Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hard Questions... Reasonable Questions


I like reading conservative Christian commentary. Call me crazy, but I do. It helps me to think through positions and invariably raises questions. I sometimes ask Stan at the Winging It blog some questions and, even though he doesn't post my questions and says that he doesn't read my questions any more, nonetheless, he regularly answers them, often in a second blog post. Good for him.

He recently did this in his post, "Hard Sayings, Give to the One Who Asks..."

In an earlier post, he raised questions about taking the Bible's teachings literally. I asked him if he took Jesus' command literally, "Give to EVERYONE who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back." and, if so, I would like to ask him for $500, please and thank you.

In his post and his answer to my question, he gave a very good and correct answer, I think. He said...

You may say you believe that all this stuff is woodenly literally true, but what you believe is always displayed in what you do.

No, this can't be taken that way.

Jesus was making broad statements to provide principles. What we need to do is discover the principles He was trying to provide. That's much easier, much clearer, much more reasonable. We are not to hate. We are not to lust. We are supposed to have integrity. These aren't that hard to figure out.

On the question at hand -- "Give to everyone that asks" -- what is the principle? It is unavoidable that the principle is compassion and generosity.


So, Stan is saying that the rules/commands/teachings in the Bible need not always be taken woodenly literally. Even Jesus' commands to his followers are not to be taken woodenly literally. These are more of guidelines, Stan says, not woodenly literal rules.

Well done, I applaud Stan's answer and thank him for answering the question. I followed up with another question, something along the lines of, "Why then, take so many of the more 'sexual teachings' woodenly literally? There are two lines in the OT that say, "Men shall not lie with men. If they do, kill them." and Stan takes that teaching (the first half, anyway) woodenly literally. THAT, he says, is a hard rule for all times and all people. Why does he think that rule should be taken woodenly literally (and indeed, extrapolate out to clarify that this means gay and lesbian people can't marry those they're attracted to, even though that is not a literal rule anywhere in the Bible), but not Jesus' command about money?

And to Stan's credit, he answered that question, too, saying,

The point is not "Don't take it woodenly literal." The point is "Take it as intended. Historical when historical, poetic when poetic, parable when parable, analogy when analogy, hyperbole when hyperbole, doctrinal when doctrinal." Those who take it in a woodenly literal fashion every time make as much of a mistake as those who never take it at face value.

Fair enough. Thanks again for the answer. But then, this begs another question... and that is the point of my raising the initial question and this question remains unanswered:

So, who decides which lines in the Bible ARE to be taken woodenly literally and which are not? Is it not the case that you, Stan, are using your reasoning and making your best judgement to decide if something is literal? And that is certainly what I'm doing.

So, if we are both using our human judgement to make this call, even if you disagree with me, can you not respect that I, too, am seeking the good and the right and God's way? And can you not agree that you have no rational or biblical basis to say, "MY human opinion (and those who agree with me) are authoritatively, objectively correct and those who disagree with us are objectively wrong..."?

The thing is, humility.

We all have our opinions when we read the Bible (or Koran, or Huck Finn, etc) and reach conclusions on truths and opinions. But they are human opinions, God has not told Stan or me what God intended, or what Matthew or Luke intended, when they wrote what they wrote. Except for things that are demonstrable (Israel was an actual nation is provable, Jonah was an actual man is not provable), we can't prove our opinions. They are human opinions and thus, it is not rational or fair for some to say that they are the ones who speak authoritatively for what God intends.

In all things, humility, this is a reasonable opinion on unprovable matters and, I'd say, consistent with biblical teachings.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

~St Paul. Probably.

197 comments:

Anonymous said...

Someone recently asked Stan to compare the belief of American Indians that the hoodoos in Bryce canyon are petrified evil men to the passage in the Bible about a woman being turned into a pillar of salt. Could they have been meant as morality tales? If I understood Stan's response, it was that the former is myth while the latter is historical fact. Is that a pretty standard view among Christians?

~ Hiram

Anonymous said...

I'd say it's a very standard view amongst traditional evangelicals and maybe traditional Catholics. But then, there are more progressive Christians such as my community who do not take it as Stan does.

Dan

Marshall Art said...

Hiram,

I took another look at Stan's response to that comparison and I believe your understanding of it is a bit off. I see Stan as attacking the comparison as a reason to dismiss the miraculous in Scripture and how doing so does damage to the credibility of the rest of it. There's no way to get around the miraculous in Scripture, as miracles are presented from page 1 to the very end. Dan uses a very subjective and convenient means of dismissing much of the OT, particularly the miracles found therein, while assuming better of those that occur in the New Testament.

Like the typical atheist, Dan also points to other religions, even those of mythology, to question the validity of that reported in various parts of Scripture. The argument is as this: "See? Other religions have Great Flood stories, too!" as if that means we can't believe Noah's story is anything more than fable. Just as likely is that the supernatural was more widely witnessed and experienced in ancient times.

But "progressives", a disparaging term as it is contrasted with "traditionalists", are way too sophisticated to believe in the possibility of the miraculous. But progressives aren't progressive or sophisticated at all, and certainly not for dismissing the miraculous in favor of alternative, self-satisfying explanations. Indeed, such people have existed from the beginning, parroting the serpent in the Garden asking "Did God really say...?" whenever something in Scripture is inconvenient or personally disappointing.

Marshall Art said...

As to the post itself, Dan makes the same argument he always does, that there is no way to determine what to take literally and what to take metaphorically/rhetorically or as hyperbole.

Stan, on the other hand, has spelled it out pretty well simply by referring to Scriptural context, historical/archaeological understandings, traditional church understandings, etc. Dan pays lip service to these if he gives them any service at all because he needs ambiguity in order to legitimize illegitimate beliefs and positions. Therefore, Dan uses to his advantage the fact that the Bible hasn't erected specifics ("Take this literally", "Take this metaphorically") in order to pretend there are problems with clarity where none truly exist.

Dan refers to Lev 18:22 as one that has been a major point of contention. "Why do conservatives take this literally, but not Christ's teachings about charity?" The answer is easy enough, and Stan did a better than adequate job of making the distinctions. Dan pretends they aren't clear. But let's look at that verse. It says, depending upon the Bible one uses, "Thou shalt not..." and it refers to a specific action or behavior. In short, "Don't do this." There's no principle one can point to by this verse alone, but the verse is incredibly specific with relation to the behavior in question. No where is there any suggestion of a context or scenario in which it is OK to engage in the behavior, and no suggestion exists anywhere throughout Scripture. If there is any general principle toward which this verse points beyond the prohibition of the behavior itself, it is found as one considers the entire chapter, which deals mostly with sexual behavior. The principle is "what is sexual immorality" and all the behavior/practices/acts listed constitute sexual immorality.

The charitable "commands" of Christ, however, clearly would result in abject and widespread poverty were they to be taken literally. More illogically and inanely, they would result in a constant redistribution of wealth between haves and have nots as each group would constantly be one or the other depending on who was just given all that the other just had.

I get calls most every day from one organization or another asking for donations. How can I possibly give to all without at some point putting my own self in financial jeopardy? Clearly, there is no logic to taking Christ's charitable commands at face value, while the sexual prohibitions do not suffer from that conundrum at all.

Dan continually defends his positions as that which his "reason" has justified. But the truth is that he merely reasons his way toward that which he preferred in the first place, expecting us to believe that he firmly believed as we did in years past, as if reason ever played a role in those beliefs. Or perhaps he means that until he became "progressive", reason was never played a role in those beliefs, and by extension, he means that those of us who are more conservative in our positions have no relationship with reason.

No. Dan has reasoned well. He has reasoned that the more certain we are about what Scripture says, the more his positions are opposed to what God/Christ/Scripture teaches.

Anonymous said...

Marshall, in nearly every (or perhaps every) point you make about me here, you literally misunderstand my words and beliefs. If you can't read and understand my human words, written in a modern time and context and your own language in efforts specifically to help people like you to understand, on what basis do you think you understand the Bible?

Dan

Anonymous said...

Dan uses a very subjective and convenient means of dismissing much of the OT,

Dan does dismiss the OT. That I dismiss your insistent human hunches about how to take the OT does not mean I dismiss the OT. That I try to take the OT as I think it should clearly be taken (as best as I understand it) is not the same as not accepting your human hunches. You see, Marshall, I do not conflate your human hunches with the Bible or the OT.

See, you literally have misunderstood my words, even when I've clarified this point repeatedly.

Dan also points to other religions, even those of mythology, to question the validity of that reported in various parts of Scripture.

I do not question the "validity" of various parts of Scripture. I question the rationality and biblical accuracy of your hunches about biblical interpretations.

See the difference?

"progressives..." are way too sophisticated to believe in the possibility of the miraculous.

I don't dismiss the possibility of the miraculous. You literally and exactly oppositely understood my words.

Understand?

Therefore, Dan uses to his advantage the fact that the Bible hasn't erected specifics ("Take this literally", "Take this metaphorically") in order to pretend there are problems with clarity where none truly exist.

I literally do not pretend there are problems with scriptural clarity where none exists. I point to very real differences of human opinions on how to interpret some passages. That is a fact, not pretend. Indeed, if anyone is pretending, it's those who insist that no possible different understandings can exist when, clearly, in the real world, they do exist.

Who's pretending? It's not me.

So again, seeing as how on every point, you literally misunderstand my points/opinions, on what basis do you think you can reasonably and reliably understand the Bible?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

That first line should have read, "Dan does not dismiss the OT..."

Dan

Anonymous said...

An online skeptic makes a New Testament connection that had never occurred to me. In brief: "Paul has a direct experience with the risen Jesus while traveling, he says. But then he goes off to talk to Peter to make sure he's is preaching the right gospel. Isn't it strange that he would need to confirm with a fallible human being that what he heard directly from the Almighty was theologically correct?"

Anybody?

~ Hiram

Anonymous said...

Seems reasonable. Any supernatural and non-provable experience could be something related to our fallible human understanding. If someone today says they've heard from God that we should juggle babies for the first three months of their lives, I'd hope they'd run that past other believers for confirmation (recognizing that these other humans are fallible, too. Still, seems to me that Paul was being prudent.

I'd sorta suggest those who claim that God is opposed to gay folk marrying today or that transgender is is wrong would embrace that same model. Or really, anyone who claims to speak authoritatively for God (or Allah, etc)...

Dan

Anonymous said...

As to another misunderstanding of what I'm saying (and which gets to the point of this post), Marshall says...

Dan makes the same argument he always does, that there is no way to determine what to take literally and what to take metaphorically/rhetorically or as hyperbole.

I don't think I'm saying "there's no way of knowing." I'm saying that we can't say authoritatively. I think we can reasonably know how to interpret much of the Bible, including parts where you hold a different opinion than I do. For instance, I think we can reasonably be sure that Genesis is not a literal history.

I can't say authoritatively that this was the intent of the AUTHOR, that is, I can't speak for the author and say with no doubt, THIS is what the author meant, but I do think we can reasonably know it's largely imagery, given the text, the context and the time it was passed on, as well as what it says.

There is a difference, though, in saying, "I think we can reasonably understand meaning here..." vs "I am speaking with the authority of GOD when I tell you, THIS is what God meant by those verses..."

Do you understand what I'm actually saying and how you were mistaken?

Conversely, if you claim to be able to speak authoritatively and be objectively correct in your human opinion on some of these areas of disagreement about our human opinions of various biblical texts, then perhaps you can answer the question that Stan won't/can't answer?

Who decides which lines in the Bible ARE to be taken woodenly literally and which are not?

Is it not the case that you, Marshall, are using your reasoning and making your best judgement to decide if something is literal? And that, in the same way, I am using my human reasoning and judgement to decide meaning?

If so, on whose authority and what reliable criteria are you authoritatively and demonstrably correct? Please demonstrate with objective data.


~Dan

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dan.

That online skeptic brings up another interesting point.

"If people really believed what they say they believe, seriously, then the greatest act of love one could express is to be like the mothers who have killed their children in order to send them directly on to heaven so that they wouldn't have to risk potentially being polluted by a sinful world and going to hell. If Christian theology is correct, then that may be the most loving act one could ever do-- to damn oneself to hell in order to guarantee that one's children get to live forever."

What would be the comeback to that idea?

Anonymous said...

It's a good and reasonable question. Tough, though.

I guess I'd say that I believe in life after death, in heaven, in God's realm (here on earth and after life). But what if I'm mistaken? Who am I to make that decision for another person?

Also, I DO believe in God's realm in the here and now. Who am I to deny this little one that opportunity to be part of that realm? What if I'm right about God's realm, here and now, but not about an afterlife? I would have then denied this young one that chance to take part in the here and now.

I guess I'd say that sounds presumptuous: To make decisions for someone else based on my partial knowledge/opinions, and presumption is a pretty serious wrong.

There are some answers, for what they're worth.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Noted.

~ H.

Marshall Art said...

"Marshall, in nearly every (or perhaps every) point you make about me here, you literally misunderstand my words and beliefs."

Not at all. The reality is that the conclusions those like me draw from your own words are not disabused by your protests against those conclusions your own words continue to provoke. It's akin somewhat to one saying one thing and then doing another. The fact is that I understand your words quite well. You seem to equate your words with those of the various Biblical authors, whose character is not in question, and whose agenda is less so. I have no trouble understanding them...at least as far as regards the many issues we've debated over the years. I don't even believe that YOU have much trouble understanding them. You just don't like what they've been saying. So you dismiss and reject what you don't like, and rationalize it with a host of faulty explanations, such as "mythic writing", and straight out deceptions...such as there being confusion over why a Levitical law can't be taken "woodenly literally" and why "give away everything to the poor" should be. Such puts YOUR ability to reason in serious question...not ours.

Marshall Art said...

Not much time, so I'm skipping some other points in Dan's response to me for now, to get to Hiram's last. Have you been reading my blog, Hiram? The question of aborted babies came up there (or is your name really "Erik"?)

There's nothing in Christian theology that suggests that helping anyone on their way to heaven is good for either the killed or the killer. Such speculation ignores Christian teaching completely. Lives belong to God and are His to be taken by HIS pleasure. While human agency can be a means by which that is accomplished, as it was so often in the Old Testament stories that Dan rejects because of his need for a hippie god instead of a God who takes care of business, that's hugely different than for anyone to consciously decide they are going to kill for the purpose to which you allude. It doesn't make such mothers loving at all. It makes them murderers and nothing less.

As to Dan's response, it too lacks true Christian conviction and a fear of rejection by the world (as opposed to a fear of displeasing God). If he is truly a Christian, then there is no way he cannot believe there definitely exists and afterlife. Indeed, for a Christian, it's a given. As such, that knowledge plays no role in how a Christian responds to the notion of abortion on demand for any reason not related to a real potential for death of a woman should she decide to give birth...an incredible unlikely possibility in this day and age.

Dan, who recently admitted that he does not in any way value the lives of the unborn...another totally unChristian position, can only suggest "it's up to the mother" while he holds that egregious lie as truth (that the unborn is not a person). But an actual Christian has no trouble standing up for innocent lives, born or unborn, as he is well aware that there is no difference simply because one has yet to pass through the birth canal. If Dan would stand against a mother killing her born child, he cannot be indifferent to her actions against her unborn child and be honest, consistent and Christian. Pretending it is based upon what he can't know with absolute certainty (parallel to the certainty that he himself exists), is a heinous lie and a cheap rationalization.

This is not "making decisions for someone else" anymore than it would be to deny a woman the "right" to kill her five year old child. It's among the lamest of arguments Dan has ever had the audacity to put forth as thoughtful and reasoned opinion.

Anonymous said...

So you dismiss and reject what you don't like, and rationalize it with a host of faulty explanations, such as "mythic writing"

Marshall, you do not understand my positions. That, or you understand and deliberately misrepresent them.

It is not "rejecting" or "dismissing" a passage that is written in an apparent mythic manner to think "Oh, this is written in an apparent mythic manner..." any more than it is rejecting scripture to say, "Oh, that parable is written as a parable..." It's simply striving to understand the text aright.

No matter how many times you might say, "I know best what Dan means and it means X" does not mean that I mean X. In fact, in the real world, I do understand and know my position better than you and you are misrepresenting/misunderstanding it.

Brother, don't be an ass.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Marshall, I see very little reason to conclude that Genesis is mythic while simultaneously concluding that, say, Luke's gospel is reliable history. The NT writers seem to treat Genesis as historical, as do the teachers whose speeches these writers record, both the Messiah and His hand-picked Apostles.

Genesis has men talking with angels, destructive flood waters, an extremely old woman giving birth, and God creating man from earth.

Luke begins his gospel by claiming to record a carefully researched and carefully organized account of what has been proclaimed by eyewitnesses -- and he has men talking with angels, a man calming the waters and a turbulent storm, an extremely old woman giving birth AND a virgin giving birth, and God raising men from the dead.

(And Genesis has the curse of Babel in which communication is miraculously frustrated, while Luke's apparent sequel Acts has the blessing of Pentecost in which that curse is briefly but miraculously undone.)

The difference isn't entirely clear to me, but it's largely a distraction from the larger point: whether Genesis' historicity is clear from the text is merely a detail, Dan's overall argument seems to be that there are NO clear teachings from the Bible, at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

Set aside monotheism and trinitarianism: even simple theism isn't a clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible doesn't actually teach "God exists" with sufficient clarity that precludes any alternatives; "God exists" is just your human interpretation of the text and is therefore fallible, and if someone claims that he believes the Bible teaches that there is no God, humility requires you, at a minimum, to accept that he is being honest and sincere and he is acting in good faith.

Ditto the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, setting aside His deity and bodily resurrection: "Jesus actually lived" is only your fallible human interpretation of the text.

It's simply not true that the Bible teaches ANYTHING with sufficient clarity to preclude any reasonable disagreement.

- You cannot say, "God's greatest commandment to us is to love Him wholeheartedly." If you do, you're arrogantly presuming to speak for God.

- You cannot even say, "The Bible clearly teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God." If you do, you're arrogantly presuming to speak for the Bible's writers.

- Humility REQUIRES you to preface these statements with "I believe," and to abstain both from drawing any disparaging conclusions about the reasonableness and honesty of those who disagree and especially from expressing those conclusions.

Dan can certainly say whether I misunderstand him -- and if he does, he should ALSO clarify his position -- but this does seem to be position.

Ostensibly in an attempt to follow the Great Teacher, Dan asserts that the essential clarity of ALL His teachings -- and of the OT prophets He endorsed and the NT apostles He commissioned -- effectively vanished with the last New Testament writer, since his death ended his ability to confirm and clarify what he wrote.

This isn't just a theory which Dan provisionally holds, it's dogma, and while we are supposedly forbidden from questioning the character of those who dispute even the clearest teachings of the Bible, he does not hesitate from impugning the character of those who dispute his dogma -- from denouncing us as arrogant, and from accusing us of presuming to speak for God.

How does he know his dogma is true beyond any possible doubt?

And how can the virtue of humility permit him to denounce those who dispute this dogma?

Those are questions I'd love to see him tackle.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Marshall. I have not yet read your blog, though I will probably do so eventually. I don't know who Erik is. I concentrate my blog-reading time on Stan and Dan, because the debate between them reminds me of my own internal debate for half a year during my teens, when I was moving in the Stan ----> Dan direction.

Their tete-a-tetes are on my mind enough that I frequently find myself wondering, "What would Stan and Dan have to say about THAT?"

For instance, a day or two ago the weather news showed an overhead view of Elk City, Oklahoma, after a tornado went through. I noticed that a house on one side of the street would be basically demolished, while the house just across the street might be intact, with maybe just some debris from other houses peppered on its roof and yard.

I asked myself, "Would a Christian say there is a correlation between the damage the tornado does to houses and the state of salvation of the occupants of the houses?"

My guess was that Dan would say there is no correlation, and Stan would say there is a correlation, in that the hardest-hit properties tend to belong to the most faithful believers. Stan emphasizes that strife and pain in one's life are indicators that a person is in the will of God, because the New Testament says this will be the case. "Paul was not spared from beheading. Why should any other man of God be spared from trauma?"

Still other Christians would say that the houses of sincere believers will be spared, in accordance with scripture that tells us the Lord is our shepherd and is faithful to answer prayer.

~ Hiram

Anonymous said...

Bubba, like Marshall, still does not understand or represent my position accurately. F'r instance...

Dan's overall argument seems to be that there are NO clear teachings from the Bible, at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

I DO think there are very clear teachings in the Bible. Abundantly clear. Clear enough that it should be evident to everyone.

That Jesus taught simple living and avoiding wealth accumulation. That Jesus taught something close to pacifism for his followers. That Genesis is clearly mythic in nature. These are all abundantly clear, I think.

Where I make a distinction though, is that I acknowledge that people of good will can and do disagree, even on these texts where it seems like it should be abundantly clear. That is, I think these texts are abundantly clear that lead to these conclusions. BUT, I acknowledge the reality that some people read those same texts and come to different, even polar opposite conclusions.

That is, I acknowledge reality. People DO disagree, even when one or the other "side" thinks there human interpretation is abundantly clear.

This is just reality. What is there to disagree with?

Bubba does come closer to correctly understanding my position with this, however...

It's simply not true that the Bible teaches ANYTHING with sufficient clarity to preclude any reasonable disagreement.

But that is not how I understand it exactly.

I would say that, as a point of fact, the Bible does not "teach" anything. It is text. We can find facts or truths or points to think about in the text, but the Bible isn't "teaching" us. It CONTAINS teachings of people, but the Bible is not teaching.

That is just reality and a more technically exact way of saying what I think Bubba is getting at. Agreed?

Now, given that the Bible contains these teachings of others... then what? Do people find some of these texts and their meaning to be obvious, even abundantly clearly obvious? Yes, in the real world, that observably is true.

And, is it not also true that even though people find some texts and their intent clear, that other people of good will do not agree with the first person's understanding? Is it not true that people of good will DO disagree on just about any human understanding found in the Bible?

Yes, that is also demonstrably true.

So, I point to the reality that
1. the Bible DOES literally contain teachings
2. People DO have understandings of those teachings and think those teachings are abundantly clear
3. Other people of good will disagree with those understandings.

This is reality (and a better representation of my position... that is, I agree with reality).

Do you disagree?

This isn't just a theory which Dan provisionally holds, it's dogma, and while we are supposedly forbidden from questioning the character of those who dispute even the clearest teachings of the Bible

Again, I am point to reality, not a theory. Data, not dogma. If you can honestly show actual data to support some opposite factual conclusion, I am always glad to hear it. I don't think you can, but by all means, correct me with data if you can. I'd greatly appreciate it.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

How does he know his dogma is true beyond any possible doubt?

And how can the virtue of humility permit him to denounce those who dispute this dogma?


Answered. I'm pointing to data, not dogma. Your task, then, is to demonstrate with data:

1. That the Bible itself is doing some "teaching..." I don't know how you would support that claim, but you can try. Or, put another way...

1a. That the Bible does NOT contain teachings/stories/opinions of people/the writers, but is, itself, somehow teaching.

2. I assume we all agree that many people think that at least some biblical texts are abundantly clear, but if you disagree, please provide data to support your theory.

3. That people of good will do NOT disagree with other people of good will on these teachings. Again, I don't think you can dispute this (how would you?), but if you can, by all means, provide some data.

~dan

Anonymous said...

As to your first comment about not seeing a reason to take Genesis as mythic and Luke as more historic, how about obvious textual and contextual clues? Genesis was compiled in the time before modern recorded history. Luke was written in the beginning centuries of modern recorded history. That's hella significant. Also, Genesis reads like ancient mythic stories, Luke doesn't.

You may disagree with the conclusion, but you can't reasonably wave off these significant reasons.

Dan

Craig said...

Hiram,

Perhaps if you have questions about Stan and what he thinks, it would be wise to actually ask him and get his response rather than to post assumption at some other blog.

Bubba,

Did you notice how Dan jumped right in with his "you don't understand me" schtik, and then proceeded to demonstrate exactly why you've said what you've said.

The mere instance of disagreement or differences on any given topic does not mean that all sides are of equal value.

Anonymous said...

You are correct, Craig, in saying that mere disagreement does not mean that all sides are of equal value. For instance, I rightly and factually pointed out that Bubba misstated my position. He said I think X and I don't think X. It was factually wrong, objectively so.

You then came in and offered another "side," that my pointing out the mistake was a shtick. Both sides in that exchange are not equally valid. My point was a statement of fact while yours was a trifling attempt to marginalize or demonize my statement of fact.

Dan

Craig said...

Of course Dan, your statements are always factual and 100% backed by irrefutable data.

Of course the fact that you regularly trot out the "you don't understand me" schtik whenever it's convenient just increases its factual validity.

In this case, in your attempt to demonstrate Bubba's misstatement of your position, you proceed to misstate his position and demonstrate why his characterization of your position is closer to the truth than you may realize.

But, that's just me humbly offering an opinion, because opinion is all there is.

Bubba said...

Dan, I appreciate the feedback.

--

On my supposedly misunderstanding you, it appears that it ALL comes down to the distinction you make between the claim that a text "teaches" and that it merely "contains teaching."

One can make a distinction between the two, but it's a distinction without a real difference, because THEY SAY THE SAME THING, except that the former is figurative and the latter is literal.

- "Paul taught the Galatian churches through his written correspondence" is true, and I think it's put quite literally.

- "Paul's Epistle to the Galatians contains Paul's teachings to the Galatian churches" is ALSO true: it's literal, and it's an EFFECTIVELY equivalent statement.

- "Paul's Epistle to the Galatians taught the Galatian churches" is LIKEWISE true and EFFECITVELY equivalent, the only difference is that it's figurative insofar as it anthropomorphizes the communication medium through which Paul taught his audience.

Emphasizing that difference is pedantic in the extreme -- and I doubt you're serious about this difference beyond your need to find ANYTHING to justify your claim that you're poor widdle misunderstood Dan and I'm yet another thickheaded critic who just can't seem to understand anything.

Are you careful to avoid telling a pastor or lecturer things like, "last week's sermon taught me a lot"? If somebody tells you that your Bible lesson or blog post taught him something important, are you fastidious in correcting that person -- "my post didn't teach you, *I* taught you through that post"? I frankly doubt it.

--

But set aside that silly little distinction between a person teaching through a text and the person's text doing the teach, and what other differences remain between your stated beliefs and my summary of the same? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, as far as I can tell.

You write, You write, "I DO think there are very clear teachings in the Bible. Abundantly clear. Clear enough that it should be evident to everyone."

But you add, "Where I make a distinction though, is that I acknowledge that people of good will can and do disagree, even on these texts where it seems like it should be abundantly clear. That is, I think these texts are abundantly clear that lead to these conclusions. BUT, I acknowledge the reality that some people read those same texts and come to different, even polar opposite conclusions."

My summary of your position is this:

"Dan's overall argument seems to be that there are NO clear teachings from the Bible, at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement."

That ***DOES*** seem exactly accurate, a precise summary of your position.

This rigmarole is a continuation of a discussion where you seem to be arguing over absolutely nothing.

- I conclude, for good reason, that you don't believe any teaching of the Bible is clear.

- You explan that, no, no, you think there ARE abundantly clear teachings, you just believe that (as you put it here) "people of good will can and do disagree, even on these texts where it seems like it should be abundantly clear."

- So, I elaborate that you don't believe any teaching is **CLEAR ENOUGH** to preclude good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

- For some reason, you still object, but nothing you ever subsequently write explains why.

You seem irrationally committed to the position that I don't understand or represent your position accurately, even when there's no apparent daylight between what you write and how I summarize it.

If there is ANY difference between the two -- beyond the pedantics about whether a text teaches or its author teaches through it -- I urge you to spell it out.

Until you do, I can only conclude that you're doing what you mock in quoting Monty Python here on your blog, producing "just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says."

Bubba said...

Hiram, I know you've been addressing others here, but I do want to tell you that I think there's limited utility in looking to Dan Trabue to provide one side in any particular argument, particularly those touching upon Christianity.

I say this as someone who has engaged Dan, off and on, for about a decade, and I say this as someone who doesn't agree with Stan on everything, as I think that, in his commitment to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, he dogmatically deemphasizes and even denigrates free will beyond what the biblical text actually requires.

In my experience -- and this *IS* only my experience, to which Dan does object, but with which others like Craig would probably concur -- Dan holds some quite radical beliefs but obfuscates in order to present his beliefs as **FAR** more moderate, more mainstream, and more small-o orthodox than they really are.

These radical beliefs are why I seriously doubt that Dan's theology falls anywhere within the scope of orthodoxy -- of biblical Christianity, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the OT prophets He endorsed and the NT apostles He commissioned, all preserved in Scripture -- but it is this obfuscation that leads me to question Dan's character.

It seems to me that Dan can write quite plainly when he wants to, and because the muddying is always in the same direction -- always toward making the radical seem moderate and the heterodox orthodox -- I have exhausted every benefit of the doubt I could extend to Dan, and I have concluded that this obfuscation is deliberate.

I believe that Dan's writing is often intended to mislead, even if it never is false or inaccurate in the strictest possible sense. It's like Bill Clinton's testimony regarding Monica Lewinsky, hinging on how one defines such common words as "is" and "alone." Because there were other people in the same building (the White House, which is occupied by security and other staff 24/7!) but not the same room, Clinton argued that it wasn't strictly a lie to say that he and his intern were never alone together. In Clinton's case, the testimony was strictly accurate but intended to mislead.

I think the same is true in Dan's case: his writing is often strictly accurate but willfully misleading. I believe he wants his readers to embrace him as a moderate and reasonable brother in Christ (and embrace his beliefs as acceptable), and he throws a fit whenever anyone calls him out on his misleading rhetoric and/or gets to the heart of his extreme positions.

--

I'm not asking you to take my word on this, feel free to dialogue with Dan on your own, and see if you don't experience the same thing.

On the claim that the Bible clearly teaches the virgin birth (even if the doctrine is only a "clear" and not an "essential" teaching), on the causal connection between Christ's death and our forgiveness, on the necessity of the bodily Resurrection, Dan holds some quite unorthodox beliefs. See if you can nail him down on those beliefs.

Or on a simple question of Christian ethics, Dan believes that it's wrong for us to take human life, *NOT* because the act is God's prerogative, but because it's wrong intrinsically, so that even God Almighty is forbidden from ending the life that He Himself created. See if you can get him to say this plainly.

I wish you luck.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was clear,but to re-clarify: you misstate my position when you say I do no think anything is clear in the Bible, when the fact is the exact opposite. I think much is abundantly clear in the Bible, especially in Jesus' teachings.

Do you understand that much?

Beyond that, I allowed that you were closer to correct when you said I don't think it's clear beyond any good-faith disagreement.

Do you understand that much?

The distinction I made is this: I'm not offering an opinion, it's just reality. I'm assuming you agree with reality because I assume you're not that confused.

So, I'm just stating the obvious and observable: people of good faith do disagree on a wide variety of biblical texts and their meaning.

Do you understand that?

So, what specifically are you suggesting I've gotten wrong?

Dan

Anonymous said...

As to the last comment, all I can say is that I never deliberately obfuscat r write in a deliberately confusing or misleading manner. The reality is the exact polar opposite. I strive mightily to be as clear as I can, to convey my actual positions. Whatever feelings and guesses you may have, Bubba, you're just flatly mistaken in the real world on that point.

Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, I **KNOW** you disagree with my assessment that you deliberately obfuscate -- I already said as much!! -- but I also have it on good authority that one can judge a tree by its fruits, and even our short exchange here speaks for itself, to say nothing of the literal tens of thousands of words we've exchanged over the years.

Anyway...

I'd rather get to the plausibility of your position once we've hashed out what your position actually is.

You write, "you misstate my position when you say I do no[t] think anything is clear in the Bible, when the fact is the exact opposite."

BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID.

(And, to be precise, I was writing not speaking, just as texts merely contain teachings and are not themselves human teachers. It's funny how selectively fluent you can be with the use of figurative language.)

Long, long ago, I concluded that you don't think anything is clear in the Bible, you explained your position, AND SO I CLARIFIED WHAT I MEANT.

I have since tried to be very, very diligent in keeping that clarification explicit every time I try to summarize my position.

That clarification is essential to that summary.

So it misstates that summary to remove it in your excerpt of it.

I didn't JUST write, you don't think anything is clear in the Bible.

I very specifically elaborated -- and I quote from my first comment here -- "there are NO clear teachings from the Bible, at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement." (Here, the boldface type is new.)

Again, in my follow-up, I elaborate that "you don't believe any teaching is **CLEAR ENOUGH** to preclude good-faith, reasonable disagreement." (Here the bold was in the original, in an evidently fruitless attempt to get you to address my summary in toto.)

The way I put it, in its entirety, DOES appear to be accurate.

(About this longer version, you write, "I allowed that you were closer to correct when you said I don't think it's clear beyond any good-faith disagreement." What do you mean CLOSER to correct, and not just merely "correct"? What is the difference between that summary and your position?)

You seem to believe that no teaching contained in the text of the Bible is -- AND THIS ENTIRE PHRASE IS IMPORTANT, DAN -- **SUFFICIENTLY** clear to preclude all reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

If you can acknowledge that I do understand your position after all, we can move on to the credibility of that position. If you can't do that, I don't see the point of addressing what you claim to present reality in support of that position; I don't see why you should expect me to (warning: figurative language ahead) wrestle with your position if you don't think I can even accurately summarize it.

Craig said...

So, your position is "because disagreement exists, the meaning of the text cannot be anything but opinion", yet you are clear in acknowledging that not all disagreements are equally valid.

How does one use the mere presence of disagreement to validate their position while acknowledging that the disagreements themselves may be invalid or in bad faith?

You've mentioned two "teachings" which you believe to be binding on all of humanity or all followers of Jesus in all times and circumstances, yet can't provide anything unequivocal to prove your point. Further, if one accepts your opinions, one must reconcile them with the rest of scripture as well as with the factually recorded behavior of those who Christ directly taught.

Of course, then your problem becomes that you deny any authority to those teachings. You've been clear that the Bible is not a "rule book" and that the Bible has no "authority", which makes one wonder why you bother. Even if your opinions are "right", it makes no never mind because the presence of disagreement diminishes your opinion and the fact that there are no "rules" means that it's really just a couple of suggestions to be taken or left as one pleases.

Craig said...

Hiram,

I second Bubba's comment of advise. Dan represents a small minority of thought in the broader world of Christianity and is not always willing to take an unequivocal stand on any issues. Just as Paul taught, test any of us against the standard of scripture. Don't just assume that because Dan and Stan disagree that either of them is right. Personally I rarely agree with Dan, but on occasion it happens, I don't always agree with Stan either.

I'd suggest asking simple, direct questions to whoever you want to, and compare the answers you get.

Please don't ask Dan (or anyone else) to speak for Stan or vice versa, your less likely to get a good response the further you go from the source.

Anonymous said...

your position is "because disagreement exists, the meaning of the text cannot be anything but opinion", yet you are clear in acknowledging that not all disagreements are equally valid.

My position is if the author's intended meaning of a text is not provable, then it must be an opinion, because facts are provable.

It is my position because it is factual and I imagine it is your opinion because, what's the other option? That we all "know" our "facts" are "right," even when we can't prove them and they are contradictory to each other's "facts..."?

How does one use the mere presence of disagreement to validate their position while acknowledging that the disagreements themselves may be invalid or in bad faith?

One does not use the mere presence of disagreement to validate their position. Why would one?

My opinions on points where we disagree are reasonable because they stand up to good reasonable consideration, for instance, not because someone disagrees with me. I'm sure you think the same thing, even though we disagree.

Not sure of your point.

You've mentioned two "teachings" which you believe to be binding on all of humanity or all followers of Jesus in all times and circumstances,

I don't know what you're speaking of, but I'm pretty sure that this is not anything I've done. I imagine it's another instance of you misunderstanding something I've said, as opposed to me actually saying that. By all means, tell me the two teachings I've said are binding on all of humanity.

if one accepts your opinions, one must reconcile them with the rest of scripture as well as with the factually recorded behavior of those who Christ directly taught.

Why? Says who?

Jesus taught the many things he had to say about the topics of wealth and poverty. I think he taught many wise and prudent things on the topic. Including the notion (perhaps indirectly) of living simply. But my opinion about living simply does not rely upon Scripture for its defense.

Again, not sure what you're speaking of, but it does not appear to be rational. Perhaps if you said what "opinions" you're speaking of, we could be more specific.

cont'd...

Anonymous said...

You've been clear that the Bible is not a "rule book"

Indeed, it's not. If one takes it that way, I'd suggest that they've completely misunderstood the whole of the Bible and specifically, Jesus' teachings.

...and that the Bible has no "authority", which makes one wonder why you bother.

Why I bother with what? I value the Bible as a book of truth and which contains stories telling about amazing grace as it relates to humanity. Thus, I read it for its truths. Likewise, I value the poetry of the Muslim poet, Rumi, and value and read it for its truths. Why would I not bother reading what I think leads to Truth?

And the Bible has no authority. It is a book. A literally human compilation of literally human writings that, I believe, were inspired by God. BUT, it claims no authority for itself. Why would you insist the Bible has Authority, when the Bible (ie, your authority) makes no such claim for itself? That seems counterproductive and self-defeating.

GOD, on the other hand, I believe has authority, because... God. But the Bible is a book, not an authority. We lean too close to worshiping the Thing rather than God when we start giving a book authority.

Seems to me.

Even if your opinions are "right", it makes no never mind because the presence of disagreement diminishes your opinion

How? Says who? My opinions stand or fall on how reasonable and apt and applicable and righteous they are. As do yours.

If I argue against slavery because it is an affront to humanity (and God) and human liberty, the argument stands as right and reasonable to those who are swayed by those arguments, whether or not I include biblical defense for that position.

That someone disagrees with me and thinks slavery is good does not render my opinion diminished in anyway. How could it?

I just don't know what you're getting at. None of your points seem to stand up to reason... they seem vague and unsupported claims. You'll have to start supporting them with something, I think, if you want to make an impression.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

I **KNOW** you disagree with my assessment that you deliberately obfuscate -- I already said as much!! -- but I also have it on good authority that one can judge a tree by its fruits

I disagree with your assessment because it is factually mistaken. I KNOW it is factually mistaken because I know my motives. I'm just pointing out reality. I have never argued dishonestly nor have I ever deliberately obfuscated. That's just reality and I know it because it's MY mind we're speaking of.

This is all a silly trifling aside, but while we're here, I've a question for you, Bubba. IF you visited and got to know me and talked with my friends and family, do you think you'd be surprised that they'd all attest that I am not a liar, and that I am generally a very decent guy...?

That I am just what I say I am... that I was raised in a conservative Baptist church (Victory Memorial Baptist), was saved at the age of ten, that I've been a regular reader of the Bible for all these years, that I rededicated my life to Jesus and got more serious (at an adult level) about my Christianity at the age of 16, that I was in a conservative Christian band for ten years going around preaching and singing a very traditional (anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality-normalization, anti-sexual promiscuity, biblical literalist and inerrantist, etc, etc, etc) message, that my influences back then were James Dobson, CS Lewis, Leonard Ravenhill, Billy Graham, RA Torrey, Jonathan Edwards, etc, etc... that I was just who I said I was and am just who I say I am?

Or do you think this is a complete ruse? That I have not been married for 30+ years to one woman, that I don't pour myself out in service to/with my church, that I don't actually love the Bible and God? (and I'm saying all this in no way to build myself up, but just trying to describe who I actually am and what I've actually done and do...)

Do you think it's a ruse or do you think I am who I say I am, but I'm just so confused that I get it all wrong?

I may have asked you this before and, if so, I apologize. My memory, she's not so great.

~Dan

Craig said...

Of course you don't know what I'm getting at, I hadn't the faintest idea that you would.

It doesn't surprise me that you don't see the inconsistency in your position, nor does it surprise me that you are unable to identify the two specific teachings you mentioned as being "abundantly clear", teachings that you clearly believe apply to all people or at a minimum all believers. The fact that you can't now identify these teachings is strange, but not surprising.

Ultimately the problem you have is that using your own standards and logic, you cannot rationally claim that these "abundantly clear" teachings can or should be applied in any way beyond individuals choosing a certain behavior based on their opinions. Again, while these teachings may or may not be as "abundantly clear" as you imagine, by your own standards they have no authority. They're just nice suggestions to be applied or ignored at will.

I'm sure you realize that there actually is a discipline which does allow the ascertaining of the intent of the author. But, even if this wasn't the case, you again act as if you know the intent of the author (or speaker), while denying that the intent can be known.

Finally, I realize that what I've done here is to give you an excuse to avoid dealing with Bubba. I can't undo what I've done, but I regret it.

Dan Trabue said...

To your points. Bubba:

THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID.

In fact, you literally did. You said, and I quote,

"Dan's overall argument seems to be that there are NO clear teachings from the Bible...

...at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement."


Quite clearly, I have literally been responding to your first clear assertion about me. I've tried to make that clear. I'll try once more:

WHEN I SAY that Bubba is literally not understanding my actual position, I'm responding to that first line quoted above.

I THEN went on to deal with the second part of your assertion ("AT LEAST, NOT...") But the point is, you made the first part as a stand alone quote, separated by a clarification. I dealt with both parts. The first part is literally a misunderstanding of my position.

Understand thus far?

The second part, then.

at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

I allowed that this was closer to my position. Understand?

You ask, then...

What do you mean CLOSER to correct, and not just merely "correct"? What is the difference between that summary and your position?

I mean, you are treating my position as if it is somehow an unproven theory, one that you don't share. But in reality, you almost certainly do share the same opinion. People DO disagree on just about any point in the Bible, and we have no data (none that I've ever seen you share) that suggests that some of these people are arguing in bad faith. The mere disagreement with what you think is clearly obvious is no more a sign of bad faith than the mere disagreement with what I think is clearly obvious.

But maybe this is where we are having a difficulty. Maybe you DO disagree with reality. Maybe you do think that the mere existence of a disagreement on an opinion you hold about the Bible is a sign of a bad faith disagreement.

But if so, then the onus would be on you to provide data that daring to disagree with you can only happen if the person is operating in bad faith.

So, is that the problem? You don't actually think what I think is reality IS reality? If so, please support your hunch. With data, please.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan Trabue said...

nor does it surprise me that you are unable to identify the two specific teachings you mentioned as being "abundantly clear", teachings that you clearly believe apply to all people or at a minimum all believers. The fact that you can't now identify these teachings is strange, but not surprising.

I said that there are teachings that are abundantly clear and I offered at least two examples: Jesus teaching simple living and Genesis being written in a mythic manner. If you had said two teachings that I think are abundantly clear, I'd have known what you meant. But what YOU said instead was...

you believe to be binding on all of humanity or all followers of Jesus in all times and circumstances,

I VERY LITERALLY did not say this, nor do I think it. This is an example of you reading me say, "I think is obvious" and apparently equating that with "...is binding on all humanity..."

Do you see why I could not possibly know what you were speaking of, since I was operating based on what you were literally saying and what you literally said was literally NOT what I said. Indeed, it is nearly the opposite of what I've said in the past?

Craig...

you cannot rationally claim that these "abundantly clear" teachings can or should be applied in any way beyond individuals choosing a certain behavior based on their opinions.

Well, I don't think that my understandings and opinions have "authority" to demand others to follow it. They're my opinions. I think they are reasonable and can make I think a decent case (and indeed, they are not my opinions alone, many people make them, as I think Jesus did...) This is one difference between you and I, I think. You appear to be seeking the power to speak with authority when you have no such power and I am not.

Craig...

Again, while these teachings may or may not be as "abundantly clear" as you imagine, by your own standards they have no authority. They're just nice suggestions to be applied or ignored at will.

Indeed, people SHOULD apply or ignore my opinions at will, as they see fit. Just as I apply or ignore YOUR opinions - including your opinions about what Jesus wants, as I see fit. Are you suggesting that you are speaking with authority that others should bow to?

If so, no wonder you have such strong feelings when people disagree with your opinions!

Craig...

even if this wasn't the case, you again act as if you know the intent of the author (or speaker), while denying that the intent can be known.

I don't know how I can be more clear:

1. I DO think that many passages have clear meanings and reasonable applications to our lives today. And simultaneously...
2. I admit that I am a fallible human incapable of speaking with ultimate authority as to what Paul intended when he said, "Women, don't wear jewelry..." or any other teaching he offered.
3. Likewise, neither are you, mortal man, capable of speaking with ultimate authority as to what Paul meant when he said something.

Do you think you are capable of speaking with ultimate, infallible authority as to what Paul meant every time? Some times? Which times? Based on what?

Perhaps you should explain what you mean by "authority," as it relates to your position. Do you understand how, to at least some outsiders, it sounds rather like an arrogant power trip and a big red flag?

Dan Trabue said...

In looking back at my words, I see that there were three examples of teachings that I think are abundantly clear: Leaning towards pacifism, simplicity, and Genesis being written in a mythic style. Just for the record.

Craig said...

Dan
Thanks for demonstrating a part of what I'm talking about.

1. In your attempts to protest what you claim is people misrepresenting your position, you respond by misrepresenting the positions of those you chastise. I'm not sure why you think this is effective at anything but pointing out your inconsistency.

2. By casting this false dichotomy between some mythical, unrealistic 100% unquestionable guaranteed fact and 100% opinion you've tilted the scales toward your own opinions (which I realize that you find compelling). Essentially you've set up this construct in which anything short of providing what you consider 100% proof can be dismissed as "opinion". Of course your satisfied that your opinion makes sense, what an incredibly low bar. As long as you can convince yourself that your opinion makes sense you're all good.

You know what, that would all be fine if you just lived in your own little world. The problem is that you feel like your opinion has enough authority that people "should" live by it. You feel like people who don't agree with you are "mistaken" or engaging in "sin", but your own construct doesn't support your conclusions.

Ultimately you take refuge in the "it's my opinion" trope because as long as you don't actually make any real claims you don't have to defend them. Or at least not defend them to the point of convincing anyone else or even to demand of yourself the same proof you demand of others.

I'd much rather see you respond in detail to Bubba's very real and worthwhile comments than to see you keep repeating yourself. So, I think I'll watch and see what happens.

It's interesting that you have a real opportunity here. Clearly Hiram geels some degree of respect for what you have to say. You have the golden opportunity to prove Bubba wrong in a devastating fashion while simultaneously raising your credibility with Hiram, I'll be interested to see what you choose.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

1. In your attempts to protest what you claim is people misrepresenting your position, you respond by misrepresenting the positions of those you chastise.

An unsupported claim. Meaningless and, ultimately, false.

Craig...

Essentially you've set up this construct in which anything short of providing what you consider 100% proof can be dismissed as "opinion". Of course your satisfied that your opinion makes sense, what an incredibly low bar. As long as you can convince yourself that your opinion makes sense you're all good.

A. If it IS an opinion, it IS an opinion. I don't dismiss opinions, but I do note their status as an opinion. What's wrong with that?

B. Yes, I am satisfied my opinion makes sense. For instance, I used to hold to a young earth and literal Genesis human opinion. Through prayer, Bible study, reasoning and meditation on/wrestling with the topic, I became convinced that was neither a biblical nor rational opinion, so I changed my mind. I wrestled with an opinion I held and eventually gave up on it and went with what I thought was more reasonable. What's wrong with that?

If someone makes a more compelling case, I can just as easily (which wasn't easy, of course) change my mind again. But someone would have to make a more compelling case. Right?

Ultimately you take refuge in the "it's my opinion" trope because as long as you don't actually make any real claims you don't have to defend them.

C. I take "refuge" in noting an opinion I hold IS my opinion because it is a fact. What's wrong with that?

D. I have defended my opinions. With some of you fellas, I've done with a good deal of patience for many years now. I've made my case repeatedly, clarified it when you misunderstood it or misstated it and done so again. Just as a reminder of the reality of it all.

Are you seriously suggesting I have never made my case for my tilt towards pacifism/just peacemaking and my belief in simple living? That I've never made a case for a more figurative Genesis? Against the extra biblical human opinion of Sola Scriptura, etc, etc?

Reality disagrees with such a claim. Do you recognize that?

Also, do you recognize that your calling "a trope" of my honestly recognizing opinion as such is a false claim, unsupported and, well, a bit silly?

I have responded to Bubba's questions, patiently clarifying what I meant and asking questions in return.

I doubt seriously that Hiram has any special degree of respect for me, he's just curious and striving to learn more about how people (like him, in the past) have to say to various questions. It seems just the basic respect that any decent human gives to another human and simple curiosity.

I'm not interested in "proving Bubba wrong." I am just stating reality where it is reality and making clearer my opinion when you all have misstated it and being open to being corrected if I've made a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Craig...

1. In your attempts to protest what you claim is people misrepresenting your position, you respond by misrepresenting the positions of those you chastise.

In an effort to meet you all half way, if Bubba is saying that his intent was ONLY to speak of the latter half and not to suggest the first half ("Dan's overall argument seems to be that there are NO clear teachings from the Bible...

...at least not any that are clear beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement.")

...then yes, the whole second part of the claim there comes closer to agreeing with reality and I agree with reality. If he did not mean AT ALL that "it seems like Dan is saying there are NO clear teachings from the Bible..." then fine, he isn't strongly disagreeing with what I'm saying, but I was dealing, as I've noted, with his actual words in context as I understood it.

So, if Bubba (or you, Craig) is making the case, that there ARE "clear teachings" in the Bible that are beyond any good-faith disagreements, the onus is on you all to support that case with data.

The problem is, you almost certainly can't. To argue "beyond ANY good faith disagreements," you have to have a window into the mind of all people everywhere. And you don't have that.

I don't believe that Bubba has ever offered any scenarios where I am arguing against what he considers a "clear teaching" that is "beyond all good faith disagreements," just some vague fuzzy, "them" out there arguing against some points I don't disagree with.

The point being, until he finds those vague, fuzzy "them" and somehow plumbs their minds to demonstrate they are arguing in bad faith, I don't know how he'd prove his claim.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan:

"But the point is, you made the first part as a stand alone quote, separated by a clarification. I dealt with both parts. The first part is literally a misunderstanding of my position."

What gives you the right to take a COMPLETE SENTENCE which I wrote, break off the first part, ignore the second part, and decide that the first part is "a stand alone quote"? Nothing does, you're mutilating what I wrote to justify your absurd ad hominem.

Taken by itself, the first CLAUSE may well be a misunderstanding of your position, but I didn't end that clause with a period, instead I ELABORATED AND CLARIFIED THAT CLAUSE with what followed WITHIN THE SAME EFFING SENTENCE.

If you choose to stop at a comma rather than a period, that's your business, but you shouldn't expect that anyone else will pretend that you're dealing with someone's actual argument when you do so.

--

About that second part -- or, more accurately, the entire sentence WHICH I CLAIM IS A SINGLE PROPOSITION (I SHOULD KNOW, I WROTE IT) -- you said that it was "closer" to accurate, and I asked you to explain why you don't simply concede that it is SIMPLY accurate.

You respond, "I mean, you are treating my position as if it is somehow an unproven theory, one that you don't share."

And? So what? Really, so what?

You seem to be saying that the only way to summarize your position with complete accuracy is to SHARE YOUR POSITION, that only those who fully agree with you are capable of understanding you.

If you're really conflating understanding and agreement, it's really no wonder you can't ever seem to find a theologically conservative Christian who really understands you: when you're saying "you don't understand my beliefs," what you're REALLY saying is "you don't accept my beliefs."

Well, no kidding: those who disagree with you, disagree with you.

--

Again, it was one complete statement -- a single sentence where the only period occurred at the end -- but to make it abundantly clear that I was presenting a single, atomic summary of your position, I restated it this way in my second comment:

You don't believe any teaching is **CLEAR ENOUGH** to preclude good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

This is, quite obviously, your position. You not only hold this position, you assert that your position is simply reality, but whether I agree with that assertion -- AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN MADE IT TO THE PLAUSIBILITY OF YOUR POSITION, BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T SIMPLY AFFIRMED THAT I'VE ACCURATELY SUMMARIZED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE -- is a completely separate question from whether my summary of that assertion is accurate.

My summary is accurate, so you should be concede that it is accurate, and we'll move on.

Or if you cannot do so, you should explain what is inaccurate: clarify your position so I can more accurately restate REGARDLESS of whether I agree with it.

Your move.

Anonymous said...

It sounded like two propositions to me, not one. But clearly I am mistaken. My apologies.

Your summary, then, is accurate. My apologies for not getting that you were disagreeing what appears to be reality. Please proceed to explain how reality is wrong.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

And again, I truly quite get what you were saying, so I do apologize, sincerely.

But to try to help you all understand my confusion, consider this accusation:

"You sound as if you hate all US policies... or at least, that you think slavery was an awful thing!"

One might glom on to the first half of that statement because it IS false (assuming it is false for most people) and the latter half is obviously true... how would someone know they are disagreeing with the reality that slavery was an awful thing?

That may not be the best analogy, but I'm just trying to help you understand why I did not understand fully.

Now, explain on, please.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Dang. That first sentence should have read, "I truly DIDN'T quite get what you were saying..."

Craig said...

And you spend multiple comments trying to justify the fact that you didn't misrepresent Bubba's position, then admit you did. I won't hold my breath for you to make the same admission about misrepresenting my position.

Bubba said...

THANK YOU, DAN.

--

A brief digression and explanation:

(I neither require nor even expect a response to this digression, and at this point a response would be redundant because I *ALREADY* know that you would disagree.)

However many months ago when this subject of textual clarity first came up, I meant what I STILL believe to be the conventional meaning of the word "clear" when I asked you your beliefs about the clarity of the Bible.

- There's an OBJECTIVE sense of the word "clear," which conveys a belief about the text's contents, and I treat this sense as implicit when the word is used WITHOUT any sort of qualification.

- And there's a SUBJECTIVE sense of the word, which conveys a belief about the text's READER but not its contents, and I expect that this sense is implied only when the word is qualified with a phrase like "to me."

For example, suppose a mom left written instructions for her teenager while she was out, and when she came back the teenager did not do what she wanted done.

If the mom says, "my instructions were clear," she's implying that there wasn't any real room for misunderstanding.

But if she says, "my instructions were clear to me," she's already quite explicitly leaving open the possibility that they weren't clear to somebody else, namely the teenager.

"My instructions were clear, so you're grounded," parses even if the mom was mistaken about the clarity of the text.

"My instructions were clear to me, but I see how you could have read them differently," ALSO parses.

Switch those pairs of clauses, and neither of them parse.

"My instructions were clear to me, so you're grounded," comes off as capricious: the mother is leaving room open that the instructions weren't clear to her teenage reader but is still meting out punishment, quite inexplicably.

AND IN THE SAME WAY...

"My instructions were clear, but I see how you could have read them differently," is incoherent: if the instructions were OBJECTIVELY clear, then they could not have been misunderstood.

Your statements regarding the Bible exhibit the same problem as this last convoluted sentence: I ask about the Bible's clarity, you say the Bible is clear, but then you say that not ONE teaching is sufficiently clear to preclude all reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

That raises the obvious question, just what in the world do you mean then, when you say the Bible is clear? The statement would conventionally scan as an objective claim about the text's contents, but you only subsequently explain that you mean that it's only subjectively clear "to you."

In which case, you're answering a question about a text's objective contents by telling us only something about ONE reader (yourself) and his subjective experience, but you originally did so in a way that equivocates between the two.

You shouldn't be surprised that you're not understood when you write like this.

--

But, again, thank you for that concession.

Now that we're in agreement on the proposition we're discussing, we can (FINALLY!) get to the question of that proposition's plausibility.

I'll start off by going the long way 'round, to tackle the question of Genesis en route...

Craig said...

And no, you've never ever supported one of your opinions with the level of proof you demand of others. The fact is that you haven't begun to provide any sort of unequivocal support for the three propositions you claim are "clear". Obviously the fact that your positions are not explicitly stated in scripture and historically minority positions within the church doesn't help. Hell, as long as you'd stop saying that people "should " share your opinions you wouldn't even need to support them. But you do, and you should provide the same level of support you demand of others.

My suggestion, that you lay a out a clear case full of unequivocal facts and data, with an individual post for each opinion. That way you can simply link to the posts to demonstrate how solid, fact based, unequivocal, and compelling your case is. Of course, unambiguous scriptural support would be a huge plus in making your case.

Because you have to understand that "my opinion makes sense to me", is both uncompelling, doesn't explain why people "should", and a low bar.

Bubba said...

Dan,

Genesis really is a secondary issue, but your response does relate back to the main topic: in both cases, I think you're presuming PRECISELY what you ought to be proving.

A big reason some scholars give such a late date to the synoptic gospels is Jesus' prophecy regarding the fall of Jerusalem, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. There argument is basically this:

- Jerusalem fell in AD 70.

- Prophecy doesn't really happen, so this passage must have been written afterwards, falsely attributed to Jesus to make the man look like a prophet.

- So, these gospels were all written sometime after AD 70.

But they never prove that REALLY important premise that prophecy never happens, jumping to conclusions that can't REALLY justify.

(Luke's gospel was evidently written before Acts, and Acts concludes prior to Paul's martyrdom around AD 64-67; since it's unlikely that Luke would have omitted the outcome of Paul's trial if it had already occurred, this suggests that both books -- and Mark's gospel, on which Luke evidently depended at least to structure his work -- were written NO LATER than the early 60's, years before Rome destroyed Jerusalem.)

In the very same way that these critical scholars presume what clearly needs to be argued, Dan, you presume what you need to argue on a couple subjects.

--

On Genesis versus Luke, you write, "Genesis was compiled in the time before modern recorded history. Luke was written in the beginning centuries of modern recorded history. That's hella significant."

It MIGHT be "hella significant," depending on the rationale, which you never even think to go into.

(You add, "Also, Genesis reads like ancient mythic stories, Luke doesn't." That's a very glib claim since both books involve miraculous conceptions, angelic appearances, etc., but you think it's sufficient to make the claim without backing it up.)

Why **EXACTLY** is the demarcation for "modern recorded history" set sometime in the centuries before (OR AFTER) the time of Christ and the writing of the canonical Gospels? Is the phrase missing in all prior works such as the Pentateuch and the histories of the Israelite kings, but present in subsequent books? Was there some official calendar marking some imperial decree where some worldwide rule declared, "Okay, **NOW** everyone's going to start taking this history-writing business seriously, and we'll call our books 'modern'"?

No, of course not, and it apparently never occurs to you to answer the question you so quickly invoke against others, on whose authority and what reliable criteria is being used, to assure us that you are authoritatively and demonstrably correct?

Rather, isn't the rise of so-called modern historical literature attributed, NOT to the writers of religious scripture like the New Testament and the Talmud, but to secular writers like Plutarch (AD 45-120), Josephus (AD 37-100), and even Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), whose Bellum Gallicum describes the nine years of the Gallic Wars?

Aren't their works considered modern precisely because they de-emphasize the gods and miraculous acts to focus on human actions and natural phenomena? And doesn't Luke -- and the other NT gospels and Acts -- record precisely the same sort of events which have prompted scholars to categorize Genesis and Exodus and Joshua as mythic rather than historical?

Why, yes indeed, and so your claim is presumptuous.

You would need to explain the rationale for placing modern historical literature SOMEWHERE around the time of Christ: explain the criteria that scholars use to distinguish between myth and history, and so give us the details why we EXACTLY we should treat as mere myth the angelic appearance and the accompanying birth of Isaac to ancient Sarah but **NOT** the similar angelic appearances and the accompanying births of John to ancient Elizabeth AND Jesus to the virgin Mary.

Bubba said...

Similarly, Dan, you're being presumptuous regarding reasonable, good-will disagreements over the interpretation of a text.

I'll quote an entire, representative formulation of your position and highlight the key phrase.

"I DO think there are very clear teachings in the Bible. Abundantly clear. Clear enough that it should be evident to everyone.

"That Jesus taught simple living and avoiding wealth accumulation. That Jesus taught something close to pacifism for his followers. That Genesis is clearly mythic in nature. These are all abundantly clear, I think.

"Where I make a distinction though, is that I acknowledge that people of good will can and do disagree, even on these texts where it seems like it should be abundantly clear. That is, I think these texts are abundantly clear that lead to these conclusions. BUT, I acknowledge the reality that some people read those same texts and come to different, even polar opposite conclusions.
" [emphasis mine]

How do you KNOW that these people who disagree are "people of good will"? How do you actually know this? What evidence would you produce to convince someone like me who doubts your claim?

One could hope that maybe you're just trying to be humble or charitable or gracious in not assuming the worst about others...

(Never mind whether humility and charity requires your position, AND never mind that you're not being consistent at any rate: apparently you say "people of good will" disagree on every possible interpretation, but **WE** aren't exhibiting good will when we disagree with your basic claim on the limitations of reasonable interpretation. No, you say, we're deficient in the virtue of humility, and you accuse us of arrogantly presuming to speak for God.)

...but you're not doing that: you're not just abstaining from assuming the worst, YOU'RE ACTIVELY ASSERTING THE BEST.

Quote:

"Now, given that the Bible contains these teachings of others... then what? Do people find some of these texts and their meaning to be obvious, even abundantly clearly obvious? Yes, in the real world, that observably is true.

"And, is it not also true that even though people find some texts and their intent clear, that other people of good will do not agree with the first person's understanding? Is it not true that people of good will DO disagree on just about any human understanding found in the Bible?

Yes, that is also demonstrably true.
" [emphasis mine]

How do you actually KNOW that these people who disagree are "people of good will"? You say that your claim is "demonstrably" true.

When are you ever going to get around to DEMONSTRATING what you know is DEMONSTRABLY true? When will you ever simply acknowledge your need to do so?

Bubba said...

Dan, the fact is, you CANNOT possibly prove claims about the internal state of any human being, whether he's a person of good will (will is internal, not external), whether he's acting in good faith (motive is internal), or whether he's being reasonable and rational (reason is also internal).

You cannot even prove such claims about yourself, much less a third party.

It may be charitable to assume it in the absence of evidence to the contrary, but that assumption isn't itself proof -- and even if it's charitable to assume it for some arbitrary individual, it's OBVIOUSLY not true in the general case that everyone always acts rationally, in good faith, as people of good will.

The vices, dysfunctions, and outright abuses of human societies around the world and throughout history is proof enough against such utopianism.

It would be absurd to claim that people ALWAYS approach the Bible with good will, when they don't treat each other with good will -- when they twist others' words and written agreements to suit their own purposes.

It is my position that it would ALSO be absurd to claim that some person of good will could reach literally ANY interpretation regarding the Bible.

Not all texts are actually clear -- James Joyce' Ulysses comes to mind -- and not all parts of any text are necessarily clear, but there ARE limits.

---

Assertions about one's own reasonableness and good faith are of limited utility to other people: sure, you know yourself, but you're not a disinterested third-party witness to yourself.

More to the point:

I doubt anyone thinks he's being unreasonable IN REAL TIME. On reflection, one might say, "I was unreasonable" (past tense), but I doubt anyone who gives introspective thought to his own current thoughts and actions would say, "I am unreasonable" (present tense). The act of introspection introduces an (imperfect) element of rationality, and by the very nature of things, a person who actually is being unreasonable isn't able to reason perfectly about his unreasonableness.

(Rationality is like sanity or simply being awake: only the truly sane and truly awake know that they're awake, but merely THINKING that you're sane or awake isn't proof enough against being wrong.)

And I doubt anyone who IS being dishonest would be honest enough to admit it; there's no motive for doing so, and on the contrary it would undermine his efforts at deception.

So:

- "I'm being reasonable" isn't helpful because the person probably wouldn't know if he was being unreasonable.

- And "I'm being honest" isn't helpful because the person probably wouldn't SAY if he was being dishonest.

So, personal testimony doesn't help prove or even indicate anything in this case.

What does help -- as an INDICATION of reasonableness and honesty if not airtight PROOF -- is the explanation of how one reached a particular interpretation of the text.

A person who truly IS being reasonable and honest in his approach to a text ought to be able to walk through how he reached that particular conclusion.

Bubba said...

And, Dan, you have a tendency to mention contentious topics, either ones you believe are clear where we disagree (Genesis is myth, homosexual relations are permissible, pacifism is required, and simple living is encouraged -- you now admit the latter is perhaps only "indirectly" taught, strange for a "clear" teaching) or ones which are a matter of wide dispute, such as Paul's teaching regarding women's adornment.

Try one of the two topics I bring up:

- THEISM, the claim that God exists

- THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS, the claim that Jesus of Nazareth existed

Are you willing to say that "people of good will" could dispute either of THESE claims, **NOT** whether they're objectively true in reality but whether they're asserted by the Bible?

I'd love to see it.

Me, I cannot say such a thing, and it goes back to the idea that a person of good will should be able to walk through his interpretations. But there's no way to walk through the Bible and conclude that the text is ambivalent about God's existence or Jesus' historicity, OR that the text actually teaches against either.

I say this, not because I'm arrogant, but because I'm at least somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible's contents.

I can't conceive of such a argument BEING MADE IN GOOD FAITH, not because of a lack of imagination, but because of a surplus of knowledge about the text itself.

Anonymous said...

Bubba, I don't take those two topics because I have no data from which to operate. I don't know of people who read those texts and contend that the author did not intend to suggest Jesus was real or that there is a God.

Having no data with which to operate, I prefer to deal with known claims. Does that not seem reasonable?

Bubba said...

And that absence of evidence tells you nothing, Dan?

You don't know of anyone who disputes the claim that the Bible teaches theism or the claim that the Bible teaches the historicity of Jesus: that doesn't suggest to you that maybe those two teachings are sufficiently clear from the text that they are beyond good-faith disagreement?

On those two claims, we both see unanimity, but only you fail to see that any conclusions could be drawn from that consensus. That strikes me as completely daft.

Anonymous said...

Yes, an absence of data tells me nothing, not definitively. One needs data to make informed conclusions and so I don't form conclusions where I have no data.

Are you suggesting that you do?

Dan

Anonymous said...

A point of clarification, Bubba. You asked about me addressing...

- THEISM, the claim that God exists

- THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS, the claim that Jesus of Nazareth existed

Are you willing to say that "people of good will" could dispute either of THESE claims, **NOT** whether they're objectively true in reality but whether they're asserted by the Bible?


Help clarify, please:

The biblical authors - let's say the writers of the gospels - wrote about Jesus and it reads as if the authors believed Jesus was a real, historical person. Likewise, they write as if they believe that God exists.

Right?

Now, if someone reads the Bible and says, "While the authors of the Gospels speak of Jesus/God as if they exist, they didn't really believe it...," is THAT what you're looking for, someone denying that the authors intended to treat these two biblical characters as real/actual?

If so, I don't know that such a person exists. The authors stated what they stated and what you're asking appears to be very close to "What if people deny that the text says what it says..." which is different than I'm speaking about.

Also, if so, I'm not addressing the good will of non-existing people. How could I?

Lest you think I'm trying to be obtuse, I'm not. I'm trying to understand what you're asking.

Put another way, in Luke, Luke says he is writing about Jesus. Are you asking if there are people who would deny that Luke is writing about Jesus? That they're denying the text says what it says?

That would be a subset of people who are delusional, it seems to me. The text says what it says and if you deny that the text exists, that sounds delusional. I'm not speaking to the good will of delusional people.

But, if you are saying "what if there were some people who think that Luke didn't really think Jesus existed?" I'd be back to asking if such a person exists, because I can't speculate as to the mindset of non-existent people.

More...

~Dan

Bubba said...

An absence of data CAN be meaningful -- Sherlock Holmes solved a case because of a dog that didn't bark -- and my larger point is that, wrenched from its context and poorly understood, collected data CAN lead to erroneous conclusions, such as when the dataset is NOT representative of the larger population.

Consider:

- An exterminator might conclude that most houses have serious infestation problems based on the houses HE SEES -- "the only data he has," as you might put it -- but obviously this data isn't from a randomly drawn and potentially representative sample of homes. No, the exterminator didn't visit homes at random, he was SENT to homes by a dispatcher because of calls from homeowners where a problem was already evident.

Drawing larger conclusions from this particular set of data would be misleading, just as reading about divorce court proceedings would be an absurd way to draw conclusions about ALL marriages, even the healthy ones -- and all of this is related to the problems of self-selection bias.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-selection_bias

- One might think a good single metric to compare high schools would be the average score of a standardized test taken just prior to graduation, but this doesn't account for DROPOUTS -- those who dropped out prior to taking this test, producing an ABSENCE OF DATA. Worse, a shrewd but unscrupulous principle might encourage the underachievers to quit and thereby raise the school's average score.

Praising such a school's improvement is like cheering a drop in the official unemployment rate without considering whether people are finding work or leaving the workforce by giving up entirely.

- And people who make hay out of our supposedly high infant mortality rate often don't realize that they're comparing apples and oranges, that many countries omit premature births that we WOULD count: they're considered stillbirths or miscarriages, and the result is another SIGNIFICANT "absence of data" that skews the overall picture.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161013103132.htm

By looking ONLY at DISPUTED biblical teachings, your examination tells us NOTHING about the existence (and indeed the preponderance) of teachings that aren't disputed and the possibility that they're not disputed because THEY'RE ACTUALLY INDISPUTABLE.

Anonymous said...

Beyond that, I've tried really hard to be clear:

1. I'm speaking of the good will of people I generally know or have read of and believe exist. People have, as a point of reality, disagreed on just about every possible point I've heard in terms of biblical notions. Triune nature of God, virgin birth of Jesus, whether the earth is flat or not, whether the earth is ~6,000 years old, whether or not men should/shouldn't wear beards, women should/shouldn't wear jewelry, pants, dresses, what sort of dresses, on and on and on, ad nauseum.

2. GIVEN THAT REALITY, and given that I have no reason to generally assume that these people are arguing in bad faith*, it seems clear from all the data that I've ever seen to think that it is entirely possible for people to disagree even on topics that I haven't heard disagreed upon (your Jesus/God questions, for instance).

* Bad Faith: When two people are speaking about what is right and wrong, what God wants/doesn't want (if there IS a God), what is moral or not, etc, etc... and if they all seem sincere and there is no data to suggest that they are arguing in bad faith, I operate under the assumption that they are operating in good faith.

Even if they become belligerent or hostile or combative, I still generally assume they're operating in good faith. In spite of our many differences we have between me and you fellas who have talked with me - and even those who have blocked me and spread all manner of public bad gossip about me - I have never jumped to the assumption that they are operating in bad faith.

Why would I? The more reasonable explanation is that they are just sincere and concerned about something and just not understanding my point.

On what basis would I jump to an assumption that I can't prove?

Further, I'd suggest for those people who DO want to jump to that assumption and publicly make that claim, the burden is on them to support it with data, not hunches or best guesses. Otherwise, they run the risk of bearing false witness, gossiping, slander and a whole raft of ugly evil.

So, I return to the notions that

1. In the real world, people disagree about an endless variety of ideas possibly found in the Bible's pages;

2. I have no reason or data to suspect that they are generally arguing in bad faith;

3. Thus, even for those ideas that I have not seen data on/heard of someone disagreeing, it still seems likely to me that people could disagree, and do so in good faith.

4. And again, I'll point to some ideas that I think are so blindingly obvious that someone couldn't possibly disagree with - Jesus=pacifism/simplicity, Genesis=not factual history but figurative myth, that slavery is a great wrong, that the earth is not flat, etc - and acknowledge that even on these blindingly obvious points, people still disagree and by all evidence, generally appear to do so in good faith. If they can do so on those topics, why not your topics?

I will note that I believe, of course, that some people CAN be arguing in bad faith. I just have no reason to suspect it generally about the topics we have generally disagreed upon. IF I were to make a claim that someone WAS arguing in bad faith, I'd have to have something more than a gut feeling - some confession on their part that they were doing so, for instance.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

An absence of data CAN be meaningful

Indeed, IF you do significant balanced research into an idea and find that, for instance, white conservative evangelical men are readily represented in the class of men who abuse children, but there is a complete or marked absence of any liberal men in that class, that might be significant.

IF you have done balanced research into it.

I have not done research into the class of people who don't believe that Luke really believed that Jesus existed (which I suspect is non-existent). I suspect that you have done a total of zero research into the topic, as well.

There is a different between finding zero results in an area of study you've researched and making a claim on an area you have not researched.

I have done no research into that class of people, so, given that I have ZERO data to base an opinion upon, I am declining to guess whether those people (if they exist) are or are not arguing in good faith. I'm declining to guess on a topic for which I have no data. This only seems reasonable to me.

I'm sorry, but I'm guess I'm not understanding your point?

Or maybe you weren't understanding my point and now you do?

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, I'm not asking about the writers' private beliefs but about their public, written assertions. A person could say that Luke was trying to con Theophilus in asserting that Jesus was real (and said X and did Y), and I would disagree, but the claim is beyond the contents of the text.

Another example, maybe somebody or somebodies other than Paul wrote or dictated I Corinthians, which you cite at the end of your original post.

BUT THE TEXT CLEARLY ASSERTS PAUL'S AUTHORSHIP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE LETTER -- and I don't believe the attribution is missing from a single intact manuscript of the letter.

So, one really cannot question the letter's Pauline authorship by claiming the text is unclear, but ONLY by speculating that the text's AUTHOR was DISHONEST.

--

And what I call the teachings which are objectively clear beyond any good-faith disagreement MIGHT come down to what you point to and say, "it says what it says," but notice that we CAN restate SOME of these things with complete confidence.

Luke doesn't use the technical term "historicity" (in any language), but it's clear his Gospel teaches that Jesus is an actual figure of history -- ie, it teaches the historicity of Jesus.

And the Bible doesn't use the term "theism," but it clearly teaches that God exists. Since theism is DEFINITIONALLY "the existence of God," it's entirely accurate to say the text clearly teaches theism.

Craig said...

What we're seeing here is one more example of Dan using anecdotal examples from the relatively small group of people he knows and extrapolating it as a broad generalization. I suppose it's possible that it's just a careless use of language using the term "people", when in reality it's "some of the people I know".

Carelessness, laziness, intentionally obfuscating, an appeal to numbers or something else, I don't know. But think about how much of this confusion could have been avoided with a bit more precise use of language.

The other obvious problem is that it is virtually impossible to know to a 100% degree of certainty with unequivocal data support, whether a person is acting "in good faith" or not.

Anonymous said...

one really cannot question the letter's Pauline authorship by claiming the text is unclear, but ONLY by speculating that the text's AUTHOR was DISHONEST.

Ah! This is a great example, Bubba. Thanks. In fact, there are other reasons to question Paul's authorship. I've heard it said by various scholars that in this day and time, it was common to attribute a piece of writing to another person, not by way of deception, but by way of honor or reference or gaining traction with an audience (which one might assume is deception, but I don't think it necessarily requires it, not in the context of an ancient culture that is foreign to ours.) From wikipedia (being lazy, I know)...

"They are termed as "disputed" or "pseudepigraphical" letters because they are believed by most scholars to have come from followers writing in Paul's name, often using material from his surviving letters."

That is, there's not an intent (at least a provable intent) of evil deception in this culture, just Paul's followers writing what they gleaned from Paul and assigning his name to those ideas gleaned from him.

And so, given that, sure some people could assume IN GOOD FAITH that just because an epistle contains Paul's name does not mean that he actually wrote it. There's a disagreement of a text that does not demand bad faith.

Bubba...

Luke doesn't use the technical term "historicity" (in any language), but it's clear his Gospel teaches that Jesus is an actual figure of history -- ie, it teaches the historicity of Jesus.

So, Luke wrote AS IF Jesus were alive. A person reading it would then assume that the author Luke (IF Luke were a real person, which they may not grant) thought that Jesus was a real person. Right?

So, are you asking Is it possible in good faith for someone to say that, in spite of what the text of the book of Luke has, "Luke" didn't believe that Jesus was a real person...? If that is what you're asking, I'm telling you I don't know because I have never met or read about someone who made that argument. I have no data on which to base an opinion, so I in good faith can not offer an opinion about that for which I have no data.

Does that not make sense?

Again, I'm just trying to clarify what you mean and answer your questions as I understand what you're asking.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

What we're seeing here is one more example of Dan using anecdotal examples from the relatively small group of people he knows and extrapolating it as a broad generalization. I suppose it's possible that it's just a careless use of language using the term "people", when in reality it's "some of the people I know".

sigh. Craig, I have no research on people at large who disagree on biblical ideas, as it relates to their arguing in good faith or not.

Do YOU have any research on the topic?

Am I safe in betting that you do not have a single bit of research?

Given that, I'm falling back to the only data that I DO have: My anecdotal experience of a life time of dealing with people. IT IS ANECDOTAL, let me be clear. But I don't have anything else to rely upon.

Neither do you (feel free to correct me with the data).

So, given that you have ZERO DATA to make a claim that people generally (often? Regularly??) argue in bad faith on biblical disagreements, on what basis would you make that argument (IF you're making it)? Or on what basis would Bubba make that argument, if he's making it?

The other obvious problem is that it is virtually impossible to know to a 100% degree of certainty with unequivocal data support, whether a person is acting "in good faith" or not.

Indeed. But lacking ANY DATA to support a claim to the contrary, why would I? (or better put, why would you?)

~Dan

Anonymous said...

I think the point I'm trying to make, Bubba (one point), is that I'm not talking about people who disagree that the text says what it says.

If someone reads Luke write, "Jesus is a real person" and they then say, "The character Luke - in this text which I may or may not accept as factual - did not think Jesus was a real person," that person is delusional or has severe reading difficulties. He's disagreeing with whether the text says what it says. That or he is claiming to read the mind of the author, Luke.

I just don't think this person exists and if they did, they appear delusional and a delusional person is not arguing in bad faith, they're delusional.

Do you understand the problem with the example? Or am I misunderstanding what you're asking? If the latter, use a simple and straightforward quote (it could be made up or summarized, as I did with "Jesus is a real person,") as an example and tell me what you're saying the "bad faith" arguer is saying in response to that quote.

Thanks.

Dan

Marshall Art said...

It seems clear to me that there is a wholly regrettable, if not insufferable "confusion" about the point being made by Bubba's initial concern. That is, it has absolutely nothing to do with:

---whether or not there exists people of bad faith pretending to act in good faith, or

---whether or not there is a definitive means by which anyone can tell whether another is truly acting in good faith or not.

No. The point refers only to teachings of Scripture, and whether people of good faith, assuming any actually exist, could reasonably disagree about them. Using Bubba's example of God's existence, I am confident that assuming that there are people of good faith, and that they exist in both theistic and atheistic camps, not a one of them would dispute the FACT that the Bible teaches that God does indeed exist.

This does not matter whether or not Luke believed it or not. HIS Gospel, or at least, the Gospel that bears the name "Luke", teaches that God exists (as does every other book of the Bible...regardless of whether or not any author of any of those books did or did not personally believe in God's existence). JEEZ!!!

IT'S REALLY A SIMPLE FREAKIN' QUESTION!!!!

Marshall Art said...

Hiram,

Two things:

---I meant nothing untoward about questioning your identity. It's just that the coincidence of your question about the the souls of the aborted was as if drawn from a "conversation" in which I was engaged at the time you posed it. Thus, I just had to ask.

---I'm wondering, if you're still keeping up with the above back and forth, see how those of us (myself, Craig, Bubba and others) who have been engaged with Dan for years have come to hold him in a rather negative way with regard to how he responds to our queries, observations and critiques, and to some extent how we come to our conclusions about what he believes and how he comes by those beliefs. Much is still in question regarding the latter, as it has been for years. Pulling out one's own teeth literally is easier that drawing from Dan explanations that end all further questioning. Look at all that has gone forth since Bubba re-stated his question about the existence of God. I'd be interested to know if YOU found it to be as confusing as Dan apparently does, or if you see it as quite a simple and straightforward question as I always have. I'll reiterate that I do not see how anyone could possibly dispute that the Bible teaches (I'm not even going to explain what I mean by "the Bible teaches") God exists, regardless of what any person personally believes about the existence of God. What say you?

Craig said...

Dan
I'm not suggesting that your use of anecdotal experience is necessarily wrong, I'm suggesting that when you extrapolate from "people I know" to "people" you have no basis to do so. Had you initial claim been more precise, perhaps some confusion could have been avoided.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I'm not going to deal with the question of your motivations. But there were two recent points that distinguish your presentation of your positions as problematic, if not dishonest, unreasonable and not a bit diversionary (OK...a bit referring to motivation):

--The point I just addressed regarding the existence of God. How could you not understand that the question was concerned with YOUR opinion only of what people would in good faith only would agree is true regarding the teaching of Scripture of God's existence? How is it reasonable to assume that you would have to confirm to any degree that any person was or was not acting in good faith? Why would it even occur to you when YOU were asked if YOU thought people of good faith could or couldn't agree on that point? There may indeed exist in the world absolutely no person who would ever act in good faith, and that would not matter to the point of the question. I can't even recall off the top of my head any specific verse anywhere in Scripture that says explicitly, "GOD EXISTS" and still I know without any shred of doubt that Scripture teaches that He does. How is it conceivable to you that anyone could disagree? How is it possible to you that the possibility even exists that such a person exists? It doesn't matter what any given person believes about the existence of God. The question didn't concern itself with that. It doesn't matter what any or all of the Biblical authors, whoever they were in reality, personally believed about the existence of God. The question didn't concern itself with that, either. The question referred only to what Scripture says about the existence of God. How can you argue that any reasonable person acting in good faith could dispute that undeniable reality? Look at all the time you wasted!!

--"The Bible teaches"....Really???? This had to be clarified in order to proceed? Bubba expounded on this nonsense, but it is typical of that which leads us to question your sincerity. It is insulting that you would continue to assert that we're of the belief that by using that phrase we're not simply referring to all the various things we learn from Scripture...not as if the Bible is standing in the front of the room reading from itself and explaining itself like an actual teacher in a classroom. Then you dare speak to us of grace (something I'm not at all convinced you understand in the least). It's the same type of crap we must endure when your cite verses like "pluck out your own eye" and wonder why we don't take them literally, as if it's a reasonable comparison to that which we do. Again. Insulting and then conclusions regarding your motivations are provoked. You don't improve your standing nor do you prove any point by engaging in these tactics.

And it's to these tactics that you routinely turn when our questions and criticisms of your positions and opinions come anywhere close to suggesting you may be wrong for believing as you do. As such, you have not, despite your claims to the contrary, defended your positions on the three topics you mentioned above that you believe are clear teachings.

One more thing...the authorship of of Paul. Bubba clearly refers to what the text says, not what scholars say in hindsight. So again, you decide to dance around the point. The author of any given Paulian letter might by his barber, Chuck, for all we know. But we DON'T know by virtue of what the text says, and that is all Bubba's point concerns itself with. Don't do that. We'll get so much further with so much fewer keystrokes.

Anonymous said...

Hello Marshall. No problem about the identity thing. And yes I always read every comment that comes to Dan's blog. I'd feel like I was throwing gasoline on a fire if I explicitly took sides here. So at least for today I will wimp out and not function as boxing match referee, but rather as mere spectator. Sorry if that disappoints.

~ Hiram

Anonymous said...

Marshall, the very briefest, most direct and clearest answer is the one I've offered before when this question came up:

- THEISM, the claim that God exists

- THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS, the claim that Jesus of Nazareth existed

Are you willing to say that "people of good will" could dispute either of THESE claims, **NOT** whether they're objectively true in reality but whether they're asserted by the Bible?

What I've said is clear and direct and simple:

I can not imagine that there are people of good will who would say that the Bible does not have people speaking of Jesus as a real person, of God as if God exists, of the pacifism/simplicity teachings of Jesus and of Genesis as mythic.

They are ALL equally hard for me to believe that someone would disagree with these. AND YET, I know (assuming you are arguing in good faith) that people exist who disagree in good faith about the latter three. Given that, on what basis would I assume that people don't exist that could disagree about Bubba's two?

I have no more reason to think that it's impossible, any more than I do the other examples I've offered. I have zero data on which to base the assumption that you all appear willing to make without any data.

Understand?

Further, it really sounds like Bubba is asking about whether or not people agree that the text exists, which is a whole other thing. As I've pointed out and am waiting for clarification.

I understand that you find it confusing but the point is to be as precise as possible to be as clear as possible.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, about the Pauline epistles, what I'm saying is that the text clearly attributes authorship to Paul, not to anyone else, and not as a potentially third-party compilation of previous teachings by Paul, like proverbs of Solomon.

It's one thing to say that, DESPITE this clear attribution, somebody else wrote this letter; it's another thing entirely to say that the attribution isn't clear.

--

In a letter to a child on the subject of writing, C.S. Lewis somewhat famously wrote about precision in language:

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

I think that's good advice, and it looks like it's an area where you could improve your writing.

"1. I'm speaking of the good will of people I generally know or have read of and believe exist. People have, as a point of reality, disagreed on just about every possible point I've heard in terms of biblical notions. Triune nature of God, virgin birth of Jesus, whether the earth is flat or not, whether the earth is ~6,000 years old, whether or not men should/shouldn't wear beards, women should/shouldn't wear jewelry, pants, dresses, what sort of dresses, on and on and on, ad nauseum." [emphasis mine]

Since earlier you quite explicitly omitted from discussion things like theism and the historicity of Jesus, it's not strictly true that you've heard disagreements on "just about every possible point." You've heard disagreement on A NUMBER of issues, and it might seem like MANY issues (or "A LOT" of issues), but it's obviously not ALL issues or NEARLY ALL issues.

The arguments you've encountered aren't COMPREHENSIVE or even NEARLY COMPREHENSIVE in their coverage of the teachings contained in the Bible; from what you've conceded about theism and Jesus' historicity, it's not even close.

Again:

"1. In the real world, people disagree about an endless variety of ideas possibly found in the Bible's pages;" [emphasis mine]

(It's your use of the word "endless" here that especially reminded me of what CS Lewis wrote about "infinite.")

Strictly speaking and taking your writing literally, THIS IS NOT TURE.

The "variety of ideas" isn't literally endless because IT DOES END, and it ends **WELL** before the undisputed (and indisputable) claims that the Bible DOES teach "God exists" and "Jesus is a real figure of history."

People DO dispute the claim that God exists -- there are plenty of atheists in the world -- but it cannot be disputed that the Bible clearly makes this claim: NO ONE can credibly argue that the Bible is unclear on theism or that it teaches something OTHER than theism.

I'm guessing that you really mean that people disagree about "a number" of ideas, and you'd consider that number to be perhaps "many" ideas or "a large number" of ideas.

If so, I really wish that you would say this instead of getting really, REALLY sloppy with language that implies or approaches a comprehensive survey of a subject.

[continued]

Anonymous said...

re: "The Bible teaches..."

Look, I agree that this is easy short hand for general use. But in instances where this is a disagreement about meaning/intent/understanding of various texts, I think it helps to be more precise.

Consider:

The Bible says to cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes to avoid sin.

vs

There is a teaching where Jesus says "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off..." He is doing this, it is apparently clear (although not specifically stated) in a bit of hyperbole to warn against being caught up in sin, not to command us to mutilate ourselves.

The first one is a literal-ish excerpt of a bible passage, the latter is a clarification or a "teaching" WE elicit from the Bible, using our God-given reason.

Thus, we can say, in general short-hand, "the Bible teaches us to be wary of sin and avoid it, but not to mutilate ourselves over it!" BUT, if there is someone who disagrees (in good or bad faith) about the text, it helps to be more precise so that our meaning can be clearer.

At least, it seems that way to me.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to say that, DESPITE this clear attribution, somebody else wrote this letter; it's another thing entirely to say that the attribution isn't clear.

and...

but it cannot be disputed that the Bible clearly makes this claim

Precisely. Which is why I'm saying it SOUNDS LIKE you're speaking of, "If people disagree that a text exists..." as opposed to "If people disagree with..."

If people disagree that a text does not exist, they are delusional, not arguing in bad faith.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to agree that my use of "endless" is hyperbole. You know, like "chop off your hand." I presume, though, that you don't think it is sinful or a communication error to engage in hyperbole as I and Jesus have done.

~Dan

Bubba said...

[continued]

Also on the subject of imprecise writing, you write, "I have no reason to generally assume that these people are arguing in bad faith."

Fine, you don't -- but in the absence of an actual argument FROM THE TEXT, I'd say that it's *ALSO* presumptuous to conclude that their positions actually come from careful Bible study.

You write, "I operate under the assumption that they are operating in good faith."

Okay, then say so, and quit the grand, sweeping statements about what must necessarily be the case.

When you merely ASSUME that people are acting in good faith, you don't really KNOW that they are, so:

- Don't say that they are "demonstrably" acting in good faith.

- Don't say that, "in the real world," they ARE acting in good faith.

- And don't accuse others of "denying reality" by pointing out that you don't know the internal state of other people.

--

About the subjects you list, I could concede that friendly enough people could sincerely doubt the virgin birth, but their conclusion isn't really being drawn from the text. After all, in Luke's account, Mary didn't use the Greek term that could be variously translated as "virgin" or "maiden" or merely "young woman." She literally asked how should give have a child since she had "never known a man."

Ditto the Trinity: I believe the church has been historically correct in treating the denial of the Trinity as heretical, because the Bible clearly teaches those doctrines that point to the Trinity to the exclusion of all other concepts. Namely, it teaches monotheism (only God); the deity of the Father, the deity of the Son, and the deity of the Spirit; and the distinctness of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

But, sure, there ARE a number of teachings that are NOT clear, including appropriate attire for the NT church. I never said -- and I do not believe, and I would reject (and I believe I have already repeatedly rejected) the claim -- that **ALL** of the Bible's teachings are clear.

--

Your argument seems to come down to this:

"4. And again, I'll point to some ideas that I think are so blindingly obvious that someone couldn't possibly disagree with - Jesus=pacifism/simplicity, Genesis=not factual history but figurative myth, that slavery is a great wrong, that the earth is not flat, etc - and acknowledge that even on these blindingly obvious points, people still disagree and by all evidence, generally appear to do so in good faith. If they can do so on those topics, why not your topics?"

I'd summarize your position this way, BUT DO let me know if where I don't get things right:

- You see people disagree on whether the Bible teaches triune monotheism, you assume they do so in good faith and have no evidence to the contrary, so you wonder, why couldn't the same be true for simple theism?

- You see people disagree on details of Jesus' life and teaching, you assume they do so in good faith and have no evidence to the contrary, so you wonder, why not the very historicity of Jesus?

- You see people disagree on the details of the Bible's ethical teachings regarding attire or the propriety of divorce, so you wonder, why not the basics like "love God" and "love your neighbor"?

My answer would be, on these latter topics, the Bible really is so clear that it precludes any reasonable, good-faith disagreement -- and, GENERALLY, ambiguity about topic X DOES NOT IMPLY *anything* about the ambiguity about topic Y.

My counter-question would be, WHY INSIST THAT MY ANSWER IS WRONG?

You ask "why not," but I ask "why" because you're not MERELY asking the question: you've been asserting that those who disagree with you on the question are violating the Christian virtue of humility and arrogantly asserting to speak for God.

Bubba said...

Gotta run, and will pick this back up ASAP, but it may be as late as tomorrow evening.

Briefly, it's no sin to use hyperbole, but your writing HAS been unclear, and it seems hypocritical for you to write with such imprecision while nitpicking about whether a text teaches or whether its author teaches through the text.

Anonymous said...


You write, "I operate under the assumption that they are operating in good faith."

Okay, then say so, and quit the grand, sweeping statements about what must necessarily be the case.

When you merely ASSUME that people are acting in good faith, you don't really KNOW that they are, so:


Fine. Bubba is perhaps operating in bad faith with all his sniping and divisive arguments. What else could explain it? He is a manipulator and liar.

Is that how you prefer we handle these sorts of disagreements? I have no data to support those sort of claims other than you appear to be disagreeing about what is clear and that's one way of explaining it. But, I have NO REASON to assume that negative of you, even if I can't explain why you're being so disagreeable.

It sounds like you're suggesting we operate in a dark world, with sinister suspicions - with ZERO DATA - of nearly all who disagree with us. That, it seems to me, is irrational and unhealthy.

I write, "I assume people are operating in good faith," WHEN there is no data to make me think otherwise. I have not seen you writing elsewhere that contradicts your statements, I have no testimony from your loved ones telling me that you are a serial liar and creep. I literally have NO data to suspect bad faith, other than the mere presence of disagreement.

But, the presence of disagreement is not any sort of proof of sinister motives.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

- Don't say that they are "demonstrably" acting in good faith.

- Don't say that, "in the real world," they ARE acting in good faith.


In the real world, I know people who would disagree with you on many points. I know myself. I know my family. And I know them all well.

In the real world, we disagree with you on many of the points that I have disagreed with you on.

In the real world, I DO know these people sufficiently well to know that they are acting in good faith. There has to be SOME DATA to make one suspect bad faith. It's just not rational to assume bad motives where no data exists.

If you prefer, to be more precise, I could try to say, "People are demonstrably acting in good faith, so far as all the evidence suggests and with zero evidence to suggest otherwise... But how about this: In the future, when I say, "People are demonstrably acting in good faith," recognize that I mean this fuller statement.

It sounds like you are saying, "in the absence of any data, anytime someone disagrees with me and I don't get their understanding, there is a good likelihood that they are operating in bad faith."

If so, no thanks.

About the subjects you list, I could concede that friendly enough people could sincerely doubt the virgin birth, but their conclusion isn't really being drawn from the text.

Of course, they could. They could agree that the word "virgin" is in the text, but they could suspect that it was an imprecise word, or an imprecise translation, or that the author didn't mean it literally... probably other ideas, ALL without having a bad motivation.

Again, it sounds like you're speaking of people who disagree that a text exists.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

re: you have not said that ALL biblical ideas are clear.

Right you haven't. You have said, idea 1 is so clear that people can't possibly disagree with it, but idea 2, I could see where people might disagree in good faith.

Right?

But the question is, then, what is the criteria for deciding between the two? It sounds very much like you're appealing to yourself (and those who agree with you) as the final arbiters. But how is that anything but subjective and unprovable?

Dan

Anonymous said...

Using hyperbole is not imprecision, it using hyperbole, right?

Dan

Anonymous said...

While I'm waiting, here's what I'm thinking is a possible consideration of what your question (what if someone denied "the Bible" taught that there was/is a God?) might look like, specifically:

Sam: The Bible doesn't teach that there is a God...

Dan: What do you mean? For instance, the very first line from the Bible is, "in the beginning, GOD created...," so clearly, the Bible has text speaking of a God.

Sam: Well, that is a myth, it doesn't mean that the Bible is teaching there is a god.

Dan: Ah! So, you mean you don't believe that the biblical teachings/texts that mention a god means that there IS a god?

Sam: yes!

Dan: But the author of Genesis is speaking of the actions of a god, so whether or not you accept the REALITY of the existence of a god, the text itself is clearly speaking of a god. To the author/s, then, they certainly appear to believe in a god, right?

Sam (option 1): Yes... (in which case we agree that the Bible is speaking of an actual God, whether or not there is one, the authors certainly treated that as a reality)

Sam (option 2): No... (in which case we find that Sam appears to be denying the reality of what the text actually says. That is, he appears to be delusional, and thus, not arguing in bad faith...).

See my problem? I can't figure out what your example even looks like, where it isn't a misunderstanding on "Sam's" part or delusion on his part.

Maybe that helps.

~Dan

Marshall Art said...

"Given that, on what basis would I assume that people don't exist that could disagree about Bubba's two?"

On the basis that the Bible DOES speak of the existence of God and the reality that Christ existed in history as well. What other basis must there be in your opinion? Why isn't that good enough to state without reservation that it is impossible to argue against these points in good faith? What "good faith" argument against these two points even exists?

Perhaps it's the definition of "good faith" that is the problem here. In the simplest terms, what likely conclusion does the text compel? And by that, I refer to only what the text itself says without regard to what it doesn't or to what other evidences regarding the question might exist. I see no legitimate way to dispute the points, and I can see no way to presume that any might exist based on what the text says over and over again with regard to the points on the table.

"Further, it really sounds like Bubba is asking about whether or not people agree that the text exists..."

This is evidence that your ability to reason is less then adequate, for it doesn't "sound" like anything of the kind, since he clearly has stated that he is referring to what the text says, not whether any text "exists", though the distinction might not exist either. That is, if he's saying the text is saying something, the text must exist to say it. Or do you mean specific verses that say "God exists" versus the clear implication that He does based on how often He appears throughout the text? This is how you muddy up the conversation by arguing points not in contention or making unclear which was never less than clear in the first place by your line of questioning.

As to what the Bible teaches, you again demonstrate an inability to reason or an unwillingness to truly demonstrate good faith on your part. As I explained, it is deceitful to suggest there is no distinction between saying the Bible teaches to avoid sin, versus the Bible teaching us to pluck out our eyes. On the chance that there could ever be a "good faith" opinion that the Bible does indeed teach us to pluck out our eyes, such a position could not last very long in the face of even a brief explanation of hyperbole and its use by Christ and others in Scripture to teach a point. Using outrageous but extremely unlikely possibilities to argue your position does not demonstrate "good faith" on your part, and as I said, is really quite insulting to those against whom you argue.

Anonymous said...

On the basis that the Bible DOES speak of the existence of God and the reality that Christ existed in history as well. What other basis must there be in your opinion?

But the Bible DOES speak of Jesus' pacifism and simple living teachings. So...

Why isn't that good enough to state without reservation that it is impossible to argue against these points in good faith? What "good faith" argument against these two points even exists?

Why isn't it good enough to state without reservation that Jesus clearly instructs his followers to be pacifistic and live simply? Because you don't think it DOES clearly teach this, even though many others do.

So again, what objective criteria is there for discerning which ideas "can't" be disagreed with from a place of good-faith?

That is the question that needs to be answered. One question, but a big one.

Marshall...
this is evidence that your ability to reason is less then adequate, for it doesn't "sound" like anything of the kind, since he clearly has stated that he is referring to what the text says...

Yes, I KNOW that. But look:

The text says, "In the beginning, God..." so the story is speaking of a creator God.

Now, if someone denies that the Bible's text refers to God, then they're denying that the text says what it literally says. Who does that? Someone arguing in bad faith, or someone who is delusional/has reading comprehension difficulties?

Again, I am wholly unaware of anyone rational who can read who will say, "Genesis 1:1, where it says, "in the beginning, God...' DOES NOT SAY, 'in the beginning God...'" This person does not exist, so far as I've seen any data to support.

So, why is it not reasonable to speak in terms of actual arguments being made, where we have actual arguments to look at and consider? Why not deal with actual data than non-existent hypotheticals?

Using outrageous but extremely unlikely possibilities to argue your position does not demonstrate "good faith"

So, why isn't Bubba also using outrageous and extremely unlikely (yea, non-existent) possibilities to argue his position? Are you suggesting that, by using a non-existent possibility, Bubba is arguing in bad faith? If not, why not?

~Dan

Marshall Art said...

"But the Bible DOES speak of Jesus' pacifism and simple living teachings. So..."

If I was to concede that it does, that has nothing to do with whether or not you would confirm or deny that in is beyond good faith argument that it speaks of the existence of God and the historicity of Christ. Yet, you won't admit that it is indeed the case with regard to those two points.

In the meantime, a good faith argument against YOUR interpretation that concludes your notion of pacifism and simple living is rational and reasonable given that you pervert the teachings to conclude as you do. Thus, to insist that concepts of pacifism and/or simple living as you understand it, even if you're on the money, is NOT beyond debate. God's existence is, as it stands as a teaching of Scripture.

"Why isn't it good enough to state without reservation that Jesus clearly instructs his followers to be pacifistic and live simply? Because you don't think it DOES clearly teach this, even though many others do."

Which means that it does not qualify as points about which people of good faith cannot debate. The existence of God is. There is no doubt, and none you could present, that the Bible teaches that God exists. There is a host of doubt about your understanding of both pacifism and "simple living".

"So, why isn't Bubba also using outrageous and extremely unlikely (yea, non-existent) possibilities to argue his position?"

This issue was compelled by your charge that we can't know what we know with certainty (that is, by "we", I mean those of us with whom you disagree on various points we've debated for years). Wherever we've seen clearly revealed truths, you insist we're speaking for God or just being arrogant and dismissive of opposing points of view, as if those opposing points of view are equally valid simply because they are held. So, in order to get to the heart of the matter, Bubba chose two points of which there can be no reasonable good faith opposition in order to determine if YOU, Dan Trabue, believe there is ANYTHING in Scripture that can't be known without alternative point of view. To that, he chose what is not at all outrageous, but clearly obvious and without controversy, though you've done your best to pretend his two points are indeed controversial to some unknown, imaginary people somewhere.

Indeed, this has actually revealed your own arrogance in that you're so fearful that your position is wrong or ill-conceived that you won't even admit to that which cannot be debated. It's as if someone insisted, "The Bible is full of words" and your response would be, "Some people might not agree." And if you can't at least agree that there exist some non-debatable facts regarding what we can know without question from Scripture, even something so basic and blatant as "God exists", it is more than reasonable to suggest that you do not engage in discourse in good faith at all.

And just to be clear, I do not in any way concede your points about either pacifism or simple living, given that they are both WAY off the mark.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Marshall, are you just not understanding my point?

Which means that it does not qualify as points about which people of good faith cannot debate. The existence of God is. There is no doubt, and none you could present, that the Bible teaches that God exists. There is a host of doubt about your understanding of both pacifism and "simple living".

What I said is,

TO ME

All four ideas are clear beyond dispute. There is no doubt that the biblical texts speak of Jesus endorsing pacifism and simplicity and that Jesus is an actual historical character and that God is real. These are ALL four clear.

Now, TO YOU

only two of these ideas are clear beyond dispute.

My point is that, even though all four of these ideas appear clear beyond any dispute, in the real world, you and others disagree with TWO of them. No matter how clear it seems to me.

I acknowledge that, in spite of how unlikely it seems to me, that people in the real world DO disagree with what seems clear to me. Just as a point of reality. And again, I have no reason to suspect bad faith on your part.

But, given the reality that people DO exist that dispute what seems clear to me on TWO points, on what basis would I then guess that people might not exist who could dispute the other two?

I just have no data on which to base such a hunch, so I can't state it authoritatively. Nor can you. You can guess, but you can't state it as a fact.

Bubba chose two points of which there can be no reasonable good faith opposition in order to determine if YOU, Dan Trabue, believe there is ANYTHING in Scripture that can't be known without alternative point of view.

To know this, I'd have to have insight into the minds of all people everywhere. I don't. But given that people can dispute some ideas that are abundantly clear to me, then how can I guess that there might not be people who disagree with these other two?

As I've said, they seem abundantly clear to me. I can't imagine that people would disagree. As I've also said, I really need clarification from Bubba (or you) on what he means. If they disagree that the words exist, they're delusional, not disagreeing in bad faith.

Give me some specifics on what that means, then we can talk more specifically.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Thank you for your patience, Dan.

Anyway, you write, "Bubba is perhaps operating in bad faith with all his sniping and divisive arguments. What else could explain it? He is a manipulator and liar."

You ask:

"Is that how you prefer we handle these sorts of disagreements?"

I wonder, is accusing me of bad faith really that much worse than accusing me (and Stan and Marshall and others) of neglecting the virtue of humilty and arrogantly presuming to speak for God? How can doing the former really be that bad if the entire point of this post is justifying the latter?

But let me unpack your criticism a bit.

--

You write:

"It sounds like you're suggesting we operate in a dark world, with sinister suspicions - with ZERO DATA - of nearly all who disagree with us."

No, you're off on three points.

1. On "all who disagree." It's not about EVERY disagreement, only ones where (in this particular domain of biblical interpretation) the Bible's meaning really is clear beyond any reasonable doubt.

I believe there ARE quite a few teachings where the Bible is perfectly clear, with theism and the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth at the top of the list, but there are *ALSO* quite a few teachings that are less clear, including some where the meaning is quite obscure and widely contested.

Yes, Dan, I do think Christians SHOULD be dogmatic where Scripture is clear.

But, at the same time, I think Christians should indeed refrain from dogmatism where Scripture is unclear.

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

Though that idea isn't explicitly found in Scripture -- it is frequently misattributed to Augustine and other theologians, though it appears to be from a 17th century Lutheran -- the wisdom in the motto speaks for itself.

And it stands in stark contrast to your apparent position, that there ARE no essentials about which we should be dogmatic, except perhaps (and quite bizarrely) your position itself, for which you will tolerate no dissent without railing about arrogance and speaking for God.

2. On having "ZERO DATA." It's simply not true that we have no data to justify being skeptical or drawing outright negative conclusions about a person based on his stated interpretation of Scripture.

We have Scripture itself, the external, objective text.

Every year, English teachers have to endure oral book reports and written answers to essay questions from students who are quite clearly trying to B.S. their way through the assignment: the teachers know the text well enough that it doesn't take long for them to see through the charade.

Maybe the kid isn't trying to be deceptive, maybe he even read the wrong book or is confusing two books by the same author -- or maybe the kid is trying to rely on Cliffs Notes and the movie adaptation.

Either way, people who actually know the text don't have to "operate in a dark world, with sinister suspicions" to pick up on when a person clearly doesn't know the text he's describing.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

3. On drawing "sinister" conclusions. I do not insist -- and indeed I have not insisted -- that bad faith is the only possible explanation for a person making transparently false claims about Scripture.

As I say with the English teacher example above, maybe the person read the wrong book: maybe "Forever," the 2003 magical novel set in New York City, instead of "Forever" by Judy Blume.

As I wrote in my very first comment here to this thread, I believe there are teachings that are clear "beyond any good-faith, reasonable disagreement."

I use the same phrase in my second comment, concluding that " you don't believe any teaching is **CLEAR ENOUGH** to preclude good-faith, reasonable disagreement.

There are two adjectives there, Dan:

- good-faith
- reasonable

Some claims about the Bible are so patently absurd that the person making the claim must have an issue with one OR the other, but not necessarily both.

Maybe it's a moral issue, or maybe it's a mental issue.

On the former, maybe he's being deliberately deceitful, or maybe -- like some of the more militant atheists -- he has such an axe to grind that he's putting the worst possible construction on a passage even if it's neither likely from the text nor fair to the writer. In these cases, the guy's not acting in good faith.

On the latter, maybe he hasn't really read the text closely and is just going from claims of a supposed expert who he trusts (rightly or wrongly), or he's bringing to the text quite unjustifiable assumptions which are leading him astray, or maybe he just has significant mental disabilities. In these cases, the guy's not acting as a reasonable (and rational and competent) adult.

So, Dan, on the subject of those who would deny "the text says what it says," you say:

"That would be a subset of people who are delusional, it seems to me. The text says what it says and if you deny that the text exists, that sounds delusional. I'm not speaking to the good will of delusional people."

NEITHER WOULD I. Genuine delusion means that a person isn't acting reasonably, even if he's trying to be as honest as he can.

The Bible quite clearly contains some particular teaching -- clearly and unambiguously -- and somebody denies it; he's not simply denying the claim that God exists or that Jesus is a figure of history, he denies that the Biblical text MAKES THESE CLAIMS.

While I *DO* think we should cautious about going too far about what the Bible clearly teaches, I don't think it's some gross offense of humility to conclude that those who state flat-out falsehoods about the text shouldn't be numbered among those who are of sound mind and are acting in good faith.

Bubba said...

Dan, on the subject of reading a text closely:

Earlier, I wrote, "About the subjects you list, I could concede that friendly enough people could sincerely doubt the virgin birth, but their conclusion isn't really being drawn from the text."

You replied:

"Of course, they could. They could agree that the word 'virgin' is in the text, but they could suspect that it was an imprecise word, or an imprecise translation, or that the author didn't mean it literally... probably other ideas, ALL without having a bad motivation."

Here, you're not tackling the text with very much care, nor are you being careful to follow the argument I'm actually making.

The Greek word for virgin, parthenos (Strong's #3933), is used in Matthew 1:23, citing Isaiah 7:14, for which the Greek Septuagint uses the VERY SAME WORD. This word also appears twice in Luke 1:27, when the writer describes Mary as a virgin betrothed to Joseph, a descendent of David.

BUT THE WORD DOES **NOT** APPEAR IN LUKE 1:34, WHICH RECORDS MARY'S FIRST RESPONSE TO THE ANGEL.

The English Standard Version puts that verse this way:

"And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?'"

But the end of the verse points to a very helpful footnote, explaining that the literal text is "Greek since I do not know a man."

This is also what the KJV translates -- "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" -- and the Strong's numbers confirm that the Greek word parthenos is completely absent from the verse.

Suppose somebody says, as I believe you have previously done, "that the word 'virgin' is in the text, but they could suspect that it was an imprecise word, or an imprecise translation, or that the author didn't mean it literally..."

I think it's quite fair to conclude that he's not actually arguing from the text; one can dismiss his position as literal ignorance, concluding that the person isn't as knowledgeable as he SAYS he is (bad faith) or that he's not as knowledgeable as he THINKS he is (unreasonable: not looking at the text to confirm his claim).

Bubba said...

Finally, Dan, about hyperbole, you write:

"I'm glad to agree that my use of 'endless' is hyperbole. You know, like 'chop off your hand.' I presume, though, that you don't think it is sinful or a communication error to engage in hyperbole as I and Jesus have done."

For the record, while most commentary I've seen DOES describe that particular verse as hyperbole, and while I certainly concede that hyperbole was a weapon in Jesus' rhetorical arsenal, I'm not ACTUALLY convinced that "chop off your hand" qualifies.

The teaching was, IF your hand causes you to sin, chop it off: since our eyes and hands aren't actually the proximate cause for sin in everyday situations, we're generally not faced with this particular situation and we don't need to assert, with a sigh of relief, that Jesus was exaggerating.

But if we DID face that situation -- if one's hand was cursed or possessed, as in the cult classic Evil Dead 2 or in the teen flick Idle Hands -- it actually WOULD be both morally permissible and arguably obligatory to amputate.

But anyway, YES hyperbole isn't a sin.

--

The thing is, Dan, I don't think your reactions are consistent with your now asserting that you were just using hyperbole.

You had written, "People have, as a point of reality, disagreed on just about every possible point I've heard in terms of biblical notions."

You describe this "as a point of reality," which I would take to mean that you're trying to describe the real world accurately and precisely -- and the claim is very much of a piece with how you've always framed your position.

(And again: "In the real world, people disagree about an endless variety of ideas possibly found in the Bible's pages;" here's you describing "the real world," and you now say you were using hyperbole.)

With other critics of that position, I have been quite clear in my response that there ARE claims in the text that are clear beyond any real doubt.

If you really were being hyperbolic, I would have expected a response like, "No, of course there are; I was just exaggerating, and I intended that line to be taken figuratively, not literally."

INSTEAD, you accused us of ignoring the duty of humility and arrogantly presuming to speak for God.

You previously acted like you mean what you said -- and you even quibbled over figurative language about how a written text teaches rather than a human teaches through the text he writes.

--

"I was using hyperbole" strikes me as a rationalization after the fact, just as much as your griping about my writing that a text teaches.

Your position is that you're terribly misunderstood, and so you grabbed onto the only thin reeds you could find, first that I wrote that a text teaches rather than its author teaches through it and second (and most bizarrely) that I don't understand your position simply because I don't accept your position as "the real world."

And now, long after you have denounced your critics as arrogantly speaking for God, you claim that you were only using hyperbole and speaking figuratively, that there really are teachings in the text that are clear beyond reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

You shouldn't wonder why I don't think you're being entirely forthright in your arguing -- because if you really WERE just using hyperbole, your initial post seems to be sound and fury criticizing nothing.

Bubba said...

Dan:

If you want to reply to my prior comments, you should certainly feel free to do so, but I'm going to try a different approach today.

I think it's worthwhile to draw out a few points from a recent comment you made, where you seem to summarize your position.

[QUOTE]

What I've said is clear and direct and simple:

I can not imagine that there are people of good will who would say that the Bible does not have people speaking of Jesus as a real person, of God as if God exists, of the pacifism/simplicity teachings of Jesus and of Genesis as mythic.

They are ALL equally hard for me to believe that someone would disagree with these. AND YET, I know (assuming you are arguing in good faith) that people exist who disagree in good faith about the latter three. Given that, on what basis would I assume that people don't exist that could disagree about Bubba's two?

I have no more reason to think that it's impossible, any more than I do the other examples I've offered. I have zero data on which to base the assumption that you all appear willing to make without any data.


[END QUOTE]

1. That's hardly "clear and direct and simple."

Never mind the compound sentence involves four (or five!) different claims -- namely, theism, the historicity of Jesus, Genesis as myth, and pacifism and simplicity which you treat a single set of teachings.

Even focusing on one of those claims, you say the Bible has "people speaking" "of God as if God exists."

That's not the same as saying that the Bible simply teaches or asserts that God exists, and there's enough wiggle room there to drive a truck through, figuratively speaking. There's nothing there to preclude those "people speaking" from being fictitious, or their recorded words and deeds being mythical, or -- even if these are historically accurate quotes of real people -- their statements being untrustworthy.

It's very similar to the difference between saying that the Bible is a record of God's revelation of man (which is implicitly objective) and saying that it's merely a record of man's experience of God (which implicitly subjective). The two statements look similar but are worlds apart.

Here, it seems that you want to get as close as you can to affirming our position on what the Bible contains regarding the existence of God, but you just can't bring yourself to do it.

Instead, what you describe as "clear and direct and simple" is anything but: it's three noun-verb clauses...

- the Bible has
- people speaking of God as if
- God exists

...when two would otherwise suffice:

"The Bible teaches that God exists."

And one can rephrase that to replace the depedent clause with a noun phrase.

"The Bible teaches the existence of God."

And one can even use ONE WORD to replace that noun phrase.

"The Bible teaches theism."

But you can't seem to say something THIS simple, evidently because you don't really believe it.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

2. It looks like there's another potentially hyperbolic claim.

You write, "They are ALL equally hard for me to believe that someone would disagree with these."

(I say this as a technical writer by profession, but the sentence IS a little clunky. The editor in me would recommend, "For ALL of these, it is equally hard for me to believe that someone would disagree.")

Do you really mean that you belive these claims are "ALL" equally clear? I can't imagine what you would mean if you're using the adjective figuratively, but -- in the half-hour after posting this comment -- you asserted that you were using hyperbole when you wrote something that doesn't really parse if it's figurative, that, "In the real world, people disagree about an endless variety of ideas possibly found in the Bible's pages."

As I wrote yesterday, you haven't been acting as if you were using hyperbole or speaking figuratively: instead of explaining how we misunderstood you by taking you literally, you acted as if we understood you perfectly but were guilty of arrogantly speaking for God when we dare to disagree.

Do you really mean that "ALL" of these claims are "equally" clear? It seems so.

(Why else would you put "ALL" in all-caps?)

And it seems to me that you're actually fine with people taking these sort of claims literally, so long as they agree with you. It's only criticism of your claims that prompts an apparent post hoc clarification.

--

3. If you mean it, the claim isn't remotely credible.

It's simply not plausible that you really think theism and simple living are EQUALLY clear from the biblical text.

- On the one hand, the existence of God is the most obvious teaching of the entire Bible, presumed or stated outright in almost all 66 books, and essential to understanding the most basic points of Scripture.

God created the cosmos, made a covenant with the patriarchs, and renewed that covenant with their descendents; He rescued the Israelite nation, gave them His law, and then gave them prophets and judges and kings; He promised a chosen one -- messiah in Hebrew, christ in Greek, a seed of Eve and seed of Abraham, the son of David and son of man, a prophet like Moses and a priest of the order of Melchizidek and a king to sit eternally on David's throne -- and He delivered on that promise; He revealed Himself in Christ and then in Christ's Spirit poured out on the church, and He promises to reveal Himself again with Christ's return, when He judges the nations and recreates the universe.

From its historical texts to its liturgies to its letters, the Bible records men worshipping Yahweh, praising Him and praying to Him, AND commending others to do the same.

Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15), claiming to BE God (John 8:58), and teaching that the very GREATEST commandment is to love God (Matt 22:37).

The entire point of Scripture is to commend its readers to relate to God by trusting in Him and obeying His commands.

Quite literally ALL of this depends on God being real; NONE of this makes sense if God doesn't exist.

- On the other hand, you admit that, *IF* Jesus taught the notion of living simply, He did so "perhaps indirectly."

But you would have us believe that the reasonable, good-faith denial of either claim is EQUALLY difficult to accept?

Speaking figuratively or not, Jesus did mention something about buying a sword, and He did NOT require the centurion in Matthew 8 to give up his day job. Neither did His closest followers -- His hand-picked Apostles, whom He sent into the world -- require converts to renounce military service, and one of them even taught that the government does not bear the sword in vain.

But you think "Jesus taught pacifism" is as indisputable a claim of Scripture as "Jesus actually existed"?

The claim is laughable.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

4. You're clearly trying to establish a false equivalency.

Let's be honest, Dan: you think the ethical teachings regarding pacifism and simple living are very, very important. You write about them all the time, and you seem to have serious issues with self-described Christians who disagree with you on these teachings.

I don't think you have nearly the same sort of objections with someone who claims to be a Christian while denying the central tenets of theology (again) regarding theism or the historicity of Christ. A few years back, I asked you about an overt atheist joining a Presbyterian church in Austin, Texas, and you couldn't bring yourself to acknowledge that he's not really a Christian.

(Suppose a self-professed Christian told you he thinks that war is sometimes morally permissible, and he ALSO thinks the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth decomposed nearly two thousand years ago. I think we both know which claim would get the bigger reaction from you.)

It would almost seem you're conflating a teaching's clarity and its importance, but what I really think you're doing is trying to set up this sort of equivalency between the essential and biblically clear tenets of orthodoxy and your controversial and often radical beliefs.

- On the one hand, we believe that the Bible is perfectly clear on the existence of God and the historicity of Christ, and so we believe we have good reason to conclude that those who would deny this are being unreasonable or are arguing in bad faith.

- On the other hand, YOU say you believe that the Bible is EQUALLY clear in commanding pacifism and commending homosexual relationships, but you abstain from questioning the honesty and good will of those disagree.

- Because these positions are all equally clear (or so you say) -- that the Bible teaches theism AND that biblical marriage is androgynous -- the only explanation for our behavior (and yours) is that we're arrogant and uncharitable where you are humble and gracious.

It's all a part of what is clearly your m.o.

You want to induce orthodox Christians into relenting in our criticism your radical beliefs; barring that, you want to castigate us for our intransigence.

And intellectual honesty is evidently no obstacle to your agenda.

You might be honest (albeit opaque) about your beliefs, but when it comes to addressing your critics, you seem willing to say anything if you think it might be effective.

That leads to my final point, one that is minor in comparison but important as an illustration.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

5. You're making a claim about Genesis you cannot possibly defend.

In that "clear and direct and simple" summary of your position, you write that the Bible clearly has "people speaking of" "Genesis as mythic."

I defy you to name one such person, either a character within a passage or the author of that passage.

It certainly isn't Jesus since, in Luke 16, He mentions the patriarch Abraham as a real AND important figure in the afterlife.

And it certainly isn't Luke, the evangelist who documented that teaching: in chapter 3, he gives us a geneology of the historical Jesus that goes all the way back to Genesis -- to Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham; to Shem, Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, and Enoch; and to Seth and Adam.

I keep focusing on Luke's gospel because it is the most explicit in being a carefully researched and carefully organized account of eyewitness testimony -- in other words, of being reliable history.

And yet, Luke documents many of the same sort of miraculous events that prompt critical scholars to dismiss Genesis as myth: visitations from angels, impossible births (from an old woman and, in Luke, EVEN from a virgin), control over nature, and even a miracle of giving life itself -- the resurrection of a corpse instead of the creation of life from earth.

MORE THAN THIS, Luke has "connective tissue" to Genesis that one cannot glibly dismiss, including Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus and Luke's geneology of Jesus from his adoptive father Joseph back through David to the central figures of Genesis.

You haven't even attempted to explain the rationale for why "modern history" is dated (somewhere) around the time of Christ. If you were to try, you would very quickly find that the criteria for treating earlier works as mythic is EXACTLY the sort of divine, miraculous acts that we find in Luke, from chapter 1's announcement of the birth of John the Baptist to chapter 24's account of Jesus' bodily resurrection.

You're trying to treat Genesis as myth but Luke as history, but as with so much else you write, the attempt -- and its supporting claims and arguments -- simply do not withstand any sort of close scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

I'll comment as soon as I get a chance.

In the meantime, I'll ask a question that I feel I've already asked:

You said...

only ones where (in this particular domain of biblical interpretation) the Bible's meaning really is clear beyond any reasonable doubt.

Beyond any reasonable doubt to whom?

To ALL people everywhere?

To people who agree with you?

This seems to get down to an appeal to your own opinion, doesn't it?

More later.

Dan

Marshall Art said...

Another routine tactic of yours, Dan. We don't ask YOU questions expecting you to read the minds of others. So, the answer here would be "reasonable to YOU". You don't have to know with absolute certainty how others feel when questions are directly about YOUR positions and what you may or may not think or believe. For example, I can boldly state with full confidence that there is no one who can argue in good faith that the Bible does not teach that God is real and that He exists. Bring me such a person and I've no doubt his argument would expose that he is NOT arguing in good faith at all...to such an extent as to be as obvious as the Biblical teaching of God's existence.

Bubba said...

Dan, it *is* a question you've already asked, and one that I've already answered.

You ask, "Beyond any reasonable doubt to whom?" [emphasis in original]

Last Saturday I wrote:

"There's an OBJECTIVE sense of the word 'clear,' which conveys a belief about the text's contents, and I treat this sense as implicit when the word is used WITHOUT any sort of qualification."

In other words -- and to draw the (cough) clear implications of what I wrote and to provide you a more explicit answer -- on some subjects, the Bible is clear to EVERY reasonable and honest reader.

"The Bible teaches theism," to use an oft-repeated and most obvious example, is clear to any and every honest and reasonable person who actually studies the text.

There are honest and reasonable men who would demure from affirming the claim because they haven't studied the text, but none of them would deny the claim outright.

The only people who would deny that the Bible teaches theism are imbeciles, lunatics, and liars: it is an entirely uncontroversial claim, uncontested BECAUSE IT IS UNCONTESTABLE.

--

You seem to object to my saying this, but I can't imagine why you would object, as often as you have presumed to lecture everyone on reality EVEN IN THIS VERY DISCUSSION.

"I acknowledge reality." "This is just reality." "Yes, in the real world, [my position] observably is true."

I would almost think you have an exacting standard for the claims that you think people should make, but that can't be true, because you insisted that people of good will "demonstrably" disagree on a large number of topics, when you do not AND COULD NOT demonstrate anything about anyone's state of mind -- not some third party and not even yourself.

(For yourself, the most you can do is give testimony about your state of mind, but you can't expose that internal state to others, and you're not a disinterested and independent observer of your own thoughts. As I wrote before, an unreasonable person wouldn't know he's being unreasonable at the time, and a dishonest person almost certainly wouldn't SAY he's being dishonest.)

I called you on your egregious misuse of the adverb "demonstrably," and you explained that you only PRESUME that people interpret in good faith, and you say you do so because there's no evidence to the contrary -- as if the Bible isn't an external, objective, readily available text and indeed the most widely published book in the history of mankind, and as if a person couldn't explain the rationale for his stated interpretation.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Maybe this all goes back to your erroneous equivalency between a proposition's being knowable and being provable.

Last week, you wrote:

"My position is if the author's intended meaning of a text is not provable, then it must be an opinion, because facts are provable.

"It is my position because it is factual and I imagine it is your opinion because, what's the other option? That we all 'know' our 'facts' are 'right,' even when we can't prove them and they are contradictory to each other's 'facts...'?
"

(Funny how you write that you think X and that you imagine Craig thinks X, but that X is your factual position but **ONLY** Craig's "opinion.")

(And there may be another option, in which case your argument here is built on a false dilemma: on issues of a text's interpretation, if the meaning actually is clear and yet two people disagree, at least one of them is mistaken, and their competing arguments and rationales should very quickly reveal who truly understands the text and who doesn't.)

(And, on that subject, I don't think you've EVER addressed the fact that Mary's recorded response to the angel involves a euphemism for coitus rather than the Greek word parthenos or any other word that could be misinterpreted as "young woman.")

Here, you write two important claims:

1. Your position includes the premise that "facts are provable."

2. Your position is, itself, "factual" -- or so you claim.

Logically, both by what you write here and by the very nature of the claim that all facts are provable, you MUST be able to prove "all facts are provable" to be able to assert that the claim is itself a fact.

Prove that "all facts are provable," and then I'd be happy to submit to that standard, either by providing proof that the Bible's meaning re theism is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement OR by conceding that my claim is merely an opinion.

Until you provide that proof, I can -- BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS -- dismiss your supposedly factual position as a mere opinion.

A hunch.

And, more broadly (this is but one obvious instance), until you make a serious effort to constrain your own writing in accordance with the standards you so eagerly seek to impose on others, I will dismiss those standards for what they obviously are: useful rhetorical devices in which you really don't believe.

Anonymous said...

I've answered that question, Marshall. These four or so topic ALL seem obvious and reasonable TO ME. And yet, I know people disagree with me on these points and I have no reason to insist that those disagreeing do so, generally, in bad faith.

That is my point, do you understand it?

Dan

Bubba said...

Suppose I had a particular interpretation about a book or some other work of art. Maybe it's one of those fan theories that turn out to be true according to the author, or close to the author's intent, or really just a very good fit with the known facts. (No big Harry Potter myself, I do like #3.)

Or perhaps it's like Michael Ward's insightful (and almost certainly correct) theory of the hidden motif that unites all the seemingly disparate elements in C.S. Lewis seven-book fantasy series, first laid out very carefully in the academic-minded Planet Narnia and then summarized for laymen in The Narnia Code.

This work of art is readily accessible to other people, and I have a specific interpretation about that work. I'm convinced my theory is at least reasonable and maybe even obvious -- clear, unmistakable, free from ambiguity.

I COULD follow Michael Ward's example and try to walk others through my rationale, carefully laying out the evidence from the text.

Or I could insist that others take my word for it.

I wonder which approach Dan would think is more humble.

Marshall Art said...

Bubba,

I'd wager that he'd say the first is more humble. But the reality has thus far been that he makes only a token effort at walking one through his rationale, when really he'd prefer to simply insist everyone take his word for it. I say this because he has never filled every hole in a way that prevents further critique, comment or question.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

People disagree with you on your points because they are not points that are, in reality, that which anyone can dispute in good faith. "The Bible teaches that God exists" is a point beyond good faith disagreement. As such, there is a clear distinction between the points offered. Taking one from each of you (you and Bubba), yours would be the pacifism teaching. While first it would require a clear understanding by what you mean when using the term, I'll just say that you could not support the notion because there is no specific teaching that supports the notion. You choose to infer it based on that which does not refer to the use of violent force for preserving lives. You see it as returning evil for evil. But then you cannot support THAT contention, as I believe using violent force is often necessary to prevent evil forces from harming or killing innocent life...which makes using violent force a clearly moral act. Pacifism suggests using all means necessary to prevent the use of violent force to repel malevolence directed against you. There is nothing that suggests this as a Christian teaching in any way, shape or form.

So while pacifism as a Christian teaching might seem obvious to you, you're still unable to truly demonstrate that it is an obvious teaching about which there can be no good faith dispute. The same can't be said for the teaching of God's existence. Since we've argued the point of pacifism before, but never whether the existence of God is an essential fact of Biblical teaching, the difference between the two is stark.

However, if you cannot come up with an example of a good faith argument against "the Bible teaches that God exists" position, you must concede that there is at least one teaching of Scripture that is beyond good faith disagreement. No one who reads the Bible, even skimming it, whether believer or atheist, can in good faith insist that the Bible does not teach that God exists. It doesn't even matter if what the Bible says is true in reality, it is indeed what it teaches beyond any good faith argument to the contrary. At its most basic level, it is the most essential fact of Scripture upon what all else that follows is based and without which all else is pure fantasy and good intentions without any eternal value. Indeed, you can't even get to your pacifism or simple living positions without it.

Marshall Art said...

I need to clarify something I said above:

Pacifism suggests using all means necessary to prevent the use of violent force to repel malevolence directed against you when only violent force will do the job

Anonymous said...

I will be returning to this, as I have time.

~Dan

Bubba said...

I appreciate your saying so, Dan.

I do understand that our real lives offline can get in the way of timely replies online, and those other responsibilities often should take priority. Last week, I had to set aside this discussion for a while, I was hoping to resume the next day, and I think it took three days for me to find time to write at length.

At the same time, I've noticed you've started a new discussion on an unrelated subject, on which you've already written probably more than a thousand words.

That doesn't exactly reassure me that addressing the outstanding issues in this discussion actually is a priority for you.

I'd greatly appreciate it if you would respond in a timely manner without delays caused by other online discussions -- and if you're inexplicably at a loss for exactly which issues I'd like you to address, let me know, and I'd be happy to provide a brief list.

Marshall Art said...

Bubba,

In fairness, I find that I'm often able to jump into different discussions while trying to formulate the best response for an ongoing discussion. Sometimes it's a matter of doing so while awaiting a response in the ongoing discussion. Sometimes, I can hit two or three discussions but wouldn't be able to properly address the ongoing discussion in the same amount of time...thus I didn't try and chose to comment on other issues elsewhere.

At the same time, I share the same frustration when waiting to hear from someone who still hasn't responded. I'm left to wonder if they no longer care to engage and have chosen to begin something else.

Still further, there are those times when while engaged, other issues nag at you and you can't concentrate until you get it out in a new post.

And then, some discussions just peter out while my interest is still high. This is the most frustration scenario for me.

Just sayin'.

Bubba said...

I'm sure you're right, Marshall.

I expect that, even with his commenting elsewhere, Dan will continue to add to this discussion with timely, substantive comments.

Anonymous said...

I THINK I've asked this question and don't think it's been answered, so let me try again... Bubba's claim...

"The Bible teaches that God exists."

What very specifically are you suggesting that people might argue against in bad faith? What specific claims would these hypothetical people be making?

"The Bible does not have people speaking of God in it..."?

If so, they are simply delusional, which is not arguing in bad faith. Since they would be denying that the text that is there is there.

If not that, what very specific argument are you suggesting people might make in bad faith?

Thanks,

Dan

Bubba said...

You did already ask that question, and I **HAVE** already answered it.

See the comment listed at May 24, 2017 at 1:47 PM.

The entire comment focuses on the question of whether I invariably attribute patently false interpretations to bad faith: I don't, and I have been very deliberate in my language to make clear that the problem could be moral (acting bad faith) OR MENTAL (being unreasonable).

---

I must say, asking me ANOTHER question I've already answered hardly seems like a way to move this discussion forward.

In the last ten days (May 24 to June 2), your entire interaction in this discussion has been this:

- May 25th: re-asking me a question I've already answered, "reasonable to whom?"

- May 26th: a comment to Marshall

- May 30th: the reassurance that you'll return as time permits

- today: re-asking me a question I've already answered, about whether I always conclude a impossible interpretation is due to bad faith

You haven't even acknowledged my answer to the reiterated May 25th question, either to thank me for my reiterated answer or to ask some sort of follow-up question.

This is no way to have a meeting of the minds, Dan.

Marshal Art said...

"What very specifically are you suggesting that people might argue against in bad faith? What specific claims would these hypothetical people be making?"

I see this question as irrelevant to the reason why the statement was brought up by Bubba in the first place. He's not saying anyone would argue it...in good faith or bad. He simply offered it as an example of a concept that can't be argued against...in good faith. It was used to establish that there are teachings that are beyond debate when you failed to agree that such existed. You couldn't or wouldn't name and example so he offered this one (along with another) in order to establish some agreement between you. When on every discussion where we disagree you argue that we can't know with certainty what the text is teaching without being accused of speaking for God or being arrogant in our certainty, it was logical to find something upon which we can all be assured that such a teaching or concept exists at all. "God exists" is one of them. I'm sure I can speak for others in saying this purpose was crystal clear to me about a billion combined keystrokes ago when Bubba first employed it. Thus, there is no reason to dwell on what kind of objection Bubba thinks anyone might have to it, and the discussion can move forward.

Bubba said...

Marshall, that's a great point.

--

Dan, I mention the doctrine of theism **NOT** because I necessarily believe anyone would deny that the Bible teaches it, but because I recognize that no one could make a such denial within reason and in good faith.

--

To reiterate my position:

- I believe that SOME of the teachings recorded in the Bible (some, not all) are sufficiently clear that they preclude ANY reasonable, good faith disagreement.

- These claims and doctrines clear, to whom? To all reasonable and honest readers of the text: some honest and reasonable people might demure from agreeing because they haven't studied the text in depth, but anyone who would deny outright that (for instance) the Bible teaches that God exists is NOT making a reasonable, good-faith argument from the text. Such a person is being unreasonable or dishonest, but not necessarily both simultaneously.

- On at least some teachings like theism and the historicity of Jesus, the clarity of Scripture is an obvious fact (obvious to whom? all reasonable, honest readers) and NOT just a personal opinion. I can say this because I recognize that "knowable" does NOT imply "proveable."

(The reverse is true, if you can prove a claim, you can know that claim, but just because all cats are mammals, it doesn't mean all mammals are cats -- and likewise, all proveable claims are knowable, it doesn't mean all knowable claims are proveable. But if you believe that ALL "facts are proveable," and if you believe this claim ITSELF is fact, you must be able to prove the claim, and I demand that you do so.)

- We can know that the Bible is unambiguously clear on certain subjects because we are NOT deprived of evidence (or what you would call "data"); we have the external and objective text. We can evaluate a particular interpretation by judging the argument for that interpretation against the text itself: if the interpretation really is reasonable, we should be able to reason about it.

(It annoys me, how much I have to be explicit in this just to hope that you understand my position even if you reject it: it annoys me even more, to write so much, just to see you wrench phrases out of their context to draw ridiculous inferences about my position **OR** to act as if I haven't explained myself as you ask questions I've already answered.)

I say all this, not NECESSARILY to say that the Bible is clear on a subject like strict pacifism, but only to reject the absurd idea that humility requires us to trust that you're being reasonable and honest when you say that you believe that the Bible teaches some particular doctrine on the subject.

Humility doesn't require US to trust YOUR assurances.

Instead, humility requires you to present your arguments to us, *IF* you expect us to accept that you're acting reasonably and in good faith.

More in a little bit...

Bubba said...

Real quick, about that annoyance I mention parenthetically, I really would like an explanation about your asking one question I've already answered (if not spelled out explicitly), only to follow up with another question I've already answered QUITE explicitly.

Dan, you did this without even acknowledging the prior answer, much less responding to it, and you did this having already fractured previous sentences in order to ask questions about what you excerpt, when the question is moot in light of the omitted context.

In short:

- If I write brief sentences ("the Bible is clear"), you draw conclusions about my position that I find absurd.

- If I write longer sentences ("the Bible is clear beyond reasonable, good-faith disagreement"), you excerpt one part to ask questions that the other, omitted part actually addresses.

- And if I write at even greater length, you ask questions that were answered by what I wrote, as if I wrote nothing at all.

My impression is that you're either not reading me carefully or you're being deliberately thick-headed -- and, before you reply by saying you think you're equally misunderstood, I'll note that my apparent misunderstanding came down to quibbles over figurative language (whether an anthropomorphized text teaches or it merely conveys what its author teaches) or the bizarre idea that only those who agree with your position actually understand it.

I am reading your writing carefully, and I'm reading it in context, and I'm reading everything you write.

It does NOT look like you can say the same.

I'd like to know what you have to say for yourself.

Bubba said...

Dan,

I've begun to suspect that you're reading into my position a broader and more comprehensive indictment than I would necessarily intend when I say that a person isn't being reasonable and honest.

When I conclude that a particular interpretation is incompatible with a reasonable, good-faith reading of the text, I do **NOT** mean that the person holding that interpretation must be a moron or a monster.

If he's being unreasonable, it's not necessarily the case that he's delusional, deranged, an idiot, or an imbecile: even the most intelligent and insightful people sometimes make mistakes, and the person might just be tired or bringing flawed but seemingly reasonable assumptions with him.

Or if he's being dishonest, it's not necessarily the case that he's diabolical or amoral, a villain or a sociopath: even the most scrupulous person isn't immune from being dishonest to himself, for seeing things that aren't there because he wants them to be there.

To take a real-world example that I've already mentioned, there ARE people who think the Bible does not clearly and unambiguously teach the virgin birth.

Some of these people may be otherwise good, decent, even great people to know: faithful friends to others, good fathers and husbands, hard workers at the office and in church and in the community. Judging them by their fruit, some of these trees may otherwise be very healthy indeed.

Nevertheless, the idea that the Bible doesn't clearly teach the virgin birth is crap.

Maybe the great guy didn't read all the relevant passages -- not just Isaiah and Matthew, but Luke as well -- or he didn't read them closely enough. Maybe he just took somebody else's word on a claim that seemed to be reasonable observation, particularly for those who sometimes cringe at the claims of the miraculous.

But there's really no way this position of his came from a careful study of the text itself.

--

As I put it earlier, "I could concede that friendly enough people could sincerely doubt the virgin birth, but their conclusion isn't really being drawn from the text.

You replied:

"Of course, they could. They could agree that the word 'virgin' is in the text, but they could suspect that it was an imprecise word, or an imprecise translation, or that the author didn't mean it literally... probably other ideas, ALL without having a bad motivation."

Maybe the person doesn't have a bad motivation, maybe he's just being a little careless either in his own studies or in trusting people whose claims really should have been verified.

But, as I point out, the text itself DOES NOT permit theories about the word "virgin" being an imprecise word or a word imprecisely translated or a word with a figurative meaning.

Suppose you're this great and good guy who believes that the Bible doesn't unambiguously teach the virgin birth, and you bring up these ideas about the word for "virgin."

Suppose I'm a friend who replies that Mary's response in Luke doesn't actually use that word and instead she claims that she doesn't "know" a man.

How should you reply?

- Is there an actual argument that my reply is either incorrect, irrelevant, or otherwise mitigated?

- If not, should you go back to the text to verify my claim and, having done so, humbly concede the point and change your mind on the text, having grown in your understanding of the text?

- Or should you point to all your good works to show how good a person you are, point to your college degrees to assure me of your intelligence, tell me that your position came from a careful and prayerful study of the text, and insist that I take your word for it?

What exactly is the reasonable, honest, HUMBLE, and appropriate response?

Bubba said...

To sum up for now, Dan, I DO think the virgin birth makes for a good "case study" for our two, evidently conflicting approaches to arguments over interpretation.

It's an historically important doctrine even if reasonable disagreement can occur over the implications, such as whether the virgin birth is essential in the provision of salvation or whether BELIEF in it is necessary for receiving salvation.

(To those questions, my answers are yes and no, respectively: the virgin conception is what points to Jesus being no mere human but rather God Incarnate without a sin nature, but unlike the crucifixion and resurrection, the event wasn't emphasized in any NT account of the good news that sinners must believe to be saved. BUT ALL THAT IS A DIGRESSION.)

It's a theological doctrine and not an ethical command, so -- apart from any presumption against the miraculous which is, in any case, contrary to a belief in the bodily Resurrection -- there should be very little personal stake in preferring one position over another. It's not a moral commandment to be obeyed, merely an historical event to be believed.

It's a claim that involves only a handful of passages. Unless I'm overlooking anything, there are only three relevant passages, one from the OT and two from the NT.

- Isaiah 7:14
- Matthew 1:18-25, which cites Isaiah
- Luke 1:26-38

And it's a subject you and I have already discussed on more than one occasion.

As I've pointed out, here and previously, the text doesn't just use the Greek word parthenos which might conceivably be interpreted as a "young woman" rather than a virgin.

Instead, in Luke 1:34, Mary asks Gabriel how she would conceive and give birth since (literally, in the Greek) "I do not know a man."

And if that weren't enough (and it is), Matthew 1:25 records that Joseph "knew her not until she had given birth to a son."

I would **GREATLY** appreciate your actually addressing this point, to tell me how and why a reasonable and honest person could actually believe the text really is ambiguous.

If you have time to only address one thing, I'd prefer it be Luke 1:34.

Anonymous said...

Okay, dealing with this last question...

I would **GREATLY** appreciate your actually addressing this point, to tell me how and why a reasonable and honest person could actually believe the text really is ambiguous.

But first, a few reminders of what has led us here, because I have to tell you, I'm still not sure what you're asking...

I. I have noted that, generally speaking, I don't have any good reason to think that those who disagree with me - even on topics that I think are obvious - do so in bad faith... nor do I see any good reason why you would presume it.

II. I have not said that there are no people who might argue in bad faith, just that I don't generally see a reason to presume it.

III. You have responded by saying that there are SOME passages/ideas found (or "taught") in the Bible that no good faith disagreement could come out from it. That is, anyone who disagrees with the idea MUST do so in bad faith.

IV. You are now citing the notion of the virgin birth as an example saying (correct me if I'm wrong), that if someone reads Luke 1:34 and thinks that the text is suggesting that Mary is NOT speaking of being a virgin in the normal sense, they do so in bad faith.

V. What I have said (in general, I don't know about this example) is that I really need to know what argument this hypothetical bad faith person is making.

V1. Are they saying that the English translation word "virgin" isn't there? Then that is not recognizing reality (either through some mistake or delusion or otherwise), but it isn't necessarily what I would call bad faith.

V2. Are they saying that it IS there (recognizing reality that the text exists) but that it is wrongly translated, I would need to know what they base this on. Perhaps they have some source that I don't know about, I certainly don't speak Greek and can't say for sure. This is not necessarily arguing in bad faith.

V3. Are they saying, "Yes, I've read the Greek experts who all say that this word means literally virgin, but I don't think they're correct - even though I don't speak Greek..." well, that comes closer to sounding delusional... denying something the experts say and that they don't know about. This I guess could be bad faith, but it also sounds rather delusional to me, or an extremely immature thinker, rather than bad faith.

V4. Are they saying that they recognize that the text is speaking of a literal virgin, but they don't accept the text as scientifically reliable, this is not bad faith.

I just am not understanding the point you're making or what it is you're asking, which is why I wanted to read and re-read what you're saying. Which is why I'm asking specifically what argument is being made. To that end, perhaps you are saying this...

Cont'd

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Suppose I'm a friend who replies that Mary's response in Luke doesn't actually use that word and instead she claims that she doesn't "know" a man.

How should you reply?


It could be that you are incorrect in your assumption about what the word rightly translated means.

It could be that you don't trust what others are saying about that word, but you're not really operating from a place of knowledge.

It could be that the Other is incorrect in their assumption about what the word rightly means.

All of these seem reasonable to me, more so than assuming that they are arguing in bad faith, necessarily.

Is there an actual argument that my reply is either incorrect, irrelevant, or otherwise mitigated?

I don't know the answer to that and, as the topic is wholly uninteresting to me, I'm not inclined to research it. That is not "bad faith," though. That is disinterest.

If not, should you go back to the text to verify my claim and, having done so, humbly concede the point and change your mind on the text, having grown in your understanding of the text?

Well, if you're interested in the argument, you might do so. If you're not interested in the argument, you may just be interested in waving it off as a meaningless argument. Here again, not bad faith, just disinterest.

So, I have to say, I'm just not clear what it is you're asking.

Returning to the starting point (or what I think the starting point was... I'm pretty confused at what your point is)...

A. I still don't generally see a reason to generally presume bad faith when there's a disagreement - even about topics that might seem clear.

B. I don't know that I can say that there are any topics found in the Bible where it's impossible for good faith disagreements. If one can say that Jesus would actually generally support killing one's enemies, then it would seem that one could disagree about anything and do so in good faith... I see no reason to presume that those who disagree with me do so in bad faith.

~Dan

Craig said...

Comments-2
Answers to the one question asked-0

No wonder...

Anonymous said...

Well, I made it quite clear that I don't understand the question.

Would you like me to answer a question I don't understand?

Or doesn't it make more sense to get clarification on the question?

Additionally, in fact, I DID reply. The question (one question):

"How should you reply?"

My answer: It depends on what their argument was... then I gave several examples of what their argument might be and gave my answer based on that response.

But until Bubba clarifies what the question being asked is, I can't give the best answer. Perhaps you're comfortable answering questions that you don't understand. I think it best to get clarification.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Look at Bubba's last, Craig, that he asked me to address...

It's a theological doctrine and not an ethical command, so -- apart from any presumption against the miraculous which is, in any case, contrary to a belief in the bodily Resurrection -- there should be very little personal stake in preferring one position over another. It's not a moral commandment to be obeyed, merely an historical event to be believed.

It's a claim that involves only a handful of passages. Unless I'm overlooking anything, there are only three relevant passages, one from the OT and two from the NT.

- Isaiah 7:14
- Matthew 1:18-25, which cites Isaiah
- Luke 1:26-38

And it's a subject you and I have already discussed on more than one occasion.

As I've pointed out, here and previously, the text doesn't just use the Greek word parthenos which might conceivably be interpreted as a "young woman" rather than a virgin.

Instead, in Luke 1:34, Mary asks Gabriel how she would conceive and give birth since (literally, in the Greek) "I do not know a man."

And if that weren't enough (and it is), Matthew 1:25 records that Joseph "knew her not until she had given birth to a son."

I would **GREATLY** appreciate your actually addressing this point, to tell me how and why a reasonable and honest person could actually believe the text really is ambiguous.

If you have time to only address one thing, I'd prefer it be Luke 1:34.


What do YOU think the question being asked is? Maybe you're better at understanding Bubba than I am. Please tell me the question being asked (there's nary a question mark in all of that) and I will be glad to try to answer it (noting that I may need clarification if the question makes no sense).

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Put another way: What Bubba is asking, I believe, is...

I would **GREATLY** appreciate your actually addressing this point, to tell me how and why a reasonable and honest person could actually believe the text really is ambiguous.

My question, put another way, is What do you mean by "believe the text is ambiguous..."?

And then I gave my four possible answers (V1 - V4... there may be more) in response to what Bubba MIGHT be meaning, but I need the clarification.

So, Craig, I didn't answer 0 questions, I answered at least 4 possible takes on the question, depending on what Bubba meant (or what Bubba's hypothetical skeptic meant).

Understand that?

~Dan

Craig said...

Ok, if that makes you feel justified then that's just awesome.

Again, I look at data, I reach conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Apparently not.

Dan

Anonymous said...

I can directly answer the questionin general (without waiting for clarification), but it's an answer I've already given...

Could I answer how a person could actually believe Text A is ambiguous and do so in good faith? People can do it because it regularly happens that people in good faith do disagree on even passages/interpretations that some think are clearly obvious.

We don't have a list of biblical ideas that are authoritatively unmistakable. We have fallible human opinions. On what basis would I say, Sorry, but if you disagree with my interpretation on that passage, you can't be doing so in good faith...?

That's the question you need to answer to make your case.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Put another way: HOW do people believe what they believe in good faith, even when it's opposite of what I think is clearly in the text? I don't know. I just know they do it. Regularly.

On what basis would I think they are making up their claims to believe as they do? The basis that, "I think it's a slam dunk, therefore, they can't possibly disagree with me in good faith..."? Doesn't that sound a bit narcissistic?

~Dan

Marshal Art said...

It appears, Dan, that you continue to choose to consider they hypothetical "person" that might act in bad faith. That's totally besides the point, which again, is clearly directed at what YOU believe with regard to the existence of Biblical teachings so clear as to be completely and unequivocally beyond good faith disagreement. The whole world could argue against a given teaching for any number of reasons and that would have no relevance at all to the question.

Anonymous said...

I have said repeatedly, Marshall, that I DO believe that there are some teachings from people in the Bible that are abundantly clear. Unmistakably clear.

AND, I have noted the reality that, in spite of what I think of as being clear, some people do disagree with that conclusion and I have no reason to assume they're acting in bad faith.

That's not hypothetical, that's real world.

Now, if you want to confess that you've been arguing in bad faith all this time against some of the teachings of Jesus that I think are clear, I can reconsider my position, but in the meantime, I am looking at real world realities and have a hard time figuring out what Bubba (or any of you) are basing your hunches upon.

~Dan

Craig said...

"I DO believe that there are some teachings from people in the Bible that are abundantly clear. Unmistakably clear."

Which is not the same thing as saying that some teachings "are" clear. As long as you can't even make that sort of claim about your own secondary teachings, you'll always equivocate on what Bubba has suggested.

Anonymous said...

They ARE clear to me. You have teachings that ARE clear to you.

You have no way to prove that some ideas ARE clear to everyone.

It's not equivocating, it's being exact and precise and factually correct in what I'm saying.

Where am I mistaken?

~Dan

Craig said...

Thank you so much, I appreciate it when you make my points for me.

Anonymous said...

Instead of vague attempts at insults, why not be helpful, Craig?

Where specifically am I mistaken?

Or is it the case that you can't find anything wrong in what I've said and so, you are retreating to vague attacks?

I honestly can't tell, as you are not addressing my questions.

~Dan

Craig said...

No insults, just following the data. I understand exactly why you're being so "precise", it strangely allows you to avoid dealing with what Bubba has been asking you for months by constructing a slightly different version of the question.

I get the fact that the subtle difference between someone being "clear", as opposed to being "clear to you", might not make much difference.

But, when you've introduced a different standard from the one underlying the original questions.

Bubba said...

Dan, I greatly appreciate your providng a prompt response AND doing so at length. At the same time, however, I believe you continue to miss a key point that really could not be missed if you were closely reading all my comments.

Certainly, in trying to encourage you to respond in a more timely manner, I asked you to focus on my last comment or (preferably) my last two comments, and doing so you could have overlooked that prior comment.

But what still really annoys me is that one of these earlier comments was IN *DIRECT* RESPONSE to one of the two questions you raised in that 16-day period (May 24th to June 8th) when you hardly engaged in this discussion at all.

On June 2nd, you asked your second question, saying that you thought you had asked it but it hadn't been answered. That same day, I responded that it *WAS* a question I had already answered.

I pointed to an earlier comment, on May 24, 2017 at 1:47 PM, and I summarized my response.

I will now do so again, seeing as you haven't apparently bothered to look for my response to a question you asked.

--

In that question, you asked about whether I always conclude an impossible interpretation is due to bad faith, and now you **CONTINUE** to act as if I invariably attribute patently false interpretations to bad faith.

I do not, and I have been very deliberate in my language to make clear that I believe the other person's problem could be moral (acting in bad faith) OR MENTAL (being unreasonable).

To make myself even more clear, and to summarize a point I made on June 4th, I don't believe an instance of unreasonable or dishonest argumentation means that the person is an imbecile or sociopath. Even the most intelligent person can make a mental error, and even the most scupulous person can deceive himself into seeing things that aren't there.

If a person is adamant that he believes a text says X, but he consistently shows what you would call disinterest in actually dealing with the text in detail, I actually do disagree with you and believe that's an indication of arguing in bad faith -- and I wonder whether you think any words or actions call into question a person's intellectual honesty.

But I DO NOT insist that a person asserting an impossible interpretation must be acting in bad faith: the issue could be a mental lapse rather than a moral one.

As I put it in the penultimate paragraph of that one comment I most wanted you to address, "I would **GREATLY** appreciate your actually addressing this point, to tell me how and why a reasonable and honest person could actually believe the text really is ambiguous."

NOTE WELL, DAN: "reasonable and honest."

"**REASONABLE** and honest."

I included both adjectives for a reason and not just to have an excuse to type more: once again, it seems my words are misunderstood if I write for brevity BUT IGNORED IF I WRITE FOR CLARITY.

Bubba said...

Now, Dan, I'd like to set aside your mistaken belief that I invariably attribute absurd interpretations to bad faith, and I'd like to turn to Luke 1:34.

As much as you seem to find other passages of Luke quite important, I find it odd that you have so little interest about this passage, but your interest level is immaterial to me.

- You balked about having to respond to so very much I've written, so I focused on one topic of my choosing.

- On this topic, you don't take a position that is compatible with my overall point: you don't agree that the virgin birth really is clear beyond any good-faith AND REASONABLE argument from the actual text (in which case, the number of unmistakeably clear teachings is at least one), and you don't even take an agnostic position to say that it COULD be that clear (in which case, the number COULD be at least one).

- Instead, you seem to take the position that a reasonable and honest person COULD INDEED conclude that the Bible doesn't teach the virgin birth.

After all, you listed the doctrine in your list of examples where, "as a point of reality," genuine disagreement is possible.

If that's your position, I think you should be willing to argue it.

As it is, you're making such vague and general statements that it's clear you don't even grasp the point I'm making regarding Luke 1:34.

You list a few hypothetical bad-faith arguments about the verse, and the first one is this:

"V1. Are they saying that the English translation word 'virgin' isn't there? Then that is not recognizing reality (either through some mistake or delusion or otherwise), but it isn't necessarily what I would call bad faith."

BUT IT ISN'T THERE, DAN. It's not there in the fairly literal King James Version, and the footnote in the English Standard Version makes clear that the word wouldn't be in a literal translation of the verse.

That's my point: because the word isn't there, anyone who would argue about the word's ambiguity really isn't arguing from the actual effing text.

You write further, in attempting to answer my question of how you would reply:

"It could be that you are incorrect in your assumption about what the word rightly translated means.

"It could be that you don't trust what others are saying about that word, but you're not really operating from a place of knowledge.

"It could be that the Other is incorrect in their assumption about what the word rightly means.

All of these seem reasonable to me, more so than assuming that they are arguing in bad faith, necessarily.
"

"The" word, Dan? "That" word? What word is that? I'm telling you, and you're welcome to look this up yourself, parthenos isn't in that verse.

I really find it hard to believe that you're giving an honest effort to comprehend what I'm saying, but I'll try another approach momentarily.

Bubba said...

Okay, Dan:

Since you write that you don't understand what it is I'm asking, I'm going to try a different approach -- a quick series of questions. My preference would be to hold each follow-up question until the prior question is answered, but here I think it's best to ask them all at once.

This way, you can see where I'm going with these questions, as their intent (and their relevance to the broader topic at-hand) isn't obvious with only the first question.

And, this way, I can actually get to all the questions, because it's frankly not a given that you would provide a clear answer to the first question even if you respond in a timely manner.

Here we go.

--

I believe the Bible is clear that Jesus was born of a virgin, and by this I mean the text is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement. Unless you think I'm omitting another text, the teaching only comes up in three very short passages:

- Isaiah 7:14
- Matthew 1:18-25, which cites Isaiah
- Luke 1:26-38

(That's just 22 verses in total. We're going on 18 days since I first mentioned Luke 1:34, so we're getting to the point that an interested student could have studied just one verse a day and still get through the relevant passages before you will have grasped my point.)

You make a distinction between a text being clear "to you" and being clear "to everyone," so I'll ask about the two differences in turn.

1. Do you think the Bible is clear "to you" in teaching (or containing the authors' teaching) that Jesus was born of a virgin?

(Yes or no should suffice.)

2. If you don't, just what is YOUR argument that the text is unclear?

(Be specific please.)

3. If you DO think the Bible is clear "to you" in this regard, do you also think that, in containing the doctrine of the virgin birth, the Bible is clear to all reasonable, good-faith people who have studied the relevant passages?

(Here, I'm NOT asking about everybody; we can ignore the mental cases who cannot be reasonable, the charlatans who do not choose to be intellectually honest, and those reasonable and honest people who haven't studied the text and would demure from saying anything about its contents.)

(This is another yes-or-no question.)

4. If you DON'T think a reasonable, honest student of the Bible would necessarily conclude that the text teaches a virgin birth, just what is HIS argument that it isn't clear?

(Again, I want a specific argument, not a vague outline devoid of all real content.)

I know the text well enough to know that no such argument exists, and I defy you to prove me wrong, but your position seems to be that we should assume it exists even in the absence of evidence.

Not only do you PERSONALLY choose to make that assumption, you believe that we all have a moral duty to do so -- and those who don't make that assumption, you accuse of ignoring the duty of humility and arrogantly presuming to speak for the text's author or even for God Himself.

And that gets to the heart of my problem with your position.

You're dogmatic about the moral imperative of skepticism.

And so I would ask an obvious question in response:

5. If we cannot question the honesty or rationality of people with whom we disagree, why can you question our humility for disagreeing with you?

That is what we're doing, after all: we disagree with your position that we should assume that reasonable alternative interpretations always exist, and in response you denounce us as arrogant.

I wanna know exactly how it is that humility permits you to level that charge.

Anonymous said...

Regarding this...

clear beyond any good-faith AND REASONABLE argument

I have been clear all along in our various conversations on this topic that I AM NOT SPEAKING of people who are delusional/just don't agree that a text contains words.

If someone says "The Bible never mentions God..." and you respond, "What do you mean? The very first words are, 'in the beginning, GOD...'?" and that person responds, "No it doesn't...." that's delusional or deliberate ignorance.

Read and understand:

I. AM. NOT. SPEAKING. OF. THAT.

I have always been quite clear that I am not speaking about mere delusion (to the degree that it exists, it is certainly quite rare, I'm sure).

So, given that I am not and have never been talking about delusion/willful ignorance, I have always been focusing on the other side of the equation, the "bad faith" claim.

Is all of this because you have never understood my point?

Please clarify.

Thanks.

~Dan

Craig said...

At this point you have to realize that your inability to comprehend what Bubba is talking about raises questions about your ability to engage in reasonable interpretation of scripture.

Bubba said...

Maybe I haven't understood your point, so maybe you should elaborate on what exactly it is.

My position is that some of the Bible's teachings are clear beyond the possibility of any good-faith AND reasonable arguments.

You ask (paraphrasing) why I would invariably assume that a person is arguing in bad faith merely for holding what I believe to be an obviously impossible interpretation.

On at least three separate occasions in this thread, I have explained that I do no such thing: it could be a mental lapse rather than a moral lapse -- and I've explained that a single instance of being unreasonable **OR** intellectually dishonest doesn't necessarily imply that the person is an imbecile, a lunatic, a charlatan, or a sociopath.

You now respond, "I have always been focusing on the other side of the equation, the 'bad faith' claim."

Yeah, you have, but it's not the least bit clear why you're doing so, because I'm not going to defend I position I don't take, and I don't see why you would expect me to.

There *ARE* times I believe it's appropriate to conclude that some other person is arguing in bad faith, as that person's words and behavior exhaust all other possibilities and all reasonable benefit of the doubt.

But I DO NOT believe that mere disagreement is sufficient proof of intellectual dishonesty, EVEN when that disagreement is over a text, the meaning of which I believe is clear beyond any good-faith ***AND*** reasonable disagreement.

I would think anyone who reaches that conclusion just on the basis of the mere disagreement is being presumptuous and perhaps even uncharitable.

...but we're not REALLY talking about a general case with a hypothetical opponent, are we, Dan?

We're talking about you -- and we're talking about whether it's arrogant and graceless for people like Stan and me to conclude that you don't argue in good faith.

Well, we've seen a lot more than just your positions, and when I concluded that you're not being forthright, I did so, not JUST because of the fact that you disagree, but because of HOW you disagree.

To give you just one tiny example, you still haven't said one word of genuine substance of what justifies any doubt whatsoever about the Bible's claim of the virgin birth, in light of Luke 1:34.

You've griped about my writing too much, so I've focused on just one issue, and you seem intent to talk about anything other than that issue.

Craig said...

Bubba,

I guess you've gotten all your going to get.

Anonymous said...

Wanna bet? Maybe put your money where your mouth is?

I doubt it.

Dan

Craig said...

Of course, I want to bet that you'll actually continue to respond after an extended period of silence. Because that would be a wise bet.

Having said that, and given your history, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Bubba said...

The assurance that one will provide a substantive response is no substitute for the response itself, but I continue to await Dan's replies, on his assurance that they are forthcoming.

Since Dan has complained about too many topics being covered, I've decided to focus on the single topic of the Bible's clarity in teaching the virgin birth; despite his saying that the topic doesn't much interest him, Dan *HAS* implied that reasonable, good-faith disagreement is possible on the topic, and I'd like to see a willingness to examine the relevant passages in defending what I believe is a baseless position.

Since I've already outlined where I'm going with this question, I'll reiterate a question that I believe can be answered very simply.

1. Do you think the Bible is clear "to you" in teaching (or containing the authors' teaching) that Jesus was born of a virgin?"

I continue to wait for an answer. I'll check this thread as time permits, and I hope Dan appreciates that a significant delay means that I'll probably check the thread less often: I will reply, of course, but perhaps not as quickly as I would to more timely comments.

Dan Trabue said...

Sorry it's taken a while. Busy with life.

Do you think the Bible is clear "to you" in teaching (or containing the authors' teaching) that Jesus was born of a virgin?"

The best answer I have is this: I simply don't have an opinion on this. I have not researched the Bible and "virgin" as it relates to Jesus' birth and am wholly uninterested in researching it.

Why not?

Because it is an inane question with no meaning to me at all. Look: What I DO know is that Jesus did not speak of "virgin births" as it relates to his teachings. The idea of a virgin birth is not core or even present in Jesus' teachings. Jesus never said, "And remember, y'all, my Mommy was a virgin, so you better believe it, ya know?"

It would be similar to if someone asked me, "Do you think that the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin is core to Jesus' teachings and clear in the Bible...?" What? No, I don't care about the question, it's an inane question and I have no interest in it. So, it is neither clear nor unclear. It's moot. It's irrelevant.

Ask me about whether war or investing or slavery or child abuse is clear to me in biblical opinions and I can give you an answer. Asking me about something that is critically unimportant to me or that I care not one whit about is not going to get much of an answer.

Make sense?

Does the Bible have places where it mentions the notion that Jesus was born "of a virgin" (or words that have been translated thusly)? Yes, it does. Do I think it's "clear" in the sense of being a meaningful "teaching" of the Bible/of biblical authors? No, I don't think it is a meaningful teaching found in biblical text. It's a passing reference.

Dan

Craig said...

It took a week for that? That's disappointing even for you.

Dan Trabue said...

Taking time to delve into a question that is entirely without interest to me (as it is wholly unrelated to the teachings of Jesus), we find this biblical case for a "virgin birth..."

Matt 1:

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit....

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”


Luke 1...

"Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God."

...and I think that's about it (maybe I'm missing others, but those are the ones I see when I go to websites defending the virgin birth). Three passages that allude to the notion that Mary had not engaged in sex with Joseph or that she was a word that has been translated "virgin."

Here's what at least one website has to say about that translation...

The more interesting potential virgin birth, though, comes from Matthew's explanation in Matt 1:22-23. There the text says that the virgin birth of Jesus took place to "fulfill" the prophecy that "the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel." Matthew is paraphrasing Isa 7:14.

But he is quoting a mistranslation. The original Hebrew text of Isa 7:14 is not about a virgin. Rather, the Hebrew used to describe the woman in Isa 7:14 is almah, a word that means "young woman." But then the Septuagint, an early translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, took the Hebrew almah and rendered it as the Greek parthenos, which means "virgin."


https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/was-there-really-a-virgin-birth-in-the-bible

It goes on from there.

Something similar is said at the conservative/traditional "Got Questions" website...

https://www.gotquestions.org/virgin-or-young-woman.html

Does the word translated virgin MEAN virgin or merely young woman? I don't know and I don't care. It is a trifle to me. It is wholly unrelated to the teachings of Jesus and thus, irrelevant. To me. You have an opinion on it? Fine, I don't mind that you do, but asking someone to whom the question is irrelevant if it is "clear" in the Biblical text may not be the best judge of whether or not it is clear.

Given that some conservative translators have suggested it might be translated "young woman" does not instill confidence in me that it is clearly meaning virgin.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, you can pay up on your bet by making a sizable donation to the ACLU. As to this:

It took a week for that? That's disappointing even for you.

I have given my very precise, very exact, actual opinion that I hold in response to the question. What more do you want?

Do you want me to offer opinions that I don't hold? Why?

Bubba asked if I thought the Bible was "clear" on the teaching of the virgin birth. I gave my exact answer to that question.

If you don't like my honest and exact answers, don't ask the questions. But keep inane sniping to yourself, as it adds nothing positive to the conversation.

Craig said...

Pay up on what bet? The bet that you'd eventually rouse yourself to make enough of a comment at some point to "win", really?

But it's a nice try, you're copy/paste skills are impressive, as is your ability to write lots of words without actually saying anything.

Oh, perhaps you missed Bubba addressing the transition issue multiple times many comments ago. I suspect he did so to defuse exactly the tactics you've chosen.

Dan Trabue said...

It is my exact answer to this question. If you don't like it, feel free to leave, but it is my answer to the question that was asked of me. You just can't say I didn't answer it because you don't like my answer.

And now you're going to welsh on a bet, too?

I hope how you can see how petty your little snipes are, how very little they make you appear. May your eyes be opened.

Peace,

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

But maybe this is core to the confusion and/or disagreement we have. You all have opinions on all matter of ideas that you think "the Bible teaches..." When someone is not concerned about your opinions and does not opine "correctly" on these (to us/them) moot points, you are calling that "bad faith."

Disinterest in another's interpretations of the Bible is not bad faith. It's disinterest.

Dan Trabue said...

To the other question, "Can you imagine ANYONE who would disagree in good faith that 'the Bible' teaches Position X?" - whatever Position X might be - my answer remains the same:

1. You are asking me to guess what a Hypothetical person MIGHT agree or disagree to... I have no way of knowing what an unknown person might think.

2. I've been quite clear that it seems to me that if people can disagree about some rather obvious-to-me things/interpretations, then they can probably disagree on anything.

To the point Bubba's made about "I'm not talking JUST about bad faith disagreements, I'm talking about just confusion or delusion..." I've been pretty clear all along that of course people CAN be confused/delusional... and I'm not talking about that angle. That is, I'm not talking about the person who, when shown Gen. 1:1 can say, "Nope, the Bible doesn't mention God... it's not in the text..."

Since this conversation was started by the suggestion that I'm arguing in bad faith (and not from a point of being delusional), I've been speaking specifically about the bad faith angle.

My points remain:

I'm not arguing in bad faith.
People certainly CAN argue in bad faith, but...
I don't have a reason to generally suppose they are.

Not sure what the fuss is or where the confusion lies, but hopefully that helps.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan:

I certainly understand your being busy, and I appreciate your continuing to take the time to comment, but I frankly don't see how you can think your responses were adequate.

In your first comment, you write that you don't think the virgin birth is clear "in the sense of being a meaningful 'teaching' of the Bible/of biblical authors" but that's a bizarre twisting of the word's meaning, a "sense" that I've never seen anyone use before.

"Clear" and "meaningful" aren't remotely synonymous, so you have no good reason to substitute one for the other.

I've been very explicitly what I have meant by the term "clear," and I've been explicit in order to reject your earlier attempt to substitute a subjective understanding of clarity (ie, clear "to me") for an objective understanding, so you should have tried to answer my question using the terms AS I DEFINED THEM instead of trying to insert even more implausible definitions.

It's particularly frustrating that you would insert that particular definition since I've already conceded that the doctrine of the virgin birth is important "even if reasonable disagreement can occur over the implications, such as whether the virgin birth is essential in the provision of salvation or whether BELIEF in it is necessary for receiving salvation."

And as I've already written:

"It's a theological doctrine and not an ethical command, so -- apart from any presumption against the miraculous which is, in any case, contrary to a belief in the bodily Resurrection -- there should be very little personal stake in preferring one position over another."

I do believe that the Bible's most important teachings are also clear, I have never claimed that the inverse is true -- that it's clearest teachings are the most important -- and I asked about the virgin birth, **NOT** because it's so important, but because it's so clear.

Your conflating the two is inexplicable except for the likelihood that you're trying to change the subject.

--

The first part of this same response strikes me as more honest, if not any more helpful:

"The best answer I have is this: I simply don't have an opinion on this. I have not researched the Bible and 'virgin' as it relates to Jesus' birth and am wholly uninterested in researching it."

If that's true -- and it certainly seems to be true -- then you have absolutely no business insisting that honest AND reasonable readers disagree on the subject, which is the position you were taking earlier in this discussion.

You now admit, you don't know what you're talking about.

(And it's very peculiar that, for how much you supposedly love the Bible and revere Jesus, you're quite selectively interested in what is taught from the text and what is taught by His hand-picked Apostles.)

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

You follow up with a very cursory look at the passages in question -- listing them as "the ones [you] see" at other websites, as if I didn't repeatedly list the relevant passages here.

And you quote a claim about Isaiah, that -- never mind how the Apostles and even Jesus quoted the Septuagint as if it were reliable -- that Greek translation mistranslated the Hebrew word for "young woman."

BUT YOU COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT I HAVE BEEN MAKING, **NOT** ABOUT ISAIAH, BUT ABOUT LUKE.

After you quote Luke evidently from the NRSV, you write that these three passages "allude to the notion that Mary had not engaged in sex with Joseph or that she was a word that has been translated 'virgin.'"

But in Luke 1:34, there was no single word that translates to "virgin," instead -- as the ESV footnote and the more literal KJV demonstrate), Mary claimed that she "did not know a man" -- not just Joseph, but *ANY* man, a euphemism that points UNMISTAKABLY to her sexual virginity and not merely her being a "young woman."

Is the Bible clear on the virgin birth? The correct answer is yes.

EVEN THAT FIRST WEBSITE YOU CITE CONCEDES THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT IS CLEAR ON THIS.

"Was there really a virgin birth in the Bible? The answer is yes and no, in that order...

"Matthew (Matt 1:18) says that Jesus Christ is born to Mary, who becomes pregnant before having sex with her betrothed, Joseph. And Luke (Luke 1:26-35) explains that Mary, a virgin, conceives even though she is a virgin. That is the yes part of the answer. Though the implications are, obviously, controversial, the text is straightforward."

(The second page focuses entirely on Isaiah and doesn't address Luke's gospel at all.)

But your disinterest in the subject goes so far that you apparently don't even read for comprehension the entirety of the short webpages you find in lieu of serious scholarship.

And yet you insist that you're not arguing in bad faith.

Bubba said...

Dan, I'm happy to tie this back to the larger topic.

Answering a question that no one actually asked, you write the following as point number two:

"I've been quite clear that it seems to me that if people can disagree about some rather obvious-to-me things/interpretations, then they can probably disagree on anything."

Yes, you've been clear that this is your position, but you've given no good arguments for why we MUST agree with you -- and despite the tentative phrasing here about what "probably" "seems to [you]" to be the case, you have insisted on agreement.

You denounce those who disagree with you on this claim, accusing us of neglecting the duty of humility and even of arrogantly presuming to speak for God.

True humility would require you to abstain from such accusations if you can't back them up.

And if your position *IS* beyond real dispute, then surely it would be trivial for you to go from a general claim -- that reasonable, good-faith disagreement can occur "on anything" -- to a specific and detailed example.

And you should be able to do so on an example you yourself brought up, such as the virgin birth, even if it is a subject that doesn't exactly hold your interest.

Craig said...

If you think there was a bet, you're clearly delusional. Or you fail to grasp elementary school level reading comprehension.

As for your answer, whether I like it or not is not the issue the fact that you made multiple comments to essentially say that you weren't going to answer the question and took over a week to do it raises questions.

Bubba said...

Dan, I replied with three comments yesterday, and it appears that comments must now be approved.

Even if you cannot also comment quickly yourself, I'd appreciate your approving others' comments as soon as humanly possible -- or, barring that, your returning to allowing comments without moderation.

Let me know if all three of my comments didn't appear in your queue, and I'll resubmit them.

Dan Trabue said...

Again, fellas, I'm not around my computer as frequently as in the past. You'll have to be patient on waiting for comments to post.

Craig...

"If you think there was a bet, you're clearly delusional..."

Craig...

Of course, I want to bet that you'll actually continue to respond after an extended period of silence. Because that would be a wise bet.

Perhaps you can see how, when you say, "OF COURSE I WANT TO BET..." that I took it to mean that you were, you know, wanting to bet.

And I did answer the question. That you don't like the answer is not a sign that I didn't answer it.

Perhaps the problem in our communication troubles is a reading comprehension one. When you say, "Of course I want to bet," that sounds like you want to bet and are now welshing on the bet (and yes, I know that we didn't state a specific amount to bet, I was mostly giving you grief over your less-than-wise suggestion) and when I give an answer and you all don't see it as an answer, well, it just sounds like reading comprehension problems.

More later...

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

If that's true -- and it certainly seems to be true -- then you have absolutely no business insisting that honest AND reasonable readers disagree on the subject, which is the position you were taking earlier in this discussion.

I have not spent a whole lot of time and energy into MANY topics that one might consider in the Bible. Those topics that are rather vague and ultimately meaningless. DID Methuselah actually exist? Who was Melchizedek? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

BUT, I have researched and studied the Bible a good bit on more prominent biblical teachings. MY POINT (and follow closely here, so you understand that I AM answering and so that you understand the answer) is...

Given the MANY topics in the Bible that seem abundantly clear, AND
Given the reality that people can disagree even about those abundantly clear topics
THEN
On what basis would I hazard a guess that on less meaningful, less vital topics that someone couldn't possibly disagree in good faith?

The point is, I have - and YOU have - no reason to generally presume bad faith, just because someone is disagreeing with a topic that you think, in your own human brain, is abundantly clear. Just because you don't agree with their reasoning. Just because you don't understand how they reached a conclusion.

Whatever human reasoning you bring to the table that leads you to think, "I do not see how they can reasonably disagree..." is your human reasoning, just as the other is using their human reasoning to reach that conclusion with which you disagree.

I need not have studied in-depth every single possible topic in the Bible to reach this conclusion.

If YOU want to draw up a hunch that maybe someone is being less than honest, the onus is on you to prove such a claim before you make such a charge. The making of a charge in the absence of compelling proof is what is arrogant.

Understand?

More later...

~Dan

Craig said...

Dan, perhaps I wasn't clear in stating that me making a bet based on you doing something that is entirely in your control seems like a foolish bet. Usually one doesn't engage on a bet on a proposition that is entirely one sided. Perhaps your lack of familiarity with both sarcasm and gambling might be playing a role.

However, if it will make you feel better, I'll make a contribution just to prevent you from continuing to pretend that I "welshed" on a "bet" for the next year or so. Even if you do souls like a grade schooler.

Bubba said...

Dan:

I understand there may be reasons to do otherwise, but I *DO* strongly prefer that my comments appear quickly, and if you cannot approve comments promptly (even when you have too little time to reply), I would prefer that comment moderation be turned off.

Anyway...

I absolutely **DO NOT** "generally presume bad faith."

As I wrote before (emphasis in the original):

"I DO NOT believe that mere disagreement is sufficient proof of intellectual dishonesty, EVEN when that disagreement is over a text, the meaning of which I believe is clear beyond any good-faith ***AND*** reasonable disagreement.

"I would think anyone who reaches that conclusion just on the basis of the mere disagreement is being presumptuous and perhaps even uncharitable."

I think it's quite appropriate to begin with the benefit of the doubt, but MY point is that, at some point, that benefit of the doubt can be exhausted.

If a person is being honest, his honesty should show through, and if a person's position is reasonable, he should be able to reason about it.

But if all he has is obfuscations and equivations, filibusters and double standards, I think it's entirely appropriate to question either his intellect or his character.

--

Just yesterday, you conceded, "People certainly CAN argue in bad faith."

Okay, when is it appropriate to conclude that they're doing just that? When is it not some gross offense against humility to attribute bad faith to a person's motivations?

Your apparent answer is, Never, and so the earlier concession is meaningless.

"If YOU want to draw up a hunch that maybe someone is being less than honest, the onus is on you to prove such a claim before you make such a charge. The making of a charge in the absence of compelling proof is what is arrogant."

This comment right here gets to the root of what is so infuriating about your behavior, Dan: the obvious and unapologetic hypocrisy.

I can't read your mind or know your heart, BUT NEITHER CAN YOU WITH MINE, but while you say I cannot credibly accuse you of a deficit in the virtue of honesty without compelling proof, you have no problem whatsoever accusing me of a deficit in the virtue of humilty.

So where is your "compelling proof" of our arrogance, mine or Marshall's or Stan's?

Or where is your consistency, confessing your own arrogance since, **BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS,** you're leveling a charge in the absence of compelling proof?

--

If these key questions are just too taxing for you, we can go right back to the virgin birth. Conceding that an exhaustive study of the entire text is not an essential precursor to the conclusion you've reached, I still contend that your conclusion should bear out on a careful study of ANY text.

If reasonable, good-faith disagreement is possible for ALL teachings, it should be possible for ANY particular teaching, and so I ask you again to show how it could actually be possible for the doctrine of the virgin birth.

On the way, you can demonstrate that you do approach the text in good faith:

- You can start with the recognition that the church has historically held this doctrine as important even if you personally regard it as (quoting) inane and meaningless.

- You can admit that the Bible does include details about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth while saying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about angels dancing on the head of a pin.

- You can grapple with my detailed claim that Mary's response in Luke 1:34 doesn't actually entail the Greek word parthenos or any other word translated "virgin," and that the verse unmistakably points to her sexual virginity.

And by doing the latter, you can demonstrate that you're actually willing and able to engage in a substantive discussion.

Bubba said...

I'll keep an eye on this thread as time permits -- and, not to harp on a digression, I'd love to know your rationale for enabling comment moderation.

But, for now, let me (once again) tie together my focus on Luke 1 with the larger topic at-hand, this time by returning to the sequence of questions I raised about the virgin birth.

Question 4 was, "If you DON'T think a reasonable, honest student of the Bible would necessarily conclude that the text teaches a virgin birth, just what is HIS argument that it isn't clear?"

I asked that because "your position seems to be that we should assume [such an argument] exists even in the absence of evidence." [emphasis in the original]

That's contrary to your position that we should only make claims when we have proof.

--

You write:

"Given the MANY topics in the Bible that seem abundantly clear, AND
"Given the reality that people can disagree even about those abundantly clear topics
"THEN
"On what basis would I hazard a guess that on less meaningful, less vital topics that someone couldn't possibly disagree in good faith?
"

My response is, first, there's no reason to guess in the other direction. Never mind the weird equivocation between clarity and importance, and never mind the problems in your list of supposedly clear teachings regarding poverty and pacifism, you're jumping to conclusions.

It's an outright fallacy to infer that your conclusions about part of a text applies to the whole. Even an appeal to statistical likelihood falls apart because you're *NOT* examining a representative sample.

Instead, you're drawing conclusions from contentious teachings and outright ignoring the fact that there are so many teachings that aren't contentious at all, on the ridiculous idea that doing otherwise is drawing conclusions from no data.

But, second, your conclusion doesn't meet your own standards of evidence.

You say we're not supposed to impugn a fellow reader of a text without evidence -- and I agree, I just think their arguments do constitute evidence -- but we also shouldn't impugn the text's **WRITER** without evidence, and it's a quite substantial charge to say that a writer's text is ambiguous in EVERY respect.

I'll remind you of that last question I asked regarding the virgin birth:

"5. If we cannot question the honesty or rationality of people with whom we disagree, why can you question our humility for disagreeing with you?"

And I would ask, if we cannot question another reader's ability to interpret, why can you impugn the writer's ability to communicate?

Without any adequate evidence, you not only accuse Stan and me of being arrogant readers, you implicitly accuse John and Paul of being incompetent writers.

The only person you think is immune from criticism, at least in the absence of airtight evidence, is you.

Dan Trabue said...

Question, Bubba: When you say...

I think it's quite appropriate to begin with the benefit of the doubt, but MY point is that, at some point, that benefit of the doubt can be exhausted.

Why not be more explicit and give a specific, real world example? Or do you have one?

To some of your questions:

when is it appropriate to conclude that they're doing just that? When is it not some gross offense against humility to attribute bad faith to a person's motivations?

I don't know. If they do something that is CLEARLY and unmistakably bad faith. I don't know what that looks like. Which is why I said that generally, I assume people mean what they say and are arguing in good faith. I'm sure someone COULD and HAS argued in bad faith, but I don't know that I've ever seen it. I certainly have never participated in it, myself.

Perhaps it would be helpful for you to define specifically what you mean by arguing in bad faith?

When I use that term, I'm talking about the fairly typical English definition:

1) n. intentional dishonest act by not fulfilling legal or contractual obligations, misleading another, entering into an agreement without the intention or means to fulfill it, or violating basic standards of honesty in dealing with others.

This definition is more of dealing with legal dealings, but I think this is a generally valid definition of bad faith. Given that, I have never had a reason to assume that someone is being intentionally dishonest with me in stating their opinions. Do you mean something other than this normal definition?

Dan Trabue said...

I'd love to know your rationale for enabling comment moderation.

I've answered this before, perhaps you've missed it. The fact is, if I don't moderate comments (after a given time), then I get slammed with spam comments. These would be comments that show up on Dec 12, 2005 and June 22, 2008 and not recent comments. They started showing up, 100s of them on these ancient posts, and rather than leave moderation off and continually deleting comments on old posts, I allow unmoderated comments for a time (30 days, I think) then it comes on.

I hope that meets your approval.

I'll remind you of that last question I asked regarding the virgin birth:

"5. If we cannot question the honesty or rationality of people with whom we disagree, why can you question our humility for disagreeing with you?"

And I would ask, if we cannot question another reader's ability to interpret, why can you impugn the writer's ability to communicate?


I don't. I note the observable reality that readers can and do interpret things differently, even texts that seem "obvious" to some. That isn't impugning the writers. It's noting reality.

Let me state it again:

I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS PRETTY CLEAR IN HIS TEACHINGS. NONETHELESS, people disagree with what I think Jesus is teaching in his written words. That isn't a criticism of Jesus, it's a noting of reality.

Do you understand the difference?

Without any adequate evidence, you not only accuse Stan and me of being arrogant readers, you implicitly accuse John and Paul of being incompetent writers.

Already cleared up. Do you understand the difference?

And I only accuse people of being arrogant readers when they insist that they and they alone (well, and those who agree with them) are the True Readers and those who disagree with their human interpretations are objectively wrong or immoral or God haters or liars.

As always, disagreeing with Bubba is not the same as disagreeing with God. Those who insinuate (or state outright) that they are unable to be mistaken in their opinions on some interpretations, well, that is objectively the definition of arrogance. If you're not doing that, then you're not fitting the definition of arrogant and thus, I'm not calling you that. I'm only speaking of those who act arrogantly in their insistence that they can not be mistaken in their human interpretations about unprovable ideas.

Dan Trabue said...

you have no problem whatsoever accusing me of a deficit in the virtue of humilty.

So where is your "compelling proof" of our arrogance, mine or Marshall's or Stan's?


By all means, cite the place where I've accused you of arrogance and we can talk. IF you are speaking of saying, "Here is a text and I am telling you that it means X. I can't prove that the author intended X beyond my opinion that he meant X, but it DOES MEAN X. I can't be mistaken on this point." ...isn't that arrogance, by definition?

I'd have to see the charge you're suggesting I've made. I'm guessing you've misunderstood my words OR that you engaged in demonstrably arrogant behavior.

If reasonable, good-faith disagreement is possible for ALL teachings, it should be possible for ANY particular teaching, and so I ask you again to show how it could actually be possible for the doctrine of the virgin birth.

The onus is not on me to prove a hypothetical case with no real world details with which to deal. MY reasoning is, "IF someone can disagree about something as 'clear' as Jesus' pacifism or simplicity, then they can probably disagree about other clear things..." I'm not going to take guesses at hypothetical and vague what ifs?. Why would I?

Why not deal with some actual real world example?

Dan Trabue said...

One last clarification I'm seeking from you (because, in spite of your many words, I do not know the answer to these questions):

When you ask about "is the virgin birth clear..." i.e....

a reasonable, honest student of the Bible would necessarily conclude that the text teaches a virgin birth

or..

that the verse unmistakably points to her sexual virginity.

Do you mean to ask:

1. Is it "clear" that the phrasing exists in the text that is reasonably translated virgin?

or

2. Is it "clear" that the author intended to mean that Mary was a virgin?

Or something else?

To 1., I think clearly the text is there and says what it says. So, if someone denies the text, that sounds delusional. If they dispute the translation, I guess it would depend on what their sources are for thinking the translation is off. Which gets us back to the hypothetical and vague and unreal nature of the question.

To 2. I think people can and do disagree about the author's intent on many topics and phrases in the Bible and we have no way to confirm the author's intent, and thus, we have no way of judging someone's beliefs or skepticism of what the author may or may not have intended. So, while a passage may be "abundantly clear" or very clear TO YOU (or me, or whoever) that is different than saying that good faith disagreement is impossible about the author's intent.

I'm not saying you're dishonest if you suggest so, just that the data does not exist to confirm that human belief beyond doubt. Which gets us back to the idea of, IF you claim to have special knowledge and perfectly know something (something you can't demonstrate or prove or support) and you can't be mistaken about this unprovable human idea, then it does seem to fit the definition of arrogant (i.e., "exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance") to say I MYSELF AM BEYOND BEING MISTAKEN on this point.

How am I mistaken, or do we agree?

Again and for the last time, I think a specific real world example would be more helpful than this hypothetical what if question.

Marshal Art said...

I have to say, Dan, that your responses to Bubba leave much to be desired. You've repeatedly accused us of arrogance and speaking for God when we insist upon our explanations of passages and verses. Your excuse is that you prefer to believe we've shown no support for our positions, when that is rarely, if ever, the case. Indeed, this goes to Bubba's just charge of the double standard you favor for backing up any stated position. We're held to a standard to which you do not yourself adhere. Indeed, it's not that we haven't brought forth stronger arguments for our positions, backed up by Scripture itself, it's that you simply reject those arguments and their attendant evidence on the weakest of bases.

An example from your response is "author's intent", as if there is legitimate reason to doubt such apart from you merely saying so. Yet by simply providing verses or passages that suggest another or opposite intent from what our interpretations posit, your charge wouldn't stand as little more than a "nyuh uh". The "basic standard of honesty" this violates is manifest in your clinging to that which has been soundly shown to be, if not outright false, woefully incomplete. In that, it then constitutes bad faith by violating the unspoken contract into which we all enter when choosing to engage in these discussions...the agreement to make our case. How can people come to any understanding with regard to differences in positions, or possibly hope to persuade or be persuaded toward what may indeed be the truth we all claim to seek without it?

Marshal Art said...

Hey! I'm pretty sure I posted a comment before yours. Yet somehow it does not appear. What gives?

Marshal Art said...

Still waiting.

Bubba said...

Dan,

I actually help administer a blog, using Blogger/Blogspot, and I definitely understand the problem with spam comments, but I don't believe I had read that explanation before.

I didn't realize one could set the number of days before a post's comments require admin approval, and that's good to know.

...but I would also say that this is another reason why it's irritating that this conversation has gone on without prompt, substantive replies on your part.

--

Let me briefly say where we do agree.

I would suspect a person is arrogant if he **ASSUMED** to understand the entire meaning of a text, DESPITE his not having studied the text carefully, and DESPITE the existence of credible alternative interpretations; it would especially indicate arrogance if he refused to argue his case and if his assumption was based on the belief that he's especially insightful rather than the belief that the text is especially clear.

But that's not what I'm defending.

- I'm defending the CONCLUSION that a text's meaning is unmistakable, not the ASSUMPTION.

- I believe that conclusion is defensible usually in regards to part of a text, not necessarily its entirety.

- I believe the conclusion is defensible when it results from careful study, in the absence of credible alternatives: not only is it true that people don't generally argue that the Bible doesn't teach theism, it is quite inconceivable that they could produce any such actual argument *FROM THE ACTUAL TEXT.*

- And I believe the person who draws that conclusion has the responsibility to make his case as circumstances permit, and his argument should be based on the contents of the text and not on any appeal to any exceptional abilities or authority on his part.

Is THAT arrogant? I don't think so, but you do seem to disagree:

"I think people can and do disagree about the author's intent on many topics and phrases in the Bible and we have no way to confirm the author's intent, and thus, we have no way of judging someone's beliefs or skepticism of what the author may or may not have intended."

And yet Jesus and His hand-picked Apostles routinely commended obedience to God's commands, as if His commands could sometimes be understood beyond any real doubt -- and they warned against false teachers, as if true revelation could be grasped with enough confidence that counterfeits could be spotted.

The leaps you make here are astounding:

You go from assuming good faith in a particular disagreement to ASSERTING good faith in ALL disagreements -- and you draw conclusions from an entirely unrepresentative sample of teachings (those where disagreements are prominent) to commit the fallacy of composition and assume that your observation applies to teachings where substantive disagreement has never been found.

--


"Which gets us back to the idea of, IF you claim to have special knowledge and perfectly know something (something you can't demonstrate or prove or support) and you can't be mistaken about this unprovable human idea, then it does seem to fit the definition of arrogant (i.e., "exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance") to say I MYSELF AM BEYOND BEING MISTAKEN on this point."

It's worth noting that you don't attempt to prove that this claim is the result of arrogance, which means, by your own standards, your accusation of arrogance is a form of arrogance.

So I ask again, if you think some particular verbal claim -- "I have special knowledge!" -- is sufficient to accuse a person of arrogance, why exactly is it wrong to think some other verbal claim -- "The Bible doesn't teach theism!" -- is sufficient to accuse a person of irrationality **OR** dishonesty?

Bubba said...

You're asking for "a specific real world example" -- of what, exactly?

A doctrine on which I believe the Bible is unmistakably clear? I've given several, including the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, and the virgin birth.

A biblical doctrine which I believe is clear, which others dispute? Again, I would point to the virgin birth.

I know somebody who once called the virgin birth an extrabiblical doctrine.

"In short, I don't think it's a biblical principle at all - and certainly not 'incontrovertible.' It's a moot point."

--

Obviously, you're not asking for "a specific real world example" of the behavior that YOU'RE denouncing, of people who "claim to have special knowledge" -- or can you quote someone who makes that very claim, whom you would have sufficient courage to denounce as arrogant?

Or maybe you want examples of acting in bad faith.

I mentioned a few behaviors that I'd consider red flags: obfuscations and equivations, filibusters and double standards.

Filibusters. Like refusing to address the substantive argument for why Luke 1:34 contains an unmistakable claim of sexual virginity, only to claim to be short on time while writing a thousand words or more in another post, created after the fact, about a four-month-old article and an eight-month-old scandal -- and then taking nearly two weeks to answer a simple yes-or-no question, with the first answer being "no opinion."

Equivocations. Like following up the "no opinion" answer to a yes-or-no question by rephrasing the question to ask something else entirely: even worse than previously replacing an explicitly objective sense of the word "clear" with a subjective sense (ie, "clear TO ME"), this entails replacing "clear" with AN ENTIRELY UNRELATED CONCEPT of "meaningful."

Obfuscations. Like refusing to affirm outright that the Bible teaches theism, only saying that the Bible "has people speaking of God as if God exists."

Double standards. Like insisting that a claim is only a fact if it's proveable, but refusing to prove that very assertion; or referring to a single proposition as "factual" when one asserts it but only an "opinion" if someone else holds it; or presuming to condemn others as arrogant while constantly hectoring them about "reality."

Or permitting oneself to accuse others of arrogance based on what they say, but insisting that others can't draw negative conclusions about a person's intellect or integrity BASED ON WHAT THEY SAY.

You shouldn't wonder where I see behavior that is such obvious evidence of operating in bad faith.

Dan Trabue said...

ou're asking for "a specific real world example" -- of what, exactly?

Of someone operating in demonstrable bad faith. Rather than have me GUESS at what HYPOTHETICAL people MIGHT be doing, I'm asking for something concrete.

I'm telling you that I do not feel able to adequately guess at vague hypotheticals, I don't think we have sufficient data to reach conclusions you're apparently insisting that we should be able to make. So, deal with some specific example.

"Dan could not POSSIBLY be arguing in good faith when he literally did this..."

Like that.

Like refusing to affirm outright that the Bible teaches theism, only saying that the Bible "has people speaking of God as if God exists."

Except, I didn't do that. I was quite clear that...

1. I don't think the notion that "the Bible teaches" is specific enough in these conversations because of presumptions it makes and vagueness in the meaning.

2. The biblical authors DO clearly speak of a God and thus, in the sense that they believe in a God, they "teach theism..." Thus, I DO affirm that.

3. What I have opted not to do is GUESS what HYPOTHETICAL people MIGHT be motivated by. That is a ridiculous question and literally unanswerable in a meaningful manner.

Like insisting that a claim is only a fact if it's proveable, but refusing to prove that very assertion;

I don't know that I've insisted this. Clearly something CAN be a fact, even if I can't prove it. BUT, I have no data on which to base such a claim unless I have data to support it. And other people have no data to agree with me unless I have data with which to support it.

It MAY indeed be a fact that intelligent life exists out there in space somewhere. BUT, I can not claim it as a known fact unless I can support it. How could I?

I can do that for each of your five "proofs" above, but I'm out of time But given that I've disproved even just two of your suggestions as to why you appear to think I'm arguing in bad faith, isn't it more likely that the problem is one of misunderstanding on one or the other's part, rather than bad faith?

That is what I'm objecting to. You are leaping to bad faith when it's not the most likely or actual reason.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, I don't know why, but some comments show up in my email so I know that someone is waiting for approval. Others don't. Yours don't (as is true for many spammers). So, I don't know when you have posted a comment in an older post without regular checking my comments area of my blog management page.

FYI.

Dan Trabue said...

marshall...

You've repeatedly accused us of arrogance and speaking for God when we insist upon our explanations of passages and verses. Your excuse is that you prefer to believe we've shown no support for our positions, when that is rarely, if ever, the case.

IF you insist that your opinion on an unproven and unprovable matter can NOT be mistaken, that is the definition of arrogance. IF you claim to have this unmistakable opinion (IF!) then I'm just noting that it fits the definition of arrogant. What is wrong with that?

I have never suggested (unlike you all have about me) that you have shown "no support" for your positions. I've said that I do not find your reasons compelling and, thus, don't accept them. What is wrong with that?

You don't find my reasons for holding some of my positions compelling and thus, you don't agree with them. That is as it should be.

Craig said...

Just skimmed, but the obfuscation force is strong with this one.

I also didn't actually see any place where any of Bubba's points was objectively "disproved", I guess pointing out the double standard inherent in that claim would be pointless.


Dan Trabue said...

That you don't understand it, doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

~Dan

Marshal Art said...

"Marshall, I don't know why, but some comments show up in my email so I know that someone is waiting for approval. Others don't."

I have a similar problem with Glenn's comments at my blog. But then, I don't employ comment moderation, so his comments appear when he posts them. I find this far less problematic, even though I might be open to the occasional spammer or troll, neither of whom I fear. This reflects the notion of true liberty, especially with regard to speech. That some might abuse this liberty doesn't justify, in my mind, blocking comments in order to vet them, or the effort required to do so.

"So, I don't know when you have posted a comment in an older post without regular checking my comments area of my blog management page."

You might want to do that.

"IF you insist that your opinion on an unproven and unprovable matter can NOT be mistaken..."

This isn't something I do. I only deal in that which can be known and supported with Scripture...in short, that which is provable.

"I've said that I do not find your reasons compelling and, thus, don't accept them. What is wrong with that?"

There's be nothing wrong with it if you followed your rejection with alternative possibilities that are themselves compelling. I don't know about you, but for me, "compelling" would include evidence and Scriptural citations that are just as explicit as those provided for those positions you don't find compelling. Lacking that, your rejections amount to no more than dismissing that which is inconvenient for what you prefer to consider more gratifying.

"You don't find my reasons for holding some of my positions compelling and thus, you don't agree with them."

"Compelling" never comes to mind as descriptive of your reasons. I find them irrational, unreasonable, illogical and factually baseless. They come with holes deep and wide which you routinely fail to fill when those holes are pointed out. It's a wonder you could actually and honestly hold to your positions in light of this.

Craig said...

Oh, but I do understand. I know that makes it more difficult for you, but I'm confident that not understanding you is not the problem.

Dan Trabue said...

even though I might be open to the occasional spammer or troll, neither of whom I fear.

1. It isn't a few. It's hundreds.

2. I don't fear them. I just don't want hundreds of ads for sex toys on my old blog posts. Nor do I want to delete them.

Clearly, I don't fear trolls. Junk ads are a different matter.

~Dan

Craig said...

Any idea what causes that? I get virtually zero spam or anything unwanted on my blog.

Dan Trabue said...

No idea. It didn't happen to me for the first ~ten years, give or take. Then it did start happening. Mostly drug ads. Also, gibberish ads, asking people to visit their website. And various other odds and ends. I hadn't kept count, but it felt like it was in the hundreds before I started turning on the moderation.

Again, I don't mind people disagreeing with my opinions. Those comments don't get deleted. It's legitimate and incredibly stupid spam that gets deleted/not allowed.

"Interesting $ite! Much words with common sense is a place that I would like for my wisdom to roll. I will @certainly comme back to learn more. Perhaps$ you'll wish for to visit my for space spot..."

Gibberish and ads. I don't have that kind of time.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

I'm not sure it's worthwhile to go into even more elaborate detail of why I believe you argue in bad faith.

For one thing, my last comment included four very specific examples from this thread alone, but for another thing, I believe it takes more context to indicate outright dishonesty than it does a mere lapse in logic.

In other words, one can quickly see when a *statement* is "crap," but it takes a little more time to see that the *person* who made the statement is "full of crap."

---

For instance, on May 19, you quibbled about may saying that the Bible teaches, and you even claimed that my use of the phrase meant that I didn't understand every aspect of your position...

"I would say that, as a point of fact, the Bible does not 'teach' anything. It is text. We can find facts or truths or points to think about in the text, but the Bible isn't 'teaching' us. It CONTAINS teachings of people, but the Bible is not teaching."

...and on May 21, you then defended this ridiculous hairsplitting...

"Look, I agree that this is easy short hand for general use. But in instances where this is a disagreement about meaning/intent/understanding of various texts, I think it helps to be more precise."

...but in between, on May 20, you had no problem making a claim that isn't strictly and literally accurate.

"1. In the real world, people disagree about an endless variety of ideas possibly found in the Bible's pages;"

The ideas and disagrees aren't literally endless: so much for your stated concern about precision.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

With you conceding that people "certainly CAN argue in bad faith," I asked, "when is it appropriate to conclude that they're doing just that? When is it not some gross offense against humility to attribute bad faith to a person's motivations?"

Your answer?

"I don't know. If they do something that is CLEARLY and unmistakably bad faith. I don't know what that looks like."

Since you don't know what it looks like, we have no reason to expect you to be a good judge of a particular example. And since you've never given a standard of evidence that you would accept, there's nothing to keep you from rejecting ALL evidence as insufficient.

Furthermore, you can always claim that we misunderstand whatever statement of yours we cite, but you haven't reckoned with the point I've made repeatedly -- most recently on May 26 -- that such a claim proves nothing: you can only make assertions about your internal state (and cannot show that state to others) and you're not an independent and disinterested observer of your own thoughts.

As I wrote before, an unreasonable person wouldn't know he's being unreasonable at the time, and a dishonest person almost certainly wouldn't SAY he's being dishonest.

And yet you will not retract your position that certain statements (ones we haven't actually made) clearly indicate arrogance.

Even in arguing about bad faith, you're obviously not arguing IN good faith.

--

How many years have we been arguing online, Dan? If you really were honest, it would have become obvious by now -- or, if somebody in particular didn't perceive your honest, earnest nature, you probably would have (and definitely SHOULD have) shrugged it off and moved on.

On the subject of arrogance, I believe my words speak for themselves.

And on the subject of dishonesty, I believe the same can be said about what you write.

Dan Trabue said...

If you really were honest, it would have become obvious by now -- or, if somebody in particular didn't perceive your honest, earnest nature, you probably would have (and definitely SHOULD have) shrugged it off and moved on.

The thing is, Bubba, you have no data to say that I'm not being honest. You have unproven hunches and half-assed guesses. The fact is, I am being honest. I have never one time thought, "If I make up a lie here, it will help me make my case..." and then knowingly wrote a false claim. Not one time.

I don't say this by way of bragging, I just think that this is normative. WHY would I (anyone) lie about what I believe? WHY would I make up stuff about my opinions? What do I have to gain by it? I'm not saying I've never lied in my life, but I simply have not ever lied in the blogosphere. I've never knowingly made a false claim. I don't expect that you or any of the other friends who visited here have done so either. You've made false claims but I generally just assume you're making an honest mistake (in spite of many corrections where you should know better).

Now, I don't care that you or someone else does not believe that fact, but it is a fact. I'm not hurt by your mistaken guesses about my honesty. I just find it odd and, as noted, a bit presumptuous to make a claim that you can't support about a person you don't know about my motivations that you can't see. Why would anyone do that? (One might guess "they're arguing in bad faith," but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion).

So, I don't care for my sake that you are wrongly guessing that I'm not being honest (seriously? About what?). I'm just amazed/bewildered by it and more importantly, I'm concerned about the nature of public discourse. This seems to be part of the Trumpization of the conservative, evangelical world (not that it began with Trump). People jumping to assumptions and asserting as fact things they can't prove and that are, in a reasonable examination of the facts, simply wrong, or most likely to be wrong.

That's my immediate response. More later.

Bubba said...

Dan, can someone draw negative conclusions about another person, based only on what that other person says or writes?

Your answer is, evidently, yes, BUT ONLY WHEN YOU DO IT.

You believe that you can reasonably conclude that others are arrogant based only on their statements:

"Which gets us back to the idea of, IF you claim to have special knowledge and perfectly know something (something you can't demonstrate or prove or support) and you can't be mistaken about this unprovable human idea, then it does seem to fit the definition of arrogant (i.e., "exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one's own worth or importance") to say I MYSELF AM BEYOND BEING MISTAKEN on this point."

But no one else can reasonably conclude that you are dishonest based only YOUR statements:

"I just find it odd and, as noted, a bit presumptuous to make a claim that you can't support about a person you don't know about my motivations that you can't see."

Your position is that, no matter what you write -- and no matter how much your writing contains obvious obfuscations and equivocations and double standards and filibusters -- your claims never constitute any data about your character.

But the entire point of your blog post was to castigate the character of other people SOLELY from what they write.

If you want people to believe the absurd claim that you really are arguing in good faith, you should address this obvious hypocrisy.

You should explain how it's not an inconsistent double standard -- GOOD LUCK WITH THAT -- or you should acknowledge that it's that very thing and apologize profusely for not living up to the standards you seek so often to impose upon your critics and opponents.

I'm not going to hold my breath for either outcome.

Dan Trabue said...

can someone draw negative conclusions about another person, based only on what that other person says or writes?

I have done nothing to suggest that ANYTHING I've said is dishonest.

But to be correct, I think that clearly we can draw conclusions about another person's words based on what they've said. I've NOT said and been quite clear in saying that we can't generally draw conclusions that we can call factual about their motivations.

That is, I may repeat, "No, I did not say that I believe that. You have drawn a false conclusion. That is a false statement, as a point of fact..." words to that effect. However, I almost always will allow "I'm not calling you a liar, because I don't know your motivations, suffice to say, however, that what you've just said about me is a false claim."

See the difference? I'm loathe to guess at people's motivations and generally - even with people who come across (not just to me but to many people I've heard from who have told me so) as belligerent and mean-spirited (as many of my regular commenters here present themselves) - give them the benefit of the doubt, that they (you) are simply misunderstanding and doing so in good faith.

In spite of countless (hyperbole, before you start that bullshit) attempts to correct your collective misunderstandings, you all still get what I say wrong. Even after corrections. I'm assuming it's in good faith and a simple matter of ignorance or misunderstanding. Why would I assume that you are arguing in bad faith, in spite of your belligerence? Who does that?

the entire point of your blog post was to castigate the character of other people SOLELY from what they write.

Read slowly. Understand.

IF someone claims that they know something perfectly - something which can not be proven and which they certainly have not proven - that is the very definition of arrogance. If I note, "That claim fits the dictionary definition of arrogance," I'm not judging their character. I'm stating that the comment they made IS ARROGANT BY DEFINITION.

IF Mr Y claims - with NO proven or provable data - that when Mr X said, "I came to believe that God is okay with gay folk marrying from reading the Bible, and this, in spite of being raised to believe the opposite..." that he was lying, that he did NOT come to that conclusion in that way, that is an arrogant statement, by definition.

WHO are you, Mr Y, to say that you know how Mr X came to his conclusions? Why is that NOT an arrogant claim?

Do you see the difference?

Look, Bubba, by all means, PRESENT ONE CLAIM THAT I HAVE MADE that you "know" is a damnable lie... a claim I made KNOWING it was wrong and made it anyway. Just one. Support it with data. Hard data. Not some mealy-mouthed, circular self-justifying argument like, "I don't think it is possible to reach that conclusion because, well, I just don't..." but actual hard data that it's a lie.

If you prove it with data, then I will be forced to admit it.

You. Can't. Do. It.

If you could, you would. But you can't. It's an empty claim and that should give you pause to make such claims.

Now, if you can't do it (and you fucking literally can not, because you are fucking making a fucking false claim that you don't know shit about), then step up, man up, grow a pair and apologize.

Sorry for the vulgarities, but this is pretty tiring, these constant empty and baseless charges.

Look, I fully understand you misunderstanding, you NOT understanding something. It happens. But when you decide your feelings and hunches are equivalent to facts and you start laying them out as if they were facts, you are crossing a line. You are embarrassing yourself and those you identify with.

Stop it. I don't care what you say about me, but for your own sake and for the sake of reasonable, Christian conversation, just stop it.

Bubba said...

Dan:

Your objecting to someone's claim to know a truth claim without proving that claim brings us right back to your ridiculous position that one cannot know a claim unless one can also prove that claim -- a position you still have never attempted to prove.

"IF someone claims that they know something perfectly - something which can not be proven and which they certainly have not proven - that is the very definition of arrogance. If I note, 'That claim fits the dictionary definition of arrogance,' I'm not judging their character. I'm stating that the comment they made IS ARROGANT BY DEFINITION."

No dictionary defines "arrogance" as claiming to know a fact without proving that fact, nor does any dictionary define it as claiming perfect knowledge about a fact.

It simply is not true that this "is the very definition of arrogance," and your saying otherwise is -- AT THE VERY BEST -- the kind of imprecise language you hectored me about when I mentioned that a text "teaches" certain doctrines.

What you MUST be doing is taking the actual dictionary definition of the term and drawing inferences, but to be confident about what you infer, you MUST think that you cannot possibly be mistaken about the meaning of a text, namely, an entry in a dictionary.

It's actually hilarious.

- You call people arrogant for what they say and write, that a text's meaning can sometimes be clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

- You object to my calling you dishonest for what you write.

- You say the difference is that you are merely recognizing what "fits the dictionary definition of arrogance," which means that you believe that definition -- the meaning of that particular text -- is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

To try to avoid one double standard, you step right into another double standard, hypocrisy being your only apparent consistency.

Dan Trabue said...

Your objecting to someone's claim to know a truth claim without proving that claim brings us right back to your ridiculous position that one cannot know a claim unless one can also prove that claim

It has to do with the nature of knowledge. That which we KNOW.

If we can't prove it to someone else, in what sense is it known?

Know: to perceive directly : have direct cognition of :

If you do not perceive it directly, if you do not have DIRECT cognition of, in what sense is it known?

Look, any idiot can make a claim that English speaking aliens exist in outer space and they can say that they "know" it as a fact, but they don't, not if they can't demonstrate it. How could they?

Any idiot can claim that they "know" God wants them to have slaves or force a virgin to marry them or outlaw abortions, but they don't know it, not unless they can provide support for the claim, and they can't. They just can't.

By all means, tell us in what sense you "know" something about my motivations that you can't support with hard data?

Or, getting back to the earlier question, PROVIDE ONE INSTANCE of a lie that you "know" that I have uttered and defend it with data.

Failing that, Bubba, you've worn out all my patience.

Why not just be the bigger man, admit you've misspoken, apologize and move on.

My blog, my rules: I will gladly accept further comments from you ONLY after you have provided a lie that I have uttered, a claim that I have made knowing that it is false... and then provide the hard data to support your "knowledge."

That, or admit you can't.

No more from you 'til you support the claim you've made.

Dan

Marshal Art said...

Does the lie about Trump grabbing the crotches of women count? You've perpetuated this lie several times, even after I've corrected it with actual links to the video in which he suggested that some women would allow such behavior by a celebrity of his level. I don't think I've ever read where you said you were mistaken, but only that you've repeated that he actually did it, or that he said that he did it. Since I provided a link to that actual video, it stands as proof that you were, at best, mistaken when you first uttered the lie that he grabs women by the crotch. But after having provided the link, you have no excuse for continually saying he grabs women by the crotch. Thus, you lied every time you said he grabs women by the crotch after having had the link to the actual video provided for you. UNLESS, when you get the "hard data" you demand, you ignore it and never peruse it. Thus, suggesting that "hard data" makes any difference to you is itself a lie.

I can provide much more, but let's start with that one.

Craig said...

I get the "My blog, my rules." thing. But to demand that others provide an undefined, likely unreasonable, level of support for claims, while demonstrating an unwillingness or inability to do so only provides additional data to support Bubba.

Marshal Art said...

...and speaking of Trump, it seems that as you rant on over at Craig's blog about what a liar Trump is, I don't recall that you allowed for the possibility that he believes what he says, or that he doesn't knowingly lie. You content yourself with simply calling him a liar. Here, you insist facts, hard data and all manner of evidence be given to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you lie or have lied.

Just thought I'd mention that double standard.

Craig said...

I guess your entreaty to "be the bigger man" means that you have no desire to do so yourself and are content to be the lesser "man".

Dan Trabue said...

to demand that others provide an undefined, likely unreasonable, level of support for claims, while demonstrating an unwillingness or inability to do so only provides additional data to support Bubba.

I believe have provided data for all fact claims I've made, at least with the possible exception of matters that are self-evident. Another false claim from you all?

You've perpetuated this lie several times, even after I've corrected it with actual links to the video in which he suggested that some women would allow such behavior by a celebrity of his level

You are taking the word of a man who laughs about grabbing women by the fucking pussy, as warranted by his enormous ego/self-importance. A man who has had women corroborate what he joked about.

I know that the man makes false claims at the drop of the hat, but why would you doubt that he does grab women by the pussy when he jokes about doing so, but accept his claim that "they let me" because of his celebrity? It defies reason and just comes across as if you are a defender of sexual assault.

Fellas, if you have nothing of worth to say and you just want to snipe about nothing, feel free to move on and we'll see if Bubba opts to corroborate his false charge that I've lied. HE made the charge, the onus is on him to support it or admit he can't.

Marshal Art said...

It defies reason??? To insist that he never claimed to grab women??? Because he never did? What defies reason is your lack of Christian grace about which you claim to care. One would expect a person who whines that someone like me should embrace it would demonstrate what that actually looks like when the chips are down.

And by the way, he can laugh about grabbing women all he wants, but that isn't the same as admitting that he actually did it. And what women have corroborated that he grabbed them in that way? List a couple of them. Why should we automatically assume these alleged ladies aren't lying themselves?

What's more, liar, he didn't say they let him grab them by the crotch. He said they "would" let a person like him do it. I knew a married women that would have let me have sex with her. I didn't, but she would have let me (based on her advances---not just wishful thinking on my part).

So you're a liar because you WANT Trump to be a perverted as possible to justify your hatred of him. Indeed, just because he said they'd let him, that doesn't mean the reality is that they WOULD let him. But hey...there's no way THAT could be a false statement, could it?

Craig said...

Just because you believe you've provided data, doesn't mean you've provided data or proof. Simply announcing that you believe something to be "self evident" doesn't make it an indispensable fact.

You demand of others something you are unable or unwilling to demand of yourself.

As far as lies. You've repeatedly claimed that someone has claimed that they "can't be mistake" or words to that effect, yet I've asked you repeatedly for quotes and citations of anyone using the words you claim they use and so far you haven't.

I'd suggest that continuing to make a claim you won't prove is a lie.

Craig said...

Oh, look, more proof that Dan lies in bllogs.

"Keep defending a fucking lying pervert...", "you ARE defending him. You are normalizing a bad, bad, disgusting pig of a man."

The only way these are even remotely true is if changing definitions of "defend", and "normalize",

"Trump has lied hundreds of times over the course of this last ~18 months. He has lied/made false claims daily, or at least multiple times each and every week. He has hundreds of lies that are easily documented."

In the absence of actual proof, this statement is at best a "false claim", at worst a "lie".

As they say in the legal world, "truth is a defense", just prove that you're telling the truth.

Dan Trabue said...

Those who sit idly by and ignore a dangerous man ARE, in effect, defending him. They're letting the lies, threats and abuses continue unabated. This is a very traditional understanding of opposing danger and those who sit idly by and do nothing. You are literally normalizing (i.e., treating this president as if he's just another president, LITERALLY normalizing).

No need to change traditionally understood definitions.

Marshall, he literally said, "GRAB 'EM BY THE PUSSY. WHATEVER YOU WANT"

or, in context...

Trump: I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

If you can't read and understand, that's on you.

HOW does he know they "let him" "grab 'em by the pussy?" Because he's done it. HE JUST DOESN'T FUCKING WAIT, Just kiss. Whatever, they "let you do it."

You both are defending a monster. Shame on you.

We're approaching 200 comments and you all are just getting worse. When you want to apologize for this acceptance and defense of a perverted monster, come back and comment. Otherwise, you've said enough in this thread. You both are a perverse witness to conservative men and what they actually value. You are acting in such a way as to be an embarrassment to yourselves and, one day, I'm sure you'll recognize it.

Let me know when that day comes.

Bubba said...

Dan:

After literal years arguing with you, I have concluded that you don't argue in good faith. You reply, "I've never knowingly made a false claim."

Did I say that you did? No, I don't believe you deny your beliefs so that others would accept you, I believe it's clear that you *DISGUISE* your beliefs so that others would accept them, and this effort requires you to make deceptive, misleading arguments while never actually crossing the line into outright falsehood.

But I believe the bar for arguing in good faith is much higher than the outright lie. It's not enough to avoid deliberate falsehoods, one must make an effort to be transparently honest, tackling the toughest objections, communicating in order to be clear rather than obscure, and striving to exhibit the behavior you expect from others.

You evidently disagree, but you should say so outright.

Tell us that -- no matter how much you put off answering the simplest questions, no matter how much you obfuscate when you do get around to attempting an answer, no matter how much you equivocate between different definitions of the same word, and no matter how much you insist that others adhere to standards you yourself never attempt to meet -- you believe you argue in good faith so long as you do not knowingly make a false claim.

Then tell us that you're due some kind of apology.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, what you said, among other things...

If you really were honest, it would have become obvious by now

By all means, clarify what you mean. I took "If you were being honest," as to mean that I am NOT honest. That I have told lies (i.e., not honest).

So, you are saying I'm dishonest (in that I "disguise" my beliefs, I guess?) and I make "deceptive, misleading arguments," but do not tell lies? Well, thanks for that!

Okay, I'll play your game one last time. Demonstrate ONE "deceptive, misleading argument" that I have made and prove that I have made the argument in an effort to be dishonest and misleading.

Demonstrate that, or be a man and apologize.

Quit quibbling and support your charges or admit that you can't. This is just tiring and, for you and your side, an embarrassment.

Dan Trabue said...

Or, if you'd like, I can tell you the facts: I have never made an argument that I knew to be deceptive and/or misleading. But, what do I know? I'm only the guy who's made the arguments.

Dan Trabue said...

you believe you argue in good faith so long as you do not knowingly make a false claim.

I argue in good faith because I always give the best, most clear, most honest, most direct answer I can at a given time. I will gladly admit that I do not live to answer questions at this blog, and that sometimes, I give the best answer I can given being tired, or exhausted of particular conversation, or lacking in time.

I'm sure, given an unlimited amount of time and energy, I could no doubt give better answers, but I have never once argued in bad faith, been dishonest, disingenuous, been intentionally confusing or obfuscated. In short, you are factually mistaken.