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Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by OldHippie, Aug 30, 2010.
Johnny, do you wish to state a position or not?
ha, coming from you that's a joke of a question. when asked for your personal opinion on issues, you routinely play the "it doesn't matter what i believe" card.
my initial post on the coyness subject was meant as a response to your non sequitur, and somehow you took us down a rabbit hole of what is coy and what is not. my position is that you asked how god could be considered coy, and you were answered. you may not like the answer, and you may not agree, but neither of those is relevant.
I have always thought that, if there is a god that wants to speak to me, he or she should have no trouble finding me. I like to do my worshipping in a face to face manner. My sense is that, if there is a god, I am as he or she made me and we will hash it out whenever they find the time to chat. In the meantime, I don't think god is coy, I suspect that, instead, people who request a more satisfying, two-way sit down with the big kahuna are whispering to an empty suit. I mean, the idea of god being coy brings to mind a guy talking to his dead sweetheart and accusing her of being shy because she doesn't respond to his overtures.
don't know anything about a god or gods. I know what men have said and written on the topic.
That is all that any honest person can say on the matter.
We have words that were written by the hands of men, yes, But those words are not men's. An examination of what the Bible says and an evaluation of its reliability leads us to believe that we have God's own words in a book. We can understand His nature, our nature, and His will through it.
The Bible meets all the criteria of internal reliability and external reliability. Even the men writing acknowledged something else was going on. These men did not receive money, power, or fame as a result of writing these things. Peter was executed by the Romans. Paul was executed by the Romans after being jailed for years. John was exiled and impoverished. All of these men and more suffered for writing these words.
You may not agree with the means by which God decided to communicate with us but He has communicated with us.
An examination of what the Bible says and an evaluation of its reliability leads us to believe that we have God's own words in a book.
Not to disparage your sincerity or your faith, but that simply is a statement of faith and not a statement of objective fact. In fact, an objective evaluation will yield a conclusion opposite to yours.
Let's be reasonable and rational. There is no way to show, prove, or evaluate the Christian Bible to give a conclusion that we have God's own words in a book.
Now, in a devotional setting, in a religious context, believers may make that claim. That doesn't mean their claim is true nor does their fervent sincerity make it true.
What we can way is that we lack the evidence that these are God's own words. We do know that there have been translations, transcriptions, errors, editing changes, etc. and that some books of the bible were written centuries after the events they talk about. St. Jerome's Vulgate, the back and forth of Latin/Greek copies, the lack of the original autographs...we simply don't have many of the original texts of the bible's books. Thus, to say that an evaluation of these texts shows that it is God's (not man's) own words is not an argument that withstands scrutiny.
We simply do not have the evidence to say that the Christian bible (or any other bible) is God's own words. Furthermore, to state that an evalution of the RELIABILITY of the bible leads us to believe that is simply incorrect. The bible is not reliable, i.e., it contains inconsistencies. So even if one wishes to make the argument that the Christian bible IS God's own word, to base that argument on the bible's reliability is not the way to go.
If you believe that the bible is the actual word of God, or of at least your God, then fine. There are many believers in other equally valid religions who hold similar views regarding their holy texts. But that's a devotional perspective, not an objective one.
You may not agree with the means by which God decided to communicate with us but He has communicated with us.
This statement, like the one above, is better suited for a Sunday school class. What makes one think that even if God has communicated with us that He chose to do so via the Christian bible? If you think He has communicated with us then good for you. If that brings you peace, comfort, provides meaning in your life then go for it.
What the poster above has said can be said by any devout adherent of just about any religion. He's applying the wrong framework, or methodology imo, to an examination of religion.
I don't know if I do things against my own nature. My nature seems multiple, to have many twists and turns, and some of these varied aspects sometimes lead to outcomes that, when stated simply, appear contradictory. Seems to me that one's nature is quite broad, and that the process of discovering your nature and your 'self' is a revelation. I don't know that you can actually go against your nature, though you may do things that contradict narrow understandings of your nature.
I tried to believe in god but it struck me as worse than a lie, it was suppression, i.e., I knew what was true for me and continuing with the process of religion was incredibly ill-fitting. I have done few if any things in life that were more in line with a sense of well-being and, for lack of a better word, accuracy than deciding that the appropriate reaction to my feelings on religion, god, worship, etc., was to cease personal interactions with religion immediately and indefinitely.
A big part of this was my inability to get past my lack of faith, my utter lack of a sense that there was something beyond my idea of god. In short, I couldn't really believe, I could only imagine, and eventually that was not enough by half. I didn't really think that there was a god, though I couldn't tell for sure, and still cannot.
I cannot say what it is that others experience or what it is that leads them to god or religion or a deep belief. Oceanic feelings, the need for a cosmic father, sensory overload, etc. Who can say what is in the hearts of men. For me, the words of men about god don't get it. There is nothing divine about the Bible or the Koran, etc., at least as far as I can tell. These tomes stink of men. Cool and all, but the question of god's existence remains utterly untouched as far as I am concerned. I mean untouched, unrevealed, unaddressed, undefined, etc. It's an idea we bandy about.
Perham's post about the putative word of god says much of what I would say about the topic. I would add only that I tend to believe that existence precedes essence, so, until there is proof of a god, crediting anything produced by men to god seems to be putting the cart before the horse. This is true overall, which is to say, while I can imagine a god who creates or oversees evolution, and while I can discuss my imagination, such in no way gets me closer to an actual god or knowledge thereof. Then again, I have no faith.
I get the 'for sake of argument' angle. Fine. I think the word assumption is dangerous in this context, i.e., people actually assume alot, and I am in no way assuming anything, but rather explicitly discussing from a vantage that wants to foreground the dichotomy between 'maybe there is a god' and 'maybe there isn't a god,' two longhand prongs of a fork that says 'we don't know.'
Perham, the quote below summarizes your response. You add reasons to why you think it is so, but this is the baseline.
You also claim that my conclusion that the Bible is God's own words is based on faith not objective evaluation. And that is truly incorrect.
Let me be more clear: not on any objective evaluation that is rigorous, intellectually honest, and that does not take a devotional perspective.
You can definitely believe what you want to believe. If that means thinking that your holy text (whichever holy text floats your boat) then so be it. But it is wrong to treat the bible as an inerrant history text, or scienc text, or geology text, or to think that it has no inconsistencies (i.e., is either internally or externally reliable to the extent that we can say that these are God's own words).
Imo, your faith prevents you from being objective. You think the Christian bible is the one, true book. Good for your. There are Muslims and Jews who are similarly devout and their arguments are just as valid as yours, in a religious context.
Consistencies? The creation myth in Genesis, the differing recountings of the final moments of Jesus in the Gospels, Paul's afflictions whilst on the road, to name just a few.
The bible is a text, written by man, maybe even written in an spiritually inspired fashion. No text has the consistency that you think your bible has. Now, SouthernBaptist.org will certainly say otherwise, but then, that's a devotional perspective.
Your religion is no better or worse than many others. It may be better than a few, it may be worse than a few. Because it is your religion you think it is the actual word of God. Why? That's for you to answer.
One can say that their holy text is the actual wod of God. Fine. But when they try to offer "proof", proof that extends past the spiritual and into the objective and rational, that's where they get into trouble. Furthermore, it is exactly that type of overreaching that drives many of the younger, intelligent seekers away.
I cannot say what it is that others experience or what it is that leads them to god or religion or a deep belief. Oceanic feelings, the need for a cosmic father, sensory overload, etc.
Don't forget temporal lobe epilepsy.
And no, that is not a joke.
Or my my objective look at the Bible has produced my faith in its contents and the belief that it is the one, true book.
Possibly. But we're not going to get any further on this topic.
I will leave it to others to determine the validity of our respective arguments.
Anyway, the creation accounts are probably the most problematic, but there is a reasonable and yes rational explanation of their consistency with one another.
Yes, anybody who has looked into this is aware of the various rationalizations, synthesis, and systemic theological reasons why and how these inconsistencies can be explained away. The fact remains, however, that there are inconsistencies. Of course one can twist and turn and manipulate the textual interpretation to conclude that there is nothing of the sort. This is part of my point: a devotional reading will lead one to the conclusion that all is a perfect, seamless web; an objective reading is not beholden to do that.
And as an aside, and I don't mean to belittle bible study, but usually when people say they have "studied" the bible they mean they have taken sessions at some church. This is not the type of study that I mean by study. Of course the church will spout their party line. To think otherwise is unrealistic. Bible study in this is good, though, for various reasons. It is not a good method, however, by which to critically examine the text. For example, depending on the particular denomination, one could find, after years and years of study, that man was formed whole and this pesky notion called evolution is simply bad science.
It pains me when people (not saying that anyone here is doing this, just another aside) try to use the Christian bible as science or geology text. That's not the point of religion, imo, and certainly not the point of spirituality. But in past decades the fundamentalist movement has been strong, and their insistence on biblical inerrancy (whether young earth or something else, creationism or something else) is a disservice to the sublime elements that do exist in that book. It's not a vacuum cleaner manual. It's not there to tell us that God really made the world in 6 days. Or that the flood of Noah's time actually happened. That's not the point, at least imo. But, for whatever reason, the desire to interpret the text in that fundamentalist fashion has been strong lately.
With apologies to buckhorn, I'm going to selectively quote him to express some more of my views. I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with buckhorn, nor am I looking for a response, necessarily.
I tried to believe in god but it struck me as worse than a lie....
This reminds me a Julia Sweeny (sp) bit from her show (on HBO, something like "God Said Ha!). It seemed to me that Ms. Sweeny wasn't so much railing against God as much as she was railing against the definition of God that her church (Catholic) insisted on. So is the lie based on believing in a supreme being, any supreme being at all? Or is the lie predicated on god as defined by Catholics/Lutherans/Baptists? Is the problem in accepting Jesus as a divine figure? As Jesus being the vehicle by which mankind achieves salvation? Because it's by no means beyond the pale to not accept Jesus as being divine.
If that is the case, then one's problem is more with religion than with god, or a belief in god.
A big part of this was my inability to get past my lack of faith....
Why exactly is this such a problem? Doubt is good. I praise doubt, taking Peter Berger's lead.... Again, the thorn seems to be in what one's religion says, because most look down on doubt while praising faith. You're not going to be very well accepted if you continually express your doubt every Sunday morning. People will start to think you should go elsewhere if you don't believe what they are selling. And since a big part of church is the social part, and not some academic search for objective answers, they may be right.
There is nothing divine about the Bible or the Koran, etc., at least as far as I can tell.
I agree with that in one sense, but in another the divine is where one finds it, or where one chooses to find it. The divine can be found in the bible. The divine can be found in a Michelangelo fresco, a Rodin sculpture, a Bach invention.
Personally, I find the divine better on my own. Especially when it comes to things like the bible. When I hear all the stuff (imo, crap) that people attribute to the bible, and the bickering between denominations, it turns me off.
But if by divine we mean "it really, really came from God, either "a" god or "the" God, then I agree, the bible is not divine at all. That doesn't mean the bible isn't worthwhile. Not at all.
We create meaning, importance, and values. We decide what is important to use, what to follow. We spin our own web, so to speak. If books like the bible help us in that endeavour then great. Use the bible to make us better humans, to connect with the divine, the sublime. But to use the bible as some kind of text that tells us evolution is bunk? You're missing the point.
Thus endeth the sermon.
Perham1, one last response.
I am sure you have heard "Christian" explanations for the 2 accounts of creation of Genesis. I do not claim to be totally original. The only point I want to make is that there are many things that we read which could have the appearance of contradiction. Upon closer viewing that contradiction will either prove to be real and unavoidable or the product of misunderstanding or the lack of understanding of a key aspect. I am not saying you misunderstand anything in Genesis. I will say though that those who are biased against belief will stop there examination many times at the surface and never try to understand the text further. I say biased against belief because no one is without some kind of bias. Assuming that someone who is not religious is unbiased is a mistake. One side has some bias to belief what is written and the other has some bias to disbelief. So what you call twisting/manipulating the text can be just that or it can be a better understanding of something complex which someone with bias against does not want to entertain the thought of acceptance. Not well said, but hopefully understandable.
The other point is just to say that none of my conclusions about the bible come from a church or a denomination as a matter of stating the party line. I have come to my conclusions based on my own study of the text, the original language, the context, and any historical/cultural/physical information which pertains.
Good post, Monahorns. It was well said.
Thanks. Have a good weekend. Hook'em.