XFiles Friday: Context! Context! Context!

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 12.)

Dominic Crossan, of the Jesus Seminar, once said that if the trees in his back yard suddenly moved 5 feet overnight, he wouldn’t immediately assume that the cause must be supernatural. Geisler and Turek take this hypothetical scenario and use a variation of it as an illustration of the principle that context ought to determine how you interpret things.

So let’s suppose that Crossan’s tree-moving event occurred in the following context: Two hundred years in advance, someone claiming to be a prophet of God writes down a prediction that all of the trees in one particular area of Jerusalem would indeed move five feet one night during a particular year. Two hundred years later, a man arrives to tell the townspeople that the tree moving miracle will occur shortly. This man claims to be God, teaches profound truths, and performs many other unusual acts that appear to be miracles.

Then one morning numerous eyewitnesses claim that the trees in Crossan’s Jerusalem yard—including several deep-rooted, 100-foot oaks—actually moved five feet during the night, just as the God-man predicted. These eyewitnesses also say this is just one of more than thirty miracles performed by this God-man. They then suffer persecution and martyrdom for proclaiming these miracles and for refusing to recant their testimony. Opponents of the God-man don’t deny the evidence about the trees or the other miracles, but offer natural explanations that have numerous fatal flaws. Many years later, after all the eyewitnesses are dead, skeptics offer additional natural explanations that prove to be fatally flawed as well. In fact, for the next 1,900 years skeptics try to explain the event naturally, but no one can.

Question: Given that context, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the movement of the trees was supernatural rather than natural in origin?

I think that’s an absolutely brilliant illustration, and for once I agree with Geisler and Turek almost completely.

The problem, of course, is that Geisler and Turek have described a context which is precisely the kind of context that Christianity does not have. We don’t have a bunch of trees that are five feet distant from their original locations, we have a bunch of believers who say they remember the trees being five feet to the left of where they are now, in fact they’re sure of it, even though no non-believer at the time reports seeing any change in location and there’s no physical evidence of any such move.

We don’t have a God-man, either. We have stories about an alleged God-man, and the alleged miracles he allegedly performed. And we read these stories in the context of a world full of Benny Hinns and Joseph Smiths and Uri Gellers and Sylvia Brownes, and many other people who amaze their followers with their “supernatural” powers.

And those “prophecies”? Let’s take one from the beginning of Jesus’ life, and one from the end.

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” (Isaiah 7:10-16)

Isaiah is promising King Ahaz that the two enemies of Judah (the southern part of the divided kingdom of Israel) would be rendered incapable of attacking within the time it takes a child to go from conception to conscience. He specifically was not saying that there would be anything special about such a child, nor was he necessarily predicting that the child would be born of a virgin (since the Hebrew word meant merely “maiden,” which could be taken as either “virgin” or simply “girl”). The “sign” was that Ahaz would see the power of his enemies broken within such a short time, not that Messiah would be born of a virgin. Matthew simply ripped the verse out of context and applied it to Jesus’ mother—even though Mary did not, in fact, name her son Immanuel!

Then there’s the “prophecy” of the crucifixion, in Psalm 22. It’s a bit long to quote here, but you can follow the link if you’re interested. There’s a couple points of resemblance, like the reference to “they have pierced my hands and my feet” and “they divided my garments among them, and cast lots for my raiment,” but it’s not really what you’d call a clear-cut prediction that Messiah would be crucified, is it?

For one thing, the psalmist is speaking in first person, about trials that endure for quite some time (note the reference to praying night and day, and God not answering). The psalmist seems to have gone hungry for quite a while as well; he can count all his bones. That’s a sign of starvation, not a sign that his bones are unbroken (as some interpreters would have us believe). And most significantly, the psalm ends triumphantly, with God hearing the psalmist’s prayer, and answering his request for delivery from the sword and the saving of his life. Not really an unambiguous declaration of a resurrection, is it?

Think about it: if David, many centuries before Jesus, had written down a prediction that the Messiah would be crucified and would rise on the third day, would it really have been such a shock for the disciples when the prediction came true? Over and over again, the Gospels emphasize the point that those who knew Jesus best, and were most familiar with his teachings, had no idea he was going to die, because such a thought was contrary to their messianic expectations. Yet those expectations would have included a crucifixion, had the Jewish nation possessed a clear, ancient prophecy predicting it.

And that’s the key to understanding the “fulfillment” of biblical prophecy. Where Geisler and Turek’s purely hypothetical scenario has the ancient prophet making a plain, unambiguous, and specific prediction about precisely what was to happen when, we today have just the opposite. The “prophecies” are vague enough to be readily adaptable to almost any fulfillment, and where they’re not (as in the prediction that the virgin would name her baby Immanuel instead of Jesus), they don’t quite fit.

Then there’s the bit about witnesses who suffer persecution and martyrdom for proclaiming miracles and refusing to recant their testimony. That’s not what actually happened in real life, is it? The early Christians weren’t persecuted for insisting that the miracles were true any more than the Jews were sent to concentration camps for refusing to admit that the Ten Plagues on Egypt were a myth. Their “crime” was simply that they belonged to the “wrong” group, and failed to support the state religion. Pliny reports that the Christians he encountered were usually pretty good about offering incense to Caesar (if “properly motivated”), and that was all that was really needed, as far as he was concernet. It was not a cross-examination about whether miracles were materially true or only spiritually true, it was simply one group leaning on another, a sadly routine occurrence in human politics.

Geisler and Turek’s claim about later skeptics offering arguments with “fatal flaws” is just as bankrupt, since their “fatal flaws” turned out to be Geisler and Turek trying to fragment the evidence and then discredit each piece in isolation by arguing that that piece, by itself, could not explain everything. One might imagine a Holocaust denier arguing thusly: “The gas chamber theory does not explain why so many survivors report seeing widespread typhoid symptoms. The firing squad theory does not explain the many gas chambers that were found. The deliberate starvation theory does not explain all the corpses found with bullets in their heads. So since all of the Holocaust theories have fatal flaws, we don’t have enough FAITH to believe that Nazis killed Jews.” But even a Holocaust denier would not try to sell us an argument that bad.

The big factor, of course, is that all of our interpretation of ancient stories takes place in the context of a real world where we do not see God showing up in real life to speak to people, to work miracles, and so on. In the specific case of Geisler and Turek’s book, we’re interpreting their claims in the context of their earlier claim, back in chapter 8, that God cannot possibly do any of the things claimed in the Gospels, because to make His presence felt in “any but the faintest and most mitigated degree” would be to “ravish” (i.e. rape) our precious free will. This was the whole point of their argument about why the only possible evidence would have to consist of a Book that some people could believe and others could disbelieve. Unfortunately, this Book isn’t about a Book, it’s about precisely the kind of real-life showing up that Geisler and Turek (with support from C. S. Lewis) have insisted that God cannot do.

Geisler and Turek claim that it is possible to imagine a context in which it would indeed be possible to discern God’s existence—and they’re exactly right. It is theoretically possible. It just doesn’t happen. Instead, Geisler and Turek, throughout this book, have been interpreting the stories of the Bible in the context of the explicit assumption that God exists and is capable of doing miracles, based on their superstitious reasoning (“There are questions about origins whose answer we do not know, and therefore God exists and works miracles”), and supported by an egregious double standard that says we should accept every word of Luke’s testimony as infallible truth just because he got the governor’s name right, but we should reject the mountains of scientific research that has been done in the field of evolution because Hitler believed natural selection justified the Holocaust.

They’re right that they don’t have enough faith to be atheists. I’m not sure what it is they do have, but it sure ain’t faith. Faith would be more honest.

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Uncategorized, XFiles. 28 Comments »

28 Responses to “XFiles Friday: Context! Context! Context!”

  1. Steven Carr Says:

    An excellent post.

    Christian apologists use some dubious tactics.

    William Lane Craig has a 4-fact approach, and demands naturalists explain those 4 facts.

    Unlike Craig, I will only use facts undisputed by anybody.

    Fact 1. Hitler never signed a document ordering Jews to be liquidated in Europe.

    Fact 2. No German ever recorded hearing Hitler say orally that all Jews were to be killed.

    Fact 3. The building now known as gas chamber 1 in Auschwitz was an air-raid shelter in 1944.

    Fact 4. After the war , trained historians like David Irving and clergymen like Bishop Williamson testified that there was no systematic killing of 6 million Jews.

    Now these are all genuine facts, unlike Craig’s claim that it was a fact that a person called Joseph of Arimathea (where’s that) buried Jesus.

    And we should insist that Craig produce a theory that *BEST* explains those facts and those facts only. He should not be allowed to use other facts, even if they are genuine facts.

    Remember, it must be the *best* explanation of those 4 cherry-picked facts.

    After all, the very basis of the 4-fact apologetic is that opponents have to explain the 4 cherry-picked ‘facts’ and not use other facts which tell against them.

    But what is the BEST explanation of those 4 cherry-picked facts?

    Does Craig’s 4-fact approach ring any bells in terms of debating techniques?

  2. Jon Says:

    200 years in advance someone made a prediction? Geisler and Turek need to have a word with WL Craig, who points out repeatedly that Jews had no belief in a dying, much less rising Messiah, but in fact the Messiah was supposed to be a conquering King that overthrew their overlords. Since this was not part of their expectations they couldn’t have hallucinated it apparently.

  3. cl Says:

    And we read these stories in the context of a world full of Benny Hinns and Joseph Smiths and Uri Gellers and Sylvia Brownes, and many other people who amaze their followers with their “supernatural” powers.

    See, problem is you’ve already allowed more than enough rope to hang yourself on with that statement.

    The first of your three-tiered Unapologetic reminds us that “Truth is consistent with itself.” I agree that the above are charlatans, but aren’t they points in favor of the validity of the Bible, which says repeatedly that, “..false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive..? (Mark 13:21-22, Math 24:11, Math 24:24, etc.) You yourself have said, and I agreed, that truth is consistent with itself. Well, the Bible said we’d see false Christs and false prophets who performed signs to deceive, and by your own admission, when we look in the “real-world,” we find false Christs and false prophets who perform signs to deceive.

    You should really quit validating scripture, you know, the irrational folks around here might not like it, and might stoop to sneering profferings about your initials because they themselves lack the ability to form a cogent argument.

  4. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “You should really quit validating scripture, you know, the irrational folks around here might not like it, and might stoop to sneering profferings about your initials because they themselves lack the ability to form a cogent argument.”

    Yeah, you’re right. I suppose he should stop mentioning things like the sun coming up and people dying, that’s in the Bible too and he’d just be validating scripture.

    Give me a flipping break.

  5. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Can you make an actual argument though?

  6. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Can you make an actual argument though?”

    If there was anything of substance to argue against, I would. You, however, seemed to enter this post intent on quibbling and complaining about SOMEthing, and the best you could do was to say that DD shouldn’t talk about a particularly “well duh, I could have told you that” section of the Bible.

    Of COURSE he’s not validating the Bible. The Bible said something that was patently obvious, and then when DD says something similar 2000 years later he’s somehow “validating” it? You’re either trolling, kidding, or completely wacko.

  7. cl Says:

    The Bible said something that was patently obvious

    Pretty convenient for you to just claim, isn’t it? Do you have any evidence? I said an argument, not just your own presupposition. Anybody can do that. How was it patently obvious 2000 years ago that there would be false Christs and prophets today? Seriously. Justify your claim, no free lunches.

    Second, DD claims truth is consistent with itself. So, when he started talking about Sylvia Browne, Benny Hinn and them, I pointed out that real world truth is consistent with the Bible on this matter. Say for example, there were no false Christs or false prophets today. Then, real world truth would conflict with the Bible on this point. As it stands, it doesn’t, and we have a situation where the “real world” truth is what we would expect if that part of the Bible were true. There really shouldn’t be a problem with that. It’s very straightforward if you can see clearly.

  8. Tacroy Says:

    The truth is consistent with itself, yes, but you seem to be taking a stronger interpretation of that statement and saying that if a statement in the Bible is consistent with the truth, then all of the Bible is consistent with the truth – even the parts we do not see in the real world. This is clearly not true.

    For example, consider historical fiction. It’s fictional, but generally contains recountings of true events. Proximity to truth, however, does not make those fictional events anything but fictional.

    The Bible says that there will be false prophets and charlatans, and there are. Great. Now we know that the Bible is correct on the topic of false prophets and charlatans. This does not mean that anything else in the Bible is correct.

    Anyway, that’s a really terrible prediction. “There will be con men and scam artists”? I could have told you that myself, and I’m sure any reasonably intelligent person could have told you that too, after living for a couple of years in any big city in any century.

  9. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “So, when he started talking about Sylvia Browne, Benny Hinn and them, I pointed out that real world truth is consistent with the Bible on this matter. Say for example, there were no false Christs or false prophets today.”

    See, you’re attempting to play subtle word games and move the goalposts again. If you attempt to say that Hinn and Browne are false “christs” specifically, you can’t make a decent case. Neither of them is pretending to be Jesus. They’re not prophets in a religious sense either. The only way you can make the case is to read “false christs and prophets” as “liars and con artists,” in which case the statement becomes EXCEEDINGLY obviously true. Few things are more certain in life than the continued existence of fraudsters (and it’s entirely possible that the some of the later modifiers of the Bible knew this all too well, being con artists themselves in a way).

  10. cl Says:

    Tacroy,Tacroy,

    The truth is consistent with itself, yes,

    Thank you.

    …but you seem to be taking a stronger interpretation of that statement and saying that if a statement in the Bible is consistent with the truth, then all of the Bible is consistent with the truth…

    Did I say that anywhere? That cited verses find corroboration in the real-world does not entail that all verses find corroboration in the real-world. That would be the genetic fallacy.

    For example, consider historical fiction. It’s fictional, but generally contains recountings of true events. Proximity to truth, however, does not make those fictional events anything but fictional.

    I like that.

    The Bible says that there will be false prophets and charlatans, and there are. Great. Now we know that the Bible is correct on the topic of false prophets and charlatans. This does not mean that anything else in the Bible is correct.

    Again, although I’m near-ecstatic somebody here can admit the obvious, please don’t assume that’s what I think again.

    Anyway, that’s a really terrible prediction. “There will be con men and scam artists”?

    No offense, but that’s a terrible show of scholarship. I believe you can do better, based on that well-reasoned “historical fiction” comment.

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Well, you at least attempt an argument this time, so why not…

    See, you’re attempting to play subtle word games and move the goalposts again. If you attempt to say that Hinn and Browne are false “christs” specifically, you can’t make a decent case.

    For Pete’s sake, slow down, will ya? Why do you omit a certain false prophet DD cited in his original statement? Certainly a person of your amazingly superior rational caliber with such unfailingly impartial objectivity isn’t committing the fallacy of cherrypicking which of DD’s charlatans you wish to discuss, right?

  11. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Certainly a person of your amazingly superior rational caliber with such unfailingly impartial objectivity isn’t committing the fallacy of cherrypicking which of DD’s charlatans you wish to discuss, right?”

    If you’re referring to Joseph Smith, it’s fairly clear from his past that he wasn’t writing down all this Book of Mormon stuff because he sincerely believed it, he was a known FRAUDSTER who realized he could make a quick buck by fooling gullible people. A false “prophet,’ maybe, though he never claimed to have received any messages directly from God while biblical prophets did, but most certainly a con-artist and liar. He made up a new religion based on both christianity and his desire to make money at others’ expense without actually doing any work. It’s a different religion; if you take “there will be false prophets” to mean “there will be people starting other religions,” again, the Bible is making a painfully obvious statement.

    Also, knock off the condescension. I’m starting to see why your reputation is so bad.

  12. R. C. Moore Says:

    ThatOtherGuy wrote:

    “Also, knock off the condescension. I’m starting to see why your reputation is so bad.”

    Yes, the condescension seems to be misplaced, as you seem to actually be able to understand what cl is trying to say. That puts you way ahead of me. My comprehension is easily foiled by pointless obfuscation.

  13. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Yes, the condescension seems to be misplaced, as you seem to actually be able to understand what cl is trying to say. That puts you way ahead of me. My comprehension is easily foiled by pointless obfuscation.”

    Well, it’s not like he ISN’T pointlessly obfuscating, because he is. He’s just scouring DD’s post for ANYTHING he can use against him, and the worst he was able to find was that DD said that conmen existed, and therefore “validated” part of the Bible that said conmen existed.

    …I don’t see why it’s worth mentioning either.

  14. cl Says:

    If you’re referring to Joseph Smith,

    Ah, yes, now you remember…

    he never claimed to have received any messages directly from God

    This is 100% false, and further evidence of your ignorance about both religion and history.

    if you take “there will be false prophets” to mean “there will be people starting other religions,”

    I don’t. Those are the straws you’re grasping for.

    Also, knock off the condescension. I’m starting to see why your reputation is so bad.

    I couldn’t care less about my “reputation” and there’s a reason I’m talking to you the way I am:

    Give me a flipping break… You’re either trolling, kidding, or completely wacko.

    Ah, yes, I see, the illustrious form of argument known as, “ThatOtherGuy lacks the mental capacity to get his head around his opponent’s argument, so his opponent must be trolling, kidding or completely wacko.” What, you can’t be wrong or misunderstanding me? That’s not a possible option? Gimme a break.

    And if you’re soooooo concerned about condescension, I also notice that I haven’t heard as much as a peep out of you when others condescend to me. If you didn’t want condescension, you shouldn’t of came at me like you did, but don’t cry now that I’m giving you some back. So quit acting like a hypocritical little baby, and talk to others as you’d want them to talk to you.

    Well, it’s not like he ISN’T pointlessly obfuscating, because he is.

    Again, claims without evidence from smarty-pants pretend rationalists who think they know something. This is just hilarious. Yeah, I’m pointlessly obfuscating! I have nothing better to do on a beautiful Sunday than argue back and forth with some intellectual twit online, and I’m soooooo scared of the superior arguments that I’m now completely devoid of any other strategy other than trying to confuse them with my vocabulary! DD was right; I guess this is what happens when your opponent runs out of cogency.

    He’s just scouring DD’s post for ANYTHING he can use against him, and the worst he was able to find was that DD said that conmen existed, and therefore “validated” part of the Bible that said conmen existed.

    Again, claims without evidence, more inferences and presuppositions. Hey everyone, ThatOtherGuy said it, so it MUST be true! Didn’t you know, ThatOtherGuy has the ability to “feel” through the internet, and he knows that I thought to myself, “Dang, I’m running out of ammo here, better attack the Uri Geller comment.” What a joke. Notice, when your cherrypicking and ignorance are called out, this is all you have to say, stuff like this. Don’t you have an argument?

    I wasn’t even coming here to “scour DD’s blog,” I came here because a reader at my blog asked me to read something they said here. Because of twits like you and pboyfloyd and others, the ones who constantly have to interject their flippant little ad hominem snarks which are the true causes of obfuscation, I had decided to abandon threads here for awhile. I happened to see DD’s comment about the charlatans, so I spoke up. In other words, that whole scenario you envision where I’m sweating and frantically panicking while pouring over DD’s writing to find one last thing I can attack vapidly to save my last little bit of credibility that I don’t have in any of your eyes anyways – it’s a bunch of BS.

    I had decided I was just going to address DD by email from now on, to avoid the flanking from the sycophant sophomores that hang around here. I’m here for DD whose writing and logic I actually admire, and you’re just another irrational speed bump in my path.

    If you want to start over with some respect, I can do that. Otherwise, save it.

  15. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “This is 100% false, and further evidence of your ignorance about both religion and history.”

    Interesting. I didn’t realize that Yahweh changed his name to Nephi or Moroni.

    “Yeah, I’m pointlessly obfuscating! I have nothing better to do on a beautiful Sunday than argue back and forth with some intellectual twit online, and I’m soooooo scared of the superior arguments that I’m now completely devoid of any other strategy other than trying to confuse them with my vocabulary!”

    At least you have the courage to admit it.

    “Notice, when your cherrypicking and ignorance are called out, this is all you have to say, stuff like this. Don’t you have an argument?”

    Of COURSE I don’t have an argument, there is NOTHING in this thread to argue about. You whined at DD to “stop validating the Bible” because someone (apparently you) would make a big fuss about it, and then everyone else said “quit it.” There’s no debate, as your “position” is tangential at best and completely irrelevant at worst. Yes, DD said something that the Bible also said, SO WHAT? The Bible says some exceedingly obvious things (just about the only things it’s correct about are exceedingly obvious), but that doesn’t validate ANYTHING.

    Now, pardon my crudeness and vernacular, but stop being so butthurt and FIND SOMETHING REAL TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

  16. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    I didn’t realize that Yahweh changed his name to Nephi or Moroni.

    This is a non-sequitur, not an argument, and I don’t have time to cover the lessons you’ve obviously missed. Here’s your original claim about Joseph Smith: “he never claimed to have received any messages directly from God.” Again, that claim is 100% false. You should actually check into this stuff before rattling off on the keyboard because you trying to sell me this BS on religion right now feels a lot like a creationist trying to sell similar BS on science.

    There’s no debate, as your “position” is tangential at best and completely irrelevant at worst.

    Try 100% straight-forward, and note it’s you who’s tried twice now to pawn information onto us that is patently false. Seriously, what you say about Smith is wrong and you are misinforming others. Please, take even two seconds to check your claim even at Wikipedia and let’s see what you come back with. The circular arguments you’re making in the other thread aren’t the only “laziness” you need to confess to around here.

    pardon my crudeness and vernacular, but stop being so butthurt and FIND SOMETHING REAL TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

    I’m not “butthurt,” I’m laughing at the fact you came at me so hard so empty. Seriously, look into this stuff, don’t ever come at me again flapping like an empty bag in the wind suggesting that unless I think like you, I’m some kind of troll or dishonest or completely wacko. That was your first mistake.

    Now, go do your homework, come back, and tell the rest of the class what you learned.

  17. Tacroy Says:

    Again, although I’m near-ecstatic somebody here can admit the obvious, please don’t assume that’s what I think again.

    I suppose I did assume you think something you might not. After re-reading your comments more thoroughly, I see that you haven’t actually made a statement beyond “the Bible predicts that there will be false Christs and false prophets; there have been false Christs and false prophets; therefore, the Bible is correct in stating that there will be false prophets and false Christs”.

    That’s pretty insubstantial. I hope you will forgive me for assuming you said something with more meat in it.

    Furthermore, although my (and ThatOtherGuy’s) comments to the effect of “it’s obvious that there have always been and will always be false prophets and charlatans” were not backed up by much evidence, they should not need to be. Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the history of human culture would know that there has always been some sort of “conman” archetype; after all, what are Loki and Coyote if not conmen? What is the snake who convinced Eve to eat of the apple, if not a conman?

    Indeed, even if we specifically exclude conmen, the world in which the Bible was written was still filled with oracles and prophets. Both the Oracle at Delphi and the Oracle of Dodona were still going strong, to mention a couple. Such things have no place in Christian mythology, except as false prophets. Thus, it was not a stretch at all for the authors of the Bible to say “there will be false prophets and false Christs in the future”, because from their point of view, there were false prophets right then.

    So: a reasonably intelligent Christian without any real knowledge of the future could have, in the time that the Bible was written, predicted that there would be false prophets in the future. This is indistinguishable from an educated guess.

  18. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “This is a non-sequitur, not an argument, and I don’t have time to cover the lessons you’ve obviously missed. Here’s your original claim about Joseph Smith: ‘he never claimed to have received any messages directly from God.’ Again, that claim is 100% false. You should actually check into this stuff before rattling off on the keyboard because you trying to sell me this BS on religion right now feels a lot like a creationist trying to sell similar BS on science.”

    Condensed version: NUH UH!

    Try supporting your position next time instead of just talking louder. You’ll impress more people.

  19. cl Says:

    Tacroy,

    I hope you will forgive me for assuming you said something with more meat in it.

    I sense that might be a jest. What did you assume I said, that had such meat in it? Of course there have always been conmen. And were the Bible authors’ predictions a huge stretch? No. Has my argument been that said verses represent some fulfilled prophecy or something? No. My argument was a basic observation of irony, a passing point even. Truth is consistent with itself, and I thought it was ironic for DD to view those he mentioned as evidence against the Bible, when their very existence corroborates Bible claims.

    Don’t you see any irony in that?

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Try supporting your position next time instead of just talking louder. You’ll impress more people.

    I was trying to give you the chance to realize your own mistake and correct, but you’re clearly not taking the hint, or maybe you’ve already got me outsmarted and I just don’t know it. Let’s find out:

    “(Joseph Smith) never claimed to have received any messages directly from God.” (ThatOtherGuy)

    “In one account, Smith said that the Lord told him his sins were forgiven, that he should obey the commandments, that the world was corrupt, and that the Second Coming was approaching.” (Wikipedia)

    “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join… He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” (Joseph Smith, EXTRACTS FROM THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH, THE PROPHET, History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapters 1-5)

  20. Eneasz Says:

    cl – I’ve been reading for a while, and I’m a first-time poster. The reason everyone was expecting some sort of substantial claim from you is because there actually is no irony at all, UNLESS you are making a substantial claim. You point at strong evidence for the unreliability of the Bible, and note that it corresponds to a trivial fact also found in the Bible, and say that is ironic. That is not irony in any sense of the word. That’s just pointless hand-waving.

    An example of irony, and not-irony.
    John fears for his life, so he always wears a bullet-proof vest. He even sleeps in it. It is a major inconvenience to his lifestyle, but he feels it will keep him alive and is worth the reduced quality of life. He ends up dying in a boating accident that everyone else survived with no injuries, because his bullet-proof vest weighed him down so much. That which was supposed to save him, killed him instead. That is irony.

    John-B wears clothes. He’s worn clothes his whole life, there is nothing unusual about it, everyone does it. He drowns partly due to the weight and restriction of soaked clothes. This is not ironic.

    Do you see why you would have to be making a substantial claim about the collaborated text for it to be ironic? Trivialities do not make irony.

  21. Arthur Says:

    Welcome aboard, Eneasz.

  22. » Enough rope Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] According to cl, I’ve sabotaged my case by mentioning Joseph Smith, Benny Hinn, Uri Geller and Sylvia Browne. See, problem is you’ve already allowed more than enough rope to hang yourself on with that statement. […]

  23. cl Says:

    Eneasz,

    The reason everyone was expecting some sort of substantial claim from you is because there actually is no irony at all, UNLESS you are making a substantial claim. You point at strong evidence for the unreliability of the Bible, and note that it corresponds to a trivial fact also found in the Bible, and say that is ironic.

    I disagree, and my whole point was to make an observation, not so much a “substantial claim.” If by “strong evidence for the unreliability of the Bible” you allude to the existence of charlatans – which is the context we’ve been in – well, you begin with the unfounded claim that the existence of charlatans counts as evidence against the reliability the Bible. I don’t think that Benny Hinn and Joseph Smith should taint our perception of what people wrote thousands of years ago for one; and for two, in a spirit of rational rigueur, the existence of charlatans can also be viewed as evidence for the Bible’s reliability, which said that false Christs would exist. Sorry if I got ya worked up, but personally, if I were you, I’d be more worried about the factual errors in this thread than the particular way in which I happen to see things – but that’s just me.

    Trivialities do not make irony.

    Calling irony trivial doesn’t do much, either, and who made you the Arbiter of triviality?

  24. Arthur Says:

    cl,

    Do you mean to say, after all this…

    I have nothing better to do on a beautiful Sunday than argue back and forth with some intellectual twit online, and I’m soooooo scared of the superior arguments that I’m now completely devoid of any other strategy other than trying to confuse them with my vocabulary!

    …that your “whole point was to make an observation” about “the particular way in which [you] happen to see things”?

    Happily, Deacon got a pretty good post out of the point some folks mistook you for having.

  25. cl Says:

    Arthur,

    Not at all. Just still trying to understand what DD himself called (mostly truthfully) a “facetious jab” evoked such harsh resistance. Interestingly, the particular person who objected first was corrected on a pretty harsh factual error recently, you know, and although I don’t know if that influenced anything, it sure is a noteworthy bit of evidence.

  26. Arthur Says:

    Just still trying to understand…

    I’ve got to tell you, this thread doesn’t really resemble an attempt to understand something. Actually, it pretty closely resembles a successful attempt to bait someone into a pissing contest.

  27. cl Says:

    NOTE: This comment is in response to Arthur from a different thread re-posted here in attempt to keep the threads intact.

    I can’t recommend your references to this conversation. If folks were to read it, they might have a harder time taking you seriously when you express a concern for things like the defense of factual truth; the clear pursuit of logic; the importance of respect; etc. Taking a dig at ThatOtherGuy might not be worth it. (Arthur to cl)

    I respect you going to bat for someone. I think that’s cool. On the other hand, it’d be nice if you provided some sort of reasoning or justification for my claim. Where or where do you supposed I erred?

    Let’s define A as “Smith never claimed revelation from God” and B as “the Bible says there will be charlatans and there are charlatans” – are you seriously saying A and B are equally incorrect, or that B is worse, or something similar? A is undeniably false. As far as B is concerned, I’d only be in error to state such were I inflating scope or using B to support some sort of conclusion not logically entailed or committing some other sort of no-no. Well, you’re making the claim – what is it?

    DD would have had a better point in the OP were there never any false Christs or false prophets – but clearly, there are. It was an ironic note that in this case – that for whatever reason – reality is consistent with a particular sub-claim of the real Gospel Hypothesis. DD’s goal is to find instances of reality that contradict genuine Bible claims, and the “false prophets” part of his argument is not one of them. That’s what was meant by “validating scripture,” and DD understood the argument properly, in scope – if I remember correctly.

  28. Arthur Says:

    Here is my claim.

    Your part in this thread shows, in tutorial detail, a lack of concern for truth, logic, clarity, and respect. Therefore, you ought to consider not talking about this thread when you’re expressing a concern for those things, lest people read the thread and decide not to take you seriously.

    For my justification, I’m content to point at the thread.