Re: Believe it even if it isn't true theology

From: <>
Date: Mon Feb 20 2006 - 07:37:09 EST

This is for George, Jack Syme, David Opderbeck, Wayne Dawson, Iain Strachan, Don Nields

George. You are right, you and I have gone round about as much as I want to with you. I think we understand eachother and I respect you even if I think you wrong, and you think I wrong.

To Jack Syme: I stand corrected. It was early this morning about answering my own quotation.. Sorry.

Jack also wrote:

>Our responsibility is to present the gospel.  We are powerless to make to make people believers or not, that is up to the Holy Spirit. 
>Those that are predestined to be unbelievers will always find something lacking in the physical evidence, will always question the

I don't understand why so many think this area is an area of evangelism. I have stated repeatedly over the years that it is not. It is a means of keeping the best and brightest as Christians. It is discipleship rather than evangelism.


David Opderbeck wrote:


>But interpretation doesn't happen by isolated individuals in a vaccum.  It happens in a community, over time, punctuated
>I suppose by particularly strong synthesis and insights from particular individuals.  I'm not so sure, then, that you can say >there is a "case of a first person" using a particular method. 

Oh bulldulfa. Interpretation occurs both in individuals and in community.  I have an interpretation that no one likes. But at least I have thought of something novel rather than staying with those other interpretations which have failed to solve anything. To say an individual can't come up with an interpretation is just plain silly.

 In the Christian tradition, you can go all the way back to the
>roots of the community and find efforts to understand the scriptural narratives in light of other knowledge, punctuated by >brilliant expostions by folks like Augustine.  Of course, they weren't looking at "modern interpretations of science," but
>the roots of what we do now concerning scripture and science go back to what they were doing then.  It's nothing radical >or unusual  within our tradition to ask how what we call "general revelation" impacts our understanding of what we call
>"special revelation."  So I would argue that in assessing the validity of any theology or theological method, tradition does
>matter, alot.  Even Evangelical protestants who hold to "sola scriptura" -- of which I am one -- recognize the value of the
>tradition in understanding what scripture is saying to the Church (at least those Evangelical protestants who think
>carefully about such things).

Ok, Mormons have a tradition of interpretation, so lets remove this issue once and for all. Thus, as I read you, it would be perfectly ok for them to use accommodation/metaphor/allegory to absolve their scripture of egregious errors of archaeological fact, thereby making the theology contained in the Book of Mormon true. 

Doesn't that strike you as the least bit ad hoc?????


>>If he is allowed to do it, does that mean the theology his religion teaches is true? How do you tell his true theology from our >>true theology?  How does one in your view, distinguish true from false theology without a self-referential or begging the >>question approach?
>I think there are two different questions here:  (1) is an interpretive method valid within the context of a particular faith
>community / tradition; and (2) once an interpretation has been made, is it True?  So let's look at question (2).  This is a
>question of epistemology.  How do we test anything to determine whether it's true?  What does "true" mean?
>Here is where, IMHO, some of our faith / science arguments play out under incorrect assumptions.  The assumption
>seems often to be that faith claims must satisfy a certain logical positivist version of the modern scientific method to be
>considered "true."  I don't buy that.  The modern scientific method is very useful for some things, but it fails as an
>overarching epistemology, because used in that fashion  it is "self-referential and question begging." 
>In lieu of testing faith claims by the scientific method, how can we judge between competing faith / truth claims?  I think
>there's a whole set of tools available.  Is a given system internally coherent?  Does it comport with general human
>experience?  Is it grounded in historical events?  Does it explain and amplify the moral sense?  How did the tradition
>develop?  Does it resonate with personal experience? Finally, does it explain and contextualize what we observe and
>intuit about the natural world? 
My atheist friends as well as many on this list would gladly point out numerous cases of internal inconsistencies in the Scripture and argue that they therefore can't represent reality and must indicate the Bible is false (atheist) or accomodating (many here).
>Questions like these, I think, help us make our way through the maze of competing religious and truth claims and give
>support to our faith commitments.  Ultimately, though, none of this kind of inquiry will give absolute, perfect, complete
>knowledge of Reality. Because we're all human, we all have to operate in a sphere in which we have to make faith
>commitments without being indubitably certain that we are committing to the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. 
>(This is true even in science -- can you "prove" that the assumptions on which the scientific method are based are true?) 
>If you want indubitability, you'll end up in Descartes "I think therefore I am" solipsism, and you'll realize that even that
>isn't certain.  One of the beautiful things about Christianity, I think, is that our security doesn't rest in the human capacity >to know things.  It is a faith grounded in reasonable evidences, rooted in history and in the life, death and resurrection of >Christ, but ultimately our faith rests on God's grace.
I am NOT speaking of proving the assumptions of either science or of religion. I am merely asking for supportive evidence that THIS religion is THE religion.  Of course one can't prove it, but the easy (and non-thinking) attack on my argument is to turn my search for supportive evidence into a supposed search for proof. I am not seeking proof. I am merely seeking evidence like one would of a scientific theory. If such and such happened, then here are the consequences. We scientists apply this every day at work and design experiments to find that evidence. Such evidence does NOT prove the theory true but only supports it. But many here want an easy dismissal of my questions by claiming that I am searching for proof.  But, as I said, that is the easy, non-thinking way to deal with my questions. Another easy non-thinking way to deal with my questions is to avoid answering anything I ask.  Both methods work quite well. ( I want to state that that last sentence is not directed at  you, you seem to be engaging in an interesting conversation).
Wayne wrote:

>But actually, binary thinking is very typical of atheists on skeptic lists.
>As you are quite aware, many atheists are actually former Christians
>who were fed that YEC propaganda, although in this case, I'm not so sure
>this is what you are talking about. 

This is exactly what I am talking about. My many brushes with atheism in the late 1990s happened only partly because of YEC. If this list had offered anything other than myths and wil of the wisps in the way of reality, I would not have had the experiences I did.  While I am no longer in danger of becoming an atheist (at least I don't think so), reading Paul Seeley's Inerrant Wisdom brought on such a crisis that Paul was sorry he sent me his book.  That accommodationalist view was nearly enough to convince me of the utter unreality of the Christian faith.  Thus, during these experiences, I learned the atheist arguments quite well. And those on this list who continually misrepresent my demand for truth as evidence of past fundamentalism are flat out giving knee-jerk, nonthinking answers so that they can deal my questions away and not have to really think about them.

>Yet even for those who are not, and it is more possible to have an intelligent
>conversation with them, you're forgetting that we do not come to God by
>our own strength and power, but by Grace.  I cannot think that I would have
>accepted Christ even with your plausible ideas.  I agree more with your view
>of fossil man that Hugh Ross, and I probably would have been less hostile than I
>was to those creationists that I selected many unchristian words to describe.
>But if I think back to my reasoning in those days before I was saved, I would have
>rejected your ideas too. 
I agree, but the Mormon would say we don't come to Mormonism of our own power but by Grace.  After 11 years of holding the views I do, I am under no illusion as to their value in the market place of ideas. They are worthless, rejected and forgotten.  But I can't think of anything better so I stay with them. Believing that the Bible tells us nothing of actual history but is true is exactly equivalent to Peter Arnold's statement in the Vietnam war that in order to save the village we had to destroy it.

>The problem is that assessing facts would at best lead you to a neutral position.
>I don't think it would even get that far, but maybe I am wrong.  I considered
>Christians something less than intelligent for a long time.  Of course, the ones
>I came into contact with were only these creationists. 
Don't confuse a search for support as if it were a search for proof.
Ironically, what probably
>prompted my exit from atheism was probably an atheist.  That first walk to the door
>of a church was the longest and most difficult walk I ever made.  There might
>as well have been a hurricane blowing against me.  So creationist can claim nothing
>on saving me.  The Lord saved me. I came to accept Christ in spite of their
>greatest efforts to hurry me down the road to perdition by their convoluted
The reason I am no longer in danger of becoming an atheist is that they have to postulate the unseen multiverse to avoid having an unseen God.  Ockham's razor seems to suggest that God is a simpler hypothesis.

>So maybe I might have been less hostile in a world where such absurdity was
>not espoused as truth, but I would not believe miracles and Christ as the
>son of God under any circumstance
Maybe. But see, I think that it is absurd to say that the Bible has nothing positive to say about the actual creation but the creation account teaches the true theology. I am hostile to that kind of illogic.
Iain Strachan wrote:
>I'd like to have a shot at answering Glenn's first question.  Yes, of course any set of beliefs can be accomodated to
>modern science by invoking the idea that the "wrong science" was figurative.  But I think the question is, if not unfair,
>then at least it's of the "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" category.  There isn't any answer we can give that is
>going to be satisfactory.  In the end, faith is faith - and by definition it can't be proved scientifically - one can point to
>evidence ( e.g. evidence of the resurrection etc) but at the end of it all, we've all made a step of faith and said "I
>believe".  That is inevitable.
Thank you Iain.  A kueppee doll for you who can answer a question others think is nonsense.  Maybe it is unfair and maybe it isn't.  Yes, faith can not be proven. But, faith can be supported by some evidence and reasonable line of logic. I guess the reason I simply can't go the direction that most on this list do is because I can't see any reason to beleive that which I feel is false. To me that is a case of the excluded middle in logic. Of course, (to give you the weakside of my argument) one could say that all knowledge save mathematics iteself is really based upon fuzzy logic.

>My point is that anything written down in praise of God is within our current understanding of nature - God doesn't
>(usually) give scientific revelations.  And the same is true of any belief system.  There is no answer to your atheist
>question here, let's be honest about it.  And as Christians we believe that to be born again we have to be convicted by
>the Holy Spirit  (John 3:6 - Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit).
I agree with this.  But that doesn't absolve us of a responsibility to try to find evidence supporting our views.  As the evolutionists often point out to the anti-evolutionists, your belief in God causes you to cease looking for new evidence.  I think that is appropriate here as well.

>I know that's probably not a satisfactory answer to your question, Glenn, but it's my best shot at the moment.
At least you took the question seriously and I much appreciate it.  I consider the questions I am asking to be the toughest ones for the position widely held here on this list.  It seems as if it is as verboten to ask these questions here as it is to ask geological questions on a YEC board. This is a piece of observational evidence supporting my view that there is really little difference between the AMA and YEC. Both are tautologies avoiding evidence like the plague.

Don wrote:

>Glenn: You have not considered the possibility that it could be the claim of a group of Hebrew theologians who have >thought deeply about this matter, and this is their way of expressing a profound truth 

Actually no I hadn't thought of that any more than I had thought about the possibliity that druids were involved. To suggest the above would be going way beyond the evidence of which I am aware. Where is the evidence that a group of Hebrew scholars told Jesus what to say about the Samaritan? If this is in the Talmud, I would really like to know it but I have never heard that it was.


>Genesis 1 is a statement that Jehovah is in charge and the other gods are of no account. The truth of the statement in >Genesis 1 can be assessed independently in the light of the teaching and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Gee, then why didn't he say that rather than saying that he created the world?  Seems to me that it would be much simpler to simply state, "I AM IN CHARGE OF ALL OTHER GODS" than going through the mumbojumbo of days, and trees before the sun etc.

How do you know that it is such a statement???? who told you this??? Did God tell you this???? Did you read it in a book??? How does the author know this???? Did your teacher tell you this??? How does he know it to be true???

This illustrates what is so silly about the entire approach of saying that Genesis is a statement about this or that, anything BUT the creation. I could speculate that the Genesis account is about the multiverse. On Day one God was in a universe needing light. On day two he was in another universe needing oceans and continents. On day 3 he was in a third universe needing plants.. on and on.  How exactly are you going to show that my silly interpretation is wrong and yours is right???? You don't seem to want to appeal to observational data, so we come to a standoff with you saying yea and I saying nay.

Maybe Genesis is a story of a guy who walked from the North pole to the equator and started out in the winter.  It was dark, On the ice he saw neither continent nor ocean. Then he saw the ocean, then trees, (and having seen clouds extend from southern Canada all the way across the North Pole to southern Siberia, I know how extensive the clouds can be) so he saw trees before the sun. I could go on you know. One could concoct the most ridiculous interpretation and proclaim it true, as you have with your proclamation that you know what the Genesis story is about. And it is so odd to me that it has nothing whatsoever to do with creation itself.  Could have fooled me.


>Glenn needs to recognize that the account can be about something real without being real in the sense of the logical >positivists.

So one has to be a logical positivist to believe that when I say I drilled an oil well I am talking about something real? Come on. I am not sure you understand the term positivist nor why it failed as a philosophical research program. It failed because it couldn't satisfy its own criteria for knowledge. And that is why I think the AMA approach fails. It can't satisfy its own means of determining truth.  I have 13+ interpretations of what people think God is trying to say in Genesis 2--advocates of all these positions are sure that their view is what God is trying to say and all of them are mutually exclusive and ad hoc.



Received on Mon Feb 20 07:37:53 2006

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