« What She Wishes She Had Known Before Going to College | Main | Hobby Lobby Decision Summary »

June 30, 2014

Comments

The question can be interpreted: How confident are you that Christianity is really true?

People deconvert over this question.

Greg acknowledges this question. But he spends most of the time talking about something else: Points of Christian theology that he, in some sense, wishes were not orthodox.

I experience doubts when I see something so clearly in the Scriptures, and yet there seems to be this veil over everyone else's eyes. It causes me to have two thoughts:

1--Am I really right here, or am I off-base and everyone else sees this? Sometimes, this is true. It turns out I am sometimes wrong. But in a lot of cases, it turns out that I'm right, because I go and thoroughly study the Bible and what it says in a certain area or passage! So what then?

2--It makes me feel like I'm sure Elijah felt, and more importantly, it makes me see some not very nice things in other Christians. I'm sure they are dear brothers and sisters, and yet they often times have such a vitriolic reaction to clear teaching of Scripture, it leaves me asking, "What's going on here!?! How can believers act this way and fail to see this truth?"

I should caveat this often occurs after I examine and re-examine myself and my attitudes, words, and practice of life; these types of issues often occur not as a result of my "looking for trouble". Almost always, they are the result of people seeking me out to ask me a specific question.

Anyway, I guess in retrospect it's less "doubt" and more "disappointment"...

RonH, that question cuts both ways: "How confident are you that atheism is really true?" Former atheists, like myself, de-convert from atheism over that question.

But, the more nuanced question to ask is this: "How plausible is Christianity, in light of the evidence, and in comparison with alternate worldviews?" And here, theism first, and Christianity second, hold up quite nicely in comparison with a-theism. Genesis 1:1 seems overwhelmingly more plausible than an uncaused universe in light of the Kalam Cosmological argument, secular Big-Bang cosmology, the BGV Theorem, etc. Combined with the Bayesian calculus for the Minimal Facts argument for the Resurrection, we arrive rather nicely at the case for Christianity.

One can also overlay this analysis with the consequences for being wrong in one's worldview, and a-theism turns out not to be such a warm and fuzzy place to reside. When one combines both the atheist's seemingly miraculous blind faith required in an uncaused universe (or the suspension of metaphysical logic in the assertion that the universe created itself!) with the potential consequences for denying one's Creator, Christianity appears both highly more plausible and more satisfying.

I struggle with how to be a Christian without idolizing the Bible as the "absolutely true," or "inerrant Word of God," as I see it described in most church doctrinal statements.

Can one accept Christ is the Savior of the world without believing the Bible is the "Word of God?"

We believe Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, and that the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, yet those sources aren't "inspired." There are, however, differing accounts of the events, flawed, with contradictions, yet we still accept the events as historical and "true."

Jesus lived in a world, and there were a few centuries thereafter, where the New Testament as we know it did not exist. What on earth did Christians do? I believe that we have idolized the Bible rather than recognize it for what it is - a collection, or library, of ancient Hebrew texts that reflect the thoughts, attitudes, and struggles of its writers. We can certainly benefit and learn from those texts, but are free to not apply those portions which no longer pertain to us, as indeed we do.

Greg says he believes in Hell because "God says" it is real. How confident are we that "God says?" Could it be that it is our interpretation of those passages that lead us to that conclusion? I am not convinced that we can say "God said" with certainty. The character of God within the books may be quoted, but is that the character of God as filtered through the writer? That is difficult to deny. Writing automatically carries the bias of the writer.

Some Christians may believe the Biblical books were dictated by God and the human writers merely took dictation. This would place those people as more in line with Muslims and their view of the Koran.

I find that we rarely question our own understanding of scripture, instead relying on what centuries of teaching have told us about what the scriptures mean. However, unless we interpret through the understanding of the contextual society in which the books were written, scripture may mean something to us far different than what it was intended to mean for the original audience.

Christians fight too hard for inerrancy and inspiration. I am willing to suspend judgement on whether or not the Bible is the "Word of God," yet I can still benefit from its teachings where applicable. I can also believe in Christ without buying that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. Factually, it is indeed a library of books written by men; whether they were "inspired" by God is a matter entirely up to one's opinion.

I believe Beethoven's music is inspired, but I can't prove it. Nor does that change anything about it.

Perry, I think I'll use part of your comment as an upcoming challenge. It should generate some good conversation.

WGC,

So what if the question cuts both ways?

That doesn't mean it can't be answered.

Given the list of reasons you give for believing (or any other list for that matter), the question remains: What does it add up to - for you personally?

RonH

Amy said: Perry, I think I'll use part of your comment as an upcoming challenge. It should generate some good conversation.

I would be honored! Thank you!

People always say "pray specifically" and I *overall* understand the reason but doing that feels like it just sets me up for disappointment. God is not my personal genie but I can see how it would be a good thing for him to provide that new job within 3 weeks or some situation like that. I feel more inclined to pray vague to avoid disappointment. So just what does it mean to "pray specifically"? Or does one just have to personally work through what feels at times like a silent, hidden God.

I share Greg's uneasiness about hell and prayer. The prayer issue wouldn't bother me if it weren't for some of the things Jesus said about prayer. He raised the expectations for answered prayer pretty high in my opinion, but it doesn't seem to match reality.

I sometimes wonder if maybe far fewer people are actually saved than who claim to be Christians. I wonder if there are really many regenerate people at all, including myself. It would explain why it doesn't seem like prayers are answered very often or very obviously.

I also wonder about the whole "fruit of the spirit" thing and the drastic change that we ought to expect in people who are regenerated. I rarely see that kind of drastic change in people, and as far as common decency, kindness, goodness, etc., there isn't an obvious difference between most non-believers I know and most believers I know. But the New Testament gives me the impression that there ought to be. And that makes me think either the whole idea of regeneration is not true or else very few people are really Christians, including myself.

Hell bothers me for the same reason it does Greg, and it isn't just that it bothers me emotionally. It bothers me because it seems overly harsh. I grant that it could be that I just don't appreciate the holiness of God enough or I don't grasp the heinousness of sin enough. Maybe my sense of justice is warped.

The problem Greg raised about original sin, being fallen, but being culpable for our sins doesn't bother me. I've done a lot of thinking and reading about it, and I'm pretty satisfied that there is no inconsistency in a person being unable to avoid sinning and still being responsible for their sins. Jonathan Edwards book on The Freedom of the Will went a long way in solving this problem for me. I've even written a little bit on it. Here's a blog post I wrote in response to one of William Lane Craig's arguments against Calvinism that addresses this issue:

http://philochristos.blogspot.com/2014/02/william-lane-craig-against-calvinism_23.html

I wish Greg would read Edward's book.

Here's some other things that bother me about Christianity or that make me have doubts.

1. The hiddenness of God. The mere fact that the existence of God is something that has to be debated makes me have doubts. The fact that a person can doubt the existence of God without seeming the least bit kooky makes me have doubts. I don't see why the existence of God ought to even be an issue.

2. The problem of suffering. I believe that all things lead to the glorification of God, but my inability to even conceive of how some particular instances of suffering can possibly be a means to some greater good sometimes makes me doubt that they do.

3. The whole story in the Old Testament about the promises God made to Israel, and then the apparent reinterpretation or qualification of those promises in the later prophets when the promises did not come to fruition combined with the apparent theological overhaul at the advent of Christianity makes me doubt that anything was promised at all. There are some aspects of Christianity that seem to be downright contradictory with Judaism, which makes Christianity seem like a self-refuting religion.

4. I used to think the cosmological argument for God made the existence of some sort of deity virtually certain, but they're not as persuasive to me as they used to be, especially the kalam cosmological argument.

5. Unless I had a lot of faith in Jesus, I'd have little reason to think the Bible was the inspired word of God. Just reading it, it doesn't appear to be inerrant. I only try to reconcile apparently contradictory passages and teachings because I assume from the get-go that it's inerrant, because it seems to me that that's what Jesus believed, and I trust him. I used to think inerrancy wasn't necessary and that Christianity would be true even if the Bible wasn't inerrant, but now I'm not so sure. If Jesus really was who the Bible claims he was, then if he believed the Bible (at least the old testament) contains the very words of God, then it does. But if the Old Testament is in error and wasn't the inspired word of God, then Jesus probably wasn't who he claimed to be, and Christianity isn't true.

6. Although I still think the case for the resurrection of Jesus is strong, it doesn't seem as strong to me as it used to. I used to think people who denied the resurrection in the face of the evidence were being unreasonable. Now, I think they're mistaken, but not unreasonable.

So, those are the biggies for me.

RonH, I gave reasons for believing that theism first and Christianity second are both true and are more plausible explanations for reality than a-theism. These are the reasons that I de-converted from a-theism to Christianity and make me confident in the veracity of Christianity.

You are more than welcome to provide positive scientific, logical, historical, philosophical, and metaphysical evidences for why you believe that a-theism is both true (in the sense of conforming to reality) and more plausible than Christianity.

But, if one worldview is more plausible than another, in terms of Bayesian or probability studies, we can say that we are more confident in that worldview. The term "confident" here actually has a precise probabilistic meaning. So, it is in this way that I can say that I am highly confident that Christianity is true and that a-theism is false. Does that help explain my position?

My biggest problem to date is being born as a sinner with the impossibility of being righteous.

Then through the course of a life of nothing but sin and moral failure, I thankfully become clothed in Christ's righteousness, born of His Spirit, but become even more aware of how wretched I am.

He enables me to live above my wretchedness. For this I am eternally grateful. But the catcher is that my sins, though forgiven, stand forever. Nothing can undo what is done.

I rejoice in the fact that I'm forgiven, and I am humbled by it, but nothing can change the fact that I'm a chump in my own eyes - forever.

Dave, what do you mean by "live above my wretchedness"?

WorldGoneCrazy,

Is the Kalam your main basis for god-belief? Because there are serious problems with the justification for both premises, so that I don't see how it is rational to believe in God based on the Kalam argument.

You seem to think that theism is more plausible than atheism, but there are plenty of folks who have the opposite reaction. I think it's elegantly simple to suppose the universe began to exist uncaused---and I am not alone (see Wes Morriston, for instance). In contrast, it seems fantastic and ridiculous to me to think that an unembodied mind created the universe using supernatural powers. (This is to say nothing of all the wild stories of particular religions like Christianity.)

Of course, these are just subjective impressions. That's why, in lieu of appeals to intuition or plausibility, we strive to produce arguments. But those arguments had better be persuasive!

For me, I agree with C.S. Lewis when he wrote:

"There is no doctrine I would more willingly remove from Christianity than hell, if it lay in my power".

@ Sam:who asks, "Dave, what do you mean by "live above my wretchedness"?

It's the battle of the flesh vs Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:16ff and elsewhere. The Apostle Paul put the same type of thought this way when he said "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Ro 7:24. Or the hymn Amazing Grace ...."who saved a wretch like me"

Whatever is not of faith is sin Ro 14:23, and faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit Ga 5:22.

So, by faith I can live above my natural human state of wretchedness.

(Also, as a side note; we need to be careful how we wrestle with the Scriptures, since faith comes by hearing the word of God. Ro 10:17)


Hell is definitely a concept that is a complex one that I struggle with (although it doesn't really cause me to doubt the Christian worldview). I've come to the conclusion that the concept of Hellfire is utterly ridiculous and un-scriptural, but of course, that is not an orthodox view, but a relatively new one. Of late, I've also come to the position called annihilationism (that punishment after the resurrection ends in the total destruction of the human being), but very tentatively. It seems that as I read scripture, this is a more realistic interpretation of what happens post-resurrection. But I'm certainly very uncertain about that, especially since so few people have held that view over the centuries. This kind of thing doesn't really shake my faith though.

Sam articulates the struggle of the evidentialist, near onto no faith at all if the convictions about the truth of evidence are my rock-a past place familiar to me. Thankfully the Rock doesn't waver.

It's not the evidence per se, as rational beings we live reasonbly, live with rationality[or else we'd be crazy/insane], it is the starting point.

Christians fight too hard for inerrancy and inspiration. I am willing to suspend judgement on whether or not the Bible is the "Word of God," yet I can still benefit from its teachings where applicable.

Then this would be at odds with what the Bible claims about itself:

The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 1

I rejoice in the fact that I'm forgiven, and I am humbled by it, but nothing can change the fact that I'm a chump in my own eyes - forever.

Keeping in mind that the OP is dealing with struggles, I am cognizant of the fact that what a lot of people say here are simply honest reflections of what they deal with and not some proclamation of truth claims as they see it.

I hope that is the case here: the Bible clearly articulates that those whom the Lord has regenerated unto saving faith he also adopts as son, making them "sons of God" with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities therein ("bringing many sons to glory"...). So rather than "chumps", we are Godly royalty with Christ as our elder brother, and thus we have even more of an imperative to live according to our Father's commands as found in the Scriptures, so that we bring not shame upon his great Name and upon the rest of our family in Christ. There are no "chumps" in Christ's kingdom, only joint-heirs; let's live up to it, and by God's grace we can and will!

@g;

Paul said "o wretched man that I am" I prefer a milder term - Chump.

Paul said "o wretched man that I am" I prefer a milder term - Chump.

That's right; he then immediately followed that statement by indicating that Christ is the one who rescues us from our wretched state:

"Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Chumps we certainly were, but the key word is "were", not "continue to be". That would be paradoxical with the point of salvation...

@g:
I agree 100%. My remorse is over my human condition that will remain polluted and locked in a battle with the Holy Spirit until the day I die.

It then occurs to me that my life of sin, even after being born again and after all attempts at holiness, will remain to humble me forever.

You cannot change history. And so it is with me, I cannot change my history of sin. Forgiven? - Yes, but every choice or movement I've ever made, or will make, will stand forever unchangeable.

PS; Even our best works require Jesus' atonement to make them acceptable with God.

Ben, really?!? I provided positive philosophical, logical, scientific, and mathematical-physics evidences for the plausibility of theism in the form of an integrated package of Kalam, Big Bang cosmology, and the BGV Theorem, and you respond with your personal subjective feelings and point to universes popping into existence uncaused?!? Please count your argument as another big reason I de-converted from a-theism: I could no longer muster the blind faith necessary to believe in a-theism, and personal feelings never cut it for me as evidences for truth.

To say that the universe popped into existence uncaused is to violate the most basic foundation of scientific thought: namely, that "out of nothing, nothing comes." I worked too hard for my 4 degrees in engineering and mathematics to throw them away like that. Furthermore, to postulate "no cause" for the universe coming into existence as the simplest explanation is true. Similarly, it is also the simplest explanation for cancer, the bump on your head, and why an apple falls to the ground when you let it go. Unfortunately, in all of these cases, it is the WRONG explanation. There is a difference between simple and simplistic. Your understanding of Occam's Razor requires further study. I say this with sincere Christian love in my heart, and apologize if I am sounding too harsh. But, really!

You and RonH are welcome to provide positive philosophical, logical, scientific, and mathematical-physics evidences for the plausibility of a-theism. We can then compare which evidences better correspond with reality to determine the relative plausibility of theism to a-theism. But, please don't come back with personal subjective feelings or universes miraculously popping into existence uncaused, unless you can support your faith positions with science, philosophy, logic, mathematics, physics, etc. God bless you, Ben!

WorldGoneCrazy,

I think you have misunderstood me. Nowhere did I mention nor appeal to Occam's razor. I merely noted that your subjective feelings about theism being more plausible than atheism are unimpressive to anyone who doesn't already share them. That's why I said we should instead look to produce arguments.

Unfortunately, you only mentioned one argument for the existence of God---the Kalam---and, as I said before, it has numerous serious problems which prevent it from constituting any kind of justification for theism. The other argument you mentioned---the minimal facts argument for the Resurrection---is not an argument for the existence of God.

By the way, there is no such scientific principle as "out of nothing, nothing comes." That's a philosophical principle---and one which has zero justification behind it.

Anyway, I freely admit that I have no evidence against the existence of God. So, if you can produce ANY evidence at all in favor of the existence of God, then you will have the upper hand. But so far you haven't done it, and frankly I don't think it's possible. Good luck though.

Ben, I produced OBJECTIVE philosophical, scientific, logical, and mathematical-physics evidence for the plausibility of theism, not subjective feelings. The combination of Kalam, Big Bang, and BGV is indeed an objective argument for theism. I really am having a hard time understanding how you do not comprehend the difference between the solid evidential argument for theism of the logic-philosophy behind Kalam, the science behind Big Bang, and the mathematical-physics behind BGV and your personal wish that the universe can pop into existence uncaused. Are you an absurdist?

Moreover, you admit that you have provided no positive evidences, of any sort, for a-theism, other than personal subjective feelings, which are unreliable. So, I guess you would admit that you have blind faith in a-theism? I did too - for 4 decades anyway. Then, I got tired of trying to sustain an unsubstantiated faith-based belief in a-theistic miracles like uncaused universes, or the universe creating itself (metaphysically self-refuting), or a model of the universe creating the universe, etc.

You most certainly did appeal (perhaps unknowingly) to Occam's Razor when you wrote: "I think it's elegantly simple to suppose the universe began to exist uncaused-..." Hopefully now you can now see that applying "elegantly simple" as a determinant for truth fails miserably in common, everyday experiences, like an apple falling from a tree.

"Out of nothing, nothing comes" is indeed a philosophical principle, one which is axiomatic to all scientific investigation. You cannot do any science without believing it, because then you will start imagining that apples fall to the ground uncaused. Newton knew better. :-) Axioms cannot be proven, by definition. Every worldview, including a-theism, has axioms. I must assume that you are not a scientist, engineer, mathematician, or even philosopher, or you would already know this?

WorldGoneCrazy,

You ATTEMPTED to produce evidence for theism, but you did not actually succeed. All you have appealed to is the Kalam. That's it. (You also mention BGV theorem and big bang cosmology, but those are just elements of the Kalam, not separate evidences.) Unfortunately, as philosophers are well aware, the Kalam has serious problems which are explained in the literature. Are you familiar with this literature? If so, then how do you deal with the chief criticisms? If not, then you should really go read some of it and get back to me later.

By the way, just because I note that an uncaused universe is an elegantly simple hypothesis doesn't mean I'm appealing to Occam's razor. I am merely explaining how I don't share your subjective feelings about the plausibility of theism. That's why you need to produce an argument. And the Kalam will not do, since it has so many problems.

Finally, I am neither a scientist, an engineer, nor a philosopher. Nevertheless, there are numerous professional philosophers out there who explicitly disagree with Craig's interpretation of the principle "out of nothing, nothing comes." Cf. Mackie, Oppy, and Morriston for the most well-known examples. And it is certainly not a common belief of scientists, much less something they need appeal to for their scientific endeavors. Even Craig himself does not make the argument that the principle is necessary to do science.

x wrote: Then this would be at odds with what the Bible claims about itself

If you are referring to 2 Timothy 3:16:

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." (New International Version)

Since this one book was written outside of the context of "The Bible," we must question what is being referred to as Scripture. Certainly, the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, cannot be the object in question because that whole book did not exist as a compiled text until a few hundred years hence.

This is one of the teachings of the church that has caused me to question the validity of the whole Bible as "the Word of God," since Christians will routinely pluck this verse out of context and use it as a proof-text to "prove" the Bible is the Word of God (circular reasoning). The result is cognitive dissonance.

Text without context is a pretext.

Ben, you are most certainly a scientific and intellectual nihilist. That is why you cannot admit even the science behind the Big Bang and the mathematical physics behind BGV as evidences that are both separate from and fully supportive of the 2nd premise of Kalam. You are also a scientific nihilist in that you deny the axiomatic ("out of nothing, nothing comes") foundation for the first premise of Kalam, which axiom forms the basis for all scientific thought.

For those reasons, if you are a naturalist or Darwinist, you are self-refuting, in a nihilistic sense. And, I do thank God that you are not designing airplanes, bridges, buildings, or cars. :-)

In summary, I have presented good positive reasons that theism is plausibly true, and you have presented no positive reasons for a-theism to be plausible or true. Yet, you remain an atheist, which is another characteristic of nihilism or absurdism, take your pick.

Perry,

Peter includes Paul's writings with the other scriptures when he says: ..."our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15;16

Of course one might doubt that Peter actually said this.....

WorldGoneCrazy,

Please explain how "the science behind the big bang and the mathematical physics behind BGV" constitute evidence for the existence of God, independent of the Kalam. Then, please explain how you get around the numerous serious problems of the Kalam which are well-documented in the literature. Until you can perform at least one of these tasks, we have no reason whatsoever to take your claim seriously that theism is "plausibly true."

And keep in mind, repeating your claims does not constitute an argument.

Finally, if you think that the principle "out of nothing, nothing comes" is required to do science, then you are welcome to explain how. Until you do, it sits in the box of unjustified claims, alongside the claims that God exists and that Darwinism and naturalism are self-refuting.

dave wrote: Peter includes Paul's writings with the other scriptures when he says: ..."our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15;16

Of course one might doubt that Peter actually said this.....

Not only that, but what if he did? So, Peter thought Paul's writings were Scripture. Peter is still a flawed man and it is still his opinion. That does not "prove" anything. Joseph Smith thought he was a prophet of God, too, but that doesn't mean he was.

This is the uphill battle I am weary of fighting as a Christian trying to defend the Bible as the "Word of God."

Perry says; "This is the uphill battle I am weary of fighting as a Christian trying to defend the Bible as the "Word of God."

So, the Bible was never instrumental to your becoming a Christian?

Dave, why would you come to that conclusion? Of course the Bible was instrumental in my becoming a Christian. I am just at the point where I don't feel I can defend it as inerrant, or more than inspired but fraught with human touches, at best.

Many films were instrumental in developing my love for cinema, but not all are perfect masterpieces. God is perfect, but his vessels are not.

Perry,

That's a good honest answer but I would have trouble believing any of the Bible if I could not trust all of it.

I surely would not cash a check if I didn't trust that the signature was authentic, even for $1. Much less suffer persecution and a life of self denial if I didn't believe parts of Scripture were authentic.

I'm more prone to blame my inability to grasp it, than I am to discount any part of it.

As far as defending it, I guess it comes down to the Lord's saying that his sheep know his voice.

Right. And belief in Jesus must exist apart from the Bible, since He had no Bible as we know it today to appeal to. I contend that faith in Jesus apart from the Bible is sufficient.

And I don't trust in the Bible; I trust in God. There is a difference. We routinely, as we read, process information through our human filter and thus Scripture hits us all differently. Like you say, we all have an inherent inability to grasp all of it but that doesn't mean the Earth was literally created in six days. I can easily trust that which clearly transcends time as proven wisdom; other things, like the Mosaic Law and Paul's commands for women in authority, etc., I can clearly place as specific for a certain people in a certain time and place. Culturally, we are not required or enjoined to mimic the first century Christians. Indeed, how can we? We'd be close to the Amish and even then they are miles away.

And when Jesus said His sheep know his voice, to what do you think He was referring? Obviously not the Bible, since that collection of books did not exist when He walked the earth.

Perry said "And when Jesus said His sheep know his voice, to what do you think He was referring? Obviously not the Bible, since that collection of books did not exist when He walked the earth."

The Old Testament portion of the Bible existed and Jesus expounded those Scriptures showing that He is the Messiah.

They crucified Him in part because He interpreted the scriptures in a way they thought was blasphemous.

If he is God and inspired the prophets and writers of the OT. Why not the same for the NT writers and prophets as well?

Dave, I do not disagree with you. I have just landed on "I don't know." I cannot say for certain that the writers of the Biblical books were inspired - maybe they were, maybe they weren't. What I am saying, though, is that regardless of that, I believe Jesus existed and I have put my trust in Him. Yes, that information came from the Bible but I believe it is historically strong enough that I don't need the extra validation of "inspiration" to back it up.

Look at it this way...would you behave differently if you discovered the Bible was not inspired? Would it change the way you treat others? Would it weaken your faith in God? I have evolved in my view of Scripture and none of those things have changed. As a writer of one NT book said, we don't need man to teach us because the Spirit will lead us in all righteousness. I agree.

Perry, Thanks for bearing with me on this. The verse you're referring to actually says:

1Jo 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

And a similar passage;

Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

In both cases, it's more about truth than it is about righteousness. truth depends on reality being accurately presented and received.

Jesus sent the Apostles forth to preach the Gospel;

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Mt 28:20

Did they fumble the ball when they wrote it down, or did they actually accomplish what Jesus told them to do?

Ben, what are you talking about?!? You say 'Please explain how "the science behind the big bang and the mathematical physics behind BGV" constitute evidence for the existence of God, independent of the Kalam.' Why on God's green earth should I do that?!? My whole point has been that Big Bang and BGV, packaged WITH Kalam, provide the evidence for the existence of God. And that, my friend, is what is called a logical argument - at least in the scientific world.

Of course it wouldn't be independent. That would be like me saying to you, "Ben, please prove the existence of gravity using only the existence of an apple. You don't get to drop it." :-) Logical arguments are a series of premises followed by a conclusion, not the individual premises themselves.

Now, Ben, I know the 4th is coming up quickly, and I hope you haven't been imbibing something too early. :-) You don't live in Colorado or Washington State, do you? Just kidding, Ben. Have a great 4th and God Bless you!

I think the issue we face is the use of the word "truth." There are several meanings - the one you posited; also metaphorical truth, mythical truth, moral truth, etc. Jesus' parables, while not literally true, carried metaphorical or moral truth.

That being said, we try to discern where the Biblical books are speaking actual, literal truth, or any of the other types of truth. Ultimately, I think what matters is the moral or metaphorical truth of the writings. I believe God created the Earth (well, the Universe) in an orderly fashion; however, I do not believe the literal Genesis account. I see no need to believe that literally since there is much science mitigating against it. However, I am at peace accepting the metaphorical truth that God created the Universe ("Heavens and the Earth" is an old-cosmological way of putting it, more evidence of the human touch in Scripture) and not that it was literally in six days.

Thank you.

WorldGoneCrazy,

You were the one who said that in addition to supporting premise (2) of the Kalam, the BGV theorem and big bang cosmology are "separate" evidences for the existence of God. Now it seems you finally agree that they are not separate at all, but dependent on the Kalam. In fact, they are actually a PART of the Kalam argument, which is the point I made earlier.

So, it all comes down to the Kalam. Is it a good argument or not? And of course the answer is, no, it's not a good argument. Rather, it's a downright terrible argument, as documented by numerous philosophers over the past three decades. So, if that's all you have to support your belief in God, then it seems your belief is an irrational one.

Perry, Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the life.Here is a concise definition for the word he used for 'truth".

Truth:

Used in various senses in Scripture.
1. In #Pr 12:17,19 it denotes that which is opposed to falsehood.
2. In #Isa 59:14,15 Jer 7:28 it means fidelity or truthfulness.
3. The doctrine of Christ is called "the truth of the gospel" #Ga 2:5 "the truth" #2Ti 3:7 4:4
4. Our Lord says of himself, "I am the way, and the truth" #Joh 14:6


Also from the Theological Dictionary of the NT:

225 ἀλήθεια aletheia al-ay’-thi-a

from 227; n f; TDNT-1:232,37; { See TDNT 49}

AV-truth 107, truly + 1909 1, true 1, verity 1; 110

1) objectively
1a) what is true in any matter under consideration
1a1) truly, in truth, according to truth
1a2) of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly
1b) what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth
1b1) in the greatest latitude
1b2) the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention
1c) the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians
2) subjectively
2a) truth as a personal excellence
2a1) that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit

This is what we're talking about.....

Hi Perry, being that the historic Christian church has believed that the Bible is not only inerrant, but also infallible, you depart from mainline Christianity. These terms are qualified and specific but they should be treated in the meaning intended and I'm not going to define or defend either, but just want to suggest to you that the Holy Spirit is charged with protecting the Bride of Christ...that is the Church...your view causes me to ask, is He failing?

So, I'm curious, by what metric do you use to measure the scriptures against regarding the inerrancy issue? What source for a counter claim holds more weight than a properly exposited/interpreted biblical revelation in your view, is it incompatible/incoherent with--scientific/logical/experience proofs?

I'll give you an O.T. example. The story of Noah and the flood is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a much earlier document than Genesis. So, logically, the story of Noah as we read it in Genesis is not an original story. This is strong evidence that this part of the O.T., at least, was borrowed from another culture. Right there we see that, as we know, oral traditions passed down from one culture to the next made it into the Bible. The creation story is likely another. It sounds like an ancient world view of the cosmos. We know much more now about how galaxies and worlds came into being than to literally believe a mythical six-day creation. Most ancient cultures have creation myths and the one in Genesis is clearly one of them. There is absolutely no compelling reason to believe it literally.

A N.T. example is Matthew 27:51-53, speaking of saints rising from their graves and entering Jerusalem prior to Jesus' resurrection. This is not only contrary to the other accounts, it also nullifies a key point of Scripture, that is, that Jesus was the first resurrected. A fanciful story that made it into Matthew does indeed cast doubts on the veracity of the whole document, but this does not mean that there is no truth to be gleaned from the document.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is charged with protecting the Bride of Christ, but my doubts notwithstanding, how is that unity thing looking over the past 2000 years? Are we united? Is there one church? What about that Protestant Reformation? The church has been quite fractured for a long time. I am not willing to say the Holy Spirit failed, but what I believe is that we are too concerned with doctrine and not enough about behavior.

Ultimately, it's about how you treat people. I would bet that within a group of ten or twenty Christians in one denomination, you will find a variance of beliefs concerning theology, eschatology, Bibliology, etc. I say, so what? My doubts about the Bible being inerrant do not affect how I treat people. The Holy Spirit takes care of that. What makes the world a better place, correct theology or better behavior?

The Bible is an earthen vessel, just like we are. Certainly, there is truth in its pages, but just as I am not inerrant as a vessel of God, nor is the Bible inerrant as a vessel of God, since it was written (and translated) by men who are not inerrant. It does not follow that documents written by men (whether inspired or not) could be inerrant, especially when leaping over languages. Nuances are lost, and original meanings muddied.

Hi Perry, did Jesus authenticate the OT Himself or not? (In your estimation)

I would say he did, yet his interpretation differed from the status quo which shows that, as today, there are different ways to interpret scripture. Jesus challenged the accepted, to-the-letter interpretation.

As far as authenticating the N.T. documents, obviously Jesus himself could not. To believe he did is purely opinion. Not unreasonable, perhaps, but then, as now, we should avoid rigid interpretation and keep an "open dialogue" with the text.

Ok! Thanks. So in some sense the Noahic account has been approved as authentic and authoritative. Do you still maintain that just because a similar story was put in print earlier than the record by Moses that the Biblical writers borrowed the account/story? Or, even if borrowed it is somehow less true...in whatever sense it was meant? Jesus knew exactly what the account was meant to convey...He knew it because it is in the Pentateuch...a holy book endorsed by all sects of Judaism at the time. I dont see how you can dismiss the Noahic account as divine revelation. What it means is another thing altogether.

With all due respect, the differing interpretations argument is a cheap dodge. There is only 1 coherent interpretatiion...Jesus delivered the correct interpretation regarding whatever He was talking about, in the process He disqulified the incorrect interpretations. Biblical interpretation is not for everyone, a select few have been gifted and called and even then the coherency of the whole revelation guards or rules over these men as they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Same with the divergent groups calling themselves the true church...it simply is not a valid argument that if multiple conflicting ideas or interpretations disagree that none is true. But, without an authority to appeal to, you have nothing but personal opinion as your guide...the Bible purports itself to be that authority though.

Yes, but that ends up being a circular argument. One book in the Bible cannot refer to the compiled whole, as the compiled whole did not exist at the time that one book was written. For example, Revelation 22:18-19 is often mistakenly attributed to the whole Bible, when it actually is just speaking of the Book of Revelation.

I don't believe "that if multiple conflicting ideas or interpretations disagree that none is true;" what I mean is that if you have a room full of PhD's with degrees in New Testament, Greek, Hebrew, ancient civilizations, etc., and they come to different conclusions regarding Biblical text, then who gets to stand up and say, "But I am gifted with divine revelation, and the Holy Spirit told me my interpretation is true?"

This is why I prefer an open dialogue approach, and am okay landing on "I don't know" as an answer. It is not so much a lack of faith as it is knowledge that we cannot know all the answers.

Hi Perry, I want to respond to one more thing you wrote. Namely if the Bible is divine, it is not circular to cite itself as authority because it carries with it omniscience. Your opinion of the Bible seems to me to undermine any confidence in anything it claims. ????? If I thought of it what you say you think of it, I would not feel justified to claim to know anything at all regarding Christianity. How do you keep it from being arbitrary?

Ben, I never said that. There is tremendous scientific evidence for the truth of the Big Bang. (I actually do not know of many atheists who don't believe in it.) There is evidence for the truth of BGV, since BGV is actually proven. (You do believe in science, right? Or, are you a scientific nihilist?) Then, these independent pieces of evidence are brought together in a coherent package to support Kalam. That is how an argument is made.

So, once again, I have provided strong scientific, mathematical physics, philosophical, and logical evidences, packaged together as a coherent whole, for the plausibility of theism. You have provided nothing of the sort for the plausibility of a-theism. But, you HAVE shown that you don't know what an intellectual argument is. Perhaps you should just convert to Christianity right now, and leave the blind faith of a-theism behind? :-)

The comments to this entry are closed.