Re: Something must change

Glenn R. Morton (
Sun, 23 Aug 1998 21:33:26 -0500

At 09:34 PM 8/23/98 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
>Glenn R. Morton wrote:

>> Well, my atheist friends would say the same thing about Jehovah.
> Of course! They're atheists, for heaven's sake!
> "If you do not believe, you will not be established."
> The idea that people are to be brought to faith by first
> proving the truth of the Bible is a venerable one but highly
> questionable.

No, they are not brought to faith via proof, but they do leave and many of
my atheist freinds used to be believers of all theological stripes. Now
they don't believe because they didn't see a way the Bible could be true.
An example:

"Around 1984 I began using a Phoenix computer bulletin board system called
Apollo (...), which had a number of active atheists on it. At first I did
not contribute a lot to the ongoing discussions, but eventually I became
one of the most outspoken people on the BBs. Watching some of the
Christian-versus-atheist arguments moved me further away from Christianity.
Although I initially defended Christianity, I found that its opponents
generally had the better arguments." ~ Jim Lippard, "Jim Lippard: From
Fundamentalism to Open-ended Atheism," in Edward T. Babinski, Leaving the
Fold, (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1995), p. 321

Jim reviewed my books and I count him as a friend. But he no longer believes.

>> And remember this, if naturalistic evolution is true, there was no Adam and
>> Eve. By this I mean that there was never a time in which there were only 2
>> persons on earth. The first humans were a population, not two individuals.
>> So, the genealogy in Luke is totally erroneous when it claims to trace the
>> genealogy back to a man, Adam, who was not the son of God as Luke says.
> No. You use phrases like "totally erroneous" because you
> are unwilling to consider the possibility that statements other than
> those about historical occurences are real. This is our basic dis-
> agreement, & I think you're basically wrong.
> The point I made was that such a genealogy can convey truth
> about human relationships even if not a literal record of genetic
> relationships. If someone believes in a literal Adam & Eve & I want
> to talk to them about the full humanity of Jesus, I can do it in terms
> of Adam & Eve. I don't have to say, "I want to talk to you about Jesus,
> but first I've got to teach you about evolution." That can come later
> if & when their faith is more mature.

This whole Idea that the Bible can be true without any objective truth
leads me to the conclusion that the Koran can be true (and indeed there is
much truth in it) and the Bhagavadgita can be true all at the same time,
Shinto can be true, the bearcults of the Siberian forests can be true.
Thus the Bible is equivalent to all other non-propositional but true
religions. Since they all teach truth we can chose the one we want to
beleive. Why would a person looking at all the different religions chose

> When you get to the point of telling God how he has to reveal
> himself and his relationship with us, I think you should contemplate
> I Cor.1:18-25.

I don't think God should deceive and then

>> Here is the root of our differences. Only propositions convey objective,
>> verifiable truth.
> Of course there is a difference between propositions which relate
> two observable entities or sets of events and statements that don't.
> But you're going to be very constrained if the kind of truth conveyed by
> propositions is the only kind you'll consider.

Since we are repeating ourselves this will be my last post on this and you
can have the last word. The statement

"Shem begat Arpaxad" is a propositional statement that was at one time
verifiable. And the entire flood account has propositional statments that
can be verified. Unfortunately most geologists have concluded that they
have been falsified.

As far as human beings are
> concerned, the statement "Jesus is Lord" is verifiable by believing it &
> verifiable eschatologically, but hardly "verfifiable" in the sense that
> statements about geological strata are.

But the flood IS verifiable or falsifiable through geology. and when the
Mesopotamian flood is falsified you seem to still say it contains truth.
I can't see that.

> & note: If you are going to argue
> a. the Bible is true &
> b the only kind of "truth" is that of verifiable historical
> or scientific propositions,
> then you have to conclude
> c. that everything in the Bible - not only the Good Samaritan
> but the statement that the Lord is my shepherd & leads me
> beside the still waters - is true in that sense.

That is totally a non-sequitur. I don't have to conclude that God is a
chicken because we rest under his wing; I don't have to conclude that there
were literally 10 virgins in Mathew 25. But the flood is certainly
different and so are the genealogies. They are propositional not metaphorical.

> So again, stop being coy. If that's what you believe, say so.

Several times I have said that isn't so. You aren't listening.

> If not, you should try to be sympathetic to the idea that truth is
> conveyed in other ways.

But just because some places convey a message without being propositional
in nature, it doesn't mean as you seem to require that everything is
NONPROPOSITIONAL and thus when science falsifies some statement, we can
retreat into non-propositional truth.

>> But there is a big difference between Homer, and Tolkein. They make no
>> demands that I behave in a particular way.
> So? This has nothing at all to do with the question
> of whether or not Homer or Tolkein convey some truth.

So does the Koran. Is the Koran true? Should we be Muslims? Should we
try to convert muslims? If all it takes to be true is to convey some
subjectively received truth, then we can't say the Islam is a false religion.

> Again, you write a great deal without answering the question.
> Do you think it happened? Not woulda, coulda, shoulda - did it happen?
> Were the great majority of animals in Nineveh clothed in sackcloth &
> commanded to cry mightily to God?
> (I recognize the dilemma. On your principles you must say
> yes or deny the truth of Scripture. But if you say yes you'll sound
> kind of strange. So it goes. P or not-P.)

I am not giving you a smoke screen. See below in my last message I
answered you. Jonah appears propositional. I believe that at least some
people engaged in that behavior. Can you prove that false? If you can, I
will believe the opposite.

>> Given some of the customs that I have read about in the past 3 years of
>> anthropological research, I really wouldn't be surprised if they really did
>> put sackcloth on their animals or at least were ordered to.
> Sure. After one of my parishoners told me we should teach our
> cats to use our toilet, I'm capable of believing many strange things.
> It's not that I don't believe that this _could_ happen. It
> wouldn't be a violation of the laws of nature. But when I read the
> whole story - of a type unique in the prophetic books - with
> a. the big fish (Sure, God _could_ have done it!)
> b. the city of Nineveh 3 days journey across (compared with
> the measured size today, ~ 8 miles around),

The word for city is: 5892. 'iyr, eer; or (in the plur.) 'ar, awr; or
'ayar (Judg. 10 : 4), aw-yar'; from H5782 a city (a place guarded by waking
or a watch) in the widest sense (even of a mere encampment or post):--Ai
[from marg.], city, court [from marg.], town.

if the existence of political control(guards) is the meaning of that word
then at 15 miles per day ancient Nineveh could indeed have been that big.
The word doesn't necessarily mean from the village wall to the village wall
as an encapment has no walls.

> c. the "king of Nineveh" (a title unknown to archaology)
> d. the massive conversion of the whole city (yeah, 90%)
> brought about by a minimal 5-word threat (& no, this
> just a summary of more extensive preaching. Remember
> Jonah doesn't _want_ the message to succeed)
> e. the animals being clothed in sackcloth & crying mightily
> to God,
> f. & the fact that the pagan "king of Nineveh" is a better
> theologian than Jonah,
> then I ask myself, "Is there a way this may be true besides being
> historical narrative. But that is a question you can't even ask because
> you would be denying the truth of Scripture thereby.

Two questions. Why don't you simply admit that the story is a pile of the
stuff left by cattle herds here in Texas instead of deciding it is really
true inspite of all the evidence to the contrary? Truth loses its meaning
when we find something to be false fctually so we decide that it has to be
true, really true. This is exactly what the young-earth creationists do.
They decide that their view of the Bible is true (e.g., there was a global
flood) inspite of all the evidence to the contrary.

Secondly, since you find it fanciful to believe that Ninevites put cloth on
their animals (certainly possible) and you find it difficult to believe
that the animals cried (my cat cries if I put anything on her head) and you
find it difficult to believe that a 5 word threat brought a
response(Spurgeon is reported to have said to an empty auditorium "Behold
the Lamb of God" and a workman was saved), and finally if you find it
difficult to believe that a fish swallowed a man, why would you find it so
easy to believe that a man rose from the dead after his brain has gone 3
days without oxygen? Which is harder to believe? There are such things as
miracles you know.

You have the last word. I have enjoyed it but it is time to cease boring
everyone hear.

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information