Thursday, February 10, 2011

David Marshall on why Christianity passes the OTF, and Secular Humanism may fail

Something tells me, deep down in the pit of my stomach, the Loftus isn't going to buy this.

196 comments:

Tom Gilson said...

Your stomach has a prescient pit, I think...

Anthony Fleming said...

Wow...That was simply awesome to read. Thanks for posting this.

JS Allen said...

Very good link. I can think of a few nattering objections, but this really cuts through the hand-waving and shows what the *real* issues are.

Thrasymachus said...

I don't think this works. But is mainly because the OTF-stuff is the proverbial crooked timber from which nothing straight can be made. As such, it is a very bad test.

(I have myself offered criticisms of the OTF here, and - better - here. Loftus has given cursory replies, which aren't very good.

Jason Pratt said...

Meanwhile, I think it's kind of awesome that J'oftus has now graduated to being worthy of a direct article. Like "The Batman". "The Loftus".

Vic: {{Something tells me, deep down in the pit of my stomach, the Loftus isn't going to buy this.}}

DO NOT MOCK THE LOFTUS! IF YOU MOCK THE LOFTUS THREE TIMES THE LOFTUS SHALL APPEAR!!

{g} {/silliness}

JRP


(Yes, I know it was a typo. Just joking with Victor. I can't stop grinning when I read it; it tickles me immensely.)

Jason Pratt said...

More seriously, that was a fine judo-throw from David-sensei.

JRP

David B Marshall said...

Thrasymachus: Maybe so; I'm still considering the import of the argument myself. But I added a comment by Aristotle to Part I (he refuses to post directly, something about copyright, I think), the implications of which may lend the argument some probative crunch.

David B Marshall said...

Jason: Nice to see you in good humor this morning.

Nick said...

No. It cannot defeat the OTF. Why?

IT'S OBVIOUS! THE OTF IS MADE BY LOFTUS AND HE HAS TO BE RIGHT!

Why?

Well....

He just has to be!

The OTF must work! Don't confuse him with arguments!

John W. Loftus said...

David Marshall confuses the success of a particular religion with passing the OTF. hence this is no critique of that test at all. He raises some issues that need to be addressed but that's all.

Patrick said...

David Marshall argues very well in favour of the view that religious diversity around the globe needn’t be an argument against the truth of Christianity. But the atheist could respond that also in societies in which people are free to choose their religion or their worldview and where they have access to pieces of information about them there is nevertheless a diversity of religious and philosophical views. Indeed it seems to be just in such societies that atheism or secularism is gaining ground.

Patrick said...

There is another line of argument pointing to the view that religious diversity, no matter how it comes about, needn’t be an argument against Christianity at all. It is based on the statement that the OTF presents a false dichotomy, and once this false dichotomy is exposed, the OTF may even turn into an argument against atheism.

The false dichotomy underlying the OTF is the view that if Christianity or any other religion is shown to be probably or even definitely false, it follows that atheism is most probably true. But this needn’t be the case. As a matter of fact it can be reasonable to assume that all religions are false, but nevertheless atheism isn’t true, either.

The alternative to atheism, or better naturalism, is not any religion or the totality of all religions, but what I call “mere supernaturalism”. This term refers to the view that nature is not all there is, that there is some kind of spiritual, supernatural reality.

Evidence for “mere supernaturalism” may be phenomena such as near-death experiences out-of-body experiences or paranormal phenomena. If these phenomena can be shown to be definitely or at least probably genuine, this would strongly suggest that “mere supernaturalism” is true and naturalism false.

Patrick said...

If “mere supernaturalism” is true, of course, we still don’t know which religion is true or if any religion is true at all. How should we proceed? Should we investigate every single religion?

I don’t think that this is necessary. It’s enough if we investigate the basic concepts underlying the respective religions, and there are not so many. As far as I see you can assign all religions to one of the following basic concepts: pantheism, polytheism, dualism, Unitarian monotheism, and Trinitarian monotheism. An example of such an examination can be found in C. S. Lewis’s book “Mere Christianity”, in which he examines the concept of dualism. After having examining all these concepts one may arrive at the conclusion that Trinitarian monotheism, which is Christianity, is the most reasonable position.

Tom Gilson said...

Was that an argument, John?

John W. Loftus said...

Tom I offered my observations, which I posted here.

Marshall needs to show that he understands the OTF and why his post deals with it head on. My observation is that he did not do this.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus said...

And here's my quote of the day concerning the OTF.

I should really make a skeptical day-by-day calendar of these. ;-)

John W. Loftus said...

Since Tom awakened this sleeping giant...

On the one hand, believers who object to the OTF look like a person who argues in a court room that he does not want a fair impartial judgment, but rather a biased one from a biased judge who operates on double standards.

On the other hand, believers who accept the rationale for the OTF have a great amount of difficulty in arguing that the raw uninterpreted historical data without any culturally adopted Bayesian "priors" leads the historian to the conclusion that Jesus bodily arose from the dead.

That one was for free. No need to thank me. That's what I do.-)

John W. Loftus said...

You see in our world miracles like a virgin birth, resurrection and an ascension into the sky do not happen. What world are YOU living in? So if miracles do not happen in our day then they never happened in first century Palestine either. And that's the end of it.

Want more? ;-)

Patrick said...

Records about near-death experiences can have the effect to turn a skeptic concerning such experiences into an adherent of “mere supernaturalism”. This can be seen from the following excerpt from a text written by Edward T. Babinski (http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/leaving_the_fold/babinski_agnosticism.html):

“Recently, my agnosticism was shaken by the testimony of one man in particular, Howard Storm, a former hardened agnostic and chairman of a university art department, whose description of his long, involved, near-death experience roused me from my doubts and fear that there may be no afterlife, to positively hoping there may be one.

[…]

Moreover, I've discovered that my personal happiness has increased with my renewed interest in an afterlife. After studying only a few books on near-death experiences, and reading several skeptical pieces on them, I am still no expert on the phenomenon. However, I am no longer the skeptic I once was. There does appear to be some evidence for life after death. It wouldn't be much fun being a "skeptical inquirer" if there were absolutely no claims to "inquire" about, would it?”

Jason Pratt said...

{{So if miracles do not happen in our day then they never happened in first century Palestine either. And that's the end of it.}}

Category errors like that are why people who pay attention to logic (whether believer or not) make fun of you, John.

Remember folks, if televisions and electric light switches didn't happen in first centry Palestine, they couldn't happen in our day either. And that's the end of it. (You can thank Bultmann for that one. Or J'oftus. {wry g})

JRP

David B Marshall said...

John seems to be laboring under the misconception that I am arguing AGAINST the OTF. That was an earlier post. In this post I've stopped learned to love the bomb, and am riding it all the way into downtown Moscow, waving John's cowboy hat and shouting "YAHOO!" (Or "Google!")

John may be famous some day, like Celsus, for formulating what proves to be a helpful challenge. Christians will recognize what will be known, perhaps, as the Argument from Transcultural Plausibility (ATP).

The argument still needs a little work, I admit; what this post represents is some preliminary brain-storming, in between chapters of my dissertation and our new book. But do keep writing, John! I doubt we could invent you. : -)

Jason Pratt said...

John: {{On the other hand, believers who accept the rationale for the OTF have a great amount of difficulty in arguing that the raw uninterpreted historical data without any culturally adopted Bayesian "priors" leads the historian to the conclusion that Jesus bodily arose from the dead.}}

This assumes that any such priors:

1.) must only be cultural products;

2.) could only be useful for induction (thus Bayesian).

But people who are self-critical about their beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or anti-religious, easily pass the outsider test (insofar as anyone can stand outside their own belief sets at all--and the fact we can even try has some strong deductive implications about a reality that includes such beings who can even try to do that), without necessarily having to give up their beliefs (religious or otherwise).

We don't object to the insistence on giving fair assessment to beliefs while suppressing special pleading or partiality for those beliefs. We object to the insistence that this somehow in principle immediately leads and can only lead to an inherently anti-religious belief; and we object to that on the ground that false logic is being appealed to (as well as special partiality pleading, ironically) in order to ostensibly get there.


Meanwhile, by default no un-interpreted data can lead to any conclusion at all (even positive agnosticism. Rocks don't interpret data, and are quite negatively agnostic about what the data means.)

However, a historian who brackets his theological or anti-theological (or agressively agnostic) beliefs, and sticks to beliefs more generally necessary to do historical analysis per se, can still arrive at a strongly inductive (if not deductive) historical conclusion, as a historian, that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

The only difficulty is the mundane professional difficulty of having to carefully work through many various categories of data: the difficulty common to doing most any real professional work. Unless there is a difficulty imposed by philosophical constraint beforehand, eliminating options in one or more ways (such as the option that a supernatural event happened.)

Michael Licona's recent book is only one of a substantial number of examples of scholars who work hard to carefully bracket their beliefs in order to reach historical conclusions on the Resurrection without importing specially controversial contraints pro or con.

You may not agree with enough of his actual arguments to arrive at the same conclusions, but to ignore people who do this as though they don't exist is (at best) ignorant; and to dismiss them as being irrelevant because they have to actually work for their results is (at best) lazy.

JRP

John W. Loftus said...

Jason, so YOU make fun of me! Wow, I suppose Scientologists and Mormons make fun of your beliefs too. I have proposed a way to settle these disputes. What's your alternative? Brainwashed people do not know they are brainwashed, Jason. You do realize that, don't you? Come on, admit it. So brainwashed people will laugh at people who's views are correct.

Looke here. You are a case in point. Let's see the logic of a brainwashed person and test it to see if you are in fact brainwashed. If I'm right in what I say below will you admit it in this case?

You are laughing at me because you think that even though miracles do not happen today that they may have happened in the past.

Why the laughter?

I admit you might be right. Miracles might have happened in the past. But my claim is that even if they did there is no reason to think they did from a historian's perspective, which is the only one we have to know what happened in the past. In that epistemological sense if the historian does not see miracles in today's world then he cannot interpret the raw uninterpreted data of the past any other way but from his present perspective.

Isn't this funny Jason? I can't stop laughing myself! ;-)

The category mistakes are all yours. It's a category mistake to equate ordinary events with extraordinary ones. It's a category mistake to equate ontology (i.e., what actually happened) with epistemology (i.e., what we have reason to believe). And it's a category mistake to equate the results of science with the results of god-explanations which, to date so far, have always been wrong so the theist must continually move the goals posts as science solves the gaps of the past and uncovers new ones.

Nick said...

Some of us haven't seen miracles taking place today and have no problem believing they have. Jason is right. It was a total leap in logic.

Loftus trying to be a scientist first. Now he's trying to be a historian as well. Can this get any funnier?

John W. Loftus said...

Jason, we posted at the same time. [I just saw Nick's typical non-response though--the problem is that he thinks it's a response at all!!!].

Tell ya what. I can grant that Yahweh exists and that he does miracles and this still does very little if anything to lead us living in today's world to think Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead.

Care to know why?

Because a completely overwhelming number of Jews in Jesus' day did not think Yahweh did this miracle in this particular case. If they were there, and if they knew their Scriptures and if they believed in Yahweh and if they believed in miracles, but they rejected the resurrection of Jesus THEN WHY SHOULD I? WHY SHOULD WE?

Philo of Alexandria wrote an account of the Jews from Jesus' birth until long after he died. He was living in Jerusalem during the whole time Jesus lived, from his birth to long after his death. he was there when it was said the graves of the tombs opened and the saints walked out. He was there when it says the sky turned black and the temple curtain was torn, and when it says there was an earthquake. he might be considered the investigative reporter of his day on location. He interviewed people who should have known something about the ministry of Jesus especially if he threw the money changers out of the temple.

But Philo reported nothing about Jesus nor his disciples, nor his miracles, nor anything else about Christians at all. Although he wrote a history covering the time of Jesus in Palestine we're told he does not mention anything about Jesus.

If there was any proof beyond the NT itself that the Jews overwhelmingly rejected Jesus, then Philo's silence proves it.

David B Marshall said...

John: I didn't know Philo lived in Jerusalem. Checking Wikipedia, I see they didn't know that, either: they say he only visited the temple in Jerusalem once in his life.

Let's see . . . in The Works of Philo, index, there are 11 references under "Jews of Alexandria," and only 2 under "Jews of Palestine and the neighboring countries." There are 3 references listed to Alexandria, and only one (a very abstract and spiritualized, nothing slightly geographical about it) reference to Jerusalem.

Where did you obtain these biographical details? Did Morton Smith find an old rental agreement that shows Philo was in Jerusalem from 5BC to 39 AD (then went back to Alexandria, just in time to represent that city in a delegation to the emperor!)?

John W. Loftus said...

I got the information from Dan Barker's "Godless" book, who quotes from John E. Remsburg's 1909 book "The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence."

Next time I should double check my sources. But my point stands even from reading the NT itself. Richard Carrier argues in chapter two for "The End of Christianity" that "when we look at the actual facts of the time and place of Christianity's origin, we find that its conception and growth were not remarkable at all. In fact, what happened is quite the contrary of what we would expect if the religion really did have the backing of a miracle-working God. The actual evidence of its first three centuries, in other words, actually disconfirms Christianity, rather than supports it."

Nick said...

Remsberg's list. Wow. What a source. Not much of a shock from a Christ-myther.

Anyway, Christianity does not succeed the way we would expect if a miracle-working God was behind it?

And what should we expect and how is this determined? You do realize at this point you're not doing history really but theology.

David B Marshall said...

Patrick: A slew of interesting points. I might comment on some of them if this software had a "reply to" function that kept the original in view -- as your posts deserve to be.

David B Marshall said...

John: In that case, it sounds like he's echoing, rather than arguing with, Rodney Stark, in The Rise of Christianity. (Then adding a bit of skeptical "spin.")

Well, we'll see what he comes up with.

Bob Prokop said...

Loftus refers to "believers who object to the OTF", but that isn't the case at all. He has yet to acknowledge that the OTF is not his invention at all, but goes back at least as far as G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man, published 1925), and probably much further than that. But far, far worse for Loftus, long before he was born, Christianity was painstakingly subjected to the OTF, AND IT PASSED!!! Contemporary Christians have no fear of the OTF. In fact, we embrace it, knowing that its results are one more argument in our favor.

So to David B. marshall: Don't be too quick to give Loftus credit for "formulating what proves to be a helpful challenge". He did no such thing. He merely plagiarized a long-standing technique and gave it a fancy new trademark.

John W. Loftus said...

Bob, Bob, Bob, with critical thinking skills like you just displayed how can you ever have confidence enough in your reasoning ability to conclude correctly that your faith withstands scrutiny?

Did Bill Craig plagiarize his KALAM argument from Muslim schlars then? No. But he developed it in our era much better than they could imagine.

Did Chesterton plagiarize from Thomas Jefferson whatever it is you think he said that accords with the OTF? No. But as far as I know no one has ever defended it as well as I have. And in the process of defending it I have come up with original thoughts on the matter too. That's all one can expect this late in the game.

Confound the ancients, they've stolen all our ideas!

David B Marshall said...

Bob: 11 years ago, in Jesus and the Religions of Man (a book that much influenced by Chesterton), I described good qualities of various religions, then wrote as follows:

"What should a Christian say to an idealist setting out on a journey? Seek the good in every spiritual tradition and cherish it; but don't be naive. Allow yourself to become desperate enough to be heretical, and even desperate enough to be orthodox. Give credit where credit is due, bu talso blame where blame is due. Take ideals seriously enough to live by, even die for. But be careful to whom you open your heart. Follow each star to the place where it leads. Then come and look again in a town called Bethlehem."

"What is it you are looking for? Look, then, for a god among the gods of humanity. Look for a guru among the gurus of humankind at whose feet to seek enlightenment. Wear tennis shoes out upon the holy hills of the Incas. Shake clouds of dust from ancient manuscripts of the sacred libraries of Lhasa and Alexandria. Ponder every sect, tribe and teacher from Tierra Del Fuego to Tibet. Then come, open the New Testament. Look again at the life and teachings of the man who said of the Jewish writings, 'You investigate the Scriptures, because you suppose you have eternal life in them, and yet they bear witness to me.'"

That's what you might call the "Insider Outsider Test for Faith."

Bob Prokop said...

OK, my use of the term plagiarism was a bit OTT. I'll cop to that.

But John, your number one point that Christianity can't stand up to an outsider test is burst, burst, burst! It's far past time to "Move along - nothing to see here!"

John W. Loftus said...

Bob, tell that to David and to Vic, not me. I'm here because they continue to write about it. If my outsider test "is burst, burst, burst," then why are we discussing it in the first place? I didn't bring it up, you see.

So again, with critical thinking skills like you just displayed how can you ever have confidence enough in your reasoning ability to conclude correctly that your faith withstands scrutiny?

I don't mean to be hard on you here, but damn you are dense.

Kane Augustus said...

John Loftus,

You wrote the following:

"You see in our world miracles like a virgin birth, resurrection and an ascension into the sky do not happen. What world are YOU living in? So if miracles do not happen in our day then they never happened in first century Palestine either. And that's the end of it."

I agree with you about the resurrection and ascension: they don't happen.

However, virgin births certainly can happen. There's no doubt that people like to couple-up every once-in-a-while, and sometimes, without penetration, women are inseminated. Sperm has a wonderful way of finding it's way to the 'X' that marks the spot, if you know what I mean.

In other words, contact pregnancies are not unknown, and more common than people think. So it is possible that while betrothed to Joseph, Mary may have been getting her freak on but then denied Joseph access. From there, Joseph's wee soldiers may have assisted in a contact pregnancy and, voila! Mary, while yet a virgin, enjoys a pregancy. What better way to cover up an obvious indiscretion than to say it was a miracle, and that God did it?

Yes, we can speculate that such a pregnancy is unlikely because Mary would have had her hymen in tact if she were virgin. However, many women lose their hymen without penetration and by rather mundane means (e.g., riding a horse, doing gymnastics, etc.). The point is, no matter how much sensibility is tossed into the argument about how Mary could've become pregnant without metanatural means, religious faith-heads will not be convinced because it causes far too much discomfort to their already assumed supernaturalistic views.

Alright. I'm done.

I enjoy your blog, Mr. Loftus, and would love to be in contact with you if you're ever in the Yukon. ;)

Cheers!
Kane

Victor Reppert said...

I think you have to distinguish between the root idea of the OTF, and the baggage that invariably gets thrown in on top of it.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, I'd like to see you develop this distinction more fully. You think the basic idea of the OTF is fine. But then you go on to complain (?) when I argue from it that it leads to a rejection of your faith.

It's the second part you don't like, I gather.

Okay. But without it we would not have a standard to even have that debate.

John W. Loftus said...

Kane, what you have just desribed is a natural explanation for what we might call a virgin birth. At that point there is no longer a miracle. What you must show is that a event is not possible (or at the very least very very very improbable) without a supernatural explanation.

However, once you do that you must turn right around and claim that such an impossible event probably took place anyway.

One the one hand you must show said event is improbable, and on the other hand argue said event probably happened. This is what I call the near impossible double burden of proof you must bear. Whatever you place in one hand you take away with the other hand.

This is why miracles can never be proof of the existence of God, for in order to accept such a double burden of proof a person must already believe in a miracle working God.

But where do we get that Bayesian "prior" from in the first place? Remember, in our present-day world miracles do not happen. What world are you living in? If they did not happen in our world they did not happen in the ancient pre-scientific superstitious past either.

Cheers

Kane Augustus said...

Mr. Loftus,

I agree with you that miracles do not happen.

Consider my comments on Mary's virgin birth experience more of a tongue-in-cheek explanation than a likely one.

Personally, I'm not convinced that Mary, Joseph, or Jesus ever existed. I think the only miracle involved in Christianity is that it has survived this long.

Regards,
Kane

John W. Loftus said...

Sorry Kane. I've been at my computer too long today. I'm going to fix myself a drink and quit for the night.

If nothing else it allowed me to make some additional arguments.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Oh Dear
What a crock of @#%* theists have to defend. All that they bring to the table is what I am reminded of when Eller notes:

"....religions do not and cannot progress the way that, say, science can progress. When science progresses, it abandons old and false ideas. Once we discovered oxygen and the principles of combustion, we stopped thinking that there was a substance called phlogiston. Once we discovered that the earth is round, we stopped thinking that it is flat. Science and reason are substitutive and eliminative: new ideas replace old ideas. Religion is additive and/or schismatic: news ideas proliferate alongside [undiscarded] old ideas. For instance, the development of Protestantism did not put an end to Catholicism, and the development of Christianity did not put an end to Judaism. With science, we get better. With religion, we get more." (David Eller: ISBN: 978-1-57884-002-1)
Sheesh

Papalinton said...

Oh Dear
What a crock of @#%* theists have to defend. All that they bring to the table is what I am reminded of when Eller notes:

"....religions do not and cannot progress the way that, say, science can progress. When science progresses, it abandons old and false ideas. Once we discovered oxygen and the principles of combustion, we stopped thinking that there was a substance called phlogiston. Once we discovered that the earth is round, we stopped thinking that it is flat. Science and reason are substitutive and eliminative: new ideas replace old ideas. Religion is additive and/or schismatic: news ideas proliferate alongside [undiscarded] old ideas. For instance, the development of Protestantism did not put an end to Catholicism, and the development of Christianity did not put an end to Judaism. With science, we get better. With religion, we get more." (David Eller: ISBN: 978-1-57884-002-1)
Sheesh

Nick said...

I love how someone shows up talking about abandoning false ideas when an example presented is the false idea that we believed the Earth was flat.

Tell you what Papa. You demonstrate something is false and we'll abandon it.

Papalinton said...

Hi Patrick
You say, "Evidence for “mere supernaturalism” may be phenomena such as near-death experiences out-of-body experiences or paranormal phenomena. If these phenomena can be shown to be definitely or at least probably genuine, this would strongly suggest that “mere supernaturalism” is true and naturalism false."

Recent research into near-death experiences [NDEs] and OBEs indicates that the hallucinatory nature of the experience of people during an NDE is the result of the build-up of Carbon Dioxide in the brain, the natural result of the cessation of breathing, and it triggers hallucinogenic and dissociative episodes. Those that die are not able to tell their story [persiflage here, folks] and those that recover are able to relate that experience, because the brain did not die but was 'near death'.

To extend one's sociality [as christians do] to a [putative] realm of supernatural non-human entities, who in turn socially engage with us, is a function of the human evolutionary [genetic] predisposition to impose teleological intentionality on even the most mundane of natural occurrences. This is no longer in the realm of the 'unknowable, of 'mystery', or 'biblical inscrutability'. This preference has been delineated and is the default state of the human 'theory of mind', the scientific understanding of 'theory' rather than theory=hypothesis.

Cheers

Kane Augustus said...

Nick,

"I love how someone shows up talking about abandoning false ideas when an example presented is the false idea that we believed the Earth was flat."

I'm sorry, is there now a commonly held conclusion that people never believed the earth was flat?

Nick said...

Kane. They didn't. You can go back and read Aristotle's "De Caelo." Aquinas talks about the sphericity of the Earth. The ECF did. That was the big talk about the antipodes as well. The only one I can think of who might possibly be different is Augustine and even that one I understand is questionable.

The whole idea is a myth that the ancients believed it was flat. They knew it was a sphere. Most would tell you an approximate circumference even.

btw Kane, I'm also wondering why you even think it possible that Jesus never existed.

Kane Augustus said...

Nick,

Thank you for the extra information to look into. I will dig around and see what I can find out about what you have said.

Why do I suspect that Jesus may not have existed? That is doubtlessly a larger question than I care to answer in the comments section of this blog.

Nick said...

Thank you for the good response Kane. That's quite refreshing to see. I'd just recommend looking up sources when someone says the Earth is flat. I've found sadly that many claims that are made to be common knowledge are common ignorance instead. Consider for the flat Earth this one:

http://www.bede.org.uk/flatearth.htm

As for Jesus never existing, I do a lot of work on TheologyWeb.com and have my own section called Deeper Waters. I would be glad to set up a thread for you there. I go by ApologiaPhoenix

Bob Prokop said...

Augustine was well aware of the sphericity of the Earth, and even had an entire chapter on the hypothetical inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere in The City of God.

The diameter of the Earth was known by the ancient Egyptians to a surprising accuracy. They were almost spot on in their estimates.

The myth of people having once thought the Earth was flat was an anti-Catholic smear dreamed up in 19th Century America by xenophobic bigots.

Papalinton said...

Hi nick
"Tell you what Papa. You demonstrate something is false and we'll abandon it."

Science is about peeking up god's togas and pawing idols to see for oneself. It means probing sacred cows - and finding no gods, only guts. To a system like religion that depends for its existence on respect, this is quite hostile. Science, on the other hand, trespasses on the boundary of the sacred not because it is opposed to the sacred but it has no concept of sacred at all. Sacred is a 'religious' concept, not a scientific one and certainly not a natural one. To science nothing is sacred, because 'sacred' is not part of its vocabulary. So when science ignores religious boundaries, it handles religion roughly - like any pithed frog or pinned butterfly. And when science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s] - it comes as a tear of the skin that no religion welcomes or can withstand.

This reaction to Loftus's OTF is one such abrasion of the skin.

Science often only incidentally studies religion as it goes about studying the world and the cosmos. In areas where religion makes no claims or where religion has little at stake, science is free to do what it must. Most scientists never study religion itself in any serious manner, confining their research to butterflies, and volcanoes and clouds.

So when science discovers something that cuts across a religious 'trooth-claim', inevitably it is the religiose that cry foul. Scientific discovery in almost all cases is an inadvertent salvo across the theist's bow. But scientists go where the science leads them.

Logic and reason can be and frequently are applied and in this case, misapplied to prop up the self-described veridical nature of 'faith' is wrong. If the base premise is right, then the tools of logic and reason do their stuff properly. If the base premise is happenstance, then logic and reason takes one down a rabbit hole.

We know a lot about the christianities: we know they are man-made, we know they are cultural in ideation, we know they are social constructs in practice and we know they are derived from the greatly diverse and wonderfully creative range of creation myths and stories of a bygone era. They are a testament to the wonderfully imaginative capacity of the human mind to write a story.

What has never been able to be verified, is the existence of gods. Old gods don't die. They get forgotten. and longevity is no indicator for fact or truth. The Egyptian gods survived for some 3,500-4,000 years before they were forgotten. So extrapolating the age of the Egyptian experience [as we know from history] I wonder what will become of JHWH and jesus and messiah in around 4,000CE?

Cheers

Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Don't be so quick to write off ancient deities. The Hindu pantheon dates back to at least 7000 BC, and is very likely far older than that. So 4000 AD is not that far off.

Although I won't be around to collect, I would gladly bet the farm that 2000 years from now, there will still be people worshiping Krishna, Allah, and Jesus.

Nick said...

Let's see what Papa gave us:


Papa: Science is about peeking up god's togas and pawing idols to see for oneself. It means probing sacred cows - and finding no gods, only guts. To a system like religion that depends for its existence on respect, this is quite hostile. Science, on the other hand, trespasses on the boundary of the sacred not because it is opposed to the sacred but it has no concept of sacred at all. Sacred is a 'religious' concept, not a scientific one and certainly not a natural one. To science nothing is sacred, because 'sacred' is not part of its vocabulary. So when science ignores religious boundaries, it handles religion roughly - like any pithed frog or pinned butterfly. And when science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s] - it comes as a tear of the skin that no religion welcomes or can withstand.

Reply: No such facts have been listed but instead asserted that there is a warfare of sorts going on. Nothing mentioned about how the early Christians were the pioneers of science. They believed they were studying God's second book.

Papa: This reaction to Loftus's OTF is one such abrasion of the skin.

Reply: *Yawn*. No. There have been reactions like that from agnostics as well.

Papa: Science often only incidentally studies religion as it goes about studying the world and the cosmos. In areas where religion makes no claims or where religion has little at stake, science is free to do what it must. Most scientists never study religion itself in any serious manner, confining their research to butterflies, and volcanoes and clouds.

Reply: Yet that doesn't stop Myers and Dawkins and others from speaking on what they haven't studied.

Papa:So when science discovers something that cuts across a religious 'trooth-claim', inevitably it is the religiose that cry foul. Scientific discovery in almost all cases is an inadvertent salvo across the theist's bow. But scientists go where the science leads them.

Reply: We still have seen no such claim presented yet.

Papa: Logic and reason can be and frequently are applied and in this case, misapplied to prop up the self-described veridical nature of 'faith' is wrong. If the base premise is right, then the tools of logic and reason do their stuff properly. If the base premise is happenstance, then logic and reason takes one down a rabbit hole.

Reply: No major problem here.

Papa: We know a lot about the christianities: we know they are man-made, we know they are cultural in ideation, we know they are social constructs in practice and we know they are derived from the greatly diverse and wonderfully creative range of creation myths and stories of a bygone era. They are a testament to the wonderfully imaginative capacity of the human mind to write a story.

Reply: Who is this we? I know of no such thing. Do you want to provide evidence or is this the "Let's just assume naturalism" right at the start?

Papa: What has never been able to be verified, is the existence of gods. Old gods don't die. They get forgotten. and longevity is no indicator for fact or truth. The Egyptian gods survived for some 3,500-4,000 years before they were forgotten. So extrapolating the age of the Egyptian experience [as we know from history] I wonder what will become of JHWH and jesus and messiah in around 4,000CE?

Reply: Okay. You have the arguments from classical theism. I prefer the five ways. Would you care to examine them and tell me what's wrong with them?

Nick said...

Bob. Notice Papa gave us no evidence of a false belief. He just asserted that they are.

Apparently, he thinks only theists have to back their claims. I don't play that game of course. He needs to back his claims. I have no desire to just take them on faith.

Papalinton said...

Hi Bob Prokop
" Hindu pantheon dates back to at least 7000 BC, ..."

And there is has remained, yet to be challenged by universal education, improved living conditions and improved health outcomes. While ever there are the poor and the destitute, the uneducated will be driven by ancient preachings. And there it has remained, having not expanded or spread beyond a defined regional/geographical area of the world, beyond a socially defined habitat of the world, culturally bound by the everyday determinants of living and working, of the survival imperative. The so-called 'self-evident' truth of the belief system, as indeed for all theist belief systems including and especially the christianities, never was, never would and never will be a driver for propagating the religious meme-plex.

The traditional and long-held notion that existence, life, can only be attributed to a [putative] non-human creator-god, is a somewhat partial and perhaps a transitional [for want of a better word] explanation, developed at a time when theology was the senior service of academic endeavour and science was but an off-shoot. The demise of all the preceding gods in human history is perhaps a reasonable indicator of the conventional trajectory of those deemed surplus to requirement, in our inexorable search for meaning in life. This search will continue and the validity of the christian 'faith' will in the end stand or fall on its capacity to deliver, without coercion, without intimidation, without legislation, without fear. In that respect it is an equal participant, poised at the starting blocks, with all other differing and competing religious traditions extant.

Bob, I too won't be around, but history gives me a fair shot at 'prophecy' [pure persiflage].

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Nick
"The whole idea is a myth that the ancients believed it was flat."

No Nick, not correct. The best that one can say about earlier understandings about the earth being flat or spherical was completely ambivalent at best. It is true to say that the spherical nature of the earth was twigged at around 3-4th C BCE. But there remained an overwhelming proportion of the global population for which the spherical description of the earth was utterly preposterous. Even to the early part of the 20thC was it still considered a viable proposition. Indeed the history of religion seems to be paralleling the 'flat/round earth' duality of belief, and people to this very day still think that gods exist. It is quite amazing and deeply interesting.

Cheers

cl said...

@ Jason Pratt:

DO NOT MOCK THE LOFTUS! IF YOU MOCK THE LOFTUS THREE TIMES THE LOFTUS SHALL APPEAR!!

LOL! LOL!! Sure enough, he did! Too funny.

Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton:

It's quite amazing how deaf you can be to new information. You write that Egyptian deities of 3000 BC are no longer believed in, and therefore conclude (in a complete non sequitor) that worship of Jesus will be extinct by 4000 AD. I point out that Krishna, et.al., has been around since 7000 BC and still going strong, and your response is to not take the new information in at all! All you can manage to do is repeat your now discredited original statement, going so far as to add the utterly ridiculous adjective "transitional", and then shamelessly tout your supposed predictive powers.

If the best you can do is dredge up tired old canards about the (nonexistent) conflict between science and religion, you will end up as irrelevant to any serious discussion as Steven Carr! You can't win that game. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of great scientists have been deeply committed Christians. Dawkins and Co. are at best a fringe element (and probably a "transitional" one as well).

Nick said...

Papa: No Nick, not correct. The best that one can say about earlier understandings about the earth being flat or spherical was completely ambivalent at best.

Reply: Argument by pure assertion. Any names cited? Nope. Any references given? Not a one. Papa just has to believe it because it goes along with the paradigm that ancient people were stupid until we brilliant moderns showed up.

Papa: It is true to say that the spherical nature of the earth was twigged at around 3-4th C BCE.

Reply: Twigged at? Please. Everyone knew about it. It became the common education. Aquinas in the first question of the Prima Pars of the Summa refers to the sphericity of the Earth determined by geologists.

Papa: But there remained an overwhelming proportion of the global population for which the spherical description of the earth was utterly preposterous.

Reply: I know this is hard to understand for a fundy atheist, but I need evidence before I can believe this claim. I don't just take things by faith.

Papa: Even to the early part of the 20thC was it still considered a viable proposition. Indeed the history of religion seems to be paralleling the 'flat/round earth' duality of belief, and people to this very day still think that gods exist. It is quite amazing and deeply interesting.

Reply: I told you the arguments I would use for defending classical theism. Did you bother to interact with them? No.

What a man of faith you are!

Bob Prokop said...

From that ever-reliable source, Wikipedia:

"In Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, Jeffrey Russell describes the Flat Earth theory as a fable used to impugn pre-modern civilization, especially that of the Middle Ages in Europe.

The myth that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth is flat appears to date from the 17th century as part of the campaign by Protestants against Catholic teaching. But it gained currency in the 19th century, thanks to inaccurate histories such as John William Draper's History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). Atheists and agnostics championed the conflict thesis for their own purpose."

So you see, Christians are not responsible for a supposed belief in a flat Earth - atheists are! What irony!!!

Papalinton said...

@ Bob
"I point out that Krishna, et.al., has been around since 7000 BC and still going strong, and your response is to not take the new information in at all!"

So what you are telling me is that you are crossing your fingers and pinning your hopes for the christianities' continued existence is all down to how long Hinduism has been around. That this *new information* [oh dear] is a testament to the longevity of christendom. But I thought you guys keep telling us non-believers that Hinduism is not a true religion, that it is a complete fallacy because the only true religion is yours, and nobody can be saved unless they do it through jesus. So Bob, what's all this spruiking about hinduism? And how does its existence have anything to say about your religion ? Apart from the obvious that is, its just one of thousands of belief systems that is culturally constructed and socially tethered to particular groups of homo sapiens around the globe.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Inside the head of every christian is a god-shaped vacuum. C'mon Bob, you know that I know that you know that all this god-stuff is made up and was made up between 100-400 CE by the early church fathers.
History tells us this.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

@ Bob
""In Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, Jeffrey Russell describes the Flat Earth theory as a fable used to impugn pre-modern civilization, especially that of the Middle Ages in Europe."

What you neglected to mention, Bob, is that Jeffrey Russell is a 'dyed in the wool' christian apologist. Why wouldn't he put a spin on anything contra-religious and prop up an ailing historical christian theme. And you know that I know that you know that die-hard christians are pretty one-eyed about their 'sacred' little secret that can only be experienced at the 'personal level', in which nonsense words like 'mystery', 'unknowable', 'biblical inscrutability', 'transcendent' are all part of the woo-woo.

Sheesh

Nick said...

Except we've also given other historical sources and listed those who taught that the Earth was round throughout history. Tell us Papa, if people really believed this, can you provide the documentation?

And of course, those Christian apologists always lie, so you have to go with those naturalists and atheists since they alone always tell the truth and never have any motive.

Genetic fallacy anyone?

Papalinton said...

@ Nick
"Reply: I told you the arguments I would use for defending classical theism. Did you bother to interact with them? No."

Try not to show people how much of a neanderthal dick, nick, that you are.

Tell me again your arguments for defending 'classical theism'. I must have missed them in the swill. I promise to provide a referenced response.
Cheers

Nick said...

Wow Papa. You've learned from DJ well how to spew without substance.

Anyway, I told you already. The five ways of Aquinas. Of course, since I said classical theism, you should have already known some of what I had in mind if you had had a clue.

But you don't so you didn't.

Q.E.D.

cl said...

@ Nick & Bob Proskopp,

For what it's worth, I've had the same type of experiences with Papalinton over at Debunking Christianity, that den of rational thinking. For example, this comment, where Papalinton attempts to downplay credit I gave to another atheist by completely misunderstanding what the credit was aimed at. Then, in similar fashion as his pure assertion here, he moves on to say that "...religion seems to have reached its use-by date, as recent survey evidence suggests is happening particularly out of Europe, but more recently observable in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan etc." Of course, much like his claims here, this one, too, came without any evidence or sources whatsoever. Evidence that would challenge his claim? Why bother!? Pretty odd for a such a vociferously self-proclaimed critical thinker, but, that's beside the point.

It doesn't matter what you say. He's already committed to the idea that believers are just a bunch denialists clinging to their evolutionarily wired predispositions--as if he somehow has different evolutionary wiring. And, as if he's taking cues from the Loftus himself, when you guys press him and demand evidence for his claims, the foul-mouthery and name-calling ensues.

Hardly rational.

Nick said...

Don't worry cl. I check DC every day. It's better than reading the comics in the newspaper and I know who the worst offenders are of committing crimes against reason.

I suspect Papa is currently looking up the Five Ways because he doesn't know them and originally thought I was talking about a fast food joint, then he's going to look up responses to what he does not understand, probably from Loftus's book or from The God Delusion

I'm not expecting any evidence or argumentation.

Joel said...

It's a well-known fact that educated people knew the world was round throughout the Middle Ages and much of the ancient world. It was accepted as a basic truth in universities. The myth that people in the middle ages thought the world was flat or that Columbus somehow proved it was round is not even taken seriously by historians.

All you have to back your debunked theory up with is the usual garbage some atheists (particularly mythers) throw out about how the historical academy is dominated by apologists trying to make Christianity look good.

Bob Prokop said...

Nick and CL,

I came to the same conclusion myself. Every now and then you come across someone on the web who is completely incapable of rational discourse, and Papalinton appears to be one of those. Telltale traits include:

1. obsessive repetition of stale points
2. ignoring any and all responses
3. name-calling
4. accusing others of being delusional or brainwashed

When dealing with such, it is helpful to call to mind the advice against "casting pearls before swine".

cl said...

@ Nick,

I suspect Papa is currently looking up the Five Ways because he doesn't know them and originally thought I was talking about a fast food joint...

LOL!

@ Bob Proskopp,

Every now and then you come across someone on the web who is completely incapable of rational discourse...

Actually, in my experience, the rule is reversed at DC: every now and then, I come across someone who is capable of rational discourse. For the web in general, though, your observation seems to hold.

Teltale traits include:

Well then! I must plead guilty. After all, I just finished writing a reply to a commenter on DC where I insist--two times--that she is being delusional. :)

Nick said...

Cl. As far as I'm concerned, DJ is just getting his ego stroked. He had an emotional deconversion and rather than face facts and be able to admit he did something wrong, he's gathering around himself as many people as he can who will think just like him and validate him in his doubts entirely.

Joel said...

Unfortunately, the attitude of some atheists (but certainly not all) toward history resembles the attitude of some Christians towards science.

Richard Carrier, for example, has said that the reason we're missing some of Tacitus's annals is probably because the evil Christians destroyed them because they were embarassed about Tacitus not mentioning Jesus in his history of that period. This is of course absolutely ridiculous, and isn't so different from saying the reason people date fossils to millions of years is because they want to destroy Christianity.

cl said...

@ Joel:

Richard Carrier, for example, has said that the reason we're missing some of Tacitus's annals is probably because the evil Christians destroyed them because they were embarassed about Tacitus not mentioning Jesus in his history of that period.

Interesting. Where can I read that?

Mr Veale said...

For the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) to survive as a rational principle it must be part of the sciences. Period.

Since the OTF is not mentioned in any scientific theory, it should be rejected.

If John rejects the sciences as a way to know the truth then let him propose a better alternative.

Mr Veale said...

If any interpretation of the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), or any interpretation of any other of John's books or posts, are to survive as a rational interpretations, they must be justified by science. Period.

Since the correct interpretations cannot be discovered by any scientific methodology we should agree that we do not understand what books like "The Christian Delusion" mean.

If John rejects the sciences as a way to know the truth then let him propose a better alternative.

Mr Veale said...

For the principle that we should only believe in the deliverances of the sciences to survive as a rational principle it must be part of the sciences. Period.

Since the principle that we should only believe in the deliverances of the sciences is not found in any scientific theory, either as a result or as part of the methodology, it should be rejected.

If John rejects the sciences as a way to know the truth then let him propose a better alternative.

Mr Veale said...

You really are that silly John. But soooo much fun!!!

Mr Veale said...

I'm off to shoot some more ducks in a barrel!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!!

Graham

Mr Veale said...

One more fatal flaw with the OTF....

As a missionary religion, Christianity has to pass the OTF all the time. Even in Atheistic societies, like the former Soviet Union, or China.

Doh! Back to the drawing board, Johnny Boy...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIwcvffvrnY

Papalinton said...

Hi Mr Veale
"As a missionary religion, Christianity has to pass the OTF all the time. Even in Atheistic societies, like the former Soviet Union, or China."

Oh Vealey, what planet do you live on?

Oh dear, you seem to have been in the missionary position for so long that you are unable to recognise or know when you have been done over.

Sheesh

Papalinton said...

Hi cl
I thought I'd come over to your territory for a bit. You are as unimpressive here as you were over at DC. And your compatriots are equally as bright as any three-watt bulb when brought into the bright sunlight of reasoned scrutiny. You know that I know that you know that religion is just a social construct, nothing superhuman about it, nothing even supernatural about it. Ultimately, the myth of religion presents to the believer a world in which certain things are good to do precisely because they were really done in the past [the so-called 'tradition' part']. But religious myth also does one thing more; it takes this creation, the establishment of christian models and its formation of theological paradigms, out of human hands, and then proceeds to hand it back to humans as if it is not a human achievement.

OMG! LOL LOL LOL

Dr Reppert, Bring it on.

Papalinton said...

Hi Nick
"Anyway, I told you already. The five ways of Aquinas. Of course, since I said classical theism, you should have already known some of what I had in mind if you had had a clue."

OMG. You want me to comment on what an ancient thought almost 1,000 years ago? Give me a break. Some 800 years of water has passed under the bridge since then, Nick. Surely somebody a little more contemporary would be the go. Hell, it's the 21stC already.

But seriously, theist susceptibility to gleefully grasp onto such aaaaaancient thinking to prop up their belief system is symptomatic of the paucity of any evidence whatsoever in support of its 'trooth-claims'.

To the theist, 'contemporary' means anywhere between 4BCE and 2011CE.

As Homer Simpson says, "DOH".

cl said...

@ Irrational:

I thought I'd come over to your territory for a bit.

This isn't my territory. It's Victor and co's. I rarely comment here.

You are as unimpressive here as you were over at DC.

Like I told you there, your opinions don't mean anything to me. It should be expect that an atheist like yourself would resent a theist who makes strong arguments.

And your compatriots are equally as bright as any three-watt bulb when brought into the bright sunlight of reasoned scrutiny.

I doubt your opinion means anything to the others here, either. Like the Loftus, you're quick to eschew critical thinking in favor of sandbox technique.

You know that I know that you know that religion is just a social construct, nothing superhuman about it, nothing even supernatural about it.

Bare assertion, as is the rest of your comment.

So, do you have any facts or evidence or even maybe a cogent argument to back up anything you've claimed? If not, what's the point?

Bob Prokop said...

Chronological snobbery, Papalinton, chronological snobbery!

So we're not supposed to give any weight to an argument posed 1000 years ago, solely on the grounds that it's now the 21st Century? By that reasoning, I should give anything you have to say the same amount of respect (i.e., zero) on the grounds that at some point it will be 1000 years in the future, and therefore whatever argument you used will be worthless.

See how that works?

Nick said...

Papa is funny. His style of refutation.

I present an argument from Aquinas.

His refutation?

That argument is nearly 750 years old.

Wow! Devastating! The truth value of the argument changed because time had passed!

Hey Papa. Tell your hero then he needs to drop the problem of evil argument. That goes back even further.

"But some modern people still use that!"

"And some modern people still use Aquinas."

Note I never made something about an argument being modern. I just care about it being true. Should we throw out the Law of Noncontradiction since we got that from Aristotle and he was much much longer ago?

Love this kind of statement you made to cl also. "You know that I know that you know it's wrong."

And there's still no evidence of your original claim of sacred cows! No reply to the Earth not being seen as flat by the ancients.

But hey, you've got an agenda! Why let ignorance get in the way?

Jason Pratt said...

Joftus: {{Tell ya what. I can grant that Yahweh exists and that he does miracles and this still does very little if anything to lead us living in today's world to think Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead.}}

It would at least not intrinsically close off the possibility in principle!--unlike atheism (whether naturalistic or supernaturalistic), or many kinds of naturalistic theism. Or even some kinds of supernaturalistic theism for that matter (such as various degrees of deism ranging from minimal to nominal.)

But I have agreed before, in exhausting detail (here among other places), and will agree again (both here and at the Cadre Journal at the end of my current series a few months from now) that establishing (or hypothetically granting) the theological position, to whatever degree of detail--even to the point of having a deductive expectation that YHWH will someday do something of this sort!--does NOT in itself mean that YHWH certainly (or even hypothetically) has already done it. The historical study still has to be engaged in, without prejudice that a suspected event is certainly the event. In principle, and maybe even in practice, the results may be judged to be insufficiently conclusive one way or another, or might even be judged conclusive against the suspected event being the actual occurrence of what was expected.

One out of very many pieces of evidence, pro or con, is that the vast majority of Jews in Jesus’ day did not think YHWH did this miracle in this particular case. That is factually true and has to be weighed into the account. I wouldn’t call it “a completely overwhelming” number, since it is also a fact that they did not completely overwhelm other Jews from believing so.

It is a historical fact that a completely overwhelming number of Jews did not continue accepting (much less come to accept) Bar Kochba or many other Messianic claimants after they died. It is a historical fact that a not-completely-overwhelming number of Jesus did not continue accepting Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah after he died. On the contrary, the number of Jews who accepted him as Messiah grew steadily larger and larger after he died: a historical fact that has not been repeated to the present day (even in cases like the modern Lubavitcher Messiah.)

Treating the large number of Jews who didn’t believe Jesus was Messiah (especially after he died) as being “completely overwhelming”, is a faulty historical claim at best. Anyone today interested in Jesus pro or con, is interested because not only increasing numbers of Jews but Gentiles also came to believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah (and not only for Jews but for Gentiles) after he died. Whereas, completely overwhelming numbers of people (Jews and Gentiles both) are completely uninterested in even debating whether (for example) the Theudas reported by Josephus and/or Acts is the Messiah: we all completely overwhelmingly agree that he-or-they were not.

So, I recommend picking a Messiah with a larger number of non-adherents if you want to scare me with completely overwhelming math. {g}

But it won’t matter much because I don’t believe in those Messiahs any more than anyone else does (though not primarily because I’m completely overwhelmed by how completely overwhelmingly they were rejected--unlike Jesus.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Joftus: {{If [a substantial majority of Jews] were there, and if they knew their Scriptures and if they believed in Yahweh and if they believed in miracles, but they rejected the resurrection of Jesus THEN WHY SHOULD I? WHY SHOULD WE?}}

That is a perfectly fair question. Unless it is treated as being the end of the matter, as though nothing else can (or should?) be said on the topic. Such as why a substantial minority of other Jews, despite massive cultural pressures against doing so, would come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (and even as more than merely the Messiah).

I will however point out that if you appeal to the inherent and majority incredulity of the masses in ancient times, when you want to refuse to believe something they didn’t believe, then you may not consistently turn around and appeal to an overwhelming credulity of the masses in ancient times, when you want to refuse to believe something those people believed.

Leaving aside your use of possibly faulty sources as to how much exposure Philo actually had to events in Jerusalem (not to say Galilee), I notice that your argument seems to be, not that Philo is silent on the subject so the whole thing must be unreal (as a Jesus Myth proponent would do), but that Philo is silent on the subject and so this means he must have rejected Jesus as Messiah. It might be interesting to hear why he did so; but we don’t have that information. Similarly it would be historically interesting to hear why Josephus didn’t accept Jesus as Messiah; instead we can only glean clues, if any, from the few brief things he wrote on the topic.

But Philo is hardly needed as evidence that the vast majority of Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah, as you are well aware. And even Philo’s silent testimony, or extant testimony if he had written any, would not remotely count toward proving that the Jews overwhelmingly rejected Jesus; since there is plenty of evidence outside Philo that Jews continued converting to Christianity after Jesus died (and continued doing so at a pretty steady rate for the next couple hundred years, even if numerically they came to be outpopulated by Gentile Christians as would be naturally expected in view of relative population numbers to start with.)

That isn’t an overwhelming rejection. Their rejection of Bar Kochba and dozens of other contenders are overwhelming rejections.


{{Richard Carrier argues [about spread being normal]}}

I recall Rodney Stark argued much the same thing, back before he was a Christian. And still claims as much now that he is, in effect, a Christian apologist. Notably the 3000 convert claim at Pentacost makes no significant difference in the expected rate.

Being somewhat familiar with Richard and his arguments (several years longer than I’ve known you), I think I can say with some confidence that your source, there, is drastically underestimating the cultural pressures involved for Jews, or even Gentiles (for somewhat different but also somewhat overlapping reasons), to have converted to Christianity in 1st and subsequent centuries Mediterranea.

But that was part of David’s point in the article Victor linked to, so I’ll let him proceed with that.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Joftus: {{Wow, I suppose Scientologists and Mormons make fun of your beliefs too.}}

Whether they do or not, is of no concern to me. Unless they’re doing so because I’m pompously engaging in ridiculous leaps of anti-logic. In which case they ought to be making fun of me! But that would be my fault, not theirs.

Joftus: {{Brainwashed people do not know they are brainwashed, Jason.}}

They also do not routinely engage in cautiously self-critical argument, up to and including looking for ways to acknowledge and incorporate good arguments from the opposition--the way I do.

I could point out that brainwashed people do tend to engage in ridiculous leaps of anti-logic (and sometimes even pompously so); which shouldn’t be surprising since brainwashing is explicitly intended to interfere with rational thought. But people who are not brainwashed can behave that way, too; so brainwashing isn’t necessarily an excuse for your behavior.

Joftus: {{So brainwashed people will laugh at people who's views are correct. [...] Isn't this funny Jason? I can't stop laughing myself! ;-)}}

Similarly, brainwashed people will also conveniently ignore details, reflexively focusing instead on protecting their injured emotions against even the barest whiff of opposition.

But again, that doesn’t mean you have the excuse of being brainwashed to explain your behavior. (Including in the case of not bothering to pay attention to what Kane was actually writing, for example. How many people here other than John thought Kane was defending the Virgin Birth as a supernatural event against the “faith-heads” he was mocking?!--raise your hands!)

Joftus: {{You are laughing at me because you think that even though miracles do not happen today that they may have happened in the past.}}

Nope, I’m laughing at you because you wrote that the question of whether X does not happen at one time must mean (“and that’s the end of it”) that X does not happen at another time.

Your knee-jerk insistence on rattling off a rebuttal to a fan of yours who showed up here to support you, as if he was defending us, in almost total disregard of what he was writing (other than it had something to do with 'defending' the Virgin Birth) was admittedly far more amusing, though.

Fortunately, he seems to still consider you generally competent at analysis, despite clear evidence to the contrary having been almost literally thrown at him, by you yourself. So no damage done. {g}

Joftus: {{But my claim is that even if they did there is no reason to think they did from a historian's perspective, which is the only one we have to know what happened in the past.}}

The “historian’s perspective” is, as I noted, vastly more complex and nuanced than “X doesn’t happen at one time so X doesn’t happen at another time, and that’s the end of the matter”.

That absurd reductionalism is laughable completely aside from whether X actually happens in the present or in the past or not or any combination thereof.

This still holds true under polysyllabic variations of the same contention, such as “If the historian does not see X in today’s world then he cannot interpret the raw uninterpreted data of the past in any other way but from his present perspective”, if the implication is that he must not see X in the past either, regardless of any testimony otherwise he may find. (Which is clearly what you’re aiming for.)

Joftus: {{Isn't this funny Jason? I can't stop laughing myself! ;-)}}

It is indeed hilarious that someone older than seven years old would actually think that if a person doesn’t see X happening at one time he must necessarily believe X doesn’t happen at all including at other times.

But when I laughed about that, you became insulted. Ah, well.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Now for some attempts at real counter-criticism:

Joftus: {{It's a category mistake to equate ordinary events with extraordinary ones.}}

On the contrary, it’s begging the question to introduce that as a category distinction as if it would necessarily lock out extraordinary events from occurring in the past if we don’t see such events happening in the present. No scientist sees Big Bangs ordinarily happening, but I would never dream of arguing against the Bang having happened on the ground that no one sees them happening (ordinarily or extraordinarily!) right now.

The category difference between ordinary and extraordinary events isn’t that kind of category difference.

(Nor will it get any better in principle if you further distinguish between extraordinary natural events and extraordinary supernatural events, although at the moment you’re subsuming both under the category of ‘extraordinary’.)

Joftus: {{It's a category mistake to equate ontology (i.e., what actually happened) with epistemology (i.e., what we have reason to believe).}}

Agreed; but irrelevant to my critique of your argument that if we don’t see X happening now then X must not have happened in the past, end of story.

You are, however, welcome to apply your critique against yourself in what you actually wrote, (which is what I was laughing about), since the statement you thought settled the matter talks only about ontology (“if miracles do not happen, then they never happened, and that’s the end of it”) and not about epistemology (for example, ‘if we believe miracles do not happen today then we must believe they never happened, or anyway we can have no possible reason to believe they ever happened.’)

I am entirely willing to reply to your original attempt as if you had used epistemology instead of ontology, though!--ahem: Remember, folks, if we have reason to believe electric light switches happened in first century Palestine, we can have no reason to believe they happen today either!

If you meant something more realistically nuanced than that, you have only yourself to blame if you put it in a laughably oversimplified form and expected people to still take it seriously. But I doubt the most realistically nuanced version would serve your purposes.

Joftus: {{And it's a category mistake to equate the results of science with the results of god-explanations}}

And yet, you want to equate the results of (what amounts to) historical ‘science’ (at least in the sense of scientia, inference from observation), with a theological position on whether God did or did not do something. Atheology is still theological in topical category.

I could have laughed about that in your attempt, too; but I restrained myself to laughing about the poor grasp of historical inference in principle.

JRP

Mr Veale said...

Papa

What are you smoking?!!!How long have you been smoking it for?? Does it always make you so delusional and inanely happy???!!!

The public has a right to know!

Graham

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Mr Veale, there has been some rather interesting weather in NSW recently. This may partially explain things as some people have been going a bit loopy.
Drugs may also explain it to.
I get depressed listening the likes of Papa. As a teacher I'd hoped young people matured. It just seems that Papa has not, as demonstrated by his demeanor and attitude.

Bob Prokop said...

Uhh, Edward,

"Heliocentric" means "sun-centered". What's wrong with that?

Edward T. Babinski said...

FLAT EARTH AND THE ANCIENTS

How ancient? The ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians agreed the earth was flat, as did the ancient Hebrews. Even the intertestamental authors of books like Daniel and Enoch assumed the earth was flat. And the first century Gospel authors and the authors of Hebrews and Revelation also used phrases appropriate to the flatness of the earth.

If by "ancient" you mean the Church Fathers, they were writing after the periods mentioned above. And a few of them, though not the most highly influencial, did reject the "pagan" notion of a spherical earth.

Over the centuries flat earth defenders have included a number of Christians. In fact in the early 1900s there was a revival among some Christians in both Britain and the U.S. of a belief in a flat earth, which they defended in debates. Even today there is a forum site run by some serious minded Bible believing flat earthers.

Of course geo-centrism is another view that has never died out among firm believers in the Bible who cite Scriptures concerning such a belief, and it continues to be taught in some orthodox Jewish schools, and promoted by some Catholics and Protestants, who held a joint conference fairly recently, attempting to augment their Bible-based geo-centric belief in geocentrism with "scientific arguments."

Edward T. Babinski said...

MEDIEVAL MAPS

There's also more that could be said about the way medieval Christians continued to revere Ptolemy's geography almost like they revered holy writ, and resisted attempts to leave unknown areas blank or to draw maps of the world based on empirical observation, instead they filled in the blanks with bible-related ideas of what lay beyond. For instance, as Augustine argued, the Bible does not mention people living on the opposite side of the earth, not does it mention any additional continents lying an ocean away. I guess the Hebrew prophets and Jesus and the spirit inspired prophets of the early church forgot about those things and only had the geographical knowledge common to their day and age.

Medieval maps often depicted the earth's geography as three equal sized continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa, each occupied primarily by the descendants of one of the three sons of Noah after they left the ark, and/or after the tower of Babel incident, with Jerusalem lying at the middle of those three equal sized continents.

To medieval map makers the events in the Bible required a location on the map. This provided plenty of opportunities for speculation and the imagination to do a bit of creative cartography.

At the top of the map (the east, not the north was at the top of maps back then) geographers placed the Garden of Eden. Typically surrounded by a mountain range or a high wall, outside of which was a wasteland filled with wild beasts. Popular tales told of monks who traveled to locate it.

Saint Brendan (484-578), Irish monk
Believed Eden was in the Atlantic. He reportedly sailed west and found a beautiful island paradise “St. Brendan’s Island” remained on maps until at least 1759, even though it was never found by anyone else.

Ezekial and the Book of Revelation both warned of Gog and Magog, so they were added to maps. Usually located in the extreme north (per Ezekiel's description). Roger Bacon urged the study of geography to prepare for the invasion of Gog and Magog.

During the Crusades of the 12th century, Europe sought allies in the Holy Land. Prester John was said to be a priest-king who had defeated the Muslims in his kingdom. Descended from the same race as the Three Wise Men he Ruled their land with a solid emerald scepter: a military genius, pious Christian, and enormously wealthy. About 1165, a letter appeared from Prester John to the Byzantine emperor of Rome and the King of France. Promised to help conquer Jerusalem. “Prester John’s Letter” was extremely popular and widely published. It included mention of such things as: “birds called griffins who can easily carry an ox or a horse into their nest to feed their young.” “Horned men who have bun one eye in front and three or four in the back.” Bowmen “who from the waist up are men, but whose lower part is that of a horse.” For years, mapmakers continued to attempt to locate Prester John’s kingdom

A Catalan Atlas from 1375, made for King of Aragon by Abraham Cresques, a Jew on Majorca, was created by combining empirical geographical knowledge gained from sailors with such theologically based ideas. Jerusalem was still near the center of the earth's geography, Gog and Magog still present.

The cartographer’s greatest act of self-control was to leave parts of the earth blank.

Edward T. Babinski said...

COLUMBUS AND PTOLEMY'S GEOGRAPHY

Columbus' view of the size of the earth was based on Ptolemy's geography. Ptolemy calculated that a degree was 50 miles, not 70, giving the earth a circumference of only 18,000 miles. He also stretched Asia east for 180 degrees, not 130 degrees. 300 years later, Columbus believed Ptolemy and therefore thought Indies was much closer than it really was.

Why was Ptolemy still considered accurate 1,300 years later? Europe had become Christian. Expanding knowledge of the world became less important. In fact there was no English word for “geography” until the 16th Century. For centuries Christians also had debates concerning the existence of the "antipodes," a place where people hang upside down. Some also argued that the equator was a zone of fire – impossible to survive. How could anything have traveled to the antipodes after being saved by Noah’s Ark?

At any rate, Ptolemy's size of the earth led Columbus to believe he had reached India or islands off the coast of India. Columbus also noted the existence of fresh waters from what we know today as the Orinoco river which implied a great river and a vast continent.
Christian doctrine said that such could not exist south of the equator. So, he decided that he had found the location of Paradise.

Columbus grew increasingly religious in his later years and wrote, A Book of Prophecies (1505), in which passages from the Bible were used to place his achievements as an explorer in the context of Christian eschatology.

Edward T. Babinski said...

THE INSIGNIFICANT OCEAN

A note on the relatively small size of the "Ocean" compared with the size of land as held by Christians for centuries due to a passage found in the Catholic Bible and early Protestant Bible.

The "Ocean," was believed to be a body of water that surrounded the earth's three major continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) in a circlar fashion, based on this verse:

"Upon the third day [of creation] thou didst command that the waters should be gathered in the seventh part of the earth: six pats hast thou dried up, and kept them, to the intent that of these some being planted of God and tilled might serve thee."
– II Esdras 6:42 (an ancient Apocryphal work found in Catholic Bibles, but also included in early editions of the King James Bible)

The verse implied that six sevenths of the world must be land, so the ocean was believed to be far smaller than we know it to be today. The “Ocean” simply meant a circle of water that surrounded the three major continents of the world, with Jerusalem in the center. While beyond the "Ocean" lay Paradise.

Mr Veale said...

Okay, Ed. I know you're building to a point here.

Right?

I mean, please, let there be a point! It's not like I'm going to be able to use that information at dinner parties...

Nick said...

Meanwhile, I see Papa hasn't replied yet.

Jason Pratt said...

Before I add anything more to this thread (which I probably won't do tonight), I want to retract something I wrote about John earlier today.

Whatever John was doing, or not doing, and whether or not it was worthy of critique or even censure, it was not "anti-logic".

Anti-logic would involve him taking a position that either explicitly or implicitly denied the propriety of logic (in itself or in connection with questions at hand), whether as a blanket position or temporarily to defend against logical critique (before going back to using logic again after all on the same topic.)

That was not what John was doing, when he tried to convince people that we need look no further to settle the matter than the principle that if X doesn't happen (or even only that we don't perceive it happening) at one time then we must infer that X does not happen at another time either.

That is a ridiculously bad use of logic on many levels, but it isn't anti-logic; and my constitutional impatience with his rhetorical shennanigans does not excuse me from charging him with either deploying or promoting anti-logic--no matter how rhetorically satisfying it might feel (to me) to call it that.

If I had the ability to do so, I would add a disclaimer to that comment alerting (or better yet linking) readers to a retraction from me on this topic farther down the list, while not removing the evidence of what I did wrong. But I can't, so this will have to do.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Ed: {{Why was Ptolemy still considered accurate 1,300 years later?}}

Well, as long as we're spewing out historical trivia: Columbus wasn't using Ptolemy's actual figures, and in fact his opponents routinely cited Ptolemy against him as being ground for believing he wouldn't be able to sail that far--when they weren't citing the other calculation they accepted (which proved essentially correct in the end.)

At the time Columbus was making his arguments, two figures were regularly cited (with debate) over the circumference of the globe, both of which were very ancient: Eratosthenes' figure (calculated almost 2000 years previously to Columbus' day) of 250,000 stadia or roughly 40 thousand kilometers (which happens to be correct), and Ptolemy's figure of 180,000 stadia or roughly 28,800 kilometers. Columbus' opponents (convened from among the high-ranking religious leaders of the day, because they were the most well-educated and familiar with the relevant scientific issues) argued that even if Ptolemy's figure was used, Columbus would have no chance to arrive there.

They also had some other, "biblically" based objections (more like second-or-third-hand inferences, since the scriptures don't have anything to say on the topic one way or another) to the possibility of finding any reprovisioning areas in between; but their scientific objections were competent and correct--including in their appeal to Ptolemy's figure against Columbus.

Columbus instead used a very ambitiously modeled version of Ptolemy's figure, based on an inaccurate (but convenient) fudging of the distance of longitude at such-n-such latitude above the equator in order to make the distance seem smaller (correct in principle but already accounted for more accurately by his opponents), and a pretty severe fudging of the longitudinal distance of the mapped "known world" west to east from Europe across Asia (in order to 'prove' that the 'common world' stretched across more of the globe than Ptolemy had inferred, thus less ocean).

By the time he was done, Columbus had estimated a distance from his Canary Island staging point to Japan at about 4450 kilometers. The real distance, as the proponents of Eratosthenes' calcs insisted, was more like 20 thousand; but even with Ptolemy's calculation Columbus would have been far short. And while they did have some (ultimately false) "biblically" based reasons for doubting the existence of resupply areas in our part of the world, they also had no confirmational data otherwise at hand--and refused to populate the map there on the basis of Columbus' wishful thinking.

(Data borrowed from Russell's Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, pages 6-11; detailed sources cited by Russell along the way.)

This whole conversation assumed that, even on Columbus' highly faulty optimism, much more water covered the globe than merely one seventh of it, by the way.

JRP

Papalinton said...

Flat Earth? Spherical earth? Much of the peoples from over the globe were, in the main, ambivalent as to which, from the earliest recorded times to the 20thC CE, in varying degrees of intensity. Christians were not immune from this perspective.

"All Christian sects recognize the Bible as the primary source of revelation. This compiled material was allegedly inspired by God and written by chosen authors to reveal him and his will to man. The Bible, then, is the foundation of the Christian religion. To Christian fundamentalists who believe in verbal inspiration, the Bible is an infallible foundation. They claim that "the Holy Spirit so dominated and guided the minds and pens of those who wrote (the Bible) as to make their writings free from mistakes of any and all kinds, whether it be mistakes of history or chronology or botany or biology or astronomy, or mistakes as to moral and spiritual truth pertaining to God or man, in time or eternity," (Wilbur F. Tillett, "The Divine Elements in the Bible," The Abingdon Bible Commentary).
Despite the obvious sincerity of those who so view the Bible, the inerrancy doctrine has no basis in fact. That the Bible contains mistakes in every area mentioned by Mr. Till is a truth widely recognized by reputable Bible scholars. One of the most consistent scientific errors that Bible writers made concerned their misconception of the earth's shape. In Psalm 24:2, for example, it was said that "the world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his. He built it on the deep waters beneath the earth and laid its foundations in the ocean depths," (GNB).
This passage and others like it in the Bible make no sense until they are interpreted in terms of the ancient Hebrew conception of the world as represented in the graphic illustrations on the following page that were published in the New American Bible and The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. (Similar ones appear in other Bible dictionaries.) If you will study the graphics and then read the above quotation again, the psalmist's meaning will become quite clear. He thought the earth rested on foundations or pillars that God had set in the ocean depths. Needless to say, modern science knows better. [CONT.]

Papalinton said...

[CONT: 2]

Here are just a few of the many other passages that prove Bible writers were ignorant of Earth's spherical shape:

Daniel 4:7-8, "I saw a tree of great height at the center of the world. It was large and strong, with its top touching the heavens, and it could be seen from the ends of the earth." This was allegedly an inspired dream, yet it conveys a flat-earth concept, because no matter how tall a tree would be, people on the other side of a spherical earth could not see it.

Matthew 4:8, "The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and displayed before him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence...." The only plausible reason for the "very high mountain" was that the altitude would make it possible to see to the ends of the earth. Only on a flat earth would this be remotely possible, so the New Testament writers were as ignorant as the Old.

In Genesis 11:4, the people wanted to build a tower up to heaven. If you look at the graphics above, you can see their concept of heavenly bodies under the dome, not all that far away. Presumably, the Lord was afraid they would be able to accomplish their plan, so he caused them to speak various languages. This, of course, is not the reason people speak different languages, but nothing is too fantastic for the ignorant to believe.
The following references show that Bible writers thought there was water above a solid dome with floodgates (look at the graphics again) that could be opened to make it rain:

Job 38:22, "Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, and seen the treasury of the hail?" Look at items two and three in the graphic from the Interpreter's Dictionary, and the intended meaning of this statement becomes very clear.

Psalm 104:3, 13, "You stretch the heavens out like a tent, you build your palace on the waters above.... You water the mountains from your palace." Here God dwells in a palace above the waters over the firmament or dome. To water the mountains, he opens the floodgates. Quite unscientific! [cont]

Papalinton said...

[CONT: 3]
Genesis 1:6-7, "Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places... and it was done. So Godmade a dome, and it separated the water under it from the water above it." So the NAB and The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible are quite correct in their graphic representations of what the Bible writers believed and taught. How many of you readers believe the earth is flat? The Bible teaches it is!
Christian fundamentalists have used various scriptures to try to prove that Bible writers knew the earth was round. Since I have already shown that these writers thought the earth is flat, if some verses actually do teach that it is round, then there is a contradiction in the Bible and the fundamentalists lose anyway.

Job 38:13-14 is sometimes quoted as a round-earth text: "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment." Claim is made that the statement about the earth "turn(ing) as clay to the seal" was a reference to the earth's rotation, but this passage has nothing to do with movement. The word used was haphak, which meant "to convert, to change, or to make clear." It is the same word that was used in Exodus 7 in reference to Aaron's rod turning into a serpent and the waters of Egypt turning to blood, so rather than the word meaning turning in the sense of movement, it meant turning in the sense of changing. The GNB clarifies the meaning in Job 38:14: "Daylight makes the hills and valleys stand out like the folds of a garment, clear as the imprint of a seal on clay." So, far from teaching the revolution of the earth, this was merely a reference to the effects of sunlight in the morning. Notice also that the KJV refers here to "the ends of earth." This would indicate a flat earth, since there are no ends to a globe.
[cont]

Papalinton said...

[CONT: 4]
Job 26:7 has also been cited as proof that the writer of this book knew that the earth was a sphere: "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place and hangeth the earth upon nothing." An NAB footnote at this verse says, "The North: used here as a synonym for the firmament, cf. Is. 14:13," (emphasis inserted). Thus, we read, "He stretches out the dome (firmament) over the empty space." In other words, the dome was unsupported in the middle. The reference in Isaiah 14:13 says, "You (King of Babylon) were determined to climb up to heaven and place your throne above the highest stars (see the graphics). You thought you would sit like a king on that mountain in the north where the gods assemble." The "north" was indeed used as a synonym for the heavens or firmament, so the passage was actually speaking of a "mountain in the heavens where the gods assemble."
"He... hangeth the earth upon nothing" simply expressed a Hebrew belief that the flat earth, although supported by pillars, did not rest on the back of Atlas or a turtle or an elephant, as their pagan neighbors believed. In this Job was right but not because he was inspired; otherwise, he wouldn't have said in the same context, "The pillars of the heavens tremble (see the graphics) and are stunned at his thunderous rebuke," (26:11). He thought the thunder was God's voice!
Fundamentalists use Isaiah 40:22 to argue that Earth's rotundity was known to the writer: "It is he (God) that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." They misunderstand the first half of the verse, which is clarified by the placement of "God's throne" in the NAB graphic, and they avoid the second half. The NAB gives us a proper translation of the verse: "He sits enthroned above the vault (dome) of the earth.... He stretches out the heavens like a veil, spreads them out like a tent to dwell in." See the graphic illustrations again and check the Hebrew concept of firmament as explained in Eerdmans and other reliable Bible dictionaries.
The Hebrews were inspired by nothing more than their political and religious motivations. Thus, being ignorant of scientific facts, they thought the earth was flat, that sick people were possessed by demons, and that essentially everything was caused by either gods or demons.

This article is attributed to Adrian Swindler [P. O. Box 695, Elmwood, IL 61529]

For consideration.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Jason, What are you saying except that Columbus didn't use Ptolemy's exact figures, but a "version" of them, and that Columbus also thought there was more earth and less ocean like in II Esdras? Are you disagreeing with me or just trying to appear contrarian?

We also agree that Columbus was not a flat earther.

But the point is that the Bible does not appear to be inspired concerning anything that we can actually test, be it the creation and shape of the earth, the shape of the geography of the earth, the existence of other continents, etc. Same goes for the Bible's lack of predictions concerning any of modern science's discoveries. You wouldn't go to the Bible to find them out.

Instead the Bible is loaded with bronze age ideas of how nature functions, of how the cosmos was made, and what the best moral advice is (including stoning women who are discovered on their wedding night to not be virgins).

The Bible certainly didn't seem to have helped much in the way of medieval map making as I point out in this full post:

The Flat Earth Myth? It's true that Columbus and most Church Fathers were not flat earthers, but don't start cheering just yet. . .

http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/02/flat-earth-myth-its-true-that-columbus.html

Mr Veale said...

Guys, guys, guys

Catch up! Read John Walton's "The Lost World of Genesis One" or GK Beale's "The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism".

You may also want to buy a copy of James Hannam's "God's Philosophers" (to be released in the States this year as "The Genesis of Science").

When you talk about mediaeval science or evangelical views of Scripture you sound silly and uniformed.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

In other words - stop critiquing "Answers in Genesis" and actually have a conversation with the people you're talking to.

Reading your posts is like listening to a Ken Ham sermon. I don't think you've managed to leave fundamentalism behind at all Ed. Same mentality. You're right because you just know you are.

David said...

The statement by Bob Prokop that Krishna has been around since 7000 BC is totally false.
In trying to trace the origins of Krishna the god the best arguments are that the Krishna character of the Chandogya Upanishad dated mid first millenium BCE is the same Krishna as appears in the later epic, the Bhagavad Gita, which was dated between the 5th and 2nd C. BCE, but which other scholars place later into the first century, CE. This association is based on the supposed similarity between doctrines taught to the Krishna of the upanishad and taught by the Krishna of the Gita. Even if you grant this it is far from being 9000 years ago.
Some Hindu fundamentalists have tried to say that all mentions of the name Krishna refer to the same person but it is historically untenable and an article of faith.
Over time Krishna was deified and identified with Vishnu.
The Rig-Vedic hymns were completed by 1200 BC while the other Samhitas date from the 12th to the 10th C, BC. While they were being composed and collected some time before this the earliest they can be pushed back to is 1500 BCE.
The gods to whom rituals and sacrifices were made then could not be said to be objects of worship today outside of being part of ritualistic formulas.
Any claim that they are attested to 9000 years ago is without evidence.
I don't want to derail the discussion into Hinduism but just felt I couldn't let it pass unremarked upon.

Bob Prokop said...

David,

I got my dates from both copies of the Bhagavad Gita on my bookshelf. I myself, not being a Hindu, have to get my information from somewhere. I chose to get it from Hindu commentators (one of them, by the way, being no less than Gandhi himself). I just went upstairs to check the figures, and I indeed read them correctly.

Nick said...

So is Papa going to answer my question or is he going to keep posting statements about things he doesn't understand that's just being copied from a web site.

A web site like maybe, oh, I don't know....

http://www.skepticfiles.org/skeptic/1flat.htm

How about your doing some of your own research instead of parroting the thoughts of others and then answering my question?

Jason Pratt said...

Ed: {{Are you disagreeing with me or just trying to appear contrarian?}}

Neither one. Just correcting some details as they occurred to me.

Unlike the people at Answers In Genesis whom you appear to be copy-paste preaching to (instead of actively discussing things with the people actually on this site and in this thread), I have no particular stake in biblical inerrancy; nor do I have the slightest problem, in principle or in practice, with scientific observations correcting and/or adding to details of Biblical imagery.

You should already be extremely well aware of this, and so of the proclivities of the people on this site (Victor and his main contributors such as myself). Consequently, are you not simply engaging in some historical trivia, of no particularly close relation to the actual topic of this thread? There you go, I've added some more for you. I had a couple of corrections to provide along the way, but I think I was critically balanced and fair as to the details.

Or do you think this is supposed to be threatening to any of us in any way, despite your very long experience in knowing us? That wouldn't be good evidence for cogent thinking on your part.

Or do you simply forget important things like that in order to vent, thus making yourself feel better? Also not good evidence for cogent thinking on your part.

Really, unless you were adding historical trivia for mere sake of historical interest, it would seem that the person trying to be contrarian for sake of contrariness is... well... the person who isn't paying attention to what his audience actually believes and thinks he can shock them with things that he ought to be already well aware that they've long ago learned and have no problem accepting.

JRP

David said...

Bob,
Whatever else he was, Gandhi was not an expert on the history of India and its religions.
I would guess that the other copy of the Bhagavad Gita is also biased towards taking Hindu tradition as fact.
The Indus Valley civilisation dates from 3300–1300 BCE. Mehgarh is seen to be the precursor of that cilivisation and stretches back to 7000 BCE. Neither of these are Hindu civilisations though some seals have been found showing swastikas found in later Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions, going back to the early Harrappan period (3300 BCE).
There is a politically motivated claim that all this is somehow Hindu. It is not a claim taken seriously.

Jason Pratt said...

Papa: {{Indeed the history of religion seems to be paralleling the 'flat/round earth' duality of belief, and people to this very day still think that gods exist. It is quite amazing and deeply interesting.}}

It is indeed quite amazing and deeply interesting that the vast majority of people in the world believe both that some kind of deities exist and that the Earth is spherical; whereas a very tiny minority of defiant free-thinkers refuse, against the oppression of the establishment, to believe any kind of deities exist or that the Earth is spherical.

...wait, you didn't really mean to parallel the history of religion and of geography, did you?

Because that would make atheists the staunch flat-earthers in that branch of human thinking. {g}

(But then again the history of religion doesn't have a binary set of options to it, either; see David Eller for some comments on that. So your analogy totally fails all the way around.)

JRP

Bob Prokop said...

David,

I'll take you at your word on this one. The fact is, I really don't have a dog in this fight. When I decided (about two years ago) that I wanted to learn more about Hinduism, I thought it best to go straight to the source, rather than to read what outsiders had to say on the subject. So I read the Bhagavad Gita and a condensed version of the Mahabharata (well worth the read, by the way), as well as commentaries on the same. I didn't question the dating in the commentaries, having no real reason to do so. I'll stand corrected.

(I just checked another Hindu website, which dates their religion back to at least 5500 BC.)

David said...

Bob,
I had to study up on it after some relatives joined the Hare Krsna movement. According to their guru the moon is a heavenly planet because that's what their scriptures say. When mention of the moon landing is made there are two main tactics I've encountered. One is that the moon landing never really happened, the other that the description in the scriptures is true but somehow it's all on a subtle plane not apprehensible to our gross material senses.
I only mention this as an example of what some Hindus believe. That's not even the strangest, so I'd take with a pinch of salt what you find on Hindu websites.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Jason, If you're not "threatened" by the fact that the Bible is not the place to look for any of the world's most assured testable knowledge, then why go on as you did?

Also, your response to someone else in which you compared atheists to flat-earthers (assumedly because atheists are a minority compared with the numbers of those who believe in a riot of different "theisms") was not only a facetious response but also a fallacious one. *smile*

Lastly, Jason, when you convince Vic that universalism is the best and truest form of "Christian theism," and then convince people like Steve Hays or J.P. Holding as well, I will buy you a steak dinner. Happily. And I honestly wish you all my best in your endeavor.

David B Marshall said...

David: I'm intrigued by the Harrappan civilization. I wandered through a museum in Oxford a few months ago, and looked at some artifacts. One was a dice made out of clay, some 4000 years old. It looked exactly like a modern dice, except a little bigger, and the edges slightly rounded. You could see the faces that showed "five" and "six" -- exactly the same pattern as today. I wondered about the people -- children? priests? -- who used that dice.

I also noticed some script on one or more artifacts. The Harappan script hasn't been decoded -- no one knows what it means. Two of the "characters" looked similiar, though the reverse of one another -- a tall vertical line, then three or so short horizonal lines coming off of it.

The Rig Veda reveals a world of thought very different from later "Hinduism." This is even before that. All very intriguing.

Mr Veale said...

Yes, Ed, you have successfully killed off Ken Ham's apologetics...

face palm...

Jason Pratt said...

Ed: {{Jason, If you're not "threatened" by the fact that the Bible is not the place to look for any of the world's most assured testable knowledge, then why go on as you did?}}

I like to gush about trivial history things, too; and in this case I recalled a point that was being (accidentally?) mis-reported.

Of course, I was entirely aware that you were only looking for ways to slag Christianity (which I suspect also explains your error about heliocentrism, since after all even heliocentrism is false strictly speaking--silly Christians, believing heliocentrism to be true, ha, etc.!), even though you were writing for an audience you ought to have been extremely well aware wouldn't feel at all threatened by your 'revelations', assuming they didn't even know about them yet.

But that doesn't mean I can't indulge in some trivial history mongering, too, while you're at it. {g}

It ought to be obvious that if I felt even slightly threatened by such revelations of inaccuracy, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to highlight (more than once) that the clergymen opposing Columbus also had "biblical" (sort of) arguments, which (as I also went out of my way to mention) turned out to be quite wrong. I also wouldn't have gone out of my way to note that they were using one of two ancient calculations of the Earth's circumference that Christians hadn't come up with (and one of which was correct).

I do think it's worth pointing out that the first people to put their hand up God's skirt (as Papa rather insultingly described scientific investigation) were (in the vast majority) believers either in God or the gods, including the Catholic and Protestant Christians of the Middle Ages (and the Eastern Empire Christians of the Dark Ages).

That's only worth pointing out in refutation of a foolishly oversimplified attempt at describing a relationship (especially one of inherent hostility) between 'science' and 'religion', such as the one Papa has been attempting; but just because he volunteers to be a straw man doesn't mean you have to join along.

(And Papa at least has the excuse of being a new visitor who doesn't have enough experience here to know that his anti-Ham-ish arguments won't mean much to Victor and the Christians who typically post here. You don't remotely have that excuse.)

Ed: {{Also, your response to someone else in which you compared atheists to flat-earthers (assumedly because atheists are a minority compared with the numbers of those who believe in a riot of different "theisms") was not only a facetious response but also a fallacious one. *smile* }}

He's the one who inadvertently drew that analogical (and as you said fallacious) comparison; I pointed out that the analogy totally failed in ways he clearly wasn't expecting (but ought to have expected.)

As usual, you missed the point to why I did something.

I'm sure he intended to seriously compare the vast majority of *-theists today (not counting official atheism or *-theism of actual currently or recently existent oppressive regimes) to the minority of flat-earthers; not compare the holdout minority atheists to the equally defiant (but hugely wrong) flat-earthers. And that isn't a comparison I would have made myself, except perhaps as an amusing joke, not as a serious reason to weigh in favor of one general branch of metaphysics instead of another.

But if he himself voluntarily sets up the joke, I might as well laugh and make use of it!

(While also qualifying, as I explicitly did--and as usual which you didn’t bother to notice--that his inadvertent analogy of atheists to flat earthers fails.)

JRP

David said...

David B Marshall:The Harappan culture is fascinating certainly.
If you or Bob are interested there is a pdf that goes into the Hindutva shenanigans trying to claim Harappa as a Vedic culture by supposedly translating the seals.
Horseplay
It is worth looking at as an introduction to the Indus valley civilisation itself.

David B Marshall said...

Thanks, David. Interesting.

Papalinton said...

Jason
"But if he himself voluntarily sets up the joke, I might as well laugh and make use of it!"

I take it you are referring to me. I would ask you and others reread my comment, in the cool, calm light of day and identify the offending' flat earthers=christians element' of the David Eller quote. His [and mine by identification] reference to the oxygen/combustion and flat-earth analogies are illustrative of that which humankind believed in past times. No flat earthers=christians comment was made. You may wish to castigate me, though, as I do consider ALL theist beliefs, all theisms, are a crock of shit and knowingly acknowledge it. If there is anything for which I might be excoriated [as indeed there may have been some sensitive readers that abhor expletives], it is for typographically swearing in my opening remark.

Further in Eller's quote, mention of christianity, catholicism and protestantism are referenced as a substantive model of the additive and/or schismatic nature of theism. Nothing more, nothing less. The existence of the 30,000+ religions on this planet are an historical testament to that archetypal 'additive' paradigm. The couple thousand sects of the christianities, itself, is factual and demonstrably supports the schismatic nature of the belief system. The divisive and heresy bleating squabbles, so emblematic of the schismatic nature of the christian cults/sects throughout history; catholics vs jews, protestants vs catholics, Benny Hinn vis-à-vis Rick Warren, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Baptists vs Mormons, the Jehovah's Witness and Unitarian interpretive dimensions, David Coresh vis-à-vis Jim Jones [need one go on?], are clear templates of the metastatic capacity of this particularly aggressive form of theism. One still asks, even after 2,000 years+, where does the truth really lie?

Despite the savagery of the unquenchable baying of the frenzied KKK lynch party, the Eller quote remains strong, right and valid as ever today as when first written.

The interposition of Ed Babinski into the debate is a clear reminder of the precariousness of the undisciplined mentality of mob rule. A distinct measure of calm and rationality prevailed following his comments, together with a more reasoned, balanced and rational discussion of the historicity of the flat earth ideation. For this I am grateful.

The 'shoot first, question later' trait of the 'faithist' commenters is symptomatic of a deeper malaise that has gripped theists of late. The past few decades has witnessed a manifold of robust challenges coming from many quarters of the community, challenging the very foundations of religious mythology. As it rightfully ought. These sustained challenges, and the ever increasing numbers and significantly higher profile in the public square, of those community members who choose to not live under the hegemony of theism, are rightly speaking out. [cont]

Papalinton said...

[Cont 2]
The validity of the christian 'faith' will, in the end, stand or fall on its capacity to deliver, without coercion, without intimidation, without legislation, without fear. In that respect it is an equal participant, poised at the starting blocks, with all other differing and competing religious traditions extant.

And its claims must be rigorously tested, as indeed they now are, as never before. One such test is Loftus's OTF. And this process has begun. Arguments to date have been less than substantial, and David Marshall's contribution is the subject of that debate here. It will be known in short time whether his proposition does indeed pass, as he self-proclaims. I, with others, have yet to comment, and to further challenge the veracity of theist 'truth-claims'.

The hackneyed and trite resort to 'unknowable', 'mystery', 'inerrancy', god's word', 'biblical inscrutability' and the "The bible says it, I believe it, that settles it", is hardly an explanation let alone an argument. And no one is buying it anymore. The obfuscatory nature of 'sacred' is simply a deflection ploy. If theism is going to participate in future communities it must stand up and be accountable. Such is the global process it now faces. The systemic and systematic abuse and injustices of the catholic church must never be repeated. Theism must be dragged into the 21stC if it is to be a participant in future societies. The public demands no less.

Papalinton said...

Jason
"Papa: {{Indeed the history of religion seems to be paralleling the 'flat/round earth' duality of belief, and people to this very day still think that gods exist. It is quite amazing and deeply interesting.}}

It is indeed quite amazing and deeply interesting that the vast majority of people in the world believe both that some kind of deities exist and that the Earth is spherical; whereas a very tiny minority of defiant free-thinkers refuse, against the oppression of the establishment, to believe any kind of deities exist or that the Earth is spherical."


I have not left your comment slip by. A response is pending.

Cheer

Papalinton said...

Some bedtime reading:


http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/paula_kirby/2011/02/religion_the_ultimate_tyranny.html

Papalinton said...

Hi Nick
"So is Papa going to answer my question or is he going to keep posting statements about things he doesn't understand that's just being copied from a web site.

A web site like maybe, oh, I don't know....

http://www.skepticfiles.org/skeptic/1flat.htm

How about your doing some of your own research instead of parroting the thoughts of others and then answering my question?'

PapaL
I give credit where credit is due for the hard and tireless work done. The bible quotes are transfixed in eternal time. They do not change. Whether I or others search for them is irrelevant. The quotes are as damning to the theist mentality as they are to the veracity of theist claims.

I have not forgotten your challenge of the nonsense of Thomist philosophy written in a context so alien to the present reality of modern society and modern thinking, each element of which grew out of the pagan trappings of the Aristotelian worldview. It is sweetly ironic that the central feature of christian thought draws its purported strength from non-christian pagan, rational thinking. Whether you wish me to draw further breath on this challenge I await your response, Nick.

As for the pious coward, Prokop, I wish him well.


On christian love: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense! I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."

Spoken from the heart of one of the giant pillars of christendom in modern America; Pat Robertson.

Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton,

I don't mind being called names, but generally I prefer knowing why I am being called them. You called me a "coward". Could you kindly explain why.

Not wishing to compare myself to Saint Paul, but even he had to defend himself against ridiculous charges (2nd Corinthians). So here goes:

I am a U.S. Army veteran. Where and when did you serve? I was in Kuwait and Iraq during the UN weapons inspections era, when we daily faced the threat of intimidation and violence from the Iraqi regime. Once in a Middle Eastern country on an assignment for the National Security Agency, my hotel room's windows were shot out and the walls bullet ridden by people who obviously did not want me there. On another trip to Istanbul, I survived a kidnapping attempt by Russian gangsters, and managed to escape unaided. More than once, I dealt face to face with Soviet agents in West Germany (in the 70s and 80s). I have flown on and off aircraft carriers in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and shuttled around Navy ships at sea by helicopter. (Have you ever tried landing on the deck of a cruiser during conditions of 10 foot waves, and a wildly rocking deck? I have.) I endured two hurricanes while traveling for the Defense Intelligence Agency, one in Asia, and the other at sea. I was BY NAME ordered to Korea during the 1994 nuclear crisis to plug an intelligence gap in our forces on the peninsula, and worked 20 hours a day for 5 weeks until I was finished, part of the time under the watchful eyes of North Korean border guards, observing me through their binoculars - and all the time under deadly serious threat of North Korean invasion.

I wore the uniform of my country for seven years, and served in US civilian intelligence agencies for 34 prior to my retirement. How many years did you serve?

When my wife was dying of pancreatic cancer for 14 months, I stood at her bedside and stayed with her until the final seconds. That took courage.

I could go on, but to what use? It doesn't bother me if you insult my beliefs and/or thought processes. I just consider the source. But I must insist on an answer to this one. Why did you label me a coward?

Nick said...

yes Papa. I still want an answer. Now go on ahead and tell me why the five ways fail. Whatever you ordered from Amazon to try to understand them I'm sure will get here sooner or later. Until then, let's just stop stalling and get to the point. If you think the five ways are invalid, show why. Feel free to go one at a time if need be.

Jason Pratt said...

Papa: not only did I not even once complain about the Eller quote (per se), I referred to it as evidence against the propriety of the analogy you drew--an analogy I mentioned only because it inadvertently reversed your intended comparisons (and so was ironically funny.)

While I think the Eller quote, as far as it goes, oversimplifies things a bit (in comparing the progression of science to the proliferation of religions), I have nothing particularly to say against its broad shape, and in general I agree with how David Eller presents the facts (at least in that quote).

While I'm at it, I agree that David wasn't talking about this-or-that group believing the Earth is flat, but was using it as a general example (even if he oversimplifies somewhat on the historical progression details); which is why I haven't complained once about that.

Since I'm getting around to talking about the Eller quote now, though: David Eller engages in two oversimplifications that do prove problematic to his point in principle.

The first problematic oversimplification is that his observation about religions also holds true for metaphysics particularly and philosophies more generally. That includes any kind of atheism and/or philosophical naturalism (such as combined in naturalistic atheism), and various philosophies of science such as scientism.

David Eller himself holds to one or more philosophies, and to at least one metaphysic; and it would be foolish of me to try to argue against the truth and/or relevance of his belief system(s) / worldview on the ground that, historically speaking, worldviews (including religions and anti-religions) tend to proliferate instead of substitutively progressing.

By the same principle, it is just as invalid to try to appeal to worldview proliferation as evidence against a worldview being correct--even if the selection is artificially (and unrealistically) restricted only to religions per se.

DavidE's observation is also unrealistically oversimplified in a fashion that is (at least potentially) self-refuting, by not considering that individual people, and so also eventually groups of people, do in fact substitutively replace one worldview with another on a pretty regular basis. That may involve converting from a religion to some non-religious worldview, or from a non-religious to some religious worldview, but in the vast majority of cases it means converting from one to another (broadly) 'religious' worldview.

And insofar as people who are doing this care about truth, they do believe they are making substitutional progress from believing what is less true to what is more true in relation to actual reality.

Those are my comments on the quote from David Eller, which I haven't gotten around to posting until now, due to being distracted with other topics elsewhere.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Pratt said...

Having read further down, I see that Papa did finally realize that he was replying to me off-base from what I was actually commenting on. (Having apparently let that comment slip by him after all--since otherwise he wouldn't have begun by replying to my remarks on the topic as though I was aiming at the quote from David Eller.)

Consequently, I have deleted the comment I just previously posted, providing a link for him to the comment in case he was having trouble finding it in this long thread.

Here is the link again, however, for other readers, if anyone is interested.

JRP

Mr Veale said...

Papa Linton

You are, frankly, something of a bluffer. You cannot appear 'ex nihilo' on a thread, making artless jokes about the missionary position that do not address the point being discussed, make sweeping comments about believers, and then ask for calm reasoned comments.

The discussion of the ancient's belief in a "flat earth" (a rather crude way of describing their cosmology) seems to be informed by scanning on-line encyclopaedias. It has no relevance to mainstream evangelical views of Scripture. (I will grant that it has some relevance to naive literalism.)

Frankly, the argument being advanced is a waste of everyone's time, and its embarrassing to watch it unfold.

Graham

Mr Veale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Pratt said...

Mr. V: {{(1) We should not assume that cl did anything wrong (2) We should not assume that John owes us an explanation for how he runs his own blog.}}

While I can recall at least one special case exception to that last assumption (which John is very much aware of, but which I won't go into detail about since he doesn't want it brought up again), I generally agree to both assumptions, including in John's favor.

JRP

Papalinton said...

Hi Bob
I apologise unreservedly. Such comment is uncivil.

Papalinton said...

Hi Mr Veale
"The discussion of the ancient's belief in a "flat earth" (a rather crude way of describing their cosmology) seems to be informed by scanning on-line encyclopaedias. It has no relevance to mainstream evangelical views of Scripture. (I will grant that it has some relevance to naive literalism.)"

I absolutely agree with you, 'flat-earth' has no relevance to mainstream evangelical views of scripture.
I would appreciate your pointing to me the offending element of my comment about 'flat earth' being central to that view.

Indeed the discussion that did follow, on such, was a result of the ensuing responses that impugned that I had indeed done so. A nonsense, of course, and a reread of my opening comment and the ensuing Eller quote will indicate that. Both the oxygen/combustion and the flat-earth analogies were a recognition of and referred to improvements in science in replacing old ideas with new ideas, not anything to do with 'flat-earth'=christians.

I am somewhat concerned that some posters seem to have difficulty in attaining a level of comprehension of written language commensurate with transfer of the proper meaning embodied in that communication. So perhaps, a misinterpretation at the technical/competence level or simply misreading the intent of the message. But it was an interesting foray, wasn't it?

Mr Veale
"You cannot appear 'ex nihilo' on a thread ....."
PapaL
Of course you can. I just did. [teeh heeh]

Mr Veale
"The discussion of the ancient's belief in a "flat earth" ...... seems to be informed by scanning on-line encyclopaedias"
PapaL
Your unsupported perception. The only reference to 'flat earth' was that which formed part of the Eller quote. And not even my words, Graham.

[cont.]

Papalinton said...

[Cont. 2]

And yes, 'it was embarrassing to watch it unfold', and somewhat of a shock to me I must admit, how a misread quote develops a momentum of its own. The first of this misreads was Nick's, at Comment at February 12, 2011 6:01 PM. e.g.
"I love how someone shows up talking about abandoning false ideas when an example presented is the false idea that we believed the Earth was flat."

The [" ... we believed the Earth was flat ..." ] use of 'we', I gather, is Nick's collective pronoun referring to christians. And then from there it ran amok.......

Interestingly, no one, yes no one, has yet to suggest an explanation for the two points Eller makes; (1) that of the 'additive' nature of religion, a reason why the entropic flow of every old and new theological idea, a floating agglomerate of unregulated thought as manifested through Apologetics, is the sum of all theist scholarship. That, in itself, is a significant indicator, of why theists can so effortlessly quote from all ages of the theist spectrum with equal 'relevance'. In support of any one claim, theists will quote St Augustine [over 1,500 years old] in the same breathe as from theist philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Such regularity of this phenomenon would simply be ludicrous within science.

And (2) the schismatic nature of most if not all christianities, each an heretical brand of worship to the other, such as Baptists to Mormons, roman catholicism to Jehovah's Witness. Each one not an improvement on the other and yet they all have the same god, the same bible, the very same saviour, jesus, the very same virgin birth, and yet see christianity as varied and as diverse as to render the whole notion of inerrancy a ridiculous belief to defend. Of course your particular stripe will retort , 'but I don't believe in the the bible being the word of god.' That may well be true. Then what makes your brand the one true interpretation to those that do hold the bible as the actual words of god?

There will and must be answer to account for such proliferation. I suspect there is, but the truth of the answer will lie elsewhere, not with theologians, not with religious philosophers. The answer will be exposed through anthropology, sociology, psychology, the neurosciences in general. This is because no consistent, testable narrative has yet emerged from 2,000-plus years of christian theology and Apologetics. These disciplines are as diverse and as conflictive as they were when the Nicene conference, and so many subsequent conferences, was first ordered to meet to resolve the plethora of conflicting christian ideologies. This has not changed to this very day. Theology, as we know it, is akin to aimlessly wandering in the desert in the hopes of finding an oasis. No oasis has yet been found.

So what is your response, indeed I invite comment from all including Dr Reppert, to the two observed and historically testable appraisals by Eller, one that brings cogency and a reasonable explanation to these observed phenomena?

Cheers

Jason Pratt said...

Papa: {{Interestingly, no one, yes no one, has yet to suggest an explanation for the two points Eller makes}}

Except for the substantial comment you skipped over (or let slip by) in order to reply to Graham.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Well, shoot, out of curiosity I tested the links and they don't go to comments at all, but to blogger profiles.

Still, it shouldn't be hard to find the comment you skipped over in order to quote and reply to Graham. Try searching for "Eller" going backward from the bottom. (Or go to Graham's post you quoted from, and tick upward three posts.)

JRP

Bob Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Two points.

One: As a Catholic Christian, Eller's issues with the additive nature of theology simply don't apply to my faith. I have the advantage of the Magisterium, which infallibly assures me that the Holy spirit has His "hand on the tiller" throughout the millenia of sturm und drang over doctrine, while leaving me free (in fact, encouraging me) to think freely and to "prove all things".

It pains me to write this (and the last thing I want is to turn this discussion into a Catholic vs. Protestant debate), but the sad truth is that, absent the Protesant revolt (a.k.a., the Reformation) there is in fact a consistent, testable narrative of the Christian faith. Moving on...

Two: You write, "theists can so effortlessly quote from all ages of the theist spectrum with equal 'relevance'. In support of any one claim, theists will quote St Augustine [over 1,500 years old] in the same breathe as from theist philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Such regularity of this phenomenon would simply be ludicrous within science."

But you've answered your own question! It's not science! And that's not a Bad Thing - not at all. Neither is music science, nor art, nor literature, nor ethics, nor law. But they have equal standing with "science" in human discourse - in fact, in their respective arenas, they are preeminent. A man who confines himself to "science" is like a carpenter who insists on using only a hammer, in complete disregard of whether or not a screwdriver might be more appropriate.

For myself, I often find the most devastating reply to certain comments on this website to be a Bach cantata, or an Anglican hymn, or a Russian Orthodox icon. It's a pity I can't post such when appropriate.

Would you, as a literature professor, refuse to teach Homer to your students on the grounds that he lived 3000 years age, and confine yourself to living authors? I would hope not!

Nick said...

Odd that Papa thinks I misread when I replied about the flat Earth since I have said also the ancient Greeks did not believe in one and they were not Christians. No. The we referred to humanity period. The humanity of history does not have this belief and I like to point out historical revisionism when it is taking place.

However, it is amusing that Papa is making a big deal about answering questions when he still hasn't responded to my query about the five ways in classical theism.

Nick said...

Also, I meant to say this earlier, and I know it's kind of off-topic, but to Bob, I want to say that I salute you for your fine service to this country. God bless you for what you've done.

Papalinton said...

Bob Prokop
"One: As a Catholic Christian, Eller's issues with the additive nature of theology simply don't apply to my faith."

PapaL
Of course it wouldn't. As indeed every other of the couple thousand christian cult claims.
Of course! your particular flavour of faith is the one true faith, because it has been around the longest.
Of course! you have the the advantage of the 'magisterium', through which authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the pope. In common understandable parlance, a bunch of fallible humans, lovely old farts whose hearts are generally in the right place who teach or interpret the truths of the Faith, and does so either non-infallibly or infallibly. Simply another steadfastly earth-bound cultural construct, a male-only club that has sold the world a pup and pretends it has a direct phone line to god.

Surely, in the light of reason and logic, Bob, you can see this magisterium is a fallibly derived concoction controlled by an elite cadre of autocrats and imposed on an unsuspecting community. I might add the decision by ever-so-fallible humans to determine the infallibility of the pope, is one of the most recent dogmatically defined 'tradition' additions to the magisterium, set in mud in 1870.

You overlooked mentioning the mighty schism some 500 years earlier, resulting in the split of Eastern Orthodoxy, a singularly and decidedly clear refutation and unambiguous rejection of the role of the pope as the only authorised god-spirit channeler. One surely must ask why this occurred if god tells you your stripe of 'faith' is the one and only true claim. Obviously this is bunkum to the Eastern Orthodox has they have unequivocally expressed. Again another clear reminder of the paucity of evidence for the church doctrine of papal infallibility.

The bloody and ugly schism of the reformation is another historical example of the absolute refutation of catholic idiocy by christians who simply would not accept the catholic perspective, that ordinary folk can only access god through the governing priestly class, who in turn were the only ones authorised to read and interpret the bible. Authorised by whom? Wait, don't tell me. The pope. Luther knew this was just ludicrous temporal nonsense and instructed people they can have a direct personal relationship with their favorite supernatural entity, and that they were also entitled to read the texts as they wish.

So, tell me again, the advantage of the magisterium? Advantage in what sense? Your particular woo or another's interpretation of the exact same story supporting a chasm-sized different and alternative woo. And interpreted from the exact same text.

I suspect god, [if ever there is such a beast] is laughing his head off, playing the game of 'divide and conquer', and rolling around with mirth while omnisciently watching how the 'telephones' game he started is playing out. [cont]

Papalinton said...

[Cont. 2]
Bob
"But you've answered your own question! It's not science! And that's not a Bad Thing - not at all. "

PapaL
Egregious words put into my mouth, Bob. At no point did I note that religion is/was science. My words were, " Such regularity of this phenomenon would simply be ludicrous within science." Theism is definitely not science and could never be, even if past times the pious attempted to control science, as indeed they try to meddle with to this very day, eg Intelligent Design; offering contra medical facts about the non-safety of condoms; no to stem-cell research, etc.

For believers to suggest that theology is the 'equal' of science, in understanding human and social behaviour, this is a nonsense. From a development and
Science [e.g. cosmology, the physical and quantum sciences, the various allied neurosciences as we know them now] is a work-in-progress. And its exponential growth of its descriptive and explanatory power is enormous. This is a quantitatively and qualitatively different view and distinctly unlike the theist perspective of course, who already *knows* without a shadow of doubt that goddidit. Such a proposition of course, is anathema to the creative and incurably inquisitive nature of homo sapiens. As Augustine wrote in his ‘Confessions’, “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity ... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”

Clearly this is not the position of science; in fact, nothing could be more anathema to the position of science than this. If this were truly the scientific attitude, there would have been no research into the shape of the world or the alignment of the planets. There would, in three words, be no science.

The face of the underlying imperatives of religious belief, of superstition and our predisposition to invoke teleological intention, is inexorably being challenged. In continuing to build our understanding of what it is that makes us tick the way we do, what drives us as a species, how we think, how we operate physiologically, psychologically, sociologically, neuroscientifically, anthropologically .... etc, is showing us, for the first time, since the dawn of humans with large brains, why we act and react at the 'faith' level. And the finding is invariably earth-bound, onto which flights of fancy into the 'supernatural realm' are appended. Nothing superhuman, nothing supernatural or 'otherworldly' that resides outside our brain.


Bob
"Would you, as a literature professor, refuse to teach Homer to your students on the grounds that he lived 3000 years age, and confine yourself to living authors? I would hope not!"

PapaL
Correct, I would not. But equally I would not teach that Homer is with us here right now, physically and phantasmically, and has influence over us, and expect to get away with it.
I would be committed. The rightful place for the collection of judeo-christian writings, all of the canonical and non-canonical, should be rightfully placed on the literature shelf among, and in equal share with, the other great tomes of ancient writings of mankind's exploration of the human condition.


Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Nick
"yes Papa. I still want an answer. Now go on ahead and tell me why the five ways fail."

PapaL
I take it then, that your silence on the fundamental premise that the central feature of christian thought draws its purported strength from non-christian pagan, rational thinking, is an acknowledged given.

In other words, Thomist philosophy, scrabbled for some semblance of substantive underpinning to prop up the judeo-christian biblical fable, in an attempt to mask the smoke and mirrors it actually is. Each element of the 'five ways' of Thomism rely heavily for their existence on being a direct take from the non-christian, pagan trappings of Aristotelian thought. History tells us this and I take it you accept this as historically correct.

And you would be right. Modern investigative techniques, higher biblical criticism, access to modern research processes, have all contributed to challenging the foundations of religious truth-claims. And this literary research has unearthed a litany of contradictions, errors, conflict, interpolations, pseudepigrapha, polemics, all of which theists have tried so hard to address by appending the fable to the great works of the Greek pagan, Aristotle, in the hopes of lending some form of legitimacy to the stories, myths and legends of ancient desert-living goat-herds.

Pejoratively, and in no manner incorrect, a couple of observations that come to mind about the Thomist five-ways:

. what they prove is that even intelligent people can believe stupid things.

. perhaps intelligent people are simply more adept at justifying their own delusions

. omnipotent, uncaused cause, etc...defines himself into an epistemological Safe Zone where rational argument can not reach him because he just declared by fiat that it can't

. arguments like "everything is preceded by something before it, I want to avoid infinite regression, so my version of sky daddy did it" are funny. The sad part is that after a few hundred years christians still think these are the best they have come up with

. they represent everything atheists mock about Christianity

. the foundation is based on a personal opinion and then special pleading.
"Everything needs something to put it in motion, except god"

. they read more like a series of declarative sentences designed to lend authority to circular reasoned conclusions


And circular reasoning it is.

One christian suggested, " I find the circularity of creation from nothing (be it God, the universe, or whatever that creates itself from nothing) far more virtuous than the viciousness of uncaused causes. An uncaused cause is absolutely arbitrary, it sheds the burden of responsibility, and flirts openly with fatalism. While sui generis entities have nothing to blame but themselves."


The notion of an 'uncaused cause' is anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-humanity, a declaration that, at its core, is a conversation stopper [very much from the same stable as St Augustine's take on natural human curiosity being an anti-christian disease]. The 'uncaused cause' is impositional, it's arbitrariness speaks nonsense of a 'no go zone ' for science and an a priori assumption that science can never explain the creation of the universe.

And besides, Nick, who says your jesus [the 3-in-1 godhead, all indivisible, all of the same essence] is the 'uncaused cause' that created the world?

Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton,

You write, "Who says your Jesus ... is the 'uncaused cause' that created the world?",

Well, let's see. for starters, there's Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, Origen, St. John Chrysostom, St. Benedict, Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Dominic, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Sir Isaac Newton (inventor of calculus, physicist), Gregor Mendel (discovered genetics), Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutierrez, Galileo (Yes, even him!), Charles Williams, Nicolas Copernicus (discoverer of the Sun centered Solar System), Johannes Kepler (defined how orbits work), Max Planck (developer of quantum mechanics), Lord Kelvin ("Father of Modern Physics"), Michael Faraday (we wouldn't have electricity without him), J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Jean Luc Godard, Lech Walesa, Sir Thomas Malory, Vaklav Havel... do I need to go on?

And don't even try to accuse me of using the "argument from authority". You're the one who asked the question. (As they like to say in courtroom dramas: "Your Honor, the defending attorney opened the door!")

Nick said...

In comes Papa once again trying to sound like he knows what he's talking about!

First off, I have no problem with Aristotle being pagan. I was sure I'd posted something about that, but oh well. Sound thinking is sound thinking.

From there, you go on to the Bible, but at this point, I'm not interested in the Bible. What the Five Ways are is natural theology. The Bible could be totally wrong and the Five Ways still totally right.

Now let's look at some *cough* attempts on your part.

Papa: what they prove is that even intelligent people can believe stupid things.

Reply: Wow. Right off the boat with an ad hominem. Don't deal with the argument. Just say "Belief in God is stupid and someone intelligent did that."



Papa: omnipotent, uncaused cause, etc...defines himself into an epistemological Safe Zone where rational argument can not reach him because he just declared by fiat that it can't

Reply: Um. No. That's more Platonic with arguing by definition. Aquinas is more of an empiricist arguing from the observable to the unobservable and not arguing by definition.

Papa: arguments like "everything is preceded by something before it, I want to avoid infinite regression, so my version of sky daddy did it" are funny. The sad part is that after a few hundred years christians still think these are the best they have come up with

Reply: Except that's not Aquinas's argument. In Question 46 and article 2 of the Prima Pars, Aquinas does not have a problem with an infinite regress per accidens and says that we cannot prove with reason alone that the universe had a beginning. He's not defending the Kalam of Craig.

Nick said...

Papa: the foundation is based on a personal opinion and then special pleading.

Reply: Argument by assertion.

Papa: "Everything needs something to put it in motion, except god"

Reply: And do you know why this is?

Papa: One christian suggested, " I find the circularity of creation from nothing (be it God, the universe, or whatever that creates itself from nothing) far more virtuous than the viciousness of uncaused causes. An uncaused cause is absolutely arbitrary, it sheds the burden of responsibility, and flirts openly with fatalism. While sui generis entities have nothing to blame but themselves."

Reply: No statement of who this Christian is or why I should believe him. Note also that ex nihilo does not matter here. Aquinas would have no problem with an eternal universe. Neither do I.


Papa: The notion of an 'uncaused cause' is anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-humanity, a declaration that, at its core, is a conversation stopper [very much from the same stable as St Augustine's take on natural human curiosity being an anti-christian disease]. The 'uncaused cause' is impositional, it's arbitrariness speaks nonsense of a 'no go zone ' for science and an a priori assumption that science can never explain the creation of the universe.

Reply: Again, just a pile of assertions here. Note that there is no problem with science explaining the universe in this view. You're confusing the different causes.

Papa: And besides, Nick, who says your jesus [the 3-in-1 godhead, all indivisible, all of the same essence] is the 'uncaused cause' that created the world?

Reply: Irrelevant. The five ways are not there to prove who the first cause is but that there is one.

Now come on Papa! Give an argument already! I'd prefer to deal with that than assertions. It's really easy what you're supposed to do. You look at one of the ways and explain why it fails.

Bob Prokop said...

Nick,

You'll never get what you want from Papa. He knows full well that an intellectual match-up between him and Aquinas would be as lopsided as a my local junior high's football team taking on the Green Bay Packers! So he's forced into ad hominems, non sequiturs, and dodging the question.

Nick said...

Correct, but in the meantime he's showing his intellectual bankruptcy.

Bob Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Oh, and one more thing. Before you get the wrong idea that my last comment was an attempt to insult you, allow me to add the following:

Any intellectual match up between ME and Aquinas (or indeed, with anyone else on the list I submitted a few posts back) would be equally lopsided!

Papalinton said...

Hi Bob
"And don't even try to accuse me of using the "argument from authority". "

PapaL
But the argumentum ad populum is in full swing.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Nick
"First off, I have no problem with Aristotle being pagan. I was sure I'd posted something about that, but oh well. Sound thinking is sound thinking."

PapaL
It is somewhat of a pleasant relief Nick that we do agree on something, Of course you know that I know that you know that Thomist philosophy had to search outside its own christian base-claims to give it some semblance of intellectual rigour and pin its imagined 'bona fides' to the truths discovered by a pagan rationalist thinker, the great Aristotle. The 'five ways' is just another case of christian appropriation of a worldview developed centuries earlier by Aristotle, even before jesus was a twinkle in Mary's eye.

I'm not saying that the christian story is not a wonderful insight into how our forebears struggled with the tribulations of the human condition, but it has no more special import than the wonderful writings of Buddhism, and the creative marvels of the Hindu stories. There is a rightful place for all these accounts in the library of human civilisation.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Papalinton,
Oh, and one more thing. Before you get the wrong idea that my last comment was an attempt to insult you, ..."


Bob, of course not. I wouldn't dream of it. And I express that sincerely as my earlier apology infers.

Cheers

Bob Prokop said...

Actually, I seem to recall learning (about 40 years ago, so my memory may be faulty) that Aquinas was not trying to "pin his bona fides" to Aristotle, but on the contrary, was RESPONDING to Aristotle being "all the rage" in the 13th Century. that is a different Kettle of Fish altogether.

Nick said...

Actually, I think Papa's wrong on all counts. From the beginning, numerous Christians were going out learning all they could. Some did not think much of philosophy, like Tertullian, but they weren't anti-intellectual. Plato and Aristotle laid foundations for thinking. You don't rebuild foundations but you build on them.

Bob is partially right. The Muslims had recently recovered the works of Aristotle and translated them. Aquinas was the great unifier then. He was the one who helped show that Aristotlean thinking and Christianity were not incompatible on all points.

It's amusing that Papa brings up the Christian story. I am not arguing for the Christian story, at least not yet. I am simply making a case for theism.

In all of this, Papa has yet to show a flaw in the five ways. He has not begun to engage one of them. He doesn't have to take all of them on at once. That would be rather fruitless. I would suggest he pick one and go with it.

Papalinton said...

Jason Pratt
"It is indeed quite amazing and deeply interesting that the vast majority of people in the world believe both that some kind of deities exist ..."

PapaL
Jason, this is the response to that which I earlier alluded to as not being forgotten.

Although the OTF is the subject of this discussion, in response to your observation above, Jason, a comment in response to “ .. the vast majority of people in the world believe both that some kind of deities exist ..” seems fitting.
Even before we apply the OTF, there is the fundamental matter, an even deeper issue, that has to be addressed. That is, the question of Why? we innately think there is a god. What is it in the human make-up that predisposes us to think this way, in this manner? Why is it that we so easily assign a 'purpose' or ' biotic identity' to even the most inane of circumstances?

There has been tremendous advances in the cognitive and neuro-sciences, and allied disciplines, now out of which there is a strong and consistent and testable narrative emerging, that is providing insights into the origins of thinking and functions of the human brain, mind and mind-states. Although we are only at the very forefront of science in this area, a growing and substantive base is becoming apparent.
We see god[s] everywhere, we feel its/their presence, it [they] occupies the spaces in our mind. Why was it our ancient forbears thought the gods were angry when there was lightning, or fire swept through villages, or the droughts killed livestock? What is it that people thought one was possessed of the devil during an epileptic fit?

The simple answer is that humans evolved that way. The human species developed a theory of mind, which proved so useful for our ancestors in explaining and predicting other people's behaviours [even their gods] that has completely flooded our evolved social brain. As a result, today we overshoot our mental-state attributions to things that are, in reality, completely mindless [not in the pejorative sense; but as inanimate].

When we think about God's mental state, we invoke the human mind's evolutionary [genetic] predisposition to 'teleological intentionality' as a form of explanation. The attribution of teleo-functional causality to even the most mundane of natural occurrences comes easy to humans. It is the default state. This attribution forms part of homo sapiens suite of 'species survival' skills, in that the observance, and possible consequent flight response to the ubiquitous 'rustling in the bush', ensured that the lion or wolf did not enjoy a meal of you that day. The old adage, "he who runs away today, gets to run away another day." And indeed through the religious impulse, that same survival mechanism is invoked today, for pretty much the same reasons, although of a substantively different order. It continues to be about 'survival', about protection of existence, about eternal life, about life after death. This yearning for eternal life is a reaction to being the painfully aware and conscious species that we are, ever mindful of our own precarious grip on life and to our own 'time-limited' mortality. [cont.]

Papalinton said...

[Cont. 2]
However, these personal experiences and agonies do not make for evidence of extra-natural or supernatural entities. The research seems to be telling us that extending our sociality to a [putative] realm of supernatural beings, who in turn react socially with us, has no basis in fact. It seems the research to date is uncovering that these experiences are a functional manifestation of a 'theory of mind' that we have developed, through the evolutionary process, in which teleological intentionality formed a significant component of the survival mechanism.

That is not to say these emotions and feelings triggered by the survival instinct are not real, that they do not have deep and profound meaning. They are and they do, as sure as night follows day. Every person on this planet, both theist and non-theist alike, experiences them acutely and genuinely in varying intensities. As I pointed out in an earlier comment on this thread, it is that the traditional and long-held notion of the attribution of these responses to a [again putative] non-human creator-god is only a partial and somewhat transitional explanation, developed at a time when theology was the senior service of academic endeavour and science was but an off-shoot. The demise of all the preceding gods in human history is a reasonable and historically supported indicator of the conventional trajectory of those gods deemed surplus to requirement, in our inexorable search for meaning in life. This search continues.

Religion is an integral part of what makes us human, and without the study of religion humankind would never be custodian of the complete story. We cannot value history of the western world without knowing the influence of the christianities. We cannot appreciate and understand literature without recourse to understanding the impact of religion. But what we can do, is continue to build our understanding of what it is that makes us tick the way we do, physiologically, psychologically, sociologically, neuroscientifically, anthropologically .... etc. This area of science is yet a babe in the earlier years of its life. There is much catching up to do to redress the two thousand-plus years of, at least christian theology.

Mindful of the advent of the neuro-sciences shedding insight into how and why humans tick as they do, religion, as a product of human inventiveness and creative ingenuity is not immune from serious challenge and interrogation in the public domain. Religion is a window into explaining how the brain functions, how the metaphysics of mind and mind-states form our daily 'reality'.

Cheers

Bob Prokop said...

Whew! I think 160 comments is enough for one thread. It is really slowing down my (ancient) laptop. This is the last time I will check these comments. See you all on another discussion!!!

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Actually, I seem to recall learning (about 40 years ago, so my memory may be faulty) that Aquinas was not trying to "pin his bona fides" to Aristotle, but on the contrary, was RESPONDING to Aristotle being "all the rage" in the 13th Century. that is a different Kettle of Fish altogether."

Another twisted convolution of the facts, of truth. Lying for jesus, methinks. It was Aquinas that brought pagan Aristotelian thought into the christian tent. It was his 'piece de resistance' that fulsomely underlined his 'five ways', to give 'street cred' to christian thinking. There was such a paucity of intellectual foundational material to prop up the judeo-christian collection of mythology. It was in serious need of support, at the time when the schism of Eastern Orthodoxy put such a dent in catholic confidence. Thomas tried to work for reconciliation. To no avail. Eastern Orthodoxy was not buying it one bit. Aquinas had to do something to show the that magisterium of the catholic church was indeed the one and only true universal interpretation of scripture, and that the authority of this 'interpretative power' was founded on the 'five ways'.

And should you not believe in his perspective, Aquinas was unequivocal about the proper treatment of heretics:

In the Summa Theologica, he wrote:
With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death. On the part of the Church, however, there is 'mercy' [my quotation marks] which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but "after the first and second admonition," as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal... (Summa, II-II, Q.11, art.3.)
Heresy was against the secular law in most European countries of the 13th century. Thomas's suggestion specifically demands that heretics be handed to a "secular tribunal" rather than magisterial authority [to keep their hands clean, my interposing here Bob]. That Thomas specifically says that heretics "deserve... death" is concerning his theology, where all sinners do not deserve life ("For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"). He elaborates on his opinion regarding heresy in the next article, when he says:
In God's tribunal, those who return are always received, because God is a searcher of hearts, and knows those who return in sincerity. But the Church cannot imitate God in this, for she presumes that those who relapse after being once received, are not sincere in their return; hence she does not debar them from the way of salvation, but neither does she protect them from the sentence of death. (Summa, op. cit., art.4.)

Wonderful option, Bob, believe it or die. End of story.

Cheers

Nick said...

@Papa

Let's look at what was said and note I'm still looking for an answer on the five ways:


Papa: Another twisted convolution of the facts, of truth. Lying for jesus, methinks. It was Aquinas that brought pagan Aristotelian thought into the christian tent. It was his 'piece de resistance' that fulsomely underlined his 'five ways', to give 'street cred' to christian thinking.

Reply: False. Aquinas was studying under Albert Magus also who was a leading Aristotlean scholar of the time and quite the scientist as well. Magus saw the great promise in Aquinas that others didn't as his classmates referred to him as a dumb ox.

Papa: There was such a paucity of intellectual foundational material to prop up the judeo-christian collection of mythology.

Reply: Also false. The church had Anselm and Aquinas and numerous other thinkers and the church was keeping pagan thought alive as well. We have many pagan works today because the church preserved them.

Papa: It was in serious need of support, at the time when the schism of Eastern Orthodoxy put such a dent in catholic confidence. Thomas tried to work for reconciliation. To no avail. Eastern Orthodoxy was not buying it one bit. Aquinas had to do something to show the that magisterium of the catholic church was indeed the one and only true universal interpretation of scripture, and that the authority of this 'interpretative power' was founded on the 'five ways'.

Reply: Some bit of evidence for all of this would be nice. Aquinas in his time argued with the eastern orthodox in defense of the Filoque. I have it here in the work "The Trinity in Aquinas" where he argues that denying the Filoque can get one close to Sabellianism.


Papa: Heresy was against the secular law in most European countries of the 13th century. Thomas's suggestion specifically demands that heretics be handed to a "secular tribunal" rather than magisterial authority [to keep their hands clean, my interposing here Bob].

Reply: Not so. The Church was also the foundation for social order in the time and to go against the Church was to go against the order of the day. It was an act of treason in a sense.

That is the cause of death. It is to provide order. Does that mean it's ideal? No. Does that mean that I agree entirely? No. However, I also see it as irrelevant. I am here to defend the validity of the five ways and Aquinas's positions on other matters don't matter to that. Deal with the argument as it is.

Papalinton said...

Nick
"Reply: False. Aquinas was studying under Albert Magus also who was a leading Aristotlean scholar of the time and quite the scientist as well. Magus saw the great promise in Aquinas that others didn't as his classmates referred to him as a dumb ox.'

PapaL
Two things:
. True, Magus was a scholar of Aristotelian thought. But he never made the link to christianity that Aquinas did. Indeed there were many scholars of Aristotle's thinking, not so much as to advocate his perspective, but rather to use pagan thinking as a foil to counter their truth-claim against that of catholicism. The premise being, all pagan thought is false when compared to christian thought. This perspective included all other competing perspectives that drove other forms of religious thought, such as Mithraism, Bahai, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Scandinavian and Nordish gods etc etc.

. It was Aquinas who made that first direct link, which formed the foundation for his 'five ways'. Aquinas' classmates may have considered him a 'dumb ox' and perhaps he was or wasn't. The catholic church don't think so. But then being a 'dumb ox' is not a limiting factor in the study of theology.

Nick
"Reply: Also false. The church had Anselm and Aquinas and numerous other thinkers and the church was keeping pagan thought alive as well. We have many pagan works today because the church preserved them."

PapaL
From the same reasons I enumerated earlier - as a comprehensive stockpile of competing religious claims against which (1) christians theologians were kept mightily busy churning out refutations for a rainy day in support of their particular brand of woo, pretty much as Apologetics does to this day; and (2) as any good strategic thiner knows, 'keep your enemies close in order that you are able to anticipate their every move. It certainly wasn't for any altruistic reason for preserving treasured human artifacts.

Nick
"Reply: Some bit of evidence for all of this would be nice. Aquinas in his time argued with the eastern orthodox in defense of the Filoque. I have it here in the work "The Trinity in Aquinas" where he argues that denying the Filoque can get one close to Sabellianism"

PapaL
And the Eastern Orthodox [EO] weren't going to buy it one bit, right? The EO would rather follow an aspect of Sabellianism than trinitarianism, which they saw as nonsense. Modalists, i.e. EO, note that the only number ascribed to God in the Holy Bible is One and that there is no inherent threeness ascribed to God explicitly in scripture. The number three is never mentioned in relation to God in scripture, which of course is the number that is central to the word "Trinity". The only possible exceptions to this are the Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and the Comma Johanneum, which many regard as a spurious text passage in First John (1 John 5:7) known primarily from the King James Version and some versions of the Textus Receptus but not included in modern critical texts.
So the notion of trinity as a character trait of god is simply a catholic add-on which EO took to be nonsense. [cont.]

Papalinton said...

[Cont..2]

Nick
" I am here to defend the validity of the five ways and Aquinas's positions on other matters don't matter to that. Deal with the argument as it is."

PapaL
What validity? Just because you believe it, doesn't make it fact, Nick.

In 1277, the bishop of France, Etienne Tempier, who had issued the condemnation of 1270 issued another, more extensive condemnation. One aim of this condemnation was to clarify that God's absolute power transcended any principles of logic that Aristotle or Averroes might place on it. More specifically, it contained a list of 219 propositions that the bishop had determined to violate the omnipotence of God, and included in this list were twenty Thomistic propositions. Their inclusion badly damaged Thomas's reputation for many years. His star only shone well after this incident some 50-100 years after his death. By then, much water had gone under the bridge and most theologians in positions of authority had forgotten the link Aquinas made to pagan Aristotelian thought, and considered Aquinas' borrowings as simply 'of their own making'.

The fifth of the 'five ways', the teleological implications, are considered in the above post to Jason Pratt.

Cheers

Nick said...

Papa: PapaL
Two things:
. True, Magus was a scholar of Aristotelian thought. But he never made the link to christianity that Aquinas did. Indeed there were many scholars of Aristotle's thinking, not so much as to advocate his perspective, but rather to use pagan thinking as a foil to counter their truth-claim against that of catholicism. The premise being, all pagan thought is false when compared to christian thought. This perspective included all other competing perspectives that drove other forms of religious thought, such as Mithraism, Bahai, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Scandinavian and Nordish gods etc etc.

Reply: Some evidence would be nice. In fact, Aquinas and others relied heavily on Muslim philosophers, one even being referred to as "The Commentator." (Note that when the Summa says "The Philosopher" it means Aristotle.)

Papa:It was Aquinas who made that first direct link, which formed the foundation for his 'five ways'. Aquinas' classmates may have considered him a 'dumb ox' and perhaps he was or wasn't. The catholic church don't think so. But then being a 'dumb ox' is not a limiting factor in the study of theology.

Reply: Actually, he was called that most likely because he was heavyset and very quiet. I recommend Chesterton's biography of Aquinas. Quite excellent. Also, the Catholic Church had their problems with Aquinas for awhile. He was under suspicion of teaching heresy.




Papa: From the same reasons I enumerated earlier - as a comprehensive stockpile of competing religious claims against which (1) christians theologians were kept mightily busy churning out refutations for a rainy day in support of their particular brand of woo, pretty much as Apologetics does to this day; and (2) as any good strategic thiner knows, 'keep your enemies close in order that you are able to anticipate their every move. It certainly wasn't for any altruistic reason for preserving treasured human artifacts.

Reply: It certainly wasn't? You know this how? In fact, I see no reason it could not be that very reason. They also did treat their apologetics very seriously. The medievals had an excellent rule for debate. You were not allowed to refute your opponent in public unless you repeated his view to him in your own words to his satisfaction.




Papa: And the Eastern Orthodox [EO] weren't going to buy it one bit, right? The EO would rather follow an aspect of Sabellianism than trinitarianism, which they saw as nonsense. Modalists, i.e. EO, note that the only number ascribed to God in the Holy Bible is One and that there is no inherent threeness ascribed to God explicitly in scripture. The number three is never mentioned in relation to God in scripture, which of course is the number that is central to the word "Trinity". The only possible exceptions to this are the Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and the Comma Johanneum, which many regard as a spurious text passage in First John (1 John 5:7) known primarily from the King James Version and some versions of the Textus Receptus but not included in modern critical texts.
So the notion of trinity as a character trait of god is simply a catholic add-on which EO took to be nonsense. [cont.]

Reply: Um. No. They agreed with the Trinity. They just didn't agree with the Filoque. I'm not saying Aquinas thought it was Sabellian, but that it led to Sabellianism.

Everything else, I will deal with tomorrow.

Papalinton said...

Nick
"In fact, Aquinas and others relied heavily on Muslim philosophers, one even being referred to as "The Commentator."

PapaL
Are you now saying that roman catholicism, through Aquinas, was also shaped by Islamic thought. I would say that is a very fair bet. Catholicism indiscriminately appropriated and subsumed all and sundry to give some intellectual form and muscle to the basic and intellectually lightweight story of the jesus myth. That is why theists say, jesus can only be accessed through personal revelation. All you need is 'faith' And as we know, science has proof without certainty, religion has certainty without proof.

Nick
"Also, the Catholic Church had their problems with Aquinas for awhile. He was under suspicion of teaching heresy."

PapaL
Yes. Funny about the fickle nature of 'heresy'. Heresy is in the eye of the beholder. And how the mighty and strong in church politics used it so ruthlessly, so 'mercilessly'.

Nick
"Reply: It certainly wasn't? You know this how? In fact, I see no reason it could not be that very reason.[altruistic preservation of pagan literature]

PapaL
It was only centuries later than the vatican realised it had inadvertently protected pagan literary sources. There was no original intentional cause to do so.

Nick
"Reply: Um. No. They agreed with the Trinity. They just didn't agree with the Filoque. I'm not saying Aquinas thought it was Sabellian, but that it led to Sabellianism."

PapaL
No they didn't.

Accusations of Modalism in the Western Trinitarian theology
Eastern Orthodoxy's Gregory Palamas in his defense of Hesychasm accused Barlaam of treating God conceptually this way putting pagan philosophers over the saints and prophets who through revelation and not logical thought came to know God. The knowledge of God by the Eastern Orthodox church is not arrived at by a form of rational theology but rather by illumination (theoria) as a stage of development in the process of theosis. Which again goes against the Roman Catholic theologians validation of theology using the Pagan philosopher Aristotle's Metaphysical and scholastic arguments such as actus and potentia to rationalize God. The West does this through what the East calls an incompleteness as a form of theology called kataphatic theology. The East does not use kataphatic statements about God to validate God since to use positive statements about God goes against God's very being (ontology) which is apophatic and therefore incomprehensible and not rational.

Re Filioque: Eastern Orthodox charge that the Eastern and Western churches have different approaches and understanding of the Trinity. St Augustine's theology and, by extension, that of Thomas Aquinas (as in the western Mediterranean on the Trinity) are not generally accepted in the Orthodox Church.

Cheers

Nick said...

Papa: In 1277, the bishop of France, Etienne Tempier, who had issued the condemnation of 1270 issued another, more extensive condemnation. One aim of this condemnation was to clarify that God's absolute power transcended any principles of logic that Aristotle or Averroes might place on it. More specifically, it contained a list of 219 propositions that the bishop had determined to violate the omnipotence of God, and included in this list were twenty Thomistic propositions. Their inclusion badly damaged Thomas's reputation for many years. His star only shone well after this incident some 50-100 years after his death. By then, much water had gone under the bridge and most theologians in positions of authority had forgotten the link Aquinas made to pagan Aristotelian thought, and considered Aquinas' borrowings as simply 'of their own making'.

Reply: Excuse me. Are you capable of thinking on your own? Here's what I found taking what you said and putting it in a search.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas#Condemnation_of_1277_and_subsequent_canonization

There was no indication in there that you were cutting and pasting from another site. In fact, it is Wiki that you are using. I, on the other hand, am going entirely from memory, but I have the books behind me if I need to.

I'll address this point when I see an indication that you can think on your own. I can assure you I detest intellectual dishonesty, such as passing off someone else's thought and words as if they were your own.

Also, because I see the five ways as valid does not make them valid, true. However, if your opponent sees them as valid, it is up to you to show why you think they are not.

Nick said...

And as for your piece on EO, well look what I found again:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic%E2%80%93Eastern_Orthodox_theological_differences

There you have been accusing us of not knowing what we're talking about and you're cutting and pasting from Wikipedia.

I still want a real answer on the five ways and when you can indicate to me that you can think on your own without cutting and pasting from Wikipedia, let me know.

Papalinton said...

Nick
I'm glad you scour. I do not deny using Wiki; it is among many sites that are a wonderful source of information. But you classically obfuscate.
The manner of my reporting the fundamental import of the message doesn't detract from its veracity. Indeed I lifted it exactly as it was written without attempt to mask or disguise. Your version of woo simply does not hold up under gaze of evidentiary investigation. As you so proudly tout, you memorise a lot of stuff in your head. Memorising does not a sage make. It is cogency of the argument offered and not the physical source of its information, that is the substance of the argument. Your continued bleating about the veracity of the five ways is de rigeur for theists.

Face it, the move is inexorable, Nick, as science and related disciplines push back the christian myth, and not through direct research i might add but incidentally, to gently place the myth back among the other great stories of its time; such as the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead', the legends of Mithraism, of the Greek and Roman pantheons, of the wonderful Mesopotamian fables. When science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s], that shrinks the factual base on which Apologetics is built, invariably it is the religiose that cry foul.
But alternatives to the fallacious christian worldview are now open for discussion in the public domain. Indeed there is a billboard or a bus advert, or the media, in television, magazines, journals, radio, now openly letting us know that 'one can be good without god'.

You know that I know that you know, but hasn't the courage to acknowledge it, is religion is largely social, in both senses of the word. It is an activity that humans do together; it is created, maintained, and perpetuated by human group behaviour. [It is a cultural construct] It is also social in the sense that it extends that sociality beyond the human world, where a believer freely interacts with a spectral numen which in turn putatively engages socially with him. This activity-engaging sociality is the single common thread that binds all deity forms of religions, from the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Judaism, and includes christianity right among them. Christianity is no less different to any other religion in which talking to gods, making them dinners, toasting on wine, asking for assistance, is the done thing. Surely you can see the blindingly obvious?
[cont.]

Papalinton said...

[Cont. 2]

This form of god [the jesus god] is simply unsustainable as veritas and should not be confused or conflated with the god of philosophy. The god of philosophy is a metaphysical construct. Metaphysics is a mind-map. As such it does not distinguish between fact and fallacy, both are equally viable propositions within metaphysics. Generally, theists conflate the metaphysics of theology with that of science. What theists mistakingly intone as 'faith' by scientists is 'trust', in that there is that element of metaphysical conception upon which there is 'trust' that for a proposition hypothesised, the inferred basis of known elements, facts, laws and/or theorems will produce a predicted outcome, and that that outcome will be reproducible. If not, the proposition is thrown out.
'Faith' of the religious, on the other hand, relies on a metaphysical conception for which there is no basis in fact, or proofs or elements that are testable. One must just 'believe'. As one wag put it on another site, "If you decide to pull God out of the realm of metaphysics and posit it in the natural world, then I am just as valid to pull "magic ninjas" out of there and for every reason to give me for not believing in my ninjas can be used to justify a non-belief in your God."

The jesus/christ legend must be placed in the same category as Apollo, Osiris, Zeus, Mithra, Apollonius of Tyana. Such a move will rightly position the bible among the greatest of human literature, one of the greatest peeks [and I mean look into, behind the scene] into the workings of human creativity and imagination; a rightful place along with the Iliad, the Odessey, among the Shakespeares. Nothing more, nothing less.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Nick

"Also, because I see the five ways as valid does not make them valid, true. However, if your opponent sees them as valid, it is up to you to show why you think they are not."

Yes, I can see where your belief in jesus comes from. It is called convoluted logic.

You say you believe in the 'five ways' and it is *me* that has to disprove? Yeah, convoluted logic. Actually that is an oxymoron; convoluted logic means no logic at all. Therefore there is no logic in your proposition, Nick. Indeed, it was you that actually raised the subject of that Thomist nonsense, it is up to you to convince others in your declaration, if you wish to bring them along with you. You have to convince them, not yourself. And so far, your effort has been abysmal.

It is idiotic to piously stand there and shout, "I BELIEVE IN AQUINAS' FIVE WAYS.' 'PROVE ME WRONG.' Theists have been doing that for millennia, and for those that disbelieve a bout on the rack, perhaps a 'divinely inspired' strangling, or being the centre-piece in a big outdoor barbeque was the go. Well you can't do that anymore, Nick. Religion was at least dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era. Now, the law says murder for heresy or blasphemy is a no-no.
So where is the power of your brand of woo, apart from the indoctrination of the very young?

Cheers

Nick said...

Papa: Nick
I'm glad you scour. I do not deny using Wiki; it is among many sites that are a wonderful source of information. But you classically obfuscate.

Reply: No. I treat dishonesty like dishonesty. People like Bob and myself and others here have done the necessary reading in the topic of medieval philosophy. You haven't and you did the exact thing I have accused many Christians of doing with their pastors. Just hearing something and not bothering to digest it. You just puke it out again.

Papa: The manner of my reporting the fundamental import of the message doesn't detract from its veracity. Indeed I lifted it exactly as it was written without attempt to mask or disguise.

Reply: And you have no shame to being caught plagiarizing which is even worse! When you were referencing David Eller, you quoted him and told where it was. This time you didn't do that. Why? You've been caught in over your head and are trying to save face for not doing your homework because you can't dare admit a theist might know what he's talking about. You could learn something from Tony Hoffman. When he disagreed with me on the Five Ways, he actually gave reasons and interacted with me and I got to interact with him. I can respect someone like that. For someone who commits intellectual theft, I have no respect.

Papa: Your version of woo simply does not hold up under gaze of evidentiary investigation. As you so proudly tout, you memorise a lot of stuff in your head. Memorising does not a sage make.

Reply: Here's the difference. I've done the necessary reading to have something to memorize. You just did cut and paste. You got caught in a topic you knew nothing about and had to save face. If I need to check on something in the medieval period, I have actual books on the topic here.

And you'd better bet I'm quite pleased with the work that I've done to come to where I am and know that I don't have to rely on Wiki, the worst source that there is.

Papa: It is cogency of the argument offered and not the physical source of its information, that is the substance of the argument. Your continued bleating about the veracity of the five ways is de rigeur for theists.

Reply: And you know what? You haven't countered the argument at all. You haven't even looked at one of them. The arguments are there. I'm waiting for you to say something other than "Aquinas wanted to kill heretics!" and "It's from Aristotle!" We generally call what I'm requesting an argument.

Papa: Face it, the move is inexorable, Nick, as science and related disciplines push back the christian myth, and not through direct research i might add but incidentally, to gently place the myth back among the other great stories of its time; such as the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead', the legends of Mithraism, of the Greek and Roman pantheons, of the wonderful Mesopotamian fables. When science finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s], that shrinks the factual base on which Apologetics is built, invariably it is the religiose that cry foul.
But alternatives to the fallacious christian worldview are now open for discussion in the public domain. Indeed there is a billboard or a bus advert, or the media, in television, magazines, journals, radio, now openly letting us know that 'one can be good without god'.

Reply: Yet I asked you to show such an occurrence where this has happened and all I got were crickets. Still, I don't see why I should bother engaging you since you've shown me you're intellectually dishonest and lazy.

Nick said...

Papa: You know that I know that you know, but hasn't the courage to acknowledge it, is religion is largely social, in both senses of the word. It is an activity that humans do together; it is created, maintained, and perpetuated by human group behaviour. [It is a cultural construct] It is also social in the sense that it extends that sociality beyond the human world, where a believer freely interacts with a spectral numen which in turn putatively engages socially with him. This activity-engaging sociality is the single common thread that binds all deity forms of religions, from the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Judaism, and includes christianity right among them. Christianity is no less different to any other religion in which talking to gods, making them dinners, toasting on wine, asking for assistance, is the done thing. Surely you can see the blindingly obvious?

Reply: Oh? You think I know it and it's blindingly obvious?

Well tell you what. You can come to theologyweb.com and I can set up a debate in the advanced debate section on the five ways of Thomas Aquinas and we can have a real debate on whether he did demonstrate that God exists.

If you're so sure and think it's blindingly obvious, you should have no trouble whatsoever agreeing to that.

Unless you're willing to back your talk, I see no reason to continue with someone who can only cut and paste from Wiki.

Papalinton said...

Hi Nick
"Well tell you what. You can come to theologyweb.com and I can set up a debate in the advanced debate section on the five ways of Thomas Aquinas and we can have a real debate on whether he did demonstrate that God exists. "

PapaL
Where is he then, Nick. Tell him to come out from skulking behind whatever he is skulking behind. Parody, mirth and mockery are the only tools that seems to get Him or his Henchmen (e.g. you) upset. Tell me, is he the same god that Pat Robertson said caused the earthquake in Haiti because the Haitians made a pack with Satan?

Tell me again, where I can find him?

I plotted an historical record of god[s]. They started out as small village-bound creatures and over time morphed into the grandiose one of them all. Of course, I'm not sure which one it is, Allah, jesus or one of his other persona, or the Hindu one, or Chthulu, or any other? Each one has a clan of hangers-on.
From a historical perspective... ...gods started out small. Any decent book on the history of religions will show you this. Indeed it only takes a split moment for any rational and logical person to know that religions start with one, I'll say it again, with a membership of ONE person. For christianity, it supposedly started with the jesus himself. The he went out looking for a whole bag of gullible suckers to test his charismatic self. Just like Jim Jones did. Just like David Coresh did.
Unfortunatelt, for human kind, the last christian died on the cross. After that we ended up having to contend with a syndicate called the Catholic Church, which in itself split into thousands of little protection rackets around the world. And humanity is still paying the huge price for this folly.

Indeed I have plotted a little potted history of the story of religion:

First it was spirits and demons and gods in the rocks and the trees, rivers and sea.
As inquisitive man approached those trees and climbed the big rock, gods had shifted

Then it was spirits and demons and gods just over there out of sight in the next valley.
As inquisitive man went just over there into the next valley, the gods had shifted.

Then the gods resided on the highest mountain.
As inquisitive man climbed that highest mountain, the gods had shifted

Then the gods made their home in the sky
When inquisitive man flew into the sky and looked around, the gods had moved house.

Then god moved to all points in the universe.
As inquisitive man began to search and explore the universe, god had shifted

Then god moved outside the universe to reside in .... open space outside of space, into .... nothing [the 'uncaused cause' or the 'unmoved mover']
But when inquisitive man began looking through Hubble.... they saw nothing

Now god has moved back inside, back into your head. Now, he can only be accessed through personal revelation, through a religious experience, through transcendence.

Still, scientists must go where the science leads them, relativity, M-theory, multiverses; even inside your head, the neuroscientific study of the brain, mind and mind-states.
And still he hides away.

There is a story unfolding, Nick, but I'm not sure it is the one you are expecting, particularly if you append that anthropomorphic, finger-tweaking fine tuner, natural law violator and mendicant, portrayed as the Abrahamic phantasm.

Cheers

Nick said...

I've issued my challenge Papa. I see you're not ready to accept it but want to hide behind plagiarism and emotional ranting instead of really debating the issue.

When you have enough guts to part ways with Wikipedia, the abomination that causes misinformation, let me know. Until then, I don't debate a plagiarizer who's too intellectually lazy and dishonest to come up with his own arguments due to an ego that says he can't admit a theist is right about something.

Jason Pratt said...

Incidentally, Nick is correct that the Eastern Orthodox accept the doctrines of the Trinity up to the point of the Filioque, which they regard as an unauthorized addition that wasn’t properly debated and accepted in Ecumenical Council.

Students of Christian theology are typically very well aware that the Eastern Orthodox, like the Roman Catholic and most Protestant communions, accepts the Nicene Creed as formulated by the Constantinopolitan Council. That was back before the split between the RCC and the EOx.

(You may be thinking of the Church of the East, aka the Nestorian Church; but they are also trinitarians who, in effect, accept the same positions, the difference being more of a stress on the two natures of Christ. The Coptic and Ethiopian churches also basically accept the same positions, the difference being more of a stress on the deity over the humanity of Christ, though not denying the humanity. The disagreements between the three sides are pretty subtle, and focused on Christology, much like the Filioque debate between the RCC and the EOx.)

The Wiki entry you quoted (without attribution) was about how the EOx tends to get there, compared to how the RCC tends to get there. That’s accurate enough as a rough generalization, although there are exceptions. (I would argue that the EOx aren’t really getting there by apophatic theology, but rather by kataphatic theology, too; but they certainly lean hard on apophatic theology, including for self-defense; a practice that keeps me from joining up with them.)

Also, I have to say I have trouble believing you, when you talk on the one hand about how Christianity should be put on a shelf to respect its contributions to human culture and advancement along with other religions, but then you suddenly shift to colorful insults as though such things are beneath derision regardless of the religions (but obviously including Christianity and its variants.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Well, the thread is about to scroll off the bottom of Victor’s page, so it’s time to catch up with it (if I can!) before it drops out of public view.

PapaL: {{Even before we apply the OTF, there is the fundamental matter, an even deeper issue, that has to be addressed.}}

I wouldn’t say that the variant proliferation of religions is ”the” fundamental deeper issue that has to be addressed prior to the OTF.

I would say that the fundamental deeper issue is whether or not I must assume, literally for sake of argument, that my opponent has the same possibility I must assume I myself have: that of being free enough from mere reaction to environmental stimuli to responsibly evaluate our own and other people’s beliefs. I find that I am required to assume this for purposes of presenting a rational argument to anyone, including to any opponent, which I expect them to judge (and so agree with, nominally.)

There are logical corollaries to such an assumption, if the assumption is true. But atheism isn’t one of them. (Nor agnosticism either.)

PapaL: {{There has been tremendous advances in the cognitive and neuro-sciences, and allied disciplines, now out of which there is a strong and consistent and testable narrative emerging, that is providing insights into the origins of thinking and functions of the human brain, mind and mind-states. Although we are only at the very forefront of science in this area, a growing and substantive base is becoming apparent.}}

Yes; and one corollary to that base, is that reactions, no matter how numerous and complexly they are arranged, do not thereby become actions. The question then must be addressed, with an initial inference in favor of scepticism, whether the claims humans intrinsically make for ourselves fit into this paradigm, and if not then what most reasonably has to be denied?--intrinsic claims of human mentality, or a worldview set where reactions and only reactions exist?

This is a topic that exercises scientists as well as philosophers, both religious and irreligious, because one of the answer options points toward theism being true instead of atheism. If theism is rejected on prior grounds (if there can be any such logically prior grounds), or by sheer assertion, then another option has to be taken instead.

This distinction cannot be easily thrown away either. For example:

PapaL: {{The simple answer is that humans evolved that way. The human species developed a theory of mind...}}

Natural selection operating on random copy-errors might explain an instinctive behavior of what amounts to “feeling-of-person-over-there”. (Or maybe that wouldn’t explain it either!--since the relevant biophysical processes are galactically more complex than might be expected to occur from any series of randomly undirected copy-errors of genomes which managed to survive being repaired or rejected by other relevant biophysical processes.) But that is quite different from people rationally developing (and maybe passing along) theories of mind.

On one hand, you are certainly talking about “evolutionary (i.e. genetic) predispositions”, in other words automatic knee-jerk reactions to stimuli (micro-environmental stimuli in this case, though with referent projection to the macro-environment, the end result being that we feel like trees should be dryads etc.)

On the other hand you’re talking about theories of mind, where mere feeling is produced this way and then people draw rational (though mistaken) inferences from the feelings as data. The mere feeling isn’t a theory; the theory-making is qualitatively different from the mere feeling.

Yet if “the evolutionary process” is the sole corporate cause of the theory, then the theory must be produced by the evolutionary process. And if atheism is true, the evolutionary process is categorically distinct from teleo-functional causality.

(Part 2 of 2 next)

Jason Pratt said...

For what it's worth, I haven't found any indication yet that PapaL was quoting from anywhere other than a couple of pages of Jesse Bering's The Belief Instinct; although I did find out that most of what looked like discussion was posted by Papa six days earlier (in pretty much the form presented here) as a comment to a First Things article on Hawking's recent cosmology. (A topic that has very much less to do with what he wrote than where he posted it here.)

It is of course possible that he composed most of what he replied with, minus some unattributed copy-paste paragraphs from Jesse Bering, and even that he did so as a reply to that throwaway line that I myself said I wouldn't use as an argument against atheism, then posted it to First Things six days before getting around to posting it here where he originally intended it to go.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Weird... I thought Part 2 of 2 had posted already... oh well. Picking up from where I left off at the end of part 1:

This leads to what I have elsewhere called a 6=16 paradigm. Theories (including about evolutionary process) must be distinctly rational compared to non-rational behaviors (such as mere automatic genetically imposed feelings); but theories must be foundationally non-and-only-non-rational behaviors, and so part of (and produced by) evolutionary processes which are neither rationally designed nor foundationally rational in themselves. Real teleological intentionality must exist for theories to be theories per se; but real teleological intentionality must be only a projected illusion at best, if our behaviors are only non-intentional in quality.

PapaL (or JesseB rather): {{As a result, today we overshoot our mental-state attributions to things that are, in reality, completely mindless [not in the pejorative sense; but as inanimate].}}

I am quite willing to agree that this happens, and that this (once in place) could and would contribute strongly to both the scope and variety of religious belief.

I will note, though, the principle application here has some extreme relevance to explanations of human mentality overall (not merely in regard to the perception that God and/or gods exist.)

After all, you seem to acknowledge that we are “a painfully aware and conscious species”, in a fashion that leads to our creation of religion as a solace for this painful consciousness (unlike other animals who might also be conscious). But a line, quite literally for purposes of argument, has to be drawn on how far the “attribution of teleo-functional causality to even the most mundane of natural occurrences” can be explained away by false inferences from instinctive impressions. You draw that line in your own favor every day (and have repeatedly done so in this thread when robustly claiming to be a rational instead of an irrational thinker, sufficiently free from various oppressions to draw your own conclusions); you’re drawing it in my favor insofar as you are presenting your ideas as an argument for me to reply to (rather than as the equivalent of electrical gas that I may or may not fluoresce to); and you’re effectively drawing it when you talk about being a specially aware and conscious species.

John’s application of the OTF, at least the first part of it, runs entirely on affirming this distinction, too. But affirming that distinction carries huge ramifications, which principally challenge the metaphysical precepts of atheism.

PapaL: {{Mindful of the advent of the neuro-sciences shedding insight into how and why humans tick as they do, religion, as a product of human inventiveness and creative ingenuity is not immune from serious challenge and interrogation in the public domain.}}

True; and neither is atheism immune from serious challenge and interrogation in the public domain. Also due, among other reasons, to those advances of the neuro-sciences which we are expected to be mindful of--mindful in a way qualitatively distinct from having our minds full of an instinctive feeling pressuring us to behave a particular way.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

JRP: {{I haven't found any indication yet that PapaL was quoting from anywhere other than...}}

I mean in his two-part reply to me, of course.

Papalinton said...

Hi Jason
It takes a theist, and it is de rigeur for him/her, to throw out all that does not fit within the narrowest confines of theistic thinking. Theism is humankind's natural mind trap. There is no arguing with one so infected with the 'god virus' [Darrel Ray] and is very much in keeping with 'the god impulse' as described in neuroscientist, Kevin Nelson's new book, "The God Impulse: Is Religion Hardwired into the Brain?" As the blurb says, the book offers the first comprehensive, empirically-tested, peer-reviewed examination of the reasons we are capable of near-death experience, out-of-body experience, and other mystical states.
‘Faith,' which is predicated on belief, [in other words, I believe, therefore I have faith in that belief] is a perfectly natural human emotion, just as love, happiness, sadness, excitement. 'Faith' is the emotive element in a belief. It is the emotive feeling of comfort and goodness and right, that fortifies a particular belief. But as we all know all, emotions can be so easily misguided and misdirected for any number of reasons. How many times have people absolutely been besotted with believing they love someone, [who they think will return that love] only to find that it is misdirected?
Is there any reason to think that such a proof of 'faith' would require knowledge of why we are biologically inclined to believe? Yes there is. We are biologically/evolutionarily inclined to believe. This is the default state, regardless of whether something is true or not. Indeed the default state of belief, is part of that survival instinct that I mentioned in the previous post, Jason. If you saw that 'rustling in the bushes', as a hunter-gatherer, you have to make a choice 100% of the time, one way or the other; is it dangerous [a lion or tiger] or is it not dangerous [just the wind]? Our default state of belief screams out, "Not sure, best solution, Retreat." This decision is pretty much 100% positive you will survive at least another day to propagate the species, that is, have children. If however, you took the chance, despite all your instinctive intuition to run away, and went over to investigate that 'rustling in the bushes', there is a chance you will be that lion's meal for her cubs.
Belief in a religion is the easy step that one can take. And it is the cheap and easy option, if we as a species, continue to be driven by our primal instinctual evolutionary makeup. Humanity has come a long way in the past few thousand years and our knowledge base, especially the sciences, is ever increasingly, defining a better way of how we should respond to constraining, managing and using this primitive basal instinct to our advantage. A recourse to religion only takes us back to relying on ancient remedies and strategies. That is a retrograde step, a walk backwards in time, to run away. It is the easy way out of having to deal with the big questions of life, our existence, our cosmos. The answers are already there, chiseled in stone, indiscriminately agglomerated [as theism is additive in function], whether they are true or not, it doesn't matter. Religion is the natural survival 'running away' reflex that we possess from our evolutionary past. It is what keeps us turning our head to the rear. [cont.]

Papalinton said...

[Cont. 2]

Only education and training, discipline, and greater knowledge and understanding of what makes us tick will gives us the strategies and strength to strongly resist this primitive urge to run away, to seek comfort against the great inexplicables of life. It will give us the strength and opportunity to truly understand who and what we are, as living breathing beings, without constantly checking in the rear-view mirror of 1stC CE thinking. And it gives us enormous opportunity to explore our world, and universe as never before. A turn away from our old village-based religions will gives us the never-before opportunity to explore ourselves, our world, our universe, without preconditions, without presuppositions, without blinkers.
The rest is for you to decide for yourself.
Cheers

Jason Pratt said...

Papa: {{There is no arguing with one so infected with the 'god virus' [Darrel Ray]}}

I think it is interesting that my approach (leading to theism, and eventually to trinitarian theism by the way) involves having to grant the same assumptions of rational responsibility for my opponents that I find I have to grant about myself, and not dismissing them as being unworthy of discourse thanks to them clearly having a crippled God Module in their head (for example); yet your approach (defending if not leading to atheism) is that there is no arguing with someone "infected" with a "god virus".

Does someone infected with a god virus, thus only instinctively reacting to threats in their environment in an irrational manner (as implied by the terminology, as well as your discussion of relative approaches afterward), not only carefully consider their opponents' strengths and weaknesses, but also acknowledge the rational personhood of the opponent?

Or is there no use arguing with someone who, when threatened, retreats away from even trying to discuss the threat, launching assertive attacks against the basic rationality and even personhood of the opponent instead?

And which of those did you just do in reply to me, after I briefly analyzed some implications of your (and my) rationality?

{{'Faith' is the emotive element in a belief.}}

Whereas, I treat faith as being a rational action by a responsible person consequent to their establishment of belief--and I still treat it that way when considering the faiths of other people, whether the religious (including among non-Christians) or the irreligious.

Once again, my position hinges on respecting other people (including you) as being more than only teleological illusions. You don't consider yourself to be only a teleological illusion; and the authors you reference don't consider themselves to be only teleological illusions (and treat at least some of their readers the same way).

But of course there are strong logical corollaries to the existence of something that isn't only a teleological illusion. The authors you're banking on are demonstrably not taking those corollaries into account. Instead they're training you to treat people who rationally respect other people as being deluded for doing so--if that respect for people somehow involves a consequential logical challenge to their rejection of theism.

You're a human being like me; so I know that in principle you're capable of being self-critical about your position and the position of your current allies. I'm not asking you to throw away the serious strengths of such people. I'm only asking you to look harder at the logic of what they're saying.

Running a bit over, so Part 2 of 2 next...

Jason Pratt said...

Part 2 of 2

PapaL: {{It is the emotive feeling of comfort and goodness and right, that fortifies a particular belief. But as we all know all, emotions can be so easily misguided and misdirected for any number of reasons.}}

Which is why I don't put any more stock in such feelings than you do. I have no use I can think of for merely instinctive faith; nor do I deny such feelings exist (though I wouldn’t call it faith).

On the other hand, you yourself agree that not all 'faith' is merely an instinctual feeling of no rational importance in itself--when you want to talk seriously about the faith of the people you believe (and have faith) in.

But the fact that we both agree that people can act in such rational faith (the difference being that I don't restrict such rational faith to only my own side of the aisle, but also acknowledge it for my opponents), has huge logical ramifications about the reality you and I inhabit, if people do (or even can) overcome mere instinct to supply something qualitatively superior to mere instinct instead (even if perhaps also using instincts rationally, as also often happens.)

If we can choose to do something other than react irrationally to the rustle in the grass, then the fact we can do so is itself major evidence that ought to be incorporated into our understanding of reality.

But only one of us is really looking at the implications of that fact, so far: a fact intrinsically implied by John's "Outsider Test" itself.

(Otherwise you’d be discussing what I actually wrote in my previous round of replies, instead of ignoring everything I wrote and pretending I was doing, saying and believing something else--while basically preaching a sermon at me.)

JRP

Papalinton said...

Hi Jason
You seem a very nice person. Articulate, level-headed, smart, kind and indeed, respectful of others. I certainly do not envisage you as teleological illusion. if I came over to your place, i could touch you, talk with you, and even have a game of touch-footie with you in the back garden. And deep in me, I wish that I could [mindful of our geographic distance separation]. This is the world we live in, real, wonderful, substantial, natural. And your noting:
"Once again, my position hinges on respecting other people (including you) as being more than only teleological illusions. You don't consider yourself to be only a teleological illusion; and the authors you reference don't consider themselves to be only teleological illusions (and treat at least some of their readers the same way)" indicates we are as one on this perspective. It is the next bit, extending into that envelope, the 'real' and substantial' existence of an extra-natural, a supernatural entity. Not only do you extend that teleological reality to a metaphysic contrivance, but this contrivance can actually perform physical act, over-ride natural laws, at will, indiscriminately. Not only do you extend that numen into the reality tent, you teach others that this fictive is an actual entity. [Does it not occur to you, Jason, why it is that 5+ billion people in the world, including me, will either not have a bar of this proposition, or don't care, or consider it nonsense or false, or simply have never heard of it, despite it being claimed as the 'one and only true religion'?]

This is where it becomes so sticky and your 'supporting' evidence, as simply too incredulous, Jason. The only 'evidence' for your claim is cast within the words of 66 booklets written at the dawn of recorded human history. Beside incalculable litres of ink spilt, and that which constitutes all forms of Apologetics and the countless hours of philosophising, not one jot of supporting evidence has been added to the quantum of theological argument. The principle reason for this is that the 66 booklets of judeo-christian writings, that embody the total sum of christian scholarship, can never by 'divine edict', repeat, can never be replaced or improved upon by anything remotely considered 'contemporary', something fit and more relevant for a modern setting of humanity sociality. The golden age of christian research and development, the creative and imaginative surge of human ingenuity of the christian persuasion began and ended in the period 800BCE-100CE. From 325BCE at the convention of Nicea, this scholarship was chiseled in stone, at the canonising of the texts accepted for inclusion. Which I might add was decided upon by fallible creatures.

This period marked the start of the next stage of christian scholarship. But this period was not about improving, or building on the knowledge extant. [That had already reached its pinnacle in the 66 booklets, never to be tampered with ever again.] It was the period of Apologetics, a period of fitting a square peg into a round hole, a period of attempting to make sense of the innumerable contradictions, inconsistencies, dichotomous doctrines, forgeries, pseudepigrapha, polemics, interpolations, all of which contributed to enormous cognitive dissonance, the amelioration of which is euphemistically termed in Apologetics as 'harmonisation', or 'syncretism'.

By contrast, a scientist would no more refer to Galileo, to put a spacecraft in orbit around the moons of Jupiter, although, after all, he discovered them.
[cont.]

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Hi Jason
I too, smile at the finality of my previous comment. but as they say, "Never say never".

Apropos to my previous post, all that you profess, offer is circumscribed in one tome, comprising 66 booklets, of dubious origin and a checkered historical background, and which found at only one source, theology.
Human society has moved an enormous distance since this tome was first promulgated, Jason.

In contrast, the discourse in science, and allied disciplines, at multitudinous nodes, cosmology, biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, neuroscience, medical science, are convergent in presenting a common and consistent narrative of the origins of the human species, and the kind and manner of being that constitutes the homo sapiens. This narrative also shows the deepest levels of this relationship to all other sentient and living creatures on this planet. This story is a work-in-progress, one that really only started in earnest in the past couple hundred years. Many of the fundamental theories, laws, propositions, facts, proofs seem to be transferable to one discipline to another. Each discipline from their own specialty seem able to contribute to the commonwealth of knowledge that seeks to improve the outcomes of the human condition.

Theism, and in this case the plethora of christianities, has had a commanding 2000+ years to put its claim forward. The significant catch-up of all other fields of human endeavour are now challenging the place of theism as the sole arbiter of interpretation of the human condition, and is continually found wanting, but continues to buck against many issues it sees as being the natural territory of theology. There is an inexorable shift in right-sizing the influence and standing of religion in the community. Yes there are pockets of growth, as in Africa. But alas, wherever there is poverty, no education, abysmal prospects for improved living and health conditions, there will be a captive audience onto which the believers will impose and proselytize their particular brand of theism, and always done with people who are at their weakest, most vulnerable and defenseless to whom are told, 'this food, this shelter, this medicine is yours and has been given by this particular god'. To me there is the stench of immorality and a loss of ethics to link aid with proselytizing. Jason we can do much better. We can do good for goodness sake alone.

As John Spong suggests, christianity better change to be more focussed on meeting contemporary needs if it is to survive and contribute to future generations.

Cheers

Jason Pratt said...

Part 3 of 3:

PapaL (and hereafter): {{Indeed, theists are adamant that their god is UNKNOWABLE}}

Not this theist. When have I ever once said this? Maybe, if I’m such a nice guy, you should try talking with me instead of at me?

There are theists who go this route; and I routinely repudiate them. You might have noticed this when I wrote what I did about typical habits of the Eastern Orthodox, but I could add Protestant fideists to that list as well.

{{But the unknowable and the non-existence are indistinguishable.}}

I agree and have said as much myself, at length, though not in this thread.

{{If anything, ironically, it will be science that will uncover god's footprint, if there be such a beast.}}

Science may indeed do so, as a result of what amounts to a forensic investigation, among other things.

JRP: {{" .. instead of ignoring everything I wrote and pretending I was doing, saying and believing something else--while basically preaching a sermon at me."}}

PapaL: {{You[r] comment is funny. It made me smile. And of course, you would know when subjected to a sermon, wouldn't you?}}

Yes, as a matter of fact, I would. I don’t appreciate it when Christians do it to me instead of discussing the actual issues with me, so I don’t know why I would appreciate the same procedure any more when other people do it.

Since you quoted me a few times, I suppose strictly speaking I can’t say you outright ignored everything I wrote this time; but you didn’t discuss what I actually wrote about, went off on tangents I never wrote about (as if I had), dismissed out of hand testimony from myself about how I actually think (substituting your own insistence about how I must actually think instead), and ended by attributing notions to me that I not only never once claimed but which also happen to be completely different from what I actually say and do. And apparently you did this so you could be tired of my serving you a proverbial white cracker and wine meal; when at most all I asked was that you look more closely at the logic of what various people you’re reading are telling you.

Well, perhaps you noticed that I have never once claimed, and have actually shown opposite evidence against believing, the sorts of things you directly attributed to all theists (and thus to me)--seeing as how you deleted the previous sermon and have now replaced it with a new one. But the new one still doesn’t bother to even quote what I wrote, much less address it; and still treats me as offering only the 66 books of the canon as evidence (when I have never offered any such material as evidence for unbelievers to believe religious propositions, including to you in this thread). It’s still talking at me, and not even at me but at some imaginary gestalt.

Do you really think Christians (or other theists) are doing right if they treat you this way? Do you think they are treating you unfairly, but that you are treating them fairly and properly, when both of you do this? Have I treated in you in such a way once yet in this thread? (Or anywhere else, since I don’t know who you are under your pseudonym?)

{{Jason we can do much better. We can do good for goodness sake alone.}}

If I spelled out the many technical details involved in doing goodness (or anything else) for goodness’ sake alone, I am pretty sure you would immediately reject the result.

But whether or not that's true, I have not the slightest problem (for various reasons) with you doing good “for goodness’ sake alone”.

I might suggest beginning by treating my discussion with you as a discussion instead of as an opportunity to preach some things off your chest in my vague direction; but perhaps that would be considered selfish on my part. Go treat someone else instead as you would prefer them to treat you, acting in fair-togetherness with them, with my blessing.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Well, "Booger" is acting very screwy this afternoon--my email says my first two parts posted, but only my third part has shown up yet. Maybe we broke the thread engine...

I'll try posting the first two parts again. (They aren't full length, I just thought the reply worked better topically in three parts.)

Jason Pratt said...

I appreciate the opening compliments, by the way.

PapaL (and hereafter): {{we are as one on this perspective [about each other not being only teleological illusions]}}

That’s good to know, although strictly speaking we don’t have to have physical contact with one another to acknowledge this, no more than we acknowledge this about ourselves through some necessity of physical contact with ourselves. Admittedly, physical contact does help!--and among other things it helps us distinguish conceptually between actions and reactions as real events.

{{It is the next bit [where we do not agree], extending into that envelope [of what we do agree about], the 'real' and substantial' existence of an extra-natural, a supernatural entity.}}

You call this belief an “extension”, but I did not and do not treat it that way, even in my very brief comments about the implications of the real existence of entities such as ourselves. It is at least no more of an extension in principle, than any belief in a reality that is objectively more than ourselves. We do not seem to be in disagreement that some kind of reality objectively exists beyond our mental assertions or impressions: for example you and I exist, with characteristics that can be somewhat discovered and reasoned about to inferences about facts beyond what we can directly perceive; and also some mutually shared system of reality exists, also with characteristics that can be at least partially discovered.

If I draw inferences about the characteristics of that larger reality, even when I cannot directly perceive those characteristics, I am not doing any special extentioning. I am only learning more detail about reality’s characteristics (or not, if my inferences are faulty.)

PapaL: {{Does it not occur to you, Jason, why it is that 5+ billion people in the world, including me, will either not have a bar of this proposition, or don't care, or consider it nonsense or false, or simply have never heard of it, despite it being claimed as the 'one and only true religion'?}}

Certainly it occurs to me; I think about such things in depth. Goes with the topical territory! {g}

{{This is where it becomes so sticky and your 'supporting' evidence, as simply too incredulous, Jason.}}

Well, the evidence I was talking about was you and me, not about 66 booklets. But apparently we aren’t going to talk about the evidence I was actually talking about (or not yet anyway), and instead talk about evidence I have never once brought up to you as evidence for you to believe on.

Nor am I going to appeal now to that other evidence you prefer to talk about; I never appeal to that material as evidence for unbelievers to start believing in God on, and I see no reason to begin doing so now. (I do discuss that material with unbelievers sometimes, but not for purpose of helping them accept various religious propositions as true.)

I will however point out that you ought to be interested in why you thought you had to bring up evidence I haven’t brought up, calling it my “only evidence”, instead of discussing evidence I did bring up.

I will also point out that you are rather falsely falling into rhetorical fluff, when you talk about the canonical texts as being “the sum total of christian scholarship” (with a little “c” for some unknown reason), seeing as they are not scholarship on the one hand, and far from the last things Christians (and/or Jews for that matter) have ever written on the principles involved. Why bother to write such things when you could be discussing evidence I did bring up which we actually have some important agreement on?

I won’t bother replying in detail about your narrative of the history of Christian scholarship and apologetics, since I don’t see there is anything to be gained from correcting various details, and since if you were actually interested in such things you could just as easily (and more profitably) read sober studies on the topics you mention.

(Part 2 of 3 next)

Jason Pratt said...

Part 2 of 3

PapaL (and hereafter): {{What are these [strong logical corollaries to the existence of something that isn’t only a teleological illusion]?}}

Discussed, though rather briefly, in my earlier two-part reply from Feb 21. Which you completely ignored, preferring instead to hare off on talking about things I wasn’t saying or doing. When you want to actually discuss what I wrote, you’re welcome to do so any time.

{{You conflate 'faith' of theism with that of, in this case, science, Jason.}}

Or, you aren’t willing to consider the testimony of a theist about what he considers faith, to be what he considers to be his faith. Of which, by the way, I am quite capable of distinguishing several senses of the word in application to my beliefs (one such sense being that of ‘belief’.)

{{The word 'faith' is overblown, overused, misconstrued, misused to the degree of rendering it meaningless in everyday use.}}

And yet, you are the one who not only brought up the term, but have been leaning heavily on it, including for purposes of applying the OTF. When I discuss my actual application of the term in religious practice, though, my testimony is only to be rejected. Out of inconvenience?

{{[The word ‘faith’ is now meaningless in everyday use] simply because it has accreted much mystical, mythical, and religious baggage as to make it difficult to use without invoking these conceptions.}}

Yet, which one of us is insisting on attaching mystical, mythical and religious baggage to the term? Because I clearly recall using the term without that baggage, in regard to myself, which you then complained about me not doing in regard to myself.

{{'Faith' on the other hand relies on a metaphysical conception for which there is no basis in fact, or proofs or elements that are testable.}}

You seem to be going far out of your way to lecture a theist on what he, the theist, is supposed to mean by ‘faith’, up to and including rejecting evidence of what the theist himself means by it. I don’t attach any more meaning to it than ‘belief’ or ‘trust’ (whether trust in a person or not), neither of which necessarily requires testability even on secular topics (though that’s certainly helpful where applicable and available), but both of which involve bases in facts and inferences from facts (including proofs where applicable and available. I don’t prefer to call inductive or abductive inferences proofs, though they have their own qualified versions of the term.)

(Part 3 of 3 already posted through the system first by accident, and can be found above.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Well I had hoped you deleted it because you had realized I wasn't a fideist, had never once claimed anything even remotely like fideism, and had constantly said things counting against me being a fideist. {wry g}

But I'm sorry Blogger has been messing up on you, too. I think the system has trouble now dealing with threads this long. (It used to be better about that, but that was back when fewer people were using it.)

Anyway, have a good weekend!

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Note to any readers who got this far: Papa thought he was reposting an entry he had thought he posted earlier, but which the system swallowed. I can verify that he did post that entry earlier, several times, including just recently (as I replied to him in my previous comment), because they came through as email posts via Blogger. The system has been acting very weird this week; it isn't PapaL's fault (or Victor's, for that matter--he would have told me if he was deleting Papa's posts, and my own posts have been occasionally having similar troubles.)

Google sent me a message tonight that strange things had been happening on my account; Blogger is always being hacked by spammers, and this is probably a side effect of it.

It does make for an interesting (and sympathetic but also realistically nuanced) analogy on the question of whether person A should believe that person B is talking to person C when person A cannot perceive communication by person C... {g}

JRP

Papalinton said...

Hi Jason
Yes. Just as you said. there have been quite a number of blips. And one particular {Cont. 2] part of my comments has repeatedly been posted by me, only to then disappear.

There is a strain on the system somewhere.

Cheers

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