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Posts posted by wellnamed

  1. 24 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    No matter what answer you're given I'm sure you'll find reason to support your presuppositions.


    I think this is too prejudicial, but in any case: I'm not suggesting that you should judge the success of your argument on whether or not I (or Orbit) accept it. I make lots of arguments that are rejected by the people I'm conversing with, and it doesn't dissuade me from believing that I'm right and they're wrong. Several people in this thread can attest to that :P Here I think you're again conflating the merits of an argument with the flaws of people. But it's not as if my cognitive biases or prejudices would render an argument ineffective, and there are others reading.


    I also didn't conclude that you're unable to make an argument just because you're declining to do so. There are lots of reasons why someone might think an argument is possible but decline to make it. For example if you asked me to make an argument for the claim that humans evolved from primate ancestors I would likely decline or defer to others, because it's not my specialty and it sounds tedious. I might try to offer a rough outline of an argument and point you to various books. So that's all fine. What I wouldn't do though, is try to delegitimize the question by saying that the conclusion is self-evident, or that maybe it can only be known by direct revelation and can't be inter-subjectively confirmed, or statements like that. It's those sorts of statements that lead me to conclude that you're not just declining to make an argument, but that you think an argument isn't really possible or even necessary. Obviously claiming that something is self-evident is claiming that an argument is unnecessary.


    24 minutes ago, webmdave said:

    Then there is Presuppositionalism. 


    Yeah. I mentioned Plantinga. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a good article on reformed epistemology which covers this.

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  2. 13 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Not in Reformed theology.


    I know it's not a problem for your theology, but that's not what I meant :P


    I think your answer is basically that you can't give an answer to the question that would satisfy someone from outside of your religious tradition and also that within your worldview you have no reason to be concerned with your inability to do so. That's fair enough as far as I'm concerned.

  3. 2 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Let's say that God chose you, "wellnamed" and revealed himself to you. What good would that do me?


    I agree both that this is possible, and also that it has very little utility from an inter-subjective standpoint. Which raises the question, I think, of why God has apparently chosen to lean so exclusively on such a mechanism for spreading the good news. I'm fond of abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) in this context, rather than deductive and inductive arguments. I think you're allowed to appeal to the idea that God exists, has revealed himself to individuals but not in a way that would allow for much in the way of independent confirmation. I can't prove that this is impossible any more than you can prove God's existence as a logical necessity. But abductively it seems rather implausible that an all-powerful God both desires my communion but also goes out of His way to make His existence so mysterious.


    6 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Oh, you're asking me for the scientific method in order to prove to you the existence of logic and/or how it came to be? Without we are to accept that logic exists. Period, how logic came into existence would require observation of the origin of logic, repeatability, and test-ability. Where you're asking me to provide such method such method falls short of in all theories of origin except by "first person testimony". For example, if the Holy Spirit divinely inspired the biblical authors then the Scriptures are writ by divine authorship which witnessed creation.


    I wasn't asking necessarily for a "scientific method" for determining the truth of the claim. I just asked for some argument that leads from the existence of the human capacity for logical reasoning to the existence of something resembling the Christian God. I would expect a more philosophical argument, rather than an empirical one, but I don't have the argument and I'm not trying to prejudice the response by insisting that it must take a certain shape.


    8 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Period, how logic came into existence would require observation of the origin of logic, repeatability, and test-ability. Where you're asking me to provide such method such method falls short of in all theories of origin except by "first person testimony"


    You're creating a straw-man here. I didn't ask for an argument about the origin of logic. See above: I'm asking for an argument that connects the existence of logic to the existence of God. It doesn't have to be an argument that accounts for the origin of anything, per se. To illustrate, imagine I asked for an argument that connects the existence of a puddle on the ground (which we can both plainly observe) to the existence of a rain storm which came through town earlier. I'm not asking in that case for a history of the entire world or the origin of the storm. You would make an inductive argument that puddles like that one are very often the result of rain storms, you would point to clouds on the horizon, and suggest that the rain storm being responsible for that puddle is the abductively best conclusion, because it seems more likely than someone dumping some water there from a watering can, or etc.


    11 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Scripture doesn't try to prove God's existence, God's existence is an Axiom it is self evident.


    I agree that probably all the authors of Biblical texts believed this. Paul says so more or less explicitly in Romans. As Thales put it, "everything is full of gods". Nevertheless, the existence of God is not self-evident to me, nor to Orbit, nor to many others in the present day. That owes in large part to the large advances we've made in our ability to make sense of natural phenomena. Of course you are welcome to take the existence of God as an axiom, or to adopt something like Plantinga's ideas about "properly basic beliefs". That's an honest answer to the question. I'm not sure it will be satisfying to you or other Christians in the long run, though, because I think that if it's the best answer you have that you should expect the trend towards secularization and loss of faith in traditional Christianity to continue. The problem you face is that this answer is not particularly believable for many people any longer, which is what prompts the question about evidence to begin with.

  4. 2 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    Let's get down to basics and throw every testimony outside a court of law because we consider it inadmissible or unbelievable etc.


    You didn't really answer the question, but I'm taking this to suggest that you think the best evidence for God is the testimony of the gospels? Or that it is at least some evidence?


    FWIW, I don't think @Orbit is asking for a logical proof of God's existence (and by logical I mean a formal, deductive proof that establishes God's existence as logically necessary). I think she's asking for evidence, and merely asking that the evidence be of such a nature that you don't have to accept a lot of Christian presuppositions to find it compelling, hence the request to not beg the question. I think you'll find she would accept the usual range of arguments that people generally use to try to establish the truth of various propositions.


    A few other things:


    - There's clearly a difference between being skeptical of some testimony and rejecting all testimony. I doubt that you accept the testimony of various authors in the Quran. I don't think Orbit rejects the concept of eyewitness testimony in its entirety either, but like you she will accept it in some contexts and reject it in others.


    - You're conflating the logical validity (or soundness) of an argument with the idea of people being logically sound. I think everyone here will agree that no human being is perfectly rational or consistent, but arguments are not people.


    - The claim that "there would be no logic without logos" requires an argument, although it sounds like it could also be part of an actual response to the question. That is, you could argue that God must exist because otherwise logical arguments could not exist, but you'd have to try to support that claim somehow.

    • Like 1

  5. 14 minutes ago, Lefty said:


    Extremely valid question. I'm glad you asked actually. I sincerely wish I could say more but it is as simple as reading it for myself, over and freakin' over in a span of nearly 25 years. Based on churchianity's definitions, I tend to be more of what they call a fundamentalist, but as I have said, I have never followed any preachers or teachers. I truly came to my own understandings simply from reading the King James bible. Unfortunately, there is no way I can prove that. Every denomination I have ever encountered are running counter to what is written in their own book. They simply do not practice what they preach. If they claim that the bible is the true word of god, then that is exactly what it's supposed to be, right? I believed that at one time, and took it as that face value. I had no previous official teachings outside of the basics when I was a child. I started reading it for myself in 1988 with no real understanding of what a belief was supposed to be or what the bible actually said, seeing I had never read more than a verse here and there till then. I simply decided that if I was claiming a belief of being Christian, then I needed to learn what that book has written in it.


    I certainly don't have any issue with pointing out the failure of Christians to live up to their own values. Even when I was one I often said in all seriousness that I thought the best condemnation of a lot of Christians was in John: "by this they will know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another."


    I do think though that your approach to interpreting scripture seems flawed, or at least you're applying it inconsistently. You said it yourself: "I truly came to my own understandings simply from reading the King James bible." You seem to treat that understanding as authoritative. I don't see how you can coherently criticize Christforums for merely offering his own interpretation. He could respond with exactly the same words. He can claim that while he can't prove it to your satisfaction he knows his interpretation is correct because of the level of effort he's made to come to his understanding. One thing I think is clear: he's also spent a lot of time reading the Bible.


    My interest was mostly just curiosity, but I do think there's some value, from a secular/atheist perspective, to revisiting one's approach to the whole question of authority and epistemology. It seems a lot more coherent from a secular perspective to approach religious texts first as just plain old cultural artifacts where you would treat questions of meaning and intent no differently than you might treat questions about Shakespeare's plays. There's a place for scholarship -- especially with regard to placing works in historical context. There's also of course a place for individual interpretation and appreciation, but not with the same kind of emphasis on authority. And I think when you're dealing with human texts in general it's almost inescapable that "meaning" is not singular, nor fixed. It's normal for authors to mean one thing and readers to get something else. And if a text lives on in a culture for a long time then new generations will read it differently, almost necessarily. In practice it's not been any different with biblical texts.

  6. That was a joke. I tell jokes. People tell me they love 'em :P


    I'm not sure if you are aware of the epistemological problem involved with citing a passage from a book to try to establish the authority of that same book? I don't mind the citations but I don't see how they can possibly be persuasive except to co-religionists who already share some basic presuppositions about your faith. They're appropriate enough if you're arguing with Jojo for example. In any case I think I understand well enough where you're coming from (and we could argue about it but I might have to get a little more bored at work before I really wanted to get too deep into it :P), but I find Lefty's perspective rather intriguing.

  7. 36 minutes ago, Lefty said:

    So no actual scriptural basis, just your personal interpretation of what is written?


    Just curious, but didn't you say that you were self-taught? I'm wondering on what basis you think your views about "correct doctrine" are more authoritative than his, or are less a "personal interpretation"? Note that I don't really care which views are "correct" and I don't really think there is any such thing as the correct view, per se, it's just interesting to me to see someone who identifies as atheist talk about interpretation in the way that you do. From a Christian perspective, it seems clear that the best criteria for settling disputes would be that the correct interpretation is the one that God would endorse, were He available to do so. But at least in his absence folks are doing their best to figure out what the answer is. But from an atheist perspective, what criteria are you using? I don't see how you can deride someone for relying on personal interpretation if your alternative is literally just your own reading of the text.


    26 minutes ago, Christforums said:

    I am Reformed and we are known to be systematic in our theology


    I'm personally sympathetic to these attempts at systematization, because that's how I approach the collected works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

  8. @Lefty I didn't realize you were some variety of Christian. Is that right?


    20 hours ago, Lefty said:

    The problem I am seeing here in this forum is a lot of ignorance of what the Christian doctrine actually is.


    One problem I see is that there isn't much agreement about "what Christian doctrine actually is" even among self-identifying Christians, and there never really has been. So I'm not sure you can fault the unbelievers if they also don't know what it is. It's probably more of a Lion's Den topic, but for example you could go track down Christforums and Jojo over there and maybe you all can sort it out :)

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  9. 18 minutes ago, webmdave said:

    If I understand you correctly, you are now claiming to have intense interest in these topics and do certainly like to engage in debate. Yet, you also do not desire to change people's minds and your motivation for discussion is nothing more than explaining why you think what you think. 


    I said I felt that it was useful as a way of finding opportunities to change my own mind and challenge my own beliefs. I think you've overlooked that. In theory, I love the idea of changing other people's minds. It sounds great. But it so rarely happens that I've given up on it as a goal for myself. I'm not a very persuasive person, as it turns out. You can tell, can't you? :D It usually seems more productive for me to focus on trying to challenge my own views, and debating others is a good way to do that.


    20 minutes ago, webmdave said:

    If I read you correctly, you are also saying my tone was the reason for your tone. Hmm. Let me 'splain something to you, Lucy...  You are entirely responsible for your own actions. No one else can be blamed for what you do, period. You didn't like my tone, so you came back rudely. It was unintentionally rude? Really? Hmm. 


    Dave, I know I'm probably annoying you by now but this isn't what I said. I said I have no problem with your tone,  and I meant that. I also said I don't think my tone was much different from yours, and thus I find your criticism of my tone slightly confusing. I also said that I took some cues about tone from the title of this club, which is a true statement but not something I'm offering as an excuse. To be very clear, I don't think I was rude to you at all, so I'm not looking to excuse my behavior. I was merely trying to tell you where I'm coming from. In any case, I'm not trying to make you responsible for my choice of words, and my offer to ease up in the future is entirely sincere, but it's not because I think my response was out of line. The offer is made out of respect for the fact that different people prefer different communication styles and not everyone likes that style of debate.

  10. So for example, there's a Thomist principle that says that "whatever is received [i.e. in revelation] is received according to the modality of the receiver", which is basically a really fancy (latin, originally!) way of trying to say that while God's revelations may be perfect they have to be processed by imperfect human minds. As an idea, it makes some sense and it has that lovely medieval catholic theologian imprimatur, for those that feel comforted by such. It basically leaves open the possibility of humans misunderstanding anything or everything. So it's possible for some sophisticated liberal Christian to construct a view of the history of the Bible that says that the human authors of those texts were divinely inspired but filtered the revelations they received through the imperfect lenses of their own times, cultures, and personal biases. They might turn to a more mystical view of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding Christians to re-interpret passages under their own inspiration. The relevant saints in this view of Christianity are not so much the scribes as the mystics, and the goal is a subjective and individual knowledge of the Divine.


    Obviously the challenge of this view is that there really is no objective way of reconciling which interpretations are correct, and clearly that kind of wishy-washiness is not what lots of Christians are after. But your determined liberal (I speak from experience here) can also point out that this is just as true for the fundamentalists or the conservatives, because it's not as if they can all agree on how to interpret the text either, and they never have. And that I think is basically true: no matter how you slice it the Bible is a human endeavour and is as subject to contentions about interpretation (individual and cultural) as anything else. And then maybe eventually (again I speak from experience :P) the liberal realizes this new view doesn't really amount to a very important role for religious tradition over just using their own judgement...

  11. 11 minutes ago, LogicalFallacy said:

    I am actually at a loss how any Christian can come to the conclusion that any form of homosexuality is ok. The ones that say the bible says its wrong are actually correct. It's one of the few things that is explicitly condemned in both the OT and the NT... so you can't claim the New Covenant means its ok. Now I applaud those Christians who do engage faculties and not just blindly adhere to da-word-of-god... but I'm still confused how one can theologically justify a liberal position on the subject from a Christian standpoint.


    Maybe one of our ex c members can answer this? Maybe I'm clouded by my fundy theology?


    I think you're definitely right that it's difficult for Christians to reconcile that position with their other views about the nature of scriptural authority <-- but that's what it comes down to, rather than theology.


    I think you're implicitly accepting the view that Biblical texts provide an inerrant and immutable guide to morality, and the only job of Christians is to properly interpret that guide. But I don't think one has to accept that view in order to be "Christian", although it is a very dominant view, especially among Protestants. In Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy they make things a little more complex (read: confusing? :P) by insisting that moral authority really rests in the Church as an institution, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than in the text directly. Although they kind of hedge a bit as far as exactly how far the text is reliable. In any case, that nuance is why they make appeals to the idea of "apostolic authority" passing on from generation to generation, or why they believe that sacraments need to be administered by priests.


    I don't think that view of scriptural authority is inherently contradictory, although it's clearly much, much more complicated. Over long time spans I think that view is going to be much more tenable, because obviously cultures change and historically the religion has also changed too. Sometimes those changes don't require any deftness of scriptural interpretation, although you might think they should. For example, prior to WWII Christian anti-semitism was very common, and very commonly justified by quoting certain N.T. passages about the Jews' responsibility for the crucifixion. Those passages are still there, but no one interprets them that way anymore, and approximately no one considers that a problem for their hermeneutics, despite the fact that it clearly indicates a problem with the idea of an inerrant interpretation...


    But in the case of anti-semitism the interpretations were less direct than moral injunctions against homosexuality, which is why I don't think you see more conservative Christians doing something similar in order to adapt to changing cultural norms. Instead the explanation is mostly just what you said: liberal Christians reject the authority of the Bible on that point. If they try to work out how to reconcile that with their other beliefs, they probably end up adopting some more complex view of the role of scripture than the sola scriptura of reformed theology.

  12. 21 minutes ago, webmdave said:

    That language sounds more to me like instructions on where I am thinking incorrectly and teaching me how this big 'ol world really works (if I were a woman, I might call it mansplaining)  more than you explaining why you think what you think.


    Forgive me for belaboring this just a moment longer, but I'd note that the title of this club is "controversy and conflict", and I definitely took that into account in my writing style (and I mean, this is a thread where the OP calls SJW ideology a cult. It's pretty pointed to start with!). I stated my point of view very directly but I didn't intend it to be personal or insulting. The sentence before the ones you quoted begins "I disagree with you..." and what follows is just a plain statement of my disagreements with your post. I did not think that my tone was more aggressive than yours in the post I was responding to, in which you too did not couch your position in terms of "I think that..." or otherwise qualify your claims as being only your opinion. Instead you just stated your belief plainly in terms as absolute as mine:


    On 3/9/2019 at 1:11 PM, webmdave said:

    When enough people are united in parroting the same "poignant" message, then utopia will come.


    Not gonna happen.


    Perhaps if individuals with strong beliefs simply act on their convictions by spending their time and resources relieving individual suffering instead of just preaching...


    Never mind. That won't happen either.  


    I don't have a problem with the tone of your post, but I do disagree that my response was somehow more aggressive than the above. That said, I'm more than happy to be less aggressive with you in the future. Like I said, I wasn't trying to insult you. I tend to just assume that "I think that..." is implicit in anything I say. Obviously no one has any obligation to agree with me. It also just is quicker to state things plainly, and as you know already I'm not that great at brevity :P


    As far as my interest goes, I didn't mean to imply that my interest wasn't intense, I just meant it wasn't evangelical IMO. When I said I liked to have my views challenged I certainly did mean that I like to debate.

  13. I'm always fascinated by the myriad ways people have found to interpret the intellectual history of terms like "postmodernism" and "liberalism" and so on. It's very postmodern ;)


    Sounds like we should re-under-title our friend here as a Conservative Theologian.

  14. I think the way Christians in Europe appropriated/incorporated pre-existing pagan holidays/rituals is fascinating but I think the idea that Easter -- as celebrated by modern Christians -- has nothing to do with Jesus is clearly wrong. They kept the pagan name (well, except the Eastern Orthodox) and some of those pagan-y aspects and substituted a lot of other symbolism about the resurrection. The relationship between any modern Christian holiday and the gospels or 1st century Christian practice is tenuous at best, but that's true across the board.


    Some Christians become very uncomfortable with that history and so reject the idea of "Easter" as a Christian holiday. Others really want to practice something they believe to be "authentic" early Christianity so they reject other ideas. Other Christians don't particularly mind about any of this. I think pretty much everyone would benefit from knowing more of the history just because I think it helps illustrate how religious practice is created by people in specific historical contexts over time. That is, it's useful as a reminder that religions are human creations, and not the pristine, internally consistent, perfect and unchanging revelation of God handed down on stone tablets once and for all.

    • Like 1

  15. OK, I'm sorry for my misunderstanding.


    To be clear, when I post here it's just because I think topics are interesting and like to discuss them. I don't actually think of anything I post anywhere on the internet as being activism. I'm getting the impression that you think my posts on political topics are driven too much by an intent to get people to change their minds, but that's not really how I think about them at all. I just like to talk about stuff I'm interested in. I also find it useful to have my views challenged by trying to explain them to people who find them dubious. Usually my overarching motivation is to try to explain why I think something is true, or not true. All of my posts in this thread are of that nature.


    My experience on internet forums is much like ag_no_stic's from the OP, when she says that some people she knows think that she's liberal and others that she's conservative. I post on one forum where the majority is closer to the kind of "woke leftist" your linked post is about. I was recently called a crypto-fascist by one of the leading lights there for having the temerity to suggest that maybe threatening violence against people like Tucker Carlson is a bridge too far. I used to mod the "alternate" politics forum there in an attempt to allow for a wider range of discourse. I also post on a very right-wing forum where pretty much anyone to the left of Ronald Reagan is a commie (and when they find out about his amnesty policy they might throw him overboard too :P), and on that forum I'm definitely an "SJW". I'm only detailing this by way of saying that I emphatically agree with the idea that people should be open to challenging any and all points of view, at least in some contexts (I'm not saying this forum is necessarily the right place for it). For me, internet discussions are a good way for me to challenge my own views, more than a way to try to persuade others. Attempting to make persuasive arguments or to present my views clearly is just a useful way of trying to accomplish that.


    It is very much that motivation which led me to say earlier that I didn't think Evergreen was representative but more importantly that I also wouldn't want it to be.

  16. 3 minutes ago, disillusioned said:

    But I do think that a person with serious religious convictions who is not a fundamentalist will often find themselves faced with the following options: neglect to ask the difficult questions (naive), ask the questions but ignore/rationalize the difficult answers (dishonest), move towards a more fundamentalist view,  or move away from the faith. There may be more options that I'm missing,  but this is how it usually seems to go,  in my experience.


    Yeah, sounds about right. I don't think all attempts at rationalization are fundamentally dishonest, though. Clearly some are. Perhaps I'm just too sympathetic of people like myself :P

    • Like 1

  17. On 3/1/2019 at 9:21 PM, DevilsCabanaBoy said:

    There is no way to checkmate a christian, it can't be done. they always find a way to get out of thinking their king is cornered. I don't know what it is, most of them are smart enough to see the logical fallacies in their beliefs, but they just downright deny how their beliefs really are.


    I read something recently which touched on this general topic and I've lost the link

    But something like: the world is really complex, and we generally can achieve only a fairly limited understanding of a great many things with the info available to us. So, it's almost always possible for intelligent people to find ways to manipulate their working theories of the world to account for inconvenient facts while preserving the core of their beliefs. It's a form of rationalization. We probably all do it to some extent: it's easier to try to tweak our views than to have to reject our entire framework wholesale. With religious beliefs being so central to most people, there's a lot of incentive to do that. A lot of Calvinist theology and the machinations people come up with to make it all seem coherent always reminds me of that.


    I wonder, for people who deconvert slowly (most of us?) I wonder if there is still that a-ha moment when you finally really decide to cease believing. Even when it's gradual there's still like an inflection point, and I wonder if that is because of that difficulty with finally rejecting an entire paradigm of thinking, so to speak.

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  18. On 2/28/2019 at 9:39 PM, DarkBishop said:

    Ok here is a serious answer. The truth is that the gospels were written well after Jesus' death and also after most anyone who was alive at the time. Every word in the gospels is from second hand accounts. The oldest gospel is considered to be Mark which didn't have a geneology. Basically for the scriptures used to justify the story of Jesus being the son of God on earth to be true he had to be traced back to David as the Old testament scriptures had said. I'm sure that the scriptures that the early christians were quoting were coming under heavy scrutiny especially by anyone who was actually Jewish. This is probably an example of one of the first attempts at a cover up for the holes in the christian narrative. OOOooooo I know lets write another gospel with his family tree on it so they will know that he was also the son of David. So they knew a few of Davids descendants made up a few then popped ole Joseph or Mary in there and boom. See Jesus is the Son of David. 


    Yeah, so I think it's clear that the genealogies exist because of the Jewish expectation at the time that the Messiah should be descended from David.


    It's probably worth mentioning that the doctrine of the Trinity comes about much later, in the fourth century, and was conceived of by Greek Christians who were much less concerned with that question, which might explain the apparent tension. If you read Gregory Nazianzen or the other principle inventors of the trinitarian doctrine you'll find they have their own reasons which are quite disconnected from Jewish concerns about the lineage of the Messiah. Gregory needs Jesus to be God (and the spirit to be God) quite literally because of his theory of salvation and the divinization of Man. His principle is that God can only "save" mankind by becoming human and so making human beings divine. I'm not sure, but it seems possible to me that very early Christians didn't think that "Son of God" meant exactly the same thing that trinitarian Christians do. We know for sure at least that there were more than a few different views about Jesus' divinity, and the unorthodox ones came to be considered heresies over time. One possibility is that they didn't interpret Mary's story as implying that Joseph's sperm wasn't involved at all, but something more like that God blessed their union or whatever. That wouldn't seem incompatible with Luke 1 anyway.


    One of the things that I've always found entertaining about Trinitarianism -- beyond just the fact that most trinitarian Christians can't seem to make heads or tails of it to begin with -- is that they also are mostly ignorant of the theological reasons for it. I'd guess most modern Christians would think some of the 4th century theology sounded suspiciously new agey :P

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