Re: Prove you ate breakfast this morning, John

John P. McKiness (
Fri, 12 Sep 1997 17:25:17 -0500


At 08:09 PM 9/10/97 -0500, you wrote:

>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
>an approximation.

George Murphy responded (Thu, 11 Sep 1997 08:46:32 -0400) to this and I
agree with him that this is still an approximation and it is an
approximation of something. To go to the ultimate truth of the something of
interest is beyond the ability of science and philosophy (human reason).
Our approximations may get better at making predictions but they will remain
approximations. (The situation of the modern and post-modern human is that
we now realize that even thought the approximation is successful most of the
time, we can never be sure it will be right the next time we apply it.) The
something out there that we will never arrive at by human means is God and
God activity. That can only be given to us by revelation and then

As to your point that even though it is an approximation of reality this
does not mean it is untrue or illogical, I believe science is logical but
whether it is true or not is irrelevant, it is either fruitful or it is not,
sometimes its predictions come to pass sometimes they don't (again it can
only approximate reality).

>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
>such religions?

I beg to differ. I am a relativist but to me everything is relative to
Jesus Christ. He is the one to judge whether a religion is false and it is
by Him and His revelation that all must be judged. God gives you the right
to believe whatever you want but He gives the Means of Grace also. I admit
that I have a problem with those who remain true to their faith even when it
does not acknowledge Jesus Christ, but I have to leave them to His
judgement, and I must pray for them and be a witness to Him (that is my
primary Christian duty).

>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'm not about to deal with miracles, I have seen too much confusion on what
constitutes a miracle and I know that my definition of miracle would just
open another can of worms here.

In my last post I said:
>>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.

Glenn replied:
>Even for people not prominent, you can find evidence that the culture was as
>described. That is supporting evidence; rational empirical evidence.

Notice what you have done here Glenn. First, you want me to make a
statement about the potential success of finding individuals
archaeologically, now you equate people with culture! I addressed the
problem of finding evidence of individuals above, now I'll address culture.

I have worked with archeologists and I understand how the discipline works.
Yes, we can find evidence of a culture but much of the archaeologist job is
interpretation of the evidence. The archaeological interpretations I have
been reading concerning David's kingdom, Jericho, and the Exodus is
certainly different than the Biblical accounts. Our archaeological
interpretations of Israel in Jesus time is also more in agreement with Roman
opinion (a dirty, little back water country that is more of a problem than
it is worth) than with that of the Jews (the close to the center of the
heart of God).

Our interpretations are colored by many factors, most of which have little
to do with ultimate truth.

Glenn continues:
>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.

I agree with you that Christ resurrection is part of the cornerstone of our
faith, in that it is part of Christ. I also do not doubt the sincerity of
your statement of nearly becoming an atheist (another faith statement by the
way) because of the irrational nature of the Flood in the light of human
reasoning. It is because of this that I continue. As long as you put such
a high value on human reason your faith will always be secondary and in
danger. I believe that you (and those who believe they can bridge the chasm
between faith and science) have taken the humanistic step of making
something human the final judge of all things. In other words, you are
saying that if I can not prove god's revelation I will have nothing to do
with the idea of him. This is part of the mentality that gets us in trouble.

John said previously:
>>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.

Glenn responded:
> 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.

I've been there and done that and disputing with them is a waste of time.
All we are told to do is witness and pray for them. I'll say it again, it
is the Spirits job to convert not mine, it is Christ who is both the
sacrifice for them and their judge so it is HIS job to get their attention
as it was to get the disciples of the past.

>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?

I believe that the Spirit must work through the Word, it is not my
interpretation of the Word that is important. Without the Spirit guiding us
in the Word, the Bible is reduced to poor literature and not worth the time
to read. It is God's seal on it and the Spirit working though it that makes
it God's revelation to us.

>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.

Is the Mormon interpretation of the verse wrong? Jesus did have other
sheep, unless you have Jewish anscestors, you are of that other fold as are
the Native Americans as are people on other planets if they exist. My
problems with Mormonism is centered on their explanation of who Jesus Christ
is (I believe it is in the _Pearl of Great Price_, not in the _Book of
Mormon_). To them Jesus is a son of God and someday us men will be in
heaven as equal sons of God (sorry ladies you most come in on your husband's
or father's coat tails, unless there has been another vision I haven't heard
about). This does not agree with Jesus testimony of Himself in the Bible.
This is one place among several I differ with them.

I said in my last post:
>>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.

Glenn replied
>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 can't, but whatever I did this morning, I remember enjoying it. :-)

>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 would agree that Thomas' behavior before seeing Jesus was reasonable, but
that behavior may not be reasonable now in that we appear to have to rely on
the witness of the apostles and the evidence God gives us through the eyes
of faith in Christ.

>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,

For the people Paul was writing to they could go to some He appeared to
(they would still have to have faith in the witnesses) but we cannot, so
what is the value of that statement to us.

>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.

It sounds to me as though I have to accept by faith the statements of
someone else, this is not an "appeal to observational evidence." Remember
those who did not accept Paul as a valid witness to Jesus Christ didn't
believe him but instead believed he was leading people away from Yahweh. In
fact Paul himself needed to be knocked off his horse (and reason) to get the
message of Christ.

Glenn, you said
> Maybe some other religion IS true and MAYBE I should be doing a survey.

Maybe you should but do it with prayer.

>I can view the reported behavior of people like Thomas as evidence. Yes it
>is faith, but it is not totally devoid of reason.

The Lutheran in me wants to scream, but I won't. Have a good night (or day).


John P. McKiness
P.O. Box 5666
Coralville, Iowa 52241 (319) 338-5605