Our Tiny Perceptions
It seems like a strange and impossible thing. Supposedly rational and competent people, at least people who see themselves as rational and competent, self destruct. Why?
In the last two posts, we have considered the choice God gives us (GOD GIVES US A CHOICE) and the insane behavior that results when we refuse God’s offer of salvation (IF YOU GIVE A MAN ENOUGH ROPE, HE’LL HANG HIMSELF). Here we will consider as best we can why people would choose to behave self-destructively.
In the last post, IF YOU GIVE A MAN ENOUGH ROPE, HE’LL HANG HIMSELF, we received comments that indicated Christians lack respect for the truth. That is not true.
John 4:23-24 New King James Version (NKJV)
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
scatterwisdom made an observation that some misconstrued.
February 12, 2015 at 11:46 am
Thank your for your reply and your time that you obviously expended to answer my question. However, no one really does know and may I suggest when it comes the matter of faith beliefs, it is a mystery and “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Tom sees the beauty in his beliefs in faith. What do you see in yours I wonder?
In truth, there is a limit to what we can prove. Because our minds are finite, we can only grasp so much information and process it. So we MUST TO PICK AND CHOOSE OUR FACTS and decide what we want to believe. asked john zande if he saw beauty in his beliefs. However tildeb and took ‘s comments to mean he did not respect the truth, but he did not say that. He merely said (here) that “which beliefs are truth is a matter of choice.”
We choose to believe about God what we choose, but that does not make what we believe true. Our choice says how we each define the truth, but we do not know the whole truth. God is infinite and His universe is infinite. How can we know the whole truth about either God or His creation? We can only know God through what our hearts tell us must be true, what the Bible tells us about Him, and the wonder of His creation. We cannot sense God directly, and we see too little of His creation to say we know very much.
Each of has our own restricted point-of-view. We can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste tiny little bits of His creation, and what we each perceive is our reality. Technology and sharing our perceptions with each other allows us to perceive a bit more. Yet no matter what we do what we can perceive and understand is only a tiny portion of what there to be known and understood. Hence, our limited ability to reason must fail us. At some point we must guess at what is important. Then we must trust our heart and choose the truth in which we find the most beauty.
Because each human heart is unique, we each have different loves. Therefore, only some of us will choose to find and believe in the grace and truth that is in the Bible. Should that surprise us? No. Jesus said this would happen.
Matthew 10:34-39 New King James Version (NKJV)
Christ Brings Division
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Other Posts In This Series
- Part 2 => The Problem Of Pride
- Part 3A => Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason” Part A: SEX
- Part 3B => Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason” Part B: STUFF and STATE
- Part 3C => Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason”: SELF
What I find fascinating, but also disconcerting, is the attitude, especially from Tom, toward John Zande’s comments regarding the scholarly and archaeological evidence and acceptance of by the vast majority of scientists and scholars, that being the Pentateuch is basically historical fiction. Plain and simple.
However, the insinuation from certain comments suggests that John has been bamboozled by all the academics and archaeologists he has interviewed over the past two years leaving him starry-eyed and devoid of any credit worthiness, to the point that replies to his comments verge on condescension.
Such an attitude is also an indictment on every eminent individual John interviewed;meaning they are somehow involved in a massive conspiracy to simply discredit Christians such as Citizen Tom.
Of course, the answer to John’s repeated question, regarding a mistake (sic) he has made has not been properly answered, something noted by other commenters.
All in all one is left with the impression that the truth has been recognised for what it is and all of a sudden the ground is beginning to shift underneath Christians like Tom, ( and maybe others who have perchanced to read this thread) OR, the host may be experiencing a touch of paranoia?
Are you actually trying to make a logical argument? Usually, it is just some silly insult.
Do you want to know why when Zande speaks of about those interviews and how all these scholars agree and there is no controversy I don’t feel inclined to reply.
1. Truth is not defined by the number of people who say they believe something.
2. We have an example, this Global Warming thing. Supposedly, all the experts agree and there is no controversy. Then there is the actual weather. It is really really cold outside.
3. Because it is easy to use statistics to misrepresent the truth, people use statistics to misrepresent the truth.
4. When we can discuss the actual evidence, why do we need to discuss something else?
I am extremely pleased to hear this. Maybe then we should consider the unverifiable claims that surround Christianity and the number of people who assert them?
For the record, the claims from the academics and scholars John Zande has interviewed are based on evidence, as he has been at pains to convey.
You throw a meaningless irrelevant example into the mix to try to strengthen your point, yet have not as yet addressed the point at hand. Why is this? Why do you seem to avoid addressing John Zande’s erudite comments in a similar fashion?
Where have stats in Zande’s argument been used to misrepresent anything?
4. Which evidence would you like to see?
All I, and a few others, have observed is your apparent attempts at obfuscation and avoidance of honestly addressing the issue.
Why is that?
If the vast majority of the relevant scholastic and archaeological world consider the Pentateuch historical fiction backed with evidence what is there you are having difficulty accepting?
And if you dispute this academic view then at least offer some evidence that might go some way to refute all these highly qualified people who have devoted a large part of their lives to this very topic.
A little bit of integrity would be genuinely appreciated.
Arkenaten – I examined some Zande’s supposed evidence, some of that which he says involves no controversy, and I discovered nothing support his claims. What have you added?
I have to prove something. You don’t? That’s integrity?
Which evidence have you examined, and what counterarguments have you found? If you can be specific, that’d be great. Claims are all well and nice, but the meat is what is important. Which digs are you referring to? What is the evidence that has been found? Who are the people who have led the digs, and what institutions do they work for? Could you provide the titles of their peer-reviewed published papers? That would be greatly appreciated, so I can look into it myself.
Once again, the theological two-step.
You have addressed nothing, not even referencing the evidence you have examined, and I for one am intrigued. Of the evidence available, which evidence is it that you have so thoroughly examined in the space of this thread that has empowered you, a fundamentalist Christian who considers the bible probably inerrant to make such a judgement call?
I would venture, that, like so many fundamentalists,you are merely afraid of facing the serious consequences to your religion that the unraveling of the Pentateuch myth will inevitably mean.
And once more, the fundamentalist throws the word ‘prove’, onto the table.
The word is evidence , Tom. Evidence.
And yes, your lack of integrity in this regard is obvious.
As the saying goes; your slip is showing.
When we can discuss the actual evidence, why do we need to discuss something else?
If I recall, I did provide quite a lot of the evidence, here, or on some other thread. You even made a comment about how much there was. You didn’t, however, seem to want to discuss it.
From my position — a lifelong non-theist and a lifelong learner — John Zande’s comments were interesting but problematic. There’s an old saw along the lines that people seem authoritative on a topic to the exact extent that you are unfamiliar with the topic. When John Zande headed into areas that I was familiar with, he got into some trouble.
I expect that there is substance behind much of his evidence, and I will pursue this at some point, though as the dyslexic expression goes “I don’t have a God in that fight.” But by taking his case too far, he substantially weakened it.
At the same time, I find that Matthew’s extremely weak faith is … disappointing. He clearly implies that were he convinced of any errancy at all in the English nth translation of the Bible he happens to like would mean that his faith would utterly collapse, by what he asserts is pure logic.
That don’t impress me much.
Especially since he is fixed on so many components that he requires be absolutely true — but that I personally know from thousands of hours of involvement with the topic are false. So I see that the ice he stands upon is fragile indeed.
I find that I am more in agreement with Scout on this issue. Citizen Tom (who takes his moniker from a fierce anti-Christian, interestingly) considers people like me foolish … or in the word introduced today, “crazy.” Perhaps I am, but I did not arrive at my current thinking lightly, or without a substantial investment of time.
And yes, there is a big difference between evolution research and climate research, which is the huge amount of money and careers that are at stake in the latter. There are tremendously contentious issues of influence, mistake, and fraud involved in climate science, with many billions of dollars influencing outcomes. Evolution research, in all of its different disciplines, simply does not elicit that sort of financial interest.
But I am more inclined to engage here upon the issues of Constitutional conservatism, promoting and protecting the sort of limited government that our founders and framers envisioned and originally built, and which has been going quite clearly awry. On this, Citizen Tom and I completely agree, and this is true of a great many people of many faiths or none.
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
Hi again Keith
Just to your point “When John Zande headed into areas that I was familiar with, he got into some trouble,” my only point was that “Nature’s God” (capitalised) was not in any way, shape or form the “Middle Eastern god of the Pentateuch.” That was it. There really wasn’t anything deeper than that.
In your understanding, is this also true of “the Supreme Judge of the world”?
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States”
In all honesty, I hadn’t considered it before. I didn’t even know that was tacked on down the bottom. “Supreme judge of the world” is quite cryptic, I think you’d agree. Deistic belief is not without a sense of order and justice, a natural balancing of all things, so considering the deistic traits of many (most) of the founders (framers, at least) I’d say it’s an appeal to that notion of cosmic scales. I mean, if they meant to say Yhwh they’d just say Yhwh, wouldn’t they? They’d say “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…”
But not everyone uses that name for God. Not even all Christians. More to the point, while the phrasing is inclusive enough to encompass all believers in a God who takes a personal interest in the affairs of men, what the various phrasings eliminate is the notion of God being simply “the laws of Nature.” The laws of Nature would not care if the nascent republic was justified in its actions or not.
As mentioned before, Locke gets here through both a Christian (specifically Protestant) outlook that appeals to Scripture for God’s idea of good, and gets to this point through reason and the idea of natural law as deduced by Aristotle. (Even Augustine of Hippo pursues this line of thinking, as does Thomas Aquinas at even greater length. They show that good is a valuable thing, and not strictly dependent upon faith for its determination.)
Since Locke was tremendously inspirational to the framers, they were quite familiar with both of Locke’s approaches. And they knew that the audience they were writing to were not all Christians or even deists. But they made clear in their references to a God that cares, even though phrased several ways and written in an inclusive manner. Thus, your original proposition of Spinozaean God does not hold, I think.
As Einstein put it, “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.” But the God of the Framers, in their minds (or at least in their collective, unanimously approved Declaration), is clearly one who cares, as the Supreme Judge of their efforts.
Now, you don’t really think there is such a being. Neither, in fact, do I. But the question on the table was whether the Framers did, and I think the evidence for this belief is compelling. Agreed?
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
I’m warming to the idea, but I still tend to think the supernal concept was inherently loose.
And they knew that the audience they were writing to were not all Christians or even deists. But they made clear in their references to a God that cares, even though phrased several ways and written in an inclusive manner.
This is brilliantly phrased.
As an aside, and speaking of the re4ligious beliefs of the Founders, one of the earliest representatives in Congress was John Randolph of Virginia. He actually dabbled with Islam, and perhaps practiced it for a bit, though I think those who claim he was the first Muslim in Congress over over-egging the pudding, so to speak. He later took up Christianity again with a zeal, and ordered a bunch of Bibles printed in Arabic for a group he was ministering to in later life.
Hah! No mention of this in Wikipedia, who has him as “John Randolph of Roanoke.” Only an oblique reference to his “phase of youthful irreligion” (bizarre, since he was 40ish at the time referenced). Not mentioned is one of the quotes from Randolph himself in a biography which I have:
This ended in what Wikipedia refers to as a “crisis of faith” and “conversion” — but since they assert that he’d always been an Episcopalian, one has to ask: “Conversion from what to what?”
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
Fascinating! I hadn’t heard of him before, and its always a good day when you learn something new. As an aside-aside, a blog I follow (The SensuousCurmudgeon) dealt with the subject of “is America a Christian nation” a while ago and I copied a section of that article for future reference. They looked into how a Constitution based on Christianity would actually read, and I found that to be a good way to look at the issue. To quote:
Great chatting with you!
Keith – We don’t know if Matthew’s faith is weak or strong. We don’t even know how to measure such things. Please let suffice to say you disagree with his interpretation of the Bible.
Do I think you crazy? No. I think you have a sharp mind and more integrity than most. I am just disappointed in you lack of belief in God.
Jesus told us we should judge others as we wish to be judged. Jesus also commanded us to love each other as He loves us. That suggests to me that if we must render a judgement against someone, we should judge them because their actions show them to be hateful (not loving) to their neighbors.
I can only speak to what I have seen of your work on Internet, but I don’t think you “crazy.” More important, you strive to treat others as you wish to be treated.
“We don’t know if Matthew’s faith is weak or strong.”
Agreed. But in reading what he has said about it, and what it depends upon, the inference seems straightforward. Nevertheless, it’s a situation for Matthew to work out — but I would be reluctant to discuss and demonstrate the mistakes in his assertions if I felt that he would likely rebound and renounce any and all faith. I’m inclined to teach, but not to rob people of their faith. And from what Matthew has said of himself before, as a non-believer he was … pretty mean.
A different position, not incompatible, would be a better landing place. There is no inherent conflict, for example, in the position of an “old Earth Creationist” and evolution research, though Matthew evidently believes this position heretical.
This topic is strange enough to have had Scout and me each announcing agreement with the other. ];-)
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
Bringing up the alternative name for God, “Supreme Judge of the world,” I have heard Mark Levin observe that most people don’t bother to read that part of the Declaration (I have quote it, but most people still don’t read my blog.), but it still did not occur to me to bring it up. I figured Zande had to know already. I guess you have more patience than I.
Sorry, Tom – I guess I overlooked the answer. Perhaps you could give me a link back. I’ll take a look. Your previous links were to non-answers. I think the question is not complex and I’m sure there must be some doctrinal response that doesn’t require much digging. I happen to be of a view that there is absolutely no imperative to assume that OT texts are literal, inerrant descriptions of historical events and still be a believing Christian. However, given the tenacity of some of my brothers and sisters in other wings of the Christian family about literalism, I assume there must be a reason, particularly as it applies to the Old Testament. Looking forward to your help with this.
I think I may have mentioned before in this space that I visited the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky last summer. It was an extraordinarily elaborate facility. Absolutely fascinating. The question in my head as I left was similar to the question I have been posing here (apparently without noticing that someone has answered it). That is: Why is this important? Why is it important to envision a 6,000 year old world? Why is it important to accept the idea of an Ark with millions of species on board (including dinosaurs)? Why is it important to think that dinosaurs co-habited with Adam and Eve and did not become carnivores until after the Fall? I found it completely puzzling, but highly interesting at the same time. It is some illumination of these points that I am seeking.
Why are you demanding that I defend things I have not advocated? That’s because you have created a straw man.
There are many interpretations of the Bible, and there many parts of it that leave me with questions I don’t know how to answer. Noah’s Flood has me confused. I believe it happened, but I don’t know exactly when or exactly how. I don’t even claim to know the age of the earth.
I am just a human being. When God created the earth, I was not here. When God flooded the earth, I was not here. When Jesus died on a cross, I was not here. Nevertheless, I believe God created the earth, cleansed it with a flood, and that Jesus rose from the dead.
Do dinosaurs fit into that somewhere? I suppose so, but I have never seen any. Have you?
Just have to tell you this is one comment of weight and sobriety.
Nope – haven’t seen any dinosaurs, but I have seen crocodilians and lizards that give some sense of some of their characterisitcs. My understanding is that they have been extinct for quite some time. I’m old, but not that old. Why do you ask if I have seen any?
I don’t believe the Flood happened in the sense of a deluge which covered the entire surface of the Earth and upon which Noah floated in an Ark crammed full of breeding pairs of every species of animal extant at the time. I do sense that there might have been some sort of regional catastrophe in Mesopotamia that gave rise to a story about survival.
Actually, I dined out on dinosaur today, as well as a good helping of dinosaur eggs. Chicken, in the colloquial expression, among the birds as a still-extant line of therapod dinosaurs.
One of the “evidences” cited against evolution is the fact that the cytochrome C of a chicken is much closer to that of an alligator than to that of a human. But this makes perfect sense; chickens are indeed feathered reptiles, whereas humans do not have reptiles in their lineage at all. The early amphibians split into protomammals and reptiles (oversimplifying here), and we came from the other branch of the tree. The two branches are marked by the presence (or absence) of an additional hole in the skull above the jawbone through which more muscles pass. We are one-holers (though the process of moving bones around to make the inner ear has complicated things a bit); birds are two-holers like all reptiles.
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
I believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant Word of God (2 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:21). The Bible declares there is only one, true living God (Exo. 20:3-4; Isa. 44:6, 45:5-6; John 14:6). The Bible declares there is only one, true revelation, and the words of the Bible are true and unchangeable (Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19).
Christ Jesus, who is the true, living God made flesh (John 10:30; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; Col. 1:15), pointed to events in the OT as literal, historical events, not allegorical or symbolic like the darkened, feeble minds of men surmise (Eph. 4:18). So, Scout, was Christ mistaking these literal, actual events for allegory? Surely you know. If so, then Christ violated His own holy character and revelation (Exo. 20:16, 23:1; Deut. 5:20; Prov. 12:17, 14:5, 25:18; Matt. 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). If the OT, especially Genesis, is allegory, then it logically follows Christ Jesus is allegory. It is not a huge leap in logic, it is only logical. The Word of God is true or not true; not half allegory and half true. If you rid Genesis, then you discard the entire Bible. Christianity — and Christ Himself — rest entirely on the OT, in particular, Genesis. It is all or nothing.
As for the 6,000 years (i.e., Creationist) versus billions and millions of years (i.e., Evolutionist), both sides are merely presuppositional. Both sides cannot claim accuracy on how old things are in the universe. As I have mentioned numerous times before, the body of scientific literature proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that dating methods are unreliable, biased, and inefficient. So, both Creationists and Evolutionists have a problem regarding age of things. Nevertheless, the Creationist does have an upper hand so-to-speak. Creationists, myself included, believe the heavens and earth to be between six and seven thousand years of age owing to the chronology provided in the Word of God.
As I have mentioned numerous times before, one cannot mix the Word of God with worldly philosophies and traditions of men — oil and water. Again, ICR and AiG do an excellent job of refuting Theistic Evolution, Gap Theory, Framework Hypothesis, etc. etc. etc. The Word of God alone refutes said philosophies. It is very simple folks. You know what? Come to think of it. Mankind never seizes to amuse me, that is to say, men take the simple (Matt 11:25-30) and make it complex. Thus says the Lord, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
Praise Christ for organizations like ICR and AiG (and many others) who defend the inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant Word of God against the god of this world and those who are under his subjection (Isa. 6:9-10; John 12:39-40; 2 Cor. 4:4-5; Col. 2:8). Scout — if I may suggest — start reading and relying on the Word of God (sola Scriptura). The questions or concerns you have are easily answered in the Word through proper hermeneutics. Scripture interprets Scripture, and Scripture validates Scripture. I was once in your position, Scout.
Citizen Tom does not like the idea of this forum being a place to refute false assertions, and I respect that. Come on over if you feel capable of defending your statements made above.
But I would observe, Matthew, that you have never read the Word of God, and don’t know what it says.
At best, you’ve read multiply-translated versions, each time distorting the meaning of the words. Such distortions are inherent in the nature of translations, although in some cases the distortions had political motivations. The most famous version of the Bible was one created by a government committee — one that allegedly included Shakespeare — and was itself a “refutation” of a version from most of a century before. (This is despite borrowing about 80% of that version.) So which version is perfect? The one that translates the phrase into English as “Gog and Magog” — or “China and Russia”? That speaks of “great winds from the North” — or “missiles”?
You may complain that these later, trendy versions were trying to adapt to the needs and understanding of the people of the times. And you would be correct … but this applies equally to the King James version, to Tyndale’s, to Martin Luther’s astounding German version (handwritten in a few weeks!) to the Vulgate, to the Hebrew and Aramaic texts selected and assembled in the 300s under Constantine’s direction. None of which are “originals” and each of which was translated in that long chain, one from the other.
Your faith would be more secure, I would think, by assuming that there IS a Word of God, and that whatever version of the Bible you happen to favor this week (Citizen Tom quotes from many) is an imperfect attempt to pass along essential truths, limited by language and the understanding and experience of the men of those times. Seek those essential truth, but don’t hang your faith on the notion of God speaking thousands of years ago in the particular English words of the version you happen to like.
But my main interest is in the science side of this. I am readily familiar with the background of each of your comments on dating technologies, evolution, and so on. If you really believe what you say — and your faith would not be harmed by learning the truth (as that is not my goal) — please drop by. I will be happy to engage you, with respect and with logic and with well-founded sources. A caution, though: A number of my current friends and readers were formerly young Earth creationists before our meeting.
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
It’s probably worth noting that Tyndale was trying get a sense from various sources including Greek and Hebrew. His contemporaries did not like the result; you could say he was fired.
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
Now be fair. I have no problem with debate, and I don’t make a practice of telling people I don’t want them to comment here. If someone wants to politely discuss politics or religion, they are welcome to do it here.
Generally, I would like it to have something to do with the post, but I don’t even insist on that. I have not even stop Zande from posting his comments. I just don’t see the point of trying to refute his long list of ill-considered notions about the Bible and Christianity. Have you looked at his website? It’s designed to irk, not reason with people. When he insist upon presenting as incontrovertible fact things that are nothing of the sort, I just don’t see the point of engaging in any more debate with him.
I will agree that few people actually read the Bible, not even a version in their native language. It is certain that few can read the Bible in ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The best most of us can do is check multiple translations in our own language and pray for guidance. I suppose, however, I could hunt some online courses.
With respect to issues like the Theory of Evolution, Noah’s Flood, and the Creation of the earth, I plead ignorance. I have a fair amount of scientific training. So my ignorance doesn’t stem from that. I suspect the earth is much older than 6000 years. My problem is that we have such a small sample size. Much of the science we use is only decades old, but we are trying to project back thousands, millions, and billions of years. I think I can be forgiven if I doubt our ability to do that. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Do I think people have done a lot of good scientific work on the Theory of Evolution, plate tectonics and such things? Yes. However, science has gotten very politicized. For example, some of the Global Warming research includes just plain fraud. People have been taking sides over creation theory for an even longer period, too few control the funding sources. Therefore, I have a wait and see attitude.
Have you looked at his website? It’s designed to irk, not reason with people.
In my defense, my site is a healthy mixture of irk and serious issues 😉
Also consider this; “A House divided amongst itself, cannot stand.”
Does it matter?
If one considers the discipline of historiography, one will come across two sub-disciplines: Historicism and Organicisim. Basically if one studies the past and the people of those times they must act as if they have landed on an alien planet, and those people there have nothing common with your own morals or values. So when one considers the above quotation, and who has claim over such words, does it matter? Could it be used in completely different context? If someone in Christ time heard that how would they interpret it compared to in Lincoln’s time.
We all must consider that ideas and the times that invoke these ideas might be very different from each other, and our own.
John it’s because you’re ignoring the discipline of historiography.
You’re making bold assertions without connecting the dots. Here’s an example: NOTE GENERALIZATION: ‘You claim that Lockean thought basically ripped off (or was influenced) Spinoza.’ This would be much like if I claimed that, ‘Spinoza ripped off the Stoics.’ However, I think what folks are having a hard time wrapping their mind around is that you’re ending with Locke built off of the foundation of Spinoza, the end. Whereas you should probably argue how Spinoza arrived to this conclusion just as you’re asserting how Locke arrived at his own.
You’re attempting to argue the discipline of historiography without invoking its name or discipline, therein lies your problem. This is why folks would and could make claim that your facts are not facts.
No, no, no, that’s not what i was saying, or implying. It was a side comment which has taken on a life of its own here. Apologies.
Tom- what is the significance of the title you gave to this post and the Hangman’s noose graphic? It doesn’t seem to have much to do with any of the discussion. I know you have a penchant for speaking of yourself in the plural, but I have always regarded that as a stylistic oddity. I also don’t really view you as “self-destructive”, at least not in any obvious sense.
In any event, getting back to the comment flow, John Z takes a very historical-based view of the OT. He offers as “facts” things that can be historically verified. You rather churlishly accuse him of “making up” facts and claim that at least some (perhaps all, – you are not very specific) of his sources are “nonsense.” Essentially, after he lays out the underpinnings of why he feels as he does, you call him a “liar” (which is the only possible conclusion one can draw from accusing someone of “making up” facts). I think you owe him specifics for that kind of personal rudeness. Certainly it does none of us following the discussion any good if you withhold information that would inform the debate. Assaulting someone’s integrity creates the obligation, I would think, to be specific about how you know him to be lying. Otherwise, people will (I hope incorrectly) conclude that you just attack a person’s character because you are frustrated with his opinion and the reasons he cites in support. From everything I’ve read here, Mr. Zande has been punctiliously polite and calm in his statements and has given no cause for rude treatment.
It brings us back also to the question that perplexed me a few weeks ago in other posts and comments at this site as to why some Christian believers require every word and passage of OT texts (or even NT texts for that matter) to be literal accounts of actual historic events (although some of them clearly do refer to or describe events that actually happened). I still find that a kind of self-defeating approach that very much weakens the strength of these writings. I never got any kind of answer (although there were some wordy evasions, diversions, and digressions) to my question. If one requires inerrancy and literalism in every detail, these texts are doomed to being just a collection of man-written impostures. If one takes them for their underlying, non-literal insights, they have great strength and durability as guidance in a life of faith.
And this is coming that Liberal scout who calls himself a Conservative.
I have read Zande’s comments. I have visited his blog. I have considered his facts and his conclusions. I have reached my own conclusion about the veracity of his assertions. You can read what I wrote. However, Keith has added his observations
(https://citizentom.com/2015/02/12/why-would-a-man-hang-himself-part-1/#comment-57182 ). Since Keith writes with greater clarity than I can manage, perhaps what he has to say will enhance your understanding.
Anyway, I don’t object to Zande’s religious beliefs. I am not certain what they are. It is hostility to mine I find offensive.
So long as we respect each others rights, what we believe is between each of us and our Maker (whoever we think that may be). God judges each of us. It is certainly not my job. Nevertheless, we each have the right and sometime the responsibility to condemn bad behavior. In his posts and comments Zande misrepresents the Bible, Christianity, and history. Whether he is an outright liar or just so biased he cannot think straight I don’t know.
I have spoken to this issue before => https://citizentom.com/2015/01/18/on-genesis-what-is-an-allegory/#comment-56694. And you just keep building up a straw man and telling me you are puzzled. So? It is your straw man, not mine.
I am genuinely interested to hear where you think i was just making things up. That’s quite an accusation, and as i do strive to be accurate in all I do and write I’d like to know where you think i’ve erred so, if needed, I can rectify that in the future.
Everything we communicate is to some extent propaganda. We pick our facts, we put our slant upon those facts. We are almost helpless to do otherwise. Nevertheless, there comes a point when we obviously have lost all objectivity. We don’t attempt to be objective. At best, we just make an effort to appear objective. I do believe you have gone well past that point. Even when you have already had your question answered, repeatedly by multiple bloggers, you just ignore the answer.
I’m sorry, but what question are you referring to?
And if you’re referring to my position on the historical veracity of the Pentateuch, then I can assure you I have looked at every argument objectively. Just so you know, I spent over 6 months in 2013 interviewing over 80 of the world’s most prominent rabbis from every Jewish movement, as well as dozens of the worlds leading biblical archaeologists, most of whom are based at Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem… some of whom i’m still in contact with. I know the subject very well and am only re-stating what is the overwhelming consensus. There is no “controversy” as you have been wont to imply. I’m sorry, but this is just a simple fact. The narrative of the Patriarchs, Egypt, Moses, Exodus and Conquest were thoroughly dismissed as myth over two generations ago, and nothing has changed in that time to alter the consensus. As i previously mentioned, the only area where there is still a live debate regarding biblical archaeology is whether or not Judah had an urban society in the 9th Century BCE, and that concerns the narrative of the United Kingdom which could have, or more than likely didn’t exists as described, before the Pentateuch’s first drafts in the 7th Century BCE.
These are the facts, and they have no concern for whether you like them or not. They just are. Facts. As Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe said:
But please, if you can give me an example of what you are actually referring to (my “making things up”) I would truly appreciate it. Like I said, I’m at pains to have all the information I present accurate, and if i’ve erred I’d like to know where, so i can fix it.
One of the truest expression is: “you can’t make this stuff up.”
You began “I’m sorry, but what question are you referring to?” Then you followed up with 302 words, grinding your axe in preparation for combat. Do you really care question what question I was referring to? Not really. As demonstrated in your next comment, that question was after thought, really just a pretense of objectivity and good manners.
Quite on the contrary, I do want to know what question was (apparently) answered but which you think i have ignored.
And the 302 words were in response to what I am assuming you are alluding to in your “you make things up” accusation. If that wasn’t the case, then I apologise. The point is, i have no idea what you’re actually talking about because you haven’t told me what, exactly, you think I “have just made up.”
Will you now, please, let me know what you think I have made up? I’ve asked three or four times already.
In previous comments (here, for example => https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/god-bless-america-no-wait/comment-page-1/#comment-4498), I have observed that you take stuff that really has nothing to do with what you want to prove to “prove” what you want to prove. Why do you do that? I don’t really know, but it is now obvious. So your credibility is shot.
Like ColorStorm, I really don’t have any interest in turning this blog into a forum for the refutation of your beliefs. That is, I don’t want to “spin my wheels” constantly refuting your ill-considered notions about the Bible and Christianity. It is a waste of time.
I’m afraid that doesn’t answer anything. You directly accused me of “making things up” yet haven’t identified a single area where I have “made things up.” I will take your accusation then to be simply an emotional outburst—an overreaction—to not liking the facts I have presented.
That’s fine. No hard feelings.
What, however, you call “ill-considered notions about the Bible and Christianity” doesn’t make any sense. I haven’t even talked about Christianity, and in regards to the veracity of the Pentateuch, as I have previously stated, I’m merely restating what is the overwhelming consensus position of the world’s leading experts in bible archaeology (most them Israeli’s), and the overwhelming consensus position among Jewish rabbis who, I remind you, have more invested in their origin tale being true than you could ever hope to have in a thousand lifetimes. These are impressively intelligent men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Tanakh, and they would not dismiss their origin narrative if it were not for overwhelming evidence. I hope you can accept this truth from an honestly objective position.
As Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine to eloquently put it:
Again, these are dangerous intelligent men and women, and with that in mind, please meditate on the thoughts of Rabbi Adam Chalom PhD (he is talking about the Pentateuch):
Anyway, I feel you’re getting testy as this information (regardless of its truth) is not to your liking. It doesn’t fit with your worldview, and you’d prefer it just all went away. I can understand that.
It’s hardly a “straw man”, Tom. It’s a question. The link is just another first person plural pot of bromides. It doesn’t address whether in your view (or in Matthew’s, or other commenters on that thread, or this one), it is essential to take the OT texts as literal inerrant descriptions of historical fact to be a “Christian” as you define that term, and, if so, why. I thought someone might want to educate me and others on that. I remain curious, but increasingly doubtful that anyone has an answer, at least not on this site. I may do some research elsewhere and I will report back if I find anything.
Getting back to my point about your attitude to John Z. What facts did he “make up”? He seems to rather civil in his tone here. His discussion with Keith seems nuanced and mature – both, through engagement refine the discussion.
PS – when did I become a “liberal” ?
It must have happened during my sleep last night. 50 years of conservative engagement down the drain, and I didn’t even notice it when I woke up but Tom did from afar. A more probable event is that you call people “liberal” with whom you disagree on this or that point but with whom you are not able or willing to engage on substance.
Just because you ask questions as if they have not been answered does not mean you have been given an answer. In fact, when you have been given an answer, it means you ignored it.
Hi Tom. Apologies, but Colorstorm is not releasing my reply to you, so out of courtesy to your thoughtful reply, i’ll post my response here.
Oh I know of Locke (he should have his name of the Constitution), and he was influenced by Spinoza: nature’s god, exactly as it is written. It doesn’t, after all, say Yhwh, or the god of the Pentateuch, or the god of Christianity, does it? No. It says “nature’s god,” and that concept comes from Spinoza.
Because we were a nation of Christians and still retain a Christian heritage, our laws respect the individual’s right to freedom of conscience. Because our laws respect the individual’s right to freedom of conscience, we do not have a theocracy. In fact, we have something quite unique. We have a government based upon God-given rights.
I’m afraid to say, but your ignorance of history is showing here. The entire concept of formalised religious freedom and human rights can be traced back to Cyrus the Great, not Judaism, or Christianity. Have you never heard of the Cyrus Cylinder?
From the United Nations:
Even the Ten Commandments are nothing new. They originated with a pre-Pharoah tribe of Egypt called the Kemet, whose concept of truth, law and justice was consolidated into a theory called ‘Ma’at’. The ten commandments of the Bible are derived from the 42 principles of Ma’at.
So, when you say, “Our forebears neglected to teach their children about the Bible” what you should really be saying is “Our forebears neglected to teach their children about Cyrus the Great, and Ma’at.”
Let’s see, we have the United Nations, and the dismissing of the Ten Commandments, ahem, yea rather, you have artfully done away with the God of heaven in one sentence. Wow.
Sure we can easily address the stellar UN, (sarc.) and certainly there is nothing to talk about regarding Moses, Sinai, the golden calf, the Exodus, and how this all leads up to the harmlessless of a kid saying ‘God bless America,’ but you are in more capable hands here, (apologies to CT) for I have seen your footprints at other places, and how you would be perfectly happy having a two month comment thread with you desiring to supplant God’s word at every step of the way, just as you have done with this comment here,
Your mockery of Christ and His word will be rejected, just sayin.
Who’s mocking? Talking about historical facts is simply “talking about historical facts.” And I’m not sure why you’re focusing on the UN, as what was the subject was Cyrus the Great and his formalisation of human rights, including (importantly) the freedom of all people to practice their religion. Tom was implying this notion was rooted to Christianity, so I was obliged to tell him where the idea actually came from.
(Note: First posted at February 14, 2015 at 11:49 am, but not as a reply.)
So Spinoza has a monopoly on the phrase “Nature’s God”? How can you believe that? If every time someone now famous or at one time famous uses a phrase he gains a monopoly on it?Just the thought of such twisted nonsense makes my head hurt. And your idea of what makes the Bible unique!!! OUCH!!! 😦
Here is a correct translation of the Cyrus Cylinder => http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/c/cyrus_cylinder_-_translation.aspx.
This probably explains your confusion.
If you had better control of your biases, would you have fallen for that? I doubt it.
What the Cyrus Cylinder seems to do is corroborate what the Bible says. Cyrus let the Jews return to Jerusalem.
Anyway, I am in no hurry to answer in more detail. If ColorStorm doesn’t want to post your stuff, so long as you are polite and don’t violate the rules I have posted, …..
Cheers, and no, I’m not saying Spinoza has a monopoly on the idea, just that his writing were more broadly recognised. 🙂
But no, the Cyrus Cylinder is the first formalised articulation of human rights. There’s nothing in the bible which even begins to hit upon this law, except for perhaps in the Golden Rule. which is a wonderful idea, a fine philosophy, but it was far from being new. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”
That was a silly response, but I suppose I should have expected as much.
The Spinoza thing is just absurd, and the Cyrus Cylinder is obviously not what you say it is.
Did I say the freedom of all people to practice their religion was exclusively rooted in Christianity? No. But, for some inexplicable reason, to prove that Christianity provided the Founders’ motivation to adopt the idea I now have to prove that the freedom of all people to practice their religion was exclusively rooted in Christianity. I don’t see the point of accepting such an impossible hurdle.
Nor do I see the need to disprove everything you say. Even if I prove 10 of your sources are just nonsense, you will just throw up more nonsense.
You make up your own facts, and then you claim to have the truth. Is there any point in debating you? No. And that’s why I have made no serious effort to do so. I have just picked some of the low hanging fruit.
When you play these games, please remember there is a process that leads to sin: DOUBT, DENIAL, DECEPTION, AND DISOBEDIENCE. The deception is ultimately self-deception. That’s why disobedience to God is a sin.
What’s absurd about Spinoza? Are you denying he wrote about nature’s god? But anyway, this is all beyond the point, which was that your declaration of independence did not mention the Christian god, rather nature’s god.
What facts “have I just made up”? Please, don’t level accusations without putting some meat behind the claims. Are you doubting all the earlier sources for the golden rule I listed? Feel free to look them all up yourself. I assure you, I don’t have to lie to make my points. I leave that, typically, to apologists.
And the Cyrus Cylinder is exactly what it is. I read your links. The protests are merely directed to the fact that Cyrus was a conqueror, and that part of his reign has been overlooked. Sure it’s poetic, and no doubt embellished, but the idea of returning all gods to their sanctuaries is recognised as religious freedom for all conquered people. The reason for drawing your attention to it was merely because you alluded to religious freedom being so in the States because of Christianity, which is a ludicrous claim. That is revisionism.
Oh boy. . .this argument has been refuted numerous times. The so-called “golden rule” does not exist in the Word of God, anywhere, period. Actually read the Bible and actually read theologians and scholars who refuted this arguments — research it. As the Word of the Lord says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Geesh.
The so-called “golden rule” does not exist in the Word of God, anywhere, period.
It’s in the Beatitudes, although as I pointed out, the idea (the formalised, written idea) has a far, far, far older source origin.
BTW, great post on Deism and the Founders.
@John Zande, who wrote:
I am intrigued at the notion that this bloodthirsty conqueror, who restored the gods of his own followers whose temples had become “dilapidated” but then demanded that those followers pray to HIS god for his own long life, is an example of religious freedom.
I don’t think that any reasonable reading of the cylinder could judge it so; this was more along the lines of an Obama-esque campaign promise. In essence, he was saying “I’ve just utterly conquered you, but look how great I am. I’m the chosen of the gods and doing wonderful things for you! So don’t rebel against me … and you may kiss my feet.”
This, combined with the fact that this was apparently contrived by Babylonian priests as a propaganda piece, and the utter vagueness of the context of what restoring those temples meant, makes this a poor poster child indeed for religious liberty.
Not too long thereafter, Aristotle expressed the idea clearly and with exhaustive detail. His notions and writings on ethics, reason, and the nature of humanity are worth studying.
You may not be aware of two things, perhaps due to an unfamiliarity with the founding documents of the United States.
First, Locke was himself a noted Protestant theologian, and authored two books on theology that were highly respected. In these, he stressed what he thought of as the divine nature of rights, whereas in other works he appealed more to reason for their derivation. He believed that these were not incompatible concepts, and referenced both in his Two Treatises on Government, asserting that:
Second, it would be tough to take the reference to “Nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence as meaning a strictly impersonal reference to a nature uninterested in the affairs of men. Not long thereafter, the same Declaration of Independence makes an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for approval. There are two other references to God in the document, and “Creator” hardly seems impersonal.
The Framers were generally religious, and to the extent that deism can be conflated with Christianity, the huge majority could be described that way. Certainly almost all of them evinced faith in a Providence overseeing the affairs of men, even if not all specifically believed in the divinity of Jesus. This understanding was a substantial input into the formating of the country, and what came out of this was a brilliant infusion of faith and reason. (Which, it now seems, we are trying to pervert though the opposite pair of expedience and bad aims, which the Constitution was created to avoid and the Declaration explicitly complained of.)
I was reading your evidences with considerable interest. History is a hobby of mine, though my focus has been more on Europe, the Americas, Asia (particularly Japan) and comparatively little about the Middle East. I read your list of points neutrally … until I came to your assertions about Locke and Cyrus and “Nature’s God” (note the caps, in the original Declaration but not your reference to it).
To me, reading neutrally means holding information tentatively, unweighted, until I can obtain more information to support or detract from it to give it more weight. But your references in areas that I am familiar with had the effect of negatively tainting your other assertions, to the point where I am much less inclined to research them based upon your mishandling of what I am familiar with.
Religious liberty is not a new concept; from ancient Greeks through the immense writings of (the immense) Thomas Aquinas, the idea has been discussed with approval. It’s different from “religious tolerance” as had been occasionally and imperfectly practiced in England, largely on the whim of the ruler du jour for his or her political purposes. (George Washington made that point in a letter to an American Jewish group.)
The United States were* unique in incorporating this idea into the founding structure of a nation. A decade or so after its founding, the French tried for something similar — and wound of executing large numbers of people on the barest assertion that they worshiped the wrong way, which in their minds was to worship the new State. (They used a lot of other excuse to kill people; the French Revolution was a horrific business that should not even have the honor of a name similar to the American Revolution.)
I am completely non-religious. I don’t even have an furious anti-religious history (as Citizen Tom and particularly Matthew describe for themselves). But as a student of history, I cannot toss out the antecedents of and creation of the US founding documents as having nothing to do with Christianity.
The influence of that faith on the founding appears to have been, overall, very positive. And the Supreme Court asserted in dicta for much of the next two hundred years that the United States was* “a Christian nation.” As part of this is not to force faith upon anyone, I have no problem with this, and no desire to change it. Moreover, the absolutely brilliant result is worthy of reverence and protection. Most of those who join me in this feeling are deeply religious Christians. The fact that they are sometimes annoyed with my lack of Christianity does not change the fact that with regard to the US, we are fighting for the same goal.
==============/ Keith DeHavelle
* The country name was originally plural; it took a while before this usage changed to refer to the United States as an “it” rather than a “them,” to the annoyance of the states themselves.
Thank you for your comment. I find being on the same side with you quite agreeable.
I always enjoy your visits and visiting your blog (highly recommend it).
Hi Keith, thanks for the thoughtful reply, and your points are noted.
Now, sorry, but if you can’t see “returning gods to their sanctuaries” as the endowment of religious freedom then I’m afraid that’s your problem, not mine. And who cares if it was embellished as propaganda, it’s still a formalised attestation of religious freedom and rights. Splendid 30 meter high oaks don’t just manifest in one moment, do they? You are right, though, to say the Greeks refined the ideas into ways we would more generally recognise today. I would never say otherwise, plus if I did, I’d be contradicting the concerted efforts of Alexander the Great.
Your points on Locke are well taken, although I think you might be stretching it a bit too far to suggest one can conflate deism with Christianity. One expresses a belief in an impersonal, uncaring god, the extreme opposite of the personal, caring god hypothesised in Christianity. Two different trains, travelling in two completely different directions.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I would never say religious belief did not influence your founders. However, in crafting the articles of nationhood they went out of their way to create a secular nation, and they should be celebrated for this. One must however contemplate how their opinions on the gods would have been altered if they’d lived long enough to have had enjoyed an afternoon tea with Charles Darwin, or peruse Dmitri Mendeleev’s first published periodic table, or discuss plate tectonics with Alfred Wegener, ponder the nature of stars with the utterly brilliant Cecilia Payne, or had the opportunity to sit beside Edwin Hubble as he described those receding smudges of light he spied through his telescope.
Thanks again for your reply. It’s appreciated, and I have taken it on board.
It is right to call them fools, I plan to write a series of posts to explain why it is right to do so in the near future.
Regards and good will blogging.
Well, that ought to be interesting, but please be careful.
Because they are both part of God’s Word, the New and the Old Testaments are in accord. Nevertheless, because the New helps us to understand the meaning of the Old, I think it wise to consider what the New has to say before acting upon what we think the Old is saying to us.
Consider Matthew 5:21-26 => https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A21-26&version=NKJV and Matthew 7:1-6 => https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A1-6&version=NKJV.
Should we call them “fools”? I think the answer lies in our motivation. If you are uncertain, then you may as well stick with Proverbs 26:4. Often, our first choice is best.
If we truly think someone a fool, we should not waste what is holy by giving it to them, nor should we cast pearls before swine.
I have nothing really to add in terms of wisdom to this conversation, but I am watching with much interest and hope to learn something. During my blogging time, other Christian Bloggers have sort of chastised me for wasting time engaging with the doubters, while others have sort of done the same for not engaging stridently enough. I am very interested to see how this conversation unfolds.
Thanks for your recommendations. Keep in mind that calling a spade a spade is wise and not foolish, rather than it is what it is..
Regards and goodwill blogging.
I concur heartily with your comments. Just so you know, I decided not to debate the issue any further because I believe the two commentators have made their choice in stone to place human limits on their visions and conceptions of the beauty of faith.
Choice in stone. Perhaps. I don’t know. They may have.
Somewhere I heard a preacher say we don’t convert people. We just show them God’s Word, both the book and its effect upon our life. But we don’t convert anyone.
Later, after considering what it means to be born again, I think I understand. We can take someone to the cross of Jesus, but we cannot bring them to their knees in remorse for their sins and thankful they have been forgiven. We cannot give another person a joy-filled new heart. Only our Lord can do that. Only our Lord can give someone a new life.
Therefore, I don’t intend to debate these fellows in the hope of converting them. I just want to point out some of their biases and flaws in their thinking. I want people to understand we cannot afford to copy someone else’s choice. We each must study the Bible our self.
I surmise the difference between you and me is I subscribe to Proverb 26:4 and you subscribe to 26:5.
Regards and good will blogging.
I think you have the right of it. Thank you for the reference and the guidance.
Here is an interesting translation.
I don’t think it is appropriate for you or me to call these guys fools. They are not stupid, but disbelieving in God is foolish. The Bible says as much. Hence, those proverbs are appropriate.
Anyway, if I am trying to implement Proverbs 26:5, I do need to be careful to consider what that proverb means. Thank you.
I am not calling them fools , I am only delivering this message. King Solomon would judge them as fools based on this proverb 28:26
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered..
Regards and goodwill blogging
I didn’t mean to imply you had called them fools. I just did not want to give any excuse to say we had called them fools.
You observed: ‘We choose to believe about God what we choose, but that does not make what we believe true.’ . Splendid. The mafia has/had their truth, and how many people tried to swim with cement shoes. ‘There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’
You must be a symphony conductor to piece these posts together to make music. There was this fellow named Job too….
Anyway, a fair handling of sensitive topics but keeping the eye on Truth. Good stuff.
All the best.
Thank you for your kind words.