Man vs. God

edited September 2009 in Religion & Philosophy
I've asked before in various ways... Which scientific experiment is it that proves that science is the only means to gain the truth?
«134

Comments

  • Good article, too long to copypasta the whole thing, read it here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... TopStories
  • Nice debate. I think the first part by Ms. Armstrong gets to the heart of the matter and points to the ultimate folly of hardcore atheism (as opposed to agnosticim). Namely that we are not capable of understanding the overwhelming complexity of our nature and existence scientifically, and that a reliance on and embracing of mystery and faith is not optional for us.

    Our empirical understanding improves all the time, as scientific knowledge advances, but we are really only scratching the surface, if that, of what our existence means and implies. If anything our advancing scientific knowledge continues to show us how much more complicated, mind-boggling and overwhelming the universe is than we previously suspected. Yet our consciousness compels us to find some meaning and purpose in our world, for our suffering, for our existence. This compulsion to justify our worth and reason for being is innate and inescapable, and given the limits of how we can use scientific understanding toward that end, an acceptance of mystery and wonder and of things beyond our comprehension is imperative to our functioning.

    Whether Dawkins et al. will admit it, they practice acts of faith and devote themselves to the irrational in just as complicated ways as believers in God.
  • said:

    No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core.[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    Not really. At least, not for me. I was a theistic evolutionist for a while. Faith-shaking from evolution was never a part of my experience.

    said:

    In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence...[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    Who? Among influential Christian thinkers, impersonal Deism was certainly not a part of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, or Calvin's thinking.

    said:

    The Genesis creation hymn, written during the Israelites' exile in Babylonia in the 6th century BC, was a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion.[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    This does not comport with any scholastic analysis of Genesis. For one thing, Genesis 1-2:3 is not a Jewish hymn (song) because it does not use any Hebraic song devices such as parallelism, symbolism, sensation, allegory, and abstract subjects. Hebrew poetry is full of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterite:q8tpg8ro]preterite verbs[/url:q8tpg8ro]. Genesis 1-2:3 has practically no preterits. It describes specific people, places, and events, and has no parallelism or allegorical or sensual language. This places it firmly in the literary genre of [b:q8tpg8ro]historical narrative,[/b:q8tpg8ro] alongside other undisputed examples like Judges 4, 1 Kings 9 or 2 Chronicles 34.

    For another thing, her 6th century BC date does not fit modern scholarship. Scholars used to think writing did not exist in Moses' day (1500s BC), but we now posses fragments of language [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_writing#Proto-writing:q8tpg8ro]dating a millennium earlier than Moses[/url:q8tpg8ro].

    Now that the largest objection to a Mosaic authorship has been dismantled, there's little reason to cling to the 600 BC date, and likewise Armstrong's fanciful imagining that Genesis is a "gentle polemic against Babylonian religion."

    said:

    Not once do any of these creatures disobey one jot or tittle of the laws of physics. Far from violating the laws of thermodynamics (as is often ignorantly alleged) they are relentlessly driven by them.[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    Dawkins is intentionally misunderstanding the criticism. [b:q8tpg8ro]Life[/b:q8tpg8ro] does not violate any laws. [b:q8tpg8ro]Origination[/b:q8tpg8ro] of life does. Origination of [b:q8tpg8ro]new features[/b:q8tpg8ro] do.

    said:

    Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex...and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from simpler beginnings....[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    Dawkins' premise is that [b:q8tpg8ro]all[/b:q8tpg8ro] things [b:q8tpg8ro]must[/b:q8tpg8ro] have a beginning, therefore all things emerge by gradual degress from simpler beginnings, including any God. But why should I accept his premise? The Judeo-Christian God is defined as being uncreated, eternal, outside of the universe, the creator of the universe. Such an intelligence [b:q8tpg8ro]could[/b:q8tpg8ro] create the universe with such low-entropy specific order.

    Perhaps if Dawkins didn't keep turning down debate invitations, he might not have made the two mistakes above.

    said:

    Whether Dawkins et al. will admit it, they practice acts of faith and devote themselves to the irrational in just as complicated ways as believers in God.[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    Yeah, like this quote:

    said:

    Darwinian evolution is the only process we know that is ultimately capable of generating anything as complicated as creative intelligences.[/quote:q8tpg8ro]
    This hasn't been observed or repeated in a lab, nor can it fundamentally ever be. It's a complicated induction. Yet Dawkins states this with the same conviction that the sun rose today, but that statement was arrived at by a completely different process.

  • Mohler notes that one (Dawkins) knows he's an atheist, the other (Armstrong) doesn't know that she is one...

    http://www.albertmohler.com/
  • said:

    Mohler notes that one (Dawkins) knows he's an atheist, the other (Armstrong) doesn't know that she is one...

    http://www.albertmohler.com/[/quote:8ys8bg9i]
    So anyone that doesn't take a literal view of the Bible is an Atheist? I think that guy doesn't know what "atheist" means, because he seems to just apply it to anyone that doesn't believe what he does.

  • said:

    said:

    Mohler notes that one (Dawkins) knows he's an atheist, the other (Armstrong) doesn't know that she is one...

    http://www.albertmohler.com/[/quote:1q40f9bp]
    So anyone that doesn't take a literal view of the Bible is an Atheist? I think that guy doesn't know what "atheist" means, because he seems to just apply it to anyone that doesn't believe what he does.[/quote:1q40f9bp]

    I think he knows very well what "atheist" means -- but many of the folks runnign around and talking about that term do not. Back them in the corner and they start waffling when asked simple questions like, "So, you KNOW beyond a doubt that there is no god?"

    What Mohler pointed out was the "practical atheism" of a purported Christian (Armstrong) who neither follows the teachings of Christ, nor the Bible that contain those teachings.

    One question for you... What religion, exactly, is someone who does not believe or follow the tenets of the Bible nor believe in the actual God presented therein?

    http://www.amazon.com/Atheism-Remix-Chr ... 568&sr=1-3

  • said:

    So anyone that doesn't take a literal view of the Bible is an Atheist? I think that guy doesn't know what "atheist" means, because he seems to just apply it to anyone that doesn't believe what he does.[/quote:1k6a64xy]

    I draw a similar message from that blog post.

    [quote:1k6a64xy]"Well, if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very lonely creek," Dawkins warns. "The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. If sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the importance of existence, they should think again."[/quote:1k6a64xy]

    Just begging the question of how Gibraltar exists doesn't answer anything.

    [quote:1k6a64xy]We should at least give Dawkins credit here for knowing what he rejects. Here we meet an atheist who understands the difference between belief and unbelief. [/quote:1k6a64xy]

    This is interesting. Mohler appears to identify with the certitude of Dawkins' faith, and reject Armstrong's lack of expressed certitude.

    said:

    What Mohler pointed out was the "practical atheism" of a purported Christian (Armstrong) who neither follows the teachings of Christ, nor the Bible that contain those teachings. [/quote:1k6a64xy]

    You know this how?

    said:

    One question for you... What religion, exactly, is someone who does not believe or follow the tenets of the Bible nor believe in the actual God presented therein?[/quote:1k6a64xy]

    That's an interesting way to phrase the question. Presumably, there is a sense in which any monotheism believes in the same singular God, even if he would dispute the historicity of any specific text about that singular God.

  • Armstrong is not an unknown entity in Christian circles... She's published before.

    You'd have to know the level of theological discussion that goes back and forth in Christian circles to grasp just how much, and at what level, all this stuff is hashed out. There are about 30 influential journals that you can start with, and move out from there...

    My question is posed with the thought that someone claiming Christianity as their religion, yet who fails to follow any of the tenets of Christianity is obviously some other brand. Name it and claim it -- move forward -- but don't argue that you are something that you cannot defend.

    On that light, we have recognized "religions" -- all monotheistic -- that are separated from each other, namely Judiasm, Islam, and Christianity. I would lump the liberal "christians" into their own separate category, apart from any of the other three, for they go their own way and make up their own tenets, most of which do not dovetail with any of the other three views. One might question the source of their information -- basically human reason alone -- but I'm not debating the veracity of their belief, only that it is not Christian.
  • said:

    Armstrong is not an unknown entity in Christian circles... She's published before.

    You'd have to know the level of theological discussion that goes back and forth in Christian circles to grasp just how much, and at what level, all this stuff is hashed out. There are about 30 influential journals that you can start with, and move out from there...[/quote:2mye5w9a]

    No pictures? What a gyp!

    said:

    My question is posed with the thought that someone claiming Christianity as their religion, yet who fails to follow any of the tenets of Christianity is obviously some other brand.[/quote:2mye5w9a]

    She doesn't follow [i:2mye5w9a]any[/i:2mye5w9a] of them? Even Hindus follow some of them, f[i:2mye5w9a]erchistsake[/i:2mye5w9a] (pun).

    said:

    On that light, we have recognized "religions" -- all monotheistic -- that are separated from each other, namely Judiasm, Islam, and Christianity. I would lump the liberal "christians" into their own separate category, apart from any of the other three, for they go their own way and make up their own tenets, most of which do not dovetail with any of the other three views.[/quote:2mye5w9a]

    Yet, you would agree that not being a muslim, joo or christian doesn't make one an atheist, correct?

    You would also agree that the distance between orthodox christianity and baptism shows a fairly wide range of practice and theology within christianity, correct?

    I googled her before posting this, and from my cursory search she certainly appears to be an ecumenical asshat who prioritises her gooey liberalism over her own tradition of christian dogma. These people are endlessly annoying, do lots of harm to conventional theology, and are generally a clarity killing tumor. I don't see any frank repudiation of her RCism though. Has she done that? Is it just as likely that she is an especially flawed christian, but still believes in the divinity of JC?

    Atheism is a faith that God doesn't exist. Has she made any assertion that God doesn't exist? I would like to see something like that before accusing her of atheism as Mohler does.

  • said:



    You'd have to know the level of theological discussion that goes back and forth in Christian circles to grasp just how much, and at what level, all this stuff is hashed out. There are about 30 influential journals that you can start with, and move out from there...[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    No pictures? What a gyp!

    She's a nun.

    said:

    said:

    My question is posed with the thought that someone claiming Christianity as their religion, yet who fails to follow any of the tenets of Christianity is obviously some other brand.[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    She doesn't follow [i:7zjam6bv]any[/i:7zjam6bv] of them? Even Hindus follow some of them, f[i:7zjam6bv]erchistsake[/i:7zjam6bv] (pun).[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    Your lawyer is poking out... Better check your zipper. :lol:

    Of course she follows some of them, as you indicate, some are so generic that virtually everyone follows. the problem is that she is arguing against an AUTHENTIC and ACTUAL God in favor of the "concept of god" which, yes, actually makes her an atheist. A "concept of god" is borne only in the mind and reason of the human being -- something even conventional athesist Dawkins is quick to point out -- and that concept is really the same old atheist saw, "I know everything and because of that, I KNOW there is no real God."

    said:

    said:

    On that light, we have recognized "religions" -- all monotheistic -- that are separated from each other, namely Judiasm, Islam, and Christianity. I would lump the liberal "christians" into their own separate category, apart from any of the other three, for they go their own way and make up their own tenets, most of which do not dovetail with any of the other three views.[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    Yet, you would agree that not being a muslim, joo or christian doesn't make one an atheist, correct?

    You would also agree that the distance between orthodox christianity and baptism shows a fairly wide range of practice and theology within christianity, correct?[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    Granted, belief in some form of god technically makes one something other than an atheist. I've explained above why Amstrong is a problem in that regard. Belief in self as god may not qualify.

    said:

    I googled her before posting this, and from my cursory search she certainly appears to be an ecumenical asshat who prioritises her gooey liberalism over her own tradition of christian dogma. These people are endlessly annoying, do lots of harm to conventional theology, and are generally a clarity killing tumor. I don't see any frank repudiation of her RCism though. Has she done that? Is it just as likely that she is an especially flawed christian, but still believes in the divinity of JC?[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    As long as she posits her own personal theology, based on her own personal reason, and that theology states that god is only a concept, she has effectively repudiated her RC roots.

    said:

    Atheism is a faith that God doesn't exist. Has she made any assertion that God doesn't exist? I would like to see something like that before accusing her of atheism as Mohler does.[/quote:7zjam6bv]

    Is it a "faith" or "knowledge?"

  • said:

    A "concept of god" is borne[u:23uyb7fb] only [/u:23uyb7fb]in the mind and reason of the human being ...[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    I underlined [u:23uyb7fb]only[/u:23uyb7fb]. Is that her assertion, or your conclusion about her own theology?

    said:

    the problem is that she is arguing against an AUTHENTIC and ACTUAL God in favor of the "concept of god" which, yes, actually makes her an atheist. [/quote:23uyb7fb]

    I don't follow your reasoning here. How do you determine that she argues against an authentic God? How would arguing in favor of the idea of God make anyone an atheist? On its face that would be an odd act for someone who asserts there is no God.

    said:

    ...something even conventional athesist Dawkins is quick to point out -- and that concept is really the same old atheist saw, "I know everything and because of that, I KNOW there is no real God."[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    Arguing in favor of the concept of God is the same as arguing that one is omniscient? How?

    said:

    Granted, belief in some form of god technically makes one something other than an atheist. I've explained above why Amstrong is a problem in that regard. Belief in self as god may not qualify.[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    Technically? What I've seen of the woman I don't like. Yet, I see no indication that she asserts she is God.

    said:

    As long as she posits [1]her own personal theology, [2]based on her own personal reason, and [3]that theology states that god is only a concept, she has effectively repudiated her RC roots.[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    I don't think the first two parts are correct. I agree the third is if she has asserted the [u:23uyb7fb]only[/u:23uyb7fb] you attribute to her.

    said:

    said:

    Atheism is a faith that God doesn't exist. Has she made any assertion that God doesn't exist? I would like to see something like that before accusing her of atheism as Mohler does.[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    Is it a "faith" or "knowledge?"[/quote:23uyb7fb]

    The difference between the two is degree of certainty. The more we think about how we come to know things, the more we realise that it all rests on faith.

    Whether someone characterises a belief as a "faith" or a "knowledge" generally only discloses whether they are friendly or antagonistic to it.

  • Another blog that speaks to the atheism of Armstrong. This one FROM an atheist...

    http://machineslikeus.com/news/big-tent-atheists

    [quote:3q7arz0x]The fifth category consists of the people I have been writing about recently, such as Karen Armstrong, H. E. Baber, and Robert Wright. They are the people who say they do believe in a god but when they go on to describe their object of belief, it turns out that they do not believe in anything that any traditional believer could relate to, since their god does absolutely nothing but seems to be simply an idea or an object of contemplation. I have called these people worshippers in the Church of the Slacker God but a snappier label for them might be the seemingly oxymoronic religious atheists.

    Interestingly, R. Albert Mohler, who is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also sees people like Armstrong as atheists, whatever they call themselves, and seems to agree with me that that her kind of defense of god essentially concedes the debate to atheists. He calls Armstrong's argument 'superficial' and 'theologically reckless' and 'elegant nonsense', writing that "the exchange in The Wall Street Journal [between Armstrong and Richard Dawkins] turns out to be a meeting of two atheist minds. The difference, of course, is that one knows he is an atheist when the other presumably claims she is not. Dawkins knows a fellow atheist when he sees one. Careful readers of The Wall Street Journal will come to the same conclusion."[/quote:3q7arz0x]
  • Guy, does your use of the link indicate that the answers to my questions above are that your conclusions about Armstrong are derived from secondary sources, or just that others share your analysis of her writing?
    said:

    Another blog that speaks to the atheism of Armstrong. This one FROM an atheist...

    http://machineslikeus.com/news/big-tent-atheists[/quote:311gyzqp]

    I am intrigued by your reliance or concurrence on this point with a professed atheist.

    There is a history of atheists claiming to be more than a miniscule and odd minority. They sometimes do this by claiming agnostics as atheists, often calling them "soft" atheists. They grasp at any ordinary doubt as evidence of atheism and claim the material sciences and its methodological materialism as support for their profession of atheist belief. They sometimes expand this generally, as your author does, to claim virtually all functional and reasoning elements of society as atheistic; people functioning as atheists and suffering a sort of false consciousness about their religions.

    This approach has two benefits for atheists:

    1. It expands their claimed population to a great majority of all people at all times, making their faith seem less odd.

    2. It relegates the religious or deistic to the irrational, disproven, inferior or non-functional.

    It seems that only two sorts of people have an interest in dividing people that way: Atheists who seek to swell their numbers by claiming many of the fruits of a religious history as their own, and religious people who are uncomfortable with the scrutiny that accompanies the demands of human reason.

    I don't belong to either group.

  • I have to agree, Armstrong certainly comes across more as an agnostic than an atheist. And as Matt points out, a lot of atheists have a yearning to count agnostics among their number with the old "soft atheism" tactic, which I have nothing but contempt for. Agnosticism and atheism are even more unrelated than atheism vs. theism, IMHO. Atheism and theism are both faith-based doctrines, albeit having faith in opposing and mutually exclusive cosmologies, whereas agnosticism takes nothing on faith.

    Qwinn
  • Guy, the end of your author's link betrays the purpose of his classifications.

    [quote:107rjzke][u:107rjzke]The people known as 'accommodationists', who claim that the scientific and religious worldviews are either compatible [/u:107rjzke]or feel that the incompatibility should not be highlighted, can be found in all these groups. That label describes less of a personal belief and more of a preference for a political strategy.

    So we see that atheists are 'big tent' people, welcoming all those who seek to escape from the intellectual straitjacket that religions put on people.

    [/quote:107rjzke]

    According to the underlined, RCs are accomodationist atheists. In this view, religion is an intellectual straightjacket rather than the proper exercise of man's reason.
  • said:

    I have to agree, Armstrong certainly comes across more as an agnostic than an atheist. And as Matt points out, a lot of atheists have a yearning to count agnostics among their number with the old "soft atheism" tactic, which I have nothing but contempt for. Agnosticism and atheism are even more unrelated than atheism vs. theism, IMHO. Atheism and theism are both faith-based doctrines, albeit having faith in opposing and mutually exclusive cosmologies, whereas agnosticism takes nothing on faith.

    Qwinn[/quote:es4eahag]
    Yet try arguing the absurdity of the position. It's maddening. They are theological transvestites who refuse to acknowledge their failed surgery.

  • Answers in Genesis, a Christian young-earth creationist group, wrote this about Armstrong:
    said:

    For her part, Karen Armstrong dredged up a mix of syncretism (all religions are really the same), split magesteria (religion and science do not address the “same questions”), and post-modern revisionistic history (beginning with the assumption that the Bible cannot be taken at face value). Her argument is best summed up with her claim that
    [quote:ola6oj4l][r]eligion was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason but to help us live creatively with realities for which there are no easy solutions and find an interior haven of peace; today, however, many have opted for unsustainable certainty instead.[/quote:ola6oj4l]
    The god she proposes, however, is not God at all. Her god cannot be known, since that is idol worship; he cannot interact with the universe, since “science” (i.e., naturalism) informs us as to reality; and he cannot communicate clearly—if at all—since her god is whatever myth, enlightenment, or nirvana suits a particular person. This god of hers is nothing more than that “which cannot easily be put into words.” Thus, her god is a powerless, useless appendage to the universe. Faith without certainty is not faith (Hebrews 11:16)—it is agnosticism dressed up with spiritual words.[/quote:ola6oj4l]
    They, of course, had predictable words to say about Dawkins, but critiquing him is shooting fish in a barrel, and done plenty times over. [url=http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/09/19/news-to-note-09192009#five:ola6oj4l]Here's[/url:ola6oj4l] the full article.

  • said:

    Faith without certainty is not faith (Hebrews 11:16)—it is agnosticism dressed up with spiritual words.[/quote:1vzio5uz]

    Perfect certainty is an illusion enjoyed by people who fail to ask questions. (Zuk 9.21.09)

    That's the illusion that makes people like Harris and Dawkins seems so ignorant. Faith and doubt seem two parts of a whole. It is difficult to see how one could exist without the other.

  • said:

    But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn't with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord!"
    But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
    After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be to you." Then he said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don't be unbelieving, but believing."
    Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
    Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed." John 20:24-30 [/quote:1pwiau42]

    Doubt can also increase faith - particularly when the subject(s) of that doubt is ultimately revealed to counter the original inclination. I think Jesus understood angst and doubt quite well, which is why He specifically addresses it to those future converts in the last verse of the above exchange.

  • [quote:2rfoh7me]Her god cannot be known, since that is idol worship;[/quote:2rfoh7me]
    That is not her argument. Saying that the totality of God is beyond our comprehension is not the same as saying that God cannot be known at all.

    [quote:2rfoh7me]he cannot interact with the universe, since “science” (i.e., naturalism) informs us as to reality; [/quote:2rfoh7me]
    Armstrong also does not argue that God "cannot interact with the universe," another strawman. She argues that we should not set aside reason, a gift from God, in our attempt to understand our universe merely because reconciling our reason with revelation is difficult.

    [quote:2rfoh7me]and he cannot communicate clearly—if at all—since her god is whatever myth, enlightenment, or nirvana suits a particular person. [/quote:2rfoh7me]
    I don't know if this is what Armstrong believes or not. If she truly believes that one theology is just as good as another as long as it embraces some form of mystical belief, I agree she is wrong. I haven't read enough of her, but I doubt that is her point. It would seem to me that to Armstrong, the embracing of various myths all over the world is proof of God communicating with us. The differences between the myths may very well have to do with the perversions of His message wrought by our own self-gratifying desires. I certainly think one can believe that God communicates perfectly clearly, but because of the worldly attachments we choose and our own self-absorbtion we make it hard to hear Him clearly. I think one could read Armstrong as emphasizing that the first and most essential aspect of faith, the embrace of the mystical, as the most important element of religion, without seeing her as arguing the equal validity of all theological systems.

    [quote:2rfoh7me]This god of hers is nothing more than that “which cannot easily be put into words.” [/quote:2rfoh7me]
    She doesn't say the God is [i:2rfoh7me]nothing more[/i:2rfoh7me] that that which can't be described. This is a blatant, outright and deliberate distortion of her argument. Why the need to twist her words, I wonder?
  • Thundersnow:

    [quote:2pb2bed6]Yet try arguing the absurdity of the position. It's maddening. They are theological transvestites who refuse to acknowledge their failed surgery.[/quote:2pb2bed6]

    I have no idea who you are referring to by "they".

    Qwinn
  • said:

    said:

    Her god cannot be known, since that is idol worship;[/quote:24shdr75]
    That is not her argument. Saying that the totality of God is beyond our comprehension is not the same as saying that God cannot be known at all.[/quote:24shdr75]
    I re-read her piece. A bit of back-history with AIG, they are on a bent about resting on the authority of God's Word for everything. Last week they wrote:

    said:

    [W]e are very narrow and “intolerant” of [i:24shdr75]non-biblical[/i:24shdr75] views—even non-biblical approaches to apologetics. But God demands nothing less. We are to have all of our thoughts “taken captive” into obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), not just some or most of our thoughts. Everything we say and do should reflect the glory of our Lord and Savior; straight and narrow is the way, even in our apologetic approach.[/quote:24shdr75]
    Since God cannot lie, is infallible, and the Bible contains His truthful and accurate revelation to us, we can be certain that what it talks about is true.

    With that in mind, they look at what Armstrong is doing. In the first paragraph, she affirms man's fallible reasoning about earth history utilizing the philosophy of naturalism (nature is all there is; God is not involved), and points out how this is the exact opposite of what the Bible describes.

    Since the Bible is clearly "wrong" in the light of man's naturalistic ideas, what then was God saying in the Bible? Not what He plainly wrote, of course! What else is wrong in the Bible that we don't know about yet? Therefore, we can't really know anything about God from the Bible. AIG, finding no other reliable source, says nothing about God can then be known.

    On second read, I think AIG [i:24shdr75]is[/i:24shdr75] wrong about the idol part; you are right in part. I think they misunderstood Armstrong's ideas of "God beyond God" versus "idols of certainty," though I think her two concepts are flawed. Her "God beyond God" is too spiritualized-whatever-you-want-to-make-of-it, which is understandable if the Bible can't be trusted. The "idols of certainty" are not quite right. Yes, resting one's faith in God on specific evidences or arguments is not resting one's faith in God Himself. AIG warns this, too.* But certainty is most definitely a part of the Christian faith. The Christian's faith in God is the same strength of faith as in the immutability of history. Since God cannot lie, what He promises in the future cannot [b:24shdr75]not[/b:24shdr75] happen; they must be as actual as our past. Our hope in future glorification is not a wishy-washy adjective, but a solid verb that is strongly held with certainty because God has said it is so. If God cannot be trusted to say what He plainly says in the Bible, our hope is futile and we are to be pitied most among men (1 Cor 15). Armstrong does not get this.

    said:

    said:

    he cannot interact with the universe, since “science” (i.e., naturalism) informs us as to reality;[/quote:24shdr75]
    Armstrong also does not argue that God "cannot interact with the universe," another strawman. She argues that we should not set aside reason, a gift from God, in our attempt to understand our universe merely because reconciling our reason with revelation is difficult.[/quote:24shdr75]
    Here's what Armstrong wrote:

    said:

    Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making.[/quote:24shdr75]
    It doesn't look like a strawman to me. Perhaps AIG's "cannot" = Armstrong's "did not". AIG is correct in that Armstrong appeals to man's ideas of the naturalistic history of the world over God's infallible eyewitness account. Naturalism informs her at to reality. If everything Armstrong sees is filtered by her preconception of naturalism, even if God [i:24shdr75]did[/i:24shdr75] interact, Armstrong would just see (new) natural laws. So in a real sense, God "cannot," as AIG correctly summarizes.

    said:

    said:

    and he cannot communicate clearly—if at all—since her god is whatever myth, enlightenment, or nirvana suits a particular person.[/quote:24shdr75]
    I don't know if this is what Armstrong believes or not.[/quote:24shdr75]
    From her essay, it is clear she does. See above for an explanation. I think she worked out every possible logical response to her opening paragraph and concluded rightly. The flaw, of course, is her first paragraph. Naturalism is false, and man's ideas don't trump God's Word. Natural evidence, interpreted through the lens of God's Word, affirms what God said about the world. But this is another topic.

    said:

    said:

    This god of hers is nothing more than that “which cannot easily be put into words.”[/quote:24shdr75]
    She doesn't say the God is [i:24shdr75]nothing more[/i:24shdr75] that that which can't be described. This is a blatant, outright and deliberate distortion of her argument. Why the need to twist her words, I wonder?[/quote:24shdr75]
    This gets back to what I think is AIG's misunderstanding of Armstrong's "God beyond God." Nevertheless, Armstrong [b:24shdr75]does[/b:24shdr75] make a case for some hyperspiritualized god-concept. She wrote, "In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call "God" is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence...." Also, she makes clear in her first paragraph that God's plain communication cannot be taken at face value because man's naturalistic ideas of the world trump it. That leaves all of scripture in shambles (which Dawkins is quick to clean up). The only place left for God, logically, is an amorphous spiritualized concept that can be whatever you'd like.

    The doctrine of God's love? You can't really point to scripture since that was shredded, you can't look to nature either because that's red in tooth and claw, but you can [i:24shdr75]"feel"[/i:24shdr75] his love.

    * This explains why she says Darwin has shaken the faith of so many fundamentalist Christians "to the core." My faith in God does not rest on evidences and arguments, so I haven't experienced this "core shaking" she mentions.

  • I don't think the quotes you cite from Armstrong where she describes the materialist viewpoint regarding evolution should be read as an endorsement of that viewpoint. I believe she is merely establishing a point of view with which she disagrees, partially anyway. I.E. it is certainly possible to believe in natural selection and evolution for example, and still believe that mankind was the ultimate goal of God's design. Or that God can and does still exert his own influence on a system of natural selection in ways both obvious (sending his son) and beyond our detection.

    I think Armstrong's critics are making a deliberate effort to ignore nuance.
  • Buho, something I often notice in bible-centric advocates is particularly relevent in this exchange.
    said:

    ...the Bible contains His truthful and accurate revelation to us, we can be certain that what it talks about is true.

    ***

    The "idols of certainty" are not quite right. Yes, resting one's faith in God on specific evidences or arguments is not resting one's faith in God Himself. AIG warns this, too.* But certainty is most definitely a part of the Christian faith.[/quote:2n95asgc]

    Certainty of what? That "the book" itself is infallible or perfect? If not fetish or idol worship, this certainty seems something akin to it.

    I think Guy did a fine job recently of explaining that different parts of the Bible are examples of different genres. Even a person who puts great stock in biblical text would not reasonably read poetry the same way he would a historic narrative.

    said:

    The doctrine of God's love? You can't really point to scripture since that was shredded, ...[/quote:2n95asgc]

    Shredded? Perhaps it would be reasonable to have questions, concerns or doubts about parts of the Bible (in any of its versions) but still consider it an important part of the tradition of christianity. It seems unnecessary to believe in and value with certainty each part of the Bible equally, or do disrergard it entirely, unless it suits your purpose to exclude a middle ground.

    said:

    I think Armstrong's critics are making a deliberate effort to ignore nuance.[/quote:2n95asgc]

    My approximate sense is that Armstrong has many critics she has fully earned, but that some of the criticism of her in this thread, Mohler's included, rests on odd reasoning.

    Not sharing your brand of christianity does not equal atheism. Even agnosticism isn't atheism.

    I get the sense that the Mohler critic reflects a tactic of labelling your opponent in an intramural christian argument as no real christian at all. It lacks proportion.

  • said:

    said:

    But certainty is most definitely a part of the Christian faith.[/quote:10fqr3b2]
    Certainty of what? That "the book" itself is infallible or perfect? If not fetish or idol worship, this certainty seems something akin to it.[/quote:10fqr3b2]
    See the rest of the paragraph you quoted me from for your answer.

    For clarification, I have confidence that my God can communicate to us specific things in an understandable way, which are collected into the Bible. Certainty rests in God.

    If you could see my Bible you could tell I don't idolize it; it looks like it's been mauled by a weasel. As soon as the binding gives way, I'm tossing it in the trash and buying another.

    said:

    I think Guy did a fine job recently of explaining that different parts of the Bible are examples of different genres. Even a person who puts great stock in biblical text would not reasonably read poetry the same way he would a historic narrative.[/quote:10fqr3b2]
    Yeah, Guy did a good job.

    said:

    It seems unnecessary to believe in and value with certainty each part of the Bible equally, or do disrergard it entirely, unless it suits your purpose to exclude a middle ground.[/quote:10fqr3b2]
    This is a good question for the Christians who deny a literal six-day creation: If "science" leads you to deny this, does "science" lead you to deny Jesus' resurrection? Logically, if one denies one, one must deny the other. See 1 Corinthians 15 for what happens when you deny Jesus' resurrection.

    My point (and AIG's, I think), is that if God plainly said something that you have deemed is wrong,* then God is either a liar (and not worth listening to), or being cryptically metaphoric on what would otherwise be plain truths (thus making God unintelligible). Either way, the end result is the Bible is nearly worthless for acquiring divinely-communicated truth. Is there another option?

    * Note my phrasing: it ultimately comes down to man judging God. Are we [i:10fqr3b2]really[/i:10fqr3b2] in a place to do that?

  • [quote:2lm80vug]Shredded? Perhaps it would be reasonable to have questions, concerns or doubts about parts of the Bible (in any of its versions) but still consider it an important part of the tradition of christianity. It seems unnecessary to believe in and value with certainty each part of the Bible equally, or do disrergard it entirely, unless it suits your purpose to exclude a middle ground.[/quote:2lm80vug]

    The conservative Evangelical position holds that the entire Bible is God's word. Though we recognize the various genres of literature, in no way does that recognition lesson the fact, even for an instant or a word, that the entirety is the Word we are to follow.

    The moment one draws a line across some area of the Bible, and from that line starts to decide if this or that is actuall of (or merely about) God, the Christian perspective is already lost. Indeed, it is this division between the two statements, "The Bible is God's Word," and "The Bible contains the words of God," that currently drives the conservative/liberal debate in Christian circles.

    I recommend reading the Chicago Statements for a clarification of the position of those who hold the Bible to be God's Word in entirety.

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html
    http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago2.html
  • Guy, how do you reconcile the truly ludicrous parts of the bible (massive floods wiping out nearly all life on earth, etc.)? Would it be scholarly acceptable to consider them tall tales, aggrandizations of true events?
  • said:

    Guy, how do you reconcile the truly ludicrous parts of the bible (massive floods wiping out nearly all life on earth, etc.)? Would it be scholarly acceptable to consider them tall tales, aggrandizations of true events?[/quote:ds5d57d4]

    The truth is, those parts are only ludicrous because someone said so. There is as much evidence for issues such as a global flood as against it, and from what I've seen, perhaps more. It is not evidence that is in question, but the interpretation of said evidence, and the position of the naturalists is ([i:ds5d57d4]a priori[/i:ds5d57d4]) that the things mentioned in the Bible are impossible. That is neither a fair, nor well-researched position, and for science to decide ANYTHING [i:ds5d57d4]a priori[/i:ds5d57d4], simply because the ramifications of that issue point to a position they do not WANT to hold is equally ludicrous.

    There are, however, portions of the Bible that may be "descriptions" rather than "prescriptions." It is this very simple difference that gets so many people who are not actually fluent in the Scriptures in trouble. They can excuse almost any sort of behavior or doctrine with the phrase, "Well, it says so in the Bible," when in fact what is implied may be in exact opposition to what is stated in the description of some event. That is where the scientific (yes, scientific) study of the text (hermeneutics) comes into play. This is an exacting science, used by true biblical scholars and teachers everywhere. It is contained within the Chicago Statement I linked above.

  • said:

    My point (and AIG's, I think), is that if God plainly said something that you have deemed is wrong,* [/quote:3axu9ckj]
    People who take the Bible less literally than the AIG, or you, don't decide that God was wrong. They decide that the way they themselves, or their tradition, originally interpreted the scripture was wrong or too narrow.

    [quote:3axu9ckj]then God is either a liar (and not worth listening to), or being cryptically metaphoric on what would otherwise be plain truths (thus making God unintelligible). Either way, the end result is the Bible is nearly worthless for acquiring divinely-communicated truth. Is there another option?[/quote:3axu9ckj]
    Asking people to exercise their faculties of reason =/= being unintelligible. When you give children very simplistic morals through fables or simplistic explanations for rules which are later elaborated on as their understanding grows, the original moral or rule they learn does not cease being true. The same is true of scripture, the fundamental and crucial truth of creation doesn't disappear even though the story of Eden is seen by many now as allegorical. As the fruits of human reason (which are gifts from God) multiply, we become capable of understanding God's truth in a more full, multi-dimensional way. Just as children as they grow older learn that the lesson "You shouldn't talk to strangers." remains fundamentally sound, but come to realize it isn't something that should be taken as an absolute imperative, so does scripture remain true, though our reason must now reconcile it with a more deeply understood worldly reality.

  • said:

    said:

    My point (and AIG's, I think), is that if God plainly said something that you have deemed is wrong,* [/quote:ohshdqud]
    People who take the Bible less literally than the AIG, or you, don't decide that God was wrong. They decide that the way they themselves, or their tradition, originally interpreted the scripture was wrong or too narrow.

    [quote:ohshdqud]then God is either a liar (and not worth listening to), or being cryptically metaphoric on what would otherwise be plain truths (thus making God unintelligible). Either way, the end result is the Bible is nearly worthless for acquiring divinely-communicated truth. Is there another option?[/quote:ohshdqud]
    Asking people to exercise their faculties of reason =/= being unintelligible. When you give children very simplistic morals through fables or simplistic explanations for rules which are later elaborated on as their understanding grows, the original moral or rule they learn does not cease being true. The same is true of scripture, the fundamental and crucial truth of creation doesn't disappear even though the story of Eden is seen by many now as allegorical. As the fruits of human reason (which are gifts from God) multiply, we become capable of understanding God's truth in a more full, multi-dimensional way. Just as children as they grow older learn that the lesson "You shouldn't talk to strangers." remains fundamentally sound, but come to realize it isn't something that should be taken as an absolute imperative, so does scripture remain true, though our reason must now reconcile it with a more deeply understood worldly reality.[/quote:ohshdqud]

    All of which is ACTUALLY used to explain away God and the Bible. Thanks for playing...

Sign In or Register to comment.