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“The Bible says it, therefore I believe it”

The Bible says it, therefore I believe it

Sal wonders why someone might say “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it”, unless they are “supremely gullible”.

This is an epistemological question. I approve of the formula, so I’ll try and answer why.

Firstly, let’s clear away some possible misunderstandings. The formula presupposes that the Bible really does say whatever the “it” is. Someone might choose to apply the formula to something the Bible doesn’t say. The Bible teaches the world ended last Tuesday, therefore I believe it – except that, it doesn’t. Those reading the Bible can be caught up in misunderstanding, misinterpreting, twisting, mistranslating, and the like. Such cases are not in view in this discussion.

Secondly, the formula presupposes that there really are things that the Bible does say, and which we should know it says. Some things are not a matter of personal interpretation, or so doubtful that we cannot say anything, whatever the canons of literary deconstruction say. The mother of Jesus was, according to the Bible, called Mary. Regardless of how much pomo-relativo juice you drink, you cannot validly read it to say that she was called Jezebel Mehetabel Bob Smith. Should the reader prefer to interpret the text that way, the reader is a loon.

Thirdly, we’re not here discussing how someone personally moves to this position. Someone might not be sure why they might find the Bible reliable, or how to end up in such a position if you start from a position of skepticism. A Christian answer to that would bring in many further issues. The scope here though is how someone who does hold that position – whatever their journey was – could reasonably justify it, having arrived there.

OK, got that. We’re thinking of something that we are supposing the Bible really did say. Why might someone – as I do – then proceed to say “therefore, I believe it?” and not need to add the corollary “coz I is supremely gullible, you know?”

Sal himself quoted Jesus two sentences later. The quote was out of context; Jesus was talking about miracles his hearers had personally witnessed, not about scientific experiments. But anyway, Sal seems to think that Jesus is someone we might take seriously. I’m not sure how far he’d go with that. But if you think that Jesus is the Son of God, and that his claims about himself, that he had come from the Father and his words were totally reliable because he had descended from heaven, then that’s one place to begin. Jesus took the words of Scripture as totally reliable. Jesus himself took the position “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it.” “The Scripture cannot be broken”, John 10:35. “You are wrong, because you do not know the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29).

He who says “A” and “B” must then say “C”. Once someone takes the presupposition that the words of Jesus are supremely reliable, it follows that the Scriptures then have to be taken as supremely reliable. To be consistent, if you believe that Jesus’ attitude to Scripture is reliably recorded in the gospel records, and if you believe that Jesus had a correct attitude to Scripture, then this becomes your position. The alternative is to be incoherent. If God is orderly and coherent, then his image-bearers should seek to be so too. QED.

Sal posits that we might take the Bible’s statements as tentative, then test them out. How do you test them out?

Remember that the Bible itself claims to be the revelation of the mind of God. It is claiming to be a *final* authority. Where do you go after you have taken your case to the Supreme Court? Either the court really was supreme, or it wasn’t. If there is another bench that sits afterwards, then it wasn’t the Supreme Court after all.

If the Bible’s statements can be taken to a higher authority to test – such as Sal’s laboratory, or mine – then ipso facto, the Bible is already assumed to /not/ be what it claims to be. My or Sal’s reasoning processes are being set up as a more reliable authority, and can be used to test it.

Either the Bible can sit in judgment on my reasoning processes and verify their veracity, or my reasoning processes can sit in judgment on the Bible and verify its veracity. But not both.

My position as a Christian is not that I can prove every statement in the Bible, or even most of them, to be true. Such a claim would actually be inconsistent with the view that the Bible is the final authority. By definition, your foundational presuppositions or (those things directly deducible from them) are not subject to further verification – or they would not in fact be foundational presuppositions. Rather, my position is that only taking the Bible as foundational can consistently make sense of everything else. C S Lewis asked why we believe that our night-time dreams are not the true world, rather than the one we spend the day in. How do we know that day-time is not the dream? How do we decide for sure which is the real world? He answered, because the real world makes sense of our dreams; whereas our dreams make sense of nothing. One gives a coherent account of the other. That’s as far as you go in such questions, and normally it satisfies us. Christians believe in the triune God and in the Bible, not because we have a scientific proof of them; but because they make sense of the world, science and everything else whereas the alternative choices fall far short. Science makes sense within a Biblical world-view. There are coherent reasons for doing science and expecting sound results. But when I make myself the centre of my existence and epistemology, I end up being able to make sense of nothing. How do I know that the world is not just an illusion? Why expect the future to be in accordance with the past? There are reasons why science flourished within the soil of a Christian culture, when it had failed to do so amongst other those of world-views.

This is not special pleading. Sal appears to believe that his own reasonings and perhaps empirical tests can prove or disprove statements in the Bible. This means that Sal believes in the reliability of his own reasonings and tests, above that of the Bible. But why does he believe in them? What makes him think they are reliable? Has he verified them some other way? If so, then how was that “other way” itself verified?

If you keep pressing that process back, then eventually you have to come back to some foundation beyond which you cannot go. Unless you presuppose *something*, you cannot deduce *anything*. There must be a “this is where we start, and which we assume is true”. The child’s questions “why, why, why?” must eventually end with an answer “because it is so”. The issue is not “why take the Bible as your foundation – doesn’t this decide the issue in advance?” It’s not a matter of taking a foundation or not. Our epistemology has to have *some* foundation. The only question is, “which one?”. A man with zero prior assumptions can only end up with zero conclusions. If you have some conclusions, you must have had some foundational assumptions. So why not the Bible? Why believe in your own ultimate, final reliability above that of the Bible?

So, the only question to be decided is where we stop, not whether to stop. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is that ultimately reliable stopping place. I myself am a fallen creature, and my reasoning processes are corrupt and not ultimately and finally reliable. They are biased, by my own ignorance and selfishness. I cannot make them the ultimate foundation of my thinking and living.

I hope this at least answers the question, why someone might use the formula “the Bible says it, therefore I believe it”. I approve of that formula, not because I think of myself as supremely gullible, but because my aim is to bring my thoughts into submission to God’s – rather than the other way around.

Nobody is claiming that agreeing with this assessment is an essential of Intelligent Design theory. But it surely helps conversation if we each understand why we are each saying the things we do. If we’re convinced that scientism is a bogus epistemology, then what does a true one look like? “The Bible says it, therefore I believe it” gives me a basis for doing science personally; made in the image of God, in a logical and orderly creation, I can put some level of basic trust in my thought processes and observations – whilst maintaining a healthy skepticism, knowing my own fallibility. Where does Sal get such a belief from? Does he just hope that this is the way it is? (Don’t tell me he’s done some tests/had some past experience – that’s viciously circular). I get what Sal assumes, for free, as a consequence of my foundational assumptions. “The Bible says it, therefore I believe it” is a sound epistemology, not a mark of being gullible.

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66 Responses to “The Bible says it, therefore I believe it”

  1. “So, the only question to be decided is where we stop, not whether to stop. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is that ultimately reliable stopping place. I myself am a fallen creature, and my reasoning processes are corrupt and not ultimately and finally reliable. They are biased, by my own ignorance and selfishness. I cannot make them the ultimate foundation of my thinking and living.”

    Yet you are using your own “fallen” reasoning powers to decide to accept the Bible and/or Jesus over other sources. How do you know your “fallen” reasoning powers are not making a grave error by accepting the Bible/Jesus instead of, say, the Bhagavad Gita, as your foundation for life?

    No matter how you slice it, you are making a judgement. And as judge, you put yourself in the place of the highest authority for yourself.

  2. You’ve not raised any substantive question there. I was answering the question, “why might I decide to take the Bible as their highest authority?” Pointing out that in doing so, I make a decision, only re-states something that was already in the question. Yes, I have to take responsibility for my decisions. But having personal responsibility is not the same as usurping authority; you’ve equivocated the difference between these two. When your boss at work says “do this” and you do it, you did not thereby assert a claim that in fact you were the true boss of your company. Quite the opposite: you recognised that you weren’t.

    If you’re asking how I can gain confidence that I made a correct judgment call, then I answered that question in the section referencing C S Lewis.

  3. Of somewhat related note, This morning I’m going to watch this video that has had some very positive reviews:

    The Resurrection Argument that Changed a Generation of Scholars – Gary Habermas – video
    https://vimeo.com/9056859

    As to the reliability of the Bible in general, I’ve always found precisely fulfilled prophecy to be what sets the Bible completely apart from other ‘holy’ books. This one prophecy in particular, which has direct bearing on us today, is simply jaw-dropping:

    Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581

    As to countering many of the ‘nitpicking’ criticisms that arise from people like Bart Ehrman,,,,

    The (Bart) Ehrman Project – several videos defending various Biblical texts and the Historicity of Jesus
    http://www.youtube.com/user/ehrmanproject

    ,,I’ve found Dr. Tim McGrew’s work particularly effective in countering Ehrman and company’s high level criticisms:

    Undesigned Coincidences – Tim McGrew – article
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....of-design/

    Alleged Historical Errors in the Gospels (Luke & John) by Tim McGrew – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5kJuTkUo0w

    Undesigned Coincidences (evidence for the historicity of the Gospels) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGVLeC5HbSQ

    Who Wrote the Gospels? by Timothy McGrew – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldvim1yjYM

    Moreover, as to authenticity of the Bible, I find that the Bible is ‘alive’, and I mean that in a way that specifically differentiates the Holy Bible from other inanimate objects. This is because the words of the Holy Bible have literally, during a time low point in my life when I had turned to the Bible for some sort of guidance, in a ‘miraculous’ event that woke me up to the reality of God turned my worldview completely upside-down, ‘came alive’ as I was reading them: This following testimony reveals one such time this has occurred in my life with the Holy Bible:

    Strange But True – Miracle Testimony
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNTNocmRjZGtkdg&hl=en

    Verse and Music:

    Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

    The Word Is Alive – Casting Crowns – music video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5197438/

  4. Hi David,

    This is a good conversation to have. I suspect I’m representative of others within the Christian faith that are not usually very vocal with our doubts (since dissent and questioning aren’t exactly welcome in churhes if you know what I mean). So churces end up tossing out doubting Thomases in violation of what it actually says in Jude:

    Be merciful to those who doubt

    Jude 1:22

    For the reader’s benefit, the thread where this started is here:
    Creationist Paper Published in Peer Reviewed Biology Journal

    Thanks for raising the topic. It probably is what distinguishes Creationism from ID. Perhaps summarized best by Phil Johnson:

    Get the Bible and the Book of Genesis out of the debate

    Phil Johnson

    But to your own objection:

    This is not special pleading. Sal appears to believe that his own reasonings and perhaps empirical tests can prove or disprove statements in the Bible. This means that Sal believes in the reliability of his own reasonings and tests, above that of the Bible. But why does he believe in them? What makes him think they are reliable? Has he verified them some other way? If so, then how was that “other way” itself verified?

    Not quite, because Jesus said:

    “even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” John 10:38

    Which means:

    1. Jesus asserts flawed humans can learn and eventually discern the truth
    2. Having the right epistemology is not a pre-requisite for eventually learning the truth
    3. He expects people with less than perfect perception and knowledge to eventually arrive at the truth

    And if knowing the truth and having perfect reasoning and knowledge is a requirement for learning the truth, then none of us can hope to know the truth.

    Further, you are attributing an argument to me which I didn’t make when you said:

    This means that Sal believes in the reliability of his own reasonings and tests, above that of the Bible.

    That’s not the argument I made. And I have just given you something from the Bible that asserts that even the Lord himself feels flawed humans can learn the truth using their imperfect perceptions and reasoning. Not because of the strength of their flawed reasoning and perception, but by the power of the empirical witness.

    And frankly, if we didn’t think our flawed minds could bring us closer to the truth, what is the point of searching for the truth?

    Secondly, by your standard, your reasoning is equally as untrustworthy as mine, thus, everything you said, by your own standard is no less supspect of truth than what I asserted.

    “The Bible says it, therefore I believe it” is a sound epistemology, not a mark of being gullible.

    Such reasoning is circuluar reasoning, therefore it is no reasoning at all. Circular does not honor the Christian faith, imho.

    The Bible is believable because it makes bold claims about the physical universe. Granted, not all the claims are testable, but some are in principle.

    Given the quotation I provided in John 10:38, the notion that “the Bible says it, therefore I believe it” is not completely in line what Jesus actually teaches.

    And certainly “the Bible says it, therefore I believe it” wasn’t how Paul or the Centurion who witnessed the crucifixtion came to faith.

    I would like to point out something that a well-known ID proponent said:

    In the past, students treated the gospel as a genuine truth claim that could be supported by giving reasons and citing evidence–just like any other set of propositions. But today students put Christianity in the upstairs where it is reduced to personal choice and preference
    ….
    Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ear to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh, and judgemental.

    Nancy Pearcy
    Saving Leonardo page 31

    “The bible says it, therefore I believe” works for you and others, but certainly not all believers. It certainly seems to fly in the face of “a genuine truth claim that could be supported by giving reasons and citing evidence”.

    What you have said is about the same level of “apologetic” I’ve heard in a lot of churches. It’s no wonder churches today have a reputation for being anti-reason. Maybe you can insist that you’re right, but then there are a lot like me who would be driven from the church because of such “apologetics”. Is your insistence on this line of reasoning worth it in light of the cost?

    This is the price such a line of reasoning results in:

    Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ear to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh, and judgemental.

  5. There a number of issues that come out of this, and it goes to the heart of the difference between evidential apologetics and presuppositional apologetics.

    Several positions need to be considered by both sides.

    1. To treat nature, and the scientific study of nature, as something independent of God is a form of idolatry because it assumes that truth can be established without God, and that nature exists independently of God. Does ID fall into this error?

    2. Part of the prior commitment of presuppositionalists is that we are made in the Imago Dei. Part of the divine image is the presence of a rational capacity that allows us to study nature scientifically. Do presuppositionalists over look this ?

    3. Reformed presuppositionalists can over look the work of the Holy Spirit in leading us into all truth, and focus upon a sort of natural theology based purely upon the human capacity to read the Bible. John 16:13. Something Reformed charismatic Christians wish to point out – as does Plantinga in his ‘Warranted Christian Belief’

    4. Christians can be sincere Bible believing believers, but reach different conclusions about truth in theology. i.e. Christians Zionists versus those who hold that the Church is the continuation of Israel.

  6. David,

    I agree with your essay, but (to play Sal’s advocate) I would suggest that John 10.37 opens the door for outside testing. I would expect to find confirming evidence outside the Bible (and I would be concerned if I did not find evidence). I should not expect to find disconfirming/overruling evidence.

  7. 7

    As a Christian, I would replace the word ‘Bible’ with ‘Scripture’; the difference being, I am open to the possibility that non-scriptural texts were accepted into the canon. So ‘scripture’ would be those writings that were truly inspired by God, while ‘the bible’ is a collection of writings that are currently accepted as scripture by modern theologians of certain persuasions. But then the question becomes, ‘how do you know what is scripture and what is not scripture in the bible?’

    We have to use sound thinking abilities when we attempt to discern what is scripture and what is not, especially if we believe that there is a distinct possibility that something is in the bible that is not inspired. And I would use Martin Luther as an example of this: he rejected the Book of James because he thought there was a contradiction between what Paul said and what James said. Luther used the law of non contradiction to conclude that one of the two should not be in the canon. If he was thinking correctly, then he is right, one of the two needs to be kicked out (consequently, I think Luther equivocated on what Paul meant by faith and what James meant by faith, so James and Paul were not necessarily talking about the same thing – James actually defines what he means by ‘faith’ in his letter).

    However, it must be noted that in order to do this, two things are necessary: 1) we must assume that the laws of logic are correct, and 2) we must assume that there is such a thing as scripture which is a revealer of absolute truth. And if it is a revelation of absolute truth, then it must not violate the law of non contradiction or else there is a problem.

    When I ponder seemingly contradictory passages of scripture, I approach it with this in mind: ‘if the scriptures are absolute truth, and these two texts are both scripture and therefore both true, then what am I missing?’ Or rather, what must the words themselves mean in order for there to be no contradiction? Then I go about trying to discern what the passages are telling me with the law of non contraction in mind. Sometimes this struggle brings about great agony, but I have also found that by asking, I have received the needed clarification (in the sense that I eventually obtain satisfactory definitions for the words that actually show the two passages to be in harmony). If that never happens, then I start to seriously consider the possibility that one of the two is not scripture. The law of non contradiction is crucial when studying scripture (and the Bible).

    My two cents.

  8. “David Anderson: If you’re asking how I can gain confidence that I made a correct judgment call, then I answered that question in the section referencing C S Lewis.”

    I happen to disagree with Lewis on that point. I don’t think the idea of Truine God makes the world more coherent. Our reason, yours and mine, have come to different conclusions on that matter.

    Yes, I have to take responsibility for my decisions. But having personal responsibility is not the same as usurping authority;

    “Usurping” is loaded word and implies there is some other possibility. There is no other possibility. You are using your human reason *primarily* as the fundamental arbiter of what you consider to be true and trustworthy. You are not operating under the philosophy of “the bible says it therefore I believe it.” You are operating under the philosophy of “I have come to the conclusion based on my own powers of reasoning that the Bible is true, therefore I believe it.” Not quite the same thing.

    “When your boss at work says “do this” and you do it, you did not thereby assert a claim that in fact you were the true boss of your company. Quite the opposite: you recognised that you weren’t.”

    Bad analogy. I have the choice to fire my boss any time I like based on my own reasoning. My own reason still sits as the supreme arbiter. Can you think of a counter example with regards to a normal, sane person? (No doubt that people can in moments of intellectual diminished capacity “decide” to hand over their choice to another, but this is beyond the scope of the topic at hand.)

    Now, since your confidence in the Bible is built on the foundation of your own reasoning, your confidence in the Bible will remains as long as your reasoning holds. So your philosophy would be best restated as:

    I have come to the conclusion based on my own powers of reasoning that the Bible is true, therefore I believe it, and will continue to believe until the powers of reasoning come to believe that it is not true.”

    Bottom line, the utterance that “the bible says it therefore I believe it” may be a true statement about the one saying it, but hardly worth saying, except perhaps as an emotional rhetorical device during preaching.

  9. 9

    I agree with Sal that this is an excellent conversation to have. Put me firmly on Mr. Anderson’s side, but I think we should understand two different conceptions of Reason before we continue:

    http://amishmashpaddywhack.blo.....alism.html

    This is an important distinction to make. One conception of Reason places it at the top, determining our decisions. The other places it in the middle, the conduit between our choices and our actions.

    A question for Mr. Anderson: Would you say that your view requires humans to have a capacity for free will? That seems to be an obvious conclusion.

  10. 10

    Sal:

    And I have just given you something from the Bible that asserts that even the Lord himself feels flawed humans can learn the truth using their imperfect perceptions and reasoning. Not because of the strength of their flawed reasoning and perception, but by the power of the empirical witness.

    Luke 16:27-31

    “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

    “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

  11. 11

    Sal:

    Is your insistence on this line of reasoning worth it in light of the cost?

    I personally will pay any price for the Truth. There is no political goal or societal acceptance measure which ought to have supremacy over the Truth.

    And this very quote signals you ultimately understand that two different people can both be rational yet reach different conclusions. How do you explain that?

  12. ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

    Abraham was referring to the 5 brothers, not people in general. Many gentiles had not yet listened to Moses and the prophets before believing.

    And if you look at Paul preaching on Mars hill in Acts chapter 17, the gentiles believed despite not hearing (much less listening) to Moses and the Prophets.

    So the verse cited in Luke regarding the 5 brothers is not universally applicable to everyone.

    And we have this:

    Matthew 11:23

    And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.

    Sodom was pre-Moses. So in principle, they couldn’t have even listened to Moses, but they could have still believed if the Lord was willing.

    What you have put forward has been used to justify the sort of apologetic of “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it”. This isn’t necessarily what the Bible teaches, in fact there could be some argument it is contrary to the spirit of skepticism that is actually suggested.

    “even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” John 10:38

    And by the way, one of those works was the raising from the dead of the other Lazarus.

    John 11

    When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

    Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him,

    Which means these are people who:
    1. already listened to Moses and the prophets but still didn’t believe (the were identified as previously unbelieving Jews)

    2. they believed only after seeing someone raised from the dead

    So this means, clearly the 5-brothers were a special case, not a general case, and therefore we can’t universally say, “the Bible says it, therefore I believe” is the only way someone will come to faith in general or on specific matters (like creation).

    And even from personal observation, I know of people that became creationists or IDists first before becoming Bible believers. For them, the Bible became believable because the were creationists or IDists, not the other way around.

  13. 13

    You cannot expect me to ignore the context of John 10 Sal. The context is Jesus saying that “my sheep hear my voice.” That is those who hear Jesus’ voice and recognize him as the Christ and the Son of God have a pre-existing state of being which allows them to do so; those who don’t have this pre-existing condition are blinded, a concept supported by a massive pile of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. That pre-existing condition is faith. Faith is a choice.

    The people to whom Jesus was talking at the end of John 10 when he asked them to recognize his miracles even if they didn’t recognize him immediately rejected both him and his miracles.

  14. 14

    Also how do you get off claiming that the five brothers were a “special case”? The five brothers weren’t real! This was a parable! You expect me to believe that Jesus told this parable meaning only to apply it to five people who weren’t even real?

  15. Also how do you get off claiming that the five brothers were a “special case”?

    I provided three 3 passages that cast doubt on your claim that this verse applies to every believer. It certainly doesn’t apply to the Gentiles in Acts Chapter 17 nor to those who might have been saved in Sodom that didn’t even know about Moses.

    And then presumably we have Jews who didn’t supposedly listen to Moses and prophets (because they didn’t not recognize Jesus as Messaiah), until of course he actually raised someone from the dead!

    In fact, it is Christ resurrection from the dead that is used as a basis of belief in the Christian faith, not strictly from listening to Moses and the prophets! So the passage you cite can be argued as a special case. You can insist you’re right, but not every believer accepts your interpretation.

  16. I agree with David Anderson that all positions rest on assumptions, sooner or later. I agree that Christians cannot constantly be trying to demonstrate their faith, from the ground up, to every skeptic who comes along. There comes a point where you simply have to decide whether or not to live as a Christian.

    However, I must disagree with some of his statements.

    “Jesus took the words of Scripture as totally reliable. Jesus himself took the position ‘the Bible said it, therefore I believe it.’”

    This rests on an equivocation. The term “Bible” is anachronistic for Jesus’s day. In Jesus’s day there was no New Testament and the Old Testament canon was not yet fixed. “The Scriptures” referred to the Law and the Prophets and *some* (not all) of what the Jews call The Writings. Jesus did not use “the Bible” — what Protestants understand by “the Bible” — to prove anything.

    Similarly, when Paul says that “all Scripture is God-breathed,” he means the generally received Jewish writings, not the New Testament, and not even all of the Old Testament. It is possible that he had in mind even some writings — from the Apocryphal Old Testament — that are now not accepted as part of the canon, but were quite highly regarded and influential in his day. We don’t know, because Paul never gave us a list.

    In any case, that Jesus took large parts of the Old Testament as “totally reliable” does not tell us how he interpreted those parts. We have only a few scanty passages regarding his exegesis of Genesis, for example — not enough to reconstruct his hermeneutical principles with any reliability. What we do have, however, suggests that he sometimes read Genesis, and the rest of the Old Testament, with the degree of freedom common among the rabbis of his day, i.e., midrashically.

    “Remember that the Bible itself claims to be the revelation of the mind of God.”

    No, it doesn’t, for the simple reason that “the Bible” as such doesn’t speak about itself at all. (Nor, when you think about it, could it, unless some sort of preface were attached to it, like: “The following 66 books — [names provided] are the divine word of God; I, the Holy Spirit, which wrote these 66 books, attest to this in this statement which you are now reading, which henceforth is to be considered as authoritative as the 66 book themselves.”)

    It is true that some Biblical books reference other Biblical books, but there is no passage in which “the Bible” is conscious of itself as a unity. The closest one comes to that is New Testament references to most (not all) of the Old Testament books, e.g., the Law and the Prophets.

    In fact it is the Church which claims that the Bible is the revelation of the mind of God. And it could not be otherwise, since it is the Church which determines the canon, and therefore what does and does not count as conveying the mind of God. Thus, the “mind of God” is different for an Ethiopian Christian than for a Calvinistic one, because their canons are different. And “the mind of God” would have been different for the Reformers if, as easily could have happened, Revelation and a couple of other books had not “made the cut” (they almost didn’t), and the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache had “made the cut” (they almost did). In fact, each Church, by its power of defining “Bible” is claiming to speak for God, because it is claiming to know which books represent God’s mind and which books don’t. (And if one argues that God by his Spirit caused the Church to make the right choice, one cannot explain the differences in canons — unless one is prepared to say that the Ethiopians and Greeks and Armenians and Catholics simply misunderstood the Holy Spirit and the Protestants heard it correctly — a claim which I would like to see defended without employing the presupposition of its own truth!)

    “As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is that ultimately reliable stopping place.”

    This statement comes close to identifying Christian with Protestant. It doesn’t do so literally, but it smacks of that. A Catholic would say “the Bible and those traditions of the Church which flow from the Holy Spirit together constitute that ultimately reliable stopping place.” It would be better if Mr. Anderson said “As a Protestant” instead of trying to speak for all Christians.

  17. I believe David Anderson is the same David Anderson who should be credited with almost single handedly demolishing the BCSE (the British counterpart to the NCSE). He is also an Oxford trained mathematician and pastor. So, for sure he is an esteemed brother.

    I would hope that even supposing I’m wrong, that he take into consideration that I’m not at all unique in my objections. There maybe people under his care as pastor someday that will have the same reservations as I.

    I’ve been forthright in saying what a minoirity parishioners might actually think, but will probably leave the church before offering their dissenting opinion in church.

    The problem is, the church ought to be the place to have these sorts of doubts addressed and possibly inspire more faith. David’s response probably wouldn’t inspire more faith. So where is a believer to go? Er…maybe into the secular world until they get so fed up with the secular world they return to the church. But some will never return from the secular world. Perhaps none of this had to transpire if their reasonable doubts might have been given a little more consideration, they would have remained in the faith.

    Sal wonders why someone might say “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it”, unless they are “supremely gullible”.

    But that is not what I actually asserted. I asserted:

    makes them sound like they are supremely gullible.

    It does not mean they actually are gullible, but it sure makes them sound that way to me, and I’m surely not the only doubting Thomas listening to Sunday morning sermons who thinks this. I know I’m not the only one, and some of these end up being tossed out of the church, becoming academics, and occassionaly enemies of the faith who successfully proseltize others into atheism.

    I’ve stated what inspired doubts in me. I would hope pastors would consider:

    1. that the things they say may needlessly inspire doubts about the Christian faith

    2. perhaps, “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it” is not even what the Bible actually teaches! At least not in every case.

    Of course, Christians believe somethings that are not provable, like the return of Christ. We accept it because that is what the Scriptures teach. But why do we believe the scriptures in the first place? Every one has his reasons, and its not soley because he read it in the Bible (as that would be circular reasoning).

    But surely we don’t soley believe everything in the Bible merely because the Bible says it is so. Which suggests, there are aspects of God’s truth that are outside the Bible that actually help us believe the Bible, i.e. Nature itself and even the historical records of non-Christian sources.

    Examples:

    For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,

    Romans 1:20

    and

    As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    Acts 17:28

    The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

  18. Sal: Which suggests, there are aspects of God’s truth that are outside the Bible that actually help us believe the Bible, i.e. Nature itself and even the historical records of non-Christian sources.

    And let’s not forget personal experience. Downplayed by many, cursed by some, but if I read my Bible right, quite integral with the New Testament Church.

  19. 19

    I provided three 3 passages that cast doubt on your claim that this verse applies to every believer.

    How could you possibly interpret me to have said this?

    The point being made in the parable of the rich man is that the evidence of the resurrection will not be enough to convince people who are not already convinced by the Scriptures. It had nothing to do with believers and everything to do with nonbelievers. Jesus was also addressing nonbelievers in John 10.

    And then presumably we have Jews who didn’t supposedly listen to Moses and prophets (because they didn’t not recognize Jesus as Messaiah), until of course he actually raised someone from the dead!

    Don’t take my word for it. This is Paul’s interpretation.

    Romans 9:30-32:

    What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”

    Paul indicts Israel for believing that righteousness is attained by works (that is adherence to the law) and not by faith as the OT makes clear in passages like Genesis 15:6. Paul in the next few chapters provides several OT references about remnants of true faith within the larger nation of Israel that had abandoned the faith, and references to the “stumbling stone”. This argument, which is repeated in even greater detail by the author of Hebrews, culminates in Romans 11:7-10:

    What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written:

    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes so that they could not see
    and ears so that they could not hear,
    to this very day.”

    And David says:

    “May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
    May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.”

    Obviously Paul believed that some within Israel had faith but others “were hardened.” It’s a solid bet that’s a reference to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus, where again God had clearly demonstrated his authority and power with multiple miracles yet Pharaoh still refused to submit. My argument and Paul’s here is not about believers, Sal. We are talking about why people reject the faith in spite of overwhelming evidence.

    Now it’s certainly possible that someone might accept design on the basis of argument without becoming a believer, such as Antony Flew, but the principle is the same in science as it is in religion. What exactly do you think Kuhn was saying anyway?

    The vast majority of people who actually do change their minds on important world view questions like this very rarely “argue” themselves to a new position. Usually what happens is they come to reject what they believed previously for emotional reasons, choose a new course, and rationalize it later. It’s called a conversion, and it happens in science just as often as in religion. It starts with a choice. Yes you can weaken an opponents position with rational argumentation, but it will only work insofar as the other side’s position is irrational such that their preferred conclusions disagree with their premises. If Darwinists are willing and able to accept that evidence of Nature leads us to doubt that logic and Reason prevail upon it, as Larry Krauss apparently does, or if they are willing to accept no ultimate meaning, rational foundation for ethics, etc., as Will Provine does, then there’s really nothing to be done. They will never be convinced no matter how clear we, the un-blinded (1 Cor 2:14), believe the evidence to be. These worldview questions are not about evidence. They are about the glasses one chooses to put on to look at the evidence. You can’t convert someone who refuses to make the choice to try a different world view to see how it works. Again this holds for science as well as religion.

    I used to believe like you Sal. But then I met real atheists. I even see this in Christians. Almost nobody I’ve ever known in my life changes their mind about something because of a rational argument from evidence. When confronted with something that seems to undermine their position, their first reaction is to come up with a rational counterargument, and people are very clever at this activity. The simple fact is you can’t prove anything, even in science, so people most of the time believe what they want and rationalize it later.

  20. David, if I understand you correctly, you wish to speak to Aristotle’s solution to infinite regress. Paraphrasing: “At some point it’s just so obvious that it’s absurd to claim otherwise.” But what I get from your characterization of Sal’s argument, and a great deal of your efforts here, is that you are speaking to Russell’s “Knowledge by acquaintance” and “Knowledge by description”.

    Or simply and respectively “experienced that” and “told that”.

    And to be sure that vast quantity of trivia that rolls about in our brainpan is of the “told that” sort. Even when we cannot recall who first “told us that…” for any given “that”. But is it ‘gullible’ to have ‘belief’ in anything we have not experienced?

    Sure, and there’s hardly any issue with it. It’s just as gullible to state that we believe some notion on the basis of a terrible few cases of experience as well. “The plural of anecdote is not data” and all that rot. And in either case it is correct to state that it is an epistemic issue. In some regard.

    But the topic at hand is not about epistemology but deontology. It’s not about answer ‘how’ or ‘why’ you can know, but what you ‘ought’ ‘believe’. But the notion of ‘ought’ ‘believe’ is meangingful only to Epistemological Terrorists and Metaphysical Narcissists.

    You ‘ought’ ‘believe’ whatever you wish to and whatever gets you through the day. If it is useful to you then that’s all the ‘ought’ that’s needed. This remains true even if you believe that Blu-ray discs are a pernicious myth of Hollyweird. If it proves a useful notion to you, then it hardly matters at all as to whether you are correct or incorrect.

    But for scientific endeavours we are interested not in the ‘ought’ but the ‘ought not’. For if Blu-ray discs can be empirically validated, to you, then you ‘ought not’ believe they are a myth. But if your prior belief is useful, and remains useful, then you ‘ought’ just go right ahead with it. And make no mistake that we do precisely that in the pedagogy of science all the time. What with the Bohr Model of the atom or Newtonian Physics. We’re certain that they are terribly false, but that they are still useful.

    But for any non-empirical portion of any notion there simply is no ‘ought’ beyond social status flags and what it could do to your income potential. But if someone asserts that you ‘ought’ ‘believe’ some non-empirical notion then simply ask them for their empirical demonstration of that same notion.

    Taking on a ‘belief’ in anything that you have not personally and exhaustively validated is, without question, a demonstration of gullibility; and so be it. But asserting that someone else ‘ought’ ‘believe’ what you were gullible enough to believe is to demand that the someone else is not merely gullible enough to ‘believe’ what you do, but gullible enough to ‘believe’ you and your ‘told that’ to them.

    But if ‘proper science’ is the proper gullibility applied to the ‘right’ people that we ‘ought’ believe and who give us ‘told that’ trivia then what is it that distinguishes and differentiates ‘religion’ from ‘science’?

    It’s all dickering over which Wise Men are the Wise Men to listen to. Those with a decalogue on stone, or those with the decalogue on sugar.

  21. 21

    The main difference between science and religion is that religion is forward reasoning and science is backwards reasoning. Religion takes first principles on faith and reasons to conclusions from those principles. Science takes observations of empirical phenomena on faith and reasons backwards to their ultimate causes or principles.

  22. @Sal
    &
    @David

    First, David, if you aren’t familiar with my comments. I believe the Bible, and the literal interpretation of Genesis creation. This is just to say, I now pressupose the Bible as true. But I use to put a lot of weight on evidence, but realized I ahd some pressupositions. I’m not sure that a 100% pure Biblical presupposition is possible unless it is perhaps divinely imputed.

    I’m sorry to say this, but people who boast “the Bible said it, therefore I believe it” makes them sound like they are supremely gullible. For those who hear such boasts, it can inspire more doubt than faith, and that is not a good thing, imho.

    Sal, I understand your point. I also understand David’s point.

    David might have missed that you said “makes them sound like they are” (not that they are actually “supremely gullible”). But I think his point is valid… even inspiring in some way.

    So, it appears that you (Sal) are more of an evidentialist and David is more of a presuppositionalist. Maybe, even with room for a mix in there(?).

    I’ve debated, some, over the years with myself the idea of these two as apologetics. And still have not come to a clear answer on which is “the” correct Biblical way. Reformed theology seems to argue that pressupositional apologetics is the only Biblical apologetic. Granted, I did not go deep into this. And another theology might say something else making more use of evidences. Eventually I started to come to a thought that maybe it is both. And that the effectiveness of each, as apologetic, varies between types of persons.

    Evidentialism and pressupositionalism are both useful apologetics.

    Evidentialism seemed to me to be quite promising at first. But notwithstanding the Biblical presupposition as superior (most consistent with our experience), the possibility of using other world views to interpret even some of the same evidence seemed a litle concerning. And I noted that we require some pressuppitions BEFORE we even persue evidentialist notions (e.g. laws of logic).

    hmmmm

    Pressuopositionalism seemed very promising then, but I could not quite feel comfortable thinking that to arrive at a pressupposed view of the world that I had to arrive their in some way! Was it divinely imputed? or Did God simply provide some means to arrive at this end point of having a presupposition? But if it’s a presupposition, how can we righly call it an endpoint? Assuming God used some means (other than divinely imputing one with a Biblical presumption), it seems it would require the use of some knowledge. And whether that involved physical or immaterial knowledge, that knowledge acted as evidence to arrive at the pressuppositional endpoint. That does seem contradictory.. What might I be missing here?

    We can even be able to point to the fact that we pressupose the laws of logic. But how did we ever pressupose them? Is that innate? Ifso, then is a Biblical pressuposition innate?

    Which comes first….really?

    Yikes!… Do either of you have any thoughts on this? I hope it was somewhat clear where I was coming from.

    One more idea: In Roman’s 1, It is pointed out that the heavens are evidence of God’s divine atributes? Yet, don’t we need to presume some things before we can divide this evidence from the unreasonble interpretations. Seems to support the use of evidences to some level…and some pressuopositions at another level. Anyway, would this be enough to justify the use of evidences to the ends of presupposing the Bible?

    So, can you see why it seems a bit of both to me?

    JGuy

  23. I suspect I’m representative of others within the Christian faith that are not usually very vocal with our doubts (since dissent and questioning aren’t exactly welcome in churches if you know what I mean).

    I used to know what that meant, but where I currently attend, we are most open to questions–from the senior pastor on down. We encourage questions from students and I encourage them from my own children. But I realize not all churches are this way.

    It may stem from the fact that most people simply are not “into” epistemology, and find it much easier to just accept things. But having done that, the statement at the center of this post (“The Bible says it…”) becomes a large part of their defense, which is then assailed from the outside particularly. (Of course, the posters here who claim the phrase can obviously go far beyond it when it comes to defending their beliefs.) IOW, for some it is the bulk of their apologetic, while for many here, it is only a quick summary.

  24. I presuppose the existence of a ghost that never lies. And it tells me the Bible is false. I hope that settles things.

  25. 25

    What is your epistemology EDTA? I guarantee you I can burn it down to its basic assumptions in five minutes flat. You can’t have a rational epistemology without basic assumptions. THAT’S circular reasoning.

    Let me guess: Your basic assumption is a molecule that binds metals?

    Starbuck: Nice, but everyone here knows you don’t believe that. In other words you’re pretending to hold a premise that you don’t actually hold. Try a real one and we can have a conversation.

  26. Starbuck states:

    I presuppose the existence of a ghost that never lies. And it tells me the Bible is false. I hope that settles things.

    And yet:

    Luke 24:37-39
    They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

    Notes:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy, and The Shroud Of Turin – updated video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Condensed notes on The Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15IGs-5nupAmTdE5V-_uPjz25ViXbQKi9-TyhnLpaC9U/edit

    Music:

    Empty (Empty Cross Empty Tomb) with Dan Haseltine Matt Hammitt (Music Inspired by The Story)
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=F22MCCNU

  27. Starbuck: Nice, but everyone here knows you don’t believe that. In other words you’re pretending to hold a premise that you don’t actually hold. Try a real one and we can have a conversation.

    That’s irrelevant. Hypotheticals evaluate logic, they are not premises to hold, they are just a way to put your argument in an environment to test it and see if it still holds. In this way, presuppositionalism can easily be reduced to absurdity.

  28. 28

    So you’re using an argument from absurdity? Last I checked that’s not a valid argument.

    Hypothetically speaking, I would say that you’re free to believe what you want. But I’d point out various things you believe that are inconsistent with your first principle. Since of course you don’t actually believe that, this exercise is impossible to perform.

  29. 29

    Rather I should have said that an argument from absurdity doesn’t apply to my argument when you’re the one making an argument. lol.

  30. St-B: It seems we are back in a worldviews mode in the blog. We cannot plant worldviews successfully on any arbitrary foundation, that gets into question begging, factual inadequacy, incoherence and want of explanatory power. Cf the role of self evident truths here. KF

  31. Starbuck:

    Hypotheticals evaluate logic, they are not premises to hold, they are just a way to put your argument in an environment to test it and see if it still holds. In this way, presuppositionalism can easily be reduced to absurdity.

    Tragic mishap:
    So you’re using an argument from absurdity? Last I checked that’s not a valid argument.

    We call such things “proof by contradiction”. See:

    Proof by Contradiction

    It is a valid method of logical reasoning. Many disciplines of mathematics would not exist were it not for this logical method, and by way of extension, since physics depends on math, nether would many fields of physics.

    Starbuck poses a good argument to demonstrate the absurdity of circular reasoning:

    I presuppose the existence of a ghost that never lies. And it tells me the Bible is false. I hope that settles things.

    Perhaps a better way to state the argument that I really have problems with:

    The Bible says it, therefore I believe the Bible

    Of course, no one actully states it that explicitly, but lots of YECism effectively amounts to this, and thus, to even sympathetic creationists like myself, such claims sound absurd and sounds like the sort of things that gullible people with no evidence to back their claims would say. This does not honor Creationism nor the Christian faith, imho.

    Lots of things (like Eternal life and forgiveness of sins) we can only accept on faith. But if everything is accepted on faith in the complete absence of reality, what good is that faith? We might as well believe we have Trillion Dollars in our bank accounts just because we want to.

  32. 32

    You’ll notice scordova that I immediately retracted that statement. From the outset I took the position that there may very well be multiple competing points of view that are all rational, meaning internally consistent. The problem with the “ghost” is that it is not a real position and therefore its internal consistency cannot be evaluated. Even if it could, it’s not worth the effort.

    And if YECs really didn’t care about reality in the manner you suggest they wouldn’t be doing science at all. YECs are looking for consistency between the Bible and observations, but if other scientists take not the Bible but certain scientific theories to be their first principle, then there’s a vast potential for disagreement that has nothing whatsoever to do with empirical observations since the disagreement itself is based on principles and not on evidence.

    You don’t really believe that a single piece of evidence has only one possible rational explanation do you? It’s equally rational for me to believe that the penny on my desk got there because I put it there or because my brother put it there when he visited. There are some questions empirical evidence cannot answer. These are called the limits of science. Do these limits not exist in your world?

  33. Sals reasoning is flawless as told by the author, “Sal appears to believe that his own reasonings and perhaps empirical tests can prove or disprove statements in the Bible.” It most certainly can, and MUST, otherwise we couldn’t hope to choose between “inspired” texts.

    This logic also applies to theological statements in the bible. Does the bible say Jesus is God…or does it say he is not? I happen to believe the bible says he is not. Why? Because I used my reasoning and logic to come to the conclusion and not because I accepted what the bible had to say. The point is that there are two views on a specific statement, and therefore reason, logic, and test-ability, are the only methods we have for searching for the truth.

  34. 34

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

    In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. (John 1:1)

    Certainly science has nothing to say about either of these. The first statement can arguably be arrived at philosophically, but not the second. It must be accepted as reliable testimony, once one has come to trust the reliability of scripture.

  35. I agree with your last statement but not as it applies to the bible. And Genesis 1:1 can certainly be a testable thesis. If God created the earth, what would we expect to find? This is the very premise of ID. Positive arguments for design based on fruitful predictions. And that statement in genesis better be testable since it provides Christians with the very reason why God deserve glory!

    As for the second statement, logic is the means by which we understand and read the bible and therefore we can use it to understand that scripture. In the beginning was the word..(got it)..the word was with God (Jesus was with God)…and the word was God…(wait what?) How can someone be with God and be God at the same time. It defies logic, so it most likely is not true or there is a different explanation. Logic is what helps us to understand Jesus and the bible. You can not accept that which you don’t truly understand. Not to say that everything about God is understandable but I hope you understand my point.

  36. Starbuck,

    I presuppose the existence of a ghost that never lies. And it tells me the Bible is false. I hope that settles things.

    Me, too. But my ghost tells me you and your family are evil.
    Why, only last night he said,

    Starbuck and his kin are abominations. Now, kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

    He said it, so I believe it.

    Sorry for any inconvenience!

  37. 37

    ForJah,

    I understand your point but do not really agree.

    How would one go about developing the scientific methodology to establish that a personal being created the heavens and the earth as a singular event at some point in unobservable history? And what would science have to say about the properties of such a being?

    I will agree that ID methodology allows us to suppose that such a being is more likely than not (a best explanation) by probabilistic and abductive reasoning; but philosophy, not science, is how we begin to understand the necessary properties/capabilities of such a being. ID ceases appropriately at the design inference (a material effect) but does not trespass on implication.

    With regard to the Trinity, there is no logical contradiction that I can see. Scripture suggests that God is an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal being who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If this can be refuted scientifically or logically, nobody has demonstrated how.

    Jesus said,
    “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)

    That’s certainly a proposition about what is true, but again it’s testimony that must be accepted or rejected. It can be neither established or refuted by scientific methodology. It violates no logical principles – and neither does “light is both a particle and a wave.”

  38. 38

    “Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you will be like him yourself.
    Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
    (Proverbs 26:4-5)

    The above are contradictory statements. However there are different implications that can be inferred:

    1) The author is ignorant.
    2) The author is illogical.
    3) The author changed his mind.
    4) The two statements can be harmonized if it’s presumed that 1, 2, and 3 are false.

    Forgive the analogy, but choosing #4 might just require a supposition of inerrancy. That’s not to say that the inerrancy belief has no supporting arguments, just that one must presuppose it for #4 to make the most sense.

  39. Chance…you are using reason and logic to come to your answer. Even though they disagree with mine. Therefore, you are using something outside of the bible to determine what is true. I saw something in these comments about final authority. The final authority is really your own thought processes.

    Also, I don’t know how you could think someone being with someone and being that same person makes any logical sense, as well as saying Jesus is God, The Father is God, and the holy spirit is God but they aren’t three God’s but one God. That is illogical. Many trinitarians will even admit this, that is why the trinity is labeled as “a mystery”.

    That quote from John 10:30 should be understood in the context of the scripture that proceed it such as John 17:21, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”(KJV) Therefore when Jesus said the Father and I are one…he wasn’t talking about their nature but their unity in will. It’s easily understood by saying the USA Olympic team are one together. One powerful representation of our country. Here again we find reason playing a part in our understanding of what scripture says. “The bible says it, therefore I believe it” this is a no brainer statement…but only if the bible says “IT”. But “IT” is arrived at through logic, reason, and sometimes the scientific method and therefore has final authority.

  40. 40

    ForJah, I agree that one cannot reason without logic. My point is that logic does not refute those statements (and science cannot) not that logic isn’t involved. Science relies on logical principles, just as any sort of reasoning does – but it hasn’t the ability to establish or refute logic, it must take it for granted. Science also does not have the ability to establish or refute the existence of God. We posit God to explain why science explains anything at all, but I reject that science can tell us that God does not exist, or that he does. Of course some of this turns on how one defines science.

    Are you including formal logic within the purview of science? It’s one thing to say that science relies on logic, it’s another to say that logic is scientific. So I’m not entirely sure where you’re coming from here.

    When Christians make the Bible as the primary authority on their world view, they are of course using reasoning to make that judgment. However reason is not the world view itself. Whether one accepts or rejects one Biblical tenet or another, one is reasoning. Whether one accepts or rejects reason, they are using reasoning to try and arrive at their conclusion.

    So in essence we have to presuppose logic and reason, whether or not we agree on what is true. You do not have the advantage because you put reason above the Bible – we both must presuppose it and use it, just as we must presuppose that we both exist, and we must presuppose objective truth, whether we confess to it or not. ;-)

  41. ’2. they believed only after seeing someone raised from the dead’

    And bear in mind that that conviction did not convert the religious authorities, but only made them more determined to kill Jesus and possibly Lazarus, since that miracle was having such a widespread, persuasive effect. So, without either a fear of God, or a love of God, a person will rather do whatever he can to discredit the evidence or proof.

    I don’t see scripture as a science text, although it may well be one, if I had the capacity to discern it. But the point is that the Bible is God speaking to the individual reader, directly. And I don’t believe that that is his purpose when he uses scripture to speak to us.

    He’s just not interested. It’s all ‘old hat’ to Him. It’s child’s play for Him to think matter. Indeed, there is every reason to believe tha,t in heaven, someone who was born a cretin will have AT LEAST the degree of access to an understanding of this physical universe and/or any others, as Einstein had or would have in heaven. Matter is no big deal, I’m afraid, but that would stand, even if it were; perhaps, even, particularly if it were.

  42. 42

    Axel,

    your comment full of matters of consideration. I keep surprised at count of theological speakers here. my notes multiply speedily! thank you.

    sergio

  43. 43

    all speakers,

    thanks to you also.

    sergio

  44. “In fact, it is Christ resurrection from the dead that is used as a basis of belief in the Christian faith, not strictly from listening to Moses and the prophets! So the passage you cite can be argued as a special case. You can insist you’re right, but not every believer accepts your interpretation.”

    That is not worthy of you, scordova. The word, ‘strictly’ that you use is a key-word, the-key word, in your post, but clearly Christ was basing himself on (though only he would have anticipated his Resurrection, at that point) the coherence and continuity of the witness to him, both of scripture and, here, ironically, of the ultimate, most seminal thaumaturgy.

    Your arguments re Moses and Sodom are casuistic, and I feel, eristic, since the five brothers were clearly intended by Christ to represent the generic rich. In fact, the point is a fairly constant refrain throughout scripture, (most pointedly, of course, in relation to Christ’s burial): references to the rich man, in apposition to the wicked man; to the poor man, in apposition to the true Israel, the virtuous man.

    The impression I have is that the egregiously high, analytical, worldly intelligence of the Jewish people is indicative of a sort of reiteration of the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden; always bearing in mind Paul’s words about the Jewish people and their heroic role in God’s providential economy – by a strange twist, they have been made rich for our sake! Sure, they have their rogues, but they, generally, nevertheless, seem to manage to combine their worldliness with a puzzlingly concomitant spirituality!

    They were the Christ-bearers, his conception, in a sense, beginning with Abraham and his divine commission. Without the Jews, there would have been no Christ or Christianity (barring another plan on God’s part), without Judaism, no Christian scripture.

    Of course, everyone is free to interpret everything however they choose, but that is scarcely an insightful remark, is it? You’re treading dangerously close to ‘multiversifying’.

  45. “That’s certainly a proposition about what is true, but again it’s testimony that must be accepted or rejected. It can be neither established or refuted by scientific methodology. It violates no logical principles – and neither does “light is both a particle and a wave.”

    ‘Violates no logical principles’, Chance? What are you talking about? They are paradoxes, or as we, believers, quaintly put it: ‘mysteries’. Not ‘counter-intuitive’, but ‘counter-rational’. Max Planck and Niels Bohr ‘had a handle on’ it. Why haven’t you, after almost a century?

  46. Christ was basing himself on (though only he would have anticipated his Resurrection, at that point) the coherence and continuity of the witness to him,

    The Law as and prophets are based on Christ, not the other way around.

    The five brothers appear to be exactly like the Pharisees that:

    1. saw Jesus miracles
    2. saw Lazarus raised from the dead (ironic isn’t it that the 5 brothers were brothers of someone by the same name “Lazarus”)
    3. had evidence of Christ’s resurrection

    The 5-brothers certainly were not the picture of the people that actually believed in John 11 after seeing Lazarus raised from the dead, nor the Gentiles who believed that may not have known of Jewish prophets and Moses, much less listened to them! The 5-brothers were picture of the special case of those that didn’t listen to moses, the prophets, nor Christ even after seing Lazarus raised from the dead. By they way, since the 5-brothers were a parable, doesn’t it strike you as ironic, that the name of the person wanting to be raised from the dead was also named LAZARUS!

    It wasn’t meant to describe everyone, since, not everyone who believed may have necessarily listened to Moses and the prophets (i.e. the Gentiles in Paul’s day). So, it is a wrong application of 5-brothers to argue in favor of this sort of circular reasoning:

    I believe the bible, becuase the Bible says so

    To believe in Christ without belief in Moses and the prophets (or having even heard of them) is certainly possible as suggested in Scripture itself (where Gentiles came to faith because of the witness of Christ’s apostles).

    The relevance of this discussion to ID is that, it would seem for some, that the Bible itself may not be sufficient witness itself for some to believe in Christ. The words in the Gospel are a necessary, but perhaps not sufficient reason to believe in Christ. Christ himself acknowledged this in John 10:38.

  47. Starbuck and his kin are abominations. Now, kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

    No not my donkey!

  48. 48

    ‘Violates no logical principles’, Chance? What are you talking about? They are paradoxes, or as we, believers, quaintly put it: ‘mysteries’. Not ‘counter-intuitive’, but ‘counter-rational’. Max Planck and Niels Bohr ‘had a handle on’ it. Why haven’t you, after almost a century?

    Axel, I’ll take false dichotomies for $100. I mean, if I’m forced to choose between faith and reality that is. Hehe. :D

  49. “The Law as and prophets are based on Christ, not the other way around.”

    …. in what he was saying, scordova! Based himself in what he was saying, on the Law and the Prophets, was adverting to them as prophetically witnessing to him. This was personified on Mt Tabor at Christ’s transfiguration, by the appearance of Moses and Elijah, to converse with him about his impending death.

    “The relevance of this discussion to ID is that, it would seem for some, that the Bible itself may not be sufficient witness itself for some to believe in Christ. The words in the Gospel are a necessary, but perhaps not sufficient reason to believe in Christ. Christ himself acknowledged this in John 10:38.”

    Are people really arguing that? I don’t think so. I think bornagain is saying that if faith were simply a matter of evidence, there is enough material in the Bible to compel belief. But we know that not only is the analytical intelligence, on its own, inapt for the study of matters spiritual, but we ultimately believe what we want to believe in the abstruse context of our world-view; only philosophical voluntarism makes sense of Christ’s preaching, and indeed morality. For example, the idea of meeting Mengele in heaven on the basis of his having a high academic, worldly intelligence, is of course, hideously repugnant, indeed, nonsensical.

    With our Judaeo-Christian premises, all knowledge is coherent, even though only God will understand all. Everything is capable of being understood on one level or another – even if it’s understood by us only as a mystery that is completely opaque to the analytical intelligence, fathomable only by God. An extremely rational belief in what the members of the secular magic-cult seek to pillory as the God of the gaps. Although the hapless mutts use the paradoxes of quantum and astro-physics every day to further their career, pretending that they are only counter-intuitive, not counter-rational!

    The references to the same name, Lazarus, are not ironical. Is it not simply a matter of Christ’s prescience of what was to come? Precisely the thing I have been trying to convey to you; he was adverting to both past and present. He was, of course, the great, the ultimate Prophet, who was to come. Why would he not?

  50. Nice of you to say so, Sergio. I’m sure I’m speak for the others, too.

  51. ‘Axel, I’ll take false dichotomies for $100. I mean, if I’m forced to choose between faith and reality that is. Hehe. :D’

    You’re beyond help, Chancey! But the odds bookies lay would on certainties would be very long odds on – something to the tune of the multiverse! And I’m not into betting even a Brazillion Monopoly pounds to win a real sixpence.

  52. ‘To believe in Christ without belief in Moses and the prophets (or having even heard of them) is certainly possible as suggested in Scripture itself (where Gentiles came to faith because of the witness of Christ’s apostles).’

    But Christ wasn’t preaching to the gentiles, scordova; he was speaking to people who were members of a strict theocratic society who would have been familiar with Moses and the Prophets. Do you think that we are not to extrapolate the point of his parable, because of that?

    You seem to have a pedantic mind (an asset in science, generally, I expect), which makes you miss the wood for the trees. Don’t get hung up on details, when the tale is meant to be metaphorical.

  53. I’ve often referred to the way in which the the term, ‘the rich man’ is used in scripture in apposition to ‘the wicked man’, and the ‘poor man’ with the true Israel, the virtuous man.

    However, I should surely add that we cannot avoid generalisations if we are to make any sense of the world, and in heaven, the rich people who enter there will be ‘other Christs’, ‘only begottens of the Father’, just the same as everybody else, so I’m not suggesting that God wants us to revile all rich people here on earth, never mind in heaven. Christ was making a generalised analysis of human behaviour in terms of the relative faith of rich and poor – as James was to indicate in his Epistle, i.e. that the poor (generally-speaking) are rich in faith. ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart is.’

  54. What is your epistemology EDTA? I guarantee you I can burn it down to its basic assumptions in five minutes flat.

    I have no doubt you could uncover my basic assumptions quickly. I’m not a professional philosopher, but I start with a few things I cannot argue against: an external reality, the fact that logic applies to reality, an ability to (imperfectly) know and reason. Toss any of those out, and you might as well not think at all. In terms of apologetics, I’m an evidentialist, but I can’t argue against all of presuppositionalism.

  55. Meh. We Christians actually have Extraordinary Evidence available, of which too many of us remain ignorant.

    The trouble with sense-knowledge based arguments [a.k.a. philosophical arguments], however, as the sole category of witnesses to the truth is that they don’t go far enough to be fully satisfying to the believer in the long run. As indicated by the fact that God Himself has provided an ongoing witness that is far greater.

    Salvation is a subjective spiritual transaction between the Holy Spirit and the individual who receives Christ.[6] But to hear a lot of Christians talk, you would almost think that it is the sole transaction that ever occurs. Which can only mean that they remain uninstructed from God’s Word about the objective spiritual transactions between the Holy Spirit and the believer. Transactions which are evidence that, from the moment of salvation forward, represents a day-by-day and moment-by-moment witness of God the Father’s presence and power in us through Christ Jesus.

  56. “…. an external reality”, EDTA?

    Since quantum physics seems to have passed you by, you should read this little digest by a Moslem:

    http://www.harunyahya.com/en/w.....aterialism

  57. Some interesting names in the bibliography…

  58. ForJah: Does the bible say Jesus is God… or does it say he is not?

    This ignores the excluded middle. The Bible uses the term “God” with a range of meaning, and the term could be used for Jesus in some senses but not necessarily all. For example: is my hand a human or not? In one sense it is, in another it isn’t. However, both senses are related.

  59. Jesus was asked that question, and it was clear from his answer that he disdained to spell it out for his questioners, since his works should have made it abundantly clear that he was God.

    His response was similar in tone, to his stricture that it was a faithless generation that asked for a sign.

    Sorry, I can’t quote chapter and verse, as it’s difficult to identify a likely key-word for a concordance search.

  60. For whatever reason — perhaps due to illness, or perhaps due to ceasing to monitor comments on his own column (less than 24 hours after it was posted!) and therefore not noticing my comment — David Anderson has not replied to my criticism in 16 above. I simply state for the record that my challenge to some of his points has gone unanswered.

  61. “It would be better if Mr. Anderson said “As a Protestant” instead of trying to speak for all Christians.” – Timaeus

    And it would be better if Mr. Timaeus said “As an IDM-ID proponent” instead of trying to speak for all ‘ID people’.”

    But that concession is not likely soon to come. Timaeus frankly and unabashedly assumes (even presumes!) he is speaking for ‘all ID people.’ Just as perhaps David Anderson assumes that ‘Protestant’ is equal to ‘Christians’ from his perspective, of which I am less certain.

  62. If Gregory wants to make himself more useful, he could — instead of following me virtually everywhere, and posting comments against me on threads on which he has previously shown no interest, simply for the joy of publically contradicting me — post replies on threads where he has been addressed with a comment of substance — e.g., on the Bellah thread — and has not yet answered.

    As for the off-topic point raised, I would never claim to speak for “IDM-ID” — no one on the planet uses the locution “IDM-ID” except for Gregory.

  63. Mike when I ask the question…it’s obvious. Is Jesus God..or is he not. The meaning of the term God here is evident. Is Jesus the almighty God or is he a separate entity from God. The bible agrees with the latter.

    And Axel, Jesus performed such works to demonstrate he was the MESSIAH. Not that he was God. Thus why he is called the son of God throughout the bible. The messenger and representative of the almighty God. Quite evident from John 17:3 exactly what the bible teaches.

    I also didn’t come here to discuss Jesus as God ideas. I am merely saying that the bible is SO ambiguous in it’s text that you have to have evidence to first back up what scripture says before you can say, “the bible says it, therefore I believe it”

  64. Timaeus could make himself more useful by publishing his support of ID in peer-reviewed academic journals. But he doesn’t have the professional courage or insight to do this. Timaeus claims to speak on behalf of ‘ID people’ – this is documented more than 70 times in just one thread. Now he’s telling us he doesn’t do this! Is this a joke?

  65. 65

    #64

    Give it a rest, cowboy. Really.

  66. Thanks, U. B.

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