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

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 12:17:18 EST

*When I draw the conclusions of what you say, you don't like it. If one is
only permitted to use the accommodationalist approach IF and only if there
is a tradition of that religion using it, but if not, he is NOT allowed to
use it, then you have conceived an unchangeable interpretive scheme whether
or not you want to acknowledge it. How is one to introduce new
interpretations if the previous tradition didn't consider such issues?
Please tell me that and it might clear things up.*

I think we're talking past each other here. I'm not suggesting a tradition
can't evolve, or that new ideas can't be injected into a tradition -- I used
the term "punctuated development" when I first mentioned the idea of a
tradition. So sure, someone can introduce a new idea, which may be resisted
at first, and may become part of the tradition eventually. But over time a
corpus develops that is generally recognized within the tradition to be
authentic. And, even new ideas evolve out of the tradition. If the
community has no way of absorbing the new ideas, they can't be called part
of the tradition.

And this is my problem with both the Green Slug and Mormonism hypo. The
Green Slug hypo assumes there is only one legitimate way to interpret the
Green Slug myth. You assume your conclusion before you even ask the
question: it is a priori inappropriate, a violation of the Green Slug
faith, to interpret the Green Slug as anything but a literal Green Slug. If
the Green Slug faith had a theology of general revelation and an established
tradition of interpreting its sacred texts to be consistent with general
revelation, however, you could not, IMHO, claim that it is a violation of
the Green Slug faith to interpret the Slug myth as
less-than-literal. Scientific evidence might falisfy belief in a literal
Green Slug, but it would in no way falsify the entire Green Slug faith.

As to Mormonism, you assume that it could be considered "Mormon" to
interpret the Book of Mormon's historical and eschatological references as
completely non-literal. I don't think there's a such a tradition of
interpretation within Mormonism, though I'm no expert on it so I could be
wrong. If there's no such tradition to draw on, I don't think you could
call such an interpretation "Mormon." It might be the start of a new
community, but I don't think you could authentically call it "Mormon." And,
if your evidence falsifies propositions that are central to the Mormon
tradition and cannot be accomodated to your evidence within the Mormon
tradition, you would have strong grounds on which to reject the corpus of
the tradition.

Neither the Green Slug nor the Mormon hypos, however, map onto the Christian
tradition. As to the specific Adam problem you've raised, the evidence from
genetic science might falsify the idea that Adam bears no connection to
earlier hominids and that everyone living today descends from Adam (I'm not
sure you can make such a definitive claim yet, but let's leave that aside
for now). That would not, however, falsify the entire Christian religion or
fall outside the Christian tradition. Christianity has a deep theology of
general revelation and a long tradition of interpreting its sacred texts in
light of general revelation. Moreover, as our various discussions here
illustrate, there are myriad exegetical questions about the creation stories
in Genesis that leave room for differing interpretations. It is fully
consistent with the Christian tradition to revisit our understanding of who
Adam was in light of current scientific evidence.

Now, there certainly could come a point at which empirical evidence could so
undermine the Christian tradition that there is no way to salvage the
tradition. If someone were to prove that Jesus was a space alien, that his
miracles were the product of advanced technology, and that he was bent on
dominating Earth through a false religion, I think we'd have to say that
data point would collapse the whole tradition.

As you know, there are some within the Christian tradition who say that
tinkering at all with a certain understanding of Adam undermines the entire
Christian worldview. If you think that way, then yes, definitive evidence
from genetic science to the contrary could be fatal to your views. Putting
Adam in a line of evolving hominids is as severe as making Jesus a maniacal
space alien. I think, however, that such a position is extreme when
measured against the whole of the Christian tradition.

*But do you not think that when a statement has empirical consequences we
should be able to go check those consequences to see if they actually
happened? That is what I hear you saying.*

That's not what I'm saying. Hopefully what I said above clarifies.

*I would also point out that one can't prove that you love your wife, that
you feel happy, that you are thinking about going fishing this weekend or
that there is a moon around one of those planets astronomers have found. I
do think those statements meaningful So, you can cease the unthinking
attempts to label me a logical positivist.*

Why the *ad hominem "*unthinking*"?* Can't we have a discussion, maybe even
disagree on some points, without name-calling?

On 2/21/06, glennmorton@entouch.net <glennmorton@entouch.net> wrote:
>
>
> For Don Nield and David Opderbeck
>
> Don Nield wrote:
>
> >Unlike some of the other contibuters to theis thread, I was not referring
to the parable of the Good Samaritan. I was not
> >referring to the Talmud. I was referring to the writers/editors of
Genesis 1, in response to Glenn's claim that Genesis 1
> >was either history or falsehood.
>
>
> I picked up on that and asked if this was in the Talmud. Would you please
tell me where? You didn't answer my question in that regard.
>
> >Glenn is assuming that Genesis 1 is written by God, or it is nonsense --
and if nonsense then anything goes. My
> >intepretation is not a a result of being told it by any particular
person, author, teacher, or God. It is based on the totality
> >of scholarship with which I have come in contact -- and in particular
appreciation of various genres --- applied to the
> >actual text in Genesis, not what might have been in Genesis.
>
> THis is another of those knee-jerk, non-thinking means of dealing with my
questions. It takes no imagination to say that I beleive that God wrote
Genesis, in spite of the fact that I have denied that several times over the
years. I do beleive that God INSPIRED Genesis. If God didn't inspire
Genesis, then some human did and I would ask why should I believe or be
interested in what some neolithic human thought about the origin of the
world? Why should you be interesed in what a neolithic human inspired?
Would you answer this last question?
>
> >No, one certainly does not have to be a logical positivist to accept that
an oil well is real. I now note that Glenn accepts
> >that logical positivism has failed. But that does not mean that the
alternative is post modernism. That some things are
> >not fully known precisely does not mean that anything goes. The proper
postiion for a Christian is that of critical realism.
> >There is a real world, but we can have only a limited understanding of
that reality. A scientific-historical approach leads
> >only to an approximate understanding of reality. One can express some
aspects of our understanding of reality in terms
> >that are not scientific and not historical. One can express theological
truth by means of narratives that are not historical.
> >Some things are neither black or white.
>
> Except that I believe the believe-it-even-if-it-is-not-true theology IS a
phenomenon of post-modernism. Everybody gets to have their own merry
interpretation of Genesis, everyone is accorded respect for their mutually
exclusive interpretations--except of course the YECs who also have a
believe-it-even-if-it-is-not-true theology. After all, one can show a YEC
how false his views are and he will still believe them. I fail to see an
epistemological difference between the two camps.
>
> >One loses all the colour if one classifies tham as black or white. Glenn
is wrong in
> >saying that his 13+ interpretations are mutuality exclusive and are ad
hoc. Rather, they have a common central core of
> >truth -- that God created the heavens and the earth.
>
> It would be nice if you would talk to me rather than to the crowd. You can
do this by saying "You are wrong..." rather than 'Glenn is wrong..." To do
the latter is to talk about me as if I were some poor unintelligent specimen
in a petri dish who can't understand what you are saying about me. I would
appreciate being treated as human and as if I am actually here.
>
> Gee, without seeing these 13 you seem to know exactly what they are. You
must have ESP. But, since I said the 13 were about Genesis 2, which has
nothing about the creation of the world but everything to do with the
creation of MAN, you clearly don't even read what is written, much less have
ESP. I am glad you can tell their commonalities even though you don't read
what I wrote or look at what is referred to. That is quite a talent you
have. You could make money in Las Vegas.
>
> I guess I am really tired of Christians teaching illogic---on both sides
of the divide and not admitting it. I at least will admit where my theories
are weak. I haven't exactly seen a rush from the others here to do the same.
I would think that most appear to think that they have no weaknesses in
their position.
>
> *****
>
> DAvid Opderbeck wrote:
> >Glenn, this was interesting for a while, but it's getting tiresome. You
keep mischaracterizing my position -- I never said,
> >for example, that a tradition never changes.
>
> YOu said, and I quote:
> "If we assume the Green Slug cult has a similar millenia old tradition and
such, then the reinterpretation of the Green Slug myth in light of current
scientific knowledge is perfectly consistent, coherent and valid. Which is
exactly my point. " http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200602/0100.html
>
> That statement would imply that if you don't have a millennia long
tradition, you can't reinterpret sluggism in an allegorical means. If you
no longer accept this statement please recant. Because:
>
> When I draw the conclusions of what you say, you don't like it. If one is
only permitted to use the accommodationalist approach IF and only if there
is a tradition of that religion using it, but if not, he is NOT allowed to
use it, then you have conceived an unchangeable interpretive scheme whether
or not you want to acknowledge it. How is one to introduce new
interpretations if the previous tradition didn't consider such issues?
Please tell me that and it might clear things up.
>
>
> >Then you throw around epithets like "silly" and "nonsense," mention your
> >studies in philosophy, logic, or whatever else it was you studied, all
the while sidestepping any substantive engagement
> >with anything I've said. Typical listserv / blog / web board nonsense
argumentation.
>
> Well, you acted as if I didn't know what logical positivism was. I was
merely trying to point out that I do indeed know a wee bit about it. So far,
I haven't seen substantive engagement. I have seen lawyerly argumentation
which requires that no one use anything which doesn't have a previous
tradition. If that impression of your approach is wrong, then say so
plainly. But I quote you from an earlier post saying exactly that. (see
above)
>
>
> >The bottom line is that though you want to distance yourself from
positivism, it seems to me that your arguments and the >Sluggist hypo are
classicly positivist arguments of the sort that atheists who've read their
Bertrand Russell and Richard
> >Dawkins make every day. If you define all your questions and all the
parameters of your questions to get certain >answers, don't be surprised at
the answers you get. If I'm wrong about this, tell me, how do you define
truth and what >criteria do you use to determine the validity of a given
truth claim? Are empirically verifiable / falsifiable claims the only
> >meaningful truth claims?
>
> I have already said that Godel has shown that some statements can't be
proven true even if they are. The same thing goes for theories (See Gregory
Chaitin's quite fascinating article in this months Scientific American).
But do you not think that when a statement has empirical consequences we
should be able to go check those consequences to see if they actually
happened? That is what I hear you saying.
>
> I would also point out that one can't prove that you love your wife, that
you feel happy, that you are thinking about going fishing this weekend or
that there is a moon around one of those planets astronomers have found. I
do think those statements meaningful So, you can cease
the unthinking attempts to label me a logical positivist.
>
>
>
Received on Tue Feb 21 12:18:32 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Feb 21 2006 - 12:18:32 EST