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

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Mon Feb 20 2006 - 10:15:24 EST

*To say an individual can't come up with an interpretation is just plain

That's not what I said. Individuals come up with interpretations in the
context of a historical community. Really, Glenn, you don't think your
interpretation is so novel that it bears no connection at all to anything
that's gone before, do you? You may have come up with a novel insight here
or there, but the context, framework, methods, and supporting
interpretations you employ arise out of a tradition.

*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.*

Again, that's not what I said. I was very clear that as I see it there are
two questions at play here: (1) is the interpretation coherent within its
tradition; and then (2) how does the tradition compare to other traditions
as an explanation of Reality.

If the Mormons have an interpretive tradition that permits accomodation to
modern findings of archeology (I don't think they do, BTW), then it would be
"perfectly ok" -- I would prefer to say "coherent and consistent with their
tradition" -- to interpret their scriptures in a way that does so, answering
question (1). But we'd then have to ask question (2) -- what does their
tradition now say about Reality and how does it compare to other
traditions? It would not then be so simple as asking "is the Book of Mormon
true." I don't think the simple binary "is this proposition true or not"
works here.

If I were to compare even this "modern" understanding of the Book of Mormon
with the claims of Christ and of the Christian worldview, I'd have to
conclude that while the Book of Mormon might contain some truths, its core
doctrines are not true. I believe there would be reasonable grounds for
such a conclusion using the various comparative methods I've mentiond in
prior posts, though as other commenters have observed, it is not a question
of "proof" because ultimately it is a question of faith and there is no way
to "prove" or "disprove" worldview.

*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).*
Yes, but again, my point was much broader than this. Coherency doesn't mean
"are there any inconsistencies in the text." The criteria I gave are much
richer than that and relate to the entire worldview, including its
scriptures, tradition, history and practices, not just the particulars of a
scriptural text. And the test is not "are there any inconsistencies or
problems at all." Certainly there are many tensions within the Christian
tradition, some of which will probably never be resolved. We have to be
honest about that. But that's true of every belief system, including
logical positivist science. That's just life. We're only human after all.

*I am merely seeking evidence like one would of a scientific theory. If such
and such happened, then here are the consequences.*
Ok, but I think that's part of the problem. I don't think you can test
worldviews like scientific theories. That's where I was going with all my
mumbo-jumbo about epistemology. Much of life, and large parts of it that
really matter, simply don't yield in any satisfying way to the scientific
method. To me, this is the fundamental issue in faith / science issues.
Whether one is YEC, Progressive Creationist, or TE, I think we often give
away the store by accepting the premise of logical positivism that the only
valid truth claims are those that can be shown to be valid using the
scientific method.

Some of the TE / accomodationist literature, I think, validly starts to get
at this issue by noting that the Bible is pre-scientific and written for a
particular non-scientific purpose, and therefore we shouldn't expect all of
its propositions to line up easily with conclusions drawn from the
scientific method. I'm not sure this is the whole answer, but it's a
start. But if you accept the atheist's argument that "empirical evidence
tested under the scientific method is the only evidence that matters" -- an
atheist on a different list made that comment to me once -- then I think the
cause is lost. The fundamental question you have to ask yourself, I think,
is do I accept that logical positivist claim? If you examine that claim
carefully, I think you'll see that it collapses under its own weight, since
it is not itself an empirical claim that can be tested by the scientific
method. It is itself an unprovable faith claim.

On 2/20/06, <> wrote:
> This is for Michael Roberts,
> >I am afraid I find any suggestion that the Good Sam is historical misses
the whole point of a parable.
> No it doesn't. It is actually more powerful if it is historical and known
to the listeners of that day.
> >Also Glenn's ideas of a 5 ma flood means that he has a remarkable amount
of metaphorical interpretation in his view of >Genesis, or perhaps much
accommodation. The history behind early Genesis becomes so vague that it
might as well be >allegorical. Be cheeky I could suggest that his views are
a strong form of AMA interpretation!
> Michael, you are cheeky. You demand that YECs answer tough questions, but
then flee to the hills when you are asked tough ones for your position. Can
a mormon use accommodation as a means to save his religion which says false
things about how North America was peopled? Can he or can't he? Why this
is so tough for you to answer, I really don't know. If you had an ounce of
prescience about the weaknesses of your own position, you would have thought
of a better answer than "it is nonsense to ask such a question."
> >
> >It is a pity that Glenn does not see the logic or rather illogic of his
> Oh, I see the weaknesses of my views. I know that no one likes the age of
Adam in my views. But, genetics says mankind's genes go back that far so to
maintain the unity of the Human race, one must postulate an Adam at least
that old. Religion goes back at least to 420,000 years, long before
anatomically modern man was on earth. We know this from this description
of Bilzingsleben
> "But Mania's most intriguing find lies under a protective shed. As he
opens the door sunlight illuminates a cluster of smooth stones and pieces of
bone that he believes were arranged by humans to pave a 27-foot-wide circle.
"'They intentionally paved this area for cultural activities,' says Mania.
'We found here a large anvil of quartzite set between the horns of a huge
bison, near it were fractured human skulls.'" (Gore, Rick 1997. "The First
Europeans," National Geographic, July, p. 110)
> I really wouldn't want to walk into a village with a 'cultural area' like
that one. And I doubt you would either. You too, if you really admit it, can
see the symbolism.
> We can conveniently ignore such things because they don't fit our
theology, or we can decide that theology needs to adapt a bit.
> But, my weakness is that there is no evidence for people in the place
where they would have had to have been for the flood--but there is plenty of
evidence for the infilling of the Mediterranean. I also have difficulty
with the MHC complex because to coalesce that complex requires something
like 28 million years, meaning no genetic bottleneck for the past 28 million
years (although I do have a way to solve that problem). My weakness is that
I don't place Adam where everyone else wants him, in 4000 BC or so. My
weakness is that I must have small brained hominids have language (although
Homo floresiensis may have solved that problem and given me support for
language among the H. erecti).
> Now, Michael, I have listed some of the weaknesses of my position. If you
have any intellectual honesty you will be capable of doing the same. What do
you see as the weaknesses, both logical and observational in your position?
Or are you like a YEC who has no weaknesses in his position????? I think
you will respond like the latter. You seem not to be able to see or admit or
acknowledge any weaknesses in your position, but all positions have their
weaknesses, mine as well as yours. I have proven my honesty here by listing
them. The question is: will you?
Received on Mon Feb 20 10:16:43 2006

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