Re: [asa] philological notes on randomness (was: Re: What my tiny little brain was thinking...)

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sun Nov 15 2009 - 13:53:33 EST


You are quite correct, formally speaking, that silence implies nothing. However, in debates like these, we are dealing not with pure logic but with human beings with strongly entrenched positions, sometimes rooted in religious commitments, sometimes rooted in professional pride, etc. I have observed in my lifetime, as a matter of empirical fact, that under these conditions, silence quite often implies inability to refute a point, and/or an unwillingness to publically grant it.

Your idea of "argument" is quite an interesting one. You say that my argument was poor. Then, without any reference to my actual argument, i.e., without any reference to my detailed discussion of Greek, Hebrew, semantics, syntax, literary context, etc., you give me a list of translations which disagree with me, as if that refutes my argument. Since you are concerned about logical fallacies, you might notice that you have committed one here yourself: appealing to authority. But this is what I should have expected, I guess. You also appeal to authority when you argue in favour of AGW, and when you argue in favour of neo-Darwinian evolution.
As for your translations below, I would have thought that my detailed discussion would have convinced you that I have enough knowledge to dance toe-to-toe with the translators, but perhaps you aren't well-enough versed in philology to make that determination, so I'll let that pass. However, since I do know something about this subject, I'll say that you don't seem to understand how one translation influences another, and that you therefore don't have nearly as many "independent witnesses" as you think you do. Darby and ASV took "at a venture" from the King James, for example. Also, you have to take into account that many of the "translations" you appeal to are either paraphrases, or very bad translations; e.g., The Message, The Amplified Bible, The New King James Bible. No serious Bible scholar cares in the slightest about what these translations say, any more than Ken Miller cares about what Duane Gish has to say. As for the Holman and Darby translations, they are negligible. Even the NIV, so celebrated by Protestant evangelicals, is an over-rated translation, looser in many cases than either the King James or the Revised Standard Version. I also don't seem to see many Catholic translations on your list, and I wonder why.

Anyhow, since I make an independent argument for what the verse means (which is what trained religion scholars are supposed to do, by the way), how others have translated it in the past are not relevant *as arguments* against my translation. If you are capable of refuting my *argument*, please do so. Otherwise, why not concede the point?

By the way, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. You accuse me of claiming (which I don't) to know more biology than the biologists, more science than the climatologists, etc., when in fact your posts give the impression that you believe yourself to be an expert in both fields, since you claim to be able to referee between Ph.D.s in climatology who disagree about AGW, and between Ph.D.s in the life sciences who disagree about design in nature. How could you referee differences between the experts if you were not yourself a peer of the experts? It's odd; I have friends with degrees in electrical engineering (your field, if I understand correctly from your posts), and they do not have the amazing ability to make final judgments in other scientific fields that you seem to have. They reserve their "air of finality" for questions belonging to electrical engineering.

Best wishes,

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Rich Blinne
  To: Cameron Wybrow
  Cc: asa ; Randy Isaac
  Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 9:22 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] philological notes on randomness (was: Re: What my tiny little brain was thinking...)

  On Nov 14, 2009, at 10:22 PM, Cameron Wybrow wrote:

    I notice that you did not reply to my philological information about the Biblical passage you cited. I don't know how to interpret your silence on the question. But perhaps the original argument came from Randy, not you. Still, you implicitly endorsed it by reproducing it as an argument. Should you not consider retracting your support for the argument, having become aware that the English translation you used is at best highly questionable and probably downright misleading?

  Any study of logical fallacies should tell you that what you should conclude from my silence is NOTHING. The real reason I was silent was your argument was so poor it required no refutation (much like when the defense rests immediately after the prosecution has made its case). Let's look at my highly questionable translation:

  NIV: at random
  NASB: at random
  The Message: without aiming
  Amplified Bible: at random
  NLT: randomly shot
  KJV: at a venture
  ESV: at random
  CEV: without even aiming
  NKJV: at random
  NCV: by chance
  21st Century KJV: at random
  ASV: at a venture
  Darby: at a venture
  Holman: without taking special aim
  NiRV: without taking aim
  NIV (UK): at random
  Today's NIV: at random

  Let's chalk another area for you. You know more biology than the biologists, more climate science than the climatologists, and now more about Bible translation than the language scholars. I'm impressed.

  Rich Blinne
  Member ASA

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Received on Sun Nov 15 13:54:29 2009

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