I enjoyed our breakfast together! Thank you for your Confessions.
What would you point out that I had missed? Did I see the differences in genealogy in Matthew and Luke? Yes. I remember asking a trusted teacher in middle school.
It sounds like we had a similar progression in our biblical awareness. I, too, was aware of the genealogical differences very early on. I was also aware of the “supposed issue” where Jesus was claimed to be fulfilling a prophecy of lineage even though he wasn’t in the specific paternal lineage that the prophecies required. At first, I didn’t concern myself with trying to resolve them. I just trusted that the Bible was inerrant and other people I respected in my faith circles had resolved them, so I didn’t question it further. Later when my doubts were more serious, I looked into apologetic responses and found them plausible. Not as convincing as I’d like, but plausible. It wasn’t until recently that I learned of the parts you didn’t respond to, such as Jesus being a descendent of an ancestor who’s lineage was cursed by God, the misleading or false “begat’s”, the average age of the fathers, the conflict with Paul’s “in the flesh” statement, etc. So, when you say, “Did I see the differences in genealogy”, are you implying that 1) you knew of all these issues already and have overcome them, 2) you didn’t know of all of them but you’re just responding to the easy parts right now and will get to the others later, or 3) you didn’t know of all of it and you plan to not address the more substantive issues in future posts? 🙂
Did I question the sequence of Paul’s conversion in Acts and Galatians? Yes. High school.
Ditto for me, but I mentioned this was a minor issue that I’m not concerned with even now, I just wish it was more convincing since it could be argued that it is the basis for our record of Jesus.
Did I know about Deuteronomy 20? Dear God – – this is genocide – – how could you be good? College.
I think that I was about 18 when I finally read it. I struggled as well and got past it, because His ways are above ours and He is Love. I don’t think I mentioned that chapter in the post you were responding to. I tried to keep it on topic of Romans 1:1-7. Even though it seemed to stray, it was all relevant to claims made in that set of verses.
Why do I still believe and why have I not met you tit for tat, query for answer? I’m in love. There. I said it. The Bible has always been a love letter to me. Even if, especially because, it argues with itself.
OK. I understand. I used to feel the same way. I really do empathize. I don’t want to change your mind, only help you understand my point of view. What that statement says to me is that you want to engage in special pleading because you are emotionally invested in your beliefs. It’s not rational, but you believe it all the same. Is that correct? If not, please forgive me and clarify. If so, I think we’ve come to a great point in this dialogue.
I used to believe and now I do not. It’s not because I didn’t want to believe any longer. It’s because I felt my rational mind would no longer allow me to put my desire first. The biblical problems finally stacked up too high and I could no longer sustain my faith. That’s it. As I see it, that’s the only difference between our points of view. You question some parts of the Bible, but not enough to make your faith insufficient for belief. I questioned more of the Bible and eventually hit that threshold and went past it. It was not a choice or a desire to do so. As I mentioned, in seeking to fulfill 1 Peter 3:15, I feel like I was robbed of my faith. I could no longer justify my belief. You still can. I hope that remains true.
Does your statement above mean you won’t be answering the more difficult challenges against the Bible? And is arguing really a sign of love? Isn’t part of the rationale that the canonizers used for picking the books they did based on the notion that the various books of the Bible represent a single, cohesive message written over time, and that this cohesion could only have been accomplished with the aid of God? If you’re saying that the Bible does indeed argue with itself, doesn’t that provide further evidence that the Bible is not “inspired” by God? You started a few posts back supporting inerrancy (or the trustworthiness of the Bible). After a few exchanges it seems like you have one foot still on the trustworthiness of the Bible, the other on the Bible arguing with itself (i.e. contradicting itself) and yet you claim that your rationalization for standing on both is that you really don’t want to move because you’re in love. This is not a judgement. If that is where you are, I believe I have experienced that position myself. I couldn’t stay there for long, though. I eventually had to take my foot off the “trustworthy” spot and stand firmly with both feet in the arguing/contradictory/untrustworthy spot.
Your approach is that of rationalism. I would suggest that you are employing strong rationalism. By that I mean that you are applying the requirement of empiric proof. Hypothesis generation, appropriate testing, collection of data, interpretation of results, conclusion yielding hypothesis refinement and generation.
Do I hold to strong rationalism for all claims or would a competing view more accurately describe my philosophy? I’m not ready to commit completely until I understand all the nuances that might entail. I’m sure we’ll explore that further. I haven’t put myself in one of those categories yet.
What work of philosophy or history survives this approach? We can’t even talk about Socrates or Aristotle.
If you mean, “What work could survive this approach and leave us absolutely confident that the entire tome is absolutely trustworthy?” None of them can. That’s the point. We shouldn’t implicitly trust all claims in ancient (or even modern) non-fiction books. Every claim needs to have a probability of truth assigned to it. Not a certainty. It’s mainly religious texts that attempt to gain certainty and only for the express purpose of getting us to trust them in supernatural claims. It’s unjustified.
I disagree with Hawking that philosophy is not necessary. I know that I am at risk of taking his quote out of context. Please forgive me.
No worries. I do it quite often. 🙂 As we discussed at breakfast, I think Hawking (who recently said “There are no black holes” and meant they are actually slightly gray) is being slightly misunderstood when he says “Philosophy is dead” (the statement is made at 1:12 into the video, but listen to more for context). Due to Hawking’s disabilities is hard to have a back and forth dialogue with him and he didn’t expound much, but from his other resources and similar comments from other astrophysicists, I have an idea of his meaning. His view seems to be that philosophers who do not touch empirical tests and are unfamiliar with science are a dying breed. Most topics that used to be in philosophy have now branched out into various disciplines of science. Science is progressing where philosophy has not been (recently), and now science is able to contribute to philosophy much more than sitting-on-a-couch thinking. His statement is not meant to say that there is no benefit in philosophy or that it is “not necessary”, as Hawking is well aware that his own field of cosmology started as primarily a philosophy, and is largely involved in philosophy today. What he’s trying to accomplish with that “jaw-dropping” statement (like “there are no black holes”) is to get people to realize that the philosophy of the future will be tied inextricably with observation and scientific testing, not isolated from it. He admits to being “something of a dreamer.” But then, maybe I’m taking him out of context. 🙂
You have a philosophy. I just don’t know what it is yet.
Haha. Thank you. I don’t know what it is either. I’m still trying to identify the one(s) that fits best, or build a new one. We both know my epistemological belief position is technically an agnostic weak/negative atheist. In my humble opinion, that is the only justifiable position I could possibly hold given my experiences. I’m not done looking and my life isn’t over, that’s just where I currently find myself. But that is not a specific philosophy. You are pushing me to identify where I stand on many issues. Thank you for that!
Science was never a philosophy. It was and is a method seeking explanation. Philosophy seeks meaning.
I don’t know. Before science was science it was called natural philosophy. There is a whole lot of overlap. I think it depends greatly on our definitions. As we discussed at breakfast, I hold to the more inclusive definition of science. Does it seek meaning? Absolutely. In my view, that’s much of what science does. We’re not just seeking to learn the hows, but the whys.
Supernatural straw man
The first five words of the Bible claim something – – In the beginning God created. I disagree with you that the natural explanation is more likely than the supernatural claim.
You got me. In my rush and torrent of words I failed to put in the qualifier that was in my head. I assumed it, so I didn’t think to write it, which was my mistake (see “The Curse of Knowledge“). So, here’s the context I left out. Let me write it again, correctly this time. “There’s nothing [inside of nature] for which a natural explanation is not far more likely and more plausible [given the evidence I’ve seen] than a supernatural explanation.” More on this in the next point.
Here’s my straw man that only you can knock down:
1) You do not believe in a supernatural
2) I do
…If I am wrong about number 1, demonstrate my error empirically by replying with one supernatural belief that you currently hold (more likely true than untrue). … Come clean. Do you currently believe that a supernatural is more probable than not? We can and will continue if you answer either way. It just frames the discussion better for us and for our five readers. And maybe I’m proposing an inappropriate binary branch point. A complex fractal algorithm may be better. But I don’t exactly know what that is. Insert wry smile.
Haha. OK. Step back a bit. I just picked up my club. 🙂 Metaphysical naturalism. Swing, bamb, crash, straw-man-down. That’s it. Based on the line of reasoning I’ve heard and read from you so far, that’s the position that I think you’re wanting to argue against. However, just to clarify, I’m not standing there. I’m over in another Venn circle, the one of methodological naturalism. What’s the difference? I was trying to find a way to explain this when I googled something and that came up. These aren’t terms I use every day, so thank you for providing me with the opportunity to learn more about them. This also helps hone-in on my philosophy with more accuracy. As you know from our talks, several blog posts, and iMultiverse, I do not believe there is no supernatural, in the same way that I do not believe there are no Gods. It is true to say that I presently lack belief in a supernatural, but that does not mean I start from the position that it is not a possibility, or even that it is not likely. I am 50/50 on the matter. As soon as I see evidence for it that meets some basic criteria, I will believe. Until then, I reserve belief. My belief will never be on the side against supernatural. Ever. In other words, I will never be 70% convinced in the non-existence of the supernatural. To me, that is indefensible. I simply cannot imagine anything in reality that could tell us about what doesn’t exist outside of reality. I make no judgement in the negative about it. If I find convincing evidence of something supernatural, I may be 51/49 for it, or 80/20, you get the idea. I’ve given examples of such hypothetical evidence that might someday appear and be convincing. Further, while my belief in the supernatural will never be at less than 50%, it will raise with my belief in a God (if that God-belief is over 50%). It used to be 100%. Any particular God-claim you mention is going to be (at least right now) less than 50%, so my supernatural belief stays as low as it will go (which is 50%). Make sense?
Do I need to demonstrate an example of a supernatural claim I hold in order for you to believe that I do not presuppose there is no supernatural? Why? I’m telling you that I do not oppose the supernatural. This means it is not an unjustified presupposition. My only reticence for assuming an effect has a supernatural cause is due to the base-rate… e.g. the fact that a) despite the many claims of supernatural causes, each are either disproved or lack evidence to justify themselves, b) we have no examples of an effect that could only be explained by a supernatural cause, and c) science (which assumes natural causes) works. If those facts change, my beliefs will change with them. A supernatural cause could be behind a few, many, or even all effects in natural. If it weren’t for Occam’s Razor, I would be much more likely to believe the former was true. I think you understand my position here, but this has come up in conversation and on the blog several times so I think it deserves more time. The statement, “You do not believe in a supernatural” may be throwing us off. It is technically correct to say that I do not believe (if by that you mean I presently lack belief) in a supernatural, but I don’t know that it get’s you anywhere. I don’t know how you intend to argue against that position, so I’ll let you determine that. But remember, I believed in the supernatural before and I’d be happy to again – that’s actually my desire. Let me clarify my position further with a quickly conjured hypothetical dialogue.
Two biologists are investigating an area of the forest. The guy is working on a paper and really wants to find evidence of a ladybug with purple circles on its back, but so far neither scientist has seen any they can demonstrate. They both see a bunch of footprints (it’s a hypothetical, so just imagine they can detect the footprints) 6-legged in an area where they know there are ladybugs.
Guy: “See, here is evidence of the purple-circled ladybug.”
Girl: “All I see is evidence of something with six-legs, and here are these 6-legged ladybugs that leave the same footprints. There’s no evidence that it was a purple-circled ladybug that made these footprints rather than this group of regular ladybugs (which is far more likely because we know they exist and we can see them right here making similar marks).
Guy: “But you’re just saying that because you presuppose there is no purple-circled ladybug.”
Girl: “I don’t presuppose there isn’t. I have no idea. It sounds perfectly possible. I just see this evidence and a likely explanation that matches this evidence (these regular ladybugs).”
Question: who, if anyone, is the one doing the presupposing? The one who makes no assumptions about the purple-circled ladybugs until they see evidence, or the one who believes it exists before they see the evidence (and attributes effects to it unnecessarily)? If this analogy makes sense, then you know my position on the supernatural. In case anyone read that and it didn’t make sense, the regular ladybugs represent natural explanations (science) and the purple-circled ladybugs represents the supernatural.
So, at the risk of seriously belaboring this – what I if said, “1) you do not believe in a purple-circled ladybug. 2) I do.”? And if I then said, “If I am wrong about number 1, demonstrate my error empirically by replying with one belief about a purple-circled ladybug that you currently hold (more likely true than untrue). … Come clean. Do you currently believe that a purple-circled ladybug is more probable than not?” How would you reply? You might say that the fact that you currently have no idea (i.e. 50/50) on whether or not such a ladybug exists does not mean that you presuppose that it does not exist. You will not reject evidence that favors its existence due to a presupposition against it. Such evidence does not have to overcome and negative bias against it. In order to believe in the purple-circled ladybug you just need evidence that points to such an ladybug rather than a more common, already known ladybug, simply because that explanation is more common and has been demonstrated, not because you think the purple-circled ladybug is impossible or even unlikely in itself. Such a ladybug is perfectly capable of existing. It’s a question about base-rates and justified beliefs, not about presuppositions and personal biases.
OK… pop-quiz. 🙂
Question 1: Does Russell presently hold a positive belief in at least one supernatural claim?
Question 2: Does Russell presuppose that a supernatural does not exist?
If you’re going to argue something based on my beliefs about the supernatural, I hope this helps. 🙂
I love God.
I know. And I love that you do. 🙂 I do too, in a way, as much as you can love an idealized version of something you used to believe in and still hope for.
Scripture is precious to me because it has changed me.
I admire that, greatly. I miss it, too. Unfortunately, it’s the same claim that could be made by many committed adherents other major religions.
That was a miracle – – not a bending of the laws of physics or quantum chaos, but a reshaping of my nature and the genesis of hope when I was hopeless. I love God with my whole heart, whole mind, whole soul (energy or ethereal). I love him and I know that my love could have blinded me.
It sounds like you and I had similar experiences. This is how I used to feel as well. I eventually questioned whether my transformation was explainable by natural causes. I have since determined that it was. Therefore, I can no longer claim it was a miracle for any reason other than my desire to do so.
Is scripture reliable? Yes.
OK. You know I disagree here. Granted, we’ve only been over a tiny fraction of the potential problems with scripture and I’ve yet to hear your responses, but whether or not you think the Bible claims to be entirely trustworthy, if you see some verses that can’t be reconciled with each other or with logic doesn’t that mean it is not reliable? At least not fully? Why do you say “Yes” instead of just “I think so”? Is it because of love? As in, “Yes, my wife loves me” even if she wasn’t nice to you that day? Not that mine is ever not nice. (You’re very nice, cutie. :))
Do I think it contradicts? It appears to sometimes.
It appears to contradict? If you take away the presupposition that it cannot contradict, doesn’t it graduate from an appearance of contradiction to an actual contradiction?
Is it absurd? Never.
This is another assumption that stands on love, right?
I hope this is helpful. I’ll be posting again very soon. 🙂
Gentleness and respect,