!)

The people at bibletruths.net say...

Great Flood: 2350 - The flood waters cover the entire earth (Gen. 7). (James Ussher suggest 2349 as the flood date, the Samaritan Pentateuch has 2998, the Hebrew Bible has 2288, and the Septuagint lists 3246 has the date of the flood). Noah's three sons began to repopulate the earth (Gen. 9: 1).

The Great Pyramids were built about around 2500 BC - 200 years before the flood - and of course, Egypt's great civilization was huge at the time. We have records from that time period. Do you think that those Egyptian histories mention a great flood (seems like it may have come up)? Once that great civilization was destroyed entirely (and by the way, how did the pyramids survive all that water pressure??), how long did it take to rebuild it again - hundreds of years? 1,000 years? Do you know if there is a, say, 500 year gap in Egypt's history?

Similarly, do you know how much water there is on the earth? Do you know how much extra it would take to cover Mount Everest (5.5 miles high)? Where did that water come from? Where did it go? Where is the evidence for this?

You probably know I could go on and on with questions along these lines (The Tower of Babel and that great crowd of humanity happened 100-300 years after there were only 3 child-bearers left on earth... where'd those people come from??)

It's not hateful towards God or the Bible to say, "Wait a second... this just rationally doesn't make sense... there's simply no record for to explain it..." So, why would we assume a literally historic Genesis when, on the face of it, the simplest answer is that Genesis is told, as stories were back then, in a mythic/figurative genre?

And for those who would insist that they can "know" that Genesis is literal history and they know it with a perfect knowledge that they can have absolute confidence in... are they right? If so, on whose authority? Or do you think they are mistaken to claim that they "know" this?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Dating is always problematic, as any naturalist can tell you. Why would it be less so for creationists or others who believe there's evidence for the flood? It means very little.

But I don't rely on such sites and prefer to look at those unrelated to religious or creationist sites. I'm more interested in those like this, or this or this. None of these are conclusive, of course, but they do stand as evidence from science.

One piece made a statement regarding just how many cultures have some form of flood story they believe occurred. If Egypt doesn't have one (and I don't know if that's truly the case), it doesn't mean there was no flood. It only means that for whatever reason, they did not record the event, or there is simply no remaining pieces of their recorded history that does.

"Similarly, do you know how much water there is on the earth? Do you know how much extra it would take to cover Mount Everest (5.5 miles high)? Where did that water come from? Where did it go? Where is the evidence for this?"

...and other questions like these assume no possibility of the supernatural and miraculous. I don't necessarily expect that there would be, could be or should be evidence to prove a supernatural/miraculous event. You insist there must be or you reject the notion. But the overriding response is itself a question or two: Can science prove a miraculous/supernatural event even occurred, and if it can't, does that mean it never occurred?

It's not backward or superstitious to say, "Wait a minute...science cannot account for everything." Not at all, because it's the fact. Indeed, you don't give any thought to the notion that all the other "facts" might be wrong, and Scripture correct. But that wouldn't be sophisticated, and science nerds might make fun of you.

I recognize that it's all speculative either way, which is why I don't spend much time worrying about how it all went down. All I'm willing to say is that God is capable of creation everything in the blink of His eye, which is a bit faster than six days, and our ability to figure out things wouldn't change whether He did or not. I DON'T believe that mankind is capable of looking back with accuracy that is reliable beyond a shadow of doubt.

Dan Trabue said...

You misunderstand, at least in part, the Egypt problem. There is no record of the whole civilization disappearing for, what 500 years? 1,000 years? 2,000 years? And then, suddenly reappearing with all the same art and artifacts That's not in the Egyptian record. Wouldn't you expect, 1. SOME disruption to their historical record? 2. Whatever post-flood people who arose where Egypt was to have, you know, a completely different history and timeline and art? They would be a different people, no longer Egyptians, right?

So, to explain the huge amount of extra water and then missing water, you're going with the miracle explanation? Okay, that's convenient for you, at least, I suppose.

I prefer the Occam's Razor explanation. The simplest, most obvious answer is likely the most reasonable to assume. And the simplest answer is that Genesis is written, as it appears to be, in a mythic manner, thus, there's no reason to write off the historical record and find a magic solution.

So, okay, you appear to think that those who insist that they have "perfect knowledge" about Genesis and can't be mistaken because they have "absolute confidence" in their understanding... that they are mistaken to assume that? You think they are mistaken on whose authority? And if they disagree with your conclusion, they disagree on whose authority?

Dan Trabue said...

Can science prove a miraculous/supernatural event even occurred, and if it can't, does that mean it never occurred?

It depends upon if you're speaking of the miracles of a trickster god or not.

I mean, IF there was a flood and it was miraculous in that extra water appeared and then disappeared, but otherwise affected the earth as you'd expect, then there'd be geological and archeological data that could be found. UNLESS you had a trickster god who also magically erased all signs of a flood so that no one could prove it ever happened.

Is that also your contention? Or that this trickster god opted to leave SOME evidence that creationist scientists could point to, but for the most part erased all other evidence that one would expect. The wiping out of entire massive civilizations... the trickster god would have to make it appear that there is a continuous fake archeological record where you'd expect to have an abrupt end (as in, "Egypt flourished for years until, suddenly and for reasons we still don't know, it ceased to exists... the area where the ancient Egyptians lived was eventually repopulated by the Nileans who, as you'd expect, had a different culture and left different remnants..."

Do you see the problem?

Craig said...

Of course it's easy if you exclude ant supernatural explanation from consideration before you start.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, if we look around us, at the human record, for the last 100 years that we're mostly sure of (that is, the farther back we get, the less we are able to prove something did or didn't happen), we can see that, as a norm, we don't see unprovable miracles.

To be sure, I consider this creation and the love between people and all manner of things miraculous in many ways, but we don't see supernatural stuff happening that we can confirm objectively. We don't see it for centuries, now, not that is provable.

Given that the norm is "not supernatural stuff happening," why would we not begin from the demonstrable? Why would we begin with a belief in supernatural events happening? Stuff that can't be proven?

Is there a rational reason to begin there? I'm not aware of one.

Also, I'm not excluding the supernatural (I'm quite open to it, actually), I'm saying that if there's no reason to believe it, no reason to insist upon it happened, if it's not provable, then why would I insist upon it? Why should I?

Thanks.

Craig said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2929775/Aboriginal-folklore-oldest-accurate-oral-history-world-Stories-ancient-sea-level-rise-survived-10-000-years.html

http://creation.com/is-genesis-poetry-figurative-a-theological-argument-polemic-and-thus-not-history

http://www.ushistory.org/civ/9b.asp

http://totallyhistory.com/world-history/china-history/

A few sites that would disagree with your "nobody kept accurate history" theory.


Dan Trabue said...

I don't see anything in your China link that attests to them telling their ancient history in a literally factual style. I DO see where they recorded worshipping sky, land and other gods. Is that the literally factual stories you're speaking of?

Craig said...

I guess accurately recording those historical facts doesn't count.

I know it may be hard to admit that your blanket absolute history/myth timeline might not be as cut and dried as you'd like to think it is, but it looks like aboriginal history from 10k years ago and Chinese history from earlier than 1000 bc will just have to do. Oh and linguistic analysis of Genesis that disagrees with you as well.

Have you ever thought about actually just coming up with a handy guide that separates myth from non myth.

Dan Trabue said...

? What exactly do you think my position is? Are you thinking I'm saying the Genesis stories have no facts in them? Because, just to clarify, I've been saying all along that it appears Genesis uses figurative language.

Sometimes, as in when it talks about the people of Israel, it is talking about some actual people and places but not always in a completely factual manner. Other times it appears to be mostly figurative. But there are some facts in there.

So, given that, I'm not sure what your point is about the Chinese history.

First of all, the Chinese stories do not appear to be as old as the creation stories by about a thousand years. That's a significant difference in terms of literary development. Also, I do not see anything in the article that you cite that says that the Chinese stories were historically factual and accurate. In fact, I saw that they talked about Sky gods and land gods which I would assume you did not take as literal history. Is that correct?

Dan Trabue said...

I'm on my phone now and have not been able to look up the other links. I'll talk about them when I look them up.

My question to you remains... do you have any source that says ancient Chinese history was literally factual in the modern history sense?

Dan Trabue said...

From your Australian source (quite an interesting read, actually), it says...

Hidden within myths of seagull gods and ancestral heroes causing seas to rise and great floods are details of how the landscapes looked before the time


That is, in layperson terms, that these ancient stories contained MYTHIC writing... AND it had some facts along with it.

That is different than saying it was, wholesale, a factual history told in the more Modern History style.

Strike two.

Dan Trabue said...

It tells how an ancestral hero called Ngurunderi chased his wives on foot to Kangaroo Island, where he angrily rose the seas, turning the women into rocks that now jut out of the water between the island and the mainland.

Also from the Australian source.

Ah, definitely something you accept as literal history, right?

Craig said...

Look, your claim has been that anything pre 500 bc is myth, not fact. What we have is evidence of history pre 500 bc which contains actual facts.

Now if you want to argue that Genesis is a mix of myth and fact, then by all means break it down so we'll all be able to share your knowledge.

You're the one with the arbitrary "modern history" separation. All I've ever claimed is that Genesis is an accurate description of actual events. Clearly there are instances of people of antiquity accurately describing actual events. The fact that you want to impose these "stylistic" categories on the text doesn't affect my point at all. It is possible to use virtually any literary style to accurately communicate actual events. The facts that you want to be able to decide what's real and what's not by excluding the supernatural and subjecting the text to your naturalist bias, is just a way to subjugate the narrative to your Reason.

Dan Trabue said...

Well, there is at least one of our problems. You have misunderstood me.

As a point of fact, I have never claimed thar anything pre-500 BC is myth. I've never said that.

What I have said is that the era of modern history begins around 500 BC. I have said that before then, there are stories sometimes based partially on reality better more figurative, sometimes epic sometimes mythical, sometimes poetic but more figurative and not a literal modern history with an emphasis on linear factual history.

So, now that I have clarified that misunderstanding, now do you get what I'm saying?

Anonymous said...

Just by way of a reminder that I have always been speaking of figurative language in the older books of the Bible, but that wasn't to say that they didn't also contain some facts... just that it might be a mix of fact and imagery... from way back in 2011, where I said...

To suggest that early history-storytellers who might include some fiction right alongside some fact are "liars" or that lessons learned from these stories are compromised simply because they told history-stories in the style of their day is not to denigrate those lessons or those stories.

http://throughthesewoods.blogspot.com/2011/03/storytelling-and-truth.html

And way back in 2009...

Ancient histories often included gods and goddesses, real people and fantasy events.

...something is written in an Epic style, that means that the story written in such a style would be expected to be based loosely on historic people and events, but not every event would have literally happened.

http://throughthesewoods.blogspot.com/2009/12/a-light-for-our-path_4.html

Amongst many others. These were two conversations you took part in.

So, if my writing here was not clear enough that you didn't understand that I think that the OT stories contain a mix of fact and figurative, I offer this as a reminder that this has always been my point. Sorry if you had forgotten that from the past and I was not clear enough for you in this post, but now, you have been reminded.

Dan

Marshall Art said...

"You misunderstand, at least in part, the Egypt problem."

No I'm not. I'm not trying to fill any holes or tie up any loose ends. I leave that for those how actually have and take the time to do so. But as those links I provided speak of scientific explanations without regard to religion, I would suppose that how dates are calculated for events like these have not been so perfectly. I can leave it at that and not worry about questions like yours, since you don't even consider the possibility that any on your side of the question is flawed, incorrect or dishonest in their research (like that never happens). You spoke only of evidence and chose only to cite those of Creationists. I provided science.

"I mean, IF there was a flood and it was miraculous in that extra water appeared and then disappeared, but otherwise affected the earth as you'd expect, then there'd be geological and archeological data that could be found."

So, obviously you didn't read any of the links I provided, and frankly at this point, I don't think you read anything that suggests your position is wrong (regardless of the quality of that which you refuse to read).

"Also, I'm not excluding the supernatural (I'm quite open to it, actually), I'm saying that if there's no reason to believe it, no reason to insist upon it happened, if it's not provable, then why would I insist upon it?"

Nonsense. If there is a naturalistic/scientific explanation for an event, how can it be a miracle? I would suspect that having no scientific explanation is pretty much required for an event to be considered a miracle. Indeed, when the Catholic church investigates a miracle claim, the miraculous is ruled out if science can explain it. Look at the Shroud of Turin. They still won't declare it to be from the resurrection, despite most recent study suggesting it is.

At the same time, the links I provided, as well as others I did not, do speak of evidences that strongly suggest a great flood. "Hard data", as you like to insist upon.


"It depends upon if you're speaking of the miracles of a trickster god or not."

Why even say something like this when we're obviously discussing the Great Flood of Scripture? Can you ever engage in discourse without obfuscation and equivocation?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, I get that you are not a scientist, neither am I. I'm just asking a reasonable series of questions...

If there were a global flood, wouldn't Egypt's nation be utterly destroyed?

If it were destroyed, wouldn't there be a break... Indeed, an end to its historical record?

Does such a break/end occur?

Why not?

Or are you arguing that the civilization of Egypt occurred post-flood?

Dan Trabue said...

While waiting for you all to get a chance to respond (no hurries), a couple of points...

There are ~three issues being talked of here (at least):

1. Do texts in the Bible always mean what they literally say?

1a. The answer, of course, is No. No one takes each line in the Bible literally.

1b. Which texts, then, are the ones that mean what they literally seem to say?

2. Do some texts, ideas found in the Bible mean what they literally appear (let's say, TO EVERYONE, if such a thing exists) to say?

3. Even if they do mean exactly what they SEEM to say (to some or even to everyone), so what? Does that make it a fact?

Jumping to Point 2 and Bubba's example:

There are texts throughout the Bible that speak of a Creator God. Do they mean literally that the authors believed in a Creator God?

Bubba is arguing that yes, that is what it means. I would tend to agree, in that case. Most likely (although we can't prove it), the authors believed in a literal God.

But I don't see how that helps your case, any, whatever case it is you're making (presumably, that we can "know" some unprovable ideas with "absolute confidence" and "perfect knowledge...")

If we say, "We can say, with reasonable confidence, if not absolute confidence, that almost certainly the author(s) of Matthew believed in a literal God..." that is just a way of affirming what the text literally says. It's not really any different than saying, "The text SPEAKS of a God, as if God existed..." other than we're making a reasonable, I think, leap to assume the author believed that, too.

But what of it? Does that make it a fact that God exists? Of course not. Any more than if we say that Joseph Smith really believed in what he wrote, that this does not make what he said a fact.

I think that perhaps where you're trying to go with this is this idea:

IF we can assume that the author truly believed that God existed, as it seems, THEN there are other biblical conclusions we can know with absolute confidence, with "perfect knowledge..." the author's intent.

For instance, what? Sola Scriptura? That God disapproves of any and all gay relationships? Genesis as literal history?

No, that doesn't work. You see, even IF we conclude that there are SOME ideas that we can say the author almost certainly meant - and the evidence is that no one really disagrees with it... - then you STILL have to make a case that these other ideas where there are disagreements are of the same type of clarity. And you can't do that.

Beyond which, EVEN IF you could argue that it is absolutely "knowable" with absolute confidence that the author of Genesis thought that was a literal history, that does not mean that it was literal history. What if the author was mistaken? Or just didn't have enough information?

I just don't see where it gets you to advance the notion that "the Bible" clearly speaks of a creator God.

Do you see the problems you'll have even if we can agree that we can "absolutely know" that?

Do you see that you'll still face the problem of "On what basis/on whose authority do we assume that Idea 2 is the same sort of idea as Idea 1?"

Bubba said...

TEST, 7/21, 9:23 am ET.

Marshall Art said...

"I'm just asking a reasonable series of questions... "

Not as reasonable as you'd like to believe. You insist on assumptions before asking. I think I've been quite clear that our knowledge of past events is not certain, and indeed it is fluid as new discoveries alter what was previously thought or believed.

There is also an implied insistence, intended or not, that I must have a confirmed (even only in my own mind) notion of various events and how or if they were impacted by the miraculous. I don't pretend to know how to expertly explain the miraculous, but my faith in God is enough to know that the miraculous occurred, might still occur, and is possible to occur at some time in the future. I also know that without being a first-hand witness to a miracle, I have only faith in God as well as faith in the credibility, honesty and sanity of any who were first-hand witnesses.

With that said, resolving questions regarding miraculous events is no better than random speculation and hardly worth taking the time in a discussion hoping for certainty and definitive answers.

Now to your list of questions:

1. Of course. Why wouldn't they mean what they literally say?
1a. What the texts literally mean is not mitigated by the inability of any given individual to properly understand.
1b. "Seem to say" changes the goal posts. Are you talking about what the text literally says or what it "seems" to say to any given individual?

2. There is no accounting for how any given individual might perceive the meaning of the text. Therefore, it doesn't matter what the individual infers in order to determine what the text actually means. You've demonstrated quite often that you are willing to believe what you want about a section of the text when it serves you to do so. So if the meaning you infer is only that which appears to you to mean what you think it means, that has nothing to do with what it truly means.

3. Obviously, YES! If it does mean what an individual OR everyone believes it means, or regardless what an individual OR everyone believes, how can it not be a fact that it means what it says?

Your questions are goofy and thus answering is tricky.

more coming....

Marshall Art said...

"There are texts throughout the Bible that speak of a Creator God. Do they mean literally that the authors believed in a Creator God?"

Why would you think they didn't unless you need it to be so? With your line of reasoning, there is no work of non-fiction that can be trusted. Any book about Abe Lincoln...can we be certain that the author believes Abe existed? It's ludicrous beyond any reason or sanity to suggest that the author didn't literally believe what they were writing about the existence of God. "Stupid" is a better, more accurate word to use here.

There's no "leap" required to KNOW that the authors believed in the existence of God, given that each book is relating stories of that Entity. There is no basis for believing that the authors were writing fiction with regard to the existence of God.

"IF we can assume that the author truly believed that God existed..."

It's the use of the word "IF", as if there is any other possibility. There isn't unless you can provide some legitimate reason to support the notion that the author didn't truly and wholly believe that God exists. Again, it's stupid on every level.

"...you STILL have to make a case that these other ideas where there are disagreements are of the same type of clarity. And you can't do that."

With the possible exception of the Creation story, those ideas are crystal clear. You simply don't want to accept it.

"What if the author was mistaken? Or just didn't have enough information?"

What if the author was a horse? You're making idiotic suggestions in order to maintain the ambiguity you need to protect your preferred beliefs. On what basis can you suggest the author was mistaken or that the author did not have direct influence by God Himself, as Moses did (given that he is considered the author).

"I just don't see where it gets you to advance the notion that "the Bible" clearly speaks of a creator God."

I just don't see how you can get your panties in a wad at the charge of dishonesty. There is no other possible position to take that isn't absolute crap. "The Bible", as you want to put it (with regard to the quotation marks), clearly, unambiguously and with absolute certainty speaks of GOD. Honest people absolutely know that with absolute certainty.

Anonymous said...

You insist on assumptions before asking.

What is it you think I've "insisted" upon? I've asked question not based on you personally, but just that are questions the position itself begs.

There is also an implied insistence, intended or not, that I must have a confirmed (even only in my own mind) notion of various events and how or if they were impacted by the miraculous. I don't pretend to know how to expertly explain the miraculous, but my faith in God is enough to know that the miraculous occurred

Here, for instance, "to know that the miraculous occurred..." In holding this position, you are thinking that the text IS literal history and we can know it is literal history because you "know it occurred" because it's there in the text. You're skipping over the question, "Why should we assume it's literal history?" that needs to be answered first before making the assumption you appear to have made.

To that end, you say...

1. Of course. Why wouldn't they mean what they literally say?

Why not?

a. Because of genre. A poetic or figurative or mythic, etc story would not mean what they literally say because it's not the point of the genre/writing.

b. Because of not having sufficient information. If we presume that the Genesis authors were intent on writing a scientific history, we might reach one set of interpretations. BUT, if we assume that these stories arise from a pre-scientific time, on what basis would we assume that it was written in scientific terms?

c. Because no one does. Jesus said pluck out your eye if it offends you, but YOU do not take that literally. Why not? Because you recognize that this is not a reasonable interpretation to assume literally, even though it is, on the face of it, written as a command from Jesus himself!

...for at least three reasons. The point is, why would we assume, at the outset, that any given story is written from a literal history point of view? Why would we assume any given law is intended as a universal moral law? We don't, none of us, nor should we. That's the "woodenly literal" reading that I have spoken against, that no one does, nor should.

...

~Dan

Anonymous said...

"Seem to say" changes the goal posts. Are you talking about what the text literally says or what it "seems" to say to any given individual?

Look at the Matt 5, "pluck your eye out" text...

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.

For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell..."


In that text, Jesus himself clearly says that if you have lust problems because of using your eyes to lust, then pluck it out! It's just a straightforward, literal command, not ambiguous or anything... it doesn't say "I'm speaking figuratively here..." or otherwise warn that this is hyperbole. What the text literally says is if your eye causes you to lust, pluck it out. Period.

I'm speaking of what the text LITERALLY says and what it SEEMS to say literally vs how we opt to take it figuratively, regardless of how it seems.

And I'm asking on what basis and when do we go with what a text seems to say literally and on what basis and when do we use our reasoning to say, "that can't reasonably be what it seems to be saying..."

Thus, YOU look at the passage that seems to say pluck out your eye and YOU say, "Not literally, of course, because that wouldn't make sense..."

And I look at a passage that literally says "In six days God created everything" and I'm saying, "Not literally of course, because that wouldn't make sense."

How is what you're doing different than what I'm doing?

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan:

I've been close to completing a fairly lengthy reply, which I was planning to post following my reposting the comment that partially disappeared, but I don't really have the inclination to finish it, and I'm not all that confident that doing so would be worthwhile.

So, I'll sum up.

- I believe it is misleading to call people's good will "demonstrable" if the most one can do is to claim (also without evidence) that there is no indication of bad faith. The absence of evidence isn't evidence of an absence, much less a demonstration of an absence, and -- dead OR alive -- you cannot prove anyone else's intent.

- While I do not believe that it is necessary to conclude that Genesis teaches a young-Earth creation in literally 144 hours, I believe it is incoherent to sneer at that belief and at the belief in a global flood -- to say that such a belief "just rationally doesn't make sense" -- while affirming the Incarnation of God and the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.

- I believe it is also incoherent to sneer at the frequency of these beliefs -- "This is embarassing." and "Holy crap. Holy crap." -- while assuring others that one doesn't care about what other people believe and he instead extends grace to them. The generosity and the contempt can't both be sincere, and I think it's obvious which one is fraudulent.

- I also believe it is incoherent to insist that we always have "room for reasonable, good-faith disagreements" when we're "dealing with question of meaning" -- "What do those words means?" -- just a couple comments after insisting that the early church "CERTAINLY" disagreed about biblical interpretation, when Acts doesn't actually indicate any such thing.

About that last bit, the Old Testament actually is pretty clear that the dietary regulations and circumcision were specific to Israel and not universal for all people. After all, the rules about what people could eat had already changed before the exodus (Gen 9:3), and circumcision was explicitly called a "sign of the covenant" between God and Abraham (Gen 17:11). You glibly dismiss my position on the disagreement in Acts 15 without giving one good reason for yours or against mine. I demand better than that, but I do not expect it from you.

Bubba said...

On all of the above, I could elaborate, but I want to focus on another crucial subject.

On July 14th, I wrote, "As with Jesus' teachings regarding the lasting authority and divine authorship of Scripture, and as with Jesus' teachings regarding the necessity of His death and its causal connection to our forgiveness, I have **NEVER** seen you tackle Matthew 19:5, much less do so seriously."

The next day, you briefly reiterated your absurd position on Genesis and Matthew.

"In Genesis, the point is a mythic explanation of how men and women came to be and how marriage came to be. Sort of cool and perhaps meaningful, in the same sense of 'how the leopard got its spots' myth is, but not a God-approved definition of marriage.

"In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and the problem of divorce (I and others think) specifically and directly as it relates to the oppression of women and, by extension, of human rights. It is not speaking of a God-approved definition of marriage or an exclusion of gays from being married.
"

As I say, you have never tackled Matthew 19:5 seriously, and you don't do so here, either.

Jesus didn't explicitly mention the oppression of women, much less the concept of human rights, but He DID explicitly quote Genesis 2, and rather than alluding to it as a mere digression, He made the passage central to His position.

- The Pharisees asked about divorce, and Jesus immediately replied, "Have you not read?" implying that the passage about creation addresses their contemporary question about ethics.

- Jesus linked the passage, especially Gen 2:24, to the contemporary issue by saying that "therefore" man should not separate what God has joined together.

- The Pharisees then asked about the Mosaic regulations regarding divorce, and Jesus asserts that these were concessions to human hard-heartedness, but "from the beginning" the concession wasn't part of the plan.

The claim that Genesis 2 addresses the contemporary question of divorce; the explicit teaching that, because God made us male and female so that a man would become one flesh with his wife, "therefore" man should not separate what God has united; and the reiteration that divorce is addressed by what God planned and commanded "from the beginning:"

ALL OF THIS is directly relevant to your take on Genesis as a cool and "perhaps" meaningful myth: I believe the passage contradicts it.

ALL OF THIS is also directly relevant to your position that God condones and blesses sexual relationships outside of the lifelong, exclusive union of man and woman: I believe the passage refutes it.

But NONE OF THIS do you actually address substantively; you never expound upon the details of the passage, much less do you do so with any plausible exegesis.

And these are the words of Jesus Christ, whom you claim to serve.

It's not the words of Moses or any other OT prophet (whose authority Jesus explicitly affirmed), and it's not the words of Paul or any other NT apostle (who Jesus personally commissioned). No, it's the "red letters," the words of Jesus Himself, attributed to Him in one of the canonized accounts of His teachings, without which the chuch could have no confidence about Jesus' words and deeds.

In addressing the subject of divorce, Jesus Christ quotes Genesis 2 and teaches about what God planned "from the beginning" in making us male and female, and you treat His words with a breath-taking flippancy.

In light of Romans 14:4, I should not and do not pass judgment on another man's servant, knowing that he stands or falls before his own master, not me.

Dan, if you want to treat Jesus' words like garbage, that's between you and Him.

But I should not expect -- and NONE OF US should expect, and I do not -- that you would treat us your "brothers" with any more respect than you treat Jesus your Lord.

Anonymous said...

Bubba, first of all, let's speak with respect, please...

if you want to treat Jesus' words like garbage, that's between you and Him.

That I might disagree with an interpretation that you have is not the same as "treating Jesus' words like garbage..." fair enough?

The fact is, I know that you see a connection between Genesis 2 and "defining marriage" in a modern sense. I do not think that is there. At all. I think that is reading into the text something that simply isn't there.

I think, on the other hand, that what I said about Gen 2 (a mythic explanation of the beginning of marriage) is appropriate and textually apt. It is reasonable, in my opinion. Now you may disagree with my interpretation as I disagree with yours, but on what basis would you suggest that mine is disrespectful to the Bible or Jesus? I simply disagree with your opinion, as you do mine.

To the point of this post: On what basis is your interpretation weightier or hold more authority than mine? Because I see no reason to make that assumption.

I further understand that you truly think that Jesus is linking his words to Genesis 2 in a manner that suggests Jesus took the story literally, but that is your interpretation, not mine. How is holding a different opinion than you do disrespectful to Jesus? And on what basis is your theory hold any more authority than mine?

I further understand that you don't think my understanding (that Jesus is clearly speaking to the notion of divorcing women and how, in that context, it was especially oppressive and unjust) is apt, but I do. How is holding a different opinion than you do disrespectful to Jesus? And on what basis is your theory hold any more authority than mine?

ALL OF THIS is directly relevant to your take on Genesis as a cool and "perhaps" meaningful myth: I believe the passage contradicts it.

I understand that this is your opinion. I hold other opinions. How is holding a different opinion than you do disrespectful to Jesus? And on what basis is your theory hold any more authority than mine?

...

Bubba said...

Case in point, Dan: you're not showing me respect, because you're not treating my words seriously.

I do not believe that there is NO room for disagreement about interpretation, nor have I ever written or implied otherwise. ON THE CONTRARY, I WAS QUITE EXPLICIT IN TAKING THE OPPOSITE POSITION.

"I genuinely believe some teachings of the Bible aren't completely clear, that there *IS* room for genuine disagreement between honest, reasonable, and faithful Christians. I also recognize that there isn't INFINITE room for such disagreement, because other teachings REALLY ARE clear."

[Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:46 AM]

I DO NOT suggest that mere disagreement with me about a text's interpretation is prima facie proof of being disrespectful of its author or speaker. Instead, I'm very specific about why I conclude you're disrespectful in this particular case.

I'll say it again, that I have **NEVER** seen you tackle Matthew 19:5, much less do so seriously. Having pointed out exactly how Jesus uses Genesis 2 in that chapter, to address the subject of divorce, I then note that you don't actually address that citation substantively -- "you never expound upon the details of the passage, much less do you do so with any plausible exegesis."

You want to convince someone that you do take those details seriously? Go through those details, and explain how your position does them justice.

You refuse to do that.

Instead, you ask five variations of that stupid "on what basis" question. Evidently you think it's easier to raise general questions about metaphysics and epistemology than to provide a specific argument for why your take on Matthew 19 plausibly arises from the details of the actual text.

On that, you would be right: it is easier to filibuster, not only because doing so is so trivially effortless -- how many playground arguments end with, "says who?" -- but because the alternative is impossible. It's impossible to tackle Matthew 19 with any intellectual honesty and conclude that Jesus didn't see Genesis 2 as crucial in understanding God's will for sexuality and marriage -- that is, for why God made us male and female, and what types of union are consistent with what His plan has been "from the beginning."

You're welcome to prove me wrong, but your unwillingness to try vindicates my criticism of you.

You evidently aren't willing to let Jesus' actual words get in the way of your personal beliefs.

Anonymous said...

It's impossible to tackle Matthew 19 with any intellectual honesty and conclude that Jesus didn't see Genesis 2 as crucial in understanding God's will for sexuality and marriage -- that is, for why God made us male and female, and what types of union are consistent with what His plan has been "from the beginning."

and...

I'll say it again, that I have **NEVER** seen you tackle Matthew 19:5, much less do so seriously.

and...

your unwillingness to try...


?

??

I honestly don't know what you mean that it's impossible? or that you've "never seen me tackle" the passage. I just did so. Again.

I've read Matt 19. I've done so with intellectual honesty. I've explained specifically and literally from the text and from the context why I disagree with your opinion on how to interpret it.

Clearly, it IS possible, I just did it and, being me, I know I did so with intellectual honesty.

Is it the case that you have read my explanation (the stuff about the context of the times and Jesus saying, "for this reason..." and my asking "WHAT reason? To STAY TOGETHER...", etc) and don't think this is my serious explanation for it? Or that you missed it entirely? Or just that it doesn't make sense to you how anyone can think what I explained and thus, you dismiss it as not being a defense?

Bubba, help me out: Do you see the answer that I GAVE that I think is a good, rational and biblical answer? (Not do you agree with it, just do you see the literal answer I gave?)

IF you see it, then you have to know that I literally "tackled" it. I literally gave my reason. Right?

Your response reads as if you haven't seen me given an answer, so I'm just clarifying that you are even seeing it.

If you've seen it, then it seems like what you would say is, "Dan, I've seen your ATTEMPTS to defend your position, but I don't see how that's a good effort attempt to explain it..." or words like that. But to act as if I'm "unwilling to try" or have never done it, that's just weird, when clearly, I have. Please clarify.

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

Just quickly, about this...

You evidently aren't willing to let Jesus' actual words get in the way of your personal beliefs.

Well, of course, I believed the opposite on this topic. I changed my position precisely because I let Jesus' actual words get in the way of my pre-held beliefs. I changed my position to try to align with what I think Jesus is teaching.

Even if you disagree with my conclusions, do you at least see this reality?

Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba posted the following, and it didn't post for some reason, so I'm posting it:

I must have missed that detailed explanation, Dan, just as you missed my insistence that there is room for good-faith disagreement (just not infinite room), and just as I have now must have missed your apology for implying that I held the opposite position.

"Is it the case that you have read my explanation (the stuff about the context of the times and Jesus saying, 'for this reason...' and my asking 'WHAT reason? To STAY TOGETHER...', etc) and don't think this is my serious explanation for it? Or that you missed it entirely?"

Your asking "WHAT reason? To STAY TOGETHER..."?

I did a Ctrl-F on this page and look for "What reason " (adding the trailing space to omit "what reasonable" and other unrelated phrases), and this most recent comment is THE ONLY time the phrase appears. (With this comment, it will now appear three more times.)

Doing the same for "stay together", I find the same results, on the page that has the original post and all 157 extant comments. If you're quoting yourself, you're evidently quoting yourself from a different page without providing the link.

--

As it is, that explanation isn't serious, as it ignores the passage of Genesis in order to conclude that Jesus made an essentially circular argument.

"Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?" - Matthew 19:4-5, NIV, emphasis mine

The old line is, when you see a "therefore," you look backwards to see what it's "there for."

With this passage, that means that the "for this reason" points to God's creating us male and female:

- God made us male and female, so therefore a man becomes one flesh with his wife.

Your notion is that the "for this reason" really means something like, "in order to stay together."

- Couples should stay together, so therefore a man becomes one flesh with his wife.

NOT ONLY does this sever the citation of Genesis 2 from the rest of Jesus' statement and obscures the central point that God's will has primacy, it turns into a circular (and therefore, an unconvincing) argument.

Why should marriages stay together? BECAUSE MARRIAGES SHOULD STAY TOGETHER.

Well, I'm glad Jesus cleared that up.

--

I pointed out three things about that passage.

1. Jesus asks whether the Pharisees have even read Genesis 2, implying that the answer to their question is found there.

2. Jesus explicitly ties the contemporary issue to the scriptural text, teaching that divorce is to be avoided because God made us male and female -- here, you do nothing with that connection except to deny it, with a ridiculous claim that has Jesus making a circular argument.

3. And Jesus addressed the objection and appeal to the law of Moses by reiterating His emphasis on God's act of creation and His will for what He created, by teaching that "from the beginning" a concession to divorce wasn't part of the plan.

You haven't addressed the substance on any of these points. You never have, and I don't think you ever will.

~From Bubba

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

just as you missed my insistence that there is room for good-faith disagreement (just not infinite room), and just as I have now must have missed your apology for implying that I held the opposite position.

I never implied you held the opposite position. I know quite well that you said that, as I read your words and understood them to say that precisely.

I don't know what I said to make you think that I was implying something I never implied, but there was never anything from me stated with that intent. My apologies if you heard otherwise.

Do you understand, though, that I literally never implied that?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

Why should marriages stay together? BECAUSE MARRIAGES SHOULD STAY TOGETHER.

Well, I'm glad Jesus cleared that up.


My point is as follows (follow along):

CONTEXT
1. Here is a culture where women have no rights;
2. Here is a culture where sometimes, men "dismissed" or divorced their wives for no good reason;
3. Here is a culture where divorced women have even fewer rights than married women (which is almost none). Primarily, they have no means of support, forcing them to turn to begging or prostitution or dying, unless a family can take them in, and regardless, they are shamed.

TEXT
4. In that culture and in that context, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason (ie, at the husband's whim).
5. To which Jesus replies, "Do you not know Scripture?" (attempting to shame the Pharisees, because of course, they knew Scripture... this is a reasonable take on that).
6. Jesus said...
Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said,
‘For this reason
a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?


For what reason? To create a definitio of marriage that is strictly male/female? No! That is simply not there in the text or context!

NO, the reason was...

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together,

let no one separate.”


WHAT is the reason? TO NOT SEPARATE. To stay together. THAT IS THE POINT Jesus is making here. To try to make this into a definition of marriage, one that is specifically male/female... that simply is not there! I don't know what else to say about other than it's not there. If you were to respond, "But there it is, Jesus defined marriage as one man/one woman..." ALL I can say is, "NO! That is not there."

What is the point of the text/Jesus' response? The point is NO, do not divorce, stay together. THAT is the purpose of marriage, to stay together and "let no man separate!" And yes, Jesus was citing "God," and tradition and the very real metaphor of "becoming one flesh..." Is that circular reasoning? Perhaps, but in this society, where the Pharisees lived and died by rules and legalism, it's a compelling case.

So, my point is that clearly, the point of this is Jesus saying that marriages should stay together. And this makes sense, in this patriarchal society where women have so few rights and a divorced woman was too often a cast-aside person, and we know Jesus was concerned for cast aside people. There simply isn't anything in the story that says God or Jesus is defining marriage as male/female only and always. That's eisogesis, a reading into the text something that isn't there.

more...

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

that explanation isn't serious, as it ignores the passage of Genesis in order to conclude that Jesus made an essentially circular argument.

The very most you can say, Bubba, is that, TO YOU, you do not find the explanation serious. Clearly, it is serious and extremely compelling to me and folk like me. It makes complete sense, knowing what we know of Jesus and the times.

You do recognize though, Bubba, that just because you do not find an argument compelling or "serious," that you don't get to speak for everyone else, right?

Bubba...

1. Jesus asks whether the Pharisees have even read Genesis 2, implying that the answer to their question is found there.

Implying at least that AN answer is found there. No problem with that, I don't disagree. You aren't suggesting that Jesus was somehow implying the one and only answer is found there and there are no other reasons for not divorcing than Genesis 2, are you? Because that would be eisegesis again.

Now, you can say I haven't dealt with this point, but we agree on the point, so what else do you want me to "deal" with?

2. Jesus explicitly ties the contemporary issue to the scriptural text, teaching that divorce is to be avoided because God made us male and female -- here, you do nothing with that connection except to deny it, with a ridiculous claim that has Jesus making a circular argument.

? YOU THINK that Jesus is saying that the text is saying that God wants us to avoid divorce because God made us male and female, but that simply isn't what the text says AND it's not rational on the face of it. "God made us male and female? Well, I'm dumping my old wife FOR a female, so we're all good!"

No, the point is not God made them male/female, therefore don't divorce. The point is when we join together in marriage, in a very real sense, the two become one. That should NOT be torn apart. Also, GOD has joined them together, so they should not be torn apart. In both texts, it's all about not breaking apart, but staying together.

Now, you can say I haven't dealt with this point, but I quite clearly have, stating that the point of marriage is to stay together, NOT to be torn apart. So, you can't deny in any real sense that I have not dealt with this point.

3. And Jesus addressed the objection and appeal to the law of Moses by reiterating His emphasis on God's act of creation and His will for what He created, by teaching that "from the beginning" a concession to divorce wasn't part of the plan.

And here again, we agree. Perhaps not because it's an appeal to the law of Moses, but because it's an appeal to how we were created... to be united and made one and, once made one, NOT to be torn apart.

The gender of the marriage is simply not at the heart of this conversation.

Now, you can say I haven't dealt with this point, but we agree on the point, so what else do you want me to "deal" with?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Now, all of this begs the question that I am asking and still waiting for an answer...

A. Okay, we both have looked at the passages/considered the topic.
B. Okay, we both have what we consider well-reasoned support for holding our positions.
C. So given that, on what authority is Bubba's opinion the "right" one and one that he can "know" with "absolute certainty..."? Or can he?
D. On what authority could someone say, "Well, Dan (or Bubba) is clearly not arguing in good faith and can't really believe his argument is a good one?"

I've been answering your questions. Can you just tell me now: Will you ever get around to dealing with this central and pivotal question or are you just wanting to use this forum to ask me question upon question without ever answering my main questions to you?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

Since you say you know that I believe that good-faith disagreement is possible, you must know that the first question above was unnecessary in asking what I already affirmed, and the second question presumes that I deny what I already affirmed.

In writing in these little boxes with limited space and time, sometimes we take shortcuts. I left unsaid "ON THESE PARTICULAR POINTS... How is holding a different opinion than you do disrespectful to Jesus?" Since you had made it clear you think good faith disagreements are possible, I wasn't addressing the Unknown List of Things we can Disagree Upon in Good Faith. I was addressing the comment in the context of this conversation... on those areas where you presume/guess that a good faith argument CAN'T be had.

I thought that was obvious because that was the point of the conversation, but I apologize if it was unclear. Now you know.

I can't examine your heart, I can only infer from what you write -- and I cannot draw any positive inferences from your refusal to address the details of the text in question -- but in the past you have railed against drawing ANY inferences from your writing beyond what is explicitly on the page.

And what was written explicitly on the page, what HAS been written explicitly and repeatedly on the page is the story of how this young conservative man has gradually changed his views on some topics over the years as I sought to follow Jesus. THAT was what was explicitly written. THAT is what I'm asking, "Can't you see that this has been my testimony?"

I'm asking you if you can see the explicit and recognize it as reality, so far as you can tell.

You appear to, on the other hand, want to reject the explicit testimony and assume that, in spite of what I've testified to, what can be largely confirmed if anyone wanted to find out... that I don't actually have this experience of following Jesus and it leading me to where I am now, to hold the positions that I do now.

So, yes, please stick with what is explicitly written, I think you'll be much better served than trying to guess at my motives or my "actual" meaning.

Given that clarification then:

I changed my position precisely because I let Jesus' actual words get in the way of my pre-held beliefs. I changed my position to try to align with what I think Jesus is teaching...

Even if you disagree with my conclusions, do you at least see this reality?


No mind reading necessary. It's a simple and straightforward question, based on my testimony that you've read quite often.

...more...

Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

The most galling thing is this:

- The Bible is, like all other texts, external and objective, but you deny that ANY PART of its meaning is clear beyond any reasonable and good-faith disagreement.


1. I do not deny that "any part of its meaning is clear beyond any reasonable and good-faith disagreement."

Do you understand that?

2. I am quite clear that when the text says "In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." that the Bible ACTUALLY says, "In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." It's observable. It is clearly there, beyond any good faith disagreement. Anyone who says the text isn't literally there, is not arguing in good faith, because look! There it is!

Do you understand that?

3. I am saying that, once we move beyond what the text literally says to what its author intended us to understand, we move from observable fact to human opinion.

Do you understand that?

4. Now, you and I may well think that each and every opinion we have about several "clear" passages is equally clear to everyone else. Clearly, the author of Matthew appears to have believed that Jesus rose from the dead, since he literally tells that story. That is still what the text says.

Do you understand that?

5. Once we move from what the text says to unprovable human opinions about what the text means or what the author intended, we have no way of proving it and, in the real world, people have disagreed - by all measurable signs, in good faith and I have no reason to presume otherwise.

6. So, what I am literally saying is that when we move from what the text literally says to what it means, yes, it appears that humans can and have disagreed about just about everything one can imagine. I'm not offering an opinion on that. I'm just stating reality. People have and do disagree.

Do you understand that?

7. I am further stating that, lacking any reason to assume otherwise, it appears to me that most people who disagree on these unprovable opinions do so in good faith.

Do you understand that?

Because you are not summing up my position accurately and I'm just trying to help you understand aright.

If you understand all that, what is there to be "galled" at?

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan:

On checking to see whether my comment persisted, I see that it didn't: I appreciate your reposting it for me, and I thank you in advance for reposting this one, if it vanishes. I'll try to make clear the order for multipart comments.

And, I see you do write at more length on the subject of Matthew 19, you raise questions that you do not believe I have answered, and you respond to my criticisms.

I am wrapping up for now, but I'll address these things as briefly as I can, and I'll tackle them in reverse order.

--

In point #1, you say you DON'T deny that [in my words] "any part of [the Bible's] meaning is clear beyond any reasonable and good-faith disagreement."

NOTICE, I MENTIONED THE TEXT'S MEANING AND NOT JUST ITS CONTENTS.

Then, in points #6 and #7, you write, "what I am literally saying is that when we move from what the text literally says to what it means, yes, it appears that humans can and have disagreed about just about everything one can imagine," and you write that people appear to do so in good faith.

I don't see how you could then affirm that any part of the Bible's meaning is clear beyond any reasonable good-faith disagreement -- so I don't see why you object to my stating the obvious, that you deny it.

--

The galling thing is that you think reasonable, good-faith disagreement is possible about "just about everything one can imagine" regarding the meaning of an objective and external text, while you insist that such disagreement is impossible about your subjective and internal motive. You insist to the degree that you disparage those who dare disparage you; you do so based on the conclusions from our words, but you think we cannot do so based on the conclusions we draw from yours -- you conclude that only gracelessness could explain our words, for our daring to conclude that only dishonesty could explain yours.

About your "testimony," you write:

"I'm asking you if you can see the explicit and recognize it as reality, so far as you can tell."

I recognize the reality that the words you have written are your testimony. I do not know whether the words themselves correspond to reality, whether they relay, accurately and without any material omissions, your life-journey from one set of beliefs to another.

You could make the claim more plausible walking us through the details of that journey, showing how a close and careful study of the text might possibly lead to your positions, but you haven't.

--

You clarify that you were taking a shortcut in your question:

"I left unsaid 'ON THESE PARTICULAR POINTS... How is holding a different opinion than you do disrespectful to Jesus?'"

It's still a loaded question, because I don't think your being disrespectful to Christ is based merely on disagreeing with me, but on your apparent refusal to tackle His teachings with reverence and care. You have SINCE addressed Matthew 19 with more writing, but you're still playing loose with the details, as I will explain presently.

[ END OF PART 1, CONTINUED IN PART 2 ]

Bubba said...

[ CONTINUED FROM PART 1, BEGINNING OF PART 2]

Now, I HAVE answered your question on authority before.

"The question about authority actually strikes me as something of a digression... If something's obvious, one doesn't need a ruling from some official authority: hence the word, 'obvious.'"

[Posted July 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM]

I thought I had written more than that, to make myself even more clear, but I'll say it now.

I need no authority to see what is true and to say what I see.

Yours would be a reasonable question if I was attempting to coerce you to agree with me or induce some governmental body to punish you for disagreeing with me, but I'm not.

All I'm doing is proclaiming what I believe to be true, and I HAVE been explicit about the limitations on the consequences:

"We have a responsibility to be careful and intellectually honest.

"We have a responsibility to be charitable with the conclusions that we draw, whenever possible.

"And we have the freedom -- and arguably the responsibility -- to criticize behavior for which the benefit of the doubt can no longer be plausibly extended, when it appears obvious that a person isn't acting in good faith.

"And then what? What happens when two people honestly disagree about the clarity of the Bible asserting a young-Earth creation? Well, they have the freedom to 'compare notes,' the responsibility to accept where the arguments lead, and the freedom to be intellectually dishonest if they so choose.

"And what happens when, for instance, a professing Christian doubts the sincerity of your profession of faith and expresses that doubt? YOU DEAL WITH IT, both of you do -- he accepts the fact that you cannot be compelled to agree with his assessment, and you accept the fact that he cannot be compelled to change his mind."

That's probably not the answer you want -- I suspect you want me to say I'm speaking on my own authority or I'm invoking God's authority, either of which you would tar as megalomania -- but it *IS* an answer, and an honest one at that.

I reject the premise of your question, Dan. I need no authority to speak the truth.

[ END OF PART 2, CONTINUED IN PART 3 ]

Bubba said...

[ CONTINUED FROM PART 2, BEGINNING OF PART 3]

About your take on Matthew 19, I appreciate the length of your answer, but I still don't think you're taking the text seriously, and I'll try to explain why.

Here again is the key text.

He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." - Matthew 19:4-6, ESV, empahsis mine

First, I wonder if you're a bit muddled on the subject of the verb "said" at the beginning of 19:5, which I put in bold. It's not Jesus, it's the Creator.

It's NOT this:

- SUBJECT: He [Jesus]

-- VERB 1: answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?"

-- CONJUNCTION/VERB 2: and [Jesus] said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

[NOTICE that I had to change the punctuation to make this work; the punctuation is added by the translators, but the NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, and HCSB all place the question mark at the end of 19:5, as does Young's Literal Translation.]

It's this:

- He [Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that

-- SUBJECT: he who created them from the beginning [ie, the Creator]

--- VERB 1: made them male and female,

--- CONJUNCTION/VERB 2: and [the Creator] said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?"

In verse 5, Jesus isn't just speaking, He's quoting the Creator from Genesis 2, whom you reference as "God" in scare-quotes, for reasons I can only imagine and that I doubt you'll ever divulge with clarity.

Apart from anything else, we can know that He's quoting Genesis 2:24 because that "therefore" is present in that verse. The root words used in the Septuagint -- the Greek translation of the OT that was in common in Jesus' time -- are also used in Jesus' statement, in the same order!

--

ἕνεκεν οὗτος καταλείπω - "Therefore shall a man leave," etc. (KJV)

root words: héneka hoûtos kataleípō [1752, 3778, 2641] -

Genesis 2:24 LXX


--

ενεκα τουτου καταλειψει - "For this cause shall a man leave," etc. (KJV)

héneka hoûtos kataleípō [1752, 3778, 2641]

Matthew 19:5

[ END OF PART 3, CONTINUED IN PART 4 ]

Bubba said...

[ CONTINUED FROM PART 3, BEGINNING OF PART 4 ]

There are two "therefore's" that connect three ideas.

Idea 1: God made man male and female.

Idea 2: God said, "therefore a man will leave his family and join his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Idea 3: Therefore do not separate what God has joined.

For ALL of Idea 1, Jesus cites Genesis 1:27, that God made man male and female, a claim that recurs in 5:2.

For ALL of Idea 2 -- INCLUDING THAT "THEREFORE" -- Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24.

Idea 3 is the conclusion that Jesus draws from 1 and 2.

Dan, what you're doing is suggesting that the first "therefore" connects Ideas 2 & 3, making it redundant to the second "therefore" (hṓste, 5620) and severing Idea 1 from the rest of the argument Jesus is making.

Neither the Greek text nor the translation nor the cultural context possibly justifies your doing this.

--

Why did God make us male and female? Jesus actually gives an answer -- so that a man would become one flesh with his wife -- and even if that's only one reason among several, Jesus seems to think it's a sufficient reason to address the question of divorce. That's why He asks if the Pharisees haven't read the passage, His apparent belief that the passage settles the issue.

"YOU THINK that Jesus is saying that the text is saying that God wants us to avoid divorce because God made us male and female, but that simply isn't what the text says AND it's not rational on the face of it. 'God made us male and female? Well, I'm dumping my old wife FOR a female, so we're all good!'"

No, what I'm saying -- and what I would say to the sophist you imagine -- is this:

God wants us to avoid divorce because His will is that a man clings to his wife, with whom he becomes one flesh; that one-flesh union is why God made us male and female in the first place.

(Again, it's maybe only one reason out of several, but still a sufficient reason to settle the question of divorce.)

What I would say is indeed what the text says, and it's what Jesus taught, and it's what you refuse to tackle seriously.

[ END OF PART 4, TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 5 ]

Bubba said...

(I believe I *DID* post part 5. If I didn't, I'll repost it tomorrow, when I have access to my draft copy.)

Anonymous said...

~From Bubba

Dan:

According to Jesus, why did God make us male and female? It took what seemed like ages to get you merely to restate the answer given to us in Matthew 19, and apparently your own position hasn't been affected by your doing so.

Your position is that God just intended ANY union to be permanent, regardless of its composition and independent of the teaching which Jesus points to in that passage, that God made us male and female and had a reason for doing so.

It's a position that simply doesn't take serious the connections between Genesis 2 and Matthew 19. Your position could be reasonably inferred from a text where 19:4-6a are omitted -- where Jesus just taught not to separate what God united -- but NOT from an intact text.

I do believe that Matthew 19:4-6 would be entirely appropriate at any wedding that plausibly fits God's will for marriage, but reading the whole text would put the lie to any wedding that didn't, such as for an adulterer or a "serial monogamist" on the heels of his latest divorce.

I think you and I both know that no one would dare read the entire passage in a ceremony between two men and two women. Your argument is basically an attempt to make the inconvenient, inessential.

I appreciate your responding at length, and you can and no doubt will continue to insist that you take Jesus' teachings very seriously.

Having examined your argument in detail, I will stand by my conclusion that you don't, not merely because our positions disagree, but because your argument for that position is as flimsy as toilet paper.

~From Bubba

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, regarding your claim

"I need no authority to say what I see..."

I see this as the main point of disagreement here... You are correct that you are free to say what you see. however, that is different than saying, "this is a fact claim and I cannot be mistaken on it, I have perfect knowledge on it." If you're making THAT claim, then you do need some Authority some independent basis to support the claim as a fact claim... Otherwise it's just your words, for what they're worth.

Do you understand my point?

This is from my phone so apologies for any typos.

Anonymous said...

BUBBA said...

Dan, as little respect as I have for how you argue your positions, I have appreciated the opportunity to explain my beliefs at greater length, and I especially appreciate your reposting comments that Blogger has inexplicably dumped.

I've pretty much wrapped up, but two things are worth saying about your short comment here, a minor clarification and a major objection.

--

You mention the statement, "this is a fact claim and I cannot be mistaken on it, I have perfect knowledge on it," and write about the possibility of my making that statement about a particular claim.

On the one hand, you've written that you have felt free to leave details unsaid, when you think it's obvious; on the other hand, you've insisted that I "please stick with what is explicitly written" -- and you did both in the same comment, 7/26, 2:51 pm. Despite that ambiguity, I'll assume that you still think it's okay to believe that one cannot be mistaken on a text's contents rather than its message, the words on the page rather than the meaning of the words.

Assuming that, I could agree that the statement pretty closely matches what I AM willing to say regarding, say, the Bible's assertion of theism or the historicity of the Resurrection: the CLARITY of the Bible's teachings here is unmistakable, even if the TRUTHFULNESS is not: the Bible obviously DOES teach that God exists, even if it's not obvious that such a teaching is consistent with reality.

What I would clarify is this:

I'm less likely to say that I have "perfect knowledge on" that claim, than I am to say that I have "perfect confidence about" that claim.

What you have called "perfect knowledge," I have tried to be consistent in defining it as perfect or absolute CONFIDENCE.

But that might be more personal preference than a substantive distinction. I'm willing to say, to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.

--

The important objection is that, about that statement, you write this:

"If you're making THAT claim, then you do need some Authority some independent basis to support the claim as a fact claim... Otherwise it's just your words, for what they're worth."

Says who? -- and I mean that quite seriously, without snark.

On what basis, and on whose authority do you claim that I need some "Authority" to say, for instance, that I'm absolutely confident that the Bible's meaning includes the basic claim of theism?

Or, to ask it another way:

Q: Do you have perfect knowledge/confidence that I "need" an Authority to support my claim?

- If the answer is yes, then BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS, you must yourself appeal to an authority to tell me this.

- If the answer is no, then BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS, your claim is nothing but words.

In which case, it's bullying, a power trip for the sake of your own ego, to INSIST that everyone agree with you.

By your standards and in your failure to meet those standards, I see that you have your own opinion -- it's only your "hunch" that I must provide notarized paperwork to make any claim in complete confidence -- and, having noted your opinion, I maintain my right to disagree.

Meet those standards you want everyone else to meet, and you will have earned the credibility to insist on those standards. If you don't, your only coherent action is to agree to disagree.

~From Bubba

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

What you have called "perfect knowledge," I have tried to be consistent in defining it as perfect or absolute CONFIDENCE.

I actually think this is a key point/question to be clarified.

How does one have "absolute confidence" if they don't know something perfectly?

Some people may be pretty doggone convinced by the pyramids, by repeated rumored UFO sightings, by anachronistic discoveries of things they think could not have existed in the past... that aliens exist and have visited our planet. They may be VERRRY convinced. Does that mean that they can have "absolute confidence" in their opinion about something they can't prove? Especially once we remove it one step from "aliens have visited our planet" to "...and they want to help us create a utopia on earth..." - moving from something where there is potential hard data that could be observed to something more esoteric like motives of these unproven aliens?

I'm open to an answer to this question, if you have one. Maybe you mean something different by "absolute confidence" than I do. Maybe you're just meaning, "I'm feeling very certain of this..." which would be different than what I would mean by it.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

[sigh]

I say "to-may-to, to-mah-to" because I wouldn't make a significant distinction between the two phrases, and as I best as I can tell, your use of the phrase matches my understanding.

It's not that your phrase is inaccurate or imprecise, it's just clunky to my ear.

If I were to say that I have "perfect knowledge" about anything, it would be about a particular SUBJECT and not just an atomic claim. In using the phrase, I would mean that I know everything about it, and if the subject is sufficiently narrow, I can actually say this about the subject (ahem) with absolute confidence.

- I know the title and year of release for every studio album by U2 -- and the hodge-podge album Rattle And Hum (1988) and the odd duck, Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 (1995) -- but not every lyric to every album track.

I perfectly know the former subject, and I have absolute confidence that their debut album Boy was released in 1980.

- I know the rules to chess -- including the rule that en passant can only occur immediately after the opponent's pawn has advanced its initial two spaces -- but I know the names of hardly any openings.

I perfectly know the former subject, and I have absolute confidence that the little horsey piece is called a knight and moves in an L-shape in all four directions, jumping over all pieces between its point of origin and its destination.

Again I would say that I have "absolute confidence" in a particular fact rather than say that I have "perfect knowledge" of that fact.

But, from my end, that's a difference without a distinction EXCEPT for personal preference.

--

Having answered that, I will say that I was hoping you would address what I described as the major objection and not just focus on the minor clarification.

Dan Trabue said...

I will get to the rest of it however let you view as a minor clarification I think I probably view as the heart of the matter. If I'm understanding you correctly you saidyou have absolute confidence of a particular fact... and you are right and able to say that because it is a demonstrable fact. But what of those ideas that cannot be proven and that are not facts? The problem is what you are speaking of are not facts but unproven and unprovable opinions.

So, to rephrase my question how do you have absolute confidence in an idea that is not a proven or provable fact?

Bubba said...

You ask, "how do you have absolute confidence in an idea that is not a proven or provable fact?"

I will state it again: KNOW-ABLE DOES NOT IMPLY PROVE-ABLE.

Or, to use your terminology, PERFECTLY know-able does not imply prove-able.

The converse is certainly true: if a fact can be proven, then it can be known with complete confidence.

But your apparent position is not true, that if a fact can be known with complete confidence, then it can be proven.

All it takes is one single, solitary counterexample to disprove your position, and I'll present that counterexample once again:

COGITO ERGO SUM -- or even more simply, COGITO.

You could point to brainwaves and responses to stimuli that suggest thought, but no external phenomenon can demonstrate or otherwise conclusively prove your subjective and internal experience of thought.

And yet, presumably you think: YOU KNOW YOU THINK, because if you didn't think, you wouldn't be able to know anything, and yet you can't prove it.

--

The obvious follow-up question would be this: even conceding that a person can know SOME unproven (and un-provable) propositions with complete confidence, how can I thus know **THIS** particular proposition, that a text's meaning is X?

Is that your next question? Is that what you're really asking?

Tell me, and I'll be more than happy to respond just as soon as I can.

Dan Trabue said...

So my question remains (and specifically about your opinions on what God thinks), if you can't prove your opinion, how do you/can you have absolute confidence that your opinion is correct?

Dan Trabue said...

Following up a bit: IF it is true that knowable does not necessarily imply provable, nonetheless it remains a reasonable question... okay but how do you know absolutely confident but this opinion of yours that's correct?

After all, I am sure you're not implying the inverse is true, as well... That not proveable implies knowable, correct?

Dan Trabue said...

...just checking: Do you get the point I'm making?

IF we accept the theory that "KNOW-ABLE DOES NOT IMPLY PROVE-ABLE" (and honestly, I'm still pondering on that one... I think it's getting a bit esoteric and all philosophy-y)

Then an immediate problem might be the One who says...

"Well, I can't PROVE that purple unicorns have wings made of cotton candy, but I DO know it's a fact, and I know it with absolute confidence!"

...that is, it's a way of saying that anything and everything is potentially a "fact," which would render facts meaningless. Do you see that problem?

And so (assuming so), an immediate reasonable response to anyone who claims to "know" with "absolute confidence" something they can't prove, is to ask, "On what basis do you have absolute confidence in this knowledge if you can't prove it...?"

For the person who knows they saw their neighbor murder his wife - he knows it because he saw it - but if he can't prove it, that person can say, "Well, whether or not I can prove it, I know it because I saw it. I was in the well-lit room with this man when it happened." There is a basis for his saying he knows it, when he can't prove it.

But for the person who insists that his interpretation of Genesis or his understanding of what God wants in regards to war, or investing, that his opinion is something he can know with absolute confidence, the only thing he can offer (so far as I can see) is that he's sure that, to him, his interpretation of the Bible is right and, to him, he thinks the Bible (being read and interpreted as HE does) is providing a "clear" answer that can't be mistaken... In other words, his only authority is that he really thinks it.

That is not comparable to the person who saw something but can't prove it, other than his own interior knowledge that he saw it.

Do you see the problem that I'm having with your approach/opinion on this matter?

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

The obvious follow-up question would be this: even conceding that a person can know SOME unproven (and un-provable) propositions with complete confidence, how can I thus know **THIS** particular proposition, that a text's meaning is X?


Yes, that is sort of my next question, the obvious follow up question, as you note. But not JUST "How do you know that this is what a text's meaning is with complete confidence?" but, "...and even if it is the 'meaning' of the text - ie, that's what the author intended - how do you/we know that it is true/that the author is correct?"

To put in context, EVEN IF the authors of Genesis were thinking "These early stories represent actual history, as it literally happened..." does that mean they were correct in thinking that? The answer would seem to be, of course, no. Merely having an author believe something is not evidence that it is factually correct.

When you get a chance.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

I'll repeat that my stated position is this: some of the Bible's teachings are clear beyond any reasonable or good-faith disagreement.

--

While I personally do believe that God ultimately authored the text through its human authors -- and therefore that the text constitutes a written revelation of God and His will -- and while I believe that it's claims do subsequently correspond to reality, NONE OF THAT is implicit in that stated position.

I've already made this point quite clear, both in the original conversation and here.

Again, see 7/14, 9:37 am.

"I couldn't be more clear about what I'm discussing, **THE CLARITY** of the claims found within the Bible, not the claims' correspondence to reality."

And, again, at the end of last week (7/28, 1:25 pm), I wrote, "the CLARITY of the Bible's teachings here is unmistakable, even if the TRUTHFULNESS is not: the Bible obviously DOES teach that God exists, even if it's not obvious that such a teaching is consistent with reality."

--

I've also distinguished between one's confidence about what he knows and his ability to convince others of what he knows.

7/13, 8:12 am, I agreed, "if I wanted to convince someone else of a claim that *I* know absolutely, and I want him to have equally perfect confidence, proof would be a good way to convince him to that degree."

"But the absence of proof or my inability to produce it isn't enough to damage my confidence in what I know 100% to be true."

--

And I've already addressed what I think should happen in the case of one having absolute confidence in a position for which he cannot provide sufficient proof to satisfy someone else. I've been explicit that people " have the freedom to 'compare notes,' the responsibility to accept where the arguments lead, and the freedom to be intellectually dishonest if they so choose."

7/12, 10:30 am:

"And what happens when, for instance, a professing Christian doubts the sincerity of your profession of faith and expresses that doubt? YOU DEAL WITH IT, both of you do -- he accepts the fact that you cannot be compelled to agree with his assessment, and you accept the fact that he cannot be compelled to change his mind."

--

You act as if I haven't addressed all this already, so, NO, I don't see the problem you have with my position when you continue to add things that I've already addressed as extraneous.

Dan Trabue said...

Re: your opinion get some biblical ideas are clear Beyond a good-faith disagreement... I will repeat my affirmation that you are welcome to believe that. And yet if you cannot prove it I do not think it is reasonable to insist that other people should agree with you.

Do do you see the reasonable-ness of this view?

Dan Trabue said...

Re: "I am discussing CLARITY..." you keep bringing this up. I understand that's what you're speaking of. I'm not sure why you keep bringing it up? My questions stand, whether or not you are speaking of clarity. Do you understand that?

Dan Trabue said...

I also understand that you have talked about what to do if people disagree. I don't see how this has anything to do with what I'm saying or the questions I'm asking. So, I'm not sure why you keep bringing that up.

If you're thinking any of those topics are dealing with what I am actually saying then perhaps you are right... You are not understanding what I'm saying.

Dan Trabue said...

Please understand I'm not saying any of this in anger or to mock you or anything disrespectful. I'm just not clear how what you're saying has anything to do with what I'm asking. It's sort of like if I asked what your favorite sandwich was and you responded, "Well I've already told you that bicycles are not efficient as a mode of transportation, so why do you keep ignoring my answer!?"

It doesn't seem to have anything to do with what I'm saying or asking. Perhaps the confusion is on my part.

Bubba said...

In your comments just prior to my last reply, you mentioned asking "specifically about [my] opinions on what God thinks," and you felt it necessary to state, "Merely having an author believe something is not evidence that it is factually correct."

If you really wonder why I emphasize that my point is the text's clarity and not its truthfulness, the Bible's meaning and not its inspiration, wonder no further: I WAS RESPONDING TO THE COMMENTS YOU HAD POSTED IMMEDIATELY PRIOR.

If you can't remember what you wrote, the truly respectful thing would be to reread your comments on the assumption that a reply is a substantive response and not just speculate that it's a digression on the level of changing the subject from food to bicycles.

--

You say you reiterate:

"Re: your opinion get some biblical ideas are clear Beyond a good-faith disagreement... I will repeat my affirmation that you are welcome to believe that. And yet if you cannot prove it I do not think it is reasonable to insist that other people should agree with you."

I'm not sure YOUR point is germane unless you can show me where I've "insisted" that others agree with me. I don't insist that others agree with me, I just reserve the right to draw negative conclusions -- and express those conclusions -- about a person's intellect or character if he says something as daft as the hunch that the Bible doesn't clearly teach theism.

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

I'm not sure YOUR point is germane unless you can show me where I've "insisted" that others agree with me. I don't insist that others agree with me, I just reserve the right to draw negative conclusions -- and express those conclusions -- about a person's intellect or character if he says something as daft as the hunch that the Bible doesn't clearly teach theism.

I apologize if I was unclear: When I said "insist" others agree with you, what I meant is that I do not think it is reasonable that, should people disagree with you on a point where you can't demonstrate conclusively that you are correct... that you would suggest there must be something wrong with their intellect or character.

"Insist," in the sense of, IF they don't believe your opinion, then you will insist that they are defective in intellect or character.

Do you see the reasonable-ness of this position, now that I've explained it?

Bubba...

you mentioned asking "specifically about [my] opinions on what God thinks," and you felt it necessary to state, "Merely having an author believe something is not evidence that it is factually correct."

I mention that in relation to the point that I am making, that being that we can't prove conclusively that our opinions on what God thinks are "knowable" with absolute certainty. I recognize that you're looking specifically at what is in the text - aside from its factual nature - but I'm not especially debating that. That is your point (one you can't demonstrate) and you're welcome to it, but I'm not worried about demonstrating what is or isn't in the text... I'm concerned about the meaning that people assign to the text, as well as the meaning that they assign to THEIR meaning they've assigned to the text.

Meaning, ultimately, that I'm waiting the answer(s) to the question(s) I'm actually asking. When you get a chance.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan:

For the position that a text's meaning is clear beyond any reasonable doubt, you apparently believe that no proof is sufficient, but for the opposite position, you apparently believe that no proof is even necessary.

I state the obvious, that the Bible is clear in affirming theism, and you balk. But if some fool or fraud stated that the Bible doesn't teach theism, you think it's reasonable to give that person every possible benefit of the doubt, and you haven't mentioned ANY requirement that he present the thinnest shred of evidence for his claim.

You could have tried taking a middle-ground position, that a person may have ALMOST-complete confidence that a text's meaning is clear, IN THE ABSENCE of plausible evidence to the contrary. But you don't.

Not for the first time, your position on the burden of proof is incoherent except in its being self-serving.

And that's not the only indication of hypocrisy on your part.

If you really, TRULY believed that no text's meaning is so clear that it can justify disparaging another person, you would NEVER condemn other people, their words, and their positions as graceless or gossip, childish or hellish, arrogant mind-reading or the slanderous bearing of false witness.

But even apart from all that, NO, I reject your position as the least bit reasonable.

The Bible teaches that God exists.

--and no one can dispute that in good faith, and anyone who would is being unreasonable or dishonest.

--

The questions you're "actually" asking, I've already addressed. I've pointed out my earlier comments that relate to those questions, and you've dismissed them as utterly irrelevant; I pointed out that they were in direct response to your immediately prior comments, and you don't even acknowledge my doing so.

In the general case, I wouldn't find it all that interesting, a discussion on the evils of claiming to speak for God with a person who claims to follow Jesus -- even though Jesus approvingly quoted Moses, David, and Isaiah when they claimed to speak for God, and when Jesus claimed to be EVEN MORE than a divine spokesman.

In your specific case, I'm definitely not interested in continuing a discussion on a subject, when you act, however "respectfully," as if I haven't already weighed in.

No, thank you.

Dan Trabue said...

The topic I am asking you to weigh in on... the question I am seeking an answer to is...

If one cannot prove their opinion is correct and if they have no objective data to demonstrate authoritatively that they are not mistaken on an unproveable opinion, then on what basis can they say they have absolute confidence in their opinion?

Do you think you have answered that question? ...Because I don't see it.

Dan Trabue said...

You noted yourself that there is an obvious follow up question that gets more to the heart of what I'm asking you. You then go on to say that you will be answering that question. I'm looking forward to that because I'm genuinely interested in your answer to that question.

Bubba said...

Dan, I have addressed that question at length, substantively and repeatedly.

You ask:

"If one cannot prove their opinion is correct and if they have no objective data to demonstrate authoritatively that they are not mistaken on an unproveable opinion, then on what basis can they say they have absolute confidence in their opinion?"

I deny the question's premise that knowable implies provable, and I have even disproved the premise by pointing to two counter-examples, one's knowledge of the internal activity of thought and one's knowledge of an external event of the commission of a crime.

I have also challenged you that, if you KNOW that knowable implies provable, you should live up to that premise by providing proof of your position. If you only THINK that your position is true, then -- by your own standards -- your opinion is mere words that I should feel free to reject.

You've acknowledged all this, writing that you're not sure that I'm right and that my point is shockingly philosophical for a question that focuses on epistemology, so I'm annoyed, to say the least, that you continue to write that I haven't tackled your question.

--

As I've just reiterated Monday, I've even distinguished between one's confidence about what he knows and his ability to convince others of what he knows.

The only thing that I haven't said outright is that, since knowable doesn't imply provable, how we can know unprovable propositions depends greatly on the nature of each proposition.

- For COGITO, your own subjective experience of thinking is enough to convince you that you think. If you didn't think, you wouldn't be able to have that subjective experience.

- For your being witness to a guy killing an in-law at a family picnic, the proximity to the person and the event -- your prior relationship with the murderer so that you can identify him without any doubt, and your being close and present to the violent act -- is enough to convince you of what you saw.

This too leads to what I mention as the obvious follow-up question, about how one can be confident about the meaning of a text, but I'm not eager to say anything about that question until you acknowledge that I have indeed addressed the prior question.

Dan Trabue said...

I acknowledge that you do not believe knowable equals provable. That belief you have does not nullify the question. The question remains a reasonable question whether or not you believe that knowable equals provable.

The question: if you can't prove it then how can you have absolute confidence in your opinion?

...is a reasonable question. I addressed your example of the person who had seen something that he could not prove. He has a reason for believing something that he cannot prove. Thus we can answer my reasonable question reasonably... Whether or not one believes that knowable equals provable.

Do you somehow not think it is a reasonable question?

In other words, the objection is irrelevant to the question or its reasonable nature.

I'm addressing this on my phone which is sort of difficult... I'll leave it there for now.

Dan Trabue said...

Put another way...

"Knowable implies provable" is NOT a premise of my question.

That is why it is ok for me to acknowledge what you have said but not dwell on it because it is not my premise. It is irrelevant to the question at hand.

And why is it irrelevant? Because you are not insisting the opposite - that if something can't be proven it must be knowable. You will gladly question the person who insiss that he knows that aliens have visited the planet or who says he knows that God supports gay folk getting married.

It doesn't matter to you that they think they know it or that they have absolute confidence in their opinion... the question would remain, "but on what basis can you have absolute confidence?"

You and I agree that the question is a reasonable question. Does that make sense? Does that explain to you why I did not dwell on your objection?

Dan Trabue said...

You've acknowledged all this, writing that you're not sure that I'm right and that my point is shockingly philosophical for a question that focuses on epistemology, so I'm annoyed, to say the least, that you continue to write that I haven't tackled your question.

I haven't said you haven't said anything about it. Indeed, as you note, I've acknowledged you've written what you've written.

What I said was that you have not, as yet, answered the question. And you haven't. You've talked about the question, you've talked about some issues that you think are related to the question and maybe even important, in your mind, to the question... but that is not the same as answering it. Right?

I'm not sure what you're annoyed about.

Bubba said...

Dan:

At the absolute minimum, my response DOES demolish the question to the degree that the question is asked rhetorically. To the degree that you raise the question with the implicit answer of "No, we cannot know something unless we can prove it," it is entirely germane to point out that knowable DOES NOT imply provable.

It's not enough to acknowledge that I've written what I've written when you don't seem to grasp its relevance to your question -- and what grates is your hair-shirt routine of how no one tackles your questions, where you afford less grace and benefit of the doubt to those who are actually talking with you, than you insist that THEY provide to a hypothetical person who denies that the Bible teaches theism.

I've not only addressed the question, I have now answered it as well, writing that "how we can know unprovable propositions depends greatly on the nature of each proposition."

- For COGITO, your own subjective experience of thinking is enough to convince you that you think. If you didn't think, you wouldn't be able to have that subjective experience.

- For your being witness to a guy killing an in-law at a family picnic, the proximity to the person and the event -- your prior relationship with the murderer so that you can identify him without any doubt, and your being close and present to the violent act -- is enough to convince you of what you saw.

As you say about the second case, "He has a reason for believing something that he cannot prove."

THAT REASON VARIES DEPENDING ON THE ACTUAL CLAIM AT-HAND. Even restricting the subject to claims that cannot proven, your question is EXTREMELY general, and so it can only be answered very generally.

It makes sense to provide a more specific answer ONLY to a more specific question. If you can see that, we can now move on to that more specific follow-up question.

--

As I wrote before:

The obvious follow-up question would be this: even conceding that a person can know SOME unproven (and un-provable) propositions with complete confidence, how can I thus know **THIS** particular proposition, that a text's meaning is X?

(Notice here, again, I'm talking about the meaning of a text, NOT its correspondence with reality or the claim that a particular text is the result of divine revelation.)

Put another way:

How can I have absolute confidence about the meaning of a text? Or at least, how can I can have sufficient confidence to justify disparaging remarks about others?

That IS what lies at the heart of my position, that -- on some points, such as God's existence and the Resurrection's historicity -- the Bible is so abundantly clear that, if anyone denies that the Bible teaches these things, I am justified in drawing negative about his intellect or his character.

Is that your next question? Is that what you're really asking?

Dan Trabue said...

As I pointed out your objection is irrelevant to the question because one it is not part of my premise and to you would ask the same question of others who claim to have absolute confidence it's something they can't prove.

Do you understand why your objection is irrelevant to the question?

To your framing of the question (2 questions, as you see it)...

1. Can I have absolute confidence about the meaning of a text?

Here your use of the word "meaning" is too vague for my tastes. I believe what you're trying to suggest is can I have absolute confidence in my understanding of the author's intent? And that is a reasonable question and the first step to be sure.

But more importantly, I am addressing the question, can I have absolute confidence in my understanding of the meaning at the text as a factual reality?

That is, if I take the Four Corners literally then does that literally mean a. Is that what the author intended AND, does that mean the world is a square?

Or, to use your example, when the author speaks of God as a reality did the author intend that? We both agree that it appears quite clearly to be the case.

But beyond that, does the author believing that God exists mean that God exists in the real world? I'm okay with both questions but I'm primarily interested in the latter.

To give another example, in Leviticus did the author intend to say that some male on male sex behavior is wrong? I think clearly the answer is yes, that is observable in the text. But to extrapolate out that this means all homosexual behavior is wrong or they got things this in the real world is another and more important question. That is the question I am saying that I see no reason for you to say you can have absolute confidence in your opinion... the question of what does God think of this...?

More..

Dan Trabue said...

That first paragraph should have had 1. it is not part of my premise and 2. you would ask the same question.

Dan Trabue said...

Your second question...

how can I have absolute confidence sufficient to criticize others?

...is a totally different question and does not appear to have anything to do with having perfect knowledge or absolute confidence and more to do with how willing you are to criticize others and to what degree? that's not a question I'm really interested in although you are welcome for your opinion.

Dan Trabue said...

But just to illustrate the point... I am confident enough that dropping a bomb on a city that will kill innocent bystanders is wrong that I am more than glad to criticize someone who would advocate that policy. And that has nothing to do with my having absolute confidence and more to do with the fact that innocent lives are in the balance and I am sufficiently confident that this is an atrocity.

Perhaps you were speaking of having sufficient confidence and not absolute confidence...as absolute confidence implies, to me, perfect knowledge whereas sufficient confidence does not.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense to provide a more specific answer ONLY to a more specific question. If you can see that, we can now move on to that more specific follow-up question.

I get that and concede that point gladly.

But to clarify further, I happen to think that the general question is a reasonable question carte blanche. If we have 1,000 people saying that they "know absolutely" 1,000 different things that can't be proven, then I think asking 1,000 times, "on what basis can you have absolute confidence when you can't prove it?" is a reasonable question in each instance, whether it's a zany belief or a more reasonable one (ie, I saw it happen, but can't prove that I saw it happen...).

Further, I would tend to be dubious of "fact" claims that can't be proven at the outset as a general rule and think this is wisest.

Nonetheless, I gladly concede that it can depend (DOES depend) on the claim being made so addressing it to a specific question is appropriate.

Can you concede that the question is, in general, a reasonable question to ask?

~Dan

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