> -----Original Message-----
> From: george murphy [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Saturday, November 04, 2000 1:59 PM
> Refutation of a statement about "everything in the OT"
> doesn't require a
> listing of "everything verifiable" but only of one thing. My
> point was your
> hyperbolic language which you did nothing to
Are you intentionally trying hard to misunderstand what I was doing? It
isn't that hard, George, unless you want to misunderstand it. And I laid it
out step by step. I didn't say that everything in the OT was wrong, Nor did
I say that one could or couldn't refute that statement, in fact I think it
is entirely refutable. What I am trying to get at is that we beleive the
Bible, OT, Genesis, NT any part of it because we believe it to be true. And
if it weren't we wouldn't believe it. How are you going to misunderstand
that in your next note?
> But rather than continue on that - do you think that
> "everything" in the
> OT is "verifiable" or
> "objectively true" in your sense? If not, then your argument
> turns on you.
NO, it doesn't. If everything that is subject to verification can't be
verified, then we have a problem and that is what you misunderstand.
> Does 1% justify throwing the whole thing away?
Depends upon what 1% is false! I would contend that if the resurrection is
that 1%, then we should throw it away. Or would you then say that it is to
be believed metaphorically in some other kind of truth? If God didn't create
the world, then I think that 1% means that we should throw it away. I want
to worship the REAL creator, not a fictional character made up by men. If it
was really Krishna that created the world, I would suggest that it is he
that we should worship. And then comes the question as to how to determine
if it was Krishna or Jehovah. That is what objective data is about.
I don't just as that as
> rhetoric. In our past debates you seem insistent that everything
> in the Bible
> which _can_ be seen as historical narrative _must_ be that kind
> of account.
You have constantly misunderstood me. Of course those accounts that are
subject to verification don't have to be historical narratives and they
don't have to be historically true. But if they aren't historically true,
then they are false. I won't worship a false god. And I won't worship one
that I make out to be true regardless of what the data says.
> & again I have to repeat, I believe that important parts
> of the Bible
> are historical narrative and that the biblical story is firmly
> linked to the
> real world. But the important theological statements of
> Christianity involve interpretation of historical events and thus
> cannot be
> verified simply by historical study. The theological claim that
> creation is
> good (as below) can't be verified as might a claim about
> historical events. The
> claim that Jesus died for our sins is a different type of
> statement from the
> claim that Jesus was crucified near Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate.
And of course this is your caricature of me--constantly repeating the canard
that I believe that value statements can be verified. I have never said
that, you know it and continue to repeat it.
> Of course that is obvious. But a person who argues as
> you do could
> accept all the "verifiable" statements in the Bible about the flood,
> crucifixion, &c but deny the truth of all the theological ones
> saying, "BY WHOSE STANDARD?"
Theological truths unfortunately are so subjective as to be useless as
determinants of what faith is true. If you don't believe that consider all
the various theological "truths" that split the Christian world. Such things
are: the transubstantiation of the elements of the Lord's supper, and the
nontransubstantiation. Then of course there is the ability to pray to saints
and the lack of ability to pray to saints. Some believe it is wrong to use
makeup and other say it is ok. Some say it is a sin to drink alcohol and
others say it is right to drink alcohol. And there are a bunch of
theological 'truths' on creation itself ranging from your view to those of
the YECs whom you say are terribly untheological. Of course they say the
same of you. Without objective data there is no way to tell which of your is
Yes, theological truths a multiple and self contradictory (except when one
individual claims that what he says is true and all others wrong--something
we all do including you and I)
> It also ought to be said that your insistence on biblical
> being "verifiable" doesn't really commit you to as much as you
> seem to think.
> E.g., your ingenious Mediteranean flood scenario is _in
> principle_ verifiable,
> but the possibility of actual verification in a sense which any
> historian would
> accept is exceedingly remote. So your position is pretty safe too.
Actually it wasn't as safe as you might think, at least when I suggested it.
My view requires that some form of human exist back to that point. If that
couldn't have been verified, then my view would have been false, George. I
wouldn't do as you do and change the definition of truth, and then say my
view is true in the face of contradictory evidence because it is a different
kind of truth.
I have cited much evidence in support of mankind going back as long ago as
2.5 million years ago. Have I totally demonstrated my case? Of course not.
But that doesn't mean it is safe. One could have had NO evidence of life
forms at all down there at the time of the infilling of the Mediterranean
and that too would have counted against my view. There is lots of evidence
for life in the dessicated basin in the form of spiders, insects, pine
cones, lagoonal fish etc. That is supportive but not proof. There is a
chance that something could be found and geologists are poking and prodding
strata around the edges of the basin which have subsequently been uplifted.
> Yes, & I said the same thing (even using a phrase about theology
> having been
> "badly burned by
> its encounters with the Copernican hypothesis and Darwinian
> evolution" in an
> article in _Lutheran Forum_ in 1985. (But I did not go on, as Tipler does
> below, to proclaim that science can do everything. Of course his
> own theory has
> now crashed and burned.)
Yes, his theory has crashed and burned. But at least he took the risk of
testing his ideas against the harsh master of objective data. That takes
guts. I am letting mine be tested and indeed, I might be wrong. That is
the risk and that is the way it should be. If I am wrong, then so be it. You
won't let your views be so tested because at the first hint of a conflict
you make the Bible retreat to some different type of truth and thus avoid
the problem. But at least I am playing the game--those who make theology
safe by always making it say theological rather than objective things, are
not even on the playing field.
> To say that theology has to be concerned with real
> historical events and
> that it should be engaged with science, which I certainly
> believe, is a far cry
> from saying that everything in the Bible is historical narrative.
And once again, your repeated and repeatedly denied caricature of my. I have
never said that and you know it. It would be nice if you wouldn't use
hyperbolic arguments when you are so quick to condemn those you think are.
> I have referred before, & I think even sent you a
> copy, of the paper
> I gave at the 1999 ASA meeting. It's now been published in the
> most recent
> (Sept.2000) PSCF. I think it makes clear that my position is a
> bit different
> from your description of it.
I don't think it is so different. I see the statement:
"Similarly, we should not try to persuade people on grounds of common sense
that the fundamental level of reality is revealed in Christ crucified. We
should be explicit about the ways in which this claim runs counter to common
sense, and invite people to consider their lives and knowledge of the world
from this standpoint. This does not mean that we ask them to believe
something even though it is crazy much less because it is crazy. What we
should ask them is simply a 'willing suspension of disbelief,' supported
perhaps by an appeal to the scientific examples we have noted. They can then
be brought to see how this idea of God revealed in the cross can address
feelings of guilt, lack of meaning, and fear of death. If they have been
influence by scientifically based arguments against religion, they can be
helped to see how this concept of God and God's relationship with the world
can respond to them, as we will discuss shortly. The hope is that the person
will be brought beyond mere intellectual speculation to gunuine faith in
Christ--bearing in mind that the Holy Spirit, not apologetes, converts
In the entire article I don't see any connection between religion and
science that I would consider real. You mention that God becomes a
participant on the side of the losers of evolution's struggles but that is
such a fuzzy concept as to defy any connection with science at all. And you
" "Apologetic use of the resurrection can also foster the unhealthy notion
that the reality of god is demonstrated only by special miraculous
interventions into the natural order. We ought to remember that in the
synoptic Gospels, it is at the cross, not the empty tomb, where the pagan
world begins to see who Jesus is. The centurion says of the dead Jesus,
'Truly this man was the Son of God.' (Mark 15:39)"George Murphy,
"Cross-Based Apologetics for a Scientific Millennium," PSCF 52:3:190-193, p.
And of course the Centurion didn't notice that "when the sixth hour was
come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour." One
certainly wouldn't think of that as an unhealthy special miraculous
Of my contention that some theological claims should be subject to
verification George wrote:
> This would be to the point if the theological claims
> were about the
Ah, good, then we can be Hindus where we can pick and choose our gods to
worship because the detail of what god we are worshipping doesn't matter.
Afterall, theology isn't about the details.
Come on, George, you can't be serious that theological claims aren't about
the details. Christianity itself is about the detail of the resurrection
which you seem to find fostering unhealthy notions.
> Exactly - except that I know quite well what you're
> doing. You are
> trying to establish the "verifiable" (far different from
> "verified") truth of a
> lot of biblical claims - and then are going to say to the
> skeptic, "OK, now I
> want you to accept a lot of claims (goodness of creation,
> forgiveness of sins,
> &c) which are really a lot more important, but unfortunately they aren't
> verifiable." That is indeed one classic apologetic approach. I
> think there are
> serious problems with it today & that there's a better way -
> agaisn, see my
> paper in PSCF.
Sorry, George, making theology flee from details means that we can make up
our own details and it doesn't matter. After all it shouldn't matter if we
one set of meaningless details is replaced by another. One could for
instance replace Jesus with Horus.
"The third text is addressed to the "Old Man who becometh young in his
season, the Aged One who maketh himself a child again." The fourth and
following texts contain a narrative of the troubles of Isis which were
caused by the malice of Set, and of her wanderings from city to city in the
Delta, in the neighborhood of the Papyrus Swamps. The principal incident is
the death of her son Horus, which took place whilst she was absent in a
neighboring city, and was caused by the bite of a scorpion; in spite of all
the care which Isis took in hiding her son, a scorpion managed to make its
way into the presence of the boy, and it stung him until he died. When Isis
came back and found her child's dead body she was distraught and frantic
with grief, and was inconsolable until Nephthys came and advised her to
appeal to Thoth, the lord of words of power, She did so straightway, and
Thoth stopped the Boat of Millions of Years in which Ra, the Sun-god,
sailed, and came down to earth in answer to her cry; Thoth had already
provided her with the words of power which enabled her to raise up Osiris
from the dead, and he now bestowed upon her the means of restoring Horus to
life, by supplying her with a series of incantations of irresistible might.
Horus rose from the dead. So did Jesus.
I know you are not advocating this, George, so spare me the claim that I am
saying that you are. But when one decides that details don't matter, then it
really doesn't matter what name we give to the risen one. At least that is
the way I see things. and to claim that the theology of Egypt isn't as good
as Christian theology should require some evidence to back it up.
> > Muslims don't think we will fair well being infidels and all. They would
> > absolutely reverse your sentences toward us. And Mormons would
> say "It is a
> > standoff only to the extent that don't get to be a God in the
> > We can all assert our individual preferences, but the only way to
> > differentiate these preferences is by objective verification of physical
> > detail.
> You are not really paying any attention to _theological_
> The distinction between
> a religion of law (which includes Islam, Mormons, & virtually all
> religions) & gospel
> is fundamental. On that basis one can make a pretty clear
> distinctions between
> Christianity & everything else.
Without objective data, I see nothing here except the self-serving (from a
Christian perspective) claim that they aren't as good as us. That really
isn't anything to rest our feet upon.
> First, note that I said nothing about resurrection here.
> But you are quite wrong. I am quite willing to pursue historical
> investigation, which is why I don't think that some (N.B., not
> "all" or "most")
> of the accounts in the Bible are _not_ historical. You (almost
> always) insist
> that they are and then try to find some phenomena that they might
> have, could
> have, should have, referred to. I think you're closer to the
> Muslims here.
> (So's your old man! :))
Nah, my old man was an atheist. He was horrified that I became a Christian.
My step mother had a son-in-law who was a preacher, who tried to pray for
dad during one of his last operations. During the middle of the prayer,
while we all had our eyes closed, dad loudly proclaimed, 'Now Dave, you know
I don't believe all that."
> > Absolutely agree. And I have never said we could. But you miss
> the fact that
> > for events like the exodus, Adam and Eve, the Flood, things ARE
> IN PRINICPLE
> > verifiable. And yet you don't want them verified. Strange for a
> person with
> > a physics background.
> It is utterly false to say that I "don't want them
> verified": I think
> the Exodus really happened (though not with 2.5 x 10^6 people) & is _in
> principle_ verifiable, though the probability is low due, e.g.,
> to the fact that
> pharaohs didn't advertise their defeats. But if someone does
> find a memo from a
> surviving charioteer describing how a band of Hebrew slaves
> escaped because of
> some freaky weather, great. & while I don't believe your flood
> scenario, if
> someone did come up with some hard
> evidence for it, fine. I'll accept it. I am not committed "with
> the certainty
> of faith" to what I presently think about the matter.
George, if you really wanted them verified, you would actively try to verify
them. Ultimately people's actions show what they believe. You spend a whole
lot of time trying to talk me out of verifying things so I think it is
entirely ironic that you now proclaim that you want things verified. I have
seen no observational data for this assertion.
> You don't seem to have read my paragraph below before
> writing this. A
> Muslim _won't_ claim this - if knowledgeable about his or her faith.
I thought you said that theology wasn't about the details. Surely you are
not now saying, contra what you implied above, that the details really
> Yes, belief doesn't create truth. But we have to start with some
> beliefs in our search for truth
> The question then is, what fundamental beliefs allow us to understand our
> experience in the most comprehensive and consistent way. _Fides quarens
Augustine's approach, which you are advocating above, is exactly the
position I held to as a YEC. Belief first, then understanding. Believe the
young-earth position and you can then understand the world. That approach
is as flawed as any approach can be. I rejected YEC because of the details
of science, not the details of the Bible. And it was the observational data
that told me I was wrong as a YEC, not the details of the Bible. What you
suggest above can easily move one to believe in YECism. Afterall they claim
that God revealed what happened and that therefore we should believe it.
> Actually "proving" Adam & Eve, the Flood, or the Exodus
> would provide no
> distinction at all between Islam, Judaism & Christianity. As far as
> historically verifiable (or supportable) truth is concerned,
> crunch time is
> Calvary. & as far as theology is concerned, its the difference
> between law &
> gospel. So if you want an apologetic which will be of any use
> with Muslims,
> don't spend your time on the flood.
I agree that the verification of the flood or creation would not distinguish
between Islam, Judaism or Chrisitianity. But it would sure narrow the
field. One could then look for other differences.
You can have the last word. I no longer want to discuss things endlessly.
for lots of creation/evolution information
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