Richard Dawkins vs. Karen Armstrong: "Where Does Evolution Leave God?"

In the recent issue of the Wall Street Journal former nun Karen Armstrong claims we need God to grasp the wonder of our existence, while Richard Dawkins claims evolution leaves God with nothing to do. See what you think. You know where I stand. In the coming days after I get both books I plan on reviewing Armstrong's latest book The Case for God and the recent book by Dawkins titled, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. As always I'd appreciate any financial help in buying and reviewing books like these (see the "Donate" button in the sidebar).

36 comments:

foolfodder said...

Some commentary by Albert Mohler: http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/mohler/11608516/

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

One of the many problems with Dawkins in 'The God Delusion' is that he either fails to understand or misrepresents the theistic argument for creation. He does this with firstly with Aquinas and after dismantling it he argues then in exactly the same way for a complex designer.

He case against Aquinas is that a termination for infinite regress is illogical, he argues...

'The first three are just different ways of saying the same thing, they can be considered together. All involve infinite regress ... as so ad infinitum.'

'The Unmoved Mover. Nothing is caused by itself. Every effect has a prior cause, and again we are pushed back into regress. Something has to make the first move, and that something we call God. p.77.'

yet he says later...

'If our universe was designed... the designer himself must be the end product of some kind of cumulative escalator or crane, perhaps a version of Darwinism in another universe,' p.156.

What can we learn from this. Easy! Dawkins does not understand the theistic position and therefore any argument against a theistic creator is absurd.

Nothing to worry about here for the Christian.

Regards, Rev, Phil.

edson said...

Actually, I have never read such a dishonest so called scholar as Karen Armstrong.

Just like any other typical liberal christian, she is a confused one, she labels herself "a freelance monotheist", she promotes Islam as a "religion of peace" with all the evidence indicting it otherwise, and many other dishonest things, in short she was a poor choice to argue against Dawkins in this.

There is nothing new with Dawkins in here. He writes well, he is a scientist and so he is an organized thinker, no doubt his arguments comes out convincing. Apparently, he doesn't love the idea of God to prevail in our society today and would wish it dies tommorrow. Where does Evolution leaves God? I'm a creationist and certainly God created everything. Is Dawkins wrong? Dead wrong!

Tyro said...

Dawkins's book is on evolution, not theology. It is likely to be a very good book, but it won't be at all comparable to Armstrong's books or even to his own "The God Delusion".

Don't want to discourage anyone from reading it, just don't want you to be disappointed.

Rex said...

Reverend Brown:

I see the debate go back and forth between believers and non believers, and both accuse the other of basing their beliefs on a leap of "faith".

One of the things that always hits home with me very strongly is that the believers have ALL of the answers. The non believers do not. The non believers therefore are always on a quest for a better model or theory of how the universe works. When the non believers come to a wall where they do not have the answer, they do not chalk it up to god in a knee jerk anti intellectual way. They look at such times as an opportunity to do some more pondering and fact gathering, and possibly theory refining or new theory generation.

When you think you have all of the answers, you stop listening and observing and learning, and you start shouting louder and louder that you already HAVE all of the answers.

To which group would a rational analytical human being really want to belong?

Russ said...

Reverend Phillip Brown,

You said,

One of the many problems with Dawkins in 'The God Delusion' is that he either fails to understand or misrepresents the theistic argument for creation.

Perhaps, you could share with us what the one, the true, the only theistic argument for creation actually is. Throughout human history, anthropologists have estimated, that there have been at least 100000 gods, each sporting a unique creation story. Today, there are about 1000 extant gods worshipped in the human community. But, you claim to know what the one true theistic creation story is, so I'm all ears.

Even if we stick to creation stories among today's 40000 Christianities, we have creation stories that vary widely. Those claiming to be Biblical literalists, even though no one actually is one, have a variety of theistic creation stories. Among the orthodox Christianities there are gods that send people to hell and ones that do not. Those are different gods and I'm sure they have different creation stories, since the consequences of those snake-inveigled transgressions are so very different.

Among the Christianity's various theistic creation versions we have Young Earth, Old Earth, Day Age, Progressive, Gap Creationism, Intelligent Design, Theistic Evolutionism, Deism, and Pure Naturalism. Differing Christianities interpret the Bible with varying degrees of literalism, metaphor, allegory, and other rhetorical figures of speech, and some Christianties do not use the Bible at all. Lots of Christianties treat most of the Old Testament as a figure of speech, and they don't take it too seriously.

So, I'd be quite interested in how you justify claiming to know that anyone is wrong concerning theistic creation stories. You might have your own personal favorite, but that's all you've got. You do not have a universal creation story that even applies to Christendom as a whole. What's more, I'd bet big money that even among your own fellow congregation members, the theistic creation stories would vary so much that no one would think they belonged to the same church.

That very study has been done here in the US. From one Roman Catholic congregation in the state of Iowa, researchers figured there were more than thirty distinct conceptions of their god and his creation. Wale on Dawkins all you like, but even among your own same-named Christianities, your fellow religionists - even your fellow clergymen - have nothing approaching a consistent, coherent theistic creation story.

"What can we learn from this. Easy!" Brown "does not understand the theistic position and therefore any argument" for "a theistic creator is absurd."

If you're going to be part of one of the Christianities, especially if you are to take a leadership position, you should try to understand that there is no single, monolithic, unified "Christianity." There are lots of Christianities. Your particular one with its particular theology and its particular theistic creation story is just a drop in an ocean of Christianities worldwide. You do not represent or speak for all Christianities.

Clearly, Phillip, you do not realize that Dawkins' critique in The God Delusion was pertinent to a large segment of the Christian population, specifically, that segment of the US Christian population that was instrumental in electing our last president and dragging much of the world, including Australia, into war in Iraq.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Rex,

Your comment is interesting. I do not assume I have all the answers. Just that Dawkins does not understand the theistic accounts for creation.

Regards, Phil.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Russ,

Hmmm, You say I claim to know the one true theistic account for creation? Where did I say that? I have re-read my comment and I cannot see any statement of that kind? I suspect you are projection your own issues here.

Your answer to this post is to say that Christians have many creation stories however, I never mention that, just that Dawkins has misunderstood Thomas Aquinas and then argues in the same way.

Does it matter that Christians have different opinions on the creation story, no. Its the same as scientists having different opinion on the origin of the universe or evolution. Your retort is severely lacking.

By the by thank you for your professional help on being a Christian. But again you know nothing about my position on creation or what I stan for. Have you even read my blog?

Lastly, it may be pertinent to the population however I can only go on what is actually said in the God Delusion. Clearly stuff that is wrong, and Dawkins swaggers around as if he knows it when he does not. So while pertinent is a interesting position is has really no relevance.

Regards, rev. Phil.

hillsonghoods said...

I've just read Dawkins' new book, and it's purely about the evidence for evolution (which is incredibly strong). He says in the introduction to the book that "The Greatest Show On Earth" is not about atheism, that he's not "wearing that t-shirt" in this one.

It's different to previous Dawkins books such as "The Blind Watchmaker"; where "The Blind Watchmaker" is about how evolution occurred, "The Greatest Show On Earth" is about how we know evolution occurred.

hillsonghoods said...

If Rev. Brown's issue with Dawkins is that he later uses the same argument that he first dismantles, he is incorrect. On page 77, Dawkins' main argument again Aquinas is that it is unwarranted to assume that God escapes the problem of the infinite regress. On page 156, Dawkins is still arguing that, if the universe was designed, the designer does not escape the infinite regress. This is therefore not the gotcha Rev. Brown thinks it is.

Ryan Peter said...

Hi Rex,

You said this: "The non believers therefore are always on a quest for a better model or theory of how the universe works. When the non believers come to a wall where they do not have the answer, they do not chalk it up to god in a knee jerk anti intellectual way. They look at such times as an opportunity to do some more pondering and fact gathering, and possibly theory refining or new theory generation."

Other than the clear bias in this statement :) I don't know if you hold to the owner of this blog's opinion that Christianity's ability to reinvent itself is one proof that it is untrue.

If you do you're not being consistent with this statement of yours above. Many believers don't have all the answers, and when they know they don't they go and do more study of the Bible and Science and everything to see their way clearly.

Then they change their minds. Christianity has 'changed its mind' on many issues over the ages, and so has atheism, over many issues. Is Christianity to be praised for doing so? If not, then neither should non-believers. You can't have your cake etc. etc.

I've seen Loftus, in my fairly short look at this blog, accuse Christians of being blind by holding onto their faith in the midst of being proved wrong on issues. If that's the case, when an atheist or non-believer is proved wrong, are they being blind too?

I'm not attacking you directly, I'm simply saying that if you hold to a similar view as Loftus' you are being inconsistent, and rather biased.

edson said...

The issue with Dawkins and his Evolution stuff is that he is kind of a good thinker but on the wrong direction.

Just like a soccer player who starts a ball with an amazing pace, makes several nice tricks and flipping the ball using a backheel before scoring an acrobatic goal at the far corner of the net, but it is a wrong goal because he has scored on the wrong direction, his own net!

The sad part is that his goal is celebrated by unsophisticated dimwit spectators on the pitch, who are too blinded to see it is a wrong goal.

May be they are blinded of the label that Dawkins possess, "a scientist", may be they are genuinely blind, who knows, but one thing is for sure: they are unsophisticated dimwits. Pick one western man randomly and ask him a litmus question: Did Jesus exist historically? No, no, no, resoundingly he replies. Add a second question: Is a man a closest brother to chimpanzee? If he responds, Yes, yes, yes, you immediately confirm you are speaking with a dimwit.

Where does Dawkins get the balls to deny God a role to play in the existance of life or everything? I'm not disputing that evolution is true or that natural selection is at work but does this disqualify God? Yes, he says so and eruptiously offers Laws of Physics as a replacement for God. And this is coming from a scientist. A biologist promoting himself as a Physicist more than Physicist themselves. Sir Isaac Newton must be turning in graves right now for this stupid remark that Laws of Physics are a replacing God. If this is Science, then it is Science gone mad and scientists gone rampage.

___________________________ said...

Well, Ryan Peter, the issue is that Christianity refers to a worldview that is found in certain writings and historical beliefs.

Is this to say that changes can never happen? Well, not really. What is being contested is the fact that the writings and historical beliefs are being contorted to fit what the current society believes, and that this contortion undermines the truth-bearing nature of the original foundation.

If Christianity were explicitly an evolutionary doctrine then this wouldn't be a problem. However, Christianity is based upon it's historical beliefs quite clearly.

___________________________ said...

Well, to a certain extent, the notion that science is replacing God is just a reductionist notion. I don't think Dawkins is stepping out of place given that there is a philosophical argument for the non-existence of God based upon the success of naturalistic research.

And yes, Dawkins, a biologist, can potentially be quite fit to speak about other sciences.

edson said...

I don't think Dawkins is stepping out of place given that there is a philosophical argument for the non-existence of God based upon the success of naturalistic research.

Which philosophical argument and which naturalistic research?

If Christianity were explicitly an evolutionary doctrine then this wouldn't be a problem.

Apparently, you want a Bible to be a Science book. If you want to study about the possible hypothesis that brought he diversity of life into this world, Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is where to start.

But if you want to eliminate the mystery altogether, read the Book of Genesis.

Ryan Peter said...

the issue is that Christianity refers to a worldview that is found in certain writings and historical beliefs.

Is this to say that changes can never happen? Well, not really. What is being contested is the fact that the writings and historical beliefs are being contorted to fit what the current society believes, and that this contortion undermines the truth-bearing nature of the original foundation.

If Christianity were explicitly an evolutionary doctrine then this wouldn't be a problem. However, Christianity is based upon it's historical beliefs quite clearly.


I disagree, and would argue that you are trying to apply the wrong paradigm to things here.

In other words, I would argue that Christianity is not evolutionary (your paradigm?) but certainly is organic in nature.

Biblical references to flexible wineskins and Paul saying in Romans 1 that creation shows God's attributes are some examples of what I mean.

Nature is organic, flexible, fluid - to every rule there is always an exception. A tree is a tree, but yet all trees are different looking. There's space to adjust, move, grow, change, form, all depending on context.

Christianity has a set of core beliefs that really are just about a core person, who is Jesus Christ. The other issues that many of us debate in blogs like this are often periphery issues (like predestination) but they aren't the core person.

Christianity is organic, so it means it can adjust and change depending on its context, but its centre (a person) remains its centre.

You're thinking in line of progression (evolution) I'm thinking in line of organic (incarnational).

The incarnational aspect of Christianity is the reason why it can change over time and depending on its context, but the changes are always 'secondary doctrines' if you wish.

John, sorry if this isn't truly in line with the original post, so delete it if you think it's sidetracking the conversation.

Rex said...

Human knowledge is like a sphere. The things we know are inside the sphere, and there exists a current boundary between what we know and what we do not know. The believers confront that boundary and immediately and easily say that which exists beyond the boundary is God's realm. Non believers like myself see that boundary and say that which exists beyond the boundary are things that we don't know YET.

If the sphere was static, you could debate which worldview is superior ad infinitum, and ultimately the debate would devolve to "yes it is - no it isn't". However, since the sphere is constantly expanding, many of the things that were thought to be only "in God's hands" are now simple human technological achievements like our progress against polio, men walking on the moon as well as remote exploration of our solar system, not to mention our ability for instantaneous world wide communication. 150 years ago, all of these things were thought to abilities that only God could possess.

In my opinion, our sphere of knowledge is still infinitesimally small, but as it grows, the non believers do not have to revise their world view other than to add new information (ammunition?) to it, but for those who say God does everything, that constant backpedaling must be difficult to reconcile.

Drew Newman said...

Hey all,

I hate to be simplistic here but sometimes in the midst of a cerebral moment I find that it helps.

With reference to the 'you cannot have your cake and eat it' comment from Ryan.

My problem here is with Jesus. He claims to be the 'way the truth and the life'. Now thats pretty categoric and whatever version or flavour of Christianity you follow its a central passage and major statement. After all GOD says so!

You see truth is truth is truth. It tends by its very nature to be reliable and honest. Now if I, as a mere man, created or evolved try to seek the truth; I will probably have to change my mind a few times because I am neither God nor omniscient genius.

So on this basis Christianity, any other religion you choose, science, objectivity and skepticism all get to change their minds whenever it suits them.

However for years I heard and preached - yes another ex pastor! that one of the main differences with Christianity is that I have Christ in me!

He is the hope of glory, he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

He is God and he is in me and I am in him and we are in the Father. Thats one hell of a tag team!

Ironically its because he claims those things, I and many others choose to reject him.

You see you cannot have your cake and eat it!

Either you have the living God who is the truth inside you, in which case you have a reasonable and justifiable claim to the truth - which does not change - just like God!

or you don't.

If you change then one of the base claims of Christianity is up the creek without a paddle.

For to change is either to accept that Jesus was mistaken when he claims to be the truth. Or to accept that Christ in me (via the Holy Spirit) means next to nothing.
It follows then that If he is not the truth then how can I, or anyone, be sure he is either the way or the Life ?

Agnosticism does not claim to the truth.
Evolution does not claim to be the truth.
Hell not even John Loftus claims that!

However Jesus and Christianity does.
Therefore it must be considered and evaluated on the standard it sets itself.

In the words of God himself

'You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting'

___________________________ said...

"Which philosophical argument and which naturalistic research?"-Edson

Ok, to put it straightforwardly, it is the argument from parsimony I think. The idea being that if naturalistic methodology can effectively describe our world, then the supposition of God is superfluous and thus should be rejected by Occam's Razor.

Austin Dacey used this argument in a debate against William Llane Craig. I don't think he was citing particular scientific research, but rather the general progress of science.

"Apparently, you want a Bible to be a Science book. If you want to study about the possible hypothesis that brought he diversity of life into this world, Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is where to start.

But if you want to eliminate the mystery altogether, read the Book of Genesis."-Edson

Well, I don't want anything about the Bible. I just am pointing out that the Bible isn't the Origin of Species. Additionally, I've read the Book of Genesis, it just seems... absurd. I mean, a worldwide flood? Lots of massive inbreeding? A garden never found guarded by an angel? The direct creation of a flawed world by an all-powerful deity who considered this "good"? (we can't say that the Fall is the source of design problems, can we?)

"In other words, I would argue that Christianity is not evolutionary (your paradigm?) but certainly is organic in nature." -Ryan Peter

Well, ok. I didn't say "evolutionary" because that's my framework, but rather because the ability to evolve is the only way for a belief to deal with being partially wrong. (I would suppose it is my framework for viewing the world, as I think I like the pragmatist)

What we see with the Bible is that it is rooted in the factuality of Biblical history and beliefs. In Hebrews 11, Paul talks about the historical beliefs of proper Christians(by faith we know..). In 2 Tim 3:16-17, Paul talks about the great import of the Old Testament/Septuagint. Paul's talk about sin in Romans references the fall as a central part of the theological foundation. The Gospels even reference the Old Testament as a source of prophecy, history and other things.

What this means is that Christianity is fundamentally tied to a large number of historical truths. It is not just that a Jew in the middle east died on a cross and came back to life. If any one of these historical truths is questioned, Christianity can properly be regarded as false. Liberal theologians, like Karen Armstrong, will try to build us a Frankenstein, but both atheists and conservative Christians know that the faith is truly dead.

I mean, I understand organic things. But organic things don't randomly discard limbs or graft on new limbs. Christianity does this though.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Hillsonghoods

You said,

'On page 77, Dawkins' main argument again [sic - against] Aquinas is that it is unwarranted to assume that God escapes the problem of the infinite regress.'

Firstly this is wrong. Dawkins says on p.77

'All of these arguments rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God is immune to regress.'

What Dawkins has not understood is that Thomas Aquinas is not making this point at all. It is precisely the fact that God or a being or thing (in his words), that cannot have un-actualized properties must have been at the beginning of the universe. Not to terminate infinite regress but to being progression of actualized properties.

So Dawkins assumption is just his imprint on Aquinas which is very poor scholarship. Aquinas argues precisely that is it the immunity of regress which means God has to be there in the beginning.

Then on page 156 Dawkins admits that if there was a creator God it would be the product of an something else, cumulative escalator or crane, maybe Darwinism in another universe. Meaning that God is the product of regression? Though infinite is missing hear it is implied. The exact same thing he had trouble with aquinas over?

So the point is not wrong and the knock out blow is still there.

regards, Phil.

Russ said...

Brown,
You said in your first comment,

One of the many problems with Dawkins in 'The God Delusion' is that he either fails to understand or misrepresents the theistic argument for creation.

The definite article 'the' in "the theistic argument for creation" suggests a quantity - one. That is, that there is one and only one theistic argument for creation.

If you know what that theistic argument for creation is tell us. Tell us your absolutely correct version of that theistic argument for creation.

You said,

Does it matter that Christians have different opinions on the creation story, no. Its the same as scientists having different opinion on the origin of the universe or evolution. Your retort is severely lacking.

If, as it is claimed by Christians, what you believe makes a difference in how you spend your post mortem eternity, then it definitely makes a difference that Christians believe in differing creation accounts. In science differences of opinion do not have eternal consequences of hell, fire and damnation, so differences in Christian thought are nowhere near the same as differences of opinion in science.

You said,

By the by thank you for your professional help on being a Christian. But again you know nothing about my position on creation or what I stan for. Have you even read my blog?

You're welcome. Since any schmuck can be a Christian clergyman, my opinions are every bit as legitimate as yours. What's more, I'll bet you I have more Christian seminary training than you do. I have read your blog. It's the same self-centered clown-act as any other version of Christianity.

So, until you have the capacity to actually render a final irrefutable opinion on the matter, know and accept your place as just another backwater version of Christianity. You do not represent or speak for all Christianities, or even a significant fraction of them.

If you are concerned about Dawkins being precise in his language, you should be very precise in your use of language. Since you do not represent a significant fraction of Christians or Christianties you should begin each reference to your religion with the following: In our version of Christianity, we pretend to believe...then, you can complete the sentence with the specifics of how you have concocted your particular dogma.

If you're going to lambaste Dawkins or any other critic of the Christianities, why don't you pay more attention to your fellow clergymen? I personally know Christian clergymen who don't have a clue about Aquinas, Assisi, Augustine, Erasmus, Origen, Barth, Schleiermacher, or the host of other notables in the development of Christian thought. That is, they aren't even knowledgeable enough to comment on Dawkins at all. And, those are the professionals.

Remember: Of all the pursuits open to men, the search for wisdom is most perfect, more sublime, more profitable, and more full of joy. Thomas Aquinas

Aquinas was a smart guy who chose the clergy since it offered the most power, prestige and income potential in a society where all were coerced into professing to be Christians. In the modern world where life offers many choices and possibilities without the threat of a Christianity-imposed death sentence, I bet that Aquinas would have seen Christianity for the superstitious hoax that it is and followed a far more desirable path to a far more fruitful life.

So, Phil, go back to your pissant version of Christianity and stop pontificating as if you have real answers, real truth. It's a tinkertoy religion of no real value to anyone. If I wanted to be a repulsive charlatan I could start one of my own.

hillsonghoods said...

@Rev Brown,

"What Dawkins has not understood is that Thomas Aquinas is not making this point at all. It is precisely the fact that God or a being or thing (in his words), that cannot have un-actualized properties must have been at the beginning of the universe. Not to terminate infinite regress but to being progression of actualized properties."

The above quote is the nub of your argument, but does not define terms and appears to have grammatical errors. Could you rewrite it? Otherwise I fear I'd be misinterpreting you.

Ryan Peter said...

Rex -
The believers confront that boundary and immediately and easily say that which exists beyond the boundary is God's realm.

You're generalising. We live in a Universe and in a creation that is ours to explore and discover.

I really doubt that every believer out there feels threatened when a new technological discovery comes about, that suddenly what was considered 'supernatural' can be achieved by technological and/or scientific means.

Sure, those who place more emphasis on the supernatural and 'signs and wonders' may, but that's not everybody.

In my opinion, our sphere of knowledge is still infinitesimally small, but as it grows, the non believers do not have to revise their world view other than to add new information (ammunition?) to it, but for those who say God does everything, that constant backpedaling must be difficult to reconcile.

I agree, but I'm sure you know that not all believers think the same about such things?

Drew-
Either you have the living God who is the truth inside you, in which case you have a reasonable and justifiable claim to the truth - which does not change - just like God!

Agnosticism does not claim to the truth.
Evolution does not claim to be the truth.
Hell not even John Loftus claims that!

However Jesus and Christianity does.


But Jesus' claim to be the 'truth' is certainly different to agnosticism or evolution claiming to be the truth.

I say this because Jesus is a person, agnosticism / evolution are philosophies or sciences (it can be argued that there is a brand of evolution that is a science and a brand of evolution that is a philosophy).

So if a person claims to be the truth and a person claims to live in you, it doesn't mean that you will know all truth objectively, or perhaps even subjectively, you will simply know the truth relationally but that doesn't mean you know everything - only you know the person who does know everything, and it's up to that person to reveal everything to you or not, while you seek to know.

Because I am married to my wife it doesn't mean that I automatically know every single detail of her past or every single detail even about her. Nor does it mean that I automatically know all the scientific fact that went behind how she was formed in her mother's womb.

I don't think God is interested in the 'how' as much as the 'who'. Truth isn't always about the 'how', and most of these arguments of Christianity vs. atheism/agnosticism appear to be all arguments about the 'how' and therefore they'll always be fairly speculative.

WE discover the 'how' and that's what's so fun about it. Imagine God told us about how everything was done? He would have taken all the fun out of science and discovery right out, and we'd be pretty bored.

You cannot apply a scientific method of discovering truth to a relational dynamic, that's surely not going to work.

Ryan Peter said...

What we see with the Bible is that it is rooted in the factuality of Biblical history and beliefs. In Hebrews 11, Paul talks about the historical beliefs of proper Christians(by faith we know..).

In 2 Tim 3:16-17, Paul talks about the great import of the Old Testament/Septuagint. Paul's talk about sin in Romans references the fall as a central part of the theological foundation. The Gospels even reference the Old Testament as a source of prophecy, history and other things.

What this means is that Christianity is fundamentally tied to a large number of historical truths. - (not sure why your name doesn't appear on my browser) :)

I'm not sure I follow you.

Hebrews 11 says by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God (ESV) (or worlds were set in order).

This doesn't really tell us anything about the how the worlds were set in order, only that they were and it was God who did it. (It isn't making any claim of taking Genesis 1 literally, if that's where you're going.)

The word 'word' in Greek is related to 'rhema', which can be explained in some way as 'a revelation' - so there may be some deeper things going on here.

So I'm not sure which historical foundation you're referring to? Other than that Christians believe God formed the universe.

Secondly, 2 Tim 3:16-17 talks about Scripture being breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (righteous justice).

But teaching what? Surely not how the universe was created :P

For teaching about God, I'm sure - who He is, what He does, what He's like, what He is planning to do, where we fit in etc. Not really history, although that is a part of it, but its narrative form means that it is more about meaning than history, at least most of the time.

I think you may be confusing tradition and history?

For instance, there are many traditions the church follows (heck, they all have their own) which may be (a) completely unhistorical or (b) not biblical or (c) just abiblical.

You're right about the fall being a historical event that has theological implications, I see your point there, but neither Paul nor anyone in the Bible makes any claim to interpret Genesis 1,2, or wherever strictly literally.

There may have been a talking snake, or there may have been an evil angel that was as crafty as a snake, or any number of theories.

But the point is that at sometime in history man turned away from God. And this falling away has had some dire consequences. That's the meaning of the scripture, regardless of how one looks at it.

Something doesn't necessarily have to be historically true to be true, truth also comes in the form of 'meaning'.

Now, some Christian traditions insist that you interpret these things literally and others not. But I say, so what?

My basic point is that John 3:16 is quite simple. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. Whatever they believe about Him may be quite wrong, but if the believe IN Him then it doesn't really matter in terms of eternity. What they believe about Him matters more when it comes to the now and how they live their life, the quality of their life, etc., how they grow etc.

To bring this back to the OP, I'm not sure that Dawkins or Armstrong really get what Jesus is about.

Dawkins talks about how evil religion is (it's not like he's wrong on that point) but doesn't seem to grasp the relational aspect of Christianity, the whole 'know Jesus' aspect.

Armstrong doesn't seem to either, although I really haven't read too much of her. What I have read, albeit a little, it smacks of the usual all roads lead to God scene that also seems to miss the point.

I believe Jesus came to get rid of religion once and for all, which is why I think Dawkins doesn't really get Him, and Armstrong is on the wrong trajectory.

edson said...

The idea being that if naturalistic methodology can effectively describe our world, then the supposition of God is superfluous and thus should be rejected by Occam's Razor.

A belief in God and methodology to effectively describe our world naturally are quite different things. Why are you attempting to lump them together? Since the first man on earth, we have always lived with the Nature and tried to explain it, and if you are tempted to think that this generation is the only one that have tried to effectively explain the Nature, try to read about Stoics and Epicureans philosophies influenced by the thinking of Aristotle, Plato, Euclid or Archimedes, to name a few. But God has remained to be God because He is God. And Nature will remain to be Nature becuse it's God's creation. And if you believe you will eliminate God by effectively explaining the world, that will be shortsightedness.

Additionally, I've read the Book of Genesis, it just seems... absurd. I mean, a worldwide flood? Lots of massive inbreeding? A garden never found guarded by an angel? The direct creation of a flawed world by an all-powerful deity who considered this "good"? (we can't say that the Fall is the source of design problems, can we?)

What is absurd about that? What is absurd about world-wide flood, I dont see the point.

Lot's of massive inbreeding? How do you suggest inbreeding will be escaped in your naturalistic world view? I mean, assuming that God didn't spontaneously create a man and that the first man and woman came from the monkeys, what could have prevented inbreeding?

The mighty and good God created a flawed and bad creation? To tell you that truth, I lose my patience with such ungrateful rantings. This is one big difference between Christians and Atheists. We believe this world is not perfect the way God intended it to be. But we have Hope that defeats all kind of hoplessness. We no longer see a flawed world and we are potentially living past death. Were you really serious when you said that naturalistic research has solved the mystery of the world?

(we can't say that the Fall is the source of design problems, can we?)

As I told you before, I'm an optimistic person. I'm a seed buried in the ground ready to emerge triumphatincally at the right time at the right conditions. Keep on dreaming with your pessmistic world view.

___________________________ said...

Ryan, my concern wasn't just evolutionary theory, it was that Christianity has a lot of truth claims that it must back up. (the flood is also one that comes to mind)

I do think Genesis 1 was meant literally though. The reason being that in Genesis 1, the passing of the days is mentioned, which seems to exclude a figurative day interpretation. As well, Exodus 20:11 talks about how the Sabbath is reflective of the week, another indicator that people took Genesis 1 literally.

Hebrew 11 tells us more than "God created the universe" 11:4 talks about Cain and Abel as if they were real people. 11:7 talks about Noah constructing his ark. 11:11 talks about Sarah giving birth at her old age. 11:23-29 talks about Moses. I mean, Hebrews 11 is a summing up of OT history and proclaiming as knowledge.

"But teaching what? Surely not how the universe was created"

*sigh* No, the point I am making is that the early Christians upheld the OT as an essential part of the truth of their faith. This means that one can't reasonably only uphold the NT, they must uphold the OT, this creates a huge score more issues, as the OT also includes a lot of historical claims, especially if one takes it as the Christians appear to in the NT, as references to the OT seem literalist.

"Not really history, although that is a part of it, but its narrative form means that it is more about meaning than history, at least most of the time."

Yes, really history. Hebrews 11, Paul basically says that from those things happening we can understand faith in God. Not only that, but you can't say everything in the OT was just written from the standpoint of myth, where's the in-textual evidence that it was meant as myth? If anything we have the opposite, that people took it as the truth, and based other doctrines upon that.

"But the point is that at sometime in history man turned away from God. And this falling away has had some dire consequences. That's the meaning of the scripture, regardless of how one looks at it."

Umm.... no, the point is also a historical foundation. Why is Jesus given a lineage going through Adam and Noah in Luke 3 if this is just narrative? Why does Paul talk about all coming from one man in Hebrews 11, and Romans 5 seem so important to Paul if Adam never existed? Why do the Israelites link their Sabbath to the day God rested if God didn't actually rest in a week period? (Exo 20:11)

"My basic point is that John 3:16 is quite simple. "

Umm.... that's not the only thing the text teaches though, and that's not the only thing the historical Christian faith rests upon. I mean, John 3:16 does not mention a trinity, which is something Christians have killed other people to promote. John 3:16 does not mention OT prophecy fulfillment, something early Christians tried to find and based the messianic nature of Christ upon. John 3:16 does not mention the OT, which is considered a rather large part of Christianity by both Paul and Jesus(and if Jesus is the son of God, you basically have to say his concern about the OT was just deceit). Is your "foundation" really the historical Christian faith? No. It is a modern alteration, by a modern theist to make a Christianity that makes more sense than the original faith.

(and yes, I don't have a name. I am just ________, nothing is wrong with your equipment)

___________________________ said...

"A belief in God and methodology to effectively describe our world naturally are quite different things. Why are you attempting to lump them together?"

Yes, they are different things. However, if our methodology never comes across any snag, then it seems rational to doubt the supernatural, including God, based upon Occam's razor.

"if you are tempted to think that this generation is the only one that have tried to effectively explain the Nature"

I am not tempted to think we are the only ones to try. We're the ones to really succeed at a lot of this.

"And if you believe you will eliminate God by effectively explaining the world, that will be shortsightedness."

Eliminate God? No, provide reason to think that God does not exist.

"What is absurd about that? What is absurd about world-wide flood, I dont see the point. "

Let's see. Well, the issues are the origin of the water, and it's disappearance. The weight of the water on the surface of the earth. The mass devastation of large tracts of land to only be replaced by 2 of each species. And of course, the general belief by scientists that no massive floods occurred, at all.

"Lot's of massive inbreeding? How do you suggest inbreeding will be escaped in your naturalistic world view? I mean, assuming that God didn't spontaneously create a man and that the first man and woman came from the monkeys, what could have prevented inbreeding?"

I never said that inbreeding would be escaped, but the level of inbreeding that "2 of each kind" suggests? I don't think that is likely to occur under a naturalistic worldview. I mean, the first group breeding, then brothers and sisters, then cousins, and out from that just seems like everyone would be worse than European royalty.

"The mighty and good God created a flawed and bad creation? To tell you that truth, I lose my patience with such ungrateful rantings. This is one big difference between Christians and Atheists. We believe this world is not perfect the way God intended it to be. But we have Hope that defeats all kind of hoplessness. We no longer see a flawed world and we are potentially living past death."

I wasn't talking about the fall, I was talking about design issues. It seems very difficult to claim, while maintaining intellectual integrity, that God created a world without defect given all of the cases of non-moral defects in the designs of living creatures. You can say that this is ungrateful, but frankly, I see little reason to disregard what seems blatantly obvious.

"Were you really serious when you said that naturalistic research has solved the mystery of the world?"

I didn't say solved. I suggested that the progress of science disagrees with a supernatural universe.

Our knowledge is always incomplete, so I wouldn't say that we solve things. I would say that there is sufficient scientific reason to consider the existence of a historically grounded notion of God false. And I would say that there is sufficient reason to have significant doubts about supernatural/spiritual entities.

"As I told you before, I'm an optimistic person. I'm a seed buried in the ground ready to emerge triumphatincally at the right time at the right conditions. Keep on dreaming with your pessmistic world view."

A statement that can essentially be taken as one of fact, really doesn't seem to say who is optimistic and who is pessimistic. Now, of course, you can keep on declaring your absurd beliefs, but I see no reason to avoid pointing out that they seem absurd.

Ryan Peter said...

For _______

Historically, it seems the Jews weren't quite as dogmatic about a literal six day creation. Philo of Alexandra comes to mind who saw it as symbolic.

I think you're being too strict on how you read Hebrews 11 etc. Paul could very well be referring to allegory of some type, even if it's not full blown allegory.

The text can very well fit in with Paul saying something like "remember the story about... well, that's an example of..." The text isn't forcing anyone to take other texts so literally.

If the Bible is affirming the existence of Adam, for instance, that doesn't mean it is affirming that we are to take the story around Adam so literally. We can believe Adam existed, perhaps not even by that name, and ensure we understand the meaning of the narrative.

Christians throughout the ages have not taken all scriptures so literally (there are many examples of theologians I can provide).

Narrative provides truthful elements, but its main thrust is to carry meaning. It is not untrue if it gets details wrong - it often may even deliberately get the details wrong so that the meaning is conveyed more strongly.

where's the in-textual evidence that it was meant as myth?
I see your overall point and only half-agree. I think you're taking for granted how the ancient world would have approached the texts.

Their approach would include their own cultural background, worldviews, etc. -- things that Loftus appears to have taken into consideration for his Outsider Test.

Remember that your own approach to the text is more than likely clouded by your own paradigm as well, such as your Western background (I presume you are from the West), deep seated in Greek philosophy and currently still heavily influenced by modernism.

How do you know how the ancient people would have actually looked at the text, given their own culture and prevailing worldviews? Studies by some theological heavyweights into history are showing us more and more how our 'modern day' readings are very influenced by our modern day paradigms.

I think you would agree, and I'm really turning your point back at you and saying how sure are you that you actually read and understand the Scriptures correctly? That they're not clouded by your own modern day readings? Is it possible that you perhaps project your paradigm onto the text and then demand that Christians follow your interpretation of its meaning? If so, is that fair?

Furthermore, I am also saying that I, and Christians, are therefore not really under any obligation, even historical, to read the text as strictly as you say we should.

John 3:16 does not mention OT prophecy fulfillment, something early Christians tried to find and based the messianic nature of Christ upon.
Yes, but John 3:16 is the core tenet - because the core tenet is a person, Jesus Christ.

The original faith was actually a lot more colourful than I think you suppose. There were wide views of many different things, even during Catholic rule.

Dogmatism appears to only come in during much later centuries, and even then it suffers a backlash by the reformers, showing yet again that there have always been varying views on matters.

There are essentials and non-essentials. The core essential is Jesus, and then the essentials break down to lesser degrees.

There are Christians in Africa who have believed on Christ through reading a tract, and have actually preached for years just off the information they know from the tract, because they've never had a Bible or there isn't one in their language.

They may get certain details wrong, but so what? They have believed on Christ and that's all that really matters.

I don't even have to believe that the OT prophesied about Jesus to believe in Jesus. My example of African preachers above is a real-life showing of this. They don't know the prophecies concerning Jesus.

As a Christian, I must keep the main thing the main thing (Jesus).

___________________________ said...

"Historically, it seems the Jews weren't quite as dogmatic about a literal six day creation. Philo of Alexandra comes to mind who saw it as symbolic."

Do I think that Philo is the same as Paul of Tarsus? Not really. It is obvious that we can both cite people who will take certain scriptures less literally. I mean, Augustine is also known for taking the creation less literally. The issue is that the text is considered a central point of the doctrine, and the text displays that the people closest to the revelation believed that it was literal, and people to this day actually state that they believe in a literal Genesis because of interpretation issues.

"I think you're being too strict on how you read Hebrews 11 etc. Paul could very well be referring to allegory of some type, even if it's not full blown allegory."

Paul could be doing a LOT OF THINGS. Do I think that Paul regarded the entire OT as allegory though? No, I do not. There is nothing from Hebrews that indicates that we should regard some parts as truer or falser, and because of that, we basically have to say that Paul thought the OT had historical foundations.

"Christians throughout the ages have not taken all scriptures so literally"

I never said that every single scripture was literal. Frankly, I'll accept things like Job to be acceptable by allegories. The issue is that "allegory" cannot be an answer to every concern about historicity.

"Narrative provides truthful elements, but its main thrust is to carry meaning."

Ok, but a narrative being complete bunk really does not seem to fit anything. Not only that, but you can't even say that whole of the Bible was just narrative. There are the laws in Deuteronomy. There are the lineages throughout. I mean, these are not 100% narratives, these people actually believed that some historical core existed. I mean, Moses, doesn't seem to exist according to Loftus. Jews living in Egypt is ESSENTIAL for much of the Biblical text though.

"I think you're taking for granted how the ancient world would have approached the texts. "

I don't think I am being excessively unfair given that all you seem to say is that John 3:16 is true. Obviously there is more than that. Additionally, we basically are nowhere if we just say "all is allegory". Frankly, I think ancient people were opportunistic in interpreting texts in the first place, as eisegesis called exegesis wasn't incredibly uncommon in earlier days. The issue is that textual truth has to relate to facts, if all things are allegory, then no facts exist, and if no facts exist, then what the is the meaning of the Christian faith? Just a cultural continuity with some past foolishness?

"Studies by some theological heavyweights into history are showing us more and more how our 'modern day' readings are very influenced by our modern day paradigms."

I know about that issue. Frankly, an often cited example of this kind of tendency is Anselm's satisfaction. The issue is that this fact undermines all theological truth to an extent beyond the level of scientific truth. The issue is that Christians can't really deny theological truth.

___________________________ said...

"I think you would agree, and I'm really turning your point back at you and saying how sure are you that you actually read and understand the Scriptures correctly? That they're not clouded by your own modern day readings? Is it possible that you perhaps project your paradigm onto the text and then demand that Christians follow your interpretation of its meaning? If so, is that fair?"

Umm... let's see: agree that eisegesis is how things have worked? Sure. Agree that it is unfair to use a rationalist framework on the scriptures? No, of course not. These people didn't have a system and for them a more blatant eisegesis was common, so we can't evaluate a theistic non-system on it's truth-bearing tendencies, can we? However, it still seems that they didn't take everything allegorically. Do I think I am being unfair? No, I do not think I am being unfair. Because if we go back to the culture, and recognize that it really had terrible truth-keeping ability, on what grounds can we trust the truthfulness of it's scriptures? None! Could that question be western? Sure, but we're western, and frankly, I don't see a retreat from that as defensible.

"Furthermore, I am also saying that I, and Christians, are therefore not really under any obligation, even historical, to read the text as strictly as you say we should."

What I am mostly expressing is that your faith is nonsense. You can protest all you like, but if we look historically we don't see truth-bearing tendencies, and if we impose truth-bearing tendencies, we still don't see much.

I mean, you might oppose literalism, but do you really have another great hermeneutic other than "hey all, let's just pick and choose what sounds dandy!" I mean, in the end, you are going to have to accept a God who seems to order child sacrifice, a Jewish exodus that does not appear to happen, a bunch of prophecies that aren't there, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, I'd have to say that the conservatives are at least trying to create a rational system from the historical beliefs of these people, and I'd have to say that these beliefs are very nonsensical.

"As a Christian, I must keep the main thing the main thing (Jesus)."

*sigh* I really don't think there is even a basis for discussion between us. I mean, if I asked you the following questions, would you really have answers?

Why is the Christian faith true?
What evidence supports the Christian faith?
Is this evidence enough to make the Christian faith rational as opposed to other religions?
Can you give objective reasons as to why you think Christianity is true?
How should the Bible be interpreted? And is there anything true other than supposedly one element?
Why is the Bible so important to Paul and Jesus and so on if it is apparently so irrelevant as to be condensed into a single verse?
Could an atheist be a Christian if John 3:16 was interpreted as some form of allegory?

...*sigh* I think you know where I am going. I get the feeling that this is just wasting my time. All I see is some vague attachment to some culture, not to any set of truth claims that can be discussed, or even so much to any worldview that can be rationally considered. At most, you give three truths: Jesus came down to earth, God sent him, and believing in him helps us. But even then, we don’t have what it means to believe in Jesus. Is Calvinist Jesus a proper Jesus? How about universalist Jesus? Conservative Jesus? Some of your own comments seem to express some indifference to this as well, as you care almost nothing about doctrines. What then can be said? Nothing. You have a vague faith in almost nothing. I can’t argue against nothing, but most people believe in a lot more than nothing. Is this an overstatement perhaps? Sure. But so far it seems true, and there is nothing to say about a religion that is all allegory and not an iota true.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

@ Russ,

See Thomas Aquinas for my reference. You can find his argument on line which Dawkins misrepresents. This is what I am referring to. If you want to dialogue further then we can over at my blog?

You said...

'In science differences of opinion do not have eternal consequences of hell, fire and damnation, so differences in Christian thought are nowhere near the same as differences of opinion in science.'

My Reply,

You show here you lack of theological understanding. Belief in creation from God has no bearing on salvation or judgement. So the point remains ;-)

You said...

You're welcome. Since any schmuck can be a Christian clergyman, my opinions are every bit as legitimate as yours. What's more, I'll bet you I have more Christian seminary training than you do.

My Reply...

Ahh yes, we are name calling now. Shall I go tell the teacher... ;-) Now as to your bet about more seminary training you have a Doctorate do you? ;-)

You said,

You do not represent or speak for all Christianities, or even a significant fraction of them.

My Reply,

Hmm you are showing just rhetoric here, your saying nothing. By the way what brand of Christianity do I represent?

You said,

If you are concerned about Dawkins being precise in his language, you should be very precise in your use of language. Since you do not represent a significant fraction of Christians or Christianties you should begin each reference to your religion with the following:

My Reply,

Hmm funny. I fail to see the point of where this is going? We are talking about Dawkins not what fraction of Christianity I represent, if you even know? Do you? Lets stay on topic.

You said,

That is, they aren't even knowledgeable enough to comment on Dawkins at all. And, those are the professionals.

My Reply,

Again what does this have to do with the post?

You said,

So, Phil, go back to your pissant version of Christianity and stop pontificating as if you have real answers, real truth. It's a tinkertoy religion of no real value to anyone. If I wanted to be a repulsive charlatan I could start one of my own.

My reply,

Thanks Russ, So here is your answer. You don't have one. Rather you assume I don't represent Christianity, I should talk to my fellow clergy, I'm pontificating... etc. Clearly you tactic is to discredit, name call, malign etc... because you have noting else to contribute. This type of dialogue shows why atheism is really not making as much ground as you guys thing it should be.

Regards, Phil.

Gandolf said...

Russ said....."If I wanted to be a repulsive charlatan I could start one of my own."

Actually i dont know why some/many gangs dont try applying for religious concessions for themselves also.The hells angels could maybe become,The latter day hells angels.The Bandidos MC could maybe become The united ministry of Bandidos MC.The Gypsy jokers mc, The Reformed Gypsy jokers mc.The Black Dragons,become Brethren of Black Dragons.Etc.

Maybe might help in moving certain folks in this world forward in re examining and thinking about the actual good of people having total rights of laws of religious freedoms and beliefs etc.

Not really so much difference between many of these groups is there?.Ones often simply lawless,the others often legally lawless by citing ownership of old ancient laws of religious freedoms etc.

We have one here in NZ that doesnt seem so very different to a gang really http://www.varsity.co.nz/content/view/1631/2/

Quote:"The black t-shirts and track-pants worn by many of the marchers prompted negative comparisons with Nazi storm-troopers in the New Zealand media." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destiny_Church,_New_Zealand

Yeah in marches they have dressed in black and do the haka to look mean and nasty.

Faith beliefs ...Gangs made legal

Ryan Peter said...

____ (pt 1 of 2)
"Agree that it is unfair to use a rationalist framework on the scriptures? No, of course not. These people didn't have a system and for them a more blatant eisegesis was common, so we can't evaluate a theistic non-system on it's truth-bearing tendencies, can we?"

But is a rationalist framework the only framework in which you would approach the scriptures? And if so, why?

Because if we go back to the culture, and recognize that it really had terrible truth-keeping ability, on what grounds can we trust the truthfulness of it's scriptures? None! Could that question be western? Sure, but we're western, and frankly, I don't see a retreat from that as defensible.

On what grounds can you say that the ancient people had terrible truth keeping ability? I find this statement disrespectful to the ancient people, and it smacks somewhat of an assumption that we're better than them.

Secondly, why do you assume that a Western mode of thought is somehow superior to any other mode of thought?

I'm not Western, I live in South Africa and live with some Western thought, sure, but not all. I also live with African modes of thought. I see no reason to see a Western approach to this discussion as superior to others, but see that all modes of thought / paradigms must be taken into consideration. You would have to first prove to me that your paradigm is better or more superior than mine, and how would you do that?

Ryan Peter said...

_____ (pt 2 of 2)


What I am mostly expressing is that your faith is nonsense. You can protest all you like, but if we look historically we don't see truth-bearing tendencies, and if we impose truth-bearing tendencies, we still don't see much.
Again, this would depend on how you define truth. Is truth science? Is all truth about 1+1 equalling 2? Or is there also a truth that incorporates meaning?

For instance, it is true that 1+1=2, but this is not always the truth. Sometimes, 1+1=1, in nature. Two waterdroplets coming together will make one waterdroplet.

But lets say that 1+1=2 always for argument's sake. This is true, but it is also true that I love my wife. But this is not a scientific varifiable fact, even if I buy her flowers every day no one could truly prove that I love and have feelings for my wife.

Obviously, this is an age old subjective/objective argument, but not entirely. There's a relationship dynamic between my wife and I that cannot be proven either subjectively or objectively. I love her, but does she love me? I have no idea of knowing. She might not. Even experience doesn't really validate the reality of our relationship. The relationship itself validates the reality of itself, and there's no other way of measuring the truth of the relationship.

Where I'm going with this is that I could provide answers to your questions scientifically (I use the term loosely) but then we would always argue on this basis. There will always be reason to doubt, and there will always be reason for faith.

So if you ask "why is the Christian faith true?" we have to define what kind of truth are you looking for? And why is your kind of truth superior to other kinds of truth?

The other questions need to be defined more clearly, as there are certain types of evidence too - historical, experiential, relational, etc.

In response to your last question(s) of "Why is the Bible so important to Paul and Jesus and so on if it is apparently so irrelevant as to be condensed into a single verse?" does show a misunderstanding of the Bible.

Its primary purpose is to encourage Christians to press on with the Christian life, love their brothers and sisters, live in a way that leads to reward. That's why the Scriptures are important to Jesus and Paul, who obviously only had the OT as well and not the NT.

Could an atheist be a Christian if John 3:16 was interpreted as some form of allegory?
How could John 3:16 be translated as allegory, in its entire? Its made up of different parts. The text forces you to take it more literally in parts (whoever believes will not perish) but the 'perish' in the text could mean a fair number of things, including a form of allegory.

Again, is this not a case of you trying to box and label things? (a scientific approach)?

Now, to end our rather disjointed conversation (and I apologise on my end as this is not a forum so we can't really get into true discussion, so I feel a little hopeless here) I would ask a number of questions of your worldview, too. But they don't sound anything like your questions, because I am searching for spiritual truth with these, not 'scientific' truth.

1) How can I answer the longings of my heart?
2) How can I become a person who loves others unconditionally?
3) How can I find true peace and rest in my heart?
4) Why do I have a unique personality?
5) Why are people afraid?
6) Why is it that I have prophesied factually true things to people about what they were feeling or believing God was saying to them personally at the time, without me knowing anything about them?
7) How come I have seen people healed, and been healed myself, through prayer to Jesus?

You don't have to answer these, they're just to prove my point that not everyone has the same questions and that atheism cannot answer the deeper questions of life.

Its answers are quite often irrelevant when people need answers to questions like these.

Not all truth is the same, there are different kinds of truth.

Gandolf said...

I agree with Drew Newman.

The cakes dont have the same ingrediants and are very different.

One (bible) already suggests its sure to rise being its been suggested to be divine having had supernatural powers included etc.And if honest and true, we then surely should have good reason to expect it surely wouldnt turn out a big flop.

The other already admits to being totally man made.Doesnt claim to be the 'way the truth and the life'of cake making.Being found wrong isnt such a problem,the recipe doesnt claim total perfection in the first place.

My opinion is that those trying to make equal comparisons between these two very different cakes,do so mostly because they want their ancient superstitious beliefs to still seem to fit in.Dishonesty for the purpose of gods is the same type of ingrediant used today as was also used many years ago when these teachings were first written.Seeing faithful folk today still being ever ready to do so,to me only seems to suggest faithful deceit is really nothing new.

Trying to merge the goal posts of these two cakes as supposedly being equal, at best only makes these old words of faith written in many books out to be no more than thoughts of mere men.

Which id then agree is most likely the actual real honest truth of it anyway.

Zero-Equals-Infinity said...

The thing that always gets me is the need to project from a mythic narrative onto the physical universe. I have no problems with mythic narratives: They contain meaning and are worth reading to appreciate their affect upon literature, culture, and art.

What does bother me is the need of some to insist that a mythic narrative is a factual history, and that adherence to the dogma of the faithful is the one true way. That kind of attitude, (which I once held by the way), is deeply disturbing, and in its own way is antithetical. By making belief and dogma filters by which all else is measured, they becomes idolatrous forms, a "God" in their own right.

Where are the humble seekers who admit their ignorance, who have sufficient faith to pursue truth wherever it leads, including into a place where belief is disgarded. My faith is not in a form or a label, but in whatever is in itself, to whatever is the root of the unfolding universe of which I am a contingent and necessary part. That I cannot define it is the point, and that is where the religious can get into deep trouble. Because they cannot abide to be in a place where ultimate causes cannot be discerned, but must in a cloud of unknowing faithfully wait and watch, they make idols to act as talismans to their egoic hopes and fears.

I am a non-theistic mystic. I have experience of ecstatic, numinous states, and I refuse to create a "God" frame to provide a context. Standing in a space to be struck by awe and wonder is sufficient, and it requires no idols, no projections, and does not inhibit my ability to accept what science discovers. I do not force the prima facia evidence to fit a theistic model: It does not need to.

Religious traditions serve best where their mythic narratives convey meaning without the baggage of belief. They can work positively in a society to provide a basis for the protection of human rights, (see the anti-slavery movement's nascent development within Quakerism). They can be the basis for powerful forms of art and literature. Also, unfortunately, religious traditions can also foster closed-mindedness, bigotry, hatred, and violence. We need to understand both the positive and negative aspects of religion, to discern ways to break the chains of the negative expressions of traditions, and to accommodate and encourage the positive expressions, because religion is not going away any time soon. Acknowledging this, and "knowing ourselves" as the Delphic Oracle said, will provide a key. Without that, religious strife will continue on unabated, the political sphere will remain mired in theological projections, and we will have no hope of freeing ourselves from theological psychopathology.