HOW DO WE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROPAGANDA AND TRUTH?

newsHow do we know the difference between propaganda and truth? It is not always easy, not when lies can masquerade as the truth.

When I was a boy, the atheistic Soviet government put the first man into space. That was on April 12, 1961 (from here). Shortly afterwards, we received this news.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was proclaimed by the Soviet leadership to have announced, “I went up to space, but I didn’t encounter God.” (from here)

The story was not true, but it took many decades for the truth to come out. Here is the excerpt of an interview of a friend of Yuri Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, associate professor at the Gagarin Air Force Academy.

– And what about the famous phrase ascribed to Gagarin: “I have been to space but have not seen God”?

– In fact, it was not Gagarin but Khruschev who said it. It happened during the Central Committee plenary meeting that considered anti-religious propaganda. Khruschev then gave all the Party and Komsomol organizations the task to engage in this propaganda and said: Why should you clutch at God? Here is Gagarin who flew to space but saw no God there. But some time later these words began to be presented in a different aspect. References were made not to Khruschev but to Gagarin who, indeed, was the people’s favourite and such a statement from his lips could be of tremendous importance. They said, few would believe Khruschev but everybody would certainly believe Gagarin. But Gagarin never said that, he just couldn’t utter such words. (from here)

As it happens, Gargarin was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Why bring up this story about Yuri Gargarin now? I just want to thank tildeb and I have had a debate at this post, KILLING METAPHYSICS?‘s determined effort to misrepresent Galileo’s position on Heliocentrism as anti-Christian and atheistic made me think about what the Soviet leadership said about Gargarin’s trip into space. They said Gargarin had not seen God. Somehow that proved God did not exist, and ‘s proof seemed similar.

So I looked up that old story, and I was pleasantly surprised. Gargarin had never said any such thing. Just as Galileo never had any intention of proving God does not exist, neither did Gargarin, but some Atheists would like us to believe otherwise.

It is funny, actually. In Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the work that sparked the controversy, Galileo Galilei explained his purpose.

As to the discourses we have held, and especially this last one concerning the reasons for the ebbing and flowing of the ocean, I am really not entirely convinced; but from such feeble ideas of the matter as I have formed, I admit that your thoughts seem to me more ingenious than many others I have heard. I do not therefore consider them true and conclusive; indeed, keeping always before my mind’s eye a most solid doctrine that I once heard from a most eminent and learned person, and before which one must fall silent, I know that if asked whether God in His infinite power and wisdom could have conferred upon the watery element its observed reciprocating motion using some other means than moving its containing vessels, both of you would reply that He could have, and that He would have known how to do this in many ways which are unthinkable to our minds. From this I forthwith conclude that, this being so, it would be excessive boldness for anyone to limit and restrict the Divine power and wisdom to some particular fancy of his own. (from here)

In Galileo’s dialogue, the words above belong to the character named Simplicio. That dedicated follower of Ptolemy and Aristotle presents the traditional views and the arguments against the Copernican position. Galileo intended Salviati, the character reflecting his own position, to be the wiser. Nevertheless, it is Simplicio who presents the final lesson in their discourse; it is the lesson Galileo hoped his opponents would learn.

Other References

 

43 thoughts on “HOW DO WE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROPAGANDA AND TRUTH?

  1. Khrushchev really betrayed the severely provincial atheist mindset with his comment about God not being seen in Earth orbit.

    What a truly ignorant and ridiculous thing to say.

    No wonder everyone was afraid of being blown to Kingdom Come in a Soviet nuclear war, back then.

    To quote Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. CT, once again you get it wrong. This time in three important ways.

    The first is that you state “Just as Galileo never had any intention of proving God does not exist, neither did Gargarin, but some Atheists would like us to believe otherwise.”

    Not once, not ever, have I suggested that Galileo’s INTENTION was was to prove God does not exist. Never said it. Never wrote it. Never thought it. Never believed it. Why you continue to misrepresent me (and other atheists) this way reflects on your own bias against non believers. What I did say, have written, do think and believe is that Galileo killed metaphysics by revealing its assumptions were then and are now factually wrong (they are an ass backwards approach you cannot trust, meaning that they present premises assumed to be true that rely on the conclusion for their truth value). That’s why Galileo caused a revolution in physics: by utilizing compelling evidence from reality (rather than theology based on metaphysical assumptions) to support claims made about it. Aristotelian physics was then and remains today a methodological failure that produces factually wrong conclusions about reality.

    The second way you get it wrong is to confuse the dialogue of a character – in the above post by Simplicio – with the beliefs of the author, namely, Galileo. This snippet of dialogue does not reflect Galileo’s purpose whatsoever; it reflects the position of peripatetic philosophers and Church dogma. If you want to understand why he wrote the Dialogue, the title cleverly gives us a clue that you seem to have missed: to argue WHY the Ptolemaic model was wrong and that modern astronomy did not fit the explanations offered and used by the Church based on Aristotelian physics.

    The third way you get it wrong is that this snippet is about the TIDES… and is in response to Salviati’s sloshing in the bathtub explanation for it. Galileo knew perfectly well there was a problem dealing with spooky forces at a distance – he knew nothing about how and why gravity works other than there was this same unknown force acting upon all objects and had something to do with the rising and falling of tides. The explanation he offers in the Dialogue is simply a hypothesis (and one that later turns out to be wrong) and so he is in agreement with the character Simplico that such an explanation should not bind people to assuming it is true.

    Nothing you have written addresses any criticism about my actual thesis, that Galileo’s inclined plane experiment knocked the cornerstone out of Aristotelian physics… one that he showed was factually wrong assigning to motion the need for agency, that objects behaved according to their essences, that this essence revealed their nature. By extension, I argue that this little experiment reveals the problem with a theology that relies on Aristotelian physics, one that relies on the first principles that natures are true, they are accurate descriptions of objects in reality. They’re not! These supposed ‘natures’ are not as claimed compelling evidence of some divine agency that imbues it into things, and then assumes that we can know about this divine agency by the use of metaphysical reasoning about the nature of things. It’s all bunk.

    The problem is that all of this metaphysical nonsense is wrong because the method it relies on is wrong. What works to reveal how reality operates is not metaphysics. It’s methodological naturalism, meaning that – like Galileo argued – we allow reality and not our pious imaginings to arbitrate claims made about it. For example, if we still granted Aristotelian physics confidence to explore and explain the tides as Christian theology attempts to impose on us, we would be in exactly the same state of pious ignorance enjoyed by people prior to Newton. Unlike you, I think this a very poor trade.

    Like

    1. Good morning, Tildeb. I encourage you to read “How Christianity Changed the World” by Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt, Ph.D. The author, a former secularist and retired sociologist, heavily researched and documented how Christianity, including metaphysics, changed the Word. After reading the book, I guarantee your assumptions will change.

      Like

        1. Well, considering that I have read a great many books written by those he talks about, I think I prefer my source materials. I have a very good understanding of what these men wrote and did. So I’m still left wondering what assumptions specifically you think I am making that such a book of authors I have already read might be?

          Like

    2. tildeb – It seems you have four complaints.

      Complaint #1

      Not once, not ever, have I suggested that Galileo’s INTENTION was was to prove God does not exist. Never said it. Never wrote it. Never thought it. Never believed it.

      It seems to me that here you have made a distinction without a difference. All you can talk about is how Galileo supposedly destroyed the philosophical underpinnings of Christianity, but he would not have seen it that way.

      Complaint #2

      The second way you get it wrong is to confuse the dialogue of a character – in the above post by Simplicio – with the beliefs of the author, namely, Galileo. This snippet of dialogue does not reflect Galileo’s purpose whatsoever; it reflects the position of peripatetic philosophers and Church dogma.

      Whenever we take an excerpt from a document, for the sake of brevity we almost inevitably take that excerpt out of context. That is why I did not include what Salviati, the character who represented Galileo’s views, said about Simplicio’s snippet of dialogue.

      SALV. An admirable and angelic doctrine, and well in accord with another one, also Divine, which, while it grants to us the right to argue about the constitution of the universe (perhaps in order that the working of the human mind shall not be curtailed or made lazy) adds that we cannot discover the work of His hands. Let us, then, exercise these activities permitted to us and ordained by God, that we may recognize and thereby so much the more admire His greatness, however much less fit we may find ourselves to penetrate the profound depths of His infinite wisdom.

      Complaint #3

      The third way you get it wrong is that this snippet is about the TIDES… and is in response to Salviati’s sloshing in the bathtub explanation for it.

      It seems to me you are forgetting that Galileo had his own agenda. Just because you think he should have been driven by your agenda does not mean he was. In this comment (https://citizentom.com/2015/01/27/killing-metaphysics/#comment-56836), you made the point that Galileo suffered much at that hands of the church. That he did, but does not mean he saw the problem as religious. I think Galileo realized that the churchmen were seriously confused about their duties, and that is what bothered him.

      Complaint #4

      Nothing you have written addresses any criticism about my actual thesis, that Galileo’s inclined plane experiment knocked the cornerstone out of Aristotelian physics… one that he showed was factually wrong assigning to motion the need for agency, that objects behaved according to their essences, that this essence revealed their nature.

      tildeb, I have been trying to tell you that your basic premise is wrong, but I cannot make you listen, and I certainly cannot make you believe it. All I can do is suggest you read the Bible. Perhaps you will then stop trying to convince people that the Bible is a treatise on Aristotelian physics.

      One thing the Bible teaches is that on occasion (rare occasions), God performs a miracle. That is, God does something we cannot explain using the usual rules of cause and effect. As far as I know, the Bible does not depend upon Aristotelian physics to explain miracles. The arguments over geocentrism (http://www.gotquestions.org/geocentrism-Bible.html and http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14618/which-biblical-verse-was-used-against-galileo) is about as close as people get to arguing about Aristotelian physics, and that is silly. When we read the Bible, we interpret the Bible based upon the science “we know.” Our ignorance does not make God wrong.

      Did churchmen uphold some scientific beliefs that latter generations have found untrue? Yes, and if science continues to progress, those who follow us will point to our errors. When Christ’s church does not even exist to do science, why does that have to be a special problem for Christians?

      Jesus gave His church a mission. That mission is stated in Matthew 28:16-20. That mission is to spread the Gospel, not to establish the laws of science. The pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests never had any business forcing anyone to accept a certain flavor of scientific doctrine. Christians are not even supposed to try to force church doctrine on unbelievers, but those in Galileo’s day still did it. Have you forgotten that the Inquisition is what they threatened Galileo with? That sort of conduct is what ultimately drove the Protestant Reformation. Instead of being about Jesus, the church had become about the men who ran it.

      When God created us, He gave us a free will, and we quite often do things we ought not to do. That is why we need Jesus to save us from our sins. That is true regardless of the truth or falsity of Aristotelian physics.

      Like

      1. Complaint one: he argued before the ten judges that his findings meant scripture – although perfect upon itself – required corrective reinterpretation to match up with reality. The churchmen didn’t think so because they believed their interpretations were not only correct already but above reproach. That’s why Galileo’s publication was found to be suspected heresy, in conflict with the officials censors, and he was found guilty of “maintaining and believing an erroneous doctrine which contradicts Scripture: that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world, and for claiming that this theory may be possible, and for continuing to subscribe to it after it has been declared and defined as conflicting with Scripture.” I honestly don’t think Galileo himself didn’t really grasp the extent of the damage he had done to theology by what his experiment had done: unraveled Aristotle’s physics upon which the Church had built up a very nice set of metaphysical arguments (see Aquinas… and see the identical arguments still used today by people who should know better). Why do you think the judges demanded him to recant his findings?

        Complaint two: Galileo is making a claim that it is only right and proper to investigate reality and let it – speaking on behalf of God – tells us about it. And this pursuit – what Galileo calls a ‘right’ – should reveal what was already the common motivator to support various inquires into reality, namely, the greater glory of god. Was he arguing this way because he believed it to be true? I would argue yes. I honestly don’t think he realized the threat he posed to the authority of the church (I think he thought himself a corrective influence and not a corrosive one)… but those who represented the Church certainly did. And although they couldn’t discredit the work he had done nor criticize the intention of the Dialogue, they could criticize him for publishing what they had already forbidden him to publish (made about a dozen years earlier about the same astronomical evidence used in the Dialogue).

        Complaint three: I have no agenda other than to respect accurate history.

        Complaint four: you don’t seem to grasp my basic thesis which explains why Galileo killed metaphysics. You suggest I should read the bible: I have not only read the bible, I have – as any good student should do – compared and contrasted different version of it. I highly recommend people to read the bible and find out for themselves just how full of contradictions it is. I can think of no faster way to create non believers than to read scripture for themselves before listening to spokespeople and taking their word on what it contains and what it means.

        I have never tried to argue that the bible is based on Aristotelian physics. It isn’t. It is a collection of copies of copies of copies of some selected oral traditions and some selected ancient writings translated and recopied into a format pleasing to various bishops who edited it. What I have argued is that the metaphysics the Church used to create their dogma – the explanation they used to justify their collection and editing and rewritings of copied copies – was and still is very much a necessary Aristotelian component that is known to be a broken methodology. And the bible is full of references to these basic metaphysical ideas as if reasonable and true: claims of agency for movement, of essences for things, that some divine agency created everything and causes its continuation, got personally involved in various undertakings, acts like a father figure, operates the natural world according to his whims and needs and suspends it when he feels like it, and so on. Although many books of the bible contain metaphysical ideas known to be common in the ancient world – claims we now know to be quite naive – that was not its purpose. It’s purpose was to serve the Church as the necessary gateway readable only by trained clergy through which man could be reunited with his creator god. And not until the last few hundred years has the transcribing of the bible from Latin to a readable language by non clergy not been a capital crime and one where real people were actually put to death for doing so.

        Your notion of sin and the need for redemption you burden all of us with I do not find compelling because it’s rationally incoherent. But that has nothing to do with my thesis or criticism of it.

        Like

        1. tildeb – This document is the Papal Condemnation => http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html.
          The pope obviously was not happy with Galileo’s advocacy heliocentricism. The fact the Catholic Church supported a geocentric earth is regrettable, but the Protestant Reformation began in earnest in 1517.

          Have you considered what propelled that revolt? People saw that the men in charge of the church were using their positions to further their own interests — to puff up their own egos. Because these men would not make cause of Christ their central purpose, they could not lead others to Christ.

          The Reformers used the Protestant Reformation to put the focus back on the Bible and practices approved by the apostles. While in the process of reforming the church, the reformers reached the general conclusion that the Bible is its own defense. We can rely upon experts to help us understand it, but the Bible itself must be the ultimate authority. It has to be that way. It is the Bible that contains the Word of God, not any one of us.

          Unfortunately, each person who reads the Bible sees something different in it. We each come from a different perspective and focus on different things. In the same sentence, different people can find different meanings. Thus, during the Protestant Reformation, many different sects formed. Even though there is only One God, there are many different men. Hence, many different Christian churches now claim to be the Christian church. That is silly, but we are silly. The Bible makes it abundantly clear we cannot understand the mind of God. The best we can do is try to understand the Bible and God’s creations from our own limited perspective.

          Therefore, when you attack churchmen for supporting Aristotelian physics and then you admit the Bible is not based on Aristotelian physics, your argument falls apart. To attack men for being fallible is pointless. If the fault is not in the Bible, why should anyone care? The Bible tells us not to put our faith in men. None of us merit such faith. Only God is God.

          Like

        2. The Reformation doesn’t in any way alter the required use of metaphysical for theological justifications in all the 30,000+ Christian sects. This comment of yours is a non sequitur.

          It should be obvious to even the densest amongst us that claims made about reality really should be supported directly by reality itself and not have to rely on some imaginary musings about imaginary causes producing imaginary effects which THEN can be applied to ‘explain’ what reality itself does not support 9wlecome to the whacky world of creationism). If this necessary method doesn’t raise a red flag in someone considering whether these metaphysical musings might be open to more criticism than, say, absolute confidence (ie faith in the religious sense) then we’re looking at someone who has already undergone a rather severe bout of brain death.

          Like

        3. tildeb – The Protestant Reformation does not matter? Well, then the fact that there are many other religions in the world also does not matter. Some how you have killed off metaphysics. I am still not sure how you did that, but I guess that means tildeb’s “reality” is now the only one that is. Those who have failed to observe this great and irrefutable truth are just dense, right?

          Actually, I sort of agree that we should be able to agree about what is true and real. I also think my perceptions of what is true and real are the best, but I too cannot get everyone else to agree. What seems obvious to one person is not always obvious to another. I do, however, think we have worked out a reasonable compromise. You have probably heard of it by names like freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. It is not much more complicated than agreeing to disagree.

          Like

        4. CT, you once again missed the point: Yes, the Reformation does not in any way alter the required use of metaphysical for theological justifications

          Maybe the bold helps grasp the point? I can only hope.

          And yes, that includes any theology. Any.

          How can I say that? Easy: if REALITY produced compelling evidence for the metaphysical justified claim, we wouldn’t need or even use metaphysics! Duh!

          Note that that’s not my reality or your reality or someone down the road’s reality: it’s reality itself independent of our beliefs about it. (See, that’s where Galileo’s method really shines, n’est pas? Reality produces evidence that then is tested by various hypotheses and then arbitrated by reality.We then produce a model and see how other evidence fits or doesn’t fit. And so on. Eventually, we end up with explanations so potent in their modelling that you can bet your life on them – and you do all the time. This has nothing whatsoever to do with your beliefs or my supposedly different reality, and so on. Reality is very good at arbitrating claims made about it… so good, in fact, that you’re reading these words by what an ancient would presume is divine intervention. But you know that the divine has nothing that adds any knowledge value whatsoever to the technology that has been developed using Galileo’s method and produces such marvelous tools as the computer you’re using. In comparison, metaphysical models have produced zero knowledge, zero applications, zero therapies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, and zero technologies. That is the method you give confidence to that ‘informs’ your metaphysical explanations in your theology… not reality. But this doesn’t slow you down for a nanosecond from making causal claims about reality and the agencies it contains. You may want to ponder the scope of that error. If you want to convince people about what is true about reality, then it falls to you to produce compelling evidence from reality independent of your metaphysically fueled beliefs about it because we know metaphysics doesn’t produce applicable and practical knowledge. Ever.

          Now, I know you’d prefer to pretend that this subject about the knowledge value of metaphysics is open to debate in the sense of equivalent yet contrary opinions. That’s unmitigated feces. You;ve got nothing to support the method… other than your beliefs… and no means to differentiate metaphysical claims about reality from the ravings of a someone diagnosed with delusional thinking. That brute fact tips the scale away from equivalency and into the arena of the absurd.

          Like

        5. tildeb – You said:

          Yes, the Reformation does not in any way alter the required use of metaphysical for theological justifications

          Maybe the bold helps grasp the point? I can only hope.

          And yes, that includes any theology. Any.

          How can I say that? Easy: if REALITY produced compelling evidence for the metaphysical justified claim, we wouldn’t need or even use metaphysics! Duh!

          The fact you keep commenting on this blog is proof you don’t believe what you say. There many things we perceive and feel we don’t understand, and we cannot quantify.

          Neither of us, for example, profits in any practical sense from our discussion. Yet here you are, the self-proclaimed hard core, hardhearted realist, commenting, because something you cannot honestly explain drives you to do so. When only that which real should matter, and when each thinking person should understand what is real, why comment on the blog of a devout Christian? How could that deluded soul have any grasp on reality? And yet here you are, engaged in verbal combat with a Christian who thinks your definition of metaphysics cockeyed, at best.

          You said:

          In comparison, metaphysical models have produced zero knowledge, zero applications, zero therapies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, and zero technologies.

          If you check the definition here =>http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/, you will find the article begins with these words.

          It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change”. It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, for two reasons. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics—first causes or unchanging things—would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Second, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things—the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.

          So you have “destroyed” something we have trouble defining. Given the difficulty of defining metaphysics, I must inevitably have trouble defining the accomplishments of metaphysicians. However, the list of names here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metaphysicians) strikes me as rather impressive.

          Many of our actions are based upon things we have trouble explaining. For example, we can structure our government and legal system in a multitude of different ways. Why have we created a republic? Of what value is a republic? Of what value is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because we are social creatures how we answer such questions makes a huge difference? The questions are both metaphysical and ethical in nature, and there are no equations that we can use to quantify the results. Yet doesn’t what we call scientific progress hinge upon how we answer metaphysical questions?

          If you ask ten different people why they believe Jesus Christ is God, I doubt any of those explanations will satisfy your metaphysical criteria or theological justifications. Yet people believe, and they believe because they believe it is worthwhile to do so.

          Why do I believe in Jesus Christ? Here from this post, https://citizentom.com/2015/01/04/choosing-the-field-of-battle/, are some of my favorite reasons for believing. I seriously doubt any of these reasons meet your criteria for reality, but it is impossible to please everybody. Fortunately, I don’t any obligation to try. My answers just have to please me.

          1. Without the inspiration of God, men would not have written the Bible. No other book is like it. The Bible doesn’t flatter us; the Bible holds up a mirror and shows us as we are. The Bible also gives us hope; it explains how God redeemed us from sin. There are about 40 authors, and these tell a coherent story in a book whose writings span 1500 hundred years. Moreover, in spite of the violence and travails of human history, believers have preserved the Bible virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Again I ask, what other book is like that?
          2. Without the God of Israel, the history of the Jews makes no sense. After all that has been done to destroy them, after all they have suffered, the Jews still exist as a nation. No other people has a story so strange and remarkable, not even close.
          3. Without Christ Jesus — without the man who was also the Son of God — the formation of Christianity makes no sense. After His crucifixion, hundreds saw Him — alive. Rather than deny Christ, many accepted death. That includes all but one of His apostles. Only John died of old age. Why? What for? These people had nothing material to gain. In court the testimony of a dying man holds great weight? What is the testimony of a Christian martyr? Is it not the testimony of someone who knows his death, lies just before him?
          4. Christianity makes a difference. As a way of life, loving God and ones neighbors cannot be beat. That’s why 2000 years after the birth of Christ men and women still speak of being born again. Each Christian knows that when they were born again, that birth was real and substantial, not a delusion.

          Like

        6. CT, you state The fact you keep commenting on this blog is proof you don’t believe what you say.

          No. Don’t be so stupid. You claimed I was misrepresenting Galileo. I wasn’t and still am not., You claim I am using this as some kind of ‘proof’ that God does not exist. I wasn’t and still am not. The theme of your post tries to convince readers of it that what I am doing is equivalent to changing history to serve another purpose. This is not true. Because you misrepresent me and my opinions, I responded and explained so that you, too, could gain a greater understanding than the dribble modern apologetics tries to peddle about the man and the effect of his work. That is why I commented… because I do have the requisite knowledge based on primary sources to talk intelligently about biblical scripture, Aristotelian physics, the role of Church at that time, and Galileo’s effect on it. I commented to correct errors and misrepresentations about me and my position.

          Like

  3. @Tildeb

    Leaving untouched your discussion regarding Galileo, etc, I would like to point out a severe contradiction.

    You said: ‘I can think of no faster way to create non believers than to read scripture for themselves before listening to spokespeople and taking their word on what it contains and what it means.’

    You then said:

    ‘Your notion of sin and the need for redemption you burden all of us with I do not find compelling because it’s rationally incoherent.’

    Non-believers are created by scripture study coupled with the incoherent ‘notion of sin and the need for redemption.’ Hmmm.

    Ah, apparently you do not study scripture but through a filter of bias by your own admission. You cannot TRUTHFULLY come away from scripture ignoring sin. Period. Forget prophecy, law, covenants, atonement, grace, forget it all, if you cannot see the obvious ‘notion of sin,’ then the bible is a closed book, and it is no wonder you remain a non- believer. Your own words have hung your premise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CS, by reading the bible, one becomes able to understand why the notion of sin is incoherent. It’s based on a backwards explanation that puts effect before cause. Even you should be able to grasp why understanding this order makes any conclusions based on it rather problematic.

      Like

      1. @ tild

        Well friend, from the statement early that says ‘And God saw that his creation was very good………………,’

        to Him then asking some time later: ‘Adam where are you?’ seems to me that the cause is palpably obvious, and certainly coherent.

        And therein is the great divide that you only need address. It seems that the more information is given in the book, the more uncomfortable one becomes with the ramifications of sin.

        But to say it is ambiguous or incoherent as you say, is just plain untrue.

        Go ahead and say you don’t believe it, but it is clear enough. There is no weakness in the text.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. CS, excellent observation and comment. I was a secularist and thus I know the secularist side of the argument. I know their strategies, tactics, arguments, worldview, presuppositions, biases, etc. I, too, held their misunderstanding of life and history. Individuals like Tildeb and Ark, including “deconvertees,” truly do not have an understanding of the Bible. If they truly did understand the Bible–as they claim–then they would see the irrationality in their own arguments and worldview. I did not see my own irrationality and misunderstanding until I actually read the Word of God. I have read the Bible several times–cover-to-cover–and I have yet to find one error. Alleged errors or “contradictions” are easily refuted with reading the whole passage, chapter, or book–simple reading folks.

          The problem with secularists is they rely on the regurgitation of their fellow secularists. Additionally, secularists STILL rely on age-old secular critiques that have been refuted time and time again by the Bible and Christian apologists throughout the ages. Secularists never seize to amuse me. At the same time, I feel sorry for them because I was once in their shoes. I was once blind, once deaf like them. By the pure grace of God and through faith in Christ Jesus, I am saved. I pray for secularists. Finally, secularists are literally fulfilling the Word of God. If they truly understand the Bible, then they would understand how they are fulfilling the Bible.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Matthew, you indict yourself as a Liar for Jesus when you say I was a secularist and thus I know the secularist side of the argument. I know their strategies, tactics, arguments, worldview, presuppositions, biases, etc.

          There are rules in biblical scripture about doing that. You should check them again.

          Religious people – especially those most concerned about maintaining their freedom of religion – should be the greatest supporters of secularism in the public domain. That you don’t even grasp that basic understanding demonstrates just how poorly equipped you are to supposedly be what you proclaim yourself to be: someone who knows both ‘sides’ of belief and non belief. Obviously, you don’t so this not just false advertizing but outright lying: you in fact know nothing about my non belief when you attribute it to secular ‘strategies, tactics, arguments, worldview, presuppositions, biases’.

          Like

        3. Matthew — Been there too. Thank God I finally read the Bible, and I tried to understand it. Instead of trying to disprove it, I tried to understand why people believe it is God’s Word. When we ask God to help us understand, that makes all the difference. Until we understand we need God — a savior — we won’t seek Him. And He will not force Himself upon us.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Instead of trying to disprove it, I tried to understand why people believe it is God’s Word.

          Same here. I believe I told my story of a Christian coworker. We battled wits but he always seemed to edge me in the debate. He simply told me one day, “You and I can argue apologetics all day. You and I will not change positions. Read the Word for yourself. You will witness the saving grace of the Gospel.” “Yeah right!” I thought. So, like you CT, I wanted to know why my Christian coworker was so convinced that the Bible was true. I did not set to disprove, I merely wanted to understand his convictions. Well, the rest is history as they say. One thing lead to another. Though separated by geography, we remain brothers in the Lord. Praise Christ.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. Great witnesses of scripture. You seized on the importance of having an honest heart Matthew at the possibility the ‘book’ may be unlike all others.

          When I tell people it is self containing, and it proves itself, they say ‘no book does that.’ And I say ‘Exactly.’

          It is the monarch of books, which as an anvil, has wore out every hammer against it.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. tildeb – When you start the name calling, “Liar for Jesus,” you indict yourself as a liar. You are just showing you know in your heart your case is too weak to defend with the logic and reason you claim to defend.

          Look again at your comments. You take that long ago debate on heliocentricism and try to blow it up into something it never was, a wide-ranging, completely overthrowing assault on metaphysics. Thereby you have only demonstrated you cannot define metaphysics.

          Not satisfied with making a fool out of yourself, when anyone offers a correction, you insult their intelligence, thus further exposing your own lack of functional gray cells and shaming any effort your parents may have made to teach you good manners.

          Whether you believe in God or not, one fact should be obvious. When we try to explain what we believe, if we cannot keep a civil tongue in our head, we are probably wrong. When we believe we have the truth, we don’t have to browbeat those who disagree. What would be the point? If they lack the truth, are they not already suffering from their ignorance? Doesn’t the punishment already suit the crime?

          Like

        7. The post you quote and then criticize me was called Killing Metaphysics?… hence the reason I talked about metaphysics. Go figure. And yes, I think it would be stupid to think the title means something other than metaphysics.

          I used the definition for metaphysics found in the 1992 version of Webster’s Dictionary, quoted it, and then explained using three other primary sources what it meant so that the roots could be traced back to the same building blocks as Aristotelian concepts. You seemed to have missed that tethered line of reasoning altogether and inserted your discussion about heliocentrism. The issue was never about heliocentrism; in case you’ve forgotten, it was about how I said that Galileo dismantled the cornerstone of metaphysics (the point of the post, remember?) as the common method used to describe and reflect claims made about reality that the Church took on board as part of its theological model about causal agents in the world having effects on it… hardly a trivial claim for our consideration and one that requires a very great deal of metaphysics to justify them (reality having failed to support the theological claims made about it).

          Now here you are suggesting that I somehow changed the topic and switched to name calling. What I did, in fact, was defend my thesis, which you also misrepresented to be about disproving god. You seem to have great difficulty accurately comprehending not just comments that directly address and criticize your claims but the claims you actually made. I’m trying to help you because you demonstrate that you require a great deal of aid.

          Then, along come Matthew who then claims he ‘understands’ what I’m saying because he’s familiar with ‘secular tactics’ I am supposedly using (I call it ‘knowledge, critical thinking, and respect for reality and what we can know about how it operates) as if we all go into training somewhere to learn how to carry out some organized campaign against faitheists!

          If he did not believe in your God for good reasons he could defend back in the day (just like Wally), then he wouldn’t require any similar ‘tactics’ and secular training he is imagining other than using the brain he has and the reasons he finds compelling.

          But, no. Alas, Matthew is a believer because he saw through these imaginary classes and discovered The Truth (TM) in the bible and so he assumes authority he does not have to misrepresent himself to be positioned by personal experience to understand ‘both’ sides of this issue.

          That is a lie. It is an intentional misrepresentation of what’s true.

          Matthew may have indeed been a non believer at some point but it certainly sounds to me as if he was a non believer for reasons he could not defend. For example, he never read the bible yet thought himself able to do so. It sounds to me as if he was trying to argue biblical scholarship out of ignorance.

          I do not share Matthew’s ignorance. What may be surprising to those who don’t understand what critical thinking is, is that biblical scholarship is secular. It’s a sub-discipline of history. It is the study of the bible and not a study of Christian theology that is an interpretation placed on these selected ‘books’. That’s not biblical scholarship: that’s theology.

          In my ‘secular’ studies, I have read many versions of the bible in my post secondary education to submit compare and contrast thesis papers. Yet Matthew actually seems to think – along with ColorStorm – that I haven’t read the bible! This is very arrogant. I have read many of them… and yes, there really are many versions with different parts and different contrary claims. Knowing how the bible was put together, the problems of translations, and the works on which they were based tends to open one’s eyes to the ignorance required to presume that ‘the bible’ is one permanent and immutable thing. It is not. It is a compilation of copies of copies of copies with nary an original document in sight full of translation differences, new interpretations, and copying errors.

          I have also read different versions of the koran and the Gita and the Tibetan Book the Dead. I have read the haddiths and studied various kinds of buddhism. I am not ignorant about many of the world’s predominant scriptures. That is my training and so I can look at various theologies and consider the claims each makes about reality and see why the differences are so apparent. I can only connect the same kind of thinking that supports one of these scriptures to be considered THE scripture in such diverse areas as alternative medicine, AGW climate change denialism, and various versions of totalitarianism. All use the identical method of thinking – of assigning confidence to claims not supported by independent and compelling evidence – to support their subjective versions of The Truth. And at the rotten core of this method that reliably and predictably and consistently produces incompatible claims about reality is the bedrock problem: misplaced confidence in metaphysical methodology.

          Am I being unfair or inaccurate to call Matthew a Liar for Jesus? Let’s revisit what Matthew actually writes, shall we?

          I was a secularist and thus I know the secularist side of the argument

          No, he doesn’t; he knows of his own ignorance. The confusion over the term ‘secularist’ is the clue.

          I know their strategies, tactics, arguments, worldview, presuppositions, biases, etc. I, too, held their misunderstanding of life and history.

          No, he held and continues to hold his own misunderstanding of life and history. He’s flinging his shit and assuming it will stick to non believers, which is a very common tactic and strategy used by many faitheists. Either one understands what secularism is and why it’s important to support or one does not. Matthew does not. He conflates non belief in his god to be ‘secular’; what he means is ‘atheism’ which, as far as I can tell, is exactly what all of us ‘exercise’ towards beliefs we don’t share.

          Individuals like Tildeb and Ark, including “deconvertees,” truly do not have an understanding of the Bible.

          So sayeth Matthew based on… wait for it… more ignorance. And it’s a lie because many atheists do have a very great deal of knowledge about the bible… including deconverted priests and pastors.

          If they truly did understand the Bible–as they claim–then they would see the irrationality in their own arguments and worldview. I did not see my own irrationality and misunderstanding until I actually read the Word of God. I have read the Bible several times–cover-to-cover–and I have yet to find one error. Alleged errors or “contradictions” are easily refuted with reading the whole passage, chapter, or book–simple reading folks.

          This is the Big Lie. It is “an intentional and knowing misstatement of fact uttered for the purpose of deception.” No one who has read a single version of the bible can say the it contains no contradictions (one only needs to read as far as Genesis to see this contradiction begin to creep in but there are hundreds) and be speaking truthfully. Sure, these blatant contradictions (order of creation between Gen1 and Gen 2, anyone?) can be interpreted to align all the contradictory ducks in row (using circular reasoning as ColorStorm so often relies on), but we call this attempt ‘cherry-picking’ the contradictory bits and insisting that it doesn’t say what it says but has been taken out of context! Note the switch between content and context that is a necessary strategy to accomplish this Herculean task. And it becomes even more obvious when we compare copies of the copies of the copies to other copies of the copies of the copies. Matthew would know this if he actually studied the bible academically for its actual comparative content rather than theologically to support his imposed kumbaya context on it.

          When it comes to my ‘name calling’, I do so to be accurate. Matthew – like many who comment here in support of weak poor arguments in support of a very particular kind of theology, doesn’t care about what’s true; he cares about presenting himself as pious no matter who he slanders along the way (as long as they are non believers). Hence, I award him the earned title of Liar for Jesus.

          Like

        8. I hate to insult your pride, Tildeb, what you spout is not new. I proclaimed the same arguments as you and other secularists proclaim. Nothing new under the sun. Who were the first skeptics of the resurrected Jesus Christ? The disciples, especially Thomas. Who knew that the Messiah — as promised in the Scriptures — resurrected from the dead? The Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin bribed the Roman guard to spread lies among the people, since the Roman guard witnessed the resurrected Christ Jesus. You see, Tildeb, you and rest of the world bought — and continue to buy — the lies about Scripture and the resurrected Messiah. Nothing new under the sun.

          Is it science that casts doubt? Nay. Is it logic and reason that casts doubt? Nay. Just as the disciples, just as the Sanhedrin, just as the Roman guard, and just as the world, you, Tildeb, inherently know the truth — because the truth is self-evident — but you willfully suppress the truth to follow the lies of the secular system (Roms. 1; 1 Cor. 1:22-25, 2:14; Col. 2:8). You feel comfortable there. I once did. The secular system comforts your insecurities because you innately know your end — death and judgment. You wear a persona to hide the obvious revealed in the mirror. The mirror exposes your lies. Tildeb, you keep regurgitating refuted secular arguments and comments since the Sanhedrin. Nothing new under the sun. Trust me, Tildeb, I was once in your shoes and know your worldview very well. I proclaimed your worldview for years in the academia and throughout my careers. Nothing new under the sun.

          Tildeb, are you willing to be imprisoned for a lie? Are you willing to be tortured, beaten, afflicted, or mocked for a lie? Are you willing to spread a lie? Ultimately, are you willing to die for a lie? You would answer no — I hope. No one would be willing to suffer trials, tribulations, or death for a lie. Why? A lie is a lie. No one in his right mind would put himself in jeopardy for a lie. We innately hate lies and liars.

          The opposite is also true. People are willing to put themselves at risk for the truth. Truth is the opposite of falsehood. Truth is worthy of scoffing, affliction, fighting, or death. Why? When one knows something to be genuine, he is willing to put his family, reputation, career, fortune, and life in peril to preserve or unwrap the truth. We naturally love the truth, seek the truth, disclose the truth, and defend the truth, even if it means death as a result.

          The first disciples of Christ Jesus were martyred — excluding John who died a natural death, though he lived a martyr’s life — because they literally witnessed the life, ministry, miracles, supernatural events, trial, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus. As I noted, no one of sound mind would be willing to put himself at risk for his own lies, for half-truths, or for untruths. The disciples of Christ experienced death or exile for their eye-witness accounts of the truth. Would their own eyes deceive them? No. Did they hallucinate everything under the influence of controlled substances and then spread a groovy lie? No. C’mon, we know better than that and thus there is no excuse.

          Countless individuals, high and low, east and west, north and south, throughout the centuries have attempted to silence, to discredit, to disprove, or to destroy the Word of God and the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Guess what? All have failed — miserably. As I noted, the Sanhedrin was the first to spread these misunderstandings of Christ Jesus. The resurrection of Christ is the keystone of Christianity. My challenge to you, Tildeb, or any self-proclaimed “free thinker,” secularist, or deconvertee, is to disprove the resurrection of Christ. My challenge has yet to be satisfied. Not surprising, my challenge is continually answered with regurgitated quotations or pseudo-science of failed skeptics and critics of yesterday and today. Sad yet amusing. No one, including I, will ever disprove the resurrection of Christ. Please amuse me, Tildeb, by disproving Christ Jesus once and for all using satisfactory evidence independent of your worldly presuppositions and biases. If you succeed, Tildeb, I will become a secularist again as you. The evidence surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was my turning point from a blind individual to a seeing individual. Again the truth is self-evident. Scripture interprets Scripture, and Scripture validates Scripture. I will be waiting, Tildeb, I have much time on my hands since I am retired. No secularist has successfully completed my challenge. The truth defends and speaks for itself.

          The disciples of Christ were more than — if I may say, extremely eager — to die for the truth and good news of Christ. If the disciples knew Christ was a fraud, then it logically follows they would have discontinued following Him. Again we hate lies and love truth; truth is truth and falsehood is falsehood. We despise lying so much, we have laws and customs punishing liars, fraud, perjury, and the like. In some cultures, lying is greeted with death. The disciples witnessed profound events involving Christ. Why would the disciples endanger their lives for falsehood? It defies reason and logic to do so. Yet, the disciples were more than willing to jeopardize their lives for the truth.

          You may beg the question: are not people willing to suffer or die for something they believe? It begs another question. If one died for something he believed in, then was not his belief true? Indeed, many individuals throughout history have risked their lives for their beliefs; however, such action does not make their belief true. How many individuals suffered or died for their beliefs, and their beliefs turned out to be wrong later? There is a difference between believing and witnessing; just as there is a difference between light and darkness, between day and night, and between morning and evening. It is one thing to suffer or die for believing in something, it is another to suffer or die for witnessing something in person. The former is less significant because it relies on indirect information (e.g., hearsay), whereas the latter is highly significant because it relies on direct information.

          As mentioned, the disciples observed — in person — the life, ministry, miracles, supernatural events, trial, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus. The testimonies of the disciples are either true or untrue. All possibilities of an alternative explanation are rendered invalid owing to no direct evidence, or circumstantial evidence at best, which, still, does not help the skeptic’s cause. Moreover, all arguments claiming untrue are merely presuppositional, since no one, including I, was there with the disciples and Christ.

          We consider the testimonies of the disciples as true owing to their direct account. In fact, all of history is expressed from direct, firsthand accounts. Pick any event or figure in history. Do we question the legitimacy of September 11, 2001? There were many direct accounts of 9/11 in and around the target sites. Do we question those firsthand testimonies? Do we question the legitimacy of Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Caesar, Pilate, Napoleon, Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln? If we disbelieve the direct witness and testimony of the disciples of Christ, then it logically follows we must entirely dismiss history.

          I will be waiting, Tildeb. Instead of using rehashed secular arguments, perhaps you should challenge your own convictions by simply reading the Word. I did and I have not returned to my previous worldview. Best of luck to you. I will keep you in prayer. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The verb “to lie” is much abused these days, particularly in political commentary. It has come to be accepted as including disagreement or mistake. We would all do better to confine it to its true meaning – an intentional and knowing misstatement of fact uttered for the purpose of deception.

    Tildeb is, I think, saying that Matthew is mistaken if he thinks Tildeb’s position is based on a “strategy”, tactic, or bias. Tildeb’s views, and those of many who share them may well reflect detached study and reflection. Matthew should give credit for that, as we give credit to Matthew not so much to be “lying”, but as speaking carelessly and over-generalizing.

    Like

  5. Oh Dear. Now Matthew has jumped in feet first to the “liar” exchange. Tsk, Tsk.

    Matthew, Of course no one has ever “disproved” the Resurrection. I cannot disprove that Paul Bunyan had a giant blue ox named Babe or that Athena sprung from the forehead of Zeus. Neither can anyone else. How do you expect Tildeb or anyone else to disprove that Jesus rose from the dead?

    At the time of Jesus’s life, he was not particularly well known outside of a relatively small circle. The pagan record (and these particular pagans kept excellent records) is devoid of contemporary references to Jesus and is very sparse with references in the next several decades after the Crucifixion (Josephus is as close as it comes and his record shows signs of some later tampering). Even the Gospels are not contemporary, although they certainly must record testimony from people who were contemporary witnesses. So the record for the accuracy of the events reported in the Gospels is quite naturally sparse. One either accepts this as a matter of faith or one rejects it for lack of detached evidence. Either approach has its own imperatives and rationales, but neither can be accepted as a matter of “proof.”

    You accept the accuracy of the Gospel accounts as a matter of faith. That is your right. Tildeb rejects the accuracy of at least key portions of these accounts (I don’t think many people reject the idea that there is such a thing as an historical Jesus, and I doubt that Tildeb questions that).

    Like

    1. Yes, much of what Matthew said comes straight from scripture. If you are a Christian, what is there to debate? And yet you have compared the central event in human history with a children’s fairy tale.

      Think about what you are saying. Jesus died, and nobody paid any attention. Then Jesus was resurrected and nobody paid any attention. We just got the world’s largest religion because nobody was paying any attention?

      Check the dates we place on the books in the New Testament. These books were written by people contemporary with Jesus.

      Has time made proof one way or the other more difficult? Yes and no. The witnesses have passed away long ago, but we have historical records. We also have the Bible, and that is hardly inconsequential. Does the fact that document stands as the Word of God mean we have any reason to treat it as less truthful? I don’t think so, but that seems to be your reaction.

      The Bible includes the testimony of the primary witnesses, and it puts what Jesus did in context. Given the nature of the event and who it was about, why should we be surprised that the Bible is sacred? Doesn’t the fact that the people of that era preserved this record and the cost they paid for being Christians speaks volumes? Although the “official” records did not survive, the documents that people actually cared about and trusted survived without much difficulty. Hence we got the four Gospels and all the rest of the Bible. But because the Bible records miracles, that book just contains fairy tale evidence.
      🙄

      Like

      1. ‘Nobody paid any attention,’ very good point. ‘Obscurity’ seems to ring a bell.

        Born with animals, as people didn’t want Him. Lived in Nazareth (Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? That’s right, the other side of the tracks) Was thought to be a madman. His friends were misfits. Rides as king on a donkey? Pilate asks: ‘what is truth?’ and the Lord is mute. Died with two other ‘nobodies.’ Resurrected? Yep, but appeared only to His own. 500 witnesses at once.

        Then there is Peter, a new man. ‘You denied the holy one and the just! Then there is Paul. A cursory look at the epistles should settle the matter of the Lord’s existence once and for all.

        But the influence through the years! You and Matthew bring strong testimony, which many think is incontrovertible. Proof after proof if any body wants to see.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Matthew, Of course no one has ever “disproved” the Resurrection. I cannot disprove that Paul Bunyan had a giant blue ox named Babe or that Athena sprung from the forehead of Zeus. Neither can anyone else. How do you expect Tildeb or anyone else to disprove that Jesus rose from the dead?

      Y-a-w-n. Heard this apple and orange comparison before. Please try again.

      At the time of Jesus’s life, he was not particularly well known outside of a relatively small circle. The pagan record (and these particular pagans kept excellent records) is devoid of contemporary references to Jesus and is very sparse with references in the next several decades after the Crucifixion (Josephus is as close as it comes and his record shows signs of some later tampering). Even the Gospels are not contemporary, although they certainly must record testimony from people who were contemporary witnesses. So the record for the accuracy of the events reported in the Gospels is quite naturally sparse. One either accepts this as a matter of faith or one rejects it for lack of detached evidence. Either approach has its own imperatives and rationales, but neither can be accepted as a matter of “proof.”

      Y-a-w-n. Heard this argument before. Be very cautious with Josephus. His works are very telling ONLY about Jewish history and culture; however, he was biased against the Messiah. Josephus did not believe Jesus was the actual Messiah as promised, so relying on Josephus does not help your argument — it is poor. He was a typical unbelieving Jew of his time. His critique of Jesus is no different than the Sanhedrin. The fact of over 20,000+ manuscripts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, over the centuries confirming the accuracy and authenticity of the Old and New Testaments is telling. Scholars determined these manuscripts — all together through meticulous and methodological comparison and scrutiny — account for 99% accuracy and 1% questionable, i.e., nuances between the manuscripts (e.g., different word used). No other text in history can claim such accuracy and authenticity. The text that comes close to the Bible is Homer with 80% accuracy. Please try again.

      You accept the accuracy of the Gospel accounts as a matter of faith. That is your right. Tildeb rejects the accuracy of at least key portions of these accounts (I don’t think many people reject the idea that there is such a thing as an historical Jesus, and I doubt that Tildeb questions that).

      Indeed, I accept as a matter of faith, which means trust, by the way. We all place faith (or trust) in something. Yes? Do not you place faith in your vehicle to get you from A to B safe and sound? Of course. Do not you place faith in the pilot to fly the plane from A to B safe and sound? Of course. I trust what the disciples witnessed — first hand — as accurate and true. Again, they are right or wrong. Their testimony — among others — proves beyond the “historical Jesus.” Please try again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Scout,enough with the apples and oranges; believing in biblical inerrancy in spite of hundreds of blatant contradictions is no different than trusting in your car engine. Open the book, turn the key, and POOF! Christianity works every time.

        See Scout? We’ve been such fools! Context trumps content, donchaknow.

        And now?

        Gird thy loins. Make sure your seat belt is attached. The next stop is the lake of fire.

        Like

  6. Tildeb – I am a believing Christian, but I have no illusions about the basis for my belief. It is faith and I make no claim that it is subject to proof or disproof. Tom and Matthew (Tom is quite consistent about this – I used to think he did it deliberately, but have long since decided he just doesn’t read well) avoid my narrow point by rushing off to hack away at a straw man. My point, was that Matthew cannot demand that you “disprove” the divinity of Christ, any more than that he can demand that I “disprove” the events described in Greek or Norse mythology (or Paul Bunyan). To say these stories have been around for a long time and no one has “disproved” them is a meaningless statement.

    There was no doubt an historical Jesus. Paul was a contemporary, although he did not know Jesus prior to the Crucifixion. The first three Gospel accounts appear to be reworkings of a previous account, now lost to us, but it could well have been contemporary with Jesus (the gap between the estimated date of Jesus’s death and the first Gospel (Mark) appears to be about 30 years. The Gospel accounts, particularly the early ones, are historical evidence of the existence of Jesus. I made no claim to the contrary. The question is whether they are accurate in all aspects and whether there is room for differing interpretations of the events and meanings of the events they describe.

    Matthew, you shouldn’t be dismissive of Josephus. He is probably the best validation from a pagan source of the existence of Jesus as an historical figure. His account has credibility precisely because he was not a believer. HIs objectivity, on this point, is not suspect. It is unfortunate that the historical record lacks other pagan accounts. One might have expected that if someone were actually wandering around a Roman province healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, casting out demons. There are surviving pagan historical accounts of people doing these things in that region at that time, but they don’t include Jesus of Nazareth.

    We could have a multi-day forum on the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relationship to the NT. For purposes of this brief post, I think they tell us more about a contemporary (i.e., roughly contemporary with the life of Jesus) Jewish sect than they do about the events of the New Testament. Perhaps more later on that point.

    Like

    1. Scout — I think you misunderstand the meaning of faith.

      Faith

      I must learn to believe in Christianity. I must have Faith in what Christ taught. That means more just convincing myself the Christian faith is Truth. In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says Christians use the term “Faith” in two senses or two levels.

      In the first sense it means simply Belief — accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people — at least it used to puzzle me — is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue — what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements?

      Lewis goes on to say that you can know something to be true and still be tempted from acting on that belief. The human mind is not ruled entirely by reason. Lewis gives several examples. When we have no other reasonable choice, we can be persuaded by fear not to accept the risk of anesthetics and the surgeon’s knife. A man can become so enthralled by a pretty woman, he trusts her with a secret when he ought not. Or consider the example of a boy learning to swim. The water can be so frightening. When his instructor takes his supporting hand away, will the boy have faith in his lessons or suffer a moment of panic?

      It is not enough to believe that the Bible is reasonably and logically true. I must learn to trust in God and obey his commands.

      When I am tempted, will my faith break? Am I not a mere man? And so I must study the Bible and seek to become ever more steeped in Faith. (from https://citizentom.com/2008/02/29/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-believe-in-god-part-iii/)

      For what I regard as entirely logical reasons, I believe the Bible is true. And yes, the Bible is subject to being proved untrue. If the Bible is not true, then Jesus was not resurrected from the dead. Yet as Matthew explained, nobody can disprove what the Bible says, and it has been tried again, again, and again.

      Like

  7. Thank you, Tom, for telling a Christian that he doesn’t understand the meaning of faith. Very much appreciated, I’m sure, in many quarters. I do hope you don’t make a habit of that.

    It has been understood for millennia that no one can “prove” a negative. No one can “prove” that Christ didn’t rise from the dead. No one can prove that Hercules didn’t clean the Augean Stables. No one can “prove” that Paul Bunyan didn’t have a Blue Ox named Babe. If, as you and Matthew claim, people have tried to offer such proofs about Jesus, they were on a fool’s errand. But you can’t learn anything from that because such proofs are impossible.

    What one can do is assemble known artifacts and facts about the historical Jesus and draw one’s own opinions about his divinity. The Bible is a mix of stories and recountings of historical events. Not all the stories are literally or historically “true”, but many have meaning and purpose that often illuminate a “truth”. Where the Bible does describe an historical event, it has the same issues that any historical account has – issues of memory of the witness/writer, lapses in the re-telling many times orally before being written down, translation issues, etc. Informed Christian faith is a powerful thing. It is not shaken by anomalies in the historical record – it has already incorporated those and formed judgements around them.

    Like

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Oh Lord, It's Monday!

Understanding The Bible In A Way That Transforms You And Your World

The Cripplegate

for a new generation of non-conformists

D. Patrick Collins

liberating christian thought

MUSINGS OF AN IMAGINARY BILLIONAIRE

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Way Online

Christian Insight Through God's Word

Conservative Government

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Night Wind

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Reclaim Our Republic

Knowledge Is Power

John Branyan

something funny is occurring

In Saner Thought

"It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error"..Thomas Paine

Christians in Motion

Christians in Motion

SGM

Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God. – Rick Warren

The Latin Community

"You will be my witnesses." Acts 1:8

All Along the Watchtower

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34

The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Derecho

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Bull Elephant

Conservative and libertarian news, analysis, and entertainment

Always On Watch: Semper Vigilans

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Family Foundation Blog - The Family Foundation

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Cry and Howl

Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off. I Kings 20:11

Twenty First Summer

Thoughtful. Positive. Relevant.

Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Christian College Professor

praythroughhistory

Heal the past. Free the present. Bless the future.

Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Deliberate Joy

Lillie-Put

The place where you can find out what Lillie thinks

He Hath Said

is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort; let it dwell in you richly, as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life

partneringwitheagles

WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT...

PUMABydesign001's Blog

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” Ronald Reagan.

nebraskaenergyobserver

The view from the Anglosphere

Freedom Through Empowerment

Taking ownership of your life brings power to make needed changes. True freedom begins with reliance on God to guide this process and provide what you need.

bluebird of bitterness

The opinions expressed are those of the author. You go get your own opinions.

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Life: the time God gives you to determine how you spend eternity

altruistico

People Healing People

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Silence of Mind

Where God Speaks and Creation Listens

My Daily Musing

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample our enemies. Psalms 109:13

atimetoshare.me

My Walk, His Way - daily inspiration

Nickel Boy Graphics

Comic Strips (Some Funny, Some Serious)

Rudy u Martinka

What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Kingdom Pastor

Living Freely In God's Kingdom

The Life Project

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

In My Father's House

"...that where I am you may be also." Jn.14:3

%d bloggers like this: