Interpreting Scripture

The next item on our agenda is the interpretation of Scripture. Let’s begin with a look at the consequences we ought to expect if the Gospel Hypothesis were true. According to the Gospel Hypothesis, our salvation and eternal personal relationship to God are very important to Him, so much so that He would literally be willing to die Himself in order to make this possible. Since this relationship depends on knowing the truth about God, therefore, it follows that He will place an equal emphasis on making sure we do not misunderstand this truth.

Of course, the first-order prediction of the Gospel Hypothesis is that Scriptures won’t really even be necessary. Barak Obama does not operate the White House by giving each member of his staff a copy of The Audacity of Hope and then leaving them to try and figure out what his will might be, based on the meditative study of what is written in his word. He meets with his staff, interacts with them, and gives them tangible, personal direction. Of course, he also wrote the book as well, and it’s not entirely unreasonable to suppose that God might also choose to impart some of His wisdom in written form.

The second prediction of the Gospel Hypothesis would therefore be that God would write these Scriptures Himself. After all, the phrase “God’s Word” denotes “that which comes from God,” so it is to be expected that it would, you know, come from God. There would be ample opportunity for people to write books about God, but these would be people’s words, not God’s. God’s Word would be, as the name suggests, the words God Himself had written.

But writings, no matter how well written, can be misinterpreted, whether by malice or simple incompetence. Such misinterpretations could have potentially serious and even damnable consequences for fallible humans, and thus poses the risk of frustrating God’s will for us. If the Gospel Hypothesis were true, therefore, we ought to expect God to put a high priority on making sure that we have an accessible and reliable means of ensuring that our interpretation of the Scripture is correct.

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Posted in Evidence Against Christianity, Unapologetics. 24 Comments »

World and worldview

I’m going to skip ahead just a bit in my outline of the evidence against Christianity and give a brief overview of the matter of world versus worldview, relative to the Myth Hypothesis versus the Gospel Hypothesis. One of the consequences of the Myth Hypothesis is that, since God does not exist in the real world, He is restricted to “existing” within a particular worldview—that is, within a particular individual’s subjective perception and interpretation of reality. This in turn produces a number of related consequences, because of the inevitable conflict between the believer’s worldview, in which God does exist, and the real world, in which He does not.

One of those consequences is the perpetual friction between world and worldview. Believers will feel pressure on their worldview because their dealings with reality will continually confront them with facts that are inconsistent with their beliefs, producing friction and even erosion of the Christian worldview. This in turn will produce the need to find some way to counteract the erosive effects of contact with the world and reinforce the worldview. Believers will experience a need to take their faith in for frequent “scheduled maintenance” by meeting together to encourage one another in the faith, and to exhort and admonish one another. Unmaintained faith will tend to weaken over time, and produce backsliding.

They will also need to actively defend their worldview in the broader arena of cultural perception. And once again, the Myth Hypothesis imposes distinctive restrictions on the form this defense will be able to take. They won’t be able to reinforce their worldview by pointing to how God Himself shows up in the real world, because His non-existence will prevent Him from showing up. They won’t be able to provide verifiable, objective, real-world evidence consistent with their worldview, because the chief difference between world and worldview will be the fact that God only exists in the latter. Consequently, their worldview defense will need to resort to techniques that have less to do with science, and more to do with politics and indoctrination in the beliefs and worldviews of men.

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Posted in Evidence Against Christianity, Society, Unapologetics. 2 Comments »

XFiles Friday: Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 13.)

Last week, Geisler and Turek started to tell us about the amazing messianic “prophecies” in the last several chapters of Isaiah, using Larry Helyer’s list of 14 detailed predictions plus an observation of their own. As we ran through the list of details, however, we noticed something odd: either the “predictions” were vague enough to apply to almost anyone, or else the messianic “fulfillment” consisted of believers simply attributing things to Jesus without there being any way for anyone to verify if they were really true.

Starting with item 12, though, things get a little more evangelical-sounding.

12. The Servant accepts vicarious and substitutionary suffering on behalf of his people (53:4-6, 12).

13. He is put to death after being condemned (53:7-9).

14. Incredibly, he comes back to life and is exalted above all rulers (53:10-12; 52:13-15).

In addition to Helyer’s observation, we note that the servant is also sinless (53:9).

A snippet here, a snippet there, and you can almost make the verses in Isaiah sound like a Gospel. But is that really what Isaiah intended? Who was Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” anyway?

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Recommended Reading, Unapologetics, XFiles. 2 Comments »