RE: Another thing people can throw rocks at

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Tue May 14 2002 - 23:21:16 EDT

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    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: Dr. Blake Nelson []
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 4:46 AM
    >I am not trying to mischaracerize your views.

    I will take you at your word and apologize publically here for my hostility.
    For years I have said, but few listen, that what is important is NOT that
    Noah took 7 clean pair on the ark but that there actually was a historical
    event upon which the story is based. What is important is NOT that a column
    of fire be provable with the Exodus, but that the Exodus actually happened
    (something entirely within the realm of justifiable doubt. What is
    important is NOT

    >point is that concordism, per se, is not a ground for
    >faith because, inter alia, people may disagree as to
    >the necessary amount of concordism to prove the
    >validity of the Bible.

    What gets me is that we pick and chose what we want concordism for. We want
    concordism for Genesis 1:1--that is, that God actually created the universe.
    We want concordism for the existence of Jesus--that he actually was a human
    who lived, ate, slept etc. We want concordism when it comes to the
    resurrection. Afterall, without it, we got nothing. But we don't want
    concordism for floating axes, talking snakes, and maybe not even for water
    to wine, or water skiing without motor boat or skis! My basic criticism of
    the conventional apologetic is that it is incoherent and ad hoc. We pick
    things for concordism which we feel are necessary and skip the rest.

    Asimov, for example, would not
    >buy a single of your concordist arguments because of
    >the views he held regarding what the Bible is.

    Personally I don't really give a flip what Asimov would or wouldn't have
    accepted. Success is not measured by getting Asimov's approval. Out of
    curiosity why do you think his approval would concern me? I don't have an
    Asimov fan club over here.

    >> FYI at one time I regularly attended a charismatic
    >> church. I thoroughly
    >> enjoyed the worship. And one thing one can say
    >> about a charismatic form of
    >> worship--it ain't completely rational. So get your
    >> facts right, Blake. At
    >> least try to understand where I am coming from
    >> rather than constantly doing
    >> caricatures.
    >I am not doing caricatures. In two decades of
    >teaching I have carefully listened to arguments, no
    >matter how inane, in order to understand from where
    >someone was approaching an issue or a problem. I am
    >always able to be enlightened. Unlike your
    >supposition regarding my views, I do not presume to
    >know yours.

    You could have fooled me because you spent enough time criticizing what you
    now claim you didn't presume to understand.

    >> You have a bit of trouble with hypotheticals don't
    >> you?
    >Actually, having had the opportunity to teach in law
    >schools, I am quite capable of dealing with
    >hypotheticals. They are the bread and butter of the
    >Socratic method as utilized in law school curricula.

    One thing they should have taught you in Law school is the argument from
    authority. You have now used it twice in this post alone, so far. Just
    because you have taught in law school doesn't mean that one should accept
    your argument. YOur teaching at law school is irrelevant to proving that
    you handled that hypothetical correctly.

    >> As I said to Burgy, one reason we talk past each
    >> other is that you seem to
    >> limit your responses to those coming from within the
    >> Christian tradition and
    >> seem to lack an ability to rise above and see the
    >> broader theological world
    >> which is out there. And if you can't think of a
    >> religious tradition which
    >> emphasizes the sacrifice of humans to please God,
    >> for that is what
    >> apeasement is, then look at the Palestinian suicide
    >> bombers.
    >You missed my point here. I can think of lots of
    >traditions that sacrifice people from the Aztecs to
    >modern Islam groups. None of those traditions, as far
    >as I am aware, are mystical traditions. I know that
    >the militant Islam group you are talking about is not
    >a mystical tradition and no evidence suggests that the
    >Aztecs were.

    I didn't mention the Aztecs but I presume you are referring to the Sonoran
    indians who are different. As to your awareness of suicide bombers and
    mysticism, you aren't paying enough attention to current events. The Sufi
    are mystics in Islam and they are part of the suicide bombing mentality.
    Sure there are Sufi against the suicide bombers, but some are actually doing
    it. Kashmir has lots of Sufi and it is a place of Islamic extremism now.

             "I would say itís more than mystique. In the case of a movement like
    the one in the West, especially, for example, the Hamburg cell, not only is
    there a mystique, [thereís] plain Islamic mysticism. The movement in Hamburg
    and its extensionsówhich has left us quite a number of documentsóthe single
    common denominator of all these documents is a great belief in mysticism. It
    ís a religion based on intuition and illumination. Itís seeing personal
    salvation in your own end as a suicide bomber, much less than hatred of the
    enemy. This is sheer Sufi Islamic mystic tradition and its most basic
    ingredients. If this [is] true of other [fundamentalist] movements, I think
    this is a chilling perspective."

    This is a perfect example of why it is tough to discourse with you. In an
    earlier post you wrote:

    > Why should I not
    >believe the priests of Molech? Because, my experience
    >of God is loving and merciful.

      I pointed out to you that experiences of God's love doesn't indicate truth
    and gave the example that the feelings of the dervishes and the Sonoran
    Indians didn't prove their religion try any more than your feelings prove
    the Bible or Christianity.

    You made several mistakes here. First, you didn't respond to the issue I
    raised which was why should your experiences of Jesus prove your religion
    true? SEcondly, you spoke from a limited knowledge base. You didn't bother
    to even research the dervishes OR the Sonorans. You assumed that the
    dervishes are not mystic, they are as I will show below. Secondly you then
    speak of the Aztecs as if the Asztec's lived in the Sonoran desert--they
    didn't; they don't. Have you ever heard of Carlos Castenada? The indians of
    the Sonoran desert are the Pima, the Papago, the O'odhams but not the
    Aztecs. Their religion is mystical and involves the peyote plant. Since
    they still practice this religion, we have plenty of evidence of their
    beliefs and the religious beliefs of the Aztecs are irrelevant to the point
    which was, WHy should your experience of a loving God make you believe in
    Jehovah rather than in the God's of the Pima or the God of Islam?
    Concerning the Sufis of whom you need to learn I present the following.

    The dervishes are a mystic part of the Sufi islamic tradition.

    The Sufi's are a group of Islamic mystics.

    And from another site:

    "Sufism: Awakening to the Awareness of the Unmanifest World
    At any moment in the course of following the Sufi path, Sufis may have an
    experience in which they become drawn into the presence of God. This
    experience has often been called jadhbah (attraction) or wajd (ecstasy)
    (lit. finding). Another way of speaking of this experience is to describe it
    as "awakening to the 'unmanifest or unseen world'(al-ghayb)." The following
    link, written by the Muslim scholars of the as-Sunnah Foundation, explains
    both the Prophet Muhammad's knowledge of the Unseen as well as the unveiling
    (kashf ) or knowledge of the Unseen that the "friends of God" or "saints"
    (awliya' ) attain. "

    Of course, this gets into nomenclature,
    >and there are not hard and fast definitions of these

    No, it gets into the fact that you didn't care about the observational and
    historical data and didn't take the trouble to learn them before stating
    your opinion. And it illustrates what I think the problem with our discourse

    Having had comparative religion as a hobby
    >for three decades, I am well aware of the difficulties
    >in categorization.

    And you don't know of the dervishes? of the Sufi's? Of the mysticism in
    Native American religion? Interesting!

    But, in the traditions where such
    >sacrifices are made it is the slot machine God that
    >needs to be appeased. This falls into the "magical"
    >category of religious practice, where rituals are used
    >to invoke benefit and ward off evil. I realize that
    >those religious views exist. But as you are well
    >aware, they are easily demonstrable as false, since
    >they do make claims which are easily subject to
    >empirical verification. Does a rain dance correlate
    >with rain? If you stop human sacrifices, will the sun
    >god not return tomorrow? All these claims are
    >empirically testable. Therefore, if you see people
    >prosper who did not sacrifice their sons, then Molech,
    >as conceived by the Phoenicians either doesn't care
    >about child sacrifice, as the Phoenicians thought, or
    >does not exist. One of the two. They got part of him
    >wrong or entirely wrong. Your Molech example does not
    >carry water for the Judeo-Christian conception of God.

    Which is exactly what I took pains to point out in the last reply to you.
    You are arguing from a purely Judeo-Christian concept assuming that there is
    no alternative to that. I am not. I am arguing about a much broader set of
    categories and you keep coming back to the same thing and are not listening
    to what I specifically took time to explain. If Christianity is false, then
    who cares that Molech doesn't live up to the Judeo-Christian concept of God?
    THis is especially true if Molech is in truth, God!

    > You are comparing apples and oranges for reasons I
    >have tried unsuccessfully to explain.

    Your replies are not even replying to what I am saying.

    I wrote:
    >> It is the apprehending of
    >> the book which purports to
    >> be a message inspired by Him.

    Blake replied:
    >Here is where you do not read what I write. The book
    >purports nothing of the sort.

    Maybe you haven't heard of 2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration
    of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
    instruction in righteousness:"

    To Timothy, the Scripture was the Torah, not what he was writing. I will
    give you that the OT doesn't seem to make that claim but if we beleive the
    NT (which maybe the counsels should have left Timothy out) then the
    Scripture (OT) was believed to have been inspired.

    >Do you understand, hypothetically, that if a book is
    >in the bible that is completely hogwash, that doesn't
    >mean the other books are hogwash or that God does not
    >inspire, it only means the ecumenical councils got it

    They got Genesis and Exodus wrong? Wow! Bibles should be able to be sold
    cheaper without those books in them.

    I do understand the hypothetical you raise. Maybe they also got the Gospels
    wrong? If so, Christianity is crap. And under those conditions, we don't
    have much of a religion do we?

      That is one of my many points that you either
    >ignore or refuse to address. If one book or part of a
    >book is demonstrably wrong it has NO EFFECT on any
    >other books in the Bible.

    Can a book be thrown out? YES. Can certain books be thrown out? NO. Try
    that with the Gospels and see what is left of our religion.

    Given your logic above, I suppose that you want to trust the rest of the
    books even if large chunks are false. That is fine. But that is once again
    an ad hoc procedure which makes you out to be the total judge of what you
    will and won't accept in the religion. Indeed, it allows you to make out
    your own religion. I think I will take the 8th letter of the KJ Genesis
    1:1, the 11th and 12th letter of Genesis 1:3 as true, the 2nd letter of
    Genesis 1:4 and 1:5 the 17th and 37th letter of Genesis 1:5 and the 4th,5th
    and 6th letters of Genesis 1:6. THat is my religion. All the rest is wrong.
    It says, "Glenn is God". And that is an extreme example of the problem
    with picking out what one wants to believe. And if you use this methodology
    (albeit in a less extreme form), what right do you have to say I am wrong
    when I am merely doing what you are doing?

    >> Warm feelings may not bring one to knowledge of the
    >> truth. Whirling
    >> dervishes of Turkish islamic tradition feel really
    >> good. So to the shamans
    >> of the Sonoran desert when in a trance. They all
    >> can't be true at the same
    >> time, or if they are, then the message is so plastic
    >> as to be meaningless.
    >> And don't interpret this from your parochial limited
    >> Christian perspective.
    >My perspective is neither limited nor parochial.

    That is debatable if you didn't know the Aztecs didn't live in the Sonoran
    desert or that the Sufi's are mystics and involved in islamic extremism.


    >> What you miss is the entire possibility that maybe
    >> God IS a slot machine.
    >No, I do not miss it. As discussed above, God as a
    >slot machine IS an empirically testable proposition.

    Have you considered that the empirical test fails because it didn't appease
    the real God who wants to be appeased? Why should God X pay off for worship
    and appeasement of God Y?


    >This is where you also failed to read my point. The
    >Crucified God is not a God that I would make. I have
    >thought quite a lot about this. The God who dies,
    >apparently impotent and on the cross is not a God that
    >I would in my wildest fantasies imagine.

    Lots of other religions have had killed and resurrected Gods. Horus of Egypt
    was one. If he isn't true, then someone made him up. And consider Attis,
    Mithra, Osiris. All were gods which were killed and resurrected. There are
    others. Many of these were sacrificed in the spring.

    I think there is ample reason to doubt how widespread your studies of other
    religions are.

    >> You really aren't very widely read then. I might
    >> point out that if God is
    >> the creation of our minds, then God is created along
    >> with us who were
    >> created by with the universe. Thus, one only has to
    >> include those who
    >> believe religion was evolved. So, how about Fred
    >> Hoyle, Stephen Weinberg who
    >> calls all supernatural beings 'faeries' , Stephen J.
    >> Gould, Carl Sagan, my my
    >> friend William Provine, Isaac Asimov, Albert
    >> Einstein. and many many others
    >> I could name if I went to a bit of trouble.
    >I am sure you could, but you did not read my point.
    >Of the people that you mention (and I have read at
    >least one book by each of them), only Dawkins insists
    >that God, to have any meaning, must be a being that is
    >in the physical universe and being the most
    >complicated such being would have to take a lot longer
    >to evolve than we would.

    That isn't what we were talking about. What started this was the statement
    I made that if God were created with the universe, then he wasn't creator
    and you claimed that Dawkins was the only one who taught that. What you say
    above, is not what I said at the begining of this part of our thread.

    YOu can have the last word. I am tired of this.


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