At 10:08 PM 9/8/97 -0500, John P. McKiness wrote of the earth on the
elephant on the back of the turtle:
>There is God's truth which comes via
>revelation from Him and knowledge which comes via human thought (including
>the processes of observation and interpretation). Human thought can only
>produce an approximation of "reality."
>I have a problem with the idea that we can mix the two "knowledges" and that
>is why I accept the dichotomy. I find the question you ask to be
>inappropriate since by faith I must accept (under the system you described)
>that no matter what astronomers say the Earth we live on rests on the back
>of the elephant since God revealed that knowledge. As a scientist however I
>rely on my training and observational skills to conclude that since I cannot
>see or measure the elephant or its effect on the cosmos, it cannot enter
>into my equations of the motion of the Earth in the cosmos.
While humans can only produce an approximation of reality, that still does
not mean it is untrue or illogical. General Relativity, is the most
confirmed theory around. It is now out to greater than 21 decimals on some
of its predictions. I am beginning to think that it this does not represent
Your epistemology opens the door for anyone to believe anything. In other
words NO religion is false. A religion can say the most absurd things and
get away with it. I could start a religion which believes that little people
live at the core of the earth and at the same time believe that nothing
could live there. this is a logical contradiciton. But because of the
dichotomy, it could be perceived of as true by an adherent. What use are
> As a scientist I cannot make statements about God or His activity because I
>do not have the means to observe Him. As a Christian it is inappropriate
>for me to make science statements based on my faith. This is the dichotomy
>we must live with and enforce.
As a scientist we do have the means to observe some of the things. A miracle
healing is possible to document IF the patient was examined prior to the
>I feel it is useless to search for evidence of individuals archaeologically,
>unless they are significant people in their culture who would leave a trail
>of evidence, such as David and Solomon. People like Daniel maybe, if they
>were significant enough figures in the society they lived in, but how could
>we tell that we found the right Daniel -- he may have had a common name in
>the royal court. Abraham and Jesus on the other hand -- I have no
>archeological hopes. Paul I believe could be found but I do not see the
>need to look of any of the above.
Even for people not prominent, you can find evidence that the culture was as
described. That is supporting evidence; rational empirical evidence.
>Remember the book _Skeleton in God's Closet_, do you really want evidence
>for Jesus? what would you do with it if you didn't like the rational
>implications it engenders?
I would follow the evidence whereever it lead. Look, if I nearly became an
atheist because I couldn't find a rational account for the Flood, have no
doubt that if Jesus' bones are in a closet somewhere, I would walk from
Christianity. That is absolutely the cornerstone of our faith.
>>Does this mean that if there was no evidence of the ancient Hebrews, no
>>evidence of Egypt, no evidence of Jerusalem, no evidence of Romans, no
>>evidence that any of the events in scripture, that you would still believe?
>>If you answer yes then I want to know why don't you believe the book of
>>Mormon which equally has no evidence but attests to a ministry of Jesus on
>>this continent? It seems to me that the eyes of millions of Mormons see
>>much more than we do via the eyes of faith.
>If I had been brought up Mormon, the Spirit of God would have to convert me
>to the truth or I would be lost. As a Christian, the Mormons understanding
>of Christ is not consistent with the Bible, so if the Mormons are right I
>pray that God will reveal my error.
I have had Mormons say exactly the same thing to me only reversed. They
claim that the Spirit of God speaks to them of the truth of their Book. By
your standard you can't dispute with them.
Secondly and maybe more importantly, you are not living by what you say.
You read the Bible. In doing so you receive observational/sensory data of
the words on the page. You are now using that data as evidence that the
Mormons are incorrect. Why would you use sensory data of what the words on
the pages of the Bible say but not use sensory data to verify some of the
events discussed therein?
The Mormons cite a verse in which Jesus says, 'I have sheep that are not of
this fold.' I forget where it is. How do you know the Mormon interpretation
of the verse is wrong? They have faith that that verse opens the door for
the Book of Mormon. By your epistemology I would suggest that the only
thing keeping you from Mormonism is your faith that that is not what the
verse means. The lack of historicity to the book, the provinence of the book
would not matter to you.
>I agree with Paul, if Christ was not raised we ARE DEAD with NO HOPE.
Good. We agree here. But that was a historical event.
>The idea that verification could be proved "if we had been there" is just as
>silly as the idea expressed by some that there is value in the idea that the
>original documents of the Bible were without error. It doesn't do us any
>good today. We must have faith in the revelation passed down to us today.
By this solipsistic standard, you can't prove you had breakfast this
morning. The poptart wrapper? Doesn't mean you ate the pop tart. Food in
your stomach? Doesn't mean it was put there at breakfast. Your wife saw you
eat it? One must believe what she "passes down" to me now. Why should I do
that? Prove you ate breakfast, John.
I Agree that we must have faith in what was passed down. But we can look at
the behavior of those doing the passing to see if we think they are
trustworthy and worthy of being believed. Was Thomas' behavior what is to
be expected under the circumstances? Yes.
I can also look at the claims made by the early apostles of the
verifiability of the resurrection. Paul writes:
"After that, he[Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at
the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen
asleep." I Cor 15:6 This is an appeal to the reader to check it out. IOW,
John in 1 John 1:1 says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have
heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our
hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life."
These are all appeals to observational evidence.
>>Would you suggest that the simple message of Christianity (it is only
>>the belief in Christ which counts in the end for each of us) was highjacked
>>and perverted by Paul? Paul seems to indicate that the resurrection is very
>>crucial. In fact he seems to indicate that it must have actually happened!
>>i.e. it was historical.
>Think about this if the resurrection was a fabrication, there is no
>salvation. So what. [Like those of us who had ocean station duty (30-50
>days in one spot of the ocean -- only the weather and time of day change the
>scenery) in the Coast Guard during the early 70's would say when told that
>we had bad attitudes "So what, are you going to put me on a 'big white one
>(coasty slang for a U.S. Coast Guard ship) and send me to sea?" In the case
>of the resurrection, if it is not true we go where we would go anyway, to
>hell, oblivion, recycled, whatever. But if it is true . . .
I can think of a big so what. Maybe some other religion IS true and MAYBE I
should be doing a survey.
>>One could also look at it that the resurrection IS the rational evidence for
>>the Divinity of Christ.
>But Glenn, that is true only if you have faith that the resurrection occurred!
I can view the reported behavior of people like Thomas as evidence. Yes it
is faith, but it is not totally devoid of reason.
Foundation, Fall and Flood