Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Arrogant"

Zeteo Eurisko said:

“Why do you guys on this blog project such arrogance towards the legitimate questions posed by skeptics? Do you not even recognize that the Bible stating that 800,000 = 1.1 million should raise a query or two? It should be noted that your response is almost all attitude and commentary with very few actual answers to the questions raised. Nonetheless, here is another one: how do you define inerrancy? If you say that the scriptures were inspired in their orignial autographs, what prevents a God who inspires men to write from inspiring men to preserve what was written?”

i) Let’s get real for a moment. Dagood wasn’t asking innocent questions. He wasn’t seeking information.

What he did was to contrive a tendentious multiple-choice exam consisting in a series leading, trick questions designed to make the Bible look bad no matter what answer a Christian examiner selected. The whole thing was rigged.

So let’s not pretend that this was ever about asking innocuous questions to solicit informative answers.

ii) As far as the “arrogant” tone is concerned, in much of my reply my wording was a verbatim reproduction of his very own wording.

So is my tone arrogant, but his tone is not—even though I’m merely reproducing his tone? How does that distinction work, exactly?

iii) But if you’re so concerned about the tone, remember that not all of the T-bloggers assume the same tone.

For example, Jason Engwer is a model of charity. So what do you think of Jason’s replies?

iv) Actually, I gave very direct answers to the major “questions” raised by Dagood.

As to your own question:

a) The inerrancy of the copies has never figured in the inerrancy of Scripture or the traditional doctrine of inspiration.

b) Nothing “prevents” God from inspiring the scribe. But it’s unnecessary. Life is generally governed by ordinary providence.

Our MSS of the OT and NT are quite adequate to the task.

13 comments:

  1. Allow me to back off the arrogance claim. I find tone difficult to read on the Internet, and perhaps I have inferred intent in this and other posts that was not intended by the authors. I will give you the same benefit of the doubt that I would like for someone to give me. I am new to your blog. I don’t want to get into a flame war because there are some important issues being discussed.

    Perhaps a better way of stating my comment would be this. Despite what you might think of the person asking the question and what you might infer their intent to be, there are plenty of folks that read your blogs strictly for the content of the answer. For example, I have been repeatedly invited to join the Debunking Christianity blog. Thus far, I have politely declined because it is not my goal to debunk Christianity – I am still asking questions. But I must say that I have respect for the bloggers at Debunking Christianity because they voice some of the very questions that are of interest to me. Thus, I suppose my comment was an expression of frustration at perceiving (perhaps incorrectly) that yet another Internet discussion was devolving into a war of personalities rather than a content-focused intellectual exchange. Perhaps I jumped the gun and laid the blame entirely at your feet prematurely. This much is said to explain myself further and get back to the discussion.

    Thus, back to my honest query for you. Adequacy is not the question. Inerrancy is. The question remains unanswered: why would God bother to directly inspire authors and not take an intervening role in preserving the text? Asking the question from another angle: if the preservation of scripture is clearly the work of fallible men, could not the authorship be as well? Most importantly, how do we tell the difference?

    To Ken:
    I think it is not a legitimate response to state that “Dagood's questions and objections arise out of an apparent unfamiliarity with important issues in textual criticism.” A Biblical assertion that 800,000 = 1.1 million cannot be ignored by stating that Dagood does not understand how textual criticism can explain that away.

    To Patrick:
    Each of the folks at Debunking Christianity has a different goal, though they are united under a provocative title. Is this not just a clear statement of position? What would you have them call themselves? Apparently you have labeled them fools. Since I have many of the same questions that they do – though not, perhaps, the same intent – I perceive that you might group me in the same category. Without any commentary on their intent or yours, can we, for the sake of those who, like myself, have legitimate, honest concerns, keep the dialogue away from such vituperation? The Bible described the Bareans as “noble-minded” – not as fools – for questioning whether the word of the apostles was true. I see myself no differently.

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  2. Zeteo,

    I, like you, read these "dialogues" for their content. With any dialogue that is essentially a disagreement, frustration gives rise to less than charitable comments. It comes with the territory though I believe that one should always take the high road as much as possible.

    However, there is a world of difference between those at "Debunking Christianity" and the Bereans. The Bereans tested what the apostles said against Scripture. They were called "noble-minded" not so much because they tested what the apostles said, but because their yardstick was scripture. DC tests scripture against their materialistic worldview and denies it's authenticity and validity. The result is a denial of God. Remember the bible is clear that a fool says in his heart there is no God.

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  3. Where would you put the person that asks if there is a god?

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  4. The anti-supernaturalistic presupposition we have does factor into how we read the Bible. What you don't seem to realize is that your supernaturalistic presupposition factors into how you read the Bible too.

    Rephrasing your own words: Triablogue tests the materialistic worldview against the Bible and denies it's authenticity and validity. The result is an affirmation of God.

    I have shared reasons why I reject your presupposition, but I don't usually call you fools or idiots. Our presuppositions are different, so we see things different. But none of us at DC (and none of you) are idiots.

    Thank you for the bytes. Now back to your regularly scheduled diatribes, unphased by what I just said.

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  5. ZE --

    It says quite a bit (at least to me) that despite being asked to join Debunking Christianity, you've not done so, and you still view yourself as seeking legitimate answers for legitimate questions.

    That's fair enough, and I do appreciate it.

    Re: the "fools" comment.

    I don't see your position akin to that of the Bereans, per se.

    The Bereans were predominantly Jews (along with "God-fearers") who at a minimum believed in the God of the Bible. They were examing whether what Paul and Silas were proclaiming about Jesus was in fact true, and in line with the Bible (OT) itself. In other words, they were not questioning whether God existed or whether the God of the Bible was the one, true God, as far as I can tell.

    Please correct me if I'm mistaken, of course, but your own position would not accept the God of the Bible, would it?

    One last point.

    The Bible itself explicitly describes those who say there is no God as "fools" (cf. Ps. 14:1; 53:1).

    Since I take the Bible to be the Word of God, then, despite the fact that our society happens to have enshrined "doubt" as a positive virtue (if not the summum bonum of all virtues), I'll likewise acknowledge that it has a greater perspective on the hearts of atheists than I do when it calls them "fools."

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  6. Zeteo, I don't have a problem with anyone "questioning" the bible and I hardly consider you a fool for doing so. As a christian there are many things that I question and continue to work through. However, I was simply pointing out that your personal comparison to the Bereans is a bad one. Precisely because of the point John Loftus raised. Their exhortation as noble-minded was precisely because of their supernaturalistic presuppositions, the fact that they compared everything the apostles said to scripture. Not because they simply questioned.

    I re-iterated what the bible says about those whose "questioning" is solely to discredit a belief in God as revealed in scripture. And let's be honest the "questioning" of those at DC is just for that purpose. Their so-called "questions" proceed their conclusions. Their questions are phrased in the form (and tone)of, "You gotta be a numbskull to believe this!!"

    If you felt I was lumping you in with them I wasn't, so I apologize for that.

    John, you may not call those at Triablogue fools directly but it is evident that is what you think and what you imply. Just look at the way you responded. Yes the thought had crossed my mind that Triablogue and I work from a supernatutalistic pressuposition approach to the bible. All the more reason for us to take it at it's word, don't you think? By stating what I did I wasn't implying that you (and DC)lack intelligence or reasoning. I am sure that you could argue me into the ground. I was simply stating that your conclusions, in light of a SP reading of the bible, are foolish. That is what I believe Triablogue imply when using those terms. Though I would not even pretend to speak for them - simply my conclusion.

    From that perspective I would assume it would be a badge you'd wear with pride. Just as the bible also claims that, to the world, our supernaturalistic presuppositional biblical wisdom is foolishness. In that context, if you call me a fool, it would be an honor.

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  7. Excuse me. I only now noticed that warrenl made the same points I did re: the "fools" statement. Sorry for the redundancy.

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  8. WarrenL and Patrick Chan,

    I would ask that rather than cite only one phrase out of one verse, you take the opportunity to read all of Psalm 14 and its parallel, Psalm 53.

    Further, I would hope you ask yourselves two questions:

    1) Is the Psalmist talking about actions or beliefs?
    2) And is he poetically including all humans, or a certain selection?

    Thanks.

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  9. DagoodS:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I've read both Psalm 14 and 53.

    Paul likewise quotes from them in Rom. 3:10-18 and makes relevant application therein.

    Based on this I think it would be fair not only to apply the verse to someone who explicitly denies God in statement but likewise to someone who, though professing a belief in God, even the God of the Bible, by his or her life in essence does the same.

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  10. Okay Warren L.

    You're a fool!
    You are a fool.
    A Fool you are.
    FOOL!

    Since you twisted language to make this such an honor, wear it proudly. Display it on your T-Shirt: DC founder called me a FOOL! ;-)

    Do you really mean that? And is this the type of conversation you really want?

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  11. Dagoods, I also read Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 in light of Romans 1:21-23. (Patrick, you and I seem to be on the same wavelength.)

    John, I've actually thought that you have raised some really interesting objections to Christianity over the last few weeks. Things that I have tried to think through in depth (as opposed to your assumption that I am unphased by what you say). A friend actually bought your book and we have spent a few evenings over the past few weeks discussing it.

    But this latest schoolyard taunt makes me wonder. So really why do you care if a Christian calls you a fool based on their reading of Psalm 14? I mean you have "seen the light" and know better don't you??

    In answer to your question, I really don't care what you call me because of what I believe. If I am called a fool because of my commitment to the Gospel so be it. (According to GfS I am a homophobic mysoginist fundamentalist. Fool seems rather tame in that light.)

    Do I prefer civil conversation to ad hominem. Absolutely. But please don't twist my language to insinuate that I get my kicks by personally calling you and your DC friends fools and that's the only type of conversation I am interested in.

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  12. Patrick Chan and WarrenL,

    Believe it or not, the only reason that I care is that I do not think it is Biblically warranted by Psalm14/53.

    You both relied on Paul in Romans as support for this position. But look at what Paul says. Patrick Chan, you cited Romans 3:10-18. But this is merely quoting the verses. How does Paul introduce his interpretation of the Psalm in the preceding verse?

    “What shall we conclude then? Are we better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles are all alike under sin.” (emphasis added)

    And then he quotes both Psalms for the proposition that ALL have turned away from God. The idea presented is that everyone sins. “The Fool” of Psalms is everybody, atheist, theist or otherwise. You may be correct in calling me a fool, but I am in good company! :-)

    WarrenL, you cite Romans 1:21-23. What does Paul continue on, to indicate these foolish people? He lists a whole bunch of sins. The, “foolishness” of Psalms is equated with actions, specifically sin. See also: Mt. 7:26 (doing the words of Jesus), Mark 7:22, Luke 11:40, Gal. 3:1, Eph 5:4, Eph. 5:15, and Titus 3:3.

    Further, Paul calls himself “foolish” 1 Cor. 4:10, 2 Cor. 11:16, and 2 Cor. 11:21-23.

    Yet Paul also calls the wisdom of the world foolish. 1 Cor. 1:18-25, 1 Cor. 3:19, and Titus 3:9

    Simply put, “fool” has various meanings, depending on where one reads. And the “fool” of Psalms is talking about actions, in my opinion, not atheism.

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  13. Dagoods,
    My beliefs and convictions tend to have a direct effect on my actions. Often not to the extent that I would like them to. Although you separate the two I don't think it's as simple as that. Actions may be directly addressed in these portions but ultimately we come under his judgement because of our sinful nature.

    Having considered your statements, I actually agree with you. According to Psalm 14 and 53, we all have the same starting point. We are all born fools. In that sense you are right. I cannot only apply Psalm 14:1 to atheists.

    But according to the portions mentioned, although we have the same starting point we do not have the same end point. In verse 4 of Psalm 14 we begin to see a distinction between the evildoers and God's people. The same is true of Romans. Following Romans 3:19-20 is a discourse on righteousness through faith in Christ. In Rom 3:22-24, Paul separates out a group of people who believe, those who put their faith in Christ. This is a consistent theme throughout Romans.

    So those who say "There is no God" are fools according to the bible and those who put their faith in Christ become fools in the eyes of the world. We understand our own foolishness and therefore our total reliance on Christ and God's work in our lives.

    P.s. And remember I was throwing in my two cents worth in as to why DC are labelled fools on this blog site.

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