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February 25, 2007


Get used to this people. Stuff like is not going to go away. My personal opinion is that it will increase in magnitude and frequency. Like the Da Vinci Code, what a great oportunity for witnessing. My father was brought back to Word because of the Da Vinci Code so I'm actually grateful to Dan Brown for that.

God Bless. Damian.

I have to admit that I'm curious to know what his evidence is, too. That promises to be entertaining.

Damaian is correct. Nothing new here. Old news. Been going on in various forms for centuries - attempts to discredit scripture. Same as the Jesus Seminar - unable to face the trilemma about Christ- Liar/Lord/Lunatic - they punt: "He never said that". Dissenters are petrified by the thought of ABSOLUTE TRUTH in Christ.

I see three possible outcomes:

1. Cameron (and the real brains behind his facade) prove Christianity wrong. Result: we Christians are disappointed, but ultimately fine.

2. Cameron spectacularly fail to prove Christianity wrong, and this becomes a passing fad, like the DaVinci Code and the 2002 James ossuary. Result: nothing really changes.

3. Cameron fails to conclusively prove Christianity wrong, but provides enough credible evidence that the enemy has one more little weapon, and the rate at which the world slides into the sewer increases just a bit.

If #2 or #3 happen, we can view this as an opportunity. If #1 happens (not likely), witnessing opportunities will be irrelevant, because we will have been assimilated.

I haven't seen the evidence yet, but logically I'm not sure how this could work. The tomb might have been intentionally concealed, but it couldn't have been concealed very well considering that it would have had to have been open long enough to bury 10 people across at least 3 generations. It would have been in active use during the time between the first burial and last (perhaps over 50 years, if it is the Holy family including father Joseph who likely died before Jesus was 30), and the location would have been difficult to conceal from those wishing to disprove the claims of the growing Christian cult. (The Time article isn't clear who the 10 people were; they list only 6-7 names, depending on how you interpret the sentence; Joseph may or may not be among them.)

I'm interested in reading "The Jesus Family Tomb" so I can evaluate what Jacobovici and Pellegrino have to say for myself, but I'll wait until it shows up at my local used bookstore.

From what I've been able to read about this the whole argument is based on neognostic ideas that Jesus was married to Mary and they had children and statistics about people with the Bible story names being buried in the same tomb. I'm not sure why the DNA is important. It just shows that the people in the FAMILY tomb are related.

Here's a good article about it with the archaeologist who was in charge of the tomb dig in 1980.


You see, the "truth" of Christianity was never found in corroborating bits of evidence from 2000 years ago, including the supposed "eye-witness" gosples.

The "truth" of christianity is discovered in the born again experience, not the literal rebirth of the god-man Jesus.

This was the sucess of the pre-exisiting dying god-man myths.

Myths are not lies, but express something deeply true about human beings, that we have a dual consciousness, to overcome.

It works like this. God is not me. He is other than me. But god is "in me" (Collossians 1:26). Paul understood god is "other" than you and yet "in" you.

God comes into you when you are born again, and you receive your defining faith.

From that point on this God is in you and only shines forth in your actions - actions that identify you as godlike.

Gods have always represented human beings, even to the "mythical" dying god-man sects who appropriated this truth through the ritual rebirth of their god.

Even Homeric gods such as Athena "transforms" Telemekhos in Homer's Odyssey from being a boy to being a man. (Something that cannot be achieve through rational deliberations, freely willed without a gods presence, or through inductive hypothesis verification)

So too when "Jesus" shows up he "tranforms" the person into a new person. These transformations depend solely on the circumstances in your life, thereby overcoming your unique circumstances to produce a unique individual.

It is only by being "born again" in this way that one "becomes a Christian"

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

One does not look to rational thought to explain transformation. Stand to Reason prefers a rational approach, a philosophical method of objective (passionless) reflection.

Reflecting on the concept of transformation cannot induce a transformation. The god must show up.

Reflecting on being born again cannot give you any idea of what it is like to actually transform.

The objects of rational reflection are static and cannot possibly explain such a dynamic phenomena as "being born again".

Only those who have experienced this transformation can understand christianity.

I Corinthians 3:18 "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.

19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.


The rationalist-evidentialist Historicist, philosophical project cannot save you.

This is not "the enemy", "the devil", "satan", or secularists worsening our world, spoiling christian piety, rather it is an opportunity to ascertain the mythos, the moral, the truth, of the dying god-man myth.

I heard this a few minutes ago on KBRT. I read this here:

"But Bar Ilan University Professor Amos Kloner, a former IAA archaeologist who oversaw the excavation 27 years ago and has authored detailed reports on the findings, said the IAA was "very foolish" to loan the ossuaries.

"There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb," said Kloner.

"They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the first century CE [Common Era]," he said.

During an interview with the film's producers, Kloner said that "Jesus, son of Joseph" inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries in Israel, along with the other names.

"It makes a great story for a TV film," said Kloner, "but it's impossible. It's nonsense."


Cameron's method isn't the way serious archeology is done. To be fair, the approach Greg used over the air is close to the one he used re; the Swift Boaters and reveals a flaw in his approach.

Given the amount of information in the world today, "consider the source" is a valid analytical technique. The burden of proof for something revealed (as opposed to being reported) in this manner is so high as to be unattainable in the real world.

As for names; a few years ago i was out in front of a client's house in Cheviot Hills. A car stopped and the driver asked for me by name. I had never seen the guy before and I wasn't near my place. Turns out a chap with my name lives close by.

This is why we have peer reviewed journals.

BTW, why is it that the quality of the verification code is so poor on this site?

If there was an actual Jesus, such as the Jewish Yeshua's failed love movement, and who was killed for preaching the "kingdom of god"...

...it is possible that this revolutionary realized his failure on the cross...

Mark 15:34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?" which is translated, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME ?"

Turning this defeat into a positive movement took the pre-existant theology of Paul, who preached a Jewish versian of Sandes popular in Tarsus.

Paul's writings are earlier written down than the gospels. So one is right to ask if the disciples received their story from Paul, not Paul receiving his story from the disciples.

Galations 1:
15. But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased
16. to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
17. nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
19. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

Galations 2:
1. Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
2. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

point 1. if the names they use on the Times page are accurate representations of the names inscribed we need look no further as Matthew would be Levi and Jesus would be Yeshua not Jesua.

The lack of serious scholarship associated with all the press on this, as well as the repudiation of the conclusions drawn by the film makers given by one of the only scholars whose name has come up (Kloner), means I'm really not going to lose sleep over this. The most likely effect it will have will be similar to the Da Vinci Code - popular level skepticism which will provide an opportunity for Christian scholarship to show its strong suit.

I'm afraid all of your "what ifs" will have no impact on what is most reasonable to believe about the history of the early church, nor your personal redefinition of "faith" to supplant the way it has been used by Christians since the inception of the church.

Also, I'm not sure you understand STR's position on and approach to the subject you criticize most harshly. The reasons (rational thought and reflection, as you put it) are the objective assurances that our subjective faith is not misplaced. Please read this before you try to pigeon-hole here anymore:


(please watch the line break I had to insert to make it fit)

Just in case you can't access that, here's the relevant material in quotes from Greg:

"Give specific reasons why it’s reasonable to believe the Bible is a supernatural book of divine authorship and not merely the musings of men.

"For years I have taught six of these reasons in a talk called, “The Bible: Has God Spoken?” If you’ve heard the talk and are able to recall the points and explain them, you may get someone thinking. It’s a way of putting a stone in their shoe, so to speak.

"But this approach is much more effective after something else has happened first. Before I tell you what that is, I have a confession to make.

"Though I give this talk often, these are not really the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word. They are sound evidences and they have their place (I’ll explain more on that in a moment), but they are not how I came to believe in the Bible’s authority in the first place. I suspect they’re not the reasons you believe, either, even if you’ve heard the talk and thought it compelling.

"I came to believe the Bible was God’s Word the same way the Thessalonians did, the same way you probably did. They encountered the truth firsthand and were moved by it. Without really being able to explain why, they knew they were hearing the words of God and not just the words of a man named Paul.

"I think I understand better now what happened then. Now I know there is a powerful role the Spirit plays that is very hard for us to describe. This is not something we’re able to explain very well to others.

"For one, it is personal, subjective. Two, it’s non-rational. In a sense, we were not persuaded, as such. We were wooed and won over, and that’s very different from weighing reasons and coming to conclusions.

"Note, I didn’t say it was ir-rational, but non-rational. God used a different avenue to change our minds about the Bible

"Even so, the reasons I give in the talk are still vital. Here’s why: The objective reasons are important to show that our subjective confidence has not been misplaced, that what we’ve believed with our hearts can be confirmed with our minds. The ancients called this, “Faith seeking understanding.”

"The woman’s frustration was caused by a simple truth. When you start giving people reasons to change their minds—to believe in the Bible, for instance—their first instinct is to resist, to keep on believing what they’ve always believed. It’s human nature.

"Don’t get me wrong. I think offering good reasons is a fine approach. I do it all the time. In this case, though, they’ll find reasons for the Bible more compelling if something else happens first. First they must listen.

"When soldiers were sent to arrest Jesus, they returned empty handed. Why had they disobeyed orders? They had listened. “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks,” they said (John 7:46). Jesus didn’t start with reasons why they should believe His words. Instead, he let the words do the work themselves. And this they did because they were the very words of God.

"If you want people to believe in the Bible, the best way to succeed is not simply by giving them reasons. First, try to get them to listen to the Word."

What is more reasonable?

Inductive reasoning: verifying a historical hypothesis, establishing evidences as facts that corroborate a historical theory, establishing a historical hypothesis (such as "Jesus was raised from the dead)


A meta-critique of what inductive reasoning is logically capable of?

I am an existentialist.

I believe that in order to "understand" Christianity you do not look to "reason", you do not look to "thought", you do not remain calm and "objective" to look inside the mind and reflect scientifically.

So where do we discover the "truth" of christianity if not among "reasons", if not among "objective thought"?

We discover it in our lives. In our EXISTENCE, i.e. in our own situation.

For example, my situation might be that I am guilty of mistreating others, that I wind up in jail, and there I sit in my jail cell, worrying about what I've done, and what I might do differently. I discover I have no power to change myself. I recognize I a divine dignity in the life of Jesus, a divine humility of a man willing to die for me.

It is here, in this realm of existing, that we discover the "truth" of christianity. The convict is about to become a convert. Not by "objectively assuring" himself, at first or eventually, that the power that transformed him, the god that graced him, was also a character in a written history, and this history better be correct or else my born-again experience and new life, my new faith, are incorrect

I better reason my way to believing my experience or else my conversion is "merely subjective".

"Truth is subjectivity"
-S. Kierkegaard.

I just want to make clear where Jesus' dying words, as recorded in Mark 15:34, come from. They are out of Psalm 22 which is attributed to King David.

Jesus is no stranger to giving just an introductory quotation. He does so in Luke 4:18-19 which actually come out of Isaiah 61. Read these also.

Psalms are a little difficult to read. I suppose clues might originally have been given by the music as to who was talking, who was being addressed, and how the lines should be understood. My understanding is that verses 1-18 are mostly like quotation of Jesus with David being in the character of Jesus. Verses 19-21 are the personal petition of David to be saved. Verse 22 is a vow which transitions the writing to exhortation. Then, at verse 27 the writing turns to prophesy of final victory after all the suffering. Verse 31 is a summary of the role the Church is to play. We tell of Jesus because we know that he has done it.

I have posted Psalm 22 below as can be found in the NIV. I have taken out footnote markers for readability. There are some alternate words pointed to in the footnotes but nothing that will dramatically alter the meaning of the text.
Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Why are you so far from saving me,so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it.
Finally, I ask, "Who can keep himself alive?"

I read Skeleton in God's Closet years ago and I recommend it to all, whatever your position on the resurrection may be.

Although some of the dialogue could have been made a little more realistic, the research and themes presented in that book are first rate. I especially liked how Dr. Maier explored the vastly different reactions of different individuals and groups of Christians to the news that almost conclusive evidence had been found that Jesus' bones had been found. Those different reactions exposed different concepts of what "faith" means.

Archaeology, mystery, religion, suspense, psychological exploration. A fun, engrossing read. I think I might go dig for it in the garage and read it a second time.


Why are you appealing to "what is more reasonable" to get to the truth of the matter when you reject this as a valid way to get to truth? It seems to me you are "calmly, objectively, passionlessly" reflecting here to reach your conclusion. Am I wrong? Have I misconstrued you?

Tom wrote: "The 'truth' of christianity is discovered in the born again experience, not the literal rebirth of the god-man Jesus."

This is nonsense. Did Jesus literally rise from the dead? Is it *true* or *false* that the event occurred?

Frankly, people can have all kinds of "experiences" from all kinds of sources, none of which turn out to be true. I'll take the testimony of evidence over my experience.

P.S. I'm not saying experiences are necessarily untrue, just that having an experience doesn't necessarily give you a true and complete picture.

These are excellent questions and objections.

Let me answer Aaron first.

I was wondering if I would have to answer the "you deny reason access to the divine yet you reason this position" question.

Frankly, I'm using reason to appeal to you STR types because you afford reason a positive place, you pay deference to reason and its abilities.

Therefore we should be able to agree on some things.

For example, we can agree on the nature of inductive reasoning, using reason itself.

This is very similar to the scientistic folks that bother you guys so much because they also make "reason" into a god and become atheists.

However scientific hypotheses are verified differently than historical hypotheses. Both proceed by induction, both seek to establish a claim by introducing bits of evidence to explain their hypothesis.

(You may or may not be familiar with the philosophy of science so I will spare you the Carnap-Popper, verification vs falsification debate)

However a historical hypothesis is not tested like in natural science, which is repeatable. So instead of being "verified" or "falsified" an historical hypothesis is "corroborated".

Now here you have some bits of evidence that "correspond" to states of affairs and they are "true". But each bit cannot "prove" (only deduction can prove because it is a closed system)the most important historical hypothesis pertaining to christianity...that Jesus rose from the dead.

You can only add more and more bits of "truth" to try to establish this historical hypothesis.

Yet historical hypotheses are never certain and are considered "true" if they provide an account for the bulk of the evidence.

I can show this with p's and q's in symbolic logic if you want, but I have to look it up. For some reason it has a more profound psychological effect when you can show logically that induction can never make a certain proposition, a "true" claim.

In the english we have several different usages for the term "truth".

"Truth" can be a correspondence between a proposition and a state of affairs.

OR "truth" can be what you are true to.

Now contrast this was of assimilating the "truth" of christianity with the person who in their existence faces their own unique situation, when "grace" appears, when they receive a defining determination to live a new way, to take a different path, and this path is treacherous and they could fail.

That is faith.

This moment, that every true christian knows, is the born again moment.

It is not the moment one experiences while locked in their study, surrounded by all their history books, attempting to reason whether a historical person rose from the dead or not, calmly, objectively.

These rationalists (historical christians) think that if they verify their historical hypothesis "beyond a reasonable doubt" (since induction is incapable of "beyond all doubt") they will be rationally compelled to take a new path.

But this uncertain (inductive) faith is not faith. If it gives you a defining determination at all it is usually a determination to regurgitate all their learned facts for others, to make a life of historical demonstrations, determined to change the lives of others through their forensic knowledge, to become bloggers like political strategists.

Rational christianity amounts to a second-rate philosophy. It defers to reason, yet fails to explore the limits of reason, or contrast "observing consciosness" to the consciousness that is "in despair", "in sin", who is born again not on the basis of strong historical argument.

Now I'll attempt to explain Paul.

Remember I'm the existentialist, the Kierkegaardian.

I know that words like "subjective" or "experience" are pejorative for you folks, but you have to see that we are in the profoundly personal business.

All of this will have a profound affect on our lives, that is, in our experiences.

Even if you "reason" your way all along, deliberating for hours, researching texts for years, being as "objective" as possible, according to you, this will lead to a very profound personal experience, one of "becoming" a christian, which is one of being "born again".

Yet none of you seem to say anything about this "experience", which leads me to believe that you have not had one, and therefore are not true christians.

John 3:3
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

You seem to think that experiences such as these cannot be trusted.

Or you seem to think that verifying historical hypotheses can lead to the certainty of faith, that a sufficient historical presentation will conjur the god Jesus, and he will appear, in saving grace, and transform you and redefine you, and give you a determination that lasts a lifetime.

I have found that "reason", or retreating back into objectivity can actually block grace from appearing. We all agree that we cannot transform on our own, and that it takes another power. Yet if we were to stop and reflect on what is happening in the moment we are transformed what would we say?

"this is too subjective. I can't trust this experience"

""Truth is subjectivity"
-S. Kierkegaard."

You may believe that Kierkegaard said that, but I have a feeling he didn't. :-)

Subjectively yours,

Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments.

Chapter II, entitled...

"Subjective Truth, Inwardness, Truth is Subjectivity"

Read the whole chapter, read the whole book.

If one googles "Truth is subjectivity", one gets about 980 hits, most of which center around Kierkegaard.

I can't resist a couple good quotes...

So then, there is a man who wants to have faith; well, let the comedy begin. He wants to have faith, but he wants to assure himself with the aid of objective deliberation and approximation. What happens?

With the aid of approximation the absurd becomes something else, it becomes probable, it becomes more probable, it may become to a high degree and exceedingly probable.

Now he is all set to believe it, and he dares to say of himself that he does not believe as shoemakers and tailors and simple fold do, but only after long deliberation.

Or there is a man who says he has faith, but now he wants to make his faith clear to himself; he wants to understand himself in his faith. Now the comedy begins again.

The object of faith becomes almost probable, it becomes as good as probable, it becomes probable, it becomes to a high degree and exceedingly probable.

He has finished; he dares to say of himself that he does not believe as shoemakers and tailors or other simple folk do but that he has also understood himself in his believing.

What wonderous understanding! On the contrary, he has learned to know something different about faith than he believed and has learned to know that he no longer has faith, since he almost knows, as good as knows, to a high degree and exceedinly almost knows.

Never forget to apply the stated standards of any philosophical claim to the claim itself.

Is it true that "truth is subjectivity"? If so, is the claim itself that "truth is subjectivity" an objective or subjective truth?

If the claim that "truth is subjectivity" is only subjectively true, then truth is subjectivity only for you and must not be so for anybody else. For everybody else, it is perfectly legitimate that truth is objectivity.

If, on the other hand, the claim that "truth is subjectivity" is objectively true, then the claim is logically self-contradictory and, therefore, should be rejected as nonsense.

Kierkegaard certainly demonstrates an 'abundity of profundity' in his writing, but that doesn't make him unique or special and at some point in his life he ceased to have that quality.

This happens to everyone. The keen mind, the powerful intellect, great wealth, the ability to string together elegant prose all fail.

At the end of the day Jesus is either who he claimed or not. Just as He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" the question is still relevant today.

From where I sit it appears that both Tom and Aaron A disagree with the answer that Simon Peter gave.

OK, then, Jesus was NOT who he claimed he was. Now what?

John, how about a comment on the content, the material, the subject matter, the examples.

I have yet to hear any of you address the issue, talk in the examples, instead rather offer up criticisms like.

He has an "abundity of profundity".

Yes, he was a great writer, but was he right?

I think you meant "Alan A" as in Alan Aronson and not "Aaron A" (this isn't the first time we've been mixed up on this blog).

Hey, my problem is with the morons in the MSM who segue from fluff piece to fluff piece. Otherwise I don't have a dog in this fight.


I think you missed the point of Frank Beckwith's comment - he wasn't saying that SK never said that; but that if truth is subjectivity, and Frank "had a feeling" that SK never said that, then for Frank it would be true. Subtle joke on his part to make the point that Hyun made more directly in his post. Ya see?

"Frankly, I'm using reason to appeal to you STR types because you afford reason a positive place, you pay deference to reason and its abilities.

"Therefore we should be able to agree on some things."

I'm confused, Tom. Do you also afford reason a positive place, by paying deference to reason and its abilities? If not, how do I make sense of your subsequent comments? If so, why are you objecting?

"Yet historical hypotheses are never certain and are considered "true" if they provide an account for the bulk of the evidence."

Correct. No one ever said we were trying to achieve a deductive sense of certainty. Nor, I think, do you have to have this certainty to have knowledge. For example: would you say you know that someone named Aaron Snell was conversing with you on this matter right now? You don't know with deductive certainty, and thus (if I'm reading you right) you would say you have no knowledge of this - yet you are *acting* as if you do. You are acting on *this* kind of knowledge by responding to my posts as if I were a real person named Aaron talking to you about the merits of fideism and existentialism versus evidentialism. What is so different then from me acting on on non-deductive knowledge to believe Jesus is the Son of God and risen Savior? You act decisively on this kind of "knowledge" ever day of your life. Why deny its validity on this area?

Sorry - that should have been, "Why deny its validity IN this area?"

Tom wrote: "Yet none of you seem to say anything about this 'experience', which leads me to believe that you have not had one, and therefore are not true christians."

Interesting. How do you conclude from the fact that we don't dwell on conveying our experiences in this forum, that we did not have such experiences? Why do you see the two (experience and reason) as mutually exclusive? Why are you so distrustful of reason? This seems to be closer to gnosticism than what you seem characterize as "pure" or "true" Christianity.

Tom wrote: "I know that words like 'subjective' or 'experience' are pejorative for you folks, but you have to see that we are in the profoundly personal business."

I'm not sure where you got this impression. I have no problem with "experience", as long as that isn't what we base our entire belief system on. I think experience and reason go hand-in-hand in the Christian enterprise. I think you'll find this expressed in more than one place in the Scriptures.

I also don't know why I would have a problem with the word "subjective" when it is used properly. "I like dark chocolate" is a subjective truth statement because its truth-value can change when the *subject* changes. "Jesus died on a Roman cross" is an objective truth statement because its truth-value depends on the object(s) of the statement (in this case, whether Jesus actually died on a Roman cross) and depends not at all on the subject making the statement.

O boy, hyun...

You would think that among all you analytics the right next question would be...

...what is "subjectivity"?

Defining terms is something you analytic types supposedly revel in.

Don't just assume that words like "faith", "god", "metaphysics", "transcendent", etc, mean what you think they do. You mustn't have a stock response to these words and hear them your way.

The first rule in philosophy is to understand that the same words get used differently by different authors, sometimes within the same piece. Sometimes an author (the bad ones) can use the same term in two different ways and not even know he is doing it.

Philosophy is a game of systematizing and using words consistently like these all important words like "faith" (probably the most abused term ever). It is also a history of the term as philosophers in our tradition have used them.

And yes, your faith is something very personal, it applies only to YOU in your life, it defines YOU, it ranks all your values.

The Christian way to say this is "Jesus died for ME".

Christianity is appropriated individually. You cannot save me. You cannot be born again for me. I must do it. I must "invite Jesus into MY heart" How is the born again experience NOT subjective?

Remember John3:3

When you say "truth" is objective, you are talking about a different use for the term truth, you are talking about a correspondence truth, not a "deep truth", or what you are "true" to (like the covenant).


I think your taxonomy of the "kinds of truth" has too few categories. There are not just two kinds of truth, subjective and objective, or if they are then they are genus and we need to designate among species. I would call "Jesus was killed by the Romans" as a "historical truth"…not just an "objective truth".

I see what you mean, it is "objective" because what is objectivity? It is a detached attitude whereby a consciousness is in an observational relationship with its object. One can only achieve this attitude by sitting very still all the while he is observing his object he is monitoring his consciousness for any trace of partiality. Objectivity is impartial and in that sense "universal".

I think you really are fighting the battles of the 20th century over the predominance of Science (cap S) and Religion (Cap R) as two authorities. Science claimed to have a more reliable method of ascertaining knowledge than the church because they were superstitious and dogmatic. And religion has been pushing back ever since in this power struggle they have going. The funny thing is, the religious just took on the scientific ethos for themselves, purporting a more reliable way of "becoming" a christian. If you can't beat em, join em.

Science claimed objectivity so Religion did too. So among the objective truths we should distinguish between natural science claims and historical science claims. Let's just call them historical truths and scientific truths. Both are objective. If you want the nobel prize in physics you don't go around wishing that the experiments come out a certain way, but you remain calm, detached, objective and you are betting that mood will lead to better results.

And the ways for ascertaing the "truth-value" of a historical statement are different than a scientific one, however both are inductive and can not stamp the result "certainly true" on their hypothesis. Actually the historical "truth" is treated like a historical "hypothesis" for you scientific, rational, evidentialist types.

On to your point on actions.

I remember asking a theo professor this question, who just finished lecturing on the sermon on the mount. It was a beautiful day and he took us outside to have class under a huge oak tree. Afterwards I approached him and said. "I'm afraid that when I help others I'm doing it for the wrong reason, that it makes me feel good, and I'm just doing it for selfish reasons" He said…"It doesn't matter. As long as the people receive the help they need it doesn't matter at all". That was exactly what I needed to hear. Acting for the "right reason" is irrelevant.

You are saying you need to justify some metaphysical belief that a god became a man in recorded history 2000 years ago and commanded you to love before you act lovingly. Otherwise your loving acts are not grounded in reason, are based on the wrong reasons, and are inconsequential (won't get you into heaven).

Rationalists need a reason for everything. That is the definition of rationalism.

picked up on the irony, the sarcasm (it was not the colon-parentheses smiley face that tipped me off - have you ever noticed you can say anything as long as you include that symbol). I read it over and over and just snapped off a reference. It finally dawned on me.

So what shall I say?

I see your point. However it doesn't matter who wrote it, and I am not "inviting Kierkegaard into my heart" when determined to live a new life.

His writings can be the "occasion" for a transformation. That is, you can be reading Kierkegaard one day in your study, while in despair, when grace appears and the god shows up and transforms you, empowering you to leave your despair and find meaning in your life.

Nobody can predict when or how this will happen, its different for everybody, grounded in the circumstances in their life. However, this occasion is just as accidental as reading the passion story. Simply reading (or verifying) that story will not induce a born again experience. The god has to show up. The mistake for christians is to think the god that shows up is the character in the passion story. As I said on another blog (Cosmic Child Abuse)

The whole historicist argument is a fallacy of "non causa pro causa", specifically "cum hoc ergo propter hoc"...that I read the passion story and transformed therefore the story must be the cause and must be "true".

I know "its different for everybody" drives you guys crazy. As philosophers you (we) abstract the specific situation into a general situation and try to come up with more and more abstract generalizations. Your beloved objectivity "applies to everyone" regardless of their own unique, specific situation from where Jesus ALWAYS appears.

There is no gaurantee that learning all the "facts" will induce the born again experience, just as there is no gaurantee that reading the passion story will automatically trigger it either. Most atheists know the story and it has no effect. The god must show up, grace must appear.

Here objectivity is the path to knowing Jesus, as long as you have sufficient memory, sufficient reasoning power, to make the associations, to follow the demonstrations, as long as you are smart enough…then you can "know" Jesus.

Maybe you guys should pass out IQ tests to see who qualifies for Historical Christiantiy (as entrance exams).

What Kierkegaard sees is that intellectual talent does not matter at all. Even Forest Gump can have faith.

I know it would ruin your project to get up in front of people and say "none of this matters", especially if it is your livelihood.

But for thinkers, those blessed with intellectual talents, their must be a different religion, one whose rituals include scouring ancient texts, abstracting from a multiplicity of beings to arrive at the being-est being (philosophy, theology), putting together timelines of papyri, rehearsing and reciting the 2000 year history of christianity. Something has to occupy such large minds.

But this liturgy is abberant, not suitable for masses.

But with this act in place one can make long demonstrations, a fillibuster so long that no opponent could withstand.

You guys and your "reason"…you're like scientists in a lab trying to engineer a born again experience, like AI researchers manipulating symbols, bits of evidence, representations (in Kantian jargon) according to logical rules of inference (reason) trying to create a human experience.

Wait a minute, Frank, Frank Beckwith, as in THE Frank Beckwith.

I must draw a crowd, good for ratings I guess.

Nice to see you following along. You might learn something.

You guys can't distinguish between more or less meaningfull feelings, between too much pizza and being born again.

This is not your common everyday knowledge. As you said either Jesus rose again or he didn't, either he was god or not, and deciding this one question will supposedly change your whole world, the way being born again changes your whole world. (we have shown that settling this question objectively won't necessitate a world change, so the power is not in the objectivity but in the subjectivity, in your passion).

Too bad, such qualifications and only minimally aware. I guess they'll let anyone in Princeton :-)

Reason is a slave of the passions - David Hume.

BTW, Frank, "Subjectively yours" properly understood, means you are devoted to me and I give you a meaningful life. That's a little too much agape from a wisome embassador than I am comfortable with. JK :-)

So why bother objecting. That is a good question. I think we would give the same answer. To make the world a better place. Except you think the world will be a better place once we're all historical christians and objective arguments produce the highest yield. On the other hand I think the world will be a better place once we get rid of historical religions, the monotheistic tradition, which all depend on different versions of history.

Obviously this way of proceeding leads to conflict. Let's rid ourselves of the problem, historicity itself, and see what the three great religions have to offer besides arguments.

I often use the Radar Analogy here. The alarms don't sound when the enemy reaches the center of the radar screen. They sound when the enemy reaches the farthest edges of our "belief system". So you get the "culture wars" where Christians sound the alarm when the enemy secularists show too much skin on TV.

We too sound the alarm when we see Christians start reasoning their way to becoming a christian (despite John 3:3). We see them embark on a path of intolerance that seems benign at first, but ultimately leads to conflict.

Reason and experience are not mutually exclusive. After all, reasoning is an experience.

It looks like I'll have to explain the right relationship between reason and faith (using kierkegaard of course), but I'll do that after the next round of rebuttals.

...stay tuned.

OK, Tom, when Kierkegard says "Truth is subjectivity," how is he using the term "Truth," what does he mean by "subjectivity," and what for him is "is"?

More importantly, what do YOU mean by those terms?

I don't know about any fights here. If I were trying to pick a fight, I might have written something like "Looks like someone has an axe to grind" but I didn't.

I read what someone posts and draw a conclusion as to their respective positions and that is my "...comment on the content, the material, the subject matter, the examples...".

I could be wrong when I posted
"From where I sit it appears that both Tom and Aaron A disagree with the answer that Simon Peter gave."

I could also be wrong when I hold that among the competing world views, Christianity gives the best set of answers to the big questions. I've been wrong before and will be wrong again.

It is interesting to see the number of people, especially in the US, who wish to de-bunk Christianity, to prove classical Christianity to be a hoax.

I think Aaron Snell hit it when he posted about "listening" to Jesus' words.

Wow, Tom, eight consecutive posts. That might be a new record around here.

I wish I had more time at the moment to repsond (or mostly to reiterate, as I don't think you really understood or answered my questions), but life outside of blogdom is getting a little busy, so I'll try to check back in later if this thread hasn't been archived. Ciao.

Thanks, but...when did I post on listening to Jesus' words? I'm confused.

OK, I'm back.

I was reading over the blog when I realized "I don't think I answered Aaron"…so here goes. It was somewhat difficult to understand because your using these terms incorrectly, so let's see if I can straighten you out.

Aaron said..."No one ever said we were trying to achieve a deductive sense of certainty. Nor, I think, do you have to have this certainty to have knowledge."

Deduction is axiomatic, or formal, or applies to a "closed system", where "rules of inference" are applied to a set.

So for example, mathematics is deductive. As long as the definition of "natural whole number" and "equality" and "addition" hold, then I can say with "deductive" certainty that 2+2=4.

So of course I'm not holding you to a "deductive sense of certainty"...we are talking about religious beliefs here...not math, not "closed systems".

What you can't say by prodeeding inductively is that you are "certain" and we both agree that "Faith" is a kind of certainty.

Aaron goes on to say..."For example: would you say you know that someone named Aaron Snell was conversing with you on this matter right now? You don't know with DEDUCTIVE CERTAINTY, and thus (if I'm reading you right) you would say you have no knowledge of this"

Your example is exactly like Turing's test "knowing" whether you are a human or a robot...that's just an aside.

No I can't say who (or what) is on the other side of this communicade, but I can say that I "know" (for certain) THAT I am reading a blog post. I know because I am experiencing it, and I am "most" experiencing it when I am completely absorbed in my reading and not reflecting on what I am doing.

This is called "sense-certainty" in Hegel's phenomenology. He is right to start the phenomenology with an account of "sense-certainty"...the "this-here-now", because this defines phenomenology as another level of description, the one that matters.

For example. What is an emotion? Materialists would say it is just a chemical reaction. But this description is "phenomenologically empty"...it can't transmit any sense of what, for example, Anger is. But we "know" what anger, because we experience the phenomena, and I can know "with certainty" that I am angry when I am angry.

So we have induction, deduction, and sense-certainty. Deduction is certain because it is closed. Sense-certainty is certain because it is in touch with the phenomena. And induction can never be "certain".

Aaron says..."You are acting on *this* kind of knowledge by responding to my posts as if I were a real person named Aaron talking to you about the merits of fideism and existentialism versus evidentialism."

So "NO"...I am not acting on *this* (deductive knowledge) when I am acting.

I am acting on the "knowledge" that I receive from experiencing the phenomena.

Then the idealist skeptic might say "what about dreams, after-images, etc" like Descarte...this could all be a dream. Well this gets complicated, but basically (as Heidegger has shown) Descarte was wrong to divide the world into subjects (self-sufficient minds) and objects (everything else).

We are not minds transcending the world to understand objects. Our being lies in our making sense of things, and in order to do that I must "USE" the world.

"Understanding" is "use" for Heidegger. So I "understand" what a hammer is when I am hammering, and hammering so well that I am completely absorbed in my activity, and (believe it or not) this does away with the subject-object ontology of Descarte.

So I understand or "know" what a blog is when I am blogging. (This is very similar to Hegel's sense certainty.) It is this kind of "understanding" that I am "acting on"...knowing IS acting (in this case).

Then Aaron says..."What is so different then from me acting on on non-deductive knowledge to believe Jesus is the Son of God and risen Savior?"

Well, at least you use the term "non-deductive" here, and that's OK, but your "belief" is not grounded in an experience of Jesus, not grounded in the born-again experience, if you "know" Jesus only inductively through historical hypothesis and its partner "objectivity".

Historical chrsitians have (uncertain) beliefs...they do not have faith...unless in life they have been transformed...and have experienced Jesus first hand, not second hand.

Aaron said..."You act decisively on this kind of "knowledge" every day of your life. Why deny its validity on this area?"

Because religion happens in the real world, in life, in existence, in my experiences,in my circumstances, which I do not "know" deductively, I am immediately aware of them, I am "in" them.

Ok, John's up, Hyun's on deck.

I think we both have axes to grind. You want to promote Historical Christianity and I want to demote it.

John said... I could be wrong when I posted "From where I sit it appears that both Tom and Aaron A disagree with the answer that Simon Peter gave."

Gee what gave you the clue? Was it the post where I said...
"OK, then, Jesus was NOT who he claimed he was. Now what?"

John said...I could also be wrong when I hold that among the competing world views, Christianity gives the best set of answers to the big questions. I've been wrong before and will be wrong again.

The interesting freudian slip is the word "competing". You think of this as a competition. That's funny. Do you think Bhuddists or Jews or Hindus are competing?

This is no freindly competition. It is "to the death" (pun intended and not intended) Are they competing for your vote? This is the idea that we pick our religion as if selecting from a menu.

"ooh I like that one...its so objective"

Of course they're not prosyletizing, so for prosyletizing religions I guess it is a "competition".

I know how it is. People at church admire a "soul-winning" history teacher, a convincing advocate for their version of history.

At least your resigned to being wrong…that's a good first step.

I'm pushing you, helping you.
Get in the game, try using the word "induction" in a sentence.

What are Christianity's answers to the "big questions"? What is it that Christianity knows that others don't? What is the secret of Christianity? (Paul...don't tell)

John said..."It is interesting to see the number of people, especially in the US, who wish to de-bunk Christianity, to prove classical Christianity to be a hoax."

Now this is an interesting comment, irrelevant as it may be. Christianity offers a second chance. So what works in other countries is not Historical Christianity, but good ol' altar-call-thankya-jesus...protestant evangelical christianity...Billy Graham...not Greg Koukhl. Historical Christianity is a later stage, and a symptom of decay.

Europe went through this decay in the 19th century (in a very public debate)...and America is experiencing it now. People experiencing a revival in India, for example, are just happy to be given a second chance at life, and are in the early stages of understanding christianity. I don't know if they have the rationalist (Greek) strain in their culture so they may never try to "think" it all the way through.

For the record...it's not a complete hoax. There is a "deep truth" in it, its just not known (experienced) objectively.

How'm I doin Frank?

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