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Questioning Your Way to Faith: Learning to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
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message 1: by David (last edited Sep 02, 2013 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Fantastic book. I'll write a review sometime. But I'll get the discussion started here.

First of all - do Al and Floyd ever study? Over the course of the one week the story takes place they go hiking, fishing, boating...sounds like fun! That said, I did like how the discussions were sitting in real life because I think we can all see ourselves in such situations.

I liked the idea of faith and science being complementary rather than contradictory. I think that is how I have always seen it, just seeing those two terms helped.

And I like how Al went from that to talk about how faith is inherent in all we do:
Even when we do the actual experiments ourselves, we can't wholly escape faith since we have to trust our senses and our own competence. Our senses and our competence are not experimentally verifiable since any test we conduct on ourselves to test them, would depend on us using our senses and assuming our competence to evaluate the test results. So the core faculties we use to conduct and analyze our experiments-our mind and our senses-can't be validated by experiment since that would lead to a circular argument."

Kazmaier, Peter (2013-05-14). Questioning Your Way to Faith: Learning to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable (Kindle Locations 395-398). Word Alive Press. Kindle Edition.

You can't do an experiment to prove your senses are reliable, you just have to trust your senses are reliable.

Any thoughts?


message 2: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments All you have to do is compare sensual experiences. If ten people hear the same words to the same tune coming over the radio, then their hearing is reliable. Of course, there's always the possibility God is playing some grand trick on us.


message 3: by Rod (new) - added it

Rod Horncastle I think faith and true science are 100% complementary. The problem is people take bad faith choices and mix them with junk science and then get upset at the results.

Most people I know claim to have a total faith in modern science. And then they call me gullible. :D
The worst is when they attempt to take their silly science and blend it with very poor theology. Then the world laughs at us. I laugh too!

Sounds like an interesting book David. I've never come across it.


message 4: by Peter (last edited Sep 02, 2013 03:27PM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Robert wrote: "All you have to do is compare sensual experiences. If ten people hear the same words to the same tune coming over the radio, then their hearing is reliable. Of course, there's always the possibilit..."

All you have to do is compare sensual experiences.

Robert, I would argue that listening to someone's report, is in itself a sensual experience, and then evaluating the reproducibility of those reports assumes our competence to do so.

I think having faith in our senses and our competence is such a basic and fundamental assumption that I tend to do it without thinking about it.


message 5: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments What do you think about Al's discussion about the biblical definition of faith? Does that ring true? How would the media or a secularist define faith?


David Robert, I don't think it is that simple. Like you alluded to, those 10 could be deceived somehow.

That aside, we still have to assume that humanity's senses are reliable as a whole. All ten people had the same sensual experience but figuring out what that experience really was is another step.

Let me try an example (beware: very amateur philosophizing coming up):

We take ten people and tell them we want them to pick out which sound is a lion's roar. They hear three consecutive sounds and all ten identify the third one as the lion.

An alien (or God) perceives from above that the third sound is actually a gun. The human belief that the gun is actually a lion has helped humans survive, as just as they once fled from lion's now they flee from gun shots. So it is human experience (in this imaginary world) that the gun shot is the lion's roar.

But as the alien (or God) knows, the sound they think is the lion's roar is actually the gunshot.

My point is, if all humanity is deceived (by a god, aliens, a devil...) or if our evolved beliefs in a godless world only provide survival but not necessarily truth (why would blind natural selection care about truth?) then if we step back and think about it, we can't "prove" our senses lead to true beliefs.


David Peter...I'll get back to you on that faith question.


message 8: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Emmanuel Kant did try to prove that all knowledge empirically came through the senses, had his 15 minutes of fame, and has since been discredited. But is your imaginary Homo sapiens a product of natural selection or was he created by God, David? If natural selection, then he's merely biological and is subject to any manner of sensory trickery foisted by plant, animal, God, demon, angel, or gloom of night. If he's the product of a creational God then he is imbued with considerable defenses against sensory deception simply because he's divinely placed above the biological fray and thus able to pursue truth in a cognitive manner. Yes, our senses frequently deceive us, but, Kant aside, we are made of superior "stuff" to the brutes and have an inherent ability to mentally separate the gold from the dross courtesy of our Father.


David Exactly, I think we're same the same thing!

If natural selection, then he's merely biological and is subject to any manner of sensory trickery foisted by plant, animal, God, demon, angel, or gloom of night. If he's the product of a creational God then he is imbued with considerable defenses against sensory deception simply because he's divinely placed above the biological fray and thus able to pursue truth in a cognitive manner.

Amen.

The fact that we do trust our senses is a conundrum for the atheist who declares faith is always irrational. The same atheist has faith in his senses. On what grounds? To me, this is a pointer to God.


message 10: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Absolutely, David!


message 11: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 05:22AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Robert wrote: "All you have to do is compare sensual experiences. If ten people hear the same words to the same tune coming over the radio, then their hearing is reliable. Of course, there's always the possibilit..."

Robert, as I thought further your about answer on "comparing sense experience," it occurred to me that this exercise distinguishes rational and blind faith.

I'm still convinced our senses and our mind are essential in pretty well everything we do, so we have to trust them (i.e. have faith in them). But that doesn't mean we do so blindly. By using your consistency test (do we all see the same thing), that's a way of walking by faith and then checking if that holds together. Although having all subjects sense the same thing doesn't prove our senses and mind are reporting reality, if we saw different things, then one would still suspect that our trust was misplaced. Does that make sense?

In my own experience in trusting God, I often proceed by little steps, and then go back and see how it worked out so that I can trust Him for more. Like all relationships, often my expectations are wrong and that's part of learning to trust, but I do see that feedback loop in my experience.


message 12: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Robert wrote: "Emmanuel Kant did try to prove that all knowledge empirically came through the senses, had his 15 minutes of fame, and has since been discredited. But is your imaginary Homo sapiens a product of na..."

Robert, I'm interested in your point on Kant. How did Kant argue for pure reason? I haven't read Kant, but I have heard Peter Kreeft talk about him in his ethics course (What Would Socrates Do?). Perhaps you or someone else on the list could educate me?


message 13: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 05:47AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments The Importance of the Definition of Faith

As a member of the American Chemical Society, I would regularly read the Letters to the Editor section Chemical and Engineering News, the societies general publication. From time to time, a well-meaning scientist would attempt bridge or heal the apparent rift (in their view) between science and religion. The argument, if reduced to the bare essentials, would generally go like this: science is based on facts, religion is based on faith. Facts are true and rational while faith is emotional and irrational. Why can't we all just get along? Just stay in your proper space.

As I thought about this, a few things struck me:

(1) This is not at all my definition of faith (or the biblical definition I would argue).
(2)If I tried to talk to this author without hammering out with him a common definition for faith, we'd spend the whole time talking past each other.
(3)By making empiricism rational (I think empiricism can be rational) and faith irrational, the author is front-end loading the discussion to come out the way he thinks it should.

It made me think that I need to check on our definitions before we proceed.


message 14: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 06:12AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Chapter 2 - The Importance of Questions

One of our members in another thread (I couldn't find the comment or remember who made it) mentioned how he was often frustrated when talking about Christian belief, since his friend on receiving an answer would immediately look for another troublesome question (my sense was the other person didn't really care that much about getting an answer). I think he was asking if this kind of conversation was useful.

So what do you think about the Chapter 2 discussion about two kinds of questions? Have you encountered these two types of questions (questioning to get an answer and calling the other person's position into question)? How do you distinguish the two types and how do you respond? How do you keep a conversation focused on trying to uncover the truth?


message 15: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Whoa, slow down there, Peter. Back to chapter one for a second... Al says:

"We don't have the time, the equipment and, in some cases, we don't have the understanding to verify everything ourselves. We learn by believing the teachings of reliable people."

Just to make sure I understand before we continue: Are you giving us permission to trust the leading experts in various fields? It's ok to believe in evolution, in a 13.7 billion year old universe, that there was no worldwide flood, etc.?


message 16: by Lee (last edited Sep 04, 2013 06:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Now we get to chapter two and this quote:

"People have always brought their view of the world to their interpretation of the Bible. If Euclid showed farmers and cartographers how to use plane geometry to survey their fields, of course people would naturally think the world is flat because their local observations are consistent with a flat world. They didn't get this from the Bible, they brought it to the Bible."

This is how we are able to continue to grow in scientific knowledge without seeing it as a contradiction to our fatih. But ... are you here saying that Biblical writers did not describe a flat earth? When, for example, Genesis 1 matches perfectly with the early Mediterranean belief of a flat earth and domed sky, is that merely coincidence?


message 17: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Peter wrote: "How do you distinguish the two types and how do you respond? How do you keep a conversation focused on trying to uncover the truth? "

I definitely encounter both. I get sincere questions about what I believe and why, but I also get questions intended merely to poke a hole in my beliefs. It's really not hard to tell the difference, and either shift into a heartfelt search for the truth or smile and play the debate game.

Bottom line: unless I encounter a person who admits they are NOT sure about their beliefs, there is little point in exploring truth, as they are not open-minded enough to make progress. I have a good friend whom I would LOVE to partner with in the search for truth. He's very bright and a good Christian. Unfortunately, he makes it clear to me that he is not interested in this pursuit, that he knows things by faith.

So there you have it. Faith is the means by which he obtains knowledge about God. I don't understand it, but he is impossible to reason with regarding religion and he has no reason to question.


message 18: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 10:04AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Whoa, slow down there, Peter. Back to chapter one for a second... Al says:

"We don't have the time, the equipment and, in some cases, we don't have the understanding to verify everything ourselve..."


Good question Lee. I think "me giving permission" is the wrong phrase. I think in the educational process, I am forced to take people's word for a great many things. For example, with respect to the Big Bang Theory, one of the key elements in the evidence is background radiation that's left over from the initial event. I could not measure that myself -- I don't even have the equipment for the measurement. I could look at the published data and listen to the pronouncements of experts (all acts of faith or trust in the experts), but in the end I have to take their word for it.

So the question becomes: "Do I trust them to give me the full story?" I think asking that question, and looking for evidence of their truthfulness converts blind faith into evidential faith (maybe there's a better phrase that distinguishes more clearly from blind faith). Does that make sense?

In summary, we all have to exercise faith (trust), even in learning the sciences. Faith and reason are complementary.


message 19: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 10:03AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Peter wrote: "How do you distinguish the two types and how do you respond? How do you keep a conversation focused on trying to uncover the truth? "

I definitely encounter both. I get sincere quest..."


I am going too fast aren't I?

I agree it's hard to talk to people who believe they have all the answers (not all those people are in religious communities -- I have seen it in the sciences). I have also encountered another group of people akin to the sophists in Socrates time, who are equally difficult to talk to because they believe there are no answers, so one has a Monty Pythonesque conversation where they laugh and pejoratively caricature any search for truth. I think with the rise of Postmodernism, that perspective is becoming more prevalent. Have you encountered those, Lee?


message 20: by Peter (last edited Sep 04, 2013 10:40AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Now we get to chapter two and this quote:

"People have always brought their view of the world to their interpretation of the Bible. If Euclid showed farmers and cartographers how to use plane geom..."


Lee, I don't have any first hand knowledge about how people in antiquity thought about the world. If I believe some of the things I've read (by having faith in the scholars) then in early antiquity, people by their observations (their science if you like), imperfect as it was imagined the world like a building with a rock foundation, pillars holding up the sky (which is the roof). If that's all true those concepts would have been embedded in the language.

I see the character of the Godhead through Jesus. When Jesus came to us, he wore our clothes, suffered our tribulations, and spoke our language (Aramaic most likely -- he didn't force us to learn a more precise, heavenly language). The limitations of language carry a lot of baggage from the current observational worldview of how the world is put together. But here's where it gets interesting for me. Perhaps people in Moses' time, when they read about foundations, pillars, heavens, had a mind picture of a dome-shaped world structure like a house, but when I read it, I think of the immutable natural laws, warped space etc. God, without abandoning the language of the initial primitive audience, was communicating to both generations (and all the generations in between). To me that's astounding and amazing.

Having said that, I'm not sure we have our model completely correct. I'm very suspect of chronological snobbery which insists that we are the first in many long generations to get the picture right.


message 21: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Peter wrote: "I have also encountered another group of people akin to the sophists in Socrates time, who are equally difficult to talk to because they believe there are no answers, so one has a Monty Pythonesque conversation where they laugh and pejoratively caricature any search for truth. I think with the rise of Postmodernism, that perspective is becoming more prevalent. Have you encountered those, Lee?"

Encountered any? I AM one of these on occasion. All you have to do to slide me into that mode is pretend you know something unknowable about God ... like whether he is planning to send anybody to eternal torment.

I see those debates as a little like two children arguing over whether their imaginary playmate has blue eyes. I can play along with the argument, quoting scripture here and there, but surely everyone deep down knows we have no clue ... and surely never will.


message 22: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Peter - concerning Kant, I'll try to wing it on memory but that's always dangerous. The enlightenment philosopers, when they put on thir metaphysical hat, were vitally concerned with the Soul. The "Ghost in a Mzchine" crowd, of which Kant was a member, said "yes, man has innate knowledge, but it is only instinctual like the animals; he has no "soul" to guide him in some ethereal concept of right, wrong, good, evil, God, etc." Thus, all our knowledge of those ideals (plus everything else we absorb) can only be learned empirically and through the senses. This he layed out in his Critique of Pure Reason which would be a percursor to today's atheism.


message 23: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Robert wrote: "Peter - concerning Kant, I'll try to wing it on memory but that's always dangerous. The enlightenment philosopers, when they put on thir metaphysical hat, were vitally concerned with the Soul. The ..."

Thanks Robert, you helped me make the connection with the "ghost in the machine" concept.


message 24: by Phil (last edited Sep 05, 2013 07:38AM) (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments Haven't read the book, therefor not competent to comment on it.

However, I couldn't let this pass:

Emmanuel Kant did try to prove that all knowledge empirically came through the senses, had his 15 minutes of fame, and has since been discredited.


This is the first time I've heard of Kant, arguably the most influential philosopher in the modern mind, referred to as "having had his 15 minutes of fame" and since being discredited.

I'm just sayin' -- most people to whom "they've had their 15 minutes of fame" applies, don't have courses based on their works in every university in the world.

Priceless!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Kant the source of the commonly-held distinction between "subjective" and "objective" knowledge?


message 25: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Phil - Kant is raised to high esteem in liberal, atheistic circles, thus universities. For most particpants on this, a Christian board, his bleatings are held in low-regard if not entirely dismissed. Subjective and objective knowledge differentiation has been around since Plato.
You would get more traction if you'd make up your mind what you are, Phil. One day an arch-conservative and the next a flaming liberal leads people to believe you are inherently convictionless.


message 26: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Phil - my reference to Kant was to try to add to the discussion of Peter's book. If you merely want to take potshots at me because your little feelings are hurt, don't clutter up this topic, but e-mail them to me at my personal address so I can delete them.


message 27: by Phil (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments Robert wrote: "Phil - my reference to Kant was to try to add to the discussion of Peter's book. If you merely want to take potshots at me because your little feelings are hurt, don't clutter up this topic, but e-..."

No pot shots, no feelings. You're just not that important, Mr. Narcissist.

The comment itself was so far out in the weeds that it needed highlighting.


message 28: by David (last edited Sep 05, 2013 10:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Peter, if you mean this discussion on faith, I am on board with it:

For the ancients to base a conviction on what another person told them, that person had to prove their trustworthiness through action and also demonstrate an unshakeable commitment to the truth. In other words," said Al, "a close relationship is essential for faith. That's why trust is a synonym for faith. That's also why Christ, your 'carpenter of 2000 years ago,' spent three years with his disciples: so that they could see him in action through day-to-day contact, see his healing touch, his compassion for the poor, his anger with the heartlessness and hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Those actions showed his followers what he was like. He knew he had to build up trust through actions his disciples could see and verify so they could trust him for the things that were beyond observation. All along he gave concrete evidence of his trustworthiness to qualify himself in their eyes as a straight shooter-someone who would always tell them the truth."

Kazmaier, Peter (2013-05-14). Questioning Your Way to Faith: Learning to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable (Kindle Locations 350-357). Word Alive Press. Kindle Edition.


I think defining faith is very important as most people see it as a blind leap in the dark. I think some Christian apologists go too far in nearly implying faith is clearly logical and anyone with a brain would believe it (I actually like a little of that leap in the dark stuff...at least on my dark days). But in general, I like what you said.


David I think I have met people who think they have all the answers and those who think there are no answers. As a Christian evangelical, I used to think I had all the answers, now I am less sure (so I guess I qualify as someone Lee spoke of, being not sure about my beliefs...well, I am more sure about some then of others...but anyway).


message 30: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Although we'll get to this at the end of the book, David, you'll see that Al doesn't take a "leap of faith." He settles it by logic that theism is reasonable, and then relies upon personal experience to determine WHICH theism is true (Christianity, in his case).


message 31: by Peter (last edited Sep 05, 2013 03:01PM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Although we'll get to this at the end of the book, David, you'll see that Al doesn't take a "leap of faith." He settles it by logic that theism is reasonable, and then relies upon personal experien..."

Lee I think you put it correctly that Al is trying to reach the point where theism is reasonable, but that's not the same as being convinced that God is real. For that one has to meet Him, and like establishing all relationships that requires trust (faith).

A much bigger question to my mind than "does God exist" would be "what kind of a God is He? Is He good, loving or is he tyrannical?" Those are relationship questions and I think must be settled by learning to trust Him by taking little steps. From personal experience the "leaps of faith" come on the personal experience side of the ledger. I may read something actionable in the bible, decide to act on it trusting that God will make it work, and then see how it comes out. In these kinds of decisions I'm trusting in God to come through for me. Still I think we should let our reason take us as far as it can, but there is a need to go beyond our reason, to trust for things we can't see clearly by reason alone. That is to say as a speaker Bruxy Cavey once put it: "run the ramp of reason before you take the leap of faith."

Having said that, I'm the kind of fellow that tries to think things through as much as possible. There are others (as far as I can tell) who rely almost wholly on relationship (trust) and they do very well.


David I am not sure how this relates to the two types of questions, but I am thinking about how your beliefs about other things ought to influence how you approach questions and other beliefs.

From a Christian perspective (and I just re-read this idea in Tim Keller, so even our Reformed friends on here ought to see this) we hold two truths in conjunction: sin and common grace.

The universality of sin ought to keep us humble - since we are all impacted by sin we need to hold loosely to our beliefs. I think when we get too certain we are beginning to forget sin affects us as Christians.

Common grace ought to make us expect to find truth (and beauty and goodness) in all people. All are created in God's image and all are touched still by some level of grace. So when we hear a truth from someone who is not a Christian...well we ought not be surprised.

So I guess if we look at two sorts of questions (those by people so confident they are only looking to prove you wrong; those who think there are no answers)...well I am not sure how this relates to that. We definitely ought not be too confident and I guess we could try to get at the root of why other people are so certain?


message 33: by Phil (last edited Sep 06, 2013 01:55PM) (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments David wrote:

since we are all impacted by sin we need to hold loosely to our beliefs.


This strikes me as an inaccurate statement, in two ways (though neither really invalidates the point you're making.)

First, I'm not sure that it's sin that makes our ideas questionable. Yes, sin has an effect on our intellect; sin will make even the brightest human stupid. But even without sin, I think our intellects are fallible. And while I get what Keller is after, it's fallibility, and not sin, that makes it important that we hold our ideas humbly.

The second problem is a bit more important, and that's this: different ideas are questionable at different levels.

I feel certain that God will judge some righteous who are not explicitly Christian. I also feel certain that my mother existed (she died in 1988). Those certainties are not the same; the second statement is far more certain that the first. I will gladly admit that I could be wrong about the first. But there is no virtue in admitting that I am fallible about the second statement; it would be stupid of me to admit that.

Now, consider these statements: I feel certain that God exists, and that He loves me. Does my status as "sinner," or my fallibility, require that I hold those views lightly?

My certainty about those statements approaches my certainty about the statement concerning my mother's existence, and for the same reason: I wouldn't be here if it weren't true. So admitting my fallibility does not require that I tell atheists that I'm not certain that God exists. That's nonsense. He does exist. He loves me. This is not an open question, and it ought not to be, no matter how fallible I am, and no matter how much a sinner I am.

I hold all my theological constructs humbly, and take them with a large dose of salt. God is so much higher than we are that the likelihood of our grasping the details is near to the likelihood that my cat knows what I'm doing while I'm typing this comment. But God's existence and character are not up for debate, and that's not because I'm so smart; it's because He's so good.


message 34: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Wait a minute. If you admit fallibility in a matter, then it's a simple logical step to deduce the potential for error, and thus shed your certainty. Anyone who knows God exists (or doesn't) is not being honest about the human condition...they are pretending infallibility.

A simple test is to take note of atheists who likewise think they know God doesn't exist. Do you really consider atheists fallible but yourself not? Of course not.

On a tangent, the discussion of sin is meaningless without a definition of God (for it is God who defines sin). Therefore you cannot even know if you are sinning, at least not in some objective manner.


message 35: by Phil (last edited Sep 06, 2013 03:06PM) (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments Lee writes:

Anyone who knows God exists (or doesn't) is not being honest about the human condition...they are pretending infallibility.

And is anybody who knows THEY exist also not being honest about the human condition, and pretending infallibility?

How about anybody who knows that YOU exist? Are they also not being honest about the human condition, and pretending infallibility?


message 36: by Lee (last edited Sep 06, 2013 03:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Let me be more clear.

You know something or someone exists on the other side of this forum because you experience me.

You know "God" exists because you experience him/her/it.

What you cannot know is the very thing most Christians claim to know: That there exists an omni-everything being out there in personal communication with them, who endorses the Bible, existed in the person of Jesus, plans to take people to heaven, etc. etc. You cannot know that your experiences do not derive from your mind, or that the thinsg you consider miracles are truly not coincidences, etc.

We can attempt to deduce God's existence and nature, but so far, all of the proofs I've seen in this forum or in books are not 100% conclusive.

I approve of Peter's approach in this book: providing arguments to conclude that theism is at least reasonable, then falling back on personal experience to make a guess about the nature of a god-being or beings.


message 37: by Phil (last edited Sep 06, 2013 04:25PM) (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments So, you do agree that there are different levels of certainty.

And you do agree that claiming certainty about some common, basic things (like "I am here," and "My mother exists") can be said without, as you put it, "being dishonest about the human condition," and without "claiming infallibility."

Foundationalist philosophers talk about some things as being "properly basic." That is, some things are so foundational that it makes no sense to question them. What we're discussing here is, more or less, what sorts of things can fit into that category.

Now -- regarding God, notice, please, that what I said was not a summation of the whole of Christian biblical theology. Quite the contrary, in fact: I EXPLICITLY, CLEARLY said that biblical theology was questionable. Remember?

What I said was beyond question was very simple: "He exists, and He loves me."

Now -- do you really disagree that such a statement is properly basic?


message 38: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Yes, I do. I'll ignore the silliness of what it means for God to be male, and state my viewpoint: God does not have to be personal for you to mistake him as such. The warm fuzzies you feel (or assume) could still come from your fallible mind, or from a non-personal being or beings.


message 39: by Phil (new)

Phil (philwynk) | 88 comments Lee wrote, demonstrating his unfortunate capacity for invective-filled tendentiousness:

I'll ignore the silliness of what it means for God to be male

Of course, you're not ignoring it because you're mentioning it, in a 7th-grade level tactic.

So, to echo your infantile tactic, I'll ignore your pretense that there's some non-gendered pronoun that's more appropriate to use regarding God.

Aren't you the guy who proposed in another thread that people get their view of God from their father? And you're busting my stones over using a male pronoun?

It was a mistake to expect reasonable discussion from you.

Goodbye.


message 40: by Lee (last edited Sep 06, 2013 07:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Phil, "He" doesn't belong in a statement that you describe as "properly basic," and I gave you a pass. That's all I was saying.

You are such a child. You take everything personally and can find something to offend you in anything anybody writes. You really shouldn't be on public forums.


message 41: by Lee (last edited Sep 06, 2013 08:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Peter, my question for you (if we're ready for chapter three) is this: Why do you, and seemingly everyone, assume the three "omnies"? Yes, there are verses in scripture that imply omnipotence etc., but there are surely as many examples where God is not very omni.

Floyd says "the simple solution to this dilemma [of evil] is to affirm that God does not exist and so this problem goes away." A simpler solution, which preserves Al's theism, is to quit presuming God is omni-everything (eg: recognize the Bible's anti-omni verses as literal and the omni ones as rhetorical), when the problem of evil likewise goes away. Right?


message 42: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Core | 1864 comments Lee - this doesn't involve Peter's book, which I haven't got around to yet (busy with my own). I guess the God I envision is so beyond description that "omni" actually sounds too mundane. He created the entire, still-expanding universe which is billions of times bigger than man can get a handle on; he created life from scratch with the billions of base pairs of DNA laid out exactly in perfect order so the early organism could protect itself (cell membrane), nourish itself (metabolism), replicate itself, and repair itself. Then He created whatever other organisms He decided including Man and is intimately aware of what they are all thinking, doing and praying (if applicable), and various and sundry miracles granted upon His whim. World affairs are directed in accordance with His prophecies. Angels, demons, and Satan are kept track of if not closely supervised. And this is just what we presume to visualize. How many other parallel universes or colonies where life exists are under His tutellage?


message 43: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments and yet the omni's are not only mind-boggling (for me) but troubling.

A N.T. examples shows what I mean. Mark tells a story about how Jesus could not heal people because of their lack of faith. Matthew (who wrote his Gospel with the book of Mark open in front of hi) copied the story but, troubled about Jesus' failure, rewrote it to say Jesus refused to heal them because of their lack of faith.

Both stories leave the evil intact. In one, Jesus tries mightily to help and fails. In the other, Jesus grows angry and petulantly refuses to help people. Which Jesus do you like best?

I'd rather believe God CANNOT keep tabs individually on the 7 billion people on this earth, watching to make sure no cancer cells grow. I therefore take comfort in verses that limit God's omni-ness. But I realize that's personal preference.


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Robert Core | 1864 comments Lee - The why doesn't God/Jesus do something to combat evil question has always meataphysically been a tough one? Why would God miraculously cure one of my soldier/parishiners from a dread disease only to have him die 6 months later in Afghanistan? I don't have an answer Lee, but my scope is limited by my mortality. Here's the answer you hate to hear, but it's true in my case and for the truly devout. We simply have Faith, and alas, oft times without reason, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has a master plan we will never be privy to.


David Good points in 33 Phil; I could have worded my post better.

As for chapter three and the "omnis" - I think Peter did a good job of presenting the issue from the standard Christian perspective, through Al. Personally though, I think the argument is more powerful in reverse. That is, Al went this direction:

1. Philosophical Response
2. Theological Response (talk about Jesus identification with suffering, etc.)
3. Showing rejection of God does not solve, as you now struggle to define evil.

In apologetics classes, the big focus is always on 1 (free will argument, etc.). I find 2 and 3 much more compelling. The Bible, in general, is more concerned with what God has done about evil then why there is evil. Jesus does not philosophize, he helps people. It does not mean the why question is unimportant (people ask it). But I am compelled by a God who got down in the dirt and grime with humanity, who suffered alongside of us and for us.

And I find there no warrant to complain about evil/suffering in a godless world. As Al says,

"Evil has a sense of wrongness about it, Floyd. We think it should not be. If it arises naturally in the universe, why does it repel us so much? How can you tell a line is crooked unless you have some idea of what a straight line is? I think it's hard for Naturalists to explain where this gut reaction against evil comes from. Wasn't that perception the whole power behind the apparent contradiction?"

Kazmaier, Peter (2013-05-14). Questioning Your Way to Faith: Learning to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable (Kindle Locations 775-778). Word Alive Press. Kindle Edition.

If materialism is true, why wouldn't there be suffering? Why is such things bad?

The fact that so many in our culture remain concerned is the remnants of our Christian heritage. Not all cultures in the world cared about the poor and weak; these things came into history through Christianity. It makes me think of Nietzsche - he was an honest atheist because he realized rejecting God means rejecting what he deemed "weak" Christian morality, something many atheists don't see.


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Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments David wrote: "Good points in 33 Phil; I could have worded my post better.

As for chapter three and the "omnis" - I think Peter did a good job of presenting the issue from the standard Christian perspective, thr..."


In apologetics classes, the big focus is always on 1 (free will argument, etc.). I find 2 and 3 much more compelling.

Thank you for this comment about the relative merits of points 1-3. I found that helpful.


message 47: by Peter (last edited Sep 08, 2013 06:03AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "and yet the omni's are not only mind-boggling (for me) but troubling.

A N.T. examples shows what I mean. Mark tells a story about how Jesus could not heal people because of their lack of faith. M..."


Lee, I wasn't sure which healing you were referring to in Mark -- perhaps his time in Nazareth (Mark 6:5) where he was constrained in performing "mighty works" by the unbelief of the people who knew him.

The question I ask myself: "Why does Jesus need faith in order to perform mighty works?" I would answer that by pointing out that he's respecting our free will. He seems to always ask permission when he heals and his frustration comes about when people will not give it.

With respect to the second part of the first paragraph:

Matthew (who wrote his Gospel with the book of Mark open in front of hi) copied the story but, troubled about Jesus' failure, rewrote it to say Jesus refused to heal them because of their lack of faith.

Lee, you may surmise or hypothesize that Matthew wrote his gospel with the gospel of Mark open in front of him, but how can you know that? Where does this strong evidence come from?

For my part, I tend to agree with Alan Millard (READING AND WRITING IN THE TIME OF JESUS) that there was much more writing in the first century than we have given them credit for, and (in my view) that many written fragments of what Jesus said were preserved on pottery fragments (ostraca) and rewrite-able parchments were available to record what Jesus said and did. So Matthew may well have been looking at the same source materials as Mark had and that led to the similarity.


message 48: by Peter (last edited Sep 08, 2013 06:36AM) (new) - added it

Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Peter, my question for you (if we're ready for chapter three) is this: Why do you, and seemingly everyone, assume the three "omnies"? Yes, there are verses in scripture that imply omnipotence etc.,..."

Lee you had asked about the three omnies and times when God appeared not to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. If I'm reading you correctly, then you're saying that the Bible presents two (in your view) contradictory descriptions of God (an omniscient one and another view that is not omniscient).

Let me take a stab at the second point first -- the apparent contradictions. Consider:

"Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind ; for He is not a man that He should change His mind." 1 Sam. 15:29 NAS

Yet in Numbers 14:1-25 we read about Moses praying for the people, mitigating God's judgment -- apparently God changed his mind. Indeed the whole concept of prayer seems to be predicated on the idea that God's mind can be changed.

So how do I reconcile these two? If you give me the three omnies (essentially infinite properties) it is always possible to convert them to the finite. What do I mean by that?

We are people inexorably locked into time and constrained by cause and effect. From my reading, God is outside of time and time is one of the things He's created. However to communicate with us, he often steps into time and uses anthropomorphic metaphors (back, hand, eyes etc) to make it possible to understand him a little. So in the two passages, the Samuel verse describes God in his essence, while the Numbers passage describes God interacting with us as if he were inside of time and thus changing his mind. Both descriptions are needed: the first to help us realize his essence (which is incomprehensible) and the second to help us begin to grasp His nature. Although useful, the second alone would be incomplete.

As usual, I can't say anything with few words. I'll deal with the origin of the three omnies in a separate post.


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Peter Kazmaier (peterkazmaier) | 191 comments Lee wrote: "Peter, my question for you (if we're ready for chapter three) is this: Why do you, and seemingly everyone, assume the three "omnies"? Yes, there are verses in scripture that imply omnipotence etc.,..."

Why do you, and seemingly everyone, assume the three "omnies"?

Lee, I was going to begin my post by saying that the words omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent are theological concepts and do not appear in the biblical text either as nouns or adjectives. Well in turns out that's not quite correct. Apparently omnipotent (transliterated pantocrator) appears as a adjective in 2 Cor 6:18 and is translated as "almighty." The same word is used by my count nine times in Revelation.

Having made that correction to my thinking, as far as I can tell, the three omnies are really a logical extension or encapsulation of the claim that God is creator (ex nihilo) and sustainer of the whole cosmos (Gen 1; Col. 1:15-16). I know you don't regard Colossians as Paul's letter, but I'm just telling you why I believe the three concepts describe God.

To me, it also makes sense philosophically. If God is the most perfect and complete being possible, does He not need these infinite properties? If I make them finite, how would I answer the response, well I can better your finite response, so wouldn't that describe God?

Let me know if you get my meaning. I'm not sure I have described this very well


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Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Peter wrote: "Lee, you may surmise or hypothesize that Matthew wrote his gospel with the gospel of Mark open in front of him, but how can you know that? Where does this strong evidence come from?"

Well, 90% of Mark repeats in Matthew, often word-for-word. The odds of this being a coincidence are surely infinitesimal. So our three reasonable options are:

1. Mark copied from Matthew
2. Matthew copied fro Mark
3. The two copied from a shared source

It's possible that the "shared source" is really "shared sources", but again, divide that into more then two or three pieces and the odds again shrink to nil.

The vast majority of scholars prefer #2. You seem to think #3. I align with the majority.

If you disagree with any of this, it might be fun to discuss the synoptic problem in another thread.


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