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C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
I think he makes too strong a case. I agree that much archaeology does support the accuracy of Scripture, but there is some that doesn't appear to, and we should be honest about it.Take the example of Ezekiel's prophecy concerning Tyre, often used to support the argument for the divine origin of scripture. But the historical and archaeological evidence (see The fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy) show that Ezekiel only got it partly right - enough to be worth noting but not perfect enough to support an argument.If we hold a middle view of the Bible (historically reliable but not without error - such as CS Lewis held), then we will find the historical and archaeological evidence supportive of that view, I think, but the facts don't seem to support either of the extremes of an anti-Biblical view or an inerrantist view.
>I think, but the facts don't seem to support either of the extremes of an anti-Biblical view or an inerrantist view.The Catholic response? Of course it supports the inerrantist view rather it doesn't support the perspicuous view.Once you deep six perspicuity the "problems" of inerrancy go away.The errantist view is simply nonsense.
>But the historical and archaeological evidence (see The fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy) show that Ezekiel only got it partly right - enough to be worth noting but not perfect enough to support an argument.Not really the articles written by the Atheist apologists are the more fundamentalist that the religious fundies.I rolled my eyes when Ed Hensley dismisses Holding's argument of ancient "Trash Talk" with a simplistic "Where does the Bible talk about trash talk"?So in on felt swoop linguistic genre and conventions are cast aside because the Fundamentalist Atheist Apologist bases his interpretations of the Bible on a hyper literal interpretation of the English. Atheists who believe in Sola/Solo Scriptura? Protestant Atheists? Weird? Are there any Catholic Atheists who disbelieve in Scripture and Tradition I wonder?Dave Matson is no better when he writes "Holding faults "Snakepiper" (in an Internet discussion) for not getting into the original Hebrew. Perhaps it has never occurred to Holding that teams of Bible translators know their Hebrew at least as well as Holding and company--and it is precisely their conclusions that comprise any good, English translation."Since when are English translations either inspired or inerrant?He doesn't even bother to specifically refute Holding's argument he just dismisses it.Scratch a New Atheist find a fundamentalist.
"Biblical archeology"; now there's a euphemism on its way to be repackaged at the Oxymoron Factory.Albright's [the grandpappy of 'biblical archeology'] " methods and conclusions have been increasingly questioned. William Dever notes that "[Albright's] central theses have all been overturned, partly by further advances in Biblical criticism, but mostly by the continuing archaeological research of younger Americans and Israelis to whom he himself gave encouragement and momentum ... The irony is that, in the long run, it will have been the newer "secular" archaeology that contributed the most to Biblical studies, not "Biblical archaeology."Thomas L. Thompson strongly criticises his methods: "[Wright and Albright's] historical interpretation can make no claim to be objective, proceeding as it does from a methodology which distorts its data by selectivity which is hardly representative, which ignores the enormous lack of data for the history of the early second millennium, and which wilfully establishes hypotheses on the basis of unexamined biblical texts, to be proven by such (for this period) meaningless mathematical criteria as the 'balance of probability' ..."From the living encyclopedia, Wiki.There you have it, crystallization of the measure and status of 'biblical archeology' as an erstwhile[?] activity within contemporary archeological investigation. Not worth a cracker.
I left this response at the CADRE blog. This does not pass as reasoning.Side note: in the comments to the Victor Reppert blog entry linked below, one sloppy-thinking atheist reflected this latter view when he commented, "Roswell, New Mexico, is an actual city too. Is this by itself evidence of the existence of aliens?" The poor atheist is confused. He probably intended to ask whether the existence of Roswell is "by itself proof of the existence of aliens." The answer to the question is of course it is not proof of the existence of aliens, but it is evidence for the existence of aliens. Consider: if the City of Roswell, New Mexico did not exist, that would certainly establish that the claims that aliens crash landed there could not be true, wouldn't it? But Roswell does exist (I was there in February) and so the claims that aliens crashed near Roswell can be seen as possible. Thus, while the existence of Roswell doesn't prove that aliens crashed there, the fact that the city of Roswell exists is evidence that supports that assertion.That may be the worst idea of evidence I have ever seen. In any reasonable scenario, people who want to be believed are going to use real places, and where possible real people, as a backdrop to their tales. Whgo would try to say aliens landed in Mordor or Fantasia. The use of real places as a backdrop for a story adds no evidence to the reality of that story.
Are there any Catholic Atheists who disbelieve in Scripture and Tradition I wonder?Sure, but could you tell the difference?
"The use of real places as a backdrop for a story adds no evidence to the reality of that story."That may be true, but (1) the inclusion of accurate information about real places is some sort of evidence, while (2) the use of unreal places or inaccurate detail is surely negative evidence. So Victor's example is at least non-negative, which may not be much but it is something.
"From the living encyclopedia, Wiki."LOL. So "living" that Pappy rewrote a bit of it this morning.
As to the Exodus (brought up in the site Victor linked to), it's hard to see how a nomadic people building no permanent structures would leave behind any evidence that wouldn't be lost among 5000 years of other nomads wandering through the same regions. I could easily see how archeologists might have already unearthed numerous artifacts from that event, but failed to recognize them as such.Personally, I couldn't care less whether or not the Old Testament is historically accurate. It is in no way important to my faith. It's all the same to me if Moses or Abraham turned out to be historical figures reliably portrayed in the OT, or if they are pure allegory. What counts is the meaning and theological significance of the stories in which they play a part. Now the New Testament, on the other hand... it's interesting how countless archeological discoveries have supported the NT narrative, whereas NOTHING, not one single find, has ever cast the slightest doubt on it.
unkleE said... That may be true, but (1) the inclusion of accurate information about real places is some sort of evidence, What sort of evidence?while (2) the use of unreal places or inaccurate detail is surely negative evidence. Can you offer an example? Any unknown names can be just different names for a location. Any wrong details can fit into the fog of history. I just don't see where you get evidence from this.
Bob,You really can't claim Abraham or Moses are "allegory" & not historical(i.e. real) that view has no basis in Church Tradition.The OT is historically accurate according to the teachings of Ordinary Magesterium and unlimited inerrancy is taught by the Ordinary and Universal Magesterium.Thus it is a certainty of faith.But it all falls down to interpretation. For example when the Bible says there where 600,000 men of military age. First one notes is it seems unlikely there was such a clean even number. Second the Hebrew literally says 600 Aleph. Aleph can be translated "1000" or "tribe","Clan","Officers","Chief"etc.So we might reject the fundamentalist interpretation there where 3,000,000 people in the Exodus. Indeed I believe there where about 30 to 40 thousand. See the work of Abraham Malamat for details.cheers.
>>Are there any Catholic Atheists who disbelieve in Scripture and Tradition I wonder?>Sure, but could you tell the difference?Yes if the Atheist starts his rebuttal with the words "But the Bible doesn't mention X" or "You are reading this into the Bible".Then he is Protestant Atheist. This is in regards to their belief not their former religion. Any Atheist who believes implicity "If the Bible is true it alone is the authority and it is clear" is a Preotestant Atheist.A Catholic Atheist would never make that argument. Indeed he wouldn't attack Scripture since he know it's just his self-serving polemical interpretation vs the Church's self-serving positive interpretation.Thus it is a futile argument.
Hey I'm not going to accept the Baptists symbolic interpretation of John 6 or his hyper literal interpretation of "Call no man Father".So why do any Atheists think their interpretation will move me?
"You really can't claim Abraham or Moses are "allegory" & not historical (i.e. real)"I wasn't claiming anything. I said that I didn't care. Whichever way it turned out (historical or allegorical) wouldn't affect anything. Adam, Eve, and Noah are clearly mythical figures (and that's not a put down - a mythical character is often "truer" than an historical one), so why not Abraham or Moses? Now I happen to believe that they are indeed actual, historical figures, but in the end, I still must say, "So what?"But that's all Old Testament anyway. Now the New Testament is an entirely different ball of wax. Different in two ways:1. The historicity of the NT has been amply demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt, many times, and with margin to spare.2. The Christian faith REQUIRES that Christ be who the NT says He is, and that the Gospels be reliable accounts of actual events.
B. Prokop:What do you do with quotes of Jesus talking about Jonah, Moses, Abraham, Adam & Eve...?
BenYachov said... Then he is Protestant Atheist. ... A Catholic Atheist would never make that argument. It seems strange to identify atheists by the segment of religions any given argument addresses. I though you were doing so based on tehir religious history, but apparently not.However, then yo uturn around and say the historical accuracy of the Old Testament is an article of faith (quite unlike what I learning in my Old Testament class). So, addressing historical inaccuracies in the Old testament does seem to still be an argument that can be used against Catholics.It's quite confusing.
Mike,I don't understand your question. Why should that be a problem?
"One Brow",OT historical accuracy is most definitely NOT an "article of faith" for Catholics. If that were so, we'd have HUGE problems with two of the Deuterocanonical books, Tobit and Judith, accepted as scripture by Catholics and the Orthodox churches (and by ALL Christians prior to Protestantism), which are wildly and demonstrably historically inaccurate by anyone's standards. But that doesn't stop them from being "true" in the sense of the point of their narratives.And that's what it's all about, isn't it? the rest is just window dressing.
Bob: Mike's question is this: Jesus makes reference to Jonah, Abraham, et al. If they never even literally existed, doesn't that involve the Incarnate Deity in the propagation of falsehoods?
Victor,I love the use of the term "falsehood". It reminds me of Ransoms's problem on Malacandra, where the Hrossa couldn't understand our notion of fiction.There is nothing "false" about myth. Indeed, it is in every important sense truer than history. Let's take Melville's "Moby Dick" as an example. there are Truths in that narrative that are far "truer" than any imaginable factually accurate account of a 19th century whaling voyage. If I were, in conversation, to say something like, "As Captain Ahab said...", I would in no way whatsoever be propagating a falsehood. I would be making a point about some very real truth.
Scorn! Scowl! Hummmph!“Biblical Archeology (and I do accept the name and the title as being legitimate, just as I accept the name Classical Archeology to apply to our neighbors to the west) is a description of what we do that looks at not only the material culture and tries to decipher its own systems of analysis, but also looks at all the texts that are relevant...” --Lawrence "Larry" Stager, Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel and head of the Harvard Semitic Museum in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4292099344174368028Atheists commenting on Biblical Archeology aren’t worth a wafer.
There you have it
One Brow said: "What sort of evidence?"It would depend wouldn't it? But it may show that at least the person has been to the location or is reporting someone else who has.For example, critical scholarship in the 20th century expressed doubt about the historicity of John's Gospel, argued it couldn't be based on eye-witness reports, and suggested it be dated quite late. But more recent archaeology (see Archaeology and John's Gospel) has shown that whoever the author of John was, he knew a number of details about Jerusalem that were destroyed in AD 70. So at least some parts of John are early, factually reliable and probably do have a eyewitness basis. It doesn't prove the whole gospel is historical, but it confounds the more sceptical claims about its composition."Can you offer an example?"I'm not sure what you mean here. The main reason why we are discussing this stuff here is because people think, rightly, that if the OT gets factual details demonstrably wrong, then it throws into doubt whether any of the events happened. There are various arguments on either side about the facts and the interpretation, but I would have thought the inference is clear.
> So, addressing historical inaccuracies in the Old testament does seem to still be an argument that can be used against Catholics.Not really no. For example the Book of Revelation contains history told in a stylized allegorical and symbolic manner. But you can't accuse it of inaccuracies simply because the Roman Empire wasn't literally a Woman in Scarlet riding a Beast.Nor should we expect during the End of Days a literal 7 headed creature will somehow take over the UN.But then again Genesis contains at the primordial creation time a lot of allegory. As the whole narrative of Torah progresses it becomes more like conventional History.
>. Adam, Eve, and Noah are clearly mythical figures...Taken at face value that statement is proximate to heresy and inconsistent with the Traditional Teaching of the Church. If you mean by mythical their stories where told in a stylized symbolic way that would be OK.But Adam, Eve and Noah objectively where real people who existed in the Past. To claim otherwise violates the teachings of the Church, Tradition, the Father and reason. Most likely Noah was in a local flood. Adam could have been as per the teaching of Pius XII a hominid in whom was infused an immortal soul made in the divine image. The fruit and the snake could have been symbolic tales of how he fell from original innocence. Maybe you believe all this but the way you frame it gives the wrong impression IMHO. That we cannot have.
@BobSome more criticism. I hate to pick on you but the Church is bigger than both of us.>But that's all Old Testament anyway. Now the New Testament is an entirely different ball of wax. Different in two ways:I reply: Maybe I've been hanging out with the Association of Hebrew Catholics way to long but it's the Heresy of Marcion to downgrade the OT in favor of the New. It's not Catholic. Neither St Hegesippus or St. Iraeneus would approve. >The historicity of the NT has been amply demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt, many times, and with margin to spare.The same NT teaches us to look to the Church and the Church vouches for the OT's historical value.>2. The Christian faith REQUIRES that Christ be who the NT says He is, and that the Gospels be reliable accounts of actual events.Jesus and St Paul both require we listen to the Church. Pius XII Peter's successor requires us to believe Adam was real. That Moses wrote the Torah and he was real. Your private novelties are a potential scandal to the Faith.Thus I must challenge them. It's not personal my brother. I love the Church more than my own life.Also it's not a rational view. Remeber what Aquinas said about reason.Victor is right of course. I agree with him on the history of Moses and Abraham. Sometimes God shames us Catholics by sending a Protestant to correct us.I've been there. I deserved it.
Bob,To quote the great Karl Keating (& maybe he was quoting someone else my memory is fuzzy) "For us Catholics it's not either/or it's both/and".It's not either we believe in a hyper literalistic OT whose figures are real or we believe in a symbolic allegorical OT whose figures are fiction.We can believe in historical persons who appear in a stylized allegorical tale. Moses is not Captain Ahab. Rather he is JFK in any scifi story about going back in time to save the President or meet Elvis. JFK was real and so was Elvis. Of course even that is a very imperfect analogy on the historical truth of the OT.
Sorry Bob I didn't read you more carefully.>Now I happen to believe that they are indeed actual, historical figures, but in the end, I still must say, "So what?"I'm distracted.The hurricane is coming. It will hit New York Sunday. Granted we won't get the force the poor people of South Carolina will get but I have a semi-hole in my roof.Say a prayer I can find a contractor who works fast.
Ben,Thanks for your last comment. It saved me from having to quote myself. But I did mean what I said. Were it somehow to be magically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that various Old Testament figures were either purely mythical or completely historical, it wouldn't change the Christian faith one iota, no matter which way it turned out.But Christianity stands or falls on the historicity and reliability of the New Testament. Fortunately, we have no worries on that concern. The evidence is crushingly, overwhelmingly on the Christian side.As to hurricane Irene churning up the coast, we here in Maryland are also in the bull's eye. I remember Isabelle back in 2003. I had extensive damage to my roof from that storm, but was able to have it fixed quite rapidly. Irene is tracking a bit further east than Isabelle, so maybe I'll be spared significant damage this time around. But my favorite vacation site, the North Carolina Outer Banks, is going to take a direst hit. It ain't gonna be pretty!
B. Prokop said...OT historical accuracy is most definitely NOT an "article of faith" for Catholics.I agree. As I pointed out, in my Old Testament class historical accuracy was never thought to be such.
Victor Reppert said...If they never even literally existed, doesn't that involve the Incarnate Deity in the propagation of falsehoods?I can talk of the determinaiton of John Henry or the obsession of Captain Ahab without meaning them to be historical figures. Would a putative incarnate deity lack such an ability?
unkleE said...But it may show that at least the person has been to the location or is reporting someone else who has.You are being very general. YOu seem to think knowledge of a location is "some sort of" evidence for the relibility of a narriative of events, but what say what sort, or why.So at least some parts of John are early, factually reliable and probably do have a eyewitness basis. Or perhaps someone familiar with the city aded embelishments to the basic details before John wrote."Can you offer an example?"I'm not sure what you mean here. An example of a narrative claiming to reflect true events that put them in a place on earth that did not exist. Someone who claimed aliens landed in Storm Trooper City, Illinois, or the equivalent? If every depiciton of things, no matter how unbelievable, uses a real geographic basis, in what way can a real geographic basis be evidence?The main reason why we are discussing this stuff here is because people think, rightly, that if the OT gets factual details demonstrably wrong, then it throws into doubt whether any of the events happened. Why is that the right way to think? People never remeber the incidental details incorrectly?
I think it's a sign of the impending Apocalypse. "One Brow" and I are in agreement - twice! Both here and on another thread (about sexism).
B. Prokop,Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.I acknowledge we will disagree on which of us may be the stopped clock. :)
Well, since we've been in agreement twice already today, I guess we'll just have to wait until tomorrow for it to happen again!(Oh, and at my age, my clock doesn't seem stopped, but rather racing ahead at double or even triple speed! I can't believe how fast time flies by.)
Ben Yachov to Bob Prokop: "Some more criticism. I hate to pick on you but the Church is bigger than both of us".Yes. I recall Jeff Skilling, CEO of Enron noting something to that effect as well as that edifice came tumbling down around our ears.
Paps,I know nothing of Enron other then somebody did something naughty.Plus the Church would still be the Church if she lost all Her material assets. Of course radical Franciscans would be happy at least in the unlikely event that ever happened prior to the End of Days.
One Brow said: "YOu seem to think knowledge of a location is "some sort of" evidence for the relibility of a narriative of events, but what say what sort, or why."I think we may be closer than is at first apparent. Let me test that by asking if you agree with this statement:When assessing the reliability of a witness, when we find them right about a matter of fact that will increase our confidence in their reliability, and when we find them wrong about a fact that will decrease our confidence in their reliability. In both cases, the change in our assessment will be in proportion to how we assess the facts we have been able to judge them on - unimportant facts will not have much of an impact, but if they are right or wrong about important facts, that may make us think differently about their reliability."Or perhaps someone familiar with the city aded embelishments to the basic details before John wrote."And I think this proves we are not far apart. Most scholars I have read consider that John's Gospel has been composed from several sources, as the last chapter seems to suggest. Thus I think you are saying that one source is early and accurate while another may be later and is of unknown accuracy. I wouldn't disagree with that. The only difference between us might be whether we consider one source to be "John" and the other to be someone else.But the fact remains that the archaeological confirmation of a number of details about pre-destruction Jerusalem (and in one case much earlier details) confirms that at least one source behind John had knowledge of the city that goes back virtually to Jesus' time, and thus could well have been an eye-witness (though of course may not have been).
B Prokop:May I just say in passing that I think I completely agree with you about the relative importance of the OT and NT to christian faith. I believe in and try to follow Jesus, but I have never entered into a covenant with God like the old covenant described in the OT.: )
unkleE said...I think we may be closer than is at first apparent. Perhaps. I'm still not sure what you are trying to say.When assessing the reliability of a witness, when we find them right about a matter of fact that will increase our confidence in their reliability, and when we find them wrong about a fact that will decrease our confidence in their reliability. If someone claimed aliens had landed in the unicorn pen at the petting zoo, assuming they were sane, we would think they were kidding, because both we and the listener know that the unicorn pen is next to the gazelles. So, in the sense that saying aliens landed in Roswell, as opposed to Fantasia. is perhaps evidence that the witness is serious. However, use of real place names is what we would expect from any serious witness, even those who are deliberately lying. So it offers no evidence for the veracity of the claim in question.
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