Biblical Criticism

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I have read the following two academic articles:

The modal gap: the objective problem of Lessing’s ditch(es) and Kierkegaard’s subjective reply\
by Matthew W. Benton

Lessing, Kierkegaard, and the "Ugly Ditch": A Reexamination
by G. E. Michalson, Jr.

It seems that Lessing's error was that he was considering it "necessary" for God to save us, and paradoxically, not necessary for him to believe it since it was in the past and not part of his personal experience. I'm inclined toward Kierkegaard's side of the argument, but I think he gives too much credence to Lessing and removes reason and historical evidence as a possible basis of faith.

This reminds me of the conversion of Strobel, which was based on historical evidence. I think what Kierkegaard was trying to aim at might have been that Lessing's ditch was emotionally based and subjective, or the 19th century equivalent of "that's like, your opinion man" in response to Lessing. Faith can have many different things as its basis, and reason itself depends on faith anyway.

Anyway, I'm done dragging this thread into off-topic-ness. Unless someone decides to respond, I'm calling it a day. @2PhiloVoid, good discussion, and I learned a good deal about you and your theological positions. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. :D

I'll try to get a response in on some of this later today or tomorrow.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Hrm. It’s interesting for me to think about this, but if you don’t want to talk about it you don’t have to respond.
On this point, I don't mind sharing. The point upon which I get stuck isn't so much with the list of moral degenerations that Paul provides. With these, I can readily concede that all we need to is drive down hollywood boulevard or the Las Vegas strip, or flick the button on the tv remote.

No, the part I'm thinking about rather pertains to the epistemically contingent points he makes about the effects of God's revelation for all mankind in verses 18 and 19 of chapter 1. In these, I think the actual referents are obscured from the modern reader's common understanding, and we'd have to know what Paul was referring to specifically in order to understand what it is that we're all supposed to 'see' in the world. I have a few guesses, but I don't think anyone actually knows what Paul's exact references were. I'm sure they are connected in some indirect way with Psalmic type "evidences"

Gestalt: the whole is not the sum of the parts. That would be the whole sin nature or the whole body here? Or just the phenomenon of unbelief leading to corruption and death? Something else?
It would be the "something else" option in this case. And here, I'm specifically intending to allude to the gestalt process involved in various Rorschach Tests.

I’ve found it useful to distinguish the sin nature of mankind from the body that houses it, much as it is useful to distinguish a parasite from its host. I’ve found that unbelievers cannot distinguish one from the other and perceive them both as a single phenomenon, however. This doesn’t seem to give them any benefit from my perspective.
What characteristics or evidences are we all supposed to see so clearly that have been revealed within and without our minds and bodies?

More later ...
 
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Heh. My introduction to existentialism was Camus’ The Stranger, and my high school literature teacher whose description of it was “life sucks and then you die”. While I would be inclined to agree that life really does suck and we really do die, I’m found that faith in Christ and following the teachings of God’s word eventually makes things suck less. In God, we have hope for improvement on that score. Sin is the cause of the suckage.
Lol! It's ironic to me that you're introduction to existentialism was Camus,' a true existentialist whereas my intro was more indirect through reading The Scarlet Letter and 1984. Either way, protagonists in each story die just the same: unreasonably.
 
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No, the part I'm thinking about rather pertains to the epistemically contingent points he makes about the effects of God's revelation for all mankind in verses 18 and 19 of chapter 1. In these, I think the actual referents are obscured from the modern reader's common understanding, and we'd have to know what Paul was referring to specifically in order to understand what it is that we're all supposed to 'see' in the world. I have a few guesses, but I don't think anyone actually knows what Paul's exact references were.
We'd be looking for evidences of "His eternal power and divine nature". Creation is very large area to look for that in, so the amount of possible evidences would be astronomical. I think science is finding new answers to this all the time - God is infinite, after all. The more we learn about the Creation, the more we realize we don't know.

Rorschach Tests.
I'm aware of Rorschach Blots. Each human perceives them differently, revealing their individual psychology.

What characteristics or evidences are we all supposed to see so clearly that have been revealed within and without our minds and bodies?
Would merely evaluating one's internal world (emotions, thoughts, inclinations, etc) against God's Word suffice?

Perhaps I need to cite the findings of cognitive science that human brains are not designed to believe two contradictory ideas as true at once. Because the truth cannot contradict itself, if a human mind is trying to hold two contradictory ideas as true, they must be believing a lie. If the mind is contradicting reality, that is trauma and is viewed as a mental injury. This evidences that the human mind is not designed to believe lies, but the truth given by God. Thus, the mind is not built to house the sin nature of mankind, and practitioners of sin damage the mind.

The body is trickier, but the wages of sin is death, and the body dies in response to sin. I've also found that intense, sinful, emotional responses impair the body temporarily, so it's definitely
not good for it.

more indirect through reading The Scarlet Letter and 1984.
I have somehow managed to avoid reading The Scarlet Letter. RIP Winston's brain. Poor guy was the victim of dogma and gaslighting.
 
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I have read the following two academic articles:

The modal gap: the objective problem of Lessing’s ditch(es) and Kierkegaard’s subjective reply\
by Matthew W. Benton

Lessing, Kierkegaard, and the "Ugly Ditch": A Reexamination
by G. E. Michalson, Jr.
Oh, I see you made a good effort here to engage the topic. Not everyone does this. Kudos!

It seems that Lessing's error was that he was considering it "necessary" for God to save us, and paradoxically, not necessary for him to believe it since it was in the past and not part of his personal experience. I'm inclined toward Kierkegaard's side of the argument, but I think he gives too much credence to Lessing and removes reason and historical evidence as a possible basis of faith.
On Lessing's part, he apparently was hit by the idea that documents of the past do not (cannot) present themselves with immediacy. They are what they are, old, tattered and thrice removed in time, place and culture. He apparently felt that old writings alone weren't the kind of thing with which one can have a 'living faith.' Kierkegaard, on the other hand, met Lessing's Ditch not by removing the fact that old, tattered documents weren't the kind of entity one can have a 'relationship with,' but by positing that the Subjective self (capitalized to set it off from a more colloquial usage of the term) has to transcend through the Spirit and, despite the incomplete and non-comprehensive nature of the biblical documents, leap out toward Christ as "He is."

This reminds me of the conversion of Strobel, which was based on historical evidence. I think what Kierkegaard was trying to aim at might have been that Lessing's ditch was emotionally based and subjective, or the 19th century equivalent of "that's like, your opinion man" in response to Lessing. Faith can have many different things as its basis, and reason itself depends on faith anyway.
It's kind of like this, but ............... I think it becomes equivocal to insist that reason depends on faith. That kind of thing is more Van Tillian, and I'm not much for Reformed theology myself, other than to say I've learned a few things from various voices for it, taking from it some good things and learning some things to perhaps avoid where epistemology and assumptions are concerned. In sum, I'm more inclined to see that faith emerges in response to both some amount of reasonableness and willingness to explore our existence, even where and if God remains to be seen. But let's not get the cart before the horse by assuming that reason is dependent upon a religious concept of faith.

But again. I'm an existentialist, but not in the raw form of Camus or Sartre, even if they, like Carl Sagan, still reflect in similar ways how I see and feel about life and the nature of our existence in a dark and ponderous, but wonderous universe.
 
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We'd be looking for evidences of "His eternal power and divine nature". Creation is very large area to look for that in, so the amount of possible evidences would be astronomical. I think science is finding new answers to this all the time - God is infinite, after all. The more we learn about the Creation, the more we realize we don't know.
Yes........but Paul didn't have 21st scientific endeavors in mind. So the question remains: whatever precisely, exactly and in no uncertain terms was he referring to that the people of his own century would have recognized as "the fingerprints of God"? I'm at pains to identify Paul's references.


I'm aware of Rorschach Blots. Each human perceives them differently, revealing their individual psychology.
Yes, but with neuroscience and epistemology in tow, I'm more of the mind to leave off that later assumption and just keep things more basic. I.E That rorschach merely demonstrates that different people perceive differently, at least partially in their conceptual measures, but this doesn't necessarily tell us much, if anything at all, about their individual psychology or their personalities.


Would merely evaluating one's internal world (emotions, thoughts, inclinations, etc) against God's Word suffice?
Honestly? No, I don't think that suffices. But I've had a number of fellow Christians do their best to lob their favorite bits of Scripture at this or that problem, only to seem those verses bounce off of the reality of the problem like so many bullets off of Superman's chest.

Perhaps I need to cite the findings of cognitive science that human brains are not designed to believe two contradictory ideas as true at once. Because the truth cannot contradict itself, if a human mind is trying to hold two contradictory ideas as true, they must be believing a lie. If the mind is contradicting reality, that is trauma and is viewed as a mental injury. This evidences that the human mind is not designed to believe lies, but the truth given by God. Thus, the mind is not built to house the sin nature of mankind, and practitioners of sin damage the mind.
... I can quote these too, and I think that if we truly dig into the academic nitty-gritty, we'll find that where epistemology and psychology overlap, it begins to get murky as to where some thing called 'absolute truth' lies, if it can reside within the human mind, unfettered and isolated in a perfect state of seeming aseity.

Yeah, academically speaking, I don't think so. And of course, this affects how I see the efficacy of the Scriptures when they are metted out all by themselves, as if they are in and of themselves, merely enough for this life.

The body is trickier, but the wages of sin is death, and the body dies in response to sin. I've also found that intense, sinful, emotional responses impair the body temporarily, so it's definitely
not good for it.
That might be, but like the character of Ghost Rider in the Marvel comics, I'm going to say that I think that's a dark road best left behind when possible. Of course, for those stuck in the world and who, like King Solomon, can't seem to wake up from his spiritual slumber, then it's all the more a dark road to travel.

I have somehow managed to avoid reading The Scarlet Letter. RIP Winston's brain. Poor guy was the victim of dogma and gaslighting.
Yes. I guess we can chalk these characters up to yet another example of the kind of diabolical (even partially existential) processes we find at work in C.S. Lewis', The Screwtape Letters. :smilingimp:

It's all in how we perceive the structure of the game.
 
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Oh, I see you made a good effort here to engage the topic. Not everyone does this. Kudos!
When I don't know something, sometimes the best response is to look it up.

but by positing that the Subjective self (capitalized to set it off from a more colloquial usage of the term) has to transcend through the Spirit and, despite the incomplete and non-comprehensive nature of the biblical documents, leap out toward Christ as "He is."
I agree with this. Kierkegaard was saying that even if the documents cannot be related to, God still can be, though the basis of faith in what the documents say. The documents aren't the focus, but who God is, and He is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I think it becomes equivocal to insist that reason depends on faith. That kind of thing is more Van Tillian, and I'm not much for Reformed theology myself,
I actually received this idea from Terry Eagleton, who is an unbeliever with a Catholic background. :p Perhaps you would enjoy reading Reason, Faith, and Revolution. Terry's argument is based on political realities, so it's more concrete and reliable than J.Budiszewski's How To Stay Christian in College. The problem is, I've seen support for this idea from believers and unbelievers, so it seems to be widely accepted as to the nature of reality.

Now I will concede that I was raised Protestant, probably under the guidance of Reformed Theology, but I have never heard of this Van Till character. It's possible that both Terry and Bud were influenced by him, but you or I would need to do an academic study and prove it.

In sum, I'm more inclined to see that faith emerges in response to both some amount of reasonableness and willingness to explore our existence, even where and if God remains to be seen. But let's not get the cart before the horse by assuming that reason is dependent upon a religious concept of faith.
How can reason exist without faith?

In order to reason about information given and come to a conclusion, I have to either believe that the information is true or reject the information based on other information that I believe to be true or conclude that I need more information to form a conclusion, which is merely kicking the can of reason down the road of time until more information arrives to support a conclusion.

But again. I'm an existentialist,
Or we could try it another way and ask the dreadful questions:

1. Why does anything have to exist in the first place?
Answer: Because God wanted things to exist.
2. Why does God have to exist?
Answer: Because we exist, and if God did not exist, nothing would exist.
3. Nothing existing is preferable to something existing, because something is more complex in logical reasoning than negative infinity. Therefore, existence defies reason. Why should there be a reason for anything?
Answer: Because our existence is not explained by reason, but by God's desire to create. Desire is not within the bounds of reason.
4. That is a circular argument. God exists, therefore I exist, therefore God exists?
Answer: Circular arguments are bad reasoning, but since existence is in defiance of reason, my thoughts about it are outside of reasoning, so your criticism is invalid. :p Meanwhile, you have simply proven that nothing is more consistent with sound reasoning about existence than God.
5. But that is a pun...
Answer: It's still true. Therefore, something else must explain our existence, and that thing is faith. Otherwise, we may reasonably conclude that nothing is the state in which all things should be. And people wonder why the Enlightenment was violent and destructive.

Interestingly, the idea that reason depends on faith also seems to be consistent with Kierkegaard, at least according to the articles I read.

The modal gap: the objective problem of Lessing’s ditch(es) and Kierkegaard’s subjective reply said:
But Climacus (Kierkegaard) is approaching the issue differently: whereas for Lessing, historical claims of supernatural-religious significance require more certainty, which cannot be attained, Climacus thinks there is an ‘essential misrelation’ between approximations of mere historical knowledge ‘and a personal, infinite interestedness in one’s own eternal happiness’,42 such that it is no longer a question of mere historical judgement. Rather, with faith there is a passionate, infinite interest, and so, in contrast to Lessing, Climacus insists that historical ‘certainty and passion do not hitch up as a team’.

The modal gap: the objective problem of Lessing’s ditch(es) and Kierkegaard’s subjective reply said:
In this sense, the contemporary eyewitness is no better off than the person
at second hand, because either one must receive the condition of understanding
in order to become a follower of the teacher. Climacus notes that ‘ it is
easy for the contemporary learner to become a historical eyewitness, but the
trouble is that knowing a historical fact… by no means makes the eyewitness a
follower, which is understandable, because such knowledge means nothing
more to him than the historical ’.45 The follower is characterized not by her
visual ability to see and observe the teacher at first hand, but by seeing with
the ‘eyes of faith ’ : the follower as believer ‘ is a contemporary in the autopsy of
faith. But in this autopsy, every non-contemporary (in the sense of immediacy)
is in turn a contemporary’.46 ‘Autopsy’ in this literal, etymological sense is the
personal act of seeing,47 which is part of the faith given in the condition. Hence
there ‘ is no follower at second hand’, for the ‘first and last generation are
essentially alike’48 in that they both require reception of the condition: God
‘gave the follower the condition to see it and opened for him the eyes of
faith’.49

Thus, the author of this article argues that Kierkegaard is arguing for reason depending on faith as the means to solve Lessing's Ditch. :p Now you can argue that Michael A. Benton is wrong, but he is quoting Kierkegaard's Idem Postscript and Fragments directly, so I think he has a very solid argument.

I don't think this is "Reformed Theology" at all. There are sources before the Reformation that struggle with the problem of faith. The Confessions of Boethius comes to mind. I really think that the reason you reject this idea has nothing to do with Reformed theology and everything to do with existentialism. Which is fine, but I hope to improve your self-awareness.

That rorschach merely demonstrates that different people perceive differently, at least partially in their conceptual measures,
So what you're saying is that my whole perception is greater than the sum of its parts and is Gestalt, correct?

unfettered and isolated in a perfect state of seeming aseity.
Human minds do not contain truth in and of themselves. They are beings made in the image of God and so point to the truth of God outside of themselves. They are also not self-existent: God made them. Nor is the truth inside them self-existent: it comes from God, notably in whatever Scripture they believe to be true. Aseity is not the word I would use to describe that at all.

whatever precisely, exactly and in no uncertain terms was he referring to that the people of his own century would have recognized as "the fingerprints of God"? I'm at pains to identify Paul's references.
I mean, trees existed back in Paul's day and they obviously weren't built by human hands. While Paul's audience wouldn't have known all the details of a tree's existence, they would have at least known that it was beyond them and they couldn't make one.

The idea that reasoning depends on faith doesn't contradict the conversion of Strobel because Strobel had a faith in something called causality, which most human beings believe in. That is the belief that if I see a tree cut down on the side of the road, I believe that something cut down the tree, not that it happened spontaneously. Cause: chainsaw. Effect: cut down tree.

If you belief in cause and effect, you can reason back from that and conclude that God exists - Strobel did that. Faith begets reasoning which begets more faith. I have faith in the conclusions of reason.

This is where Kierkegaard gets off a little bit, substituting emotion for reason in this process. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt - there's a reason why, when we have encountered people in remote tribes around the world, they are all idol worshippers instead of evolutionists. The reason why is if you conclude that God exists and observe that life is a difficult struggle and things don't work out the way you want to, you conclude that God (or the gods) aren't happy with you and you need to appease them.

Therefore, I think the belief in causality, which may be arrived at by observing creation, is what Paul is referring to there.

But I've had a number of fellow Christians do their best to lob their favorite bits of Scripture at this or that problem, only to seem those verses bounce off of the reality of the problem like so many bullets off of Superman's chest.
Wrong Scripture, :p . It's not your favorite Scripture, it's the one you least want to believe and find the most annoying, if my personal experience is anything to go by.

Also, some problems are truly not spiritual, and over-spiritualizing them is unproductive. If I need a rock moved, I have found it useful to quit contemplating about why God put the rock there and just move the rock.
 
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When I don't know something, sometimes the best response is to look it up.


I agree with this. Kierkegaard was saying that even if the documents cannot be related to, God still can be, though the basis of faith in what the documents say. The documents aren't the focus, but who God is, and He is the same yesterday and today and forever.


I actually received this idea from Terry Eagleton, who is an unbeliever with a Catholic background. :p Perhaps you would enjoy reading Reason, Faith, and Revolution. Terry's argument is based on political realities, so it's more concrete and reliable than J.Budiszewski's How To Stay Christian in College. The problem is, I've seen support for this idea from believers and unbelievers, so it seems to be widely accepted as to the nature of reality.

Now I will concede that I was raised Protestant, probably under the guidance of Reformed Theology, but I have never heard of this Van Till character. It's possible that both Terry and Bud were influenced by him, but you or I would need to do an academic study and prove it.


How can reason exist without faith?

In order to reason about information given and come to a conclusion, I have to either believe that the information is true or reject the information based on other information that I believe to be true or conclude that I need more information to form a conclusion, which is merely kicking the can of reason down the road of time until more information arrives to support a conclusion.


Or we could try it another way and ask the dreadful questions:

1. Why does anything have to exist in the first place?
Answer: Because God wanted things to exist.
2. Why does God have to exist?
Answer: Because we exist, and if God did not exist, nothing would exist.
3. Nothing existing is preferable to something existing, because something is more complex in logical reasoning than negative infinity. Therefore, existence defies reason. Why should there be a reason for anything?
Answer: Because our existence is not explained by reason, but by God's desire to create. Desire is not within the bounds of reason.
4. That is a circular argument. God exists, therefore I exist, therefore God exists?
Answer: Circular arguments are bad reasoning, but since existence is in defiance of reason, my thoughts about it are outside of reasoning, so your criticism is invalid. :p Meanwhile, you have simply proven that nothing is more consistent with sound reasoning about existence than God.
5. But that is a pun...
Answer: It's still true. Therefore, something else must explain our existence, and that thing is faith. Otherwise, we may reasonably conclude that nothing is the state in which all things should be. And people wonder why the Enlightenment was violent and destructive.

Interestingly, the idea that reason depends on faith also seems to be consistent with Kierkegaard, at least according to the articles I read.





Thus, the author of this article argues that Kierkegaard is arguing for reason depending on faith as the means to solve Lessing's Ditch. :p Now you can argue that Michael A. Benton is wrong, but he is quoting Kierkegaard's Idem Postscript and Fragments directly, so I think he has a very solid argument.

I don't think this is "Reformed Theology" at all. There are sources before the Reformation that struggle with the problem of faith. The Confessions of Boethius comes to mind. I really think that the reason you reject this idea has nothing to do with Reformed theology and everything to do with existentialism. Which is fine, but I hope to improve your self-awareness.


So what you're saying is that my whole perception is greater than the sum of its parts and is Gestalt, correct?


Human minds do not contain truth in and of themselves. They are beings made in the image of God and so point to the truth of God outside of themselves. They are also not self-existent: God made them. Nor is the truth inside them self-existent: it comes from God, notably in whatever Scripture they believe to be true. Aseity is not the word I would use to describe that at all.


I mean, trees existed back in Paul's day and they obviously weren't built by human hands. While Paul's audience wouldn't have known all the details of a tree's existence, they would have at least known that it was beyond them and they couldn't make one.

The idea that reasoning depends on faith doesn't contradict the conversion of Strobel because Strobel had a faith in something called causality, which most human beings believe in. That is the belief that if I see a tree cut down on the side of the road, I believe that something cut down the tree, not that it happened spontaneously. Cause: chainsaw. Effect: cut down tree.

If you belief in cause and effect, you can reason back from that and conclude that God exists - Strobel did that. Faith begets reasoning which begets more faith. I have faith in the conclusions of reason.

This is where Kierkegaard gets off a little bit, substituting emotion for reason in this process. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt - there's a reason why, when we have encountered people in remote tribes around the world, they are all idol worshippers instead of evolutionists. The reason why is if you conclude that God exists and observe that life is a difficult struggle and things don't work out the way you want to, you conclude that God (or the gods) aren't happy with you and you need to appease them.

Therefore, I think the belief in causality, which may be arrived at by observing creation, is what Paul is referring to there.


Wrong Scripture, :p . It's not your favorite Scripture, it's the one you least want to believe and find the most annoying, if my personal experience is anything to go by.

Also, some problems are truly not spiritual, and over-spiritualizing them is unproductive. If I need a rock moved, I have found it useful to quit contemplating about why God put the rock there and just move the rock.

... wow! Although I've been known to occasionally misinterpret what other people are telling me even with the aid supplied to me by a handful of Philosophical Hermeneuticists and other Christian Philosophers, I'm feeling as if I've been expedited right on through the judge, jury and on into the waiting arms of the summary executioner. And to think that I was just about ready to do whatever was in my verbal power to keep my head on my shoulders.

Oh well! This is usually how it goes when I find myself attempting to matriculate with and among a number of other fellow Christians. Somehow, in the three and a half decades during which I've been a Christian I just never quite seem to be able to gain their mutual recognition. I guess I shouldn't be overly discouraged, though, since this is kind of how both Pascal and Kierkegaard-- rest their souls --often felt, too. So did Alice for that matter ... :rolleyes:

Might I, at this point, suggest that since we both 'be' allies where Christian faith is concerned, however differently we come at it, you take your prowess over to the forums here on CF where the various unbelievers reside and see how you fare there?
 
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... wow! Although I've been known to occasionally misinterpret what other people are telling me even with the aid supplied to me by a handful of Philosophical Hermeneuticists and other Christian Philosophers, I'm feeling as if I've been expedited right on through the judge, jury and on into the waiting arms of the summary executioner.
Yeah, I did feel like “reason depends on faith is Reformed Theology” was a very dead argument and that I was stepping over its corpse. :p

The argument may be dead, but you are not. If an intellectual argument collapses, you are still standing, and if it stands, you stand alongside it. One thing I have learned from years of intellectual debating is to never take a debate personally or to assume that someone else is taking something personally on the Internet. Every time I have done that, it has ended in disaster.

Perhaps I went too far by posting the existential questions, and I’m sorry if that came across as harsh. It’s just that this discussion reminded me of another forum discussion I had - someone actually posted those questions and got those answers. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings though.


Oh well! This is usually how it goes when I find myself attempting to matriculate with and among a number of other fellow Christians. Somehow, in the three and a half decades during which I've been a Christian I just never quite seem to be able to gain their mutual recognition.

I’m sorry this has happened. I recognize that you are a very talented debater. I’m sure you are very good when dealing with unbelievers.

What I have found over the years is that debate requires an authority that both you and the debate opponent agree upon, which all beliefs may be tested against. What you seem to be doing is using the scholarly academic theology sources as the authority for your arguments. Which is okay with me, since I’ve been to college and am happy to recognize that authority when it appears. This works great for unbelievers, as this is an authority they are likely to recognize. Sometimes, anyway.

The second thing that I have learned is that the people you are debating among dictate the debate authority, and not you. Typically, the debate authority among believers in Christ is not the Academic Theologians of Greatness or Kierkegaard, etc. The debate authority is the Scriptures. Most Christians know their Bible, but they don’t know about Kierkegaard or Van Till or even Terry Eagleton (that dude is English major as they come, heh) and they probably don’t care. And what I have found, though debate experiences across 3 major online communities and my English major education, is that trying to get people to recognize a debate authority they do not recognize is a fools errand. As ugly as this may sound, if you want to be recognized among believers for your debate skill, you will likely need to defer to the Scriptures to make your points.

In this case, though, this discussion was a bit blurry because we are two Christians talking about how best to deal with unbelievers’ approach to the Scriptures. Debating unbelievers actually seems like something you would be more proficient at than I in general. I largely gave up on debating unbelievers some years ago because I recognized that they would never recognize God as an authority and I thought it was an unproductive exercise in futility. However, if you have found an authority or authorities they will recognize that will help them submit to the ultimate Authority, then more power to you.

The big problem is, with no agreed-upon debate authority to test one’s beliefs against, I’m the debate authority or you are the debate authority, which leads into people taking things personally and the debate turns into a fight over who is the best authority on reality, heh. This is an emotionally draining exercise that I have grown weary of. At least if I’m talking with a fellow believer I can defer to the Scripture as a backstop if things start to go that way. This diffuses the situation…eventually.

Might I, at this point, suggest that since we both 'be' allies where Christian faith is concerned, however differently we come at it, you take your prowess over to the forums here on CF where the various unbelievers reside and see how you fare there?
Thank you for the compliment. I think that offer is good, and I accept, though it may take some time before I go back to debating unbelievers. I probably have some things to learn before I do that.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Yeah, I did feel like “reason depends on faith is Reformed Theology” was a very dead argument and that I was stepping over its corpse. :p

The argument may be dead, but you are not. If an intellectual argument collapses, you are still standing, and if it stands, you stand alongside it. One thing I have learned from years of intellectual debating is to never take a debate personally or to assume that someone else is taking something personally on the Internet. Every time I have done that, it has ended in disaster.

Perhaps I went too far by posting the existential questions, and I’m sorry if that came across as harsh. It’s just that this discussion reminded me of another forum discussion I had - someone actually posted those questions and got those answers. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings though.
Oh, don't worry. You didn't hurt my feelngs. You can post whatever questions and answers you feel you want to post.

I’m sorry this has happened. I recognize that you are a very talented debater. I’m sure you are very good when dealing with unbelievers.

What I have found over the years is that debate requires an authority that both you and the debate opponent agree upon, which all beliefs may be tested against. What you seem to be doing is using the scholarly academic theology sources as the authority for your arguments. Which is okay with me, since I’ve been to college and am happy to recognize that authority when it appears. This works great for unbelievers, as this is an authority they are likely to recognize. Sometimes, anyway.

The second thing that I have learned is that the people you are debating among dictate the debate authority, and not you. Typically, the debate authority among believers in Christ is not the Academic Theologians of Greatness or Kierkegaard, etc. The debate authority is the Scriptures. Most Christians know their Bible, but they don’t know about Kierkegaard or Van Till or even Terry Eagleton (that dude is English major as they come, heh) and they probably don’t care. And what I have found, though debate experiences across 3 major online communities and my English major education, is that trying to get people to recognize a debate authority they do not recognize is a fools errand. As ugly as this may sound, if you want to be recognized among believers for your debate skill, you will likely need to defer to the Scriptures to make your points.

In this case, though, this discussion was a bit blurry because we are two Christians talking about how best to deal with unbelievers’ approach to the Scriptures. Debating unbelievers actually seems like something you would be more proficient at than I in general. I largely gave up on debating unbelievers some years ago because I recognized that they would never recognize God as an authority and I thought it was an unproductive exercise in futility. However, if you have found an authority or authorities they will recognize that will help them submit to the ultimate Authority, then more power to you.

The big problem is, with no agreed-upon debate authority to test one’s beliefs against, I’m the debate authority or you are the debate authority, which leads into people taking things personally and the debate turns into a fight over who is the best authority on reality, heh. This is an emotionally draining exercise that I have grown weary of. At least if I’m talking with a fellow believer I can defer to the Scripture as a backstop if things start to go that way. This diffuses the situation…eventually.
Do you want the honest to goodness truth? I rather dislike debate, and my approach to the subjects of both Philosophy and Theology (in that precise order, really) is one of exploration rather than that of a verbal fisticuff. I've always been a rather lousy debater, and this was especially the case back when I was in college.

As for an authority, I figure Reality is all the authority I need to recognize since it has a tendency to bite me on the posterior from time to time and wake me up from various forms of wishful thinking and confirmation bias It can also sometimes help us wave our way through the cobwebs of a lingering Dunning-Kruger effect. At least, I know tht experiencing and observing Reality has always done this for me. I suppose, too, that I have something to be particularly grateful for since with my only average IQ, I'm probably lucky to even be aware of my own limitations. Not everyone is, unfortunately. I'm also aware of the limited value of debate and I tend to think it provides a rather shallow benefit most of the time, especially where the Bible is concerned.

And don't get me wrong. I do value the Bible and it is an authority for me, just not in the same way it is for some others here. Being epistemologically crippled as I am, I can only do this after I've recognized and done my best to wrestle with the hurdles that exist due to science and skepticism, particularly this side of Darwin.

Thank you for the compliment. I think that offer is good, and I accept, though it may take some time before I go back to debating unbelievers. I probably have some things to learn before I do that.
I'm sure you'll have some interesting conversations here, and you'll most certainly give folks here something to think about.
 
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linux.poet

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Do you want the honest to goodness truth? I rather dislike debate, and my approach to the subjects of both Philosophy and Theology (in that precise order, really) is one of exploration rather than that of a verbal fisticuff. I've always been a rather lousy debater, and this was especially the case back when I was in college.
I'm really sorry. I interpreted this post in my introduction thread as you liking debate:

Just make yourself at home first here on CF. I'm sure we can find some things to disagree on later ...

I will endeavor to avoid entangling you into debates you may not wish to be in. I absolutely love debate and find it rather entertaining, but it is not for everyone, so I know better than to drag those who do not wish to be in it, into the fray. I'm glad we got this cleared up.

You seem to be quite knowledgeable in the areas you have explored. It seems that this discussion started off well with new avenues for you to explore about the DH and then veered off in the wrong direction. Heh.

I find myself attempting to matriculate with and among a number of other fellow Christians.
What does "matriculate" mean in this context? The word means "go to a college or university" so ???

As for an authority, I figure Reality is all the authority I need to recognize since it has a tendency to bite me on the posterior from time to time and wake me up from various forms of wishful thinking and confirmation bias
I prefer God's sovereignty :p . It's the same thing, only it's more Christian terminology so everyone accepts it more readily. :p

It can also sometimes help us wave our way through the cobwebs of a lingering Dunning-Kruger effect. At least, I know tht experiencing and observing Reality has always done this for me. I suppose, too, that I have something to be particularly grateful for since with my only average IQ, I'm probably lucky to even be aware of my own limitations. Not everyone is, unfortunately.
Heh, my life is still a comedy series. Why did it take me 10 years to get through college, again? I seem to have misplaced all of the information my mind was supposed to have about getting a job and living a normal life. It is God who is sufficient and gracious, not lowly I.

IQ tests usually refer to one's proficiency in science and math. They don't measure proficiency in writing, theology, philosophy, or debate. In terms of philosophy/theology, and debate, I'd say you're far above average.

I'm also aware of the limited value of debate and I tend to think it provides a rather shallow benefit most of the time, especially where the Bible is concerned.
I disagree with you on this, and am willing to debate you on it. :sunglasses: But not in this thread. It needs a new topic of its own, and if you do not wish to debate that, I shall leave you be.

And don't get me wrong. I do value the Bible and it is an authority for me, just not in the same way it is for some others here. Being epistemologically crippled as I am, I can only do this after I've recognized and done my best to wrestle with the hurdles that exist due to science and skepticism, particularly this side of Darwin.
I'm sorry that you have this struggle. I don't understand it, but I pray that God will help you find your way out of it.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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I'm really sorry. I interpreted this post in my introduction thread as you liking debate:
I only find debate useful if it is a part of a very low key friendly discussion involving research on a topic of mutual interest. What I hate is becoming embroiled in situations where folks spout their uneducated opinions at each other, especially if and when they do as a face--or a pretension-- for political lobbying.

Moreover, in the 12 years that I've been on CF and involved in this or that debate, I've noticed that dozens of posts can be exchanged on some one, singular nuance of a larger topic ... all the while no one learns anything or makes progress towards gaining a more coherent stance for his point of view. To me, that kind of exchange is essentially a waste of time.

I will endeavor to avoid entangling you into debates you may not wish to be in. I absolutely love debate and find it rather entertaining, but it is not for everyone, so I know better than to drag those who do not wish to be in it, into the fray. I'm glad we got this cleared up.
Yeah, some people are competitive by nature. I can't say that I share that streak as an aesthetic pastime, especially if I know that I'm facing off against a person with whom I likely disagree on just about everything.

You seem to be quite knowledgeable in the areas you have explored. It seems that this discussion started off well with new avenues for you to explore about the DH and then veered off in the wrong direction. Heh.
Oh, I don't know that it's veered off in a "wrong direction" as much as it has reoriented itself on another aspect of the web in which we're both entangled.


What does "matriculate" mean in this context? The word means "go to a college or university" so ???
In this case, it means that when I show up to "sunday school" on my flaming bike, my presence isn't something which fellow Christians readily find themselves amenable to. But from what we find in the overall history of the Christian Church, even from the few peeks we might make into the presence of factional squabbling that we Christians are so good at, I guess I shouldn't be overly surprised that I shouldn't be readily accepted.

I prefer God's sovereignty :p . It's the same thing, only it's more Christian terminology so everyone accepts it more readily. :p
Oh, I didn't say anything about reality as I see it somehow excluding the sovereignty of God. I'm merely alluding to Reality in the frame of meaning that it is bigger and more complicated than any one of us may want to admit to. In other words, we can't always easily box up and distribute our viewpoints that we may so favor, especially where specific Christian denominations and their respective views on interpreting the Bible come into the play of the game.


Heh, my life is still a comedy series. Why did it take me 10 years to get through college, again? I seem to have misplaced all of the information my mind was supposed to have about getting a job and living a normal life. It is God who is sufficient and gracious, not lowly I.
Ditto.

IQ tests usually refer to one's proficiency in science and math. They don't measure proficiency in writing, theology, philosophy, or debate. In terms of philosophy/theology, and debate, I'd say you're far above average.
Thanks, I appreciate the sentiment, but as they say, in the wash, "beauty is as beauty does." And in the wash of human interaction, I don't expect to be seen as being very beautiful where my intelligence is concerned.

I disagree with you on this, and am willing to debate you on it. :sunglasses: But not in this thread. It needs a new topic of its own, and if you do not wish to debate that, I shall leave you be.
ok.

I'm sorry that you have this struggle. I don't understand it, but I pray that God will help you find your way out of it.
Actually, the kind of "wrestling" I was attempting to allude to isn't the kind that necessarily involves the onset of emotional disequilibrium. I suppose, though, that for some folks it could, but I don't think all discordance we may encounter between the Bible and fuller Reality has to end in either severe cognitive dissonance or "Sartrean nausea."

Then again, I guess I can admit that the present of Hermeneutics and Philosophy has helped me in those more caustic investigations of a world that is unfriendly to Biblical thinking.
 
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Akita Suggagaki

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As for an authority, I figure Reality is all the authority I need to recognize since it has a tendency to bite me on the posterior from time to time and wake me up from various forms of wishful thinking and confirmation bias It can also sometimes help us wave our way through the cobwebs of a lingering Dunning-Kruger effect.
Even reality can be misinterpreted. We have alternate truth now.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Even reality can be misinterpreted. We have alternate truth now.

Yes, you're right. Sometimes this is the case, but if we are traversing via Hermeneutics, we can be fully aware of how and why certain interpretations (or misinterpretions) are perpetuated among this or that group.

As for Reality, I differentiate between truth and reality; they are, for me, not synonymous conceptual entities.
 
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linux.poet

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What I hate is becoming embroiled in situations where folks spout their uneducated opinions at each other, especially if and when they do as a face--or a pretension-- for political lobbying.

Moreover, in the 12 years that I've been on CF and involved in this or that debate, I've noticed that dozens of posts can be exchanged on some one, singular nuance of a larger topic ... all the while no one learns anything or makes progress towards gaining a more coherent stance for his point of view. To me, that kind of exchange is essentially a waste of time.
I agree with both of these points. Previously I have had some success in breaking up some of the meaningless mindless dogmatic clashing and inspiring the participants to think, but I don't bother with it very often unless I care about the subject in question. I prefer productive debates to unproductive ones.

Oh, I didn't say anything about reality as I see it somehow excluding the sovereignty of God. I'm merely alluding to Reality in the frame of meaning that it is bigger and more complicated than any one of us may want to admit to. In other words, we can't always easily box up and distribute our viewpoints that we may so favor, especially where specific Christian denominations and their respective views on interpreting the Bible come into the play of the game.
These are probably good thoughts that I should listen to, especially since it comes with 12 years of experience behind it. But I did mean God's sovereignty = reality.

In this case, it means that when I show up to "sunday school" on my flaming bike, my presence isn't something which fellow Christians readily find themselves amenable to.
You actually have a flaming bike? Respect.

Though I wonder whether the bike is the reason why acceptance is slow in coming. Generally speaking, bikers aren't the most widely accepted folks.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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These are probably good thoughts that I should listen to, especially since it comes with 12 years of experience behind it. But I did mean God's sovereignty = reality.
Well then, we're virtually on the same playing field. Almost. ;)


You actually have a flaming bike? Respect.

Though I wonder whether the bike is the reason why acceptance is slow in coming. Generally speaking, bikers aren't the most widely accepted folks.
Maybe you're right. Perhaps I was a little presumptious in expecting the right hand of fellowship from biblical literalists. Do you think I should stop attending sunday school at Westboro Baptist Church and find another one where participants can engage hermeneutics (and the use of metaphor) on a more appreciative level? :rolleyes:
 
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linux.poet

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Do you think I should stop attending sunday school at Westboro Baptist Church and find another one where participants can engage hermeneutics (and the use of metaphor) on a more appreciative level? :rolleyes:
Yes, definitely.

Maybe you're right. Perhaps I was a little presumptious in expecting the right hand of fellowship from biblical literalists.
Um, I don't think it has anything to do with interpreting the Bible literally. It has more to do with people being afraid that you are enticing them (or worse, their young and vulnerable children) into sin, generally speaking. This fear is on them and isn't your fault.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Yes, definitely.


Um, I don't think it has anything to do with interpreting the Bible literally. It has more to do with people being afraid that you are enticing them (or worse, their young and vulnerable children) into sin, generally speaking. This fear is on them and isn't your fault.

From what you've just said, it kind of sounds like a few folks are paranoid. Maybe they should challenge their own pre-boxed, denominational assumptions? Then again, I understand that not everyone has the time or the aptitude to do so. So, my expectations of others are only moderate...

Now that we have that cleared up, what would you like to talk about in relation to Biblical Criticsm and/or Bibliology and Hermeneutics? Or ff you'd like to stop here in this conversation, that's ok. I'd hate to hold you up from debates you'd like to have with others here on CF. :cool:
 
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Akita Suggagaki

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Maybe they should challenge their own pre-boxed, denominational assumptions?
Many people have a lot invested in their church affiliation. Family, connections and history, etc. As a Catholic baptized one month old, I would find it hard to leave. But I am capable of looking critically at it all. Which brings up another issue. Inner tension. I think of it like a dysfunctional family. For all the problems it is family and I am a loyal kind of guy. Fortunately it is also a big tent. My first encounter with Biblical Criticism was in Catholic seminary. I loved it. Like pulling back the curtain.
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Many people have a lot invested in their church affiliation. Family, connections and history, etc. As a Catholic baptized one month old, I would find it hard to leave. But I am capable of looking critically at it all. Which brings up another issue. Inner tension. I think of it like a dysfunctional family. For all the problems it is family and I am a loyal kind of guy. Fortunately it is also a big tent. My first encounter with Biblical Criticism was in Catholic seminary. I loved it. Like pulling back the curtain.

That's a brilliant way of describing the situation, Akita!
 
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